Detail from "Create Escape" by Banksy.

March 5, 2021
by Dave McClintock

Art: Banksy, Beautyist, Bob Dylan, and Brooklyn

This week, my evening scribbles thread of bundled bookmarks (you can tell I’m still figuring out what to call these) is focused on art.

In tough times, I’ve said to my family, “We’ve got to write our way out of this.”

Whether writing privately to someone or in journals or publicly in blogs or “real” publications, writing is a core survival tool for finding an exit when every direction appears to be blocked.

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Photo of the Endale Arch interior, in Prospect Park.

February 26, 2021
by Dave McClintock

Restoration: Statues, Buildings, and Brains

On a family Zoom last week, I found myself blurting “When the pandemic is over, everyone will forget what it was like, what we all went through. They’ll just ask, ‘Well, what have you accomplished in the last years?’”

I was speaking about professional, educational, or artistic accomplishments. I had a hunch that the kind of people who judge us for those things would forget the larger drama of these years, the weight and stress and loneliness and mourning that we all are going through. (And I write this with gratitude for everything I’ve been spared.)

Still, my blurt was probably harsh. I may only have put more stress on my family, being the voice of paranoia and excessive diligence.

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February 19, 2021
by Dave McClintock

Sounds of the City and a Barbaric Yawp

Today I’m threading some sounds that have reached me recently.

It started with birds, what sounded like a hundred tiny beaks chirping as fast as they could on my window sill, about an hour before I needed to wake up. Under the lead of an assertive, entrepreneurial leader, they discovered warm air leaking from the side panels of my air conditioner and decided to pile themselves like a pyramid of cannon balls and celebrate with monosyllabic bursts that tested what’s left of my high frequency hearing. The urgency of each cheep – cross-talking each other like a row of machine guns firing at once – suggested they expected some reward of food, maybe a million tiny worms dangling from the beak of their overlord.

At least, that’s what I imagined.

After fifteen minutes or so, once they were sure I was awake, they either moved on to murder someone else’s morning or decided to go silent. I haven’t heard them since.

More often, since last October, we’ve been awakened by an end of days sound that makes our hundred-year-old house in Brooklyn vibrate like a centenarian on four shots of espresso.

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February 12, 2021
by Dave McClintock

Time Management and 12022021

Today I’m threading time. (That is, I’m realizing as I write this that these things can be connected.)

First, I saw Catherine Clifford’s piece on “Why billionaire VC Marc Andreessen schedules every second of his day, including ‘critical’ free time.” Since the 90s, I’ve known Marc Andreessen is one of the smartest people in any room. I wondered if it would help me to schedule every day by the second, the way Marc (or his assistant) reportedly does, with healthy allowances for sleep, movies, and meditation. This weekend, I’ll try it. I already make appointments with myself at work, to force myself to move projects forward, on a much smaller, non-billionaire way. I doubt my schedule needs such a refined precision, though – no need to calibrate my shifts between scheduled activities in seconds.

Next, my brother and sister texted about the Lunar New Year of the ox. (Apparently it’s a Metal Ox – cool band name!) My wife is an ox. The description rings true: “Oxes are known for diligence, dependability, strength and determination.

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June 8, 2018
by Dave McClintock

Garry Wills and the Definition of Saint: Studs Terkel

Garry Wills has a great definition of “saint” in The New York Review of Books (June 7, 2018), in “The Art of the Schmooze,” a tribute to Studs Terkel:

“I considered him a saint, by the only definition that makes sense to me: a man or woman whose company you leave feeling that you should become a better person.”

And that you can be …

September 17, 2017
by Dave McClintock

The Reality of Seeing Laurie Anderson at Bryant Park Following Her Virtual Reality Award

Geez, I don’t have a photo. But here’s my recent sighting of Laurie Anderson.

On September 11, 2017, at about 6:40 pm, on the way home. Beautiful evening, perfect as the morning of 9/11 in New York. I walked through Bryant Park on 42nd Street in NYC.

My eyes focused on a small woman in the center plaza overlooking the grand lawn.

She was about as tall as my shoulder – with a Tibetan hat (crossed stripes, like a ski cap, hiding her hair) and loose clothes in muted colors.

To be honest, she looked like a ragged poetess who had at long last emerged from her apartment.

But seeing her face – it glowed with joy.

Was that Laurie Anderson?? I’m not sure – wouldn’t she have Secret Service or something all around her??

She turned toward the lawn and looked at the expanse of Bryant Park. Hundreds of happy people in lawn chairs and blankets, getting ready for a performance, hanging out.

She put her hand on her heart. The beauty hit her like a wave. She smiled.

She walked past me toward the New York Public Library, which borders Bryant Park. She was holding a notebook – it’s gotta be Laurie.

Per NYC rules, I didn’t stop her and ask for a selfie or babble about how much I love her.

Like rare birds, our most precious artists in NYC must be allowed to live their lives and absorb the world without dweebs like me interfering. I remembered refraining when I saw Laurie and Lou at Sheridan Square circa 2008. Uplifting.

Googling later on, I saw she had just won the 2017 Venice Film Festival Award for Best VR Experience, for the virtual-reality film La Camera Insabbiata, with Hsin-Chien Huang.

Check it out – as always, she’s ten steps ahead:

See also:

September 16, 2017
by Dave McClintock

Remembering Harry Dean Stanton at The Bottom Line

Rest in peace, Harry Dean Stanton. Circa 1988, I worked the ticket booth at The Bottom Line Cabaret on weekends, during the day, while I was at NYU. Stick thin, long-haired little weirdo. One rainy day, the night’s band was loading in. Suddenly, in the little yellow ticket booth, Harry Dean was next to me at the counter. No big production – it was as if he had worked at the club for years. He was singing that night – I was instantly starstruck – but he seemed to want to see the world through my eyes. Maybe he was slightly nervous – wanted to take it all in. Cubbyholes with stacks of tickets, cash drawer. Phone with punch buttons for five lines. He was one of those few famous people who rather than project celebrity uplifted your own humanity. (Among all the other performers at the Bottom Line, Herbie Hancock and Al Kooper also visited me like this. I’ll never forget them – or Harry.)