My Nemesis

Fantastic book cover design by Chip Kidd using an early Van Gogh painting.

Fantastic book cover design by Chip Kidd using an early Van Gogh painting.

A couple days ago I spent most of the night painting and laughing while listening to “When You Are Engulfed In Flames” on CD, written and read by David Sedaris.  It’s not continuously uproarious like a comedy album, it kind of sneaks up on you.  Sedaris lulls you into a story and then gooses you with some funny twist of words or extremely well projected image that you can’t help but bark out loud to.  I was having a great time and I felt like my good mood was rubbing off on the painting, like I was really *nailing* this incredibly complicated boom box that I had, in a moment of pure insanity, decided it would be “fun” to paint.  (Fabulous reference and inspiration courtesy of the Boombox Museum.)

Back when I worked at Franklin Furnace in NYC, I’d actually helped select Sedaris to be part of our performance calendar but it was the year I was leaving and I wasn’t there by the time he came to perform.  I went to see the show anyway but didn’t get to spend the week hanging out with him and I was bummed, especially as he got quite famous soon after and it would have been fun to pretend, even to myself, that we’d been chummy.  Listening to his books though, it seems like even making his acquaintance in passing is dangerous — you might turn up in one of his stories as a complete asshole and all your friends would recognize you.

Anyway I was happily painting away at midnight when Marcos came home from playing ice hockey (they lost but he was seeing the “glass half full” of not having to play a late game on Wednesday).  As he came into the studio behind me I couldn’t stop painting, I was in the zone, man!  And I was waiting to hear “Wow, that looks so real I feel like I could reach out and twiddle the knobs!” but instead there was this silence.  That’s always a bad sign, even if it’s very brief, because it means he’s calculating how mad I’m going to be when he tells me what he’s really thinking, which in this case was:  “You should probably be using a ruler for all those straight lines.”  “What are you talking about?” Was I not in the zone?  “Do those lines look straight to you?” he asked simply. “Yes, yes they do, they look really really straight.” I growled.

I was mad because I knew the minute he left the room I’d look at the damn painting and it would dissolve into a heap of scattered, odd-angled matchsticks, that the boom box would look like Duchamp’s “Nude Descending a Staircase” instead of machined metal.  And I was pissed.  Because he’s always right, and I have *no* idea where my ruler is.

To be clear, *this* is my nemesis (not Marcos).

To be clear, *this* is my nemesis (not Marcos).

Did you guys know that Nemesis was the ancient Greek spirit of divine punishment?  I didn’t, I just looked it up. She is the “implacable executrix of justice”.  Sounds like a comic book vigilante superhero.  Maybe if I make her some kind of offering I can nail this damn boom box….


2 responses to “My Nemesis

  1. Alice Stribling

    I believe that you have to have a masters in engineering to even attempt to paint that sort of thing.

  2. Why can we never make things easy on ourselves? And why must we always surround ourselves with maddening creatures of both brilliance and brutal honesty?

    Give Marcos a pinch from me. 😉

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