Art Vent

Letting the Fresh Air In


Art Vent Letting the Fresh Air In

October 23, 2009

Photo: Rachel Short

The wedding under the Big Sur redwoods was vivid and mythical (son Matt’s words), a true love fest—made even more so by the presence of Zach, Nick, Nora and Maisie, ages 3,4, 6 and 8, the children of both Michelle’s best friend and Matt’s step-sister. Today, reading “For Some Parents Shouting is the New Spanking” ("most emailed" in the Times), I thought about how happy and expressed everyone was, how the children intermingled with the adults for the entire weekend without incident—no tears, no drama—their presence adding significantly to the joyous vibe. I’ve observed that parents who yell and feel guilty about it tend to be those who are most afraid to assert themselves, letting bad behavior go until they can’t stand it anymore—like my friend who, instead of nipping it in the bud, used to tolerate her daughter’s endless whining before exploding (and 15 years later she still whines). The hallmark of such parents is the anxious “Okay?” they attach to every directive, as if begging permission from their children to set the terms. I can’t claim I never lost it as a parent, but I found that being clear and tenacious enabled me to truly enjoy my children (looking back, although my life has always had richness and depth, the time when my sons were small was the happiest of all—as well as the most artistically productive). The parents of the children at the wedding had done their work beforehand so could trust them to roam free and have a good time. Hardly repressed, here’s little Zach on the dance floor:

Thanks to DJs Mike B. & Adam Freeland for turning us all into dancing fools.
August 8, 2009

Yesterday was son Matt’s birthday and on October 16th, he and Michelle Nishikawa will be married at the Henry Miller Library in Big Sur. This is their account of the proposal, which I lifted from the wedding Web site:

When Michelle and Matt got engaged, well, let's just say it was a surprise... To her, that is. Here's how it all went down:

It was June 20th, one day before Michelle's birthday. Michelle was feeling haggard, coming back from her gastronomic pilgrimage to El Bulli, having made a 16-hour journey from Barcelona. Of course, that's when Matt decided to pop the "big question." He put on a dark suit paired with his Royal Elastics hightops, went to LAX's International Terminal and stood alongside the limo drivers holding signs emblazoned with the names of clients that they were picking up. Matt was also holding a sign; however, his sign read "Michelle!!! Will you MARRY ME?"

A woman saw Matt holding the sign, ran up to him and said "Yes!"

Michelle, meanwhile, saw Matt through the glass doors leading out from U.S. Customs, and was puzzled by his wardrobe. When, pushing a heavy luggage cart, Michelle finally exited, she saw the sign and promptly went into shock. Overcoming her initial puzzlement that her boyfriend was now a limo driver and the fact that she probably needed an Altoid, she rushed up to Matt and said "Yes! Yes! Yes!" Both began to cry. One strange man repeatedly told Michelle to stop crying, while another kind stranger helpfully pointed out she was turning red. At this point, Matt informed camera-shy Michelle that the proceedings were being caught on video: he had enlisted the couple's good friend Richard to be videographer, although Rich got excited and hit pause instead of record when Michelle first saw the sign. Rich did, however, get his wits together by the time Matt got down on his knees and officially asked Michelle to marry him, slipping a gleaming ring on her finger to an uproarious ovation from the surrounding crowd (except for the one mean lady who was mad that Michelle was blocking her way to the crosswalk).

The ring was my grandfather Carroll A. Haines's diamond pinky ring, which he's wearing in the photo below, taken by my father. It fits Michelle perfectly.