Art Vent

Letting the Fresh Air In


Art Vent Letting the Fresh Air In

May 28, 2008

The perfect illustration contributed by reader Sid Garrison [via] [via]

Why don't you try actually listening to Billy Joel? His technique of songwriting is classically based and quite clever. You might find that you enjoy those ingenious 'earworms'.

After my post of yesterday, Anonymous, in the comments, makes a reasonable enough request, however I’m afraid I can never have a relationship with Billy, musical or otherwise, after he revealed himself in “Just The Way You Are” to be a passive/aggressive control freak.

Let’s analyze the lyrics:

Don’t go changing, to try and please me
You never let me down before
Don’t imagine you’re too familiar
And I don’t see you anymore
I wouldn’t leave you in times of trouble
We never could have come this far
I took the good times, I’ll take the bad times
I’ll take you just the way you are.

Sounds good, huh? Well this is just where he ropes you in because then he says:

Don’t go trying some new fashion
Don’t change the color of your hair
You always have my unspoken passion
Although I might not seem to care

What’s the message here? Don’t be creative? Stay your dowdy old self? I have a feeling this guy is jealous, afraid you might be too attractive to other men. And further (at least he lets you know this up front), he’s withholding. What fun, may I ask, is “unspoken passion” with a guy who “might not seem to care”? What’s in this for me?

But it gets worse.

I don’t want clever conversation
I never want to work that hard
I just want someone I can talk to
I want you just the way you are.

Oh great! Dumb yourself down for this guy who, since he views interesting conversation as hard work, may not be all that smart himself. Further, he just wants someone he can talk to—not someone who talks back. I suggest he get a cocker spaniel.

I need to know that you’ll always be
The same old someone that I knew
What will it take ‘til you believe in me
The way that I believe in you?

He wants you to be “the same old someone”? That’s appealing. And what will it take for you to believe in him? How about the freedom to change and grow, bleach your hair, join the Peace Corps, gain weight, lose weight, get a tattoo or another degree, and be whomever you want, whenever you want. How about the assurance that it’s not all about him?

I said I love you, and that’s forever
And this I promise from the heart
I could not love you any better
I love you just the way you are.

Girls, forewarned is forearmed. If you meet a guy who says this is his favorite song, run!

And lest you be thinking I don’t have a soft side, I leave you with this:

Who kicked a hole in the sky so the heavens would cry over me?
Who stole the soul from the sun in a world come apart at the seams?
Let there be love...
January 25, 2008
How do I love my iPod? Let me count the ways. And I’m grateful for my GPS, too. Even though its performance is uneven, I cannot forget that it has extracted me more than once from driving hell (otherwise known as Boston). But yesterday they both let me down. At the same time. It was a long drive through the frozen tundra of upper Vermont to the Vermont Studio Center (VSC) in Johnson, which is even north of Burlington, if that’s possible, when my iPod began playing music from a band I swear I’ve never heard (lyrics: “Shut your mouth. Shut your mouth. Put your head back in the clouds and shut your mouth”—sound familiar to anyone?), while the readout said something else entirely. It was supposedly on shuffle and it would say it was playing, say, Air or Kasabian, when it was really just this one band, and not a great one at that. I might have written before about the time my iPod insisted on playing nothing but Oasis, the entire repertoire, until it got a grip on itself and went back to normal, but to think that a machine could share one of my obsessions only made me feel more affectionately toward it. This new quirk, however, just seemed perverse. Especially since, at the same time, my GPS, which had successfully gotten me through the twists and turns of Rutland, was now telling me in no uncertain terms to STAY RIGHT, TURN RIGHT!!! on Route 109 when I thought I should keep going on Route 100. Really, having a GPS is like being married (“I SAID TURN RIGHT, DAMMIT!”) except it doesn’t get upset if I stop at a red light I could have gotten through on the yellow, or choose a parking spot that’s not the absolute closest one to where we’re going. Anyway, I was 99% certain I was headed in the right direction—the analog technology I consulted (a map) confirmed it, plus my car has a built-in compass, plus I’d been there before—but nagging doubt stayed with me as I put fifty plus miles between me and Route 109, fifty plus miles of winding mountain roads, icy uninhabited flats and signs that said things like, “Moose crossing next 8 miles.” I went through the town of “Irasville” (surely I’d remember that name if I’d been there before, wouldn’t I?), and past The Church of the Crucified One (now there’s a place that could use a corporate sponsored name-change). Not to speak of a chocolate shop that turned out to be an outlet for “seconds” and “over-runs”—I’m addicted to chocolate, but not that addicted. It was only when I went through Stowe, and Route 100 met Route 15 at a restaurant called “Wok ‘n Roll,” (which I did remember), that I knew I was home free. Meanwhile my iPod…well, I haven’t turned it on yet this morning but I’m hoping it’s come to its senses.

Sculptor Judith Shea, who I know from when we were Senior Critics at Penn together, gave the lecture here at VSC last night and I give mine tonight. The temperature on this sunny morning is –5 degrees, and since the kitchen is out of herbal tea, I’m drinking simply hot water, the way the Chinese do, and it’s an extremely effective warmer-upper. Tomorrow I begin five days of studio visits, every half hour or so, from 8:30 to noon.

Judith Shea, Icon, 2003-4, wood and bronze, 62 x 16 x 13". Photo by ruy sanchez blanco.