Hi Catalina: Another Blackwing spotted, no. 93, from Tabi, Zori and Topaz, resting on an Olympia Splendid 33. This one commemorates Corita Kent ‘and her mesage to slow down and find gratitude in the everyday…Each pencil features one of the six colorful brushstrokes that make up Corita’s iconic rainbow swash. Commissioned in 1971, the rainbow swash adorns a 140-foot-tall natural gas storage tank along Interstate 93 in Dorchester, Massachusetts…’
Kent, the latest issue of TypeTown (#7) rejigged their issue to include a homage to Meatloaf. There’s a picture of the back cover of the Blind Before I Stop album, with a 1940s typewriter on it.
Tori, feel better soon. Saw “Passing” and the series “Maid” also. Lina Nield, welcome back. Suzzi too. And, Hugh, now in Meridian, IA, and J.J. from Vancouver. I love reading other people’s letters.
Thank you, Catalina. It’s great to be back.
Kent, I watched and listened to Meatloaf performing “Bat..” and “For Cryin’ Out Loud” and now I know where Jack Black got his inspiration for the Dewey Finn character in the movie “School of Rock.”
LINA NEILD ROBINSON – “The brushes and the paints are independent observers of a level of anxiety I have lived with so long that I don’t recognize it….Every typo and non sequitor and unfinished sentence marks where I disappeared for a time.”
I think Kafka in particular would pause in recognition of the beauty of these sentences and the power of the idea that what we put to paper preserve not only what we think we wish to say, but, far more still, what we have remained silent on and what we have been absent for. Absent sometimes, and especially, even from ourselves….
Thank you very much for your post today, both words and watercolors.
DBD, thank you for your kind words.
DRO&I–fantastically composed photograph of the street corner typewriter poet. nicely found, nicely captured.
Catalina – yesterday, a policeman was shot and killed in NYC. It is HUGE, front page news. NYC’s newly elected mayor, Eric Adams, himself a former cop, declared the killing an attack on all of New York. The killing is tragic, to be sure, but the response only underscores how police work in the US is lionized, celebrated, and memorialized completely out-of-proportion to actual workplace fatalities by occupation. With the ubiquity of blue line American flags and flag decals in support of “law enforcement,” you’d think that police work was the single most dangerous and important job in American society. But police fatalities last year were 14 per 100,000 workers. Compare that to the equally if not more essential work of garbage collection, which had a fatality rate of 34 per 100,000 workers. I’d like to see a flag decal that lionizes, celebrates, and memorializes garbage collectors, without whom this garbage-in, garbage-out society would rapidly disintegrate into complete chaos, disease, and stench.
Which begs the question: what or who is it that police are really protecting that they are lionzed so?
Your mention of the historical resonance between police and slave catchers is well-noted.
Of course, as Eric Adams also points out, the situation in urban communities of color is complicated. Many residents want more, not less, police presence, albeit police presence of a very specific kind. This complexity is deserving of a much longer OTP reflection, but this conversation between Ezra Klein and Princeton University sociologist Patrick Sharkey provides a nice overview of the terrain:
P.S. And see, also, this conversation between Ezra Klein and Yale Law School professor James Foreman, Jr.:
DBD: I like cop shows, I won’t lie about that, but I’ve never understood why the killing of a cop -which is to be expected given the nature of the work and the fact that, in the USA at least, they are armed, and will even shoot at unarmed people – is treated as in any way more important than the killing of anybody else. The resources that go into capturing a cop killer put more deserving cases on hold. It’s the same with soldiers, who get paid for what they do, but the moment one of them dies , often during an attempt to kill another person, they are ‘heroes’. Some soldiers and cops are heroes, I believe, but it’s not a given. When reporters taking risks and people giving aid to the helpless in dangerous places are killed (usually by soldiers and police), they don’t get nearly as much attention, nor is it investigated as if Jesus had been crucified all over again. The fact that when ‘one of their own’ is killed everyone is galvanised into finding the killer is an indicator of the high regard they have of themselves to begin with and the concomitant low regard they have of Joe and Jane Public.
Right on, Leo, but very close to heresy here in the land of the cultish worship of those who don uniform and gun to enforce the state’s claim to a monopoly on the legitimate use of violence. One thing to add to your analysis: a killed policeman is an exercise of symbolic violence on the prevailing order, which is why it stirs moral panic amongst those deeply invested in the preservation of the prevailing order. This is why the killing of a policeman is weighted differently than a Joe or Jane Public (and also why the killing of a white person is weighted differently than the killing of a person of color). Police are literally the societal status quo personified in a uniform, whereas a Joe or Jane Public is not.
As for cop shows: we are inherently fascinated, I think, by the jagged edge where law meets violence, where the bloodless statute meets the bloody street. Police and soldiers are violence-specialists: those trained, paid, and praised for doing what is forbidden to the rest of us. And in the theology of the state, it is the law which cleanses them from all sin. Of course, the best cop shows are those in which the protagonists skate, and sometimes skirt, the law in pursuit of a “higher justice.”
I’d like to see more statues, memorials, and heroic murals praising the fallen garbage collector. The slaughterhouse worker. The roofer. All of whom work jobs more essential than policing, and with much higher fatality rates. But of course that’s about as likely to happen as a society in which poetry can’t be produced in sufficient quantity to meet demand.
Hi Tori, please take extra care while your sense of smell is AWOL. Smoke, gas leaks, solvents: your nose keeps you safe from a lot of stuff when it’s working.
Mr Royal Signet , what a beautiful picture of the young man balancing the typewriter on his lap – and typing on a paper plate! Wonderful!
Kent-wonderful story about Marvin Aday aka Meatloaf. Thanks for re-posting your October 7, 2020, text.
J.J.-loved your letter from January 1922. The reference to ladies, and especially Parisian ladies, taking an interest in a guy traveling with a typewriter made me smile. I know of a few Parisian ladies that might find a typewriter traveling guy dashing indeed.