Home » ARTSY FARTSY » JEAN SHEPHERD Mark Twain Part 2 & (98) ARTSY INTRO continued

JEAN SHEPHERD Mark Twain Part 2 & (98) ARTSY INTRO continued


Have you ever read Mark Twain’s Life on the Mississippi?  Well, one thing that Twain talks a great deal about is learning how to be a pilot on the Mississippi. About these great pilots that he sailed with. And about how the old pilots could sit in the pilot house, and they could hear the sound of the paddle wheels—dabadabadabadaba—have you ever been on a riverboat?

You know it’s been a long time since I’ve given a lesson to the kids. Kids, are you listening? There is a limit, kid, to what you can do. Now you don’t know it—and maybe you’ll never find it out—but there is a limit, kid, in almost every direction you care to choose. Now, this is a very unpopular thing I’m saying here—but I’m going to describe to you how it came to me one day.

I’m this kid, see. Now how these things happen, one doesn’t know. How you drift, you know, along in life. How you meet the chick that you’re going with. How you happen to—the random quality of life is inexplicable.

I was a lightning-fast operator. Then one night on forty meters, I met my match. One night on forty meters at three o’clock in the morning, I hooked up with a guy from Pittsburgh, and we got into a speed match. By 4:15 that morning, I was reduced to rubble.  I met a guy who could send and receive well in excess of sixty words a minute—on forty meters.



Book Manuscript Intro Continued


Almost all entries are about the arts and related matters in some form or another. Some aren’t about what one might usually consider “art.” Yet, my Inflatable Wacky Waving Tube Guys could, indeed, be seen as having some connection to an avant garde dance routine, and Intestinal Distress could be construed as a well-put-together Surrealist video.

Subject matter changes—all the hell over the place every couple of pages. Only sometimes is there a continuity between individual pieces—the idea is in the variety of little snippets, the continuity is rather in the diverse interests that catch one person’s open-minded attention, and in that manner, add up to some sort of coherent, artsy landscape of unexpected encounters. For help in making for a coherent reading experience, I divide them into “Parts” of related topics. For example, there are pieces about a standard idea of “Art,” a few related to my interest in Japanese art, and some deal with my insider’s experiences at a major natural history museum.

As the title contains the word “ART,” the “Art Part” comes first. Others follow in a kind of order as I see it and feel it. And their relative compatibilities interact and follow each other as best they can–I’m rather content, but not hidebound, regarding how they rub shoulders. As at a bubbly cocktail party chock full of scintillating guests, inquisitive readers may choose to comingle with my “Guernica Colorization Kit” before chatting with Hieronymus Bosch’s klatch, or sooner read my tale of fondling the Venus of Lespugue.



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