Monday, October 26

Artistic Admiration

This is not just another attractive postcard, this is a tribute to its artist, Cory McAbee.

I was struck by this imagery as soon as I saw it: lounge rat lighting his cigarette off his own sacred heart.  What did that mean?  The ramifications flooded my mind.  Such a gorgeous illustration, and I pore over the details every time I look at it.  What does the hair tell me about the person?  Why's he standing in front of a velvet curtain? How can someone look so shifty and yet bear a sacred heart?  Are we playing with words now?

I met Cory once at the Triple Rock in West Bank, Mpls., while waiting for a po' boy prior to watching his band perform (now they're Stingray Sam but back then they were the Billy Nayer Show).  A friend of mine was bouncing so I explained to him who I was there to see and was waxing panegyric over this writer/director/musician/artist when there was a tap on my shoulder.  It was Bobby Lurie (drummer/actor), seated behind me, who only grinned and indicated Cory sitting across the table from him.

My capacity for speech was reduced to babbling.  My bouncer friend left me to sort myself out, and soon I was posing for pictures with this creative genius.  There aren't many people who can leave me speechless, but there are a few.  Hero?  I wouldn't say hero: Hercule Poirot is a hero.  Usagi Yojimbo is a hero.  These are fictional icons who have carefully managed flaws and a number of strong, uncompromising merits.  A real person can't be a hero to me, or I might just as well point at myself and use me as a source of inspiration, and that is ludicrous.

But there are some people I admire, not just because they produce stuff I like (Guy Maddin, Wes Anderson, &c.) but because they are capable and diverse, and they are seemingly driven to create the best they can at all times.  Gene Wolfe is another example, a writer whose craft transports me to another world.  The effect is as convincing and thorough as that.  I've written to him to explain as much and have probably alarmed him with my fervor so I struggle to maintain a merely conversational tone.  It's just a bit overwhelming to have an absolute favorite writer/artist who is still around to talk to.

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