Peter David

I love the toward-set sunspill, slipped past silver, leaning into gold.

Three Things

One. Driving Toward the Sunset.

I grew up in Pacifica, where watching the sunset meant going somewhere and stopping.  We had to.  The water starts a mile away, we weren’t into kayaks, and haven’t yet become holy enough for the whole walking-on-water stunt, waves or no. Now, I love going somewhere and stopping to see the sunset.  There’s quite a bit to see (that’s kind of the point), and the focus afforded by a fixed location is quite valuable.  But.  Two days ago I became consciously aware of the distinct and magnificent pleasure of watching the sunset while driving toward it.  (I’m vaguely ashamed that this is the first time I can recall noticing it after five years in L.A.  *Must pay more attention to everything.)  Bends and curves in the road became facilitators of that dependable intensification strategy: the hide-reveal-hide-reveal-hide-hide-slow reveal.  All the fun of strong contrast heightened by the use of negation itself as one of the binaries!  And when one gets to hilly bits, the ground starts to seem less secure than the emblazoned welkin (pardon my language) above’t.

Two. Paradigmatic Colors: Incarnate!

Yesterday, the color of the trees and sky here could have been taken out of a sheaf of construction paper or a basic box of crayons.  They were the colors of children’s drawings and of everyone’s ideas “tree” and “sky.”  What!?

Happy subsequent (re-)realization: the correspondence of real stuff and personal idea(l)s is one of our chief-est-er-est-er-li-est pleasures.  Hooplay!  Unhappy subsequent realization:  This correspondence was stand-out-ish-ly significant to me, so my visual paradigms must not correspond to reality very often or well.  Hm.

Three. Jazz is Yellow.

I know this because as I was driving back from work yesterday, I turned on the jazz station.  As soon as the music started and without my willful instigation, I was suddenly and powerfully more conscious of the color yellow everywhere.  In sprinklers.  On walls.  In trees.  In the speckles that show up on earlyish- or lateish-lit asphalt.  My conclusion: Jazz is yellow.  Except when it’s blue.  Rebecca reminded me while at work today that it’s very blue.  Rhapsodically blue.

Also, jazz may be characterized by boxy shapes with rounded edges, because that’s what I noticed this morning when I turned it on.  I’m suspicious, however, of the suggestion; I may have been trying to recreate yesterday’s revelation.  I think I was.  Hm.


Why DO I Like It?

This post led to questions about what I do with school uniforms, choir boy outfits, and pleasant uniformity generally.  I don’t want every street sign to receive individual typographic treatment, do I? & etc.

What I had said was, “I think that I don’t like the OC prettiness because it seems like it exists for the sake of an ordinance.  Houses become adorned in such and such a way not because a person likes the house, but because of some rule that tells them to,” and so on.  But (see the photo above) I do rather like some ordained stylings.  I like school uniforms and all that sort of thing.  So how to I systematize my dislike for some beautification systems and my love of others?

Here’s my best stab, so far.

Uniform stylings are suitable when the thing that is being adorned is a category.  A student wearing a uniform is not wearing their uniform insofar as they are an individual; they are wearing it insofar as they participate in “student.”  The problem I have with stock makeup or clothing and with uni-styled housing is that it takes something that ought to be eminently particular–a face, a home–and reduces it, visually, to a member of some category.  People who are students can take off their uniforms when it would be inappropriate to visually instantiate their role, but it’s nice that they can give that abstraction a form sometimes.  It’s almost mythic.

In sum, basically, as it were, it turns out that my distaste for over-ordained or inappropriately ordained styles comes down to their symbolic relationship to the things so styled.  It’s a concern that has more to do with truth than with beauty.

I Love…

I love the toward-set sun spill, slipped past silver, leaning into gold.

Why Don’t I Like It?

I’ve consistently felt a little guilty for not liking the prettiness of posh Orange County or of some made-up faces.  They’ve obviously been done up for the sake of something like beauty, and that’s the sort of thing I ought to like.

There’s always, of course, the Romantic avenue to be taken: I could insist that I like faces and buildings best when they exhibit a natural beauty.  But that route’s never felt quite satisfying to me.  What’s a natural building supposed to look like?  Man-made beautiful things aren’t inherently less beautiful than the non-man-made ones.

My next instinct is to say that those pretty things are less attractive to me because they’re less skillfully made.  This takes care of a good number of sloppy makeup jobs and unsuccessful outfits, but when you get to Orange County, it can’t be a lack of skill that makes it rather repugnant to me.  The things there are often made by some of the most talented artists and city planners anywhere.  They are pretty.

Then I want to say that it’s too pretty.  At that point, however, I think I’m talking nonsense.

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Twenty | 7 August 2010

With the help of the lovely Jane Reynolds and at the insistence of the incomparable Christy Giannestras Brown, I present a new Twenty.  Albeit a bit unseasonable, today’s featured painting is Primavera, by Botticelli.  This is the fifteenth Twenty.  You can find links to the previous fourteen here.

Twenty is a collection of apparently disparate images that have been thoughtfully selected to complement a great work of art (displayed first in the collection below).  Every individual image may be contemplated in conjunction with the original one (as a diptych), by itself (as a distinct work of art), or the collection may be experienced as a single unit (as a visual poem, if you will).  All images link to their source and are either public domain or copyright that source.  Any image that is not so linked is my own.

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Recognizing Home

for Pacifica and for La Mirada


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Closing Twenty

It’s been a number of weeks since I posted a Twenty over at Evangelical Outpost, and it’s unlikely that I’ll post any more, at least for a long time.  Work’s picked up for me elsewhere, and it was time to trim commitments.  I may, however, add a periodic one here.  They’re very stimulating to make; I like it.  I may also start putting up an occasional commentary on one or another of the posts.  I didn’t want to begin any post with an explanation of any kind, but now that they’ve been seen and are unlikely to be re-seen (or found) unless as a result of conversation, I don’t feel any inhibitions about beginning to talk.  For now, however, I’m merely collecting links to all the posts.  This is your table of contents.

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Three Collaborative Poems!


Rules:  One line per person until all persons have contributed a line.

Participants: David Gross, Emily Gross, Peter Gross (& Co.)

Circa 199? (maybe 200?)

Location: Mono Hot Springs.

Illustrations: Peter Gross


Table of Contents

Mosquitoes___________________________________p. 1

Bored _______________________________________p. 1

Vulture Gourmet _______________________________p. 1

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Chad and Rachel: Engagement Photos

Spend a day with a Glazener and a proto-Glazener?  At the Tea House at Los Rios?  Yes, please.

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We seem to be  followed today

By aspiring broadway stars

Whose aspirations are  higher

Than their vocal chords are supple.

I’ll just have to listen to their aspirations.

So much more pleasant,

If less obvious.