I thought I was done with my columns for the year, but apparently, I guess I’m not. You get ideas, usually at weird times of the night, then they need to get out of your head, and onto the electronic device. I told myself, nope, no year end resolution columns, nope, don’t do it, man, don’t. They’re well-meaning (and as my Lebanese aunt used to tell us kids about the road to hell being paved with good intentions, well, sorry, Saint Peter, we tried), and usually full of the stuff you find on a QVC infomercial that’s going to inspire you to buy that Nordic Trak type thing you can’t afford anyway. No, resolution type articles are a dime-a-dozen, and baked fresh daily, once we get into two weeks remaining in the year. But... oh no, wait....I can feel that pull, and it’s not good... no, no... oh brother, it’s very strong... HIYEEEEEEEE! Okay, I give in: it’s a resolution type column. If you see me around town later, just smack my head with a shillelagh.
Assumptions are what I need to work on. I thought I was past this malarkey, but I still do it. At a recent Christmas party/lunch, we were served BBQ brisket, to which I off-the-cuff mentioned that brisket is a “Jewish thing.” I was partially right, and it is big in the Jewish community, but it is a Lao, British, even Texas thing. But growing up, our family (usually the Lebanese side) used to associate it with a form of Jewish cooking (plus, corned beef comes into play here, and there was a great deli in downtown Des Moines that served wonderful corned beef on rye sandwiches, so the sweet pangs of memory association there, kids, sorry). But assuming that certain tendencies, traditions, and ways of life go with certain groups – not always right, especially when we ever-so-smugly proclaim it. So, here’s where it’s going to get a bit off-beat – I’m going to throw in an art lesson here also.
Who has heard of Mati Klarwein? Mati, a German surrealist artist, painted some of the most recognizable album art of the late 1960’s/early 1970’s. His art work has graced iconic albums by Santana, Miles Davis, the Last Poets, the Chambers Brothers, and more folks. Growing up, spending my hard-earned cash on vinyl, I remember being awestruck, inspired, and a wee bit jealous when looking at these works (and for those who miss vinyl, and it’s back, by the way, isn’t fifty percent of the experience of owning a record about digging up on the album art?). Anyway, I just remember these moments as a kid being taken away by these album covers done by Mati, especially the Santana/ Miles Davis ones. So, my little 15 year old mind ASSUMES, given the graceful, strong depictions of African Americans in what might be native/traditional dress, I’m thinking whoever this artist is, this guy is African American. This assumption goes on until about, oh, TODAY. Now, this is pretty stupid, I mean, if I loved this guy’s work so much, why didn’t I research this earlier in life? Never got around to it, meant to (intentions again), but never got around to it. Mati, who passed away in 2002, was pretty white, bearded, and long haired, but what a deft touch in his paintings of our human race, wow. In a Christmas present to myself, I found a coffee table book with his album art work, which I snagged at a pretty good price on Amazon.
We assume so much, and given what we see in the media, it tends to reinforce negative assumptions, as well. I mean, if you see it, you believe it, right? Or, it backs up all that credible evidence about your thoughts that you saw on social media, which we all know gives us the correct information ALL THE TIME. So, I guess I’m going to work on assuming less (unless it’s for a good joke, I mean, for the sake of a punchline, can you give me that?). Assuming has already gotten me in trouble with writing, especially editing, so I need to watch that. Just getting to being conscious about it, that’s a good first step, as with all resolutions. Anyone interested should go to Mati’s home page on-line – fantastic stuff.
Happy holidays, and as John and Yoko would say, hope it’s a good one.