January 1st, 2006

Dick Returns

Well, I watched approximately five minutes of television. I must admit to being taken aback by Dick Clark's voice and appearance. But, having read in the tabloids that he was near death on many occasions recently, I will also say that it made me feel good to see him, however briefly, and hear him say the stupid shit he said for so many years prior to his recent health troubles. The countdown felt hollow without him last year. Anyway, I wish all of you a hearty, "Happy New Year!" I'm lifting my cream soda in solitary salute.

In the Thicket

I went to the National Zoo on the 30th in the hopes of finding Skylar's "awesome" present there so that I wouldn't have to make the difficult trip to the Natural History museum with my bags in tow. The gift shop was closed, though, and I was carrying too many books to be motivated to walk all the way down the hill and back. But I did stop to look at the teenage cheetahs, who were watching the zebra next door the way our cats watch the birds in the front and back yard. And I found a beautiful cluster of berries. This photo makes me think of D.C. and Maryland in winter more than any snow-colored vista:

I loved when it would really snow, of course. Most of the time, though, the experience of walking around in wooded portions of that winter after the leaves have fallen consists of seeing earth-toned patterns of branches and leaves with the occasional flash of evergreen or, more rarely, red berries like these. As many of you already know, I'm a big fan of landscapes in miniature that provide an obstructed but intricate view like this one. When I painted, I aspired to create this sort of effect. It used to enrage me when highbrow critics would make fun of Andrew Wyeth's "backward" representational art and its supposed populism, all the way overlooking the to me obvious fact that what seemed representational from afar would metamorphose into abstract thickets of menace when seen closer up. This image here is not overtly menacing, but the bloody brightness of the spot color reminds me of the much-maligned The Village, which I liked a great deal the more I thought about it. There's something shocking about primary colors in winter.