Monday, November 28, 2011

Car Conversation

Driving home today Will is reading school holiday road safety tips from the school newsletter. One of the tips is keeping kids entertained with portable DVD players, digital games, iPods, etc.

I said aren't you kids lucky you have all those things for our long car trips.

"Yes," they both agreed.

I said when I was a child we didn't have that sort of stuff, we just had to look out of the window to entertain ourselves.

"That's right," Marianna says. "That was in the olden days."

"You are so smart'" Will tells her.

"Yes, I KNOW," she sighs, resigned to the burden of her own brilliance.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Just Kids: A Book Review

Just Kids is Patti Smith's autobiographical book about her relationship with the artist Robert Mapplethorpe. It is not particularly satisfying as an autobiography because it skims the surface, leaving me wanting to know more details, hear more about the nitty gritty of their fascinating lives. What it lacks in detail it more than makes up for in emotion.

This book is a deathbed promise realised; a gift of love and respect.

Their relationship, built on a chance meeting in New York City in the late sixties when they were both "just kids", literally starving artists, transcends love, lust, sex, friendship. It is the true embodiment of the term "soulmate", so easily thrown around for anyone one has known for more than five minutes.

This is what really touched me, moved me to tears and emotional pain. I am always fascinated by strong emotional attachment because I don't think I have felt it truly, powerfully since I was "just a kid" myself.

But this book also made me think about my own yearning for an "artistic" life as a teenager. Do all teenagers yearn for a bohemian life of creativity and social freedom? I know I did. But in hindsight my desire for stability was much more powerful than any artistic daydreams I may have harboured. Like Patti, my practical side took control. In her case she was able to balance and find room for both. But it was a different time.

She speaks of the artistic force which drove both her and Robert and it is certainly not something I felt very strongly. This force was everything to them; that they eventually found critical and financial success was more good fortune than pure talent. Many equally talented people fall by the wayside for a myriad of reasons.

I really enjoyed this book, it had a strong emotional impact on me. I haven't been Patti's biggest fan. Apart from loving her collaboration with Bruce Springsteen "Because the night", her "Pissing in a river" from the Times Square soundtrack and the recently discovered "Redondo Beach" from her first album "Horses" I haven't delved deeply into her music. But her story really surprised me, not only is she not who I guessed she might be but she writes beautifully; I was left wanting more yet emotionally both buoyed and devastated.