Posts Tagged ‘Chicago


Just Published! A Photo for Your Wallet

Exciting news! A chapter, “A Photo for Your Wallet”, from my memoir-in-progress, “The Photo Box” has been published online by Bull Men’s Fiction and is currently headlining their home page. Click here to read it!



chelsea station magazine (published)

a chapter, “sic gloria transit [jason]”, from my memoir, “evelyn & son, ltd.” has been published in today’s chelsea station magazine. click through to read. as a bonus, the art illustrating the piece was created by yours truly in 1980 — contemporary to the story.

"allegory of fortune" by dosso dossi--image courtesy the getty center

“allegory of fortune” by dosso dossi–image courtesy the getty center


the snail and the leaf, a parable

nothing happened. the snail made its way slowly across the sidewalk, ignoring the leaf i had placed in its way, and leaving behind it its silvery trail of slime. there are times in the late afternoon when the sun is just so in the sky that the sidewalks shimmer with snail’s trails, beautiful silvery ribbons of goo with little breaks every few inches where the snail has pulled up and off the sidewalk in order to move itself forward. at night they congregate in a mosh pit of snail love, all one upon the other; if you’re very still you can hear henry rollins and black flag just before he throws himself shirtless off the stage into the arms of his raving fans [although that may be my memory of seeing them perform at the mud club in chicago in 198_, but whatever. –author]


monday (a flower a day)

“Art—the meaning of the pattern of our common actions in reality. The cloth-of-gold that hides behind the sackcloth of reality, forced out by the pain of human memory.” –Lawrence Durrell, Justine

i discovered lawrence durrell in a dusty old used bookstore on clark street in chicago around 197_.  the title, justine, captivated me for some reason–i know of no justine in my life that might have had some correlation to the feeling i had for that word and its possibility, its shades of meaning.  i flicked through the pages, scanning words, but not the thoughts behind them, that came later, once i’d gotten home with it and sat down by the window in my tower.   i read it.  and then i read it again as soon as i had finished it the first time–fearful that there was much i had missed; i was right.

on a subsequent visit to the same bookstore, i looked for other books by durrell and found balthazar and its inside cover revealed that it was part of a larger work, the alexandria quartet, of which justine was but the first of four novels, characters all interwoven in the dry streets of alexandria, as durrell said, “the sackcloth of reality.”  since then, i’ve read those four books at least three more times, you might say that it’s become a ritual (and you would be right.)

p.s.  i was going to call durrell’s travel writing ‘lighter fare’ but then i remembered sicilian carousel which if you haven’t read it, i highly recommend, both for its whimsy and its scholarship.

p.p.s.  every garden should have at least one yellow rose.


a miscellany (it happens)

daily, i am reminded that i know nothing.  (nothing, of course, is relative.)  daily, i am reminded that i do know something, but that there is much i do not know. (knowing, of course, is relative.) daily, i am reminded that nothing is knowing.  (both of which are incompatible, because, even the lowliest of us knows something.)  daily, i am reminded that i know something, but there is much left to learn.  (learning, of course, is relative.)  daily, i am reminded that i am learning (much.)

research meditation information procrastination

i’m sorry you missed the sunrise this morning.  it was magnificent.  but instead you chose to mope around the foyer, striking dramatic poses & sighing heavily, “ah me.”

night, michigan avenue looking south from the sheraton hotel, spring 1973

mary (moorhead, minnesota, 1973, silver gelatin print)

sunrise, march 26, 2011 at 6:45 a.m. pdt

i am just a wee bit of a chatty cathy today (just ask m. for confirmation) as i did not sleep well last night & woke up about 3:30 & just laid there, my mind spinning & stopping (topics: minou, my aching lower right jaw — which was why i was awake — the dilaudid that i’d taken for the pain & which most likely was the cause of my wakefulness, work — which i won’t bore you with — writing, posting, blogs, minou again — seriously — facebook, the pain, am i dying — of course i am, we all are kind-of-thoughts,) & i was flopping from the fetal position to flat on my back & back again to the fetal position (lying on my right side only); one pillow over my head & then off again, finally just muttering to myself, “get the fuck up,” downing in quick succession two mugs of coffee, well, i’m sure you get the idea.  so, yeah, my lips are flapping.

was it john cheever or john updike (i get my johns confused sometimes) that said he liked to write about middles, because that’s where the extremes of life meet? after typing that sentence i’m sure it was updike.  but it got me to thinking that starting a book in the middle might be a good idea, if i were in the market for a good idea, that is.  which i may be, but i don’t want to talk about it, because if you put it out there, then there’s some expectation of results & i am not result oriented (i force my nature to be that way in my professional life; those people have expectation that must be met, besides i’m spoiled by the benefits associated with results & by the society that bestows those benefits based on the results one produces.)  la la la la la la la la la (really robert, you shouldn’t sing.)  middles.  yes, i think so.


2 self-portraits (30 years apart)

as it happens, i was digging around in the dark, cobwebby corners of the garage the other day & found a cache of drawings & watercolors that i had created in 1980, including the first of the self-portraits that you’ll see below.  i’ve included a journal entry, also from 1980 so you’ll have an idea of what was going on at approximately the same time as the drawing.  the 2nd drawing is from early last year, almost exactly 30 years after the first one.

november 28, 1979, wednesday–winter has arrived–god, i dread it so much however much my creative juices flow in cold weather there has to be an alternative.  i don’t know how many times i’ve asked myself “what am i to do?” can’t possibly go on doing that.  have had letter from b. & r. in paris–they’re insisting that i go there next year–i guess i’m afraid that if i go there i’ll never return.  europe seems, at times, to be the only alternative–completely different environment–new people, new challenges–i’m so desperately in need of a challenge.

having no discipline to speak of– a change of pace is the only thing that will rouse me.  will i spend my life looking for that challenge–changing everything when i don’t feel like i’m going anywhere, what am i afraid of?  am i not as smart as i’d like to think i am? …it just goes to show that a good act will get you nothing.

after 5 1/2 years at arnie’s [arnie morton’s famed restaurant on state st. in chicago]–restaurant work–i’m not sure i can do anything else…i cannot let myself stagnate in such an environment…it’s turned me into such a bitch, such a hard, unbelieving person–i don’t believe anyone anymore–i don’t trust people like i used to.  i know they want to use me–when before i was much more gullible i liked myself better.  i was hurt more often, but i grew from that specific hurt.  i’m working within a lifestyle which is not necessarily suited to my soul, my psyche.  how to break away from it?

june 22, 1980–well, i’ve done it!  februay 19, 1980 i called arnie’s and told them i could no longer work there–a nice clean break–no chance of returning, yeah!  in the intervening months i worked at henrici’s another awful restaurant, but in april l. offered me a job with his company, so i took it–i’m working as an artist’s representative, selling their art to corporate art leasing agencies & exhibiting their work in galleries (hopefully).  it’s exciting, demanding, creative work and i can’t say how happy i am to be out of the restaurant business.

self-portrait 2010.  for the past 30 years i have worked successfully in the art gallery business.  as you’ve read above, i got my start in 1980 working with young, local chicago artists & i have never looked back (not true, obviously, if you’ve read this blog before, i look back a lot, but not to rue those days, but to remember what has gone before so that tomorrow can be greeted with an appreciation of the past.)

the self-portraits are strikingly similar (they should be, i am still me after all,) but in the way that i have chosen to draw my eyes, their startled look staring straight out at toward an unknown horizon (not at the viewer, don’t worry, they won’t follow you.)  the jaw line, the cheek bones, i can’t decide in which one i look older–there is the matter of less hair, the use of ink in the first delineating the darkness of my mustache, the graphite in the second highlighting the lack of hair on my head, perhaps it’s the lines in my forehead in the 2nd that give my age away (along with the nightshirt & the foot–added because someone i know said, “if you want to learn how to draw a foot, take off your shoe, your sock & draw it,” so i did & am proud to say that it looks remarkably like my right foot (not to be turned into a movie.)


words fail me

[page 2]…I had, fortunately, taken my keys out of the bookbag just before turning into the courtyard.  I ran into the building completely shattered.  I called Susan [a mistake, she was unhelpful] and told her what had happened and cried and then realized how absurd it was.  I called the police and they arrived very quickly and the interrogation began.

It wasn’t the mugging that has stuck with me all these years–in fact, without the second journal entry (above) I’d hardly remember it (it was not the last time, either.)  What has survived is the abject loss of the journal.  My first years in Chicago were difficult/exhilarating/frightening/introspective.  That first journal captured daily moods/dreams/conversations/strangers/friends/beauty/death, all word images meant to assist  my acting, my dancing, my life.  It was all about my growth, my maturation, my entry into adult life.

With the second journal (segments of which have been previously published here) I tried to capture that same freedom, but I was crippled by the loss of the first.  Who would want it?  What would they make of it?  What benefit could they possibly find in it?  It was so intimate, such a precise recording of my feelings that its sudden loss has reverberated throughout the intervening years.  I tried to vanquish its loss by telling myself that it got tossed as useless by the thieves.

Words don’t fail me.  It is a rare moment when I don’t have something to say about anything (sometimes piquant, sometimes not.)  But the recording of those words is just now beginning to flow again–in a completely unexpected forum–and I’m feeling the liberation that comes with that expressiveness.

Looking backwards in order to move forward has always been a mantra of mine.  My psychic friends–Freud/Jung/’The New Journalism’/ all insist on it.   A prescient intuition whispers quietly in my ear — “Express yourself.”



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© Robert Patrick, and Cultivar, 2008-2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts, photographs and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Robert Patrick and Cultivar with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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