I caught some of "Melinda and Melinda," a mediocre but not entirely unwatchable Woody Allen movie this morning. It came out a few years back. Will Ferrell is in it and isn't especially effective because she's just doing the Woody-Stand-In schtick. Since Woody won't write wise-ass variations of his own comic persona virtually every actor who has ever played a protagonist in a Woody Allen movie ends up doing their immitation of Woody. Heck Mia Farrow was doing Woody towards the end of their run together. But anyhow, I got in the Woody frame of mind watching the movie.
Then, as I was going through some old papers, I found a xerox copy of something that my cousin Sammy wrote to her father in the late '80s when she was an art history major at Brown. Sammy has always loved the Wood Man. She was the first person I ever watched "Annie Hall" with I think, and Sam used to watch "Purple Rose of Cairo" anytime she was sad and needed to cry. In many ways she's right out of one of his movies--incredibly beautiful, very smart, and really funny. You know, Amanda Peet could be one of her friends. A goy physically but very New York even though she grew up in Boston. She loves being married into my father's family because they're Jewish, or as Sam likes to describe herself, Jew-"ish."
My uncle Fred is a painter and he's from the old school, meaning he's got zero tolerance for the pretentions of art criticism. He went to Cooper Union in the mid-fifties and hung around the Cedar Bar when deKooing and Kline and abstract expressionaist painters were the bomb. And there was his daughter, knee-deep in eggheads up at Brown. So she sent the following to her old man and he had it tacked up in his studio for years. It amused me so much that I must have copied it at some point. I found it up at my mom's house last year. Funny the things you keep.
At the top of the page in captial letters:
YOUR $20,000 PAY FOR ME TO LEARN PHRASES LIKE THESE:
Matisse: "to theatricalize the finish. To finish with unfinish--a pictorial symbol"
"the unneatness, that freshness that refuses to go unfresh"
"a certain one-ness"
"a tickled dimensionality"
Braque: "oscillating in its stress of adhesion of units on the surface of the painting"
Van Gogh: "certain motific elements"
Monet: "wonderful rumble of pictorial information to flat projectively plastic"
Picasso: "a repeating planometric chant"
Leger: "residual echo of modernity and its imaging embedded in its dissident views"
What I wouldn't give for a large sock o' horse manure.