Things to go and come
by Robert Genn
December 31, 2010

I don't think our daily newspapers are going to be with us much longer. Right now
we get two of them. They're delivered a few minutes apart in the early morning by
two separate guys in gas guzzlers with challenged mufflers. Every time I step out
to get them I think of trees. If I read the trees in bed they make a rustling
noise that bothers Carol. The iPad is better.

Paper books. Libraries are now places for homeless people to keep warm. The
Kindles and other electronic readers will win out. You read what you want when and
where you want to; no waiting for Amazon to deliver or the local library to open
up. With electronic delivery, authors get paid just the same, perhaps more.
Electronic books are easy to hold, and with their uniform, controllable lighting
they cause less eyestrain. 

Our postman, a really nice guy, is also pretty well toast. As the P.O. goes the
way of the Druids--watch it--the institution will get more weird, more expensive
and less efficient. When people get used to the various systems of electronic
money transfer, checks in the mail will be dead ducks. Junk mail will be pre-junked.
By the way, did you know the frequency of letter writing is way up in the last
decade? Who can compete with a legible email that gets to Hackensack right away
and it's free?

But look out. Fine art is on the way in. In our gadgety, thing-happy society where
Walmart and creeping meatballism threaten, painting is hot. Old fashioned as the
shoeing of horses--about the same methodology for the last six hundred years--art
fills a vital human need for life enhancement. Art reboots the cerebral cortex,
teaches new skills to underutilized hands, arouses dormant sensitivities and
promotes latent passions. If need be, art gives us something to talk about besides
the kids, grandkids and celebrities, hence making us more interesting people. And
it's cheap--a month of art supplies for the average Daumier is about the same as a
round of golf.

They're now estimating 12 million painters in North America. Our sources figure
four percent of Western populations have paint and brushes, up from three percent
two decades ago. More painters are painting today than in the whole history of art.
Done well, art has lots of ploys, feels good, makes you proud, is so frustratingly
difficult it makes grown men cry, and it's not golf.

Best regards,


PS: "All things you see will be changed, and out of their substance will make
other things and again others so the world may be ever new." (Marcus Aurelius,

Esoterica: As another year gets chucked into the circular file we look back on a
remarkable decade of change. For many of us it's meant a greater need for and
appreciation of sanctuary. We catch ourselves daily in our work-spaces--whether
tiny rooms or lofty studios--often contented, always challenged. These retreats
are not soon to be closed. The studio is a place of dreams, and dreams, though
always vulnerable, are good for us.