Tuesday, June 21, 2016

The Monster

 In order to fulfill my degree in Fine Arts, I had to take courses in music and art.  My Music Appreciation course was awful.  I really didn't care about having to identify classical pieces, so I didn't do very well in that course.  I did get to go to Rock Hill to hear the NY Philharmonic at Winthrop as part of the course, but we were almost killed coming back, when our driver (and professor) fell asleep at the wheel, and we came within inches of crashing into a bridge.
 My art class was Sculpture.  I can't draw worth a lick, so Sculpture seemed to be my only option.  Our class was commissioned by the town of Clinton to come up with sculptures for a park.  They wanted sculptures that would be functional for kids to play on, as well as being somethings that folks could look at and appreciate.  In addition to the artwork, we were also supposed to design playground equipment that would be nice to look at.  So, we got to work.
 I helped design a swing set, which was made out of logs.  It looked kind of rustic.  Then, I had to come up with an idea for a sculpture.  I just couldn't think of anything.  I knew that it had to be something that kids could play on.  I had an idea about that, but how could I make it appealing to the masses?  The teacher was putting pressure on us to come up with ideas.  The time was growing short.  I got frustrated and threw a ball of clay down on my table and stuck a knife through the middle.  The teacher saw it and said that my concept was great.  I thought he was either drunk or high or both, but I went with his critique.  I developed a model of a large ball that sat flat on the ground.  There was a center hole that went through the length of the piece, and a side ledge, which kids could use to climb up on the piece.  It was our assignment to design the sculptures.  The next semester's goal was to build them from our designs.
 So, during the Spring of 1975, my sculpture was built.  They took wood and chicken wire to make the foundation, and then they poured concrete over the top.  Kids could climb on it and slide down through the middle.  It was called "The Monster" because of its size.  It stood a little over six feet tall.  It was also about seven feet wide.  To me, it looked like a big blob of cement, but I guess art is in the eye of the beholder. 
 The Monster stood in that park for several years.  In the mid-1980's, it was dismantled, because some teenagers were spray painting obscenities on the sides.  My swing set has remained, but The Monster is no more.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

The Tornado

 I was sitting in class at PC one morning.  The class was on the 3rd floor of the three-story classroom building.  We were watching a movie.  All of a sudden, the power went off, and we heard a freight train outside the window.  Our teacher told everyone to get on the floor.  He knew what it was.  I didn't. 
 After a short time, (it felt longer than it actually was) the "train" was gone and everyone started getting up off of the floor.  The teacher asked us if we were okay, and everyone said yes.  We slowly walked outside, fearing what we would see.  I looked around and saw the buildings seemed to be okay.  I did see a tree that was next to my dorm was gone.  I went to my dorm room and saw that a tree next to my window was gone.  My room overlooked the football field, and I saw that the tornado had taken out all of the light poles about halfway up.  I realized what had happened.  The tornado had taken the tree on one side of my dorm; skipped over the building; and then taken the tree on the other side of my dorm before going across the field.  If it had gone through my dorm, it would have gone straight through my room.  The tornado also tore through some homes on the other side of the football field, but thankfully no one was seriously hurt.  The fact that it happened in the Spring meant that football season was over, so they had time to repair the light poles. 
 It was pretty scary, but we were also thankful that it wasn't worse.  That was the first of three tornadoes that I have been in.  I will write about the other two later.  The fact is that it DOES sound like a freight train.  Three tornadoes in my lifetime are three too many.  I pray that I will never be in a fourth.

Thursday, June 9, 2016


 The quality of our Theatre work at PC spread past the confines of the school.  We were invited to an Alcohol Symposium on Fripp Island attended by educators and people who worked with substance abusers to present the theme of the conference in a dramatic way.  They gave us the theme in advance, and I helped write it.  There were five of us that went to the conference.  Our skit was based on a family dealing with the crisis of young people drinking, and the parents also drinking, but not knowing where the kids got their behavior to drink.  The theme was on alcohol prevention.
 So, we went to this resort on Fripp Island in South Carolina.  We got lost a couple of times going down there, but we made it in time for the Friday night opening.  The conference went from Friday night to Sunday morning.  Our presentation was very well received.  The leader of the conference suggested that we sit in on the discussion groups, because he wanted us to come up with a summary skit of the conference. 
 The main speaker at the conference was a Canadian professor named Wilson Bryan Key.  He taught media at a university in Toronto.  He had written a book called "Subliminal Seduction".  His theory was that advertisers place subliminal things in their ads that make you want to buy the product.  For example, he showed a picture of ice cubes from a drink, and the advertisers and painted in two polar bears mating in the ice.  He said that your brain saw things subconsciously that you didn't realize you were seeing, which would cause you to react in a way that the advertisers wanted you to react without knowing why.  Another example was the $5 bill.  Supposedly, the government etched the word "sex" in Lincoln's beard, which would make you want to like the bill more.  Now, I have to say that much of his theory sounded a bit like paranoia, but some of what he said actually made sense.  You might want to check out the book to see for yourself.
 Anyway, this was a meeting for those people on the front lines of trying to get young people not to drink.  After the conference each night, many of the participants went to the bar at the resort for drinks.  They also bought liquor and drank in their rooms.  These folks would put their trash cans out to be picked up, and they were full of bottles and cans.  It brought to mind the old adage--Do as I say, not as I do.  I know there is a school of thought that one must experience things before they can help others, but this was not so much experiencing the drinking as much as experiencing the hangover the next morning. 
 On Sunday morning, we presented our summary skit for  the conference.  It was basically the same one we did Friday night with a few changes.  The resort was pretty nice.  There were several things that we wanted to take as souvenirs.  Towels, sheets, silverware, candle centerpieces from the restaurant, napkins glasses, whatever wasn't nailed down.  We tried for the TV's, but they were screwed to the wall, and we didn't bring any screwdrivers.  I got two candles, two glasses, a towel, and some silverware.  I had the things wrapped in the towel.  When we got back to PC, I was walking in the dorm with my loot, and I tripped on the step.  I dropped my stuff on the cement floor, and the glasses and one candle broke.  I was able to save one candle and the silverware.  I guess that was my punishment.
 On Monday, our teacher got a call from the resort.  They asked about all the stuff that was missing.  We denied taking anything, but they knew we had stolen the stuff.  PC was not asked back the following year for the conference.  Sorry, guys.