Blondie, MassMoCA, the Susan B. Anthony Birthplace, Shaker Museums, Dogs, and the Impossibility of Failure - Part 1
These get explained at the end of Part 2.Last weekend my husband, Bill, and I took a mini vacation trip out to Western Massachusetts. The primary reason was that we had tickets to see Blondie at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (MassMoCA), but also, we just really needed to get away. We secured a cute, super retro (authentically; this was not a hipster re-creation), goin'-to-grandma's style apartment through Airbnb for the weekend, which turned out to be perfect. It was in a working class neighborhood of Adams, within sight of the old textile mill where it is probable the building's original residents, in the 19th century, worked. There was a huge Catholic church, convent, and school next door, clearly built by Polish immigrants. This in itself was a small scale immersion in the history of the place and I spent some time online researching the town, its industrial history, and even the streets and buildings that surrounded us. This trip was a three day, non-stop inspiration fest. Let's start with Debbie Harry of Blondie. She is 73 years old. Her voice is different now, but it is still strong, and her energy level onstage is astonishing. I went to this concert in large part because I wanted to get away for a weekend and because my husband really loves Blondie and a whole selection of other 80s era music I thought I'd prefer never to hear again. As it turns out, I truly loved this concert and discovered that Blondie is making new music that I like infinitely better than the old hits. It didn't hurt that Debbie Harry came on to the stage wearing a jacket with neon-reflective multicolored honeybees all over it and has recently released an album called "Pollinator." The back of the jacket was emblazoned with a...well...blunt message about keeping planet Earth life-sustaining, which I also appreciated.
Debbie Harry and Blondie performing at MassMoCA, August 3rd, 2018Inspirational messages taken from this experience?
- Age is a number. Aside from things beyond your control (truly random illness, accident, and the usual raw deals some people are handed health-wise), decisions you make today may well determine whether you're literally or metaphorically rocking on stage at 73 or rocking in a chair unable to do much else.
- Keep working. Change. Grow. "Pollinator" is a great new album that doesn't sound like previous work. Debbie Harry and the band are not motoring around a golf course in Florida nor are they only playing the same familiar songs many of their fans probably came to hear. I hope the work I'm doing even two years from now looks very little like what I've been doing for the past five, let alone in twenty years' time.
- Wear bright colors at least some of the time, whether you're 23 or 73.
Delicious pastries and cookies at Tunnel City Coffee, North Adams, MA on the campus of MassMoCAInspirational messages taken from this experience?
- Good coffee is always worth the extra money.
- Eat the pastry occasionally, preferably with someone dear to you.
- When you create, do it for you. Not for the critics. Not for the fans. Not for that person who thinks, "I could make that." For you.
- Making art is inherently scary sometimes. Be brave. You might just find your work in front of millions of people some day.
- Those last two things may well feel like jumping in to a cold hole.
- You may often want to give up. Do not, because at some point someone is going to stand in front of your work with their minds and hearts on fire taking it all in.
Collie display at the Museum of Dog, North Adams, MA.Inspirational message taken from this experience?
- Have a dog.
- Go to the Museum of Dog as they develop and grow.
- If there's something you really love, share it with the world.
- Elizabeth Miller