6 years, 9 months on Open Salon__________________________


New York, New York,
April 22

JANUARY 9, 2013 11:54AM

Behind the scenes of a year long (plus) series

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In ten days I'll be hitting the one year mark since I started my series on remembering my senior year at art school, 1976-1977. As a result of this upcoming anniversary I wanted to pass along a few stories related to its background and creation.

First off, it would have been far more difficult for me to create a story I wanted to present without many, many visuals. I am more of a visual person than a literary one and I rely on the memorabilia and sketches to help tell the story since I'm no Hemingway. I also feel that material from the time creates a presence that is not unlike a film documentary which also relies heavily on archival sources.

I can also say that re-reading many times letters to and from school clarified my memory and reminded me of incidents that I may otherwise have forgotten. In the same way, notes made to myself, the photos and bric-a-brac brought back additional memories. And lastly, talking to some of my college friends from that time period helped immensely in filling in the blanks.

To make for an enhanced environment for writing the story I took over one room in my house and assembled all of the material in the way of notes, photos, books, letters, posters, etc. all in one spot.

As I was developing a story on a specific point in time I worked hard to put my mind back in Providence and would mentally walk the streets, enter buildings, remember specific conversations, etc. What was great to discover is the more I did this the more I was able to pry even more memories from the recesses of my mind.

Along the way, there were lots of memories from previous school years that popped into my mind. Below are three items from my junior year which are very special and capture interesting moments from January, 1976...a year before where I am currently with the series.

John Cage was an artist who I admired a lot so when my classmate and friend, Melissa, and I were putting together the school yearbook in 1976 we wrote to him to see if he'd be interested in coming up to the school to do an event with the students. We had a reply back a week or so later and then he called, too! I happened to have my camera with me when he called the design office and both Melissa and I were just down the hall. I captured the moment on film which can be seen below. It turned out that he couldn't participate but what a great person for contacting us in two ways to tell us and not for ignoring us altogether!

So, for anyone thinking of writing a really long story from their past these are a few tips that worked for me. I would also like to think that more will be encouraged to create series like this one. Lastly, I am thinking of including stories from the summer and fall after graduation and I want thank those readers in advance who would be willing to read so much information for such a long period of time (the series will take many more months to reach the finishing point!).

The final point of today's post is: "what were you doing in 1976 and 1977?"


John Cage's book that I purchased in 1976 which features a title that seems right at home with today's post about the one year anniversary of my series...



 Letter from John Cage to Melissa:



 Melissa on the phone with John Cage, January, 1976:





 Bottom photo and story are © 2013 by B+Co., Inc.







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~She came from Providence,
the one in Rhode Island
Where the old world shadows hang
heavy in the air
She packed her hopes and dreams
like a refugee
Just as her father came across the sea ...

o' Providence
it's vibe endures through the years
Chuck, thank you for your wonderful poem! As a side note, my friend and classmate mentioned above originally hailed from your wonderful state of CT...
Good Stuff D. I honestly don't know what the hell I was doing in 76' and 77'. Also 78' to 98'.1998 that is.
I envy your nostalgia for the past. My memory's are filled with the stuff they use to make nightmares.
That is some fine memory you got here, D; beautiful piece. R
As someone also writing a series on here, I know exactly what you mean about items and writing from the era really help jog a memory, sometimes with rippling effects. It's also cool that the great John Cage wrote you back. I was at a big house party circa 1981 where he was there (the party was in his honour following a performance at the university) but I guess I was a little too shy that night to approach him and say hello.

1976-77 ... wow, big transitional years for me. I began high school during that time, discovered and dove head-on into punk rock, started dropping a lot of my inhibitions, and watched a lot of Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman.