29 March 2010

From the in-box

Hello Rives. My friend, Jessie, and I came across your poetry in late 2008 while trying to pass the time and hurry through our nannying experiences. Jessie and I would walk around Spain quoting your poems. Before we both returned to the states Jessie presented me with a painting of bits from our favorite poems. It is currently posted to my bedroom wall. Sincerely, L and J

[Wow--I can see Nickel, Mockingbirds, If I Controlled the Internet, Kite and Compliment. Even if I'm missing something I'm still 5x flattered. Thanks.]

19 March 2010

Margate, New Jersey

19 March 2010
Atlantic City, New Jersey

At the top of the Absecom Lighthouse is the original first order Fresnel lens and a tour guide (plus retired postman!) named Buddy. Also, on step #180--a plaque with a marriage proposal.

Absecom is New Jersey's tallest lighthouse but not--according to Buddy--its prettiest.

18 March 2010
Edison, New Jersey

At the top of the Edison Memorial Tower is a treehouse-sized sculpture of an incandescent light bulb, which Thomas Edison perfected pretty much where the tower stands now. Unfortunately, there are only two kinds of tourist towers--those that let you climb up and those that don't, and the Edison tower is a Don't.

(What class of tower is it that doesn't permit visitors but you find a way up anyway? I don't know. I've never thought about it.)

17 March 2010

Fifth Avenue, NYC

14 March 2010
Audubon, Pennsylvania

John James Audubon's first American home was Mill Grove and it's all about the birds, as you might expect. But there's also a ravishing original copy of The Viviparous Quadrupeds of North America on display so...now you have two reasons to visit.

13 March 2010
Doylestown, Pennsylvania

Henry Mercer built a 6-story concrete castle to house his collection of pre-Industrial Age artifacts, including this wooden figure with deep carved dimples. His actual house was a concrete castle as well, and when it was finished he lit a bonfire on top to prove it was fireproof. Mercer made his fortune manufacturing tiles, so the man knew fire.

4 March 2010
From the in-box

A few months ago I came across your website looking for more of your work and I saw that someone had gotten a tattoo based on your mockingbird poem, and it was absolutely beautiful. I decided to try and come up with one on my own similar to that one. So I did. I've never gotten a tattoo before and never thought I would ever get one either, but after three months of planning and deliberating, here it is: I hope you think it's a good homage to your talent and I hope you like it personally.


O's tattoo is multi-multi-referential, turns out. It borrows from another tattoo I posted back on July 12, 2009 (mouseover the image above for a comparison or hit the archives for the post). Both tattoos were inspired by the mockingbird poem I performed at the 2006 TED Conference and O's version even includes a curlicue quotation: It is the voice of life that calls us to come and learn. That line, which is in my poem, isn't mine--I'm quoting this talk by Clifford Stoll. Right at the 15:00 mark he tells a story about climbing the University at Buffalo clock tower as a student and finding the line there, inscribed on a bell. And I just now visited the Hayes Hall Tower Clock and Westminster Chime website where I discovered that Clifford misquotes slightly--the actual line is "I am the voice of life; I call you: Come and learn.

So O's homage is a tattoo inspired by a tattoo inspired by a poet quoting an astronomer paraphrasing...a bell.

[Quirky postscript: Veteran reader AW points out that I have my own bell tower inscription adventure in this YouTube video I made at a French artist colony in 2007. If you hit the link, the page favorites three other videos, including the TEDTalks trailer in which I perform a snippet of "Mockingbird" and which (coincidentally?) has as its placeholder image...a photo of Clifford Stoll.]