I've never needed art (particularly music and literature) as much as I needed it in 2001 (and I don't think I'm alone on this although maybe I am). Whether it was for direction, distraction, explanation, consolation, clarification, inspiration, or expression, I sought out my favorite artists (both new and old) more than ever before. Some examples:
10) John Hiatt at O'Shaughnessy: My seatmate best liked the second to the last song the spacey, loopy "Farther Stars." I fancied the final song written about September 11 when "New York had its heartbroken." Hiatt's songs ably show how the personal can be universal and how the universal can be personal too.
9) David Sedaris at the Ruminator: Reading his latest collection of essays, Me Talk Pretty One Day I was struck by an overwhelming sense of jealousy. A writer that is funny, witty, poignant with something to say. What a novel concept.
8) The Minnesota Twins: What a wonderful reminder it was to have a good baseball team again. Keep together the three starting pitchers, Guzman and Rivas and with Mauer appearing to be the real deal this team should be a shining example of the proper way to run an organization. Instead... What would have been a sad off season what with the departure of the fiery red headed skipper turns into a disheartening legal battle to keep the team alive.
7) Loudon Wainwright III's "Homeless": A song that equates the loss of a parent with the loss of a greater myth and comfort in thinking there will always be a place to call home. The lesson learned in a moving song seemingly torn from a journal is that a home isn't just a place, it's the memories and the people (and kitties) who helped make those memories.
6) Buffy: Three absolutely stunning and sterling episodes this year: Buffy's mom dies, Buffy dies, and the musical that explained life in a nutshell. This series is on a whole other level than any I've ever seen.
5) "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf" at the Guthrie: Just when one thought it wasn't safe to make new friends anymore I went with two youngsters that shared work battles with me. After a series of philosophical discussions over lunchtime that seemed to finally renew something other than my magazine subscriptions, it seemed a tad ironic that Cap'n Picard's portrayal of bitter George was like looking in one of them circus mirrors that distorts as much as it reflects.
4) Lucinda Williams at First Ave: I was worried that her live performance couldn't possibly match the intensity of the wonderful CD Essence (a difficult trick for anyone to do). But the live versions of the songs were as sultry and searing as the sweltering, stifling, stuffy July summer air.
3) Bob Dylan at the Xcel Energy Center: The much hyped Love and Theft deserves the praise lavished upon it. My 20th time seeing Bob live was best one of all accompanied by my faux second cousin (a person who I got to share in a lot of nice memories this past year, a person who oddly shares the same birthday as my mom and sister). His performance of "Sugar Baby" that evening was intense, in the moment and was an excellent demonstration that there is no finer singer/ songwriter.
2) 911: It's still too big to comprehend (or maybe even accept). Scattered feelings and images- serving as an election judge and having to rely on reports from distressed voters to find out what was going on; Carl Frie's gripping newsletter article on his family's loss; David Letterman's wonderful opening to his first show back where he did what is probably the best thing to do in troubled times- speak from the heart. And a final lesson learned: in the following daze I reestablished contact with a seamstress who once gave me a rock. Operating for years under the belief that a sure sign of my insanity was going to Sandra Bullock movies and being personally spellbound by being reminded of an old friend. Finally getting to talk with this friend again, to express some regrets and to hear I'm not alone in the Bullock comparisons created enough warmth to carry me through most any cold night.
1) Shaking hands with the Dalai Lama: As they dig through the rubble out east and we all dig through the rubble inside to be able to look at a photo of me (ME!) shaking hands with his gracious holiness was a needed reminder of the goodness that exists all around us even if the world is exploding.