Sunday, September 20, 2009

I remember books you just can't put down.

I Remember is a nifty collection of memories arranged both beautifully and simply. Is it poetry? Is it a memoir? What in the world is it? It is art, beautiful, honest art.

I remember how much rock and roll music can hurt. It can be so free and sexy when you are not.

For me, I love a piece of art that is relatable, unearthing thoughts and feelings inside me once hidden or unwritten. Joe Brainard, several decades before I was even born, put his memories in words, matching it seems many of my own memories. I don't always have the words to encapsulate my experiences, but maybe that is what artists like Joe Brainard are for.

I remember a brief period in high school when it was popular to spray a silver streak in your hair.

Also, Joe Brainard's little sentences bring out memories, long forgotten. Sometimes, I had forgotten them on purpose (see below). Others, time had pushed out of mind. It is hard to read I Remember and not say, "I remember that too!" Just ask my wife.

I remember hoola-hoops

All good art (and memories too!) has images. Others often think images (especially in poems) have to have these astounding images, elaborate and revelatory. No, a hoola-hoop is a cool image.

I remember "Red Roses for a Blue Lady."

Sure, the years between Brainard's memories and my reading of his remembrances have depleted the relationship between some of our memories. I love this book because even in those moments when I just don't know what he is talking about, I can draw upon my own memories (something I don't do enough) about my own favorite/memorable movies, songs, celebrities, etc.

I remember a rather horsy-looking girl who tried to seduce me on a New York City roof. Although, I got it up, I really didn't want to do anything, so I told her that I had a headache.

I like to laugh, even with art. Memories are funny, many of them at least, and Brainard allows us to laugh at his past with him.

I dare anyone to read this book and not start thinking about his or her own "I remembers" before getting to page 5. It can't be done. Or I don't believe it.

I remember the Sweetnothings.
I remember not wanting to go inside Jake Bogard's house when I was like 5 or 6, so I crapped my pants. Not liking the feeling, I filled my underwear with leaves. I don't remember that being any better.
I remember when creating a scab on the back of your hand with an eraser was cool.
I remember my sweet scooter.
I remember when I wasn't married.
I remember sleeping a lot more than I do now.

See what I mean.

Thank you Joe Brainard for giving us something to remember.

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