I found this note folded up in our mailbox the other day, and my reaction was … emotional. “I can’t believe I get to live here, in this place, with these people.”
Mo is an artist who lives a block down our street, towards the river. She fashions flowers out of old tin cans, which are all over the front of her house and adorn other houses and businesses all over the Bywater. Lately, she’s been painting the old, tough bases of palm fronds to look like alligator heads. More of those are going up on the front of her house, which doubles as her gallery / shop.
Mo is tall and incomprehensibly thin. I’ve never seen her wear shoes, even when she walks blocks to the store. She wears electric blue eye makeup every day. And Mo cusses like a sailor who stubbed his toe. When my son was in town and we passed her house on our way to Crescent Park, it went like this:
“Rock and roll, m*****f****r!”
Wednesday evening, Mindy and I were eating dinner on our front porch when Mo walked by (barefoot, of course). We asked how she was doing and she told us it was an up and down day dealing with the COVID blues, but she was getting through it with the help of her song of the day — “Galaxy” by War. I love the band, but wasn’t familiar with the song, so I pulled it up on YouTube.
I can see how this would help battle the blues. When she walked by on her way back home, we played it for her. Mo’s smile was huge while her long, wiry limbs swung to the beat like one of those inflatable cylinders they put in front of mobile phone stores to attract attention. We could tell she appreciated our interest in, and fondness for, her song of the day.
Thursday morning, Mindy and I were heading out when I spotted this note in our mailbox. There’s a lot to unfold here. Let’s start with Mindy’s favorite aspect of it — the mixed media. I count five different writing implements. This is communication, and this is art.
I was blown away by her album choice. Led Zeppelin was so huge that it’s hard to describe one of their albums as obscure, but “Presence” is. It sold the fewest copies. None of its songs are staples on classic rock stations. I’d almost forgotten it existed. “The Object” Mo refers to in the note is the odd, obelisk-shaped…thing?…uncomfortably featured in the album’s artwork.
“It’s Jim’s favorite, too!” Jim? As in Jimmy Page? Did Mo babysit Jimmy Page’s kids in New York city in 1986? I asked her and she corrected me. “I babysat Jimmy in the Plaza hotel. He asked me what my favorite Zep album was, and all I could think of was ‘Presence.’ He said, ‘That’s mine, too.'”
That leaves the Beverly Hillbillies non sequitur (a non-sequitur as far as we know so far), added with a return to the pen. That’s Mo. That’s my neighbor. This is home.