Susan's "subject matter, context and medium...present a coherent artistic vision"
John Torreano, Clinical Professor of Studio Art, NYU

"Great stuff. Love your work."
Seymour Chwast

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Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Professor Harlot

Starry-eyed, wine-plied Professor Harlot
Conducts her class in the campus car lot
As an educator, she's rated "not hot"
Can't even deliver an occasional bon mot.

She pretends that she's smart
But she's really a tart
Who knows nothing of art
And does not have a heart.

Her stature is small--just her tales are tall
No one believes she modeled at all
If you answer her whining, puerile call
You'll be the one who'll be taking the fall.

Just when you think you're having a ball
And surrender to her in total thrall
That is the moment she'll make you crawl
All the way down the proverbial hall.

All the while you're listening to rot
She is crying; her tears you must blot
She'll tell your wife that you're awesome a lot
And when your caught, you'll sleep on the cot.

The professor continues the classes she taught
You look in the car lot; you're sorry you fought
She hands you your grades; you're more than distraught
F--no stars!
Worse by far than the day you were caught.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

A Sock for a Sock

"We were inseparable, having a ball in the spin cycle
and that was the last time I ever saw her."

There are at least two ways to lose a sock. The first is when you wash them. Don't you just hate it when you put a pair of socks into the washer/dryer and only one is there when you sort the laundry? I am really miffed when that happens. I sympathize totally with my sock's lonely lost mate, who has to join Socks Without Partners in the Land of the Lost Sock and live out its remaining life as either a single or part of a mismatched pair. Please see illustration directly above.

The second way to lose a sock is even more infuriating, and it is not so good for the wearer. This happened to my brother,Tommy. During suck–I mean sock, that is, said–incident, my mother, a careful laundress of socks, didn't know how it got lost, nor did my sister. My father was away, saving less fortunate sock-wearers at the hospital, so he didn't even know about the loss. Fortunately for Tommy, I, his older sister (who later somehow turned into his younger sister) knew how to handle this sock situation, which sucked. Feeling plucky and hoping for a a little sock luck, I searched far and wide until I finally found the other, more treacherous, sock domain–The Land of the Wrongfully Taken Sock. It was there that I knew I would find my brother's lost sock.

When Tommy was in second grade, he made friends with a group of older boys who seemed very nice at school but were, in fact, bullies. One day they told Tommy that they wanted to walk home with him and maybe play some ball. Tom was flattered that the older boys had befriended him and readily agreed. When they came to the bullies' treehouse in the woods, they invited Tom in. As soon as Tom got inside, the boys blocked the entryway and held Tom prisoner. They were in the mood for capturing someone and he was a convenient victim. These bullies then made Tommy take off all his clothes. After a while they apparently got bored and decided to release him. Tommy told them he couldn't possibly walk home nude and asked for his clothes. The bullies told Tom that since they were nice guys, they would give him one sock to wear for the walk home. (It is at this precise moment that Tom's socks separated, with one ending up in the Land of the Wrongfully Taken Sock.) Poor Tommy, one sock on, one sock off, and with no other clothes, had to crabwalk all the way home, bent over into a contortionist's dream, with only his hands to cover himself.

When he finally got home, Tom explained what had happened. I was horrified and furious. Fortunately, I was familiar with lex talionis, the law of retribution, from a former life in which I had been a Babylonian princess. As a Babylonian child, I had studied the Code of Hammurabi, which laid out the concept of equitable retribution. Before Uncle Hammurabi came up with this idea, if a person were hurt, then he or his family would exact revenge. Usually, the retribution was much worse than the crime, perhaps even death. For example, if someone stole one of your cows, you might steal all of his cows in retribution. Or if you were having a bad day, you and your family might just kill the thief. Uncle Ham put an end to this, restricting the retribution to be no worse than the crime. Some years later, this softened law was incorporated into the Hebrew Bible as "An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth."

Reminiscing like this about the old days in Babylon, I decided that lex talionis was the way to go. I not only had Babylonian law with me but I had the Bible on my side as well. I realized that I could punish those bullies just as they deserved. All I had to do would be to slightly expand "An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth" principle. I immediately sat down and drafted the first amendment to the Code of Hammy in several thousand years: "An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, and a sock for a sock."

Armed with my newly-adopted sock legislation, I went directly to the bullies' lair, stormed in and retrieved my brother's clothes, including the lost sock. Just at that moment the bullies returned and menacingly yelled (not quite as politely as I am recounting the incident in this post) "Hey, what do you think you're doing?" The Babylonian princess in me looked at these transgressors and presented them with a clay tablet setting out my new legal doctrine, which I had written in cuneiform. (You can see what the document looked like in the accompanying illustration.) The bullies, who were barely literate in English, let alone Babylonian, didn't have a clue as to what the tablet said. Taking advantage of their bafflement, I swiftly punched each bully, giving each of them a sock for a sock. Then, I removed from each bully's foot one of their socks, banishing them forever to the Land of the Wrongfully Taken Sock.

Damn, its fun being a princess!

Friday, July 23, 2010


"If we pedal backward, will we get younger?"

Thursday, July 15, 2010


We're celebrating. She just jumped over the moon!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

The Fountain of Sartorial Simplicity

In our youth-oriented culture, we are all searching for the elusive Fountain of Youth. Ponce de Leon couldn't find it and your car's direction lady won't be able to locate it either. You might want to give it a try on foot, but I am certain you will walk until your legs drop off and still not find it.

Youth seekers try to keep themselves young, temporarily at least, by tasting other restorative waters that are easier to come by. Some of the more popular of these are Botox Beach, Restylane River, Liposuction Lagoon, Pool of Plastic Surgery, Exercise Estuary, Rogaine Reservoir and Weight-loss Waterfalls. After immersion in one or more of those waters, the would-be young shop for age-inappropriate clothes in a further futile attempt to seem hip and youthful. These garments tend to be garishly colored, patterned, striped, polka-dotted, zigzagged, sequined, and slogan-and superhero-ridden. This combination of restorative waters and colorful clothing is supposed to help in our efforts at staying young in perpetuity. But in actuality we are only swimming upstream in Clothes Creek.

I know how to save you from this embarrassment. I can guide you to the right body of water. Why do you think I look 29 when my chronological age is 92? That's right, I was born on September 8, 1918. I have been there, bathed in it, drunk of it and I mean drunk! Please understand that although I can lead you to it, I can't make you drink or think. I can simply guide you. But only you can do that which needs to be done to turn your old bones young. The fountain of which I speak is not the fabled Fountain of Youth, but rather the Fountain of Sartorial Simplicity. There is a trail you must follow to get there. Just mount your clothes horse; the old mare knows the way. You will know that you are on the right path when you come to a sign reading "White Shirt Rapids"–just like I did. I desperately needed it and didn't come across it a second too early.

Allow me a brief digression. I first saw the sign when I was a staff illustrator at a daily New York newspaper some years ago. Outrageously, the art director expected me to be at the office drawing at the ungodly hour of 9:30 am. Worse than that, he expected me to stay there until 5:30 pm (sometimes longer if some text were dropped and the resultant hole needed to be filled with a drawing.) I even had to be dressed in proper office attire. Although I can–and indeed like to–dress well, I can not do so at 8:30 in the morning if I also have to take a bath, brush my teeth, blow-dry my hair, drink a cup of cappuccino, feed the dog and cat, catch a bus and be at work at 9:30. Others have pointed out, not unkindly, that my task was made even more challenging by the fact that I generally didn't get out of bed until 9:25. Be that as it may, I was showing up at work looking far from glamorous (OK, not even good) in mismatched outfits. I would grab a navy plaid skirt, and wouldn't you just know that my blue oxford shirt was at the laundry, leaving me only an array of patterned shirts. What could I do? Out of options as well as time, I had to go to work committing one of the worst fashion offenses, the patterned shirt/plaid skirt faux pas.

Back to White Shirt Rapids. The Rapids are most effective for those who want to look well-dressed without the terror of having nothing that matches in their closet. However, swimming the Rapids, though not a prerequisite, is also good practice for the bathing in the Fountain of Sartorial Simplicity. To reach the Rapids, you must pass by some sexy and seductive printed geysers, grand plaid falls, and gyrating multicolored surfs. You must pass all of them by and throw yourself into the rapids. Let its healing waters rush over you and you will emerge totally refreshed. Another more subtle phenomenon will take place as well, although you will not notice it until you are back on land. You will then see that all of the garish colors and bold patterns have been sucked out of your shirt, which is now pure white! You are instantly relieved of all terrifying decisions about what to wear. Henceforth, you will start every day by putting on a white shirt. No matter what else you select, the outfit will work and you will look great.

The need for a dip in White Shirt Rapids and ultimately a sip from The Fountain of Sartorial Simplicity accelerates when you become a senior citizen. Most seniors seem to stop buying clothes once they retire. They are left to choose from a motley assortment of plaids, patterns, stripes and colors acquired over a working lifetime. My fashion advice to them is simple: once you turn 35, start stocking up on solid colors. By doing this you will avoid scaring little children and enraging dogs with your mismatched outfits when you reach your golden years. If you find the Fountain of Sartorial Simplicity early in life it will have sucked the patterns out of your entire wardrobe for you and you will be prepared for your time as a senior.

Take the plunge and you will be cleansed of the primordial slime of garishly colored, patterned, striped and checked clothing accumulating in your closet. This will assure you a permanent aura of youth. So, forget about The Fountain of Youth–The Fountain of Sartorial Simplicity will keep you forever young.

Thursday, July 8, 2010


"These BP stock certificates are delicious--a little too much oil though."

Monday, July 5, 2010

Jelly Donut Grifters

I was returning to my car in the parking lot of a local fruit and vegetable market, thinking about nothing more insidious than how great the haricots verts with herb butter was going to taste at dinner that night. As I reached my car, I noticed a big, black Mercedes parked next to mine with a young man sitting in the front passenger seat. He seemed to be studying me intently. I wasn't sure whether I should be flattered or horrified because I knew I didn't look my best–I never do when shopping. (Actually, I do make an effort to look good at Bergdorf.)

I was annoyed that the Mercedes was parked so close to my car; it was a big lot and there were plenty of spaces. In my usual overly cautious, snail-like manner, I started to back straight out–at about 2 miles per hour–looking to the left, right and turning around to look behind me, as I had been taught. Just as I was safely past the Mercedes, the young man glared at me, leaped out of his car and ordered me to stop. He started screaming that I had scratched the whole side of "his friend's" car. He said he was going to call both his friend and the police and demanded that I wait.

I replied that I would wait for the police but that I was certain my car had made no contact with his. Even though I have on occasion been accused of being oblivious to my surroundings (an accusation that is not entirely without merit), surely I would have felt the impact if I actually had scratched the length of the Mercedes. Since I had felt nothing, I asked him to show me the damage. In response, he gestured to the back rear panel of the car, which appeared to be white. Was the white color a tightly knit mass of tiny scratches? Could I possibly have added this lovely mosaic to his car at two mph without feeling any contact? While pondering these questions, I unconsciously ran my finger over the long white patch on the rear panel and noticed that it left a path of gleaming, black, unblemished Mercedes beneath.

Groping for an explanation of this strange phenomenon, then smiling my most enigmatic Mona Lisa smile, I asked my accuser if he and his friend had spent the morning eating powdered jelly donuts. Although I didn't taste it, the white substance on his car looked and felt exactly like jelly donut sugar. I demonstrated to the young man that whatever the powder was, it came off with the greatest of ease. That only drove him into greater paroxysms of rage. He yelled, "It's not coming off. Get your hands off my car!" I retrieved a soft cloth from my car and started wiping off the "damage." At this, he became totally hysterical and screamed "Get your filthy hands off my car." A bit slow on the uptake (it was still pretty early in the day), it finally dawned on me that I was dealing with a full-fledged maniac. I retreated to my car, locked myself in and waited for the police.

A minute later, his "friend," a bottle blond, would-be bombshell well past her sell-by date, arrived on the scene–a little too quickly and suspiciously unburdened by any shopping bags. She seemed calmer and more reasonable than her friend and gestured to me to roll down my window so we could talk. I deemed it safe to do this since the enraged man was now sulking in their car. I explained that her boyfriend had been aggressive, hostile and rude to me when I was trying to help them by cleaning the jelly donut powder off their car.

Here's where all the time I had logged watching all three versions of CSI came in handy. She said that the young man was not her boyfriend. I replied, "Sorry, friend then." She said "He's not my friend either, he's my son." Then I asked her what the white substance on her car was (even though my personal crime scene investigation had left me pretty sure that it was confectioner's sugar). She said it was scratches from where I had collided with their car. "But your car is black, so why would the scratches be white?" I asked. She looked at me as though I were a simpleton and said "the car is white underneath the black paint and that's what cars look like when they get hit." Although I've never worked in a body and fender shop, I knew not to continue this excursion into Bizarro-car-land. I didn't bother to point out that the white powder was easily removed, revealing the intact, undamaged black surface underneath it.

That's when she suggested that I would probably want to resolve the matter with a cash payment "right here in Brainerd," as it were. She informed me that for $500 they "would forget the whole thing." At this point I realized that she and her son, or whoever he might be, were merely entry-level grifters, since her "son" had already spoiled the scam by calling the police. I knew that once the police were involved I would have to notify my insurance company and let it handle the claim. I got back in my car, once again locked the doors, and waited for the police.

When the police finally arrived a few minutes later (apparently they did not regard a report of a scratching in a parking lot as a high priority) the officer asked me if I was hurt. Apparently the male passenger had told the officer that he had felt two violent impacts and that his neck was starting to stiffen. I, of course, replied that I was fine and that our cars had never made contact. The policeman ascertained that the Mercedes was registered to a construction company (maybe the white substance was construction dust rather than jelly donut powder) and that there were no signs of damage to either car. When I got home I notified my insurer.

I didn't ask and did not care what happened to the pair of inept scammers. They were not very good grifters but I hope at the very least that they enjoyed the jelly donuts.

Sunday, July 4, 2010


Happy Birthday America*
We think you're here to stay*
To save the world from all its ills*
And never float away.*

To thee we'll drink a bourbon toast*
Because you never sway*
Forget about those right-wing pills*
Have a firecracker day!

Thursday, July 1, 2010


Frank Lloyd Wrong