My 30 gig iPod contains an enormous eclectic collection that includes baroque, classical and romantic period music along with Mississippi Delta Blues, zydeco, and old-time rock & roll. I usually put the thing on shuffle mode and am often struck by the unexpected juxtapositions.
Yesterday I listened to one of the late Beethoven quartets, which was followed by the Mamas & the Papas singing the haunting 60s song,"California Dreamin."
Got down on my knees
And I pretend to pray
The word California reminded me of being in sunny San Deigo in the 70s doing a truly boring story on highway beautification. A civil engineer told me that the Coronado Bay Bridge--over there, see?--was "Governor Brown's last erection," a great quote that for obvious reasons never appeared in my article.
Then another memory, of high school in the 50s. They put me on a vocational track, since I failed biology, algebra, and most of my other subjects other than English. I took three years of printing. The first thing Mr. Franklin Pearce Eark required of me was to memorize the layout of the California Job Case. It took a while, but eventually I could correctly identify which letter or number or symbol belonged where. Then he taught me how to assemble type, and to accurately justify each line using a composing stick, a shallow open-sided metal box.
Many years later in New York I encountered the work of Joseph Cornell, and his surrealistic shadow boxes. I was struck by the similarity of his work to the tray of lead type I had labored over in my youth. Both had numerous compartments carrying the essential elements of language and images, of thought, of meaning.