J.D. Salinger died yesterday, and while I’m titling this post “Glass,” it’s not about Les and Bessie’s kibbutz. That said, Salinger’s death saddens me. I first learned about Catcher in a Shaun Cassidy Q & A in Teen Beat. (Shaun’s hero: Holden.) Probably the same issue as the Leif Garrett centerfold, strawberries and whipped cream spackling his puffy lips.
This was 1976. I found a mildewed Franny and Zooey in the basement soon after. I reread it a few times a year. The guy was 91, decidedly not a mensch, and his passing no David Foster Wallace situation, but still. Seymour. Boo Boo. All those shirt cardboards.
It’s not about Philip either. I saw him once at Gotham Bar and Grill, something architectonic on his plate. I want to upload “Wichita Sutra Vortex” here, but no mp3. I’ll do something ’bout that.
I have always wanted to work with glass. Blow it, basically. I wear a lot of black, but I love color. Love marbles. Rainbows. Tiffany glass. (My kids’ great-great grandfather commissioned an actual Tiffany fireplace in Pasadena in 1905. Clearly not my (Hebrew) side of the family.) Stained glass. As long as it doesn’t look too much like British licorice, millefiori. I don’t like things too decorative. I find most of Chihuly feh for these reasons. I don’t like happy flowers, glossy mushrooms. All those octopi vases, blobbing out like spirochetes.
James Nowak is a Seattle glass artist. He does some outright botanical pretty stuff, and I’m not really into that. What I fall for, from him, is work like “Hard Aquarium.” There’s angularity. And within the lines, Christmas lights, phosphenes, glowing and moving. Like Kandinsky made tangible.
I know someone who kept a row of glass tiles on his bedroom windowsill. Rectangles, primary colors. Sunlight streamed through each, landing on his pillow. The benefit of color, without heat. I never saw the room. The bed is worth imagining. I’d like to wake up in a prism.
Nowak runs a bed and breakfast. You can visit his hot shop and sleep next door. That’s my kind of quickie vacation. I’d beg to be his apprentice for an hour. If you know me, you know I’m not crazy about heat or open flame. It’s called hot shop for a reason. Glassblowing singes you. The last time I lit a propane barbecue, my lashes burned. To paraphrase Dwight Schrute, I have seen a burn victim and I do not want to become one. Still, I would do what I had to do. I’d wear the asbestos glove.