Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Drift in Spate

In my Sophomore year of High School I had an art class for one trimester. This was all my fancy pants school thought was necessary to instill a creative mind. I won’t go down that route. I haven’t been back there since. You do the math.

There was a cool newly acquired art teacher by the name of Mr. Solo that wanted to jazz things up a bit. I was new to the school too, a transplant from Xavier in Manhattan. In addition to teaching the art class Mr. Solo spawned an art club and also launched a zine called Spate. It was the first time I had come face to face with a no frills creative journal. Students submitted sketches, photography, and even poetry. I am sorry to say that none of my subs made the cut, but I was still eager to participate and went to all the after school meetings.

Things were run like it was an underground Cabbala. The cover for the first issue of Spate was highly debated. There were votes for a Cyclops, a dragon, a clover with a single dew drop. We settled on a generic beast that bore some resemblance to a Beelzebub. When we finally put it out it was the buzz of the school. Most of it was less than kind. A clutch of provincial dead beat parents wanted to know why the heck there wasn’t a young entrepreneur’s club, a young republicans club— God help us— and when they would spring for better computers.

I admit I hoped to be skilled draftsman, but it was far from my reach though I was quite good at shading. I’d like to think of my magnum opus sketch as a brave prophetic interpretation of the Dancing House in Prague that had yet to be erected. You know that warped glass house that tilts gapes into the Vltava that I’m sure would make Billy Joel enormously proud.

Solo never pulled me on the side and said “Hey Johnny I think you need to quit while you’re ahead.”

He welcomed everybody in his class and club. He reminded me of the role Robin Williams’ played in Dead Poets Society or maybe that’s just my imagination running wild. Solo didn’t last a full year. Rumors had it that the Brother Headmaster had enough of the art du jour and wanted to bring in an Economics prof. The next year they did. I don’t know what really happened to my old Solo, but I’d like to think as his named suggested he drifted as a wanderer into his own brand of spate.

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