My first major in college was art, but it wasn’t my major for long because my strange inner brew of pride, arrogance, and insecurity couldn’t handle the blistering, soul crushing critiquing that took place on a non-stop basis. First time I’ve ever said that out loud. Damn. Anyway, I moved on to a less emotionally traumatizing major and art became a sideline, which I have maintained to this day.
I think it was in my second year of college that we set up the study board biz. My dorm-mate Kim’s father had a ton of leftover birch plywood that he cut into a lap-study-board shape for her to sand and varnish and sell in the Student Union building to make a little extra spending money. One evening, in the dorm, while she was sanding and I was painting, we had a stroke of genius and realized that between the two of us, we could take orders from customers and create custom painted and decorated study boards. So we made up a bunch of flyers and posted them all over campus. We only got one or two orders that way and we were about to shut down the biz when Kim sold one to this guy she was dating who lived in the boy’s dorm across the parking lot.
Kim pressured the boyfriend to sell them to his friends, and I think he really tried, but he came up empty. He said that one guy agreed to buy one only if he could get one with a [insert preferred slang for naughty bits] painted on it. Naturally we responded that there was no way that was going to happen, and then we fell about the place laughing and making rude, insensitive remarks about the poor guy’s level of desperation. But after all that subsided, it dawned on me that there might be a way to do it without actually painting porn. Because being a failed art major, I knew about Georgia O’Keefe, you see. So Kim swore her boyfriend to secrecy as to our identities, told him to tell the guy that we would do it, and I went to the library to check out a Georgia O’Keefe art book for inspiration and ideas. We also tripled the price for the board. Heh heh.
I’m sure you can predict what happened next. As soon as that study board hit the boy’s dorm, they started selling like particularly titillating hotcakes. We could barely keep up with the orders and worked almost non-stop. We started making money hand over fist. The boyfriend got a cut for taking the orders and helping with the transport and delivery of the boards. He also was in charge of keeping us supplied with cigarettes and Big Gulp diet cokes from the 7-11. He was a pretty good guy because he never revealed our identities. How do I know this? Because Kim and I tested it by walking past the dorm’s tables in the Commons at every meal. We monitored the boys’ reactions and watched their faces and reassured ourselves that our identities, and reputations, were safe. I must say that though I thoroughly enjoyed the secrecy, it was still a little depressing that here I was, the failed art major, now a famous artist, but nobody could know about it. So it is with great relief, and pride, mixed with a little Puritanical shame, that I announce to the world, after all these many years…it is I. I am the girl that painted the [insert preferred slang for naughty bits] picture on your study board in college. First time I’ve ever said that out loud. Damn.
I’ve talked before, probably many times, about my extreme love for Neil Young, but I don’t think I’ve really emphasized the depth of that love enough. All my best work, of any kind, is done with Neil on accompaniment, and he was my steady partner during the whole study board era. In fact, Decade is probably my most played album. I wore out three copies of it on vinyl – the covers fell apart into sections, and I bought replacements, but I saved the sections, so I had a whole bunch of Neil pieces-parts in the Peaches crates. Mesmerizing and almost trance-inducing at times; so richly varied too – sometimes sublimely beautiful, sometimes rough and rude, sometimes simple, sometimes complex – my God, how I love his music. It really just surpasses all superlatives.
It is I…I am the cowgirl, and this place is at my command. Heh heh. This is my favorite recording of “Cowgirl in the Sand”. Almost a religious experience…
Georgia’s flowers. I recommend that you mute the horrible music in this video and watch the slides with the Neil clip above on accompaniment for the full study board art experience.
Questions? Comments? As always, apologies all around to the Spinster Cousins…