Tuesday, June 05, 2007

drudgery vs. following your heart

Several days ago a friend sent me a link to an article in Orion Magazine titled "Burgers a la Thomas Jefferson." It's about a guy named Tod Murphy who started a restaurant in Vermont called The Farmer's Diner. The key concepts are that the restaurant only serves food that was raised or grown within 70 miles and that the food must be affordable. I'm a fan of this concept, and I think a lot of other people are, too. The entire article is worth a read, but one part that particularly grabbed me was this anecdote by Murphy:

"They asked me to speak down in Boston at the IDEAS Conference at the Federal Reserve Bank. The hotel that they put me in was six or eight blocks away, so I was hoofing it over in the morning, and I went by a couple of T [subway] stops, and I was watching people huddled under their backpacks, coming out of the T, going to Starbucks, and then they’re going to their jobs. Then I went into the Federal Reserve where they have these displays set up about social history. They have the 1800-whatevers, and there’s a scythe, and reapers, and binders, and pictures of horses and stuff. So I stopped at the scythe to read the sign. It talked about how people used to be on the land, and it was awful, life was so hard, terrible drudgery, they had no teeth, this kind of thing. But 'drudgery' was the word that struck me. I had just walked through a crowd of people who were the epitome of drudgery, people who are pursuing what is held out as 'progress, living life.'”

Wow. Kind of makes you realize that most Americans are plodding along toward some vague notion of a better life. In my mind, Murphy has found that better life. And it doesn't revolve around daily $4 non-fat lattes.

Also along the lines of people following what's in their hearts, tonight I watched "Craft in America: Community" that WUFT-TV aired a few weeks ago (I TiVoed it). This particular quote resonated with me, both because of how I feel about buying the work of other artists and about producing my own work (sadly, I was unable to credit the speaker since it was a voiceover):

"We're making items that no one needs except for the aesthetic reasons. They're buying our objects because someone thought it up, it's their design, and it comes from the hand."

I also enjoyed the other segments of the program, including the one about Penland School. I have long wanted to Penland. I'm on their mailing list and always drool over the classes they offer in printmaking and letterpress, photography, metals, and books and paper. I think of Penland as a summer camp for grown-ups. Hopefully one day I'll be lucky enough to be a camper there.

And finally, my random thought of the day. Is it possible to sell watermelons from the trunk of a car? I saw a woman attempting to do this today. She had a pile of eight of so watermelons piled up behind her car. She was not-so-casually perched on the back seat, legs hanging out through the open door.

Sure, there's no physical reason you can't sell watermelons in this manner, but will people buy them? You see, Southerners can be darn particular about tradition, and tradition states that you sell watermelons from the back of a pick-up truck. That's just the way it is. Maybe I should've stopped and asked her how business was going, just so that I could know whether you truly can sell watermelons from a car. If she's there tomorrow, I'll stop and ask her.

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