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Posts Tagged ‘O Brother Where Art Thou?’

TV JohnI was taking a shower yesterday when a scent filled my nose.  It was an odd yet familiar smell, a bit like gunpowder wafting from the barrel of a gun.  It wasn’t something that I had anticipated and I don’t know where it came from but I was suddenly reminded of TV John McKeever, a character from the BBC series Hamish MacBeth that ran several years back.  That’s him in the photo.  The show was the story of a quirky,small Scottish village and its constable, Hamish MacBeth (played by Robert Carlyle.)  It reminded me of a Highland version of Northern Exposure except that it had more drama and mystery, a whodunit with a bit of humor.

One of the main characters was TV John McKeever,  so named for having been the first in town with a TV, who was more or less MacBeth’s deputy.  He was a tall, mysterious character with a bit of clairvoyance.  He had experienced a premonition of his own death and knew that his death would be imminent when he would smell  a particular scent of pomade, which is a hair gel of sorts.  Think of the Dapper Dan cans in O Brother Where Art Thou? This was a recurring plot point in the series.

So there I was in the shower, thinking of TV John and the smell of pomade that would be to him the smell of death, and I began to wonder, “What if this scent I now smelled was my smell of pomade?”

What if today were to be my last day on this earth?  How would I live it?  If I were able to scan back through this last day, as though the day were a movie viewed through my eyes, what would I see?  Would today be a good day to carry with me as my last day, filled with images that meant something to me?

All this was within a flash of seconds and I found myself realizing that I was taking so much for granted around me.  I was not stopping, if only for a moment, to take in the way things really appear around me.  To take in the grandeur of the trees of the forest that I walked through every day.  To look up at the stars on a cold autumn night and see the way the stars and planets change position in the sky.  To see how a squirrel races through the limbs of the hickories around my house.

Simple things.  Things that I simply forget to take notice of on a regular basis.  But things that give texture and depth to my life, things of which I would want to take notice on that day when the smell of pomade wafted into my nostrils…


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Far WatchI use a single bird sometimes in my paintings.  The most common meaning for me is of the bird being the watcher, overseeing everything.  It represents patience and wisdom in this case.

I see the bird most often as a hawk but sometimes it’s a crow.  I admire both, the hawk for its physical prowess and the crow for its intelligence.  I remember watching a group of crows chase a hawk and when it appeared the hawk had nowhere to go he started leading the crows upward in  long loops.  As he rose, the crows closed in and just as they were about on him he made this powerful dive that carried him from above the spot where I was on a hillside to a point in the valley below, nearly a mile away.  The crows couldn’t match the dive and were left so far behind they gave up the pursuit.  It was an impressive escape.

Sometimes the bird represents to me a type of memento mori, a reminder of our mortality.  The bird is still the watcher but more of a spirit guide.  

In the spirit of this meaning, I’m segueing into a video of the old gospel song I’ll Fly Away sung by Allison Krauss and Gillian Welch. It feature scenes from the movie from which was taken, the Coen Brothers’ O Brother Where Art Thou?, one of my favorites.  It’s one of those films where when I see it’s on television will turn in it at any point to see what point the movie is at.  I particularly like the look of the film, the way they pulled a lot of the color out, replacing it with a sepia tone that kind of gives it a dated look.  The title of the movie is taken from the great Preston Sturges  film, Sullivan’s Travels.  In it, Sullivan is a movie director of mainly comedies who wants to make a deep, socially conscious film chronicling the poor and downtrodden, to be titled O Brother Where Art Thou?  He sets out disguised as a tramp to get a first hand look at the conditions of the poor and encounters many obstacles along the way.  Ultimately, his film is not made.  That is, until the Coens took the baton and finished the job.  Both are great, great films.

Anyway, here’s I’ll Fly Away


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