Posts Tagged ‘baby’

Mad Men Blues

Thursday, August 20th, 2009

geometric print from J Walter Thompson collectionI haven’t seen Mad Men yet, the television show about a 1960s ad agency, mostly because I don’t have TV service due to my addictive nature. Apparently, even most people with TV reception don’t watch it. But most of us read about it, as it’s become the darling of the punditocracy as well as your everyday TV critic.

This geometric silkscreen has a connection to a real-life advertising agency, a giant of the Mad Men era. A label affixed to the back of the print with masking tape reads J. WALTER THOMPSON ART COLLECTION across the top. Typed on one of the lines below is Miss Guffey’s Office X3054. According to the label, this piece of artwork was acquired on August 10, 1970.

This was another thing that inexplicably never sold at the Iron Fish Trading Co, my old store on Main Street. I have a second similar print by the same artist, identified only as Gaul on the back label, the same as the pencil signature on the front.

We are going to hang them in the nursery, which will be painted in a blue like the blue in this print. The rooms in our house are painted in shades of white. Not so much to show off the art, but to keep the light and shadow pure. That’s mostly my taste, executed pre-relationship. Steph wanted to paint the baby’s room. Blue is the baby boy cliche color, but I like this electric blue.

Weird coincidence: Yesterday’s post featuring a Sesame Street character and today’s mention of Mad Men come together in this somewhat unexpected scenario.

Big Bird

Wednesday, August 19th, 2009

big bird lampWhen Sesame Street first aired in the fall of 1969 I was nine, a little older than the target audience. But I remember watching the show in our apartment in the Bankcroft Building on West 121st Street in New York City. If the Bankcroft sounds fancy, more often than not the elevator was broken and we got to ride the freight with the super.

There were seven of us living in a smallish 2-bedroom while my father got his doctorate at Teachers College of Columbia University across the street. When the front door was opened, the kitchen disappeared behind it. My parents slept on a pullout in the living room. To get some alone time I would read in the clawfoot tub for hours on end.

The college had a school for the children of graduate students. It was probably also some kind of weird 60s education experiment. The grades were combined—I think mine was 4th, 5th and 6th—and the classroom was often chaotic. It was taught by a team of two teachers, and at least one left (possibly drafted) and was replaced during the school year. Lester who took care of the gym tried to teach us how to pick locks. There was so little supervision that I went to the library two days straight to watch the Mets-Orioles World Series (they played in the daytime back then!) on the black and white TV way up on one of those multimedia carts. It was my dad who finally discovered me in there. Despite being a fellow Mets fan, he was not happy.

There was plenty of activity around the Columbia campus in 1969, but I don’t remember too much. I did write a collection of anti-drug poems and ran them off on a ditto machine.  To distribute my work, I placed the poems in pocket holders I had made of construction paper and put them up all over the college. My first self-publishing venture.

It was only a day or two after we found out Stephanie was pregnant that I spotted this lamp in the Salvation Army. And so Big Bird came to be the first object purchased specifically with this future soul in mind.

Since then we’ve acquired about a roomful of stuff–a changing table, a crib,  a bunch of plastic gates, a stroller, a thing that rocks the baby, another changing table, something called a pack and play, two car seats. Steph’s mom gave us a super cute stack of gently used baby boy clothes. There are toys, and a bookshelf full of children’s books. Thankfully, most of the items came from various friends who had babies not so long ago.

It’s an impressive collection of things for someone not born yet. I’m thinking of having a yard sale to lighten his burden.

Random question:  Both Woodstock and Sesame Street are 40 years old this year. Which has had a greater influence on our culture?


Tuesday, August 18th, 2009

26 week sonogramWhen the technician was taking this sonogram of my not yet born son the other day, she remarked he had long bones as she measured his femur. My first thought was something along the lines of longer thighbones=more leverage= World Championships 2035. We left the medical office clutching the fax-like scroll of images created by the ultrasound waves.

Sitting in the car, we stared at them like seers reading tea leaves, our minds with nowhere to go but into the future. When we got home, Stephanie scanned our favorite shot and printed one 4″x5″ for my desk. I then requested a wallet version of junior— at 26 weeks in utero. You tell yourself you’re not going to do stuff like this, but I guess mostly you do.

When my partner announced she was pregnant, one of the first questions to come up was would we decide to find out if it was a boy or girl or would we tell the sonogram technicians to keep us in the dark. Stephanie was certain in her desire to know, while I was pretty sure I wanted it to be a surprise, part of the natural wonder of the whole experience, just like it has been for thousands of years up until the last few decades. Briefly considered was the idea that she would be told and I would not. But of course there would be no way to keep that secret for almost half a year. It was the second sonogram at around 18 weeks where we found out our baby’s gender.

At that  stage, the images on the computer often appeared as galactic swirls and blobs to an untrained eye, but when the young woman said Oh, see right there, I could see what she was talking about right away. Stephanie could not make heads or tails. There, said our tech, the boy parts! Stephanie was still seeing little more than an abstract black and white swirl, so I got up, strode over to the monitor, pointed at the appendages in question and said, rather loudly, Testicles, penis.

There is still plenty of wonder in the whole thing, not the least of which is having a snapshot of your son nestled in your wallet 3 months or so before his birth day.