Relief Issue 7.2 Thinks You’re Pretty Smart

The Picture Book 1939 by A.R. Middleton Todd 1891-1966

As we get ready to print 7.2 (debuting at the Festival of Faith and Writing next week), I’ve been noticing how many of the pieces ask so much from the reader. If art is, or can be, a difficult pleasure, then I think you’ll enjoy issue 7.2, but in that Relief-y way that isn’t satisfied with pat answers or disingenuous questions.

A Dieter’s Prayer at a King’s Table

Jan Davidszoon de Heem


Lord, grant me the strength that I may not fall
Into the clutches of cholesterol.
At polyunsaturates, I’ll never mutter,
For the road to hell is paved with butter.
And cake is cursed and cream is awful
And Satan is hiding in every waffle.
Beelzebub is a chocolate drop
And Lucifer is a lollipop.
Teach me the evils of hollandaise,
Of pasta and globs of mayonnaise.
And crisp fried chicken from the south—
Lord, if you love me, shut my mouth.

Questions or Booking Travel?

1 Gauguin1 copy

Now through June 8 MoMA is exhibiting about 150 works of Paul Gauguin. On MoMA’s event website is a handy map and chronology of his life and work. The time line leads to a moment when in 1895, forty-five year-old Paul Gauguin traveled to Tahiti, leaving his wife and five children behind forever. Native of France, he grew up in Peru, sailed the world with the merchant marine, and worked for years in the French stock exchange. In 1879 he began to paint and exhibit with the Impressionists. When France’s economy collapsed his business failed and after that painted full time. He became intrigued with Rousseau’s theories of the Natural Human and experimented widely with artistic materials and forms. In Tahiti he painted his masterpiece, “Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going?” The title, as you can just see in the link, is written in the upper left hand corner of the painting.


Self-Made Monsters

28 flappybird

Rolling Stone recently published an interview with Dong Nguyen, creator of the viral hit game “Flappy Bird”. The interviewer, David Kushner, writes about Nguyen’s experience as his app surged in popularity:

He hands me his iPhone so that I can scroll through some messages he’s saved. One is from a woman chastising him for “distracting the children of the world.” Another laments that “13 kids at my school broke their phones because of your game, and they still play it cause it’s addicting like crack.” Nguyen tells me of e-mails from workers who had lost their jobs, a mother who had stopped talking to her kids. “At first I thought they were just joking,” he says, “but I realize they really hurt themselves.” Nguyen – who says he botched tests in high school because he was playing too much Counter-Strike – genuinely took them to heart.


The 59th

27 swans

In the fall of 2000, as part of my work for a literary magazine in Boston, I visited William Meredith in the home he shared with his partner, Richard Harteis, in a wooded community near Uncasville, Connecticut.