Author Archive: Christopher Waldrop


I can count the number of car accidents I’ve been in on one hand with fingers left over, even after recently having someone run into me. I’d come to a stop because a car in front of me came to a stop and I have this memory, although it’s a bit fuzzy, of looking in the rearview mirror and thinking, That white car behind me is coming up awfully fast. Then there was a bump, and a second bump, and, after I put the car in park, I got out. The young woman in the white car that had crashed into me got out, and there was a red car behind her that was angled as the guy driving it had tried to swerve but crashed anyway. And we all three yelled at each other, in unison, “Are you all right?”

After confirming that the three of us seemed to be okay we stepped off to the side—luckily this all happened right next to an abandoned parking lot—and started the process of making calls and sharing information. I called the non-emergency number to file a police report and was told the white car that hit me had a crash alert and that police, the fire department, and EMTs, including an off-duty EMT who just happened to be driving by and stopped to make sure we were all okay before the others showed up, were on their way.

And then the sharing really started. We all introduced ourselves, I got the insurance information from the other two drivers, and the young woman who’d been driving the white car told me she’d lived in Nashville her entire life, she was an assistant manager at a coffee shop, and she’d just gotten her father an Alaskan cruise for Christmas. I hope he doesn’t read this or, if he does, that it’s not a surprise.

I didn’t learn as much about the guy who’d been driving the red car, but we all did have a nice chat, standing around in the noonday sun on hot asphalt while cars went by, crackling over the debris of our accidents. The other two cars needed to be towed—I also learned the young woman has a brother who owns a tow truck, so she had that taken car of—but I was able to drive away. So, after we’d all been checked out, given our statements to the police, and exchanged the necessary and unnecessary information, I, feeling a bit awkward, said, “Well, it’s nice to have met both of you. I wish the circumstances had been better.” Then I left.

That is, of course, not the end of the story. There’s still insurance to deal with. I’m the only one who’s not at fault so at least I’ve got that going for me. I also felt really calm, and that worried me. I’ve read about people who walked away from near death experiences thinking they were the bravest person in the world only to have a breakdown a few days, or even a few weeks, later. Is that going to happen to me?

Maybe not. The other accidents I’ve been in have left me a little shaken but with no lingering effects. In eighth grade my father was driving me and some friends to school and had stopped at an intersection when a van that was going well over the speed limit slammed into the back of his car. I was in the front seat with my seatbelt on and I distinctly remember blacking out briefly then thinking someone had hit the car with a rock before my friend John said, “We’ve been hit.” The trunk of my father’s car was completely crushed and I had to get out and wrench the back door open so my friends could get out. Luckily my father had just traded in his Pinto.

This the first time I’ve been in an accident as the driver, and, even though I wasn’t at fault, there’s nothing good about being in an accident. I tense up a little when I’ve stopped at a red light or a stop sign and I see cars coming toward me in the rearview mirror, but going forward I keep my eyes on the road ahead. That’s all I can do. 


Fool’s Gold.

Source: Wikipedia

Costco is selling gold bars. Or they were. Apparently they’ve all sold out now. That’s okay—I have a Costco membership and there’s a lot of other stuff there I’d rather have. I love Costco because it’s the only place I can get a seven-gallon jar of Nutella, which is almost enough to last me a month. And I used to go there to get a free lunch from the samples they were giving away. Well, free if you don’t count the membership price. I went there with my parents once and they were giving out free samples of mini-bagel pizzas. My father went back so many times that finally the lady who was handing them out just said, “Here, sir, just take the whole tray.”

I lalso ove gold. Even though, as far as I know, I don’t own anything made of gold—no jewelry, no coins, not even a gold tooth, which I’d only put in for Talk Like A Pirate Day—I love that this weird yellowish metal that’s not really good for anything is one of the most valued things on the planet. Yes, I know, gold is a really good conductor—even better than copper—but how many houses do you know that are wired with gold? Because if they were they’d need all that conductivity to run a superpowered security system. Gold is valuable because its color is distinctive and it’s so non-reactive if you find some krennerite rocks you can put them next to a campfire and gold will literally ooze out. That happened in the Australian town of Kalgoorlie in the 1890s. When people discovered the bricks they’d built their homes out of contained small amounts of gold they literally started tearing the town apart, finding, in some cases, as much as two ounces of gold for every ton of rock. And I hope they got something out of that because you can build a house with a ton of bricks but you can’t sleep in two ounces of gold. That’s what I love about gold, though, and also why I don’t really want any: people get so stupid about it. One of my favorite Twilight Zone episodes is “The Rip Van Winkle Caper” about four criminals who steal a million dollars worth of gold—back in 1961 when it was $35 an ounce. It’s up to $1,865.74 now. But when they wake up in 2061 it’s worthless because “they figured out a way to manufacture it.”

So here’s a tip from Rod Serling: sell your gold some time in the next thirty-eight years.

I also hope I’m around in 2061 because I would really love to have a car with giant plastic domes and no seatbelts. Even more than gold.

Source: The Twilight Zone Vortex

And The Beat Goes On.

My high school Junior year, in song:

First week of school:

“School Days” by Chuck Berry

Second through fourth week of school:

“Rock and Roll High School” by The Ramones

Fifth week of school:

“The Hard Way” by The Kinks

Sixth week of school, first report card:

“The Happiest Days Of Our Lives/Another Brick In The Wall Part 2” by Pink Floyd

Seventh through tenth week of school:

“I Don’t Like Mondays” by The Boomtown Rats/Friday I’m In Love by The Cure

Eleventh week of school:

“School Mam” by The Stranglers

Twelfth week of school, second report card:

“Beauty School Dropout” by Frankie Avalon

Thirteenth through fifteenth week of school:

“Mark Me Absent” by The Clash

Sixteenth through seventeenth week of school:

“Parents Just Don’t Understand” by DJ Jazzy Jeff And The Fresh Prince

Eighteenth week of school, third report card, winter exams, getting ready for the holidays:

“I Hate My School” by Necros

Nineteenth week of school, new year, new semester:

“Entry of the Gladiators” by Julius Fucik

Twentieth through twenty-third week of school:

“Flight Of The Bumblebee” by Rimsky Korsakov

Twenty-fourth week of school, fourth report card:

“Five To One” by The Doors

Twenty-fifth week of school:

“Manic Monday” by The Bangles

Twenty-sixth through twenty-ninth week:

“Ball Of Confusion” by The Temptations

Thirtieth week of school, fifth report card:

“Land Of Confusion” by Genesis

Thirty-first week of school:

“Haunted When The Minutes Drag” by Love & Rockets

Thirty-first week of school, again:

“The Reflex” by Duran Duran

Thirty-second week of school:

“Jump” by Van Halen

Thirty-third week of school:

“You Don’t Know What You’ve Got” by Joan Jett & The Blackhearts

Thirty-fourth week of school, writing papers, looking ahead to summer:

“Touch Of Grey” by The Grateful Dead

Thirty-fifth week of school, final exams begin:

“The Show Must Go On” by Three Dog Night

Thirty-sixth week of school, finishing final exams, summer vacation, final report card hopefully lost in the mail:

“We Gotta Get Out Of This Place” by The Animals


This last weekend wasn’t at all what I had planned. There’s an old saying about the best laid plans and mice and men, but my plans were really pretty loose. I planned to drop some glass off at the recycling center, which I got done, and I planned to go for a walk around the park. Then I had, well, a major incident that completely threw off my schedule for the rest of the weekend. It wasn’t even one of those Whack-A-Mole weekends, the sort where, every time I think I have enough time to go off by myself, something comes up and I need to deal with it. That’s actually what most of my workdays are like–I think I’ve gotten everything under control, I can take a breath, and suddenly something comes up that has to be addressed right now.

It’s a pretty frustrating feeling, especially on a Saturday morning, to be driving along thinking, hey, the whole weekend is my oyster, and then, out of nowhere, something comes up right behind me and that’s the whole day gone. And so much more to be dealt with.

Then, with Monday here, I decided to go for a walk to Centennial Park, just to get out and clear my head, but there’s so much construction going on, and so many sidewalks closed off. I get that some older buildings need to be refurbished, or completely rebuilt, but by the time I got to the park it was time to turn around and go back.

And then, taking a different way back to avoid most of the construction, I passed by a catering truck, and the message Made fresh every day stuck with me.

Yeah, I feel a little fresher now, even if I do need a shower.

You Can Do It.

Source: Tenor

There are two things happening in the art world that are completely unconnected but, being me, I can’t help connecting them—at least in terms of what they mean. The first is that some art historians and critics are using the fact that 2023 is the fiftieth anniversary of Picasso’s death as a reason to examine his legacy. Again. As if Picasso’s legacy doesn’t get examined every single time someone walks into an art class. And you know you’ve reached a special level of fame when people celebrate the year you died.

The other thing that’s happening is Bob Ross’s first painting that he made on his PBS show is going on sale for nearly $10 million—about the same price many Picasso paintings go for, if you can find them for sale. There are probably Picasso drawings—sketches even—that’ll go for that much.

There’s a really strong contrast between Picasso and Ross. Picasso was, to be blunt, a monster. Art historians consider his work, primarily cubism, to be the major break between old figurative traditions and the many -isms of the 20th century that followed, but he was a horrible person who destroyed lives. His mural Guernica remains a powerful statement on the horrors of war and yet he was a rapist.

Bob Ross, on the other hand, developed his famously calm and quiet demeanor because his time as a master sergeant in the Air Force left him never wanting to yell at anyone ever again. He may not have broken any major ground in an artistic sense—although that’s very subjective—but he was patient and kind. He was an all-around good guy whose philosophy about “happy little accidents” applies just as much to life as it does to art. The only negative thing I know he ever said is that he hated his perm, which he originally got to save money on haircuts, but he kept it because it was his trademark look. I’ll be honest: I don’t really like Bob Ross paintings, but I feel like that’s a problem with me. If I didn’t know so much about art maybe I’d like them more, and I really wish I did. Picasso’s legacy has clouded his work. Ross’s legacy should brighten his. Anyway it’s all subjective and it’s okay to like whatever you like.

Picasso saw himself as competing with other artists, even, in his later years, using his influence to make sure galleries shut out artists he didn’t like. Bob Ross believed everyone could paint, and encouraged everyone to paint if they wanted to, sharing techniques. I loved watching Bob Ross’s show when I was a kid. I didn’t appreciate his personality at the time but I was fascinated by how just a few strokes with a specially shaped brush could add snow, and depth, to a painted pine tree, or how a few swipes with a palette blade could become a mountain.

I know people looked at, and still look at, Picasso’s paintings and say, “I could do that.” He never cared about inspiring others but he does. And Bob Ross made paintings and said, “You can do this.” One was selfish, one was generous, but the one thing they have in common is they both encouraged people to make art.  

Have Bag, Will Travel.

Source: The Verge

A friend sent me an article about, well, the headline says it all: “Honda’s Motocompacto scooter will satisfy your secret desire to ride an electric suitcase to work” and it made me strangely angry even before I read the article. I should know better. I’m pretty sure I’ve known the slang acronym RTFA–the polite version is “Read The Freakin’ Article”–for as long as there have been comments sections where people offer hot takes without really knowing what they’re talking about. I got angry before I realized it’s not really a suitcase. That is, it has no storage space. It’s just the least cool-looking version of a scooter ever. It’s not road-safe and would be a menace on sidewalks so I’m not sure where you’d ride it. And it doesn’t have any storage space because any added weight would just reduce its already ridiculous maximum range of twelve miles.

The ”electric suitcase” description set me off because I used to carry a lot of stuff to and from work. I still have a messenger bag, although I haven’t used it in years, that I would use for carrying writing materials, books, tablet, and assorted items back and forth. I tried to take everything that I thought I might want on the bus ride home, which is an important point. I could carry all that stuff because someone else was doing the driving. I could read, write, listen to podcasts, even watch videos occasionally if the bus’s wifi were actually working—all things I would not want to do while driving.

And let me go even further about the “electric suitcase” description because there really is such a thing which, in spite of my knee-jerk reaction to the Motocompacto, is a great idea. People with mobility issues need to be able to carry their stuff too. It might not be great for getting to and from work but it does seem like the ideal thing for getting around airports.

What I, personally, really want is a better carry-on. I don’t travel much but when I do I stuff as much as I can into a bag that will fit in an overhead bin. Checking luggage always makes me nervous because I don’t want to worry about my stuff ending up on another plane or maybe being dropped on the tarmac somewhere. Most of the time, if I can’t fit it in my three-foot-by-eighteen inch rolling case it stays at home.

In spite of traveling light anytime I show up somewhere with my carry-on I can’t resist saying, “I know I’ve got a lot of baggage but it’s okay. I’m seeing a therapist.”

Good Advice.

Usually when I see graffiti there’s some weird part of my brain that kicks up all the art history and criticism I’ve ever read and automatically tries to place it in some kind of meaningful context. I ask myself some of the standard questions a museum curator, gallery owner, critic, or art historian might ask, like, What does this mean? What was the artist trying to say? How does this fit into the culture in which it was created? I guess the one question I don’t have to ask that a museum curator probably thinks about is, How much does this cost? The gallery owner probably thinks, How much can I get for this? And if it’s a collector and not the artist selling it they’re thinking, Let’s claim this is worth a completely ridiculous amount, because, you know, those absurd art prices for junk we’ve all heard about are really a scam pulled by rich people to have a big tax write-off, but that’s another story.

Sometimes, though, none of that happens. Sometimes I just see some graffiti, laugh, and go on, and that’s all there is.

Put A Paper Umbrella In It.

Left Hand Brewing Company pint glass.

I’ve never been much of a cocktail drinker—I usually go for a craft beer when dining out—although on a couple of special occasions I’ve ordered a martini or a Manhattan. I remember being really disappointed once when a waiter brought me a martini in a short glass with a thick base—the kind of glass that should be used for an Old Fashioned or straight whiskey on the rocks. I wanted one of those long-stemmed glasses because they look cool. And supposedly there’s a logic in them too: the design is to keep the liquid cool longer. There’s a reason a brandy snifter is designed to be cupped, allowing your hand to warm it and also swirl it. Even different styles of beer have their own distinct glasses—I only have a few standard pint glasses in the cupboard so apparently I’ve been drinking stouts and IPAs all wrong, though they taste just fine to me.

What got me thinking about this is that with the rise of cocktail culture there are some men who have a problem with their fancy drinks being served in fancy glasses or with fancy garnishes. According to a Business Times article it’s mostly guys in their thirties who are afraid stemware or other distinctive glasses don’t look “manly”. Some bars even put pictures of what their cocktails will look like in their natural state in case these guys are afraid having a Singapore sling will make them look weak so they ask the mixologist to dump it in a Solo cup. With ice.

I have a couple of thoughts about this. The first is, even if the glassware design doesn’t really enhance the flavor or experience of a drink, even if it’s all psychological, the mental approach matters. A finely crafted cocktail deserves to be savored, slowly. I really like the trend of non-alcoholic cocktails. People who don’t drink alcohol should still be able to go to a nice venue and have a distinctive beverage.

The second thought is, guys, grow up. Pick a drink based on what you like, not how you think it’ll make you look.

Source: Tenor



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