Wednesday, May 5, 2010

of how terrible orange is and life

Yesterday I went to the "1964" art exhibit at the Walker Museum, with my printmaker friend JW.
I saw the below print, "Standard Station", by Ed Ruscha, and got all excited about how I want to look beyond Star Trek's links to 1960s design and look at '60s art.

Orange sky planets were big in Star Trek--especially during their losing third season, like in the episode these two stills come from: "The Cloud Minders". (Budgets had been slashed--were they reusing the special effect backdrops?)

Orange and Blue
I came home to an e-mail from the Finnish Friend, sending me a link to this article:
Magic Minimalism: The Star Trek Look", by Mervyn Nicholson, "Bright Lights Film Journal, May 2010.

It gave me that mixed feeling of gratitude, that someone else had made the connection (and done the labor of pointing it out);
and grumbliness, that someone else had made the connection (and done the labor of pointing it out).

Yes, life is terrible.
And orange, to borrow from this poem by Frank O'Hara (1926-1966). (Sardines?)

"Why I Am Not a Painter"

I am not a painter, I am a poet.
Why? I think I would rather be
a painter, but I am not. Well,

for instance, Mike Goldberg
is starting a painting. I drop in.
"Sit down and have a drink" he
says. I drink; we drink. I look
up. "You have SARDINES in it."
"Yes, it needed something there."
"Oh." I go and the days go by
and I drop in again. The painting
is going on, and I go, and the days
go by. I drop in. The painting is
finished. "Where's SARDINES?"
All that's left is just
letters, "It was too much," Mike says.

But me? One day I am thinking of
a color: orange. I write a line
about orange. Pretty soon it is a
whole page of words, not lines.
Then another page. There should be
so much more, not of orange, of
words, of how terrible orange is
and life. Days go by. It is even in
prose, I am a real poet. My poem
is finished and I haven't mentioned
orange yet. It's twelve poems, I call
it ORANGES. And one day in a gallery
I see Mike's painting, called SARDINES.

As always, Star Trek screencaps from


ArtSparker said...

Another blogger quoted this very poem some months back, not , I hasten to add, in a Star Trek context, I must tell her about this post. Orange is the color of fast food restaurants, as in "Eat up and get the $#@!! out". Seems appropriate for a final season (blue, the complementary color, is restful and conducive to calm thought).

Margaret said...


Orange is supposed to be the happy color, right? Happy and harsh as hell: the color of a sunset, or an apocalyptic sky, or rattlesnake venom. Seems happy in a deranged way. Seems young, too; (I swore by orange when I was 8-9-10, and I think kids in general have a liking for it.)

Mysterious how well orange and blue, the colors of fire and water, feed off of each other and swell in splendor.

Clowncar said...

when I think of orange and the 60s, I think of bottles of Orange Fanta, pulled from one of those old school vending machines by the neck on a hot summer day.

momo said...

The image of the cold Fanta bottle brings back memories!

I know that feeling, when you have a writing project, and then you read something....
Great poem!

Lill said...

I LOVE this poem! It connects absolutely directly with some of my favored ideas about poetry I write/would like to write-- ordinary language; beauty in the form and use of language; consideration of ideas, that is, a poems is a place for ideas/emotions/human experience to be considered in an aesthetic manner.

It made me laugh, too.

fresca said...

+ Orange Kool-Aid and orange jello---those acidy bright colors.

LiLL: It is rather like you, isn't it?