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Last evening I was walking back from the store down 20th Street by the Theological Seminary when someone said Hi as he passed. It was someone I hadn't seen in at least ten years or more but he started talking as if we'd seen each other yesterday while I struggled to remember his name, which I finally did later that night.

Years ago we were both artists but now he works as an art director for the money and pays no attention to art. I told him I work for The Thing, blank stare until I mention new media and a look that says well maybe you're not totally hopeless. I say I'm looking for a place to live around $750 a month and he laughs but then suggests I call a mutual friend because he has a friend going on sabatical and has a cheap place in the Village to sublet. I thank him and we go our own ways.

This morning I see the name of a guy I went to art school with in the list of names of a show in Arizona. I recognize the name because it's oddly spelled while not being an odd name. I google it and find he's about to retire to Arizona after teaching at an art school in Maine for over twenty years. There's a little picture of him but he has a big white beard that doesn't fit with the mental image I've carried around in my head. He does pleasant, colorful landscapes that look like a cross between the splashy abstractions he did in school and the imaginary landscape I was doing. I'm sure they sell well and for a few minues I'm envious of his life. A comfortable teaching gig, a nurse wife who could get work where ever they moved. Retirement. A big white beard you can wear because you're an artist.

He'd just left the navy after a tour of Vietnam when I knew him and was the only person I knew who had a subscription to the Ayn Rand newsletter. He convinced me to read Atlas Shrugged, which I remember as being very long but not as long as Gravity's Rainbow and I'm glad to say it was the latter book that had the more significant influence on me. Of course Rand is probably better if you want a comfortable life.

At art school we competed to make the prettiest paintings because that goal was so out of character for him and he always won. I could draw better, though.

Glenn Renell's work