Every Saturday, we’ll be posting a new illustration by David Lester. The Mecca Normal guitarist is visually documenting people, places and events from his band’s 25-year run, with text by vocalist Jean Smith.
Back in the ’80s, David Greenberger used to send me copies of Duplex Planet, the publication he created about his interactions at the nursing home he worked at. Writes Greenberger, “In 1979 I took a job as activities director at a nursing home in Boston. I had just completed a degree in fine arts as a painter. On the day that I first met the residents of the nursing home, I abandoned painting. That is to say, I discarded the brushes and canvas, not the underlying desire to see something in the world around me and then communicate it to others. In this unexpected setting I found my medium. I wanted others to know these people as I did.” Greenberger’s questions resulted in vibrantly distorted haiku answers. I think he asked things like, “So, whadda think about storms, Marge?” and “Hey Frank, any thoughts on love?” Mecca Normal and Duplex Planet—two weirdo enterprises connecting in a specific time. I’m not sure why Greenberger sent me Duplex Planet. Maybe I’ll ask him, but what should the question be? Tomorrow marks the 40th anniversary of Live Peace In Toronto, where Yoko Ono performed an incredible version of “Don’t Worry Kyoko (Mummy’s Only Looking For Her Hand In The Snow).” You can watch it on YouTube or elsewhere online. When asked, a certain blogger suggests that the crowd’s lame response is attributable to Eric Clapton’s guitar being ever so slightly out of tune. “What was the question?” you may well ask. Last April, while making a documentary, I videoed friends answering my question: “What did you think when you first heard Mecca Normal?” Answers, as they added up, revealed to me that Mecca Normal was new and different and now we represent that point in time. I wish I’d asked a different question. So much depends upon an answer’s question.