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The Mundane Muse

Thank you, all, ladies and gen tlemen, for tuning in to the first annual webcast of the Jandeks. The only award show that I’m Responsible For ™.

We are gathered here in beautiful—or useful, anyway—Maytag Hall. That is, I am sitting on a foldable step-stool with my laptop on the washing machine at 6 in the morning before work.

I don’t know what you’re doing. It’s really none of my business.

Today—well, for the next 40 minutes, or so, before I’ve got to get the kids up and ready for school—we honor those creative souls with more important things to do than become household names.

In the words of Australian rockers AC/DC, “It’s a long way to the top if you want to rock & roll.” And in the words of Gareth Pank, CPA, and rhythm guitarist for the Every Other Tuesday Rec Room Rokkers, “One more run through ‘Breaking the Law,’ then I’ve got to get home to help Ellen with bedtime.”

Yes, the muses are demanding; and true dedication to craft is an all- consuming thing. To honor your muse, to truly cultivate your craft, one must be singular of purpose, one must honor the art above all else. One must be willing to make great sacrifices—of oneself and others. This can be a torturous decision.

Unless you are, by nature, a selfish prick, a narcissist, a sociopath and/or a needy egomaniac. In which case, it’s pretty simple. So, you know, cheers. But that crowd’s already got their celebrations and symbols. Whether it’s the literal awards handed out in self- congratualory and opulent gatherings of the famous, or merely the warm feeling of superiority afforded by the “marginalization” of the non-conformist artist in a society of shlubs and squares.

These, on the other hand, are the awards for just those folks, the shlubs, the squares, the hobbyists, the has-beens, the hardly weres, the enthusiasts, the dilettantes: My peeps!

In our first category, we recognize efforts made in the literary arts, fiction: And the award goes to . . . Keith O’ Connell, a geologist with the Department of Environmental Conservation, little-league coach, husband, and father of two boys. Keith’s unfinished novel Long Road might well be described as a “soul kiss to a half-remembered American frontier, populated by angel-headed hipsters, drop outs, cut-ups and con artists,” if he could get it out of the desk drawer and past the 56th page. (Recently, his boy Cassady pitched his best game ever, allowing only two hits. The family celebrated at Red Robin.)

Next up, our award for the visual, graphic and/or illustrative arts. This one goes to Lucy Porter, an 11th- grader at Taconic Hills High School, whose Photoshop collages of her parents into scenes from Japanese monster movies make her younger sister, 8-year-old Noelle, giggle till she pees. (Lucy says she’d like to study fashion design in college; Noelle says she’d like to, also, or be on Disney Channel.)

In music, our award goes to Marnie Campbell, proprietor of Toot Sweet bakery, whose cover of “I Am So Into You”—the Shudder to Think version—absolutely destroyed at her second open mic performance, ever. (Immediately after the performance, Marnie said she was thinking of adding a Sugar to Think cupcake to the cases, but also wondered if the adrenaline was making her babble.)

Recognition for accomplishment in filmmaking goes to Jacqueline Forche, recently retired from the post office, who has signed up for an iMovie tutorial.

And now on to one of our most prestigious, which is to say, another, award: The restraint award. Today’s restraint award goes to Kyle Popper, who thought to—but did not—contribute to a meme involving Leonardo DiCaprio, Xzibit and a crudely drawn face uttering a profanity. Kyle, and three friends, instead, went to the trestle with a duffle of spray cans and practiced tagging. (Kyle has not yet decided to go with “Pop” or Wyld Skyle,” but he’s no longer mad at his friends for suggesting “KFag.”)

Today’s lifetime achievement award goes to Elizabeth Barrett Smoot. You probably don’t know her.

Oops, folks, you hear that? That sound means I’ve got to wrap it up. It’s the Hello Kitty alarm clock. Gotta run. We’ll be back here again, sometime. Keep an eye out and feel free to send in any tips. Nominate someone you know doing interesting stuff. Nominate yourself.

Or don’t. We know you’re busy.

—John Rodat

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