What Are We Doing Here?

By: pbcmedia

Aug 28 2009

Tags: , , , , ,



Focal Length:50mm
Shutter:1/0 sec
Camera:Canon EOS 5D

This taxi driver in NYC last week was silent.  Said nothing.  He sat within a Plexiglass safety cube.  Night was falling and I couldn’t even see the back of his head and  I certainly wasn’t chatting him up or observing fabulosity as on other occasions.

But, his cab told me something about him.  He personalized his taxi with red netting and ruffles on the top of the windshield.   Each night when he began his shift on the uncertain streets of New York City, he traveled around with “Honey Kiss”, a car cologne, on his dash.

I suspect in other circumstances, I would have found him quite personable.

In starting this space over 16 months ago, the only illustrated commentary I had ever seen on the web was Maira Kalman in the New York Times, “The Principles of Uncertainty”.  It ran the first Wednesday of the month for a year and I could not wait to see and enjoy each and every installment.

She is a painter, an illustrator, and a writer.

She is back again to the NY Times in a monthly illustrated column, the last Friday of each month, about “The Pursuit of Happiness”.

This month’s is titled “What are We Doing Here?” and considers why people come to America.  I suggest you take a minute and treat yourself to an original consideration of the pursuit of happiness.

Thomas Jefferson could have learned a thing or two and I suspect my silent taxi driver could contribute to the conversation as well.

©Pat Coakley 2009


4 comments on “What Are We Doing Here?”

  1. Love Kalman’s post…. of course, you are as insightful as ever. Only you would find a cab driver with Honey Kiss on the dash…. everyone else is looking for the Cash Cab… you find Honey Kiss man. That sums it up !!!

  2. You’ve reminded me again of Kalmans’ sharp and gentle prose.
    This is why I come to your blog. To be reminded of things that are huge that need to be kept small.

    There are no easy answers.
    My grandmother came here at the turn of the century, with two babies, husband-less, and no grasp of the language.
    She was able to open a beauty parlor, support herself and her daughters and bought, as a favor to another refugee, a few bottles of nail polish which he cooked up in his kitchen.
    He later went on to form Revlon.

    So who deserves to be here?
    Who will pick lettuce and oranges in the hot sun and wash dishes ?

    If we could just learn to keep things small and reacquaint ourselves with patience and acceptance.

    Thanks so much for this post Pat.

  3. Bon bon, I love that story about your grandmother and a refugee friend cooking up some nail polish in his kitchen. Yes, if we could just learn to keep things small and invent “Fire and Ice”, my mother’s favorite lipstick and nail polish from, I believe, Revlon. Ah…

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