But What I Really Want pg128

Colorful companion to my memoir The Incompetent Psychic

Tahoe 1980

I couldn’t go through with the agreement to play Norma Rae for the sign designers — a doomed Norma without the backing of a union. I was too cowardly to tell the nice old guys. I packed up the almost empty house into another U-Haul trailer, called to quit the Ad Art job, and left town for good.

I dragooned Stella into helping. For no reason other than it was pretty and I had always had good times there, I moved to the South Shore of Lake Tahoe with a plan to open an illustration and design business. There were several reasons this scheme didn’t pan out. I was hopelessly inexperienced, and clueless about what it took to launch, maintain and grow a small business. I also arrived during the worst drought winter Tahoe had seen in decades. Ski read were patchy slush and dirt, hundreds of service industry employees were being laid off, and a hopeful new design firm had a snowball’s chance on a bonfire of vanity. — From Chapter 6

There were stretches of time waiting for something to happen while trying to start up my first art company. My marketing plan was to make phone calls during the day, and try to meet potential clients in bars at night. Inspired by vistas of the High Sierras, I painted scenic watercolors on sunny winter afternoons. This was the view of Heavenly Ski Area from a nearby dock in Tahoe Keys where I lived for a few months.

Because I had recently studied for an art degree and drank the kool-aid, I knew it was uncool to do traditional landscapes without first soaking them in irony. So I framed these little follies as important museum art — being appreciated by silly cartoon viewers. Lacking quality paper, paint or concepts, I did them anyway. Somehow some of them survived in an old folio long enough to be photographed when digital cameras were invented — long after the discovery that I was free to paint landscapes for the pure joy of it.

A signed copy of Mernie’s memoir is available at www.etsy.com/listing/839838936

Unsigned copies can be ordered wherever books are sold.