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Steve Saari

Mes Essentiels pour Stereographics par Steve Saari


Re-evaluate when necessary. Case in point, these brass frog bookends. Even though they were a gift from my father, honestly, we were less than excited at first. Brass? Frogs? But shortly after we got them, we were invited to a celebrated art director friend’s apartment, which was not only one of the most creatively, surprisingly, and wonderfully decorated spaces we had ever been in, it was home to the identical set of brass frog bookends, placed proudly on one of his shelves. After seeing them in this dazzling context, we not only abandoned the idea of getting rid of them, but they’ve also followed us everywhere we’ve been since and will probably be with us to the end.

Maintain perspective. I dug up this petrified oyster shell when we were doing some gardening. At 8 ½ inches long and nearly 2 pounds, this is no ordinary oyster shell. The island we live on is world famous for its shells. In fact, it is comprised mostly of shells, which have worn down over the years to form the land we now live on. I took this shell to our local museum, where they informed me that it is likely from the Cretaceous period (145 to 66 million years old). Now this crustacean-cum-rock is a constant reminder that we cocky little hominids are just a very small part of a very old story.

Same as it ever was. I came of age in the Walkman/cassette era, which, unlike vinyl, has not nor probably ever will, enjoy a renaissance. They were hissy, prone to distort in hot car interiors. But we quickly learned they were a great way to assemble and share playlists. The mix tape was often a treasured gift, shared hopefully, sometimes nervously. And received gratefully, often joyously. I still have mix tape buddies, some of the same friends I shared cassettes with. We share digitally almost exclusively now but keep it to the same 15-20 song format that the 60-minute running time of the cassette once dictated. Regardless of the format, it’s still one of the most fun ways to engage.

Keep an open mind. My wife found this title in a used bookstore, attracted at first by the cover. But she soon discovered it was among the most arresting, moving memoirs she’d ever read. “You’ve got to read this,” she said. “I know it sounds like a children’s book, but it’s really quite amazing.” She was right. This book is amazing. Quite unlike any other memoir you will ever read. In fact, it was (not surprisingly) republished shortly after we found our old, used copy, and even turned into a one-woman play with Linda Hunt.

Action! With these Beats Pro earbuds and my iPhone (insert devices of your choice here) I can score and sequence all the scenes, moments, and ever-changing locations that make up the movie of my life, which unfortunately I won’t get to see until the end – and probably much too fast to really enjoy – but hey, the soundtrack’s been great so far.

Cultivate friends with taste. Back in the mists of 2001 here in the U.S., almost no one knew anything about Shack. One who did was a good friend of mine whose sister had moved to the U.K. and introduced us to them. Hearing them was like love at first sound. We kept thinking “they’re going to be huge over here”. But they never were. In fact, they weren’t nearly as big in their native England as the music ought to have made them. But they kept plugging along, polishing, and adding to their mystique. By the time of Here’s Tom with The Weather, they were one of our all-time favorite bands. This release might be my favorite Shack album, but it’s hard to pick a favorite. Like most who have been featured on Les Essentials, I have a long, very diverse and ever-growing list of music that I love and that has become a part of my life. It’s hard to pick one artist or album to represent that love. But this is as good as any.

It’s only natural. My parents discovered me at age two drawing wild circles in crayon on their new hardwood floors. At first outraged, but gradually intrigued, my dad brought reams of copy paper home from work and spread it all over the room and let me squiggle to my little heart’s content. The drawing never really stopped. Not in all the classrooms at school (where a teacher caught me making a caricature of him, then paid me for it after class and said he would frame it). Not even in my job as a writer, then creative director at various ad agencies. During lockdown, I picked up this Winsor & Newton watercolor set and began to work almost exclusively in color. It has become therapy. A daily ritual. And although I’m not especially good and have no real motive other than to make marks on paper, it’s become an essential part of my life.

A romance as only Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger could imagine it. Starring Wendy Hiller as the headstrong Joan Webster, who leaves England to marry an older, wealthy industrialist on the isle of Kiloran in the Scottish Hebrides. A determined plan that unravels when unforseen events, and a dashing young naval officer, intervene. This film so captivated Martin Scorsese’s long-time editor Thelma Schoonmaker that she made a pilgrimage to all the locations of the production, then met, and ultimately married the film’s director, Michael Powell. Who says romance is dead?

Nothing says love like a robe your wife has sewn with her own hands just for you. Especially when you had impulsively bought two and a half yards of vintage Hawaiian fabric – only to learn it was not nearly enough to turn into a robe unless you were, say, a toddler. And you had bought the last two and a half yards of that vintage fabric on earth. Only then do you discover how kind, resourceful and creative your wife is – when with utter determination she finds some complimentary fabric and turns what would have been a nice, if somewhat ordinary robe into something a Hawaiian king or perhaps, a Samurai warrior might sport. There’s heroism in the littlest things sometimes.

Although I reside in a place that boasts some of the world’s most spectacular sunrises, I am not a morning person. I need help. Yorkshire Gold is my drug of choice. One cup and I am functional. Two cups and I am ready for adventure. Even if that adventure is only at the end of a laptop keyboard.

Steve Saari
Janvier 2024

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Mes Essentiels pour Stereographics par Steve Saari
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