This is one of my favorite works of art at The Minneapolis Institute of Arts. It’s “Santos Dumont – The Father of Aviation II,” 2009, by Kehinde Wiley. Until recently it hung in the Baroque Gallery among other works depicting the go-to subject matter of the Old Masters – religious figures and scenes. It was stunning to see “Santos Dumont” side-by-side with these paintings because the poses of the two figures evoke that of religious paintings from times gone by and yet it’s a thoroughly modern painting in tone.
I enjoy going to the Minneapolis Institute of Arts because it’s a place to unplug. You wander about, looking at art and making what you will of it. No need to Facebook it or tweet about it.
I’ve been thinking about Twitter a lot lately. The thing about Twitter is that it is such an ephemeral medium until the moment you die. Then, if you are a Twitter user,Â it can suddenly define you. Your last tweet encapsulates you. It’s your last message to the world and, sort of, what you stood for.
This scares me a lot. It could go horribly wrong. What if your last tweet was something like:
Hey 🙂 who has a science exam tommorrow?? I do and im gonna fail!!!!
You know who got lucky with this? Heavy D. His last tweet, before dying of a blood clot, was “Be Inspired!” I believe that the “I” was indeed capitalized. Be Inspired. How inspirational! And so we remember him as an artist, as someone who broke through boundaries and enriched our lives with “Now That We Found Love.”
His last tweet could have easily been something like, “H8 waiting in line at Arby’s.”
Then what would we have thought?
Other famous last tweets include:
- “Green” by Dan Wheldon, the Indy 500 champ who died in a wreck
- “My interview in Bazaar with Kim Kardashian came out!!” by Elizabeth Taylor
- A photo of himself drinking with friends tweeted by Ryan Dunn from Jackass just hours before dying in an auto wreck.
- “… Stuck in the plane on the runway. You can always count on US Air.” by Billy Mays, the infomercial king, after the tires of the plane he was on blew out during landing. Cause of death was heart disease (the silent killer).
- “oinka oinka oinka why you awake” on Amy Winehouse’s official Twitter feed. True fans are quick to point out that it was NOT her personal account. Still, baffling.
What to do about this? Treat every tweet as if it could be your last? You see people on Twitter taking this approach with their goodness. Their tweets are things like, “Good Morning Twitter Friends!!! What can I help you with today??” One imagines them sliding into their chair with a headset on, like a customer service representative.
Or they spend their time diligently pounding out tweets that are quotes from Gandhi or the Buddha or even Mark Twain.
While I can’t imagine becoming a Twitter Do-Gooder, my tweets are far from what I’d like to be my lasting legacy. Let’s take a look at some of my recent activity:
- James Cameron is like, “Yeah, I can do anything I want. Anything at all. So I’m going to spend my time making this old movie of mine 3D.”
- Walgreens called me while I was in Walgreens. Whoa.
- “Disappointment is a beautiful woman reading Ayn Rand.” From the short story “A Bridge Under Water” by Tom Bissell. Two thumbs waaaaay up.
- Hey, MN friends. I’m looking outside and I can see. It is not dark out. It is 4:57. We will win this
- Here’s something that’s not boring: Handmade Ryan Gosling. bit.ly/txiHlB
- I agree with my sister, the phrase “skill set” has to go in 2012. If you define yourself by one “set” of “skills,” you are boring.
Actually, while a single tweet could be embarrassing when trying to sum up a life, it turns out that a decent eulogy could be written from just a handful of tweets. For example:
“Rebecca was a person charmed by the little things in life. Once, she got a call from Walgreen’s automated call system regarding her prescription while she was in Walgreens picking up said prescription. Her mind was blown! She was determined to make it through the harsh Minnesota winters, she found Ryan Gosling and crafting to be two things that made life worth living and she loved her sister. While she, like many of us, found the ways successful filmmakers like James Cameron choose to squander their time confusing, she took comfort in good short stories.”
Done and done. Note to my loved ones – feel free to use this should I die within the next few weeks or even months.
Reading: Finished Just Kids by Patti Smith (Yes, it’s as great as everyone says it is) and Sleepwalk With Me by Mike Birbiglia (going to see him on Feb. 13th at the Guthrie Theater). Next up: a titillating memoir by Carre Otis (she of modeling, Mickey Rourke, heroin fame) called Beauty, Disrupted. I got this book from the library and I had to wait months, yes, months to get it. Shows you what people really want to read.
Watching: I just watched, for the first time, Metropolitan by Whit Stillman. It’s about some preppy college students who are home for Christmas break and making the rounds of the Christmas balls (I’m not sure this kind of thing actually happens anymore. The Christmas deb balls, I mean). Whit has definitely been one of my cultural blind spots. He’s custom-made for me and yet I was only marginally aware of his existence until a few weeks ago. I think this is what keeps art and culture exciting – who’s out there that you don’t know about yet?
I really liked this film, once I got used the stiff line delivery. In some ways it felt like a play.Â I need to watch it a second time, now that I’ve got the hang of it. I put his other two films, The Last Days of Disco and Barcelona on my Netflix queue. Well, Barcelona is available for streaming but not The Last Days of Disco because that would make it much too easy on me. Metropolitan is available for streaming, then Disco is not and Barcelona is.
Just to make it tough for you to see the man’s entire 3-film catalog.
Then I found out that he has a new film (his last one came out in 1998), which will screen at Sundance (or I may have just made that up) and will be released in April. It’s called Damsels in Distress. So look out for that if you’re a Stillman fan. Or quick watch his other three films and become a fan. Become superfan, if you want.
Listening: I believe Tom Petty is having a moment with me right now. Also, the Elvis song “It’s Now or Never.” And Red Hot Chili Peppers. I’m stuck in the past, people.
* The Wednesday Outlook is a weekly feature on Not Shallow. In the past, it became something of a “hit-or-miss” affair but in 2012 it will make a strong resurgence. It generally features a photo that has nothing to do with anything else tin the post, a mini-essay and a round-up of what I’m reading, watching, listening to, doing, going to do or eating. Past Wednesday Outlooks may be found here if you’ve got the time and inclination.