Silver Linings in the Time of Coronavirus

photo credit Larry Bauman

I once visited a small museum in Vienna called KunstHausWien, designed by Friedensreich Hundertwasser. Every floor in every room undulates, and the visitor is coerced to focus on each step — not take any move (or surface) for granted.

I chose not to take the fun-house approach to my visit, and looked at the deeper philosophy. Why would a flat, hard, solid surface be the preferred base for travel? Our feet are not shaped linearly. When in the KunstHausWein, my brain sent messages to my foot (or maybe the other way around?), the…

I am working on a book about the music, life, and times of Bert Sommer. His first live gig was Woodstock. Never heard of him? Once you do, you’ll never forget him.

Bert Sommer singing “Jennifer” at Woodstock

“Okay, okay — it’s coming up! Here I come, here I come!”

The lanky thirty-year-old nudged his friend; the two of them slouched down in the Cinerama Dome on Sunset Boulevard sharing popcorn and a joint, their legs in faded jeans draped over empty seat backs. The year was 1979, the film — Woodstock. …

I’m coming up on four years as a “snail-mail mentor” to a man who has been confined to a maximum security prison for over twenty years. Transforming Lives NY matches up volunteers with inmates who want to participate, providing blank journals and encouraging personal expression to help develop skills that can serve both inside and outside the walls. Correspondence is all done through the USPS, under the rules of NY State Department of Corrections. The following essay was written just one month ago. M____’s own artwork accompanies it.


Something . . . ?

T.J. asked, “Are you going to…

Silver Linings in the Time of Coronavirus

Apparently, the coronavirus has caused a spike in junk food consumption. And here I am, running in the opposite direction! Logically (magically?) thinking that by bolstering my immune system with centuries-old proven ingredients (like turmeric, ginger, cayenne, greens, beans, and rice), I might stand a fighting chance against Covid-19. I’m not going to just kick back with a Spam-and-mayo-on-Wonderbread (with a side of Cheetos), binge-watching TV until “this too shall pass.” Last time I did that I was ten years old consuming Saturday morning cartoons while covered with measles.

Nor am I enticed…

Silver Linings in the Time of Coronavirus

This morning I woke up to find animal crackers in my soup. No, this is not what my pandemic pantry has reduced me to, although some of my culinary experiments come close! Let me explain.

Every day my sister and I exchange YouTube videos — at least one, but often it escalates. What I initiated in the subject line as “Vitamin YouTube” (back on February 24), was a link to Janis Joplin in a 1969 duet with Tom Jones, the two of them belting out “Raise Your Hand.” This performance beamed us right…

An Illustrated Memoir of a Reluctant Hippie Chick (Part Three)

What happened in my life between Woodstock then—and now? I did achieve my goal of moving to NYC. I went to Parsons School of Design when it was still in Greta Garbo’s Sutton Place neighborhood. (I even saw her once! She still “vanted to be alone.”)

Subways were more interesting then. And you could read over people’s shoulders.

An Illustrated Memoir of a Reluctant Hippie Chick (Part Two)

…so, when I left off, it was 1969. I was experimenting with RIT dye, reading Eldridge Cleaver, and trying to figure some things out…

Sharon Watts

Illustrator. Writer. Archivist.

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