Design For Obama", collecting the best of the DesignForObama website & featuring two of my pieces, has finally been published & I was fortunate enough to be able to attend the book release party last week. I celebrated the momentous occasion with my lovely bride & about 300 other folks at the Taschen store in NYC. The tastemakers at the shindig included, but were not limited to, DFO founder Aaron Perry-Zucker, New York Times & School of Visual Arts design guru Steven Heller & always-Mookie-to-me Spike Lee. It was a blast & a half, no doubt, no diggity.
But I wouldn't have been able to go if not for my wonderful Nonny.
Listen:I had plans to fly into Chicago for the long weekend to see my dear old friend Neil & his family when I got the invite to the book signing & although I so wanted to go, I just couldn't justify the $600 fee for the ticket change, so it looked like I just wasn't going to get the chance to have my book signed by Mars Blackmon.
But Nonny would have none of that.
My Nonny, my mom's mom, was a very wonderful woman- kind & funny & biting as well- & as my mom would say, she simply made everything better. She was simple & yet in that simplicity she contained wonders & wisdom beyond compare & without peer. (I'm also breaking one of her cardinal rules by referring to Nonny as "she" (Who's "she"?!, Nonny would rebuke us); the other was never saying "shut up"... Both very good maxims by the way.)
Nonny had made it clear that she wanted to make it to 90 & then that was enough. Well, on Friday 16 October, she turned 90, & then she fell on the following Wednesday. She was always a women who knew what she wanted, & I find it to be no coincidence the timing of her death. She allowed us a little time in the hospital to pay our respects, & then she quietly passed on 2 November, further allowing me the opportunity to change my flight with no consequence. Airlines are known for their sympathy for the bereaved. In her passing, she also saved my uncle from an abysmal trip to see his partner's family & my brother to come home from California for a much-needed respite, & she did so in a fashion that allowed us all to say goodbye in a timely & loving way, especially my mother, who got to spend some very special time with her in the last few weeks. It is so essentially Nonny that she orchestrated all of this at the end of her life to, as always, make things better for all of us who were being left behind.
The book signing fell between her funeral, which was a simple graveside remembrance (wherein my 9 year old son informed us all very casually for the first time that he is Buddhist), & my mom's open house (or as we dubbed it, the "non-shiva"), so it was with a mixture of sadness & excitement that mi esposa hermosa & I ventured into the city.
Far from the event I expected (a gathering of the artists whose work is in the book & their mothers), the book release party was a fantastic party & celebration of both the book's publication & the one year anniversary of Obama's momentous election. 300 people turned out, only about 25 or so of them being artists published in the book itself, although they came from very disparate locales: Canada, Mexico, Indonesia, Dominican Republic & even Connecticut. "Design For Obama" is literally & figuratively a work of art in & of itself; Taschen really did an exquisite job on the printing, the coloring, the paper-stock, the layout, et al. The heft of the book is only surpassed by its beauty. The book quickly sold out as folks got their copies signed by Spike, Aaron & Mr. Heller, & also a bunch of them requesting my signature as well! I have to say, it's unlike my generation to be un-ironic but that felt very good indeed. My wife, being the model for the better of the two pieces, also reluctantly signed her "work" as well.
The night was extraordinary & simply would not have happened without Nonny. As "she" told me once in her succinct manner after some girl had broken my heart & I showed up at her doorstep craving sympathy, "Sometimes these things happen." This perfect little dose of reality was followed by a strong but short hug & that was enough.
Well, Nonny, thank you for allowing me the opportunity to make the scene @ Taschen last week.
Sometimes those things happen too...