Yeah, staff - that's the secret. That's how cats look at the world. They are creatures with staff.
How right you are. You're also a painter, sculptor and musician. Let's talk about the music first. You've been part of a band;are you still?
I've played in two or three bands in my life. But the one that got all the press was the Rock Bottom Remainders, which was a group of writers Stephen King, Amy Tan, Barbara Kingsolver, Dave Barry, Ridley Pearson, people like that. And a publishers' representative escort in San Francisco found out that we were musicians and it was her idea that we should put this band together and we would raise money for good causes and, in the meantime, have a lot of fun. And so we did it and it was like the fact that a number of people who could ride horseback decided that they'd get together and have a polo team for an afternoon. It was a lot of fun but it was a misapprehension to think that we were qualified to play polo. Nevertheless, everybody played well enough. I was in it for four or five concerts. And I can tell you outrageous stories.
And then, I didn't want to put the time that was required into it. I don't play that well; I play mandocello, that's not big in rock and roll. Stephen was in a terrible automobile accident and dropped out. But over time, other people have cycled through it. Matt Groening sang backup in the thing for a while. So it was a really special sort of thing. I no longer play with them because I don't like all the travel that's involved. It still has a life of its own. It goes on. There's a recording and a book made out of it. Not a small amount of money went to charity.
I drew and painted all of my life, taught drawing and painting for 20 years. I'm not successful enough in that to want to make a career out of it but I have an art studio and paint and give it away. My companion, on the other hand, is a very, very serious, very successful artist who paints almost entirely in the world of dance - tango, that whole world - and so she's kind of crowded me out of my studio. It's nice to have that ongoing and successful and be around it. If you can't be successful, it's nice being there where success is happening. So, that's fun. And sculpting is something I do, a lot of small things. This again is not a career deal; it's what I enjoy doing. It just satisfies a need; it's like a hobby. It's what pleases you and it keeps me off the streets and working.
Well, keeping you off the streets is definitely a lofty goal. Let's see: writing, playing music, painting and sculpting. It's a big bonus that besides for the writing, you don't have to do any of them for a living. Let's take a break. When we come back for the final portion of our interview, Robert will read from his essay "Meanwhile" from What on Earth Have I done?
cross-posted at FutureHealth.org and OpEdNews
Part One of my interview with Robert
Part Two of my interview with Robert
1 | 2