Wednesday, July 21, 2010


In early to work on the huge chalkboard in Powells' coffee shop. Scrub off the old chalk, apply the new chalk with goings-on around Portland and in Powell's. No matter what I do, the old chalk doesn't scrub clean. Half of my chalkboard time is spent scrubbing, and there are always ghosts left behind.

Soon those ghosts will be stacked one on top of each other until they're an indiscernible faint white scribble just under the surface (kind of the way you sometimes picture heaven when you're a kid and believe in those things but worry that if people keep dying there won't be room for all the ghosts) but the chalkboard is pretty new right now so you can still read some of the old words.

The first month I worked the chalkboard, we had an art show in the gallery based on the book Dear Andy Kaufman, I Hate Your Guts. The book and the exhibit were a collection of letters girls wrote to Andy Kaufman to apply for the chance to try to beat him in a wrestling match on live television in 1977. This month's art show is a collection of broadsides created by participants of Write Around Portland. But on the chalkboard, the ghosts of Andy Kaufman and his girls are still floating around. I like the accidental poetry of chalk and ghost duetting: "10 Artists Create [by female wrestling contenders]." And no matter how much I scour the board with water and with cleaner, still, under where it says, in fancy lettering, "In the gallery this month!" it says, oh so faintly, almost politely: "I hate your guts."

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