Friday, January 21, 2011



Man with a Cigar / S. Shawcross / 16 x 20 / Oil on canvas / SOLD
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This weeks feature video:
We've all seen a lot of animal videos but this one is a classic.

CURRENT COMMENTARY: Written in May 2004.


I was deeply distressed to read that "serious tattification" was going on in Chelsea. (The Low Down, Letters to the Editor, April 2004) How can this be? In our Chelsea? Just when we thought dog-strangling vine was the worst of our worries, along comes tattification! Here we all are, living in gleeful ignorance in a community founded by proud New England protestants (with a penchant for pastel I might add) speaking the Queen's English with the best of them, only to find ourselves living with the word tattification. Oh the shame!

I hate to bring this up but we've really got to straighten this out before it gets out of hand: Tattification is not a word. It just isn't. Now don't get me wrong, I think it’s an astounding made-up word, given that inventing a word is no small thing.

The word tatters is of Scandinavian origin. There is very little obscurity in its usage, unlike many words such as sanctimonious or sacerdotalism or smatter. Tatters is a fine (now english) word with many uses. For example, if you should happen to lose your job to retirement, illness, downsizing, cheap labor in Thailand or bilingualism you might find yourself wearing rags or, you guessed it, tatters.

If you find yourself working day and night just to pay your taxes, with no time to paint your house and you happen to meet the mayor at a cocktail party you would be right to say, "My jacket is tatty because I have been buying my clothes at the Sally Ann and they're fresh out of new Mountain Equipment Co-op apparel."

If you find yourself desperately trying to find pastel paint in the bargain section of the hardware store, you could say to the clerk rightfully, "I must apologize for my tattered jacket as I can no longer afford to dry-clean it."

If, after having laboriously recreated a Victorian Revival Living Room from a House and Garden Magazine, you find much to your horror the magazine was outdated, you would undoubtedly apologize for having "tatted" the lace curtains that may have offended your neighbors. This is the verb, to tat.

Now we know something can be tatty, and/or tattered, rags are tatters, and you can tat some lace, however, what you may not know is that by wearing tatters you are a tatterdemalion (pronounced tatter-duh-MAY-lee-on). If you've lost your job, or lost your house to a landslide, expropriation or unruly septic system, you need not despair as you can now have business cards printed up with your name that read, Tatterdemalion, Chelsea. This will give you a certain authority when you describe to others exactly how the tattification of your life occurred and why you haven't painted your house lately.

Now that we know that "tattification" is the noun that actually means flagrant disregard for neighbors’ sensibilities, we should fully explore degrees of tattification. This is not as simple as it looks. For example, an old barn with grey boards once was tattification, but now its rustically charming. How much peeling paint on a house must there be to classify it as tatty? At what point does tattification become rustification?

It’s not just houses. What about people? We definitely get tatty. Middle age is the beginning of tattification. If you can't afford cosmetic surgery to remove the wrinkles, would it be correct to say, "I've been going through tattification but I’m looking forward to rustification." Yes indeed. We're on to something here. I wonder if we could get a government grant to study this? Avoiding tattification in your neighborhood.

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