Wednesday, January 14, 2009


This morning I took another step in the direction of painting something new. Several days ago, I pulled my tubes of watercolor and gouache out from under the small wooden table that has my turntable on top and my worn but still playable Bob Dylan albums on the shelf below. The tubes and the wooden box they are in were filled with dust, but I put them on the large table in my small living room, creating a spot on one end of the table where I could put a watercolor block and begin to paint again. Then I looked around for my paint brushes and for the vase I use for holding the paint water. In with the tubes of paint were a handful of quotes I had cut out of newspapers, along with some handwritten notes in which I had been working out titles for paintings before 2000. There was also a faded green request slip from the Bellingham Public Library. Printed on the slip was the date "8/78." On the back of the slip was written:

"The dog is us and it's not funny."

The first time I read those words in a book by Raymond Mungo, I thought that was the funniest thing I had heard in a long long time. My recollection this morning was that the book, published in the 1970's, was called FAMOUS LONG AGO. With those clues, I looked around the internet for confirmation of my memory. I found two entries for "the dog is us and it's not funny," but neither made any reference to Raymond Mungo. Instead, it was implied that Marcelle Clements was the source of the quote in 1982.

I don't think so. I think it was Raymond Mungo. He made me laugh a long time ago, at a time when I needed a good laugh.

The dog is us, and it's funny.

("The Cat is Not Amused," painted by am, using watercolor on watercolor paper, early 1980's)

1 comment:

robin andrea said...

I think you're going to have to re-read that book to confirm your memory. I love the line, though, and the New Yorker cartoon is really grand.