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NOLA Studiola dispatch: Files and Files

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As part of a content partnership with Nola Studiola, a collaborative online platform where various artists -- visual and literary -- curate the site with their own content for month-long "residencies,” we will feature monthly “dispatches” from Nola Studiola's artists. This feature series focuses on the artists’ reflections of their curatorial work at Nola Studiola.

The site's latest guest curator is New Orleans-based writer, artists and accomplished home cook Carol Pulitzer. For her Studiola curatorship, Pulitzer writes about all three of her passions. Below, Pulitzer discusses her extensive filing system, which holds each visual and narrative materials she thinks she may later use for a story. One such item is a letter from David Letterman.

Not exactly books, but I keep files and files and files of collections like tiles, architects, rooms I like, lighting, garden, equipment, textiles for the fantasy home I’ll likely never get to build. I just had an epiphany. My mother had a room in our house with a big old typewriter surrounded by files and files of things she liked. OMG.

I’m my mom.

Then there are the files and files of places to travel that I’ll very likely never visit. Broken down by state, region, continent, country. OK, it appears I spent those years at art school to become a scrapbooker (not that there’s anything wrong with that!)

When I was doing graphics I kept clip files of everything. What if someone would asked me to draw a tiger for a job? I had files on animals (mammals, birds, fish), transportation (boats, trains), flowers, trees, you name it. I was prepared to draw anything.

From within these files, you might find this:

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Mom and I stood across the street from Trump Tower, two years after it was built wondering who was at the center of the crowd of people out front that included an NBC film crew.

Seeing the interior of Trump Tower was on our visitors list, anyway.

Later I learned that by breaking the tower up into retail, public, and living space, and claiming the airspace above its neighbor, Tiffany’s, Trump had circumvented building regulations that would have prohibited him from going so high on such a crumb of land. Was he the first one to think of a mixed-use high rise? If he was, this was his stroke of genius..and trickery. Couple that with his schoolgirl vanity and you have a Cyclops missing an eye for introspection. A common brown sparrow, majestically fluffing its feathers oblivious to the fact that it’s not a brilliant blue bird. A hat of hair in all its dandy glory.

Mom wasn’t technically a visitor since she and her husband came to New York regularly for business. He sold fur coats in New Orleans, a city where summer can break out in January. I think this explained why he was so grumpy all the time.

We crossed Fifth Ave. and there Dave Letterman stood at the center of the crowd taping a bit for his show that night.

“Oh God, it’s David Letterman!”

“Who’s that?” Mom asked.

He’s this! He’s that! I filled her in.

She marched directly up to him and said “I don’t know who you are but my daughter thinks you’re wonderful”. Mortified by mom once again, and wishing I was invisible.

Next mom and I went to have tea at a hotel trying to be British, two guards standing at attention out front like it was Buckingham Palace complete with gold embroidered scarlet doublets and chin crunching fuzzy bearskin hats. And there was Dave and his crew again. Mom waved assured he remembered her from their get together at Trump Tower. I turned and waited for it to be over.

That night I fetched her right on time at 7:30. She was still in her bathrobe putting on makeup. Apparently she had encountered Dave a third time that day after we parted.

“Here” she said, “I have something for you.” She handed me a scrap of paper.

David Letterman

Dear Carol,

Sorry I missed you.

Good luck with mom.

David Letterman

Carol Pulitzer is an award-winning writer and illustrator. Her work has appeared in the Washington Post, San Francisco Chronicle, Food & Wine Magazine, and Country Living among others. She writes and illustrates super short stories at her Little Theatre blog ( littletheatre1.com ) and can be contacted at [email protected]