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I’ve been thinking lately about what stuff is worth. Apparently, J.D. Salinger wrote a note to his housekeeper in March of 1989 asking her to be sure to finish up her chores before heading out for vacation. This two-line note is listed for sale on EBay. The price? A whopping $50,000. Which, you know, seems like a lot. On the other hand, apparently the cast of Jersey Shore is currently pulling in $40,000 per episode per person. So one hour of one over-tanned, over-muscled, over-drunk cast member of an over-exposed, not-even-close-to-reality-show is worth only about $10,000 less than a handwritten note from one of the most revered authors in American literature. I know it’s not an apples-to-apples comparison, but I have to say that if I had $50,000 to throw around and was forced to choose between purchasing the note or watching an episode of Jersey Shore, I’d choose the note in a heartbeat. And lest you think I’m one of those folks who shuns television, I am not. My husband produces television. I have worked in television. I watch television. I find many programs to be wildly entertaining, thought-provoking, fascinating and just downright fun. Still, I do avoid those programs that take a small segment of the population and pump them up until they become ridiculous parodies of an entire ethnic or cultural group. I grew up in the deep South. I know what it feels like to see your entire home region reduced to one bad cliché.
But I digress.
Back to the issue of what stuff is worth. This past weekend, I went to see “Intersection,” the collaboration between Lighthouse’s poet extraordinaire Michael J. Henry and Ballet Nouveau Colorado’s exceptional artistic director Garrett Ammon. The tickets were modestly priced. I love live theater in almost every form: dance, music, comedy or drama. We regularly splurge on tickets to see musicals or plays at Denver’s Performing Arts Complex. And I do mean splurge. The cost of tickets to see even a small performance at the DPAC can be twice the cost of the Ballet Nouveau performance we enjoyed this past weekend. And yet, I don’t believe I’ve ever been more impressed with a performance. From the poems to the story (and, yes, there is a story) to the choreography to the lighting and music, it was one of the most wholly satisfying performances I’ve ever seen. You can still catch it this coming weekend (Sept. 23-25) at the Performing Arts Complex at PCS in North Denver: For tickets or more information visit Ballet Nouveau Colorado’s website. It’s absolutely worth your time and your money.
Finally, with all the talk about the U.S. Post Office going bankrupt and people on one side saying, “Who needs the post office in this age of emails and direct deposits and smart phones?” While others protest, “But what about letters? Handwritten thank you notes? My grandmother?” I offer this observation. My husband may be the last great sender of postcards and I hate to think of a day when I won’t receive a sweet note from him, scribbled on the back of a photo depicting an Arkansas Razorback or a painting from the Louvre. He sends me postcards whether he is gone for a weekend or two weeks. Some are funny and some are sweet. In my opinion, these postcards are totally worth it. Opening an email will never produce the same thrill as discovering a postcard tucked in a pile of bills and junk mail like a prize in a cereal box. On the other hand, there is the junk mail. One has to assume that if direct mail marketing disappears, the purveyors of unwanted catalogs and magazines and flyers will find a way to send these items to us electronically. Better for the environment? Sure. Better for our sanity? Not so much.
In closing, I ask you to consider this tidbit of advice that landed in my mailbox recently in an unsolicited and unwanted magazine: “The hottest trend in bookshelf design is color. Grouping books by the color of their jackets helps make sense out of the chaos normally seen in a library.” To which I say: You’re kidding me, right? Because the only thing that makes sense of the chaos in a library is to alphabetize by author or possibly to group books by genre. Because, really, the whole point of a library is to be able to find the books you need when you need them. How much is a library worth if it’s purely decorative? In my opinion, not much.