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“We’re printing the following letter as a tribute to John, one that would warm his heart because it’s why he wrote the book.:

Learning to work on my VW was the beginning of my freedom. Something that had chained me before, I now had a relationship with. I had learned its language. I began to learn other languages; of photography and seeing; of carpentry and working with my hands; of music and listening. And there’s no doubt in my mind that my experience with the idiot manual was its start. Thank you.”

I wrote that in 1989, when a call went out for a planned tribute book - to what was truly the first
Idiot Manual.

It was, and remains, a great book - because it broke boundaries. It used illustrations and the printed word to guide anyone through tearing apart and rebuilding an engine.
It was clear, kind, funny and engaging and one of the best uses of language I’ve ever encountered, because it took me somewhere.

Sometimes we run ourselves in circles with language.
Politics makes a specialty of this.

“How much less companionable than silence is the language of falsehood.”
St. Augustine

We use language
all the time, so it’s important to be true about it.
Words, phrases, sayings, pictures, ideas, thoughts, dreams -
they all involve some sort of language, usually based in words.

It’s how we relate to ourselves and how we relate to others.

Our relationship to the transcendent, our thoughts - mystic and mundane,
are all
inextricable from the words we use.

When words are used in unexpected ways, it’s quite wonderful.
It takes us outside of ourselves for a moment, off the beaten path.
Humor does this best.
The poet e.e. cummings calls this,

“The Eternal Question And Immortal Answer of burlesk, viz.”

Q. “Would you hit a woman with a child?”
A. “No, I’d hit her with a brick.”

Here are some bricks from Japan.


Click for portfolio

November 2014
Harrison Judd - futureHistory.com


Woody goes out

Woody goes out.

woody_1 (1)

He plans his journey,

woody_2 (1)

finds his buddies,

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hits the bars,

woody_4 (1)

sees a picture of a woman he’d like to meet,

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remembers an old flame,

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finds an intriguing blonde,

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and rescues a damsel in distress.

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He watches the horse races,

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and takes the train home.

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Later in life, he lectures about his experiences.

November 2014
Harrison Judd and
June Bisantz


Fame & fortune

Magic trick - Vincent Price - 11 Portraits of Famous People
Click for portfolio

There are two paths through life.
The way of nature and the way of grace.
You have to choose which one you’ll follow.
Grace doesn’t try to please itself.
It accepts being slighted, forgotten, disliked - accepts insults and injuries.
Nature only wants to please itself, and others to please it too.
Likes to lord it over them, to have its own way.
It finds reasons to be unhappy when all the world is shining around it,
and love is shining through all things.

From the movie
The Tree of Life

For over 15 years I worked for the author and illustrator Maurice Sendak. While none of us can ever really know another person completely, I came to feel I knew Maurice well over the decade and a half I saw him on a weekly basis. His net worth at the time of his death was somewhere in the range of 65 million dollars, possibly as much as ten times that amount - a considerable fortune, and yet he was one of the most unhappy men I have ever known, in person or even through the annals of history. Yet his books were widely loved, praised by young and old alike. He possessed an art collection which, when broken up after his death, went to museums like the Met and the Morgan in NYC, and tens of thousands of dollars are spent each year preserving his artwork and his legacy. How did this come to be, how could a man so talented, so universally loved and respected, with such a fortune behind him as few in the world have ever possessed, be so miserable, so sad, so angry and so committed to seeing the dark side of things?

I first heard about the stroke that was to kill him while I was checking my email in the Tokyo airport. He was in the hospital after having fallen down just hours after handing to his publisher what was to be his last book, a book about his brother, modeled on the artwork of the artist William Blake. He had spent many years on the book. All during the time he had been creating the book, and for years before that, he was obsessed with death, talking about it in nearly every conversation he had. Enraged that he should have to die, his affairs were left almost completely in the hands of a lawyer he didn’t like, and had only met a few years before, having fired his lawyer of over 35 years when he brought up his concerns that Maurice might be suffering from Alzheimer's disease, a condition Maurice himself was concerned he had. The fortune was left in the hands of a foundation made up of a motley group of people stitched together with a logic I have yet to fathom, a logic which I believe does not exist. No direction was given for the dispersement of the funds, and his journals were ordered to be burned, unread. His lack of generosity stuns me to this day. When I, or others, questioned him at times about his plans for his legacy after he died, his response was always the same, “I’ll be dead, I don’t care.” I used to think he must be kidding, but it turns out he wasn’t, he was dead serious.

In the end Maurice was obsessed with watching nature documentaries, where animals would hunt and kill one another. When the weather was bad, a storm which knocked out power or down trees, he would scream “Mother nature is a c*nt!” and be miserable that he couldn’t go for a walk, or that the cable TV was out - though not power - as he had a substantial backup generator which kicked in immediately and allowed him to enjoy power for days.

He had an apartment in New York City, on the corner of 5th Avenue near Washington Square Park, that he hadn’t visited for years and years. It was worth many millions of dollars, yet lay vacant and unused though he would frequently get calls from people like Alec Baldwin trying to convince him to sell the unit.

Family members would call him, concerned about his health, and he would be upset they had contacted him. He would be contacted regularly with offers for advertisements, or speaking engagements, and was furious people were wasting his time - yet if someone didn’t call him with an offer for a few weeks, he was depressed and furious that he had been forgotten.

What can all this mean?
Money does not, and can not, buy happiness.
Fame is a dangerous drug which, like all dangerous drugs, often leads to misery and despair.
Our reason and our emotional states must be carefully watched and guarded from dark thoughts and impulses.
We become what we think.

November 2014
Harrison Judd - futureHistory.com



Private - Dream series - Boston, Mass
Click for portfolio

“ No one who does not know himself can know others and in each of us there is another whom we do not know.
He speaks to us in dreams and tells us how differently he sees us from the way we see ourselves. ”

Carl Jung - Civilization in Transition

I dreamed about a hospital. I was in a large water tank with a woman who had just given birth.
We were all swimming.
Her partner said the baby was pure white when it was born.
A man came up to me holding a small, flat faced dog with bat like ears.
I was standing with two scientists in the White House.
We were talking to President Reagan, who was about to go into a budget meeting.
Last night I dreamt I was at a party at my grandparents.
My ex-wife was there, hiding on the attic stairs, and she was sick.
Driving near New Orleans, on the edge of the land.
There were lots of houses in the sunset, many empty.
I wondered why people wouldn’t be living there when it was so beautiful.
The houses were quite ordinary.
I was in a cellar, and a recently deceased neighbor was there.
I turned around as I processed who it was.
When I looked back, the room was closed off -
with a wall that looked like all the others, but it seemed newer.
I am on a beach, the entire scene is dark and somewhat bluish.
There is a storm approaching and people begin to leave.
Beach umbrellas begin to be blown by the wind, and the water picks up.
I leave and enter a forest, following a stream.
I was in the American Southwest, on Indian land, and hear a song,
“It’s a beauty beauty world, a beauty beauty world.”
I wake up singing it.

October, 2014
Harrison Judd
August 29, 2014


Maurice's Animal Postcards

Young Gray Rabbit - Watercolor and pencil
John James Audubon (1780-1851), American
The Pierpont Morgan Library
From Maurice Sendak’s postcard collection - click for portfolio

“I once had a sparrow alight upon my shoulder for a moment while I was hoeing in a village garden, and I felt that I was more distinguished by that circumstance than I should have been by any epaulet I could have worn.”
Henry Thoreau -
Walden - Winter Animals

Animals are the soul of a place. In our homes, in our landscapes, they are omnipresent.
In cities, where they have no natural habitat, we build zoos.
Not only would it be lonely if there were no animals - civilization couldn’t exist.

Maurice gave me a set of postcards once. He didn’t want them anymore.
I couldn’t understand why, they were beautiful. There was a big stack in a paper bag, probably hundreds of them.
Many were of animals, drawings, photos, architectural details.
They were around for years, often being combed and sorted through. Then one day I let most of them go.

I had been through the stack of images many times, trying to absorb the messages they carried.
Some spoke to me, many did not. The ones that didn’t, were the ones I let go of.
What was left behind was the cream of the crop.

Some of them can be viewed here,
along with other images of animals I photographed and shared with Maurice,
and which he sometimes used as references for his artwork.

October 2014
Harrison Judd - futureHistory.com