I hope you haven’t had your fill yet, because today is only day #2 of ‘The Extrovert and Introvert’ series.
Raised by Extroverts
I was raised by two extroverts. My mother was a loud laughing broad who likened herself to Lucille Ball, even if she did look more like Jackie O. My father was the smooth charmer who could work a room like no other. My sisters and I are pretty much the same. We aren’t overly self-conscious and we make friends easily. We certainly wouldn’t be called shy by any stretch of the imagination.
I Married an Introvert
So, when I married my first wife, Kathy, I really had no idea what shyness and introversion were all about. I didn’t understand being self-conscious. I simply had very little exposure to what it was and how it affected people. Kathy was pretty shy. As a matter of fact, she probably was the shyest person I had ever met when we first crossed paths in 1977 at UCSB. It wasn’t until 2 years later, in San Francisco, that we met again and started dating. We were married within the year and my journey of discovery started.
I didn’t pay nearly enough attention to what it was all about and as a result Kathy suffered quite a bit. I was not aware of what she was going through, and when I was, I more often than not blew her feelings off as not being valid. After all, in my mind, what was there to be shy or self-conscious about, right? It just seemed ridiculous to me. That obliviousness to her and how her mind worked, that judgment I had about it without really understanding it, were contributing factors in our divorce 20 years down the road.
I Married an Introvert, Again!
Fast forward a number of years and I marry Linda. Linda isn’t shy. She isn’t at my level of extroversion, but she is comfortable and easy going in social situations. But I learned something very important this time around. Just because someone is able to socialize, doesn’t mean it is easy. I found out that Linda has to work hard to socialize. She works a room and it is what it says it is, work. She is tired and exhausted after socializing. It wears her down. She needs down time after it. I respect that and we live a life that allows for that rejuvenation to take place as often as possible.
They Married an Extrovert
If it was and is hard for me dealing with being married to introverts, it was and is equally hard for them to be married to an extrovert. I make friends with baristas, waiters, people I happen to run next to in a strange town (yes, I mean actually running down a street and meeting another runner), and random people on the internet who live around the globe in Slovenia or Australia or Korea or who knows where. It isn’t a chore for me to make friends. I like it. It makes me happy. I am not tired after a long day of socializing, I am usually ready for more.
I sometimes will tell Linda a story about someone I met and something they are going through, and she will stop me and ask, “How exactly do you know them again?” My response will most likely be along the lines of, “I am not sure, I think I met them on Flickr, maybe back in 2006, or maybe I was in the lawn mower repair place. Oh wait, I think they were on that bus in Florida that time in 2009, remember?” She’ll look at me with that look that that says, ‘I am exhausted just listening to how you met this person, much less hearing the rest of this story.’
Who We Are
I think what both Kathy and Linda eventually learned was that this ease and love I have for socializing and making friends is not part of a secret agenda on my part, any more than their reticence to socialize was part of some agenda on their part. It’s simply what feeds me and what feeds them. None of us are the same, and neither are our offspring. We are on a social continuum, not in one camp or the other, like sparring political parties. That’s always good for me to remember.
I’ve been absent from the blog for close to a week due to the death and burial of my father, James. F. ‘Skeets’ Coleman. I spent a lot of time preparing the slide show of his life and writing the eulogy, which I gave at his funeral. We then went to California for 4 days to attend the services, be with family and say our goodbyes.
My father was a Marine in WWII. He flew dive bombers in 43-44 in the Pacific Theatre. He was shot down once. Luckily was able to land in the ocean and was picked up by the Australians. As with many, he didn’t tell a lot of stories about the war, but enough to know that it was a harsh life and that he lost valued comrades. He was proud of his service by not obsessed with it, nor his medals. It didn’t define his life or his contributions to society. It was just part of his history and he treated it as such. He got to live the rest of his life, until he finally passed at age 95.
James F. ‘Skeets’ Coleman
On Memorial Day it’s important to remember that when we lose a man or woman in war, it’s not just a soldier we lose, it’s an entire civilian life as well. Perhaps we can best serve and honor our military, dead and living, by doing our best to help those who survive to live the civilian life their comrades don’t get to live.
Here is the Eulogy I wrote and gave at his funeral
My kiss goodbye, January 2014
Our father knew a lot of people in many fields.And they knew him.Celebrities, astronauts, businessmen and women, aviation professionals as well as his neighbors and his friends.They have all been sending beautiful notes expressing their admiration for Skeets.They have spoken of his courage, bravery, charm, looks, intelligence, love of a good time, kindness, and personal thoughtfulness he exhibited throughout his life.
All these things are true, and myself, Nancy and Jackie know these things better than most.And as with any offspring, we had a complicated relationship with our dad.Some things you may have seen at a distance, we experienced close up. He had a bit of an Irish temper, for example. He could lecture his children like no one you’ve ever seen.We even had them numbered.I remember Nancy and I looking at each other more than a few times and saying under our breath, ‘oh oh, here comes lecture #496!”Jackie was young enough at that time that she usually was lucky to be sitting on the sidelines thinking, ‘Man, I am glad that’s not me he’s talking to!’She got her fair share later though.
But what I want to talk about is not who he was, but who he wasn’t.This might seem odd at first, because isn’t who he was who we also are?Aren’t I going to tell you he was charming so that’s why I am so charming?We all know that so no reason to say it.
No, what I mean is this:Our dad was not mean.Nancy, Jackie and I are not mean either.We don’t think in terms of hurting people, or of revenge, or of hatred. We think in terms of kindness and forgiveness and helpfulness.And we have him to thank.I for one am very grateful for that gift of what he wasn’t.
Our dad was not prejudice.His children and grandchildren are not either.That is not as simple as it sounds.He was raised an Irish Catholic in the midwest.He lived in a world of separation, Irish from Italian, Jew from Christian, Catholic from protestant, black from white, gay from straight, men from women.And yet he never exhibited any of it to us.He removed it from his life, he abandoned it, he put it where it belonged and never brought it into our home or our hearts.
He was not dogmatic.He was raised Catholic, had a bit of a falling out with the church.He could rail against the church but the second anyone else took a swipe at it, he was all about defending it. He eventually returned to the church and was at peace there.But he didn’t really care about church dogma, (well, except the abandonment of the Latin Mass which he always said was the worst thing to ever happen to the church). What he cared about was acknowledging that every person is on his or her own search and it is a true sign of being religious to respect that and treat them with dignity, wherever they are in their journey.
I remember when I had my Jesus movement conversion in 1976.I came home full of enthusiasm for my new found faith and he didn’t blink an eye.He listened, he accepted and he responded with a very simple, ‘ Just remember, other people have their truths too’. and left it at that.
Our dad was not fearful.I don’t mean he never had fear, he was a fighter pilot in WWII, he was shot down, he flew the craziest airplane ever. Of course he had fear.But he was not filled with it. He did not spend his days worried about death or pain or suffering. He looked forward to trying new things, going new places, meeting new people.
When he was 49, he moved his family across the country to Connecticut to take a job in New York, in an industry, Publishing, he had never worked in, in a city he had never worked in.When he was in his 70s he spent 5 weeks traveling all around the world with an Saudi Sheik trying to sell him a BIG JET airplane.
When he was in his 50s he learned to snow ski.He even tried to keep up with me and my best friend, crazy 15 year olds screaming down the mountain with no fear.he had a bit more fear,or maybe more brains, than we did but he made it down not far behind us.
I coach runners and when I am talking to the older runners I tell that story to give them an example of this truth. You aren’t just being an example in the here and now for your family. You are creating a memory for them to look back on when they are your age now.It was that life lesson shown by his example that made me know, without even knowing it, that if my dad could learn to ski at 50+ then I could run a marathon at 50+.Our dad gave us that gift of not being fearful.
And finally, he was not perfect.But he had the best gift an imperfect person can have, and that was the ability and willingness to become better.Just one example will suffice here.His father died when he was just 11.He had no great example of how to be a good father.He was imperfect at it. But all three of his kids will tell you in a heartbeat that he got better at it, he worked at it, he eventually excelled at it.
And he was an unbelievable grandfather.As Pops to my kids and as Popo to Jackie’s he was everything you would want a grandfather to be. Thoughtful, kind, peaceful, attentive and fun. I am a new grandfather as of last year, and have another coming this year.You can bet I will have him in mind when I do my grandfather thing into the future.And that’s what it’s really all about in the end, right?That is the legacy that really matters.The Pogo was cool and worth remembering, his WWII exploits were legendary and important to us all.
But who he showed us we could be by who he was not is what really lasts for generations to come.
Friday night, Aug 2nd, 2013, Linda and I went to the opening of ‘Oh, Tulsa!’ Biennial, a group exhibition featuring work that both celebrates and critiques the city of Tulsa. I had 2 pieces included in it. The first is a photo of me in front of my collage of Tulsa’s KJRH Channel 2 new reporter and anchor, Marla Carter. The second is of Michelle Linn from Fox23, also in Tulsa. These are a part of an ongoing series I have been doing since 2009 called ‘IN Public/Private’ of reporters and anchors I meet in my media travels.
The Tulsa Evening Anchor – Visual Poem #8
Marla and Michelle both were extraordinarily willing to follow my vision for the shoots. They came with NO makeup on (not the usual situation for a TV personality) and let me photograph them that way. They then both put on their makeup as if there were getting ready for the TV lights. Michelle actually came out of the Philbrook Museum bathroom with half her face made up and half still natural just because she thought it looked cool. My kind of model! We did a whole series of shots like that that were great fun.
The Tulsa Morning Anchor – Visual Poem #6
I ended up submitting these two collages for the show since they focused on the personality of Tulsa via those who report about Tulsa to the rest of us.
The Red Eye to the Past
I wanted to attend the opening but my High School reunion was starting that same night, 1,500 miles away in Darien, Connecticut. I spent my teenage years there, after being raised on the beaches of Southern California. It was a culture shock to say the least, but I adjusted (and they adjusted to me) and I had a fantastic Jr. High and High School experience in that town.
I choose to go to the first hour of the exhibition opening, catch a late flight to Denver then take the red eye flight to NYC, rent a car, get some shut eye, then be there for the majority of the weekend festivities. It was going to mean a likely all nighter, but you only live once so why not.
So, with about 3 (maybe) hours sleep, I did this first thing in the morning. I got a couple hits, scored a couple runs, ran down and slid all over the outfield trying to catch fly balls. The softball game was a fun way to break the ice and play instead of having to immediately go into ‘This is who I am now, who are you?’ mode in conversations.
I had on my Texas Rangers hat. Caitlin, my Texas girl, would be proud that I was representing!
Actually that was after a tour of the new high school. It was a new school, not resembling anything close to our old school, except that it was on the same land, so while it was fun to walk around and shoot the breeze with people, it didn’t really bring back memories as it would have if it was the old school. Still, it was nice seeing our town was continuing to grow and move forward.
The Younger Woman
After the game I knew I needed to get in a nap before the big soiree later that night. But before I did I had a few people I needed to see. First I stopped by the house of a dear friend from High School, Julie Kudenholdt. She was a few years behind me. We dated briefly my senior year but alas, as usual, we lost touch over the decades. But Facebook brought a lot of old friends back together, and she was one of them.
It turns out her beautiful home backs up onto the woods behind our first house in Darien. You can even see our house through the woods during the winter. Julie and her husband Steve were incredibly gracious when I visited, especially considering they had a pool party happening for their daughter, Julie’s mother was just leaving after celebrating her birthday, and Julie’s sister was visiting as well. But no matter; they welcomed me, fed me and we had a great time talking about then and now. Julie is reviving a dormant acting career, being featured in a number of indie projects in NYC. It was great to meet her family and see how she had still retained that beautiful sense of joy, wonder and curiosity about others that I had admired 40 years earlier.
One of the best aspects of the visit was not how the older adults welcomed me, but how the plethora of 21 year olds in bathing suits did. Their daughters and friends were confident, gracious, well-mannered and polished. They spoke well and looked me in the eye. It was a nice reminder of one of the best aspects of my upbringing in that town. We learned how to be confident and act like adults among adults. I appreciate it a great deal now that I look back on it years later.
I then went to visit one of our family’s dearest friends. We moved to Darien in the first place because this family lived here. My mother had met Helene Hall in a grocery store in Hagarstown, Maryland back in the 1950s. They had become friends due to their humor and sass, which they both had in abundance. Helene was an artist and a former show girl in NYC. My mother was a debutante from a wealthy family who nevertheless made merciless fun of the pretentions of that world. But she was refined in her appreciation of art and connected to Helene from then on.
When our family was going to make the move to the east coast, my mother naturally wanted to live near Helene, who had moved to Darien with her husband Floyd and son Bruce, and so we did as well.
Helene was instrumental in my art education and inclination. Starting at age 13 she was always encouraging me in practical ways to create and understand art. One of her most enduring lessons came when she took me into New York City to the Museum of Modern Art. We were there to see a Picasso sculpture exhibition. But they were made out of cardboard, and paper, and junk. They were not made out of what sculpture was suppose to be made out of. And, as one often hears from people who don’t understand art, I said to her, “I could do that!” while looking at one of these supposedly easy to create pieces. She stopped me right then and said, “Ok, then do it. I challenge you to get whatever material you want, and make a sculpture. Then explain to me why you made it and what it’s all about.” I accepted the challenge, went home, bought some material, mostly thick gauge metal wire and proceeded to start making a sculpture. I would show her.
But I didn’t show her. She showed me. I never did finish the piece. It hung around in our basement work bench until I finally threw it away, just a bunch of junk taking up space. It was that practical lesson that taught me in real life what she had told me at the museum in response to my ignorant dismissal of Picasso’s work. She said, “What matters isn’t IF you can make it. What matters is if you DO make it.” And I realized then that art derives from an idea, from a passion, from an understanding of something and from a desire to understand something even deeper. it isn’t primarily about material or technique. It’s primarily driven by the idea. I have never forgotten that and I always try to keep the idea, no matter who fractured it is, close to the essence of my images.
Helene Hall and her son, Bruce Hall
Helene Hall and Me
Here is Helene today, 96 years old, nearing the end but still filled with life and love. I made sure I told her how important she had been to my art life. Her son, Bruce, laughed when I did and said, “You know what’s funny? My best friend says almost the exact same thing to Helene each and every time he comes to visit.” Helene knew how to inspire and push art out into the world in her own work and in her friendships with others. I am trying to emulate that same spirit in my life and art as well.
You can read and see more of my trip to the East Coast here:
We went on an outing to debut Vivian to Rebekah’s colleagues. She is a Ph.D. candidate in neuroscience at George Mason University so we were visiting her lab.
First we went out for lunch (a big deal with a 3 week old) and all went fine as she slept through the meal in the cozy little wrap.
This is Vivian and Beka being inspired by ancient Greeks and Romans.
This is what Rebekah does. She studies the brain. Her poster on the right is some simplistic study titled, ‘Regional differences in intrinsic excitability and dendritic morphology of medium spiny neurons during stages of habit learning’. Such a slacker.
Here is the lab’s ‘stimulation station’. A LOT of coffee, tea and snacks propel the world of neuroscience!
Before getting down to business Beka gets a baby gift from her colleague, Sarah. Beka was at the lab in part to hand off some experiments and projects to Sarah, who is in the same program but with a year or so more to go. They are all VERY committed to their studies, it’s great to see my daughter be such a strong and dedicated woman in the world of science.
And finally Beka gets down to work. With Vivian taking a nap on the desktop. I think the direct connection to the neuroscience desktop will make the neurons in her brain grow fast and furious, don’t you?
Beka and Baby Head
You can read and see more of my trip to the East Coast here:
Did you know that most models don’t look like models? Yes, they have certain base features that most models have; a certain figure proportion, a certain bone structure. But models don’t look like models. They look like young women, and in most cases, average looking young women. Models start looking like models when they prepare for a shoot. The makeup artist, the hair stylist, the art director, the photographer, the photographer’s assistant, the editorial assistant, the advertising agency rep, the advertiser’s rep all play a part in creating the image you see in a magazine. The model is in the mix, contributing, but it is not her you end up seeing. It’s a photograph, an image, that you see.
I should know this since I am a photographer but I always forget and have to be reminded. That is because I have also been a fan and follower of a number of models and photographers for decades. I get seduced into the beautiful image just like anyone else.
In college I had my first major model crush. It was the model, Lisa Taylor. She was a well known model in the 70s and 80s. She was a favorite model for the fashion photographer Helmut Newton, whose work I loved. She also happened to be in one of the all time iconic images from the 70s.
Lisa Taylor wearing Calvin Klein by Helmut Newton
I had a copy of this Harper’s Bazaar magazine with Ms. Taylor on the cover hidden under my mattress in college.
I had it hidden not because it was pornographic obviously but because it would have been even MORE embarrassing for my roommates to find it than if I had had a Playboy or other men’s magazine. This was because I had a major crush on a girl at school who I thought looked just like Taylor. I thought they would know right away if they saw the magazine cover. One day us guys, hard to believe I know, were actually cleaning our rooms and we all decided to flip our mattresses over as we had been taught growing up. Well, you can guess what happened. They saw the magazine and had a really really big laugh at my expense. I turned bright red from embarrassment as you can imagine. Just as I thought, they immediately saw the resemblance between the model on the cover and the girl I had a crush on. They didn’t threaten to expose me because they said everyone already knew I had a crush on her. Oops. So much for that secret.
The truth is the real woman I had a crush on wasn’t perfect like the photograph of Lisa. She didn’t think she was beautiful (and still doesn’t). She had issues with her father, she easily felt guilty about many things. But she was also energetic, enthusiastic, funny and principled. And it turns out she had a bit of a crush on me. We always stayed platonic (well ok, we had one brief kiss) but we had a very emotional time of it during that year. She ended up marrying a great guy (who she was dating during our crush). We are still connected and good friends. She is still herself, positive and negative. But she is wiser, happier and more real inside and out than she ever was way back when.
In 2009 Timothy Greenfield-Sanders did a project for Vogue Magazine. He took photographs of former models from the 70s and 80s. This photograph of Taylor was included in the project and the resulting exhibition in 2011.
I love taking photographs and I love visual images, but seeing this photo and thinking about my ‘crush’ reminds me once again that whether it is age, style, Photoshop or something else, the image is not the model. The model is a living, breathing person, better and more real than any image.
Drawing and story by Marty Coleman, who is beet red right now.
Quote by Cheri Erdman
The models we see in magazines wish they looked like their own images
I hope I become a famous celebrity for posting Napkin #3 of Heroes Week!
I remember reading an article in Flying magazine once about my father. The article was about his exploits as a test pilot in the 1950s, for which he became quite famous. He was famous for a brief while among the general population and has had continued fame within the aviation community ever since. Still, to this day, I get regular inquiries and requests to interview him, visit him, have autographed photos of him sent. I sent one to Scotland a few years back.
Skeets Coleman (right) and engineer with the XFY-1 POGO
Legend in Residence
The article started out talking about how the author met my father. He met him when my father was hired to be Publisher of Business and Commercial Aviation Magazine. But that is not what the author said. He said he met him when my father was hired to be ‘Legend in Residence’ (or something close, the exact words escape me right now). I understand that when you are very high up in business they are often hiring your reputation, not just you. They wanted the cache of saying they had a legendary aviator at the helm. It gave their enterprise gravitas and authority. I get that.
Skeets Coleman and Jerry Brown
Skeets Coleman and Michael Bloomberg
Celebrity vs Substance
At the same time it did seem, in my eyes, to diminish his accomplishments during the rest of his career in aviation. He didn’t just fly one amazing test flight and then do nothing. He had also been a fighter/bomber pilot in WWII, an airport owner, a salesman of high end corporate jets, a corporal in the Marine Reserves, an inventor and innovator in aviation equipment and airplanes. And he was now at the helm of a very important and influential magazine in his industry. None of those things brought him the fame of his test pilot exploits, and rightly so. The test flights he took were legendary and they deserved to be. As a matter of fact, as the years past his flights are seen in higher regard not lower. The farther we get from the time of the flights the more amazing it seems his accomplishments were. But his other endeavors were valuable, good and worthy of recognition. They proved him to be a man of substance throughout his life, not just an aviation celebrity for one event.
Skeets Coleman on Johnston Island during WWII
Skeets Coleman (3rd on right, front row) and Squadron in WWII
I started this out not knowing it would turn into an essay about my father. But his life is the root of my personal understanding of both hero and celebrity. I like that he was both and I like that he always knew the difference.
Here is a 1955 promotional film that shows what exactly what it was that my father flew in the test fights I have been mentioning. I think you will be impressed.
Here is another, shorter video. The volume is very low so you’ll have to turn it up to hear the voiceover.
My mother wasn’t really the napkin mom. She probably gave me notes here and there, I don’t remember. But she did give me many things I hold dear.
I am an artist because of her. It was her father who taught me to draw. It was she, more than my father, who loved that I was an artist. My father liked it, but my mother loved it.
My mother gave me love of gardening. She was always piddling around growing potted plants. I gave her a small plant once, she grew it into a large tree in her staircase alcove. She named it after me. I always liked that. I grew one just like it for many, many years in our home as well. It was well over 8 feet tall by the time we moved and had to leave it behind.
My sister got the bug even worse than I did. She has a garden that would make my mother proud. For the most part I have houseplants my mother would say need watering.
She gave me love of baseball. I grew up watching the LA Dodgers in the era of Sandy Koufax, Don Drysdale and Maury Wills. She was a stickler for always staying until the last out, no matter the score. She could NOT abide seeing that famous trail of rear lights leaving Chaves Ravine in the 6 or 7th inning.
She gave me a love of family. This is a picture of her being surprised by me coming home from college one year. Everyone knew I was coming home for the Holidays but her. She went berzerk with joy when I walked in the door. I always loved that moment, always felt loved in the best way. Brings tears to my eyes thinking about it.
She gave me a love of letting go. She let things go easily. Not everything, and not always. But she learned as she grew older to, as she, said ‘Let go, let God’. She understood what she could control and what she couldn’t and she was at peace with that. It was probably the most important example she showed me.
She passed away in 1988, a long time ago. I remember her with love today.