Longtime readers knew Carl Cordell as Reservoir Carl, a nickname I stuck to him in 2007 before I ever even met him, based on a photo I saw of the Peeps diorama he made for the Washington Post Peeps Diorama contest. Fortunately, he thought it was funny. This birthday post I wrote about him 2 years ago explains it all.
No human being on the face of the earth could aggravate me more than Carl. He reveled in this, of course, and we laughed about it, in those times when I wasn’t secretly plotting ways to drop him to the bottom of the Potomac River with rocks in his pockets.
Carl was my biggest fan, reading every word I wrote and sending me a detailed email about every single thing I posted.
He was also the hardest worker Artomatic ever had.
He was also a royal pain in my ass. Let’s not get too sappy, here…
Carl passed away last year. Before his health began to spiral downward, he sent me an absurdly long, overly detailed, utterly ridiculous, totally Carl list of things I was instructed to do upon his demise. I promised I would do my very best.
At the time we made this deal, he swore his health was fine. It wasn’t long before we all knew that was a lie, of course.
Carl had no way of knowing that Tracy and Roger and Michele and Brian and all of his friends would create an amazing shrine to him for this Artomatic, or probably even that the whole event would be dedicated to his memory, but they did and it is. Instead of placing flowers next to his last peeps diorama as he’d instructed, I had a real place to put the flowers I was asked to bring.
I posted this on Facebook this morning. Facebook being Facebook, the message didn’t display for everyone so some wackiness ensued. Here it is again, in perhaps a more stable form:
Okay buddy, here we are on opening day. I’m not running this crazy shindig anymore but I got permission to bring the flowers I promised you, 1 for each artomatic we did together. I’m sorry I had to go w your 2nd choice, roses, but I just couldn’t find good sunflowers this morning.
I know, ants love all flowers, but I made you a promise I couldn’t keep.
I’m sorry you aren’t here to see this event & I’m almost sorry we won’t get to have our traditional opening day fight and I’m actually even sorry I couldn’t keep the other promises you made me make, but let’s be honest, even if we’d gotten you mummified, I doubt I could have done the ritual to reanimate you as Carl-Tet, mummy king of Artomatic. I’m pretty sure that movie we watched was a Hollywood movie & not a documentary.
But I digress.
I need to go now cause even though I’ve got permission to be in the building, I’m just sitting here crying and scaring the volunteers witless.
Also, this bench they put in front of your shrine is sorta rickety & I have my doubts about how long it’ll support my weight. That’s just the kind of stuff you’d have called me to worry over, though, isn’t it? :-)
I was a wreck by the time I got those flowers put up. My full instructions were to get a dozen flowers and place one for each Artomatic we worked on together next to his diorama and the rest in my space. I did that this morning but I suspect when I arrive tonight for the opening I’m going to have to move them all over to his shrine or I won’t be able to go into my own space without crying.
Carl being Carl, my instructions included a list of acceptable flowers. The list was several pages long. Decent-looking sunflowers being in short supply in my neighborhood stores this morning, I went with the 2nd choice, roses.
Later in the day, Roger sent me this photo. The sunflower crisis is over:
I don’t know if I’m going to be able to recite Jabberwocky at Meet the Artist Night or edit Carl into a copy of Empire of Ants, but this flower thing, I could do this. So I did.