Week 21

I’ve been chronicling my project with my wife on this blog. I’m going to write a sonnet series about the creation of California. I’m using the dual stories of William Mulholland and John Muir to tell the story of water in California, what really made it what it is. Ann’s a visual artist, so she’s going to do the graphic art work for it.

My wife is an artist but also a publishers. She likes to make t-shirts for her authors when their books come out to help promote the books, and we were thinking about this book. Muir and Mulholland were both interesting cats, and they’d make for interesting t-shirt slogans for different types of people.

For example, there’s Muir’s famous, “The mountains are calling and I must go.” People have already put that on t-shirts. It’s kind of a weekend-warrior slogan, which is exactly what I am.

But that misses a lot of readers and a lot of target markets. For example, when Mulholland gave an aqueduct to Los Angeles, his entire speech was, “There it is. Take it.” Now that sounds like a great t-shirt slogan for a communist.

I’m a proud luddite. I don’t even carry a cell phone. A good t-shirt quotation for me and my sisters and brothers might be: “The gross heathenism of civilization has generally destroyed nature, and poetry, and all that is spiritual.”

The sadist in your life might enjoy the response Mulholland gave when asked if he wanted to become the mayor of Los Angeles: “I’d rather give birth to a porcupine. Backward.”

There is a movement in Alaska to cede from the United States. Those people would like Muir’s: “To the lover of wilderness, Alaska is one of the most wonderful countries in the world.”

When Mulholland drained the Owen’s valley, killing its trees, he said, “I half-regretted the demise of so many of the valley’s orchard trees, because now there were no longer enough trees to hang all the troublemakers who live there.” That’s the perfect slogan for the jaunty masochist.

Both men had a flair for their poetic, and all of these quotation are open-source. I think we’re going to make one of these into a t-shirt. Which one do you think we should do? Leave your ideas in the comments below and we’ll post an update when we have a way to go.