Masked memories, murals, and merriment...
Updated: Aug 9, 2020
Here we are, all masked souls.
At least a large majority of us.
Or is the majority not so large?
Whether you think masking is good or unjust, the face covering is a way of our lives at this moment in time and wearing one teeters between medical necessity and fashion statement. It amuses me that the controversial face covering, the mask, has pleasant connotations and memories for me.
My little brother, Mark, idolized the Texas Ranger who wore a black mask to disguise his identity and fight crime on the frontier.
The Lone Ranger (Clayton Moore in our day) was a good man wearing a mask. It protected him and allowed him to become an outlaw, operating outside the law.
Week after week he thrilled not only my brother, but crowds of viewers, with his heroic adventures, virtuous conduct and the stirring call to his white stallion, “Hi-yo Silver away!” However, his mask wouldn’t have worked in the current pandemic wherein the virus is spread by spitting. Didn’t cover his nose or mouth.
The Mask, a movie favorite we all loved in the 1990s, tells the tale of a shy bank clerk named Stanley Ipkiss played by Jim Carrey who stumbles across an ancient wooden mask that transforms him into a wild zany cartoon with new-found powers. His bile green face covering became iconic, but again, no way safe coverage in the pandemic...
An even more iconic mask wearer is Erik, the Phantom of the Opera, a disfigured and murderous musical genius who lives beneath the Paris Opéra House and becomes obsessed with a young soprano, Christine. The Phantom’s mask was a full face covering until Andrew Lloyd Webber’s stage musical when it morphed into a half-mask (nose covered, but mouth not...does that make it half safe?)
This allowed the lead complete ease in both expression and singing. Who doesn’t love the oh-so-harmonious “Music of the night?”
Even international icon and subversive secretive street artist, Banksky's Girl with a Pierced Eardrum, was recently masked. Banksy painted the mural, a parody of Johannes Vermeer's Girl with a Pearl Earring, in his hometown of Bristol in 2014, but it is not known whether he or an unknown graffiti artist painted the blue medical-style mask in a nod to the coronavirus pandemic.
Many of my mask moments evoke tender memories...
The mask as art...
...and my silly masked girlfriends striving for some hydration, both nose and mouth uncovered.
There’s a story in my book, The Orange Woods – Seasons in the Country Artfully Lived – about a mask from far away Jakarta and how it became a legend in our family lore. Jack wore his dazzling white mask each year at Halloween and Día de los Muertos becoming a larger than life character., a very cool masked man…
On today's stage, from the operating stage to the world of fashion, masks have become one of the accepted ways to prevent the spread of coronavirus, and also a statement. Bandana, gaiter, mask-ini or what's your pleasure? An innovative way to express your identity.
The mask can be a more in-your-face-method of revealing not only your health concerns, but your creativity, your personality, and in some cases, your aspirations to those you interact with in the street, at the store, or safely distanced in the backyard. After all, with your lower face covered and, often, your eyes shaded by sunglasses, the usual signposts of character are hidden. The mask becomes the first signifier of you as an individual.
Look at mask-wearing as a way to express yourself. Have some fun with this opportunity that looks like it will be around for quite some time.
At least the Coberlys covered their noses...
More mask merriment...My Most Favorite Mask
Photos to share?
Loved this! You are so creative and really such a good writer. You are able to describe what you see and think and do it in such an interesting way! And I wish I knew Jack. Loved that photo of him, just the best.CJ
Lemons, lemonade. Luv your take on masks!
Looking forward to your reading at PV book club in Sept. What a treat, thank you (& please sign my book!).
Stay safe, dear Marilyn. Luv, Sue
Thanks for your comments. I find them so valuable.
Loved your piece about the mask and I remember how you described the mask Jack wore in The Orangewoods. Janice
Renato's gang from DC in 1989
Gift from my sweet friend, Karen - an orange-inspired face mask. Photo in front my Pauma Valley orange tree painted by Gail Roberts, amazing artist who work graces the American Airlines terminal at San Diego International Airport.