Way back in March of 2009, the culinary circuit here in Fairbanks was traumatized by the loss of a local institution. Sourdough Sam's diner burnt down - a place that, as a former waiter for many years, I always appreciated the rapid service and dependable consistency of the simple fare. Despite the greasy-spoon syndrome, I ate there for twenty-five years, sometimes five days a week, when I was working in the neighborhood - it's become quite the ritual. The fire was a very sad day: we in fact first saw the smoke from the UAF campus hill, and then drove past the still-smoking ruins afterwards on our way to lunch.
Fortunately the iconic restaurant was resurrected in no time (I must have lost ten pounds in the meantime), and in a fit of hometown nostalgia I replaced a copy of an old cartoon that had been stuck up on the wall of the original building. Once again I'm reminded of the humbling retrospective-perspective on how it doesn't really matter how much better your work is now compared to the cringe-worthy caliber of early stuff. What's more important is what it means to other people whenever and wherever they happen to be. For me, this is where it's at, and what it's all about, not entombed in a museum vault or hidden away in a collection (though that's nice too). In fact, that's simultaneously one of the more humbling and reaffirming touchstones from being in the same community for so long now: seeing your stuff clipped out and put up on refrigerators, hung in businesses, enshrined in the outhouse, or refrigerator, or office door, or cubicle wall, is to me the highest honor accorded an artist.