Last Summer I came across this second floor walk-up office in Brookline. Above a bagel shop, a Vietnamese restaurant, and an H&R Block. So I said I’ll take it. I was planning to paint over the simulated wood panelling, but as the renovation was delayed, I had to wait a few weeks and it started to grow on me. I found a photo of Don Draper’s office from Mad Men and there’s some panelling in there. Get in early on the cheap panelling revival. I kept the picture.
Eventually I realized the office was actually a set for an 1960s-style family portrait to go on the Christmas card I’d planned to do LAST year. I had in mind an old Christmas photo of my own family from when I was about Quentin’s age, dressed up and serious. Of course, it ended up looking nothing like that.
One day I was looking at some old record covers. You know like those odd records you come across in the thrift store bins? Polka groups. Or Easy Listening. Strange photos on the front and lots of tiny text and strange symbols in black and white on the back. They’re yellowed and smell a little funky now. So I just put 2 and 2 together.
Then it became FAR more complicated. We had to actually do something. Production design, wardrobe, direction, photography, art direction, design, printing, distribution. It was like a very low budget B-movie production with three actors.
I kept telling everyone not to smile. Don’t smile. DON’T SMILE! We got about 100 shots in 20 minutes, mostly smiles. In one, we weren’t smiling and my friend says it looks like you should have thought-balloons over your heads. So that was the one. By the time we were finished, it had gotten dark and we walked across Harvard Street and had dinner at Chef Chow’s sitting by the window.
Postscript: The painting in the background was done back in the 1950s by a friend of my parents from Columbus, Georgia. We call it the “Alabama Picasso.” Also an old caricature of my Dad eating a turkey leg when he was at the University of Alabama. I think my real goal was to make something that Quentin can look at when he’s an old man. Merry Christmas to all.