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Shine Your Shoes for the Fat Lady

July 22, 2010


I recently just finished an incredible novel by J.D. Salinger entitled, “Franny & Zooey”. The book is basically about a 20 year-old girl (Franny) in college who tries to please everybody and gets frustrated easily by people that don’t adore her, and her cynical, sailor-mouthed older brother (Zooey) who repeatedly discourages his younger sister until finally getting through to her.

After repeated attacks on her actions from Zooey, Franny is left to weep to herself in the living room. Hoping to make amends, Zooey calls Franny and tells her, “An artist’s only concern is to shoot for some kind of perfection, and on his own terms, not anyone else’s.”

He recalls a story of when their older brother, Seymour, made Zooey shine his shoes before going on to a radio quiz show for kids.  At first, Zooey didn’t understand why he should shine his shoes. He wasn’t going to try to impress the “stupid” audience or host, and besides, they couldn’t see his shoes anyway. Nonetheless, Seymour told him to shine them “for the fat lady.” So Zooey, almost every time he went on the program, made sure his shoes were shined.

He told Franny to do the same; to shine her shoes for no one else, but for the “fat lady”, which in her case, was The Jesus Prayer.

What does this all mean? At Proxart, we shine our shoes before we go on the air. We don’t do it for money or popularity, to make business connections or Twitter followers. Those are all fine, but they’re not the reason why we do what we do. We’ve said “no” to perhaps more opportunities than we’ve said “yes” to. Not everyone likes the way we shine our shoes, or even the shoes themselves. That’s ok, because we don’t shine our shoes for them.  We do it for our Fat Lady. We do it for ourselves. We do it for art.

Who/what is your Fat Lady?

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