The car dealer put a new calendar in the front seat after the routine oil change yesterday. “Motivaltional Visions” for 2014. Those hyper sharp colorful images framed in serious heavy black glossy borders that have been motivating office workers for twenty years now. Part of what biz people used to call our pursuit of Excellence. Sure enough, June of next year has a beautiful hummingbird over a pine bough and “Excellence” in Roman Cut Stone Font, all caps. Under that the softcore sermon for the month: “What really matters is what you do with what you have.”
I threw it into the trash when I got home. But a few minutes later I gazed gratefully at it because it had solved a recent puzzle that had been troubling my noggin. In the same small city for the oil change, our state capital, there are two handsome new five story office buildings side-by-side on south Main, sort of a new development area of town. On my second or third walk-by and visit--a big new version of the local bookstore is now in one of the buildings---I noticed two amazing features of the buildings. As you enter one (home to the biggest law firm in town) carved in the brick-rimmed sidewalk entrance rectangle/welcome mat are the words “Love Your Neighbor.” As you pass by the next building, if you look up to the top floor where there used to be on the cornice a keystone there is a large stone tablet with the word “Smile ! “ exclamation point included.
Motivational, soft-core sermonic architecture. Wow, who knew? “Architecture” is too lofty a name here---business office style brick structures is what they are, neat and trim but hardly architecture. Nevertheless they have Messages. The Smile ! building houses the new offices of the town’s Chamber of Commerce. Of Course ! and a gallery for the State League of New Hampshire Craftsmen, a fine organization of long standing.
At first I thought the whole thing seemed a bit Disneylandish. But the motivational calendar has cleared things up. Maybe I will used it after all and get with the program. Maybe I will frame one of the months even. For the Ishmael-ish month of November next year I will have golden leaves against white birch trees with “Change” in caps and the cutline “The best is yet to be.” Ahh, boosterism, thy favors float down upon us like manna in the desert.