From November 2022
Richard Patterson is the strangest friend I have. Or, on second thought, let’s say Richard Patterson is the friend with whom I have the strangest relationship. Yes, that’s better.
We’ve spent time in each other’s company perhaps on only half a dozen occasions. Yet for the past decade we’ve communicated more frequently than I have with even the best man in my wedding or even maybe the wife in my wedding. And by communicate, I mean he sends me emails. Sometimes I respond; mostly I don’t because I can’t keep up with how quickly he types. Richard writes me thousands of words daily about Manchester United, the state of Dallas dining, his Jaguar, his dog (R.I.P., Murray), the Nancy Best Fountain at Klyde Warren Park, more Manchester United, and his swimming regimen, among other salient topics. I read everything he sends. Seeing as how we are friends, it would be rude not to.
It’s probably worth mentioning that Richard is a well-known British painter who moved to Dallas in 2004. His emails seem to me like a sort of typing therapy that he uses to process his thoughts and emotions sparked by this foreign place in which he finds himself.
I asked Richard to explain himself better than I can, basically giving him this page. I told him the space accommodates about 400 words. He sent 1,500. Here are a few of them:
“I realized the only way I could comprehend Dallas was as if it were a giant open-ended movie screenplay. Not necessarily a great movie, you understand, but a screenplay nonetheless. At the same time, out of homesickness, the newfound delights of the internet and emailing began for me a new phase in my life, compulsive letter writing to almost anyone in any position of power whatsoever. If you’re of a certain age, you may know The Henry Root Letters, by the British satirist Charles William Donaldson. Some of my emails are a bit like this: hyperbolic, at times relentless, unbelievably repetitive, satirical, polemical, feckless, concerned, bantering, earnest, sober, not so sober. After a few years, I realized that I wasn’t really writing to people but expressing my experiences, and, in a sense, I was writing to Dallas, as if the municipality of Dallas had ears and a brain, as if even the pavement were listening.”
To put that in relief: Richard Patterson, my dear friend, thinks of me as pavement. It’s quite a revelation and almost makes me second-guess having asked him to write about a new upscale car storage facility in town called The Shop Club Dallas. Gearheads probably won’t know what to make of the story. Same with folks in the art world. But as a member of neither tribe, I think “Cars Are Not Art,” which was published online today, is a delight. It makes me grateful that I’ve been listening for a decade.
Richard, I love you, mate.