Thinking the Worst with Gary Duehr

by Scott Lozier

Think the Worst

On Saturday, November 28, from 4-5 pm, at Bromfield Gallery in Boston’s South End, local artist Gary Duehr will launch THINK THE WORST, a public awareness campaign to embrace the negativity pervading some corners of the media and popular opinion. The event is free and open to the public. Gary is the Managing Editor of "Arts Spectrum," and an instructor for the OFA Public Art program. And a humorist.

I sent Duehr several questions, which he answer by email. And he included a recipe.

My questions in bold.

Didn't Woody Allen declare that pessimism was dead in the 70s?

Yes he did, but it was widely misquoted as persimmon is dead (as we all know, that astringent, plumlike fruit), leading to a rush on harvests of the genus Diospyros. In case this is making you hungry, see below for Gary's recipe for Persimmon Cake

Will you be handing out bottles of Purrell?

Yes, along with slices of persimmon (see above). And not just bottles, we will be offering sponge baths by our trained technicians. Followed by a HazMat shower, just to make sure. And lessons in how to bow and scrape on Asian foreign policy trips instead of shake hands--or to do the Howie Mandell/terrorist fist bump. Humans are filthy beings crawling with micro organisms!

What are the 5 worst things that happened between 2000-2009?

(In no particular order):

1. George Bush elected

2. George Bush re-elected

3. George Bush first term

4. George Bush second term

5. George Bush announces plan for Presidential "Library" (airquotes his)


Favorite George Bush moment?

That time he went to retrieve a bag of cash from a kid, Donny, whose homework paper he found in his wrecked car, only to discover after he met Donny's father (the creator of "Branded" but now confined to an iron lung) and after he had smashed the windshield of what he thought was Donny's sportscar that the invasion of Iraq was a big f-ing mistake.

Who do we blame if there is no more giant media corporations?

Ourselves. That is, the really big giant multi-inter-trans-media corporation Ourselves (TM), which manufactures everything from illusions to Kindles to kinders to everything that starts with a lower case i (or wii).


How can poetry save us? Why should we listen to you?

That's really two questions, isn't it? The first is a really long complicated answer that I don't have time for, and the second is kind of ironic if you've kept reading to get to this point. Oh, ok. Poetry can save us by reminding us of our ultimate humanity (just kidding). As for part two, you shouldn't listen to me, you should listen to You.

Are you on Twitter?

You mean right now? That's kind of a personal question. And who are what is Twitter? I am suspicious of any new technology that requires mastering a new vocabulary: I tweet, you twit, they twitter, we titter.

Gary's Recipe for Persimmon Cheesecake:


* 2 cups chopped walnuts

* 1/3 cup brown sugar

* 3 tablespoons melted butter


* 2 cups pureed persimmons

* 3 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened

* 1 1/4 cups white sugar

* 3/4 cup sour cream

* 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

* 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

* 6 eggs

* 1 1/4 cups sour cream

* 3 tablespoons white sugar

* 1 teaspoon vanilla extract


1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C).

2. Chop the walnuts in a food processor until fine. Mix together in a bowl with the brown sugar and melted butter. Press the mixture into the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan.

3. Bake in the preheated oven for 12 minutes. Set aside to cool completely.

4. Combine the persimmons, cream cheese, 1 1/4 cup sugar, 3/4 cup sour cream, cinnamon, and ginger in a food processor. Blend in processor until smooth, stopping occasionally to scrape edges of food processor bowl with a spatula. Add the eggs, one at a time, and process until fully incorporated. Pour the mixture over the cooled crust.

5. Bake in the preheated oven until mostly set with the center being slightly jiggly, 60 to 75 minutes.

6. While the cheesecake is baking, whisk together the 1 1/4 sour cream, 3 tablespoon white sugar, and vanilla extract. Spread evenly over the cheesecake while still hot and return to oven another 10 minutes. Allow to cool completely. Loosely cover with aluminum foil and refrigerate 4 to 8 hours or overnight before serving.

[Caption: Think the Worst]