Monday, November 15, 2010

Musical Chairs

As it turns out, musical chairs is not just a game, it's actually a training ground for life. Otherwise, you might not realize the music can stop at any time, and you better be prepared to dive for a chair. If you're late, not paying attention or, say, dancing - and you're left standing, you're out of the game. Opposite of a cakewalk.

I saw a man in our village recently who's out of the game. He lost a $150,000/year business by trying to be all things to all people, and when he announced he was closing, people stopped coming like it was the House of the Red Death. I hear he's not well. I see him riding around town on his bike, hair wild, no more pretenses, cut loose.

Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, my children's fierce paternal great-grandmother, who was raised on the South Dakota freezing prairie by a German father with a long beard and longer cane, saved the church socials all through the Depression by buying a 50-pound bag of sugar at an opportune moment. I just want to say, now feels like an opportune moment to buy a 50-pound bag of sugar, and a 50-pound bag of flour, too, and perhaps flout the local zoning laws with a small flock of backyard chickens (hens only).

Wet-your-pants hilarious pop culture zine publisher Lance Laurie says if he had a dime for every artist whining to him about not being able to make ends meet, he could build a theme park in Chelsea. Can you keep making art now? Can you keep making art, even though you have to decamp to a Hooverville on City Island, and knit your own socks by hobo campfire? If you can, you stand a good chance of coming out ahead when the music starts again. So chin up.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

How to Survive Living with Kids

During the course of our endless, one-wall-a-year kitchen renovation, young designer Aldo Lavaggi loaned us the architecture student's Bible, a seminal text called A Pattern Language: Towns, Buildings, Construction (Alexander, Ishikawa, Silverstein et al, Oxford Press). In this text, architecture is broken down into primes, as the study of patterns of living, a means of structuring physical space for human application. Surprised and delighted to find a book that explicitly delineates how to organize space to survive life with children, I want to quote verbatim the section these writers call "Children's Realm":

"If children do not have space to release a tremendous amount of energy when they need to, they will drive themselves and everybody in the family up the wall."

I could not have said it better myself. In New York state, trampolines are all but illegal; two home insurers cover them. In my household, the trampoline is an essential (outdoor) energy-releasing space. Next in the book is a photo, entitled "A frenzy in the dining room," then the text continues:

"For a graphic example, visualize what happens when children bring in friends from school and have a whole number of ideas in their heads about what to do or play. They are loud and boisterous after being pent up all day and they need a lot of indoor and outdoor space to expend all this energy. Obviously, the mood calls for space which contains long distances because they suggest the possiblity of physical freedom much more.

And, in general, a child's world is not some single space or room - it is a continuum of spaces. The sidewalk where he sells lemonade and talks with friends, the outdoor play area of the house into which he can invite his friends, the indoor playspace, his private space in the house where he can be alone with a friend, the bathroom, the kitchen where his mother is, the family room where the rest of the family is - for the child, all of these together form his world. If any other kind of space interrupts this continuum, it will be swallowed up into the child's world as part of his circulation path.

If the private rooms, the couple's realm, the quiet sitting areas are scattered randomly among the places that form the children's world, then they will certainly be violated. But if the children's world is one continuous swath, then these quiet, private, adult places will be protected by the mere fact that they are not part of the continuum. We therefore conclude that all the places which children need and use should form one continuous geometrical swath, which does not include the couple's realm, the adult private rooms, or any formal, quiet sitting spaces. This continuous playspace needs certain additional properties.

1. Children are apt to be very demanding of everyone's attention when they are in this specially energetic state. The mother is particularly susceptible to being totally swallowed up by them. They will want to show her things, ask her questions, ask her to do things..."Look what I found. Look what I made. Where shall I put this? Where's the clay? Make some paint." The mother must be available for all this, but not forced to be in the thick of it. Her workroom and the kitchen need to be protected, yet tangential to the playspace.

2. The family room is also part of the continuum since it is where children and the rest of the family have contact with each other. The playspace, therefore, should enter the common area -- preferably to one side - see COMMON AREA AT THE HEART (129).

3. The children's private spaces (whether they are alcoves or bedrooms) can be off the playspace, but it must be possible to close them off. Children naturally want to be exclusive at times -- they often invite their closest friends into such a space for a private chat or to show off some prized possession.

4. It is usually too expensive to create a special playspace; but it is always possible to make a hallway function as the indoor part of the playspace. It needs to be a bit wider than a normal hall (perhaps seven feet) with nooks and stages along the edge. Children take up the suggestive qualities of spaces -- on sight of a little cave-like space, they will decide to play house; on sight of a raised platform, they will decide to put on a play. Thus, both indoor and outdoor parts of the playspace need different levels, little nooks, counters, or tables, and so on. A lot of open storage for toys, costumes, and so forth should also be provided in these spaces. When toys are visible, they are much more likely to be used.

5. The outdoor space just adjacent to the indoor space should be partially roofed, to provide transition between the two and to reinforce continuity.

...If the home is organized so that the children's world gradually spreads throughout the home, it will disrupt and dominate the world of tranquility, preciousness and freedom that adults need to live their own lives. If there is an adequate children's world, in the manner described in this pattern, then both the adults and the children can co-exist, each without dominating the other.

Start by placing the small area which will belong entirely to the children - the cluster of their beds. Place it in a separate position toward the back of the house, and in such a way that a continuous playspace can be made from this cluster to the street, almost like a wide swath inside the house, muddy, toys strewn along the way, touching those family rooms which children need - the bathroom and the kitchen most of all - passing the common area along one side (but leaving quiet sitting areas and the couple's realm inviolate), reaching out to the street, either through its own door or through the entrance room, and ending in an outdoor room, connected to the street, and sheltered, and large enough so that the children can play in it when it rains, yet still be outdoors."

This has certainly given me insight into why my house and my nerves are in a constant state of uproar. Please comment if you have figured out how to better organize your space along these lines, in order to save your sanity.


Wednesday, June 16, 2010

LA Family Moves to New York - from the Moving Archives

November, 2006

We have been living in a sublet loft in an old feather factory on the edge of Bed-Sty, with four or five other artists and various cats. An elementary class toured through here last week, to see what it is really like to be an artist!
(Better think long and hard about it, kids.)

Wayne found, then lost, an apartment, after a month of hunting, in the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn, a few blocks east of the Brooklyn Museum. I've been to Manhattan all of three times, we've been so busy settling in at school. The girls are going to The Brooklyn School, a tiny (almost miniature) new Waldorf School in the Brooklyn Academy of Music. We had a rocky start, as the first day I went with Mildy (now Juliet), the kindergartners were spitting on each other, hiding under the table, punching each other; in short, I was shocked and appalled. The administrator pointed out that people around us in downtown Brooklyn are cursing like pirates and spitting all the time, and nearly all of these kids are new to Waldorf education - this is what it really means to have a "truly diverse" Waldorf experience, I guess. We had to hold tight to that Waldorf pedagogy, and give it a chance, because the teachers are lovely and very experienced. Laura went from her class of 30 genteel and kind peers to a class of 8; she is the third girl. They walk to Ft. Green park for recess twice a day, and by three oclock she is totally done in. She seems to be adapting well otherwise, enjoying Mandarin Chinese so much we are going to Chinatown for her birthday, also very excited about meeting "Mr. Plus," of the Number Gnomes. Today we (the whole school is as big as Laura's Pasadena class) visited a "farm" in Queens.

It was a slow day, as there were only 2,800 children visiting the farm, instead of the usual 4,000. They had a cow tied up on a platform, so the city kids could see what a cow looked like. There was also a Native American up on a platform! Sorry, it wasn't that bad, just surreal. All those poor children who've never caught turtles or held baby ducks. I'm already strategizing how to get to Oklahoma for the summer.

I have to say that homeschooling my 10 year-old son is very, very difficult in this situation, first because I feel like a klutz and I'm completely flying by the seat of my pants, in comparison to his lovely and gifted teacher. He can't get enough exercise - the boy is like a terrier, just needs to run and run - because we have to walk so far to the park, and our day is so short. And he desperately needs other kids, particularly young boys. Very hard on me. There has not been a minute when I have not been with one or all of my children for the last six weeks (believe it!), except when they have been asleep. This is the
disenchantment phase. Can I really do this? Everything is a grind.


Thursday, March 11, 2010

10 Ways to Stay Healthy This Winter

Dr. Tim Aitken, of Eight Branches Healing Arts (Spencertown and Manhattan), is a doctor of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). Although not Chinese himself, Aitken studied with an esteemed physician, gathering knowledge based on a two thousand year-old system of healing from the Han Dynasty. Applying that understanding of the human body to a world of such modern conditions as the H1N1 virus, Aitken founded Eight Branches Healing Arts with partner Heidi Harding, to impart the eight channels of wellness through local workshops and private practice.

After a rainy summer in New York, we’ve had a tougher than usual cold and flu season. With the health care system overloaded, Aitken offers these 10 simple steps to promote your own “wellth” every day. “Traditional doctors didn’t get paid for sick people,” he adds.

Know Thyself
Aitken defines the immune system, in terms of yin/yang theory, as the “me” vs. the “not-me.” The way to differentiate the self from that which works against the self, causing stress and inflammation, is daily spiritual practice -- meditation. “The owner’s manual for each person is inside,” Aitken says.
This made sense on an intuitive level. After a couple of days of following his advice -- breathing in to a count of ten, breathing out to a count of ten, and working to focus on nothing but that for fifteen minutes -- I had the sudden knowledge that, being Native American, wheat was “not me.” I also know from years of experience that coffee is “not me.” Bread and coffee is my idea of a good time (think croissants and cafe au lait at the Deux Magots), but I know that if I override my better judgment and down coffee to keep going (instead of stopping to rest), sooner or later I’m going to get a cold. Aitken says a cold is your body’s signal that something’s got to change. Meditation can get you there sooner, and with less suffering.

Exercise Regularly
Full body exercise moves all the systems of the body - muscles, glands, lymphatic system - working in concert with breath and mind, to make it more efficient. Yoga, Qi Gong and Martial Arts were created to work all these aspects of the self, and to clear away the refuse in all systems of the body. Two caveats: it’s important to cross train, and to have recovery periods between periods of exertion, so the body can reduce toxins created during exercise. Second, if you’re “plugged in,” i.e., to an MP3 player, you’re “tuned out,” and the strength of your mind and breath (or voice) are not harnessed to moving the mountain.

Eat Real Food
Local, Organic, Seasonal. My youngest kid must have missed a third to a half of the days on the school calendar last winter with a nagging cough that just kept recycling. I figured her California body was learning to adapt to the more rigorous Northeastern climate, and once she got through it, she’d be fine. However, the cough has already been back three times since school started this year. The problem, according to Dr. Aitken, whose speciality is pediatrics, is that she’s still eating like a Californian, where kids picked oranges off the trees if they wanted a snack. Sugary foods like oranges or tropical fruits are OK for hotter climates, where the body uses sugar to combat the heat (Aitkin made the startling comment that sugar = damp), but oranges don’t grow here. And you don’t eat blueberries every day, only in the heat of summer. The human body is designed to work in concert with nature, so follow the seasons and avoid processed foods like sugar. “If you’re eating white sugar every day, “ Aitkin points out, “You’re living with a suppressed immune system.”

Get Enough Sleep
How much is enough? If you can get through your day without caffeine, then you’re getting enough sleep. Ouch!
Aitken points out that it’s especially helpful to get more sleep this time of year, when the immune system is taxed. The ancient guide was the solstices. At the winter solstice, you should be active nine hours, resting the remainder; whereas at the summer solstice, it’s the opposite, resting nine hours, active the rest.
Be religious about bedtime. The key? Turn off the lights.

Try Dry Brushing
Dry skin, or friction, brushing directly impacts the lymphatic system. With a loofa or a dry washcloth (I use a soft
brush meant for vegetables on my kids' delicate skin), brush skin from the tips of the fingers and toes, toward the heart, so lymph glands can drain toward the heart.
Aitken says try it for a week, and see if you don't feel better.

Dark Green Vegetables
Eat them every day. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the "doctrine of signatures" means if a food resembles a body part,
it serves the health of that part of the body. For example, walnuts strengthen the brain, green, leafy vegetables strengthen the
lungs (an intuitive understanding western medicine, with its need for proof, is slowly proving).

Sea Vegetables
Sea vegetables, such as nori or dulse, have the same mineral pattern as sea water and blood. Used as condiments, they provide salt in a complex way, with surprisingly low sodium, which will mineralize you.

Wash Your Hands
Your mother was right! Regular hand-washing is critical. However, Aitken has a few pointers on soap. First of all, no anti-bacterial soap, which will also mess with the healing bacteria that you want to keep. Second, essential oils are the hormones of plants; they are medicine. "Natural" or "healthy" doesn't mean it's benign, Aitken points out. Better to stick to an unscented soap close to the body's pH; Aitken prefers Dr. Bronner's or castile. Washing with this helps protect the immune system, so microbes don't stick.

More ways to stay healthy coming soon....


Friday, May 22, 2009

Happy Mother's Day

You ask me to come and spend a week with you, which means I would be near my daughter, whom I adore. You who live with her know how rarely I see her, how much her presence delights me, and I'm touched that you should ask me to come and see her. All the same I'm not going to accept your kind invitation, for the time being at any rate. The reason is that my pink cactus is probably going to flower. It's a very rare plant I've been given, and I'm told that in our climate it flowers only once every four years. Now, I am already a very old woman, and if I went away when my pink cactus is about to flower, I am certain I shouldn't see it flower again.
So I beg you, Sir, to accept my sincere thanks and my regrets, together with my kind regards."

This note, signed Sidonie Colette, nee Landoy, was written by my mother to one of my husbands, the second. A year later she died, at the age of seventy-seven. Whenever I feel myself inferior to everything about me, threatened by my own mediocrity, frightened by the discovery that a muscle is losing its strength, a desire its power or a pain the keen edge of its bite, I can still hold up my head and say to myself: "I am the daughter of the woman who wrote that letter -- that letter and so many more that I have kept. This one tells me in ten lines that at the age of seventy-six she was planning journeys and undertaking them, but that waiting for the possible bursting into bloom of a tropical flower held everything up and silenced even her heart, made for love. I am the daughter of a woman who, in a mean, close-fisted, confined little place, opened her village home to stray cats, tramps and pregnant servent-girls. I am the daughter of a woman who, many a time, when she was in despair at not having enough money for others, ran through the wind-whipped snow to cry from door to door, at the houses of the rich, that a child had just been born in a poverty-stricken home to parents whose feeble, empty hands had no swaddling clothes for it. Let me not forget that I am the daughter of a woman who bent her head, trembling, between the blades of a cactus, her wrinkled face full of ecstacy over the promise of a flower, a woman who herself never ceased to flower, untiringly, during three quarters of a century."

-- Colette,
quoted in Tasha Tudor's All for Love


Monday, April 20, 2009

Stephen Sprouse's 15 Minutes

New York is having a Stephen Sprouse moment – again. Late-Roman spectacle is passé, and artists who look and act like bond traders are going the way of…bond traders. The mood in New York has downshifted to a desire for authenticity, intimacy and the integrity that a quest for truth in art provides. With the city overtaken by French tourists (New York is now “on sale”), it’s heartening to remember that 25 years ago, when Sprouse’s rock and roll designs first revolutionized fashion, the whole downtown art/music/club scene was starving artists.

Sprouse was still in his chubby phase at 12 (and had been designing for 4 years) when his father brought him to New York to consult with fellow Indiana-born fashion designers Norman Norrell and Bill Blass. He asked them, “What would you do if this boy were your son?” Fashion critic Eugenia Sheppard wrote of the boy genius in the International Herald Tribune, “The most riveting thing about Stephen’s collection…is that he seems to know instinctively what plenty of top fashion designers haven’t really grasped yet. Fashion is no longer just a good looking dress or coat, but the total way a woman looks.” Sheppard’s closing prophecy is chilling: “Music has its Mozart and fashion may have its Stephen Sprouse.”

By 18, Sprouse dropped out of the Rhode Island School of Design and became Halston’s main assistant. While he spent his days fitting the rich and famous uptown, his nights were devoted to his first love, rock and roll – downtown. In 1983, he set up shop in Andy Warhol’s old factory and set off fireworks in the New York fashion industry with his first collection. For the complete story of Sprouse’s roller coaster career, take a look at the gorgeous new monograph, The Stephen Sprouse Book, by fashion showmen Mauricio and Roger Padilha (Rizzoli). The Padilha brothers, who have the world’s largest collection of vintage Sprouse designs and memorabilia, and who credit Sprouse for inspiring their launch into fashion, reject the idea that Sprouse’s current influence is nostalgic. “We didn¹t set out to write a history book,” they said, “But to cover an artist who is as relevant today as he was 25 years ago. Stephen was really ahead of his time.” They equate Sprouse’s art with that of Eero Saarinen, Frank Gehry or Jackson Pollack, calling it “something unique that will always look modern…and turn heads.”

Along with the Sprouse Book, two Sprouse retrospectives this January coincided with the release of Marc Jacobs’ new Tribute Collection for Louis Vuitton, inspired by Sprouse’s iconoclastic 2001 graffiti bag. “Rock on Mars,” at Deitch Projects’ Wooster Street gallery, is a museum-caliber retrospective that shows off the protean Sprouse as the first “Warholian” fashion designer to create a fusion of art, music and fashion. In addition to 50 mannequins dressed in his original fashions, the show features drawings accented with fluorescent paint and exhibited under black light; Sprouse paintings (Iggy Pop crucified, Sid Vicious caught with his pants down); a wall of Polaroids; a few of the original grafitti bags chained to a bench and videos made for his fashion shows, in which Sprouse gambols like a puppy with his unearthly models.

Uptown, John McWhinnie/Glenn Horowitz Booksellers exhibited a raw archive of “rescued” early Sprouse drawings. These drawings, which predate Sprouse’s first collection, weren’t made for fame and fortune, McWhinnie points out, but out of necessity. Co-curator Carol McCranie pointed to one drawing done so early it was on lined paper, torn out of a spiral notebook: a half-portrait of a woman in a beret, from the Patti Smith album. Younger viewers seeing Sprouse’s work for the first time relate to the combination of his amazing aesthetic life with an erratic commercial one, finding a sense of integrity even in Sprouse’s commercial failure. Street artist Terrenceo Hammond, who was part of the downtown graffiti scene in the 80s, was emotional about the combination of Sprouse drawings and 20 year-old punk ephemera papering the walls. He mourned a time when “there didn’t seem to be any clear lines between art and music.” In that regard, Sprouse spoke for his contemporaries, for whom art, music and fashion were blended in the downtown New York club scene.

Uptown curator McWhinnie concluded that the current Sprouse surge is not the typical 20-year retrospective, but is based on the intense desire of his peers to carry on his legacy. Sprouse died tragically in 2004, at age 50, and although there is no more CBGB’s and the downtown street culture is as sanitized as Times Square, there is a whole new wave of starving artists, and the world as Sprouse expressed it is the epicenter of the New York zeitgeist. At the top of the Bowery, from the observation deck of the New Museum -- near the apartment from which Sprouse observed the New York punk scene being born -- the buildings of Manhattan disappeared in a white-out, while the Elizabeth Peyton show played out its last weekend and Sprouse bags sold like hotcakes in Soho. Would Peyton have succeeded with her intimate, intuitive, fashion designer’s rock-and-roll portraits without Sprouse breaking the ground before her? The whole world, top to bottom, seems to have caught up with his downtown aesthetic, and that makes Sprouse start to look like the genius of his generation.


Monday, March 30, 2009

PRIVATE EYE on the Scope and Armory Art Fairs/ NYC 2009

What I learned at the Scope Art Fair in New York this weekend is that the really exciting art is all happening in Berlin. Collector Michael Hort tried to tell me last summer…but I didn’t really believe it until I saw the galleries lined up side by side. My favorite booth, Wilde Gallery, featured street artist EVOL, who created city architectures with up to 75 layers of stencil applied with spray paint to found, flattened cardboard cartons. Price was immaterial – nearly every single piece had a red dot next to it, invoking the dealer’s motto that good work “sells itself.” The artist also had made a practice of transforming street electrical boxes into “little buildings” (i.e. on the street, also with stencils) and had the good fortune to be there when the City of Berlin was upgrading these boxes into an “undulating” style which resists tagging; thus the cheap old Platenbauden from the days of the DDR became “little building” bookcases. At $10,000, there were three left on Friday, before the weekend rush. Another tagger had left his signature on the sample during the Fair.

I heard a lot at Scope about LA painter Allison Schulnik, and her meteoric rise to fame since this time last year. Known for her thick impasto – compared in Art in America to “cupcake frosting” – Schulnik’s Cal Arts training was in animation, so her “Hobo Clown” character is available in 3 formats: painting, sculpture or clay animation video. In a series of 5, with two Artist’s Proofs, $6,000 buys you a signed DVD, which would probably be replaced by the artist if it ever got scratched. Again, this series at Mike Weiss Gallery was just about sold out by Friday morning.

The media machine is lapping up Schulnik’s mythology like whipped cream, but a savvy collector analyzed this work based on two factors: a “hook” -- check, that thick, swirling impasto that looks good enough to eat caught her eye – but then there’s the second factor, which is the final determination as to whether the collector puts down her credit card: is there more than meets the eye, beneath the surface? “Forget what other people are doing,” this collector advised, regarding the “rush” to collect Schulnik’s work. “Do you want to live with it the rest of your life?” Ultimately, the collector took a pass, calling the work not “mysterious” enough.

There was no coffee at collector and New Museum VP Laura Skoler’s open house breakfast, just mimosas. Drinking spiked orange juice, overlooking the city and the white planes of Laura’s apartment plastered in contemporary art, coffee was extraneous. I couldn’t help but overhear a statuesque blond tell two collectors from Kansas City that “you can always tell which artists are going to last.” When I asked her to explain, this curator, who specializes in emerging art and who recently returned to New York from LA, said it was a lot harder to define how she knows than it is to know, but ultimately said that her call was based on (1) whether an artist is already doing important work and (2) how connected they are to the network of artists that came before them. For example, she went to see Shepard Fairey at the Public Library. “Everyone thinks Shepard Fairey’s the Second Coming, but he disregarded any connection between his work and…Andy Warhol’s, for example, and didn’t even know the meaning of the word ‘appropriation.’” She said she left the event early.

The Armory Show took over two piers this year, one for contemporary and one for modern art. I went in at the Contemporary side of things, where the building was faced with huge canvases of what looked like spray-painted Kenny Scharf designs; later I learned they were “action,” paintings, done “live” by Kenny in a space suit rather than his underwear, due to the weather. There was also a space man driving around front in a goofy, custom golf cart, handing out donuts: this seemed to drive high attendance at Kenny’s dealer’s booth, which I avoided like St. Patrick’s Day in Hoboken, but understand was mobbed.

There was confusion among attendees about where the line was drawn between Contemporary and Modern art, but the young man in the press office made it plain that “modern” meant “resale.” In a year where money for “emerging” art is down considerably over last year, it made sense, according to one collector, for show management to appeal to more established collectors with perhaps deeper pockets by also including Cy Twombly, Joseph Cornell, Jackson Pollock and other artists with more established values in this year’s show. Talking to collectors in the coffee bar, one elderly New Yorker lauded the Contemporary venue for being “more about art” this year, with less video and installation. Painting did seem to be making a comeback, although she and many other attendees mentioned being “overwhelmed” with the amount of visual stimulus. “Your brain draws the line at 1,000 images,” she said significantly.

Art consultant Cheryl Perkey, in town from LA and shopping for several collectors, liked Andy Goldsworthy at Booth 119 (Springer & Winckler), the images of the “Transparent City” (see-through buildings and the people who populate them) at Booths 433 (Robert Koch Gallery) and 446 (Julie Saul Gallery), Beth Campbell’s branched hanging sculpture, and particularly the “flow-chart of ideas” behind it, in Booth 831 (Nicole Klagsbrun Gallery), plus the work of Vic Muniz at Booth 721 (Sikkema Jenkins & Co). Noting that half of Cheryl’s picks were in the “modern” side of the show, I walked with another collector – who said he couldn’t stand any more of the “gimmicks” of the Contemporary side-- up a crazy, steep tower of roll-away stairs that connected to the Modern pier.

And there we breathed a sigh of relief. At last we had found the really gorgeous art. Very impressive show; not stuffy. For example, there was a Stairns Twins revolving sun piece at which, like its namesake, you could not stare. The atmosphere was less midway and more library, with thick, hushed carpets. There was some flat Cornell collage work at the very reasonable price of less than $10,000, and, at a Berlin dealer, Dash Snow’s work, produced for a solo show there a few years ago, was going for about half the original price. The Modern dealers looked disappointed not to have the crazy crowds found on the Contemporary side, but I wonder – who will come out ahead in terms of sales?