Friday, November 30, 2007

It's 10:10 p.m.

Its a little after ten and I'm having a massive Al Pacino moment.

But before we get to that, do you think there was some kind of hey-you-put-cotton-in-your-mouth-so-so-am-I kind of mano-a-mano thing between Pacino and Brando in Godfather I? Remember when the rogue cop captain punches Pacino in front of the hospital? For the next hour, his face is all smushed-out on one side. It's like Pacino was channeling Meredith Grey. How odd would that be? Implied space-time continuum disfunction not withstanding. Notwithstanding. Is that one word? If so, would that, in fact, make withstanding, at least as related to one usage, a lost positive? Like ert.

Anyway, I had a bunch of stuff put in storage today. The guys who did it were all from Turkey (which really, might as well be Sicily).I wonder what they were saying to each other, safe in the assumption that I didn't speak Turkish, about me. It sounded like Russian.

Anyway, the two head guys looked exactly--EXACTLY--like the Sicilian carabinieri, if that's how you spell it, charged with protecting Michael Corleone when he's exiled to Sicily.
I know English. Monty, Toosti, Thirsty...
I keep looking under my sofa to see if there's a bomb.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

More about yesterday morning

When we last spoke, it was three in the morning. Odd to be awake at that hour and not to be at a strip club.

Disregard that last comment. Anybody who reads TYOMP knows it's a tragicomedy. And a melodrama. And some other stuff, part of which is a compilation of a bunch of stuff that is completely untrue. I embody the literary device known as the unreliable narrator. I am, on these pages, unreliable. In real life, I'm like a rock. Here, less so. So if I write "Odd to be awake at that hour and not be at a strip club", the only reason for doing so is not to suggest that I habituate such places but, rather, because it is just what the machinery of my mind has manufactured. And off the assembly line it rolls. Then into a (metaphorical) truck, for delivery to you, dear reader. Sign here please.

Still, I dunno. A lot of people read this blog these days. If I could find the reverse delete key on the Mac I'd probably just start over. It would probably be the safest course of action. But, that said, it's not like I've never been to a strip club. I mean, they're a tax deduction for me, given my line of work.
A tax deduction?
For what. Entertaining clients?
No. Who would take a client to a strip club?
Then what?
Professional education.
Professional education? I'm so not buying that.
Here, take a look at "St. Joan Receives the Spirit of the Lord"....

Yowsers. I see what you mean.
Wow, that seems like a really dirty picture.
It's not a dirty picture, you nitwit. It's an exploration of the fine line between spiritual and sexual ecstasy.
Do you think people really believe the shit you just fling around, willy-nilly?
I don't know. Does it matter?
Not to me. But I'll tell you this: I am so printing that picture out and taping it on the wall.
Where are you going to put it?
Either in the bathroom or next to my bed.
I'm not sure that's in keeping with the spirit in which the painting was created.
Do you think people really believe the shit you just fling around, willy-nilly?
I don't know. Does it matter?
Do you think there's a line to be drawn between your painting of St. Joan and your nascent Cheerleader with Banana series.
Yes, I do.
Does St. Joan have a banana?
That's a tasteless comment. You understand that the banana is a metaphor, right?
How can it be a metaphor if nobody in the painting actually has a banana?
Fair question. But if the title of the painting includes the word "banana" then, on some level, can't you say that there is a banana in the painting?
On some level, maybe. Just not on a legitimate one.
Hmmm. What if it's physically written on the surface of the painting, the way I write some of my titles across the top?
What if I'm Jasper Johns and I'm writing the word "seven" on the surface of the painting? Or I'm Ed Ruscha writing the word "damage" on an otherwise unremarkable surface?
It's getting more complicated now. Can I get back to you?
Of course you can.
Anyway, when we last spoke, it was three in the morning. Suffice it to say, odd to be awake at that hour. I'm emailing one of my primary benefactors, the guy who lives in Thailand, about details of delivery of Big Rupert. At some point I suggest that he also buy Big Ben. He comes back at me with the notion of buying Big Ben and commissioning two companion pieces--portraits of Alan Greenspan and Jimmy Buffett. Or Warren. Whichever isn't the one with parrotheads.

And, if it is Warren, then the painting could, I suppose, then be referred to as the Warren Commission.

Anyway, even though he beat me down on price the way old women take a rug out back, sling it over a fence or a clothesline, and beat it with a stick (I mean, you could see the dust coming out of me)--I couldn't email the word "Sold" back to him fast enough.

Life is good. Life is also miserable. This is why this is a tragicomedy. Or a melodrama.

Anyway, I'm now sitting on, or in the middle of, four commissions. They would be: Christmas surprise guy; Erin Burnett; Alan Greenspan; and the Warren Commission. Regarding their respective degrees of difficulty, they will be, in order, hard, moderately hard, easy as pie and I'm not sure.

As I type this, I'm listening to Nils Lofgren singing "Shine Silently".

Life is good.
So you're saying the banana is a metaphor?
For what?
For the instruments through which we generate a fall from grace.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

It's 3:01 a.m.

It's 3:01 a.m. and I just sold "Big Ben (We're Totally Screwed) I". I'm going to bed.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

The Murdoch Annotations

Dave from Richmond suggested I list the annotations on the face of Big Rupert.

Good idea, if perhaps a little labor intensive. Nonetheless, herewith, blah...blah...blah, more or less across the top, then down the left side, then down the right (just a reminder--only WSJ/Dow employees got to write in red):

Fox is what we call yellow journalism
Got Freedom of Press?
UNFAIR and IMBALANCED. stay away
Don't hate the player, HATE THE GAME
(something in Arabic)
Free Speech for Painters
You rule!!
Can you remember the day you stopped caring? K.
Keep the peace!
Excellent city (signature illegible)
Fox News not news at all
Love the WSJ
TRUTH, JUSTICE, CHAL-METTE (sig. illegible)
sup. not smart. SUP!!!
leave WSJ alone!!!
Whos in control?
News is sacred
Great portrait
Fair and Balanced?
God save us all from Murdoch (sig. illeg.)
Good luck, Denise.
Keep the WSJ out of this scumbag's hands.
Bite Me.
"awesome" vision. Good (illeg.)
Say No! (to drugs) I mean to Murdoch!
Love lives Strong (initials)
Go softly into the night
Looks Great
Don't be biased!
Preserve the public trust!
Geoff Great Job
Lenny Thacker (something)
Peace Dorian Carmen
Spain (initials)
Don't mess with the WSJ
(something in French) magnifique!
If it ain't broken don't fix it!
Death and taxes (initials)
Welcome Rupert!
A thing of... well... a thing
God bless the USA
Power must be controlled--Rupert calm down FDNY (sig. illeg.)
Great news (something)
82 degrees and sunny
News should be unbiased.
Sanjaya and you, perfect together
Good job.
Not fair + never balanced!
You go Rupert!!
Please don't break our hearts
I care to not have DBs run the news (DB=douche bag)
Britain is with you Geoff!!! All the best. Hogsham Boys
I don't care (with a circle around it)
My viewers/readers are a brain-washed cult &I know it. But so what?
All the news that's fit for an ultra-conservative media baron to print!
I'll eat your lunch too! Mike Bloomberg
Very nice
The total spin zone!
Keep our independence. Stay away (signature illegible because the person came back the next day and xxx'd it out)
May the best choice be made
Nuffa reddy.
Good move!
Great work Great artist
Beautiful!! (sig. illeg.)
"What will people think... What I tell them to think"
Keep Page 6 out of Page 1
Enslaving the world one outlet at a time.
Stay away from WSJ
Short the Eur/USD until Jan' 08 M.S.
We want truth liberty and the American way
Integrity is out the window!
give me liberty or give me death
high facts
C * * T
Go back to Midtown
WSJ is a public trust. Don't lose it.
$ $ $
I (heart) NY Esp. today.
Keep speach free! Good work
Vielfastt ist gut/Einfaltt schlecht!/Das gilt auch fur/Mein augen (very approximate rendition)
Your hot! (heart) Christina

And there we are. 91 comments total; 17 by WSJ/Dow Jones employees; with the last being my favorite. I'm only human. I wonder if Christina is coming to the opening.

Monday, November 26, 2007

All Paintings Six by Five

Or five by four. I bring this up because people stop by TYOMP, look at the images without realizing that the paintings themselves are pretty big.

This would be proof, more or less:

Big Rupert Gets His Due

Before I ship Big Rupert off to Thailand, I'm pleased to report he'll have one more public viewing before he goes. He's part of a group show at the BAG Gallery in Brooklyn called "Politics of Power."

Art's not a contest but, that said, I hope I win Best of Show, or whatever they call it when it's not related to the Westminster Dog Show. For those interested, you can see the announcement here. Look, I got top billing on the invitation.

Also, on a more serious note: if you double-click on Big Rupert above, then look in the lower right hand corner, you can see where somebody wrote:
"You're hot!
(heart) Christina"

Can you see it? It actually says "Your hot! ..." which is grammatically wrong but I'm choosing not to focus too tightly on that. Just the opposite, in fact. I'd like to publicly thank Christina. Troubling that she didn't write down her phone number or something, but still, you take compliments where you find them.

That said, the opening reception is this Saturday evening. Everyone is invited. I assume there will be wine and cheese. Maybe a grape or two.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

More on my long-term vision

If you read my recent "long-term vision" post, I have one additional note to add.

If you haven't read it yet, scroll down about just a hair--I think it's called "Tooting my own Horn"--and read that one first. Otherwise, this one will make no sense.

Anyway, the additional note is that someday I see myself having a soul patch. Not one of those that look like dirt under the lip, but rather a really long one, perhaps three or four inches, braided so it looks like a vile, disgusting rat tail, perhaps with a decorative string or something holding the end of the braid together.

It would probably have some dried clam chowder on it. Manhattan style.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Are we rolling, Bob?

Now that Beowulf is over, all I can think about is "I'm Not There"--the new Bob Dylan high-art biopic. Which would be as good a thing to write on your grave as any, now that Johnny took "That boy could sure eat some beets."

Right now I'm watching Scorcese's documentary about Bobby called "No Direction Home: Bob Dylan" in which Bobby observes, when reflecting on his relationship with Joan Baez (who, by the way, can really sing), "You can't be wise and in love at the same time." Which I think holds some water. I mean, it's not like the guy can't spin a phrase.

In a minute, Bobby's gonna go electric, so I need to get back to the TV.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Tooting My Own Horn

Something, people point out to me, that I'm rarely loathe to do.

Nonetheless, as I look at my Thanksgiving Top Ten I am filled with a sense of accomplishment, a re-energized belief that the act of insanity referred to in the popular culture as "The Year of Magical Painting, Seasons One and Two", might actually pan out.

Pan out isn't the right phrase. I'm not sure what the right phrase is. But I do have a vision--and one of the things guys like Tony Little (if that's the right guy) say is a key to success is to have a clearly defined vision of where you want to go.
What's your vision?
What's my vision?
Yeah. What's your vision? What did you think I said? You're talking about your vision. Asking you what it is seems like the most normal follow up question imaginable.
My vision is me, of course, standing in a sunny studio, the location of which isn't important, wearing pajama bottoms and a stained white wife-beater. My stomach is so big that the front of the wife-beater is pushed up so you can see my belly-button. Bits of either raisin bran or oatmeal (the vision is not completely clear on this) are stuck to the side of my cheek and chin, dribbled out of the corner of my mouth and then forgotten as my thoughts turned back to painting one more junkie cheerleader shooting up between her toes because she's wrecked all the veins in her arm. The studio is filled with paintings, most of which are mine, stacks of old New York Times, and a few sumptuous bits of furniture--carved from dark wood in baroque swirls, covered with deep green velvet, covered in turn with little bits of paint. The phone rings. It is either one of my daughters or the other--hard to tell just from the ring. The Jets have just won the Super Bowl. Life is good.
Man-that's a fucking vision!
Isn't it?


Public Service Announcement: If you are trying to reach me, send me an email until I find my cellphone.

Despite this annoyance, there is much to give thanks for. The excellence, on virtually every level, of my daughters comes to mind first. The following paintings also pop to the front of the mind in no particular order.

Big Dick I (Hundred Million)--for putting me on the Wall Street map

The Annotated Murdoch--because "news is sacred." Plus, I love that blue wedge above his left eye.

Girl With The Pearl Earring (2003)--because although it wasn't the first, it was, in many ways.

Elena in the Morning--because sometimes its enough to just be beautiful.

Michele A.--because she, too, is a beauty. Plus, one can draw a direct line between Michelle A. and Cheerleader With Banana (Fallen Angel) I. Which is either a good thing or not, but something for which I, at least, am giving thanks.

Big Maria I (Plane Too Many)--because she may be my most famous painting (toss-up with Big Rupert).

Old Bobby Lee--because I love how his nose is gray. One wonders what the thinking was behind that. Plus, as many have noted, he is the single best example of the obscured box technique.

The Ecstasy of St. Theresa--because I don't think this painting gets enough credit. And for uniquely embodying the primary idea behind the Catholic Saints series--the depiction of the fine line between spiritual and sexual ecstasy--and for, by doing so, sparking the Cheerleader With Banana series (which is about the fine line between success and failure).

Close, But No Cigar--because it's good to know you can still crank out a real painting every once in a while.

And, of course Chuck--because not only was his painting as much, if not more, given how early it came in the process, of an "aha" moment as Close, But No Cigar, but also because he's cooking Thanksgiving dinner.

Remind me to tell you about my creamed spinach.

It's 4:09

It's 4:09. Remind me to tell you about the epiphanal moment of clear thinking related to the Cheerleader with Banana series I had on the F Train this afternoon, somewhere around Smith and Ninth Streets. It all makes sense now.

It's 4:00 a.m.

It's four o'clock in the morning. Ran into Caroline the Vegan and some of her friends after some quality pre-Thanxgiving time at the PMC. Spent way too much time talking about the reality of LRRPs (long range recon patrols--pronounced Lurps) in Vietnam. Some things are best left alone.

I wish I had some Fruit Loops. With dried apricots. And milk.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Cheerleader with Banana (Fallen Angel)

I don't know exactly what's going on here, but I love the look of ecstasy on her face as she clutches her bourbon bottle.

I can't wait to see how those stripes turn out.

It's 11:26 a.m.

It's 11:26 a.m., Wednesday, November 21, 2007. I'm reading The Times' food section and thinking about my now six-months (six months, one day, ll hours, roughly) dead father.

I kind of miss the old bird. Were he alive, I can assure you that at some point between now and Friday we would have had one or more in-depth discussions about the many ways to cook onions and their respective relative merits.

Turkey would have come up, yes. But with the unspoken, mutual understanding that it exists solely as an excuse for eating roasted onions--much the way artichokes are really just vehicles for eating Duke's mayonnaise.

Someday before I die I'd like to try that whole thing where you deep fry the turkey out behind the garage.

Why is it that all I can think about now is onion rings?

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

These are times that try men's souls

These are times that try men's souls.

I was introduced recently to a stranger who, as it later turned out, happened to be a hairdresser. Is that the word? My friend said my name and the hairdresser says something to the effect of: "The painter?"

This is amusing on several levels, although I have to think that this guy, named Lamaar, needs to get out more. Anyway, one thing leads to another and Lamaar offers to cut my hair for free (a $125 value, he tells me) in exchange for me telling my friends about him. Have you seen my friends? I remember thinking. But I am in need of a haircut and don't trust the Russian women on 22nd to do anything except a buzzcut. So I suggest to Lamaar that I am down with having my hair cut, and will tell every single one of my friends who are otherwise inclined to drop a buck and a quarter on a snip to check out his work.

A friend then later tells me that I have actually arrived at celebrity-hood when "people are giving you shit for free."

Except that when I arrive at Lamaar's salon at the appointed time, the receptionist tells me he no longer works there. She also tells me she doesn't know where he went or how to reach him. This is, of course, a lie. But I forgive her immediately, for it's the kind of lie the telling of which is thrust upon us. I don't want her losing her job on behalf of me, Lamaar and my hair. So I step away to the Peter McManus cafe for some considered reflection.

These are times that try men's souls is about all I can come up with.

To which I add: No shit. You don't know the half.

Moments ago, I pulled the scissors out of my dop kit and gave myself a haircut. More of a trim, really. But I want to look nice for the opening of my show.

Friday, November 16, 2007

It's Good to Figure Things Out

It's good to figure things out. If you plug away, and time is on your side, you eventually figure everything out. Then you're like Elrond, or something, and all you can think about is not missing the last boat out of the Gray Havens.

I figured something out tonight. But before we get to that, the briefest of asides: I remember cutting out a photograph of Kate Moss from a magazine. Full page, full face, straight on, maybe from W (do you read W? great magazine). I took it to my daughter, who was then a teenager and concerned, in the overly self-critical way that teenagers are, with every facet of her appearance, and calmly explained just what, from a purely objective standpoint, a total wreck Kate Moss's face really is. One ear is higher than the other. Her nose juts off to the side. Her eyes are slightly different (Picasso made a point of rendering each eye differently--when he decided to give his subjects the full complement) in size. Blah, blah, blah.

The point is that if one of the most beautiful women in the world is, in reality, a bundle of anatomical screw-ups, then there's hope for us all. Remind me to tell you about my nose sometime.

Anyway, I remember thinking that the message was lost on her. But you can't fight the teen years. They're like the riptides that one would occasionally find oneself in if you grew up swimming in the Jersey ocean. You just ride them out, then swim laterally for a while, trying not to focus too much on your irrational fear of being eaten from below by a shark (this might be unique to me), and then swim back in. The parental hope was that, somewhere in the back of her mind, the message of self-acceptance would stick. That just because you can't be perfect doesn't mean you can't be perfectly beautiful. Likewise perfectly wonderful.

The curse of the portraitist? You spend an inappropriate amount of time analyzing people's faces. And so, just tonight, I'm pleased to announce that I have figured Meredith Grey's face out. The secret: the left side of her face (the right side if you are looking at a picture of her) is dramatically wider than her right. By about a third. I mean, it's obvious. I can't believe I missed it.

Two things jump to mind: a) maybe she has a medical condition, and b) regarding the cars that run in the NASCAR series--if you look at them along a front/back axis, it's almost impossible to find anything on the left side that is symmetrical with the right.

And there's a lesson in there. Because NASCARs (if that's the term) are astonishingly beautiful machines.

Is this helpful?


A couple of food items:

Does this ever happen to you? I'm chopping dried apricots for my raisin bran (which always makes me think of the Cambodian Highlands circa 1971--about which I've recently been informed by Homeland Security I'm not allowed to speak). Slightly after the fact, I realize that the chopping board wasn't completely cleaned from the previous night's chopped garlic, and now my raisin bran, and apricots, and the last of my milk smell like garlic. A truck backfires on 7th Street and I lunge under the kitchen table. The dog stares at me oddly.

If it weren't for what had happened half an hour earlier, I'd say the morning was off to a rough start.

Which is to say, I was sitting in my car waiting for my space to become legal, right in front of my front door, drinking pre-creamed coffee out of my thermos, reading a surprisingly good review of Beowulf in the Times when, by accident, I put my hand in my coat pocket and pulled out a white paper bag containing the half of the chocolate cookie I chose not to eat while walking home from Moim last night.

The wind is blowing the leaves around the sidewalk, it's not really that cold and I'm sitting with the door open and reflecting, while munching on my cookie, that life, at times, can be mighty good.

Mighty good, I would add, even in the face of "Big Ben..." hitting the market with a deafening silence. Bernanke, I'm thinking, is not going to sell this time around.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Cheerleader with Banana

Just when you thought this was a dead issue...

I can't believe the cheerleader is getting here in an hour and I can't find the dimmer for my main light.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

More on Mr. Brownstone

Go to here , not only for confirmation about the Mr. Brownstone concert, but also to see them excerpt me reviewing it.

One wonders how all this happens.

If you see the guy in the green shirt to the right of the picture. I was right next to him.

I Do Like going To Wall Street

Actually I hang out on Broad, but near the corner of Wall.

So I'm out there hawking my Bernanke painting. Getting a pretty good reception. A guy walks by, says: "You did the Grasso painting, right?"
Me: "Yeah."
He says: "I've got a copy of it hanging in my office."
Me: "Really?"
Him: "Yeah."
Me (as he's walking away, presumably to make millions of dollars): "Hey--thanks a lot."

But now I'm feeling like Alicia Keys in that commercial where she walks past the guy selling about fifty bootlegs of her new album and she freaks out.

That guy is stealing my stuff. Welcome to Wall Street might be one retort. But I'm not letting it bother me. To paraphrase Jay Z and his buddy DangerMouse: "I got 99 problems and that sonofabitch hanging an unauthorized copy of my painting of Richard Grasso in his office ain't one."

Hey buddy! I'm giving it to you. You're legal. Enjoy.


Big Ben, Half Baked

For you completists, here's a couple of interim pix of Big Ben:

This is the final product:

The picture could be better--the whites are flaring like nobody's business. But I like the forehead. The implication is that, for someone as smart as Bernanke's said to be, he has the whole cosmos whirling around in there. I bet that's a burden.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Concert Chronology

Readers tell me they love my blow-by-blow chronologies. One was even quoted in The New York Times, so I guess, how bad can they be? We'll see. When I'm done with this one, we'll re-poll the readership; consult Times editorial management. Based on response, decide how to proceed from there.

Somewhere between eight and ten, Saturday morning--Wake up, get out of bed, drag a comb across my head. As I eat my cereal I'm humming "Hungry Like The Wolf."
11:00--Drive to laundramat, however you spell that. Find a great space.
11:07--Realize while loading my load that I've forgotten my sheets. This angers me, as I had taken them off the bed and tucked them into a pillow case but neglected to bring them with.
11:25--While the first load is in, drive back, get sheets, drive back, find an even better spot (which, if you had seen the first one you would realize how extraordinary this is).
11:32--Still waiting for a small machine--which I wouldn't have been doing had I remembered the goddam sheets in the first place. A portion of my anger is self-directed.
11:35--Some officious little man with a big stomach steals the machine I have my eye on. The previously self-directed anger is now focused tightly on this sonofabitch. I toy with kicking his ass. But the place is packed and I don't want to injure innocent bystanders. A smaller part of my mind toys with actually killing him. This, I realize, is not healthy thinking and I just let it go.
Let's say 12:45--The laundry is done--folded and bagged. I stash it in the car and then, since I'm literally thisclose to the R train, jump on board, jump off at Canal Street, jump into Pearl Paint and buy about four yards of canvas and a set of 4x5 stretchers. This costs, for the record, ONE HUNDRED DOLLARS. This angers me. I'm not an angry person, but today I seem to be getting angry quite a bit.
Fast forward to five pm--Washed, dried and dressed, I, reeking of Old Spice deodorant AND cologne, arrive at the bar Eric and I usually meet at prior to doing our typical Mercury Lounge/Bowery Ballroom/etc. outings. It is exactly equidistant between where I get off the F train (Broadway/Lafayette) and Eric gets off the 6 (Bleeker Street). I would describe the temperature as not fifty, but not forty either. I'm wearing so much Old Spice that when I walk into the bar people lift their heads to see what the problem is.
5:01--The consumption of beer ensues.
7:00--We go to the NoHo Star, sit at the bar, order wings, some kind of dumplings, and a third thing which, despite my inability to remember what it was, was really tasty. Worried about peaking early, we switch to red wine. In retrospect, this may have been what brought Eric down.
8:00--We arrive at the Bowery Ballroom and take a seat at the downstairs bar.
8:03--Eric goes to the bathroom. I engage in conversation with a woman named Emily. She is so young that it must be a toss-up as to whether her entire lifespan would be more conveniently measured in years or minutes. I can't believe that Management has allowed Emily to even come into the place. But--AND THIS IS IMPORTANT--Emily turns to me at one point and tells me that the Guns 'n' Roses cover band we are here to see is ACTUALLY BETTER THAN THE REAL GUNS 'N' ROSES.
Note: Were this a book, the previous sentence would be called forshadowing, however you spell that.
9:45--Eric gets back from the bathroom. Emily is now 102 minutes older.
That's just a stupid bathroom joke. Forget it. Let's say it's 8:15.
8:15--We find out that the feature act doesn't start until 11:30. Eleven-thirty! Had I not been holding onto the side of the bar, I would have fallen over. I am way too old to hang out at the Bowery Ballroom bar for another three and a half hours. I mean, if the Rolling Stones were waiting at the end of the line, ok. I'm in. But a Guns 'n' Roses cover band? I mean, really! It wasn't even my idea. And even though the act that precedes them is billed as a BeeGees heavy metal cover band (a notion that makes me at least say to myself ok, let's see what that's like), it seems like a mighty long grind.
8:20--We head upstairs to get seats at the balcony bar. Eric is pulling my arm. Did I tell you Emily is a dead ringer for Sarah Jessica Parker? "Pull yourself together, man," I remember thinking.
8:24--At the upstairs bar. Everything is fine, except they won't put salt on the rims of our marguaritas. So I guess you could say everything is NOT fine.
Let's say 10:45--Eric tells me he's going home. This strikes me as an extraordinary betrayal. Et tu Brutus. That kind of thing. Like Riggins sleeping with Street's girlfriend while he's still in physical therapy. That kind of thing. In the background I can hear the Ramones cover band playing "I want to be sedated." Join the fucking club, I remember thinking.
10:46--I realize that, despite Eric's pending departure, I am totally feeling my oats. I ascertain that he is "okay." I then decide to stay.
11:20--The BeeGees, so to speak, come on. They are about the worst thing I've ever heard. The only thing that remotely qualifies them for the job is that one of the guys can sing high. As for the rest...really I'm just speechless at how bad they were. We're right in the middle of "cover band night" and I'm thinking they're terrible, even within that context. They are like a Sha-Na-Na/Village People fusion. Only more shtick. Read that last sentence again. Imagine, as John Lennon might have said. Lennon was more his own man than I'll ever be. Even if the Rolling Stones had been next, he would have walked out of the place. I thought my eyeballs were going to bleed. I thought about leaving too. I mean, it was terrible. And despite what Emily had said, there was a voice in my head saying "Get the hell out of here. You don't give a shit about Guns 'n'Roses, so who even cares if this band is better?"
11:21--This internal dialogue is taking so long I've moved forward one minute in time. And I'm staying. The reason? I had also heard that somebody from the GnR band belonged to a band called Clap Your Hands Say Yeah and I have, for reasons way too complicated to explain here, a passing interest in that band. So I stay.
11:45--The BeeGees mercifully gone, I get a marguarita for the road, so to speak, and wend my way downstairs. The place is full, but not packed. And during the downtime between the two bands, there's enough space to slide up to what one might call the second row, if they had arranged chairs in rows. If they even had chairs.
Let's call it Midnight--Mr. Brownstone arrives. Mr. Brownstone is the name of the band. It's also the name of a GnR song. It's also a reference to heroin. It's all making sense to me now, as I wrap that piece of rubber around my arm and start slapping the inside of my elbow with my two fingers, trying to find a vein.
12:01--Can't find a fucking vein. Decide not to do any heroin. Do you know what they call a cup of coffee and a marguarita? A beatnik speedball. Somebody tell Belushi.
12:02--Mr. Brownstone launches into its set with a song that I, unlike literally everybody else in the place, had never heard even once in my life. Far be it from me to be a wet blanket, however, so I start bobbing up and down like everybody else.
12:04--I am standing close enough to the lead singer so that when the first half-filled cup of beer thrown from the audience hits his shoulder, we both get wet. Hmmm, I remember thinking.
12:15--The place is starting to go bananas. I look down and to my left where there, at first, appears to be an empty space in the crowd. It turns out, it's a guy in a wheelchair. He's going bananas too, only he's not standing up. Were it me in a wheelchair, I would have honestly been scared to death.
12:30--We've moved past bananas. It's bigger than bananas. The place is now plantains. Which, really, are just massive bananas. Just massive! I find myself screaming words to songs I didn't know I had in me. I wonder for a moment if this is what speaking in tongues is like.
12:45--It's possible that drool is coming out of the side of my mouth, but I can't tell. The lead singer has just taken a swig of Jack Daniels and then spit it back out. Right on me. Thank God I'm wearing my Manhattan College t-shirt.
12:50--Somebody--maybe a roady--leaps into the crowd from the stage. I'm worried he's going to kill my boy Street, so I help out as well as I can. And then it hits me:
I am Tim Riggins!
Does any of this make sense to you? Do you know who Street is? Former star QB of the Dillon Panthers football team. Number 6? Throws an interception at the beginning of last season, breaks his neck tackling the guy, paralyzed from the solar plexus down? Stuck in a wheelchair. Like the guy next to me. Tim Riggins? Star fullback on the same team. Number 33? Street's best friend ('til he starts banging his girlfriend Lyla. I'm beggin' darlin' please...)? 6'4''--brooding, muscle-bound loner, but one of the most beautiful men you will ever see. Hey, men can be beautiful. Look at me.
If this guy in the wheelchair is #6, I think to myself, then I must be Tim Riggins.
Wow. I've spent a long time trying to figure out what it all means, and now that I've got it, what do I do from here? I'll tell you this--the next time the roady came flying off the stage, I gave him enough of a shove that tomorrow he'll be shitting his adam's apple. Nobody jumps on my boy Six.
12:53--The first bra comes flying over my head. It lands on the neck of the rhythm guitarist's Telecaster. Everybody appears to be playing Fenders, for you completists. Plus more beer. I like how the band members lean over the audience and flip us the bird. We, in a group, flip it back and scream "Fuck You" at the top of our lungs. So much beer is being transferred back and forth (the band likes to drink some and spit the rest), that the guitars are dripping wet.
Let's say Twenty of Two--Who knows where the time goes? I think I'm confused about what happened when. Suffice to say that at some point they slide into the kind of jammy, sloppy rendition of Knocking on Heaven's Door that makes you think two things: first--who knew Guns 'n' Roses wrote Knocking on Heaven's Door? and two--they must be wrapping up.
2:05--The bass player falls off the stage backwards. Me and this other guy catch him and push him back up. I try to steal his wallet, but he's not carrying one.
2:10--Slash falls off the stage a little ways from me so all I can do is flip him the bird and shout "Fuck you."
2:15--Bras and whiskey and beer and plastic beer cups fill the air. The band is slamming through another song (I must say, they were really good). I turn around and stare back at the crowd for about the hundredth time. I realize that nobody in this room is even close to my age. Is that odd? What, exactly, does that say about me? I wish I could figure out a Young Frankenstein brain scene joke, but I can't.
2:30--I can't type any more. Besides, the concert is over. I get in a cab. The cabbie asks where to? Before I can stop myself, I throw the rest of my beer at him and scream fuck you. Then I realize that you can't just act like this in public. I have to pretend to be normal now. My name is Abbie Normal. I go home. The rest is history.
2:45--Actually, the rest is not history. I have the cabbie stop at the deli at the corner of 7th and 7th. I order a tuna salad on rye with lettuce and tomato. Now, at first glance this would be the behavior of somebody who is consuming drugs. Me? I lead a relatively drug free existence. I was just so freaking hungry. Besides, had I been stoned, I would have bought one of those pint containers of chocolate-chip cookie-dough. If that's how the hyphens shake on on that one.
2:50--I go home. The rest is history.

We're Totally Screwed

Herewith--the function of a massive spasm of productivity:

"Big Ben (We're Totally Screwed) I".

I love his forehead.

I'm going to look at him again tomorrow, at which time, unless matters of grave import summon me elsewhere, I will trot my ass down to Wall Street and prop Big Ben up against a wall.

Let the spectacle begin.

On the eBay auction site I'm thinking about starting at $3,500. I am also considering adding a "Buy Now" feature with what I believe is an engaging twist: Buy Now for $8,000, get a free Alan Greenspan companion painting titled "Big Alan (Who Me?) I".

Who could resist that?

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Big Ben

I decided the "Last Will..." business was too intense. So I'm painting a portrait of Ben Bernanke, Chairman of the Fed.

I'm calling it "Big Ben (We're Totally Screwed) I"

My initial title was "Big Ben (We're Totally Screwed) One (Lousy Quarter Point?)" but decided it might be too complicated.

Then again, I love complicated titles.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

It's 2:51

It's almost three and I have just arrived home. I stink of Jack Daniels, yet have imbibed none of it.

The best three concerts I've seen this year are, in ascending order, Bruce Springsteen, Brandi Carilile and tonight's appearance at the Bowery Ballroom of a Guns 'n' Roses cover band called, maybe, Mr. Brownstone.

Let me repeat: a Guns 'n' Roses cover band.

For the record, I don't really give a shit about Guns 'n' Roses. But it might have been the most fun I've ever had at a concert. Ever. The bass player fell off the stage, more or less on top of me, twice. The lead guitarist once. The guy wearing the kilt took a long swig of Jack Daniels and then spit it right on me. Really. A long, wet stream. I had to clean my glasses. Women were throwing bras on stage. And at least a hundred plastic glasses of beer were tossed up as well. Everyone was sopping wet.

They started at about midnight and ended at about 2:30 am. It was, simply, unbelievable. More later. Right now I have to decide how committed I am to the notion of putting the just laundered sheets back on my bed or just collapsing.

Friday, November 09, 2007

And just while we're beating this to death...volume two

Here, as a public service, is the full expanse of my reinterpretations of Chuck Close's self-portraits: They are, in order, "Close, But Not Quite" and "Close, But No Cigar."

Both, by the way, are five by six.

"Close, But Not Quite" was painted sometime in the 2002-2003 range (I could find out exactly when if you needed to know) and was one of those painting moments when I said to myself something like: "Holy shit, this might actually work!"

I love its profound formality.

Manomanoman... you look at the differences between these two paintings and it just speaks volumes about the evolution/devolution*** of my painting. Check out the similarity of the nostrils.


***The use of the slash here is meant to suggest the existence of both processes at the same time, in the same place--exact opposites, marching in lockstep. Hitler and Gandhi. Frasier and Ali. A pretty scary thought, until one reflects on Picasso's famous "I've spent my whole life learning how to paint like a child" line--assuming he even said such a thing--and then it seems kind of soothing in a complicated sort of way. Did he even speak English?

And just while we're beating this to death...

Here's a picture of Old Bobby Lee.

It now physically graces the walls of an apartment that used to belong to Naomi Campbell. It's actually a lovely painting. Classic obscured box image. Engaging size differential with the eyes. Mythic subject matter. I mean, were this painting a person, you'd have a hard time deciding what to get it for Christmas. It's really got everything.

But this is what it used to look like before I added one last layer.

And I am here to tell you I think I like the earlier version better than the final one. Look at that ear. And the forehead. And I like it with the chalked grid lines still visible against the black. Blah...blah...blah. The list goes on. Thank God I didn't try to fix the lapel.

And so it goes with my boy Chuck Close. I mean, you look at the smears of paint on the left side of the face, above the glasses on the right side... I'm here to tell you that I could spend a lot of time cleaning that stuff up, integrating the smears, solving what are both obvious problems and, as things turn out, not problems at all. Blah...blah...blah. The list goes on.

Anyway, I'm done. I'm not solving those problems because, really, problems are in the eyes of the beholder. Didn't I just write a couple of posts ago that it might be good for me to just let 'em rip. Be loose. Throw the fucking paint, baby.

I'm loving it just the way it is.

FYI--For you completists (and honestly, I appreciate your motives but really, completism is a dead-end street. You're just asking for trouble.), here's what we looked like at some point this morning.

Next up...

Next up, I'm thinking, is a self-portrait titled: "Last Will and Testament."

It's funny how Chuck's nose came out with that Francis Bacon thing because I've been thinking about trying to channel (within the parameters of my general style) my inner Francis Bacon in a self-portrait.

And, just to upset everybody, I anticipate the image being slightly smaller than usual. This is to accommodate a pretty generous amount of copy circling the image, possibly in a spiral of words that may run two or three lines deep, which will read something like:
Last will and testament: The subjects of the paintings will receive those paintings. The daughters of the painter will equally split the remainder of the estate. The ex-wife of the painter will receive nothing because I mean, really. There will be no ceremony; just burn the painter up; toss him off the dock. Hey Johnny--don't eat all the beets!
All copy is approximate at this point.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Don't everybody freak out. I haven't the slightest intention of dying anytime soon. But a responsible guy should have a will.

This would be that--one more example of how totally I have my shit together.

I'm giving up

Actually that's not exactly right. I'm not giving up--I'm finished. At least I feel like I'm finished. We stand, with "Close, But No Cigar" exactly here:

I knew I was done when I picked up the same tube of cadmium red medium that I used to transform myself into Curt Schilling for Hallowe'en and reinterpreted my hunter green dots as red ones.

They really make the whole thing work--one man's opinion. Additionally pleasing parts include the Frankie Bacon slightly porcine nose, the fact that the ears aren't even close (honk!) to being even, and the hair in general.

But the red dots are really too much fun.

I'm not giving up

I am not, I can assure you, giving up.

I refer, more specifically, to the disaster that is "Close, But No Cigar." I spent some time staring at it yesterday and am of the opinion that we (we meaning me and my collection of sticks and brushes) can wrest victory from the jaws of defeat.

And it actually does look better in person than the picture above would suggest. What doesn't come through to you, dear reader, is the visual significance (strength? importance?) of the underlay of gray that represents the first grid. I'm not a big pop art guy (other than my complicated yes/no/yes/no relationship with the work of Andy Warhol) but the gray layer, even now as it lies beneath the black, has almost a Rosenquisty/Lichtensteiny comic-book-image-silk-screened-onto-canvas, Sergeant-Rock-with-cigarette-clenched-in-his-teeth Blam!!! kind of a look.

Which is not without its charms.

That said, and charms aside, I may have to step away from my grid over grid concept (about which I was almost pathetically excited and now have had my hopes completely dashed) and just start flinging the paint.

In truth, this may be a good idea. I'm not sure how spiritually healthy it is to be painting the way I do in one-foot squares. I'm feeling a bit, these days, like my aura has been diminished. I'm reminded of "Born Free," that movie about the lions that I saw when I was a kid. Don't remember much, but I think it was about rescuing lion cubs, rehabilitating them, and then training them to live effectively in the wild again. I remember the woman saying something like: "They were born free. They should live free."

Which I know has something to do with throwing the paint.

And furthermore...

There is one more thing to be said about the painting above. If I weren't attempting to do a particular thing--that being the reinterpretation of a famous Chuck Close image with an emphasis on a gridded style--one could argue that this is quite an interesting technique in and of itself. One wonders what one or two--I think two would be better--additional gridded layers might yield. The third would be sepia. The fourth, likely, black. Alternating between the primary grid (that being the original thirty squares that appear when you first draw the lines--or, in this case, indicate with dots--and the gray paint I laid down) and the secondary grid (that being the interior grid created by using the dots as the centers of the squares--rather than as the corners--and the black paint), one could strengthen both the original one-foot grid, the second one-foot grid, and the resultant emergence of a grid comprised of six-inch squares created by, essentially, shifting the line of the interior grid six inches horizontally and six inches vertically from those of the primary grid.
This is getting pretty confusing.
Yeah. I see what you mean. The best way to think about it is this: There are two grids on the face of the painting. The first one--the primary grid--consists of 30 one-foot squares whose corners fall on the little green dots. The second one--the interior grid--consists of 20 squares whose centers fall on the dots.
Why do you call the second grid the "interior" one?
Because when I started centering the cardboard template I use to isolate the square of canvas I'm trying to paint on the dots, I realized that the second layer of paint--black in this case--wasn't going to extend all the way to the edge of the canvas. If the technique had panned out the way I had hoped it would, you would see the interior grid's edge falling about six inches in from the actual edge of the painting. Like a grid within a grid. See?
Yeah. It's like Hamlet.
And, with a nod to Warhol, one could both salute and subvert the traditional four-color printing process (cyan, magenta, yellow, and black). Although I am so not going down that CMYK color road. Too confusing.

Anyway, when all is said and done, the painting is not without its charms. Which is a far cry from where my head was two days ago.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Nothing to report

Nothing to report.

Other than that it's my boy Lawrence's 30th birthday. You may recognize him better as Spikus Aurelius.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

I'm attracted to Anna Wintour

And finally, the briefest of fashion notes. Just to show that we're well-rounded.

Did you watch The Hills this week? Honestly, you could cut the tension with a knife as LC and Whitney (mostly Whitney, since her ass was on the line professionally) set up a Teen Vogue-sponsored Marc Jacobs fashion show in LA. More specifically, it was Marc by Marc Jacobs.

Me? Oddly enough, the last fashion show I attended was Marc by Marc Jacobs. I think it was at the Armory on maybe 27th and Lex. I remember going in with high expectations and coming out underwhelmed. Maybe I'm not in the demo. Anyway, I couldn't have been less impressed (although there was one dress with geometric, v-shaped gray and white stripes that reminded me of a Frank Stella painting that was really, I am here to tell you, something).

There was a moment, however, that remains in my mind. An unseized opportunity, if you will. The moment occurred when Anna Wintour arrived and they had to temporarily sit her on the bleachers a couple of rows down from me while they arranged her final resting place. And it really was the oddest thing--like she was radioactive or something. Nobody came near her. It really was the oddest thing.

And I, gregarious soul that I am, thought for a moment about hopping down three levels and introducing myself. I mean, hey--I'm famous too. But then I realized that this would be about as disgruntling to my host as having his arm ripped off by Beowulf was to Grendel, and so decided to remain seated. Still, the mind reels. I find her extremely attractive in a slightly-too-thin kind of way. Too thin the way some women cross their legs at the knees and then proceed to tuck the crossed foot behind her other ankle. Which, to my mind, is extremely unattractive unless you work in the circus.

So I was on the subway the other day. I guess it was raining, or at least a little damp. And a young woman sitting across from me was wearing a moderately short, kind of tweedy wool, maybe dark green skirt, black leggings and black Wellies, and really, I thought it was about the most attractive look imaginable.

Whitney is my favorite. If you're counting. She's like Dorothy in Oz, except that instead of being surrounded by Munchkins and Quadlings, she surrounded by bitches.

Do you watch The Hills? Really, it's almost the best thing ever--exceeded perhaps only by Gossip Girl. And some other shows.

A Detail...

Here's everything you need to know about this painting, in close-up:

It's interesting, I suppose. For location, you should know that the dot at the center of the square that I am painting is the second one from the bottom on the left side.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

My Grandfather's Work is Do-Do

Does one hyphenate do-do?

Either way, it's one thing to be disavowing the work of a now-dead relative (even if it turns out to be the real shit). It's entirely another to be of that opinion that one's own work is do-do. Merde. Crap. An embarrassment. An utter failure.

Is it my imagination, or does my current opus, "Close, But No Cigar", my reinterpretation of Chuck Close's famous self-image, resemble more closely one John Joseph Nickolson? Better known as Jack.

This is where we stand:

Oy. I'd show you more, but really, I can't stand the humiliation.

My work is do-do.

A ray of hope appears...

I will say this: I do like the little green dots. Can you see them? Here--if you envision the canvas being divided into a grid of one foot squares, the points of intersection of the lines that would create such a grid are now marked by little dots of, I think, hunter green, straight from the tube.

This is engaging on a number of levels. First, they come straight from the tube, so each one has a little coney-head, kind of like a very flat Hershey's Kiss. Second, the painting, other than the green dots, is either black or gray. The actual painting (meaning the one Close did, of which this is a reinterpretation) is monochromatic, but sepia-toned (if that's not contradictory). A light brown, if you will.

And what, dear reader, is brown if not a really dark green? It sure as hell isn't blue.

So it's those little dots that are going to keep me with this painting for now. Because otherwise I'd burn the thing.

The briefest note on personal dignity:

We all have our pride.

I really like the community of the Brooklyn Artists Gym. I like looking at other people's stuff, talking to them about it, etc. It makes having to put your shit away at the end of the night endurable.

When I don't like it is when the painting is going badly. The embarrassed silence--or at least what I imagine to be embarrassed silence--is deafening.

I can hear them thinking: "He showed some promise in his early career, but this Chuck Close thing really makes my eyes bleed."

We all have our pride. This is difficult. Pray for me.
You're talking to a bunch of heathens. You know that, right?
Yes I do.
So do you think they are really going to pray for you?
No. But Saint Peter once said, roughly: "Preach the Gospel always. Sometimes speak."
He said that?
It was either him or Vince Lombardi.
Wow. I bet you end up being a saint.
It wouldn't surprise me.

It's 10:45 pm...

It's 10:45 pm, Monday night.

Actually no. It's that interval of time so brief as to be unmeasurable by modern technology that falls between 10:45 and quarter of eleven. I'm here to tell you, you could fit more angels on the head of a pin. Whatever that has to do with anything.

Anyway, so here I am, in that briefest of timespans, having one of those moments of clarity that you sometimes have while your car, for example, is hurtling off the side of a cliff or you realize you've stopped your bike in time to save the life of a small child but you have neglected to pull your feet out of the pedal clips and you, in a moment of clarity, mid-plummet, say to yourself, "Man, this is going to hurt."

Anyway, so I'm having one of those moments of clarity. No reason, really. But still, all I can think about is Captain Ahab--the guy from Moby Dick. My mind is racing with questions. Did, for example, he, once strapped to the white whale, recognize that the curve of the whale's flank exactly matched the curvature of the Earth? Did he, once strapped to the whale, reflect on what he took to be its perfect whiteness, the color of a New England meadow in the middle of a cold winter, when, in fact, the whale, like all of us, was not perfectly white but had, rather, it's own differentiating characteristics--scars from battle, the lines and scrapes that come from life in the briney deep? Was he wise enough to realize that it was, in fact, those very myriad scars and markings that made the whale perfect? Or that, if we could wax slightly more philosophic, were the whale truly perfect, it could not, in fact, exist on Earth but only, rather, in Heaven and that, like potters in the Ming Period, its imperfections would be the vehicle for its suitability in this imperfect world? Did he ponder the question of perfection in a man's eye versus perfection in God's eye (which would, as I am sure you can guess, be limited to Himself, His Son, and the Holy Spirit)? Did he gaze on what he took to be this perfect whiteness and reflect that he, a man with only one leg, was, perhaps, unworthy? The notion of narrative parallelism makes one also wonder if, perhaps, it was the very absence of his leg that, in fact, made him worthy of the whale. Or did he, once strapped to the whale, instead, somewhat disintuitively, think to himself, "Manomanoman, this whale is off the charts. I am so getting lucky"?
What are you? Like paid by the comma? Would it kill you to throw down one simple declarative sentence?
Was the whale warmer than he thought? Softer? Harder? Both at the same time? Yowza. Did he, when he held his harpoon aloft...
Wait. Wait a minute.
The harpoon's a metaphor, right?
Everything's a metaphor in Moby Dick. That's half the fun.
Manoman, you write a complicate blog
You don't know the half.
Did he, when he held his harpoon aloft, think of Bernini's famous sculpture, titled "The Ecstasy of St. Teresa", housed in the Chapel of Santa Maria della Vittoria in Rome?
Why would he think of that?
Well, it's widely considered one of the masterpieces of the High Roman Baroque era.
Why on Earth would a one-legged New England ship captain who was strapped to the back of the whale he's been hunting for years think of some stupid sculpture in Rome?
Well... it's a metaphor.
Everything in Moby Dick is a metaphor. What's what makes it fun.
Did he think, once strapped to the white whale, that the years of the hunt were worth it? That he, like that famous Rangers fan with the sign that read "Now I can die in peace," felt that he had, in fact, come home?
Well...did he?
The short answer is yes.
Do you worry about...
About what?
About people saying this is one of the weirder than normal posts?
Nah. That shit doesn't bother me.
Nah. I pay some sixteen year old to do this. It's really all his thing.
He must be hooked into some outstanding weed.
He does have his moments, I'll say that. But what's with all that pig lard and knives business?

Meaghan Raymond

My daughter Meaghan is 22 today;
The finest of daughters in every way.

And since every year I seem 2 love her more,
I can't wait until she's 44.

Monday, November 05, 2007

B-Dubya...Down for the Count

My boy Beowulf just died. I'm thisclose to tears. Thisclose.
Jesus, Mary and Joseph. You've got to man up, Raymond. I mean, who cries at Beowulf? He lead a violent life; died a glorious death. They launched his funeral pyre on a high cliff above the ocean. Ten days later, they covered the thing with earth, burying within a bunch of stuff the likes of which you just don't see in Park Slope. For years to come his people will refer to the man-made hill as Beowulf's Barrow. How bad can that be? I mean, given the context and all.
I also always cry at the end of "Meet Joe Black."
Well really, who doesn't?
I hear you.
Would you feel better if I called you Seamus?
A little, I guess.


Oh. Here it is.

How do you like the high-perspective (if that's the right word) shot? It would look better if the damned "rotate" edit would take. Don't quite know why we aren't seeing it upright.

Anyway, if you tilt your head or rotate your monitor, it makes the painting look like Mt. Everest, or something.

Did you know that the Sherpa word for Mt. Everest is Sagarmatha?

For those of you who...

For those of you who think I just sit around all day frying eggs, let this be a lesson to you. The spectacle, I am here to tell you, has begun. Behold the machinations that will someday yield "Close, But No Cigar":

This, of course, is nothing more than the beginning of things. If you could peer around the corner on the back left of the picture, you would see people eating at the lunch table.

No lunch for Geoffrey. Too busy.

This is where things ended, at least for today. You can see that 21 out of a total of 30 squares have at least some kind of stuff on them. Tomorrow, we will fill in the remaining 9 before moving our now illegal car.

Actually, that's not true. I don't seem to have the photo, but when I left tonight, there were only four squares left to do. Anyway, the business of getting the first phase finished before moving the now illegal car still applies.

You can see the maquette from which I'm working sitting on the lower left corner of the painting itself.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Truth in Blogging

I'm getting shit from the Federal Trade Commission again. They claim that U.S. Military records show no evidence of my service in Vietnam. On the most basic, functional level this is not surprising.

That said, I would pose the following: Weren't we all in Vietnam, we Children of Woodstock, in one way or another? The answer seems obvious enough to me. And the fact that my memories of the event include pig lard, knotted jungle and big, sharp knives seems no less surprising than many surprising things in my life that actually happened.

Kimi Raikkonen winning the Drivers Championship, for example. I almost burst into tears.

Remind me to tell you about drinking mojitos on the veranda of the Continental Hotel in Saigon with Graham Greene.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

It's 1:25 pm...

It's almost one-thirty and I'm just pulling myself together.

Actually that's not quite right. I mean, I've read the paper, abluted, gotten dressed, chopped up some apricots for my cereal, etc., But I am a bit late getting out the door and down the hill to the studio.

Much of last night was spent in a bar called the Lucky 13 Saloon. It was nice to see a jukebox that wasn't connected to the internet. Bands featured include:

A Perfect Circle
Alice in Chains
Black Flag
Bad Brains
Babes in Toyland
The Clash
The Cramps
The Cure
The Damned
Dead Kennedy's
Dropkick Murphy's
Fear Factory
Guns N Roses
Nina Hagen
Iron Maiden
Jane's Addiction
Jesus and Mary Chain
Joy Division
Judas Priest
Killing Joke
Lamb of God

Life of Agony
The Misfits
Minor Threat
Motley Crue
Nine Inch Nails
The Pixies
Reverend Horton Heat
The Sex Pistols
Sheer Terror
Sick of it All
Skinny Puppy
Social Distortion
Sonic Youth
System of a Down
Suicidal Tendencies
Type O Negative

Honestly, how many of these bad boys, I would ask you, do you own at home? I must admit to some passing interest in the Dropkick Murphy's, but my friend wouldn't play even one of them. One, in retrospect, wouldn't have killed her.
Do you like any of those bands?
I do now. I like all of them.
Anyway, I will say this. I was literally the only man in the place (and it was packed) who wasn't wearing a black t-shirt with something like Black Sabbath or Motorhead written across the front. I use the word "literally" here in the most literal sense. Everybody, except me [white polo shirt--they must have thought I was Christ] was wearing a black t-shirt. Literally everybody. Not a single exception.

Really--everybody. Literally.

It's the kind of bar where you pull up on your Harley, step in, order a can of Pabst ($1.00 before 9 pm), and are having a pretty good time until somebody realizes that the Harley you're riding is a V-Rod, not a classic hog. Then a bunch of guys grab you by the scruff of the neck, take you outside and kick your ass. And while they're beating you into a near-death condition you can't help but savor the irony of the fact that the guy doing all the punching is wearing a Joy Division t-shirt. Black, of course.

Nonetheless, really, I can't urge you enough to drop everything and get down there, ASAP. I had the best time you could imagine.

Me, right now? I'm playing "Girls, Girls, Girls" (Motley Crue) at full volume, trying to get fired up for the studio.


I was cutting some dried apricots to put on top of my raisin bran this morning when I started thinking about my friend Johnny who, when we were in Vietnam together, used to cut the ears off the people he killed and arrange them on a necklace.

One night, in a bar in Saigon, when confronted by someone calling his necklace and the machinations that made it possible an act of barbarism, Johnny posed the question: Which is the more barbaric--cutting the ears off already-dead people or sending guys like Johnny and me to a place where necklaces like Johnny's were one in a series of more or less inevitable horrific outcomes?

Then he killed the guy and ate his liver with some fava beans and a robust Barolo.

Johnny was an assassin's assassin. He taught me a lot. For example, if you're deep in the jungle--roughing it, as they say--it probably goes without saying that you're not carrying a wine decanter. And let me tell you, if you don't let those Barolos breath for a while they are a little harsh coming over the tongue. Johnny's tip? Open the thing and pour out one glass. Reserve the glass while putting your thumb over the top of the bottle. Shake vigorously. I mean, shake it like nobody's business. Pour the initial glass back in, swirl to mix, then pour to serve.

Mmm, smooth.

Friday, November 02, 2007

B-Dubya...First Impressions, Fifth Time Around

So I pick up the book. Read the first paragraph. It goes like this:
Hwaet we Gar-Dena in gear-dagum
beod-cyninga prym gefrunon,
ju oa aepelingas ellen fremedon
At which point I go Whoa. I would have bet my life that-and I'm giving it to you from memory--the first lines of Beowulf were:
It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in need of a wife.
Also, who the hell is Ellen Fremedon? I might have dated her in high school. And where is Antonio Banderas? I see no mention.

So. I'm set back a pace, what with the Old English staring me in the face. Then I look to my right and see that, on the facing page, appears Mr. Haney's translation. Leafing ahead, I see this is a pattern that persists throughout. And the first stanza goes like:
So. The Spear-Danes in days gone by
and the kings who ruled them had courage and greatness.
We have heard of those princes' heroic campaigns.

Man, I love that as a starter.

My father once told me that if he got bored with a book he only read the pages on the right hand side, and that sped him through the boring stuff until he got back to a place where he was interested in the goings on.

Call me Ismael, but do I have a book for you, Daddy.

And Moby Dick too.

I think there's also a lot of "Moby Dick" in The Year of...
That whole strapping yourself to the White Whale business ?
Exactly. 'Cause if this is Moby Dick, I can assure you I ain't Ismael.
Nobody supposed you were.
Just typing the words "embedding Angelina Jolie" makes me want to rip somebody's arm off and bludgeon them to death with it.
That's the spirit! Now we're back on track. B-Dubya 24/7. Let 'er rip, baby. Nothing else from here. Get used to it.

Were I You, I'd Turn My Computer Off Now

Because there's gonna be a lot of Beowulfing for the next several days, and it might not be your cup of tea.

Plus, this gives me an opportunity to screw around with embedding Angelina Jolie (just typing the words "embedding Angelina Jolie" makes me wish I could still dunk the ball with two hands) in The Year of Magical Painting.

Which is as much an Icelandic Saga as Beowulf. It's like a cross between Beowulf and 100 Years of Solitude. Wow.

One Thing I Dont Understand

Actually, there are a number of things I don't understand, including how a radio works. But what does that have to do with Beowulf?

Anyway, I don't understand people who don't hang onto their books like their life depended on it.

Case in point, motivated by the type of images you see above, plus an interest in the progress Robert Zemeckis has made in motion capture technology, I am looking forward with a good bit of zeal to the upcoming Beowulf movie.
You've read the book?
Of course I've read the book. Several times. Prolly four. Most recently when one of my favorite poets, Seamus Heaney (just typing the word "Seamus" makes me want to have another kid, just so I can name him Seamus Raymond), published a new verse translation.

Which, I am here to tell you, is a stunner.

So the plan is to re-read the book prior to seeing the movie. Which brings me back to the larger book issue. At some point last night I said to myself: Let's see if I can put my fingers on Beowulf. Which is, for someone speaking to himself, an odd mix of the plural and singular.
I'm still trying to figure it out how to diagram that sentence.
Ditto. But the point, I am here to tell you, is that in less than a minute I was pulling Beowulf off the shelf and onto the comfort of my sofa. Which I know would have made my father happy. Let the reading begin.

Seamus Raymond. Now that's a name.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

The Bowl and the Sock

This sounds like that annoying movie set in Park Slope that had something to do with a squid.

The bowl will be returned to its rightful owner.

The sock? Hall of Fame.

{Personal note: the bloody sock/Curt Schilling thing was a massive hit at the Peter McManus Cafe hallowe'en party}