Thursday, April 30, 2009

Hold the presses!

It's Vikram, not Vicram. Which I guess, in retrospect, I knew, but the knowing of which didn't keep me from spelling the guy's name wrong in about ten earlier posts. Wow--the mind is a terrible thing to waste.

Good news: I'm beefing up the fact-checking department (I can probably pick up some people on the cheap from Portfolio) here at TYOMP.

And this from Spain

Odd how we were just talking about Helicopter Ben and here comes something from a Spanish blog about art (I think). I used the Google Translator to its usual excellent effect. The thing works great in every way except for generating a comprehensible translation. I take my hat off.

Still ...


Publicado por: misterd | 30/04/2009 Posted by: misterd | 30/04/2009 | |

Leaving the building of the New York Stock Exchange, one can find a character, Geoffrey Raymond, who invited him to give his testimony in a box. A note, a message. The painting is a portrait of any person related to the current market situation: the crisis. The technique used is inspired by (or stolen from) Jackson Pollock, with a radical difference: the figuration, and Raymond is something called your job Financial Expressionism. The striking look of the matter is that people's participation and see this as a way to create an artistic work is also a historical document.

You can also see the news in the New York Times.


The case, if I may say, is that, outside of the resources used by this artist have already been used by others to get support, where people sign and write messages (not too lenient, in fact) to re - , usually barons managed to finance their backs, say, non-transparent. The media has succeeded Raymond as worthwhile as a complaint, the transports and interactivity in order to work, which gives it its true value. I take my hat off.

I think it's a positive review.

Helicopter Ben, Volume 2

This is the first painting I ever did of Bernanke:

Positively Leninesque. And the forehead! OMG! This, I think,

Helicopter Ben

I've been commissioned to paint an annotated Bernanke titled "Helicopter Ben" (which makes me smile on a number of levels) so I've been looking at images of Big Ben. This one seems like a (possible) winner:

I mean, the audacity of the thing! The work I could do on that forehead! OMG! Enough with the exclamation points!

Wikipedia is a two edged sword, but for those not completely in the loop, it offers the following explanation of why they call him Helicopter Ben:
In 2002, when the word "deflation" began appearing in the business news, Bernanke gave a speech about deflation. In that speech, he mentioned that the government in a fiat money system owns the physical means of creating money. Control of the means of production for money implies that the government can always avoid deflation by simply issuing more money. (He referred to a statement made by Milton Friedman about using a "helicopter drop" of money into the economy to fight deflation.) Bernanke's critics have since referred to him as "Helicopter Ben"
So now you know. Perhaps he's looking out the door of the helicopter. Maybe he's praying. His middle name, by the way, is Shalom.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Dealbreaker weighs in...

As you may have seen, Dealbreaker ran a nice piece about my as-yet-unannotated Pandit painting. This would be it:

Say It To His (Jolly, Elfin') Face...

Picture 1219.png

Does anyone out there have anything they'd like to say to Vikram Pandit's face but have found it difficult to get past security at 399 Park? Perhaps you're a shareholder, upset about the stock price, or the Treasury Secretary, just feeling the need to remind the Citi CEO that you could've had his job and, and this is not a threat just a fact, could still have his job? You're in luck. Geoffrey Raymond, the greatest artist of our time, will be in front of the building today with his latest, The Annotated Citi. In the event you can't make it, let us know here what you'd say to VP, given the opportunity to get up in his grill, and Raymond will add it to the canvas. Interested in having Pandito all to yourself? Bidding starts at 30K.

Okay, I'm thinking. This is great...

Then I read the comments:


1 Posted by guest, Apr 27, 2009 9:33AM

Doesnt even look like VP...looks like the artist had the green apple splatters and just squatted over the canvas

2 Posted by guest, Apr 27, 2009 9:34AM

@1- are you familiar with any of geoffrey raymond's pieces? none of them look like the subject.

3 Posted by guest, Apr 27, 2009 9:35AM

@1- I know, right? No way I'm spending 30k on that thing.

-steve cohen

4 Posted by guest, Apr 27, 2009 9:41AM

@1 Stand back from the computer 5 ft, cover your dominant eye, squint with the remaining open's him, it really is.

5 Posted by guest, Apr 27, 2009 9:41AM

Reise, Reise Seemann Reise
Jeder tut's auf seine Weise

6 Posted by guest, Apr 27, 2009 9:41AM

And he can't even figure out where to put the dot.

7 Posted by guest, Apr 27, 2009 9:42AM

looks like harry potter has been getting into the bronzer

8 Posted by guest, Apr 27, 2009 9:43AM

Has he ever sold one of these things? God I hope not.

9 Posted by merkin capital partners, Apr 27, 2009 9:47AM

Vwat? Jou vwant paint me?

10 Posted by Anal_yst, Apr 27, 2009 10:15AM

Raymond has to have made some decent bank the past year/two with these suckers, way to capitalize on the (epic) failures of others, sir!

11 Posted by guest, Apr 27, 2009 11:07AM

I'd comment but my fucking ear is hurting like hell.

Vincent Van Gogh

Manomanoman, my first thought is that it's a good thing I'm not suicidal by nature because this is a tough crowd! My second thought is something along the lines of "What? Kill myself over the Dealbreaker commentariat? Not fucking likely. I mean, who gives a shit about a bunch of overcompensated math geeks? Hell, half these guys would still be wearing their pocket protector if the girl from Scores hadn't told them to ditch it."

Then I developed a strange fondness for Numbers 1, 2, 4, 5 and 11. And I appreciated Anal_yst rushing to my defense.

As far as the question of whether it looks like the guy, I sincerely think it does. Or at least it looks like what I think he looks like. Which, on one level, is the most important point. But on another, it's not even close to being the point. The comments, in this particular line of work, are the point. The comments are the mayonnaise. The painting? The painting is the artichoke. Which, as everybody knows, is just a vehicle for eating mayonnaise.

The Annotated Citi, Volume 3

And I love a poem:
Pandit, you bandit
Your formulae suck.
You've screwed people's lives
I declare you a schmuck.
--Sean Bailey.
Wow. Thank you Mr. Bailey. Me? I love the internal rhyme on the first line and the Latin plural of "formula" appeals to me as well, especially when juxtaposed with the Yiddish slang (is "schmuck" Yiddish slang, or just Yiddish?) on the back end. Gives it a kind of hi/lo cultural tension. Eggheads with street cred--that kind of thing.

Someone should notify Tina Brown.

It should be noted that the opinions expressed on my paintings are not necessarily my own. It should also be noted that the one Citi employee who annotated the painting on the first day, a mere 25 or so feet smack in front of the front door of his employer's headquarters building, wrote "He inherited something that wasn't his fault."

So there you go.

It should further be noted that the Citi employee didn't actually write on the painting. He whispered what he wanted said and I waited until he left before transcribing it. He did come back later and confirmed that, while not a verbatim rendering, I had captured his statement's gist.

And my favorite comment so far (other than the Shea one)?
Greed will return!
It is only resting
Somebody should notify the boys at Phibro.

The Annotated Citi, Volume 2

Here's where we stand with my portrait of Vic Pandit:

The original plan was, as I stood in front of 399 Park on Monday, to have Citi employees comment in red and the general public in blue. Apparently this is a particularly hairless breed of dog since, of the multiple thousand Citigroup employees in that neighborhood, only one stepped up to the plate. So when I took it downtown (yesterday was spent at my usual spot behind 85 Broad) I gave everybody red pens. Here's a close-up of the upper left hand corner:

As a group it says much of what needs to be said.

Here's a close-up of the close-up of the upper left hand corner:

It says much of what needs to be said.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

A quick note on baseball

A quick note on baseball, because, really, man does not live on paint alone. If you are reading this in England, baseball is just like cricket.

So my friend Chuck and I are planning to go to Citifield (Manoman, the urge to capitalize that F is almost overpowering.) and watch an afternoon Mets game on Wednesday. I'm hesitating to pull the trigger on ordering the tickets, however, because I'm concerned in no particular order by the inclement weather report for Wednesday and the swine flu minidemic sweeping Queens. Anyway, in addition to eating Chinese food in Flushing prior to the game, when I do go to a Mets game I certainly plan on standing in the Jackie Robinson Rotunda and reflecting on the glory of the man.

And then, moments ago, just as I'm thinking about Robinson, somebody named Jacoby Ellsbury, a Red Sock, steals home against the Yankees straight up. If you are reading this in England, don't ask me to explain other than to say Whoa Nelly, it is something one doesn't see every day. Or every decade, if you are a Sox fan, since the last time a Red Sock actually did it was ten years ago. Whoa Nelly.

Me? I don't think I've ever seen it done. And I watch a fair amount of baseball.

The only bad part was the post-facto look of agony on the face of Andy Pettitte, the Yankee pitcher and an admirable player. Posada looked disgusted; Pettitte looked crushed.

One last thing on painting Barack

There is a third Obama painting. This is it, just for the record:

It's owned by a couple in New Jersey who live near Bruce Springsteen. That aside, what makes it interesting, among some other things as well, is that it's 2 1/2 feet by three. A small one. This accounts for the difference in the way the comments fit on the surface of the thing. Neither good nor bad, just different.

What makes it additionally interesting, and this is the reason why I'm bringing the whole thing up, is that although the original idea for how I was going about painting portraits was what I call a Jackson Pollock/Chuck Close fusion, there's another work of art that's always stuck in the back of my mind. It's the sculpture of John Kennedy in front of the Kennedy Center in Washington ...

Not my photo, and would it have killed the guy to focus his camera? Anyway, now look at this...

... as it relates to this ...

I think the idea becomes more obvious on the smaller canvases. But that's not to say that it ever goes away.

The Annotated Citi

I'll be in front (if that's even the right word--I blush to admit I haven't scouted the location yet) Citigroup (Manoman, don't you want to capitalize that G?) headquarters with "The Annotated Citi" tomorrow.

I think it's on Park, but really--it could be anywhere.

Ahhh ... Politics

There's some London/New York talking about my political paintings so I thought it might be helpful just to bing up my four Obama/McCain paintings.

First, of course, is this ... just to give you a sense of scale (Note: if you double click the photos they blow way up so you can read the writing):

Here's Obama, as annotated during the week of the Democratic National Convention:

And here's McCain, likewise:

Of the four, this is my favorite (although I apologize for the darkness of the photo). There was a certain innocence in the early fall--nobody had quite wrapped their heads yet around the Lehman Bros. and AIG implications--and the annotations on this painting were more about the Palin nomination than anything else. You can argue that it is the most pro-Obama painting of the four.

On Election Day I put the second Obama and McCain paintings up for annotation. The idea was that on the actual day of the election, the overriding emotion was exhaustion. I didn't want either one to look happy.

McCain, in fact, looks like he's ready to cry.

This is my least favorite of the four. But I do like the big red message on the lower left hand corner. I voted for Obama, but I can understand the sentiment. Agree with it, even.

Obama, on the other hand, seems to be changing. He's putting on the presidential mask--kind of a cross between Teddy Roosevelt and the Phantom of the Opera:

At least that's how I see it.

Somebody wrote me a nasty comment around that time, suggesting that it doesn't look at all like the man himself. Me? I always thought that was the least important part.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

What's that phrase?

Maybe it's "Wish I didn't know now what I didn't know then."

Anyway, this painting, from what one could call my paleolithic era, is in play.

It's good clean fun, the black background is richer than it appears in the shot, and somebody's trying to buy it for a pot of money. Oh, and did I tell you that hidden in the folds of his jowls are the words "I slept with Hillary." Which makes me smile.
So why are you blue?
I'm not blue. I'm pretty happy.
But there's something about your tone. What's the catch?
Wow, that's pretty perceptive.
I'm nothing if not.
Fine. The catch is this: I don't own the painting in question.
It's not your painting?
It's mine in the sense that I painted it. And it's mine in the sense that it's sitting rolled up in my studio right now. It's not mine in the sense that I sold it to one of my collectors. The Pacific Rim guy.
Is that a gay thing?
God, no. He lives in Thailand. It's part of the Pacific Rim.
Oh. Well then, why do you even care?
Well, I'm attempting to broker the deal. The buyer (alleged) approached me about my Vic Pandit painting but I think the 30K threw him off the scent a bit. So we ended up on the "What Fucking Bubble" painting.
That's how it's pronounced?
Hmmm. Never knew.
Can we move along here? I've got to go soon.
Can we get back to the painting?
Sure. So tell me, why are you so blue?
I guess it's like a party that you really want to go to but can't.
I can see that.
Plus, there's the question of the money.
I can see that too.

Friday, April 24, 2009

The Thousandth Post

This, dear friends, is the thousandth post on The Year of Magical Painting. It makes sense, to me, to reprint the first post, titled "Chuck Close Must Be Freaking Out."

What's that phrase? I wish I knew then what I don't know now? Or something like that.
Chuck Close Must Be Freaking Out

If I'm to become the pre-eminent portraitist of my time, I'll have to somehow get past Chuck Close to do so.

Because it's a friendly competition, I painted this picture of Chuck. I call it "Close, But Not Quite", which does make me laugh.

Although I used a grid technique for all my painting, I left it more conspicuous in this painting than I usually do, as a bit of homage.


Here's the photo of St. Vic that ran in the Post today ...

And this is (a cropped version of) my painting of the guy. It's a work in progress, by the way. Should be done by Monday ...

I rest my case.

The question is this: At what point, if any, will Pandit lose his job and where in this bit of short-term chronology am I best advised to hang the thing out for public commentary?

Thursday, April 23, 2009

The Painter of the Day

Here's a painting of Kimi Raikkonen's Ferrari...

It's called "Overtaking," I think. This, plus the little jet wings sprouting out of the hood tell us it isn't the current Ferrari. They seem to have trouble overtaking anybody.

And here's a painting of Jan Ulrich, one-time Bianchi rider, one-time TdF champ, once one of my favorite bikers...

... on his way to his moment of destiny in the individual time trial of '03.

Which reminds me a little of...

Two of the three are brought to you by a painter named Rob Ijbema. I know you people don't really give a shit about car racing or bike racing, but you might want to see what the man is up to at his blog titled car-a-day. Or at his other blog, paintingletour.

Go to his website and buy a painting. Ask him where all the paintings of Fausto Coppi are.

Me? I'd buy this one...

... because it reminds me of the big Gerhard Richter painting of the rutted country road that always sits at the end of one of the main modern galleries at The Met.

Fresh Direct

Do they have Fresh Direct everywhere? Denver? Richmond? London? Washington? Bucks County? My morning will be busy tomorrow, expecting a delivery of ten six inch by six foot mailing tubes plus my first Fresh Direct (is that one word?) order.

This is what I'm going with as a starter. I've formatted it flush right, just to make an already incomprehensible body of copy more so.

0.5 lb
Parmigiano - Reggiano, Aged 2 Years (Not Grated)
($12.99/lb) $6.50 *

Farmland Fat Free Milk (1/2 gallon)
($2.29/ea) $2.29

Granny Smith Apples 4-Pack (4pk, Farm Fresh)
($2.99/ea) $2.99
Hass Avocados, Ready-to-Eat Pack (2pc)
($3.49/ea) $3.49
Yellow Bananas (Farm Fresh, Half Yellow)
($0.69/lb) $1.24 *

Arrowhead Mills Sesame Tahini (16oz)
($4.99/ea) $4.99
Folgers Classic Roast Ground Coffee (11.3oz)
($4.89/ea) $4.89
Goya Dry Chick Peas (16oz)
($2.09/ea) $2.09
Goya Lentils (16oz)
($1.89/ea) $1.89

Organic & All-Natural
Kashi GOLEAN Protein & High Fiber Cereal (14.1oz)
($4.19/ea) $4.19

Farm-Raised Atlantic Salmon Steak (6 - 8 oz, Hand-cut)
($7.99/lb) $3.44 *
0.5 lb
Large Wild Dry Sea Scallops
($13.99/lb) $7.00 *
Wild Yellowfin Tuna Steak (6 - 8 oz, Hand-cut)
($17.99/lb) $7.74 *

Vegetables & Herbs
Artichoke (Farm Fresh, Med)
($1.99/ea) $1.99
Dole Classic Romaine (10oz)
($2.49/ea) $2.49
Green Cucumber (Farm Fresh, Med)
($0.99/ea) $0.99
Organic Red Tomato (Organic, Med)
($1.99/lb) $1.59 *
Yellow Onion, Bag (Farm Fresh, 2lb bag)
($1.49/ea) $1.49
Estimated Subtotal: $61.29 *
Tax: $0.00
Bottle Deposit: $0.00
Order Subtotal: $61.29 *
Delivery Charge: $5.49

I'm gonna make some hummus.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Geoff gets his paper

I feel like I'm fucking Tony Soprano. Fucking, in this case, is an adjectival gerund, not a verb.

Now, imagine yourself on a train in a station. Good. Now, imagine me putting on my bathrobe, walking downstairs, out the front door and grabbing my now-home-delivered-three-times-without-being-stolen-once New York Times.

Just like Tony.

The song being played in the clip is, just for the record, "Sad Eyed Lady of the Lowlife" by a group called A3, I think. Which got me thinking that, if there was one way in which The Sopranos was superior to Battlestar Galactica is was in the amazing choices of music they would lay on you. Which then got me thinking about my boy Marty and how, out of the blue, as the credits rolled at the end of "The Departed" came this sustained bent note ... then another ... then another ... bent so beautifully that it sounded like a violin ... and it was the beginning of Roy Buchanan playing "Sweet Dreams."

One night, in the early 70s, my dear friend Gerald (who was just recently promoted to President and CEO of [Redacted--Insert name of hoity-toity retail establishment like Bergdorf Goodman] Direct--which is a name I'll never really understand. I mean, isn't it a more direct experience to have a [redacted] salesperson personally sneer down his or her nose when you tell him or her that you only want to spend $800 for a navy blazer than to buy, say, cuff-links online?) and I, accompanied by two girls (mine cuter than his, if memory serves), drove my father's '67 327 Camaro (burgundy with a black vinyl roof) from Charlottesville, Virginia, to a nightclub called "My Mother's Place" in Washington, DC, to listen to some live music and try to get lucky. Me more than him, if memory serves. And who did we run into? Roy Buchanan and the Snakestretchers playing the blues so hard that the bunch of snot-nosed teenagers (amongst whom we counted ourselves) who were dancing and making out and otherwise making alcohol- and drug-fueled spectacles of themselves on the dance floor were forced, by the sheer genius of the man, to stop and watch him play.

This would be something like that:

Lord have mercy. I'm amazed we made it back to Charlottesville.

Buchanan killed himself a couple of years later, frustrated by his inability to generate commercial success despite his theistic prowess with the axe.

Good Night, Sweet Prince. And flights of telecasters sing thee to thy rest.

Dan Brown

So Dan Brown is coming out with a new novel. September 15th is the release date--a mere two weeks prior to my 9/30 birthdate. Feel free.

I'm not a big Dan Brown fan, although I've read both "Angels & Demons" and the really famous one. But he does make you want to turn the page and keep reading, and that's something. And I do, I suppose, owe him (incrementally) for these:

They are, respectively, "The Agony of St. Agnes" and "The Ecstasy of St. Theresa." Both were painted during and immediately following my reading of "Angels and Demons." So I guess I owe him for that. I come and go on St. Agnes as a painting, but I can tell you that the look on her face felt at the time very much to me like proof positive that painting the way I paint was going to be a good idea.

Oh God, oh God, oh God,

If you rotate it, it could almost be a scene from the Crucifixion.

The words Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani? certainly jump to mind. Which, if you're not paying attention, is Aramaic. Maybe.

Anyway, I always thought that if any of my paintings was going to get me that Vatican gig, it was "The Agony of St. Agnes."

As far as "The Ecstasy of St. Theresa" is concerned, it may not be obvious that it's about 13 feet long, executed on two panels. I had just returned from the Gauguin show in Boston, somewhere in the neighborhood of 2003 (the plus/minus on this date could easily be two years) and I was really feeling those jungle siennas and yellow-greens and turquoises. I won't go into the relationship between painting one panel in color, one in black and white and the dualism of sainthood other than to say that there's a relationship between painting one panel in color, one in black and white and the dualism of sainthood.

Me? I love the breadth of the thing. (When I lived on 106th Street I didn't have a wall big enough for it so I wrapped it around a corner. Which was really just outstanding.) I love the almost topographical feel of the thing. It's tectonics, if you will. The done-to-death-but-still-totally-compelling notion of the reclined nude body as landscape.

Here's a photo of a friend that I'm using for a painting:

I'm calling it "Dancer #3 (Reclining--Chelsea Hotel)". Would this also be a good time to say that I love my job?

Anyway, it's a lot less freaky without the face whited out (although there is a pretty interesting Francis Bacon thing going on here), but discretion, I think, is what's called for here. Close readers can perhaps remember my steadfast refusal to show the photo of Waitress #5 I used to paint her picture. This, with a boost from technology, is something like that.

Now, imagine yourself on a train in a station. Good. Now imagine the background of Dancer #3 painted in the same dark, dark gray as St. Theresa's. Good. I love the languid question mark drawn by the line extending from her nipple across the length of the photo, beneath her neck, then curling up the inside of her forearm and fingers. And there, in the middle of the thing, is her (you'll have to take my word for it) beautiful face.

Monday, April 20, 2009

How I Celebrated Allen Raymond Day

I, a man who likes a complicated metaphor, celebrated Allen Raymond Day in the pursuit of modest things, savoring the individual stitches, if you will, that, in concert, forge the tapestry of one's life.

More specifically:

--Woke up. Got out of bed. Dragged a comb across my head.
--Started some coffee, put on my bathrobe, walked downstairs, opened the front door and found, not to my surprise but definitely to my amazement, that my home delivery of The Times had begun. On Allen Raymond Day, of all days. And that the paper had not been stolen. Which only added to my celebratory mood. I mean, how long had the damned thing been sitting in the stoop, whispering to passers-by? Like sirens. Or a siren.
--At some point during the consumption of The Times I made time for the consumption of breakfast. Original style Shredded Wheat--one piece--plus some of that Kashi brand of sticks and stuff that probably isn't very good for you but gives you the impression that it is. Plus a sliced banana and about five prunes. Plus some skim milk ... maybe one percent. Usually I eat raisins, but I saw a pack of prunes (I refuse to call them dried plums) in the store the day before and bought them. And really, what are prunes if not just big, honking raisins? Plus Dad liked them, so that's something.
--Later I engaged in the business of painting. That is to say, no paint was thrown in anger but I did painterly stuff.
--Then I went for a bike ride. I had only the day before pulled my bike out of storage so I thought I'd do one lap of the park and see how it felt. Do you remember that movie with Natalie Portman where she's imprisoned by the Inquisition and tortured? "Goya's Ghosts" maybe? They tied her hands behind her back, then slung the rope over some pulley near the ceiling, then pulled her in the air while, apparently, separating her shoulders. Ouch! Now I know this is a fictional accounting and that they didn't actually do anything to Natalie. That, as they like to say, it was acting. But still, when the time came (probably on some sunny day in southern California in a looping studio just off Hollywood Blvd.) for Natalie to scream like her shoulders were being, can that girl do some screaming. I mean, it was blood-curdling. It gave me additional respect for her acting chops. I mention this because about a quarter of a mile before I had to either peel off the bike path and head for home or bear left, as they say, and do another loop, I heard the same blood-curdling screams coming from what seemed to be directly behind me. Only this time, instead of Natalie Portman looping a torture scene it was my ass that was screaming. Begging me, in fact, to do the right thing and eschew the loop. To go home, maybe sit on something soft. So I did.
--Later went to Church.
--Later ate dinner (a kind of Chinese thing with chicken, two types of mushrooms, brocolli, if that's how you spell it, and oyster sauce) with a glass of wine.
--Later watched a movie ("Twilight"--I'm doing research for my television show).
--Later read a bit of "Sometimes a Great Notion."
--Later turned and spoke to the cat (who's name, oddly enough, is Alice). "Alice," I said. "I'm going inside to check my eyelids for leaks."
--Went into the bedroom and went to bed.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Allen Raymond Day

It is, as is often the case this time of year, Allen Raymond Day.

There's an inscription in the lower left corner of Barack 3 that reads "I wish my parents were alive to see this...and I'm not even black."

You can't see it here because I haven't updated the photo of this particular painting. Nonetheless, I would have liked it if dear old Dad had been able to see me in The Times.

Friday, April 17, 2009

A moment of unusual clarity from Big Geoff

Somebody sent me an email last night. It read, in part:
Your Work on C-Span...
A youngster won second prize in the student cam contest. He used your work.
So I wrote C-Span:
Hello C-Span

I was told that one of the winners of your student video competition used me and my annotated Wall Street paintings as the subject of his or her video. Nothing could delight me more, and I'm wondering if you can point me towards the location of the video on your website. I tried poking around in some of the videos already but couldn't find anything. If it helps, I paint large portraits of people like Henry Paulson, Ben Bernanke, Richard Fuld, Alan Greenspan, etc., in a Jackson Pollock/Chuck Close fusion style. I then exhibit the paintings on the streets of the financial district and encourage the public to write comments on the surface of them with magic marker.

Thank you in advance for the consideration and congratulations on what appeared to be a wonderful student initiative.

Geoffrey Raymond
I could have done without the typo in the final paragraph, but what the hell. Anyway, C-Span writes back:
Hi Mr. Raymond,

Your work is now well know to those who have watched Chad Klitzman and Dustin Slade's StudentCam documentary, Bailout or Failout. Your subject matter fits perfectly in their documentary. You can watch Bailout or Failout on this section of our website -- Just scroll down to Second Prize Winners / High School and you will see their documentary directly underneath the High School title.
Me? I love stuff like this. The only downside, dear reader, is that I couldn't quite figure out how to imbed the actual video (C-Span ain't, apparently, U-Tube). But this is the link and you can find me, embroiled in a moment of unusual clarity, starting at about the 2:45 mark.
(you are going to have to cut it out and paste it into your browser. Sorry)
I offer my congratulations to Mssrs. Klitzman and Slade and must tell them (assuming that they are regular readers) that theirs is fine piece of work.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

The Relative Benefits of Fame

I found myself bartending for my friend Patty the other day. Even though I'd just sold a painting, I'm the frugal sort and 150 bucks is nothing to be sneezed at.
(The general rule of thumb in the painting game is that you can't sneeze at $150 until you start selling your own stuff for a hundred grand. So I'm a third of the way there. Can't wait, by the way.)
Plus, the payment hadn't yet come through and I, truth be told, was a little light in the wallet. Plus, I do truly love this catering business. It helps me reconnect with my restaurant roots (a time in my life that was truly fun) without the down-side of actually working in a restaurant. Plus I only do it once in a while, so it always feels like a giggle as opposed to a grind (although one's feet do tend to ache towards the end of a given gig). Plus I get to hang out with my friends Chuck and Patty and, when nobody's looking, eat little chicken salad sandwiches.

Anyway, so I was bartending for my friend Patty the other day, offering drinks to a lovely bunch of extended family members who'd just returned from a funeral. Not as much fun as a wedding (my personal favorite catering gig), but one tries to provide comfort where one can.

Towards the end of the day, one of the guests--a lovely woman from someplace called Jacksonville whom I'll call Ramona for purposes of this post--asked me if I had any interesting New York stories. I said no. She pressed ahead, asking me if I'd ever seen Sarah Jessica Parker (a question that makes me smile just thinking about it). I said no (although I did see her husband in "The Producers" and I did once see Cynthia Nixon walking down 7th Avenue). She pressed ahead, in the most charming way, and asked if I'd ever seen anybody famous. I said no (which wasn't actually true, but I couldn't think of anything good so I just demured).

Ramona looked crestfallen so, after a moment's reflection, I decided to throw her a bone.

"Well, I'm famous," I told her.
This, I can assure you, perked her up.
"No you're not."
"Yes I am."

Then I told her about being on the Today Show, and in The Times, and NBC Evening News and 20/20. I was about to tell her about my email buddy Rebecca [redacted], who's writing her thesis about my Wall Street series, when somebody who was listening--maybe Ramona's husband--said "Hey, I've heard of you." Then a couple of other people chimed in. Then Ramona and I had our picture taken together and she seemed really pleased at having what one could legitimately call an out-of-the-blue New York Moment.

Me? My preference is to stick to my Bruce Wayne persona when bartending. It's good to have a couple of moments in the day when not absolutely everything is about me. But, like I said, she looked crestfallen.

And, as noted above, one tries to provide comfort where one can.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

A Walking Tour of "St. Timothy"

Monday, April 13, 2009

Live Blogging the Mets Home Opener

I"ll be live blogging the Mets' home opener. At least as much as to say that here, at 7:09 pm, April 13, 2009, a mere six days before Allen Raymond Day, the crowd went bananas when Tom Seaver was able to actually get the ball across home plate while still airborne (something he had to do with a one hopper for the last pitch at Shea last fall). And with regards to the word "airborne" we are referring, of course, to the ball, not to Seaver. Seaver looks like he's been hitting the potatoes and I doubt if he has much vertical leap left in him.

Catching, of course, was Mike "The Pizza Man" Piazza.

Me? I've got a big lump.

Into the breach

Once again, into the breach. Whatever that is.

I'll be on Wall Street today with St. Timothy, handing out pens and letting people say what they have to say. This, of course, is St. Tim:

There are those (legion, in truth) who feel this is not my finest moment. Me? I can't decide. I acknowledge that it doesn't particularly look like Big Tim, but is that really the point? I love--LOVE--everything below the eyes. And there's always that whole Picasso/Gertie Stein, "It doesn't look like me" business.

What I do know, however, is that I, personally, while thrilled with the whole halo/saint thing conceptually, am not thrilled with its execution. In the end, it should have been smaller. Or lower. I'm not sure which (and this is never a good sign).

My response to this is to (contrary to initial thinking) let people write stuff in the halo. I mean, Lord have mercy, I can't stand that swath of yellow. It's so clunky. To this end I'm armed with a brace of red pens. You want to write in the halo? You get red. Around the outside? Black. And, I've got one black pen with slightly larger nib, which I think will make for a more interesting image as well.

The hope is that the red pens in the orange space will visually diminish it. Or make it more interesting. I'm not sure which (and this is never a good sign).

Oh, and one more thing. I'm going to be interviewed by Korean Television.

I got this note a while back from one of their producers:
Dear Mr. Raymond

My name is [redacted], an associate producer at Seoul Broadcasting System in Korea.

SBS is one of 3 major TV broadcasting station companies that has networks that link all around the World.

For more information on SBS, please visit our company's English site.

is the weekend flagship documentary program which in viewed by 5 millions in average in Korea alone. We are currently producing one hour special documentary on World Financial Crisis and the road to the recovery.

We would like to request an interview with you on your blog and your paintings of CEOs of finance companies.

It is an on-camera interview and will take about 45-1 hour.
I'm looking forward to being the hottest thing in Seoul for my designated fifteen minutes. I'll let you know how it goes. I am also wondering if I'll be able to hit the producer up for a hotdog and a Snapple. I think MSNBC holds the record for buying me stuff--two slices of pizza (from My Daddy's Pizza behind Goldman Sachs) and two Snapples.

It's supposed to be 56 degrees. You can, should you be looking (and really, why would you be?), find me across from the Stock Exchange.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Now THIS is interesting

At the expense of repeating myself, now THIS is interesting:

A painting executed by my new email buddy Dave Lane from, as near as I can tell, Liverpool. In England. As opposed to, say, Troy ... New York. Or Athens ... Georgia. Besides, the whole Liverpool thing fits nicely into the current Beatles thread here at TYOMP.

Liverpool aside, the painting was, as you can probably tell, annotated (WTF? I thought I was the only guy painting bigshots and letting people write on them) in Washington a couple of days after the Inauguration. And by Washington, I of course mean the District of Columbia. I haven't quite wrapped my head around what appears to be a watermark in the image, but I don't ask a lot of questions.

I just let the stuff flow over me.

For the record, this is my Election Day Barack (about which one TYOMP reader wrote, roughly, "It doesn't even look like him. Learn to paint):

Isn't the world a strange place? I'd bet my bottom dollar there's a Beatles lyric on this painting, but the closest I could come to finding one was "The coldest winter in almost 14 years could never change your mind." Rod Stewart, for the record, was born and raised in London.

And, as close readers know, I was in DC for the Inauguration and while it might not have been the coldest winter in almost 14 years, I'll be it was the coldest Inauguration in the last 14 presidential cycles.

I still get chills thinking about it.

NOTE: The coldest Inauguration on record was
Ronald Reagan's second, in 1985. It was 7 degrees at noon.

I'd like to bore you for about six or seven minutes slash one more thing about this ukulele business

So I went to U-Tube to try and find a clip of the end of the Tribute to George concert where some guy comes out and plays a ukulele and everybody watching the video cries, whether they even knew George or not. But I couldn't find it.

I did find a bunch of post-Beatles George Harrison playing "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" at various benefits. For some reason he always ends up on stage with Eric Clapton, who always gets to play the lead, and one wonders if George used to say to himself something along the lines of "Just one time I'd like to play the goddam lead on this freakin' song without Eric steppin' all over me. I mean, the guy stole my wife--what more does he want? Or was it me that stole his? It's all so hard to remember."

Then I got I got to the Chinese kid playing all the classic rock on an acoustic guitar. And after watching him play "All Along The Watchtower" I clicked to Jimi playing it. Then "Hey Joe" (of course). Since it's Holy Week, here's my still-unfinished painting of the Annunciation of Joseph titled, appropriately enough, "Hey Joe."

Funny how much Joseph looks like George Harrison, circa 1970.

Anyway, I got through "Hey Joe" and ended up with Jimi playing "Like a Rolling Stone."

So much for the ukuleles. This is worth a view:

"How does it feel?"

Me? I love a simple 3-chord rock and roller.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

All hope abandon--ye who enter here

Getting back to the whole Mets fans go to Heaven/Yankees fans go to Hell thing, I am interested to note that there's now a game called Dante's Inferno.

All hope abandon--ye who enter here

Honestly, I am going to buy an X-Box 360. I feel like there's a hole in my pop cultural resume--that being that I don't think I've ever played a modern video game. I once tried Myst, but that was a long time ago. There's a store around the corner that rents games (a Blockbuster kind of thing) and I think that the next boat that comes in is going to carry an X-Box.

Also, being a painter, I'm thinking I can deduct something like this on my taxes. Plus, I'm thinking, game rentals.

For those not completely familiar with the thing there are nine levels of Hell. The first five levels are reserved for those who commit self-indulgent sin (like gluttony, possibly bad sex) while six and seven are reserved for violent sins. The eighth and ninth levels of Hell are reserved for malicious sins. I see Bush at Level 8 and Cheney at Level 9--which, as I understand it, is just along the third-base line, close enough to throw stuff at Alex Rodriguez.

My gift to you

Life is good. And bad.

Ain't that the way? The key is skewing towards the left side of the ledger--if, in fact, the first two sentences of this post, in addition to being the first two sentences in the post, also represent a schematic rendering of a ledger-based interpretation of the notion that life is both good and bad--and managing expectations.

Me? My strategy for this is to consistently act like an idiot. That way, when I do manage to say something intelligent, everyone is impressed. Try it. Really.

Anyway, back to my gift to you. Have you ever heard of singer/songwriter Leah Siegel? Probably not. How about the Beatles? Can you name all four?

Regardless, I'm here to tell you they were really quite special. And that I'm awfully fond of Rubber Soul, one of their early albums. And particularly the song "In My Life".

Poor dead George Harrison was one of the Beatles. My favorite, just for the record. And legend has it, when he and the boys would be sitting around the house chanting Eastern melodies and dropping acid, as they were wont to do, at a certain point he would love to pull out a brace of ukuleles and start messing around on them.

The notion of The Beatles sitting in George's living room, hammered in their own special way, each playing a ukulele, makes me smile like nobody's business. My guess is that Ringo would grab a tambourine or something. I doubt he could play a ukulele. But the others? Definitely.

All of which brings me to my gift.

The link you see below is a quicktime audio file. Click on it (unless you are in a meeting or something).

(Actually, for reasons I can't fathom, you have to cut and paste the goddam link into your browser, then play it. I know this is annoying, but go ahead and do it--otherwise the rest of the post is less impactful)

It's Leah Siegel singing the song in question accompanied by a guy named Roger Greenawald on, as you may have guessed, ukulele. And something called robot drums (which would be a cool name for a band). Plus some backup singers which, through the miracle of computer technology, are also Ms. Siegel herself.

All of which is brought to you by not so much me as by two guys named David Barratt and the previously noted Roger Greenawald. Interesting how they both have unusual spellings of their last names.

They have a site called The Beatles Complete on Ukulele.

Their stated mission is to:

A) Record & perform on ukulele all 185 original compositions by The Beatles with 185 guest artists.

B) Write essays to coincide with each release.

C) Make available for download one new recording and essay every Tuesday for 185 weeks, beginning January 20, 2009 (Inauguration Day) and climaxing July 24, 2012 (The eve of the London Olympics).

Wow. This, dear reader, is a worthy cause. I mean, really. I'm getting a massive goosebump in my throat. You should hear their version of "While my guitar gently weeps" (although I can assure you that the instrumental riff at the break is a guitar, not a ukulele. Nobody plays a ukulele like that.)

What they write about the Leah Siegel version is also good clean fun:

Song - In My Life

Artist - Leah Siegel

Original Version recorded October 18, 1965

Ukulele Version recorded March 7, 2009

Leah Siegel: Vocals

Roger Greenawalt: Ukulele, Robot Drums

Produced by Roger Greenawalt at Shabby Road Studio, Brooklyn

For maximum enjoyment please put In My Life on repeat in your music player as you read this Essay. That’s what I do when I write it.

In My Life is a John Lennon song from the Rubber Soul album. Although I just read in Wikipedia that McCartney disputes this, saying the melody is mainly his. I believe…

Ringo. No it’s a Lennon song. It’s so Lennony.

It doesn’t get much better than this. Wistfulness and sadness at the passage of time is not an easy subject to discuss in a two minute twenty-eight second pop song. Lennon nails it. This song is the Celtic world view in a nutshell, seeing the beauty of the world through a mist of tears. It’s an Irish wake this piece. Thank god they recorded it so we can go down to the Irish Pub of our mind and drown our sorrows anytime we like.

Regrets, I’ve had a lot. Not John. This is an out and out Love Song To The Past.

A love song to a Dead Girlfriend. Or in this case a Love Song To His Dead Mother. Or the Dead Best Friend. Stu the painting bass player.

Not to be Freudian, but this lyric just screams “Mommy’s Dead!” to me. Sorry Stu.

It’s time to trot out Lennon and McCartney’s big fat artistic advantage.

(No they weren’t gay, but that would have been awesome. Imagine how much better The Beatles would have been if they were having sex with each like Fleetwood Mac.) No, their big advantage, and by far the biggest fact that they shared when they first became friends, was that they both had Young Dead Mothers. Like Madonna, who also has a Young Dead Mother, this emotional bottomless pit can create an engine of fierce need and ambition.

Just the thing to push you over the edge of excellence.

No amount of love or money is bringing her back. But huge amounts of love and money are a nice distraction if you’re grieving.

Back to In My Life. John sings very innocently here, like an orphan in a Disney movie or Dickens novel.

Falling in love with the past is great. I do it all the time.

“Some are dead and some are living.”

That’s a heavy lyric for somebody who had just turned 25 and was at the vortex of a crazy hurricane of fame and fortune. Any normal person in his place would have been shagging Twiggy on acid in Morocco. Instead he was living in the dreary suburbs of London and making masterpieces.

Writing like this is why Lennon enjoys such a high reputation. Deservedly so.

I wish they hadn’t double tracked the John’s lead vocal. It’s not quite tight. Enough to be slightly nervous making to modern ears. The backing vocals, which sound like Harrison and McCartney doubling themselves, are Perfuckto. Ring’s Drum part is really innovative, he only plays a normal beat in the second half of the B sections. The verse drumbeat is a minimal marvel.

Ringo swings, using silence as his main weapon. Unfortunately, there’s the usual insanely loud tambourine doubling the ride cymbal in the B section. Shame.

John’s falsetto at the end would become his most featured and beloved vocal effect. It signals vulnerability. Or in the case of The Bee Gees, disco.

There’s a trick sound in the solo. George Martin wrote a Baroque piano bit that he found was too difficult for him to play. By slowing down the master tape from 15 inches per second to 7 and a half inches per second, thanks to the magic of physics, the music plays back at half tempo and down exactly one octave. Martin then played the part on a normal piano at half speed at the slower tempo. When that was played back, the tone of the piano became much brighter and harpsichord like. That the part is written in the style of an 18th Century composition makes it all the more witty.

Our version features the stunning vocalist Leah Siegel. Her voice makes one swoon.

Since I have been making the case that The Beatles Legacy eclipses that of Shakespeare, It behooves us to just stick the two together. As sung by Leah, In My Life is sung by Ophelia, who is a drowned ghost, to her doomed not yet dead Danish boyfriend Hamlet. The big change is that the guitar melody at the start of each A section now has a lyric, and the bridge has paranoid voices inside of Hamlet’s skull instead of a harpsichord solo. Oh and did I mention,



Wow. If you are the kind of TYOMP reader that never reads the red stuff, just take a look at the last big paragraph. I love the part about Hamlet and Ophelia and the voices in Hamlet's head. I also like, I guess, the choice of a larger font size than I perhaps might have chosen for myself. Based, I guess, on the assumption that anybody old enough to give a shit about the entire Beatles oeuvre reinterpreted for ukulele is in need of a bit of ocular assistance.

That said, I resist the notion that the Beatles legacy has eclipsed that of Bill Shakespeare. Have you ever seen Slings and Arrows, the Canadian Broadcasting Co.' s comic take on a small Shakespearean theatre troupe doing, in Year One, Hamlet. Since we're talking about things Ophelian, check this out. The director (whose name is Geoffrey--gotta love that) is tutoring an actress on how to play Ophelia's mad scene. The actress is later replaced by her understudy, played by Rachel McAdams.

And in the piece de resistance, here's Geoffrey helping the actor playing Hamlet (an American movie star who comes to Canada to do Hamlet as a career legitimizer). About ten minutes before the scene below, Geoffrey says to the actor, who's freaking with pre-show jitters, "The whole play's just six soliloquies. The rest, as they say, is silence." "It's a bit more than that," the actor replies. "Filler," Geoffrey responds.

My favorite part comes at 3:06, when the actor cuts off Geoffrey while he's trying to explain the motivation behind the "To be or not to be" soliloquy. That's when you know he's got it. It's like the moment in the Swing Time number in the dance studio when Ginger hitches up her skirt for the first time and starts really dancing. Also worth noting is Rachel McAdams playing Ophelia gone bonkers. It's at 6:20 or so.

The rest of it is too hard to explain. Except that the old guy who shows up @ 5:22 is actually a ghost. Geoffrey, you see, is quite mad. He went insane playing Hamlet 7 years earlier.

Did you ever read Donna Tartt's "The Secret History"? Well, it made you want to go out and learn Greek. Watching Slings and Arrows makes you want to go and read Hamlet. Listening to the Beatles just makes me want to drop acid and play the ukulele. Which, I am here to tell you, is not the same thing as reading Hamlet.

All that said, there is no getting around the power of music. Witness this:

Vocals by, of course, Leah Siegel.

And, because this is about painting, not Shakespeare, or the Beatles, take a look at this:

It's the upper right hand corner of Barack 3. My two favorite annotations: "Fuck Bipartisanship" and, of course, "You may say I'm a dreamer/But I'm not the only one."