Saturday, August 29, 2009

Birthday greeting to my boy...


Now this is fun...

You may remember The Annotated Fuld (and really, who in the northern hemisphere, places like China not withstanding, doesn't?) ...

And now, here is The Reexamined Fuld, half way done...

Interesting. Much to say that is good. Am avoiding the usual mid-process nausea. Particularly like the idea that the left eye is significantly larger than the right.

Further to that point, the right eye better embodies the angry glare that drew me to the photograph I used. The left eye seems larger, softer--the eye of a man who has reexamined himself.

Thus the title.

Do you remember that scene in Gone With The Wind where Scarlett Johanssen has beaten the horse so hard it falls over, frothing at the mouth? That's how I felt after a day with the Frontline people yesterday. The whole thing you see above is the product of one day's work, albeit with the director (interestingly enough, the man who single handedly destroyed the VNR business with his expose of Bursen Marsteller/Bush White House communications hijinks) whipping me like a horse when I slowed down.

Anyway, the point of the story is that during our brief sit-down interview (a prelim for a more formal one to be done next month) he asked me if I thought Fuld was a changed man. I said, after first noting that I don't know the man at all and everything I had to say on the topic was speculation, no. People, by and large, are fundamentally who they are, and even cataclysmic changes in circumstance rarely change the essential being. Something like that.

And then I go and give him an introspective eye. Go figure.

This, for the record, is the left eye of Robert E. Lee--at least how I rendered it.

In some circles the man is still referred to as Old Bobby Lee. In others, Bobby the Butcher. Go figure.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Reexamined Fuld

How scary looking is this guy?

Dick Fuld was known for filling a room; was known for a level of intensity that, when properly focused, represented physical intimidation by a man who, albeit known as The Gorilla, was, in fact, not particularly physically imposing.

I can promise you, I could, in an age-adjusted way, take Dick Fuld to the hole. And he could glare all he wanted because his team was leaving the court and my team was waiting for next.
The best words ever uttered on a pick-up basketball court.

Did I mention that tomorrow morning the people from "Frontline" are sending a crew over to film me painting this very image, the image I've chosen to be "The Reexamined Fuld"?
Would you hyphenate that?
I don't know. I asked an acquaintance at the Wall Street Journal but she was steely in her silence.
Probably a bit of that journalistic remove business.
Just what I was thinking. But...
But what?
Well, there's that whole Mark Penn (him simultaneously holding the positions of president of Bursen-Marsteller and contracted columnist for the Journal) conflict of interest thing which the Journal seems to be sweeping under the carpet to the tune of a hundred conservative bloggers singing "Onward Christian Soldiers."
So one has to wonder at her reluctance to offer a bit of grammatical help.
One does. But...
But what?
But they're very fierce at the Journal.
They're like Massai warriors.
Exactly. But rife with conflicts of interest.
Did I also mention that I've gotten tied up all night and haven't applied a lick of paint to the canvas yet? Now granted, they are filming the painting experience, from A to zed, whatever that means, but still, I would have liked to have a bit of something in hand.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Limited Edition Prints of the Classics...

I am offering six of my most popular images as signed, limited-edition prints. They are:

Red Geithner

The Fallen Prince

The American Investor

The Annotated Fuld

The Screaming Pope

The Annotated Fed

Each numbered print is available for $250 and is signed by me.

To order, send me a check for $250 and the following information:

--The title of the print(s) you would like to buy
--Your shipping address
--Email and telephone number so I can contact you.

My address is:

l38 l6th Street
Apt. 2
Brooklyn, NY ll2l5

If the economy is getting you down, you can also order unsigned versions of the same prints for $l00.

My Man Godfrey

If, God forbid, you are not familar with "My Man Godfrey," you can watch the entire freaking thing at this URL:

Courtesy of, I guess, Google. Wow.

The business with Cornelia happens about 3/4 of the way through. But if you watch for just a minute or two you can see Godfrey push her into an ashpile. Hijinks, as they say, ensue. Carole Lombard is sensational.

Apologies for the dearth

...but I've been upset about Ted Kennedy's death for at least a week now.

Plus, I'm working on a secret project and it's been consuming all my thoughts.

Back to Ted. The Lion of the Left...

A couple of months ago, several people told me I should have painted Michael Jackson and exhibited the work for annotation. And I wondered about that.

Then Earl from Denver texts, in response to my "Ted dead" opening gambit, "Missed another annotation opp." And I've been wondering about that.

Truth is, you could probably, were you me, bang out a serviceable portrait of Ted Kennedy in about five hours. I mean, he's that easy to paint. Maybe in black and white. For a while, a while ago, I was thinking about painting all three Kennedy boys. Maybe now is the time for that.

Push comes to shove, and don't take offense, but I don't give enough of a damn about Michael Jackson (despite posting quite a bit during the immediate aftermath of his death) to spend the time painting him. Plus, who's gonna buy the painting?

But Ted.

Did you read "Black Water" by that Oates woman? The entire first chapter goes something like this:
The rented Toyota, driven with such impatient exuberance by The Senator, was speeding along the unpaved unnamed road, taking the turns in giddy skidding slides, and then, with no warning, somehow the car had gone off the road and had overturned in black rushing water, listing to its passenger's side, rapidly sinking.

"Am I going to die? -- like this?"

Actually, it goes exactly like that. Yes it does. It's a novella, really, told in flashback, while drowning, by a woman who bears a striking resemblance to Mary Jo Kopechne. And The Senator--note the caps--is, of course, meant to be Ted.

I wish I could find the line, but somewhere in there, in those black cold waters, the narrator says something like:
"I could feel the sole of his shoe mashing against my neck as he tried to climb out of the drivers' side window."
Very rough recollection, but the image stuck with me.

Plus there's that moment in "My Man Godfrey" where Godfrey, in the scene where he both saves the family's financial bacon and tenders his resignation as butler, admits to Cornelia that he too had once been a spoiled rich kid. But that he'd changed, and that he hoped she would.

Here's Teddy's eulogy of his dead brother Bobby:

Godfrey would have been proud of Teddy.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Honestly, Where's the self-restraint/

I refer, of course, to the wag who wrote "Now, I wonder, is Ken Lewis' penis as small as Bernie Madoff's?"

Anyway, what do you do? I mean, the two things I say to people are that they can write anything they want (this, it would appear, is the rub) and not to write on the face itself.

So there you are. Day One of "The Annotated Lewis."

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Elephant Man/The Recalibration of Ken Lewis

Remember that line from The Elephant Man where he says his head is so large because it's full of ideas?

All of which brings us to Ken Lewis. His head is so big because I believe I painted it that way. So we are eschewing the Larger Wall Street experience and repairing to the studio to recalibrate Ken Lewis' head.

There are lots of jokes here but I'm just going to let them be.

I will say this: I kept staring at this painting and thinking I liked it a lot from the eyes down but that something was off-kilter. And that something, I'm here to report, is the length of his forehead. So I'm going to move the man's entire head of hair down about 3/4 of an inch. Which is one of those numbers (like $750, or $13,000) that can either be a great deal or not very much, depending on context.
Do you think it's written "3/4 of an inch" or "3/4s of an inch"?
The first one seems right, but looks wrong.
But the second one looks totally off-base.
How 'bout that Michael Vick?
Giants fans are despairing everywhere.
Do you think it's written "Giants fans" or "Giant fans".
I'm constantly fascinated with the typically European insistence on treating team names as a collective singular.
Or is it collective plural?
I don't know. But it's weird.
Yes it is.

Monday, August 17, 2009

BoA Constrictor

I'm taking this snake out for annotations tomorrow.

The idea is to go to the Bank of America Tower, which is at the corner of 42d and 6th. The shot you see here is from Bryant Park.

I call the man a snake unfairly. I mean, I don't know him. And more importantly, I am not a Bank of America shareholder. I am sure those people universally regard him as reptilian. Or a crook. Or, at least, crooked. As in, look how interestingly his face seems to cascade towards the lower right corner of this cropped image:

The technical term for this is "cascading face." And one wonders at how one, assuming the "one" we're talking about here is me (at least in the second instance) happens upon such a state of affairs. I mean, I don't believe that the plus/minus on how level the guy's eyes are in real life is half an inch. Or, likewise, an easy inch with the ears.

Although if you watch the Colbert Report you can see just how assymetrical a soul can be.

Anyway, I kind of like the thing. Will be interesting to see how the BofA people feel about it. And I wonder if the Merrill Lynch people are still in their old building or if they've been carted down to 42nd and 6th.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Setting the record straight

Perhaps I've been misunderstood.

The purpose of the last post was not to set mouths slavering at this whole painting people naked thing. It was to talk about the excrescence that is The Argyle, Park Slope and to voice my deepest disappointment at whomever the idiots in charge were. The naked thing was really kind of a way to get to the notion that now, with the pedestrian walkways and scaffolding taken down, we can see the building--naked, if you will--for the first time.

And it is a disappointment.

That said, the reader named "Lunatic" offers, undeterred, this by way of comment:
I think this happened to a friend of mine. he talked to this girl who wanted him to paint her in the nude, and she was totally hot in the weak afternoon light of the bar. but maybe she wasn't all THAT hot. huh. he still has the coolest job in the world. totally cool.
Which I appreciate, certainly, but which, I believe, is a bit wide of the mark regarding the gauzy lyricism through which I, your humble servant, approaches the task of photographing nudes. So as to paint them. Which is a very different thing than just photographing them so as to photograph them.

Also, just out of curiosity, how many people have jobs like this? I had more or less assumed that I was flying solo in this particular job description.

Anyway, back to the higher calling. Did you read Alastair McCaulay's homage to Fred and Ginger that suddenly, about half way through, turned into a book review? It was in The Times perhaps a week ago and it went something like this:
They Seem to Find the Happiness they Seek

WHEN people fall in love, they opt for an experience that others have had before. Very often that’s what they have in mind: they would like to share some of what happened to Romeo and Juliet, or Lizzy and Darcy or maybe just their parents. One of those archetypes of romance was born 75 years ago, with the release of “The Gay Divorcee,” starring Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers.

The cinema has had many classic couples: several, in fact, in 1934, the year of “It Happened One Night,” “Twentieth Century” and “The Thin Man.” But it has never had another couple who enshrined romantic love so definitively in terms of dance.

Dancing together, Astaire and Rogers expressed many of love’s moods: courtship and seduction, repartee and responsiveness, teasing and challenge, the surprise of newfound harmony, the happy recapture of bygone romance, the giddy exhilaration of high spirits and intense mutual accord, the sense of a perfect balance of power, the tragedy of parting and, not least, the sense of love as role playing. It’s startling how many of those shades are already present in “Night and Day,” their first romantic duet together, in “The Gay Divorcee.”

The story has often been told. Astaire (1899-1987), after years of partnering his sister, Adele, broke through to a new romantic seriousness in 1932, when partnering Claire Luce onstage in London in Cole Porter’s “Gay Divorce,” particularly in the number “Night and Day.” He went to Hollywood as a fully grown star in 1933. When he and Rogers (1911-95) were given fifth and fourth star billing in RKO’s “Flying Down to Rio” that year, their brief fling in the “Carioca” number became its biggest sensation.

“The Gay Divorce” was promptly adapted for the screen as “The Gay Divorcee” for the new star team. Astaire and Rogers went on to make seven more RKO movies together in the 1930s. Astaire choreographed, and the specifications he made for how the camera should follow him set unsurpassed standards: Film the dancers full-frame, without close-up; keep reaction shots to a minimum; run the dance in as few takes as possible, preferably just one.

He went on to partner many other women. (Astaire aficionados like to debate who, after Ginger, complemented him best. Rita Hayworth? Cyd Charisse? Eleanor Powell? Gracie Allen?) But though he developed the artistry of his solos in the 1940s, his screen chemistry with Rogers has never been matched.

Watching “Night and Day” as danced by Astaire and Rogers in “The Gay Divorcee,” we can’t tell how much Astaire adapted it since performing it with Luce, and Rogers is not yet as supple and skilled a dancer as she would be two years later. Yet we see the Astaire-Rogers alchemy in full force. Much of it has to do with Rogers’s multifaceted reactions to Astaire.

Her face is riveting because it has such restraint. Among the breathtaking aspects of her performance are her sudden stops to address him (as if acknowledging the force field between them); the suggestions that at one point she is helplessly sleepwalking but that, at another, having great fun; the very sweet way she implies that love (and dancing with a partner) is something she is happily learning as she goes along; the ripples that pass at different moments through her spine and pelvis; the huge, determined strides she takes to break away from him at one juncture, and then, when he stops her, the mysteriously fluent near-slap she gives him (and the soft way she watches him as he reels back across the room). Astaire leads throughout and is compelling. But her responses, from face to foot, give this duet its depth.

Two years after the “Gay Divorcee” Rogers reached her apogee in “Swing Time” (1936). By now she has a dancer’s body as beautiful as any the screen has ever seen. The glimpses of her legs in their “Pick Yourself Up” number (her calf-length skirts fly as they tap) are enough to make you gasp. Her spine can now arch and bend in many ways, all apparently full of feeling; the slenderness of her waist is always ravishing.

(Note from me: This is the number I'm always carrying on about. My self-described zenith of Western art)

Yet she never looks rarefied or trained. For that matter, she doesn’t behave like a great beauty and isn’t presented as one. Her ordinariness and spontaneity (just watch her arms and hands) are central to her attractiveness. While she always retains these qualities, there are parts of “Swing Time” (and other Astaire-Rogers movies of their prime) in which she and Astaire become divinities and, together, epitomize glamour, love and dance.

Perhaps the high of highs is the “Waltz in Swing Time,” filmed in one take. Astaire is in black tie, Rogers in full-length white. This dance is a novelty number, like several others in their films (“The Carioca,” “The Continental,” “The Piccolino,” the tap dance on roller skates, “The Yam”) and probably the most miraculous in terms of pure dance. They’re moving fast and percussively, yet the impression is of an unbroken slow-traveling legato flow. They’re combining swing and waltz rhythms (it feels like riding two horses at once), yet the impression isn’t of rhythmic virtuosity so much as of impulsive rapture.

It’s my impression that Astaire and Rogers have become even more classic than ever. Now that ballroom dance has been repopularized by “So You Think You Can Dance,” the Astaire-Rogers image is often invoked. (“Burn the Floor,” the skillfully repellent stage musical currently on Broadway, which features 16 stars of “So You Think,” has an episode in which one couple and then another appear dressed as Astaire and Rogers, with the music quoting their “Let’s Face the Music and Dance” number from the 1936 “Follow the Fleet.”)

Only in the 1960s did the Astaire-Rogers duets first receive serious critical attention as great choreography. In 1965 Arlene Croce, who until then had been best known as a film critic, founded Ballet Review magazine (which flourishes still), and one of her two remarkable contributions to the first issue was the essay “Notes on La Belle, La Perfectly Swell, Romance.” (It was republished in 2008 in Robert Gottlieb’s “Reading Dance” anthology.)

In 1972 Ms. Croce followed this with one of the best-loved works in dance literature, “The Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers Book.” In prose that perfectly rises to the thrill of these classics, she herself produced a classic. It has been quoted and cited in innumerable books on Astaire and Rogers, on Astaire, on film musicals and on romantic comedy. It’s out of print now, but since it has been reissued in the past, it’s fair to hope it will be reissued again.

In the 1960s and ’70s you had to wait for Astaire-Rogers movies on television or in revival houses. In the case of “Roberta” (1935) you often had to wait years. Ms. Croce rightly calls this “their most ebullient film.” But MGM (which remade it in 1952 as “Lovely to Look At”) tried to bury it for decades. Now you can get a DVD boxed set of all 10 Astaire-Rogers movies and watch “Roberta” to your heart’s content. The “Swing Time” DVD can be watched with a commentary by John Mueller, whose 440-page study “Astaire Dancing” (1986) is as indispensable to Astaire studies as Ms. Croce’s book.

Ms. Croce’s taste and eminently quotable prose and Mr. Mueller’s detailed analysis hang over two recent books, Hannah Hyam’s “Fred & Ginger” (Pen Press Publishers) and Joseph Epstein’s “Fred Astaire” (Yale University Press). These are, however, diametrically opposite writers. Mr. Epstein casually remarks, “I cannot remember whether I’ve watched ‘Top Hat’ five or six times, but I continue to find new little things in it,” whereas Ms. Hyam, no less casually, says about the “Waltz in Swing Time” that “it is necessary to watch it at least a dozen times before we can even begin to grasp the wealth of detail in which it abounds.”

I don’t need to read 191 pages on Astaire by someone who has watched “Top Hat” only six times at most (“dull as the script is,” Mr. Epstein writes of it) and relies heavily on references and quotations from the writing of others. At one point Mr. Epstein tells us that “Astaire probably overrehearsed,” at another why he needed to rehearse so much.

After quoting from Edwin Denby, Ms. Croce, Mr. Mueller and Charles (Honi) Coles, he gives us this aperçu of his own about “Top Hat”: “You have this pretty girl and this far from handsome yet smoothly attractive guy, and the two of them join together to dance like nobody else, before or since, and some terrific music is playing much of the time, so what the hell, but wouldn’t it be great if life had more such moments: glamorous, romantic, elegant, yes, and uncomplicatedly happy.” By the way, “Top Hat” seems to be the Astaire film Mr. Epstein has watched the most.

Ms. Hyam, by contrast, is an Astaire-Rogers nerd. She has little sense of context outside their movies, she scarcely attends to the music, and too much of her writing consists of plodding exposition. Some of the best points occur in the notes at the back. (In the main text she finds the script for “Top Hat” to be “clever, witty.” You have to turn to the notes to see how she points to the symmetry with which Astaire says, “If I ever forgot myself with that girl, I’d like to remember it,” and Rogers, 20 minutes later, says, “I’ll make him remember me in a manner he’ll never forget.”)

But her book is as knowledgeable as it is loving. When she disagrees, seldom, with Ms. Croce (in “Top Hat,” for example, she finds Ms. Croce misses the point of the “several dreamy backbends” — Ms. Croce’s phrase — in “Cheek to Cheek”), she makes you see why. (This spectacular duet probably isn’t as moving as it should be, not, I think, because of the choreography but simply because this is their least spontaneous performance. Its filming was notoriously complicated by the way Rogers’s stunning dress kept shedding feathers all over the set; even after revisions and multiple takes, a few feathers are still falling on screen.)

As Ms. Hyam proceeds, she makes points that send you back to watch the films again. Of the “Waltz in Swing Time” she quotes both Ms. Croce and Mr. Mueller to good effect before adding, “One astonishing sequence among the so many: when Rogers, facing Astaire, joyfully curves her body for him to vault over it, twice, and a third time presents her slightly inclined back for him to repeat this most intimate maneuver — just before they both rush headlong, in each other’s arms, into the final stage of the dance.” When you check it out, you find that you love the number even more as a result.

Neither book refers to another classic, James Harvey’s “Romantic Comedy in Hollywood: From Lubitsch to Sturges,” which perceptively sets Astaire and Rogers in full film context and gives us much more to see and consider. And neither reflects on the baroque intricacy of the numerous shows within films and dramas within dramas with which these movies abound.

The sense that Fred and Ginger keep playing roles (roles within their roles) ought to make them in these films more artificial, more tongue in cheek; but instead it gives them — and the different aspects of love they express — depth and complexity. Often when they’re doing a dance scene that (the plot tells us) they have rehearsed and that they are performing for an audience (which applauds) they turn out to be at their most spontaneous and piercing, and their love seems at its most real. Ms. Hyam is right: We need to keep returning to these movies. Hilarious and entrancing as they often are, they endlessly repay close study.
Actually, it went exactly like that. It's a little long, but certainly worth the read.

And, just to make your life easier, here is the "Night and Day" number he goes on about:

As one of the video commentators notes: "Wow!"

Not my favorite of their numbers, but certainly well up the pantheon. And it certainly speaks to the gauzy lyricism through which I, your humble servant, approaches the task of photographing nudes. So as to paint them. Which, I must remind you, is a very different thing than just photographing them so as to photograph them.

For you close watchers, the clearest exemplar of the whole lyrical gauze business occurs at the 1:50 mark.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Tell me if this ever happens to you.

Does this ever happen to you?

You're sitting at The Peter McManus Cafe when one thing leads to another, you end up photographing somebody completely naked, and there's that moment--that moment that follows the moment when you reflect on what a wonderful job you have--when that person takes off his/her clothes and you say to yourself, channeling Peggy Lee, maybe: "Is that all there is?" When you say to yourself, "I thought he/she would be much more photogenic?" (The term "photogenic" is interchangeable with "hot" or "hotter" here).

Does this ever happen to you?
Of course it doesn't happen to them.
Why not?
Because they don't have jobs like yours.
So you're saying I'm special?
You're not special. You're an idiot. But you have an unusual job.
Oh. And that doesn't sound elitist?
No. It's just a fact that most people don't have a job that involves sitting at a bar and having people offer to take off their cloze.
And just for the record, we're talking women AND men.
Duly noted.
Is that pronounced "doooly" or "dull-y"? 'Cause it's hard to tell with it just sitting on the blog there.
And, back to the original question, you're saying I'm not special?
That is exactly what I'm saying.
You're saying I'm an idiot?
A-hah what?
A-hah as a linguistic vehicle to suggest in vigorous terms that there's an obvious flaw in your thinking.
Which is?
Which is, if I'm such an idiot, why do so many people want to pose naked for me? One must surely suppose that this is a good thing rather than, say, a bad thing. The sort of thing that doesn't happen to, say, idiots. If you catch my drift?
(long silence)
Are you catching my drift?
Let me get back to you on that.
Please. I'd be delighted.
Me? When it comes to painting people this never happens to me. I'm a firm believer that beauty comes in a variety of packages, and that everybody's beautiful in their own way; that there are a number of roads to BEAUTY (such a massive, forehead-wrinkling concept that it has to be written in ALL CAPS) and only a small percentage include blonde hair and a cute little nose.
Case in point, I loathe that woman from Grey's Anatomy.
The Earthling called Izzie Stevens?
This holistic approach does not, however, include buildings.

Here's a shot of The Argyle, the apartment building that is going up on the corner of 4th and 7th, maybe. One thing is sure...I walk past it every day I walk to the studio.

If you're entering the picture from the left side, you get to the laundromat and make a left, go about a block and a half, dial in #9069, go up two flights of stairs, dial in *0769XX (what, you think I'm giving away everything?), go up and throw some paint on some canvas.

Later, presumably, you sell the painting for an obscene amount of money.

Anyway, they've more or less finished the building and taken down the pedestrian shed, and accoutrement, and the place looks like shit.

Here's the architect's promotional image. To quote that guy with the round glasses that designed the Four Seasons: "God is in the deets."

If you look at the particulars of this particular building, you realize that Satan can be in the deets too. The place is a disaster.
Plus, who names a building "The Argyle?"
Nicely said. What a load of crap.
I'll send you a picture of the street scape on 7th Street. In the meantime, suffice to say, it makes me angry.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Francis Bacon has nothing on me, Volume 2

Here's a picture of my newly organized studio.

I have a walking tour as well, but it's late and it takes too much time to touch it up, add titles, post it to u-tube and then pull it back onto the blog. I'll do it tomorrow.

Also for tomorrow, remind me to tell you about what happened when one of those cheap fucking styrofoam (I'm not capitalizing it, not matter what Tom Wolfe says) plates broke open and pink paint spilled all over my portrait of Ken Lewis.

Not to give too much away, but proof positive of the existance of God. Is all I'm saying.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

And now let's get serious

To be banged out in rapid succession...

Big Maggie, for the hospital.

Gordon Brown, for disenfranchised Brits everywhere. I better do it quick since it seems likely he won't survive next year's election.

Ken Lewis. Some thought to calling it "John Thain Says You're Lying..."

Actually, the entire title is thought to be something along the lines of:
John Thain says you're lying.
He's lying.
He says you are.
You ever see his office? 1.2 million and it looks like a French whorehouse. You gonna believe him?
Something like that.

And then there's this one:

I don't usually do duets, but I'm casting about for something to paint for the anniversary of the Federal destruction of Lehman Brothers and this image kind of sticks with me. The title here might be: "Let's just let the goddam thing blow up and see what happens."

Come Watson! The game is afoot.

Francis Bacon has nothing on me

A shot of the studio in the midst of a reorientation.

Close lookers will see the piece of shit Dell computer I received from my daughter in exchange for my shiny new iBook. It looks like I was playing hearts before flinging it on the ground.

Sunday, August 09, 2009

The briefest of football notes...

I know this stuff bores most of you, so I'll make it short.

I'm walking home earlier tonight and in the window of a gaming store is a huge TV showing what appears to be a Giants/Cowboys game. I look closer and it turns out to be, I think, the John Madden NFL video game. I don't know anything about these things (being old school) but I stand in front of store and watch the game (it only has five minutes to go, so I figure what the hell). I quickly figure out that it must the the 2009 game, since this year's rookies are playing. I'm also struck by the surreality of the imagery (this weird blend of knife-sharp clarity and something else--blur isn't the right word, but something else), and just how very much Eli Manning doesn't look anything like his actual self.

Anyway, to make a long story short, it's a tightly contested game. The Giants are nearing the end zone--a touchdown will tie it--and then everything falls apart and the Cowboys win.

What! What the hell is that? How many of these games do they think they are going to sell in Brooklyn if their promotion features The Great Satan defeating Big Blue?

And now, just a minute ago, they play a tribute to Madden himself at the halftime of the Hall of Fame game. Talk amongst yourselves--I'm completely verklempt.

Squid Vicious, finished at last

This is the final version of Squid Vicious. Otherwise known as "Big Lloyd 3 (The Root)".

Favorite comments include:
--Does this yacht make my ass look big?
--Lloyd--is that hair on your palm?
--Squid vicious
--Everyone remain calm--we're making money again.
--Note to self: Let's invent a computerized trading program that trades faster than the mind can comprehend...then see what happens.
--Mr. Blankfein? It's Secretary Paulson on the line.
and, of course...
--I am Spartacus.
This out of a total of about 275 or so--one of my more densely annotated paintings.

Posters are available.

Friday, August 07, 2009

Alice Doesn't Live Here Anymore

I'm back from the Mountains, only to find that Alice, the cat I've been babysitting for the last couple of months, is being confiscated (if that's the right word) by her owner, now a California resident. Collected, maybe. Or claimed? Anyway, look how big she's become:

This is a cat who's peed on my favorite leather duffle-bag and scratched both my sofa and bed to a fare-thee-well (if that's the right word) and yet, truth be told, I'm sad to see her go.

The good news? I've got another couple of weeks to say goodbye.

The tip of the day? Ordinarily cats in small NY apartments (mine is sprawling; I'm just saying) are a bad idea from a catbox-smell-point-of-view. And anybody who knows me can likely predict that I'm not the most obsessive catbox guy. But I am here to tell you, dear reader, that if you live in a small NY apartment (mine makes the one they used to film the opening sequence of "Hannah and her Sisters" look like a rabbit warren; I'm just saying) and you own a cat, you should run, not walk, to your nearest specialty pet store and buy something called "World's Best Cat Litter." Made from granulated corn husks, totally flushable, never smells--an absolutely smashing product.

Public service complete, I leave now for the studio, then for Wall Street. The thinking is to exhibit Lloyd Blankfein one last time then close the painting. Next up, oddly enough, is Gordon Brown. The Prime Minister of Great Britain Gordon Brown. If it needs clarification.

He looks like this:

Sort of. This is, of course, a Francis Bacon self-portrait.

Anyway, the thinking is to exhibit Mr. Brown outside Barklays, then perhaps some other places where Brits congregate. Soho house, maybe?

There is a lovely circularity to exhibiting in front of Barklays, since it is housed in the old Lehman Brothers building. I polled a couple of friends for suggestions on Gordon Brown venues and one wrote back:
How about starting outside Barclays? It's the old Lehman building, the bank has had several tussles with the UK govt, lots of Brits work there and, importantly, LEH's supposed lifesaving deal pre-bankruptcy was nixed by the UK regulator, so LEH staffers had their life savings wiped out.
So you can see the idea is not original to me. But it's a good one.

For the record, this is what The Right Honourable Gordon Brown actually looks like:

And here are the lyrics from Bob Marley's song of the same name:
(Ooh - ooh - ooh - ooh)
(It's Mr Brown)

Mr Brown is a clown who rides to town in a coffin.
(Well, here he comes) In the top is ... three rows on top and two inside there.
Oh, what a confusion! Ooh, yeah, yeah!
What a botheration! Ooh, now, now!

Who is Mr Brown? I wanna know now!
He is nowhere to be found.
From Mandeville to slide-a-ville, coffin runnin' around,
Upsetting, upsetting, upsetting the town,
Asking for Mr Brown.
From Mandeville to slide-a-ville, coffin runnin' around,
upsetting, upsetting, upsetting the town,
Asking for Mr Brown.
I wanna know who (is Mr Brown)?
Is Mr Brown controlled by remote?

O-o-oh, calling duppy conqueror,
I'm the ghost-catcher!
This is your chance, oh big, big Bill bull-bucka,
Take your chance! Prove yourself! Oh, yeah!

Down in parade
People runnin like a masquerade.
The police make a raid,
But the people - oh, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah - they think it

What a thing in town
Crows chauffeur-driven around,
Skankin' as if they had never known
The man they call "Mr Brown".

I can tell you where he's from now:
From Mandeville to slide-a-ville, coffin runnin' around,
Upsetting, upsetting, upsetting the town,
Asking for Mr Brown.
From Mandeville to slide-a-ville -
It's unlikely that the Mr. Brown to which Mr. Marley refers is the same man as the current British PM, but to hear Christopher Hitchens tell it in last month's Vanity Fair (and to quote directly from the poster boy of the Birther Movement, one Lou Dobbs), "questions remain."

Me? I have no bone to pick with the guy. I'm just reporting some version of the facts.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

A note on what's bothering me today, plus a sonogram

Here's what's bothering me today.

I've got the pot of saurkraut I cooked yesterday sitting on the stove, still cold from being taken from icebox this morning. And everytime I go in the kitchen, I eat some. I can see my dinner disappearing before my eyes, but I swear to God, I just can't help myself from opening the top and spearing a potato, scooping up some of that wet kraut, a bit of sausage and, wonder of wonders, my own special touch: Brussels sprouts. Brussel sprouts? I'm going with Brussels, since that's how they spell the city.

(The idea of not having anything left for dinner is what bothers me, fyi.)

The recipe is this:
--Saute some chopped bacon (chopped from big chunks you get at Eagle Provisions, not commercial, pre-sliced) and a big white onion in a little bit of olive oil. Grind in a shitload of pepper and some salt. I don't know about you, but where I come from, the onions don't show up pre-seasoned.
--Drain a pound of saurkraut and throw it in.
--Add about a can of beer, a similar amount of chicken, beef, or vegetable stock (the addition of the latter being good clean fun but which adds an unearthly pinkish glow to the final product) and some water. Total amounts don't really matter, since you drain it off if necessary. Bring all this to a boil and cook for 15 minutes.

--Chop about ten small red potatoes in half and throw them in.

--Chop an 8-1o inch length of double-smoked kielbasa into bit-sized chunks and throw that in.

--Trim the ends off about a dozen Brussels sprouts and throw them in.
--Toss in some caraway seeds and whole pepper corns (I like a red/black mix, but whatever is ok).
--Cook for about 30 minutes while you watch Los Mets, then turn it off and let it sit for a while.
Later, when it's comfortably warm but no longer scalding, eat with a shitload of mustard and one of those 16 ounce cans of Bud Light that are all the rage. All of it's good, but each sprout, I have to tell you, is like a jewel.

What is interesting about saurkraut is that, to a degree, you can just let it sit around the top of the stove all day. I mean, it's all acid. Nothing's going to go bad. I remember I used to wander into Pop's kitchen back in the old days when he was his spry self and he'd always have something that I sort of thought should be refrigerated just sitting on the back of the stove. Chili jumps to mind. And hell, he never got sick. Me neither. And there's a certain purity to eating food at room temperature that's not supposed to be at room temperature.

(Although this was a man who'd perfected making hollandaise sauce in a microwave oven--a lens though which much of the man must be surveyed.)

Ironic that Pop would later die from choosing not to eat the food in the nursing home. Or maybe not. Anyway, I just popped a Brussels sprout in my mouth and it, like Proust with those damned marshmallows, made me think of a bunch of stuff.

Not the least being the depiction of sonograms as an interesting adjunct to my exploration of mammograms. Consider this:


I like the second better than the first--the idea that the more mystery the better. And I like both of them better than this one:

This kid's name is John and I feel like I know him already. Which, frankly, is a bit too much. Freaky looking kid. Looks a little like a Brussel's sprout.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Just what Ferrari needs...

... another driver in the hospital.

This is the Iceman, Kimi Raikkonen, doing a header in the World Rally Championship in his Fiat Abarth Grande Punto S2000, which is a mouthful.

This is also why you don't stand on the outside of the curves during rallies.

The Beatles on Ukulele

Although, push comes to shove, I've always been a Rolling Stones guy, nobody likes the Beatles on ukulele more than me. I would, therefore, urge you to go here:

You have to copy the address and paste it in your browser, a state of affairs about which I am truly apologetic. But it's worth it because, once done, you can not only listen to a lovely rendition of "Here, There and Everywhere" (about which, really, what's not to like?) but you can read a pretty engaging essay about same. Made me wish I had a Beatles songbook with me so I could follow along.

A lot of the songs on this ambitious site (The Beatles Complete on Ukulele) fall a bit short implementationally. But there are some beauties, yes there are. I would additionally call your attention to local girl made good Leah Siegel singing "In My Life."


And don't just take my word for it. The New York Post offers this:

After falling in love with the ukulele, veteran producer Roger Greenawalt decided to load every Beatles song onto his hard drive so he could learn to play them on his new favorite instrument. "It was only 9.4 hours [of music]," says Greenawalt, "which meant you could play it in a day. So that became, 'Let's do that. Let's play every Beatles song in a day on ukulele."

Along with friend and fellow producer David Barratt, he organized a 14-hour show at Spike Hill in Williamsburg in December where, along with 67 singers and about 40 musicians, they performed every original song The Beatles ever recorded.

That event inspired a mission and a Web site: Starting inauguration week, Greenawalt and Barratt began posting one uke-tinged version of an original Beatles song each week, featuring a different guest musician each time. They'll continue until they've recorded all 185 on July 24, 2012, the eve of the London Olympics. The tunes are recorded either at Greenawalt's "Shabby Road" studio in Williamsburg or on Barratt's laptop in Fort Greene.

Songs posted to date include Dandelion Wine's solemn "While My Guitar Gently Weeps," Kathena Bryant's deep-country take on "Oh Darling," Kirsty Rock's slinky "Come Together" and Peter Buffett's flapper-style throwback on "You Never Give Me Your Money." The only constant on the covers is Greenawalt's uke.

Every song is accompanied by an in-depth essay, usually written by Greenawalt, which often offers insights into the arrangements. Such as when they asked a lesbian vocalist to sing "Run For Your Life" to counteract the song's misogynistic tint, which Greenawalt wrote about at length.

While Ben Kweller and the Strokes' Albert Hammond Jr. have both promised to participate, the biggest star drawn by the project was famed investor, Warren Buffett, who, it turns out, is a ukulele enthusiast. He won't be playing on the site, but he met with the musicians to discuss their shared love of the four-string wonder.

"He plays the ukulele very well," says Greenawalt. "He tells a story about going on vacation with Bill Gates and several other couples, and he taught all 14 people how to play 'You Are My Sunshine' on the ukulele."

And because this blog is about painting, not playing the uke, here's my B&W portrait of Big Warren:

Bad news for the Republicans/I'm getting a new bed

Remember when all you could think about was owning an AGA stove? The notion still haunts me, even though I have neither the home in which to put it nor the roughly 20 grand it would cost to buy, say, this one:

But that's all behind me now. Now all I can think about is owning a Hastens bed:

This, the middle-of-the-line version, only costs $14,600 (sheets and stuff not included). Which is a slap in the head, no question about it. But I do have a bedroom. And a man has to sleep. The 14K remains salient, as regards my general financial concerns, but if you figure I spend maybe three hours a day eating but eight or nine sleeping, then it makes perfect sense when compared to the stove. Besides, if history has taught us anything ... well, you draw your own conclusions.

Which brings me to the notion of the socialization of the United States by the Great Satan Barack Hussein Obama--a topic about which Republicans howl like the wind. Me? If the Danish, or Norwegians, or Swedish--whoever the hell it is that's making these things--can drop 15K on a bed, then call me Trotsky and bring on big government. I'm in.