Sunday, January 24, 2010

The wearin' o' the green

Ahhh, bliss.

Today, dear reader, is a time for quiet celebration and the wearin' o' the green. For today the Jets play the Colts for an opportunity to go to the Super Bowl. Go figure. Today, dear reader, everyone is Irish. On some level.

Somewhere in storage is my Jets blanket. A Christmas present from my children many years ago, it is the only piece of sports paraphernalia I have. I take that back--I might have a Phil Simms autograph someplace, also obtained by one of my daughters and presented to me, but I don't have a clue where it might be.

All that said, we live in a cold, hard world. Good, in the short- and medium-term, oftentimes does not prevail over evil (even the most cursory examination of health care reform tells you everything you need to know about that). I have every reason to believe that the Colts, still angry about Game 15, will bludgeon the boys in Green into submission and that the game will be decided by no later than the half. I think they will then win the Super Bowl too, and then Eli's big brother will, again, have one more ring than he does. Which, in its own way, is good news for Big Blue.

But none of the win/loss stuff matters, really, when you are playing with house money. Which is how I would describe the Jets. My plan is to lie back, watch the game, drink a beer, stir the lentil soup with smoked turkey I'm making, and let the moment wash over me like warm Caribbean waves on a secluded beach.

Ahhh, bliss. And imagine if the Jets did win. I would definitely go find my blanket.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

A timely endeavor, if ever there was one.

Next up is a reinterpretation of this photo:

Do you recognize the man?

No? Well, he's Marcus Goldman. Founder of either Neiman Marcus or Goldman Sachs. I can never remember which, but, that said, with money on the latter, the plan is to paint the guy to more or less coincide with Goldman Sachs announcement next week of their bonus pool (and presumably, in some non-public form of communication--perhaps a letter, individual employee bonuses).

I wonder if they do it by email. Seems so impersonal.

Anyway...if I'm a prominent GS employee I can understand, no matter how loaded I am, the disinclination to purchase "Big Lloyd 3 (The Root)" and hang it on the wall for all to see. But who doesn't want a painting of Marcus Goldman hanging in the office? I mean, what's not to like? There's not even anything written on it.

It'll look something like this:

Which, of course, turned into this...

Except, of course, it's not Bobby the Butcher. It's Marcus Goldman.

I think the crop may be something like this...

I love the collar of the guy's jacket. Even then, the Goldman Sachs guys dressed snazzy.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

The Upstairs Maid...

The internet is an amazing place. And I'm not just talking about the pornography--there's other stuff too! To wit, I just received this email:

I read a post on your blog dated 10/06/08. You mention your grandfather was a crewman on a B-24 named the "Upstairs Maid". My father was a navigator also in a B-24 with the same name. Just wondering if they could have been crewmates at some point. What was your granfathers name? My father was [redacted]. I have a few photos from that time. Contact me. Thanks.
I mean, really. How odd is that? The blog post he references is actually about my Uncle Hugh's burial at Washington National Cemetery, but you might want to take a peek--it's a classic.

I wrote back:
Wow, [redacted]. What a pleasure...

My father (not my grandfather) died about two years ago and I had the pleasure of spending a lot of time with him in his final months. His name was Allen Raymond. We talked about the war quite a bit. And although it may just be the power of suggestion, I have this strong feeling that I've heard your father's name before.

I don't have too many hard details. They flew missions over southern German out of Italy in a bomber called The Upstairs Maid. Dad was the pilot. One interesting thing--I don't know if you are familiar with a non-fiction book by Stephen Ambrose called "The Wild Blue", but it is the story of a bomber wing flying missions over Germany in the war. I gave it to Dad several years ago and after he read it he called me and said his wing had shared the airfield with the group that Ambrose wrote about. If you haven't read it, I would urge you to do so. It gave me tremendous new insight into what your father and mine went through.

I hope this is helpful. If you have a group photo, I can certainly pick Dad out. In any case, if you have some images to share, I'd love to see them.

Geoff Raymond
I've omitted the names for privacy purposes (his, not mine).

This is worth thinking about:

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Green being my favorite color

Remember how I've said, so many times, that if you play a Fender guitar you are either a Telecaster guy or a Stratocaster guy? And that never the twain shall meet?

And do you also remember that business I was giving you a while back about painters being either green guys or blue guys? Goya, for example, being a green guy and Matisse being a blue guy (although his use of green is almost celestial). And that I'm a green guy?

All of this by way of saying that I've just finished making guacamole in anticipation of the Jets game. The key, if you have them, by the way, is to salt the tomatoes. In the dead of winter, here on the South Slope, decent tomatoes are a bit hard to come by, though.

That glitch aside, however, how 'bout those Jets? I would, as an act of purely objective quantification, say that my life is regularly more catastrophic than yours is, dear reader. So it is nice to sit back on a cold Saturday, beer, chips, home-made guacamole in hand, so to speak, and watch the Jets begin their quest for the Superbowl.

This, I believe, is titled "Woman with Green Stripe", or something like that:

My guacamole is the color of the swipe of paint under her right eye.

Friday, January 08, 2010

The rest, as they say, is silence

I rarely make demands of you, dear reader. But this, my friends, this is the exception.

I would urge you (insist, perhaps) to tune your television to the Bravo network at 8:00pm tonight (maybe 9...) and begin watching the re-telecast of Season One of Slings & Arrows. It is possibly the best thing that's ever been on television. Hands down it is the best thing about Shakespeare that's ever been on television. Hamlet, specifically. Likewise, perhaps, madness.

Watching Rachel McAdams (who plays Ophelia) act stoned in episode six or eight--particularly the scene where she runs into her friend (the American movie star brought in to play Hamlet as a resume-enhancer) in the video store looking for a how-to-do-a-Danish-accent video (I've simplified the scene quite a bit)--is almost too much for one simple man to bear. And this (originally aired in 2003) was before Rachel McAdams became Rachel McAdams.

I'm not sure of the total number of episodes in a season--maybe ten or twelve--but let me tell you, in the penultimate episode, when Geoffrey the Director talks his shaky American movie star through the opening night of Hamlet... Well, it is just extraordinary.

This, of course, is Olivier...

And the rest, as they say, is silence.

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

One of the great truths of painting...

My home subway station is the Prospect Ave. stop on the R line in Brooklyn. It's just your shitty, garden variety local subway station. One long track and platform, little windows in the far wall so you can see the D train (an express) steaming by you and wish you lived near an express stop. And, of course, behind you there are a number of advertisements glued to panels attached to that wall. Plus some benches.
The urge to write the words "Benches! We don't need no stinking benches!" is overpowering.
I can see how it would be. Do you feel better now?
Yes. Thank you.
No, thank you.
And usually you don't pay that much attention to the ads. New movies, maybe. And I do think the Mamma Mia! people do a lovely service to New Yorkers by attaching their ad to the top of a map of the subways. Very handy. But most of the time it's just part of the visual cacophony.

All of which leads me to this, taken with my camera on my phone:

These are two separate ads--one for the Georgia O'Keefe show at the Whitney on the left; one for the David Mamet play Race, starring James Spader (of whom I'm fond), John Boy from the Waltons, another guy, and Kerry Washington.

I remember when my mother learned the word 'juxtaposed.' With it comes, I suppose, 'juxtaposition' as well. Anyway, I have this vivid childhood memory of her, out of the blue, juxtaposing this and admiring the juxtaposition of that. Usually this was in relationship to furniture in our living room.

At the same time, my father seemed hung up on the phrase 'dynamic symmetry.' This had something to do with the arrangement of stuff on our mantle; the idea being that you didn't have to put one candlestick on one side and the other on the other (a more mundane version of symmetry). You could, in fact, put the set of candlesticks on, say, the far left, and put a set of, say, family photographs on the right. Or perhaps an old clock. This created a symmetry of a more dynamic sort.

Anyway, all by way of saying that when I saw they had replaced the ad on the left side of the panel with the Georgia O'Keefe poster, I laughed out loud in the face of this juxtaposition.
What do you think the actual definition of juxtaposition is?
Hmmm. I love trying to come up with dictionary prose. It's harder than you think.
Yes it is.
Were it me, and not Funk or Wagnall, I would define juxtaposition as the arrangement in close proximity of two dissimilar objects in order to stimulate the mind in some way.
Wow. That's strong.
Thank you.
No, thank you.
So the point of the story, the reason I laughed, is that the Georgia O'Keefe painting is, obviously, female genitalia masquerading as a flower. This, to my mind, is good clean fun and something she was famous for and got a lot of mileage out of. And to its right is, essentially, a photo of (I assume) Kerry Washington's genitalia, sheathed in a short, red, sequined dress. In the flesh, so to speak, it's a very sexy photograph. And if this wasn't obvious enough, a helpful graffito was nice enough to outline, in magic marker on the face of the poster, the rough shape of what one could vulgarly call Ms. Washington's pussy.

So I'm loving, every time I grab the R train, staring at the arrangement in close proximity of these two posters and feeling the stimulation of my mind. Every time I do, I wonder if the guy who put the Whitney poster up stepped back and smiled. Prolly not.

Funk and Wagnalls, by the way, defines juxtaposition as "the act or an instance of placing two or more things side by side. Also: the state of being so placed." Which I don't like. I don't like how they've left out (in my humble opinion) the notion of choice or intent in the act of juxtaposing whatever it is you are juxtaposing.
This has something to do with painting, doesn't it?
Yes it does.
There's a great truth in here somewhere, isn't there?
Yes there is.
Hiding, if you will, in plain sight

Saturday, January 02, 2010

The Sweet Science

This is my friend Bruce Cahn.

A man whose paintings I enjoy a great deal. I'm calling, on his behalf, this photo "Self-portrait with current model." What I like about Bruce is that he is old school. He makes the models sit for him while he paints them. Once a week for maybe three months. Me? I couldn't stand the pressure of them just looking at me. The expectation in their eyes. The deafening silence. Brrrr. It doesn't seem to bother him, though. I admire that.

I was having a drink with Bruce at the Peter McManus cafe the other day and he said something that surprised me. He, an otherwise lucid thinker, said he believed that Manny "Pac-Man" Pacquiao is the finest fighter that ever lived. Me? I first took umbrage, then voted vehemently for Muhammad "Sugar-Ray Clay" Ali. Consider this:

Watch his feet at the :25 mark. Unbelievable for a heavyweight. At around the 2:00 mark you see a lot of footage of the famous Foreman fight during which, sometime in the 7th round, Ali, as has been reported on these very pages many times before, whispered into Foreman's ear, "Is that all you got?" Just the notion of that they are even having a conversation in a situation like that gives me chills.
Brief personal aside #1: Everything I ever learned about managing my relationship with my ex-wife I learned from Ali during that fight.

Brief personal aside #2: Just typing those words makes me smile.
And, just to show you that a little rain falls on everybody's parade, watch Joe Frazier catch him with the left hook at about the 2:27 mark. Yow!

If I had the skill I would have peeled the audio off and replaced it with "Maggie's Farm." But I don't, so you just have to deal. Try turning the sound down and just let the majesty of the man wash over you.

All that said, when it comes to the Sweet Science, Bruce and I are both wrong. The best fighter of all time is clearly the original Sugar Ray. The one made from natural sugar, not high fructose corn syrup.
Brief parenthetical aside #1: Robinson fought Jake LaMotta six times, winning five. Ali fought Frazier three times, winning two. Plus Foreman, plus Norton. Manny's been fighting tomato cans. I'm just saying, is all.
In closing, consider this:

I'm not sure what, exactly, to make of this. But I'm desperate to buy an XBox 360.

Friday, January 01, 2010

Happy New Year

I'm painting a small picture of Barack Obama for Ruth in Oregon. FOX continues to feed its signal to Time Warner Cable. Life is reasonably good. Happy New Year.