Thursday, June 30, 2011

Post Times

Here's Krugman after my afternoon outside the Times and inside the Peter McManus Cafe.

It's not really blue. It's black and white, like the name suggests.

But that's not important right now. What is important is that you look at about the 9:15 mark (if the painting were a clock) and you see a block of copy that starts with "I love my family..." Hey, dog! I love my family too, but I don't go writing their names on paintings of Paul Krugman.

I'm whiting it out. Which is big for me ... but it bugs me. I've always said to people that they can write whatever they want so long as they didn't write on the face. And that felt like a kind of a contract. That is to say, you CAN write what you want. And I used to feel that my end of the bargain was to leave it be.

Not so much anymore. From now on, it's 'Write whatever you want (unless it's unbearably insipid), just stay off the face."

I'm not asking for Shakespeare here. Nor do I require in-depth economic thinking--although a little of that would be nice. Nor do I plan to white stuff out because it's obscene or abusive. I love that stuff. But don't use my valuable canvas space to write boring shit.

Because I'm gonna white it out.

Favorite comment so far? "Next do Sorkin...with two faces."

Now THAT's the stuff we're looking for.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Walking the dog

So I'm walking the dog, as befits my temporary role of dog custodian.

This is something it seems I spend half my waking hours doing (Smokey likes a lot of miles), and the mind, as you can imagine, wanders. I'm thinking of my own (non-existent) dog. The dog I might own, were I stupid enough to own a dog. It would be a beagle, I think--I'm a sucker for beagles--and I would call it Grasshopper. Which is nice, 'cause you can choose either a boy or a girl beagle and the name works regardless.

"Come, Grasshopper," I would say. "Sit, Grasshopper." Smiling all the while. Occasionally I would hold its bony little head in my hands, stare into its limpid brown eyes--whatever that means--and explain the Tao of Poo to the dog. Or something.

I like that.

And then there's this:

The photography is problematic. But the process continues forward. Tomorrow, now that I have fifty or so annotations under my belt, I'll take Big Paul down to west 41st Street where one can find, although it's not as obvious as it might seem, the front door of the New York Times.
I like to capitalize the "The."
You do?
Sure. It adds to the grandeur of the thing.
The power and the glory--all that business.
I wrote a note to Krugman, just as a courtesy. The responding silence has been deafening.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Krugman Finished

Here's the final painting, awaiting public commentary. I've notified Mr. Krugman of my plans, as a courtesy. Maybe he'll come to the Peter McManus Cafe on show day and buy me a shot.

You, dear reader, are the second to see it.

For a while it looked like this, but the black lettering looked so jarring I changed both it and the title itself. Looking back, I might have redone the signature too, but signed is signed.

This one, I believe, is gonna sell like a short stack of flap jacks on a cool November morning.


Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Paul Krugman and the Story of St. Joan

Surely we are all familiar with the story behind this painting?

It's titled "St. Joan Receives the Spirit of the Lord (Prior to the Battle of Orleans)."

If you've forgotten, which I find hard to believe, I started painting St. Joan, perhaps ten years ago, with the full intention of making it my usual splash-of-color sort of a thing. Then I got to the point where you see it now and I just stopped. It measures seven by five, more or less, and it is, if I do say so myself, a show-stopper. I truly love it--it hangs in my studio as I type.

This one measures five feet by four:

And it too is done, except for the scrawling of the title and the signing of the initials and date. I just sketched the thing in pencil, then resketched it in charcoal (aren't these little glimpses into the world of what I do interesting?) and then sat down on my sofa, poured myself some tea, and started to stare at it.

The reason for the staring, in case you don't fully understand the process, is to assess the good and the bad; reflect on one's own insufficiencies as a painter; plot what is next. And the more I looked at it, the more I liked it just the way it was.

So I walked across Monument Square to Pigment, bought some spray varnish, came back and fixed (in the sense of using a fixative rather than repairing) it. I call it "Krugman (Black and White)".

I love the eyes.

Before we go, it's worth reflecting on this:

And this, which I'm about to stretch and hang in my bedroom:

And, I suppose, this:

I love when the fingers get in the picture.

For you completists, I'm listening to "The Sun is Shining" from Fleetwood Mac's "The Pious Bird of Good Omen" album. This is, of course, early Fleetwood Mac, before that witchy girl arrived, when they were just a straight-up blues band.

And I'm feeling pretty good.

Painting Krugman

The spectacle begins.

That said--quick! If you google Paul Krugman, then hit images, then select large size, my portrait titled "Lilah S (Ash Wednesday)" (who is, in real life, a waitress at Elmo) shows up on the second page. Odd, no?
Actually no.
How so?

Because if you read the blog passage the link takes you to, you clearly mention Krugman.
Still, it's good to be in the same boat. The guy's famous.
So are you, my friend.
Yes, but less so.
Fame's a two edged sword.
I hear you on that. I hate it when, right in the middle of a mouthful of meatloaf at Elmo, some idiot comes up to your table and asks for an autograph.
I hear you.
Or wants to debate the nuances of fiscal policy.
With you?
I know. Crazy, right?
It would have been more fun if it was on the first page.
Yes it would have been.
I'm going with this picture of Krugman. I like the Fallen Prince visual resonance.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Predicting Lehman

After reading the Sandy post below I went back and poked around July 2008. Came up with the following. Be sure to read the penultimate line.



Interesting night.

Blah, blah, blah. Don't really have time to get into it.

Except that I did sit next to a woman on the F Train heading towards Brooklyn at about ten p.m. last night. She looked like she was just leaving work; a little burned out. Me? I was leaving an Italian restaurant in the East Village. Anyway, she's intently reading a single-spaced, two and a half page letter, making notes in the margins, underlining certain passages, etc. It's rude to actually read the damned thing, but something about it captures my attention. When she flips back to the first page, I look to the top and see the Bear Stearns logo. Then she opens a pretty thick folder of documents and the title on the cover page reads something like "Employee severance agreement."

I wonder if I should ask her if she is familiar with my painting of Jimmy Cayne.

I decide not to. But I do think about these people...

all of whom are smiling in the face of having lost their jobs (because, after it sinks in and you cry or mope or whatever, what else do you do?), and I look at this photo (which is currently my computer wallpaper and which was, previously, the photo they ran on page 1 of the New York Sun)...

and I think about that woman sitting next to me on the F Train and then I say to myself, "You better get your ass to the studio and paint a picture of Richard Fuld."

And some other stuff I don't have time to get into.

They Killed Clarence Clemons the Other Night

I'm not sure who "they" are--I'm not one for conspiracy theories--but somebody did.

Anyway, I was in New York when I heard. I was carrying one of those blue Jambone portable bluetooth speakers with me and thought for a moment that I'd lie in bed (having returned, somewhat gassed, from the Bloomberg picnic), turn the light off and listen to some classic E Street Band stuff. Then I realized I'd loaned my iPad to my daughter for her trip to Miami and decided I'd wait til I got home.

So last night I listened to a couple of old albums--The Wild, the Innocent, etc. and Born to Run. For you completists, I was drinking Oban Scotch and wearing my "Can't sleep...clowns will eat me" t-shirt. Which made a lot of sense, actually, given how much that really early Springsteen stuff invoked thoughts of the circus.
Invoked? I'd have gone with evoked.
You're prolly right. Maybe I was blinded by the light.
Too late now, though--I already pushed the "publish" button.

Magic rats.
Anyway, it was a nice night. Sad but nice. It was also good to be home.

Before I started The Year of Magical Painting I used to belong (and actively contribute) to the Idiots Delight Digest--an open discussion forum that focused on the work of New York DJ Vin Skelsa--and some of those people had been to dozens/hundreds of Springsteen concerts. Me? I've been to either four or five. Which is enough to say, dear reader, that I know what the hell is going on.

So finally this: I'd never begrudge an artist like B. Springsteen the opportunity to re-invent his music. But, starting with The Rising (an album I love, by the way), it was clear to me that they were back-burnering Clarence. Somebody, apparently, had hired a violin player. Maybe it was because he wasn't well. Maybe it was just a change of direction. Anyway, it was never quite the same for me after that.

I'll close with a classic post from sometime near July 4th, 2008 (if my math is right). It's good clean fun, topically appropriate, and contains just enough of my usual bullshit to make you shake your head and wonder how a man of my skills could possibly have risen to the position I now occupy...


Oh Sandy...

Today is both the last day of the second year and the first day of the third year of magical painting. It's a time for reflection.

I always thought Bruce Springsteen's best songs were about both beginnings and endings. Leaving stuff behind and moving forward. The Rising jumps immediately to mind. So, in a completely different way, does Rosalita. Likewise Thunder Road. There are certainly others. But the best one of all, by a wide margin (discounting, of course, all the other really good ones you might like better), is Fourth of July, Asbury Park (Sandy):
Sandy, the fireworks are hailin' over Little Eden tonight
Forcin' a light into all those stony faces left stranded on this warm July
Down in town the circuit's full of switchblade lovers, so fast, so shiny, so sharp
As the wizards play down on Pinball Way on the boardwalk way past dark
And the boys from the casino dance with their shirts open like Latin lovers on the shore
Chasin' all them silly New York virgins by the score

Sandy, the aurora is risin' behind us
Those pier lights, our carnival life forever
Oh, love me tonight, for I may never see you again
Hey, Sandy girl... my baby

Now the greasers, they tramp the streets or get busted for sleepin' on the beach all night
Them boys in their high heels, ah Sandy, their skins are so white
And me, I just got tired of hangin' in them dusty arcades, bangin' them pleasure machines
Chasin' the factory girls underneath the boardwalk, where they all promised to unsnap their jeans
And you know that Tilt-a-Whirl down on the south beach drag? I got on it last night and my shirt got caught
And it kept me spinnin', they didn't think I'd ever get off

Sandy, the aurora is risin' behind us
Those pier lights, our carnival life on the water
Runnin', laughin' underneath the boardwalk with the boss's daughter
I remember, Sandy girl... my baby

Sandy, the waitress I was seein' lost her desire for me
I spoke with her last night, she said she won't set herself on fire for me anymore
She worked that joint under the boardwalk, she was always the girl you saw boppin' down the beach with the radio
Kids say last night she was dressed like a star in one of the cheap little seaside bars, and I saw her parked with her lover boy out on the Kokomo
Did you hear, the cops finally busted Madame Marie for tellin' fortunes better than they do?
For me this carnival life's through-- you ought to quit this scene too

Sandy, the aurora is risin' behind us
Those pier lights, our carnival life forever
Oh, love me tonight and I promise I'll love you forever
Oh, I mean it, Sandy girl
Manomanoman, is that a song or what? It's like he wrote it specifically for this very day. How, in 1973, could he have known? Interestingly enough, I always thought the line went "The road is rising behind us." Anyway, I bet Chuck Close is freaking out right about now.

And, just to add whatever to whatever, three days ago Bloomberg News reported the following:
July 1 (Bloomberg) -- Marie Castello, who told fortunes on
the Asbury Park boardwalk in New Jersey since the 1930s and was
best known as the ``Madam Marie'' in a Bruce Springsteen song,
has died, the Asbury Park Press reported today. She was 93.
Castello died June 27, the newspaper reported, citing her
granddaughter, Sally Castello. No cause was given.
In his 1973 song ``4th of July Asbury Park (Sandy),''
Springsteen sings: ``Well the cops finally busted Madame Marie
for tellin' fortunes better than they do.''
She was actually never arrested, yet Springsteen turned her
into an icon, Asbury Park Deputy Mayor Jim Bruno told the
newspaper. Castello stopped working on the boardwalk in the mid-
1990s, the Press said, though she continued telling fortunes in
Ocean Township. Sally Castellano and other family members still
do readings at the Madam Marie booth on the boardwalk.
New Jersey legend says that Madam Marie told a young
Springsteen he would one day be a success, the Press reported.
Springsteen later joked that she said that to every musician.
Where, I would ask you, would you get this stuff if not from me?

Anyway, it's a time for reflection. Season Two ends. Season Three begins. You can't go back. I don't even think about it anymore.

Me? I think I just got tired of hanging in those dusty arcades. And that waitress I was seeing lost her desire for me. And the poacher's daughter is floating on a canoe somewhere in the swamps of South Carolina with a straw in her teeth. And the road is rising behind us. And my car's out back. So Sandy, climb in. It's a town for losers and I'm pulling out of here to win.

Or at least come close.


Somebody killed Clarence the other night. And I'll miss him.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Go Bears

The last time the Boston Bruins won the Stanley Cup was 1972.

I clearly remember the moment. I was lying on the Lawn of the University of Virginia on a warm, spring night, staring up at the stars, which seemed to be brightly colored and moving at a great rate. One seemed larger than the others and appeared to be speaking to me.

I remember turning to my friend, [redacted], and saying, "The drugs seem to be kicking in nicely."
"We're gonna need some golf shoes," she replied.

They won again last night. Go Bears.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

The Myth of Cold Noodles

There are certain drawbacks to not living in New York City. One of them is the dearth of decent Chinese food (don't even ask me about Queens Chinatown, I'll burst into tears).

Me? I'm not a particularly self-destructive person. I mean, I have my moments--but hey, don't we all? For example, sometimes I find myself having had too much to drink AND at a strip club--both at the same moment. Although it should be strenuously noted that that's just business and is completely tax deductible. The mind immediately envisions "Dancer #3, Reclining, Chelsea Hotel".

Or at least mine does.

Perhaps a better example is this: Sometimes, late in the evening, after perhaps returning home from a modest evening out, the idea of cold noodles with sesame sauce is an irresistible notion. Like the sirens calling the sailors to the rocks.

"Eat me," they cry. "Eat me." The noodles, not the sirens. And sometimes I can't resist.

As threats to the United Pieces of Geoff (the acronym is pronounced 'U-POG') go, this hardly warrants DEFCON 3. Nonetheless, I painted this and have hung it in my living room.

I was originally going to call it "The Myth of Magnetism", but how helpful is that gonna be when the noodles are calling?
Brief illustrative aside: the Chinese restaurant (actually Chinese/Japanese, but anybody ordering sushi from this place has a death wish) that I can see out of the corner of my living room window doesn't even call them cold noodles with sesame sauce. They call them cold noodles with peanut butter sauce. Which should tell you everything you need to know about that.
I particularly like the effect of the metallic gray lettering.

Ach! Was ist los?

It's well known that this blog's primary, albeit informal, sponsor is Ferrari. That said, would it kill them to provide me with a vehicle? Anyway, Ferrari's are cool but I don't dislike Audi's either. And even though the Beemer and Mercedes guys are gonna look down the end of their noses at you, there are worse things to think about than cruising around town in a big, fat A8.

All of which brings me to the following clip--the massive crash of a racing Audi at Le Mans last week:

This is right up there with Robert Kupica's crash at, I think, Montreal some years ago. Amazing to watch the degree to which the car disintegrates--it almost feels like it's exploding parts. Unfortunately, the TV commentators are German. If you don't speak German, I can tell you that most of the commentary translates into some version of "Oh shit! Oh shit! Oh shit!"

The moral? Don't watch car racing while standing on the outside of a curve at the end of a long straight.

The good news? Hard to believe, but basically everybody was okay.

Sponsorship note: That was a Ferrari 458 that the Audi climbed over on its way to the wall.

Favorite part? The photographer running away from the wreck, towards the bottom of the screen, pursued by a wheel.
Exit, pursued by bear.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Why Not Weiner?

I've had a number of emails suggesting I paint Anthony Weiner. I wish I'd paid attention to them--it could have been the first tangible example of my "That Ass, [Insert Name of Subject Here]" series. I use the word tangible because, as anybody who reads TYOMP regularly knows, I talk a good game about painting people (See: "That Ass, Donald Trump") but oftentimes don't actually get around to doing it.
Does typing that sentence bother you?
No, it's fine. For one thing, it's obviously true. For the other, talking about the stuff but not actually doing it is part of the process.
I'm reminded of the night the bed fell on Father.
How so?
Because James Thurber once said the hardest part of being a cartoonist was convincing his wife that staring out the window was actually part of the job.
Exactly my point.
So you're okay?
Good. We're all counting on you.
I had previously thought about doing Weiner but chose not to, for reasons not fully clear to me at this time (perhaps some misplaced sense of partisan political loyalty?). But today, when I looked across the aisle at the Illium Cafe (my local breakfast joint) and saw a headline in somebody's paper that read "Weiner seeks help" (meaning that he was checking himself into some un-named psychiatric facility) ... well, something in me snapped. I'm gonna paint that motherfucker. As God is my witness, to paraphrase the Bard.
That was Scarlett O'Hara, not Shakespeare.
Really? That whole "I will never be hungry again" business too?
The closest she ever got to Shakespeare was banging Laurence Olivier.
I loved him in Hamlet.
Anyway, what's he seeking help for, exactly? Sex addition? (See: Woods, Tiger) What a load of crap. Next we're gonna read that he's asked the Reverend Billy Graham to meet with him and his wife for some prayerful healing. Surely That Ass, Dr. Phil has reached out.

My advice to Weiner is to show some balls. And not via the internet. I'm totally painting that son of a bitch.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

The Myth of Magnetism

People say I have a certain personal magnetism. But that's not the point of the post.

The point of the post is this: I find myself in possession of one of these bad boys...

Its a Rolex Milgauss (75th Anniversary Special Edition). Please don't think less of me. If you take a moment and read a modest blog post by some watch guy named Nicholas here, you will likely make a smile. Plus there are some lovely photos of the thing.

Regarding the thing itself, I would say this: I didn't buy it. Nor, it should be noted, did I steal it.
This presumes that the prices you charge for some of your paintings are not, de facto, stealing?
Yes it does.
But there it is, nicely on my wrist. Glowing in its own little way like something out of the Green Lantern movie (I would suggest quickly scrolling down to the post titled, I think, "I'll have a Tanqueray martini with four olives" or something like that).

My boy Nicholas, the watch guy, offers this: "You have a bit the feeling to wear a traffic light on the wrist, with all these colors..."
Interesting syntax. Where do we think Nicholas is from?
Dunno. Albany, maybe.
Anyway, there it is and it does make me smile. The best thing about it is the green crystal. Which is a visual thing, granted, but I'm a painter. And what is that whole business if not visual? The worst thing about it is the curious lightening bolt second hand. I'm still not used to that.

But the real reason for having a watch like this has to do with this whole Milgauss business, which means it contains an internal antimagnetic shield that allows it to keep good, clean time even when exposed to up to 1,000 gauss. Which is a measurement of magnetic energy, as I understand it.

I had a Timex a while back and it just quit on me one day while I was painting. I can assure you that no $50 Timex has an antimagnetic shield. And the painting I was working on (and have now finished and shipped) was pumping out some kind of serious radiation...

So the choice of a replacement watch became a no-brainer. Man, I do like that painting. At one point it looked like this...

Which was not as good. Which is why I changed it.
When you changed it, were you wearing a hat made out of tin foil?
You mean to protect myself from the radiation?

Monday, June 06, 2011

Independence day is coming...

And I'm never gonna get to 1500 posts.

If you're not counting, we're at 1436, I think. Were I to hit 1500, that would mean a yearly average of 300 posts for the five years I've been writing this Goddam Thing. Maybe if I crank up the pace...