Monday, August 29, 2011

Crack your cheeks, Irene

The Hurricane was pretty interesting. I wasn't taking it seriously til building management put a note under my door telling me to set aside some emergency water and fill my tub so I can flush my toilet. So, feeling like an ass, I did both those things.

Then I looked around and wondered what would happen if the electricity went off. My response was to go to the freezer, pull out an entire pint of Battenkill Creameries local interpretation of Cookie-Dough Dynamo (which is some really good shit, as they used to say in the 60s), and eat it.

I still feel bloated.

The Hudson has jumped it's banks here in Troy, but it's not much of an issue from where I stand. I'm sure others have a different perspective.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Ahhh, sweet mystery of life... at last I've found you

I remember singing like Madelyn Kahn when I finished this bad boy up.

The kinky part is the eyes, in my humble opinion.

I mean, really.

Otis "Required" Reading

You know how athletes sometimes have engaging nicknames? LeBron "King" James, for example? Barry "The Last" Word? If I was Otis Reading, I would request that people call me Required.

How confusing would that be?

That said, I am here to tell you that it was Otis Reading that called Ahmet Ertegun "Omelet." Which makes me seethe with anger, but I'm a big enough man to cough my inadequacies up like hairballs.

Warren bails out BofA

Man, is Rick Perry gonna be pissed. Speaking of which--this from my iPhone:

As regards Bank of America--a parable:

A struggling painter is sitting at the bar of the Peter McManus Cafe several years ago, poor as a stick, trying to talk Howie out of a free Bud Light. He's finished the last of his peanut butter, eaten on a slab of bread that was both stale and dotted with those blue furry things, and feeling pretty down. His buddy Rich comes in, assesses the situation, and, being currently employed, says something like: "I'm feeling a bit flush right now, you want me to slip you a C-note?" To which the painter responds somewhere along the lines of: "I've had a shaky couple of weeks and I appreciate a friend giving me a vote of confidence. I don't need the money, but it never hurts to have more capital in a volatile time."

He then winks at Howie, who understands everything, puts a twenty on the bar and orders another Bud. And a shot.
I'm not sure that's a parable.
Maybe an anecdote?
Or a metaphor.
I know it's not a simile.
Grammar's hard.
Is it grammar or syntax?
Regardless, back to BofA.

Buffett throws Five Large at Bank of America (at what can only be described as usurious rates). The Head of BofA, a guy named Brian Moynihan (who I think used to coach basketball at St. John's. Who are they gonna hire next? Lenny Dykstra?) says: "In the shaky couple of weeks that we've gone through in the financial markets, it's a good time for this vote of confidence by a savvy investor. We didn't need the capital, but it doesn't hurt to have more in a volatile time."

He then puts a twenty on the bar and orders another Bud. And a shot.

The similarities are spooky, yes?
I don't think it was Moynihan who said that. I think it was Chuck Holliday, Jr.
Same thing.
Spooky though, yes?
The similarities are staggering.
Once Rich Perry finds out about this, he's gonna looking to string Warren up too.
Spooky, yes?
Perry? Yes.

Otis Reading

The Commentariat observes:
It was Otis Redding who called him Omelet. Mick Jagger's not that clever.
A) I'm not certain this is true and I'm too busy painting Rick Perry to check into it just now.
B) You don't have to be that clever to go from Ahmet to Omelet.

I'm sticking with Mick for now. But anybody who steps up and writes something on the annotated painting that is The Year of Magical Painting deserves his or her due. More on this later.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

And of course, Jerry Leiber. May he rest in peace.

Do you remember Ahmet Ertegun, head of Atlantic Records, who died five or six years ago? Mick Jagger used to call him Omelet. Which is either more or less funny if you consider that the guy died of complications from a back-stage fall at a Stones concert.

Some months prior to the accident, Jerry Leiber rerecorded, as a birthday gift to Ertegun, one of his hits with a new set of lyrics:

"It Had To Be Ahmet" by dbfly

Jerry Leiber, ladies and gentlemen.

And of course, Standard & Poors

Emboldened by my success with Black and White Krugman--which every time I look at, I'm even more impressed with myself than I usually am--I'm also painting Deven Sharma (departing S&P head) in the same manner. I'm titling it "The Ghost of S&P." Maybe. What a run those dudes have been having. As I mentioned earlier today to the aforementioned Dealbreaker, S&P (and the rest of the rating agencies) never fully got its fair share of shit.

Me? I'm here to right the wrongs. Like some weird fusion of Jean-Michel Basquiat and the Lone Ranger, but with less drugs. Like Paul McCartney and Michael Jackson, but with more testosterone.

Do you ever see those commercials that begin by asking you if you don't feel as good as you used to? Then they suggest your testosterone might be too low.


They even have a cute gimmick of a name for it.


Fuck you. As if you even needed further proof, this clearly shows that when it comes to who's the Great Satan of American business, Big Pharma tops Wall Street by a clear margin.

Compared to what, I would ask in response. Compared to when I was 20 and dunking backwards with two hands (9.5 foot basket)? Of course I don't feel as good as I used to.

Does Bank of America need another bailout?

Imagine the shitstorm in Congress if it did? I mean, the mind reels. Rick Perry would be hanging everybody for treason. You can read a bit about it on Dealbreaker (a regular supporter of my humble efforts and certainly a site you should be reading daily, dear friend).

Me? I only bring it up so I can drag my old painting of Ken Lewis out of the garage.
Pinteresque pause.
Actually no. It's such a disaster I think I'm gonna leave it in the garage. Some things, as they say, are best left unsaid.

Instead, how 'bout Cramer: Naked, Short...

If ever there was a time to be naked and short--or at least just short--BofA right now would be it.
Is there anything you'd like to add to that?
Are you sure?
Well yes. I suppose I should say that I have no idea what I'm talking about and anybody who manages their portfolio based on anything said in this blog is a complete idiot and deserves what they get. No subsequent squealing allowed.
Nicely said. In this regard, your blog is much like Cramer's show.
Yes it is.

I also suppose this would be as good a time as any to announce that I'm painting Rick Perry upside-down as we speak. That is to say, I'm actually doing it. There is a canvas on my floor and there is paint on the canvas in the rough shape of Rick Perry. So I'm actually painting. As opposed to painting in my head. Where, it should be said, I'm quite prolific.

I believe my first annotation will read something like: "If we can execute people who are clearly mentally incompetent, what's the harm in stringing up Bernanke?"

Something like that.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Flo and Eddie

If you turn on Pandora Radio, then click to your Byrds channel (I cant listen to Esperanza Spalding all day), and start painting, eventually you get to the Turtles singing It Ain't Me Babe. A choice which, I suppose, is at the essence of Pandora's music-genome search and selection function.

Me? I'm not much of a Turtles fan, and Flo and Eddie--a nomme d'something for the two leaders of the Turtles--once had a radio show in New York--WNEW, maybe (how the mighty had fallen by then)--and it was one of the most excruciating listening experiences you could imagine.
More excruciating than, say, scraping fingernails down a blackboard?
I'm here to tell you.
All that aside, their Ain't Me Babe version was actually really rocking.

An a related note, it is worth considering that no sooner did I mention Esperanza Spalding (ten or twenty posts back) than she ends up on the cover of the Sunday Times' "T" Magazine. Which proves that I'm cooler than The Times (how hard is that?), and likely cooler than you, dear reader.

Although it isn't a contest.
Quick Moment of Live-Blogging (Really!): Oh Shit! Now it's playing Happy Together! The greatest Turtles hit ever, and a song that, truth be told, always makes me smile.
I may have to switch to my Buffalo Springfield channel. Two Turtles songs about maxes me out.
Quick Moment of Life-Blogging (Really!): Crisis averted. Now they're playing the Kinks. To wit:

'Cause he gets up in the morning,
And he goes to work at nine,
And he comes back home at five-thirty,
Gets the same train every time.
'Cause his world is built 'round punctuality,
It never fails.

And he's oh, so good,
And he's oh, so fine,
And he's oh, so healthy,
In his body and his mind.
He's a well respected man about town,
Doing the best things so conservatively.

And his mother goes to meetings,
While his father pulls the maid,
And she stirs the tea with councilors,
While discussing foreign trade,
And she passes looks, as well as bills
At every suave young man

'Cause he's oh, so good,
And he's oh, so fine,
And he's oh, so healthy,
In his body and his mind.
He's a well respected man about town,
Doing the best things so conservatively.

And he likes his own backyard,
And he likes his fags the best,
'Cause he's better than the rest,
And his own sweat smells the best,
And he hopes to grab his father's loot,
When Pater passes on.

'Cause he's oh, so good,
And he's oh, so fine,
And he's oh, so healthy,
In his body and his mind.
He's a well respected man about town,
Doing the best things so conservatively.

And he plays at stocks and shares,
And he goes to the Regatta,
And he adores the girl next door,
'Cause he's dying to get at her,
But his mother knows the best about
The matrimonial stakes.

'Cause he's oh, so good,
And he's oh, so fine,
And he's oh, so healthy,
In his body and his mind.
He's a well respected man about town,
Doing the best things so conservatively.

Is it "live-blogging" or "life-blogging"?
I don't know. There appears to be a fine line.
That Kinks song is good, though.
Isn't it? A classic--I love the line about the girl next door and how he's "dying to get at her."
We've all got girls like that.
Yes we do. My list currently includes Mila Kunis and the podium girl from the Tour de France who handed the daily stage winner his trophy.
The one on the right?
Dark hair; always wore a black dress and a yellow headband?
She haunts me.
That smile...
It haunts me. What's that line?
What line?
You know. The one about Communism on a pretty day?
"To see her in sunlight was to see Marxism die." That the one?
You know it is.
Hah. You've got a better chance with that Kunis girl.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

American Investor II

Hold in your mind, for a moment, the Subaru commercial where the guy with his smoking hot wife shows up at his college reunion and spies his first great love across the room. Cut to flash-back of them frolicking amidst fields and poppies and whatever; driving around in a beat up old Subaru. Cut to the married couple, arriving home from the event, pulling their shiny new Subaru into the driveway. He gets out of the car and looks across at the old Subaru, which he still has. The voice-over says something like, "You never forget your first love."
Clearly this marriage is already in trouble.
Clearly. Although she's really attractive.
I'm just saying.
I hear you. But it is worth noting that it's just a commercial and all the people in it are actors, chosen for the specific purpose of having you buy a Subaru. They're probably not even married in real life. In fact, it would be exceedingly odd if they were.
I'm just saying.
Fine. Now the questions: Do you have children? If yes, do you have more than one? If yes, then you will understand, to a degree, how I feel about this painting:

Because, no matter how hard I try, it isn't as good a painting as this one:

But dog--that's not how it works with your progeny. You accept them as they come, sprung from your loins like lightening from the head of Zeus. You love them without prejudice. You don't compare; you embrace. Blah, blah, blah.
Quick personal aside: Children are a colossal pain in the ass--there's no arguing that. And mine are no exception. But to have lived life without them seems unthinkable. So there's that too, I suppose.
Plus, somewhere in there is the moral from the Subaru commercial.

And all of that aside, the work we are calling, for ease of typing, AI2 is what it is. And I'm taking her to New York next week and we shall see what we shall see.

Now, on to Inverted Bernanke.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Whatta a golf match

I was rooting for Jason Dufner despite the disconcerting waggle.
I'm not sure that was a waggle.
Really? What did you think it was?
Something a bit more deeply seeded. A psychological kink, perhaps?
Hmmm. It certainly was disconcerting.
Does the name Mackey Sasser mean anything to you?
Yes it does.
I rest my case.
Does the name Mackey Sasser mean anything to you, dear reader? He was a Mets catcher in the late 80s, maybe 90s, who's career was cut short by his inability to throw the baseball back to the pitcher after a pitch. He'd try to, then double-clutch, then try again, then double-clutch again. It could go on for several more repetitions before he finally released the ball. And then, once released, the ball sometimes reached the pitcher on the fly; other times it hit the dirt in front of the pitcher's mound. Frankly, it was agony to watch.

Major league pitching is as much about mindset as it is about technique. Imagine having to keep your head screwed on straight when you can't even get the ball back from the catcher in a predictable manner.
I could understand his waggle better if it was a predetermined thing. Like everybody else's.
You mean like a standardized set of physicial motions you go through to prepare your body to strike the ball?
Yeah. Like everybody else's waggle.
You, as I understand it, are suggesting something a bit more deeply seeded.
Of course I am. I just said it a minute ago.
I always shot foul shots the same way: I'd lightly toss the ball in the air and let it bounce once, during which time I'd arrange the legs of my basketball shorts so they weren't binding. That done, I'd catch the ball, crouch down and bounce it twice quickly, for timing. That done, I'd catch it the second time and rise out of my crouch while rotating the ball so that the seams were horizontal and the lettering (Spaulding, Wilson, etc.) was no longer visible to me. I'd splay my four fingers across the open expanse of leather, look up at the basket, align my elbow, and let fly. I call it the Modified Winter Method.

There was a bit more to it than that--mostly related to the Zen of the thing--but I always did it the same way. And that was one of the two things that bugged me about Dufner's waggle. Which is to say, he seemed to have no predetermined number of waggles before striking the ball. It varied as a function of club selection and mood, as near as I can tell.

And the second thing--and this is huge--is that one usually comes to a pause after the waggling is done. A moment to compose oneself before the deed itself must be done. With Dufner, the last waggle immediately preceded the shot. You could suggest that all the waggling was, in fact, an integral part of a vastly complicated (both physically and psychologically) swing motion.

Thank God Lucien Freud's grandfather wasn't around to see this.

Anyway, it bothered me a lot.
Upon reflection, I'm not so sure everybody else's waggle is as standardized as we seem to be suggesting.
Perhaps not. But I stand behind everything I just said, regardless.
And you, as I understand it, don't play golf.
No. I do not.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

The perils of Troy

This from the Boston Globe:

Actually, it's from Reuters. The Globe just printed it.

I know this because my friend [Redacted on the advice of my lawyer] from [ditto] sent this to me this morning. So, delighted, I wander down to the local newsstand and say something like, "Do you have a Boston Globe?" The guys says something back like "I used to carry it, but the distributor can't get the Globe to me til a day later. Who's gonna buy a day-old Boston Globe?"

Fair enough, albeit annoying.

I have this strong feeling that, if I lived in New York, I'd be able to find a same-day Globe.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Editorial Shout Out

I'd like to give an editorial shout out to my friend [Redacted on the advice of my lawyer] from [ditto] for not only recommending the Crumley book to me in the first place, but for also coming up with the exact opening line when I reached out to him earlier this week.

Thanks [Redacted]!

You know how to whistle, don't ya?

Have you ever read "The Last Good Kiss" by a guy named James Crumley? There's nothing like a good detective novel and although I don't remember much about this particular book, I remember enjoying it quite a bit.

Were I writing a detective novel, I would open with something like this:
He took a long look at her long legs, one draped demurely over the other as she sat neatly on the corner of his exceedingly messy desk, and resisted the urge to scratch behind his ear with his foot and howl at the moon. Besides, she was pissing him off.

"You know how to whistle, don't ya?" he asked, channeling the Master. "Well try doing it with a couple of holes in you."

Then he pulled out his roscoe and plugged her. Twice. Later, after a cigarette and a snuggle, he shot her a couple of times too.
Which I know is more than one line, but I wanted to give you a feel for the thing. And besides, that's just me.

Crumley opens his book with this:
"When I finally caught up with Abraham Traherne, he was drinking beer with an alcoholic bulldog named Fireball Roberts in a ramshackle joint just outside of Sonoma, California, drinking the heart right out of a fine spring afternoon."
Great opening line. Right up there with "So." (Beowulf, as translated by Seamus Heaney). Which has the power of brevity. Or "Believe me, my young friend, there is nothing--absolute nothing--half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats." (Rat to Mole, Wind in the Willows). Although I think that one came somewhere in the middle, not right at the top.

Anyway, funny how these things stick with you years later. I was thinking of Crumley's line, even though I could barely remember it, when I uncorked this piece of work in a recent post:
When the shit hit the fan late last week, and the Tao plunged 500 points and the specter of a long, hauntingly ugly, double-dip recession sucked all the breath out of a lovely summer afternoon, I thought I'd spend the weekend painting an updated version of The American Investor.
Which is a pretty strong collection of exactly 50 words, if I do say so myself.

I share this, dear reader, to show you that sometimes we don't even know we're stealing other people's shit. And sometimes we do. And it's all okay.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

I'm a dreamer. Montreal.

Who said that? Graucho Marx, maybe?

Anyway, look at Inverted Murdock decorating a story in the Montreal Gazette about the Murdoch siblings failed attempts to eat from the big boys' table. Here would be the place to click.


Esperanza Spalding.
Esperanza Spalding. She's the woman I was listening to that I get confused with Meshell Ndegeocello.
Really? You are too cool for your toga.
Some would say so.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Today's Moral

Today's moral is don't get drunk and make U-Tube videos. They never go away, as near as I can tell.

Consider this:

Odd that this should crop up now, given that the subject of the video is my FIRST Murdoch painting. Still, better you should get this stuff from me than just picking it up on the digital street, so to speak.

Check out that painting behind me. Let me tell you, to see that painting in the flesh is to (insert whatever you want here). And that's the truth!

Giving Credit Where Credit is Due

I will say this about News Corp. The day I was standing in front of the place with Inverted Murdoch, they sent a writer from the company newsletter out to interview me. Which was pretty sporting, given the givens.

When I asked if I would, at some point, be able to see the piece she wrote she said no, that it was only available to News Corp employees. If anybody has a copy, I'd love to see it.

The fact that it doesn't appear to play, perhaps less so

This makes me happy...

The Dow of Poo

Apparently I'm not the first guy to think this up. Which makes me seethe with anger, but there you are. Try googling The Dow of Poo. There's like a million hits.

But anger, dear friends, gets you no place (Note to self: share this notion with ex-wife next time you see her). Actually that may not be true. Focused anger in, say, competitive sports can really bring up the juice. But still, take a cleansing breath. All the way in. All the way out. Remember your diaphragm.

Here's some version of the bear:

You with me?

And the good news is that, in my line of work, copying other people's shit is totally okay. Expected even. Hell, Francis Bacon was always copping that Odessa Steps/The American Investor image when he was painting the odd Pope. Witness Innocent Ten:

And Frankie B--as everybody knows--is the real deal.


The only reason to read this damned thing is for moments like this.

That is to say, I was re-reading the post below and my next painting hit me. A massive bear head rendered in a portrait-like manner (which would be fun to paint).

And the title?

The Dow of Poo.

I mean, the mind reels. And you, dear reader, can say you were there at the beginning. No charge.

The Market is a fickle mistress

Even if you are a painter, the stock market can mess with you. Witness this, shot from my iPhone:

When the shit hit the fan late last week, and the Tao plunged 500 points and the specter of a long, hauntingly ugly, double-dip recession sucked all the breath out of a lovely summer afternoon, I thought I'd spend the weekend painting an updated version of The American Investor.

This being the original:

It makes me laugh when you call the Dow the Tao.
Does it?
Good. We're here to serve.
They're pronounced similarly, of course.
Duh--otherwise it wouldn't be a joke.
And there are larger lessons to be learned from both.
Yes there are.
I'm listening to my Buffalo Springfield channel on Pandora Radio--although they're currently playing Janis Joplin.
I'm listening to that female bass player with the amusing name who I often get confused with Meshell Ndegeocello.
Yes it is. Some would say I'm too cool for my toga.
Some, yes.
Anyway, the Tao then dipped another five hundred or so on Monday, and I was thinking to myself (admittedly selfishly) that this was fabulous.

What kind of person thinks that way, anyway?

So I kept painting away, with an eye towards popping up in front of the NYSE on Wednesday. But the painting took a turn for the worse--which happens--and the stock market took a turn for the better--which happens. And now it's Wednesday, and I'm not in NY but rather in Troy, staring at my damned painting.

The solution, you're no doubt wondering?

The solution is two-fold. First, fix the goddam thing (although about that I'm sanguine), then white out the title and replace it with "The American Worker". Because the market may be bouncing back but I'm doubtful about the employment figures.
What kind of person thinks that way, anyway?
I know. It's disgusting, right?
You are a self-centered little shit of a man.
So the evidence suggests. Although I'm now listening to The Wind Cries Mary ... which is something.

Monday, August 08, 2011

News Corp Weighs In

As is so often the case, if you work for the company that represents the scene of the crime--I use this term figuratively; I'm sure no crime has actually been committed--you are given a different colored pen than everybody else.

A woman named Tiffany wrote this:

KRM are (is?) Rupert Murdoch's initials. His first name is Keith. Where, I ask you, would you get this information if not here?

This from another Newsy:

It reads, roughly: "Helping to make your empire last! Lotsa luck, bastard. Go to J-School, learn some ethics."

Then he signs the thing. Which can't be the smartest thing in the world to do.

Bonus time? No soup for you.

Truth in reporting: A third News Corp employee wrote something. Or rather, she inscribed a heart. So the general employee take on the man/empire is two-thirds positive.

Chthonic Banking

I've decided to name one of my next black and white paintings, and possibly the entire series, "Chthonic Banking."

The problem with the black and white series is that the titles are easier to come up with than the paintings themselves.

Inverted Murdoch, fully commented

Fully commented, yes. But I might add some thoughts near the bottom.

Something like: "Your smug suggestion that England is a more open society because of the fine work of the Fleet Street tabs is so morally corrupt as to be laughable. Open at what price, one might ask? If news is, in fact, sacred, you have been pulling your pants down and shitting on the alter your entire career."

I shouldn't get so lathered up, but this guy really bugs me.

Thursday, August 04, 2011

Rupert going well

Two days on the street, plus an evening in a bar (where you get the best comments) and Big Rupert 2 is more or less finished.

Since my accommodations in New York are limited, technologically speaking, I will struggle to post a picture, and possibly not succeed. the good news is that I'll be home soon enough.