Sunday, October 28, 2012

The Sporting Life

Herewith, a sports round-up, with predictions ...

Ferrari Sandwich:  Against all odds (that is to say, his car was significantly slower than the one Sebastian Vettel, his primary opponent, was driving), Fernando Alonso managed to finish second in the Indian Grand Prix, sandwiched by the Red Bulls of Vettel (1st) and Webber (3rd).  As we type we are wearing our red Ferrari baseball cap and keeping hope alive.  Three races to go.
Prediction:  Vettel wins two of the last three races and, thusly, the drivers' championship.

Tebow Time:  There's a limit to the amount of shitty football one man can watch.  I hereby announce that I'm gonna tape all future Jets games and watch them the next day, but only if they win.  Otherwise the suffering is unbearable.  And while I'm not actually wearing a Ferrari hat (how pathetic would that be?), it is true that the Jets are losing to Miami -- MIAMI!!! -- by 24 points in the second half.
Prediction:  Jets have next week off.  When they come back, it will be the beginning of the Tebow era of Jets football.  God save the Queen.

National Anthems:  Note to Pia Toscano -- just because you are beautiful (in a kind of a big-haired, gum-snapping, Lee's press-on nails, middle of Long Island kind of a way) does not give you license to completely rearrange the tune of the Star Spangled Banner.  Although if you wanted to tie me up and do stuff to me, I'd be perfectly fine with that.

Too much, man.  Too much.

Furthermore, since this was one of those stupid games that the NFL plays in England, after Toscano had finished mangling the National Anthem up popped Katherine Jenkins to lay down a pretty nice cover version of God Save the Queen.  It was lovely, albeit a bit too warbly in that kind of pop-infused opera singing that is her specialty.   Ms. Jenkins is also quite attractive, it should be noted, although she lacks the soft, smokey eyes of Ms. Toscano that make you feel like your heart, lungs and stomach have liquified and are pooling in your lower abdomen.
Prediction:  The Patriots (who are playing in the game) are not gonna make it to the Super Bowl this year.
Extended Prediction:  Tick-tock.  Tom Brady gets older with every passing year (as do we all, friends, except we don't play professional football, so it's not so noticeable), and the Brady/Belichick/Pats era is crashing to a halt as we watch.

World Series:  I picked Detroit in five.  This was mostly because they kicked the Yankees' asses and I was having residual warm feelings for them.  But I've realized that I actually prefer the Giants.  Angel Pagan is one of my favorite X-Mets, and who doesn't like Timmy Lincecum coming out of the bullpen?  Since I have no money on this event, and since I have no real fundamental allegiance to either of these teams, switching in mid-stream is permissible.
Prediction:  Giants in four.

New York Football Giants vs. Dallas:  Kicks off in about half an hour.  Those of you who follow TYOMP closely will remember the nine month stretch in which I relocated from NYC to Leesburg, Virginia to keep dear old Dad company in his final months.  God bless the man -- I still miss him and it's been three, four or five years since he died.

So one evening I was sitting around his condo (I was living in the condo; he was living in the nursing home) and I got a call.

"Geoff," he said.  "I've discovered this amazing TV show.  Why don't you pop over and watch it with me tonight."
"Sure thing, Dad."  etc. etc.

So I walk into his room at the appointed hour and he's watching something called "Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders:  Making The Team", which was a reality show about exactly what you'd think it was about.  It was fabulous, in it's own cheese-cakey way, and it made the old guy awfully happy.  I'll bet we watched a good five or so weeks of the thing before he decided he had better things to do.
Prediction:  Note to DCC -- I appreciate all you did, in your little star-spangled outfits, to make my father's last days on earth happy ones, but I'm going with the Giants.  24-14.

In conclusion:  If I ever meet Pia Toscano I'm going to say "Aren't you the woman who was recently given the Fulbright?"  Which is, of course, a Paul Simon lyric.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Swan Lake Revisited

I just sat down and listened to Swan Lake for the second time.  Straight through, without the distractions of cleaning up.  Just a man and his stereo.  The guy who mic'd that harp should have gotten the Nobel Peace Prize.  Wow.


Which, as I understand it, is pronounced Day-GAH.  Not like the city in Nevada.

Daughter #2 (they don't like me to mention their names on the air, so I number them chronologically) and I went to see Swan Lake at the Met a couple of years ago.  Lovely.  As was the ballet.

I'm cleaning the studio, carefully avoiding the painting, now tentatively titled "Dear Lord, bless Ina Drew.  She was a nice woman.  And bless Daddy too, since he was the one who stuck the knife in her back and twisted it," which sits on a easel in the middle of the room.  I'm listening, really loud, to the Philadelphia Orchestra take a stab at Swan Lake.  Tchaikovsky.  Balanchine.  Immersively loud.  What's not to like?

The cover of the album features this ...

"The Dance Foyer at the Opera."

Oh my God, they're sliding into the part that goes deeee, dada do da da deee, da deeee.  Prolly the most famous part.  I'm trying to read the label, but it's spinning at exactly thirty three and a third revolutions per minute and it's making me nauseous.

Are you sure deeee, dada do da da deee, da deeee isn't from Beethoven's 3rd?
No.  That starts daaaaa.

I bet this record is older than I am, and the listening experience is so beautiful that if I close my eyes my lower lip starts to quiver.  Nervous tic, likely.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Red door

Enough with the angst, already.

Earlier in the evening someone asked me for the address of my blog.  So I gave it to her.  I then rushed back to the studio to throw something of substance up, so the first post she sees isn't all the sturm and drang about my current low ebb.  Because honestly, whining is pathetic.  Isn't it?

One of my favorites seemed like a good idea.  Black and white seemed appropriate, given my mood.  As you can probably guess, I came up with Black and White Krugman...

Although I could have gone with this -- St. Joan Receives the Spirit of the Lord ...

Or Black and White Ryan ...

Or The American Investor ...

God Almighty, that's a painting.  Although if I'm giving people red markers I'm not sure if it qualifies as a black and white painting.

Are you done now?
Yeah, I guess.  Why?
'Cause with that fourth one it feels like you're just showing off.
Wow, that's harsh.
I'm just saying...
I could put more up.  These are only the black ones.
Like that Rolling Stones song about the red door.
So you're still in a mood.
A bit, yes.
The girl I'm dating is great except for one thing; she's addicted to brake fluid.  The good news is that she tells me she can stop anytime.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

The Greatness of Lance

I should paint Lance Armstrong.  The greatest cyclist of his time.

The question, in the aftermath of him having been stripped of his titles, is, of course, to whom should we award the gold medals?  Who actually won all those Tours de France?  These are, as we say, questions.

It should be noted that there have been 21 finishing spots on the final podium in Paris during the seven Tours Armstrong won.  Lance on the top step seven times and some number of men variously beneath him (not 14, since there was some duplication over the years).  And lo and behold, of the men occupying those 14 positions, only one has avoided being directly linked to doping.

So who's the big dog?  Lance is the big dog.

Next year is the 100th riding of the Tour.  It will probably be won by Alberto Contador, an amazing cyclist who just recently became eligible to ride again after having been caught red-blooded (so to speak) for doping during the 2010 Tour.  Which he won (and was subsequently disqualified from).

Of the 21 guys, who was the clean one?
A guy named Fernando Escartin.

This should be said:  In the 2001 Tour, about half way up Alpe-D'Huez (one of the iconic climbs in cycling), Lance turned around and stared into the eyes of my then favorite cyclist, arch-rival Jan Ulrich.  He stared him right in the eyes, took the measure of the man and, finding him wanting, turned back around, downshifted and rode away to eventual victory.

View it here.

Me?  I still get goosebumps.

Wow.  Whatever happened to Ulrich?
They caught him doping, stripped him of his 1997 Tour title.  I think he's designing bikes.
Boy, what a sport.
Dog!  This is what I'm telling you.

For you obsessives, here's a fun, slightly impressionistic take on the same ride.  5 minutes-plus, though, so you decide for yourself.  Interesting to note the lack of helmets.  Yikes.

And this, of course, is the route to the top of L'Alpe D'Huez, with it's 21 famous switchbacks:
I've owned cars that couldn't get up this hill.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

As far as painting is concerned...

I'm actively avoiding the subject.  I'm procrastinating.  I'm suffering an existential crisis.  But I did go to the Guggenheim when I was in New York and saw the Black and White Picasso show.   And that's something.

Have you been?  I felt like I was standing naked before God.  

It's one thing to say to yourself you'll never quite match up to Picasso.  I'm okay with that (although I would like to paint a chapel someday).  But this whole Close thing has sent me into an existential spiral.

Are you spiraling up or down?
Which way to you think?

This is Matisse's chapel.  Seems like everybody's got one but me.

I'm comfortable saying I'll never quite match up to Matisse either, just for the record.  

Does it always have to be a competition with you?
Yes.  That's how we keep score.

I like how there are no chairs.  

This, by the way, is Picasso's chapel...

No chairs here either.

And look how, at the very end of the room, he's throwing his boy Matisse a big juicy bone.

It's called the Chapel of Peace in Vallauris.  This from a man who could really paint about war.  You say something like that and everybody, of course, thinks of Guernica.  But this was at the Guggenheim...

And what an amazing thing to see in person.


I leave the studio now for the Hannafords in Latham.  The purpose?  To buy some sweet pickles.  Armed with these, I'll then build a peanut butter and pickle sandwich.  Then I will sit in my chair and watch the World Series.  I believe the Detroit Tigers will win it.  In five, if we're counting.

Crazy, you say?  Consider the picture from no less a source than the New York Times.  Dog!

 I'm thinking Smucker's Natural (smooth) and some "bread and butter" pickles.

Why are you putting quotation marks around bread and butter?
Is it a recognized style?  Or a brand?
Dunno.  I think they're like sweet gherkins, but bigger.

And I'm ditching the white bread.  A hearty whole wheat, perhaps with those little nuts and such that they put in it.


The whole article can be seen at

Monday, October 22, 2012

Bed with Wife #2

Further adding to my depression is the state of Bed with Wife:
A state I would describe as completely nowheresville.

When the black went wrong it went very wrong, and the impossibility of the situation became quickly evident.  My solution?  My solution was to take my paint scraper and smear it down so when I white the whole thing out again I'll have a smooth surface upon which I can start over.  You have to pick your battles.  The gessoing will commence in about fifteen minutes.

I would describe my depression as...

... deep.
... wide.
... profound.

This comes, of course, on the heels of attending the opening of Chuck Close's new show at the Pace Gallery in New York.  It has always been taken as a matter of faith here at TYOMP that the early 2000s would be when I would accelerate past Close to become the preeminent portrait painter of the 21st century.

Then I go to his show Thursday night and realize this clearly has not happened yet.  Nor do I anticipate it happening anytime in the near future.  Consider this (which isn't even close to the best one, but it was the best picture I could get):

Taken with a raggedy-ass iPhone, so you can't expect too much.  But this is his new technique.  As I understand it, he painted a thousand or so watercolor squares of every imaginable color, shade, hue, etc., then had them digitized.  He then, on computer, used these squares to create what you see above.  Here's a detail from another picture...

This was actually my favorite, but the glare on the glass was so bad I had to steeply angle my approach to the thing, if you get what I mean.

Reminds me of my friend Elena

Whom I painted many years ago and which now hangs in one of those bang-o apartments on the corner of 57th Street and Park Avenue.

I really miss that painting, which now, as I type, is only adding to the width, depth, and profundity of my depression.

Anyway, to make a long story short, it's clear to me that the distance between Close and me is growing, not shrinking.  But I've read enough William Styron to know that you can't succumb.  You can't let the bastards get you down.  Paraphrasing somebody...

I'm wounded,
And I think I'll lie down and bleed a while.
But I'll live to fight another day.

And of course this:

Oh Rhett...

Wait--check that.  This is what I meant:

As God is my witness, I will never be hungry again!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Bed with Wife #1

"In bed with my wife ... but all I can think about is that miserable shit Greg Smith.  What's wrong with me???"

It should be noted that the use of "#1" in the title refers to this photo's place in the sequence of development.  Not the number of wives I have or haven't had.

Lance steps down at Livestrong

I'm of two minds about this whole Lance Armstrong business.

First of all, it's pretty obvious, based on 1000+ pages of testimony, etc., that he was doping during his reign as the greatest cyclist ever.  And that, of course, is wrong.  So wrong, in fact, that Nike (that paragon of virtue; that shoe and clothing monstrosity built on a single profound premise:  that poor kids would rather spend $200 bucks on a pair of Nikes than, say, food) has canceled its contract with Lance.

On the other hand, anybody who didn't think Lance was doping was living in Pollyanna land.  If you combine a) his hyper-aggressive type-A personality, b) his almost superhuman feats against competitors who were doping, and c) the fact that everybody -- EVERYBODY -- at the top end of cycling during that period of time was using PEDs of one form or another.  Well, you do the math.  It was fun to sort-of hope he was clean, but honestly, people.  Grow up.

All that said, doping was a fundamental aspect of competitive biking in those days.  Way more so than, say, drug use in baseball (which involved a split community of users and non-users).  It was the norm, not the exception.  So I don't like to judge to quickly.

I'm sure I would have shot up, given the givens.

It takes a big man to say that.
Yes it does.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

This Whole Lichtenstein Business

Okay.  Disregard everything you've recently read here about this whole Lichtenstein Business.  The new caption reads, roughly:

"Making love to my wife ... and all I can think about is what a miserable little shit that Greg Smith is."


My Daily Routine, in a Nutshell

Click here.

Every day.  Every fucking day.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012


On some fundamental level I'll never forgive myself for the damage my divorce did to my children.  You deal (as do they), you compartmentalize, you move on, etc., but it never really goes away.  It's just in a box in the attic.  So when "D-I-V-O-R-C-E" popped out of the Tammy Wynette "radio" station that MOG defaulted to after finishing the album, I had to laugh a little bit.  What's the alternative?

I don't listen to much country and western music (although I'm looking forward to seeing Connie Britton, Friday Night Lights' Tammi Taylor, in tonight's Nashville pilot), but I had to think, Wow--THIS is country music...

Our little boy is four years old and quite a little man
So we spell out the words we don't want him to understand
Like T.O.Y or maybe S.U.R.P.R.I.S.E
But the words we're hiding from him now
Tear the heart right out of me.

Our D.I.V.O.R.C.E becomes final today
Me and little J.O.E will be goin' away
I love you both and it will be pure H.E double L for me
Oh, I wish that we could stop this D.I.V.O.R.C.E.

Watch him smile, he thinks it Christmas
Or his 5th Birthay
And he thinks C.U.S.O.T.D.Y spells fun or play
I spell out all the hurtin' words
And turn my head when I speak
'Cause I can't spell away this hurt
That's drippin' down my cheek.

Our D.I.V.O.R.C.E becomes final today
Me and little J.O.E will be goin' away
I love you both and it will be pure H.E double L for me
Oh, I wish that we could stop this D.I.V.O.R.C.E

I love the second stanza (You could see it coming a mile away, but still ... isn't that part of the charm?).  And the typographical error in the spelling of custody makes me laugh.

Right now they're playing Bluebird Wine by Emmylou Harris.  And I'm feeling better.

lost and found

Nobody likes Democrats more than me.  Maybe Bill Clinton.  Perhaps that funny looking man who's married to Mary Matalin.  But I'm up there.

That said, my studio directly abuts the local Democratic headquarters.  And they are a noisy bunch, let me tell you.  With perhaps the exception of the day after the recent presidential debate.

I'm impressed.
Dog!  Your restraint with the commas.
You talking about the whole 'perhaps' business?
I know.  The urge to write "With, perhaps, the exception of..." was almost overpowering.
I can almost taste the donuts.
Pardon me?
The donuts.  From the Commas Anonymous meeting.
I love the glazed ones.

In addition to sharing a wall, my space and theirs used to be one larger unit, divided by thin doors with painted-over glass panels.  Which, as it turns out were really plastic, but you get the idea.

Anyway, one day a week or so ago, somebody was pounding on the wall and accidentally pounded on the plexiglass pane, knocking it through.

So today the man came to fix things.  I wasn't sure if he was going to paint on my side, so I pulled St. Joan down as a precautionary measure ...

... and rolled it up.

Brief personal aside:  The general preference here is that I'm the only person dripping paint on my paintings.

Anyway, lo and behold, the painting I've been looking for for weeks was stapled to the wall beneath her.  Honestly, it got to the point that I was thinking I was going to have to unroll every painting in the archives to see if it was in there, mislabeled perhaps.  I'd show you a picture, but it's not ready for primetime just yet.

But now I'm good.  My relief is palpable.

And then there's this...

and this ....

Lordy, how much fun is this whole painting business?

The first one is a two by four canvas, stretched to exactly match the dimensions of the frame you see it filling in the second image.  I was in one of the local antique stores and got a deal on the frame that I couldn't refuse.  So I stretched this to fit.  I think it's gonna be my Lichtenstein tester painting.  It's called, tentatively, "Danny tells me his compensation package has never been bigger", or some such thing.  It's a testament to the return of Wall Street salaries to 2007 levels.

Thank God.  Because those boys were hurting.

Look at that image of the stretched canvas.  Boyoboy, there is nothing quite as crisp as a sharp, perfectly proportioned, clean white canvas.  Now you know why I paint women like St. Joan.

Classic proportions don't necessarily suggest 2'x4'.
I know.  But it's still lovely to look at.
The pics are a bit blurry.  Particularly the one in the frame.
iPhone.  I wonder if my new one will take a sharper image.

Quick note for you completists:  I'm listening to the "Stand By Your Man" album by Tammy Wynette.  It's really quite stunning.

Tuesday, October 09, 2012

The role of Scotch in a man's life

Do you capitalize Scotch?  Dunno, but for a man who drinks his fair share of Dewar's, I'm more of a thinker.  Than a doer.  Ironic, no?

There are those people who, when confronted by a problem, paint (assuming they are a painter) their way through it.  These we fondly call Dewar's.  People like Jackson Pollock, although he was more of a Schlitz guy with a whiskey chaser.


Me?  I tend to think these things to death before throwing the paint.  The current object of my obsession is how best to insert the word bubble in "Oh My God!  First Lehman ... Then Bear ... and now ... and now ME!"  I'm troubled by the change in texture between the heavily worked surface of my typical painting and the smoothness needed to render the copy in a clean, comic-book style graphic font.

My boy Roy, you see, really did work in 2-D.  This may seem obvious--I mean, you might say, isn't all painting 2-D?  But my paintings, for example, are aggressively three-dee.  The parameters of the third dimensions may be no more than an eighth of an inch, but that, for painting, is a lot.  Lichtenstein's stuff was truly flat.  FUH-LAT.  Flat.

Which is a problem, because if you've ever tried to write neatly over my stuff, even if it's been gessoed to death.  Well let me tell you, it's a problem.

Can't blog anymore.  Back to thinking.

Note to Jets Nation

We lost, but we were not embarrassed.

As opposed to the Cavalier Nation.  I'm sure you, dear reader (as does everybody by now), know that Virginia lost to Duke by some God-awful number.



Thursday, October 04, 2012

Ach du Lieber!!!

Michael Schumacher is retiring!

Michael is actually kind of a jerk.  But what he did for Ferrari must never be forgotten.

Personal note:  Imagine driving that thing.  And this was before the aerodynamics on the front wing got really complicated.

Wednesday, October 03, 2012

The Presidential Debate

I'm watching the debate but I've muted the television and I'm listening to "Blues", a posthumously-released collection of Jimi Hendrix outtakes and one-offs (plus a couple of famous ones), really loud.  These are the lyrics to Catfish Blues, a Muddy Waters song, the way Jimi sings it:





Enigmatic, yes?  Particularly the penultimate line.  Regardless, I, too, wish I was a catfish.

Tuesday, October 02, 2012

America. The Beautiful.

One good thing about music is that when it hits you feel okay.

One good thing about living in Troy is that you can generally walk up to a group of strangers and say something nasty about the Republican party and everybody will pretty much smile and nod their heads.

Central Virginia?  Not so much.

I found myself on the grounds of the University of Virginia on Saturday, parked outside the stadium, having a beer and some snacks before going inside to watch the football game.  My traveling companion was 26 years old.  She was a child of my first marriage.  I'd reason to believe we both would be received in Graceland, but for the time being, we were in Charlottesville.

Dave and Earl were there too, making a foursome for the game, and we had been joined by two people I didn't know; friends of Earl's dropping by to say hello and chew the fat in a southern sort of a way.  And then, out of the blue, a bunch of police motorcycles pull up not twenty feet from us.  And two big black SUVs.  And then, lo and behold, out of one of them pops a guy with a thing in his ear.  And following him comes Eric Cantor.

Satan himself, some could argue.
Some could, yes.  Others might go with House Majority Leader.
Not me.
Or Representative from Virginia's 7th congressional district.
I'm going with Beelzebub.
What do you even care?  You're from Greece.
Fair enough.  And we do have our own problems just now.  But that doesn't mean I don't take an interest in United States politics.  It's such a cluster fuck -- how can you not watch?

Anyway, out pops the House Majority Leader and we all turn to see.  I, in a bit of jest, peer theatrically into the satchel that holds the snacks and announce something along the lines of "Good news!  I've got a rotten tomato right here."

At which point the two people I don't know turn and glare at me.  "He's my Congressman and I like him" says the guy.

Dave, to his ever lasting credit, says something like: "He's my Congressman too.  I've never voted for him and I never will."

Meaghan didn't give a shit as near as I could tell.

Earl, always one to shy away from a political debate, remained mum.

Did you know Ba'al Zebub is variously understood to mean "Lord of demon flies" or "Lord of the heavenly dwelling?"
I did not.  Wow--interesting mix.
Yeah.  I guess it depends on your political leaning.

Back from the road

More on that later.  In the meantime, a couple of items.


James Burke, former head of Johnson & Johnson and the mover and shaker behind their famous tampered-Tylenol recall, died yesterday.  I can tell you, from an insider's perspective, the day Burke stepped down from hands-on management duties at J&J was a black one.  Because the next day, give or take a couple of years or so, the oily little shits who took over the corner offices started jumping one shark then another.  And a one-time wonderful company morphed into something entirely less attractive.


Those of you who've followed my career closely will remember the brief time that I was regularly publishing cartoons in Oncology Times.  My favorite was two oncologists on the beach, sitting in lounge chairs under a palm tree, drinking drinks with umbrellas in them.  One says to the other:

Curious how Americans, unlike Europeans, resist fine needle aspiration of the prostate without anesthetic.

And the other one replied:

Curious indeed.

God Almighty, that was a cartoon.

And finally, the philosophical notion that life's just one big circle?

I am fully hung-ho on my Lichtenstein-esque Wall Street paintings.  The caption for the first one should read:

Before he died, Daddy told me never to sell the Bear stock.  Now I'm ruined!

Or something like that.  The only short-term snag is that I think the right size for the things is six by six, but the widest canvas I have in the studio is a bit shy of that.  I can do 5x5, and maybe will for the first one, but I think they need to be bigger.  Half the genius of Lichtenstein was the notion of blowing up to massive dimensions what would ordinarily be tiny frames in a cartoon strip.  So they need to be monumental.  Not that 6x6 is monumental, exactly, but it's a lot bigger than 5x5.

Ask them how many 6x6 paintings they own.
Because the answer, in most cases will be zero.  So it's monumental enough for the average Joe.
The average Joe can't afford them.
Then the average arbitrageur.  
Okay.  I'll ask them the next time I talk to them.
You're talking to them right now.

Okay.  How many of you, Dear Readers, particularly those of you engaged in the practice of exotic banking, have a painting that's six feet square or larger?  Submit your  answers by checking the correct box below:

O    Zero
O    One
O    Two
O    Three or more

Perhaps you should tell them that they can't actually "check" any of those boxes.  The table is simply typed and in no way interactive.
I think they'll figure that out pretty quickly without me saying anything.
It's your blog, man, but nobody wants frustrated readers.
And those, just for the record, aren't "boxes" that they can't check.  They're circles.
Okay.  Anything else?