Thursday, January 31, 2013

Satan Rears Her Head

thus, the new McLaren ...

God help us all.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Esophageal dysphagia ...

... is, as most of you know, a swallowing disorder.

There are a number of companies that create foods for people with the condition.  A variety of flavors, some alarming, in the consistency of somewhere between pudding and oatmeal.  Years ago, one such company was my client.

Dutifully I tried the various products.  PB&J was pretty good.  Beef stew was okay.  Tuna fish sandwich was where I drew the line.

Add now to this, dear friends, Cobb salad from the Cheesecake Factory.

I say this because I had the opportunity to eat at the Cheesecake Factory the other night.  You may have one in a mall near you, or you may have heard of it because Penny, the thinking man's cutie on The Big Bang Theory, works at one.  Just for the record, the Cheesecake Factory they depict on the show doesn't begin to match the grandeur of the actual thing.

Anyway, there I sat with a friend as the waitress lay the salad before me.  A Cobb salad should be a thing of terrible beauty (just like Ty Cobb, its namesake); a fierce, roiling sea of chunks of chicken, bacon, crumbled blue cheese, avocado, hard-boiled egg, lettuce and some other stuff.  Mmmmm.  I like mine with a mixture of vinaigrette and blue cheese dressing.

What they gave me at the CF appeared to have been run through a food processor.  Not once but twice, then sort of squirted on the plate, on what appeared to be a layer of puree'd hard boiled eggs.  I swear to God, an ounce of liquid and the thing would have been soup.  Chewing was hardly necessary.  I'm disinclined to order another (although the stuff my friend was eating looked okay).

Which is not to say that all food in malls is bad.  Somewhat unusually, I ate a meal in a mall two straight days.  First the CF.  Second Johnnie Rockets.  And I like Johnnie Rockets.  I like the fact that you can get a fried egg on top of your burger.  Which is a nice, straightforward presentation of a fast-food, griddle-cooked burger with relish, onion, lettuce, and tomato.  Fries on the side.  Egg on top.  Vanilla shake.

Life is good.

The reason I wax so rhapsodic is that one of my basic food groups in college was the Gusburger.    Urban Dictionary, of all things, offers this:

A burger with a fried egg put on as a topping. Made best at the White Spot in Charlottesville, Va. Very good, very greasy.
"Oh Man, i just had a gus Burger and now i am completely full

Me?  I don't understand why they don't capitalize Gus.  Also I'm not sure if it's one word or two. My gut says one. But let me tell you, in my younger days it was a hell of a good thing.  I liked it with a side of macaroni salad and a glass of milk.

The Gusburger they currently serve is so vastly inferior to what I used to eat that I've stopped going to the White Spot on my trips to Charlottesville.  I, likely unfairly, attribute this to the inverse stupidification of the University of Virginia.

Inverse stupidification?  Odd phrase.
You're not familiar?
It's an academic term.  It refers to the phenomenon of diminishing the quality of a University by insisting on accepting only really smart kids.
Like Duke?
(gasp)  Thank God we haven't gotten to that point.  Duke's problems are significantly more daunting than just inverse stupidification.
But still, the point holds.
To a degree.  I liken it more to physicians.
Yeah.  People who got into med school, the obvious route to becoming a doctor, were typically the ones who jammed their heads into a science book at age 16 and didn't come out for ten years.  
So you end up with a lot of highly-trained, high-functioning idiots; retards (although I dislike that word, and myself for using it) in positions of significant power.
And (I promise you this as someone who has seen it from the inside) since the pharmaceutical and insurance companies are really in charge of medicine in the United States, maybe it would have been a better idea to let some of the better-rounded kids get to be doctors.
Send the really smart kids to Goldman Sachs.
Exactly.  How much trouble can they get into there?

The point being, friends, that if they still let normal kids into UVa, there would be an uprising against what they now call a Gusburger that would rival the scene in front of Dr. Frankenstein's castle.  Back in the day.

In the skies above the Rotunda, a witch would write "Surrender Dorothy."

It would literally be that intense.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

I See a Red Door and Want to Paint It Black Slash A Moment of Silence

Surely you watch Downton Abbey?  If you are behind, avert your glance.  On the other hand, if you watched the most recent episode you saw Lady Sybil die in childbirth.

A moment of silence, please ...

Thank you.

Maggie Smith had a nice line:

“When tragedy strikes, we try to find somebody to blame. And in the absence of a suitable candidate, we usually blame ourselves. You are not to blame. Nobody is to blame. Our darling Sybil has died during childbirth, like too many women before her. And all we can do now is cherish her memory and her child.”

Talk amongst yourselves.  I'm verklempt.

Be Still My Freakin Heart

Sounds like a country western song.

But no, dear reader.  It's the sound I make when the Formula 1 community begins unveiling their fantastical new machines.

 As the sharp-eyed amongst you may be able to tell, it's a Lotus.

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

The mind reels, doesn't it?  My only quibble isn't about the car, but the tires (something Lotus has no control over -- they all run identical Pirelli tires).  Were it me, I'd depict the Pirelli logo in the same curve as the stripe and the rest of the lettering on the tire.

And look:  CNBC is a sponsor.

Surely by now you've seen The Hobbit...

Based on previous accomplishments, I completely trust Peter Jackson with all things Middle Earth.  So it was with a good deal of confidence that I took my stupid 3-D glasses from the ticket guy and strode into the Colonie Center cinema, Theater #5 (for you completists), to see The Hobbit.

The good news is that I thought it was lovely.  My initial annoyance at stretching a 250 page book into seven-plus hours of movies, stretched out over what I'm assuming is two more years, quickly faded away.  Faded away, I should say, at least until the movie ended and I realized I'd have to wait a year just to see the middle part.

Brief personal aside:  You could probably read The Hobbit aloud in less time than it will take to watch all three movies end-to-end.  I'm just saying.

My only beef is that I thought the showcase battle scene between a dozen or so dwarves, one wizard and one hobbit (I'm just reporting here -- I don't believe these things actually exist) and about ten thousand goblins and/or orcs was a bit dumbed down for my taste.  A bit too much Indiana Jones at several points.

That's a quibble, though, and I'm giving it a B+.  Deductions made for this whole trilogy business, plus cartoonish violence.  There are, however, any number of wonderful moments for people who like J.R.R. Tolkein.

I leave now for Zero Dark Thirty.

Monday, January 28, 2013


This stands, obviously, for "Krugman and Keynes are oKay."  At least in my book.  Are you with me?

Me?  I'm a virulent Keynesian.  Like Barack Obama I was born in Kenya, so that accounts for some of it.  But not all.  There's room for clear thinking in the world, friends.

I bring this up because I just finished watching my boy Paul Krugman on Morning Joe.  Mozart's finest concerto couldn't have sounded any sweeter.  And he thought his music came out of the instruments and directly to heaven.

I remember when I painted Black and White Krugman, thinking to myself:  Manoman, they are going to tear this guy to shreds.  And they did.

To quote Don Corleone as he offered the body of Sonny to the undertaker, "Look what they done to my boy..."

"Spanish Revolution for Real Democracy" is a favorite, albeit arguably a bit off-subject.  On the very bottom of the painting, "Fuck Krugman.  He's not worth our input."

Oy.  Not a lot of love for Pauly Walnuts.  I think it's time to revisit this ...

Because most of the people who buy my paintings think Keynes is full of shit, I -- being either a coward or a business man who's hypersensitive to his market -- tend to soft-pedal the guy.

No more.

It is time for courage.  Granted, I am going to paint him upside down, and call it "Inverted Keynes", but only because I'm either a coward or a business man who'se hypersensitive to my market.

But I'm gonna paint the man.

The Commentariat Weighs In

We're having a contest here at TYOMP designed to stimulate the Commentariat.  Every month we'll identify the cleverest comment and that person (we'll keep him anonymous, for his own protection, but he'll know who he is) will receive a genuine work of art, valued at between $60,000 and $120,000.

You're gonna lose your shirt with this promotion.  Why not give just them a poster, or a signed paint stick or something?
The secret is volume.

So, January's winner is:

Another thing we have in common.  I also couldn't bear the thought of a needle in my mouth and eschewed novocaine.  I would, in other words, transcend dental medication.

He/she was commenting on the post titled "Silence of the Lambs" in which I discussed my discomfort with the novocaine needle.   Ha!  Even though there are several days left in January I feel confident that nobody's gonna come up with anything as strong as that.

Congratulations to the winner.  To the rest of you, let this person be an inspiration to all you lurkers.

You should offer that guy a job writing the blog.
You think?
Sure.  He seems comfortable slinging the same crap you do.  He seems to have a handle on the smirking, self-satisfied feel to his copy that characterizes The Year of Magical Painting.
Not that there's anything wrong with that.
Not at all.
But 'crap' seems like a strong word.
Maybe.  I could go with 'garbage' or 'vile effluent'.
Really?  Those are my options?

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Feelings of inadequacy

In the post titled "The Silence of the Lambs" I say something like this:

Geographic Disclosure:  For those of you not completely in the loop, my studio is located next to a pediatric dental office.

I feel diminished by those words.

I mean, you should see Gerhard Richter's studio.  Likewise his wife, but that's a different story.

And when was the last time you heard of Picasso or Matisse painting next to a dentist?

The whole thing shakes me up a bit.  Makes me feel diminished.  In a shallow sort of a way.

The 2nd Amendment is a Funny Thing.

It does guarantee the right to bear arms, at least within certain limits, yet it says nothing about discarding cigarette butts wherever one has a mind to.  A failing, to my mind, because as near as I can tell, people -- smokers -- feel like they have an absolute constitutional right to just throw the damned things down wherever they please.

Like that's not littering?

For some reason, the sidewalk outside my building's front door hasn't been cleared of the recent snow.  It was an interesting snow this time around -- one of those snows for which the Inuit likely have a specific word -- and the sidewalk is covered with a thin but tenacious layer of dry, granular  snow.  Pretty.  Not very slippery, actually.  I'm not complaining, except to say that it's festooned with discarded, now mashed, cigarette butts.

Personally, these things disgust me.  Years ago, back when you could smoke in restaurants, I used to be a waiter.  And the number of people who thought it was okay to put their cigarette out in the uneaten husk of their baked potato astonished me.  Revolted would be a better word.  Literally made me want to vomit.

And I have to clean that shit up?

A better man than me would have picked his nose and put the detritus in their cheesecake.  I was too much of a coward for that level of civil disobedience.

Anyway, I look down at this lovely white sidewalk and think there should be a constitutional amendment about what one can and can't do with one's cigarette.  Once you've sucked all the nutrients out of the thing.

Perhaps watching my mother smoke herself to death has made me too sensitive.  Or else, to quote Bob Dylan, I'm getting old.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

In the Belly of the Beast

In the name of opposition research, I joined the NRA.

With my membership, I had a choice of two magazines (meaning publications, not the things you put bullets in), the hunter's magazine and the political one.  I chose the latter.  Plus I got a hat.

I didn't like giving them my $25, but I thought it might be good to hear both sides of the argument.  Plus, I was at the gun show, and manoman I fit right in wearing this.

It's kind of like, when you hit a commercial in the middle of the Rachel Maddow Show, you switch to FOX just to see what kind of craziness those knuckleheads are spouting.
That's exactly what it's like.  I can't wait to get my first magazine.

Oh!  Check this unbelievably nasty boy out:

The mind literally reels.

I apologize for the crappy photo, but my flash was off.  And besides that, my hand was shaking with desire.  $500 for a pistol-grip, pump-action, 10-round, (nine in the box, one in the hole), 12-gauge shotgun.

The one I'm talking about is the gun in the center of the frame.  The thing on the bottom of the pump grip is a light.  You can set it to bright white or to strobe.  Strobe, I was told, confuses whoever it is that has broken into your house.

During this period of confusion, as I understand it, you blast them into several pieces.

The last time I shot a shotgun was a couple of summers ago.  When doing so, it's always a good idea to put your shoulder into it so as to best manage the recoil.  Of which there is a fair amount. Honestly, call me a pussy but I can't imagine shooting one with just that pistol grip.  Maybe it's easier than I'm thinking, but Lord have mercy.

The good news?  You can buy a stock that attaches to the back.  But Dog, what's the fun in that?

Lawyers Guns and Money

I leave shortly for the Albany gun show.  I felt, as your designated representative, that it would be a good idea to go and see what all the shouting was about.

Your smug liberalism when it comes to gun control makes me want to vomit.
I ran into someone at the toga store the other day, and she said it wasn't so much that assault rifles, as such, should remain legal, or likewise high-capacity magazines, but that banning these things is simply another step towards rendering the 2nd Amendment moot.
Well that strikes me as a complete load of shit.  An hysterical response to a non-existent problem.  
Is it "an" or "a"?
Never been sure.  When you read it aloud, I always feel like "an" sounds better.
You do?  Would you say "an hippopotomus"?
No.  But I would say "an hour".
Yeah, but that one's easy.  The H is silent.
Fair enough.  But I would say that if you say "an hysterical" quickly, the H is virtually silent.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Mean-spirited Humor

Hurricane Sandy hit the west side of Manhattan like a ton of bricks.  The Chelsea gallery district took a horrendous hit in particular.

A while back, a friend of mine sent me a picture of his brother standing in front of one of those huge Richard Phillips paintings in the 24th St. Gagosian gallery.  I then modified it to this ...

I share it with you now because some of the emotional impact of the storm has subsided.  And who is better equipped to take a hit than Larry?

God forgive me.

Suicidal Ideation

What's wrong with me?

I understand that it's an extensive list.  The specific flaw I'm referring to is the fact that it's maybe twelve degrees out and I've been staring at this photo for quite a few seconds ...

Taken with my iPhone outside my building some time this summer, I would describe my desire to own this exact motorcycle as ... as ... well, there's no polite description.  To paraphrase The Kinks, I'm dying to get at it.

I particularly like the blacked-out exhaust.

Are you familiar with the term suicidal ideation?  It's a psychiatric term for thinking of killing yourself; sometimes thought to be a precursor for actually trying to do so.  Certainly a red flag for shrinks everywhere.

Me?  Remain calm -- I have no particular interest in killing myself.  But you could argue that the lusting after this thing, this black Harley-Davidson V-Rod, this rocket ship of a motorcycle, this reincarnation of the Hammer of Thor, is a sort of suicidal ideation.  Can't you?  I mean, surely I would be either dead or close to it within days of buying the thing.  Government-mandated helmet not withstanding.

I had you pegged as a Ducati guy.

For you completists, I'm wearing my Triumph Motorcycles t-shirt and a cardigan sweater as I type this.  I'm listening, of all things, to No Doubt sing "I'm just a girl."

What's wrong with me?

Brief personal recollection:  I was watching an interview with a famous motorcycle racer once and the interviewer asked him what his most important work-out was.  He said hands and forearms.  Why? he was asked.  Because, he explained, when you put the hammer down the bike is leaving, whether you're coming with it or not.

This made a big impression on me.  Not so dissimilar to the common phenomenon in the arts where the project (painting, book, music, whatever) appears to take over the creative act and you, the artist, are simply along for the ride.

Can a phenomenon be common?
Dunno.  But you hear about it all the time.
Is Lindsay Lohan a phenomenon?  You hear all about her all the time.
That's different.  

I wonder if Richard Phillips felt that way when he painted this.
I doubt it.
Suddenly I want to go to the beach.
Me too.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The Weather ...

I've got the heat on full-blast and it's still too cold to spend much time in the studio.  Extended forecast?  12, 14, 18, 20, 22 degrees.  And these are the predicted highs.  It's 6 degrees right now.

Beyonce Conspiracy Theory ...

Knowing full well (given that she recorded it earlier) that the next part of the song was a disaster, Beyonce rips the ear-monitor out of her ear at the 1:25 mark to suggest that: a) something is wrong with the monitor, and b) thereby creating an excuse for the off-key caterwauling to come.

If history teaches us nothing, we still know that it's not the criminal act that gets you, it's the cover-up.

Let the Piling On Commence ...

Beyonce singing the National Anthem has served up quite the national scandal.  Specifically, people are troubled that she was lip-syncing the song to a pre-recorded version ...

Me?  The lip-syncing/pre-recorded business doesn't bother me at all. What troubles me is that she agreed to such a lousy recording.  I thought she lost her way at about the 1:25 mark, when she pulled her ear monitor out.  The odd thing is, if the song wasn't being performed live, why'd she even have an ear monitor?  And then why'd she take it out?  And then why'd she massacre a good portion of the rest of the song?

I hope James Taylor was playing it live.  It seemed like it, but who knows.  Hell, even if he'd screwed it up, nobody would have cared.  It was like twenty degrees out there, so a man gets a break with the guitar playing and the singing.  Same break goes to Beyonce, if we're counting.

Very nice.  Who doesn't like James Taylor?  I saw him on Charlie Rose yesterday and he made passing mention to wanting to, but not actually, singing a different verse.  The one that goes ...

O beautiful for pilgrim feetWhose stern impassioned stressA thoroughfare of freedom beatAcross the wilderness!America! America!God mend thine every flaw,Confirm thy soul in self-control,Thy liberty in law!

First of all, the urge to sing "Confirm thy soul in gun-control" would have utterly overpowered me.  That's why they don't invite me to sing at things like this.  Second, those last two lines are quite wonderful, given the times we live in.

Confirm thy soul in self-control,Thy liberty in law!

I like the idea of liberty being confirmed in law.  I take this as a rare opportunity to join with Tony Scalia in suggesting that the vast majority, if not all, of the proposed gun-control legislation is both lovely and perfectly constitutional.  And if the Supreme Court says something is constitutional, it's constitutional.  Because that's how the Constitution works.

So, dear readers, you can exist in a state of liberty, as defined by the Constitution of the United States, and still not be able to buy fucking assault rifles.

So shut up.
You're referring, I assume, to District of Columbia v. Heller?
Yes.  What else would I be referring to?
You've studied this decision in depth?
Of course I have.  I assume everyone has.
Everyone probably has, with perhaps the exception of all those people who attend anti-gun-control rallies and hold up signs and chant about constitutionally-mandated liberties like folding stocks, high-capacity magazines and armor-piercing bullets.
Nicely said.  Probably everybody but those people.

And you're not allowed to shout "Fire" in a crowded movie theater either.  And you have to wear your God-damned seatbelt.  So suck it.

I went upstairs ...

... and took a picture of my parka.

Canada Goose Arctic Program.

Specifically, the Expedition Parka.  Good to thirty below, which makes seven above feel like a cakewalk.  Except on your face, hands, legs and feet.  I'm told that's coyote fur, about which I have mixed feelings.

Well, I hope somebody ate that coyote after they skinned it.
Mmmmm.  Coyote makes for some good eating.
How should I know?  I'm Greek.

This coat is so warm that you can't wear it unless it's near freezing.  You'll cook.

The Silence of the Lambs


I'm sitting here, typing in the studio.  Don't have any music on, and through the wall I can hear a child screaming its bloody head off.  I mean screaming.

Geographic disclosure:  If you're not completely in the loop, my studio is next to a pediatric dentist's office.

I can honestly say that, other than some horror movies I've seen, I don't know when the last time I heard quite this much continuous screaming from one person.  As a point of fact, the kid started screaming when I started typing this post and it continues even now.

I just got back from seeing "Lincoln" -- which I enjoyed very much -- and it reminded me of how one might suppose a man might scream when they started sawing off his leg in the aftermath of Antietam or Gettysburg or Vicksburg.

They give you a shot of Evan Williams and a piece of wood to bite on.  Four guys hold you down and the doc starts to saw off your leg.  At first you're shouting "No.  No.  NO!"  But that's no help.  Then you just start screaming.  The pain; the dread; the loss; the horror -- it all comes up from your soul and out your mouth.  That kind of screaming.  Screaming til you pass out kind of screaming.

It stopped a moment ago.  Thank God.

I'm one of those people who has a bit of dentist anxiety.  For me it's all about the novocaine needle.  As a young man I disliked that needle so much that I went through a period of time when I had a couple of cavities filled without novocaine.

Bad idea, but still.

All of which makes me wonder what's going through the heads of the little children waiting in the dentist's lobby for their turn in the chair.

The Inauguration and My Goose Down Parka

Did you ever see that Liam Neeson movie about the plane crash in Alaska and the wolves?  I bring it up because it's seven degrees here in Troy and I've been wearing my goose-down parka.  The exact same model, it should be noted, as the one Neeson wore when wrestling with the wolves.  Something about Canadian Goose Expeditions, or something like that.  Maybe Canadian Goose Down.  Not sure.

My younger daughter and I attended the first Obama inauguration.  Four years ago, plus a day.   It was, honestly, quite a memorable experience.

It was unbelievably cold then too, but I managed to survive more or less intact, in large part because of the poor Canadian geese who died to keep me warm.  God blessum.  My daughter, on the other hand, was frozen solid.  We had to drive back to New York with her tied to the top of the car, a la Mitt Romney's dog, because we couldn't bend her enough to get her inside.

All of which brings me to watching Barack and Michelle dancing at those two balls.  I don't know about you, but it makes me uncomfortable.  Get a room, man.

To my mind, there's two kinds of dancing:  The first kind is where you interact with the audience, like on Dancing with the Stars or one of those Fred and Ginger videos.  Dancing as performance.  This is dancing made to be watched.

The second kind is when you're slow dancing with your sweetie.  You may be in a room full of people also dancing, but there's a privacy to the thing.  An intimacy.  It's like how you can have the most personal conversation in the world in the middle of a busy New York restaurant.  The restaurant may be packed, but it's just the two of you.  And people respect your privacy, even if they're only six inches away.

That's how the Obamas dance.

And watching them do it felt a little voyeuristic.  A bit intrusive.  Creepy.  Although maybe I'm making too much of it.

That would be a first.
Blow me.

The point being, there's got to be a better way to ring in a new president.  That said, Michelle looked way better this time around.  This from the first inauguration ...

I always thought she looked like she'd been swallowed by a goose or something.  Bjorkian, if you will ...

(Not to be confused with Borkian)

Here's Obama 2.0.  Better dress for sure.  Plus, she was rocking those new bangs.  No wonder Barack is smiling all the time.

One thing I did like about the inauguration was Joe Biden's public love-fest as he walked from the White House to the Capital.  Shaking everybody's hand, feeling the moment.  Good for Joe -- I'm totally voting for him next time around.

Anyway, people were thrilled when he shook their hand.  Under the category of coming up lame, the only Vice President's hand I ever shook was Spiro Agnew's.

Don't ask.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Because Attention Must Be Paid

Does the name Olivia Munn mean anything to you?  She's an actress with a recurring role on the Aaron Sorkin/HBO show NewsHour.  She's been in a few movies too, and looks like this.  Which isn't a bad way to look ...

But her real claim to fame is her lengthy stint as co-host of the two-days-from-being-defunct, super-low-budget, slacker-talk-show called 'Attack of the Show' -- a program I was drawn into during my immersive exploration of the video game culture.

Don't ask.  Thank God I got out alive.

Anyway, Catherine Deneuve once said she was a good actress because she wasn't afraid to be ugly.  I always admired Ms. Munn's willingness to do literally anything.  This clip would be the zenith of that ...

I would urge you to fast forward to the 1:30 mark -- the part where they start taking shots (the stuff before it is stupid).  If you are in a certain demographic (unemployed, dis-enfranchised males, ages 15-30, plus me for academic reasons), the show, and particularly this segment, is legendary.  Numerous sources have confirmed that those actually are shots of Cholula Hot Sauce.  It is also worth noting that when they came back from commercial, Ms Munn was unable to continue and someone substituted for her for the remainder of the show.

Can you imagine?  To this day I remain moved by the look on her face after the 9th or 10th shot.

Because the show specialized in inappropriate adolescent humor, the two of them live-tweeted their physical reactions to the experience later in the evening.  I'll spare you that, but if you google #redhotpooper you can get the gist.

You're just doing this to make up for your mean-spirited rant of yesterday, aren't you?
Yes I am. 

Monday, January 21, 2013

80 Posts To Go

I love all these benchmarks.  This is the 1,920th post on The Year of Magical Painting.  Eighty more until I hit the ton.

Quick math:  2,000 posts.  Assume 1,000 words per post.  Two million words.  Wow.

Dog!  There's no way your posts average a thousand words.
Not actual words.  I'm adding a thousand-word score for each picture.  
That whole "A picture is worth..." thing.
Oh right.  That whole business.
Exactly.  And given that, I think two million is a bit low.
Maybe so.
Makes 'War and Peace' feel like a tidy little thing, doesn't it?
Yes it does.

Enron Falls, in All its Majesty

There must be a better way to do this.

And one more thing regarding this whole de Kooning business...

One thing I can almost promise you about this picture.  Seriously.  When guys like de Kooning close their eyes, they are thinking about work.  He's thinking about something like this ...

Which brings me to this:  I work seven days a week, barring travel days.  One of my friends once suggested that I'm retired.  This annoyed me.  I can't remember the last day I've been in Troy and not been in the studio.  The curse of this line of work is that you never retire.  And you never stop thinking about the work.  Except perhaps during Knicks games.

I'm not complaining -- there are numerous benefits.  In fact, if I started to list them you'd just get pissed off.  But don't think you have any real idea about what the relationship between my life and my work is (I don't say this in a hostile or defensive way, just as an observation; a suggestion of fact).

Because you, dear reader, don't know what it's like.  Just because I write this blog full of insouciance (whatever that is), self-deprecating humor and general, breezy, this-ing and that-ing and la-di-dah, you think it's easy.  You don't understand that it's like jumping off an eight-story building every day.

I thought it was twelve stories.
That's de Kooning.  He was a better painter than me.

The Illium Cafe and the Jerk Pork Dumpling I had for Breakfast

I try to eat breakfast at the Illium Cafe every day.  Sure, sometimes there are complications.  Like Hurricane Sandy.  But most of the time I'm there.  For those who don't fully understand the topography of my life, I live on the third floor, my studio is on the second floor and the Illium is on the first.  So where else am I going to eat breakfast?

I use it as a way to compose my thoughts before entering the studio.  Plus eat breakfast.  Plus drink a tank-load of coffee.  Plus read The Times.

For a long time, the staff would see me staring into the distance, as I typically do when thinking about work, and think something was wrong.  I think they've gotten used to it now, but they still come over sometimes, thinking I need something when I actually don't.  Particularly the new ones.

Which is great.  It's better than the alternative, which is they don't come over at all and you're out of coffee.

Here's a picture of Willem de Kooning and his then-girlfriend Ruth Kligman.  Kligman's claim to fame was that she dated Jackson Pollock (and was the only surviver of the car wreck that killed him) before de Kooning.

De Kooning once said, roughly:  "They don't know what it's like.  They think it's easy.  They don't know it's like jumping off a 12-story building everyday."

My guess is that, in the picture, de Kooning is thinking about the building, and Kligman is thinking about how much she looks like Elizabeth Taylor.

He might be thinking about the time Pollock peed in Peggy Guggenheim's fireplace.
Yes he might.

This is my favorite picture of Elizabeth Taylor ever ...

I like it because you don't think of Elizabeth Taylor as a dancer.  You think of her as a stationary object.  A fixed force of nature.  Not one who might burst into pirouettes.  Plus, look at that neck!

Anyway, staring into the distance is half the fucking job.  If you ever see me do it, don't be alarmed.  Or think I'm emotionally unstable.  Or think that I'm looking at you.  Some people don't like being looked at.

Not to worry -- I'm looking through you.

Oh God.  Now, I suppose, is the time for the obligatory Beatles lyrics.
Fuck you.
No, fuck you.  
I can't believe you think it's okay to just take the wind out of my sails like that.
I speak on behalf of the 103-thousand people who have been to this blog.  We're sick of the fucking Beatles.
(gasp)  I'm putting my fingers in my ears.
Good luck typing like that.

I had a fried jerk pork and goat cheese dumpling at the Illium the other day.  I can't stop thinking about it.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

The White Whale

I just watched the 1956 version of Moby-Dick with Gregory Peck as Ahab. Fabulous. And full of religious imagery. Thus this thought:

If there is a God in Heaven, please don't let the Patriots win.

That said, I'm so sick of the Christian version of Ray Lewis that the spectacle of him going to the Super Bowl also nauseats me.  I vastly preferred the raging maniac version.

So I don't know what to think. Where the hell is Peyton?

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Fun event if you're in NYC next weekend...

Postcards from the Edge.  An AIDS fundraiser held at Sikkema Jenkins & Co -- 530 W 22nd.  Google it for additional details.

Last year I submitted this ...

Compelling, no?

You can tell it's "hand-made" by the irregular shape of the paper.  It's supposed to be a rectangle, like most every other postcard you've ever seen.  But I got sidetracked for just a moment and it came out like this.

Like an idiot I missed the deadline this year.  Which was annoying, since it's a good cause and going to the event (the single most jammed gallery I've ever been in; I coujldn't believe the fire marshall didn't close the place down) is a giggle.

Also, I'm turning over a new leaf.  Surely you remember Clint Eastwood saying "A man's got to know his limitations."?  Well, I'm coming to grips with one of mine.  Namely, my right hand's insistence on inserting a 'j' in the middle of words like coujld (Shit, it actually just happened again; not on purpose--I swear), or would (now I'm typing more carefully).

So from now on, if I type coujld wrong, I'm not gonna correct it.  I'm gonna embrace it.

Gratuitous nudity

Here's another painting with breasts in it ...

I'm not sure this is your finest moment.
No, likely not.  But it does have a certain jauntiness, and it's fun going back in the archives and scrounging around.
Interesting crop.  Looks like an old Polaroid.
That would be cool.  Here's Liza Minnelli shot by Andy Warhol.  An actual Polaroid, for those people who've never seen one.

That would be even cooler, wouldn't it.
Yes it would.  

I'm a Lover, Not a Hater

This isn't going to be another post about Lance Armstrong, is it?
Yes it is.
Gaaaad.  I'm so sick of this.  Can't we just go back to close-ups of nipples and detailed descriptions of your time in Vietnam?
Which, as you'll remember, was zero.
I know.  But I love reading that stuff.
So no more Lance stuff?  The man is insufferable.
Okay, just this last one.
Then no more?
No more, other perhaps than a passing mention every once in a while.
And in July, for the duration of the Tour, I retain my right to say anything I like about Lance, at any length I choose.
Of course.  It's Le Tour.
Yes it is.
Okay.  Go ahead.

Last post about Lance:

I forgive him.  I'm a lover, not a hater, and I've just decided to forgive the man.  Not forget, but forgive.  And move on.

There, that wasn't so bad was it?
No.  I admire your brevity.
It's the soul of wit.
Interesting you should say that, since you're a guy who likes to drag a joke out to the point of excruciating.
That's a different sort of wit.
Here's one of my famous mammogram paintings ...

Compelling, no?
Thank God!  We're back to nipples!

Friday, January 18, 2013

The Needle and the Damage Done

Before we start, it should be noted that every junkie is like the setting sun.

You have to understand that I've watched the Tour de France devotedly for at least the last ten years.  I can't quite remember when I started, but I remember The Look, and that tells you enough.  And of those ten-plus years, I watched easily 90% of each race.  A given Tour is roughly three weeks long with two rest days; I might miss one day a year.  Between fifty and sixty hours in total.  Annually.

So I'm pretty committed.

Last night I invested another three hours watching Lance talk to Oprah.  Twice.

The first time through I decided that, since he was an arrogant, lying prick, I'd not actually listen to what he had to say but instead watch the show with the sound down and music on the stereo.  Just to get a feel for the thing, you understand.

Kind of like watching The Wizard of Oz while listening to Dark Side of the Moon.

The Needle and the Damage Done is two minutes long.  So I listened to it about 45 times on continuous loop.  I sat on my sofa channeling Glenn Close from Fatal Attraction, listening to the song, watching the TV, metronomically turning the light on and off at about a two second interval.

They rebroadcast the interview a second time and I listened to that one with the sound on, the music off, and the light on.

Wow.  How unsatisfactory on so many levels.

The second half of the interview airs tonight, so I'll hold off on my full report until then.  But it felt very much like here was a man engaged in a calculated marketing effort; a man feeling very little remorse for the extraordinary damage he did; and, for a guy who was supposed to be apologizing for telling a string of massive lies, a man who couldn't stop lying.

Lying might be the wrong word.  Parsing the truth might more accurately describe the process.  But in my soul of souls I believe some of it was outright lying too.

The one that bugged me the most was his suggestion that he was no different than anybody else in the peloton and he was just going along for the ride like everyone else.  One more Joe.  This I do not accept.

I leave now for a doctor's appointment.  Not to worry -- nothing of consequence, simply the rigorous maintenance of this magical vessel amongst which I sail the waters of life.  But before I go I'm opening my Kindle and downloading Tyler Hamilton's book "The Secret Race."  I would urge you to do the same.

As you long-time readers would expect, here are the lyrics to the Neil Young song

I caught you knockin'
At my cellar door
I love you, baby,
Can I have some more
Ooh, ooh, the damage done.

I hit the city and
I lost my band
I watched the needle
Take another man
Gone, gone, the damage done.

I sing the song
Because I love the man
I know that some
Of you don't understand
To keep from running out.

I've seen the needle
And the damage done
A little part of it in everyone
But every junkie's
Like a settin' sun.

We're all junkies, friends.  Just so we're clear.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

A pretty girl is like a waterfall, volume 2

You, of course, remember this ...

Enron Falls.

And my theory that a pretty girl is like a waterfall (best sung to the tune of "A Pretty Girl" by Irving Berlin).

I love photos of disrobed pregnant women.  And I don't blame her for wearing a top.  God blesser.  And likewise that little baby that looks like it's about ready to explode into the world.

I once painted my friend Natasha when she was eight and a half months in ...

 I call it "Tosha et al".  It was either that or "Benefits Supervisor (Pregnant)".  The kid you can't see is now two or three years old.  I wanted her to pose completely nude, but she felt more comfortable wearing a thong.

Which was fine.  It's her body, she can show it to whomever she wishes.  Or not.

I like this painting but I don't love it.  But I do love the nipple at the bottom.  The idea was that the top nipple would be all business.  I mean, a very straight-forward depiction of an anatomical feature.  The thinking with the bottom one was a kind of diaphanous, half-nipple/half-rose kind of a thing.

Picasso, who -- like the black and white cookie -- must be with us always, friends, was of the notion that you shouldn't paint a person's two eyes the same way.  One should be different from the other.  So this is something a bit like that.

You could argue that the color is a bit too technicolor for real life.  Fair enough, but I was also in love with the idea of all the reds almost matching -- the sofa, the nipple, the deep shadow, her lips, belly button, etc.

All that aside, drag the picture onto your desktop and enlarge it as far as it will go.  Scrounge around in it.  Luxuriate in its splendidness.

The other thing I really like is this ...

There's something about the transition from light to dark on her forearm that I love.  It almost looks like it was a photographic effect rather than the efforts of an artist at the zenith of his craft.  But what I really like is the thick black line that renders the underside of her arm and hand.  There isn't another line on the painting that looks like this one.

Just so we're clear, the image is a computer generated watercolor.  And the woman in the photograph is Shakira, a famous pop singer.

Fuck Lance

My boy John from the Catskills pointed this out to me.  I think it sums things up nicely.

Plus, look how big the video is!

Makes it a little hard to access the archives, but one of the things I've learned about blogging is that, before you know it, the post at the top is no longer the post at the top.

The meek shall inherit the earth.
And peace will guide the planets, And love will steer the stars.
Nicely said.

I'm under the impression this is from one of Carlin's final appearances.

The only thing I would add is "Fuck Rush Limbaugh."

As if that even needs to be said.
As if.
You should find that post you did about Donovan's Atlantis song.
Yes I should.

Monday, January 14, 2013


Picture yourself on a train in a station, with plasticine porters with looking glass eyes.

Okay, now imagine there's no heaven.  You can do it if you try.

Great.  Now envision being incarcerated and the first thing your cellmate -- who looks, by the way, like he used to play left tackle for the Cleveland Browns -- says to you is "Boy, you sure got a pretty mouth."  At which point you start sobbing and whining and banging on the bars and begging for mercy.

It's this last image that sticks in my head as I think about Lance sitting down with Oprah to confess his sins.  Apparently it happened earlier today, for a Thursday airing.  The very thought of it makes me want to vomit.


Could be wrong, of course, but I'm predicting one of those highly-parsed quasi-confessions full of partial answers and strategic demurrals (citing ongoing prosecution, blah, blah, blah).  We as a people are terrible at learning from history.  But it it's taught us anything, it's that "confessions" like these usually end up making things worse rather than better.  Witness Mark McGuire in front of the baseball commission.

How's that Hall of Fame thing going for you, Mark?

Me?  My assessment is that Lance is so arrogant, so delusionally self-righteous, that he's incapable of the sort of genuine remorse (both feeling it and expressing it) required to repair his public damage.  He's the sort of man for whom the act of apology doesn't come easily.

I hope it goes poorly for him.

Check this bad boy out ...

My favorite bike ever -- a circa-1995 Bianchi Tour bike.  It's a bad photo, but if you look closely you can see the entire tour route painted on the frame.  Plus the King of the Mountain polka-dots on the chain stays.

Unless it's a Roy Lichtenstein painting and not a bicycle at all.
It's a bike.  Trust me.

And while we're on happier notes, for once in your life just do what I tell you to and go to a site called paintingletour  Buy a painting.  They are beautiful.  I hadn't been there in quite a while and it makes me happy whenever I do.

Clarification:  Just so we're clear, I'm referring to Lance Armstrong, not Lance from the bar who hiked the Appalachian Trail.  Lance from the bar is okay.

Since we're talking bikes, here is a two-day synopsis of Dave, Chuck, Lenny and I riding in the 5-Boro bike tour in 2007, first posted on TYOMP in early May of that year.  All time (shown in military notation) accurate to within 90 minutes.  All dialogue guaranteed verbatim.

The kicker is that this was the tour immediately after Dad died and part of my plan was to throw a bit of the Old Bird off the Verrazano Bridge.  I can promise you that when you start reading about it, you will choke up to the point of hacking and gagging.  It begins about the 12:30 mark on Saturday.


7:30 Wake up. Get out of bed. Drag a comb across my head.
9:30 Car is packed. Dave and I depart Leesburg, VA for Brooklyn, NY
12:00 Arrive at Mike's Famous Harley Davidson Dealership, located in Delaware at the base of the Del. Mem. Bridge.
12:15 It occurs to Dave and I that we are very much unlike the rest of the people milling about Mike's Famous. Aliens, if you will. Strangers in a strange land, if you will. The give away? Everybody but us is carrying the kind of wallet that attaches to your belt with a chain. I pause for a moment, wishing that I had enough money to warrant physically chaining it to me.
12:30 The food arrives. I ordered something with the word "Cincinnatti" in it. Chili (all the way) poured over top of some spaghetti. Tastey, in a sort of counterproductive way. What's that Paul Simon line? "All right, in a sort of a limited way for an off night." Something like that. I'm thinking about Paul Simon because Dave, who's car we are using, is playing a tape (TAPE!) of one of his more obscure albums.
12:36 It occurs to me that the waitress is kind of hot in that only-16-but-already-
worn-around-the-edges kind of a way. Her name might be Emily.
12:37 At one particularly surreal moment, I shout at the top of my lungs: "We're going to need golf shoes to get out of here."
12:50 Dave and I tour the Harleys. The one I want (a black V-Rod with a lot of chrome) costs roughly $21,000. This seems like a lot of money. No wonder these people chain their wallets.
13:00 Dave and I get the hell out of Dodge.
15:45 We arrive more or less at the corner of 6th Avenue and 6th Street, Brooklyn, NY--the rough location of Chuck's house. We unload our bikes and stuff.
16:00 Chat with Chuck and Wynne.
16:10 Take bikes out for a single circuit circumnavigation of Prospect Park's bike loop. Couldn't have been lovelier. I make a passing, regretful note that my friend Eric's suggestion that the women of New York are taking all their cloze off is not completely accurate. Perhaps it's more the case in Manhattan. Perhaps it's just a little too chilly.
17:00 Shower, nap
18:06 Watch the Kentucky Derby. My horse, Hard Spun, leads all the way, loses down the stretch to Street Sense. I am, nonetheless, pleased.
18:30 Dinner at a Japanese restaurant with Chuck, Wynne, Dave, Lenny the Vet and his wife Erica. Lenny, who, paired with Erica, would make a great subject for a painting--very vivid--tells us that racehorses are not nice animals. I file this away. I had, by the way, spicy seafood soup, seaweed salad with sesame, and a specialty roll called, perhaps, a Napoleon, and red wine and hot tea. Dave has a New York Roll. Both feature eel, which, I guess, is our nod to carbo-loading (Eels, as I understand it, are complex carbohydrates).
20:00 Arrive, en mass (this is not to be confused with post mass, as I believe I was the only Catholic in the group), at the house of someone named Judy. It is her house that will house, if you will, Don's house concert. We spend a good amount of time waiting for Judy to make an appearance, then the music starts.
20:15 I hope Judy doesn't mind that Don's burning the house down. I mean, burning it down! Late in the set he does an open-tuned Scottish number called John MacLean's March that is absolutely transportational. Likewise the next one, Great Dream From Heaven, played with a strong Ry Cooder feel. The urge to shout "I'll take another, on Ry," is almost beyond my ability to control.
21:oo Don takes a break. Thank God I have a moment to collect myself.
21:15 He starts back up, this time accompanied by his duet partner, Jenny. I find myself drawn to her in a number of ways.
21:55 I'm introduced to Jenny. Feeling a good bit of performance anxiety, I fall back on my most effective conversational gambit:
21:55:30 "Don't I know you from the cinematographer's party?" I ask.
21:56 She shakes her head and turns to speak to someone else. I think it is going well.
22:15 Walk home, bidding Lenny and Erica adieu at some point, agreeing to meet in front of Chuck's house the next morning at 7:15.
22:25 Brief ablutions. I put Dad in my fannypack so as not to forget him in the morning's rush.
22:45 In bed. At some point, I fall asleep. But not, however, before considering just how much onion dip I've eaten in Leesburg and how it was going to come back and haunt me the next day.


6:30 Wake up. Get out of bed. Drag a comb across my head.
6:45 Coat my groin with vaseline (to avoid chafing).
6:50 Get dressed, go downstairs, tend to the myriad details necessary for getting out the door by 7:15.
7:15 Out the door. It is pretty fucking cold. I'm glad I wore three layers.
7:45 Crossing the Brooklyn Bridge. A sight even the most jaded would suggest was one to behold.
7:50 We wend our way through downtown Manhattan, attempting to avoid the official starting line crowds; make our way to the West Side Bike Path. I point out the new Frank Gehry building on 18th Street to Dave. I remain undecided on the relative merits of this structure.
7:59 We pass the place where the Intrepid used to dock. We have also, by this time, passed two white bikes. White bikes are just that, old bikes painted white, tires and all, and chained to some unmoveable object. Each is a memorial to someone who died riding his/her bike on the path. I was once almost killed by a van near one of the white bikes.
8:30 We join the top of the tour at the top of the park. We perceive ourselves to be elite riders.
9:30 Am surprised, actually, that the climb up the entrance ramp to the 59th Street Bridge is as trouble-free as it is. I find myself thinking about painting Old Bobby Lee.
9:40 Riding through a particularly ugly part of Queens, heading for the Astoria Park, I realize I've not applied enough vaseline. This troubles me, as we are only about 20 miles in and I'm heating up, as they say.
11:00 We are cruising along one of my favorite parts of the route, just a noplace road somewhere near where Queens turns into Brooklyn. We pass the Brooklyn Navy Yards and enter Dumbo. The view of the bridges is fun, and then we're on the BQE. The night before, I had promised Don that we would, at a certain point, ride with a hole in our formation in acknowledgement of his previous excellent work on the tour, much the way the Blue Angels leave a hole in their formation to honor fallen comrades. Although I'm writing about it now, I don't thing we ever adopt the formation.
11:30 Pedal, pedal, pedal, pedal, etc.
12:15 Begin the ascent of the Verrazano Bridge. I am pleased to find that the wind is to our backs, making the trip easier. Just FYI, the Tibetan word for Mt. Everest is Sagarmatha.
12:29 We reach the center of the bridge's span and pull over, as previously agreed, so I can toss Dad over the side.
12:30 The New York Harbor is shining like a National guitar.
12:31 The wind subsides enough so that most of Dad goes down, not up. I think it is going well. I toss out a bit of Shakespeare. Dave says something like, "Good bye, Allen."
12:32 I turn to Chuck and say, "Chuck, thank you for being a part of this," or something to that effect. Chuck was supposed to have said a Hebrew prayer but he forgot. I did too, so how can I hold it against him?
12:33 I turn to Dave and say, "Dave, thank you for..." At this point I find that my throat has clenched shut and I can't get the rest of the words out. Instead of finishing the sentence I give him a manly embrace. I was talking to my aunt Betty earlier today and explaining that even though I am at peace with the time and manner of Dad's death, there are moments of great sadness that hit me unexpectedly. And it was there, on Sagarmatha, in the freezing cold, with the wind screaming around us, each of us, in our own way, fighting for survival, when I felt like I was going to burst into tears. Since everybody's eyes were already watering, likewise our noses, I dont' think anyone noticed my extremus.
12:33:30 It occurs to me that Dave and Chuck are two of my dearest friends, and that I am happy to share this moment with the two of them. My only regret is the absence of Earl from Denver. Had he been there it would have been perfect (even if one of us would have had to short-rope him up the bridge). That, and if Chuck had remembered his Hebrew prayer.
13:30 Steaming towards Manhattan on the ferry.
14:00 Despite Lenny coming up a bit lame right at the end, we get to New York Noodle Town and order barbequed pork appetizers, fried chives with duck, salt baked shrimp, chicken breast in a ginger sauce and Shanghai Mai Fun. This last one isn't actually the correct name, but close enough. I'm missing a word, and some of the other words may be incorrect. This is why I always let Chuck order. Anyway, it's damned good.
16:30 Take a shower. Take a nap.
17:20 Wake up. Get out of bed. Drag a comb across my head.
18:00 Find myself, with Dave, Chuck and Wynne, inexplicably eating another meal. The only reason I agreed to such foolishness was that we were going to Momofuku, which, really, is not to be missed.
19:00 Buy a black and white cookie from a bakery on 2nd Avenue. It is excellent. I am reminded of Jerry Seinfeld's thoughts on black and white cookies:

The thing about eating the Black and White cookie, Elaine, is you want to get some black and some white in each bite.  Nothing mixes better than vanilla and chocolate.  And yet somehow, racial harmony eludes us.  If people would only look to the cookie all our problems would be solved.

22:00 Go to bed.

mean-spiritedness continued

There are some who say it was Ms. Dunham's dress, not her shoes, that was the problem.  Regardless, I stand behind everything I said.

And now this bit of mean-spiritedness

Did you see Lena Dunham get her Golden Globe last night?  Totally unsatisfactory, in much the same tiresome way that Tom, the chauffeur who married Lady Sybil, refused for the longest time to dress properly for dinner.

Show some respect.  Next time you go to an awards show that might require you to get out of your chair and walk twenty five feet, wear shoes that make it possible to do so.  I am saying to you, dear reader, that the woman could literally barely walk.

Hey, I'm fine with making self-referential sit-coms about the psychic scars of being an ungainly young woman growing up in hipster Brooklyn.  But when they invite you to the Globes, wear some shoes you can walk in.

Me?  I loathe that show.

Maybe she has some kind of medical condition and you're being an unfeeling ass.
Maybe.  Or maybe her shoes were too tight.
She walks around okay in her show.
You watch it?  I thought you loathed it.
I watched the first couple of episodes of Season One, because of the hype, and then stepped away.

The Duchess

You'd think I would know how to spell duchess.  I keep putting a T in there.  Dutchess.  Yet, apparently, it has nothing to do with being Dutch.  So I've cruised through the last couple of posts that deleted the offending Ts as well as I could.  If some continue to sneak through, I apologize.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

On the Nature of Dogs

Dogs are one of the greatest physical embodiments of love on Earth.  Puppies in particular.

Hypothetical scenario:  Do you know when you get a new puppy?  Say a beagle or a black lab and you name him Mr. Pickles or something?  And you hold out a num-num and he comes running over, feet slipping out from under him on the polished floor, ears and tongue everywhere, excited about getting a snack?  This perfect bundle of love?  And instead of giving him the num-num you smack him across the top of the head with the rolled-up newspaper you've been hiding behind your back?  And the look of pain and hurt and surprise and disillusionment that covers the little thing's face as he slinks away?

This is called letting the dog know who is the boss.  Cesar Milan would call it being the pack leader.

Me?  I would never dream of doing such a thing.  I love dogs.  I'm just trying to give you a frame of reference for what I'm about to say:

If the NFL thinks I'm going to continue to watch the tantalizingly close Patriots/Texans game, only to be slapped over the head with the metaphorical rolled-up newspaper by Tom Brady and Bill Belichick, you've got another thing coming.  It's happened too too many times before, and I'm not an idiot.

No friends, I'll be in my basement room with a needle and a spoon.  Later I'll check and, if the coast is clear, I'll watch the second half of the game.

But I won't get fooled again.

Disclaimer:  No dogs were injured in the typing of this post.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

And just to beat this Kate Middleton thing to death Slash A window into the soul of the painter

This is why I love the Daily Beast.  They are running a slide show of fair to terrible portraits of politicians and royalty.  Somehow Charlie Rangel grabs a spot on the back end with a painting that I, personally, don't think is bad at all.

Click here.

I also thought the Tony Blair painting was good too.  You may remember my take on Gordon Brown.  It's better when you double click it ...

I always liked this painting.  Sometimes they can be a little disarming when you see them finished, but without the leavening affect of the annotation-filled background.  So don't judge too  harshly (and, just maybe, see this as a window into what poor Emsley could have been thinking when he painted all that pancake powder on poor Kate's face).

The title, which was the idea of the guy who commissioned it, also tickles me -- although it's obviously a joke and I don't get it.  The lips, which are exactly the same color as the title lettering, also please me.

Sadly, dear reader, Dear Prudence is a cautionary tale.  One of the few times I feel like my trust in my fellow man (at least in terms of my paintings and their related commerce) was breached.  The details are vague, but it was shipped to the UK with my understanding that annotations would be implemented there, by the guy who commissioned it.  Upon completion of the annotation phase, as I remember it (and I could be wrong), there was an additional financial component due me.

Neither, as far as I can tell, the annotations nor the second payment occurred.  Again, fully cognizant of my own failings, I like to give the benefit of the doubt as much as possible.  But I think I was ripped off.  The moral?  Craft a solid letter of agreement.  Trust but verify, to quote poor dead Ronnie.

My bad, I suppose.

If you ever find yourself in a lovely, paneled room in some lovely home in London, perhaps the smoking room in one of those social organizations that P. G. Wodehouse used to go on about, and you see Dear Prudence smugly hanging there, please take a marker (or hell, even a pen) and write the following:

The Painter is Disgruntled.

I love that word, by the way.  Disgruntled.  One of the great lost positives.

Friday, January 11, 2013

God Save the The Queen

Further to this whole Kate Middleton thing ...

It should be noted that I have my photograph taken quite a bit, and I came to the conclusion quite a while ago that I am a lot better off if I don't smile.  I stare right into the lens, as intensely as I can, albeit in a pleasant way, and I let the chips fall where they may.  But I stopped smiling -- even when they say "smile, please" -- a long time ago.

Lucian Freud painted this of Queen Elizabeth II ...

She obviously has the same philosophy I do.

I like the Queen's painting better than the what Paul Emsley (a man who, I fear, is going to live in infamy for a while) managed with Kate.  Now I'm the first guy in the world to admit that paintings look completely different in the flesh than they do in photographs.  First-hand experience has left me utterly amazed in some cases.  So I don't want to throw stones at poor Emsley.  But I have by now seen several photos of the same painting and there's a dryness to her skin that is troubling.  "Sepulchral" was a word one critic used.  She looks muted to me.  Muted in the same way television people sometimes look after they come off the set, still covered with pancake.  On some level, I can understand the idea behind the effort (to give her a regal, restrained presence rather than popping out the front of the canvas) and can imagine a circumstance in which that muting comes off in a wonderful way in the flesh.  But I'm not convinced.

And there is no doubt he put quite a honker on her, didn't he?  I think he deserves a bit of shit for that alone.

Fun note:  the painting of The Queen is only 6"x9".

Other fun note:  it wasn't commissioned; Freud just whacked it out as a gift to the queen (admittedly, with her permission).  Since Freud is one of the most famous painters of our time, it's not surprising that it came out like it did.  Truth be told, I like it.  Or at least I like the face.  I'm less moved by the hair and crown.

It should be noted that I'd cut all my fingers and toes off to be able to paint as well as my boy Lucian.  This is possibly the greatest painting to come out of England since ... since ... well since I don't know when.  I'm gonna think about that.  Titled "Benefits Supervisor (sleeping)", it's proof that truth is beauty ...

And all a guy needs, at least according to Bono, is a red guitar, three chords and the truth.

Me?  I should just bang out a painting of the Duchess and send it along by parcel post.  One theory says I should do this tonight, in lieu of watching the Knicks game.  They are, according to, getting obliterated by Chicago.

The Knicks, my friends, are facing their first major crisis of the year.  It will be interesting to see how they respond.  The coach is strong, though.  And I'm optimistic.

Update:  I can think of a Francis Bacon self-portrait, a triptych or two of George Dyer and a  "Screaming Pope" painting that rival "Benefits supervisor sleeping" for greatest-painting-coming-out-of-England-since-I-don't-know-when honors.  I'm also fond of Jenny Saville, although she's still playing triple-A when compared to these guys.