Thursday, February 28, 2013

I've got nothing

Really.  Oh my God -- what if I've got nothing left?  It's the fear of artists everywhere.  What if I've run out of shit?

This is the 2000th post of The Year of Magical Painting so I wanted to make it a good one.  But I've got nothing to say.  I've run out of shit.  Lord have mercy.

It's not like I'm not doing anything.  I'm right in the middle of pasting newspaper onto the canvas that now sits where Study for Marcus Goldman used to; the canvas that will become The Myth of American Exceptionalism.  I peeled my yellow Playtex gloves off to type this post.  I'm wearing Playtex gloves -- Playtex Living Gloves is the actual term (how odd) -- because experience has shown me that the combination of newsprint and acrylic primer creates some really weird white stuff that will NOT come off unless you sit in the shower and scrub.  Hard.

So I've peeled off my gloves, hoping to makes something wonderful happen here on the page, and I seem to have nothing.  Check that.  I've got something.  I've got that bitter, coppery taste in my mouth that tells me I'm afraid.  Terribly afraid.  I'm reminded of the time I'd have spent in Vietnam if I'd been drafted.

So at least I've got that.

And I've got my painting of my old friend Lilah S.

Which is timely because we appear to be in Lent and I appear to have either missed or ignored Ash Wednesday.  Sic transit gloria Mundi.

But that's old stuff.  What about new stuff?  What if there is none?  What if nobody writes anything interesting on my Uncle Sam sculpture?  What if, no matter how hard I beat my fist on the door of City Hall, nobody's gonna give me access to two hundred confiscated, disabled firearms?  And given that, what if I never get even the first PeaceWork off the ground?

Are you being too hard on yourself?
Dunno.  Am I?
C'mon.  This is the 2000th post!  You've Done the Ton.
I suppose.
I bet TYOMP is cresting 500,000 words by now.  It's a magnum opus!
I suppose.

And here's something new!  I just dripped a big goober of primer into the inside of my shoe.  Usually it goes on the outside, but I'd slipped them off, so as not to get paint on them, and now there's paint on the inside.

So that's something.

Can I say one thing without you ridiculing me?
It's been quite a ride my friend.  
Yes it has.
I wouldn't have done it with anybody but you.
Sic transit gloria Mundi.
Is that a Pope thing?
Yeah.  This is his last day.
On the 2000th post!
Well, I guess that's something.
Yes it is.  Do you think we should close with a song?
I can't imagine it any other way.

Livin on the road my friend, is gonna keep you free and clean
Now you wear your skin like iron
Your breath as hard as kerosene
You weren't your momma's only boy, but her favorite one it seems
She began to cry when you said goodbye
And sank into your dreams

Pancho was a bandit boy, his horse was fast as polished steel
He wore his gun outside his pants
For all the honest world to feel
Pancho met his match you know on the deserts down in Mexico
Nobody heard his dyin words, ah but that's the way it goes
All the Federales say, they could've had him any day
They only let him slip away, out of kindness I suppose

Lefty he can't sing the blues all night long like he used to
The dust that Pancho bit down south ended up in Lefty's mouth
The day they laid poor Pancho low, Lefty split for Ohio
Where he got the bread to go, there ain't nobody knows
All the Federales say, they could've had him any day
They only let him slip away out of kindness I suppose

The boys tell how old Pancho fell, and Lefty's livin in cheap hotels
The desert's quiet, Cleveland's cold
And so the story ends we're told
Pancho needs your prayers it's true, but save a few for Lefty too
He only did what he had to do, and now he's growing old
All the Federales say, they could've had him any day
They only let him go so long, out of kindness I suppose

A few gray Federales say, they could've had him any day
They only let him go so long, out of kindness I suppose

The New York Times cover story on the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School is glued, not by accident, to the lower left part of the thing that will become The Myth of American Exceptionalism.

Adios, Pancho.
Arrivederci, Lefty.
I've got a big fucking lump in my throat, man.
I guess that's something.

Pitching MoMA

For those of you thinking about pitching an idea to the Museum of Modern Art, I'm not sure if this represents good news or bad ...

This was attached to an email sent to me by a reputable gallery -- Lyons Wier -- so there is a higher level of probability that it's real than might otherwise be the case.  I'm reluctant to say higher than 10%, though, if for no other reason than the fear of looking like one of those people who thinks articles in The Onion are real news.  But still, somebody has a sense of humor, either at the gallery or somewhere deep in the bowels of the Bastion of Modern Art (BoMA).

Me?  I'd like to have seen the pitch letter.

Go here for artists section of the gallery site.  Mr. Haberny's stuff is pretty cool, although I wrestle with the urge to pronounce his last name Haber New York.

Study for Marcus Goldman

I always thought this painting was gonna make me a zillion bucks ...

It's a bit hard to tell from the angle, but the title reads "Study for Marcus Goldman." I figured some guy from Goldman would scoop it up for a significant bit of cash, if for no other reason than to say he had a Geoffrey Raymond that wouldn't get him fired, and then I envisioned someone from The Mothership commissioning a big one for one of the many blank walls in the shiny new Goldman Sachs building.

Note to potential commissionor:  I would paint the big one with a good deal less purple.

Anyway, none of this has happened so far.  So now I'm taking the canvas off and rolling up the Goldman painting to clear way for The Myth of American Exceptionalism.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Harvey Lavan Cliburn, Jr., dead this morning

Amazing career.  A bit off topic, but it's an opportunity to post this music video ...

Best music video ever.  Shame on MTV for not encouraging this uniquely American artform.

Uniquely American?  That's a stretch, isn't it?
Maybe.  But still, watching this seems vastly superior to Jersey Shore.
Ratings, baby.
Ratings are shite.
Now you're Irish?
I've always been.  Just didn't talk that way.
Who would have thought that many supermodels could have lip-synced so beautifully?
Good point.  Catherine Zeta-Jones coujld barely handle it at the Oscars, and she's a professional actress.
The world's a funny place.  I love the exploding guitars.
Me too.
And in a video filled with beautiful women, Christie Turlington is simply too beautiful for words.
To see her in sunlight is to see Marxism die.
Nicely said.
And Cindy Crawford?  Dog!
To see her writhing in a tub is to see Libertarianism exposed for the mumbo-jumbo it truly is.
Nicely said.
Somebody should notify Ayn Rand.
Or Rand Paul.
Or Paul Ryan.
Or Ryan O'Neil.
Somebody should notify Tip O'Neil.
Or Ted Kennedy.

The entire opening chapter of Black Water by Joyce Carol Oates consists of this ...

The rented Toyota, driven with such impatient exuberance by The Senator, was speeding along the unpaved unnamed road, taking the turns in giddy, skidding slides, and then, with no warning, somehow the car had gone off the road and had overturned in black rushing water, listing to its passenger's side, rapidly sinking.

"Am I going to die?  -- like this?"

The answer, dear reader, if you've never read the book -- novella -- is yes.  The last thing she feels is The Senator's shoe against her neck, pushing himself out the window and up to the surface.  Love means never having to say you're sorry.

Wow.  All I can think of is Mel Gibson shouting Freedom! as they rip his guts out in Braveheart.
Me too.


It sounds like something from a Prince song, but it's really the number of posts, including this one, in the history of The Year of Magical Painting.

Five more to go.

I feel like there's a David Bowie song in there somewhere too.

Uncle Sam at the Bar

I thought he looked good.  Bar was closed, so there were no actual people.


I depart in about an hour for Bacchus Wood Fired Pizza -- one of my preferred watering holes in Troy -- with Uncle Sam in tow.

The idea is to go public with Sam this coming Friday night.  Come to Bacchus:  have a pizza, write something on my Uncle Sam, have a beer.  Then, like they say on the back of the shampoo bottle, repeat.

The annotations you see here have, for the most part, been submitted via the interweb and inscribed by me.  But I'm too neat.  It's that whole too-neat-to-paint-like-Jean-Michel-Basquiat thing.  Anyway, the thing needs some scrawling, some drunken scrawling, to make it really feel lived in.

The reason I'm going to Bacchus now (since it's not Friday, it's Wednesday afternoon) is to shoot a couple of pictures of Uncle Sam having a beer at the bar.  Or some such thing.  These will then, arts god willing, be used to publicize the event.  Not sure it needs publicity, since the place is pretty busy on a Friday night anyway, but it's good to give people some advance notice.  Not sure it's an event either.  But there you are.

It's Never too Late to Beef up Your Resume

"Got an email from my brother ... 
And I ...
Paid a visit to my sister ... 
And I ...
Walked on down the hall ...

--Jim Morrison (paraphrased)

Do you know those Dos Equis commercials featuring the most interesting man in the world?  Not even close.

I got an email from my brother earlier today -- a man whose security clearance is as high as my credit score is low.  This is a man who, having already retired from the Army, was called back to teach the the special ops guys how to shoot while skiing.  At age 63, maybe.

"If I had ten divisions of men like that our troubles here would be over very quickly."

--Col. Walter E. Kurtz

[Cue The Doors]

The topic was lunch next week in NYC.  The email basically looked like this ...

 Geoff - I'll have lunch on the 6th and the 8th available. let me know if you can get into town. 

He signed it, but if I told you his name I'd have to kill you.  That said, I do think it would be fun to begin starting and ending my emails with the word UNCLASSIFIED.

Here, by my calculations, is a bunch of commercial clips of the second most interesting man in the world ...

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

This could be goodbye ...

So we were given these Uncle Sam statues to festoon in any manner we choose (we being two dozen Trojan artists).  Which is great.

Then we got a second email saying: " ... Also, we are providing all artists with 2 cans of sealant for your statues.  If you haven’t already done so, you can collect the cans in our office ... "

So I go and get my sealant.

And on the plastic cap that covers the aerosol sprayer a big sticker reads:

"Professional Use Only.  This Two Part Paint contains isocyanates.  Protective mask must be worn when spraying paint from aerosol."


I love their use of capitalization.  Unless that was you.
Not me.  I typed it verbatim, if that's the right word.
Do you even have a mask like that?
Is that why you're saying this coujld be goodbye?
Death is both an end and a beginning.
Scant consolation, brother.
I hear you.  But it seemed like the right thing to say.
Maybe I should buy a mask.
Then the whole issue will be moot.

Enjoy Troy

As you may know, I've been assigned one of a couple dozen Uncle Sam sculptures that will comprise a public art installation in downtown Troy this summer.  Given that it's me, I've decided to cover mine with annotations large and small, deep and trivial, long and short.

Anything is allowed except "Enjoy Troy", which shows a certain lack of imagination and gives me the same queasy feeling that I get when people write "I love New York" on my paintings.

Here's the first annotation, courtesy of me ...

Can you read it?  The word following 'it' in the 2nd line is 'snowed', and the word following 'from' in the 4th line is 'Dinosaur' -- a local restaurant.  The rest shoujld be clear enough.

On a related note, this is interesting ...

This is my Paul Krugman painting at the moment in time where I whited out all the stupid shit that people decided to write on it.  "I love New York" being the primary offender.  But I wasn't taking things like "Bob was here" either.  If I go to the trouble of painting the damned painting, you can go to the trouble of thinking up something cogent to say.

In the end, as you surely know, it looked like this ...

Shooting the Kids

I don't usually go in for the cutesy stuff -- my vision comes from a darker place -- but if you're in the mood for a giggle, this posting on Flavorpill (an amusing web site) is just the thing.

The idea is a photographer -- Bill Gekas -- has shot a series of "stylized, clever homages to his favorite painters ..." using his five year old daughter dressed in appropriate garb.  There are two sides to this coin:   William Wegman shooting his weimaraners with hats on; and Sally Mann shooting her pre-adolescent daughters nude.

Me?   That Mann work has always bugged me.  Seemed waaaay too exploitative of those kids.  Dogs, on the other hand, are fair game for exploitation so long as when you're done with the stupid hat you pat them on the head, give them a bacon treat and take them for a long walk.

This is the money shot ...

Or perhaps this one ...

But the whole thing is charming.

As for the dogs, I chose this one at random out of about a zillion google images of Wegman's work ...

If you're one of those literalists and are insisting on a picture of a dog in a silly hat, there's this ...

And last, Mann's portrait of (who I believe is) her 6 year old daughter Virginia ...

Which, at least to my mind, is a bit creepy.  And this is one of the least creepy of the lot.  I'd print one of the shots of her older daughters but I don't want to get arrested.

From the Department of Corrections ...

Apparently Seth McFarland's name is spelled MacFarlane.  What?  Is that like a fake name?  Like some weird agglomoration of Far Side and Fast Lane?

Is this an opportunity to mention Andrew Dice Clay?  Which happens rarely on TYOMP.

The guy gives me a pain in the ass, so I don't care that I misspelled his last name.  I may, in fact, continue to do so, but with our mutual understanding, dear reader, that it is intentional.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Two Items from the Archives ...

Here is the only picture in existence of my 1961 Triumph TR-3A, the first car I ever actually owned.  I bring it up because it was mentioned in passing in the saucer-head post about five back.

God, that was a car.  For a long time, the speedometer was broken and you had to tell the speed by RPM.  It wasn't that hard.  Second gear corollated directly -- 3,000 RPM was 30 MPH, 4,000 was 40.  Fourth gear was also easy --3,000 RPM was 60 MPH.  The car redlined at 5,000, which meant its top speed was exactly 100 MPH.  Which, in that car, was not for sissies.

I'm not sure whose lawn I'm parked on.  Not my own, I'm sure of that.

And then there's this ...

Which just makes me wish it was May and I was standing outside the Stock Exchange with a Sharpie in my hand.  I wonder what she wrote.

Initial Oscar Response

I've been asked by the Republican National Committee to deliver a response to Mrs. Obama's Oscar speech:

I thought she did great, but if she thinks her extraordinary like-ability is gonna make us cave on sequestration, she's nuts.

Speaking now as an individual, I have this to say:

Seth McFarland comes right out of the gate with a cheap shot directed at the French actor who won last year for his role in Whatever.  Although I can't remember the name of the thing, both he and it were great.  So it angered me when McFarland, a man whose claims to fame are fairly modest, pointed out to the billion or so people watching that the guy hadn't been getting a lot of work lately.

The first rule of hosting, as I see it, is that you can give the people with the maximum credentials the most shit.  You can make as much fun of George Clooney as you want.  Likewise Streep or Nicholson. But it's cowardly to pick on the little guys, even if they have won an Oscar.

Update:  The Artist is the name of the movie; Jean Dujardin is the actor

Me?  I was so annoyed I decided to fast forward through every significant thing McFarland had to say after that, so I can't really comment about him except that he's alarmingly clean-cut for an animator.  And he's a coward.

Quickly on a couple of other topics:

That Playbook movie was a charming romantic comedy, but it surprised me that it placed someone in all four of the top actor categories.  Plus Best Picture?  Please -- this is what's wrong with the new unlimited Best Picture category.

That said, the adolescent in me is drawn to Jennifer Lawrence and would have been delighted if she had become completely unhinged from her dress when she fell on the stairs.  Although she would have been (even more) mortified, so maybe I'm okay with the way it turned out.

And aren't they supposed to have an usher near the stairs to lend a hand to the ladies in their massive dresses, to avoid just such an event?  They do at the Golden Globes, but that may just be proactivity in the face of the notion that everybody at the Globes is intoxicated.

The singing was great.  Streisand's number was one of the best moments of the night; Zeta-Jones sounded worse than everybody else (meaning she was okay, but not great).  And just for the record, I'm not a big Streisand fan.

Daughter #2 loathes Anne Hathaway.  While I don't share her feelings, I can understand the urge to slap Ms. Hathaway's face every once in a while, most particularly during her awards acceptance speeches.  I will say, however, that other than the first thing she said, which was sorta to herself but also sorta sotto voce, I thought her speech was charming this time.

I'm very fond of Ang Lee.  Best line of the night:  "Thank you, movie god."

Sunday, February 24, 2013

The Kinks

Certainly nobody ever accused The Kinks of being normal.

Listen to this.  It will make you happy.  And no, just because you happen to own a guitar doesn't mean you can do this.

I don't know who Iona Khvadagiani is, nor do I use SoundCloud, but thanks to making this available.  I would have preferred Waterloo Sunset, given my post Daytona 500 mood, but Victoria is fine.

A quick look into the mind of the artist

I can't speak for you people.  Hell, I barely know even a few of you.  But I assume that the lure of The Year of Magical Painting has something to do with catching a glimpse into the thought process of an artist.  Most artists' web sites give you a look at the finished product, or a highly sanitized version of the creative process.  Few can match the raw, addictive ugliness of the truth found within these pages.

So consider the following:  I find myself constantly stepping over this wad of Saran-Wrap ...

It's made its home on the floor of my studio for at least the last six months.  The reason I don't pick it up is that it looks, particularly at first glance, like a used condom.  And it is amusing, when people come to the studio (an activity I generally discourage unless you've qualified for a TYOMP Gold Affinity Card) and catch their first glimpse of the thing, to see their response.

It's usually quick, and fleeting.  But there is a moment of horror and revulsion that, honestly, is priceless.

This is good for another reason as well.  I think it's bad for business if people think you, the artist, are in any way a normal person.  I say this because the more normal you seem the more likely some nitwit will get it into her head that she, too, can become an artist.   Or, worse yet, not that she can become an artist but rather that anybody can become an artist.

This is to be avoided.

The Myth of American Exceptionalism.

I'm gonna paint this next.

And I'm gonna title it "The Myth of American Exceptionalism."  Because honestly, American Exceptualism is right up there with all that Rational Market mumbo-jumbo.   Which, as you may remember, I've already painted ...

Back to the spacesuit:  The real reason I want to paint the thing is that I'm in love with the idea of the background (which, in the photo, is black) being a riot of cosmological drips and spurts of paint -- blacks, grays, whites, some deep blues, perhaps a bit of heliotrope, just because its a fun word to think about.  And then making the visor of the helmet exactly match the background -- a riot of black, silver, white, deep green, even deeper purple.

I love the notion of depicting the Abyss, that thing into which we sometimes contemplate jumping, as anything but dead, black space.  It's alive, man!  It's packed with more shit than dreamt of in your philosophy, Horatio.  If you don't mind me calling you Horatio.  And sometimes taking the leap [see Raymond, G.; circa 2006 or Madson, L.; circa 2010] is a good thing.

And this, old bean, is the task at hand; my job as I see it.

And after all that, the spacesuit should be easy as shooting cheese in a barrel.  And, even though it says Armstrong in the photo, I might put my own name on the tag because who doesn't want to be an astronaut?

I also like the idea of painting it on newspaper-covered canvas, a la Enron Falls.  It would be totally obscured on the background, but I think it would be fun to see the newsprint peeking through the rendering of the suit itself.

Enron Falls is a magnificent painting, if I do say so myself.  But manoman, I'm here to tell you, gluing that damned newspaper onto the canvas is a massive pain in the ass.

Spring is Here

One knows this because half an hour or so ago, 43 decal-festooned race cars roared past the starting line of the Daytona 500.  Each one's hook baited for Leviathan.

Only crazy people watch the thing live, by the way.  And by live, I mean live on TV.  I'd love to go sometime and see it live live, but I doubt that's ever gonna happen.

Me?  I watch the start and the subsequent half hour.  Then I wander back through every once in a while, perhaps while making split pea soup.  Then I try to watch the last 100 miles.  Which, since they're going 200 miles an hour, only takes 30 minutes.

As if...
As if what?
As if it only takes half an hour to watch the last hundred miles.
Your point?
My point is a) they don't actually approach 200 mph except for in spurts, so your math is faulty; and b) you haven't taken into account the almost constant wreck/yellow flag/clean-up/restart/wreck/yellow flag/clean-up/restart dynamic that characterizes the very last portion of the race.  I bet it takes an hour and a half to run the last hundred miles.
Wow.  I don't have that much time to spend on something as fundamentally stupid as NASCAR.

Anyway, once the D500 is over, they play the Masters.  And then there's Easter, which is early this year.  And then the apple blossoms start to bloom.  And then they run the Australian Grand Prix.  And then they begin the baseball season.  And then everything's lovely again.

I have a thought.
The profusion of wrecks, particularly at the end of the races, is wrecking NASCAR.  Part of the problem is that the cars are almost too safe and the drivers figure they can do whatever they want, willy-nilly, without the concern that they're gonna end up dead.
So maybe they ought to make the cars less safe.
Make them think before putting their foot in it.  Or their front fender.
You realize this is daft, don't you?
Yes I do.  But it's a thought.
Yes it is.  Right up there with giving NFL players old-style leather helmets, as a way to reduce head-to-head collisions.
I think that's an excellent idea too.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Take It Easy

Did you see the two-part Eagles documentary on Showtime?

Well I did.  I have a great fondness for the Eagles, if for no other reason than the three weeks I spent cleaning up the parts trailer for the construction plumbing company I worked for during the summer of 1972.  The gist of the thing was this:  One box should have nothing but half inch brass quarter turn fittings in it.  The next one should have nothing but one inch nipples.  A third should consist only of nine inch saucer-heads.  The list went on and on.  You have no idea how many different things are needed to conduct the act of construction plumbing.  The trailer in question was a standard semi-trailer.  So let's assume there were at least five hundred boxes of whatevers.  And every one of those whatevers was in the wrong box.

Nine inch saucer-heads--that's what we called them.  I honestly have no idea today what it is they were, but nine inch saucer-heads were a source of great merriment for me and my mostly rednecked co-workers.  The jokes typically centered around our shared wish to have nine inch saucer-heads instead of the relatively skimpy actual penises God had given us.

Hey, we were rednecks.  Actually, I wasn't a redneck.  I was a college kid pretending to be a redneck, because the money you made in construction was higher than your typical summer job.  I was a capitalist pretending to be a redneck.  The fact that I drove a Triumph TR-3 aroused some initial suspicion, but I fit in pretty quickly.

And besides, it was some good clean fun on a hot summer day with a shovel in your hand.  Which we called spoons, by the way.  And on the days when we all went to the 7-Eleven to get our lunch and a pretty girl walked in ... well it was simply a matter of time before somebody offered up a saucer-head joke.

Actually it was the giggling before the joke came out that was probably the most fun.  The anticipation of the thing.  Lord?  Please forgive me.  I was 18.  And a plumber.

Anyway, it took me nearly a month to get the saucer-heads, et al, in their designated bins, racks, drawers, etc.  And it was as hot as blazes in that damned trailer.  When Dick Cheney finally makes his way to the sixth or ninth circle of Hell (I can't decide if his greatest sin was violence or treachery), he'll have some idea of what my summer was like.

My only comfort was a crappy little radio.  And it seemed like not an hour went by when the DJ didn't play Take It Easy, by the Eagles.  Wikipedia offers this ...

"Take It Easy" is a song written by Jackson Browne and Glenn Frey, and most famously recorded by the Eagles (with Frey singing lead vocals). It was the band's first single, released on May 1, 1972. It peaked at #12 on the July 22, 1972 Billboard Hot 100chart, spending 11 weeks on the chart that summer, after debuting at #79 on June 3.[1][2][3] It also was the opening track on the band's debut album Eagles and it has become one of their signature songs, included on all of their live and compilation albums. It is one of The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll

I had one other job during that period of time.  My job was to cut lengths of 3/4" galvanized iron gas piping to order, then thread them with a thread cutter.

Threading the pipes was a sort of a kick.  The pipe was clamped into a machine with a powerful electric motor that rotated it slowly when I hit the button.  So you'd clamp the pipe in, then attach the threader, then hit the button.  And you would douse the end of the pipe with a thin stream of crude oil (much the same way you make hollandaise sauce) to keep the cutting die from emulsifying.

And the smell of that oil.  I'll never forget it.  Rich, fragrant, closer to the way asphalt smells than the way, say, diesel fuel smells.

So two things:

1--Every time I hear Take It Easy by the Eagles, I think of that damned trailer.

2--Every time I smell crude oil I think of that damned song.

Which, of course, goes like this ...

Well, I'm running down the road 
Tryin' to loosen my load 
I've got seven women on my mind 
Four that wanna own me 
Two that wanna stone me 
One says she's a friend of mine 

Take it easy 
Take it easy 
Don't let the sound of your own wheels 
Drive you crazy 

Lighten up while you still can 
Don't even try to understand 
Just find a place to make your stand 
And take it easy 

Well, I'm a standing on a corner 
In Winslow, Arizona 
And such a fine sight to see 
It's a girl, my lord 
In a flatbed Ford 
Slowin' down to take a look at me 

Come on, baby 
Don't say maybe 
I gotta know if your sweet love 
Is gonna save me 

We may lose and we may win 
Though we will never be here again 
So open up, I'm climbin' in 
And take it easy 

Well I'm running down the road 
Tryin' to loosen my load 
Got a world of trouble on my mind 
Lookin' for a lover 
Who won't blow my cover 
She's so hard to find 

Take it easy 
Take it easy 
Don't let the sound of your own wheels 
Make you crazy 

Come on baby 
Don't say maybe 
I gotta know if your sweet love 
Is gonna save me 

Oh oh oh 
Oh we got it easy 
We oughta take it easy

Safe to say this stuff ain't Hamlet.  But it was catchy.

And the documentary?  Pretty stupid.  Unlike, say, Mick or Keith or John or George I don't really give a damn what Glen Frey or Joe Walsh or Don Henley has to say.  They were about as boring as a band that did that many drugs could be.

I did think this one was pretty good, though ...

I like the way your sparkling earrings lay,
Against your skin so brown
And I wanna sleep with you
In the desert tonight
With a billion stars all around
Cause I got a peaceful easy feeling
And I know you won't let me down
Cause I'm already standing on the ground

And I found out a long time ago
What a woman can do to your soul
Ah, but she can't take you anyway
You don't already know how to go
And I got a peaceful, easy feeling
And I know you won't let me down
Cause I'm already standing on the ground

I get this feeling I may know you
As a lover and a friend
But this voice keeps whispering
In my other ear, tells me
I may never see you again
Cause I got a peaceful, easy feeling
And I know you won't let me down
Cause I'm already standing,
I'm already standing,
"Yes, I'm already standing on the ground

Of course, I was 18 at the time.  And I'd never heard Bruce Springsteen or The Floating Men.

Hotel California

I'm not in the market for an electric car, but were I, it would surely be the Tesla S.

Wandering around the streets of Chelsea the other day, taking in the artistic sights, I found myself in the Tesla showroom staring at a true thing of beauty.

Note:  If you are unmoved by the phenomenon of cars, just move along.  Stop reading.  Nothing to see here.

If you're not (unmoved, that is), take a look at this ...


The reason I even knew that a Tesla sedan existed is that there has been a spate of unpleasant accusations thrown back and forth between the Tesla people and a reviewer from the New York Times.  I'm not picking sides, but I'm a sucker for a beautiful body so I guess I'm leaning in the direction of the car.

0-60 in 4.4 seconds.  All in more or less total silence, which would have to make a person smile in the midst of it.  No gears.  Prices between 50 and 100K, depending, as near as I can tell, on battery parameters.  It takes a 5K deposit to get a test drive.  Which is both understandable and annoying.

Previous Teslas were incredibly small.  Small to the point that I might have been able to get in one, but I'd have never gotten back out.  Hence the title of this post.  But not so the S.  I would describe it as being just a hair smaller than the interior dimensions of the Batmobile.  Which is really an e-series Mercedes.

This picture was taken on the 4th of July, 1954.  I was almost one year old.  Look at that thing.  Silver fucking Arrows.  Stirling fucking Moss.  Maybe Fangio.  I swear to God, if I look any longer at those exhaust pipes coming out of the side of the body and those cooling ducts above the rear fenders I'm gonna have to go upstairs and take a cold shower.

Anyway, the best thing about the Tesla S is the dashboard.  Most notably the center portion of which, in that it is entirely comprised of a touch-sensitive video screen.  When you pull up google maps, you get a full display that is, I'm not exaggerating, a foot wide and a foot and a half high.

Stunning.  Plus you touch it and all sorts of things happen:  Options for web connectivity; media; engine/battery instrumentation; blah, blah, blah.  There's a slide bar that allows you to dial in the percentage of openness you would like the sunroof to achieve.  If that even makes sense.

All of which brings me to this:  Any reasonable person who lives in modern society will agree that texting while driving is a terrible idea.  It is true that you are compromised to a level about on par with a drunk person.  And we all know about that.

So why, dear reader, isn't somebody saying something about the proliferation of touch-screen controls on the modern automobile?  I looked at the Tesla dash and thought it would be an interesting challenge to try to tune my radio to WNEW-FM, if that even exists anymore, while driving quickly through heavy traffic on an uptown Manhattan avenue.

I believe Vin Scelsa, on the night of December eighth, nineteen-eighty, announced the death of John Lennon on WNEW-FM.

John would have owned a Tesla.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Hey Jean-Michel ...

There comes a time, if you are extremely lucky, when your work starts selling for such large amounts of money that only the rich can afford them.  And you are filled with a range of emotions (unbridled joy certainly being one of the first to hit you).

I, to a degree, know what that feels like.  The people I paint -- the Blankfeins, Caynes, Dimons, Fulds of the world -- exist on such an extraordinary plane of wealth and power that, comparatively speaking, I might just as well live in a basement apartment in a shitty neighborhood (even though I actually live in a sun-filled apartment that looks out over a beautiful public square).

Jean-Michel Basquiat profoundly knew what that felt like.  He refers to it constantly in his painting.  Basically, in the blink of an eye, he went from being a raggedy-assed street kid hustling to either/or eat/paint to having more money and attention showered on him than he knew what to do with.  His solution was heroin, and he was dead at 28.

Sad enough in the abstract.  Tragic, if you've just come from looking at the showing of his paintings at the Gagosian Gallery in NYC and the strength of the man's talent is still fresh in the mind.

So, in a nutshell, the painting is both autobiographical and a synthesis of hundreds of artists' ambivalence about the gulf between their lives and the lives of those who buy their work; inspired by the work of Jean-Michel Basquiat.

Prints are, of course, available.

[Brief aside:  At one point, the first paragraph ended with an additional sentence.  It read, more or less, like this: "I can hear the rats fighting in the garbage at night."  Don't know why I took it out.]

Da Rain a Fall But Da Dirt a Tuff

A'yood a yook, but a'yood no nuff

All by way of saying I changed it to this ...

Because I still have a few shreds of dignity.

Dem Belly Full, But Dem Ungry

I came home and painted this ...

A ungry mob is an angry mob.

Onion gum makes your mouth taste like onions

Did I tell you I ran into Eric at the Basquiat show?  I was just looking around, listening to Martha Velez, and there, ten feet away, was my boy.  We were supposed to meet at the Half King (a bar) half an hour later, but we made the best of an unexpected situation and left the gallery immediately.

Eric's favorite painting from the show is Onion Gum ...

Rikers Island explained

It occurs to me that many of you, dear readers, are not from around these parts and that the term Rikers Island may not be meaningful.  Rikers Island is the largest New York City jail.  Housed on an actual island in the East River, somewhere between Manhattan and Queens.  When visiting New York you should make a point of not being taken there by the police.

Like Rikers, but with Paintings

I'm such a pussy.

I mention this as way of reflecting on my recent trip to the 24th St. Gagosian Gallery to see the Basquiat show.   God almighty, the level of security!  Okay, I understand that almost all the paintings were borrowed from private collections, and they're universally expensive beyond belief (the highest-auctioned Basquiat going for something like 14-Large a little while ago).

And I understand that if they were showing, say, my paintings instead of my friend Jean-Michel's, there would probably be less need for so many grim-faced individuals.

As if...
I know.  I just using it as an example.
Keep dreaming son.  Set the bar high.

Anyway, it was downright oppressive.  Remember the last time you got thrown into Rikers Island?  And how it seemed like there were guards freaking everywhere?  Well, the Basquiat show was like Rikers with paintings.

And permission to take a picture?  Might just as well have asked if I could take one of the paintings home.

I snuck this one in, just so you could see.  I'd describe it as imperfect.  Fraught, perhaps.  The actions of a frightened man.

My friend Eric has a manlier approach.  His theory goes like this:  The worst thing that's gonna happen to you is that, after you take a picture, one of the grim-faced men is going to say "No photos allowed!" in a loud and nasty voice.  And everybody's gonna stare at you like you're a fucking idiot.  But they're not gonna take your phone away.  They're not even gonna kick you out.

So the key is to be quick with the trigger, aim and take as many shots as you can til they yell at you.

Me?  I'm a pussy.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Baiting My Hook for Leviathan

Going after the big fish, at least New-York-gallery-exhibition-wise.

I refer, of course, to the Basquiat show at the Gagosian gallery.  Best painter portrait ever ...

Certainly top ten.  Barefoot, dressed in an Armani suit, with paint all over the cuffs.  This, my friends, is something to aspire to.  I mean, you could shoot the exact same photo of me -- sitting in a chair; foot propped up; big painting in the back ... yup, I've got all that stuff.  Except I'd be wearing a pair of Levis.  And socks, probably.

You should see the bottoms of some of my socks.

And then there's this ...

Which shows you, once again, that it's cool to steal other people's shit (in this case, da Vinci) and cook it up yourself.

But I'm awfully fond of this one ....

Somewhere inside me, if I can squeeze them out, are some Wall Street paintings like this.  Funny, I don't feel funny repainting Picasso, or my boy Chuck Close, but I hesitate to jump on this.

Even, one might say, or perhaps especially because of my affinity for annotated paintings.


I swear I'm leaving.

Monday, February 18, 2013

This whole Danica Patrick business

NASCAR management is a bunch of idiots, just for the record.   One man's opinion.

Everybody looks great when your industry is in a growth spurt.  Like stock pundits in a bull market.  Now that what is essentially a super-regional sport has stabilized, and, in fact, started to lose popularity (as measured by viewers), we shall see.

Me?  I think they're idiots.  If for no other reason than the piece of shit they introduced a number of years ago called the Car of Tomorrow.  Before they put the decals on, it looked like this ...

One of the ugliest race cars ever.  And making it even more annoying, every one of them was visually identical.  Fords, Chevys, Dodges, Toyotas -- all had identical, ugly bodywork.

Oh, by the way.  All those exotic paint schemes are decals.  Including the headlights.  Which doesn't bother me at all, but I'm just saying.

And okay, the CoT was safer.  But really, who'd want to get in one?  People stayed away in droves.

But this whole Danica Patrick getting the pole at Daytona is a marketing windfall.  And they did change the design of the CoT, getting rid of that aesthetically horrible rear wing.  And they've just introduced the newest iteration of cars in which Toyotas are physically different from Fords.

All of which is good.

But any organization that allows Darryl Waltrip to occupy a position of authority and influence (he is part of the team that calls the races) is crazy.


... as it turns out, is my day of departure.  I apologize for whatever inconvenience this may have caused.

What inconvenience could it have possibly caused?
Dunno.  Just trying to be polite.


... I leave for New York City.

The plan is a few dinners, some beers with friends, a trip to see the Basquiat exhibit at Gagosian, perhaps an obscure movie, perhaps a bite with Daughter #1.

Sunday, February 17, 2013


... although possibly today, is the 49th anniversary of the Beatles first appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show.  I remember it.  I was ten, I'm thinking.

George was my favorite, but it was saddest when John died.  I remember it.  I was twenty-seven, I'm thinking.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

I can teach you how to paint like me in thirty minutes

Here's the email I sent back to the young person from the UK who wrote, telling me I'm a genius. All is revealed, friends.  I hold nothing back ...

Hi XXX--

Thanks for the kind words.

Answers to your questions:

I use Benjamin Moore acrylic interior house paint as my primary medium.  I use the flat stirring sticks they give you (at least they do in the US) as my primary means of applying the paint, although sometimes I'll drip from squirt bottles, large spoons, old dried-up paint brushes, pour from paper bowls, etc.  The fun is in experimenting.  Other than priming the canvas and inscribing the title, I almost never directly use a paint brush.

I rarely paint on canvases smaller than 3'x4' or large than 5'x6'.  I stretch the canvas, prime it, sketch a rough outline of my subject with charcoal, and then paint on the stretched canvas on the floor.  I find that having it stretched makes it much easier to pick up (once it's dried), prop it against a wall and stare at it for a while.  Which, by the way, I advise doing at regular intervals.  If the canvas is loose, it's a pain in the neck to staple onto the wall, etc., and you end up looking at it less than perhaps you should.

If you drip it straight from the can, the paint has a very rich full consistency.  Easier to stretch out long lines and make deep, thick puddles of paint that won't flatten out and will more or less stay where I've put them.  Kind of the classic Pollock drip painting experience.  Sometimes I leave the pools as they are; sometimes I take the end of the stick and spread the paint around in a rough sort of way -- this last part particularly in the early stages when I'm trying to fill the thing in.  If you add just a bit of water to the paint, you obviously get a much looser product; one that is easier to make spots and speckles with.  I do most of my painting with barely-diluted house paint.  If you add a lot of water you can do two things:  early on in the painting, you can use it to generally color large sections of the canvas.  I sometimes throw it on a paper towel and smash it around.  Later in the progression of work, the heavily diluted paint, if dropped from a relatively high altitude, creates a somewhat translucent spot with a very ragged edge, like a bomb crater.  This is useful sometimes.

I don't know about using UPV glue.  I'm not even sure what it is.  But who knows? -- it might be a great idea.

Pollock used oil, but what I like about acrylic is that it dries much quicker.  When you are dripping, you can quickly reach a point where you have to step away for an hour or so to let the paint skin up.  Otherwise each layer dissolves into the previous one (which can be used in a positive way for a specific effect, but usually I like to add new layers onto dry paint).  Since I, unlike Pollock, am trying to use a drip technique to create recognizable images, the quick drying is more important to me.  When I'm really productive, my approach is to work for an hour or so, step away for a bit (a fan speeds the drying), come back and work for another hour, and so on, through the day.  

Finally, when the painting is perhaps 75% done, I grab some acrylic artist's tube paint (any medium priced brand is fine) and either apply it directly to the canvas or apply it to my thumb and then smush it on.  I sometimes do this to large-ish areas to sort of "white" them out, but not all the way, and then drip more paint.  I am also quite fond of the way tube paint looks when it's been smushed across the fairly heavy texture that thick drip painting has already left on the canvas.  The texture of the thing is half the fun of painting like this, and the less you dilute your paint, the more texture you'll create with your paint.  

I continue to alternate between dripping and smushing until the thing feels like it is done.  

And then, almost always, I take some lightly diluted black, just wet enough so that it falls in drops, not lines, but not so loose that they "explode" when they hit the canvas, and I just sort of add a final flourish of dots and speckles.  I'm not sure why, but it always seems to look better afterwards.

Finally, and then I'll leave you alone, my favorite portraits are the ones in which enough of the subject is recognizable for what it is and another part is completely abstract dripping.  But that's just me.

Hope this helps.

All the best,

Geoff Raymond

ps -- I loved the last line of your email:  "... working on crowds, particularly segregation."  Send me a picture of one of those if you can -- I'd love to see it.

What a good, decent man I am.

Live-Blogging my Breakfast

Well, if not live blogging, then immediately post facto.

I had a pulled duck omelet with arugula, goat cheese, macerated cherries and cranberries.  It was superb.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Who doesn't want to kiss Elizabeth Taylor?

Today's a day of rest.  A national holiday.  John Maynard Keynes Day, as I see it.  We're not really doing anything productive other than celebrating the completion of 'Inverted Keynes.'  That's why this post is called "Who doesn't want to kiss Elizabeth Taylor?"

Although it's a fair question.  I mean, really.  Who doesn't?  Or didn't, at least not in 1951?

I was looking up movie times on and the home page had something called "the 51 most sizzling kisses in movie history."  How are you not gonna click on that?

Elizabeth Taylor kissing Montgomery Clift came in at #49.  It's not really that steamy, and everybody looks weird because u-tube is stretching the format sideways.  So everybody is wider than they should be.

But all this is simply testimony to how beautiful the young Ms. Taylor really was.

Even all stretched sideways.

Giving Gussy the Cheese

User Note:  You should be playing the Doors while you read this post.

So I need to spend a couple of weeks in Vietnam to research my book "Saigon:  Too Big to Fail". I dialed my particulars into Orbitz, then Priceline, then directly into Emirates Air.  Interestingly enough, everybody was within a couple hundred bucks of everybody else.

So I'm thinking Emirates.  Who doesn't want to see Dubai?  And besides, the American alternative is United, and wouldn't I just rather poke a stick in my eye and mash it around?

The details:

JFK to Dubai -- 12 hrs;  Layover in Dubai -- 2 hours;  Dubai to Tan Son Nhat -- 6 hours.  Reverse to come home.

Coach:  $1400
Business: $7000

To be honest, coach seemed surprisingly reasonable -- I had two grand floating around in my head.  Business?  Ouch.

What's interesting about Saigon is that if you go on and look up places, you can rent an entire apartment in the middle of town for $40/night.  So I might stay three weeks.

I'll leave you with this ...

Titled 'Wounded Man', its an homage to Gustave Courbet's painting by the same name (as if I even had to explain).  Interestingly enough, three artists worked on this painting:  me; my friend Richard Kessler; and an unpleasant young woman who left in the middle of her part of the gig, never to be heard from again.

I did the main figure.  Richard did the green tendril-creatures that surround him.  The unpleasant young woman, who's name I honestly don't remember, did the leaves.  If you look closely at the leaves you can see hints of military equipment (tanks, helicopters, helmets, etc.), which was typical of her work.   Her solo paintings were splendid, really, but I don't think she ever quite attached herself emotionally to the idea of collaborative painting.

She had some great tattoos, though.

The original idea was that it would be just me and her.  Which I think would have been cool.  But when she split, without so much as a goodbye, I was kind of up in the air about the whole thing.  Richard bailed me out.

Here's one of his paintings ...

And one more thing about TV news

Years ago, back when I had a real job, I was sick and stayed home.  Middle of the morning I was lying on the sofa, drinking some juice, reading the newspaper, watching NBC coverage of the launch of the space shuttle Challenger.  Which, as is known, tragically blew up moments after launch.

It took maybe fifteen or twenty minutes for NBC to plug Tom Brokaw, on whom I come and go,  into the anchor chair.  But once they were up and running, watching that man orchestrate a day's worth of live news coverage, more or less off the cuff, impresses me to this day.

That's a funny sentence.
Which one?
The one that goes "... Tom Brokaw, on whom I come and go ..."
Have you read "Eats, Shoots & Leaves"?
Read that, then come back when you have something constructive to say.

The Joy of CNN

Have you ever been to the Museum of Broadcasting in Washington?  There's an interesting section where you can pull up video of famous, not so famous, and infamous television news broadcasts from way back.  One that I found interesting was of Dan Rather, age 25-max, standing in front of a flaming Vietnamese village, reporting the war.

I come and go on Dan Rather, currently liking him more than usual, but there's no denying that he earned his news stripes.

Which brings us to last night.  I was closing out the evening watching MSNBC when they cut away from regular programming to cover the arrival of Triumph, the Wonder Ship in Mobile.  And it became clear that, as fond as I am of most of the MSNBC on-air personalities, they are television savants rather than fully-rounded newspeople.  The coverage was lame.  In the extreme.

So I switched to CNN.

And that was much better.  I liked it better even though I'm not convinced Erin Burnett isn't one of those same savants, but with a financial focus rather than a political one.  Ditto, on some level,  Anderson Cooper (although at this point that might not be fair).  Still, the news-gathering infrastructure at CNN outstrips MSNBC by a wide margin.

Daughter #2, as listed chronologically rather than by, say, affection, has been badgering me to take her on a cruise as a reward for finishing graduate school.  I quickly called her and reminded her to be careful what she wished for (thus saving, I'm hoping, several grand).  She, I can promise you, is ill-equipped to essentially "live in a porta-potty for a week."

I'll leave you with this ...

This painting, just so we're clear, once appeared on Page Six of the New York Post.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Fluctuations in self-esteem, as corollated to blog traffic. Which, anybody would tell you, is a mistake.

6:59 PM Eastern Standard Time:  Self-esteem high.

7:01 PM Eastern Standard Time:  Doubt and self-loathing dominate.  I plan to spend the night lying on the bed, turning the light on and off like Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction.

Happy Valentine's Day