Monday, April 29, 2013

The White House Correspondents Dinner

I once had a real job.  I was a man of substance.  And, for a period of more than five and less than ten years, I bought a table at the White House Correspondents Dinner.  It was a hoot, I have to tell you.

Sadly now, just as I'm wrapping my head completely around Nashville -- which is really pretty good -- I see that Hayden Panettiere attended the just-recently-happened WHCD and I didn't.  Which makes me sad.

Joining her, along with like a zillion other people, was Morena whomever -- the woman who played the wife in Homeland -- which was better than Nashville, but not by that much.  Nashville is really pretty good.

Painting the Street Weekly

Do you visit?  It's one of TYOMP's sister blogs; basically a showplace for my Wall Street based map paintings.  Go here.  It's fantastic, if I do say so myself.

Buy a print!

Also worth noting:  I don't support TYOMP through twitter.  But I do tweet about each painting I put up on PTSW to my legion of followers.


Anyway, the tweet related to Truth, Well Told went like this ...

Painter's reflection on @stuartenyt column re @Fleishman #poweroftrue rebranding. 

As of the moment I hit the tweet button, I had 13 visitors today.  A far cry from the legion of followers that monitor this blog.  It will be fun to see what happens next.  When I tweet a painting I sometimes get 500 new visitors in one intense spike.

For those of you not in the loop, @stuart... is Stuart Elliott's twitter account.  He's the hugely influential advertising and communications columnist for the Times.  My hope is that he, no doubt a fan of the actual truth, retweets it.  The painting is a bit mean-spirited, but public relations companies bragging about the relationship of what they do with the truth bugs me in a way that probably speaks to a bit too much psychic baggage.  

Truth vs. Truth Well Told Schematic

Here.  This may help ...

It should also be noted that my map paintings are really a sort of ornate reinterpretation of Venn diagrams.  The black hole representing the larger set or sets and the key identifying the location and/or or relative size of the subset.

Thus ...

And one last thing:  Were it me, I'd hyphenate "Well-Told".  Although that's likely poor sloganeering.  I titled the map painting without it, in deference to the reality of the actual slogan.

Too complicated.  People are offended by smarty-pants.
Yes they are.  But the hyphen is grammatically correct.
Yes it is.  But we're not talking about grammatical truth.  We're talking about grammatical truth, well-told.  Massive difference.
Good point.
I do, however, love your use of italics in the Venn diagram
Thank you.  I thought it went well.
Yes it did.

Truth, Well Told

Did you read Stuart Elliott's column in the Times today about the old-school public relations firm Fleishman-Hillard taking the hyphen out of their name and adopting a new slogan?  It would have been laughable were it not so tragic.

"Truth, Well Told" is their new slogan.  I'm not sure if they have a comma, but you get the gist.

At the breakfast table this morning, the new FH slogan was such a stunning load of shit, coming at me so early in the morning, that it had the effect of completely shutting off mind.  I mean, good God, it was only 9:30!  My defenses were still down!

I sat there at the breakfast table for what must have been twenty minutes, oatmeal dribbling out of the side of my mouth, my system unable to process the succulence of the thing.  The over-weaning arrogance of the matter.  The ... the ... well, dear reader, I'm still at a loss for words.

The waitress had to shake my shoulder and say, "Geoff?  Are you okay?"

I'm still processing it.  Perhaps you could read the story here and sent me a note helping me through it.

I will say this.  In the history of slogans, "Truth, Well Told" is right up there with Fox News' "Fair and Balanced."  It battles bravely with "Guns don't kill people; People kill people" for some kind of evil supremacy.

My experience with public relations companies (although not FH specifically) is both broad and deep.  So believe me when I tell you that when it comes to public relations in general, the Truth is certainly one communications option.  But far more frequently used as a marketing tool is a well-told version of the truth that is so tactically vetted and selectively obfuscatious as to as to be functionally a complete falsehood.  

I would call your attention to almost anything coming out of the mouth of almost any politician at almost any time as an excellent example of the phenomenon.

I leave you now to paint a map of the whole thing, hoping that grappling with the schematics of the thing will help me more fully understand a Truth Well Told.

Sunday, April 28, 2013


Remember the book I was writing about 2008 Wall Street layered atop 1969 Vietnam?  Called "Saigon, Too Big to Fail"?  Of course you do.

Well, I was reading an interesting piece in the Times the other day about the editor in charge of e-book shorties -- I'm not sure what the exact term is -- and I thought it would be fun to bang the thing out as a series of e-novellas first.

So I'm 15K words in, with about 10K to go, and it's occupying a good bit of my frontal cortex, if you can envision whatever that means.  Thus only a post or two this weekend.  For which I apologize.

But the book is going well.

Friday, April 26, 2013

I'm a dreamer, Montreal

It's so upsetting to me to see my Uncle Sam in front of what is almost certainly the ugliest exterior wall in Downtown Troy, I've re-envisioned it standing in front of a massive Damien Hirst dot painting.

This, friends, is how I'll dream of it tonight ...

Uncle Sam in situ

Odd how Blogger won't let me italicize in situ in the headline.

Anyway, here's Uncle Sam, dressed up, un-wrapped, bolted-down, plaqued-up, in situ and ready to go ...

With a nice close-up of my plaque ...

In retrospect, I think I should have painted the bottom of the brim of his hat blue, not red.  But that's a small thing.

Also this ...

There has been considerable dialogue amongst some about whether people will continue to write on the piece.  Those who suggested no -- that the sanctity of the work would be respected -- are, or course, crazy.  Human nature being what it is, and really, were it me, I'd say something like "Hey Dog -- all these other people have written something.  I'm gonna have my say too."

Well, roughly an hour and a half after the official unveiling the answer is clear.  More than clear, really.  Written in neon orange.

To quote Paul Simon, "My eyes were stabbed by the flash of the neon light."

And it didn't hurt at all.  So I'm good.

I'm not sure sanctity is the word I'd use regarding this particular work.
Possibly not.
And you could also argue that, by writing the words "Don't write on the face" on the man's forehead, you are, ipso factum, granting permission to write elsewhere.
Ipso factum?  Really?
It's Latin.  I made it up.  But still ... the point holds.

Paraphrasing George Orwell

All risk is equal, but some risk is more equal than others.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

I can't decide ...

This ...
Or this ...

Richard Serra

Surely you are up to speed with Richard Serra.  Famous for stuff like this ...

Massive rolled-steel and slightly weathered sculptures that, at their best, resemble cinnabons.

I took this shot a year or so ago at Gagosian.

It amuses me because it looks like a close-up of a woman's bikini and the inside of her two thighs but, in reality, is something entirely different.  I think the concrete floors of the gallery are a steelier gray than the blue you see here, but perhaps they color-shifted as part of the photographic process.  The important part of the photo is the depth and caramel, almost fleshy beauty of the oxidized steel.

You get up close to one of Serra's panels and it's like staring at a very muted Jackson Pollock.

But the point of the post is the movie you see below.  He shot it in 1976, which was perhaps when he was starting to wrap his head around the idea of heavy steel.

I found it on DailyBeast.  You can read Blake Gopnik's abbreviated take on it here.  Mr. Gopnik can go on (but can't we all?), but I was surprised he had nothing to say about what appears to be a crucifixion scene at the very end of the clip.

And this would be something to see in the flesh ...

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Human Nature

It's human nature to be unsatisfied with one's lot.  Thus, just as the weather is turning warm and thoughts should be turning towards the joys of having a cocktail at the outside tables at my local watering holes, all I can think about is the Sochi Olympics.

And more particularly Apolo Anton Ohno ...

And now, even more particularly, the fact that he'll probably be talking about skating inside some NBC booth rather than doing the skating.  He having just announced his retirement.

Just as it's a truth self-evident that the most truly beautiful women tend to have dark hair, so to is it fact that the Winter Olympics are better than the Summer.  Not just because of the speed skating, which really is a cool event, but hey, it wasn't the Winter Olys (pronounced OH-lees) that decided to discontinue Greco-Roman wrestling?

I don't care about wrestling at all.  Don't even watch -- Greco-Roman or WWF.  But still, does tradition count for nothing?  What a load of ill-advised shit that is.  Right up there with tearing down the old church in Watervliet so they can put up a PriceChopper.  Even though a perfectly good PriceChopper can be found a block and a half away.

It was a pretty church til this happened.

It is also worth parenthetically noting that six months after the Olys, Sochi is going to host the first Grand Prix of Russia.  Except that there appear to be construction quality problems and horns in the F1 world are beginning to sound.  But that's a story for another time.

I'll miss Apolo.  He was a talent.

This is pretty

Every once in a while, in my line of work, you run into something lovely.  This is probably true in any line of work, so long as you keep an open mind to things, but still, the point holds.

Me?  I was getting ready to clean my brushes when I ran across this ghostly thing ...

I'm going to hold the peaceful beauty of the thing in my mind as I travel to my Time Warner office to sort out a billing dispute.  I feel certain, after being caught in an endlessly unsatisfactory loop with TW phone-based customer service, that I will need all the calmness I can muster.

Further on this whole bank robbing business

Several posts ago I wrote: "Let's just say you rob the Bank of America on the corner of 23rd and 6th."

We live in a sensitive time, folks, and who knows what manner of humorless agents of some miscellaneous government agency are monitoring this very blog?  With growing suspicion?  With half an eye on arresting me for conspiracy to disrupt massive, government-sponsored gambling rings?  Or some other felonious rap?  Which would be a great stage name if you were playing just the right sort of music.  Felonious Rap.  Which rings nicely not just of Thelonious Monk but also of H. Rap Brown (also known as Hubert Gerold Brown; also known as Jamil Abdullah Al-Amin).

Anyway, I'm just here to tell you that there is no Bank of America branch at 23rd Street and 6th Avenue.  There's a Citi and there's a Chase.

So I'm clean.  I'm not robbing anything.

If you move west one block, there's Chelsea Papaya.  Here you can buy two hot dogs with sauerkraut and a 16 oz papaya for less than five bucks.  I know from experience that in the exact amount of time it takes to eat all that stuff you can walk west on the south side of 23rd and arrive at the Clearview movieplex just as you're popping the last bit of dog in your mouth and making that noise that a straw makes as you suck the last papaya juice out of a 16 oz cup.

This is similar to the fact that the travel time between the Port Authority Bus Terminal and High Mount (or a phrase resembling High Mount -- who can tell in the country) on Route 28 in the Catskills is exactly the same time that's required to listen to Led Zeppelin One through Four.

The whole purpose of the bank robbing post was to make note of the role of cameras in our society.  About which, honestly, I'm fine.  I don't think people are coming for my guns either, just for the record.

In fact, I think it's an amazing and admirable bit of police work that less than 24 hours after the bombing of the Boston Marathon they'd tracked those two miserable little shits down and were exchanging fire.

Was it 24 hours?
I don't remember.  But it was an amazingly short period of time, all things considered.
Did you know that Thelonious Monk's middle name was Sphere?
No I did not.  Really?
Wow.  I'm of the school that says if you're gonna saddle a kid with a difficult first name like Thelonious then you should give him a more straightforward middle name like Robert or William.  So if he gets too much shit he can just start calling himself Bob.  
Nicely said.
Thank you.  Sphere, to my way of thinking, is a bit of a shot to the head.
A bit, yes.
Being a kid is hard enough without a weird name.
Yes it is.

Go Badgers

Although over now, I've had a long and fond relationship with the University of Wisconsin, and have found myself in Madison many times.  Most of that time was spent visiting the estimable Dr. Folts.

And I should say that despite all the shouting, I never really understood why Madison always gets those awards about best small city to live in, etc.  I always just thought it was okay, in a sort of a limited way for an off night.

Nonetheless, this video is good clean fun.  The head bell guy decided to play the Game of Thrones theme song on the carillon.  As opposed to the usual Baroque religious music they crank out at other times, I'm assuming.

Are you watching Game of Thrones?  It's pretty good, but I am expecting it to jump the shark any day now.  The problem is that with every passing book (my understanding is that this year represents the first half of book 3) the cast of characters gets bigger.  Which is fine in a sprawling print epic, but which is starting to become a bit unwieldy on film.

Already, to my taste, they are starting to jump around between story lines too much.  But that's just me.  And, on the positive side, nobody could argue that George R.R. Martin couldn't use an aggressive editor.

So maybe it's a blessing in disguise.  Regardless, let the bells ring.

Napoleon weighs in

A member of the Commentariat recently offered up this ...

Able I was ere I saw Elba.

Which is good clean fun for sure, and it's not hard to identify it as both a fictitious quote from the little man with his hand in his pants and a palindrome.

This is a bit denser ...

פ ר ש נ ו
ר ע ב ת ן
ש ב ד ב ש
נ ת ב ע ר
ו נ ש ר ף

Still, the point holds.

And in Latin ...

In girum imus nocte et consumimur igni, which roughly translates as "We go wandering at night and are consumed by fire."

Me?  I'm most comfortable with Bob.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

My boy Pablo

With my mind on other things, I failed to note the passing of Pablo Picasso forty years ago last week.  The 8th to be exact.  Which might be two weeks ago.  In any case, he was 92.

I ran across a weird obituary of him.  Mostly stuff I knew.  But this stood out ...

In 1969, his 88th year, he produced out of his volcanic energy a total of 165 paintings and 45 drawings, which were exhibited at the Palace of the Popes in Avignon, France. Crowding the walls of that venerable structure, the Picasso array drew exclamatory throngs and moved Emily Genauer, the critic, to say, "I think Picasso's new pictures are the fire of heaven."

Explaining the source of this energy, Picasso said as he neared 90, "Everyone is the age he has decided on, and I have decided to remain 30."

God almighty.  165 paintings?   At 88?  This is how the great ones punish us.  They never get off our backs, even forty years later.

I do like this thinking about the phenomenon of age.  I've decided to remain 14.

Here, apropos of nothing, is Picasso's buddy Matisse with a bird ...

A note on palindromes and the promise to never again mention this tiresome 10,000 person threshold

At one point the number of visitors last month reached 10,101.  Which, minus the comma, is a palindrome.

My Aunt Sandra had a palindromic phone number when she lived in Paris.  It was 5515155.  Don't try calling her -- she's been dead for perhaps a decade -- but it's amazing I still remember it.  If you're into numbers in a certain sort of a way, it's worth noting that her previous address was 151 Central Park West and the address of Rich and my old agency was 151 W. 19th St.  And don't even ask me about my friends John and Julie.

Dee dee dee dee.  Dee dee dee dee.

Sandra's great gift to me was inviting Geoff-the-boy to spend every summer of his young life in a huge, shingled house on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean.  You can see it here, now under new ownership ...

You can only see the top two floors of the house over the dunes.  When I lived there, they didn't have that rounded dormer bulging out of the side of the third floor.  Instead there was a cramped, dark bedroom at the end of a long, fairly-scary hall (if you'd been watching the wrong movie), with a chamfered ceiling and one small window on the side of the house you can't see from this angle.  This was my default bedroom and fond memories swell up as I type.

My buddies Ken and Joe lived in the house just to the left.  Their cousin Sarah (it makes me angry that I can't remember whether she spelled her name with an H or not) lived there too.  She was the first girl I ever made out with.  And I thank her for that.  I'm sure it was her idea; I was perhaps too preoccupied with sailing my Sneakbox.

This is a Sneakbox on a trailer, in a garage, with no mast.  They barely exist anymore, but when I was twelve, and sailing mine, it seemed like Manfred von Richtoffen's red, three-winged Fokker.  Like Jimmy Clark's green Lotus 38.  The one with the yellow stripe and the matching yellow exhaust manifold.  It felt like Gabriel Garcia Marquez' typewriter.  It felt like the absolute center of the universe.

Anyway, God what fun all that was.  But at a certain point I got older, started taking summer jobs, then went to college, and that was the end of that.  Just as this, old friends, is the end of my seeming endless obsession with the 10,000 person threshold.

It's time to move on.  It's time to roll over, light a cigarette and stare at the ceiling.  Spent.  But happy.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Ten Thousand Maniacs

"I love the smell of napalm in the morning"

I was once a leader of men.  In some kind of alternative universe, it would be me and not Robert Duvall in this scene.  On the beach.  Surf boards on hand.  Elite warriors locked and loaded, awaiting my command.  No shirt, just an Air-Cav super hat.  Like J.E.B. Stuart for a modern day (except I wouldn't have failed Lee at Gettysburg).

I've thought about painting this picture of Stuart many times.

This is my portrait of Old Bobby Lee, painted, coincidentally, in Leesburg, Virginia ...

10,006 counted for this month alone, and we've still got seven more hours.  Imagine that, friends.  America's a great place.  Where a boy like I used to be could grow up to be a man like I am.  One can only marvel.

I love the smell of 10,006 people.  It smells like ... victory.

Best line from Apocalypse Now?

"Someday this war's gonna end ..."

That's not actually the best line from the movie.  But it's the best line from the clip.

Edge?  Play the blues.

Which is the best line from Rattle and Hum, the U2 album.

In the bag

9,971 visits this month.  As of noon today.  Which, eleven minutes ago, was right now.  Eight more hours to get twenty one visits.

We, my friends, are in the bag.

That didn't come out right, did it?
No, it didn't.
We're not in the bag.  It's in the bag.
I'm feeling like it is.
Me too.

Which is all good, because I believe my theory about the relationship of the 700 visit spike and the rolling-forward total was flawed.

I'd like to take this moment to thank all the little people upon whose necks I stepped during my clamber up the greasy ladder of fame.  I hope it didn't hurt.  Call me -- we'll have lunch.

I've been thinking about robbing a bank ...

... but it seems like a crazy idea.

Crazy only as it relates to the probability of getting caught.  Plus I'm very much put off by those massive slabs of plexiglass that keeps you from the tellers.  If I had more energy I'd go off on a long tangent about that Kinks song that contains the line "dying to get at her," but I'm trying to stay on message today.

Plus the question of gun vs. no gun vs. fake or unloaded gun.  And of course there's the note.  Who can forget Woody Allen trying to rob a bank with a typo in his note.

Not gub -- gun!  I've got a gun.
Well, it looks like gub to me.

Plus the exploding money packs.

And finally -- and this, I'm thinking, is the point of the story -- we live in such a monitored world.  Cameras are everywhere, even here in lovely, downtown Troy.  New York?  Fuggetaboutit.

Lets just say you rob the Bank of America on the corner of 23rd and 6th.  The assumption is that you take the money and run straight into the subway.  Jump on the uptown local to Penn Station.  Jump on a train to East Jesus New Jersey.  Jump off the train and straight into the arms of the FBI.

"How'd you catch me?" you ask.
"Cameras.  We've got cameras everywhere."

Me?  I'd jump out of the bank and onto the M-23 headed west.  Lay low on the bus.  Get off at Tenth and go to the Half King for some soup and several beers.  Wait til dark.  Then walk to McManus.  On the way there, peel off my fake mustache and change my jacket.  Stop walking with such a pronounced limp.  Have a few more beers at McManus.  Fight the urge to tell everybody about how you spent your day.  Play it cool.  Lay low.  Go home eventually.  Hope for the best.

You notice we're only talking logistics here.  Ethically speaking, I think robbing banks is solid ground.  Big banks, we're talking.  Not credit unions.  But since banks like BofA or Citi are really just massive illegal gambling operations, I think there's a certain public good in reducing their exposure by limiting the amount of money they have access to.  It's like those weird vigilantes you hear about who only rob from drug dealers.  I wonder if they even exist or if it's just urban legend.

Granted, it would take a lot of bank robberies to limit the amount of money that, say, Chase has access to.  But it would be worth a try except for all those cameras.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

And this Breaking News before I have my cereal

Do you recognize this man?

Number 24 of the Jets?

It's of course Darrelle Revis.  Who's just been traded to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.  For a first round pick, and a couple of third or fourth rounders a few years from now.  I've been a bit torn about the whole trading-Revis business.  But I thought they would have gotten a little bit more for him.

God almighty, now I'm in a quandary.  Should I continue with my plans for a bowl of cereal or simply stuff ashes in my mouth?


I'm 98 people a way from hitting my 10K monthly visits mark.   That's roughly the number of students who play football for the University of Virginia.  That's roughly twenty-three more than the mile number at which, during a century ride, you realize your ass is on fire.  Vaseline or no.  That's just six less than the number of journalists who showed up for a press conference I once organized for a prescription allergy medication at the Four Seasons restaurant in Manhattan.


Look at this chart ...

I don't remember what caused the 700 visitor spike, but it happened a couple of weeks ago.  It might have been anticipation of my reportage of baseball's opening day.  Regardless, every day, as the chart rolls forward, that spike gets closer to the left hand edge.  My guess is that the day of, or the day before it falls off the edge (I don't really understand statistics as well as I might), by dint of the nature of the model used by Google to determine monthly visitors, I'm gonna pop over the 10,000 number.

And hosannas will fill the air, friends.  I'll probably make a short speech acknowledging the little people whose necks I stepped on on my way to the top and asking each one of them to give me a call and we'll schedule a lovely lunch (which, of course, will be later canceled).  Then I'll slip my magic ring on my finger and disappear.  Angels will sing me to my sleep.

Thinking about it won't make it happen any sooner, though.  In the meantime I have a hankering for a bowl of cereal.  Half shredded wheat (the original large-sized bisquit) and half some of that Kashi twigs and things healthy (so they would have you believe) cereal.  With a sliced banana and some milk.  It's days like this that make me wish I had some blueberries.

The Knicks Nation Rejoices

God Bless America -- the birthplace of roundball.  And baseball too.

Lovely basketball game between the Knicks and Voldemort University.  The forces of evil were vanquished, but not without a bit of to-ing and fro-ing.  Special kudos to Kenyon Martin.  The one period of my life when I paid close attention to the NBA version of the Nets was in the early 2000s, when Martin and his good buddy Jason Kidd were part of the nucleus of a genuinely wonderful team.  Twice to the finals they went and twice they came home empty-handed.

So good for Kenyon.  In the absence of Rasheed Wallace he is providing defensive intensity and a certain I'm-not-sure-what.  If he remains healthy, the Knicks become a favorite to win the whole thing.

You don't really believe that, do you?
I'm making myself believe it by repeating it over and over again.  Like a mantra.
The way a certain segment of the population says guns don't kill people, people kill people?
Exactly.  Except there's a grain of truth to the Knicks thing.  The other one is hokum.

I mentioned the to-ing and fro-ing.  Truth of the matter is, I turned the thing off halfway through the second quarter, thinking there was no way I was gonna sit by and watch the Knicks lose to the Celtics.  A couple of hours later, once I realized that the coast was clear, I went back and enjoyed the second half.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

I am Keith Hernandez

Slight retraction re. previous post.  Melo is not as good as Hernandez was.  Close but not quite.  Which, coincidentally, is the title of a painting of Chuck Close I did back when I was trying to figure out if you could paint big heads by dripping paint ...

Apparently you can.

And now, with baseball starting, it seems like a great time to revisit "I am Keith Hernandez" -- one of the greatest short movies ever.


On a more positive note ...

How about those Knicks!

I owe Carmelo Anthony an apology.  I thought he was just one more tremendously-gifted, whiny, me-first chucker.  Based now on first hand experience, I was wrong.  He's been a revelation.  Watching him play basketball is like watching Keith Hernandez play baseball.  God bless the man.  I hope he leads us to the promised land.

Funny thing, sports.  I couldn't stand Patrick Ewing when he was at Georgetown.  Now I love him.  Genuine sports love (I don't know him personally).  If my timing is right, I'll see who gets the pole in Bahrain, then switch over to a tape-in-progress recording of the Knicks/Celtics game.

Given all that Boston has gone through recently, one could fall victim to the sympathy card and root for them.  This, friends, must be avoided at all costs.  It is a form of weakness.  A character flaw.  To paraphrase the people at Nike, just don't do it.

Further re. Zyklon B

Who knew the stuff was famous?  After I clicked publish on the post below I started thinking about doing a Warholish interpretation of a Zyklon can.  Turns out I'm a little behind ...

Wow.  In the face of this, I think I'm going to go upstairs and watch the qualifying for the Grand Prix of Bahrain.

Note:  I'd give credit to the artist, but the website was in German and I couldn't quite figure out what the hell was going on.  So I just nabbed the image.

"The world is a dangerous place to live; not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don't do anything about it."

This from Albert Einstein.  He was talking about the Holocaust, but you can certainly apply the thinking to a number of situations.  Oh look!  Here's a photo of the United States Senate in action ...

But that's not the photo I wanted you to see.  This is what I wanted you to see ...

It's a can of Zyklon B gas.  It's part of the slide show connected with a Times article titled "In the basement of a school known for science, a Holocaust museum."  What an extraordinary story.  I insist that you click here and read the whole thing.  It's not very long.  My lips were not tired by the end.

At one point in the article somebody poses the question "Why do you want a Holocaust museum in a high school that's 62% Asian?"  The answer is that great scientists have to be ethical people.  I agree. And staring at this stupid little can, with the word 'giftgas!' on the label, and thinking about all its implications is not a bad place to start.

I whipped out my google translator app and typed in "giftgas."  It recognized the word as German and translated it as "poison gas."  

We live in an ironic world, friends.  We live in an ironic world because we also live in a very fucked up world and irony is a nice way to insert a layer of insulation between us and all that shittyness. As a painter I blame Andy Warhol for making irony a legitimate artistic mode.  So you'd think I would be immune to it by now.  But I'm not even sure what to say about giftgas.

What I will say about Warhol, who I alternately loathe and admire (and as I wander off on this thread let me just say I don't want to trivialize the impact of the picture of the can of gas you see above with the picture of the can of soup you see below), is that he knew something about the iconographic power of a simple object.

His time might have been better spent painting gas cans, not soup cans.  But it's too late for that now.

Friday, April 19, 2013

They don't realize it's like jumping off a 12-story building every day

In order, One through Four.

Do you think this stuff is easy?

Let's vote!

These are dangerous devices. Thank God they're being handled by experts.

An old friend, back after being away a bit.  According to The Times, collateralized loan obligations are experiencing an upward trend.  Read it here ...

These bad boys are the very definition of good, clean fun.

I'm moving to Canada.

As if that would help.
As if.


I should add that it's also Allen Raymond Day.  God bless the old bird, dead this day, five years ago.  Which is as good a reason as any to repost the famous Ode To Joy flash mob video ...

Me, My Guitar, and the Blues (Faith Hill update)

I'm told Faith Hill is 45.

The error occurred in the post titled "9,687" in which I wrote about Ms. Hill that she was "the best looking 50-year old woman in the history of the world ..."

This, in the jargon of SEC-regulated financial communications, is what we call a forward-looking statement.  I stand behind it 100% and I look forward to being vindicated in about five years.

The good news is that this whole business is really just an opportunity to post another photo of Ms. Hill ...

If I looked like that, I could die a happy man.

That didn't come out right, did it?
No it didn't.
Reminds me of the phrase "I'd give my right arm to be ambidextrous."
Yes.  Very similar.

Her husband plays a great guitar, too.  But not as good as Jimmy Dawkins, practitioner of the so-called West-side brand of Chicago blues (described by the Times as being "slicker and somewhat less hard-edge than the South Side style of Muddy Waters and Howlin' Wolf."  Mr. Dawkins' nickname was "Fast Fingers."

Like Slow Hand.
Different.  But the same.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

"Speaking is difficult for me. But my feelings are clear: I'm furious."

This from Gabby Giffords in today's NYTimes. It's been hard to watch the rehabbing of Giffords and this op-ed shows that while she still doesn't speak well, her mind is in top gear. 

Me?  I'm a talker.  I can't imagine the frustration Ms. Giffords must feel when she has so much to say and such difficulty saying it.  The good news -- if there is any good news in a situation like that -- is that social media has given her a massive platform to communicate without speaking.  I wonder how well she types. 

That's a serious question.  Obviously there are different parts of the brain for different things.  I hope she can type 100 wpm.

Worth a read here

317 (Rasheed Wallace update)

The New York Times tells me that Wallace's record technical foul count is 317.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Ball Don't Lie!

Rasheed Wallace's famous line.

Ball Don't Lie!

A couple of months ago he said that to a ref.  Twice.  And was slapped with a technical foul.

It speaks directly to the notion that the great truths of the world can be found in, among other things, the engine of an old parked car, that Sasha Cohen skating video I showed you guys a couple of posts back, Fred and Ginger in Swing Time,  Geoffrey Raymond Map Paintings, basketball and, of course, this Marianne Faithfull video ...

When Faithfull later wrote Sister Morphine I can promise you the phrase "Ball don't lie" was floating around in her head.

Earlier today, realizing his foot was still a problem, Rasheed Wallace retired from the Knicks.  His contributions during the first 21 games were immeasurable.  Then he hurt his foot and that was that.

What lives on with the Knicks, however, is the belief that they can win -- Rasheed helped them learn that -- and the weird habit of scrunching three fingers together and poking them at the side of your head a couple of times after you've just hit a three-pointer.  Rasheed taught them that too.

Lefty, he don't sing the blues 
all night long like he used to do.  
So few of us do.

Me?  I'm going upstairs now (hoping the Mets game in Colorado isn't snowed-out) and make myself a Spalding sandwich.*

Brief personal aside:  You can argue that the man was a jerk, especially if he wasn't playing for your team.  Holds the record for technical fouls (304!).  Could have been a towering talent except for a self-destructive personality.  And he was in love with the 3-point shot, even when he perhaps should have been standing in the paint.  Not my kind of person at all (I prefer to take the long shots).  But still, attention must be paid.  His brief moment with the Knicks was an important one.  Despite myself I'm fond of the guy.  Thus this brief reminiscence.

Adios, Campagnolo.

* if you need help with either the Spalding sandwich joke or the one in the earlier post about licking thumbs just email me in confidence.


I've been trying to crack the ten-thousand-a-month visitor threshold.

Because Google analytics is either crappy or I don't know how to use it properly, I can't tell if this is just one pathetic dude clicking on the TYOMP button 300 times a day, or a band of ten thousand souls, each of whom visits once a month.

In any case, I'm 313 short this month.  I'm not sure I've ever been this close before.

Still, that's quite a few people.  I wonder what they're thinking.  To paraphrase Gabriel Garcia Marquez, nobody ever writes to the Colonel.

That's not paraphrasing.  That's quoting.
Oh.  Okay ... whatever.

By which I mean to say, nobody ever comments other than spammers.

Back to the 9,687 number:  I've got to assume it's like the tennis rankings -- a forward-rolling 30-day total.  So if you read this, would you mind coming back sometime before 8pm Eastern and reading it again.

Here's an idea:  Since there won't be anything new by then, don't read any farther down than this, then come back and check out the picture of Faith Hill (the best looking 50-year old woman in the history of the world, one could argue) later.  But make sure it's before 8pm.

She looks great in leather.  Here's a picture to hold you over ...

For you completists, I'm listening to "Is Your Love Big Enough?", the album by Lianne La Havas.  Which is really pretty good.

Go to the MOG, listen to that, then come back.

Further on this Whole April or May business

In my twenties I was a bartender.  One of the shifts I worked was called the service bar, meaning that your only job was to make drinks ordered by waitresses for their seated patrons.  Nobody was sitting at the bar.  You were wholesale, not retail.

Nonetheless, since people in the dining room could see you, you were obliged to wear black pants, a white shirt and a tie.  After washing the ends of enough standard ties in the glass washer, I eventually changed to a clip-on bow tie.

Let me remind you again that I was twenty three.

Anyway, the point of the story is that every once in a while I'd take a bathroom break and, upon looking in the mirror once I got to the mens room, discover that one of the clips on my tie had come undone and it was hanging, akimbo.

And it always made me wonder why none of the waitresses would say something as simple and helpful as "Hey, you might want to fix your tie.  It's coming undone."  It's not like they wouldn't have noticed.

All by way of saying that, over the first two weeks of this month (which I wrongly believed was May), I've mis-dated any number of works of art.  I would have appreciated somebody looking at one and saying something as simple and helpful as "Hey, that's a great painting, but I think we're still in April."  They could have even added a phrase like "numb-nuts" and I would have still appreciated the cold, hard facts.

Most of which is either easily managed or unimportant.  But this really pisses me off ...

It's a black day for football fans

Pat Summerall is dead and Faith Hill is leaving Sunday Night Football.

Woody Allen:  I'm dead and they're talking about wheat?

Summerall's real name was George Allen Summerall, which makes you want to lick your thumbs just thinking about, and there's an apocryphal story floating around that the nickname Pat came from the acronym PAT, for point after touchdown.  Summerall was a kicker, fyi.

Thank you Pat, for all those good times.

Summerall and John Madden were one of the great sportscasting teams ever, but they haven't been working together for a number of years.  Currently the best football experience can, or could, be found on Sunday night on NBC, with Al Michaels and Chris Collinsworth.  Not, it should be noted, on Monday Night Football, which last year was excruciating.  But the Sunday night guys have taken a hit with the departure of Faith Hill as the shimmering chanteuse of their opening theme song.

I'm told it's April, not May

Annoying to have to go back and re-date several of my map paintings.  For some reason I'd been dating them with a five, not a four.  As in May, not April.  Which was wrong.

I only care (and I am sure that history would not, had I chosen to do nothing) because they are time-specific.  And the Wall Street crowd is a bit anal.

See them all at

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Everything you need to know about the price of gold

Life is good.

Life would be better if there weren't a trio of what appear through my window to be Buddhists protesting in Monument square.  All of which is fine, except one of them had a small drum and the constant beating is going to lessen my enjoyment of Pardon The Interruption.

Which is where I'm headed now.

Wrapped Uncle Sam

I'm assuming this is mine, based on the shoe ...

I think there was a lost opportunity for the City of Troy to team with Christo to wrap all the sculptures.

This is beautiful

As you likely know, this whole map painting business, with the exception of the Map Of Troy series that I do on paper as a fundraising effort for the PeaceWorks Project, consists of electronic studies for paintings to come or not to come.

I love the idea of taking one -- the current thinking is either The Maginot Line or All My Love's in Vain -- and executing it on a massive, pristine canvas roughly the height of Yao Ming.  That would, I believe, be beautiful.

But this is beautiful too ...

Sasha Cohen: Rite of Spring on

Me?  I've always got a fond spot in my heart for anybody who can leap up and do a perfect split in mid air.  Obviously this is something I choose not to even attempt.  The concern is not the split, per se (although that's certainly a concern too).  The concern is more about executing the split too late in the proceedings and then plummeting, mid-split, to the floor.

Which would leave me in tatters.  Shattered.

For you completists, Ms. Cohen is not in tatters.  She's wearing a Nina Ricci dress.

Sasha Cohen:  "A couple minutes on the ice will change the rest of your life.  Nothing will be the same after, depending on how you perform."

Willem deKooning:  "They don't know it's like jumping off a 12-story building every day."

I can't wait for Sochi.

Me and Robert Longo

Surely you're with me on the photography of Robert Longo?  Famous for stuff like this ...

And this ...

It seems like a lot of my map paintings end up looking like people dancing.

This is Love in Vain without the dots.

Maybe it's just me.
Maybe it's a troll carrying a huge basket full of Skittles back to its lair.
I know it seems like something.
It reminds me of one of those Diego Rivera paintings of peasants carrying huge baskets of flowers on their backs.
I can see that.
Maybe it's the haunting realization that your mother never loved you.
These paintings are funny like that.
Yes they are.
It looks a little like those "Paint this Leprechaun" ads on the inside of matchbooks.
Yes it does.  Do they still make matchbooks?
They must.

Final thoughts on The Masters

Monday, April 15, 2013

Strawberry Letter 23

Which, for years, I thought was Strawberry Lemon 23.  Hence all that yellow.  But can you see where we're going?

The blue light was my baby ... and the red light was my mind

I can't stop painting these map paintings ...

"Guns don't kill people ... People kill people"

The absurdity of this argument is self-evident.  It needs no further buttressing from me.  It is worth noting, however, that a man killed himself in the infield of the NRA 500 at the Texas Motor Speedway.  Any suicide is a tragedy, but the irony here is certainly palpable.  Apparently he used a gun to assist with the shooting.

This quickie blurb from USA Today.

It should be noted that suicide is the leading form of gun violence in the country.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

The Masters, Volume 2

There was, at one point, a strong urge to have the Key read "Strawberry Lemon 23" but I fought it off.

Friday, April 12, 2013

This whole Maginot Line business

Somebody asked me to explain my Maginot Line painting.  But I can't.

All I can say is that I very much enjoyed "Spies of Warsaw" on BBCAmerica these last two weeks and am sorry that the whole thing was only four hours long.  Which means it's done, although one hopes they're going to have a Season Two, given that it was well received by the critical community and by me.  A friend of mine likes it too, so that's something as well.

Most of it took place in Poland in the late 1930s.  The main spy was played by some guy named Tennant, who also plays, or has played -- it's impossible to tell -- Dr. Who.  Which is a program I've never quite been able to appreciate.  His love interest is played by Janet Mongomery whose States-side claim to television fame was playing the lead in Made In Jersey, which was cancelled after perhaps five episodes.  She was also in the movie Black Swan, but I don't remember her in that.

Anyway, even though much of it was about Hitler and Stalin gobbling up Poland, there was a fair bit about intelligence suggesting that the German blitzkrieg was going to go around the Maginot Line, rather than through it.  Which the powers that be considered inconceivable (for reasons I'm not entirely sure about).  So it's been on my mind.

At the same time I've been reading a good bit about gold lately, more particularly it's rapid and, to some, inconceivable decline, and I just put two and two together.

I painted this for a gold trader in Sweden a couple of years ago, so it's not the first time we've covered the topic ...

I'm quite fond of it, actually.

Ahhh, gold ...

For a period of time I had a white line drawn across the "waist" of the painting -- a more literal interpretation of the Maginot Line.  But then I got rid of it.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

The Masters

Not the movie with Phillip Seymour Hoffman.  No -- the golf tournament.  The one in Augusta.  The one my friend Earl and I snuck into in the mid-70s.  Twice.  One and a half might be a more accurate number -- we were caught the second time while still attempting to penetrate the perimeter.

Crocus-like, The Masters is a harbinger of Spring.  Like the Daytona 500, except everybody's got to be really quiet at certain points.  And it begins today.


Me?  My money's on Rory Mac.  Because I, unlike Jack Nicklaus, don't believe that Tiger Woods is going to win four more majors.  Or five.  Or ten.

And while I'm on the subject, I think it's time to stop talking about Phil Mickelson in the same breath with guys who actually have a chance of winning the tournament.  Mickelson's done, by my reckoning.  He's irrelevant.

Tip to that 14-year old Chinese kid:  Initiate the swing with the left side of your body.  At least, that's what my father always used to tell me.

For the record, I never cared for Augusta National's exclusionary policies.  No blacks.  No women.  In an earlier time I'm sure it was hard to get in if you just had a funny name.  Like O'Malley.  Although I suppose it's good that they've been dragged (kicking and screaming) into the 21st century.

And do you know who's worse than Hootie Johnson and those well-to-do rednecks?  The golfing establishment, which has clear rules about things like racial and sexual discrimination and which chose to do nothing while Augusta rubbed their nose in it.   'It' being poo.

Because it's all about the money, folks.

I leave you with this ...