Friday, May 31, 2013

Giving Catherine the Cheese

Life's a journey.

Did you ever seen Jared Leto and Jennifer Connolly in Requiem for a Dream?  Manoman, what a movie.  Catherine Deneuve, after completing Repulsion for Roman Polanski, observed that the measure of a great actress is not how beautiful she can be, but how ugly.  Something like that.  You don't get to be the face of a nation without having some chops.

That said, how alarming that we've allowed Wayne LaPierre to become the face of our nation, in a sort of a limited way for an off night.

Obviously we're still rough here.

Anyway, back to the moment in Requiem where Leto, driving to Florida in desperation, trying to score some drugs, rolls up his shirt sleeve and the sight of the steaming, puss-ridden, infected pustule of a wound on the inside of his elbow makes you literally jump in your seat.  We're talking Jamie Lee Curtis turning around and seeing that guy with the chainsaw jumping.

I may have that last bit wrong, but you get the picture.

This is a lousy shot, but still ...

So I want you to think of that mouth as the inside of Jared Leto's elbow.  That, friends, is what we're shooting for.

[Brief personal aside:  Memory is a funny thing.  I would have bet money it was his other arm.]

Out of this Mouth ...

It's the mouth that fascinates me ...

And the stuff that's come out of this mouth -- well, it defies belief.

The best portraits, to my mind, start with a fascination by the artist with a particular feature.  I can see this painting starting at the mouth and just blossoming outwards.  Perhaps losing intensity the farther from the mouth it goes, although that may be a bad idea.

Best case scenario -- they put me on that list the NRA has of "enemies."  It would be an honor, and I say this as a member of an organization full of decent people controlled by zealots.

That being the NRA.

I was told, when I joined, that it stood for Not Really Angry.

Apparently, this was a lie.

The experiment didn't work

Not surprising.

The good news is that, while waiting to figure the Angela Merkel silkscreening business out, and in the spirit of by-and-large painting the biggest jerks in the world, I've started a canvas for this guy ...

I find that the more I dislike a person the faster the painting goes.  I should be done by the end of the weekend.

That didn't go well.

Now I have to come up with something new, since instead of hitting "schedule" I hit "publish."

The results of the test

One of the mistakes of blogging is to churn out crap when you have nothing of value to say.  This being the case, I'm just using these two sentences as my test post.  With apologies.

Okay that's three sentences.

God almighty, it's like Catch 22
Yes it is.

I will say this:  I've been reading a lot about Ulysses lately (it's an anniversary of some sort).  And I worry that I'll never read it.

You are being exposed to a test

It's now noon.  My time.  Troy, NY.  Eastern Daylight Time.

I'm testing the schedule function for Blogger by composing a post -- hopefully more interesting than this one -- and scheduling it for airing at 1:00 pm.  An hour from now.


As you have probably noticed, there are days when I burp up two, three, four posts in short succession.  Sometimes they're related; sometimes not.  I'm kind of abstractly in love with the idea of posting something on the hour.  Not every hour, because I've got shit to do.  But kind of stretching things out.

We'll see.

My life in a nutshell

I was checking out Rolling Stone online and came across the rather spacious Matt Tiabbi section. Clicked through a couple of articles and blog posts, including the one that featured my Map painting titled "It's a 401(k) World".

I'd already read the article but not the comments.  So I cruised through.

Came across this first ...

"I love the black hole 401k world thing."  
By someone known as Tsev.

So I was feeling pretty good.  Then I go to ...

"that painting sucks."  
By someone called Livelife Oncctv.

And now I'm not sure how to feel.  I would have preferred a third comment, to break the tie, although that statement seems like the symptom of a weak mind.

I will say this about Tiabbi:  The first chapter of his book "Griftopia", in which he describes attending a Sarah Palin rally, was an act of such inspired reportorial lunacy that I gasped in awe.  The gist being that, at the beginning of the rally, all Taibbi could think about was how much she reminded him of a Southwest Airlines flight attendant, and at the end of the rally how he thought she might be the most dangerous woman in the world.

You should buy it.

[Note to self:  I wonder what is involved in attaching a link to Amazon that would pay me money (a dime? ... a quarter? ... the amount is not important -- it's the thought that matters) if you clicked on it and then actually bought the book.  Those Amazon people are maniacs (in a good way -- one man's opinion).  I bet if you started to poke around, it's really easy.]

Big Bang

Sometimes the New York Times disappoints me.

A couple of days ago I read with much enjoyment Rob Hoerburger's confession about being a late joiner to The Big Bang Theory -- a show I love.

Now he's followed it up with another Big Bang article; this one comparing members of the cast of the Mary Tyler Moore show with the BB cast.   It offered little in the way of fun or adventure, and I went into it expecting a good bit of both.

This second article should be featured in next week's Meh List.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Dispatches from the Front Lines

Okay.  Imagine you've had a magnificent Chippendale desk in the family for centuries.  And your father, in his dotage, sends it out to be cleaned by some local hack.  And the act of cleaning it, even though it cleans up nicely -- what with being made of the finest wood, etc. -- reduces its value at auction from, say, ten million dollars to, say, one hundred fifty thousand.

The good news is that it's an heirloom, and nobody was going to sell it anyway.  But still, sometimes things are better left alone.

I sent my boy Eric to MoMA to report on the rehanging of "One - Number 31, 1950", the flagship Pollock that MoMA has been cleaning, repairing, etc. for the last couple of years.  Fun article about it in the NYT is here.  Be sure and click on the slide show for the good pics.

My dialogue with Eric, stretched over two emails, went like this ...

"Did it look different?  Like technicolor?"
"Very different."

Here's what it used to look like ...
Here's an illegal photo of how it looks now ...

I'll say this about my reporter:  He's a man of few words, but if you need a photo taken of a painting in a place where everyone says "NO PHOTOS ALLOWED" in a loud voice if you're caught doing so, he's your man.

His personal specialty is the Larry Gagosian Gallery, where they are like storm troopers with the no-photos-allowed business.

Read this by Michael Kimmelman about the restoration of the Sistene Chapel.  Same thing, really.  Although they didn't have to work on their backs.

I'm not sure I don't like it better the old way.

They say that when you open a bottle of, say, 1937 Chateau d'Yquem, that those seventy-five years in the bottle have darkened it; that it's the color of tobacco juice.  Then you taste it.  And you stand, dear friends, in that brief moment it takes for the first sip to slide down the back of your tongue, face to face with God Himself.  And all the secrets of the Universe are revealed.

Cue The fucking Doors.

Pornography ... to increase web traffic

Okay, fine ... it isn't pornography.  But it looks like it, if your mind runs in that particular direction.

Do you know how you sometimes end up taking a photo of the inside of your hand with your iPhone?  I was waiting for a friend yesterday and thought it might be interesting to take those same pictures on purpose.  This is the best of the bunch ...

Compelling, yes?  I like the idea of blowing them way up, printing them out about four feet tall.

Somewhat less successful, although I'm fond of it the way you're fond of certain paintings, even when you know they're a disaster ...

It looks a little like the wind has blown your grandmother's skirt up and, Lord have mercy, grammy forgot to put drawers on.

This all may be a bad idea.  Certainly the second one.  But I might fight you about the top image.

John McCain's Neck

Five years ago we were also in the middle of a presidential campaign.  Check out the neck on John McCain.  This painting was annotated immediately after the Republican National Convention and it says more about why Obama would win than the painting I did of Obama himself.

But it's the neck I can't stop looking at.  One of my finest hours.


Go to and buy a print.  We're celebrating (wrong word) the five year anniversary of the near-meltdown of our financial system and this stuff is History, man.  You should have one.

They cost $250, plus $50 domestic shipping/handling.  Fifty dollars off the second (and third, etc.) print.

The older stuff is the most fun.  Spitzer, Cayne, Greenspan, The Screaming Pope, Fuld -- the perfect gift for the person who has everything.

Five years ago ...

... was the middle of the beginning of the financial crisis that still rages in Europe and informs (for good or bad) many of the things Wall Street/Washington does today.

Me?  I'd just painted Eliot Spitzer in March.  And five years and two days ago, I was standing outside of Bear Stearns with my painting of Jimmy Cayne.  And people were asking me when I'd be painting Fuld.

Fast forward five years.  It's been interesting.

Eliot Spitzer's painting remains the most heavily annotated painting I've ever done.  Well over 400 annotations (most average in the 250-350 range).  Usually, with a painting, I engage in a bit of wheedling of the passersby.

"Would you like to write something on my painting, ma'am?"

Stuff like that.  But with Spitzer, people were striding purposefully towards me from blocks away (I could see them coming), grabbing the marker and letting go.  It was a volatile combination of the most hated man on the Street unraveling in the manner of Shakespearean tragedy.

It was something ...

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

John Chamberlain

I wouldn't be much of a host -- if host is what I am -- if I didn't throw up a picture of a John Chamberlain sculpture.  He's the guy who made abstract pieces out of car bumpers and body parts ...

Chamberlain said every one of his standing sculptures contained the spirit of Rodin's sculpture of Balzac.  Which you can sorta see here, although the Balzac pic is poor ...

The Balzac sculpture, of which there are many versions, is the standing sculpture you encounter at the Museum of Modern Art right after you give the man your ticket and he lets you through.

Me?  I think it looks more like a Cylon ...

A General Sense of Malaise

Acrylic on canvas with Volkswagen

Notes from Denver

My friend Earl once sold me a black VW Beatle with a bad valve.  I was glad to see that car go.

But this one, in yellow ...

This one I'd love to have in my spacious foyer.

Okay. I swear this is the end of the Vermeer stuff ...

I succeeded in downloading this from the Rijksmuseum ...

Did you see Inglourious Basterds?  Quite a movie.  Odd spelling of inglorious.  But Christoph Waltz as the charismatic psychopath of a Nazi was stunning.  The image of him drinking the milk in the opening scene at the French farmhouse sticks in my mind.

You have to be in a Tarantino mood -- meaning it's not for the faint of heart.  But if you are ... quite amazing.

This, by the way, is the van Gogh painting I was trying to download earlier ...

Scroll down and look at the difference.

Back to the Netherlands ...

Did that Michele Bachmann video send you running for the Pepcid Complete?   Me too.

Take a deep breath.  Think positive thoughts.  This will help you refocus (although I'm not sure why the video is so huge on the blog page) ...

Our long, national nightmare is over

I apologize for the politics.  But I can't help it.

“This decision was not impacted in any way by the recent inquiries into the activities of my former presidential campaign or my former presidential staff. It was clearly understood that compliance with all rules and regulations was an absolute necessity for my presidential campaign.”

What is this?  Stand-up?

FYI:  I stole the title of the post from John Avlon of the Daily Beast.  His take on the whole thing is here.

Me?  Imagine my selfish delight at her use of the phrase "American exceptionalism."  The very notion of that phrase coming out of Michele Bachmann's mouth is one of the impeti for my in-the-works painting titled "The Myth of American Exceptionalism."

I'm a bit stalled with the thing because I haven't figured out where to put the baby-bottle nipples.

Impeti might be the wrong word, since you only just saw that video and you've been working on the painting for what seems like forever.
Nicely said.  Validation?  Justification?  Ironic juxtaposition?
Those are better.
She's pretty hot, isn't she?
Michele Bachmann.
Only on the outside.

Still banging away

Do you know the difference between Rembrandt and Vermeer?

Well, two things jump to mind:  First, Rembrandt was all about the shadows and Vermeer was all about the light.  Which is the same thing, really, but just a different way of thinking.

Second, and more to the point, you click on the Rijksmuseum's collection of Rembrandts and you get access to more than a thousand images.  You click on Vermeer and you get four.  Which is a more manageable load.

So I've downloaded the four Vermeer images (which, despite me mumbling about the real-world resolution of paintings in the post below, are really interesting to look at highly magnified) into meijne zekondishe verzameling.

Which is me just making up the Dutch.

But we're having fun.  And it's educational.  I mean, I'm a painter -- this is what I'm supposed to be doing when I'm not painting.  Or writing my novella about Vietnam.  Or looking up the times for the afternoon show of The Great Gatsby.  Or living my life in general.

Plus, art historians commonly suggest that the three greatest guys with black are Carravagio, Beckman and me.  So it'll do me some good to see all that light streaming through Vermeer's windows.

On a related note, check out this classic post from 2006 ...


The Girl with the Pearl Earring

About a year ago I was sitting at a table at Elmo, the somewhat-stylish restaurant on 7th Avenue between 19th and 20th Street, in somewhat-stylish Chelsea, staring at the hostess, trying to figure out what it was about her that I found so compelling. I disregarded the fact that she's a knock-out--there was something else.

Then it hit me--she looked just like the girl in Vermeer's "Girl With the Pearl Earring." Or at least she looked as much like that whiter-than-white Dutch girl from the 17th Century as a modern woman of color could.

This, of course, is Vermeer's version (cropped a little, I think):

This is the girl from Elmo (also cropped a little):

And this is the portrait I painted of her:

It's called "Elena C. (Girl With the Pearl Earring, 2005)"

I happened to have a round 42" canvas sitting around the studio. I could never quite decide what I wanted to do with it. But it seemed perfect for this particular task.

But really, what's spooky is how much Elena looks like the Vermeer girl.

Dee dee dee dee (this would be the theme from the Twilight Zone playing).



Mijn eerste verzameling

Do you speak Dutch?  Is that even Dutch?

Anyway, I'm all fired up about the Rijksmuseum's new feature that lets you look at extremely hi-res images of about a ton of paintings from their collection.  So fired up I'm listening to six solo cello suites by J.S. Bach.  Who was German, not Dutch.  But the man had some skills.  Plus, there's always room for cello.

Back to the Rijksmuseum:  I was under the impression, based on an article in the Times, that I'd be able to cut and past images from the website onto TYOMP.  All I seem to be able to do is save those images onto something called Mijn eerste verzameling.

I'm publishing this post now so I can see what happens when I click on the link.

[real time pause]

I'm back.  Still unsure how to proceed.

[real time pause]

I'm back.  The image I'm trying to post is this one ...

A van Gogh self portrait.  I nabbed this image off the web.  Interesting how much greener this one looks than the shot the Rijksmuseum provides.  Which I'm assuming has to be the definitive image.

The interesting thing about zooming into a hi-res image of a painting is that, well ... it's a painting.  And paintings are, by today's technical standards, dramatically lo-res.  I mean, they're just paint slapped on a fairly rough surface.

All the more reason to acknowledge that this whole painting thing is a miracle.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Kathy? You awake?

For those calloused souls amongst you who think Simon and Garfunkel have nothing to offer, consider what a potent line this is ...

Kathy, I'm lost, I said though I knew she was sleeping.

God almighty.

We're all lost, friends.  That's why I'm painting maps these days.  To help you.

And not just maps.  Dark, gaping maws of maps.  And you, dear reader, as often as not are just one small dot in the middle of the abyss.

Me?  I'm awash in a kind of acid-drenched nihilism.

Where are you?

[For you completists, I'm listening to Roger Waters and Van Morrison sing Comfortably Numb]

Is there anybody in there? 
Just nod if you can hear me 
Is there anyone home? 

Come on 
I hear you're feeling down 
I can ease your pain 
Get you on your feet again 

I'll need some information first 
Just the basic facts 
Can you show me where it hurts? 

There is no pain you are receding 
A distant ship's smoke on the horizon 
You are only coming through in waves 
Your lips move 
But I can't hear what you're saying 

When I was a child I had a fever 
My hands felt just like 
Two balloons 
Now I've got that feeling once again 
I can't explain 
You would not understand 
This is not how I am 

I... Have become comfortably numb 

Just a little pin prick 
There'll be no more aaaaaaaah! 
But you may feel a little sick 

Can you stand up? 
I do believe it's working 
That'll keep you going through the show 
Come on 
It's time to go 

There is no pain you are receding 
A distant ship's smoke on the horizon 
You are only coming through in waves 
Your lips move 
But I can't hear what you're saying 

When I was a child 
I caught a fleeting glimpse 
Out of the corner of my eye 

I turned to look but it was gone 
I cannot put my finger on it now 
The child is grown 
The dream is gone 
I... Have become comfortably numb 

The Bear Returns

With renewed interest in Bear Stearns, three items might be of interest.  First, Big Jimmy himself, in all his annotated glory ...

There's a child-like earnestness, a simple-minded sweetness to the way I lettered the title.  I wish I didn't know now what I didn't know then.

This is one of my top-five favorite streetside photos ...

I have actually tried several times to get a file of the image from the photographer, to no avail.  Which, entre nous, really pisses me off.

Then, as Bob Marley says, "Read it in da News" ...

Entre nous?  Really?  Only the most pompous jerk in the world uses phrases like entre nous.  Have you no self-respect?
In my defense, I've been using a lot of French in Saigon: 2B2F.  Now I can't stop.
You speak French?
I rest my case.

I Know Lloyd Blankfein is Sleeping Easier These Days

Seems like you never hear much about Goldman Sachs these days.

Plus, given their role in the Bear Stearns debacle -- both in current news and as a major player in my novella -- it seems all I talk about these days is JPMorgan.  Which must be a relief for Lloyd.

Map painting of current Bear/JPM mortgage brouhaha ...

Cue The fucking Doors

Surely you didn't think I'd let an opportunity like this go by ...

This is the coda of "Saigon: 2B2F", my almost-finished opus ...

The End …

         I sit in the restaurant for a while, finishing my wine.  Then I realize I told The Gravedigger I’d meet him at McManus. 
         Outside there’s a film crew interviewing the owner of the bodega next door to the restaurant.  A fat man with a beard is waving me through. “Just keep walking,” he whispers, sotto voce.  “Don’t look at the camera.  Just keep walking.”
         After I’m out of the line of fire I ask one of the crew what they’re shooting.
         It’s one of those Goldman Sachs ads.
         Cue The fucking Doors.

[Disregard the weird formatting]

Monday, May 27, 2013

Best Memorial Day Picture Ever

Things should start to get interesting right about now

Miami Vice.  Season One.  Episode Six.  Everything changes.

Because let's be honest -- Episodes One through Five were a disaster.  But a month and a half into the run, everything changes.

--NBC figures out that the show is a legitimate hit and starts spending more money per episode.
--Jan Hammer finally tweaks the theme song into the magnificent final version everyone's familiar with.
--They ship Sonny's estranged wife and kid to Atlanta.
--They fire the clown who's playing the Lieutenant and replace him with Edward James Olmos (alert the Cylons).  Olmos brings a darkness to the center of the show that anchors all the strawberry-colored foolishness that revolves around it.
--Director Michael Mann (perhaps inspired by Olmos) find his mojo with a tone one might call acid-drenched nihilism.

If only they'd also fired the clown who played Rico Tubbs (Philip Michael Thomas).

Wait -- maybe not.  Sometimes what sounds like a good idea ends up a bad one.  That said, Thomas may be the single worst actor to ever play a lead in a major network hit.  Possible competition is the unwatchably sanctimonious performance by Magnum P.I. on Blue Bloods.  Which is genuinely horrible.

But my money is on Thomas for worst ever.  I IMDb'd him and the only notable credit he's got, other than MV, is some voice-over work on Grand Theft Auto.  Which is a video game about the thug life in Miami.  Which makes, I suppose, a certain amount of sense.

Here's where they blow up Sonny's 365 Daytona Spyder (which was really a Corvette pimped-up to look like a Ferrari) with a stinger missile ...

It contains one of the few excellent line readings Thomas ever delivered.

Speaking of Women who Like a Long Walk in the Wilderness ...

"The lasting pleasures of contact with the natural world are not reserved for scientists but are available to anyone who will place himself under the influence of earth, sea, and sky, and their amazing life."

This from Rachel Carson, born today.  Likewise John Cheever.  Likewise Dashiell Hammett.

May 27th:  A good day for the bookish set.

It took me six days to hitchhike from Saginaw

This is a photograph by my friend Mary Jane O'Malley ...

Taken at Oakwood Cemetery, which is Troy's version of the extraordinary Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn (which gets 5 stars in Yelp.  Who knew?).  I hope she doesn't mind me using it.

Memorial Day ...

A nice day for introspection, drinking some coffee, reading the newspaper, eating some shredded wheat, hanging around the studio, listening to some Simon and Garfunkel (which I can't stop doing, intermittently, ever since seeing a documentary a couple of months ago about the making of Bridge over Troubled Water), plus some other stuff.

Speaking of the newspaper, Dominique Browning wrote a lovely essay for the Travel Section of The Times about walking 65 miles of the Welsh coast in five days.  Mostly in the rain.  Talk about introspection ...

Anyway, it can be read here, and I enjoyed it very much with my shredded wheat and my coffee.  Reminded me of my buddy Lance, who dropped everything and walked the Appalachian Trail a couple of years ago.  Except Ms. Browning, who was once the editor-in-chief of House and Garden (and who, during her reign, was to chintz what Anna Wintour is to taffeta), stayed in bed and breakfasts.

As I type, the boys are singing Homeward Bound.  Talk about introspection ...

Mary Jane's a lovely woman with red hair.  Do you think the photo, in some way, could be considered a self-portrait?
Your thesis being that the statue is her and the autumn foliage represents her hair?
Come again?
No.  It's not a self-portrait.  Excluding, of course, the intellectually glib suggestion that every photograph is a self-portrait.
Why not?
That's an angel, right?
Angels are all men.  No women allowed.
That sucks.
Yes it does.
Why do I get the feeling that when they were laying out the general ground-rules for the relationship between heaven and earth, there was nobody in the room but men?
Theology's a bitch, man.
Yes it is.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

And meanwhile, at Monaco ... Volume 3

It didn't go well.

Rosberg first -- which is fine.  Apparently Mercedes has figured out the tire business.  Raikkonen fifth, I think, and Alonso 7th.  Neither being good news.  Vettel came in second, which is the worst part, since he substantially padded his points lead vs. the other two guys.

If I was at Monaco earlier today, this annotated photo shows you where I'd like to sit -- assuming, of course, that I was not invited aboard some massively plush vessel ...

From the left:  The cars come out of a long tunnel doing about a buck-seventy-five then stamp on the clampers to negotiate the Nouvelle Chicane.  Most of the passing that happens at Monaco happens there, by the way.  Plus some wrecks.  Plus a good deal of general mischief.  All as a function of inadvisedly trying to pass someone else.

Then they come flying right at you before hurtling around the bend -- called Tabac -- at an extremely high rate of speed, disappearing shortly afterwards out the right side of the picture and then, as is the nature of Grand Prix spectating, out of view.  But not before you see them negotiate another chicane as they work their way around Piscene (otherwise known as the Swimming Pool).

And if you're bored, you can stare out at the boats and the Mediterranean beyond.

Only two guys have ever driven their cars into the water at Monaco (and one, it should be noted, was Juan Fangio, who was certainly not chopped liver).  Both survived.  Both happened around the chicane near the Swimming Pool.

I don't think you can get your car in the water anymore.  I think it would end up on the back deck of a boat.

In 2006, Kimi Raikkonen, my favorite guy, was in second place when his car broke down along this part of the course.  He got out of the car and, instead of walking back to the pits the way everybody else would, he walked, in full suit and helmet, to his boat, which was docked alongside the course.  Took his duds off, put on a bathing suit, opened a beer (prolly a Bud Light) and watched the rest of the race.

It caused quite a stir at McLaren -- an organization that takes its Grand Prix racing pretty seriously.

How'd he get such a nice boat, you're asking?  In 2009 Forbes ranked him as the second-highest paid athlete in the world, behind only Tiger Woods.

God bless the man.

[UPDATE:  Kimi came in 10th]

Pause a while, and let my counsel sway you.

This is written under one of the arms of my Uncle Sam.  This meaning the text in the photo below, not the title of the post above.  The title above is a line from Much Ado About Nothing.

Me?  I feel like each of my annotated works need only yield one great truth to be a successful painting or whatever.  And the above is a great truth.

Sad to say, Troy's a town full of beer snobs.  And let me tell you, beer, barbecue and one other thing that escapes me just now are food/drink categories about which much ado is made about more or less nothing.

Take barbecue.  I've eaten a ton of it in my day, including but by no means limited to award winners at Troy's famous Pig Out event, little country places in Virginia and North Carolina, lots of so-called high-end BBQ places in New York City, and some ribs grilled on a Webber with some Kraft original slathered on.  And to the people who have taken barbecue connoisseurship to the level of religious zealotry, I say:  Get a Life.  It's just fucking barbecue.

And, unlike some of the grand cuisines like French or Chinese (just to pick two), the range between raggedy ass barbecue and the best of the best is, in fact, relatively narrow.  It's like the joke that goes:  Even lousy pizza is pretty good.  There's a similar joke about sex (although good sex is nothing to sneeze at).

Get a life.

Beer, my friends, is the same way.  Only one of the bars I frequent in Troy carries Bud Light on tap.  Another carries Pabst.  And although I think carrying Pabst is some kind of ironic hipster bullshit, I manage to drink it without any sense of irony at all.

A friend of mine owns a bar and he sometimes publicizes on Facebook that he's serving artisanal slash exotic beers with slightly amusing names.  Like this was something about which to be excited.

Refocus, man.

I'm all for leading the examined life.  But the key to doing so is knowing what to examine thoroughly and what to simply enjoy for what it is.  Beer and barbecue and one other thing I can't think of just now are things about which minimal examination is warranted.  Beyond that is nonsense.

I'll have a Pabst.

And meanwhile, at Monaco ... Volume 2

Before I went to breakfast I turned on the TV to make sure it was taping the race (it had arbitrarily neglected to tape the quali).  It was.

During my brief peek, Nico Rosberg -- a nice young fellow and a bit of a marked man with Lewis Hamilton joining the team -- was still in front.  Which was odd; I would have thought he'd have dropped back by lap 38.

I now go upstairs to watch the whole thing.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Questions for the Gods of Basketball

Did I miss the memo?  When did Roy Hibbert become Wilt Chamberlain and Bill Russell, all in one package?

Me?  I'm not buying it.

Me?  Me and my teammates would be taking it to the rack every single possession.  He may block some, but the fouls will accumulate and the forces of Good will prevail.

Me?  I am not afraid of Roy Hibbert.

The only problem is that I don't play for the Knicks.  Or the Heat.  I'm probably not good enough to play for the Heat anyway, but I think I could definitely make the Knicks roster.

And meanwhile, at Monaco ...

... the Mercedes have taken the front row.  Which is not surprising.  The problem with the Mercedes is that they are blisteringly fast in qualifying, but once the race starts their tires wear out faster than anybody else's and they usually finish in the 5th-12th range.

I wouldn't care except that the second row is populated with Red Bulls.  And once the Mercedes blow up, the Bulls will be in the front.  Which is bad, because it is really difficult to pass at Monaco.

Alonso, in his Ferrari, is in the 5th spot.

Options for the Average Joe

Have you read Nathaniel Popper's piece in the Times about brokerage houses making options trading easier for people like me?  The average joe?  Click here.

A significant subset of everything you need to know about what is wrong with the world is enclosed therein, but the gist of the thing is that brokerages like E*Trade and Schwab and Ameritrade are opening new avenues to play the options game.  And their customers are, predictably, getting crushed.

The ironies abound, but the closing couple of paragraphs take the cake.  In them, a former Ameritrade executive bemoaned the fact that the company was having to engage in expensive marketing campaigns to generate new clients.  Why?  Because the existing Ameritrade clients who started trading options were losing all their money and closing their accounts.

A current Ameritrade executive denies that this is true.

I'd type more, but I'm massively short on Beam Inc (only because I drink Jack Daniels and I figure there must be more people like me out there) and I'm getting nervous.  I'll leave you with this ...

See more paintings like this at

Friday, May 24, 2013


You should buy a print of one of my annotated paintings.

$250, plus $50 for domestic shipping and handling (the sale is unfortunately over).  22"x33", signed and numbered.  I've been selling quite a few lately, perhaps because the shit hit the fan five years ago.

To see them all, go to

Down Memory Lane

Somebody just asked me about a print of this ...

My guess is that Hank Paulson started screaming around the beginning of 2008 and didn't stop til he handed the reins to Geithner the next spring.  But I bet he still wakes up in the middle of the night with chills.

I suppose I should include this image too ...

Just so we're clear.

A Francis Bacon classic titled, predictably, The Screaming Pope.

And just so we're pulling all the loose ends together, take a look at this ...

Both of which were taken from the image of the peasant woman on the Odessa Steps taking a bullet through the eye in Battleship Potemkin.

Wow.  Art history.  Goosebumps to be walking the same road as Francis Bacon.  I am not worthy.

Silk-screening Angela

The reason Angela Merkel looks so sad is either:

1 -- She realizes that Keynes was right
2 -- She realizes she doesn't care (which is a personal short-coming, no doubt)
3 -- This whole silk-screening business isn't quite panning out the way I'd anticipated and she's experiencing sympathetic harmonics.

This last one seems unlikely.

Regardless, consider this ...

This is my Krugman painting before anybody wrote on it.  What's hard to see here but quite evident in the flesh is the the gentle shading on the face of the painting.  Krugman was drawn on primed canvas with medium soft charcoal.  I then took a two and a half inch angled brush dipped in water and kind of smushed the charcoal around.  You can certainly see the effect in the shoulders, but it's a soft, gentle effect.  I'm very fond of it.

When you're done, you spray some fixative on it so it doesn't blur any further.

Merkel, on the other hand, was drawn on the computer, using a mouse.  Which is no picnic, let me tell you -- I should get one of those stylus pads

Anyway, the fun thing is that, after the drawing is complete, you dial in the palette knife tool and you can do strange and wonderful things to what started out as straight, clear lines.  Her eyebrows are an excellent example, plus all the doodling on the side of her nose.

Anyway, I'm waiting to see a sample of canvas from a local sign maker, who says he can print the Merkel image on the canvas.  My concern is that I'm picky about my canvas and I'm having reservations.

The fall back is to bring my digital projector down from upstairs, load the Merkel image, and project it on my own canvas, then sketch verbatim, if you will, then smush the stuff around with a wet brush.  Which is fine, but not perfect, as I have fixed in my head the idea that the images would be identical.  Which they won't be if I start manually smushing.

Here's What 45 Million Will Get You

While we're talking about expensive gilded frames and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, are you familiar with Duccio's "Madonna and Child"?

Notable for several things:

First, the painting is roughly the size of a sheet of typing paper
Second, they paid forty-five Large for it
Third, the "child" looks an awful lot like Al Roker.

None of this is as important, however, as cracking into the Met's web-based archive and looking at extremely hi-res versions of some of the most famous works of art in the world.

The Duccio painting is just one.  I zoomed in on the thing til it more than filled my 27" Mac's screen and the detail (magnified many times beyond life size) is quite something.

This, I can only assume (would it kill them to say something?), is some kind of x-ray image of the same painting, also in super hi-res.  Which is also interesting.

These people are maniacs.  A term I use here only in the most complimentary manner.

Here's a pen and ink by Goya.

Goya.  Oh boya!

Here, in the spirit of Andy Warhol -- who's been getting a lot of ink on TYOMP lately -- are some Frijoles Negros.  



People say the George Washington Bridge is one of the most beautiful bridges in the world.  But it's not.  It's ugly, in fact.  If you need to know why, send a message to my twitter account @GVRaymond.

This, by the way, looks more like the 59th Street Bridge.

But that's not what we're here for.  We're here to talk about numbers.  And I know you people hate it when I talk about blog numbers.  But still, would it have killed eleven more people to have visited The Year of Magical Painting yesterday, so I could have cracked 500?

I can't quite figure out what, barring simple excellence, has contributed to a surge in readership.  I'm predicting that today will be my seventh straight 400+ day, but the surge has been evident for the past several months.

I like the idea of 500+ becoming the new normal.  Currently it's 400.

Lord, Bless Ina Drew

Do you remember this painting?

I was reading a piece in The Times about the newly refurbished European wing of the Met and they spent a bit of time talking about frames.  As it happened with the Drew painting, I actually stumbled on the frame and then decided to paint a canvas to fit.  Thus the atypical dimensions of two by four.

Even though the frame was a cheap, $50 flea-market find (unlike the real deals at the Met), I liked the Old Master look it gave the painting.  I also liked the way the sepias of the exposed newsprint and that bit of red in the upper right hand corner complemented the gilt frame.  And vice-versa.  So it was all good.

But there's a part of me that thinks it would be even cooler if the frame was painted gloss black.  And maybe even permanently fused with the painting by means of two or three thick coats of gloss varnish on both the frame and the surface of the painting.

It would give it that same darkly-menacing mien as Sonny's black Ferrari in the early Miami Vice episodes.

Me?  I can feel it coming in the air tonight.

I have one word to say to you ...

... AC72.

Which may be an alpha-numeric designator, not a word.  But it refers to the controversial winged-sail catamaran currently used to compete in the America's Cup.

The Seven Years of Magical Painting have not been without their share of astounding things (mostly, I might suggest, the work that springs out of the side of my head like thunderbolts from Zeus), and this video is surely one of them.  Bear with the first thirty seconds or a minute until you get to the part where the boat is either sailing or flying -- I'm not sure exactly what it's doing.

Lord have mercy!

Just for the record, the thing, at waterline, is 72 feet long!  There are moments in the video when the only parts of the boat that are in the water are the rudder and the daggerboard.  My understanding is that there's a hydrodynamic foil at the bottom of the daggerboard that lifts the whole thing out of the water.

Which is obviously impossible.

Me?  I used to get excited sailing my sneakbox at what was probably five knots.  It felt tremendously fast.  These things go 40 knots!  Which is astounding.

Remember all that mumbo-jumbo about basketball a couple of posts ago?  Talking about achieving serenity at the moment when you release the basketball (excluding dunks, of course)?  Well, it's the same thing here.  I find the moments when that massive boat is gliding through the water -- above the water, really -- to be deeply peaceful.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

And just one last item on the Knicks

Partially torn labrum -- Carmelo Anthony.  Surgery to follow.

Not an excuse, exactly, but I've had shoulder troubles and it is amazing how much it hurts.  Playing NBA playoff basketball while having a torn labrum is an accomplishment.  And I don't care it it was his non-shooting arm -- I appreciate Melo sucking it up for the team regardless.

Rumors that JR Smith -- my main man -- was hurt too, although details have yet to emerge.

All this is presented only to keep you current, not as whinging.

Ai WeiWei

You'll remember the passing reference to extraordinary balls in my letter to Lance.  Well, Chinese stir-the-shit-social-artist Ai WeiWei has even bigger ones.  And both of them.  Check out this video -- made as an exploration of his time as a prisoner of the Chinese state -- and now up on U-Tube.

And the man still lives in China!

Shit like this can get you arrested, dude.

Edward Wong wrote a pretty amazing piece in The Times about it.  Click here.

Ai WeiWei is the type of subversive artist that drives totalitarian governments nuts.  Here he is with fifty or so of the gazillion ceramic "seeds" he filled the main hall of the Tate Modern with.

God bless the man.

Me?  I'm subversive too, but in a different way.  I leave you now to go upstairs and watch the Thursday practice session for the Grand Prix of Monaco.