Friday, August 30, 2013

And this sad news too ...

Seamus Heaney, poet, dead yesterday.

I loved his translation of Beowulf, the first line of which was "So."  Which I always thought was like starting a novel with "Okay."

Anyway, check this shorty out.  It's one of my favorites ...

Mid-Term Break

I sat all morning in the college sick bay
Counting bells knelling classes to a close.
At two o'clock our neighbors drove me home.

In the porch I met my father crying--
He had always taken funerals in his stride--
And Big Jim Evans saying it was a hard blow.

The baby cooed and laughed and rocked the pram
When I came in, and I was embarrassed
By old men standing up to shake my hand

And tell me they were 'sorry for my trouble,'
Whispers informed strangers I was the eldest,
Away at school, as my mother held my hand

In hers and coughed out angry tearless sighs.
At ten o'clock the ambulance arrived
With the corpse, stanched and bandaged by the nurses.

Next morning I went up into the room. Snowdrops
And candles soothed the bedside; I saw him
For the first time in six weeks. Paler now,

Wearing a poppy bruise on his left temple,
He lay in the four foot box as in his cot.
No gaudy scars, the bumper knocked him clear.

A four foot box, a foot for every year. 

                               -- Seamus Heaney


The kicker is that you make this assumption that the kid was killed by an Irish car bomb or something related to The Troubles (that being Heaney's wheelhouse).  And really it was just a car accident.

So I'm walking the dog last night ...

Did I mention I'm dog-sitting Chloe, my daughter's puggle?  Well, I am.

So I'm walking the dog last night and there's a kind of an out of the way lot of grass that she loves to take a dump in.  So we're walking in the lot of grass and I see an animal I can't quite recognize.  At first I think it's a cat, but it's too small and strangely whispy.  Then the dog sees it and tears after it.  At the same time, the animal, which upon closer examination is a skunk, sees us and assumes the position.

Me?  Lightening reflexes save the day.  I reel Chloe in and drag her away, praying that a skunk has less range than, say, a spitting cobra.  Which, apparently, it does.  Or doesn't.  I'm not sure which is correct.

I'm not sure exactly what "assumes the position" means.
It turns around, lifts it tail and prepares to do something nasty.
Which would be twerking?
Really?  You're going there?
Why not?  It's all the rage.
As the world we know slowly settles into the shitter, I'd hoped that the word twerking would never appear on these pages.  That I could draw a line in the sand vis-a-vis common decency.  Now you've ruined that.

The final outcome is that nobody got skunk spray all over themselves.  And I just googled spitting cobras and they can spit about six feet.  I'd thought it was further.  Or farther.  I'm not sure which is correct.

And besides, this isn't about some stupid skunk.  This is about Gus, the neurotic polar bear in the Central Park Zoo.  Who, after 27 years of highly public neurosis (a perfect New Yorker, this bear), kicked the bucket yesterday.

This is Gus, as he might have been rendered by Rodin ...

If Rodin worked in white.

Adios, campagnolo.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

The commentariat presses forward

I love the back and forth with my people.  The same person who wrote about Ferrari-driven elitism offered this follow up ...

If you think the world needs a ferrari, then Paint the fuckin Ferrari man instead of bull crapping about it ... you no artist, you a preacha

I'm not going to start painting cars, man.  But here's a great photo of a car for sale in my neighborhood ...

Manoman, look at that thing!  A mid-80s Cadillac Seville -- this one with a two-tone tan over brown scheme.

I used to own one.  Years ago.  Mine was that Cadillac baby blue, if you can call it to mind.  I loved it.  The license plate reads "1 Sweet 83" -- a reference to both the beautiful shape the car's in as well as its year.  Which is odd, because I would have sworn mine was an '86.  If I had the 8.5K floating around doing nothing and I didn't already have a touring sedan, I would totally buy the thing.

It wasn't until Chris Bangle got ahold of the BMW styling department and started to mess things up that the design of a rear end been this jolting.  Me?  I like it.  Lots of people don't.

I should take it for a test drive.  The hood, when you are behind the wheel, feels like it's fifteen feet long.  And the car, not exactly nimble, seems to take forever to respond to steering input ... but in a good way.  Truth be told, this was not the greatest car in the world.  But floating down the road in one, with the stereo on, was as good a thing to do as the next.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

As second Uncle Sam statue loses head, first one returns

This from no less than the Troy Record ...

TROY – A well-known figure has returned to the corner of Third and Broadway in downtown, and the hope is that he will keep his head this time.

A statue of Uncle Sam adorned in city-centric thoughts, marks, and comments was re-installed next to the Quackenbush building on Monday morning, more than a month after a botched theft attempt left the statue headless. The culprit, a 22-year-old Watervliet man, was later arrested.

“We have repaired him, rehabilitated him and, happily, now have him restored back to the streetscape where he belongs,” said Elizabeth Young, director of the downtown Troy Business Improvement District.

The Annotated Uncle Sam — as the statue is titled — is the product of artist Geoffrey Raymond, one of 25 artists commissioned to decorate fiberglass likenesses of Uncle Sam — a personification of the United States that may be based on a 19th century Troy meat packer and brick maker — as part of a civic art project sponsored by the BID.

The reinstallation comes on the heels of a separate incident that decapitated an Uncle Sam statue on Fourth Street. That statue, titled Uncle Rainbow for its colorful figure, was found missing its head in the wee hours Saturday, according to city police.

I feel sorry for Ms. Young for having to say sentences like ...

“We're not sure what may have happened, but we woke up Saturday morning to find him still bolted to the ground but, unfortunately, missing his head.”

I wonder if she smiles when she says it.

You can read the whole story, by Ian Benjamin, here.  And here's the salient photo, if you're too busy to click through ...

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Ying Li

This is quite charming.  I love her talking about trying to find the right spot to set up her easel.

A black day for the Mets nation

Matt Harvey, professional flamethrower, likely to miss 2014 with Tommy John surgery.  How depressing.

Monday, August 26, 2013

The commentariat weighs in

Somebody was nice enough to submit a comment on the previous post.  Since nobody really writes to the Colonel (me) that much, I usually print them in a separate post.  Because initiative should be rewarded.

The comment read:  Ferrari.  Formula One.  Blah...blah...blah.  Elitist bull crap

Whoa, Nelly!  Hold on, I'm going downstairs to get more coffee ...

[three minutes]

First of all, there are no negative points awarded for signing "anonymous."  This appears to be the default setting for my comments section, and people tell me the process is cumbersome at best.  So that's okay.

On a more substantive level, I wonder this:  Does calling Formula 1 "elitist bull crap" mean we should be watching NASCAR instead?   Which, the record clearly shows, I do.  And do you know those headlights are just decals?  Talk about elitist crap.  And Jeff Gordon, who probably isn't even the top money winner anymore -- I should be googling Jimmy Johnson -- earns about 25 million a year and is said to be worth 150 Large.  So that's pretty elitist.  And he rarely has to turn right!

Update:  Dale Earnhardt, Jr., who would need an act of Congress to win a race makes 29 million a year -- just about what Fernando Alonso makes.

It's all entertainment, baby.  What about all the money they pay Derek Jeter (picking the least controversial high-end ball player I know)?  Aaron Rogers?  Tiger fucking Woods.  Shouldn't they just be playing for the love of the game?  It's all elitist bull crap.

Likewise, I would hope it goes without saying, Dick Fuld, Jimmy Cayne, Big Lloyd.  Hell, even the regulators are rich (see: Paulson, Henry).

Speaking as the father of a daughter who teaches special ed in the Bronx (just typing those words makes the tips of my fingers swell with pride), school teachers should be getting a lot more and race car drivers should be getting a lot less.  But that's not the world we live in.

Nor am I, dear reader, immune to criticism.  The fact that you can buy a used Ferrari for what some of my paintings have sold for is just as cra-cra as the rest of the examples above.

Note to Anonymous:  Shit, it just occurred to me that almost everything I write about on this blog, including myself, but excluding Marianne Faithfull singing As Tears Go By, is elitist bull crap.  If it bugs you, read a gardening blog.

Nonetheless, thank you for your input.  As a reward for your comment I'll offer you one numbered print from my Wall Street series for the price of $150, plus s/h.  Send me a note.

[long pause]

Oh, and one more thing.  I don't know about you, but when I fantasize about driving high performance cars, I tend to think about Ferraris more than I do Toyota Camrys or Ford Fusions.  That's not elitist; that's just practical.

Maybe you should put a paper bag over your mouth and breath into it for a while.
No -- it's okay.  I did get a bit lathered up for moment.  But it's okay.
Good.  Because we didn't want to lose you.
No.  I'm fine.
Good.  On a related topic, I'm unsure of the definition of "cra-cra."  Likewise the pronunciation.
It's slang for nuts.  Crazy.  Pronounced "cray cray".
And your choice of slang here would be a strategy for making the readers think of you as just one more normal old Joe.  One more guy with his feet up, shouting at the little woman to bring a beer, eyes glued to the set, desperate for somebody to buy it at Talladega?
Something like that.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

The problem with Ferraris

Once they are in the race they are really fast.  But they don't qualify well.  Something unbelievably complicated about not being able to get enough heat in the tires during the super-short stints that characterize the qualification rounds.  If it wasn't unbelievably complicated they'd have fixed it by now, don't you think?

So Sebastian Vettel gets to start on the front row (him with the nice warm tires) and my boy Alonso starts 9th.


At the end of the Belgian GP, Vettel was first and Alonso, after an Herculean effort, was second.  Safe to say that if he'd qualified somewhere closer to the front than the middle, he'd have won.

I just feel like vomiting.

Is it an Herculean effort?  Or a?
It's probably the latter.  But when I say it out loud, an always sounds better than a.
That's because the H is virtually silent.
Virtually.  That's the rub.
Aye.  And I bet you put the emphasis on the second syllable, not the third.
I do.
That makes a difference too.  If you really punch the third syllable it sounds better with an a.   I think it makes the H pop a bit.
Duly noted.
I'm just saying.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Eau Rouge

Do you ever wish you were in Belgium?

Me?  I spent a lot of time in Belgium back in the day and I think the country is a little bit under-rated.  And I say this with the full understanding that literally every man in the country appears to own the same dark-green hounds-tooth blazer.  Truth is, I desperately wish I was there right now.


Good God, man!  They're running the Belgian Grand Prix tomorrow.  More specifically, tomorrow at 7:30 EDT.  NBC Sports Network, if you're counting.  My boy Alonso is 9th on the grid and perhaps it's time to just admit that it's just not our year.

Here's some static footage of what is possibly the coolest corner in all of Formula 1:  Eau Rouge.  Disregard the weird opening graphics.

I don't know if it ever passed, but the Daytona International Speedway last year introduced some state legislation that would allow fans to be buried at Daytona.  Me?  I'd like to be buried on that crescent shaped patch of green right in the middle of Eau Rouge. I'd of course insist that my gravestone be made of styrofoam so as not to present a danger to the drivers.

You don't really get it from the video, but Eau Rouge is the epitome of F1 racing.  Flat out, entering at 190+ (and we're talking miles per hour, not kilometers) coming down the hill, slight left turn, bottom out, slight right turn going back up the hill, slight left at the top of the hill and you're back on the straightaway.

All of which is being done at the absolute limit of adhesion.  Lateral g-forces reach 4; 2Gs compression at the bottom of the hill; -1G going over the top of the hill.  Which means the car wants to fly, except that modern F1 cars exert 2-3 times their body weight in downward aerodynamic pressure so it still sticks to the road (meaning that @150+ MPH they can drive upside down).

Not sure what the internal organs are doing during this transition period.

Is this too much?
Forgive my enthusiasm.
Enthusiasm is good for the soul.
Yes it is.  And I'd be remiss if I didn't suggest that Kimi Raikkonen's pass of Michael Schumacher on Eau Rouge in, maybe, 2011 was one of the ten greatest sports moments of the millennium.

Let's all tune in tomorrow and live-blog the race.

Scotch bonnet

[Which, the record should show, is not a term from a Jane Austen novel]

I was making some pasta the other night -- just a simple recipe with tomatoes, fresh peas, chopped parsley, olive oil and garlic -- when I decided to chop up a Scotch bonnet and put some of it in.

A Scotch bonnet?
Yes.  It's a type of pepper.
I know that.  But my God, man.  You might just as well have said you got in bed with a black mamba.
A black mamba?
Yes.  It's a type of snake.
The one named after Kobe Bryant?
Well, it wasn't as serious as that.  Although I'm under the impression that if you did find a black mamba in your bed and then somehow got out of the bed without it biting you and fled for your life, the snake crawls faster on open ground than most people can run.  So it would hunt you down and bite you anyway.
Now I'm gonna have nightmares.
But it wasn't a snake, was it?  It was just a hot pepper.
The hottest in the world.  The black mamba of peppers.
It was, I must admit, a hot motherfucker.
Exactly.  Better you should have been bitten by a snake.
You know your dish is too hot when, as you stare into your pasta, sweat pools on the tip of your nose and drips into the food.

Do you know those uber-peasant pasta dishes where the sauce largely consists of bread crumbs, oil and garlic?  Like a super aglio et olio?  A lot of the recipes call for sauteing a couple of anchovy fillets in the oil before you add any of the other stuff.  The fun thing about the anchovies is that they basically disappear, leaving behind a richness that isn't fishy at all.  Kind of like the oboe in the back of the symphony.

I bring this all up because I noticed I had a veggie burger in my refrigerator and wasn't sure what to do with it.  So I chopped it into bits and threw it in the oil along with the tomatoes.  And voila, it just all sort of came apart.  Gave itself up.  Became one with the whole.  And isn't that, friends, what we're all trying to do?

Later, while eating it, I thought of the aglio et olio thing.

Friday, August 16, 2013

One T

Apparently Ducati is spelled with just one T.

Am getting a lot of pressure to paint Alex Rodriguez.  Am resisting.  Spitzer is a thought, however.  Will be interesting to see how he does in the primary, then we'll reassess.  The good news is he's pretty easy to paint.  All sort of ears and cheekbones.

clips from the archive

this is kind of fun

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Spittle and teeth on the bar

If you change it to "spit" you might have a country western song.

Spit and teeth on the bar
Moonshine in a Mason jar
I used to love my baby
Til her dog ate my guitar.

Needs work, but something like that. 

Suicidal Ideation ...

... which is the title I attach to every post that contains a photo of a motorcycle I covet.

I used to be hot to trot for a Harley Davidson V-Rod that was frequently parked in front of my house this summer.  But now I'm all gaga over this assassin-black Ducati.

I mean, honestly.  Is this too much by half?  Three quarters?  The photo stinks -- iPhone at night with flash.  I may go out tomorrow to see if it's still there and capture a better image -- but surely half the people who own such motorcycles are actually employed ninja warriors.  What else could they do?

A friend of mine, perhaps a decade older than me, recently purchased an Indian Chief for purposes of motoring about Woodstock, where he's just bought a house.  The Indian is something to see, even if only in pictures. It's got this very interesting full-cover front fender, and it's a fuller, richer motorcycle experience than the Ducati.

That isn't accurate at all.  But it's a cruising bike, not an F-16 analog.  So fuller and richer in that sense, as opposed to, say, when they melt razor blades into the handles of their toothbrushes at Riker's Island.  The Ducatti is more like the razor blade business.

Anyway, I asked him to leave the Indian to me in his will, as it surely feels like the next time he gets on it will be his last.

And speaking of near-death experiences, I almost got into a fight at the Peter McManus Cafe -- an unusual event for me given that I'm a placid sort -- because I jocularly called a guy a snowflake.  My point was that we are all snowflakes, but he didn't quite latch onto it in the same way.

Just for the record, I could totally have taken the guy.  He drops his right hand when he jabs and over the course of ten or so rounds there was surely hay to be made with the left hook.  First to the ribs  (several times, just to imprint the notion of the hook going to the ribs), and then, when Jupiter aligns with Mars and the Moon is in the Seventh House -- if you're getting the gist of the thing -- and you see that jab coming and that other hand starting to drop ... bingo, it's Christmas in August!

Spittle and teeth on the bar.

But honestly, who's got time for that?  Besides, the whole idea of bar fights is to get in the first shot.  But if I did that I risked getting a life-time ban from my favorite bar (they don't care for fighting).  So I was experiencing some anxiety about being on the receiving end of the initial salvo.

Which is odd, since I like playing black in chess.  The whole thing was a conundrum.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Cleanliness is next to Godliness

I"m not even sure what that means, given our very skewed ideas about Godliness in this country.  But I was using a friend's new washing machine recently and I didn't care for the experience.

The machine is one of the exotic new front-loading types.  Not too exotic -- it came from Sears, not Miele or Krupps or one of those other companies that built the tanks that laid Belgium low -- but exotic enough for you to load the thing, push power, adjust the settings in a way that seemed analog but was really digital, and then wait for it to measure the size of the load before telling you how much soap to put in.

And the measuring was excruciating.  A little of this, a little of that.  Some mechanical humming.  Some turning of the drum, just to make sure everything had been measured properly.  Some more humming.  Finally, the instructions said to use level 2, which was marked on the side of the measuring cup that must have come with the machine.

What happens if you lose the cup?

Anyway, I felt better when you just stuffed your clothes in the top, evened out the load was well as you could, threw in a handful of powder and pushed start.  Now that, friends, was Godliness.  This machine strikes me more as the work of Satan.

Somebody should notify Glen Beck.  He tracks this stuff.

Friday, August 09, 2013

Life is good

No it isn't.  That phrase annoys me.  Life isn't good.  Life is a black, dismal swamp; one's journey through which is punctuated by moments of terror.  Witness me spilling Snapple all over my painting the other day in front of a throng of strangers.

To say life is good is one of those brainless tropes -- whatever a trope is -- spouted by girl scouts and optimists.  I'd like to slap their collective face.

That said, I plan on spending part of the day in air-conditioned comfort, then walking to the Brooklyn Museum to see the African guy's bottle-cap tapestries. Then, because the BM sits right on top of the 2 Line, I'm gonna hop on that and ride to the Peter McManus cafe, where I'll share several beers with friends and engage in the usual give and take of one's primary watering hole.

So perhaps now, just for the briefest time, life actually is good.

There.  Was that so hard?
No.  I suppose not.
To be a pleasant person?  To contribute in a positive way to the happiness of others?
No.  I suppose not.
To wish upon a star?  To fly, like a bluejay, up among the chimney tops?
How long is this going to go on?
I can go for quite a while.  We haven't even gotten to quoting lines from "It's a Wonderful Life".
Life isn't feeling quite so good anymore.
Ain't that the way.

Thursday, August 08, 2013

Remembering Lehman ... Massive Typo

As everybody knows, Lehman Brothers went under about a month from now, not a week from now.  Disregard previous suggestions to the contrary.  I might even edit them out.

Go Eagles

This is of course a facetious comment, given that I'm a Giants fan.

But consider, for a moment, Jeremy Macklin, Eagles wide receiver who is out for the year with a knee thing.  Or any state of the art wide receiver in the NFL these days.

Now think about one of them streaking down the sidelines, reaching for a ball that's just a little too far in front of them, flipping it in the air once, twice, thrice, juggling the thing, trying to catch it.  Got it?

Now imagine me standing in front of a group of people staring at my painting.  In one hand I have a diet peach Snapple.  In the other a bunch of Sharpies.  Someone asks for a pen and as I attempt to shuffle the various things in my hands, trying to take the cap off one of my Sharpies (because I'm a polite person), I realize that I'm dropping both the pens and the Snapple.

The Jeremy Macklin juggling act ensues.  A portion of the Snapple finds itself airborne.  Then I lose control of the entire bottle which, after a few spastic grabs by me, crashes to the pavement getting both me and the painting extremely wet.  Explosion is not too strong a word for what happened when the Snapple bottle hit the sidewalk, even though it was plastic and not glass.

Big Wayne, if you look closely, is not lightly colored from Snapple drippings all over the lower right quadrant. I'll post a photo when I get a chance.

This doesn't necessarily bother me.  I'm thinking of it the same way Warhol thought about the Marilyn paintings that the crazy lady shot.  But it was embarrassing.  Thank God the Bloomberg reporter had already left.

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Remembering Lehman -- Two Sets of Prints

Next month, five years ago, Lehman Brothers went under.  I've painted most of the cast of characters operating in that time period and am putting them together in two sets of four.  "The Private Sector" (Cayne, Fuld, Blankfein, Dimon) and "The Public Sector" (Greenspan, Paulson, Bernanke, Geithner).

Each set is signed and numbered.  The price is $699.00 plus $75 domestic shipping.  International shipping is quoted at cost, so send me an email and we can discuss an international delivery.

The Private Sector ...

The Public Sector ...

When ordering, be sure to specify which set you want in the comments section.

Big Wayne

I reached into the refrigerator a while back, grabbed the orange juice and took a swig. Unfortunately, I was staring at the milk as I did so and there was a distinctive moment when my mind was saying milk and my mouth was saying orange juice in which a thought occurred to me:  "This milk can't be that sour."

Somewhere in there I thought there'd be a lesson to be learned about Wayne LaPierre ...

This being my (to be) annotated portrait of the man.

And this being some initial annotations offered by the citizens of Troy, NY.  Disregard color shift please.

Today I leave for New York with Big Wayne under my arm.  Tomorrow, with Sharpies, I'll be in front of the NTSE conducting business as usual.

Monday, August 05, 2013

God Bless Lance Armstrong

On this day on which Alex Rodriguez sets the all-time record for home runs ... errr, drug-related suspension ... I offer this ..

I say God Bless Lance because it's hard for me to do it.  The above being a Nike commercial from the height of his righteous indignation phase.

What am I on?  I'm on my bike!

Chris Froome (great name for a biker) said in his winner's speech after this year's Tour, roughly, that "This is a yellow jersey that will stand the test of time."

Me?  I'm a sucker.  I believe the guy.  God bless him too.

Friday, August 02, 2013

Some thoughts on the annotation process

Sometimes the paintings are so good I resist letting people write on them.

Inverted Keynes is one ...

Me?  I'm very fond of this painting just as it is.  Says everything I need to say about the matter. But I do sometimes think of the following:  take a super hi-res photo, print it out more or less life-size, ask for annotations via the web, inscribe them on the paper version, call that its own thing.

"Eat Doritos and onion dip.  Make prints.  Sell them."
--Geoffrey Raymond

"Pay for soup.  Build a fort.  Burn that down."
--Jean-Michel Basquiat

Me and Jean-Michel.  We're both going to hell anyway.  And speaking of satanic images, do you remember Red Geithner?

I painted it July of 09.  Left it alone for a year or more, then took it out for annotations.

Not sure how much forward motion was achieved.  Sometimes I think I should have left it the way it was.  One fun thing was that a woman viciously attacked me for painting him red and then titling him the same way.  It was right in the middle of the time when the right wing was trying to describe Geithner, et al, as socialists.  I told her I could understand her point, but really I was in love with the whole Warhol-painting-people-different-colors thing and was kind of tagging along with that.

Witness Blue Marilyn ...

Crisis in Texas, and the miracle of public assistance

This from the Associated Press ...

Texas is running out of execution drugs, again. After switching to pentobarbital when its former lethal drug became hard to get, the Texas Department of Criminal Justice says it only has enough of the lethal sedative to last to September and no alternatives have been found. The state has killed 11 people this year, and at least seven more have execution dates in coming weeks. None of their executions have been delayed because of the shortage. States that practice capital punishment have been hard pressed to come up with enough lethal drugs in recent years, as manufacturers have come under pressure from death-penalty opponents. 

 This from me, with considerable public assistance ...


Actually, I take that back.  No public assistance at this point.  This is the Inverted Perry prior to public comment.  The only things you see on the painting are my rather large annotation at the two o'clock mark, and a quote from Bill Clinton on the lower left edge.

I have some anxiety about the use of the word 'retarded' -- an epithet just as vicious as some of the better known ones that can cost you your job if you say them in the wrong place -- but I was trying to channel the Texas good ole boy spirit.  So forgive me in the name of poetic license.

This is the same painting with considerable public assistance.  I love the horns.