Saturday, November 30, 2013

In the Land of the Lotus Eaters

Not such good news coming out of Lotus these days.  Specifically the signing of Pastor Maldonado as their second driver.  The point being that Lotus is in a precarious financial situation and Maldonado brings with him considerable funding.  Which Lotus needs.  You may remember that the Iceman, Kimi Raikkonen eventually walked away from the last two races because they owed him a ton of money.

Limped, more likely.  Since he had a bad back.
Okay, limped.  But the point holds.

In a perfect world, a planned investment in Lotus would have come through, the ship would have been righted, and they could have signed fast-but-unfunded Nico Hulkenberg (one more über-talented young German driver) instead of the slower-but-well-funded Maldonado.

Shit happens, I suppose.  But I root for Lotus and had hoped for a better outcome.

On an unrelated note, the front wing of a Formula 1 car is clearly one of the most complicated aerodynamic devices in the world.  I mean, look at it.  I'm wracking my brain trying to think of something comparable.

Victorian Stroll

Will you be coming to Troy for it?  I think it's next weekend.

If you don't come, I wouldn't blame you.  But you would miss this ...

This being the interior of St. Paul's Church.

Troy, which was a fabulously wealthy little city in the mid- to late-19th century, has a ton of Tiffany windows around town.  But St. Paul's has it all:  windows, lamps, tile, woodwork -- all designed and built by Tiffany designers and craftsmen in the 1890s.

The place is a trip.

Friday, November 29, 2013

Post Thanksgiving Lethargy

I know how this snake feels.  Apparently it ate a person.

I only bring it up to call your attention to this classic post from August of last year titled This Whole Burmese Python Business.  God help us.

As I understand it, the python in the picture was 17 feet long.


This Whole Burmese Python Business

So I'm sitting upstairs, eating a bit of lunch, watching Morning Joe on tape, avoiding going downstairs to paint Tim Geithner, the doing of which, as noted previously, is not going well.  This whole painting business is currently a massive black hole.  A massive fucking black hole.  I don't want to talk about it.

Anyway, so there I'm sitting.  If you were somehow able to rip the top of my apartment off and stare down at me from, say, a blimp, I'd be sitting on what, given the right orientation, would be the bottom left of a slightly rectangular room.  On the upper right corner, catty corner, which I feel certain isn't how you spell that, is the door to the bathroom.  My reckoning is that from where I'm sitting on the sofa to the opposite corner of the room is somewhere between 18 and 22 feet.  I mean, who really measures?  This is merely an approximation; an attempt to quantify in your mind the lay of the land.

Excellent Morning Joe, by the way.  This Ryan guy has everyone apoplectic.

I can barely function, just thinking about it.
Me neither.

Anyway, across the bottom of the screen little bits of news from around the world are being horizontally scrolled.  Up pops one.  It reads:

"Seventeen foot Burmese python found in Everglades"

Really.  Really?  Seventeen feet?  That's a massive fucking snake.

Me?  I have a shark phobia.  I love to swim in the ocean and am generally comfortable doing so.  But if I find myself a bit too far out from the shore, to the point where I can't feel the bottom with my feet during the lulls between the waves, I become anxious.

Anxious of what?
Of what?  That's your question?  Of what?
Yes.  Of what are you anxious?
Sharks, man!  I open the paragraph by saying I had a shark phobia, then I start talking about swimming in the ocean, then I discuss anxiety, and you can't do that math?
Hmmm.  I suppose, put that way, laid out in a neat linear fashion, that I should have guessed.

Just so it's clear, dear reader, I experience shark-related anxiety when my feet can't touch the ocean floor.  Oddly, if I'm snorkeling or diving (I've only scuba dived twice, but still), it doesn't bother me. But in the cold, dark Atlantic...


So I'm sitting looking at the distance between me and the bathroom door a moment ago and imagining that space filled to near capacity with 17 feet of Burmese python and let me tell you, I'm totally getting the heebie-jeebies.  Heebie-jeebies, by the way, is what's called a reduplicated phrase.  Interesting little article here.  Boogie-woogie is another.

Which of course makes me think of this:

To this day I can't decide whether I like this guy (Mondrian) or not.  So I have anxiety about that as well.

I think a snake that big could, by utilizing its excellent detachable jaw, eat me whole.

I was texting a friend of mine after the golf, talking about how lovely it would be to own one of those houses that abut the Ocean Course on Kiawah Island.  My comment to my friend went something like "I'd love to own one of those houses, but I'd be afraid that an alligator would eat my dog."

To which he responded "That would be a legitimate concern, but only if you have an actual, not an imaginary, dog."

Easy for him to say.  He's got a nice little white dog.

Me?  I want to get a redbone coonhound, but I'm having trouble resolving riding my bike to Miami with dog ownership.

This, of course, is a gag.  The real ones look like this:

O' noble beast.

Important update:  This is a picture of the python in question:

I'm feeling less threatened.  My vision of a 17-foot snake was much thicker than what appears to be the reality.  Bottom line:  It could still kill me, when push came to shove, but I don't think it could eat me.  Which is the part I'm worried about--being half awake and half dead and being eaten alive.   Brrrrr.

But it could sure as hell eat my dog.

Nom de Plume

As I gather my thoughts about Perseus, Medusa, SAC Capital, et al, I'm going to write a novel about doing public relations for the pharmaceutical business.  How hard can it be?  I mean, I'm an expert, or I used to be, so I'll just dole it out the way I did in the old days.

You'll need a fake name.
You think?
I do.
I was thinking the same thing.  I wonder if there's a formula, like they have for coming up with stripper names.
Dunno.  Worth Googling.  What's the book about?
I can't tell you.  I'd have to kill you.
Okay, don't tell me.
But the title is "Passion Fruit."
I know.

Low-End Rumble

I'm feeling a certain queasiness when I listen to some records and I've chalked it up to low-end rumble.  The turntable's, not mine.  So the next time I'm flush I've decided to buy this ...

The McIntosh MT5 turntable.  Listing at $6,500.  Granted, this is a lot.  But the turntable platter weighs five pounds and glows that lovely McIntosh green.  The motor that spins it is supported by electromagnets, not ball bearings.  Do NOT attempt this at home.

I can't wait.

Medusa through the years

This, a recent British GQ cover.  Shot by shark-in-formaldehyde-boy Damien Hirst of all people.  There's a bit of a stink about it.  Some guy named Jim Starr is accusing Hirst of plagiarism.  Like Starr was the first guy to think about Medusa.  Furthermore, like there's anything wrong with enlightened plagiarism in the arts ...

 This by Carravaggio, circa the 17th century ...

This, by a guy named Luca Giordano (also late 17th century), of my boy Perseus using Medusa's head to turn his enemies into stone.

This is thought to be the first image of Medusa, circa 600 BC.

My Medusa is still a work in progress.

The Fifth Beatle

I refer, of course, to Eric Clapton.  Who played the guitar solos on While My Guitar Gently Weeps.  I know this how?  I know this because everybody knows this.  Additionally, for you obsessives, here are two tracks from WMGGW.  First, the final published song; second, just the isolated guitar track of Clapton playing.

He plays all the way through because hey, he's Eric Clapton.  But the key work is at 1:55-2:30 and 3:33-4:25.  The idea is to listen to the song first, just to familiarize yourself.  Then re-listen to the above sections, just to bear down a little.  Then listen to the isolated guitar track, with special emphasis on the same sections (Note: the timing on the solo track is a little behind the timing on the full song, but you'll figure it out).  Then, if you're really feeling ambitious, you then go back and listen to the whole thing again.

Total elapsed time for this exercise: just less than twenty minutes.  Surely on the Friday after Thanksgiving you can spare twenty minutes to make yourself a better person.  If not a better person, then to perhaps gain a glimmer of insight into how rock and roll records are made.

Just to add to the intrigue, here's a picture of Pattie Boyd, looking outstanding on the cover of Vogue, no less.  This, friends, isn't chopped liver.  As everybody knows, Pattie was George's wife but left him to marry Clapton.  George's comment about it was something like "If she has to leave me, I'm glad she's hooking up with a friend."  That's not even close to right, but you might get the idea.  I'll look into it further.

Just for the record, Clapton wrote Layla and You Look Wonderful Tonight for her.  Harrison wrote Something.  So this is not chopped liver either.  I mean, the woman's a state-of-the-art muse!  And lest we think less of her for dumping my favorite Beatle, it should be noted that George was a notorious womanizer.  So there's always that.  Had I been a Beatle, I likely would have been too.

Brief personal note:  I had dinner last night with a group of people roughly my own age.  Several of them couldn't name all the Beatles.  This I find deeply troubling.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Glass-Steagall, Volume 2

Just thinking out loud.

Preset Barrera

If you are like me, an idea hits you while you're, say, reading the paper.  Or listening to some music.  And you pick up your phone or iPad and send yourself an email.  So you don't forget.  Because let me tell you, friends, some of the shit I come up with is easily forgotten.  So one takes precautions.

To wit, the subject line from an email this morning:

Like Perseus before him, preset Barrera holds the head of Steven a Cohen

I refer, of course, to Preet Bharara, US Attorney for the Southern District of New York and, like my boy Eliot before him, the scourge of Wall Street.  And okay, the Barrera spelling was on me.  I knew it was wrong.  I knew there was an H in there somewhere.   But figured I could look up the correct spelling when a moment came that mattered.

But imagine having a first name that always auto-corrects to preset.  That would be annoying.

Nonetheless, I've had a bit of a breakthrough this morning, while drinking the coffee and reading the paper.  It's related to the whole sculpting with aerosol insulation foam business.  Which, as initially envisioned will, I've now decided, not work.  Fail horribly might be another apt description.  The new vision, however, should work like gangbusters.

The new vision, friends, includes the use of metal screen (like on a screen door in the old days, when the screen was metal and not plastic) as both the armature and a visible sculptural element.  In other words, crank the thing out in rough terms using screening, then fill the hollow screen forms with the aerosol foam.  In certain places the foam will squeeze through the screen and take the prominent role; in other places the screen will do it's own thing.  In a perfect world, the screen is silver or copper colored and the foam is black.

Me?  I could not be more fired up.  The urge to rush down to the hardware store and buy some is almost overpowering.

Oh -- and just so we're clear, the title of the sculpture is now "Like Perseus Before Him, Preet Bharara Holds the Head of Steven A. Cohen."

Because these Wall Street guys are largely Philistines.  Which is a good thing, not a bad thing.  That's how you get rich.  But you've got to give them a hook they can grab hold of.

Do you think that's a fair characterization of your client base?
No, not really.
Because the secondary definition of Philistine is "A person who is hostile or indifferent to culture and the arts, or who has no understanding of them."
You're right.  If they were indifferent, they wouldn't be buying my work.
No they wouldn't.
So I apologize.
Fair enough.
I apologize for both the name-calling and the intellectual arrogance that the name-calling suggests.
Nicely said.
I wish I was rich like they are.
It's really just the jealousy talking.
It probably is.  But it's good you can see it.
One more thing to be Thankful For on this most somber of Christian holidays.
Yes it is.

And Then There's This Whole Thanksgiving Business

Happy Holidays.  I'm going to start hawking prints for Christmas tomorrow, but for today let me just say that I'm a throw-back guy and I like the cranberry sauce that comes in a jelly form, sits on the serving plate quivering, and still has the ridges from the can on it.  And creamed onions.

Here's my post from Thanksgiving, 2007 ...



Public Service Announcement: If you are trying to reach me, send me an email until I find my cellphone.

Despite this annoyance, there is much to give thanks for. The excellence, on virtually every level, of my daughters comes to mind first. The following paintings also pop to the front of the mind in no particular order.

Big Dick I (Hundred Million)--for putting me on the Wall Street map

The Annotated Murdoch--because "news is sacred." Plus, I love that blue wedge above his left eye.

Girl With The Pearl Earring (2003)--because although it wasn't the first, it was, in many ways.

Elena in the Morning--because sometimes its enough to just be beautiful.

Michele A.--because she, too, is a beauty. Plus, one can draw a direct line between Michelle A. and Cheerleader With Banana (Fallen Angel) I. Which is either a good thing or not, but something for which I, at least, am giving thanks.

Big Maria I (Plane Too Many)--because she may be my most famous painting (toss-up with Big Rupert).

Old Bobby Lee--because I love how his nose is gray. One wonders what the thinking was behind that. Plus, as many have noted, he is the single best example of the obscured box technique.

The Ecstasy of St. Theresa--because I don't think this painting gets enough credit. And for uniquely embodying the primary idea behind the Catholic Saints series--the depiction of the fine line between spiritual and sexual ecstasy--and for, by doing so, sparking the Cheerleader With Banana series (which is about the fine line between success and failure).

Close, But No Cigar--because it's good to know you can still crank out a real painting every once in a while.

And, of course Chuck--because not only was his painting as much, if not more, given how early it came in the process, of an "aha" moment as Close, But No Cigar, but also because he's cooking Thanksgiving dinner.

Remind me to tell you about my creamed spinach.

The Commentariat Weighs In

Oh my. I'm so happy that there is a post about this. I just saw the wretched commercial for the third time. Yes, it IS bad enough to actually google and comment on. The old guy is a total douche! So obnoxious. I feel sorry for the "wife". Apparently she just sits there looking indulgent and vapid while the arrogant, self important codger blathers on. He "ups his game" taking different prescriptions than those originally prescribed to him by his doctor...what! on Atrial Fibrillation

Good to know it's not just me.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Further on "The Man With a Blue Scarf"

We touched on this earlier.  Martin Gayford, art critic, sits for Lucian Freud.  Writes a book about the experience.

Here's the painting ...

And the answer to how many hours he sat for the portrait is ...

Two hundred fifty.

Think about that.  250 hours.  Reading not allowed.  Music not allowed.  Binge-watching the Walking Dead not allowed.

Number Fourteen

My fourteenth favorite painting of all time is ...

If I'd tried I couldn't have come up with a worse picture.  I can't believe I thought using a flash was a good idea.  But there it is, regardless.  In the flesh (without all that over-exposure in the middle of the image) it's a dark, glowering presence.  The sculpture of Balzac that sits at the bottom of the stairs at the Museum of Modern Art went through my mind as I painted it.

It hangs, as you might know if you're a Trojan, in the dining room of Daisy Baker's, a local downtown restaurant of some note.  I meet a friend there for cocktails just about every Tuesday night.  And sometimes the seared tuna appetizer, which is outstanding.

Me?  I'm a Bass Ale guy, but they stopped serving that several years ago.  Which makes you wonder, whatever happened to Bass Ale?  I thought it was the best beer in the world.  So I switched to Guinness.  Except that now they don't serve that on tap anymore either, they just have those sixteen ounce cans with the little energizer thing inside.  One wonders why I still even go.

I will say this, they've brought in a bartender these last six months or so with a real aptitude for what are annoyingly called artisanal cocktails.  Proof that the Brooklynization of Troy proceeds apace.  Nonetheless, some of the things he cranks out (I knows this because I sip my friend's, not because I order them) are state-of-the-art.

"Don't Order The Cold Noodles" is about five feet tall, two and a half wide.  Maybe a tad smaller.  Executed primarily with a four-inch putty knife.   The story behind the title is this:  I used to live in a hotel on Monument Square in downtown Troy.  Also on the square -- I could see it out my window -- was a Chinese restaurant called Sushi King.  Which is an odd name for a Chinese restaurant.

Anyway, they were tremendously fast.  I used to place an order for delivery and 30 seconds later my buzzer would sound.  At least that's the way it seemed.  It helped that I often ordered the same thing:  one egg roll, one hot and sour soup, an order of fried dumplings, and, as often as not, an order of cold noodles with sesame sauce.  Which was invariably terrible.  The worst cold noodles, on a regular basis, that I've ever eaten.

That said, cold noodles are like pizza.  Even the worst pizza is actually pretty good.  That notwithstanding, one day I decided to forge a reminder to myself not to order the noodles.  Thus the painting, which I hung in my living room.

Turned out it didn't work.  I'd still kept ordering the cold noodles.  So I decided to long-term-loan it to Daisy's.  That way, if, on a Tuesday, I'm talking to somebody and they ask what I do, I tell them to look "over there" and they can see one of my favorite paintings.

That's a lot of food.
What is?
Your Sushi King order.
Yeah.  Sometimes I'd leave the noodles for lunch the next day.  They were so awful that, truth be told, twelve hours in the fridge might have actually improved them.
And sometimes you'd eat them that same night?
Yeah. If the Knicks were horrid I would sometimes seek comfort in food.

You, and here I'm using the second person plural to address the full scope of the TYOMP Nation, should buy this painting for Christmas.  I have no idea what I'd charge, but I bet we could work something out.


I don't know where I'm going with this, but I don't think two guys and a broken bridge are in the cards.

You look at Japanese art of, say, the Edo period (which was a long one, and quite a while ago) and you look at the graphic skills those guys had.  The ability to render minute details is not even close to being the most significant part, but they were crazy good at it.  Me?  I'm just not sure I'm gonna be able to make this work for purposes of "Glass and Steagall Regard Each Other from Across the Chasm."

I think I need to do it in a more rectangular format.  Less like a scroll, more like a 4x5.

Gaah!  I've got the taste of failure in my mouth.  That coppery taste?  You know what I mean? Like you bit your tongue hard and it's bleeding a little bit?

You're being too hard on yourself.
You think?
Yeah.  The work is lovely.  Enjoy it for that.  The misty section at the head of the falls is particularly compelling.
I do like that.  But what about Glass?  And Steagall?
Fuck 'em.
You think?
But the world needs this painting.  To help us understand.
Fuck 'em.

It's going to be a black, black Thanksgiving if my turkey tastes all coppery.

The good news is that I'm going to go see the second Hunger Games movie later today.  Maybe that will cheer me up.

It's Good To Be King, Dead or Alive

Three of my favorite people!

Actually I don't really give a damn about Taylor Swift or Jon Bon Jovi.  But, speaking as a Royalist, I'm tremendously fond of Prince William.  So it was good to see his sporting side.

And although he's not King yet, he will be someday.  And my preference in Bon Jovi songs is Dead or Alive ...

It's all the same, only the names will change 
Everyday it seems we're wasting away 
Another place where the faces are so cold 
I'd drive all night just to get back home 

I'm a cowboy, on a steel horse I ride 
I'm wanted dead or alive 
Wanted dead or alive 

Sometimes I sleep, sometimes it's not for days 
And the people I meet always go their separate ways 
Sometimes you tell the day 
By the bottle that you drink 
And times when you're alone all you do is think 

I'm a cowboy, on a steel horse I ride 
I'm wanted (wanted) dead or alive 
Wanted (wanted) dead or alive 

Oh! And I ride! 

I'm A cowboy, on a steel horse I ride 
I'm wanted (wanted) Dead or alive 

Now I walk these streets, this six string in my hand 
Still playin' for keeps, 'same old me same old band, 
I been everywhere, and I'm standing tall 
I've seen a million faces (seen an awful lot of faces) 

I'm a cowboy, on a steel horse I ride 
I'm wanted (wanted) dead or alive 
I'm a cowboy, I got the night on my side 
I'm wanted (wanted) dead or alive 
And I ride, dead or alive 
I still drive, dead or alive 
Dead or alive 

This Whole WikiLeaks Business ...

I haven't seen the movie, but I've heard quite a bit about Julian Assange.  Seems like kind of an asshole to me, but as regards the larger question of leakage, I'm a bit more open minded.

I bring this up, of course, in acknowledgment of the death of Merrell Williams, Jr.  He was the paralegal who leaked a slew of documents related to Big Tobacco, more specifically the Brown & Williamson Tobacco Company.

May flights of angels sing the man to his rest.

The documents he leaked blew massive holes in the tobacco industry's carefully orchestrated three-prong position on the "alleged" -- their words, not mine -- danger of cigarette smoking.  That being, cigarettes didn't cause cancer, nicotine was not addictive, and the industry didn't market to kids.

The rest is history.

Somewhere in my frontal cortex, or wherever, waiting to come out, is a painting that interprets the moment when the CEOs of all the banks sat at one table and first faced Congressional inquiry about the 2008 melt-down.  In my version they are all raising their hands and swearing that nicotine was not addictive.

Close your eyes.  Can you see it?

The Washington Post has an obituary here.

And speaking of Hamlet, if you care about Shakespeare and you have never seen the Canadian Broadcasting Company's "Slings & Arrows", you should throw down whatever electronic device you are reading this on and go watch it immediately.  Their season on Hamlet was one of the best, funniest, most serious things I've ever seen on television.  And I was taught Hamlet by, among other people, no less a giant than Irby Cauthen, then the head of the English Department at the University of Virginia and soon to be the man after whom I name my dog.  So I should know what I'm talking about.

Actually, you don't even have to throw your device down.  You can go to Amazon Instant Video and buy the entire first season (the season in which they perform Hamlet) for $8.99.  God almighty, it's hard to envision a better use of nine bucks, friends.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

I find myself in good company

I'm reading the loveliest of books.  Titled The Man with a Blue Scarf, it's written by Martin Gayford, an art critic, about his experience of sitting for a portrait by British über-painter Lucien Freud.  Because it takes dozens, if not hundreds, of hours to do such a thing, there's more than enough for a book.

Freud, who is one of the great ones, says this about paintings with humor ...

"Goya is one of the most mysterious of painters.  For me, his prints and graphic works are enormously more interesting than his paintings [Dog -- this is Goya we're talking about!].  But all his work is filled, as so much great art is, with a sort of jokiness.  You find the same thing in Ingres, in Courbet, in anyone who is marvelous.  Their work is filled with jokes."

I guess it would be unseemly of me to mention the frequent presence of humor in my work.  Particularly the Japanese stuff.  Let's instead focus on this -- my riff on Gustav Courbet's Wounded Man ...

I say this not with the suggestion that it's a humorous painting, but to make sure we're all including me in the same sentence as Courbet.  The original is, of course, this ...

Courbet's original started out as a painting of two people -- my boy Gussie and his girlfriend, snuggling under a tree.  Halfway through the painting they broke up.  She dumped him, apparently.  So he painted his cloak over the image of her and added some blood on his shirt.  Thus the Wounded Man.

More Japanese Stuff

As I glance through my files, I'm also fond of this one ...

It should be noted, although I'm not sure it matters a great deal but it does matter somewhat, that I'm not Japanese.

Neither was John Maynard Keynes, the man whose quote appears on the painting.

Black and Blue

I haven't had the emotional strength to discuss the Giants until today.  And even now I'm still in tatters.  But there was the season, there on a silver platter, like a golden brown turkey with all the fixings.  And now everything's turned to ash.

Me?  I see a red door and I want to paint it black.  I'm literally that depressed.

Glass and Steagall Regard Each Other From Across the Chasm

You may remember this ...

I haven't seen it for a while, but judging from the small green G stamped in the lower left hand corner, it's one of my Japanese scrolls.  I'm awfully fond of them.

Likewise, albeit a bit less serene, is this one from my wood cut series ...
Part of what makes this one feel so in-your-face is that the background is actually a Mark Rothko painting.  Which is the kind of good clean fun you can have when you paint electronically.  I'm not sure this one was ever finished beyond this point -- I could have just used it to work through some stuff.  Doesn't really matter, because the point of the post is this incipient bad boy ...

Still just a sketch.  Barely half done, if that.  The working title is "Glass and Steagall Regard Each Other from Across the Chasm."  The idea being a chasm, obviously, with the remnants of a bridge hanging across it, unusable.  On one side is Senator Carter Glass.  The other side is Representative Henry Steagall.

It's a political metaphor.  Or, barring that, a painting of two guys staring at each other across a chasm.

I do like that Rothko one.
Me too.

And while we're on the topic, this could be the best one of the bunch ...

Which is a doozy, if that's how you spell it.  The majesty of that vertical thigh ... well, it defies words.  If I do say so myself.

I would have gone with Deusie.
Closer to the Deusenberg root?
Well, that's you.  Nobody else spells it like that.
I'm just saying.

Yahoo is on fire

First Katie Couric shows up.  Which, truth be told, other than my sort of years-long fascination with the ups and downs of the Today Show, I don't care about.

But then David Pogue arrives, with the mandate to rejigger the tech section.  For those of you who don't know, David Pogue was the tech columnist for The New York Times.  And an extremely good one.  Right up there with Walter Mossberg from the WSJournal.  Who's also leaving, but I rarely read him so I don't care so much about that.

But this Pogue thing is massive.

Me?  I just registered for a Yahoo account.  Despite the stupid name.  Formatted my "myYahoo" page (all pornography), and now I'm settling in nicely.  Don't see Pogue anywhere, though.  Maybe he hasn't arrived.

Maybe I should subscribe to the Wall Street Journal.  People say great things, and every once in a while they offer a scintillating rate.

The Commentariat Weighs In

Good comments (don't) always get acknowledgment here at TYOMP.  This one made me laugh ...

The urge to shovel snow is a symptom of high "T". Please see your family physician as soon as possible. If the urge strikes more than once per day, please head to the emergency room !! We have a lip balm that can help. All the best, Your friends at AbbVie on 
"Winter is coming," Volume 2

My T is at its highest level in years.

"Winter is coming," Volume 2

Winter is coming?  Really?

Hell -- winter might already be here.

Of all the seasons' beginnings, I always thought December 21 -- the beginning of winter -- is the least well timed.  I woke up this morning to hear my neighbor shoveling snow.  And since we share a common wall I figured I had to get up and shovel too.  Which I did.

Not sure what to do with myself now, this being the earliest I've gotten up in I don't know when.  I'm brewing some tea and downloading files from The Mothership.  I may just spend some time staring out at the snow.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Tesla Math

.367 kWh of electricity to drive a Tesla one mile.

National average for kWh is 12 cents.

I can't do the rest of the math (insert emoticon denoting pathetic behavior).

It seems like about five cents a mile.  Maybe a little less.
Really?  So to go twenty five miles, which is about what the Batmobile gets on the highway per gallon, we're talking a buck twenty-five.  
That's my guess.  Although for reasons that may be obvious, I'm just as bad at math as you.
I hear ya, brother.
Still, that's $1.25/mile vs. about $4.  And if you charge at night, with rates lower ...
Dude, you should totally be buying one of these things.

Low T

I know you people hate it when circumstances reveal, as they invariably do, that I'm a visionary.  I refer, of course, to my recent screed about Low T as a made-up condition designed to sell expensive drugs.  You can find it in the post titled Atrial Fibrillation, but the money shot is ...

... A-Fib.  Like A-Rod, but less annoying.  Like Low-T, except A-Fib is an actual condition and Low-T is some bogus scenario made up by the pharmaceutical industry in order to sell products like AndroGel. 

Well, now The New York Times has weighed in on the very same subject.  I wonder if they read The Year of Magical Painting.  You can read the article here, but the paragraph that caught my eye went like this ...
Dr. Morley recalls that he drafted the questionnaire in 20 minutes in the bathroom, scribbling the questions on toilet paper and giving them to his secretary the next day to type up. He agrees that it is hardly a perfect screening tool. 
“I have no trouble calling it a crappy questionnaire,” he says. “It is not ideal.”
Actually that's two paragraphs, but the questionnaire they're talking about can be found on, the very existence of which makes me shudder at the evil contained within Big Pharma.  Apparently Morley was commissioned by a pharmaceutical company to come up with the thing, given the instructions ‘Don’t make it too long and make it somewhat sexy.’

Science at its best!

I'm a little uncomfortable with the idea of handing your secretary a sheet of toilet paper for transcription purposes.  My guess is that this is simply not true.  I mean, nobody would do that. I get the impression that this is the sort of man who likes to make shit up to suite the purposes of his narrative ...

I'm reminded of whom?
Shut up.

... and it further underscores what a slippery eel this Dr. Morley is.

But that's not the point.  The point is that I'm a visionary.

$40 a ton

That's what Westchester County pays a private firm to dispose of fallen leaves.  Wow -- imagine how many freaking leaves it takes to get to a ton.  A billion, easy.  The mathematics of this line of work are difficult to understand.

Less so crystal meth, where it's more like $40 a gram.  The mathematics of that business make plenty of sense, at least as far as I can glean them from watching Breaking Bad.  As of the end of the First Half of Season Five, this is a photo of how much money Walter and Schyler White have in their storage facility ...

Which seems like plenty.

So, as has been noted here before, I blasted through the first four and a half seasons of BB on Netflix.  And the closer I got to the end, the more a sickly realization came over me:  that Netflix didn't have all the episodes.   And they don't.

I have to go to Amazon to buy the Second Half of Season Five.  Which is annoying, not only because it's going to cost me either fifteen or twenty-five dollars, depending on whether I buy the HD version or the regular version, but I can only watch Amazon products on my iPad (or computer, but that's not a viable lifestyle option), whereas Netflix lets me stream the signal through my iPad into my projection television.

So it's like watching a movie.

The other question is whether to go with the HD version or regular.  I don't really care that much about the ten dollars (although you can drink a lot of beer for ten dollars at the Peter McManus Cafe, or go to a movie with a senior discount if you don't live in New York City) -- it's the spirit of the thing that counts.  I'm guessing that regular resolution on an iPad will be fine, and that HD, at least as presented by my boy Jeff Bezos and his colleagues, is a scam.

Scam might be the wrong word.
Yes it might.
But for a lot of people, on a lot of machines, the benefits of HD are minimal if not zero.
Exactly.  So scam may be exactly the right word.
Hmmm.  Nicely said.

It should be noted that the increase from fifteen to twenty-five dollars is something like a 60% add-on.  Even the fucks in the movie industry that keep foisting 3-D movies on the public don't skin you like that.


I'm thinking about buying an electric car

Not really, but still, it's fun to think about.

I sat in a Tesla last summer and, honestly, it was stunning.  But I'm just one of those guys who worries about running out of electricity when I'm still fifty miles from home.  Also, they wanted a $5,000 deposit before letting me test drive it.  Maybe it was because I had paint on my pants, but that seemed a bit extreme.

Also, and this is big:  Nobody -- I mean NOBODY -- ever mentions how much it costs to fill these babies up.  There's this general attitude that if you're not putting gas in the thing that you are riding for free.  I want to know how many kilowatts it takes to top the thing up from empty.  I can do the math from there.

Not really.  I mean, who knows what they're paying for kilowatts?  Maybe it's on the electric bill.  Which goes to my landlord, so I'm still screwed.

Hmmm.  The bill goes to my landlord and I'm then told how much I owe.  What if they're screwing me too?  I mean, they're Patriots fans, so how much faith can I have?

Anyway, check this bad boy out.  The outside looks like a Jaguar, so what's not to like.  This is the dashboard ...

The big central element with the pictures on it.  The entire rectangle you see there is one massive iPad-like screen.  Really quite extraordinary.

On a slightly discordant note, if you've ever tried to operate an iPad in a car on a bumpy road ...  Well, good luck getting the right radio station.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Sports Update

Oh Shit!  We just scored.  But enough with the live blogging.

I have a bad feeling, Volume 2

21-6 late in the 3rd.  Could this be more horrible?

Some years ago, after the famous David Tyree catch, I painted this, honestly horrible painting ...

I choose not to apologize.  The whole reason people pay money to read this blog is to see the good with the bad.  Hey -- I wanted to see what it would be like to be LeRoy Nieman.  Turns out it wasn't that interesting.

Ninetheless, maybe the thought of that excruciatingly perfect moment will cheer up what Giants fans are left out there.

To find it, I searched David in the TYOMP search box and also found this unrelated sports item ...

Which is too excellent for words.

I've got a bad feeling

Didn't like the Brazilian Grand Prix, except for the part where, during his warm-down lap, Mark Webber took off his helmet to better savor his last trip in a Formula 1 car.  That was cool.

Am not liking the Jets game.  An embarrassment on a number of levels, almost all of them on the offensive side.  The defense did quite an impressive job, all things considered.

All that remains is Giants/Cowboys.

I entered the day full of sunshine and optimism.  I made some potato salad with a couple of hard boiled eggs and some dill.  Read the paper.  Was feeling good.

Now?  I've got a bad feeling.

Go Blue.

Back to the dill for a moment:  I love dill in my potato salad, but it does sometimes, if you scrunch your mind the wrong way, look like what one shakes out of one's electric razor.  And that's troubling.

Best to think of other things.

"Winter Is Coming" --Eddard Stark

Hot ziggity.  It snowed last night.

Not enough the shovel this morning, but still enough to be momentarily pleasing.  Winter is coming, friends.  I hope we get a ton of snow.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

The Curse of Katie Couric

Here's the big mistake NBC made when selecting on-air talent for The Today Show post-Couric/Gumble.  They thought Katie Couric was successful because she was perky, and this became the kind of foundation block for casting decisions going forward.  When, one can argue, Couric was successful in spite of being perky.

The result has been a string of disasters, mitigated only by the non-perky ones like Meredith Vieira and my girl Ann Curry.

Who is hot when she's not crying.
Yes she is.

And don't even get me started on Matt Lauer.

How 'bout That Katie Couric? slash Painting Number 15!

I might start reading Yahoo.

Actually I just tried and still found it annoying, but that has nothing to do with reports suggesting that Katie Couric, she of the famous 'What newspapers do you read everyday?' question, is getting ready to leave her network job and go work for Yahoo.

What if Marissa Mayer is really on to something and Yahoo turns into the coolest thing in the world?  That would be great.  It's a stupid name, but I'm a lover, not a hater so I wish them well.  One of the things she might consider is changing the name.  Odd how Google, from which Ms. Mayer was spawned, seems like a fine name and Yahoo seems stupid.

Maybe it's just you.
Maybe it's just me.

I'm of the school that says The Today Show, a current embarrassment, was at it's best with the insufferably pompous Bryant Gumble at the helm and the insufferably perky Couric as first mate.  Like a hot-air balloonist, Couric knew just when to let the hot air out of Gumble and in precisely what amount.  It all worked beautifully.

I call your attention to this ...

Which to this day remains stunning.  And this ...

Which is my 15th All-Time Favorite Painting!  Big John was annotated just after the Republican National Convention in '08, at which McCain announced Sarah Palin as his running mate.  You don't have to spend too much time reading this painting to know that McCain's candidacy is in trouble.

And this, just because it's fun ...

Paris in the 20s

A small part of the idea of "Saigon: Too Big To Fail (The Bear Stearns Transgression)" is to depict the city of Saigon, circa 1969, the way Woody Allen depicted New York in the 70s and 80s, or Hemingway or Fitzgerald depicted Paris in the 20s.  And although such an effort is a total fiction, it's not so far from the mark.   Saigon was a horrible place in the late 60s, but in the 40s and 50s it was one of the jewels of French Indochina.

So you carry this idea around with you, assuming you are me, and it informs bits and pieces of what you do on a daily basis.  Case in point, I found myself in the Troy public library one day (ten cents a day if your book is overdue), staring at a book titled Z, by Therese Anne Fowler.  A fictionalized biography of Zelda and Scott Fitgerald in Paris in the 20s, it's written from Zelda's point of view.  I loved it.

Days later I found myself in the local book store and mentioned how much I'd liked Z to the woman behind the desk and she told me I should read The Paris Wife, by Paula McLain.  Same idea -- Paris in the 20s as told by Hadley Hemingway.  Which flagged a bit in the middle, but finished strong and I very much enjoyed that too.  What a shit her husband was.  He once wrote to her "I wish I'd died before I fell in love with anyone after you."


Feeling my oats I wandered into the TPL this morning, after having bought some aerosol insulating foam from the hardware store so that I can sculpt Perseus and the Head of Medusa, and rented A Moveable Feast by E. Hemingway.  As if I had to say.  And halfway through the first story, titled A Nice Cafe on Rue St. Michel", or something like that, my mind came upon the opening line of "Saigon: Too Big To Fail (The Lehman Explosion)", which goes, as we speak but not likely when all is said and done, something like ...

"I was sitting in a nice cafe on Rue Le Loi drinking half a carafe of the good white wine they have  there and eating a few oysters.  The monsoon had started and the rain cracked like hail against the widows.  How they got oysters like this in Saigon I'll never know, but eating one felt like French kissing the Atlantic Ocean, just east of Block Island."

Something like that.

Plus, there's this ...

Friday, November 22, 2013

Juan Pablo blows up the Jet Dryer

This, from the Daytona 500.

Amazing he got out completely unscathed.

I think you should tell the audience that he had a mechanical malfunction.
You do?
Yes.  Lest they think he just plowed into a huge yellow truck like it wasn't there.
Okay.  Fine.  He had a malfunction.  Right side tire or suspension.  Not his fault.
I'm sure Juan Pablo appreciates the clarity.
I'm sure he does.

Filibuster Score

And just one more item related to Harry Reid's balls ...

... which now appear to be so big he has to support them with his hands.

Filibuster Score in the Modern Era:

Democrats      9
Republicans   83

No wonder the Republicans are howling.  You made your bed ... now shut up and sleep in it.

Arrivals and Departures

We've noted the departures of Kennedy, Montoya and Bartiromo.  In the interest of balance I thought I'd salute the arrival of Harry Reid's testicles.  Their emergence became evident when he pushed through new rules for Senate filibuster.  Bravo Harry.  You should have done it sooner.

I live on Madison Street in scenic South Troy.  And James Madison, after whom my street is named, actively disliked the supermajority requirement when it came to the day to day running of the government, writing, if memory serves ...

" ... In all cases where justice or the general good might require new laws to be passed, or active measures to be pursued, the fundamental principle of free government would be reversed. It would be no longer the majority that would rule; the power would be transferred to the minority."

Sound familiar?

And who's going to argue with James Madison?  The dude's on the $5,000 bill!

I have a couple of thoughts:

First, in politics the majority always, at some point, becomes the minority.  So sometimes one needs be careful of what one wishes for.  In the case of the Senate, this could happen next November.  Which would be a drag, but still, it could happen.

The good news is that you can make the argument that the 51-vote rule actually repositions power in the Senate from the extremes to the center, and that little more than a handful of moderate liberals and conservatives, banding together, could exert a positive, leavening effect on the entire body.  Actual statesmen and stateswomen, grappling with the important issues of the country, willing to break, on occasion, with their respective caucuses in the interest of the national good.

I can think of worse things.

Also, 51 was my laundry number in military school, so I'll always be fond of it.

One Plane Too Many

That was the original title of my Maria Bartiromo painting.  "Big Maria I (Plane Too Many)", to be specific.  I'd like to paint her once more, if for no other reason than to give the guy who bought Big Maria a twin set.

One thought is some version of this ...

I bring this up because today, of course, is Big Maria's last day at CNBC.  I'm not a big fan of CNBC-- or any of the dedicated financial networks -- although they're certainly not going anywhere.  I always thought there was too much emphasis on show biz and not enough on the facts of the matter.  One need only watch Jim Cramer's show for as long as you can physically stand to do so (20 minutes?), then read any number of articles analyzing his pick performance and you'll see what I mean.  If you have better things to do with your time, I'll understand.

But Bartiromo achieved an extraordinary thing, and attention should be paid.  The fact that the trail she blazed is now paved with bimbos notwithstanding.

Adios, Campagnolo

I'm going to miss Juan Pablo Montoya.  I'm not going to miss waiting around for him to win an oval race, but I'm going to miss the guy.  Ever since he moved from Formula 1 to NASCAR I've been rooting for the 42.  And ever since he arrived at NASCAR he's run somewhere between tenth and twentieth place.  Seven years, 252 races, two wins -- but both of them on road courses.

And now he's gone.

Nice article here.

Adios, Campagnolo.


I have a bone to pick with you.
In your previous post you observe that Carolyn Kennedy was more attractive in person than her photographs suggested.
Yes I did.
Honestly, on a day of mourning, this is your contribution?
I'm a portrait painter.  I assess people visually.  It's my job.
You weren't a portrait painter then.
No.  But destiny bubbled within me.

Remembering John Kennedy

I was ten when Kennedy was shot, fifty years ago today, so I remember it but it didn't hit me as hard as it might have were I five or ten years older.  But I've been reading some stuff that I thought I'd share.

First, by way of The New York Times, from Lt. Bill Lee, who led the Marine Corps honor guard that carried and guarded the casket ...

The February before, during a reception at the National Gallery of Art, the Kennedys were supposed to take an elevator to greet their guests.  But the elevator was not working, and when they stepped out, the lieutenant said, he was so close to Mrs. Kennedy that he could smell her perfume.  Here is how he remembers what happened next:

"I'm in my mannequin face, and she said words to the effect, "Jack, let's take the stairs.'  And he said, 'We can wait.'  They go back and forth a few times, and then her tone changed just like any other wife.  'Jack, people are waiting.'  'O.K.,' he answers her and, turning his head toward me, says, 'Don't worry -- I make all the big decisions.'"

And this famous one from James Reston, The Times' Washington Bureau Chief ...

"America wept tonight, not alone for its dead young president, but for itself."

Which is a pretty crisp line, composed under deadline.  Also from The Times, in an article written by Jill Abramson, the executive editor.

And finally Caroline Kennedy, who said she understood the national attention being paid to her father's death but preferred the notion that his life and accomplishments be celebrated, pointing to May 29th as a good day to do so.  That being his birthday.

If you're in the mood for more reading, The Daily Beast published two award-winning columns written by Jimmy Breslin for the New York Herald Tribune.  Which, along with The Times, was for many years my grandfather's employer as well.

The second of the columns, the one about the grave digger who dug Kennedy's grave, is a pretty good example of why Breslin became a legend.

As for me?  Two thoughts:

First, I once had a face to face with a pair of Kennedys.  In the late 90s I ran into John Jr. and his wife Carolyn at the Beaverkill Valley Inn.  I was sitting in the reading room, staring out the window, and the two of them came in.  They told me they were hiding from some big-time Democratic fundraiser who was also staying at the inn and asked if they could join me for a while.   We chatted for five minutes or so.  Carolyn was considerably more attractive in person than her pictures might lead you to believe.

Second, I always thought Bobby was going to be the best of the Kennedys.  It would have been interesting to watch.

"Yo Dog ... Check it out"

With these words begins one of the odder videos I ever made ...

I bring it up because today is John Kennedy/Maria Bartiromo/Juan Pablo Montoya day here at The Year of Magical Painting.

In the end, the question about whether her veil went in front of the arch or behind it was resolved in my typical manner -- I rendered the question moot through painterly obfuscation.  It did, at one very early point, look like this ...

... where the veil is clearly in front of the arch.

Which is actually a shitty idea.  What's the point of looking through an arch if the person is in front of it?

Anyway, it turned out, as millions know, like this ...

Thursday, November 21, 2013

"You shouldn't let poets lie to you."

Here, Bjork explains television ...

Cy Twombley!

It's Cy Twombley.

Here's his painting titled Leda and the Swan ...

The swan, just so we're clear, was Zeus in disguise.  Leda was, according to legend, smoking hot.  Zeus either seduces or rapes Leda (accounts vary, but from the look of the painting, I'm going with the latter), and one of their progeny is Helen.  Later of Troy!  So now we're operating on several levels, and that's always the best way.

It's more complicated than that, however, because Leda also slept with her husband, the king of Sparta, the same night she slept with Zeus.  And in addition to Helen, three other pink little babies -- Castor, Pollux and Clytemnestra -- showed up nine months later as well.  And there's a bit of controversy over who was fully human and who was half-man, half god.

And you think your life is complicated?

Perseus with the Head of Medusa

I love that contemporary painter who does abstract images but names them after the great moments in Greek and Roman mythology.  What the hell is that guy's name?  I want to say Sol Lewitt, but that's totally not it.  Anyway, they have titles like The Rape of the Sabines.  Or that one about the swan?   I mean, what's not to like?  Plus, there's a historical line that can be drawn back to big boys like Titian, etc.  So you feel a little bit like you're in the groove.  One in a line of many.  You feel like Vikings going into battle.  Or priests saying mass.

This is the coolest scene from The 13th Warrior.  Which might be the best movie ever, even with an almost toxic level of cheesiness from Antonio Banderas.  I love it when the Vikings start chanting about going to Valhalla and drinking mead with their father's father.   And his father.  Which is the whole idea behind painting the same shit that they were painting in the 15th century ...

Best part is near the end when Buliwyf (which is code for Beowulf) drags his ass off his deathbed, hauling his sword behind him, ready for his final battle.  This, friends, is right up there with Willis Reed's famous Game 7 appearance against the Lakers.  Same thing exactly.


Anyway, there's a statue in the Met called Perseus and the Head of Medusa.  This isn't it, but you get the idea ...

I mean, it's Perseus and all.  But this one's by Cellini, and it's probably somewhere in Italy.  The one in the Met is marble.

Me?  I have this bug in my head about sculpting classical mythology using the expanding foam that is normally used for plugging holes in insulation.  You squirt it from an aerosol can and it kind of foams up?  Squirt squirt squirt.  Layer upon layer.  I figure it will give me a kind of dimpled effect, which if then glazed, or painted, or something, will yield a pleasing result.  Kind of like the Kennedy bust in the Kennedy Center in Washington.

My plan is to have Medusa's mouth open, screaming.  Likewise my boy Perseus.  And probably just do the thing from the neck and shoulders up.

Just thinking aloud here.  But it's a powerful notion.