Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Shit!

I just got a plug on Facebook and I realize that most of my recent posts are barely one notch above pablum.  Boring stuff, with a bunch of birthday-related items.  It's like if you've just gotten out of the shower and the doorbell rings.  Do you put some clothes on, risking the departure of your would-be guest?  Do you answer the door in just a towel?

I'm thinking that last one would be a disaster.
Yeah.  Don't do that.

If you've never been to The Year of Magical Painting, which strikes me as inconceivable since much of the world visits every month, you should just probably scroll down to some of the higher quality stuff.  "Smooth" was a pretty good post.  So was "Running with Scissors."

Beyond that, I can't help you.

"Ich Bin Ein Berliner" is a pretty good one too, if you are predisposed to think positive things about the Yankees.  It's also good if you hate the Yankees, particularly the early section.

If you're in the mood for a giggle, you can type "Naked Greenspan" in the search box.

Beyond that, I can't help you.

My Boy Liam Neeson

Do you remember the movie Se7en?  As in Seven, but with a 7.

At the time I thought that was pretty cool.  Plus, who doesn't think cutting Gwyneth Paltrow's head off and UPSing it to somebody isn't a good idea?  I'm speaking metaphorically, of course.

Now it turns out that my boy Liam Neeson's third installment of Taken will be called Tak3n.

This I find less amusing.

I Wish I was Surfing Right Now

I also wish I knew how to surf.

Still, this footage makes me want to be out there.  Sharks and all.



The resolution is so low it's actually better to watch it without clicking the expand button.

Rastafari I

I saw Bob Marley live three times (then many times later, under the influence of drugs).  One of them was on my birthday.  So I guess there's this ...

And this last bit of celebratory nonsense, then back to work

Sixty One: The New Thirty-Nine

I suppose it should be noted that today is my birthday ...


Meaty Beatty, Big and Bouncy

How about that Will Beatty?  Offensive lineman for Le Grande Bleu, having an excellent season so far, particularly when compared to last season.  Which was terrible.  I mean, the man broke his leg!

Nice article on five "Unsung Giants" playing lights-out football this year.

God bless them.

That's a pretty good headline.
Thank you.

Monday, September 29, 2014

William Blake

So I was on Amazon looking for a cheap version of Songs of Innocence and Songs of Experience by my boy William Blake for my Kindle.

Amazon had a freebie, as they often do with the classics, but there were so many one-star reviews warning about layout, missing elements, etc., that I stepped away.

I found one for a buck, but that one had this for a cover ...

What does William Blake have to do with the Metropolis?  We're not talking Fritz Lang here.  This isn't Brett Easton Ellis.

Exhibit A is "Introduction" from Songs of Innocence ...

INTRODUCTION

Piping down the valleys wild,
   Piping songs of pleasant glee,
On a cloud I saw a child,
   And he laughing said to me:
‘Pipe a song about a Lamb!’
   So I piped with merry cheer.
‘Piper, pipe that song again.’
   So I piped: he wept to hear.
‘Drop thy pipe, thy happy pipe;
   Sing thy songs of happy cheer!’
So I sung the same again,
   While he wept with joy to hear.
p. 2‘Piper, sit thee down and write
   In a book, that all may read.’
So he vanished from my sight;
   And I plucked a hollow reed,
And I made a rural pen,
   And I stained the water clear,
And I wrote my happy songs
   Every child may joy to hear.

p. 3

I repeat, this isn't Brett Easton Ellis.  Nor Jay McInerney.  No Bolivian marching powder here, consumed in the bathrooms of Odeon.

What, one wonders, are they thinking.  And don't get me started on Milton.

Edge, adelante con los blues

I love it when the Commentariat weighs in.

Weighs in?  How about gets downright nasty?

I refer to this recent comment on my Goat's Head Soup post ...

Sir were you there or were you not there. Reasonable chance? In all due respect, you are enervating readers like me with the same crapola as is dished by the Facebook minions. Get focused, maan!!!

First of all, I still love you, even when you're unpleasant.

Second?  Okay, I was at Madison Square Garden.  So were the Rolling Stones.  Neither happened by accident -- I was paying a great deal to be there and the Stones were being paid a great deal to be there too.  They looked about as old as they do in the video.  They sang Angie.  There were television cameras on stage but, that said, it didn't look like a Martin Scorsese movie either.  So it seems to me like there was a reasonable chance that my friend Eric and I were in the audience when they taped this number.  At the same time, it's certainly possible that the footage on the video was done another night.  They were there for like a week.

What's wrong with that?  Sounds like precision in blogging to me.

I'm reminded of Rattle and Hum, U2's live album.  The part where Bono is laying down some speechifying in the middle of a song called Silver and Gold.  He is going on, as Bono is wont to do, about South Africa, Apartheid, Bishop Desmond Tutu and related stuff.  Then he stops and says to the audience, "Am I enervating you?  I don't mean to enervate you."

Wow!  What a moment!

I don't think he said enervate.
No?
No.  I think he said "Bug you."  As in "I don't mean to bug you."

That actually sounds about right.  What I do remember is that after the bug you business he then says, "Okay, Edge.  Play the blues."  And it sounds like alien space ships attacking the Earth and nothing, in fact, like the blues.  Although the blues can mean so many things to so many people, so maybe he is.

Outstanding!  The bit is at 5:27.

If anybody knows how to download the new U2 album off the Apple Store for free, please send me a note.  It looks like I have to be in the cloud, which I'm not.  Is that an exclusionary factor?  Because I don't want people hacking into my cloud and finding nude pictures of me.

Equator Shmequator

I love this ...



Sometimes you need to rotate in a different direction.

Go Mets

The season is over.  Seventy-nine wins, which is five or so better than last year but seventeen worse than what the Nationals managed to squeeze out.  So there's still room for improvement.

My boy Lucas Duda got hot in the last two games and ended his season with thirty home runs and ninety-two runs batted in.  Rib-eye steaks, as Keith Hernandez likes to call RBIs.  And he's just getting started.  A ten percent improvement next year and he's knocking on the door of the clubhouse marked Stars Only.  God bless the boy.

And we finished tied for second in the division with Atlanta.  Which is amusing on several levels.

Note to Sandy Alderson:  First, find a game-changing hitter and pay him whatever it takes to get him to Flushing.  Or, alternatively, take him to lunch in Queens Chinatown -- it's just one more stop on the Number Seven -- and he'll be begging you to hire him.

Second, move the right field fence in twelve feet.  Do this soon, so the vision of a dozen would-be home runs settling into the gloves of opposing outfielders doesn't lodge itself in Curtis Granderson's cranium the way the Great Wall of Flushing did to David Wright.

Third, hire whatever Molina brother isn't currently playing to teach Travis d'Arnaud how to play his position defensively.

Finally, take whoever came up with the original dimensions of the New Shea out back and shoot him.

Me?  I can't wait for April.

Goat's Head Soup

We're gonna frack this mother til the water runs purple, summers in Saskatchewan hit 115 degrees regularly, and baby farm animals are born with two heads.  Which will be great if you like goat's head soup, because there will be more heads with which to make it.

I refer, of course, to our uneasy relationship with the Earth.  And more specifically to the growing belief that natural gas, which we suddenly seem to have an abundance of here in the United States, is going to solve the oil problem.  Which, in all seriousness, is a fine idea so long as you, in your zeal, don't leak tons of it into the air.  Or contaminate the water table.  Both of which being easier said than done.

The good news?  The one thing the financial crisis taught us is that we can, with a high level of confidence, rely on the fossil-fuels industry to do the right thing.  They are not, after all, bankers.

Did you know that if you go down to your Ford dealer and buy a Ford F-150 -- the vehicle more Americans buy than any other, year in and year out -- you can, for another 350 bucks, have them convert it to natural gas?

Which is way cheaper on a per-mile basis than the other gas.  Which, apparently, isn't natural.

Unfortunately, fueling -- like breaking up -- is so very hard to do.



Interesting.
What?
I would have bet a million bucks on the a Stones song.
Because of the title of the post?
Yeah.
Fair enough.  How about this one ...



Brief personal aside:  There is a reasonable chance that my friend Eric and I were sitting in the audience at Madison Square Garden the night they taped this song.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Gender Economics and Modeling

I was looking at the Thom Browne picture I put up a post or two below this one ...

... and I got to thinking that it must suck being a male model.  You're standing there, dressed up, looking like a complete idiot and all you are thinking is: "What the fuck?  Here I am, dressed up like a complete fucking idiot in this Thom Browne suit and I can't believe that female models make about ten times what I make for doing the same job.  On average!  And I'm not talking Cara Delevingne -- upon whom, were I not gay, I would totally hit on.  I'm talking just your average skinny bitch with good skin wearing some Marc Jacobs ready-to-wear whatever."

I present this without comment other than to say thank God this isn't my problem.

Which is a comment.
I suppose so.

Greek Chorus

In the post titled "Running With Scissors" I suggested that I was "singularly blessed" to have a Greek Chorus.  But that's not accurate.  I mean, I'm blessed to have one, but not singularly so.

Hell, I'm not even the only guy at my favorite bar that has one.  My boy Harbour has a Greek Chorus.  You can read his blog here.

I've read that blog.
And?
I think they must be part-time employees.  They don't crop up all that much.
I wouldn't presume to say.  
I'm guessing that he spends most of his money employing a professional photographer.  
Interesting point.  The photos are much nicer than the ones we have here.

Plus there are guys like Sophocles and Aristophanes.  They all had them too.

I miss Aristophanes.
You knew him?
Besties.  A lot of people don't realize that his first name was Mort.


Go Green

It's almost 12:30.  The Jets play Detroit at 1:00.  Las Vegas says the Lions by two or three.

Me?  I'm sanguine.  The Jets as a team and Geno Smith as a quarterback are both at a fork in the road.  I believe they are going to take it.

Jets 26.  Detroit 21.

Megatron be damned.

Is this a joke?

I was cruising through one of the magazines in my Sunday Times a little while ago.  Style something.  I'm guessing this month is about housewares and design, based on looking at the first few pages.

I would have read more, but right near the front I saw a two-page spread of an ad featuring something called a Mah Jong sectional sofa from Roche Bobois and, rather than letting it fester, decided to get some stuff off my chest immediately ...

Are they kidding?  This has to be the ugliest sofa I have ever seen, including the ones that people sometimes just throw out onto the sidewalk in the hopes that the city will pick them up.  Are those mattresses?  The copy goes on about Missoni fabrics and blah blah blah, but this stuff stinks like Gramma's house.  After she ran out of money and had to furnish her living room with used mattresses.

I mean, I've never seen anything like it.  I'd try to find a better picture but I know that would take forever.  So I just propped the magazine open and took this one with my phone.

It reminds me of the great sin of fashion and design:  the arrogant belief that just because you, the designer, say something is good, it is good.  The fallacy of conceit, as this sofa proves so convincingly.

Much the way Rush Limbaugh spewing venom and hate on the airways is the dark side of freedom of speech, this, I suppose, is the dark side of the Duchampian ideal.  There is also an easy 500 words about Beats by Dre headphones that are going to go unsaid here, but they would have fit in beautifully.  Instead, consider menswear designer Thom Browne.

Thom Browne?  The guy with the super short arms and legs on his otherwise classically inspired suits?

I mean, really?  This is a goof, right?

No matter what line of work I was in, if one of my employees ever arrived in the office dressed like this I would warn them once -- because I guard against knee-jerk reactions -- and the next time they wore that suit I'd fire them on the spot.  And give them a bad reference.

It's worth noting that the suits pictured above cost between two and three grand.  Somewhere in here is the bit about a fool and his money soon parting ways.  And who wants a fool as an employee?

I've seen sausage casings that fit better than the second one from the left.

Running With Scissors

Or, in my boy Matisse's case, sitting in a wheelchair with scissors ...

In either case, are you ready for the Matisse exhibit at MoMA?  This is from the same exhibition that's coming to New York.  Apparently it stopped at the Tate first ...

Wow.  Those Tate boys can really light a room.  I would have killed to see the Chris Ofili show there ...

As has been noted before, I'm angry with MoMA.  But this whole Matisse thing may be enough to make me renew my yearly membership.  So I don't have to wait in any stupid lines and can just go right in.  As many times as I like.  Because I think it costs twenty-five bucks to get into MoMA these days.

To amplify that point, let's say you go see the Matisse show twice.  Then one day you find yourself in the neighborhood and you feel like going a third time but you're thinking "What the fuck?  I've already dropped five dimes on this dude.  Do I need to see it a third time?"

Which would be a perfectly reasonable conversation to have with yourself ...

Your statement presupposes the absence of a Greek Chorus.  Having one is a handy way of not having to walk around talking to yourself like a crazy person.
Not everybody has one.  I'm singularly blessed.
If everybody had a Greek Chorus and paid even minimum wage, it would be the end of the financial crisis in Greece.

However, such a conversation, were you a member, would be moot.

This from John Richardson in a quicky side-bar on the upcoming show in this month's Vanity Fair ...

     Picasso was a frequent visitor.  According to his mistress Françoise Gilot, their three-year-old son, Claude, was the only child allowed to romp on Matisse's bed.  When his father asked why he loved Matisse so much, Claude said, "Because he's a real painter.  Going to see him is like being in one of his paintings.  Whereas with you, Papa, you steal my toys and make apes out of them. You're not serious!"

Claude was pissed about his toy car being used for this ...




Saturday, September 27, 2014

Overhead!

Remember when I was mumbling something about buying one of these bad boys?

The thinking being that once the cost of the razor had been absorbed I'd no longer have to pay twenty bucks for five replacement blade cartridges.  And that I could use the saved money to buy beer and paint supplies.

Great.  Now, if I could I'd draw your attention to the window in the upper right of my iMac's display.  It's telling me that the batteries in my wireless mouse are low and that I should be replacing them soon.

Which would be fine, in the general scheme of things, except that it happens way too frequently.  This fucking mouse is a battery eater.  I bet I don't get a month on a new set of batteries.  I'm thinking about cracking open my old iMac and nabbing the keyboard and mouse from that.  Since those two things connect to the back of the computer and require no further attention.

Plus the old Apple keyboard had a discrete numerical pad built right in.

As if you ever use a numerical pad.
I never do, but it is nice to have.
Like stereos that reproduce sounds you're unable to hear.
Yes.  A comfort know you have it if you want it.

New Jersey Changes Everything

Consider this ...

It's the rear end of a pretty beat-up Triumph TR-3.  The first car I ever owned was more serviceable version of one of these.

Now consider this ...

Featured in a recent post, it's is an immaculate Singer Porsche.

Question:  What fairly unique feature do these two automobiles have in common?

Are you aware that in New Jersey you're not allowed to pump your own gas?  Everything is full-service by law.  And I can remember, let me tell you, asking gas attendants back in the day to be careful when they filled up my Triumph because, since the filler cap was essentially in the middle of the body rather on the side, there was a tendency to drip the last bits of gasoline on the paint.

At least 20% of the time they didn't give a shit.

Despite my yearning for a Singer Porsche painted a green so dark it's almost black, this filler cap treatment seems like a drawback, even though, at the same time, it's the coolest thing in the world.

Haiku

It's a green so dark it's almost black,
But I can see it very well.
There's a boat on the reef with a broken back,
And I can see it very well.

That's not even close to being Haiku.
No?
No.
A couple of post back I wrote, describing a Jaguar, "It's a green so dark it's almost black."  I liked the line so much I thought it would make a nice poem.
Well it might.  But it's not Haiku.
You capitalize that?
Don't change the subject.

William in Wonderland

How about the boys at Pimco channeling the Queen of Hearts and cutting William Gross's head off?  He seems to be taking it well ...

I hadn't realized the guy was 70.

Gross is one of the most successful bond guys in history, plus a bit of a crackpot.  One of his latest shareholder communications was, in significant part, a eulogy for his recently-deceased cat.  I can understand that.  Here's a picture of Mr. Pickles ...

We're watching Around The Horn on ESPN.

Today's Deep Thinking:  When you're making a gazillion dollars and the world is your oyster, it's fine to eulogize your cat.  But when the magic is gone and returns are meager, better to focus on business.  Which was something Mr. Gross was, by some accounts, loathe to do.

So they cut off his head.


Friday, September 26, 2014

Thanks for the deal

Memo to The Mothership:  Wake up!

By The Mothership I mean, of course, The New York Times.

By Wake Up! I mean this:  I already subscribe.  Seven day electronic access and the Fri/Sat/Sun hard copies.  So I wasn't looking for it, but somehow stumbled onto part of The Times' web site that explained that if you subscribe to The Times Replica Edition you get the first two weeks free, then it's $19.99 every 4 weeks.  Alternatively, you can pay $259.87 in one lump sum and you get the same two weeks free, then a full year of the service.  You can see the deal here.

Okay.  To simplify the math, let's forget about the two free weeks in both cases.  Moving on, 52 weeks divided by 4 is 13.  Everybody knows that.  $19.99 times 13 equals ... drumroll ... $259.87.  Exactly the same as the lump-sum yearly price.

Let's argue that you, instead, put your 259.87 in the T. Rowe Price Tax Free High Yield Fund.  They returned 15.98 percent last year, minus a .68 expense, according to this.  Let's call it 15%.

Can that possibly be right?
I don't know.  Shit like this has never been my long suite.  I feel certain I'm missing something.  How the hell are they getting 15% tax free on a bond fund?
Probably Chinese bonds.  Or Kazakh.
Probably.
Maybe Alibaba!
I doubt it.
This is why I keep my money under the bed.

Anyway, at the end of the year, you'd have $299 bucks in the bank.  Of course that's not true, since you're peeling twenty bucks a month out of your principal, blah, blah, blah.  But you might have an extra ten or twenty bucks to use on other things.  Like an afternoon in the friendly confines of the Peter McManus Cafe.  Which some would call priceless.

The larger question, however, remains.  Dude?  What the fuck?  Why would anybody pay for the full year when they can pay monthly and actually save some undetermined amount of money?  Do they think we're idiots?

Also not entirely clear to me is the fact that I pay the same twenty bucks a month, I think, and I'm getting real newspapers three days a week, plus access to the Replica Edition.

The whole thing's a mystery.  It's enough to make me switch to the Daily News.

Whoa, Nelly!

That Whole Books and their Covers Business

Me?  I've been blessed in many ways.  For purposes of this discussion I refer to what one might describe as my craggy good looks.  Looks that speak, perhaps, to a Daniel Craig/Pillsbury Doughboy fusion of a sort.  Demon spawn is a phrase that jumps to mind as well.  Regardless, I like to think it skews 60/40 to the Craig side.

Anyway, people look at me and tend to think (some do at least), "This extraordinary man is on the ball in every conceivable way.  Just look at him!"  And even though, fundamentally, I'm somewhere between a high-functioning knucklehead and an idiot savant, this frequently occurring misconception has made my life easier.

Eli Manning?  Not so much.  Let's be honest -- in the best of times he has a slightly bewildered expression.  His brother Peyton looks sharp; Eli looks sharp as a marble.

It's a problem.

All by way of saying, don't judge a book by its cover.  The popular thinking at the beginning of the season was that Eli was a slinger.  A talented one, but a guy who lived and died by the long ball.  A guy whose career took a nice turn when David Tyree managed to catch a long pass with his helmet.

The subtext of all this -- actually it wasn't a subtext at all; lots of people were saying it -- was that Eli wasn't "smart" enough to run a West Coast offense.  What does that even mean?  I personally find it offensive.

Let the record show Eli lit up the Redskins last night.  Granted they're not the Seahawks, but they're not chopped liver either.  Last week he completed a ten-yard pass in the left corner of the end zone that was an absolute marvel.  A month ago, Offensive Coordinator Ben McAdoo (I wonder how big his feet are with a name like that) predicted a 70% completion rate for the year.  Everybody laughed out loud.  I say let them laugh.  With 25% of the season in the books, Eli is over 70% in completions.  He's thrown one interception in the last two games, and that one was one of those unfortunate situations where the receiver fumbles the ball into the air and somebody else snags it.  Not Eli's fault.  Hell, I thought it was a touchdown.  Over the last two games I think Big Blue has settled nicely into the West Coast offense and it's reasonable to believe that they will get smoother as they continue to work out the kinks.

Bring on the fucking Eagles.  Who may be undefeated so far but haven't looked like world-beaters.  We'll see who's smart and who isn't.  And who look like they're not very smart but really are.  And who look smart but are really just easy on the eyes.  And other people too.

I think that last category fills out the picture nicely.
Thank you.  I didn't want to leave anybody out.
You're a nice person.
Sometimes yes I am.  
Somewhere in here there's a lesson about not taking political advice from famous people that work in the movies.
Yes there is.  Talk about high-functioning knuckleheads.


Troy Night Out

The social event of the season.  Or at least the month.

This is fun ...



Available at ArtCentric.  And, I'm sure, fine retailers near you.

Maybe I'll have a juice smoothie.

Smooth

For a man who doesn't own a car, I sure post about them a lot.

This, you would be excused for not knowing, is what the Dyson Racing Team is fielding these days in the Pirelli World Challenge series.  A hopped-up, chopped and channeled Bentley Continental GT3 with a wing on the back.  Which is appropriate, given that the Winged B is the Bentley hood ornament ...

Same picture, really.  If you think about it.

For a company that makes pretty good vacuums and then sells them at stupendous prices, racing a Bentley seems just about right.  Plus there's all that Hail Britannia stuff.  After all, before he switched to Aston Martins, no less a British icon than James Bond drove a 1930 Blower Bentley.

God Save the Queen!

All that aside, there's no denying it is a pretty smooth set of wheels.  And speaking of smooth, consider Hannah Ferguson's turn in the recent Carl's Jr. commercial.  I bring this up not because Paris Hilton is appearing in a supporting role -- because who gives a shit about Paris Hilton?  This woman has vastly exceeded her sell-by date -- but because of the stunning black Bentley Continental that she drives up in.  



When I first saw this on television I was so smitten I hit my rewind-ten-seconds button several times.

To fully appreciate the car, the key is to hit the pause button at exactly half way between the :18 and :19 marks.  This way the image of Ms. Hilton is in its least prominent state while the Bentley is clearly visible.

Today's deep thinking:  If you, rightly, believe that the whole Kardashian business is the salient example of what is wrong with the world today, then you have to lay the lion's share of the blame squarely at the feet of Ms. Hilton.  She, after all, was leveraging getting famous banged on video into billions of dollars long before Kim Kardashian was even a glint in Ray J's eye.

Granted this is the most glib, superficial take on a complex sociological phenomenon imaginable.  I mean, surely the guys who invented Twitter have to absorb some of the heat? But here at The Year of Magical Painting we trade vigorously in the glib and superficial.  So there you are.

I am, in response to her appearance in the ad, choosing not to eat at Carl's Jr.  Whatever the hell that is.

That's a smooth car, though.


Ich Bin Ein Berliner

I, channeling the great Kennedy as he stood before the Berlin Wall, have allowed myself to be a Yankees fan for one night.  It felt pretty good.  I don't know if I could have done it while George Steinbrenner was still alive, but he's not.  He's dead and likely rotting in one of the danker cells they reserve in the lower rings of Hell for only the truest of assholes.  He probably doesn't even know what happened.  Think about that for a minute.

[Quick aside:  I'm told by people who should know that the cell next to him is being reserved for Dick Cheney.]

Derek Jeter's final line goes like this:  five at bats, two hits, one run, three runs batted in.  Pretty sweet.  Plus an error on a wild throw -- which makes it perfect.  I mean, you spend all that money to go to Yankee Stadium for his final game and you want to see the full measure of the man, warts and all.

And, because Derek Jeter truly is something else, his final hit, a single to right field (which is also perfect for reasons too lengthy to go into here), sends the winning run home in the bottom of the ninth.  A walk-off single!  This from a man who hit a home run as his 3,000th hit.

Perfect.

Of course it may not be his final line.  He still has to go to Boston for a few games.  Because he is who he is, I wouldn't expect anything other than that he plays.  Manager Joe Girardi has said he's putting him in the line up, but I'm sure the choice is Jeter's, one way or another.

Me?  The perfection of last night at The House that Derek Built makes me kind of wish he would choose to sit them out.  I doubt he will.

And one last thing:  The man played ball for the Yankees for 20 years.  And at no time up until last night did he play a home game -- not a single game -- in which the Yankees were not in the hunt for a playoff spot.  Not a single game.

I can't wait for them to send him to the Hall of Fame so I can drive up to Cooperstown, visit the Hall, then have a few drinks on the porch with Scully and Mary Jane.


Thursday, September 25, 2014

Go Blue

How about those Giants beating the Redskins so hard you could hear it in Troy?

Memo to The New York Times:  The Giants are not the worst team in the NFL.

I'm going to have to get a Giants jersey for Mr. Pickles.

I can't help myself

If you watched the U-Tube video about the Singer Porsche, James makes passing reference to Jeremy driving something called an Eagle E-Type.  I'm posting this video because I want my Singer Porsche to be the color green of the Jaguar Jeremy is driving in the first half of the piece and I wanted you, dear friend, to see the exact color for yourself.

It's a green so dark it's almost black.

I stopped watching Top Gear a couple of years ago.  In the end, I couldn't stand Jeremy Clarkson and his towering self-satisfaction for another second.  But the thing about Top Gear is that, as often as not, they film somebody in a car so fabulous they find themselves laughing out loud.  So sometimes checking out a clip here or there is a giggle.

Plus they have a sense of history.  Which is what this piece is all about.


Pay close attention at the 3:50 mark when he says, "And then ... there's the noise."

Glorious.

Hail Britannia.

God save the Queen.

I hope Kate has a girl.

Wheels

I find myself desperately longing for this ...

 In part because the back end contains something like ...

When Bruce Springsteen broached the notion of finding the meaning of the universe in the engine of an old parked car, he was not referring to this.  Check out the velocity stacks.  When was the last time you even said the words velocity stacks?  My first Triumph had them, but without the mesh, so shit like stones and rodents could just go straight into the engine.  Terrible idea by the previous owner.  I covered them up with what looked like window screening.  But none of that last bit's the point.

The point of the thing is all about the idea of putting the gas filler cap in the middle of the hood.  Here's the close-up ...

Could you just die?  This is an act so ... so ... well, I don't know what it is. Subversive?  Inspired?  Surely both those.  Cool, certainly.  Words fail me.

It's a Singer Porsche.  Nice bit about them in the Journal here.

Your job is to arrive at the Singer factory with a Porsche 911 no newer than a 1998 (which is actually a model 993, but everybody calls them 911s anyway) and a check for $500,000.  At some point later, months certainly, perhaps years, they give you back something else entirely.  Check out the interior.  The dashboard and door panels are woven leather -- a Singer trademark of a sort.  And I love the colored tach ...

Me?  I would have gone with a darker green.  But I'm sure, in exchange for my hard-earned half a million they'll paint the damned thing whatever color I want them to.

Here's the obligatory Top Gear ode ...


This would make a beautiful painting


Bashar al-Assad

There is some thinking on Madison Street about painting this guy ...

Man, that's a lot of fucking neck.

The length of the man's neck is rivaled only by the insufficiency of his mustache.  This from something called nndb.com ...

Bashar al-Assad never expected to be a head of state. The second son of President Hafez al-Assad, Bashar was studying ophthalmology in London when his older brother and heir apparent Basil was killed in a car accident. Bashar was immediately enrolled in the Homs military academy, north of Damascus, and groomed for the highest office. He came into power in 2000 after the death of his father.

Wow.  This is just like that TV show Tyranny!

For the record, nndb is actually kind of an interesting site.  It gives you the briefest blurb about tens of thousands of people.  I looked up Assad, then Kate Middleton, then Steve Earle -- just to get a feel for the range of the thing.

I looked up Steve Earle because I've recently been enjoying his son Justin Townes Earle's album Harlem River Blues quite a bit.

Woodlawn Cemetery

Check out this great article in ArtNews.

The gist of the thing is that artist Patricia Cronin, thinking ahead because she's certainly alive right now, bought a plot for her and her partner Deborah Kass in historic Woodlawn Cemetery.  Then she installed this on top of it ...

Called "Memorial to a Marriage."  Beautiful.

I suppose there must be some mechanism for lifting the thing up and tucking Ms. Cronin and Kass into place when the time comes.

Even meager cemeteries can be lovely, each in their own way.  It's the peace of the places that sets the stage, I suppose.   Woodlawn Cemetery, located in The Bronx, is a downright beautiful cemetery.  Also chock full of notables, not the least of whom being J. P. Morgan.  The guy with bank.

My friend Mary Jane O'Malley takes some of the loveliest pictures in cemeteries.  Mostly Oakwood Cemetery here in Historic Troy.  This, I think, if one of my favorites ...

Wow.

Statement Jewelry

A couple of posts ago I wandered off on a tangent about Tiffany's and their Statement Jewelry department.  Which, I noted, couldn't be tackier.

And at some point I posted this photo of a Ferrari and a McLaren at the Singapore Grand Prix ...

I also noted in passing that the statement one makes by purchasing Statement Jewelry is some version of "I am richer than you."

Ferrari spends $500 million fielding two Formula 1 cars.  $500 million!  Two cars!

Now that's a statement!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Packing


Does the name Jeb Stuart mean anything to you?  I refer neither to the famous Civil War cavalry officer that left Old Bobby Lee high and dry at Gettysburg nor to the guy in the above picture who, I think, is the hero of Walking Dead.  Which is something I should probably binge watch.

No, friends.  I refer to the protagonist of Saigon: Too Big To Fail, the dystopian mashup of 60s-era Saigon and Aughts-era Wall Street about which you've likely heard quite a bit Here at the Year.  I only bring this up because I was looking at a poster for the upcoming season of Walking Dead and couldn't help noticing that the guy in the poster is carrying almost exactly the same pistol as my boy Jebby does -- a Colt Python with a six inch barrel.

Which is, honestly, the Cadillac of revolvers.  Or would have been back in the day when Cadillac represented the zenith of American automotive excellence.  Maybe it's the Packard of revolvers, although that's not right either.

I'm trying to think of what the zenith of American automotive excellence is.
Me too, but I'm clueless.
On so many levels.
Maybe it's one of those Beamers they make in Tennessee.

The Python came with a number of choices for barrel length: two and a half, three, four, six inches and, if the level of your inadequacy is so high that a six inch barrel isn't enough, a full eight.  You can tell the one in the picture has a six inch barrel because of the slots along the top of the barrel.  One slot for every two inches on the longer barrels.  If you are feeling both acutely inadequate and extremely flush, you can buy something called a 2X Leupold scope for your eight-incher.

Me?  I generally prefer a laser dot, but I'm not sure you can get one for a Python.

This from Saigon: Too Big To Fail ...

The Haut-Brion was everything you'd expect it to be.  Truffles, Cuban tobacco, rhubarb, leather.  Massive, but in perfect harmony.  Like a Packard.

Don't say I didn't warn you.

From the Department of Corrections

Marianne Faithfull's new album is called Give My Love To London, not Horses and High Heels.  It's not out yet, but coming soon, apparently.

Here's this ...


The Kronos Quartet Speaks

Quite beautiful.  At a certain point you need to stop listening to Guns 'n' Roses and appreciate the quiet in a string quartet.


FIFTY!

Fifty years since Marianne Faithfull released As Tears Go By en route to becoming on of the It-Girls of 60s London.  By which I mean the world.  In celebration she's releasing a new album titled Horses and High Heels, featuring songs by Nick Cave, whoever he is, and Roger Waters, whose name I recognize, in her famously whiskey and cigarette-ravaged voice.

Me?  I preferred the 60s version ...



Here's a picture of her and Mick.  There was a time in my life when I would have killed somebody for that jacket.


Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Game of Thrones Trivia

Tywin Lannister, age 35 or so.  Maybe early 40s.

Because Winter Is Coming.

Big Maria Au Revoir, Heckled

Someone from the audience shouts this from the back row ...

who buys a painting and doesn't have it delivered for 7 years....you artist-types are weird...did the cops get involved?

Hey, don't ask me?  It's not like I wouldn't give it to him.

Downton Abbey

They've started Season Five in England.  Scotland's allowed to watch too, since it didn't secede.

FREEDOM!

Me?  I'm trying to avoid whatever dark corners of the internet that might contain spoilers, although I personally don't mind knowing what's going to happen.  Otherwise how would I be able to watch Game of Thrones?  If you want a recap of the first episode, read this.  But don't say I didn't warn you.

As regards Downton Abbey, two things:

First, an apology to Dan Stevens, whose character Matthew Crawley crashed his AC into a lorry on the way home from seeing his son for the first time and bought the farm at the end of Season Three.

Why would the heir to one of the grandest estates in Yorkshire buy a farm?  He already owns like fifty of them.
Buying the farm is a euphemism for dying.
Oh, wow.  What a bummer.  What's Lady Mary going to do?
That, I suppose, is the story going forward.
Ahhh.

Also a bummer because the AC Six he wrecked was not just a pretty sweet ride but also the great, great, great grandfather of the AC Cobra, the greatest sports car of all time.  Very nice ...

When he left the show I suggested that Stevens had neither the hair nor the chops to be the new Hugh Grant.  Moot point since, it turns out, he's making a habit of playing murderous psychopaths.  The just released "The Guest" jumps to mind in this regard.  And garnering some critical acclaim while doing so.  So good for him.

Second, I hope they find Lady Edith's boyfriend Michael Gregson in one piece.  He was last reported getting his ass kicked in Weimar Germany by nascent brownshirts.  I have no idea if they do, but the girl deserves a break.

Big Maria Au Revoir

I sold Big Maria in, I'm guessing, 2007, to a pretty nice guy who lives in Philadelphia.  Or something like that.  The odd part is that I am only now delivering it.  Saturday, that is.

I hope you charged him a storage fee.
No, I didn't.  But I did have an additional seven years to enjoy the thing.  It's hanging in my study.
I'd have charged him a storage fee.
Well, I'm not you.

Back when we made the transaction we had a loose agreement to create a second, complementary painting of Erin Burnett.  Which I could just never get the hang of.  God knows I tried painting the woman but just couldn't make it work.  Sometimes that happens.

So instead of Big Erin, I've suggested two Map paintings, the studies for which look like this ...



This pair, let me tell you, hung side by side in black slat frames?  Be still my heart.  They are going to look unbelievable.

What is worth noting is that both Burnett and Bartiromo no longer work for the network that made them famous.  In both cases they probably got significantly higher compensation for making the jump.  But likewise, in both cases, I believe they lost some of their mojo en route.

Which is the shared theme of the pairing.

Is it en route or en croute?
It's whichever one that doesn't involve baking.

Monday, September 22, 2014

One Last Item on Standard Oil

Which has morphed, over the years, into ExxonMobil.  But was once, here in the US, called Esso.  Get it?  S.O. equals Esso?

I call your attention to Jenson Button's McLaren, which, although painfully slow, is the most beautiful car on the circuit these days ...

The top of the body is metallic gray and the side-pods and wings are glistening triple-black.  Written on the side of the car are the words Johnny Walker.  Which makes me want to order a Johnny Walker Black Label the next time I'm at the Malt Room.  Which surely must be the desired effect.

But that's not the point as it relates to Standard Oil.  Note the branding on the rear wing.

Fun, yes?

If you ever go to the Tiffany's flagship store on 5th Avenue in Manhattan, you owe it to yourself to take the elevator to the floor that says "Statement Jewelry."  Which couldn't be tackier, but who am I to judge Tiffany's?  The statement in question, one supposes, goes roughly: "I'm richer than you."  Something like that.

Anyway, the manner in which they display the emerald rings, the diamond bracelets, the emerald and diamond necklaces, is astonishing.  For one thing, you're not allowed to touch the stuff.  [Duh]  You stare at the jewelry through glass-topped display cases.  What Tiffany's -- those clever people -- has done is line the inside of the top of the display cases with thousands of little spot bulbs, so that the facets of the diamonds, for example, pick up each one and seem to almost glow.

It's really astonishing.  The living embodiment of Poppy Bush's Thousand Points of Light he was always talking about.  The irony that only rich people get to actively participate is not lost on me, but let's leave that for another day.

Shift instead, friends, to the Singapore Grand Prix.  Which couldn't have turned out worse.  The only good bit was that Singapore is the only night race on the entire calendar, and the way the highly polished cars look under the thousand or so lights that line the course is almost identical to how the statement jewelry looks at Tiffany's.

Even the Ferraris -- possibly the ugliest Ferraris of all time -- looked fabulous.

Oh look!  There's Jenson trying to catch up to my boy Kimi Raikkonen ...


Ahhh, the Irony

One more reason for Scotland to hang tight with the UK:   The Rockefeller Brothers Fund announced yesterday that it would be divesting itself of all fossil fuel-related assets.  Which is more powerful as irony than it is as an economic factor.

But add to this the fact that Germany, the dominant economy in Europe, recently announced that 30% of its energy was coming from renewable (i.e. non-fossil) sources.  Thirty percent!  That's a lot.  Apparently the growing adoption of solar energy by the Germans has caused a bit of a tipping point for solar panel costs, accelerating their already vertiginous drop in prices.

So pinning one's hopes as an economically sound, independent country on future proceeds from the the North Sea oil fields seems to make even less economic sense than it might have twenty years ago.

FREEDOM!

Did you happen to see the PBS special the other night called The Royal Paintbox in which Prince Charles gave the viewers a one-hour tour of the many works of art created by the royal family?  And these people, let me tell you, never threw anything away.  We're talking about sketches from the 1600s.

So it was comprehensive, to say the least.  Or as comprehensive as a one-hour television show can be.

Very enjoyable.  Prince Charles has turned into a pretty talented watercolorist.  Particularly his work in the hills surrounding Balmoral.  Which, as every body knows, is in Scotland.

One more reason!
Exactly.

And one last Derek Jeter thing

There's a listicle in the Times laying out the man's career achievements.  It's so long, given the sheer weight of the man's achievements, it takes half an hour to read -- an easy hour if you watch the videos and click through the links -- but it fails to mention that last night he became the oldest Yankee to have four straight multiple-hit games.

I don't like this side of you.
What side.
This squishy Jeter-loving side.
It won't last long, I promise.
You know there's no gift bag for you no matter how much you suck up.
I know.  That's a whole different thing.
Okay.  Just so we're clear.

Mr. Gift Bag

My loathing for the New York Yankees knows no limits.

That said, I can't help myself in being a Derek Jeter fan.  Check this photo out ...

Age 19, I think.

For those readers living on Mars, Jeter is less than ten games away from ending one of the truly special careers in baseball.  Hell, make that any sport.  Plus the whole gift bag thing, which has to make you smile.

Fun article about the early days here.

Adios Campagnolo.

Hope Solo is a Pill, and so is Lolo Jones

This, from the Department of Corrections ...

Unbelievable.

Did you read the post titled Hope Solo is a Pill?  In it I managed to combine two pills:  Ms. Solo and Lolo Jones.  The fact of the matter is that it's Lolo Jones who appeared on Dancing with the Stars and can't dance a lick, and it's Hope Solo who is said to have beaten up her sister and nephew and was, regardless, made captain of the US Womens' soccer team.  

It is strange, though, how typographically similar the two names are.  Hope Solo.  Lolo Jones.

Take the S in Solo and attach it to the end of Hope, then invert the two words:  Olo Hopes.

Add an L to Olo and change the H to J and the P to N:  Lolo Jones.

So the mistake was understandable, in your book?
In my book yes.  Inevitable is a word rushing through my head.
Didn't Hope Solo also appear on DWTS?
I believe she did.  All the more reason to get them confused.
It's almost Shakespearean, isn't it?
It is.  Almost.

Nonetheless, I apologize for the cock-up.  At least a part of me does.  The other one looks at the post and thinks it's a masterpiece of the particular kind of ebb and flow that characterizes the best work Here at the Year.  So even though factually wrong, it's still a bit of a Jewel.  I remain quite proud of it.


Sunday, September 21, 2014

Go Blue

The New York Times, in its majesty, is down on Big Blue.  Today one of its writers wrote, and I'm quoting from memory, "It seems hard to believe, but the New York Giants may be the worst team in football."

Wow.  Remember how I told you that things couldn't fall apart with the Giants because they were never together enough to fall apart?  It reminds me a little of the notion, explored below, that Pop Tarts can't go stale because they were never fresh.



Putting this on my to-do list for Monday



Here's a similar take on the subject, although not video.  And, of course, here are the lyrics from White Rabbit ...

One pill makes you larger
And one pill makes you small
And the ones that mother gives you
Don't do anything at all
Go ask Alice
When she's ten feet tall

And if you go chasing rabbits
And you know you're going to fall
Tell 'em a hookah-smoking caterpillar
Has given you the call
Call Alice
When she was just small

When the men on the chessboard
Get up and tell you where to go
And you've just had some kind of mushroom
And your mind is moving low
Go ask Alice
I think she'll know

When logic and proportion
Have fallen sloppy dead
And the White Knight is talking backwards
And the Red Queen's off with her head
Remember what the dormouse said
Feed your head
Feed your head

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Go Mets

All that's left of the Mets season is to root for my boy Lucas Duda to somehow go 30/90.  He's currently at 28 home runs and 85 runs batted in, with about ten games to go.  Thirty and ninety is about one notch below superstar status, the bottom level for which I define as 35/100.  Obviously the metrics are different if you're a pitcher.  Or a great defensive short stop who bats .310.  Or a couple of other things.  But still, who would have thought?

This is him getting ready to scatter the crowd on Shea Bridge.  Which is silly because at this time of the year you could shoot a cannon off on Shea Bridge and hardly hit anybody.  And I'm talking grape shot, not cannonballs.

Wait til next year!

No really.  This time I mean it.  Next year should finally be a good one.  The first good one in quite a while.  Can't wait.

Until then, here's the best Keith Hernandez film ever ...



Not safe for work.  Or for kids.

Krugman is God


FREEDOM!!!!!!


If you think painting for a living is a scam, I've got to believe it's nothing compared to running a political polling organization.

Do you remember when Barack beat Mitt?  People at Romney headquarters were genuinely shellshocked.  Millions and millions of dollars worth of polling had convinced them they had it in the bag.  That, plus listening to nothing but blowhards like Limbaugh and Hannity.  Which is their own fault.  But hey, you pay a reputable firm to conduct a poll and they get it that wrong?  That's not on you.

I want my money back!
Exactly.

I only bring this up because prior to the actual vote on Scotland leaving the UK the projected results were widely considered too close to call.  Within the margin of error.  All the usual polling stuff people on television talk about on election night.  Yet the final result ended up about 55% to 45% to stay.

Which in an American election we'd call one whack short of a whuppin'.

At some point you've got to just figure that the polling boys are just taking our money and messing with us.  Perhaps while sitting in front of a nice fire with a single malt in one hand and a cigar in the other.  I would have closed with a picture of Robert Preston as The Music Man but I couldn't find a good one.



Hope Solo is a Pill

Do you watch Dancing With The Stars?  I think it's the best reality show on television, in part because I like to watch dancing, in part because it doesn't really have a mean bone in its body and in part because I've never seen The Amazing Race, which everybody says is the best reality show on television.

Anyway, last week was the first week of this new season and, at the same time, the last week that we have to put up with Hope Solo.  Who, despite her lengthy Olympic resume, can't dance a lick.  No rhythm, for starters, but more critically no willingness to let go, loosen up.  Plus a complete unwillingness to take coaching.  Which is odd, because I would think that running the hurdles would be all about rhythm and being loose and listening to the coaches.

What's that song from Flashdance? Something about feeling the rhythm?

It's called What a Feeling.
No question mark?
No.

Anyway, nobody has time for the big black cloud that was Ms. Solo.  Who on the show admitted she's both a virgin -- this is public news, and that's absolutely fine -- and that she's not slow-danced with a man since her high school prom because, apparently, everybody made fun of her because she was a crappy dancer.

So she's thinking to fix all this [Editorial note: Based on my limited experience with Ms. Solo, Sigmund Freud couldn't fix all this] in front of 20 million people?  And she thinks it's going to go well?  Because it didn't.  And, thankfully, they tossed her off.  It's like on the Dog Whisperer where Cesar's pack shuns the psycho-dogs.

Next up, her domestic violence trial.  How very much of the moment!  She's alleged to have assaulted both her sister and her teen-age nephew, if I've got it right.  The good news?  US Women's Soccer just made her the captain of the international team.

I read that last sentence and wrestle with it.  I'm all about due process.  And I certainly feel like we are too quick to toss it aside and mount our Societal Horse of Righteous Indignation to demand that people lose their jobs (although I think they should fire Roger Goodell when he gets back to the office on Monday).  So part of me thinks she should play until she's had her day in court.  Another part of me thinks they shouldn't have made her captain.

Too creepy.

And it also bugs me when people scream that Ray Rice should never play football again.  Let the man pay his penalty, genuinely try to rehabilitate himself -- easier said than done, but it's the journey that matters -- and then get back to his livelihood.

Hell, Michael Vick is one of the absolute stand-up guys in the league right now and they threw him in the slammer for two years.  Good for him.

I'm taking the Jets against the Bears.


Friday, September 19, 2014

The Best Painter I Know, Personally

Look at this set of paintings by my buddy John Hampshire ...

Wow.  Four of them, each one maybe five by eight.  Feet, if that's not obvious.  What a wall they'd fill.  He's having a show in Chatham, NY soon and I suggest each of you take a trip up -- Chatham's lovely -- and try to buy one.

I've always liked my portraits best when the subject isn't staring at me.  Too much pressure.  Plus I love the narrative sprawl.  What's with that hand?  A little creepy, no?  But in a good way.

From the Department of Corrections ...

Earl from Denver wins the coveted mirror ball trophy for being contributor of the month.  He was good enough to write in and suggest that I referred to Erin Andrews as Erin Burnett.  Truth be told, he didn't just suggest it, he said it outright.

My apologies.

The Zenith, Volume 2

What about this one? ...




You have to admit, the tears at the end are pretty strong.  Also, is that guy wandering around in the background a priest?  If so, it would speak volumes about Ms. O'Connor's ripping up a photo of the Pope on Saturday Night Live, of all places, in 1992.


I've been thinking about Christianity a bit.  There's a sign in somebody's yard that's on a route I walk frequently.  It says something like ...

God loved us so much
He gave us His only child.

And I got to wondering, did he really give him to us?  Or was it more like a 30 year lease?  And how hard was that, really?  I mean, it's not like Jesus didn't just pop right back up to Heaven.  And sure, it hurts like a sonofabitch getting crucified (I'm assuming), but still.  I'm less impressed than I used to be.

You're gonna burn in Hell for saying that.
You think?

The Zenith

I don't think that George Michael video is the zenith of music videos.
You don't?
No.  I think Michael Jackson singing Billie Jean (is not my lover) is the zenith of music videos.
Okay.  Fair enough.


Thursday, September 18, 2014

Freedom!

Remember that scene from Braveheart when they eviscerate Mel Gibson's character William Wallace?

"Freedom!" he screams, and Scotland was never the same again.

All that aside, good for the sensible majority of Scots who figured out that as amusing as it sounded, seceding from the United Kingdom was cra-cra.  Which my daughter tells me is spelled cray-cray.

Three hundred and seven years is a long time for any relationship.  I mean, surely you've settled into a routine by then?  Why rock the boat?

Plus, Paul Krugman told them not to.
Which would totally be enough in my book.

I think the Walker Brothers recorded it first, but Dionne Warwick made it a classic.  The key line being "Breaking up is so very hard to do" ...



Plus this classic by George Michael, even though the only thing it has to do with any of the above is that George Michael is British.  And the title.  Oh, and it may be the zenith of music videos.  The absolute zenith.  Honestly, the only thing that would have made it better would be Naomi Campbell throwing a phone at somebody ...



Cindy Crawford in that tub!  Wow.  If that was a Cialus ad, I'd kill to be in the other tub.  Fully medicated.  If you catch my drift.