Month: February 2014

Boat People of the Younger Dryas

Boat People of the Younger Dryas

The prevailing theory holds that the Younger Dryas was caused by a shutdown of the Gulf Stream in response to a sudden influx of fresh water from Lake Agassiz about 12,000 years ago.
It was a cool time, when the indigenous got hip and connected to their own, incredible awesomeness.
They’re discussing the merits of an attractive pet lizard on Facebook while earth’s conveyor belts shut down. And I shall make a Key lime pie.

From Cookbook For The Poor. Available now from a football field-sized factory of wage slaves where one climbs up a three story shelf to pick out vitriol for you:

Deconstructing Key Lime Pie

Marie and I can talk for an hour about deconstructing Key lime pie. The finished dessert is global and global is hastening doom. We can discuss karma, which I declare is “fate” with a few freewill choices. I believe fate and karma are inventions of the freakishly comfortable species “man,” so I say “impossible” until the raccoon is allowed to fall onto the spinning wheel of life and death. The skunk too needs to make his karmic choice. “To spray or not to spray this asshole shitting on my habitat?” Without all living things respected thus, fate and karma are superstitions of species-ism, collaborating with guilt, justifying the gruesome murder of anything, as long as it doesn’t affect our dessert.
From Key Lime Pie to karma, to power, corruption, evil… And from those one or two fleeting dreams of contentment NOW— which tend to put me (sometimes my loved ones) in a state of anonymous poverty, secure in a non-motorized hut, with a wood stove, gun, and a four-season garden with saved seed—from these clear and happy daydreams await the visions of what my species has given up for the constant decoration of key lime pie for dessert, biweekly trips to the super-duper market, a deep bitterness brought by a devotion to standard time, individuality, and the purchase of a thousand materials to cram inside a wooden box, dressed up pretty in vinyl strips pretending to be wooden strips.
We have forsaken clan devotion for the hate crimes of individuality.
The mechanized hyper-individual is a lone cancer cell. He is the beginning of the end of nature. Self congratulation, self pride, self-satisfaction are not only meaningless without clan approval, but infinitely depressing as harbingers of doom. If we are living and working on a global treadmill, and my specialty is Key Lime Pie, the wife dabbles in printing runs, Mom does garage sales, Dad knows black fly fungiciding, sister claims insurance claims, friends teach kids fifty miles away, or guard prisoners with a night stick in a sweat-stink, cement room, etc., and over time we cannot come to value each other’s specialization beyond how much it stratifies our class position, and nurtures our personal “comfort,” then nothing besides boredom and incompetence ballooning in the brain awaits the hopeless worm of modernity.
The mass of physically comfortable folks obliviously act out their dreams slowly torturing all the living things on earth.
Themselves included.
There are no more clans here.
There is no sharing or need of one another. Who has ever needed an insurance worker or a prison guard in the family?
The hyper-individual Carl Sandburg published a little poetic blurb not so long ago about Hungarians at a beer picnic. Group happiness. We need that now. Bonfires, wine sharing, poetry spoken from every mouth. Never again the written word!
We must have a group expectation of the dawn—not only for the sake of the new economy, but for our happiness too. Our extended families are in ruins. Thoreau was right about simplicity, but dead wrong on the individual. He was an excellent spokesperson for the dangerous hobbyist of the future, that is all.
It is inevitable that we will come to clans again. We shall need to build successful ones. Survival of the fittest is unnecessary at first. In western, that is, rich society, we can chant the mantra “survival of the happy” for now, and nurture our fledgling clans without immediate economic or natural disaster implications. It does necessitate group projects, however. Like corn planting, water gathering, and grand meals at siesta, finished on those easier days with some exotic, mouth-watering Key Lime Pie.
Cities will have to die out. All clans will soon discover that cabbage cannot grow on asphalt. Sadly, the hyper-individuals will annihilate 9/10 of the living planet long before the first clan boy or girl’s rite-of-passage ceremony. A one or two meter rise in ocean level will launch nuclear winter for sure, no matter what happy, hopeful, denial predictions the specialists spout. Clans in the wild are the future. Coastal urbanites, find yours on higher ground. Suburbanites, may I suggest bowling night, and many mead and shredded wheat parties?
Making a Key Lime Pie amidst the knowledge of dinosaur implications for thousands of species, including our own, is doom. Definitions are changing. Joy will be defined as “the feeling of clan nurturing.” Individual will be synonymous with “clan crime,” a future capital offense.

Key Lime Pie

Lime filling

4 teaspoons grated zest, plus a ½ cup juice from about 4 limes
4 large egg yolks
1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
Graham cracker crust

11 full size graham crackers, bludgeoned to fine crumbs (1¼ cups)
3 tablespoons sugar
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Whipped cream topping

¾ cup heavy cream, chilled
¼ cup confectioners’ sugar
½ lime, sliced paper thin and dipped in sugar (for decoration)

For the filling:

Whisk zest and yolks in a medium bowl until light green color, about two minutes.
Beat in the milk and then the juice. Set aside at room temperature to thicken.

For the crust:

Preheat oven to 325º.
Mix crumbs and sugar in a medium bowl. Add butter and stir with a fork until well blended. Scrape mixture into 9-inch pie pan and with a measuring cup, press crumbs over bottom and up sides of pie pan to form an even crust.
Bake until lightly brown and fragrant, about 15 minutes. Transfer pan to wire rack and let cool for twenty minutes.
Pour lime filling into the crust.
Bake until center is set, yet wiggly when jiggled, 15-20 minutes. Return pie to wire rack. Cool to room temperature and then refrigerate for at least three hours.

For the whipped cream:

Before serving, whip cream in a medium bowl to very soft peaks. Add confectioners’ sugar 1 tablespoonablespoon at a time and continue whipping until just-stiff peaks. Spoon on to pie slices and top with
sugared limes.
Yum. Think on future bonfires with your clan.

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Sorry I Didn’t Make It Down To Boca. I Got Hung Up In Oswego

Sorry I Didn't Make It Down to Boca. I Got Hung Up In Oswego

No, I don’t really want to end it all. I love life but despise the winter season. Is there work that can be done remotely? Can we migrate like hummingbirds without wings? One spends too much time outside the norm, and the norm develops into a type of mental disorder resignation. But it’s not true. The cabin fever creates the disorder. It’s the guy staring at the wall and chewing his face who’s going crazy—not the people walking by his cabin subscribing to society.

Below is some writing of a more cheerful make to sweep up the clumps of head hair on the floor. It’s an imaginative story I wrote some years ago about opening a small bistro in my hometown. Middle age has me convinced. Thought = paralysis.

From Cookbook For The Poor. Available now from a Seattle sweatshop:

Peasant Stock

This afternoon I’m going to kill two birds with one stone. I will write about my restaurant, the one that isn’t open yet. I figure I can brainstorm an idea, and not only turn that into, well… An idea, but write down the thinking and the dreaming, and turn out another story. It’s the best I can do considering I’m feeling more asthmatic than usual. I’m also a bit nervous about tomorrow’s trip to North Carolina. I always get intense before travel.
This morning over oatmeal I shared with Marie my idea for a restaurant. Lately we’ve been getting wildly frustrated over our lack of funds—only because it’s the one thing we don’t have for our dream business. We’re on the verge of silly now, at least I am—because I know that borrowing a considerable amount of money is a foolish thing. The Devil’s victory. The newlyweds sitting up late at night discussing business! That’s pitiful! That’s the Devil’s handiwork. “Ah sweetie, we can make twenty thousand the first year. A worst case scenario!” No it’s not. We both know it’s not. When you start dreaming about business, the worst case scenario is already in motion, with no hope of stopping it either, until long after divorce or alcoholism—and then it takes a successful exorcism, which is very rare. Otherwise, you’ve sold your soul to the Devil for twenty grand, and there ain’t no refund coming from selfish Satan.
What is it about food and cooking that turns my wisest thinking into scatter-brained delirium? My heart knows the truth. All business is painful. Just a lone, seemingly innocent, profitable transaction will devastate an entire  bustling city of brain cells. No business is good. You either love something enough to share it with the world—and that doesn’t know any kind of business—or you just love business for business, which means you are mostly a usurious twit.
But I love food. I love cooking for Marie and Rachelle. I love when we come together to create. It’s wonderful! The sights and smells of a happy home are intensified in a shared kitchen. The old world is born again. We’re talking to one another and moving our hands at the same time. “Marie, can you stir the risotto?” “Rachelle, now what liaison did I use to bind this sauce?” “Come here you two. Look how beautiful that is!”
The Devil ain’t in my kitchen. That’s a blessing. Now what’s next for two young lovers in America after they have everything including good food? Why yes, of course—they go into business!
Wow! Where the hell did that come from? Do you see how powerful he is? You’re a constant happy for a long stretch of time, but with the first show of weakness or doubt, and zoom!—Devil’s at your door with a stack of papers to sign.
A sad ending for many couples. Mortgage the home, the car, the kid’s—swipe their college money, invest in yourselves, hell yea! Go into business!
You see, there he is again! The Devil’s right on top of me. He’s got Marie too. She’ll go back to work, happy and satisfied after a great meal and foot rub during lunch break, and spend the rest of the afternoon
doodling logo ideas onto a napkin. At the end of the day she comes into the kitchen to empty her pockets. There on the table, the doodles will haunt us. The Devil’s got a new toy for the rest of the night. Until I cook. Then we are blessed again, and after our dinner, feel the need to lay on the bed and talk about the day. That’s what happens when you’re full. That is satisfaction, and it is what anyone who goes into business lacks.
You begin pure. A fawn born in a wood. You run and play, still with a purity undaunted. It’s true that it can last a life time. You can keep your childlike energy and longing if there is another child to share your dreams. That’s how you feel in love and wanting to give. You begin pure in the wood. Stay there, find a lover, make babies, and eat. The only difference now is responsibility. That should not make you an asshole. Don’t take anything besides what you already possessed when you were born, a lover, and children. Run and play. Lay about in the den when the snow falls, and feed your family.
What else? Nothing. Well then, where does business sneak into the picture?
It comes after giving birth. You’re a mammal and love your spawn. Unfortunately you’re a human mammal, and must also nurture worrisome dreams about clothing, soap, transportation, housing, heavy cream, dustballs, clean sheets, gasoline… You had these things as a human child, and believe wholeheartedly they are necessary for your child’s proper physical and mental development. Now you think money is the first necessity, and the other stuff will follow neatly behind. That’s where business begins. You leap into the poisonous stream of business, and the shorter days of death begin. Business flows and you begin drowning.
You forget that you’re alive, and imagine all life is for the taking. It’s the Devil in disguise again. You have the kids and the food, and a thousand other things, and yet, you’re not quite where you want to be. Devil’s sitting at your kitchen table. You took a job, and got good enough at making money to eat and purchase the thousand things that have dragged you far away from your dreams. Devil says that’s good, but not good enough. “You can do it better yourself,” he says. “You can make more selling yourself, and feel proud that your hard work bought all this stuff. You are not a slave,” says the Devil. “Sign these papers. Sign this last paper here.” You ask “What is it?” Devil says, “It means you’re accepting premature death. You’re not physically dead—you just can’t love anymore, now that you’re in control of the money. Oh yes, and I own you.”
That’s the beginning of business.
The Devil’s got a damn good case. He offers several solutions, the most pleasant one bringing a welcome relief from drudgery and boredom. Who doesn’t want to be his own boss? It must be every man’s dream since the time he lost the guarantee of acquiring his own food. At least a slave got a pick of the crop he planted. The tenant farmer, indentured servant, even the serf who didn’t know what letters were, got to sign his “x” to the creation which kept him. Unless he plants coins to grow paper money, today a man who doesn’t own a business is being whipped. There is no pretty way to look at it. Whether he is sweeping floors, installing floors, cutting those handsome square tiles for floors, he’s not signing his name on the floor, and that’s the wrong way.
As much as I hate to admit it, the Devil’s got the right w—
Ah! There he is again. Jesus, get him off my back! I want to think clearly. He’s got Marie too, I know it. She’s at work picking up the pen to doodle. She talked about the Devil last night. She knows. We feel the same. He’s wooing us both, although I believe for different reasons. That’s not a concern with him as long as we sign the same paper. The Devil doesn’t care about our reasons. She’ll oversee the front of the house. I’ll be in charge of the kitchen. And we both agree that Peasant Stock is a good name for our restaurant. We will draw up a list of our individual duties and mark specific points where we cannot cross over into the other’s space. We’ll work very hard at avoiding divorce. We’ll work twice that hard trying to avoid the inevitability of hating each other. Working long hours, night and day, signing our names to Peasant Stock. The telephone will ring and ring—Oh my God, he won’t leave me alone. That persistent red bastard! That lying, devious angel! He knows damn well that I’m afraid of the phone. He knows that I know he doesn’t care, and yet, I’m still thinking about the restaurant!
Well it’s a good thing we don’t have any money. Almost down to nothing. When we hit zero, I plan to take a minimum wage job (or just slightly above that) cooking in one of Oswego’s food businesses. Without money one can plan and dream all he wants. The wise Devil knows he’s beat and turn his sights on the real takers. Just like our real estate broker. He’s given up. He showed us a hundred thousand dollar building and we pretended that money was not an issue. Ha! I haven’t made a hundred thousand dollars yet in my working life. I’m a trillionaire dreamer. That is, money is never a concern when I don’t think about it. Buerre Blanc is a world of concern. It doesn’t cost a penny to cut cold butter once I have the butter. I didn’t get the butter on credit. I didn’t walk into the bank with my head down and offer the dough-faced bank manager a thirty thousand dollar indenture—hoping she’ll take it so that I can owe her for life and pray to God every night that thirty people will come to our restaurant for a butter sauce. Whoa, wait a minute… God ain’t listening. He gave up after I made that deal with the Devil, remember?
So our broker took us on a free tour of an old building. He had to mention the staggering utility bill, high taxes, regular maintenance, the leaky roof that hasn’t been repaired since the fire, the shared stairwell with the Born Again Christian Alliance, ripped walls, broken fire escape, four inefficient boilers…All for just a hundred thousand dollars. No mention of the art of cooking. No discussion about the price of butter, the chopping blocks, kitchen sink, walk-in cooler, purveyor schedules, the hourly pay of my first cook, Marie’s chances of having a sane baby, my duty as a father and a husband, another Saturday morning spent cutting inch cubes off fifteen pounds of butter… No, the broker wants to work, and his work declares that he make a deal. He’s in business. It doesn’t matter how we get the money, why we get the money—he suggests how we can get the money; I could kill someone for the money, and he would still take the money. He doesn’t know or care especially that after our little meeting, I’m going to shop for butter and wine. It will cost a small fortune for the dinner I will prepare. No successful businessman would waste a penny on such a meal without cutting as many  corners as possible. He won’t need butter. Margarine looks like  butter and is a quarter of the price. Wine? Really, is it necessary? Just add more salt. Flavored vinegar? Tarragon? Naw, more salt. Wait, let’s just forget the ber blanky and serve hot turkey with fries and gravy. $5.95. Geez, I can’t see more than a dollar going into it. That’s under 18% food cost. If I have the dishwasher make it, and give him a ten cent raise… And thirty people order that? Wow! Do you see what a stupid waste of time your art is?
So we paid a hundred thousand for the building and fifty thousand for renovation, and once upon a delicate time a man and woman were happy. It’s all over after that. It really is. Everything. If your marriage survives, your kids must be emotionally pathetic creatures, or they were never born because the man couldn’t get an erection to put into that sorrowful place! You never dreamed that the first time lying down with her warmth while the snow fell heavy out your door, would be the last time you ever laid pure together. Once you walked through the storm with a bag of groceries. One bag might have cost you a third of your paycheck, but you cooked all day, got steadily drunk on wine, wrote a poem, shoveled the walk, and served her like a queen. Of course she is a queen! Not after a hundred thousand, however. No, after that, she’s a machine. You’re a machine. The child becomes a machine completely out of whack. The machine has to make a living by postponing life. Business does not sleep; you cannot sleep while the pipes freeze, the toilet overflows, the compressor bites the dust, the waitress slips and falls, hitting her head and suing your business. You can pretend to rest. You can take a week’s vacation to North Carolina leaving the business to a man you employ. Is he a machine? No—well, yes. He’s a machine while he’s getting paid. But he gets turned off at eleven p.m. and walks home in the snow, meeting up with his beautiful wife shoveling the walk. “How was your night, my love?” she asks, her cheeks cold and flush. “Oh baby, Ron is sure to have a heart attack this time. The pipes froze and burst, the toilets backed up, a woman fell on the ice and cracked open her forehead…Oh geez, forget about work. Not our problem. Let’s go inside and get warm.”
Absolutely! Stay right where you are, hired help. You are fortunate if you can still see the beauty that she is. You rich man with a love of food, cooking, and watching the snow fall out your window! You have no idea how far gone the businessman is. You envy the man who doesn’t get his hands dirty. You think you want that for her because it looks secure, and profitable enough to buy a wall of windows and French doors opening out onto a terraced garden. No. She cannot possibly have this if you want to cook for her. It’s a life of business, a signed non-voidable contract with the Devil, that will eliminate the memory of an empty head. You will forget the beauty of walking home to her in a snowstorm carrying two bags of groceries which you was needed to create one dinner. You will forgo a true eagerness. You might want to get up, but for all the wrong reasons. You will have to get up when you don’t want to.
Two menus, prix fixe— two separate paths:
Your day off: Rise when you open your eyes. Take your hand off her back. Walk downstairs, thinking of dessert, since that is the most difficult task for the day. It’s a sunny morning to welcome the first blasts of autumn, when you can count more than five colors to a tree. That will keep your brain and heart dancing, your eyes alert and shining. Fine. Take some money and shoes, and start walking. I’ll keep it  simple since you have a purpose, and not mention the many muses singing sweetly on your way to market. It’s right to call it a market when your mind has the sense to call it that.
To the market then, without a list or an idea. Ooh, it’s the  harvest season, there are ripe pears and you smell the powerful presence of arugula. Okay for a garnish. What else is my fancy? Some staple garlic—I think we’re low in the wood bowl at home. Hmm. Bananas and chocolate. I’m thinking different for dessert. Forget all plans. I don’t want to watch a cake bake this afternoon. We’ll take the cats outside instead and run a stick through the  fallen leaves. Sauté the bananas with lime and cardamom. A chocolate sauce and ice cream. Simple. That’s done. Yams. We’ll puree those with butter and maple syrup. No, because a gravy won’t go good with that. And Rachelle loves gravy. Roast chicken and mashed potatoes. I’ll need two chickens. One for a stock and one for the oven. Cream for the chocolate sauce and gravy, butter for anything, eggs for the morning, orange juice, and Rachelle’s favorite ice cream. Now back to produce for potatoes. Oh, those apples look nice. Applesauce. Ah, we need peppercorns for the stock. Thirty-nine dollars? Fine. A thousand dollars? Hmmm. Pretty steep. I’ll have to bring one of the chickens back.
Another menu. Devil’s path:
Your day off: Rise at five a.m. Shave and shower. Walk downstairs and make coffee. Sit at the desk and read the paper. Look for your add on the restaurant page. “Peasant Stock—Soups and such for the poor man” What a great idea that was! Low overhead. High mark-up. A professionally prepared high quality soup for $3.99. Comes with toasted bread and garlic clove. They think they’re in nineteenth century France. They think I’m just scratching by. Fifty bowls of soup a day, plus all the other treats I sell… After payout, we’re still getting rich. Thank you Satan. No I didn’t forget. What’s that? Oh, the baby’s crying. “Marie!”
Now what am I going to do today? Another cup of coffee. Jesus, it’s almost Thanksgiving! Pumpkin Soup and a personal  chicken. Marie can waitress. We’ll get a baby-sitter. “Marie! C’mon, I’m working!” Wait, Rachelle knows how to change a  diaper. She can watch the baby. There we go. You’re using your head. We need new tile in the bathroom. I’ll talk to Joe. Different schedule this week for Bobby—get my order in early. Mark that. A thirty soup luncheon on Wednesday. The old bags want black tea and a cherry dessert. I’ll go to Syracuse today and pick up the tea. Frozen cherries! Oh well! The leak in the kitchen—what can that be? Wait. You got to write this down. The paper wants my add tomorrow. Oh God-damn that woman! “Marie, please!” Shit! I’ll just do it myself. No! You work all week. Rest now. You’ll drive yourself crazy if— “Oh, there’s my sweet little one. Here’s a kiss from Daddy.” Keys. Where are the keys? “Marie, where are the keys? Thanks. I’m going down to the restaurant. Why? Oh, just to see if I can get ahead for next week. You can take them honey. I’ll walk down. Bye.”
Arrange orders. Roast bones. Make a double chicken stock. What a beautiful day! No time to cook. Just bring some cold soup home, and take the car to Syracuse later.
What a stinking mess. That little bastard! Time for a new dishwasher. Set that up for Tuesday. Might as well sort through those applications and toss them. Nerve of that lady telling me the soup was too spicy. I could kill her! Almost like the time the Chilled Squash and Cream Soup was “ice cold!” Ah these idiots. Just keep coming. I’ll take your filthy money. Why not? Oh damn! Money. The roofers need a deposit. Write that down. Marie will have to oversee. Nice ass on the counter girl I hired last week. Keep them young and pretty for the bankers. She rubbed against me on purpose. She’s thinking about it.
Marie will be home. She won’t have to bother about dinner. Shit! The Pumpkin Festival. Eh. Business is business. Gotta get to Syracuse for the old lady luncheon tea crap. Man I use to live for these Indian summer days! What’s happened?

He went into business! Peasant Stock was a great idea but a miserable life. One can only scratch the surface. The true heart lies deep beneath layer upon layer of love-loss and dollar-despair. You can’t read the face of a businessman without feeling cold. It’s the evil cold of business that envelopes the businessman. Turn a profit if you don’t believe me. Your first trick has got to be an embarrassing affair. Hold out your hand to receive the cash. You’ll feel it this first time. Your face will redden. You’ll look down at the floor. You might even make an awkward bow. That man just handed you two dollars more than what the food cost you. Imagine that! A clear head might foresee the many miseries to come—beginning with the first wave of the hand, “Well, a man has to make a living!” That’s your signature signed in blood. That’s your “okay” to the Devil. You have sold your true heart for a profit. New definitions form for words and phrases. Now a “clear head” is defined as, “one who has a mind for business.” “Meaningless” might be a word pointed at your whistling dishwasher or your sweeping janitor. “Common sense” is a philosophy that will make more money. “Free time” is when the working dummies come give you their money. “Politics” and “government” must be held in check to keep your profits stable. “Change” is acceptable only if it makes you more money. The world remains a constant, wonder has ceased, and your  precious life works overtime like a machine.
No one, at the time of his right mind, would desire to dedicate his next fifteen hundred Mondays to ordering coffee and paper products—his next fifteen hundred Tuesdays to food, beer, wine, and laundry service. Because what follows are fifteen hundred “rest of the weeks” worrying about paying the bills. It’s a fool’s business. But when was the right mind alive and prepared to make important life-saving decisions? When was it awake? When did it have nothing to gain?
What is really loathsome about business is what it takes away. What is gained after thirty years of constant repetition is a quicker path to death. All businessmen are know-it-all dead things. It cannot be helped. They have to be. Business is math. Math is man-made. Anything man-made is dead. To get ahead in this life, I mean to get to the high places that few go to, one must accept that he is an idiot, a complete waste of time, a hopeless, useless, wonder absolute. He better do this with an addictive smile, because without a sense of humor, he won’t last long playing the idiot. Most importantly, all dead things shot at him must bounce off immediately, without pain nor scar. This includes knowledge, money, current events, phone bills, fuel bills, credit bills and of course, all business transactions. Laughter is a good shield. Forgetfulness is wise. Outright foolishness with money is a reliable survival tactic. You must make the businessman hate you with all his might. If he thinks the sandwich is worth $2.59, offer him five dollars. If you have the choice between two identical brands of potato chips, buy the most expensive one. The dead things must bounce off you. That is when the right mind is alive. I know when I am getting overwhelmed with illusion. Usually I can catch the Devil and dollars playing their sick and twisted game in my head. The loser is the man who controls his day, not he who greets each morning on a whim. The latter follows another path of control. It is the control of no control. He has to control himself not to control. He must let go of things because those things add up too quickly and begin to hurt the head. Too many things. So many things that make the businessman start to suffocate under a heavy heap of junk. He couldn’t let death bounce off him because he went into business which demanded that he take it all in. All of it. No matter how much it hurt.
The genesis of Peasant Stock began as a dead thing bouncing off Marie and I. We knew what to do with the food we bought. We prepared it special and worth remembering. The dead thing was the constant fear of catching ourselves in the act of wasting time. So we began to wonder if together we could make cooking our life’s mission. That was the urge of creation calling to us. “Yes we can!” said the right mind. “Absolutely, but don’t you dare go into business if you want to cook and be happy at the same time.” That meant we should come together at the end of a workday and enjoy the fruits of our labor—make our own yogurt, mix it with mango, and travel to India before seven o’clock. After seven, it is time to put the shield on and experience life our way. We knew that. We lived that. And then a knock came at our door. A persistent knock that wouldn’t leave us alone. One night the pears are poaching, and the knock persists. The next night, at the same hour, there’s a guinea pig beauty contest being held on the living room floor. The knock persists. The following night we take a spring walk while the sun sprays the houses with orange-yellow hues, and wet dirt smells fill the air. We walk home thinking lemon pudding. The knock starts up again. It won’t leave us alone. Oh for God’s sake, open it!
Of course we could do it better. We could feed strangers our love and at the same time, turn enough profit to free ourselves from the present drudgery of undesirable repetition. Never have to work for another again! I see dark wood walls, maybe cedar if we’re lucky. Some old man with a violin. Men in fedoras; women wearing scarfs. The children who arrive with their parents want to read or sketch the chef in action. Every moment is an expression of the love that craves to be released. We turn a meager profit, a massive sum to us, for we believe the work we do is play and good fortune. Why make anything more of that? All the customers are enlightened human beings. Nobody is in business. We’re making this place on earth our paradise.
I walked out of my house on a fine spring morning, slaughtered a lamb and disemboweled her in my dreams. This I have sacrificed to my brethren. My children are already at the restaurant doing their schoolwork and keeping the stocks at a very low simmer. My wife greets me at the door and wraps her arms around me. All worry is bouncing away.
Come in! Come in! Cut through my skin dirty Devil. Fill up your inkwell with my blood. I’m ready to risk all future happiness. I’m ready to beat wonder with a stick. I want to control life even if in so doing I forget what joy it was to be alive. I’m ready to hate everything. Ready to take. I’m so god-damn ready to go into business. Scribble-scribble, exclamation point! Yes!

An Art Agency

Our Daughter Beating Dandelions

Our Daughter Beating Dandelions 2013

First, there is a art opening where no one will notice a piece of food stuck in your teeth, here.

Below is thoughtful fodder to the modern painter from Last Communion, purchased here:

Two years ago my daughter, then a senior at college and president of the student art exhibition committee, suggested that I apply to the same agency that supplied her club with artist profiles, from which her college regularly chose talent and invited them to show.
So I did. It took me a full day to organize all the content the Katherine T. Carter Associates requested. I was not disappointed. I got “accepted” the next day. Or so I thought. I sent in my $250.00 deposit to secure a date to meet with Katherine in the big, big city.
Lick-lick. Check in the mail by mid-morning. Finally, after so many years of hope and desire, and yes, action to shame an unlikely creative John Calvin, I was weeks away from representation. Galleries! Museums! A living to be had. Modest income spawning light travel and leisure with my wife. No longer would she need to support me. This was a boon to the career that had not yet become a career, through no honest fault of my own.
Then came the associates packet in the mail. The fine print. For a total of $500.00 I would have two hours of Katherine’s time to “consult” with her. That is, listen to her pitch. For about $4,000.00 (more or less), I would have the chance to be profiled in the same book distributed to my daughter’s college, and, which I assumed, many others to boot. No promises however. Not even an “it takes money to make money” admittance on her part. Just $500.00 and a two-hour talk.
Way back in 1958 my stepfather applied to be a cop in Utica, N.Y. His cousin (already a cop) told him to give $500.00 to the city mob boss. He walked into Mr. Falcone’s pool hall and said, “Go to Hell. I’ll pass the test on my own, get the job on my own, or expose you to the state WASP authority.” Well, he must have hit a soft spot in the heart of Mr. Mafia, because he got the job based on his ability to work and not pay his way. And Mr. Falcone never killed him.
According to, not only Katherine Carter, but all complicit museums and galleries that deal with her, I am expected to pay my way into this corrupt art mafia, without even being guaranteed admittance into the elite society. I might be too political, in that I actually make that kind of art carrying an opinion, one that is usually counter to an establishment seeking moderation in everything and every one.
I believe that contemporary art is run by a cartel called The Careful Family. This is how I see it. My daughter was taught by her college how to authenticate art. See who the art mafia likes. It must be good because each one of their choice professionals paid at least 1/2 a year dishwasher’s salary to “get made”.
Now really, who the hell is this charlatan Katherine Carter? What is she painting? Where does she get the crime boss balls to corner an industry that isn’t even an industry? And to you, college and university art departments… Do you not have enough MFA’s to seek what is downright good and gooey for their own students? It can be a lot of fun, actually choosing what one likes, and not what some greedy New York business person declares is likable.
I am a painter of much energy. On a spiritual level, it is enough for me to know this. Practically I have dug myself a hole two ladder lengths down from Hades. But the art students don’t care. It just brings proof to the claim of the “fool persisting in his folly until he becomes wise”. State College Fred and Private art school Lana would “get me”. Much more than they would some oil painter of Assateague wild horses, or a Columbia University PhD skilled in the silhouette cut outs of slaves being whipped and raped.
How much did they have to pay to get in?
Well, what do souls go for these days?

For those gallerists still wanting youth to choose what is vital, ask them if my work is worthy of a room. Tell the kids that I write too. About art and living. That’s interdisciplinary and no one needs to suffer a painting of the Space Shuttle to round out a course. They can see my stuff on a blog I keep which is a week’s wages worth cheaper than that phony art realty tome which is Katherine Carter. For a little push is all I need. That, and a part time dishwasher’s salary.

The Murder of Banks By A Young Triangle Wearing Lemon-Colored Gloves

1915

From Last Communion:

Headlines from NPR would have us assume that global warming just stopped, and that spring’s upstart is warm breeze and strawberry leaves and wild fauna nesting soundly in the sweet grass, swimming peacefully in pure and wild, wet waters, nibbling new growth off the endless lush produce of mother earth…
NPR is government propaganda. Someone at the top of their machine is having lunch with Goebbels.

191619181917
We could stop to get our bearings, reassess our dependencies, head into the future with strong backs and determination, but will not move a millimeter until our dollar takes its final nose dive into oblivion.
Still, with minimal effort we can break out of surface denial by making atmosphere talk our first attempt at every conversation. We could become mindful once again and use our cleanliness and good health and swell science to imitate 14th century Japanese royalty. We could write poetry, take day walks, stab to death the Carnegie Steel and Rockefeller Oil Earth-hating drive-about we depend on more than our neighbors and families. We could naturalize our lives with creative job creation. That means we choose our local economies and dress them to our own survival tastes. Oil execs might have to be tortured gently. Fracking giants could have their heads politely lopped off. Military brass would get the picture after a sound fragging by its own sentient cannon fodder.

1919
These punishing days will come. What’s unbelievable is that the majority of intelligent human beings refuse to articulate this with any regular pattern.
Geeze, even without a blog to help clear her fuzzier dreams, the woolly mammoth got smitten with bright yellow buttercups still digesting.
So, carpe diem, verdad?
Yes, of course. But let’s do it with some class. Let us witness some poetry crawl out of this Walmart funk hole we’ve born ourselves into. Use our liberal educations—read what the dead dogs wrote to become  living lions once again. Don’t let the consumer culture barons fool you any longer. The woolly mammoth was a blind consumer too. What was lost in non-acquisition of petroleum plastics, she made up for a thousand times by expressing her true nature.
Express your true nature. Become who you were before you were born. Focus your dreams toward creative survival. Yes, even with the weekly trade off of coins for Scott Tissue paper. Doom should be the only preoccupation of any species’ grown-up. Even the crazed mega-neuronopolis doom of the human being king.

1920

Oh, for anyone interested… I am having a  stuck-at-home stuckist extravaganza from my hard chair for the next two weeks. Some paintings from this winter can be viewed and purchased as prints, greeting cards, etc.

Some Winter Work: February 28-March 14

Of course, all originals are available, for less even, if I can be convinced (I can). Just contact my secretary at this site.

The Imagination Assassination of the Propagandist

The Adirondack Creatures Want Him to Expire Pronto

From Moonlight In Groundspruce Woods:

Some NPR celebrity anchor was interviewed by our local radio station yesterday afternoon. I was alone in the car, choring around town. I always listen to NPR to get ahead on the national propaganda. I want to know what current events Pentagon radio deems appropriate for its doting serfs. I can easily relate our connections to Mother Russia, Mao-China, recluse North Korea. It’s the same line, albeit a more sophisticated nuance, since most of our informed public is listening from a carpeted automobile.

In Russia the news came from a bullhorn. In China from its honorable state media. In North Korea, clubs crack skulls sounding off the daily news.

So the NPR celebrity anchor was seated in the studio a mile up the road, chatting about the grand, immense love he has for his adopted Chinese daughters, and I was on my way to a corporate warehouse for some windows and caulk, when the thought struck me, “Now is the time.”

I always pretend quietly to myself that whenever the chance arrives for an easy assassination of political celebrity, to grab at it, to save millions from the suffering which censored and misleading information wreaks upon the world. My mind tells me to take out the lobbyist, the senator, the news anchor in order to freak out the rest enough to abandon their endangering trades—to let the guilty know that not everyone is supportive of such lucrative careers in “misinformations”.  A strong, underlying fear invades the days and nights of all accomplices awaiting their turn at inevitable justice. What sane man would not choose a profession in floor sweeping over one of brainwashing, when to choose the latter eliminates the freedom to go out alone for a midnight snack? Could Rush Limbaugh enjoy his New York fine dining experience fearing that the cook and the busboy have a surefire plan to fry up his fat ass?

I have the same assassination dreams for all kinds of positions of power. The general, the chief of staff, the chief executive officer, the physics professor entering the private sector… If these very able criminal types had daily viable threats to their freedom, their lives, then I believe NPR might one day live up to its democratic acronym. There would be no more “debate” about mountain top removal. The billionaire coal god would have his throat slit at a Wendy’s drive-thru, and all the auspices of “clean coal” would shoot down the memory hole soon enough, following the next five or six mindful assassinations. Big oil would dry up fast if one of these self-proclaimed patriots of the NRA could work that automatic beauty he treasures most while the private jet is boarding. Strafing a few greedy and greasy monsters would directly result in massive fossil fuel reduction. Who can stand being filthy rich in a war zone anyway? How much should an eager oil lobbyist expect for pay when the job description includes “very probable death, very soon, and anywhere, anytime…”?

They don’t allow our right to free assembly and direct us to break down individually. So much easier to control that way. Some city cop stiff infiltrates the antiwar librarian club, and sends illegally obtained information out to headquarters. His cover is broke, the news is out, but no paid employee of the corporate media reported on it.

“This ain’t cool, man, I quit!” declares the secretary of the club. The group breaks up, and the Police Benevolent Society is free to scramble the next nonprofit group of informed citizens burdened with a Jesus conscience.

The G-20 meeting has begun and Meeshell Norris will interview the rock star French President while Susan and Bob, the minimum wagers, are tasered in the parking lot for the crime of being angry, organized, and moral.

No write–up in the media.

A man pours gasoline on himself beside a downtown Chicago off-ramp, lights a match and burns to death in protest of the invasion of Pol—I mean, Iraq (a hangable war crime for the governments of Germany, China—every nation of the world in fact besides the U.S. and Israel). NPR reports the next morning on the historical significance of Samuel Barber’s “Adagio of Strings,” conducted by Toscanini, the avowed antifascist of the wildly popular American classical music scene of 1938.

From NPR, November 4, 2006:

 The year 1938 was a time of tumult. America was still recovering from the Depression and Hitler’s Germany was pushing the world towards war. Toscanini himself had only recently settled in America after fleeing fascist Italy. The importance of the broadcast performance during this time is noted by Joe Horowitz, author of “Understanding Toscanini”.

What a stirring bad-ass, that Toscanini.

So of course the guy who sets himself on fire today, protesting the American fascists Barack Obama, Robert Siegel, and General so and so, the fly-by-night, baby bomber from the skies, won’t even get a “boohoo” by the national propagandists.

My current problem lies with this distorted “chain of conflagration.”

Who today would chastise the memory of an Abe Sharon, the fictional German citizen of 1938, struggling with a moral conundrum?  Remember, he’s the hero who chained up a gasoline soaked Joseph Goebbels on New Year’s Day, and lit him on fire at a secret Berlin meeting of the “Jewish Society of Political Proactivity”. Nazi radio refused to cover the spectacle at the time, but as any twelve-year-old German  knows today, it forced Hitler to privately rethink his Final Solution, fearing internal insurrection might compromise his lofty imperial ambitions.  Later that year the Night of Burning Nazis began a reign of citizen-sponsored terror that brought the fascist regime to its racist knees.

Wow, the carnage those Nazis could have wreaked! Thank God for Abe Sharon!

The man burning up on the Chicago off-ramp wasted his poorly thought out suicide. Couldn’t he have accomplished so much more, and also gained incredible national impact, while hugging a popular congressman? And if his progressive methods caught on to all severely depressed peoples with a conscience, who wanted more than anything to punish themselves and the rest of the cruel world with creative suicides? All of these good people, thousands nationally, perhaps a couple million worldwide, who all know they will personally become toast by the end of the year… Could they at least secure for posterity some heroic conflagrations for the international archive?

Unfortunately no.

I have a theory that the great percentage of suicides are inherently sensitive and pacifistic peoples. None would think of harming another soul. It’s the homicide-suicides that must be convinced. The demented ones who mow down innocents of their communities before firing the bullet through their own rotten craniums. Somehow we must get into these numbskulls knowledge of the real guilty parties. The people who truly deserve punishment. Those who kill and are free. The bomb makers, the drone drivers, the folks who vigorously promote and maintain the bomb-making and drone driving. The fascist community. The secure and grossly comfortable billionaires and most millionaires of our planet who push for the establishment status quo until it reaches the point of the abyss. How many millionaires do we know who vigorously protest the military-industrial-medical-educational complex? There are a few, but most likely have reached their positions of wealth and popularity via the virtue of their politics.

Michael Moore for instance insists we slaves use the master’s tools to dismantle the master’s house. That didn’t work too well for the majority of strong men and women on the plantations of yesteryear. Actually, it took some very big caliber artillery, radical improvements in the rifle bore, and giant armies of crazed homicide-suicide men to release the darker skins from their 350 year bondage.

Human establishment avenues for change have never brought change on the scale that all life needs change.

John Brown could have begun a popular trend in those more innocent, racist times before satellite spying and retina I.D., if he hugged a drunken Jeff Davis at a D.C. bar while setting them both ablaze.

So why don’t these irate homicide-suicides ever affix the proper blame? Old buddies at work? Children at a welfare check pick-up point? Strangers at a fast food restaurant? Ugh! Man these ignorant psychopaths have got to get a grip! There are true, flesh and blood evildoers in their midst. But yet again, how to convince a psychopath of the potentially positive future for the common good whilst he struggles alone on his internal warpath?

The self-igniting suicide fails to see. Likewise, the homicide-suicide must be way too messed up in the head. One cannot rely on this hapless, pathetic mass-murderer to sustain a safe future for our children…

Hence my moral predicament with the propagandist. He is sitting in the air-conditioned studio, a wealthy, well-traveled vocal promoter of the establishment. Never has he interviewed a man or a woman of peaceful significance. As if our poor, burning Chicago suicide had not a living soul to carry his torch—to let on to a national audience the horrors that plagued the man and his country.

What forces drive the national radio personality? He talks about his giant love for his daughters and his wife, and yet Saturday morning will come again and again without revolution. Not even the tiny, personal kind, when our anchor sneaks out the news uncensored, for the love of his wonderful daughters, that his government’s helicopter gunship fired 56 rounds through the body of an Iraqi man’s beautiful, wonderful, smart, kind, gentle and caring daughter, hugging a plush stuffed pheasant while crossing the street.

He won’t tell who fired from the helicopter gunship, what very distant distance he fired from, what company manufactured the devil’s flagship, nor even what its deadly power is capable of in a country dispossessed of anything that flies beyond the single desperate arm launch capabilities of rocks and refuse.

His respectful Chinese daughters are safe at home listening to Dad never in a lifetime mention the guilty of the earth. He is one audio/visual celebrity in fifty who gets paid by the Goebbels machine to pontificate daily events that may be true, yet are profoundly unnecessary. The sophisticated sound of his voice is all the proof we need, as proud Americans, to not question the profound love he has for his precious daughters. A forty-hour work week, lunches daily in fine D.C. restaurants. Dinners too, most nights. A book tour this summer. Fly back on Sundays to cherish his incomparably special adopted daughters, to drive a Mercedes, to fly to our town’s humble airfield, and carry personally the one man circus propaganda to our middle class and middle-class wannabes. Their fifty dollar annual donations allow this daily reaffirmation of national bloody aggression—and proudly fund this Goon of Goebbels the ability to reach 100,000 of the most dangerously educated morons in the listening area. He loves, loves, loves so much his miraculous, heavenly children. He is any man just like you and me, making a living the best way he can, working hard and sober, dreaming of good, clean things, like the glorious love for his perfect babies, saved from a tortured childhood in that horrible rot of humanity China…

His broadcast power has made me a first-rate coward. Huck Finn thought himself the nastiest, low-down, vile-ist creature when he decided not to turncoat on Miss Watson’s slave Jim. I know the feeling. I am the devil’s spawn too, the rottenest, dirtiest pig of a cheap excuse for a man. The wealthy news anchor sits in a leather chair, a relaxed professional liar. A man who tells what he is told, by the powers that whip a desperate mankind to death eventually. I have gasoline in the trunk, and matches in the glove-box. I know the layout of the station like the back of my precious daughter’s hand. There’s no lock on the door. The rental car would be parked by the lake. It would be almost too easy to set him on fire…

Then I realize, after all the proud outward justification, the countless nights dreaming of assassination, that I will never become the murderer that needs to be. I am a coward through and through. The creeping fascism which threatened our country during the past two generations has settled in now for the duration. Sixty-eight million Germans let their government destroy whatever, however, whenever, and whomever it wanted.  They were just too darn safe and comfortable to ignite the guilty. The powers that were had control of all annihilation. And the propagandists faithfully reported its agenda.

Nothing has changed. Our celebrity anchor got up from his chair to shake the hand of our local, admiring interviewer. I got my windows from the corporate warehouse and spent the afternoon installing four upstairs in the rooms of my glorious daughters. And another sweet, adoring angel child was murdered by a gang of the Führer’s stormtroopers.

On Saturday morning our national reporter got word from his remarkable, intelligent daughters that U.S. troops are raping little foreign girls like themselves on location.

Our intrepid Goon of Goebbels took the news very seriously from his lucky, smart, and informed Chinese perfections, entered the studio somewhat grave and determined, and received very stately the paper outlining the 9:30 a.m. installment for the day.

An interview with the author of the book entitled, Old Jews Telling Jokes: 5,000 Years of Funny Bits and Not-So-Kosher Laughs.

   So I am a grand coward of the informed. How about you, dear German of late?

 

 

 

The Curators of The Smithsonian American Art Museum and the Renwick Gallery Need A History Lesson

Dan the Surveyor 1777-1831

Dan the Surveyor 1777-1831

Two years ago I set out to document the genealogy of Throops, of which I am the last male in my line. During the Great Depression my Great Grandfather Henry made genealogy his wintertime hobby, when no work was available to an engineer building roads and bridges. He amassed quite an impressive archive to pass on. Old tin types and photos, letters from the mid-nineteenth century, his grandfather’s handwritten autobiography, personal Civil War artifacts and stories handed down from his father, etc., etc. He was a born archivist, yet few in his circle of friends and family appreciated his side work, and boxes got stored in the attic over the course of three more generations. I took up his work in 2012, traveling to all the towns where the family settled since arriving to North America in 1660, and adding more detail to his archive, as well as a poet/painter’s imagination in paint, prose, collage and modern home video technology. I painted 11 portraits of the male line, pasted an eight foot long collage of timeline detail, edited a video of my odyssey, and published a colorful book on the patronym, all on my own dime. No grants, no special presents, no expectation of reward. I had a show in October of that year. Good friends came, a few acquaintances, and my begging jar made $130.00 cash for the hundreds of hours put into the display. The portraits are to the right of this post and here. The published book is here, but much too expensive for the general reading public. This volume was an absolute joy in the making. I had my father’s handwriting made into a font and used it in many aspects of the design. A photo of a section of the giant collage below:

End of Line Collage

And finally a link to the movie on Vimeo.

In late 2013 I was corresponding with a representative of the Renwick Gallery about acquisition of this work. My intention was/is to preserve in the American Painter archive my historical work as an American Painter. At least there it would last as long as the United States remained a sovereign entity.

At first I was vying for a purchase of my work, but the assistant curator hinted that I should also offer it as donation to the museum. I agreed. My intention was/is purely archival. I want my great grandchild to have access beyond the thermostatically uncontrolled attic of the future. The assistant agreed to pass the request over to the curatorial team. And I got my reply of “no thank you” by the end of the week.

Ho boy. Now for the argument in favor of nullification.

My wife and I pay a federal tax of about $4,000 a year, maybe more, probably more, but we figure like children in matters of finance. Many people we know have made a touch upon the government till at some point over the course of their lives. Veteran’s benefits, disability checks, and recent Affordable Healthcare recipients to name a few. Many receive no benefit from paying federal tax, other than the illusory cover of protection from a military build up out of control. The Smithsonian is a subsidized institution, as are national parks, and federal highway programs. We pay our half-penny to curators in D.C. to oversee the archive of our history, and our 26th part of a penny to the overseers at the Renwick. Sure, my family can spend a couple thousand bucks visiting Washington D.C. and spend a full day in the Renwick for free, but it’s not for free, as the capitol makes its dime on our visit one way or another. In fact our stay in D.C actually helps authenticate a system that has become corrupt beyond recognition of its original intention. I believe that as a living and breathing American painter my request to have the above work archived must be taken seriously. It is respectful payback for my yearly investment made to the coffers of this depleted nation. Just accepting a copy of the book for future reference would have been acceptable to me. A request from the last man in a Throop legacy dating all the way back to 1660 who also happens to be a professional painter! What excuse can the curators of the Renwick possibly give that is not grossly unfair as well as insulting? They represent an historical archive of American painters. How many alive today recently completed a thorough genealogy backed by individual portraits of each male member of eleven generations?  My guess is zero, which gives me some justification to make a claim for storage at least, by virtue of American originality. The Renwick has a basement and the basement can possess a bookshelf to house a Throop publication. I never wanted a floor show. I just expect the art archivists to do their damn job. There is room. The burden is on the curators to prove the contrary. Otherwise, the pink slips. Even I, without doctoral training, would recognize a work of historical significance.

A relative Deborah Goldsmith has some work in the Renwick. She painted several Throops including the one at the top of this post. She lived in the Burned Over District of central New York in the early 19th century, painting weekend portraits for a time before she married my Great Great Great Uncle and then died young. She was a talented poet (my daughters and wife recite one of her poems in the video). There are about ten of her paintings surviving in museums around the country. Her work is very representative of an era in American history when no one graduated from universities as art curators. Therefore valuable historical artifacts weren’t compiled when the compiling mattered—when the work was fresh, available, and undamaged. Today we have multiple millions of dollars exchanged educating professional art archivists who act as if they have not learned a damn thing. They will let me die with a moldy basement stuffed to the ceiling of historically relevant yet significantly damaged lifetime build up of canvases. My children will contact an assistant curator at the Renwick to inquire about donating some of the work. Even then I think acceptance would be a toss-up. One has to be good and dead before a modern educated curator gets hit on the head with an understanding of historical significance. Maybe my great grandkids will have better luck. Maybe nobody in the line gets included in the American legacy. And then an old Whistler depicting a rabbit in the snow is found in someone’s attic, and the $6,000 banners go up around the Renwick calling out to the tourists to come see another ubiquitous painter of our blah-blah history.

And so the bureaucracy feeds upon itself. What’s new?

Below is an introduction to the book that The Renwick finds unacceptable for free:

I remember the first time I got a hold of Throop/Goldsmith Ancestral Charts. My father had me borrow it, as well as Henry’s three unpublished manuscripts (History, Charts, and Photos) when I was 26 years old. I leafed through the pages at my makeshift desk of early sorrows, while dreaming of Henry Miller, Thoreau, Whitman, Kenneth Patchen, etc. I was going to become them, not myself, which, in a fact I could not conceive of at the time, was all I ever was going to be. The study of genealogy is not for the modern twenty-something. It is a very rare wonder, a young man or woman today delving into the world of their ancestors. Yet for Henry Throop it was an interest of his at an early age. Was genealogy a popular pastime at the turn of the 20th century? His book of local deaths, begun at age eleven, was most likely a professional duty left by a recently deceased country doctor to his son, and not a boy’s macabre fascination to be diagnosed by the Freudians of his day. Still Henry’s interest in the families of Lebanon, N.Y., even in his time, was probably a peculiar quirk for a young man soon off to academy and then college. His early journals are replete with accounts of local marriages, births and deaths. In hindsight this sheds light to a different career path that would have brought him uncommon joys. A successful engineer, I have no doubt that Henry was a born historian. Maybe he would have tossed into the ditch Macadam Road worries and transit dreams, provided there existed an economy in his day that encouraged the intellectual flights of fancy of poor country boys.

So I returned the books to my Dad, giving back no more than “Hmphh, imagine that!” out of the exchange, and continued on my own path of raising a daughter half-time as a line cook in a rinky-dink restaurant. I had dreams too. The literary life! A path of writing out my history as it happened; in the modern fashion a la´Henry Miller — the good, the bad, the private and often truly embarrassing. Unlike my great grandfather, I actually lived in an economy where I could choose any path I wanted, provided I paid my dues to the university that would graduate me to the career and/or income level of my choice. And yet unlike Henry I was raised in a community that worshipped its own immediate marvelousness and seemed to cut all ties to its past. It’s funny how Henry mentions with amusement in his autobiography that his children Ronald and Robert thought he lived in “Bible” times. And yet I think of my grandfather Ronald as the most conservative, traditional human being that ever walked the earth.

I am told by my father David that Ronald took little interest in Henry’s passion for the past. Yet I know now that by succumbing to the power of tradition, Ronald proved to be quite gifted in the art of the future. He and my grandmother Evelyn, funded the undergraduate educations of all five of their grandchildren. Both attended Cornell during the Depression years, and forged a will towards lifelong frugality. My living family owes a deep debt of gratitude to their gift, for although their hope was to secure a bright economic future for their progeny, they could not foresee the immense social and economic change that would spoil the be-Jesus out of successive generations. Still they deserve high praise for their efforts, for I believe that even if a college degree does not guarantee two cars and a garage, it can pull the individual somewhat out of ignorance in a world gone wrong. Eventually true education will pine for knowledge of the past, wherein lies the wisdom that those who cannot learn (the ignorant) or will not (the arrogant, formally educated fools), are denied. I cannot speak for my sisters and cousins, but I have been a carrier of the torch set by our ancestors. And I will (I already have) handed it over to my daughters. Henry funded Ronald’s education. The DeClerq’s did the same for Evelyn (college was a tool for her to find a rich husband, yet she chose Ronald, to her parent’s chagrin). William and Calphurnia set up James Mott for a medical degree. Dan and Sarah Throop helped their son William become a schoolhouse teacher. No government loans. No scholarship opportunities listed on the internet. The next generation was to have a better life, but not without hard work and responsibility. Oh yes, and up to the discovery of penicillin, most held a deep respect for a god that would take their loved ones on an insidious whim. This kept everyone’s life on a less selfish, more communal trajectory. The boom economy of the mid twentieth century had the fathers working, the mothers starting to dream about work, and a new age where even their daughters could go to college to begin a career, and choose a husband who supported a wife’s ambitions beyond housework and the raising of children. Wow! Progress! The kids were left home to play all day, without fieldwork and disease. Praise the home inventions and affordable access to video and vroom-vroom.   Forget about those old codgers of the past. Let’s party!

Well, we have lost so much in less than a century. Although I have not honored my grandparents with a choice career, at least I have gained the knowledge of whom to emulate for the next thirty summers or so.

My people.

Kurt Vonnegut wrote that there are more than enough world champions to fit into every category of human endeavor. The rest of us are poor imitators to the “great ones” of today. And we suffer a lifetime of familial loneliness for giving up the evolutionary success of clans nurtured for thousands upon thousands of years.

A western genealogy going back several generations will pinpoint the dislocation for individual families. Modern technology has freed us to take a path back to a wisdom which was forgotten soon after so much of the world got rich so quickly. After discovering the contents of Throops past in stored boxes I now possess the desire to shun all imitation of fools. This private education got its jumpstart in the public institution. For this I am grateful. It is okay to be who I am. I am so much my father and mother and the sum of all family that came before. The future is my children. The past are my ancestors. Thoreau wrote that it’s “better to be a living dog than a dead lion.” I disagree. The dead lions live in us all, and because of this knowledge, I rise above “dog”, not by virtue of my own life necessarily, but as a result of the efforts of my forbears. They are me. I am a wonder of evolution, and my daughters will be even more suited to maneuver through life’s future challenges. It is to Henry, for his reverence of the past, and to Ronald, for his steadfast hope in the future, that I dedicate this book.

Ron Throop

Oswego, N.Y.

July 4, 2012

This is not a complete genealogy. Not even close. It is to be shown in an art installation this fall which centers around portraits painted of the direct paternal line of Throops going back to William of Barnstable Massachusetts, 1660. I know I have a mother and great mothers descending a million or so years back to equatorial Africa, and each of these human wonders had a father and mother. To think about the multitudinous lines connected in memory to just one person living today, is more the task for a math super genius than the hobbyist historian.

No, my method is for sake of congruity. I assemble the following pages with a loving touch to carry on a small portion of the work begun by my great grandfather.

So no hard feelings mothers and daughters!

Please Do Not Disturb For I Have Been Away On Rough Seas and Am On Leave For The Rest of My Life

Please Do Not Disturb For I Have Been On Rough Seas and Am On Leave For The Rest of My Life

It will be a private miracle if I get through the longest winter in one mental piece. I shall hang this painting up on our hotel door tonight with a $50.00 price tag. Those standard “do not disturb signs” are rude and arrogant. The hotel is a Hilton or a Hyatt so there might be some hallway passersby posing as art collectors. Maybe a hotel maid on a good tip morning. My worry is that there won’t be enough room to slide the money under the door… There it is! Caught in the act. The delusion of the artist. You can see for yourself where the thinking twists. I made the painting knowing no one will buy it, yet still plan out a procedure for selling. I have had over six months to accumulate a dowry for our daughter. Could have had plenty plus a new car if I hawked a square millimeter paint chip of Jeff Koons’ mermaid hooker to my local struggling museum. But I have not made one thin dime. Monopoly money and a promissory note is tucked in her wedding card.

So this is America. The Federal Reserve, the media, the President, the Governor, the mandated lawyer and insurance agent, the top, the bottom, the middle clump, all participate in trickle down anti-poetry. To the painter unfunded, every man and woman in the street becomes the antithesis of the following verse from Lou Reed’s Think it Over:

“She said somewhere there’s a far away place/where all is ordered and all is grace/No one there is ever disgraced/and everybody there is wise/and everyone has taste…”

You can read about my lame attempt at dowry here on this blog.

And then for the reading pleasure of Lou Reed fans, a homage to a master who cherished the best prop to poets: rhythm.

Only in crazyland would artists and writers be pushed into business. We all know it too, but remain a lifetime quiet practicing hope and patience, and begging. We need to band together as modern gypsies with soap, and elect our most flamboyant to entertain the mobs while the rest of us sneak up from behind to pick pockets. No more residencies. No more grants from the grantor class. We need mule and wagon communities and long nights by the fire sharing lessons in thievery.

Know a frustrated painter? Send her or him over to discuss our next scam.