Month: August 2014

Queen Nutella Shines The Herkimer Diamond

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Acrylic and spray paint on canvas, 36 x 48″

This visual autobiographical romance can be a kicker. What an improvement in the packaging of human existence! The overwhelming majority go to an overpriced, sardine-wedged KOA campground gathering future memories that wane to oblivion over time. Even the happiest five minutes one had in a week can be shelved deep and dark in the brain’s Smithsonian, never again to be brought up to the reading room.

Not this memory.

We took our daughter and nephew to the Herkimer Diamond Mine. We didn’t find any crystals there in the hot sun, so later on I led them up a dry stream bed at the border of our campground. Eureka! Crystal and geode rock city.

That night a local skunk got into our Nutella® while my wife clung onto me as I shivered spasmodically. Adirondack foothills get very cool at night, and we brought only a sheet to cover our sleep.

Queen Nutella has a Herkimer Diamond tongue piercing. She would be very attractive, even cross-species-ally, if she wasn’t such a greedy gluttoness of processed foods.

And Swim Like Anchors In The Sea… Some Day You Will Flower My Bee

Someday You Will Flower My Bee

In Mungbeing Magazine this month.

Mungbeing is published in California. Here is an old poem I wrote when California was hydrated. Thank you Mark Givens for publishing:

All Laws Should Come From California

Cause that country’s big on brains
“Everything causes cancer”
is what Cal printed on my can of compound
Californians can’t be dumb
I don’t know if it’s in the air
or that air is in them,
But they are smarter,
maybe happier as a group
of smiling, flighty representatives of so many sad people
Make them happy
and they become knowing children
sensing evil like a bunny does in a supermarket
Unlike Mr. Alphonse
with butter dripping off his chin
and swimming in his pool of steak’s blood,
they won’t eat meat.
They shower outdoors in California
and touch food with prayers
and walk with colorful loose clothing,
and sing,
and nobody knows a frowning parent.

There is a shaded place on rocks
where spices roast on a fire
The aroma is maithuana
which means prolonged embrace
This breeze is purer than old Japan
A place too new for cars and sheetrock dust
and men hunched over dragging chords of sadness
and tiredness and old must.
Here ghee is a purer form of law
All the country’s butter was packed in the attic,
the attic stripped and burnt cause
can’t keep cows now, or jobs
Must make love your money
and if you suffer and die from it
then that’s three world’s better
from installing security systems
it cost 39 cents to roast coriander and make love
You can find the money on the beach
or sell a graft of your tanned skin
to a cheese waitress in smalltown.
And when your boss walks over to your art
and wonders why those spices in onions
You can say to him,
Well, they’re doing it in California”
and then all will be okay
because people out there are smarter
and laws against the rest of us are forthcoming.

 

Joy—It’s What’s In The Head

My wife and I celebrated our crystal anniversary on Thursday and I was able to carry the weight of good feeling into the weekend. Just barely.

Five years ago we bought land in the country for the price many Americans would pay for a Toyota 4Runner. 16 acres surrounded at three cardinal directions by 1400 acres of the county nature center. Just a few humans every couple of square miles. The cool cloudy day of our anniversary was good medicine. Marie suggested that I paint her, which I did on a piece of 2 x 4′ luan. It will be hidden in the basement until our teenage daughter is not that grossed out by it—probably forever. I drank expensive local craft beer followed by local Finger Lakes Red Wine (dry like my humor, thank Dionysus). We picked blackberries, cooked dinner over the fire, and went for a rare bugless walk at dusk, to finally fall asleep with sunset still marking the treeline.

Unfinished meow!

We can’t afford the land anymore. It’s paid for, but our debts in other places not nearly as valuable, are bearing down on us. The “for sale” sign has been up for several months without any takers. Lucky for us, for we’re getting cold feet—especially after a crystal anniversary cementing silver and golden ones to come so long as our bodies can hold out that long. I am a stubborn creative fool hiding in happy failure. I have arrested development, a youthful optimism that is challenged day after day—not without realization. I know what culture I am up against, and sometimes it thinks me to be a village idiot. A damn lucky one to be sure—a wife to subsidize his gross maladjustment, children who respect and love him, and yes, even a dumbed down culture that thrives in a super economy, where the daft painter can purchase expensive supplies on easy credit.

Living roof hut. Doesn’t leak.

But geeze Louise, just stop for a day and assess the treadmill. The status house, the wealth lie. Lately I have been sitting on my life “Indian style”, that is, with adult lifelong conviction that we are all living on the “Res” in one way or another. Supposedly, after shelter, food, clothing, fuel, and modern medicine, we are educated to free our minds, find our place, and flow helpfully in society. In my extended clan of the past or future I would fit in as one of the radical-clowns, one to see the black and white of the situation, react to it, voice it, color it in the proportion that I see fit, and send it over to the wise council for deliberation. However, this reservation is casino corrupt. It silences many good Indians with humiliation that is usually enough to set them on a path to unrighteousness, to unlove, to uncourage, to unjoy.

I am getting off track. I want to write about the writer and painter as radical-clown. But first, to clarify my position above… A distant Indian relative of mine said it best:

Not long since, a strolling Indian went to sell baskets at the house of a well-known lawyer in my neighborhood. “Do you wish to buy any baskets?” he asked. “No, we do not want any,” was the reply. “What!” exclaimed the Indian as he went out the gate, “do you mean to starve us?” Having seen his industrious white neighbors so well off—that the lawyer had only to weave arguments, and, by some magic, wealth and standing followed—he had said to himself: I will go into business; I will weave baskets; it is a thing which I can do. Thinking that when he had made the baskets he would have done his part, and then it would be the white man’s to buy them. He had not discovered that it was necessary for him to make it worth the other’s while to buy them, or at least make him think that it was so, or to make something else which it would be worth his while to buy. I too had woven a kind of basket of a delicate texture, but I had not made it worth any one’s while to buy them. Yet not the less, in my case, did I think it worth my while to weave them, and instead of studying how to make it worth men’s while to buy my baskets, I studied rather how to avoid the necessity of selling them. The life which men praise and regard as successful is but one kind. Why should we exaggerate any one kind at the expense of the others?

—Thoreau

Exactly! Hence, the Indian in the country, weaving his baskets.

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Books for sale to the song of crickets.

After a near-perfect anniversary celebration I had the usual rush of “fear in the financial future” that afflicts all of the unmade artists of the world. It is the downside of happy delusion, and I think a very needful sorrow for the creative mind to be up against. Without it, there can be no fight, and it is the fight that can bring you back to right-thinking. The next day I decided to bring some self-published books and lessor paintings out to sell along the land’s impressive road frontage. Businessmen always ask about road frontage before buying. Very important consideration. It can make or break what seems to be a sound business plan. Anyway, the seasonal Renaissance Faire is a quarter mile up the road and brings an enormous amount of traffic past our country property on weekends in summer. We let our friend Dan sell his tie-dyes there, and he does quite well. Last year I joined him three times, about 25 hours of retail work, and made 40 dollars total. I sold one book and two paintings. (Actually, just the two paintings. I threw the book in for one customer because I was just so damn happy to sell a painting.) In comparison, Dan made about $400 during the same period.

I imagine the Ren Faire to be a good random sample of local caucasian consumers. The bad history, horrendous detail, and several thousand turkey legs call out all strata of our class society—the college professor as well as the successful Quicky Lube technician. Dan gets about 2 customers per hour on average, with at least one purchase, maybe a t-shirt or a onesie. A hundred dollar day is nothing to sneeze at. So, the Indian businessmen would work with Dan’s model, improving upon it, making a mint for the family and clan. The Indian radical-clown however, after failing with his business model, does it again for good measure.

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30 canvas and 30 paper paintings for sale to interested porcupines.

And ho boy, does he succeed at repetitive failure!

Not one customer. 500 cars drove by, all headed to the same place, to spend money on the same stuff. SUV’s and Audi’s. F-150’s and RV’s a-plenty. 75% of the cars driving by cost about what we are asking for the land. Perhaps 75% of riders in the cars could name this year’s American Idol winner, and 75% would ride off a cliff if the last bag of Cheetos® on earth was leading the way.

I had a memorable anniversary. I love Marie. We will keep the land, grow our debt, and live as free as we can in a super economy on the American reservation. I am the radical clown who makes joy in the head. I’d say “Pleased to meet you”, if you ever got out of the rusting cage-on-wheels to look at my work.

 

Boat People Of The Younger Dryas

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Boat People of the Younger Dryas 2011. Acrylic on hard board, 48 x 24″

One of the many sold paintings from a time when I was famous…

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.
In this painting, everyday folks are discussing the merits of an attractive pet lizard on Facebook while earth’s conveyor belts shut down.

A poem to champion just one way in a thousand to cook our future staple:

Your Spirit is Like When You Bite Into a French Fry

That is if you like French fries
Joy is the moment before the first bite
or even while chewing if you can at least
anticipate another and another
Spirit is all things joy is plus some
so you can wail harder over a loss
if your French fries are steaming hot
and you love them.

Let me put it this way…
All over the world right now
even under the tall trees of Africa
somewhere someone waits for a hot plate of fries
And if he is healthy
it may be the most important thing
to happen in a week,
even more important than meeting Mr. President
or Mr. General or Mr. Lawyer, ha ha
(I’m sorry, but I always laugh at grown-up pretend)
Even a killer might embarrass himself
while fleeking saliva all over his plate
Or a daughter at the funeral
might leap too quickly to that smoked ham

Let me put it another way…
No one has done anything right
except anticipate the French fry.
Ah, but when that is done to perfection,
I mean being exactly what you are,
there is nothing more wonderfully satisfying
than waiting for supper

Your greatest heroes had French fries on the brain
Your priest gets his on a gold-plated dish
Your father who lost everything but ketchup
would have left you if it wasn’t for that joy

Listen for once to your secrets will you?
Life is a confusing series of appetite

Just drool discreetly while making friends.

 

 

Day Trip To See Winslow Homer Paint Rich People Problems

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Dan Throop by Deborah Goldsmith

Spent a bright summer day with a friend touring the Burned Over District from Cazenovia to Cooperstown. Beautiful country. Rolling hills, green and lush, manicured farms, hops and sheep herds. The land loved by four generations of Throops—I’d set up housekeeping there too if I was a rich man, that is, one who could make a living from the land, without the 100,000 dollar investment in the John Deere Corporation. My friend and I pretended to be accomplished, well-received painters and wore ascots while we dined at the Otesaga resort hotel.

Deborah Goldsmith was a young portrait painter before marrying my Great Great Great Uncle George Throop in 1832. She would visit local homes on Saturday and paint the likenesses of  Mr. and Mrs. Farmer. She wrote poetry and like a good neighbor, was deeply religious at a time when God was both a glorious deathless day and smite-on-a-whim. She died very young of the cholera leaving two children for a school teacher to raise. His mother “adopted” the daughter and son, while George sought work as a teacher in any town that would take him. He did this for several years finally making a move to Chicago to find fortune among relatives (one, a cousin and future founder of Cal Tech). He died of an unknown sickness a couple years later, orphaning his kids to his mother and her second husband.

The letters George and Deborah wrote back and forth during courtship are so revealing and supportive of my hypothesis that intellectual and expressive evolution of humanity hit an apex at some point in the 19th century. George, the farmer’s son, wrote his first love letter in May, 1832, a twenty-two year old Throop on the chase. Deborah wrote back often too. She, even more literary and thoughtful after a one-room schoolhouse education. I have several of their letters. I post George’s declaration below, followed by my first love letter to my present-day wife of fifteen years this week. I had a modern liberal college education. George learned to read and write and do arithmetic on a hard chair without plumbing nor electric light.

Miss Deborah Goldsmith
Toddsville, New York

(Paid 10 cents)

Hamilton
May 20th, 1832
At Home.

Deborah:

It is with sincere pleasurable feelings that I now seat myself to scratch a few thoughts to an absent friend, one whose moral worth is beyond the reach of the deceiving machinations of the fawning sycophants, whose heart is averse to the flattering deceptions of a coquette, whose mind is raised above the fogs of sense and groveling desires by the light of science; whose soul has been filled with that Love which was manifested on Calvary’s rugged mount for a lost and ruined world, where was crucified a loving Savior, where was spilt the precious blood of Jesus for sinful man.

This morning my mind is deeply affected with a melancholy scene before me (which I will mention in postscript), and the dreadful calamities that daily roll themselves through this community, today beholding a disconsolate widow mourning the loss of a kind husband and dear friend, with two little orphans hanging around her, while their father lies before them a corpse, stiffened in the cold grasp of death, never more to smile on them nor embrace them in the arms of affection. These things affect me, and when I turn on the other hand and see a multitude engaged in the pursuits of life, some after the gaudy bubble fashion, some, the shining dust of earth, others trampling on slandered innocence, it all tends to wean me from the deceptions of a flattering world and to examine my own deceitful heart.
This is a beautiful morning in May. The earth is carpeted in green. Everything is starting anew to life. All nature is clothed in beauty. The forest, after braving the furious blasts of winter, is now mantled in a beautiful green. The little foresters are skipping from branch to branch with joy and gladness. They hail the morn with songs of praise and bid the setting sun adieu with their sweet choral symphonies. The blossoms are unfolding their beauty to the morning sunbeams and everything is calculated to call forth the feelings and present to the mind of man the wisdom and goodness of our Heavenly Father. When I behold such harmony throughout creation, I am convinced, as even past experience has demonstrated, that ‘tis friendship that sweetens the joys of life, sincere friendship, a principle of the heart. It smooths the rugged pathway of life, quells the stormy passions and opens in each heart a door from which all that is delightful, all that is pleasing, all that is consoling, all that is amiable, all that is virtuous, flow. For what? To be spent in air? Or to float down the broad stream that rolls itself to the briny ocean, and there to be buried in oblivion? I answer, No. It is, rather, to cheer the desponding heart of mortal man and convert him from a downcast misanthrope to a sympathizing friend, and thus bring him home to the enjoyment of society. Although there is a great deal said about friendship, it affords consolation to none but the virtuous, the sincere. To all others, the reverse.

That you may not mistake my meaning, I now declare unto you in the words, my sole object in engaging your company. It is to obtain a friend, a friend to share with me the joys and sorrows of life; to cheer in the hour of gloom and be glad in the hour of joy; to gain heart and hand, and travel with me down the declivity of life, and, when fortune frowns and I am buffeted about on the stormy ocean of adversity, one who can look with a smile and console the tempest-beaten bosom with cheering conversation.

Yes, Deborah, this is all that urges me forward, and will it surprise thee when I declare that in thee my desires center, and all my hopes of earthly happiness have an end? After mature consideration and closely examining my own heart, I find that thy friendship and thy presence will ever be delightful. To know that thou art willing to comply with this request and impart thy virtue in increasing the happiness of one who respects virtue’s innocence, is all that will make life delightful to me. I claim no perfection; such as I am, I offer myself and thus make manifest my desire.
Deborah, I wish not to draw from thee a hasty and inconsiderate answer. No, take your time to consider. It is an important point; on it hangs all our future happiness. But this I claim: ‘Tis truth I send, and truth I ask in return. Perhaps you may think I am asking too much, but please to inform me if I am on the right ground, or not. So I add no more.

Adieu.

Yours sincerely,

George A. Throop

P.S. — Friends in health. Write soon as convenient.
P.P.S. — Died, on the 19th inst., of the bilious fever, Mr. Hiram Niles, aged about 32. He left a wife and two little children. His sudden death is truly afflicting to the sorrowing friends, and to all rendered more so by the state of his mind. Lived about two miles south.

George (21 years old)

Dan the Surveyor 1777-1831

Dan Throop by Ron Throop

And finally Great Great Great Nephew Ron, 163 years later, still a Throop on the chase:

August 10, 1995

Ms. Rose, Rosa es una Rosa es una Rosa,

By now it is no secret that I am drugged with the thought of you, and that I need sleep, a good long one, for your drug to wear off. Someone or something slipped you into my drink, and after an onslaught of embarrassing hallucinations, and my heart’s suffering of those bittersweet palpitations, I feel the need to explain myself and the series of dreams I’ve had of you…
“How can I stop from singing?”

You’re a strange one missy. I don’t know you beyond my thoughts of you. Still, that cannot stop me from flashing these pictures of my madness. That is urge, and to me that is normal. I haven’t the courage to ask you for a cup of water or a piece of pie, but I have the nerve to explode before your eyes, and that isn’t fair, and life isn’t fair. So I am rather crude because I reject the preliminaries of “getting to know someone.” I know how to set myself up for a great fall.

Though before I carry on, and reveal to you the great big fool that is me, please, to save you the embarrassment, ignore my written babble flat out. Just sit down some place for reflection with this paper in your hand and view it like you would a passing bird, a gray cloud, the noise of a car… Maybe think of this as a gift, like a painting of a squirrel suspended in mid-air. Or put it in storage like an ugly lamp Aunt Tulip sent you on Christmas. Don’t abandon it entirely though, at least not until you’ve tested its light.
“Shhh,” is the command for the day. I haven’t the least bit of feeling for myself. You cannot hurt my feelings.
Oh, by the way, if you were wondering… This is Ron, the cook.

Listen to this…
“Sometimes with one I love, I fill myself up with rage, for fear I     effuse unretun’d love;
But now I think there is no unreturn’d love — the pay is certain, one     way or another;
(I loved a person ardently, and my love was not returned;
Yet out of all that, I have written these songs.)”

— Walt Whitman

I think that makes sense, right?
Well now, to announce my crush…
The other night on your stairs I got up and took a walk into your neighbor’s yard. I left you a little something on their porch a while back. I thought it was your house and porch. I hope that whoever lives there has a good sense of humor. Obviously they haven’t any tact.
There are so many ways to examine something, to sense it, drink it in, digest it. I am a quiet fellow on the outside, shy, absolutely inarticulate in every way, but in no way does that account for the inferno bubbling inside me. Eyes tell all, which is too bad if you’re not an eye-reader. And as your eyes have it, I remind you of our distinguished first president. Fine. My teeth are strong, an off-yellow perhaps, and crooked like my character. To look at me from a distance, you’d swear my torso rests on thin air. My legs are chicken spawn yet strong. They get me from here to there effectively. You know all about my hairs, or lack thereof, and I hope to God I’ve kept my nose clean. Personal hygiene and I haven’t been very close friends these days. It is my life’s curse to be more concerned about the waxing of the moon than with the wax build-up in my ears. I have a heart feeling the power of Al Deberan and arteries that push an Amazon or Mississippi. This always gets me into trouble. “Heart of mine so malicious and full of guile; give you an inch and you take a mile…” I do my laundry when I run out of clothes to wear, and whenever I become infatuated by a woman’s presence, I let her know right away. Or at least after a year of restless sleep and abnormal wanderings. I am a pile of contradiction, and I have nothing of any value to offer you. I am a fantastic liar. An even better loafer! I’m sure that on a date I would bore every mite off of you.
There you have it! An introduction to the self I am. Why is my desire so strong? Well Rose, you are human, like me, and I’m sure you will be very relieved to hear that I have not constructed any pedestals for you. You’re eight inches shorter than me, and I like it that way. However, I want you to know, even if you have been told a thousand times already, that you are fine, and desire is sweet torture. I am afraid of separating you even further away from me than you are now. Ouch! That would be bad. I like your talk. Your heart is big. Enough said.
Except for this: Please understand… There is no way you can let me down. So don’t even try, you beautiful fool. I am not asking for anything you have not already given, splendidly. This letter then? Well, think of it as a gift to you. Take it gracefully. Heck, I’m not even asking you out on a date! That should bring you some relief, eh?
Look, I am a poet and I sing. I can hope that you can hear.
Cheers.

Ron (27 years old)

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French Fairport On The Erie Canal Could Be The Village Of Love

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This is an unpaid commission requested by a nice woman at my daughter’s wedding last week. After telling me she liked my work very much (with ensuing blood vessel rush up to the front of my cheek skin), she asked if I would donate one of my paintings to her Rotary for auction. Well, her Rotary is Fairport, so in the studio I dreamed an American village without fat stomach tattoos of Zen writing calligraphy. On house lawns the “F” word was being soaped out of the mouths of children who forgot to respect the peace of empathy. I dreamed a village square void of any Chinese made gew-gaw gadget of pure unhappiness. By a fountain a young man with empty wide pockets and a young woman in a flower sun dress counted their hopes for a bottle of red wine and a fresh baked loaf. Easy peasey dreaming a place without real people.

Fairport can be a 19th century French village with modern medicine and Wi-Fi humming up and down the shimmering canal. It need only a touch of fear and trembling of something much larger than a Fairport to revitalize reverence and respect. A warrior king, a retributive Gaia, a god to actually drop down a son or daughter to show us what’s what or else… Yes, I declare Fairport to be the village of love, however,  you should read the line in the next painting—”First, I need the rest of you shiftless squatters to get the hell out.”

I hope it can make the Rotary 50 bucks richer.

We’ll see.