Month: January 2015

Old Portrait of Me In Hat

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2007. Acrylic on canvas, 18 X 24″ Reynolds Collection

Copied from a pencil drawing my daughter did of me when I was a fast cook with a Walt Whitman hat. Don’t forget to read December, out in paperback now.

Here is an old poem I wrote back when she drew pictures of me:

Nobody Wants a Bird

And as I point out to her
a fake wonder
Two birds flying
with sticks in their beaks
I know she knows I’m false—
that I can’t really mean
all that is wonderful
and real red and yellow.
How do you break
something this beautiful?
Can I warn her
without the obvious
“Just turn to channel nine dear?”
You think it’s funny,
not at all serious,
but I can’t take my mind away
from the desire
to believe
birds are wonderful creatures.
I want to believe.
Frogs are living right
A warm sun gives them food
and a home in muck and green.
I want to believe that comfort
is death,
and space
and eternity
know no more magic
than a lemon.
I want life to be this sweet
this sour,
(I’m stretching my arms wide now,
pulling muscles
straining my face)
I want real agonies and real joys
not little spits
that lie to her straight-faced
and immediately think
of dinner, the new job,
your friend’s coming suicide,
will they like me?,
how many days until Christmas,
car insurance,
joint cement,
why the dog chewed a milk carton…
“Look at the birds
with the sticks honey.
They’re making a nest
for babies.”
That in Rochester New York
riding out of a museum parking lot.

The bird—
the grace and truth of being real.
Look at us liars and fakers
and child and bird haters.
Can you get a number that high
to weigh the metal and cement?
Listen you,
smelt all the iron and steel
plastic and paper
rubber and wallboard
paints and petroleum
sad faces and human fat—
Cool it to a mass
twenty miles high
and your fat head wide,
but that worthless half nest
of a bird home still
has more weight on God’s scale
than this stinking crap of car parts
we call the common good.
Throw one lie to a child
on top of the heap
and you get
a dead kid
on top of more machines.
The only crisis in our puny little pocket existence
is the ignorance of birds.
Everything else can be
our own small fault,
wallet boy!

 

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Bob Dylan Is A Greedy Man

LuckyTumbler

“Lucky Kid Usury” 2009. Acrylic on paper, 16 X 25″ Patterson Collection

From Last Communion:

Bob Dylan is a dog. A wealthy one. An intelligent one. But a dog nonetheless. For a man who has made millions on creativity, (much deserved in the medium of songwriting), he doesn’t need a wooden nickel more for his paintings, and now unfortunately we hear, his welding. At least not while he is alive. Damn dog. Damn monkey with a head for business. He’s a monkey and a dog. Damn greedy monkey dog who is playing the market like a pro, knowing darn well what the brand Dylan with fetch from the millionaire lawyers. But he paints like any painter, that is, paintably. And he welds like any welder can weld when a welder has a maid and a private cook. What more could he possibly need? Fill up a gallery with soft millionaire strokes and that’s one less gallery for the desperate strugglers to achieve. Oh I bet as a young man on a slushy Soho street he waved a fist or two at the established folk singer tools stuffing their portfolios with easy money. He got his break at a time when suits decided to merge their distribution talents with the creative joys of artists. Vinyl could be shelved all over the world, like toilet paper and mayonnaise. It was win-win for the new industry. Columbia Records could not have gambled on a more successful poster child. For Bob was an artist, then. And like any artist worth his salt, he held a skyscraper chip on his shoulder for the rest of his life. He proved day after day why choosing him was a good idea, a sound investment. He worked at it. And improved. And never gave up. Why? Because he didn’t have to. Lunch was always available. Dinner and a late night snack too. After 1963, he could dip into any swimming pool at any time, and there would always be a bed made for him while traveling, always a seat on an airplane.
Bob Dylan the man has got his piece of the pie. He is a genius, a super creative person, but he is no longer an artist. Bob Dylan the dog knows he can pretend beg in other mediums, and achieve wild success, because of fame, not struggle. He’s like the old coddled poodle of a J.P. Morgan wife. He will take what he can get because he can get it. Steak on a plate, or a walk in the park. Anything he wants, because there are mindless people out there who will spoil a dog rotten. He began no more or less creative than other creative poodles in the city, but he happens to be the family poodle of one of the richest people on the planet. Beef bones will be stocked for him in perpetuity inside the Morgan tomb.
The economy of idiots is manipulated en total by the savvy business elite. Isn’t it obvious now? Mercedes and Bob Dylan are one in the same thing, it’s true. But Dylan is also a human being, and a monumentally greedy one at that. His paintings will sell very well for posterity, his grandchildren, his grand children’s grandchildren can live in luxury because of the late twentieth centuries’ wildly profitable cult of personality. But that’s not enough for Bob. He wants it now. All of it now. If he pooped in a dog park, it and a ball jar might fetch a few hundred bucks on eBay, provided there were photos of the act to authenticate. Heck, in these days of light speed funny-money, it’s a sure thing that a fresh Bob pile will beget at least a weekly paycheck to an unknown artist. Knowing this I think Bob will hoard a septic tank supply for his own pre-coffin coffers.
Bob Dylan. The great Midwestern welder. Miner and artist of iron ore. The working man’s working man. Having the butler tip the pool cleaners, and another London gallerist turns her nose up to the eager emerging artist. Unlike Bob, his crap is not golden. It’ll fetch literal shit on the market.

The First Person To Buy This Book Can Have My Ego

December-Cover

“December” 2015. 155 pages.

The cover was designed by a successful relative of mine. She used a photo of my cutting board. Looks very “Decemberish”, yes?

What is it not about?

Poetry, how-to, fantasy, horror, vampires, teen romance, murder mystery, lawyers acting like super heroes, Cinderella, suspense, dystopian future worlds, sports, cooking, health tips, nor pirates.

Think an elder Henry Miller with half the vocabulary.

 

My Teeth Overhear Their Fate From The Periodontist

Teeth!

Acrylic on canvas, 20 X 16

I guess teeth have ears. They should have brains enough to know I can’t afford to lose them. Boys, don’t worry. I will go for the deep cleaning, gargle with salt water 3X daily, and apply a paste of garlic and milk along my gum line. Yes I admit, I made a painting to remember you by, just in case my ship comes in.

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A week of painting without words, January 9-16, 2015

Now, about that ship…

I am looking for advice from other producers of original material. How do you convert your works to currency? I am in earnest. The Internet has not helped, neither has peddling colored canvases and books in my neighborhood. I have had many solo shows, lawn sales, Internet posts. Nothing. Nada times nothing. For instance, last year I published a book that even my—wait… Not true. My mother did buy it. But she was the only one.

It’s not like I overprice my work. $14 for a book is not exorbitant. Last night I paid that much for red curry. And it’s already gone. Geeze, I didn’t even like it enough to keep it. Couldn’t tell you if there was basil in it or not. And it’s not like I had to have the curry because it’s food, and need it to stay alive. A foraged apple would have sufficed. Or I could have refrained from dinner, saved gaining a half pound, and awoke this morning able to button my jeans.

I have theories about this starving artist dilemma. Many spring from the field of social psychology. Here is one:

None of us are any good until many of us say that some of us are.

Each failed writer or painter needs, more than talent, a promoter with Biblical outreach. If Beyoncé (accent on the e) wore the teeth image above to don her Super Bowl outfit, I would be rich and known richly by morning. Target would call for a wall hanging product line, and the New York Times would best seller me. If Oprah got caught reading less trite and inane crap, maybe some of you talented writers could afford rent as well as dinner, and miraculously the Media-CIA Industrial Complex would suffer sinking ratings of its perpetually popular “Let’s Dumb Down America”.

All fine literature, music, and art is relegated to obscurity if not considered salable by a connected media entity. Here is a rejection from a book publisher I received a couple weeks ago, followed by a quote from Henry Miller who wrote meaningful desk chair philosophy at a time when art was the artist, and not bullhorn announcements from highrise promoters about the “state of the art money”.

You do seem passionate and, as you wrote, “determined,” so I’m sure this won’t stop you at all from continuing your search for a publisher. I would like to suggest you consider self-publishing this manuscript. Just from reading the first sample parts you sent me I can tell you it’s going to be a very difficult sell to any indie press. Forget about even going to the majors via a literary agent. It occupies too much headspace, in my opinion, and while that’s not a bad thing at all for some readers who enjoy that sort of thing, commercially this would be extremely difficult to convince anyone to spend any money on reading your words. Even if you have some clout due to your painting, it is pretty thick stuff to get into and stay into. I don’t mean this to sound mean at all. I just feel that this is the kind of book that may have a life as a self-published work. Save yourself the time and trouble of querying anyone else and publish it yourself, then I would suggest perhaps focus more on the marketing end of the book rather than getting one of us snobby publishers to approve it lol. I hope you’ll agree.

A nice, honest rejection. I agree with him. I prefer to self-publish. But to make me a marketer of my own work is like asking a corn farmer to peddle boil-in-a-bag on the street corner. Doomed to failure before the manure is spread.

My reply:

Thank you for a fast response and helpful criticism. Self publishing is the right way to go. Whitman peddled “Leaves of Grass” door-to-door, and look where that got him! No one then (or today) would publish Whitman’s work to make a living. For me, it has become some personal badge of honor to be an unread writer. Like threshing wheat over a storm water grate. Very nothing, and yet some thing very good too.
Just doesn’t pay the bills.

 

Here is Henry Miller:

Most of the young men of talent whom I have met in this country give one the impression of being somewhat demented. Why shouldn’t they?  They are living amidst spiritual gorillas, living with food and drink maniacs, success mongers, gadget innovators, publicity hounds. God, if I were a young man today, if I were faced with a world such as we have created, I would blow my brains out. Or, perhaps like Socrates, I would walk into the market place and spill my seed on the ground. I would certainly never think to write a book or paint a picture or compose a piece of music. For whom? Who beside a handful of desperate souls can recognize a work of art? What can you do with yourself if your life is dedicated to beauty? Do you want to face the prospect of spending the rest of your life in a straight-jacket?

I suggest all writers to read Miller, as Miller wanted to be read. Read me first. He’d dead. And I could use an art-paid-for loaf of bread.

Here it is! The great book:

December-Cover

 

 

A Night Village My Canal Approves Of

A Village My Canal Approves Of

Acrylic on canvas, 20 X 16″

My beard is heavy and January is near full. This morning’s three hour study is of a village I’d consider to flow through if I was a canal. Five more years of this daily practice and I will stake claim to my first honest stroke—hopefully not the lack-of-oxygen-to-the-brain kind of stroke. Those are always very honest. Like Dickinson wrote and put in a sad drawer,

I like a look of Agony,
Because I know it’s true—
Men do not sham Convulsion,
Nor simulate, a Throe—

But boy do they fake paint! At least, for now, I know that I do.

 

Three Hours Of Paint Practice To Burn Off Attachment

1:13:15

1/13/15 2015. Acrylic on canvas, 16 X 20″

The chair sat in a hut I built on the land we loved and sold so I could paint.

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I feel like a Mandan chief might have felt the morning after Lewis and Clark went west for avarice.

Heartbroken.

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Still, I practice and learn to paint.

No matter what the haint.