Month: February 2015

Particularly Nice Weather, Tar and Tickle Texas Feather

Texas

2014. Acrylic on canvas, 26 X 34″

Part of my literature for the upcoming spring show:

While at the periodontist yesterday I read a recent interview with Bob Dylan in AARP magazine. Rotting gums, Bob Dylan, and a bland publication representing a powerful lobby of 35 million members. Not much excitement to look forward to after 50, if I decide to tow the line with this lifestyle. Anyway, Dylan remarked that he is no longer passionate, that that’s a young man’s game. The elders should seek wisdom, or at least shut-up and fake it with boring silence. Yet in the same interview he admitted that perhaps there isn’t a generational difference between the minds of old and young after all. Maybe grandpa can relate to all things granddaughter and vice-versa. Then he told the interviewer that he doesn’t worry if his records sell or not. His business people take care of that.

Here is a point in time where both wisdom and passion can collaborate, if one chooses to act, whether she be fifteen or fifty-five. First the facts up front. Bob Dylan is a multimillionaire who has a business team of professionals working for him night and day. The AARP is a multimillion dollar lobby putting all American people over 50 in a blender and aging them together on high puree. A periodonist is expensive but worth the investment if you still long for a kiss at midnight, but hope to avoid your lover’s tongue prying off your lower partial.

Period.

Now I will spend a moment in my imagination, and work through the institutional obfuscations that plague all innocent ninety-nine percenters of the earth, and leave them daily worried, bewildered, and confused. The media has never been so practically omnipotent wielding its power to keep minds, and what are supposed to be wiser minds (those over 50 at the periodontist), at rest, in a kind of living death-rest way. I read what Bob Dylan has to say, and suddenly feel, that yeah, maybe he’s right. I shouldn’t be passionate anymore. I should just grow old, find drugs to decrease my joint pain, and shut up. Even if I arrived to the periodonist singing along and imagination dancing to what Jagger and Richards thought passionate back in 1974, I must come to terms with my old age eventually, give up all firecracker electricity in my veins, get out of the car, check my belt, adjust my glasses, and enter one of the many waiting rooms of my future. No spark. No passion. Just quiet wisdom. And look! The new issue of AARP. Advertisements, pop culture, television, an interesting hobby, travel, gum disease, tooth extraction, and then death. Many studies have proven that the dispassionate actually choose what type of deodorant to buy. The dispassionate want quick weeknight meals, packages to tropical island getaways, historical vignettes, and even an interview with an elder, creative millionaire who, at present, is pretending to be a 1940’s lounge crooner.

Sometimes my mind can work through these persistent media distortions. I actually agreed with Bob Dylan, until I got back into my car, turned on the CD, and listened to his 1981 non-smash hit, “The Property of Jesus”. The gears began turning. I thought about my upcoming painting exhibition on hydrofracking, an adulthood of going my own way (always against the AARP grain), and strangely enough, my lifelong friend Pat and an expression he’d often share with me. (I’ll get to that in a moment.)

I want to quote Dylan’s lyrics in full, minus the repetition of the refrain:

Go ahead and talk about him because he makes you doubt
Because he has denied himself the things that you can’t live without
Laugh at him behind his back just like the others do
Remind him of what he used to be when he comes walkin’ through

He’s the property of Jesus
Resent him to the bone
You got something better
You’ve got a heart of stone

Stop your conversation when he passes on the street
Hope he falls upon himself, oh, won’t that be sweet
Because he can’t be exploited by superstition anymore
Because he can’t be bribed or bought by the things that you adore

When the whip that’s keeping you in line doesn’t make him jump
Say he’s hard-of-hearin’, say that he’s a chump
Say he’s out of step with reality as you try to test his nerve
Because he doesn’t pay no tribute to the king that you serve

Say that he’s a loser ’cause he got no common sense
Because he don’t increase his worth at someone else’s expense
Because he’s not afraid of trying, say he’s got no style
’Cause he doesn’t tell you jokes or fairy tales, say things to make you smile

You can laugh at salvation, you can play Olympic games
You think that when you rest at last you’ll go back from where you came
But you’ve picked up quite a story and you’ve changed since the womb
What happened to the real you, you’ve been captured but by whom?

Boy, I know that feeling Dylan had and evoked with this song, and it’s not just for the Born Again Christians, of which I am not one at present. It is radical, for humans anyway, in the sense that it is deeply rooted in our DNA and impossible to kill. It is the essence of individuality expressed as righteousness unto the clan. Society needs more individuality, not less. But not the kind that promotes itself, rather one that nurtures love of life, and right environment for all to share. Very difficult to love life from a cesspool. I believe that every healthy mind feels this way, that is, morally, upon waking up in the morning. At least one begins so each day before the virtual onslaught of media mores, which sadly have become the norm in gaging how society behaves in public. That is, wholly dispassionate, quiet, careful, without opinion expressed outside of the everyday fact that “I am human”, just as any streamlined institution says what it is depending on the product to be sold or the idea being disseminated; “I am fruit cocktail”, or “Liberals are communists”, or “I am Bob Dylan the wise old man who could afford a private nose-picker if desired”. Those lyrics express what it truly means to be human among humans… Passionate for the betterment of all. And I don’t see any age requirement. As a Christian holding tightly to morality, Born Again Bob wasn’t feeling ostracized because he rode around in private planes, but he sure as hell should feel that way now.

Okay, back to my friend Pat, and what he said to the opposite sex a few times when we were fourteen. He would walk up to a girl he knew, she might be opening her locker or sitting on the bleachers at a football game, and he would whisper by her ear, “Tickle your ass with a feather?”

The girl would exclaim, “What did you say?”

To which Pat immediately followed with, “Particularly nice weather?”

This memory pops into my head from time to time. I can’t help it, the brain is a mysterious recollector. Anyway, I come home from the periodontist, all jacked up with angst and gum pain, and I start painting while day dreaming of what I really want to do to the gas men, which is, tar and feather them. Unfortunately, it’s already late in the day. I have been AARP’d and orally violated to the point of my drool bib getting Pollocked all bloody, so my age begins to show by nightfall, and although I want the corporitos publically humiliated and dragged through the streets, I remember my media training in dispassion, and write instead,

Particularly Nice Weather, Tar and Tickle Texas Feather

It’s the safer way to keep eyes affixed to the painting. Even though it will hang at a gallery called “ArtRage”, I am reminded by Bob Dylan and the AARP that it is foolhardy to make passionate expression at late middle age. Even if I have nothing to lose! Opinions are always suspected. Negative ones can place you in the order of fanatics. Once Bob Dylan expressed his belief in Jesus, he immediately became a fanatic to the cultured, dispassionate public. If I tell (or yell) my fracking woes too loudly, I will be deemed environmental fanatic. No one ever calls the gas lobbyist fanatical, maybe because he wears a suit and has a manicure, but what is he if not Mr. Fanatic himself, spending a life’s profession pushing for just one platform? Even I, as painter, will go on to the next subject after ArtRage. We, as dispassionate Americans, allow this trespass on our families, without a fight. It is polite. Shhh. Quiet. It is best to pretend wisdom like Bob Dylan getting old.

After leaving the periodontist and coming home to paint, which is my passion, I realize now, more than yesterday, that AARP Magazine will never show on its cover the face of a sick child affected by water and air pollution produced by hydrofracking. They will continue to feature dispassionate people like Bob Dylan in his cool new hat. He won’t mention hydrofracking either—his business people frown on political opinions generated by old millionaires. It upsets the purchasing climate. AARP would sell less Toyotas and prescription medications, and Bob Dylan would pass away wondering why nobody cared that he dreamed he was the idol of the bobby soxers.

I need to work on my passion. Not only is it the voice of wisdom, but it’s all I have internally after a life lived loving Bob Dylan songs . When fifty, I’d rather be the property of a defunct Jesus, than belonging to the old age club that credentials anyone, even a pimp or pedophile, simply because they have hit a time marker. I think tortoises and elephants can get in too, as long as they reached a ripe old age in captivity.

 

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No Thing Like Kid Leukemia To Kill A Kickin’ Beer Buzz, Eh Rural Roy?

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Acrylic on paper, 17 X 25″

More often than not, I don’t think people do the right thing for their children, nieces, nephews, second cousins, etc. We like to think that we do, but no, not really. For instance, every time we let a child into a car, and forgo the crash helmet, we have given up the right to proclaim we always have their best safety in mind. It’s easy to pretend that Johnny and Sue look cool and comfortable in a carpeted projectile set at a cruising speed of 70 mph, among a hundred other luxury projectiles. However, the science is clear. A kid with a crash helmet on will survive more accidents than one without. Likewise, just making a concerted effort to avoid unnecessary trips to the mall, or doctor who, because insurance companies told her to, refuses to come to your child’s bedside when the latter is exhausted with double pneumonia. Similarly, car manufacturers could be mandated to fit all automobiles with steel roll cages. 77% less fatalities on the road coupled with helmet wearing required by law. We could have the safest highways on earth by next year with laws passed for the betterment of society and not the institutional sleazy squeeze off overhead to make a profit.

This is how I often see the good and bad of the world—through the eyes of an omnipotent care provider. I wish I had the ultimate safety control over earth’s children. Who wouldn’t? War would end. Nuclear weapons would be dismantled and stuffed back up the crack of any nation’s nincompoop stronghold that ever thought having them was a bright idea. Pharmaceutical companies would no longer need the lure of Croesus profit to discover helpful medicines; men and women of science would have the highest honor among populations, and not need to be told by a greedy death administrator where to focus their attention. The successes of agronomists would be awarded at ceremonies broadcast prime time. For Christ’s sake, they fed the world didn’t they? Beats having a private sex change on TV. NASA would be stripped of all its Luke Skywalker Star Wars machines, and fitted with new admirable words to replace the most wasteful acronym in the history of mankind. National Altruistic Scientists Association, or something like that, and the moon remains a lit up dead thing to look at in the night sky. Finally, I would give companies like Exxon-Mobil and Range Resources thirty days to discover and implement renewable alternative energy makers under the threat of cutting each member of their board of directors (and all their unhelmeted limo drivers) in half.

Ho hum. Just wistful dreaming.

The girl in the painting is green from vanadium splashes as she dances through the sprinkler atop the Marcellus Shale on a hot summer day. Her Dad sold Range Resources the right to douse her with carcinogens, because he was told by a qualified spokesperson with no scientific research skills that fracking was safe, don’t worry, here’s a hundred grand. Dad was glad. Paid off the mortgage and the truck. The money got spent, and most unfortunately, his daughter’s natural bone development too.

All that fast money joy, and now this downer? Buzz kill! Oh well, nothing he can do about it now except move.

“Leave the damn helmet in the yard Suzy! Get in the car. We gots to go”

Being a Small Fish in a Small Pond Would Be Okay If I Could Chase After a Shark Once In a While

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2015. Acrylic on canvas, 20 X 16″

I think I shall take the gloves off now and wrap my hands in writhing snakes. I cannot get a gallery to interview me with portfolio, let alone write back a rejection of any kind. My wife says we should dig a tunnel through the snow out to the street and set a “painting of the day” between two luminaries. A sign reads, “Drop a coin into the box if you’d like to see another tomorrow”. Maybe the mailman will toss in a dime. Who knows?

This painting illustrates what the director of Any Gallery in New York City can think about after reading my query. “He is a nobody. He hasn’t $2000.00/month for a studio with smudged windows and lingering smells of rat pee. Small fish, small pond.”

Oh well, I paint in the cellar. I paint in the kitchen. I dream about taking a car to a southern beach and painting pelicans. I understand I do not make beauty; there are millions upon millions of more glorious talents respiring today. But I do make. I do create. At times the great spirit is seated inside me nodding of success that has already come. The children are wise in a weary world. The wife still keeps a little wonder left for me. And my fortunate good health frees my mind to feeling like the eager child on a new morning.

Other times I am a realist of the human world, a fool and a failure, who thinks he needs some phony wannabe in the big city to authenticate his genius. Even at this low I realize it can never work. Our lives could not be more unknown to each other if he was a calamari and I a Gila monster. The human world wants to breed like mad constant competition. On bad days it woos me. On good days I paint and care for a family.

Thinking out loud can be messy. But at least I am thinking. Good morning world. Happy Valentine’s Day.

No Time To Think by Bob Dylan

Okay, by popular demand, a Valentine poem:

The Last of the Beautiful Faithful Women

If the end is aloneness anyway
Then really all I gots left to do
Is allot my last twenty bucks
To the cause of beer chicken
And Hungarian Wine in the tub
All because it’s cheap
And still more lovely
Than me.

I will do the same with my next twenty bucks
And the next and the next bit o’ cash I find
All because the penniless
Have a stronger appreciation
For tongues.

It’s not a matter of money
When we’re rich beyond our tamest dreams
I’ll hand over the twenty bucks gladly
With the promise to my tongue
The rights to your underarm always.

All the money matters
Is to get me from there to you
And always in the nick of time.

Only because the faithful
Have a stronger thirst for living
Do we lie together cheaply
Quenched in each other’s arms.

Institutional Cognitive Dissonance Would Have Made the Star-Nosed Mole See Hell

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“Think About It” 2015. Acrylic on canvas, 36 X 36″

This week’s painting punishes National Public Radio for its collusion with the natural gas industry during the latter’s propaganda campaign to bring hydrofracking to New York. These lobbyists and media who work overtime coming up with schemes meant to normalize a debate that was never a debate in the first place, are very bad men of avarice. Shame on them, but first… Mandatory vasectomies. Anyone who cannot dream imaginary scenarios, both good and bad, for an unborn grandchild, should not be allowed to replicate genes.

I have no great vision for the future of energy acquisition. My best hope is that it gets warm enough everywhere to live like Hopi before European contact, possessing antibiotics and a golden rule cherished with a religious fervor. We must be able to keep the trees and stay very careful of one another.

 

Washington D.C. Maker’s Mark Musings

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“Library of Congress Card Catalog Number? No!” 2015. Acrylic on canvas, 20 X 16″

Last week my friend Eric and I took a road trip to the mouth of the Patuxent River in Maryland. He got his work accepted into a national show and I offered to be his assistant for delivery and set up. Great time. Glad he had me along. We stopped in D.C. to take in the sites for the day. Eric went his way and I went mine. From the Library of Congress I walked the National Mall, took a right at the Lincoln Memorial, and crossed several alphabet streets before taking a left at M Street into Georgetown. I went into an old man bar on Wisconsin Ave. and ordered a double Maker’s Mark on ice while the veins in my feet pulsated pain. The bartender gave me a heavy pour and I slipped into a highly relaxed, booze-induced, arrogant state of mind recounting the thoughts I had along my Capital walk. I thought I had it all figured out. The facade broke. The wizard in the hall. “Don’t pay any attention to the man behind the curtain!” At first blush, it all seemed so attainable. The Smithsonian with its startling array of art and artifact, and every house of government open and inviting to all and sundry. Beyond the entryways, and the four or five security guards running the metal detectors, palatial grandeur graciously shared among all who would bother to come. Once the sites were taken in, however, the old Ron sensory cynicism creeped up the brain stem to assess. Or was it the 90 proof whiskey?

A closer look would discover the smoke and mirrors.

I should have just finished the drink, met up with my friend for dinner, and got out of town joyful after an inspirational tour of our national city. Instead, I talked to myself in the head, remembering the high volume of metrosexuals dressed in three-quarter length black coats, dark scarves, black shoes, and impeccably manicured heads, walking to and from what had to be the most important meetings ever scheduled on planet earth. I linked their public personas to possessing one of three highly paid professions: lawyer, lobbyist, or lacky, busy working their avarice for private gain. To me, each could not have appeared more silly, more pathetic, and as a class, amounting to no higher state of nirvana than eager gophers to “Hey Spiking” the old men of the White League (aka: the three branches of government). Silly and yet incredibly dangerous. Their comings and goings were what tipped me off, always on another side of the road, looking straight ahead, paying no attention to the rubber necking all around them. Ah-ha! My friend and I were not welcome. Beyond day-tripping, this was never to be our city. The planes flying overhead, the military chopper circling the Smithsonian, the hundreds of police and guards on patrol—were there to bolster the facade and promote the grand illusion; that is, to make the Americans visiting the Capital believe they are a special people, that this land is their land, and the politicians elected to work in these ornate palaces are here working for the overall good of the nation. I have always thought this a fantasy, held up by a shoestring of economical good fortune. Just outside the the federal government compound, in D.C. proper, there were 105 homicides last year. I brought up a graphic to see where all the violence was happening. The exact path I took to Georgetown was untouched by violent death the whole year. That means, the lives in the government district were protected, and all the people on the outside left to fend for themselves. Sounds like any good dystopian novel plot. All that national money to protect the metrosexuals and their masters, and to Hell with Americans you and me.

So when the President talks to us “folks” on any Super Bowl Sunday, I now believe (as I once suspected), that he is addressing Mr. and Mrs. Peon, or Ron the painter, or the average Joe family on holiday in D.C. He’s telling us in plain doublespeak to have a nice time visiting his city, and then get the Hell out, back to the routine monotony that fuels the power we will never understand, at least by the machinations of what is provided to us gratis on a sight-seeing trip to America’s free capital city.

Anyway I had a good time with Eric for the rest of the evening. The booze wore off. We dined on Ethiopian cuisine. And I paid no more attention to the made up stories that I cannot translate into sense, no matter how hard I try. I titled the picture above, copying word for word what I write on the title pages of all my books. The library had a nice exhibition on Civil Rights though, as if it were a time and happening of the past. Over now, and let’s carry on with the greatness of our nation. Just pay no attention to the man behind the curtain! Next door there was a Supreme Court. It too probably thinks without irony that it helped people of color achieve their ends. Dred Scott sat beneath the thirty foot ceiling waiting for great wise men to tell him that he was property after all. Even after the invention and wide-scale use of the railroad! And a hundred years later mobs lynched men, but only because they could get away with it. 105 murders in Washington D.C. All that money, and who does it really protect? DSC07364