Month: March 2015

Dan Flies Before Taps


2015. Acrylic on canvas, 30 X 24″

My friend Dan is finishing his last winter here in exhaust-smear-on-snow state. I met him at a local art show in 2008. I was living in the country then. He came up to me, hand outstretched, in all his Texas friendly to say hello. I pulled my hand out of my winter coat and there was a maple tap in it. He asked me what the heck it was, and then after I told him, he did the big Texas thing that scares all trust out of us tight New Yorkers; he asked if he could come over to my place and watch me maple syrup. My wife was there. He kept looking at me, then her, waiting for an answer. It was the first time a stranger ever asked me to do anything, let alone invite himself over to my house to play. Oh, no doubt he just wanted to get closer to my wife, kill me later, and then marry her.

This painting is one of four I will complete for his going away party. They will be auctioned off to raise money for one of the most enthusiastic people ever to step foot into New York State.

Here is Dan from December:

Three days ago I was in A.C. Moore holding on tight to my 40% off coupon before the rows of studio canvases. Coveting. Coveting. I came very close to buying a 10-pack of 11 X 14’s. I have frames for that size a friend donated last year. I could spend just a little to keep me satisfied for a week or two.
No. Must hold out. Must turn around and leave. Will power. I made a pact with my wife back in December. No art supplies purchased until our daughter gets her dowry. We will make austerity pay. Paint on the roadside curb. Paint dead leaves. Paint rocks. Just no more investment until wedding bells ring.
I made it out of the store without a purchase. Not even a $.50 squeeze bottle of tropical blue craft paint, a color I can’t mix to, no matter how hard I try.
Success! Then depression, and emptying an old school desk full of nails and what-nots in the basement and bringing it up to the dining room. “Well, I guess I’ll just start painting the furniture.”
Paint supply depleting. Mixing with gesso. Low as a painter goes, and then…
My good friend Dan the professor stopping by last night to drop off leftover student paint and two painted canvases.
Yes, 11 X 14″.
Henry Miller wrote about the magic that happened to him in a super economy whenever his need molecules began choking the ether above and below. Big Sur and the Oranges of Hieronymus Bosch. It’s a great read for poor painters. Unfortunately, very few writers like Henry exist in the Internet age.
Thank you Dan for the creative boost. May you get to Big Sur one day. We will visit, bearing gifts of good olive oil and a bag of fresh parsley to season your humble stew.


2014 Country Wine Labels

Blackberry Srawberry Elderberry Dandelion

All four painted on discarded press-cleaning sheets, approximately 9 x 15″.

Although fracking is temporarily out in New York, there are still other states that are owned by lobbyists and lawyers. Sit back, hold out your glass, and I shall pour you one of my almost delicious country wines. Let us toast the nullification of corrupt human beings. Spring is almost here. The season of love. No time for sniffing methane.

Cheney Doing His Clean Air Act In Pretend Hell



2015. Acrylic on canvas, 108 x 52″

My last painting for ArtRage in April, with commentary:

“It’s easy enough to tell what is wrong
but that’s not what I want to hear all night long”
—Lou Reed from “New Sensations”

Okay. So Dick Cheney is going to hell. Granted, it’s a pretend hell, because real hell does not exist. One would think that if it did, a frack well or two would hit a devil head on the way down and cause a hot fracas.
Cheney knows there is no hell. There is the present moment. And in the present moment he has power and is rich, and in tomorrow’s present moment he will be even richer. Maybe rich wouldn’t be so bad if, by association, Dick Cheney had refrained from killing many people in undeclared and shadow warfare, or if his oil rig didn’t explode and dissolve eleven bodies in the ether, or if his nefarious manipulations of the Clean Air Act did not ensure a future sickness to many school children.
So I made this painting to show all and sundry the truth about justice in the secular world.

There is none. Ever. Period.

Yet I swear that people need to be reminded over and over this truism. Dick Cheney is not the problem. The people are. They are too nice, too forgiving, too live and let living. “Yeah, Cheney is bad, but don’t we all share those lower human qualities? Would not many of us act just like Dick if encountering the same situations along life’s road?”
Sure, if magically you became power and wealth in the present moment. But you never ever will. You think you might get some spoils, that your private, insignificant greed scam will pay off some day—maybe with a white Lincoln Continental for retirement. Perhaps a well lit Florida room in an affordable 55 and older community. You sold insurance at a ridiculous mark-up, but you didn’t kill anyone, so of course you have every right to cheat your neighbor. Shhhh. Live and let live. You stay silent of Dick Cheney’s transgressions hoping that oligarchy has set aside a chance for you too. Of course! Live and let live, even if one of the livers kills people indiscriminately. “Let God sort us out!”
This would be nice, but it isn’t this way at all. You and I have no mortal chance to mirror Dick Cheney. There just isn’t enough time in a life to develop his kind of misanthropy. To catch up, any adult would need a 72 hour day of taking advantage of others, while hating, and then killing some of them.
Well, could it be that Cheney lives the life of a tortured soul?
No. People with private planes do not have tortured souls. Maybe Jesus and Vincent van Gogh suffered an ever-present despair, but they often went hungry, and planes weren’t even invented in their time.
Hell is dead. But pretend hell is not. Living hell can only exist for those who are physically suffering, or have chemical imbalances that require chemicals prescribed for better balance.
So I made up this pretend hell for Cheney to perform his clean air act. Here the world is inundated by his own sneer. Hundreds of them, passing by constantly. I have Dick dress up in women’s clothing, paint his nails fluorescent rose, break a nail, and have a caldera erupt in his brain. I have made him appear as a Titan from my daughter’s manga series. He crushes a stuffed toy cat while squeezing a duck to death. There’s even a Bob with no hope painted in to tell a joke about pretend hell.
And it is a joke, because at any time, Cheney can exit out of the canvas, and holiday on his private beach. Every time we pay our federal tax, we kiss the ring finger of one of the worst human beings ever de-wombed from a mother. The joke is us. The joke is justice. A man has manipulated the law called the “Clean Air Act”, and we act like there is nothing to be done about it. We are not the people who seek a more perfect union. We are fools and cowards. We wait for bad men to do good things.
So, what is our energy future to be, even if we continue to allow the trespass of these dirty rotten scoundrels like Dick “the killer” Cheney?
If not fracking, then what? How do we achieve energy independence? And by independent, I mean local, or individual at best like your 4x great grandparents. They had wood, and then coal, and that was sufficient until the industrialists felt the greed need to mass produce shoes and then Happy Meal toys. Can the 21st century man live like mid-19th century man? I guess it doesn’t matter, and there lies the problem… Today the people of western nations do not understand the seasons of survival. Their descendants will. It’s going to get hot for all, including the top level consumers of tomorrow.
I don’t know the answers about clean energy nor all the right questions to ask about the dirty stuff. I do know that the food and plastic waste at my new job cooking for the unappreciative elderly is a carbon footprint dense enough to press a hole six feet deep with each step toward extinction. And I thought I was a humble man! Should I mention the small crime I committed by taking the job in order to support my out-of-control acrylic painting habit? Humble, ha! I am a rotten neighbor stopped at the light, alone in my automobile, thinking about the next thing I shall acquire for me, whether it’s concrete dioxine purple, or abstract holiday happiness, all illusions are locked onto the same vanity wheel, turning round and around.
A start is to stop and transport our minds five centuries into the past. Muse on the impossibility of global warming before China employed armies to build plastic toys for our dumbed-down sugar kids. Remember natural localism, the butcher and the baker, the thatch hut maker, harvest and holiday, and one hundred meaningful seasons in a year. The past will have to become the future if we want to sustain our humanity numbers and also grow grain to grind. The science devotees imagine they are alone in a warm room dreaming big while a magical god supplies them with all that neat stuff—lithium, titanium, steel, petroleum, millions of square meters of electro-goody-goodies—to one day colonize a comet and eat each other.
We can have the past right now with concentrated effort to supply good medicine (already invented) to all. To end nationalism and globalism overnight. To reinstate a very neighborly capitalism with the caveat “each family an acre to till and a central pasture outside the bastide”.
The first man to weasel two acres gets burned at the stake.
Still, Neil Young wants you and I to boycott Starbucks for its collusion with Monsanto while he rushes off in a jet airplane to his concert in Reykjavík. If Neil Young can’t be wise by now, I believe our only environmental salvation is a quick and easy nuclear winter to start up where Hieronymus Bosch left off, but replete with storehouses full of seeds, knowledge, antibiotics and well-trained Cuban doctors who get paid just a few hundred more pesos a week than a garbage collector.

Calisthenics for Tomorrow

Now that progeny is quaint
and financial schemes the wise
Threshing is the future exercise

ARTICLE: Tracey Emin, 1984, and the Cult of Celebrity

I Lung For Pennsylvania


2015. Acrylic on canvas, 20 X 16″

As the calls to frack intensify worldwide, I feel hoodwinked to a posture of silly for entitling this exhibition Capillary Reaction: Hyrdofracking and Irrevocable Loss. I remember my wife and I sitting in the brown window chairs brainstorming an idea the morning after the ArtRage gallery director asked me to come up with a title to the show. Sure, it’s a good one to teach a lesson about toxicity and parts per million, how just a little chemical goes a long way in a glass of ice water. It is good to know about the half-lives of radioactive elements—20,000 years is a long time to be a carcinogen. I think everyone gets the science. Documentary’s like Gasland and Gasland II provide a basic scientific overview of “what if?” And no sane person will lie to another with the claim, “benzene is harmless, here let me drink a gallon straight to prove it”. We are told that the industry is not mandated to list the chemicals used in the process, but some are known. For instance, toluene. No one debates its use in hydrofracking. Here is what science says about it (from EPA chemfact sheet 1994):

Repeatedly breathing large amounts of toluene, such as when “sniffing” glue or paint, can cause permanent brain damage. As a result, humans can develop problems with speech, hearing, and vision. Humans can also experience loss of muscle control, loss of memory, and decreased mental ability. Exposure to toluene can also adversely affect the kidneys. Laboratory animal studies and, in some cases, human exposure studies show that repeat exposure to large amounts of toluene during pregnancy can adversely affect the developing fetus. Other studies show that repeat exposure to large amounts of toluene adversely affects the nervous system, the kidneys, and the liver of animals.

In Gasland II we also learn a little bit about civil engineering. A typical frack well is encased for protection by an inch of cement, and if groundwater is never to be compromised, this wittle-bitty cement lining cannot crack until the end of time. Capillary Reaction: Hydrofracking and Irrevocable Loss point made. End of debate. End of story. Well is broke, chemicals leak into water supply, ecological disaster creeps up all over the country. We get it. Capillaries—streams, tributaries, rivers, the sea! A moral to the science story: Hydrofracking is bad for your health. So are nuclear weapons. Everyone knew radioactive fallout was bad, but Eisenhower and Kennedy still went ahead with thermonuclear detonation celebrations in the atmosphere. Why did my parents and grandparents duck under their desks and beds like frightened puppies? What made them cower for something that need not have been inevitable?
For an answer, I shall rename the title to the exhibition. I should have sent this one instead, but at the time I didn’t fully develop my artistic hypothesis. Basically I intend to prove that the people in power, real power, do not work for the common welfare. They represent the darker side in the duality of human nature. They are bad men and women.
Here’s the new title:

Pigs at the Trough: Hydrofracking and the Greed Mash That Squeals Cash

Positions of power held in the U.S. are heavily lopsided towards attracting bad people. A good one or two can sneak in, but most are bad, driven by low human qualities, such as avarice, greed, pride, etc… We all know someone close who is admired by others in our families or communities for being, calm, rational, kind, and selfless to a degree that he or she would make a very good leader. But for some reason, these people never end up in politics. Why is that? Well, for starters… They are humble, just, and seeking a life of fulfillment which might include a little bit of wisdom building along the way. They shun politics. It is bad for their humanity.
The potential harmful effects of Hydrofracking are not a subject for debate no more than the potential harm an asteroid the size of Guam would cause to denizens of the earth after impact.
Okay. So the low among us, with the help of a very lazy, profit driven media, steer the debate away from reality. Politicians from fracking states will say “Aw, what a bunch of killjob scientists. Anyway, it’s just not true!” They will tell the lie because they are bribe-sniffing, dirty rotten human beings of the lowest order. And the media houses like Fox TV and MSNBC will repeat the lie because they are owned by bribe-sniffing, dirty rotten human beings of the lowest order. Do not for an instant think that New York State is free of dirty rotten human beings of the lowest order. Our two senators, just by virtue of their senatorostorship alone, as prerequisite to this high job in a federal oligarchy, sold out to the highest bidder long ago. Both Schumer and Gillibrand side with the winners. Katko actually used hydrofracking to campaign with the repeated lie, “It’ll bring jobs and it’s safe”. Fox did the leg work. People who think they are conservative, but are really just effective televisions watchers, heard of the “debate”, did not get information about potential rise in leukemia rates, and voted in the majority for a bribe-sniffing, dirty rotten human being of the lowest order. But no worries, Maffei was and is one too. No different at our state level. Cuomo need not care what the voter thinks because no one votes philosophically anymore. New York votes party, and both parties are overrun by bribe-sniffing, dirty rotten human beings of the lowest order. In a perfect vacuum, when asked about the environment, there is not one adult alive besides psychopath, who would deny the hope of the cleanest air, water and soil for their children and children’s children. However, the debate gets spun, the words “jobs” and “economy” pop up over and over in rapid media succession, and the great debate on human health is manufactured and maintained by the quintessence of avarice in the flesh—our “representatives”. At the last gubernatorial election, who in the two-party system debated clean air? Clean water? Healthy soil? Was there just one informational meeting on how best to steward the environment? Yet all constituents care about their air. All voters want good health.
Dear reader, know thy pigs at the trough. The only participation one should have with a high elected leader today, is shame heckling.
I Lung For Pennsylvania is my Milton Glaser design for promoting Keystone state anti-tourism in the future. It should remind everyone to stay the hell away from all Pennsylvania has to offer. Also, know this my fellow New Yorkers. As long as you keep voting for criminals, you will get exactly what you deserve. Your next corporate governor will sell your state to the highest bidder. Count on it.