Month: May 2015

Dan Sails Lake Travahalla On Two-Post Saturday


2015. Acrylic on canvas, 24 x 36″

Still applying paint to mostly two-dimensional surface to stimulate money-giving at my friend Dan’s going-away party. If any reader is interested, I can offer a reserve bid discount of one gallon of mid-Atlantic state gasoline. Most likely Pennsylvania. The van will be stuffed out the windows with just a tiny fraction of Dan’s stuff accumulations to weigh down mileage significantly. Each painting at the party will have a similar reserve bid. A fast food stop, an overnight stay at a state park, a souvenir for his boy, etc.

Here is Dan in an ambiguous posture floating on Lake Travis outside Austin, Texas. Is he a viking being sent off to paradise, or a prodigal Texan seeking work?

For those living in Texas, and who have picked the latter, please consider hiring Dan. He has a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree, over twelve years experience teaching, and a voracious enthusiasm that is magnified to wild enthusiasm whenever money is a potential outcome in a venture. He is personable, sober, thoughtful, empathetic,and presently unemployed. The pick of up to ten paintings for the reader who can offer Dan a steady job in the greater Dallas or Austin metropolitan area.


Dan, Beware Waco, Where the Biker Gangs Might Make You Play Candy Crush On a Smartphone


2015. Acrylic on Masonite®, 20 x 13″

Dan is off to Texas in a month. I want to warn him of the dangers of people texting and phone stroking at the same time while riding a bike.

Last month’s shootout was bad news. I saw photos coming over the wire. Bikers were rounded up and made to sit down along the curbs of the mall parking lot. One photo showed an arrested man with a trimmed beard looking at his smartphone. A hipster Harley dude packing iPhone heat, who might inspire fear sparks in any small town or city if he didn’t look so darn silly with that phone. And you just know he has a bells and whistles Harley payment on top of his Verizon contract. Probably pays his mortgage and utilities on time and frets over extra money for fuel and food.

Groupthink feeds on the stuff of Harleys and holocausts. Once, maybe a century and a half ago, America was a land of individuals. If an economy had room, a man could live a whole life without the adult urge to sew Chinese printed decals onto a jean jacket made in Paraguay. Even further back, a Boston Massacre was a good story for an upcoming national revolution. Five people were killed for throwing snowballs. Today, 200 narcissists with trimmed beards cannot refrain from acting out their “me, me, me!” fantasies in a rumble at the mall without killing each other. We are a nation far, far removed from our own recent past. These poor chumpy fellows have been raised without any idea to what an individual is. Now they are arrested for life because each one made a snap judgement to follow the lead of the degenerate standing beside him. An excellent case study for sociologists. There could be room for empathy from locals in the town and county who see and, most unfortunately, hear them ride about in their silly-willy gang uniforms, but they’re an ignorant, dangerous band of rowdies, and a barrier for my friend the individual, the man, Dan, who meets his life and does not call it names. I don’t like groups. They make biker gangs and Pentagons. Even those that swear they live by the good, say a church group, raising money to “save” a village in Guatemala. Good or bad, too much time is spent pining for initiation into the group, rather than applying my grandmother’s long time common sense proverb, “charity begins at home,” in every day encounters with adversity. Suddenly, after years of raising Billy to be a good Christian, he’s out shooting sticks or stones at any one who calls him names. Or any one whom his boss said called him a name. Or any one who has not been “named” in the group.

Just be super careful in Texas Dan. I hear everything there is big. Especially their big fiefdoms of silly-dangerous.

Paint Henry Miller, Write?









After Kokopelli Goes, The Pox Bird Slams the Dream Door Shut on My Town 2015. Acrylic on Masonite®, 13 x 20″

Henry Miller getting to know me before I was born:

We write, knowing we are licked before we start. Every day we beg for fresh torment. The more we itch and scratch the better we feel. And when our readers also begin to itch and scratch we feel sublime. Let no one die of inanition! The airs must ever swarm with arrows of thought delivered by les hommes de lettres. Letters, mind you. How well put! Letters strung together with invisible wires charged with imponderable magnetic currents. All this travail forced upon a brain that was intended to work like a charm, to work without working. Is it a person coming towards you or a mind? A mind divided into books, pages, sentences replete with commas, periods, semi-colons, dashes and asterisks. One author receives a prize or seat in the Academy for his efforts, another a worm-eaten bone. The names of some are lent to streets and boulevards, of others to gallows and alms houses. And when all these “creations” have been finally read and digested men will still be buggering one another. No author, not even the greatest, has been able to get round that hard, cold fact.


I Have More Paintings Than Guests For Dan’s Going-Away Party


All three 2015, 20 x 13″, or flipped.

Late Late Late Apples Late Late

Dan Make Existentialism Fun

A Slow, Hot Wind, or Dan Loves Brasilian Sounds



I am also re-editing my first book for publication, Face of A Very Strange Man— a book of autobiographical vignettes, very memorable to me, and probably not so entertaining to the reading public. Here is a sample, for I believe that painting is never enough to express a Thursday morning by:

The Tone of Illusion

The tone of illusion. Last night Scott had a hole in his head. He sat in his big chair in the dark weeping for his sins. I woke up and turned on the light to ask if he had a tone ringing in his head. “What do you mean,” he laughed, “Do you have one?” “No,” I said, “Not right now, and believe me, I am lucky for it! I’d have my teeth in the wall if I did. Lucky for me, but what about you? What’s wrong Scotty?”
The concept of the perpetual tone came from Larry last Thursday night. I guess that it actually hit him for a few seconds, and then he said, “Wow, I feel pretty fortunate you know. I have no right to ever be sad. Life must really suck for he who has the tone. Why don’t you write a story about that Ron? ‘The Man Who Had A Tone,’ or something like that?”
Yes. Only my man would rise above it and in the end, drown the sorrowful ring with a song of his own joy. I never appreciated the “grass of a greener shade” tales. For centuries they have been told, and for centuries no one has given a damn. It’s as if men prefer their grass to be a dried brown and yellow. Just to look across the way where the rain is steady, and the grass grows an Irish green, is a miserable affair. Who wants to be reminded that his life is not worth living? That yesterday was tears and tomorrow despair? Well, I am here to tell you, hopefully for the last time, that there is no sorrow except for the man who has the perpetual tone ringing between his ears.
I thought I was that man last night. A little bell, hung low in the most remote tunnel of my heart, (the invisible, untouchable heart— not the biological machine), had a tear drop onto it, and a tone was born. From a lost world inside of me came the initial ring. It reverberated throughout every capillary of my being until finally bursting into the aorta and given a name by my ears. The song of sorrow.
Rachelle turned five today. Mary dropped her off at my step, then she turned and walked away without saying a word. Suddenly, something very strange happened. One of my tears dropped in reverse. Not down my cheek, but down my throat. I swallowed it like a good father’s son and forgot all about it until my ears were ringing so loudly that I could not bear to hear my own voice. I read a whole story to Rachelle without understanding a word of it. Afterwards I tried to get her to talk, but the tone in my head carried me further and further away from the vibrations of her voice. It was so powerful, so persistent, that whenever I spoke, its sound carried over my words. If I remained silent, the tone continued in a low hum which kept me alert and conscious of it constantly.
I was thinking, The Tell-Tale Heart. Yes! The old man’s beating heart drove his killer wild. The world revolved around the old man’s eye, that sickening stare! I felt dangerous. There I was, standing in the kitchen stirring onions in a pot, the hissing of the hot oil and onions, Rachelle’s voice, my voice, the ferret scratching at his cage, the gurgle in the fish tank… All of this noise, this racket, could not drown out that simple tone viciously dinning in my ears: The song of overwhelming sadness and sorrow.
It wasn’t so loud, but it was louder. Always some decibel higher than the loudest sound. I thought, “My God, I am that man with the tone ringing in his ears!”
Then Rachelle asked me, “Daddy, can we play lions? You can be the daddy and I’ll be the baby.”
“Okay darling. First let me crush the tomatoes into our soup.”
Moments later we were on the floor chasing jackrabbits. When I got shot in the leg, I realized the tone had disappeared. I hobbled around on three legs groaning and begging my lion cub to run away so that the hunter could not shoot her too. But she wouldn’t hear of abandoning her father. She bit through the skin on my back, pulled me over behind a rock and lay me down in a clump of African grass. The bright orange sun fell and the stars came out of hiding. The hunter went home so I sent my cub away to find some giraffe oil. When she returned, I had her pull the bullet out with her teeth and rub the oil over my wound. Soon we were out on the Serengeti once again, playfully chasing rabbits and eating gazelles.
I got up from play to throw some more herbs into the soup. Then we walked to the diner for Rachelle’s birthday dinner. Omelets and raisin toast. The rain was pouring down. Rachelle wore my hat. I had to carry her because she was a puppy dog and terribly frightened of crossing the street.
We took off our wet things and hung them on hooks beside our booth. I was thinking again about Larry’s tone, the one that came and went—was it similar to mine? I thought about the men who go overboard, who strangely and suddenly lose the few marbles they have left. Is it because of the tone? Does it ever go away for them?
I didn’t have time to smoke a cigarette before ordering. Rachelle wanted to play with her zebras. She took them out of her coat pocket and set them on the Serengeti. There were three, but she kept one at bay. He would be the baby when the time came for the other two zebras to make a baby.
Man zebra goes out into the desert. We don’t know why, but he goes, and leaves the mother alone in her present condition. Months later he returns and kisses the mother. A colt lies next to her in the grass. “Who’s this?” the man asks.
“He is your son. I have named him Fred. Fred is a good name for a boy.”
“Here come the omelets honey. Set the zebras down on the jelly rack to graze.”
We ate our dinner in childlike luxury, gaily chatting the whole time about zebras, lions, and puppy dogs who live outdoors. Absolutely perfect! No tone. No hum. No sadness. The now without the tone. Just the smell and taste of a good greasy omelet and the feel of hunger being satisfied. Rachelle put the zebras back into their pocket home, and I carried my puppy dog back to our dry home across the street.
Once inside, she sat down at the kitchen table and I set the birthday cake in front of her craving eyes. I grabbed one of Scott’s huge party candles and pushed the thing down into the center of the cake. Then out loud she wished that she was a lion and sent the candle’s flame to God knows where.
After cake she unwrapped her gift. A Chinese tea pot with cups and a poem that I wrote in her honor. We sipped hot tea and spoke Chinese for a few minutes. Then the telephone rang. It was Michelle calling from New York. She wanted to wish Rachelle a happy birthday. While they talked I had time to think about the tone that possessed me earlier. Why the tone? Damn that Mary! Why am I here again? Why the blue day and night? Why the separation, the loneliness, the despair? A faint ringing began in my ears and I grabbed the phone out of Rachelle’s hands…
“Michelle, am I nuts? I feel cornered. I’m up against the wall turning in circles. I feel life being sucked out of me. Damn that Mary and her gravitational pull! She may be losing touch, but I am going crazy. Wait, can you hear that? Why can’t you hear it? Oh, if you could only hear, you would understand. Listen, Rachelle is calling me. I have to go. We have a date at the movies. Goodbye…”
We ran to the theater in the rain, bought our tickets and found a seat in the last row.
Oh Rachelle at the movies! How they move her! So many times she has wept over the injury or death of animals in the cinema. Once I had to cover her mouth with a popcorn bag during one of her weeping fits. She was hyperventilating.
Her sorrow is of the abrupt, present kind. A horse lay in the hay dying. I look at Rachelle and she starts to wail. “Daddy, ah, ah, I can’t breathe!” Two years ago I had to rush her out of the theater because a cat fell into the running rapids of a river and had apparently drowned. Her sadness is overwhelming. It is not tonal, not gradual. It attacks her on the spot without her ever knowing. When it comes, it is abrupt and powerful, but it leaves even quicker. Waves of sorrow. But she does not invent them. They must come from the outside. There can be no tone within her.
Sure enough, during the present movie, a bear was shot point blank. As he lay writhing on the jungle floor, Rachelle cried out, “My God Daddy, the bear is going to die! Why did the men have to shoot him? Why Daddy, why!?” The entire theater of faces turn to look at us. Children everywhere, but only one feeling some awful pain. Actually, two. Tears are streaming down my cheeks as I stare in amazement at a creature far more beautiful than I. She is the beauty God desired for the human race. This is all-powerful. This is real. The movie, the movie house, the towns and cities, the outside world and everything inside of it is false. The world is distorted. Men are running in circles, around their own personalized hyperactivity, hearing unbearable tones, which they have made bearable, though no less painful, through some sort of controlled mentality which I cannot understand. I cannot feel the pain, and at the same time, stand my life. I want Rachelle’s sorrow. I demand it of myself. I am tired of being false. God damn it my tears should flood these streets because a talking bear was shot point blank!
Sitting there weeping in the world theater with my only child, I realized that I could not live with the tone. I will not stand for any ringing in my ears. To receive the tone means to never really wake up from the bad dream. To walk sound asleep with my eyes wide open throughout the day and tuck myself under covers each night with the sorrowful song. Alive with sadness, dead of joy. No cries of joy or sorrow. Just tones. Miserable, rotten tones.
Larry’s wisdom was at a peak last Thursday night. Maybe everyone is plagued with the tone, some more often than others. I watch my child cry while we stare out over an Indian sunset. The illusion of the two of us standing in a field of green, innocent before the world as a million colors leap and dance about us, is an illusion no different than sitting in a greasy diner jumping zebras over napkin holders. There are no small illusions. Just one is enough, though, to carry with it all the burdens of mankind. What makes us men is our misunderstanding of everything. What makes us gods is our misunderstanding of everything! The difference, if there is one at all, can not be found in words. But what about music? Yes music. Why not? The music of our mind and body. This is how we will conduct the tone.
By now you must understand, even if you misunderstand, that the tone and illusion are one in the same thing. We all have it. Each of us has our own, personal tone. Well, what can we do about it? Please, read on while I offer you the challenge of simplicity.
For the ancients, I give an ancient remedy to relieve oneself of
modern illusions:

“No thought, no reflection, no analysis,
No cultivation, no intention,
Let it settle itself…”

For the modern, I offer two choices, neither of which are actual remedies. Just hope for the best:
Shoot yourself, or conduct your tone in the most playful manner possible. Tune it in on your pretend flute while the children dance around you in the wet grass. Play lion cub, zebra father, monkey brother… Play yourself, and plant seeds in the earth. Pay absolutely no attention to your neighbor’s neurosis. Sleep when you are tired, eat when you are hungry. Cook your own food. Abstain from meat. Wash your vegetables, your dishes, steam your corn—for God’s sake, don’t boil it! Walk, don’t drive. Catch at least a glimpse of as many sunsets as possible. Awake at dawn and be your own weatherman. Teach by example, if you have to teach at all. Be humble but not stupid. Never demand a thing from anyone. And, if you happen to come into some extra money, find an outlet for it immediately.
I cannot promise that the tone will disappear altogether. It may be a fact that the song of our wrong selves will play on forever. The world of illusion is very real.

Dan Plays Texas Hold ’Em With Bad Hand


2015. Acrylic on canvas, 24 x 30″

Another piece to auction at Dan’s going-away party. I have too many paintings for the friends we keep.

This morning I will clean the refrigerator and pick dandelions for wine. But for now, a quote from Emerson that has cured me of temporary creative paralysis time and again.

Life is a succession of lessons which must be lived to be understood. All is riddle, and the key to a riddle is another riddle. There are as many pillows of illusion as flakes in a snowstorm. We wake from one dream into another dream. The toys, to be sure, are various, and are graduated in refinement to the quality of the dupe. The intellectual man requires a fine bait; the sots are easily amused. But everybody is drugged with his own frenzy, and the pageant marches at all hours, with music and banner and badge.

Still, Thoreau, friend and land squatter to Ralph Waldo, was the truer philosopher.

If the day and the night are such that you greet them with joy, and life emits a fragrance like flowers and sweet-scented herbs, is more elastic, more starry, more immortal- that is your success. All nature is your congratulation, and you have cause momentarily to bless yourself. The greatest gains and values are farthest from being appreciated. We easily come to doubt if they exist. We soon forget them. They are the highest reality. Perhaps the facts most astounding and most real are never communicated by man to man. The true harvest of my daily life is somewhat as intangible and indescribable as the tints of morning or evening. It is a little star-dust caught, a segment of the rainbow which I have clutched.

Delivering Thoreau’s eulogy, Emerson made a jab at his late friend, telling the audience that Thoreau was more prone to sow beans than success, implying that Thoreau wasted his talents on nothing much really. As a younger man, I stopped reading Emerson after I discovered that insult. He was only a man of his time, an intellectual Lady Gaga, seeking applause and money, not satori. Just making a name for himself, so he could die with a name. Emerson was drugged with his own frenzy, but Thoreau was high on life.

Dan Makes Country Wines

Dan makes Country Wine

Acrylic on Masonite®, 13 x 20″

Yesterday I asked Dan if Texas gets dandelions in the springtime. Yes, yet he will miss the yellow petal harvest this year. His first rest stop in the giant state lies about fifty miles northeast of Dallas. He wants to work his way down to Austin eventually. Any readers have jobs available in either area? Dan is 58 years old holding a B.F.A. degree from University of Texas. He is a good, honest father and friend. His skills are people, teaching and foraging. His hobbies—art, wine and beer making. For an interview, watch a football game with him. He comes to your house with fixins’ for burritos, a bag of chotskies, old NY Times Arts sections, and pours you a tall craft beer with the enthusiasm of a cloistered monk. Hiring him will improve your life tremendously. He doesn’t steal. He barters. And makes you feel like you could always do a little bit more to be good.


Dan labeling his wine in my basement.