“I Know Lake Ontario Doesn’t Look Like This in April, but Maybe It Should” 2017. Acrylic on birch panel, 24 x 24″
“Only Jay Leno and Other Jingoes See the American Dream From Outside the Dollar Store” 2017. Acrylic on 500 piece puzzle for a dollar. What a deal!
“After Sacrificing 23 Pieces of Crap From the Dollar Store, I Planted This Baby Pear Tree” 2017. Acrylic on dollar store frame, 8 x 10″
“Dollar Store Frozen Chicken Cordon Bleu and Blueberry Muffin on Ceramic Plate Made in China, $3.08” 2017. Acrylic on plate, dinner plate size
“This Dollar Store Clipboard Does Not Want My Dream of Mexico Unless I Make It So” 2017. Acrylic on Chinese dollar store clipboard, 10 x 14″
“How I Look and Feel at the Dollar Store in Town” 2017. Acrylic on dollar store frame, 8 x 10″
“Even at 50 My Attempt at an Imaginary Alligator Should Spark the Professional Curiosity of a Bored Psychiatrist” 2017. Acrylic on paper, 15 x 11″
“For Those of You Living in 1 of the Other 195 Nations, the Reason Americans Don’t Love Trains Anymore is Because Our Brains Have Been Usurped by Cognitive Dissonance Aliens” 2017. Acrylic on Stepanov packaging particle board, 12 x 16″
“Just Like This Popular 1940’s Cultural Meme, Good Hygiene is a Rare Find Today Among Basement Painters” 2017. Acrylic on 1950’s linen dish rag, 21 x 21″
2017. Acrylic on loose canvas, 41 x 13″
My friend and I are submitting to a regional show with the theme “abstraction”. I think I will frame this under glass, and sell it for less than what it cost me to make. The frame will be the big expense. It’s usually the case. I just want to see if Americans will barter or purchase a luxury item—it’s visible worth not even detected as a tiny greed smear on a corporito’s brain scan—even when it’s priced cheaper than a Denny’s® brunch and a few gallons of gasoline.
I do not fool myself about the material value of this painting. It is what it is. Canvas, paints, brush use, light overhead, man, man’s thoughts, man’s moods, man’s dreams, man’s hope, and man’s hands in his pockets—No, wait. After “man” it’s mostly a squat pile of private abstract suffering. And very few besides a friend or two would pretend to want a material representation of that big idea!
I can’t blame them!
And yet, people would want it, even more than shaving cream, if people’s desires were real and not abstractions. Not so much in want of the painting as any true thought, true feeling, true expression of another man or woman cut up into pieces, and each piece set on a cultural conveyor belt of behavior controlled and monitored by abstractions.
People would want it if they trusted men.
I don’t trust them either, hence the painting, another in an endless bombardment of material representations of Americans worship of abstraction.
And maybe after my demise, someone will pay a few thousand dollars for that “forest stream” painting. Provided the post-mortem marketing team is sharp and can make some abstract tool think valuable a material fool.
2013. Acrylic on (5) 6 x 6″ wood panels
John Katko, New York’s 24th District U.S. Congressional Representative, thinks that fracking our land is an a-okay prospect and glorious economic opportunity for rural, landowning New Yorkers. So is drinking HCL if dissolved human flesh and bone was a marketable commodity. And believe me, bottles of it would be on supermarket shelves tomorrow if this were so. I think John likes money and dreams of reelection more than the biological systems of New York’s toddlers and infants. During the campaign I will challenge John to a month-long tour of Pennsylvania, Oklahoma, and North Dakota fracking country where his water can only be drunk from residences within 300 yards of a frack well. If he isn’t green or blue by month’s end, I will cease to use fracking as a campaign issue.
It’s Alimentary My Dear Manslaughterer
In with the bad, out with what used to be bad, but is better now than what stayed in. Proof that the Beatle’s song “Helter Skelter” was bad medicine. Charles Manson took it in innocently enough, not knowing how it would mix things up inside, jive with his homicidal entitlement dreams, and be released into the wild. So he formed a cult and planned gruesome parties.
I believe that what makes a crazed Manson character must lie dormant in each and every one of us. We are guilty of abusing our own small powers sometimes. When power becomes absolute, whether expressed as micro from a stinky, run-down homicidal maniac’s ranch in Death Valley, or macro, by the state mandate from a Mao Zedong or Andrew Cuomo, it will corrupt absolutely. We are familiar with the popular phrase. We repeat it at parties, yet at election time, still vote for either party in a one party-pretending to be two party-system. The one, true party is made up of the corporitos. They party all summer long on the private beaches of Lake Superior. In Oswego at late summer, one can get a glimpse of their yacht captains battening down the hatches before a morning intercoastal departure to Florida. A month later they anchor their master’s ships for many warm winter parties beneath Miami moons.
You wouldn’t give Charles Manson the power to determine the potential fate of an entire people’s water supply for profit. Even if it would employ all the violent LSD soaked hippies on earth. What has Andrew Cuomo written on his “saint” wall to have you assume that he is looking out for your best interests? Who is your state senator and assemblyperson? Are any of them hobbyist nutritionists, chemicals scientists, structural engineers, mothers and fathers who would struggle to afford a year’s supply of home-delivered spring water?
The man in the painting knows the science. It’s alimentary dear Watson. If you drink benzene, you suffer benzene. What might not be so obvious is that your representative in power would trade your physical well being for a small profit if a corporito told him to.
2015. Acrylic on canvas, 36 x 36″
Think About It
The fact that a 48 year old man, simple, shy and nearly as honest as his neighbor ever was, feels the need to take up what the elites of my state are claiming is a cause célebre over the pros and cons of chemically infecting our water supply, is a sign of the black SUV times.
Even our local “public” radio is in on the money game, selling advertising to the gas men who espouse child leukemia as a justifiable result of fake farmer Fred’s purchase of a speed boat to play with while the subsidized high fructose corn syrup grows tall.
The governor is corrupt, his friends all greed punks, his girlfriend a very bad human being, and not even a good cook, really. Phenol crab cakes. A mixed green salad washed in naphthalene. A glass of formaldehyde Finger Lakes wine delivered to her door by the sleazy state senator who dreams paper money is happiness.
It amazes me that these lawyer-cowards are not hanging from a stick, by a thread, over a frack pool bubbling with mass community rage.
Stanley Milgram would have nodded his head while the people of the village turn the voltage up on their own screaming children.
So I take up paint and mix in what I think is the second most audacious power grab ever made by human beings. The first being the advent of probable nuclear annihilation by future lawyer-cowards. My neighbors watch and listen to the fake debate and wait to judge which side the hippies fall on. They all love CSN, and even Neil Young before he broke away and wrote the poetry of a grown-up. They just don’t appreciate hippies bearing a conscience. All are waiting for the lawyer-cowards to set up the tent of the crazy circus debate on hydrofracking. And established tools like my local public radio people perpetuate the power grab with credit card payment glee. They don’t need to be millionaires. They all just want to look like one.
“Fissures!” 2014. Acrylic on canvas, 24 x 18″
Fissures Make Colorful Carcinogens, Yes?
A self-explanatory painting. Chemicals can be colorful. They are sent into the earth under high pressure. They come back up and float in a pool. That’s the way the gas men want it to be understood. Innocuous, maybe even slightly normal, and downright grand if it provides jobs to the job hungry.
Atmospheric temperatures must have stabilized overnight. No longer news worthy. Nobody is talking about it. Huzzah! Tomorrows are purified for our progeny!
No, not really. But that is how the established 4th estate expects us to think.
Headlines from NPR would have us assume that global warming just stopped, and that summer’s upstart is warm breeze and strawberries and wild fauna nesting soundly in the tall grass, swimming peacefully in pure and wild, wet waters, nibbling moist berries off the endless lush produce of mother earth…
NPR is government propaganda. Someone at the top of their machine is having lunch with Goebbels.
We could stop to get our bearings, reassess our dependencies, head into the future with strong backs and determination, but will not move a millimeter until our dollar takes its final nose dive into oblivion.
Still, with minimal effort we can break out of surface denial by making atmosphere talk our first attempt at every conversation. We could become mindful once again and use our cleanliness and good health and swell science to imitate 14th century Japanese royalty. We could write poetry, take day walks, stab to death the Carnegie Steel and Rockefeller Oil earth-hating drive-about we depend on more than our neighbors and families. We could naturalize our lives with creative job creation. That means we choose our local economies and dress them to our own survival tastes. Oil execs might have to be tortured gently. Fracking giants could have their heads politely lopped off. Military brass would get the picture after a sound fragging by its own sentient cannon fodder.
These punishing days will come. What’s unbelievable is that the majority of intelligent human beings refuse to articulate this with any regular pattern.
Geeze, even without a blog to help clear her fuzzier dreams, the woolly mammoth got smitten with bright yellow buttercups still digesting.
So, carpe diem, verdad?
Yes, of course. But let’s do it with some class. Let us witness some poetry crawl out of this Walmart funk hole we’ve born ourselves into. Use our liberal educations—read what the dead dogs wrote to become living lions once again. Don’t let the consumer culture barons fool you any longer. The woolly mammoth was a blind consumer too. What was lost in non-acquisition of petroleum plastics, she made up for a thousand times by expressing her true nature.
Express your true nature. Become who you were before you were born. Focus your dreams toward creative survival. Yes, even with the weekly trade off of coins for Scott Tissue paper. Doom should be the only preoccupation of any species’ grown-up. Even the crazed mega-neuronopolis doom of the human being king.
“Of Itself So” 2017. Acrylic on wood panel, 11 x 14″
“Back Home, the Hawk Got Windowed by a Cat” 2017. Acrylic on wood panel, 11 x 14″
“Carry On Regardless” 2017. Acrylic on wood panel, 14 x 11″(plein air)
“I Am a Useful Fiction” 2017. Acrylic on wood panel, 11 x 14″
“The Homeless Man Gets Mocked by his Own Sky” 2017. Acrylic on wood panel, 11 x 14″
“After the Capitalists Leave South Florida” 2017. Acrylic on wood panel, 14 x 11″
“The Lackluster Tornado Run Through the Tree of Cities” 2017. Acrylic on wood panel, 11 x 14″
“There are Too Many Waste Pipes Connected in Bonita Springs” 2017. Acrylic on wood panel, 14 x 11″ (plein air)
Sonny Tupaj of Raphael’s Restaurante, teenage chef and individual child hobo like myself, must have had an insight into the psyche of my future being when he would greet me every time with a fazed look and the spoken word, “why?” “Why Ron, why?” I guess it was my token expression among friends, my most used word during the discovery years of youth. Even my grandmother from her nursing home bed said I was an aspiring philosopher, and another friend, I forget who, called me philosopher Ron. I remember getting punched in the cheek during a flash rumble and turning back to face my opponent to ask him “why, why did you just do that?”
My curiosity was most always human related. I certainly was not (am not) full of wonder, like a child asking, “what is the grass?” Unlike my practical teenaged friends, I didn’t care to know how a car engine worked, or how to attach a door to its jamb. But I was concerned about human behavior. Why did my friend Kyle kick me in the balls just to show off to an older kid he wanted to impress? Why did Rich, the neglected suburban child-poet, decide that dairy farming beheld a bright future? Why did I end up being such an underachieving hoodlum when I wanted to be a forest ranger and had such a healthy lust for sports? Etcetera.
As I grew older, I pushed further with the whys. My first “A” in college was a class in sociology, above a “D” in calculus, and a “C” in accounting. Regrettably, I remained a business major for two more years until my first history elective. Then “whack”! The “whys” had it. I changed majors, truly excited was I to find the answers that history provided. No gray area in hindsight. Kennedy slept with lots of women while he determined the fate of earth with nuclear testings. Hoover was an incompetent bully buffoon who swore that MLK was a communist because, according to that pasty-faced idiot, all black people who had cultural and political thoughts must be communist.
Of course, reading history only inflamed the “whys”. I read literature, seeking more answers. Kurt Vonnegut was a “why” man. Slaughterhouse 5 would lose all of its charm (and sales), but not much of its meaning, if Vonnegut published the word “why” on one page, and left it at that.
From literature, to psychology, and finally back to sociology. Stanley Milgram discovered more than an innate penchant for humanity to follow the leader. He unknowingly discovered the presence of a justice gene. That is my hypothesis anyway, and genetic research might not be too far off confirming it. For those not familiar with his work, Milgram ran tests at Yale in 1961 to determine how it was possible for thousands of ordinary Germans to carry out the holocaust. Read about his experiment. It alone has answered so many local and national “whys” for me. The potential of power and propaganda to shape public opinion is greater than the individual ability to think for oneself. All forty participants in his study put 300 volts (also labeled “Extreme Intensity Shock”) into an actor because he was failing a word game, and the man wearing the lab coat in the electrocution room told them to proceed. From the other room the actor was crying out that he had enough, stop the experiment. 26 of the 40 took this torture up to 450 volts (past “Danger: Severe Shock”), several jolts after the actor went silent in the next room.
I believe that had Milgram tested a thousand people instead of forty, at least one would have stopped the moment an “ouch” was heard from the adjoining room. The other 999 would match similar results from the original 40 tested. That unfortunate person would possess what I call “the justice gene”. I also surmise that testing reticent teenagers would have skewed his results and shown more justice genes as a group; even more so among populations of Native Americans. I cannot imagine 26 out of 40 reservation Navajo juicing to death another Navajo because some goofy dude in a white coat told them to.
Anyway, to the painting.
I have that justice gene. It expressed itself as the ever present “why” when I was a boy. I know of it now while listening to National Propaganda Radio. The latter has contracted with America’s Natural Gas Alliance to promote its agenda in exchange for the minds of the last hold out Americans. Their campaign is called “Think About It”, and its sole purpose is to normalize the potential disaster of hydrofracking among those who feel themselves sophisticated enough to listen to the man in the lab coat tell them how to think at any hour of the day. NPR and America’s Natural Gas Alliance know that the game will be won, that it’s just a matter of time. Every day I feel like the one in a thousand who wasn’t asked to participate in the Milgram obedience experiment. By this, I also believe that any employee of NPR, and by association, my local public radio station, daily administers an “Extreme Intensity Shock” to his or her neighbor. None of them have ever asked why. They wait to be told what to say, and they broadcast it over the airwaves to a 100,000 people.
So Sonny Tupaj, upon meeting up again 30 years late, address me now with the great and unnecessary interrogative “why?”.
And here is my answer: Because I know in my heart of hearts, that without the presence of a justice gene, you my old friend, would fry me in a chair if the radio, television or the President told you to. I know that the propagandists know exactly what they are doing. Media programming has one universal agenda, whether it be Rupert Murdoch’s Fox TV, the New York Times, or geographically significant “little” WRVO the public radio station. Their programming is meant to program you. Your thoughts are not your thoughts.
Or Sonny, today you may be a fan of pretend right wing talk radio. Say, Rush Limbaugh, who is NPR heavy as the latter is light on Limbaugh. He doesn’t like anti-frackers either. He wants jobs too. There is no talk of Clean Energy Acts on his show, nor the effects of benzene in the water, or mile long 1-inch thick cement casings that need to hold their structure forever, even after the hundred mini-earthquakes have rattled its integrity. You will never hear of paid for in-your-face media stories on the dangers of hydrofracking. Both Rush and NPR forbid it. If you get any information, it will include both side’s issues of a manufactured debate. Turn on the radio to hear a well engineer talk of the dangers of hydrofracking, or a scientific explanation of half-life testings of fracking chemicals, and leave it at that? Never. All those guys have been obediently electrocuted. Silenced by the obedient assistants to the man in the white lab coat.