Wednesday, May 31, 2006

This was my Idea

Alright. This was my idea a long time ago, but I didn't know how to implement it. Now you can keep track of all the stuff your congressman or woman, senator, or political favorites are up to:

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

What I'm painting now.

This is what I just painted (sorry the picture is slightly out of focus):

From this picture I took in San Francisco:

Hills are sort of a novelty for me, having grown up in the midwest where there are no hills. In the development process of San Francisco, a lot of the nearby hills were blown up. Sometimes just the hilltops were taken off, but on this one they made roads around it, making it that much more of a cartoon and a novelty for me.

I started painting this:

and this:
I like seeing the insides of buildings that I feel like I'm not supposed to see. There's a matress sticking out of one of the rooms. The shapes in these pictures are really nice too.

Next, I'm going to paint some of these nice storm pictures I took. We were on our way to Naperville yesterday for Memorial Day meat roasting and it looked like we were headed into the abyss.

I've also got some fine images of old folks from the Slovenian dance hall in Cleveland, OH. I'm going to paint some of them this summer. The color balance on the camera was off, but in a good way. It made everyone look sort of washed out and delicious. Lots of creamy whites in the hair, and streaks of light brown, next to blonde, next to gray. The old people/hair painting project will be a fun exercise in color.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Happy Memorial Day

Happy Memorial Day, O My! Happier malady. To honor those veterans let's play with the anagram maker:

My name spells "Lazy Cow, benign kid."

and my friends include "Trash Heroes" , "Join Sleazier Norm", and "Chimpanzees Freak Alert"

My father's business anagrams to "Hmm! Craziness and very"

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Cubs Game

I don't like baseball, but Mason bought an extra ticket so I went to the Cubs game. It was a glorious day to sit outside and I was able spend the bulk of the game searching for things for us to eat, visiting the loo, or staring at people so that I really didn't have to watch any of the baseball at all. My favorite part of any baseball game has always been when the guys with rakes come out and tidy up the field. I like to stand and cheer for them. It's so good and satisfying to watch them smooth out all the footprints in the dirt and they do it so efficiently too.

Lots of people leave around the start of the ninth inning because they want to beat traffic. Well the Cubs were winning 5 to 3, the ninth inning came and went, and the Cubs ended up losing 5 to 6. Mason and Peter were pretty broken up about it. Next time we'll leave when ever the Cubs are ahead, 8th inning, 3rd inning, whatever, and just go home ignorant and happy.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

I've been saying this for years now...

I lifted this from today's post on Malcolm Gladwell's blog:

After reading the article in the New York Times yesterday on the hundreds of millions of dollars in compensation given over the past few years to the CEO of Home Depot, I ran across this: in 1949, the highest paid CEO in America was Charlie Wilson of General Motors, who earned $586,100 in salary, bonus and stock. That's roughly equivalent to what some of the better-compensated CEO's are making today.

But what did Wilson pay in taxes? $430,350.

Times have changed.

Travel Stories- San Francisco Art School Mish-Mash

This is the last SF travel story, I promise, but it's a lengthy one so I was reluctant to get into it. I visited both the San Francisco Art Institute and the San Francisco College of Arts and Crafts. (They recently dropped the "Crafts" part of the name because they thought it was denigrating.) I was there to compare and contrast to my own art school experience, to do a little spying. The SFAI was definitely very "rock and roll" as someone there put it. Lots of graphic t-shirt designs everywhere, an abundance of photo-realism in the painting department and also lots of paintings of decadent young life (i.e., paintings of people sitting in shabby student apartments drinking beer in their underwear and smoking joints. *See picture.).

*A Graduate Student's Watercolor of a Lesbian Quilting Romp.

When I went outside, there was a gathering of fashionable students in tapered ironic acid washed jeans and girls with really long bangs in their eyes eating chips. It was bright and sunny and warm and this upper level roof top pavilion of the school had a view of the city and of the ocean. A South-American teacher introduced himself and explained that the giant inflatable heart that the students were jumping inside of was his project. You know those giant castles that people rent for children's parties, sometimes they have them at fairs, and you have to take off your shoes to jump inside them? That's basically what this guy made except it was a human heart, with four chambers inside, just like a real heart. All the jumping inside made it look like the heart was beating frantically. It was very red and womb-like, pleasant even, but eventually the students broke the heart. The teacher had to shoo everyone out and trample the heart from the outside to squish all the air out. He said he couldn't have planned a better ending.

At the recent School of the Art Institute of Chicago grad show, I was super disappointed. Tons of
architectural displays, cluttered installations, unappetizing monitors, and noisy video. Not much painting, but what was there was pretty unexciting, very minimalist 80's style. Lots of self-absorbed, self-referential work including a girl who made videos of herself talking about feminism while performing simulated sex acts. One installation stated "No one knows I'm a lesbian". But you know what? No one cares.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Enjoy this picture

I took this in San Francisco. Look at it real good. See it? See! See! See! See that guy? He startled me.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Cormac McCarthy

Yesterday I went to see the opening of Sunset Limited, the new play by Cormac McCarthy. We went on the same night as the Cormac McCarthy Society, a bunch of elderly english majors who smoke (and eat) a lot. The wonderful Austin Pendleton played the part of a depressed professor who is rescued from a suicide attempt by a southern black Jesus loving stereotype of a man, basically a cheerful Sambo. The play is the conversation of the two men, anti-Jesus vs. pro-Jesus battling it out.

One time I hung out with some theater people, but on the grand scale of things I can't yet characterize them into some sort of cogent group. I haven't read a lot of good old Cormac either (I learned he was actually born "Charles"), but I can say that this is a man who is in love with his own penis. He wore a very unbuttoned dress shirt with a pale beige blazer. Anybody who writes about manly topics like cowboys, the desert, death, blood, violence, human suffering, and pathos is clearly in love with their own genitalia. It's kind of a fact.

Everytime I go to the Steppenwolf Theater I think I see the same play. Sometimes it's about a bunch of people sitting on the deck of beautiful home in southern California.
Sometimes there's a mentally disturbed brother and sometimes they are drinking wine. Sometimes something crazy happens, like a falcon eating a puppy, but everytime there are a bunch of people sitting around fretting and venting their dark feelings about the human condition. There's lots of talk about futility and meaninglessness. It always a lot like that Sarte play, No Exit.

Not to be a's always a treat to see something live, and sets are always fun to gawk at, and it's special to go out and sit in a room with other people. There was some snappy, fine writing and some funny moments, but there's something there that I just can't put my finger on about the kind of people that write or go to plays like this. We've all seen something like it before, we know it's not going to end well, and we know nothing new is going to be said on those subjects of human suffering and meaning. So why do they keep going?

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Travel Stories- San Francisco

If you are ever on your way to Santa Cruz for some reason and need a place to stay, may I suggest the Brookdale Lodge. I think the Brookdale Lodge was once a nice place, maybe up until the 70's? A photo of Marilyn Monroe in the lobby is proof that she was once a guest. Then in '77 there was a big fire, the hotel was rebuilt, but it was never able to recapture those long gone salad days. The once classic style can be described as rustic velvet Bavarian swingers nature camp. The bright red lobby features a round cream colored couch and a giant cage in the corner filled with about 30 male finches. You can have a drink in the Mermaid Room, which is located below ground level. Its large murky window is also the north wall of the swimming pool, providing a good view of any swimmers underwater. The best feature by far of the Brookdale Lodge is its dining room. A river runs through the middle of it and you can watch birds fly around as you sit in your high backed 70's chair and enjoy the Sunday brunch (9:30am to 1:30pm).

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Things to Watch

Two things you should look for at the video store/put on your netflix queue:

Michael Jackson's Dangerous . It is a collection of all of his music videos, but be sure to watch the amazing Leni Riefenstahl-like video in the beginning, the Michael Jackson concert footage montage. This video has very dramatic classical music and lots of slowed down footage of him dancing infront of frenzied crowds. The video makes him seem like a Jesus-Hitler-superstar. It's quite a treat. Also watch the extended version of Black or White. It is concrete proof that Michael Jackson is insane.

Peep Show. This BBC comedy only lasted six episodes, like all great comedy treasures (Arrested Development, Freaks and Geeks). Two odd couple-style roommates grow to hate each other more and more and their lives get worse and worse. The episodes were shot with cameras mounted to the actors heads for a lot of nice point-of-view scenes.

Travel Stories- San Francisco

When my friend first moved into his now trendy-transitional neighborhood, it was still pretty bad. Prostitutes would gather at the end of the block and men would drive by all night picking them up. A crazy old guy across the street made the news for throwing a brick out his window at one of the cars- he said God told him to do it. Anywho, when the neighborhood started to change, he'd see more and more hipsters walking around and for a brief time he was often uncertain if a woman was a hooker or a hipster. Knee socks? Boots? Goofy hair? Loud accessories? (Hooker? Hipster? Hooker? Hipster?) These adornments could easily be found in either group.

Another story: check out the Rainbow Gathering website.

The Rainbow Gathering is a yearly naked crazy hippie Hari-Krishna festival that happens over the summer. The rules are anything goes but also to think about taking care of the earth and junk.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Travel Stories- San Francisco

So a friend of mine was teaching a class on the grotesque at an art school. For the last class, all of his students came to his house to show their final projects and to kill and eat three chickens. Before the class he asked me if I would kill one of the chickens because his students might be squeemish and change their minds at the last minute. So I said I would, and I did, and the whole thing turned out to be an interesting, time-consuming process that didn't actually yield that much meat.
We bought the chickens before class in Chinatown. An already prepared chicken only costs a dollar more. Then we practiced on a chopping block. We rigged up a little device to hold the chicken's neck in place.

The worst part isn't cutting the head off, but holding the chicken for a minute or so while it bleeds and trembles.

Then we dunked the chickens in hot water to loosen up the feathers, followed by about 25 minutes of feather plucking.

After that, we chopped off the legs and wings, gutted them, burned off any remaining feathers on the grill, then let them hang for a few hours to let any extra blood drip out. When they were finally cooked and ready to eat, they were served along with prepared store bought chicken and even more distanced chicken (of the nugget variety) from a Kentucky Fried Chicken.

Monday, May 15, 2006

What is wrong with his face?

This is from an ad in a cell phone store. I walk past it all the time and am always startled by his face. What is he doing with his face? I am reminded of this story my mom tells about my dad. My dad was out all night, but then remembered that he had to get his new driver's license early in the morning. He didn't want to look tired so just before they took the picture he opened his eyes as wide as he could, making himself look crazy instead of alert. I think the man in this picture tried the same thing except with smiling.

Go See This

Right now at the Arts Club of Chicago, 201 E. Ontario St, Daniel Buren's show, "Crossing Through Colors" is up and open. I suggest you go. It's fun and confusing to walk through. It's free, but right away they let you know that you can't go see the pretty drawing room upstairs unless you're a member. It's amazing what a little bit of colored plastic will do to a room and I can see something like this being copied by one of the nearby flagship retail stores on Michigan Avenue. Lately, I've been appreciating art like this. It doesn't mean anything, but it appeals to the eye and changes the way you feel in a space. Chloe suggested shooting a music video here.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Travel Stories- Chicago

So my sister was visiting from Seattle and we decided to take some photos for this year's Christmas card. She may not even come back for Thanksgiving, so we had to do it now. We also had an Easter egg hunt to make up for the one we canceled in her honor. Preparations were made for a Passover seder too, but we ran out of time.

My mother looks pained in several of these photographs.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Travel Stories- San Francisco

No caption needed here.

Anarchist graffiti is everywhere. Is this lazy outline supposed to be Africa?

Do Not Enter (Capitalists) Parking.

Misplaced drugs on the street.

As I'm sure most of you know, California is filled with crazy people. Some of those hyper intellectual children I mentioned before come from dark-humored fatalistic parents, the kind that joke with children as if they're adults.

A Scene in Chinatown
A toddler lies down on the sidewalk while his father looks at a fruit stand.

Dad: You can't do that... people have to get by!

The child cries as the dad yanks him to his feet.

Dad: You're not functioning!

The child cries more.

Yeah I know, I know, you can tell your therapist about it later.

Inside a Book Store
A hippie with dreadlocks, a large backpack, and a huge, three-foot-wide carved wooden bowl enters.

Hippie: Is there anywhere where I can check this?

Store Clerk: Oh yes, bowls go right back here.

Hippie: Thanks.

The noise of bells and chanting grows outside. Customers look out the windows as a parade of Hari Krishnas walks down the street.

An Art Exhibit in a Buddhist Church
A monk's strangely colored spray foam art fills the inside of a Buddhist Church. A woman with a floor length black Matrix-style robe follows/stalks visitors to answer questions and prevent vandalism. She is both enthusiastic and brainwashed. A giant Buddha statue is in the back of the room. Offerings in front of the statue include dates, perfume, and five pound box of Triscuits.

Robed Woman: The mist has been in this statue for over two years, see? You can compare it to this version, it has no mist. The master made this one to show that the mist was intentional. This is both simple and complex. As a whole it's simple and there are simple parts here and then here it's complex. It's complex and simple.

At Chez Panisse
Saturday evening at a very famous restaurant. The patrons favor $300 fancy dress-up jeans and white, crisp looking shirts. No one is too formal even though they had to make a reservation at least a month in advance. The desert menu includes Jim Cherchill's Pixie Tangerines and Barhi Dates. A man and a woman dine at a corner table.

Woman: Excuse me, tell me what is special about these tangerines.

Waiter: This is the only place on earth where you can get them.

Her dining companion silently mouths "motherf*cker"

A Tourist Shop in Santa Cruz
The shop is filled with large wooden bears carved from redwood stumps. An old couple uses spray varnish on the pieces outside. The old man likes to engage customers with 20+ minutes of rabid conversation. The old woman usually disappears after three to five minutes. Some sample dialogue includes:

"Hey, I don't remember not existing, so who should say I won't be here when the sun explodes ten million years from now?"

Travel Stories- San Francisco

Something I learned from a veteran chef: when a restaurant has to move some product/use up an ingredient because it's starting to get old, the secret trick is to add bacon. For some reason, bacon makes anything sell. People love bacon. Those bacon wrapped scallops? Think again.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Travel Stories- San Francisco

San Francisco has many hippies, dogs on ropes, Victorian houses, and flowers. What it lacks are children and affordable housing. There are actually more dogs than children in San Francisco, but the few children that are there are hyper smart and sophisticated. These are the children that will rule the world some day. At around eight years the average San Franciscian child can hold adult conversations, show off his or her developed sense of aesthetics, speak two languages, and read the Economist front to back.

This little spark picked out her jacket at a trendy thrift store at Haight and Ashbury. She likes whole grains and organic dairy.

Many kids go to after school tutoring programs like "Score Mountain" here, just so that they can keep up.

Travel Stories- San Francisco

During my travels, I stayed with my pal, Fidelio. Fidelio's Israeli-Finnish friend from Australia was staying there as well. The Israeli-Finnish Australian is famous among the science-art circles for growing animal tissue cells in a petri dish, the first attempt at a steak that doesn't come from killing a cow. Unfortunately, since the muscle cells never got any exercise they were unpleasantly soft, tasting more like jelly than steak. Like all non-Americans he smokes constantly and wears exculsively dark clothes. His sister bombed the French embassy in Australia.

Back from the travels- San Francisco

This may look like nothing, but really this is the face of the beginning of the end for California. In between that little island and the edge of the rocks is the San Andreas fault. When California breaks off and falls into the sea, it will all begin from this point. It feels really scary and wrong to be there. California is a place of constant erosion and landslides and frightening top-of-the-food-chain animals, like sharks, mountain lions and bears. Don't go there alone.