When we're dancing
cheek to cheek,
ask if I love you
and make a funny face
You're here in my arms
heart of mine,
I want to be happy.
Just a lucky so and so,
stompin' at the Savoy
You go to my head,
But who cares?
It's alright with me
But now its my turn now
and it is a lovely day
today in New York
That sweet embraceable you
I'd dolphin dance in to a blues walk
like someone in love
like the old folks in summertime.
We can boogie-woogie
under old devil moon
only seven steps from heaven.
Just you, just me, and out
of no where, polka dots
and moon beams.
Let's watch what happens
my funny valentine.
We made Giant Steps
through autumn leaves
softly as in the morning sunrise
darn that dream
days of wine and roses
I jumped for joy night and day
when we fell from heaven
I still remember you
and quiet nights spent
on the sunny
side of the street
As time goes by
In my solitude
I'll be seeing you
You were my thrill
My old flame
I'll cover the waterfront
Until the real thing comes along
A dream of life
Say it with a kiss
That's all i ask of you
I'll never be the same
I'm funny that way
Foolin' my self
This is a fine romance
And deal old Stockholm.
When the lazy bird
riding the blue train
the wise one
where crescent moons
and velvet sunsets
shine down on Avalon
remember your lady,
that promise of
a love supreme.
All by your lonesome waiting for the clock to strike at the midnight hour wondering, why? Why not sleep? You’re too tired to get up and too busy to stop thinking about it, so why not talk to yourself instead? The bottle of cheap red wine you bought at the Russian liquor store down the street that you’ve been drinking out of won’t save you now. No matter what happens you’ll still be a transplanted white suburbanite from half way across this broken dreamland misplaced like a peanut in a bag of skittles.
You were born in the country but never lived there. Yours is a world of fluorescent lights and store bought goods. Stand there tomorrow at your stove-top and contemplate the universe contained in the thin shell of the free-range chicken egg. Whirl your self into a frenzy and be mystified over Nina Simone and the wonder that is a halved grapefruit in sunlight. But for now in the waning minutes of this day, pinewood dust, the same color as your pale skin, is littered across your new apartment floor and arms sore from cross cutting on the miter box for what felt like the same time it took to grow the once majestic tree rests now neatly at your feet like fresh snow on Christmas morning.
Charlie Parker fills your mood of discontent over 11:57. Solo to a new low and swing back up into an early morning serenade but don’t forget to slow dance with your dreams on full moon beams streaming in like mp3 downloads off the worldwide void. Boom. The clock hath stricken and thy still awake.
Crash! The sound of beer bottles cluttered. Let’s dance together. Labor Day. Living a Labor Day life. This is your life.
There is no poetry that could encircle the slide guitar notes of Robert Johnson singing his tune about life in this great big American party.
You stand at a crossroads and look East and West. What’s it going to be junior?
Mind up in a bind while trying to find a piece to the pie. “Can I get a regular slice?”, two dollars and fifty cents to happiness, why not? Get it while you can. Keep it moving over hot sauce and fresh basil. Belly full dig deeper into the bottom of that bottle and find the ancient wisdom of old sages in fermented harmony with the universe. Roll back the kind wishes and start saving them for rainy days in this autumn season. They say winter will be cold and the women are covering up their toes in leather shoes and boots. Combat operations commence on the rainy days sure to come. It’s the end of summer-skirts, as overcast skies roll on till Spring.
Kick back Jack with that old indigo mood on parade. It’s just a smooth brush stroke or two to the point of being happy or not so make it happen kiddo. With the sweet taste of Mexican beer on my lips I listen to Mississippi John Hurt wound me in gentle song. He had the softest touch of all of them combined. He could kill a man with his delicate old hands on that guitar. We all have to walk that lonesome valley our selves. It’s just that when I started I took along with me a bunch of stuff to schlep for the trip to keep me occupied. I got a harmonica in one hand, a beer in the other, and I’m toting a wagon filled with a case of Tennessee whiskey, paint, and a wet canvas that won’t leave me the hell alone. Now if I'd a only brought some ice.
I am sitting in our small apartment with boxes and stuff in half-packed-mode for our move in a few days to a new apartment, still in, you guessed it, Brooklyn. As Truman Capote once said, "I live in Brooklyn, by choice." My girlfriend, Katya and I just finished watching the internet bootleg copy of Project Runway's opening to the 2009 season filmed in LA. An old friend and classmate of mine, Ari Fish, was a contestant on the show, in which she only lasted one episode.
Thoughts on the matter would not warrant much discussion, but I figured I'd procrastinate further and try to give my own two cents to perhaps make sense and shed some light for all you out there scratching your heads saying "huh?"
It starts in Kansas City. Mid-Coast America. Where is that? Well, it's on the Missouri River on the border between the states of Kansas and Missouri, mostly Missouri. Historically, it began as a French fur trading outpost and grew into the last main gateway for Western expansion of early settlers California bound. Later as infrastructures developed K.C. functioned as a major cattle and freight train junction with its relative central geographic placement in the U.S. As time would have it, it's primary contacts to the outside world were the railroads and roadways in all directions with St. Louis and Chicago to the East, and Wichita, Omaha, Denver, and eventually L.A. to the far West. Isolated? Somewhat, then there was Radio, WWII, TV, Interstates and the Internet.
Fast forward to the 20th-21st centuries and put yourself in K.C. and you have a major urban oasis in the middle of an industrially-federally-subsidized-farmed America with less isolation and more people, highways, sprawls, etc.
In the middle of all this is Midtown. No, not the one you might think of with Rockefeller Center. We are talking about a small region with a few art museums, the Kansas City Art Institute, West Port, and Broadway Cafe. Not the kind you'd find in Times Square, but Kansas City style, a local favorite coffee shop made even more famous by driving a Starbucks out of business.
Kelly's, an old Irish bar converted from a carriage house in the West Port neighborhood that railroad men used to frequent back when they still hadn't connected the country, stands as the area's oldest building. Legend has it that during the Civil war it even served as a stop on the underground railroad where slaves were freed from their shackles and that the chains are still in the basement to this day. The Art Institute's former star professor Thomas Hart Benton who taught Jackson Pollock everything he never used, used to hit up the joint weekly as did many art students and teachers for years.
So an Art Institute in the middle of the country? Yes. It makes sense if you want a cheaper city, with room to work and without all the B.S. of LA or NY. Ari, a local of the Kansas City area, myself from the Chicago area, and many other Mid-westerners as well as coastal dwellers were drawn and continue to be drawn to the best-kept-secret tucked between the Mississippi and the Rockies. So where am I going?, well its back to Ari.
Ari Fish. In school for four years together she always amazed me with her approach to work and in conversation, which was natural, flexible, and challenging. If I said she was a socially responsible free spirit renegade, she might disapprove of labels. She is the ideal student-- a perpetual learner that continues to evolve herself and others. Ari always had an edge and was comfortable on that edge where she could operate with intensity and with the unique experimental nature only she could provide. I have distinct and vague memories of us all working in studio and her ideas, projects and comments always surprised me and kept me guessing. Russell Ferguson served as a major instructor and muse giving her more fuel for the fire. In her studies she changed majors from painting to ceramics and continued to develop her unique vision and most importantly, continued asking questions. As Einstein said, "Imagination is more important than knowledge."
As I mentioned earlier, the city and all the creative life it generates acts as both an insulated incubator and distorted amplifier of coastal influences. The major universities in K.C. and with Kansas University in Lawrence Kansas 45 minutes away function as the community's life-blood bringing in fresh views and talent every year. Kansas City, unlike many American cities, has over the years (with it's unique geography) cultivated its own collective voice. Bustling within these social communities, artists are able to live and work in affordable spaces that would make anyone in NY cry if I mentioned rents. This said, I believe Ari is one of our finest examples of creative tenacity fueled with absolute fearlessness. Let the cream rise, as the saying goes.
It is no real surprise that Ari's work was not accepted by the judging panel, as Michael Kors said, "Maybe I'm not smart enough to get it?" This may or may not be the case but it sets the tone that I'd like to convey which is this, though the show presented her as 'spacey' there is a tremendous amount of energy and volume in space which if you follow logical reasoning, gives you room to grow and flourish. Ari will continue on a path unique and with the vision and people behind her that matter. We wish her the best in Germany from Brooklyn, where she is working on a new fashion collection in Berlin.
If you are still scratching your head. Don't jump to conclusions. You don't walk out on a first date by accident. As Buckminster Fuller once stated in regards to expectations, "There is nothing in a caterpillar that tells you it's going to be a butterfly."
KCAI class of 2006
...I'd go out to my snowfield and dig out my jar of purple Jello and look at the white moon through it. I could feel the world rolling toward the moon. At night while I was in my bag, the deer would come up from the lower timber and nibble at leftovers in tin plates in the yard: bucks with wide antlers, does, and cute little fawns looking like otherworldly mammals on another planet with all that moonlight rock behind them.
Then would come wild lyrical drizzling rain, from the south, in the wind, and I'd say "The taste of rain, why kneel?" and I'd say "Time for hot coffee and a cigarette, boys," addressing my imaginary bhikkus. The moon became full and huge and with it came Aurora Borealis over Mount Hozomeen ("Look at the void and it is even stiller," Han Shan had said in Japhy's translation)...
A heavy fog has set in this morning crossing the Manhattan Bridge gazing Southward towards the Brooklyn, the city looks as if on the edge of the world. It just ends. The old stone bridge becomes the last and only crossing joining the two strange remaining islands on Earth. Then begins the light misty void extending into infinity as it swallows up all that it can off into a sublime unknown.
Friday. One of the the most glorious six letter words in the English language, particularly at 5 p.m. that very day. A good day to be alive & well with sunshine & slight soreness from yesterday's workout. A hot coffee in hand sipping caffeinated life along the N train tracks. Greta and Aaron are having there party tonight. Ellisa is coming up from B-more to visit for a few days into next week for some acro-yoga classes. Hopefully she'll call off the bus and we can bring her up to the party too. Speaking of the party, I need to solidify my thoughts on the matter. A toast is in order for this evening's festivities. It's not every day that these sorts of things happen to your friends. May I forgive myself for any trespassing into cliche territory and for any trampling into the cheese. Here goes:
7-11-09 A.M. Brklyn
From, break it you buy it -to- break it and send it back.
In many corners of this hyper interconnected universe of pattern interfaces and system functions ever expanding experiments on themes go by on and on like water flowing up and down the East River. Depending on what time your train crossed the Manhattan Bridge, the Atlantic will be pushing its salty waters up stream or the Long Island Sound will be rushing down with fresh drops of Hudson and Harlem Rivers. Anyway you look at it, it’s still all greenish brown.
Greenish, Brownish, ish is the new it. If it is, than it is. If it’s definitive, it’s pushy. If it’s vague, it’s noncommittal-- but ish-ish is the new real. It is now-ish.
Whatever art I have been seeing around me is ish. It is good-ish, bad-ish, faux-naïve-ish, and commercial-ish. The lines have been blurred that once separated the distinctions. Were there distinctions? I see artists working toward new problems in a way that is best described in an observation I had in my youth where a caged puppy had defecated and then comsumed his own matter. It’s efficient, contained and theatrical. It is banal, ostentatious, awkward, beautiful, poetic, silly, fun and sarcastic. Sometimes making a joke of the joke, these young artists are seeing themselves see. Not unlike self-consciously trying not to be self-conscious.
Our work, our Art is earthy, lofty, important, meaningless, synthetic, organic, plastic, biodegradable, recycled, handmade, industrial, fake, real, toxic, edible, wild, and domesticated. It is for the individual and for no one all the same. It is both consumption and production, like puppy.
What else could we know but what we know, what we’ve lived? Live our world of online, All-Mart consumer frenzy terrorism fragmented material culture of multi-stage chemical compounded experiences, we web surf, channel surf, reality surf, text, sext, smoke, joke, breed, feed, drink, think-ish.
Tonight like last night they hit the crumbling streets in hipster cigarette packs through the borough on their way to the infirmary. Can you swim to the other side of this anywhere?
Skip it man. You’re flipping your lid off like a soda pop top tab tossed out from a cab. Who’s got the money for the fizz, who for the guy driving this mess?
Today you hark back to a time when you remember headphones being less popular, wait, when was that? You're too young to be imagining these things. You begin to regret their existence. A middle aged mother of two with raw yellow hide boots with a pink ipod sits before you jamming hard in the morning hour. Many people find it as necessary as caffeine to blast themselves and the innocent passerby's with sophisticated tastes in Euro-trash drum and bass madness. Electrical acrobatics. Theory: If one is to listen to 'young' people's party music then one must feel young. Life is a party. Your morning commute well spent. A conscious effort to hold on to youthfulness in contemporary life turned into bad habit. Thumping away into oblivion behind oversized shades of the fashionable variety.
1.29.09. N. A.M. NYC.
New York City. Say it again slower. New York City. Never gets old. Or does it? Helicopter flying high over Midtown observing traffic developments on the West Side Highway and FDR drive. Police sirens, fire-trucks, cabs, trains, buses, people, cellphones. It's 5:02, time to roll on out of here. Make your way down the street to your train. Swipe it. Transfer at 34th St. Herald Sq. to somewhere. It doesn't really matter because your train line is unattractive no matter what time you ride. Once in a while a gem surfaces, makes bold headlines across your short attention span and fades back into obscurity faster then whence they came. The tragedy of a glimpse. A diamond in a passing train breaks your feeble reality and it's only 5:09. Women read a gold jewelry catalogue fully illustrated lusting over the gaudy lumps of yellow metal. Good, they leave. Off to spend. But what you ask am I left with? Alone in a packed train car of tired people after a long day's struggle. It's only Thursday. At least it's the same day for everybody. So then again you're not that lonely. A college student pours over her text book. The oppressive weight of an object of distant memory with their low budget design, awkward layouts and outdated graphics filled to the brim with stock photography and jaded illustrations from artists who used to have dreams and aspirations to attain much more. She hauls book and all away. Why? You ask yourself do all Chinese markets seem to use the red plastic bags exclusively. 5:51, you've reached your Brooklyn time zone. You notice Avocado green velvet track pants, you suddenly remember this is why you moved here. New York City, New York City. Living in the land of Kings.
Holding the train door open he stepped into the car laughing. His cousin followed. They chose a place to stand. Though choice is used sparingly, after all it is rush hour. He took off his fur-lined hood revealing an enormously large scar and pronounced veins in his forehead. As he smiled they bulged as if he was lifting strenuously. He wore an aquiline nose and a sinister smile. Proud machismo. His hair glossed with whatever gel suited him, tied back into a small tail. He glances about the car looking for what cannot be discerned. Chewing gum he rests against the do not lean on door. A large bag in hand, black and red with a shoulder strap. It’s been a long day.
I took Katya out for Sushi last night. We hit our local spot and ordered a beautiful meal. Three ultra fancy rolls and one old stand by that’s our favorite. I ordered Edamame, Hot Sake and all. Our dish was served in a triangular format over the large white porcelain plate. Each roll was set in slight arcs making the arrangement appear as a negative space between three packed circles, or women’s underwear depending on your state of mind. We enjoyed ourselves very much. It was a D.I.Y. gift from my mother. I still needed to cash the check. Money is tight but I was not allowed to use it on anything other than enjoyment.
Sunday past, the car was smashed into. Ugly. The Driver side mirror, front window, and whole side panels were damaged. Luckily the car was drivable. It ran about 300$ for glass and a mirror, no note. Do people leave notes? “Hey man, sorry, here’s my info.” No. This is Brooklyn, Fuggedaboudit! Needless to say my mood was in the depths that made things wear down thin between K and I. She is such a great partner and I am thankful to her for all that she does. More so than I may express or that she may realize. A pure at heart champion if you were to ask me. I regret lacking finesse at times of which her sensitivity and romantic heart demand.
The past few days and weeks have been taxing emotionally, financially and otherwise yet we are healthy. The past two evenings were very fun and romantic and we enjoyed our selves. This is addicting. I think we both remembered some of the important things. Love and tenderness.
1.23.09 N. A.M. NYC.
Reflections on Yesterday
It was a relatively normal working day for me. I don't take days off for these sorts of things. Back track. Katya woke up early and prepared an enjoyable meal of biscuits and sausage gravy, OJ and fresh coffee. It was so nice to spend the morning hour with her. We even took the train together. The workday as mentioned was fine. A photography deadline for our March catalogue and lots of incoming property to sort through set a brisk pace for the day. I let out to a few here and there and the word spread. People invest a great deal of energy and excitement into these anniversaries.
Emails between mom and myself contained wonderful moments of truth and reality. By the time she was my age now, she’d already mothered three of us, and undergone knee surgery, endured my brother and his condition, a relatively fresh marriage and so much more. I was thinking of her and a tremendous amount of things that I began sensing were far beyond what I would be capable of dealing with as effectively as she had. She wrote to me that there was no need to compare the two of us in any way. We all are different and confront our challenges in the best ways we can. She expressed a desire to regain some of the strength of her youth but she reminded me and reconfirmed what I’ve been doing here, whom I’m with and how far I’d come. This was not without the emotional charge you could only expect from one’s mother. This dialogue left me with more to reflect on and I was able to slightly enjoy the day more.
For me the birthday is that of being more a mile marker of one’s mortality, the ever-fleeting nature of life and change as we age toward the inevitable truth that waits in the corner of the room patiently. It sometimes or mostly feels like this.
F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, reminds one of the delicacy and precious precariousness of life which is at its base level borrowed time. A reality that let me enjoy myself last evening at the Blind Tiger Ale House in the West Village. Note: A blind pig, or tiger or any number of other names is an old speak easy code name for a bar.
6:30 P.M. was the marked time for arrival. My friend Aaron from work and I rolled down to the spot arriving real early to a bustling crowd of middle age men. The slow but fun realization of which settled in that this was not just a typical after work bar with a male majority on a weeknight. This became clear with several glances I caught from other patrons. (Train Note: Young woman in cerulean blue tights with red knit leggings knee high, black miniskirt and navy style sailor’s coat with knit beige solid hand mittens Union Sq.)
In short many friends arrived and we proceeded to have a grand evening filled to the brim with beer and then pizza near the Vanguard and further on to Reggio’s cafe which I was less moved by than it’s history. I picked up that tab from our party as a way to thank the crew for coming out in the cold night to play. (Train Note: Black suede boots with grey fur lining fringe. Same woman as before off to class according to her dialogue with her over charged class mate presumably.)
1-7-09 F. A.M. NYC.
It’s cold and rainy this morning and very hard to get up. Last night I was out with Katya and Alexis. An old Okie friend of A's from their High School days lives here too. A decent bass man as it turns out who sent along an invitation to hear his band. A real cool guy named Aidan. We set up with some drinks in the dark room at the back of old Parkside Lounge in New York's L.E.S. The band played super well. An 8piece crew with one chap out they still hit it hard with strong roots in Funk, Soul, Blues and Rock. The lead singer was a brown hair, light build, easy on the eyes beauty in a purple pleated dress with an open back halter-top. Arleigh's got chops for sure and if you don't believe it, she even had some moves that made the women’s heads turn. Red lights set a mood on stage and the grooves they were laying down were fit for a good time. I had a feeling while watching that I had finally found some people of my own generation that played music, at least the kind that I subscribe listening to.
When the band was setting up it took only a second to realize they were not a bunch of trust fund hipsters. These cats were authentic musicians that came howling from the great halls of Jazz, Blues, Reggae & Rock. You could tell all this by the way they blew a few notes, tuning away some colorful riffs into the room. The longhaired harmonica man looked like my father 30 years removed. He's the brother of the singer and cousins to the drummer man, Katya’s favorite. We had a grand time and I had a strong feeling we’d be seeing more of this group in the future.
Note: We had dinner near by at local place that ripped us off by $10 or so. A New York momment, you cannot charge $7 for bad chips and a readymade wholesale salty thimble of guacamole. This poor experience needed some remedy, which was found in a Japanese student run French style dessert place around the way. We enjoyed macaroons, coffee and a hot coco to boot. The macs, they were all good though maybe a half day old, chocolate, green tea, cherry rose and lemon dill. Interesting. After all the happenings and breaking out $50 to settle the score, we took the train back home to Brooklyn in the cold wee hours of our anniversary.
New Years Eve 6:03 p.m. I had spent most of the day laid up in bed with a mild fever of 100.8 or 101 tops. Just another day. Called in sick, it happened to be a half-day anyway. Most people were off on their vacations living fun interesting lives. Peaches & cream. A beautiful thing. Been listening to music and watched a documentary on ol’ Kerouac. He first smoked tea with Lester Young at a club uptown, who the hell else gets to say that? I dig. I feel so close to him in so many ways more so than my own brothers, father or friends. He could lay it down & with style & beauty – cool. Cool like when cool was still new. When cool was jazz blowing with smoke out of a saxophone in a dark club on 53rd St. or a nightspot way out in Frisco, back in a time when Bird was on the radio. What did it sound like then? Did they know they had it that good? K & M are here cooking for tonight’s dinner party at their mother’s. Looks like we might roll out of here at nine to her place. We grabbed some sushi at our local place at 3 p.m. for lunch. Always hits the spot. Always about $20 bucks give or take a few Washingtons. What I ask myself are my resolutions for the year? Well, I am loosing weight at the club, gotta get into shape. Keep painting and apply to publications, but the real deal. Be happier with it all. The girl I kissed to start off this decade/millennium is getting married in two weeks. I’m happy for her. Life, love, it’s funny that way. I say yes. Yes to it all. It’s cold outside, going to have to keep warm feeling almost sorry for all those Times Square bums in the windy bitter cold tonight partying it up. Red noses, ears pink as valentines, noses running, and cheeks rosy. White people’s faces show the real temperature or what they’ve been drinking. It’s a fitting way to end a rough year for us all, our blood rushing around in a hustle to keep us from freezing in the bitter cold of the midnight hour.
Today the Times reports that according to the latest research polls, approximately 10% of the American population is unprepared for the nation wide switch from analog broadcasting to digital on the 12th of June. The government has spent 2 Billion on aiding Americans with the transition and has employed AmeriCorps, firefighters, and other public services to aid people in converter box installations. They have delayed the switch over four months to aid in the transition but declare there will be no more delay. Pictured in the Times as the cover image for this story they present three Baltimore women hugging inside their home after one of them, a worker, has installed the device as if it saved their lives.
TV comes up in casual conversation with people the same way books once did in our culture. When I tell people I don’t own a TV many often are shocked with such a notion as to not be able to imagine life without it. An old friend used to refer to it as “the mother box”. This poignantly tells the truth because as an object and lifestyle, it has been deeply imbedded into our collective consciousness raising us for over 60 years.
Now while TV in its various forms has existed since 1927, it wasn’t until 1947 that Americans could begin purchasing ‘affordable’ sets. It was the postwar boom in manufacturing and disposable income and increase in leisure time that allowed this to happen. In 1962 as much as 90% of American households had a TV set.
You see where this is going. Am I in the loony bin? Are TV’s this important? Can we stop and really examine our lives a minute? I suppose I am one of ‘those’ people who had given up on TV a long time ago for things like life or the occasional public radio show. Sure I’ve enjoyed the occasional endless channel surfing at my girlfriend’s mother’s home but it is a passing interest. The economics of the television are too powerful to contend with unless you flip the switch or toss it out the window.
In fact, I invite my fellow Americans to take their precious TVs and toss the things out their windows on June 12th and go ride bikes this summer. Maybe even talk to your loved ones or walk your dog. Walk a neighbor’s dog, garden, cook, start a social club, brew beer, read, knit, make art, make love, make pancakes. Do anything but sit on your duff and take in the endless stream of commerce. Paddle your way down a river and take in that stream. Just remember your sunscreen.
I am interested in living a kind of pre-industrial revolution life style of the singular artist in the studio. Then again I like Andy's factory. How does does human experience of time and space change through the machine and info-tech ages into 21st century culture? There are indeed numerous connections that can be traced back into history many strong comparisons but what for the mutations of both individual and cultural value systems? Our sense of time, space and data is drastically altered from those of old, and this is what shapes our reality today. We are different people with the same internal hardware but with different external pressures. If we were cars, we'd be scrapped for better models by now. So much for intelligent designers tinkering the universe into harmony. Someone somewhere along the way through a fatty wrench into the machine if there ever was one to throw.