Thursday, September 21, 2006

Back after six days away: three in Chicago and and an equal number in Indianapolis. As we flew in this afternoon, I thought I would outsmart the pilot during the approach. For some reason, I ALWAYS get a window seat on the left side of the plane and, more often than not, we approach with Manhattan on our right, the plane centered on the Hudson. (Yeah, I am sure I should be saying port and starbucks or whatever, but I am a landlubber. One who lubs land. I lub the hell out of it.)

This time, as we approached and I could see Manhattan, I unbuckled and slid out and across the aisle. (The flight was barely half full.) Gotcha muthafucka! Just try and slip Manhattan by my now, Jack. I wanted to see if I could see the studio because at night I can see the planes lining up for the approach to LaGuardia. However, my now-right hand (or "starbucks" side) view allowed me an excellent view of...Brooklyn and Long Island. Manhattan slid by on the left. I mean, I can't complain: any view from a plane is tits but it wasn't the pair of tits I wanted.

Back on the ground (the scary approach that always looks like you're about the land in the water), in terminal to the luggage carousel. Bag grabbed and slide-y handle deployed. Walk to the taxi line and only a three minute wait. Terse cabbie and a flawless ride to the apartment. Up the stairs: unpack. Then a trip to refresh the groceries.

I am trying to suss out when a trip to the studio would be in order. I should dive right back in but I like the idea of giving myself ten days or so away from the place. Tonight, Patty is coming over for some beer and Mythbusters. Maybe we'll go get a roasted chicken or something.

I need a day or two to think about Chicago and Indianapolis.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

The weather has finally become fall-like, bright and sunny but coolish. You can still wear shorts but you'd better take another layer with your just in case. Today: my first wearing of a jacket in I don't know how long. Oh, it's a light jacket but I'm getting ready for the colder stuff.

I sleep heavily and almost perfectly in this kind of weather. Wrap myself up in blankets and plunge deep. This kind of experience only seems to happen during the transition from summer to fall. Finally I can sleep without the AC thumping on and off in cycles throughout the night, the buzzing and rattlling and clicking of the same, and the sticky flypaper sunlight peeking in so early in morning. The dreams are odd, too, filled with warping bizarre imagery. Last night it was black ducks with greasy elastic bodies extruding themselves out of the dark pewter boles of beech trees. It's difficult to shake off sleep on night like this. The alarm just isn't impetus enough to rise. But once I acclimate to this weather, I'm back to the lousy patchy sleep I normally get.

Yesterday. Slept late and heavily (see previous.) Up and sat at the computer to watch the Flash Gordon dvd. It's a pretty bad movie but, in a sense, good. It's very knowingly campy. However, everyone seems to understand this except Flash himself, Sam J. Jones. Everyone is walking around chewing up the scenery and Sam J. is just kind of a jock in a math class for advanced kids, seemingly sincerely trying to do the best he can. And I think this was the peak of his career, too. I recall a few terrible cop movies he made in the late 80/early 90 when his bulk had run from muscle to flab. Poor dude.

The costumes and sets for Flash Gordon are over the top: saturated color, brocades, beads, tassels, friezes, diases, sculptures and moving walkways. The sets--and, in a sense, the orchestral score--remind me of those gladiatory/Sinbad/Harryhausen epic films from the 60s. And the Queen soundtrack? It's perfectly awful. Everything about the movie locks together like a horrible, tacky puzzle. I don't want to love it but I can't help it. And I watched it so many times as a kid and I'd almost say that I know the dialogue and music cues better than any of the Star Wars trilogies. Yikes.

After Flash, I rode into Manhattan to get a roll of Arches paper, 156lb hot press. This is the first time I've actually purchases this kind of paper. I've used it before but that was a hand me down from the guy, Morgan, who had the studio next to mine at SVA. Bought two brushes--a 00 and a 000--because my old ones were getting ratty and tattered. Back on the 7 to the studio. Slice up the old print making paper I'd stretched: hope to use that for something else. Removed all of the 100s of staples used to affix that paper to the drywall and stretched the new paper. Quick process, but awkward and not something I can rush through. Set the fan up to up dry the paper and dedicated 40 minutes to hammering out more leaves of the Foliage Coat but it's almost finished. I didn't like that drawing for the longest time but now it's tightening up and I'm growing fond of it.

When I finished, I climbed the stairs to the roof to find access gloriously restored. Home to some cecina tacos and beer.

This morning: another sluggish, logy start. Full day of work. Nothing to mention. Madison Square Park for lunch, the current favorite again: squid with rice rolls. Tried to set up a job interview with a woman named Michael (?!) but I'm going out of town for the Boyle show; she told me to try again next week.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Forgot: climbed to the stairs to the studio roof so I could see the lights memorial for the Twin Towers. The door was locked. Devestating. I'll climb out the window and up the fire escape if I have to but that roof is mine.

Also, received my widescreen edition DVD of the 1980 Flash Gordon. I can't say for sure but I think one of the final scenes where the Hawkmen spell out "Thanks Flash" may be the impetus for the Leon drawing.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Can't escape 9/11 here and I don't much feel like talking about it. What is there to say that doesn't sound awkward? But I do remember finally shutting off the TV that day and watching Steve Martin's The Jerk, trading one kind of mindlessness for another, much preferable one.

Work: blah blah blah.

Studio: work work work.

Music: Neko Case's Fox Confessor Brings The Flood. Jesus. Especially "Maybe Sparrow"

Finished up the "Foliage Coat" but for a few minor touches. No blackbirds, no Root Babies. I am thinking about giving them a rest until I get back from Chicago and the Lisa Boyle opening.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

In the studio all weekend. I love it. Goddamn it, I love it.

Saturday was warm and humid...but not a summer warm and humid. Rather, an Indian Summer kind of heat. It's the kind of 80 degree heat that falls in early October, the kind of weather that would prompt me and T and take a walk around Eagle Creek back when we lived in Indianapolis. The kind of day that makes you scramble out of the house before the fall nastiness sets in. Solid six hours of work. Teddy came in for the last few hours. Patty met me at the studio around 7. We had a beer on the roof and left. Took the train over to 36th Ave. Got off and walked along a remarkable lively street to Arkham Thai. (I love a Thai place named after a town in Lovecraft literature.)

Sunday. Rachael came by early to pick out some work for a show in Michigan. Afraid I don't have much to offer: most of the recent work is promised elsewhere and I'm not prolific enough to have new stuff. Steve came in shortly thereafter to drop off his bike and head to a bar Uptown to watch the Browns game. I spent the afternoon working on Rootbabies, blackbirds and leaves. Dropped a bruised sky into the Foliage Coat drawing. Glad to get that thing over with: it's been lingering on the drawing board since mid-May.

Took a break at 3 pm. Skies had grown gray and moody. Walked over to LIC proper. Along the way I ran into an old guy, grizzled, unshaved, watery-blue eyes...looked like an old longshoreman: black pants, grimy high-neck heavy blue sweater. Wanted some change for a buttered roll (strange that he asked from something so specific.) I gave him a handful of change from my bag, fed the coins into a cupped palm with fingers topped by nails grown to yellowed talons. Fetched a six pack of Anchor Steam, some crackers and a prim block of smoked cheddar. Sat on the loveseat near the window and snack while working on the last of the Gygax books (it's a painful read.) Noticed as unusual number of monarch butterflies in the skies at that time. I'd see two or three a minute, in fact more monarchs that birds. Very odd for the industrial neighborhood. I assumed they were migrating but more that a few seemed to be intent on chase each other around. Mating? Who can tell. Went on the roof to see if I could notice more: not such luck to the view was lovely, as always. Paced east and west and north. Can't believe the good fortune I have to work in the building.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Went on that interview today at the publishing company. Oh, it sounds good...maybe TOO good. Part-time, of course, but the hourly rate is staggering, actually. I hope my eyes didn't pop out of my head and explode while my ears shot steam a la Tex Avery when they mentioned the hourly rate. So. Hope that happens.

Off to meet Katie and Alex and the Old Town for some beer.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

This job: why do I keep it? Ah, yes. I need to pay rent. And they're flexible with my schedule. And I feel the mighty foreboding of the 6 ton black Acme safe of impending student loans swaying over me on a fraying rope. So. Keep it I will.

Uneventful day otherwise. Walked up 5th to get the the 7 stop at Bryant Park and was amazed by the quality of the late day light. Thick and butter-and-honey colored, slathered all over the building, street and attractive post-work professional women walking the avenue.

At the studio: three solid hours of blackbirds. A new neighbor, Neil, from down the hall came over to introduce himself and borrow some scissors. (I bet I never see those blue-handled babies again...and after I went to the trouble of stealing them from Gallery 37 back in '02.) iPod on shuffle with everything going well until one of my favorite Keith Jarrett tunes popped up, Gypsy Moth. Listened to that twice (as loud as possible) and then click-wheeled my way into the first Jarrett "American Quintet" boxset and settled of the second live Fort Yawuh disc. (I think it's appropriate since Dewey Redman died over the weekend.) Man, what a smoking band live. Right on the edge of noise and abstraction but never losing sight of the melody and some sense of form. Everything late Coltrane wanted to be but couldn't. I feel a itchy Keith Jarrett jag coming on for the next week of so.

Just starting the last of the Gary "Mr. D & D" Gygax novels. The start off strong...and then lose any sense of drama or, well, anything compelling. Certainly, the guy has a vast imagination; in fact, (yes I am a total fucking nerd) I'd say the guy is about 65% responsible for my being an artist. Anyway, the last novel should go down quickly and then I can return to the heady, effete literature I normally consume: Encyclopedia Brown.
Such a long frustrating day at work. I'll leave it at that. There are times when I think my "career" choice of graphic designer is just as majestically flawed as my decision to be an artist. Jeebus.

I met Jung after work for a Korean dinner just down the block from work. Very very tasty. Gleaming white bowls filled with steaming piles of seafood, smokey transparent noodles, rice and pickled vegetables. I don't know the names of the dishes but I know the tastes well: I've had them all before. With full bellies, we walked down to Madison Square Park. The U.S. Open was being televised on a huge screen at the northern end of the park (the temporary poles-and-canvas screen erected right over some black, sheen-y war (I'm assuming) memorial, the place I normally park my ass and people watch with the iPod.) Jung and I walked a few dozen yard south of that and found an open bench. We spent the next few hour chatting is an odd elliptical fashion. We weren't focused but the talk was honest. It was endearing and I was fond of the experience; I found a small part of an unpredatory and unposioned (and, hence, unused) part of my brain coming to life. We walked down 23rd afterward; I got on the V at 6th, and Jung continued on to the 1 on 7th.

Last night: the Dark Matter opening at some gallery in Soho. Didn't even bother to take a look at the work, which was profoundly lame on my part. Got stuck in the room just past the entrance and stayed there, chatting to anyone familiar who came within reach. I could only manage to fish one can of MGD out of the ice-crusted trash can before it was gone.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Took the long train up to Rhinebeck (I think?) to Tim and Cathy's yesterday. Didn't notice this when I sat on the train but the window in my cars had cataracts--a grainy, grayish film over almost every single window in the car. (See, when you board the train at Grand Central, the windows on the Hudson river-side of the train look out on nothing--just the vacant, unlit, cavernous tracks in GC. So, as you could see, I couldn't tell. Exactly.) So the first forty-five minutes of the ride were not nearly all they could be.

A few stops in, a passenger got up from the opposite, non-river of the car and I slid quickly into that seat: the window-cataracts were considerable but not quite so advanced on this side of the train. So I made due and stared at the greenness, the tiny houses stacked up against tracks, the occasional vista of wooded and authoritative hills with a large house perched like a pigeon. Another 30 minutes and we hit Beacon and a window that had received partial treatment for it's vision problems opened up on the OTHER side of the train. So I switched back and could finally see what I need to see: river, boats, bridges, white long-necked water fowl.

(I noticed all of the self-consciously arty-looking people--people in t-shirts with bearing cryptic logos and slogans, people with entertaining haircuts and facial hair, people with odd wee hats--exited the train at Beacon, most likely for Dia. While I have some misgivings about my chosen "career" as an artist, I've long made a concerted effort not to wear it is such a mannered style. I've never cared for that kind of display, the one that instantly tells the world what the person is: I'm "punk" or I'm a "dyke" or I'm "hardcore" or I'm an "artist"; it's funny, too, because the people who impose those kind of uniforms on themselves are also the one who do the most bitching about being judged or marginalized and/or stereotyped. If I dressed up every day in a gray Civil War costume, groomed and displayed the ubiquitous Ken Burns-documentary whiskers, shot Yankees with a musket, and died of cholera before the age of 30, I think I could understand people assuming a few things about me.)

Arrived at Poughkeepsie in the early afternoon. I quick run to the liquor store, and another stop at the worlds most confusing grocery store. (I can't remember the name but it seemed to be a regional chain and the name started with "a".) There was no standard arrangement of aisles: you would find bread in one aisle and then in another aisle as well, the deli was nowhere near the meat market, the frozen foods were spread out in three different areas, there where two separate areas for checkout. A totally confusing, food-filled labyrinth. I kept expecting to see Theseus battling the minotaur near the canned goods.

Away from Minos Market and up into the hills. Pulled in and was greeted my Tim and Sonny, my replacement dog. (Sonny's no T, but he's a mighty fine dog: tall and lean, a dignified old gent with a decade plus behind him, a mutt with a heavy dose of Collie. Many relentless sticks and frisbees were thrown over the weekend, many haunches were pushed and ribcages thumped and necks roughly scratched. Man, I miss T.) Dinner was fish prepared in a Mexican style with blueberry/white peach pie for dessert. Beers and margaritas, some board games and gin rummy. (I laid waste in gin rummy. I have always followed a strict scorched-earth policy when I play.) I slipped out of the house around 10 pm and the skies had cleared; I dragged a lawnchair over into one of the clear areas on the property and spent a half-an-hour just looking up. Sonny kept banging his frisbee against the arm of the chair until it sunk in that I wasn't going to respond. Then the just harrumphed down in the dewy grass and kept me company.

Asleep at 2 am. Up at 8:00. The night was the perfect degree of cool. It wasn't cold but three blanket were welcome. I finished off the cold, oily coffee from the night before and took a walk up along the ridge under the power lines. I miss these kinds of walks. I used to get my fill when I still lived in Chicago and returned to Indiana frequently; no longer. The rhythm was steady. Up the hill, down the hill on a two-tracked dirt path. On the ascent, I walked past the outcroppings of sharp, flaky shale bearded with yellow grass and ferns. On these hills stood the huge pylons which supported the powerlines. Often I would hear a crackling and buzzing sound which I attributed to insects until I stopped dead and tilted an ear upward: the powerlines were making that noise which was a little disturbing. I would spot the odd rabbit in the grass, or a mantis or giant millipede (see photo), or a hawk lurking on the pylon. Down the same path into a marshy area with serried stands of cattails and ranks of squat sumac. In these marshes, the dirt tracks often held pools of water from small streams crossing the valley. The dirt softened to mud and dozens of tiny brown-and-gold frogs shot into the water when I approached. (Okay, maybe they're toads. What do I look like, a herpetologist. Jesus.) I actually managed to catch one frog and take a picture. I also managed to catch and handle a whip-thin, hornet colored garter snake. (No photo. Sorry.) Walked this way for two or three miles--stirring up a perpetual cloud of butterflies and grasshoppers as I went--before turning and heading back to the house.

Burgers and potato salad for lunch with roasted corn. God Bless America. Tim downloaded some stuff from my iPod and gave me some Albert Ayler.

The train ride back was uneventful if crowded. Got a good seat next to an window without cataract. Listened to music but nothing to mention.

Tomorrow: work. Teddy's opening after work.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Long day at the studio yesterday: eight hours. More Root Babies and blackbirds. Still, with all the time there, I felt like I didn't accomplish much. No music jumped off the playlist at me.

The remains of Ernesto roughed up the day. Cool and gray and rainy--just like the previous week. However, a new element was added: wind. Gusty all day. Spent more than a few moments watching the sheets of drizzle blow past the window. The vets at the residence center across the street still kept the music going and there were always a handful of dudes outside, parked under the awning in the exercise yard.

After the studio, a stop at Teddy's to check out Colby's party. Some beer and some tequila, a handful of chips. Talked to some pretty pretty girls. Very young. So.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

It's been gray for the past week. Cool and gray. It's a decent break from the heat of the rest of the summer but enough already.

Yesterday: Slept late and it felt good. Up to putter around. I ordered a CD of bird calls from Amazon and it arrived yesterday. Man, it's all kinds of fucked up. The track listings are all wrong. Unfortunately (or fortunately) I only know about six bird calls and was able to correctly rename the tracks I needed--red-winged blackbird (obviously), cardinal, robin, etc. Got them loaded onto the iPod and ready for play at the studio.

I'm interesting in playing the calls of birds I learned as a kid in Indiana, particularly while I am working. Things like this, these bird calls, are in a way more like smells in the effect that have of instantly cutting through time and memory. You know what I mean? There are certain smells--orange blossoms, damp concrete, that yellow smell you get from roadside weeds in the high summer--for me that cut through all the strata of clutter, analyzation and "sophistication" that I've gained over the years. (The taste of raw almonds has the same effect.) I don't feel sentimental when I experience these moment but it is pleasurable, like a wee memory orgasm: a flash of white, the mind is filled with one particular sensation for a second or two, and then the world slowly un-dissolves into solidity again.

Saw Descent with Heather yesterday afternoon. Really bad movie. Plot: a bunch of hot women go spelunking in North Carolina, get lost, and have to find their way out all while being attacked by Gollum's nastier, strictly carnivorous older brothers. (Oh, and one sister with pale, glistentening, fish-white knockers.) Just a remarkably stupid movie.

Heather came along to Utrecht so I could get some new, fine brushes: the old ones are getting ratty. The she came with me over to the studio for a chat and a visit to the roof. Then over to Broadway in Astoria for a meal at Viva El Mariachi. Cesina was delicious.

Today, again, promised to be cold and cloud-lousy, rainy and windy. So a long sojourn in the studio.