Thursday, January 31, 2008

Not as long in the studio as I would've liked but long enough. I left early to meet Lucy--she's applying for some thing (free studio space or something) and needed to burn a dvd of an animation. She came over, we download the stuff to my machine and then couldn't figure out how the hell to export just the movie...all of the files kept coming along as well. Set things up ad hoc, burned the dvd, ran to the train, took the R to the E to 34th and dropped the stuff off at the 24 hour post office across from Penn Station. Left Lucy in line while I ran over to Penn Station to use the facilities...holy shit. It was like a Hieronymous Bosch painting in there: lepers and hunchback and owls forcing golden coins down a dwarf's throat. Wow. Back into Queens for some tacos and beer. Put Lucy in a car from New Enrico's and sent her back to Crown Heights.

As usual, walked to the studio today. My latest routine is to stop at the Oh So Good! Deli and pick up a few pieces of kim bop from their buffet. Normally, I desperately avoid any kind of deli buffets...but I feel safe with the kim bop and there's something in that taste combination of the seaweed and the cadmium-yellow daikon that I can't seem to sate lately. I usually get four pieces and a seltzer and walk across to the street the Queens court house and sit on the edge of the fountain in front of the court house. It looks as if the fountain (and surrounding benches) were recent resurface with red-brown granite. It's kind of tacky. But, then again, it is Queens. I should expect nothing less.

There seemed to be some kind of incident on the Pulaski Bridge right around sundown. Over the music, I heard the dull thump of a helicopter. I walked over the window and looked out to see an NYPD car pulled up in front of the gatehouse (?) used for raising and lowering the bridge, with the helicopter turning low circles a few hundred feet overhead. My eyesite isn't super sharp at that distance but it seemed to me that a cop jumped over the concrete wall separating the roadway (where his car was parked) from the sidewalk and then looked down into the water. I didn't see much after that but the helicopter peeled off after another two revolutions; then the cop car pulled away about a minute later and an NYPD boat passed down the Newtown Creek heading for the East River. Tragedy averted, I guess.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

White Plains, black squirrel.
The Bell Knight, a small yet detailed study for the Plague Idiots. If I'm not mistaken, Erin Thorne owns this mutha.

Usual work routine today. However, I managed to get something resembling a full night's sleep so I wasn't wrapped in so much wooly obfuscation.The day started off warm and drizzly, and was bright and windy as hell--with a considerable drop in temperature--by 1 pm. The day has lengthened enough now that the sun still illuminates the sky for most of the commute back to Grand Central. Which means I'm off the reading and on to the music--and staring out the window--again.

No studio again tonight. I split a half-carafe of wine at a Vernon Blvd wine bar with a friend from work--a fellow Queensian--and nibbled a bit of epoisse and morbier. (The taste of those cheeses threw me immediately back sent me back a decade to my 3 year anguished tenure at Sam's Wines and Spirits while pushing through undergrad in Chicago. They had a cheese shop back then and that's where I used to work. Or, rather, that's the place I used to hide from the customers and read in the back room.) Anyway, after the wine (which tasted exactly like WINE to my accomplished palate ) we walked down a few doors to Tournesol and some braised lamb and seared skate. The food was great but our waitress was a bit severe. Well, severe in the sense that she was rude and abrasive but didn't quite cross the line. Home for a few episodes of Ultraman (worst theme song EVER.)

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Just a few hours in the studio tonight. I am so tired that I ache. Fuck, I hate the commute to White Plains.

Monday, January 28, 2008

No studio today. Work: White Plains. Very little sleep last night, last night being a Sunday and Sunday has forever been my Night of Poor To No Sleep. This dates back to grade school. This Sunday night/Monday morning sleeplessness is due to the anxiety of The Week Ahead. If I have to work, or attend school, etc. Doesn't matter what. I'm not going to sleep well on a Sunday night. I hate it.

Lisa was in town. I met her and Anaheed at the Westside Tavern. (Or Bar. Or whatever.) A few drinks were had by all. Then a walk over to Bombay Talkie on 20 something and 9th. (Why do all restaurant websites make you listen to shitty lounge music? I don't understand.) Anaheed paid for my food. She lost a bet over the summer and that bet was a meal at Talkie. I ate like a king. And then Anaheed tried to bite off my thumb. Crazy bitch.

Seems like the only time I enjoy myself socially these days is when I hang out with Chicago people. A Chicago friend, Lucy, and her boyfriend, Scott, were in town a few weeks back. I met them along with another mutual Chicago friend, Suraiya (and her husband Monsur), and finally, I felt normal. No fronting, no douchebaggery. You could sit around and be yourself. Same thing tonight with the former Chicagoans. Sometimes I hate this place and all of the self-consciousness it instills.

Drawing: You Can't Kill the Rooster. From late 2001, part of the Married to the Sea series. Title inspired by David Sedaris's brother, Paul.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Ah. Trying to let the drawing draw itself. And it is. I'm overflowing with impatience, however.

Today: three egg soft scramble for breakfast. Made the mistake of trying veggie bacon. Awful. Not sure what I was thinking with that; perhaps only that the veggie bacon would clean up easier than the real thing. Finished up the collection of Winsor McCay animations from Netflix. I've loved McCay since I first stumbled upon a Little Nemo collection from Half-Price Books back in Indianapolis the summer before I moved up to Chicago. This is my first prolonged exposure to his animations. Amazing stuff. Clumsy, sure, and perhaps a little to long in some places--they clearly ran the film backwards and forwards in many instances for comedic effect (and most likely to extend the length of the cartoon.) Flaws aside, the animations have a fantastic life-like quality in the motions. Sure sign of an observant draughtsman. Loved it.

The usual walk to the studio along Northern Blvd to Jackson.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

That's a little better. But still...

Spent six or seven hours in the studio today but feel like I accomplished little. Spent most of the day listening to several Chess Records compilations.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Things are just not knitting together with this drawing.

I remember spending a month of so out in Palm Springs, CA with my parents; my grandma and aunt lived out there. This was back in 1975-76. I also remember bugging the shit out of my parents about endlessly going to 7-11 to collect these Slurpee monster cup. I don't think I even liked Slurpees...frozen coke? Are you kidding me? I just wanted the cool monster cups. I'm not positive but I think I got the entire series, maybe eighteen altogether. I can't remember.

I used these cups, too, in every day life for quite sometime. A few of them the lost over the years, cracked, dropped and broken, or just too gross for beverage use. The remaining cups were eventually retired and I kept in them stack up on a shelf in my bedroom for years. They made the move with me to Chicago and--once I set up my first studio in my apartment back in 1996 or so--they came back into use as studio items: they held clips, pen nibs, brushes, pencils, etc. In fact, I still use two of them to hold the fresh water for painting. And there are a few more scattered around the studio, still holding various bits of loose junk. Of the ten or so remaining, none are in good shape--the colors have faded, the lettering is chipped off, they're all scuffed and scratched from years of dishwasher muggings and stacking and restacking.

I decided to see if I could replace them via eBay. Attached is my first purchase.

Monday, January 21, 2008

In the studio for the full eight hours today. Made some progress but still have a long way to go. The Jewel Ape didn't quite turn out the way I planned. But I didn't really have a plan for it either.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

I kind of hate this drawing right now.

My friend Bradley told me once, "Sometimes you just have to eat shit" in regards to making working.

I have a spoon in my hand and a wide-open mouth...

Such conservative tastes.

I went up to the Whitney yesterday to see the Kara Walker retrospective before it closed. Arrived at noon; the galleries don't open on Fridays until 1 pm. I was not aware of this. So I walked over to the Met, paid my five bucks to get in, and walked around to murder an hour.

Whipped through the newly-opened European painting galleries, mid-to-late 19th c. The Impressionist and all of that stuff. I found a few paintings that appealed to me due to their modest size and subject matter. They are (from top to bottom):

William Nicholson, Primulas on a Table, 1927
Jean Beraud, The Church of Saint-Philippe-du-Roule, Paris, 1877
Gustave Caillebotte, Le Pont d'Argenteuil,
Eugene Boudin, On the Beach, Dieppe,

Man, I feel like such a conservative when - I'm - old - I - shall - wear - purple dowager but these paintings are so simple and humble and....they're just not trying to be anything other than paintings. They are records of painter processing what they see, nothing more. (Yes, an argument could be made about the beach and street-scene paintings being a lens through which we can view mid-19th c. French bourgeois blah blah blah, bling bling blah...but that's really more the purview of the art historian.) I don't connect with a vast majority of contemporary art: I feel frozen out because it seems the artists no longer allow themselves to be humble: bombast and extravaganza are the norm, and generally shoddy work is propped by framework of intellectual justification.

(Caillebotte's been sneaking up on me for the past decade years. He's an Impressionist-y but he's done a lot of odd, morbid still-lifes of butcher shops, chicken carcasses, beef tongues, etc. I really like the guy.)

Also spent some time in the Asian art halls of the Met. Quick quick, in and out but always good.

Kara Walker was pretty damn good. The silhouettes are flawlessly executed both technically and conceptual, weird violent poetic stuff. I'm less a fan of the projections which I thought were clunky but some of the videos made up for it.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Not quite six hours today and a tough six at that. Very hard time getting around to the work. Made a few phone calls, paced around a lot, fiddled with the music. (Wayne Shorter's Et Cetera and Adam's Apple for most of the afternoon, then Lightning Bolt's Hypermagic Mountain, then shuffle after that.)

Filled in the clouds and rendered SGF. The clouds bother me. They were inspired by an old, bad reproduction of a Chinese print depicting a dragon frolicking among the clouds. Difficult going so far with no clear direction showing itself.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Long day today. White Plains is becoming a grind. Too much work harnessed to too little time.

Added a few things today (no momentum on this drawing yet), hung the new studio sign, caught up with Teddy who was fresh back from Berlin. All of the studiomates were in tonight for the first time since Eve joined us. Beer was had by all.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

I only spent a few early evening hours in the studio tonight. Sketched in some bricks on the large structure and put some children in the clouds.

Spent a few hours walking through Forest Park today. Saw a lovely grove of tall pines. And a rooster. Yes, a rooster. A free range rooster in the dark heart of Queens. Doesn't really make sense, does it?

Seems like the park would be better in the spring, fall and summer. I've got to stop going out there in the winter.

After, I had a quick meal in Elmhurst at Minangasli, the vegetable-stuffed tofu for an appetizer and the fried shrimp with fresh chili, rice and jackfruit vegetables. Then a long walk along Woodside to 61rst--the 7 isn't running all the way out to Roosevelt due to construction--on the 7 and took the train the studio.

Morning: large four-egg soft scramble with garlic, red pepper, onion and smoked swiss and wheat toast. Then a redesign of the studio sign. Hyejin out, Eve in.


I'm fine with what's down but I'm struggling with the rest of the page. And I want to get the rest of the page roughed in before I go apeshit with the rendering. I'm in danger of wanting this drawing to be THE DRAWING. Which means I'm in danger of harnessing the imagery and pointing it toward one lumbering, heavy-handed Meaning. I've already introduced the verboten Sometimes Girlfriend character in this drawing and the last. But she just popped up in the way you occasionally bump into an acquaintance of the street so I'm letting her stay.

Friday, January 11, 2008


(Still the working title.)

Seven hours in the studio today, seven albums of under-listened music including trumpeter Donald Byrd's album Electric Byrd. Wow. There is a reason that album is's terrible. One of the many electric jazz albums made in the wake of Bitches Brew. However, Brian Eno's Music for Airports made up for the bad fusion.

Worked from home for a few hours this morning, watched an episode of Captain Scarlett, and then walked to the studio. Up along Steinway/39th Street over the Sunnyside railyards. Over to Queens Blvd, down that to Skillman, Skillman to Negar Alley, Negar Alley to the studio at 1 pm. It was cloud and damp but it didn't rain. About twenty minutes after I arrived, I look out the window and the air is translucent, grey-green with rain and shot through with thunderless pink lightning. Torrential rain for about an hour and then gradual clearing to a pellucid yellow sunset.