Saturday, February 28, 2009

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Left work to head into the city. Took the W to 23rd and got off, walked to Madison Square Park. Had a sit for about an hour in the failing late afternoon light. This is absolutely my most favorite non-Central Park. There is a lot foot traffic in this park. So you can sit there for an hour watching a few hundred people walk by . . . bankers, bums, students, schlubs, kids, parents, dogs, fatties, thinnies, students, octogenarians, etc. Good place. Damn fine place. Plus, the spirit of Chicago pal Daniel Burnham grins down upon the place.

So. After that, a long meandering walk to Caren Golden Fine Arts where fellow classmate Bradley Castellanos had an opening. It was the typical too-crowded-cant-really-look-at-the-work-opening. Usual cast of SVA classmates + Jerry Saltz. Jeff Goldblum was there for about 30 seconds. Weird. He was gone before I had a decent look at him. Bradley's paintings looked great. I need to go back and take a look again when it's quieter and less crowded. I met my former Disnarians Nellie and Alessandra there. We left and went to Bombay Talkie for some food and drinks. I love those two. Nellie's always been good to me--what with Thankgiving with the family and all--but I'm also starting to warm toward Alessandra a bit. She's kind of charming, actually. In a way.

I had to walk to the studio during lunch yesterday to measure the dimensions of the big, framed Ape Machine drawing. (In background, lower drawing.) (It's 92 9/16" x 47 1/16", if you were wondering.) There is a possibility that I someone might buy it through Lyons Wier Ortt. Normally--if it sold--I'd dump that money right on the smoldering pile of student loan debt. But considering how crappy the economy is, I think I'm going to just hold on to that money. I still haven't made up my mind. It kind of kills me to not put that money (again, if I get it . . . if)on the loans. (What the hell is my problem? Jesus.)

Of course, I stopped by Oh So Good! Deli for some kimbap.

Nothing much else to say. Yoga last night with Megan. Completed my first handstand. I was a completely wiped out after that. I couldn't stop yawning during the last 20 minutes of class. Then home for dinner, had a few beers and went to bed. Pure adrenaline.

Photos: after months of foundation work--seems like almost a year now--they've finally started erecting some stuff at the renovation site of the Museum of the Moving Image.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Into Manhattan immediately after work for an appointment in Union Square. I was twenty minutes early so I strolled around the neighborhood a bit. Union Square is one of my least favorite parks in the city. Too many junkies, faux punkz and NYU students. Great greenmarket, however. (Favorite non-Central park so far: Madison Square Park.)

On the 6 to the 7 to the studio. A had the place to myself for an hour or so before Steve came in. Teddy arrived about an hour later. I got a fair amount of work done today. I could've kept working but I like leaving at a point when I know where I'll pick up the next day. There is something positive about this drawing. A lighter mood? Can't really put my finger on it.

On the walk back the to train, I was thinking about how exhausted I was last year, how hard I was pushing myself through the day--White Plains to Disney, Disney to Studio, Studio to Home, repeat until numb. I'm glad to have shucked off that routine for this, entirely local one.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Sunday: A rarity: I had the apartment to myself. I stayed in the apartment for most of the day napping and reading. Finally walked to the studio through the drizzle and Eve was there. We talked for a bit but I felt not the slightest inclination to work so we walked to the Shannon Pot for a couple of burgers and beers.

Walked home under clearing skies--I saw stars!--only to drift in and out of the front room and the Oscars broadcast. Eh. I didn't see any of the movies this year. Probably won't see any of the movies next year either. I don't care. But I'm annoyed that Sean Penn won something. There is something about that guy that makes my skin crawl. He strikes me as the kind of person that's had the good fortune to be successful for his entire life. He's never really had to eat shit or make compromises or risk crushing unemployment for sticking to his beliefs. As a result, he seems to carry with him this kind of stunned and indignant disbelief that everyone doesn't share his views and moral fortitude. As if the result of his success was the result alone of his unwavering certitude and not the result of singular luck and opportunity. He reminds me of those trust fund kids in grad school who would never let a job--said like they just had to put a turd in their mouth--get in the way of their "practice."

Sean Penn: what an ass. Trust fund grad students: what asses.

Today: Blah. Work. Blah blah blah. Wakka wakka. Then I walked over to the main post office in LIC to get some of my Dover Publishing books on costume. I was headed to the studio when I saw a girl ride by me on a bike at the corner of Jackson Ave and 21rst. It was Tova. Tova is my most-often randomly spotted person I ever see in NYC. Seriously. She outweighs all coincidental run-ins by four or five to one. She stopped and we talked a bit. Plans next week for food in the neighborhood as she's now a resident of LIC. (She was in the early running for studiomate-ship when we were signing the lease back in June 2006 but she had to drop out at the last minute.)

Studio: eh. Something. I had to push the contrast really far so the graphite lines are visible. The drawing is not this dark. But something is coming.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

I had a dream about Sometimes Girlfriend last night. This usually only happens once a year or so. I had another one back in December. That was 2008's dream. Maybe this one was the 2009 dream? Maybe my brain has decided to get it out of the way early this year. The dreams are unvarying, always very prosaic: the two of us are just sitting, awkwardly exchanging pleasantries, presumably trying to normalize things, I guess. The only odd part in the dream came when when I excused myself to use the restroom. The reflection in the medicine cabinet mirror was not my own: I was taller, broader, much fatter and more bear-like. I had an enormous mullet-y, hay bale of wooly-yet-loose black hair on my head and my face wasn't my own . . . I was older, puffier, jowlier, and looked like I've lived a hard life full of whiskey and sucker punches. I think I might have had a mustache of the big bristly variety. In short, I looked like one of those obese, horribly sunscorched guys I used to see around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in May right around the time of the Indy 500. The kind of guys who wear wraparound sunglasses and carry their little purple velvet bag of Crown Royal. The kind of guys who buy used jetskis and park them on their front lawns and then puke thin Coors Light vomit all over them. I kept calmly saying to myself in the dream, "I don't think this is right . . .I don't think this is right. " I'm not sure what my improved appearance meant in the context of the dream. The SGF dreams always make sense to me: fixing what's always been broken. But this little slice of the dream made absolutely no sense.

A few unrelated images today--I had a long walk to the studio after lunch at Poodam with Nicole.  (She joked that she wouldn't frown when I ordered food that had a face; I ordered a fish dish and it came with a face, a really ugly spiky fish face. I couldn't have planned it better.) I had the studio to myself today. Pure pleasure. Me and Van Morrison. (There, I admitted it. I like Van's early albums--Astral Weeks, Moondance, His Band and The Street Choir, et. al.) But there is a place along Skillman--I want to say it's abandoned but I'm not sure--that I'd love to buy and make my own. It's big enough that I could break it up and have someone else share the space. I could have a nice rooftop thing. Rough living but good living. It's kind of isolated, which I like. I could probably fence in something so I could get a dog again. Ah, fuck. But of course I have no money, no capital, etc. Blah blah blah.

Whur is mah jetski, muhfuka . . . (puking sounds)

Friday, February 20, 2009

Hmm. I'm really trying to draw this one out before I start painting by numbers. So it might not progress as the other drawing have in the past. Graphite lines don't photograph well.

Walked to the studio from work today. (Surprise.) Steve was there when I arrived. He told me the gallery had cut this days from four to two. (And they cut them from five to four at back in the fall.) So. Shit. I hate to see that happen to anyone. I think (I hope) I'll be holding on to my job though all of this. I'm the only designer on staff.  Oddly, I'm not all that stressed out. Maybe I should be. But I've been laid off to many times over the years--out of work for months at a stretch--that I guess I'm not that afraid of it anymore.

Before Rosa Acre.

After Rose Parks.

You figure it out. Daniel has.

Uneventful day yesterday. Work. I walked from work to the studio and picked up a bottle of Junipero gin from Anchor Distillery & Brewery. (They make make one of my favorite beers, Anchor Steam.) I worked on the drawing for a bit (camera battery was dead so no photo) but spent most of the time staring into space and thinking . . . oh, and working on little sketches. I'd like to think this drawing out a little more and avoid the normal make - it - up - as - I - go - along approach. But I'd always like that to happen. And it never does. So. Then home and dinner--lentil and rice tacos. Then a sip of gin and about half of Fahrenheit 451. No movie looks more dated than a "futuristic" movie from the late 60s / early 70s. Assuming the Mod look was the look of the future . . . well, that was a mistake. Link

Thursday, February 19, 2009

I live a few hundred feet from the Museum of the Moving Image. They're undergoing an expansion so they're responsible for 50% of the apartment-shaking, pile-driving construction goodness that's been disrupting our days since last spring. (The other 50% is an expansion of Kaufman Astoria Studios into the empty lot that used to sit so nicely and greenly directly across from our building. It released a rich weedy odor of yellow in the fall and attracted all kinds of birds--starlings and house sparrows, mainly, but still. Better than nothing and it was practically a wildlife preserve in this concrete-y neighborhood.) I noticed back in the fall that the museum filled in with concrete the little dirt basins surrounding these two trees. The scaffolding and trailers, etc. limit the amount of sidewalk space and there are dozens if school tours lining up outside along this area . . . so I'm assuming they did this to increase the available amount of level sidewalk space? Seems like there would be a better way to do this, however. Fill it it with wooden slats? Leave golf-ball sized holes in the concrete so some water and oxygen could get in?

On the walk to work today I passed the construction site for the Frank Sinatra School of the Arts (yet another huge construction project within 1,000 of the apartment) and watched four guys attempt to install a gigantic pane of glass--I'm guessing it was 6' by 8' if not larger. The seal broke on the vacuum pumps they were using to move the glass and the glass fell two or three feet to the ground. Shit. It didn't break but the foreman of that group was pissed off. The air around the workers became clotted with obscenities.

Yesterday: work. (Ah, work.) Then home for a snack and a long talk with my mom, and then a long talk with Margaret, then a voice message to Marlene. Yoga (again) with Megan at 8. My lower back was really tender at the end of class but it's feeling fine this morning. I had a shower and a few micheladas with dinner. I was hoping they'd spark a little feeling of summer but they just felt out of place. Sad.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Two photos on the walk to work today. Another one of Astoria's weird nightclubs, Posidonion (Slogan: Home of the eye-watering bulbs of the Sea God!) and a photo of the neatly-aligned, color-coded traffic barriers. (The construction guys have moved the entrance from our street to the next street over which cuts down considerably and the number of dumptrucks / cranes / juggernauts that are backing into the site and almost literally scraping our front stoop with their bumpers.)

Yesterday: Another day at work. Out the door at four and into the city for an appointment. After the appointment, I met Leat* in Union Square at the statue of Gandhi--it's our usual meeting place . . .

"Meet you at Gandhi at 6."


As always, a good time. When to some French bistro-y place on University. I got the green salad with goat cheese croutons and Leat the French onion soup. Two Guinesses. A lot of talk. Then a shared creme brulee and a chamomile tea for her and a Woodford on the rocks for me. Then home for bed.

(*Check out the Mr. Pink and Wolf videos on Leat's site.)

I'm listening to Suraiya's annual mix right now. A lot of disco-inspired hipster music--it's amazing how that sound has infected so much music being made now. It sounded bad back when it was current and 30+ years have done nothing to make those sounds more palatable. I'm tired of irony in art these days. Irony is the new sincerity. Yes, too much sincerity is a bad thing as well--think Celine Dion or Oprah--but there has got to be some hard-to-balance-upon poise you can find between the two extremes. Irony is just a form or protection, a way to wiggle out of any kind criticism that may land upon your work.

Anyway, the mix isn't as bad as last year (sorry, Ray-ray) but I can't see anything making the cut. But I'm not through the whole thing yet. Maybe there is some hope? Doubtful.

(Oh, wait. That Bag of Hammers song by Thao Whatshername is on there. That's pretty good. I saw Thao at the Bowery Ballroom in the fall with Anaheed. Thao was a charismatic performer sandwiched in between a bunch of screechy grrrly singer-songwriters. She put them all to shame mainly because she just came out and let the music arrive naturally. All of the other performers . . . well, performed. There was a lot of angst and affect and a lot of propping up of the music through attitude. And that did nothing but underscore how shoddy the music was.)

Monday, February 16, 2009

President's day. Slept in-ish. Finished watching 8 1/2. Then took a nap. Then yoga with Megan. Then home, shower, quick bite and off to the studio. Worked for a bit. Teddy and I went to get burgers at Jackson Ave where the guy next to us discreetly asked us (me and Teddy) if we lived together. I've never had people assume I was gay before I started hanging out with Teddy. Must be Teddy.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Walked to the studio today. As always. Got to sixes of Brooklyn: Pale Ale and and the Lager. The reason? A hanging party. Some of the old framed work back from the gallery (they sent all of it back) was hanged/hung by Teddy and Steve. They're both professional art handlers. I just worked a bit, drank a beer, ate a cookie or two and tried to avoid looking at their ass cracks. Gabriela came by after for a few beers and a talk, then a few beers and a lentil burger at a local bar.

Started a new drawing. The new character is called Leatherheart. For now. It's a big drawing--4' x 8'--so, of course, most of the photographs will be kinda crappy. Easing my way into it.

Walked to the studio yesterday and took these two photographs of the new Holiday Inn building that opened near work in LIC. Of course--like almost every building thrown up in LIC in the last three years--it's monstrous and thoroughly inappropriately-scaled for the surrounding neighborhood, easily quadruple the height of any of the original buildings around it. Hey, but taller is better right? Touch the face of God and all that? Am I right or am I right or am I right? Or am I right? I was less annoyed when I found out it was hotel rather than a condo building. I'm not sure why. The curved face toward the top of the tower gives it a little Dubai flavor. Dubai in LIC.

Patricia and I went to a performance last night in LIC--(Re)Develop (Death Valley) at the Chocolate Factory. The purported theme of the show was the redevelopment of LIC. It was a combination of video, dance, performance, music, poetry, and, um, cooking, I guess? The show ended with the cast eating dinner. Everything that proceeded it was a oblique slurry of nonsense.

At the front of the stage was a screen of what appeared to be four tall, opaque vellum columns; they vaguely recalled a kind of cityscape of generic towers. These screen-columns were suspended on thin steel cables running across the breadth of the stage, and there were several sets of these screen-columns dispersed through out the length of the stage, giving the space layered quality. The performance began with video (projected on to the screen closest to the audience) of an interview with a 70+ year old life-long resident of LIC. (I wish I knew his name.) This short video possessed some potential but every time this charismatic gent--the undisputed star of the show--started to dig into an interesting anecdote, a jarring edit brought us to the beginning of another interesting anecdote . . . and that anecdote then was interrupted to bring us to the beginning of another interesting anecdote and so on. While I understand this is meant to indicate the interruption of lives as neighborhood are torn down and rebuilt by developers, how history is simply excised out of existence when these new sterile towers are erected, I simply don't care in the context of this piece. The whole performance would carried a great deal more poignancy if the LIC resident had been allowed to give us a few warm and textured stories. The sole human connection for the audience regarding the violent act of redevelopment was cheekily dismissed.

Not a smart decision. What followed was a jumbled salmagundi of unreadable post-modern elements. The vellum tower-screens were shifted slightly and rearranged; some were removed entirely to reveal a performer cycling through a routine of stilted, spastic movements. Stage elements--glasses, rugs, etc--were also moved around and rearranged. A dancer shuffled across the stage in a sweeping gestures, her feet swaddle in rag-blankets. A small tower of trays, teapots, glasses and jars--all symbols of the home, kitchen, comfort--was erected and then rained upon. (Actually, that wasn't half bad and possessed a semi-poetic quality that everything else lacked.) The climax started with a loop of Alec Baldwin's excoriating dialogue from David Mamet's film Glengarry Glen Ross--one of the few pleasurable moments in the show as Baldwin's scorching douchebag performance as Blake is fantastic. However, could you get any more heavy handed? This dialogue was then repeated again and again at an ever increasing by one of the female performers while the other players herky-jerked around. This climax was then uncoiled while the performers rearranged the set accompanied by a love ballad--it was Valentine's Day after all!--strummed and sung by the show's audience-side tech. This tune was followed by another projected video of some quiet shots of landscape and ruined buildings in Death Valley. This visual elements were decent enough--it's tough to make the desert look bad--but they were accompanied by a series of self-conscious fade in/fade out voiceovers meditating on time, ruin, etc. (I couldn't quite catch the gist of them but they offered nothing substantial to the visuals.) During this video, the delicious smell of food filled the theater. The stomach-growling odor of simmering garlic and tomatoes combined with the barren shots of soil, rock and scrub was an odd juxtaposition. I'm not sure if this was intentional but it was interesting juxtaposition.

Finally, all screens were pulled back and the lights brought up to reveal our happy family of performers--four of them--sitting around a kitchen table, bantering and enjoying a meal of pasta, crusty bread and red wine. See? Beyond all of the cruelty, spastic movements and Alec Baldwin-ing about, there is a human element, a heart, here in LIC. Annnnnnd . . . scene! At our applause--prompted by a aforementioned audience-side tech because we couldn't tell if we were dismissed yet--the performers all turned and warmly toasted us with their glasses.

Whew. Overall, pretty bad. I'm most irritated by this presentation of the performers--all young and all presumably from elsewhere in the country (how often do you meet a native New Yorker who is involved in the arts?)--as being the heart/family/dinner of LIC, especially when the stories of a lifelong resident were so airily dismissed at the beginning of the show. Yes, yes, I understand it's a performance and that the performers may not live in LIC and may even come from as far away as, say, Greenpoint or Bushwick. But the sentiment is the same.

Some good things: some of the sound elements for the show were kind of cool. Many spots in on the stage were miked to pick up ambient sounds--the scritchhing sounds of the vellum screens being moved on their metal cables, the sounds of the glasses and plates at dinner, etc. These sounds gave an unexpected and pleasant texture to the performance. Also, the tech guy's guitar possessed a big, crystalline sound that I enjoyed. The rest? Meh.

Friday, February 13, 2009

I have entered the stony confines of Vikingo's Dungeon and lived to tell about it.

Last Friday night, I met a few of my coworkers for drinks at Sunswick, a decent beer-friendly little bar in the neighborhood. The plan was to guzzle a few for courage and head over to Vikingos. So we did--and we did--after two of the coworkers peeled off to head home. I don't blame them.

Important disclaimer: my memory of Vikingo's is a bit fuzzy because I'd checked the bulkier layers of my sobriety at Sunswick. Another disclaimer: I'm not really a nightclub kind of guy so there may be some charms to Vikingo's that are somehow escaping my perceptions. (However, I'm fairly certain you'd have a hard time qualifying Vikingo's as a nightclub however you care to define the term.) Here is what I remember: we arrived around 9 or 9:30 (or maybe 10--fuzzy) to a mostly empty place. There was a mandatory coat check. Uh, okay. The walls carried on the faux-castle wall theme of the exterior and they were decorated with candelabras, sconces, animal skins and various swords and axes. The three or us--me, Sir Beebsalot, and the Ladies Guinnevere, and Dulcinea--sat down at one of their long, wooden viking-esque tables. Then we were given a two-for-one drink tickets which was actually kind of nice--I don't exactly understand the point of the carnival-type drink ticket at this kind of establishment but my gullet didn't disparage the free Brooklyn (though my liver certainly did.)

There was a dj "spinning" on what appeared to be a laptop (fuzzy) and the music was universally awful. I remember that distinctly. Useless club shit, the kind of unimaginative generic junk that only serves the purpose of making it impossible to hear anything anyone is saying. There was a pointless red laser light show displayed on the wall directly behind and above our table. (You can barely see it in the bottom photo, centered right above the hafts of the battle axes, you scury dog.) I think some more people came in at one point (fuzzy) but I don't think they stayed very long--as you can see from all of the photographs, we were kings of the castle that night. (Hoo hoooooo!) At one point, we got to put on a viking helmet. (Not sure where it came from: fuzzy.) Or, more accurately, the ladies put on the helmet. I've heard the vikings has a lots of head vermin.

So Vikingos: Eh. I would never go back as anything other than pure curiosity. I can't imagine anyone would have a decent time in there.

Other stuff: got out of work early for the long President's Day weekend. Sure, why not? Came home, got the W2s from Disney and this new place, and three thick envelopes filled with receipts and headed over to get the taxes out of the way. Yes, yes, fine, I went Jackson Hewitt. I don't care. I'm functionally retarded when it comes to math so filling out a tax form on my own is entirely beyond my capacity. Then Bravo for the week's groceries. I've been eating a lot of raw beets lately. Cut them up, salt them a bit and place them in a plastic container. Good healthy snacking that turns your poop purple.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

A few items left in the street by the construction guys who're putting up the buildings across the street. Coupla packs of Newports and a slice of pepperoni. MMM mm.

I awoke around 6:30 today. I guess I need to get thicker curtains or heavier blinds, something, because--with my room's direct eastern exposure--I'm awake as soon as the sun comes up. It's even worse in the summer. Rather than fight it, I just get out of bed.

It's 55 now, sunny then shady then sunny, the result of a lowish deck of varigated clouds . It's windy as hell, big oceans of air pushing past you. (I remember these kinds of winds used to pour off of Lake Michigan and if you spent an hour or so out getting buffeted by them, it almost felt like you'd taken a bath: you'd been scoured clean by the gale.) I walked to walk along 36th Avenue today as I always do. 36th is lined with sycamores for a few short blocks. The wind had knocked down all of the sycamore seed balls and they'd burst open--millions of little chaffy seeds were cascading down the street. I feel like this is the kind of moody-yet-hopeful day that William Carlos Williams would've written a terse, oblique poem about. Thank god he's dead, eh?

Weird. Still weird about the studio. I don't feel terrible about not spending all of my spare moments in there but I also DO feel terrible about not spending all of my spare moments in there. There is some kind of shift going on, both in my how my brain functions and how I want to make work. I know I'll make work again--a lot of work--but it's just . . . ah, hell, I don't know. It's just. That's about all I can say.

After almost six months of audiobooks and podcasts, I've finally managed to work a little music into the rotation: Real Life by Joan as Police Woman. Studiomate Teddy turned me on to it. The band is fronted by Joan Wasser, girlfriend of Jeff Buckley at the time of his going-for-a- forever-swim in the Mississippi, and cohort of Rufus Wainwright. Pretty decent pedigree if you ask me. Definitely pop songs, but kind of lop-sided pop songs where you're not sure how or when the chorus is going to emerge. She's got a great voice, kind of lustful and sexy and cooing without being trite. She tends to phrase like a jazz musician, hitting on and off the beat, drawing phrases out or shortening them. Good stuff. I recommend it. (The video for my favorite song, Eternal Flame, is here. Unfortunately, it's not a very good video. Just listen to it with your eyes closed, okay?)

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Stupid fucking winter. It was 52 yesterday. I wore a light jacket. No scarf. I walked by a window on the way back to work yesterday afternoon. I saw my reflection and I was startled--I haven't seen my neck without a scarf around it six or more weeks. Of course, that was over today. Cold and windy and snowy.

I'm currently engaged in a project with my friend/self-appointed life coach, Britt. I'm trying to write her a positive email every day for the next 30 days. It's killing me. And I'm only seven days in.