Sunday, April 26, 2009

Saturday: rode over to the studio around 1 pm--lovely day, hot, sunny, 86--dropped the bike off and headed into Chelsea to see Picasso show. The line was too long--I'll go back when the summer Fridays kick in next week. I started to wander over to Madison Square Park for a sit . . . when I saw a Sikh. And then another. And then four or five. And then a few entire families. Sikh Day Parade! I accidently ran into this last year after returning from the NY Botanical Garden with Dorothy--free food, man. Free food. It was a bit late in the afternoon for get the samosas but I did get a few big plates of basmati rice, sag paneer and whatever that chick pea dish is. I also got a plastic cup filled with a pink liquid--it looked like institutional hand soap but tasted mildly sweet (and not soapy) and was very refreshing. Wedged my way into/out of the crowd and found a empty patch of wrought iron fence and leaned and ate and looked at the stunning Indian ladies. Ditched my greasy plate in the trash and walked up to Grand Central Station, got on the 7 and got off at Vernon Blvd. Six pack of Tecate and some pretzels. Work on a few little things (see last post for images) and then rode down to the Second Chance Saloon in Williamsburg for Eve's birthday party. Had a single beer, sat and chatted for an hour or so and then rode back home. Showered. Bed.

Sunday: up early, yoga, a meandering ride to the studio. Windows open and tv and dvd set up in Eve's studio to watch Synecdoche, NY. Eh. Interesting. Kind of like Kafka's The Trial or The Castle. After, I dicked around for a bit. Teddy showed up and we rode down to the Diamond Bar to meet Steve and Bradley for beers. Then back to Teddy's for a cookout in the backyard.

Friday, April 24, 2009

I met Suraiya last night around 6 pm near west 4th. We got a delicious mushroom and truffle oil pizza (I'd like to the restaurant's page but I can never remember the name of the place, I only know it by site) and then walked over to NYU for life broadcast of This American Life, the one that they were simultaneously broadcasting in theaters all over the country. (Suraiya was supposed to go with her husband, Monsur, but he had to fly out to CA for some Google stuff. So I filled in.)

Good show with a particularly moving story by Dan Savage about the death of his mother. Went to the afterparty with Ira and Ana, and had a few beers at a few bars and some good talks with various new and interesting people. A superb night, overall.

(Photo courtesy of Suraiya's daily photo blog.)

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Another dream about SGF again last night. Jesus, brain--what gives? Emeffer.

This one took place in a vast, low-rise hotel in some distant foreign land. I was staying with mom and various relatives (odd, since I don't really have various relatives in real life) in one generic beige-and-puce hotel room. SGF and husband and sister were staying down the hall. We were both in this distant foreign land for a wedding, though not the same wedding. The next day there were all kinds of staged wedding photos along under the date palms in front of this huge hotel--not just my wedding party, or SGF's, but countless clots of them. It was tuxedoed and satin-dressed chaos. SGF and I had agreed to meet along the facade of this vast hotel, much further down the block, at the side that faced an avenue called River Drive. Due to the considerable acreage of this hotel, I begged a ride down there from a random wedding guest. We circled the huge building once looking for this River Drive. Then again: nothing matching that description. And then my chauffeur sped up, got on an nearby interstate that paralleled a big yellow river. "River Drive's got to be around here somewhere, right? And this is the river." I agreed but felt a strangling anxiety that we were most certainly not going to find River Drive or SGF.

After a quick five minutes on the interstate, the chauffeur exits and pulls into a nondescript, grey apartment complex--a dozen identical, three-story buildings surrounded by parking lots and half-assed landscaping, the kind that cluster around I-465 in Indianapolis. (Strange that this distant foreign land should pinch its architecture from the suburbs of my hometown, no?) He leads me to an interior courtyard cut through with canals instead of sidewalks (fed by the yellow river presumably), and there is a party is going on in this courtyard. There are a few scores of people lining long picnic tables and eating. The only way to reach this party it to swim the canals. My chauffeur strips to the waist, dives into the canal, effortlessly strokes across and pulls himself out. He then walks over to a near by table and procures a catfish po'boy. He sits down and begins to eat. Unsure of what else to do, I follow. I paddle myself across one of the canals and pull myself out, and sit down next to him. This is NOT River Drive, this is not where I'm supposed to be, and now I'm dripping wet and covered with a snotty mucous of river water. I'm stuck in this fucking courtyard. I suddenly realize that I've made this swim with my airline tickets, passport and cellphone in my pockets. I retrieve these items one by one--they're all ruined. The tickets are a smeary pulp, the ink has all but floated off my passport, the cellphone only showed a blank, gray screen--glowing with power but no data. I look up at the sky--humid blue and hazy, high summer--and make a very deliberate choice to go Basil Fawlty in an attempt to squeeze some humor out of this shit situation.

"Thank you, God," I say while jumping up and down shaking my fists and the cumulus clouds. "Thank you so very much! Curse you and your leather heart!"

And then I woke up. It was 6 am and the house sparrows had returned to my fire escape to chirp and strut. I staggered out of bed and banged on the window to get rid of them. But I was awake for good now anyway.

Had a nice sit in Byrant Park last night after my weekly appointment. I took the scenic route, walking over to DaVinci first to get a new little carry-with-me-everywhere sketchbook. I didn't really need it but old one I was carrying around was started about three years ago--during the last few months of grad school--and then was traded out for another one. I picked it up again about a 18 months ago so as not to let the blank pages go to waste . . . and the weird, broken chronology of the ideas within it always bothered me. So. It's been retired.

After Bryant Park, to the studio where I dicked around excising thing with an exacto and drinking the last two beers in the fridge.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Went to the Met on Sunday afternoon. The main focus of the visit was checking out the exhibition of Indian drawings. So I checked it out. Eh. They were less like finished drawings and more like sketches--just some vaguely articulated black lines, no color, no detail, none of the features that make Indian miniatures so intense. But the rest of the Met was fantastic. Always is. I spent a good deal of time just wandering the Greek and Roman halls. I never run out of stuff to look at there. Always something new.

I also revisited an 1865 Jasper Cropsey landscape painting, The Valley of Wyoming. (Oddly enough, it's a painting of valley in PA, not a valley in WY.) It's a big canvas, large enough to be completely immersive if you stand at the correct distance. It's a really masterful canvas, an interlocking puzzle of lights and darks, value and contrast. Realistic and illusionistic but a painting that acknowledged all of the tricks of painting: some of the effects are created through treating paint as paint, a plastic medium with a physical presence, and other effects are produced by scraping the paint off allowing textured raw canvas to catch the light. Yet another example of my conservative tastes manifesting. (I took a photo of the image but it was crappy and yellowish so I stole this image from Wally Gobetz. Thanks WallyG.)

I wandered out of the Met and around to the back in search of Cleopatra's Needle. I vaguely recall hearing of the monument in one or more Earth Science classes during my hitch in Indiana's fine public schools--it was always brought up as example of erosion and/or the corrosive effects of pollution. (Apparently, the hieroglyphics used to be quite legible until 100 years or so ago when the combined effects of weather and pollution melted the crisp edges of the Egyptian eyes and the hawks and the reeds and all of that.) It was hauled all the way from Heliopolis to Central Park and now it was surrounded by fat, pink tourists (with legs the color of raw bacon) and beautiful, moneyed UES four-year-old children speaking in complete, precocious sentences. Still, the weathered monument was . . . well, monumental and intimidating . . . and it was surrounded by magnolias in full bloom. So I sat there for a bit and got my vitamin D levels up.

Wandered through the park and found a nice rock to sit on and watch people row their rented boats about the lake. Then around the southern lip of the lake where I saw and old frail man trying to land a carp. Then past the rollerdisco party, down the Mall and out to Fifth Ave. Over to Lexington and down the the E. The E to 23/Ely and off for some beer at the C-Town. UP the six Sunday-only flights of stairs to the studio to drop off the sundries. DOWN the six Sunday-only flights of stairs and over to Vernon Blvd for a falafel which I then carried over to East River for consumption. Had a nice--if windy and slightly cool--meal and finished up a few articles in a magazine. Back to the studio where I did fuckall but read and finish my magazine and the last few chapters of the illustrated Adventures of Baron Munchausen.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Spring in Astoria. The magnolia's in full bloom. Nice job. In one of the photos, you can see the quality shack that's next to Bloomy. It looks like a cartoon jail with the bars on the window. Quickdraw McGraw works in there.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Friday . . . hubbubbubbub. What did I do on Friday? Nothing probably. A gin gimlet or two and season 3 of The Wire, I think. In bed early.

Saturday: not much better. Gray rain kept me in for almost the entire day. The roommate came home around 5 and I left. Downstairs and out into the colorless curd of cloud and velutinous late afternoon sun. The usual walk to the studio. On the way I pickup up a comically large turkey-and-swiss-on-croissant sandwich and some chips and had an early dinner at the studio. Teddy came in and we chatted and I eventually went back over to my space and read the journals of Lewis & Clark for an hour or so. Gabriel stopped in for a bit on his way home: he's working on a set of frames for someone. Teddy washed his brushes out and we walked out together. Usual walk home.

Sunday: up early and to the grocery. All of that jazz. Back, unpack, wash, chop, cook, whatever. Got the week's food together. Took a walk around to some resale shops later in the morning to find some old kids books--I was looking for material to use cut out and use in little collages. (I've do this every three or four years. Purchase a bunch of books, spent hours poring over them, tearing out pages and excising images with an exacto knife. They I shuffle this components around a bit, never really get any momentum and then dump all of the little things in a cigar box and forget about them. Then I toss them 10 or 18 months later. I think I do this kind of thing just to keep my hands busy in the studio during dry times.) So I picked up the books and wander-walked them over to the studio. I spent a few hours cutting out little things and listening to podcasts. Then left to get a sandwich, chips and a six pack. Came back, ate, had a few and then managed to read about three-quarters of Cormac McCarthy's The Road. It's a great book even if Oprah did manage to smear her book club label all over it. Grim and gray, with the language stripped down to largely incomplete (yet utterly lucid) sentence fragments. Walked home and made dinner--sauteed green chard with garlic and a grilled haloumi cheese sandwich and managed to finish the final quarter of The Road. Bed for a fitful, thready sleep.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Beebarazzi: Delighful. Delicious. D'Onofrio.

Dumptruck, backhoe, magnolia. LIC is so poetic that way.

The starling is still there at KAS, still at it, all puffed up and fluttery-winged, singing that plinky, metallic song. Well, good for him. I hope he can stay through the summer or however long he needs to help pump out a few more greasy-looking starlings. (Notice the pigeon noticing the starling.)

They're filming Law & Order: Criminal Intent right around the corner from the office. Lots of big trucks lined up on both sides of the street; they're setting up cameras, cable, tables, etc. Maybe I'll see Vinnie D when I walk home for lunch and maybe I'll chuck a rock at him. Or maybe I'll just take a photo.

The studio's been for shit lately. I still go in a lot but not because I think I'm going to be struck with some thunderous inspiration. I go in because--if I don't go--I deny myself the possibility of working, you know? Nothing might happen if I go in--I might just sit and read or watch a movie or drink beer and watch Teddy and Bill make music--but nothing for sure is going to happen if I don't go in. I want to work big, then I want to work small, then I want to collage, then I want to get rid of all of the characters I've used previously . . . and then I decide I shouldn't be so hasty. (This all sounds familiar--I'm sure I've said all of this before, ad nauseum. It's the same conversation I have with myself every six months.)

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

I'm trying to take a photo of the magnolia every day but it's been so gray that it's almost not worth it. This photo is from sunny Sunday. The Magnolia Wranglers have placed a novelty Easter rabbit thingy under the tree. It's one of those inflatable holiday gimmicks, and the rabbit (I can't bring myself to call it a bunny) sinks down into the egg and then verrrry sloooowly pops out of it in the creepiest manner possible. I caught him here in full reveal. (If you look closely at the magnolia photo, you can see the rabbit in full crouch at the bottom of the frame.)

Bottom photo: a starling that's made his nest inside the exterior wall of the Kaufmann Astoria Studios. Let's see how long that lasts.

Yesterday: Blah blah work, Union Square appointment, walked from there to Grand Central, immersed myself into the rush hour crowds--horrible flashbacks of the White Plains commute and being hungover and moving with 1.5 hours of sleep during my Disney days--and navigated to the 7 train. 7 to the studio where I watched the final two-thirds of L'Avventura. Eh. Visually lovely but . . . eh. Then home.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Saturday: Made it over to the studio around 5. On the way there, I got a call from Teddy: they (he and Bill) were going to record some tracks in the studio. So I picked up a six pack on the way . . . I thought I'd chip in, why not? So we say and sipped and Ted and Bill fooled around with the levels and the reverb and all of that. They left to meet Bill's wife and kids for dinner and I took opportunity to stretch some paper. They came back around 10 and got to work. Weird, oogy, chords on the keyboard and long, sandpapery strips of drone produced od an odd two-stringed, square-bodied instrument from Mongolia. I stuck around until midnight or so and then walked home.

Sunday: up at 6 am (oh god). Did some stuff around the apartment (can't remember what) and left for the studio around 10 am or so. Took the longest possible walk to the studio. During the walk, I passed a music video shoot--lots of taut, pretty women, a fake elevator set and a big wooden broken heart painted magenta. Up the six flights of stairs to the studio. Teddy and Bill were there, along with Bill's wife Loretta and his two kids, Eleanor and Naomi. They left and Teddy helped me hang a few drawing for a studio visit from Ombretta and Rena. Teddy took off to build a fence in his back yard and O and R stopped in for a visit and picked some work to take to a show in a few weeks. Then I left, picked up a steak burrito, and walked over to watch Teddy put up the fence in his backyard while I ate. Lovely day, 65 and utterly cloudless, sun. We listened to Miles Davis for a hour (He Loved Him Madly and Recollections from the On the Corner and Bitches Brew boxsets, respectively) or so and then switched to Fela Kuti. There was a cardinal flitting around the rows of backyards--a red speck of motion--and making his spring calls. I happen to have the call of a cardinal as a ringtone so I pissed off the little guy by letting fly with the ringtone every ime he started up. He flitted about, chipping in annoyance. Teddy had to get ready for a visit so I left and too a long walk down Vernon Blvd and returned to the studio. I climbed to the roof with the camping chair and read The Adventures of Baron Munchausen (illustrated by Gustave Dore!) until the sun set.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Crappy and rainy today. Annoying. You can't even see Manhattan from the office windows.

Trying to get a few photos of what little bits of spring are manifesting around the neighborhood. Magnolia and something else. (I've had my camera for four years now and I still can't figure out how to take an in-focus image of something close. Nice.)

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Into Union Square after work last night for my weekly appointment. I met Kempin (one of my favorites) at the Gandhi statue and then we walked over to A Salt and Battery for some vinegar-soaked fried sole. Then a stroll through the Village to the Hudson--the weird, off-grid break of the street down there had the setting sun blasting directly into our faces. We had a nice sit and shared a bar of chocolate 'n' praline. Walked back through the gloaming Village to the E on 14th. Wee Kempin split off at 53/Lex to take the train to catch to 6 to her new apartment at 96th and Lexington. Congratulations, tiny one.

Home. Watched two episodes of The Wire in my half of the apartment and then in bed early. Trying to derail a growing tide of bad mood.