Tuesday, April 29, 2008

there and back

Decorative art. Illustrative art. Non-challenging art. I took some time away to paint a new picture but trying really hard to make something perfect is when we're most likely to fail. I don't really hate the paintings I end up being responsible for but the only way to express my feeling about them is by trying to imagine attempting to write a book I'd really enjoy reading and knowing I'm incapable of doing so. For example here's a brief list of favorite books:

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
Hamlet by William Shakespeare
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie
Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood
Ulysses by James Joyce
The Quiet American by Graham Greene
The Aleph by Jorge Luis Borges
The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky
The Magus by John Fowles

It's a short list of classic fiction but I read all sorts of things and I set the bar pretty high for what's acceptable. Yet if I sat down to write a novel I know I'd come up with something utterly dismal. I shudder at the thought of writing a romance novel.

I'm sure there are lots of people sharing this frustrating condition with me. I love listening to music but I can't play and I know there are lots of musicians who wish they could play as well as.. somebody else. Everyone stretches for something always out of reach and that's what makes humanity beautiful. While engrossed in some pursuit beyond our daily lives we at least get to savor the magic of the creative spirit and, if we're lucky, every so often there may be a hint of transcendance in the air.

So here's the painting called 'Dakini Spring'. It's really much more complicated than it looks - as are we all.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Scarlet's mystery guest Unmasked!

Okay, I'm back. How the heck could I resist this challenge? He's well disguised but that's no lady and I'd recognize those twinkly eyes and the salute anywhere. Drink up bitches indeed.

All Hail the Mighty Emperor and Empress!

(Artwork borrowed from Jeff Wells at Rigorous Intuition.) It's been one of my favorite blogs for several years. See you soon :-)

Thursday, April 17, 2008

taking a break

Spring is springing, the flowers are flowering, the trees are treeing and susan is off susanning.. whatever that is.

Crow here. Trying out another disguise and hoping one of these hot chicks will get a little broody with yours truly.

We'll be back.
Keep smiling and you'll look like me :-)

Sunday, April 13, 2008

where it's gone

Crow here. You'll have to excuse my little nephew Wrendall but he's had a bit of a shock recently and was only able to describe the essentials of what he'd learned before having to return to the nest. His parents are now stuffing his little beak with worms, insects and other goodies until he recovers.

It seems Wrendall, who is a fine little fellow and a credit to investigatory intentions of the highest order, tried to swallow something larger than his crop could accomodate. As you'll recall, we've been discussing financial shenanigans and currency manipulation in recent weeks. My young nephew decided to see if he could find where on earth the money that's disappeared from your bank accounts, home values and general purchasing power has actually gone. Well, it makes sense that if it exists (which is something I still wonder about but will leave for now) and if you once had it and now don't, it must be somewhere.

Where do the tycoons and CEO's go once they've grabbed as much as they can for themselves? Have you heard of Dubai? I'm sure you have but it's truly outrageous what's going on there and very little news reaches us. After all, it's not our business in any sense of the word's meaning.

"50 skyscrapers rise above the desert city, where thousands of cranes work on $200 billion of real estate projects, according to HSBC Holdings Plc, Europe's largest bank. Sprawling to the right are the palace, gardens and stables of the emirate's ruler, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al- Maktoum, his wives and children.

"In a ditch near the Giorgio Armani-designed hotel, construction worker Omkar Singh leans on a shovel and wipes sweat from his brow. Singh, 24, went into debt to pay 60,000 rupees ($1,500) -- more than six months of earnings, including overtime -- to an agent to get to Dubai from India. The agent promised eight-hour workdays. Singh says he works at least 10-hour shifts, six days a week. ``I was taken for a ride,'' he says."

The amount and type of construction designed and implemented for the wealthy and built by men like Omkar who has a home and a faraway family to feed is one of the main places your money has gone. Like thousands of others from poorer nations, his passport has been confiscated until he's completed the contract he signed. This is the essence of what's happening in this tiny desert principality on the Straits of Hormuz (as well as in Saudi Arabia itself). There are entire buildings that rotate so everyone gets a changing view; an underwater hotel is being built so you can sleep with the fishes in a real and not mafia metaphorical sense; islands in the shapes of palm trees have beautiful houses and marinas for those who can afford to pay. Under construction and already finished are more islands designed in the configuration of world land masses - I think David Beckham bought England.

The world's tallest building, the Dubai Burj (Tower), at 2300 feet will be ready for occupation next year. It will be 160 stories tall compared to NY's former World Trade Center at 110 stories each.

Millionaires are welcome to live in the country (but not to become citizens) so long as they don't run out of money. You can see why the average tycoon might want to make sure he has more than enough in order to keep on affording the accommodations and entertainments in perpetuity.

The thing that really shook up my little friend Wrendall, though, was hearing that Prince al-Walid bin Talal who owns London's Savoy Hotel is planning an even bigger skyscraper in Saudi Arabia. On a clear day the view from the top will take in the Middle East, North Africa and the Indian Ocean if you have a head for heights. It will be 1 mile high - so tall that helicopters will have to do the major lifting of materials and workers. Sounds scary and that's what's done in poor little Wrendall for the moment. Maybe the rest of you should be happy that your money is being spent on something so impressive as another giant dildo - because you are getting screwed. Me? I'm off to find some worms for my nephew.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

strange neighbor

Roger Williams Park in Providence is the second largest mid-city park in the country after New York's Central Park. It was also laid out by the same landscape designer so it's very elegant and wild at the same time. There are serpentine lakes with many bridges, a Japanese garden, a boathouse, a zoo, and even a small amusement park with a beautiful antique carousel right by the water. At least that's the way it used to be but perhaps it's all been turned into condos since then. Garth (full name - Garth Cold Nose Strong Heart) and I spent many hours and many miles exploring its paths.

We lived at the end of Bartlett Ave. in an old Victorian tenement house on the second floor.. a big apartment with a front parlor, middle parlor, dining room, 2 bedrooms and screened verandah. There were lots of windows overlooking the park. We slept in the front tower since it was like being in the middle of a forest glade with the lake just across the way and the Temple to Music across the water. The kitchen and dining area we used were at the opposite end in another tower. It was nice.

The thing about living in apartments though, is that sometimes you wind up having neighbors who may be a little on the strange side and one of them moved into the place above ours at the end of a winter. At first she appeared to be very normal and so much so that we wondered what she was doing living in our building rather than a bungalow in the suburbs.

There had already been some odd characters in and out of the other apartments including one family who'd lived downstairs for a few months the previous summer. Fights had been raging at all hours but one day the guy stayed home and played 'Stayin' Alive' over and over at top volume for 10 hours straight followed by taking an aluminum baseball bat to all the windows, furniture and anyone who didn't get out of his way. Then he jumped in the family car and tore off down the road at full speed until he was stopped by a tree. The rest of them moved that night.

Anyway, back to the new third floor neighbor. We learned she'd moved out of the bungalow she'd shared with her husband and young daughter and that she worked as a secretary at a local college. During the week the little girl lived with her mother and everything was as quiet as you'd expect but when Friday afternoons rolled around dad came by on his scooter to take the girl off for the weekend. Mom, wearing her usual Mrs. Cleaver outfit, would wave good-bye but once they were safely out of sight she'd gallop upstairs and change into hot pants and halter. Like clockwork, within five minutes she'd be back downstairs waiting for 'the boys'. I do mean boys.

Now this lady was at least 40 and probably more but it seemed that while working at the school she'd developed a taste for much younger men.. and not just one in particular. She liked all of them and preferably in groups. Sometimes several carloads would park outside and all the guys would troop upstairs carrying beer, snacks and goodness knows what and partying would ensue until they either got tired or had to go home to their parents.

It came to be time for the 4th of July fireworks display that happened close to the Temple to Music every year and we invited our family over for a picnic dinner on the lawn outside our place before the show. Naturally, we weren't out there alone since lots of people came from further up the street so they'd be there for the fireworks too. Unbeknownst to us Mrs Hotpants had visitors of her own and just as everyone was eating, talking, laughing and playing (lots of kids) we heard terrific shrieks coming from above. Everybody stopped what they'd been doing and looked up at the third floor windows to see two guys holding a naked Mrs. HP. outside her window and kind of jiggling her up and down. It was a show nobody had expected.

Maybe she wasn't as anonymous as she'd imagined and maybe someone had made a phone call but the end result was that she was gone a few days later.The house was quiet again for a long time after that. People are strange, aren't they?

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

People's History of American Empire

I don't post too many videos but this by Howard Zinn and read by Viggo Mortensen is just too cool to miss. If anybody wants please feel free to post it yourself.

The article was on Tom Dispatch per Alternet today. At the moment nothing more needs to be said.