Home of random thoughts, misguided musings, wicked words and the men who make them.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

The Sorceror Series: Journey through Self

The Sorceror Series: The Journey Begins in Reflection

One of my students asked me why artists draw or paint themselves. Underneath her question, I discovered as we continued the conversation, was a presumption that the artist who focuses on himself as the subject of his work is conceited. She was relating this to her boyfriend, also an artist and former student of mine who couldn't stop painting himself into his work. As I tell all my students and anyone who will listen, that all art-making for me is about Intention. Nothing is done arbitrarily but happy accidents and experimentation does occur. I explained to her that I paint myself as therapy, record keeping and construction. The bulk of my academic art instruction has been in predominately white institutions. Consequently most of my work that did not have as subject matter white people was always defined as an attempt to make a racial or social statement of some kind. My final year in undergrad I discovered that i had issues with being defined as the Black One. So I began writing short stories and doing Inkwash around 95 about this character. The Black One. During that time I had an awakening that got me off my ass and off to Grad school but I also realized that I was constructing a self based on others and otherness. I was so busy trying to understand what people thought about me I didn't know what I thought of myself. So after some time and my adventures in Grad school I put the Black One to rest and embraced a more sinister ideal for myself and in my art. Based on a vampire character that was also based on myself my artistic avatar became Darrke(pronounced Dark). Well after my brother jokingly pronounced the characters name as Darkie(a racial epithet) I decided to change the name to Abyss. Abyss was the wild side of me. The lord of excess. At the time I was bald and growing a nice goatee so he had these things. He wore all black and lived the nightlife. Drugs, music, booze.... anything that could be done to excess I heaped onto his shoulders in the search to discover myself and my limits. And he got real interesting. He also lead me to look at every character I had ever created as aspects or projections of my own persona. In High School I read a book by and about a woman who had Multiple Personality Disorder and it fascinated me. It even had me pursuing a degree in Pyschology until Art called me back. The book was called When Rabbit Howls or something like that and the author wrote the book in the various voices of her personalities. Rabbit being the first and most traumitized representation of her childhood where she was brutally molested. Rabbit could only articulate through howling her pain. This coupled with my love for the work of Michael Moorcock and his Eternal Champion caused me late in life(well in my late twenties) to begin giving creedance to my many voices and stages. Abyss was for me the first to be self aware. His narrative(in my drawings and paintings) began intersecting with my life in a strange way. And as the saying goes when you look into the Abyss the abyss looks back at you. Things got rough for Abyss, just like they got rough for The Black One and I needed a new intention. During Grad School I created a superhero(once again based on myself) named Elias Infinity. From that I constructed a whole cosmology of selves from my past creations. Abyss though dominant in my mind was an immature persona. He had to grow up. So he began transforming. First I felt he was the watcher aware of all the othe folks but detached. Until I wrote a story where the most prominent of them met. Then I decided to grow my hair. Elias at this time was bald like abyss but I couldn't let go of him. So after a ahem life changing trip(in the real world) to Amsterdam I created the concept of the Sorceror. The spectator as Jung would call him. This painting was the beginning of that journey. Abyss was changing into a warrior-magician traveler. But my and his obsession with looking back was hindering my moving forward in life. This paintng represents that change and began a series of paintings and drawings that have helped me, consumed me and recorded my life in the strangest ways through my thirties. As I continue walking through my creative process on my comic book I will also show these series of works that are the foundation of the story. So yes I am self-absorbed but I learned long ago that if you don't tell your story in your own words somebody else will tell your story in theirs and you may get fucked in the process or at least misunderstood. So I told my student I paint myself because I am the cheapest most available model and also because I do not presume anymore to know myself completely. I'm just discovering. And I 'm a story-teller and whose story am I most intimate with? Oh and I told a friend when i first shaved my head in 93 that I was showing humilty to God and that I would not grow my hair until I felt like I was becoming a man. I realized a few years ago it was time to be a man. But I still hold onto to my humility. Thats art reflecting life and life reflecting art.
Art is Doing. More to come.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Monday, January 23, 2006

In Dreams come responsibility

TELLIN’ STORIES by Elias Infinity
PRECURSOR TO A DREAM
All products come from some spark followed by a conflagration of other experiences, moments, and dreams that join together in synchronistic fury to create a structure. This is how it works for me. Over the summer I would spend a couple hours a week at the local Starbucks just writing and reading. While living in the big Northern cities I avoided Starbucks like the corporate plague. While in Grad school in Savannah I would only frequent the quaint “Coffee Houses” with no fear of Brand Name. But dammit they make great coffee and they are just exploding here so a lot of people-watching is available. And I get a lot done so don’t judge me. Anyway I call the journal entries I write on these days The Starbucks Papers and have gotten inspiration for paintings, illustrations and stories from it. This is one entry.
WAR! 9.16.05
The Sorcerer stood at the doorway faced with an ocean of black expanse. A void. An Abyss. The Sorcerer stood at this place a long time, contemplating. A magician never exposes his tricks until after they prove successful. He knew this next death was a battle of Finality. At this point he stopped his old thought and conjured a new one to explore. His eyes closed, his lips spread in a quiet smile and he nodded slightly. The Sorcerer stepped back. His left hand, open palm forward, glowed while emitting a soft hum. His right hand gripped the worn Katana, its tip pointed to the ground in easy readiness. He opened his eyes, now prepared to face the Abyss.
The Abyss chuckled. The doorway bubbled stretching outward. First expanding its two dimensional surface before solidifying its mass into a human form. Black took line and contour, etching out, as it receded, the face of the shadow. The Darrke finally settled in the womb of the Abyss. In each black hand he gripped a black 9mm Automatic. Of course both were pointing to the ground. Jung passed through both their minds as the strangely flat and proper, Midwest inflected voice issued from Abyss.
“I know you’ll eventually get this on an unconscious level so let’s forgo the chitchat.”
The wide grin that spread across their faces spoke of a deep kinship neither could deny. And then everything exploded
The blood drawn from the consuming sadness of a woman surged through the Black One. Abyss took the offensive charging the Sorcerer, guns blazing. Passion grew from memories of sobbing confidants seeking solace from a well deeper than the Existential rift. His black raiment whipped and flowed attesting to the graceful determination of his dance, his engaging of the dance.
The Sorcerer first observed. With a near silent exhalation of nervous expectation he engaged the furious actions of the Black One. Deep blue sky twisted and jerked in his expertly tailored suit as he stepped to the side deflecting the hail of bullets with a wave of his radiant hand. See the Turtle was no slouch either. He knew magic was on his side but he needed time to study what he faced. So the Sorcerer hardened his shell with a phrase and looked for the next attack.

Next Week: finding an ending and turning the story into pictures.

Elias Infinity

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Writng Sample

Hey All, this is a working copy of my writing sample for gradschool. Klipper's seen it all already, but here it is.

The Elderly: America's Future From The Past

Well, my neighbor recently turned seventy-nine years old. I know this because for about the last month when I've chatted with him he's said, "I'm seventy-nine years old." He used to say, "I'm seventy-eight years old." When I first met him he would say, "I'm seventy-seven years old." Those were the days. The days about 2 years ago.

Children engage in this sort of repartee, and it's endearing, because you know it will stop soon. With my neighbor, who I'll call John (since that's his name. He can't figure out how to reset his odometer so I doubt he's reading this blog), I also know it will end soon. It's not endearing though. It's a haunting reminder of my own mortality.

Today, after establishing his time on the Earth for all passers buy, I was asked to assist in the reading of a letter. This is a task I am frequently called on to assist with. It's not so much the reading he has trouble with. It's the interpretation that is becoming difficult.

The letter today was informing John his last check would arrive next month to pay off a debt owed to him. It went on to say that he should stop arriving in person to collect this debt, as a restraining order has been received.

John is a big fan of Westerns. Right now I can hear the rapid-fire gunshots; that can only mean a stagecoach heist is in full swing; floating through my window. The first time I met John, he showed me his extensive collection of Western movies numbering several thousand videotapes and several hundred DVDs. The collection is accompanied by a handwritten cross-referenced cataloguing system that is made up of well over one hundred single spaced marble-backed note books and an extensive collection of fully functional old west shootin' irons.

John likes to practice fancy spins and trick draws. Of course, he is seventy-nine years old (if the word on the street is to be believed), and those irons ain’t getting any lighter, so he drops them often.

Generally, when I'm not interpreting threatening legal notes, John quizzes me on my favorite silent film and cowboy picture actors. To date, I have not heard of any of them. John is not deterred. He shows me a new style of gun slinging he's picked up from former Olympian and cowboy great Earnst Von Haffenshclaff (I call him this because a truck went buy and I couldn't make out what John actually said and I have long since learned to just roll with these situations and, if forced, spout a platitude like, "You can't trust any of 'em") before sharing an anecdote.

Apparently John's niece ran afoul of her boyfriend and he slashed her tires. Well, a Hampden Cowboy like John isn't going stand for that kind of mistreatment of a lady, specially if'n she's kinfolk! So John tells me, "He slashed her tires," in a voice that is some where between Clint Eastwood, Will Farrell doing George Bush, and Jessica Rabbit with laryngitis. "He's a bad man, and I don't cotton to that! I was gonna shoot 'im, but I'd go to jail, protectin' my property so I figgered, I'd get him real mad, angry, see. Make him draw to me, but I'd draw first. Send 'im straight to Boot Hill!"

There were allot of flaws in John's plan that I didn't point out. I didn't point out, that the guy probably wouldn't "draw" and if he did, John probably wouldn’t out draw him, or at least out draw him and keep hold of his six-iron (the pistol, he'd be really screwed if he brought a golf club). I also didn't point out that Boot Hill is in Tombstone Arizona, and they probably wouldn't send a dead guy from Baltimore to Arizona for burial. I also didn't point out that Boot Hill hasn't been used for new graves in quite some time.

Of course, odds are, John would be the one pushing up daisies, so there is a chance that this guy, upon gunning down John would have taken his keys and cash and driving to Tomb Stone Arizona in one of the most ill-conceived getaways of all time. I find this scenario highly dubious, however, and am reasonably sure it's not what John was getting at.

Instead, I simply said, "Guy like that, shouldn't be on the street. But you can't shoot him."

"Yeah?" asked John.

"Nope," I replied.

He seemed a bit sad about this. I think we all know that Hampden could use a bit of frontier justice, just not sure John is the martial to bring order to these parts.

Funny thing about the elderly, for the most part, Asian people are from the country we were at war with when they were coming of age. John changed the subject, referring to our new Vietnamese neighbors. "Korean fellers just moved in. Was gonna be a gay couple, but we got these Koreans instead."

"I think they are the gay couple," I replied

"Nah, their Korean."

For a moment, I was envious. Ahh, to live in such a world! A world where things break because they're not made in America (instead of the opposite). A world where people or things can have no more than one exotic label (Gay Asian? You waltz with the devil, my friend! Spicy Tuna? Did that meal come here on a rocket ship?) Then John told me about his plan for the day.

He wanted me to tell him how to get to a far away shelter where he could get a new cat without having to pay eighty dollars. This seemed sound logic, as cats are four for a nickel where I come from, but his need for a new cat surprised me. Apparently, John got new hardwood floors last year. His current cat is old, and she's wearing out the floors. This one blew my mind.

My vision of pleasant dotage quickly shifted focus. I saw a darker, more likely me standing on the same porch talking to a confused thirty-something neighbor. "You like super-hero pictures? Not the modern smella-vision ones that are acted out by trained ferrets, movies like they were meant to be! Acted by human actors and Chelize Theron (who I believe is from Krull Space), thems were the days!

"The paramour of my young niece," I'd state in a voice some where between Christopher Reeves circa 1978 and Christopher Reeves, March 2003, "punctured the hover belt of her fly-o-cycle and such actions shall be avenged! That man is a dastard and yet I can not fire my eye lasers to incinerate him! I will have to simply challenge him and when he attempts to use his time shift powers against me, I'll swoop him and deliver him to the proper authorities!"

The wheels will grind in my new neighbor’s noggin. "Should I tell the old man that he has never been able to shoot eye lasers and that even if he could, he would be no match for the time distorting powers of the local thugs? Nah, just humor him and get inside." I'll be left there, standing on my porch, watching the rocket police zoom buy on their way to the mechanized donut hut, before turning and wading waste deep in schnauzers back into my home.

First off, I'd like to point out that I am not an age-ist. Some of my best friends are incredibly old (for arguments sake, anyway) I tell this story not out of spite or cruelty. I tell it to provide you with a moral.

What is the moral, you ask? What's the point? Well, if my neighbor weren't seventy-nine years old, I'd be totally freaked out by him. As it is, he's kind of cute. This is the advantage of oldness. Plan for it and start now lest you to end up squandering your remarkable harmlessness on a cold porch in Hampden threatening local hooligans.

Shoot the moon, my friends! Have an outfit ready and begin concocting a story now. Tell it to yourself each night before you go to bed so that by the time your real life fades, this new one shall be in place.

I was raised by gypsies who hid my identity from the overlords who sought my head for I am the rightful king of Paraguay (see RUFNKIDDINME Tenet #4)! My fortune is vast, yet I am to old to make the journey to collect it! I can give you this map, and these 5 ancient riddles to guide you on your way! Good luck, young neighbor (who is way too loud and young and annoying and will probably die in a gyrocopter accident trying to find my non-existent treasure. Tee-Hee!) and may fortune be on your side!

Baseball’s Been Very Very Bad to Me

When I was a boy, my dad used to get seats a few times a season to Orioles games. The tickets were from work, The American Can Company, way back when it made cans, not Bloomin Onions. Usually the good games would get swept up by the big wigs, so we'd go to see the Blue Jays or the Angels or some other team nobody in Baltimore cared about. Man it was great. Dad would walk us down to the dugout for autographs and once the Blue Jay's left fielder even rolled a ball to my best friend Greg.

When they opened the Safeway at the Rosedale shopping center, Brooks Robinson came to sign baseballs and tussle heads. Jim Palmer came to my school. He gave a speech which, as far as I know he is still giving 24 years later. My soccer team in 3rd grade had 3 Brookses and I know 2 couples with baby Cal's. I don't think there are going to be too many baby Raphes and even fewer baby Angeloses.

Orioles’ Baseball has been a part of the fabric of Baltimore since 1882 and this, my fellow Baltimorons is the worst moment to be an Orioles fan since the end of the 1902 season. That’s when large market pressure forced Wee Willy Keeler's NL Orioles to move from The Land of Pleasant Living to NY NY and spawn the hated Yankees.

For the first time in my life, people don't care about the O's. It wasn't too long ago; nearly everyone in this city could name at least a few Orioles. Kids wore orange, not Yankee pinstripes. At one point this year I literally couldn't give away box seats.

It's strange to say with local ownership but the team doesn't feel part of the city. A seemingly unending series of moves have driven the team away from the average fan and, to some, it seems a lost cause.

I wanted to write something profound. I wanted to make a point about what the decline of the O's means to this town. It hurts too much to do anything but lament. I really hope Cal Ripken and Peter Angelos read this blog. Peter; sell the team to Cal. You are killing baseball in this city.


Traitor Gate Contest

Since Watergate, American scandal has been marked by one common thread. It ain’t a scandal 'til it's a gate. We've had Iran-Contra-gate, Travel Gate, Monica Gate, and yet, in the last five plus years, we've had no gates. What up with that? Come on, liberal media.

If screwing a fat chick is a gate, shouldn't screwing the nation be too? Why was there no election-gate? No AWOL-gate? No Rita-gate? Why hasn't Tom DeLay gotten a gate? He seems eligible for several. Gerrymandering-Gate is too local (though sending 5 additional Republicans to congress definitely was a scale tipper), how about his current scandal? Laundry-gate? Ancient-Texas-Secret-Gate? If firing the White House travel agents gets a gate, shouldn't sacrificing a valued U.S. intelligence resource and possibly her life to penalize her husband for saying something mean about you get a gate? How about Treason-gate?

As we all know, the media is a rabid liberal pitbull with a mindless desire to chew on the President's leg. I mean, the same people who told me I'm pro-abortion, not pro-choice, that I don't support the troops cause I don't support the war, that I'm an anti-business tree-hugger because I'd like to breath clean-air, that if I don't want clean air, I should support the Clear Skies Initiative, that neo-creationism (oh, I meant Intelligent Design) is science told me the media is liberal. It must be true.

So, since the media is so virulently liberal, the fact that none of these scandals, especially Ol' Rove-ey and DeLay's don't have a gate after them must be because they haven't thought of a catchy title yet. So here's the contest. We need something witty. We need something concise. We need it to roll off the tongue. If we come up with it, man, it's gonna take off. So let's come up with a Gate.

Enter your submissions. The winner will get an all expenses paid trip for 2 from the Baltimore Travel Plaza to the Back River Wastewater Treatment Plant. Oh, and the appreciation of our tens of loyal readers.

He's Done It Again!

George Bush is a miracle worker! He and his policies continue to turn the seemingly impossible into the soul crushingly real. George and his posse have managed to create gas lines in Iraq. What's next? Perhaps cheese rationing in Wisconsin? Maybe an Idaho potato famine or an embargo on corruption in the GOP?

Seriously, we're talking about an oil shortage in Iraq! They're sitting on the second largest deposit in the world. Kids sinking battleships strike oil there. Saddam Hussein couldn't get his people shoes, but, when he wasn't busy gold plating kalashnikovs and decorating his palaces with art a seventies van muralist would be embarrassed by, he made sure everybody had gas! People still don't have shoes, which doubly sucks because now they can't drive. Man, even Mussolini could work this out.

Gas prices were increased five to seven fold in a move that caused Iraqi Oil Minister Bahr Al-Ulourn to resign saying, "This decision brings an extra burden on the shoulders of citizens and caused an increase in the prices of all essential materials." That means anything that needs to be transported will be costing more. It means local businesses, bakeries, for instance, which often run on gas powered generators, will be quintupling the prices of their products. If you think people get angry when they can't afford gas, wait until they can't afford to eat.

You know, I've said it before and I'll say it again, George Bush is a miracle worker. Unfortunately his miracles ain't of the rainbows and unicorn variety. More often it's frogs and locusts. Oh, but at least if you've got the money for other options the recruiter will skip your house and send your neighbors kids to the Middle East.

Saints Preserve Us

Sport in America has often been portrayed as a tonic. It's been credited as a stage for social change, a healing salve in times of trouble. After 9/11, many New Yorkers pointed to the Giants resuming play as a symbol of their city moving on. The Yankees World Series appearance paralleled New York rising from the ashes.

New Orleans is having quite a different experience. In the aftermath of the greatest American tragedy of my lifetime New Orleans Saints owner, Tom Benson, is planning to move the team to greener pastures. There have long been rumblings that Benson wished to move the Saints, who have been a part of New Orleans since their founding in 1967, wished to relocate. Now, with the disaster, he is expected to invoke an "act of God clause" to void the Saints lease.

God gets blamed for a lot of things, the crusades, Pat Robertson, and the 69 World Series to name some of the worst, but he's blameless on this one. This one is all about one man's greed.

Many of us in Baltimore remember the sight of Mayflower moving vans stealing our beloved Colts. That is a wound that, for many, will never fully heal. This week marked the 10th anniversary of Art Modell announcing the theft of the Browns. Both of those events hurt, but neither came at a time like this, with a city struggling for its life.

Many will say that football is business and that's what businesses do. Well, obviously I think businesses shouldn't do that, but football is different. It's not just a business. The NFL, while not officially enjoying Anti-Trust Exempt status like Major League Baseball, gets cut quite allot of slack by We The People, slack that wouldn't be cut for "just a business." If the NFL and other major sports want the perks of that special place they've got, they should have to pay the cost.

Part of that cost is place loyalty. What would the Saints be without New Orleans? If the NFL wants to look like it has a heart (after all, it is a non-profit believe it or not), they've got to stop this move. Whatever it takes. If the NFL won’t do it, Senate better scare the bejesus out of 'em! Bring them in for a little chat about anti-trust violations; see if they still want to play hardball.

I don't have allot of hope that that will happen, but I can say this, if the Saints move, the NFL will not see dollar one from me, and I hope some of you as well.


Mike Brown Thwarts Fashion Disaster

Self proclaimed "Fashion God" and part-time former FEMA Chief Mike Brown has come under fire for his handling of events in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Now, with thousands of e-mails from government officials during the aftermath of the storm made available, many will choose to focus on the failures.

Most in the Liberal Media will surely latch on to quotes plucked from Brown’s e-mail like; "Can I quit now? Can I come home?" They will claim that such quotes smack of a man not cut out for this leadership roll. They will point out pleas from hard working FEMA employees like Marty Bahamonde, who wrote Brown saying, "I know that you know the situation is past critical.... Hotels are kicking people out, thousands gathering in the streets with no food or water. Hundreds still being rescued from homes.... Estimates are many will die within hours...We are running out of food and water at the dome."

They will ignore the fact that Man of action Brown quickly responded, "Thanks for the update. Anything specific I need to do or tweak?"

Brown’s numerous e-mails during the height of the crisis struggling to find a pet sitter will surely draw fire. Some might point out that a man who makes $148,000 a year and commands the resources of the United States Government yet has trouble finding a dog sitter may not be the guy you want running the nations disaster response agency. They might imply that one who fails to be able to manage his doggie walking resources might be a bit over his head when orchestrating rescue teams, the Coast Guard and the National Guard.

Surely some one will point to another e-mail that when faced with an alarming medical crisis, Brown was told, "Mickey and the other medical equipment people have a 42 foot trailer full of beds, wheelchairs, oxygen concentrators, etc. They are wanting to take them where they can be used but need direction. Mickey specializes in ventilator patients so can be very helpful with acute care patients. If you could have someone contact him and let him know if he can be of service, he would appreciate it. Know you are busy but they really want to help."

They will fail to note that Brownie forwarded that e-mail with a note reading "Can we use these people?" and he did that after only 4 short days! Keep in mind, that original e-mail came on Friday afternoon. We all know what those Friday afternoon e-mails are like. PAIN!!! Cut the guys some slack! He got back to it just before lunch on Tuesday people! OK, even I may have to admit Brownie may have dropped the ball on this one. Those guys with the trucks would TOTALY have been perfect for watching his dog.

Some will commiserate with Carol Springman who wrote Brown and said, "I don't know who is ultimately running this government nightmare show but please get your acts together NOW!" She went on to criticize the woeful treatment that pets were receiving in the affected areas. Well, if there is one thing Mike Brown, horse lover, understands it's the plight of animals. This one he forwarded to his underlings right away "I want us to start planning for dealing with pets."

This, my friends, is a man of action! This is a man who rolls up his sleeves and gets things done, well, after being advised to do so in an email entitled, Your Shirt. "Please roll up the sleeves of your shirt...all shirts. Even the president rolled his sleeves to just below the elbow," wrote FEMA press secretary Sharon Worthy. "In this crisis and on TV you need to look more hard working...ROLL UP THE SLEEVES!"

People will point to the guy who hired Mike Brown, who was that again? Oh yeah, President Bush and wonder why on Earth he would say, "Brownie, you're doing a heck of a job."

Well, they fail to point out that this was a man who was dealing with a major crisis. I mean, an e-mail from friend Howard Pike had just informed him that ABC news was sniffing around a rumor that Brown had been forced out his position with the Arabian Horse Association. He had to console his press secretary who was existing under horrid conditions forced to eat nothing but fast food for 3 straight day until she could get to a REAL restaurant! He actually took time to send a hand, suggesting an order at the Whataburger, "Order a #2, tater tots, large diet cherry limeade." Not to mention this whole storm thing and yet he continued to do what mattered. He looked good on camera.

When others would have been to busy with directing shipments of M.R.E.s, medical teams and evacuations, Mike Brown was proactive! He had time to ask Worthy, "Tie or not for tonight? Button-down blue shirt?" Some would have been so exhausted from the long days and nights toiling to save thousands of lives they would have thought only of sleep before getting back to the job. Brownie had time to field e-mails about his wardrobe, "You look fabulous," and Brown replied, "I got it at Nordstrom’s. Email McBride and make sure she knows! Are you proud of me?" adding later, "I am a fashion god."

Ahh Brownie! You truly are doing a hell of a job (and still getting paid for it). I wonder, when the president received an e-mail telling him he needed to appoint a new FEMA director if he simply replied, "Go with a #2."


Richard Pryor: 1940-2005

Well, the world has lost a great one. Richard Pryor, sixty-five and no more. People will call Pryor the greatest comic who ever lived. Maybe, that's pretty subjective, but no one has been more influential. Richard Pryor and George Carlin hit like The Beatles and The Rolling Stones of comedy and everything since has been a reaction. Nearly forty years later and people aren't just doing his style; they're still telling his jokes.

I was thinking a moment of silence might be a nice thing, then I realized a five-minute, gut wrenching belly laugh would be better. Then, when that's fully sunk in, weep for an hour as all that pain floods in. Then laugh again till you're too tired to do anything but that nearly orgasmic gasp-chuckle-sigh that only happens at those earth shakingly funny moments. Those moments that come when the laugh is coiled around something so tender and true right at the core of us, cause that's what watching Richard Pryor was when he was at his best.

I'm a stand-up comedian and people always ask me who my influences are. I'd have to say Richard is up there. I don't do his kind of comedy, but he's where I got my freebasing. Sometimes I light my hair on fire and run down the street. When I do, that's for you, Rich.

If you thought that was in bad taste at this moment, then you probably weren't a Pryor fan. Richard Pryor's gift was his ability to bring out the funny parts of pain all the while never hiding how much it hurts. His 1976 album Bicentennial Nigger was a revolution, just think that title went platinum in 1976. In a year of celebration, Pryor wasn't about to be white washed. His 1982 album Live On Sunset Strip is the single greatest comedy album ever. That may sound like hyperbole, kissing up to a dead guy, but listen to that album. If you doubt comedy can be art, listen to that album. There is not a word wasted.

His stories are dense, rich and always hilarious. The ramblings of Mudbone, one of Pryor's greatest characters and the pseudo-Italian banter of his Mafioso club owners belie an economy, a craft that remains as elegant as it is hilarious. Live On Sunset Strip marked Pryor's return to the stage after his near deadly free-basing accident. I can imagine what it was like in that audience before Richard Pryor went on. "Is he going to talk about it? He's gotta say something, but what? How funny can it be, running down the street with your head on fire?" Well, it's probably the funniest thing I've ever heard.

Pryor's first sentence sets that scene. He starts at that moment so dark, "am I gonna die? Should I?" and then takes us back, his biography and man what a ride. Every comic has a story of a club trying to stiff you, I'm not aware of anybody else where that story ends with a gun in you're hand in a room full of mobsters. Of course, not many comics would have been funny enough to survive that story. From there, Rich takes us to Africa. The man who had embraced the word, had gone along way to claiming it realized on reaching Africa, "Ain't no niggers in Africa." That's what he was about.

Some will say it's a shame he had his demons. It's a shame there was so much pain. You're missing it. We're talking about a man who lay burning in the street and he never lost hope, never quit, never ignored the pain and the hate and the shit in the world but never took an eye off that prize. Oh, and he never missed just how fucking funny it all is.

Thanks Rich

Thank Heavens For Small Favors

Well, here's a spot of good news. It looks like the U.S. has dropped plans for research and the development of new classes of nuclear weapons. The plan had been to develop smaller, lower yield nukes, attach them to warheads designed to penetrate the Earth, and destroy underground bunkers (like the ones that dot North Korea).

I know concerns over nuclear weapons seem so remote, so very 80's, but this was some scary shite! The goal was to create a series of nuclear weapons that would some how be more palatable. I mean, we'd only be making very small glass parking lots. Now combine that with the Bush Doctrine (an idea that doesn't exactly roll off the tongue, has the same gravitas as The Carrot Top Doctrine) of preemption and you've got a recipe for one scary goulash. Basically the idea was "Let's make it easier to start nuclear war!"

On one level, it makes a lot of sense. The nuclear threat provided lots of great entertainment. Who can forget such classic made for TV movies as The Day After or my personal favorite Damnation Alley (Jan-Michael Vincent was such a hunk!)? And what about the big screen? Without a nuclear winter there would be no summers with Mad Max. No The Road Warrior. No Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome and, saddest of all, no one to run Bartertown. Worse yet, without all of these things, Christ would probably never have seen his passion reach the silver screen (Slightly off topic, if you read the Gnostic Gospels, you'll find that Christ was a man of many passions, being tortured on the cross was but one of them. He was also a serious fisherman, was a wine aficionado, and was apparently hell on wheels when it came to backgammon.).

Beyond that, the nuclear threat is way more productive as a societal bugaboo than car bombers and anthrax mailings (Remember those? Scary!). I mean, if you live in fear of terrorists, you might not go to the movies, or Disney World or that pro democracy rally. That's bad for the economy. A good healthy fear of nuclear annihilation on the other hand, that's something we, as a nation, can get behind. Where are you not going to go to avoid nuclear war? You're never going to hear, "It was horrible, the nuclear weapon hit the theater but luckily I was safe across the street in the Bed, Bath & Beyond!" No reason to change your day's plans. Simply go about them with a vague toothache like terror.

Maybe I should rethink my nuclear non-proliferation stance.

Anyhoo, I think it's a good sign. With all the body blows the administration is taking, they seem to be giving up on some of these psychotic side projects (I've always thought Social Security reform is to GW as Wings was to Paul McCartney). Of course, the very idea, the hubris, the unmitigated gall and other huge words that essentially mean brass balls behind this push to open a new arms race (with whom?) is at the very core of this administrations ideals. Embarking on this course meant violating treaties and agreements this nation had agreed to and stood by, in some cases for decades. In the same spirit that didn't bring us the Kyoto Accords "The Buck Stops Here," has been replaced by "The Buck Starts Here and Stops Else Where, Hopefully On The Head Of Some Expendable Underling. (We’re looking at you, Scooter)"

John

I've written about John my neighbor once before. He was looking for a new cat because his old one was wearing out the floor. It didn't make allot of sense at the time. Now it does.

John is seventy-nine years old. Yesterday, John put his cat in a box and carried her the mile distance to the humane society. It was cold and on the way, he'd be walking up hill. She was very sick, she'd lost control of her bowels and that's how she was wearing out the floor.

John has a friend who's younger who does his yard work. He thought about letting him take his cat to the pound, but he said he didn't want to bother anybody else with it. He told me they wanted twenty dollars, he didn't have it. They took her anyway.

"They prob'ly gave her a needle, had her go to sleep, then threw her in a fire," John told me yesterday. "They asked me if she ever bit anybody, I says no. She bit me once when I cut her trimming her nails. I didn't know I'd hurt her, she never bit no body. She was a good cat." I asked him her name and how old she was. After doing some math, he replied, "I had her eighteen years. She didn't have no name. Feller told me, you should call that cat 'Missy' so I did, called the other one Missy Two, Missy, Missy Two, see?"

It was tough listening to him. I really didn't know what to say. I told him I know it's hard. I looked down at my dog, Loki, and said, "I don't look forward to when it's his time." John agreed and said that would be tough.

Today I saw him again. Usually, if we talk, it's about something that happened out front or who isn't putting out their trash or Westerns or his Caprice Classic. It was a captain's car in the police. Today, he told me, "I sure do miss that cat. She's got this toy she plays with at the bottom of the stairs. Meets me in the morning. Toy's still under the table. She's smart. Goes down stairs until I tell her to come up and she does. She knows I don't like her in the closet and she don't go in there. She sits on my lap. She always had weight to her, that cat, but not no more. Her hips, she's something wrong with her."

"Allot of life left the house with her gone," John said after a pause.

I really didn't know what to say. John seemed ready to cry. I know I was. It's hard. I don't think he knows how to open up, and I'm not really sure I want him to. I feel for the guy, I really do. He wants a new cat, maybe. Their eighty dollars at the pound, and his niece tells him he's too old to have a new cat. "But I can take care of the litter box, ain't no trouble," he tells me.

I told him he could find a cat in the paper or the penny saver. I'm sure he'll give it allot of love while he can. I wish there was somebody there to be with him and listen and watch westerns. I feel bad that it isn't me, but it isn't.


White Dwarf Magazine Gamers of Note September 05

Each month, for what seems like eons now, I have trundled over to my local game store to purchase a copy of White Dwarf Magazine and each month, it weighs just a bit heavier on my heart. As I flip through page after glossy page I am struck by images I can not abide. I’ve tried to hold my tongue, but no longer! It is time I, and like minded gamers rise up and protest the quality of miniature painting displayed in this magazine. It is entirely too good and I, for one, am not going to take it anymore!

Miniature painting is an art and, like all art, there are many different styles. One style involves painstakingly modifying your models, scanning bits catalogs for that perfect piece and carving greenstuff to further separate your model from the norm, then, devoting yourself to hours of careful painting on elaborate and realistic color schemes sure to raise “Oohs” and “Ahhs” and perhaps even snare you the coveted Golden Daemon award. That’s one style. There are others.

Take mine for instance. It involves gluing yourself to a paint pot at least 9 times per squad whilst assembling your space marines. Then, and only then, it means opening a fresh can of Dark Angel’s spray and slathering your unit in a fine sheen of green. Then for the Piece de Resistance! Dabs of red paint on the eyes and black for the bolters. Man oh man, the simple elegance is enough to bring tears to the eyes of even the most discerning art critic, but where are the rewards? Where are the “OOHS” and the “Ahhs?” Now I’m not saying I deserve a Golden Daemon. I work in a different genre, but one no less deserving of kudos. This is why I propose the creation of the coveted “I Could Have Painted That” award. It is high time that slacker painters with mediocre skills are recognized!

Further more, I am sick of reading battle reports in White Dwarf and seeing well-crafted armies engaged is slick maneuvers and cunning strategies. I would never have thought of those. Where are the battle reports between simple-minded oafs like yours truly? Where are the battles between one ox-headed laggard and a master strategist that ends up with my entire dwarven army decimated to the last at the cost of a single enemy gobo? Just once, I would like to see the exploits of Thangmar Iron Brains, my stalwart if slightly dim-witted dwarven lord, using my trusty Flailing Pigeon gambit or even more impressively, the terrifying Wall of Delicious Pudding defense! These are the battle reports I want to see!

Finally I would be remiss if I did not address the rich and storied tapestry that is brought each month to further enrich the Warhammer World. We all know about The Emperor and his noble sacrifice confined forever to the horrible depths of The Golden Throne. We’ve heard about the terrible slaughter of psychers by the thousand to feed his withered soul just enough to maintain the beacons that make the Empire of Man a possibility. Yes, I’ve read of the mighty Space Wolves, mightiest warriors of their feral world chosen by trials sure to cripple even the mightiest men to prove their worth and become Space Marines, true supermen and defenders of humanity!

That’s pretty cool. I guess.

Can’t you leave a couple of pages at the back of the book for guys like me that maybe haven’t thought their chapter through quite as much? My chapter hails from a world far off the beaten galactic paths where even rumors of The Emperor are long forgotten. To these noble warriors, there is no godlike Emperor of Man, there is only Phil. By all accounts, Phil’s a swell fellow. He was elected by a clear sixty-two percent majority, and he doesn’t require the sacrifice of thousands of psychers to carry on. Just let him throw out the first pitch on opening day, and he’s cool.

Further, Phil’s greatest defenders, this lost chapter of the Adeptes Astares was not chosen from the warrior nomads that roam the great rolling planes hunting laser beasts! Nay! They’re mostly volunteers who signed up after a hazy night on the town. Yes, friends, tremble at the sight of the “I Signed Up For What Last Night Angels.”

I guess what I’m saying is, I love White Dwarf and look forward each month to the panoply of high quality hobby materials presented within, but even in gaming, it takes a village. I live in the part of the village with a Steam Tank up on blocks in front and a primered Rhino in back. Maybe the black library isn’t going to be publishing the biography of Phil and The Iron Brain Legion won’t be featured on these pages anytime soon, but I have fun and so do my (generally victorious) opponents and that’s all that matters. Of course a little equal time at the very back of the mag wouldn’t hurt either.

Fictional Journal Excerpts

Entry

Samuel’s grave affords me an excellent view of this empty white hell. Miles around, all white, well, white and red. There is a stain where we killed one of the dogs. Except for that, nothing but white and the yellow of our tents but I keep my back to those.

Sam died last night. We took turns beating on his chest but it didn’t help. Neither did the kicks to the ribs. He wanted to die and nothing we did convinced him otherwise. His body lay there in the snow where he collapsed, balled like a pre-born, all night. He lay there and we sat and stared. We stared at him, at each other, at what was left of the dogs and every once in a while some one would get up to beat what had been Samuel again and the rest of us would laugh till someone started crying or vomiting and that’s when I forgot why the hell we were out in this God forsaken nowhere.

Entry:

We slept and then we piled snow on Samuel, it was the least we could do for the lazy lucky fuck. Paulo beat one of the dogs with a shovel, I cut the meat from it and Miguel fed him to his teammates.

Entry:

At least the dogs don’t know what is happening to us. We began the expedition with forty-eight of them. Now there are twenty-nine, only nineteen can still pull, of the remaining ten four must ride on the sleds. We’ll kill them soon. The team needs to eat.

Entry:

It has been three days since my last entry and time is loosing significance. I run for hours along the sled but it is all in hard white circles. We left Sedatboro at 8:15 AM 87 days ago, it is now 9:10 PM but time has become insignificant. Each paw beet is a tick of some watch, each footfall forever. Each day seems to stretch a thousand years, each hour a lifetime, my lifetime, my life is the blink of an eye, a tree by the road.

There is no time in this cold. Blood freezes black before it meets the earth, two minutes without my seal skin means a lifetime, the rise and fall of a shovel is eternity. I can’t remember the last tree, a blink in my eye, one hundred years in the earth filling my dream of dreams, the pear trees of my home. There is no time for dreams now, sleep is an instant, a quick pause in our struggle. My dreams must dance somewhere over the horizon, calling me, bleeding into the white before hardening.

Time means nothing, forever is a wall before me, the past stretches forever behind me, a wisp wrapped about my neck. Now? There is no now save the ice, frozen. I introduce my watch to the shovel.

Date:

The white has broken. A great orange scythe has rent a horizon for us. Three days with hardly a break we’ve spent tearing after the hole. Even the dogs know it is our only chance. They run like demons, like the wolves are back, or the shovel.

I don’t know why we use the shovel.

Date:

There are shapes forming in the light. Familiar shapes. Shapes that can not be, but so clearly are. I see home, the skyline of home, covered in people. Is that the groan of ice or the sound of taxis? I see Maria. She waves to me from the top of my home. There are great frothing packs of them. They busy themselves but always with an eye towards me. They can not hide it. How can one expect to hide such yellow eyes?

Miguel has just collapsed. The horizon has overwhelmed him. We can not carry him, we can not slow in our pursuit. The team needs life. The dogs run so hard. My heart is raging in my chest.

I see Samuel’s mother now. She is waving to us. She has a pot of soup. She does not know that he is done. Please, Mama, stay in the light. Stay in the great burning orange. If only you knew, knew what cold wraps the white.


Date:

The sunset still lies before us. We make a line towards it but the line fails. The lead dog disappears before me, then the next. One by one the team falls away. The dogs pull the sled downward and I am in air. I feel the sky about me, biting.

I wake amidst a pile of husky, hard ice at my temple cold sealed to the torn flesh. My ears are filled with chunks of blood but I rip it away with the skin. I leave my beard of mucus crust and raise my eyes to meet Miguel and Paulo. They lower their dogs from the cliff top. I check for breaks but there are none save the straightness.

I fear where I will be sent by the weight of the falling sun.

Date:

Day is gone. The arctic night now squats on the ice, her fire belly sagging low and we are hurled ferociously downward. The end of day came soon after Miguel’s collapse. Miguel lay there on the sled with lips frozen grey his eyes caught in a whimper. Paulo dragged him from the sled and I found myself alive again.

I began to circle. Circle like a vulture. Circle like an indian caught in some mad date. I saw the sky, the sky, my hand out stretched, then the snow, the sky, black and orange and red then the snow, white, white and red and red and red, my legs, my sled, Paulo, the sky, Paulo’s legs about Miguel, the sky, black orange and red, the shovel, rusted black and red. Paulo, the shovel, Miguel. The shovel beats a rhythm for my mad dance. My voice joins the chorus of screams, Miguel’s thick, wet, cry, Paulo’s grunts, pushing, the dogs accompanying wail and my voice joins another, one from outside the camp, something wild that flings me into ecstasy like the first shots of spring. My circles spin, my arms flail and I fall to the white waiting for my shovel.

The sky burns now, alive with northern fire.

Date:

The dogs are ragged. They have difficulty pulling the near empty sleds. It is Samuel’s favorite that leads my sled. There will be no shock for them. We have entered Alaska, the past looms before us like some future. A few hundred miles to go and I am swallowed in terror. I can not believe there is an end or even a movement. What will we find, or rather, what will find us? I am troubled by a world that has yet to meet me.

I look to Paulo, there is dread in him. He has left much. I do not know who he will be, or even if he will continue to be at all.

Date:

Today we arrive in Deadhorse, Alaska. I see the city through eyes Samuel has given me. Once it seemed so familiar, not Deadhorse, I’ve never seen Deadhorse, but the city. We walk through the supermarket surrounded by eyes. Dim yellow orbs lurking, waiting. At the end of each aisle they wait, ready to tear me apart, feast on what I’m made of. As if they knew.

Deadhorse is a pipeline town, maybe two hundred people. It seems like two-million, two-million aliens, two-million questions, two-million wolves. Part of me longs to return to the cold. To lie down and let the great white arms grope me, take me to Samuel, let him show me the me before, but I can not. I must return, return to the world that was, back into my mother city, naked for a new birth. Will that first chill breath have the same way with me? Will it devour me, take me, or simply ignore me, allow me? I go back for the answers.

Paulo will not return, he has found his way. I left him burying his shovel. The cold death did not bring him new life, it took him. Stilled him.

Samuel still breaths, Miguel still fills me. Who I am now is all of us. I know what it means to be fed upon, to feed. Now I must know again.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

One Good Thing About Music II


A Kiss and say Goodbye....
I am reminded of a video by Howard Jones. The eighties introduced me to MTV. And MTV introduced me to things that allow me to call myself eclectic in my old age. Anyway the song had a line in it(which I think was the title as well):
"What is love anyway?
Does anybody love anybody
anyway."
So I suppose my tendency towards the maudlin romantic gives credence to a lot of these SynthPop "love" songs. And High Fidelity(the film not the book) really affected me.
And why am I saying all this. Cause I finally accepted that the other person in this picture that I thought I would love forever has ended things. Like any other over dramatic person I have to make some public declaration of the end of this relationship. Cause I don't wanna seem like I didn't have any say in the ending. Which I really don't think I did in any way but passive/aggressively. To wit:
I listened to angry songs for two weeks. I read Toni Morrison's Love (really the book on disc as I road up and down the mountains from Montgomery to Baltimore then back again) and repeatedly mumbled, "true dat" like I understood what she meant. I painted pictures that had nothing to do with her and tried to be nonchalant around the people who I ran into and knew us as a couple. Then I rediscovered Al Green and Stevie Wonder and Fiona Apple(the first album) and I think everything is getting better. I made peace with the idea that I still love her but its over. I made peace with the idea that this may be better for me. And I made peace with the realization that though our last meeting was very anticlimactic it was the climax. And its over.
I stopped writing poetry years ago cause I was tired of turning echoes of past events into shining gems. Oh yeah and I had fallen in love again. Now that I'm back out, I'm trying not to write any poems but I am writing and drawing and painting. And a lot of it is about Her. But I've been here before. And I've gotten over this before. But I have to be honest about right now. So "this is the last day of our acquaintance" and I am done carrying it on my chest. This is my Goodbye... for me. So I can't go back. So I won't go back. Because something ending is always something beginning.
But damn.
Love Stinks.
Hope Eternal/06

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Hi Everybody

I’m glad we have IRF again and I’m interested to see what it can turn into in blog form. It seems to me that there is great potential in an IRF blog. I don’t know what it is, but if it’s there this group can find it. I hope Kevin becomes involved in this new incarnation, I pleasure to think of him reading my submissions and hope to get a chance to read and see his. (Yes, I’m using “pleasure” as a verb, and no it’s not disgusting).

By way of introduction I’d like to present a series of thoughts I had on a particular day last week. The first couple read like a list of my favorite cliches:

“Every journey must start somewhere”
Every thing we do is a journey and something must start it. The beginning of some things seems pointless or stupid, or just plain sucks. But it’s unavoidable; you can’t start in the middle. So just start in the beginning, it’s always a worthwhile place to start.


and


“It ain’t worth doin’ if it ain’t worth doing right”
That is to say – do it right, not don’t do it.


Then I got angry at National Geographic Magazine. It was lying on my kitchen table, the cover screaming “Africa: Whatever you thought – Think again!”


You don’t know what I’m thinking, editors at National Geographic! And you can’t tell me what to do – or what to think! That’s ridiculous. If you’re going to tell me something new about Africa, something you think I am unaware of, that’s fine. If you’re looking to change my opinion by presenting new evidence on a topic I thought I was learned in, that’s fine too. But don’t think to presume superiority or assume ignorance.


In the essay Politics of the English LanguageGeorge Orwell writes that the English Language is in a bad way because “our thoughts are foolish, [...] the slovenliness of our language makes it easier for us to have foolish thoughts.” We are not aware of our words, the ones we read and hear, and the ones we write and speak. Because of this, our thoughts are unclear and “to think clearly is a necessary first step toward political regeneration. How can we accomplish any real goals if our brains are all mucked-up with decaying language. I recommend anyone interested in writing read this essay.


I’m not really mad at National Geographic. It’s just that words mean so much. Nowadays they’re thrown about haphazardly by everyone trying to be catchy or sound hip. It seems as if news organizations are more concerned with being witty than reporting the news. A witty headline, I think, detracts from the report to the reporting and, I don’t care how silly it sounds, every time I pass that National Geographic on my way to and from the kitchen (40-50 times a day) I will read that I have to think again ... somehow I’m wrong, or ignorant. If I don’t want to be wrong or ignorant, I had better read Nat’l Geographic

Monday, January 02, 2006

welcome back

it has been all too long sinse my last irf entry. this one will do nothing to rememdy that.

Welcome

Hello Gentlemen,

I've asked you all here for a reason.
This is IRF. The future of our creative alliance, online and available for horizontal collaboration. It is what we make it.

Let's get to it.

 
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