36

“Jesus is Just Alright,” by the Moody Blues plays overhead from the drop off parking area of the casino. The Beachside Resort and Casino.

My wife and I were blazed as fuck, I mean tore up, when we walked out to meet our shuttle driver for the satellite hotel, who was waiting to take us back down the main strip. His name was Stan, Stan the man, “Ok here we geaux folks,” the music is drowned out as the double doors to the van shut, the brakes squeeze, sqwoosh, and we head out. Stan is a nice guy, a good ‘ole fashioned kind of gay, never realized it, kept repressing it, for the longest time until he had a daughter, with his ex wife, Sherry. moved out, got divorced. Now he drives the Beachside shuttle at nights and waits tables at a breakfast diner down the strip. It’s not exactly a gay Haven out here, so it’s kind of a lonely existence if it weren’t for his daughter, which is exactly why he has no regrets.  

 

We’re here celebrating my 36th. We got a whole day before the kids meet us, so we’re doing it right, just like the old days, smokin’, drinkin’, fuckin’, we plan on being the seediest couple in the motel tonight, we won’t be.  

 

Terry Ann catches a ride with Stan the man, she sits in the way back, in the shadows, with her thirteen y/o granddaughter, who sits, mortified, looking bored like a real sweetheart, “ch’ya ri ight, chhh’ this little sweetheart right here won’t do her chores, won’t do her homework, and I know she’s stealin’ my rum.”

She isn’t.

 

Anyway Terry Ann tells us we’re a real sweet couple, she starts talking us up, like she done any night a young couple is in town, plenty of em pass through, that’s all this town is anyway, passers through, drunks, lovers, sunsetters, and Terry Ann.

 

Moxie doesn’t like Terry Ann, well she doesn’t not like her, she just kinda can’t stand being around her, it’s a constant reminder of how her mother left her, and her daddy, who’d been leaving both of them since she can remember.

 

Terry Ann’d been following booze all her life. Grew up about an hour south of Coeur d’Alene Idaho, followed her first drunk husband to Spokane, settled down, got beat, had her only daughter. After the last time she got beat she took her daughter and left, continued on to the coast. “Hey, we drove through Coeur d’Alene once on our way to Montana.” Her daughter did about the same as she did, married a drunk and an abuser, though she was smart, “‘cause he was native.” When her daughter left Terry Ann took in Moxie and they been doin’ the best they could ever since.

 

“Did’ya get to spin the wheel?” she said under a half buried smile. She knows we spun the wheel, they all spin the wheel.

Stan the Man sure was being quiet, and that silence made me feel isolated, watched. How did I get this way anyway, so separated from anyone else, where does that come from? now it all starts to sink in, the quietude of space. I’m an asshole. How will Moxie remember this interaction? probably not much in the long term, but it’ll probably be thrown in with the other late night shuttle ride conversations, people being fake, distant, polite, but acting like they’re on some kind of pedestal, what makes me better than them? cause I live in a bigger town, cause I have other addictions that I think are ‘better’. Goddamn I’m an asshole. now this karma shit starts to hangover my head, like ‘cause I’m responsible for contributing to Moxie’s fucked up outlook on life, and furthering her alienation from people. Aren’t we all just furthering our alienation from people. We pull up to the motel, the brakes squeeze and Stan opens the door at the same time the shuttle comes to a stop. Thank cod. we stand up and I, trying to make up for my previous self, turn to Terry Ann and Moxie and say, “Well it was real nice to meet you,” and shake her hand. But that doesn’t do anything to make me feel better, because that’s exactly it, I was trying to make myself feel better.

 

We get into the motel room and my wife disappears to put on her new bra and panties she bought just for tonight. in order to get myself in the mood I turn on reruns of Seinfeld,

 

Kramer: I still don’t understand what the problem is having her in the building.

Jerry: Let me explain something to you. You see, you’re not normal. You’re a great guy, I love you, but – – you’re a pod.

 

“Oh. My. God. this is disgusting, I can’t believe it! There is a stain in my new panties!”

“Do you think someone tried them on and…”

“That’s gross.”

“Could you go look at them?” sure enough slug trail down the crotch.

“That’s like a dude trying on underwear and starting to jerk it and like precumming in them and putting them back. Ooh maybe that’s what happened…”

“Maybe,”

“Cause women aren’t perverts right? if it was a woman then people need to know, we can’t just have everyone thinking that only guys are perverts that precum in the dressing room at a department store and put the underwear back on a shelf… Where’s my phone?”

“Oh, I can’t believe it!”

 

“I,” Seinfeld continues, “on the other hand am a human being, I sometimes feel awkward, uncomfortable, even inhibited in certain situations with the other human beings…”

 

“Terry Ann and Moxie were really sweet,” I say distractedly. “I can’t believe I forgot to introduce us.”

“Who the fuck is Terry Ann and Moxie?”

“From the shuttle,”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about, they never even said their names. And plus she was drunk.”

“But sweet.”

“Whatever.”

Magnolia Park

Found myself near Magnolia park today around lunch. A strange name for a park with no magnolia trees. Actually it’s in the magnolia neighborhood in Seattle and according to wikipedia both were misnamed by a Navy geographer. Dumbass.

Actually the park is full of Madrona trees, which according to local lore are considered good luck and if you buy a house with one in the yard, well you’ve got a keeper.

Madrona trees in the fore and some kind of ship, with the cascade mountain range in the distance.

I went to the park hoping to find something special. It turned out it was nothing special. I hoped to find some kind of inspiration, though it was nothing special. I sat and listened to the sprinklers, waiting for something to come, but I could only repeat the line, there is nothing special. When nothing is special, everything becomes special.

Cascading mountains,

Red hawk nesting, laughing at

All my efforting.

Erasure Poem from Emile, or Education Book IV by Jean-Jacques Rousseau

look down from glory upon the sufferings of the unfortunate,
the labours of the wretched,
thoroughly aware
these unhappy persons

standing on the edge of the abyss,

put no trust in birth, health, or riches; sunk below the condition

of these wretched ones.
acquire knowledge,

learn to perceive the prudence of mankind
grinding teeth

do not teach
see and feel the calamities which overtake men
cling more closely to fear that is what matters most.

From Emile, or Education by Jean-Jacques Rousseau

Future NPR Copy

“There came a time when I had to realize there were two of me out there.”

Thad Sandstrom is a student at Seattle University, he says the other ‘him’ is his Internet Identity.

“I don’t know I guess I just like the internet me better,” he says while he scrolls through his most frequented sites, introducing me to the communities he’s joined. But Thad had something else up his sleeve.

“I’m quiting reality.”

“You’re quiting reality?”

“Yes.”

“How? How does one quit reality?”

“I don’t know I mean I guess I’m like going to take a vacation or something,”

Thad’s friends say he hasn’t always been the most motivated guy,

“Not this, no, nothing like this.”

“I don’t know how he’ll quit, but if there’s anyone who could it would be Thad.”

-I’m Gregory Daniels. That was about one year ago, we recently tried to catch up with Thad, but according to his friends he melted into the couch with his VR set strapped to his head, after masterbating over 500 times to VR porn.

“Hmmhmm, well that’s interesting. Thanks Gregory. Coming up next we have…

Wood Block Project #1

So I’ve had this woodblock project post sitting in the drafts pile for a while now and I’ve been working on some new woodblock designs. So I figured I should show off my first attempt as well! I had this vision while I was trying to fall asleep. While I knew I wasn’t asleep the shadowy image on the wall, looking over me, sure made me feel like I was in one. The shadows and light layered over one another which brought about a hue around the edges and seemed to move the figure like some kind of 3-D image.

It was clearly a face on the wall, as it always is. Once I looked deeper though I realized that a lamp shade is what made up the mouth shape, slits of light were the eyes, the convex ceiling was the top of the head. The two walls join at an angle which really made the figure pop. It was at this point that I figured I either had to draw the Buddha figure watching over me lest I be haunted by misfortune. Over the following days I worked out the sketch, changing proportions and trying to find the right shape. This is what I settled on.

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Now I have only had one chance to try a woodblock and that was a while ago. So its really no surprise that while carving the block I had some gouges and imperfections, though it was fun I wasn’t sure if the end product would turn out.

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“Top Knot”

I ended up needing to go back and cut a little deeper in the nose, and mouth area. You can see along the border where the knife slipped and some of the smaller areas are really gouged at. I’m still looking for some good quality paper to put a black and white draft on. I had some black paper around the house and wanted to try some prints.

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Not exactly as excited as I was when I started. The raised face takes away from the cool outline. This was the better print that turned out after trying a few. While I was working on the nose I took a bit too much out which you can see clearly here. I also had a tough time getting a smooth print. You can see where I lifted the block the little bubbly areas that I think are either from too much ink, or not the right type of paper, or both. I’d like to try this image again, I think it’s really cool and could look great on a t-shirt.

This weekend I plan on sketching a new design, I’d like to make a nice archival butterfly picture for my wife.

Spring Sprung Frogs

Last night the kids were watching TV and I wanted to sketch. I started with the intention to clear my mind. I wanted to have no conceptions, no ideas in my mind before putting pen to paper. To draw a line with no judgment, opens a world of possibilities and makes the work a lot less worrisome. Though to just decide to drop the narrative in one swift moment and release is such a subtle piece of business. For someone like me the subtlety  of such business would take a long while on my cushion, with silence, and it still might not even come. So, it didn’t exactly work, at least not in the way I expected. I sketched a loop and a line across the base and this was all the mind needed to form an intention; with just these two lines it had become clear that it was a frog. Now to say that having intention is the same as conceptualizing is, I think, the subtle difference between being liberated from, or being tied to an idea. Because intention is just at this point frog, and a willingness to change if the idea of frog turns into something else. Conceptualizing would have been to take it further; Pacman frog sitting near a serene creek with a mountains and trees in the backdrop. Which then becomes a little more rigid, and fixed, and eventually gives rise to the judging mind. The artwork then becomes only an expression of the shackles of limitation. I formed the body and began to cut in a few tufts of grass near his feet, then gave him a familiar frog smile. At this point I saw the distinct horns of the Pacman frog we saw at the pet store earlier in the day. So I went with it and continued adding rocks nearby. I wondered what he would look like in his natural environment, not backed up in the glass corner of a bare terrarium. This wonder gave rise to the rest of the picture: a Pacman frog sitting near a serene creek with mountains and thickets nearby.

PacmanFrog1

Not exactly masterful. Maybe whimsical. Not timeless, but fixed to a particular time and memory. Immediately after I finished I noticed a few spots that I could have made better; I could have added more detail to the mountains, made a stretch of treeline to give it depth, and added detail to the frog, or at least created bolder lines. But alas the kids were done with the TV. The reaction of my son was really what it was all about. His smile brought the picture to life.

Within the past few weeks while I walk the dog at night you can hear the little tree frogs from different wetland preserves around the neighborhood croaking in sinuous unison. My son and I love the croaking, a constant wave of croaking. We’ll go to the chain link fenced preserve and see if we can spot any venturing out of the pond and onto the river rocks. The noise is very loud, so much so that we don’t even bother to try to talk over it. Usually though it only lasts about a minute or so until we’ve been spotted and word gets out to shut off the croak box. Then silence descends and its as if there was never anything there at all, because to get a glimpse of them is nearly impossible.

Not only this bit of inspiration but I’ve fallen in love with the master Hakuin Ekaku and his work. He evokes such uncompromising commitment. Some prints are so childlike that the viewer can’t help but feel overwhelming joy. His lines are bold and in his work is the essence of Zen, there is perfection in his imperfection.

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And so of course I’ve been working out my own sumi paintings of frogs.

 

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Spring has suddenly become more obvious; the cherry trees are in full bloom, birds are nesting, the frogs are croaking in an undulating rhythm that makes one sure there is some kind of mating dance accompanied with it, and you may have noticed that the produce in the grocery store has been grown a little bit closer to home. This brings to mind the theme of new beginnings that comes with spring, the ceaseless beginnings and endings that make up life on earth, and the reminder that we also live in a way that is reflective of the seasons, even if we realize it or not. We can use art as a way to get in step with the natural rhythm of the mind and body. By being willing to open up to the intention frees us to accept outcomes and circumstances for what they are and deal with them more fluidly. For when we get stuck in an idea, or a concept we become fixed and rigid.

So needless to say clearing my mind from outside as well as past influences didn’t exactly work, however I did find that open spot, free from judgment, which allowed the creativity to flow. I might even say for a minute I got a glimpse of being free from the concepts of this fleeting world of form.

It’s the Future Man

Man,

Oh man,

people say to me,

Well I’m a Jesus man,

others say yeah

I’m a Buddha man,

people walkin’ down the street

say I’m for Mohammed

Man

Oh man

Man

Oh man

 

The other day someone says to me,

Hey,

I’m an Ai man,

Technology is the future

Man.

 

Well, well, well, well

I’m the man,

I’m the future man

I’m the future man

I’m the future man

 

It seems to me we’re all lookin’

for a future that’s incomplete.

We’re better off

walkin’ through

parking lots.

 

Oh man,

Hey man,

Oh man,

Hey man,

 

The other day some junkie

says to me,

I believe in human rights

I believe in

safe consumption sites.

Why are you always

hasslin’ me

tryin’ to take me

off the streets.

I don’ wanna

I don’ wanna

I don’ wanna

 

I’m the future man,

Hey

I’m the future man,

I’m the future man.  

 

We’re just waitin’ out our days

for something better

to take us away

We’re just whiling away

the hours lookin’

at the issues.

What’s the real issue?

We all want something

to believe in

something to take away the pain

walkin’ through parking lots.

Hey

I’m the future man.