Sunday, March 05, 2017

"Finding the Truth" series. A new piece.

Well, I did a bunch of "Finding the Truth" pieces during the baby Bush administration (see exhibition review at bottom of page) and, for some reason, have been moved to revisit this series after our current President's recent address to a joint session of congress.

What is it? It's Trump's prepared speech. Verbatim. Nothing added or subtracted or moved around. Everything as it was and in its place. I've merely highlighted certain words by making them larger and redder. If you read through these large, red words in order, you will find what I believe is the truth of the President's agenda.

Here below (top) is a digital version of the actual printed piece. Click on it to view it bigger. Below that is the red-letter-only text and below that is a more readable version of the actual prepared speech.  Enjoy.


* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


(verbatim from prepared transcript)

Tonight, as we mark the 
celebration of 
vandalism of
truth, liberty and justice --I am here
to deliver a message
middle class
It’s been a little over a month since my inauguration, and I want to take this moment to
government corruption
that threatens the future
their financial dreams. 
the American family that loses their jobs, their income, or a loved one, because
my Administration
 — a network of lawless
making it easier for companies to
protective policy
we do not
care.  Mandating
no choice
the plan for
women’s health, and
to advance the common good,
be free to choose
a voice
Finally, to keep America Safe we must
as the Bible teaches us,
faith in
all salute
the same God.
From now on, America will be
guided by our vision
God bless you, and God Bless these United States.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


FEBRUARY 28, 2017
(verbatim from prepared transcript)

Mr. Speaker, Mr. Vice President, Members of Congress, the First Lady of the United States, and Citizens of America:
Tonight, as we mark the conclusion of our celebration of Black History Month, we are reminded of our Nation’s path toward civil rights and the work that still remains. Recent threats targeting Jewish Community Centers and vandalism of Jewish cemeteries, as well as last week’s shooting in Kansas City, remind us that while we may be a Nation divided on policies, we are a country that stands united in condemning hate and evil in all its forms. Each American generation passes the torch of truth, liberty and justice -- in an unbroken chain all the way down to the present. That torch is now in our hands. And we will use it to light up the world. I am here tonight to deliver a message of unity and strength, and it is a message deeply delivered from my heart. A new chapter of American Greatness is now beginning. A new national pride is sweeping across our Nation. And a new surge of optimism is placing impossible dreams firmly within our grasp. What we are witnessing today is the Renewal of the American Spirit. Our allies will find that America is once again ready to lead. All the nations of the world — friend or foe — will find that America is strong, America is proud, and America is free. In 9 years, the United States will celebrate the 250th anniversary of our founding — 250 years since the day we declared our Independence. It will be one of the great milestones in the history of the world. But what will America look like as we reach our 250th year? What kind of country will we leave for our children? I will not allow the mistakes of recent decades past to define the course of our future. For too long, we’ve watched our middle class shrink as we’ve exported our jobs and wealth to foreign countries. We’ve financed and built one global project after another, but ignored the fates of our children in the inner cities of Chicago, Baltimore, Detroit — and so many other places throughout our land. We’ve defended the borders of other nations, while leaving our own borders wide open, for anyone to cross — and for drugs to pour in at a now unprecedented rate. And we’ve spent trillions of dollars overseas, while our infrastructure at home has so badly crumbled. Then, in 2016, the earth shifted beneath our feet. The rebellion started as a quiet protest, spoken by families of all colors and creeds -– families who just wanted a fair shot for their children, and a fair hearing for their concerns. But then the quiet voices became a loud chorus — as thousands of citizens now spoke out together, from cities small and large, all across our country. Finally, the chorus became an earthquake – and the people turned out by the tens of millions, and they were all united by one very simple, but crucial demand, that America must put its own citizens first … because only then, can we truly MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN. Dying industries will come roaring back to life. Heroic veterans will get the care they so desperately need. Our military will be given the resources its brave warriors so richly deserve. Crumbling infrastructure will be replaced with new roads, bridges, tunnels, airports and railways gleaming across our beautiful land. Our terrible drug epidemic will slow down and ultimately, stop. And our neglected inner cities will see a rebirth of hope, safety, and opportunity. Above all else, we will keep our promises to the American people.It’s been a little over a month since my inauguration, and I want to take this moment to update the Nation on the progress I’ve made in keeping those promises. Since my election, Ford, Fiat-Chrysler, General Motors, Sprint, Softbank, Lockheed, Intel, Walmart, and many others, have announced that they will invest billions of dollars in the United States and will create tens of thousands of new American jobs. The stock market has gained almost three trillion dollars in value since the election on November 8th, a record. We’ve saved taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars by bringing down the price of the fantastic new F-35 jet fighter, and will be saving billions more dollars on contracts all across our Government.We have placed a hiring freeze on non-military and non-essential Federal workers. We have begun to drain the swamp of government corruption by imposing a 5 year ban on lobbying by executive branch officials –- and a lifetime ban on becoming lobbyists for a foreign government. We have undertaken a historic effort to massively reduce job-crushing regulations, creating a deregulation task force inside of every Government agency; imposing a new rule which mandates that for every 1 new regulation, 2 old regulations must be eliminated; and stopping a regulation that threatens the future and livelihoods of our great coal miners. We have cleared the way for the construction of the Keystone and Dakota Access Pipelines — thereby creating tens of thousands of jobs — and I’ve issued a new directive that new American pipelines be made with American steel. We have withdrawn the United States from the job-killing Trans-Pacific Partnership. With the help of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, we have formed a Council with our neighbors in Canada to help ensure that women entrepreneurs have access to the networks, markets and capital they need to start a business and live out their financial dreams. To protect our citizens, I have directed the Department of Justice to form a Task Force on Reducing Violent Crime. I have further ordered the Departments of Homeland Security and Justice, along with the Department of State and the Director of National Intelligence, to coordinate an aggressive strategy to dismantle the criminal cartels that have spread across our Nation. We will stop the drugs from pouring into our country and poisoning our youth — and we will expand treatment for those who have become so badly addicted. At the same time, my Administration has answered the pleas of the American people for immigration enforcement and border security. By finally enforcing our immigration laws, we will raise wages, help the unemployed, save billions of dollars, and make our comunities safer for everyone. We want all Americans to succeed –- but that can’t happen in an environment of lawless chaos. We must restore integrity and the rule of law to our borders. For that reason, we will soon begin the construction of a great wall along our southern border. It will be started ahead of schedule and, when finished, it will be a very effective weapon against drugs and crime. As we speak, we are removing gang members, drug dealers and criminals that threaten our communities and prey on our citizens. Bad ones are going out as I speak tonight and as I have promised. To any in Congress who do not believe we should enforce our laws, I would ask you this question: what would you say to the American family that loses their jobs, their income, or a loved one, because America refused to uphold its laws and defend its borders? Our obligation is to serve, protect, and defend the citizens of the United States. We are also taking strong measures to protect our Nation from Radical Islamic Terrorism. According to data provided by the Department of Justice, the vast majority of individuals convicted for terrorism-related offenses since 9/11 came here from outside of our country. We have seen the attacks at home -– from Boston to San Bernardino to the Pentagon and yes, even the World Trade Center. We have seen the attacks in France, in Belgium, in Germany and all over the world. It is not compassionate, but reckless, to allow uncontrolled entry from places where proper vetting cannot occur. Those given the high honor of admission to the United States should support this country and love its people and its values. We cannot allow a beachhead of terrorism to form inside America — we cannot allow our Nation to become a sanctuary for extremists. That is why my Administration has been working on improved vetting procedures, and we will shortly take new steps to keep our Nation safe — and to keep out those who would do us harm. As promised, I directed the Department of Defense to develop a plan to demolish and destroy ISIS — a network of lawless savages that have slaughtered Muslims and Christians, and men, women, and children of all faiths and beliefs. We will work with our allies, including our friends and allies in the Muslim world, to extinguish this vile enemy from our planet. I have also imposed new sanctions on entities and individuals who support Iran’s ballistic missile program, and reaffirmed our unbreakable alliance with the State of Israel. Finally, I have kept my promise to appoint a Justice to the United States Supreme Court — from my list of 20 judges — who will defend our Constitution. I am honored to have Maureen Scalia with us in the gallery tonight. Her late, great husband, Antonin Scalia, will forever be a symbol of American justice. To fill his seat, we have chosen Judge Neil Gorsuch, a man of incredible skill, and deep devotion to the law. He was confirmed unanimously to the Court of Appeals, and I am asking the Senate to swiftly approve his nomination. Tonight, as I outline the next steps we must take as a country, we must honestly acknowledge the circumstances we inherited. Ninety-four million Americans are out of the labor force. Over 43 million people are now living in poverty, and over 43 million Americans are on food stamps. More than 1 in 5 people in their prime working years are not working. We have the worst financial recovery in 65 years. In the last 8 years, the past Administration has put on more new debt than nearly all other Presidents combined. We’ve lost more than one-fourth of our manufacturing jobs since NAFTA was approved, and we’ve lost 60,000 factories since China joined the World Trade Organization in 2001. Our trade deficit in goods with the world last year was nearly $800 billion dollars. And overseas, we have inherited a series of tragic foreign policy disasters. Solving these, and so many other pressing problems, will require us to work past the differences of party. It will require us to tap into the American spirit that has overcome every challenge throughout our long and storied history. But to accomplish our goals at home and abroad, we must restart the engine of the American economy — making it easier for companies to do business in the United States, and much harder for companies to leave. Right now, American companies are taxed at one of the highest rates anywhere in the world. My economic team is developing historic tax reform that will reduce the tax rate on our companies so they can compete and thrive anywhere and with anyone. At the same time, we will provide massive tax relief for the middle class. We must create a level playing field for American companies and workers. Currently, when we ship products out of America, many other countries make us pay very high tariffs and taxes — but when foreign companies ship their products into America, we charge them almost nothing. I just met with officials and workers from a great American company, Harley-Davidson. In fact, they proudly displayed five of their magnificent motorcycles, made in the USA, on the front lawn of the White House. At our meeting, I asked them, how are you doing, how is business? They said that it’s good. I asked them further how they are doing with other countries, mainly international sales. They told me — without even complaining because they have been mistreated for so long that they have become used to it — that it is very hard to do business with other countries because they tax our goods at such a high rate. They said that in one case another country taxed their motorcycles at 100 percent. They weren’t even asking for change. But I am. I believe strongly in free trade but it also has to be FAIR TRADE. The first Republican President, Abraham Lincoln, warned that the “abandonment of the protective policy by the American Government [will] produce want and ruin among our people.” Lincoln was right — and it is time we heeded his words. I am not going to let America and its great companies workers, be taken advantage of anymore. I am going to bring back millions of jobs. Protecting our workers also means reforming our system of legal immigration. The current, outdated system depresses wages for our poorest workers, and puts great pressure on taxpayers. Nations around the world, like Canada, Australia and many others –- have a merit-based immigration system. It is a basic principle that those seeking to enter a country ought to be able to support themselves financially. Yet, in America, we do not enforce this rule, straining the very public resources that our poorest citizens rely upon. According to the National Academy of Sciences, our current immigration system costs America’s taxpayers many billions of dollars a year. Switching away from this current system of lower-skilled immigration, and instead adopting a merit-based system, will have many benefits: it will save countless dollars, raise workers’ wages, and struggling families –- including immigrant families –- enter the middle class. I believe that real and positive immigration reform is possible, as long as we focus on the following goals: to improve jobs and wages for Americans, to strengthen our nation’s security, and to restore respect for our laws. If we are guided by the well-being of American citizens then I believe Republicans and Democrats can work together to achieve an outcome that has eluded our country for decades. Another Republican President, Dwight D. Eisenhower, initiated the last truly great national infrastructure program –- the building of the interstate highway system. The time has come for a new program of national rebuilding. America has spent approximately six trillion dollars in the Middle East, all this while our infrastructure at home is crumbling. With this six trillion dollars we could have rebuilt our country –- twice. And maybe even three times if we had people who had the ability to negotiate. To launch our national rebuilding, I will be asking the Congress to approve legislation that produces a $1 trillion investment in the infrastructure of the United States — financed through both public and private capital –- creating millions of new jobs. This effort will be guided by two core principles: Buy American, and Hire American. Tonight, I am also calling on this Congress to repeal and replace Obamacare with reforms that expand choice, increase access, lower costs, and at the same time, provide better Healthcare.  Mandating every American to buy government-approved health insurance was never the right solution for America. The way to make health insurance available to everyone is to lower the cost of health insurance, and that is what we will do. Obamacare premiums nationwide have increased by double and triple digits. As an example, Arizona went up 116 percent last year alone. Governor Matt Bevin of Kentucky just said Obamacare is failing in his State — it is unsustainable and collapsing. One third of counties have only one insurer on the exchanges –- leaving many Americans with no choice at all. Remember when you were told that you could keep your doctor, and keep your plan? We now know that all of those promises have been broken. Obamacare is collapsing –- and we must act decisively to protect all Americans. Action is not a choice –- it is a necessity. So I am calling on all Democrats and Republicans in the Congress to work with us to save Americans from this imploding Obamacare disaster. Here are the principles that should guide the Congress as we move to create a better healthcare system for all Americans: First, we should ensure that Americans with pre-existing conditions have access to coverage, and that we have a stable transition for Americans currently enrolled in the healthcare exchanges. Secondly, we should help Americans purchase their own coverage, through the use of tax credits and expanded Health Savings Accounts –- but it must be the plan they want, not the plan forced on them by the Government. Thirdly, we should give our great State Governors the resources and flexibility they need with Medicaid to make sure no one is left out. Fourthly, we should implement legal reforms that protect patients and doctors from unnecessary costs that drive up the price of insurance – and work to bring down the artificially high price of drugs and bring them down immediately. Finally, the time has come to give Americans the freedom to purchase health insurance across State lines –- creating a truly competitive national marketplace that will bring cost way down and provide far better care. Everything that is broken in our country can be fixed. Every problem can be solved. And every hurting family can find healing, and hope. Our citizens deserve this, and so much more –- so why not join forces to finally get it done? On this and so many other things, Democrats and Republicans should get together and unite for the good of our country, and for the good of the American people. My administration wants to work with members in both parties to make childcare accessible and affordable, to help ensure new parents have paid family leave, to invest in women’s health, and to promote clean air and clear water, and to rebuild our military and our infrastructure. True love for our people requires us to find common ground, to advance the common good, and to cooperate on behalf of every American child who deserves a brighter future. An incredible young woman is with us this evening who should serve as an inspiration to us all. Today is Rare Disease day, and joining us in the gallery is a Rare Disease Survivor, Megan Crowley. Megan was diagnosed with Pompe Disease, a rare and serious illness, when she was 15 months old. She was not expected to live past 5. On receiving this news, Megan’s dad, John, fought with everything he had to save the life of his precious child. He founded a company to look for a cure, and helped develop the drug that saved Megan’s life. Today she is 20 years old — and a sophomore at Notre Dame. Megan’s story is about the unbounded power of a father’s love for a daughter. But our slow and burdensome approval process at the Food and Drug Administration keeps too many advances, like the one that saved Megan’s life, from reaching those in need. If we slash the restraints, not just at the FDA but across our Government, then we will be blessed with far more miracles like Megan. In fact, our children will grow up in a Nation of miracles. But to achieve this future, we must enrich the mind –- and the souls –- of every American child. Education is the civil rights issue of our time. I am calling upon Members of both parties to pass an education bill that funds school choice for disadvantaged youth, including millions of African-American and Latino children. These families should be free to choose the public, private, charter, magnet, religious or home school that is right for them. Joining us tonight in the gallery is a remarkable woman, Denisha Merriweather.
As a young girl, Denisha struggled in school and failed third grade twice. But then she was able to enroll in a private center for learning, with the help of a tax credit scholarship program. Today, she is the first in her family to graduate, not just from high school, but from college. Later this year she will get her masters degree in social work. We want all children to be able to break the cycle of poverty just like Denisha. But to break the cycle of poverty, we must also break the cycle of violence. The murder rate in 2015 experienced its largest single-year increase in nearly half a century. In Chicago, more than 4,000 people were shot last year alone –- and the murder rate so far this year has been even higher. This is not acceptable in our society. Every American child should be able to grow up in a safe community, to attend a great school, and to have access to a high-paying job. But to create this future, we must work with –- not against -– the men and women of law enforcement. We must build bridges of cooperation and trust –- not drive the wedge of disunity and division. Police and sheriffs are members of our community. They are friends and neighbors, they are mothers and fathers, sons and daughters – and they leave behind loved ones every day who worry whether or not they’ll come home safe and sound. We must support the incredible men and women of law enforcement. And we must support the victims of crime. I have ordered the Department of Homeland Security to create an office to serve American Victims. The office is called VOICE –- Victims Of Immigration Crime Engagement. We are providing a voice to those who have been ignored by our media, and special interests. Joining us in the audience tonight are four very brave Americans whose government failed them. Their names are Jamiel Shaw, Susan Oliver, Jenna Oliver, and Jessica Davis. Jamiel’s 17-year-old son was viciously murdered by an illegal immigrant gang member, who had just been released from prison. Jamiel Shaw Jr. was an incredible young man, with unlimited potential who was getting ready to go to college where he would have excelled as a great quarterback. But he never got the chance. His father, who is in the audience tonight, has become a good friend of mine. Also with us are Susan Oliver and Jessica Davis. Their husbands –- Deputy Sheriff Danny Oliver and Detective Michael Davis –- were slain in the line of duty in California. They were pillars of their community. These brave men were viciously gunned down by an illegal immigrant with a criminal record and two prior deportations. Sitting with Susan is her daughter, Jenna. Jenna: I want you to know that your father was a hero, and that tonight you have the love of an entire country supporting you and praying for you. To Jamiel, Jenna, Susan and Jessica: I want you to know –- we will never stop fighting for justice. Your loved ones will never be forgotten, we will always honor their memory. Finally, to keep America Safe we must provide the men and women of the United States military with the tools they need to prevent war and –- if they must –- to fight and to win. I am sending the Congress a budget that rebuilds the military, eliminates the Defense sequester, anfor one of the largest increases in national defense spending in American history. My budget will also increase funding for our veterans. Our veterans have delivered for this Nation –- and now we must deliver for them. The challenges we face as a Nation are great. But our people are even greater. And none are greater or braver than those who fight for America in uniform. We are blessed to be joined tonight by Carryn Owens, the widow of a U.S. Navy Special Operator, Senior Chief William “Ryan” Owens. Ryan died as he lived: a warrior, and a hero –- battling against terrorism and securing our Nation. I just spoke to General Mattis, who reconfirmed that, and I quote, “Ryan was a part of a highly successful raid that generated large amounts of vital intelligence that will lead to many more victories in the future against our enemies.” Ryan’s legacy is etched into eternity. For as the Bible teaches us, there is no greater act of love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. Ryan laid down his life for his friends, for his country, and for our freedom –- we will never forget him. To those allies who wonder what kind of friend America will be, look no further than the heroes who wear our uniform. Our foreign policy calls for a direct, robust and meaningful engagement with the world. It is American leadership based on vital security interests that we share with our allies across the globe. We strongly support NATO, an alliance forged through the bonds of two World Wars that dethroned fascism, and a Cold War that defeated communism. But our partners must meet their financial obligations. And now, based on our very strong and frank discussions, they are beginning to do just that. We expect our partners, whether in NATO, in the Middle East, or the Pacific –- to take a direct and meaningful role in both strategic and military operations, and pay their fair share of the cost. We will respect historic institutions, but we will also respect the sovereign rights of nations. Free nations are the best vehicle for expressing the will of the people –- and America respects the right of all nations to chart their own path. My job is not to represent the world. My job is to represent the United States of America. But we know that America is better off, when there is less conflict — not more. We must learn from the mistakes of the past –- we have seen the war and destruction that have raged across our world. The only long-term solution for these humanitarian disasters is to create the conditions where displaced persons can safely return home and begin the long process of rebuilding. America is willing to find new friends, and to forge new partnerships, where shared interests align. We want harmony and stability, not war and conflict. We want peace, wherever peace can be found. America is friends today with former enemies. Some of our closest allies, decades ago, fought on the opposite side of these World Wars. This history should give us all faith in the possibilities for a better world. Hopefully, the 250th year for America will see a world that is more peaceful, more just and more free. On our 100th anniversary, in 1876, citizens from across our Nation came to Philadelphia to celebrate America’s centennial. At that celebration, the country’s builders and artists and inventors showed off their creations. Alexander Graham Bell displayed his telephone for the first time. Remington unveiled the first typewriter. An early attempt was made at electric light. Thomas Edison showed an automatic telegraph and an electric pen. Imagine the wonders our country could know in America’s 250th year. Think of the marvels we can achieve if we simply set free the dreams of our people. Cures to illnesses that have always plagued us are not too much to hope. American footprints on distant worlds are not too big a dream. Millions lifted from welfare to work is not too much to expect. And streets where mothers are safe from fear — schools where children learn in peace — and jobs where Americans prosper and grow — are not too much to ask. When we have all of this, we will have made America greater than ever before. For all Americans. This is our vision. This is our mission. But we can only get there together. We are one people, with one destiny. We all bleed the same blood. We all salute the same flag. And we are all made by the same God. And when we fulfill this vision; when we celebrate our 250 years of glorious freedom, we will look back on tonight as when this new chapter of American Greatness began. The time for small thinking is over. The time for trivial fights is behind us. We just need the courage to share the dreams that fill our hearts. The bravery to express the hopes that stir our souls. And the confidence to turn those hopes and dreams to action. From now on, America will be empowered by our aspirations, not burdened by our fears –- inspired by the future, not bound by the failures of the past –- and guided by our vision, not blinded by our doubts. I am asking all citizens to embrace this Renewal of the American Spirit. I am asking all members of Congress to join me in dreaming big, and bold and daring things for our country. And I am asking everyone watching tonight to seize this moment and — Believe in yourselves. Believe in your future. And believe, once more, in America. Thank you, God bless you, and God Bless these United States.


Wednesday, September 07, 2016

PechaKucha fame!!

I did this really fun (and slightly nerve-wracking) presentation in Beacon a coupla months ago. Now, I talk about my art a bunch, to lost tourists and groups of students and even bunches of adults who have willingly turned out to hear me do so, but I've never done it with a stopwatch ticking!! 

PechaKucha is a super cool thing, started by some architect pals in Tokyo, who wanted to keep up on what they were all doing but not slit their wrists with boredom from listening to their long-winded brethren hold forth:

The simple idea is that the presenter sends in 20 slides and on show night, they are projected for 20 seconds each. No going back. No pausing. No mistakes. No falling behind. 20 seconds each while the presenter explains the slides or expounds on a bigger point. I explained the slides. Wrote a script, timed it, read it. Did ok. But you be the judge of that. Just step away from sharp objects first.

So, without further ado, here's a link to my PehcaKucha turn:

Monday, June 01, 2015

For Bob, from Molly.

Well, a few years after the first one of these I did, I got a commission to do another. The first one was for my friend Jill, as a gift to her girlfriend Kim; and this one is for my friend Molly as a gift to her husband Bob. Lemme tell you something: these things are loads of fun to do and I'm really happy with how they turn out. The truth is, I love to write and I love to paint and combining these two creative passions to create a "portrait" of someone is really quite agreeable. And besides, seriously: have you ever seen a portrait like this before?

Click on it to see it bigger. The print size is 30 x 20".

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Ants. Confetti. Carnivale. Ages ago.

Years ago, we took the family to India. It was quite a trip. On the way there, we spent a few days in London at Bruce and Lorna's. Took the kids to the Tate Modern and saw a piece of video art by Brazilian artist Cao Guimaraes. It's a piece of art that has never left me and I wish I could watch it over and over again.

Enjoy this preview of his piece entitled "Quarta-Feira de Cinzas" ("Ash Wednesday")

Below: a still from the video.

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

Silly lighthouse

In 1992/93, I spent a year in Normandy with my girlfriend. She wrote a novel, I made a bunch of paintings and showed them in Paris and Normandy. She worked in one end of the house, I worked in the other. (It was a 17th century woodcutter's cottage. It was awesome.) There was no phone and no tv, the internet had not yet been invented (though across France, they had a thing called Minitel, which was like the internet, kinda.) Anyway, we didn't have one of those either, just a little radio and the only English language broadcast on that little radio was to be found on BBC Radio 4, home to Desert Island Discs and plenty of other fun and informative programming, including, of course, world news.

Several times a day, however, Radio 4 broadcast the shipping forecast, to let ships in the English channel know what the conditions were. There was something both exotic and comforting about this particular broadcast, two qualities that are rarely found together. Well, naturally, I thought about the shipping forecast yesterday when someone used the word 'silly'. You see, the forecast noted conditions at a variety of locations, calling each one by name, and one of the locations was the Silly Lighthouse. I swear it was so. Silly Lighthouse. Maybe later it was Silly Lighthouse Automatic. But it was there and it was magic. Listen for yourself: (skip to 2:40)

If you want to read a swell short history of the lighthouse (picture below), click here. Oh yeah, turns out it's spelled Scilly. But it still sounds like 'silly' and that's beacon enough for goofballs everywhere. Including me.

Monday, November 04, 2013

In related news . . .

I just finished the 3rd draft of my "Decorating nature" book. Diane Ackerman wrote me back (very exciting) and said she couldn't write the introduction 'cause she has her own book to write. (not as exciting.)  Anyway, the book can be read here: 

One of the new pieces in it is this one below and below the image is the text that accompanies it.

I read a story years ago. Some kinda Zen parable about an art student of some sort
who had been given an assignment to arrange pebbles on a table top. 
Each time she thought she had nailed it, the master told her:

“No. Try again.”

All morning long and through lunch she worked and presented her work to the master.
Each time she thought she had arranged the stones perfectly, the master’s reply was the same.
Finally, about to try again, she snapped. Deciding that she would never be able to get them perfect,
she threw the stones down on the table and walked away. As she reached the door, she heard
the master’s voice. He stood regarding the latest arrangement and had said just one word:


I work hard to get my arrangements “just so”. Not too studied, not too haphazard,
not too this, not too that. Just right. This arrangement just happened. I had to stop myself
from mucking it up with my taste and my ego and my self-consiousness. And just let it be.


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And here's the latest amazing thought that's come into my lately damaged life: the Japanese art form of kintsugi celebrates the cracks and imperfections of the valuable object in our lives (and by extension ourselves) by making repairs in precious metal that both celebrates and repairs the damage. For more on this gorgeous art form, click on the links below.

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Somehow these two things seem related. But maybe I'm just a little too imperfect to exactly know how.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Talk talk

This cute little story has been making the rounds on the interwebs for a while now:

How to Handle a Rumor: The Test of Three

Keep this philosophy in mind the next time you either hear or are about to repeat a rumor.
In ancient Greece (469 - 399 BC), Socrates was widely lauded for his wisdom. One day the great philosopher came upon an acquaintance who ran up to him excitedly and said, "Socrates, do you know what I just heard about one of your students?"
Socrates"Wait a moment," Socrates replied. "Before you tell me, I'd like you to pass a little test. It's called the Test of Three."


"That's right, Socrates continued. "Before you talk to me about my student let's take a moment to test what you're going to say. 

The first test is Truth. Have you made absolutely sure that what you are about to tell me is true?"
No," the man said, "actually I just heard about it."
"All right," said Socrates. "So you don't really know if it's True or not."

"Now let's try the second test, the test of Goodness. Is what you are about to tell me about my student something good?"
"No, on the contrary..."
"So," Socrates continued, "you want to tell me something bad about him even though you're not certain it's true?"
The man shrugged, a little embarrassed.

Socrates continued. "You may still pass though, because there is a third test - the filter of Usefulness. Is what you want to tell me about my student going to be Useful to me?"
"No, not really..."
"Well," concluded Socrates, "if what you want to tell me is neither True nor Good nor even Useful, why tell it to me at all?"

The man was defeated and ashamed. This was the reason Socrates was a great philosopher and held in such high esteem.

Of course, it also may explain why Socrates never found out that Plato was fucking his wife.)

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 

I was reminding of this story as I was mulling over this new phrase I'd just learned thanks to my ex-brother in law: lashon hara. It's Hebrew and here's what Wikipedia has to say about it: 

The Hebrew term lashon hara (or loshon hora) (Hebrew לשון הרע; "evil tongue") is the halakhic term for derogatory speech about another person.[1] Lashon hara differs from defamation in that its focus is on the use of true speech for a wrongful purpose . . ." (more here)

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 

True speech for a wrongful purpose, and, it goes on, true speech that has unplanned negative consequences. Hmmm.

This thought resonated deeply with me last week as I found myself trying to do what's best for me and for those I love but hurting people anyway. Sometimes, it seems, even while walking the path of righteousness, we inadvertently end up doing the wrong thing. Certainly there's a Greek myth about that.

Sunday, June 02, 2013

Générique de début

Summer's here and thoughts this morning turned toward one of my favorite films of all time, a quiet slice of beauty called "Mr. Hulot's holiday." Unless you're in France, where it has the name seen on this screen grab from the opening credits, below. Click this link to watch the 85 second opening.

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Generic pop tarts

I don't really like Quentin Tarantino. I don't really believe he's all that talented. I didn't really like "Django" (though I did like the characters in it) but I did really love Pulp Fiction. And continue to love it. Recently, I spent a sweet evening home watching it with Daisy, my 16 year old. She loved it too.

This morning, when I woke up thinking about the choice of off-brand "toaster pastries" for the scene, I decided to re-visit it and Youtube decided to cooperate.

Holy canoli, what a great scene. And what a great scene for sound effects. I just love the way it all goes down, one thing leading to another, sound-wise and story-wise. Watch here:


Saturday, April 13, 2013

Thought fragment and a related painting.

I've had a thought in my head for a week or so and it's this: ". . . not waste any time not appreciating how beautiful things are." Now, this is the thought. As is. I assume that by "things" I mean the world around me and it puts me in mind of a description from a precious little book I read 25 years ago: "the Tao of Pooh." In this book, sort of an introduction to Taoism through the story of Winnie the Pooh, the author tells of a painting called "The vinegar tasters." In this painting, three men are standing around a vat of vinegar. Each has dipped his finger into it and tasted and each of them has a different look on his face: as memory serves (it still sometimes does) the man representing Confucius has a sour look on his face, displeased with the bitter taste, the man representing Buddha has no look on his face at all, representing his liberation from the trappings of the physical life and the man representing Lao-tse, the founder of Taoism, has a big smile on his face, representing his joy in all the experiences to be had in the wonderful world around him. You can see why I connected this thought fragment with this painting I'd read about so long ago. Here's an image of it I found online:

And here's a little blurb about the painting from Wikipedia. Reading through it just now, it appears my memory served me up a mixture of the correct and the incorrect. Delightful.

Sunday, April 07, 2013

I'm on TV!

What fun. Just found this on Youtube. I missed it when it originally aired and apart from looking funny for sitting cross legged like that (I didn't know they were shooting from the side) I'm pretty happy with how it turned out!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

A hundred!

Well, I've finished 100 pieces in my "decorating nature" series! You can see them all by clicking here or you can read the book I wrote on that body of work by clicking here.

And to celebrate, here's a link to the video that Chronogram Magazine put together when one of the "Decorating nature" pieces was on their cover: (I wish I didn't look so scruffy and tired!)


I love that word. Turns out it comes from a fellow's name: and though it's widely used to mean "to hold the attention of someone to the exclusion of all else", Mesmer himself was a little bit more mystical than Webster's. He believed that there was a "a natural energetic transference that occurred between all animated and inanimate objects . . .  called magnétisme animal (animal magnetism) and other spiritual forces often grouped together as mesmerism."  

Well, I don't know about you, but I've smelled smells and heard songs and tasted tastes and seen sights that are positively transcendent: that take me away, out of the daily grind and concentrate my attention on them and them alone. These things I've always called "mesmerizing" and the image directly below is the most recent example of something that has mesmerized me.

Found it online somewhere, I think on Facebook. (ha.) I simply find it mesmerizing; I could look at it over and over and not get bored. It also reminded me of this painting by Magritte, Les Jours Gigantesque (

And this album cover of a record I bought when it came out in 1977:

And last but not least, here's my favorite song ("Mesmerizing") off of a really incredible album: Exile in Guyville, by Liz Phair. Enjoy: