Friday Fives – that was weird, wasn’t it?

Kermit's art 2015What moment made you think “fuck, I am weird!”?

Gosh, I don’t know. I am left handed, so that was a big part of it for two reasons. One is, my mind is wired differently. So, I have a pretty unique perspective on things. Second, everything is fucked up. You don’t fit in school desks, you can’t write in a binder, scissors don’t work. The world is a cruel place for a left handed kid. I was literally born to be anti-establishment.

 The next big piece of my education of weirdness was art, through Kermit. Kermit was a close childhood buddy who was into all the cool shit. In high school, he turned me on to: Beatles White Album, Hunter s Thompson, Henry Miller, MC Escher, and Salvador Dali.  He even turned me on to the graphic novelGregory‘. He was the skeleton key to my awakening away from the square world. He was also, not surprisingly, an amazing artist. See that painting up there? He did that. Sorry it’s not a better quality replication. I just used my cell phone. Think that one is nice? Mikey D has one that blows this out of the water!

If there was a king of all the weirdos, who might it be?

I gotta go with Salvador Dali.  He was weird, sure.  Many folks are.  However, he made it a living.  It wasn’t just who he was, but the who he was to all outside appearances.  I can’t think of anyone who was so successful and tickled about their weirdness than Dali.  Well, maybe Andy Warhol… but he didn’t make anything lasting.  He was more John Waters weird (as a marketing angle) than fruit loops.  Dali was fruit loops, baby.

I mean… just look at this photo.  This is a real photo.  There are no tricks, illusions, or photo manipulation.  They this photo took dozens of hours to get the right shot.

The difference between Dali and a madman is that Dali is not mad – S Dali.

What’s the smallest thing that seems to piss you off that no else gets bothered by?

Well, I have talked about the turn signal thing. No sense rehashing that one. Another thing that drives me super nuts is watching people vote actively against their own interests. I would argue no state (well, besides Louisiana) has been more impacted by climate change than Kansas. We used to get our hay from Kansas. It has been SO dry there that now all the hay comes all the way from Canada. Yet… Kansas votes super Republican at all times… even though the GOP denies climate change. Plus, the senators from Kansas and Oklahoma are both working extremely hard to eliminate FEMA. Yet, those two states draw more from FEMA than all other states (almost combined).

It’s the tornadoes. So, this state really really really needs FEMA. Because of climate change, Kansas (and OK) have record tornado years… ever year.  Each year it only gets worse, and climatologists say this will continue.  Yet… these folks vote GOP literally at their own peril. It is so sociologically impossible to understand that it has spawned a movement. It’s called ‘what’s the matter with Kansas’. It is a study (and then a book, and then a movie) as to why Kansas folk aggressively shoot themselves in the foot by voting GOP. Short answer, (and I am dead serious)… it is because of the gays. That is why they all vote Republican. They are afraid of gays. Seriously, watch the documentary.

The state, as we all know, depends on agriculture for everything. They are losing the corn. They can’t make enough hay anymore. That isn’t liberal propaganda. Our hay guy is as right wing as you would guess a hay guy is. It KILLS him to drive all the to Canada for hay to sell in Colorado. It won’t get better, either.

Colorado briefly suffered with this. In the Northern Plains is a town called Greeley. The area around this is VERY heavily dependent on water for agriculture. They had a Congresslady named Marilyn Musgrave. Her one and only concern was stopping the gays. From what? We don’t know, but she was going to stop them.

She let her district languish over and over again. She could have been getting water protection passed, bail out money, protections from farmers against bad crop loans. She did not of that. NOTHING. It took a few election cycles, but the good folks of Greeley finally realized keeping jobs and houses was more important that whether or not there was gays next door. Musgrave never did figure that out, and got bounced. She spent every ounce of political capital and resources to fight gay issues.

       So, that drives me crazy.

What is a common phrase that you absolutely hate hearing?

 “It is what it is.” I get it, and I have had to say it. Sadly, it just means ‘fuck it. Why bother? Why even try?

What’s the dumbest product that made a fortune?

I think we can all look back and agree it was the pet rock. Wait… and bottled water. You know that bottled water is just tap water, right? Plus, you are destroying the oceans with those empty bottles.

Hunter Thompson and Salvador Dali – prisoners of their own creations

I love Hunter Thompson, and Salvador Dali.  I LOT.  Like, I moved my life around for those two.  HST is a big part of why I moved to Colorado.  As for Dali, we honeymooned in Spain, partially so we could travel to Figueres to the Dali museum.  Both were worth it.  They are both huge influences and heroes to me.  Never, until recently, did I think of them together.  On a flight over the Pacific, I watched this cool documentary on Dali.  I would hyperlink it here, but I don’t remember the name of it, or the production company, or anything. To clarify, this doc had nothing to do with Hunter at all. In watching the doc, though, I had an epiphany.

On so many levels, Hunter S Thompson and Salvador Dali were the same person.

Boy, I better deliver on that one.  See, they were both creative geniuses.  They were both  HUGELY celebrated artists.  They were both starfuckers.  They were both trapped by their best creations… themselves.  They both peaked early, and spent the rest of their lives being haunted and pigeonholed by those creations.  Hunter talks about it openly below (jump ahead to the 11 minute mark, but watch the whole piece if you can.  It’s pretty good).

Basically, they had both peaked by 30.  They both did little, effectively, after that.  Hunter, for example, probably has 20 books to his name.  About 3*** were original creative works of any kind of consequence. The rest, and there are MANY, are collections of letters or short stories. (*** see below for aside on this)

Though I love just about all of Dali’s art, and most of Hunter’s full length books (remember, there are basically 3)… their best creations was themselves.  These two LOVED a spectacle.  They invented spectacle.  This was fun and awesome, likely, when they were young.  It became a prison of sorts as they aged.  You realize quickly, as Jimi Hendrix did, that people just want to see that character.  In the early days, Jimi did wild stuff to his equipment, just out of fun and passion.  Pete Townshend, too.  In time, though, people didn’t come to here Jimi play the blues.  They wanted stunts.  For Pete, they wanted to see a Strat smashed of they would have felt they never saw a full Who show.

Luckily, for all mentioned above (except Hendrix), they got to live long enough to see the futility of their creations come to haunt them.  I say ‘luckily’ not because I want them to suffer… but luckily that they had long enough lives to see the silliness of being such a one dimensional characters.

For both Dali, and Thompson… being themselves was their full time jobs.  Remember, Hunter lived to 2005, but hadn’t written anything at length of consequence since 1972.  Now, is that to say Hunter did dick all for 35 years but ride his own coattails?  Yeah, pretty much.

With Dali, we are lucky that we have a great body of work.  However, the documentary I watched strongly implied that he also didn’t do dick all after about 30.  Oh sure, you get the lobster telephone.  However, it isn’t exactly on par with the masterpiece ‘Persistence of Memory‘.  In fact, look at the irony; there is an expression used when people put in bare minimum effort and still get credit.  It’s called ‘phoning it in’.  Is there a better example in all of history than this?

While it isn’t my personal favorite piece, it is certainly Dali’s best known.  ‘Persistence of Memory‘ is most known for it’s iconic ‘soft watches’, though I always called them melting clocks.  Even the Simpson‘s have paid homage.  Aw heck, it looks like everyone has.

This isn’t meant to be critical in an anti-artistic sorta way.  It is more meant to be critical in a ‘huh, I never thought of it that way.  Maybe you got something there’.   Really, mostly I am just jealous.  These guys are SO impactful to my life.  I think I write this to help me better understand why. Proof of their impact on me?  My first tattoo will be a Ralph Steadman drawing of the great white rabbit from the Alice books.  I have been trimming my beard for years, but never ONCE the edges of my mustache, in hopes I can do this one day.

 

*** 3 books of HST.   There is Hells’ Angels, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, and Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail 1972.  That is it.  That is all you need to know about Hunter from start to finish.  Now, he has 4 books of compiled letters (I am also including ‘Better than Sex’ here) and about 10 of short story compilations.  In retrospect, that is kind of a week body of work.  However, those few books were SO good and SO influential.  Look at Lewis Carrol.  What else did he write besides Alice in Wonderland?  Nothing, really.  He was a preacher and a mathematician.  He wrote books on math.  His name isn’t even ‘Lewis Carroll’.  Carroll is a pseudonym he used for the Alice books because he was so embarrassed and mortified of what his religious math buddies would think of his silly childhood fantasy tales.

Friday Fives – museum edition

What is the best painting you’ve ever seen in a museum or art gallery?

Seeing this painting in person at the Dali museum in Spain.  It is designed to be seen close, and very far.  From far, you will see a perfect Abe Lincoln.  Near.   Far.  If you have glasses, the best way to see the illusion is to take them off… or stand back 20 feet.

What was the most interesting display you’ve seen in a museum setting?

The car sculpture thing that was in the Dali museum’s courtyard.  Too weird to explain.

Have you ever been to a Children’s museum? If so have you been as a child and/or as an adult? If so did you find it more interesting as you were older?

I probably did when I was a kid.  What is cool about kid’s museums is they let you touch stuff.  In fact, they encourage it.  Not so much in the grown up museums.  Yes, I have been yelled at a few times.  One thing I often do is strand really close.  I want to see the actual marks left from the brush strokes. So, to really dig it, you need to be inches away.  Now, I don’t so this if there are a ton of people behind me.  Also, when I do this, I always hold my hands behind my back.  I want it understood I am not going to poke or touch or adjust anything.  I just wanna SEE.  Plus, I have really terrible eyesight.   So getting super duper close might just practical.  I should also note the brush strokes thing only works on oil paintings.  I learned about brush strokes and techniques in art class, and it is fascinating.

That is one of the big way they find forgeries.  An expert might be “yes, it looks exactly like an original in every sense.  However, look super closely and see the brush strokes.  They go side to side.  However, Lono ONLY painted using up and down strokes.  It’s an almost percussive way of painting, to force the oils into the canvas.  This was common practice in the late 1700’s because that Winter was a cold snap.  So, they created a technique to keep the oils from freezing on the canvas.  It is also how we can know this painting was not done in Dec of 1783 as suspected.  That was an unusually humid winter, which created – bla bla bla.   To me, anyway, that stuff is super interesting.  it is a forensic look into technique, which also teaches us about environment, weather, resourcefulness and technique

What is the most important thing you learned in a museum

Sir, please put that down… and put your pants back on.  Actually, that super stringy piece up these explains it pretty well.  I like to learn about the technique used.  To me , it is the humanity of this person and their life experience.  Here is another example, did you know Monet had bad cataracts?  Towards the end of his life, his eyes were shit.  So, when you look at the Giverny stuff, that is likely what he was actually seeing.

AND… the most important thing I learned is that England took everything.  There is a saying that the ‘Sun never sets on the Union Jack’.  That is a one sentence history of manklind.  England used to run so much of the earth that no matter where the sun was shining, somewhere in there was a provice of England.  Anyhow, because of this, England’s museums are AMAZING.  Over time, England gave all the counties back, but they kept their shit.  To go to some of the history museums in London is to travel the world in one afternoon.  Africa, India, North America, Ireland, Australia ALL those countries were owned by England.  Now, in quite a turn of fortune… they have about as much land mass as Rhode Island.

What is your most memorable trip to a museum?

Again, the Dali museum in Spain.  Dali is absolutely my favorite artist.  I believe he is the greatest painter ever.  EVER.  Perhaps I should back up.  If you are not familiar with the name, you likely know the art.  He is most famous for this painting.

I think Dali is better than Monet, Picasso, even Kincaid!  Ok, that last part was a joke.  Am I wrong, probably.  Turn me on to other artists, I would love to learn more.

Friday Fives

1 What activity can you not believe you survived in your childhood?

My teenage years. Every day was an exercise in self destruction, emotionally and physically. Not consciously, mind you.  I was, as my therapist said, brain dead and bulletproof.  I was retarded, you were too.  I had self esteem, but no self confidence.  Does that make sense?

2 What activity can you not believe kids get away with today?

Spending their lives on the couch playing video games. Uncle Eddie knew it best. When we were back to Buffalo to visit, his rule was all kids had to be out of the house during the day on weekends.

3 If you could be anyone else in the world live or dead, who would you choose to be?

Salvador Dali. To be the greatest painter ever, and to be that incredibly talented, and to be so amazing weird… what would be awesome. Plus, he lived in Spain on the coast. Like what Hunter Thompson did, not just master a genre (Gonzo for HST, Surrealism for Dali)… he literally invented it. Both live large in my iconography of heroes.

4. A lot of people think they’ve been in love at 15 or 16 years old, do you think you now look back and think you were a stupid kid or do you believe that you were old enough to know what love is?

Tough to say, I didn’t have a love at that age. So, I will dismiss that question with a self defensive quip. What are you, hitting me? (how did I do? Good cover?) Ok, I will give it my best. I absolutely believe you think you know love and could understand it. However, I think we all know that is more hormone driven than deep appreciation of a human spirit. I didn’t get married until I was about 30, and I think it would have been foolish to do so any earlier.

5. Do you think it is possible to remain in love with someone you once loved, but haven’t seen in a year?

Yeah, easily. Living a few states away, I often only see m family once a year. The rest of my family, back in Buffalo, I only see every five or so years. That doesn’t make me love them any less. Just recently, I was able to reconnect with a whole bunch of very close high school friends who I haven’t seen in 15 years through Facebook. I love them as much as I did when we were crazy kids.