Wednesday, June 22

A True Artist



Excerpt from Associated Press:

"LONDON Jun 20, 2005 — .....Paintings by Congo the chimpanzee sold at auction for more than $25,000. The three abstract, tempera paintings were auctioned at Bonhams in London alongside works by impressionist master Renoir and pop art provocateur Andy Warhol. But while Warhol's and Renoir's work didn't sell, bidders lavished attention on Congo's paintings. An American bidder.....purchased the lot of paintings for $26,352..... The sale price surpassed predictions that priced the paintings between $1,000-$1,500.

"We had no idea what these things were worth," said Howard Rutkowski, director of modern and contemporary art at Bonhams. "We just put them in for our own amusement." (Administrator: italics are mine)
Congo, born in 1954, produced about 400 drawings and paintings between ages 2 and 4. He died in 1964 of tuberculosis. His artwork provoked reactions ranging from scorn to skepticism among critics of the time, but Pablo Picasso is reported to have hung a Congo painting on his studio wall after receiving it as a gift."

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


Ignoring the obvious joke that this piece is better than most by Picasso and anything by Warhol, I find it extremely intriguing. Look at the balance and structure of the painting. It is almost symmetrical side to side, and the perspective is what one might expect when looking at a landscape. The point of view is somewhat above ground, the figure(s) receding to the distance, the foreground reminiscent of shadows, the "sky" reaching down to meet the horizon. All what you might expect from a bipedal creature. The painting could represent many things; a vase of flowers, a pond, a garden, a flock of birds, an emotion. While blue predominates, it is subdued by the bold strokes of black, and enlivened with splashes of white. What is most dramatic, however, is the strategic use of reddish "punctuation marks" to disrupt what is otherwise fairly organized and serene.

And it was painted by a chimpanzee.

Was he just playing? Or was he attempting to convey something? I strongly believe the latter. If so, what? What was he thinking? What was he feeling? Did he grasp the abstract? Was there a creative process, or did his mind work unlike ours, immediately interpreting his environment through his fingers? Or is this an internal representation of himself?

Like all great art, this opens up a world unknown to anyone but the artist and begs many, many questions.

Saturday, June 18

The Small Deaths That Kill Us

I don’t like talking about this. Very few know about it, and fewer still understand it. I suffer from depression. And I mean really suffer. But not as much as my wife. I can be the prick of the universe without medication. With it, my chemical instability is under control, my life is normal, and I’m actually a pretty nice guy.

Recently, due to a pissing contest between my doctor and the insurance company, I was rationing my meds. I started by taking them every other day, then every third day, then went without for about a week. In the bewildering grey funk that inevitably follows, I thought about when I first saw the beginnings of my disease. I think I’ve found the exact instant.

My parents introduced me to reading, the best gift I ever got, and supported my voracious appetite for books. I read Peter Pan, The Runaway Robot, Charlotte’s Web. My basically sweet nature made me susceptible to anything adventurous, mysterious, and exciting. I was a na├»ve and hopeless romantic. (Not in the love sense, but in the swashbuckling, heroic, neato environment way. I still am.)

In the fifth grade, my teacher introduced us to Shakespeare. It was love at first read. We put on plays for the school and our parents, and I found I had an aptitude for the dramatic. I always got the lead, I trend that continued until I gave up the boards in my later youth.

My leading lady was S. She was a year older, just blossoming into womanhood. She was tall. She was gawky. She was smart. She played the piano. My eleven year-old heart was smitten. She played Kate to my Petruchio in our elementary presentation of “The Taming of the Shrew.”

At the end of the year, as young boys are wont, I had to tell her of my feelings. I wrote a note, with painstaking attention to words. It went something like: “Dear S, I really like you. I had fun acting with you. I wish we could be boyfriend and girlfriend. Do you feel the same way? Love, Petruchio”

About thirty minutes before the bell on the last day of school, I met her on the playground. I sheepishly handed her the note, saying “This is for you,” and ran away. Recess was over, and I went back to my 5th grade room with my classmates, most of whom I had known almost all my life.

Ten minutes before the final bell, a 6th grader came in and said “Mrs. Chambers wants to talk to you. (In this instance, I use Mrs. Chambers real name, because if you meet her in Hell, I hope you’ll give her an extra eye gouge.) My teacher dismissed me, and I walked over to the scary hallowed Room of the Sixth Graders.

I immediately went numb. The kids were all looking at me and snickering. Standing like the left hand of righteousness was Mrs. Chambers, MY NOTE IN HER HAND. She looked at me with…what? Disdain? Glee? Arrogance? With three words, she forever shattered my world:

“She says no.” The class erupted in vicious laughter.

I learned years later that S, the object of my affection, carried that moment with her as well. Someone had grabbed the note as she was reading it, and gave it to the teacher. She was mortified.

I can’t begin to explain how I felt as my face burned, trying to hold back the tears, as I ran back to my classroom, the kids asking what happened, the teacher asking if I was okay. Humiliation doesn’t come close. Nor does terror. All I know is that, like Darth Vader, I had started my first step to hating the world, distrusting everything and everyone. I lit the first coal that burns against the world, with the intensity of a thousand suns, that I still carry deep in my breast. I learned and important lesson that day: There is nothing the world loves more than the sweet taste of a romantic’s dreams.

I sit here alone in a bar now while I write this. As I regain my sanity, thanks to my doctor, I think I understand myself a little better.

But some scars never heal.

Monday, June 13

Bring Me the Head of Paris Hilton

There is a secret society out there somewhere, namely the perpetuators of celebrity. I don't know who they are, never met one, but they are responsible for the Holy Order for the Adulation of Nimrods. I call upon all persons with more than two working brain synapses to root them out, torture them, and stop the the cult worship of the vacuous dandelion fluff mentioned above, and the following organisms I want out of my species' gene pool.

Britney (Brytanny? Briteknee?) Spears & Kevin Futterbutz: Give each of these two a rock, and I think they'd be too stupid to figure out how to bang them together.

Bill O'Reilly: The No Spin Zone? O'Really! Walter Cronkite is spinning in his grave. And he's not even dead yet.

Al Sharpton: Who does this kitty litter-stuffed glazed ham represent? I'm guessing one or all of the Four Horsemen.

J-Lo: aka Slutty McSlutslut. Only without the talent.

Ashton Kutcher: How dumb does a creature have to be before it forgets how to live? How annoying can the worst intestinal parasite be? Stay tuned!

Jerry Falwell: Jesus hates you. Really, he told me personally at the neighborhood topless bar. By the way, Jesus really digs dirty Asian chicks.

The Hottie Du Jour With Three Names (e.g. Jennifer Love Hewitt, Sarah Michelle Gellar, et al): I'm convinced there's a breeding farm for these Stepford Starlets somewhere in the San Fernando valley.

Snoop Doggy Drops: I'd rather my daughter was a crack whore addicted to porcupine porn before she got within 3,400 light years of your disgusting self-serving (c)rap.

Hillary Clinton: "Who are you? Who? Who? Who? Who? I really wanna know... Aw, who the fuck are you? You? You? Yeah you?"

Bono: Who voted him savior? Not me. Pope John Paul II will accept you into heaven, but not before he head-butts you with pope hat of humility.

The Sarcastic Blogger: Get over your jealousy already. Anger management classes figure prominently in your Tarot spread.

Saturday, June 11

Lynyrd Skynyrd Is A Bunch Of Assholes

"Red, White, and Blue," by Lynyrd Skynyrd, has been popular for a while now. Rarely has a song pissed me off so much. I'm about as patriotic as they come, and I don't really care about the group either way, but for some reason this damn song rubs me wrong in so many ways. Read along and see if you don't agree.

We don't have no plastic L.A. friends
--(Well, I don't have no self-important closed-minded illiterate shithead redneck friends. What's your point?)
Ain't on the edge of no popular trends

--(Other than jumping all over the hyper-patriotic fuck-you "America can do whatever it wants" trend that is cornholing society?)
Ain't never seen the inside of that magazine GQ

--(Lemme guess, Guns and Ammo is more your speed.)
We don't care if you 're a lawyer, or a texas oil man

Or some waitress busting ass in some liquor stand
If you got soul we hang out with people just like you

--(Oh, Thank you! Thank you! Did you hear that, Mabel? Lynyrd Skynyrd has decided to come down from Mount Sinai and deigned to spend time with me! I can die happy now that someone so great thinks I'm OK! I'm not worthy! Are you gonna give me some Commandments now? You betcha - read on...)

My hair's turning white
--(So is mine. So what? Sing at the next AARP convention.)
My neck's always been red
--(Do I really need to comment here? Visions of NASCAR and drunken bass fishing abound.)
My collar's still blue
--(Yeah, and the white collar guy is making sure your paycheck is correct and on time, including the three wage garnishments and unpaid child support. And compliance with OSHA, ADA, EEO, FMLA, and all the other things that you sneer at, while working extra extra hours on salary. So lean against your backhoe and get paid 4 hours of overtime every day while 2 hours on the job are actually productive. God Bless The Mafia! Oops, I mean The Unions!
We've always been here just trying to sing the truth to you

--(Thank you again! I'm too stoopid to think clearly without the benefit of yor wizdumb.)
Yes you could say we've always been

Red, White, and Blue
--(And the rest of us haven't?)

Ride our own bikes to Sturgis, we pay our own dues
--(Do other people usually steal a bike to go to Sturgis? Dues for what? This phrase is usually used by folks without any real intelligence or prospects other than luck. Link "Paid my dues" with "School of Hard Knocks," and I'll show you an example of a worthless human bottom feeder.)
Smoking camels and drinking domestic brews

--(Reverse snobism.)
You want to know where I have been just look at my hands

--(Probably have a tatoo of a burning skull and teeth marks from roadhouse fights.)
Yeah, I've driven by the White House, spent some time in jail

--(Well, there's something to be proud of. Did you do something dumb at the White House? Like crush a Budweiser can on your forehead while waving your deer rifle? It's your God given right, y'know.)
Momma cried but she still paid my bail
I ain't been no angel, but even God he understands

--(Even God? Even? If anybody understood everything, I would think He would. You misused the phrase. This is correct: Even Lynyrd Skynyrd should know this song is pandering to the lowest common denomiator. Unless, and I think this is the inspiration for writing this piece of crap, you are more important than God.)

My hair's turning white
My neck's always been red
My collar's still blue
We've always been here just trying to sing the truth to you
Yes you could say we've always been

Red, White, and Blue
--(Heard it. Didn't like it the first time.)
Yeah that's right!

--(No, it's not.)

My Daddy worked hard, and so have I
--(No, you didn't. You got drunk, did drugs, wrote some macho asshole songs, and got lucky with a recording contract. And your precious God saw fit to kill some of you in a plane crash. Ah, sweet irony. Kiss my ass.)
Paid our taxes and gave our lives to serve this great country

--(OK, here's the part that really burns me. In all seriousness, there is no greater respect we can give than to thank and acknowledge our fighting men and women. If anyone deserved our collective gratitude, it is our service men and women, whether or not you supported the particular action in which they were involved. Some of the best and the brightest of our sons and daughters have shed their blood on foreign soil for the things we hold dear. I don't want to be a punk-ass. BUT. One of the things we hold dear is the right to speak out, to question, to disagree, to be free in our thought and philosophical exchanges. Implicit in this statement by the group, however, is that their opinion is somehow better than anyone else's. More than that, it is the only correct point of view. It bugs me that some military families and veterans have a Holier Than Thou attitude about their service. My grandfather, rest his soul, also served his country. He built warships in the shipyards. He built banks and houses after the war. He built dams and any number of other structures. He died a ripe old age. He paid his taxes. Is he somehow less relevant because he didn't get killed by an enemy bullet? The whole premise here is flawed and offensive.)
So what are they complaining about?
--(We're complaining because it is the foundation of this great country you are railing for. Namely, the Right to free speech, free thought, free opinion. Freedom. Isn't that what you are saying you gave your lives for? The hypocrisy is overwhelming.)
Yeah we love our families, we love our kids

--(You're right. None of the rest of us do. We're all troglodytes. Sorry to share your bright and shiny world.)
You know it is love that makes us all so rich
--(Rhymes with "kids...??")
That's where were at, if they don't like it

They can just get the hell out!
--(Oh, boy. I'm a pacifist, but now I just want to kick your teeth in. This is the rallying cry for all uber-flag-wavers. "La-la-la, I've got my fingers in my ears! If I can't hear you disagree, then I must be right!" There's patriotism, and there's wrapping yourself in the flag because you really don't have any substance to your argument. It is beneath you, and insulting to the rest of us.)

My hair's turning white
My neck's always been red
My collar's still blue
We've always been here just trying to sing the truth to you
Yes you could say we've always been

Red, White, and Blue oh...oh...
Red, White, and Blue
Red, White, and Blue oh...oh...
Red, White, and Blue

--(Only one last comment: Fuck You, Lynyrd Skynyrd. Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition.)