Saturday, August 30, 2008

Gustav (edited)

I've had to edit this entry because the images I'd originally linked are being updated by the source at Weather Underground. The course plot and the satellite composite image will change as the storm evolves. I'll leave the linked images up for the time being.

Their prediction is that Gustav will hit Louisiana Monday, but mercifully will have lost some of his power by that time. Weather Underground currently shows Gustav to be a category four storm with winds above 131 MPH. They show him growing to a category five tomorrow -- a monster with sustained winds above 156 MPH. But the expectation is that the storm will not be that strong when it hits the coast Monday.

NOAA offers this chart:

Pray for my home state.


Before pretty Sarah there was Michael.

Friday, August 29, 2008

At last! Magnet paintings!

The car art/art car magnet paintings are in.

So far participants include: Ted, Josie, Susan, Donna, Kevin and Ann, Shannon, Treacia, Christy, Carolyn, Vaughn, Claire, Richard, Holly, Bev, Howard, Barbara, Thom, Jill and Stan, Chris, Sherelyn, Kevin and Laura, Paula, Joe, Sal, and Pati.

Some participants live in New York. Some live in California. Others are in Indiana, Kansas, New Jersey, and various places around Texas. Texans participating live in Marfa, Dallas, San Antonio, Austin, Houston, and Commerce.

I began distributing them locally late this afternoon, and I bought almost all the mailing tubes in town. The more far-flung participants will get theirs next week.

At 20 inches tall, the magnet paintings are too big for some vehicles' doors. Some local recipients have found they have to put them on the hood. That seems to work quite well, except for one Chrysler product which apparently has a plastic hood.

Participants can put the magnet paintings on their cars whenever they want, but the official opening of the show will be Saturday, Sept. 13. That is the opening day of the fall gallery season in my part of Texas.

There are about eight magnet paintings remaining. If anybody wants one you can contact me through my Web site:

David Brooks is stupid

David Brooks' column in the New York Times constitutes a rear-guard action against his worst nightmare. Ride that horsey, David! Ride!

Why must the Times cut a paycheck to someone so unutterably incompetent? Is whatever Maureen Dowd has succumbed to proved contagious? Brooks' "analysis" is contemptibly facile and without any conceivable merit. He's such an idiot he thinks it's about STYLE! Style is precisely the problem. Or rather concerns about style are the problem. Style is so 90's Bubba-Joe. We be doin' substance now.

Want to talk about elitism? Try this shit: "And today we Democrats meet in Denver, a suburb of Boulder, a city whose motto is, “A Taxi? You Must be Dreaming.”" Uh, Dave? Some of us live out here where elitist taxis don't come around. You some kinda elitist easterner or somethin'? We DRIVE where we gotta go 'round these parts.

And for all his kickass New York City erudition, Brooks can't tell the difference between a column and a pilaster. You wanna try some real elitism someday, Davey boy? I'll be there with my game on. We'll do the elitism throwdown. If I win, I get to ride you like a taxi all over Cow Hill, Texas. You win, you pick.

And here's a fine culmination of a lousy column:

No, this country cannot afford to elect John Bushmccain. Under Republican rule, locusts have stripped the land, adults wear crocs in public and M&M’s have lost their flavor. We must instead ride to the uplands of hope!

For as Barack Obama suggested Thursday night, wherever there is a president who needs to tap our natural-gas reserves, I’ll be there. Wherever there is a need for a capital-gains readjustment for targeted small businesses, I’ll be there. Wherever there is a president committed to direct diplomacy with nuclear proliferators, I’ll be there, too! God bless the Democrats, and God Bless America!

This is not about candy, dumbass. We're not pretending. It is about very real events that have transpired during your boy's administration. You know. Stupid war. Economic crisis. Botched New Orleans recovery. That sort of thing. Shit that actually MATTERS to people.

And, speaking as one with a stock portfolio, I must say that your capital gains bullshit displays not a single clue about tax policy, and perilous little about what most investors need and want to see implemented.

Thursday, August 28, 2008


Yesterday, a guy named John Goodman, who is not the man who played Roseanne Barr's husband on TV, but who is president of something called the National Center for Policy Analysis, told the Dallas Morning News that health insurance is not a problem in America. His remarks were reported as part of a story on the fact that there are more uninsured people in Texas than in any other state in this imperfect union. Almost one in four Texans do not have health insurance, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Goodman, who is not really a good man, "reasoned" that since everybody who needs medical attention must by law be served at a hospital emergency room, everybody really does, in fact, have guaranteed health care. The problem of uninsured Americans, Goodman says, can easily be fixed when the Census Bureau is instructed not to count them anymore.

John Goodman, who is not married to Roseanne Barr and who never played the part on TV, does in fact play the part of an adviser to John McCain. But not on TV. His work is done in real life. But no matter. The article reports that he helped design the McCain health care policy. A MAN WHO CONSTRUCTED THE REPUBLICAN PRESIDENTIAL NOMINEE'S HEALTH CARE PROPOSAL BELIEVES RENAMING SHIT REMOVES THE NATION'S PROBLEM WITH THE UNINSURED. You might have noticed that this makes me angry. And the bastard was smug about it: "Voila! Problem solved!" It is as though his name made him good. Or got him credit for acting in a slew of films and a comedy series on TV. Or even made him a man.

Fucking Orwellian! The persistent, deliberate destruction of meaning by right-wing plutocrats is a disgrace. And it has real life consequences for one person in four in Texas. For too long, slope-headed, useless crap like this has passed as policy analysis in our country. It's on a par with "heck of a job, Brownie," "Mission Accomplished," and all the rest of the renaming and repackaging and rearranging provided us by what used to be called conservatives, but now might properly be called hubcaps or staplers or sheetrock. I know! Let's call them peyote! They want us to hallucinate.

It is not just stupid. It is evil. Calling ketchup a vegetable during the Reagan years has come back to bite everybody in the ass.

Meanwhile, America spends more per capita on health care than any nation on earth. But our average life expectancy ranks about 33rd worldwide. How come the market hasn't rectified this disparity? Could it be that the market model isn't appropriate to decisions about life and death? How much is your life worth to you?

Meanwhile, up in Denver some guy with a funny name rocked the house with real-world (and decidedly meaningful) language about the difference between what is and what out to be. And he offered nothing about pretending. Even conservative old Andrew Sullivan was impressed. It is not merely one pissed-off guy down here in Texas who yearns for a meaningful political discourse.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The Weight

Barry Ritholtz has a gem of a blog about financial stuff here. Monday, he linked to a cogent video about our major mortgage corporations Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which together hold about $15 trillion in mortgages and mortgage-backed securities. Fifteen thousand thousand thousand thousand dollars, that is. We're up to parsec numbers, folks. And the US gubment has had to announce recently they'll step in to make them solvent. This effectively adds the weight of their mortgage debt to the already astronomical obligations our country has amassed during the Bush years.

Guess who is going to pay that debt? Cindy McCain won't even be able to make an interest payment.

Under the current administration, gubmental oversight of the wheeling dealings at our two biggest gubment-sponsored enterprises (GSE's) has been completely absent. One assumes it has to do with some sort of laissez faire ideology, though a more cynical observer might be tempted to infer that gubment by anti-gubment millionaires leads to bad gubment. Them as want no control of financial activity is most likely to put folks without a clue in charge of the regulation process because they be ideologically indisposed to do the job to begin with. Carmen and the Devil really were walkin' side-by-side.

And ......... they put the load right on me. On you, too.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Hitting for power

Michelle Obama's speech tonight was fine! Took it all the way downtown. Personal, particularized, connected with general principles in smart and elegant ways. And eager! Almost unable to hold herself back in her delivery. Straining against standard oratorical pacing because of her enthusiasm.

Old Ted Kennedy put a runner on base -- I loved the part about honoring our servicemen and women enough not to waste their courage for a mistake. With her exhortation that America not give in to fear, but embrace hope instead, Michelle drove them both home.


This is arugula. It's also called rocket and roquette. It's a salad green. It has become a campaign issue because of stupid bullshit. Political discourse about a salad green isn't a good thing. In fact, it ranks right up there with low carbon charcoal in the universe of dumb.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

I have a history of these things

My opposition to the Bush/Cheney debacle in Iraq has an older sibling. This is something I just scanned. Lately it's been on our refrigerator.

The war then was in Vietnam, and I was somewhat less mature than I believe myself to be today.

What works

Not long ago, I opined here that policies (like deciding what's for dinner and determining why it's the right thing to eat) should be selected because they have a good chance to work, not because they reflect an ideologically rigorous program or fit a cherished label.

Now comes this preview of an article in the NY Times Magazine. Ahhhhh. This is why we need this guy. He says stuff like: “My core economic theory is pragmatism ... figuring out what works.”

And this: “Reagan’s central insight — that the liberal welfare state had grown complacent and overly bureaucratic, with Democratic policy makers more obsessed with slicing the economic pie than with growing that pie — contained a good deal of truth.”

And (via this link in the Times article) this: "I think that all of us here today would acknowledge that we've lost some of that sense of shared prosperity. Now, this loss has not happened by accident. It's because of decisions made in board rooms, on trading floors and in Washington. Under Republican and Democratic administrations, we've failed to guard against practices that all too often rewarded financial manipulation instead of productivity and sound business practice. We let the special interests put their thumbs on the economic scales. The result has been a distorted market that creates bubbles instead of steady, sustainable growth; a market that favors Wall Street over Main Street, but ends up hurting both. Nor is this trend new. The concentrations of economic power and the failures of our political system to protect the American economy and American consumers from its worst excesses have been a staple of our past: most famously in the 1920s, when such excesses ultimately plunged the country into the Great Depression. That is when government stepped in to create a series of regulatory structures, from FDIC to the Glass-Steagall Act, to serve as a corrective, to protect the American people and American business."

And (back to the original article) this: “I think I can tell a pretty simple story. Ronald Reagan ushered in an era that reasserted the marketplace and freedom. He made people aware of the cost involved of government regulation or at least a command-and-control-style regulation regime. Bill Clinton to some extent continued that pattern, although he may have smoothed out the edges of it. And George Bush took Ronald Reagan’s insight and ran it over a cliff. And so I think the simple way of telling the story is that when Bill Clinton said the era of big government is over, he wasn’t arguing for an era of no government. So what we need to bring about is the end of the era of unresponsive and inefficient government and short-term thinking in government, so that the government is laying the groundwork, the framework, the foundation for the market to operate effectively and for every single individual to be able to be connected with that market and to succeed in that market. And it’s now a global marketplace."

And near the end of the article Obama tells the author about the Bobby Kennedy speech I've quoted here before, says it's his most beautiful speech. And then he discusses sustainability -- working to make an economy that doesn't destroy our ability to live on this planet.

He's not an old-guard ideologue. He's a man with a moral compass who wants to find real solutions.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

We have new neighbors here in Commerce, and I'm irrationally disposed towards them. I see between two and four of them nightly on our front porch. Two to four at a time that is. I first noticed them last summer. Geckos have colonized the region. I found them living in my smoker pit a while back, but they really seem to like the screen on the front porch.

They have the benefit of being small and carnivorous, so they eat bugs and other critters smaller than me. Also they appear to travel solo -- no pesky packs o' geckos, kickin' ass and takin' names around the hood-- which surely would concern the local homo sapiens population. Just the odd insectivore munching on pests out there in the Texas night.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Gehry in London

Just in from the New York Times: Frank Gehry likes big wood. Evidence here.

Monday, August 18, 2008

A Bit More About Video

As I mentioned, we visited the video program at Conduit Gallery Saturday evening. Here's a schedule of the five-week event. There was a screening of Chinese director/artist Yang Fudong's "An Estranged Paradise," which I failed to connect with except for a few passages of lovely imagery. The beginning of the film, with its disquisition on rules for creating a sense of space in traditional Chinese landscape painting, provided an intellectually stimulating frame for the city landscapes that follow, but an hour or so into the movie it was a tough task to keep painting in mind. Mostly I was reminded of French Nouvelle Vague.

I was engaged in conversation out in the front gallery during the seated presentation of Angerame's "Anaconda Targets" in the back, but I was told the impact was all the stronger for its near-11-minute duration.

My favorite piece of the night was Michael Bell-Smith's "Battleship Potemkin Dance Edit." Bell-Smith re-cut Eisenstein's classic film to a standard house beat dance rhythm. When I first learned of the piece, I wrote one of the curators that the title alone brought back memories of being in a club back in the summer of 1970 and dancing to Crosby Stills and Nash: "Four Dead in
Ohio." Shallow at the core and somehow just wrong, but what's the use of a revolution if you can't dance? And what I imagined of the video suggested a thoughtful take on time -- dance time and cinematic time, as it was conceived by the man who invented montage.

Years ago Peter Halle had a show at the DMA in which he painted two sociological flow charts on the walls next to his paintings. One was a chart of being admitted to prison, the other charted getting into a disco. They looked the same.

But the mechanically regularized pace of Bell-Smith's Potemkin edit was much more than an ironic take on something great from the past or a dry observation on modes of duration and intertextual tempos. The metronome beat -- relentless and industrial and mindless and soulless -- cast the struggles and violence of Eisenstein's work in an entirely irrational universe. Things happened. Sometimes they happened slowly. Sometime quickly. But they only happened. And it became clear that they had to happen.

The organic flow of the original montage was embedded in a moral attitude towards the narrative. Watching Eisenstein's movie, we were invited to judge the unfolding events, and implicit in our very capacity to make a moral judgment about the actions of the characters is the supposition that these events could unfold differently, that the people could behave another way.

The dance edit allows no judgments. Can you judge the ticking of a clock?

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Hybrid Car Art

Yesterday we drove to the latest installment of the Dallas Video Festival in the Prius. I attached the magnet painting to the door before we left. We got over 60 MPG on the trip in. I'm not sayin' everybody's mileage will be that good, and most likely the tail wind had a lot to do with it. But still it can't hurt to have a painting on your car.

So far 23 people have contacted me with requests for a Painting is Never car magnet.

The "Painting is Never Traveling Show" will open Saturday, Sept. 13 to coincide with the start of the fall gallery season in Dallas. Participants are invited to sip a glass of wine that evening if they like.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Art Project

Crummy photo, good idea.

Back when I was teaching, a student in my advanced drawing class made a river of craft paper and stuck it on the windows of the Art Building. Her name is Christy Crosson. Now she's living in Marfa where she'll be one of the participants in the "Painting is Never Traveling Show."

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Art Car/Car Art update, again

Finally. The fabricator delivered the proof printing of my painting car magnet. Above is an image of it on the door of my Honda. There was a slight color shift to the exposure; the green is less neutral than it appears in this photo. The printing is a little blurry up close, but seen from the street (where a car ought to be) it looks very good. Transparent passages of color allow bits of the text to show through as is the case with the original painting.

The rest of the edition should be available next week. With luck, I'll get them shipped out in time for an opening of the "Painting is Never Traveling Show" the first week of September

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Dallas Video

We attended a panel discussion on video art today at the DMA. Organized by the Dallas Video Art Festival in conjunction with a video series currently running at Conduit Gallery, the DMA, The Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, and other sites in the region, the talk consisted of off-the-cuff observations about the medium by the show's curators -- Bart Weis, Charles Dee Mitchell, and Carolyn Sortor -- and Paul Slocum, whose And/Or Gallery was host both to an interesting show I reviewed recently for Art Lies and to some of the video festival, too.

Slocum is a hacker and newer-than-new media artist who has a band called Tree Wave and a blog here (if you may be susceptible to seizures, beware the frenetic wallpaper). Years ago, Slocum took a beginning painting class from me, as he reminded me after the DMA event today. He says his paintings were mediocre. I can't remember his paintings, but I do remember him. That may be evidence to support his estimation of their value. It's good to see him doing well in his nerdly niche.

The presentation included snippets from a number of videos which either have already run in the series or will run in coming weeks. (The festival lasts five weeks) Notable snippets included Jon Pylypchuk's demented "Dating Game" reenactment (starring wieners -- the boudin blanc was an albino), Guy Ben-Ner's disarming "Moby Dick" retelling in his kitchen (co-starring his daughter), and Dominic Angerame's "Anaconda Targets," which consisted of unedited cockpit videos of smart bombs doing their terrible work on an Afghan battlefield.

As is usual for such Sunday afternoon museum talks, most of the discussion lingered on the surfaces of things. (Not that there's anything wrong with surfaces. Someday I'll write of my belief in mere appearances and the allure of skins.) Still, I'd have liked to hear a bit more about the recursive -- or redoubled -- concepts of time these artists addressed. Sortor was always on the brink of saying someting about it, but it never happened.

Observation to take to the bank: Dee Mitchell, discussing "Anaconda Targets" opined that the artist's not editing or otherwise altering the images or the audio rendered it a readymade documentary. Chew on that a moment and the importance of the surface may begin to appear.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Quoted -- sorta

An article in the LA Times quoted my review of Robert Wilhite's Bomb at Barry Whistler Gallery. They didn't say it was me, natch, just some unnamed art critic in Texas.

Get yer crayons out

Or something.

Glasstire reports that is sponsoring an online art exhibit in support of the themes of the Obama presidential campaign: hope, progress, change, patriotism, and unity. This, I believe, is probably a bad idea for numerous reasons, not the least of which is all the really awful art misfires it's likely to engender.

I tried to come up with something about those estimable nouns a while back, but maybe it was just my mood...

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Art car/car art update

This is the painting I'm having reproduced as a magnetic door sign for cars. I'll have a test piece in the coming week. If all goes well, there will be an edition of 40 in a week or so more. I'm at the mercy of a fabricator, so I can't offer a definite schedule.

The is title Painting is Never. The magnets will be 20 x 16 inches, the same size as the painting.

The plan is to distribute them to people interested in sticking one on the door of their car. Distribution will be free on the condition that I receive photo documentation of my painting's travels. Documentation will be posted here and on my Web site, which is desperately in need of a make-over.

This is to be a Painting is Never traveling show.

Interested parties, please contact me for details.