Sunday, August 31, 2008

Send Lawyers, Guns & Money

I think the name Gary predisposes a person, especially a guy, to certain acts of either bravery of foolishness. Gary lived at the edge of the bike trails. There were miles and miles of fields with the most elaborate system, if you could call it that, of dirt tracks that led to every place a boy could imagine wanting to go in the days before video games, Atari pong and Pac-Man notwithstanding. It was a time of go-carts, mini-bikes, ten-speeds and collecting beer cans. Gary had a large collection of fire-arms, knifes, dead grenades, swords, beer cans and Nazi gear. As I said, they lived where the trails started at the edge of farm country. They also had big stack of Johnny Cash and Elvis records. This too was the area where Garison Keilor was raised and in fact he attended the haunted, boarded-up brick schoolhouse that was at the end of our street a few years before we discovered all the places and people he talks about in Lake Wobegone. We were all very interested in collecting beer cans in 1976. The country’s bicentennial was a good year for that and Gary had invited Marty and Mike to come over to “make some trades.” If the reference to the Elvis and Johnny Cash records mixed with the Nazi stuff isn’t enough I’ll digress a bit here to give you some insight into this guy’s psyche. Not long before this little tale transpired Gary and I had been messing around with some swords in his basement. After I nearly lost my hand to a vintage civil war saber I proposed we do something else. With a deviant look in his eye Gary invited me to see his dad’s new .357 magnum. Now this gun is a revolver with a long barrel. You can load a .357 with either magnum shells or smaller .38 caliber bullets. The 38’s are a lot cheaper and many people will shoot those for target practice and keep the magnums handy for fending off intruders etc. Gary removed the firing pin. I didn’t see it. What I did see was the large .357 magnum bullet he dropped into the cylinder. He spun the cylinder then he pointed the gun at my head. I remembered a story I had heard about someone who had “lost” playing a game of Russian roulette. That was fresh in my mind.
Both Gary and I considered ourselves hunters. We were pretty savvy about guns and shooting stuff. We had also attended firearm safety classes and seen the gory filmstrips and movies designed to scare a kid into good firearm etiquette. (Much like the ones they showed us during driver training.) Maniacal chuckling was coming out of him as he clicked off empty chambers at my head. I was waiting for the one with the bullet. Actually I wasn’t waiting, I was running through his house cursing and looking for the nearest door while Johnny cash was singing about a boy named Sue in the background. He just chased me clicking the gun at my head laughing like an idiot. He finally told me the gun had no firing pin. This was the fellow we were dealing with.
As Mike and Marty approached the drive they heard an explosion in the house. Before they had time to react the front door burst open and a fifteen-year-old named Kevin came out screaming, running for his life. A moment later Gary appeared with a shotgun aimed at him. It was a 12 gauge pump. As Mike and Marty looked on in amazement the shotgun barked, Kevin fell, the gun blasted again and Kevin went to has face not 20 feet from the other two. At that moment Gary leveled the gun at Mike and Marty. The smaller of the two fell to his knees to beg for mercy. Marty, being a very fast runner and, by some accounts, used to this sort of thing, ran for his life. As the one pleaded for his life in tears and blubbering, Kevin got up out of the tall un-mown grass and both he and Gary had a long and cruel laugh at Mike‘s expense…They had removed the lead shot from the shells leaving just the powder and the wad. When the gun was fired it looked and sounded real but only flame and a small piece of cardboard came out the end of the barrel. We didn’t play much with Gary after that.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

The Prussians Are Coming...To Trim The Junipers 15x30

I actually used black paint on this...can you guess where? Yes, you're right if you said the sky. As in "sky of royal blue". But in this case it would've been Prussian blue but I didn't have any of that so I made some with cobalt and black and a little ultramarine. In honor of the new vice presidential candidate I've decided not to give the Europeans any credit by referring to the blue paint as "French" ultramarine. Besides, along with anyone worth their weight, she has apparently "always" been proud of America. Something I wish I could say and am happy for and admire the people who can. Yes, I had my dalliances with flag burning and anti American stuff before I learned the hard way... Ain't no place like freedom...that's for sure. I was expelled from high school for not standing up for the pledge of allegiance in an all school assembly and even voted for Gus Hall (communist party) in my first election. So I can identify with the staunchest ascribers to the-grass-is-greener... / let's-conform-to-all-the-"non-conformists"-as-we-follow-eachother(& Hollywood)-off-the-cliff / It's-so-important-what-other-countries-think-about-America / Kill-the-babies-but-save-the-wales groups. But really folks, one simple and beautiful little antidote is all that's needed if you think like the wife of one of the candidates; attend the naturalization ceremony of new US citizens. It will melt your little old heart and help you see ...there's no place like home. I think it should be a requirement for every high school graduate along with learning how to tie flies and to read English!
PS. Before you're allowed to take any offence at my political references and respond, you must have attended at least one naturalization (citizenship) ceremony. Otherwise it would be like you saying honey tastes bitter and salty while I'm wallowing in it and you've never tried it. So, take no your heart and mind. Some of the meanest and most closed minded people (and sad) I've ever met are left-leaning politicos from all around the world. Chalk it up to small experience on my part but it has been mine nonetheless. I'll leave off with a truthful Spanish saying..."He who has truly loved but one woman, has loved them all. He who has "loved" many has truly loved none".

Friday, August 29, 2008

Mountain Retreat 20x24

Dear Blog, Hello! How are you today? The vagaries of life near the border are varied and manifest and find me often in places of strange and doubtful repute. Yesterday brought us face to face with a couple of them. The money exchange house is the place where hard-working immigrants send their hard-earned dollars back home to Mexico. The attendant doesn't speak English from behind the bullet-proof glass and the pantheon of posters plastered over almost every square inch of available flat surface in the improbable, small and decrepit building advertise herbal medicine, bras and candles for the saints - makes you realize there are places in America that are nothing like Kansas. Now, I must say that not only do we frequent places like this but we are actually connoisseurs of them. By long and hard-won experience we know where to go to get the best deal on sending stuff into the hinterlands of ol' Mexico. There are a handful of these money houses that charge a lower percentage than the Western Union and Money Gram sites scattered throughout Tucson. This particular one is sandwiched between thrift stores and pawn shops. I took advantage of the occasion to check out the 8 track cassettes for sale in the shop one door to the south and was freshly reminded of CCR, Art Garfunkel, Neil Diamond (he had the most) and the Kinks. Richie and I attended their (the Kinks) concert back when. He drove his dad's 1970 Olds 98. It was the "fully loaded" LS 4 door version and in immaculate condition. This is a car from the era when they made electric windows that could/would cut your fingers off if you weren't careful. Non of that "protect the children" stuff went into the engineering of this boat. It had at least 20 conveniently placed ashtrays throughout the interior along with an assortment of vanity mirrors, Kleenex dispensers and lights. I think it had to weigh about eight thousand pounds and the 455 Rocket V-8 with it's four barrel carb actually made audible sucking sounds as it went careening down the highway consuming 58 cent-a-gallon gas at an unbelievable rate. We could actually see the gauge move every time the pedal was pushed to the metal, as they say. There's nothing like floating across town to see one of your favorite bands in a blue 4 ton ocean liner. And there's nothing quite like fumbling around the pile of eight-tracks looking for Don McLean's American Pie as you head into Deadman's Curve on West River Road overlooking the mighty Mississippi. Well, back to the thrift store. I did end up buying a $2 video tape of the sort one of our younger kids would like...don't even know if we have a VCR anymore. Aren't they a thing of the past? It was a cramped, hot and humid jungle of empty holsters, used coloring books, stale cigarette smoke and an older looking Black man wearing a grey fedora was busy arranging the myriad articles (of junk) in a mystifying order of chaos... water dripped from the ceiling as I shouldered past head-high stacks of National Geographic magazines, old typewriters and small, used appliances. He was kind and said he wasn't the owner when I asked, said he's " jus watchin' the place ...trying to fix it up a bit". When we didn't have anything but a one dollar bill and a ten to pay the two bucks for the video he just gave it to me for $1. Great, I was able to recoup some of the interest fee charged at the Dolex money exchange next door....and see some 8 tracks that brought back good memories. When was the last time you listened to an 8 track cassette?

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Dream Of Me 24x18

I think I can safely begin to contemplate retirement. At least from writing. I've been informed that this blawg has been printed and presented for public (private) reading pleasure in someone's bathroom next to the Reader's Digest and Field & Stream magazines! What more could one ask for? Hang all of Michael Phelps medals around my neck along with those of Jean-Claude Killy (winner of 3 golds in 1968-Skiing) and it would not equal the honor! Let me be credited with eradicating all the poverty and sickness in the world and all wildcat dumping in my neighborhood and it would still not even come close. Bequeath all the lauding and obeisance due the one who tunes Bob Dylan's guitar and may all kinds of otherworldly glory be bestowed, be it ever so gracefully, upon your humble servants slightly balding pate, and even this euphoric pinnacle of achievement and sparkling glorification would not compare. So, lest I get too "puffed up" as it were, in my own eyes, I've decided to take the opportunity to relish in and expose a bit of (my) bad behavior and show a darker side of Paco the errant / outsider artist. I've already told you about my car-jacking escapades. Well, they are nothing compared to the arson, wild hemp harvesting, wild game poaching, muskrat skinning and vandalism perpetrating accounts I could easily regale you with... for hours! Not that I'm proud of any of this mind you. And in all honesty, I can only divulge so much. After all, I still have kids to feed and I can't very well do that from a jail cell. I will say though that guns have played a very large part in my development as an artist and raconteur and as such, figure prominently in some of my adventures. The story I'll tell in my next entry is just the tip of a horrendiferous iceberg of maniacal madness. Speaking of firearms...three times I have been an inch away from smuggling guns into Mexico, even had the dashboard taken apart for the purpose of stashing a few rifles once. Alas, better judgement prevailed and thus negated my ability to tell a sordid tale of life in a Mexican jail...though I have visited a few of them over the years and saw enough to realize that the cons outweighed the pros as far as future potential blog fodder versus pain and suffering is concerned. So, once again, stay tuned...

Monday, August 25, 2008

The Hills Have Souls 20x24

Here's the little story I promised in my previous entry. The moon painting brings a certain melancholy...helps one remember all the water that's gone under the bridge. All at the same time our childhood seems like it was yesterday....and like it was several lifetimes ago. Isn't that funny? I do have a lot of good, positive energy / cosmic conundrums that I will spill on you from time to time...regarding snakes. Don't worry. None of them have anything to do with planes.

My first bike was a red convertible hand-me-down. I suppose it had been my sister’s but I don‘t remember ever seeing her ride it. She was 4 years older than I and had nothing to do with me, my friends or ...snakes for that matter, so the “convertible” part made sense. The top bar that distinguished a boys bike from a girls was removable. In the case of this vintage cruiser it was in the shape of a streamlined gas tank. At least that’s what I always thought it was supposed to look like. As soon as the training wheels were removed it became my constant summertime companion….Until the stingray with the banana seat and sissy bar took it’s place. I don’t remember too many places or activities that were prohibited of us kids then. Not that we (I ) really listened too well to those things listed as “off limits“. I think the old folks back in those days had the wisdom to keep quiet about things that would unnecessarily pique our interest and feed our already over-active imaginations and…lead to trouble. There were no computers, no videos and no sitting around the house molderating and getting bored. The odd black & white TV show didn’t hold much for us either. We had bikes, matches, pocket knives, the burn barrel and…Elm Creek.
The creek and a small marsh were about a mile from the house. They should have been off-limits to my friends and me. The new bikes and our ability to navigate them with preternatural skill and speed made the seemingly endless journey an adventure of grand proportions.
A number of small creatures dominated our interest in those days. Skinks and salamanders were especially high on the list. But the real monster of the 5 year old’s brain-field was the common garter snake. Capturing them was never a question of “if”, it was always “how” and then, what to put them in to bring them home as living trophies of our conquests. On the particular day I’m remembering we caught an exceptionally long one. After trying to carry the hapless, half-choked little serpent a ways it was evident that we weren’t going to make it like that on our bikes. There were no coffee cans laying around. Plus, he kept biting my little hands. What else do you put a critter in besides a Folgers can? The sinuous shape of the shiny chrome handlebar seemed long enough and since I had the habit of dropping my bike every time I got off it the plastic hand grips were all but gone. This left a nice snake-sized opening. Greg and Jerry thought it was a great idea so in he went. We hurried home and being preoccupied as we were with our long scaley prey we gave hardly a thought to stop and adjust the close pins & playing cards in the spokes. As soon as we could get him out there’d be a nice shiny new can to put him in…with grass and maybe some water or a frog or two. Upon arrival every possible tool, implement, condiment and pressure was used to get him to come out; the garden hose, pepper, pliers, sticks, catsup, rocks etc. We dragged the bike up and down the slide on the swing set hoping to jar him loose, to no avail. We pried, smashed, jolted, blew, sucked and, short of using fire, tried everything our little devious minds could come up with to dislodge the snake from his tubular den. We never did know if he crawled out later that night …and we never did see him again. However, there was an aroma that followed me on that little convertible bike all summer long. It was 1967. The summer of love. This is just an introduction of sorts to my many and various snake tales-just to give you an idea of when and how it all started. ...and a hint of how far it (might) goes. And no, I'm not responsible for the snake-barfing-up-a-hippo video that's floating around out there.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Gran Gloria 48x72

Here's a little picture I promised. I'm on my way to becoming known as the painter who makes 24x30 inch canvases look like miniatures. This is one big bad boy and before I go off into one of my rants that has nothing to do with the painting pictured let me say that this is being offered at a very fair price. I've looked at clouds from both sides now and I can assure you that anything that comes close to looking like this (or better) at this size would cost you more than my parents paid for their three bedroom rambler on Sierra Parkway in Brooklyn Park, Minnesota back in 1961... about the time I was just a twinkle in someone's eye. This was a joy to make- a bit strenuous on my legs and back but a joy nonetheless. It's being offered for sale here. It will be shipped rolled and you'll need to have a frame shop make a stretcher (canvas frame) It will look real snazzy without a finished frame. The edges will be painted on the stretcher bars and I made it to look good like that. It will cost around two hundred to have it stretched and the finished / viewable size will be about 5 inches less per dimension. Also, I made a video of the making of this and if I can recruit some teenage help I'll have that up on the blog before too long. Now, to that rant I promised. The mention of the old house got me to thinkin' about the way things were back in the days of yor. Back when we rode our stingray bikes everywhere our little imaginations would carry us, back when airplanes were allowed to fly over the city at the speed of sound setting off a series of "booms" that put the fear of God (and Vietnam) in little Billy Hawkins. The following is a bit long...and almost boring so I won't feel overly dejected if you don't make it through the entire story. It was a good memory and since we just got us a drum set today I think a tale from around the time I thought I should write a song like the Beatles is appropriate. Or...maybe I'll wait till next blog!?! PSYCH!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Verga On The Bluff 24x36

I have a great new series of paintings coming up. This is one that was a real pleasure to make... A view from the local skate park / multi field / use facility. One of the only places with grass in a thousand mile radius. We were there the other night, shot some hoops, played some tennis and listened to my friend Dave tell me how much he hates the president and America and Christians. All the while this great view was on display above our nodding heads. I was so distracted that I think I gave him the impression I agreed with his opinions. Oh well, there aren't too many things I hate but one of them is when my paint brushes start to separate. That pretty much spells the end of their usefulness. A hateful thing it is and they are generally more expensive than gasoline... I wish I could get more mileage out of them. I find myself reverting to my old palette lately. It's hard to remember to look for the new colors in amongst the pile of paint stuff scattered at my feet, and since each color has it's place and position on the palette, I have to run herd on them so's they don't get to fussin' and fight'n. There's some new press on your ol' paintin' buddy too. (that's me) Art Calendar magazine has a little feature with a picture of a handsome bearded man. Also, a webzine has asked me to write an article...something about my philosophy of art. Oh boy, they have no idea the can of worms they're about to open! Well, I guess I'd rather have a can of worms opened on me than a can of whoop #@!& which is what I think the Russian art school would like to do to me. The adoption just took too much time and $ for me to continue my role as international man of mystery. I was not able to make the school/ trip to Russia...would have been there this month teaching a week-long workshop and trying to figure out how to steal some artifacts from the Hermitage museum. I hope they invite me back next year. Sorry I'm not writing this update from St. Petersburg or... Helsinki, Finland. I have friends in Helsinki. (That's spy code-talk if you didn't know)

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

If Cows Roam Free Why Shouldn't We 15x30

I mean what are the chances? Once every four years, maybe, the words synchronized swimming come out of my mouth. And yes, probably in some sort of remark designed to cause a group chuckle and show a certain amount of incredulity about the "sport". As in, "Is that really a sport?" or something to that effect. Well, I saw SS today on the live / not really live, Olympic feed. It reminded me of a chance encounter I had not long ago. Somehow the conversation turned to sports and I made an offhand comment about all the new sports they're allowing into the Olympics and finished it with "Oh well, if they let synchronized swimming into the Olympics and call it a sport than they ought to let the ones who did inhale (snowboarders) in too. My ears still ring with the multi-verb tongue lashing I received from the ex-SS champion. Who woulda thunk? Have you ever known a synchronized swimmer? I'm reminded of a line from a Bob Dylan song. "You ever seen a ghost? No, but you have heard of them." Now what does that have to do with this nice new painting? The harmonious synchronicity displayed by the juxtaposition of the cows in the field with the sultry summer evening sky as a backdrop parallels nicely with the beautiful and athletic image of synchronized swimmers...That's how. Being offered here on auction.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Mysterious Mountain Moon Makes magical Mischief 30x24

It's been great to be back in the studio and just to spite the down-turned economy and all, I am throwing my full weight into / behind the work at hand. ...and letting stuff go to auction. A lot of this work really has no business being put "on the block" as it were. Not that my present work has any intrinsic merit or value above other contemporary masterpieces of like quality. It's just that to those of us who, like nature, abhor a vacuum, (yes, even a Kirby Deluxe) two dimensional artwork can only be perceived as precious and as valuable as the purest gold of Ophir. At all costs, those walls must be covered! And this is the stuff to do it with. I think if I were pressed I'd even trade one of my kids for a good painting!?!? ...Hey, maybe I've already done that. I'll be working on some extra large canvases the next couple of months. These will be displayed here and made available either in one of our new galleries or in our eBay store so keep your eyes peeled. (ouch)

I gather there's a bit of unrest and worry out there what with the Chinese winning all them gold medals and the Ruskies trying to take over the world again. And of course, here at home, our gasoline is costing more per gallon than a six-pack of Hamms beer...which is probably the worst tasting beer that ever existed. In light of this I recommend two things. One is to buy original art. The other is to read a newsletter from someone working in a refugee camp somewhere in the world. Our friend Tricia is a nurse in Yemen. She tells stories of suffering the like of which makes every trial I've ever been through, be it magnified ten fold, seem like a walk in the park. Good thing the dear Lord Jesus has these little ones in mind because not too many people seem to. Where is the promise of His coming anyway? Read II Peter chapter 3 for a comprehensive and very encouraging answer to that question. In fact, I think I'll stop writing here and do just that.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Satisfied Land 30x24

In honor of our recent adventures south-o-da-border, I've added another yarn here for your culinary pleasure. I have several fantastical stories that feature Pancho. I'm not sure why. We are good friends but are not bosom buddies by any stretch. He drinks way too much tequila and Tecate beer for us to have any kind of healthy relationship. Be that as it may, he has managed to work his way into a number of tall tales that I'll share here from time to time and in our forthcoming book. (Remember? The one that might never get written)

Pancho was my next door neighbor in a little mountain village of 300 people. He is a miner in the Sierra Madres of Sonora, Mexico. He gave me a rattlesnake rattle to put in my guitar one day. It’s supposed to be for good luck or to keep the devil away or something like that. Anyway, I think it has long since become dust, or one of the kids took it out to join the Legos or …I just don’t remember which guitar it’s in. I have had a great string of luck though since that happened a number of years ago and the devil hasn’t killed me so, I will conclude with my ranchero friends that there’s something to this belief. Pancho is the same man who told me of his harrowing adventure carrying a backpack full of wacky tobaco across the US / Mexico border on a moonless summer night. The floodlights came on at around 2 am as they were ordered to drop their guns. Along with one other “burro” he made a run for it and went head-over-heels down a long hillside and over a small cliff. He came up ready to fire, having just been taught how to use the new automatic “cuerno de chivo” machine gun he was carrying. Well, the friend wasn’t shot and they both got away. The other 5 guys were caught by US agents…smuggling drugs and guns into our country. After three months in a local jail they were back in their respective pueblos planning another “trip” to America. Coincidentally, Pancho is the same friend that I planned to go fishing with at the Rio Cuchujaqui. We knew where some big bass were lurking and Pancho had a few sticks of dynamite handy. (Remember he’s a miner) These explosives would’ve cleared out our favorite fishing hole and we had half the kids in town wanting to go along. So, we fished with our hands instead and gathered two large sacks worth of bluegills and tilapia. No claims of post traumatic stress disorder were filed and save for a few bloody knuckles (from pulling the slippery critters out from under the rocks) we made it back healthier and wiser for not using the bombs-for-fish-program.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Storm 24x30

Summer is still on full blast here in the desert southwest. Though school has started and the kids lament the return of the drudgery and routine (I can hardly blame them) we are barely into the dog days of summer and ...there is still another month and a half of this left. The skies present some great inspiration though and, as I'm always looking up for more of that, I run the very real risk of tripping over stuff. Speaking of tripping...I'd like to quote a favorite song that reflects pretty accurately the last trip I was on. It goes..."In fourteen months I've only smiled once and I didn't do it consciously" (If you can finish the rest of the verse I'll give you some kind of prize. I promise it will be better than a sharp stick in the eye.) Life is one big trip and oh how I would love to have a first-class ticket sometimes. Alas, here we are in coach breathing in all that recycled air and hoping for a smooth landing. A little glimpse, from time to time, at the glory out the window is highly recommended and indeed necessary ...especially during those long flights. Here's a preview of what you might see looking to your right from seat 28F coming into to Las Cruces at 7pm. This painting is available here. PS. I was driving through New Mexico when I took the pictures used to make this painting. The airplane imagery was used only for poetical and analogous comparisons, Verbal seasoning if you will. ...artistic licence etc.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

G-L-O-R-I-A 24x18

I said I'd have some new cloudageness for y'all and, well, here it is. Texas sky-inspired back lit beauties are a real joy to paint. Yes, this is my one concession to romanticism and if they weren't fun to make (as well as to look at) I don't think all the tea in China together with all their under aged, genetically bred Olympians could get me to make romantic art. That said, I will admit I'm a bit of a sucker for glory and beauty in all their fantastical found in the natural world. Conversely, there is not much in the "unnatural" world that floats my boat. The virtual world of electro-pseudo fun and reality would be that of the XBox 360 and wii. The kids have tried to get me to play the Guitar Hero program. I did it once. When the Kinks (and I ) were jammin' on You Really Got Me and (we) broke into Dave Davies lead guitar solo I went running up the neck as if it were a real guitar, flash-backin' all the way to my first high school band. Well, needless to say, there are no frets, or strings, (buttons) "up the neck" on the gizmo so I just about did a Pete Townsend (The Who) and smashed that baby to smithereens. I saw The Who in concert right after Keith Moon died. My friend Tony B. wore a black headband and armband for two weeks till his mourning was complete. We were in nosebleed seats and could barely see the stage through the cloud that settled over the auditorium about fifteen rows down from us. I can't remember if Pete smashed his guitar that night or not but Teenage Wasteland was a memorable song and unfortunately, for most of the people there, an accurate one. I plan to do a larger version of G-L-O-R-I-A real soon so stay tuned. PS. No guitars were mangled in the making of this painting.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

River Raft 30x24

One last day of marathon waiting was completed yesterday and...finally an end to it all. After 10 hours of festering in the hot Juarez sun (actually we were inside the consulate building most of the day) we crossed the Rio Grand without swimming and without dodging bullets! So, I guess it was a victory of sorts. The motorcycle cop that tried to turn me back after I cut in the line of cars waiting to cross the border didn't like me though. He actually succeeded in making us go back but not until I could get close enough to let my wife and new kid out and walk the last 200 yards to the processing center, within view of the American flag and the Texas star. On the second pass I got a good look at him. He wore the typical motorcycle-cop attire, white helmet, leather gloves and high biker boots...with spurs! What do you need those for?
I got a lot of nice pics of sunsets and clouds on the recent trips through Texas and New Mexico. Also, the Rio Grande was almost inspiring. I think It's a bit more attractive further north. On the far southeastern side of El Paso, at the Zaragoza bridge border crossing, it's a just a trickle...maybe they use it up in Juarez / El Paso. Or maybe some if it inadvertently flows into the drug tunnels that crisscross the border. On my next trip there I think I'll investigate that theory. For the time being I'm content with trying to normalize my life. Well, as normal as possible that is. Life for an artistical expeditionary is never what one might call normal...Also, I've copyrighted the phrase "Marathon waiting". So, if you want to use that you'll have to pay dearly...just like I have. I hope you enjoy this peaceful river scene. Reminds of my days trapping muskrats on the mighty Mississippi.

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Swift Summer Sky 18x24

This cool new painting reminds me of a good tune. And a good tune reminds me of a good guitar. Last night my niece and nephews were over at the house. I had been away all week in Ciudad Juarez while they were vacationing in Tucson, partying at my house like Speedy Gonzalez and friends with no cat to keep them in check. They're from Sinaloa state in Mexico. Jessica is the oldest and has a degree in music. They're all pretty good musicians. Well, as I was saying, last night the big cat was home and we plugged in all our instruments and danced and played good tunes till the wee hours. Yes, we got some good grooves going and I had my "fat" tele plugged in most of the night. The telecaster is my favorite electric guitar. I've owned a couple. This one is called a "fat" tele because instead of the one, single-coil pickup that the classic telecasters are known for it has a single coil and a humbucker. The extra humbucking pickup with the guitar's five-way switch make for some real nice sounds. I hardly ever use any effects, just run it through a sweet little Fender Deluxe 90 and I'm able to squeeze all the juice out of it I want. Anyway, I wish you could've heard us. We had some serious tex-mex grooves going that would've made you cry...for a variety of reasons. Someday I'll need to tell the stories of my other guitars and my old pianos (I've had 5). They are like old lost loves so it's a little painful to talk about them publicly...but I'm sure it will bring relief and the old dusty memories will have you reaching for a warm beer to cry in.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Clouds Aloft Clouds Afloat 18x24

Looking through a glass see how the other half lives. Remember the Beatles song? I think about it whenever I have to submit to long lines of waiting in third world countries. As an American there is always (almost) the hope of genuine freedom and relief waiting for you somewhere at sometime, afterward. The native is subject to this sort thing all his life. The lines and waiting make me think of I often find myself in places where waiting is the only thing you can do,...and where I found myself a lot during this past week. But long suffering patience is just something you need to's not the real suffering. The ignominy of waiting for endless hours along with crowds of hopeless and penniless supplicants, expecting "help" begged at the hand of some low level bureaucrat and dependent on their whims and humor is humbling indeed. When it comes to having to do this with your own children and knowing that their suffering (and relief) will come from the same capricious source is beyond humbling. Do I recommend experiencing it? Well, yes and no. The thing is, once you've really lived it(or lived through it) you realize there are no "bragging rights", no self congratulatory expressions to garner appreciation or awe or...whatever props a vacationer or short-term "resident" with pockets full of dollars might look for after a bit of hassle at the foreign bank or border crossing. The reality is that's it's just plain hard and so wearying and tedious that you want to forget it ever happened- like a shameful jail sentence or an embarrassing disease. It's no flag to wave that's for sure. But, I believe, there is such thing as gaining a little insight into that glass onion that might, just might make you a better person for it. Anyway, I hope that's the case. Lots and lots of people, beautiful good people, from all around the world suffer at the hands of oppressors like you and I will never know. You see, there's a reason Communism, Marxism, Socialism et al. are bathed in such horrifying terms when their reality comes to light. Whatever system (or lack thereof) that leads to the oppression of people should be resisted at all cost. Living under the rule of oppressors is like having to watch your own family after day. It never ends. This is an evil far greater than most of us imagine. It stymies the intellect and quashes almost all desire and hope for good. Of course there is more to pain and suffering than just having to wait but it is in those long lines, especially where people are sick and have hurting children with them, that you get a glimpse of an existence that's far from noble. A three hour wait at the DMV only to be turned down because you didn't sign in before closing time might give you a little insight...especially if it happened to you everyday! The peaceful painting pictured here is of a west Texas prairie / desert summer sky. I've had to be in Texas lately so there should be more where this came from in the near future. It's being offered on auction for 10 days.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Cd. Juarez update #2

Another in the long line of delays...still here languishing in Ciudad Juarez, home of numerous gun battles between the forces of the dark side and ...the forces of the darker side. We are in the protective bubble of ignorance and God's mercy and care...Plus, we're too busy waiting for fone calls to get into too much trouble. Trini & I both saw a dentist today. Apart from the duct-work breaking through the ceiling and leaking wet stuff on us, we checked out fine. The root canal I thought I was in need of turned out to be nothing a little putting off until "manana" couldn't take care of and neither of us had any cavities. Last night we walked around a big old park. I think it's called Chamizal. They have a bunch of pools and cook-out areas replete with horse trails and little forests of some sort of oak trees and a lot of ash and pine. This is all right across the Rio Grande and El Paso, Texas is within view on the whole north side of the park. There is a skate park too and I obliged Eddie the Sk8ter punk his desire to shred some concrete as well as indulging his dad in a little jog along the parkway. (I'm the dad) Eddie is called Paquito at home, or "Quito" for short. When we're in Mexico we all revert to Spanish...but I try to keep the English flowing. After all, I am a fair hand at speaking English and, well, so are my kids. Eddie, who wants to be formerly know as Paquito, insists on speaking only English and no longer refers to me as papa or papi...just dad. So, I refer to him as the sk8ter punk which he seems to like alright. Also, lest you think I'm losing my red neck, I will always vote against bilingual education. There's nothing worse for immigrants in America (not to mention us natives) than to enculturate and never learn America's language and culture well. The inability to read and write well, as exemplified in the Chicano community in the states, should be proof enough. When immigrants enculturate it seems the most common result is a pooling of the worst of their original culture with the worst of ours. Mostly due, I believe, to the prevalence and promulgation of ignorance all under the guise and title of "preserving" their language and culture. I say, when in Rome...

Here's a nice little summer sky painting. This has great colors...not the kind of stuff found in you average paint-by-numbers kit. It's large and being offered on auction here.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Ciudad Juarez update...

Hello from notorious Ciudad Juarez. We dined on seafood soup last night at a very popular spot here in the city. After a number of interesting encounters with Juarez natives asking directions and getting sundry warnings and eyewitness accounts of assaults and shootings, we settled on the place that looked most likely to harbour the kind of characters that we were warned about. I'll report that we ate our shrimp and soup in peace and save for the over-abundance of squid tentacles acting as if they were bent on escape, everything was fine. In one day we've come to know our way around this pothole-filled place of Gothamesque fame and so far, have met with very little resistance. We have yet to finalize our adoption immigration proceeding....hoping to get an interview today and then, off to the American Consulate General where crowds await entrance into the most desirable place to live on earth. And no, I'm not referring to Floodwood, Minnesota. Though, at this time of year the north land looks pretty attractive to a desert dweller.

We are right next to the Rio Grande and have contemplated just swimming the whole family across...wetbackin' it as they say. But, we have our car here and that's been a good thing. I had almost left it on the US side thinking it would be easy to get taxi rides to where we need to go and mostly for fear of the long line heading back into Gringolandia. The one-way streets are many and hardly marked. It makes for interesting navigation and a lot of very fast acceleration, but we have to stay here a few days longer than planned and drive around a good bit. I left the truck with the fake magnetic sticker bullet holes at home. It would've fit right in here. I'll be sure to remember that next time we're in Juarez.