52 ArtLung posts from June, 2005
June 1st, 2005
Mural of the day…
A Montpelier High School senior prank turned out to be as beautiful as it is clever, leaving school administrators uncertain how to react to an uncommissioned large celestial ceiling mural.
The mural, a painting of swirling clouds, stars and a sun in the sky, was apparently done Tuesday morning from midnight to 4 a.m. in the main lobby, Principal Peter Evans said. School administration is unsure how students entered the building, because there appears there was no forced entry.
Evans said when he returned to school on Tuesday after the holiday weekend, he looked up at the mural on the lobby ceiling and thought it was an art class project. He soon learned that it was the Montpelier High School class of 2005’s senior prank, a tradition that has a more troublesome impact on the school. About 170 ceiling tiles were painted, he said.
“In this position we try to figure out how to deal with a case of vandalism that’s really quite beautiful,” Evans said.
In previous years, the departing class took books off of library shelves, piled snow in front of entrances, and even brought a portable toilet into the school, Evans said. This year’s prank is reflective of the graduating class, Evans said, because they are creative and often challenge school administration to think about what is right and wrong.
Source: The Barre Montpelier Times Argus
I love the idea of doing a beautiful piece of grafitti as a prank.
June 2nd, 2005
So some fellow drove up here to Simi Valley from L.A. and holed up with a gun at the local Wal-Mart — Shooting suspect holed up in Wal-Mart — Shooting spree a shock for California community. The man later committed suicide in the store.
All this happened on Monday/Tuesday, and I totally missed it.
That Wal-Mart is about 4 miles away. And though we avoid it, I have been there twice.
June 2nd, 2005
Last week Devon and I sneaked away and saw an afternoon showing of _Revenge of the Sith_. We were greeted with the startling visage of Meg Vader, pictured here.
Oh, on the right, that’s also Blockerman, sporting his custom-made “Prequels Suck” t-shirt. That man has style.
*Related*: Read Leah’s true story from the other night: Darth Devon at Ralph’s.
June 2nd, 2005
Don’t wait too long to cook your asparagus.
Don’t leave the ladder on the lawn.
Don’t watch _That’s So Raven_.
Don’t call a 7″ bookcase a 10″ bookcase.
Don’t run out of ketchup and soy milk.
Don’t leave the car windows unrolled when the sprinklers are scheduled to turn on.
Don’t sit too hard on the $19.95 beanbag chair.
Don’t go to Wal-Mart.
Don’t tug on Superman’s cape.
Don’t spit into the wind.
Don’t pull the mask off the old Lone Ranger.
Don’t mess around with Jim.
June 3rd, 2005
June 6th, 2005
I climb on through sweet midnight’s window
leave the cold behind
and sit down on your bed and drink red wine
observe me from a distance
I’m ugly and genuine
sing oh sweet patron saint of mine
now your boutique is so unique
I’m glad I stopped to browse
the poetry and colors you arouse
upon your neon divan
mild beyond divine
June 6th, 2005
This weekend, we actually made headway on this. We have a pile of cardboard to recycle. Books on our bookshelves inside thanks to Leah. Oh, and the garage no longer looks like this image from two weeks ago.
A lot of work got done this weekend, of this kind, and others too.
June 6th, 2005
On Saturday the theme seemed to be France. Leah and I awoke and took it easy. We watched some TV, and the first thing we settled on was most of La Femme Nikita, a downbeat French thriller with a downbeat ending. Nikita is a killer in the movie, trying to carry on a relationship. The premise of the film is impossible — junkie trained to be super-assassin — but it is handled with such delicacy it feels plausible and sad. It’s a perfect mating of an art film and an action movie.
Later we had on Forget Paris, which I did not care for very much. I didn’t think much of it the first time either.
I thought a few times about Andrew Phelps, a San Diegan travelling in France now and blogging and taking pictures about it. I also thought about Francophile Tom Bickle whose blog gravitates to France the way mine gravitates to Frank Zappa.
Also on the France tip: the photos associated with the little giant and the elephant are amazing: see Royal de Luxe
at Nantes for photos of the most astoundingly beautiful steampunk marionette artistry ever.
I have been to Paris twice. Once with my family, and once with my ex-wife. The second time I was sick as a dog. Funny to think of it. I wish I had blog entries from that time. Hmm.. actually, I did keep a scrapbook from my first visit. Pretty extensive I think.
I think sometimes about retroactively blogging. That is, taking old scrapbook entries and old calendar entries and putting them online. To what end though? Who is interested in me passing a Physics test in 1990? Or taking care of someone with ARDS in 1994? I have records and data to support these little moments. But what do I remember of them? Is there something to be gained? I am certain many people must have done this and are doing this. I wonder if it would be worthwhile.
Leah and I got to bed late last night. She went directly to sleep tonight. I’m not quite ready, but will also retire early.
June 9th, 2005
I awoke so sleepy this morning. Busy day yesterday.
What do I get in this morning’s email? A wonderful note of _naissance_: the birth of Julien Joseph, to Laura et Joe, two friends and former employers. Where? In France man. France. What was I just saying? It’s a whole French thing happening lately.
Here’s a pic of the little garçon:
Man, that kid is cute. Check also the special appearance of Ceasar, Joe and Laura’s other kid in the photos.
_Muchos felicidades to Joe, Laura, and Julien!_
More at lwilber.com.
June 13th, 2005
KESQ NewsChannel 3 Palm Springs, CA: Rove says Reagan had “a first-rate mind”… I think this explains what the handful of protesters near the Reagan Presidential Library the other day.
Update: And the Moorpark College Democrats were there. Dude. Another local blog. _Looks like it needs some proofreading._
June 14th, 2005
The following story is a big signifier for how stupid airplane security has gotten in the United States.
komo news | ‘This Is Not Right’
DES MOINES – Cecilia Beaman is a 57-year-old grandmother, a principal at Pacific Middle School in Des Moines, and as of Sunday is also a suspected terrorist.
June 15th, 2005
She parries and weaves
She struggles with her faith
She dances and the world is new
She talks and shows her self
She has unlimited potential and reminds me of mine
It seems a bit like poetry, though it’s about someone who I don’t speak to anymore, so it’s defiantly bittersweet. I’m hesitant even to post it, but by posting it here I can get it out of my system and throw it away.
I’m reminded of the scene in _A River Runs Through It_, when the father has the son write something, a story. The boy gives it to the father, the father approves and says “throw it away.” Then the child is released and eagerly scampers off to play.
Writing can be transient, and be safely thrown away.
Though here, the writing is permanent.
Or, at least as permanent as the hosting of artlung.com, and attendant backups.
I’m reminded of William Gibson’s book _Agrippa: A Book of the Dead_, from 1992. It is described here as “Ruminations on memory and family, fragmented. Released as a limited edition encrypted program on floppy, designed to self-destruct when read. Some versions came with self-destructing artwork by Dennis Ashbaugh. Eventually decoded by hackers, versions of the text are available on the net.”
My 22 year old self wanted to buy it. It was far too expensive.
The net wants to remember. The real world, possibly, wants to forget.
I’m reminded of the Love & Rockets song _No New Tale To Tell_, with its’ line _”You cannot go against nature / cause when you do / go against nature / it’s part of nature too”_.
The theme is recursion, catch-22, and entropy this morning.
Anyway. The paper will now be recycled into something else. And time flows onward.
Or maybe the theme is impermanence.
Or maybe the theme is permanence.
Today, the net remembers.
I remember too. Today is the anniversary of my parents, and I remember or misremember that it was either me or my sister, when presented with photos of my parents’ wedding, asked “Where was I?”
Which is a neat question.
Neither of us existed, yet. Not yet conceived. Not yet born.
The trick is that maybe we didn’t exist as we know existence to be, but perhaps in the minds of our parents as an idea of _having children_. Or perhaps in matters of the _soul_ or _spirit_. Or in a materialistic sense, our _matter_ existed somewhere on the earth. Or maybe something else, elusive.
So where were we?
It’s a good question.
June 15th, 2005
Of course, I’m not _that_ Joe Crawford, he’s referring to the NBA referee.
I’m not that Joe Crawford.
June 15th, 2005
Not a word I thought I’d hear from my stepson about a sandwich I made him ’cause he’s out of school early today, but I’m glad to hear it.
And frankly, I made one of like kind and yeah, the word is definitely “scrumptious” for the sandwich.
Turkey, lettuce, trimmings.
Nice surprise that he’s out early.
Okay, back to work.
June 16th, 2005
Not a high-water mark.
Found out the wife of a friend has a terminal brain tumor. 2 or 4 or 7 years to live so they say. Hope for a miracle.
Lost my cool and patience last night.
Power cord to the we-rely-on-it laptop is about to come apart and needs replacement.
Had ants show up in the kitchen after leaving lettuce out for like 20 minutes.
Some unhappiness over something I said that caused hurt feelings to someone I love.
Not a great day, yesterday.
I guess that’s why we get another chance today.
Seriously, yo, damn it, _onward_.
June 17th, 2005
There’s a great Prince song called Housequake. From what the news and online forums say, California is having _oodles_ of earthquake activity. Out here in Simi Valley, to the northwest of Los Angeles we (Leah and I) have not felt a thing so far. Not sure that that means. Are we just situated wrong to feel these things? We’re bloody close to Northridge here, like, just over the hill. I don’t have a good sense of the quake statistics for this area.
The Prince wikipedia article is pretty awesome and thorough.
Yesterday was much better than the day before.
I’m feeling positive-er.
Though this weekend I’m batch’n it (as in Bachelor). Leah will fly out on a trip (family deal) and will be back after the weekend. I wish her well in that endeavour, and I will miss her. Heck, I miss her already and she just left for work!
Rearranged the office yesterday, got the Mac situated with two monitors (The Way God Intended Computers To Be, _ha ha_) which is nice. Still do work primarily on the Windows box.
Yesterday was Alex’s promotion from 8th grade. Kind of wild. I’m thankful not to be in grade school anymore.
Tuesday I start my summer class. It’s a class in Visual Basic. It transfers and is another language I can take. In the fall I really want to take the Data Structures class. That’s something that I’ve been reading about, but to get a “structured” (ha) course in it should be fun.
Thanks for the well wishes about my friend and his wife with the tumor. Expect a miracle.
Misty morning, time to start the day.
I have more deskspace. Maybe I’ll hook up the scanner and do some of that.
Okay, take care, and _onward_.
June 17th, 2005
Batman & Robin are ©DC Comics
(I said I’d be doing some scanning. Given the _Batman Begins_ movie is out right now, this seemed appropriate)
June 17th, 2005
I have no idea what the “last line” text there is. This archaeology of old drawings is kinda kicky. It’s nice to have an office with enough room to get at the scanner.
June 18th, 2005
June 18th, 2005
June 18th, 2005
This is the best idea I’ve seen in a long time:
June 20th, 2005
*1. Total Number of Books You Own*
Man. I’m not even sure. Before we moved I had many hundreds I think. We gave away to Goodwill many of our books. And how do I count graphic novels, of which I have many?
Let’s say I have 200, plus minus. And since I’m married, do I count books that came via Leah? Not sure.
*2. The Last Book(s) I Bought*
_Leaving the Saints_ by Martha Beck. Granted, I bought this for Leah because she asked me last time I was in Borders Bookstore here in Simi Valley.
*3. The Last Book(s) I Read*
I have a habit of grazing over books and not quite finishing them lately. It’s sad to say I can’t remember the last book I read to completion. It might be _Salmon of Doubt_ by Douglas Adams, but I’m not sure.
*4. The Book(s) I Am Currently Reading*
Not Otherwise Specified by Leah Peah is the book that I read in the tub and when I have spare time. It’s good. And I’m pretty objective.
I think I got stuck unfinishing books with Neal Stephenson’s “The Baroque Cycle” books: _Quicksilver_, _The Confusion_, and _The System of the World_. These are long (900 pages or more) books with dense prose. Good, but not exactly “popcorn” literature. It’s frustrating because Stephenson is a three-way tie for first for my favorite author.
*5. Fiction or Non-Fiction?*
*6. The First Book I Read*
I have no idea. Maybe it was _Charlotte’s Web_, which I read with my Mom when I was perhaps 6 years old? I really don’t know though. I’m sure there were children’s books I read when I was much younger. I loved the Richard Scarry books. I liked very much _Green Eggs & Ham_ by Dr. Seuss of course. Which of these I read first I am not sure.
*7. Largest Impact*
This is a tough question.
The first book that pops to mind is _Islands in the Net_ by Bruce Sterling. I first read it in 1988. I had been to a signing at a bookstore in La Jolla. William Gibson was signing _Mona Lisa Overdrive_, and as an aside walked over to the new hardback books and said “This is the guy who really thinks about this stuff,” it’s great. That book was _Islands in the Net_, and the author was Bruce Sterling.
That book is densely packed with ideas about the world that are relevant today. It’s got email addresses in it. It’s got drone aircraft that carry out assasinations. It’s got a ubiquitous internet where people work and play. It’s got scary data havens and offshore banks, postnationalist gangsters, and more. Much of it is dated, I believe there’s still a Soviet Union in it. But pound for pound it’s full of stuff.
*Runner Up:* _The Diamond Age: A Young Lady’s Illustrated Primer_ by Neal Stephenson, _Neuromancer_ by William Gibson, _Snow Crash_ by Neal Stephenson, _The Difference Engine_ by William Gibson and Bruce Sterling. For similar reasons, these are books which got me thinking about the world where we now live, before we lived there.
These are all fiction, and science fiction at that. I suppose the myths of science fiction affect me more than anything else.
In the nonfiction realm the book that has had the largest impact is probably _The Road Less Traveled_ by M. Scott Peck. It’s about maturity and marriage and being in touch with ones’ feelings. It’s a book I enjoyed and thought interesting when I was younger, but I really discovered the wisdom of the book when my marriage fell apart. It was comforting to be presented with the truth “life is hard” — and it gives a mechanism to enjoy that life regardless of that difficulty.
*8. Favorite Scholarly Book(s)*
_You Just Don’t Understand_ by Deborah Tannen is the first one that pops to mind. It’s about the differences in communication styles between men and women. It’s eye-opening and rather mind-blowing.
_The Vanishing Hitchhiker: American Urban Legends and Their Meanings_ by Jan Harold Brunvand is great too. It’s all about these myths Americans carry around and their meanings. Whenever I hear of internet hoaxes I think about this book, because it shows how people take on legends as truth. Urban legends insinuate themselves into the fabric of our belief system.
_The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark_ by Carl Sagan. This is an excellent book warning about our ignorance of science and how it impacts the way life is lived in the modern age.
Oh, and I can’t forget _Philip & Alex’s Guide to Web Publishing_ by Philip Greenspun, where I learned everything I need to know about web publishing. No, actually, _Database-backed websites: The Thinking Person’s Guide to Web Publishing_ is more seminal. Greatly influenced my thinking about the web and why the web works.
*9. Most Read Book*
Probably _Islands in the Net_, or _Philip & Alex’s Guide to Web Publishing_. They’re “kick in the pants” type books. Fire the neurons, get me inspired.
*10. Sexiest Book*
Hmm. Maybe _Vox_ by Nicholson Baker. I was a big fan of his for a while. But I think I outgrew him at some point. It’s an old book, and sexy.
*11. Biggest Disappointments*
*See above:* the books in _The Baroque Cycle_, but only because I’m disappointed in myself for not finishing them… yet.
*12. Five Books that Mean Something to You*
Well, see above, really. I think I was inadvertently answering this question above. If I had to put it to the top five, let’s make it:
1. _Islands in the Net_ by Bruce Sterling
2. _Philip & Alex’s Guide to Web Publishing_ by Philip Greenspun
3. _The Road Less Traveled_ by M. Scott Peck
4. _Neuromancer_ by William Gibson
5. _Snow Crash_ by Neal Stephenson
*13. Consider Yourself Tagged
I inflicted the music meme on a bunch of people, I think I’ll not pass this one along. But anyone listed on my blogroll should consider themselves tagged. But I’d sure not want to peer pressure anyone into this.
This was fun! Thanks Meg!
June 21st, 2005
Pretty nifty how you can plug a flight number and airline name into google and get links to flight status information in pretty-much realtime.
The irony is Leah’s going into work when she arrives, and by the time work is over, and she’s on her way home, I’ll be off to my first class at Moorpark College.
But I’ll see her tonight.
June 21st, 2005
Leah came home (Yay!)
Had my first class. It’s not so much Visual Basic as a Visual Basic.NET course, which is fine by me. .NET is something I’ve managed to learn nothing of, so this should be fun.
The instructor warned us that it’s packing into the summer session of 7 weeks what would normally be a 16 week course. He warned us to be ready, and if that doesn’t sound like something we can do, now’s the time to bug out.
Bring it on baby.
June 22nd, 2005
I remember this one as one of several I made by looking out the window on a train trip from Roanoke (well, actually, from Clifton Forge, Virginia) on my way to Washington, D.C.
My 19 year old self was on his way to see a David Byrne concert in D.C. I had no reservations for a hotel or motel, and I went a day ahead. I was either not crazy about the idea of driving, or I had been banned access to the car because of the two wrecks I had had prior to moving to Virginia. That’s a whole other story.
Anyway, the train ride was really wonderful. I got to read, and to draw, and to think. It was the furthest I’d ever gone anywhere, alone. I had gone to Fullerton and Los Angeles before on my own, but never where I was going on my own, and not staying with anyone. I had no idea at the time, but it was a big transitional moment for me, where I was starting to realize I had some measure of independence.
I arrived with my giant backpack, after sundown. I wandered around Georgetown and found a dinky little motel. The room, I swear, was about 5 feet wide and 20 feet long. I settled in, walked to the Tower Records in Georgetown.
In the years before the internet one could not find good music easily. A Tower Records was like a temple of music. Roanoke did not have much in the way of music stores, and like the character in High Fidelity I was just enough of a jerk to judge people by their music. Well, not entirely, but music taste was a much larger factor in how I judged people back then. I picked up two cassette tapes — the soundtrack to the movie Stormy Weather, and The Sensual World by Kate Bush. And I think I found a by-the-slice pizza joint and went back to the dinky motel for the night.
I remember feeling dislocated, but it was an okay dislocation. Like, I could have done anything, but I really sort of didn’t.
The next day I went to the Library of Congress and took the tour. I was geeking out in Library mode. I had worked at the main Downtown Library in San Diego the Summer before and it was so cool to see the inner workings of the LoC. I think I also went to the National Archives to look at those old, crucial pieces of paper.
That night I saw David Byrne on his Rei Momo tour. It was a good show, but the thing that sticks with me more than anything, and which I think I have never shared with anyone, was at one point Byrne yelled at the crew that they were messing up the lights. It seemed to be so out of step with the clinical, logical Byrne who I had idolized in Talking Heads, and whose collaboration with Brian Eno My Life In The Bush of Ghosts was so inspirational to me.
You kids may not remember, but My Life In The Bush of Ghosts was full of tape loops and was part of the curve of electronic and experimental music that now we pretty much take for granted. Of course then it was all done analog.
Byrne’s outburst was a “these gods have clay feet” moment for me, and while the concert was a lot of fun, 16 years later his meanness to the crew stands out to me. Perhaps because I too have moments like that, and it’s something I have been working on understanding and lessening. Not the outburst itself, but the mental state that leads to it. Sometimes a person has to vent, but usually if you need to vent, somewhere along the line you were not taking care of some other vital aspect of yourself.
I think the show was at Constitution Hall. Somewhere in one of my scrapbooks I think I have a ticket stub.
I think I took the train out the next day. Perhaps I went to another museum the next day, but my memory is hazy. I remember it took a lot of planning to pull this little trip. A trip pulled off without the use of email, the web, mapquest, or cellular phones.
It was a good trip and I’m glad I kept this drawing as an artifact to stimulate my memory of it.
June 22nd, 2005
I know I’ve never asked anything of you. But my stepson, Tony (11 years old) just got the gift of a PSP (Playstation Portable, and if I have to tell you that I don’t think you can help me) for his birthday from his bioDad.
Said bioDad is having a hard time finding anything but “mature” games for the PSP.
Any ideas for kid-friendly games for the PSP? Up to “T for Teens” would be awesome. “M for Mature” is a no-no for him at this point.
Any other ideas for cool stuff for the PSP are welcome too. I know it can do more than just games, no?
Suggestions of games or trustworthy sites to do research on would be most welcome. I’m videogame illiterate. Though at the laundromat the other night I got the high score on Ms. Pac Man.
Wow that makes me feel old. Ms. Pac Man was pretty cool TWENTY-FIVE years ago.
June 22nd, 2005
Anyone else use Rojo to read and find RSS feeds from friends?
I just joined up. Looks interesting.
June 22nd, 2005
With colored pencil.
He’s got a nice, circumspect look to him.
I also love the hair.
June 23rd, 2005
The hair is good. I liked doing drawings of girls back then. They all seemed to have the same or similar hair. Cropped close or slicked back on the sides, with a wild mane on top. Quick strokes in pen that were made expressively and fast. No editing. No pencil. I hated pencils back then. Get it right the first time. Mistake? Do it again.
Hands, not so much. Those hands are in their pockets not just because she’s playing it cool and standoffish, but because drawing the hands of a pretty girl was difficult.
June 23rd, 2005
June 23rd, 2005
Another one of a girl. Again, slightly punky hair.
I like the cross-hatching on the sweater.
Funny that I never know, as I look through old drawings, what will catch my eye to post. I think I’m trying to post things that look “finished” somehow.
Have you noticed all these “drawings” are in pen? Yes, most were done with a Micron Pigma or similar fine/very fine black felt pens with sharp points.
I feel like I “discovered” the Micron Pigma in Little Tokyo (in downtown Los Angeles) in one of the small shops there. It was relatively cheap, made a great line, and seemed so exotic. Now they’re much easier to find, thankfully.
I remember being obsessed with finding the right pen back then. Like, the key to being a good artist or cartoonist was to get the right pen.
A naive view.
Do what you can with what you have.
June 23rd, 2005
An experiment in watercolor.
Color stands out in my notebooks because most of what I’ve ever made has been with pen and only pen.
June 24th, 2005
1982. I was attending school at Christ The King Church in Gretna, Louisiana. My nickname was “Crawdaddy” among the other kids. If you live in Louisiana and your last name is Crawford, you’re pretty much gonna get called Crawdad, Crawfish, or Crawdaddy. These words are what they call Crayfish.
Gretna is just outside Louisiana, just on the other side of the Mississippi River. Flat, green. Canals all around. When I have read more about how New Orleans works, and how swampy it was, and how tenuous a city it is, I’m really impressed. I mean, they can’t bury their dead in cemeteries there, they have to have above-ground mauseleums — that’s how high the water table is. It’s an alien, French/Not-Quite-French place.
I remember going back in 2000, I spoke on the topic of web accessibility at CNet Builder Live. I had a great time returning to the city. I listened to Jazz at Preservation Hall in the French Quarter. I hung out with Kynn, ate Red Beans & Rice a few times. It was a good time. New Orleans is a really wonderful tourist destination, in part because you can skim the surface of it and there’s so much to see. I suppose it’s telling that there’s a New Orleans Square at Disneyland.
I remember Mardi Gras. I remember getting lost at Mardis Gras. We had come over from Gretna to watch Parades. Maybe Bacchus or one of the other Crewes. We came over the bridge, and we were not really nearby home. I got lost. Apparently my parents were frantic, and trying to get the National Guardsmen to find me. Or were they Marines? Anyway, they were huge men in uniform.
Me? I watched the parade. I didn’t worry too much about finding my parents. I wonder if I felt I didn’t need to? Probably I knew that things would be fine, even if the streets were packed with thousands of people. Eventually the parade would end and I’d find my parents.
Now, to those of you wondering about the parades, and how much debauchery there is. Well, when I was in New Orleans I went to the non-risqué parades, which was the majority. For those of you thinking the parades at Mardi Gras are all “Show Us Your Tits”, well, that wasn’t my experience. That stuff all happens down in the French Quarter, and I was not exposed to it.
For me it was about the beads, I think that’s what it is for all the kids. Beads beads beads. Up until three weeks ago I still had some Mardi Gras Beads. There’s not much special about them, they’re cheap costume jewelry. But the point is they get thrown down and you have to catch them and snatch them. Imagine that a baseball field was nothing but fly balls, and everyone has a mitt. That’s what watching a parade was like for me as a 12-year old. It’s a competition to get the most beads, and of course doubloons. They’re coins, cheap, I think made from aluminum, inscribed with the name of the crewe, and/or the theme of the parade. Oh, and different parade members will throw out cups and other novelties. I remember being thrown a plastic 7″ single. Someone promoting their music via parade droppings. Oh, you’re wondering why I don’t have the beads anymore? Well, three (or was it four?) weeks ago Leah and I had a garage sale and I sold off my last bag of beads. We needed the dough, and the garage space, and I thought they might sell. A woman bought them for her small daughter. Perfect use for these things that had been sitting in various boxes and ziplock bags for 24 years.
Twenty-four years ago I was 12 years old and sitting in Mr. Fuchs (yes, as kids we had fun with his name, very dangerous to make puns or mispronounce a name like “Fuchs”) English class and I drew the Robot Fighter. The Robot Fighter is armed, and the giant robot attacking him is huge, and heavily, ridiculously armed. The giant robot has guns in its kneecaps, for goodness sake. I suppose the Robot Fighter represented me. We lived in New Orleans for two years. And I suppose even though my childhood was happy, I also endured a lot of stresses, growing up on the move. I would not in any way take back my childhood, but I remember that I was kind of an alien kid, and it took skills on my part to fit in, to find a place. I suppose it was there that I started to take on the aspect of the nerd or geek. I would draw. I was way into Star Wars. I remember finding a Death Star playset in the trash. IN THE TRASH! How could someone do that? Sure, it seemed to be covered in honey or tree sap or something, but I found it, and I cleaned it, and I kept it. Something like that cannot be put to waste!
I remember a few kids I really thought were cool. Greg Griffin, “Booger” Becker, Ritchie Gautreaux. I wonder if they’ll google this someday and find themselves. Pat Keating collected stickers, smelly stickers I think. You would scratch them and they smelled, and he had a notebook devoted to this hobby. And for a while we played marbles and everyone had to try and have the best marbles ever.
And I remember stealing once. Once. I pilfered a Halloween Mask from the drugstore on the way to school. I think I may have bought a baby ruth candy bar as a cover. I must’ve slipped it into my jacket or something. Even 24 years later, I’m ashamed. I’m happy to say I never made stealing a part of my character. I think I was scared by how easy it was to do. Like, shouldn’t there be security? Well in my teens I took an ashtray from Del Taco. I still have the ashtray — it’s really good for holding change. I think I used it once to actually let someone smoke. And it’s glass, so it cleans up real nice so I don’t actually have to have anything smoky lingering in it.
I wonder why the Robot Fighter doesn’t negotiate with the bad robot. I guess I could not see compromise as a way to be for the Robot Fighter. Empathy is not something they build-in from the Robot Factory. Heck, everyone knows that, from Terminator 2. Robot Fighters have to learn things along the way though: to stay alive, fight evil, be happy and carry out their missions. That’s the key, to know when to lower your defenses and risk your self to be a part of the world.
June 24th, 2005
Created during a respiratory therapy class.
I took a lot of notes, and occasionally I would doodle non-respiratory things.
I love the name “Tim” for a dog.
June 24th, 2005
When I was 7 years old I really liked comic book characters and would draw them.
When I am 35 years old, I talk about Ra’s Al Ghul and Anakin as exemplars of the idea that the end justifies the means with my stepsons. Questioning the wisdom of this outlook, of course.
Comic books are modern myths, and they instruct and entertain.
These avatars and archetypes are a part of how I view the world at a level that even I probably do not fully appreciate.
June 24th, 2005
June 25th, 2005
During High School my family had a pad of paper next to our phone. It had little squares of flimsy construction paper. They were perfect little comic panels.
June 25th, 2005
“Dog No Where” reminds me of “Goodbye Che.”
There’s definitely something about that _sadness_, that sense of loss, that I like. It’s probably why sometimes I like to listen to Mazzy Star and Morrissey.
June 25th, 2005
For a period after graduating from High School I was doing a lot of watercolor.
I never was much for sword and sorcery stuff. Dragons and faeries and guys in armor. I never got into Lord of the Rings or The Hobbit or any of that stuff. But I loved my comics and science fiction. The fantasy stuff was just not realistic.
The exception was probably Matt Wagner’s Mage series, which I had discovered when I was in driving school, which would have been 1986 or so. I really learned to appreciate the Arthurian Mythology in that. Mage was a reimagining of Arthur’s tale in a modern venue. I loved it.
This watercolor, really just a vignette, stands out because it is in a fantasy vein. I even (gasp) took the time to do a drawing in pencil before laying down color.
I suppose it’s similar to Robot Fighter, 1982 in that it’s a little guy up against a big guy. Something about the underdog definitely appeals to me. Always root for the underdog.
I suppose that underdog is me.
June 26th, 2005
The garage may be much cleaner than it was, but there’s still unsorted stuff out there.
This is from a small sketchbook we took with us to Utah this Christmastime.
Several members of Leah’s family made drawings with the watercolor pencils, this is one of mine. Not terrific, but not bad either.
Night before last I dreamt we lived on the sea.
I’m still a little groggy this morning.
I think it’ll be a good day.
June 27th, 2005
Funny how angry and boxed in I felt in 1989. This communicates frustration.
Thankfully, much has changed.
June 27th, 2005
A tree I created with brush and ink and water, 1990.
It’s organic, yet a bit mechanical as well.
Leah uses a straw to blow the ink this way and that way. I think I tilted the paper to get some of the “draining” effect.
June 27th, 2005
A cartoony abstract.
There’s a dialogue between the two men — the abstract man front and center, and the seemingly skeptical man on the right hand side.
I was decidedly ambivalent about abstraction in my own work. It was enjoyable, but I wasn’t quite sure it was _relevant_ in any way to anything I was doing.
I love abstraction now, Leah‘s work is abstract, for example. Then, as now, I admire Pollock and Miró as well. That said, I also love some powerful realism as in Alex Grey, and of course the painters of the Renaissance.
The tension between these tastes is satisfied in my enjoyment of Salvador Dali, who was abstract, realistic, and surreal, in addition to having a ravenous taste for fame and media presentation.
What was I talking about? Oh, art.
That must be why I digressed.
June 27th, 2005
Some people I share the initials “J.C” with. I had this on paper from over 10 years ago. I’m throwing out the list, and blogging it:
- Jack Cade
- Jack Cole
- Jacques-Yves Cousteau
- James Chadwick
- James Cook
- James Crichton
- James Cabell
- Jesus Christ
- John Cabot
- John Calvin
- John Carver
- John Cheever
- John Colet
- John Chapman aka “Johnny Appleseed”
- Johnny Cochran
- Joseph Cannon
- Joseph Conrad
- Julius Ceasar
*And two Cee-Jays:*
More about the Jaycees aka “United States Junior Chamber”
This is an utterly useless post. I hope you enjoyed it.
June 27th, 2005
June 28th, 2005
In 1997, I was still working as a Respiratory Therapist. I was working at a hospital in downtown Los Angeles.
So this is an image of a man I was going to be giving a treatment to.
Instead, I discovered the man was not breathing, and was pulseless. He was dead.
I don’t know how long he was dead, but I called a code blue, the code team assembled and tried to revive him, and after we had done those mechanical procedures, he was declared dead and we moved on.
It was not a busy night, so I cleaned up the oxygen equipment and resuscitation bags and miscellaneous respiratory therapy gear. The nurses removed his IV lines and miscellaneous room items. They assembled his personal items for retrieval by next-of-kin.
I took two minutes and drew this dead man on the back of my assignment sheet. A few quick strokes of the pen on a laser printout capturing the last image made of a man.
It’s strange to me to see this drawing, because it takes my mind back to the moment when I found him, and calling the code, and working on him, “breathing” for him.
My work no longer involves coming across dead men in the night, or breathing for them, or comforting the sick.
Sometimes I miss that work, but then sometimes I don’t, either.
It’s a tricky thing to work with death and dying on a day-to-day basis. It’s invigorating, yet draining.
I may not ever work in respiratory therapy ever again, but there is wiring in my brain for doing that job that won’t go away: _call the code, check pulse, check respirations, secure the airway, ventilate, begin chest compressions, prepare the chest for shock, shock at 200 joules, check for a pulse…_
The wiring may have cobwebs on it, but it’s still there. Some archetypal version of “Clinician Joe” hidden in there.
When I started scanning these drawings I had no idea where it might take me. I certainly never expected to find drawings from work, but the truth is I think I have lots of little drawings from when I worked at the hospital.
So we’ll see where they take me.
June 28th, 2005
Another invented character. I like him, but he really does not have much of a personality beyond looking lanky and bemused.
Great name though.
June 28th, 2005
From my journals. An illustration of a wooden fish I bought on the beach at Estero, in Baja California.
We were staying at the cheap campground on the resort, waverunning and such. I haggled and got what seemed like a good price. I think I gave it away as a gift, but I honestly can’t remember.
Estero Beach now has a website: www.hotelesterobeach.com — yeah, we stayed in the RV campground. I’d stay there again. It was a good time. I went there with my aunt, my uncle, and my sister.
This was the time when I was the most scared of dying. I got thrown off the waverunner in heavy surf and could not get back on. I was a few hundred yards offshore, the surf was high, and I could not see anyone, onshore or offshore. Utterly alone, awkward, and tired, I struggled for quite a while, thinking I was doomed to die.
Well, I didn’t die, and the waverunning was pretty awesome.
June 29th, 2005
When I was a sophomore in high school I had a friend named Jason Erwin. He was an oddball, computer nerd, and geek. I distinctly remember being driven to see _The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai_ with him. He was cool.
I don’t remember what the debt was, but in return for _some_ debt from him I got a copy of the book _Neuromancer_, by William Gibson. This would’ve been 1983 or 1984.
Whatever the original debt was, it was worth it. The paperback blew me away. It was this strange world, it was a “dystopia,” a word which I didn’t yet know. It had this “net,” this “cyberspace,” that was completely ubiquitous. It felt like the future.
I wanted to sign up for a cranial jack. I wanted to wear leather and have implanted memories, to “jack” into cyberspace and experience the combined space that constituted the collected sum of the computing space from the whole human system.
It’s strange that I wanted this. The characters in _Neuromancer_ are corrupt, venal, unlikable. I suppose Molly Millions and Case are likable, but they are also rather pathetic. Case is a junkie who is forced to give up drugs chemically, and gets his high simply by making “runs,” basically hacking jobs, on the net. And Molly is an assassin for hire.
I suppose The Dixie Flatline is the most likable “person” we meet, although he himself is an old hacker whose mind was imprinted into a box. Dixie is actually dead, and what we know of him is just the remnants of his mind that were flash loaded into a ROM. Dixie is helpful and wise, but his one ambition is that at the end of the gig, that someone wipe his memory. He’s not alive, but he wants to commit suicide.
I suppose Wintermute is a likable, the deux ex machina, an A.I. that has gotten smarter and at the end is a Vingean Singularity, an intelligence, a consciousness, beyond human understanding. Wintermute becomes a god.
So if it’s not the characters, what was it that compelled me about this book? I had always enjoyed science fiction, probably since Star Wars. I also vaguely remember conversations with a roommate, a friend of my dad’s, who had science fiction, and who once explained the importance of the difference between “SF” and “Sci Fi.” I was 8 or 9 years old and it made an impression.
The question remains, why was I fascinated by _Neuromancer_, and by extension, cyberpunk as a genre? Why did _Blade Runner_ and _Snow Crash_ and _Islands in the Net_ make such an impression on me?
I don’t have an easy answer.
One possibility is that it was a reaction to the postnuclear scenarios popular at the time. _Mad Max_ and _The Road Warrior_ were dystopias too, but they were ones where human beings managed to royally screw up the planet with nuclear weapons. It’s hard to remember, but I always assumed that before the end of the 20th Century, we’d have a nuclear weapon used in anger. I mean, we took it for granted that we’d get blown up. Or, if not blown up, we’d have to be running around in dune buggies with shotguns struggling for gasoline.
Cyberpunk was a future in which, well, we’re _there_, somehow. In 1989 I recorded a William Gibson interview on Fresh Air, and as he says:
“Well that’s a very optimistic little piece of trickery on my part because I wanted to be able to write about a future, and I wanted to be able to say ‘Well it’s there.’ So I posited as a piece of background information one very, very brief nuclear exchange that results in the whole world saying ‘Oh no we’ve got to get rid of these things’ and then it’s, you have a future. But we should be so lucky, probably.”
How’s that for optimistic? At the time, and heck, even now, this feels plausible. A nuke or dozen get used, people say “This technology sucks! We’d rather use economic/conventional/chemical/biological war. Anything but these stupid Chernobyl radioactive things!” Then, as Gibson says, you have a future.
And I definitely wanted a future. I had no idea what shape it would take, but I wanted one.
Anyway, so that’s how I end up with a drawing of a guy with wild hair, a computer input jack on the side of his neck, and a biker jacket.
Possibly this description, also from the Terry Gross interview, influenced me:
*TG:* “Well you’re books have added a word to the language in a way you’re books have been named `cyberpunk,’ what do you think of that new word?”
*WG:* “Well, that’s one I could’ve done without but that’s a very mysterious word, we’re still trying to find out who introduced it. It definitely wasn’t one of the participants in this alleged literary movement, or phenomena or whatever it is. But I suppose in a way, it’s reasonably descriptive, although I don’t know what people would think of it when they see it, I mean if I didn’t know what it was supposed to mean, I would think it would mean some guy in a mohawk, it’s like modems and mohawks, or something. A guy with a mohawk and a mac. A mac II, and though, I don’t know, that wasn’t what I had in mind I just thought, when I started out doing this stuff I thought I was trying to do what I thought of as being a slightly hipper kind of science fiction.”
And that’s all I have to say about that.
June 29th, 2005
This was a study for a possible Christmas card I was going to make. A caricature of our house in Roanoke while it was snowing. Very quick, very rough.
This is the kind of drawing I really enjoy doing.
June 30th, 2005
So I got the gift of a flickr pro account from Steve Agalloco. This post is the first of many where I take advantage of the 2 Giga with a “G,” Gigabyte per month upload limit. Profuse thanks Steve, for this wondrous gift!
As my first post using this, here’s an image that really is not done justice by my self-imposed 400 pixels wide image dimensions limit. If you click over, you can see there’s a button that says “all sizes” so you can see it at much higher resolution.
So in 1988 I was taking a Design class at San Diego Mesa College. I was kind of a lost soul at that point, educationally and professionally. See, I didn’t apply to any colleges. Not that I could not have been admitted to colleges, just, well, I thought somehow I could put it off. I think I was probably giving the impression of a kid who had some college plans… like maybe Art Center, maybe Pepperdine, maybe SDSU, maybe UCSD — but the reality was that I had read about colleges and I just thought… what’s the point?
Not that I didn’t have ambitions, I think I did. I wanted to be an artist or perhaps work in advertising or something. But really, I was aimless and naive about my future. Somehow, eventually, it all worked out more or less. I mean, 19 years on it all seems to have worked out: several moves, an associate degree, some medical licenses, two careers, a dozen jobs, the high of the dot com boom, the internet, a marriage, a divorce, the crash of the dot com boom, a new partner, another move, and kids.
I’m a much happier and more self-aware person than these previous versions of myself. This is the lesson of my life. Go towards good things, and be fearless in examining yourself, even the distasteful parts.
But I digress.
So this design class was kind of interesting. I was pretty cocky. I had been doing design for what felt like a long time. I had made flyers for friends and family for years. I thought I knew a lot. This quality does not make for a good student. If you think you know more than your teacher, you doom yourself to not really learning very much from your teacher. This is unfortunate. The the instructor being a hyperactive, hippie slash new-agey lady with these big square glasses. Her knowledge of design history and art history was weak. There were a few times I and others would correct her on some issues. In hindsight I think I was kind of a jerk about it.
The through line of this story is “Joe did not listen, and so Joe did not do well.” I did mediocre on my projects for this class. I did shoddy work.
It’s so strange to think now, that this design class was all analog. X-acto knives, T-squares, frisket, pen and pencil and paper. Nary a computer, or even a mention of computers. This was 1988, and the desktop publishing revolution was beginning. I had been exposed to Macintosh computers while working at Citizen’s Western Bank, but it was really a toy, not used to do serious work. And quality printing from a computer was really an oddity.
One could get a color copy made, but it was expensive. I remember spending $8 for a single color copy of an 8-1/2” by 11” sheet of paper, and the quality was not very good.
I digress again.
It’s no fun to look at the laziness and hubris of my eighteen year-old self. I suppose some of those qualities stay with me. I like to think I have learned about those tendencies and learned to take them head on.
Life’s a learning process.
I got a C in that design class.
But I think I learned a lot from it. Not about design, but about myself.
Hindsight is great, isn’t it?
Oh, the drawing? You’re wondering perhaps about the drawing itself? Well, it’s a caricature and a portrait. As I look at it, I think, yes, that’s exactly what the guy looked like. And yet it’s subtly exaggerated too. I love the little monologue on the side there — “but the artist may overcome this.” And the way I sign it, with my middle name “Art” — I had a giant 18-year-old head of ego in there.
I used to draw a lot in that class. I always had a giant notebook, really a large size sketchbook, that I took notes in. I took great notes, which is odd because I didn’t care for the class. I was always a good note-taker. But the ego and the sloth really got the best of me.
June 30th, 2005
Check San Diego Blog for some news about some interesting work I did porting the geodata of the San Diego Bloggers sites into maps powered by Google Maps API and Yahoo!Maps API.