Archive for the ‘Employment’ Category

To Learn The Science Of Naming In Today's World Is Vicious

11 Nov


Art and Science


I saw the seven words, then it finally registered with all the synchronicity of a lighted odometer turning over from all nines to all zeroes. This was it! The riddle had been solved! In ill-considered black and white here before me, written three days earlier, on my mother’s 48th birthday was the culminating stroke of this freaky name-change operation thing I had charted for months with soft sell handshakes and strange grimaces to any new person who happened to meet me.

And I took the name Gabriel Thy...

The Howell House was clean and active, even upscale I suppose one could say, secure and nearly two-thirds geriatric. My mother lived four floors above me up on the sixth floor of the 18-story building. She was on staff as the senior citizens coordinator and bookkeeper, and I occasionally helped her out with some of the more confined and colorful patrons doing odd chores for them. I was anxious to tell her of my discovery, although I could hardly expect her to understand the impact this fresh twig of myth and reality would have on me, Richard, the eldest of her seven children. It was her birthday and we were to have dinner together. I was bursting with excitement but I was understandably challenged by a mother's sense of her own naming rights—to bring the gift of reason to the dinner table that night.

How would my family, particularly my mother react to this news, a most suspicious tale ringing with tremendous religious overtones, or as others might prefer, smacking of superstitious or worse, some kind of dangerous demonic affiliations? Of course many people have changed their names with no other purposes other than enhancing one’s business, hiding an ethnicity, blending in, or sheer simplicity in mind.
As it was written on the page, the name—Gabriel Thy—was not given but was taken. This seemingly minor detail concerned me for a quite a while, not in a truly bothersome way, but as a nuisance, like a flapping scarecrow in a field of errors. Having taken this name was it no longer a gift? But when someone gives you a nickel, don’t you take it and perhaps slip it into your own pocket? Such were the subtleties of bible and literary scholarship, and so it was with my own problematic gestures.

I was thoroughly bewildered. The name was certainly an odd one, a very special one. I liked it, approved of it, but without a doubt it certainly had a very pretentious ring to it. I was not at all certain I in good faith could take it. And what would I do with it? The cornpone religiosity, the in-your-face God-component of the now prophetic name-change operation, self-fulfilling and otherwise, was obvious to me. But I was sure others would laugh me right off the sidewalk. What about those who already knew me as RSN—a right interesting vintage acronym already, particularly when pronounced Risen or risin as in...Christ is risen! How would my family, particularly my mother react to this news, a most suspicious tale ringing with tremendous religious overtones, or as others might prefer, smacking of superstitious or worse, some kind of dangerous demonic affiliations? Of course many people have changed their names with no other purposes other than enhancing one's business, hiding an ethnicity, blending in, or sheer simplicity in mind.

Having finished with ecclesiastical literature, about this time I had also finished reading, was presently reading, or would very soon be reading the herded vapors of Gide, Camus, Sartre, Kierkegaard, Miller, Darwin, Kerouac, Nietzsche, Castaneda, and Douglas R. Hofstadter, author of Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid, A Metaphorical Fugue on Minds and Machines in the Spirit of Lewis Carroll, the latter, a landmark ransom for me, among others. But I would not wholly give up the ghost. I clung to every shred of hope massaging my investigations that God would clear me for landing his understanding, that each and every one of the moderns were wrong in their denial of deity, dead wrong in their intemperance in disparaging the creative power from without, even as they worshipped the creative power within whether it be DNA or environmental advantages. Time and time again I found the writers complaining not against Christ but rather against the wretched incarnations of the church, its scavengerlike methods poisoning their minds against all of the burlier forms of theology and the God of Abraham, Issac, and Jesus of Nazareth. Still I persisted just as I persist today.

And by no stretch of time or imagination was this an easy task to discharge, seeing as I knew almost no women at the time and had little coin with which to persuade others that this was on the level, was no prank, no plot to appear artistic and sublime, nor merely a passing fancy. Yes neighbor, I was feeling tragically symbolic, alone but for the voice of God resounding in my head, just as intricately wrought analysis of my daily experiences had led me to belief.
I don’t remember my mother’s initial reactions to my telling the tale of the harbinger bringing forth her son a new name. Not then, not there. She in all likelihood, since I don’t specifically remember her response, sighed and said something along the lines of, “That’s interesting, son,” while thinking to herself that this was just a passing artistic phase or something or another and to follow form she’d share no words either of encouragement or of any personal horror. She’d always thought of herself as somewhat of a mystic, but was not easily persuaded that any such thing would rub off onto her children. So I use the words "not then, not there" simply because there was no mindjarring quarrel I recall from that Sunday night, and shortly thereafter, speaking both epistemologically and chronologically, things begin to shift into place with great importance.

The name was mine to take. That much was had been chanced upon, had been written, had arrived in a happy circumstance. There was no doubt in my mind that this was living theatre, that I had been given an emblazoned word of prophecy in Corpus Christi, and it was fulfilled here in Atlanta because I had stayed the course. But I also intuited that there were certain terms involved, certain measures and quotas to be filled, certain spiritual hoops to be jumped through in order to discern whether or not this was this real McCoy. Because it was my understanding that I’d come to this earth through the wondrous body of a woman, was named by that same woman, had bullishly married and was now irreparably separated from another woman once twice my age, it was preserved in my mind and reinforced by circular logic that if this name change was truly from God, my doubts could only be dispelled if endorsed by a woman. And by no stretch of time or imagination was this an easy task to discharge, seeing as I knew almost no women at the time and had little coin with which to persuade others that this was on the level, was no prank, no plot to appear artistic and sublime, nor merely a passing fancy. Yes neighbor, I was feeling tragically symbolic, alone but for the voice of God resounding in my head, just as intricately wrought analysis of my daily experiences had led me to belief.

I was working three hours a day downtown delivering pizzas and sandwiches on foot to the downtown Atlanta highrise luncheon crowd. I saw many faces and shared a quick grin or a few words of friendly chat, but my social importance was next to nothing. When I had a few dollars to spare I’d occasionally dip into a rather eclectic pub down Peachtree Street a few blocks from the Howell House for a pitcher of cheap suds, but knew only a few guys, the bar maid, and maybe one woman superficially at best. The happy hour crowd was always buzzing with a spattering of high profile cultural scooters including the nucleus I later grew to appreciate individually as an art curator, a couple of attorneys, an old hippie or two, a librarian, a couple of salesmen, a science fiction aficionado, a banker, a copywriter, an amateur actress, a faux cubist painter, a few struggling musicians, a chess champion, and a CDC technician.

The nihilistic era of the rude nickname had arrived in spades, the new epithet of the unsung, pacing the steamy streets and charlatanic nightclubs with the vengeance of a caged wolf, with little respect for anything, hardly sparing themselves. Visceral yearnings in youth were reshaping a new generation’s perspective on love and hatred, and the mad rush for mostly vulgar monikers had already begun in earnest.
This circle of soon to be regulars was still small at the time of the White Crow writing. All of them knew me as Richard, slightly weird and chalked up with an armload of library books. Keep in mind of course that when I introduced myself to someone, that was the last mention of a name-change operation, the line was dead until the next stranger was introduced. I didn’t go around like some enfilading riflemouth spraying people with some nonsense line in search of attention. In fact I was often quite self-conscious when introducing myself. Within a few days (three, four, five?) however I was to meet a young woman four or five years older than me named Kathleen Baker, a woman whose more delicate features were overshadowed by the liberal contours of her body. She weighed over 300 pounds, sang classical music with the voice of a monk, and immediately seemed to enjoy the nimble dispatches my wit invested among the afternoon mélange. Thinking again as I write this, perhaps I hadn’t told my mother of the Gabriel Thy transmogrification after all, not then that night of her birthday, for whatever reasons I now forget, because with each ascendant memory, in fact, as I am thinking about this concentratedly for the first time in many years, it seems that Kathleen Baker’s were the very first ears to hear the entire mess of fish from beginning to end, sans of course, the still confidential part about needing a woman to validate the transition (part of the test is to not publicly reveal all the details but to allow the truth to unfold according to God’s will and not mine), and that she energetically embraced the novelty of what she was hearing and resolved at that very first meeting to call me Gabriel, Gabriel Thy, enough said. And so in that unorchestrated off the cuff fashion this woman became the first person to know me only as Gabriel Thy, not Richard Nix.

Yes, that was it. She listened to my poem and she approved. Mother would learn only later, and now I recall another event which I shall get to shortly. That afternoon at the Stein tavern I did however note my apprehension at appearing far too pretentious for these cynical hobbyhorse times by dubbing myself Gabriel Thy. I was a nothing, a fledgling writer, a seeker after an illusive and much debated truth, caught within the mechanical web of all breeds and conjugation of fact and fantasy, and yet despite my busy faith and rote exhilaration, I could not call myself a christian because quite frankly I couldn't fathom exactly what the word meant anymore, if indeed I ever did. There were so many conflicting versions of the title that I just preferred to leave it alone, to let the scavengers pick the bones clean if need be.

Little did I know at the time that even as I in all seriousness was changing my name thousands of others were performing a similar operation. The nihilistic era of the rude nickname had arrived in spades, the new epithet of the unsung, pacing the steamy streets and charlatanic nightclubs with the vengeance of a caged wolf, with little respect for anything, hardly sparing themselves. Visceral yearnings in youth were reshaping a new generation’s perspective on love and hatred, and the mad rush for mostly vulgar monikers had already begun in earnest.

Names like Johnny Rotten and Sid Vicious became the norming curve for acceptance into this thriving cult of nothingness. My own name mutation, void of applause or record deals, shock value or normalcy, was a serious matter, referencing everything I earnestly believed about the nature and signature of the Creator, flagging for all to observe, his will for me and mankind. To understand this name would take time for me as I experienced what surely would be a new direction in destiny. The easy part was over. Onto the Directed Path of God’s dotted line I was willing to sign, but where, and how?

My anxiety with these problematic questions did not evaporate with the introduction to Kathleen. I still begged in my spirit for more validation.

Everyone Needs To Think, So Why Snip Off

27 May


Body of Workers


On 27 May 2010, at 09:33, Billy Asperger wrote:

I follow you regarding the craps hinted in the previous message. It's true that "you can lead todays lefties around by their dreadlock hair-extensions with the smallest tug". But at the same time we easily can admit that most of the people (doesn't matter whether they are lefties or whatever) really don't give a damn about the revolution a bunch of US had been theorizing (here or there).

I think what disconcerts me about the statement above is that it seems to take for granted a division between those who can "theorize" and the working class. If you are feeling a gap it isn't an intelligence gap it's a class gap; it's not about support for radical change it's over trust and sincerity in those who claim to know better what is good and bad and their good intentions to realize it. It's not because ordinary people do not or can not understand the workings and evils of the system it's because they know them much better: "intellectuals" more than often lack real knowledge of just what it is like to be born into trapped, exploited, cheated and abused neighbourhoods.

I'm working class and all the people I work with are working class (in fact at the moment every last one of them is black working class) and I can tell you a clear and certain fact—that I have heard more genuine insight, shrewdness and sincerity from the mouths of common people than from the pens of middle class and academic "vanguards of the working class", or from the white-people-with-dreadlocks brigade who are rooted nowhere and ultimately committed to nothing as a result.

But there is nothing wrong or pointless about "theorizing", though it's a word I do not find helpful. Discussion ought to take place to try and deepen understanding of how everything works. Those who can do it should do it—and take a clearer perception of conditions back to the communities in which they live and work. Everyone needs to think, so why snip off the activity of thinking, call it theorizing and divorce it ideologically and socially from its application in daily life?

I need to add though that not a lot of what takes place on lists like this, or seminars in colleges or in all the other supposedly intellectual theatres where this "theorization" is supposedly taking anything of the kind. On the contrary it seems to be a battleground where people hone and refine the very things they claim to be against; find new excuses to obscure the truth and divert others from coalescing around it. It is class war over the spectacle. It would be nice to have genuine discussion once in a while but in the absence of true common roots or listserv mediation it isn't very common.

Asperger: "People are enchanted and mesmerized by "the apparent" of the spectacle and that fucking pseudo(?) "objectivity" is good and is enough from their point of view. They feel comfortable being trapped inside the great show of appealing-consuming-producing-exploiting and so on. The spectacular society is reassuring for their simple and mechanical minds."

I can't begin to tell you just how condescending and spectacular a cliché that is. Instead I'll say something potentially more interesting. Human existence is existential: there must be something to fill the void and to structure everyday life, and there must be an ideological framework, a worldview, only within which all words, phenomena, values and beliefs acquire a place and a meaning and a value. Worldview, and all the habits that stream forth from it, is as fundamental and material a necessity as food water and air. It's the way we are made.
Therefore ultimately there is no complete distinction possible between what is spectacle and what is situation; or what is recuperation and what is detournement and so on. There are only inherited models from which to construct models. Very little truth, if any, is ahistorical; all ideas, appearances, meanings and values must exist in a perpetual war over ideas, appearances, meanings and values.

What is eternal is the wisdom of good conduct—of seeing and revealing the truth in all its partiality, of understanding the common interest of fairness and distributing needs and opportunities with equity. What is eternal also seems to be that which I call "original sin" -- the tendency to imitate and repeat evils and errors, to reiterate imperfect worlds from imperfect worlds; bad habits of mind and behaviour that not having been perceived for what they are cannot be rooted out: "karma". Thus life is not really composed of true and false images nor even right and wrong values so much as right and wrong choices. From the existential point of view, to be free means to be condemned to choose between the good and the evil within alternative possible actions—endlessly. No wonder they fall back into the provided routines, spectacles and social clichés: it is so much easier to have something that tells you what to do than to have to face each and every moment in a cosmic abyss of uncertainty.

And these "theorizations" you're referring to are simultaneously an attempt to defend an Ideology of distorted self-serving de/perceptions at war with the attempt to add and revise it with new understandings of the truth. The fact is, the "Left" (whose name itself is as spectacular a piece of nonsense as you could ever hope for) has been struggling with the contradiction between its moral outrage for the world's underdogs and the fact that the underdogs will not meekly back them up in return ever since it robbed the working class of its politics, at about the same time it started robbing rastafarians of their hair-dos, the genuinely homeless of their squatters movements and so on. All the class rhetoric and fashionware and shrunken heads by which today's radicals identify themselves have been stolen from somebody else—as if by possessing their tattoos and music, hairstyles and footwear you could somehow take power over their souls and legitimize yourselves.

But white men can't sing the blues.


Death, Where Is Thy Sting?

03 Jul


52 O Street Studio


The following is a thread that Facebook captured, the only thread of its kind in my spotty career, a very special thread to me, for obvious reasons—I am being praised, harangued, and supported by several important women in a fury of words I have never experienced, before or since, in such volume or impact. Thank you, all you funny, sunny, honey girls. You're my blistering awesome public. There are a few others, but they were here for these three days. Now, go, don't be a distraction. I have much work to do, most of it far away from a paint brush or canvas. But I trust, yes, I trust one day most of you will understand more fully what I cannot say today.

I debated taking out the timestamps, but decided to leave them in rather than create a story out of whole cloth, when most of social civilization recognizes and respects the Facebook model, and willfully shares its information with the Internet, despite the periodic outrage of privacy and intellectual property rights advocates. Show here goes. Chances are I will frame in a bit of ad lib, but I think that the time stamp may make that difficult for both format design and creative considerations. So be it.

  • Shannon Koehler Fleming at 7:18pm July 1
    No goodbyes to the art world, your art is amazing, and has to keep on coming, the real estate is just a side project, one that I hope will fund many more paintings, oh and pay the bills…
  • Char McNair Bafalis at 7:55pm July 1
    Bullshit…the Gabriel I know will never quit…come on…keep driving everyone crazy!! love ya…but hate quitter’s.
  • Gabriel Thy at 8:10pm July 1
    Thanks Shannon, but I’m a bull in the china shop gone berserk. Can’t fathom under what skies I’m doing in real estate, but yes, it’s about money. Nobody’s buying my art these past couple of years and the irrational optimism vanished. I’ve sunk tens of thousands of dollars into a means of observation and expression which earns me at best a small peace of mind, a mere fragment of what’s left of a failed or perhaps recoiled intellectual, but in the post Warholian world, if it doesn’t sell, it ain’t art…

    Matt Sesow sells. Gabriel Thy does not. So it’s off to the gristmill for me…

    Working real estate paper will not come easy for me, at this point in my life when I am so preoccupied with other projects, and there are no guarantees there either, but I will give the sector all the muscle and energy I’ve got left after sinking heavily into debt chasing the paint and the word only I can define as my own.

    Individuality of imprint seems to be my driving force. Bittersweet doesn’t begin to describe the pain, but it’s all I know…

    Or the words I left out of this response.

  • Gabriel Thy at 8:27pm July 1
    Who’s quitting? You bought two pieces at my very first show. Thanks. That was fab. But I haven’t seen Charlotte’s Harlots at a GT show or studios since. Can’t paint AND put in seventy hours a week hustling up listing leads, something that frightens the hell out of me, by the way. Char, my dear beautiful bombastic belladonna, I haven’t QUIT anything. But I’ve been stonewalled plenty. Life is tough, that’s all. And I’m getting too old and too harried to keep throwing Sue’s money down a drain…
  • Gabriel Thy at 8:28pm July 1
    Part-time painter? hah!
  • Shannon Koehler Fleming at 8:48pm July 1
    oh god i hate that shit, true expression and creativity, can’t put a price on it, but that’s the point you need to get paid….so, ….but you know the real estate profession may inspire some new artistic ideas or things to write about, lord knows people and their ways can inspire, haha, or infuriate, or drive to the depths of insanity, a good start in the art world…well keep on keepin on or just fuck it…happiness is underrated…i want it no matter what the price.
  • Gabriel Thy at 9:14pm July 1
    Yeah, Shannon. You nailed it. So did Char. And guess what, so did I. Who knows what form the future will present? You both know I’m just stressing about this new direction. It’s damn scary, right Char, me? Real estate agent? In what parallel universe? But here I am, licensed, affiliated, and erect with marching orders, supported by a team of great new people. What more could I possibly need?

    Good grief, Charlie Brown.

  • Marianne Royals Wynn at 7:51am July 2
    very black and white of you gabe, extremely dramatic.
  • Marianne Royals Wynn at 7:57am July 2
    oh gabriel, you will continue to paint, not because it makes sense, but because you must, it will quiet your mind, and drive you. very few people make enough money from their art to become rich. also, having a day job (which is scarey) doesn’t unmake an artist. this economy is the pits though, and thats just the way it is. Art and real estate will make a comeback when the economy does. until then, let them eat paint.
  • Gabriel Thy at 8:24am July 2
    Well said, Marianne. But you know I’m know dilettante. I’m in all the way or I’m not in at all. And dramatic, yeah, I’m either stoic on the diastolic and ruthlessly dramatic on the systolic with no middle ground, beat me with a feather. Comebacks may not be in our future from what I read, but it rarely hurts to be salt and peppered by folks with a nominally cheery outlook, despite their questionable math skills. Thanks.
  • Gabriel Thy at 8:28am July 2
    Truth is both careers are full time full body contact sports. Half ass is as half ass does…
  • Char McNair Bafalis at 12:14pm July 2
    I so agree with Marianne..your art defines you…so now you will make real estate your muse…who doesn’t need art on their new, freshly painted walls? As for Charlotte’s Harlots..touchet”….one can lead a horse to water…..when can you have another viewing.
  • Sue Hedrick at 6:04pm July 2
    Gabriel is and has always been an artist since the very day I met him, and I am sure he will always be.
  • Erin Murphy at 10:51pm July 2
    Gabriel – as Sue says, you will ALWAYS be an artist (you can’t help it) and what you do for a living is irrelevant.
  • Marianne Royals Wynn at 12:51am July 3
    well, i don’t have any math skills, but i do have a day job that puts a roof over my head, and i am a fucking artist. but sometimes i feel stuck in the talking heads song, once in a life time, but what the hell aren’t we all walking contradictions. and sue is right, and always has been.
  • Marianne Royals Wynn at 12:52am July 3
    i disagree with the idea that real estate could be your muse, architecture perhaps, poetry, painting sure.
  • Gabriel Thy at 8:21am July 3
    Was Arthur Rimbaud still an artist long years after he penned his final line, then running guns and slaves in the African desert, losing a leg to cancer, mad with death at the ripe bloody age of 37, found in bed clutching his money belt like a whimpering child with rag doll?

    Besides, it not about labels. And contrary, Marianne, to your comment that not many make it rich, extreme wealth I do not seek, but crawling out from the depth of debt we have sunk into giving this old man an identity muster is important as is a name of mild intellectual regard in the field, always a thing of vanity, but rarely as stiff as it sounds. As a kid nearly universally acclaimed most likely to succeed, I frankly have failed rather miserably as a human achiever, and let’s also note that it is those damned early expectations that make us who we are, that inform our passions and our hurdles, that color our landscapes and number our fixations. And haunt us until the end of our days.

  • Gabriel Thy at 9:28am July 3
    Thanks for all the LOVE guys. You know I could drag these discussions out forever, but there’s no real point to that. Yet, one last blow. Each of you have MADE my point. How can I possibly devote the kind of time and disciplined sprints I am told in prep classes it will take to succeed in the world of real estate, even if I had the energy of three ballyhoos, when my natural need to write and paint and politik and shove aside the world – as an artist with severe notions of what it takes to succeed on his own terms in the art world – will not be easily suppressed?

    And believe me, I would like to succeed on both ends of this candlestick…

    Don’t believe art is an attitude. Art is knowledge executed in such a way as to profoundly effect the senses and knowledge base of those experiencing it.

    Punk rock thrived on attitude, but how much of greater PR perspective was genuine ART and not just simply an exercise in celebratory decadence and costumed alienation?

    The same with so many of these peace, love, and understanding movements. Nothing but artificial constructs made up of lingusitic and jingoistic chants, charms, and spells meant to jiggle the curtain of reality just long enough for some petty transaction to be conducted.

    My intellectual demons run long, they run hard. Will I ever be able to overthrow them long enough to carry off some mainstream industrial-stength service professional racket?

  • Marianne Royals Wynn at 10:11am July 3
    life is just so damn hard sometimes, but you are magnificent.
  • Gabriel Thy at 10:28am July 3
    Aw, gosh. You’re still that sweet and sour artsy hippie chick you always were, dear Marianne. Thanks for maintaining that flair and swatting me with it…

Ballad of The Big Ass Skinhead, The Engineer, and The Artists Nearby

01 Apr


Structural Engineer


Alex Roehner romps around the room in her best crayon pajamas, "Use small words and carry a big ass skinhead," she smiles, a service mile of track sunk into the old skinhead she now wants to extend a quiet allegiance. "Hello, my friends," she writes as if she remembers the words of a song she never thought she knew, then quickly types out, "I meant friend in the singular, unless your voices are with you..."

"Allo! Admiring your boots. You caught me looking..." Virtuality, off the record I find myself thinking, is a keen instinct among particular early tribes of hunt and peck typists and rogue artists found in various regions of North America, but according to the latest statistics as compiled by a few former employees of Standard & Poor's—virtuality is not a new phenomenon, but has its roots in the early religious rites of ancient peoples whose archaeological traces can be found worldwide, although much disputed among professionals who chalk it all up as garbage character—lost and found, survival of the fittest, not the fattest, not the thinnest, but the fittest—and not worth the investment of digging for clues as to why this rumor persists while bonding together many populations otherwise stuck on it like barnacles on a favorite whale. That former associates of Standard & Poor's are or might be involved in this study is still a mystery. Then I think again of Alex in her victorious boots. I saw pictures. I think I can smell them heel to toe all the way up the calf in all their splendor from here on this page, despite odors of wet cellar wafting up from the stink below. What can one expect from a place built in the 1740s with beautiful 12" wide planks but no sub-flooring...


"Ha! And I was just writing about things that go kick in the night earlier in the day," say I.

"I will write to you tomorrow," she promises. "My brain is coasting on beer at the moment and I can't lift my unabridged dictionary to aide me in a witty and verbose reply to your wonderfully worded correspondence. I love that you make me think without a drop of arrogance!"

"It's a trick I learned years ago when I created a Zen koan in the form of a question which goes like this: what's the difference between arrogant humility and humble arrogance?"

"One you can hear," she states.

"Your response flew right on past me. Come again..." I am genuinely stumped. But Alex Roehner is no stone in the horse's shoe.

"Arrogant humility must be verbally identified whereas humble arrogance is silent and deadly," she explains in a way I had never considered but made sense at this time of night, and as I write this, so I give her sway.

"Wait a minute. If you're buzzing on beer moving west at forty miles an hour and another bloke is buzzed on atomic fireballs traveling in the opposite direction at fifty miles an hour, which detail do you find most arresting? Nevermind. A joke gone astray. Back to the original koan. I think it is simpler than what you have suggested. Think about it." Here I am trying to get her to land on my square, the one I had picked out for her, but she had been too clever for that.

"Did I tell you about that the other day? My answer is for them to call each other a coordinate." Word games can get silly awfully quick.

"Arrogant humility is like a TV evangelist on uppers and downers and a few dancing girls on the side. Humble arrogance is like the lion with a thorn in his paw." I made my point, but I am intrigued by hers, because it does actually fit the model I had prepared, which leads us to the question, are all squares alike? "Tell me what the other day?" Now, she's lost me in the crayons again. "Not that I recall, and while I recall reams, I might be overlooking something. Please clarify."

"About the Jimmy leaving the station going east at 10 mph with 16 apples and Janey leaving the salon going north with a sack of potatoes. You will get my Alan Aldaish humor in a bit." This girl hangs low. I just love that about her. I wonder if she knows.

"No, just another one of those eerie synchronicities we seem to have going right now," I tell her, remembering something about how she was going to jump off until tomorrow tired and bleary, but we were, lighting fox tails strung to long sticks, and running through the naked woods with only words to keep us armed against the bouncing brown bears and their hunters stoked with large guns, and a license to kill. "That is to say, no, you didn't mention that tale."

"I was going on about it the other day. I am forced to take math so my buildings don't topple and I can calculate bending moments. The problem with math is there is only one answer. In English hell, I can make Jimmy juggle those apples while driving with his knees going in the opposite direction of traffic..."

"LOL! Well, Heisenberg might disagree with you, but for building, stiff calculus will suffice under most conditions. My rebuttal signals a slight twinge of satisfaction. But even on that spot, she ups the cost of doing business with a girl strapped to the gurney forced to inhale the forces that exist in a non-literal world taught to call itself literal.

"So will calling a structural engineer. Aha!"

"You've heard that science now suggests that observing an experiment can change the course of that experiment, right Alex? But don't scientists observe ALL experiments? I guess the key, and I forget this insidious detail, whether observation of an experiment will change the course of that experiment in a PREDICTABLE or UNPREDICTABLE way."

"Sounds like every word that leaves your mouth is history."

"Or history repeating itself, ha! Besides none of these words are leaving my mouth. I am typing." I pop her a good lickin' with that hit, I think. She's a slammer, alright.

"You're a funny man," she counters.

"Not only that," I type. "I paint pictures few can decipher, or even try. So I guess perfection is not as funny as math."

"But just as confusing."

"Just to be clear, said Confucius, before boarding the train, I have no seeds..."

"Where ever you go, that is where you will be, young grasshopper"

"Oh, that one's old, must be history repeating itself." We are both wearing thin, obviously, nervously fingering our crayons and our last few consonants in the stack we kept near the water tea glass, and Vitamin D pills I took because I never left the terminal long enough to get any sun.

"Or I haven't gotten there yet, wink wink." Another stinker, we're falling out of love with the words that brought us this far, now mere alphabet slaves to routine and obligation. I wonder if there will be a resurgence of energy, of creativity, of probing, thrusting, bouncing unfettered words strung out on string, made for you, played for me. I wonder.

"Oh, you're there alright." You're a buttercup solo in a runaway dandelion field, I murmur to myself, now, as I consider that night when we were living at the Farm. Those were good days. Too bad the old man had no vision. Being an old stuffy government lawyer got the best of him, so I add the next lines to deflect. "And that's me in the corner, losing my virginity. But only because I'm a Libra. And there is no way a Libra can be a free spirit. Am often called one, but they just don't understand the conflicted soul the way us Librans do."

"Thats funny most people say I'm not there, or home, either."

"Silly wabbits. Home is there."

"In a Westinghouse."

"Such an illustrious past, the Westinghouse name." And brand. Surely Alex is too young to remember that tagline from the days of black & white television. She's an inspiration, quick and rich in symbolic references that have specific meaning to me, even this reference to Westinghouse. I give her that. But of what long term use is she to me, or I to her? But I don't have the opportunity to follow up the Westinghouse gem, as she is flagged as offline. Ah, she's back.

"Sorry to flee momentarily but Ive been on this silly FB for a bit too long for one day. I have some serious thinking to do if I am to reply to my friend Gabe and discover Suess' dark side. Dream Grand."

"Okay, thanks for chirping in..."

"Chat tomorrow?"

"Most likely. Bye, and hang tough..."

"Which is safer than Hang 10."

"Especially when you've only got eight."

"Just know I'm smiling."

"Skipping all the way to the building that never falls down...somewhere...and it ain't over some ephemeral rainbow. Just so you know."

"The vision of you skipping with "Skip to the Loo" (haha) is well, well, worthy of some angry art. You are such an inspiration."

"Guess my work is done, he smirks." And I meant it. That was a playful exchange. It's getting late, but not too late to keep the lights on for the honey pot to catch the next fly...

"Meanwhile back at the homestead..."

Are you still here?

"No. Gone home. Clocked out and gone home." I presume Alex Roehner, the girl with the most curious hair I know (with nod to D.F.W.) is working from home. A minute has passed...

"Can't pull yourself away from the little screen?" I tease.

"Busted again," she types. But actually I was the busted one the first time these words were used tonight, or so I'd originally thought, busted for peeping her in her hip boots. But I carry on.

"Home is where my laptop is, tiny dancer..."

"Like a candle in the wind" To have both tapped Elton John was a subtle move, but I realize that in saying that I have be giving people the wrong impression. I can live with that. But, I was just a big fan for a string of four or so albums.

"Caught between the bull and his Picasso. The taxi girl and the sneaker in the rye. Forty secrets the Dali Lama failed to mention on his way down the mountain. Anyways. I'm gone. You take it away. We'll meet up again tomorrow." That's should up the ante. Can't wait to see her next move.

"I have a suspicious feeling this banter could be documented."

"Copy and paste into a text doc. Only way I've found."

"Naw, that's falling in the misconceived trap that genius is gone for good. DONT DO IT!" she cajoles. Surely she doesn't think I'm going to pay attention to that big fat lie. Documentation no way belittles genius. Nor suffers it lightly. Nor uses up all its eggs. As you see, I kicked against Roehner's grave wishes, for better or worse, and I trust she will be happy to bounce through this moment of time. Hell, that's what writers and painters do. They document. Enter the readers.

"Tom Wolfe's The Painted Word has a dilemma for you. On that topic, have you checked out Goodreads yet? No? Chagrin."

"Not yet. Tiny magnetizing screen remember? Oh, and Structural engineering class and new NY Sunday times x word puzzles. Trés busy á demain."

"Goodreads is simply a space where you post your own favorite literary experiences. You rate them. You critique them, et cetera, yada yada, dada. It's similar to Facebook and the two services actually interact but Goodreads is ALL about books, your books, and other people's lists. Take it or leave it. Wish it were around about fifteen years ago when I was trying to catalogue my personal library, and had few tools worth fussing over. Well, she's off the clock now. Time to turn the lights out, methinks. Bye dark angel..."

Multiplying By Zero

07 Nov


The Artist As Moneypit


Chased the dream, invested thousands, and I mean tens of thousands on this irrational hope that I was actually investing in and building a business, yes, a small, self-sufficient business charged with the singular duty of making art and selling it. Doing it right, sparing no expense. I did all this, throwing money into advertising materials also, although I loathe and feel inadequate to the self-marketing end of things. Persistent failure does that to a man, even one like me. But now, I have finally awakened from the dream. Yet the situation is worse than ever. The truth is threadbare. Overhead is cost prohibitive. I overreached, and overreachly badly. I listened to those who flattered me. I listened to those who said they had faith in me. I listened to those who said they wanted to support my art, but never did, not where it counted. It is with great consternation that I must admit that I am teetering on the brink of financial ruin. I can either pay for my studio or my tiny apartment. Or rather, my longsuffering, patient, supportive wife can pay for only one of these crucial items. But not both.

(Why does this plea remind me of the one Henry Miller wrote from Big Sur to all the friends and contacts he’d amassed to no avail back in the late 40s a couple of years before he broke big?). Oh, I don’t know. Like my late mother said to me back a few years ago when I mentioned him in some relational way I now forget, “Son, you are NOT Henry Miller.” Thanks Mother, for pointing out the obvious.
My contributions to the family economy have been for far too long a recalcitrant sin, plowing forward along the faultlines of audacious hope and the capital costs of building up a business as the money continued to flow out, out, out, with next to zero in return coming in. The harsh realities of today's economical downturn finally burst my own bubbleheaded optimism. So in terms of dollars and sense, I appear to be and am indeed, a colossal economic failure. I know many of you believe I exaggerate the depth of my hole, but I assure you this is not the case.

My health has been in shambles for the past two years, and I feel debased to the core to have to plead this way, but I MUST liquidate my work.

Deals can be made! And yes, I do accept credit cards. Ah, now THERE is a quaint $30 monthly overhead cost I can drop soon, if things don't change in a hurry. The website is also somewhat outdated, but much of my earlier work is posted there. And serious enquiries will earn access to other much larger work, and receive an invitation to the studio while it still exists (currently exploring and analyzing the four or five options we have available, not sure of next move, but none are pretty).

Prints on demand of images up to 42" wide are available on various papers.

If anyone has been aching to own one or more of my images, now is the time to pounce. Desperate times call for desperate price reductions. I know many of you are no more liquid than I am at the moment. I empathize, but I'm also sure some of you are just holding back. I need your help now, if you can spare. (Why does this plea remind me of the one Henry Miller wrote from Big Sur to all the friends and contacts he'd amassed to no avail back in the late 40s a couple of years before he broke big?). Oh, I don't know. Like my late mother said to me back a few years ago when I mentioned him in some relational way I now forget, "Son, you are NOT Henry Miller." Thanks Mother, for pointing out the obvious. She and a few other people I seem to attract are very very sharp at pointing out this sort of thing to me. I don't know what I would do without them. Apparently they save me from some major social faux pas like running up and down the National Mall screaming at the top of my voice, maybe naked even, I am Henry Miller, I am Henry Miller, or else I might walk into a hospital and starting telling everybody I see there, doctor, nurse, Indian chief, doesn't matter, "I'm a poet, I know it, I hope I don't blow it, I'm a poet, I know it, I hope I don't blow it." True, I hope I will never do that, there or never. I just don't see it happening. One might think, however, I was one to get into automobile collisions or fender bender scrapes all the time, or make wrong turns, drive too fast or too slow, or get lost whenever I drive down these country roads or the Interstate in my Jeep or my motorcycle when I have one, or I will go hungry and explode from gas buildup if I am not reminded by these good people who happen to be aware of the same obvious facts that I am, often in a split instant after I make a move when none of these awkward things happen, never ever, not to me, but to them, oh yes. Okay, maybe I do have trouble with that last one.

          Some men are pansies, some women painters. Cougar roar 
can be dressed up in colors neither'd recognize today,
as the paint can in time be exploded by a handsome bullet,
my name on it and a typewriter's glint.

Fame's not a fruit but lady bug's as beautiful as her core
a nuclear reactionary must bury faith never hypothesize
        nobody hears and nobody's nose, unquestionably 
shoulder to shoulder, the server pushes to spool him, 
but I'd need to check the past, 
reconfiguring absolutely 
every hint.

Thanks to all you snappy folks who took the time to read this awful stench of PR. Bet they didn't teach THIS PARTICULAR APPROACH in art school business ethics. Hope to hear from some of you (gawd, I hate whining!) as we each struggle in giving IT, whatever IT IS, our best. Believe me, I understand.

Multiplying by zero,


Best Of Times, Worst Of Times

20 Jun


Wheeling Man


I always thought that one of the reasons why a painter likes especially to have other painters look at his or her work is the shared experience of having pushed paint around.

-Chuck Close

Best of times, worst of times. Who can turn down the opportunity to slap those famous opening lines from the Dickens story Tale Of Two Cities into the bush leagues every once in a blue moon. Of course it's never easy to harvest or improve the sums of the differences in a social climate where the past is all make-believe and the future is sheer mortal doom. Like a whistle in the dark, life streaks through the conscious mind and even on the brightest day on the fanciest calendar, no one gets a free shot at handling the lightning without consequences. But there are certain habits one notices, certain patterns occupying the people that slowly begin to creep into the register from which the artist takes his cut, much like that quickening recognition of a muted thud wrapped with solemnity as it nails the proud cold pavement with best intentions as most of the sentinel hurry forth with no intentions at all. This muted thud I seek to hear with my own two ears involves two cities, the large scrambling feral city of Washington, DC, the national capital, the international bullseye, its inverted thin skin tokenism masquerading as the beltway bulge, home sweet home to hardcore right along side equally limp dhimmicants and republicratz with two hands wrestling for a single jellybean, spitting images, split tickets, and enough black-bellied potholes of rumor and wreckage to make Stephen Hawking, now all hooked up to a robust afternoon, cry into his—shudder—box of joys.

Then there's Wheeling, West Virginia, a five hour drive northwest of DC. Sitting plumply on the east bank flood plains of the once mighty Ohio River, kindred parts of this sprawling echo from a rare past are pitted into the gnawing Alleghany foot mountains and yesterday's mail where tremendous energies once pumped life into and out of teh long striking surgeon of steel mills, nail factories, unique spanning bridges, and the winnowed glass-blowing strength hurling the holy ghost of cobbled workers into what was once a rather picturesque little city of its own, historic and dignified, polished and craggy, a special glint in the eye of the Industrial Revolutionaries, muscular, charming, artistic and stern.

To answer with a simple pleasantry, a couple of minutes tops, while I continue to be deluged by invitations to gigs and art openings, all of which require hours of time to oblige, and can I even count the number of times I DO oblige my friendly neighborhood culture vultures in my midst, oh yes, dear friends ALL, usually with a stiff penalty at the wallet level, but not always. In fact, most of my rocker friends and foes have obliged me with copies of their great rock record over the years. Show up fresh to gaggle for the night at one of my art shows? Insert laugh track now.
Meriwether Lewis and William Clark once slept in Wheeling, packing supplies in a big haul sent down the Ohio from Pittsburgh, before heading out on their own historic expedition through America, the far west, and common fates of the uncommonly famous, while the city along with the steel industry grew.

Washington is experiencing a growth spurt not felt in many decades, a growth that is manifestly transforming the old city from the sleepy southern town role quite fond and accustomed to its own harsh summers and even harsher winters which had kept the natives to a pace recognized by its own heritage as a pace best suited for quiet relaxation, the very meaning of hip for generations straight back to its marshland founding. The protocols of laws, a spell of business, and then more relaxation.

Squealing Wheeling is gripped by the devastation of an antiquated industry. Don't get the wrong impression. The citizens of the OV stand bold against a double whacking by the same old enemies of an aging infrastruction, an tired unhealthy population, and foul weather. But whatever fondness I hold for this old city, and I am there in spades, there is no escaping the realization that Wheeling is bleeding from the inside out, rusting old factories now long dormant salute the sun-soaked orange evening skies in silence, rotting buildings periodically claimed by the river's raging high waters grow more dank with each passing season a child goes to school, or a college grad begins the long hunt for a decent job and place to live in an area trapped in a downward spiral with no way to outsource nature's repeated assault, hemorraging its population, its tax base, and its future shares of the American dream. Wheeling's local economy and general charm do not lack potential, but problems persist, accrue with every passing pledge, despite heavy doses of encouragement and optimism issuing forth from the astute mouths of those straddling the ambitions and aspirations of those dreamers, dangling by both thumbs along the watchtowers—both inside and outside the northern panhandle and area code 304.

Here's the rub. Wheeling Youth is a MySpace hub. And these kids in their 20s and 30s, despite exhibiting the very same human traits and foibles when up close and personal that we do here in Washington, DC, possess a very special gift. That is the gift of reciprocity. Of good manners. And more specifically, excellent Internet etiquette. When I write to one of my Wheeling acquaintences, remembering I spent only four months among them as I painted the Wheeling Wailing Wall at Yesterday's, they respond in kind. They actually return my mail, and usually answer my question if I post one.

Not so, with this tribe of so-called Washington DC pals, most of whom I have known 10, 15, 20 years or so. Of course they are also ALL artists, rockers, painters, or heavy in mantle of some other wishbang prima donna act. Too busy? To answer with a simple pleasantry, a couple of minutes tops, while I continue to be deluged by invitations to gigs and art openings, all of which require hours of time to oblige, and can I even count the number of times I DO oblige my friendly neighborhood culture vultures in my midst, oh yes, dear friends ALL, usually with a stiff penalty at the wallet level, but not always. In fact, most of my rocker friends and foes have obliged me with copies of their great rock record over the years. Show up fresh to gaggle for the night at one of my art shows? Insert laugh track now.

Isn't this why I left the promises of DC for the reality of Wheeling in the first place? To probe for myself, one fair smile at a time, whether or not DC is as friggin' all-consuming self-important as I perceived it to be, or had the whole snatch a niche world gone completely hardwired, baked to a crude narcissistic core in the course of my own single unexemplary lifetime?

Raised root-first in a very small town myself, I guess I'm just not a big city capo when all the votes are in the bag, although had I hit my stride just a weebit earlier I just might have taken this town. Square peg, trapezoid hole. Can't find the rulebook. Couldn't read it if I did. That's fine by me. Like the poet said, "They can talk about me plenty when I'm gone."

Or not. Doesn't really make a difference, now does it? And now my health plays tricks on me. Gotta love it...


Awesome View of Ohio River, Wheeling Island, and Opportunity

28 May


Watching The River Flow


Okay friends and foes, Chuck [Fithen] has posted a few pix he snapped with his cell camera of me on my first day of sloshing paint against the new Wailing Wall running some eighty feet along the second floor of Yesterday's Draughthouse & Stage, 1054 Main. The new bandstage with its backdrop of floor to ceiling triple-threat of push out glass windows opening onto Main Street a few feet above the marquee is an immediate draw. Once the windows are pushed out to reveal the picturesque landscape below now expanding to embrace the once mighty Ohio River whirling along the edges of Wheeling Island, and even beyond the western banks of the state of Ohio, a visual and spiritual welcoming includes a gorgeous panorama at dusk, a stunning canvas of color, old architecture, and future promise of a mid-America character still the home of the brave and strength of our nation.

Chuck says he's posting only a teaser; doesn't want to spoil the first impressions of all those curious slammers and slackers who pass muster and make it past security into he and his partner Raj predicts will be a seething house of sights and sound worthy of a space where such country music greats as Johnny Cash and Wilma Lee Cooper liked to once gather for a song and a beer.

Breaking news: The following statement will run the course along the top edge above the painting on the wailing wall at Yesterday's Draught House & Stage in Wheeling:

“As a cull poet and loner among the lonesome, I am now determined to speak for myself, to speak from every speck of my ignorance, to speak from whatever’s left of my virtue in the wisdom that I must shoulder my own perspective, or else I die without individuality, landscape, or divisibility by zero (the latter a latter day expense of extinction), a mere sad crack in the sidewalk of battles beneath the cold shadows of others who knew not me in my struggles, but only themselves in theirs.”

True sneak preview. Many of Chuck's close friends have already eyeballed the wall in progress and frankly, response has been overwhelmingly positive. Are they all liars? You be the judge. If any of you out to lunch friends of mine buckle to the highway jones, why don't you swing by and check out the black palace called Yesterday's. Opening soon, very soon...

Just sign me,


Ex-patriate of WDC
(the city that NEVER
speaks the truth,
by it)

Even Places Like Wheeling Can Be Turned Around (On A Dime)

03 May

Wheeling Youth

Wheeling Youth


The DIY work ethic has never been of more importance than it is now. As big business continues to whistle in the wind while storing up riches for itself and dumping on the little guy in every field, including the art industry, what better time to revisit a couple of books that helped motivate me to move to Wheeling in the first place, out of Washington DC, away from my supportive and loving wife, and into the wheeze of West Virginia decay.

In two books, artist & sculptor Eric Rudd, outlines his manifesto for artistic and financial freedom in the often corrupt and always competitive business of making and selling art, which, he adds, is also about the making and selling of oneself. Those two books,The Artist Studio/Loft Manual (For Ambitious Artists and Creators) and The Art World Dream (Alternative Strategies For Working Artists), contain fistloads of great information in constructing new strategies in open rebellion against the large city, in particular, the NY, LA, Chicago art scenes in favor of founding one's own gallery, owning the space rather tahn tossing money away on rent, plus other provocative ways to implement one's own creative scheme in fulfilling rather than enslaving one's art. It's a must read for those ambitious artists who don't see much hope in getting recognized by the fickle and manipulative art establishment.

It was to this end, that I scoped out Wheeling this spring for relatively inexpensive studio & gallery space. Its growth potential is definitely seething just beneath the surface tension of old industry decay and new life bursting at the seams to stay in their cherished Wheeling with its historic past, and phlethora of old abandoned buildings of downtown due for a new influx of capital interest, ripe for the pickings. With its central location to cities in the midwest and eastern seaboard, plus the rise of Internet, even places like Wheeling can be turned around from its decades old economic slide and rebuilt to modern specs on a dime.

Stay tuned. Today the STEEL & GRISTLE is just a glimmer in my eye, but perhaps, to lift a phrase from Jean Genet, I am indeed the soldier who is to come...

But no need for such headiness. Upon arrival I was soon put in contact with Chuck. With the much anticipated opening of Yesterday's Draughthouse & Stage here in downtown Wheeling in a few weeks, life was beginning to open up as night to a candle. After meeting Chuck, Yesterday's man-in-charge, he gave the wife & me the eyes wide shut guided tour through nook & cranny four floors thick (it's gonna be a monsterous rock venue) and offered me hanging space in the foyer behind the vintage glass-encased direct lighting tombs of glory so I'll be exposing eight to ten of my larger works to every pair of eyes that enters the bar. Less than a month in town. Now that's what I'm talking about...

Thanks Chuck! And props to you too, Justin, for the good word. Glad to be in Wheeling. Now it's time to make a difference!


Introducing Tom Viewer

14 Jan




Thomas P. Viewer knelt faithfully at the makeshift altar he had himself prepared, acutely aware that the tectonic shift his newest business idea would almost certainly trigger could well be his proudest moment and perhaps establish him as a rising star, an outside the box, inside the beltway, outside the loop, garden variety, home on the range, rather bashful, peculiarly American strategist. He was growing sure of it. Prostrate, and moving a medium-sized scented candle over to the far left side of the abandoned sock drawer he was using as night storage for his overwritten manuscript with his right hand while his left was busy moving to the right side he could already taste the stench of carnal greed welling up inside well-tailored and enchantingly coiffed occupiers who would like to imagine themselves in partnership with one of the snazziest trademarks in the global business world, and would be willing to ante up disposable cash and hard eyeballs with the zeal of a hot buttered popcorn concessioneer to get there.

This new breed of traders stank of fresh kerosene on a cold winter day. Numb frozen fingers fumbling at the future. Staring at his own mind's dark flicker, he shuddered with the same flush of those who would scream bloody murdering tongues that this ridiculous notion must surely be one of the most well-telegraphed bait and switch hoaxes to define the day trader market in decades, ready to fell the recently arrived, and the tall timber of a few old tethered hardliners alike, this new Presidentially-appointed battalion of frontline soldiers called the Sweet Investor Class, run by one Galloway Sweet, a punctual man, old-school, but hard as nails, now barreling across this new century battleground with all chambers loaded, while others will of course laugh an equally haughty laugh in declaring themselves never to be caught dead shoveling their own hard-earned dollars at this most celebrated of celebrity dealmakers, while remaining secretly dedicated fans week after week, the chosen national drama, and nobody really wanted to defy those Pynchon House claws that strike at the quick and the dread of every viewer trapped in the now apparent, national hostage situation.

Viewer’s fate seem decreed that someone else would always grab the goods, the glory, the alms of genius, while he would stumble down in defeat while on display, a bewildering talent of being ahead of his time, and the conviction of indifference to the whole affair of original thought, until it was gone only to come along again for somebody else to make a buck…
The PR crowd would love the stakes—the accountants fearing the moment when the sleeping giant wakes. Past experiences however taught him he could never assume others would grasp the sheer simplicity, cunning and beauty of an idea which would shake an American industry to its core and send shockwaves across the national consciousness while still being flayed on the examination table in boardrooms and town halls everywhere. He also knew that his idea would clearly squeeze the whatever's left of the nectar from the stone cold wisdoms of the day, as well as arouse the interest of the usual suspects and system-testing fruit flies eager to plunge into any gold rush vein in the scheme to exploit to maximum potential. Sweet was bitter.

"It's the perfect Ponzi scheme," agreed Merkle Monitor, as the idea left Tom's mouth for the first time since the day it popped into his head a week or so before. First time to someone else who was not his wife. Monitor was no slouch in the sudden awareness department. But even he had to think about it and try to poke holes into the scheme, before the sheer brilliance of it struck him like a flying shard off a cold chisel. Thomas himself thought of it by accident actually, if any thought can be presumed an accident.

"Pure evil. But all the hooks and payoffs are there. This is America, after all. Land of the Yankee Dollar. Selling the glamour of big television to stockholders across the nation, across the world, over the Internet. Buy in cheap. Gotta watch the show though. Ratings are king. All by the numbers. You own. You watch. Others watch. Others buy. A scheme which depends on TV eyeballs for success, selling itself."

It was an idea whose time had come. Money was to be made. Big Money. Most of his ideas did nothing of the sort. Viewer's fate seem decreed that someone else would always grab the goods, the glory, the alms of genius, while he would stumble down in defeat while on display, a bewildering talent of being ahead of his time, and the conviction of indifference to the whole affair of original thought, until it was gone only to come along again for somebody else to make a buck...

“Wise as a serpent, harmless as a dove,” he would now argue in conscious recoil at his recent outburst, mute and tormented by a fractured personality sustaining an argument that had fried many a creative egg, on impulse, over the tepid years since his youthful first awakening. The first of several he would experience in such a way they would probably get their own glorifer phrase if he ever got it into his head to analyze the theme, and come up with something like the Belinda Carlisle Renaissance.
He wasn't sure if touting the notion of a consumer driven media in terms of the ownership society would help build personal character, or his writing resumé. Without a doubt, regardless of the intellectual pretensions of any given season, and there stretched many over his decades, Thomas had always hated that damning phrase: ahead of his time, and more often than not, its fully hatched personally tweaked variation; something along the lines of "Oh Thomas, don't be so hard on yourself, you're simply ahead of your time." Predictably, our friend Thomas took little pleasure in this special knowledge, and secretly despised those urbane comments frameless friends and family would contribute to his misery in these times of defeat. To him this gentrified characterization, however well-intentioned, was just another nasty bone-rotting sentiment which buttressed his life as a perpetual failure, a capitalist without profit, a motif without motive, a muster without magnificence. Stinking, sticky flesh-scorching black asphalt is that paved road of good intentions, death by politeness, despair verified. By his own snide calculations, Thomas knew not to fully trust those faulty witnesses with anything more than a passing hallmark greeting.

In the beginning, he had been a natural. A rising boy scout. A good-natured architype of his inherited genes and a motherly discipline who pursued early the glistening avenues that frequently smile upon such fine sons until eventually the proverbial realities on both sides of the tracks caught up with him, and shattered his personality into pieces of jigsaw only an idiot savant could hope to repair. Yet, despite his past, congeniality as he now knew it was a bugger confirmed by no less an authority than the philosophical bard Bertrand Russell (who also had done the math), even though Mr. Viewer did practice whatever casual sort of affability its initiates required when at all possible.

Failure creates its own designer intelligence. He had taken to his own math problems early on, thanks to exposure to sports statistics, and could provide superb proofs to keenly interested parties (where there is no faith, no exposition), but to Thomas, there was never any clear context from which to compete on anything close to a level playing field, and that singular criterion was the device his considerable talents demanded. Quick to point out a peculiarity to those few acquaintances who lent a salient ear, this rather stark absence of a level playing field in human affairs, contrary to centuries of being created equal in rhetorical America, was his dead soldier, his missing link, his cross to bear, his missing coin collection, for like anything in his own life's aspiration, raw inspiration was the charm that set men free. Without elbow room from which to work this poetically raw inspiration all of life's grand illusions turned dull, dark, dirty, ruefully despondent to the unique transforming spirit and work ethic of one Thomas Paine Viewer, first son of Emmaline Paine and Herbert Noel Viewer. And by extension, of course might he be so bold, to anyone clever enough to fall under the swoon of one's own gut-wrenching life-affirming inspiration. But here, my friends, was one man who refused to be bought for a pittance. He'd rather give away the farm than to exploit it for less than its flint-striking value. While no proponent of the "great man" theory, specifically as espoused by the old goat Ayn Rand, herself, with its fuel-burning distortions of judge and jury, Thomas was determined to become one himself, a great man, just in the nick of time, and by turning the tables upside down. He preferred it precisely this way, and he had his reasons. Solid, robust reasons, he mused, calculating all the way back to year zero.

"Tis better to give freely than to harbor resentment against swindlers, resentment that is sure to arrive on the next bus," he would postulate to himself before erupting in a loud discourse, usually to his wife, Sybil, listing all the swindlers and degrees of swindle his mind could generate before he would fall silent again, convicted by his own honest words, and considerably less a measurement of genteel manners for his troubles.

"Wise as a serpent, harmless as a dove," he would now argue in conscious recoil at his recent outburst, mute and tormented by a fractured personality sustaining an argument that had fried many a creative egg, on impulse, over the tepid years since his youthful first awakening. The first of several he would experience in such a way they would probably get their own glorifer phrase if he ever got it into his head to analyze the theme, and come up with something like the Belinda Carlisle Renaissance.

Viewer's own repeated failures at the money game had worn him to a frazzle until he felt like a prime number, divisible only by one and himself. Sure, he had been a faithful employee, an industrious worker, responsible and adept, over and above the call of duty when he chose to work outside the hearth, for someone else, at less pay than he felt he must earn to justify his departure from the imagined life, as he called it. As a hireling he was a success by nearly any measure but his own. But many of his social choices had quietly ostracized him from the herd. Always willing to take chances with opportunity and payoff, Thomas Viewer had left the herd early in life in order to better comprehend the agencies of those who were born without a fair shake, born outside the successful herd, condemned to drift, as the balladeer once sang, or else be kept from drifting. Not truly a thrillseeker in the common parlance of the times but driven to succeed where he counted it most important, he nevertheless shunned the national safety net and golden ladder of success to seek out the complacent and the lost. He wanted to help them more than he wanted to help himself, or his own family. He wanted to read between the lines.

Writers and talkers were a nickel a noseful. Who cares? Nobody cares. The voices. The haunting voices. The shame of isolation. The tears of rage and loneliness. But I must, he said to himself. This is my work. I must. This is my calling. The demons taunted. But he hated his recorded voice more than he felt pressured to capture his dazzling angelic rhetoric. The wretched accusations of "Vanity, vanity, all is vanity!" and other demonic voices crowding inside his head would always taunt and fears of self-aggrandizement would drown out any meek aspirations of theatre anywhere else but in the now.
A glimpse of the old Chinese mirror he bought recently at a junk sale reflects heavy gray irises and dark sags, a conflicted hulk of awkward flesh not in step with these Dorian times, a frayed and yellowing montage of a man, not quite fifty, a floundering ward of his vaguely supportive but long-suffering Sybil. Effort after effort in planning and executing a "can't miss" business plan which would leave him free after a few short years to write himself out of the mental anguish he had accumulated over a lifetime of oscillating temptations had made him suspicious of almost all the beliefs he had inherited as a young lad who'd believed, if he ever believed anything written or uttered, was that he was born to greatness, whatever that meant.

"Defining one's terms. That is the benchmark of the gregarious mind. Let me explain," and off he'd zoom into a long, rambling exposition of mental links and thought processes, sweeping genealogies of linguistic foci he had been constructing into a magnificent architecture, his voice rising and falling, speeding up and slowing down at precisely the impact word, clever winks of language springing through the air punctuated only by an occasional sigh that signaled his realization that here he was again, merely the protracted windbag, making solitary speeches instead of writing for a cause, whole, beautiful, riveting phrases lost to eternity unless he wrote them down in notebooks, right now, losing the gift of flow, (or managed to turn on the recorder he had purchased just for these occasions), these exciting moments in time, where flood level clarity was all that mattered, untarnished clarity to himself, and at least one other person, that of his beloved Sybil, and she only cared because he did. To her, it was just Thomas. Nobody else really mattered. Nobody else really cared. Writers and talkers were a nickel a noseful. Who cares? Nobody cares. The voices. The haunting voices. The shame of isolation. The tears of rage and loneliness. But I must, he said to himself. This is my work. I must. This is my calling. The demons taunted. But he hated his recorded voice more than he felt pressured to capture his dazzling angelic rhetoric. The wretched accusations of "Vanity, vanity, all is vanity!" and other demonic voices crowding inside his head would always taunt and fears of self-aggrandizement would drown out any meek aspirations of theatre anywhere else but in the now.

Capitalism has a forensic nature. Never forget that. The rich already have. Capitalism is the purest form of collectivism ever practiced. Thomas continued to search for a profound opening statement for his novel, to measure up to the greatest of them. Before he knew it he had written over nine hundred pages of opening statements.
Unfortunately, having based any exposition worth repeating—from a den of thieves to a face-stuffing roomful of scheming marketeers—on a host of supporting axioms and cross-referenced proofs in the pudding, whittling down these fine fractals and illuminations into a form he might communicate to others was never front burner material for Thomas. His intellectual proclivities were closer to the wild-eyed urchinesque Wittgenstein than the scholarly Popper, and he knew the difference mattered where it counted most, in the public's eye. But of course there was this factor of a public shyness which had never been overcome unless he was and he knew he was—in charge—a condition he had achieved many times, and excelled. He was a good follower here good leadership existed, but he was always anxious to move out of the crowd, out of the shadow, out from incompetent leadership.

Only his wife was privy to the inflationary nature of these matters her husband deemed literary and thus fair game for new possibilities, but she in all good graces was not heavily favored with a talent for long-winded philosophical discussions. Mr. and Mrs. Viewer nourished themselves on opposite poles of the literary and philosophical scale. Neither read each other's bedside books, loathed the other's tastes in reading material generally. However, the well-kept secret to their lengthy marriage was her superabundance of listener's intelligence. For this Thomas was forever grateful. He proved it by sticking around during the hard times. Sybil proved herself by sticking around, giving her all, and comforting Thomas as if he were the only man worth his salt. Few friends, few as they were and from either loyalty base in the Viewer three-sixty, understood this nearly unbreachable devotion to each other.

"I can believe anything, as long as it is incredible," wrote Oscar Wilde. Thomas liked to think he didn't make such distinctions, but of course he did, but what's even more predictable, he loved Oscar's line. It wouuld have made a great opening statement for his novel. Flourish and write. Write and flourish. In the beginning was the end. Capitalism has a forensic nature. Never forget that. The rich already have. Capitalism is the purest form of collectivism ever practiced. Thomas continued to search for a profound opening statement for his novel, to measure up to the greatest of them. Before he knew it he had written over nine hundred pages of opening statements.


[simple_series title="Viewer"]

Remember When Bussius Blew Us Off, Plumb Missing Our Gesture

29 Aug

Bussius Beach

Bussius Beach


Date: Thu, 29 Aug 2002 10:52:13
Point of Origin: Washington, DC

Sorry I haven't got back to you, didn't stop by because my wife decided to invite her friends and they followed in another car. Make a long story short, they were not to interested. Well I have spent a week at the beach. Only company really was my son, wife (after we already got to the beach) invited another friend of hers. Came back the next Sunday, Monday truck broke down, dropped 200 bucks to fix, tried to replace my serpentine belt, broke that cost 75 bucks, this Monday finally fixed truck completely, living with the in-laws has almost become truly unbearable. Looking, possibly for a new job (pays more) so I haven't been feeling too spunky about anything lately. It was good hearing from Yall!! Yeah Haw! Haven't been doing much of anything except the last month or so trying to get back in shape, getting up at 4:30 am go to work and go running for 4-5 miles, work, go home, lift a little weights, go to bed, repeat.

Made the History Channel, summer of 2000 going through Ranger school, they had a t.v. crew out there filming. Finally got a copy last month (2 frickin years) come to find out, all the video they took you only see me close to the very end! Sux!! Oh well. Let me get back to pretending I'm working and not playing on the Internet. Later Gator,

—Sergeant Buss

Hey Sarge, we gotta see that video, man. Came across some pics just the other day you'd sent me from Hawaii of yourself snuggled up to God & Country & sweet teat familia gob-smacked in face mud and camouflage. Spunky goo, maaan, spunky...

Speaking of changes, I just took a part-time job myself down at the neighborhood Moto Photo. Plan to join Gold's Gym which is three blocks away, soon after I get my first paycheck. I begin right after Labor Day. Should be a halfway decent job, 20-24 hours a week, cop a few skills, and spot check the pushy Chevy Chase photo-processing public before the whole stinking industry goes flat out digital. And this weight problem I've been hiding under an enormous appetite for has GOT TO VANISH INTO THIN AIR.

Meanwhile, I dolly around the house working up my websites long in ill-repair after three highly decorated years of preparing to move, moving, and reorganizing into the new place, a MUCH smaller place. But I can't complain, despite a mess of health issues. I've just got to straighten myself out, Sarge, one day at a time (he laughs with a big-assed ho ho ho, as if he were some buck naked private singing in the desert rain for pennies on the dollar and a new identity from which to launch a David Foster Wallace attack on all those sinking souls he knew by the sound of their tongues crying out from the purest unalloyed Turkish copper, rich in history, freshly poured off process from the long queue of smelting pots containing only the perfected element.) Truth unalloyed.


Time: 29 Aug 2002 16:20:11

Yeah it's gonna cost your whole paycheck to go to Gold's Gym. They ain't cheap.Yeah I packed on 20-30 lbs since I've been out and now I've been running just about 4-5 times a week 3-5 miles and the only thing I noticed is I'm getting better at running again and I think my body is just adjusting to keep the fat and be able to run. What a bitch!! Have to come up with some more strategies besides just running, need to lift more weights or more exercises like push ups and pull ups, sit ups (definitely). Well, I'll keep trotting around the trail every morning until this shit falls off. What are you up to this weekend? Maybe I can wiggle myself away from the looney bin and the Master-Where's-Your-Paycheck.

Mrs. Beaversnatch

Mrs. Beaversnatch

Any Hooo let me know and I'll probably have to email or go somewhere and call since the in-laws don't have long distance calling after my sister-in-law raised the bill to over 500 bucks with her homey friends. What a wasted human she is, worthless as cancerous tits! Well I'll get back to ya.

—Roberto the Boogaloo Dance Technician

Come on down, Corona Pooch...since we cancelled our plans to go visit my mother in Chicago, we have zero inertia. Might go looking at affordable outboards this weekend just for kicks, but that might be even more fun if you were along. Paycheck? Uh, I don't START working until after Labor Day, but I don't really need the check to sign up at Gold's. Just thought it would be nice to see money coming in instead of always going out. Moving out of the ghetto put us bug-eyed in debt, again.

But let's get together for real. I'm hardly drinking anymore these days, weight and blood pressure issues. I'm a fat old man fer sure. Though I look younger than my age (47 in September), I look fatter than I feel, but then again I surely feel like the 300 pound ghostbuster I am, so who am I kidding? Saturday? Sunday? You name it. Wassup dude?

Anyway speaking of automobile troubles, I've got to get outa here and head out to Wheaton on the Metro to pick up our car that's currently in the body shop. While visiting down in Charlotte, NC earlier this month, Sue's childhood friend's husband backed into the rear door panel with his SUV. $1200 worth of crush and paint. The body shop has had it since Monday. No problem though. Sue takes Metro to work, and I don't leave the house, so the car rarely goes anywhere these days except on weekends occasionally.




"Ignorance and virtue suck on the same straw. Souls grow on bones, but die beneath bankers' hours.""