Archive for the ‘Current Events’ Category

The Deer

Sun-bleached bones were most wonderful against the blue – that blue that will always be there as it is now after all man’s destruction is finished.

-Georgia O’Keeffe

It’s the first day of deer hunting season here. I watched two young bucks a few minutes ago in front of the studio. One was very young and small with two prongs jutting from its head while the other was older and heavier. His rack was larger, 8 points, I think. There was a familiarity between them and they bumped heads in the way bucks do when they joust for dominance except that this was gentle and almost instructive. The little guy jumped backward and the larger one went back to grazing.

Then a third buck appeared, heavier through its shoulders and neck with a rack that was thicker than the buck that was already here. This newcomer immediately took umbrage at the little guy and chased him around a bit and finally up into the pine forest that surrounds my studio. He paid no attention at all to the other buck. He came out of the forest with a twiggy branch tangled in his rack, dangling out in front of his head.

He then looked at the lone doe on site as she grazed with her hind quarters to him. He slowly advanced towards her in a comical manner. If this were a cartoon he would be tip-toeing towards her with that branch acting as some sort of goofy camouflage. But she took notice and ducked under one of my large rhododendron bushes, leaving him there alone. He put down his head to eat at the grass and the branch dropped free.

I look out now and he’s still there, looking around. I silently send him my best wishes for the next few perilous weeks. There is always a little anxiety at this time of the year for these ones that I know so well. I have seen so many of these deer on a daily basis for years that I recognize some quite well, having watched many of them grow from tiny fawns to strong bucks and does. And I think they recognize me as well and have a certain comfort level with me and this place.

It makes me feel a bit protective of these beautiful creatures. Be careful out there and stay safe, my friends. I’m talking to the deer, of course, but if you are a hunter the same advice goes out to you.


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The waves broke and spread their waters swiftly over the shore. One after another they massed themselves and fell; the spray tossed itself back with the energy of their fall. The waves were steeped deep-blue save for a pattern of diamond-pointed light on their backs which rippled as the backs of great horses ripple with muscles as they move. The waves fell; withdrew and fell again, like the thud of a great beast stamping.

― Virginia WoolfThe Waves


I was planning on showing this painting, The Green Wave, at some point in the future. It’s from French painter Georges Lacombe  (1868-1916) who was part of Les Nabis, a painting group heavily influenced by the work of Paul Gauguin. I am a big admirer of many of the painters, including Lacombe,  associated with this group.

As I said, this was planned for sometime in the future but yesterday’s results in elections around the country prompted me to want to show it today. It was heartening, a big ray of light in the darkness, to have the people of Virginia show up in a big way and make a big statement against what has been happening this past year carrying the Dems to statewide victories. They rejected Ed Gillespie‘s attempt at copying 45*’s  playbook of divisive rhetoric, giving Ralph Northam a landslide victory in the race for governor and won the majority of the down ballot races.

And it wasn’t just Virginia. Across the country Dems, Independents and disillusioned Republicans made very much the same statement– what is happening is not who we are. Longtime GOP seats were flipped in places that were thought to be bulletproof. If the members of the GOP in the house and senate don’t take notice and begin to act responsibly and in the best interest of the country and their true constituents– not the fat cat donors who line their pockets– they most likely will be swept away by this same wave when it comes around next year.

I can’t think of much, if anything, to say positively about the person who some call our president. But I do thank him for waking people up, for making so many more people take an active interest in what has been taking place while we all allowed ourselves to be distracted. They have been energized and yesterday’s victories demonstrates that real results can occur with focused resistance.

And that will only serve to strengthen the resolve of those who are going to make up the coming wave. This wave cracked the seawall. That was shown yesterday but a bigger wave is out there, restlessly waiting to unleash its full fury.

Like a great beast stamping.

A year ago on this day, that election left many of us thinking that this country was beyond saving, that we had succumbed to our lowest qualities. Hatred. Greed. Selfishness. Fear.

But people have come together to take action and to make their voices heard. So be encouraged this morning  but do not relax, don’t think your responsibility has ended in one day or one small act. You snooze, you lose.

Instead, be even more involved. Double your efforts. Add your full force to the gathering wave and let everyone know what is coming.

Like a great beast stamping.


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November 5, 26 dead so far in the Sutherland, Texas church shooting.

October 1, 58 dead in the Las Vegas shooting.

September 10, 9 killed in a Plano, Texas shooting. You probably don’t even remember that one.

And I’m not even mentioning the truck attack last week in NYC. Who knows what December will bring? I would like to believe that we won’t end the year with a bang but… well, you know.

I’m watching coverage of this latest shooting and I already feel that it is being pushed to the back of our collective consciousness. These events are normal now. They have their own pattern, their own rhythm and cycle that they follow, one that we have witnessed hundreds of times before.

So many times that the horror we feel is beginning to feel feigned, just thrown out there as an surface act of civility while in our minds we have already began the process of forgetting.

Unfortunately, even when we turn away, it’s hard to find evidence that we aren’t living in a mad world. And there is no solace in the empty words of our titular leaders, an administration that is treating this country like a company that it acquired in a hostile takeover. That’s where the new owners come in and liquidate any viable assets for themselves, leaving the company a broken shell.

You know, it’s going to be a year since the election in just a couple of days and I firmly believe that the actions of this administration have exceeded my fears. I thought they would be a little more discreet in their underhandedness but it seems like every day they reach a new level of audacity and corruption, both real and moral, that is breathtaking to behold.

And some of us still defend them. And this acceptance, this normalization, provides a perfect backdrop for our acts of violence against each other.

Just another day in this mad world.

I played this song six months ago in a different context but on the all too many days like this, I find it running on a loop in my mind. It’s Gary Jules’ version of the Tears For Fears song, Mad World. Interesting video. Have a good day and don’t let this mad world become your normal.

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Keeping Hope, Again

I have been filled with a dark and foreboding anxiety lately.  It’s even deeper and darker than the uneasiness and apprehension that has been with me for the past year as I watch the fabric of this country seem to unravel before my eyes. In recent weeks I get the sense that we are nearing a tipping point, that without some sort of dramatic change in our course forward we may find ourselves at a time and place from which there may be no recovery. 

At least in a peaceful and orderly manner.

I know this sounds hyperbolic but I feel that even darker days may be ahead. 

It’s easy to lose grip on our hope in these times, to feel our own humanity slip away only to be replaced by fear, anger and paranoia. That is something that seems evident by observing the growing division and incivility taking place in day to day life. 

As bad as it seems, I am reminded of an entry posted here several years back soon after the death of historian and social activist Howard Zinn. It was about the need to behave as a real human in the darkest of times, if only to remind us of those better qualities that we are struggling to maintain. The world may be dark and darkening with each passing moment, but kindness and compassion have the power to create moments of light that defy the shadows that creep over us and to give us a renewed energy to go on.

It’s short–less than the blather I’ve written here to introduce it– but it is worth a moment to absorb it. The last paragraph is a gem.

To be hopeful in bad times is not just foolishly romantic. It is based on the fact that human history is a history not only of cruelty, but also of compassion, sacrifice, courage, kindness.

What we choose to emphasize in this complex history will determine our lives. If we see only the worst, it destroys our capacity to do something. If we remember those times and places — and there are so many — where people have behaved magnificently, this gives us the energy to act, and at least the possibility of sending this spinning top of a world in a different direction.

And if we do act, in however small a way, we don’t have to wait for some grand utopian future. The future is an infinite succession of presents, and to live now as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory.

——Howard Zinn


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I was thinking of something in a Halloween theme for today’s Sunday Morning Music.  But I changed my mind when I realized that after the last year in this country it had become an ironic holiday. Or at least overkill because every day feels like Halloween and at some point on most days I find myself screaming at the sky in horror.

All tricks and no treats.

Why the hell do I want to celebrate that?

So, I’m gonna go in a different direction (note the Chagall print at the top– not scary, right?) and play a song, White Bird, from 1968 from the San Francisco based group, It’s  a Beautiful Day. They never achieved the same kind of fame as the other bands– Jefferson Airplane, Santana and the Grateful Dead–who came out of SF’s 1967 Summer of Love. but this song is pretty captivating in tone with it’s soaring violin from David LaFlamme, who re-released a version of the song a decade later under his name. That’s where I first heard the song.

Give a listen and have a good day. And if you hear a blood-curdling scream in the woods around my studio, don’t worry– it’s just another day in Halloween Land.

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My father suffers from Alzheimer’s dementia and is a resident at local nursing facility. One of the highlights of my frequent visits there is when he is flipping through the channels on his TV and comes upon a shot of the president(*) of this country.

It stirs him, producing a most visceral response in him and he almost always snarls out, ” I hate that f!@*&ing guy.

My dad might not know what day it is, how old he is or where he is, but he knows a creep when he sees one. It always makes me laugh and I generally tell him that I feel the same way.

And my agreement with him might never be stronger than it is this morning as I watch this creep attempt to dismantle the healthcare system in a reckless way that most likely will hurt many people in healthcare facilities like my dad. That will hurt scores of working class families who depend on the subsidies to buy health insurance. That will put more and more Americans at risk.

This spoiled man-baby’s lack of empathy is breathtaking. You see it everyday in his actions and his inaction.

For instance, his response to Puerto Rico is beyond reprehensible and immoral. It is a shameful black mark on this country.

Another example is his silence on the tragic fires in California, not to mention the same for earlier fires that terrorized much of the west.

Or take the fact that he has yet to say or tweet a single word about the four US troops killed in an ambush by an ISIS affiliate in Niger. This blob of ego uses his support for the troops as a political tool of division yet instead of meeting one of the troops when their flag draped casket came home to Dover, he played golf at his club with a Senator on that day.

Not a single solitary word to honor those troops. Yeah, he’s got your backs.

There are so many other examples of his lack of empathy, his narcissism, his greedy self-serving actions, his barely covered scorn for people of color, his need for retribution and revenge, his lack of personal responsibility, his total lack of actual ideas,his ignorance of policy and our constitution and his stupidity in general.

Yes, he is a f@!*#ing moron, as his Secretary of State Rex Tillerson so eloquently stated. And that f@!*#ing moron is the face of our nation now.

People said they wanted change. Well, they got it, in the same way you get change when you drive your car into a tree.

Yeah, I know that 9 billion dollars for health subsidies for the working class is a lot of money. As are the billions of dollars required to help folks rebuild their lives in the wake of the horrific storms and fires the past few months. But a tax cut that overwhelmingly favors the top 1% and explodes our deficit by a trillion and a half dollars is somehow equitable.

I know, I know. Shut up and paint.  And I will do that in minute.

I just need to vent periodically. Some vitriol sparks creativity and some destroys it. I find that holding it in is not conducive to my work. Nor is ignoring the things taking place around us. I preach transparency and honesty now so I would be wrong to avoid the subject, to parse my words to not insult those people out there who somehow can accept the actions of administration and can’t see the damage being done to our nation or the future that it portends.

In short, when I see my dad today and he says his piece on this person, I am going to tell him that he’s being too easy on him.

Okay, thanks for making it this far. Here’s the payoff: a 1901 film, Fat and Lean Wrestling Match, from French film pioneer George Melies. I love his early effects and the sense of fun and wonder he creates. A good way to clear the palette.

I am going to shut up and paint now.

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Don’t have much to say this morning and I’m fumbling around the internet looking for something that sparks my imagination. I did come across the painting above from F.H. Varley (1881-1969) who was part of the famed Canadian Group of Seven painters, a highly influential gathering of landscape painters in the 1920’s and 30’s.

This piece is called Untitled (Mist and Sunset) and is from around 1930. It’s a bit looser than most of Varley’s other work, which I will highlight here at some point, but the expressiveness of it really spoke to me. Something very right about this piece, at least for me. Those bits of light in the center, which might be ( or not be) sunlight on the caps of waves, give the piece an ethereal feel that gives me pause this morning.

It reminds me that I wanted to mention the passing of Tom Petty the other day which was somewhat overlooked on another bad and black news day. I had been following and listening to Petty since the 70’s with Breakdown still being a personal favorite. Some of his songs have become part of the soundtrack of my life and hearing them sparks personal memories and times long past. He was always rock solid and it seemed like everything he released never let you down.

It all felt honest and part of who he was as an artist and a person. All you can ask…

Here’s his You Don’t Know How It Feels. I guess that is the basis for all art — making people know how you feel– from his music to the Varley painting above.

Good travels to you, Tom…


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