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“They are all in the same category, both those who are afflicted with fickleness, boredom and a ceaseless change of purpose, and who always yearn for what they left behind, and those who just yawn from apathy. There are those too who toss around like insomniacs, and keep changing their position until they find rest through sheer weariness. They keep altering the condition of their lives, and eventually stick to that one in which they are trapped not by weariness with further change but by old age which is too sluggish for novelty. There are those too who suffer not from moral steadfastness but from inertia, and so lack the fickleness to live as they wish, and just live as they have begun. In fact there are innumerable characteristics of the malady, but one effect – dissatisfaction with oneself. This arises from mental instability and from fearful and unfulfilled desires, when men do not dare or do not achieve all they long for, and all they grasp at is hope: they are always unbalanced and fickle, an inevitable consequence of living in suspense. They struggle to gain their prayers by every path, and they teach and force themselves to do dishonourable and difficult things; and when their efforts are unrewarded the fruitless disgrace tortures them, and they regret not the wickedness but the frustration of their desires. Then they are gripped by repentance for their attempt and fear of trying again, and they are undermined by the restlessness of a mind that can discover no outlet, because they can neither control nor obey their desires, by the dithering of life that cannot see its way ahead, and by the lethargy of a soul stagnating amid its abandoned hopes.”

― Seneca, On the Shortness of Life



I was reading an article that referenced the essay De Brevitate Vitae ( On the Shortness of Life) from the Stoic philosopher Seneca that written sometime around 49 AD. The passage above really struck me because it seemed to describe the dissatisfaction so many people have with their lives and the actions that result from this.

I can’t quite put my finger on it but it feels like the underlying current of what we’re seeing take place these days in this country. I have tried to discern what the desired outcome for the insurrectionists is or what drove them to act as a violent mob and I keep coming up with blanks.

What do they want?

They are not the downtrodden nor poor. They are not voiceless or without political power. There’s a high probability that most of them have livelihoods and assets that place them well above that of the average American. They are not trying to gain rights for themselves or others that have been denied. They are not fighting injustice.

And if they succeed, they have no plans for a future. Certainly not a future that will be in any way better.

All they have is anger and dissatisfaction with their lot in life. As entitled and privileged as they are, their lives lack purpose, lack meaning. It is a spoiled and bored existence, devoid of real consequences for bad behavior and fortified by the highs and unreality of video games and action flicks combined with conspiratorial bravado and cosplay costuming.

And that’s a recipe for disaster. 

This is just an observation this morning. Like I said, I am not sure I have a finger on what really is behind it. I am just trying to understand it so that I can begin to make sense of what I am seeing.

Still not there.

Here’s a topical song, Unsatisfied, a favorite of mine from The Replacements and their great 1984 album Let It Be.

Be careful out there and have a good day.



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We are living through a revolt against the future. The future will prevail.

–Anand Giridharadas, The Ink, January 15, 2021



The words above are the final line in a what I believe to be a brilliant essay from writer Anand Giridharadas that was posted a couple of days ago on his blog, The.Ink that bears the heading We are falling on our face because we are jumping high. I hope you’ll click on the link and read this short essay.

In it, he observes that the chaos that we are experiencing is not the chaos that often comes with the beginning of something but is actually the sort that comes with an ending. I have also felt for years that we were watching of the death throes of a certain type of power and control, that those who were predominantly white and male felt they were entitled.

We are falling on our face because we are jumping very high right now. We are trying to do something that does not work in theory.

To be a country of all the world, a country made up of all the countries, a country without a center of identity, without a default idea of what a human being is or looks like, without a shared religious belief, without a shared language that is people’s first language at home. And what we’re trying to do is awesome. It is literally awesome in the correct sense of that word.

This is one of my favorite passages from this essay. To be the country we desire it to be, one that offers equal hope for each of its citizens, is enormously difficult and unlike anything ever done. No nation has ever aspired to so diversely share its rights and governance among all the groups that make up its citizenry.

There are massive challenges and it will not be easy. And in a nation whose default setting is easy, that means we will have to do much more than than that which we normally are accustomed to doing. We will have to work and scrap, to strain far beyond what we believe our limits to be. 

But if it succeeds, we all benefit, all boats are lifted and we all become part and parcel of something great, something unique in human history.

Something of which we can all truly be proud.

Please give Mr. Giridharadas’ essay a read. It is short but potently hopeful. Definitely worth a few minutes.

For this week’s Sunday Morning Music, I am going with a recent tune, Tough to Let Go, from the Drive-By Truckers, whose last couple of albums have been dark and timely.  I think it says a lot about what we are seeing in the chaos of this struggle between those who look to the future and those who want to hold onto an imagined past. Our beliefs, even when we can see that they defy logic and fact, are sometimes tough to leave behind. They continue to haunt us and dictate our actions until we can fully separate ourselves from them.

It’s tough to let go. But it has to happen.

Do something good today.



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For they sow the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind.

Hosea 8:7



‘Everybody, sooner or later, sits down to a banquet of consequences’

— Robert Louis Stevenson



I don’t usually use Bible quotes to open my blog but this was such an obvious equivalent in meaning to the Robert Louis Stevenson words above that I originally intended to use that I decided to go with it in conjunction with the other. 

Actually, the Stevenson quote is not a sentence he has ever put to paper or spoke, to the best of my knowledge. It’s one of those online citations that catch on and become forever attached to a personality.  This misquote is, however, distilled, from words that Stevenson really did write, this from an 1887 essay, Old Mortality.

This is the bit from which the misquote is derived:

Books were the proper remedy: books of vivid human import, forcing upon their minds the issues, pleasures, busyness, importance and immediacy of that life in which they stand; books of smiling or heroic temper, to excite or to console; books of a large design, shadowing the complexity of that game of consequences to which we all sit down, the hanger-back not least.

In the essay before this excerpt he speaks of an older man walking through a graveyard, looking at the monuments, wondering if that was all that remained of a man’s life when he was gone, the only shadows of lives lived. He then above points out that our creations are the real shadows of our lives, that they speak better and with greater complexity of the part we play while alive. The part where he points out that nobody is exempt from participating in that game of consequence called life. Even those who try to stay in the shadows, the hanger-backs as he calls them, are engaged in this game.

Through the years, Stevenson’s game transformed into a banquet which is basically saying that we must eat the meal we prepare.

We reap just what we sow.

Actions have consequences.

And today we may witness a singular day of great historical consequence. The actions of the past four years, the past year, and the past few weeks may come to a head this day, bearing the consequences of the actions of this past period of time.

It may not be an endpoint and it will no doubt have actions that will have consequences of their own but for now a mighty wind has been sown and its whirlwind approaches.

The banquet table may be finally set and we must eat the meal we have put together.

Every one of us.

We will get through this. 

Here’s song from Rival Sons that is basically paraphrasing both these quotes as far as karmic hammers go. It’s Get What’s Coming. It might be  setting the tone for today and the coming weeks for those who will be called on to answer for their actions: When it comes back around you’re get what’s coming.

Pay close attention. It’s going to be a day.



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In the beginning
You really loved me, oh
I was too blind
I could not see, now

But now that you left me
Ooh, how I cried out, I keep crying
You don’t miss your water
‘Till your well runs dry

You Don’t Miss Your Water, William Bell



The painting at the top is a new piece, 9″ by 12″ on canvas, that is headed to the West End Gallery for next month’s annual Little Gems show, which opens February 12. After it was completed, I was really looking deeply at it as I tried to discern what it held so that I could title it. I felt that the scene in it was from the dawn  of the day, the start of the new day.

I normally see this time symbolically as a beginning filled with great potential and optimism, brimming with energy. But there was something else in this piece that didn’t seem to be looking forward. Instead it felt almost remorseful, looking back. For me, I sense this in the Red Tree’s posture toward the rising sun and in the tone and density of the sky’s color.

It’s like the character represented by the Red Tree is trapped between the duty of the coming day and lure of the past and what has been lost.

The feeling of this piece brought to mind a favorite song of mine from Otis Redding, You Don’t Miss Your Water. The first verses are at the top and the first 10-15 seconds of the recording, after the distinct opening chords when Otis first sings “In the beginning,” always sends chills down my spine. Glorious chills.

That’s where the title for this painting originated for me.

The song was originally written and recorded for Stax Records by William Bell in 1961, four years before the Otis version. Bell’s version is wonderful but Otis took the song to another dimension. Interestingly, Bell wrote the song in NYC and it was actually more about his homesickness for his Memphis home than lost love.

And maybe homesickness and the remorse for what is lost in the past plays a part here in this painting. I can’t say for sure and only time will reveal it’s true meaning. Maybe it will take on a whole new demeanor as time passes, as sometimes happens.

That’s the way of art. It is often never fully one thing forever.

But in the beginning…

Anyway, here’s the immortal Otis Redding and You Don’t Miss Your Water.

Have a good day. Keep hope alive.



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“A Time For Reckoning”– Currently At the West End Gallery



We’re barely ten days into the new year and it’s already fed us a heaping helping of the darkly dramatic.

We’ve had elections with enormous ramifications, a seditious president*** booted from nearly all social media, a coup d’etat in our National Capitol that left five dead, and, to top it off, an out of control pandemic that is crushing our health system in some parts of the country. Hard to believe something that is killing 4,000 US citizens a day– and will most likely hit 5,000 in the coming weeks– has been under our radar in recent days.

Such is 2021 this far.

There are ten days until the Biden inauguration.

Ten days. Ten days that may test this nation in a way it has not been tested in anyone’s living memory. 

I do believe we’ll make it through. It won’t be pretty and we won’t come out the side with all 340 million of us holding hands and singing Kumbaya. But we will persevere.

There have been calls for unity from some of the very people who fed into– and profited from– the madness of the insurrection effort that took place this week and still still remains a threat in the coming days. They are somehow demanding from one side of their mouth that it is incumbent on the incoming President to unite us while still trying to push their lies and conspiracies with the other. 

It can’t work that way. You can’t have two contrasting sets of perceived facts, especially when one is grounded on baseless, wild conspiracies and outright lies.

Plus, even if you wanted to appease these insurrectionists, what could you give them that make them willing to unite?

I have absolutely no idea what they want, other than the overturning the results of an election that has been deemed by state and local leaders of both parties across the land as being as fair and transparent an election as we have ever conducted. But other than that, what do they want? They have no discernible ideology. It’s not about gaining rights or righting real wrongs or grievances. 

Their only grievance, the only way they seem to have been wronged, seems to be that they didn’t get what they wanted and won’t accept the fact that there are many more people who don’t hold their opinions.

Honestly, I don’t think they could tell you what it would take to make them happy. I don’t think they know. They just have a blind anger and a sense of grievance that is constantly being fed by leaders who profit from it, both financially and politically.

Look at the people who have fed these conspiracies. They have no ideas, no plans, nor cares for the betterment of all the people of this land. They have blind ambition and a craving for money and pure power. They will say anything, they will outright lie, they will spread any falsehood and conspiracy in an effort to gain and maintain power. No act of blatant hypocrisy is beyond these people.

Unity requires honest discussion based on common sets of facts. You cannot have unity with these kind of leaders* on the other side of the table. Disagreement with one another is acceptable when you can trust that both sides are being genuine in their arguments. But when one side is disingenuous and still spouts lies to incite their followers, unity is impossible.

And that’s a sad and dangerous thing. For all of us.

Sorry. I had no plans to write this this morning. I was simply going to play my normal Sunday Morning Music selection but this just fell out.

Getting back to regular business, here’s a new song from John Fogerty that speaks to the sadness of the moment. It’s titled Weeping in the Promised Land. It’s a pretty powerful song and video.

Pharoah keep a-preachin’ but he never had a plan…

Be careful out there.



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Other arms reach out to me
Other eyes smile tenderly
Still, in peaceful dreams, I see
The road leads back to you, to you, my beautiful Georgia
Georgia, no peace I find
Just an old sweet song keeps Georgia on my mind

Hoagy Carmichael, Georgia on My Mind



Nothing more this morning but a sigh of relief and a big “thank you” to the good people of the state of Georgia. Here’s a strong rendition of the song Georgia on My Mind performed by a collected group of Broadway stars. Lots of talent here.

I was going to play the seminal version from Ray Charles, by far the best known and most powerful single performance of the song which was written in 1930 by Hoagy Carmichael. Willie Nelson also had a sweet quieter version of the song that went to Number 1 on the charts in 1978.

But give a listen and, if you’re so inclined, send out some psychic thanks to our friends in Georgia. 

Have a good day and let an old sweet song keep Georgia on your mind…



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“Exile on Main Street”- At the Principle Gallery



When you’re drunk in the alley, baby with your clothes all torn
When your late night friends leave you in the cold gray dawn
Whoa I just seen so many flies on you
I just can’t brush ’em off

The angels beating all their wings in time
Smiles on their faces and a gleam right in their eyes
Whoa, thought I heard one sigh for you
Come on up now
Come on up now
Come on up now

May the good Lord shine a light on you
Yeah, make every song you sing your favorite tune
May the good Lord shine a light on you
Yeah, warm like the evening sun, ah-nah-nah yeah

— Mick Jagger/Keith Richards, Shine a Light



I am in the beginning phases of my preparation for my annual shows at the galleries that represent my work. This is always a difficult period, trying to find a thread to grasp and follow. You never know where it will lead and what sort of work it will produce. That uncertainty is agonizing for me. Because so much of my livelihood depends on how these shows shake out, deciding what form the work will take is a big move.

I don’t gamble anymore but in some ways, it’s like placing a large bet. I am betting that my choice in moving ahead and the work it will produce will provide the income I need to live and will allow me to maintain my status as an artist deserving of future shows in the galleries that represent me. This decision puts a knot in my gut every year at this time. That awful feeling is the reason I don’t gamble anymore. This is the only bet I am willing to make now.

Getting to that point where I have decided what direction the work will follow is not really a process at all. It’s more like panicked examination of past work and new influences, trying to find something that grabs me, holds my limited focus and can perhaps inspire me. It can be maddening at times but it’s sometimes fun to roll back through the work from the past, to see what clicks as strongly now as it did then. There seems to always be something in doing this that reminds me of things, traits in my work, that I have put aside and no longer employ in my current work. That sometimes leads to revisiting those traits. Sometimes the results are enlightening, making me want to make it part of my process again, and sometimes I discover that the things I was doing then just don’t translate to the current moment.

That’s where I am. Seeking. Looking for a light that shines.

That brings me to today’s title.

While going through some past work, I noticed that one of my favorite pieces from the past year, Exile on Main Street, was still at the Principle Gallery. It was one of the cityscapes that were part of my annual show there, last year’s show being titled Social Distancing. I loved doing this work as well as the resulting pieces. This, as I said, was a favorite from that group. There is warmth and distance, Quiet and tension. Things I tend to see and look for  in my better works.

Naming it, I borrowed the title from the classic 1972 Rolling Stones album, Exile on Main Street. I thought a favorite song of mine from that album would fit my current process– Shine a Light. It’s credits list Mick Jagger and Keith Richards from 1972 as the songwriters but it was actually a collaboration with the late Leon Russell that came from 1968.

The song’s title was then (Can’t Seem) To Get a Line on You and dealt with the problems caused by the drug addiction of Stones’ guitarist Brian Jones. It was recorded as such for inclusion in a 1970 Leon Russell album but not released until the 1990’s. The Russell version (which included the Rolling Stones) is very similar and strong but the version from Exile on Main Street is more formed, more powerful.

I thought the song fit my process and also added a little more to the painting this morning. Give a listen and have a good day.



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That millions of people share the same forms of mental pathology does not make these people sane.

― Erich Fromm, The Sane Society



Wow. Just wow.

There are a lot of different connotations for the word crazy.

It’s used to describe pathological insanity.

Or used to describe situations that are wild and excessive, beyond the norm. That party was crazy!

Or it can describe enthusiasm. I’m crazy about pie. And I am crazy about pie, by the way.

Or it can describe foolishness. I was crazy to think there would be pie.

Or annoyance. Your talking about pie all the time is driving me crazy!

There are probably more. But almost any use of it could be applied to the phone call that was released yesterday. I am not going to get into details, which are all over the news if you’re not yet aware, except to say this is not pie crazy.

It is crazy crazy. Dangerously crazy. Criminally crazy.

The terrible thing is that it’s been this way for the last four years and way too many people have twisted themselves into pretzels and diminished their own integrity in trying to explain, justify, and rationalize their continued backing of this man* and his administration. But the craziness of the revelations of this weekend provide a strong and fitting exclamation point to mark the end of this presidency.

Those who continue to back and believe this man* and the multitude of conspiracies associated with him at this point might want to pause and examine their own state of mind and their personal motivations.

Perhaps ask themselves, “Do I want my name forever associated with this kind of crazy?” They might want to take note of the words at the top from Erich Fromm

History will note their decision.

Unfortunately, this is not yet the absolute end and exclamation point to this presidency***. There are still fifteen days of escalating craziness ahead as this man* tries to hold onto the power and protection of the office. If you don’t think this is a dangerous moment, note that yesterday’s crazy antics overshadowed the release of a letter signed by the 10 living former Secretaries of Defense stating that the elections have been decided and that the military should not under any circumstance be involved in any effort to overturn the results. Not something you see under more normal and saner circumstances.

Yeah, crazy days still ahead.

Here’s some good crazy– no, it’s not pie— to cleanse your palate. A little Patsy Cline with her legendary rendition of the Willie Nelson classic, Crazy.



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You can climb a mountain, you can swim the sea
You can jump into the fire but you’ll never be free
You can shake me up or I can break you down
Oh, oh
We can make each other happy
Oh, we can make each other happy
We can make each other happy
Oh, we can make each other happy

Harry Nilsson, Jump Into the Fire



First Sunday of the new year. This coming first week of 2021 may well be one of the ugliest and most dangerous and undemocratic in our history. There is a lot of treachery at hand from those who would abuse our system and rile deadly passions among the populace for purely selfish gains. While I don’t know what might happen in the coming days, I believe we will survive this stress test. We may take some dings and who knows what lasting damage might be done, but we’ll get through.

We’re at a point where words from anyone, let alone mine, won’t have much effect so lets play the first Sunday song of the 2021. Fittingly, it is Jump Into the Fire from the late great Harry Nilsson.

The complete lyrics are above in all their glory. Among his many talents as a songwriter, Nilsson had a genius for taking simple songs and making them memorably powerful. For example, his CoconutYou put de lime in de coconut, you drink ’em bot’ togedder/ Put de lime in de coconut and you feel better— is a one chord song.

One chord. Even a musical moron like me could play it.

Anyway, here’s the song. The little triptych at the top is from way back in 2002 and is called Waiting For the Fire, a not so subtle commentary on the coming weeks.

Have a good day.



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It’s New Year’s Day. We’ll attempt to shake off the stink and wreckage of the Year 2020, as difficult as that may be, and move into the new year. We see 2021 coming at us all clean and shiny with that new year smell. An optimistic outlook and a year filled with endless possibilities.

Well, that’s the popular belief, what we hold onto in order to get through the day.

Yes, there are brighter days ahead but there are some darker ones as well, especially in the next few months. But we must maintain faith in who we are as a people, believing in truth, equality, and justice. We must have the willpower to reject the ignorance, selfishness, misinformation, and nativist hatred so much on display in recent times. 

Yes, we are off-balance and wounded as we come into this new year. But we have the balance and strength to withstand troubles and if we maneuver the coming days with grace and wisdom, perhaps our optimism will become more tangible and less wishful thinking.

The song, New Year’s Prayer, is from the late Jeff Buckley, who in his short life left us a remarkable version of the Leonard Cohen song, Hallelujah, and much more. This song has a mantra-like feel to it with the phrase … feel no shame for what you are… as a refrain. It doesn’t look forward or back with any hope or regret– it is just in the moment. And that’s how I feel about the turning of this year. What will be, will be.

Wishing you all a good New Year with the hope that feel no shame for what you are.

What we are.



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