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The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. But no price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself.

Friedrich Nietzsche

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I am calling this new painting, a 30″ by 24″ canvas, Maverick. I hesitated about using that particular word for a bit, as it seemed a bit tainted for me by a certain past vice-presidential candidate from outside the lower 48 states. But it’s too good a word to let that person’s use of the word spoil it. A maverick is just a consciously active nonconformist, someone who makes the choice to separate themselves from the herd.

I think many of us would like to think of ourselves as nonconformists or mavericks. But I don’t know how many of us ever really deserve that label.

I know that I certainly don’t see myself as one, at least in the true sense of the word. I find myself all too often bending to the will of the crowd and staying in line. Oh, I still try to have my way and to do what I want in the manner that I want but I try to keep it low key without flaunting it or unnecessarily stepping on toes.

Maybe if you were able to use an adjective in front of the word. An anxious nonconformist or a fretting maverick. Maybe then I would put myself in that category.

And even then, probably not. I mean, what kind of maverick cares what they are called? They just want to do their thing without any hassle and the opinions of others be damned.

And that’s kind of what I see here with the Red Tree on a rocky outcropping away from the other multi-colored entities that seem to be primarily focused on the issues of themselves and their neighbors. Looking at the lower part of this piece reminds me of a microscope image of the endoplasm of an amoeba as it pulses and churns. It all seems inward and involved only with what is around it. It can’t see much beyond its own cell walls whereas the Red Tree, having freed itself from those struggles, is able to focus on other matters- the sea, the sky, the sun, and its place in that realm. A perspective that encompasses things well beyond itself.

Well, that’s my opinion. If you’re a maverick you most likely won’t give much of a damn what I think. Good for you.

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anvil-and-hammerLast night I heard journalist/historian Jon Meacham say in reference to [he-who-shall-not-be-named-here] that character is destiny.”

He pointed out that in his studies of past presidencies, ascending to the office of president only magnified the man’s character already in place.  At the end of their term, the person leaving the office is at their core the same person who entered.

It is not a comforting thought.

Not comforting when you consider the inaugural address he gave, one that George Will (the epitome of conservatism and not liberal in any sense of the word) called most dreadful inaugural address in history.  It so mirrored the inherent dishonesty of his character that the Washington Post actually felt compelled to fact-check it.  It was, as with everything he says,  filled with falsehoods and fear-instilling hyperbole and devoid of all sense of hope or unifying grace.

I’m glad I didn’t watch a single minute of this dark day in our history.

I will not legitimize this faux presidency.

This may offend some people.  Well, most of these same people decided with this election that what they believed was greater than the truth, that facts no longer mattered.

So, in keeping with that rule, while his presidency may exist, I do not believe it to be legitimate.

Unlike [he-who-shall-not-be-named-here] I am willing to take responsibility for my words and actions.  If by some miracle, he changes his stated course and works tirelessly for the good and rights of all Americans, I will admit my mistake.  Gladly.

But given the thought that character is destiny, I don’t think you’ll be hearing my apology any time soon.

Cheri asked me earlier in the week if I was going to be watching the inauguration.  I told her that I would rather place a body part on an anvil and play the Anvil Chorus on it with an 8 pound hammer.  I am not saying what body part to which I was referring.

I could have meant my hand. Get your mind out of the gutter!

To illustrate my point here’s a clip from The Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles as they perform the Anvil Chorus from Verdi’s Il Trovatore.

 

 

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john-dean-time-1973-cover

Time Magazine Cover 1973

In Trump, Dean says he has observed many of his former boss’s most dangerous traits—obsessive vengefulness, reflexive dishonesty, all-consuming ambition—but none of Nixon’s redeeming qualities.

–McKay Coppins, The Atlantic interview with John Dean, January 17, 2017

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Think about that– all of Nixon’s worst traits without any of his redeeming qualities.

Without any of Nixon’s redeeming qualities.

That’s from an interesting article I read online yesterday from The Atlantic.  It was an interview with John Dean, best known for being the White House Counsel for Richard Nixon during the early 1970’s Watergate period.  He was called the master manipulator of the Watergate break-in and  cover up and spent only a short sentence in Federal custody in exchange for his testimony against Nixon.

He is a man who knows corruption and abuse of power from a unique perspective. So, his words on the prospects for the next four years with [he-who-will-not-be-named-here] gave me pause this morning.

I found it very unsettling and confirming of many things that I have been thinking on my own. Best summed up in one line: He is not only convinced that [he-who-will-not-be-named-here] will be worse than Nixon in virtually every way—he thinks he’ll probably get away with it.

We are looking at an authoritarian personality with basically no checks and balances on his every whim, a realization that will fully come into perspective once he enters the White House.  There is nothing to stand against him– only an inept and weak-willed House and Senate filled with people who would be better described as entrepreneurs than statesmen.  By that I mean they are more interested in serving their own short term self interests than the long term betterment of the nation.  More concerned with their own finances and maintaining their status than with concepts such as justice, rightness or ethics. They offer little, if any, resistance to a like-minded entity.

Plus, the effectiveness and power of the press has been marginalized, cut into narrower and narrower slivers of influence and constantly berated and belittled. There is no small group of trusted news organizations that can fully keep the nation’s eye focused on the work– good or bad– being done in its name.

Add to this a public that has lost all sense of shame and the ability to be shocked.  We accept and even expect the worst behavior from our fellow humans.  The behavior of [he-who-will-not-be-named-here] in his life prior to and during the presidential campaign, as well as his time as the president-elect, have been a sideshow of human awfulness.  It has been filled with outright lies, provocations and the boorish of a sore winner .

His is a character which knows no shame, has no self control and is ultra-vindictive, needing to respond to every perceived slight. One that has never shown empathy nor displayed any selflessness.  He has always denied responsibility for his words and actions, choosing every time to find someone else on who he can place blame.  He cannot tolerate any opposition– you are either with him fully or his enemy. Hardly the uniting force we need.

You know, I can’t think of a single trait in his character that I find admirable or would advise a child to emulate.

Yet, his actions and character is overlooked, accepted and even embraced by a great many people, some who claim to be people of faith.

He is now the face, the voice and the definition of our nation.

And of our collective shame.
When you put these things together– a borderline personality with no checks on his power, an ineffectual press and an uncaring public — it leads to one thing– an authoritarian state.

I didn’t say Fascist or Nazi. We haven’t taken that path. Yet. But we have all the earmarks of an authoritarian governance, one that look democratic in nature and has a facade of freedom.  Remember, Russia is considered a democratic nation but no one considers it anything more than an authoritarian state.  And an authoritarian state faced with circumstances beyond its control, say a terrorist attack here in this country, can spiral into other darker forms pretty quickly.

And [he-who-will-not-be-named-here] has an authoritarian personality, much like Nixon but without any sense of shame. As  noted in the article:

“I used to have one-on-one conversations with [Nixon] where I’d see him checking his more authoritarian tendencies,” Dean recalled. “He’d say, ‘This is something I can’t say out loud…’ or, ‘That is something the president can’t do.’” To Dean, these moments suggested a functioning sense of shame in Nixon, something he was forced to wrestle with in his quest for power. [He-who-will-not-be-named-here], by contrast, appears to Dean unmolested by any such struggle.

Dean also sees an extreme that is cause for concern in this upcoming president: “I don’t think Richard Nixon even comes close to the level of corruption we already know about [he-who-will-not-be-named-here].”

The final two paragraphs are not much more encouraging:

Add to all this the realities of the current political landscape, and Dean says [he-who-will-not-be-named-here] will almost certainly weather whatever storms he faces during his presidency. “Unless [he-who-will-not-be-named-here] is a such a disaster that the public rises up and changes control of Congress in the mid-term elections, he is very safe.”

Dean is less sure, however, of how the republic will look at the end of a [he-who-will-not-be-named-here] presidency. “By nature, I am an optimist,” he told me. “But [he-who-will-not-be-named-here] as president is going to be about surviving disaster.”

We all never thought this could happen.  The majority of us thought our collective logic would take care of such a prospect.  But we were dead wrong.  We think that the idea of justice and the constitutional checks on the power of the presidency will prevail over rash actions that might happen in the near future.  But there is no assurance of that in this climate.  Our hope, as Dean points out, is in taking back a measure of power in 2018 via the mid-term elections to create a check on his power. And working onward from there.

It ain’t gonna be easy, folks.  Once a critter like that gets hold of something to their liking, they don’t want to let go. It’s going to be a fight so we must learn to relish the battle and be relentless.

Round One begins today. So buckle up, put in your mouth guard and let the good times roll.

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dr-seuss-new-years-day-cover-1931I thought that the image from this cover painted by Dr. Seuss for Judge magazine for its first issue of 1931 might fit today’s situation here in the USA, at least in the view of many folks.  It shows a New Year’s reveler waking up to find a creature in his bed.  The prior night–the year before– it had looked pretty good.  Lots of fun and lots of promises of all the things it would do for him. But here in the bright light of the New Year he realizes that the party is over now and he is left with a monster on his hands — and little idea of what to do with it.

What comes next with this strange creature we have found in our bed?

I also thought long and hard about what music I wanted to use for this first Sunday Morning Music of 2017.  I wanted it to be as optimistic as possible given the circumstances of having a strange critter in our bed.  I thought that the first version of Singin’ in the Rain might fit the bill just perfectly.

It was from 1929 and was a number one hit for performer Cliff Edwards, better known as Ukelele Ike, who had a number of hits through the 20’s and 30’s.  While the name Ukelele Ike may not seem familiar in any way I have no doubt you have heard his voice at some point.  He was the voice of Jiminy Cricket in Walt Disney’s Pinocchio and is the voice of the song When You Wish Upon a Star.

This version is from one of the first musicals from MGM in the talkie era, The Hollywood Revue of 1929.  You most likely know the song from the later and great musical of the same name ( which featured the recently passed Debbie Reynolds) but this is a great version.  It has a forward looking outlook despite the wet and dreary circumstances of the moment.  Just what people would be needing in the years after 1929.

And 2017.

Remember that it’s an old piece of film and try to look past the somewhat crude production values of the time.  It was cutting edge back then.  And it’s still a great piece of film now.

Oh, I also enclosed another Ukelele Ike number from a 1935 film, Starlit Days at the Lido.  It’s an early Technicolor film so it looks worlds different than the first film.  The song is Hang on to Me which is also a great song for the moment.

Enjoy! Take a look then let’s get to work and get that thing out of our bed!

 

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I don’t think I would be out of line in saying that there has been a coarsening of our public discourse over the past decade or so. Compassion, empathy and compromise, cornerstones of the history and growth of our nation, have somehow become a symbols of weakness.  We have taken the bait and allowed our wildest fears to dictate our actions, make us accept the craziest propositions and set aside our reason and logic.  

We have lost sight of the fact that our strength was never about simple brute force.  Our strength came from our idealism– things like equality and opportunity– and our courage in doing what was right.  Heroic qualities.

But it seems we have lost all sense of the heroic.

I thought I’d share this post from about 8 years back that features a favorite painting of mine and addresses those heroic qualities.

GC Myers- Legendary Heart 2006

This is a painting from a few years back that always sticks in my memory. There are many things I like about this piece, many things which I think make it notable but the part that sticks most with me is its title. It’s  Legendary Heart.

I suppose the title visually came from the shape of the tree’s crown or maybe it was something in the atmosphere of the piece that suggested the name. I’m not sure exactly except to say that I have always seen something quite heroic in this piece.

What do I mean by that? What is heroic?

Oh, it’s easy to define heroism in terms of combat or competition, the obvious examples for displays of courage and bravery.   Soldiers racing forward through a hail of bullets to capture an enemy or save his comrades, a fireman climbing into a burning building to rescue a child or even a competitor fighting through injury to bring about a victory– all are truly heroic.

To me however, this piece speaks to the root form of heroism,  the element that defines all heroism, from the most glorious to the most mundane  everyday variety that often  goes unnoticed.

I’m talking about self-sacrifice.

Heroism is the giving of  yourself to and for others.  Whether it’s a soldier or rescuer risking their safety so that others may be saved, a parent putting aside their own self interests for the benefit of their children or person who sacrifices their time and fortune for the betterment of those who truly need their help– all are heroic in terms of self-sacrifice.

Heroism is not about amassing accolades or wealth.  It’s about amassing a wealth of spirit and that that can only be achieved, paradoxically, through giving, not taking. It’s about shedding the greed and meanness of spirit that dwells deep within us, side by side with our sense of charity and courage, in some cases pushing aside these better traits and overtaking our characters.  We are living in a time where this has happened all too often.

The heroic is in compassion and empathy, not in domination of any sort.  It is in having the courage to let the better parts of our character shine.

We could all use a little of this courage.  I think many of us are always on a sort of hero’s journey, trying to find this bit of good while fighting back our baser demons. Occasionally, even momentarily, it appears to us and we feel nourished, strengthened  enough to continue forward.

That’s what I see when I look at this painting. Oh, it’s a striking image but it’s the message that I glean from it that makes it stand out and whenever I see this painting, on a computer screen or in my mind, I am reminded to keep moving forward, to hold strongly to my own compassion and empathy.

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GC Myers- Where the Circle MeetsI am calling this new painting, an 18″ by 24″ canvas, Where the Circle Meets.  I am thinking of that part of a circle where the beginning starts and the end terminates, doing so constantly and endlessly through cycle after cycle until one is almost indistinguishable from the other.  The beginning contains the end and the  end contains a beginning.

I tend to think of us going through our lives in this sort of karmic cycle, one where we endlessly loop round and round through days and experiences as we go along.  Hopefully, as each cycle comes around we take something from that last turn to make the next one easier and more fulfilling.  Perhaps we shed bad intentions and selfishness.  Or look away from the dark and toward the light.

And I do see this in this painting.  There is a movement from darker to lighter tones as you move into this piece.  Around the bend  in the stream, the sun hovers above the horizon, bringing light which is shown in the form of pulsing beams of energy.

We live our lives in cycles and with that comes the opportunity to know that each cycle’s ending holds the promise of a new beginning.  The trick is in recognizing this and using learned knowledge to make the next one better from the beginning.

I may not be putting this very eloquently this morning.  Perhaps I am too tired or my mind is a bit fuzzy this morning. But regardless of that, I hope you’ll take a look and try to see what I am saying with this piece.

This painting is included in my show, Part of the Plan, which opens at the Kada Gallery in Erie, PA on October 29th.

 

 

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GC Myers- Adagio in BlueWow.

That’s about anyone can say after these last few days, days which may go down as some of the craziest ever seen in the history of our nation.  I am not going to say much here on the subject of candidate Trump.  There’s not much to say except that this is not a big shocker to me.  I’ve said it before: Trump has shown us who and what he is repeatedly over the past decades.

If you are surprised by any revelation about this creature– I hesitate to use the word man in this case– that has come out (or any that is bound to emerge because I have to believe there is plenty more in the bullpen just waiting patiently to be unleashed) then you haven’t been watching closely enough.  Either that or you are, as my father likes to say– even in his current state of Alzheimer’s–among  the most gullible people on the face of the earth.

And for those out there waking up this morning still believing that Trump is some kind of positive answer or agent of change, I feel pity for them.  That kind of denial of reality can only point to a life that will be further filled with anger, hatred and discontent.

And that is a sad thing for them. And for those around them. And for this country.

Okay, enough said on that for now.  I need some comforting on this ominously quiet Sunday morning.  The painting at the top is a new 9″ by 12″ canvas that is part of my upcoming show at the Kada Gallery which opens October 29.  I call this piece Adagio in Blue.  It has a calming presence in its colors and composition that fulfills my needs this morning.  I am coupling it with a classical piece this morning, the Adagio from Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 23 as played by French pianist Hélène Grimaud.  It’s a beautiful piece and a well produced video presentation.

Think of it as a peaceful respite from the crap storm cutting through our political world at the moment.  Relax and try to have a good day.

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