Monday, June 30, 2008

Chinatown Bus: Never Again

A trip up to New York, to see the work of Olafur Eliasson at the MoMA before it closed, was overshadowed by a teeth-clenching, white-knuckle ride on the "Chinatown bus." Like many a friend and acquaintance before, I too was suckered in by the low price of the commute. Unlike my friends, I never heeded the warning of buses breaking down on the interstate, U-turns over the median, or the bus catching on fire. Fortunately, these specific events did not occur on the travel.

What did occur?
Bus hit something before leaving the parking lot in DC. Check
Bus nearly sideswiped a semi on I-95. Check
Bus cut off a semi. Check
Bus constantly changed lanes driving upwards of 75 MPH on the interstate. Check
Bus driver often driving with one hand while eating peanuts. Check
Or, talking on his cell phone. Check
Bus was late for the return. Check
Got yelled at in Chinese. Check
Bus broke down before leaving NYC. Check
Bus driver smoking while driving. Check

As a list, it doesn't look that bad. Most passengers seemed oblivious to the fact they were sitting in a death trap that weaved across three lanes of traffic like a novice learning to saddle stitch. But, whatever man! It's a $6 ticket! This price would explain the lack of toilet paper in both the DC Chinatown office, and the lack of toilet paper on the bus.

The AM bus departed from DC at 8:00 AM. The return was at 3:30 AM. Same bus driver. I hope he had a nap at some point.

The best part: an emergency stop at a NJ rest stop to swap commuters from one bus to another. Prior to the bus breaking down in NYC, there was some confusion if the bus was going to DC or Philly. Turns out it went to both. But, after an hour on the interstate, the bus I was on (let's call it Bus A) pulled over into the rest stop to tell commuters to DC to get on another bus (let's call it Bus B). Those en route to Philly on Bus B disembarked for Bus A , and those of us on Bus A headed to Balt/DC disembarked for Bus B. The goal was apparently some sort of time saving strategy.

Once settled on Bus B, Driver A and Driver B held a little conference in Bus B about something. It was at this time that Driver A decided to yell at a passenger seated behind Driver B, complete with pantomimed kicking and vulgarity. The lady was confused. Passengers were becoming unsettled. And, the look of utter shock and horror saturated the face of Driver B as he tried to stop the unsolicited assault of verbal abuse spewing from Driver A.

The Eliasson show? Enlightening. And Buckminster Fuller at The Whitney made me feel smarter. But, all of this got left behind on East Broadway, sometime between 9:45 and 11:00 PM.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Carlin, 71, Now With Joe Pesci


The attached video should explain the titles (but you have to go through 7:29 of bull s***).

I don't recall what age I began listening to his comedy routines on HBO, but Carlin had a way with language, analogies, and utilizing solecism that was new (to me at the young age of 10, 11, or 12), and always refreshing. My recent series of painting - Four Letter Words - was inspired, in part, by his Supreme Court case on obscenity in 1978.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

I've Got Blister's on My Fingers!


The quote from John Lennon seems most appropriate. Pictured are 200 stretched 8"x8" canvases for an upcoming exhibition (with Mark Cameron Boyd) at the Athenaeum in mid August. I stretched 1/4 of them this evening.

I know! There are machines that can do that. Like Vader, am I more machine now, than man? Maybe. But, there is aback story to this that has stretched my patience (as well as caused me to stretch a bunch of canvas). Initially I ordered approximately 300 pre-stretched canvases from Art Supply Warehouse in mid April. When they had not arrived by late May I gave them a call.
It seems my canvases were on backorder and would not reach the warehouse until mid July.

"Where are they on backorder from? China?" I said, incredulously.
"Yes sir," the operator replied. "It takes a while for the barge to cross the Pacific."

I ordered pre-stretched canvases because I calculated (rather liberally by some estimates) that it would take 24 hours to assemble 1200 stretcher bars, cut 300 canvas squares and stretch 300 canvases. This does not also account for placing 600 D-rings on the backs. So, I guess by virtue of the associative property, I'm more Chinese now, than man - or, something like that - because my studio definitely felt like a sweat shop this evening a I stretched 50 canvases in two hours (to the tunes of ( ) by Sigur Ros and l'Orchestra di Piazza Vittorio).

Sadly, when I had to default to stretcher bars and canvases I couldn't complete the full order. 6 boxes of stretcher bars are on back order - from China. Does it mean I have no soul if I state for the record that I hope they aren't coming from the Sichuan province?

Monday, June 09, 2008

Assassinating Another Art (Media) Whore

ArtsJournal pinged a June 6th Washington Post article on Yazmany Arboleda, who recently had some brew-ha-ha with the NYPD and Secret Service over the titles of his recent "Assassination" exhibitions (featuring Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Obama), which is an effort to assassinate character through sexist and racist stereotypes. I'd thought to comment on it, but since my last rant was regarding the "abortion" of art at Yale, I don't think it is necessary to dedicate a bunch of key strokes to bemoaning a guy in NYC who claims he wants to "raise a dialog" by making an exhibition of a couple dick jokes. I link to the "exhibitions" simply because everyone likes a train wreck. The WaPo article is also a great essay on how to get free publicity.

Instead, I turn my attention to our wonderful planet earth. BoingBoing.net pinged a snapshot of the planet and moon from Mars via NASA. Better still is this image of the earth-rise from the moon. A few weeks back I was doing a preliminary interview with a second visually impaired student at AU. He was sighted until the age of seven and stated that the only thing that saddens him about being blind is missing the ecstasy of looking at art.

Ecstasy.

Seldom do I hear or read anyone discussing art with that term: a word so simply structured and yet a state of being so difficult to achieve. I find no ecstasy in the "art" of Arboleda.
I doubt anyone does. Nor would anyone be capable of having a serious dialog about the work or comprehensive dialog about the real issues (which is missing from his exhibition).

I do find ecstasy from seeing the earth captured 88 million miles away. From that perspective, $4/gal gasoline also seems insignificant.