Tuesday, March 31, 2009

a coloured affair...

Color Story: Orange and Green

So, while browsing around the web for artsy, creative type stuff and I've noticed an interesting trend amongst interior designers...color stories. Basically, people select colors and display bits of them together (like in an interior designer's mood board) and then show actual pictures of how the color story was used in real life. While as an artist am usually searching for portraits of particular people or fotos of current exhibits in museums worldwide in order to keep current, websites of interior designers and graphic design companies are just as helpful. 

Every element of a painting is critical, not just layout and the relationship of the elements on the canvas with one another but also...the COLORS! I love visuals and I really like the idea of creating a mini mood board for important works of art, kinda like swatches of paint or of fabrics if you were dealing with furniture. 

One of the most interesting creative design companies out there on the web is called inchmark, where they turned this:

Into this:

...pretty fly concept with the paisley print...wonder how it would look on a 24" x 36 canvas...hmmm...i just might have to "borrow" that idea...

“Color possesses me. I don't have to pursue it. It will possess me always, I know it. 
That is the meaning of this happy hour: 
Color and I are one. 
I am a painter"

~Paul Klee


Friday, March 27, 2009

where the wild things are movie...


So they really are making a movie of Maurice Sendak's classic kid lit book,
Where The Wild Things Are? Seems so.

Directed by Spike Jonze this is an adaptation of Maurice Sendak's classic children's story, where Max, a disobedient little boy sent to bed without his supper, creates his own world--a forest inhabited by ferocious wild creatures that crown Max as their ruler. Set to be released October 16th, 2009. 

Can't wait to see it...

with my niece of course...

not by myself...

i mean am a grown ass man...


f*ck it...ticket for one please, kids just fall asleep anyway!

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

it's the law...

Rome, Italy (April 2007)

It's spring again and by spring of course I mean this Eskimo-like weather that has so far been plaguing New York the whole month of March. However, springtime to me means more than warm weather; more importantly it signifies spring break and spring travel!!! While I have my particular favorites (Paris and San Juan) what is interesting are the particulars of the local laws and customs that most visitors (and even local citizens) are unaware of.

OK, so admittedly most of the silly or downright ridiculous laws do come from the United States, but they're certainly not the only ones in the world who have gone down this road. If you're planning to travel anywhere this spring or summer, it's a good idea to learn some of the laws in other countries. Here are some of the more ridiculous laws from other places around the world to keep in mind:

1. It’s illegal to kiss on a railway in France.
2. Patrons are not expected to pay for food at an inn in Denmark unless they are full.
3. In Atlanta, Georgia, it is illegal to tie a giraffe to a telephone pole or street lamp.
4. Don’t imitate any animals in Miami; it’s illegal.
5. It’s illegal to shout offensive words in public in Mexico.
6. Beware when collecting stones or shells from nationally protected beaches. You can be caught at the airport for smuggling or removing archaeologically valuable treasures.
7. Taxi drivers in Finland must pay royalties on music if they play songs for paying customers.
8. It’s illegal to sing in public in Florida if you’re wearing a swimsuit.
9. If you’re driving in Utah, be aware that birds always have the right of way on highways.
10. A man may not stand up to go to the washroom after 10:00 p.m. in Switzerland.
11. Failure to flush a public toilet in Singapore after use may result in a fine.
12. In Logan County, Colorado, it's illegal for a man to kiss a woman while she's asleep.
13. A man may be arrested for wearing a skirt in Italy.
14. Taxis in Queensland, Australia, are required to carry a bale of hay. This is a throwback to the days of horse travel.
15. It is an offence for women of ill repute (re: prostitutes and "loose" women) or evil looks' to enter a cheese factory in the area of Ferrara, Italy
16. It’s illegal to be drunk and in possession of a cow in Scotland.
17. Wearing combat or camouflaged clothing is illegal in Barbados.
18. A fine of $25 can be levied for flirting in New York City.
19. In Florida, having sexual relations with a porcupine is illegal.
20. In South Africa, young people in bathing suits must not sit closer than 30 cm together.
21. A woman is legally allowed to kill her cheating husband, only if she uses her bare hands in Hong Kong. The husband's lover however may be killed in any manner desired.
22. Unmarried women who parachute on Sunday can be arrested in Florida.
23. Water guns may not be used in New Year’s celebrations in Cambodia.
24. A pregnant woman visiting the UK can legally relieve herself anywhere she wants – even in a police officer’s hat if she requests.
25. It’s illegal to drive a camel on a highway in Nevada.

"Even when laws have been written down, they ought not always to remain unaltered"


Tuesday, March 24, 2009

when harlem was in vogue...

It may not be the greatest Jazz club in the world anymore, but this place has history. Back in the 1940s, this is where the fabulous Charlie Parker was discovered. The likes of Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie, Bennie Goodman, Teddie Wilson, Lester Young and others all played here. The house pianist was none other than Thelonious Monk. This is where Bebop was born. 
For over 30 years, Minton's Playhouse served as an experimental lab where these greats got together and jammed to take jazz into a whole new direction. In 1974, due to what is referred to as a "tragic foray into disco" Minton's closed its doors. The playhouse wasted away. All that was left was the 1948 mural painted behind what was the stage, which features four musicians playing together while a woman sleeps face down on the bed. Three of the four musicians are identified as Charlie Christian, Tony Scott, and Hot Lips Page, and it's said that the woman lying across the bed is none other than Billie Holiday sleeping off a drunken night.

Many attempts were made to reopen the place - there were rumors abound that Melba Wilson (who eventually opened Melba's on 114th and Frederick Douglass) was going to open a restaurant and jazz club there; even Rob DeNiro apparently wanted to bring back the playhouse, but nothing ever happened. Then finally, in May 2006, thanks to Earl Spain (who used to manage St. Nick's Pub - another Harlem Jazz stronghold) Minton's reopened its doors. 
It's not fancy or an upscale jazz place. If anything, the renovation seems to have been done on a tight budget. But the bar is full, the tables and chairs are aplenty, and the old mural shines behind the new stage. Every day, the doors open at 3pm although the music doesn't start until 9pm. Three sets later there's the after hours jazz session. Unlike The Den on 132nd and Fifth Avenue, don't come to Minton's early. The later you stay, the crazier it gets. Minton's is definitely getting back to its roots.

Sunday through Thursday there's no cover, just a two-drink minimum. But even that they're not particularly strict about. The bartenders are friendly and the vibe is happy. The crowd is an interesting mix of old school Harlem residents and people who've come from a far to get a taste of history. What's not to love about this place? There's music every night from a 16-piece orchestra to trios and tap dancers. Wednesday nights, the fabulous Patience Higgins and the Sugar Hill Quartet play. These guys are brilliant! Fridays and Saturdays there's a $10 cover and different guests play (check their website). Sunday nights, they have a free buffet along with music. 

Again, it's not the best jazz club in NYC, but it's a major part of Jazz history and definitely deserves some love. Five solid stars for that. 
Minton's is back!!!

"We all do 'do, re, mi', but you have to find the other notes yourself"

~Louis Armstrong


Monday, March 23, 2009

fyi for suny/cuny students...

They’re going to cut your TAP (Tuition Assistance Program)!

(Read this carefully)

The New York state budget is due to be passed by April 1.
It includes a whopping $600+ annual tuition increase for CUNY and SUNY students. Think you’re going to be able to pay for the planned tuition hike with money from the Tuition Assistance Program? Don’t count on it.

Gov. Paterson’s budget is calling for a $120 million reduction to the Tuition Assistance Program. The average TAP award will be cut by $250 to $350, on top of the tuition hike. Here are some of the cuts:

* They’re changing the definition of “full-time” students from 12 to 15 credits per semester. That means you will be forced to take five 3-credit courses per semester to be eligible for full TAP aid.
* If you register for 10 to 14 credits you would get a pro-rated award based on 15 credits. That means that if you take four 3-credit courses per semester, your TAP award will be cut by about 25%.
* If you take 6 to 10 credits your part-time TAP award will be cut by about 25%.
* If you are a graduate student you will not be eligible for TAP aid, period.
* If you are in default on a federal student loan, you will not be eligible for TAP aid, period
* If you didn’t take 18 credits (six 3-credit courses) in your first two semesters at CUNY, you will not be eligible for TAP aid, period.
* If more than one student in your family is attending college, you will lose the TAP award enhancement.
* If anyone in your family receives a New York city or state pension, this income will now be included in calculating your eligibility.

These are only some of the cuts. You do the math.

The bottom line is: while the banks get trillions in free money, CUNY students are getting screwed!

Taken together, the tuition hike and TAP cuts will likely mean that thousands, maybe tens of thousands of students will be pushed out of college. Part-time students will be hit hard. Students from poor and working-class families will be hit hardest. This is a class purge of public higher education.

Students' future at CUNY and
SUNY is at stake
What are you going to do about it?

"An educational system isn't worth a great deal if it teaches young people how to make a living but doesn't teach them how to make a life."



Saturday, March 21, 2009

what means the world to you...?

Forgiveness is The ultimate sacrifice,
Eloquence belongs, To the conqueror...”


Sacrifice is the unselfish giving of what one needs for one’s self to accomplish an end that is greater than one’s self. What I mean by sacrificing a desire for a necessity is to give something up that one might believe is a valuable necessity. Anything disadventagous and/or anything that may contribute in stifiling ones character. It takes self-discipline, great understanding of your worth, and responsibility to follow your own rules in order to stick with the sacrifice one has made.

I have always been the affectionate humanitarian; Always helping those I have cared for, even though at times it seemed they lacked concern for themselves, unappreciative of my concern, or weren’t assertive in achieving what they needed to achieve . Well quite recently, I have discovered the self discipline to start taking on another habit, instead of trying to save the lives of others who were self seeking, this time, I will take great care of myself.

Many of us feel the need for security in others, one main reason why we stay in disadvantageous relationships. We like to feel apart of, a closeness with someone we believe has our best interests at heart although, in the long run the truth always comes to light and we see that may not always be the case. Indefinitely, we should always intuitively feel situations out for ourselves and choose whether or not something, not just relationships, are in our best interests. Not everything is what it seems and what we desire, in turn, may be the thing that will set us back from what we need. And what we need, realistically, will always be the best thing we have ever hoped for. Don’t substitute, make your sacrifice!?!!


Thursday, March 19, 2009

the miseducation of a reagan-era baby...

Late night conversation amongst 80's babies, inspired coincidentally by some chilled merlot, led me to recall some Reagan-era good ol' free-government bullsh*t from around the second grade. This one doesn't even need commentary. In my opinion, I Wish Daddy Didn't Drink So Much is the magnum opus of Judith Vigna, the Joyce Carol Oates of deeply-traumatized child/ dysfunctional-family literature, and the author of (I'm not shitting you): My Big Sister Takes Drugs, My Two Uncles, Mommy and Me By Ourselves Again, She's Not My Real Mother, and Nobody Wants a Nuclear War. I Wish Daddy Didn't Drink So Much is the heartwarming tale of a young girl given a sled by a VERY merry Santa, and how her daddy won't enjoy it with her until he can get to the store to pick up another 12-pack of Steel Reserve/Thunderbird. He has to walk, though, because mommy hid his car keys.

I get that books like these are written to supposedly ease the pain of kids already going through this kind of nightmare ("You're not alone!"). But do these kids really want to read books about some other kid's drunk father? What's next, Judith Vigna, I Wish Daddy Would Stop Visiting Me at Night or Who Are All these Men Sleeping With Mommy? Wouldn't it be better if those kids just read books about happy unicorns carrying princesses away from evil trolls on their way to gumdrop castles and chocolate syrup lakes? You know, something out of Super Mario World (Super NES- Level 6 Chocolate World). Children in the inner city have a multitude of issues but I never felt any of the book released by Miss Vigna were ever truly applicable.

I have always eagerly anticipated the release of "Why was my daddy a victim of the NY Rockefeller Drug Laws and, even though the laws are being amended now, what good does that do to rescind the memories of an adolescent childhood spent taking 9 hour bus rides to speak to my father through plexiglass and hearing that i was the man of the house and to take care of my older sister and grandmother", maybe that book is in press as I type this...hmmm...

"I was born not to make it but I did, tribulations of a ghetto kid, still I rise"



Tuesday, March 17, 2009

failing students...

...I want more people to fail in my classes. This is not because I am evil (although some people here seem to think so), but because I want the people who graduate from my masters sociology program to be truly the best in the world.

The philosophy in US universities seems to be mostly one of making it really hard to get into the programs, but once you're in, the chances of graduating are really high. In fact, most rankings of American universities such as the one from US News place quite a bit of weight on four- or five-year graduation rates -- the fewer students that fail, the higher the university will be ranked. I find this counter-intuitive. While I understand that prospective students want to know that if they come here they will not be flunked, I think we all need to accept that mistakes are sometimes made in the admissions process.

In some other countries, like Spain where I have studied at university, the philosophy is exactly the opposite. Pretty much anybody can be accepted to any university. However, a large fraction of the people who enter end up failing out. That's an absolute threshold, not a relative one. You could address that by having a pass-fail qualifying exam graded on an absolute scale. The reason this appeals to me is that rather than making a decision based on a single test score (the SAT) and a couple of recommendation letters, universities get to test students for the span of several years before giving them a seal of approval.

I think it's a no-brainer that basic competence be required for graduation. Outright failing should be reserved for people who aren't bothering to do the work at all. Failing more students might make the academic process even more challenging by adding extra stress *even for the good students*. But at this level, the academic dexterity of students should be challenged, its not like they do not already have degrees but upper-level courses are designed to prepared students to add to the canon of knowledge rather than simply memorize then established principles of their majors. I am no fan of grade inflation, I think it perpetuates the credentialism cycle that we have going in this country. If a student is doing the work, and isn't getting it, I think a poor grade will suffice.

The mediocre teacher tells. 
The good teacher explains. 
The superior teacher demonstrates. 
The great teacher inspires...


Monday, March 16, 2009

pour l'amour du chocolat...

I have decided in my next life I am going to be a chocolatier. Isn't that a wonderful word? Chocolatier. Chocolate is the perfect example of onomatopoeia. The word sounds rich and sweet and creamy and -- simply divine. I would have a chocolate shop full of the world's best chocolate. Something like Oriol Balaguer out in Barcelona or Cacao et Chocolat in the Saint-Germain-des-Prés section of Paris (6eme Arrondissment). Cacao et Chocolat, for one, sells many types of confections from the ones called Zope that are filled with chocolate ganache infused with cayenne pepper (which was spectacular, may I add), Pralinés covered in milk chocolate, several choices of dried fruits enrobed in a heavenly Mayan chocolate to the extra sinful Quetzal, a dark chocolate temptation filled with tequila and a touch of lime. 

At my store, wait a minute --stores, I would have dark chocolate covered ginger, white cacao with hints of jasmine and mocha melties, and amaretto and champagne (brut and rosé) and cognac truffles. I would have dame blanche and crême fraîche and orangettes dipped in dark chocolate. And I would have hazelnut creams and maraschino cherries dipped in milk chocolate, and all sorts of fruit jellies -- apricot, mandarin orange, strawberry, raspberry -- all dipped in dark, white and milk chocolate. 

Can you just imagine?

I am addicted to chocolate, and my favorite is the Vosges Haut.Chocolat Rooster Truffle, which is Taleggio cheese + organic walnuts + Tahitian vanilla bean + bittersweet dark chocolate. Yes despite the complexies of the ingredients it is hands down the greatest thing chocolate-related I have ever come across in my life. 

I have a friend who is even more addicted to chocolate than I am. For Lent every year he gives up chocolate. The other day I saw him eating some chocolate cookies, and I said, "You're going to be struck by lightning! Those are chocolate! Haven't you given up chocolate for Lent?"

"These are not chocolate", he said, "These are cocoa."

... Um ... okay ...whatever!

Well, I haven't given up chocolate for Lent, so I am off to have a cup of hot chocolate to combat the last remnants of New York winter-- with marshmallows.

“All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn't hurt”

~Charles M. Schultz, cartoonist of Snoopy and the Peanuts Gang

Sunday, March 15, 2009

to tweet, or not to tweet? that is the question...

When I first heard about the microblogging platform Twitter --which enables users to publish 140-character-long messages via the web and mobile phones-- I thought it was silly. Or rather, the uses to which it was being put were silly: people announcing that they’d just woken up or what they’d had for breakfast. I couldn’t have cared less. As far as I was concerned it was a perfect application for news programs such as Anderson Cooper 360 on CNN and 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue on MSNBC but had little real-world application for individuals. But then I should confess that when I first started hearing about blogs and podcasts, I didn’t fully comprehend their impact either. 

The heart of Twitter of course is the never-ending stream of consciousness manifest in the short text messages known as “tweets”. They are fun to watch, neat to read, and occasionally worthy of a response. Some of my favorite tweets are the ones that are short, sweet, and to the point. Like, “crash landing my bi-plane”, “dropping my first hit”, or “bleeding out my eyeballs”. It’s Twitter for crying out loud! Short and sweet is the name of the game!  To start with, I love Twitter. I am on there all the time and have a blast updating, meeting people, replying, etc. However, this is not to say that I don’t have some things to criticize about Twitter.

However, because a lot of these messages are the types of things you usually speak to people you’re close to, people you’re less close to start to feel like they’re in your close group. You can confuse a marker of intimacy with the actual status of the relationship. On your point about false sense of intimacy though, I don’t know if that’s really qualifiable as “false”, because my perception of social intimacy is entirely relative. I may feel (and truly believe) I am close to you and you may feel (and truly believe) that we are not close at all—Twitter seems to allow us both to live that reality. I think that’s a really fascinating aspect to how it mediate interactions/discourse. 

And although that occurs occasionally in real life, I think Twitter exacerbates that disconnect because it lacks a lot of the physical social contexts that we have in the physical world. Additionally, there tends to be so much said that what is truly of substance can be hard to track down. I can't imagine how people who are following 250 people and more are able to process all the data streaming in. Twitter, like almost all Web 2.0, is being voraciously used and consumed before society can really examine the long-term effects it will have on our psyche, and I’ll be curious with how humanity continues to evolve in answering this all-important question: What are you doing, and why should I care?

“A human being has a natural desire to have more of a good thing than he needs”
~Mark Twain

Thursday, March 12, 2009

via veritas et vitas...

We all walk about, at one time or another, strutting down the street feeling ourselves a little bit. A blend of confidence, arrogance, and cockiness that defines our youth. None of us are on some perpetual Winnie the pooh/Eeyore/Oscar Wao depression thing at all times. We all go through our own little periods of vanity. I grew up as a child around older crowds. My mom was a bartender and would take me to work...3-4 in the morning on the weekends and although i was young i was old enough to see all these females walking around hustling guys for drinks. Racking up tabs that some men converted to ass at the end of the night.

Individuals overestimate how far a pretty face and smooth talk can take them and fail to realize how small their window of opportunity is to take advantage of their "gifts". The prime age for any individual is rather narrow and draw comparisons to a shooting star that you may see is the sky. The light from that star has been traveling for years, sometimes hundreds, sometimes thousands of years is seen on Earth only for a split second- maybe second and a half and then it it continues along its path into the infinite darkness. Such is beauty, here now gone later, but for so many of us that is what we stake our claim in, individuals feel entitled to disrespect and take advantage of others. But best believe, there are others certainly prettier, younger, more attractive and at the end of the day it is character than matters. Character is the gold bullion standard of social relationships to vanity's status as paper money. And as with all paper currency, the greater that vanity is in abundance, the less inherent value it has. It would best if more of us would recognize before we go out trying to out-dance 21 years old in our "fuck-me" pumps @ the age of 35.

"The truest characters of ignorance are vanity, and pride and arrogance”

~Samuel Bulter

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

pobres diablos...

Despite the current recession and the cutbacks that many of us have had to make on damn near everything there are undoubtedly man worldwide in much worse situations than many of us. Most of my research, for subject matters that are relevant to painting and for pleasure, deals with the impoverishment face by people in many (third-world) countries. Unlike the United States, their governments cannot simply borrow nor print more money in orer to create scial programs during hard times. 

They suffer, as Miguel Piñero once said, "workin' of time clock sweatin' & swearin' & slavin' for the final dime", voiceless in a world that deifies the rich. Latin America has provided the backdrop for many of my word and the themes and culture run concurrent in many of  aspects of my life. For this reason, it is fitting to share the following in Spanish:

Pobres, lo que se dice pobres, son los que no tienen tiempo para perder el tiempo. 
Pobres, lo que se dice pobres, son los que no tienen silencio, ni pueden comprarlo. 
Pobres, lo que se dice pobres, son los que tienen piernas que se han olvidado de caminar, como las alas de las gallinas se han olvidado de volar. 
Pobres, lo que se dice pobres, son los que comen basura y pagan por ella 
como si fuese comida.
Pobres, lo que se dice pobres, son los que tienen el derecho de respirar mierda, como si fuera aire, sin pagar nada por ella.
Pobres, lo que se dice pobres, son los que no tienen más libertad que la libertad de elegir entre uno y otro canal de televisión. 
Pobres, lo que se dice pobres, son los que viven dramas pasionales con las máquinas. 
Pobres, lo que se dice pobres, son los que son siempre muchos y están solos.
Pobres, lo que se dice pobres, son los que no saben que son pobres.

...And now English

Poor, those that are considered poor, are those who have no time to waste time. 
Poor, those that are considered poor, are those who do not have silence, nor can they buy it. 
Poor, those that are considered poor, have legs that have forgotten to walk, like the wings of the hens have forgotten to fly. 
Poor, those that are considered poor, are those that eat garbage 
and pay for it as if it were food. 

Poor, those that are considered poor, have the right to breathe the shit, as if it were air, without paying anything for it. 
Poor, those that are considered poor, are those who have no more freedom than the freedom to choose between one television channel or another. 
Poor, those that are considered poor, are those who live dramas of passion with machines. 
Poor, those that are considered poor, are those who are many and are always alone. 
Poor, those that are considered poor, are those who do not know they are poor.

-Eduardo Galeano

"Poverty is the worst form of violence"
~Mahatma Gandhi

Friday, March 06, 2009

when the tigers broke free...

Guernica Pablo Picasso, 1937

Guernica is a monumental painting by Pablo Picasso, depicting the Nazi German bombing of Guernica, Spain, by twenty-eight bombers, on April 26, 1937 during the Spanish Civil War. The attack killed between 250 and 1,600 people, and many more were injured. The Spanish government commissioned Pablo Picasso to paint a large mural for the Spanish display at the Paris International Exposition (the 1937 World's Fair in Paris). The Guernica bombing inspired Picasso. Within 15 days of the attack, Pablo Picasso began painting this mural. On completion Guernica was displayed around the world in a brief tour, becoming famous and widely he acclaimed and brought the Spanish civil war to the world's attention. 

In any battleground, innocent people become the victims of the fighting. Long after the hostilities are over and the combatants have gone, there are people left behind to suffer, often for a long time. Guernica epitomizes the tragedies of war and the suffering war inflicts upon individuals. This monumental work has eclipsed the bounds of a single time and place, becoming a perpetual reminder of the tragedies of war, an anti-war symbol, and an embodiment of peace...For a majority of people aware of the painting, and for artists in particular, Guernica represents the apex of politically motivated expression, and at over 15 feet, is imposing in its size. Seeing the painting up close in Madrid (2007), while attending art school brought about a flood of emotions and sparked a drive to create something as historically and contemporarily relevant as Picasso's Guernica sometime during my painting career...

" Inspiration exists, but it has to find us working"
~Pablo Picasso


Wednesday, March 04, 2009

flight from reality...

Anyone who knows me knows I love planes...planes, planes, planes. Not those damn twin propeller small planes that take you nowhere and let every and any cloud throw it around, but 747s and 777s. Planes that you get on and you know that you are going places because they hold a whole hell of alot of jet fuel for a reason. Over the years, I have been on a bunch of flights and not all of them have been smooth but only once on a flight that had taken off from New York City did I feel like things were going wrong. The planes seemed to be struggling through some storm clouds upon take off and the pilot accelerated while we were being thrown around and the plane seemed to be accelerating DOWNWARDS! 

All of this makes the US Airways Hudson River crash last month in New York City that more astounding. The landing itself is amazing but what impresses me more is how everyone involved-pilot, air traffic control-calmly does their job and does everything right in split second decisions. There was no time to look things up or weigh options. This little video reproduction of the crash that has been floating around the internet puts into perspective how fragile these huge planes are and how many components must go right at all times. Though my airline of choice (well not my choice but rather my bank checking account chose it for me) is American Airlines I hope that if there are any geese ever planning their suicide in front of my flight (and I have seen those damn birds around JFK, Schiphol and Heathrow) that 
  1.  there is a body of water around somewhere, and
  2. i dont have the "D student" type of pilot controlling the whole operation...

“When everything seems to be going against you, remember that the airplane takes off against the wind, not with it”

~Henry Ford

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

la pregunta arts café commercial...

The final version, or damn near the final cut, of a commercial shot for La Pregunta Arts Café out here in New York City, which hopefully should be showing on public television here in New York City! Shot during two consecutive (and really cold) saturdays and over a period of nearly 10 hours, it was a pretty dope experience, especially on the second day when, after several re-takes of the bar scene, I realized that the liquor was all too real and hardly noticed the time pass after that...

Monday, March 02, 2009

the more things change...

The mayor of a small Southern California city says he will resign after being criticized for sharing an e-mail picture depicting the White House lawn planted with watermelons under the title "No Easter egg hunt this year." Chicken, watermelon even ribs are a part of the American diet that's true, and people of all colors enjoy them at picnics. But there was a time when impoverished and enslaved blacks could have only the most meager of provisions, including chicken, watermelons and pork parts such as scrappel, because that's all they got after plantation owners threw scraps at them.

These became stereotypical symbols of black America -- people who could only afford to eat what was left over. That in turn became how many jokingly looked at blacks and was soon tied to images of little black sambo, pickaninnies and others. Couple that with the association of blacks with monkeys, as simian creatures are native to Africa (but not exclusively), and it creates an entirely new level of institutionalized racism: bigotry through mass-mediated culture.

Personally, I have had plenty of my share of chicken and watermelon and all those kinds of jokes. I honestly don't understand where the mayor was coming from. Why is it when people use caricatures, cartoons and illustrations of things that are clearly construed as racially insensitive, they sheepishly grin and say they "didn't mean it as anything racial"? Don't get me wrong, if anyone has a sense of humor about their culture it's black folks. But to just use a stereotype as a joke is trite and thoughtless. It is not funny and it NEVER has been...!

"If a white man falls off a chair drunk, it's just a drunk. If a Negro does, 
it's the whole damn Negro race"

~Bill Cosby

Sunday, March 01, 2009

two sides of the same glass...

I am always fascinated by people who go through life acquiring everything their heart desires while all the same still seeing their glass as half empty, rather than half full. Nothing ever makes them happy. Not only in regards to the material but more importantly the emotional and spiritual. They may have it all, but all is not enough. All becomes more, and it is still not enough. Their cup runs over, and still it is not enough. They're constantly depressed, like Eeyore in "Winnie the Pooh"

I certainly don't have all the things that most folks take for granted, even though I have done all the same things everyone else has. I have had losses in my life, both people and love, but so has everyone else. It's called life. And yet for some weird reason which I do not understand, I don't look at my cup as half empty, but rather half full. It's a choice we all make, and it's a choice I have had to make, or I would be filled with anger, resentment and bitterness -- three emotions that will kill anyone's spirit.

Maybe it is the concept of "the glass half empty" that has led to the world's dire economic situation. Everyone wants more, more, more. Fill that glass up; only a full glass will make people happy. Still not happy? Get more things. In part, the world economy is based upon the principle of continuous consumption, a self-defeating, continually perpetuating cycle that is unsustainable. 

I don't know the answer. I'm no economist, and I'm certainly no philosopher. I'm just grateful for the few things I have and for the people in my life who care about me, and that makes my cup more than half full...

"Capitalism has destroyed our belief in any effective power but that of self interest backed by force"

~George Bernard Shaw