Thursday, August 31, 2006


The coals were cooling and filled stomachs had little room for fruit salad and home made chocolate chip cookies, but we made some. Afterwards, we climbed out the window onto one roof, then a ladder up to a second and one more up to the third. I stuck a sweaty bottle into a cargo pocket for the assent. At the summit we stood and squatted between the paired chimneys to watch the distant fireworks bursting above low red haze, while the Puerto Rican kids shot bottle rockets at each other in the Roman candle and sparkler fog rising from the street below. Rain started shortly afterwards, and washed the sulfur from the air.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006


I sent this off to my Luddite parents in our first e-mail exchange. They've finally gotten on line as a means to communicate with their cyborg grandchildren. They sent me a Garfield card.

When this was taken, I don't think I'd mentioned my birthday to anyone.

Five or six years ago, birthdays in my crowd were a good excuse for a party: dinner for twelve at La Boheme or Morrimoto; keg, cocktails and crudites for a hundred; plus good tickets to See Something Great. We don't make such a big deal out of 'em anymore. For this particular subdued milestone, I was treated to an a capella rendition of "Happy Birthday" sung in the manner of Marilyn Monroe to J.F.K. I enjoyed a few beers with buddies; a nice dinner with a close friend; and a short, thickly muscled Puerto Rican guy from New Jersey (not in that order). Additionally, I treated myself to a new zip front hoodie, to keep me warm over the next twelve months.

Survived another year.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Show and Tell

Here in the studio building, nothing is ever really thrown away. When an inmate moves out or is swept up in a reorganizational frenzy, unwanted furniture, artwork, and sundry items of all kinds are deposited in specific spots in the various elevator lobbies. There orphaned discards wait to be taken in by new custodians. In the ten years or so I've prowled the corridors I've seen particular items recycled in this way a number of times.

I have the pack rat gene from both sides of my family, so this situation is equal parts blessing and curse. One 1950's drop leaf dinette table- black iron spider legs supporting a barge shaped black rubber edged white Formica top patterned with what looked like black pick up sticks - was snaked out from under me by the stained glass worker a few doors down after I foolishly continued on my bathroom mission instead of on the spot pee dance dragging it back to my lair. It was half way down the hall to her place before I'd even zipped. Never to be foiled, I watched it hawk like 'till her recent relocation. Now the prize is finally MINE, made sweeter still by so much patient anticipation. This can't be healthy.

This colorful little item appeared for the first time in my tenure. It was carefully made, and not at all recently, likely by one of the wood workers in the basement judging by the fine cherry and mahogany dust which coated it. Was it the recorder maker? The man who ripped fireplace surrounds from eighteenth century farm houses, stripped them, and sold them to Manhattan decorators? I imagine it held splines or biscuits or wooden plugs like the one glued to drawer #100-200. Now it holds nothing, except some pleasurable fascination for me, that which I have for things with a former life, and my delight in their mysteries.

Friday, August 25, 2006

New to Me

I got another car.

It appeared to be that holy grail of semi-collectible automobiles: the second car of a middle aged woman, far out in the leafy green country side. I Carfaxed it before hand, and at the end of my hour long journey through woods and farmland to the shop handling the sale, inspected every inch of the body, interior, engine, trunk, and under body, and examined it's history in the documents held alongside the factory issued owner's and shop manuals in a grey buckram and ivory washi paper interleaved slipcase in a compartment in the trunk. Everything checked out. It's never been in an accident, smoked in, or - by the looks of the blemish free bumper covers - parallel parked.

After purchase, I brought it to Carlos the mechanic for a complete and thorough evaluation.
He is the Argentian owner of the import garage halfway between home and work, where a number of people with more style than money or sense bring interesting, but ailing cars they can't really afford to own. I waited anxiously for his evaluation. Carlos feels for us all, a kindred spirit, a man who truly loves cars. Each diagnostic explanation is like counseling between a troubled soul and an empathetic priest, or your own former pediatrician attempting as much to save you as the afflicted child you've placed before him. He explains the car's requirements and the long and short term consequences of implementation - or when that point is inevitably reached - of witholding treatment. Carlos' deep brown eyes are mournfully but kind, and when he speaks his entire body, face and hands project his conclusions. When I entered the front of the shop, cool and dim just before closing, I saw him standing in the bright proscenium of the open bay door to the lot behind. He turned towards me as I crossed the spotless concrete, and the moment he realized it was me, his carriage morphed to broadcast his prognosis. I stepped into the light before his beaming benificence, the car beyond glistening under the blue blue clear and cloudless sky.

"That's a really nice car you got there," he said warmly, as he walked me toward the vehicle, "Everything is solid. Here's what you're going to want to do."

Tuesday, August 22, 2006


We just packed off a show to a museum in Tokyo - one hundred and fifty original illustrations from automobile styling studios in the 1950's, 1960's, and 1970's. The collection has been amassed by a man who has already filled residences in Manhattan (Fifth Avenue), Boston (Chestnut Hill), East Hampton, London (Mayfair) and Majorca with what must be every extant Beaux Arts architectural rendering not in an institutional collection. His decorator (who has the most beautiful shoes I have ever seen; one piece vamp Balmorals of lustrous black cordovan, glistening French calf split toe bluchers, and on Fridays, Belgian slippers in snuff colored reverse suede or vegetable tanned peccary, and driving moccasins of shrunken elephant hide) has framed them all in carved and gilded accademic frames of the period, with wide mats having watercolor panels and ink lines picking out the shades and shadows of the illustrated edifices. I execute thses mats. The walls of the residences have been covered with these pictures, and besides, the autorama doesn't go with the furniture - so the cars have hit the exhibition highway. A majority of the works, done in house by employees of Ford, Chrysler and General Motors, were the sorts of glamour images used in sales brochures and full color magazine ads; projections of the companies images of themselves and their products through the various decades. Fewer were the styling sketches - many of which got no further than the water color and gouache stages - the dream cars and the working-out-the-details styling exercises; drawings and paintings of hub caps, grille patterns, and interior schemes. These were my favorites.

Somewhere in Detroit in the 70's, a man (they were all men) sat down to render these two symphonies in tapestry, wood grain plastic, and Rich Corinthian Leather. Imagine having such a position, toiling at a drawing board in light streaming through ribbons of aluminum sashed glass overlooking test tracks and smoke stacks and vast fields of shiny laqcquered product awaiting shipment to evert corner of North America. Being paid to imagine two primary objects of manly affections; what you want to drive, and what you want to, um, drive; the cars themselves and the styling sirens perch in the images. These graphite spokes models, alert yet impassive, with backs arched and languid eyes engaging the viewer, convey deep, deep satisfaction with the designers efforts, and a delicious anticipation of his next creative emissions. The guys probably got to drink coffee all day long, too. *sigh*

Sunday, August 20, 2006


One of Meg's Girlfriend's cats disappeared. Meg's usually jovial mood became tense, her face visibly tightened as the absence stretched on for more than a week. She loved Fluffy of course, and was concerned about the kitty, but her greatest stress and worry came in supporting her increasingly erratic partner through the tense vigil.

The first few days were spent with Meg driving her despondent GF on reconnaissance missions through the near reaches of economically depressed North Philadelphia (suspended only after being pulled over by cops wondering what two middle aged white women in a late model Passat were doing prowling the streets of crack town at all hours). Meg attempted to reason that Fluffy was probably fine, off on an adventure, and would return when she was hungry enough. This HAD after all, happened before. The GF was aghast at her callous lack of concern for one of "her babies". Afrosty prickliness was directed towards Meg - to make the pacing, crying jags, abrupt awakenings to dash from bed to door in the middle of the night because the GF thought she'd "heard something" - all just that much more interesting. The GF was driving her nuts.

Further recovery efforts by the increasingly desperate GF included (but were not limited to) the following:

Fee to Texas based "Cat Detective" who mapped out a personalized recovery strategy - $100.00;

"Lost Cat" ad (with photo) in the neighborhood paper - $82.00;

"Animal Psychic" who focused on the AWOL beast in two sessions, initial - $40.00, in depth - $60.00 (including a free consultation with the psychic's OWN psychic - no charge for that);

Two ink jet cartridges and a ream of printer paper for the first run of "Lost Cat : Reward" fliers for every business and telephone pole in the Fairmount, Spring Garden, and Brewery Town neighborhoods, and for the SECOND run (some of the poor kids took down all the fliers to decrease competition among bounty hunters) with the premium upped to $500.00;

Professional graphic designer's services for said flier - $150.00;

Two trips (one hour each way) to the Saint Padre Pio Shrine to light candles and pray for Fluffy's safe return - $78.00.

Meg said nothing about a little more patience and little less spending as the near hysterical GF reached deeper into her own pockets. Meg said nothing in her own defence as her lack of demonstrated desperation was regarded as indifference.

On the evening of the tenth day, Meg looked out the window toward the deck and discovered Fluffy reclined on the silent air conditioning unit, languidly cleaning herself. She slid open the door and Fluffy(after finishing her grooming) unhurriedly strolled in to the kitchen, considered Meg for a moment, and then padded to her empty bowl where she meowed her desire that it be filled. Meg exhaled. It was only then that she allowed herself to feel how truly worried she'd been about the cat. Her great joy and relief was exceeded only by the GF's near delirium- expressed in tears, near smothering hugs, petting, incoherent sobbing, the presentation of a hope chest's worth of cat toys and treats purchased as an act of faith ($150.00), and more tears. The ice melted with the return of the GF's composure; calm and order has again descended on the household. All was forgiven. Almost.

The GF stated that she is satisfied that the money spent, though none of it resulted in Fluffy's return, was money well spent. Meg is happy to hear that, she explained to me through the sly grin on her cheerfully renewed countenance after relating their shared ordeal. She laughed, "Cause I'm gonna add another $500.00 to it! The reward money! After all, I am the one who found the cat."

Thursday, August 17, 2006


This should be interesting. It has it all: large furry men (a group having a tendency to strip to the waist after a few drinks, and allow easy access below that after a few more), grilled vittles for carnivores and plant eaters alike, and beer to be guzzled under the late summer sun. I'm in.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Z List

My studio is far from the gallery over by Rittenhouse Square. Mail sent to me there is only intermittently brought over to me here. I understand; it's just not anyone's job. This results in long delayed invitations to all kinds of events - like this must attend evening over at St. Mark's Place. Pity, for this one I actually had something to wear.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

A Hornets Nest

Beyond the oak swamp behind my parents' house, was the Ahern's farm. One spring we watched wasps build a nest in an oak tree beside their house. It was a fascinating process, but slightly disappointing at its completion. It was not the symmetrical hanging top-shaped nest of cartoons from which malevolent black clouds emerged in buzzing arrows missling toward the butts of fleeing animated victims. Anything on T.V. - even Looney Tunes - held an imagined veracity superior to events occurring in my actual life (why DIDN'T we live in a house like The Brady Bunch's?). These hornets obviously didn't watch enough television, so instead formed their home at a juncture of branches - skinny limbs forming veins and arteries protruding from a deflated grey paper heart. It lacked symmetry. It lacked an orchestral string section. Still, we watched it for hours.

A hornets nest like the ones on T.V. (or rather half of a lengthwise sliced nest) appeared at the gallery. I was thrilled. Here are some pictures. Clicky-make-big.

Cue string section.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006


It's a glorious day in Philadelphia: low humidity, warm not hot, and cotton candy puffy white cloud filled blue blue skies. Low level art functionaries like me who have ratty old convertibles are glad to be able to drive top down without melting into the upholstery - for the first time in a long time.

Days ago we baked here in the red brick kiln of the studio building - it's five story east and west flanks fully exposed to the relentless, radiant glare. I took this picture then, in that same pitiless late afternoon sun and heat as it flooded the hall through an opened studio door, and washed in over me like a viscous scalding orange oil, filling my eyes and lungs and gut and the lens of my tiny camera.

Friday, August 04, 2006


A load of crates and boxes arrived from the gallery in the afternoon. It was cast out of the basement room we were told wasn't in the lease, but which we'd filled up anyway. I was informed on Tuesday that it was coming Thursday, and that I had to get rid of "all my furniture" to accommodate it all. Goddamnit. So, in the 105 degree heat, I dismantled my Lounge; chotchkes into boxes, tables chairs and lamps dispersed like refugees to other studios in the building, and the sofa disassembled and hidden about these rooms as carefully as Anne Franke and her family. All my labors were unnecessary though, the load was hardly a big one, easily jammed in to the existing storage area. Now the sofa can be gathered up and reassembled ; it might be a little more work to get the cabinetmakers in the basement to surrender the Eames and Paul Mccobb chairs they've already made their own. The former site of the lounge is now luxuriously vacant, huge like the Chinese farmer's house after the Wise Man had him move the cows and carts claustrophobically in and then out again - like the sudden square footage of an unknown room revealed by moving a giant wardrobe away from the previously hidden door.

Now I can fill it up with something else.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Yes, I suppose I am...


It is not however my only trick. I can drive a stick, carve a turkey, and execute most of the tasks required to build a wood framed house (save the site work), although I'm too lazy to do any of these things. I'm less annoying than many people, and perhaps more interesting than some. No, I didn't solicit my recent blog pimping exposure. Yes, I'm flattered by the attention. Your other questions will likely be answered by looking at Bear411, Manhunt, and/or I'm circleinasquare on all of those. Never the less, here's a gratuitous picture of me, in my bed after a shower, in which I am in fact fully naked.


"Fussy? You're not fussy or finicky at all. I've watched you for three years now - you make your decisions in an instant.
Criteria. What you have are criteria. When met, you go."

I stood beside the Lieutenant as we surveyed the souls milling about narrow Quince Street. They were incongruous against a backdrop of freshly restored colonial houses (repointed brick and marble, shiny copper and fresh slates) in their sleeveless plaids, leather vests and jeans, pig t-shirts and 501s. The men are quiet in deference to the wealthy new neighbors, long asleep at this early hour. The management and patrons of the local bars walk on egg shells in their stompy boots, fearing that the well connected gentrifiers might spur the police or Liquor Control Board to unknown interventions. The Lieutenant knows everyone and everything in our tiny circumscribed world. He regards me with bemusement overlaid with impatience and skepticism. He has been my stern local guide and advisor, allowing me edifying missteps while discretely monitoring overall progress, but intervening before any REAL disasters. His blunt assessments sometimes verge on the harsh ("harsh" being what he peddles to others - with considerable success - in his full on leather drag and cruel Prussian bearing) He continues:

"No, you're not fussy at all - You don't seem to accept it, but you really can afford to be."
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