Monday, July 30, 2007


"Silence is so Accurate"
-Mark Rothko

(no. 14; 1960)

This past weekend in Minneapolis, Tim, Erik, and I had a chance to sit and talk about art over a couple beers. We started talking about the habit of revisiting the "heavy hitters" of art history when each of us are in that occasional artist's block - going back and looking at the people whose work punches you in the gut, for inspiration when you're having a dry spell in the studio.

I had forgotten about how nice that conversation was until tonight, as I happened upon Simon Schama's Power of Art on PBS:
Power of Art

Tonight's episode was on Rothko, one of my personal gut-punchers. Sandwiched between the time when the facets of Modernism had solid legs to stand on and when pop exploded via Lichtenstein or Warhol, Rothko's work always seemed to stand proudly on its own as an artist's life-long searching, asking, meditation. Even today, as some of his work hangs on the walls of the Tate Modern, where the wildest, hippest, newest contemporary work of today's world-at-your-fingertips info age rule, Rothko's paintings stand strong, as the host of the show put it, "not concerned with the 'here and now,' but with 'forever'."

(Rothko room at the Tate Gallery, London)

I've always thought Rothko's work was extremely important for another reason... it's one of the somewhat universal "gateways" for lay persons to become interested in what might be dubbed "high art." Think of how many times you have heard non-artists make comments like the good ol' "but *I* could paint that." Think about where statements like that come from - an underlying frustration those people hold against works they see on museum walls, because the piece in front of them doesn't have whatever sense of an 'honed craft' that they think works of high caliber must have. For example, take a Basquiat piece and imagine someone's frustrations. "My kid could do that. Why is it priced at 4 million dollars?" Well, in my experiences, Rothko's well-known work is more of an easier path for these folks. It's soft-edge color field abstraction at its best - to cheat all the beauty and power away and simplify things, it's usually 2 or 3 colors painted next to (and into) each other with a large clumsy brush opn a large canvas.

But... the beauty of it. The universal beauty, as you stand in front of it.

(Untitled, 1968)

If marajuana is the gateway drug to nastier pharmaceuticals, Rothko is the gateway artist to understanding and enjoying modern art.

...more coming on this, as soon as i have time to write more. Thoughts are kind of disjointed now.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

More video

Maybe the last of Propagandhi's new stuff that I've liked. It's damn good though, even if the music was beginning to sound like radio rock. 2001, Congress Theater Chicago.

The tangled webs they weave span from Pine to Ruby Ridge,
way back from Shay's defeat on up to Gustafsen
(now cue the ass parade of ditto-heads and commissars and pricks
to drown out this faintest threat of commie faggot heretics).

Conclusion: the nail that sticks up gets hammered down
and the master's finest tools are found
slack-jawed and placid amidst the cacophony
of screaming billboards and Disney-fied history.

Sometimes the ties that bind are strange:
no justice shines upon the cemetery plots marked Hampton, Weaver or Anna-Mae where
Federal Bureaus and Fraternal Orders
have cast their shadows; permanent features built into these borders.

But undercover of the customary gap we find between History and Truth, the Founding Fathers bask in the rocket's blinding red glare. The bombs bursting in air. One nation, Indivisible?

The truth is when the back-country learned of ratification the People had a coffin painted black and solemnly borne in funeral procession, they buried it deep in the earth as an emblem of the dissolution and internment of their Publick Liberty.

Someday, somewhere,
today's empires... tomorrow's ashes.

Monday, July 23, 2007

another trip down memory lane

on the way home from minneapolis this weekend, Coach and i listened to living colour's "time's up." we talked about how blown away by the band we were as junior high/early high school kids. corey has some LUNGS. and vernon is pretty phenomenal, even if his style was a little too bizarre and well, "avante guard/jazz-fusion-ey" for us back then. we never sit and critique guitar solos because, to me, sitting and discussing that shit is kind of uppity-lame. nevertheless, suffice it to say in a more visceral way, living colour always hit us in the gut back then. (oh - and Coach, my wife, and i met corey glover about a month ago when we saw him play Judas in jesus christ superstar. friggin AMAZING).

here's some live stuff. i think 1989 and 1991, respectively.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Rambler Songs.

Bob Seger.

Shellac of North America.

p.s. chad eats balls.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Sweet, Sweet Summer Car Shows

I saw this car at the Quad City Cruisers show at Southpark mall a few weeks back, but somehow have forgotten about it since then. I initially walked up to it because I was grabbing pics of nice 55, 56, and 57s, (my dad had a '5 and a '6), but not until a few seconds in did I realize I was looking at a 210 *hardtop* (usually you see 210 posts or bel air hardtops). I called my dad and told him about what I was standing in front of, and how it was the perfect mix of a few street mods and a few things left alone (cragar rims, but original steering wheel, for example). He sounded skeptical, and quizzed me on telltale signs between a hardtop and a "post." And I was right. A very cool, 1956 chevy 2-door, 210 hardtop. He has a book with the production numbers of these cars, and this was somewhat of a rare or unpopular style.

Enjoy the pics.

my dad's had the same side moulding, but was not two-tone. it was painted candy apple red, had wide tires underneath, and a whole list of very strong street machine mods (355 smallblock, Dyer's 6-71 supercharger, narrowed Ford 9 inch rear end with 4.11 gear ratio, etc etc).

I'm curious if most of these cars get it right like this fella did - the original white is a slight cream color called "India Ivory." The '56 chevy had a hidden gas tank behind the tail light. However, I'm not sure if it was the driver or passenger side. Any pros out there?

Exactly how I want the interior of my dream, a future '55.

Thursday, July 5, 2007


I just noticed there's a longer version of Public Enemy's music video for "Fight The Power" than the one I grew up with on MTV. Go youtube, go.

I met Chuck D about 5 years ago at a central Illinois stop on one of his speaking tours, and the man made me laugh. I was 14 years old when I first saw this video, and it made a pretty big impression on me. Needless to say, I was nervous when standing in line waiting to meet the guy, since I had looked up to him for so long. I was purposely last in line so I had a little bit longer to talk to him than the other folks. I didn't have anything for him to sign; I simply wanted to say hello and chat for a while. I told him that I had read he went to school for graphic design for a while, and that I was in the field myself. His eyes kind of opened up a bit, and he told me a funny story about how amazing his son is with Photoshop, and how he feels out of the loop with all the advances nowadays. A genuine guy - someone you felt like you could go grab some coffee with, but you better look tough while rolling with him.

The uncut, longer, non MTV version:

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Independence Day

Last night - July 3rd - my wife and I went down the hill to the downtown Davenport riverfront for the annual fireworks show. For those that don't know, The downtowns of both Rock Island, Illinois and Davenport, Iowa, sit across the muddy Mississippi from each other, and the cities' crowds have little "who can scream louder on the count of 3" contests before the show begins. All this goes on while kids are eating corn dogs, people are having a game of catch, and everyone simpy relaxes and is nice to each other for a day, while enjoying being outside with family. Americana at its best.

Every year on this holiday - well, every year since maybe my first years in college - I have found myself sitting and pondering the atmosphere of patriotism that surrounds. Taking pride in something such as the overarching "meaning" of the country I happened to be born in seems kind of strange to me, but at the same time, hey - I can't help it - I am fond of the Fourth of July.

There was a band of elderly veterans playing patriotic tunes before the show, and it seemed to be like I was stuck in a scene from a 1950s pleasantville - somewhat adorable, somewhat of an anachronism - but all in all, it started off as a very quaint, fun time for me. The band leader would stand between songs and address the large crowd via a PA system, introducing each new tune, its historical significance, a personal story, whathaveyou.

And then it started - that thing I can never quite put my finger on. After a few songs, we were all asked to stand and observe a reading from the Declaration of Independence, then we were asked to stand again for the pledge of allegiance, and then after this, we were asked to remain standing for another 5 minutes or so, as the emcee read off the names of the branches of our military, and asked for cheers and applause for our enlisted ones - like a pep rally for one really large, nationwide high school.

At first, with the Declaration of Independence reading, I felt somewhat proud. It's a strong piece of writing, and tells much about the essential human condition of yearning for freedom. But like always, I quickly felt a little out of place during the other items. I've seen countless programs that feautre snippets about WWII vets - amazing souls with their amazing stories, and how the looking at, saluting, and flying of the American flag brings forth an indescribable visceral reaction to them. And I completely respect that and find a sense of awe in it, but... I just don't have that. I wasn't "born" with that sense. And to be honest, I'm not even sure that if I were a veteran of that age, I would have it. To me, our flag is just a symbol, and a vague one at that. If it's a symbol of America, what is "America?" It's a concept that differs widely throughout each of its citizens. And we say a pledge of *allegiance* to this symbol. We say that this nation is "indivisible," and "under god," and that there is "justice for all."

Why make a solemn promise to these principals that do not include everyone's religious values? - Whose god?

Why make a pledge to an inaccurate indivisibility? - We are a country that often goes through periods where its citizens experience no gut feeling of a unified front, similar to the current years that have passed since autumn of 2001.

Why speak proudly of a "justice for all," especially with the recent news of our President's commutation of Scooter Libby's sentenced time in prison?

My writing here sounds sophomoric, but do you get my point?

So there we were, in the middle of a huge crowd, each and every one of us expected to go through this... "choreography" of patriotism. I felt like I was in church, and that is not good. Pride and patriotism do not come through mass ceremony.

As my wife and I looked around during the calling out of our branches of military, I had noticed that by this time, about 2/3 of the large audience was sitting back down, not paying attention. People were back with their families, smiling, eating corn dogs and cotton candy, playing catch, and waiting for the fireworks to begin. This is what happens when a seemingly endless war looms over the collective "head" of all of us. This is what happens when over and over, and over... and OVER again, our President acts more and more like a despot king. People tune out and lose faith, and get back to the things that really matter - not our nationalism, but our families and friends. Our inter-relationships with each other, not an us-versus-them mentality of viewing the world.

Really quickly, two photos...

I am actually planning on writing a long post today about my 4th of July holiday, but first, I wanted to quickly throw on 2 photos from the Quad City Times...

number one:

Steve Martens/QUAD-CITY TIMES Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee speaks with John Franzen, accountant at Genesis Medical Center-DeWitt, during a campaign visit Tuesday.

and number two:

(Larry Fisher/Quad-City Times) Former President Clintonl and U.S. Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., address the crowd during the Ready for Change Event in Davenport at the corner of 2nd and Main Streets

In a way, this has to do with what I want to write about today. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007