Monday, September 29, 2008

No joy, etc.

I just hate -- hate -- that it was the Marlins again.

And now, ladies and gentlemen, another long, cold, dark offseason.

When I played baseball as a kid, I never quite got the game. It was a mystery to me, the whole rate of failure, the game in your head, the bounces, the inches, the judgment of the umpire. Football was my game, something straightforward, physical. Line up across another guy and try to knock the snot out of him. Baseball, I was too uptight to really let it it fly. And my mind wandered. Now, watching games, I prefer baseball to football in every way. The beauty, the rhythms, the day to day of it. Today football is a different game from the one I loved, a game of specialization and matchups and strategy, plugging players in and out for specific plays, situations. That's just boring and impersonal to me, a kid who soaked up the stories of the sixties Packers and Giants and Browns and Rams.

Anyway, even though I love baseball now, there are still things I just don't get. The biggest being that you just can't bend any given situation to your will, at least as a hitter. The game is just too big and crazy and mysterious to me. Football, I always felt like you had a little control over things, if only biggest there's always somebody waiting to be knocked down.

Anyway, the first, undisputed fact is the bullpen has to be rebuilt from the ground up. Maybe you keep a couple guys, I don't know, but most of them have to be gone.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Couch


2003, oil on canvas, 22x28in.

Corn muffin

2003, oil on paper, @6x6in.

Lemon

1998, charcoal, @20x15in.

Morandi in the basement / Mets in the pennant race

I am looking forward to seeing the Morandi retrospective at the Met, but I was a little disappointed to see in the Times today that it's hanging in the lower level of the Lehman wing, which is below ground in a strange, circular layout of galleries adjacent to the cafeteria. Holland Cotter thinks this is fitting; I'd rather see these subtle, straightforward paintings up on the second floor in some skylit galleries and with some room to maneuver [a Morandi show is a rare event this side of the Atlantic; it's going to be crowded down in the Lehman catacombs]. There is some indirect natural light in the Lehman wing, but it's mostly for the interior courtyard where they usually don't hang art. Anyway, I hope I'm wrong, and the space does not take away from the work.

***

Meanwhile, the Mets are in a real, live division championship race with the Phillies, and it is excruciating fun.

***

Today's post was brought to you by the letter M.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Kid's eye view






What happens when my son gets his hands on a camera. At the risk of sounding like an easily pleased, too-proud parent, it's kind of nice to be reminded what the world looks like to a four year-old. The Wiggles shot from the tv is a little odd, considering he hasn't watched them in years. Looks like the Wiggles are in that transporter thing on Star Trek.


Monday, September 15, 2008

Highly recommended

Go see this show at Spencer Brownstone.

Jeff Gabel is a friend of mine who makes great work.

His latest drawings and stories are at Spencer Brownstone Gallery, 39 Wooster Street, till October 25.

I could describe his work, describe him, tell some funny story about some night we were drinking, but the thing is, you should just go see his work. Seriously, dude.

Last call [for us] at Shea


Yesterday was our last regular-season visit to Shea. We are still hoping for a chance to go back in the postseason, but we have two full weeks of baseball season left with a one-game lead over the Phils, so there's no way of knowing the chances yet [so let's go].

Therefore, we approached yesterday's game against the Braves like our last-ever, ever, ever game at Shea Stadium. I wore my favorite, if beaten and battered, torn and tattered, sweaty old royal blue Mets cap. And the day was pretty much a microcosm of the Met fan experience: good starting pitching, big day from David Wright, two run lead going into the ninth, majestic bullpen meltdown, enough of a rally in the bottom of the ninth to get your hopes up, but ultimately falling short. Designed to break your heart, indeed, pally. You know, it don't come easy.

A bittersweet goodbye to Shea. Consolation in the upcoming fourteen games over fourteen days and what should be a wild ride. Consolation in the last ever Mr. Met Dash at Shea, and my son's joy at running the bases. This time he was more determined than ever, and a laughing member of the field crew had to catch him after he crossed home plate because he was making a beeline for the home dugout. I lifted him up and he was panting like a racehorse. Consolation in my son seeing Mr. Met in the second inning, getting a pat on the head from the big fluffy hand. Consolation in seeing the home run apple twice, thanks to Mr. Wright.

We're going to miss Shea. A mess of a ballpark, sure, but ours, and seriously underrated. I saw Springsteen and the E Street Band there in 2003. I was there for game 7 in 2006. A Sunday game against the Braves on September 23, 2001 was one of the most emotionally draining days I've ever had, and was the first time in those days after the towers fell that I remember feeling anything like joy because the ballgame gave us a sense of community that was overpowering and, yes, healing [although it was another heartbreaking bullpen catastrophe. Thanks, Armando]. I liked Shea's wide open feel, the views of the subway and the LIRR out past the bullpen, and for some reason, I grew to love the upper deck best of all, sitting out there free and easy in the breeze with everything laid out below and only sky and jet airliners overhead. In comparison, Yankee Stadium felt claustrophobic to me after I grew to know Shea so well. But there's lots of baseball left, so no need to get sentimental yet. Let's go Mets!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Play

2008, oil on canvas, 15x10in.

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Monday, September 8, 2008

More works in progress

Party (2008), oil on canvas, 20x28in.


Phone call (2008), in progress (second state), oil on canvas, 20x20in.


Woman with wine and man (2008), in progress (second state), oil on canvas, 36x54in.


Woman in doorway (2008), in progress (second state), oil on canvas, 36x54in.


Woman with mirror and lamp (2008), in progress (second state), oil on canvas, 40x50in.


Dutch Genre Painting

I was looking at the progress on the latest B-movie paintings this weekend, and it occurred to me that there is a link between this work and Dutch genre painting of the seventeenth century. These interiors of mine, often with single women, or with ambiguous relations between men and women, painted with a severely limited palette meant to evoke the flickering blue light of television screens, feel to me like more menacing relations to the finely wrought, crystalline and grey Dutch paintings of men and women in interiors, sharing wine, playing music. Perhaps not so much the great Vermeer, but more akin to the lesser, though also great, Dutch painters like Ter Borch and de Hooch. Sometimes my work feels like Dutch genre paintings filtered through film noir. Some of these Dutch paintings also feel ambiguous to our eyes, though usually the meaning would have been crystal clear to seventeenth century Dutch viewers. In a similar way, I like to consider Matisse's underrated Nice-period work of the 1920's to be luxurious, overheated heirs to Dutch genre painting.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Heads

Face (2008), oil on paper, @22x15in.


Profile (2008), oil on paper, @22x15in.


Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Dying mall with American flag

2008, oil and pastel on paper, @20x28in.

We visited my home town last March. Toledo, Ohio. It was a rainy week so one day my mother, my wife and I took my son to Soutwyck Mall, where a carousel still runs even though most of the stores have left. I was kind of intrigued by the dying mall, which reminded me of a Romero movie. It was the mall where we played video games and watched movies and drank Orange Juliuses when I was growing up. So it was strange to see the doors shuttered and locked, but all the fixtures still bright and clean, the place mostly used by senior citizens getting in their morning exercise on a rainy day by walking the halls in their running shoes and track outfits. I took some photographs, including the one upon which this picture is based, and I believe that sometime in the next year or so I'll do a series based on the images of this dying mall.

In general, I was kind of saddened to see how my home town had grown kind of shabby in the years since I left. Roads in bad shape, malls emptying while new ones are built even further and further away from the city's center. To say nothing of the downtown, which started its slide some thirty years ago (was very sad to see the science center in the old Portside mall had closed). The image above is from the center fountain area of the mall. Its wide, plush carpeted, green steps was a place to hang out with friends, but the giant flag was not there when I was growing up, so I take it to be a post-9/11 decoration. There were still a few shops there when we were there -- a tattoo parlor, a couple gender-specific Foot Lockers, a couple other athletic stores. Just a weird, eerie feeling.