Friday, August 28, 2009

tomorrow... my wife's birthday.
Happy Birthday, honey, and thanks for everything, as always.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

breaking news

In a press conference later today, Omar Minaya is expected to announce that the New York Mets will be placing me, 41 year-old Brooklyn artist Patrick Jewell, on the 15-day disabled list. They are expected to call up my cat Livvie to take my place on the roster. Livvie throws right, bats left and plays for catnip.

Forgive me if you've heard this one, or something like it, before.

Sunday, August 23, 2009


An unassisted triple play to end the game? insert primal scream here.

although, truth is, this year as a mets fan, all you can do at this point is throw up your hands and laugh.

yeah. laugh until they cart you away.

unassisted triple plays are fascist.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Coincidence or premonition or something

Once before I made mention here of a novel I started to write about twelve years ago but never finished. There are a few lines from that novel that describe an artist's work--small, black and white paintings--and seem to presage the b movie paintings. Here's the full paragraph:

Harry starts back toward the Medieval Hall. He walks quickly. It feels good to be moving somewhere, leaving burglary behind, but Archie keeps up with him. Archie is a painter, too, who took nights because he doesn't like tourists, and he likes morning light best for his painting. Harry saw his work once and didn't think the light would be all that crucial for his small, sooty, black and white cityscapes. It was in a group show in a Brooklyn storefront, and Harry didn't think much of it, but he told Archie they were like Truffaut movies, which made Arch happy, even if neither of them knew exactly what it meant. A painting can't really be like a movie, for god's sake. 'How's the party going?' Archie says, fumbling to hook his flashlight to his belt, while trying to keep up with Flynn. 'You got the restaurant tonight?'

So I just think it's a little curious how things go, how a throwaway line from something I wrote years ago comes back to kind of describe paintings I've been making recently, especially since one of the reasons I started to work from imagery like the movies is because I was in a studio with no natural light in the early aughts. Funny old world.

A few things

I'm a painter.

You can wade through this weblog and see some of my work, read some of my thoughts and jottings.

This post is a reminder about some other places on the web where I do things, links to which are always on the right of this here bloggy thing.

Want to see a selection of my paintings? Go here.

Want see a lot of my paintings, drawings, prints, old work, photos of my studio? Here.

My day job is in the Media Center of the Library of Long Island University's Brookly Campus. Here's a newsletter I write there, mostly about movies in the collection.

We now return you to your regularly scheduled whatever.

What if....

Watching a Scooby Doo movie with my son, and Adam West does a voice, a crazy old beachcomber, big kahuna type. Got me thinking. I wonder how the world would be different today if Adam West had played Captain Kirk and William Shatner had played Batman.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

dere it is, dere it is, dere it is!

Home a lot of this week with my five year-old son. His daycare's closed for the week, and we're also having the bathroom redone. Stifling NYC August heat. So we are watching a lot of cartoons, I have to admit. Fun for both of us. Scooby Doo, Looney Tunes, Animaniacs, Superfriends. DVDs rock.

He likes the newer Scooby Doos, which are much more self-aware, of course, than the originals, and where Fred's become kind of a dim bulb, and Daphne's made herself more useful. And Velma never loses her glasses anymore. Mike Piazza makes a cameo in one of the newish ones. But we also some of the old guest star ones with Batman and Robin and the Harlem Globetrotters. One of my favorite things about watching Scooby Doo with him: the first time the gang got caught by one of those haunted house traps where the stairs collapse and turn into a slide, I said, "It's the old stairs-turn-into-a-slide" trick, and now he says that exact same sentence every time it happens. Which is a lot. It happened in a Superfriends episode yesterday, sending Robin into a deep pit, and he said it, and then he said, "Hey, that's the first time I've seen that trick with a hole at the bottom!" And it won't be the last, my son. It won't be the last.

Animaniacs are fun. Looney Tunes are perfect--nothing I can say right now to add to them. And Superfriends are great, corny, gentle fun.

Yesterday was the first time we tried one of the crafts, from the little sections between adventures. You remember, where Aquaman would show you how to make a piggy bank from an old bleach bottle, Superman would teach you how to bend iron pipe into a pinata, and Wonder Woman would tie a knot in a cherry stem with her tongue. Uh, waitaminute, no those aren't quite right. Must be thinking of some barely adolescent, David Lynchian fever dream.

So anyway. Yesterday Wonder Woman did have a craft project that we made at home and had a lot of fun with: a balloon powered rocket! And all you need is some string, some tape, a straw and a balloon. And it's pretty cool. You run the string through the straw, tie it between two places, blow up a balloon and tape it to the straw without tying the end. Count down and blastoff, letting go of the end and the ballon-straw rocket shoots on a straight line across the room. I felt kind of redeemed for letting my kid watch a lot of tv. Kind of pathetic, I know.

triple apple day

So I changed the title of this weblog the other day, looking for something odder and snappier than just my name, since this has become more than just another place to post images of my artwork. what does triple apple day mean? Besides a prescription for healthy eating? It comes from my son and his misunderstanding of a line from the Johnny Test theme song. I like the way it sounds, and don't really know what it means, more than that.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

James Ensor at the Modern

Finally made it to the Museum of Modern Art, my first visit since it reopened, since the reopening somehow coincided with my new fathershipness. My last visit must have been the Matisse/Picasso show in Queens.

I don't have much in the way of a fully formed reaction to the renovations and new galleries. I like that the helicopter is still prominent. The galleries feel a little confusing, for lack of a better word, in that I found myself having to think a lot about where I was walking next and why. And I have to say I liked the old Matisse room better, which had a window and felt more comfortable than the current Matisse gallery. The current gallery feels a little airless and claustrophobic in comparison and the paintings could use a little more breathing space. Some of the ab-ex stuff hasn't aged too well, I am sorry to say.

A couple reactions to the paintings, though, via my hero Henri Matisse. This time my favorite Matisse was the subtly drab Rose Table. And I found myself thinking about The Dance in a new way, perhaps because I've read Spurling's excellent two volume biography since the last time I was able to visit the Modern's fantastic Matisse collection. Looking at the Dance, I was struck by how he must have felt working on this piece in his studio, how strangely frightening it must have been, working on that scale, with that kind of color, and that simplified drawing and elegant crudity of line. It might have been exhilerating and terrifying all at once to be looking at this big wild thing in your studio.

I am nowhere near as afflicted with studio anxiety as Matisse was [it was almost debilitating for him], but I do feel it often enough to be comforted in knowing that Henri - and another painting hero of mine, Willem de Kooning - had his own doubts in the studio.

So anyway, the Ensor show. A trip and a half. Before this, I had seen only a handful of Ensors, and had not really ever given him much thought. When you've only seen a few in person, it's easy to write him off as a flake and a reclusive eccentric. But the chance to see a larger selection, all at once, that includes the scraped and knifed and darkly colored early work, the trademark masks and grotesqueries, and the beautiful graphic work - both the drawings and the etchings were a real revelation - really helped to make his work resonate with me, especially because of the theatricality, weirdness, and humor of my own b-movie paintings.

I'm not sure how yet, because only work will tell, but I'm looking forward to seeing how Ensor's own obsessiveness, theatricality, weirdness, and humor will affect my work. I know it's time to make some prints again, monotypes, drypoints, and some larger linocuts. And we'll see what happens.

Thursday, August 6, 2009


The drive from the Thruway down to Cooperstown on 28 has to be one of the most beautiful drives I've ever made. And the whole winding road just drips with Americana all the way to Cooperstown's Main Street. On the way, I got a couple texts and voicemails from my sister in Louisville -- she'd used her Slugger connections to not only comp us tickets but set up a behind the scenes tour for us.

The Franchise

On the tour, we saw a number of items close up, a mix of things that had been retrieved for VIPs to see the weekend before, which was induction weekend. A Joe DiMaggio glove, a Babe Ruth jersey and bat, a Jackie Robinson jersey, a Satchel Paige hat, a Lou Gehrig hat, and more. Our hosts were as kind and gracious [and patient with our five year-old] as could be.

We were able to handle some baseball bats as long as we were wearing the white cotton gloves, so we asked for a Mike Piazza bat, my wife's favorite Met. We saw a silver plated Babe Ruth bat, presented to him as a gift. I asked about a particular knob and was told it was one of Sammy Sosa's, and they assured me it wasn't corked; they had checked! A bat had a maple leaf stamped on its handle so I asked about that, and it was one of Alfonso Soriano's [a bigass bat, too], and the stamp simply meant it was made of maple.

Then I was handed a Honus Wagner bat. Wow. It was a big, thick handled, warm brown bat from Hillerich and Bradsby, with some kind of color decal remaining on its barrel. I tried to remember some of the things I knew about Wagner: his big hands which were said to scoop up dirt and rocks along with the ball as he fielded his position at shortstop. I choked up a couple inches and could imagine how it was used to slap and slash the ball around to all fields, the handle end so thick and weighty that his big hands and wrists must have been a kind of fulcrum. I could feel how the tool would fit the swing of an old time ballplayer, how the heavy thick handle would help balance the motion of the barrel making it a natural stick to slap and spray the ball around, a marked contrast to the modern bat of say, Sosa, with its thinner handle and the whiplike all or nothing torque produced by a modern power hitter.

I didn't want to be greedy, so I didn't push for more stuff like a kid in a candy store, but later you do wish, 'oh why didn't I think of asking for so and so's bat,' or what have you. It was a little overwhelming and an enormous, undreamed-of treat. My son said his favorite part was turning one of the enormous cranks which move the bookshelves which hold every book ever written on the game. Everywhere you turned there was some fascinating bit of baseball history or lore or just plain quirkiness.

My childhood heroes, the Big Red Machine

So yeah, wow. After thanking our gracious hosts, we moved on to explore the museum and its galleries, and I have to say that the place is worth the trip even without the VIP treatment. The Hank Aaron section is great, as is the section on fans and ballparks, and the sections on the Negro Leagues and Latin America. The staff is great. My son liked the clip of Abbott and Costello, too. And there's a nice feeling as you walk around with all the other baseball fans, most folks decked out in their team's colors. I think we'll go back, and take some more time to explore some of the other attractions in the area.

Also highly recommended: a meal at the Doubleday Cafe, again on a tip from my sis. Thanks again, Sis, and many, many, many thanks to our hosts Jim and Sue. You can tell they love spreading a little baseball joy. And they know that we Met fans need all the joy we can get this year.

Jerry Koosman's jersey from '69

Niagara Falls

The falls themselves are a thrilling sight. To get close on the Maid of the Mist or on one of the tunnel walks is a pretty awe-inspiring experience. I'd advise you to skip the cheesy '4-D' Fury of Niagara CGI movie, though. We also had a lunch up in the Skylon Tower, a massive and strange cement tower with a weird, Battlestarish name, and though the food was nothing special, the view in the revolving restaurant was great. And the elevator ride was fun, too.

We stayed in a crowded camping complex full of tents and RV's and cabins. Kind of like the good camp in The Grapes of Wrath. We had a cabin. I got to cook out most nights, and even succeeded in making a couple campfires. Gotta love fire. We had no plumbing in the cabin, so it was a shortish walk to the toilets and showers. There was also a swimming pool and waterpark, a playground and a small arcade. It was great fun.

A short walk from the Falls is Clifton Hill, a jarring and cheesy stretch of shiny tourist trap amusements, even worse than today's 42nd street. Ripley's, a House of Frankenstein, a Dracula's Castle, Wax Galleries, and so on. I wasn't expecting that kind of stuff, but it's good cheesy fun. We didn't get the chance to spend any money there, which is fine.

A funny mix of small town and touristy junk and natural wonder.

And the drive up was nice, we took 17 to Elmira, then up to Rochester and over to Buffalo. What a great big beautiful state New York is.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

kid's eye view

My son wanted to use the camera. This is a five year old's perspective on the Niagara rapids.

the 2009 Mets and W.B. Yeats

See, The Second Coming.

Widening gyres, centers can't hold, things fall apart, rough beasts slouch, etc.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

more Falls

night photos

Some vacation pics, taken at dusk or at night, around the cabin where we stayed.

Monday, August 3, 2009


Had a great week off. We drove to Niagara Falls.

a few random Met fan thoughts

Is it better to be out of contention early, or to suffer through the last day of the season failures of the past two years? I don't know.

Whenever the bases are loaded, the chance for a grand slam crosses my mind. Last Saturday, with Angel Pagan walking to the plate with the bags full, not even the remotest possibility of a salami crossed my mind. Not the most remote inkling, not the vaguest pie-in-the-sky, fairy godmother granting wish, genie in a bottle, lottery-winning, golden ticket dream entered my weary Metfan soul.

We also stopped at Cooperstown last week. Highly recommended, and I will spill more on that soon, because, thanks to my big sister, it was a very special visit. Meantime, I will just say that I wish with all my heart that the Tom Glavine Met jersey be removed from display. They don't have to burn it and let Jerry Seinfeld dance on the ashes or anything, but they should take it and fold it carefully and put it somewhere it will never see the faintest light of day again.

Also, why not more '86 stuff? Just Ray Knight's helmet, far as I could tell. Seaver case was great, and the Koosman jersey. And I loved the Big Red Machine display as they were my faves as a kid.

As somebody who has not lost faith in the core of the team, this is going to be a rough end of the season, and an ugly offseason.

Well, let's go Mets, anyway. It's still baseball, and that's good.