Less Than Sixty Days

Just past the seven-week mark of this, the longest-seeming presidency of mine or many other’s experience, and the atmosphere is one of exhaustion and the taint of hopelessness. I try to not let the gravity of this whole thing weigh down on me. I live in a sanctuary city, in a state whose AG is fighting or vowing to fight the various and multitudinous injustices of a demagogic federal executive, on a coast which is unilaterally against the Orange Menace. And, I am objectively smarter now than I was when Bush slimed his way into the presidency (and subsequently injected the various neo-conservative filth from his father’s posse in the rooms adjacent the Oval Office), and certainly more sober. All the same, the shadow of it follows wherever I go.

This is not liberal over-reaction or the hurt feelings of some special little snowflake. We should not treat this as normal. Bush was not terribly normal himself, but compared with the present he would be a breath of fresh air.

Speaking of fresh air, try not to get attached. For all the crowing about the rights of businesses to make money without hindrance, there doesn’t seem to be a lot of sympathy for the rights of the humans within (and without) those businesses to continue breathing freely, or for that matter drinking freely. To be presented with clear evidence of destructive pollution and follow that by allowing for more is unthinkable. Businesses that do not respect people do not deserve to make money, let alone exist. Their rights end where they obstruct our rights to basic human needs.

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Flint, Michigan has not had clean water for three years. THREE YEARS. They are still being told to drink bottled water. The effect of this issue will haunt them for many years, an unalterable wrinkle that will decide the fates of so many people.

Coal will make a comeback, no matter the consequence. We can expect an increase in the usual air pollution but add to that increased pollution of creeks, streams, and rivers. With a lobby-driven flourish of his pen, 45 has stricken regulations on the mining of coal near streams (a regulation to protect water sources from surface mining debris). A government that protects business interests over human interests is a terroristic government. Without direct violence, they become responsible for the deaths of many.

A citizenry that openly applauds these efforts has been blinded by party politics and a false idea of American individualism. That citizenry heralds their own dismal future. We are not animals that can exist on our own. We are pack animals. We created government as a means of directing and protecting all of our kind, not just those who were able to climb over their brothers and sisters to stand on the tip of the pyramid. We are nothing if not a giant family. Our differences are what makes us dynamic and competitive and interesting. To deny that is utterly disheartening. We cannot become a country of villains, a country undeserving of any title of honor on the global stage. Not even a participation trophy.

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This turned out to be a bit of a rant, for which I am not sorry. If nothing else, this counts as therapy.

If you are still here, I would recommend a podcast I just found. There may or may not be a bias in the annals of the Washington Post or New York Times (despite being still very good journalism), but one outlet I’ve found to be unceasing in criticism no matter the party is The Intercept. They also have a podcast, which you should listen to, called Intercepted. Hosted by Jeremy Scahill (who most notably covered the evils of the mercenary group Blackwater) with great production and wonderful music.

And that is where I will leave you. Have a great week! Let’s hope for the tweet to end all tweets. And, not to overstate it, but Lucas would’ve hated this.

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Lucas Would’ve Hated This

It’s been awhile. A pin drops in this blog and it rings loudly, like that sad and sleepless silence that pervades the countryside in the dark of night. Between the last post and this, many things have happened, too many to truly enumerate. I will cover a couple.

Occasional contributor to this blog and frequent contributor to my joy, Lucas Cain, passed away. Or that’s too soft, “passed away.” Lucas dropped off this world, suddenly and tragically. He was here and then he wasn’t. Laughing with us in a bar too late and then not doing that ever again. Theoretical loss can be painful, that is until real loss is born. Absence, and the knowledge that this absence is permanent, is flashing and loud in its lack of substance. That emptiness is what sits invisibly on your chest, obstructing breath and clenching the throat.

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“Resting Man” Anne Petty

Lucas still lives on in our memories, in paintings that adorn my apartment walls, and in some pieces of this blog. He occupied a large space in many of our minds and continues to do so after his physical existence has ceased. He’d be overjoyed that we keep talking about him. He died with the real possibility in his mind that Bernie could take the White House, and for that he was lucky. He’d never believe the shit we’re in right now.

Which brings me to the other thing. He whom we shall not name, the Cheeto-dusted and bloated bag of Confederate memorabilia. A reality TV spectacle was elected to the highest position in our government. A man whose Goodreads account would begin with Mein Kampf and end with the assembled speeches of Adolf Hitler (where in reality he just scanned the Cliff Notes of each). A man who shits on a golden toilet but can’t seem to buy a suit or tie that fits. If the descriptor “presidential” had any meaning before, it has completely ceased to mean anything at this point. There was a time where we could laugh at memes of a child-like dictator pointing at various objects safe in the knowledge that no such idiot strongman ruled over our much more competent and thoughtful nation. Ah, the good ole days!

I wasn’t around for this country’s other more fractious and frightening times (or else I was too young to be aware of it), so where we are at is very disorienting and stressful to me. I assume that this is still the case for those who’ve been through such times (assuming they aren’t fawning after the failed steak salesman and his assembled band of clueless silver spooners). At no point could I have predicted that a party so vigorously opposed to the very idea of Russia would be, if not openly praising their dictator, shrugging away the blatant attempts at bending the West to their purpose. It defies logic.

At the same time, nothing short of this wannabe emperor could have engaged so many people in protest and activism. From coast to coast, we’ve assembled with passionate or comedic signs, to march, to chant, to debate, to express, in the streets, in city parks, at town halls, in each other’s living rooms, outside reticent congressmen’s homes. We’ve talked about things we’d kept to ourselves, admitted mistakes and committed to actions, watched documentaries and read non-fiction books. We’ve started reading more news than at any times in our lives.

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Seattle Womxn’s March

These are the times that we need to understand what the essential character of our country should be, no matter where on the political spectrum we fall. Decisions based on fear, free of fact, cannot be trusted. Look at the statistics, mine the underlying reasons for the problems we face, understand the complaints of our neighbors. To line up blindly behind the big red R or the big blue D gives a sense of civic duty without the work to back it up. We need to stand for ideas, not for parties. If something is wrong, it is wrong, no matter what jackass found himself behind the big desk in the Oval Office.

Obviously, there is too much going on right now to speak to each unjust and/or idiotic action. Various news outlets can elucidate the particulars of the day (and, seriously, be various with your new sources). Suffice it to say, Lucas would’ve hated this (though he’d make a mean protest sign).

Gallery

“Observing Observing (a white cup): Anne Petty”

Interview with my very talented wife for an upcoming show.

PROGRAPHICA: In the Mind of the Artist

With each exhibition, we will post interviews with the participating artists along with a photo of said artists in their studios and images of their work. In the future, we will post videos of artist interviews.

“Observing Observing (a white cup)” opens September 12th and continues through October 31, 2015

Curated by Eric Elliott, Michael Howard & Norman Lundin. More than twenty artists (both gallery artists and not) accepted the invitation to submit work.

Reception for the artists, Sept. 12, 2 – 4 pm

Artist Interview #15: Anne Petty

1. How did you respond to the idea of the white cup?

My first instinct was to stick a figure into the paintings, as that is my usual subject matter, however I don’t often paint still life’s, so I thought I’d take this as an opportunity to do so. The cup I used is ceramic and reflective. I wanted to use that quality and…

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A Summary Reflection on Summer and Matrimony

Wow, time sails by. Here we are in the latter part of July, three months from the last post on this page, on the ringed side of a solstice wedding, deep into the sinews of a roasting summer, the grills in the distance spinning out smoke and that sweet caramelized smell reminiscent of all those others summers when you were younger and probably drinking Rainiers like bottled water, or too many IPAs before they got warm. Here we are on top of our blankets at night, spread eagle before the box fan. Here we are, figuring out who’s got beer and A/C and a table in the corner where you can be anti-social with a book or a journal or the crossword, the Sunday crossword, that you’ll fill out a bit of before just staring at the ceiling because you can’t remember the word “epee”.

I got married. In the rainforest heat of St. Louis, which was receiving the wet end of some hurricane somewhere else. His name was Bill. This hurricane. The rain neglected to show up the day of the wedding. And returned the next day. We got lucky. And in everything else too we were lucky. Thanks to the efforts of so many family and friends, the thing went off amazingly. The bride and groom didn’t break down during vows. They didn’t falter when speaking. Or fall at any time. The Kiss was photogenic and not weird (because usually we don’t kiss for an audience, which is weird). They gave each other rings and said sweet incantations to tie it all up in a bow. Married.

Now back to Seattle. To working. To biking and grilling and drinking IPAs in the park (or on a roof or in front of a fan in your apartment). Back to a slightly different existence of legal commitment and referring to someone as “wife” casually (so so strange!). We can all be married now. Let’s all be merry now.

On the Way to That Place You Thought You Were Going

Creativity doesn’t always come easy. It doesn’t come from a place of merely wanting to write. That doesn’t make it be. It doesn’t always come out the meeting of four well-intentioned guys, hoping to sip from the fount of profundity, hoping to dip digital pens in it and spread it across a blog somewhere in the vast internet. That fount doesn’t beckon to any random call. It wanders about the ether invisibly, alighting upon the unwitting at random, only some of which take advantage of that sudden inspiration instead of vegging out on reruns of Friends on Netflix, or finishing Firefly because it is supposed to be good.

Sometimes camaraderie is worth the trip, even if the goal was to concurrently write something of worth and weight. The goal isn’t always the thing that matters. The goal is a point of direction. The trip to that goal is something more worthy of the time spent, even if that goal is never reached or that goal morphs into something altogether different. Sometimes you get four guys together to write about Seattle music, but you end up eating amazing food, drinking great beer, and having unvetted and directionless conversation while looking out over Ballard to the mountains backed with the oozing yolk of the sun.

This blog doesn’t have to define itself just yet (maybe never). It merely has to be a sounding board. It needs no true goal yet. The trip will define it, if we let it. Its goal may turn out to be rather mundane and unglamorous. That does not say anything of the path that led it there. Write to write. Write when the fount has alighted upon your head. When no-one is watching, you’ve no reason to explain how anything you write fits inside the blog’s raison d’être. We’ve got all the time in the world to cordon things off into themes. Right now, it’s better to just write about something.

So, this is a call to arms (typing fingers?) for my fellow bloggers. Don’t over-analyze it. Write. About whatever. In the meantime, we can revel in the incidental camaraderie of our well-intentioned meetings. And drink beer.

Lord of the Rings, On Being Read by this 31-Year-Old

I’ve finished The Lord of the Rings. I mean, I haven’t read through to the last page yet, but I’ve finished it for all intents and purposes. The One Ring found its fate in the boiling lava of Mount Doom along with that erstwhile hobbit-cum-cavern creature Gollum. Not to mention Frodo‘s ring finger. For some reason I can’t understand, Tolkien decides that another hundred pages are required following this massive climax. I just want to assume that they made their way home, found the aging Bilbo talking to himself in Rivendell, settled into their little garden homes in the Shire and smoked pipeweed until they met their maker (specifically Eru Ilúvatar). That’s fine for me. I don’t need to drudge through the impending travels back across Middle Earth. Strider is the king now. WHOA! Frodo saved the world (which cost him a finger). WHOA! All the magic rings have now become useless and mortality prevails in Middle Earth. Wow. Tolkien needed to learn to quit while he was ahead.

CG depiction of Gollum created by Weta Digital...

Precious little demon (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I will say that since the last time I wrote about this, much happened (obviously). Most dramatically, I became obsessed with The Lord of the Rings and the lore created within. I stand by my earlier thought that the first book is trash. It is of a pair with this ending. Dragging us through near meaningless drivel. But, the party starts with the second book. Oh boy. And it doesn’t end until that little slimy demon Smeagol falls into the mountain cauldron. I don’t have much to say. I won’t analyse too much. I am ready to get back to literature, something that produces extra thought, not just imaginative excitement. But I can’t deny that excitement. I will just share two videos that buoyed that excitement while I was still riding the high of it all. CGP Grey is just about the best thing on YouTube. And he came out with these two videos just in time to stir the nerd fire in my heart. I won’t be reading the Silmarillion, so I am glad that someone did it for me. Enjoy:


Serial Monotony: clickswipedate

Dating has always been in some ways (or perhaps more accurately, for certain people) a bit of game. But now it is something else entirely, a game we play on smartphones or Macbooks in solitary bemusement and without the hope for real human connection. What happens when we lose our desire to find someone right for us in our haste to achieve the highest score? I’ve found myself de-humanizing the faces I come across, reducing them to the basest ideas of attractiveness, personality, or fit. What does that say about me, or is it merely a reflection of the world we now come to accept as inevitably colder than the one in which we once lived? Continue reading