Wednesday, November 26, 2008

look at all the love we found.

As messed-up as some things can be, I am still amazed at what I am surrounded by. Serenades and phone calls and little gifts and the best thing ever: time with the people I love and care about, whether it's long distance over the phone, or just chilling out.

I am so blessed to have what I have.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008


I turn 25 today. I don't think I'm a midlife or even quarterlife crisis kind of person but I've been feeling pretty low the past two days. Still, I feel good about the show I did this morning and I'm just going to try and get through today.

playlist 11/25/08

diplo- summer's gonna hurt you
tv on the radio - family tree
lupe fiasco - kick push
joe gibbs - universal dub
dr alimantado - here for a purpose
love - alone again or
kristin hersh & michael stipe - your ghost
gutter twins - who will lead us?
ollabelle - no more my lord
martina topley-bird - anything
cut chemist - the garden
joe strummer and the mescaleros - tony adams
regina carter - higher ground
outkast - liberation
irene stevenson - if it had not been for jesus
the masonic wonders - i called him
sonic youth - tabla in suburbia
mazzy star - take everything
U2 - acrobat
afghan whigs - uptown again
the cure - cut
lamb - this could be heaven

Monday, November 24, 2008

picking up.

There are some people that you meet and you feel like they're in your life for too short of a time and you wish you had more of a chance to get to know them. One of the problems with living in an area with a notorious "brain drain" is that some of the best minds end up leaving and only returning for holidays and funerals.

The one girl was roommates with one of my best friends and when I first moved back here, I loved hanging out with them, sharing a similar love of creating and the Creator, and when she and her fiance got married and moved to the Carolinas where the jobs were, I assumed that would be the last I would see of them.

My sister and I were thrilled when we learned they were moving back to the area, and not just to Cleveland, but to East Cleveland to take the art and the skills they learned and give them back to the community. We're sitting in an apartment overlooking Euclid Avenue, trading ideas and catching up and we didn't realize how much time had passed. It's so good to know there's others who share similar visions and are digging in for the long run.

Friday, November 21, 2008

makes me wanna holler...

I hate it when I hear people complain about their jobs when so many people are losing theirs. I really hate it. I can't tell you how many people I know and friends who know people who are losing or have lost their jobs. The ones that are working are barely making ends meet or are dealing with eviction notices and family drama and general life stuff. We're letting people store their stuff in our attic while they find new places to live, offering the use of our couches and the spare room in the back, trying to connect people and their needs so we can all help each other.

Talked to a friend last night who's raising not just her kids but her sister's too, and whose husband just lost his job. They had nothing to eat for dinner yesterday and while she said I didn't have to "put myself out," I ended up bagging up some cans from my pantry and some veggies from the fridge, making a run to save-a-lot on 58th and driving over there.

I don't have much, but dammit, I've got a steady paycheck right now, and evidently this is something that's becoming harder and harder to come by. Besides, I'm supporting me, myself, and I, right now and, as my dad says, I live like a monk. I wouldn't and shouldn't be able to sleep at night.

It seems like some of those who claim to be loving God ignore this or have other things that they're freaking out about, but this is what's been resonating with me:

14 What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? 15 Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. 16 If one of you says to him, "Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed," but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? 17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. (james chapter 2)

There was an article in Scene about how for every homeless person in Ohio, there's three abandoned homes. I'm no urban planner by any means, but evidently we worry if these guys fix up these homes on the east side, they can't afford property taxes, yet it's totally ok to give tax breaks to yuppies on the west side who move into neighborhoods and jack the rent up for everyone else? Tell me if I'm missing something. Maybe I am.

And this song seems to be the soundtrack for everything I keep hearing and seeing. How much has really changed?

Thursday, November 20, 2008

I hear about the snowstorm coming and i want to retreat to my apartment, listen to records as the wind roars, paint with summer colors and cover surfaces with glitter as the world turns white.

I am not going anywhere tonight.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

the concept of love

I know it's cliche to rant about bad art, and maybe part of it is jealousy because if I knew I could make crazy money just by being the first person to exhibit dead animals floating in formaldehyde, I'd do it too, maybe.

And this is why I have no patience for Thomas Kinkade. Part of this is because he just kind of paints little flecks on prints, but Andy Warhol was just as guilty of crass commercialism. I think what bothers me is that these are deemed inspiring and godly or something and that just seems kind of insulting to God, and embarrassing to me, I guess, though I'm sure that God's used to people doing all sorts of stupid stuff and worse in his name.

He seems to be doing the American enterprising thing and delving into all sorts of other business ventures other than endless replication of country cottage gardens and lighthouses ad nauseam on every conceivable surface imaginable. He's not just inspiring soulless subdivisions, he's moved into book publishing and film territory now as well.

This guy's got an ego bigger than Kanye's and Bono's combined, and here are his filming suggestions from the auteur himself. Thinks he's the next Kubrick or Hitchcock.

Thomas Kinkade's

The Christmas Cottage

The sixteen guidelines for creating the "The Thomas Kinkade Look".

1) Dodge corners or create darkening towards edge of image for "cozy" look. This may only apply to still imagery, but is useful where applicable.

2) Color key each scene to create mood, and color variation. When possible, utilize cooler tones to suggest somber moods, and warmer, more vibrant tones to suggest festive atmosphere. In general, create a color scheme for each scene that can be accentuated through filtering, DI treatments, or through lighting. Most of my paintings feature an overall cool color envelope, into which warm accents are applied.

3) Create classic compositions. Paintings generally utilize a theme and variation compositional motif. Heavy weighting of the image towards one side, with accented areas of interest balancing it on the other side. Allow the eye to wander into the scene through some entry point. Be aware of where the viewer is standing at all times. Utilize traditional eye levels for setting the shot -- that is, no high vantage points, off-kilter vantage points, or "worms eye view" vantage points. Generally focus on a standing adults viewpoint of the scene at hand.

4) Awareness of edges. Create an overall sense of soft edges, strive for a "Barry Lyndon" look. Star filters used sparingly, but an overall "gauzy" look preferable to hard edge realism.

5) Overall concept of light. Each scene should feature dramatic sources of soft light. Dappled light patches are always a positive, glowing windows, lightposts, and other romantic lighting touches will accentuate the overall effect of the theme of light.

6) Hidden details whenever possible, References to my children (from youngest to oldest as follows): Evie, Winsor, Chandler and Merritt. References to my anniversary date, the number 52, the number 82, and the number 5282 (for fun, notice how many times this appears in my major published works). Hidden N's throughout -- preferably thirty N's, commemorating one N for each year since the events happened.

7) Overall sense of stillness. Emphasize gentle camera moves, slow dissolves, and still camera shots. A sense of gradual pacing. Even quick cut-away shots can slightly dissolve.

8) Atmospheric effects. Whenever possible utilize sunset, sunrise, rainy days, mistiness -- any transitory effect of nature that bespeaks luminous coloration or a sense of softness.

9) A sense of space. My paintings feature both intimate spaces and dramatic deep space effects. We should strive for intimate scenes to be balanced by deeper establishing shots. (I know this particular one is self-evident, but I am reminded of it as I see the pacing of the depth of field in Kubrick's "Barry Lyndon".)

10) Short focal length. In general, I love a focal plane that favors the center of interest, and allows mid-distance and distant areas to remain blurry. Recommend "stopping down" to shorten focal lengths.

11) Hidden spaces. My paintings always feature trails that dissolve into mysterious areas, patches of light that lead the eye around corners, pathways, open gates, etc. The more we can feature these devices to lead the eye into mysterious spaces, the better.

12) Surprise details. Suggest a few "inside references" that are unique to this production. Small details that I can mention in interviews that stimulate second or third viewings -- for example, a "teddy bear mascot" for the movie that appears occasionally in shots. This is a fun process to pursue, and most movies I'm aware of normally have hidden "inside references". In the realm of fine art we refer to this as "second reading, third reading, etc." A still image attracts the viewer with an overall impact, then reveals smaller details upon further study.

13) Mood is supreme. Every decision made as to the visual look of each shot should include the concept of mood. Music can accentuate this, use of edges can accentuate this, atmospheric effects accentuate this, etc.

14) The concept of beauty. I get rid of the "ugly parts" in my paintings. It would be nice to utilize this concept as much as possible. Favor shots that feature older buildings, ramshackle, careworn structures and vehicles, and a general sense of homespun simplicity and reliance on beautiful settings.

15) Nostalgia. My paintings routinely blend timeframes. This is not only okay, but tends to create a more timeless look. Vintage cars (30's, 40's, 50's, 60's etc) can be featured along with 70's era cars. Older buildings are favorable. Avoid anything that looks contemporary -- shopping centers, contemporary storefronts, etc. Also, I prefer to avoid anything that is shiny. Our vintage vehicles, though often times are cherished by their owners and kept spic-n-span should be "dirtied up" a bit for the shoot. Placerville was and is a somewhat shabby place, and most vehicles, people, etc bear traces of dust, sawdust, and the remnants of country living. There are many dirt roads, muddy lanes, etc., and in general the place has a tumbled down, well-worn look.

16) Most important concept of all -- THE CONCEPT OF LOVE. Perhaps we could make large posters that simply say "Love this movie" and post them about. I pour a lot of love into each painting, and sense that our crew has a genuine affection for this project. This starts with Michael Campus as a Director who feels great love towards this project, and should filter down through the ranks. Remember: "Every scene is the best scene."

The list above is not all-inclusive, but is a good starting point for internal dialogue. These guidelines are not listed in order of importance, but are dictated off the top of my head. After painting for nearly 40 years, I still wake up every morning daydreaming about new ways to make paintings. Creating a movie is a natural extension of the picture making process, and hopefully my catalog of visual paintings, along with my visual guidelines in this memo will provoke dialogue, experimentation, and a sense of over-arching visual purpose.

Yeesh. Give me Dave McKean any day.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

playlist 11/18/08

flunk - blue monday
stephen marley - you're gonna leave
the roots - the seed/melting pot (live)
amadou & mariam - m'bife / coulibaly
manu chao - primavera / me gustas tu
marcelino daha - plim plim
cal tjader - soul sauce (fila brazilia remix)
antibalas - go je je (request)
pavement - embassy row
ella fitzgerald & count basie - 'deed i do
tony allen - no discrimination
hiret benele - almorekum neber
antonio carlos jobim - corcovado / one note samba (request)
king sunny ade - sunny special (request)
the pixies - here comes your man
anna luisa - do zero
fugazi - break
idlewild - i found that essence rare (gang of four cover)
john frusciante - water
the ruts - give youth a chance
marvin gaye - right on / wholy holy

Monday, November 17, 2008

the best-laid plans

So much for the best laid plans. Me and the roommate were tired as anything and promptly went to sleep on Friday night, deferring our music-making for another time when we weren't feeling total exhaustion.

There's a new girl helping out with the kids and she's fantastic. We've split up the group between volunteers which makes things less chaotic and also gives us a chance to work with some of the kids on a more individual level. They all took assessments last week and they're all still at kindergarten level so there's a lot of catching up to do. I was doing some math with some of the older girls and I'm starting to learn everyone's names.

It was so icky and cold outside but we stopped over at Paul's and ended up hanging out with some mutual friends to get pizza, listen to Brazilian music, chill out and talk about the good things, and watch some documentary about bossa nova music that got me all inspired to get my Antonio Carlos Jobim book back from my sister.

Sunday, saw the cousins. Strange to see what happens to all of us as we grow up.

I thought about throwing myself a 25th birthday party but, as usual, realize that this will not happen. Instead of that, I'll just do what I usually do and do some hanging out over the next couple weeks on the small scale with the people in my life that I love.

Friday, November 14, 2008


Last weekend was jamming with the Ethiopians. This weekend it's me and the roomie hitching a ride with my dad and his fellow musicians down to the hinterlands of Medina for one of the biggest bluegrass jams in Ohio.

I tagged along a couple years ago to this thing with my dad and one of his best friends and it was like this huge party. It's held in this church and each of the classrooms off to the side has a group of musicians all sitting in a circle playing off each other. There's a shared knowledge as far as songs go because most of them are traditionals, and if you're not familiar with the song, everyone's very willing to show you what to do.

What's good about this one is that there's so many little clusters of people, you can gravitate toward the others who've got similar skill levels or musical interests. It's not the kind of music that lends itself to egomania because of its communal nature, so everyone gets included and the ones who are really gifted get their chance to shine in turn.

I'm not exactly sure what it'll be this time around, but I'm pretty sure it's going to be good.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


This is too funny.

I've always thought this video was goofy as anything, and I'm glad someone else sees the absurdity too. Not my favorite Chilis song, but that part at the end gets me every time.

Also, John Frusciante has another solo album coming out, which I'm looking forward to, considering that almost everything that guy has done since he's gotten off heroin is incredible.

if it's too loud you're too old

So I'm running some errands last night and happen to flip to the classic rock radio station and lo and behold, they are about to play the long awaited single for "Chinese Democracy."

It's probably not fair of me to say it's awful, having never been a fan of the band in the first place. But I get the feeling that the fans of Appetite for Destruction won't find much to love there either.

Since I love all three of you who read this and that Chris Cornell clip posted was torture enough, I'm going to leave it to you to find the youtube video which involves lots of tanks and Chinese people and people throwing bombs and Axl Rose being his usual self.

Otherwise, here's the playlist for the show this week:

erykah badu - didn'tcha know
manu chao - mi vida
al-pha-x - first transmission
funkadelic - i'll stay
martina topley-bird - need one
twilight singers - last temptation
brmc - love burns
cafe tacuba - tengo todo
digable planets - pacifics
diplo - big lost
lauryn hill - i used to love him
habib koite - cigarette a bana
amadou & mariam - coulibaly
red hot chili peppers - my lovely man
jane's addiction - summertime rolls
dengue fever - 1000 tears of a tarantula
the dirtbombs - if you can want
the clash - clampdown / guns of brixton
novalima - zamba lanco
tony allen - ariya
robert plant & alison krauss - rich woman
my bloody valentine - soon

Monday, November 10, 2008


No pictures from this weekend. My camera was left on my bookshelf and so there's no photos of African kids, Ethiopian revivals, the snow on my car this morning, or anything else.

Caught up with Dan Friday night to hear about the great road trip out west. I live vicariously through the travels of others until I can make these adventures myself. Attempted to create art this weekend that ended up looking dismal. I'll get the hang of it sometime.

People I used to know are evidently all messed up now. I guess we all have an endless capacity for self-destruction, but it still breaks me up inside. In between moments of the truly amazing and sublime, I found myself getting full of despair about the state of things. I'm thankful for very good friends who are solid as anything and have much more life experience than me, who chill me out and put everything in perspective.

Burundi kids were good this week. We have another volunteer who's a little better at this whole keeping order in the classroom thing, which is really good. After the chaos of the last time, I wasn't sure what to expect, but I walk in the door and I'm mobbed with hugs from ten little kids who are all ready to play soccer in the hallway and show me what they're learning.

Went straight from there over to church to meet up with my roommate and hang out with the Ethiopians and witness my very first old-school revival service, Ethiopian style. Watched a woman get healed from blindness. Stayed for my very first meal of Ethiopian food, learned how to eat with injera instead of a fork and knife. Heard stories about Detroit that made me want to go back.

Helped with music on Sunday and got completely lost in the first song, as the key was something like D-Sharp and there isn't really a verse-chorus verse formation to slip into. Thankfully my amp wasn't turned up too loud and I found my groove on the second and third. That current obsession with Fela, Ethiopian jazz and African pop in general really paid off.

Friday, November 7, 2008

and it rips my life away but it's a great escape...

Somehow I managed to limp through a day that started dismal and is finally starting to look up. I'm looking forward to returning back to my apartment, where I'll have a night free to listen to my newest stack of sounds from the library and pull out the paints.

There has been so much in the way of heightened emotions between our own personal turmoils and then the national level of probably the most interesting presidential race of my lifetime climaxing. Everything just feels so amplified, like our heartbeats were run through a stereo system with subwoofers and the reverberations just shook everything up.

I had a lot of crazies at my work this week. After two summers of working the ticket window at the Cleveland Zoo, I can handle most people because at least here, I'm not cussed out on a daily basis. But there, you were all wearing the same bright red polo shirt and you knew you'd probably never see that person again, and here that person will eventually get to know who you are and you are no longer anonymous.

I'm just so ready to get away, retreat and hide, with my stereo and my green tea and my paints. I think it's a Blind Melon and Mark Lanegan night.

she's lost control again...

Evidently, I'm really good at failing.

I think everyone knows this.

For some reason, I like this version better than the Joy Division original.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

election day playlist

Requests for Steppenwolf, the Who, and Jefferson Airplane that I couldn't fill.

Otherwise a much more funky show that attempted to be at least a little less political than most. Finally told the caller to go with WNCX if he wanted those tracks. They didn't fit my format this morning for sure.

the pharcyde - hey you
burial - ghost hardware
erykah badu - soldier
the roots w/ jazzyfatnastees - 3 ring government
jurassic 5 - freedom
soul coughing - idiot kings
maxwell - welcome
zap mama - kemake
funkadelic - i got a thing
mala rodriguez - volvere
joy denalane - hochte zeit
love - a house is not a motel
the abyssinians - satta massagana
joe strummer & the mescaleros - techno d-day
aricia mess - tentei
lauryn hill - forgive them father
trevor dandy - is there any love
black crowes - remedy
chambers brothers - all strung out
fugazi - break
habib koite - foro bana
souad massi - eche edeni
love battery - mr. soul
screaming trees - gospel plow
mighty walker brothers - God has been good
rodrigo y gabriela - tamacun
pharaoh's daughter - by way of haran
rufino almeida - bau
pharaoh sanders - oh Lord let me do no wrong

Monday, November 3, 2008

m to the a to the s to the k...

The Holy Ghost Party was a super success and we probably had a good 300+ kids come through the doors for pizza, candy, games. We ran out of candy by the end of the night but it was chaos in the best way seeing the parents chilling out and laughing and the kids running around popping balloons and getting sugared up. I was helping out with the foosball table and the darts but eventually ended up being the roving photographer as more people showed up to volunteer.

I also did face-painting for the first time. Attempting to portray the likenesses of Cinderella and Dora the Explorer was a challenge, but soon the girls were requesting flowers and stars and that was way easier.

We also had a zombie for Obama

Speaking of Obama, I got to hear, if not see, the man himself speak yesterday. Decided at the last minute to join my roommate and her brother and his fiancee and a friend of mine from the station, with whom I spent most of Bruce Springsteen's set making jokes about how every Springsteen song is about the same thing more or less.

I think I'm going to be voting third party this year because I really can't get behind either of the candidates running for policy reasons, but I thought his speech was really good and he had a lot of good things to say about personal responsibility and the state of the world and so on.

So we're all getting these warm fuzzy feelings and such and we get on the Rapid, which is all Obama supporters and then this older white lady asks my roommate to give up her seat. Not me, but my roommate. Being charitable types with respect for elders, we move and stand in the aisle, and suddenly the irony of what just happened sinks in as I look around at the people who are sitting down and they are all white except my roommate, her brother, and a lady sitting behind him.

Dear Cleveland, just so you know, it's not Alabama in the 1950s. Lady, you with the Obama pin, fresh from the rally, are really lucky that you ran across two girls who wouldn't cuss you out for being so oblivious. I don't even know if you were being unintentionally racist, just selfish. I don't think you even meant to evoke an iconic era, but the irony of it was just so absurd that we just started laughing at the situation because what else can you really do at that point?

We hear all these things about a new chapter in history and we get a juxtaposition of the old that exists in much more subtle ways all over this land.

My beloved city, we have so much further that we need to go.