Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Obnoxious NY Fans

Hullo. Just dropping by for my semi-annual rant. My neighbor has a new yappy rat dog and the thing is yapping sweet holy hell at 4:00 a.m. this morning.

I hate my neighbors.

Which brings me to this blog subject.

Those who know me know that I've always been a Boston sports fan, but I've never been obnoxious about it. I like watching the games...when I can. I hope they win...when they do. I hope as we all hope in New England that the Red Sox will pull off another victory against the NY Yankees, and when they do, I'm smug about it. It's about freaking time, don't ya think?

But I'm the first to buy the "loser" a beer. And I will take my ribbing in good nature if my team is the loser. I realize it's just a game. My self-worth and identity are not inextricably tied to a sports team.

Which is the problem with many NY fans, Yanks fans in particular. The years of baseball monopoly they have enjoyed has made them boorish, spinal column-ruled bullies. They remind me of the folks who listen faithfully to right-wing political porn pundits. They transfer the victories of their team -a finely tuned, insanely fit and competitive winning machine- to their more mundane and flabbier everyday lives. They have been winning for way too long and their fans have become asshats because of it.

Which is why everyone -not just Boston- hates them, except for them.

I work with two guys like this. They are young, educated, smart and decent men. But I get shit from them constantly. When the Pats lost to NY I got videos and snide emails. Most of it was just good natured ribbing, and I have some snide retorts myself. But I think they take it just a bit too seriously. Sometimes they get a little too snipish. They literally HATE Boston, not just the team. One of them went to school there and it was all he could do apparently to survive. He was like a little delicate Yankee flower withering in the dirty Boston water.

Maybe it's because I grew up hating "jocks" in general and respecting the 80's NY/Boston/DC trifecta in the punk scene. NY punk influenced us, we influenced them. Maybe there were some sports rivalry, but it was about the music. I have all the respect for the city of NY. And not just the punk, but the art, the culture, the world-shaping influence. The other night I saw a Boston hardcore band open for the great Sick of it All from NYC. SOIA had a giant Yanks sign on their stage. Did my eyes burn? Um, no.

Or maybe it's because we Bostonians have pride in being the underdog. We fight harder and we are tougher. I don't want the Sox to be the next Yanks because I like Boston's fighting spirit. I don't want us to be smug, self-satisfied fatties expecting our team to win again and again. It's too easy. Besides, we found the soft underbelly of the NY empire, and we impaled it. Us. Little, humble Boston. WE slayed the dragon, with spit and hard work. We broke up Ma Bell. Everyone likes it when the underdog wins.

So while it's great to be a passionate sports fan, it's not so great to be a fragile little prick about it. It's a game. Anyone who hates a city and everyone in it because of a sport team is posing a thuggery they do not posses and betraying for all the world a fragility and petty smallness of spirit. And anyone who wins too much for too long is going to fall that much harder when the time comes.

Friday, November 30, 2007

New painting

So I'm pretty damned proud of this one. This is 8" x 10" on black Claybord. Claybord is essentially a piece of masonite with a layer of white clay on top. Some are left white. I like the black ones...they spray a layer of black ink on top, and you have to scratch into it with a stylus. I used a stylus made for the Claybord and an Exacto.

(This painting is backed with a 2" deep block of basswood covered with gold-toned metal that is embossed by hand with assorted "calaveras" fighting the ravages of a catastrophic flood. Go here for a detail view of frame.)

I created a thumbnail "idea" sketch first in pencil. For my larger paintings I sometimes rearrange and tighten the sketch in Photoshop and then project it onto the surface and sketch it out. With this little one I just sketch it out directly onto the board with white chalk. Then the scratching begins.

For some strange reason...maybe it's my autistic/artistic temperment...I can work hunched over at a drafting table for hours, eyes straining, fingers cramping, just skritch-skritching away at tiny details. Stick a pair of headphones on me with my iPod and I'm in heaven. My ADD is temporarily alleviated!

Color was added with watered down acrylics, which I've never tried before and got real nervous about. But it looks effing A-OK if you ask me. After color is applied, you can scratch back into it to get more highlights out of the white clay.

To explain the imagery a bit, those of you familiar with Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) or Mexican artist Jose Guadalupe Posada will understand it more readily then those who don't.

La Catrina, created by Posada, is a familiar icon in Day of the Dead festivities and an integral part of Mexican folk art. "The word "catrina" is the feminine form of the word "catrĂ­n", which means "dandy". The figure, depicted in an ornate hat fashionable at the time, is intended to show that the rich and fashionable, despite their pretensions to importance, are just as susceptible to death as anyone else."

Day of the Dead, despite its morbid imagery, is the act of "celebrating and honoring the lives of the deceased, and celebrating the continuation of life; the belief is not that death is the end, but rather the beginning of a new stage in life."

New Orleans, past and present, has great parallels with Day of the Dead and La Catrina. In many ways, New Orleans is like the grand dame La Catrina, an opulent and extravagent diva, full of life and richness but not without corruption, extreme hardship and poverty. Her colorful gowns and silks don't hide the skeleton, but we love her just the same.

Hurricane Katrina changed so much in New Orleans. I have been there before her and directly after her...and it saddens me to think it might not ever be the same. I've seen the streets of devastation, the war zones of bombed boats, cars, homes; the ever present water ring around the buildings and bridges. The striking thing was the void of people and the piles of belongings Katrina uprooted from their lives and threw to the ground. Piles everywhere. Baby clothing, jazz records, family photos, sports trophies, toilet seats, shoes, knick-knacks, furniture...just imagine a giant hand ripping the roof off your housea, lifting it upside down and shaking it out. Now imagine that hand doing that to hundreds and thousands of homes for miles and miles. Homes where no one lives anymore. Neighborhoods that are like ghost towns.

La Catrina is Katrina, a grand dame of death jealous of the grand dame of life that is New Orleans. In my new painting, she just changed the spelling of her name a bit and replaced her flowing gowns with flowing water. New Orleans is represented as a coffee skinned jazz-age beauty wearing a fleur di lis that Katrina covets.

In Day of the Dead celebrations, and Mardi Gras and countless New Orleans parades, and in the French Quarter and parts of NOLA today, we celebrate life in spite of destruction and death, be it death of people or a way of life. Death in the tarot represents "change". Change is hard, particularly in NOLA, where life is changed for not only its residents but for our country as a whole. Katrina was a thief and a killer and she brought so much sadness.

But music is still played by live jazz bands in the lovely old streets of New Orleans. Katrina didn't quite get her boney hands on that fleur di lis.

La Katrina left some friends in her wake. Mexicans are coming in droves to New Orleans, at least the last time I was there they were. They are coming in to work in the rebuilding efforts. It's a bit of a culture shock for the native New Orleanians who have stayed behind. I wonder if, many years from now, New Orleans will see taquerias, latin food carts and bodegas sprouting up, as the workers eventually settle down and raise families. It's just another parallel between La Catrina and Katrina.

This long and somewhat maudlin meander sums up the new painting. I hope you like it.

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Tuesday, November 13, 2007


For all those wondering if we would ever see the potential for real greatness in American politics ever again, watch this video of Barack Obama at the Jefferson Jackson Dinner last Saturday in Des Moines. I say potential because like everyone else in this country, I harbor skepticism, which is really just another word for fear. I am nervous that this ain't the real deal. It's not anything in what he says or how he says it. It's not you, Obama. It's that you might go the way of all other true visionaries in this world who speak for the real silent majority of Americans...the long-suffering working class who have learned to become consistently disappointed long ago...and somehow be snatched away from us.

Obama, are you too good for us? It seems like there are certain forces determined to sink this country, and they aren't *just* Al Queda, they aren't *just* Chavez or Iran, they are elected leaders and their appointees who salute the flag and call themselves Patriots. They shake our hand, call us brother and sister, and work consistently to undermine everything that once made this country great. They are also people like you and me as well, who consistently vote for the comfortable status quo or for incompetents. They are people who won't vote for a black man or a Democrat no matter how viable he or she is.

But Obama isn't just a feel-good orator. He's angry. He's not making this passion up. He's ready to fight. I get the feeling he understands exactly what he's up against and despite his perceived flaws, he's got the fire in the belly to fight. Compared to all other candidates, as good as they might be, they don't even have a pulse.

What I see in Obama during this speech is a fierce, uncommon spirit. We saw it in his speech at the Democratic convention in 2004. Here, he reminds us that it wasn't a fluke, that he means business, that he is a formidable candidate who is poised to become the man who can turn this country around from the precipice.

This man is making history. He has all the potential for greatness and he is electable. Now all we have to do is put aside the skepticism and fear and vote for it for once.



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Tuesday, October 30, 2007


Holy shit I wish I was home! What a game! What a season!!!!

Looking at these photos makes me so damn happy. What a celebration. The streets are just jammed with ecstatic Red Sox fans. The Dropkick Murphy's are on a frigging parade float with a clogging Jonathan Papelbon. DOES IT GET ANY BETTER?

More photos from the ALCS and World Series games:

Papelbon with Mark Orrell from DKM.

Papelbon with the Dropkicks on the field I believe after the ALCS win. DKM played in Fenway that night.

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