Sunday, April 30, 2006

New mural

To make myself work steadily and faster, I'm posting pics in progress of this mural I'm doing on the porch. If you're watching the progress, I may be more committed to it. We'll see.

The first pic is the before shot - with all the plants and decor removed - looks very sterile. The second one is the lame-ass drawing of what I have in mind. I can't draw, so next time, pencil... The third and 4th ones are the first tiles.

The white tile is travertine marble donated by a neighborhood tile guy, a practicing member of Neighborpalooza. The leaves are from artist Jenny Ressler from Texas (here's her ebay shop). The black is Home Depot special black (sarcasm). I'm using a lavabo that I got over 10 years ago as a fake birdbath, which will act as the mailbox. Hope that's legal.

At the rate I'm going, I should be finished by Thanksgiving.

Friday, April 28, 2006

48 Hours in Jerome

48 are better than 30, and full-time would be better than weekends. Trying to find a place to rent in Jerome is like trying to find a place in NYC. I haven't started reading the obits yet, b/c as a statistics game it's different.

In Jerome, most people have paid somewhere between $25 and $75 grand for their houses. In the last year, like almost everywhere else in Arizona, the Jerome market skyrocketed. Houses are going for $250 to $750K now. People are just tripping over themselves to put For Sale signs on the front porch. (Because there are NO lawns, none.)

The people paying these outrageous prices are probably telecommuters or vacationers. People who are buying these homes and expecting to rent them out while their investment increases are in for a surprise. People who rent in Jerome are waitstaff, store clerks, and artists. The rents were super cheap, and some still are - I'm looking at a whole house right now, with two complete apartments, for $800 a month. I talked to a business owner who is running a storefront on the main street, but she is renting - I actually looked at this building in 1992 and it was $40K for the storefront and two apartments above - it is now $450K. The store will not support the rent that increase will require, and neither will the apartments.

So it will be interesting. Real estate prices could ruin Jerome, like they ruin most art communities. Sedona used to be cool too. Now, it is decidedly not. It could go the other way and prices could drop substantially. We'll see.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

What, me complain?

So lately I have been complaining about work stress. But today I am looking for poems that have clear examples of symbolism and also for poems that have obvious themes. So basically I'm getting paid while I'm reading poetry. Here's one I just stumbled across so that now you can get paid while reading poetry too.

When You are Old

When you are old and grey and full of sleep,
And nodding by the fire, take down this book,
And slowly read, and dream of the soft look
Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep;
How many loved your moments of glad grace,
And loved your beauty with love false or true,
But one man loved the pilgrim Soul in you,
And loved the sorrows of your changing face;
And bending down beside the glowing bars,
Murmur, a little sadly, how Love fled
And paced upon the mountains overhead
And hid his face amid a crowd of stars.

William Butler Yeats

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Can I get some fries with that crow?

OK, people who know me know that I will totally admit when I'm wrong. If only I can learn not to spout off about anything and everything then I wouldn't have to be at the special drive thru ordering crow with a side of fries.

So, I hear that the Seeger Sessions has been available in indie record stores since late last week, but I don't really care since I'm probably not buying it anyway... but then I'm in Border's yesterday on lunch break and figure, what the hell. And then I'm actually a little ticked that it's not available.

Why this sudden change of heart? The only reason really (NOT the video, trust me, b/c that is embarrassing) is that people who have great taste like it... gotta be worth hearing. And hey, if I'm going to at least one show thru peer pressure (D.C.) I may as well know what I'm in for... not the most positive approach, granted.

Very early this a.m. (dog wants up, can't tell time) I realize it's new music Tuesday at iTunes, which along with new release Tuesday at Netflix, is a good reason to power up the mini. To get in the spirt, I mosey on over to the music store. Where is the hootenanny? Oh good, at least it's right in the front.

The first thing I listen to is We Shall Overcome, b/c it's the only song I know and I have always liked it. It's SUPER good. Ethereal, haunting, understated, just gorgeous. Great arrangement, wonderful loose feel. Uh oh, will I actually like this album? THAT will be embarrassing.

Well, I'm 3/4 through and I have to say this is the best album Bruce has released in eons. Despite the crap I will get from my uber fan friends, I thought Devils and Dust basically sucked, the Rising had like, 2 good songs, and if weren't for the great live shows and pretty much lifelong obsession that's hard to let go, I would have bailed ages ago. Now I'm actually looking forward to the show. May even go twice.


Thursday, April 20, 2006

Javelinas on Parade - click for link

Greg (Jeromeian) sent me this link to look at work done by a mosaic artist in Sedona. Javelinas on Parade is like the Cows on Parade or Fish on Parade in more cosmo cities like NY, Chicago, and SF. Apparently there are a lot of animals parading right now, and they're getting a lot of attention for it. The only parade I've seen so far is the NY Cows on Parade, and I gotta tell you. There is nothing quite like coming out of the train under Madison Square Garden to gaze upon a herd of wildly painted bovines. If they ever get really organized, traffic is gonna be a nightmare.

Anyway, this particular parade is really not one to brag about. Sedona is an art haven for sure, but the quality of shows and galleries fluctuates wildly. I call the local show the Sedona Arts and Crap Festival. Now, I'm not saying my stuff is that great, but some of this stuff makes me want to rescue the poor pigs to keep them from being pink, or worse, covered in cutesy Native American symbols. Does a pig need a coyote symbol? I'm just sayin'.

Or better yet, how about becoming a Ninja Artist, to steal really bad art work and re-do it. Greg and I think some of these pigs call out for intricate bead work, or at least, semi-decent painting. Surely someone can come up with a better idea than a pink pig with blue eyes? We should drive to Sedona in the middle of the night armed with coffee, bees wax, beads, and a flashlight. We could do some positive damage.

Poor little piggies.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

April playlist

This is stuff I'm listening to a lot this month. If you want a CD playlist, let me know.

At the Bottom of Everything - Bright Eyes
Don't Give Up - Bono & Alicia Keyes
Pretty Dress - Rosie Thomas
Love Me Like You - Magic Numbers
Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels) - Arcade Fire
Gideon - My Morning Jacket
What I Say and What I Mean - The Like
Walk the Walk - Poe
World Wide Suicide - Pearl Jam
Mr. November - The National
Fake Tales of San Francisco - Arctic Monkeys
Denial Twist - White Stripes
Trains to Brazil - The Guillemots
Reset - Mute Math
The Wings (Closing) - Gustavo Santaolalla, Brokeback Mountain Soundtrack

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Jay and Silent Bob are back - click for site

Yup, the boys are back in town. Apparently Kevin Smith had such nostalgia pangs while doing the DVD extras for Clerks, he decided to make a sequel. If you're a Kevin Smith fan at all, you know that Jason Mewes worships Kevin, and is more like one of his kids than an entirely separate adult. Without Kevin, he would probably be in jail, or worse. The boy has a major drug problem. Kevin told him he'd make a sequel if Jason could stay sober, because Jason always wanted to play Jay one more time. So he did. Well, until the shoot began anyway.

Clerks 2, Passion of the Clerks, comes out August 18. The official website is great - they have what they call Train Wreck videos, and there are more than a couple satires - one done as a Disney trailer, one a complete suck-up to "YouTubers".

I'm a huge Kevin Smith fan. I don't know if it's because I spent my Wonder Bread years in Jersey, leaving early enough to be nostalgic for it ... And Kevin Smith is sooo New Jersey. Jay is every guy (not everyman, certainly) from my high school. New Jersey is a great place to be a teenager. If you're lucky, you live an easy bus ride from the City, and less than 2 hours from the shore. Both just paradise for teens. It's so easy to get to the City from where I grew up that you could easily roam around Greenwich Village for several hours and still be home in time for curfew, which in my case was 11.

So I don't know if it's because he makes really funny flicks or that I just have this elastic band reaction to the state that most people just fly right over to get to New York. I even visited Jay and Bob's Silent Stash store the last time I was in Red Bank, loaded up on dashboard Buddy Jesus, t-shirts, and Jay and Silent Bob magnets. The store doesn't so much bring out the inner child in you, as the rampant immaturity that lurks below the surface. It did not help my objectivity in the least to run into one of my favorite bands there - Marah shopping for Secret Stash stuff as well...

So unless I can score preview tickets off Claudia or win the Reel Preview lottery, I'll be lining up on August 18, a mere 4 months from today. Until then, there are many hours to be wasted on the website.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

New stuff

Still needs some clean-up, but some mosaic stuff I've been working on.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

King Non Sequitur

Today he was upon me before I even knew he was outside. My next-door neighbor, Charlie, sidled up to me alongside the 3-feet high wall that separates our properties.

"Don't get old." OK, I say. I always say OK now. When Charlie and Wilma first moved in, I was relieved to have an older couple buy the house after dealing with a group of people who played their stereo so loud my windows would shake, until 4 a.m., on weeknights.

"Boycott France!" OK. At first I chatted with him a lot. Then I noticed we weren't really having a dialogue - it was more like the parallel conversations that 3-year-olds have. It didn't really bother me until I couldn't stop him - like if I was mowing my lawn in the summer during the 5-minute window between sunrise and 115 degrees, he would start telling me about a very large array in Mexico that was proving global warming a myth, or some other hodgepodge of scientific theory he read in some Spanish science magazine. Nothing against scientists south of the border, mind you, but I'm not sure that VLA's can track temperature... I mean, I saw Contact.

"Hillary is the anti-Christ." OK. Our conversations were less frequent after my weed-wacker caught on fire and blew up one day when we were both in our front yards.

"Your wacker is on fire." OK. I even had him wack my weeds for awhile, because he loves to wack, and was always criticizing how I handled it anyway. He even refurbished a mower for me, but as soon as I could afford it, I got a real landscape company on the job.

"You need a husband. You should marry Edward, your neighbor." OK. When people come here on vacation, or even visit, I warn them that if they engage in conversation with my neighbor, they could lose an hour or more of their day to semi-incoherent ramblings. Some heed my warnings, others are just too polite. We took a break for awhile during Neighborpalooza because he was of the opinion that

"Tom is a Fascist because he painted a Hindu deity on his wall." Well, alrighty then. That was just bringin the crazy a little too close for comfort. I stayed out of the park and away from neighbors for a couple of months until the crazy talk faded to a dull murmur, and hostility softened into simple shunning.

Lately we have reached detente, in that I let him ramble for about 2 minutes, and in exchange his wife gives my dog treats and attention while I am at work. Bella likes the arrangement, and I think Charlie does too.

Thursday, April 06, 2006

A Scanner Darkly (click for trailer)

A Scanner Darkly is finally coming out in July. This is one of my favorite novels by Philip K. Dick, whose work continues to inspire science fiction films of a certain quality. Apparently it's hard to make a great science fiction film, and for fans it's hard to witness what passes for good sci-fi when there is just so much content to steal. Even a semi-decent film like Minority Report (again, Mr. Dick) could be so much better in edgier hands, or without such an obsession with profit (see Tom Cruise). The only way that Blade Runner (my vote for second-best* sci-fi film ever, by guess who? yup, Mr. Dick) got made was by cuddling up to Harrison Ford during the Star Wars/Empire afterglow.

Advances in CGI and the potential for fare made at home on one's Mac bode well for our sci-fi future. When technology meets content plus imagination, things can only get better. It will be interesting to see what gets distributed over the internet when the truly creative are not limited by producers, focus groups, and lack of access to studio equipment.

Now Richard Linklater has a bad-boy line-up of stars who only appear as animated characters, via the interpolating rotoscope technique that he pioneered in Waking Life. It's fun to see them - Robert Downey, Jr, Keanu Reeves, Woody Harrelson, and Winona Ryder half mocking themselves, half taking the material seriously. Check out a Robert Downey, Jr line from the trailer: "This is a world getting progressively worse, can we agree on that? ... What's on the dessert menu?"

Linklater also wrote the screenplay from the novel, and he's good at talky - he wrote both Before Sunset and Before Sunrise, two pretty talky flicks. If you're really into movie trivia, you know that he had Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy reprise those characters in Waking Life, but as different people. He's also good at messing with identity, and creating a dreamlike atmosphere.

So... great content, story, actors (well, except for Keanu), dialog, atmosphere, and animation. It has potential for semi-greatness. It won't make a dime.

*Best - 2001

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Jerome pics

View from Greg's driveway to yard and valley. That's Greg working on his mosaic projects on the table. From the yard you can see 75 miles, out to Utah.

The next pics are the mosaic birdbaths in progress.

The blue colorways one is Greg's and the Mexican colors one is mine.

Monday, April 03, 2006

30 Hours in Jerome

For being in Jerome for just over 30 hours this weekend, I saw a lot of great stuff. I went up to do a mosaic project with my friend Greg, but spent Saturday exploring the town and hanging out on Main Street.

If you haven't heard of Jerome, Arizona, it's a big ghost town. It's the most interesing city in the state, maybe even in the country. There is just no other place like it. Built into the side of a mountain in between Prescott and Sedona, only 450 people live there. But every weekend it's packed to the rafters with tourists, who keep the art galleries, restaurants, bars, and haunted hotels in business.

The reason the hotels are haunted is this - so many people have died there. The town burned to the ground twice when it was still the 4th largest city in Arizona, and they just kept rebuilding it. In the 1920s, the copper mine owned by Phelps Dodge brought in workers from all over the world - it became a cultural melting pot, and at one point the population reached almost 15,000. At that time, Jerome was known as the wickedest town in the west. When the mine stopped producing, the town dried up. It truly was a ghost town.

You can't really describe Jerome, you have to see it. It's hard to imagine how the houses on the hill remain standing - how they look like solid Victorian structures until you see that they are built on stilts, the owners crossing their fingers against erosion or storms. (And things do slide down the hill - the jail did.) These delicate structures with cracking paint and faded roofs are selling for around $400,000.

To enter the main road from certain streets, you need to view a mirror tree, with its 'leaves' facing 3 ways - because the roads are so winding that you can't see oncoming traffic from either direction. If you are unskilled at driving a stick, don't even enter the 'uptown' area, b/c you may roll backward onto a tourist, or the horses pulling a carriage that is waiting patiently behind you.

But the fun stuff - Jerome is a magnet for bikers. Bikes line the curb in front of the Spirit Room, which is the bar in the Connor Hotel. In the afternoon the bar is filled with bikers. Some are in gangs, some are corporate types with shiny big bikes. I watched a guy in full leather regalia, you know, the corporate type, drop his bike on a side street, blocking the street while he tried to lift it back up and get out of the way. A 70-something man helped him right it, and then maneuver it so he could start the bike without rolling backwards into more tourists. When he finally started it, the older guy's wife started pumping her fists in the air and yelling 'wahooooo!!!'

Another biker took off all his leathers, right down to his skivvies, to put on cooler clothes. His pecs had a small audience of appreciative fans. A third walked away from his bike into the bar, apparently after hours of riding in the wind, his hair a perfect imitation of Ace Ventura's. A truck drove by carrying a huge St. Bernard, looking like he may just roll out of the truck and eat some tourists.

At night, the Spirit Room emptied of bikers and the townspeople crowded out the braver tourists, and they're an eclectic bunch - young artists, gallery owners, cowboys, old guys that looked like hermits, women who looked like they were imported from L.A. People shared tables with total strangers and everyone danced for the band who played original music that sounded like they just stepped out of the 70s. I had been to the Spirit Room a few times since the late 80s but I never saw a more interesting mix of people.

Tomorrow I'll post some pics of the town and our mosaics.

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Old Dog Teaches New Trick

Bella turns 11 this month. (Deighv does too but he already gets too much attention.) She celebrated by coming up with a new trick.

About a year ago Bella decided that she needed to be lifted to the bed, that she was simply too tired, old, or bitchy to have to make that jump when it was nap time. Never mind that when I get home from work I can hear her jumping down, or even when I'm home but not looking she jumps up by herself.

In the middle of the night she hits the side of the bed with her paw - that is her signal to be diva'd. If I ignore her she gives the 'lift' bark. It is really annoying and not the best thing for insomnia. And yes, I tried ignoring her forever - but she keeps it up for at least 1/2 hour, gives up for a little while, and starts again. She hasn't heard of B.F. Skinner.

So I bought one of those doggy step things hoping that it would reduce the number of times she wakes me up. They're pretty cool - takes about 5 minutes to put together and has these little rubber pads on the bottom so it doesn't slide on a wood or tile floor. Sturdy, too, for just some pieces of interlocked plastic.

I put it by the bed and used treats and cajoling to get her to climb up - she had to be taught how to use a doggie door too - new things suck. She refused to do it. So I left it there, and tried ignoring her when she hit the bed or used the 'lift' bark, thinking she would figure it out eventually and climb up the steps.

Oh, no. Now, she climbs up to the second step and uses it for leverage to hit the bed harder and at a better angle. The only thing I can think of doing now is just putting the mattress on the floor. Any ideas?