Wednesday, January 30, 2008

A CRITIQUE OF HANS HUFMANN’S ‘MIRAGE’ (1946)

I think it’s a recliner that’s gazing through the bay window, out unto the sea, although it seems that the recliner is also a crescent moon and an iron. Not a fancy iron, but one of those Ma Kettle irons that you had to put on the stove to warm up before it burnt your shirts. The only problem here, as far as I can see, is that the reclining moon iron is swirling in a pastiche of blood and also that the bay window is actually not a bay window but an abstract expresssionist painting, mostly blue, with a little bit of red in it.

I’ve been thinking about abstract expressionist painting lately, thinking that the older you get, the less you really want to look at abstract expressionist painting. You want to be able to hold onto something that is real, really real, like a real iron, or a real recliner. Or you want something that you can sink your teeth into, like a crescent moon–not a crescent moon iron recliner with a pastiche of blood. More like Norman Rockwell, for instance. His windows were really windows! Love comes easy with real windows and a big white, juicy moon. Not so with the make believe moons and the maybe windows and maybe not windows of Hans Hufmann. Looking at a ‘Rockwell’ window or moon isn’t like musing or critiquing–it’s like falling in love!

And I am not ashamed to say that I fell in love with everything that Norman Rockwell ever painted. Isn’t that what love is for? And not just the bric-a-brac, but the people, too. Why, I especially fell in love with every woman that Norman Rockwell ever painted. Even if they were in uniform. Or peeling spuds on the front porch. Or setting the dinner table for family with a balsa wood airplane flying around inside. Every single one Norman Rockwell woman.

Well, except for the grandmothers. Although they did seem to be very nice grandmothers. I did like them, though, just fine. And I will probably fall in love with them, too, once I am a little older.

Norman Rockwell certainly makes me look forward to the future. For the present, though, I will continue to devote myself to my bicycles, my topiaries, and my work as an abstract expressionist.

Thank you.

all artwork, including monsters but not old timey photographs,
® mr. crispy flotilla, 2007

THE THIRD AND FINAL VOLUME OF THE TRILOGY (UNLESS I DECIDE TO MAKE IT A QUADROLOGY) by CRISPY

It's almost done. I would normally include an excerpt but you see all the excerpts are long. And, well, pretty wavy. How about, instead, something I wrote about Tony Stark, handsome fictional millionaire heartthrob with a concealed alter ego and golden exo-skeleton that keeps his shrapnel-laden heart beating? That sounds like a good idea. OK. Here:



THE ONLY TIME I EVER SAW SOMEONE RIP UP A CHECK was in 1965. His name was Happy, and had pulled Tony out of a burning race car, and just in the nick of time.

Tony rewarded Happy handsomely with that check I just mentioned, and Happy ripped it up, also as I mentioned. “I don’t need your money,” Happy sneered, “What I need is a job!”

I like that! Happy doesn’t need money. Happy needs MORE money.

Happy wasn’t happy. Happy was broke.

Tony was happy, and Tony was rich, and a cigarette could be found, dangling just a little beneath his moustache.

Pepper was, well–Pepper was a doll.

“A job?” Tony thought for a moment. “Of course,” Tony smiled, “just talk to my secretary, Pepper.”


all artwork, including monsters but not old timey photographs,
® mr. crispy flotilla, 2007

Thursday, January 24, 2008

CRISPY MAKES A PROMISE THAT HE VOWS TO KEEP, BUT, ALAS...

I PROMISED MYSELF THAT I WOULD NOT WRITE ANYTHING at all until something extraordinary happened that needed to be documented.

No sooner had I had that promise then I saw a woman walking down the boulevard dressed in gold from head to toe. Even her lips were gold! On a leash she brandished one could see a fearsome jungle cat–either a cheetah or an ocelot–isn’t an ocelot the smaller of the two? I have never been to South America or India so perhaps you shouldn’t ask me about ocelots or cheetahs. It was possibly an ocelot, now that I think about it–bathed in golden light, as was she. Everything about her was gold except the little bells on her pumps. They tinkled softly when she walked, and they were silver, and stood in stark relief next to what was probably an ocelot. But you could tell that they wanted to be gold, and wanted to tinkle more loudly, and a little more proudly–I could see them doing that.

The ocelot purred jealously as the golden woman of gold licked luxuriously her ice cream cone–a sort of golden vanilla with creamy golden jimmies on top. Ocelots are not easily domesticated, and are often ravenously hungry and can be quite jealous in fact! And yet, bathed in a golden light, it was clear that she was in control of the beast, despite his ravenous nature. Falling in love with a powerful woman like this could be as easy as pie!

What else transpired, you ask? Was it a sunny day? Did people stop and stare? Did the feisty ocelot break her golden leash (since gold is a soft metal) and run into the nearby Himalayas? Did I have the nerve to approach her? Did I fear that I could only live a life with her if I, too, were gold? “It is not meant to be”–Did I say that? Did golden tear drops fall from her eyes as she walked away, splashing upon the silver bells of her pumps, causing them to tarnish, because that’s unfortunately what happens to silver?

Perhaps one day if I meet an alluring woman of gold with an ocelot and a golden ice cream cone I will tell you what happens. I know that you will find it riveting! Until then, the point is: it’s very difficult sometimes to wait for something extraordinary to happen so that you can write about it. I know–I’ve tried. Honestly, I’ve tried many times.

SPARTACUS


No, I really didn't have anything else to say right now. I just was kind of
in the mood to say "Spartacus." You know how you sometimes get that feeling.

Monday, January 21, 2008

NEWSPAPER

I picked up the newspaper today and noticed that the lead article was all about how much I loved you.

I read to the bottom of the page and then it read: “Turn to Page 10.” I didn’t want to. I wanted to read the Sports page, and to see all about the new ‘Indiana Jones’ movie. Something about a crystal globe. I don’t think that they’re really trying very hard anymore.

But,

I was on an airplane to Iceland–don’t ask me why–I don’t know–and so I turned to the Entertainment section, not the Destinations section (that always seems to be about Iceland) but–

I was too late. Every article in the Entertainment Section was all about how much I loved you. Grrrrr. So I saved Indiana Jones for last–as I mentioned before I didn’t have a good feeling about it–but lo and behold, there it was: INDIANA JONES AND THE CRYSTAL GLOBE and all the film crew talked about was how the production had been postponed–again–because of how much I loved you. Even the picture there was a craggy-faced Harrison Ford giving me the stink eye: I don’t need that! I am in love! But with whom? I don’t know. A little

Sweaty is how I am beginning to feel. Ripping past the Sports section and its endless articles about steroid use and how much I love you, or maybe just about loving steroid use, or maybe just about you.

All I know for certain is that the Destinations section is all about Iceland again–trolls that haunt, Christmas cats eating naked children, and a delicious concoction of orange fizzy soda and malt extract that often lead, inexplicably, to feelings that are redolent and abundant, feelings that don’t go away, feelings you just can’t understand.

THE BROWNING VERSION

When I watch Michael Redgrave act, I think to myself: there is no need to talk. Just keep acting cold and remote and inpenetrable but with a wounded heart deep below the surface, break down and cry and try to hold back the tears and show the world this part of you but only do it occasionally.

Actually, this could apply to anyone in general but especially to me and you. Even if it is us on the screen, and Michael Redgrave on the couch, saying YES YES when a tear comes to his eye but he does not hide it–he prefers to just keep watching us, even though he thinks it’s him he's watching and we think it’s us.

UNTITLED 1

There is a little trick you can do with pens
using a stiff bristle brush writing your name
in bold, dark, solid, clean, definitive strokes
if you let the letters dry and mix the pigment
with a light pink and water wash
you can duplicate the bold block letters
but before they dry you can use your fingertips
to swirl the ends and serif of each letter
making soft dots and blots and grace notes
swimming figures over your name they’re

So light that they are barely there but still
they are there, swimming figures over your name

I like to think of the swirls and circle and grace notes
as my life also, the one I have forgotten but sometimes
remember and forget there above me, a small airplane
far away, covered by white clouds, almost written
against the pink sky.

Monday, January 14, 2008

ONCE: the elephant meditations

I

Once there was an elephant
with four legs. Wait! All
elephants have four legs!
End of story.

II

Once there was an elephant
with three legs. This elephant
was ashamed, and shunned by
his...hold on! I see the fourth
leg now. He was using it to
scratch himself–there are a lot
of mosquitos in elephant country.

III

Once there was an elephant
with grey skin. You might say:
‘That’s not unusual, most
elephants have...’ etc., etc.

IV

Once there was an elephant
with grey skin, grey eyes,
grey nostrils, grey toe nails,
a grey mustache, a grey
cigarette holder, grey, shiny,
silky lips, a grey deed to the
old mine shaft outside of town
and one overdue library book.
It was grey.

V

Once there was an elephant
named Babar. Pretty boring–
but not really!

His full name was
Pablo Diego José
Francisco de Paula Juan
Nepomuccao Maria de los
Remedios Cipriano de la
Santisima Trinidad Ruiz
BABAR.

He had four legs and
a normal-sized penis.

VI

Once there was an elephant
that skipped rope. And yet,
when he rose from the ground,
the world trembled. When he
landed upon the ground, the
earth was still. Think about
that elephant skipping rope
and the earth trembling and
then the earth suddenly still.

Think about the blue sky
above him and the puffy
white clouds that seem so
infinitely far away. Think
about the joy coursing
through his body. Do you
think he is happy? I bet
not. One thing for sure,

there is a
lot of grey around here.
Are you happy? No?
Me neither. Now what?

Saturday, January 05, 2008

THE HANDSOMENESS OF FRANKLIN PIERCE


It’s 1853.

Imagine that you have a big leather or velvet scarf or leather noose or collar around your neck instead of a simple, elegant silk cravet: that’s your tie.

Well, Franklin Pierce did. And still he was handsome.

And imagine, for some reason, it was not ‘de rigueur’ to comb your hair for formal portraits. Actually, it wasn’t. Not when Franklin Pierce had his portrait taken. And Franklin Pierce was nothing if not ‘de rigueur’ and still, he was handsome. Handsome-without-combed-hair handsome.

In the fashion of the day, ‘Handsome Frank’ Franklin Pierce turned his head as the flash went ‘POOF.’ And so we are left with the portrait of Franklin Pierce, with his head turned. He seemed to be gazing out into the vast distance–perhaps thinking about the wind blowing on faraway wheat fields.

His hair pointed this way and that. And in the far distance, perhaps Franklin could see those wheat fields. Or at least, the Kansas Nebraska Act. and beyond that–wait–is that Nebraska? Maybe it is, and maybe it ain’t. Many cannons make a lot of noise. And shadows begin to fall from the sky, like jumbo-sized Junior Mints.

all artwork, including monsters but not old timey photographs,
® mr. crispy flotilla, 2007

ALAS


MY FONDEST MEMORY of all time is looking at ten million paperbacks and they all had beautiful women on the covers and each woman was different: some had bikinis, some wore overcoats over bikinis, many had guns, some had guns pointed at them, some smiled with guns pointed at them and some didn’t, some were kissing men and some were putting their hands over their mouths, some were driving really fast in their bikinis, some of their bikinis had polka dots, there were some giant green tentacles in a few and others with peek-a-boo outfits, but none wore sneakers or mary janes or yawned or are alive today, although they all seem that way. Also: none of them at least looked like their names were Madge although a few looked like they might be called Ginger.



Realistically, there were probably closer to one million girls rather than ten million; one of them certainly was a Madge and all of them probably yawned at some point, but none of them did on the covers of their unforgettable paperbacks. It was a different time, and one that I could not understand. “That would not be polite, my sweet lamb,” my Mother would say, were I to ask if they if they did, but I was too afraid to do so. Instead, alas, I turned to drink.

all artwork, including monsters but not old timey photographs,
® mr. crispy flotilla, 2007

Thursday, January 03, 2008

THIS IS NOT WHERE I REMEMBER BEING (1995)

when he awoke he was in the desert. “confound it!” he said, looking up at the sun. “this is not where I remember being,” his voice, slow, exact, trails off, “last...”

§§

he stood on the edge. the flowers were blooming at just the right time. here the rains can come every twenty five years.

§§

“how long have we been together?” he asks.

§§

he kisses you. It must have been 110º. your breasts seem different. “our lives seem to have something there,” speckled. “this will never last...”

§§

islands. floating. last night he dreamed of oceans. he stands up and dust himself off. a mirage, he murmurs, sweat...

§§

evening primrose... popcorn flowers...

§§

the little silver thread of lily shyly pops through the desert floor. “ the owls are in the distance....in my notebook I record a car speeding towards me” writes the lily...

§§

in the unnatural heat...seeds collect in the wind shadow. he let out a scream of “shadow! ” he screams... “happiness!” he whispers... he looks about he gasps for air, and cries “the stars are around my ankles”...he says

§§

the flowers bloom like hummingbirds you told him one night as you lay to rest the desert was cold the bed was always made hummingbirds were never made...our bed was always made of hummingbirds...

§§

“hey! look at that!” he screams. octillos: vibrant, red, tubular shaped. fuck you! you say again, again and again. (were they fighting?)

§§

let’s never do that again...it’s the perennials...they forgot to store enough water in their stems and roots...

§§

“it’s as though the world were spray-painted gold! “ it’s the middle of the day and we should be concerned about... but for the moment... it’s enough just to hear you say...happiness he writes in his notebook...shadow...

§§

as you read the newspaper, you tell him that 1973 was a banner year for death valley. 1988, too. wait! he says to himself, you can’t read...

§§

there’s a flower called ‘brown eyes.’ he looks through pictures in his wallet. hmmm...bellyflowers, fivespots, poppies...ah...there you are!

§§

there you are!

§§

a kiss. the heat and the light make the evening primrose rocket through the surface. more kisses again. he stares into your beautiful brown eyes. fuck me you scream. it’s a banner year for him: he adjusts his tie

§§

so, you free tonight? I ask. a single bubble rises to the surface of the water cooler...

§§

when he wakes up he is in the desert. ah...he smiles...this is where I remember being...

§§

the sound of a hummingbird...


all artwork, including monsters but not old timey photographs,
® mr. crispy flotilla, 2007
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