What am I doing?

I ask this everyday.

The Welcome to Florida series should be complete this summer. It will be around 10-12 individual paintings, ranging from 16 X 11 to 36 X 48. I have around 5 of them completed now.

Applying to several new exhibitions this summer as well. Concentrating on Florida but also a few others internationally.

I have about a dozen short stories out for consideration. I constantly get rejected. I constantly keep putting them out there.

I’m swimming a lot in the ocean.

Considering going to Dublin for WorldCon but I haven’t decided yet. I’ve been to Dublin before and I enjoy the city, but there’s a lot of other places I want to see before revisiting it.

Mainly, I get up everyday and try to apply my creative force to something.

Miniature Corn and the Problem of All-Knowledge

The Crazy Testament is a loose collection of notes I keep in a loose collection of note-keeping areas. Herein, I expand on those ideas which probably should have been forgotten.

I grew up during a time when you couldn’t google the answer to everything (or most everything) and know it. To many who are slightly younger that might seem an impoverished age. In a way it was. But it provoked a certain type of dialogue that we are missing now and a category of thinking which is less practiced.

Miniature corn is something that I started thinking about around 6 am while trying to fall asleep last week. I imagined a miniature corn farm, with tiny animals laboring, and people husbanding the land and resources to grow the crop. Small droplets of sweat fell from the tiny people’s brows, the light bulb sized sun turned the budding cobs golden at the end of day.

Then I thought, are there really miniature corn plants?

This is the kind of question that before, I would have needed to let trouble me into the early hours of the morning and beyond, or until I could ask a friend who might know. No more. I turned over in bed, blinded myself by the blue light of my phone and quickly found out the answer on Wikipedia.

Do I really need to know about miniature corn farming and production? I do not. Here is the issue.

Before the advent of immediate access to information, we talked to each other about what we didn’t know. We tried to figure it out. We might have used reason, our own reason, to come to a conclusion about the likelihood of miniature corn farms.

And we don’t have to anymore.

I think there might be something lacking, a space in conversations that is now void, and possibly a cleft in our minds now that we can “know” all things so quickly. I think there might be a vector for the paucity of imagination in it.

So I have decided to be willfully ignorant of some things; the factoids that make less difference when the answer is found than during the time we ponder them.

Other People: Jordan Borstelmann and Crooked Path Forge

Other People is a section where I talk about the interesting things other people do.

I lived in Gainesville, Florida for about five years. I moved there when I was 22, I think. Two people moved with me and they remain my friends to this day. Jordan Borstelmann was one of those people and he owns and operates Crooked Path Forge.

We played in bands together, imbibed various substances together and generally ran around as the youth gone wild. Back then he had silly blue hair, now he has a giant beard and wears a kilt all day. I’m lucky to know him.

I used to make fun of him for reading Conan books. Now I read a lot of fantasy and write fantasy myself and I think Conan is great. So, jokes on me.

About a decade ago, Jordan decided to learn a skill straight out of the pages of a typical fantasy novel: Blacksmithing.

Over the years I’ve watched his work progress. Just last fall he was on the television series, Master of Arms, Season 1, Episode 2. It was strange to watch someone I’ve grown up with on television.

He runs weekly blacksmithing classes for beginners and also makes custom blades, swords, and many other metal items which I can’t enumerate properly. He had a vision and consistently worked at it and now is able to pursue it full time. He’s also a decent and honest person and a good friend.

You can find his work here on his website: www.crookedpathforge.org

If you want to see pictures of his work you can also check him out on Instagram @crookedpathforge

Upcoming Exhibition in Gainesville, Florida

I have two paintings in a new group exhibition taking place at Moisturizer Gallery in Gainesville, Florida. The show is called “Sick Joke” and it’s a show about, “humor and playfulness in art making”, curated by Dessarae Bassil.

Moisturizer Gallery is a fairly new space located at 2708 NE Waldo Road. Opening night is March 9th and it runs from 7pm-midnight. The exhibition will run through April 5th.

I briefly consider giving advice on scheduling, then come to my senses and decide against it

The Crazy Testament is a loose collection of notes I keep in a loose collection of note-keeping areas. Herein, I expand on those ideas which probably should have been forgotten.

I wrote down in my phone some ideas for blog posts, recently. By recently I mean a couple weeks ago. Here is one of them.

The Artist’s Guide to Scheduling in a Fractured World

I guess I wrote that down because it seemed like something I would see on the internet. I almost immediately realized two important things:

  1. I don’t like most things I read on the internet
  2. I’m in no way qualified to write whatever that article would be about

But I will talk a little about my failures with regards to scheduling.

I make a monthly list. On that list are the things I want to accomplish. The list is sometimes short, three to five lines. Sometimes it is longer, filled with twenty smaller tasks.

I often put small tasks on the list, so I can feel better about checking off the item. One recent line read: Move Lamp.

That’s all. I just needed to move a lamp. Store it elsewhere in the abode. Not even take it to Goodwill or a dumpster. Just needed to move it. And need is a strong word.

It took me over a month to do this. I actually failed to move the lamp in the month of November. It was early December when I did this, and it took approximately a minute and a half. Draw your own conclusions, and beware as you read on.

My list is almost never completed. I generally do the things on the list I actually want to, and then stand and look at the list, shake my head and go smoke or pace around and ignore the list. I spend a lot of time in my head, just thinking about doing things. Sometimes that’s productive, when I’m specifically concerned about the details of a story or painting.

Anyhoo, the list does mock me and that’s why it’s important. It’s a paper warning (yes, I use paper for the list, so that I can derive satisfaction in crossing the items off with an ink pen) a portent of potential doom, for I know if I can’t manage to do the items on that list, it becomes harder to pretend there isn’t something wrong with my mind.

I will give some advice on making lists to help you schedule your task now.

  1. The first thing on your list should be something motivational. Since I began making lists in my twenties, I usually use, “Crush my enemies.” As I’ve grown older and less fond of the ways of Conan, now I sometimes just start with a normal item. But not always.
  2. The second item and the remainders should be distinct tasks that have an endpoint. “Exercise” isn’t a good thing to put on you list. “Go to gym every Monday, Wednesday and Friday” is better. “Go to gym 15 times this month” is even better because you can mark little check marks next to it every time you go.
  3. Give yourself some easy tasks. That way you get to mark them complete. It makes it feel like you are doing something and that might boost you towards actually doing something more important. Example: Move Lamp. Warning: this doesn’t always work.
  4. Your list can grow. If I’m having a problem doing anything (frequently), sometimes I take a smaller task and just jot it down at the bottom of the list. That will be the thing I do upon waking the next day.
  5. You can look back at your lists at the end of the year and get an idea of what you were trying to accomplish, a kind of broad look at your own struggles. Then you may laugh or cry or both.

Anyway, all that advice is mainly bullshit because I’m terribly ineffective for vast swaths of time. Really what happens is I do little for a long time, and then I will suddenly, manically accomplish a lot in a wave of brutal guilt and fear. But that’s not really good advice to give.

Good luck!

The Allure of Apocalypse

The Crazy Testament is a loose collection of notes I keep in a loose collection of note-keeping areas. Herein, I expand on those ideas which probably should have been forgotten.

I was driving across the Skyway Bridge a few weeks ago. It was cold for Florida, in the fifties, headed to play tennis in a beat-up farm truck I’m driving. It was dark.

And because it was dark the Bay glowed the brighter. The sheer light surrounding me contrasted with the varying depths of dark in the Bay: the brighter shadows of the moon’s reflections, the inky swathes where angles prevented the moon’s light from striking my moving eye silver and sharp.

Mainly, the light was a static yellow/white glowing around homes, businesses and streetlamps.

So, accelerating up the incline to the bridge I thought of Cortez. I think it was Cortez who landed here five hundred years ago, or around here somewhere. (Nope, it was De Soto). The exact history didn’t matter for my purposes. I knew a conquistador had landed around here and I knew he would have seen a land without light.

I thought of the violence of these Spaniards. And I thought of how different our minds probably were, day-to-day at least. I wanted to believe I was different than him. I think I do.

As I allowed the weight of the old metal-bodied farm truck to coast down the decline of the Skyway, I felt superior. Superior to Cortez. (De Soto, dummy, it was De Soto, maybe you shouldn’t feel that superior.)

This made me think of the Apocalypse. Or rather, Apocalypses. A multitude of endings. Why do we love movies, books and comics that feature the end of the world?

I”m sure there are a lot of theories–thanatos-stuff, linear religious mindset-stuff, etc. Could be. But I have a fringe theory I developed in my few moments of gliding across the Bay. It goes something like this.

It’s the year 2018. About to be 2019. I feel like my society is less violent and more progressive/progressed than most people living in any other period of history. And I mean that overall. World society. Whatever that is. Is this true? Probably. I feel it’s true which is what matters more than the fact.

But here’s the rub. Cortez (and De Soto) and all the other conquistadors, alchemists, astrologers, religious zealots, bakers and coopers, princes and kings, the oppressed and oppressors: most all of them probably thought they were at the pinnacle of their age. Right? Maybe not smart, but smarter than the past, more in line with the truth. Didn’t they think that? I think most people do.

So, yes maybe a tiny fraction of people living in Dark Ages Europe realized they were living in what would later be called the Dark Ages. (The people I’m thinking of would be monks who realized how much of the Classical world’s texts they had no access to. This required meetings between the Arab world and Constantinople to even understand the severity of ignorance in the West. But don’t trust me, I don’t even know who landed in Florida, apparently. Where did Cortez land? Mexico for sure…?)

And so, I too believe that I’m probably one of the chosen, the elite for no other reason that I happen to live in the latest age.

But I know logically that can’t be so, because at any time in the future, future people will look at us (most importantly to me, me) as something akin to the way I look at people 500 years ago. So we are all savages; just not yet. Everyone alive always lives in the “latest” age.

And here’s where the notion of Apocalypse serves every one of us. The only way this can’t come to pass, or be true presently, the only way we can live freely without concern for the way the future might regard us is if the future is degraded. And the only likely way that might happen is with a worldwide catastrophe or apocalypse.

So Apocalypse (why do I keep capitalizing this? Bible-brain, probably.) divorced from religious notions becomes an entirely selfish idea. It’s a way of pretending that we won’t be looked at as barbarians to our descendants. 

This was the idea I had as I drove across the Skyway Bridge. I tried to explain it to my friend and his ten-year-old kid while playing tennis. I’m not sure I did a good job then or now.

The Water Between Us exhibition during Miami Art week

I’m proud to announce two of my paintings (Carriage Ride: Level 2: Ohio River and Carriage Ride: Bonus Level) will be on exhibition during Miami Art week running December 3-10th, and continuing through January 15th, 2019.

The show is entitled, The Water Between Us and takes place at:

d|a|c gallery

Rail Too Building

360 NE 75th street, Unit 123

Miami, Little River Arts District