Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Myspace seems to have alerted a great many people of my upcoming birthday. Thanks to those folks who wished me well, I appreciate it. Hopefully being 26 will be interesting. Looking forward to it.
So anyway, I'll drop a few photographs on you guys. It will be a great goat trio. Or The Very Short Story of the Peckish Bovidae if you will.

The problem with petting a fine goat is a simple one.

As your fingers find way through their head's kindly curls...

...the horned devils will eat your shirt corners.

Yes quite brief.
I know.
I think I'll watch Oceans 13 tonight. Why not?

Friday, May 11, 2007

The 16th president of the United States has been remembered as a calm and persuasive person. A man who was level-headed and intelligent. A "Prairie lawyer". Abraham Lincoln was all of these things.
He was also a phenomenally witty individual. So witty, so sharp, so very capable with sarcastic prose that in the early hours of September 22, 1942 he found himself in a duel to the death on Blood Island. This isn't fiction.

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In 1834 Abraham Lincoln, a Whig, was elected to the Illinois state legislature. James Shields, a legislator with the rival party, was also present. At that time the state's banks were nearly bankrupt. While neither party could agree on the proper method to resolve the pressing financial issues these two men arranged a compromise. An agreement that was intended to secure future prosperity for the fine citizens of Illinois. For a time all was well.

As the political careers of the two men continued to develop they found themselves increasingly divided on issues of finance. Shields was elected to be State Auditor. From his office he had made a series of poor decisions that earned him fair criticism. For example: one law required tax collectors to accept only hard gold and silver as payment for debts. This effectively destroyed the value of paper currency. Economist and most politicians agreed that it was a piss-poor idea.
Lincoln, thoroughly disagreeing with those policies, used his knack for biting satire to fling barbs at his opponent. Under the name "Rebecca" and other pen-names he began to write letters to the editor of Sangamo Journal. The letters were scathing. They exaggerated James Shields egotism and character which required creativity according to those who knew the man. As it turns out the Auditor was rather fond of himself. Very much an egotist.
The letters were continued by Lincoln's future wife Mary Todd and others from his close circle. Eventually Shields demanded that the Editor give up the names of his attackers. Per Lincoln's instructions he said that Lincoln had been the sole writer. Upon learning the author wasn't a woman at all and infact his former friend Shields wrote a furious letter demanding that Lincoln publicly take back all the things he had said about his honesty, honor and personality. Determined and unimpressed by the rudeness of the letter Lincoln replied saying that only a more gentlemanly letter would sway him. The next letter he received was a challenge to a duel.

Though duels were illegal they were not unheard of. As a politician they were truly dangerous. To participate in one has its potentially lethal consequences of course. To refuse would ruin a career. The people love a fight and courageous men who accepted challenges honorable combat.
As the recipient of a challenge to duel Abraham Lincoln was alloted by tradition the right to choose the weapons and location.
Lincoln took full advantage of his rights by stipulating that the duel was to take place on an island near Alton, IL. Bloody Island was the likely location, technically a part of Missouri where duels were legal. The following conditions were cleverly designed to not only give himself a clear advantage over his opponent but to highlight the absurdity of the situation. Hopefully that would make Shields retract his challenge.

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The weapons to be used would be "Cavalry Broadswords of the largest size". Also, the battle was to take place in a fighting pit measuring 10' by 12' with a large wooden board in the center which neither man could step across without forfeiting his life.
But James Shields was an angry stubborn man. He accepted the ridiculous terms.

A disappointed Lincoln and the irate Shields met on Blood Island and prepared themselves while their seconds tried desperately to reach conclusion that wouldn't require anyone to be cut to ribbons.
As the debate went on Lincoln, who was 6'4" took a saber in hand reached up and began to lop branches off of a tall willow tree. As Lincoln did this his much shorter opponent realized the severity of his disadvantage and allowed himself to be persuaded to resolve their differences sans-broadswords.
Upon returning to the shore the men agreed that a letter from Lincoln admitting authorship of the inflammatory declarations and stating he had no intention to impune the character of Shields would rebalance the honor of the two gentlemen.

Years later the two men would join into a more agreeable relationship, even becoming political allies. During the Civil War James Shields was made a Brigadier General with the approval of President Lincoln.

Twenty years after the affair Lincoln buried the cavalry broadsword.

He always disliked talking about it.

Here is an interesting book on the subject:
Myers, James E. The Amazing Saber Duel of Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln-Herndon Building, 1968


Thursday, September 07, 2006

Last night I went out for some photography and climbing. Actually "clambering" would be a more appropriate word. I don't know enough about technical climbing so staying off the real buildings felt like a supreme idea. Instead I walked around the area between Downtown and Biltmore.

Everything was wet. The earth, grass, sidewalk, the lots. All of them. It made for a slippery environment. One not suitable for my midnight chicanery. Also, my shoes, the work shoes, the ones I have been wearing six days out of every week for the past year or so have absolutely no tread. I was unprepared. Very un-eagle-scoutish. Very little was interesting on the property of my employers at one in the morning. Things didn't get interesting until I got to the bridge that carries McDowell St. over the train tracks. I stood on it there for a moment trying to asses the possible avenues of my decent. I am not sure how far my position was from the ground but I do know I could say "Sasquatch is furry" before hearing the impact of a dropped pebble.

After a few moments of rational life-evaluating through, something I assume is uncommon in people who want to climb down these bridges, I opted to drive. On the way down I considered what would happen if I had tried to crawl down the bridge and what it would have been like for my family if I had fallen. It was a moment of introspection. I felt awkward riding down.
The bridge's underbelly was made from mud and stones. Shards of glass, excess debris from the nearby junkyard, reflected the orange tungsten light out from the unhealthy soil. Again I thought about being more prepared and not wearing shoes with souls no thicker than my skin. These shoes are a good pare. They are lightweight and matt-black. The rubber is all gone now and the softer foam is all that now protects me from the jaggedness of the landscape. I both adore and loath them because I can always feel what road I'm on. The problem is the shoes don't care what road I'm on.
I climbed the junkyard fence as quietly as fences can be climbed. Some of it's rattling made me nervous. I wasn't sure if this place kept a pack of dogs. After a few minutes of caution the large holes in the fence and general swampiness of the terrain convinced me that K9s wouldn't be able to catch me here nor would they be able to survive.
Scrap-metal Junkyards provide a most potent reminder of how dangerous we as a community can be to the land we habitate. Even the "empty" places have pieces of rusted sheet and bike parts embedded in the earth like splinters.
There are three large piles in front of me. One seemed to be comprised entirely of metal shavings. Like the kind that come from a pencil sharpener, but steel. The other was a assortment of I-beams and vehicle parts. Between those two a dilapidated front-loader was parked and half buried on both sides. The last pile was the one I chose to tackle. It was a large pile of roughly two-hundred refrigerators. They weren't stacked neatly of course. It looked more like they had been dropped from the sky.

The wet morning did me no favors on the way up. Some of the fridges had open doors and they had collected gallons of water. Some others had gaping triangular holes punched in them from where a giant metal claw had lifted them.

It didn't take long to get to the top. From Refrigerator peak I could make out what looked like some kind of post-apocalyptic neighborhood of unoccupied lean-tos and make-shacks. A landscape of gnarled root-like metal and ill trees. I could survey the area from my big white mountain of plastic coated cooling devices.
It was a strange throne. I descended from it. On the way back to the apartment I noticed the Hospital I was born in now has many large plastic flowers decorating one of it's lawns. The display made for eire photographs.

Shortly thereafter I went home and feel asleep in my big red bed.

(more photos here as usual)

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Yesterday, in the early afternoon hours, a man I did not know walked into my work station and gave me a peach. I then ate the fruit and it was good. (I am not being metaphorical)

Today upon arriving at my employers building I found a plastic bag of tomatoes. Small ones, large ones in all manners of different warm hues. They were rather simply just laying around in the break room. Next to the 30 cent coffee machine and the Happy Halloween Avon-Calling informational mail order pamphlet. I assume these tomatoes are from the unidentified fruit distributor or the UFD for short.

I've begun to hypothesize. Who is the UFD? Is he an employee's husband? Perhaps he just gives the receptionist a ripe one and slips in. How old is he? He looks like he is just over half a century. I suppose we can't couldn't his rings. Nor will I ask him about his age. I have chosen to remain ignorant of the life and times of Mr. UFD. Rather than bother with the curiosities that are naturally embedded in these kinds of affairs I've decided to abbreviate him. Make a characature of a man.
Those kinds of simplifications seem unsettling and demented but I know I regularly engage in them. Stereotyping and generalizing on a individual scale.

Made to order. Fresh, neat and clean.

Every day I see hundreds of people. Most of them I do not know and may never see again. I know nothing of these wanderers. The woman who walked her dog yesterday near Monford is nothing more that that. I could make up a story for her. She may have been from Tampa. Born there in 1978, before it became the Emerald City, before the strip clubs. She tried college after her graduation from a private school but had an opportunity to live abroad with a Mission in Burma and left. Maybe she misses the Beach but not the sun. Who knows.
How difficult would it be to actually know the people we see? That would be a nightmare. To much information. Psychics must have a hell of a time just leaving their homes. If I could see into personalities and memories I'd be a shut-in.

I guess that makes the stereotype of the wild mystical hermit stereotypes much more believable. Some wild hermits live around here. Or they used to anyway. In Fairview somewhere off Highway 74. They shop at Ingles #111. They come in two or three times a year and nervously fill up a couple shopping carts with non-perishables like canned beans and dog food. These people don't enjoy the typical human-to-human contact that comes with average day-to-day grocery shopping. In all likelihood they only come into town to argue over tax issues, buy dog food and renew their fishing license. I like to stereotype the Appalachian Wildmen.

Hell, I like to stereotype.

I also like little histories. Each word has a one. Take "Stereotype". I learned of it's creator while reading about typography a few years ago. A man named Firmin Didot was the originator of the word. He was a printer's son in a family of printer's sons. Unsurprisingly the word was originally just a printer's term. Stereotypes are printing plates that were created for a single page as opposed to a layout with moveable type pieces. They were his invention. In the late 1700s this was quite revolutionary. But it isn't his accomplishments that make this man so unforgettable in my mind. Rather, it is just hard to forget a name like Firmin Didot.
I guess that just goes to prove my need for the stereotypical simplification as a shorthand for humanity. Although I understand much of Didot's history and relevance it is his rather unfortunate name that forms the core of my memories. Like a sun, it shines in the center. Around it spins a galaxy of useful information. A galaxy that is seen less because I'd rather look into the bright sun of a silly name.
What a cliché; remembering a silly fact rather than important volumes of valuable validates.

Coincidentally, "cliché" is an old printing term as well. Its an onomatopoeia generated from the sound made when molten lead hit the text matrix during the stereotyping process.

Everything is circular. Not unlike a peach.

Last night I drank four beers and watched A Cock and Bull Story with Johnson. It was very tangental, like this post I suppose. But that is what I've come to expect from anything Steve Coogan related. Rob Brydon was in it too. Somehow this goes to reinforce by belief that the two men are actually the same person. I will watch it again but will likely never read the book. It would be worthwhile though. After all, as I understand, the novel actually ends before the main character is born. Steve Coogan commented: "This is a postmodern novel before there was any modernism to be post about." Who wouldn't enjoy that?

Well that is about it for meandering words. Here are some pictures for the last couple nights.

More in the flickr account as usual.

Ok, bye.

Friday, August 04, 2006

I have a few staple colors that I like using for all kinds of different creative activities. They can usually be found in every painting I finish. One of most prominent is Prussian blue.

The pigment in the paint is generated by adding Fe(III) salt to a solution of [Fe(CN)6]4-. The color is that of bluejeans and cyanotype blueprints. Two things that to me are part of a grand American legend. The better part of what we have created. Durable clothing, bic pens and big dreams.

Making this fine pigment more interesting isn't difficult. it has quite a few unusual properties. It's electrochromic (changing from blue to white when charged), toxic (due to prevalent cyanide ions in it's raw state) and experiences all manner of molecular activity when exposed to light and magnetism. It is the first modern synthetic color and its creation was accidental.

Prussian blue is often used in color bleaches. The trick to making your clothing seem brilliant white is making them slightly blue. It fools the eye into thinking it is brighter and therefor, a little cleaner. The same thing happens to your teeth when you bleach them. Your grandmother might have it blue rinses applied to her hair.

Prussian blue is very valuable. It is a good name for a useful chemical compound.

However, a name is only that.

There are some things I despise about the name.

Take for instance the pop folk duo that bears it.

The two young musicians named Lamb and Lynx are, to put it politely, a "white power" band. They have also been described as "a sinister version of the Olsen Twins". I prefer to call them "the cute hate group."

Their music, according to their mother April Gaede, is about Vikings and German History. She has been home schooling using textbooks from the 1950's and her own uniquely bigoted perspectives to teach her daughters the way of the world.

She seems malevolent and domineering.

Here are some of the lyrics to Sacrifice:

"He fought so strong for our race. We're finally back in our place. It took his life, my dear son, and now it's over the war is won. Our Race was saved because the lives that were sacrificed: those men that died...
Sacrifice , they gave their lives. All those men who have died. Sacrifice, they gave their lives, all those men who have died.
Warrior poet, I sing his songs. Ian Stuart, with his voice so strong. Remember his words, as we sing along.
Rudolph Hess, a man of Peace. He wouldn't give up he wouldn't cease, he gave his loyalty to our Cause. Remember him and give a pause.
Robert Matthews he knew the Truth. He knew what he had to do. He set an example with Courage so bold. We'll never let that fire grow cold.
Dr Pierce, a man so wise, helped so many of us open our eyes, see the future for what it could be: a future for our Race’s eternity."

-Ian Stuart was the singer for Screwdriver, a racist punk band. A automobile accident did away with him after it was supposedly tampered with by London gangsters.

-Rudolph Hess was one of Hitler's deputies. A man of peace indeed.

-Robert Matthews robbed banks and an armored car and a porn shop to raise funds for his hate fledgling group. The FBI burned him alive in a house fire.

-Dr. William Pierce wrote The Turner Diaries and helped to found the American Nazi Party and Cosmotheism. He died rather peacefully four years ago.

Intolerance, elitism and unprovoked hatred are some of the unusual properties of this Prussian Blue.

I am reminded that though we live here as individuals, we do so together. Sometimes that is forgotten when the us vs. them mentalities abound.


A name is an abstract. Something intangible that is only real in the spectrum of our minds. Names are just reference points.
I like a specific shade of blue so much that I purchased tubes tubes of it yesterday and they will likely be gone soon. At the same time I despise the hatred laced into lyrics sung by two seemingly innocent adolescent girls. Now I find myself in a situation wherein I must refer to them both unfairly using a single moniker.

When I say I like Prussian blue I could be saying I have a pedophiliac yearning for an absurd little pop-fascist folk duo that frequents Nazi rallies and Renaissance fairs. Or I could be an aspiring architect. Or maybe I'm a mad chemist who spends all day electrocuting Iron/salt compounds then blogs about how much fun it was. Or maybe I came really close to picking a favorite color.

Does this seem strange to anyone else?

Oh well.

Monday, June 05, 2006

As a child, Charlie Chaplin developed a illness that confined him to his bed for weeks at a time. It is difficult to imagine the difficulties this would provide for a five year old.

After dusk his mother would return from the theater. She too was a showman. In the light of a dwindling sun she sat near his window and acted out the activities on the street below. Perhaps she made creative additions to amuse her bedridden boy. Maybe an Arabian camel made its way down the street. Or a fabulous march, full of regalia, flags and stern martial order. Or a panther snaking its way through an unsuspecting crowd. Or maybe the Ernst the baker was having trouble with his window as he usually did in the later hours.
His mother was later overcome by a mental illness and admitted to Cane Hill Asylum, now known as Cane Hill Psychiatric Hospital(CHPH). She lived there for years and had few lucid moments within those confines.

Later Charlie invented "The Tramp" and galvanized new standards in American cinema with his awesome creativity. He and his older brother Sydney returned to England to visit her.
"Sydney saw her, but I had not the courage, so I waited. He came back upset, and said that she had been given shock treatment of icy cold showers and that her face was quite blue."
They took her to a private institution. This time Charlie did see her. He told her she would be well soon.

She said "Of course, if only you had given me a cup of tea that afternoon, I would have been alright." This cryptic sentence haunted the Tramp for quite some time.

CHPH's administration block is cartoonishly featured on the original US 1970 cover of The Man Who $old the World by David Bowie. The glamourous musician's brother, Terry Burns, was a inmate there. He later escaped to walked in front of a train. That wasn't the first of his suicide attempts but it was the most successful. He believed his brother would come and "rescue him".

The great artist feared seeing his brother. He feared that he would loose his own sanity. So he wrote letters and sent albums. David Bowie seems like a brave man in my opinion, one not prone to those kinds of mortal problems. He is fiercely independent. The man once declined a invitation to join The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire as a Commander. He also has permanently dilated pupils and differently colored eyes due to a schoolyard fight. Perhaps he is simply an alien.

We are all tied to life's nuanced tragedies. I have fewer tethers than so many others. This is something I am thankful for. Although, now that I'm thinking about it, more philosophizing must be rolled over to know who I should be thanking.

Here are the last words of one of CHPH's wards:

This man thanked his retainers. He had my name. I have my fathers name and like me, he his. I'm reminded of the 'Peter Movie Credit Phenomenon'.

Next time you see a movie in the theater stay for the credits. Look for the name 'Peter'. You will likely find that the name is disproportionally represented. I find it often exceeds in quantity the more common named like 'John' for instance. Sometimes 'Michael' beats it out. Michael happens to be my middle name. I have no idea why this is or what it means.

Its pretty tangental anyway.

The Cane Hill Psychiatric Hospital is a beautiful building. Some of it is still in mint condition. Other parts have been bombed, burned, vandalized, or have simply experienced dilapidation.
It is the kind of place I would like to take up residence. I believe that its variety is inspiring. I think the incredible history is inspiring. Michael Caine's estranged brother was once a resident there.

One of the rooms has a carpet of moss.

Chairs sink in the old wood floor.
Glass guides light in for
Natural reclamation.

With time all things become soil.

In the mountains of North Carolina we have a tenacious vine named Kudzu. It is native to Japan and parts of China. The word for "vine" is "kuzu" in Japanese. Now it is a invasive exotic in the south east United States.

I like to think of kudzu as a "plant warrior". One vine can grow up to a entire foot per day. You can see it slowly overtaking large trees and old buildings. Uprooting and demolishing everything within its reach. vehicles,
fences and all manner of other objects become shambling leaf covered giants once enveloped. Sometimes they look like dinosaurs in costume. Monstrous reptiles motionlessly masquerading in plant materials. It happens fast and yet just slow enough to keep most of us unaware. I've seen a houseboat consumed by kudzu in Cullowhee N.C.. The plant wears the crown of a conqueror.

One covered in purple jewels.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

I just read my favorite episode from A Lessons is Learned but the Damage is Irreversible again. It is titled Getting Over Women. Like many of Dale and David's embellished stories the title is a misnomer. It isn't about getting over women. It stars a yeti.

I think about yetis far more than I really should. They great snowman intrinsic to my existence. I envy his great strength and stealth, his self-imposed solitude, his self-sufficiency. I admire things that haunt but I don't know why.
We used to call my brother Jef "the Yeti". When we where younger his hair was quite long. Mullet long. Of the 6 of us brothers he was the hairiest. To this day he still holds that title. The hairiest one, not "yeti" of course. That is enough about yetis though.

Well just after this yeti collection.

"blue steel"

Yetis adore free hugs!

and trying to scare kids.

but not this kid, he is immune

Some are surlier than others.

But they know how to take it easy.

Some more than others.

They are skilled healers.

Some play sports. Like Baseball.

And Skier-eating.

Sometimes I dream of yeti intermurals.

Mascots like superman can be part of Team Snowback.

Yeti Intermurals must be fantastic.

Yeti games.


Yesterday I saw the seasons first firefly. Fireflies (aka lightning bugs) are beetles, not flies, though they do fly. The abdomen of a firefly contains the enzyme Luciferase which acts on substrate Luciferin to illuminate little bug. So when they are all out we will gaze out and see there glowing bug crotches floating around the grass like perverted willow-wisps.

When I was in elementary school I heard my peers talk about catching the bugs, waiting for a glow and then smashing them to make colorful glowing face paint. This apparently happened. Or at least they said it did. I never saw anyone crush a bug into their hand. I think most of them would have found that "gross". I don't it seems like something quite harmless to us the might humans. But the destruction of a living creature just so I could have glowing lemon-lime cheeks always felt wrong. So I never killed a firefly on purpose. They are beautiful, even when they are flashing genitalia lamps on the fourth of July.

Someone recently ransacked the home of two of my friends. They are currently away on vacation. I think it is important that they don't have to deal with this knowledge until they return. I would hate for them to abandon a well-earned vacation because of some ridiculous vandals. Completely ridiculous vandals. From the looks of the home and the wreckage they left behind I assume they where looking for money and only that. Many things that I would have thought to be stolen where still there. TVs, jewelry, expensive purses, all discarded as if they where trash. They even yanked the laundry out of the machine. Who does that? I hope the frustrated rampage was fueled by the thieves inability to find any cash.
Speaking of theft, a few days ago my family and I stole a piano from a house in-between ownership. I suppose the legality of it is only a little bit questionable. The piano was left by it's former owners and the people moving in didn't seem to want it. So we took it. The massive instrument now resides in the lower level of my parents house. I don't think any of us can play it.

Last weekend was spent at a wedding and wedding parties. In related news I hope more of my friends have surprisingly wealthy parents and marriage plans. I took way to many pictures. Roll after roll after roll.

That is all.