Sometimes everything looks so beautiful I can’t stand it. I’m serious, sometimes my optic nerves are sending tsunamis of ecstatic pulses to my brain, and it’s painful. I’m not just talking about a golden tree under a streetlight, this also encompasses a beat-up cardboard box at the foot of my bed and a Swiffer mop lying on an alternately shiny and crumbly basement floor. I can’t escape it: I close my eyes and see an Abstract Expressionist light show. I stare at my to-do list, hoping to be distracted by the archive of guilt enshrined on its pages, but all I see are fascinating hieroglyphs punctuated with wonderful red-Sharpie cross-outs. There is no haven. I almost think I can understand what it must be like to be autistic. It’s just too fucking much.

Fortunately, this doesn’t happen often. More often than not, I stare at the beat-up cardboard box at the foot of my bed, holding old sneakers and worn-out jeans and a tablecloth and think “What am I doing with a goddamn tablecloth?” I don’t care enough to dispose of the box and wouldn’t know where to take it anyway. And I’ll think, “Ah, ennui! I’m not going crazy after all.”


A random section of my driveway, unretouched.

I used to be able to do a kind of walking zen meditation, where I just took shit in through my eye holes and ear holes and nose holes and told my brain to sit back and shut the fuck up for a few minutes, please. And everything I took in was a marvel. Not any more, except for the briefest of moments, like the above. But of course, taking a picture somehow transforms the gold into lead anyway. It immediately becomes not a marvel, but data. Heisenberg. Not that Heisenberg.

These days I'm too busy for that shit. Except I'm not busy doing stuff, I'm busy churning stuff in my brain, the subject more often than not being the stuff I should be doing. I know, First World Problems. There you go, something else to churn about. My brain is a rich stew, eternally simmering, constan--well, not eternally, not at all, the consume by date is fast approaching. There's something else to be busy about. Too busy to, you know....       Gotta run.


This is a picture of the thing that I am talking about.

This is a picture of the thing that I am talking about.

Someone left an animal trap right in plain sight on Spotswood Avenue. Very poorly hidden, if you ask me. No animal in his or her right mind would be fooled by it. But it could easily be tripped by a child! Not that it would be a bad thing per se, but it might be a child I knew! Or me! If I hadn't of looked up at the last minute, it could have latched on to my ankle or whatnot. It's close calls like this that make you stop and think--what a world we live in! Full of viruses and terrorists and floods and Republicans and--hey, remember fire ants? Whatever happened to fire ants? A couple of decades ago we were all panicky about them. TV news used to have maps showing their slow but inexorable advance through Texas on the way to the United States. What a disappointment that was. I bet fire ants would be good sprinkled on nachos. Especially movie theater nachos. Or brake shop nachos. Man, those are rugged.


The prey (a dry run)

The prey (a dry run)

Stripey was at the window running through her vocal repertoire this morning. This is why. She can be an operatic virtuoso when she contemplates ripping into a small, cute rodent or bird and reducing it to its component parts. She would love to be red in tooth and claw, but I won’t let her.  I painted her nails once, but that didn’t work. She lusts after the real thing. I catch her watching me these days with a calculating gaze, taking note of my declining agility while sharpening her claws on the bedspread. She likes to jump from behind the curtains and latch onto my leg, and then pull back and run off as if it were all in fun. I live in fear, to tell the truth. Just now, in fact ——aaaaaaaahhhhhhhhh!!!! Sorry, got a finger cramp from typing too many “f”s. I know y’all aren’t listening to my cry for help, you’re saying to yourselves, “Jesus, why doesn’t he mow his lawn, the lazy fuck?” What you don’t realize is that the condition of our back yard is due not to indolence but is an intentional obeisance to the dominance of Nature. Sooner or later she will win, and like the cheese-eating surrender monkeys as the Nazis rolled into Paris, I wave little Nature flags and cheer her victory. I just hope she gets me before my cat does.

Regretful Update

I just received an email from Amazon Local offering me a "Care Wash". I thought, what a great idea! I find I am caring way too much these days about things I can do absolutely nothing about, and it weighs heavily on my huge brain. How nice would it be to have all those cares washed away? Well, when I called the number, it turned out to be for some goddamn auto detailing place, which the guy who answered the phone explained to me with a somewhat disrespectful tone, and a bit of unwarranted snickering. He was clearly unaware that he was speaking to an Artist, "one of the finest artists of his generation", as Artforum claimed, or would have if they had ever met me. Well, long story short, I'm starting out this Friday a sadder but wiser man. I mean, if you can't trust Amazon, who can you trust?


Two typically inert objects from 2006

Two typically inert objects from 2006

Researching a recent project involved digging through the vast archives of the Wally Torta Library in Independence, Missouri--no, I'm sorry, in a cardboard box in my basement. I got it confused with the Harry Truman Library, as who wouldn't? Anyway, it was instructive to compare the things I drew back in 2006 to what I'm doing now. Instructive and depressing. One day these will be part of a photo essay in a Time-Life book showing the deterioration of the human brain as it ages and takes on the chemical composition of Roquefort cheese. The fact that I'm not even aware that Time-Life books no longer exist proves my point.

Lawn chairs and egret.

Lawn chairs and egret.

Back then my eye was caught by more than bored people sitting in coffee shops. And I was actually more adept at watercolor than I am now. What happened to my adeptitude? Where did my adeptivity go to? Maybe the same place as the navy boxer shorts with the little roosters on them. I can't find them either.

Downtown construction. These captions are really helpful, don't you think?

Downtown construction. These captions are really helpful, don't you think?

I worked downtown, and spent most of my lunch hours out sketching. There was a lot of interesting construction going on that year. Interesting as long as it was construction, that is. When they were done, we realized they were just more yawn-inducing Norfolk buildings.

Someone I hope I never run into in real life. I hate getting beaten up.

Someone I hope I never run into in real life. I hate getting beaten up.

When I did draw people, I was less constrained by verisimilitude. The way I drew was very dependent on what kind of mood I was in. The milk of human kindness is weak in this one.

The "other room" at Fairgrounds.

The "other room" at Fairgrounds.

Back then, my coffee shop of choice was Fairgrounds. Cafe Stella was still just a gleam in Stella's eye, which Mariusz always mistook for something else, which we won't go into here.

There is no need for a caption on this one. I'm surprised I have to tell you that.

There is no need for a caption on this one. I'm surprised I have to tell you that.

Nobody likes a whiner. But dammit, I wish I still drew like this. 

These are self-portraits. There are, let's see...one....two...There are three of them.

These are self-portraits. There are, let's see...one....two...There are three of them.

I did a lot of self-portraits back then, in hopes that I would gain some insight into my soul. I guess what I discovered was that there wasn't a whole lot in there. It was like making a last sweep through the house on moving-out day. There was a ballpoint pen...seven pennies...an Amazon box with bubble wrap in it...a toilet paper tube...a pair of reading glasses missing one lens...an empty file folder labeled "important documents"...an empty "Wedding Crashers" DVD box...a lime-green post-it note saying "save this"....and that's about it. 


I post these in the spirit of...well, no spirit. No spirit whatsoever. Enforced humility, perhaps. These defy the laws of anatomy, of physics, and probably several local ordinances as well. So what happens next is I go straight to Shucks and spare myself the despair. It's back to intruding on clothed people going about their business for me. 

I know, I'm stalling, waiting for the muse to speak to me. I have a fickle muse. Ficklemuse, that sounds like a kind of German Christmas cookie, doesn't it? Shit. Okay, I give up. I'm well aware this hasn't been my best blog post ever. You're not telling me anything I don't know.


I post this not as a fine example of drawing, but as a fine example of posing. Within the space of 10 minutes, Rocky provided us with a great series of inventive, challenging, risky poses.

It's always an interesting experience to have someone you already know as a friend model for you. There's always an initial OMG moment, but within seconds she just becomes a model in the model space. Funny how that works. And then during breaks, she's herself again.

I didn't capture her likeness very well--some of the others nailed it. I'm no longer among the top echelon of Norfolk Drawing Group. We have so many more talented members now. But I defy anyone to beat me in the category of overweight art-show goers.


Been feeling unmoored lately. The gravitational force of whatever I imagined is holding me to solid ground is weakening beneath me. The great Photoshop Jockey in the sky has reduced my opacity to 50%. Moving that slider with his fiery finger, and having slid, moves on. Is this how it’s going to be? There’s a sense of wonder at the core, but the edges are curling into brittle self-pity. Am I drifting into “bottoms of my trousers rolled” country? Exposing my pathetic ankles (which the dominatrix valiantly tried to strengthen, to no avail)? I must dig into my desk-drawer detritus and find an old hallucinogen and demand answers! Until then, I’ll see how uncontrollable sobbing works. Yeah, I know, #firstworldproblems.   #fuckyou.


The past is the past. We hurtle through the eternal present. There is a certain amount of continuity, but not nearly as much as we think there is. The physical content of our bodies is totally replaced every…well, some figure that would astound you; I’m too lazy to look it up. Well, I was. That moment’s over. All typing should be done in the past tense: by the time the words appear onscreen, the moment’s passed. I was tiping this. Now I was typing this. I mean THEN I was typing this. Actually the present is even faster than my thoughts, such as they are. Were. I’m gaving myself a headache. I think I will have stopped now/then.


This is a lot more interesting than the photos that were hastily taped to the walls: apparently a shower of ions or whatever, probably from sunspots, caused everyone’s hair to head instantaneously gravity-wise, like a dry cloudburst. It was spooky. See, if I was a Republican, I probably would have guessed that God inflicted this straight-hair plague upon us because of gay marriage, but I look for the scientific explanation first.


This is my street.

This is my street.

Tonight instead of sitting on the porch looking at Facebook on my iPhone I decided to just sit on the porch and watch my street. The first thing I noticed was that several of the cars that were parked head to tail along the street left, one by one. I would hear an electro-metallic chizzle, then a silver car would quietly glide away. An electro-metallic chizzle, then a beige car would glide away. An electro-metallic chizzle, then another silver car would back up a few feet, then quietly glide away. Maybe their drivers had just had enough. The next thing I noticed was the ambient noise of the insects. Building like a wave, then receding. And the whole time you couldn't see a thing. All that invisible noise! It made me think. The next thing I noticed was the voices drifting over from the patio of the pizza place across the street. The women's voices carried the best. And I could see parts of people through the tree limbs as they came out to smoke or talk on their cell phones. Moving pieces of legs and shirts and stuff like a mosaic or whatnot. Then I noticed that all the branches in all the trees were moving constantly, as if they were living things, which I guess they are technically. Then I noticed that things were harder to see, which meant it was getting darker, even though the sky still seemed pretty light. The trees were getting more solid. And the cars pulling away put their lights on. And then I decided to go inside. Okay, I cheated a little bit. I did have my iPhone out and I typed all this while I was noticing it. That still counts, doesn't it?


Without light, night is nothing. You can see how thirsty the night is for light. A walk around the block at 11 pm is measured by light spills poured out on the ground. Some say Abe Lincoln lay in the mud and read by spilled light, but I don't believe it. The internet is rich with things not to believe. It's ruining belief with created things. Something is very very wrong with my synapses. But I know the cure.


No, no no, that's just click bait. No baby bumps today, just reportage on the blossoming of CSDG with the addition of Bernard, Devon, Natalie, and Jen and kids, joining Kathy, Kristena, Jacob and Emily. Sadly, Kristena will soon be abandoning us for--of all places--Nashville. So we need a replacement. Another sweet, kind, talented person would be nice. But a rude, loud, hopelessly untalented person would be fine too. 

Before the rain came.

It's getting ready to rain. The liquor is bought. Large cars are angling in the small parking lot, in a hurry to get home with the liquor. Later, in another parking lot, the rain falls on the shopping cart full of paper bags full of food. The rain is brought inside. The sky is no longer worth looking at, let alone being photographed. Fuck that sky and its promises.

Crack Skull Bob cannot do Lydia Davis. Crack Skull Bob cannot even do Crack Skull Bob. But what else is there to do? I hear footsteps.



brazilian tree.jpg

This is clearly the yard of a person who doesn’t like the way foliage grows naturally. Makes you wonder what her you-know-what looks like, doesn’t it? No? Oops, sorry. Yeah, I know there’s a long history of nature-shaping, and sure, stuff need to be trimmed to co-exist with us in our traffic-congested fume-choked garbage-strewn concrete and asphalt world, but for me the pleasure of seeing a bit of natural effusion is missing from a tree like this one. What I like about the presence of nature in our sterile grid of urbanity is the way it grows by its own rules, and fuck us. It sprouts from cracks, it runs up telephone poles, it brings down power lines, it heaves up sidewalks from underneath, and it infuriates lawn Nazis. It’s like Anonymous without the pompous pronouncements and Guy Fawkes masks. And it will probably return in force once we have succeeded in our long-term societal erotic asphyxiation.