REPORTAGE: HARBORFEST

That's Joe Flanagan up top there, reporting on the recent escape of demons from Hell right there at Town Point Park. Man, I blew it. I thought I'd be smart and get to Harborfest early and get light crowds, fresh food, etc. When I got there I learned that the Bodeans were playing tonight at 8:30! I love the Bodeans! You think I'm just talking shit, don't you? Admit it. Well go download Still The Night from their first album and see if you don't agree with me. And they probably played it tonight too! But I couldn't wait around at Harborfest for four frickin hours. Even an hour looking at my drawing buddy Mike Bell's amazing work in Waterside just made a little dent in the wait. Oh well. This was my first Harborfest since they re-landscaped Town Point Park, and I tried to appreciate it, I really did. But it's so damn flat and treeless now! Oh, sure, there are saplings around, but what good are saplings? By the time they provide any decent shade I'll be upstairs enjoying my 72 bags of Puffy Cheetos. Shade is in short supply at the new waterfront. But I did have some good food from a Trinidadian stand, so that's something.

SCOTT'S CREEK

An idyllic little corner of Portsmouth, or as idyllic as things get in Hampton Roads. There's a bunch of port stuff on the other bank, and the creek bottom is covered in creosote, they say, but at sunset it's still a magical place. An osprey has a nest on a piling out in the middle of the creek, just to the left of my drawing, and there are always plenty of geese for Jack to throw firecrackers at.

SNOW IN THE BACKYARD

One good thing about drawing snow scenes is you can leave a lot of space blank. Artists are basically lazy, or else you'd find us working down to the Ford plant or whatnot. Instead of losing appendages in machinery or listening to assholes say "How's that report coming, Taylor?" we get to sit around playing with paints, a skill we pretty much mastered in kindergarten. And we can't get laid off, cause we don't have jobs! Ha ha ha, America! The only thing we haven't quite worked out is the money part. That kind of sucks.

View in all its magnificent largerness here.

ABSORBED AT SAM'S

The patio or whatever you call it at San Antonio Sam's is a good place to waste time on a sultry afternoon, or a perky afternoon, for that matter. Yesterday wasn't really sultry, it was kind of cool. Internally sultry might be more accurate. Very humid inside my skull yesterday afternoon. It was a day to put down my work, if only I had been working, and go find someplace to sit and stare into the void. Which I dutifully did.

PILE DRIVER AT REST

Happy Labor Day, everybody. Since I have been diagnosed as labor-intolerant, I won't be celebrating today. I take that back: I do have something to celebrate. I learned yesterday that I've been appointed an alternate on Obama's Southeastern Virginia Death Panel. I can't wait! I've already drawn up a tentative list. They're not all elderly, but they're all deserving. There's this one snotty kid who lives in the apartment building on the other side of my back fence, who makes faces at me and calls me "Old Man Taylor". Boy, has he got a surprise coming.

VIEW OF COLLEY AVE FROM SAN ANTONIO SAM'S

A million skritches, each one black as pitch, adding up to gray. That's cross-hatching for you. It's the white page that does it; no matter how many skritches you put down, the blinding white shines through, and when you pull away, it's gray. If you started out with a black page, things would be different. You'd skritch and skritch and it would be like you had no ink at all. That must be a comfort of sorts.

COMMERCE

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As for me very very delightful I am. So it is; director's which is not me; You must sit down, a kind of artist; The chair of which of all next door judges, concerning that work means life, and uses kind of people and the food which often go to these places which try the fact that discount and that kind of ones are obtained everything is assembled and inhales and the raw materials. If you do not like the stick candy which is fried.

AROMA HOUSE

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There are other establishments in the area which could with equal justification take the name "Aroma House", but probably for PR reasons refrain from doing so. If you come within 100 feet of the loading dock at the Harris Teeter on Colonial Avenue, for example, your body will experience a reaction similar to receiving general anesthesia. The best you can hope for is to make it to the little picnic table where employees smoke before you lose all muscle tone. The aroma that hangs around that venue tends to counteract the garbagey one at the loading dock, and after a few minutes you're capable of swaying into the store itself, where the aroma of bananas, then rotisserie chicken, then raw fish, will keep you careening down the appropriate aisles. If you make it to the checkout line and the big guy in front of you in the puffy coat farts, you end up back at square one.

HOUSE MADE OF BOAT CHUNKS, CHICK'S BEACH

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Thank god for those among us who feel compelled to transform the places they live into bizarre works of art. You can drive for miles and miles through bland soul-draining craphouses and condoslums in Virginia Beach, but when you come upon one of these gems, it's like seeing the flag planted at Iwo Jima. I'm here, it says, and I'm like nobody you've ever met.

THE FRENCH BAKERY THAT'S NOT FRENCH

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If you want to know more about this bizarre oddity, you'll have to don your North Face and hike down to the newspaper dispenser on Sunday and read my sketchbook. It's only $1.25, you deadbeats, and it'll make me look good. Okay, Sparky, you ask, what if I don't have the pleasure of residing in that earthly paradise known as Hampton Roads? Jeez, do I have to do all your thinking for you? If you live in a great metropolis such as your Brooklyns or Torontos or Azeitaos or whatnot, just go to an international magazine and newspaper stand like they have at every corner, and tell the alcoholic degenerate ex-con behind the counter that you'll hold your breath until he delivers a Virginian-Pilot. What could be easier? At the very worst, you will have fainted and been given mouth-to-mouth by said alcoholic, thus earning yourself a little tongue action. Huh. I just realized how close the words "degenerate" and "DeGeneris" are. Kinda ironic, huh? I remember the first time I looked up the word "lesbian" in a dictionary. My parents used to have a worn old paperback copy of "Rally 'Round The Flag, Boys" by Max Shulman, author of "The Many Lives of Dobie Gillis", and because it featured on its cover a cartoon illustration of wolf-eyed men chasing buxom redheads in circles, my parents kept it buried in the bowels of a massive piece of furniture they insisted on calling a "hutch", behind the martini glasses and swizzle sticks and all the other cocktail-party accessories, because cocktail parties were all the rage back then. And in this book were words like "lascivious", which propelled me to the dictionary, and inevitably to disappointment, since when you advance to the dictionary level, the titillation factor drops precipitously. But at least it supplied you with information that was valuable in clinical discussions with your peers. "You don't have the slightest idea what a vulva is, dickhead!" "Yes I do, shit-for-brains, it's the colored area around the nipple!" Our science teachers should have been proud of our intense scholarship in the discipline of female anatomy. We couldn't understand why our intellectual curiosity wasn't reciprocated. "Don't you even want to know what a scrotum is?" I asked Gwen Miller. "Oh, I know exactly what one is," she answered with a piercing, relentless gaze which let me know that, in her eyes, I was the embodiment of the word in question. So that's why you should go out and buy Sunday's paper.

NORFOLK SKYLINE FROM BERKLEY

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I'm really tired of buying crappy "fresh" food. I mean, if you wanted to buy prepared food, you know what you're getting, but fresh food hasn't lived up to my expectations for a long time now. Today I bought some nice-looking peaches from Harris Teeter, and they taste like wooden peach replicas. And I know they've been engineered that way for efficient transporting. Which I wouldn't mind if I thought it meant that hungry Bangladeshi children were now eating American peaches. But you know that's not happening. It's all about internal American marketing logic. We're told that we have more choices than at any time in the past, but the choices are all packaging and what's inside the packaging sucks. When you bite into a waxy tasteless tomato or a woody peach, you're eating packaging. The depressing part of it all is that there's probably nothing to be done about it. The "local" fad is fine for those who can afford the jacked-up prices and who have the free time to cruise around foraging in their Land Rovers. But there's no way it will ever become the dominant model. The whole country depends on the constant forward motion of the commerce machine, eating up resources and spitting out self-destructing junk. We may think we're in control of it, but we're not. We're just hanging on for dear life.

Damn! I sound more like a radical commie than I ever did when I was a stoont. I even owned a Land Rover at one point. I guess getting knocked out of the fast lane helps you see the traffic patterns better. Or, as I'm sure the McMansion dwellers would have it, it could be merely a case of sour grapes.