Wednesday, December 31, 2008

new year, 2009

I can remember going to the 1964 World's Fair and, as an impressionable youth, enthusiastically embracing the promise of the many marvels that were sure to be mine for the asking by the turn of the millennium. So, years later, when 1999 rolled into 2000 I started wondering. . .
"hey! Where's my flying car?"

Anyway, moving from "Unisphere" to "Blog-o-sphere" for this New Year, the internet is replete with retrospectives, rants and reviews of 2008. . .
Notice how we pronounce that, "two-thousand-eight"; and tomorrow, with really few exceptions, most of us pronounce 2009, "two- thousand-nine". But 100 years ago we would have pronounced 1909, "nineteen-oh-nine" (much less of a mouthful than saying "one-thousand-nine-hundred-nine"). We could say "twenty-oh-nine" for 2009, but we don't.

I figure it's a millennial phenomenon. . .
For the first 100 years of every millennia, we change the language. We say, "two-thousand-nine", a 1000 years ago, people probably said "one-thousand-nine" and 1000 years in the future, (when I probably won't be around to pick up my flying car from the dealership) it'll be "three-thousand nine".
But what do you want to bet that 100 years from now, people will pronounce 2109, "twenty-one-oh-nine"?

A hopeful New Year everyone. . .

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

artman's alphabet - M

click image to enlarge

blue water dave

"dave's '68" original photography & photoshop, 9 x 12 matted & framed

Sunday, December 28, 2008

sittin' in limbo

I've been rummaging around the studio this afternoon trying to decide which piece of artwork I'll submit for the Anne McKee Auction next month. I don't usually have any trouble making decisions and although I've decided on "When Wicked Weather This Way Comes" for the upcoming event, I have to admit that it took the better part of the day to come to it.

"Snake Shares His Apple" colored pencil on cotton rag, 11" x 14" matted & framed

It's this week, the seven days between Christmas and New Year's that I've always thought of as a sort of Limbo. (You know, that place where dearly departed souls go while they wait for God to make up his mind about where to send them.)
Really, it's like that, a lazy four day weekend then two and a half days back to work (but not really) followed by another lazy four day weekend with an extrememe possibility of hangover. You can't really start a new project because it'll just have to be shelved in favor of the festivities in a couple of days. So it's just kind of hang out, watch T.V. or read, sleep in and eat leftovers.

"Salvage Hand" colored pencil on cotton rag, 11" x 14" matted & framed

I know I should be maximizing the down time by refining my search engine optimization skills or something but, in my "Limbo laziness" I can't seem to get going on it. So I'll just lay back and watch my Netflix movie - "Hancock" - a third time, re-read Key West The Blog's rave review on page 5 of this week's Solares Hill, polish off the last of that apple pie and go back to bed.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

christmas, 2008

'Twas the night before Christmas and all through the Keys, all of Conch-dom were merrily trimming palm trees. The shopping and wrapping were now winding down and parking at meters was FREE all through town. . .

This Christmas marks the 40th anniversary of Apollo 8 orbiting the moon.
This picture, "Earthrise", was the first ever picture of our planet taken by a human (Bill Anders) from space.
It offers a sense of how insignificant, fragile and alone we are.

On Christmas Eve 1968, in the most watched television broadcast to that time, Apollo 8 crewmen Frank Borman, Bill Anders and Jim Lovell read verses 1 through 10 from Genesis.

(click the violet text link to give a listen)

Apollo 8 was a great scientific acheivement for all the wrong, politically motivated, reasons but after a year that saw the assassinations of Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King, the Tet Offensive turning the tide of the Vietnam War against the United States, Apollo 8 was just the shot of inspiration everyone needed. You would think, after 40 years, WE THE SPECIES might have learned something?

Pouring over the stats for Key West the Blog the other night, I was happy to see the number of readers still growing and happier still to realize that readership was global. The statistics also tell how many visits the blog gets from specific countries and I was thrilled when I saw a very healthy following from our military in Iraq.

With that happy thought in my head, I wandered out, camera in hand, to cover something else when this scene screamed out to the corner of my eye.
I thought it was a perfect metaphor. . .
Whether or not I, or anyone, believes that our young heros in uniform are protecting the rest of us from global chaos or are unfortunate pawns in a political power play, the reality is that while we are here, they are there.

Imagine that behind that wonderfully decorated door, are all of us.
You, me and everyone we know, comfortably tucked away with our families and friends and caught up in the fussing and bustling of the season. The soldiers are outside the door, less comfortable, separated from those they love and exposed to "the elements".

Our gratitude for their service is sincere, our prayers for their safety are deep and meaningful but they've been out there a long time. Let's open the door and get them back inside with the rest of us.

Other than that, with this appropriately red & green still life, I wish you all a very Merry Christmas along with my extreme gratitude for your loyalty and support.

Many blessings - a

Sunday, December 21, 2008

casa de la navidad - VIDEO

At this time of year, it's hard to miss the house on the corner of Ashe St. and Angela.
For the whole month of December it is decked out with toy trains, singing penguins, dancing snowmen, talking trees, Christmas lights and the biggest Santa in Key West!

Shirley and L.T. do a righteous display and it's a "must see" for anyone living in or passing through town. I've visited every year since I've been in town and this year I donned my "gay apparel", took a few pictures and schmoozed them together with music and a little video.

Happy Merry to all "and to all a good night!"

click arrow to start video, run time 3:20

artman's alphabet - L

click illustration to enlarge

Saturday, December 20, 2008

créche consciousness

I found my way over to the United Methodist Church last night to catch a bit of the living nativity scene.Re-enacted mostly by the children of the congregation, reverently costumed as angels and shepherds, it was a very nice re-telling of the story we all know so well.

Whether any of us believe the nativity story as historical fact or allegory, we have to admit that mostly everyone on the planet is aware of the tale.

For some of us there's never been a time when we can remember not knowing about Caesar's census, the star in the east, three wise men and no room at the inn.

The peace and kindness of the story of the Israelite's birth is in dramatic contrast to the vicious and violent story of his demise. Yet I suppose that's very much a parallel to the world we live in. Dog eats dog all year long but, for at least one day - Christmas - we lay down our aggression, greed, pain and worry, to just be.

If any story, fairy tale or not, can have that kind of effect; I'd say it's a pretty good one.

Friday, December 19, 2008


In deep dreamless sleep, consciousness is still there but is covered over by the darkness.
In that sleep we don't know what day it is or if we are men or women; we are only aware of consciousness. Imagine if we could go into deep sleep while we were awake. To enter a sphere of consciousness but consciousness of no particular thing, only a calm awareness of being.

In meditation we can step back from our lives that are seemingly "out there" and bring our focus within. With an internal focus, we can realize that all life goes on within us and everything "out there" is just an interpretation of what we think we perceive.

Sitting in silence, our minds turn inward. Aware of only our breathing, thoughts become whispers and our worldly worries give way to calm. In that calm, our egos are quieted and our fears are put to rest. We find within ourselves the harmonic peace of conscious energy that connects all things.

It's not always so easy and sometimes, no matter how hard we try, a flood of thoughts and "Monkey-Mind" come splashing down on our peace. Our focus lost and our calm is upset.

But with patience and practice we can learn to gently shift our focus away from the outward intruders and back to that one point within. With patience and practice our focus sharpens and our mind's eye begins to see clearly, the reality within.

Our clarity establishes or renews our faith that our existence is so much more than the handful of years we spend eating and breathing in this lifetime. That we are all connected in a universal consciousness and, being connected in that awareness, we are the One.

Thursday, December 18, 2008


Under the deulge of all the thoughts and splashing tangents that rain down on our minds every second of every day of every year of our lives, it's not surprising that our attention is distracted from one thing to the next and the next in rapid-fire succession. It's that knee-jerk mental reaction to all those thoughts that a Zen-Master would call "Monkey-Mind".

Then sometimes something happens. Life throws us a curve-ball and our reaction to that unexpected situation (and the thoughts that come with it) is to focus. We really get in there to examine what's going on, with blinders on to everything else. Often we get in so close that the frenzy is, at first, a confusing blur.

So we step back a bit, change our perspective and hope for a more focused view from a different angle. Still very single minded, from our fresh perspective we may begin to understand the how and why mechanics of the situation that has suddenly demanded our undivided attention.

In our burgeoning understanding we can start to relax, take another step back and calmly begin to consider the "big picture". We can then, more clearly, weigh our attitudes against our previous thoughts and experiences and hopefully make an informed decision on how best to react.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008


Whether we realize it or not, most of us live through our day to day lives on auto-pilot. It's not a bad or good thing and, at the speed of life, it's easier keep up with whatever needs doing day to day guided by our habits and patterns than to re-think each of the thoughts that come cascading down on our minds every day.

Still, a few times a year (I do it at the turn of the seasons) it helps to make the time to step back, take a non-judgemental look at the big picture and gain some perspective on where we are in our lives and how we got there.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

musical musings

After we'd put this week's edition of the BluePaper to bed, Dennis, Rhonda and I sat down together for our weekly post production "staff meeting" at the Meteor.

It was good to have Rhonda back at the bar after her year long staff meeting sabbatical to have her new baby boy. Dennis and I both agree that she adds a touch of graceful elegance to the proceedings.

Anyway, they watch TV at the Meteor the same way I used to (back when I actually did watch TV) sound down, music up. I was on my way to resume my stool after "seeing a man about a horse" when I glanced at the TV that was set to the weather channel. Somewhere in America it was snowing like hell and as it does sometimes when I see snow scenes, that Michael McCloud lyric, ". . .I'd rather be here just drinkin' a beer than freezing my ass off up north. . ." smiled through my mind.

When I got back to the meeting my focus shifted, for a second, to something Aerosmith rockin' on the box and unconsciously my left hand mimicked the lick on an air guitar that wasn't there. Always impressively observant, Rhonda caught me doing it and asked if I played guitar. I told her I did and she wondered, after all the time we've known each other, why she didn't know that.

I explained that in Key West, no one really does and while I used to work on stage up north, now I only play for my own peace of mind. (like Sherlock Holmes playing his violin)

Well, I was doing exactly that a few days ago when I decided to change out the strings on the old D-50. While I was getting it done I thought back to a recent conversation I'd had with friend and famous sax-man, Marty Stonely about creative expression.

We agreed that whatever creative medium we were into; be it sax or guitar playing, painting or writing, taking photographs or shooting video; the energy invested in the creative expression is always constant and uniquely personal.

hmm. . . I mused as I tuned up my new strings, if the energy is a conscious constant, regardless of the medium employed, then the relationship between individual forms of creative expression must be inherently harmonic. . .

. . .and, with just a touch of design sense, I concluded, all the 8 or 9 mediums I work with could be brought to a single stage, a paradigm performance as an orchestra.

If I didn't lose you along the way there, you'll understand that I've discovered a new creative direction for the new year.
So, as we say at the BluePaper, "stay tuned". . .

Saturday, December 13, 2008

artman's alphabet - K

welcome to mallory square

If you've ever seen one of those ceremonies where the mayor of a city gives some notorious notable the "key to the city", haven't you ever wondered how the key recipient knows which doorway to the city the key fits?
Like in New York. . . is it for the Lincoln Tunnel, the Holland Tunnel or the GWB (George Washington Bridge)?

If you get awarded the "key to the city" of Key West, there is no doubt, Mallory Square is your way in.

Friday, December 12, 2008

it's all about compromise

At four this morning I found the full moon. It took a bit of doing for the patchy cloud cover going on but, at that hour, I didn't have much else to do so I could afford to be patient.

Finally, at 4:23 I took my best shot. 

I knew it was 4:23 because while I was setting up out in front of the house, my new upstairs neighbor was just getting home from her job at Bare Assets and, for some reason, explained that she gets off work at 4 and it takes her exactly 23 minutes to walk home. (math that simple I can do in my head - even at 4:23 in the morning).

Anyway, the full moon won't really be fully full until 4:39 this afternoon and as good as my camera is, it can't shoot the moon a half a world away. So, I took what I could get.
Sometimes, it's all about compromise.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008


There's a feeling I get when I'm sailing at sunset. Like a presence, a spirit is riding the wind just over my shoulder. A warm calming consciousness on the horizon where sea and sky meet; but excited, mischievous poltergeists where the keel cuts it's wake.

SkyPirates, photoshop & original photography,
16 x 20 matted & framed

They are SkyPirates; the breath of the adventure, the navigators of dreams. The mothers and daughters; the wives of past lives. Following closely behind as silent as night, they board to lay waste to worries, intoxicate with their naked beauty and steal your heart.

Monday, December 8, 2008

politically correct?

I seem to be subconsciously caught up in a red and green motif these days. . .
. . .Christ, it must be the X-mas season.

or is it less politically correct to say. . .
. . .X, it must be the Christmas season.

jesus & the burglar

I thought I'd try some something new and completely different. . .

Sunday, December 7, 2008

christmas comes creeping

The first signs of Christmas that creep into my consciousness each year are usually those red and white decorative disasters that the city hangs on the lamp posts. Once I've seen them, I know it's about time to avoid all the stores on North Roosevelt like the plague.

Still, sometimes I find myself, like I did early last week, in dire need of stuff that you can't find in Old Town. So I dutifully drove out to the region of retailers where at this "most wonderful time of the year", Winn-Dixie and Walgreens, K-Mart and Office Max, Radio Shack and Pier One Imports (where I specifically needed to be) are festooned for the festivities, knee deep in more merchandise than they'll ever sell and all to the piped-in background caroling of the Living Strings Orchestra.
(Don't you get a sense that I got in and out of there quick?)

My first hands-on merry making for the holiday season comes, as it did last night, with the Christmas Parade. It's kind of an annual tradition for my girl Sara (no H) and I to see the parade, then celebrate the start of our Christmas season, at her place or mine, with generous tumblers of eggnog and rhum, all to the piped-in background caroling of, musicians more to our liking.

Now if any of this sounds just a bit cynical, well it probably is. But there seems to be hope.

This morning there came an unexpected Christmas surprise. . .
Netflix finally cleared the way for instant movie viewing for MAC users too. So nogged to the brain cells with good Christmas cheer, what do you suppose was the first instant movie I viewed instantly? Tim Allen in "The Santa Clause 3". (go figure)

Now, once again has Christmas come creeping and the next thing you know, I'll be donning my gay apparel.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

nice work if you can get it. . .

I want to find a good job. The kind where I can show up for six months or a year and then tell the boss that I want to take two years off (all expenses paid) to fly all over the country and look for a new and better job and then, while I'm away, I can expect to keep collecting my full salary and medical benefits.

If I don't find a new and better job, I can come back - no harm no foul - and if I do find a new and better job, I won't even have to give the old boss 2 weeks notice. Where can I find my dream job?
Three words. . .
Obama, Clinton, McCain.

Now, I don't have the gene that compels someone to want to be President so I can't understand why anyone would want to be. But for those who do, don't you think they could chase after the new and better job on their own time, like the rest of us have to? Or at least, if you're doing your job search on company time, couldn't you keep your time frame down to a month or two weeks?

Obama, Clinton, McCain. . .
Think about it a minute, all three of those knuckleheads work for us. In theory, WE THE PEOPLE pay their salaries. Can you remember getting the memo requesting a leave of absence? I can't.

While a rogue president was busy looting the treasury, waging two wars that none of us sanctioned and making us take our shoes off at the airport, these three "federal employees", who might have made at least an insignificant difference, didn't even show up for work unless it was a publicity stunt intended to expedite the job search. What's wrong with this picture?

Friday, December 5, 2008

recurring regatta

I've been drawing pictures both professionally and for pleasure for a really long time.

"yankee clipper", watercolor on hotpress

It's really been a bit more involved than that but, at this point in my career, after a rollercoaster ride of lean and flush years, degrees in design, long stints in creative and art direction for the Fortune 500, a decade as the owner/operator of an advertising agency and all the years of freelancing I've done since moving to the Keys, it all seems to boil down to an unpretentious, one sentence resume. . . 

"I draw pictures for a living."

"western union", colored pencil on cotton rag

All along the way, a recurring subject has been sailboats.

"smooth sailing", digital illustration

No matter what else was going on, no matter what my "professional title" might have been, no matter which medium I happened to be working in - I've always come back around to sailboats.

"sunset and sails", acrylic on canvas

Even before I ever got out on the water, I've been subject to "sail consciousness" and always figured it was the influence of a previous lifetime.

"ghost ship", pen & ink on illustration board

So when I opened the gallery "Art-on -Ashe" a couple of years ago, it was impossible to not include a fleet of sailing vessels.

"saturn, mars, moon and mind", digital illustration

These are some of the boats I've got hanging on the walls as part of the current collection and I thought you'd enjoy a look at them.

"pride of the fleet", watercolor on coldpress

If you happen to fall in love with any of them and want one for your very own, I can make framed museum quality prints available. Just drop me a e-mail and we'll work it out.