Tuesday, September 27, 2011

hmmm. . .

Well so, last week was a busy week in ArtMan-land.
Between having to appear in court as a witness on behalf of my good friend, the nefarious Dr. Cooper, trying to remember how to tie a Windsor Knot and wrapping up a months-long project of a mouthful of dental work I needed to get done (don't cringe, it didn't hurt), there wasn't much time to think, or write, about much else. But after a quiet weekend and an extra down day due to rain. . .

I didn't choose to get up close and personal with this thing so I don't know what it is or what it does.
From where I stood it struck me, artistically, as a visually interesting representation of functional industrial sculpture and another illustration of how human-kind exists beside nature rather than in accord with nature.

Left to itself, nature in Paradise, or anywhere else for that matter, doesn't need or want anything.
All it has to do is breathe. Nature is a self-sustaining eco-system. (you knew that)
The air, the ocean, the coral, the trees, birds, fish, geckos, iguana and our freakishly large bugs. . .
Everything just naturally and effortlessly supports
everything else.
Throw in human-kind however and it all gets a little trickier.

We need paved roads, gas stations, electricity, flush toilets, cell phone towers, Dion's Quick Chick Chicken and whatever this thing is.
But when you get real about it, all those things aren't human needs; they're human wants.
Whatever this thing does, it's man-made and so, designed to force a desired result; nothing natural or effortless about it.
(human-kind exists beside nature rather than in accord
with nature)

Our civilization could have evolved just as naturally and effortlessly as the geckos, iguana and the freakishly large bugs. But it didn't and I know, as well as you do, that it's way too late for us to go back to living like Gauguin's Tahitian beauties.
We're stuck with the mess we've made.

I've heard it said (and maybe so have you) that if every bug on Earth (freakishly large or otherwise) died off, the planet would die with them. But, if all of human-kind died off, our small blue marble of a planet would prosper.

Just a little something else to make you think, hmmm. . .

Thursday, September 15, 2011

cayo paloma

Alright, alright, I admit it. I did an illegal thing, pulling off on the shoulder of the road on the 7 mile bridge for a non-emergency stop.

I was driving back down the Keys the other day and out the corner of my eye was Pigeon Key.
Now, I've been there a time or two for the annual arts and crafts festival but never thought it was much to
write home about.
Still, on that particular day, it seemed to be
calling out to me. . .
Artman. . . Artman. . . Artman. . .
(Christ, sometimes I just hate when that happens!!)

Long story short, I was compelled to pull off the road, get out of the car, nearly get creamed by a mile long Peterbilt seemingly doing a million miles an hour and take this
damned picture.
(it was the perfect place to become the proverbial bug
on the windshield)

But I got the shot and, very luckily, still live to tell the tale. . .

Pigeon Key, originally known as "Cayo Paloma" is a small, 5-acre island located off the old Seven Mile Bridge (seen in the background there) just short of 50 miles north of Key West, below Marathon Key in the middle Keys.

Early Spanish explorers named it for large flocks of White-crowned pigeons (Columba leucocephala Linnaeus) that roosted there.

Originally, Pigeon Key was a work camp for the Florida East Coast Railway.
During the building of Henry Flagler's Overseas Railroad Key West Extension between 1908 and 1912, there were, at times, as many as 400 workers housed on the tiny island.

A few of the buildings from the Flagler era remain on the little rock and are now part of the Pigeon Key Historic District.
Today, they serve as housing for educational groups, administrative offices for the non-profit Pigeon Key Foundation and the Bridge Tender's House has been converted into a small museum.

The last thing I wanted to say about Cayo Paloma was a thought that came to me while I was editing the wide angle photograph seen above and has to do with that portion of the old Seven Mile Bridge.
By all accounts, it really is 7 miles from Pigeon Key to the next spit of coral (which I'm pretty sure is Duck Key to the south) and in between there's nothing but water. Can you imagine being on a train, running down that single track, wider than that single track with no railings on either side? Looking out the windows of the train on either side, all you'd see is water.
But for the bumping and grinding of the steel wheels,
I'll bet you could imagine that you were flying over the ocean.

How cool is that?

Sunday, September 11, 2011

that sorry day

"September 11, 2001" © 2001 arthur a. winstanley

I drew this one exactly 10 years ago today between 9 & 10 in the morning while I was watching the events in lower Manhattan on September 11, 2001.

There's not a whole lot anyone can say about that sorry day that hasn't already been said and I'm not even gonna try here. But I did want to pay a moment of homage to all those souls who were, through no fault of their own, put in positions of absolute powerless-ness.
No one human being has the right to put another in that place.
It's just wrong.

I don't believe in the existence of "heaven" or similary, in the existence of "hell".
But karma is our reality. We, all of us, will reap whatever
we sow.

Outside the mainstream consciousness there remains a question as to who is responsible for the crimes of that
sorry day.
I'm not sure we'll ever know for sure and, 10 years gone,
I'm not sure it matters. But whoever is responsible, knows they are; and will, in this life or their next, be fated to
realize a reckoning.

Saturday, September 10, 2011

ukulele lady

This past Labor Day I woke up with a song dancing around
in my head.
You know how that happens. . .
A tune gets caught in the cogs of your mind and no matter what else you're doing or thinking about, the damned song haunts you all day long. You know what I'm talking about.
The song I woke with was "Ukulele Lady", published back in 1925 by Richard Whiting & Gus Kahn. . .

. . ."I saw the splendor of the moonlight on Honolulu Bay;
There's something tender in the moonlight
on Honolulu Bay. . ."

Well, a couple of hours later, after I'd had my 2 cups of morning coffee, the tune was still with me. . .
". . .And all the beaches, are filled with peaches who bring their ukes along; And in the glimmer of the moonlight,
they love to sing this song. . ."

I jumped in the shower, gave my head a good soak and the record just kept on playing. . .
". . .If you like Ukulele Lady, ukulele Lady like a'you;
If you like to linger where it's shady,
Ukulele Lady linger too. . ."

I knew right then there was no getting away from it so I surrendered and decided that being afflicted with a corny tune was as good a reason to take the day off as any.
No Monday thing at the BluePaper, no working the phones, no billing, no nothing. . .
". . .If you kiss Ukulele Lady, while you promise
ever to be true;
And she sees another Ukulele Lady
foolin' 'round with you. . ."

I just wanted a long walk.
So I drove up the Keys to the "hinterland" and did
exactly that; walked.
". . .Maybe she'll sigh (an awful lot), maybe she'll cry (and maybe not); Maybe she'll find somebody else by and by. . ."

Whilst walking and feeding Florida's State Bird (the mosquito) with gallons of my blood, my mind began wandering as I wanted it too and it always does when I go walk-about.
And it hovered around school daze. . .

When I was a kid (all those hundreds of years ago), the most Labor Day meant to me was that in two more days school would start. I always thought it was cool that the first week of school was only 3 days long and imagined it was so the nuns could get used to wearing their scratchy habits again after dancing around naked all summer.
". . .To sing to when it's cool and shady,
where the tricky wicky wacky woo;
If you like Ukulele Lady, Ukulele Lady like a'you. . ."

But the first 3 day week of school was cool for us kids.
I mean, it sucked having to get back in long pants, long sleeved shirts buttoned up to the collar and those really sad embroidered clip-on ties but at least, for those first 3 days, we didn't have to do any real school work.
Those 3 days were spent calling role, being assigned classrooms, distributing books, getting to know who your new pain in the ass teacher was gonna be and sitting in assembly for a new school year pep-talk from the monsignor.
". . .She used to sing to me by moonlight, on Honolulu Bay;
Fond memories cling to me by moonlight,
although I'm far away..."

I never did like school. Being cooped up in a room behind a desk (which had a hole for an inkwell no one used anymore) for 6 hours with 30 or 40 other kids and a relic of a nun we nicknamed "Pruney", just wasn't my cup of meat.
". . .Some day I'm going, where eyes are glowing and lips are made to kiss; To see somebody in the moonlight
and hear the song I miss. . ."

All the same, I was good at it. (my parents would have nothing other) But then, about 6th or 7th grade, along came RoseAnne Dechelli. My adolescent testosterone went through the roof, my grades were like "who gives a sh*t" and I turned into the juvenile delinquent I still am to this day.
(". . .and maybe not")

But for all my stomping around in the brush,
I never out-paced that damned song.
". . .Ukulele Lady like a'you. . . . . . . . "

Here's a link to a version of the song in question.
Click on the chick to check it out.
(Go ahead, click on her; you know you want to. . .)

Saturday, September 3, 2011

"the condition"

Just a little political spit-balling from the cheap seats. . .

. . .and, for the sake of this observation, the operative words are " first" and "black"

When Branch Rickey signed Jackie Robinson to the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947, making Robinson the "first black" ball player to play in the modern era Major Leagues, he understood it wasn't going to be the most popular management decision he ever made.

Both he and Robinson knew that however good Jackie Robinson preformed on the field (and he was really, really good) they both were stepping into a steaming heap of bigoted abuse. So there was "the condition"; Robinson had to agree to just take all the disrespect that would come his way on the chin, without comment or retaliation.
The last thing either he or Rickey wanted, was to fuel the fear driven fires of white bigotry with the image of an angry black man and cloud their vision of the bigger picture.

For 10 seasons Jackie Robinson just played the game (a career total of 1382 games) and no matter what anybody said or did, on or off the field, he never said a word.

He played in six consecutive All-Star Games, six World Series and when he walked away from the game, his lifetime batting average was .311 with 137 home runs, 734 RBIs and 197
stolen bases.
He was inducted into the MLB Hall of Fame in 1962 and his uniform number, 42, was retired across all major league teams, (a high honor in MLB). After he died in 1972, Jackie Robinson was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Gold Medal.

But for all that success and accomplishment, Jackie Robinson did something so outstanding that the rest pales by comparison. He opened the door to ball players of color and by staying true to "the condition", when he left the game, that door stayed open. Without Jackie Robinson there would be no Roy Campanella, or Willie Mays, no Elston Howard, Reggie Jackson, Rafael Soriano or even Derek Jeter, who was born of a black father and a white mother.

And there's my clever segue to our current President. . .

In June, 2008 as the Democratic primaries were winding down, Barak Obama and Hillary Clinton, the last two Democratic contenders, attended the 56th Bilderberg meeting at the Westfields Marriott in Chantilly, Virginia.
When the meeting was over, so were the primaries.
Barak was offered the Presidency and Hillary was placated with the office of Secretary of State and a future seat
on the IMF.

The powers that really rule the world had made their executive decision. (McCain never really had a prayer, he was just next-up on the Republican roster).
But maybe, just maybe, the Bilderbergs understood the
"first black"
President of the United States wasn't going to be the most popular management decision they ever made; and maybe, just maybe, they knew they'd be stepping into a steaming heap of bigoted abuse and so, there was
"the condition"; Obama had to agree to just take all the disrespect that would come his way on the chin, without comment or retaliation.
After all, the last thing he or the Bilderburgs wanted, was to fuel the fear driven fires of white bigotry with the image of an angry black man and cloud their vision of the bigger picture.

In the three years since his election, from time to time, I've been as frustrated with how the guy rolls over for the obstructionist, predominately old white guy, Congress he's been saddled with as anyone else. (Like, when's he gonna grow a pair, start kickin' ass and taking some names?)

The dude signs an "Affordable Healthcare Act" and a "Recovery & Reinvestment Act", repeals "Don't Ask, Don't Tell", sees to the killing of Bin Laden, puts more boots on the ground in one worthless war and takes them off the ground in another, he doesn't invade Libya, he turns 50 and takes a vacation with his family and now he can't even get a
speech scheduled. . .
No matter what Obama does, the obstructionist Republican House only gives him sh*t; and still, the guy never says an overly aggressive word.

It was during the "debt ceiling" mayhem that I started thinking back to Jackie Robinson.
He was the "first black" ball player in the modern era Major Leagues but, he wasn't the last.
Barak is our "first black" President but, there are a lot of other politicians and legislators of color out there on the horizon. Despite anything else, Obama's outstanding achievement is,
he opened the door; and maybe, just maybe, by staying true to "the condition" (whether it costs him a second term or not), that door will stay open and he won't be our last.