Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Sitting outside

Sitting outside listening to the cicadas and the birds, wondering how the leaves could be so symmetrical and varied, guessing when the lilies would pop open.
Was I just wasting time?
Thinking about the sweet gum as it thrusts into the sky above and the dirt below, asking myself how so many leaves could seem to appear from nothing, and how its seed ball is an elegant problem solver.
Was I not being busy enough?
Watching the clouds morph with easy grandeur, dwarfing the jet trails and overpowering the sun, their simple presence pulling metaphors out of me.
Was I being lazy?
Ignoring chores as defiantly as I could, letting the grass do as it pleases, even the vegetables left waiting for a little of my time.
Was I wasting the day?
Just sitting and sipping, not helping the economy or saving a soul or writing a letter or answering the phone.
Was life passing me by?

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Life is not

Life is not:
A bowl of cherries
The unfolding of God’s plan
A cosmic joke
All about you
What you dreamed it would be
Without meaning
A chance to win all the marbles
A journey along a straight path
Without second chances
Best lived wearing masks
The least bit fulfilling without the other
For fuddy-duddies, whiners or dickheads
Your father’s Oldsmobile
What evolution thought it would be

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Scouting in the 50's

Scouting in the ‘50’s

Cub Scout to Boy Scout. My mother was Den Mother, then my father was an Assistant Scoutmaster. I never liked the uniforms; I felt self-conscious in them. I never had the enthusiasm for scouting that most of the other boys had. In Cub Scouts the games were fun, and we were learning things. Some of the values and structured experiences began to take.

The transition from Cub Scouts to Boy Scouts never occurred to me as any sort of road to adulthood. Manhood seemed far away to me. But the transition from Cub Scouts to Boy Scouts paralled the transition to puberty. At our Scout meetings we had competitions, worked on merit badges, took first aid lessons. ( I especially remember tourniquets.)

Central to the Scout experience were camping trips. The days were filled with learning in- ground cooking techniques, leaf identification, tent maintenance, earning merit badges and knot skills. Evenings began with meals, campfires and maybe a little astronomy. For all the herding, teaching, planning and cooking the dads had to do, they got their revenge by sending us out for a bucket of steam, a left-handed monkey wrench or a short adventure snipe hunting.

Bedtime brought the inevitable sexual exploration. Boys would masturbate alone, in small groups or not at all. We for sure had to discuss penis size, and the more outgoing boys paraded their manhood for all of us to see. Who to partner with for a good wank? Quiet pleasuring or manly moans? There was some homosexual activity, but you couldn’t easily figure out what it all meant since in the 50’s homosexuality wasn’t talked about..

The big event of the year was a multi-week camping trip through the Southeast. We saved newspapers to recycle to pay for our trip since most of our families were fairly poor. For many of us, this would be the fartherest we had ever been from home. We stayed at Boy Scout Camps and YMCA camps where we could hike and swim. In the YMCA camps we were required to swim nude. We didn’t mind though; we had already gained some intimacy in the tents and sleeping shelters. We hunted frogs and cooked their legs. Hiked the mountains, swam in the cold streams.

As lackluster and mediocre a scout as I really was, Scouting has its impact on me. I still don’t like uniforms and am not a camping enthusiast, but it turns out that I’m a practitioner of most of the Boy Scout virtues: trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, reverent.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

U.S. Department of Love

We spend incredible amounts of time and money teaching people how to fight a war and sometimes how to kill. We spend a great deal of time and money also training people how to police.
But how much time and money do we spend on teaching people how to love? The love of the great religions is not innate or easy. Do we leave it to families? Or the pale efforts of religion? Or to fumbling experience?
Should we leave love to the pop singers? To the greeting cards? To the occasional sermon?
Where are the training courses for love? Where are the simulation exercises? Where are the seasoned teachers and mentors?
Dennis Kucinich once proposed a U.S. Department of Peace. What about a U.S. Department of Love with a hefty budget.

Friday, May 26, 2017

I don't get it

I don’t get it.
We work for peace, but we are the world’s biggest arms sellers.
We are compassionate, but we put more people in prison than any other country.
We pretend to care about the poor, but we legislate to push wealth to the top 1%.
We want to close the doors to immigrants, but we are a nation of immigrants.
We want our elected officials to be responsive to us, but we don’t vote.
We want to have it all, but we want other people to pay for it.
We believe education is important, but we but ignore the needs of those seeking an education.
We believe in free speech, but we want to cut funding for the NEA, the NEH and Public Broadcasting.
I don’t get it.

Thursday, May 25, 2017


All human beings are complex organisms—physically, socially, emotionally, psychologically and spiritually. To deny this is to deny the complexity of the natural world from which we emerge and the made world which we have created. To accept this is to accept the beauty and horror of the world as it is.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Coach gives the sex talk to the boys

Now boys, I know that by now most of you have discovered you have a penis. You pee with it, and maybe even have taught it some other tricks. I remember once when my son was real young, he looked down in his pants with an anxious look and said, “It’s trying to get bigger.” Well boys, it’s going to do that whenever it wants to for the best part of the rest of your life. That’s the basis of procreation.

If you’re like me when I was your age, you’ve been doing some avid experimentation with the pleasure aspect of your penis. Maybe in private or maybe in small groups-- all okay, all normal. You may have even named your thing by now. Okay, too.

But puberty is just around the corner or maybe here for you. That means you’re loaded and dangerous. You are capable of making a new human being. Yes, it’s true., boys. Acne, squeaky voice, barely visible facial hair, and you could make a baby.

So you’ve got this thing asserting control over your life, getting your full attention in math class, at night in bed, watching soft porn, at the pool. So what do you do?  Pleasure is a gift of evolution. But you get to decide how and when and with whom you want to share it. So boys, take responsibility for your decisions. Educate yourself. Be careful as it becomes an instrument of manhood, love, intimacy or harm.

It’s a wonder to behold…and to hold. Treat it right.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017


To find your human self, you must lose yourself. Lose yourself in the other. Then the other becomes the mirror in which you truly discover yourself.

Monday, May 22, 2017


Give a boy a stick, and he will imagine the world. Give him a plastic gadget with bells and whistles, and he will think it is the world.

Sunday, May 21, 2017


Is fashion the expression of:
The surface you?
The deeper you?
The wanna be you?
The wanna be somebody else you?
The peer group you?
The status you?
The fun you?
The authentic you?
The ethnic you?
The business you?
The casual you?
The power you?
The you that really just wants to be naked?
The you not listed above?

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Shimmering cloud

Fine art used to be the shimmering cloud floating above the mundane visual world. No longer so for a long time now. Folk art, indigenous art, street art, design, fashion, film—all that stuff—have challenged the elitism of fine art.

This results in a more egalitarian visual universe where art of presence and substance and seriousness can emerge from anywhere. Art schools are places of flux and constant reassessment. Criteria are fuzzy and uncertain. Celebrity, money and politics—as always—are at play.

Making art in America is a curious and unpredictable venture in a curious and unpredictable cultural climate. But the saving virtue and what is never in question and always present is the driving passion and relentless need to make something that truly means something.

Thursday, May 18, 2017


Ads, marketing campaigns, structures, systems—the products of design—can be measured by their intentions. Intentions are integral to the problem solving process and are there to be scrutinized.
What about the products of the fine art process? Should the making of fine art be intentional. Should it be measured by its intentions? Do intentions limit its power? Can intuition be intentional? Do intentions become clear before the work is made or only after it comes to life?

Wednesday, May 17, 2017


What happens when we stop listening to the birds sing?
What happens when we no longer put our hands in the cold earth?
What happens when we no longer wait for the exquisite snowflake on our windshields?
What happens when the complexity of a tree is no longer a source of awe?
What happens when the balance of nature is no longer our concern?
What happens when nature is no longer sacred

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

He's empty

Let's try to fill him up.
Countless self references, countless shout outs from friends and families, an extra scoop of ice cream, purported billions in wealth, a gold wash basin in his jet, another scoop of ice cream, best ever speeches, most ever crowds.
Are we there yet?

Monday, May 15, 2017


Some call the Millenial generation in America self-involved, narcissistic, slow to grow up, irresponsible. I don't worry much about this.I think they'll be fine.
What I do worry about is the global Millenials. They are growing up in the rubble of war, famine, poverty, repressive and unstable governments and no jobs. They are refugees and sex slaves and child soldiers. They have no hope, no possibility of hope.
The world should be ashamed about this.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

No life

No life is without suffering,

No life is without hope.

Saturday, May 13, 2017


Strange. Weird. Crazy. Radical. Bizarre. Words like these are often attached to the artist in a derogatory way. But, in fact, this is how artists are supposed to be--in intentional ways. This is the consequence of the creative drive banging at the walls of convention. Comfort and complacency never take us anywhere. Artists don’t march in place.
What’s really new—Cubism, the Theory of Evolution, Dada, non-violence, climate change—is always unsettling and disruptive. So while art can sometimes bring comfort and easy beauty, go for a ride—maybe bumpy or off the beaten track—with it and see what happens.

Friday, May 12, 2017


An older African-American man pushes a shopping cart through the streets. It is filled with aluminum cans, scrap metal and who knows what else. I see him occasionally and think that he does an important job that in a small way stems the tide of the careless and thoughtless way we trash our environment.
But then I think that he is really more important than all the Trump businesses. They pump out unneeded luxury—hotels, office buildings, clubs, steaks, wine—that only serves the rich, helps people acquire false status and, in the end, is only about personal wealth.
In reality, I’d much rather meet that African-American man and thank him for his work than even be in the room with DT.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Late night comedy

Donald Trump and his cronies have generated almost endless material for late night comedians. I watch some, if not all, of these comedians skewer Trump and his administration. And they deserve it.
But recently some things have begun to bother me about this. The humor has gotten noticeably more crass and low brow. The audience waits for the penis or vagina joke or the variation of fuck. That’s when they scream and yell and make sure their individual yell is heard above the crowd. It seems more and more that the real effort is not the satire but the ability to push the limits of taste. I am not a prude, but I do believe more in intelligent expression than pandering. Especially since the monologue is usually followed by egoistic chit chat with a celebrity hawking their latest movie.
The other thing is that laughing at this satirical comedy can bring a comfort that leads to self-satisfaction then to a sense of having accomplished something that leads then to passivity. If you marched in any of the recent marches (the Women’s March, the March for Science), you saw signs and placards that were extremely clever—as clever as some of the comedy we watch. And they were there as an active presence.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017


America. The land of the free. We all value our Constitutional freedoms and want them there for us whenever we decide we need them. But too often we forget that we are also citizens. We don’t vote. We don’t educate ourselves about our elected officials. We don’t demand that our elected officials do their jobs well. We don’t want to pay our taxes. We aren’t required to make any commitments of service to our country.
The rise of activism in our country is a sign of the awareness of our failures as citizens. Time for some soul searching.

Tuesday, May 9, 2017


Nothing focuses life like death. It’s inevitability, unpredictability and the myriad ways it arrives. It measures life and its meaning. It asks us to see our lives through the lens of the departed. Is life simply lived or is it constructed? Does life have meaning, or is it our human work to give it meaning? Is that our job alone or the communal effort of our lives linked in love and struggle?
In the midst of sadness, even devastation, the departed brings us together, crying and laughing, to affirm the joy and blessing of living in the human circus.

Monday, May 8, 2017

To aging men

Keeping active in mind and body is still good advice.
If you are funny and cheerful now, you will be later. If you are a grouchy asshole now, you will be later.
Take every chance to inflict your wisdom on young people.
Don’t fill your life with complaining about your maladies.
Accept the fact that everything will get stiff except the most important thing.
Value the women in your life.
Be as generous as you can with yourself and your resources.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

What do you do?

What do you do with information like this?
A man kidnaps women and holds them hostage for years as sex slaves.
A judge gives a white male rapist just a few months in jail because he is young and white.
An African woman spends 85% of her daily energy just getting water.
The President of the United States doesn’t know the chronology of the Presidents of the United States.
Albinos in Africa are killed or their graves robbed because it is believed that a piece of an albino brings luck and good fortune.
A woman moves thousands of miles from her family in order to support her family.
Ice caps melting is just a temporary nuisance.
For me, it’s (1) the absurdity of the world we’ve created and (2) the realization that we’re all homo sapiens, but it takes effort to become a human being.

Saturday, May 6, 2017


The $495 pair of sneakers.
The $28,000 airfare for a Derby horse.
The $200,000 membership at Mar-a-Lago.
The $1200 handbag.
The $5000 breast augmentation.
The $10,000 evening gown.
The $2 a day family income.

Friday, May 5, 2017

The Met Gala

My dress for the Met Gala cost more than the donation I made.
I have 5 houses all over the world. And, oh, the yacht, too.
I love the little people because they helped me become a billionaire.
I know I give a smaller percentage of my income to charity than the average guy, but I love to see my name on all those big buildings.
I deserve the best. The best lawyer, the best tax man, the best tailor, the best reputation manager and the best politicians.
All my offices are high enough that when I look down, the small people are actually small.
I learned a long time ago that integrity just gets in the way of wealth.

What is art?

There is no workable definition of art. Nor can there be. Art is too global, too tied to human unpredictability and too much driven by the explosive number of artists. So what to do to find a place for the meaning of art in your life?
First, ask yourself what you want or expect art to do. Entertain you? Decorate your life? Open your eyes? Challenge your beliefs? Deepen your humanity? What?
Second, be open. Let art surprise you. Knock your socks off. Puzzle you. Infect you. Make you uncomfortable. Make you feel bigger.
See. It’s as easy as that.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Luxury for some

New York Times, May 4, 2017
Thursday Styles
Cotton-viscose pants, $1290 (2 years income for indigenous Guatemalan farmer)
Cotton-elastine shirt, $670 (a year's income for an African villager)

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

The third eye

Many cultures have visualized a “third eye.” The eye of wisdom? The spiritual eye? I think of this as the eye of deep thinking. Without the mind/brain the eye is a simple camera. Thinking allows the eye to interpret the signals, to find patterns, to create symbols, to make meaning, to penetrate nature, to probe the psyche, to educate itself, to build its bank of images, to imagine and to dream.
The third eye needs attending to to open up to the world. But once it learns to see, it is curious and unstoppable and fearless in searching deep.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Great again

I always thought that Thomas Jefferson could have prevented the Civil War if he wasn’t dead at that time. I also believed that the Civil War could have been prevented if everyone had agreed to wear polyester shirts and nylon underwear.
I do remember studying in school the famous battle of Mar-a-Lago in which the North under General Teddy Roosevelt bigly defeated the Southern Army under Frederick Douglass. It was one of the seminal battles of the Mexican-American War. This was probably the most beautiful battle ever, and a model of how to make America great again.
Show more rea

Monday, May 1, 2017

Investors wanted

FOREVER YOURS is a small box attached to the back of an iPhone that is designed to contain the compacted cremains of your loved one. The phone becomes configured so that anyone who calls the beloved’s number will get a pre-recorded message from the beloved. Also the bereaved can at any time access the picture history on the phone to review the beloved’s life.
Also in the future is the construction of a beautiful PHONATERY where all participating dearly departed can have their phone lives archived and accessible to the many.