Monday, April 25, 2011

Messages, Day 16: Sign by Trent

In an era of graphic perfection, there's something really satisfying about a hand-painted sign.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Messages, Day 15: Heterosexual car-thievin' assholes

Clarence the car has returned, somewhat the worse for wear. The Newton County police spotted him because his tag expired a couple days after he was stolen. So he's been languishing in an impound yard, waiting for me to bail him out. Today, $375 later, as I prepared to drive old Clarence back home, we discovered that the delinquents had unceremoniously ripped out his ignition.

(The impound-yard guy got Clarence started after a battery jump, and helpfully instructed me to keep a screwdriver with me to turn the car on and off. I declined, and had poor Clarence towed to the nearest dealership).

In addition to the ignition, the little creeps broke the lock on the trunk, poked a bunch of holes in the back seat, sliced off some of the vinyl and padding on a rear door panel, pried off the fancy "INTREPID" letters on the back, and just generally insulted Clarence's pride in a hundred other little ways.

By far the most interesting bit of vandalism, though, has to do with my bumper-stickers. I have two.  One says, "Happy Naked Pagan Dance." The thieves were apparently fine with that one because they left it alone.

The other, though, is a rainbow smiley face, and that one didn't fare so well. It seems being a hoodlum, even a dancing, earth-worshipping-in-your-birthday-suit kind of hoodlum, is considered socially acceptable. But being gay? God forbid!

Hence, the following message fail:


Messages, Day 14

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Messages, Day 13

I'll leave the interpretation to you on this one.

Messages, Day 12

"Nancy Almand, Died 1876"

At least, I think that's what it says. I came upon the Almand family cemetery a couple of years ago when I was looking for Crazy Patty's, a discount place in Conyers, Georgia. The Almand family appears to have been reasonably well-off; most of the markers were professionally made.

Yet in the middle of the cemetery is one large, crooked stone for Nancy Almand. The stone itself appears to have been hand hewn, as is the inscription. This is curious, because Nancy was the matriarch of the family -- a "lady of note." What's more, while the gravestone says she died in 1876, genealogical information on the 'Net shows her as having died in 1875. So this gravestone raises some intriguing questions.

More than anything, though, I have never been able to get out of my mind the image of that lone person -- a lover? A son or daughter? -- carving those letters one by one, bit by bit, hour after hour after hour. In the end, he must have had enough, because he only scratched the year of death into the stone.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Messages, Day 10

I don't quite know what to make of this. The driver didn't look like a weeny at all.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Messages, Day Seven

Last night:

It's after 1 a.m. and I just got settled in at home. Today was the last day of the legislative session in my fair state, and as usual they took it almost to the wire. "Sine die"* was declared at around 11:35 p.m.

Considering they started at 10 this morning, and I started earlier than that, it's been a really, really long day - but exciting and fun as well. I'm actually about to nod off, and I have been known to type in my sleep, with some pretty interesting results. So this will have to be quick.

On the third floor of the state capitol, hordes of lobbyists make their rounds each day. Hundreds of them, every single day of the session. On first sight, it's beyond madness. But in fact, there's a rhythm underlying the chaos if you just stick around long enough to catch on.

At one corner of lobbyist row, there's a rectangular patch of worn-down carpet that's duct-taped to the gleaming marble floor. I have heard -- and I consider the source reliable -- that on this carpet square, the real deals are made. Now, why you would need carpet for this, I can't say. But sure enough, every day the same two or three power-brokers hang out on that rug.

Getting too close to a power source can be dangerous, and I've been advised to steer clear, for my own good. But I still sneak a peek when I pass by, because that carpet speaks volumes about privilege and influence. I mean, really: how many Joe Citizens do you know who can just walk into a state capitol building, stake out a claim to a 3 x 5 corner, stick some carpet on it with duct tape -- and nobody dares to remove it?

So that's my image today, that rug. The picture isn't what I hoped for, but I was trying very hard not to be noticed. Or arrested by the vice squad.

Ladies and gentlemen, the lobbyists have left the building.


* Sine die is Latin for, well, something-or-other. Here in Georgia it's pronounced in a very un-Latin-like way, so that it rhymes with "tiny pie." That's just wrong. But to my horror, it turns out to be awfully close to one of the acceptable pronunciations.  And here I thought it was a Southern thing.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Messages, Day Six

Nothing says "Buy me!" like a big old warning sign in front of a house. I wanted to get the house in the picture. Unfortunately, I was sort of afraid to get out of the car, so this is the best shot I could get.

By the way, this house is not in my neighborhood. And no, I'm not buying it. And no, the picture is not photoshopped.

Although neither sign is handmade, I still see elements of a human touch; somebody had to be pretty frustrated to design and professionally print warning signs that are sure to scare away buyers. The person who planted these signs must have felt both resignation and defiance.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Messages, Day Five

Sometimes the beauty is in the detail. 

Oh - and just because I don't understand the message doesn't mean there isn't one.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Messages Day Four

I'm guessing that this started out as graffiti; it looks like it's been scrubbed out. Whatever this message originally said, it looks more like a painting by RC Gorman now.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Messages, Day Three

This place is still in business. Every day when I pass it, I see it as it must have been when it first opened, freshly painted and brand new, bustling with mid-century American optimism and surrounded by cars with names like Rambler and Maverick and Fury.

As the years went by, the optimism must have faded...

little by little.

Saturday, April 09, 2011

Messages, Day Two.

Saw this at the bus stop. It didn't occur to me until later that I've been missing my friend Bobby Miller.

(I've moved the other project to my FB page)

My 100-day project: Introduction and Day One

So, recently I blogged about 100-day projects completed by graduate students of Yale art professor Michael Beirut, and said I wanted to play, too. So I've been thinking, thinking, thinking...

I wanted something that would be fast (like 10 minutes), easy, and fun. And if it produced some sort of result or a body of work, so much the better.

But what to do?

I thought about 100 days of shoes, but I wasn't so crazy about having to approach perfect strangers to take pictures of their feet. Kinda creepy.

100 days of trash (too depressing).

100 limericks (too hard), or 100 haikus (too easy).

Well, it finally came down to two projects.

First: 100 little bitty acts of sobriety. Because, you see, today I'm exactly 100 days away from getting my 1-year chip for abstinence from compulsive overeating. A lot can happen in 100 days, so I'd like to take out some insurance. And how great would it be to have 100 esteemable acts under my belt on my birthday? Trying new meetings, mopping up little bits of wreckage... Productive? Oh, yes, fabulously! But not much fun. Not so interesting, either, to anyone but me. Plus, it's likely to be embarrassing because you'll see all the stuff I haven't been taking care of.

So, screw that, right?

On to my second idea: 100 hand-wrought messages. Messages in all forms: hand-painted onto storefronts, scratched onto walls, scrawled on signs stuck in the ground, carved on a gravestone. Messages with some sort of human touch, or feel, or presence. A hundred of them.

But wait... it would be nice to have gotten all that work done....

I can't pick. I'm doing both. So let the games begin.

Day 1: 100 little bitty acts of sobriety.

I got paid today. I sat down and paid bills. I paid one of them early. This is new.

 Day 1: Hand-wrought messages.

Best laid plans...