May

MATISSE AND ME

For the past few months I've become obsessed with Henri Matisse. I've always enjoyed his work and admired it many times in various museums. But a few moths ago it was like my eyes opened for the first time and I was awestruck. His colors, the ease of a line, the calm...it all hit me at once. I don't know why and I don't care. There is no pretense to me in his work. No fancy tricks. There is a genuineness that leaves me feeling well after I sit with Matisse for awhile. I'm far too angry and upset with the world and Matisse tells me to relax and look beyond the shit pile outside my door.

Merci Henri...

FV

 

FALLING BEHIND

Ah man, I knew it would happen. The days are breezing by, it's getting warm and I'm falling asleep at the computer half the time. All that to say I'm a shitty blogger, which I did say in my first post here.

I've been like a hamster on the wheel, busy at getting not much done. At least it feels that way. Hoping to have a productive weekend and do a new print. Don't know for sure though as we're planning a rather ambitious exhibit / event for July and a lot of my energy (mentally) is going to that presently.

Anyway, here's some crazy, way out there chicks busting moves...just for you.

FV

 

 

MUSIC - FUNKADELIC

Funkadelic's "Maggot Brain" came out in 1971 and endures today as a great record. Under 40 minutes long, just about 1/4 is comprised of the title track; a soulful, blistering guitar solo by the late great Eddie Hazel, with a very short spoken work intro by leader George Clinton. I like the rest of the songs as well, especially "Back in Our Minds", a quirky jam of unity. With it's iconic cover photo, funk rock sensibilities, Hazel's guitar and Clinton as master ringleader of the circus as always, this gets a listen from me a few times a year.

FV

 

COLOR

This is an earlier print I made (original here) that I colored the other day. I'm waiting on some paper to be delivered to make new prints and since my success using multiple colors in my prints isn't so hot, I took the opportunity to try something different.

The technique was basically using watercolor pencils and then wetting the pigment with water. Conversely, I also wet some areas then applied the pencil colors. It turned out ok overall considering I didn't know what I was doing. One thing is the paper wasn't to heavy so it was hard to use too much water at any one time. I also was a bit impatient which is not a characteristic to have using watercolors.

It was an interesting experiment and something I'd like to try again using watercolor as well as pastels or acrylics. I got plenty of prints that don't look to good to play around with to see what looks good and what doesn't. Hopefully my paper comes soon though as I have a couple ideas waiting to work on.

FV

 

MUSIC - THE STALIN

From 1983, this is 虫 (Insect) from the legendary Japanese punk band The Stalin. Led by frontman and legend in his own right, Michiro Endo, I got turned onto these guys probably about 15 years ago. Can't say I understand the lyrics much, but it's got as good a punk sound and feel as any band from the west, if not better than many. 

It's funny how western music is so heavily exported, if not forced, on other countries. Here in Japan I meet cats who know all the obscure punk and metal bands from America and England but when I lived in the US, I'd meet very few people who knew Japan, Mexico or many other bands from outside the usual places (US, Europe and Scandinavia). I would of loved these guys when I was a teenager but I never heard of them.

I guess the internet has changed a lot of that and that's definitely a cool thing about it. You can find quite a lot of great stuff like this in any genre really from another era in a another country. That said, I think The Stalin really had punk flowing through their veins. Check out some live footage of them on YouTube sometime. Great live and Endo was an out there character. If you dig punk, these guys gotta be in your collection.

FV

 

ATAMI

I'm a very big fan of cats. I've had one or more in the apartments I've lived in my whole life, from the time my momma brought be back from the hospital after I popped into the world, up to this very day. I have two very chill anarchistic cats.

Last week, my wife and I took a lil day trip down to a place called Atami. It's about an hour or more by train from where I live in Yokohama. Nice little town on the beach that feels stuck in time somewhere around the late 1960's or early 70's. Pretty famous for a having a large amount of hot springs.

Now, Japan in general, as much as I've seen in the seven years I've lived here, has a lot of stray cats almost everywhere. Atami was no exception. I must have seen at least 8 or  10 of them in the limited area we walked around. Could have been that being so close to the water lots of guys fish and maybe they get fed nicely because of that. Who knows?

The cat pictured above was by far the most interesting of the bunch. He or she was posted up in a phone booth just as a light rain started to fall. I probably took about 50 shots of it but this was my favorite and as is often the case, one of the first shots I took. I didn't open the door or disturb it, aside from circling it for 10 minutes but it was laid back without a care in the world. In fact, all the cats I approached that day were real sociable and friendly. 

Amazing little creatures in my opinion.

FV

 

THE SNAPSHOT

source unknown

You'd be hard pressed to find a bigger fan of old photos of strangers than me. When I lived in San Francisco I'd pick dropped or thrown away photos up off the street. I had a shitload of them that unfortunately got lost along the way.

There's such a purity in the old snapshots. People were either caught off-gaurd and often looked embarrassed or truly spontaneous. Or, they were very carefully posed, often doing their best to look dignified. The photo was a big deal up to about 20 years ago, and especially earlier than that.

And, that's what I love about them. The odd framing, the trust in the friend or lover taking the photo that shines through, a certain reluctance at times that you can almost feel, the pride of a new TV or of the individual.

Cameras were not ubiquitous and the reactions of people to them are noticeably different to me. The subjects photographed that were not people, I can sense the photographer's excitement of whatever it was. And the details. All the amazing details of the past; the AM only radio, the rabbit ear antennas on the TV, the clothes, the cigarettes, the signs. All of it I can gaze at for hours.

Nothing wrong with snapshots today but they are different. I guess one day people will reflect on all our files of of every detail of our days we record now. Or maybe not. It might be boring to see so much information. Time will tell.

But luckily, the internet has brought me to more old snapshots than I could ever have picked up off the streets. And for that, I am grateful.

FV

 

MUSIC: THIS IS AMERICA

This is the new music video release from rapper Childish Gambino aka Renaissance man Donald Glover. A pretty amazing work of art. The song independent of the visuals is very good but together, but with the visuals, it has an impact I haven't seen for quite a few years in a music video.

Like any challenging work of art, this is complex, controversial and open to a plethora of interpretations. Filled with metaphors flying every which way, wild hypnotic dancing and an infectious groove, it's impossible to soak in what has been created with just one view.

Now remember, Glover is an actor as well (among other things) and is in Disney's new addition to the Star Wars franchise, "Solo: A Star Wars Story" a blockbuster family movie due to be released next week. And Glover chose to have this represent himself to a curious public not familiar with him if they Google him.

Fucking brilliant.

Dig it. Meditate on it. Feel it. Discuss it.

FV

 

MUSIC - DAX RIGGS

This was the first album I heard by Dax Riggs, in fact, the first I'd heard of him. Full of short tunes, with beautifully dark lyrics and sung with Riggs' from the gut vocals that convince he means what he sings, "We Sing Of Only Blood Or Love" is one of my all time favorites.

The friend who introduced me to this turned me on to previous bands Riggs has been in; 'Deadboy & the Elephantmen', 'Agents of Oblivion' and 'Acid Bath'. The music in those other projects varies from similar to what you hear on this record to heavy / thrashy / sludge stuff. I'm a big fan of all the stuff he's been associated with.

Don't know what he's up to lately. I've searched around but can't find much info. His website doesn't offer much current info at all and Google news searches don't come up with much either. As a guy who's pretty great and I think deliberately remained an underground / cult legend, maybe he said fuck it and got a job or something. Email me if you know anything. Otherwise, enjoy whats out there.

FV

 

PORN FROM THE PAST

Paula Pritchett, Playboy, 1972.

I guess I'm getting old. I look at porn as much as the next person and don't enjoy much of it anymore. There's not much to it and seems pretty misogynistic from my vantage point. It doesn't carry anything fun or subversive either. Like a lot of things now, it's easy and cheap for people to produce and leaves me with a stale taste.

That's not to say there isn't good stuff out there. I can't think of anything off the top of my head but, I see some quality erotica on Tumblr and some sites when I'm surfing around. But when I find old pics like this I get real nostalgic. A beautiful woman, all natural, admittedly a goofy set. However, that lends to the sexiness of the shot. It's fantasy land and you know it. There's a lot to be left for the imagination.

As I said, I think I'm getting old...but I also think I'm right.

FV

 

REMEMBERING MCA

photographer unknown

With all the drama surrounding Kanye West this week, we shouldn't forget May 4th marks the 6th anniversary a real hip hop legend was taken from us; MCA of the Beastie Boys. Sounds corny, but his passing hit me so hard at the time.

I remember when the Beasties hit the scene and thinking they were funny as fuck. They really had it all and fit in seamlessly with hip hop as it was just getting going. Then "Paul's Boutique" came out and flipped my mind. That album was so ahead of it's time that a lot of cats were like, "Where'd those crazy party fools go?" and didn't get it till years later.

They went on to influence music videos, culture, political awareness and like many fans, I was with them for the whole ride. I don't know why but MCA always was my favorite of those guys (kind of silly to say). But his rhymes, his voice, his involvement with Tibetan situation and his growth as an artist and public figure really made me vibe with him.

So, when he passed, and being around the same age as me, it was like a kick to the stomach. I felt like I lost a brother and that the world lost a voice that still had so much to say and offer. A true original. I'm glad we still have all the records and videos to watch, but damn, I still miss that brother. Much love and respect my man!

FV