It was a simple life. They would lower him down into a long thin hole in the ground. The hole was slightly askew to one side instead of a mere drop straight down. They had a machine made of ropes and pulleys–mostly old re-fixed ropes and pulleys but it worked. He stood on a wooden platform with a square piece of carpet on top of it. Creak-creak creak –the little pulley wheels moaned. Down he went. He would go down past the grass and lower into the roots and soil. Then he would play his small guitar down in the hole in the ground with the ropes and pulleys. I don’t recall the man’s birth name (his given Christian name.)
When he began it sounded most glorious– the rising notes of sunshine out of the dark ground. The sound and the singing would swirl out of the hole in the moist earth. It seemed as if little golden lights lofted out and up and into the air as the music began– fireflies in the still night. After a few songs they would lower fresh rolls and a jug of wine to the man–red wine and crusty bread. You could almost see him smile from up on the surface. This is what the man lived for.
They were in charge. They had originally dug the hole. They allowed him to come out at night for a few hours. They kept him on schedule- day after day. At the end of the day he was always very tired. Worn out from his playing and signing– they helped him out by the forearms. Pulled him to his feet.
No one knew why he allowed this to happen– the keeping of a man in a long thin hole. Perhaps it was a comfort he took from knowing what was going to happen and feeling good about the pattern of his day to day life. Perhaps he was too scared to say anything. Or perhaps, his love of song and wine and fresh bread was strong enough that playing in a long cool tube of brown dirt and soil was no problem for him at all– the golden air?
Whatever it was, it filled the surrounding town with beautiful music everyday during the nice hours. The flowers grew a little taller and the birds sang back with a little more vigor. The sunshine was a little more, well you know. The man in the ground is much older now and he keeps singing his hauntingly pretty songs.
(This little tale was written quickly as I listened to a finger-picking guitar song by Sam Beam.)
Posted in handmade signs, street folk
Tagged art, atlanta, blackcattips, brooks, decatur, folk art, hand lettered, hand painted signs, signs, street art, street folk
Today I got an email from a man in northern Alabama. Several years ago I painted a guitar for a highschool friend. He asked me to paint something on it so I created an Electric Eel for an electric guitar. I think I remember him auctioning it off for a charity. I gave the eel painted instrument to him and haven’t seen it again, until today!
The man from Hunstville wrote me the following…
“I found this guitar for sale http://huntsville.craigslist.org/msg/4383317829.html and after a little googling found out you were the artist who painted it.
Unfortunately someone removed the bolts from the front, but I just wanted to drop a line and let you know I thought it was pretty rad.”
He had been looking for used guitars online and wanted this one. He and the owner couldnt agree on a price so he moved on. I am thankful he took the time to locate and email me.
Take a look here at the ad. The person that is trying to sell it doesnt think to highly of my artwork. Sad and funny all at once (like a lot of things in life.)
Take care of yourself ol’ eel. Maybe we will meet again one day.
A cup of hot coffee on a gray and rainy morning where I as a “non-standard” have no where to be until later in the day. A friend once called me a “day person“. I put my orchids out for some of this spring rain. We heard thunder clap this morning– first in along time. Snow always surprises and so does the first boom of thunder after many months of complacency and silence in the sky. I AM ALIVE! The sky thunders into your window. Please wash away the yellow powder called pollen. The birds still sing.
I sip black coffee in a glass cup made for hot tea. I used to have strong coffee with a friend that lives on Ora Avenue. We would drink out of glass cups and I always liked that. He would have red eyes and I would tell stories.
I have been collecting signs that clutter up intersections in less than fancy areas of town. — Cash for junk cars. Who’s yo daddy DNA testing. Investment property. Get more tax return money for. – I have been making art pieces with them. At some point I will put the out around town. Yes, perhaps I’m no better than the original sign hangers but mine renditions are making people think with another part of their mind.
I often think about what I read a while ago about “parts of the day.” A great artist named Giant was interviewed about his beliefs and work. I remember one thing he said — part of the day is for working and part for cooking part for thinking and meditating and part just “for being.” I like that. Just sit as an intelligent animal with a mind and soul and just be.
See you next time. (Will there be more thunder?)
I got up early today. Maria had some last minute edits for the book we have been working on. I got up and started painting signs– coffee drinking and toast making and sunrise watching. The turn of spring is well under way with leaves a burstin’ and pollen on all surfaces. In case you don’t know, pollen in Atlanta is a major happening every year. It looks like a yellow sulfur volcano spewed ash all over the land (minus the rotten egg smell.)
I have not been sleeping too well. I grit my teeth at night. I had a dream that my front teeth folded half way down like a bent fingernail. Still makes me sick to recall it. So I wake up with headaches and regret and stress from yesterday. I like to sing. All my healthy eating is negated by the bad thoughts in my brain. I know it is true but I can’t stop it– water flowing through a net. Should I just eat twinkies and little orange peanut butter crackers and pepsi cola and be calm? No.
So, as I said, I have been making a new round of signs. I want to do some talking. I want to be heard (the best way is with paint.) I paint slats and collected signs and scrap wood I get for free at Lowes. I made a sign for a couple friends at a local restaraunt and hung it up yesterday. They are nice to me.
I got a little spooked on my new ladder. There was too much shaking going on. Maria told me I just forgot what it was like. She is usually right. Either way, it was swinging and swaying. People were looking over my shoulder. Well talk ain’t cheap and I suppose you must pay a price to be heard. A shakey-shake ladder and 12 dollars of paint supplies and slats was mine.
Be fresh and breathe deep.
Posted in hand painted signs, street folk
Tagged art, atlanta, blackcattips, brooks, hand painted, painting, signs, street art, street folk, street poems
I have many good things around me. The weather is turning milder. Spring is on the way. I have several good friends I see from time to time. 2014 has brought me a pleasant and sweet wife. My dog has a crude haircut. Things are good.
On the other hand I am having a lot of issues. A lot of spider webs inside of my mind. I am having troubles navigating through to the light. Lately it is a struggle to get through the day. Among other things, I have developed anger issues.
Five weeks ago I was in Puerto Rico and I had the chance to snorkel. I thought I knew how but I realized I did not. Maria is a great swimmer and gave me some tips. For me it was difficult until I realized that I need to completely relax. I needed to completely fill and empty my lungs with deep extended breathes. Full lungs of air kept me afloat like a balloon and above the treacherous urchins (fear). When I learned this I could suddenly fly and soar through the water. It was then easy and enjoyable. We swam on the northwest coast of Puerto Rico over countless fish. We saw a whale in the same water an hour later. It was one of the best times of my life.
Perhaps my current pain and struggles could be resolved in a similar way. Perhaps I need a meditative exchange of mental breathe to keep me afloat over the urchins I encounter from day to day. Easier said than done but I can learn. I would like to try. I want to float above the petty troubles of yesterday. I want to snorkel to tomorrow.
During the last few weeks I have been painting a book cover as well as illustrations through out. Maria did the complete book design. I can’t wait until the first printing is ready. It has been great working together. More soon on this project.
I will work as Spring brings nice weather. I will be thankful for those around me that help me. I will breathe a little more–a little deeper. I will take time to be glad and thoughful. I will watch nature be reborn. I will breathe.
Sometimes a few little lines do the trick. Share the sentiment. Relay the message. I ♥ u so much. kiss kiss. Sometimes there is too much clutter and chatter. Shut the thoughts off please. Perhaps I could work in a labor farm to give me time to think–time to get my mind “right” as they say. In the meantime we should be kind to those around us. Cotton textures. Sun on my back and arms. Manna from heaven. Soft smile down on me.
I went to Puerto Rico. I got married. It was a beautiful time with family and friends. Now I have a wonderful and lovely bride. Yes it is true. I have to keep reminding myself it really happened.
I saw lizards and fish– birds that were new to me and jungle thick. I met local folks spreading their passion for food and love and flowers. I saw roadside chickens and horses– dirty happy dogs and fruit on the tree. I ate the best food I ever had in some of the most unlikely locales.
We climbed the mountains and walked into a cave- floated through the mangroves and saw underwater gardens. The green land and the happy people and the warm sun was good for my soul.
We have one life to grow (a reminder to myself).
The following came to me in a blast– the quiet lightning. I wrote it down quickly after seeing a photo made to look like a western plains town in the 1950′s. I also was influenced by the new Damien Jurado album Brothers and Sisters of the Eternal Son as well as the Felix Baumgartner skydive record jump.
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The lady had silver blonde hair. The man had grown gaunt over the last 8 months–the night shakes-the silent screams. That’s how long it had been since i saw both of them–he with his high waist dark pants–jeans I believe. Her with her west texas free-style curls and that blasted patched vest.
The scrub brush was rough and only soft from a distance. Kind of like harsh words sometimes can soften over time–from a distance. Through the hazy mid-morning sun i saw the little town. It looked like something out of 50′s post war americana. The dinner and the TV show and all the proper dress. pleasant from a distance. No one smelled poorly or caused too much grief. All said yes ma’am and held the door for the next, even if a little too far behind. Everyone paid their taxes– their “fair share” they liked to quote.
I on the other hand was a couple miles out of town behind Waymore’s Butte– Chester County West Texas. I was cold and I had cut both legs up pretty bad on my escape. They had tied me to the bed in that unused room.
I knew if I jumped it would kill me but I was still considering it. They would never catch me. If they didn’t it wouldn’t be pretty. I wasn’t going to take it anymore.
The man and the woman and the silver curls. The dusty existence I was growing too found of. Always wanting a hot drink but getting none. White cups on the counter. Some of them stacked three high. The coyotes night call–stars.
I should have called her back. I was only going to be gone a little while, but they got in my way. They made me see red. When he left the silver balloon there was no sound. Only a cold unbreathable static.
I cover my face for a few minutes with my hand. Breathe out. Stars again. I see two large eyes in the sky. They rarely blink. They only stare down at me– mostly kind. Translucent and bizarrely immense.
I always see the eyes. The eyes that take you home.
Posted in writing
Tagged art, atlanta, blackcattips, brooks, Brothers and Sisters of the Eternal Son, butte, Felix Baumgartner, illustration, jurado, silver balloon, waymores
As I ride south I watch an old black sign. I ride by time after time. Something was painted over. It sits blank for months–maybe years. Leaves blow by on the cold wind.
I wanted it to speak again–life on a dormant sign. Cats come back. We miss you. I forgot the crazy things you said. I pick up the phone and call. Come back. It is time to make a Cat Call.