Friday, March 27, 2009

Deep South, FL

Looking at this image of the Dade County flag should remind us all of another familiar and much maligned flag, the symbol of the confederate south.

Love it or leave it. These good-ol-boys will take their groves off and knock you silly if you tread on their beloved flag ... or suggest that baseball is another symbol of a past gone by.

Like a steamed bun, this antique baseball glove is also like a bagel, they never go bad.

These good-ol-boys know that somethings old can be new again... and very motivating.

Here in the deep swamp, the county commission has approved a multi-million dollar baseball stadium without public approval at a time when tax dollars are evaporating. The string of events that have brought us to this moment are twisted and nail-biting.

At the bottom of the ninth, this mega-construction project is not about baseball at all but about the money... how to roll with it. The officials wipe their collective smiles with our dwindling resources.

They plan on paying us back with sales of Marlin memorabilia like these shower cap thingies.

But we all know what gets people out to the ball game most...

Just the same, do not be surprised if this is the typical attendance for a game at the new stadium.

Where is Norman Brahman when you need him.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Failing Upwards

The "pyramid scheme" applied to the wall... fabulously.

As an "artists artist" I am deep into the fine art world/industry and all the who-haw that goes with it. As a parent of an aspiring young artist, I try to provide good mentoring and council for tomorrows pool of talent. Though jobs in the arts may be scarce, it is important to keep a sunny disposition. There is no shortage of talent out there. But it becomes increasingly difficult when the art establishment is permeated with people who honestly convince themselves that certain seasoned art is more valid than students' work. With little to loose, let us step on some big toes.

Entry level art school... or celebrated blue-chip?
You be the judge, jury and executioner.

Student art project... or five digit auction thing-a-majig?
A perfect WTF moment.

Best in show... or just another WTF throw-up?
Be nice to fragile youngsters when critiquing .

If you 'scrabble' these letters... they might spell out "Big Yawn" with W T and F left over.

This is actually a very nice painting. Please make more of same.

And now for the moment of truth, the revelation that comes as no surprise.
All the above is the work of Richard Tuttle. I'm sure he is a perfectly nice person, but given the critical acclaim reserved for the very best and brightest, Tuttle has one more thing to master. The ability to command an audience with words, the art of orality.

The artist/corporate hybrid look is WTF fashion-perfect. Love the artzy types, but do not have sex with anyone over 40 that is dressed like that.

Here in the Miami the swamp is muddied with a multicolored flatness that is Britto art in public places. Our 'common folk' are not supposed to understand the presumed seriousness of Tuttle-esque artwork, but their tax dollars continue to fund local public arts institutions like MAM. Go figure.


Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Lilt of the Irish

Absinthe Makes the Heart Grow Fondler
There was an old fellow from Trinity,
A doctor well versed in Divinity,
But he took to free thinking,
And then to deep drinking,
And was forced to leave the vicinity.

Trouble in Paradise
God's plan made a hopeful beginning,
But men spoiled his chances by sinning,
W"e trust that this story,
Will end in god's glory,
But, at present, the other side's winning.

Rush's Approval
There once was a lass with such graces,
That her curves cried aloud for embraces,
"You look," said Limbaugh,
"Like a million to me,
Invested in all the right places."

Teen-aged Mollie was a nice enough girl but, to her father's annoyance, she was something of a gossip. One morning, at breakfast, she startled her father with a bit of neighborhood news.
"Daddy, those new people who just moved in next door are secret drinkers" she revealed.
Mollei's father glared. "Young lady,"he snapped, " how many times must I tell you not to repeat rumors, and stick to the facts."
"But, Daddy, " Mollie protested, "it's a fact that rumors are flying!"

A Happy Saint Patrick's Day from the green swampthing.


Friday, March 13, 2009

Spiral Saving Time

I used to take life "one day at a time" but lately time feels more like a spiraling continuum of numbered adventures. As the information age speeds things up to a dizzying frenzy, the world as we know it leases many numb with the overwhelming dribble of stuff that matters little.

The long weekend, destination Galapagos.

If we hearken back to a time and place where nature prevailed, the keen observers will tell you that life on earth, indeed the entire physical universe as we know it works in a circular model. This is to say nothing is waisted. All things perish and become nourishment for new life. Be it in a day or millennium the operative word is continuum.

Venus Why Trap, about to swallow.

The material world is not always kind to humans; it is inhospitable and downright menacing. But we have managed to convince ourselves that the epic balance is to be tilted in our favor, with contempt and arrogance we profess our dominance, nature be dammed.

Ussef Yesterday, Tom Today and Terry Tomorrow.

We build a world from scratch that suits our immediate needs and call it progress. All be it with good intentions we stumble along with the grind of desperation to get beyond survival.
The conquest of nature is unattainable.

Where the rubber meets the permafrost.

Problem is the progress we have made is linear. It is based on a one directional course, a path that is inconsistent with the big laws of time and space. We are stewing in a growth model that is unsustainable, a world built on the decay of dinosaurs. A once perfect world we have sullied and laced with lethal radioactive plutonium. With cars, computers and callousness, we are poisoning the very systems that sustain us.


For the few fortunates it would appear that we have arrived at that magical place where we prevail over nature. Technology is evolving in leaps and bounds. At some point (we've arrived) flesh mortals will become expendable. The information age will usher in a new kind of ice age... a heartless re-chargeable world revolving on our ashes.


Monday, March 9, 2009

The Loosers Club

First an apology goes out to my readers for the lack of fresh posts lately here at swampstyle.
It is not that the mojo is gone or that i am out of ideas, it is that sometimes a hobby must take a back seat to work at the office and chores around the house. And no, this post is not about bloggers or average menches or about people who go to casinos or watch allot of hi-def TV.

It is about owning a house.

Florida Guaranteed... to get tented for termites.

Not to go too far into the background but I was born in Cuba to a family that owned not only their homes in town but also rural land farms as far as the eye could see. Then the Castro revolution appropriated every bit of private property in the name of progress. Think one giant island land-grab ,foreclosurestyle, at gun-point with no course for reparation. The houses and acres are still there but my family dynasty is mostly evaporated.

The littlest day laborer... I think wee can.

Consequently I grew up in miami swamp-poor with diminished expectations of what I could attain in adulthood from the prospects of the american dream. For too many the much touted dream has become in reality a ball-n-chain of consumerism and a life of hard work just to stay afloat. Consider that natural law will often prevail as our founding fathers knew very well that the enshrined "pursuit of happiness" is directly proportionate to owning a piece of the pie. The reason land is called "real estate" is simply that it is physically real as in the dirt beneath your feet is real.

After Andrew... building the garage to code (aka "the bank vault").

"The ownership society" is now a debunked republican catch-phrase-con-job that has in fact become a nightmare of insurmountable hurdles, obstacles and tribulations that has brought record-setting foreclosures with no bottom in sight. The greed and deceit of a few have drained our community of vitality and hope, thanks in no small part to the very de-regulated institutions that were entrusted to facilitate that dream. The banks, with the help of the real estate industry, own just about everything from Key West to Alaska. On the street where i live in Surfside there are four houses unoccupied and in disrepair bought by flippin' flippers at the height of the housing bubble. I guess people get what they deserve.

After Wilma... if a tree falls on your neighbors house, who clears the mess?

But the focus of this post is not about the housing market hardships we face as a nation. It is about the "bricks n mortar" of owning a house on a lot in a suburban setting in a town that is in fact an urban jungle. Homeowners know what i am talking about. Some homes are relatively low maintenance while others are constant piles of repairs and chores. Sooner or later every house will need work. When it comes to home improvements there is never an end in sight and you'd swear it was a conspiracy by Bob Vella, HGTV and Home Cheapo.

Dirty Jobs... some schmuk will do it.

The housing gods must have been looking down on us because, while renting, we happened upon a very nice old neighbor who was ready to sell at a very reasonable price. Without an ounce of haggling we stuck a deal, were able to get a loan when the banks were acting responsible, and soon joined the Loosers' Club.

With an ear to the ground and a critical eye on the abuses and blunders of the past eight years of Bushanomics, we saw dark days ahead and were somehow able to pay of the mortgage, cancel the Citizen's insurance legalized extortion and are now able save to send the kid to college.

The Bees are Back... thank gawd they aren't africanized!

I call it the Loosers' Club endearingly because, though owning a home may be an added responsibility, it is still worth working for. It is what most people want. With a measure of realistic skepticism and fiscal restraint, the ownership society is actually a good idea.

Home-wrecker / Re-builder... loose some battles, win the war.

When talking to young adults about their dreams and ambitions there is a sense of lowered expectations for living accommodations in a world that is increasingly demanding and downright inhospitable. If you are looking to change your primary residence, it is a renters paradise out there. Or do as Bob Hope and Johnny Carson used to say, "Go where the houses stop, and start buying".

Maybe the sweet bees have the right idea... build more waxy condos.