and get them delivered right to your door!
For Christmas giving buy Ole Blu t shirts for the whole family online at:
and get them delivered right to your door!
If you want a new perspective on life – just come to Newfoundland and sit on the edge of a jagged edged cliff four hundred feet above the vast expanse of the North Atlantic and feel the magnetic pull of thrashing waves of waves. Once you recover from the ensuing vertigo and swallow a reeling nausea threatening the back of your throat - breathe in some of the purest air on the planet and thanks be to Jesus make it back to solid ground even if it means crawling on your belly like a snail through the ground cover roses and stinging nettles.
Welcome to Newfoundland - it’s not for the sooky of heart- but I think it’s paradise. Once you regain your equilibrium, think back on that tantrum you had last week – you know the one where you spazzed out like a Roomba on a cleaning binge, cursing and flapping your way through the house looking for your dead cell phone. These daily trials lose their potency in an elemental landscape of rock, water and wind - where death by drowning lurks in every cove and harbour. No wonder Newfoundlanders have a keen sense of humour - a necessary survival skill even for us machines. Newfoundlanders have a long history of rescuing the shipwrecked, disenfranchised and rerouted. They are Ole Blu’s kinda people. Always ready to lend a hand.
Take for instance the last trip we made to Montreal and back to Newfoundland. I was dragging a 22 foot fully loaded trailer. When I say drag let me emphasize the 60’s sense of the word. These trailers are a pain in the differential. And frankly they’re dumb as shit. No breaks. No steering. No engine. The only thing they have going for them is wheels. Anyway I’m 3 kilometers, a little over a mile away from home when the lug nuts on one of the trailer wheels shears off and the tire bounces merrily into the forest, free at last from its dumb burden. G goes hunting for the runaway tire, trashing around the woods like Dr. Livingstone, I presume, but the tire when found is useless – we have no extra lug nuts and the hub is affixed to the wheel.
We’ve managed to stop a few yards from a dirt driveway but I’d have to make a tight corner pulling a one-wheeled trailer. Buddy (that’s Newfoundlandese for man) comes running out of his house and kindly offers to help - volunteers his driveway for our use. G tries dragging the trailer onto the driveway. Oops! Did I say G? It’s yours truly being torn apart like a torture rack victim - spitting up dust and getting nowhere. Then another buddy on his way home from work pulls over when he sees we’re having a breakdown party. He uses his truck to push the trailer more in line with the driveway. Then he drives home to get an extra wheel he has kicking around and sure enough it fits that no good trailer perfectly. That’s Newfoundland for you – full of down home human made miracles. Despite all kinds of hardship they’ve been surviving on The Rock for generations not just on cod & potatoes, but music, art, storytelling and bigheartedness.
If you ask me (it's surprising how many people talk to their vehicles more than their own kind) bigheartedness is a way to combat corporate greedypocketness. As citizens (and I consider myself one despite my lack of suffrage) it’s our responsibility to help corporations with their greed problem. One way to do this is to buy from small business and I don’t mean just lettuce. Support your local artists and artisans! Instead of acquiring that celebrity t shirt show your individuality and buy from a small entrepreneur artist. Lulu and Ole Blu have decided to join forces with the growing movement to relieve the corporation of some of its bad karma. Our part is small but we have to start somewhere. I hereby announce the opening of my new product line – Ole Blu’s General Store where you can buy Ole Blu tshirts on line . Check it out at http://www.cafepress.com/oleblusgeneralstore
I was recently featured on the program Corvairwild on Youtube (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GFM4h6lW0DE&list=UUbfAlp8HDkf3a-lliQ9KD3w&index=1). Corvairwild, as the name suggests, is crazy for Chevys and in particular Chevy trucks. He drives around the United States sniffing around for Chevys and filming and commenting on them, following some of those Chevys all the way to the junkyard. When he spotted Ole Blu here, driving down the highway he almost blew a gasket. That a pickup of my age was still a road warrior gave him no end of delight. That didn’t stop him from giving me a good going over however. Corvairwild caught up with G and myself at a gaz'n'coffee place ( or coffee'n'gas - I'm not quite sure how that goes). He examined every inch of my body like a monkey looking for nits, plucking bungee cords and zooming in with his camera on my rusty parts. He had me going there for a while but Ole Blu here, has a lot of road experience and no young gasser is gonna get my radiator a’ boiling. How would he like it if I exposed his more unsightly parts on YouTube?
Corvairwild said the last time he’d seen a custom Chevy like me was in the junkyard. Hmmph! He don’t know the half of it. It’s not everyone who could drive Ole Blu here. I’m no Land Rovering, hot air up your butt blowing, luxury vehicle. You gotta have chutzpah and imagination to keep Ole Blu going. But isn’t that what you need in an architect? I guess G could be floating down the highway in a Dodge Ram but I’ve seen rich middle-aged white ladies driving those things down in Florida. And I gotta tell you – this architect is passionate. It gives him no end of joy to hobble along - the tinker architect, making friends along the way, up to his ears in
sunflower seeds and problem solving - imagining his life. The way we travel up and down the eastern seaboard I sometimes feel like even I'm a filament of his creative chemtrails. In a year I'll be 50 - that's a hundred in human years. I'm a living example that repurposing works - or in my case G repurposely makes me work. Either way the proof is in the puttering. G and I have traveled 25,000 miles in the last 2 years and most of those miles hauling a trailer.
It all started in 2011, in Newfoundland when G found out we had to breakdown our studio at Bakehouse Art Complex, all the way down in Miami in one week or they were going to lock us out. Now Ole Blu here is a sensitive soul. Maybe I don’t wear my heart on my fender but this kind of attitude confounds me. I feel like true artists should be treated like almost (and that's a big almost) saints. Bakehouse Art Complex is complex - that’s for sure. The pressure of the situation was bound to express itself in my anatomy. I’d been gimping along in Newfoundland on some of the medicine that they gave me at Leroy’s garage in Pouch Cove. Although the mechanics did their best - they're not god - and the puttering turned to stuttering. We limped into Fayetteville, North Carolina blowing white smoke. I’d finally blown that gasket. So I stayed on at Johnny’s where they did some reconstructive surgery on my engine while G in a SUV rental hurtled down to Miami with the deadline 3 days away. Thankfully G was able to pick up the ever patient and inimitable Miss Lena Falcon (blog post: New Year's Revelation) and a trailer. He could now dismantle the modular system he'd used to build our art space at The Bakehouse.
Our outdoor space at the Bakehouse. There's a freezer door on wheels,
recycled steel and bottle panels and Miss Lena Falcon on the big screen .
Now if you ask me that G is an interesting architect-builder. He likes to carve out a space using available materials whether they’re organic or human made. Speaking of organic – the whole idea about building ‘green’ really confuses me . Why don’t they just stop manufacturing so much and use more of what’s available in the built environment? Repurposing I think they call it. Anyway – that’s what G did when he reconfigured the Bakehouse components as a Show & Tell Archi-shack for the Safety Harbor Art & Music Center fundraising event, HOLiDAZZLE.
If you’ll remember way back in 2011 (blog post: Lincoln Road Mall & Safety Harbor ) crafty entrepreneurs extraordinaire Todd Ramquist and Kiaralinda, were trying to raise funds to build SHAMc
They won a contest with Pepsi worth 50,000 dollars. Because of the power voting codes in the Pepsi caps, they had thousands of plastic bottles stacking up. Todd and Kiaralinda and their gang of merry repurposers dreamed up HOLiDAZZLE, a Christmas art garden made of old wire hangers, bottle caps, plastic bottles, flower pots, aluminum cans all lit up and with enough music, dance and interactive fun to get this old truck's wings a'spinning . Thankfully my engine surgery was a success and I’d been released in time to make the event ‘cause what’s a party without Ole Blu? Stayed tuned for my next post when I continue the saga of The Great Epic Move North.
Fresh Fruit & Architecture's archi-shack at the HOLiDAZZLE SHAMc fundraiser, Christmas 2012.
The cowboy mural is by Montreal's notorious graffiti artist - Omen.
‘Mount Real’ is the handle English Montrealers give to their beloved, sometimes taxing (and I don’t mean government taxing – 'cause that’s not sometimes – that’s all the time) city. Lulu keeps a permanent studio in Montreal’s Mile End, a trendy, bohemian neighbourhood of young families, artists. hipsters and Hasidic Jews, with plenty of fabulous cafés and restaurants. Lulu’s studio is hidden deep within the urban jungle, down a mural covered alleyway, past the graffitied trucks and loading docks and butt up against the train tracks.
Lulu's Mount Real studio.
The studio that Lulu shares with 5 other people has no running hot water, intermittent heat and boasts a certain bombed out chic. Stylin’ as that may be, in the dead of January you can feel the north wind blowing in through the cracks in the windows and pushing the heat up through the holes in the ceiling. When I say ‘bombed out’ I’m also referring to the furnace that turns on haphazardly, sending shock waves through out the building as pipes clang and radiators pop with steam. Lulu loves this studio. Several times a week she has live accompaniment with her painting sessions. Next door there is a flamenco dance school and the power coming from 20 women stomping to gypsy music sets Lulu’s resolve afire and her feet a tapping. While the classes practice mostly to recorded music sometimes there’s a live band. The raw emotion of a soulful female singer together with a guitar’s heart throbbing percussion makes Lulu blush with longing. On her way to the washroom she walks past the open doorway of the dance studio and a wave of human heat briefly warms her bones. She loves to peak inside to see the dancers tricked up in gypsy regalia for a dress rehearsal.
Mount Real train tracks - playground for the neighbourhood kids.
As many of you know, I’ve been up and down the northeast corridor of the United States a number of times. One of my favorite pastimes is driving in tandem with the trains that chug along the tracks next to the highway. Trains are the sound of travel, of miles and parcels of fields and forest clacking by like a second hand on a clock. The trains that go past Lulu’s studio are infrequent but each time one passes, Lulu’s heart skips a beat thinking about distant places and future excursions.
Lulu likes to walk along the tracks on her breaks. This past autumn she became obsessed with laying pennies on the tracks and then going to collect the flattened ones after the train went by. She calls it ‘urban farming’. I have yet to ask her if those flattened pennies are organic and gluten free. Ha!
One of Lulu’s projects in Montreal is called ‘Home Portraits’. These are custom made portraits capturing the spirit and nostalgia of home – at least that’s what it says on her website. When I first saw this I thought - that Lulu sure knows how to throw words together to make her art appealing. But then I saw the portraits and it made me feel kinda funny, like my tires got all mushy and my fenders began to sag. I was thinking of all the places I once called home and wished I had one of Lulu’s portraits to remember them by.
Still Ole Blu here is doing better than ever. I’m still going strong! Running down the road from Newfoundland to Montreal and on to Safety Harbor, Florida. I don’t know if you folks know it – but I’m getting to be quite the famous road star. You can check me out on youtube at : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GFM4h6lW0DE&list=UUbfAlp8HDkf3a-lliQ9KD3w&index=1
Ole Blu and an Istanbul cat.
Our intrepid artist Lulu is hypersensitive to her environment. I’ve seen her do a great impersonation of Linda Blair in The Exorcist when her surroundings don’t agree with her. She is particularly allergic to environments with a high pretension quotient, an unfortunate mainstay of the art world. Marcel Duchamp said that in the future all the real artists would be found underground and in fact that’s where most of the time you’ll find Lulu who’s had a lot of fun mounting shows in unconventional places: from abandoned buildings to churches and parking lots. If Lulu’s going to have her work shown in a gallery (which she does) she’s going to make sure the gallery owner is a human being. This isn’t as easy as it sounds as the art world is dominated by big business. The debt crisis combined with shaky financial markets has provoked investors to fall back on art as a value shelter. Lulu believes art should be for everyone, not just the elite and she desperately needs to connect with real people, by that I mean human beings of the warm and deep thinking variety. People who have a sense of humour and empathy. People who know how to have fun. These people are essential to her work and her well-being.
Lulu teaches the junk worskshop.
That’s why Lulu was lucky to have landed at Halka Art Project in Istanbul. The people who take care of this artist residency personify Turkish hospitality. There’s nothing they won’t do to make their artists happy and they do it all without corporate or government funding – that’s how devoted they are to art. When Lulu mentioned she wanted to teach a junk workshop, Halka took care of it. Of course the word ‘junk’ needed some explaining. And maybe the Halka volunteers were a little flummoxed and embarrassed when they had to go rooting around like rats in garbage cans for material for the workshop (by the way rats are a rare sight in Istanbul where the street cats and dogs manage the vermin population – an idea worth disseminating). But in the end the workshop was a grand success.
The Halka crew at Lulu's opening.
The Halka Art Project takes art management very seriously but Lulu’s never seen people having so much fun doing it. The Halka crew whose membership varies between 9 to 12 people meets up at least twice a week to discuss future art projects and improvements to the artist residency. Lulu was very curious about these meetings (if you can call them that – there was so much laughing, smoking and drinking going on) especially as she understands very little Turkish. But she knew they always yielded a surprising amount of activity proving the Halka crew was not only talkers – they were doers.
Maquette street parade - Lulu's installation at Kabine Nadire.
And when Lulu wanted to have a show Halka set her up in a local gallery, Kabine Nadire , which is affiliated with the residency. Lulu had no preconceived ideas of what kind of art she was going to do during her 3 month stay in Istanbul. One day she passed an antique bookstore in Sultanahmet , Istanbul’s old city, that showed a Persian miniature in it’s window and a light went on in her head. She’d loved Asian miniatures for years but in the crush of other projects had entirely forgotten about them. She had 5 weeks to produce a show. The result was “Pages from the Book of Istanbul”. Lulu appropriated 16th century Islamic miniature illuminations (once available only to the aristocracy) to form a new paradigm in which contemporary Istanbul life and it’s long history of contradictions between East and West are celebrated by everyday Turkish people. The show featured 6 collages, the original charcoal studies for the collages and an installation of the drawings blown up and assembled as a maquette street parade to fit the gallery's showcase window.
For more on 'Pages from the Book of Istanbul" please click on http://www.louisemarkus.com/pages-from-the-book-of-istanbul.html
For the next 2 months Lulu is in Montreal. Amongst her other projects (namely Home Portraits - to see these click on http://www.louisemarkus.com/home-portraits.html ) Lulu is mounting a revamped “Pages from the Book of Istanbul” to show people at her friend Maria Modicamore’s artful café, La Lumiere du Mile End. Drop on by if you’re in Montreal. The opening is on Saturday, October 13 at Lumiere du Mile End, 214 Bernard St. West,
7 – 10 pm. The show is up from Oct. 13 to Nov. 6, 11 am – 8 pm.
Ole Blu imagines he's in Istanbul.
Lulu had no idea what to expect from Istanbul. When she told people she was going there to live and work for 3 months she was bombarded with opinions. Her artist friends in San Francisco were jazzed and wanted to go too. Her family in Montreal issued warnings about Moslem countries and appropriate dress and behaviour. Muslims don’t drink alcohol, they said. Don’t accept any hashish – remember the movie ‘Midnight Express’! The Turkey Travel Planner website recommended being reserved, meaning: no smiling at men. At the same time she was reading Orhan Pamuk’s “Istanbul: Memories and the City” which describes an Istanbul more European assimilated than Mideast Moslem. A city marked by its special brand of Turkish sadness or hüzün. Lulu had visions of an Istanbul littered with the human and architectural detritus of an ancient Empire, a kind of Rome after the fall, dancing in her head. No doubt imagination is the driving force for any artist but if you ask a gas guzzling road veteran of 27 years such as myself, when it comes to travel - there’s no substitute for experience.
View of Istanbul from the Princes' Islands.
And so Lulu, our intrepid nomad artist packed up her studio, a modest wardrobe of longer skirts and higher necklines and a bag full of health supplements to leap into the unknown of a Turkish art adventure. She was expected by the Halka Art Project, an artist residency located on the Asian side of Istanbul in the neighbourhood of Kadikoy. Lulu had chosen Halka because the directors were Turkish (rather than expat) and would provide her with a studio and venues for teaching a workshop and mounting a show.
Artist residencies are like reality TV shows where random people are thrown together to live in a house to see if they can get along despite their elevated sense of themselves or floundering egos. Lulu can get along pretty well with anyone as long as they know how to have a good time. She was lucky to have Aleksandra Farazin from Slovenia as her residency mate. Aleksandra had a few Turkish friends and within a week of her arrival Orkun Aytar invited Lulu and Aleksandra to a Tasavvuf (Sufi or spiritual Islamic music) concert in Taksim on the European side of Istanbul. And so in the minaret lit, blue dusk of an Istanbullu evening they hopped onto a ferry, wide-eyed and breathless to glide across the Bosphorus Strait.
Istanbul's soccer fans.
As it happened, a championship soccer match between two Istanbul teams: Fenerbahçe and Galatasaray was playing that night. In Turkey soccer tends to be a political sport with teams representing certain ideologies. By the time they reached Taksim the streets were exploding with drunken, ranting fans, a scene that made hockey night in Montreal look like a prayer meeting. Lulu held on to Aleksandra for dear life.
The Sufizen concert.
She was grateful when they arrived at the concert venue and entered what felt like a sacred space. The concert was called “Sufizen”; a kind of jam session of Turkish and Indian spiritual music. Lulu surrendered to the transcendent melodies of the ney, a Turkish wind instrument that has been in use for 5,000 years. She felt the cleansing and healing power of the music filling her soul. A wave of tears welled up inside her. Here finally was the Istanbul she’d imagined: an ancient city steeped in unfathomable mystery and beauty. As the concert ended, Lulu was struck by the ney player’s gesture of reverently clutching his heart in response to the audience’s applause. She stumbled back onto the streets, dazed and speechless.
Although the crowds had dissipated there was still partying going on. People danced around makeshift bonfires all along Istiklal Caddesi, the main drag. She trailed after Orkun and Aleksandra as they bought some beer and walked to the Galata tower to drink. Finally, at about 4 in the morning they piled into the back of a dolmuş (shared taxi) to return to the artist residency. It was a relatively cool night in Istanbul but the man sitting in front of her had his head out the window. As the taxi picked up speed, Lulu, who is always quick to chill, wondered if she couldn’t get him to close his window when she realized the man was suffering from an overdose of alcohol. The speed of the taxi forced his vomit to splatter across her window leaving her (besides nauseous) grateful that her window was closed. Ha! Welcome to Istanbul, Lulu, city of contradictions. In the space of a few hours she had gone from the sublime to the gross and back round again. Gone were all her preconceived notions. A large segment of Istanbul women were attired in tight jeans and T-shirts. People were openly drinking in the streets, which despite the fact it was illegal never solicited reactions from the police. As for hüzün – she saw no signs of it. There are over 13 million people living in Istanbul and the streets are continually jammed packed with people celebrating life with food (an amazing and infinite amount of delicacies), drink, tobacco and talk. It was a joie de vivre both chaotic and profound. And Lulu couldn’t help but smile: at her own delusions, at the contradictions this crossroads of east and west provided, at the magic of that ancient place. And no one, least of all a man, attacked her for it.
A raki party at Halka Art Project.
Samuel Johnson said, ”The use of traveling is to regulate imagination by reality, and instead of thinking how things may be, to see them as they are.”
There’s more to come on the adventures of Lulu in Istanbul but Ole Blu here has got to hit the road. Catch you later!
San Francisco's ingenuity.
Lulu’s studio is in the Art Explosion building in San Francisco’s Mission District. Lulu loved it as soon as she saw the great big windows on either side of the studio and the funky apparatus overhead that was solving the leaky roof problem with plastic tarps and rubber hosing that emptied into the sink. Nobody does bohemia like San Francisco. Maybe that’s what happens when you’re sitting next to a fault line. Everything becomes acceptable and chaos is handled with humor and style.
Artists tend to like chaos, the friction needed to create. Lulu has been part of a lot of artistic communities and founded one herself: Roy Street Collective in Montreal back in the 2010’s. She’s uncomfortable when artist communities lose their souls because of power structures and money. She was once part of an artist community that was run by a board of directors. (Lulu has a hard time with authoritarianism in the art world - Montrealers are a seditious lot). She ended up graffitiing the toilet stalls in the woman’s bathroom in protest and getting kicked out. In her defense may I say she was only looking for some feedback - none of which was received – except that the director sent an email out to the artists saying how graffiti was illegal and that if they ever found out who did it – they’d sick the police on them. Well never mind, Lulu is on to better things at the 17th Street Art Explosion studios where the owners are very laissez-faire, no jury, no meetings and no directors. Funny thing is despite there being an open door policy the caliber of art is on a par with any juried art communities I’ve ever seen.
Lulu's studio at Art Explosion.
Lulu’s studio is in a part of Art Explosion the natives call “Shantytown”. There are approximately 40 open and exposed studios in Shantytown which means the artists have to trust and cooperate with each other concerning the volume of music, kitchen maintenance, dogs running around and having their stuff laying about for anyone to take. And it all works. No meetings, no petty emails, no bad vibes or pandering to the higher ups - there are no higher ups. It’s a beautiful society based on human values and loving kindness that pretty much reflects the disposition of San Francisco in general.
San Francisco collage by Louise Markus.
One of Lulu’s favorite things to do in San Francisco is taking the bus, which she says is like a Shakespearean tragicomedy on wheels. Like one native San Franciscan noted - you don’t have to get season tickets to the theater, just get a bus pass. Lulu takes the 9 bus along Potrero Avenue to get to her studio. As this runs past the San Francisco General Hospital, someone in a wheelchair inevitably wants to get on and when that happens the people on the bus come together as a community in order to facilitate this effort. The bus driver lowers the bus and folds out the ramp, passengers stand on their seats to make way, others vacate their places to make room for the disabled, making sure their former seats are properly locked away, and still others help getting the wheelchair in place and locked in. When Lulu first saw this mini-community in action for the first time she was overwhelmed by the empathy of the human spirit.
San Francisco collage by Louise Markus
The whole bus thing can really get Lulu going and she often talks about it to people – some of whom come from a class that turn their noses down at public transport. To them the buses are full of undesirables: working class people, drug addicts and the disenfranchised. This class of people are so fearful of the bus, their eyes bug out like a deer facing headlights (not mine – I would never hit a deer) when she tells them how much she loves it. But Lulu’s got a champion in John Waters, the movie director who at a recent lecture in San Francisco said the most controversial comment he ever made was how much he loves riding the bus in San Francisco. I guess that shared reaction characterizes our intrepid nomad artist as a real Lulu.
The good news is that the 65 Chevy pickup blog had about 12,ooo fans in it's premiere year - some from as far away as Russia. But I haven't written in a while so lots of people have been asking G and Lulu what happened. Guess I had blogger’s block. The truth is the team of Markus (Lulu) & Genova (G) and yours truly Ole Blu, was having infrastructure problems that set my headlights into a spin. Lulu’s work was taking her away from me and G and let’s face it – without Lulu I can’t write. It took a while before communications between the team members got ironed out. It always does where humans are involved. G and Lulu – they’ve been all over the place – making changes, madding about or should I say nomading about. You’d think they were guests on Jerry Springer the way friends and relatives worried they were gonna split up for good or something. I admit, at first I was insulted cause Lulu was getting around on airplanes; trading slow mo travel for rapid transit, but - whatever works. It’s silly to think that just cause we’re not physically together all the time means there’s no magic. When you’re an artist all you got is magic. A team with the strength of Ole Blu, G and Lulu can transcend physical boundaries - especially as that team expands and contracts depending on our travels. I say transcend but that makes it sound too easy. Struggle through would be better. The way I see it, the artist world (and that includes art lovers) should be a supportive community that extends beyond borders. So while G and I have been working with the amazingly creative community in Safety Harbor developing their new art and music center, SHAMc, Lulu’s been working in Montreal and San Francisco. It took a while before we could sort it all out but Lulu and I decided to communicate via the internet. It’s a new chapter in Ole Blu’s blog all about the travels of a nomad artist - Louise Markus - and she's a real Lulu. So stay tuned - next blog entry will be catching up with Lulu in her studio in San Francisco’s Mission District.
We’ve seen some picturesque sights as we poke our way north on the highways and byways of the USA. Byways mostly cause the highways can get tiresome. I wrote a poem about it:
Yours truly - Ole Blu, Hiho Silver, Mike & Rusty
People speedin’ away,
Haulin’ butt to gain time
When all the time they losin’ time
By not usin’ time,
Not takin’ the time to make time
With people along the way.
Time was - the road was for adventure,
Not this time, Those speed busters want to get there
Before the light.
The team of Markus & Genova includin’ Yours truly - Ole Blu, our trusty trailer Hiho Silver, and the steadfast bikes: Mike and Rusty, are takin’ our time, pokin’ our way along and runnin’ into all kinds of adventures and small miracles.
Some of those adventures can be challengin’. Like when G and Lulu picked up bedbugs in North Florida. Man, I never seen so much combustion in my entire life. Why they was actin’ like this was WW1 - nearly killin’ me with their bug bombs. G throwing canisters in my cab ‘til smoke was comin’ out my ears. Never mind all that judgment day end of the world stuff that the bible belters are goin’ on about these days. You wanna feel all end of the worldish? You should just go get you some of them bed bugs. That’ll put the fear of gawd in you. Ha! Three bombs and I don’t know how many high heat dryer loads later the battle was won on the side of the humans and those little critters became the true victims of judgment day.
Our gang is more inclined to the road less traveled. We discovered a beauty – US 7 – that led us along the west side of the Ohio River. The other side was West Virginia where they been minin’ coal for over a century and a half . We saw tugboats pushin’ dozens of great bargefuls of coal along the river to where the generation plants sat and the paradox of ugly beauty hit me right between the headlights as it must have G, cause we was always stoppin’ so he could photograph.
Even though they was generatin’ energy from coal, the size and hyperbolic shape of the monster coolin’ chimneys screamed nuclear fallout. Knowin’ the controversy behind manufacturin’ energy didn’t detract from their grandeur. If they dig these up five thousand years from now they might evoke all of the awe and respect that the Egyptian pyramids do in our day. Maybe in their time the pyramids conjured up fear and anger in the locals. Still, those chimneys were beautiful and I could not ignore the fact that humans have built some miraculous structures and inventions.
As it turned out, it was a good thing we were takin’ the slow road cause Hiho Silver maxed her axle just outside of Wheeling, West Virginia. G’s cousin lives there and we took a break at his place while G scoured the local recyclin’ yards for a new one. Now Wheeling is a strange little town that’s seen better days, I guess. It was the birthplace of the state of West Virginia during the civil war. Iron and steel mills lined the banks of the Ohio River and in the late 1800’s, Wheeling was the nail capitol of the world and the richest city per capita in the USA. The huge ‘painted lady’ Victorian mansions about town attest to that.
Well things changed and for whatever reason the town could not keep up with it’s own expectations. Heck, maybe it was the problems that come with entitlement but now the town is so depressed even the Family Dollar’s got a sale on. If you ask me – it takes a lot of energy to maintain an empire. Maybe we need to lower our expectations of livin’ the American hype and get back to basics. Take me for example – I’m not one of those fancy vehicles with GPS and ABS but I won't give you any BS either. I’m a no nonsense kinda guy and I’m doin’ just fine. So fine that, thanks to G’s hard work on Hiho (with a little help from cousin Dan) we’ll be up and runnin’ tomorrow and headin’ for Montreal – or Mount Real, as the natives like to call it. Glad we had this opportunity to hang out with Dan and get to know Wheeling a little better. Till the next time.
Another season in paradise is windin’ down for G, Lulu and yours truly Ole Blu. It’s been an interestin’ adventure in Miami, especially in the Wynwood art district. G and Lulu’s favorite hangout there is Joey’s restaurant. At Joey’s they understand the artist sensibility and will let you linger at the table with your friends or just your laptop until the local birds consider you statuary and start buildin’ a nest in your hair. It’s a happenin’ place where artists and business people can share their grand schemes of transformin’ this industrial neighborhood into a thrivin’ art scene. It was at Joey’s that Lulu attended Myra Wexler’s inaugural monthly art salon “Musing with Myra”. I’m not sure whether “musin” means just plain thinkin’ or wearin’ long flowin’ robes and lookin’ so pensive that artists want whatever it is you have and they don’t, so they draw a picture of you to capture it. Human affairs have always been a little confusin’ to me. Take the first “Musing” back in January 2010 for instance. A Saturday afternoon group of mostly ladies, real estate people and art and artist types sittin’ round a table in Joey’s courtyard discussing MOCA Miami’s upcoming fundraiser “Bohemian Bash”. Lulu asked what they meant by ‘bohemia’ - her being a foreigner and all - and without skippin’ a beat, Bonnie Clearwater, the executive director of MOCA politely fired back – “You're bohemian”. Guess she’s right cause Lulu’s from Montreal where the bohemian lifestyle has been honed to the fine, exotic, George Sands kinda art that it is. Another lady sittin’ at the table thought bohemian meant wearin’ skirts with fringe. Lulu said when you’re it (meanin’ bohemian) you don’t know it, but she thought it might have somethin’ to do with usin’ rags instead of paper towels. Anyway you can see how engagin’ and fraught with controversy this get together was right from the beginnin’.
G reads lyrics from a Tony Genova song.
Since then Myra has transformed ‘Musing’ into a regular 3rd Wednesday evenin’ of the month event – bringin’ together a mixed and inspirin’ bunch of intellectuals, artists and business people and featurin’ artist talks and crayons and markers and most of all camaraderie. Last Wednesday’s “Musing” was held at Wynwood Kitchen and Bar or WKB, a restaurant that feels like the inside of graffiti artist Shepard Fairey’s brain what with all his massive red, black and white pop imagery on the walls. Myra got everyone to sit round a long table and introduce themselves, some of ‘em even read poems - Myra havin’ asked them to bring one in honor of National Poetry Month. I guess they’d been hittin’ the fancy drinks right from the start cause from where I was parked a block away I could hear them beltin’ out the chorus of Let My People Go (an inspired choice combinin’ poetry with the Jewish holiday of Passover) which was orchestrated by visual artist Leon Rosenblatt. Lulu read a Rumi poem that reveals the secret to gettin’ out of a bad situation by embracin’ it like it was your best friend. That’s human relations for you – like tryin’ to go forward in reverse.
Summerhill Seven slappin' up a Myra sticker.
All in all it was a very animated evenin’ that ended with actor, writer Summerhill Seven slappin’ a Myra Obey Yo Mama sticker on the stop sign outside WKB. When Myra says "Obey Yo Mama", she don’t mean crouch down on all fours and start lickin’ her steel toed boots – not that she wears that kind of thing – she’s more of a Gucci kinda gal. No, she’s usin’ pop and graffiti terminology to direct folks to support the arts. Yours truly, Ole Blu agrees. It’s like my friend actor Jeff Daniels says - people got to start supportin’ the arts – meanin’ BUY ART - in order for the economy to reboot. She’s also got business cards that say Myra Wexler, “Art Enthusiast” which I guess means she takes art pretty seriously. But that’s an oxymoron for Miss Myra Wexler who has fun meetin’ interestin’ people and throwin’ them together to see what cooks.
Gettin' ready to roll with the help of G.
As much as Miamians love art it’s unlikely that anybody’s willin’ to go sloggin’ through the blisterin’ streets of Wynwood in the summer months just for a glimpse of truth and beauty, and so the art scene here slows to a grindin’ halt – includin’ "Musing with Myra". Most people if they can manage it, just head for the hills. For myself, Lulu and G that means headin’ for the cliffs – of Newfoundland that is. But I know we’ll be lookin’ forward to reconnectin’ with our Miami friends in the fall. Until then I’ll keep you informed on our travels as we ride into Ole Blu’s yonder.
G and Lulu hosted a participatin' paintin' event at April's "Art in the Yard".
Just click on the images to enlarge
We had two slide shows goin' - one projected on a screen made from recycled metal and cloth - the other on the Bakehouse wall. Together with the glowin' painterly silos the backyard was positively luminous.
Myra's sticker is a hot item in Miami.
The kids at "Musing with Myra".