The Scent of a Virtual Memorial’s Roses

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We always seem to come back to a problem that never has resolve or relief. How do we grieve for the loss of internet friends? Yes, I mean “death”. Yes, I mean folks whom we’ve never met in person but, through time, have become important. Yes, “we” is the collective of modern internet junkies who actually breathe deeply every know and then.

As in our “day to day”, hopefully extant, and certainly three-dimensional world, such sorrow can be debilitating. And it can be pesky: zapping us with a poignant, weepy, and charged bit of nostalgia.

For me, thoughts of departed friends and family can cascade from my memory right down to the table top. Slideshows of faces can stare back and almost challenge me to “go there” and face those losses that are still raw. Within moments thoughts and being begin throbbing with anger, guilt, and melancholia.

So today, I am thinking of three friends who have passed away in the past year or so, the deaths of whom I cannot seem to move past:

Karen G, who was always lyrical, witty, and certain to always react with kindness.
Scott B, who was a gruff, opinionated, and reactionary asshole. But he was an immensely loyal and enlightened egalitarian.
Farrah S, who was bedridden and spiraling into life’s painful denouement. We’d often talk for hours late at night, solving any and all conspiracy theories as well as predicting political trends.

Perhaps, my subconscious honors them by keeping those profiles valid in my heart. I usually reach the same conclusion each time. Such friends are unexpected and blessed gifts from the Universe.

This year, however, I realize that I am thankful for the time I did have with these friends. We shared joy. We poured our “melted” hearts out to each other and allowed ourselves a relationship without pretense.

I do believe that these three friends helped me grow up just a little more.

(Henry picked this Vuillard bouquet just for them.)

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Boardless in Raleigh: Stripped, Whipped, and Dropping Pins Everywhere

imageI’ve never denied that I’m obsessive, a bit Pollyanna-ish, and prone to take the world and all of its moons just a little too seriously. It was that combination of traits that made me an ideal Catholic School student in the Sixties. If I didn’t receive 100 on a Spelling quiz, the Daughters of Charity felt my pain. In tandem, they’d often quietly add to my pain as well.

Today, I feel such pain. I bet today the sore bleeds and throbs more dramatically. I have no advocates remaining in my corner. That is certainly the case with a certain networking site. I won’t pussyfoot any further. I was zapped this afternoon by the Pentagruels of social networking sites in the most unholy of ways.

I have been suspended, removed, or deleted … whatever the proper term is. I no longer exist in that milieu. The censors have pissed on my keyboard and seized my almost 50,000 images posted to almost 350 albums. They will not return the fruit of a half year’s passion and detail. It is collateral damage.

There is no Customer Service department to contact. There is only an address to which I can send an email, with only my address as context. There is no outlet for inquiry or in which to plead a case.

The afternoon has gone terribly wrong. No one can really see into my mind and determine how I actually do feel. No one really “feels” my devastation. No one feels the extent of the violation.

For six months,said site has engaged me for an amalgate of probably one entire month of online term if not more. Over 750 hours.

True, the entire process has provided me with entertainment at a time when there is so little. Since the only time I leave the house is for a doctor’s appointment, it just gets me from A to B each day.

But the love affair has ended. There is neither an iota of fanfare nor the slightest brouhaha.

There seems to be no small way with which to make a bad situation good. Or to even just lessen the anger and sadness!

I will not shed a tear for Social Networks of any color Nor will I dance into a Hell of heartbreak.

I shall save my pins now for intricately and specifically fashioned voodoo dolls.

Other folks best pin away “ad infinitem”, eh Tartuffe?

“Farewell, Mein Lieben Herr!”

I remain your humble poster, Boardless in Raleigh.

(Image: Poster for “Orpheus in the Underworld” by Gerald Scarfe, 1989.)

I’m Reviewing the Situation: Which Way, the Query?

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I feel as though I should take September’s advice and look for those ageless life-reassuring sophomore’s books, and if I’m spent on such, step to “reaffirming” my quiet second look.
Life re-assuring is a calm, steady breeze;
Oh, your calm voice and gentle touch at once make gentle a “hard lesson”.

Life-reassuring is the denouement within Mr Cumberbatch’s Sherlock Holmes latest venture; on which to “drag aboard” a bloody drip and a better grip.
Life-reassuring is the last question on an assessment test; in a non-related Human Resources Department.
Life-reassuring is its answer, my pencil down far; too quickly.
Life-reassuring is sharing my brood in a never-ending first scene of a novel; yet put to words.

But I digress. Take my Promethean demeanor straight to bed. Take two metaphors and call me in the morning. I’ll tell you what to do.

(Image: “Reading at the Sea” by Vittorio Matteo Corcos, 1910.)

And It’s Only Tuesday

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There are mornings on which I think back to how life actually “felt” in the days without computers and instantaneous communications and transactions. Although it becomes increasingly difficult to do with any clarity, it is still comforting to visualize life with dial-tones, newspapers, and night-long election returns.

We were less likely to rush to judgment; rush to physical reactions; and to rush to verbal responses. It was worth the time to sit down.

Nowadays, the constant barrage of “all things instantaneous” is exhausting, depleting, exacerbating, and a bit frightening. The word “stress” is used probably ten times as often as it was in the 80’s, and perhaps only five times more-so in the 90’s.

I’m tired. It’s just Tuesday. And it’s just past seven in the morning.

There did seem to once be a time when we looked forward to our days.

We also got more sleep. There was such a concept of “bedtime”. And intimacy was more likely to flourish in the home … whatever its components were.

My hatches are unbattened. My guard cowers listlessly on the floor. My motivation is sleeps fitfully in the guest room.

Wasn’t there a time when Tuesdays were less tiring, less dreaded?

Now, I’m just tired. And it’s only Tuesday.

(Image by Ricardo Renedo.)

Before We Had Friend Lists and Since

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I have four Facebook friends that date back to my elementary school years at St Pius X Elementary School.

Then with neither intent nor effort, my recall harkens back to junior and senior high school. There were about twenty students with whom I attended every class. Every one. Except, of course, Physical Education. We even all shared “les cours de Français” with the sad Monsieur Bright and the perky Mmes. Norris and Grady.

Of those, I have reconnected with maybe ten and, sadly, disconnected with another two or three.

And then there’s today. I can’t even fathom the number of folks who entered my life in the past forty years. Nor can I guess as to those who, just as quickly, left. I am just thankful that I was never lonely. I had good friends. I had good lovers. I had good partners, except for the anti-Christ.

Thank God, though, that my compulsion for statistics, data, and trivia orts has disappeared into a blur of age, medications, and ever-evolving and ever-dwindling priorities.

Today, on this very Tuesday, however, I can only think about kind and compassionate people. That’s all I have the energy for: in both my painfully ironic surreal “real” life and my social networking.

Further analysis scares me. It’s difficult to believe that I share the very same being with the fifth grader who read Statistical Abstracts before bed each night. Or read U.S. Census reports, for fun, the following year.

Conceptually, I keep coming back to those two grades and the few remaining relationships that I have from the Sixties. Henry suggests that, what once seemed infinite, now can only be readily managed at a meager count of four.

As an aside and on a terrifying level of social network mania, I have a Facebook buddy from my crayon days at Chapel Hill’s Little Red Schoolhouse.

When we were only five.

Dice in the Voting Booth

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My cardiologist recommended that I stay clear of CNN or any other forum that might fuel my blood pressure, steal my breath, or make me swoon.

Naughty, naughty me! To catch up on news of the world that surrounds Marklewood,  today I quietly and nonchalantly turned to Channel 29. I swear it was less than an hour when I realized that watching “Criminal Minds” would fare much better in restoring my faith in humanity.

Commentator after reporter, again and again, the topic was the U.S. Presidential race, especially in terms of a Republican nominee. Who would likely win in Iowa? Who has gathered the mightiest war chest? Who would likely stay afloat for the season’s duration? Who was the most homogeneous? How does each candidate stand on a conspiracy theory regarding 1963?
Oy vey iz Mir!

After 59 minutes, I turned nervously turned the channel and sat back in my chair. Henry would calm me down by purring on my lap. Jon might do so by sharing an anecdote. But they were upstairs. Both of them.
I looked out the window and, appreciating the privacy and remoteness, started pondering. Such “thought trains” or “stormed brains” are dangerous.

The notion hit me with a slap:

What if we, as American voters, lived in a commonwealth of sorts, in which the only (and do I mean ONLY) candidates for President were:
Jeb Bush, Bobby Jindal,
Mike Huckabee, Donald Trump,
Rick Santorum, or Ben Carson?

Oops! That isn’t such a far-fetched or fractured possibility. Even a Clinton or Duck Dynasty would be a safer option our page of Humanity’s fable.

In my players’ handbook, there is noted as a Savior of Modern Democracy neither a Christie, a Paul, ne’r a Cruz, nor even a Perry! It is clearly stated somewhere in the preface.

The very subject is terrifying. First is the horrific proximity and reality of such a pool. Secondly, how could we, as American voters, reach such a nadir of options and spirit?

The word “nadir” has titillated me since fourth grade. That was the year Sr Edward Patricia coached me to a Scripps event in Raleigh. That word never came up. I did, however, leave with a word.

I digress. We transgress. The future of our collective health, happiness, and safety are in the hands of a very few.

Let’s get started. Who will fetch the mattresses and some green peas?
And pour the Kool-Aid.

I jest not. If only we could go back in time and … Oh, never mind. Another episode of “Criminal Minds” is queued.

Loosening the Restraints on Prometheus Unposted

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There are Thursday nights on which I believe that the Universe is toying with me. Ha. You’re right, my friend. It is indeed the norm to teeter in my weeklong struggle between Herr Hope and Frau Frustration. But tonight is Thursday and I can only resolve this one day.

Granted, five years of daily episodes is surely a bit much, even in this zombie-ridden anti-apocalyptic world. Since the powers that “be” and doctors that “prescribe” are all in agreement, it seems that I shall be admitted to UNC’s Memorial Hospital in six weeks.

There, for some unpredictable and unknown duration, my privacy, home comforts, and companionship will be replaced with a marathon series of monitoring. Don’t get me started, at least not until the first Tuesday in June.

After the horror and dread subsided a bit, my game plan became clear. The tine could be wisely spent with audio books and a change in my social networking habits.

Less time on Facebook would create an opportunity to explore Pinterest and Twitter. Besides, posting images on Facebook has actually become exhausting and stressful. My image archive, then, could actually be housed in the dim and smoky back rooms of Pinterest.

I plan to spend those quiet days and even quieter nights becoming one with the Universe’s modern stratagem for successful networking.

And I will try to ascertain how, after four years of decent readership statistics, I can revamp this very blog, the object of Our Dear Prometheus’s compulsions.

It’s difficult to believe that a few of my friends scolded me recently. They assured me that I am not the least bit obsessive!

Have you evuh?

The Fidget of Father Time: Changing the Calendar for Good

Or so it feels. These somewhat beige days spin like an electric fan set to “HIGH”. The dizzied Gēras is tossed aside like picnic orts.

There once was a bit of an aesthetic and pride in time and its keeper. Calendars of yore, however, have since become obsolete puzzlements.

Calendars now remind of us of a time when:
the world seemed calmer,
the cityscapes were filled with marvel,
a single flower was noticed, and
details really mattered.

We don’t see much beauty these days, frankly, because our eyes are tightly shut. If we truly scrutinize the world around us, somehow humanity loses its power, or so we’re surreptitiously told. God forbid we ever acknowledge the majesty of the Universe and its creation.

Yes, I am still a liberal Democrat. And I am frightened that Time will go the way of Beauty and Kindness.

It’s tragic how more and more of our daily lives are controlled by a server. The forgotten Gēras would be mortified.

Sordid Confessions of an Image Junkie

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This breathtaking painting by the nearly forgotten French Academic artist Léon Bonnat, “Le Barbier du Suez” (1876), has been my favorite for several months now. Remember that such a statement is made by one who peruses and studies usually one hundred images per day.

Please don’t scold me. It has morphed into a realistic and proactive pastime while I await a heart. Clicking “save”, “delete”, “search”, or “post” actually burns few calories. Even then, there are still times when that ilk of activity is even beyond my list.

I digress. Bonnat’s “century and a half” old work gives me joy on a daily basis these days. His treatment of fabric and skin is unbelievable, if not mesmerizing. Further, the scale, lighting, and saturation of color are all perfection. That last being a word I haven’t used in several years.

The homoerotic, smoky, and sexy aspects didn’t occur to me until weeks after I initially discovered it. I jest not.

Having settled into my creative and ever-changing dotage, studying textiles fulfills some odd sort of sublimated sexual urge.  And yes, I often am victim of the post-tryst munchies.

But I digress.

God bless the internet for both its reach and infinite search engines.

As an aside (from your humble trivia junkie): a list of Bonnat’s many students offers some familiar and surprising names. John Singer Sargent, Stanhope Forbes, Gustave Caillebotte, Georges Braque, Thomas Eakins, Raoul Dufy, Edvard Munch, Henry Siddons Mowbray, and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec.

Who knew?

The Day’s Bounty of Hope, Cheer, and Friendship

This morning I was awake long before the neighborhood rooster was preening and strutting and greeting the dawn. He is easily the Town Crier for his harem and his merry band of waltzing cockerels.

My iced coffee was already in place on the table, near my chair, and close to the television. My Thursday displays all the indications that today, this very Thanksgiving, will be quiet and civilized.

Henry scoffs at my use of “civilized” since he and the two mollies are known to pace with wide, bright eyes. Those of you who are gifted with such creatures can attest that poultry is the “crack” in any proper or improper pride of pusses. I refer to their behavior as the feline “twist and shout”, although Jon swears it’s more like jonesing.

(Remember that prior to his retirement a few years back, Dr Markle was a therapist for dual-addicted homeless individuals. His clinician persona seizes the reins at a mere mention.)

The bottom line is that all of the merry mammals of Marklewood anticipate a tender and savory bird.

So, as I ponder the preparations that await my attention, I wanted to wish all of you a joyous day. May it be filled with laughter, music, camaraderie, and satisfying foods.

A smile is sneaking into the room. I am visualizing past celebrations, recalling details that make each one special. You best be spared any anecdotes of mishaps, odd recipes, or misbehaving guests.

Everyone should experience at least one raucous gathering and one, dignified. We all need benchmarks for reasons we’ll explore at a later date. Perhaps, we’ll attempt that in 2015.

For now, I just want to thank everyone for supporting Tartuffe’s Folly. Many of you even followed from our previous home on the now defunct and Twitter-dismantled Posterous. My navigation of such networking can be rather oddly threaded, if not obsessive.

Celebrate. Be kind. Be reflective. Be appreciative. And phone those loved ones who are absent or with whom a re-connection is past due. I will.

(Images: Assorted still lifes by Spanish artist and photographer Leticia Felgueroso.)
http://www.letitiafelgueroso.com

Dan Barry’s Art: My First Recall Of Pansies

Most people I know either condemn social media, secretly rely on it, or just refuse to contemplate change. Even the diehard protesters, though, seem to have come around. They may never admit such, but will all know that secretly they explore Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest. Once that happens, the die is indeed cast.

I have been on Facebook since the summer of ’09 and on WordPress since early last year. (Prior to that I posted my blog, Tartuffe’s Folly, on Posterous which was bought out and dissolved.) In the five years I have established many new relationships or rekindled others. Many are with artists from all over the world of Hopeful Surrealism.

Austin artist Dan Barry was the first such new friend. The introduction particulars escape me but, as they say in the South albeit deeper than here: “That don’t make no never mind.” Since then I’ve “met” many people and respond usually to those that share my obscure aesthetic or humor.

Dan’s collages at once stirred me with their emotional nostalgia and the gentle, extremely thoughtful assembly and ink details. They are wonderfully augmented with modernisms and often conflicting points of reference.

The first of Barry’s ethereal collections that reeled me in was one involving pansies, rich hues, and meticulously printed and tiny text. Anthropomorphism is, perhaps, my favorite type of Surrealism, at least in that it often appeals to the child within. Many of the older, Victorian examples can be more clever and detailed than contemporary ones.

But I digress, as is my nature.

I will skip my sweet, initial recollection of pansies, their faces, and their world. I’ll save my initial feelings about being an older brother. My sister Polly was a newborn and I was in kindergarten in Chapel Hill. The elderly couple across the street devoted their entire front yard to their love for the deceptively sturdy flower. They were my best friends at the time, at least until I was in first grade.

The 1500 sq ft lot became a brilliant, multicolored, and intricate canvas, save for the cobblestone path. I could sit on that patchwork bed for hours. I’d readily imagine that I was in some magical kingdom, safely tucked away in Chapel Hill. (Mind you, that “elderly” couple was probably in their 40’s at the time.)

Their surname is long lost in the cavernous recesses of my memory. As I mentioned, I won’t bore you, Gentle Readers, with further details.

I do remember, however, visuals that evoke my young emotions and wonderment. A snapshot of our neighbors’ flowers is on page five of my life’s secret album. There might even be one of that velvet bower’s infinite blooms pressed between pages.

I’ll also always remember Dan and his beautiful work. And the subtle paths our friendships follow.

(All images are by Dan Barry.)
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Dan-Barry-Art/133020120046257

Barry’s 2014 Shows Include:
Welcome to the Dreamtime – Stephen Romano Gallery, Brooklyn, NY
DISCOS IMPOSIBLES
– Galeria Safia, Barcelona, Spain
Mysterium Cosmographicum – Stephen Romano Gallery, Brooklyn, NY
Small Indignities – Red Truck Gallery, New Orleans, LA
Post-It Show
– Giant Robot, Los Angeles, CA
Don’t Wake Daddy Group Show
– Feinkunst Krüger, Hamburg, Germany

There Is No Medium-drive, Goldilocks: You May Quote Me, Miley! LFMAO

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I had quite the afternoon jolt this afternoon as I perused my very backyard, the weed-strewn Internet. Jon was napping after an early and hectic Wednesday morning dealing with electricians. Man of opportunity that I am, the two hours were spent downstairs with Leopold II, my iPad.

Working on an involved prosaic piece unrelated to this humble post, I started searching for quotes and double-checking my use of foreign texts. As I kept looking out the window to survey the magnificent rain, I glanced down in horror and mumbled loudly. Jon would’ve heard and begrudgingly awakened had it not been for his deep and unshakeable slumber.

A new generation of people is already impacting our literary and grammar culture’s changing voices. We all know the web-derived and often sang-based lexicon of this current millennium: tweet, cougar, selfie, bromance mp3, cloud, blue tooth, tweak, grill, cunnilinge, smart phone, texting, and sexting.

Im some cases, a word may just be used as a different part of speech, my least favorite being, for example: “To message or de-friend one’s friends while orientating them on how to cunnilingue or while tweeting or skyping” would surely offend Miss Manners and several generations of Vanderbilts and stodgy grammarians.

Admittedly, my fun-loving, CD playing, and insurance-challenged Baby Boomer buddies are not innocent of such a slip or mix a word. They freshened the vocabulary with approachable new jargon: yuppy, cell-phone, email, hard-drive, soft-drive, Reaganomics, sound-bite, microwave, and Dixiecrat.

Neither reserved wordmongers nor cautious futurists, our parents’ peers combined the hipster musings of a counter-culture beatnik with the grooviness of flower-children. And thus, hippies, as a concept, were reluctantly, born. Physicians and researchers also coined the myriad medical terms that help define a field’s advancement and render thesauri obsolete.

Who speaketh of adjectives and nouns and verbs upside-down (and I was!),  let he confess now and reserve his judgment. Mind you, that last “J” word will never accept that blasted “e” that folks try to force upon it.  But I digress and ramble as I after do in the wee-est of morning hours.

I decided to remain mission-driven and medal-worthy, spending my final internet time continuing my quest for a quotation. Perhaps, a clever literary passage or excerpt from a pertinent political speech would perfectly fit the bill.

Optimistically, I two-stepped right over to Quotations and googled several search words and was aghast at what I discovered quotations by the likes of Miley Cyrus, Taylor Swift, Lady GaGa, R. Kelly, and an Olsen twin. I forget which one. I tried “BrainyQuote”, “Think Exist”, “Good Reads”, and “Think Exist”.  I won’t promise you a “Quote Garden!” Grumbling, mumbling, and altogether fumbling, even I dusted off those heavy, unwieldy tomes by the Messieurs Roget and Webster.

My last option succeeded just from its simplicity … as well as some innate resistance that I might have for the language that we all speak.

In both fabulosity and “gammarosity”, I bid thee a satisfying slumber, Gentle Reader.

P.S. Apple’s Siri never had either Mrs Stella Whitlock or Ms Sue Medley for school teachers!

(Jean Cocteau directed the French adaptation of “A Streetcar Named Desire” in 1949, casting legendary French actress and singer, the legendary Arletty, and, originally, his occasional boyfriend and once soulmate, Jean Marais. Cocteau ultimately had to replace Marais in Williams classic, casting Yves Vincent. Cocteau obviously designed the programs, posters, and stage sets.)

I’ll Take Sensible Shoes for $800, Alex

Although I have several cohorts who admittedly have a shoe fetish, I doubt that this is what they have in mind. At least such was the case until the internet stripped us of our naïveté. Some predilections are indeed larger than life, my friends. Others are understated, effortless, and fond of only whispering to any willing ear. Never mind the polishing and the upkeep. Such whimsy is purely good for the sole!

Yes. This is the innocent and unassuming collection that was deemed in violation (by that unnamed social networking site) and thus promptly deleted, without so much as rebuttal or a pout. Yet, I owe them gratitude as it did light the “rhetorical” fire that still burns below my, er uh feet!
“Maybe the Truth of the Meaning of Life, Ancient and Arcane Knowledge of the Great Unknowable Universe is handed down only to persons presenting with the correct brand-name footwear. If you turn up wearing Shoe City knock-offs, you don’t get to pass Go and collect Infinite Enlightenment.”     (T. Engelbrecht)
(Collection by Photographer Paul Graves.)

My Little Red Welcome Wagon

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As most of you have suspected, I am a perpetual fine-tuner, an adjunct adjuster, or (if you must) a restless perfectionist. While I restrain myself from repairing “that which is yet broken”, I anticipate the future breakdown with a litany of plans A, B, and C. And yes, gentle readers, such behavior signifies more than an artistic compulsion, it has become my own self-harnessing energy.

Since February of last year, that focus has engulfed Tartuffe’s Folly, making it the latest of creative outlets to fully reel me in to both the process and the results. A frustrated and, now, unemployed designer, I am constantly trying to improve both visuals and their format. Simply, I want folks to enjoy their time in the “sandbox” while, at the same time, I never want to lose sight of my own aesthetics and interests.

A few months ago, I changed the overall page design to one that reads, perhaps, more like a magazine with snippets and artwork to “click” for further reading. While it may pander to the skilled skimmer, it presents text, I believe, in a more palatable unfold. A reader at once can turn to a post that indeed holds interests, rather than scroll with the zeal of a television viewer pressing “fast forward”.

The other modifications have been more subtle and less obvious. The subscription tab, profile, and “sub-mission” statement have been moved to the lower realm of the home page. Tags, although still available, are neither readily found nor deftly maneuvered.

The results may not be altogether successful. Readership statistics are inconsistent and inconclusive. Some posts indicate over 3,000 views while others abruptly halt at 200. For those Facebook readers that follow links to Tartuffe’s Folly, they are no longer incorporated into statistics compiled by Google Analytics.

So I humbly ask you, friends, to comment when you feel so inclined. Please feel free to suggest improvements or topics for posts. Let me know if you have difficulty navigating, or if a function isn’t functioning.

Finally,  please subscribe if you haven’t done so yet. The tab is on the bottom of the Tartuffe’s Folly homepage. You will get notifications on posts. Most importantly, your email address will become a part of my database. I can then notify you should I start a new blog or, perish the thought, if Facebook again censures and deletes me, thus repealing my identity. Since that particular social networking site offers negligible advocacy and little, if any recourse, I will likely not return should I again be cast out from the garden.

In that unfortunate event, I shall channel all my efforts into my blog and my daily life at Marklewood. Although they may protest and suggest otherwise, the pusses, I assure you, have never been consistent and reliable followers. That’s the “tall and short” of it!

(Image: The Birdking” by Naoto Hattori, 2013.)