Archive for January, 2012


New drawing…

For the past few months I’ve been working on and off on some political drawings. I just finished one tonight and figured I’d share it with you peeps. I’ve had this image floating around in my head for a long time, probably longer than any of the other pics in the series. I was afraid I would screw it up, so I kept putting it off and working on other pics. I’m happy to report that it turned out pretty much exactly how I saw it in my head. Anyways, it’s a tad on the controversial side. The title is (Drink To) Never Forget. Have a looksee…..

 

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Mani padme .com

In a city like Asheville, with a diverse population and a lot of hippies, it’s not uncommon to walk into store after store filled with statues of the Buddha, prayer flags, and books about Buddhism. But somewhere along the way, some people got the bright idea of putting an actual Buddhist temple in the back of a downtown store full of Buddhist stuff, and Urban Dharma was born.

I first heard of the place from a customer and decided to check it out on my lunch break one day. Somehow the woman convinced me to sign up for their mailing list, and not long ago I got an email about an upcoming event. My friend was supposed to be getting married today, but she called off the wedding, and since I already had the day off and now had no plans, I figured I’d go check it out.

The email described a program based around an American monk talking about what it’s like to be a Buddhist in the Southeastern US. It said that after his presentation there would be the first weekly prayer service and an introduction to Tibetan Buddhism for those unfamiliar with it. Well this isn’t exactly what I got, but it was still a pretty interesting service. They started with some prayers and a (very) long mantra chant, which lasted around half an hour. Then there was a short break, and the speaker began his presentation. He talked at length about his monastery and what it was like being an American convert living in Kathmandu. He showed a bunch of photos of his monastery and the monks there and beautiful views of the Kathmandu valley. As he was still talking, they started to pass out the prayer books again. By this time we had been there almost three hours and I could feel my blood sugar starting to drop rapidly from not eating anything all day, so I decided to skip the next prayer and what I assume was to be the second portion of his presentation, wherein he actually talked about being a Buddhist in the American South. Even though I didn’t stay the whole time, and even though it wasn’t exactly what was described in the email, it was still a pretty fascinating experience.

I was continuously struck by the beauty of Tibetan Buddhism. There is so much symbolism, so much poetry about it. The iconography is gorgeous and even though the repeated chanting of the mantra was a little out of the ordinary for me, it was very calming. In the prayer books I saw a lot of similarities with the eastern branches of Christianity, and a lot of parallels with the teachings of Christ. In the prayers and prostrations I was reminded very much of Sufi mysticism and the simple repetitions of my Muslim brothers back in Morocco. In his slide show I couldn’t help but think of my experiences in a poor developing country very much dominated by religious faith. But perhaps the biggest impact was that all of this made me turn my focus inward. I kept thinking about my own journey, and my newfound determination to change a lot of things in my life. The prayers taught compassion for all, and especially for those who hate you, for they only treat you that way because they are suffering. That’s a truth deeper than anything I’ve ever heard in a Sunday sermon, and it fits in so well with the teachings of Jesus that I can’t help but wonder if that theory of his “missing” years having been spent in India and Tibet studying Buddhism has some merit after all.

The service wasn’t without its drawbacks, and I noticed that almost all of the people there were white. A good number of them appeared to be hipsters and well-off middle-aged couples. Not an Asian in the place except for one of the founders of the temple. I can’t help but wonder if, in a religion that is so steeped in tradition, the people who are raised Buddhist see a makeshift temple in the back of a store downtown as somehow cheapening their faith. I also have some problems with the speaker’s description of Buddhist thought. He focused so much on the memorization and repetition of it, and then spoke as though it was obvious from that that Buddhist thought was deeper and more meaningful than Western thought. He said in the West we are taught to think critically and question things, and learning is all about opening new doors and experiencing new things, which we think will lead us to enlightenment. Western teaching is “a mile wide but an inch deep.” Buddhist thought on the other hand is not about critical thinking or learning, but about listening to those who have achieved enlightenment and repeating their truths until those truths become our own. Buddhist teaching is “an inch wide but a mile deep.” I scratch my head as to how this is so. I’m a big fan of critical thinking, and I don’t think our elders have all the answers. I don’t think simply listening to them and repeating what they have said will make us realize those truths for ourselves. We have to experience and learn on our own, and there is always something new to be discovered. There might truly be “nothing new under the sun,” but until we learn it for ourselves, everything is new.

All in all it was a great experience. I have a lot of new things to think about, and a new desire to live in the peace that comes with thinking but not worrying. I have the utmost respect for Buddhism and its teachings. But if the way he presented Buddhist thought is accurate, it is simply just another religion as far as I’m concerned. There are many new things out there to be learned and discovered, and many answers we have yet to find. But as long as we are taught to not think for ourselves and that others have the answers already, we can never truly reach enlightenment.

</soapbox>

 

Blogger’s block

I don’t really have much to say today. I feel like I should post something since I didn’t yesterday, but I don’t know what. I had a mostly shitty day and I’m feeling pretty drained. I have a bunch of thoughts swirling around in my head, but I don’t know how to articulate them or which ones to articulate. I guess I’ll just go back to sorting out my recycling and listening to Tamer Hosny.

 

“cool title”

Walking home from work I passed a few older (probably mid-60’s or so) people and overheard some of their conversation. One guy was saying how with his Kindle it’s just not the same, because as you get closer to the end of a book there aren’t as many pages left. One of the others agreed and said that it kinda ruins the ending because you don’t know how much longer you have and it could end at any time. Then another spoke up and said that it told you what percent of the book you had read and what percent you had remaining, but the first two agreed that this just didn’t cut it. I couldn’t help but chuckle a bit, and then add this to my long list of reasons why I prefer “real” books to e-books.

PS: I couldn’t think of a title for this blog and asked my friend Hannah, and she said “cool title” so I figured why not.

 

  • He mentioned North Carolina cities three times in the first five minutes. Methinks he likes it here.
  • When is this president going to wake up and realize the Republicans will hate him no matter what? Before he even started his speech they were already criticising and tearing it apart. Grow a pair, put them in their place, push your agenda through. Quit waiting for the a-okay.
  • I’m not sure I like his idea about requiring all students to go to school until they finish high school or turn 18. Don’t get me wrong, I think kids should stay in school, and I want them to succeed. But if college taught me anything, it’s that school just isn’t for everyone, and a good percentage of the population would be better off just entering the job market right away, rather than delaying things and racking up debt and bad karma.
  • Yay, clean energy and conservation!!!
  • Crying over spilled milk. Cute.
  • Will populism work again? All this talk about the little people vs. the big nasty corporations is great and all, but it has to be backed up to be worth anything. A lot of us voted for a populist president, only to get a marginal improvement over the last douche in chief. How about some action?
  • Finally, punking down the Repubs about the debt ceiling. Banning insider trading by members of Congress is an idea whose time should have come years ago.
  • Who decides what people can do for themselves and what government should do? I like the spirit of his statements, but it gets a little cloudy if you ask me.
  • “With or without this Congress…” It’s about fucking time.
  • Why do we care if Iran has nuclear weapons?
  • …..blahblahblahblahtroopsblahblahblahblah…..
  • Hillary: “Oh you! Bringing that up again! Silly!”

 

All in all, a pretty good speech. The problem is, it might be too late. Congress has been strangling him for three years now, and he waits until now to try to break free. But everyone knows that during an election year you don’t get a lot accomplished, you just fight to keep your job. He’ll probably succeed at that, simply because the Republicans can’t seem to find anyone who isn’t batshit insane. But if the past three years set the tone for the next, I’m not getting my hopes up.

I still have to wonder what could be if all of the Occupy protesters and sympathizers woke up and voted for independent candidates. It’s not really “throwing your vote away” if thousands of people do it, right?

Hmmm…..

Stuff…………..

Hey Asheville peeps… if you happen to be downtown anytime soon, drop by True Blue Art Supply and you can see not one, not two, not three, but FOUR of my paintings, lovingly hung right above the fashionable wooden doors. Have a looksee…

From left to right:  The Reappearance, New Growth, Faisceaux, Taking The Long Way

And if you happen to love any or all of these pieces and you’re feeling particularly generous, they are in fact for sale. They have price tags on them, but nothing is set in stone, so make me an offer…

PS: We technically have an artist of the month but he only brought like five pieces, so the rest of us have been filling in. I’m not sure how long they’ll be up there, because our next artist of the month might bring a ton of stuff. So come see them while you still can…

 

Newt Gingrich won the SC primary.

So apparently in the eyes of conservative religious voters, being a Mormon is a bigger sin than:

A). cheating on your first wife with your future second wife, serving her with divorce papers while she’s in the hospital recovering from cancer treatments, divorcing her because she wasn’t young and pretty enough to be the first lady…

B). cheating on your second wife with your future third wife, asking her to have an open marriage and when she refused continuing to cheat on her anyway (the whole time leading the charge against the president for having an affair) then telling her you want a divorce over the phone…

The difference it seems, to these religious nutjobs, is that Newt has supposedly asked forgiveness. You can be forgiven for doing horrible shit, but you can’t be forgiven for believing the wrong thing. You see kids, Mormonism is a dangerous cult that masquerades as a branch of Christianity. A serial adulterer and all around douchebag can be forgiven, but there’s no way a cultist is fit for office.

Seriously, was I that retarded when I was religious?

Step 1

Yesterday I went down to Henco, the drafting supply store downtown, and dropped off a few of my larger watercolour/mixed media pieces. They have a gigantic 36-inch scanner that writes as high-resolution tiff files. They were a little shorthanded, so they didn’t get to my stuff until this morning. I picked them up on my lunch break and just got done cropping and editing the files on the CD they burned for me. The resolution is amazing, and these are some huge ass files. Interestingly enough the scanner even managed to capture the iridescent shimmer caused by pearlized pigments on one piece and some shiny collaged paper on another. Overall I’m pretty happy with the quality, and it only cost me around $37, so I really can’t complain.

The guy there gave me the business card of a photographer who specializes in artist portfolios. I was telling him how it was near impossible to get a good camera shot of a canvas piece, and he said they ran into that same problem years ago trying to photograph some jobs, and started using this guy. I figure when I get my next day off (Thursday y u no come yet???) I’ll give him a call and see what he would charge to take some pictures of my stuff.

So that was step one in my quest to actually do something with my art. Step two will be to take these pictures and put together a new website and a professional looking portfolio. Step three will be to find out how much it would cost to get prints made and shipped and then create an etsy page. Step four is to make some business cards and burn some CD portfolios and GET UP OFF MY ASS and hit up every gallery in town. I’m determined that 2012 is the year I finally arrive. I’m one step closer.

I just picked up my pills from Target and glanced down at the label to see this:

Perhaps I should have asked them to gimme some lovin’ to go along with my prescriptions?

 

 

Censored

So evidently WordPress is joining the long list of websites which are blacking out to protest SOPA. Go to the “freshly pressed” section and everything shows up as a bunch of black bars and the word “censored” stamped on top. Rock on! SOPA would destroy the internet as we know it, and while boycotts and protests aren’t guaranteed to kill this bill, they’ve certainly raised the profile enough that even casual internet users are becoming more aware of what’s going on. Let’s hope for once popular opinion will win out over corporate money and this bill will die a nasty death.