Archive for July, 2011


Posted: July 9, 2011 by S. Trevor Swenson in Life
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Today in my art class we were studying Eddie Manet (not to be confused with Claude Monet) and discussing how he got into a duel with a friend and art critic. 

You say Manet, I say Monet. Let's call the whole thing off

23 February 1870: Édouard Manet and Louis Edmond Duranty; Duranty, an art critic and friend of Manet, had written only the briefest of commentary on two works of art that Manet had entered for exhibition. The frustrated Manet collared Duranty at the Café Guerbois and slapped him. Duranty’s demands for an apology were refused and so the men fought a duel with swords in the Forest of Saint-Germain-en-Laye three days later on the 23rd. Émile Zola acted as Manet’s second and Paul Alexis acted for Duranty. After Duranty received a wound above the right breast the seconds stepped in and declared that honor had been satisfied. The men remained friends despite the encounter.
We watched a BBC docu-drama called “The Impressionists”, and they showed the duel. It seemed Manet was something of a miserable little turnip. He was the typical tortured artist, whom no one understood, and more importantly, no one bought. It got me thinking that I’d like to see dueling come back in style. I like that it was officially illegal, yet many lawmakers and important people took part in duels. I like the concept of “seconds”, and most of all the idea of violently smacking people who get on your nerves or offended you and challenging them to a duel. That’s good stuff.  It’s a damn sight better than “de-friending” someone on Facebook.  I actually feel a bit weenyish when I de-friend someone…like it’s the ultimate, modern-day pussy move.  Do people gain some kind of satisfaction from this decidedly soft and passive-aggressive social phenomena?  I’m much more in your face.  A good smack, in public and a demand for satisfaction really appeals to me. To be perfectly honest, I expend a fair amount of energy, multiple times on a daily basis just keeping myself from slapping people. It’s not easy.
As much as I think I would enjoy duels and dueling, I don’t know how good I would be at it. I like fighting and I suppose my win-loss record is pretty fair in terms of barroom brawls and other fisticuffs; but this is not a reflection of any skill I posses as a fighter. I suppose the reason for my winning record is that I have a capacity for violence. I feel no need to engage in the prerequisites of modern fighting where threats are exchanged and there is pushing and “Oh yeahs?” thrown instead of punches. I just hit. And it seems to work. Most of the time, anyway. The other reason that I win a fair amount is that I am especially careful not to antagonize 6’6″, 300 lb knuckle draggers with gang tattoos on their face or neck. I have found this to be a pretty good policy and rule of engagement. I’m not especially fast, and although it hasn’t been proven, I suspect that I would probably cry if I were hit hard enough. I have strong forearms after almost 20 years of carrying cases of beer over my head what seemed like a hundred times a day at work. I suppose this helps when I hit first and hard. Or, maybe I’ve been very lucky and I am long overdue for a severe beat down.

Cool duel on Firefly

I also like the concept of a feared “duelist” (Is that a word?) like Cyrano de Bergerac. I suspect Cyrano became so adept because of the big nose, and the inevitable abuse that comes with such physical shortcomings. Nothing quite shuts a rampant and abusive mouth like a good beat down, or in Cyrano’s case, a stabbing with a sword. I’m too squeamish to stab people, although in addition to dueling, I like the idea of people walking around with swords again. They’re great accessories, and all the men out there with less than average penis’ could compensate with big swords on their belt as opposed to big monster trucks or muscle cars. Think of how much more polite those Neanderthal nightclub bouncers would be if all the lounge lizards were packing nice, shiny swords. It could totally even the odds for little or fat guys. They would practice their swordsmanship instead of wearing shoes with lifts or going to the gym. Also medicine has come a long way since the last time people carried swords around. We have antibiotics, blood transfusions and emergency rooms now.
Women could carry swords too. This might put an end to, or at least limit unwanted commentary from strange men on the street. That REALLY appeals to me.
             “Hey Baby…Hey Mama….(kissing noises)
              SLICE, STAB, GOUGE
             “G’night boys”
As much as I like swords and would love to see a comeback, I really don’t understand the dueling pistols thing. That is just dense, in my opinion. Who came up with this concept? And what’s worse, who heard the idea of dueling with pistols at 5 or 10 paces and thought “Hmmm  good idea!”
“OK, here’s what we’re going to do… Were going to get one shot pistols and stand back to back. Then we’re going to walk 5 paces each, turn and fire the guns at each other. Any questions?
“Um yeah, what’s a ‘pace’?”
“It’s like a step.”
“Then why didn’t you just say ‘5 steps’?”
“Never mind.”
“That doesn’t seem like a very long distance, what if we both get shot?”
“What are you, some kind of pussy?”
(SMACK) ” I demand satisfaction.”
“You’re on, asshole! So, are we clear?  Five paces, turn and fire.”
“Damn right! Wait . . .what’s a ‘pace’ again?”

What is a “Gow”?

Posted: July 9, 2011 by Gow in Editor's Notes
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Remember the guy on the left? "Cockroach" from the Cosby Show

“Gow” (or “Little Gow”) is a nickname I acquired a while back and it comes from one of my favorite pieces written by our intrepid author over there. It was maybe the third or fourth thing that I had ever read of his and I was laughing to myself for hours over his effective use of the word “gow” as an exclamation. Sadly, it’s a bit of a long story and the writing in question has since been lost. Before he had an “editor” Mr. Swenson didn’t keep or organize his work. In the days immediately following my giggles and gushing over how funny it was, he started answering the phone when I called with an excited “GOW!!”, or maybe he always answered the phone that way no matter who was calling. I guess I’ll never know for sure. But either way, it was obvious that this moniker was firmly entrenched as his nickname for me. As nicknames go, it’s a pretty good one. I choose to take it as a term of endearment and special connection and it’s certainly better than “Stinky” or something, right?

How about this guy? "Boner" from Growing Pains

Soon I had him convinced to let me proof read his work before posting it and to save it for posterity. Eventually, “we” decided to start a blog. He would do the writing and I would do all of the grunt work since he’s rather incapable in that area. (Did you read “Technophobe“?) I’m not sure how much of an editor I am. Really, I’m more of a friend, a fan and maybe a bit of of nudge. I often wonder if he ever regrets telling me to push him, to write with more frequency and maybe more discipline. I try to push him without being pushy, but that’s a balancing act I doubt I’m managing to pull off. I had a scathingly funny addition to a piece of his writing once and he had the good graces to laugh heartily when I told him my idea. Then he said “That’s really good! But, it’s not mine.” and he wouldn’t let me add those bits in. Can you imagine?




P.S.    Sometimes I hide little Easter Eggs in the pictures.

Touch Up On The Classics

Posted: July 4, 2011 by S. Trevor Swenson in Life
Tags: , ,
I am currently taking a class called “Urban Art and Society.”  It’s an engaging class and the teacher is an interesting, bright and swishy gay man who is very passionate about the subject. His sporadic threats to “give us a big red “F” if we don’t start taking notes” brings a smile to my face.
It may sound like a silly statement that has lots of room for elaboration, but I like art.  It interests me.  My favorite artistic medium is film, but I can certainly appreciate illustration, painting and sculpture as well.
Andy Warhol once said that “Art is anything you can get away with.”  This is certainly true.  Art is anything you can get away with.  I’ll bet it’s even better if you can create something ridiculous, simple or funny and then get the “experts” to dissect, discuss and write about your “art”, and to pay a great deal of money for it.  I think the key is to act very serious and to say cryptic and seemingly profound things about your “work”.
With the exception of a brief flirtation with finger painting in the 70’s, I am not an artist.  None of my work from that period exists today.  I was troubled with how few people understood the meaning in my art, except for my mother of course, who has always been a bastion of the avant garde and exhibited my work in the “Refrigerator Door Gallery” to be viewed by small and discerning audiences.  I was way ahead of my time, and too angst-ridden to conform to the demands of the art community. I was too dark, and no one understood my blue houses with red roofs and our cat who was the same size as the house illuminated by a grimacing faced yellow sun.  Fools…  Imbeciles…
As we study various artists and their innovations and how they affected the times, while the times affected them and their work, I have come to appreciate how powerful art is, or can be. I started to have regrets that I had abandoned the arts. The rebellious artists have always appealed to me. To me the Gustave Courbets and the Vincent Van Goghs were the punk rockers of their time. Pissing people off can be fun.  It made me think of a lofty  and daring art concept.
What if a person were to paint themselves into the background of famous original works of art doing something silly or obnoxious.  They could portray themselves as a greasy spoon waitress delivering the check to Judas in The Last Supper,  or perhaps a small fellow, far in the distance behind the Mona Lisa with a “Hi Mom” sign, or a little tiny surfer or a rubber ducky on The Great Wave of Kanagawa. Maybe painting little “Timex” on Dali’s melting clocks  You get the idea.  Of course such a project would not only require a skilled artist, but also a top notch cat burglar to break into various museums, bypass the intricate security systems, then improve and enhance these famous works of art.  Would it be art or vandalism, or perhaps both?  The word “vandalism” of course derives from the vandal barbarians who pillaged areas within the Roman Empire, drawing little mustaches on statues of Aphrodite, and if my ancient European history is up to snuff, were the first to leave flaming paper bags of dog grumpies outside of temples and then watching from the bushes and giggling as irate Roman clerics and priests stomped on them with their sandals.
Yes, some would view my concept as destruction, but I disagree.  I see it as an enhancement.  We have plenty or reproductions and prints of the original art work.  This would be a simple before and after.  It would turn the art world on it’s ear.  New books would have to be written, new art classes would have to be taught.
It can be so difficult being ahead of one’s time, and completely unappreciated, but I suppose it is the burden that the creative have borne for centuries.