Buddy Cushman Art

engaging stories of hope and joy


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A Laugh and A Tear

 

Hunter 1

Hunter Thompson is one of my favorite authors. These are my Dr. Hunter S Thompson books, most of which I’ve owned for a very long time, as evident by the covers, in this case by which you can judge the book.

I’ve posted about Hunter Thompson here in the past, and an opportunity I had one night on a cross-country airplane to hang out and talk with him. You can search my past posts for “Hunter and Me” and read about it there. This brief post speaks to something else.

Recently I picked up and began reading again “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas“. You can see the bookmark there, about halfway through. Back a ways, in Part One of the book, is a passage I’ve always considered my favorite of his — among so many favorites. I’m going to quote it here in its entirety.

“My central memory of that time seems to hang on one or five or maybe 40 nights — or very early mornings — when I left the Fillmore half-crazy and, instead of going home, aimed the big 650 Lightning across the Bay Bridge at a hundred miles an hour wearing L.L. Bean shorts and a Butte sheepherder’s jacket…booming through the Treasure Island tunnel at the lights of Oakland and Berkeley and Richmond, not quite sure which turnoff to take when I got to the other end…but being absolutely certain that no matter which way I went I would come to a place where people were just as high and wild as I was. No doubt at all about that.

“There was madness in any direction, at any hour. If not across the Bay, then up the Golden Gate or down 101 to Los Altos or La Honda…You could strike sparks anywhere. There was a fantastic universal sense that whatever we were doing was right, that we were winning.

“And that, I think, was the handle — that sense of inevitable victory over the forces of Old and Evil. Not in any mean or military sense; we didn’t need that. Our energy would simply prevail. There was no point in fighting — on our side or theirs. We had all the momentum; we were riding the crest of a high and beautiful wave.

“So now, less than five years later, you can go up on a steep hill in Las Vegas and look West, and with the right kind of eyes you can almost see the high-water mark — that place where the wave finally broke and rolled back.”

For me that is beautiful writing, and I feel this passage deep in my bones, the certainty that we had something then that we have no longer. What? Righteous belief? Pure hope?Universal love? Musical and colorful joy?   “Those days are gone forever”, Steely Dan sing in ‘Pretzel Logic’, “over a long time ago.”

I got to meet Hunter Thompson and talk for some 90 minutes in the back of a plane due to my most fortuitous entanglements with two men named Bob Zimmerman and Dr. Doug Martin. That’s explained in the previous post.  Sadly Bob and Doug and Hunter are no longer with us on our tattered planet, and its the planet’s great loss – and certainly mine.

Bob gave me a present back in 2006, the copy of “Hey Rube” up in the picture on the middle left. Hunter was one of the ways we connected – along with Doug – in what we considered “the main vein”. Plugged in. Turned on. With it. Bushel-full of personal faults (especially me) or not. Bob signed the book in his only-Bob way.

Hunter 2

Only way to be.

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A Wareham Druids Freshman Tabor Musical Contest

Blue Flowers

 

I’m thinking of a song.

This is a song that reminds me of my hometown of Wareham, Massachusetts, in the US of A. I’ve been thinking about my hometown more than usual this week and posted in this Blog Tuesday about the good old days and some of the bad new ones. That post received quite a bit of attention and a number of comments, one of which, from Thom Laine, was musical in nature.

I replied to his comment and in my response mentioned that I had been for a brief period in time a member of a musical group in Wareham. We called ourselves The Druids (I don’t remember why) and consisted of Billy Fisher on guitar, Wayne Lavallee on drums, and a summer kid from Hyde Park (in Boston) named Roy (last name lost in the cobwebs of my mind), who played bass or rhythm guitar (again, the brain cell thing) and lived summers with his family in Swifts Beach – one of Wareham’s many and distinct and wondrously enchanting beach communities. Oh, I was the singer. Billy was a couple of years older than me and actually was on active duty in the Navy, stationed in Newport, Rhode Island. Wayne was a year older. Roy was around my age and had a brother and I hung out in their summer house. We held practices in Wayne’s garage, poured concrete floor and all, which – I believe – officially makes me a member of a garage band. Cool.

 

April Flowers

 

We got to play in public, at least two places I remember were a Wareham High School freshman dance (and my memory here in crystal clear of screams and wails from the female members in attendance, just like with The Beatles) and in a battle of the bands in next town over Marion at Tabor Academy (along with Wareham’s Table Scraps), said Academy so many years later serving as the slightly unreal Tabler Academy in my first book, “Ring Around The Rosy”.

We sang cover songs. Other groups’ songs. One of which I’m thinking of right now. And in the spirit of fond remembrances of days past, I’m offering a contest. This is it — correctly guess which song we covered – one guess only – and in my mind today and be the first to post your answer on the Blog itself or my Facebook page and you will win one of these three paintings I have recently created, your choice. Each is painted on 11 x 15 watercolor paper in acrylic, and will be packaged as safely as I can get it and mailed out tomorrow. I might even throw in a Wareham-related surprise.

 

Duck

 

The rules are simple: Guess the song (remember, one guess per person) and reply on the Blog or my FB page. And be the first with the correct guess. Of course, as there are probably 127, 555 songs in my mind from which I might be listening I’m going to give you three hints. I’m hesitant to do so in fear it will be way too easy. Heck, I’d only need one of these hints to make the correct guess. But in the spirit of fairness I feel obligated to help out. So, here they are.

  1. The song was originally released between 1962 and 1969. (Which you probably could of figured from the years of and around my high school life. Duh)
  2. The song was released on Capital Records. (Hmm, could this be any easier….Beach Boys, Beatles, Bobbie Gentry, The Lettermen, The Righteous Brothers, Quicksilver Messenger Service, Helen Reddy, Gene Vincent and His Blue Caps, Don Yute….a few others. Heck, I might as well just tell you.)
  3. This would have been a great song blasting in a convertible roaring down Route 66. (Sorry Helen Reddy.)

Okay, I’m sure I’ve given it away. Thank you Billy and Wayne and Roy and especially Wareham for the memories. Swifts Beach and Tabor and The Table Scraps and The Revolutionaries and  The Monday Club and summer crushes Roberta Magarian (Lexington) and Pattie Parent (Wakefield) and Elaine Flinkstrom (Easton) and Parkwood and High Street and  Royal’s front yard and Main Street and Onset Beach and plain old Route 6 – thank you too.

I bet you get the picture.

Call me. We’ll have lunch.

(Contest ends tonight, 7/13/17, at midnight.)

 


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Upside Down

 

Upside Down

It’s the title of the very first single my fave rock band The Jesus and Mary Chain released. It’s also the title of my painting – pictured here. At first, second, or third glance there appears no good reason for this painting to have that title, especially since it’s painted in the realist and not my favored abstract or expressionist style. But there is one. A reason.

For the first time in my relatively brief (given the number of years I’ve roamed the planet) career as an artist,Upside down 3 I painted a painting entirely upside down. The idea came from the book “Drawing From the Right Side of the Brain” by Betty Edwards. One of her techniques is to practice drawing images when they are turned upside down. It’s supposed to lower the light and activity of the logical left side of the brain and amp up the cells on the way-more creative right. I’ve done drawings that way a number of times, with results varying from wicked cool to what-the-hell-is-that.

Anyway, I had the flash, one day in my wife’s garage-turned-studio, to try an upside down painting.

NS 1

I had some old, used books of photos from around the world and I found one of a fishing village in Canada.  Deciding on it as my subject, I did something else I had never done before as a painter and graphed out the photo. You can see that in the picture to the left. When that was done I penciled in a similar graph on the 20 x 24 canvas. Standing close to the finished painting today some of those pencil marks remain visible through the acrylic paint. There’s also a vivid example of the process in the lower right with the blue boat. The graph mark cuts that boat right in half, but since I was painting one graphed square at a time the boat is slightly off and it almost offers the appearance of movement and another dimension. We painters call things like that fortunate and happy accidents. Often I prefer “Duh”.

NS 2

 

 

Anyway again, before applying the first brush of paint I turned the graphed picture upside down and began painting – a square at a time -from right to left, top to bottom, on my canvas, in actuality painting the sky last. I never once turned the painting over to see how it was going, not until every inch of the canvas was covered and the paint had dried. I say, in all modesty, that I was shocked at how lifelike the houses on the bluff/hill came out. I have never been able to paint a house with windows that well right side up again – before or after. Ever.

 

 

I tried the graphed, upside down technique one other time on a painting, attempting to copy my favorite artist David Park and one of his paintings. It didn’t work very well.

No lessons to be learned here, no moral nor heavy thought. No keen insight or words to live by. Simply a little story about a painting I did88ef918dc457d2dada7cf751635148da.599x601x1 upside down.


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Back In My Little Town

 

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Once upon a time, far away and long ago, I grew up in a small town in Massachusetts named Wareham. Hard by the Buzzards Bay inlet of the Atlantic Ocean, and no doubt a clone of sorts from Wareham, England, itself hard by Poole Harbour and its larger Atlantic mother. The “Gateway to Cape Cod”, that’s what it was called at times, that’s what the sign said out on Route 28 by the Chamber of Commerce. Situated just before the Bourne Bridge crossing over to The Cape, at the confluence of the Cape Cod Canal and Buzzards Bay.

I was lucky to have grown up there, for many reasons. It was a gentle place, mostly, dotted with beach communities and summer homes and summer days, Cape Verdean enclaves and culture, pine forests, and luscious ponds carved out by retreating ice-age glaciers. In the winter we skated those ponds, pushed against the sparkling frosty air, sometimes with a stick and a puck at our feet. In the spring, summers, and fall we fished, especially me and Donnie Sisson, usually Mill Pond – both sides of 28 – but others as well – Tihonet, the horseshoe mill, in West Wareham. Donnie had a hand-made net contraption thing, and we would wet it and rub damp Sunbeam white bread into the bottom and throw it in the Wareham River in back of Franconia Oil, just over the railroad tracks, and come back an hour later and haul it up, usually loaded with chubs and shiners, and these we would put in buckets of water and on our bikes create amazing acts of balance with buckets and fishing poles and tackle boxes and cruise to the spot of the day. In fact the Wareham River is, to this day, never far away for me, though I’m away 3000 and more miles as the red-winged blackbird flies. The River remains always in my mind and heart, I bet it’s in the blood that pumps and gravities through my body. Yes. I painted my feeling about it a few years ago. That green and gray thing up there.

Little Harbor Beach was another place of childhood summer days, with the folks and sisters and picnic lunch, blanket on the hot sand, and horse shoe crabs in the endless low tide wading and splashes, later on as a place to drink beer and park at night as the sun went down. With summer girls if we were lucky. I painted that too, actually a view away from the harbor and its Buzzards Bay supplier. This.

Little Harbor Lookaway

I write about my hometown today because yesterday on Facebook were links to a Wareham story of death threats against children and a militarized response and endless hours of parent and child anguish. Simon and Garfunkle sang about My Little Town. They also sang of a Mother and Child reunion. Here’s a link to a story about it all from a local news site.

 wareham-ma.villagesoup.com/p/wareham-students-evacuated-from-schools-following-pretty-specific-threat-of-shooting/1667706#.WWPKzCgT5ns.facebook

Reading the words, looking at the pictures, here in the Pacific Northwest, tears fell from my eyes. I couldn’t help it. They just fell. More water, like the Wareham River, like Little Harbor, like Buzzards Bay. More water, like my childhood.

Mary Hopkins sang a song back in my growing up time – “Those were the days my friend, we thought they’d never end.” The Kinks sang a song then too – “We had our good times pal, we thought they’d last forever. But nothing lasts forever.”

When I crawled into bed last night my wife Susan, still awake, asked me, because of the way I am these days, if I had lost all my hope for the planet. My answer was “Most of it.”

Forget all the miles. It’s a long way from flying down Lincoln Hill on our bikes, hanging at Jay’s and Minnicks, dreaming of summer girls on Parkwood Beach, working at the record store, growing up with friends – it’s a long way from there to here. Today. For me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Oh, to look through those childhood eyes again.

 


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On the Dark Side – With Feeling

Some where between the inherent artist who’s always lived within me and my increasing horror at the sparkling stupidity of mankind and most of its individual members, I have morphed as to what it means for me to be an artist. That I started late in life maybe plays some rolExpress 1e. But the TV plays one greater. On-line news sites. Overheard conversations on the street. The eternal optimism of the “now-we’ve-finally-got-him” multitudes. These are the ingredients explaining my world view and painterly outlook.

 

I’ve been paying more attention to the German expressionist painters of late. Their works speaks to me, whispers to me to come over here, hang out for a while, take a look through our eyes. See what we see — and how. The dark side, in technicolor. So I see, as best these old eyes can, and I feel, and I get it. I, as in me, get it, as in what I get.

Get it?

Express 4

My painting has evolved, hopefully I’ve become a little more skilled with the brush and knife over the six or so years I’ve been painting. Subject matter too, from happy flowers to abstract visions to, a goal, David Park-like people. And now expressionist people.

Lake Merritt crowd piece

This is mostly a visual post and I’ve included four paintings of famous German expressionists, and three of my own. You can tell which are which — theirs are better. Mostly, though, the deal is how I feel today. Bruce Springsteen once said, “Man the dope is that there’s still hope.” For me “the deal is how I feel.”

 

Hopefully I can get that in paint.

 

 

Express 2Express 3My backyardGirl


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Help Me Help You

Haven’t posted a blog in a while, but that will change this week.

Frenzy. That’s the goal for this week. All out creativity activity in an effort to end the endless ennui of having days and weeks

 

 

blondie-s-pizzaand months fly by — and oh do they fly in the “senior” years — with the sadness of getting what feels like very little done.

Now I have published my first two books in the last eight months — a life-long dream come true, even if neither qualifies (yet) as ‘The Great American Novel’. I have Facebook friends and Twitter followers way closer to that reality than me. Still, two books. And I have had a couple of public showings of some of my art, both at New Seasons markets  in various Portland, OR locals. I’ve done a few new paintings during that time — and I’m still waiting on the writing/painting simultaneous thing to show up.

But the fact remains that at the end of each day I’ve been blessed with, at the end of each of those weeks, I have the distinct feeling of wasted time. Way too much wasted time. This is not me being hard on myself. This is not me ignoring easy does it. This is simply the fact, Jack.

 

So yesterday, sometime during my daily morning ritual of up at 5:30, sit for 10 – 20 minutes in a rather hilarious half-assed version of “meditation”, drink two cups of coffee while reading something useful (spiritual, inspiring, rewarding) and/or looking at a book of art, then down to the basement for three “morning pages” in a wide-ruled notebook, sometime within that period yesterday I had the decision come upon me that the next week — Sunday, today, through Saturday — I was going to dramatically amp up my creative efforts and social media involvement and general gifting to the Universe with my unique gifts and express myself, and late last night I drew up a chart I could check off and follow and visually confront myself with evidence of any slacking, which in this case translates to lying to myself. And how low is that. Or, hopefully progress.

 

 

So you’ll “see” more of me this week, here and there, and I’ll likewise be invisible and missing in (your) action for long stretches while writing, drawing, painting, brainstorming, etc, etc, etc.

But I will be back right here tomorrow with some specifics about just what exactly is in the works.

A bientot.


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Portrait of an Addict

Let me set the stageJAMC 6

Christmas morning, less than one month before my 68th birthday, I opened a small present from my wife Susan and found three CDs – one of which was something called “Darklands” by the group The Jesus and Mary Chain. I’d heard of that group, the name’s distinctive, but was not aware of ever having heard even one of their songs. At some point over the next couple of weeks I added it to my CD changer in the 2001 Taurus and played bits and pieces on trips between home and coffee shops or Trader Joe’s. It began to grab me.

Darklands was released back in 1987, when I was considerably younger and four years sober, and likely listening to a steady diet of Beatles, Beach Boys, Pretenders, Earth, Wind, and Fire, Springsteen, Thompson Twins, and Jefferson Starship, among others heavily tilted toward the 60s and 70s. With no thought ever for The Mary Chain. But some of the songs on the CD, in particular “April Skies” and “Happy When It Rains”, held me closer and closer and refused to let go.

So I went to Ebay and bought “Psychocandy. The Mary Chain’s debut LP (’85) and, I learned, a record considered by music aficionados the planet over as a breakthrough, game-changing creation. I remember playing it straight through on a trip up to North Portland and back one day, then calling my friend and music guru Gavin in Oakland and telling him that it was hard to listen to, it’s trademark squeals of feedback getting in the way of my pop-soaked mind. Gavin – who by the way had recommended Darklands to Susan in the first place, gave me the most beautiful explanation of why they used tJAMC 1he feedback – as armor against both public hostility and adoration, kind of a “Fuck off”, and that Psychocandy worked better in small doses. I’ll get back to that advice.

Soon I was back on Ebay dialing up and ordering “21 Singles”, a collection of singles released from their six studio albums (not counting B-side compilations, outtakes, BBC radio sessions). It arrived, I played it over and over, got mesmerized and knocked out by “Some Candy Talking”, “Blues From a Gun”, “Head On”, “Snakedriver”, “Just Like Honey” – all of it.

Professionally I was in the process of re-writing and editing, with my wife, what would be my second book, “Astoria Strange”, and doing no other writing, so I found myself at the computer day in and day out, forever on YouTube, listening to – exclusively save for the occasional Brian Wilson song – The Mary Chain, each of their albums through, song by song, over and over again, never getting enough of some songs, humming and singing them around the house and out on walks, The Mary Chain, The Mary Chain, more, I needed more. I ordered the biography “Barbed Wire Kisses” by Zoe Howe, and when it arrived I stopped reading (and doing) everything else and read it straight through.

The Jesus and Mary Chain are Jim and William Reid, brothers from East Kilbride, Scotland. Other musicians have played  and recorded with them through the time of their albums (’85-’98), some a little more than others. But like Donald Fagen and Walter Becker of Steely Dan, The Mary Chain is the Reid boys. They dropped out of high school, they stayed in their room for years playing and writing music, hiding out from the Neds (non-educated delinquents: see pre-Trump voters), recording early material on a porta-studio bought for them by their father. Eventually they played out, got recognized by people in the industry, fell in with the fledgling Creation Records, played hundreds of concerts that lasted 15 minutes or so, their backs to the audience, because, always, surely, nothing else mattered but the music.

I began playing the album “Honey’s Dead” on YouTube every day, ordered it on Ebay, and one day, while driving and listening from first track “Reverence” to final track “Frequency” I had the sudden thought, the moment of clarity, that Honey’s Dead was and is every bit the recording that is “Revolver” by The Beatles, considered as perhaps the best ever album recorded. That’s how good Honey’s Dead is.

I call Gavin on a somewhat regular basis and talk Mary Chain. On the sly I ordered the LP version of Honey’s Dead and had it mailed to him and we have gushed over what a creation it is. I have since purchased the sixth studio recording – “Munki” – and the B-side “Barbed Wire Kisses”. I told Gavin I had a plan to record a collection of my favorite songs, if I could puzzle out the technology of recording off YouTube, and there were 40 to 50 songs that were musts. He laughed, in recognition. Like a fellow addict would.

But, enough of me. Let me offer up just a very few of my favorites to date, songs I believe are as good an any ever recorded by anyone. After I’ve listed these I’ll no doubt wish I had listed seven others:

Happy When It Rains:  www.youtube.com/watch?v=G5x1F9ohRa4&list=PLjWqmPPqoIzeVdZ0yVk11LeDjfzVmSgQJ

Snakedriver:   www.youtube.com/watch?v=ncmCTvJoyDQ

Some Candy Talking:   www.youtube.com/watch?v=LTl3wdYEymw

Here Comes Alice:  www.youtube.com/watch?v=KmxfBgaPqhE 

Catchfire:   www.youtube.com/watch?v=1hLEZwxyQaE

Black:   www.youtube.com/watch?v=L6Nu3najgpk

Tumbledown:   www.youtube.com/watch?v=RbWYCVmW5Ww

Happy Place:   www.youtube.com/watch?v=TcPJu4uYuIU

So, I lied, I put eight instead of seven. I meant it when I said it. Honest. Tomorrow I’ll only put seven. Like, I’ll quit tomorrow. But, anyway, I had to add “Happy Place” because it’s so different, so happy, so poppy. They’re amazing, the Reids, the depth of their creativity, the brilliance and wonder of the span of musical style and spectrum. Gavin describes “Tumbledown” as “…demented hot rod music, like a James Dean death song at a surf bbq.” Must love that. And by the way, I love, love, Psychocandy. Other worldly wonder.

The picture up top, the one that says it all, is me – I’m there at the bottom – after 73 straight hours of Mary Chain listening, bathed in sweat on the floor, just one more, Susan, just let me hear “April Skies” one more time. Honest, Susan, I’ll be done then. I swear. Honest.

There are The Beach Boys. There are The Beatles. And there is The Jesus and Mary Chain. The three best musical groups of all-time.

Yes.  www.youtube.com/watch?v=OPPP3BXurHk 

JAMC 5