November 16, 2017: Picture Today
Salvator Mundi, attributed to Leonard DaVinci.
By now you’ve heard of the record breaking sale of the only DaVinci painting in private hands. Salvator Mundi was auctioned for $450.3 million at Christie’s yesterday. Beyond the dollar figure new$, here’s a critique of the work from New York Times critic Jason Farago.
August 26, 2018: Picture Today
Today is the birthday of Anjezë Gonxhe Bojaxhiu… or, as she became known and loved throughout the world, Mother Teresa of Calcutta.
She was born in 1910 in Macedonia. In the late 1940’s she moved to the slums of Calcutta, India to work among the poor and the sick. You know the important parts of her life and story so I’ll focus here on her image which has become as important as her biograpghy in making her into an icon (used here not so much in its religious meaning, as in its more crass meaning: brand).
Googling Mother Teresa generates a surprising amount of created images, drawn, painted, realistic, symbolic, abstracted, accomplished and otherwise. Artists are drawn again and again to Teresa’s quiet spirituality and to her wrinkles and creases. Not surprisingly, most of the representations fall into rote expectation and cliche. How to portray other-worldly devotion after all? How to improve on the many great photos of that weathered and saintly face?
Here are three that stand out. I include them to illustrate how the artist can approach tired subjects, images we have seen so often we no longer see them at all, and make us take another look.
Darlene Smit, Mother Teresa. Smit is an Artist from Cape Town South Africa who uses tiles to effectively capture the well known and well worn face. Her materials reference religious art and devotion but avoid its trap of trite spiritual sentimentality.
Mother Teresa Real Superhero. Javanese artist Anton Palo uses acrylic ink and pencil to create a fresh image of Teresa and child. The free handling of materials, the bright colors, banal hearts and child like lettering all convey the joy of Teresa’s service.
Though based on a common photo image of Teresa, this duct tape painting by Michelle Kivisto (Zenfinite8) makes us see her anew. This work transcends the original image and the novelty of the tape medium. Coming from almost the exact opposite direction from Smit’s traditional mosaic medium, the duct taped portrait and minimal color separation makes an arresting image that recalls screen printing, another medium not usually associated with religious art. These three artists help us to remember and celebrate Teresa on the anniversary of her birth, and remind us of the joy of looking.
October 12, 2017: Retablos Tornillos
Many have asked about the making of my retablos on wood. This photo is packed with the process which,by the way, is totally unique to me.
From left to right:
- Measure, cut and sand pine board
- Sand all sides & paint 2 primer coats
- Paint sides w/ “woodgrain” brown & yellow
- Decoupage print to wood and hand press
- Paint sides in acrylic color for lettering
- Pen & ink lettering on 4 sides
- Paint details on print face in gold acrylic, then ink nameplate
- Coat with decoupage to seal image
- Spray final sealer
- Drill 1/4 inch hole for hanging
- Apply bio and information card to image on verso
- Repeat as needed
May 26, 2018: Picture Today
By popular demand! After ranking 36 Cheap American Beers, Will Gordon turns his critique to domestic light beers. From Deadspin here is Gordon’s
24 Light Beers Ranked
… It’s tough to define what qualifies beer as “light” (different countries and regulatory agencies have different criteria), but for our purposes we’re basically including any beer that labels itself as such. Broadly speaking, this means it has fewer calories than the regular version of the same beer. Here’s a ranking of all the nationally distributed light beers I found at my local liquor stores.
Flavor was the predominant factor in the proprietary algorithm used to compile this list, but when the taste was a toss-up I added and subtracted points based on alcohol content, since booze provides the bulk of both a beer’s calories and a person’s reason for drinking.
24. Bud Light Lime, 116 calories per 12 ounces, 4.2 percent alcohol by volume
Woe be to the human tongue that’s touched anything nastier than this sinister shit. Last July I said Bud Light Lime tastes like green Froot Loops soaked in thigh sweat. It’s too cold to muster enough sweat for a retest, but I’m confident that Bud Light Lime is still the world’s worst light beer.
23. Miller 64, 64 calories, 2.8 percent ABV
The label says it’s “perfectly balanced” but makes no reference to what balance is being struck. The urge to die versus the urge to tear your mouth off and throw it into the ocean? Miller 64 tastes like a cardboard cup of sour limeade left overnight on a subway car.
22. Beck’s Premier Light: 64 calories, 2.3 percent ABV
I’ve heard good things about this one, but it’s been skunked both times I’ve tried it. There’s no excuse for this, especially now that Beck’s is brewed in the U.S. by Anheuser-Busch InBev.
21. Amstel Light, 95 calories, 3.5 percent ABV
Amstel Light tastes like rotten fruit.
20. Bud Light, 110 calories, 4.2 percent ABV
Bud Light is the best-selling beer in America. For shame, because it always tastes like fermented cardboard, no matter how fresh it is. You could suck Bud Light straight from the stainless steel teat and it would still taste like regular Budweiser infused with the filters of a thousand discount cigarettes.
19. Bud Select 55, 55 calories, 2.4 percent ABV
Tastes like an old hard-taco shell, which, I know, sounds decent, but for whatever reason the experience doesn’t translate well to superlight beer.
18. Sapporo Light, 119 calories, 3.9 percent ABV
Sapporo Light smells like caramelized skunk-meat. The taste isn’t quite as grim, because the initial blast of necrotized game fades quickly into a more generic light beer flavor, but the first impression is tough enough to keep this one just outside of drinkable.
17. Busch Light, 95 calories, 4.1 percent ABV
And we’ve finally reached the “Sure, if that’s all you’ve got. I’m thirsty and free beer don’t grow on trees” portion of the list.
16. Natural Light, 95 calories, 4.2 percent ABV
Did you know Natural Light was introduced by Anheuser Busch in 1977, five years before Bud Light? And that it’s the sixth most popular beer in the United States? What you probably did know is that tastes a little bit like hay but mostly like nothing, and that’s good enough if you’re on a tight budget.
15. Keystone Light, 104 calories, 4.1 percent ABV
Keystone Light is much, much better than Keystone. I guess the easiest way to extract calories from a standard ‘Stone is to remove the brown banana peels from the fermentation tank?
14. Corona Light, 99 calories, 4.1 percent ABV
I despise regular Corona, but the Light is better. It smells—and to a lesser extent tastes—like stale beer, which isn’t as bad as it sounds in the context of this shit list. Whereas the lesser competitors resemble stale beer polluted by this or that other terrible flavor, Corona Light is just a regular old shoddy keg-party brew. It’s a bit sweeter than an honest doctor would order, but it dries out on the slightly feral finish.
13. Michelob Ultra: 95 calories, 4.2 percent ABV
Michelob Ultra is familiar to any road racer too dumb or dedicated to cherry pick only those races sponsored by reputable local breweries. If you’re not careful, your semi-competitive Sunday morning jog is going to be rewarded with a 9-ounce plastic cup of Ultra, a sugary malt juice that sours just enough on the quick finish to make it grudge-chuggable in a pinch.
12. Genny Light, 100 calories, 4 percent ABV
Genny Light has a good, clean brewski smell that’s undercut somewhat by a sugary corn taste and a hint of rusty lemon. But it’s a decent, straightforward beer that manages to fly under the radar and into the shopping cart due to its low price and manageable ambitions. Genny Light’s not trying to impress you; it’s just trying to skate by, and there’s an ugly honor in that.
11. Bud Light Platinum, 137 calories, 6 percent ABV
Not sure what to do with this one. The flavor is fair—clean, sweet malt, and one-note hops—but 137 calories is awfully high for this category. But so is 6 percent alcohol. Let’s move on.
10. Coors Light, 102 calories, 4.2 percent ABV
9. Medalla Light, 83 calories per 10 ounces, 4.0 percent ABV
This another tough one to rank. I love Medalla Light, but I’ve only had it on the beach in Puerto Rico. I understand you can also get it at gas stations in Florida, which I have to imagine degrades the experience. I realize this is very unscientific of me, but I really do think context matters in evaluating taste. How do you think a $7 ballpark hotdog would go over in your work cafeteria? Like cotton candy in prison.
8. Michelob Light, 122 calories, 4.3 percent ABV
The label says “Our full-flavored light lager features a malty sweetness and aromatic hop profile” and boasts of Hallertau, Strissel, Spalt, and other hop varieties. All that hopping doesn’t add up to a ton, but Michelob Light comes across as balanced and bitter relative to the competition. Michelob Light sales declined 70 percentbetween 2007 and 2012, which makes sense given that Anheuser-Busch has cannibalized it with the Mich Ultra line, but it’s still a decent light beer.
7. Mich Ultra Lime Cactus, 95 calories, 4 percent ABV
You know how when you snort green Runts dust you can taste it a little bit in the back of your throat? Mich Ultra Lime Cactus reminds me of what your mouth’s left with right after you dispatch a green candy loogie, but in the best possible way. It’s not too sweet and the aftertaste is only ever so slightly chemical tasting, plus it gets bonus points for novelty and ambition.
6. Heineken Light, 99 calories, 3.2 percent ABV
Last year Heineken reworked this slow-seller by adding Cascade hops, and it seems to have worked. Funky and skunky regular-strength Heineken is my least favorite beer in the world, but the nearly odorless Light makes a strong first impression by making very little impression at all. It tastes like basic-ass beer with a hint of sour metal, which is a welcome addition to this artificially sweetened list.
5. Miller Lite, 96 calories, 4.2 percent ABV
This is the best American macro-light.
4. Sam Adams Light: 119 calories, 4.3 percent ABV
This is a disappointing showing for a beer that should have been a ringer. The Boston Beer Company is the only legitimate craft brewer that makes a nationally distributed light beer, and while Sam Light is fine, it should be better. Despite the label’s claim that it’s a whole different beer, it resembles a limp, watered-down version of the flagship Boston Lager, which is to say it resembles Yuengling. It’s very sweet, with a strong suggestion of candied orange peels and very little discernible hops. Its greatest strength is its lack of glaring weaknesses.
3. Labatt Blue Light: 108 calories per 11.5 ounces, 4 percent ABV
Blue Light is surprisingly ambitious and assertive, showing enough bite to resemble a credible Czech pils. There’s a slightly off-putting soapiness on the finish, but Labatt Blue Light is still one of my world’s best light beers.
2. Kirin Light: 95 calories, 3.3 percent ABV
It turns out that this Japanese impostor is brewed domestically by Anheuser-Busch, which likely contributes to its superfresh taste. Kirin Light is so crisp and lively it reminds me of prosecco that’s been open for an hour at an all-you-can-mimosa brunch place. The tart apple and biscuity yeast character are unusual for a light lager, but slightly faded prosecco is better than most light beers.
1. Molson Canadian Light: 120 calories, 3.9 percent ABV
The best light beer I’ve ever had is floral, dainty, and a tiny bit grapey up front, with a clean, dry finish. Molson Canadian Light is merely a good beer, which makes it a great light beer.
So there’s your list. What does it all mean? Well, it means Canadians have another reason to show off their unique blend of smug humility. But since I’m an easy grader who struggled to find anything good to say about most of these beers, it might also mean we shouldn’t drink so damn much light beer. Six of the eight best selling beers in America are light lagers, but market share is starting to fall as we gravitate toward better beers and other liquors. Even dedicated beer drinkers looking to slough off enough donut padding to fit into their button pants have better options.
Guinness has 125 calories per 12 ounces, compared to Bud Light’s 110 and Michelob Light’s 122. Wouldn’t you rather have 98 percent of a Guinness than all of a Mich Light? A beer’s calories correlate very strongly to its alcohol percentage (which is why Bud 55 and Miller 64 are half-strength), so the tastiest way to cut down on beer calories is to seek out low-alcohol offerings from good breweries.
Will Gordon loves life and tolerates dissent. He lives in Cambridge, Mass., and has visited all of the other New England states, including, come to think of it, Vermont. Find him on Twitter @WillGordonAgain.
Calabasas Illustrious Artist of the Year 2016
Thank you to Mayor Bozajian, the Calabasas City Council and all those at the Arts Council. It is an honor to be recognized among all of my peers.
December 17, 2017: Picture Today
Today is the birthday of Jorge Mario Bergoglio, beloved by the people, Pope Francis. Ad multos annos!
“If investments in banks fall, it is a tragedy, and people say, ‘What are we going to do?’ but if people die of hunger, have nothing to eat or suffer from poor health, that’s nothing.”
February 8, 2018: Picture Today
John Perry Barlow died yesterday. Grateful Dead lyricist, internet pioneer, visionary, rancher, poet, Barlow lived a lot of life in 70 years. On October 3, 1977, his thirtieth birthday (an age he never expected to reach) he penned the following Principles of Adult Behavior.
“Think this through with me and let me know your mind. Whao, oh, what I want to know is …are you kind?” – Uncle John’s Band
March 15, 2018: Picture Today
White Sands, New Mexico…
Or, actually a large photo of White Sands above the bed in my hotel room in Las Cruces, NM. Cool though, right?
October 10, 2017 : Picture Today
May 14, 2018: Picture Today
Photograph by Todd Langley. Todd was one of the cooler artists I met this weekend in Allen. He captures art historical black and white images like this one with a toy plastic camera. It’s all in-camera, no Photoshop or fancy digital effects. Read about it and see his work at http://www.tlangley.com
May 13, 2018: Picture Today
Wall quote at Watters Creek, Allen TX. Perhaps more true on non-art festival days but Pavarotti was definitely on to something. Allen Art Festival till 5 pm today.
May 16, 2018
Motel California , Acrylic on canvas, 36×36 inches.
“Cool Allen Show Artist No. 2”
Also at the show last weekend was painter Rachel Dory. Rachel is s fellow transplant from Washington State who moved to Austin five years ago. Her paintings explore roadside America, in between spaces and the slight disorientation that comes when we pass through them. Read about her work and see her paintings at http://www.racheldory.com.
May 17, 2018: Picture Today
Today is Navy Day in Argentina so here is a list of Cheap Beers Brewed in America, Ranked From Worst to Best, as compiled by Will Gordon for Deadspin a few years back.
36 Cheap American Beers Ranked
36. Keystone. This is the worst beer currently sold on American soil. It sits behind chilled glass in a convenience-store fridge like a dumb rebuke to the explosion of American beer variety all around it. In 1978 there were 89 breweries in the U.S.; today there are more than 2,400, and most of the new ones are better than most of the old ones. In 2013 craft beer is no longer the exclusive domain of West Coast weirdos and psychotic woodsmen. These fine days you can score Samuel Adams or Sierra Nevada at the least ambitious of convenience stores and Dogfish Head 90 Minute on the least reliable of trains. And then there is Keystone, which first appeared to the world in 1989, in Chico, Calif., home of the Sierra Nevada Brewing Company. Keystone separates itself from the rest of the crap pack by augmenting the typical stale/sour flavor profile with notes of brown bananas and green armpits. Keystone is worse than Heineken and murder.35. Bud Light Lime. When Anheuser-Busch spit this one out a few years ago it seemed like a pretty good idea, as terrible ideas go. The world never needs more flavors of Bud Light, but the popularity of the otherwise worthless Corona proves that folks love to limen up their beers. Barroom fruit is repulsive—ever think about where your lime’s been before it lands in your drink? Nowhere nice—so if Bud Light Lime were any good at all, it would be a little leap forward. But alas, the alleged lime flavoring in no way resembles people food. Bud Light Lime tastes like green Froot Loops soaked in thigh sweat.
34. Genesee Cream Ale. Man, do I want to like Genny Cream. Man, do I not like Genny Cream. I’m a sucker for old-timey regional budget brew, but this is awfully rough stuff. It doesn’t even have the dignity to go down swinging with a signature blend of gross flavors, a la Keystone. Genny Cream is just the archetypal stale cardboard crud-juice.
33. Rolling Rock. Smells like three fat guys in a two-man tent.
32. Beer 30. Bonus points for the purple can. No points for anything else.
31. Miller High Life. This is what the bartenders and cool people in my neighborhood drink, and god bless them, I wish I could too. The bottle! The name! The “Champagne of Beers” tagline! But it’s just too accidentally sour.
30. Schlitz. I loved Schlitz until a few years ago, when they made a big fuss about reintroducing the “Classic 60s Formula,” which tastes yeasty and sweet, like an infected donut.
29. National Bohemian. As one of the few Americans who’s never seen The Wire or flashed my tits at the Preakness, I’m largely shut out of the Baltimore conversation, but I HAVE had a Natty Bo, which qualifies me to say, Sure, I get it, hometown pride is nice sometimes. But you do know there are other beers, right?
28. Game Day Ice Ale. Not as bad as 7-Eleven’s private label ice beer could be, but still: Do Juggalos have their own special beer? Because if not, I nominate this to be the special Juggalo beer.
27. Miller Genuine Draft. Tastes like the brown ends of corn silk, plus lemon.
26. Bud Light. Tastes like printer paper and often gives the impression of unfreshness, which is alarming given the high turnover. There’s a very good chance you and Bud Light will join forces at some point over the holiday weekend, and that’s all well and good, but please don’t take it into the bathroom with you. I used to clean bar bathrooms, and an overwhelming majority of the bottles left in the john at the end of the night were Bud Light. Bud Light dudes are afraid of leaving their beer unattended, as if they have reason to worry about the fate of unattended beers. I suppose there’s something apt about these beers ending the night on top of a urinal. It’s like a little story about the nitrogen cycle.
25. Yuengling. Why are people so into Yuengling? It’s quite popular among the Pennsylvania ex-pat community, which is odd given that the beer sucks and Pennsylvanians don’t strike me as an excessively prideful or self-important lot.
24. Busch Light. This is for the sort of person who buys tube socks at the bus stop. Like on the one hand, all right, good job holding it together enough to get some brand-new socks on your feet. But then on the other hand, I can’t help but point out that if you’d been a little more rigorous in planning your day, you wouldn’t be buying socks at the bus stop.
23. Natural Ice. The soggy cardboard sensation fades after the first several cans, turning Natty Ice into a serviceable alternative to sobriety.
22. Stroh’s. The royal blue Stroh’s can is truly majestic, but the beer itself is disconcertingly greasy. It doesn’t taste like much one way or the other, but it’s marred by a rubbery slickness that leaves your tongue feeling like third-day deli ham.
21. Natural Light. I drank a lot of this in high school. Do high school kids still drink cheap beer, or is it all the lemonade alcopop bullshit for the lightweights and Four Loko (and the myriad Loko-alikes) for the bad kids? Or worse yet, is it all reefer and pills? I sucked at being a teenager, but I feel like I had the “drinking cheap beer by a fire in the woods” part down cold. If they’ve changed that step of the program I’ll have nothing useful to offer my hypothetical future teens.
20. Milwaukee’s Best. It’s easy to mock the Beast, but it’s all I drank in college and I turned out.
19. Busch. Aw, come on, Busch isn’t so bad. Let’s say you’re a stepdad, probably named Ron, and you’re a Bud man. Good living—until your Jet Ski needs a new fuel pump and you’re fresh out of Jet Ski fuel-pump cash. You think you’re fucked, but then you realize you can just step it down to Busch for a few weeks and bang, back in the lake. Now who’s too cool for Busch?
18. Keystone Light. Well I’ll be damned if this isn’t a marked improvement over regular Keystone. The rotting fruit and flesh are stripped away to leave a regular, boring light beer that’s a viable option if you’re looking to drink your way into Speedo shape one beer at a time.
17. Old Milwaukee. This was the first beer I ever hated, but that was back in my stupid youth, when I expected more out of life. Turns out Old Milwaukee is plenty good enough for the likes of me.
16. Iron City. Weird that Mr. Rogers and Mr. Roethlisberger represent the same city.
15. Simpler Times. This is Trader Joe’s house lager. It’s all right.
14. Name Tag. This is also Trader Joe’s house lager.
12. Coors Light. Is Ice Cube broke? Seems unlikely, but it’s the only acceptable excuse for those shameful ads wherein the baddest rapper of my childhood loses an argument to a fucking beer bottle. I had a Coors Light last week, though, and it’s better than I remembered. If you base your beer choices on the CEO’s politics—and I suppose you might as well—then you probably have an opinion on Head Pete in Charge’s staunch conservatism, as well as the company’s scummy labor history. Okie doke.
11. Medalla Light. Puerto Rican beer is American beer, buster. I drank a hundred million of these on my honeymoon and I suggest you do the same.
10. Schaefer. When I was a very young buck, the Patriots played in Schaefer Stadium. Now the stadium’s better and so is the team, but I experience a rare wave of nostalgia when I think of the bygone era when the stadium was named for America’s oldest lager and the tight ends didn’t kill people.
9. Olympia. This one smells a little bit like the produce section of a carpeted grocery store, but it goes down pretty smooth otherwise.
8. Lone Star. Shit, I wish I had a big, brash opinion about this one, but it’s the most middle-of-the-road thing ever to come out of Oklahoma’s southern sister. It’s good in certain applications, such as when it’s a thousand degrees out or you’re trying to avoid Corona and margarita slushies at a license-plates-on-the-wall restaurant.
7. Rainier. This is on the sweet side of mediocre, but it’s a bright, clean kind of sugar that tells soothing lies about freshness and purity.
6. Miller Lite. My dad drank most of the world’s stock of Miller Lite before his untimely passing, but you can still get your grubby mitts on a can or two if you know the right people and wait in the right lines. A lot of suckers say it tastes like nothing, but I say it tastes like Barney Miller and Little League.
5. Pabst Blue Ribbon. It took me a few years to come around on PBR, probably because I was the sort of dipshit who worried about what message my beer was sending. Now that I’m liberated from such petty concerns, I can tell the world, “Hey, look at me spend $14 to get all-day drunk on clean, nondescript beer that tastes like Budweiser is supposed to.”
4. Utica Club. This has a fair bit going on, flavor-wise, which is risky business. Less is usually much more in this price category, but UC is the rare cheapie that pulls off its dangerous ambition. This Central New Yorker’s unique vegetal maltiness is much better than the phrase “unique vegetal maltiness” suggests. I’ll never write their marketing copy, but I’ll always drink their beer.
3. Coors. You don’t see much yellow-canned original Coors Banquet Beer in Boston, which is a small shame, since it’s a half-step better than its direct competitors. See above regarding Nazis and unions and what not.
2. Narragansett. This resurrected New England legend was prominently featured in Jaws, then went away for a couple decades, and is now prominently featured in my refrigerator.
1. Grain Belt Premium. I always think of Minnesota as a secretly sexy place, and not just because of Kent Hrbek and Al Franken. Maybe it’s all the trout and music and Lutherans. Toss in a smooth, creamy, and dreamy local budget brew like Grain Belt and it’s a wonder Minnesota hasn’t seceded to form its own naked blond utopia. Grain Belt Premium is America’s finest cheap beer.
Will Gordon loves life and tolerates dissent. He lives in Cambridge, Mass., and has visited all of the other New England states if you don’t count Vermont. Find him on Twitter @WillGordonAgain.
March 12, 2018: Picture Today
Truth or Consequences, New Mexico. Explored the town and soaked in the hot mineral springs. Listening to Grateful Dead: Dark Star, Olympia Theatre – Paris, France 5/4/72.
March 20, 2018: Picture Today
Today is the birthday of Mister Rogers.
Fred McFeely Rogers was born 90 years ago today, March 20, 1928. He was a real life Saint, or as close as we will see in our time. A Saint in a sweater, we need him now more than ever.
November 24, 2017: Picture Today
I know it was a narrow path… But damn, when did we get so far off of it?
February 22, 2018: Picture Today
Today is the birthday of George Washington. This birthday was a holiday when I was a kid. That was before we made three day weekends and honored all the presidents, whether they deserved honor or not. By all accounts Washington was a great and substantial and significant character. A man of integrity.* His life and legacy are the direct antithesis of the degraded office and dissipated character of the current president whom we were supposed to recognize last Monday as one of the 44 who came after the First.
“I hope I shall possess firmness and virtue enough to maintain what I consider the most enviable of all titles, the character of an honest man.”
*note: Washington was, by no means, a perfect man nor model. He owned slaves! A man of his times, he is to be judged and condemned along with his times. Still, he was a great man among great men.
(Portrait above by Ken Corbett, after the iconic portrait of Washington by Gilbert Stuart)
Easter Sunday, April 1, 2018
LaNana Creek Trail, Nacogdoches. It’s no substitute for the hike to Fragrance Lake up above Chuckanut Bay where I’ve spent dozens of Easter Sundays over the last years, but it was a great walk just the same. Beginning at Main Street the trail follows an old track used by the Caddo Indians along LaNana Creek for 3.5 miles ending at the arboretum of Stephen F. Austin University. The faint sounds of traffic in the distance and the faint smell of Easter barbecues are the only indications that I’m not in the deep woods somewhere. I like this town.
Bonus Easter photos:
The “Eyes of Father Margil” at LaNana Creek, site of the miracle of long ago.
LaNana Creek still running brown from recent rains.
Easter cigar spot. Swinging chairs overlooking the creek.