Thursday, July 24, 2008

Van Gogh - Dark Genius

Vincent van Gogh was a very popular and influential painter and most of his pieces are known throughout the world. Some credit his genius to his mental illness or altered mind state. His bout with schizophrenia voracious appetite for absinthe may have lead to his excessive use of the color yellow. His medical conditions also led to him cutting off part of his ear and subsequently his suicide in 1890.

A melancholy or even dismal tone seems to mark his work, especially towards the end of his career. This period of his artistic life is what he is most remembered for. His painting style is characterized by his very strong deliberate strokes and his application of thick layers of paint on the canvas in order to add texture to his work. I get a feeling of dreary foreboding from some of his work, especially “Wheat Fields with Crows” which he painted the same year he took his life. His depictions of crows in this painting, which typically symbolize death or a bad omen, predicate his thoughts and desires. The audience’s point of view in the three van Gogh paintings above is one of overseeing a landscape. But one also gets the feeling that there is a desolate and oppressing mood of solitude that the painter is exhibiting. Although there may be other inhabitants in the distance, the viewer feels removed from any interaction with them. There is a quiet desperation in his work that leads me to believe that despite his notoriety, van Gogh was alone...

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Roof-Deck BBQ

What a great night! An old friend of mine invited me to a BBQ on the roof deck of his apartment building in the financial district on Sunday night. It sounded like fun so I called up the rest of the old crew, gave them the address and headed over to his place. I got there at about 10:30 and chatted with him while the rest of his guests started arriving. He has an awesome view of the Brooklyn Bridge from his deck and the weather was great so we were off to a good start. My boys show up and the food was pretty much done cooking so we started claiming the best pieces for ourselves, burgers, salmon, filet mignon… the works. The food was awesome, but soon after the natives started getting restless and needed something to wash it down with. Out comes the wine (Cabernet Sauvignon, followed by Pinot Grigio) and in come some hot French female guests (oui oui), followed by his extremely attractive blond half-Salvadorian neighbor. Needless to say the party was taken to another level.

We kill the wine, reach for the Grey Goose and what’s left of the soda and next thing you know everyone is talking like they knew each other for years. Old stories are shared, old school raps recited, voices and glasses are raised in unison in multiple toasts, and many drinks were spilled (the latter being most prevalent). It is all a blur at this point and I have the sneaking suspicion many candid photos were taken. This is when my world starting looking like the pics I shared above. Oh well, I guess I’ll have to check myspace to see if anything really bad pops up. All in all, friends old and new embraced, exchanged numbers, and I headed out the door to try and beat out the sunrise. I figured I would at least attempt to get one hour or so of sleep before having to get up for work. I definitely paid for it that morning, but I wouldn't have had it any other way…Good Times Baby!

Friday, July 18, 2008

Summer Ink?

The summer is here! Summer and how it affects us all is a wonderful thing… fun in the sun, trim and fit bodies, and that perfectly placed new tattoo. Tattoos have come along way. What was once reserved for biker gangs and ex-convicts in movies has become a way for us to express who we are. Young people get tattoos for different reasons ranging from wanting to show their individuality, fitting in with a group, to just thinking they look cool. Before you decide to go under the needle to get that ink you have been thinking about, there are a couple of things you should consider.

Since I am not an expert on the subject and it has been a while since I got my first tattoo, I decided to ask my tattoo artist, Christian Masot, about what to do or not do before you tattoo. Christian, whose career spans over nine years, is an artist at “Silk City Tattoo” located in Hawthorne, NJ. I sat down with him in the shop recently for some “real talk”, while some Chinese sci-fi movie was playing in the background, and asked him to provide some advice for prospective first-timers before they get drilled.

What kind of tattoo should I get? My suggestion would be to get a tattoo that you have looked at and liked for a while or something that you can’t stop thinking about. If it is your first tattoo, which is the hardest to get, you definitely don’t want to go with some random or a trendy piece. Trends can go out of style but your tattoo lasts forever. Most important piece of advice would be to trust your artist. Make suggestions but you should relax and try to be open some of the elements that your artist may have. If you work together you will end up with an amazing piece.

What about the pain, will it hurt? It really depends on the area being tattooed and the person. The skin right above a bone usually tends to be a bit more painful than others. You can expect to feel a constant vibration making the sensation feel like a road rash or slight burn as opposed to a needle poking you over and over again. Everyone’s pain tolerance is different so I can’t say exactly what it will be like for you.

What about cheaper amateur tattoos? Cheap tattoos aren’t always good and good tattoos aren’t always cheap. I would stay away from those twenty dollar tattoos in your buddy’s basement with Indian ink. Never go to anyone who isn’t a professional tattoo artist. Besides the chances of the inexperienced artist making a mistake, you run the risk of infection if he/she doesn’t use a disposable needle or sterilized equipment.

What about getting a tattoo after a night of drinking? You should never drink before getting tattoo. The alcohol clouds your judgment and you may end up with a tattoo that you’ll regret (like the name of some ex). The alcohol also acts as a blood thinner and can lead to excessive bleeding during your session and affecting the way your tattoo heals.

What about aftercare for the summer? There are a few things you may want to think about before enjoy the summer with your tattoos. Sun and water can be harmful to a fresh tattoo. If you want your investment to last, you have to take care of your ink.
Definitely avoid swimming in the pool, ocean or soaking in a bathtub, jacuzzi or hot tub for at least two weeks after getting your tattoo. The healing process needs to take its course before you have any prolonged water exposure. Soaking a new tattoo in water will loosen that protective layer that is formed during the healing process and you'll most likely be watching your art and investment go right down the drain.
Sun exposure should be avoided or at least kept to a minimum for a good two weeks after the tattoo is done. Sun can burn a fresh tattoo pretty quickly because the skin is exposed and the ointment that you're using to cover the tattoo will act as a catalyst for burning the skin even quicker than normal.
Once the tattoo is healed you MUST use sunblock on the area. Make sure that the tattoo is fully healed before using sunblock. It can cause major damage if you apply it before the tattoo is completely healed. If you're thinking ... 'But I don’t want a big white line around my tattoo from the sunblock’, try these options. Smaller tattoos are easier to cover because sometimes you can get away with just putting a band-aid or sticker over them to block the exposure. With larger tattoos, trace the outline the tattoo with high SPF chapstick or specialized tattoo SPF stick and then you have the option to fill in the rest of the area with a strong sunblock (at least 30) or with the same stick you used to outline. Just remember that the ink you have is an investment that should be taken care of.

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Thursday, July 17, 2008

In the beginning there was Jack...

And Jack had a groove, and from this groove came the groove of all grooves... Thats just a bit of oldschool house music for the house-heads out there.

This is only the beginning. I don't even know what to expect at this point. I have always thought about a bunch of topics, but never had a forum to express them... till now. This blog will cover who I'm feeling (or not feeling) musically right now, photography, art, politics (kept to a minimum), visual culture, current events and the like, or even personal reflections. So fasten your seatbelts and lets see where this ride takes us.

Down the rabbithole we go...