The Midnight Miner In the Secret Seams

“Here, are the stiffening hills, here, the rich cargo
Congealed in the dark arteries,
Old veins
That hold Glamorgan’s blood.
The midnight miner in the secret seams,
Limb, life, and bread.

Rhondda Valley
― Mervyn Peake, Collected Poems

Lignite Mining Mural Fair Park Dallas, Texas

Lignite Mining
Fair Park
Dallas, Texas

One of my favorite things in Dallas are the little-known Art Deco Murals along the Esplanade in Fair Park. Half-restored, few people see them, although millions visit during the state fair. They are hidden by the porticoes along the row of buildings – you have to get up underneath to see them.

And you should.

Of Obedience, Faith, Adhesiveness

OF obedience, faith, adhesiveness;
As I stand aloof and look, there is to me something profoundly affecting in large masses of men, following the lead of those who do not believe in men.
—-Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass, 79 Thought

Adhesiveness (detail) David Hockney Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth

Adhesiveness (detail)
David Hockney
Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth

Label Text:

David Hockney
British, born 1937

Adhesiveness, 1960
Oil on board
Museum purchase
When David Hockney painted Adhesiveness, he was concerned with creating works that reflected the lessons of modernist abstraction but also contained recognizable imagery. To this end, he began writing on his paintings, utilizing words, letters, and numerals as signposts to their content. This period of Hockney’s work is situated between the Expressionism of Francis Bacon and the emergence of Pop art, which Hockney would help pioneer in Europe and later in the United States.

Adhesiveness is an homage to the American poet Walt Whitman, who used the prenological term first to describe love among men and later to describe an ideal in which not only the States would be bonded, but the world at large could be unified. In the early 1960s Hockney began to allude to his homosexuality in his work, and the symbols he has included in Adhesiveness are clues to this aspect of his life. Whitman, too, was homosexual, and here Hockney borrows from the poet a childlike numeric code for initials, identifying one figure as himself (4.8 = D.H.) and the other as Whitman (23.23) – W.W.). Hockney created a number of compositions at this time that depict personal relationships (real or imaginary), a theme he has explored throughout his career and is now strongly associated with his art.

Its Own Existence Whether It’s Noticed Or Not.

My attitude is, I make the sculpture in the studio on my own terms on my own time, and I want to see it go out of the studio and have its own existence whether it’s noticed or not.
—-Tony Cragg

Tony Cragg's "Line of Thought" Dallas, Texas

Tony Cragg’s “Line of Thought”
Dallas, Texas

Ever since I saw his exhibition at the Nasher a few years ago, I have been a fan of Tony Cragg. It was a tough time for me and visiting his sculpture meant something to me – it gave me an ethereal comfort. I think I found it reassuring that independently beauty still existed in the world.

Then I shot his work in the sculpture garden of the Dallas Museum of Art. Earlier this year, I found another work I liked in a museum in Houston.

At any rate, it is one thing to see sculpture in a museum or gallery – in a carefully-prepared setting – it is something entirely different to see sculpture in the wild… especially unexpectedly.

We were riding through Uptown Dallas at night on the monthly Critical Mass Ride, when I spotted a large sculpture out in front of a fancy office building – and it was undoubtedly a Tony Cragg. It was really cool to see, even if I had to keep on pedaling on.

Later, it didn’t take much internet searching to determine that the sculpture was Tony Cragg’s “Line of Thought” out in front of the Rosewood Court Complex. It has been there for a number of years, but I had never noticed it. Of course, that isn’t really my hood….

The weekend of the Uptown Ciclovía, where a street through uptown was closed to automobiles I made a point of finding the Rosewood Court (the Ciclovia route went right by it) and stopped to look and take a photo.

It was cool finding Cragg in the wild.

Tony Cragg's "Line of Thought" Dallas, Texas

Tony Cragg’s “Line of Thought”
Dallas, Texas

If Music Be the Food Of Love, Play On

If you go down to Deep Elem
Just to have a little fun,
You’d better have your fifteen dollars
When the policeman come.

“If music be the food of love, play on,
Give me excess of it; that surfeiting,
The appetite may sicken, and so die.”
― William Shakespeare, Twelfth Night

If you go down to Deep Elem,
Keep your money in your shoes;
The women in Deep Elem
Got those Deep Elem blues.

Glass from Wine Walk Deep Ellum Dallas, Texas

Glass from Wine Walk
Deep Ellum
Dallas, Texas

One of my favorite things is the Deep Ellum Wine Walk – you should check it out.

If you go down to Deep Elem,
Take your money in your pants;
The women in Deep Elem
Never give the men a chance.

“And I thought about how many people have loved those songs. And how many people got through a lot of bad times because of those songs. And how many people enjoyed good times with those songs. And how much those songs really mean. I think it would be great to have written one of those songs. I bet if I wrote one of them, I would be very proud. I hope the people who wrote those songs are happy. I hope they feel it’s enough. I really do because they’ve made me happy. And I’m only one person.”
― Stephen Chbosky, The Perks of Being a Wallflower

Now I once knew a preacher,
Preached the Bible through and through,
He went down into Deep Elem,
Now his preaching days are through.

“People worry about kids playing with guns, and teenagers watching violent videos; we are scared that some sort of culture of violence will take them over. Nobody worries about kids listening to thousands – literally thousands – of songs about broken hearts and rejection and pain and misery and loss.”
― Nick Hornby, High Fidelity

Now I once had a sweet gal,
Lord, she meant the world to me;
She went down into Deep Elem;
She ain’t what she used to be.

Her papa’s a policeman
And her mama walks the street;
Her papa met her mama
When they both were on the beat.

USB Dead Drop

I have been sort-of interested in… and planning to write about the idea of guerrilla publishing – using modern technology to distribute text in new and unusual ways. In that vein, one day I was surfing around this internet thing and stumbled across an article entitled Dead Drops: What To Do If You See A USB Stick Sticking Out Of A Wall.

This seemed very interesting to me, so I researched the whole idea some more. What you do is leave a USB thumb drive in a public place – like cemented into a wall – with the business end sticking out. Then people can come by and drop off any files they want. The term “Dead Drop” comes from the spy world – where information is dropped off to be picked up by someone else.

There are plenty of problems with this: the USB drive is susceptible to thievery or vandalism, there is the possibility of a virus or other software attack, and finally is the simple uselessness and strangeness of the idea.

These seem surmountable objections to me, so I’m working on plans to put out my own USB Dead Drop.

In the meantime, I wanted to explore the idea further. There is a website with a database, and I found a working Dead Drop here in Dallas. It is in a wall in Exposition Park and was placed there as part of an art project.

Dead Drop, The red arrow points to the USB drive mounted in the wall.

Dead Drop, The red arrow points to the USB drive mounted in the wall.

The USB drive sticking out of the wall.

The USB drive sticking out of the wall.

So today, after a fun bike ride around White Rock Lake and to a local Taco Place, I headed on down toward Fair Park to visit the Dead Drop. It was very easy to find.

In order to protect myself from a possible virus, I used a cheap Android Tablet that I carry with a portable keyboard to write with while I’m on my bike. It has a three-headed USB cable that I usually use for a keyboard and mouse.

My tablet hooked up to the Dead Drop USB. It was very hard to see in the bright sunlight.

My tablet hooked up to the Dead Drop USB. It was very hard to see in the bright sunlight.

It hooked up easily to the USB mounted in the wall. The one problem was that the screen was very difficult to see in the bright Texas sunlight – I kept having to retreat to a shady spot to figure out what I was doing.

There wasn’t much on the thumb drive – three odd images (no porn, surprisingly), a long politically charged video, and a PDF written by someone recovering from a broken relationship.

I wanted to leave something behind, so I copied a PDF – a four page short story that I had written (I didn’t include my name) onto the thumb drive and chose an odd image to add to the ones already there. Someone parked on the street right next to me as I was finishing up – the woman gave me an odd look. I’m sure she was very confused about this weird guy standing on the sidewalk with a tablet hooked up to the wall with a cable.

So no big deal… Now I need to stop by the computer store and buy a thumb drive…. I have an idea where I want to put the thing.