The Pulp Tarot

“I stayed up all night playing poker with tarot cards. I got a full house and four people died.”
― Steven Wright

Box Cover from Todd Alcott’s Pulp Tarot

I guess it started when I was in college. A friend of mine, a woman I had more than a little crush on, offered to do a Tarot card reading for me. Now I am not what you would call a mystical person, I don’t believe in any supernatural power of a Tarot deck (or much of anything else, really) but I have an open mind. I don’t remember any of what she said… but I do remember enjoying the reading, enjoying it a lot.

So over the many (too many) intervening decades I always had a soft spot for the Tarot cards. As I learned more about the world I came to realize that there can be power in the cards that have nothing to do with supernatural influence. There is wisdom in mythical archetypes… and a set of cards can be a tool to help draw truth out from the subconscious fog.

And then I stumbled across a book at the library – The Creative Tarot by Jessa Crispin. It opened me up to the idea of using a Tarot deck to generate ideas for stories or other fiction. I bought a Rider-Smith-Waite traditional deck and found that it worked surprisingly well.

In the meantime, I discovered an artist, Todd Alcott – that did work I really enjoyed. His most common work are fake pulp book covers based on music. I haven’t bought anything yet – mostly because I like all of it and can’t decide. Take a look at his Etsy Store – there is some great stuff there.

Then I discovered that he had a Kickstarter and had done a Tarot deck in his personal style – The Pulp Tarot. I wanted one, wanted it bad – but I was too late – all the copies were sold.

Card Zero from Todd Alcott’s Pulp Tarot

Then, not too long ago, I was monitoring Todd Alcott’s Instagram Page and discovered he had a second printing of his Tarot deck out. I ordered it immediately.

My deck came in the mail today. It’s pretty damn cool. It’s like having seventy-eight little paintings in a cool box.

I can see myself collecting Tarot decks – I hope not… but maybe….

Returning to… if not normal then what?

“In individuals, insanity is rare; but in groups, parties, nations and epochs, it is the rule.”

― Friedrich Nietzsche

Turning and turning in the widening gyre   

The falcon cannot hear the falconer;

Things fall apart;

the centre cannot hold;

Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,

—-William Butler Yeats, The Second Coming

The line to buy artwork immediately grows to fill the gallery.

I forget how long it has been since the world has gone mad. When I go out, I am astonished to see how mad it has gone.

Every year I like to go the the For the Love of Kettle competitive shopping event at The Kettle Gallery in Deep Ellum

The best way to understand this is to read my 2014 Blog entry, The Weird and Wicked World of the Singing Cowboy

The Weird and Wicked World of the Singing Cowboy by Clay Stinnett

I went every year, sometimes successful, sometimes not so… I didn’t write about it every year, but sometimes I did.

2016 Getting A Ross

Tethered to an Upside Down Giant by Richard Ross

2019 A Competitive Shopping Event

Painting #1 – by Brad Allbright
Day of the Dead skull by David Pech.

2020 A Very Human Way of Making Life More Bearable

“How We Measure Our Days” by Lisa Huffaker

Last year, of course, they did not have an event. I was excited this year to go back again.

Candy looked over the paintings that were listed on the facebook page and gave me a list of four to look for – pick one. There is no guarantee.

The DART ride down there was awful. Post COVID – the trains are overrun with insanity. I used to enjoy riding public transportation, but not any more. The cars reek of weed. Every car and every stop has at least on lunatic screaming and cursing.

There is track maintenance going on so the train had to empty and one stop, load onto a shuttle bus, ride to another stop, and get back on. The trip downtown took me almost two hours.

The worst was at the Lover’s Lane station. A lunatic roared across the platform pushing a stolen shopping cart full of shit – mostly broken pieces of plywood – cursing and screaming. He stopped a few yards down the line and stood there screaming and throwing stuff onto the tracks. When the train arrived, loaded and left, it paused at a street, waiting for the bar to lower, right next to this guy. He continued to scream the most awful obscenities while beating on the driver’s window with a big hunk of plywood. The train held several families on their way to the Mavericks basketball game – I doubt they will take the train again.

I made it to the gallery about an hour before the event was to begin – later than I planned, but I still was about the tenth person in line.

Line in front of the Kettle gallery starting up, an hour before the doors open.
The rules of the competitive shopping event, posted in the window.

I always enjoy talking to the people in line and the hour went quickly. Luckily the weather was good – only a little chilly.

We all ran in and I chose my artworks. Unfortunately, the numbers were small and black on silver, and my ancient eyes could not make them out. I had trouble finding the artworks Candy had picked out – this slowed me down and by the time I reached the counter, three-quarters of the artworks were already sold. I discovered that I had written a number down wrong, and had purchased a random artwork (this has happened to me before – my handwriting is so bad when I’m rushed).

In the end, I had a good time, though I’m not completely satisfied with the two artworks I bought. But they will go onto the wall where my choices from the past are arrayed… and will look fine alongside the others.

But I still have this frightening feeling that everything is spiraling out of control… the world is going to shit.

Swans and Brompton

“His own image; no longer a dark, gray bird, ugly and disagreeable to look at, but a graceful and beautiful swan. To be born in a duck’s nest, in a farmyard, is of no consequence to a bird, if it is hatched from a swan’s egg.”

― Hans Christian Andersen, The Ugly Duckling

Artwork and a mobile sculpture

Brompton Folding Bike

Cedars Open Studio Tour

I Wanna Hold Your Hand

“You know the reason The Beatles made it so big?…’I Wanna Hold Your Hand.’ First single. Fucking brilliant. Perhaps the most fucking brilliant song ever written. Because they nailed it. That’s what everyone wants. Not 24/7 hot wet sex. Not a marriage that lasts a hundred years. Not a Porsche…or a million-dollar crib. No. They wanna hold your hand. They have such a feeling that they can’t hide. Every single successful song of the past fifty years can be traced back to ‘I Wanna Hold Your Hand.’ And every single successful love story has those unbearable and unbearably exciting moments of hand-holding.”

― David Levithan, Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist

Sculptural Installation, Artist: Hobbes Vincent

Hobbes Vincent Homepage

Cedars Open Studio Tour

I Bruised Myself Against My Madness

“I walked into my own book, seeking peace.

It was night, and I made a careless movement inside the dream; I turned too brusquely the corner and I bruised myself against my madness.”

― Anaïs Nin, House of Incest

Sculptural Installation, Artist: Hobbes Vincent

Hobbes Vincent Homepage

Cedars Open Studio Tour

Ten Years Later, The Eye of Sauron Still Shines

In April of 2012, I wrote this entry on the destruction of the Nasher Sculpture Center by the Luxury High rise condo tower next door – ironically called “The Museum Tower.”

Baked Art From an Upscale Solar Cooker

And for me personally, this wasn’t even the worst part. As the tower grew, it destroyed my favorite work of art – Tending (Blue), by James Turrell. You can read about that here:

The End of Tending (Blue)

Today, the Dallas Morning News has an article about the decade-long horror:

Ten years later, ‘The Glare’ from Museum Tower continues to bedevil the Nasher Sculpture Center

Some quotes:

It revealed itself with a white-hot intensity on Sept. 26, 2011. No one knew what it was — how it got there or where it came from. But all of those answers soon revealed themselves, giving The Glare, as it came to be known, a permanent place in Dallas history.

The Glare is still there, but a decade later — the 10th anniversary of this infamous discovery is Sunday — Dallas continues to be amazed by its force and power and the casualties left in its wake.

The Glare is not an invention of Stephen King, and yet, it had (continues to have) a sci-fi effect on the Nasher Sculpture Center, whose walls on a sunny day look as though they’re stricken with measles. The Glare is the shiny reflection emanating from the glass exterior of the building next door, 42-story Museum Tower, which in 2011 was under construction.

We turned to the Nasher for comment and got in response this statement, from its director of external affairs, Jill Magnuson:

“We are obviously disappointed that at this milestone the reflective glare from Museum Tower’s façade continues to have a negative impact on the Nasher Sculpture Center’s indoor and outdoor galleries. Nevertheless, we remain committed to working toward the restoration of our original conditions and are hopeful with technology innovations that we can realize this solution as we continue to serve this community as a vital educational and cultural resource.”

We promise to check in again on Sept. 26, 2031.

I doubt I will be around to check in.

The Museum Tower Condominiums tower over Tony Cragg’s “Lost in Thought”

I have been a huge fan of the Nasher Sculpture Center since it was built. I go there all the time. It is truly one of the most comfortable, wonderful, and amazing public spaces I’ve ever seen. Family friendly , educational, beautiful, and a marvelous host to public gatherings – it was a thoughtful and generous gift from Raymond Nasher to the people of the city.

One of the goals of creating the Dallas Arts District, of which the Nasher is a linchpin, was to attract the high-end buzz of the wealthy clientele that enjoy throwing their millions around in order to wallow in the coolness of timeless art. These folks are hard to pry away from the coasts or the ancient alleyways of Europe but a roadfull of expensive venues and billions of dollars of paintings and sculptures was the lure. And so they come. The first habitat for these rare birds is the shiny new Museum Tower, reaching skyward from an odd oval of property where a Woodall Rogers Freeway ramp arced up and around.

Now I have no problem with that. I’m not a wealthy person and will never be. I have to beg and save just to buy a pen, for example. Most of the art scene I enjoy comes on Free Thursdays and Half-Price weekend and such as that, when the upper crust retreats and allows the hoi polloi to enter and tread their hallowed halls. I depend on the charity or at least the indifference of the wealthy patrons – I exist on their scraps – like a roach under the cabinets I scurry out when they aren’t looking for any crumbs that might be left behind.

So if someone wants to build a tower and charge millions of dollars for a two bedroom apartment – so be it. I applaud their industry, toast their imagination, and do not begrudge them their profits. If they want to call their property The Museum Tower – in order to capitalize on its location right next to the Nasher, fine. If they want to charge an extra million dollars per unit simply so the residents can use the museum garden as their side yard – complete with landscaping and a billion in modern sculpture – great. There is plenty of room and if you don’t mind standing next to me, I don’t mind standing next to you.

But don’t forget what side of the bread you’re putting the butter on. Without the museum there is no Museum Tower. Without the arts, there is no Arts District. Do not roast the goose that lays the golden eggs.

It started out with Tending (blue). The high rise stuck it’s ugly head right up into the viewport of James Turrell’s skyspace sculpture, my favorite spot at the Nasher and the best place to watch the sunset in the Metroplex. But, I’ve written about that before. (go read it)

An oversight, perhaps… pretty damn sloppy, though, if you ask me. You spend that much money on a building, make that much profit, can’t you figure out ahead of time that it’s going to ruin a great work of art? Or do you realize it and simply not say anything until it’s too late. Turrell can fix it, maybe, but when? He’s got other things to do.

And now, it’s happened again. And it’s a lot more serious this time.

They have put the mirrored cladding on the building and it is reflecting so much extra sunlight into the building at the Nasher that they are having to install shades simply to allow the newest sculptures in the room. Sunlight destroys art – but is necessary for art and the Nasher has always been very proud of it’s carefully engineered sunscreen roof. The architect spent a lot of time and effort designing a structure that allowed light for viewing in while blocking the damaging direct rays of the Texas sun. It was a brilliant triumph of design and construction and made for a world-famous light and airy museum that was a strong point of pride for the entire city.

It was a brilliant triumph until a few weeks ago when someone installed a giant mirror reaching five hundred  feet into the sky right next door that shot laser beams of killer sunlight into the Nasher from an entirely unexpected direction.

Read the articles:

Nasher to Museum Tower: Watch Your Glass, It’s Frying Us

Watch Your Glass, It’s Frying Us, Continued

Museum Tower Reflected Light Study

Nasher Sculpture Center says glare from Museum Tower is causing harm

Museum Tower Begins Visual Assault on James Turrell’s Tending, (Blue)

Mayor wades into uproar over Museum Tower’s glare

Museum Tower Glare Threatens Nasher Art

Nobody ever clicks on links, so here’s the skinny from the Dallas Morning News:

Officials at the Nasher Sculpture Center say that reflective glass recently installed on the exterior of Museum Tower, its new, 42-story neighbor in the Arts District, is compromising its indoor galleries, destroying its outdoor garden and threatening its future as a Dallas landmark.

Now under construction at the corner of Olive Street and Woodall Rodgers Freeway, Museum Tower heralds its proximity to the “tranquil garden” of the Nasher as a prime selling point for its residential units, which cost between $1 million and $5.4 million.

This makes me so angry I could spit. There is a city code that says, “A person shall not conduct a use that has a visible source of illumination that produces glare of direct illumination across a property line of an intensity that creates a nuisance or detracts from the use or enjoyment of the adjacent property.” For years I have had city inspectors quote much more obscure bits of code than this and made places I work do all sorts of crazy stuff.

But then again, the places I have worked have only employed thousands of ordinary people. They haven’t been home to a handful folks that can afford five million dollar apartments. They haven’t been owned by the Dallas Police and Fire Pension System (that’s who bought the tower).

When the Nasher was built, there was an agreement with Raymond Nasher, part of the covenant that helped him agree to build the museum and give his personal collection to the people of Dallas that stated the building next door would be a maximum of 21 stories and have a maximum reflectivity of 15. Now it is 42 stories with a reflectivity of 44.

So here we have a story of corporate greed and hidden scandal. Men like Raymond Nasher are no more.  I notice that mere months after he passed away – a new LA based architect was brought in to fuck things up and the tower doubled in size and reflectivity, causing all these problems -, about the time the City Pension System decided to make its purchase. I guess they knew then the city would not put up a fight. Mary Suhm, the Dallas City Manager says, “It’s not something we have jurisdiction over.” Well, she certainly knows which side of her bread is buttered.

Meanwhile, the art continues to bake and the goose that lays the golden egg is cooked. At least they are using green solar energy to do it.

A pole-sitting sculpture in front of a new Condo Tower going up.
The condominium tower going up next to the Nasher that is ruining Tending (blue).

Our Past Is Real

“Scars have the strange power to remind us that our past is real.”
Cormac McCarthy, All the Pretty Horses

Repaired cracked mural, Denton, Texas

Even artworks… no, especially works of art… develop cracks and hopefully will be repaired. Is the art lessened by this? Or does it add a greater dimension, one of time, pain, and disaster – if not avoided, refurbished.