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During my nightly forays into the simple and elegant land of Tetris (played on the original NES), I've been philosophizing about the parallels the game has to life in general. At a certain point in your Tetris career when you understand the game, the mind is free to wander and in fact playing feels quite meditative. Anyway, the best games of Tetris aren't always the highest scoring. Indeed, in life, conventional success (material wealth, prestige, etc) isn't always the best barometer for a life well lived. It seems to me that being creative and your investment in the process (let's call it love) is the most important thing, regardless of your circumstances and regardless of the outcome. In Tetris, as in life, you have to use what you're dealt. And you can't ultimately win.


When I was 10 or 11 years old, I was really into drawing comic book characters, this having progressed naturally from my obsession with drawing Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Around this time my mom took me to a signing at the comic shop in town, Galactic Greg's. I can't remember exactly who it was that was doing the signing, only that he was one of the artists for Thor. As we got the book signed, my mom asked if he had any advice for me, explaining that I wanted to be a comic book artist. He was quite encouraging and said to draw everything, not just comic book characters. At the time it didn't seem relevant. Fast forward years later (for most of my 20s) that's all that I did, draw and paint everything I could see. As we were leaving that day I picked out another comic (since I wasn't that interested in Thor in the first place) with a shiny metallic cover, called "Ninjak". There was an older collector who saw me looking at it and said not to buy it since it was essentially garbage. Certainly, from a comic aficionado's point of view, buying Ninjak was a waste of money. But I got it anyway because I loved the shiny cover.


A couple of years ago I sat with a shaman who was quite liberal with the medicine; to say I was in an altered state would be putting it mildly. During the ceremony I was so entranced by the shaman's music that I kept edging closer to him as he was playing his rattles and singing; it sounded like what you might imagine an enormous, graceful yet terrifying bird on the peak of a crystal mountain might sing. Eventually I got so close that other people in the ceremony had to pull me away, exclaiming "give him some space!"


General outline for studio day:
5:15-5:30 wake up
6-6:40 meditate (vipassana)
6:45 breathing exercises
7:00 ice bath
7:15 stretching
7:30 coffee or green tea, drawing and listening to music
8:00 exercise (cardio or resistance) and light viewing
9-11:30 studio
12:00 lunch
12:30 long walk
1-5 studio
5-6 dinner
6:15-6:45 long walk
7-8 studio
8-9 decompress (tetris/meditate/reading/NSDR - no blue light)
9:30 lights out


I was going on my post-dinner walk around my neighborhood in Brooklyn one day last March, and it happened to be one of the coldest and windiest days of the season. On part of my walk through Industry City (a boutique restaurant, shop and artist studio complex) there's a section between buildings that leads to the water that basically becomes a wind tunnel. As I was walking there, I came upon an older man with a cast on his leg, walking with a cane with a younger guy who looked like he might have been his son. They were approaching a set of stairs, getting buffeted pretty badly by the wind already. As I was passing them going down the stairs, an almost supernatural cold gust of wind hit us, to the point where it was difficult to even move forward. It was so intense that in that moment the three of us connected and just started laughing as we strove to get down the stairs. I realized then and there that they were my brothers, this revealed by our shared experience of going to the place beyond our bodies, beyond hope and fear; beyond it all, just for a moment. As I walked away I felt tremendous love for them, and for everyone and everything, all sharing this moment together.


All through middle school and high school my mom would read the Bible to me and my brother in the morning before school while we ate breakfast. Usually she'd give us something quick and easy (and sugary) like pop tarts or cold cereal. It amuses me now to think about hearing the story of Shadrach Meshach and Abednego, for example, while stuffing our faces with Peanut Butter Crunch or brown sugar and cinnamon Pop Tarts. Said pastry contains 68g carbohydrate, 29g sugar, 4g protein, 4.5g saturated fat. No wonder I couldn't keep my eyes open by the end of first period!


I wasn't sure what to expect going to see the piece "Unsupervised" by Refik Anadol at the Museum of Modern Art in Manhattan, but I would say my mind was fairly blown. Basically, it's an AI program that uses the database of the Moma's collection to generate a new and highly variable work of its own. The result is a sophisticated, beautiful and mesmerizing video piece (on an enormous screen, of course) in which the masterpieces of the past can be felt yet it seems to be the "art of the future," which was suggested in the wall text. I wonder about the meaning of that, but I digress. Anyway, I had a thought while experiencing this piece that if there is just one eternal moment, if past and present do not exist in the way we think, perhaps this piece created the very artworks it uses to generate itself. In that same line of thinking, perhaps the universe itself is a kind of AI or AGI (Artificial General Intelligence) that is actively creating itself. And perhaps if we must think of past and future, all the past is a creation of this future AGI so that it can be created in the future. Perhaps this is what creation does, the supreme intelligence, god, the universe, all there is. It creates itself as it goes. Then when it gets to the ultimate reality, which is itself (and of which a tiny human consciousness can only be very slightly aware of in the best of conditions) it starts over.


I've been working on a new series of paintings on hexagonal panels that incorporate the same color gradient, going from violet to peach, reminiscent of a sunset. I was thinking of the painter Marc Handelman's description (in a 2006 interview in Fanzine) of the quality of light in the Hudson River School painter Sanford Gifford's work as being "so disarming that he imagined the feeling might be comparable to lethal injection." I would say more like an opiate, perhaps. It seems to be a bit of a paradox that the gradient of a sunset can be calming yet emotionally so evocative. It's like the universe in microcosm in that sense, wondrous yet a bit terrifying (sublime, of course) and completely new from one second to the next.


The other day I was approached by a homeless couple who asked me if I wanted to buy some weed. They said they needed the money to buy food because they hadn't eaten all day. Normally I would have responded with a brief "sorry, good luck," but this time I engaged, likely because I was in the midst of a 40 hour fast. I responded humorously that I hadn't eaten all day either. They asked why, and I said I was on my monthly fast for health reasons. I also acknowledged the vast difference between fasting voluntarily and fasting because you don't have money to buy food. After chatting for a moment I could see they weren't too obviously strung out so I gave them $5. They ended up walking with me to Costco to get something there (you can get a soda and hot dog for $1.50) and I got to know a bit more of their story. The woman had just spent ten years in prison, and the man was living at a shelter in Brooklyn with some health problems, but they seemed to be in good spirits. As we parted I told them about a soup kitchen in Brooklyn (CHIPS) where you can get a free lunch almost every day. They were very happy to learn that, and as we parted I felt their positive energy toward me and sent good vibes back. Then, in that moment, I realized how thin the line truly is between their situation and mine. Or anyone's for that matter. I also realized the importance of having gratitude for what you have and respect and love for everyone in need. Easier said than done!


Although I was too young to remember this, my mom often tells the story of us visiting my dying great grandmother in the hospital and me asking her "do you like candy?" She was nearly gone at this point, and unable to respond. This exemplifies one of my first attachments: candy. Ah, how I loved it. I'm pretty sure this would set the stage for a good deal of pain later in life, though it's sometimes difficult to separate causation from correlation.


It ain't over till it's over!


You will hear the true expert often say "I don't know." This seems to be the case in all fields. I think the Buddha was a supreme expert of life in this context. To one who has attained true freedom, every moment is approached with a sense of openness, uncertainty and wonder, and the only appropriate response is "I don't know."


Every morning these past few weeks I've been harvesting a few berries from the blueberry bush on our roof garden; it's a moment of great joy in my day. I'll usually start on one side, then go around the bush and collect all the ripe ones I can see from close up. Almost invariably I'll notice ones that I've missed when I step further back or change the angle from which I'm looking. So much of life is like this; we miss the gems that are right in front of us unless we change our perspective.