Monday, September 28, 2009

Wall Of Fruit

It feels like all Hell is about to be released in the form of 1500 tons of grapes. I have started working at the winery for the '09 harvest and the weather is freaking everybody out. This is my second harvest at Rex Hill. It is so much fun I can hardly tell you. So many freakin' grapes, you wouldn't believe it. There is drama, there is danger, there are huge decisions to be made on the spot, there are millions of bees and billions of earwigs. What could be better? I am in awe of wine.
One of the most intriguing things I came away with last year is how saturated wine is with the winemaker's signature. I mean, these guys shoot from the hip. When you have twenty ferments going on at once, the winery is run like an ICU. Each tank needing specific love and each one getting it.

The hours are pretty brutal. It is total immersion and it is finite so I am happily making a wine widow of my poor wife and vinorphans of my kids. The harvest will wind up around Thanksgiving. I will try to take some pictures but I am serious about these sticky grapes. They keep us so busy and gooey that I rarely have the chance to take any pics.
I will scan my hands every week and post them to monitor their purplification.

Monday, September 14, 2009

You Can't Get Arrested For Felting.

Felting is not just for the becoddlement of my indulgent monkey feet. Here is my daughter with her felt puppet she made with her mom last week. I feel we will continue to felt. The word itself makes me want to write a Dr Seuss style story.

"If you never did you should. These things are fun and fun is good."
-- Dr. Seuss

Friday, September 11, 2009


Who was the first person you called when the towers fell?  I called Isaac Mizrahi.  How crazy is that?  I rode my bike to the studio extra early that morning because I was designing a table for Isaac and he was sending a film crew to my studio to shoot some process footage for his show.   I wanted to make sure that all my best crap was hanging on the walls and the place looked immaculate but functional.  This was going to be my big break and obviously it was overwhelmingly important.  I wanted to look cool, so I put on my favorite t shirt, a sleeveless black rock t for the band "Twin Barrels Burning" printed in yellow.  Black and yellow...stings like a bee. 

Next thing you know, my pal Julius who worked for some French furniture fruitcakes next door to me told me to head up to the roof because a plane had crashed into one of the twin towers.  The studio was in long Island City, Queens.  From the roof we had a clear view down the East River.  That explains this weird picture.  That is also where the soapbox derby team name came from.  Any ways, after the second tower was hit but before either of them fell, I went downstairs and called Isaac and asked if we were still on!?!  I mean, the whole thing was so shocking and surreal I just wondered if I was going to be on camera in an hour or not.  

No.  The shoot was postponed.  Thank god, I wasn't really ready yet.  No, I wasn't behind 911.

Seriously, I have met so many people who experienced 9/11 from so many different places and there is a similar characteristic or look in one's eye when they reflect back on that horrible, horrible day.  Whether they were in the bloodbath at the foot of the towers or if they were on the west coast learning about the events from 3000 miles away, everybody tapped into a new, deep, communal pool of sadness and disbelief.  What a day.

I always think of 911 when I see firefighters.  You should have heard the sirens coming from all over the planet, funneling down the avenues and across the bridges to lower  Manhattan.  From the roof of the studio it was terribly eerie hearing the screaming sirens while the skies were completely quiet as all air traffic was grounded.  You don't realize how many friggin' planes and choppers are always flying overhead until they stop.  
I don't really have a point I just want to spew.  9/11/09 

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Felting Sounds Like Something You Should Be Arrested For

So of course when my wife said that we should start felting, I was all for it. It turns out that felting is not what I thought. It is actually a very intriguing ancient textile.
They say that felt is the oldest textile. Monkey man wrap fleece under foot with leather. Monkey man make felt.

My new favorite movie is about ten minutes long and shows this Iranian felt maker doing his thing. It is on the peaceindustry website . My secret dream now is to make a rug in the vein of Claudy Jongstra, a Dutch felt maker. Of course, I want to do it naked with my beautiful wife, in the desert somewhere. Is there anyone out there who would consider watching our kids for a few days? There might be a funky felt coaster in it for ya. Below are some examples of Claudy's work.

So this Monkeyman tuned up the Chuck T's with a felt tuck dalmatian print insert. I put a few layers of wool in each sneaker, spritzed them with some hot soapy water and wore them sockless as I installed my new floor in the bathroom. They turned out great. Comfy, cozy, primitive, rebellious, street, hip, and invisible. Actually, I like the fact that the sneakers look pretty road warrior from the outside but little do people know: My coddled tootsies are basking in extreme bunnycomfort. Steve Martin used to put a slice of bologna in his shoes because it made him feel funny. Maybe I will try that next.... hello? Is this thing on?

Thank You

I speak for the whole Twin Barrels Burning team when I say thank you for the explosive interest in our recent endeavor.  What started as a reason to drink beer on Tuesday evenings blossomed into a veritable movement towards a more barrel vehicle filled planet.  I don't see why it wouldn't happen.  
Our team was stacked.  We had nerdistic levels of expertise and blind devotion focused on the design and fabrication of the silliest car in town.   Our talents comprised a perfect storm of design, craftsmanship and stupidity.  The result was a true collaboration done in a relatively civil manner.  I hardly even cried.  I am welling up with tears now though.  I can't help it.  I loved the process, the flexibility, the open mindedness and of course, the execution of this project.  It was a very rewarding experience. 
I would rather work with those guys than with some of the best people in the world.
And I mean that.   

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Clowns are animals too!

One of my best friends from high school, Toms Bugby Royal, lives in Wishram WA.  He is a mosaic artist who also works for the railroad, shuttling railroad workers around in a van from the Wishram depot.  He called me yesterday and told me that the Ringling Bros train just pulled up and was letting all the circus animals out to stretch.  He was telling me that elephants were walking past linked by trunk and tail,  horses and tigers, monkeys etc.  I asked him if they let the clowns out.  No.  Of course not.  The clowns weren't allowed to leave the train.  Not even for a second.  I don't think it is fair but I understand.

I am no stranger to clownery.  Unfortunately the documentation of my foray into the realm of the painted funster reveals but one aspect of the blithen darkness,  shrouded by The Tainted Veil of Jelly Beanerie.  I have been an advocate for clowns' rights since I went to the see Ringling Bros on acid back in the 80's.  

My friends and I even went to demonstrate at midnight on the Manhattan side of the Midtown Tunnel when they were bringing the circus animals over from Queens to Madison Square Garden.  We were standing there with the animal rights activists, but our signs said: "Bigger Cars For Clowns!" and "Clowns Are Animals Too!"  Hopefully with your support we can slowly make things better for this misunderstood group.  

My pal Sam Rodd is sort of a pioneer in clown psychology.  He put together this documentary and graciously bestowed upon me the important task of Being Clown.  I am the guy with the red nose.