Table of Contents: > Sketchbook

Is this thing on?


Transmissions sputter back to life… onto a fifth year of broadcasting. The signal has faded over the past year, gales of advertising mostly, then our radio tower plain and blew up (by which of course I mean a virulent SQL database corruption keelhauled my rickety, jury rigged WordPress build.) So, then, is this thing on? Are we going?



I painted this figure study over a few days this summer. I walked by it one night, a month or so ago, and as I lingered for a minute and thought — that’s right — View of Delft.

Yes, as in Vermeer’s view of Delft, entitled View of Delft.


A blasphemous chuckle, right, but gumdaggit if this sketch and title aren’t now bonded like noggin epoxy — the phrase passing over my little ditty of a painting like a sky-blotting arial banner, featherweight but indelible.

So, as I said the blogs been down for a while, swept under crosscurrents and swells of obligations, dissolutions and advertising and I’m casting about for an inaugural post and all I can think of is View of Delft.

Here’s why. Cause this blog is, if it is anything, even in this particularly unhinged association, about searching for our own little private views of Delft — little lagoons, obsessively surveyed, rendered, cleared out out by hand.

Lagoons. Because in the clotted coastline of the blogosphere, it’s what this is, really. A tiny lagoon, home to beatniks, old salts, venerable preps, society matrons, homespun cuties, movie stars and scientists… Gilligan’s wake. It’s a beachhead from which we can re-embark on our quest to find and stake out other unlikely harbors. A stretch of landscape we can fix in our minds and take a draught or a puff and contemplate, then set off satisfied.

And when others arrive, like you dear reader, perhaps you’ll survey it appreciatively, like a scoutmaster, and think “I would’ve given you a commendable. That was one of the best pitched camp sites I’ve ever seen, honestly.”


Or something. Are we going? Is this thing on? Is this really broadcasting if there is no one there to receive? We’ll see. More soon.

Some credits: All the weird snippets about broken and sputtering radio transmissions are taken from Shellac’s epic angular shanty “The End of Radio,” which will serve as this latest sally’s theme song. The Herculean rebuild of this leaky beached blog was coded by the gifted and rad Marcello De Feo. Check his kung-fu. It is ace. The charming illustration of Moonrise Kingdom is by Adrian Tomine.

Mermaids & Space Cuties

Fawley_Mermad Navigator_Finished_Shepelavy

So one day I ask my pal, the enormously gifted tattoo artist Steve Fawley, if I could paint me some flash of a mermaid who looks like Jane Russell. Because such a thing may not have exist in the world, it seemed like a fine thing to bring into it. And he says, sure — paint me a space cutie in exchange. So here they are — certainly I’m on the rich side of this deal. What a stunner. Perfectly fetching & a prime example of Steve’s masterly of the traditional form. My cutie was the buildup of a forgotten sketch in tribute to Wally Wood & based on Robert Bonfils cover painting for pulp paperback Nautipuss. Check out Steve’s kung fu here.

Colonel Wilma Deering

Colonel Wilma Deering — off duty, gouache on board, 9 x 6.5

So, on a lark I watched some episodes of the old 1979 series Buck Rogers in the 25th Century. Man, what a glitter encrusted sci-fi glam delight! Most of the other shlock series of the era have aged poorly, revealing more artless clunk than period charm. Not here. There’s a grin-inducing disco exhuberance to the whole affair — a vision of the future that’s equal parts Saturday morning Sinbad, Star Wars, and the roller skate fantasia Xanadu. In reading up on the show, the oddest thing I came across was a terse but enthusiastic appreciation of the show by esteemed cultural critic and poet Clive James, “Battlestar Galactica (Thames), though glaringly a cheap Star Wars rip-off, looks better on the small screen than in the cinema. The best comic strip science fiction on television at the moment, however, is Buck Rogers in the 25th Century (LWT). The hardware looks good and Wilma Deering looks simply sensational, like Wonder Woman with brains.” Amen, comrade. In commemoration, then, a quick three day sketch of the fetching Erin Grey  as the indefatigable Colonel Wilma Deering, off duty, of course.



Still life

Some recent mannequins… the first and third were side by side in a dealer’s pen in an antiques mall in Coxsackie. It was such an odd assortment, incongruities caroming from object to object. Treacly, homespun tchotchkes mixed with genuine posessions, weathered with age and use, saturated with soggy history. In the middle, cast adrift, two buoys in the Sea of Pizazz, one in the pale, empurpled waves of the 70’s, the other in the sharper currents of the 80’s. But then you notice the clerical sash. And the Grand Ole Opry hat… like I said… caroming incongruities. The second one is installed in a window on Jay Street in Schenectady. The last one haughtily surveys a corner of an antique shop in Burlington, New Jersey.