Tuesday, February 24, 2015

The World's Last Pen Pals

In 1988, I wrote to the Australian consulate fishing for a pen pal. I was in love with marsupials, and I also hated my life and constantly thought of far-flung lands, far away from the war zone of Fowler Junior High. I received my very first letter from Merryn in March of that same year, and we wrote furiously back and forth across the Pacific, sometimes every single day. I couldn't wait to race home after school because opening the mailbox to find her letters was the highlight of my day. 

Reading about life on a 2,580-acre sheep farm in Armidale, NSW gave me a glimpse outside the hell I was living and allowed me to imagine I might one day escape. She wrote about riding horses past roos, gum trees and noisy galahs, and always how Presbyterian Ladies College was screwing her up. She'd nobly try to convince me that working at McDonalds was not uncool in Oz, or that I shouldn't commit suicide but wait and do it later because just think how much worse life will be at like age 24. We'd sign our letters "friends forever" and I'd receive awesome mix tapes with songs by stars no American had heard of: Johnny Diesel, Jason Donovan, Bros, Kylie Mole and Minogue…

My dad took me to meet her in 1990 and since then we've only met in person a handful of times, but in all these many years we have never stopped writing. It's several times a year now instead of several times each week, but opening the mailbox to see my name written in her messy scrawl is still the highlight of my day. And today she's 40. Happy Birthday, Merryn. You're the lady love of my life!

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

El Culo Del Mundo Se Va Ensuciando... Vamos Tercermundistas!

Surprise, Argentina! A prosecutor, Alberto Nisman, is found dead alone in his home a day before he was to testify to a presidential cover-up of Iran's involvement in the bombing of the AMIA building, which killed 84 Jews in 1994. They want to call it a suicide.

For her part, President Cristina Kirchner now claims that his suspicious death surely was orchestrated by forces plotting against her government. I lived in Buenos Aires at the end of last century and then president Carlos Menem, a man so corrupt it cost him the life of his own son, was also implicated in covering up the bombing - he is of Syrian descent. Menem had also previously pardoned all those responsible for the murderous atrocities of Argentina's 1970s Dirty War, claiming the perpetrators had acted under "forced obedience". I always felt for the Argentines – so intelligent, so beautiful, and yet so impotent; blithely resigned to living under a patently corrupt system that will never see justice.

If you're curious for more about Argentina's dirty dealings ("a labyrinth that leads not to justice, but to new labyrinths") and the people's justified cynicism, this piece is excellent.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

War Paint!

This is very cool. I'm so honored that artist Paul Richmond has painted me for his series, War Paint. I can always count on Paul's talents to make me better looking than I am! This portrait is titled, His Darkness. Check it out on Paul's website here. "They understand too well the liberation into savagery that the concealing paint brought." – Lord of the Flies, William Golding.

These are the reference photos I sent him a few months ago, so you can see how he improved upon the original. I'm also totally digging the background fleur de lis pattern he created.

Here's more of Paul Richmond's statement on his series:

"Body painting serves a variety of purposes from spiritual cleansing to battle preparation. My War Paint series draws upon this symbolism to investigate the construction of identity. The modern masculine form becomes the canvas, a painted object of his own creation. Reality and abstraction compete with the figurative foundation of each piece to make the subjects' inner struggles more tangible. The application of pigment is suggestive of their psychological states, the color of their self-made armor exposing more than it conceals. This work also challenges conventions around masculinity and the male form. My goal is to invite understandings that reach beyond the immediate surface and reveal the complexity of the individual."