Thursday, January 31, 2008

January 31, 1994

Kneading pasta dough. The best thing to put under the Bolognese sauce I made a few days before is homemade fettucine. I have an hand cranked pasta roller/cutter, but the first step is the making the dough. Actually pretty simple- bunch of flour, some eggs, a little olive oil, mix into a dough, knead continuously while adding more flour until it reaches the right consistency and texture. The machine is used for the rest. No doubt that this day's labors were delicious.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

January 30, 1994

Burned my hand in the hot shop. Even though it has a hunk of molten glass on the end of it, handling a blow pipe is relatively safe... as long as you don't touch it too close to the end. On this day I put a hand on the pipe a little too far down and was punished for it. Nothing serious, just a first degree burn that left my hand extra sensitive to the excess heat in that studio for the rest of the day.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

January 29, 1994

Preparing to make my famous family recipe Bolognese meat sauce. It starts with the classic vegetable trio of onion, celery, and carrot, which are finally chopped and sauteed before adding the other ingredients. In Italian this vegetable combo is known as a soffrito, and can be used as a base for all kinds of dishes.

Monday, January 28, 2008

January 28, 1994

Scrubbing out the sink. I'm not sure, but I think this isn't my kitchen sink, but actually the sink in the clean room at the Glove Factory. It did not fall under the responsibility of the janitorial staff, so once in a while one of the students would decide it was too messy and scrub it out.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

January 27, 1994

When I was a student at the College of William and Mary, I purchased a t-shirt from the school's East Asian Society (a student club), which had a dragon on the front, and these Chinese characters on the back, which they said was the name of the school in Chinese. Several years later I was at Southern Illinois University, which had an above average foreign student population, including many from Asian countries- Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Thai, etc- at least some of which was the result of the school's campus in Japan. In the spring 1994 semester one of the print classes included a music major from Taiwan, who I used to talk to occasionally. On this day I brought in the shirt and without telling her what I was told it said, asked her to translate it into English. After a few moments, she told me that it said "William and Mary College", but that it was wrong, made no sense. I figured this meant that the translation worked phonetically, but that the character choice was illogical.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

January 26, 1994

The movie Hard Target was playing as part of the Student Association film schedule. I was interested because it was the first American film directed by John Woo. I had taken a film history class there with a theme of gangster film, and the professor included some of his earlier Hong Kong films- Hard Boiled, The Killer, A Better Tomorrow- and I was curious how his style would work in Hollywood. I invited grad painter Suzanne Thomas to come along, since she was known to be a big fan of leading man Jean Claude Van Damme, and she invited her friend Laura. As it turned out, the studio had kept a tight leash on Woo, and the movie lacked his usual style. Perhaps the most memorable thing was when a member of the audience reached his hand up into the path of the projection, so that its shadow appeared on the screen. That image became the subject of the day's print.

Friday, January 25, 2008

January 25, 1994

John Siblik used some of his farmland to grow corn and other vegetables for his personal use, but perhaps the most valuable crop he ever obtained from his land was a dead cherry tree, which he had milled into boards of various dimensions for a minimal cost, which he then shaped into frames and other uses. He gave me two cross sectional pieces of the trunk, thinking perhaps I could use this end grain cherry wood for some kind of print project.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

January 24, 1994

One thing that I do with almost all my blocks, before I begin the drawing, is surface them with wood filler. I lay it on with a putty knife, then squeegee it off with the same, to leave a barely discernible film, just enough to fill the grain. After it dries, I sand it to a smooth surface.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

January 23, 1994

On the air at WIDB radio. I got started in college radio as an undergrad in 1987, when I decided that the college station needed a good blues show. This put me into the jazz department and an early morning slot. When I moved on to my first grad school I joined their radio station, and my blues show was put into the specialty line up on Sunday afternoons. When I went off to school in Carbondale, once again I joined the college station (in this case the "underground" student run station, not the official NPR affiliate), and my blues show put me again on Sunday afternoons. With vacation over, I was broadcasting again.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

January 22, 1994

Today I used the pizza dough I started the night before to make a pizza. I made a tomato sauce, got cheese, and I think cooked some sausage for a topping. I had a pan, but no pizza stone. The result- looked very good, outer crust and top browned nicely, but the center was undercooked. The part of the pizza that was thoroughly cooked tasted pretty good, so I figured the experiment was a partial success and I'd try to improve next time.

Monday, January 21, 2008

January 21, 1994

Another recent Christmas present that I brought back to Carbondale was an Italian cookbook. Among the recipies in this one were a number of bread and pizza recipies. This was very important as real bread was pretty much nonexistent in that town. You could buy long loaves that carried such labels as "Italian" or "French", but they were really just big white bread. The pizza situation was even worse. Mostly national and regional chains with their mass produced product- inferior cheese, sauce that tasted like it came from a 5 gallon pail, crusts that were totally uninspired. The one place I found edible was way overpriced. The book had a simple recipe for basic bread and pizza dough, and I decided to try it out. The author recommended letting the dough rise multiple times, so I started it this night, with intentions to use it tomorrow.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

January 20, 1994

Today we got to start actually working with glass. First step is to gather a glob of molten glass on a blowpipe, and then roll it on a marver to give it a basic shape. A bubble is started by blowing through the pipe. What typically followed is what's shown here, using the jacks (a multi-use tool shaped like a giant tweezer) to narrow the neck. Sitting on the bench, the pipe is rolled back and forth to keep it spinning (and the soft glass even on the pipe) while the jacks is used to squeeze the glass just past the end of the pipe. This is known as jacking a bubble.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

January 19, 1994

This semester I was assigned a GEC 101 (general education art history/studio class) slot, a class I'd taught a few times before. What was new this year was that the professor who taught the fall and spring lecture sections was using a new textbook, one he created. The advantage in doing this (besides the obvious financial ones) is that Jed now had a text that more closely matched the themes and artworks he was teaching, rather than using a general text. The disadvantage, compared to the one used previously, was that there were only 10 pages of color. Sometimes this isn't so bad, but when Rothko's Orange and Yellow is shown in black and white, it's very hard to understand the point of the painting.

Friday, January 18, 2008

January 18, 1994

Glass furnace #1 at Pulliam Hall. This semester I took Intro to Glassblowing as an elective, and today was the first day of class. Our instructor (another grad student) did a few quick demos, and went over a lot of terminology and safety rules. The one thing she had us do on the first day was put on some sunglasses, slide open the door to the furnace, and look inside for a few seconds, just so we could feel the heat. The furnace was in the process of curing a new batch of molten glass, which it did at about 2200 degrees Fahrenheit.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

January 17, 1994

Clearing a heavy snow off my car. Not because I needed to go anywhere right away- just to get most of it off and let the sun melt the rest. During my years in Carbondale it was rare for me to use my car more than for my Saturday grocery shopping. I lived across the street from my studio building, about 2 blocks from the campus, and a block from the Strip, which included convenience stores, art supplies, bars, and a dozen or so places to get a variety of take-out food. Snow would not stop me from getting to any of these places.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

January 16, 1994

One of my Christmas 1993 presents was something I don't remember asking for, but turned out to be a very useful item- a Black & Decker HandyChopper. As far as food processors go, it's fairly primitive. One chopping blade, one speed setting, but it is certainly a time saver when it comes to finely chopping vegetables for various recipies. On this day I was using it to try making some hummus, following fellow grad student Armen's recipe. A few chunkier pieces of garbanzo were found here and there, but otherwise it did just fine.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

January 15, 1994

Having won their wild card round playoff game against the Vikings the previous week, the Giants went on the road to face the 49ers. Not so good, got crushed. All time great linebacker Lawrence Taylor had announced earlier that this would be his last year, so this was his last game in the NFL. LT had been a revolutionary player- his approach to the position of linebacker changed the game; not only would other defenses try to copy what he did, new offensive schemes were created to stop him. His arrival on the Giants signalled the end of a long run of losing seasons and hopelessness. The Giants have up and down years like most teams, but over the last 25 years there is the assumption that they will be competitive, and have been in the playoffs probably more than a lot of other teams. And on draft day, experts still talk about draft picks potentially being the "next LT". So I figured his last day deserved a spot in this series.

Monday, January 14, 2008

January 14, 1994

A very cold day in Southern Illinois, temperatures dropping to zero. But it could be worse. Around that same time Chicago was dealing with wind chills of -30 degrees, and one part of South Dakota reported -90 degree wind chills. That doesn't happen back in Jersey.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

January 13, 1994

I had been putting the Fourth of July prints up in my studio as I printed them, hanging them in chronological order from left to right, and in rows one under the other, resulting in a giant grid. I took all the prints down to take to New Jersey over the break, but now I needed to put them back up again. Wanting to leave enough room for the prints of the next several months meant starting the top row very high up on my big wall. Lacking a ladder, I did what you see above- put a sturdy table next to the wall, a stack of resin chairs on that, then stood on the pile of chairs to put up the highest rows.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

January 12, 1994

Continuing my journey back to Carbondale. After breakfast, checking out, and gassing up, I got back to I-71 south. Passed through Cincinnati and crossed into Kentucky. Had lunch somewhere in that state, maybe at La Grange again. Picked up I-64 at Louisville and crossed back over the Ohio River into Indiana. Across the mostly flat empty plains and into Illinois. Pick up I-57 and head south toward Marion, where I get on state highway 13 for the last leg of my trip into town, arriving in the late afternoon. Today's image was my speedometer. Back then there was no legal 65 speed limit in New Jersey or Pennsylvania, and weather conditions in Ohio kept me going relatively slow. With nicer weather this day and higher speed limits (outside the urban areas), I appreciated being able to go a little faster.

Friday, January 11, 2008

January 11, 1994

Time to go back to Carbondale. Left very early from my parents' house, backtracking on the same roads, crossing the Delaware Water Gap around 7:30 am. Made good time through Pennsylvania. In the western part of the state I saw the above, a tractor-trailer on its side on the road's shoulder, which I assumed was a victim of icy roads. Shortly after I saw flurries, then real snow, but the road stayed dry for the moment. Made my usual lunch stop just over the Ohio state line. As I ate at McDonald's, I saw the snow rapidly accumulating. Filled my tank and got back on the road. Slow going through heavy snow as I joined I-76 past Youngstown, and I-71 past Akron. Luckily I fell in with a convoy of trucks following a fast moving highway snowplow/salter/sander- not quite interstate speed, but safer and better than I had been doing. As the road turned south, eventually I reached warmer temperatures and the snow changed over to rain. Speed increased. On these long drives I usually liked to get off the road before or shortly after dark, so I made my usual westbound winter stop in Lebanon, Ohio, a little north of Cincinnati. There was a hotel with cheap off-season rates and plenty of fast food chains withing walking distance.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

January 10, 1994

I was up in Closter, visiting the residence of many of the Hackensack clients. One in particular that I wanted to see was Vinnie, who wasn't at the Hackensack center for the Christmas party. Some illness or injury had him home stuck in bed for an extended period of time. So that's where I found him. I can't imagine that I would have driven all the way to Closter just to see Vinnie, so I must have had some other business up in Bergen County that day, but it escapes me now.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

January 9, 1994

Jennifer's Italian bread. I vaguely remember my brother inviting some people over for dinner (pasta of some kind), and this Jennifer brought a large crusty loaf of Italian bread. She said it came from the bakery where Sinatra used to get all his bread, but there are probably a lot of bakeries in North Jersey making such a claim.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

January 8, 1994

Another storm, another day of shovelling snow and chopping ice. I was beginning to really look forward to going back to Illinois.

Monday, January 7, 2008

January 7, 1994

Icicles hanging from the gutters, a very common sight during my winter in New Jersey that year.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

January 6, 1994

I got together with my friend Kathy that day. I had met her through the college radio station at Montclair State, where we both did specialty shows on Sunday afternoons, and we became good friends. I don't remember exactly what we did this day (probably showed her the latest art, maybe went out to a diner), but I do know she gave me her Grand Canyon letter. Over the previous summer she went with a group of friends on a trip to the Grand Canyon, hiking down from the rim to the river and back out again. On the plane ride home from Arizona she started writing me a letter about the experience. She managed to fill 35 pages while only covering the first 2 days of the 4 day trip. She gave me the unfinished letter this day and I read it that evening.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

January 5, 1994

I went up to the campus of Montclair State College to meet with my former printmaking professor Bob Sennhauser. It was while I was taking classes with him that I decided to give up oil painting in favor of woodcut as my primary medium. Bob was also largely responsible for getting me into the MFA program at SIU. He knew of this Fourth of July project and this was his chance to see the first installment. We found an empty classroom and moved the large tables together in the middle of the room so I could lay out the whole thing in a gridlike fashion across the grouped tables. He was suitably impressed.

Friday, January 4, 2008

January 4, 1994

Isolation from others by ice and snow. Yet another storm came through, probably cancelling plans with somebody, represented as the tiny figure in the distance at the other end of the phone call.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

January 3, 1994

I went into the city to see the big Joan Miro show at the Museum of Modern Art. I had always liked Miro's work- many of the paintings seem to me like they'd be fun places to play in. I would never do work of that nature myself, but the show was definitely worth seeing.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

January 2, 1994

Our next door neighbor at that time had a couple of sets of Giants season tickets- one pair through his job, and one pair he personally owned. Once in a while he'd not need all of them, and make one or more available to me and/or my father. (For those not from the northeast, every ticket to every Giants game is a season ticket, has been going back decades, and the waiting list to get them is 30 to 40 years, so seeing a game in person was a rare treat.) Usually it was the personal pair, in an end zone corner. On this day, it was his much better work tickets- 40 yard line, lower level, just under the mezzanine. Giants played the Cowboys, last game of the regular season, and lost in OT. Since the Giants still finished with an 11-5 record, they would be going to the playoffs as a wild card.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

January 1, 1994

A New Year's surprise- through the kitchen window we see a rat nosing around the back yard. Many people associate rats with cities, but they can be a pest in the country and the suburbs as well. (Opossums and skunks have also been occasional back yard problems in my old suburban neighborhood. Once a chicken took up residence in our front yard, but that's a whole other story.) In this case my father dealt with it quickly and it was never seen again.