Sunday, January 25, 2015

Good Morning Jacob

Letter to my Son
Sunday, 25 January

Good Morning Jacob…

My new rule for writing is to find what I mean and say it.  I've often cluttered my thinking with words posed as literature.  Often I have to make several passes at a thought before I know what it is I’m trying to say.  Sometimes I never get there.  It isn’t easy.  I don’t even like it.  It’s sitting on a wooden pew that agitates the boil.

I’m trying to draw these days.  There’s always some mimicry involved, but mostly it’s about portraying something I can’t find with words.  They suggest whirlwinds.  Shadows cast by clouds move quickly across uplift faces as would be caught with time-lapse photography. 

There’s happiness in here somewhere.  There’s also the feeling that everything is about to break – a carnival ride going berserk, swirling down a drain.  Yet, this isn’t doomsday.  Sort through the emotions you have when you first discover you've fallen in love and this feeling will be among them. 

Artists don’t conjure lab room logic.  We’re closer to the mumbo-jumbo end of the spectrum.  The imagery, music and poetry created are ruled by the heart.  Anything holding to a blueprint or formula is fakery – painting by the numbers.

I start my drawings with nothing in mind.  Images begin to congregate on the paper.  Connections are made.  Color adds energy and dimension.  After all is done there is little sense to it.  If it works it’s because it’s a drawing that merely feels like something.


© Tom Taylor

Monday, January 19, 2015

Martin Luther King Day

Concord, North Carolina
Martin Luther King Wreath Ceremony

Martin Luther King Circle





Amos McClorey

What does it mean?

The women in his life.



© Tom Taylor

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Good Morning Jack

Letter to my Son
Sunday, 18 January

Basquiat:  Boxer

Good Morning Jack…

During the last campaign I got to know Amos McClorey, head of the Cabarrus County NAACP.  I soon joined up.  Saturday morning was the MLK Prayer Breakfast at Bethel Baptist Church.  Amos sat across from me at a round table that seated six.  At one point Amos asked me what I thought of the event.  I’m afraid my mind went blank.  I could think of only stupid things to say.  After some time waiting for my response he gave up and changed the subject.  Amos mentioned that he and I nearly crossed paths long ago in Vietnam.  We discovered he arrived at Hotel Company, 2nd Battalion, 7th Marines just as I was leaving in January, 1969.  I like to think that we had at least once seen each other there. 

Amos was an oh-3-11 – infantry rifleman.  Had he been an oh-3-31 – machine guns, or an oh-3-51 – rockets, his talent would have been wasted.  Platoon leadership was drawn from the 0311s.  These guys called the shots as squad leaders and platoon sergeants.  A machine gun squad leader was an onlooker by comparison, useless as a third tit.  Amos had to become comfortable making decisions in his role in Vietnam and this talent has been with him since.

A portion of a Martin Luther King speech was played at the occasion.  He spoke of the fear he felt early in his career.  Shortly after his first child was born he received a chilling call in the night.  If he and his family were not out of the county within three days they would all be dead.  Fear kept him awake nights.  He also battled with despair.  There was no foreordained course for civil rights.  For Dr. King there was no running from the setbacks and hardships that resulted from mistakes he may have made.  At critical moments during the civil rights campaign he struggled with self-doubt and gloom.  Martin Luther King prevailed over his doubts because he had the courage that comes with conviction.  It’s never just about ability.  Character always plays an important role in the decisions we make.  If we are to prevail over great challenge it is because we believe what we do is true.  Gossips focus only on flaws, ignoring the fact that strength of character is behind every act of making a difference for the better.


Saturday, January 17, 2015

t h u r b e r

There is a large fictional river outside a small desert town out west.  I was the uninvited companion of a former wife as she crossed the bridge on her personal journey.  Once across I decided to go back and retrieve something that was lost.  I planned to catch up with her later but I was waylaid by events. 

I remember having a confrontation among some large lily pads with one of my children.  Finally, he left to join his mother.  I found a lost watch.  On its face was a splendid animation of molecules welling up from a nuclear furnace.  Later I found myself within the labyrinth of a great university library.  The book I opened had no words.  With difficulty I found my way to the exit.

Now I am at a dance among sophomores.  How ridiculous I am to think of winning the heart of one of these young ladies.  I hurry out the door where bikes stand waiting among the racks and I awake in the evening light.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Good Morning Jessicca

Letter to my Daughter
Sunday, 11 January

Good Morning Jessicca…

New Year’s resolution – believe no more than ten percent of what I say.  That’s my advice to myself.  It’s a good resolution. 

This is a big year for you – turning 21.  That makes you old enough to be legally insane.  Now you join the rest of us and find out what all the talk has been about.  And here you thought fairytales ended with Santa Claus. 

There are at least a couple of different parts to us.  Freud talked of conscious and subconscious.  The ego fits in there somewhere.  Then there’s the idea that everything is about sex, except sex itself.  It’s about power.  When I was 21 I had to refer to a book to find out how I felt about things personal.  I didn’t trust my own opinion.  Because I thought I didn’t know enough.  Because I was angry and I had many bad thoughts.  I knew it, too.  I kept my mouth shut or I lied.  I would wait it out. 

It’s many years later.  I’m glad to be here.  I’m glad to be who I am.  Life baffles me.  That keeps me busy.  The most impressive things happen just a few feet from the end of my nose.  Too often I can’t bear to look.  We’re all real.  People are easier to take when they are characters in a story of a book or movie.  Fictional people are far less complicated and we don’t become entangled with all the human comings and goings of their lives.  Fall in love and you double the number of people you need to care about. 

People are strictly about people.  Even the most emotionally detached hermit must deal with who he is – just another human being.  Everything we do outside personal survival is undoubtedly done with the thought of another on our mind.  Of course, it is not always positive.  We can be murderous when thinking of others.  It’s shocking.  Break open the veneer of civilization and a calculating animal emerges.  We are naturally ruthless.  It’s when we turn our predatory talents on ourselves that brings a chilling fear to the heart.

These horrors are the exception.  Look at all the rewards resulting from civilized behavior.  This was accomplished by people no different than those we have around us.  There is so much that is good within us.  It’s positive to focus on mostly these human characteristics.  I think, though, people such as Pope Francis and Mother Teresa are who they are because they also appreciate that which is dark within them.  Their uplifting message is all the more compelling because they hold few delusions regarding the nature of the human heart.

What is most likely to bring disaster to a relationship?  Insecurity – there’s a usual suspect.  Look in a mirror and see a frog.  I don’t want anyone to know I eat bugs.  The whole thing makes for difficult relations.  I’m horrified to find the one I love has an equally hideous character quirk.  I should be relieved.  We make a normal couple.  If the romantic potion is strong enough we come to love each other’s warts.  It can make journeys in bed all the more fascinating.


Thursday, January 8, 2015

Happy Birthday Justin!

Letter to my Son

Happy Birthday Justin!

                              The drawing is Navajo and on it [has an inscription to you.]

It’s a transitional drawing for me.  I got it done yesterday – just in time.  Ka- ching!  I just put a house on Park Place and a nickel in the piggybank. 

This is an important time for the family.  You’re the youngest of three boys.  I’m sure the three of you and your sister are taking good care of your mother.  I know your mother pretty well so I can say she keeps her docket filled with many things to do.  When she’s home it is up to you guys to make sure she’s not overdoing it with work around the house.  I needn't bring it up though, do I?  I can imagine you big guys taking care of her.

I always figured you to be the kid in uniform, waving along the sidelines and saying “Hi Mom!”  You’ve been that kind of kid since you learned to walk.  You couldn’t have been more than three when your sister teased you, saying:  “Manny Ramirez is no longer with the Red Sox.”  You cried.  This is a few years before it actually became true.  You were the kid in T-Ball that ran from short stop to right field to help chase a ball.  You couldn’t imagine why they would want you to stick to one position.  My last memory of you was of a big-hearted boy with spaghetti stains on your shirt.  That image goes a long way.

Happy Birthday, Justin!


Sunday, January 4, 2015

Good Morning Jacob

Letter to my Son
Sunday, 4 January

Good Morning Jacob…

There was little business to speak of New Year’s Day.  People were having a late breakfast while maybe watching the Rose Parade.  It’s still a New Year’s tradition for college bowl games so Pizza Hut was already up and running, even if it’s only to scan Tweets while you wait.

Dale Earnhardt resides on a permanent pedestal at the center of Kannapolis, North Carolina. 

The Gem Theatre has a real, old-time balcony.  You don’t have to be a kid on a date to love making out there.

When was the last time you saw a pick-up ball game in the park – one requiring bats?  The Hispanics brought the real love of soccer to Kannapolis.  New Year’s Day is time off to get in some footwork. 

This looks like a Jacob drawing to me.