Bomber Nose Girl

Jinxie didn’t mean it.
She was tricked, see. Yeah, she kinda loved him in a 48-hour leave kinda way.
But that snapshot, she didn’t mean that.
And here she is on page six, with a bunch of sheiks in khakis.

She had been looking behind the couch, out the window to the big lawn. Then she raised herself a little on the couch to see better. Then she slid back down and it uncovered a few inches of leg above the knee for a sixtieth of a second.
That's just a shirtwaist but now it looked like Esther Williams.
She had meant to be friendly; to be the opposite of B-17 exhaust and the LOUDEST…POSSIBLE…NOISE; just not boredom, not smelling like fear.
So these two Air Corps captains are playing the piano and singing their alma mater and some racier stuff. Mavis says she’s gotta go. She takes a little while to get out of there. Lipstick, flirting, a quarter glass of champagne, flirting. But she’s not making any time at all with these guys and beats it, asks us to watch her til she gets to her car, okay?

We can see ourselves reflected in the window and Mavis getting to the edge of the lawn, and then we can’t see her. Jinxie is watching, too. She looks scrumptious.
We’re both smitten with her.
Jinxie, we’re already nostalgic for her because we know we’re leaving at 22:00 hours. We can’t even tell her we’re leaving. Casino, air cover for II Corps, the 185th Armored and sundry.
Get the Argus, settings, and as she’s turning back toward us smiling, flash.

They hand me a curled up photo of her on a couch. No problem. Mind if I add some leg? Oops, sorry, got some terps on there.
Sure, give it the old college try, then.

They’re getting moved up to B-29s and they’re splurging on nose art. They told stories about her, which all sounded like bull, except that they were definitely in love with her. I could go for her myself.
I’m in that picture with the flyboys with a big brush in my hand, faking the last dab. The sun is too bright and we’re squinting like Bogart but really happy.

They got shot down the far side of Frankfort. That was the only picture we had of them, so we gave it to Stars and Stripes.

Incomprehensibility: Unconditional versus conditional approaches

The world is unknowable. It is vast and various beyond mapping by our puny brains. We just don’t have enough neurons. Our little ways of knowing can’t possibly be ramose and detailed enough.
So we, as functioning animals, needing to focus on time and space, come to terms with this limitation.
Religion is the unconditional coming to terms. “There is an over-arching personality, paying attention to us. Its mechanisms are destiny, ritual, propitiation and special pleading.”
Intellect is the conditional coming to terms. All explanations are contingent. Every statement implies “all other things being equal”, which never are. Its mechanisms are artificial logic, causality, muddling through. The best we can hope for is a working relationship with the practical world.
No matter how fast we fill up our memories and order our understandings, the carpet of reassuring explanation is rolling up behind us as fast as it unrolls in front of us. Sometimes there is a temporary imbalance between the two rates of rolling, but there’s no hope for nailing down one end. Great reasoners and great rememberers might have an order of magnitude more carpet unrolled, but that’s nothing in the face of just the universe we think exists, let alone the possibility that our universe is an atom in the blood stream of some individual. Nothing we know precludes that.
These two paths have considerable overlap at times. Theodicy, casuistry, materialist politics, mother wit, these are blends of the conditional and the un-.

Every understanding I have is severely local and conditional. It depends on very artificial, non-existent stability. Even our own most rational explanations like physics continually discover this parochialism. Now we find that measurements of space and time that served well through the nineteenth century, don’t apply to other scales. Quantum realities, interstellar distances and physics kicked out the little prop whereby we assumed that the “laws” of physics apply equally everywhere.

So if there is true religion, I guess there’s a good chance the Manicheans have it: Satan must have created everything of this world, given how reassured we are about what we know. A diabolical illusion.

Ann Tigony Buries Her Brother and Takes a Picture

But Annie, he said no pictures. And he said he’s not coming to any funerals. Wouldn’t be right, he said.

Yeah, the boss said no pictures, like Paulie did something wrong, like he was bad. But he was a good kid. He was brave, too. He didn’t have to go back, but he did, just cause it was the right thing to do, he said. What kind of scared boss says no pictures!?

Doesn’t matter. We’re just girls, he’s the boss.

Yeah but nobody likes him. He’s getting fired if he messes up anymore. Issie, we’re giving my brother a great sendoff and we’re taking pictures, and everybody’s gonna know he was a good guy. Fuck that boss. Let him pick on a couple of girls if he’s so big.

Hey Annie, the boss blew his brains out in his truck. Yeah, he found out he was getting fired and he just blammo! blew his brains out. Didn’t say he was sorry, though.


Thousand Palms: Toys Alone

Scott Noegel, Laurie Ramacci and I discover toys alone.

Gangs, war, and the small life

First, let’s dispense with the idea of a gang as a special mode of organization. It’s a tribe, maybe a clan. Also recognizable in its primate nature, it’s always at war.
This fact alone is enough to doom it to the tiniest life that can still be called human. Like every other society at war, it’s missing ninety percent of the interesting potential of human interaction and individual pleasure.
When a group goes to war, the US is a current example, it agrees within itself that the war is more important than most of the good things of human life--idle pleasure; medical progress; philosophy; art beyond the sentimental, patriotic, and memorial; politics as a tool of protecting its members.
Just to focus on art, wars seem not to produce the riskiest, subtlest, or even more durable work. True, great art can be about war, but it’s not created in the frightened society at war, only later. Wars narrow the potential for creating beauty. Xenophobia makes taboo the remote and contingent; only exoteric patriotism is allowed. Because of the forced groupthink of a social unit at war, the continual experiment at the edges that produces or discovers beauty is crippled.
This groupthink, so useful for fighting as a cohesive unit, is the death of the artist. Likewise, the surplus resources that go to art dry up or are diverted to the war.
The group no longer affords itself the decadence of models, parties other than r&r for the troops, cosmopolitan curiosities, or novelty. All these are too risky for the frightened. And make no mistake, people at war are frightened or are at least forced to act frightened. When you're caught in the rain, you’re expected to duck your head and act uncomfortable, to show you’re sane and chagrined. The same social pressure applies in spades during wartime. Anyone who doesn’t share the emotional decision that the group’s members are in danger, is thought crazy or subversive.
Warriors never get to enjoy the wider world, until their group stops the war.


All art is documentary. It’s the evidence and record of events, processes, objects. It’s all time bound. Art always informs about the artist in her studio.
Painting is the record of brush on canvas. Sculpture is the record of chisel on marble, and so on. As with any documentary, the viewer’s skill is in a dynamic with the evidence. The more you know about how paint acts, the clearer is the evidence to you.
The document is of a piece with what the artist wants. He has the usual human impulses to be known, satisfied, protected, paid, to enjoy the process, to think well of himself, to work and stop working. There are some sociopaths making art, completely detached from the audience downstream. But the great bulk are eager to satisfy some part of this laundry list of wants.
Every artwork is an invitation to know the artist’s process and impulses.
The documentary sometimes conflicts with the aesthetic. Thinking about the artist working, brushing, chipping, welding, sometimes pushes aside the eyeball kicks and psycho-chemical events of immersive aesthetics. Sometimes the documentary reinforces aesthetics. Evidence of hard work can sell the pleasures of looking at welds like knuckles or fine single hair brush strokes. Painterliness is a legitimate pleasure or enlightenment, to pick two of the possible rewards of art.
Figurative art is of course evidence of nature and abstract art can be evidence of psychological states or phosphenes. But all art is information about its own creation.


Make 'Em Bang, Looch

Looch had the crowd at US Beer last night, actually early this morning. You heard it here first.