Arts, culture, ideas & expression of a few wild art monkeys living in an arts loft in Jersey City.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

DESIGN CHRONICLES- "Reclaiming" History

*Kitchen Counter Island
-made from an old heavy duty push cart, church pew and drafting table.

My favorite design aesthetic these days has been anything with RECLAIMED WOOD and recovered materials. The "Upcycled", "reclaimed", "recovered" design philosophy has gone from low-brow to trendy in the passed few years. Hell, even "steam-punk" owes some of it's aesthetic to the concept of reclaiming our materials and thus reclaiming our history.
We're living in the disposable-age and although it's great that our products are now created with their degradability in mind, what has transpired as a result is the perceived obsolescence of the products we buy and the disposable character that is inherent in those materials. What we are left with are products that don't age well, leave a mark or illicit reminiscent memories. We don't have mason jars, we have plastic bottles. Most of our literature is in magazine form or completely virtual. Our table is made out of MDF, our dresser is a pressboard composite, our bookshelf is pine and even our floors are a fake wood laminate on top of 1/2" plywood. What would you pass down to your kids or even your little brother for that matter?!
Like many, I got into the reclaimed design world out of necessity. I didn't stumble on a design blog site and think to myself, "I can do that!" I literally just found myself unable to afford furniture and having moved around a few times realized that none of my contemporary furniture survived more then one move, so... I started building. I was not by any stretch of the word considered "handy". In fact I could barely build a box and absolutely hated having to build things. I was however passionately interested in the designing part, and found a partner in design with my best bud, who was quite adept at constructing things.After years of working here at 660, through necessity I developed the skills to work with found materials. We are in a post-industrial area which was much like a wasteland when I 1st arrived 10yrs ago, so it was great for garbage picking. I recovered old doors and hardware, scrap wood & metal as well as hand me down paints and materials. I went to work on some assemblage styled doors and furniture, teaching myself how to distress and age new wood as well as recover the beauty in old discarded wood and this made me go from hating the act of building to truly loving and finding purpose in it. The wood is grateful when it is restored and so am I.
We live and experience memories just like our father and his father did, yet why can't the remenants of our existence age with character like theirs have? If I live 80 years why can't the objects I live among show the signs of that age and take on the character of a well used, well lived lifetime? Working with reclaimed woods gives me the opportunity to live amongst furniture that will be there,age along with me, and share in my experiences the way furniture has done for generations and should for generations to come.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Secret Tip of the day {Philosophy Break}

If a solution can't be found by dealing with the issue directly, then cultivate change in the environment that it's flourishing in. If you change the environment that it's in, it's likely to change as well. The trick is learning HOW to guide it.

oh it's a 'secret' because your probably the only one reading this, therefore your the only person I'm talking to.


Decisions Decisions- The awesome power of choice. {Philosophy Break}

Decisions. The bottom line is when you make a clear decision, you set the path. When you ignore the opportunity to make a decision, you allow chaos to flourish. In some cases that's actually a good thing, allowing the chaos to flourish for a while can invigorate the event and create more creative opportunities, however sitting in indecision too long can lead to emotional turmoil and then yer stuck making rash decisions or ill guided choices. Choosing a direction literally forces the chaos out of the area in question and propels you in the direction of that decision. You've felt it before. All of a sudden your seeing opportunities pop up before you as if some divine guide is working on your behalf. It cuts through the bullshit, the chaos and the distractions.
This is the awesome power of decision.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Good cop/ Bad cop... or is it Good dog/Bad dog? {Philosophy Break}

"When the motivation to be good runs dry the temptation to be bad shows up in the mirror staring at you with its vacuous eyes pleading with you to give yourself the attention you deserve."
*portion of a painting/sculpture that no longer exists

Like anybody else I started out in this life a really good kid, but by the time I was a teenager I realized bad behavior got you further in life and I've been bouncing back & forth from each side of the tracks ever since. One day I'm the good cop fighting for truth justice and fairness and the next I'm the bar hopping misogynist shouting expletives and declaring territory. There's a battle brewing within all of us like two shareholders arguing over the future of our souls, or atleast it can feel that way at times. I've come to appreciate both the devil & the angel on my shoulder and try to put each of them to good use, but there are times when one has more of my ear then the other. Its at these times that I have to remember that neither of them know how to drive and just sit in the backseat doling out their biased opinions. You could give either of them the wheel and you'd find yourself broken down on the side of the road. The only difference is you'll either end up at a truck-stop bar or a good samaritan's couch. Frankly neither option works for me. Pure good is too boring and pure bad is wayyyy too rotten. I think the trick has been to ride the line through youth and then evolve towards being mostly good with your intentions and adding a few dashes of bad to spice up the pot and keep things interesting. But what about when you feel like you've gone from Good Cop to Good Dog or your Bad Cop devolves to just a BAD DOG?! My perspective may be distinctly masculine when I use these examples, so if you're a dude you may know what I'm saying and if you're a woman; hang tight because this may be a peak into the other side.

The very notion of bad & good has been argued philosophically/sociologically ever since we've been gathering around a fire and if either exist, then all we can say for sure is that both of them are here to stay in some form or another and religeon can only act as a guide. For me, the fight has always been with "why". Why do I care, Why should I, Why can't I, Why bother? These questions are louder when you're young, but as you age you have more control over your brain vehicle. You can't yell at the voices over giving you bad directions anymore. It's up to you to use your common sense. The real problem is you miss the old days when you were ignorant don't you? Making mistakes, giving out half hearted apologies and gettin on with it. Those days have passed and blissful ignorance can only be replaced by willful ignorance and that's just plain irresponsible. Your too old to be drunk on emotion, too old to pretend you don't know how things are gonna play out and too old to use the same tired excuses. You need to understand why and what your doing, or atleast you should. The problem is can you be a good cop without feeling like your just a good dog trying to appease others and earn your right to a piece of juicy steak instead of the same ol dry crunchy crap?

You have to do it for you. Having a muse is great at the start but in the end you will levy your behavior on whether they deserve you at your best and all that does is guarantee you will be a variant version of your better self. I'll pretend I know what you're thinking; "but what about my heroes, the icons...those that didn't give a shit and kicked ass all the way to the top?!" I can't answer that. You're right. They had a ton of fun, were probably forgiven for all their wrongs and some even cleaned up their act right before the final curtain. If you can manage that; do you. It's alot harder then it looks and not many come out in one piece.

So yer waiting for me to tell you why being good is the answer aren't you? Sorry, but I can't do that either. There is already way too much bad out there, so all I can suggest is for you to do yourself the favor of being cognizant of your decisions/ actions/behaviors and if in doing so you make some selfish choices or refuse to be patient and accepting, so be it, atleast you don't feel like yer a well behaved lap dog living in fear of punishment. You're the driver, so no matter how bad the angel wants you to stop and help that person with a flat tire or how loudly the lil devil shouts about the GIRLS GIRLS GIRLS sign you just drove past, you have to remember that neither of them know where you're going, and nor does anyone outside of you- so just treat them like the helpful travel buddies they are and enjoy your story, good and bad.
Tom Waits-

Guest Writer Adam Grow tells us exactly what he thinks about Republican candidate; Mitt Romney

Here at 660soup we have an extended family. Folks who have spent alot of time with us and have contributed to our growth. That's the case with Adam. He was family before I even got to know him and his passion for politics, food and farming has kept us educated on the current administration and scared to death that zombie robots can attack us at any minute.
Below you will find the un-edited rant by our friend to fruits and vegetables. Dig in.


Mitt Romney is an Actor, Businessman and Politician that will only perpetuate the dangerous
and unprecedented Conflict of Interests between Corporate power and Politics. This ideology is not
one that empowers the Citizens of the United States but one that will first consider how much is being
traded and ultimately how much profit is generated for a small class of people. He is not a visionary
for human rights, scientific development or human capabilities, but a modern day Profit for a myopic
worldview, drunk on the exclusive abundances produced by the concentration of a technologically
enhanced society. Instead of the abundant energies of People and Communities being multiplied and
invested back into the community for the benefit of that community, all the energy is being harnessed
and funneled into the pockets of centralized power hungry institutions. We are being mechanically
milked, leaving only enough to barely keep us alive, for a little while. This ideology does not first value
the Rights, Needs or Wants of the People. Since money and the movement of large amounts of it from
one place to another has become the most important function and form of “free speech,” the Needs of
the People have been marginalized and have even become problematic.
His endless flip-flopping on every issue is evidence of his polished pandering baiting the
American Public into a businessman's paradise. Romney will not say exactly what he will do in office
or which programs and departments he will cut but you can be sure that he will promote the
centralizing 'trickling down' agenda of the Corporate/Political worldview, not feeding the communities
from the bottom up. He looks at America like a businessman. It is a large corporation ready to be
gutted, sold off and privatized. Nature is abundant and provides enough for everyone. When man
privatizes ownership over our natural resources and pockets the 'excess', it creates artificial scarcity
which drives the market even further into a vicious and competitive cycle. That excess is meant to be
shared. Why are our only suggested leaders those of extreme wealth and investment? These people are
not in touch with the everyday reality of the majority of People.In fact their view is skewed by the
limitless profits and the relative flexibility of Nature. Mitt Romney will praise the tree heights in
Michigan, or drag Foxworthy around the South while eating cheesy grits, but feels most himself
behind the closed doors of powerful foundations, groups and institutions that we never voted for.
This Romney supported ideology is a health and environmental disaster. It aims at privatizing
profits generated from the power industry while it mitigates the severity and socializes the cost of these
institutions. It marginalizes and corrupts the function of EPA standards and every other 'Consumer'
watch group. The Academy of Science estimated that People already pay an estimated $120 Billion a
year in Health Care costs directly related to the gas and oil industry. The value of the environment is
too valuable for estimation. This ideology will not protect us from Bp oil spills, or from the
contaminated water and soil from the hundreds of undisclosed carcinogenic ingredients in Hydraulic
Fracking, or the many threats from Nuclear wastes or accidents such as Fukushima. It will not protect
us from the billions of gallons of glyphosate pesticides, hormones, pharmaceuticals, mercury,
neonicotinoid herbicides, greenhouse emissions, genetic pollution, plastics, oil, radiation and other such
poisons accumulating in our bodies and in our environment. How much are we willing to pay for
unmitigated centralized privatization of our energy needs? What kind of disaster will it take to unite us
in a more humble and altruistic worldview? How much pollution can we and the environment take
before critical mass? Our health is being sacrificed for the efficiency of the machine.
Romney will guarantee that everyone who promotes this Corporate/Political ideology, who
created the corrupted Financial Infrastructure will continue to influence it's development and control.
These Institutions such as 'Too Big Too Fail' Goldman Sachs, Bank of America, and the Federal
Reserve that have caused our financial collapse are still in place and have been hired to “fix” them.
Reading the official Senate Subcommittee Report on Financial Collapse is enlightening. Imagine if our
community banks had the same power of money creation as these companies, such as Fractional
Reserving, but reinvested the monies back into local economies. Money is not real. It is only a tool. It
is a piece of paper we assign value because we believe in it. Romney will surely continue our
dependence on these complex gambling schemes that produce no product of actual value. These are
unsafe gambling bets on the future of OUR public works, credit, energies, homes, pension plans,
retirement plans, trusts and children.
This businessman worldview will not protect our access to information or our internet freedoms.
The internet could be the most influential industry to ever be created by Man, with millions of users
shaping it's function and capability everyday. It could mean free and unlimited access to the entire
world both physically and abstractly. It is more than just a tool, but more like an entire industry, like
steel. It can create tools to whatever function we need or desire. It could be used not just to facilitate
basic physical needs such as food, water and technology, but information access and educational
development. The new found capabilities from information processing about the world through 'data
mining' using complex algorithms to predict and create models are endless. We can create universes
inside universes. Limiting usage, overprotecting Intellectual property and privatizing not just content
but functions of this universe will be most profitable. To have an open and free internet tool is not in
the interest of the status quo. By breaking it up into pay levels with the quickest most abundant network
of information access will only be afforded to those wealthy enough to pay for such 'valuable'
capabilities.We can create and facilitate endless free abundance for everyone or the most advanced
form of panoptical tyranny ever seen. It could level or flatten the world down as an even playing field,
or it could concentrate that energy into dominating institutions that produce ultra refined heavily
financed products as leverage for the wealthy class. The internet is a powerful tool of the People and
will surely be limited by CISPA and other bills designed for the Military /Industrial/Corporate Complex
to spy, analyze and shut off access. Our future will depend on how the Internet will be shaped.
Romney's World View is a social nightmare. Besides all of the implication on how the Military
Financial, Business, Corporate, and Environmental issues impact our social lives, this ideology
promotes Privatized Prison which under contract the State would be required to keep them 90% Full!
The state would be subject to a Corporate entity! There will be a quota on how many prisoners a state
must have. This is backwards and resembles fascism. The implications of this are staggering. What
lengths will the state and corporations go to keep them full? A state that doesn't work to keep people
out of prison, but one that tries to keep them in! We already have the highest incarceration rate in the
world. Romney has also divulged to rich investors in a private meeting, overheard by NBC News, that
he will cut housing and urban development departments in government. He will surely condone the
illegal foreclosures of Bank of America and put education and health for the majority on the back
burner. He will pander just enough to give the illusion of progress. Let's not confuse technological
progress with Moral Progress. Romney will gut the Constitution and sell off the parts to the highest
bidder, leaving some hollow shell of redefined terms for the rest of us to squabble over.
Please, do not vote or support Romney. In essence, let's not vote for any of these wealthy
candidates force fed to us to believe that we have some semblance of choice. The Liberal vs
Conservative battle is just an illusion. It is a contrived farce to give the illusion of real discussion, but
both sides live within the same paradigm of the Military/ Corporate/ Industrial/ Technological/
Political/ Monetary Complex. There is only People, their needs and the technologies to satisfy them.
Let us concentrate on that which unites us rather than that what differentiates us. We all want the same
things. Clean food, Water, Air, a Safe Family, Homes, Education, Energy and Opportunity. Whether
you live in China, Burma, Afghanistan or The United States...Whether you live in the Ghetto or in
Beverly Hills...We want Freedom, Justice and Happiness for All. Deep inside the Human Heart is Good
and wants to see and create Good. It is only when there is scarcity both real and contrived that we fear.
We fear, struggle and lose sight of the big picture. We lose sight of the abundance of this world. We
forget the miracle of life, and the power we have as Human Beings in the United States of America to
unite, choose and create how we want to live. Let us have a national dialogue and discuss how we
envision our futures and build toward that goal. We must have faith in the goodness of creation and the
human heart. We can choose a candidate that fully represents our ideals such as FDR's 2nd Bill of Rights
through a Direct Democracy.

-Adam Grow

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Art of Being {Philosophy Break}

When I started writing the title for this post I intended it to be about the art of being happy despite others attempts at foiling your happiness and ruining your day. I had just completed a post about Perspective & Understanding but felt I had more to say on a related subject and that was; the presence of being, contentment, authentic self & personal integrity. I quickly chopped out all the B.S and went with the current title; The Art of Being.
I went with this title because the others were far too limiting. I didn't want to talk about happiness in and of itself or personal integrity solely either. I wanted to talk about BEING-ness and the Art of existing in that state of being despite the obstacles. I won't pretend to be a zen master to any extent, but my goal is to be in a content state of mind that ensures I am doing my best to understand my situations and to make the best of them as they unfold before me. If I fail at understanding something or give in to emotional impurities then I try and rectify the situation by grabbing hold of the steering wheel and driving myself out of the muck and into a positive field of opportunity.
Opportunity is a good word. It comes with all these mysterious implications and that's the point isn't it? When we find ourselves down a road where the opportunities for a peaceful state of mind are limited its up to us to provide a more positive environment for our mind. You don't have to hate yourself for failing to regulate your emotions or getting yourself in a sticky situation if you acknowledge that you played a part in getting yourself there and commit yourself to getting out of it in a timely manner. The Art of Being isn't about BEING great, or BEING perfect, it's about being present and being willing to accept the path put before us, then making the adjustments necessary to get yourself on the track towards a peaceful state of mind.
A peaceful state of mind doesn't wallow, regret or react- It responds and in order for your responses to be in line with the peace you desire they have to be in line with peace in general, which means you've got alot of work to do (lol), because if your like me...everyday is a struggle to not shout out your frustrations and hope the world rushes to change for you. The fact is that rarely happens, but the trick is that every time you take a moment to be in the moment and align your actions with your goal towards peace, you find yourself there a little bit longer every time.

*closeup from my painting "TRUTH"


Understanding & perspective. {Philosophy Break}

* closeup of one of my paintings titled "Make room for change" currently in private collection.

I talk an awful lot about perspective. If anything my fascination borders on obsession because as long as there are obstacles to overcome I am reminded that perspective changes everything. Wayne Dyer has a book, which I believe is called Change your mind, Change your life and a friend recently stated; "If you can't change your circumstances, change your perspective". I agree with both sentiments and 'understanding' is the key to getting anywhere with broadening your perspective.
Perspective and opinion are not exactly the same thing although they are closely related. We come to an opinion based on our perspective on any given situation or subject and those opinions determine the course of our life. Personally I find that having a regular self check is crucial in maintaining and evolving a healthy perspective. You have to ask yourself; Am I being fair, Am I listening, Am I understanding, and do so often enough to be sure your opinions are even relevant The way to do that is to invite a few healthy standards into your perspective. Some of mine are; gratitude, foresight and acceptance. My self check usually starts with these because forgetting to be open minded and accepting can be why we're frustrated and forgetting to be grateful could be why we're feeling victimized. Acceptance is more about being in the present. "This is what is happening or has happened and I will deal with it from that point of acceptance and presence",. I know I'm starting to sound like a self help guru or life coach, or maybe that was 20 blog posts ago, but nevertheless one of the facets of my self check is to relay what I've experienced to others and see if it sticks. So if you're reading this, hopefully I don't have to ask you to bare with me while I explain further. ;)

All to often we find ourselves wasting time wallowing in self pity or aggrivation and discontent. This is something that often leads us down the bumpy roads we hate being down but cant seem to prevent..but we CAN prevent it with perspective and understanding. Its the key to a healthy mind and a healthy mind is key to a healthy body, healthy relationships etc; so rather then bitch about what makes us unhappy why not change from within? We are the only person we have the right to demand change from. If you aren't happy its gonna take more then a dash of assertiveness to generate a lasting solution, so don't justify why your in the situation your in with the ol "I tried, but" excuse. You don't do a few things out of character and if it doesn't work go back to feeling sorry for yourself and bitching bout your life or hating others. If your arguement is that there is nothing you can do, or that you've tried everything, then quite frankly I don't think you understand the situation you are in. You literally have to MAINTAIN a healthy system of perspective that reminds you when you could be upping your game and then commit yourself to doing so. In short, by taking this approach you not only make yourself a more responsible and enjoyable person to be around but you will be happier for it because you know that your the one responsible for your own happiness-noone else, not your lover, brother or mother..YOU.

Thas all for now.