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My Interview with a Famous Tomato Soup Can September 17, 2008

Posted by whatacharacter in Art, humor, life.
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Interview with a Soup Can
by G.H. Humes © 2008

Warhol’s Campbells Tomato Soup Can

The following is a rare exclusive interview with Andy Warhol’s famous can of Campbell’s Condensed Tomato Soup [TM reg. pat. off.], which was Campbell’s first brand of soup originating in1897, appearing in the upper left corner of Warhol’s renowned “32 Campbell’s Soup Cans” series of 1962.

This insightful talk offers a rare candid glimpse into the trend setting New York art scene of the early 60’s. How excited I was to be able to interview such a star icon of pop culture! The can obliged to meet with me with the provision that no Swiss army knives or oyster crackers could be in the room. [note: all instances of referring to the can as “Tom” have been removed at the agent’s request.]

I: Thank you for you time Tomato Soup can. It’s been over 46 years since being discovered by Andy Warhol, and making it to the top of the silk-screening scene at “The Factory” in New York City. Your popularity today shows no signs of drawing back. How did you feel back then, going from one factory canning process, to another in art at “The Factory”?

Can: “ ”

I:  Yes, it is indeed one of those existential questions without easy or utter-able answers.  I suppose it was by random chance you were preserved from consommé or otherwise consumed existence (self referring laughter ensues). Tell us how are you feeling after all these years?

Can: “Exp. date Nov 1969”

I:  *laughs* Many of us feel past our expiration dates by a certain age, but certainly you don’t look too yellow around the label. Time has been good, and I’m sure you’ve seen much. Care to relate any wild tales from the NY art scene of the 60s?

Can: “ ”

I: Your hesitancy is natural, and if you prefer to keep your memories private we’d understand … but could you offer perhaps just one tidbit of enlightenment to our readers?

Can: “condensed”

I: Indeed! The confluence of diverse inspirational catalysts certainly permeated the very air in those heady times! Besides Mr Warhol himself, who else would you say were some of the top movers and shakers in those days?

Can: “ ”

I: Perhaps you speak of John Cage. It would be hard to say who else, with so many of the avant-garde counter-culture running around The Factory – like musicians Lou Reed, John Cale, Nico … filmakers, photographers, painters, actors … and who can forget Ultra Violet, or Edie Sedgwick?
How do you feel that the highest price paid for any of the Soup Cans was $11.66 million US in 2006, for a torn labeled Pepper Pot can … and not Tomato?

Can: “ ”

I:  As diplomatic an answer as I can imagine. I’ve felt it somewhat gauche that certain puerile interests in human nature find cans in various states of undress more provocative.
It’s interesting to me that few realize that there were 32 different Campbell’s soup can flavors appearing in the original 1962 show, yet you remain the most iconic of the group!
Do you think the Chicken with Stars soup can is still as presumptuous as back then? And what do you say about the modern “Healthy Choice” low sodium can version of you today?

Can: “ ”

I: Tactful answer. Yes, probably best not to say without your lawyers present. However, if I may ask … which do you prefer, mixing with water or milk?!

Can: “ ”

I: *laughs*  Maybe you burned the photos by now. Quite the steamy pot running around the streets of the Village back then, eh wot?
Regarding Warhols choice to pick you as a pop icon: it seems he consumed quantities of similar soup substances before holding you up before the world. It’s been debated whether someone’s suggestion prompted him, nevertheless he was quoted as saying “I wanted to paint nothing. I was looking for something that was the essence of nothing, and that was it.”
How do you feel about that statement?

Can: “ ”

I: Truer words could not be said … the genius that you are! (applauds)
Well Tomato Soup Can, we certainly appreciate your time *not* opening up to us, as you might smell a bit by now …but we certainly hope you continue to enjoy your sweet success maintaining stark reverence to basic patented consumer marketing … or wait, were you supposed to parody that?

Can: “ ”

I: Zen indeed, Tomato Soup Can! Zen indeed! Let the reader judge for hermself.

More exciting new for next month readers! We pop the lid on Duchamp’s toilet seat, and who knows what we’ll find!? Perhaps old sticky dada?


Perplexed Astonishment August 24, 2007

Posted by whatacharacter in just my blogs, life.

As I look back on over a year of recording my musings online, I notice with some interest that at each step of triumph, there comes a challenge that severely tests me at that place and time. I smile to myself as I see how puny those problems were. It can always be worse, and “knock wood” it won’t. All we can hope for is to expect the best . . . and prepare for the worst, and hope we learn not to make the same mistakes, or continue to go over old worn out patterns again in futility.

If it don’t kill ya, it hunts you down until it does … unless you use your brain!

Today I face the biggest challenge yet, with possible bigger ones in its’ wake, unless I step very carefully. There’s no reason to indulge in frivolous blogspiel under these circumstances, so I won’t for now. Thanks goodness for friends – the good ones who stick with you.

Who know what will happen? Perhaps someday ….

Wish me luck!

Peace & Love, Buhbye!

The 7th Inning stretch August 16, 2007

Posted by whatacharacter in just my blogs, life.

Well, well, take me back out to the ballgame! The 7th Inning in Baseball has traditionally been a time, late in the game, when a break is needed, and people stand up and stretch after a long, uncomfortable sit. There’s music, a song to be sung, maybe a bit of staged fun … and often it’s the last call for beer!

Life has just offered me a brand new opportunity. Sad, scary, and exciting all at the same time, and at my age, and I’d better run with it – as said to me by the young man on the radio call in spot. He’s the one who said I’m in the 7th Inning of life. Yeah I was actually on the radio.

I remain rooting for the home team, but then again I dont care if I never get back.

… stay tuned for more “interesting times” and announcements!

F**ked up F**king July 11, 2007

Posted by whatacharacter in body, health, just my blogs, life, spiritual.

Back-to-basics #3, on another important Heart-related matter. A recent comment here revealed the astute revelation of a certain so-called spiritual master: When Nietzsche declared ‘God is dead’, Fuck became the most important word in the English language.

And what’s more basic or likely to grab your attention? Sex is on everybody’s mind, and there’s no escaping it. It sells. Most people would attribute the sexual drive as a top factor in our conditioning, if not the number one. We are all here as a result of it.

Now, you’re not going to hear this anywhere else, and I’ve never heard anyone ever say what I’m about to on the subject, but this lengthy piece explores the amazing juxtaposition of the word “Fuck” in it’s various connotations. Wow! Can I say that?

I can’t think of another word which contains more paradoxical emotions associated in it, but it’s worth considering. I had figured it’s origins to be Latin or French (fuque?), but actually it’s shrouded in mystery, and likely of Anglo-Saxon origin, which would make it an essential English word for sure.

Think for a moment the vastly opposite meaning we associate with the word.
A great T-shirt might say
Fuck me,
or Fuck you!”
which would sum up the general attitude much of society seems to have on the subject. And society seems so “screwed-up” on so many levels. Media calls it one of the high supreme pleasures one could have . . . or the lowest expression of hatred. How can this be possible?

There may be nothing better than to have a lover gasp breathlessly into your ear, in it’s most intimate form “… fuck me…,” or anything worse to have a hater publicly shout “Fuck you!” at you. The former economically relies on simple mindless repeating, again and again. The latter exercises imagination to it’s limits, combining in outrage a slew of bizarre associations envisioning your mama, and possibly goats.

Is there a problem with this? I’d say so, given how often one aspect leads to the other. It’s funny, shocking, but completely understandable and familiar, to witness a “crime of passion” borne out repeatedly on court room and crime TV, literature and film , a la Fatal Attraction or Dangerous Liaisons. Thanks Glenn Close, for your awesome portrayals of how once you f’, you’re f’ed ─ the 2-sides of the same phrase in question!!

Maybe multiple sexual partners isn’t the great thing society’s media leads us to believe it is. When sexual mechanics become just a fun end to itself, what might it lead to – besides STDs??

Kids, obviously, or at least pregnancy. John Lennon once insightfully observed that probably 90% of us are here due to a fun Saturday night. He said we are mostly all “unwanted.” I’d say unplanned for sure, and hopefully the wanted part comes later. Even so, kids aren’t necessarily bad, but there’s the hard hit on society’s collective esteem. With all its life-changing fiats and sudden emotional surprises like fear, resentment, indifference, guilt, etc. having a child colors the whole world in it’s unique hue. Love is rarely the dominant sensibility. Sadly and remarkably,“Homicide is a leading cause of pregnancy-associated injury deaths,” Chang and colleagues wrote in the American Journal of Public Health in 2005. Abortion is a separate topic.

Power is another widely felt aspect of sexual practice, often one-sided. The biblical sin of Sodom and Gommorrah was rape (not homosexuality as commonly thought). If it’s not rape, perhaps fucking is consensual rape(?), if it’s using another person for conquest, physical release, and/or some kind of ego-validation. Occasionally sexual power is turned against oneself as well, in the form of debasing addictions or fetiches (slavery?).

Call me a romantic, but I believe the sexual union to be more like Christmas (pick your own favorite holiday), than a booty call. Never to never be a one-sided end to itself, but a means to a special connection on a deep human level. The judeo-christian scriptures talk about the “two becoming one flesh,” which goes along with the hindu concept that sex symbolizes a great union, where the man has “something extra” he seeks to give, and the woman has “an empty space” she seeks to fill. The union of opposites. Yin/Yang. Viva la difference!

I once read early on that sex indebts ourselves karma-wise, to that person forever, which had a wide effect in changing my thinking. Is this action worth it? Is it’s value worth calculating, or is sowing wild oats best expended in mindless volume? How many partners will you allow to “get under your skin,” or divide your heart? And we all know whoever we sleep with, we also “sleep”with everyone they ever have …

It’s remarkable to me that humans can blush with embarrassment. What evolutionary function might this have? Besides the fact that humans have developed an also unique face-to-face coital position, to separate us from other mammals, what else is different about us? Certainly there is a sensually liberating wildness to sex which is fundamentally arousing, but for people, it’s different than animals doing it on the Discovery channel.

My ideal understanding of sex, is essentially a physical/spiritual union of profound mutual (two-sided) empowerment, given growth in time. To have a healthy dose of respect, honor, devotion, tenderness and love on a mental, emotional, physical, and deeper level, is perhaps the greatest gift to ourselves and the other, and the most important decision we can say “yes” to in this life. To nurture and cherish this connection has lasting benefits to both partners and has no shame. One may not see this for years, but given time, never without difficulty, love blossoms. Soulmates become.

Simple indulgence, joining then ripping away, no doubt can have significant negative impact upon our psyche. Lost sight of trust, and deep sharing relationships, is a hard price to pay. Yes, we’re all incompatible in some ways, and those areas should be apparent at the beginning – but compatibility strengthens with time. Weighing the compatibility risks for a relationship needs to be explored before sex (read: fucking) skews (fucks) the human chemistry.

Too many people become experts in insulating themselves from the embarrassment factor, and suppressing the blush and shame from having severed intimate involvement. Society “Bobbitizes” itself constantly by doing this, IMHO.

For perhaps not a bad reason, marriage is basically a sacred oath of commitment, but like so many physical relationships it can be casually fallen into, then commonly broken away. Along goes a piece of our trusting hearts forever. Too often if not a shared break-up, one can suffer terribly, and lives are shattered – fucked up – for a long time. Songs are written about it. Lives are lost.

Yeah, well we all make mistakes … me included. The profound benefit for sexual couples is rarely seen in this light, because such insight is understood by very few of us . . . no thought given, no impulse controlled, no matter how many experiences we fool ourselves into saying it’s all ok, harmless fun. Maybe you’ve read all this and think I’m full of shit, but that’s another word for another topic. Just admit there’s a weird kamasutraesque juxtaposition between the 2 meanings of that word “fuck,” and fuck off, will ya?

So in conclusion, everyone tell your kids, step-kids, fosterkids, and god-children, whenever the time is right, “Fuck and you’re fucked! May you love, and be loved forever!”

I’d rather not talk about it … December 6, 2006

Posted by whatacharacter in humor, just my blogs, life.

Today’s blog will be about all the things I’d rather not talk about right now. This pretty much sums it up for me. Just thought I’d share this with you and the world … on this blog. Today. I realize it isn’t saying much, but there ya go.

I will say this:

I’ll tell ya what “Brown does for me.”


UPS better find out what made my spiffy new custom ordered Toshiba Tecra M7 Tablet laptop PC, get signed over as “DELIVERED,” to someone named “Barrow” at the “Dock” location, in Seattle. I know it wasn’t to me … and I’ve been soooo waiting for this because its a freekin’ spiffy TABLET laptop and has cost me many thousands of dollars, and I thought I’d do some really great art stuff on it – for work, and 3D for my portfolio – and it would be the answer to all my problems, and Clarence the angel would get his wings, and …

well, I’d guess I’d rather not talk about it.

Talk about stress tests! November 19, 2006

Posted by whatacharacter in health, just my blogs, life.
1 comment so far

Appropriately for a blog with HEART as it’s first name, I recently paid a visit to ye local cardiologist’s. A sonogram was taken of my heart, and I ran that wacky treadmill stress-test for old people, with electrode’s running off me like a jelly fish’s tendrils. It’s amazing to see a live ultrasound view of your beating heart, with all the flaps and chambers squeezing their little hearts out. Not so fun to hear I should also do the tread mill, but I wore my running shoes just in case.

I was referred by my own doc, due to an unusually low heart rate. While most folk thump at 60-80 bpm, I was lurking at 40. My blood pressure and cholesterol has always been low. Often doctors ask me if I’m an athlete (not really, but I keep toned, and despite a slight and frightening midriff thickening I remain slender). The bottom EKG line was that everything looked good, and my heart is thankfully ready to go for another 380,ooo,ooo miles.

However, in my exhaustion from the stress test, I dont remember the doctor addressing why my resting heart rate was still low. Well, I called back and opened my big mouth, so now I go back in 2 days, get a 24 hr heart monitor to wear, which will record every beat.

I figure it’s all probably fine … I’ve always lived to a different beat. Been into moderate excercise for a while, with intermittent cycles of decent cardio work outs, plus Taiji practice.

Also, I’ve been reading about yoga, which surely has a calming subliminal affect …

Like any educated, self-reliant American, I figured out a good regimen on my own. To raise my heart rate, I will increase my salt intake, smoke a lot, and drink buckets of coffee. McDonald’s has been off my list for awhile, but I figure twice a week should tweak some stress on my heart.

If all else fails I’ll take up the New England Journal of Medicine’s advice, and oogle woman’s breasts.

Just 10 minutes of staring at the charms of a well-endowed female is roughly equivalent to a 30-minute aerobics work-out” declared gerontologist Dr. Karen Weatherby.

“Sorry miss, but I’ll need another 9 minutes and 56 seconds … it’s for my health!! 😀

Being, Thinking, Freaking November 16, 2006

Posted by whatacharacter in just my blogs, life.

Pondering much, both frustrating and inspiring.

Emphasis on finding my place on my path,

questioning whether time is squandered

…or still germinating with hope

God, Jesus, Spirit

Ashtanga yoga, meditation, and the 8 limbed path

Career building to produce a better 3D portfolio

Getting a new scanner/printer and a spiffy new Toshiba tablet laptop(!)

Relationships: kids, wife, parent, family, friends

Cardiologist tomorrow for an echocardiogram to see why my heart rate is around 40 bpm

Best for you! September 7, 2006

Posted by whatacharacter in humor, just my blogs, life.

Best for you Best for you Best for you.

It’s written all over the quirky Chinese greeting card we got this summer.

“Only the person

cherish ones youth

He is the most beautiful person in the world. ”

Only a drunk Confucius could have said it better … cherish it because just as the summer ends and the flower fades, so goes life. That’s the gist of the physical part of it, and I’ve been feeling it a lot lately.

I wasn’t quick enough to save the Hotmail account I’ve had forever. Fully aware of the 30 day log-in or die expiration, I managed to lapse and lose years of emails I’ve hoarded. I bet I missed it by a day too. Everything changes, nothing’s permanent. My memory fails to recall if I’ve even lost anything special … probably just a lot of old jokes.

Even as I complete another Solar revolution next month, my vow will be to remain the most immature 40-somethingish year old alive, while cashing in on a wealth of experience. I guess I’m hitting real middle-age now, and it’s probably time to get real, having spent my twenties acting 30s, and my thirties acting 20s. The 40s are the 40s.

Like the waning days of summer, the 40s are full of desperate energy among busy bees, and graceful loss of chlorophyll in trees.

Navigating Life’s Big Dig September 4, 2006

Posted by whatacharacter in Art, humor, just my blogs, life.

Boston was recently the scene of the most suspenseful episode of “Lost” yet. I always wanted to see more of this historic city, since I fly into Logan airport on the way to caretake the family Cape Cod Cottage, but, Lord, I never intended to explore it this way.

Getting out of Boston on arrival – which I never have trouble with – was a headache just to start off. Maybe it was because my whole family was in the car this trip, or perhaps it was the result of Boston’s century long “Big Dig” improvement project, that I was disoriented. Nevertheless, it’s a heart-sinking experience to cruise right past an exit, suddenly recognizing it and thinking, “I should’ve gone THAT way …” then spending the next 25 minutes recovering one’s bearings along the meandering streets of the 376 year old city. But this was only the ironic set-up for the return trip.

I rarely take the rental car “pre-pay” option for a tank of gas, but with a much better price deal, I did. This means that to take full advantage, you return it as empty of fuel as you safely can. We sure did.

Relying on my wonderful wife’s navigation to get us back to the rental car return, outside the Boston airport, she focused on the car company’s printed directions, to “stay in the left lane,” rather than on the route # we were supposed to exit to. Invariably, the Big Dig had rendered the printed directions obsolete, and the exit was now upon the right. Complicating this fact, due to road construction changing every week, the City of Boston seemed to have stopped bothering to put up any new signs on the highway for guidance, so once again we went off into the city with no clue how to find the correct route again … but this time facing a blinking “Low Fuel” idiot light, and a flight soon to catch home to Seattle.

Twisted overpasses, bridges, and off-ramps whiz by in spaghetti-like confusion, as my delirious wife urges me in desperate tone to find a gas station. The kids in the backseat are gently coaxed to “Shut the Hell up –NOW!” and to clutch their bladders. No less than 3 missed turn offs then occur, turning too soon in the expected direction, only to see the correct route sign ahead on a different road.

And then … I set upon “the bridge with no end.” An ancient 4 lane trestle bridge, it took to the air with alarming altitude, and appeared to go on forever. My inner senses told me there was no existing area of Boston with the equivalent topography on the other end to match this bridge, unless it concluded in Canada, 500 miles away. This was it: it gets me to where we need to go, or I run out of gas here, 1 billion feet above nose-bleed level. My wife now curled up in a ball, silently quivering, kids ashen with blank stares, me white knuckling and pleading with the heavens.

The bridge did actually manage to come to an end, and I *knew* we were very close to our destination. Indeed, I find by sheer luck the correct road to take us to the rental car company, brazenly weighing the odds and ignoring any likely side-street leading to a gas station. Finally we pull in, exhausted engine gasping on damp fumes.

Expecting a triumphant celebration, I was scarcely congratulated at all, but in my heart I knew I was a hero – my tenacity and superior sense of direction had won against all odds, even though I knew for some it was too much to handle.

This really long story, made just long, serves also to illustrate the confusion I’m currently experiencing with my career and artistic endevors: I am close to desperate to find the right signs, so I can get off and ultimately reach my heart’s content. Again my overworked wife is getting desperate.

Much like Robert Frost’s poem “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening,”

Boston is lovely, its’ streets are deep,

But I have promises to keep,

a rental car to return

My fuel is all but burn’d

Have a plane to catch so hurry the *bleepin’ bleep*,

Art to do, a career to seek

And miles to go before I reap

And miles to go before I sleep

etc. et.al.

Alias:Jaggy September 2, 2006

Posted by whatacharacter in Art, humor, just my blogs, life, mind.

A true moment of creative fun occured at work last week. I made a small animated GIF illustrating the natural conditions for Lightning. 187821_clouds3.gif I haven’t made an animated GIF since unleashing animated hobbits upon an unsuspecting world 5 years ago, and am extremely grateful the process has improved. Using Adobe ImageReady for the first time, it enabled me to keep the anti-aliased (smoothed) transparent qualities of Photoshop, which was hard do do way back when. Photoshop used to be the last choice. In the dark ages, a jagged aliased edge was required for a good transparent background, otherwise some color, usually a default black or white, would bleed into the image edge, creating a fringe, known as the dreaded “jaggies” as can be seen around the dancing Hobbit lass. missy.gif Since I was too lazy to pick off each stray pixel, I aliased her against the purplish Hobbitdance background, which is probably why no one ever stole my dancing hobbits to use in Myspace … the jaggy purple fringe looks terrible against any other background.

On a personal skew, the same analogy applies (or is it a metaphor/ alliteration/simile?) : by smoothing out life’s unwanted jagged edges – and there are many – I can better fit into the scene. This means that spiritual, professional and financial laziness, and unhealthy habits, I think, are creating an unattractive, badly-animated, me. Unfortunately no Photosoulshop exists. I must rid the jagged pixels one-by-one. Tedious, but there’s no easy way that I know of … the self-examined life is full of jaggies.