Wednesday, March 28, 2012

A Poem for One of My Models

I wrote this poem today, after starting on a painting of this model last night.

To My Model

This deathly space your body penetrates,
This void between the markers' marbled weights.
Sorrow, grief, and tears on tender cheek bones,
Soften faces of impassive grave stones.

Your limbs enact the passions of my heart,
Your face shows the intentions of my art.
You toss your hair about you, fling it free,
Like chains of some medieval weaponry.

And on the stone of one who, too young, met his fate,
Commemorate death's dance a century too late
With stately kinematic energy,
Then fall to ground from spritely apogee.

And now the shadows, lengthening apace,
Remind us of the transience of this grace.
I whisper benediction on my knees,
And watch you standing taut against the breeze.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Hit Between the Eyes with the Gospel!

I do an awful lot of worrying.  I worry about money.  I worry about the souls of friends and relatives who have left the Faith.  I worry about Socialists taking over our once-great nation.  I worry about Sharia law.  I worry about the insane clutter of my basement and garage.  I worry about this widespread acceptance of homosexual sex, and the attendant loss of souls for eternity.  I worry about my cars breaking down.  Will my children make it in the world?  What kind of a world will they face?  Will their faith endure and carry them through?  Will my wife stay married to me, even though I'm a jerk?  Will I ever get over the injuries that keep me out of the gym?

But every so often (and this doesn't happen as often as it should), I just get hit with the reality that none of this can ultimately touch me.  Even if the forces of evil capture worldly institutions or churches, even if I never get my act together, God still loves me:

    Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?

     As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.

     Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.

     For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,

     Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

I'm not saying that I am going to ever become unconcerned about the affairs of this world.  But I am saying that nothing in this world can touch God's salvation of me through the power of Jesus Christ and his Gospel.  That is forever, and it doesn't depend upon me being a "good guy" or successfully stemming the rising tide of evil in the world.  I ought to relax a bit, knowing that I shall have eternity to spend with my Lord.

But the Gospel urges us on to take action, and if I am not careful, this eventually becomes a kind of semi-Pelagian false "gospel", in which my own works play the deciding role in my eternal destiny.  It is so easy to fall into this, because it is the natural bent of the entire world.  I love this Jefferson Airplane song, Good Sheperd.  But, the lyrics are about salvation based on works.  There is a list of things you must do "if you want to get to heaven":

If you want to get to heaven
Over on the other shore
Stay out of the way of the blood-stained bandit ...

... Stay out of the way of the long-tongue liar ...

... Stay out of the way of the gun shot devil.
It's a lot to worry about.  But the true Gospel bids me instead to rest in Christ's finished work.  Will I do it?  I hope so.  I still worry a lot.  But every so often, unexpectedly, the phenomenal promise of God's grace in the true Gospel come and hit me with full force, and I am at peace.  It doesn't matter if President Obama gets re-elected; I am safe in the arms of God.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Teens Prefer Internet Access to Cars

I heard a story on the radio this morning to the effect that today's teens would choose internet access over having a car.  The content was very similar to that found in this article.

I suppose this should not have shocked me, but it did.  Fewer teens are learning to drive, and are finding that the internet can take them most of the places they want to go.

My assumption, as I listened to the radio bit, was that I myself would by an infinite margin choose the automobile over internet access.  But on further reflection, I believe I only imagined that to be the case because it has been so long since I have really gone without internet access that I can hardly imagine it.  What I now think is that both the automobile and internet access are indispensible for modern life, and that I really would not wish to do without either.  With this in mind asking someone whether he'd sooner go without a car or internet access is a bit like asking which he'd rather go without, water or fire.  I mean, ideally you "need" both of them.  One doesn't replace the other; they do different things.

Still, this shift away from getting one's driver's license at the earliest moment possible is something I cannot relate to in any way.  This is because I think of automobiles as creatures of such majesty (well, okay, only the older ones) that I cannot imagine not wanting to get behind the wheel as soon as possible!

To be sure, internet access now affords one the sort of freedom that driving did back in the day.  This sort of freedom is a major theme in Flannery O'Connor's brilliant novel Wise Blood.

Consider this exchange from John Huston's film version of Wise Blood:
Hazel Motes:  I don't remember this here interstate. Weren't nothin' but a dirt road once.

Truck Driver: I t ain't been here about a year.  Just long enough for everybody to drive off on it. There ain't practical ly nobody left i n Eastrod or Melsy.  They al I done took out for the city.

The automobile allowed one to move outside of the restrictively small world in which one was raised.  The internet now does this to an even greater degree.  In fact, it seems not at all unnatural to reword Hazel's most famous dictum (Nobody with a good car needs to be justified.) in modern terms as:
Nobody with a good internet connection needs to be justified.
I began to think about all that the internet and easily available personal computers have done for us.  We can use it to order a pizza delivered to our front door.  It can bring us an infinite variety of beautiful images with only tiny motions of our fingertips.  With careful use, the internet can make us wise.   And aren't these the things we've always wanted?
And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.  (Genesis 3:6)
I'm not trying to say that the internet is sin, but rather to explain why today's teens might prefer it to the glory that is the automobile.

I do think that to some degree, the automobile has been and will continue to be marginalized by the PC and the internet.  It is, after all, "old tech", originating over 100 years ago.  But what I hope is that as people stop customizing, adoring, loving, and driving their cars, the folks who do continue to be "car people" will band together and do this with ever greater passion.

As I blogged way back here:
As I say, I will leave that for you to ponder, because I have weightier matters on my mind. I mean hot rods! As with Prohibition, government constraints on auto manufacturers (I know, I work for one) have forced them more and more to produce bland, overly-safe, overly-quiet, transportation appliances ... the very opposite thing of what a hot rod has always been. As the new, draconian CAFE standards come into effect there will be, to the minds of many, no new cars worth owning or driving.

And this is where the Old School (a.k.a., Ol' Skool) rodder will begin to shine. Because the need for hot rods, the glory of hot rods ... these are things that will not be denied. If Chesterton's cocktail theory is accurate, increasing government restrictions will only make the fires of automotive love burn hotter in the hearts of customizers and hot rod fabricators. And I believe that you can already see this happening. Behold, the impractical, loud, danger-defying creature that is Aaron Grote's Atomic Punk.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Redneck Fan Clutch FAIL

So your fan appears to be "slipping" sometimes, not rotating at the full speed of the water pump pulley ... what to do?

Simple!  Just weld the fan clutch bolts to the drive hub.  Fixed!

This "repair" was found on the fan of the 1963 Buick 215 Aluminum motor we bought on ebay.   The right way to do this (assuming the fan clutch was even broken!) is to purchase a replacement fan clutch.  The clutch is designed to slip for a reason!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Radio Preacher

On our way back from picking up the engine, we were driving north through Kentucky on I-75, trying to find the NASCAR race on the radio, when we heard this preacher.  In our estimation, he was not an Anglican.

Friday, March 16, 2012

St. Luke's Anglican Parish - Landrum, South Carolina

When I realized that my son and I would be trekking to North Carolina to pick up the motor and transmission he bought on ebay, I looked at what Anglican contacts I had in the area.  It was to be a weekend trip, so we hoped to visit an Anglican parish on Sunday morning before heading back to Detroit.

We ended up visiting St. Luke's Anglican Parish in Landrum, South Carolina.  It is only a few miles from the North Carolina border, and so did not involve a huge amount of extra travel.  Our friend, Fr. Peter Geromel, is the Vicar at St. Luke's.

The parish meets at Landrum Presbyterian Church (see photos below), which was easy to find.  Our visit was on the Third Sunday in Lent.

The service was that of Holy Communion, from the 1928 Book of Common Prayer, by the book, with no funny stuff, which I really appreciated.  The 1928 BCP is still what I am most at home with, and it was great to worship by it once again.

I didn't get an exact count of those present, not wanting to turn around to count those behind us, but I would say that we numbered about 30 souls.

We sang one of my favourite Lenten hymns for the Sermon Hymn, which was #61 (The Hymnal 1940), The Glory of These Forty Days.

The sermon itself was given by the Rector Emeritus, Fr. Frederick Holck, and was very helpful to me in my Lenten journey.  Fr. Holck opened by stating that the foundation of any Lenten discipline must be that it is no longer we who live, but Christ who lives in us, and that if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.  He warned about treating Lent as a mere appendage to an unchanged life, as if we were to put a small patch of new cloth onto a worn and threadbare garment.  It is our entire lives which must be changed, and without this, adding or subtracting things as Lenten "disciplines" is of little use.  What matters is a new creation (new fabric from top to bottom), and meeting Christ is a life-changing experience, Fr. Holck told us.

I wondered about my own life and devotion.  Sometimes it does seem as if my Christian faith and worship are merely things I have added on (as I would add one more hobby) to my life, and that perhaps I have wandered from the devotion which I once had.  It was a sobering thought, and I sat through the sermon very convicted, staring at the gnarled tree in the window (see photo above).

Fr. Holck told a great story to illustrate what the wrong kind of Lenten devotion looks like, one which does not change our core.  His story was of a Catholic priest in New York City, who was heading to the rectory after mass when he was held up at gunpoint.  As he opened his jacket to reach his wallet, the thief became distressed at seeing the priest's clerical collar.  "I did not know I was robbing a priest!", he said, and offered repeated and profuse apologies.  The priest, seeing the distress of the young man, offered him a piece of candy, in an effort to calm him.  The thief's reply was telling:  "Reverend Father!  I do not eat the candies in Lent!!"

And so it is with us who add Lent as a mere appendage to our "same old" lives.

I always give "extra credit" to any parish which does not have the Passing of the Peace, and St. Luke's earns full marks for this.

In all, a very profitable way to spend a Sunday, and a highly recommended place to "worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness".

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Father-Son Bonding via the Medium of Lynyrd Skynyrd

I used to be quite the Lynyrd Skynrd fan, starting around the age of 15.  I still am, I suppose.  They go over the same sort of material, with the same sound, multiple times.  Some might even say that they made essentially the same record several times over.  Maybe, but it is a very good record.

I had either forgotten or underestimated, however, how much of a Skynyrd fan my 17-year-old son is.  We were tooling northward up through Kentucky when this gem came on the radio, and we both loved it, grooving on the great guitar work:

What a great track.  Yes, the worldview leaves something to be desired, buy my son and I are precisely agreed about that, too.

We talked about the group some more, and then it occurred to me to tell him how when I lived in NYC, I had this exact Lynyrd Skynyrd belt buckle. The photo really does not do justice to it; it absolutely sparkled, like a red glass taillamp lens on a shoebox Ford.

Kinda wish I had not thrown it away.  I would have liked to hand it over to my son as some kind of Rite of Passage:
Son, I bestow upon you this Lynyrd Skynyrd belt buckle.  I pronounce and declare you to be now a man!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Boycotting Berea.

Over this past weekend, my son and I made a quick trip down to North Carolina to pick up this motor and transmission which we had purchased on ebay last week. 

Most of the weekend was great, including the driving.  But coming back through Kentucky, we had a very annoying experience.  We were trying to make good time back to Michigan, and so we were pleased that the pace of the Kentucky drivers was brisk.

We decided to stop at this Travelers' Center at Berea, to use the restrooms.  I had a good feeling about it, since they correctly place the apostrophe on the sign.

But the good feeling didn't last long.  The city of Berea in all their wisdom, decided to make us go on a 2-mile tour of their town to reach the Travelers' Center, just so we could see how great their town was.  The thing is, we were in kind of a hurry.  They sent us off at Exit 77 rather than Exit 76, which was much closer to the Travelers' Center.

But the great offense was yet to come.  The place was CLOSED!  Totally locked up!  No access to the restrooms!  As a courtesy, they might have thought to put on the sign:  CLOSED on Sundays.

It was about 50 miles to the next rest area.  And now we knew why everyone drives so fast in Kentucky:  They are trying to get into Ohio or Tennessee, so they can pee.

The one redeeming feature of Berea (which I am officially boycotting for their lack of hospitality!) was this space-age looking High School:

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The Automotive Art of Lawrence Gardinier

The other day, I featured the automotive art of Ed Tillrock.

Today, I'd like to show you the work of another artist we met at the 2012 Detroit Autorama, Lawrence Gardinier.  His stuff is exquisite.  He works in acrylics, and I got to talk to him about his technique.  He uses very small brushes, and magnifying lenses to see what he is doing.  He also mentioned that he is, like myself, self-taught.

The results are spectacular!  It is not often that I see a painter's work and think:  "Wow, I wish I had painted that!"  But Larry's work does that to me.  Well done, sir!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Kodachrome - on the Mourning of the Loss of Film

An artist friend posted a question about film vs digital on her blog, and this was my reply:


I have two nephews who are incredible photographers both, and who bemoan the loss of film. I have a feeling that they will be buying and freezing (or otherwise preserving) film and using it for a long time.

The amount of information captured, and the continuous-vs-discrete thing just makes film totally own digital. I find this so emblematic of what is wrong with the world that I started to write a song about it. We have done what is necessary to allow EVERYONE to be a "pretty good" photographer, while disallowing the best of the best to produce their optimal work. Or, if not "disallowed", then at least "discouraged".

Along those same lines, one of my nephews got a gig as a photographer in Africa for several months on the strength of a "Frankenstein" camera he built with a modern digital body and a coveted 1968 Minolta lens.

Why use a lens created in 1968? Because back then, they didn't know how to make the lenses perfect, and there was some natural distortion to the shape of the lens which makes stunningly beautiful shapes in the out-of-focus portions of short depth-of-field photographs. Now, manufacturers know how to make the lenses perfect, and something has been loss.

The world is crazy. I miss film.
 This song now appears to have been prophetic!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Vinsetta Garage - The Restaurant

When Woodward's legendary Vinsetta Garage closed its doors a little while back, it was a sad day for me.

But making a cool restaurant out of it seems as good a thing to do with the space as anything.

It's only about 2 miles from my house, so I'm sure I will get a chance to eat there after it opens!

Read about it here.

Atheists and Spaghetti

I am puzzled and amused about the fixation of Atheists with spaghetti.

Of course, their references to the Flying Spaghetti Monster are legion.

Just yesterday, an Atheist on facebook "proved" to me that God is a bowl of spaghetti.

Given the logical equivalence of believing in the two, you would think they'd be puzzled by the huge number of people who worship God, and the miniscule (i.e., zero) number who worship spaghetti.  But I guess Atheism just makes you stupid.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

A Blog I Will Be Following - Heather Policky.

I've just (re)discovered the blog of IFBB Professional Bodybuilder Heather Marie (Armbrust) Policky.

It is rare that anyone is so transparent as Heather is in this entry.

Check it out!

Friday, March 2, 2012

Me, Kate Upton, Carl's Jr., the AFA and Sex.

My wife and I have had a long and storied history with the American Family Association.  We go back so far with this organization, in fact, that we pre-date its current name.  It used to be called the National Federation for Decency, and Cindy and I founded an NFD Chapter in Humble, Texas, back in the 1980s.

Our Chapter meetings were interesting, because a lot of "characters" showed up, not all of who had the same notion of decency.  Once, a fellow showed up who was a conspiracy theorist.  He believed that television was evil, because the government had secretly turned every TV receiver into a combination camera and transmitter.  They used it to spy on the citizenry.  If we were watching the TV, the government was watching us.

Another guy showed up just once, a European.  He didn't really hold to our and the NFD's idea that "decency" inheres in the absence of smut.  He had ideas about how people ought to treat other people decently, that kind of thing.  Since then, I have often wished that I had really had the ability to listen to him that evening.  Sometimes, I even wonder if we entertained an angel unawares.

The guy who ran the regional NFD organization was kind of nutcase Fundamentalist.  But maybe so was I; I had not yet discovered Anglicanism and become a nutcase Anglican.  This pastor held a Rally for Decency in Civil Society, or some such thing, which  Cindy and I attended.  The onliest thing about that was that the pastor's definition of decency was basically that women should not wear shorts, and Cindy wore shorts to the rally that day.  We both felt like the guest at the wedding feast who had crashed the party without the proper clothing.  At this rally, the pastor also told us that the Bible defined "nakedness" as any skin being visible above the knee.  We went out later that week and bought Cindy some new, very long jogging shorts, cut ridiculously below the knee, so that she should not be seen running around the small Texas town "naked".

We eventually realized that the Humble Chapter of the NFD was going nowhere, so we dropped out of active participation.  But we still read the NFD/AFA magazine and supported their boycots where we could.

It was still in the 1980s when my thinking started to depart from that of Don Wildmon and the AFA.  I remember that the AFA magazine had featured an editorial by Tim Wildmon, Don's son, about the absolute scandal of bumper stickers on which was written "Shit Happens".  He objected to the coarse language.  I fired off a letter to Tim Wildmon, letting him know that he had missed the point entirely!  I told him that his objection should have been that the bumper sticker denies two basic truths of Christianity:  God's sovereignty and man's responsibility.  By stating that "Shit Happens" the bumper sticker leaves God out of the picture.  It also purports to give man an excuse for his own misdeeds.  Curiously, I never heard back from Wildmon or the AFA.

But I promised you Kate Upton and Carl's Jr., didn't I?  Today, I received an email from the AFA, asking me to boycot Carl's Jr. and Hardee's for running the following "sordid titillation" ...

I guess that since leaving the AFA and buying Cindy some regular length jogging shorts (she has great legs!) I have gone over to the dark side, but I am somehow not shocked or even titillated by the Kate Upton commercial.  Maybe I'm just getting old.  It did make me want a hamburger, I will admit.

Using sexy girls to promote products has been done for a very long time.  I'm sorry to tell Mr. Wildmon and the AFA, but I think they lost this battle at least as early as 1950 ...

The Automotive Art of Ed Tillrock

We ran into some really fine visual artists at Detroit Autorama this year.  I would like to feature two of them on this blog.

The first of these is pencil artist Ed Tillrock.  His stuff is just mind-blowingly good.  His reflections are especially strong.  See what you think.  He does non-automotive subjects, too, chiefly architectural, but I will feature only a sampling of his automotive art here.