Books That I’ve Read Recently/ Number 2

December 19, 2014
Nancy Cunard

Nancy Cunard

Nancy Cunard Heiress, Muse, Political Idealist by Lois Gordan c2007 247 pages

Opium: Reality’s Dark Dream by Thomas Dormandy c2012 366 pages

The Secret Museum by Molly Oldfield c2013 352 pages

Rarest of the Rare Stories behind the Treasures at the Harvard Museum of Natural History by Nancy Pick c2004 178 pages

The Stammering Century by Gilbert Seldes c 1928 414 pages


Psychoanalytic Explorations in Art by Ernst Kris c1952 358 pages

American Visions The Epic History of Art in America by Robert Hughes c1997 635 pages

Metropolis by Thomas Elsaesser c2012 112 pages. British Film Insititute Book series.  2nd edition.

Salesman by J.M. Tyree c2012 103 pages. British Film Insititute Book series

Stroheim by Arthur Lennig c200 514 pages

Erich von Stroheim

Erich von Stroheim

I‘ve read a lot of other things this year as well.  There are too many to list here.  Some were books related to music including blues and jazz.  There were other books related to Nancy Cunard and Erich von Stroheim.  I read several books on Orson Welles.  I’m in the middle of work by Rabelais.  I’m always looking at Surrealism.  I read poetry at random including work by Kenneth Patchen, Lorca,  John Keats and Bob Kaufman.  Then the comics including work by Walt Kelly, Virgil Partch, Milt Gross, Charles Addams and more.  There’s no end to books!

Why I Don’t Drive a Car

November 14, 2014

Picture of a Rusty Old Car

I haven’t tried to drive an automobile since I was a teenager!  I suppose I should try to learn, just in case.  It might be handy in an emergency.

This is strange, because I live in Detroit.  My city played no small part in the ascendancy of the motor vehicle.  Here, if you don’t drive or don’t have someone to drive you, you’re in trouble.

Detroit has one of the worst mass transit systems of any big city in the United States, if not the world.  It’s as if everything’s designed to force you to buy and drive a car!

It all started with a bad experience in a driver’s education class.  I hadn’t really done a lot of preparation driving before the class and just went in there cold.  I didn’t catch on fast enough and the instructor lost his temper with me.  He’d yell at me and maybe fume a bit.  That soured me on the whole thing.  I wasn’t eager to drive in the first place.  This just helped to push me in the other direction.

Quickly, I got used to being a pedestrian.  I used to bicycle a lot.  For various reasons, I stopped.  Maybe someday I’ll get into that again.  I’d rather do that than buy a car.

The Detroit bus system went from bad to worse to worse.  I managed to get used to it. Just this morning, I had to wait over an hour for the bus.  I’d got to the bus stop early to be sure that I caught it.  It never came.  It was in the 20’s and my feet got cold. The driver of the bus I got on said that the previous coach had been hit by a car!  That’s the way it goes sometimes.  I hope that no one got hurt.

Anyway, riding the bus does have its good points.  I get a lot of reading done.  I’ve read hundreds of books while riding the bus.  I’ve done many hundreds of drawings on the bus too.

I appreciate the sense of being with the average, everyday people of my city.  People are almost always friendly and/or keep to themselves.  I’m the same way myself.  Though I rarely get into conversations with people, it’s usually interesting when I do.  I’ve only had to take a taxicab a few times.

It can be rough walking everywhere.  It’s good exercise though. Sometimes I walk for miles and miles.

I wrote a poem called My Life as a Pack Mule about lugging groceries and packages all around.  If you’re carrying a lot of stuff, you can’t just “leave it in your car.”  I’ve been mistaken for a homeless person, carrying all those bags around.  I wrote another poem about my life as an “arctic explorer.”  It’s bad driving around in a blizzard.  It’s also bad to be walking around in it or to try to keep warm while waiting for the next bus.  You’re in the elements.  Dress warmly.  In the Summer, be sure to carry a water bottle.

I’ll take a ride when I can get it.  Over the years, I have received many rides from friends, family, girlfriends, band-mates and so on.  Thank you all!

Then too, there’s the whole issue of the car as a destructive force. There are car accidents and wrecks.  As a pedestrian, I have no seat-belts or thick metal exoskeleton to protect me.  I’ve had plenty of close calls.

Cars also contribute to greenhouse gasses and the pollution of the planet.  I do believe in global climate change.  The automobile causes trouble in many ways.

I realize that they have been made to be essential.  Detroit’s a far cry from New York City or Chicago.  In those cities, it’s not as rough trying to get around without driving.  “Better Mass transit Everywhere!”  That’s what I say.

Maybe someday I’ll learn to drive, but I’m in no hurry to.  I don’t look down on or have serious problems with drivers.  A lot of people want to or have to drive cars.  I participate as a rider.  Yet as far as being a driver goes, I continue to be a sort of conscientious objector.

Neuseeland SŸdinsel

Related Material by Maurice Greenia, Jr. (aka myself):

Related Material by others:


From Orson Welles’ film of Booth Tarkington’s novel The Magnificent Ambersons:

George: I said, “Automobiles are a useless nuisance.” Never amount to anything but a nuisance. They had no business to be invented.
Uncle Jack: Of course, you forget Mr. Morgan makes them. Also did his share in inventing them. If you weren’t so thoughtless, he might think you’re rather offensive.
Eugene: I’m not sure George is wrong about automobiles. With all their speed forward, they may be a step backward in civilization. It may be that they won’t add to the beauty of the world or the life of men’s souls. I’m not sure. But automobiles have come. And almost all outward things are going to be different because of what they bring. They’re going to alter war and they’re going to alter peace. And I think men’s minds are going to be changed in subtle ways because of automobiles. And it may be that George is right. It may be that in ten or twenty years from now, if we can see the inward change in men by that time, I shouldn’t be able to defend the gasoline engine but would have to agree with George: that automobiles had no business to be invented.

Why I Don’t Use a Cell Phone

October 31, 2014
TV's Maxwell Smart, Agent 86 (played by Don Adams) on his Shoe Phone.

TV’s Maxwell Smart, Agent 86 on his Shoe Phone.  He’s played by Don Adams.

It’s like something out of an old science fiction novel.  Everyone has these space age walkie-talkies.  Even people who don’t have much money or are unemployed have them.  I don’t have one though.

Someday, I may well have to get one.  Then I will.  Until then, I wouldn’t want one on a bet.  I don’t need a cell phone/ mobile phone.

For one thing, I’m not a real “telephone person.”  It’s just not my thing.  I call my few good friends, family and loved ones.  Some of these, I don’t call as often as I should.  Yet I try to keep up with people. I have my “land line” and that’s good enough for me.

I prefer to interact in person, live and in real-time.

When I can’t do that, I love to send postal mail.  I’ve gone through periods where I sent out a lot of it.  This may soon happen again.  It is time-consuming and labor intensive.  This is especially true in my case.  I always want to include extras, find the right stamp and do a drawing on the envelope.

I use three different email accounts and the social networks.  I’ve been writing in four blogs for nearly six years, including this one.  I’ve got nothing against communication and not much against technology.

I do miss the pay phones and telephone booths.  For one thing, they encouraged privacy.  Now, it’s commonplace to eavesdrop on other people’s conversations.  Sometimes you had to wait in line to use a pay phone.  They could be inconvenient, yet they had their charms.

I don’t drive either, so I ride Detroit’s cruel and backward bus system.  This makes me a sort of expert on overhearing other people’s phone conversations.  Sometimes,  five or ten people are talking all at once.  It’s a real “tower of Babel” effect.  Some people  talk quietly, in a reasonable tone of voice.  Others seem to be yelling or talking loudly.  Other times it’s actually quiet.  If anyone’s on the phone then, they’re being respectful.

Business is a frequent topic.  Some people can even keep working on a bus ride.  Sometimes it’s personal business.  One guy was going into way too much detail about his love life. Everyone on the bus could hear every word.  I’ve overheard other people talking about their drug deals, burglaries and violent crimes!  Usually though, it’s all quite boring and mundane.  If someone’s just on the phone “shooting the bull” I may hear something odd or whimsical.

As often as not, I prefer not to hear all this.  I tune in my “personal electronic device” to listen to music on a CD or audio cassette.  Or maybe I listen to the news.

It can be just as bad away from the bus.  I could go on and on about good and bad cell phone etiquette.  It’s just that some people are being rude yet they might not even realize it.  They’re caught up in their own private world, with their magic phones, talking to someone.

Once, I saw someone walking down the street talking into a smashed up looking phone.  I wondered whether it worked somehow.  Or maybe it was just a prop he used so as not to call attention to his “crazy talk.”  People who constantly talk to yourself: get a broken cell phone and carry it around.

Texting is a whole other issue.  It can be annoying if someone does so while you’re trying to watch a movie.  If someone texts or uses a standard cell phone while driving a car, it could kill you.

Someday people will have wires in their head.  They’ll be able to think their thoughts into another head.  No charging the phone battery.  No time wasted dialing.  It will be instant communication

Smaller and smaller:


Chart of Dangers, January 1989

September 18, 2014


This is the master for one of my old photo-copied handouts.  I did a series of charts.  You can click onto to it to sere it better and click on it again to enlarge it.

Chart of the tree of human life, March 1989

September 11, 2014


This is the master for one of my old photo-copied handouts.  I did a series of charts.  This was a favorite.  You can click onto to it to sere it better and click on it again to enlarge it.

The Mirror World, Take One

August 29, 2014

nyc 139b

I took this photo in Manhattan earlier this month.  I think that it was August 14th.  I’m always fascinated by mirrors and reflections.  I see amazing things reflected in puddles.  I saw this while walking around and it stopped me in my tracks.  It’s the same photo, but I like both the vertical and horizontal versions.

nyc 139

A History of Detroit’s Visual Arts Scene: July 11 through September 8, 2014

July 15, 2014
Art by Robert Hyde

Art by Robert Hyde

This is a history of Detroit’s Visual Arts scene. It focuses on the time from 1978 to the present day.

Take One is an exhibit A History of Detroit’s Visual Arts Scene.  This is installed at the library of the University of Detroit Mercy, on the McNichols Campus.

It’s open Monday through Friday.  The Summer hours are Monday through Thursday 9AM to 6PM.  Fridays, the library is open from 9AM to 5PM.  It’s closed weekends until September.  

I’ll usually be there, but not always.  At some point, I’ll take a vacation, etc.  Eventually, I’ll do a paper handout, which will be available.

If you come see this show, note that it’s in two parts.  There are a series of showcases when you first walk into the library.  Then there are two more showcases far off to the side.

The location, directions and other information:

I have an extensive archive of show cards, flyers and posters.  I have enough material to do several such exhibits.  Maybe someday I’ll do another one.  There are a lot of artists and galleries that I did not have the space to represent.  During the run of the show, I might switch or shuffle a few of the art show cards.

The postcard or mailing card was my friend here.  If it’s a good-looking card, there’s a better chance that it got into the exhibit.  If it’s an ugly or bland card, I only put it in if I felt it had some historical importance.

Most of them had the year on it. If you put the date but not the year, people will have no idea what year it was, later.  Put the year on your cards and posters please.

This show is dedicated to the Detroit area artists, both past and present.  It is also dedicated to everyone else who tried to make it all work: the audience, then too, the museums and galleries.  Also, I thank those who took time to write about the local art scene.  Interviews, profiles and reviews are all important in regard to having a vigorous and healthy art scene.

As I was finishing installing this, I received word of the passing of Joy Hakanson Colby.  Thus this project is also in memory of her.  A number of articles that she wrote are included in exhibit.

Art by Jack Johgnson and Victor Pytko at "Studio 601" in downtown Detroit September 2007

Art by Jack Johnson and Victor Pytko at “Studio 601″ in downtown Detroit September 2007

Take Two will be an essay that I write on the history of Detroit’s Visual Arts Scene.  I’ll likely post it as one or 2 blog posts on my arts blog.  Then I’ll have paper copies to hand out too.

Take Three is a facebook page:

It will continue, even after the exhibit is dismantled.  Other people can put images or links on there too, so long as it relates directly to the subject at hand.


More Information:

Why I Don’t Watch Television

June 23, 2014
This is from a 1940 James Cagney film.  Note Television Given Scientific Test...

This is from a 1940 James Cagney film. Note “Television Given Scientific Test…”

I rarely, almost never watch television.  If I do, it’s usually a documentary on PBS.  I love documentaries.  I’ve thought about seeing if I can pull in Canadian station, but I’m usually too busy to give it a try.

When they switched to the digital box, that made me reduce my watching even more.  If I wanted to watch say The Simpsons, I have to struggle to try to get it tuned in.  The signal keeps fading.  The images become laced with digital pixel-blocks, then erodes into black or blue.

If you don’t need to watch television, why get cable?  It’d be nice to have some of those stations that show classic films or good nature or historical documentaries.  I wouldn’t rule it out entirely, maybe someday.

Of course, I do watch video.  I love cinema.  My DVD and VHS players are always running cartoons, silent movies, foreign films and other work.  Lately, I’ve been watching the original Twilight Zone series.

People say that TV is doing well, that it’s better than ever.  Maybe they’re talking mostly about cable TV.  Or maybe they’re just wrong.  There’s always some quality, in ways.  I’ve seen The Wire and The Sopranos etc. on DVD.

Yet most of the television I like is pre-1990.  Ernie Kovacs and the Sid Caesar sketch comedies are two of my all-time favorites.  I liked SCTV.  A few animated shows like Rocky and Bullwinkle were consistently funny.  Yet so there’s so much that I just can’t stand.  There are things that I might attempt to see eventually.  Yet I’m usually too busy living my life.

I’ll watch TV news when I have to, but I try to avoid it.  It seems distorted, like a form of brainwashing.

The commercials are the worst of all.  Some of the old ones have “camp value” now and I’ll look at them on home video.  Yet if I try to watch the current ones, they drive me up the wall.

When you stop watching television, you might go through withdrawal symptoms.  Or it might be easy for you.

If you don’t watch TV for a long time, then attempt to watch it again, it can be unpleasant.  If I turn on the tube and watch TV, it can be disconcerting.  Worse, it can be horrifying!  My greatest sense is that millions of people really live in this TV world.  I turn it on and it’s like “This is not my world!” or “I don’t live here and I don’t want to live here.”

I turn on the television and it’s like an alternative universe that I don’t want any part of.  It can be painful to have it on.  If it’s running in a bar or a doctor’s office, I try to look away.  I do some drawings or bury my head in a good book.  If possible, I put some music on.  I try to avoid the sound of it by using headphones.

To each his own, I suppose.  Yet for my money, the bad far outweighs the good.  Life is too short to waste much of my time on TV.  They don’t call it a “time-killer” for nothing.

The Old "Merry-Go-Round"

The Old “Merry-Go-Round”

The Detroit Bus System, early 2014

May 21, 2014


February 2014:

In the evening on February 12, I was riding the Dexter bus going the other way.  I saw the bus where this incident happened  It was surrounded by police cars, on the other side of Dexter.  I think that the bus was empty, at that point.  It was a crazy incident, detailed in the news website links below.

14-year-old DeJon McGhee was seriously wounded.  Hopefully he pulled through OK.

The next morning I had to wait nearly 2 hours for the Dexter bus, from 9:30 to 11:30 AM.  I just missed one at 9:25 or 9:30,& walked from near Grand Blvd. to Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. and Cass.  Maybe I’ll have to break down and get a driver’s license and a car, should Detroit become IMPOSSIBLE to navigate via bus.

Let’s hope that it doesn’t come to that.

May 2014:

In the past 3 months, there have been some signs of improvement.   I’ve had 3 or 4 real “bus nightmares” since that 3 hour trip to work in February.  I haven’t seen any real violence.  There were a few disturbing signs.  People are under pressure and sometimes this makes them talk out of turn or misbehave.

Once, at about 9AM, a man tried to board the bus.  He was slobbering drunk.  The driver refused to let him on as he’d been banned.   This was because she claimed to give him every chance yet every time he caused trouble.  He’d attack her, not in a violent way but still abusive.  She’d had enough!  It was a very crowded bus too.  Luckily, I had a seat.

One passenger kept telling the guy “You’re on camera!  You’re on camera!”  Several male passengers offered to fight him!  If this guy had a weapon, then who knows what could have happened.  Fortunately, he backed down and got off of the bus.

Aside from long wait times and long ride times, I don’t mind riding the bus.  I get a lot of reading and drawing done.  Most fellow passengers are fine.

I overheard a conversation between a Vietnam veteran and a veteran of the Afghanistan and Iraq wars.  That was really interesting.

Anyway, I’ll continue this series of postings eventually.  I’m hopeful, but it’s still very, very bad.

Union Depot (entirely based upon true stories)

April 10, 2014




This is an autobiographical two page “comic strip.”  I think that I did it in the late 1990’s.  Usually I’m better about dating my work.  You can click onto the image files, so as to better read them.

It was a blast hanging out at an abandoned train station!  It was torn down in 1974.  I think that we started to go there my Senior year in high school and kept it up through most of my college days.  There are more stories to tell, perhaps later.

This was over 40 years ago.  That’s hard to believe.  Since then, Detroit’s had a lot of urban explorers.  We were on the early side.


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