Monday, December 30, 2013
THANKS FOR THE FAILURES
That night that I scuffed along the river in the crusty snow, cursing my lack of luck seeing deer, like a petulant child, taught me a valuable lesson. For some reason i was able to nip this mindset in the bud, and realize how lucky I was to be able to sit in that tree watching "nothing". I went home feeling pretty good. The next morning I drug my ass out of bed in the 15 degree cold, and I shot Bullwinkle. Like my old man was fond of saying "Attitude is everything." He didn't always practice what he preached.....but who does? I'm as guilty as the next guy (and probably more so) of wallowing in my own crapulence. To say I'm my own worst enemy (excepting the Italian neighbors) is an understatement. I constantly have to remind myself how good I have it. Today is such a day.
Last week, in my post-season funk, I wrote about whoring out everything I do for 2014. I'm sorry. I'm full of shit. My weak need for recognition and money had gurgled to the forefront, blurring my view of the future, causing me to lash out. Like Buddy Budde is fond of saying; "I'm such an assssshole." Let me put it another way. I would like to constructively search out ways, in the coming year, to show, play, publish and yes, dare I say, sell, my work. Work being defined as: drawings, paintings, sculptures, collages, performances, songs, and writings, not carpentry or real estate. To this end I have spent the last three days doing over 50 small drawings. They are pretty good. How will I show or sell them? I don't have a fucking clue.
The thing is I didn't have a clue how i would get on that big buck, either. Did that stop me? No way. It drove me. Another thing my old man was fond of saying: "We all need challenges." I know this is why I became an artist, and later a hunter. You'd be hard pressed to find two more challenging vocations.
Over Xmas my good friend Chuck showed me a book he was reading by a very successful, beautiful young Black woman on failure. The list of this woman's accomplishments was extensive and impressive. What the hell she knew about failure was beyond me. But then I realized that she was just smart enough to realize what a gift failure was.....especially when she couldn't fail to save her life. "We all want what we can't have." I'm fond of saying that. I wish i could look up at the weather vane, check the speed of the front coming in, consider the food source options, the timing of the rut, the falling temperatures and plan my day accordingly in order to deal with the so-called art world. But here there are no rules. You might as well ask your 8 BALL or google How do I get successful? "Concentrate and ask again." No rules you say? I'm there.
Another calendar year is behind us. It was a good year mostly. Last night I learned my old friend Harold Bann died over the weekend. I had written about his failing health back during deer season. I know he read it and hoped it didn't bum him out too much. I wanted to cheer him up. Sometimes I'm not very good at that. I'd known Harold since 8th grade. He was a helluva good man- loads of fun, a partier, warm, barrel chested and full of life. He was part of what I consider my big extended family- a brother. There will be no more failures for H, only the mighty success of living a good life, raising great kids, and grandkids and living on in all our memories. Will any of us succeed this year? Who knows. Maybe failure is way better. Both the old man and I were fond of this saying: "Careful what you wish for." R.I.P. Hechekabann.
HAPPY NEW YEAR!
Monday, December 23, 2013
A WHORE FOR 2014
Duchamp had chess. I have hunting. I'm not a chess player, but I can appreciate Duchamp getting lost in the game, and using it, with art, to define his identity. Unlike art, chess and hunting have an end game. A game is over, a season ends. You win. You lose. You are dependent on nobody but yourself. You succeed one year. You fail the next. Like art, with chess or hunting, you persist.....with or without pay. It becomes who you are. You can't quit if you wanted to.
With the new year approaching I find myself in a reflective mood. 2013 was an unpaid sabbatical for me. I got through on savings and a gracious, modest inheritance from my folks. I sold no art (except Duke's $100 drawing). I made no hourly wage. I have no pension. Social Security is a year away and there's a lot of zero years. I won't make much. So now that this year is coming to an end, I have to face the cruel reality that once this money is gone, I'm dead broke....again. I've faced this before. It's no fun. I know I can do it, something always comes up. Since I have no kids, poverty doesn't scare me like it does most. But it does wear one down. I don't want to face it's ugly puss.
So this year I've decided to make money a priority in my life. My father was a stockbroker, a savvy businessman. I inherited none of his gifts with the dollar. Hell, I burn them. Compound interest, derivatives and fiduciary responsibility.....I'm glazing over. I know how late in the game it is. And I also know I gotta get paid. In 2014 it's all about the green. You want me to write? Pay me. You want me to sing? Pay me. You want me to play guitar? (And I realize many don't). Pay me. You want art, you want church, you want pictures of pretty girls? Pay me. I know this may seem harsh, but the time has come. I'm selling out.
Yeah, yeah....I know I've tried to sell out many times in the past, only to not be able to stop my compulsion for the process, even without a buyer. So I give it away, whether you want it or not. This time's different. The only way I'm getting on my back in 2014 is to be paid for it. Get used to it. I promise to give you more than your money's worth. I'm worth every penny. Lets make this year one we can all remember. If you're buying, I'm selling. Just leave the cash on the dresser.
Saturday, December 21, 2013
POOR CRIPPLED KIDS KILLIN' CRITTERS
For those of you who think watching DUCK DYNASTY is giving you a glimpse into the true underbelly of America, guess again. In order to really see what's going on out there you have to watch the PURSUIT CHANNEL. I have it on like wall paper in my house. It's huntin'and killin' TV at it's best. Some of the shows are decent depictions of fair chase hunts, like in the old days of AMERICAN SPORTSMAN, but most are either canned hunts for monster, genetically altered whitetails or self-righteous white, Christian, God-fearing, patriotic, "familycentic" infomercials. What does this bunch think of homosexual terrorists? Nobody cares. This is subculture TV.
What this channel provides is an almost fanatical adherence to a lifestyle that at it's core has the family that kills critters together, stays together. And to this end they are constantly sharing the experience with the less fortunate....especially around the holidays. I think they mean well, but they seem to be clueless to the fact that watching a mentally challenged kid, his crippled, wheel chair bound body wrapped in blankets, sitting in a box and shooting a doe in a field by blowing in a tube, does not elicit the warm and fuzzys from us viewers. Another favorite "guest" is the "wounded warrior". Men and women in uniform, wounded in battle, are treated to VIP treatment, given plenty of free merch. and set in a box and given the opportunity to kill whatever they want. What's next the homeless? God Bless us all.
And as the shows on this channel will constantly remind you, it's all about the kids. If we don't pass on our traditions to the kids, the cruel hand of government will take those traditions away, replacing it with video games and internet porn. The youth will be lost, weak, pot smoking masturbators, facing an uncertain future, unable to shoulder a rifle and keep America safe from the suicide bombing homosexuals. You can't really tell if the young paraplegic girl, with Down's syndrome is better or worse for the experience of pulling the trigger and dropping that doe in the dirt. She is smiling. How this has anything to do with a hunting lifestyle is beyond me, but like I said, nobody seems to question it. Obviously nobody wants to see supermodels hunting. As Carlito reminded me yesterday, when you hunt and kill the animal you must show respect and have sex with it. He told me the story of he and RNButch killing a grizzly bear in Alaska and RNB insisting that the Inuit guides leave so they could honor the bear in the ways of their people- by having sex with it. The Inuits did not understand the white man's ways, but left all the same. RNB was paying. Who were they to question the customer and his strange traditions. Now that's a show I'll watch. Can we get crippled kids?
Thursday, December 19, 2013
Labels: pHOTO:mARIANA rOTHEN
VAGINA OR ANUS?
In 1993, before I left the Lower East Side for the mountain side, I started wearing camo and stopped shaving and cutting my hair. By the time I moved, I had long braids and a full grey beard. 20 years later I still wear camo, have long thinning hair and a white beard. Along with Abraham Lincoln, I feel I started this whole Williamsburg beardo thing. I used to get ragged on for being a hippie. Now the point of reference is those quacks from DUCK DYNASTY, A&E's hit reality TV show of the Louisiana clan who made a fortune making duck calls and TV episodes. At any point in public I can get asked to make someone a duck call. I get it. Funny. To my taste the show is unwatchable. Banal workplace hi jinx is sprinkled with homespun Christian dogma and dinner table prayer circles. Cut their hair and beards and it would be the Pat, not Phil, Robertson family.
Now comes a GQ article on clan patriarch Phil's likes and dislikes. Vagina? Yes. Anus? A big fat no. Obviously no backdoor action for Miss Lilly. In amongst some Biblical misinformation Phil goes on and on about his dislike for homosexuals and their UnAmerican, terrorist practices. Like that old lady racist cook last year, reality TV producers are getting a taste of just what it's like to be "real" in Amerika. These fat cats may be writing (and cashing) the checks from NY or LA, but the talent is running wild, unchecked in the sticks. And now A&E is doing furious spin control. I want to be a fly on the wall when the producers sit heavily armed Phil down in the trailer and explain to him what year it is. I haven't read the article, but the low points are all over the internet. In response A&E has "suspended" Phil from current filming. Translation: Go on vacation and let this die down. And don't give interviews, you idiot. Let us pray it blows over.
Crackpot Biblical references cited in order to justify hate speech and action has been used by fundamentalist Christians forever. And obviously the TV watching American public lapps it up. Everything is OK as long as you bow your heads at the dinner table and give thanks for those big A&E paychecks. Maybe Phil speaks for the whole family, maybe not. I don't really care. All I know is I know how to fix the problem. Bring back the fags from QUEER EYE for a Xmas makeover special with DUCK DYNASTY. Let the Fab 5 loose on the whole bunch. Whore up the ladies and shave and trim the rest of the cast. And as both casts don snowflake sweaters and sway to Silent Night, have all the QUEER EYE boys kiss the quackers from DD. If it was on HBO I'd say full on anal sex would be the only thing that would keep it on the air. Merry Xmas. You look fabulous.
Wednesday, December 18, 2013
Tuesday, December 17, 2013
This morning I drove home from WSSP at about 9:00 am in a snowstorm. I didn't even bring my gun out there. Dragging a bloody doe across the snowy lawn would not have gone over too big. I decided to hunt close enough to my house to either drag a deer to the road or house or get Pigpen to help again. Out at WSSP there would be no help forthcoming from my womenfolk. Ever drag a dead deer through a foot of fresh snow? It's not fun. On an incline it's near impossible. I'm old school- florescent orange chest drag and aspirin at night. Aside from some Gilkey and Mupp tractor recoveries over the years, this was the first year where machinery played a part. First came the golf cart adventure with Savage, on the Majestic flat and then Pigpen threading the needle with an ATV in the snow, in order to get the big one out of the top. I'm incredibly appreciative to all involved. But back to my day.
I walked down the unplowed road in the driving snow about 10:00 am. Right above where the Hasidic truck container used to sit, just before Ray Gilkey's old spring house, I stepped into the woods. I figured the only chance i had of seeing deer was try to sneak into areas where I thought they could be browsing, and get a shot. This used to be a hot spot in snow in years past. But on this morning there was nothing. The wind was out of the east, bad for my trudge down the hill. My plan was to get to the ridge above the bridge and hunt the rocks and laurels, then hunt into the wind on the way back. Backtracking to the road, I crossed the spot where Levi used to have his trailer and scoped the swamp. There was a lot of white. The beavers had flooded it and now it was frozen solid. No deer. I had to take a shit. Yesterday i had squatted in the woods in the 10 degrees and the snow drifts and crapped on my boot. I didn't want to repeat that. Maybe GNJohn's door was open?
Shout out to GNJohn in Florida. The house is fine. Thanks for the use of the facilities. Dr. LC was coming down the driveway before I even got out the door. I think he heard me flush. Your property is very safe. I walked down the road to the cable by the bridge. Just getting up that trail was major and it was snowing harder. I turned north along the rocks where GNJ cut in that track. There's a nice flat with the big overhanging rocks to the right. All of the sudden something exploded out from under one of those rocks. It was a little doe that had tucked herself out of the weather. She spun and headed up the hill. I slowed down and looked around. Mommy had to be close by. I saw nothing, so continued. I didn't go 50 yards before the snow erupted in front of me. That doe had been bedded behind a tree. She stopped just over a rise. I kneeled in the snow and put the gun up. All I had was ass. Then she turned back and stared at me. She was a beautiful big Sullivan County doe. I had a neck shot. I flipped up the scope cover and tried to settle the crosshairs on that white throat. I thumbed the hammer back. And for the life of me, I couldn't get steady. I hoped her curiosity would get the better of her and she would take a step towards me. But she didn't. Down the hill she went, out of sight in the rocks and laurels. That would be the last deer I'd see for the season.
I sat out the brunt of the storm in the hut and then hunted my way back up the hill. I was home a half hour before dark. I didn't even see a squirrel in the storm. 2013 deer season is over. It's back to reality. The kerosene heater stopped working yesterday and tonight the stove pipe started to smoke inside the house. It's freezing in here and smells...... well like a house full of smoke. My eyes burn. I drank my last beer and when I tried to toss Nicole out of the house she spun around and ran between my legs, causing me to slip on the snow and crash to the floor. Tomorrow I'll butcher up that buck, hoping I don't cut my finger off, and staying very far away from those 11 inch tines. Two bucks and a doe is the score. I guess I have to go back to work. Turkey season's right around the corner.
Sunday, December 15, 2013
These are the two words, uttered or spoken, that you live for as a hunter. From October 1st to Dec, 17th you go in the woods and try to put blood on the ground. It's a fact. This year i scored a month before and a month after what would be considered the hot point of the rut. I shot the 7 on Oct. 14th with the bow and I shot the 8 on Dec, 11th. with the muzzleloader. It makes no sense. This is what you gather as the years tick by and the bucks get bigger and harder to kill. You note the weather, the wind, what they are eating, where you are hunting, the time of day, the stand location....it's all tucked away. And in the end it's all luck. You just have to be at the tables to take advantage of your good fortune.
I question it. Don't think I don't. To kill such a magnificent creature, when it's doing no more than feeding itself, after weeks of fucking. How can i be so brutal? But there is no brutality in the act. It's an ancient struggle that has been mostly forgotten. The obsession for the antlers is hardwired. A 200 lb. buck is worth 3 does. So when I see a big heavy rack on top of the head of the buck pawing at the beech nuts, that I've been hunting for months, my breath quickens. When I kill that buck I sustain the experience as long as possible. I relive it daily. I bask in the glow. I'll answer the question. It's too good not to experience.
And it starts with that drop of blood on a leaf. Before that is prelude. Once you spot blood you know the score. If the Gods are willing you find a dead deer. If not, you struggle. This past season I've been able to spend days upon days in the woods, and been able to harvest two of my biggest bucks. One cleanly, one not so much. And this in a year where nobody is seeing much of anything. Savage nor Bird nor Big Bobby have shot bucks. Cooperstown is quiet and even does are hard to come by. But I can't stop. I push my luck. 12 inches of fresh snow has got me hunting until sunset on Dec. 17. I still have two doe tags. Yesterday a yearling doe danced around me in a snow storm. I never had the gun up. It was too beautiful. I love my life. The season is drawing to a close. One more drop of blood....
Thursday, December 12, 2013
Wednesday, December 11, 2013
HERE'S THE STORY
I almost didn't go out. But with fresh snow from yesterday and clear skies, I forced myself. I got in the tree a little late- about 6:45 am. It was 15 degrees with a brisk WSW wind and you could see clearly into the bowl, covered in snow. Even with two layers of long johns, pants, jackets, overalls, face mask and gloves, I was freezing my ass off. Nothing was moving except a red and grey squirrel and my tree stand in the wind. Last night I had been so discouraged and beaten down by the season, that I was losing touch of just what this is all about. Like any addiction, deer hunting can turn overwhelming if you let it. Moderation in all things....even moderation. By 9:15 I was chilled to the bone. Hoisting the gun rope, I tied it to the sling and was about to lower it, when I thought better. Last week I had lowered the gun without checking my back and busted a doe creeping in. I turned my neck. Nothing. Then, as I tipped the gun muzzle to the ground I spotted brown 200 yards below me in the bowl. I untied the gun.
A small deer fed it's way towards me, then all of the sudden ran. Could there be a buck chasing it? Could it be a hot doe? By the time it was below my stand I was disappointed to see two spike horns. Still, it was a good sign to see even a small buck on it's feet. I settled back into my cold torture. A half an hour later with no other movement and I was once again ready to call it. I repeated the process and this time didn't even get the rope up before I saw movement about in the same spot where I saw the spike. Alright. I guess I was staying. For about 20 minutes I watched a doe feed in the bowl. I'd lose sight of her, then see a leg or her ass. I told myself if she got close enough, and was a good sized doe, I would take her. Forget hunting the big one. It was too cold.
Years ago i made the mistake of paying too much attention to a deer too far for a shot, and missing one coming in behind me. I don't always repeat my mistakes. Absentmindedly I looked to my left and saw the neck of deer feeding on the side of the logging road. I pulled up the scope and saw horns.....big horns. I had no shot. Slowly I stood up and raised the gun. It was the deer I had been hunting all season, not 10 yards from the broken tree rub. I didn't dare take a neck shot. His vitals were behind two big trees. If he turned I had him. But if he continued in the direction he was heading I only had one small opening for a shot. One step was perfect. Two steps and he would be gone. I was shaking from the cold and adrenalin. I tried to breath and fogged the scope. By the time I lowered the gun and cleared the lens I had lost him. Had he kept going? Oh my God! Had I just let this buck slip by? Then I caught sight of a tip of antler. He was still feeding. Phew! The wind was in my face. He didn't know I was there.
It seemed like 15, but I'm sure it was no longer than 5 minutes before he moved forward. I settled the cross hairs behind his shoulder and fired. All I saw was smoke. Then I saw him turn and stumble. Was he going down? No. In a flash he bolted down into the bowl. I tried to calm myself enough to reload the muzzleloader. It was no easy task. In fact I couldn't get the bullet down the barrel. If he was still alive and I jumped him I'd be holding nothing but my dick in my hand. I had to chance it. I climbed down. Slowly I moved to the spot where I thought he was standing. The leaves were scuffed up, but I couldn't find blood. Could I have missed this deer? I widened the circle and on a leaf I saw red. Then a big spray in the snow brightened my day. My heart lifted. I followed the tracks and red streaks of blood down the hill until I saw brown back and a beautiful, high, 8 point rack.
I thanked that deer, God, and the Little Green Man for allowing me to be so privileged as to hunt one deer for an entire season and kill it with one clean shot. You have no idea the joy and sense of accomplishment this brings. I gutted it out, got a hold of Pigpen and DD's ATV, and drove that deer out of the woods in style. I want to thank PP, all the folks at Majestic, Shewho and all my friends and family who choose not to intervene in my addiction. I don't think I can get any higher. I am one happy man.
Labels: photo: Pigpen Rothman
Tuesday, December 10, 2013
Labels: pHOTO:r. KERN
WHILE YOU ARE IN THE WOODS VENISON STEW
Come out of the woods at dark
Stoke the stove
Cut up an onion
Coat the bottom of a large pot with olive oil
Open can of whole peeled tomatoes
Squish into pot
Add onions and place on woodstove
Make hot toddy and warm yourself next to stove
Marinate venison stew meat with soy sauce, hot sauce, basil olive oil, salt and pepper
Cut up three red potatoes
Make another drink
Add another log to the fire and potatoes to pot
Switch to red wine and add to stew
Add venison and can of red bean soup
Remove from stove and place on unheated porch
Get up at 5:00 am
Take one step too many and spook a big group of deer in the bowl
Return to house at 11:00 am and place stew back on stove
Stoke the stove
Hunt behind the house in a snow storm and see nothing
When the skies clear drive down to river and hunt the orchard
Tie a stick to a string and toss into the apple tree shaking apples to the ground
See two bald eagles and no deer
Come out of the woods at dark
Take stew from the stove and serve
Friday, December 6, 2013
GIRL AND TRAILER
Labels: PHOTO:© GEORGE HOLZ
REPORT FROM THE TREE
As gun season winds down, here's what's been going on- not much. I think it was John Cage who said that "nothing" exists. All you have to do is recognize and embrace it. A serious deer hunter makes nothing failure's companion, accompanying him or her into the tree. It's been a long season. From the excitement, pain and ultimate success of mid-October to the wet, cold, blank days of December, I've kept at it. Since the the roof went on the shul (that has yet to close) there is no immediacy in pouring more money into the place. Better to try my damnedest to get a look, and hopefully a shot, at one of the two giants I'm hunting. I feel confident they are both still alive and in their core areas- if I haven't spooked them out.
Whitetail bucks don't get old by chance. Judging from the sign, both of these bucks could top 200 pounds with wide heavy racks. They are the kings of their domain and the only thing that will put them within range of my gun will be sex. The second rut will kick in any day now. Yearlings that now weigh enough or does that did not breed during the first rut, may now come into estrous. A hot doe during muzzle loader season may be the only hope I have. The clock is ticking. December 17 the curtain closes.
On the home front the Lion cage has been hit twice by vandals. A month or so ago someone dropped off a big fuzzy, stuffed orangutan, which I immediately put in the cage. Last week someone tipped it over and tossed banana peels and empty wine bottles in the cage. Of course I suspected my asshole neighbors. Yesterday a bunch of Penthouse magazines, kleenex and hand creme showed up, surrounding the caged beast. This time the neighbors were not up. OK, it is the holidays. Anything I put in public can be a lightning rod for community response. The Hasidic teens broke the GOD LOVES FAGS sign and the FOR SALE billboard was stolen down by the river. So it's not too surprising that the Lion of Judah cage is being bombed. I've got my suspects. Careful touching those bars. A little electricity goes a long way.
My sister Mrs. Budinski is having a party and my niece Sari is baptizing her new baby Tyvek this weekend, so I won't be able to hunt. I wish my family would read the NYS hunting season syllabus and not schedule social events during this time period. The rudeness of Uncle Johnny Uncle Johnny dying during deer season has never been forgotten. Come on people. Stay healthy until after Dec. 17. I'm busy.