Tuesday, June 29, 2010

What I Learned at the Luau; or, The Cool Hot Center Guide to Hawaiian Narrative Dance

The Memsahib and I are having a wonderful time over here in Hawaii.  A couple of evenings ago we attended the Old Lahaina Luau on Maui, the biggest in Hawaii.   The centerpiece was a number of performances by native Hawaiian dancers illustrating the history, legends, and sayings of these lovely islands.  The narrator was an elderly "chanter."  I had some trouble understanding everything he was saying, but by listening carefully and correlating the young dancers' movements with the spoken word, I believe I was able to piece together a lexicological guide to interpreting the moves of traditional Hawaiian interpretive dance.

For example:

 "Maori warriors voyage to Islands by canoe in 1823,
conquer local tribes, introduce electric pedal steel guitar"

 "Our President notwithstanding, we hardly have any black people in this state"

"Captain Cook dump boatload of round-eyed devils on Islands, spread many social disease, boat with penicillin sunk in Kanalua Harbor by Ho'wardcurl'ai, God of Imbecility"

"King David Kmlppailekekekeke'i'i revered among all Hawaiian monarch for develop theory of global mellowing -- also restore alcohol sale in gentlemen hula club"

 "We welcome you, O descendants of honky of the tiny brain bring mongoose to Hawaii in 1923 to hunt rat when rat is nocturnal and mongoose is diurnal, resulting in many hungry mongoose 
who eat the eggs of cute native bird, but no rat"

 "I smile only for you, O Greatest of All Deities Walletcleanakoi'ai, God of Tips"

 "Angry God Mahuunawhirly only be placated by offering of 
twisted charter helicopter wreckage in remote Na Pali canyon"

"Much native trinkets available at front counter half-price today only"

Friday, June 25, 2010

I Went to Hawaii and Stubbed My Toe -- on the Ocean

The Memsahib and I are having a fine time here on Maui, and headed to Kauai tomorrow for a few days.

I usually manage to injure myself or encounter some other misery-inducing circumstance on vacation, and this time the event was more embarrassing than usual.  I was in the Pacific Ocean at the beach here at the Farmont Kea Lani at Wailea on Maui.   The surf wouldn't impress Jan and Dean, but it was a little rowdier than I'd experienced in awhile, living in Texas and all.  I had been enjoying riding the waves up and down as they came in, and I wasn't so deep that I couldn't outjump even the big ones that broke berfore they reached me.   But I wasn't paying attention when a pair of big ones came in -- it had nothing to do with the brunette in the yellow bikini, no -- and it lifted me up and slammed me down to the sea floor when I wasn't ready and I, indeed, stubbed my toe on the ocean.

No causal connection

The Mem is an excellent vacation planner and we've had a fine time here in Maui.  Yesterday we went to the rain forest on the "Road to Hana."  We saw rain and a forest.   It was pretty impressive.  Also waterfalls.  And ate at Mama's Fish House near Paia. 

One thing I've noticed about Hawaii, at least at the place where non-Hawaiians tend to hang out, is that you absolutely cannot get away from Hawaiian music, or Hawaiian versions of music you used to like.

And the resort areas are pretty lame in the fast-food category.  The Mem snapped me at the successful conclusion of our expedition up the coast in search of regal fare:

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

The President’s McChrystal Opportunity

General McChrystal is an ass and his stupidity in uttering the things he uttered to a journalist – not a drinking-buddy general, but a freakin’ free-lance journalist writing for Rolling Freakin’ Stone – calls into question his fitness for command for his of lack of judgment as much as for his insubordination, the latter raising question enough. The President would be justified in relieving him of command and a few other benefits of military service.

But I’m not entirely sure he should, for his own good.

Now, Your Cool Hot Center is not fond of this President. But it doesn’t wish him any particular ill, and its preference would be that he a good President and a good man. He hasn’t shown a strong inclination to be the first thing and the republic and I are still uncertain about the second. But people can change. He is a smart chap and perhaps one morning he will wake up, invite Newt Gingrich in for a spot of tea or perhaps a brew, the two of them will hammer out a sensible and moderate Contract for 21st Century America, and his historical significance will be beyond reach. (Unless his idea of historical significance is to be The First Black President to Be Compared Unfavorably to Warren G. Harding and Jimmy Carter.)

I’m not holding my breath about the Newt thing, but I do have some advice for him which I swear, O Centerists, is absolutely sincere.

After his meeting with General McC and the top Pentagon brass, President Obama should issue a statement that would go something like this:

“I was very disturbed at published reports that General McChrystal had given an interview to a journalist in which he was severely critical of me and several high-ranking members of my administration. While America treasures its heritage as a country in which First Amendment rights of free speech are valued above all others, every free country also recognizes that among the first tenets of the maintenance of a strong, civilian-controlled military is the need for loyalty not only in deed, but in thought and word.

"General McChrystal showed little regard for that tenet in his remarks. He recognizes this. In our meeting, he apologized – in my judgment, sincerely – for his remarks, not only to me but to the other individuals named in his interview. More importantly, he reaffirmed his loyalty to both the concept and the fact of civilian leadership of the military of this great nation, as well as his support for this administration’s strategic goals in Afghanistan.

“It remained for me to determine what action to take in light of these events.

“In pondering this decision, I thought back on my own political career, and that of many of the men and women I am now proud to have serving this country, and this administration. Every one of those careers can illustrate the fact that sometimes people say things they shouldn’t, and sometimes those things are exceedingly ill-advised. Certainly my own public record contains some statements I’d like to have back.

“In this case, I believe that a few unfortunate comments ought not destroy the career of one of our most distinguished and highly-regarded military leaders. And it also ought not deprive the country of the services of a man who I have believed, and still believe, is the right man for the job I have asked him to do in Afghanistan.

“Accordingly, I have accepted General McChrystal’s apology as have the other individuals involved.  I have rejected his offer to resign his post.  I have advised General McChrystal that his command will be unaffected by this episode. I have further requested that the Secretary of the Army and the Joint Chiefs of Staff not take any action to discipline General McChrystal beyond noting this episode in his record. I have asked General McChrystal to return to Afghanistan with my best wishes and continued support for the fine job he and his troops are doing under extremely difficult circumstances.  

"In addition, we took the opportunity of our meeting to discuss our Afghanistan campaign in some detail, and I have asked General McChrystal to follow up with a full report of the current status there, and additional detailed recommendations for me to consider.

“In declining to discipline General McChrystal in this instance, I do not wish to call into question the military’s rules against insubordination, nor the powerful policy that requires them for the maintenance of an effective national defense. I have only determined that on this particular occasion, the offense of insubordination – and neither I nor General McChrystal have any question that this is what took place here – does not call for his relief from command. That this episode will remain in his record, and will have become of public record, is judgment enough at this time.

“You can call it the ‘sticks and stones’ theory of government. As long as personal mistakes are recognized for what they are – and that their seriousness is likewise recognized, and that they are not repeated – we are not going to let the occasional intemperate remark distract us from the need to work together to achieve this nation’s goals.

“Finally, I would like to add a personal note. I am speaking now only for myself, and not for any other of the individuals involved. I read General McChrystal’s remarks. Among those remarks was an expression of disappointment that in my first meeting with him, he found me unprepared. Well, in considering this matter I have had occasion to recall that meeting. And I believe that candor requires me to admit that I probably was not as prepared as I should have been.

“I believe that every difficulty should serve as an opportunity to learn something. I am confident that General McChrystal has done so. I have resolved to do so as well.”

How’s that sound? I think if the President issued a statement along these lines, Keith Olberman would recant every negative syllable about him he has uttered in the last two weeks, and Chris Matthews would tingle all over, like someone standing in the transporter of the Starship Enterprise – the Kirk Enterprise, not the Picard Enterprise.  And the right would be similarly impressed.

And people would think President Obama was a pretty good guy and possibly even a wise leader.


N.B.:  I should add that this advice is entirely independent of whether we need a change at the top in Afghanistan for other reasons, or whether the Administration's strategy there is sound, or effective.  In fact, I assume that the problems here go beyond personal animosity.  And now, having thus thoroughly qualified my advice, I stand by it absolutely.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Happy Birthday, Dual Titans of American Showbiz

Errol Flynn (1909, RIP) and Brian Wilson (1942).

And Happy Father's Day to Brian, and to Errol in memoriam.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Did you Hear POTUS Supporting The Cool Hot Center? Peggy Noonan Did

Faithful visitors to The Cool Hot Center will recall my two-parter of a couple of weeks ago where I expressed my view that the President is in love with the academy, that it is in love with him, and that this explains a lot about his Presidency.

If you heard his here-and-gone Oval Office speech on the BP Oil Spill a couple of evenings ago, you heard some striking evidence of that. Peggy Noonan caught it in her editorial this morning in the Wall Street Journal

“[G]rowing weaknesses showed up in small phrases. The president said he had consulted among others 'experts in academia' on what to do about the calamity. This while noting, again, that his energy secretary has a Nobel Prize. There is a growing meme that Mr. Obama is too impressed by credentialism, by the meritocracy, by those who hold forth in the faculty lounge, and too strongly identifies with them. He should be more impressed by those with real-world experience. It was the 'small people' in the shrimp boats who laid the boom.”
President Obama in the Oval Office


Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Are the Republicans Dancing on Their Own Grave?

Republicans and non-Republicans who consider themselves centrists, many of whom voted Democratic in 2008, are giddy at the exposure of Barack Obama as a poor president and kind of a lame-o guy generally.  

I can't join them.  The giddiness seems premature to me.  I'm still working out why, but this is my site, so I'm going to try to work it out here at my typical overlength.

My concern is that the President's opponents may not invest their recent gains wisely.  They are showing signs of being entirely capable of plowing their unexpected windfall into a dot-com IPO.

I can't put my finger on this; perhaps you can help me out.   It'll help if I ramble some.

I was one of those people who believed that the last general election presented us with a choice between a flashy, amateur fraud (+ punch-line running mate) and a conventional, predictable fraud (+ ditto).  I held my nose and voted for the latter, but the former won.  Flashy is sexy.  Flashy is fun.

But he was still a fraud, a well-spoken mediocrity, and it is no surprise that his inexperience in sustaining a fraud on a national scale has resulted in even many of his star-stunned supporters turning on him.  So the current piling on is, in some ways, great fun to observe. 

OK, we're getting there -- it's the fun that's bothering me.  Here's an example:  A few days ago, I came upon an article on The American Thinker website called "The Smallest President" by Geoffrey P. Hunt.   It was a corker.  Let me quote a few tasty passages:

     "Would someone remind us again why the nation elected this man to be president? A man with no resume, a man with no experience in running anything other than a political campaign, a man who is ignorant of history, economics, and technology? A man who is shallow and lazy? A man who shares neither character nor temperament with the American people in this vast republic? How did this happen?

     "Only a partisan or a fool could deny the irredeemable failure of these ideological handmaidens, the genius of Obama's shrinking presidency.

     "In utter exasperation, the citizens of Arizona finally took matters into their own hands, only to be vilified by Obama and his cohorts, who have neither the will nor the capacity to do anything about it.

     "Those who use the currency of identity politics appeal to the ideals of justice and fair distribution of resources and outcomes. But in reality they prey on those who are underprivileged and dependent, making claims of dispossession against those who have enjoyed success and independence derived from their own sweat, equity, and competence.

     "Identity politics combined with incompetence have exposed the absurdity in the ambitions of big government and made Obama the weakest, most anemic and flaccid president in the modern era."

Yes, this is rhetoric, but it's great rhetoric.  I agree with most of it.  (Although I would argue that it's tough to beat Jimmy Carter for weakness, anemia, and flaccidity.)   It's delicious.  And deeply satisfying to those of us who have mistrusted Barack Obama and his fickle media acolytes since the instant he announced his candidacy.

But recently, pieces like Mr. Hunt's, as schadenfreud-y as they are, have started to bother me.

Gloating over the President's tiny profile isn't going to get us anywhere.    Let me ask you to assume for the moment what no less an observer than Peggy Noonan assumed in her piece a week or so ago and what I somewhat more nervously predicted in a couple of recent posts -- this administration is almost already finished.  It imploded in record time, scarcely a year from inauguration.  (And somehow, the President has even managed to take something that was manifestly neither his nor his administration's fault, the BP Gulf Spill, and turn it into the occasion for a demonstration of how being a community organizer and running a large political campaign doesn't prepare a president for dick squat when it comes to leadership, resolve, or action.)   The administration has plenty of time to right itself, but as I have written here and here, I don't think President Obama gives a Rahm's ass about his electoral legacy, and I don't see him shedding his titanic self-regard to admit that his course is inimical to American freedom, not to mention common sense.  I don't think he's going to take his foot off the gas as he continues to execute his hard left.  And he'll keep going right into Poucha Pond.

Well, that's what I would like to think, anyway.  But when I see the reaction of the center and the right to the President's woes, I wonder.  After I read pieces like Mr. Hunt's -- and there are dozens upon dozens of articles like them these days -- I think: 

Enough already.   Fun is fun, but where is it getting us?

The Republicans seem to have short memories, but I suspect that the electorate will not.  It wasn't very long ago that we were all appalled at the indirection, diffidence and incoherence of the Bush Administration.  President Obama continues to remind us of this, and it's an intelligent strategy.

This is the answer to Mr. Hunt's opening question:   We ended up electing this man to be president because we were so unhappy with the lazy, dithering twit we'd had for eight years that we voted against his party and ended up with a twit who is even lazier and whose dithering makes Bush look positively resolute.

So I'm thinking that it's time for those who oppose the President to stop the piling on.  The runner is down; it's fourth and long for POTUS.   It's time for us to figure out what we're going to do when we get the ball back. 

The question people like Mr. Hunt and the Tea Party people and the disaffected centrists and I need to be asking ourselves is -- whatta we got?  With whom are we going to repopulate Congress and the Oval Office?  What are the values and beliefs we are looking to associate with the political class with whom we hope to replace the Democrats? 

It is not enough, and it is wrong, to say "limited government people" or "family-values people" or "God-fearing people," or "people closest in spirit to the Tea Party movement."  But that's what the opposition is starting to look like.  It is offering us people like Sarah Palin and Rand Paul and pappy Ron, and others who appear to be beholden to the Tea Partiers, and I am here to tell you ladies and gentlemen of good sense and moderate good will, although it may feel good to scratch that anti-government itch right now, if what you put up against Barack Obama and the Democrats has no more going for it than that, by 2012 you will find yourselves in the outer darkness for four more years.

Because upon the electorate's mature reflection, it will prefer the urbane moderate-sounding special-interest huckster to the reactionary peckerwood. 

Or, not to put too fine a point on it:  Voters will prefer someone who sounds smart to someone who sounds dumb.  (George Bush is not a counterexample.  Albert Gore and John Kerry, in addition to not sounding smart themselves, had weird and oddly repellent personalities.  And there are those who would say that Gore did win that election.)

The country leans conservative but it does not lean crazy.  It leans toward the centrality of personal responsibility but it does not lean toward meanness.  It is as nervous about the self-certainty of fundamentalist Christians as it is about that of fundamentalist Muslims.  It does not believe that government is inherently evil.  Candidates who talk as though they do begin very soon to sound deranged. 

Let's take Sarah Palin.  Now I happen to like quite a lot about Sarah Palin and I would probably agree with most of what she has to say.  But look deep into your souls and your brains, Tea Party people, and tell me -- do you want to see Sarah Palin debate Barack Obama?  Do you want the country to see her say, in such a debate, what she recently said to Bill O'Reilly -- that our "founding documents" are "quite clear that we would create law based on the God of the Bible and the 10 commandments, it’s pretty simple."  

And the Bible would say what, exactly, about credit default swaps?  British Petroleum?  the border with Mexico?  the space program?  Affirmative action?   Wealth transfer from the rich to the poor?  Well?

And yet we see Ms. Palin with very respectable poll numbers among Republicans.  And I can't help but think the reason is that it feels so, so good to stick it to the smarmy, elitist, arrogant, fact-evading, redistributionist Democrats by supporting someone way the hell the other side of the spectrum, saying to the odious Pelosis and Reids you're so wrong that we're going to support someone who is against everything you're for just because you're for it

That's uh  .  .  .  reactionary.

It's not my intention to demonize Ms. Palin, or Christians.  I voted for her presidential ticket and might find it necessary to do so again.  But that ticket lost.  It lost to one that sounded one helluva lot smarter, and with Joe Biden on that ticket that's not saying much for the ticket I voted for.   When the time comes to sweep Washington clear of its current ideological rubble, we should be looking for women and men who are for something, who are willing to acknowledge that government has a role to play in making our lives better, that the free market isn't good at stopping ecological disasters, that intelligent immigration policy is good for the economy -- you see where I'm going. 

Formulating a coherent, forward-looking set of policies isn't as much fun as bashing Barack Obama.  And I'm all for continuing to document his errors and infirmities.  But in the meantime, we need to resist the tendency to answer the demagoguery of the godless left with demagoguery of the Christian right.

We need to be positive, and we need to be smart.  And we need to sound like both.

I feel a little better, thanks.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

The Worst KFC Store in the Galaxy, and the Next One Over

I have discovered the secret of the universe and am preparing an entry to disclose it to you.  But this is more important.

I have the superseding moral duty to call to your attention the Worst KFC Store Ever before another hungry citizen is subjected to its awfulness.  It is located in Frisco, Texas, at 7560 Preston Road, just north of the Rolater/Stonebrook intersection, hard by Kroger's and a Sonic.  The following event, which is not even the most infuriating consumer experience that I have suffered at this appalling establishment, took place today.
When the Memsahib is at a professional conference out of town I have implied permission to return to my pre-Memsahib habits (culinary only).  I had started work at 4:30 that morning and had left work early to run a couple of errands, which concluded a few minutes before 5:00 this afternoon.  I decided to have some Kentucky Fried Chicken and a styrofoam bucket of that sweet cole slaw and perhaps a serving of mashed potatoes made from the Colonel's secret recipe consisting entirely of nonorganic reconstituted potato by-products rendered palatable by watery gravy whose salt content is calibrated to match that of the Colonel's Original Recipe 11 Secret Herbs and Spices, five or six of which are probably some isotope of sodium chloride.  

I had some doubts that I would be successful in this quest.  I had not had good success in purchasing fried chicken products at this particular KFC, the only one convenient to my path home, and, oddly, the only one in Frisco, a rather large municipality.  Do any of you recall the Monty Python cheese-shop sketch, where John Cleese attempts to purchase cheese at a cheese shop operated by Michael Palin, but the shop seems to have no cheese of any variety available? 

(You may view it here.)   

That's the way I felt as I entered the Frisco KFC -- but I always think, no, surely this time they will be able to complete a consumer fried-chicken transaction.   So I enter, step right up to the counter, and place my usual order -- the eight piece dinner, Original Recipe, with the aforementioned slaw and spuds as the sides.  Two each of breast, wing, drumstick, and thigh.  About eighteen bucks.  The pleasant young woman who took my order called a special offer to my attention -- ten legs and thighs and three sides and a tank-car sized drink for only fifteen bucks, the difference being accounted for by KFC's desire to sell the less desirable dark pieces, since the larger white-meat breasts are preferred by customers who purchase by the piece.  (You just know that some people order breasts instead of thighs claiming they're less fatty, which is like justifying petting a water moccasin instead of a panther because it's smaller.)  In this way, KFC may maintain a more favorable statistical balance in their inventory of the various salable parts of the chicken which they assemble into the white-and-dark dinner buckets and the like.   Ah, but what KFC Corporate does not know is that I actually prefer dark meat, so the all-legs-and-thighs promotion + extra side + bladder-busting drink was a steal for me -- I'd have paid more than fifteen bucks for it.   Ha.

But I had been deceived by this particular KFC before.  On many occasions.

I thought the auspices were favorable, however.  Bear in mind -- I looked at my watch -- it was 4:55 p.m.  What most fast-food franchises would refer to as "the beginning of the dinner hour," or what Bronco's Hamburgers, where I used to work in Bellevue, Nebraska, would have called "rush."   You know, when customers were expected.  To come in to the store.  And order Kentucky Fried Chicken.

And it was the beginning of that time.  There was no rush at that time.  No uncontrollable demand for fried chicken that would push those pools of hot grease up to and beyond their chicken-frying limits, causing delays in completing fried-chicken sales.  No -- all signs for fried-chicken availability were positive.  There were a handful of customers in the store, some of whom were eating fried chicken (a very hopeful sign right there), some of whom were attempting to decipher the menu choices, and some of whom appeared to be plotting meth deals.  But I was the only one in line to order.  Cars were beginning to enter the lot, and some people had come in behind me.  But I was there,standing at the counter at that first blush of fried-chicken-purveying commercial activity.

Still, I found it necessary to ask the nice young woman:  "Do you have dark Original Recipe chicken ready to go?"

"Oh, yes," she said, betraying no impression that my question was in any way unusual.

"Sold," I said.

And she left to busy herself assembling my order.

After a minute, she returned with a portly young man with irregular facial hair.  His shirt said "assistant manager."  They seemed rather sad.  "I'm sorry," the young woman said.  "We  have no dark Original." 

"None?" I asked.  I was prepared to compromise, as one must at this shop.

The young man spoke.  "One piece."

Now consider that in addition to it being the beginning of the dinner hour, the store was promoting an all-dark chicken special calling for the provision of multiple pieces of dark-meat fried chicken in a store that holds itself out as selling almost exclusively fried chicken, of which Original Recipe is the most popular, as it is the  recipe that has brought millions of people to KFCs in preference to other fast-food joints for decades.

I had already filled this enormous vat -- I mean, it wasn't a cup, it was almost a barrel, with a handle and everything -- with my gallon or so of free drink.  And I had been deucedly clever about it; I got the Hawaiian Punch with no ice, which I could take home and slurp out of for days without worrying about loss of fizz or dilution by melted ice.

"How long?" I asked.

"Eighteen minutes," the irregularly-haired assistant manager said.

In other words, they didn't even have any Original Recipe thighs or drumsticks in process.  Some poor jamoke was probably back there frantically starting to shovel half-breaded chicken parts into the deep-fat fryer.

And so I'm standing there like an idiot with this bucket of lukewarm Hawaiian Punch and this irregularly-haired portly kid telling me that, at 5 PM on this fine, fine late-Spring afternoon of June 9, Year of Our Lord 2010, in the only KFC store in a city of over 100,000 souls, in a part of the country that is not known for its insistence on a healthy diet, located on the most heavily trafficked road in that city, at one of its most heavily-trafficked intersections, with excellent access from several directions, he had to offer for sale to the public precisely one (1) piece of Original Recipe Kentucky Fried Chicken (dark), among the very most frequently-ordered items of franchised fast food in the universe.

I actually smiled.  I made a show of looking at the baffling menu display, as though there were some relief to be had up there.  Finally, realizing that this particular Frisco/Preston Road KFC had once again failed to possess conventional fried chicken to vend to actual customers prepared to pay actual cash money therefor during the actual dinner hour, I asked for my money back.  I went home and ordered Domino's, but it tasted nothing like an Original thigh.

Here's the problem:  Original Recipe Dark Meat Kentucky Fried Chicken is really yummy.  But it is available only at KFC stores.  If you want it, you have to go there.  This particular store is notorious throughout Collin County, Texas, and, if I have my way, worldwide, as almost never having on hand what one wants to order: 

     --  The store is apparently unmanaged.  I doubt an adult has set foot in any food-related area in that store in years.

     --  The employee turnover there is so rapid you'd think the place is staffed solely by Obama appointees.

     --  During prime food-purchasing intervals, it consistently fails to have popular food items prepared for purchase.

     --  While customers cluster in increasing numbers around the counter, waiting for orders placed many minutes earlier, or when, like me, they finally give up the attempt to purchase chicken products and ask for their money back, they are never offered consolation certificates for their trouble (perhaps because there is no consolation in returning to this dump on yet another futile quest to acquire chicken).

     --  The destruction of the ozone layer by hydrocarbons exhausted into the atmosphere from the tailpipes of vehicles waiting in line at the drive-through has single-handedly reduced the population of harp seals -- those cute little white ones with the big trusting eyes -- by seventeen percent in the last year.

At a social gathering recently I casually mentioned that I'd had to get my blood pressure medicine adjusted after my last couple of trips to this God-forsaken family restaurant, and I was instantly mobbed by other Frisco citizens who had been similarly crushed by the defeat of their expectations for the ambrosial KFC product.

Anyone know anyone in QA/QC at KFC (owned by Yum! Brands, Inc.)?  Please send them this article and beg them to send the chairman in to attempt to purchase some chicken. 

And then you see these documentaries on how inhumanely mass-produced chickens are treated.

At least they get fed.

*     *     *
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Friday, June 4, 2010

Chicago: Go See Kurt Kramer's Photography Exhibition

I'm blessed that I know some very talented people and I'm always delighted to promote their work.  Kurt Kramer did the cover photography for my CD and since then has found some much richer topics to explore.


You can see his work this weekend (June 5-6) at the Flat Iron (a very cool Chicago landmark and itself worth the trip) at 1579 N. Milwaukee Avenue, Studio 323.  You can meet the artist on Saturday from 3 to 10 and from 2 to 5 on Sunday.

Kurt does some splendid things with outdoor lighting.  Not entirely sure how he pulls it off, but it's gorgeous.  And, like the first photo above and this next one, he's has a knack for capturing that Cartier-Bresson "decisive moment."    This tiny reproduction does not do justice to the original -- I saw this one when he was working on it in his studio.  Very striking.
"Milwaukee Art Museum"
Here's another of my favorites:
"Parking Garage"
He also shoots folks, sports, nature, travel, and generally whatever strikes his fancy, all in a way that suggests something new to the viewer.  So go check out Kurt's Chicago show and enrich your soul. 

Also, he's a nice guy and a good friend (we knocked around together when we were single men about town living at Carmen and Sheridan -- Uptown's Gateway to Edgewater) and he would be delighted to say hello.  Not one of those temperamental artists.  Almost certain not to be wearing black.  Give him my best.