Today in August, 2022

I found another mangled cereal box in the recycling bin the other day, flattened and then bent in half. Of course, I’ve asked the one other person in the house who eats cereal to save me empty cereal boxes, but I guess they forgot. Really, I should stop using cereal boxes. They have creases. The ink sometimes peels off in a layer. It takes many coats of gesso and paint to cover the printing, and sometimes it still shows through. But something about re-using the cereal boxes–and then turning them over and using the other side–feels like we are trapped in this 80s museum in Bedhead Hills, waiting for the end of the plague, making due with whatever we have on hand.

Because we are. We don’t know which small decision, which quick errand, which trip to town leads to getting Covid. I don’t know many people who haven’t had it yet, but I do know some. I think it’s still worth trying not to get it. I am not ready to give up.

Sometimes I save newspaper photos of famous people that I like so that I can make them into skulls. Sometimes I save newspaper photos of famous people I don’t like so that I can make them into skulls. Most of the skulls are people I don’t feel one way or another about, and not all of them are dead yet. But everyone dies.

But not everyone has to get Covid, and so, not everyone has to die from Covid.

On the 26th through the 29th, I wrote down the number of total Covid deaths in each of the 50 U.S. States (and also the places like Guam and Puerto Rico that were listed along with the states), copying them from a list where they were in order of deaths per capita. I imagine it would be interesting to study the differences between Mississippi’s coronavirus response, where the deaths have been 430 per 100,000 so far, versus Vermont’s, where the deaths number 113 per 110,000. Maybe it’s their vaccination rates (Mississippi 53% vs. Vermont 83%), or maybe those rates reflect the efficacy of the states’ respective health departments. Mississippi’s many public health challenges predate the pandemic, though, and correlation does not imply causation.

It is so scary and frustrating to know that an American’s chances of getting through the pandemic unscathed is going to come down to being lucky enough to live in the right state in the first place.

Today in July, 2022

Oh, hey, remember the other pandemic? The one that used to be called Covid-19? The one that two American presidents claim they’ve beaten, but is still killing hundreds of Americans every single day?

Yeah, me neither.

I went to a dog show with my dogs and made some new friends in July, and it was really fun, and I did that pathetic thing where I showed my new friend one of these and he said, “Oh, you’re an artist,” and I didn’t say, “Yes.”

I thought about that on the 19th, when I was painting.

Which is funny.

After they found a guy with polio in Rockland County last month, the New York State Department of Health started doing wastewater surveillance, and other other detection efforts, to check for signs of the polio virus.

“Polio is a dangerous disease with potentially devastating consequences,” State Health Commissioner Dr. Mary T. Bassett said. “In the United States, we are so fortunate to have available the crucial protection offered through polio vaccination, which has safeguarded our country and New Yorkers for over 60 years. Given how quickly polio can spread, now is the time for every adult, parent, and guardian to get themselves and their children vaccinated as soon as possible.”

My grandfather had polio as a child and died of its long-term effects his early 70s, suffering serious, debilitating medical problems during most of the years that I knew him.

Covid is still killing over 400 Americans a day, and has already killed almost 1,000 American children under the age of 11.

Today in June, 2022

June started out nice enough, with a bunch of Americans being jollied by the gate agents to form disorderly lines, shuffling with two personal items onto overbooked airplanes, occasionally being met by just enough staff to actually fly them, and jetting off to attend the improbable graduation events of their amazing relations capable of finishing degrees during Plague Years. Sure, a bunch of people got Covid, some of them for the second or third time, but by the end of the month no one would be talking about it. Not a word.

Why would anyone talk about an airborne virus we could keep from spreading by wearing the right masks, running a few tests, and taking common-sense precautions to isolate ourselves when we have six berobed demon overlords who have seized control through irreversible lifetime political appointments to the highest court in the land who, in the last couple of weeks, have ghoulishly weighed in on everything from whether women are people (no), whether states like New York should be able to have different laws about guns (no), whether gerrymandering is ok (it is if it oppresses non-white people), whether some bullying loudmouth coach can force his football team to pray to his god (heck yeah), something something Miranda rights (whatever favors the jackbooted totalitarian regime), and strips the Environmental Protection Agency of the ability to protect the motherfucking air (why not).

It’s absolutely fucking nuts.

Today in May, 2022

At the beginning of May, I was on my way back from Minnesota, and I had such a big adventure I am still working on writing about that.

The United States passed a million documented Covid deaths this month, and if that fact was officially recognized, I did not hear it. Everyone seems to have completely lost interest in Covid, as if the pandemic is over. It isn’t.

And then, our beloved old dog Captain went to bed one night and didn’t wake up the next day.

I make room within myself to accept the arrival of more bad news, like it is normal, and expected. Captain’s cremated remains wait for me at the emergency vet, where my son and I took him on that bad Saturday. Maybe I will go on a day where the U.S. Supreme Court leaks yet another opinion that I am not a person worthy of bodily autonomy, or a day where a guy with a car full of military-style weapons goes to a supermarket or school to shoot up and kill young children or elderly shoppers. You know, just another Thursday in America.

February 2, 2022

On this day, Wednesday, the 2nd of February, in the last month of the 2nd Year of Our Pandemic, 2022, I recorded the data published by the New York Times on four boxes that fit together.

The outermost box is covered in obituaries with painted skulls. Inside surfaces are painted paper collage.

Total worldwide cases as of this date, 381, 675, 145. 5,686,747 total worldwide deaths attributed to Covid-19.

3,262,391 new cases per day, worldwide average. 10,234 new deaths from covid, in all its variants, each and every day.

10,101,836,424 vaccine doses administered worldwide so far.

On this day, 295,3374 new U.S. cases were found, and 3,579 dead were reported.

805,00 vaccine doses are going into Americans each day.

128,284 Americans currently hospitalized with Covid.

(Only) 64% of Americans are fully vaccinated.

75,285,898 total U.S. Covid cases have been counted so far.

889,522 total Americans have died of Covid as of February 2, 2022. In the week since, the U.S. has passed 900,000 dead.

On this day, 214 new New York deaths counted. 6,267 New Yorkers hospitalized with Covid.

6,468 new New York cases just detected.

4,796,000 total official New York cases of Covid-19 as of this date.

64,461 total New York deaths from Covid.

In Westchester County, New York, where I live, 6 new covid deaths reported on this day, and 257 new cases. 242,283 total Covid cases so far, and 2,622 total deaths.

The finished larger box also has room for all the boxes I made in earlier months.

Today Again in January

People are saying it’s now the third year of the pandemic, but for me, it started March 14, 2019, so we are still in the second year, and closing in on the end of the second year.

92 skulls this month. No pandas.

I remembered to do a tea box again for the first time in many months. Big numbers, little box. Eggi was very helpful in the demo.

I used both sides of 5 cereal boxes this month, something that wasn’t necessary, but it was possible. As it is, you have to flatten a cereal box to put it in the recycling, so there you are, cardboard in hand, deciding if you could re-use it.

Grackle was a regular pest in January.

People on Twitter had things to say about the stripes. Here’s what I can tell you: I dreamed I did it.

Idaho should not feel singled out; I found a box of maps. If you have an old map of a state you’d like me to feature, maybe we could work out a trade.

The 20th, below, became the 25th, and then became the 26th. Shit happens.

Those paintings are still there; you just have to see them with your mind.

I feel I have a new relationship with the color yellow now.

Because I write these numbers down every day, when we passed ten billion vaccine doses administered worldwide on Friday, January 28, it was cause for exclamation. I yelled, like, “holy fuck,” or something. That’s a lot of shots. There are still plenty of Americans yet to get theirs, and if you know some, I’m sorry.

Pretty soon I’m going to have to buy some more paper. I’m thinking about making these smaller for a while; I’m not sure how that will work.

Last Year, Today Again in December

About 434 days ago, I started writing down what day it was, because I was having trouble telling what day it was.

We’ve had only a few days of genuinely cold weather this winter, and one snowy day. Otherwise, it was mud, mud, mud outside at the end of 2021, that very long, very strange year.

Some nights I dream about making paintings. Once, I dreamed I was in a great gray void with a long, long brush that was two or three times as tall as me, and a clanking tin bucket of black ink hanging on my belt, and I danced across a great, undulating sheet of soft, thick paper as it floated on a shallow sea. The paper wanted to curl into a scroll before I could finish writing the numbers, trapping my feet between the two tubes.

Thanks to the arrival of the omicron variant in the U.S., on top of the reluctance of about 40% of America to bother getting vaccinated, we ended 2021 in the U.S. with an explosion in the number of infections. There may not be enough test kits available to measure the cases.

I had an impulse to paint over the 20th and it became the 27th. I also painted over the 26th, and it became the 31st.

Today Again in November

Yes, I am still making them.

Did I think, last November, that I was starting this at the beginning, middle, or end of the coronavirus pandemic? Did I imagine the pages would get bigger and bigger? That I would use yard signs and cereal boxes? That there would continue to be inconsistent messages to Americans about wearing masks? That so many people would forgo being vaccinated in favor of just being demonstrably stupid?

Add to this the fact that our least democratically chosen and highest court in the land is now hearing another challenge to Roe v Wade and it looks like the decision will be in favor of the special religious interests and against the poorest women in America, who apparently do not deserve bodily autonomy.

I went to bed angry last night. And I woke up angry.

Don’t you dare tell me to vote. I voted.

An abortion is a medical procedure. A religious fringe group has decided that procedure offends them, and they’ve spent 40 years working to change laws in your state to limit your ability to have that procedure. The Supreme Court has been packed with justices hand-picked to make this decision in favor of the religious fringe, and, if the vast majority of Americans doesn’t like it, well, too fucking bad.

We were taught that ours is a system with checks and balances, and is a democracy, with liberty and justice for all. All.

No matter what I try to think about today, it is drowned out by the screaming fact that American women are not yet considered people. There is no liberty without bodily autonomy.

I will end with the cat. He likes to step on the work.

Today in October

I have been doing a poor job of keeping up with this: the BLOG. I am going to come right out and say it: writing is hard and I am quickly bored with whatever words I put down.

I have been doing a good job of making these things, though, so there’s that, and, ok, yeah, sure I missed a day this month, but oh, well, it happens.

This month marks the end of an entire year of making these. These things. Sometimes I use paint and I guess they are paintings. Those sometimes I think I could call them data paintings. But other days I use glue and paper and ink, but a brush. Ok. Maybe that’s a painting. And then there are the pencil drawings. Those aren’t paintings. Since it’s a daily practice, lets call it that. The Daily Practice. That, or an anti-NFT.

Mid-month, I went to Virginia with Fellow for the Vizsla National. I just got the pictures downloaded, so that story will be next week.

While we were gone, the Bacon Provider got the puppy Dibs weaned and started getting him housebroken.

When we got back, we had about ten days and then it was time for Dibs to go to his forever home.

Today in September

Well, that was a month. Thirty whole days, one right after the other.

I have had a lot of sleepy days this September, with a baby puppy in the house. When I’m not well-rested, I’m more short-tempered, and inclined to despair. Bad pandemic numbers confirm my sense that things are not going to be ok. But there’s a puppy. He’s here. He’s adorable.