Rough Morning – Car Got Broken Into

This morning I went to get the car so we could go down and meet our architect and I discovered that the window had been smashed overnight.

broken window

It was even parked on a good block – Fort Washington Avenue just south of 190th. To say the least, it’s sort a irritating – broken glass gets EVERYWHERE.

broken glass

They rifled through the compartment between the seats, but I had taken the iPod out months ago to put a new selection of songs on it and hadn’t put it back. They also got into the glove compartment and stole my Valentine One radar detector. The radar detector will cost about $400 to replace and the window looks like it will be about $350.

I just changed insurance companies and I’m not sure if I have full glass coverage. I’ll call the agent on Monday morning and figure things out. It’s just such a hassle…

Applebee’s Relies On Fake Customers

Dan and I were in the Bronx today over at Gateway Plaza and we saw the most bizarre thing – Applebee’s had FAKE customers sitting at the tables by the window…

Applebees customers

That’s right, they took their prime real estate – the window seats – and put a bunch of mannequins in chairs sitting at tables “having a good time”. It was just bizarre. Here is a close up of three of the Applebee’s “customers”…

3 mannequin 'customers' at Applebee's

That’s just sorta sad, and kinda disturbing/freaky…

Why Most Christians Aren’t Christian

Bill Maher pretty much nailed it with his take on Christianity…

“If you ignore every single thing Jesus commanded you to do, you’re not a Christian.”

“Ghandi was so Christian he was Hindu”…

Our Newly Framed Art: Warhol, Nordström & Kerlin

Dan likes to buy art. In all truthfulness I like to buy art as well, but lately we’ve been trying to save our pennies to have money for the house. But we did just get some art framed…

Andy Warhol – Pasadena Art Museum Poster 1970

The most recognizable name amongst our newly framed art is Andy Warhol. As Warhols go this is a rather inexpensive piece… It’s the “Brillo” poster from his museum show in 1970 at the Pasadena Museum of Art. Like a lot of Warhol’s work, it’s a screen print. Apparently it was made at Warhol’s “Factory” and it’s signed, so it’s not “just a poster”.

Framed Warhol Poster

Dan and his friend John Serdula found the frame down in South Jersey in this barn filled with old frames. We need to get John to do a bit more restoration on the frame – it’s a bit too rough for my liking. We like the contrast of new and old though. If we had put the poster in a contemporary frame it would have just looked like a poster. In an old 19th century French frame it has more character.

We’ve actually had the poster and the frame for a while now. It’s just we finally finished the job and had it all put together.

Jockum Nordström – “House And Bugs” 2008

The next piece of art is one that Dan got me to cave in on and we bought it in the past year – it’s by Jockum Nordström – “House And Bugs”. David Zwirner Gallery had loaned it to a show John organized at Heskin Contemporary. This piece looks a lot better in person – the picture doesn’t do it justice (probably the lighting)…

Framed print by Jockum Nordström

It is a print (edition of 50), but it’s a really well done print. Apparently Nordström went off to learn print making and he made these prints himself. He’s put out another round of prints since then that were “professionally” printed and apparently they’re not nearly as nice.

Nordström’s work, while contemporary, is rather folky. It goes really well with the old frame we put it in. The frame actually has a history of it’s own. It used to be the frame for Gifford Beal’s “The Albany Boat” (1915) which is owned by the Met. Here’s a picture of that piece…

Gifford Beal's The Albany Boat

We had to cut down the frame slightly, but it still has tags on the back from the Met and from the LA County Museum of Art (from when it was on loan there).

We got the frame from Hudson City Antiques. John is good friends with the owners and he spotted the frame when they brought into their shop and said it would be perfect for the Nordström piece. John then did some restoration on it so now it looks pretty incredible (at least in person).

Sherry Kerlin – “The Bride of Christ” 2007

The last piece also has a John Serdula connection (as does much of our art)… The artist, Sherry Kerlin, is someone we met through John. She needed a website, so Dan designed and built a website for her and in exchange we got to pick out one of her pieces of art.

Framed artwork by Sherry Kerlin

The image is of a little girl with a rosary on her first day of communion. We love it – the button eyes on it are a bit spooky (given the general innocence of the piece) – but it’s what you expect of one of Sherry’s pieces – she has a slightly sardonic view of the world around her.

And like the Nordström piece, we got the frame at Hudson City Antiques. If you’re looking for old, historic frames you definitely should check them out. Not only that, but they’re far more flexible than a regular framer. For example, we really wanted UV plexiglass for the Warhol and the Nordström, but the price his supplier was charging him was a bit crazy. So he let Dan find UV plexi cheaper online and have it shipped to his store – something most framers would never agree to. That saved us hundreds of dollars and will save the artwork from damage down the road (a lot of similar Warhol posters are pretty faded).

Wrap Up

So our theme at the moment seems to be contemporary art in old frames, but Dan was just remarking that he wants to mix it up and go back to new/contemporary frames when we next do framing.

Now we just need to finish the house so we have space to hang all the art… Our current rental is looking a bit over-crowded with art at the moment.

There’s Still A Long Way To Go For Gay Rights

Today is the day when the first gay marriages are being performed in New York. That’s a huge step forward and it’s great, but we need to remember that we still have a LONG way to go before we’ve got equality. I’ve been having a back and forth on Facebook with a classmate from grade school (I went to a very conservative Baptist school). One of his comments was “So you have gay marriage in New York, why are you complaining?” Let me explain why I’m still complaining…

Dan and I have been married since 2005. The problem is that our marriage is just not on the same legal footing as straight marriages. I’m being asked to be happy and content with the fact that a state here or there recognizes my marriage. But meantime…

  • I couldn’t give Dan a green card. What if his immigration status had been more tenuous? He would have had to leave the country and there’s a chance I couldn’t have followed him if he came from a country that didn’t recognize me as his spouse. (That’s academic for us, but isn’t for many bi-national gay couples). [Dan did finally get his green card this year, but the issue is that he should have gotten it 10+ ago based on his relationship to me.]
  • We’ve had huge legal bills to keep Dan in the country.
    • Before getting his green card Dan used to be here under NAFTA and we had to go through the process of getting him approved by immigration every year. The first few years we used a lawyer ($$) and then we had to do use a lawyer again after 9/11 when things got tighter… Very little of that would have been necessary if our relationship had been recognized and he had gotten a green card by being my spouse.
    • We had to incorporate our business twice because we did it wrong the first time. Immigrants aren’t allowed to be owners in the companies that sponsor them for work visas/statuses. Before 9/11 the INS didn’t really care, but after 9/11 we had to reincorporate the company ($$) so I was the sole owner.
    • We had to spend $5,000 on rather complicated wills. Since he wasn’t allowed to own the company that sponsored him if something happened to me we had to set things up so a trust would take over the company until he had his green card.
  • Health insurance has been an ongoing issue. 
    • In one company the (lesbian) general manager got rid of domestic partner benefits somewhat by accident (she didn’t realize the company had them since no one was using them). The executives over her were not gay friendly but luckily she was. When she realized her mistake she gave Dan a job so he’d have health insurance (he was already freelancing at the company). We just lucked out – most bosses don’t go that far for their gay employees.
    • When Dan was at other companies that weren’t so gay friendly I had to get health insurance through our company. That cost us an extra $800/month. While we could afford it, a lot of other gay guys and lesbians can’t. And for god’s sake – there were other things I would have rather done with the $800/mo.
    • Even now with Dan working for a gay-friendly state agency (CUNY) I get health insurance, but because the federal government doesn’t recognize our relationship Dan has to pay federal tax on my health coverage as if it were extra income. That tax is not imposed on straight couples.
  • Dan has had to do particular types of work to stay in the country. Since Dan’s Canadian he’s eligible to work here under NAFTA, but he had to do particular types of work – namely graphic design. If I had been able to give him a green card he probably would have pursued some other career option or had more time to pursue art. Only now that CUNY got him his green card last year does he have that flexibility.
  • If we’re hospitalized while traveling we may not be able to make medical decisions for each other. This is potentially a big one. Because there are places where our marriage is not recognized we may not be able to make medical decisions for each other in an emergency. We have executed heath care proxies and living wills but our attorney tells us they’re only valid in the state in which they’re signed. Other states can choose not to honor them.

So while it’s great New York is doing gay marriage now, unfortunately those marriages in many respects still aren’t equal to the same marriage performed in the same place for a straight couple.

My classmate from grade school went on to say “Actually, I feel bad for the situation you find yourself in, but as far as I vote, I answer to a higher authority than you and Dan. It’s not a personal insult.” Thing is, when you can look someone straight in the face and ask them to sit in the back of the bus, how are they supposed to interpret it? He, and people like him, are denying me my civil rights. They’re not necessarily bad people, they just don’t get how offensive their actions are to people like me. At one point he said “Let me ask you this, if you could get a green card would that make you happy? If you could have a ceremony in a liberal church would that make you happy?” What he doesn’t understand is that throwing scraps my way will never make me happy. I don’t want a little here and a little there. I want equality. We keep making progress (like gay marriage in New York), but we’re still not equal.

When you run across people who are against gay rights, please challenge them on their beliefs. They need their world view widened and you can make a difference…

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