I hope you're all doing well. Let's discuss motorcycles and denial, then follow up with some art!

This video does a pretty good job of describing how I feel lately.

It had me at the opening line: "What's scary is that I've already done one career and that career is over. You never think as a kid what if you have one and you have to jump into another one?"

And he does a pretty good job of describing the draw of motorcycle riding. What he calls the Black Noise.

"This is how I want to spend my life"

Maybe it's a phase, but if I have the choice between getting my sketchbook out, or polishing the rims on my bike, I go for the bike. I think there's only two or three motorcycle enthusiasts on this list, so I don't think I'll garner overwhelming support for this attitude.

There's history, acquired knowledge, and a desire for mastery at work with motorcycles. Each time you tinker or clean, or fix something that busted, it's a tiny victory. And there's always something to do or something to learn. In a way, it's built-in success. Or at least, it's insurance against disappointment, and people don't really offer that.

I'm very lucky that I've got a dad who has given me this gift. Something I would probably never have found on my own. Getting on a bike has done quite a lot for me in a difficult time. It's meditation. That guy in the video above nails it, I think.

There's a darker side though. I get withdrawn, and impatient, and I want to leave all the time. Be moving.

Art hasn't been seductive in that way, for a while. Making music is still up there but it's a community effort. I don't internalize the feeling; I was a cog in a hopefully beautiful machine. But it all pales compared to riding down the road on a motorcycle.

Now admittedly, that's a pretty asocial attitude, and one that expresses an almost clinically dangerous level of disinterest and self involvement. And I should probably be telling this to a counselor instead of you nice folks. I'm not proud of having the feeling, but it's there. I'm just glad that I've got a bike instead of a spaceship.

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And now in a move that seemingly contradicts everything I just said, I'm going to show you sketches! Just bear in mind that this has been my sole output for over a month, pretty meager for a guy who already had one career as an artist. (And as usual, you can click them to get a closer look.)

A pretty pale interpretation of a Thomas Lawrence painting. Done in Artrage to see if I have any traditional painting chops in a digital environment. The jury is out.

Some made-up character studies. There's some suggestions of medieval or gypsy dress. I was thinking of the circus family in The Seventh Seal and all the brilliant characters in the gallery in The Passion Of Joan Of Arc.

If you've never seen The Passion of Joan of Arc, it's a pretty remarkable film, especially for 1928. It's so inventive and modern looking that when I first saw it, I had assumed it was a new film meant to look old. And Maria Falconetti pulls off such a nuanced and amazing performance that actors are still trying to catch up to her. Here's a youtube clip from the movie.

For a while I wanted to do a self portrait as the person lighting Joan of Arc's pyre. But I'd have to stop polishing the bike long enough to get started.

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If you're inclined, I posted an archive for this newsletter so if you're new to the list, you can go back and catch up on previous missives or share some with friends and family that you think may enjoy them.

Thanks to you all for reading, and I hope you're doing well. Feel free to let me know what you think about motorcycles, antisocial middle-aged men, Playing chess with Death, and arc-etypes (pun intended) who get burned at the stake.

Bonus, for those of you who made it this far! Here's Leonard Cohen's lyric to his song Joan of Arc.

Now the flames they followed Joan of Arc 
as she came riding through the dark; 
no moon to keep her armour bright, 
no man to get her through this very smoky night. 
She said, "I'm tired of the war, 
I want the kind of work I had before, 
a wedding dress or something white 
to wear upon my swollen appetite." 
Well, I'm glad to hear you talk this way, 
you know I've watched you riding every day 
and something in me yearns to win 
such a cold and lonesome heroine. 
"And who are you?" she sternly spoke 
to the one beneath the smoke. 
"Why, I'm fire," he replied, 
"And I love your solitude, I love your pride." 

"Then fire, make your body cold, 
I'm going to give you mine to hold," 
saying this she climbed inside 
to be his one, to be his only bride. 
And deep into his fiery heart 
he took the dust of Joan of Arc, 
and high above the wedding guests 
he hung the ashes of her wedding dress. 

It was deep into his fiery heart 
he took the dust of Joan of Arc, 
and then she clearly understood 
if he was fire, oh then she must be wood. 
I saw her wince, I saw her cry, 
I saw the glory in her eye. 
Myself I long for love and light, 
but must it come so cruel, and oh so bright?