Another Political Bestiary, Ep. XXIX

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The Dangle (2020). Mixed media on paper. Artwork and text copyright Danny Grosso.

Continuing the expeditions of Jeff MacNelly, James Kilpatrick, and Eugene McCarthy, with apologies.

The Dangle

With seductive eyes and a desperation borne and a siege mentality and instinctual self preservation, the Dangle spends most of its life in the trees, away from any harm to its personal liberty. Its connection to the muddy swamp below its lair is its sensuous tail, lushly maintained, and appearing to beckon interested parties to safety. Of course, rarely is the beckon genuine, and the gesture is always for the benefit of the Dangle alone, who likes to test its powers of attraction and manipulation. For this, the creature will remove its gaze from reflective surfaces, a diversion which encumbers most of the rest of its time.

The Dangle is so selfish as to disregard any utterances not coming from its own mouth, save one, for it is known to respond to this inquiry: “Pardon?” This phenomenon is extremely curious, for another creature, the Pardon, is the Dangle’s distant and more powerful cousin, and it is known that on rare occasions a dangle, perhaps through some aspirational transfiguration, has metamorphosed into a pardon.

 

Danny Grosso 

Random Story Pages, No. 6

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Page 1 (2007 – with watercolor wash) from Someone Else’s Memories. Artwork and text copyright Danny Grosso.

Someone Else’s Memories was produced as a graphic single – an illustrated story with a CD of an original song co-written and performed by Danny Grosso and Russ Offman.

 

Alley Tags VI

Alley Tags VI (2020). Spray paint on wood. Artwork and text copyright Danny Grosso.

Alleyway Royals

Fold the tent up, the party’s gone

night so short, workday so long

trading dreams for the everyday

little prices we all pay.

Call me crazy, that’s what Leather would say

but not late for dinner this or any day

the mad king of the alleyway

begging the courtesans –  Come away.

Up from a bardo

as the son of a martyr

a cosmic style and fire

with which to conspire.

He sparked the intrigue and blazed a trail

we all followed to little avail.

Once the pageant all we knew

became the demon we never slew

the spinning color of love’s demands

excite the eye and impair the hands.

Call me crazy, that’s what Leather would say

but not late to woo you this or that way

the mad king of the alleyway

should’ve seen him in his day.

It’s just minefield where we play

and a shadowland where we lay

he slams his heel against the concrete bay

but the structure don’t give way

and nothing changes in the alleyway.

-Danny Grosso

Neon Moon, No. 6

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Neon Moon, No. 6 (2019). Acrylic on paper. Artwork and text copyright Danny Grosso.

There is much to do. All the nights are cold, and the darkness is marked at intervals, neon lights pulsing, changing everything around them for a moment. Life is like that too,  sometimes, for a moment. A pulse can change everything around it. Pulses of love, or hate, pulses of machinery or sound, pulses of water or fire. Pulses can beget rushes, and rushes, if rushes of love, can linger longer than say, the echo of a pulse of sound.

Long after that song ended, the one playing at the club the night he met her, past the echo of the melody in his head, his captivation with her resounded. Rushes of feeling, to infatuation, to love, to resignation – a sequential rite of the afflicted. Under a neon pulse, as under the earth’s satellite, all things are colored by a light refracted from a third source. The light of the moon is given by the sun.

There is much to do. He cannot light himself – he is crippled that way, a dead rock stuck in orbit, a moon.  His light, in his vampiric existence, came from the city’s neon display, and now he seeks more. A pulse can change everything. In the darkness he moves, lit up in a rainbow of colors, a Lite-Brite animation with a paper in his pocket bearing the address she gave him.

 

-Danny Grosso

The Traveler, 1982-1991, Strip 6

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The Traveler, 1982-1991, Strip 6, Artwork and text copyright Danny Grosso.

The Traveler first appeared in The Loyola Phoenix in 1982 under the title D.C.. Many of the original strips were damaged in the layout and printing process, so the author reworked them in 1990-91.

 

Danny Grosso

Mud People, No. 17

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Mud People, No. 17 (2019). House paint on paper. Artwork and text copyright Danny Grosso.

Smashing bottles in the alley. His feet, cold and wet from the slushy pavement, give him a strange sense of comfort. This is what Christmas is supposed to be like, like it was when he was a kid, sneaking sips of liquor behind his uncle’s tavern, running back inside to warm your feet and watch the holiday revelers drink their bonuses away. He’d learned to smoke at the bar, and to play dice in the back room behind the register. When the holidays came he made extra money walking the inebriated to their apartments. They’d tip him, if they were awake when he slumped them into their beds, and if not, he’d reach into wallet or purse and tip himself.

There were no Christmas songs on the jukebox back then, so the drunks would just belt out carols all night, accompanied only by laughter. Now, he hears them inside, blending their voices with this year’s Christmas tune, playing on the new stereo sound system. Not bad, he thinks, as he raises unsteady fingertips to the night sky holding a butt still lit, a holiday light, a Christmas star.

Somewhere in an apartment high above, a kid looks down at the lonely little light in the dark alley. It reminds him, somehow, of the star of Bethlehem. He thinks, because he sees this, that perhaps he will someday be a king.

-Danny Grosso 

Another Political Bestiary, Ep. XXVIII

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Algorithmic Bias (2020). Acrylic and ink on paper. Artwork and text copyright Danny Grosso.

Continuing the expeditions of Jeff MacNelly, James J. Kilpatrick, and Eugene McCarthy, with apologies.

The Algorithmic Bias

A thoroughly modern creature with a backward-looking perspective, the Algorithmic Bias operates with an invisible hand to serve an unseen master. Unfortunately for the curious, the obscure methods of the invisible hand are sufficiently complicated as to render them inscrutable. The AB is thus an enigmatic magician playing in a sandbox of real world information, and making a mess. Logical conclusions find themselves subjugated to the AB, as do aspirational ideals, whimsy, inspiration, and blind pursuits. Investigational rigor is nothing next to the bedazzling charm of AB magic, and slow due diligence is detritus in the wake of the AB’s speedy retrieval of results. What’s more, since the creature feeds on its own speed, it grows continuously stronger within its infinite lifespan, which, in turn, increases its speed, which feeds the creature – a continuing cycle of growth,  power, and influence that is unmatched in the Bestiary. Its only natural predators, crusty tweedy researchers, can, at best, cull only one AB every so often, with great effort. This lopsided dynamic is thought to have wide effect, exampled by the strange phenomenon of overvalued tech stocks and the surge in the sale of black mock-neck pullovers.

 

-Danny Grosso

Random Story Pages, No. 5

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Ozwald (2018). Watercolor and ink on board. Artwork and text copyright Danny Grosso.

Reflecting an uncritical disposition, he took on the patterns of the life that was offered him. He slept in his room, he drank in the saloon, he attended church on Sunday, though that diversion was not offered, but rather, insisted upon by Pastor Welsh. He loved the way the sun came through the pointed windows of the church, and the smell of the pines that rushed into the place after a hard rain. At Christmas time, Ozwald would sometimes help the Pastor decorate the church with ribbon.

Then there was the digging.

The undertaker was distant when he was not drinking, but Welsh was always accessible, so much so that Oswald found himself talking to him even while digging alone. On cold nights, when the hard ground gave itself grudgingly, often the conversation was profane and unbecoming, but it was genuine. As Ozwald got knee deep and further, he was taken away from pretense and propriety, deeper into his own mind, and then away from there, to a place where his gut and his aching arms, and his cold, wet feet, were given voice.

-Danny Grosso

From Ozwald, page 2 (2018).

Alley Tags V

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                              Untitled (2020). Spray paint on wood. Artwork and text copyright Danny Grosso.

It was strange to see it there, this seemingly misplaced artistic sentiment. It so contrasted its surroundings – it seemingly came alive among the dead darkness of the alley, morphing from flatness to relief to a real guy sitting there, in that chair. And he just sat, silently meditating, or mourning – who can say for sure? We were all intruders in his space for a moment, a moment of zen, in alley in a dirty city, where all sorts of things are alive and beautiful.

Danny Grosso