The Man With The Plan.

Ouuuuch… I planned to hit the ground running, but running turned to slowly walking with my head in my hand by the time I got to the bathroom at the inn. I was up late finishing the first painting and a bottle of wine on an empty stomach can take its tole. I’m not a fuckup. I’m just a slow learner.   Brush teeth, sink bath, Advil, water. More water. Coffee. Road.

I arrived in Gander on time to meet Stan, a guy my friend had also solicited to help with the moving of this heavy and multi-part artwork.  She has a knack for getting people to do free labour for her. Burners are like that. I find this both admirable and annoying. I arranged to meet Stan at the van rental parking lot because I have to return the one I have. I arrive there first. He finally pulls up in a tan VW bus with a jerky stop-go stop.

‘Heeeeyyy’, he says with smoke swirling around his head. He looks like Shaggy from Skoobie-Doo, but older, long after the Mystery Inc disbanded and became married with children.  All the stereotypes stayed intact.

‘I don’t think your van is going to be big enough to pick up the artwork.’ I explain.

‘Nodda problem. bro. it can fit on the roof’

This is going to end badly.

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We drive to the airport where the boxes are waiting. Several staff discuss the best way to attached the boxes to the vehicle and finally decide on the use of a forklift, a tarp and the better part of a spool of yellow nylon rope. Everyone pitched in to help except one guy who stood nearby silently vaping and judging. I was judging too, but I at least knew how to tie a few helpful knots.

The way back to Twillingate was slow. The car rocked back and forth with the top heavy load and a few times I could feel the car go up on two wheels.

“Whouldn’t it be cool if the van went all sideways and we drove part of the way on two wheels.’, Stan mused aloud.

No, it would not.

I remarked that Stan the man with a plan in the tan van was an old Sesame Street skit I remembered and liked as a kid. Stan laughed and processed to tell me about how his dad met Jim Henson when they were at the University of Maryland together and how he went on to work for Henson into his Sesame Street years. His mother and father are named Dan and Franny and they inspired the skit.

‘Yeah, bro. This is the tan van!’, he says, ‘I sorta inherited after my dad died and my mom moved back to the rock because her family is from here. I’ve had this thing forever. Her name is Tanny. We drive her down to Bonnaroo every year. Not sure if we’re going to make it this year though. Last year she overheated in the wait to get in and we had to push her to get repaired. It was a bummer.’.

His laugh reminded me of ‘The Dude’ in the Big Lebowski. That sort of laugh a stoner guy makes when he’s laughing, but forgets what he’s laughing at and then realizes he’s kinda laughing at nothing, but mostly he’s just making a sort of slow stunned moan, but then finds that funny too. This happened a lot the entire ride back.

We unloaded at the lighthouse as a crew was attaching a winch at the top to pull the bull up. I had to get back to the airport to catch my flight so Stan drove me back. We stopped for lunch and I shit out my hangover and I got my flight to Paris. So much for iceberg watching. I really have to go back.

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I can’t count how many times I’ve been to Paris, but when I go I’ll make it a point of heading to the closest bakery and wolf back a croissant or two. I held off this time though because I’m staying with my friend Jackie who works at Pierre Hermé. It was perfect timing because she was getting off work so I met her at the store and tried a Croissant Ispahan for the first time. ohmyfuckinggod. Lychee and raspberry and candied rose petals. I want everything to taste like this.

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It was pissing rain and we both got pretty wet trying to find a place to have a drink, so we just went back to Jackie’s place which was nowhere nearby.  A hot shower and a glass of wine warmed me and helped us to settle in for a bit of catch-up. Jackie’s been in Paris for two years now learning to make pasties, her tiny kitchen is neatly and densely organized vertically up the walls to the high ceiling.  She was living with a french guy named Gilles for the past six months, but things weren’t working out which I said that was good because if it did work out and they got married to bring them a pail of water. Jackie stared blankly. I think she was tired.

It was getting quite late and Jackie had to work early so she left me a spare set of keys on the table and and left me to work though the night on my new painting. She turned out the lights as she went down the hall. The room felt quiet and still and the wine soothed my travel fatigue.  Rain fell rhythmically on the skylight above me and the view from Jackie’s living room was inspirational. Paris in the rain at 2am. I let out a deep sigh and opened my case and set up a little place to work. I may have left my brushes on the table at the inn in Twillingate so I only had two brushes to work with. I’ll pick up more tomorrow. I could hear Stan’s voice repeat in my head… ‘bummer.’

While setting up, in my bag I found a small heavy box wrapped with a fat elastic bands. It let out a low and clinky rattle when I shook it. Inside were six glass bolts with rubber washers and what looked like a steal core in each of them. I had no idea what they were for or how they got there. Twenty minutes later I got a text from my electric-bull-art friend asking if I had seen any bolts, that they were custom made and she needed them to have the sculpture assembled. Fuuuuuuccccckkkkk.


PARIS AT 2AM.  12in. x 12in.  Acrylic on paper.  2016

Around the World In 30 Days is a somewhat fictional travel journal and fundraising art project which runs May 2 to May 31, 2016.  To find out more about the project or to request a city to be painted, follow the link here.  If you would like to follow along with the adventure, you can joint the event page on Facebook, subscribe to this blog at the top of the home page or see image updates on Instagram.  Please feel free to leave comments by clicking the comment icon at the top of this post.



AROUND THE WORLD IN 30 DAYS – Day 1: Twillingate, Newfoundland

Because It’s Art.

What. A. Day… I woke up this morning and left for Montreal while it was still dark. I needed to drop off some artwork before starting my adventure, then had to catch a plane in the early afternoon from Montreal to Newfoundland so I gave myself plenty of time to drop off the cube van, have lunch and catch my flight. Yeah… not so fast.

I get a call from a friend who finds out I’m traveling with a van and asks if I could please pick it up some of her artwork in Montreal and take it with me. I say sure because I’m nice. Here’s a little tip about traveling with art for friends: Ask how big it is. I didn’t. Big mistake.

I get to this place that is an art gallery/art bar/barbershop/tattoo salon and this heavily tattooed guy shows me what I’m picking up. It’s a fucking MECHANICAL BULL! Yeah, no…. I call my friend and tell her she’s insane and she asks if I could at least take the package to the airport and that she’ll make all the arrangements and she’ll rent me a van once I get there and she misunderstood and thought I was driving all the way to Newfoundland blah blah blah… I’m thinking, I’m a nice person.. it’ll be fine, so …okay.  So here I am with this mechanical bull art thing in an alley to load it into the van and it starts raining and I’m hungry and cranky and this woman asks me if I need a hand and she helps me in with the first box and then I realize its Martha-FUCKING-Plimpton. I’ve cut my hand and it starts raining more so she asks some other guy to help us who does and tattoo guy has no interest in helping and goes back insite and locks the door. Then Martha asks if she can wait in the van with me until the rain stops. I say sure, but I have to leave soon because I’m going to the airport. She says that’s great because she has to go to the airport too, but could we swing by her hotel to pick up her stuff. My flight isn’t for another hour or so and it’s a domestic flight so I think I’ll be fine. It was a little weird riding around in a cube van in Montreal with Martha Plimpton, a mechanical bull, a cut hand, and eating McDonald’s fries. Yes, we stopped and got McDonald’s food. I thought she was a vegetarian too. The media tell lies.

She gets her stuff as quick as a celebrity can and off we go to the airport. I drop off the bull, I drop off Martha, and I drop of the van. All is good in the world. I get my flight and luckily no one sits beside me which was awesome. I sprawled out my stuff like a bag lady checking inventory. No inflight movie, so I watched old episodes of Bob’s Burgers on my laptop. I keep them stored there for just such an occasion. I get into St.Johns and get my connection to Gander. I pick up the new cube van to head to Twillingate, but the art my soon to be ex-friend sent hasn’t arrived. It was offloaded in St. John’s and it’s likely not going to come until tomorrow. So this means I get to come all the way back to Gander tomorrow. FML.
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The ride from Gander came with a soundtrack compliments of K-Rock, 97.4 FM. Bands like The Wings, and The Eagles made for a sunny late afternoon drive. These are songs I remember my dad playing when I was young and this being my first trip to Newfoundland it seemed fitting. My father’s father was from this area so I guess these are my people. Roll on Down The Highway by Bachman-Turner Overdrive was a personal radio favourite as was the story of a guy who was drunk and driving around town on three wheels with sparks flying off the bare rim. Billy Idol, not so much. Listening to the call-in all request afternoon gave me a quick primer in the local dialect. I found myself practicing o’ya, y’know and donchaknow repeatedly and out loud as I arrived at my destination.

Twillingate is pretty the way you imagine most Atlantic ocean-side towns. Quaint houses sit perched along the rocky shore like patient seagulls and all the docks remind me of rugged Hemingway books. It is a place where people wear sweaters in the summer and ‘cidiots’ flee at the end of cottage season. I checked into the Anchor Inn run by these two cool women, Deborah and Rebecca who both have braided ponytails. I think it’s a thing in Newfoundland because since I’ve been here I think I’ve seen about ten or twelve people with the same braided pigtails or ponytails. There was even a guy at a gas station in a truck who had one. He kinda looked like Willie Nelson, but not really. He was weathered and wore a bandana though and I’m sure he goes pot on his property. No overalls. No guitar.

It gets better…  It turns out the women at the Inn know my artist friend and I give them the address of where I have to go to drop off the art tomorrow. They show me on a map where to go and its not far and its still light so they suggest I might want to take a drive up to where it is. I get in the van and start driving north and the navigation gets a bit dodgy which it usually is when you get off the main roads in rural areas and wi-fi becomes one of those things you take for granted when you live in a big city and you start cursing rural life and getting worried you might have tostop and interact with a stranger to ask for directions. Yeah, that. The view was beautiful and other than a few turn-arounds the drive was pretty smooth. I get to the end of the road and the only thing in front of me is a lighthouse.  Yes, a lighthouse.  I spend sometime looking at the view because my cell isn’t working and get back on the main road to come back to the Inn. When I finally get bars again,  I call my friend.


‘You know the address you gave me is a lighthouse, right?’, I say.
‘Yeah, that’s where its going’, she says all matter-of-factly.
‘At the top.’
‘You’re fucking kidding me right?’
“Why what?
‘Why would you put a mechanical bull at the top of a lighthouse?’
‘Because it’s art, James’. She sounds annoyed that I’d question this and says she’ll arrange for it to be ready in Gander in the morning.  (Because I have nothing better to do than chaperone a mechanical bull to the top of a light house… ‘because it’s art.’


I’m back at the Inn now and cracked open some white wine and finished the first of the 30 paintings for this project. Twillingate is a place I could spend some time in. Perhaps next year.
TWILLINGATE.  12in. x 12in.  Acrylic and gouache on paper.  2016

Around the World In 30 Days is a somewhat fictional travel journal and fundraising art project which runs May 2 to May 31, 2016.  To find out more about the project or to request a city to be painted, follow the link here.  If you would like to follow along with the adventure, you can joint the event page on Facebook, subscribe to this blog at the top of the home page or see image updates on Instagram.  Please feel free to leave comments by clicking the comment icon at the top of this post.


stjohns airport