Sunday, January 25, 2009

A Gift From Italy - Frederick Studio

I’ve mentioned here before that the Internet has made “Gemini Art” an international publication. One of the first contacts I received was from a fellow artist in Italy, Federico Forconi. Freddie also posts a blog about his artwork. I have listed his link on this site for quite a while.

Freddie recently asked for a picture of me because we have actually never met. I was pleased to find that his request for a picture was to use as a resource to create artwork of his own. He has sent me a copy of the finished work as a gift. I was very flattered.

Our artistic styles and media are very different. I’m a traditionalist, Freddie works in a very modern, abstract, digital format. I believe our only common artistic frame of reference is that we both love to create and use our imaginations.

In appreciation for his gift I have posted a copy of his “portrait” of me and a brief interview (think of “The Actor’s Studio" ala Gemini Art) we conducted via questionnaire. I have left his responses to the questions just as he answered with very little editing. I love how his vowels and adjectives flip-flop occasionally and his prepositions go askew sometimes. Leaving it like this gives us a sense of what I’m sure is a very cute Italian accent. I’m so glad he speaks English. Goodness knows I could never hope to speak his beautiful language. I hope you enjoy this feature on Federico Forconi.

GA: Age, Personal Stats, Location?

Freddie: I am 42, I am fiancé and definitely in love, I live in Florence, (my hometown) - Italy

GA: Education and Background?

Freddie: I studied to become an accountant: I tried to work as an accountant but I hated that job! In family my dad was a graphic (now he’s retired) and he worked as graphic and artist for many Italian publisher. My mother is a housewife (but non desperate). My brother work as editor and graphic for a publisher. At the moment I work in the same publisher but at the commercial department!

GA: Artistic medium and preferred aesthetic?

Freddie: The artistic mediums I prefer are Cinema and photography. Cinema, the so-called 7th art has been keeping me alive for 42 years! My favourite directors are Stanley Kubrick and Pedro Almodovar! I love very much the American science fiction films of the fifties such as Body Snatchers, the War of the Worlds, the Japanese Godzilla! About photography my favourite artist is the American photographer David Lachapelle. Last year my publisher published the catalogue of his exhibition hold in Florence and I really fall in love with his artwork. In my photos I I love using Photoshop to recreate a sort of science fiction atmosphere in my photos for example in “Clones Attack!” and “New World”. These two photos are visible on my blog: ht
tp:// (key words on Google: Frederick Studio) . The models of my photos are some friends of mine.

GA: Personal philosophy?

Freddie: Anywhere you go there You exist!

GA: Politics and religion?

Freddie: Politically I am left-wing! If I were American I would have voted for Obama! I did not vote for the government currently in power in Italy, whose prime minister is Silvio Berlusconi, the man that in an interview defined the American President, Barack Obama, “a tanned man”!?! Regarding my religion I am Buddhist and a member of the Soka Gakkai Association an international Buddhist association. Soka Gakkai promotes the peace and culture throughout the world. One of the member is Tina Turner.

GA: Would you ever consider visiting the US? Why or why not?

Freddie: I visited United States in 1991: New York City, Boston and Chicago (Obama’s Town). I loved these towns. New York City is my favourite American Town probably because in my imaginary is the greatest movie set in the world: its skyscrapers made me think to some movie masterpieces such as Metropolis by Fritz Lang and Blade Runner by Ridley Scott even if the first was German and the latter was set in Los Angeles in 2040. I also enjoied very much the Chicago’s Downtown. The towers along the Michigan Lake reminds me the Tuscan’s town of San Gimignano that is situated not very far from Siena. San Gimignano is very famous too for its towers. Evidently I am also fascinated from modern architecture and in Big Apple and the Windy City you’ll be spoilded for choice. But I would like to visit U.S.A. one more time. I am attracted from the American big spaces such as Grand Canyon, Sequoia Parks and Devil’s Tower in Wyoming and where Spielberg shot “Close Encounters Of The Third Kind”.

GA: Why do you go by Freddie "FEET"?

Freddie: probably you are referring to my previous e-mail address That address is not more valid. I chosen that name because some friends of mine gave me as nickname Fred Flintstone, the famous Hanna & Barbera Cartoon of the Flintstones: Fred Flintstone is always barefoot. In fact in summer I often wear flipflops , of course barefoot like Fred Flintstones… In Italy despite Flip-Flops are in fashion if you wear them you can cause an uproar amongst Italians. Anyway my new e-mail address is:

GA: What are you truly passionate about?

Freddie: Definitely CINEMA!

GA: What makes you laugh? What makes you cry? What makes you angry?

Freddie: What makes me laugh? Spontaneity! And the Italian stand-up comedian Luciana Littizzetto! ( What makes me cry? A truly romantic film (such as Moulin Rouge or Brokeback Mountain)! What Makes me Angry? Italian Citizens that voted for the actual Italian government makes me angry. As I already said, the prime minister is Silvio Berlusconi an Italian media tycoon: Silvio Berlusconi in its politics only take care of his huge private business.

GA: Anything you want to add?

Freddie: Be Yourselves tonight! And today and each day for the rest of your lives!


Thursday, January 22, 2009

Cashing In, I Hope

DOLLAR SIGN (2)You may have noticed I've added something new to the page. Due to the loyal and faithful readers of this little trifle, we're now receiving roughly one thousand page views per month. I am very humbled by that. Thank you, all. I've decided that I will allow a little advertising on the page as long as it doesn't distract the readers. I am allowing the Adsense ads to be placed on the very bottom of the page. Hopefully, no one will be bothered by it.

Photo credit: ebaycoach at Flickr

Monday, January 19, 2009

How "We" Shall Overcome

As we honored the memory of Dr. King today I have reflected on its relevance and impact on my life. The most direct impact is that the movement he started helped shape our country into a place where all people, regardless of race, have equal opportunity. President-elect Obama is the personification of that opportunity as he has ascended to our highest office in less than a generation after Dr. King’s efforts began. I am so proud that our country has moved so far away from its bigotry and hatred that we can respect the contributions of every citizen regardless of race or color. I also believe that the peaceful resistance that Dr. King preached can also teach us how gay people can overcome the prejudice and discrimination that we face.

Racial discrimination has been fought for years by religious people beginning with northern Abolitionists fighting slavery. Later, Dr. King mobilized religious people and intellectuals to support the cause of African-Americans in their pursuit of civil rights. His most touching words expounded that we not judge a man by the color of his skin but by the content of his character. That was a message that religious people could easily get behind. But now, I find it interesting that the very religious institutions that helped Dr. King fight prejudice and discrimination for racial injustice are the very institutions that promote it against homosexual people.

The one hopeful idea that has reached us is Dr. King’s teaching on non-violent protest. I believe that this message is the only way to persuade the homophobic evangelicals that hate us so bitterly to treat us with compassion. Of course, the Christian right-wing are not going to react toward us with physical violence. Instead, they mount campaigns of fear and misinformation. They spread hatred and untruths such as, “they are pedophiles,” or, “they recruit heterosexuals.” Nothing could be further from the truth. What they are saying is a “spiritual violence,” as Tracey Zoeller has said.

I was so touched by this brave young woman’s response to Pastor Rick Warren. She shows that we gay people are being injured, hurt, victimized by the hateful speech of heterosexual evangelicals that have no idea what they are talking about. I don’t think the activists fighting for equal gay-marriage rights are going to help us. I don’t think the banner-wielding protestors will help us by shouting, “I’m here, I’m queer, get over it.” I don’t think the “Gay Pride” parades will amount to anything but a paltry amusement for most straight people. I do believe the most effective method of persuasion will be from the heart felt expression of sorrow from young people like Tracey Zoeller that show how we have been hurt. We have been hurt, brutalized and victimized not with fists but with words. We have been ostracized from our families and communities. We have been pushed to the fringe of society when we want to be embraced at it’s heart. This peaceful protest against spiritual injustice is the only way we will overcome.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Off Center Is Not That Easy

Wow! I was so excited to see the change in the old place. There was more than just a fresh coat of paint. There was a new sense of life. The most noticeable change was an energy and excitement brought on by the house band playing. Cody Belew covered a pop-rock repertoire with a live band that kept the crowd very happy.

The crowd was shoulder to shoulder. Of course, part of this was brought on by the absence of a cover charge and free drinks for the first hour of the evening. I’m sure things will settle down soon. If tonight is any indication of what is to come, Little Rock is in for a treat. Patrons that want a comfortable smoke-free environment with great music now have a place to come.

The regular cast of characters was there with a few new additions. There was one very heart felt absence, of course. We miss you Buddy. But, it was like old home week after the place has been closed for the last couple months. I never go out on a work night. Who parties on a week night? I felt so rebellious. It was fun. There’s more to look forward to on the weekends now.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Dissing Dysfunction

I found a gift tag left over from the holidays. “We love you,” it said. It was such a nice thing to hear. I can’t remember the last time I heard those words said to me with sincerity. It was even more remarkable that these words came from relatives on my father’s side of the family. The people in dad’s family are wonderful folks with great core values and integrity, but for the most part they are emotionally stunted. The emotional dynamic of most of the family ranges from a frown for displeasure to a pat on the back for encouragement. Any more feeling than that is a waste of breath.

A younger cousin asked me a few days ago, “Was my dad (my uncle) a cheerleader in high school?” I responded that males in our family aren’t capable of expressing that much excitement. We both got a good laugh at that. Its sad but true. Our fathers grew up in a time when the All-American man was strong, solid, steady, stable, sober (and a whole lot of other power words that start with “S” I’m sure). The last thing they were expected to be was “sensitive”. No matter the emotional trauma, “real men don’t cry.” If something really outstanding happens to excite you, a mild expletive like “damn” (pronounced with two syllables for emphasis, “da-yumm”) might be appropriate. Anything more than that and you might be told to “settle down”.

Our fathers love us. We know that. They told us so. They knew it was the right thing to say and do. They just couldn’t look us in the eye when they said it. I can remember my dad mumbling the words “luv-ya-son” very quietly with his eyes pointed at his shoes as he would quickly sling one arm around my shoulders and then let it slide off. The hug was over almost before I knew it happened. With the right camera angle and editing I’m sure it would have made a great comic scene on “how-not-to-hug.”

I like to look back at that attitude with as much humor as I can bring to the situation. Remember that during the “free love ’60’s” when I was born, the words “I love you” meant “I find you attractive and I want to have sex with you.” I guarantee you that after that little cultural perception occurred, no man in our family was about to say those words to another man. It just wasn’t natural. Believe me, a psychologist tried for quite a while to convince me that the reason I am “this way” is because I’m still searching for affection from a man as an adult that I didn’t receive as a child. Hmm? I disagree.

I feel that some of the most overused and abused words ever spoken are, “I love you”. These simple words can cause such joy and pleasure when spoken in honesty and cause such suffering when spoken with deception. These words, when spoken by a lover, can sustain one for a lifetime, and when spoken in betrayal, can inflict the most painful wounds. No words are more often used for the purpose of manipulation. No words are more often used to inspire guilt.

I said all that to say this. Its nice that the young people in my family (and I include myself in that) are trying to overcome the emotional absurdity of the past generation. We are finding that the word “love” means nurturing not seducing. Perhaps our family will achieve some emotional balance eventually.

I’m finding it difficult being in that bridge generation between the baby-boomers and the “metro sexual” males. I like to hear people express affection toward me but I forget to return the sentiment. I argue with myself about who is a close enough friend to demonstrate affection and who is merely an amicable acquaintance. If I show affection to someone who does not share the same feeling about me, will they consider me too forward? But, I am at the right place at the right time with the right people to teach me that. I’m with family and I’m with “family” who have no problem expressing those feelings. Little by little I’m losing my touch-me-not complex that I have had since high school. My personal space is getting a little closer. I can be embraced without feeling restrained. I can be touched without feeling fear or embarrassment and hearing “I love you”, means “I accept you.”