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Postcards from the Pandemic XIV (The Anatomy of a Blog Post)

Sight of Termination, 1984

By Zdzislaw Beksinski

Oil on canvas

To say what a difference a year makes would be an understatement. All the emotions from anguish to anger and finding joyful little bright spot amongst a pandemic. All the vitriol of a toxic political climate to collective resolve of civil unrest. No need to pick those scabs at this time. Let’s just take a second to inventory the changes that our lives took over the past year, I know, there’s too many and so very individualized to list. A blog is way to do just that, chronicle your life for others to judge. To either affirm or deny shared experiences. I had always hoped that this blog would be a forum, but it’s not. I get comments from the same 2 or 3 people, (none of which are my family by the way), so to that end, I’ll reside in the fact that I’m not a very good blogger. I’m sure I’ve made some folks smile and pissed off others. I’ve even had someone throw my last post in my face after I shit on their team (on social media) for getting beat in the NFL playoffs. As if I was somehow tearing down their life. To be clear, no one give’s a fuck about “what a great season it WAS…” when your team loses, be pissed, not complacent. As a consummate Yankees fan, you win the World Series or you’ve failed, period, but I digress. At least I got someone to reference a blog post, hum, maybe I should piss off more people. My initial motive was simply to keep fresh content on the Roc Paint Sip website, so I had little expectation. Perhaps that’s the reason I’m not a good blogger. It’s become more of a public diary of sorts.

So, this blog started as an instrument of functionality of RPS’s online presence and, to a lesser degree, promotional element. It landed as a way to keep in touch with out-of-town friends, sort of… (They rarely comment either), so it works for that and that’s cool with me. So, what’s the point? I don’t know, I’ll go back to my original thesis. Admittedly, I’m not good at social media, or probably marketing as far as that goes. Not sure of where the reach of this blog is, or how to expand it. Perhaps, I’m late to that dance or missed it all together. Who reads blogs anyway? Dating myself I know, something I like to do every late February into March.

Diary of a Seducer, 1945

By Arshile Gorky

Oil on canvas, 50" x 62"

Last year at this time, I was lamenting my 50th birthday and how that was such a monolithic landmark. Little did I know, it was opening act for the Covid 19 World Tour. Short lived was close family and friends (gathering in person at a brewery) to reminisce on my life, in lieu of quarantine, masks, 6 months of missed gym visits, and the attrition of small businesses like mine. Touchless everything, from pizza delivery to graduation celebrations. Postponing holidays and scaling back special events to charades on zoom. A whole year later, we see a light at the end of the tunnel. Vaccines are coming (eventually), and people are beginning to imagine a return to “normal”, what ever that’s going to look like. With things to look forward to, in the upcoming months like much anticipated home improvements or planning my 25th wedding anniversary vacation to Europe, I do imagine, however, the summer of 2021 will look exactly like the summer of 2020. The Caveat being if we can actually execute those lofty travel plans. Focusing financing elsewhere, it’s safe to say, I won’t be buying concert tickets or planning a yearly pilgrimage to the Bronx for a ballgame.

I can dream of morphing this blog from the gravitas of a pandemic to an honest to goodness travel blog, even if temporarily. Pulling my head from the clouds, let me get back to the functionality of this blog. To humbly draw attention to the business of Roc Paint Sip. I have been fortunate that over 2020 from March to December RPS had booked at least 1 event each month. A small victory considering that the first 3 months of last year, I was averaging 2 a week, and most being rather large corporate events at that.

A year later, I won’t lament another birthday by trying to find some sort of profound meaning, because I’ll be busy. Besides, only birthdays that end in zero are the only ones that count going forward anyway. From the 26th of February to the 6th of March, I have 6 events, in fact 4 in 5 days. Hopefully, this upward trend continues. While they’re all virtual, the hope is that when the weather gets warmer this spring and summer, I may return to in-person classes, who knows? At least there is a tangible time table for a real return to normalcy. By July we should be close to “herd immunity”, which should relax a lot of social gathering protocols. People are chomping at the bit to gather (in-person) to celebrate. Vaccines willing, I could be really busy this summer.

To Kiss The Spirits (now this is what I really like), 1993

By Hollis Sigler

Oil on Canvas, 25" x 25"

Even if they’re narrow in scope, a blog is a good way to side step the clamor of most social media platforms. I’ve been generally silent on most social media platforms over the duration of the pandemic. I may quip on post from friends or post finished paintings I’ve done, but for the most part, I’ve been successful in not getting roped in to political or social vitriol or venomous pandemic response banter. Most of everything I do on social media is tied to Roc Paint Sip so everything I post has to be tempered anyway. And as previously mentioned, I’m just not that good at it either. I don’t get Tik Tok or Instagram filters or Facebook fishing scams disguised as “games” designed by hackers to get potential password answers. Now don’t get me wrong, I do enjoy the algorithms that allow me to see an endless supply of Godzilla and sugar skull clothing, as well as, a variety of art supply porn, but I just haven’t cracked the code to effectively promote on social media. Well, that and I don’t have the money to pay to have RPS pop up in any of your social media feeds while you’re trying to find a good recipe for couscous or a heady quip to a video posted of a poodle humping a stuffed animal.

Four Prophets, 1991

By Bakhyt Bapishen

Oil on Canvas, 39" x 39"

I’ll stick to blogging. I know it’s one sided in its nature, but that’s a good thing. As with travel or food or party planning, people are looking for an individual’s insight and experience in that particular subject. Peppered with humor and if you’re savvy enough, visual media like videos or pictures. There are some ultra-slick production values in producing some blogs, particularly those around travel. It’s an itch I hope to someday scratch. Still, my yearning is to solicit more feedback and increase readership. Yeah, good luck with that!

I would love to incorporate product endorsements within the blog. Let me back that up, I would like sponsorship for the blog, another function in a successful blog. From the supplies I use in paint classes to the local venues that host event and the charities that utilize RPS to fundraise. Yet, that comes with having thousands, if not millions of readers. I’ve got a loooong way to go.

Winter Night in the Mountains, 1914

By Harold Sohlberg

Oil on canvas, 22" x 24"

I also love the idea of a podcast. I feel I could hold my own with topics like painting, paint & sip, running a business, party planning, etc. I just don’t know where to start. Plus, I have this little voice in the back of my head that says” who fuck’n cares about what you think?”. I suppose that’s just me being a “Negative Nancy”, because 95% of social media, in the end, is just that, one great big “Who give’s a fuck!” if anyone just read just this one paragraph, they would easily be able to place my age demographic.

So, in the end, I guess this is more about me personally and less about a blog as product. Therapy perhaps, a way to vent, to keep a steady pulse on the RPS website, to let a choice few into my thought process. When I was a kid, I wrote a lot of bad poetry, I mean a lot! Notebooks full of freeform teen angst, that really only had an audience of 1 or 2. As I focused on my painting, I found my medium of self-expression, so writing poetry went by the wayside. Painters are poets, except they use paint instead of words. Chefs are poets, except they use spices, I could go on and on…

A blog can be many things and serve may functions. I’m slowly unpacking that fact with every post I write. Through maintaining a business, raising a family, documenting the dreams and disappointments, or just free form middle age angst. Blogs aren’t important, or in 2021, probably even relevant, but they can connect us to someone else. People we know or even we’ve never met who may have stumbled upon your blog. I’m done trying to figure out all the working parts of a blog. It all comes down to content, right? If I’m an editorial writer in a local newspaper in the 1960’s or 70’s I may have been right up there with Dear Abby or Erma Bombeck, (look them up on Google if you're under 40). What’s good content now has to be limited to 10 second videos of people saying stupid shit on camera or teen girls trying to dance for the sake of sharing it with other teen girls who can filter themselves with cat whiskers and on and on…

I like the term “echo in the canyon”, but I don’t think it apt. because calling out, someone’s bound to hear you and you might even get a response. Blogs are more like eavesdropping on a conversation in a crowded coffee shop. You tune out all the chatter for just a second to hear that kernel of something affirming or funny or even informative. Here’s hoping you hear (or read) just the right thing along your journey through the cacophony.

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