We make art in strange places and blog about it.

I Choose Optomism

Those perpetually positive people…

I used to despise them (this was a long time ago). I thought someone like that displays NO objective opinion–their credibility went out the window for me, but then I started noticing how calm they remain and how little irritation they involve themselves in. I dug a little further and I found what they were into was children and gardens and making shit and general peace.

Well shit, who could argue with PEACE?

And so, I want to let you know what I finally found out–what I finally realized–and that was that sharing the NEGATIVE is not objectivity. It’s only sharing negativity.

What does a negative slant accomplish? Is a recurrently negative outlook helpful in attaining creative goals? Does negativity fix anything at all? Isn’t negativity just another word for fear?

You’ll always see pessimists calling themselves “realists” while failing to see optimism as the counterpart to their own equally ‘unrealistic’ perspective. Neither one relates to “realism”. It’s like choosing which pair of sunglasses to wear.

So I came to see, finally, that optimism creates change and does not follow it. So I choose optomism.

What Kind Of Agnostic Am I?

Some believe that this is our first time here and thus explained is our ignorance of any Hells or Heavens: we haven’t been to one of those yet.

Others believe our ‘souls’ are recycled but our memories of other existences are obscured from our view.

Still others believe that either view would be unproductive and incomplete to live by. There is no judgment of “true or untrue”.

I’m of this third grouping. I do, however, believe that a generous direction in this life is best because in perspective of individual and collective existence I plainly see this to be true.

The path is to know myself as well as is possible in each moment so that I can know other beings as well as is possible too.

The Wise Housemaid and Her Mistress

Once there was a rich widow who had a reputation for kindness, modesty and courtesy. She had a housemaid who was wise and diligent.

One day the maid thought: “My mistress has a very good reputation; I wonder whether she is good by nature, or is good because of her surroundings. I will try her and find out.”

The following morning the maid did not appear before her mistress until nearly noon. The mistress was vexed and scolded her impatiently. The maid replied: “If I am lazy for only a day or two, you ought not to become impatient.” Then the mistress became angry.

The next day the maid got up late again. This made the mistress very angry and she struck the maid with a stick. This incident became widely known and the rich widow lost her good reputation.


from “The Teaching of Buddha”
(The Gideon’s Bible of Japanese Buddhism)

A Thought Experiment On The Subject of Race And Religion

Slavery has been abolished not just in the US but in every society of the world. It simply does not exist in an institutionally sanctioned way as it once did in every corner of the world.

Does racism exist? Assuming you’re not Arab yourself, think objectively about what might go through someone’s mind upon encountering a person who does appear to be Arab. Yes, racism does exist. That’s personal. It’s not good but it’s a personal belief or prejudice based on ignorant assumptions and those do certainly exist.

Now in terms of laws, we’d like to eradicate the existence of any unfair treatment. This philosophy is the very core of the Democratic process.

Here’s my question: why has Arab racism been subtly sanctioned here in the decade leading up to this moment? If your answer alludes to something like “Because Arabs are violent” then for the purpose of this thought experiment, think to yourself right now of a young black man with pants hanging around his knees. Ask yourself: Do I believe people who belong to this grouping of society are more violent and prone to crime? If your answer is “Yes, because statistics show that the population of prisons are filled overwhelmingly by blacks”, then ask why this is true? Is it due to racial injustice in the police and judicial system? Or is it due to the generalized political reality that this racial group deals with which is poverty?

Are the elite concerned with keeping any ethnic group or religious group oppressed? Why would ethnicity be their concern? Think about it. Is any of this about race? Have any religious beliefs been eliminated or promoted in our Capitalistic society? Only Socialism believes in the elimination of religion.

What the elite will do is continue to profit off of racial and religious prejudices and our respective sense of belonging. These are based on personal beliefs and emotions.

This is the commodification of cultural bias. Now, we should deeply consider the reality of our own beliefs about the Democrats and Republicans.

Are We All Out of Touch With Reality?

Looking out from this desert of poor lost capitalists, here’s my attempt at trying to find the way. For too long we’ve all huddled in our cabanas on Jersey shores sipping on oblivious daiquiris. Did we enroll in complacency training and forget we attended the course? My culture believes very pointedly in constant broadcast of uninformed opinion so my talking points about politics and wealth are justified I’d say–and besides, I do know people. People are a subject I know.

Who are these wealth mongers and the class war baiters? Where exactly is the destructive center of our multinational suicide machine? and why am I calling it “ours”? What about this dastardliness is “ours”? This high ticket trash can belongs to the human race, yes, but why am I claiming it for “us”?

If any of this talk sounds pessimistic, that’s because it is–but I’m not mad. I’m not even worried. The higher goal here is for seeing the caviar refined piranhas as belonging to the same genus pool as the rest of us. That’s all. In plainly honest terms it’s because I want their money. I want the backing of their lawyers and I want their guns. Yes, this is a Warren Zevon song. For these philistines I take the blame; I am them, only nicer.

Some would insist that at night their stark green slivered eyes shine out over forked tongues and with matching scales for skin. I don’t know where you stand on these proposals but it’s divisive. Designed divisiveness. David Icke and his ilk would have the masses believe that the Bilderbergs and Rothschilds are secretly an unrecognizable race at odds with our own human race. I’m telling you seriously, if you didn’t already know, people believe this shit and they are what most would label as “rightwing”.

Now Democrat party congregations would have us thinking that evil avarice only belongs to the selfish and immoral Republican set. It’s hard to get along when you make it a point to not understand your enemy. Did anyone notice both camps actually have the same enemy?

In this senseless Zuckerberg fueled nightmare, to the right of me are the wingnuts bent on old world mythological archetypes engaged in endless apocalyptic war. To the left of me are the moralizing nuevo-Socialists calling for overtime in the mass production of “Class War!” picket signs.

It saddens me to see that none of them are realizing it’s just a style war. And all the while the CEOs are decked out in their attorney-lined armani jackets, showing up at congressional hearing after hearing, reaping 74% raises for their devotion.

Where did reality go in all of this?

There is anger and there is disgust running these circuses of emotion, but in the scheme most practical, every member of the oppressed class has got to remember that magic is not at play. The capitalist masters are only human. They have greed like the rest of us–only more so–resultant from their hierarchical breeding. This key point will lead us all back to the difficult task of objective harmony.

Are The Wealthy Out Of Touch With Reality?

“Out of touch with reality” is an interesting turn of phrase. I guess it makes perfect literal sense: reality is what’s real and you can touch real. Simple, right?

We were talking on Effbook the other day about wealth inequality (maybe every day to be more exact). This phrase could be used regarding that subject. People have become so rich that they might become insular and generally ignorant to the concerns of the rest of us. Could they possibly understand what it feels like to not be able to afford the gas to make a trip across town?

But I ask, why SHOULD they care about anyone else? They made that money, we didn’t.

It’s a process to become more insular. With their net worth growing by the minute, this person of the elite becomes more adept at rejecting those who’d want the money that he has. It’s an obvious philosophy to believe that wealthy people should be expected to be charitable and in fact, most of them are, at least to an extent. Everybody and their brother comes to this wealthy man asking for handouts. He gets used to saying no and deflecting their advances, even if sometimes he does say yes.

How could someone in his position ever get close to anyone who, themselves, are not wealthy? It must get really tiring to have to say no to so many people. After a while I suppose a person starts embracing selfishness as a defense system.

We can all understand the problem of the spoiled kid who has been given everything. His training in life has resulted in a kind of passive acceptance. He doesn’t have to work for anything yet he’s still better off than his peers struggling. He doesn’t actively earn anything because his comforts emanate from his natural birth right. This is his reality.

The self made individual tells himself that he owes nobody. He avoids connection with anyone who might want from him. He avoids unpleasantness (as is human nature to do) and consequently starts creating a brick wall made from the grains of his ego. This is war and he will not sustain losses. This is his reality.

He IS special–he’s wealthy. He’s not out of touch with his reality, he’s out of touch with our reality.

2 Poems: ‘This Is Not a Journal’ & ‘From My Little Art Desk’

This Is Not A Journal

so I won’t get into it

but frustrations…

I want to be alone sometimes

now, for instance.

Nothing can cure this

but being alone.

Everything is so much easier

when I’m just alone.

I think of women:

I want to be alone.


I don’t think of them.

But these women though

they are the genesis

of stress.

They are where stress comes from.

Women ARE stress.

“Are you mad at me?”

If I say yes, it’s on me;

if I say no, it’s on me;

either way I pay.

Imagine a tangle

black sticky fatal tangle

like from a swamp

or an alien trap.

THAT’S a woman.

I want to be alone on Christmas day, even

because with me

there’s nothing to it.

To deal with anyone right now

that’s more than I deserve to deal with

and take care of

and coddle.

That’s more than I want.

But this woman

who I call

an alien swamp trap

she’s free to say the same of me:

never satisfied

always complicating

so it’s not about the battle of

the sexes

it’s not about “the others”

it’s just the way

it is

for someone like me,


I hate to bring an acronym into it

like clinical cyborg

but this is it

I guess

so simple

analysis shows

what I am, statistically,

and who I am

and how I came to be

I could choose this to be

mad about,

probably safer,

because dehumanization

will never ask

“Are you mad at me?”

I’ll end this riff

Christmas day 2013

but I hope you find it funny,

the frustration of man

(and woman)

because we’re only human

and I know this ’cause

I see our specie

right here

on the categorical tree


just above chimpanzee.


From My Little Artist Desk

From my little desk at the back of the living room

quietly drawing army guys in battles

between the crosses and the stars

with TV crews on the sidelines

reporting on the malay

and on thru the schooling years

when I refused to take art in middle school

because I knew better

I didn’t want to become


& up thru high school

where I made my art teacher cry once

with my snotty attitude

Mr. Platt I liked better

he was laid back

& would give passes during classes

(I got a blow job once on the way to Dairy Queen)

and the murals I painted

in hallways

yearbooks my art graced

and into college

when I took all the prerequisites

up until Life Drawing

which was exciting

but the model was

too skinny

and didn’t strip down

and then I quit

to start my airbrush shop

in Daytona

with my best friend

we lined up hurricane insurance

but it all fell through

and then at 23

I decided


I’d be an artist

no matter what

because I knew

it would be

an uphill, lifelong struggle

but I knew

this was me

Back to college

this time in Tempe

graphic design

a logical choice

all the while still painting


and that feeling

back then

in that most productive period

the feeling that

I’m doing this

and I’m in it

for the long haul

and this was just the


I’m proud that I could see it then

the revelation

that this would never end

And then

a gallery

perspective flipped

now as the middle man

to see

what we,

these artists,

were like to deal for

but mostly a view

of this job, this career

this is an industry

with tricks of the trade

which amount to selling high ticket luxury items

to the upper middle class

and intellectuals

The floor got ripped out from under me

How noble, really

was this shit?

To be an artist

granted, an American,

but still an artist

it had a veneer

even here

that doesn’t hold up

when you work on

pricing for the market

I looked back to the college years

when my appetite for knowledge

had expanded:

the stories from biographies

on artists

I revered

life saving

these stories

in getting to know artists

before me

gave me belonging

and recognition of the fact

that these were weirdos

like me

Ultimate heroes

to rise from the ranks

with their name in lights

and this all came back

to me:

it’s an ego stroking

the whole thing

Comfort food

And so then it was

that fishbowling

came into being,

a study in how comforts

effected my art

I became a wanderer,

a Saint Francis in mobility

renouncing all my stuff

and in that same timeframe

we started NadaDada

and it was in that

that I glimpsed again

what it meant to be

an artist again

in regard to community

and in just what capacity

the journey



We belong to a lineage

our creative output

is our family,

true, but those who come

after us

the creative makers

who have followed our lead

have a need

for the example we share

in finding

own power

This is the gift we give:

sharing the keys

to self empower

because this is a powerful thing

we do

to reflect and examine

through the power of passion

which is something

so nothing

so unrealized

and so unharnessed

in most

This power–passion–is dormant

in every moment

from within every point


it can be made

and should

this for multiple reasons

but to enrich

We take this energy

and we make it work for us


is the method

of transubstantiation

in the alchemist,

the artist,

and along the way


both poems by Chad Sorg, 2013

Fishbowler and Hugo, Oh The Places We Go

So my laptop, he broke today. (why are things usually deemed a she?) There’s been dirt under the screen since I got the computer back from the repair guys. That was back when I was in LA fishbowling in a furniture store display window and I’ve just let it go until today. A piece of dirt has miraculously grown bigger under the glass so I just couldn’t take it any more.

Today I took out the pocket knife that Rippie gave me down in Goldfield. He thought every man should have one and he was absolutely right and now I use it all the time. Anyway I whipped it out and started prying the glass away from the laptop–I call it a lappy. That’s the term a friend from the past had shared with me and I’ve called it that ever since. Anyway, CRACK! The glass broke.

This Macbook, though, its name is Hugo Ball. Hugo Ball was one of the founders of the Dada movement and my Hugo goes with me everywhere I go. Hugo and I have been together now since 2008. That was the year I became single for awhile.

Between then and now I’ve been a kind of wandering mendicant. We started NadaDada in ’07 and since then I’ve been fishbowling and reflecting on the nature of transience and minimizing–you know, getting rid of stuff. Paring it all down was a big process. We don’t realize how much crap we’re dependent upon until the rug is pulled out from under us. Without a studio I didn’t do any painting until I got to Goldfield. Between burying cars, I made some canvases and did alot of writing.

It’s actually the second Mac lappy I’ve had. The first one became the property of someone else–someone I don’t know, but someone I hate. It seems while drinking and wandering bars downtown Las Vegas, I wandered into the Beauty Bar (cute name right?) and it seems I wandered out whilst my lappy stayed behind for a bit. Upon getting my drink at the next bar down the street, The Griffin–and I remember this moment crystal clear–in a flash I realized my accomplice Tristan Tzara (Tristan Tzara was another of the founders of the Dada Movement) was not with me. I dashed down the sidewalk full stride back to the Beauty Bar and, guess what, nobody saw it. It was gone. Poof! Pretty much brand new silver Apple laptop.

Mind you I was drunk and the night that followed became QUITE adventurous in the ghetto of downtown Las Vegas; I won’t get into it. Some other time perhaps. Yes, I quit drinking eventually.

So Tristan wasn’t with me very long, though he was at the first NadaDada in 2007, right beside me, playing music while I drew in my room at the Cortez. With his descendent Hugo I made hundreds of videos, thousands of friends online and have streamed thousands of hours of footage. This is fishbowling. I don’t think it’s out of the question to expect that Apple might like to sponsor my endeavors.

This year for NadaDada I’m working on getting a sponsor to build me a glass box to fishbowl in. I’d love to get some solar power for it as well.

Anyway, today got me thinking about all these experiences I’ve been through with Hugo (and Tristan)..

and all the places that we that did go

All the people that we did know.

Fishbowler fishbowlin’

it ain’t easy ya’ know.

Go fishbowler


The article I wrote in the fishbowl for the Reno News & Review years ago..

I Thought I Had Become A Goldfielder – Rippie Pt. 3

I don’t mind being on a need to know basis and sometimes that’s where life leaves me. I had envisioned working on the car forest for the rest of my life or at least for longer than a year and a half. But life’s not over yet so maybe I’m talking too soon. I dreamed of building a facility in Goldfield at the End of the World for artists to have a quiet place to work. It’s quiet and the sky slides over dramatic there, day after day.

Cat's outta' the bag, I may as well tell ya', I'm in Reno. Next week I'm installing my show up at Truckee Meadows Community College and I'd really like everyone to see my new paintings. Being in Goldfield has given me the chance for some quiet time, which is what's needed most for painting and writing–every pro knows this. I'm thankful to the owner of the Car Forest for giving me the opportunity to stay there for a spell.

It’s the perfect town for an art retreat. There’s nothing much around to distract you from your work. Also the town features a centrality between Reno and Vegas and not much else! ;) I had dreamed of a place like this long before I ever met Rippie. I also had a long standing fascination for outsider artists from Reverend Howard Finster and Adolf Wolfi to Thunder Mountain, Salvation Mountain and Watts Tower. Later I learned of Henry Darger. These are people who “just do it.” They don’t work to get a degree or an artist rep and they don’t bother to research art history. They simply make weird art obsessively and generally don’t give a damn.

Before I ever lived there I had always said I’d be cremated so as to not be taking up dead space. I guess I consider my remains more important these days. So I decided I wanted to die in Goldfield. Well, be buried there anyway. That’s a big statement, I realize, but I meant it. The Graveyard is really memorable and it’s the kind of place focal for desert pilgrimages that weird art people of the future might love to make.

Maybe you’ve heard, but the town of Goldfield has an obsession with things that are dead. The town is all but dead and ekes out a simple flow of existence. It was once 20,000 people; now 200.

Constant is the barrage of stories from Goldfield’s past. Goldfield had once been something but was now basically nothing, and for that, we all loved the place. Mark Twain had probably been there, yes, you know, stayed there, got the scoop on some story, but he never lived there and President Teddy Roosevelt never visited. I wrote an article about the labor wars there in Goldfield in 1906. Roosevelt broke the union; dirty dealings. History.

Yes, I was President of the Chamber of Commerce. It was a kind of fluke really because the town seems to kind of regard the President of the Chamber as most towns would view their mayor (Goldfield is unincorporated) and I’m not a mayoral kind of guy. I wanted to stand on my own, yeah, be different, sure. I wanted to do that and just be there to help. I wanted to bring people to our town.Picture 198

Our End of the World Party was not successful. On the same weekend, it was to help Goldfield Days and it ended up being a big disappointment. Oh well. We did get some media attention for the town out of it but not many campers showed up. It could have been something really big but it was not. It became the most famous party that didn’t really happen.

I never came out to Goldfield days. Instead I was playing host up at our place for the people that did show up and I’m told THAT was my big sin. Even though we brought bands to entertain at the town’s celebration, the next month the town decided they wanted to impeach me.  So I didn’t let them fire me, I told them I’d step down so my Vice President would take over–less time wasted than trying to fight it. Now that I’m gone I believe the town feels better about my intentions.

Picture 197

Publicity -Car Forest & Goldfield
Las Vegas Review Journal, One’s a photo slideshow, then the Video (Funny. Sums up the relations in our lil’ town)
Las Vegas City Life (Press in Vegas)
Puhrump Valley Times ( Local(ish) Blurb About Goldfield Days)
Nicholas Rattigan’s blog (funny, personal story from a journalism student)
Vincent Cascio’s Black Hawk Virtual Media (REALLY Sumthin!)
Geolocation (where? exactly?)
Slurve Online Magazine (my article)
Photographer Ron Pinkerton’s Flickr (in the lightning and at NIGHT! WOW!)
Reno News & Review (A quick announcement for our party last August)
Nevada Matters RADIO Interview about Goldfield and the Car Forest with Sorg
Sorg’s Art Exhibition at Reno’s Truckee Meadows Community College (Comin’ up soon)

Bus End World Poster

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He Puts Off The Creepiest Vibe – Rippie Part 2

He really puts off the creepiest vibe.

Everybody says so. I used to say he’s like the Grinch who stole Christmas. The Grinch lived out at the edge of town where everybody could see his house but it was where no one would go. Finally we find out the Grinch is not so bad, just damaged. That’s what Rippie was like.

I’ve always been an artist and always will be no matter how difficult–I will never stop making art–it’s in my blood. I saw that same spirit in Rippie too. He was burying these cars and that was that. No one could stop him. I saw the romance in this small town outlaw’s vision immediately.

Rippie came from a Southern state and used to be a nice looking guy at one time. But now he was 68 looking as if he were 78–he’s a dedicated chain smoker, plus he’s fat. He’s got very sweet crystal blue eyes. He’s soft spoken and uses simple words. He WAS soft spoken. Sorry, I had said I’d write about him as if he were already dead.

Michael Mark Backhoe

I know I said his eyes looked sweet, which is usually a compliment, but I’d also have to say we look alike. And we’re not allowed to compliment ourselves now are we? I believe I also have the kind of eyes that look sweet so me & Rippie, we have sweet blue eyes. It’s not a compliment. It just is.

In the movie As Good As it Gets, Helen Hunt’s character says to Jack Nicholson’s character (who is a world class asshole) “When I first saw you I thought you had sweet eyes: SO MUCH FOR EYES!” Maybe that goes for me too, I dunno, but it definitely goes for Rippie. So much for eyes.

He always wanted me to write about him, so here I am. Michael Mark Rippie, you were such an asshole.

I guess people in town thought I was his son. If I were his son I would lie about it so I guess this makes sense. This explains the resistance I got from alot of people there. Virginia is the little old lady who acts as caretaker of the Goldfield Hotel and she lets the ghost hunters in on their expeditions at that famous property. You may have seen her on TV. I don’t know; I don’t watch ghost hunter shows. Virginia wouldn’t even shake my hand when I extended it the day we met. She said to me “I’m not with you.” I was the President of the Chamber of Commerce so being connected to Rippie I guess she thought I had bad intentions for the town.

Michael Mark Viewer

Rippie had a book started that he wanted me to finish for him ghost writer style, but see, not my kind of subject matter. There was something in his story about fucking a horse and that’s just not my direction. Some real insight can be gained by looking at what a man writes. I think there was a black guy in the story too. It was a cowboy story and the black cowboy had to fight for his right to survive. Rippie was not a racist, a dabbler in bestiality, perhaps, but not a racist.

One time Zak and I came back from Reno and the old man was the talk of the town (again). It seems Rippie had tied a couple jackasses to the bumper of his one ton and was going to tow them down the main street, Highway 95, to his side of town. Jackasses are notoriously stubborn and I guess to cross the corner of the highway he had to speed them up to avoid oncoming traffic. Instead of coming along nicely, they dropped to the ground and left bloody skid marks as they were dragged across the asphalt. I was not there, but in his defense, he’s stupid as he is stubborn. This is why he loves jackasses–he told me as much. Plus we had already agreed that the animal is the official mascot of Goldfield. Anyway, he didn’t seem to foresee this bloody outcome. His intention was to help these animals and not to hurt them. To say that the jackass drug some jackasses across the highway would not be an understatement. Why he didn’t choose a side street for this adventure we’ll never know.

In my short time as a resident I experienced the most unusual of existences in Goldfield. MichaelMark Rippie had always lived unusually but I’d say our time together was probably the best topper for the second to last chapter of a man’s life. His final chapter of life won’t shine more brightly than this one but he’ll be able to bask in his own glory through the remaining years; he had finally built something. We made a substantial thing thanks to the belief we had in his vision.

525131_354857821247224_68277388_nI’d be too unskilled to appropriately express the beautiful moments I felt in that place and the unique feeling of burying cars overlooking this crumbly brick & trailer town at the edge of nowhere in the middle of the night when the wind is nil and the temperature is right. There’s that certain temperature where it matches your body temperature. The air outside my skin feels the same as inside and the stars shine so brightly. Everything feels vibrant.

Grave diggers, or the ghouls, as they were called in Goldfield, over one hundred years ago had to move the graveyard over the course of a couple weeks of late nights. The graveyard was originally located just at the spot where people stepped off the train upon arrival at the station. A graveyard to greet you when stepping off the train is not good planning. This was a location someone had to correct and that’s what the ghouls volunteered to do.

Our midnight backhoe spotlights must have shown in every mobile home’s across town. “It’s midnight! Rippie and his boys r at it again!” These cars sticking out of the ground are a spooky thing even in the day time. Many late vacant nights  we worked and we could already feel the folklore that would eventually surround this place. Everybody slept good.

This was part 2 in the Who Was MichaelMark Rippie series. Subscribe to this page to be alerted of the rest of this series.

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