The simplification of Lalage Snow's complex project.

There's the expected line in the blog about how we can see the shift in a person's psychology through portraiture, and specifically, through the shift in their facial features: cheeks sunken, weathered skin and small wounds.

The photographer in question, Lalage Snow, spent 4 years on and off with Brit soldiers in Afstan and Iraq and so I doubt that what she is doing subscribes to the "window to the soul" dialogue surrounding portraiture. I doubt it, because I don't think you come away from such experiences with that notion intact.

For myself, what's most interesting is that – likely – if you shift the order of the photos around, you would still read the images in order: Before, During, After. I also wonder about the role of the sitter, the soldier. In those moments before they sit in front of the camera, do they bring forward those months in the deserts of Helmand or the crumbling suburbs of Basra? Does the camera alter how your face fits together? Of course it does, and so for me, that's the worth of this series.

Everything I've typed above seems obvious, so let me add something else that's obvious: The decision of the photographer in choosing which photos to represent the soldiers. They exist in a place which seems part portrait studio, part photojournalism. The black background which creeps in around the edges is a curiosity and seems to remove them from context, from the war. By doing so we are allowed to focus only on the faces, but at the expense of the images seeming a bit too clinical, or staged.


Open-ended and off to Miami

As to the previously posted "'Terp" piece, here is the companion, seen side by side with its brother. Sometimes I worry too much about defining the purpose behind my work, but for these two I was painting them for a specific event (rather than a specific idea), that being the Aqua Art Fair in Miami this Dec.

The title of Blue and/on Green covers some of the implications of the content: i.e. fratricide and betrayal, contradictory and ambiguous relationships between NATO/ISAF and the Afghans who work with them.

If, in the very off-chance you find yourself in Miami between December 6-9, My work will be with the AWOL Gallery folk. I'll be there on the 7th and 8th (and maybe the 9th).



Many of the 'Terps working with ISAF/NATO wear masks, bandanas to lessen the chance of attack to both themselves and their families. But not all of 'em.
I'm not gonna use a word like heroic; let's go with Ballsy. For example, this dude working with the Jarheads at CFC.

Also, I'm pretty fucking pleased with how this turned out. Puffy, shiny jackets take a bit of patience.


Morris nails it

Yesterday I was talking to the writer for my YYZ show essay. This is germane because it (sort of) signals the first time I've had to had a coherent sense of what this project has become. Sometimes "garage sale" seems the best way to describe it.

Last week, while reading Errol Morris' "Believing is Seeing", and specifically the chapter on Roger Fenton's Crimean War cannonball photo(s), I came across this gem:

"War is a peculiar thing. —Inaugurated by the whims of the few, affecting the fate of many. It is a difficult, if not impossible, thing to understand, yet we feel compelled to describe it as though it has meaning even virtue. It starts for reasons often hopelessly obscure, meanders on, then stops."

So I'm not sure if this show of mine is going to have coherence, but Morris, at least, seems to offer commonality with the idea that there's little coherence in a war zone, and that, perhaps it is a garage sale of competing ideas, images and possibilities that when taken from a distance form the kind of entity that you might pull over to the side of the road to peruse.


On Memorials

I was talking with the father of a dead soldier. I'm not such a fan of the terms "lost" or "fallen" as they both lean to heavily on a lack of intention. In the case of a volunteer army, everyone knows what they're getting themselves into. That's not to say anyone wants to die, goes looking for it and doesn't cherish their lives. Quite the opposite I suspect.

But lets be clear that if you're a soldier (and this has degrees to it: An infantry soldier is not an MP is not a naval cook), especially a combat arms soldier, the draw to violence is part of your trade – is most likely one of the reasons you chose the trade in the first place.

Having talked with the father, who told me of the many portraits of his son that have been attempted and created, I've been thinking about the culture of "fallen" soldier portraits that exists within certain parts of Canadian visual art society. There are some famous folk doing them, some regionally known artists plying their trade and even more, well-meaning memorial painting collectives. Everyone has their reasons: some noble, some engaged, some mysteriously devoid of purpose.

It seems unfair to criticize such projects and endeavours, as they certainly have their place. I'll simply say that, for me, it seems worthwhile to honour the draw to violence that binds the dead. To pretend the draw doesn't exist – isn't central – lessens these lives that ended earlier than expected.

The painting below is excerpted from a live fire exercise during Ex Desert Ram. The fire base commander (that these tracers emanate from) was commanded by Mcpl. Byron Greff, who some seven months later would become the sole fatality on RotoZero of the Afghan training mission.


Force Pro(tection) complete

I'll be showing this painting up in Haliburton, at Rail's End Gallery, in October. I'd been thinking about doing this piece though it clearly falls into the category of unnecessary. The photo is good at getting the point across: Three guys who spend their days and night shuttling folk and material around Kabul pose for a photo at the request of the war artist who's about to fly home.
There's risk involved in their job— there always is, but at the same time, they know how to do it and seemed to enjoy the gig well enough.

I guess this is the sort of painting that gets done to honour the hard work and sacrifice of the troops: Something totally worthwhile and meaningful, but not really what I'm focusing on so far as my practice and this project go.

However, the curator up at Rail's End told me that some folk (maybe just one, but more than likely there's more) in town have the predictable, conservative reaction when they hear an artist from Toronto is doing a show about the military: They assume it's lefty peacenik reactionism. A loving depiction of three guys posing in gear seemed like a nice way to give the skeptics exactly what they claim to want but assume professional contemporary artists won't give.


Flying to YYC

I'm heading to Calgary for the weekend of Sept 27-30 for a couple of official events. 

Thursday evening, the 27th: 1830 at The Military Museums will be the book launch for Embedded on the Homefront. I have an essay in this anthology and will be reading an excerpt, as well as participating in a panel discussion.

Saturday the 29th, from 1000-1400 I'll be doing tours/talks at TMM as part of Calgary's first ever Doors Open.
A Brush with War continues at TMM through December. This is the last venue for this survey of official Canadian  War Art post-Korean War through Afghanistan

If you happen to be in the area, do come out.
Both events are free.


Headshots x3

Assembling a few portraits, 12"x12" ea. Very little in the world of painting production is as enjoyable as small headshots.


New work, and a bit more narrative navel gazing

Here's a few shots of recent work.

There's a sense of self-doubt that germinates in the blood memory of most every painter educated in the post-secondary system. I've bludgeoned this concern over indoctrination several times previous, but it manifests itself quite nicely in my self-doubt around "Force Pro", a painting done simply because I think the photo will translate nicely though pigment. That's why I'm painting it though, to see if I feel okay about executing and exhibiting a painting that is mostly devoid of "contemporary" concerns.

"Cautionary Tale" is a painting that seems to be unnecessary, in that the things that drew me to these images was the story that links the two moments in this diptych. Okay, unnecessary is the wrong concern. The diptych works, but it stands separate from the source, and lacks the mortal resonance of the Tale itself. Perhaps in the end (of course, there is no such thing), the painting will work more successfully than the text because it's devoid of a story... and that's sort of sad.

The two headshots, (Logie and Greenhall) also come from my new-found pontificating over narrative. Stripped of most context, my hope is that, accompanied by a written component, they will bounce off the constructed words, paragraph, plot and metaphor in an undefined but resonant way.

In short, the trouble here is not whether I can paint, but when I should paint. Fucking art school and its suspicion of craft and storytelling.

Force Pro (cropped, partially complete)

Cautionary Tale [diptych], 30"x40" ea.

Greenhall, 12"x12"

Logie, 12"x12"


Nobody Says it Better

I was gonna put up some new paintings, but I left the SD card in the studio, so it'll have to wait a day or so.

However, this is better: Let's me talk about the military memoir canon. Like any good canon, there are holes, and one of mine was (but not no more) Michael Herr's Dispatches. It really does sit at, or very fucking near, the top of the genre, so why I waited all this time to read it is a mystery. Herr spent a year or so as a correspondent for Esquire. Not just any year either, but the pivotal and ultra-violent period that included the "siege" of Khe Sanh and the Battle for Hue.

As my own work has progressed, I've become less and less interested in reading military history. Sometimes this is because of the awful writing [allow me to digress and mention The Lions of Kandahar, as a book I was really looking forward to read, but after a few pages of pot boiler phrasing, had to put down.

What I really care about is the memoir, because what I really care about is how war infuses, destroys, liberates and crystallizes the human experience. Herr: "remembering compulsively, telling war stories. But then, there's nothing wrong with that. War stories aren't really anything more than stories about people anyway." And if I might also paraphrase Tim O'Brien, "And in the end, of course, a true war story is never about war.... It's about love and memory." (The Things They Carried)

Another fun thing to do when reading Dispatches, is pick out lines that you've heard in various Vietnam war movies. Herr was hired to do much of the narration dialogue for Apocalypse Now, and there are a number of lines in the book that are inserted directly into Full Metal jacket.

I'm almost finished now and will be sad to leave behind Herr, Sean Flynn (son of Errol) and Tim Page. I didn't realize the attachment was strong until I came to the sections where Herr starts to discuss his and other war correspondents attempts to claim lives for themselves after Vietnam.

Scanned and placed below is one of those "when we got home" sections, where Tim Page has had a piece of Shrapnel removed from his brain and, subsequently, a British publishers asks his to do a book that will take the glamour off war. Start from the cerulean arrow if you like.


The N Word

Yep, Narrative.

Last week I was immensely lucky to spend a week in a writing workshop run by my literary hero, Tim O'Brien. It stands to reason that any chance to work with someone who means so much to ones (my) professional practice can be a real disaster. What are the chances that the week can actually live up to the hopes of a swooning literary heart?

As it turns out: 100%. A totally stellar week that fortunately was populated by 6 other great folk. No megalomaniacal navel-gazers, no weepy rhyming poets and no goths. Just a good, broad group of folks who wanted to talk about and focus on story-telling.

Such a funny thing, to spend time in an environment where people don't feel the need to balance (or subjugate) narrative concerns to material and formal issues. 

And so I come out of the workshop (with a sign that reads "Reserved for Tim O'Brien) and realize the thing that I've known all along: Writing matters more for what I'm trying to do than painting.

Painting:  first and foremost, it's about the inherent qualities of the medium, so any response via painting is based on how the artist responds to paint, not the world and not their own lives. Sure you can start with those latter concerns, but rest assured you're painting in the ghetto.

Writing: First and foremost, it comes from language and, more specifically, the alphabet. The alphabet is structured to tell stories (True). If you assemble those letters into some combinations, you get stories; other combinations will thwart or – if we're being generous – challenge our assumptions about language.

Somehow, somewhere, literature emerged from its modernist rapture (that's a pretty big assertion to put into one sentence, but so be it). Arguably, painting never did. Sure, there are many great examples of successful narrative artists, but often enough, within the dialogue of those artist's practice, narrative is contextualized with concerns for the medium. Do we do this because we really care about the material more than the constructed content, or do we accept that speaking about materiality will put in greater favour with the curatorial powers that be? Take a look at this year's RBC shortlist with that question in mind. Take a look at every year of the RBC comp. with that question in mind.

I guess then what I came out of the writing workshop with is this: Why would I spend so much of my energy and enthusiasm for telling stories in a culture which doesn't trust story telling, or sees it as secondary to materiality? Answer: I wouldn't.


It Ain't Always a Wallow

I should preface this post by saying that I think I'm not supposed to do this. Or more correctly, the shy part of me says "don't do it."

However, what I wanted to poke around is the confluence of War Art and Canada. Like nuts and gum perhaps. While this country has one of the longest and most distinguished histories of the genre, if you operate (or try to operate) in the realm of contemporary art, there is an unspoken... and sometimes spoken sentiment that the only good war art is no war art. Or war art that's overtly critical of war.

So while I'm committed to doing what I do, there is an understanding that while public and commercial galleries are more than happy to offer their viewing audience repeated interpretations of contemporary Cdn. landscape or the intersections of digital and traditional media, very little slack is offered to war art.

I'm well aware that making such statements will incur the wrath of some readers (this, of course, assumes there are readers), but the truth is that being a "war artist" in Canada means you are operating in the ghetto.

Odds are I've typed that before. But on this occasion I wanted to offer that, as per the title, It's not always anonymous wallowing. When I wrote that I'm not supposed to "do this" I don't mean slagging painterly landscape practices, I mean, acting proud of being recognized.

Proud, because yesterday I was awarded a medal for my contributions in documenting and contextualizing Cdn. history. "The Queen's Diamond Jubilee Medal" was awarded to me by the Governor General's office via nomination by The Historica-Dominion Institute. I'm certainly not the only person awarded this. Many Canadians across the country have also been awarded the medal and in some ways what makes it important is that a war art practice is sitting side by side with community activists and medical volunteers.

Odds are I wouldn't have received a medal if The Canadian Forces Artist Program hadn't seen fit to have me as a two-time participant, or if the battalions (3PPCLI, 2RCR) I was embedded with hadn't been so generous with me.

And as to galleries that do give war art a repeated chance, Wil Kucey at LE Gallery has certainly had faith in my practice over the last five years, and both Laura Brandon at The Canadian War Museum and Rory Cory at The Military Museums (in Calgary) continue to show support for my practice. Rail's End Gallery (Haliburton) and YYZ Artists Outlet (Toronto) are next on the exhibition schedule.
When I type it, it doesn't really seem like wallowing... and it ain't.

Nonetheless, it's really great to have my efforts rewarded in ways other than sales, shows and grants.

Thanks to The Queen also!



Zones of Exclusion

I just finished reading Ryan Flavelle's "The Patrol". Over the years I've read any number of military memoirs, as I'm sure Ryan has. Also over the years, they start to meld together (though that might be mostly due to my aging sieve of a  brain). As much as I enjoyed Siegfried Sassoon's "Memoir of an Infantry Officer", the only passage that still stands out is where Sassoon is given a concoction by the MD that solidifies his diarrhea, making his bowels stable enough for open warfare.

But what I wanted to say is this, "The Patrol' stands out for me due to its emphasis on the stratification within military culture. Specifically, how Flavelle fits into the world of the grunt even though he's a lowly signaler (at least he wasn't in the navy).

For a visual artist, author, journalist, poet or any other cultural producer, without some level of acceptance, any military project will have a barrier in its way. And while the same can be said for any socially centred project, the military, the army, the combat arms and the infantry (in that order) are some of the hardest sub-cultures to break into. Like not being born in Prince Edward County or Cape Cod, if you weren't born there, haven't shared suffering, you'll always be an outsider. But then, even if you're a grunt and from a different reg. (Chicken Fucker, Picklie etc.) or come from the reserves (as Flavelle did) there's another barrier that has to be worked away at.

Flavelle's openness with the reader about his desire to be accepted by the "Hard as fuck" guys from 2VP, and more importantly "meet himself" is what gives the book its agency. And for myself, that acceptance hangs around my neck when I'm back with the Battalion as well as in the studio. "Once a Patricia, Always a Patricia" may be true, but it don't mean you can just walk back in the door.

Meeting your true self, the one that only surfaces under the extremes of duress, is a need that asserts itself only in some people. And, amongst many qualities both good and bad, it's one you'll find in soldiers who have chosen combat.


"The War Profession"

Working on demos for my summer drawing course at York tonight. Teaching has taken over my life for a few weeks but I can at least spend time doing quick drawings for the class.
With that in mind, here's a collage featuring the late Tim Hetherington and the eulogy from Sebastian Junger.
If you live in Toronto there's currently an installation of Hetherington's Sleeping Soldiers series on billboards at College and Lansdowne. They are part of the Contact photo festival.

* * *

In a couple of weeks I'm cycling out to Nova Scotia, so all production will grind to a halt. Come July and August though, it's back to full speed.

The fall will be busy with many things including the launch of Heritage House's "Embedded on the Homefront" for which I have an essay as well as the cover. The cover image is below.

As it's May 24 and I'm stuck in the city I'm now gonna head over to Dufferin Grove Park with a beer and Ryan Flavelle's "The Patrol".


Thanks Guys

Just a quick and hearty shout out to The Canada Council who've seen fit to fund this project.
I'm really looking forward to getting some fancy-ass (AKA, not shoe-string) stuff done for RotoZero.



Public Lecture at OCAD

If you find yourself interested and local, I'll be giving a talk about my practice with an emphasis on this project. It's this Friday, April 20th. 2:00-3:00 pm -100 McCaul St., Room 284. C'mon down!


Diversionary Tactics

Two solid days in the studio, new headphones and a painting that requires plenty of concentration (as it turns out AWOLNation are a really good option for this task).
I'm working on a diptych called "Cautionary Tale" but tonight I'm drinking a cheap kingcan and working on some support stuff for a large group show called 60Painters.
This show will be my first chance to exhibit some of the RotoZero paintings so if you're in the GTA between mid-May and early June, consider heading out to Long Branch (Etobicoke).

Also though, here are a couple of quick comicesque drawings from Camps Phoenix and Blackhorse.


It's a Comprehensive Investigation/Stew

Self-doubt, as I've read, is part of being an artist, but so perhaps is going down in flames.

As the paintings get painted, the words get laid out and the photos sorted through I inevitably start to worry about this might turn into a pack rat compilation of modes, styles and mediums, all masquerading as a project

Painting on plywood
Paintings on canvas
Text on gloss paper
Patches and coins
A book.

Those are the elements of RotoZero that need to be assembled into cohesive, narrative exhibitions. Subject matter also changes: Dudes, clouds, caves, tracer fire, mod buildings, hands. Well, yeah, I'm bouncing around. But when I get to worrying I think of Paterson Ewen and Gerhard Richter, not Leon Golub and Jenny Saville. Richter's hop-scotching around the worlds of paint is intended (partially and perhaps) to demonstrate the medium's versatility and he seems to do okay.

The notion of starting something and seeing it through for years or decades has maintained a contradictory place in my practice. When I was in first year of undergrad David MacWilliam came and gave a visiting artist lecture (my first ever) and at the time the dude had been focusing almost exclusively pyramidal and cornucopic shapes. Those early assertions backed up by droning legion of art history slides said "Stick with one thing". My third year painting prof (you know who you are G.P.) gave me the lowest mark in the class (the legally blind woman topped us all) because he thought I wasn't taking the class seriously, jumping around as I was.

My constants have been social themes, not visual cues and while I've made these decisions with eyes open and far apart, I still harbour concerns. But when it comes to themes I feel like I'm hell-bent to stick in the ghetto of fraternity, the aesthetics of violence and utopic desires. In that sense, I'm very much aligned with Golub and (at least the aesthetics of violence) Saville. So let's just call this post therapeutic hand-wringing and end with a few studio shots and mockups of works complete, nearly complete, potentially so and clearly not. You can decide what falls into what.
* * *

Oh shit, here's the other main thing: If you're trying to operate as a "contemporary painter" there's little escaping the dual streams of inquiry. Object and Subject. This is old news perhaps, but my subject (militaria) means that I'm essentially ghettoizing myself,  investigating and committed to a less than widely accepted field of interest. At the same time "contemporary" still means acknowledging the limits/strengths of paint as a medium (Ya know, the Object). And that hobbling/emancipation at the hands of critics and historians is why the project is visually eclectic. Sometimes there's little point in using paint, sometimes painting is too subjective, and sometimes there nothing that could possibly serve the goal at hand other than painting. Again, you can decide what's what.


Tunnel Vision

I've been working on a diptych (i before y I have to remind myself) but had decided before I started to get one close to completion before beginning number 2. This may have been a mistake.

The photo source shows one Afghan soldier, clean cut and with a small smile, while the second soldier has a beard and a sheepish expression. I knew that the clean cut guy was going to be less interesting, but that was fine because the project is partially about boredom. The trick is to make an image whose subject is boring but whose painted content has some sort of passive dynamic.

Close to completion, I moved onto number 2, but a funny thing happened. After 2 sessions and still far from completion, I realized it was almost done. There's nothing really earth-shattering there as paintings reveal themselves as much as they are constructed. Having tunnel vision for some dangerous belief in how you're gonna conclude a painting is always a bad strategy.

There's a part of me that just wants to toss out the almost finished but boring painting and keep only the unexpected and arresting image. If I was just painting for painting's sake: Doing portraits and figures within the broad scope of depicting the human form or even the narrower scope of depicting The Canadian Contribution to the ISAF mission, that'd be fine. However, I have a structured project that requires me to work with "Twins" and so I need both guys, side by side.

No decision has been made yet, but the thing I really wanted to say is it's great to have these unexpected moments that require me to make decisions, play with the tension between the project and the painting and think about how much I'm willing to let the paintings reveal themselves versus how much I want to dictate to them.

In a couple of sentences I'll insert the images but feel compelled to clarify that I'm somewhat embarrassed by the journeyman quality of the "finished" piece. That's balanced out by the awesomeness of the unexpected "Portrait of Satan"*. Maybe I'll start over... maybe in the end I'll have to, but maybe I can come to a place where I balance the currently unresolved tension between these twins. Maybe they both need to be weird in their own ways and when in doubt I'll usually go weird. What the ways will be is the sort of mystery that keeps me slogging away as a painter.

*That title is purely off-hand and is no way meant to imply anything about Afghans or Afghan soldiers.


Letting you in, but not really

Yesterday, painter Keita Morimoto tweeted the following,
""You need to embrace the artifice. Construct everything exactly the way you want it to appear and then hide your tricks."
To which I replied,
"Showing some of your tricks to the viewer lets them feel like they're part of the game, even though they're not."

Keita (besides being one of my favourite local figurative painters) is right, it is all about illusion, but I'm a fan of letting it slip, of that moment when we see behind the curtain – of The Great and Powerful Oz as a charmingly avuncular, but relatively powerless guy. 

As Dave Hickey wrote, (and here I paraphrase) we all know that a painting is an illusion but want to believe in it, we want to believe in illusion because it allows us to believe that the world is not what it actually is.

But as I was educated in the world of Western academically oriented art, the honesty of the process was successfully infused/brainwashed into my psyche. Lord knows I won't be shifting to abstraction any time soon, but (for good or bad) I feel drawn to the importance of "truth in advertising ", of showing the limits of my ability, because if truth be told and humility be tucked away for a moment, my ability is pretty high.

With all of the above in mind, and with thanks to Keita for getting me thinking, here's the preliminary gridding step for my small portrait of CSM Rich Davey – one of my favourite soldiers.


The Bulgarians

The first of the major paintings: Complete.
With the large paintings, the driving visual cues will start from repetition. As I look at this painting online, for the first time I realize that all these stripes make it look a bit like a golf shirt. Or, let's say Rugby shirt... that's easier to live with.

Next up: Afghans in matching tracks tops.

Also, last week (during one of our few wintery days) I gave a talk at The Toronto to School of Art.Thanks to Peter Kingstone for inviting me to talk to his class.

It was my first chance to talk about the project to an audience so while it was fun to discuss my earlier work and how it segues into this project, it was more personally relevant as the act of talking helped me clarify some things.

Specifically, (and though this should be totally obvious to me) only during the talk did I realize that while my earliest military/fraternity paintings were about the contemplative possibilities of violence, this project engages the contemplative possibilities of the boredom that stems from the-lack-of-violence. Well, I knew that, but like so much of my practice, themes and thoughts are often latent and only announce themselves after some gestation time.

Yep, it's all about contemplation. Probably, I think too much but have a crappy short-term memory.


Back to it

Here's a short post with a few quick shots of some of the post-Kabul painting.
I'm pretty stoked to return to figuration and while I should probably wait until the project is further along, here is a little peek.

The top image, The Bulgarians, is still a way off completion (and this is a cropped version) but not as far from completion as one might  surmise.

The 2 portraits are complete. They are the first of a dozen small portraits.

 The Bulgarians

 Capt. Foley

Capt. Peabody


The Yonge/University line vs. Jalalabad Rd.

Thankfully I seldom take the TTC, but on the day I got back I had to hump my 3 backpacks (well, 1 rucksack and 2 backpacks) up to York U to teach a class. Not really enough time to go home, so after having a great breakfast at Aunties and Uncles I took the Streetcar, then the subway, then the bus to York.

Of my time in Kabul, the most potentially exciting events were the roadmoves. Small packets of armoured SUVs darting their way from one camp to another. Each roadmove began with a FragO (fragmentary Order) which would include threat assessments and actions to be taken if we came under fire. The most important thing to do was keep your eyes open. "look out, not in". This is an obvious way to help keep each other alive – by being aware of what is going on around you.

As we drove along, scanning the outside world for one Toyota Corolla that might be acting differently than all the other Corollas we'd also engage in small talk (or sometimes sit in silence), but it always felt like a collective endeavour.

On the TTC however, people look in while concurrently looking nowhere. During rush hour, it's headphones, daily newspapers, blank stares and napping. Essentially, riding Toronto Transit was the direct opposite of navigating Kabul. On a subway car full of people you might as well be alone. In an armoured SUV driving through downtown Afghanistan, the three people around you become, temporarily, your world and your lifeline.

* * *

I've noticed that when people ask me how the trip was, I am reluctant to talk about it. Maybe I'm just being greedy, wanting the experience for myself, at least until I get to produce a body of artwork from it. This reluctance is something that puzzles me and I'm trying to figure out.


Home (or what passes for it)

Outbound legs on the C17: 
7+5+4=16hrs flying time

Inbound legs on the C17: 4+5+3+2+8=22hrs flying time
38hrs flying time total!

It was a haul to get home, that's for sure, but it was a pretty excellent trip back none the less. Highlights include a day in the southwestern Germany town of Trier. Trier with its Roman ruins, bible writing robot, German beer and Struedel; The Kuwaiti desert was sand-blown and overcast but I always enjoy a good, bleak vista; The aircrew were really great as well, letting me sit in the cockpit for one of the legs and chatting about one of mine and the captain's favourite books, "Wind, Sand and Stars."

More importantly though, they took me in a big way, offering me their company for dinner and drink in Germany as well as generally looking out for my welfare when I was just sort of dumped on them without (once again) the proper procedure or documentation.
So a big thanks to CanForce 4082 for getting me home and making the cavernous cargo hold (of which I was the only passenger) feel like a home of sorts.

A small and heartfelt thanks to the service member working the AMU check-in desk at Trenton for offering me a cot to sleep on. Otherwise it would have been an 80$ room for 4 hours of sleep, or the lesser option of crashing outside the Via booth in Trenton Crossing.

Thanks once more to everyone along the way: Canadian, Afghan, Coalition and otherwise who put me up, put up with me and gave me some pretty open access in theatre. The (hopefully) strong project to come from this should make tangible and entry point for those who raise a furrowed brow of mystery at the notion of soldiering.

Production starts...
next week