The Mills Family

Here are some people I used to know.
They're missionaries, of all things.
British ones, at that.
Yeah, I know.
What the hell are they doing in your blog, Chris?
I don't know, man.

Well, David Mills and I were best pals for about a year in 1980. Partners in crime and me a protege to debauchery - I never felt so innocent standing there at the precipice to adulthood and gazing out over a world of experiences both exhilarating and tragic. I know I'll never feel anything like the excitement of those moments again but if reflecting on some my adventures with David will get me a taste... well, then, I'll take it... between jobs or between lifetimes.

Profile Default


Here's a design, a square composition, that I altered today to represent or advertise the blog - this blog. It'll be the MySpace default profile image for a while, the one for the black page which is now actually brown. The fine people over at MySpace Central have installed a profile customization menu, you see, so I went ahead and chose one of their selections (one called, "grunge") and then took all the square compositions offa there since they're all slowly beginning to show up here anyway, and put up some old high-school-girl-love-letters instead. Guaranteed to amuse you and embarrass me!

Frankly, this blog is a whole lot more interesting than that page anyhow so I am trying to entice the MySpace people over here with, apparently, post-turn-of-the-century-constructivist-totalitarian imagery ('cause it never fails - no sir!). And anyway, this is much more accessible, particularly to people who are not interested in being, as Kevin Belford puts it, MySpace Cadets... yeah, I think that's really funny and I cannot fault him his feelings on the subject. MySpace has gotten to be kind of a pain in the ass, what with the pop-ups that are emerging lately with greater frequency and all the stupid captchas and passwords and bullshit that, when added up, are just plain sucking away too much of my life with too little return on the back end. Suffice to say, I'm not addicted anymore. I like this now. It's funner.

(Hey! Spellcheck didn't flag "funner". Is "funner" a word? I didn't think it was.)

Raw Serial Drawings


Remember how I was saying that the last set of serial imagery I posted began life as india ink drawings on watercolor paper? Well I found five more of them in an unmarked envelope today. Good ones, too. So good, in fact, that I figured I'd just leave them alone this time. No Illustrator, no clean-up. Just the raw scans.

I remember doing these sometime during the summer of 2006.


Denver Botanica


That band Languid, St. Louis' answer to the Partridge Family, went to Denver to record their first album and I, for some unknown reason, came along. I think I thought it was gonna be fun and that I'd have so much to do as band photographer. Well, it was a pretty dismal week of broken cameras and broken promises but there was a cool, little botanica down the street from the recording studio, so I took pictures of that.

More Kitsch Noir


Not short of this kind of thing today and here are five more kitsch noir graphics for your amusement and edification. Archival quality prints are available at discounted prices through the holidays.
Please feel welcome to contact me regarding all purchases at gustavedesigns@gmail.com.
Or, if you aren't into the email thing, feel free to lick the street.


Kitsch Noir


Not only do these two Square Compositions distinguish themselves as being so dark you almost can't even tell what they are, but they also both fall into the category I just made up called kitsch noir. Yes, kitsch noir. Say it three times fast. Oh, wait... that's not really all that hard to do. Whatever. I just think it's great to live in a country where I can put a German word next to a French word and call it an English phrase. God bless America! Kitsch noir forever!

Anyway, you get what it is, right? It's that sort of imagery that kinda goes hand in hand with pulp novels and detective magazines and all that stuff... you know: second-rate-Raymond-Chandler-Dashiel-Hammett-James-Cain-knock-off-low-brow-trash-culture and all that crap that Betty-Page-retro-hot-chicks and swing-music-revivalists insist is cool. I'm not, I'll confess, completely sold on their whole way of thinking but I'm also not too proud to fuck with their aesthetic either. That's just me. I have no respect for other people's beliefs unless they are giving me free money or food or drugs or booze or entertaining me in some way that I'm not already bored with (and even then I'm not reliable).

San Francisco Random Images


These'll be from around 1995, mostly around Japantown, I think.

You're So Great

This is strange. I thought this was just gonna be a Blur video. I'm not sure if this looks like this on purpose or by accedent or what, but it's great editing if you ask me. And concise.

Party Damage


I guess Mike Freeman and some other dude were messing around karate-style or something and suddenly Mike comes flying across the room and crashes into this two-tier, kidney-shaped, glass coffee table which, naturally, broke... a lot.

For a moment Mike just lay there all dizzy-dazey... then blood started coming out of his arm by the pint. I could be exaggerating a little, but it did turn out to be a heavy-flow day for him. Still, everyone managed to keep it together, more or less. Kris kept pressure on the wound and I called for an ambulance. Mike eventually got stitched up at that hospital on Grand and ended up walking home (by choice) while we talked on the phone. He's pretty much fine 'cause, you know, Mike's resilient, a survivor, a badass.

Check it out:

"Nailed Seraphim" by K. Curtis Lyle


So, the Poetry Scores Art Invitational went really well on Friday night. The whole thing came off without a hitch, it seemed. The show was actually a lot better than I expected and I had all kindsa fun yakkin' with old friends and making a few new ones. I may have been a little mouthier and less dignified than I would've liked but, eh, I'll sweat that in the afterlife.

The deal was this, for those who don't know: every year a poem is selected by Chris King's Poetry Scores committee (I think) and then a roster of visual artists are invited to select chunks or lines from the poem and illustrate or interpret them in the medium of their choice. Neat, huh? And then the show is hung in sequence according to where the artist's chosen selection appears and it all makes for a very interesting room, ultimately.

Also, the inspirational work is performed aloud by the author, with musical accompaniment, and that is all very beatnik and cool. Here are some pictures of Mr. Lyle doing his thing...

Nailed Seraphim

Spirit Catching: “What the astrologers don’t realize man, is that, in the Age of Aquarius, Scorpio is on the mid heaven.”
- conversation between myself and the Raspoet Ojenke

Spirit Catching: “You don’t know what you can do!”
- John Voigt as Oscar Mannheim
in Akira Kurasowa’s

Spirit Catching: “Say man, what happened to Lamonte?
- "Lamonte, man, Lamonte been gone five weeks. You just missed him?"
- "Whatever, man. The brother ain't here. What happened to him?"
- "Nigguh caught on fire, man. We had to put him out!”
- Conversation overheard in the mailroom at Schnuck's Corporate headquarters

1. Descent From The Stars

The first step was the hardest
Like the first word of a poem
The pen scratching uncertainly
But indelibly, across the paper stairs
Of the babbling tower

The first step was the hardest
The heaviest
But, he didn’t stumble

The second and third steps produced
A tumbling sensation

From here to there was eighty six flights
Of defiance
Of the laws of gravity
speeds of light
quantum mechanics
quantum physics

He didn’t know shit from Shinola
But, the exalted alliance of his mind and his heart
Grasped hands exceeding his reach
Waist bent
Thighs stretched
Knees extended
The end of each nerve in his being
Sent the same long Fats Waller – Stepin’ Fetchit song
Screaming back to his brain
‘Feet don’t fail me now’!

2. The Arrival At Ground Zero

Spirit Catching: ‘home is where the hatred is
and it might not be
such a bad idea
if I never went home again’
- Gil Scott Heron

At first he was welcomed;
Home is the hunter;
Home is the hero

Home is the man who looked upon death
The demonic, the unspeakable horror
Of the reversed god joke

Here is the carrier of the new word
Raised magnificently
Against those who would enter the exalted crucible
In shroud
Soak themselves in camphor, swallow marigolds,
Wash dead flowers down with embalming fluid
And chant the song of the scorpion
From the mid heaven
Of the Age of Aquarius

Here is the man who is whole;
Who is one, distilled, refined, synthesized
And nailed to solar essence

Like Lord Krishna
With a fragment of himself
And remained

3. The Old Commentary or S. O. S. (same old shit)

After the bouquets
After the plaudits
After the elegies
After the eulogies
After being swept up
Paraded, feted, clothed, fed
And fucked

After his mama was promoted
After his daddy was hydraulically raised and paid-off
With the inscribed misnomer ‘disabled for life’

After he saw his brothers and sisters,
Aunts and uncles,
Cousins, near cousins, fake cousins
And straight up gangster-pimp cousins
All enshrined in a mythic black heroic pantheon

After the rain
The shit hit the fan

First question:
How did Mortice Juwan Menifee manage
To run down eighty six flights of stairs
In less than seven minutes (six minutes and two seconds)
And escape the collapse of tower number one
Of the World Trade Center?

Second question:
How was it that nobody above the fiftieth floor
Survived, but him?

Third question: Was he really on the eighty sixth floor?

Fourth question: Who the fuck is Mortice Juwan Menifee?

4. The Interrogation

Spirit Catching: ‘Beware of the good pilgrim
He will not kill you
But, he will ruin your reputation
- Marcus Garvey

The Washington Toast got it first. Crack investigative reporters Bobby Woodchuck and Larry Burnside scooped the New York Rhymes
With this headline:
‘Lone Survivor of Upper Tower Revealed to Have Checkered Past’
Mortice Juwan Menifee, the lone survivor of the upper floors of
Tower Number One of The World Trade Center, has a record of minor convictions in his past. It was revealed that Mr. Menifee had been arrested in high school for possession of less than a gram of marijuana. Although Mr. Menifee performed three hundred hours of community service and under a plea agreement his record was expunged, this crack in the so-called hero of Tower Number One’s armor might lead to the discovery of more significant problems in his past.

Next came a black reporter from S. A. N. N. (The Sorry Ass News Network)
Smiley Travis, who had somehow tracked down and then gotten and old girl friend of Mortice’s to talk about the time he had thrown a McDonald’s wrapper in her face at a drunken post prom party. Somehow Kadrisha had translated this incident into sexual abuse and aggravated battery, based on the fact (according to her) that Mortice had no shirt on at the time and the McDonald’s wrapper had some hot melted cheese on it ….. or ‘sumpin’ (her words). She was also suing Mortice for thirty two million dollars based on his projected earnings over the next twenty years from public speaking honoraria, books, films, land purchases, etc., etc., etc.

A week later NATA (not accountable to anyone) Dayline broadcast a special entitled, Mortice Juwan Menifee, SINNER OR SAINT? NATA now revealed what their deeper investigation had recovered. Mortice’s great great uncle, Dutro Menifee, had purportedly killed a white man in Mississippi in the 1920’sover a gambling debt. Dutro had escaped to Mexico and then made his way to Guatemala. He had lived there for twelve years in relative peace and obscurity before being accused of killing another man in a dispute over money and a woman. From Guatemala he had fled to honduras and then late in the summer of 1941 was accused of selling diseased cattle to Texas ranchers. He was jailed briefly, but escaped again, with the help of two Nicaraguan women who claimed he was their protector, i. e. , pimp. They got to the north coast of Nicaragua where Dutro stole a fishing boat and set sail for Cuba. According to this ‘deep’ investigation, he stayed in Cuba during the forties and fifties and became moderately wealthy running a small Havana casino for some American gangsters until the Cuban revolution came to power. Dutro had sold out the gangsters, backed Fidel Castro, and become a financial advisor to Che Gueveara during his short sdtint as head of Cuba’s National Bank.

In the mid to late sixties Dutro met and married a beautiful Spanish woman who had come to Cuba to join the Revolution. They had four children together; the last, a girl named Josephina was born on Dutro’s seventy eighth birthday, January, 2nd, 1979. He died in his bed, with his boots on, on his 100th birthday, January, 2nd, 2000: forty one years and one day after the triumph of the revolution.

Here are the implications of this information:
Mortice Juwan Menifee was a dope smoking, woman abusing drunk, who was descended – peripherally- from a gambling, murdering, Mississippi pimp cum Cuban Communist revolutionary (by proxy), who probably raped a beautiful but confused white woman and made four half-breed babies. To top this off , he had the nerve to die in his bed with his boots on, on his one hundredth birthday like some crazed nigguh Zen Buddhist priest. Now America, What do you think of this? Is this the man you want lighting the torch at the Winter Olympics? Is this the hero whose photo-shopped picture you want on the front of a Wheaties Box. Is the dawg you want to send to Disneyland?

5. The End

Spirit Catching: At the end of the story
You’ll find it all been told
- Earl Grant

Mortice Juwan Menifee was an accountant
Who took his job seriously
But, on September 11, 2001, he forgot to count
He did not compute or crunch numbers that day
He ran and he jumped and he bolted
Revolted against his formal calling
And instead of falling
Instead of choosing air over fire
Or fire over air
He caught on fire
Not physically , but psychically or energetically
He penetrated some kind of center
Or spiritual vortex
He dialed up some impeccable code
Some blacked out strategic safety valve
That allowed him to evolve, for a moment,
Down some mythic magnetic corridor
Some rear window in a parallel universe
That occupied the same space and time
As the transcendent crime taking place

In the midst of total in sanity
He remained divinely sane
And came down eighty six flights of stairs

But, the facts, of course, belied this explanation
The nation revolted against the exception
And Motice Juwan Menifee was set up for execution
By media, by photo journal,
By external and internal pressure
By gossip
By isolation
By the inability of those who live highest
On the tree of life, the Christ-like exalted flowers and leaves,
The seraphim
To retrieve their exposed beings or protect themselves
From the relative hurricane of humanity

The Mayor, recently transfigured from a right wing racist
Republican jerk, to a moral paragon and transcendent communtiy
Leader, demanded that Mortice give all the flowers back
And admit publicly that all the plaudits, clothes, parades,
Were undeserved, and that Mortice make arrangements
To financially re-imburse the city
The Mayor even threatened to charge Mortice
With statutory rape
After all he was descended from a Communist rapist
One of the young girls who had come to his suite
At the Waldorf, in the sweet days
Now said she was only seventeen

So Mortice wilted under the pressure
He was an accountant not a warrior
They ruined his reputation and that was all he had

The dirty looks on the subway
The epithets in the neighborhood
The cousins who once basked in his glory
Were all gone

Mortice was alone
Not with the letter
But, finally, with the spirit of the law

He was Mortice Juwan Menifee, accountant
Not Job, not Elijah, not Isaiah, not John, certainly not Jesus

His mama turned on him, wordlessly
His daddy had to go back to work
The pump in his chest gave out massively

6. The House of God Is Also A Black Hole

Those who experience the created thing
Must also experience the uncreation

Mortice caught on fire
And got completely fulfilled
He came back home
And got completely cancelled

It was sort of like training for twenty years
To climb Mount Everest

Your time comes
You make the ascent
You court that impeccable calling
You come back home
You get run down in the street and killed
While jay walking

7. God Is Anything But Merciful

The moral of this story is
If you catch on fire
They will put you out!

Blanket Statement


or at least it feels that way sometimes.

Jon Armstrong


I always particularly liked this shot.
Jon Armstrong was, when I took this, the guitar player for this great St. Louis-based band called Colony who, in their day, did very well. Nowadays, Jon plays for a group called Models Need Sleep.He's still a valued friend and a really descent, if somewhat complex, fella... very much my kinda guy and a talented geneticist to boot!



These are actually a series of digital images shot from the passenger's side window of a moving car with the camera aimed more or less at the street curb resulting in several smeared abstracts somewhat reminiscent of traditional landscapes.

Mid-Air Pick-Up

Some girl I never met nor spoke to slipped this to me on a flight from Los Angeles to Phoenix. Isn't that nice?

No, I never called her.

The Red Cross

Here's a pamphlet I picked up when I was a Red Cross volunteer for the Bay Area Chapter in San Francisco. I was designing annual reports and press releases and lobby displays, etc. for the public affairs department there, so this was crucial information for me, I guess. Of course, I appropriate the Red Cross for my own work pretty frequently so for me this is still salient stuff.

So, basically, I'm fucked.


I Like Chris Because...

I found these in an envelope with a Christmas tree on it. I have to guess that they are part of a sweet, little holiday project from 8th grade, maybe 7th. I don't actually remember this, but I think it's pretty clear that each kid in the class had to fill in a reason why they appreciated each of their classmates. I think it's a pretty good idea, actually, but probably incredibly difficult for a bunch of 11- or 12-year-old kids. Children of that age, if memory serves, are not particularly prone to compliment or flattery so getting us to say nice things about each other was, I'm sure, like pulling teeth. Consequently, my redeeming attributes are few but at least I was able to rest easy knowing I was, "...just like John Travolta". (?)

I'm Not a Praying Man

But I don't too much mind axing you all to send some happy, healing-type thoughts to our supercool friend, Mike Freeman, as he endures his short stay in the ER for injuries sustained during misadventure this evening. He deserves your very best.



A Sort of Language, Perhaps


I vaguely remember making these little things like, oh, 16 years or so ago. They're just design marker on little 2-inch-square bits of paper. I remember wanting to make the greatest variety of the simplest original forms possible. I also remember thinking I had not at all succeeded and looking at these now, I get my disappointment. Trying to create an original alphabet is a tough row to hoe. You want something that writes quickly, reads quickly and corresponds to both a sound and a meaning... and it has to be symbols that have never been used before. I don't know, maybe I gave up too quickly, but tell me that's not a difficult proposition. (of course, that's pretty much the fundamentals of logo design, isn't it?)

On the upside, I had the good sense to make them all pretty colors and so they all look very nice laid out like this. But it should be understood, then, that this is just decorative art, despite any lofty intentions.

And it seems I found some more...

Next Blog

Ever hit the Next Blog>> button at the top of the screen, there? It's freaky. It just sends you to any random blog and I don't need to tell you there are a shitload of 'em out there. I visited, say, 60 or 70 of them just now and, I don't know, man. Humanity sort of just confuses me. I know that sounds a little disparaging or condescending or whatever and I'm sorry for that but, who knows, maybe you're with me a little bit on this.

People are strange.