Tigers With Wings

My brother told me to do it.

The rich have the value the poor have the numbers

The Rich from Poetic Revenge

The Rich from “Poetic Revenge” Vietnam by Misha Bittleston

Boat Children - Halong Bay, North Vietnam, photo by Aja Marsh

Boat Children – Vietnam, photo by Aja Marsh

I drew this while traveling in Vietnam. I was trying to understand what the US was doing and why. Was it Capitalism versus Communism, or to spread Democracy to prevent the “domino effect” of Socialism. What really motivated the “longest war”, fought by the richest country in the world with most powerful military, where most of the casualties were women, children and farmers?

In my drawing, the flying puppy at the top is looking down impassively from above the clouds while underneath, clouds turn to flames, and a child who could be mistaken for a plant, fixes us with frightened eyes, which could have something to do with having a head covered with targets. To make a point Hoomi is standing on a pile of something.

When the United States bombed Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia, the planes dropped, over 8 million tons of explosives. This was roughly three times the weight of bombs dropped by all sides in World War Two, and the explosive force was equal to 640 of the atom bombs used on Hiroshima, leaving more than 3 million people dead. (Gibson, 1986, p. 319.)

The American flyers sang songs about their work, in bars and clubs and quarters, after flying. Major Joe Tuso, who flew sixty-nine combat missions in 1968-69, later collected these songs. Many are full of fear. A few, like “Chocolate covered Napalm,” are anti-war. “Strafe the Town and Kill the People” (sung to the tune of Jerry Livingston’s 1955 “Wake the Town and Tell the People”) is full of angry irony:

Strafe the town and kill the people,
Drop your napalm in the square;
Do it early Sunday morning,
Catch them while they’re still at prayer.

Drop some candy to the orphans,
Watch them as they gather ’round:
Use your twenty millimeter,
Mow those little bastards down.

Strafe the town and kill the people,
Drop your high-drag on the school;
If you happen to see ground fire,
Don’t Forget the Golden Rule.

Run your CBU down main street,
Watch it rip off arms and hair;
See them scurry for the clinic,
Put a pod of rockets there.

Find a field of running Charlies,
Drop a daisy-cutter there;
Watch the chunks of bodies flying,
Arms and legs and blood and hair.

See the sweet old pregnant lady
Running cross the field in fear;
Run your twenty mike-mike through her,
Hope the film comes out real clear.

The politicians who ran the American War in Vietnam did not send their children to fight there. About 80 percent of the American soldiers who saw combat came from blue-collar families. The children of the rich did not go. Of the 1200 from the Harvard class of 1970 only a fraction of one percent were sent to Vietnam.
The government and the draft boards protected the sons of the rich. College students were not drafted until they finished their studies. And as the demand for men increased the army began taking people who had failed their intelligence tests. The US intervened in Vietnam on the side of a ruling minority, sending the American GIs, from working class families, to defend the rich against the poor in Vietnam.

War is an instrument of the investor class. Of all enemies to public liberty war should be the most dreaded, because it protects the interests of a few at the expense of many. War develops, as James Madison wrote in 1795, “known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few.”


Empty Word City – talking about words without words

Empty Word City from "82 Dreamscapes" by Misha Bittleston

Empty Word City from “82 Dreamscapes”

Setting words free from their meanings:
voices are warm stretched air textures,
text a tedium of loop lines repositioned.

Like a city where, for a day
everyone spoke and wrote
spontaneous nonsense,
they all just woke up that way
as if nothing had changed.

In the city by late morning
the president is drawing,
without the words of their party,
party lines are line drawings,
with the debate come undone they’re stuck getting stuff done.

By mid afternoon all the lost meaning
that had spilled from all the empty words in the city,
and rinsed the fun out of freedom-
was being replenished,Empty Word City - detail
in scats replied to with scribbles
in faces meeting with motions.

Until someone, overcome
with triumphant realizations
started talking.

Dot Moment Interference – a dot is a moment.

Squished bug on drawing: Dot Moment Interference

this squished bug can be found in the top left corner of the “Dot Moment Interference” drawing it inspired.

In this drawing the dots are dissolving the text. The texture is becoming the words and their meanings which were held by abstract characters, confound the left brain and become visual artifacts, just as I have forgotten what I was writing, the dots overlay the words like moments in time, which is relevant because even though each dot only takes an instant, lots of dots take lots of time.

Each dot is a moment. Like a moment in time each dot is crisp and distinct, but like combined moments the dots together form interference, between waking and sleeping, day and night, attention and distraction we build up textures of time. This interference texture is my visual metaphor for time. What is preserved within the obfuscating mass of sharp points in time is vague images, here or there a late night dance party, summers on the pier, windy adventures along the cliffs, a friendly whale, but can you see the dancing feet, what socks we wore that day, what was on your mind, etc. However sharp each moment is, when combined they seem to cancel one another out, one sharp dot becomes a blur beside all the others. The squished bug is just another dot on the page.

Dot Moment Interference from "82 Dreamscapes" by Misha Bittleston

Dot Moment Interference from “82 Dreamscapes” by Misha Bittleston

When I am drawing on the train, trying to work with lines is limiting, but with dots I can use the movement of the train to build up textures and also use the jolting and rattling of the train to prevent me getting too caught up in fine details and keep my hand moving around the drawing.

The eternal adventures of the patient little robot

The Patient Little Robot from "82 Dreamscapes" by Misha Bittleston

The Patient Little Robot from “82 Dreamscapes” by Misha Bittleston

From star to star, rock to rock, volcano of molten gold to ocean of glistening mercury, and each granule of every sun, a tiny robot traveled all corners of every galaxy in the universe, in search of the most valuable stuff of all. However long it took and however far, to find the one substance that holds the greatest greatness, throughout all space and time is what eventually brought the patient little robot here to our planet earth, in a year not long from now. Frozen deep beneath the ice coating our silent planet the little robot senses the afterglow of the most amazing substance in the all the universe. The little robot leans over as if to kiss a the top of a tree jutting from the melting ice and for the first time, ever so slightly, smiles.

This drawing was started in 2008, it is part of a group of “82 Dreamscapes” that I drew in various busy places around NYC but mostly at the MoMA and the Whitney between 2008 and 2010. Some of them make up “the eternal adventures of the patient little robot (and a quest for a smile).” This is the first of the 82 drawings and the first time I have shared any of them.

One day while I was drawing in a crowded subway a woman who had been sitting near me and watching me, came over when the train stopped and said “those are dreamscapes you are makin’ ain’t they!” the doors closed behind her.

Treasure travels fast or stuck fast…

Treasure Travels by Misha Bittleston from Poetic Revenge - page 1

“Treasure Travels” from Poetic Revenge by Misha Bittleston

I did this drawing on the bus between Vietnam and Cambodia. There were little kids selling pineapple and one started crying. I was thinking about how wealth travels, either very fast or not at all. Then of how we are almost incapable of dreaming or hoping without using economics, that being truly happy always seems to come down to buying happiness.

treasure travels fast
or stuck fast,
lightfast in the dark.
no one buys
the pineapple that cries,
no one can buy happy,
but everyone tries.

Pictures from the Vietnam adventure!
Page through Misha Bittleston’s Poetic Revenge