Curtis “Shell” Shelton had no idea he just sauntered past a crime scene ’til he pulled up his coffee table to scroll a bliggity and click on the six o’clock news. He was right there, in front of the Federal Theater. He swore he saw one of the rabbits that took down the Beasley Downs Racetrack, the biggest, boldest cash heist in the city’s recent history.
Trevor Rabbit, with a duffel bag holding two million dollars in banded stacks of hundreds, approached the theater box office where Diego Iguana sold him a ticket for the horror movie The Hideout. All Diego could recall was a tall rabbit with an athletic build carrying a heavy duffel bag. Trevor entered the movie theater, sat in the front row near the exit, and waited until his pick up arrived in the back alley.
Mother rabbit, Sabrina, and her daughter, Heather, were on their way from the nail salon when they noticed a rabbit leaning against the tequila advertisement on the corner of Federal and West Denver Place. “He was looking at his phone, breathin’ heavy like he’d been running.” Sabrina explained to authorities more than an hour later after the suspect had disappeared.
Officer Frost had been there, too. The first wolf at the scene, he knew that the Beasley Downs Heist had occurred only thirty minutes prior. Frost had the instinct to exit his cruiser and take a look around that area of Federal. But his hunch ran cold when he stepped back into his vehicle to patrol the surrounding neighborhoods, not knowing that the suspect had already entered the movie theater. “I knock myself for not inquiring with the box office attendant. We could’ve had him. I was right there.”
Trevor Rabbit is still at large. Likely reconvened with his partners in crime. Probably fled to the next state. And that is all we know, in a city teeming with wild animals.
The score was going down. Everyone stood in their spot. Race number three had only to start. Every spectator’s eye locked on the greyhound starting box. A rabbit in aviator sunglasses cracks a military-grade red smoke canister under his sweatshirt and drops it hissing at his feet. He walks away. The crowd of gambling animals suddenly erupts in panic.
The Rabbit siblings needed the money. Mama was hurt in a serious car accident when a reckless alligator lost control of his car and slammed into Mama’s Neon on a wet, rainy Interstate 95. The lucky reptile walked away without a scratch, but Mama Rabbit got the worst of it with a broken clavicle, ribs, a perforated lung, and fractured vertebrae from being thrown through the windshield. And that wasn’t all. Her pension from forty years of teaching in Florida public schools wasn’t enough to cover the hospital costs and the insurance company was nothing but the typical runaround.
But Fred, the eldest Rabbit sibling, had a plan. The idea came to him after losing his entire paycheck betting on a miracle for Mama at a dog track called Beasley Downs. Before placing this last losing bet, the door to the racetrack’s money-counting room opened and he spotted two flamingos hunched over a table, counting stacks of cash. It was later, while sitting in his 1971 Challenger, that he made the decision: he would pull a heist. Fred had little to lose and Mama Rabbit was all he had left. Wouldn’t it be poetic to take back from the place that had given him nothing but $100 losing stubs on 50 to 1 long shots?
When he pitched the idea to his little brother, Trevor Rabbit, Mama’s golden boy with a full ride track and field scholarship to the University of Florida, Trevor didn’t hesitate. Trevor had everything to lose, but loved his Mama more than anything in the world. And he would have done anything his big brother asked because he practically raised them when daddy, Lou Rabbit, decided to take that one way trip on the methamphetamine express. Fred, thoughtful brother that he was, conveniently planned the score during Spring Break so Trevor could get back in time for class on Monday.
Jackie, on the other hand, was not eager to do it. Jackie was the female, the reasonable middle sister of the three, and she had just escaped a bad relationship with another good-for-nothing hare when she got the phone call from Fred. All she wanted to do was sit on the couch, eat fried carrot chips, and watch trashy TV. The last thing she wanted to do was play cops n’ robbers with her brothers. But because she didn’t want to see them get killed and it was all for their poor mother, she said screw it.
The idea was basic, but good. After the first two races of the day and everyone had already placed their bets for the third race, Trevor would release a military grade smoke bomb to distract the crowd. Fred and Jackie would stand by the exit door to the betting teller room, tap on the door, and the second someone opened it, they would push in at gun point and rob the money counting room.
After releasing the pop smoke, Trevor was supposed to run to Fred’s ’71 Challenger in the parking lot, bring it around back to the food services loading dock, and wait for his brother and sister to emerge with a black bag full of money.
And so now there they were. A hot, humid Saturday at Beasley Downs. The plan all set. Jackie and Fred, dressed like tourists, standing outside the betting teller room door. Now only race number three had to start. Trevor’s eyes locked on the greyhound’s starting box. Inside his sweatshirt pocket, the cylindrical smoke bomb turned in his sweaty palms. A cold Uzi strapped to his chest.
This painting,Last Defense, is inspired by the visions I’ve seen for the cyberpunk feature film I’ve written, Snow Ghost. It is a combination of scenes, concepts, and sensations that have lingered from the writing process. Because movies are so labor intensive, so expensive to produce, there is no guarantee they will ever be made. A writer is often placed in the tragic circumstances of spending a year or more writing a feature only to have her story languish in her laptop. So Last Defense is my artistic protection against that effort, some small insurance against the oblivion of an abandoned story idea.
Last Defense also represents what I feel to be a showdown against the attackers of art. I like the idea of using art to battle those who are threatened by it. Those who seek to destroy art, undermine it, impede it, and make sure it stays in its proper place are in my crosshairs, that is, those who spend no time in the inception, execution, distribution, exhibition, or consumption of art whatsoever. Those easily offended by violence, language, sexuality, and original ideas are often the same types who want to keep art in its place.
When we actively seek out original works of art, that art will reward us in return. But to find art that speaks to us requires some effort and cost. Many of us are happy being spoon-fed art by the powerful corporate machines that are in place. I speak of the mainstream, the Internet, the television, the movie theater, even the bookstore.
Original art is not often experienced anymore. Consider the the formulaic cinema and music we consume, the name brand clothing we wear, even the ready-made foods we eat. Also, please consider, the last work of original art that you consumed. What creative endeavor did you spend your money on? A music album? A movie ticket? A novel at the bookstore? Or perhaps the holy grail of all art endowment, a painting, print or photograph?
This painting has become my defender against the systems that seek to slow or stop the creation of original art. Ever since moving to Denver, I have come up against forces both real and perceived to limit my creativity and keep me in my proper place, even by those closest to me. And so it is only natural that I fight back.
Art provides its creator with insight into truth. After practicing enough of it, the artist has enough energy for the truth alone. A keen awareness of anything forced or false. The same is true for the consumers of art. People who make an effort to bring original art into their lives will benefit far more than just possessing a pretty picture to hang on the wall. Art is a Last Defense against the forces of evil.
Doughnuts! Recently moving to Denver, Colorado and adapting to a new job and living arrangement, I wanted to create a series of quick and simple paintings. I needed something to take my mind off my all-consuming cyberpunk screenplay, Snow Ghost, and the voices of the twenty seven nine-year-olds in my 3rd grade classroom. I don’t care about making realistic paintings. I just want to have fun filling in lines with bright colors. As acrylic paint is basically liquid plastic, it worked well for the pink frosting and rainbow sprinkles. And these paintings, like a spike of sugar in the middle of the workday, have given me a joyful jolt. Have a doughnut!
Introducing the 2034, Hi-Rider® , the new twin-engine hovership from Luna International, featuring the best in class performance, economics, and safety. With the ability to fly at altitudes up to 10,000 feet at a max cruise of 350 mph, all while consuming a mere 55 gallons of ethanol per hour. The Hi-Rider® is the most efficient twin engine hovership on the planet. When you add safety features such as autothrottle, synthetic vision, and enhanced vision system, 3-D weather rader, and advanced flight controls, one will understand that the Luna Hi-Rider® will forever change the way we look at hovership aircraft.
I was in high school when I watched Hard Boiled for the first time with Jamil Schoener and Michael Landsman. It had the most intense, bloodiest, most beautiful shootouts I had ever seen. I didn’t know what I was getting into, but I have since learned that there is a difference between the action movies from the U.S. and what is offered from China. I would come to find out that this film provided exactly what I was looking for in an action movie: less concern for the moral sensibilities found in the West, and instead, all-out, high-caliber action. Hard Boiled was made in 1992, written and directed by John Woo and starring Chow Yun-fat as “Tequila,” Tony Leung as Tony an undercover cop, and Anthony Wong as Johnny Wong, a leader of the menacing criminal triads who Tequila and Tony must take down. I later found out Quentin Tarantino and the late, great Tony Scott were largely influenced by John Woo’s action films. Shootouts and fight scenes are always carefully choreographed, but with a John Woo movie, the relentless attention to detail and the sheer duration of the scenes, are an enormous feat in organization. Hard Boiled provides a feast of gunplay that leaves the viewer completely satisfied. You may never need to pop in another action movie again. Smooth and slow, yet bright and beautiful as an operatic ballet. Hard Boiled has tense drama, romantic emotion, even spirituality, all mixed with the acid bark of uzis spitting fire, bringing down hundreds of bad guys in glorious, jaw-dropping slow-motion. For just a taste of what Hard Boiled has to offer, watch this teahouse shootout.
And here’s the gorgeous trailer for the film featuring other highlights and the driving track “Motorcade,” by composer Michael Gibbs.