Saturday, December 31, 2011

Saturday Is For Art: Exploding Flag in Progress

This latest piece is on wood and it is my design. The piece is a work in progress, but I thought as it is the last day of 2011, I would post the piece of art I am now working on.

Wishing everyone that comes to my blog a Healthy and Happy New Year in 2012.

Take care and be well.

Exploding Flag by F.D. Zigler, acrylics on wood.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas 2011

And, A Happy New Year.

Mother & Child by F.D. Zigler, linoleum block print, 1996.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

SKI CINCINNati Apparel Time Is HERE!

Ski Cincinnati apparel is available at the following stores and gift shops, but call first to make sure they have the items and sizes you need.

Cincinnati Museum Center gift shop in Union Terminal, the old train station in downtown Cincinnati.

The Contemporary Arts Center gift shop on the corner of 6th & Walnut Streets in downtown Cincinnati. Also see their web store.

The Aquarius Star Cafe at 329 Ludlow Avenue in Clifton business district.

Benchmark Outfitters at 9525 Kenwood Road in Blue Ash.

The Joseph Beth Bookstore in Rookwood Plaza off Edwards & Madison Roads.

The Cincinnati Art Museum gift Shop in Eden Park.

Friday, December 23, 2011

New Work & Wood Icon Update

Started another project the other day as the weather was very nice and I was able to run my table saw and makes some cuts. This wood piece is at the white stage and is painted with a coat of latex primer and a coat of gesso. In the next stage, I start putting on paint. This new piece I am calling Exploding Flag. I will have to see if it lives up to its name. Below is the Wood Icon Project which is still a work in progress, not nearly finished, but just an update. Here are a few photos reviewing the stages of progress.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Where Greedy SOBs Need to Go!

I watched 60 MINUTES last night after the football game. There was a segment about houses that are being torn down in Cleveland, and what they are doing in Cleveland about trying to save neighborhoods from falling apart because of the financial crisis and the recession.

Earlier in the day, I watched THIS WEEK, and listened to George Will speak about the housing crisis. I try to like George Will. He is an intelligent person and while I don't always agree with his conservative positions on various topics, I usually think he has at least his facts straight. Sunday, George Will in my opinion did not know WTF he was talking about when he spoke about housing and why there were so many foreclosures.

Now, I am going to relate a personal story that happened to me almost 42 years ago when I went to get a mortgage on my first house in June 1970. I walked into Central Trust Bank at the corner of 4th and Vine Streets, their main office, and asked where I could apply for a home loan. I was instructed to walk through several sliding glass doors until I got to the mortgage department. A man at a desk asked if he could help me and I told him that I wanted to apply for a mortgage. He asked me where the house was located, and I told him Clifton. He then said to me, "north or south of Ludlow (Avenue)?" I said north of Ludlow Avenue, and he said have a seat.

The reason why the Federal Government got into the mortgage business in the first place is because people of color and other ethnic backgrounds were being denied home loans based on where they had to live or the color of their skin. You see, to fully understand why the government got involved in situations years ago, you must understand the history. Newt Gingrich is a big history buff, but he comes from Georgia where they make up their history to suit the situation.

Have you ever heard of REDLINING? Redlining can be defined as when financial institutions refuse to make loans in areas of a city that have people that don't look like the people running the bank. In other words, credit rating had little if anything to do with why the mortgage was not approved, and the lending institution did not have to say why they refused to give the loan. But, what caused this housing crisis, I have written about for the last several years, but you will not hear this explanation on TV because it is too complicated for the mass viewing audience to listen to.

The 3 large credit rating agencies permitted the housing bubble and fueled the financial crisis. Banks made mortgage loans and were able to sell these loans where they were bundled and broken up and sold as mortgage-backed bonds. These mortgage-backed bonds were sold to pension funds, endowments, foundations, large institutions, money mangers and investors around the world. The key to inflating the housing bubble was the TRIPLE-A ratings that the investment bankers were able to secure from the credit rating agencies. With the TRIPLE-A rating in hand, the bond salespeople were able to sell these mortgage-backed bonds around the world. The key element to keep this charade going was the originators of mortgages. With Wall Street investment bankers able to sell mortgage-backed bonds anywhere in the world with a TRIPLE-A rating, the table was set for greed to fill every plate. Wall Street packaged the mortgages regardless of quality because they knew that the credit rating agencies' growth in EPS was coming from the rating of mortgage-backed bonds. Eventually, these mortgage-backed bonds became suspect and the beginning of the end of the bubble was in sight when credit default swaps came on the scene.

So, don't be so quick to blame people for making liar loans if the originators were pushing people to buy homes they knew they could not afford. Regulations need to be put in place to discourage greed. Jail is where these greedy SOB need to go.

Stay tuned.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Wood Icon Project: Progress Report

I have been dividing my time between picking up and delivering Ski Cincinnati apparel and working on my wood icon project. I have now painted the primer coat and the red oxide onto the frame. The center panel has received a coat of gesso. The frame has been painted with Golden's acrylic gold liquid paint. There is more to be done with the frame after the center panel is finished. The drawing for the center panel is not complete as I have more to add. But, since this Saturday and Saturday is for Art, I thought I would post another progress report. What else does an old artist have to do?

Have a safe and great weekend.

Mother & Child in Tabernacle Frame by F.D. Zigler, 25" x 25" x 3" wood and acrylic paint, 2011.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

A Progress Report: Wood Icon Project

This is a progress report on the wood icon project. This is a much smaller piece than The Altarpiece I constructed earlier this year. Actually, it feels like I made the piece last year, as I started it last winter. When it came time to enter the piece in The Golden Ticket Art Show at the Clifton Cultural Arts Center, I was told it was too big. There was a weight limit of 20 pounds and a square footage limit of 9 square feet. Whether The Altarpiece was rejected because it weighed too much, or, the judges did not think it was worthy of being accepted, I really don't know. So, the piece I am working on now is within the 9 square feet limit and weighs much less than 20 pounds. If they reduce the weight limit, I will just drill holes in the back and remove the excess weigh that way. This wood icon may be rejected, but it will definitely be within the legal limits of the exhibit. The wood structure is now covered in white primer paint. My next step is to give it a coat or two of gesso. Then the undercoat of red followed by the acrylic gold. After the wood structure is nearly completed, I will then paint the center panel. After the center panel is completed, it will be time to detail the wood frame. I have to confess that as I get to the end of a project that I am enjoying, I slow down. It is like getting to the end of a good book and you know there are only a few pages left and you wish it would not end so soon.

Wood Icon Project by F.D. Zigler, 25" x 25" x 3", wood and primer (work in progress)

This post is sponsored by Ski Cincinnati apparel which makes nice inexpensive gifts for all holidays year round.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Saturday Is For Art: A Wood Piece In Progress

Here is a wood piece that I am working on and is in progress. If I get some nice weather Sunday I might be able to get a lot done. I don't know what it is going to look like until it is finished as I have no drawings and I am just doing it as I go. Try something and see how it looks, then glue and nail, and then move on to the next step is how I work.

The MacKenzie-Child Flag is also a work in progress and it may change quite a bit from the way it appears now. I posted an earlier photo of this piece last week, so it has changed a little.

Have a safe weekend.

This post is sponsored by SKI CINCINNATI apparel. SKI CINCINNATI t-shirts, long sleeve t-shirts and hooded sweatshirts "hoodies", baseball caps and coffee mugs can be found at Aquarius Star Cafe in Clifton on Ludlow; BENCHMARK OUTFITTERS in Blue Ash; Cincinnati Art Museum gift shop in Eden Park, Cincinnati Museum Center at Union Terminal, Contemporary Arts Center at 6th & Walnut Sts. and Joseph-Beth Bookstore in Rookwood Pavilion. These quality items make great gifts for the holidays!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Saturday Is For Art: A New Flag

This piece is my latest work and it is a work in progress like me. Can anyone guess what designer inspired this piece? I got the idea for the painting during Thanksgiving, and thought I would give it a try. Who knows perhaps someone will like it. I will continue to paint next week. If the weather gets into the high 50s today, I hope to hook up my table saw and work on a wood icon for next year's Golden Ticket art show. I have scrounged some pieces of wood from my favorite lumberyard, and will get sawing later in the afternoon. I hope everyone has a nice and safe weekend.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

A Little Splash of Colors

This is a photo I took in San Francisco in September 2009. Someday I might try to paint this photo, but for now I have other ideas that I would rather give a shot. Don't forget about my SKI CINCINNATI t-shirts and hoodies that are for sale around Cincinnati as they make nice inexpensive gifts for young and old. Check out my earlier posts where SKI CINCINNATI apparel can be purchased. Also, if you are interested in buying a piece of original art, there is the Collector's Art Group gallery at 225 East 6th Street in downtown Cincinnati on the 2nd floor. I have a few small pieces hanging up down there.

Have a safe and enjoyable weekend.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Occupy Wall Street Is A Cry For Help & Not Much More

To say that I am not happy with what passes as political debate in our country is an understatement. Each of us that does not have the millions of dollars to throw at our politicians to get the tax breaks like the upper one tenth of one percent, are feeling pretty helpless. Yes, we can vote, but what are our choices?

Even President Obama knows that he needs money from the big givers to win re-election, and that means Wall Street money is a must to win. So, given that even the most liberal man in the race takes huge contributions from Wall Street bankers, where does this leave the rest of us? Occupying Wall Street is a cry for help and nothing much more. People with no money can't bring about change when corporate money can drown out any appeal to fairness like in the level playing field.

So, what do we do? I am going to vote for Obama again even though I know I am not happy with his willingness to cater to the fat cats on Wall Street and the money they contribute to his re-election.

Perhaps after the GOP loses in 2012, the country can get moving again. Their platform is beat Obama in 2012 and make him a one term president. What kind of platform is that? Well, it isn't going to happen! The GOP does not have a candidate that can beat Obama now or in November 2012. What the GOP has displayed in the many TV debates is a party that is dysfunctional. And, it is my opinion that their many debates have only shown just how dysfunctional the GOP today is.

Change does not come about easily because those that pay for the tune don't give up their place in line when favorable treatment is handed out. Personally, I would like to see financial reform happen and be enforced, but with Wall Street paying for the tune, those changes are not going to happen right away.

Stay tuned.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

3 Paintings For Sale By F.D. Zigler

I have 3 new paintings for sale at Collector's Art Group, 225 East 6th Street, Cincinnati, OH on the 2nd floor. They are in acrylic on canvas board and were painted in 2011. These pieces are rather small in size. They will be in the Holiday Art Show.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving 2011

I just want to wish everyone a safe and Happy Thanksgiving. This has been a difficult year for many Americans. The sad part of this difficult year is that the difficulties they have faced in some cases came at no fault of their own. Yes, they were victims of a system that in essence cut their legs out from under them. Not all of us are smart and wealthy, some of us just have a job and try to keep a roof over our head and food on the kitchen table for our families. So this year, when you sit down to your Thanksgiving feast, take a second to remember that there are many less fortunate and that the playing field in this country is less than level for many that don't have the smarts to rise above and become part of the one percent or even the top two percent. For those greedy bastards that caused the financial crisis and walked away untouched and unmoved, I hope you choke.

Stay tuned.

Sunflowers in Vase by F.D. Zigler, Great American Artist, now on sale at Collector's Art Group along with others great paintings by F.D. Zigler.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Europe's Problems Are More Than Europe's Problem

I wish I could offer something positive about the events unfolding in Europe and here in the United States as it pertains to governments dealing with their debts. I am not going to pretend to know a lot about what is happening in Europe, but it is quite obvious that getting one country, Greece, to do what is right by other European countries is not so easy and may not happen. Who should get the blame for Greece's problems? The people? The politicians? Goldman Sachs and the politicians that put them in the situation they find themselves? The bigger problem is that Greece's problems are now Europe's problem, and Europe's problems are our problem in the United States because all of our economies are connected. Forget for a moment that our Congress can't agree on how to trim the deficit and reduce the debt. Europe's problems are more than Europe's problem.

Stay Tuned.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Saturday Is For Art: A New Butterfly & Old Butterfly

This little butterfly (top) came out of playing with a few different shapes for a Butterfly Flag. The original idea and design goes back to the mid 1990s when I made and gave a paper sculpture of the butterfly flag for a fund raiser at the Carnegie Arts Center. I even put one on a t-shirt. I wore my butterfly design t-shirt and I still do, but I guess not too many men would wear a butterfly on the front of their t-shirt. One of my favorite books is titled Papillon and was even made into a movie in 1973. Steve McQueen played the part of Henri Charriere, who at the age of 17 was convicted of murder in France and sent to the French Penal Colony known as Devil's Island. Charriere got the nickname Papillon because of the butterfly tattoo on his chest. Since his death in 1973, there has been much debate about whether all of the escape attempts were by Charriere or were stories he heard while on Devil's Island. Either way, the butterfly represents to me freedom, just as a butterfly is free to travel. The Monarch butterfly migrates between Mexico and the United States without a green card or passport, but please do not infer that I support illegal immigration. As the grandson of four Russian Jewish grandparents, I feel very fortunate to have been born here, and with my passport and a few dollars I can leave and come back like the Monarch butterfly.

Everyone have a nice and safe weekend, and visit an art museum.

Top: Butterfly Flag by F.D. Zigler, acrylic on carboard, 2011.
Bottom: Butterfly Flag on t-shirt by F.D. Zigler, mid 1990s.

Monday, November 14, 2011

The War On Terror Is Unconventional Warfare

Almost 50 years ago I studied American Diplomatic History at the University of Cincinnati. And, right after I graduated in 1964, President Johnson, after his election in November, 1964, took the war in Vietnam to a new level. Before January 1965, the troops in Vietnam were called advisers. I was in basic training when word came out that President Johnson was going to send the 157Th Airborne Brigade to Vietnam as a combat unit. Then U.S. Army sent the 1st Cavalry as an air-mobile division and the bigger war was on. I remember that I read anything I could get my hands on about the fighting in Vietnam and guerrilla warfare. There were even a few books that came out about fighting in Vietnam in the mid 1960s, and I read those too. A lot of good men died fighting in Vietnam and to this day I don't believe our fighting there had anything to do with the National Security of the United States. There were scholars on the history of Vietnam that said the Vietnamese in the North hated the Chinese probably more than they hated the Americans, but our government went ahead and committed men and money at a perceived problem that in reality never existed. I know those are pretty harsh words to say. In 1964, I thought that we could win in Vietnam. I even volunteered to serve there, but the army in their infinite wisdom sent me to Korea.

Today the world is fighting a very different kind of threat. It is not a war in the conventional sense where two great armies meet on a battlefield. The world is the battlefield and their are no great armies. The new "war" is terror, and that is going to be the most difficult kind of war to fight. If we stop terrorist attacks 99 times, but fail to stop them on the 100th time, we lose. This is a type of war that is going to require the very best we have. Foreign aid and building relationships is just a piece of the puzzle to keep us safe. We will win the war on terror by being smarter, not by being louder.

Stay tuned.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Ski Cincinnati Apparel Time Is HERE!!!!

Holiday shoppers:

Ski Cincinnati apparel is back for the winter and ski season!

Aquarius Star Cafe on Ludlow Avenue, Clifton Business District across from Graeter's

Benchmark Outfitter on 9525 Kenwood Rd. in Blue Ash, OH

Cincinnati Museum Center gift shop at Union Terminal in Cincinnati

Contemporary Arts Center gift shop at 6th & Walnut Sts. in Cincinnati

Joseph-Beth Bookstore in the Rookwood Pavilion off Edwards Rd at 2692 Madison Rd in Cincinnati

We thank you for your support of our products.

Fred Zigler,
Creative Director of Ski Cincinnati

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Saturday Is For Art: 3 Paintings By Simeon Zigler

I don't remember whether I posted these three watercolor paintings before, but if I have, they are worth seeing again. It is nice that I can use my father's art work to cover for me when I don't have any of my own new artwork to post. I don't think my father would mind sharing my blog with me. While I am not as accomplished a painter as he was, I nevertheless put an honest effort to create a piece that might cause people to stop, consider and think about what moved me to paint that picture. As someone who has enjoyed studying history, I have always been interested in the ways we express ourselves outside of the written word. Art and music are just two forms that come to mind that speaks to the human condition without using a spoken language.

Everyone have a safe and happy weekend.

Friday, November 11, 2011


I know some people are making a lot of the date today. While it is only November 11, 2011, the numerical date can be written 11/11/11. Six ones! What is so special about that? Next year we will have December 12, 2012 and that numerical date will be written 12/12/12.

I remember sitting in 7th grade math and the teacher Mister Freese said today is 5/5/55, and the next time this will happen will be 6/6/66. So, when 6/6/66 came around, I thought of my old math teacher and track coach Ollie Freese. I was in Korea on June 6, 1966 working at 8th Army Headquarters, and I was probably reading The Stars & Stripes newspaper. I will not bore you with where I was on 7/7/77, or 8/8/88, or 9/9/99, but if you ask me where I was I can tell you where I was working then.

You see people that work with bonds have a thing for remembering dates. A bond and a bond transaction has several dates. First, there is the Trade Date, then there is the Settlement Date, next there is the Maturity Date of the bond and Dated Date of the bond. After that there is the First Interest Payment Date, and then there might even be a Call Date that the bond can be called before its maturity date.

But the important thing to remember is that today is Veteran's Day! Take a moment to remember all those men and women that served our country in uniform, and be appreciative that they did!

Stay tuned.

American Flag Makes The Scene by F.D. Zigler, oil and enamel on board.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The Wall Street Game Has Been Rigged, And Not In Your Favor

Capitalism: A Love Story by Michael Moore is a film everyone should see and think about. Much of it was not new to me as I know about much of what is covered in the movie. I spent a number of years working with investment securities, traders, and portfolio managers for equities foreign and domestic, fixed income, hedge funds and private equity funds. I have followed the ups and downs of the markets and interest rates for many years. Michael Moore is entertaining and at times even funny, but the message he is trying to get across is very serious.

Everyone wants to be a winner. No one enters the markets to lose money. But, winning all the time is almost impossible. What some people have tried to do to win all the time is modify the rules or flat out cheat. The Federal Government was lobbied hard to modify the securities laws that helped our country avoid a serious financial crisis since the Great Depression. Laws were written in the 1930s to create the Securities & Exchange Commission and in 1940 the Investment Act to deal with mutual funds. Over the next 70 or so years Wall Street bankers have lobbied Congress that the old laws were no longer needed. Several members of Congress bought their story and even some took money and went to work for the banks after leaving government.

Those that did not try to change the laws that governed banking and the securities industry decided to cheat. Cheating by insider trading was just one of several ways that the cheaters cheated. Ponzi funds, like Bernie Madoff, was another form of cheating. Then there were those less understood methods such as "buying" a credit rating that was clearing not deserved. There are other ways to cheat, but they are too complicated to explain for our purposes here today, but they exist.

There is way too much closeness between the bankers on Wall Street and the people in the Federal Government that are charged with protecting investors, both institutional and individual, from fraud in the securities industry. Something needs to be done to correct this problem that clearly exists. But, nothing will be done until enough people understand that they have been cheated. There are those that cheated by going outside the laws and there are those that "cheated" by changing the laws that protected investors for over 70 years. Nothing is going to be changed by either Democrats or Republicans until the public understands that the Wall Street game has been rigged and not in their favor.

Stay tuned.

Level Playing Field Out The Window by F.D. Zigler, acrylics on paper envelope. This piece of political satire is framed and for sale for $850.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Election Day 2011

Remember to vote!

As a citizen, it is your responsibility to vote. Naturally, I hope you vote the way I vote. As I am a flaming Liberal and believe in trying to create a level playing field for all people, I vote . I believe in capitalism, but I don't support crony capitalism. I believe that government has a role to play to prevent unscrupulous people from selling products or services that are harmful or injurious to adults and children. I support people's right to bargain collectively. I believe that women have the right to decide what happens to their bodies and that it is between them and their doctor, and it is not any business of the federal government. I believe that all children should have an opportunity for health care and a good education so they can grow up to be strong good citizens and productive adults that help our society strive for a better life for all.

Stay tuned.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Beware Greeks Accepting Gifts?

Beware of Greece accepting a gift? Yes, beware of the Greek Prime Minister accepting a deal from France and Germany and then going home and asking for a vote on the deal that was agreed upon.

I don't know anything about the politics of Greece, but I do understand a little bit about bonds and debt service. The deal that was offered to Greece was a 50% "haircut" that those holding Greek bonds would take in exchange for Greece receiving financial assistance. There is a difference between finance, paying off your debts, and politics which is an entirely different ball game.

This latest move by the Prime Minister of Greece has created a great deal of uncertainty at a time when uncertainty is the last thing the world capital markets need. Capital markets around the world are going to suffer because of the vote purposed by the Prime Minister of Greece.

I sure hope that the vote can be done quickly and that the Greek people will accept the bailout. There are other weak countries hanging in the balance, and the last thing the world economy needs is a collapse of the capital markets.

I find it interesting how one relatively small country can cause so much damage to the world's economy and world confidence in the capital markets. I think someone needs to build a better financial system. The Euro is not working if Greece can take down not just Greece, but several other European countries as well. Cheating in any system of currencies will eventually fail. The Euro is about ready to go down for the count.

Stay tuned.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Somali Pirates Replace Goldman Sachs On Greek Bonds


It has been learned that the Somali Pirates have been hired to replace Goldman Sachs as underwriters of Greece's next debt issue. Greece is still under considerable pressure to find a way out of its huge debt service on outstanding Greek Bonds, and has decided to take a new course of action. Details have not been announced by the Greek government or the Somali Pirates as to how this will work, but at this point any ship in the sea is worth a look. No word from GS on how they are taking the news about being replaced by pirates.

Stay tuned.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween 2011: 3 Masks

Here is something I was playing with a few years ago when I was working at the Contemporary Arts Center. While working on the 6th floor in the UNMUSEUM, I had time to make this little mask (the center mask). Then I made copies and created 3 Masks. I think it works best here for Halloween.

Happy Halloween to everyone and please watch for children running across the street.

Stay tuned.

3 Masks by F.D. Zigler

Sunday, October 30, 2011

60 Minutes Tonight I Will Not Watch

Today 60 Minutes that airs on CBS will have as one of its subjects an interview with Madoff's wife and son. I will not watch 60 Minutes this Sunday and this is why.

My personal opinion is that it is a joke to give Bernie Madoff a 150 year prison sentence. In my opinion, Bernie Madoff should have been executed for what he did. Interviews with Bernie Madoff, his wife and his son are not worth my time. This man ruined hundreds and perhaps thousands of lives by destroying their financial security. In today's world that is like giving someone a death sentence. To glorify this man Bernie Madoff is sick TV reporting. He is a criminal and deserves to be treated like the criminal that he is. Parading him on TV , or his family members, as if they are celebrities makes the wrong statement in my opinion. And, it is because the media continues to hold him up to the public as someone of interest that I believe he should have been executed for destroying the lives of so many. Madoff brags how well he is treated in prison and even has the nerve to say he is safer in prison than on the streets of New York City.

People like Madoff will continue to destroy peoples' financial lives and security as long as they know they don't have to pay with their life. Once our society analyzes the problem and comes to the conclusion that behavior like Madoff's can not be tolerated in our society, perhaps then a fitting punishment will be handed out. For Bernie Madoff to live the rest of his life at the expense of the society he devastated is hardly, in my mind, the right punishment.

So, while I usually watch 60 Minutes and have enjoyed their stories over the many years, I will not watch this program tonight. And, that is my opinion.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Saturday Is For Art: Si Zigler's Art Exhibit 2011

Monday I am taking down my father's art exhibit at HUC-JIR. I am happy I had the opportunity to do the exhibit, and I want to thank everyone at HUC-JIR.

For more than 40 years, I have thought about doing an exhibit of my father's art work. Sam Hollingsworth and I were having lunch one day in January of this year at Park Chili in Northside, and I remarked to him that my father would have been 100 years old this year had he lived. I went on to say that I have wanted to have an exhibit of my father's art work, but wanted a place that would be safe and would protect the paintings. Sam came up with the idea to contact Rabbi Zola, who he knew, and from there we contacted Dr. Jonathan Cohen at HUC-JIR.

The Opening of the exhibit on Sunday, June 26, 2011 was only four days shy of what would have been Si's 100th birthday. The art show was his first solo art exhibit, and was attended by both of my brothers and many of my cousins that knew him. One thing I learned from our discussions with Dr. Cohen about some of the pieces is that Si Zigler had a greater and deeper knowledge of Jewish culture and religion than I ever knew. Yes, he could read and understand Yiddish, but I never knew that his knowledge of Hebrew may have been as equally developed. Here was a man that said little about his knowledge of Judaism, but expressed a greater knowledge through his art work than I ever realized.

My cousin Toby and I hope to produce a short video of the exhibit and share it with other Jewish museums around the country. Perhaps there are other cities that might like to enjoy Si Zigler's art work.

Simeon Zigler, self portrait, on paper.

The Fiddler, watercolor on paper by Si Zigler.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Goldman Sachs: A Cancer?

The big news today is that a deal was reached in Europe to work through the debt of Greece. If Greece had gone down the tube, Greece would probably have taken other European countries down with them. But, which American Wall Street banker helped put Greece in the position they found themselves in? Can you say Goldman Sachs? Below is an article that gives you a picture in words just what Goldman Sachs did to "help" Greece with their finances.

Goldman Sachs may have helped fool Greek bond buyers
Submitted by cpowell on Wed, 2010-02-17 13:32. Section: Daily Dispatches
By Elisa Martinuzzi
Bloomberg News
Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Goldman Sachs Group Inc. managed $15 billion of bond sales for Greece after arranging a currency swap that allowed the government to hide the extent of its deficit.

No mention was made of the swap in sales documents for the securities in at least six of the 10 sales the bank arranged for Greece since the transaction, according to a review of the prospectuses by Bloomberg. The New York-based firm helped Greece raise $1 billion of off-balance-sheet funding in 2002 through the swap, which European Union regulators said they knew nothing about until recent days.

Failing to disclose the swap may have allowed Goldman, a co-lead manager on many of the sales, other underwriters, and Greece to get a better price for the securities, said Bill Blain, co-head of fixed income at Matrix Corporate Capital LLP, a London-based broker and fund manager.

"The price of bonds should reflect the reality of Greece's finances," Blain said. "If a bank was selling them to investors on the basis of publicly available information, and they were aware that information was incorrect, then investors have been fooled."

Michael DuVally, a spokesman at Goldman Sachs in New York, declined to comment.

Goldman Sachs, Wall Street's most profitable securities firm, is being criticized by European politicians, including Germany's ruling Christian Democrats, who have questioned whether the firm helped Greece hide its deficit to comply with the currency's membership criteria. Greece is also being faulted by fellow euro-region countries for failing to disclose the swaps to EU regulators.

The swaps used by Greece to manage debt were "at the time legal," Greek Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou said on Feb. 15. The government doesn't use the swaps now, he said.

Eurostat, the EU's statistics office, this week ordered Greece to hand over information on the swaps transactions by the end of this week in an investigation that may extend to other EU countries.

Goldman Sachs earned about 735 million euros ($1 billion) underwriting Greek government bonds since 2002, data compiled by Bloomberg show. Goldman Sachs underwrote 10 bond sales. Prospectuses for six of them, obtained by Bloomberg, contain no mention of the swaps. The other four couldn't be obtained.

The yield on Greek 10-year government bonds jumped to as much as 7.2 percent on Jan. 28 amid the worst crisis in the euro's 11-year history. The premium, or spread, investors demand to hold Greek 10-year notes instead of German bunds, Europe's benchmark government securities, widened yesterday by 18 basis points to 323 basis points.

The spread reached 396 basis points last month, the most since the year before the euro’s debut in 1999, compared with an average of 57 basis points in the past decade. A basis point is 0.01 percentage point.

"When people start to fear that the numbers aren't accurate, they fear the worst," said Simon Johnson, a former International Monetary Fund chief economist who is now a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Sloan School of Management in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Goldman could face legal liability "if it could be established that they were knowingly hiding risk, and therefore knew or had reason to know that the bond disclosure documents were misleading," said Thomas Hazen, a law professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. "But that would be a tough hill to climb, in terms of burden of proof. There'd have to be some sort of smoking-gun memo."

The swap enabled Greece to improve its budget and deficit and meet a target needed to remain within the region’s single currency. Knowledge of their existence may have changed investors' perception of the risk associated with Greece, and the price they may have been willing to pay for the country's securities.

"From what we know, this is an egregious example of a conflict of interest" for Goldman Sachs, MIT's Johnson said. "Even if the deal had been authorized, it doesn't let them off the hook."

A Greek government inquiry this month identified a series of swaps agreements with securities firms that allowed the country to hide its mounting deficit. Greece used the swaps to defer interest payments, causing "long-term damage" to the Greek state, according to the Feb. 1 document, commissioned by the Finance Ministry.

European Union officials said this week they only recently became aware of the transaction with Goldman. The swaps don't necessarily break EU rules, European Commission spokesman Amadeu Altafaj told reporters in Brussels on Feb. 15.

The transaction with Goldman consisted of a cross-currency swap of about $10 billion of debt issued by Greece in dollars and yen, according to Christoforos Sardelis, head of Greece’s Public Debt Management Agency at the time.

That was swapped into euros using a historical exchange rate, a mechanism that implied a reduction in debt and generated about $1 billion in an up-front payment from Goldman to Greece, Sardelis said. He declined to give specifics on how the swap affected the country's deficit or debt.

European politicians such as Luxembourg Treasury Minister Jean-Claude Juncker this week criticized Goldman Sachs for arranging the Greek swap and are pressing the firm and Greece for more disclosure. Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats aim to push for new rules that will force euro-region nations and banks to disclose bond swaps that have an impact on public finances, financial affairs spokesman Michael Meister said.

"Investment banks are guilty of being part of a wider collusion that fudged the numbers to make the euro look like a working currency union," said Matrix's Blain. "The bottom line is foreign exchange and bond investors bought something sellers knew not to be the case."

Does this mean everyone that works at Goldman Sachs is bad? No! But, Goldman Sachs has some bad people that should not be advising people, countries or dogs.

Stay tuned.

Monday, October 24, 2011


television programming that presents information (such as news) in a way that is meant to be entertaining

Infotainment is my new word for today. Everyday I receive an email with a word and its definition. Some of the words I already know, and some are completely new to me. But, this word infotainment is one of those new words that brings together two old words information and entertainment. So now we have something called infotainment, and that pretty much sums up many peoples' opinion of TV news. Some have even referred to it as sugarcoated news. Now FOX news is a whole different story. To be completely honest, I don't watch FOX news. The little bits and pieces that I see from time to time leaves me with the idea that primary and secondary sources of information, and opinions in the studio, are one in the same.

Now this infotainment word I think could be used also to describe some of my political satire artwork. Given my limited artistic abilities, my artwork that is suppose to carry a message and at the same time be atheistically pleasing perhaps falls short. While I give it my best effort, my limited ability to take an idea in my head and put it on paper or canvas sometimes does not live up to my expectations. But, I just chalk those up and move on to the next idea. Not every idea for a piece of political satire strikes a cord with people. And, since I have had a ringing in my ears for the last 30 years, my perception of what is good political satire may be off key to some people. I am definitely in a liberal key, but I would like to think that the key that resonants with me most is the key of justice. Justice for all people, not just the wealthy and well connected.

Stay tuned.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Saturday Is For Art: Butterflies, A Heart & Superman

A few words about making art.

First, I am not a trained artist. Painting is something I wanted to do, so I went to the public library and got books about painting and read them. At first I painted in oil, but that requires too much work when cleaning up, and oils take much longer to dry. Acrylics clean up with a little soap and water and they dry much quicker than oils. So, because of convenience, I decided to paint in acrylics for now. Maybe someday I will go back and paint in oils, but I haven't seen the need to as I like to paint on envelopes and acrylics work better when painting on paper. Twenty years ago I painted a series of 6 postage stamps on large pieces of paper (30x22) in oil, but I first had to cover both sides of the paper with gesso so the oil paint would not eat the paper fiber. Today, that seems like a lot work.

Second, I paint because I have something I want to say. I wasn't interested in painting the so called "pretty picture" for over the sofa. My interest in politics, economics and whatever else interests me has been the subject matter for my paintings. I have used symbols repeatedly in my paintings and I call them my icons. I have even painted my own icons. Some people like my paintings and others don't care for them. But, this is what I do. I try to paint what is on my mind.

The 3 paintings today I have done recently. Obama As Superman is now complete. I have already written a little about this piece in earlier postings (see below). The 6 butterflies are painted on a small envelope in acrylics. The Black heart & Butterfly is painted on a larger envelope in acrylics.

Have a nice and safe weekend.

Monday, October 17, 2011

The Concept of A Superman

The concept of a Superman goes far back into our earliest written history and literature. Even in the United States, every four years, we elect someone that we want to be Superman. Is it possible for one man, regardless of his strong moral character and intellectual acumen to lead a nation of 300 million people? With people, each trying to avoid pain from several different sources, is it possible for one man, even as president to be responsible to correct everything that has been broken or is unfair, unjust or just plain wrong.

Is politics no more than a sport? Do the winners pay back their big financial supporters with special contracts, tax loopholes and a Christmas Party at the White House? Does it even make any difference who wins if the winners always take care of their financial backers first?

I don't have any answers, but I don't believe even a Superman can fix some of the messes we are in.

Stay tuned.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Obama As Superman: Why Not?

This is Saturday's post. I am posting it on Friday since I might not remember to do it on Saturday. That doesn't have to make any sense because there are so many things today that don't make any sense that one more will not hurt anything.

"Obama As Superman: Why Not?" is just another piece of my political satire. The Superman comic book cover is from a 1942 issue No. 24. It is my opinion that everyone expects for this one man to turn our economy around in a very short time even though it took years for the bubble to burst. The mess that President Obama inherited can not be fixed in just a few short years. But, people for whatever reason will blame him for the mess we find ourselves after the financial system was given free reign for years. Even a black Superman can not fix our economy as fast as everyone would like. The economy must first process lots of waste before it can get moving towards full employment again.

This painting is not completed. I have a few more things to finish before it is done.

Obama As Superman, acrylic on canvas board, by F.D. Zigler 2011

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Cincinnati: Comes From The Roman General Cincinnatus, But Our Roads Are Not Roman Roads

Since so many people are protesting, I thought I would put in my 2 cents about the condition of the roads in Cincinnati. Perhaps I just drive on all the wrong roads! But the roads I drive on, their surfaces are just plain crap. Holes and uncalled for speed bumps make up so much of the surface, I wonder why anyone with a choice would want to locate in Cincinnati for a business. And, the expressways I-75 & I-71 are no better. Have you ever driven into Detroit from the south on I-75? Wow! Is that a nice concrete drive or what? Take a drive downtown on I-75 or I-71 and it is almost Third World. I drive Montana Avenue to go the YMCA on Montana & Cheviot Avenues and the surface of Montana Avenue is a mess. They fix things under the road, but when it comes to putting down a decent surface, it seems the technology has been lost. I sure hope someone is making some good money doing our roads because they don't deserve what they are being paid. How about some quality workmanship? Damn, the Romans made better roads 2,000 years ago!

Stay tuned.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Free Markets & Traffic Lights

There is a lot of talk about free markets in our economic debates, but free markets doesn't mean that individual or institutional investors should be losers.

Not far from where I live is an intersection called Knowlton's Corner. The main road that leads downhill into Knowlton's Corner is a heavily trafficked 4 lane road called the Ludlow Viaduct. The Ludlow Viaduct brings a heavy stream of traffic down to this intersection where it is one of six roads that converge to form Knowlton's Corner. No traffic engineer or motorist would suggest that this intersection with 6 roads coming together from 6 different directions could function without traffic lights. Common sense would dictate that with 6 roads crossing a common space that some formal apparatus is necessary to help move the traffic without causing accidents and the possible loss of life.

Free markets need "traffic lights" too. Without rules there would be no markets because individual and institutional investors would not feel safe. The recent financial crisis demonstrates for me that free markets need regulations. For many years, the markets operated within a framework of regulations and people on both sides made money. When one side games the system, the resulting fallout not only destroys the trust of the investing public, but it also causes real economic dislocations that will take years to work out. The mortgage-bond meltdown has wrecked the housing market and has caused foreclosures and a decline in the housing market. This is the direct result of the housing bubble created by the fraudulent issuance of triple-A mortgage-backed bonds that in no way deserved the highest credit rating that was awarded to them by the three credit rating agencies.

Everyone wants the other guy to work hard for his money. Why would we want any less from those operating the capital markets?

Stay tuned.

Monday, October 10, 2011


Should a person's religion be a criteria for being president of the United States? Should the fact that Mitt Romney is of the Mormon faith be a factor as to whether he is qualified to be president? What if Mitt Romney was a Jew? Would he be any less qualified than he is as a Mormon?

I have listened to the Religious Right for over 25 years and I can't say I understand their fixation with a person's religion to hold political office. Back in the 1980s I listened as leaders of the Christian Right spoke about how you couldn't be a good American unless you were first a good Christian. Being Jewish, born to two Jewish parents and having four Jewish grandparents, I wondered why I couldn't be a good American regardless of my religion. I served my country for two years in the U.S. Army and spent a year in Korea. I thought of myself as a model citizen that voted, did volunteer work in my community, and helped my older neighbors when they needed a hand. I never spent a night in jail and at that time the most trouble I had gotten into was a speeding ticket. So, I asked myself, why couldn't I be a good American even if I wasn't a Christian? Eventually, I came around to putting together my own "Mother & Child", my own "religious icon", as I do not accept Jesus as my Lord and Savior, I needed to create something that was mine. The above painting in oil on board framed in a wood frame covered in gold metal leaf was my way of dealing with the question: Why can't I be a good American if I am not a Christian?

Mother & Child: An American Icon oil on board 72" x 48", 1988-92.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Too Big To Fail Is No Way To Run An Economy

The capital markets have an important role to play in our economy. The movement of capital from individuals and institutions to corporations has permitted our economy to grow. Most of what the people on Wall Street do aids in building the nation and growing the economy. The problems begin when ethics are placed aside and greed for huge profits takes over. There were a number of regulations that were relaxed over the years by the congress that gave rise to the financial crisis of 2007-08. People with the responsibility for doing their job correctly were told that the profitability of their corporation came before doing the right thing. Regulations are needed. The laws that regulated the banks and the capital markets worked for several generations before they were removed or watered down. Greed is something that will always be a problem. Regulations, enforcement, accountability and transparency help to keep the game on the up and up. The capital markets provide a valuable service to the country when they are run on the up and up just like anything else that is run correctly can help grow the economy. The economy grew under the Glass-Steagall Act for generations, and it needs to be put in place again. Too big to fail is no way to run our economy.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

No One Likes To Be Made A Mark

No one likes to be made a mark. Whether you are buying a hot dog at a game or investing for your children's education or your own retirement, no one likes to be taken advantage of.

The investment securities business has a long history going back over 100 years. Brokers and investment bankers have sold the public worthless securities for generations. In the 19th century, stocks were sold, money was collected and pocketed and no railroads were built. After the Stock Market Crash of 1929, the Federal Government created the Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC) and Congress wrote laws aimed at protecting the public from fraud. The SEC did a fair job and a major financial fiasco was averted. But, Wall Street got greedy. Making money the honest way meant that you could not shoot fish in a barrel. In simple language, making a mark of someone became a lot harder to do.

But, money changed the rules as politicians were told that the old rules, the securities laws of the 1930s and 1940s, were no longer needed. Changes were made and more risk became the norm.

The final straw that lead to the financial crisis, in my opinion, was the breakdown and corruption of the credit rating agencies. To understand the importance of the lettered grade that the credit rating agencies gave to new issues is to understand how important the lettered grade on a bond issue was to the placement of the new issue by the sales people working on the desks of the investment bankers. Sales people as a rule knew very little about the credit behind any new bond issue. They knew the interest rate, maturity, re-offering price and finally they knew the lettered credit rating issued by the credit rating agency. Bottom line, the sales people that sold the mortgage-backed bonds knew just enough to sell their bonds and not much more.

When the credit rating agencies gave the mortgage-backed bond issues their triple-A credit rating, sales people included that key piece of information in their sales pitch. Unfortunately, many of the mortgage-backed bond issues that received the triple-A rating were not worthy of the rating.

Lots of people that never heard of a mortgage-backed bond got hurt by the credit rating fiasco. Pension funds and institutional buyers got killed when the house of cards fell.

As I said, no one like to be made a mark. Congress needs to learn that lesson as much as Wall Street bankers.