Once i was out at a full moon gathering. it was fall, september, 2004 to be exact. It was early morning. I was totally getting down to something, i don’t remember who. the sun was getting ready to rise, the mountains surrounding were painted in sweet colors of desert dawn and this dude comes up, prancing and weird around me, and says “yo, c’mon, hit me, man.” and i am jarred out of my beatmatched reverie- “huh?!” and he is like bouncing around in front of me with this jacket on and looking like adam horowitz when he was in “roadside prophets”. skinny kind of kid who is looking like a frantic dog jumping around in front of me, “c’mon, man, c’mon, let’s fight. don’tchu wanna? c’mon man! we’ll just go over there and fucking go at it!”
“what are you talking about?” and i am still trying to get down.
“”c’mon, yeah! hit me! c’mon, man in the face!”
i’m like: have i seen this in some movie? is this a dream sequence? this is weeeeeiiiirrrrrrrdddddd. “look man,” i say, “i will you do you an even bigger favor- i won’t hit you. you’ll go chill out and be thankful to me in the end.” i’m laughing and i know that doesn’t help things at all.
“c’,mon man! fucking hit me! you afraid?! c’mooooon!” and he is bouncing around in front of me like a short and skinny speed freak white kid in a puffy jacket and the beats are funky and i’m trying to dance and this dude is trying to get me to hit him.
So i never hit him and seem to defuse the situation with my lightness and his inability to ever find any way for himself to hook me into his game and he kind of prances off and i’m left in this really weird state of mind floating between absurdity and lightness.
a little bit later i am talking with violet telling her about this weird stuff that this dude was saying to me. she doesn’t believe me. “he is right behind me, right now, this very moment!” i say, because he just happens to be right behind me, in kind of a wandering daze.
“there’s no one there, michael,” she says, peering over my shoulder.
and i turn and there isn’t! just a buncha kids dancing! what the fuck! am i hallucinating!? but i saw it happen! he was right there!
but later i do see him, skulking about in a beat up white tshirt, eyes a little glazed, looking kind of hot, all intention forgotten…
so if this was you, maybe you wanna consider the drugs you take and the methods of your interactions, the intentions by which you lead your life and the reasons you do what you do.
if this wasn’t you then always keep an eye out for people, send them some love cause not everyone feels it like you do- some people just want some attention, some just want some love but they will never admit it.
some people really might need a good slap in the face but i am not gonna give it to them- especially if i am dancing to some funky ass sunrise set and the sky is lightening and my mind and heart are bursting…
Some kid came by our fence in back and spray painted some kind of silver crap scrawl. In some alternate universe it may have some kind of minimal redeeming value. Here, in this one, it does nothing more than look ugly. He seems to’ve tagged a few other places in the general neighborhood. His work doesn’t compare at all to the dude who, on two side by side grey utility boxes on a street corner sprayed “Watch” on the left one and “out” on the left smaller one. That, at least, made me laugh. The silver scrawl just makes me shudder.
A couple weeks back Violet and I went to the Art LA show at the Santa Monica Civic Center. Many dozen galleries all set up in booth—like cubicles displaying what passes these days as “Art”. We could count on one hand between us the number of artists that impressed us. Mostly: crap. Scrawled drawings, ugly sculptures. Half-assed poorly conceived redundancies. How many times will I see the striped canvas. A hundred and twenty four vertical lines, different colors. Sigh. Little ugly scrawled drawings celebrating ugliness. Framed. A series. A large… thing. A smaller… contraption. A bit of wax…A cardboard rendition of Nixon’s head.
We came out of the place with a kind of blasé feeling. Blah, we said to each other. . We decided to go get some sushi and celebrate the art and beauty of the Japanese flavor, the raw fish presentation and the beauty of the flavor upon our taste buds.
Art- where had the beauty gone? Who sucked it away and replaced it with this laziness? It takes work, you see, to make something beautiful. Anyone can scrawl their name in silver spray paint on the back fence and put a coupla X’s under it. Anyone can paint a canvas black and put it on the wall. In fact, my dear poseur who did such a thing, Rothko is way ahead of you and his was way better and once you’ve seen a blank canvas or a solid color canvas, you’ve seen them all. Where is the originality in it? The personal process? Why didn’t you try to go any further than what has already been done? Why do we glorify the ugly wall hangings? The childlike drawing of the two rats fighting? The man in the mask getting ready to fuck the rabbit? The framed image made up entirely of gel-caps filled with tiny scrolls of photo making one giant photo. How avant-garde? Not quite. The avant-garde has turned into a lazy man’s art. It takes work to make something beautiful.
I have a painting here I have been working on. Two people, sitting together, making love, with a galaxy through them,. Encircled by light and flame and lotus petals and the like. I have painted their bodies three times. Each time, it was not quite it. This is to be beautiful- to get to that place where we can reproduce the beauty that is inherent in nature we must be able to come from our own true nature. If we can come from there then everything flows and nothing is in the way. But if we want to settle for ugliness we will only forever be caught up in the childish play of human drama. Look at the sunset, at a flower, at the river… at birth, death and all the points between… there is nothing “ugly” about them. Nothing awkward or self-conscious. It is humans which have created those things. So they put it on their walls, they spray-paint it on the backs of their fences and street signs, post it on the front cover of their tabloids, look at how ugly Faye Dunaway has gotten, look at Brittany’s tears, there now, it’s so ugly, this thing: life. Now, don’t you feel better?
I have yet to see something in this consumerist culture which professes to tell me I am beautiful without also attempting to sell me something to either help keep me that way or simply be a crutch as that thing which will make me beautiful. Only I can make myself that way.
I am not a lazy person, when you come down to it. I may slack on some things now and again but ugliness is not something I will stand for. Look- look at your life. Look, I’ll look at my life: I get in an argument. To just leave it, unsettled, is ugly. Even the charred remains of a forest resolves itself by, none-the-less from those ashes, birthing itself into the majesty it was. You never expect a flower to be ugly. Or the sunset, or the breeze. Why do you expect yourself to be that way? Who taught you that you were awkward, unfortunate, unloved, not beautiful, not lovable? How are you ever going to create beauty outside of yourself if you don’t solve these issues first and create the beauty within yourself?
This is of utmost importance, you see. You are told you are not so beautiful by others around you, by the self-abused, and so believe it, and settle into it, and slowly but surely self-deprecate. You forget- you are a mirror. Inside is this universe of feelings and understandings and openings and beauty. If you wake up to it. And that, my friend, takes some work. It takes some digging and some discipline and some coming to terms with yourself and some patience and some love and some firmness and some compassion and some wisdom. It takes practice.
How do you practice being beautiful? By practicing compassion. By practicing generosity. By exercising. By breathing deeply. By loving yourself. By loving the universe. By loving the people you see, wherever, whenever. By not expecting. By being secure in yourself. By walking tall, even if you are short. By holding yourself that way.
You are whoever you want to be and the universe, your world, your life, is whatever you want it to be. It is a harsh unfriendly jungle of chaos and ugliness or it is a blissful dance of natural order and beauty. Natural order is like a forest- there is order in the chaos in that it is all arranged to work symbiotically in the most efficient manner possible and provide as much life and goodness as possible. Nothing is out of place, nothing is in any specific place, everything is exactly where it is meant to be. Beauty- it is everywhere all around us.
The artist in society. It is not the job of the artist to perpetuate the ball that is already rolling- this ugliness ball. It is the job of the artist to create something more. To be a guiding light. To search inside for that inspiration and produce something which shall inspire and ignite the fires. It is the job of the artist to be the beauty they wish to see in the world. I’ll be your mirror but all I see is beauty. In the somewhat chaotic order of my desk. In my now cleaned house which I spent the day putting back into order from a weeks worth or business. In the nighttime sky outside, glowing with the city lights and speckled with a handful of stars, lit by the waning moon. In the miniature rose sitting on my desk given to me by my love on Valentine’s Day. The cat on the floor. My sweetie in bed. Sigh…
I will admit, I can’t always see the beauty but that does not mean I stop doing the work. TRY TO UNDERSTAND! It’s the greatest gift you could give to yourself and to the universe: trying to understand. And don’t settle for second best or some cheap imitation. A mere mobile of string and paper with a coupla chicken bones thrown in for good measure will not suffice when we are talking about the ultimate well-being of you and everyone you know and everyone else as well. This may sound like a lot of work but it’s less than you think. All it takes: is being aware and trying to understand.
Like I said, beauty takes work. Ugliness is for the lazy. You decide where you want to be. The choice is, always and forever, yours.
Morning suns and cold breezes
southern California weather
gets to the core of me
unlike that wintry bitter of the frozen north.
Twig Tea and a some loud punk on the stereo
sweet colors on the easel
waiting for me to join them again
Where would I be without such love
In my life?
Friday morning and soft Ishq on stereo behind me playing luring and alluring beats and sounds into my skull. Sitting on the corner of my desk a little miniature rose plant stretches upwards, a gift from violet who gave it to me on valentines day and I gave her a dozen red roses, cut and in a vase, and already they are wilting and the little bush will last as long as I can make it last….
Wake up early from telling dreams of dance, strange elucidations on the state of my relationship… Body feeling kind of soft and rested. Arise into morning skies and stand before painting to see what I can find… a universe, a galaxy, star-filled skies.
“So are you meeting me at work here?” She asked on AIM.
“Oh right! Fuck!” Look around, what to do first? Grab stuff? No time for shower, no yoga, must change into more serious pants instead of these iridescent flowing things. “Out the door in five minutes.” and proceed to run around grabbing and then ungrabbing- phone, wallet, pouch, half eaten brownie with fudge icing, other, not other, more then no more, out the door, with shoes barely on, let the cat in first, locking gate and rounding corner and there leaning against a trash can is some sort of majorly kitchey framed religious image of a Virgin Mary holding her arms over two kids who are wading in a river and it is SOOOO major kitch that I have to save it in case I find some Great Use for it. Some wonderfully artistic piece whereby I can rework the whole thing and imbue it with some deeper and more mystical and more present day symbolism instead of the symbol of religious kitch. Of course, it hung in someone’s house and they liked it at one time, maybe now replacing it with one of those iridescent pictures of Jesus descending from the sky with angels and when you look at it from a different angle you see it in purple instead of hues of blue and green.
So I run back to house and stuff it under the gate for safekeeping til I return because I know someone would take it in the meantime rush around the corner to check the mail at the mailbox at the front house and there is the neighbor with the package Violet is expecting. I ought to hang out sometime, they’re just hanging out all the time, you know and he puffs on his cigarette and the scent of it makes me cringe, having developed a fierce aversion to the smoking and I till him I will be by tomorrow tho by the time I get to Lincoln to wait for the bus I realize that I coulda had time to take the package back to our house and leave again, maybe even have a drink with the neighbor etc but instead I opt unwillingly for standing alongside Lincoln rush hour traffic waiting for the bus. Homeless folks standing nearby groveling and grumbling and from somewhere the stinking smell of piss and three short latino boys with trumpet cases wait for the bus to outside of the RED HOT VIDEO ALL RATINGS store with the giant FREE PARIS HILTON DVD painted in day-glo colors on the windows and I had seen the old man painting that and he had seemed rather happy with his work. To each their own. We have chosen netflix- nothing like not having to leave the comfort of your own home.
I take out my sketch book and start to draw. Rough lines ont eh page of Café 50’s across the street, images of faces of people at the busstop, the sun is going down and the sky has darkened and traffic lights city cars driving by trucks car exhaust piss smell still rising old grovelly woman in wheel chair wheeling around Haskin for change- the problem with that is- we have seen too many scammers to believe anyone in a wheelchair any longer- the Vietnam Vet, the Old Man, the Young Man, to believe the can’t walk. GIVE CHANGE VIETNAM VETERAN. It’s a tough call, who’s trying to get a free ride, who’s trying to pull your leg, who really can’t get by any other way, who is just gonna go off and buy themselves a bottle of whiskey and get drunk, pass out, fall asleep with their head resting on an empty Seven-Eleven Plastic Big Gulp cup underneath a payphone, wake up in the morning, mean, ugly, asking for a dollar
At long last bus arrives. I shoulda remembered that today we were going to go to the MOCA and try to see the last hurrah of the Ecstasy: Art in Altered Spaces exhibit today and I could have asked Robin to drop me off up near where violet works. Robin had come over so we could work a little on her website. We hung out for a while and I put her to work writing the copy for it which she had been stalling on. Later we went to her house to check out her clothes for the Cross-Dressing Valentines Party this weekend. She gave me some skimpy tops and strapless bras and the suggestion that I shave my belly hairs so I would look a tough more feminine. “You do have a nice belly,” she said to me. That’s nice. We went to Whole Foods, got some food and compared and judged the tiles on the wall which had been painted by first and second graders and depicted fruits in various shapes, sizes and imaginings.
“That one,” I said, “is my favorite- note the brilliant juxtaposition of shapes and how the whole tile is arranged into quadrants and triangles. Just brilliant. Course, nothing beats the Carmen Miranda one right here…”
Buses. Bus comes and crowded on with multitudinous ethnicities, ages, shapes, sizes, smells. Get off at Venice and Lincoln and before I cross corner watch two buses come and go. Which means the next one won’t be for like twenty minutes. So we wait.
Bus comes. Draw pictures. Mexican guy sitting next to me, looks angry, downs small shot bottle of vodka.
And what this is all leading up to is that finally I get off the bus into dark busy city night and violet come up moments later and picks me up and we head downtown to see the exhibit.
“I need to get some gas,” says violet. Going further, going further, “Really need to get some gas.” Gas light flashing. DTE reading nothing. Coasting. Into a parking garage downtown we quickly rush to an elevator. It is seven o clock and the museum closes at eight and we go into MOCA and ask “Where is the Ecstasy exhibit?”
“That’s in the Geffen Building. Down here, several blocks, etc etc….”
Disappointment. We look at each other- I didn’t know there was a second building, we both say.
So we make our way through the rest of the museum, pausing now and again at something which strikes our eye, which is rare but now and again we find a piece which truly has some beauty, skill. Mostly we are greeted by strange things, drawings and scribbling, other people’s stuff, other people’s confusions.
The paintings lead way to the exhibition on American Comics which has some redeeming qualities but I have a hard time really wanting to be there. This is certainly no MOMA.
We leave, bummed at our luck in missing the exhibit we wanted to see. Later we hear that the exhibit is overrated and that if you know anything about altered states other than the fact that they are altered, then you will quite possibly be disappointed. There are great truths to be found there in the altered states; understandings and visions and miracles and joys.
Luckily when we leave and get directions on closest gas station we get there just before we are completely out of gas. If that hadn’t happened we may have found ourselves in an altered state all right- a tad frustrated by the lack of fuel. Altered states…everything is an altered state.
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