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At this point in my life, this is the most amazing thing I can imagine.

Both art and love are the process of emotionally reconciling the beautiful with the hideous, and hoping to not be destroyed in the process.

There is a lot in my head right now.

Last night, I was awoken by a spider. Generally spiders don’t make noise when they walk around, but this one didn’t really choose to follow those social & biological norms. It sounded like a squirrel trapped behind the wall, and it got me out of bed.

I lifted the rattling blinds and saw a giant leg creep out, a giant spider with an egg sac twice the size of its body, trying to make its way somewhere noisily.

This weekend, I am going to my old college town of New Paltz for fun, pool, and hangin’ out oldschool.

Next weekend, I’m making the 4.5 hour drive to Newmarket NH for Free Comic Book Day and to trade in a whole mess of toys I don’t want anymore. And more fun.

The following Thursday, I’ll be heading to the city to sneak into a gallery and take some photos of nautically themed fabric arts for Splice.

Photos to follow.

A few weeks ago, I woke up with a weird mark cut into my arm. I don’t know where it could have come from, but I immediately recognized it as a rune, from my old days of studying that kind of thing. Eventually, I figured out that its symbolic meaning is that of ‘self-revelation’, so I took it to heart. The faded scar is still on my arm, and I still don’t know what caused it.


You may have noticed, if you give a damn, that April Annihilus Awesomeness stalled. Badly. Life gets in the way. Life, and about a half dozen really fucking awful attempts that drive you so far into the ground with embarrassment that it takes a Herculean effort to climb back to the surface. I am, however, up to the painting phase of Page 7 in Coptopus Issue #2 – that’s just about 1/3 done, which is exciting as hell. I have stalled, but I’ve also felt weird and disconnected and antisocial, and I’ve been unable to pinpoint exactly why.

I took a 4-day weekend from work with the intention of doing incredible things, but I spent much of that fighting with Toyota (details in the previous post) and getting nothing done but worrying. Shakti visited on Saturday, and we hit an Indian buffet, and played pool at a local place which I just discovered called Iron Willie’s, which sounds like a gay bar. It was actually very laid back and completely enjoyable. We messed with horny guys on Chatroulette, with the aid of Shakti’s ample cleavage, and it was a great day.

I cashed in my Disney Rewards Points for a free Hannah Montana 3/4 scale electric guitar, which I eagerly await in the mail.

I was also hired on by Splice Today to write about art & design, which is super exciting also. I’ve become a bit disillusioned with writing about the world of collectibles while being owed about $2100 in back pay, so I’ve scaled back that particular gig. It’s a great avenue into accessing galleries pre-show and interviewing people I like. I question whether or not BEING an active artist qualifies me uniquely for the position, or actually serves as a bias that will prevent me from being a good reporter. Does it prevent me from working in the perfect vacuum which art is supposed to be created in, or will this exposure to more artists and design influence me positively? ‘Those who can’t, write?’ Is that how it goes?

So many of the creators I really like are tremendously inarticulate, but excel so amazingly at the visual aspect of expression. Trying to read anything written by Ash Wood is like decoding a dystopian-future version of the English language, where verbs and spelling have been completely eliminated from the lexicon.

Maybe there are no correlations except for the ones I impose upon myself by worrying too much.

And, unrelated, but this is the most amazing thing I’ve ever found. I’m guessing that it’s worth at least $600 – $1000 in the right market.

Here’s the story :

Tree branch fell on my car during a snowstorm. Damaged the roof very badly. I called Geico, they made an assessment (and then re-made it, once I pointed out that they got some of the details wrong) and wrote me a check for repairs. The check had to be a 2-party check, with Toyota’s name on it, as I am still paying for my car.

I wanted to take my car to Curry Toyota, where I bought it, because it’s still brand new and I thought they could match up the paint and contours the best. I’ve had body work done at other shops, and it’s been awful. So, I take my car to Toyota, who inform me that the check is written out wrong, and that they’ll have to send it to some faraway land to get it signed correctly. They also notice a ding in the trunk, which was also caused by falling branches (which I have the photographs to prove). They tell me that they’ll get Geico to look at it again and adjust my check – don’t worry about anything.

I leave my car with Toyota, and I relinquish my check.

They do not handle the dent in the trunk, at all. They claim that Geico would not approve it, and neither party had the courtesy to call me and ask me if I wanted to go ahead on the repairs anyhow, or to provide evidence of the source of the damage. Instead, they just ignored it.

I get my car back, I pay for the completed repairs in full, with the understanding that I would get the check back once it is signed and I can deposit it in my bank account to make up the difference. A month passes, and the body shop guy cites ‘Jewish holidays and vacations shutting banks down’, which is a bullshit answer. I call, he says that he’s going to follow up, I am not called back. It is implied that Toyota lost the check.

I take things into my own hands and call Geico to see where the check is, and I find out that Toyota cashed it into their own bank, instead of giving it to me. So now, they have about $950 towards a $730 repair. Once again, someone dropped the ball.

I call Curry Toyota, and body shop guy tells me (after literally seven transfers, one of which I was cut off mid-sentence) ‘they’re all backed up, we don’t know what happened to your check yet’, so I tell him, check number and all, and that I expect an immediate refund to my credit card for the exact amount of the check. He says he’ll get on it right away.

I’ve lost all patience, and it was all I could do to not start spewing profanities at this guy who kept on trying to talk over me instead of hearing what I was told by Geico, as I was obviously the only person who could handle the situation intelligently.

One illustration job lost my W2 and invoice and has not paid me months later, Toyota cashes my check into their own bank account, my blogging gig owes me over $2100 bucks, and something tell me that if people could manage their own shit, I wouldn’t have to be swimming through theirs all of the time.

I’m never going to be able to afford that unicorn.

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4/19/2010 UPDATE : The fax of the cashed check came in from Geico, and it seemed to indicate that instead of returning my money to me (as originally stated), Toyota decided to keep it without telling me – because I owe them money for my car still.

I’ve made every single monthly payment on time. I live paycheck to paycheck, and I have very specific expenses coming out of different areas of my finances – bank, credit card and PayPal. The fact that Curry Toyota would just outright take money that they FEEL they are owed, and well ahead of the scheduled payment date, is unconscionable, and it’s throws my entire balance off.

When I talked to body shop guy Armand, he actually had the GALL to blame 9/11 for not being able to help me (in addition to phones not working, bank holidays, and any other number of excuses for being unable to get his shit together). I don’t know anyone in their right mind who is so desperate to save their own asses that they invoke a national tragedy to distract from their own ineptitude, but this guy did it. I told him that he, personally, was supposed to handle this entire situation, and that he fed me misinformation, and all he had to say for himself was ‘yeah’. No apology, no nothing.

So, Curry Toyota, you fucking suck a whole fucking lot. I’m glad this is finally over with.

April Annihilus Awesomeness : Day 6

Thank you, Heroclix.

At this point, we have not had power for 48 hours. (I am posting from a computer at work, where I came to get warm for a little while.)

The snow started falling at around 11AM on Thursday, as I pulled into the Toyota dealership to have my car fixed for the various recalls that were recently placed on it. I read Kafka in the waiting room, because it seemed strangely appropriate. Fortunately, the repairs only took about 90 minutes, as there were many cancellations due to the weather, but by the time I got out, traffic had already slowed to about 20 MPH, and I was near enough to the grocery store for it to be foolish NOT to go before the storm hit in full force.

At first, every power outage is a little fun. It had to strike just as I was cooking dinner, though, so all of the half-cooked meat had to be thrown out, as there was also no refrigeration to be had. I ate pretzels, as we did our best. My niece and I made YouTube videos (to be uploaded when the power returned) to keep her from being afraid of the dark, and I played Colin Hay’s ‘Beautiful World’ on the guitar until she fell asleep. I continually called NYSEG, our local power provider, for updates. Each call seemed to push back the estimated repair time by 6 more hours, or three hours earlier than the time is was now.

All night, trees cracked like gunshots across the valley. You could hear the creak, and you closed your eyes and prayed that it was not going to fall on your house or your car. They are calling it a ‘wet snow’ – the gravity of it all is pulling down the trees, and twisting off branches ferociously, angrily. Each creak, or thud, intensified by the silence of having no power running, jolted me awake.

I went for a walk around the block in the morning, and it was still snowing. Trees were still falling, and a large branch had fallen on my car and caused a significant dent to an area of the roof. Power lines snaked black across the road everywhere, and trees had crashed into our fence and mailboxes, and into cars across the neighborhood, and into the road. It’s the most destructive weather I’ve seen in 30 years.

I pulled back the curtain and put together LEGOs until my hands became too cold to really use anymore, and then I laid in bed and read, and slept, and listened to Belle and Sebastian until I fell in and out of sleep until the nest day came around. I’ve been unable to draw or do much of anything productive, simply because it’s so cold in the house that my hands just become unresponsive. We brought in snow to melt to refill the toilets, and it is not melting.

It is now Saturday, and I came into work just so that I might stay warm, and have running water to wash up in. I ended up working for the 4 hours that we’re open, and it’s still better than being at home, and cold, and feeling this intense uselessness. I cannot function if I am not creating, and to have the time, but no means, feels like monsters clawing at me from the inside.

Not to mention a niece who needs constant entertainment and cannot have a conversation without contradicting every sentence you say. My nerves, as it were, are shot to hell. So, I spent the morning outside lopping off that the town had not gotten to yet and were preventing repairs and plows from coming along. Out beautiful maple tree, the center of our yard, is split in half, and subsequently tore our Japanese maple in half also.

We’re cold and hungry. I hope the power returns soon.

I’m coming down from a six-day vacation, precipitated by winter weather, President’s Day, and a cold that happened to incapacitate me for much of my free time. I’ve also had a stunning lack of motivation and creativity. Something has gone dormant, and that always makes me feel unsettled. I’d really like to chalk it up to illness, though that feels like an excuse.

I have a few potential projects that are up in the air which I’m not ready to discuss, mostly because of potential clients failing to come through in a timely manner. I’m good at doing work for other people. I’m great at painting for myself, or just making stuff that I feel like making, but this horrible mix of cold weather, frustration and perpetually blowing my nose has amassed to little more than a wastebasket full of tissues and a warm bed. So many beautiful ideas, and in my head, I feel like they’ve all pulled their heads into these little black shells and they refuse to come out until some mysterious catalyst convinces them otherwise. I don’t know what that thing might be just yet.

I’m also waiting for my projects to come back from the laser cutter, which will top out at three weeks by the time they get here. When I started using these folks, it took about ten days from start to finish, and most of that was shipping form California. I’ve spent summers working out in our family garage with a set of AV cabinets that the library was getting rid of, filled to the brim with wood bits and myriad nails and screws, and a few coping saws hanging on supporting beams, a pale mist of sawdust wafting through shafts of yellow daylight while The Black Keys played over some tinny speakers I’d torn off of an old CD player that stopped working 10 years ago. Sweating and kneeling in splinters and getting dirty and cut and alive. Sometimes, it feels like cheating to use a laser cutter and outsource pieces, and other times, it feels like a necessary part of evolution. I’ll never be able to afford the tools that I’d need to make cuts as precise as some of my ideas require. As long as something great comes out at the end of it all, that’s all I care about.

There’s this old episode of Star Trek : The Next Generation that involves (and I could be recalling this incorrectly) a whole bunch of special children being kidnapped from their home planet by a group of people who feels that they are more able to nurture these kids’ talents. There’s this one kid who wants to be an artist, so these benevolent people give him this sculpting tool that allows him to just think about the contours of what he wants to make as he passes this tool over the uncarved block of wood, and the image forms slowly. Ever since I saw then when I was a 12 or 13, I’ve always come back to that idea. How much of art is idea, and how much is technical skill, and where do they meet? Id getting stuff laser cut a Warholian answer to art, and does that cheapen anything? Is it a beautiful thing to embrace each new aspect of The Potential To Create and use it as deeply and intensely as possible?

I don’t even know why I care about these things. All I really care about is making neat things. I don’t care how.

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Eleasa brought me some homemade garlic soup on Saturday, and while I’m not sure if it merely coincided with the natural departure of the cold, or if it precipitated it, I was able to breathe through my nose for the first time in a few days. When she lamented the fact that she hadn’t been invited to sledding this year, we made plans to head over the to epic hill at the local Elementary School and give it a shot.

So, I loaded my niece into the car on Sunday, along with three styrofoam / plastic ‘snow boogie’ sleds and braved the cold weather. At this point, there were only a few kids going up and down the hill, which banks at a steep 45 degrees at some points, and hundreds of other tracks up and down the hill had solidified the whole thing into a sheet of dense, smooth ice, making the whole thing especially treacherous and amazing.

After many years of not sledding, it was so simple and exhilarating. Of course, my ample frame couldn’t manage to keep the sled going in one direction without spinning me around in every direction, but laying back and rocketing down a hill, completely out of control, but ultimately safe, was a necessary, liberating experience. I’m sure there’s a good deal of metaphors in there too.

Eleasa began to throw snowballs at kids she didn’t know, and into the cars of her friends. I continued to sled. I didn’t even have to lock my car or worry about my keys – we live in such a small town that everyone knows everyone else, and we are relatively safe, and I really love it. It’s lonely, but I love it, and this was one reason why. After, we went for a slice of pizza at a cash-only place around the corner and watched at the owner wrestle with the ATM machine so that we could actually buy food.

More art will come soon. I’m trying to feel good about relaxing, and breathing, and the art of doing nothing – but it always feels like the art of losing opportunities.

We’ll see.

I’m not going to lie. I have a crush on the TV insurance girl.

What I learned from reading Hi Fructose : Do what you love until it hurts, and then do it some more. This is the only way to true happiness.

What I learned from reading Juxtapoz : Go to the right parties and wear ironic clothing.

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