AHH, the Presidential Debates! CNN had a great pre game show with the speculative talking heads flapping endlessly about what ever it was that they were qualified to endlessly flap about. They went on and on about what each candidate needed to do in order to win the match- I mean debate. And so the continued coverage went on. I sat in my studio and streamed them on line, and I liked what I liked and i scoffed at what I didn't, just like everyone else in America. The debates proceeded with jabs from both sides zinging one another. Some funny, some a little too far, and some not far enough and so on and so forth. As a self proclaimed "smart dude", I felt like I had enough to go on to base my decision at the poles on Nov 6th. Yeah Democracy! The debates wrapped up like a football came would, again with the talking heads flapping about and each side claiming victory. I was reminded of the Jets vs Patriots game on Sunday fraught with so many chances for one side to claim the win. Lots of fumbles and recoveries in key moments of the game. But the thing that really sticks out in my mind about that game, is that, like in most football games, when a pile up occurs, both sides claim possession of the ball. Both parties claim victory. The talking heads were like lines men pointing towards their end zone. The similarity between the debates and football was simply a goofy thought for me... until the next morning when I had myself a hot chocolate need. Yes, I woke up Tuesday morning with a hankering that only 7-11 could fix. No need for the trendy, entitled ass clowns at Starbucks or any other coffee shop, give me 7-11. I can even but an Irish creme in my hot chocolate to make me feel all fancy, AND! I don't have to put up with hipsters or corporate high tech folks playing with their esoteric devices that I will never understand. I instinctively reached for the medium cup because, lets face it, the small is just not enough, and the large might leave you on the toilet for too much of your day. I pushed the hot choco button on the machine and the steaming goodness poured in that cup with the sound that we all know. As I stood there, filling my cup, I noticed that I hadn't gotten a medium, it was a special size that I had not seen before. As I investigated further, I noticed that the cup had a different look than the others that I had gotten use to. This wasn't the orange medium cup, it was a blue cup with the big words "OBAMA" on it. In disbelief, I looked down at the cup holders and noticed that two of the normal stacks had been replaced by different cups: One said OBAMA, and the other said ROMNEY. WHAT THE HELL!!!!!!? This is what our great country has come to, pulling for your favorite team in the election by choosing the proper coffee cup! No wonder the rest of the world hates us! On top of that, I got the shits! The presidential size is too much apparently.
There is a saying: "you can never go home"
This have proven to be somewhat fact this trip. Realizing that this will never be the place I remember has been a bit difficult, but somewhat comforting. Even further, I have now started to wonder if it ever was the way I remember. Was I just romanticizing the glorious southern gentile way of life? Most likely, yes. Here I was defending the south with intense vigor... "NO! It isn't like that Hollywood rendering! There is no more racism in the south than anywhere else. In fact, I would say there is more here in California that there!"
Perhaps I was right, but not completely. It is a hell of a thing to hear your family members, ones that you have respected all of your life, throw out racial slur after slur, especially in that southern gentile tone and vernacular. Moreover, it is also hard to hear no one, including myself, especially myself, challenge these statements.
I did go surfing, the waves had some surprising size, but the wind was up so the water was choppy. My old board, that I have had since high school, had no wax left on it, so it was a slippery affair. BUT... Fun in its own right as there were no wet suits to don or travel board bags to deal with. I just went, and got in the water, Something I would never do in the cold waters of northern California.
BUT! True to form on this memory altering journey there was another realization. While drying off and looking at the washing machine that was the Atlantic Ocean, A group of middle aged, sun beaten folks pulled up on a golf cart. Because, while it isn't okay to drink on the beach, it is seemingly legal and kosher to do such in a golf cart while riding on the same roads as cars. Not long after they pulled up came the cloud of alcohol. You could almost see it in the air like a heat from a desert road. They cheerfully and drunkenly engaged me in conversation that quickly led to the difference of the way I remember Folly Beach, and the current reality that is Folly Beach. When I was here, Folly was a turd. It was a great turd but it was still shitty. Now, someone has gone and tried to polish this turd. YOU CAN'T POLISH A TURD!!! The drunks in the golf cart argued against this profusely. It ended with me saying "well, I suppose I am always one to hold on to nostalgia." And a once blonde, perhaps once beautiful, leather skinned woman with a cigarette that was about a foot long said "well you hold on to your nostalgia and your ass and at least you will have something!" What really sucks is that she is right, even though she was a real bitch about it. I should have told her to hold on to hers and she'd have a lot more than me. But with an extra long cigarette and that sippy cup fully of whiskey, she didn't have any more hands.
In one stroke of redemption, the south is still a very polite place to be. My server at lunch today had a warmth about her that is the south that I remember. People generally greet you with a smile that always seems genuine, or at least that is what I am gonna tell myself...
Over the past few months I have had the pleasure of working on my first public art commission. The project is a collaboration between myself, friend and artist Ryan Carrington (ryancarringtonart.com), and the San Jose Rotary Club. The idea behind the project is "Children at Play". Not my typical weirdness, but a figurative installation non-the-less. For those of you (all three of you who read this) that find yourself in San Jose, you can see the work on permanent display in the Guadalupe River Park, in the section between Julian and St John streets. We installed the work a few days ago, and I must say, I have never been so nervous and protective of any other project I have ever made. What got me so bejiggety was that these were installed on what was apparently a homeless woman's property. Now the woman in her own right was most certainly not operating on all eight cylinders. I am pretty sure that she doesn't own any of the park. If fact, I claim more ownership because well, not to be a dick, but I pay taxes. I would be willing to wager, she does not. We first encountered her in the morning, just as we had set the last kid in place. She demanded that we take our statues when we left. She didn't want them on her property. What really worried me was that she or any other person who had fried the cognition out of their head with drug use,was going to attack one of the aluminum kids before the epoxy had set. So I stayed around the park for a few hours and took LOTS of photographs. But alas hunger struck and to Subway I had to go. I wasn't able to get back to the park until late that evening. I noticed that the pieces needed to be shimmed a bit so I went to work. I looked up and saw much to my chagrin, that the crazy lady was back and fast approaching me. I kept my head down and hoped she would find someone else on her property, but it didn't work and she came straight for me. She informed me very aggressively, that I should "take these Marxist sculptures out or that they will be destroyed if I have anything to say about it! This IS my property!" First of all, Marxist?? Really??? They are kids! Kid rarely have any political affiliation! I suppose it is a fool that looks for logic in the mind of a meth head. Any way, I told her that I was just doing my job and I would be sure to tell my bosses. It seemed to placate her and she left mumbling something. The whole encounter with her and various taggers in the park got me REALLY pissed off. It amazes me what society puts up with. Well, they made it their first night, and the unveiling the next day was a success! The lady must have had bigger fish to fry. They are built to endure and hopefully will. More images of this project will follow shortly. "Criminals thrive on the indulgences of society"-Raz Algul, League of Shadows
I just did a show in San Francisco. It was a one night deal set up as a benefit for the Occupy Movement. I would like to thank those who curated the show for my inclusion. The show was an interesting mix of visual, performed, and spoken word artist. I must say that while I do agree there is a HUGE discrepancy in wages from the supposed 1% to the 99%, I was left with more questions than answers after this show and almost turned completely against the movement. There was a lot of slamming of corporate this and corporate that. The corporations are apparently responsible for the ills that plague the world. The thing that got me was that no one took any responsibility for their roll in this financial cat and mouse game. Example... After a while I was tired of the slamming and my head was starting to turn to jello (green). So I took a walk up to Union Square where I found myself in the glowing light of the Golden Arches. "Sure, I could go for some Chicken McNuggets" I thought to myself, so in I went. I took my number 10 combo meal back to my car which was parked conveniently out in front of the gallery. As I sat there on my tailgate loving the greasy goodness of McDonalds, an Occupy affiliated film crew walked past me. One of them smirked and said under his breath, but certainly loud enough for me to hear "eating that Corporate food..." I was quick minded enough (which is usually not the case) to notice all of the Sony gear that the guy was carrying and retorted "like you with your corporate camera". He smirked in agreement and we cordially went on our separate ways. After that encounter, I thought about what I had witnessed while people watching in the gallery. Everyone that I saw seemed to forget that they are the other half of that Corporate consumer equation. If you really want to FUCK the man, let go of your I Phone! Let go of that Louis Vitton bag that you are flaunting! Hey guess what! That Prius you so gallantly rub in gas guzzlers' faces is made by an evil corporation!!!! The same one that makes gas guzzlers!!!! YOU ARE PART OF THEIR BOTTOM LINE!
It became very clear to me that Occupy is a trendy thing. It is always trendy to say "fuck the man" right? I wonder how many people stayed in the trenches for Thanksgiving and Black Friday. Kudos that those who do, whether I agree or not. At least you really believe in your cause, or have nothing better to do. Trendy people really fuck up cool shit. I would be willing to bet that only 1% really know what they were protesting or what exactly the were occupying.
I was out and about in Santa Cruz today. One thing I do when out and about is sit and people watch. Waste of time? Maybe. But it does provide pretty good artistic fodder. Today I sat on a water front watching passers by and notices a mass of women walking. At first nothing really struck me about these women, other than their, tour de force walking styles. About 20 feet or so away from me they stopped to talk about what ever. I noticed that they all had babies strapped to their stomachs. (which was sort of funny and ironic I thought) After a few minutes, as if choreographed, all the women started bouncing in unison. I didn't know what the hell was going in. I kept looking for judges or cameras or something. Then it dawned on me they were all trying to keep their kids settled. Seemed reasonable I thought, but then I watched the movements of the babies. They looked like they were at an Iron Maiden concert, head banging away. That coupled with the odd jig of the women, proved to be pretty awkwardly amusing. But the more I thought about it, it seemed very detrimental to the babies' brains. Then I thought is that why our society is so fucked up? Are we all victims of shaken baby syndrome? All in the name of shutting us up when we cried? Is that why we can't leave the flashing of video games and internet porn? THANKS MOM!
As I sat here, typing the previous entry, I saw a story on the news about a girl that disappeared in New Hampshire. A sad story of a disappearance in a small town. Of course the people that the news interviewed were probably the last this poor girl would want to speak on her behalf. The news have a knack for finding the last person you would ever want the world to know that you knew. Anyway, the story ended with the reporter talking to three girls. They sat there in unity in their bright pink shirts and exclaimed to the reporter that rain or shine they would sit their until they found the missing girl. Not to be insensitive, but wouldn't it be more productive if they actually went out and looked for the girl? They could still wear the shirts... They say it is the g
I was in a McDonalds today. This particular franchise was in San Leandro, CA. (For those of you who don't know, this is a great place to be.) When I walked in, immediately in front of me was a group of kids, not as in toddlers, but as in teenagers acting like toddlers. (This is how I know I am old, I am reffering to the "Damned Kids") I ordered my two cheese burgers and proceeded to fill my cup with the sweet nectar of Coca-Cola when I noticed the teens. They were very animated and loud, which at first didn't strike me as that odd. It wasn't until I sat down when they really started to annoy me. Let's just say they weren't using their indoor voices. I sat there eating my cheeseburgers and listened to their conversation. This boisterous chat the 10 or so were having was all about the greatness of fighting. "Fuckin fightin is the shit! You just don't even know!" exclaimed one teen. "Fuck Yeah!" chimed in another. The fighting part isn't what got me. It was the complete lack of respect for anyone these kids had. This place was full of small kids and older folks. There was even a lady with her daughter, both on their respective lap tops plugged in with headsets and all. I couldn't tell if they were working or playing WOW. There were business people in there as well discussing which part of the world to buy next as well. Part of me really admired the kids disregard for the world around them. I often find myself often too aware of those around me. I was already to get in on their conversation when I looked beside the small mob. There sitting alone and the booth across from them was a tiny lady. She didn't have food or drink in front of her. This part didn't surprise me because McDonalds is very tolerant of the homeless hanging out in their establishment. (They don't seem to mind these people belligerently demanding money as well.) This wasn't the case with this tiny lady as she was clean and well dressed. But she was just sitting there, with her hands cupped over her ears. I sat there and watched her for the duration of my cheeseburgers. She just sat there, with her hands over her ears. The kids didn't seem to notice her. I don't know if she was protesting them or simply annoyed as everyone else was. (Or so I presume). At any rate, it was an interesting scene. Slowly but surely, the kids' "rides" came and got them. When I left, the woman was still sitting there. with her hands over her ears. Perhaps she just had a headache.
Today, I took a trip to the city in order to observe the San Francisco art scene at the First Thursday openings. I have been meaning to do this for quite sometime now, but for one reason or another, it hasn't happened until now. I took the train from San Jose to San Francisco as I hate dealing with parking and traffic and other automotive pains in the ass cities have to offer. I took a seat on the first car and sat there waiting for the train to go. The train was empty except for the man that sat down right before the train departed the station. Of course this person HAD to sit right beside me... in a car with about 100 empty seats. And as luck would have it, he loved to talk. With in the first five minutes of the ride, I knew way more about him than I knew of myself at the moment. I sort of felt bad for the guy, but at the same time was in no mood to talk. I thought I was going to get a reprieve when a girl stepped onto the train. He immediately slid over to make room for her, you know, because the train was short on seats... She was at the other end of the car before he got the words out. I didn't want to be an outward asshole and just change cars, but this guy was driving me batshit crazy. So I began to fake phone calls. I had happy ones, sad ones, wrong numbers, all sorts to get this guy to leave me alone, My plan worked and the guy eventually got bored and changed cars. The problem I encountered was when at one point, I found myself actually believing, though only for a moment, that I was having real conversations. I was even reacting as if the other person was giving shit about something that I hadn't done, I didn't know what it was, but I was adamant that I didn't do it. I am not really sure how long I carried on this conversation, with myself. But at least the guy moved on to greener pastures.
This day was chock full of characters like this. Most of which were at the openings, which I had expected because art is a magnet for the socially inept and the emotionally needy. But the last place I expected to deal with this was the one place most guys go to to find peace- the bathroom. After getting lost in Union Square, I found myself really having to pee. I really hate going into an establishment just to use the facilities, but it was either Macy's or my pants, and it would have been a long train ride back to the south bay if I had. So up to the 6th floor men's room I went. (It seemed strange that it was all the way up there to me too.) I stood at the urinal, abiding by the man laws, (no looking around, only shaking once etc...) when a guy proceeds to break rule number one of the bathroom man law. This person talked to the guy at the urinal beside him! And the lucky asshole at that urinal was me! This man then started to point out that the dividers between urinals were all rusty and that highway restrooms were had received complaints for this in the past. This person was shocked that such squalor would happen at the Union Square Macy's. By the time I was able to leave the day's Coca-Cola behind and zip up in a safe manor, I had heard all about the improper condition of this restroom. I ran out without washing my hands to get away from this guy.(DON'T JUDGE!) After zig-zagging my way through the bedding department, partially to avoid this guy, and partially because I was once again lost, I saw the guy in the customer service area, probably schooling them on proper restroom rust prevention. Later on, back at the train station, I once again, had to pee. I spent the whole time in there looking at the fucking rust on the stinking urinal stalls!! Even worse, I was wondering who to complain to! Crazy is contagious.