Move It On Down The Road

Hello Everybody,


Bell Laboratories, early 1900’s.

West Beth Artist Housing is a complex of buildings way west in Greenwich Village, a short walk away from the lumbering Hudson River.  West Beth used to be the famous Bell Laboratories, where the first sound motion picture, the first TV broadcast, and the first binary computer were first demonstrated.  It was the home of firsts for The Future.  Those firsts are inseparable from the USofA’s movement away from being a web of isolated communities to being one giganto power on the world stage.  In fact, not only did Bell Labs help make us a great power of the 20th century, it also paved the way to our position as the first great power of the 21st century and therefore, the first great power of the POST HUMAN ERA (echo, echo, echo, followed by evil laugh, then fade out).

Bell Labs closed in 1966.  But soon after – in another first – it was converted to living quarters for the city’s artist population.  Little 850 square foot, cookie cutter studio apartments – very narrow but lengthy, with bathroom and kitchenette – were handed out to some of The Big Apple’s big population of struggling artists.  Thus West Beth was born, and gave life to those in search for the meaning of it.  For the most part, anyway.  It was a rather utopian gesture developed out of sacred ruins of American Industry.  Now, some New York artists had affordable housing and could continue arting with a little more ease.  Barton Benes was one of those artist.

Barton Benes

Barton Benes

I rode the elevator in West Beth to the 9th floor and walked into Barton Benes’ apartment.  My friends – Matt, Brian, Danni and Greg – from the North Dakota Museum of Art – were already there, packing up Benes’ things.  Benes’ passed away last year – aged 69 – and had bequeathed the contents of his apartment to the NDMoA so that the museum could recreate his apartment as it was in NYC, in Grand Forks, ND.  I was glad to be a part of the packing.  I’d heard Barton’s apartment was filled with all kinds of slightly to downright macabre artifacts and oddities from all over the world.  I was not disappointed.  Upon entering the apartment, I also entered –  at once – a museum, freak show, live game trophy room, arsenal, opium den, 18th century English library, mausoleum, apothecary – and a place with so many rat droppings it could’ve been a breeding ground for the hantavirus.

Barton Benes' apartment.

Barton Benes’ apartment.

“Barton wanted this place to be his life’s work,” Brian said.  “This apartment was his life, his masterpiece.”

We spent hours boxing and moving items to an empty apartment on a lower floor.  Each time we’d come back to Barton’s, we’d give a collective sigh, for it looked like no progress had been made, whatsoever.  The room was chock full of stuff – floor to ceiling.  We twisted and turned, sucked in our guts, squeezed in and filled more boxes.  There was a pressure to the room.  More so, a force emanating from all the nicknacks and from the eyeballs of the stuffed goat, bull, foxes, squirrels and giraffe – yes, I said giraffe – and many other creature’s that I’d yet to google as of this writing.  Everything pushed in on, and over us as if a crease in the fabric of Space had developed by our dismantling of Barton’s life.  I felt like I was committing a cosmic wrong – erasing a man from ever existing.  But, this was Barton’s specific wish, his last request.  After noting that fact – several times throughout the day – the eyes of all the animals would turn their gaze from me and back to the underworld.  The chlaustrophobic feeling let up a little and moving around got a bit easier.


The remains of the remains of Brenda Woods, of which Barton used in one of his works.

Barton Benes first made a mark on the art scene by working with cash – which had been pulled from circulation,  that he’d procured from the United States Treasury.  He’d shred or cut up the dead currency and used it as papier mache, to decorate ash trays, compasses, drafting tools, necklaces, etc.  The works sported the dollar – that we so slave to gain enough of so that we may be able to slow down one day and make a decision with the kind patience that a fat wallet allows – in ways outside the magic and sugary appeal it holds, and shows us God Money is just paper.  Needless to say, Barton did not gain fat wallet from those early artistic searches with the dollar.  Later, after testing HIV positive in 1982, and watching friend after friend die – he began using his own blood as an artistic medium, along with the blood of others stricken with HIV and AIDS.  He would fill his and their blood into water guns, blot it on tips of darts, fill up perfume spritzers with it.  When someone would die, he’d work with their cremated remains.  He’d keep the dead of the fallen living in his work as he, himself, struggled to stay alive.  I don’t know if his wallet got any fatter because that, but I doubt he made much, if any, because just about everybody – even New York’s art scene – were hesitant and fearful to exhibit Barton’s work.  North Dakota wasn’t, however.  North Dakota showed the blood, ashes and truth.  North Dakota looked Barton in the eye, and a fat wallet can’t buy that satisfaction.  A little fame did come his way, though, as he kept at it.  I’m sure that was a nice consolation prize.

Little drawers holding the universe.

Little drawers holding the universe.

Joan, Barton’s neighbor for many years, poked her head in on Saturday.

“I just wanted to see it one more time,” she said, with one of those sad smiles one earns from the passing of someone close.

Brian and I followed her to her apartment to help the super switch out Joan’s old air-conditioner with Barton’s newer model.  Joan was a sweetheart.  She showed us how she made great use of the limited space of the studio.  High shelfs and loft space on top of cabinets capitalized on the high ceilings.  But even for all the spacial utilization, the place still felt cramped, like a pen.  Joan was around 60 years old, and she had to climb a latter then crawl in 3 feet of space onto her bed every night.  Not only that, but at about 60, she was still living in supportive housing.  Wasn’t she tired of that?  Fortunately, I didn’t insult her with that question, because at the moment I formed it in my head, I realized I’d been the butt of a MAJOR joke…a joke I play on myself all the time.  And I heard the Cosmos laughing when I froze in revelation.


View of Greenwich Village from Barton’s apartment. See all the little strugglers just like me and you?

I – once again – had fooled myself that, at some point, living goes onto a kind of cruise control and smooths out.  That when we get older, the roads get less bumpy, and there would be less of a struggle – month to month would be more like year to year.  That there would be no mystery attached to the next dollar I needed.  I mistakenly thought that – for Pete’s sake – the world gives a body a break and says, Alright, old kiddo, that’s enough.  You’ve done good, now get outta the ring and relax a little.  Come, lets get a mojito.

I’m not naive.  And I know everybody’s gotta die someday, and about that, I can say I’m truly not worried – actually I’m kind of curious.  And, of course life is a struggle for all of us.  But damn, if it’s not easy to forget that the 401K, the full health insurance and the stock options come to those who take a job that offers a retirement package.  Maybe like those employees at Bell Labs.  Someone hell bent on artistic search can all but be certain that a comfy retirement will not be there when he or she can go no further.  And, from what I hear from my friends with jobbie-jobs that offer retirement benefits – working on their own masterpieces in their own way – the modest-yet-carefree-American-retirement is going the way of the do-do bird.  Social security will be obliterated soon, co-pays are getting higher, just about everything from birth onward is a pre-existing injury today – and as far as gambling at the stock market’s table, it seems only the dealer’s winning.  So maybe there won’t be a retirement playground for any of us.  I guess that makes all of us artists.

Only a tiny percentage of artists hit the golden lottery.  Movie stardom, genius grants, royalties to a #1 hit go to those artists who are bankable.  But most are gonna toil as they search for enlightenment but only find love and then realize that the two are one and the same and find it’s that realization that one really needs to continue onward.  Love tells us we need not fight anything or anyone, only search.  The artist who goes into the wilderness of reality and finds the answer of love, learns love’s lessons stone solid, and will tell you life was absolutely worth it – every thorn and fang.  But, oddly enough, the artist has to rely on survival instincts to the very last breath, when they cross over to the great beyond –  in bed, on oxygen in their narrow, crammed part of the studio, where the guts of the TV were invented.  And – quite possibly – alone.

Barton didn’t die alone.  He had a group of warm, loving friends send him off.

No cult of fame, here.

No cult of fame, here.

But a little fame or no, there were no candles, pin-ups, or crying teenie-boppers at the entrance to West Beth the night of Barton Benes’ passing.  He wasn’t an Elvis, or a Cobain, or even a Ledger or Winehouse.  He was just an artist and his apartment said it all – A life is full of twisting and turning through the dead and dying and sometimes it feels like its all on top of you – the sunlight fails to reach you and you can only see the eyes of the animals.  Then you keep going.

But death is not the end!  The North Dakota Museum of Art is gonna do what they can to recreate the great roadside carnival that was Barton Benes’ life – which includes a stone from Larry Hagman’s gall bladder!  Seriously!  They hired me to be one of the drivers.  So, I’ll be heading out on the road to Grand Forks this Tuesday, doing my little part for getting Barton down the road…and adding another road trip to my masterpiece in the process.


You GOTTA have a sense of humor about it all.

Be Well…

The Fading of the Ancient Screams

Hello Everybody,

Time Square in the wee-hours.  Desolate but still electric.

Times Square in the wee-hours. Desolate but still electric.

Passing through Times Square at 5AM is an interesting little jaunt through spacetime.  It’s like walking through a giant nuclear oven, left on by the irresponsible apprentice of Prometheus.  All the giant LCD screens are still flashing skinny models in bras and panties, skinny models in shoes, bulky sports heroes sporting giant Midwestern or Puerto Rican grins and reality TV stars now in their 16th minute of fame and “acting” in a Broadway Show, pursing their lips and inviting you – or whoever may be walking around in the darkest hour before dawn – to throw your hard earned virtual 21st century dollars their way.  Of course, not many people – excepting a few drunks and confused looking cops looking for something to do – are hanging around Times Square at 5AM.  I felt like a tiny byte of information wandering across a computer program in a sleeping laptop.  The world was still moving, but nothing was supposed to be happening.

Why was I at Times Square at 5AM, last Monday, you ask? Hello?!  I was working The Great Bridal Expo at The Marriott Marquis!  Why was I working it? Hello?!  For a handful of virtual 21st century dollars.  I tell you folks – as you well know- life ain’t boring, unless it is.

Actually, working The Great Bridal Expo really isn’t something to scream and shout about.  Me and some other fellas show up at 5AM, we check in with Walter, the guy who runs the whole shebang.  He and an 18-wheeler go up and down the eastern seaboard, setting up and breaking down the expo.  Walter’s a fellow Texan who doesn’t live in Texas anymore and we get along pretty well. We shoot the bull while we unload the the 18-wheeler of all things Bridal Expo, then load it all into one of the Marriot’s ballrooms, and finally, assemble it all – fully lighted stage with runway, dressing room, guest check-in station, and about a hundred booths for merchants to hustle all things big and small that revolve around the black hole that is the wedding industry.

Hey, I've seen it happen to  sweetest girls.

No caption necessary.

When it’s all up and ready, Walter strips down to his tighty-whities – in front of us, if we happen to be around him, or anybody, for that matter – jumps into a tuxedo and grabs a microphone. Not only does he assemble the whole shebang, he hosts it.  He’s all smiles when the doors open and the blushing, screeching, hopeful brides-to-be rush in.  He’s all smiles as the future luckiest-girl’s-on-Earth mill about the dress companies’ booths, decorators’ booths, catering companies’ booths, and travel agents’ booths.  Just when I think his smile cannot get any bigger, it does – as the estrogen cloud rises all the way to the ceiling of the giant ballroom, then falls like nuclear rain onto the shrieking, cooing baby bridezillas.  The falling estrogen has a curious effect on the mob – for the mob becomes one creature, as mobs generally do. One mind. One body. One insatiable craving to kiss all God’s toads to find that special prince immune to layoffs, mood swings, mortgages, smelly farts, toilet seats (Up? Down?), adultery, domestic abuse.  A gentle man.  A man who listens. A sensitive man that cannot be dented.  A perfect man.  Hell, a man with a cape.  The monster thrashes about like The Kraken in the Adriatic Sea.  And good ol’ Walter’s still smiling.

Believe me, I’m not against marriage at all.  In fact, as I await the “go” from Walter to start disassembling the shebang, I catch myself wondering just when and if I will be the prince one day.  Will I be a married man – that man who can steer his heart schooner into that elusive harbor nestled on an island between the seas of strength and vulnerability? I kid you not, I wondered about all that stuff as I gazed upon the writhing mob.  Then…I wondered what it would be like if a guy came barging into The Great Bridal Expo with an assault rifle.  I didn’t used to think about such a horrible thing.  But I do now.

Alas – at 9:30PM – The Great Bridal Expo ended.  No one was shot.  As the brides filed out of the building, Walter stripped down to his tightly-whities and put on his shorts.  It was time to break it all down.  Time for me to stop all the wondering and go back to work.

Yesterday, Osha, myself and a few friends jumped in a zipcar and headed north to Lake Minnewaska.  The frozen lake lay nestled on the Shawangunk Ridge, one of the northernmost ridges of the great Appalachian Mountain Range.  It’s really only an hour’s drive out of New York City, but getting out of the city takes about an hour, so it takes a good two hours to get there. But once past The Bronx, the traffic thinned and the lanes were wide open.  Soon we were off the highway, on smaller roads.  We were out in the country, motoring through one little town after another.  Finally, after scooting up a switchback, we arrived at the mountain oasis.

Frozen beauty.

Frozen beauty.

The lake and everything around it was beautiful.  Pine trees reached for the blue sky atop the cliffs, which dropped straight to the water.  The water was frozen all the way across, yet when we ventured down to the lakeshore – far away from any human sounds – constant cracking could be heard.  Not even wind – quite powerful atop the cliffs – could be heard.  Just the cracking.  I got brave for a moment and put my foot on the ice, then put a good portion of my weight over that foot.  It held and felt sturdy, but the cracking told me, You’d better move your foot, mister, for all things end…they all melt, crumble, disintegrate…no matter how secure and sturdy it feels.  Keep your feet moving, even if something feels that it will last forever.  

A little further up from the waterline were the bottom of the huge white-gray cliffs.  Wind, water and gravity eroded the cliff in such a way as to cause large squares of the rock to break apart at a time.  Huge slabs sat atop small slabs, and some of the cliffs rose at an angle greater than 90 degrees – angling out over your head by quite a distance, should you stand under them.  Huge stone faces – which I decreed to be the profiles of screaming Mowhawk Indians – appeared in the rock, due to the erosion.  They faced the lake and screamed.  For how long they had been doing so, I do not know.  For how long they will continue, same answer.

Ancient Stone Mowhawk screaming into Time.

Ancient Stone Mowhawk screaming into Time.

Back atop the cliffline, we followed the path to the ledge of the mountain.  From there, for as far as the eye can see, lay the floor of the Shawangunk Valley.  All the little townships that we passed through on the way to the lake could be seen.  One little town, then trees and hills, then another little town, etc.  Little towns with a few people playing out the huge epic of life.  A farm could be seen here and there.  It was such a godlike view.  I could almost see the little people living out the big movie of life.  A husband irritated at his wife for doing those little annoying things that made him hot for her thirty years ago.  An son angry at his parents, as he drove to the grocery store to pick up milk.  They didn’t let him spend his Sunday the way he wanted to, but he’ll still get the milk, because afterall, his ability to love started with them and no matter how angry he gets, his parents and his love are inseparable – will always be, no matter how cloudy or distant his relationship to them becomes.  Most of his epic still lay before him.  He will see things he never thought he would, get in situations in which he will have no clue how to move through, but somehow will.  He always will, one way or the other.  His love will most assuredly resonate toward others, should he not deny it.  His dreams are his pathway.  16 years old.  But this Sunday afternoon he will get the milk, and that evening he will break bread with his parents.  It’s not a bad deal, family.

God's eye view of America.

God’s eye view of America.

At some point, I foolishly tried to locate New York City.  I couldn’t of course.  We were over fifty miles away.  But it was a knee jerk reaction to try to find it.  That got me wondering again.  Why did I try to find it?  They don’t call it The Big Apple for nothing, but New York’s not bigger than the valley below.  Cities are big things, but they aren’t as big as the country.  Then I wondered myself all the way to the fact that most of the United States is still a bunch of small town spaced between forests, prairies, mountains and deserts.  Most of America is what I saw at the bottom of that valley, not Times Square.  Cities are the oddity.  Most of us are small town, or a product of a smaller community of people rather than a metropolis.  Most of us got in a car, royally pissed off one Sunday afternoon, and got the damned milk anyway.  Most of us looked out at the world as if it were a star laden galaxy, and ached to go somewhere new someday.  Most of us didn’t grow up in the nuclear warmth of one of those stars.  Nope, most of us had to be astronaughts.

Our shadows grew long – the wind blew harder and colder.  We made our way back to the car with the many and sundry people who also came to gaze upon Lake Minnewaska’s beauty.  Everybody seemed somewhere between genuinely happy and fairly content.  All seemed to be free of the tension that seizes the shoulders on a New York City block.  I didn’t wonder –  as I impolitely gazed upon them – whether they were from the city or not.  Curiously, what I wandered was whether they knew any of our nation’s servicemen and women who, while stationed in the Middle East, committed suicide over the past year.  I didn’t used to think of things like that, but now I do.

Fellow members of the Expedition.

Fellow members of the Expedition.

On the drive back, I felt isolated.  I was tired, we all were.  But I used the fatigue as an excuse to drift far from the car, beyond the head and tailights of other cars, beyond the bad-ass guitar riffs of the classic rock channel on the radio.  I drifted far away, all the way to the end of the screams from those stone Indians.  I can’t describe to you what I saw or felt when the screams finally faded away.  I just knew I had arrived at the end of something that we have been told will last forever.

A sign – floating independently in space – read “New York City”.  Osha steered the car under it.  I was back in the car, in my body.  Suddenly, the traffic was thicker, and grew more aggressive.  Cars sped around slower cars – horns a blazin’ – muscled into the exit lane.  Predators, preying as to not be the next pray.  The Law of the Jungle.  Moments later the electric mountain range of the New York City Skyline burst alive on the horizon.  The Empire State Building was alight in purple and pink.  The unfinished, new World Trade Center Building shone the brightest and towered over everything.  Then I found myself wondering again.  Just what, exactly, is progress?  Funny, I’d never wondered what it was before now.

Into the Great Beyond?

Into the Great Beyond?

Be Well…

We Used To Swing, Really. Come On, I’ll Show Ya!

Hello Everyone,

Super Mario version of myself.

Super Mario version of myself.

The huge glob of white paint got bigger and bigger.  For a handful of nanoseconds, my entire world – excepting the glob of paint – stopped.  I might as well have been constructed of marble.  I couldn’t move.  Closer and closer, fell the huge glob of white paint.  I watched, unblinking.

Then…splat!  The huge glob of white paint landed square in my left eye.  My first thought was, OMG I’ve been blinded!  Well, it’s been a good run, seeing with two eyes.  I’ll get used to an eyepatch in time.

I dropped the paint roller and ran to the restroom.  All I could see out of the eye was white nothingness – no shapes, anything.  But as I nervously, frenetically washed out my eye, I realized I was not in any pain.  That calmed me a little and after a few washes I could make out shapes.  Like I was swimming in milk.  A few more washes later, I exited the bathroom with no more than a reddened eye.  Vision clear.  Back to work.

I’d been painting the ceiling of the storage room in my friend’s office.  But I wasn’t thinking of painting while I was painting.  I was thinking of curtains.  Huge white curtains, waving in the air rising and falling, peaceful like…and reminding me of…um…what?

Over the weekend, I attended Ann Hamilton’s “event of a thread” (purposely lower-cased) at The Armory in New York City.  The Armory is, well, an old armory that has been revitalized and specializes on presenting works of art on a grand scale.  “event of a thread” was – it closed on January 6th – definitely grand.  For $12, a body walked in to the sprawling space to find a huge white curtain rising and falling in the center of it.  At the top of the curtain, one could see a complex system of chains – running through pulleys and connected to each other by wire – connected other chains from which forty-two wooden swings hung.  Couples, pals, loners, but mostly children swung on the oversized swings, laughing, arguing, coughing, spreading the super flu.


View from the floor.

All the while, the curtain rose and fell, for the movement of the swings controlled the movement of the huge white curtain.  Under the curtain, lay an assorted group of paying customers.  My girlfriend and I watched them lay about under the curtain, waiting for our turn.  Then, as we lay there watching the curtain flow – amidst the rattle of pulleys, chains and voices – a type of peaceful, outdoor, drowsy peace fell over us.  At least, for a handful of nanoseconds.  After those nanoseconds, we were quite aware we were in a large room in a large city with many humans and a terrible overpopulation of pigeons.  Oh, and part of the exhibit featured caged homing pigeons that were to be released toward the end of the time your $12 afforded you to be there – shortly after a female opera singer sang an aria from a balcony high above.  There were a few other pieces to the exhibit, such as performers – dressed in a type of woolen robe – who said nothing but wrote on parchment incessantly as a mirror above them moved also to the rhythm of the swinging customers.  Paper bags lay about the floor, from which a random vocal recording played.  I could see how some might think the whole shebang was an act of genius – a work of art created by it’s audience to remind them of who they are and who they are with.  Not a bad experience for $12.  But since the audience did all the work, I am a little confused over the fact that “event of a thread” cost over a million dollars to put up (I did my research online, so forgive me if I am wrong on the number, though I did read that it cost as much as three million).  I also confess that I had a tough time reconciling the theatrical additions (robed scribes, opera singer, pigeons) to the practical function (swinging and curtain) of the exhibit, which left me feeling a bit out of the loop.

But I tried to be in that loop.  As I lay under the huge white curtain I thought, Oh, this exhibit reminds us of what it was like to swing on a swingset in a park – to laze about under the clothesline on the green green grass in the afternoon of a deliciously innocent childhood day.  I remember now, when we used to swing free and feel safe.  And, you – laying next to me -don’t you remember what it was like to be just plain happy to be alive?  To inherently know one is forever connected to the world, its wind and the movement of fellow humans? Before we had our head’s stuck in smartphones?  I had one foot in the loop, and was happy to have found footing – to be a part of the whole shebang.  Then we get up off the floor.  I took a look at the others still basking under the curtain.  Smartphones, smartphones, smartphones.  Eyes on the hand robots, fingers a tappin’ away, sending sweet nothings to their bff’s.  Of course, some were recording the curtain.  A keepsake, to remind them always of the curtain they filmed, while laying under it, next to other people who filmed it.

We then walked up and through the balcony.  Smartphones.  Texting.  Faces lit up by the antiseptic glow of the interworld that can’t reach out and harm you on a real street – a world that doesn’t offer you the pain of love, just the miserable safety from it.  I took a look below.  People of all ages swung, one hand holding the swing, the other a smartphone.  I drank it all in and started judging.  Then, of course, felt the urge to pull out my own smartphone.  And guess what, I did.  But I managed to put it away right after I saw there were no new noticications on my Facebook page.

We left the exhibit before the opera singer sang and the pigeons were released.  Believe me, I like opera, and I also believe pigeons have the right to exist.  I just had a feeling I wouldn’t be able to hear the singer amidst the idle chatter…and, whether a pigeon is trained to fly into a coupe at the other end of an armory or not, a pigeon still has to shit.


There are no accidents.

After cleaning my eye, I went back in and finished painting the ceiling.  Then I moved to the walls, which were to be painted gray – which reminded me of pigeons.  The wall paint was acryllic instead of latex, and if I got it in my eye chances are I would not be blogging right now.  I would probably be trying on eye-patches.  I needed to pay close attention this time around.  However, I was daydreaming again in no time.  I couldn’t tell you at all what I was daydreaming about, for I was dizzy as hell and seeing tracers due to the fumes of the paint.  But I forged on and finished the job.  That’s what an adult does.  And I did a good job, because if I don’t, I may not get another job.  You know how it goes.  You also know what it’s like to not have those responsibilities, even if only for the few seconds of childhood you can remember – those few seconds of wind and sun and purity.  That’s what “event of a thread” did for me – it reminded me of things I should always remember.

But the dizzy high soon gave way to intense anger.  My arms were tired, my neck was burned with soreness, I had a headache.  But I wasn’t mad at any of that.  I was mad at the Art world for supporting million dollar projects where an audiences members pay for to masturbate in front of each other.  I was mad because million dollar Art projects only lead to other million dollar Art projects for once the ceiling has been raised you have to keep  it raised or else the big money funding doesn’t come around next year.  I was mad because so much money gets wasted on a handful of “geniuses” while more and more artists -singers, dancers, painters, actors, musicians, chainsaw sculptors and glass blowers who just want the chance to do their thing, to make themselves known to others as artists – will remain in the shadows of the wall built around the world of artistic opportunity, constructed of capital and built by elitists.  I was mad because Art absolutely cannot cost 1 to 3 million dollars.  Art is not Wall Street, Art is not Capitalism.  Art is not the survival of the fittest.  Art – for the love of god – is a search, where we get up on our tippy toes, reach outside of our base human nature with hope and faith of touching on the divine.  Every now and then one of us does that, and he or she propels our species foward, closer to Love and Freedom and a little futher away from the Law of the Jungle.  Money does not do that.  Money keeps us in the Jungle.


Symphony of anger brough about by acryllic fume hallucination.

Damn, was I mad, so mad I had to take a break from painting.  During my break, I noticed a few thin areas on the wall, and realized getting mad on the clock leads to bad results which may factor in my getting the next job or not.  I stuck a sock in my brainmouth and went back to work.

I should take this time to tell you that my friend and his partner – whose storage space I was painting – run a gay porn production company.  They don’t make Art and they know it – just gay porn.  But gay porn is an honest business,  It denies not its direct relationship to capitalism and adheres to the dictates of it:  do whatever you gotta do to make a lot.  The business is booming.  And…

“It’s gotta be More and it’s gotta be Now,” my friend told me.  “The business moves so fast.  We have to keep topping what we’ve done, and it has to be up to date.  A movie that is a few years old is a dinosaur.”

I have to say I don’t know how the gay porn industry can top itself right now.  I’ve seen things.  Things I can’t explain – seen the body do things.  And I’ve only glanced at the covers.  I haven’t slid a dvd into the welcoming slot of a dvd player, found the play button which reveals the magic of the union.  I may never get the chance, because…


Successful business model in the Law of the Jungle.

“Of course,” friend continued, “the peep theatres and smut stores are closing down, one after the other.  Everything’s going online.  Most of our business comes from our website.  Pretty soon we won’t even bother with dvd’s.

What?!  Not hard copies of gay porn?!  Or, even straight porn, for that matter?!  Pretty soon we can only get it on the interweb?!  Hell, with the way it’s goin’, pretty soon we won’t even be having sex, the gays or the straights!  Well, maybe that makes sense.   Afterall, we have to be reminded of what it’s like to swing on an afternoon.  Humans are becoming a less active species, living more in a world in our head, accessed via our fingertips.  We may very well have to be reminded of what sex used to be like.  Sex – the ultimate act of pleasure.  Without it, no life, no ceilings to paint.

Hey, I didn't say I didn't enjoy it.  Come on, I'll show ya' how it's done.

Come on, I’ll show ya’ how it’s done.

But hey, I’m not self-righteous, I promise you I’m not.  I am a Capitalist, as much as I hate to admit it.  I am a Capitalist, simply by living in a Capitalist state.  Give me a million bucks and I’ll show you what sex used to be like.  Beats breaking my back painting ceilings.  Hell, for three million bucks and I’ll do it with a smile on my face.  Don’t worry, I’m harmless.  You won’t even have to come near me.  Just stream it on your smartphone.

To my fellow pornographic Capitalists reaching beyond his or her humanity for just the slightest possibility of touching the divine…be well.

Texas and Nova Scotia at the Same Time?

Hello Everyone,

The darkness beyond the pure.

The darkness beyond the pure.

Snowflakes started falling around 2AM.  We’d been lucky for the most part, keeping just ahead of the winter storm as my girlfriend, Osha, and I drove through New England and New Brunswick, Canada – even with a 30 minute delay at customs.  But the storm caught up with us in Nova Scotia.  Both of us thought it would be a good idea to fill up on gas and get a few groceries before we headed out to the cabin on the Bay of Fundy.  We exited off Canada’s Highway 101 at the only gas station we’d seen in at least an hour.  We thought we had plenty of time, for the cabin – Osha rented the place dirt cheap through AirBnB, an awesome website where people rent out cabins, or houses or apartments to travelers – was only about 15 miles away.  Ok, ok, the cabin was only about 22 kilometers away.

With a full tank of gas and a full bag of junkfood and bananas, I steered the rental car toward the 101 on-ramp.  I’d been behind the wheel for 15 plus hours.  My previous record was 17 hours – a jag between Los Angeles and Fort Stockton, Texas.  I thought I was quite alert, despite the hour, and had resigned to the assumed fact that I would not break my driving record this time around – unless Canada used a different unit of time measurement, too.  But alas, that was not so.  Canada is so much more like us than not, it turns out.

We motored onto the 101 and into a much different scenario than only minutes before.  The highway was almost completely white.  Solid white winds pushed our car toward the median.  I could barely see the lines of the road.  I leaned forward – shoulders incredibly tense, face poised like a hawk’s – tracking the road as if it was a snake in a field.  I slowed to about 20 kilos an hour.  Then 10.  More tension, eyes unblinking.  Osha was as still and silent as a statue.  But what the hell, a warm bed was only a handful of kilos away.  I was sure we’d make it.

We turned off the 101 into the little town of Berwick.  The snow was a solid 6 inches deep, falling in less than a half-hour.  We crept like a turtle through the town and onto the mountain pass that would take us up, over, then down to that warm bed.  I wanted to speed up.  Creeping along only got me pure, padded room nervous.  But I couldn’t see the road anymore, so I inched the car along.  We began to ascend the pass – our headlights flashed into space, but were cut off by the whiteness of the storm.  The winds angrily rocked us.  10 kilo’s and hour.  8.  5.  We took a sharp turn on a switchback and the car’s wheels spun on ice.Osha

“It’s time to turn around,” said.

Damn.  5 miles away.  I think that is 9 kilo’s, maybe.  Anyone?


Countries that use the Metric System are green. Countries that use the Standard System in gray.

We were both pretty rattled as we got back on the 101 and headed toward the nearest hotel, which by my calculations – providing my grasp of the conversion formula to reconcile metric to standard was accurate – would take us about forty-five minutes.  We crept along the highway’s corridor, everything out the window was white, except for the very unsettling blackness of blizzard night beyond the mounting snow.  A plow truck passed us on our side of the road.  Shortly after, I could no longer tell if I was going straight.  Osha thought we might be in the field.  Then it happened.  0 KPH (0 MPH).

We gambled and turned around.  The plow’s tracks were instantly snowed over but we could just make out its tail-lights.  We followed the plow until it stopped and the driver told us he couldn’t go any further.  He turned around and we followed him to the Berwick exit, then inched our way to a gas station there.  There, we parked the car, pulled out the sleeping bag, and watched the snow cover the car.  It was 4:30AM when I killed the engine.  I’d been behind the wheel for 17 hours and 30 minutes.  A new personal best.

We would run the car for 30 minutes, then kill it for 30 minutes.  In those intervals I would move about in that incredible world between waking and dreaming.  I couldn’t tell you at all what I dreamed about – the visions disappeared the moment I would shake awake – but I can say that I got really homesick in those dark early hours.  Just a few days earlier I was in Texas with my mother and sisters for Christmas.  I wore cut-offs and t-shirts down there.  The lowest it got was 27 degrees, but it would warm up to 65 degrees or higher.  During the day’s drive to Nova Scotia, it never got higher than 27 degrees – Fahrenheit, I don’t even want to attempt converting it to Celsius.

Visualization of my fear of being a little bit country and a little bit rock-n-roll.

Visualization of my fear of being a little bit country and a little bit rock-n-roll.

I couldn’t feel farther away from Texas than I did in that car.  I’m finding I long for Texas more and more as I get older.  I feel at ease there, more than I do anywhere else.  It is where my feet first hit the ground and I accept, totally, my Texas-hood.  I like telling people I’m from Texas.  I believe I have accepted who I am.  The snow had long since covered the windshield when I grew very unsettled over the fact that I can miss my home but not want to live there.  It was just another of what I thought was a crippling amount of contradictions in my life.  I grew up shy but desperate for attention.  I loved to read but hated to sit still.  I ate a lot, but never gained weight.  I ate a lot but only ate a few different things.  I stayed up late, and stayed on my feet all day.  I drank but I didn’t want to.  I loved country music and rock-n-roll equally, but would never listen to them at the same time.  I honestly felt I was breaking some fundamental law of the Universe when I did.  The latest contradiction was that I live a charmed life in New York City with all the comforts of home – a life filled with love and friends, where I thrive on my capabilities, day to day.  But something just won’t let me call it home.  Texas is home, will always be home, but if it is, then…then it all begins again.  Round and round.

Contradictions made me crazy and immobile.  I was never able to commit to anything or anyone.  The snow-covered car was a cocoon and inside it all those contradictions  incubated and grew into the old monsters I’m very used to.  They don’t stalk me like they used to, but they get real hard to hide from in a rental car.  And it doesn’t get any easier to tell the girl sitting next to you that the monsters are in the car, so I kept them to myself as the wind pushed us like waves battering a boat at sea.

Morning came and in its gray light the storm looked less formidable.  The snow was pure, free of the night’s darkness, and the hope of the new day banished the monsters to the forgetting place.  Osha called Kevin, the owner of the cabin, who insisted on coming to get us.  When he got there, he told us we could stay with him and his wife at their home, but…

Tide rolling in at the Bay Of Fundy, 40 feet below us.

Tide rolling in at the Bay Of Fundy, 40 feet below us.

“I tell ya, if you we can get to the cabin, I really think you guys should stay there.  It’s warm, and you’ll get a pretty good show.”

Kevin took us in his 4-wheel drive up and over the mountain, then down past the fishing village of Harbourville, then finally to his cabin, which stood 100 yards from a 50 foot drop off to the waterline.  That is, the waterline at low tide.

“The tide’ll come in at around 1PM.  Yeah, with the winds the way the are, you should really get good a show.”

Kevin built the cabin.  He and his wife, Karen, are born and bred Nova Scotians and have never really desired to live anywhere else.

Osha and Kevin, instant friends.

Osha and Kevin, instant friends.

“I mean, there’s struggles everywhere, but we have a happy life here.  Now that the kids are grown and we have this cabin, we get to meet and spend time with a lot of different people.  Americans and people from all over come to the cabin.  We got a lot of stories and have had some laughs, let me tell you.  They way I see it, you live 70 years if your lucky.  To live that long without laughin’ most of the time…well, it’s just not worth it.”

Kevin told us to make the cabin our home and that he’d come back to get us when we wanted him to.  Osha and I were exhausted, but after rallying our energy we bundled up and went to the shoreline.  The tide was coming into the Bay of Fundy, wildly.  The seas were about 10 feet and waves pummeled the rocks, shot up into the sky, then sprayed us when they caught the wind.  Salt and ice filled the air and forced its way into our lungs.  But when we took a walk to the village, we were protected from the wind by a bluff, and that silence which always follows a heavy snowfall was palpable.  If felt like we were the only two people on the planet.  The only sound being our footsteps on the snow.

A couple of hours later, Osha and I watched – from inside the cabin – the Bay of Fundy writhe like an ocean in a Greek epic.  The Bay of Fundy has the greatest tidal range on the planet – 53 feet in some areas.  It was a 40 foot difference in front of the cabin.  Earlier that morning, we could see several hundred yards out.  That night, it looked like the waters would breach the cliff’s top.  But Kevin said they wouldn’t, and he had earned our trust just after he hugged before even saying a word that morning.  Anyway, the sun set and moments later the view out the cabin’s window was black – so black it’s hard to believe anything existed out the window.  But tide’s roll in and out in the blackness just like early morning life crises – the only difference being that tide’s are necessary events upon which life as we know it is contingent – not wastes of time, like the latter.

Bay of Fundy at low tide.

Bay of Fundy at low tide.

The next morning – at low tide – Osha and I walked out among the rocks on the exposed floor of the Bay of Fundy.  Leaning into the brutal wind, we walked about large granite boulders scattered about the bay’s bottom.  The were gray – salt-cured – on the outside, but shone bright pink where pieces were recently broken off.  In between the boulders was a fine layer of granite pebbles, produced by water and an inconceivable amount of time.  Tide in, tide out.  Boulders to pebbles.  I looked out as far as I could see.  The seas were choppy but I badly wanted to get into a boat and keep going.  But then – out of nowhere – I felt homesick again.  Why did I feel so homesick as I looked out at a part of the world I’d never seen before?  But why did I also desire to hit the open sea and seek – forever if necessary – to find that one place the mapmaker’s haven’t found?  Dammit.  Am I the sailor or the homebody?  Who do I want to be?

Wise Words.

Wise Words.

Osha and I split the driving on the way back to the States.  I like to be on the road.  Movement equals freedom, to me.  But my homesickness and wanderlust tugged at each other for some time, as we motored through Canada and toward the USofA.  I finally told Osha about it, and of a few other contradictions, while I was at it.  I’ve always wanted a home.  I’ve always wanted to roam as far away as I can.  Maybe the answer is to find a place somwhere in the middle.  Maybe that’s the trick.  When I finally stopped talking, Osha looked toward me and said,

“Or maybe it’s to be both at the same time.”

Be well…