Check me out. It only took ’til May 17th for me to write my first blog entry in 2016. But… um… whatever, okay? Moving on…
When I stopped painting in January, I was working on a twelve by eight foot canvas that I had shared some photos of (mostly on Facebook and Instagram) as it progressed. It’s currently stuffed into a trash bag and I’m not sure what’ll ultimately become of it but here’s a picture and a little bit more info in the caption below.
It’s been four months since I’ve had my artwork and (five months since I’ve had my) blog as creative and emotional outlets. That’s been really difficult but I’m not ready to fill in all the blank pages that have accumulated since I abandoned this website in December. As much as I’d like to just spill my guts about everything – for now – I’ve got to leave the story of the last few months (and – really – the story since September) to be told sometime in the future.
That being said, I don’t want to feel like this website is just sitting online, rotting, so I’m going to try to start updating it with what I can more often.
I’ve been looking into new opportunities and hopefully I’ll have some good news soon. There were also some paintings from last year that never got added to the Gallery, so I’ll see if I can’t correct that soon too.
I hope everyone’s well and I’d like to thank all my friends, fans, and supporters for helping me along this far.
When I was first forced to participate in “expressive art therapy group” while in inpatient treatment, I thought it was a joke. “I can’t keep a needle out of my arm and I’m fucking dying and you want me to color?? You’ve gotta be kidding me.” But once I started to actually put a little bit of effort into it – and sharing with the group what I had made and the reasons I made the choices that I had – I got my first little taste of self-esteem. People liked my art and they thought my explanations were funny and insightful. It made me feel good about myself. Eventually, art became something I really enjoyed and – later – my primary occupation. Not only did it save my life but it’s my primary tool in maintaining emotional balance and it pays my bills and enables me to spend most of my time doing what I love most: making more art.
A lot of my work looks like a lot of my other work. I have a distinct style and I don’t really stray outside of the box too often. I’ve tried to experiment here and there but – when I do – I’m usually not too happy with the results. It’s only when I get back to doing what I love (drawing/painting funny faces with bright colors) that I start to feel better.
In September of 2014, my friend Paul paid me to draw something for him. He didn’t give me any instructions but I decided to visit a record he’d released when he first started his label, Radius Records, for a bit of inspiration. The lyric that popped out at me was from The Smoking Popes’ “Theme From ‘Cheerleader’”: “Every song sounds like the last one.” It made me think about how my art is all pretty much the same but how I’m okay with that. Just like how almost all of the songs I like (in the fairly rigid genre of pop punk) are all essentially the same. It reminded me of something I’ve often said when talking about music: “I don’t care about innovation or breaking new ground. A band can do the same thing over and over again; what’s important is that they do it well.”
It’s the same with my art. It doesn’t matter if I do the same trick again and again; so long as I do it well.
That’s what was on my mind when I did this. That and the fact that I had come to like my own art enough to stand behind it in spite of any criticism – but that I was still grateful to have fans and friends, like Paul, that liked and supported what I do. I wrote just a little bit about it on the left side of the drawing.
Every time I pick up a pen, a brush, [whatever], I risk failure, risk repeating myself. I’m not afraid. I like what I like, do what I do, and every time I pick up, I’m saying so. I believe in myself. But I didn’t always. Other people had to believe in me first. And if they didn’t continue to… I don’t know that I’d be able to either.
It’s taken me more than a year to write out the statement for this piece. Thanks for your patience, Paul!
On an unrelated note, my second NPR story of 2015 aired a few days ago, this time courtesy of Ryan Benk and the Jacksonville affiliate, WJCT. You can read or listen to it on their website.
I’m pretty sure I left Chicago immediately after writing my last blog entry. We packed up that day and were on the road within 24 hours. We came to Jacksonville, which is mostly where we’ve been ever since.
I started work on the eight by twelve foot canvas that I had been planning since Spring. I set it up in front of Sun-Ray Cinema everyday and work on it with a table of prints set up to sell as I paint.
November turned out pretty well. After not even attempting to make any money the last two months in Chicago, I started to sell a good deal of art and am no longer in the dire financial position that I was in when I left Illinois. My emotional state improved significantly too.
December has been kind of rough so far. I stopped setting up to paint and sell quite as often so I started to make less money and I started to not feel quite as good. December’s Art Walk in Jacksonville was surprisingly bad and the rain at Art Basel pretty much fucked that up too.
I also finally had my first run-in with some idiot who wants to believe that I’m a rapist. Wallis and I were out in front of Sun-Ray and some girl walked by.
Without stopping, she asked, “Hey – didn’t you rape that girl?”
“No, I didn’t.”
“Yeah you did,” she said, by that point already a ways down the sidewalk, barely within earshot. There was no use trying to argue with her. She (and people like her) don’t care about the truth.
Though I’m not sure exactly what it is that they do care about. Condemning me does nothing to prevent violence or to aid victims/survivors of violence. It’s a showing of support for an anonymous girl that told (or at least went along with) a really disgusting lie. And it hurts me.
There are a thousand things I could write or say in an attempt to convince people that I was innocent. None of that really matters though. There are only two people in the world who really know what happened that night. And though the news stories about the alleged crime are sensationalistic and factually inaccurate, the little bit of information that is publicly available is more than enough to suggest a reasonable doubt.
If someone wants to believe that I’m a rapist in spite of that, their belief really doesn’t have anything to do with me, my actions, my character, or my history.
This isn’t really what I set out to write tonight, when I sat down to write this blog entry. I just wanted to give an update to the people that care about (or take an interest in) me.
For reasons I don’t want to discuss, I’m less comfortable disclosing the more sensitive details of my life right now. (The reasons and details have nothing to do with what I’ve just written about). Suffice to say, in the time that’s passed since my last update, I’ve experienced plenty of highs, lows, and middles, and tonight I’m just feeling very introspective and a little somber.
Here are a bunch of photographs:
And here are a series of photographs to show the development of my current work-in-progress. It’s the biggest thing I’ve done thus far (eight feel tall, twelve feet wide) and I’ve been at it for about a month now.
If you’re in Jacksonville and wanna buy something, meet me, or just see how the painting is coming along, I’m out front of Sun-Ray most days from around noon ’til 10pm or so (unless it’s raining or I’m depressed or… whatever). Come say hi and then go inside and see a movie or get a pizza or something. Right now they’re playing Krampus and Room. Thursday’s the last night for Krampus and then on Friday they’re opening Guy Maddin’s The Forbidden Room and the new Star Wars movie. Oh – and on Thursday night they’re throwing a huge fucking party out back (in the parking lot behind the theater) where they’re gonna be recreating the cantina from Mos Eisley (which, for you non-nerds, is a setting from the original Star Wars movie).
In August, I was arrested and charged with a crime I didn’t commit. I’m struggling to articulate the effect that my arrest had on me. It stole my momentum, erased my confidence, and cancelled all my plans.
I had an exhibit booked in Seattle for the month of November. That was cancelled the same day that the news of my charge hit the internet.
Being out on bail in September meant that I couldn’t risk selling prints out on the street (since it’s technically illegal without a vendor’s license). And given the nature of the charge against me, I wasn’t sure it was a good idea for me to be out like that in public anyway – underneath a banner with my name on it.
Now that the case is over, it’s too cold here in Chicago to sell outdoors. When I tried last year, I found that once it gets this cold, people just walk right past me without stopping.
I’ve got no money.
It hurts to admit that. Especially now that I’ve just turned thirty. I suddenly feel like a total loser.
If I had turned thirty six months ago, it would have been fine. I had money then, I felt accomplished then, I had things going on back then, and had more plans for the future.
I don’t feel like I’ve got much of anything today. Consequently, I suddenly feel a whole lot older and like a whole lot more embarrassed. I feel like a failure.
I need to relocate to a warmer city where I can make money but I signed a lease in Chicago so that I’d have somewhere to live for what I thought would be a long drawn out legal process. And then the case was unexpectedly dismissed less than two weeks later.
I’ll leave anyway when I feel the time is right but I don’t know where to go. Like I said, my momentum is gone and my confidence is shattered.
In the past, I could just pick up and leave because I was living out of my van. But now I have Wallis with me and we need an apartment. She needs to be able to work and have her own life. That’s not possible when we’re living out of a van and constantly on the move. We need to settle in somewhere.
That job offer from Elite Daily came in at just the right time. It was right at the moment when I was starting to figure out what my next move ought to be. I was still all fucked up by the events of the last couple months but it seemed perfect; like it was maybe exactly what I needed. And it seemed to be going really well – right until it wasn’t. And then it was a huge disappointment when it didn’t work out.
I looked into the possibility of writing for another company but ultimately decided to start my own. Time will tell whether or not that’s going to develop into anything or just be a short detour in the path of my life.
My older sister just called in the midst of writing this post. After talking to her, I’ve decided that I need to figure this out and get it over with already. I need to stop waiting for things to work out and I need to just make something happen.
To that end, I’m packing up and leaving Chicago. There’s nothing here for me. It will be obnoxious having to travel back to Illinois on December 4th for the next hearing in my stupidly drawn out Adderall case from 2014 but I don’t want to sit here rotting in the meantime just so that I don’t have to incur extra travel expenses.
It looks like I’m going back to Florida. Sarasota-Bradenton to be precise. I’ll be able to work on Vapid Planet from there, Wallis and I will have a place to stay, and I’ll be able to make trips to other nearby cities to sell art every so often.
So I’ve been absent from my blog for a while ’cause some website called Elite Daily hit me up with a job offer and I was spending all my time writing stuff for them. It turned out to be a total waste of time and a giant disappointment but it did get me thinking that I’d enjoy doing some more structured writing than what I do here.
Earlier this week, I sent in résumés to Vice, Distractify, and Buzzfeed even though none of them are hiring for the position I’d want. Buzzfeed just hit me back earlier tonight and it looks like I might be writing some stuff for them on spec. We’ll see if anything comes of that.
More importantly though, I’ve realized that none of these are reallythe kind of company I’d wanna be writing for so – with that in mind – I’m starting my own.
Vapid Planet will launch early next month. The plan is to feature intelligent, entertaining commentary on current events; feature articles on sex, dating, and life in general; tons of pop punk/punk rock and other music nonsense; movie reviews; satire; and – you know – whatever we feel like throwing up there. Get in touch if you’d like to be involved.
I went to the VD clinic yesterday ‘cause I thought there was something wrong with me. I suspected that I might have been a bit hypochondriacal but – sure enough – there was something wrong. To quote the doctor’s precise and horrifying diagnosis, I was suffering from “a minor skin irritation.”
So that’s good news but it doesn’t end there. While I was sitting in the waiting room, I got to watch an educational video in which a cartoon penis rolled a condom over his body and then proceeded to lube himself up. I swear to god, I’m not fucking with you. This exists. Giant cartoon condom – rolls a condom over his body – and then covers himself with lube.
I made this painting over a year ago, in a state of sheer terror, while waiting for test results. Being back at a clinic yesterday, I remembered that I had never put it online.
Early in 2014, I sold some art to a girl named Rachel Rabinowitz in Delray Beach, FL. She emailed me later and told me that she was an artist too and that I should hit her up if I was ever in Asheville. Later that year, while in Asheville, Chris Spillane and I met her for coffee. She asked if I’d be interested in collaborating and I told her that she could paint something and then I could paint something over it. (That’s the only way I know how to collaborate; I had done it twice before with my buddy, William Somma, on “Limp” and “Yo – I Painted a Fuckin’ Unicorn“). Here’s what the canvas looked like when she gave it to me:
While my initial reaction to this story was the same as everyone else’s (and while I know that the price has since been rolled back, making this whole thing somewhat irrelevant), I have a couple thoughts…
How many people suffering from toxoplasmosis (which – my understanding – is mostly AIDS and cancer patients) are actually paying medical expenses out of pocket? Wouldn’t a price hike like this really just be sticking it to insurance companies and Medicaid/Medicare? Would anyone seeking treatment at a hospital actually be refused Daraprim on account of an inability to pay? (My experience with hospitals has always been that I’m given everything I need and then I get an insanely high bill that I just throw in the trash). And while I can’t find the article today (because there are about ten thousand of them now) I’m pretty sure that I read an article yesterday in which the representative of some hospital stated that they had already been in touch with Turing and received assurance that they’d be able to continue receiving low-cost Daraprim for low-income patients.
So – like I said – I don’t really have any idea what I’m talking about here. I could be totally wrong about all of this and maybe Martin Shkreli is a monster and Turing is the most evil corporation on the face of the earth. With that being said, as someone who was recently the target of self-righteous assholes all across the internet (who – in my case – really had no idea what they were talking about), I can’t help but feel a kind of empathy for Martin Shkreli and relate to what he’s going through right now.
I realize that writing even a qualified show of support for “the most hated man in America” right now is probably not the best PR move I can make but I still pride myself on being an open book and being totally honest and transparent about everything on my mind so… I don’t know – I just wish people would be a little more hesitant / thoughtful before they make someone the target of all of their anger and hate.
For the record, regardless of all the things I don’t know about or understand, I support the rollback of Daraprim’s price. Regardless of who’s footing the bill, I think that all medication should be priced as low as is economically feasible. And if it turns out that I have even less of a clue than I thought and that this price-hike would have hurt people… just know that I’m speaking from a desire for all people to be happy and healthy and treated with the same respect that I think we all deserve. This post is not in support of the price hike, it’s just a call for reason and kindness.