Category Archives: Status Update

I’m back

Yesterday was my first appearance in court since my bond hearing. The judge ruled that there was insufficient evidence to establish probable cause (to believe that a crime was committed). As such, the charges against me were dismissed.

There were a lot of reasons behind the judge’s rationale and (unfortunately) the reporters that covered the hearing failed to note most of them in their articles. I was hoping to get my hands on all of the evidence from the case and share it publicly, here, through my website. I want very badly to clear my name. Unfortunately, I’ve learned that I cannot do as I had planned. Because the state could supersede the court’s ruling yesterday (with a grand jury indictment) this is still (technically) an open/ongoing case.

So – as much as I want to run my mouth, tell the whole story, share all of the evidence – for the time being, I have to continue holding my tongue when it comes to that night.

will however be getting back to creating art and writing. I’m currently working on a book. I have a painting in-progress. And I’ll soon be sharing new work completed before this whole ordeal started. (I didn’t get much done post-arrest, save for some writing that – as noted – I’m unable to share for the time being).

This has been one of the most emotionally painful experiences of my life. It’s second only to the final (worst) years of my heroin addiction (2011-2013). The media’s coverage of this event shattered my reputation. The punk community has been especially awful in their reaction. (Not the people in the punk community who actually know me and know that I’m not capable of committing such an awful crime but the random internet commenters who feed off of shit and negativity and never actually contribute to our scene). If any of you are reading this: you’re a bad fucking person.

It’s been very difficult as late to focus on the positive things in my life but there are many. Before I was arrested (which was the same day I found out about the accusation against me) Wallis came to New York to spend a week with me. As soon as we saw each other again, we knew we didn’t want to be apart anymore and we resolved to work out the logistics of getting back together. It was just three days after her visit ended that I was arrested but as soon as she found out about the charges against me, she hopped on a plane and moved up to Chicago to be with me. We have an apartment here now and (even though I’m legally free to leave the area at this point) we have a lease and will probably be trying our hands at having a relatively “normal” / stable kind of life for a little while. She’s been a wonderful source of support and I love her very much.

Similarly, in stark contrast to the anonymous know-nothing dipshits that frequent the internet, there have been countless friends, fans, and loved ones that have reached out and lent support of all kinds ever since this started. Whether it was financial help with legal fees, helping me find an apartment, making sure I ate or slept, or just a kind word or two, these people made all the difference in keeping me relatively sane and stable this last month. When that first batch of articles came out (branding me as a rapist) I didn’t know if this was worth the fight. At times, I wanted very much to die. But I didn’t want to go out before my name was clear. I didn’t want people to interpret my suicide as an indication of guilt. So I held strong and kept my head up. If it weren’t for those of you that were there for me, I don’t think I would have survived. In fact, I’m almost certain that I wouldn’t have. Thank you. I got a lot of anonymous hate mail when those news stories broke. A lot of strangers threatening me or wishing terrible things upon me. I’m happy to report that love won out over hate.

There’s still so much that I want to say but – for now – I think I’d better wrap it up. Here’s a picture of Wallis and I outside the courtroom after the judge’s ruling. I wasn’t quite ready for the picture to be taken and am mid-blink but that’s okay. You guys know what I look like when my eyes are open, right?

court

 

My fucked up legal problem

In September 2014, I was arrested for being in possession of 40mg of Adderall. Adderall is one of three prescription medications that I take daily. It was first prescribed to me in January of 2005 and I have been on it consistently ever since. My prescribed dosage has ranged from 20 to 40 mg/day.

The Adderall for which I was arrested was in a bottle with my friends’ name on it. She gave it to me when I babysat her for two days, leading up to her entrance into a detox facility (for which I made the arrangements) on account of her problems with crack and heroin. I was happy she offered it to me because – as I travel for my career – it’s not always easy to get my prescriptions renewed on time each month. Finding a new psychiatrist in each new city that I visit can be incredibly difficult. Waiting lists for new patients to get a first visit are regularly as long as two to five months. I’m rarely ever in the same city (or state) for that length of time.

After my arrest, I brought in my pharmacy records, doctors’ notes, as well as newspaper articles and letters from friends and fans, testifying that – not only am I not a drug addict but that my life is built around that very fact and that I regularly help those still struggling with drugs to overcome their addictions.

The prosecuting attorney was not interested in any of these facts. At the time of my arrest, my own Adderall prescription was not current and it didn’t matter how long I had been on the drug or that I wasn’t abusing it in anyway, or that my life, career, and essence are diametrically opposed to drug abuse. I was offered a deal: “complete two years of probation and keep a clean (felony-free) record.”

My lawyer advised that we file a motion to suppress the evidence in the state’s case against me, as I hadn’t consented to the search which yielded the Adderall of which I was “illegally” in possession. If it didn’t work, I could take the deal. The motion failed, as the judge ruled that my friend’s consent (obtained outside of my earshot) was valid for the entirety of the vehicle in which we were traveling.

After that hearing, the prosecution withdrew it’s earlier offer and replaced it with “take the felony conviction on your record and either (1) complete two years probation or (2) serve one month in jail.” I requested a continuance to give the matter more thought. I sent in more records, proving that I had managed to keep my prescription current in the (now) nine months since my arrest; I had more letters mailed in – this time from family and people with whom I’ve dealt in my art career. I hoped this would sway the prosecution to reconsider. They did not.

On Wednesday, I went back to court resigned to accept the jail sentence (as probation would prove too great a hindrance to my career and the travel which it necessitates. Moments before I stepped into the courtroom, I allowed someone’s advice to sway me into choosing probation. I figured that I could serve it in Florida (which is still my permanent legal residence) and I had a few personal reasons to return there that I let myself believe outweighed the importance of career and travel.

It was so ordered. I left the courtroom and went to the probation office to sign up. It was there that I was told that my “residency status” in Florida was insufficient to warrant a transfer of my probation. In fact, I had no residency status sufficient to warrant a transfer anywhere outside of McLean County, Illinois (where my arrest took place). I would have to serve my two years of probation in the middle of Illinois where, needless to say, I would be unable to maintain a career as an artist. (There is no art scene there; there is no market for my artwork there).

I went to speak with my lawyer. “They can’t transfer my probation to Florida,” I told him, “I’ll need to take the jail sentence instead.” “Okay,” he said, “We’ll file a motion to vacate.” “Am I free to leave the county and the state in the meantime?” I asked. He nodded. “Should I go back to the probation office and tell them?” I asked. He nodded.

I went back to the office, told the woman at the front desk, and drove to Iowa City to visit my friends. And then I got a call from the probation office. “Until a judge approves that motion, we’re still legally required to complete your intake for probation,” I was told. “If you don’t come back and complete your intake by Tuesday, you’ll be in violation of your probation and a warrant will be issued for your arrest.”

I called my lawyer but only got his receptionist. He’s yet to get back to me.

I have an outstanding opportunity waiting for me in New York City right now. It’s one of the most important cities for the arts in the world and one that I’ve had on my list since day one. I need to go to New York and capitalize on the opportunity before it’s too late (which would be approximately two months from now). But – at this moment – not only am I unable to pack up and head to New York, it seems that – by Tuesday – I may be trapped back in McLean County for who knows how long.

In spite of this, I remain optimistic but my optimism doesn’t snuff out my anxiety, which is sometimes pretty overwhelming. This level of anxiety is not good for me. The last few days, I’ve caught myself entertaining stupid, self-destructive thoughts.

I won’t give in to them though. I’m going to be okay.

Hopefully, I’ll have a better idea of what’s happening by tomorrow or Tuesday. Wish me luck. (And/or buy some art).


Here’s a picture from the 4th of July party/punk show at the Cedar Falls Skate Park yesterday. I’m the one in the middle, clearly having the most fun, without a care in the world. (I’m actually less of a bummer right now than this picture indicates; I just wasn’t 100% comfortable posing for a photo with a bunch of other shirtless dudes, even if they are friends). I’m awkward. I was never in a frat. Whatever, dude.

Sammy_thrashLife_Cedar_Falls

Wallis is gone

I dropped Wallis off at the airport this morning. For our last day together yesterday, we went to the LaBagh Woods, rode the Ferris Wheel at Navy Pier, and walked through Millenium Park. I’m gonna miss her a lot. Writing this short blog post will probably be the most active I get all day today.

Here’s a picture from the ferris wheel.

Divine intervention and Milwaukee

Last week, Wallis and I got into an argument. It was nothing serious and we resolved it pretty quickly but it prompted us to consider parting ways. After all, life on the road is one thing for me but – for Wallis – it can kind of feel like putting “real life” on hold. She doesn’t have to work or deal with any kind of responsibility or – you know – anything. She’s kind of just along for the ride. So after traveling together for five months, it felt like maybe it was time for her to return home to Jacksonville and face off against reality and see if she can stay clean without me as a twenty-four hour baby sitter.

On Friday, I bought her a plane ticket for Monday afternoon (today). That’d give us a few more days to spend together, which is something we both wanted.

Over the course of these last few days, we’ve talked a lot about whether this is what we both really wanted. And it seems like our heads were pretty much in exactly the same place. We didn’t wanna let go of one another but agreed that it was probably time. Our feelings said “no” but we felt that, logically, this was the right move. Even still, I’ve felt sick to my stomach all day.

Just now, I took out my phone to check the flight information ’cause it’s time to go to the airport. I had a new email in my inbox: “Status change from Southwest Airlines. Your flight has been cancelled.”
There doesn’t seem to be any inclement weather anywhere between here and Jacksonville. I don’t know why the flight was cancelled but… it makes sense. It just sort of does. I don’t know where we go or what we do from here but… I guess we’ll figure that out.

On an unrelated/here’s-a-picture note, Wallis took this photo of me taking a break from painting (to brush my teeth) one night in the Iowa City downtown pedmall last week.


Okay, off to Milwaukee for Dummerfest.

Later, Minneapolis

I’m all done in Minneapolis and currently sitting in a coffee shop in Madison, Wisconsin. Tomorrow, I’ll try to make some money selling prints at [whatever they do in this city for Memorial Day] and then I’ll spend the next couple of days crashing galleries, trying to find a good match for a future exhibit. On Friday, I have court in Normal. I’m pretty sure, at that point, that I’ll get put on probation and have to return to Florida because that’s where I claim “residence.” I might be stuck down there, legally prohibited from traveling for a while. If not, I’ll flip right back up to the midwest for Dummerfest in Milwaukee, where I’m all set to sell prints while my favorite bands play the best music in the universe. After that, I’ll try my luck out with a few galleries in the city and then probably return to Chicago for a bit. If I’m stuck in Florida, I’ll start lining exhibits up down there, I guess.

NEWS… Let’s see… my minivan died and I bought a new full size van. It’s pretty excellent. It’s got a full size bed, a ton of storage space, and plenty of extra room in which to can actually stretch and breathe. I’m really, really excited about it. It makes life about twenty times more comfortable / less stressful. Here are a bunch of pictures from the last month or so.

Wallis, at the end of a particularly good sales day.
Wallis, at the end of a particularly good sales day.
In Jacksonville, for One Spark.
In Jacksonville, for One Spark.
I sold a "Shit's Perfect" print to a little girl with (apparently!) cool parents.
I sold a “Shit’s Perfect” print to a little girl with (apparently!) cool parents.
At that time of night when I no longer give a shit about selling anything.
At that time of night when I no longer give a shit about selling anything.
In Minneapolis, for Art-a-Whirl.
In Minneapolis, for Art-a-Whirl.
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Wallis, on day two of Art-A-Whirl.
The new van.
The new van.
Painting shelves for the new van.
Painting shelves for the new van.
The shelf Justin and I built.
The shelf Justin and I built.
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Van.
MORE VAN.
MORE VAN.
Photograph from the Minneapolis Star Tribune.
Photograph from the Minneapolis Star Tribune.
Preview of my most recent (finished) painting.
Preview of my most recent (finished) painting.
The top left corner of the painting.
The top left corner of the painting.

 

That’s all for now! Hopefully I’ll have all my new pieces properly photographed and ready to add to the gallery soon! And … um… other stuff too…? I don’t know. Just read my Facebook; I update that all the time!

OH! And giant thanks are due to John Schuerman at Instinct for hosting my first proper midwest exhibit; Griffin Snyder and Zack Gontard for putting me and Wallis up while we were in Minneapolis; Justin Francis for all his help not just with getting the new van together but the old one as well; Jessie and Annie for letting me set up at One Last Party; and Chris Johnson and Kelly Lone for letting me use their basement for storage!

Justin runs a screenprinting shop in Minneapolis, Tee Squared; highly recommended to bands or anyone else that needs shirts printed!

Minneapolis/Spring update

Tomorrow I leave Minneapolis to go back to Normal for my fifth or sixth court appearance in connection with my September arrest. I really hope it’ll be the last and I really doubt that it will. After that (aside from the time I’ll spend in Jacksonville for One Spark) I’ll be back in Minneapolis consistently until mid-May when my show at Instinct Gallery ends. The opening for that show was last night and went pretty well. I’m looking forward to reading some reviews this week. All of the press for the show, that I saw leading up to the opening, featured one of my pieces – which is pretty cool since I’m just one of nine artists in the exhibit. Also, tomorrow, there’s going to be a spot about the show on Minnesota Public Radio, which (I believe) will include (at the very least) an excerpt from a brief interview I gave last week. So that’s kinda exciting…

I still haven’t finished writing the statements for the large pieces I made late last year but I added one of them to the Gallery page anyway; it’s one of the pieces being show at Instinct right now and it’s called “The Last Unfinished Work.”

"The Last Unfinished Work." 12/24/14. Acrylic. 4x5'.
“The Last Unfinished Work.” 12/24/14. Acrylic. 4×5′.

At four by five feet, it’s also the biggest painting I’ve made to date.

Here are some more photos from my Instagram and Facebook in the last week or so:

Sometimes I take for granted how much I get to experience and see, traveling year round for my art career. It's snowy just outside Minneapolis tonight. Earlier, this same month, I've spent days and nights in Miami, Atlanta, St Louis, Iowa City. I don't really have a home but I've got a lot of great people in my life who make that pretty okay.
My buddy Zack’s putting us up right now. Here’s the view from his back porch earlier tonight.
A couple highlights in MPLS papers advertising the exhibit and featuring one of my pieces.
A couple highlights in MPLS papers advertising the exhibit and featuring one of my pieces.
Posing for a photo with my buddy, Chris (of the legendary Rational Anthem).
Posing for a photo with my buddy, Chris (of the legendary Rational Anthem).
Pete took Wallis 'n' me to an arcade in Iowa City, where the three of us beat the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles video game and became the undisputed ninja champions of the midwest.
Pete took Wallis ‘n’ me to an arcade in Iowa City, where the three of us beat the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles video game and became the undisputed ninja champions of the midwest.
I took this photo of Noelle, Wallis, and Chris in the midst of a super important conversation about blink-182.
I took this photo of Noelle, Wallis, and Chris in the midst of a super important conversation about blink-182.
Wallis, riding in style, a week or so ago, while we were staying with Mary Beth in Atlanta.
Wallis, riding in style, a couple weeks back, while we were staying with Mary Beth in Atlanta.

I’m not good at writing lately. I think I’m gonna blame it on running out of my meds. Maybe I’ll get better about writing once I find a doctor here.

The plan (March 2015)

I left Jacksonville last Wednesday and went to Delray. A friend there commissioned me to paint him something. It took about 22 hours, spread across three days. I haven’t gotten it professionally photographed yet but here are some images he sent me.

11042015_1038701916159865_49191688_n 11047011_1038702009493189_1227162768_n 11051449_1038701882826535_1168976934_nNext, we went to Miami to visit Wallis’s family, then crossed over to the other coast to stop “home” before leaving Florida. Now we’re in Atlanta, visiting some friends including my buddy Caleb who’s using his mechanical expertise to ensure that the van doesn’t fall apart in the foreseeable future. From here, we’re gonna make our way up to Iowa City to hang out with the Rational Anthem kids for a few days, and then trek the rest of the way up to Minneapolis, where my next exhibit is being held.

In early April, we’re planning to run all the way back to Jacksonville for One Spark and then flip right back around back to Minneapolis for the duration of my show there. That ends in early May, at which point I’m not sure where we’ll be headed…