The main body of text says: Okay – so I’m makin’ this in the car so it’s gonna be sloppy. I forgot to get you a California souvenir but that’s okay ’cause I figured it’d be cute/funny to just pick something up on the ride back. It’s a keychain. I think it says “Kansas City Wildcats” but I forget and I might have lost it already, even though I just bought it five minutes ago. BUT (since I like you) I figured I owe you one better than that. And I don’t ever make free art for ANYONE anymore so I thought it’d be real sweet of me to do that. It’s fucked up but I already had the thought that – the next time I make a gesture like this (presumably for some other girl) it’s not gonna mean as much. [That’s the kind of thing you’re not supposed to say in a “love letter” / piece of art dedicated/for the girl you like]. That’s okay. That’s me. Maybe I’ll leave Chicago next week, maybe never. Maybe you won’t like me anymore tomorrow and it won’t even matter where I am in relation to you. Also, you’re twenty so whatever (“forever“). Here are some funny faces. They are SYMBOLIC of the crush I have on you.
After that, there are a couple smaller bits of text. First: This is more honest and less cool than it should be, so you don’t like me too much. But if that’s my intention, why am I making it at all? OOOOOHHHH – I’m so complex!
Second: Between this and the love song Chris and Mike are listening to on the radio, I’ve decided that the whole enterprise of love letters is bullshit. It’s all ego and vanity. Or maybe this song just sucks and I’m self-absorbed. I don’t know but your smile makes me really happy sometimes.
So there you have it. A Sammy thrashLife love letter. More about me than it is about the object of my affection but just charming enough to sort of perform its function. Equal parts “fall in love with me” and “don’t get too invested.” One thing’s certain: it’s definitely a thing that exists.
I wrote two journals on this canvas that I later painted over.
Saturday, July 19th:
I don’t know where to start so I’m just gonna let my pen not stop. Chris was being an asshole and maybe I played a part but I don’t think so. So I went into emotional shut down mode and locked everyone out and dropped all my plans for the night. I hid from my friends and slept in the van and wrote a letter to a stranger and now I’m on the street, painting and journaling about some shit that no one will find interesting. When I got up this morning, I went inside, woke him up, drove us downtown, got out with my canvas, and sent him off with the van. He probably went back to Kendra’s, where the two of them can talk about how unbalanced I am. Or maybe not. Maybe I’m not the center of the universe. (Yeah, right).
Sunday, July 20th: Chris has been traveling with me for almost three months now. He’s got three months clean that he wouldn’t have without me. We got into an argument the other night. He thinks I boss him around. I think he takes all that I do for him for granted and that he doesn’t pitch in enough. We’ve basically not spoken for two days now. He’s off doing his own thing for once. Didn’t call or “come home” last night, which is more than okay with me. It’s what I was hoping for. I think his stint traveling with me is over. Actually, no. He’ll come back around as soon as he needs something. Money. Cigarettes. A place to sleep. Nevermind that I could use his help in the meantime. But I don’t need it. I get by fine without him. Maybe better. I’m more productive. Don’t need to spend as much money. Maybe I take him for granted but I’m ready to cut him loose. He likes the lifestyle my art’s provided, traveling, but he hasn’t taken to being an assistant or manager of any kind. I can’t protect him from needles and drug-addled girls forever. It’s time for him to find his own thing or fuck up trying. The only person I’m responsible for is me. Anyone that’d fault me for whatever might happen to him can fuck off. It’s no stretch to say that I saved his life and I absolutely gave him the reprieve he needed to start fresh and make another kind of life for himself. And – fuck it – I’ll say it: he has a good heart and all that shit but he’s selfish and lazy. And maybe that’s ’cause he doesn’t care about *this* like I do but all the more reason for him to find his own thing and make his own way.
Kendra had gone downtown with me that afternoon and when we got back to her apartment that night, Chris was sitting outside waiting for us. I went out to get dinner and bought food for him too but still chose not to speak to him anymore than was totally necessary. I was being a shitty child and was totally okay with it for the time being. I was still mad. Because he was being a shitty child too. It didn’t matter in that moment that he was my best friend. For all I cared, he could fuck right the fuck off. I didn’t pull it together until the next afternoon. I didn’t want to be an asshole but I also didn’t really care whether or not he stuck around and didn’t feel that I should be making any concessions. The work that I ask Chris to do (mostly errands and driving) isn’t as fun as a lot of the “work” that I do (painting, drawing, writing) but I also spend a lot of time on more tedious chores like color-correcting photographs and formatting images for prints. And my work is the stuff that pays for all the pizzas we eat, cigarettes we smoke, and the cool shit we get to do traveling around the U.S. If there’s stuff he can do to help, he should do it. It’ll still leave him with at least 22 hours each day to do whatever the fuck he wants. I have a hard enough time having to ask Chris, my friend, to do things, like he’s an employee, and it only makes it that much worse when we have to argue about it. When Chris pitches in without having to be asked, everything runs really smoothly. When he doesn’t, I feel like I can’t ask him unless I’m using 100% of my time super productively. I feel guilty if I watch The Simpsons or spend time with whatever girl I’m seeing.
“If you want to keep traveling with me,” I told him, “you’ve got to pitch in more and, if I ask you to help with something, just do it.” He agreed that it was fair, acknowledged that he had been slacking a little bit, and everything’s been cool since then.
I’m uncomfortable writing about any of this and would have much rather just told the story of how our band, Shitty Children, came to fruition but that story’s already been told and this is what was on my mind at the “emotional peak” of the time I spent on this painting so…
Chris, Mike, and I are leaving for California tonight – for Awesome Fest in San Diego and for Shitty Children’s second (ever) show, in Pomona. Dave can’t come so Andy from Turkish Techno will be filling in on guitar. We’ll get to practice with him on Thursday, a few hours before the show but – in order to do so – we’ve got to drive all thirty hours, straight through in one shot without stopping to sleep. If you see me on Thursday, I might be just a little sleepy. I’m really excited and if you live anywhere near Pomona, you should definitely come out to the show.
Here’s a video of us playing “Rumbleseats and Running Boards” by Cleveland Bound Death Sentence. We played it worse than any of our own songs but – for that reason – it’s one of my favorite videos from that first set. I like watching Chris and me laugh it off each time one of us makes a mistake.
“Fuzzles” is the second painting in “The Weak End” series. It was a response to something that happened in the “rehab talent show” the previous day. The last performance was by the counselors, who put on a skit, in which one of the characters was me. Part of the costume was a shredded, sleeveless shirt with the words, “I Hate the Easter Bunny” painted on the front (that, as I was told, was their tamer/safer equivalent to something I might wear). So when it came time to caption this painting, I thought, “If I were actually going to make some kind of a joke about a bunny, what would it be?” And the caption on this piece is what spilled out of my brain.
I don’t usually try to be funny when I make artwork. I make jokes through/with art sometimes, but it’s never my main purpose. And when I do make jokes, they tend to be at my expense, poking fun at my real mental and emotional defects. This is somewhere on the line though between honest and silly. At the specific moment when I captioned this, I wasn’t feeling particularly happy or sane, so while I have never had a rabbit named Fuzzles that I put in a freezer, this is definitely a reflection of where I was at emotionally on the morning of February 16th. It was raining outside. I remember looking out the window as I painted and feeling lonely, unappreciated, unloved, and – kind of angry about it.
But when I looked down at my cardboard canvas and saw what I had painted and what I had written, I smiled. Art (even art that’s kind of silly) makes me feel better – about myself and about the world I live in. Life is funny. Life is fun. Sometimes it’s tough to keep that at the forefront of my mind. Fuzzles helps.
I get to go on tour with Rational Anthem soon. It’s only for a week, but I’m really excited. Especially since it’s around Dave Strait Fest in Minneapolis, where something like twenty of my favorite bands are going to be playing. And, the night that we leave, there’s no show, but we needed to stay somewhere between Sarasota and St. Louis. I hit up Stewart at No Breaks Records to see if we could stay with him in Atlanta. Stewart and I never hung out that much (’cause we’ve never lived in the same state) but back when I was running Traffic Street we’d talk all the time. I talked to Stewart as much as any of my friends back then. The last time I saw him in person though was Awesome Fest 5. Which was a disaster for me. Actually, like two of my last three posts, I’m realizing that there’s a story here that I didn’t anticipate. I’ll have to come back to that. The point is (aside from everyone else I already knew I’d be seeing) I’m excited that I’ll get to see him too. And not be a trainwreck of a human being, alternately high or sick, this time. And it struck me as really rad that even though we’ve barely talked in the last two years, I was still able to message him and see if he’d put us up, and he responded just as quickly that – yeah – of course. There needs to be more to friendship than a common interest in punk rock, but friendships that begin with that, that are built around those ideals… it’s a pretty great place to start. I’m grateful for punk rock, for community, and for friends like Stewart (and Rational Anthem)!
Here’s a song from the record Stewart and I split-released back in the day.
Which reminds me, I’m also gonna get to see Troy (ex-Creases) for the first time in two years. And I’ll get to see his new band, Tight Bros, for the first time ever. Twice! – And I just realized this is only four days away. I have no concept of time… ever. But I’m excited.