I started this piece the night after I met a girl in Jacksonville. She was just visiting, from Tampa, but we went out once before she went back home. Over the next few weeks, we texted a whole lot and made plans to spend a night together the next time I was around Tampa. She may or may not have sort of had a boyfriend that she lived with. About a month after we had met, I was on my way to Sarasota for the premiere screening of No Real Than You Are. I invited her to go with me. She didn’t respond. I tried to call but she didn’t answer. I don’t know if I did something wrong or if the reality of my actually coming around didn’t quite mesh with her boyfriend situation, but I never heard from her again. That hurt my feelings, especially since it coincided with similar developments in my “relationships” with three other girls (all in the span of a couple days)! This particular rejection was the only one I didn’t acknowledge at the time ’cause it felt the worst and struck me as being the most petty / trivial. On the one hand, it was really casual and I obviously wasn’t taking it too seriously. On the other hand, I really liked her! I did my best to not let it get to me but it made the next rejection hurt that much more.
Luckily, I fell in love with another girl a few days later and everything was okay again.
Some less interesting details: I worked at this piece on and off for three months because I just couldn’t seem to get it to look like anything I could be happy with. Somewhere in there, I glued some cardboard and a piece of a reflective sun visor to it, even though I sort of hate collage / mixed media stuff; I just felt like I needed something to sort of shake it up a little bit. It’s also on a small canvas board (11×14″) – way smaller than anything I’ve got any interest in painting these days, but the board was given to me on a night when I didn’t have a fresh canvas with me and I figured I’d roll with it. I’m pretty sure I spent at least forty hours on this tiny little thing – every bit as much time as I spend on my
huge canvas paintings. I got the idea for the pattern in the lower-left (“mummy”) figure after painting the white slip-on shoes I bought at Walmart for ten dollars.
“Don’t let anyone tell you you can’t kill yourself. You TOTALLY can.”
This was my last piece before I moved out of Tranquil Shores and back into the real world. Until that morning, I had been operating under the assumption that I’d be staying for at least another two months or so but – as I found out when I went into the clinical office that morning – I only had ten days left. I was really upset – kind of shattered. It caught me completely off guard. I walked back to the residential property, went into my apartment, and painted this. It’s only on my jacket because I didn’t ever have canvases at that point and I was all out of cardboard.
I’m not sure the sentiment warrants any explanation but it’s a play on the misuse of “can” (in place of “may”) and a response to anyone who says that suicide is wrong or selfish. I think that’s true in some instances: the moment you decide to have kids, for example, I think you forfeit your right to kill yourself. To bring another life into being and then decide, “ehhhh… maybe life’s not worth living after all,” – that’s kinda bullshit. But in my case – back when I was seriously contemplating (and occasionally attempting) suicide, I didn’t have anyone in my life – no one that I felt I owed anything to anyway. I was isolated, hopelessly stuck on heroin, and every day hurt. Living was reallypainful. I think it was my older sister (I don’t remember for sure) but shortly after I got out of the hospital for an overdose in September 2011, I got a phone call.
“That’s a really selfish thing to do, Sam,” she said.
Fuck you, I thought. “You wanna know what’s selfish?” I asked. “Expecting me to endure this kind of pain every day – to keep on with this shitty, empty life, devoid of any happiness whatsoever – so that you can call me on the phone two or three times a year.”
Obviously, my life didn’t have to be that awful but – at that point – I didn’t have what I needed to do anything about it. And while I’m glad I didn’t die, I still (basically) feel the same way. Things turned around for me but there are plenty of other people who aren’t so lucky – people who struggle for decades with mental illness and addiction and never find any kind of a light. Carrying on with each new day is a gamble that doesn’t always pay off. And while I’ll always try to encourage someone to try something different / take another shot at life before they throw in the towel, I still wouldn’t tell them that they have to keep going. There are certain people whose deaths would devastate me but I know how bad life can hurt and I’m not gonna deny them relief. If you can’t take it anymore, it’s your right to check out – and the pain others might feel from the loss isn’t on you. After all – if it’s more than they can stand, everyone else always has that same option…
Although – if nothing else – suicide is pretty dumb – and sorta lazy. The thing about it is that it’s usually the result of feeling trapped in some situation. Being afraid of the consequences of breaking out [of whatever position]. But in killing yourself, you’re gonna break out of it anyway so why not first take a shot at another route of escape? Throw some shit in your backpack, get on a bus to some city eight hundred miles away, and just see what happens. Have a fucking adventure. If you can’t handle your problems: DON’T. Quit your job, forget about your lease, disconnect your phone, and just start over. Worse case scenario: you’re still unhappy and you kill yourself a week or two later. But if you’re not determined to be miserable (and you actually make an effort / try something new) chances are you’re gonna figure it out eventually. I did.
I’d like to think I offset the gloom of this entry with a little bit of optimism, but if I fell short, maybe this’ll make up the difference. It’s a song that is totally unlike most of the music I listen to, is (in a lot of ways) every thing that I usually detest in music, but that (for whatever reason) has a really positive, exciting, happy kind of effect on me.
Signed and numbered 7½x12″ prints of “Suicide Jacket” are available in my webstore. If you’re interested in purchasing the original (jacket), get in touch.
Granted – I’m out of mind but, for an emotional basket case, I’m a pretty nice kid. I’m friendly. And because I isolate and know that I shouldn’t, chances are – that if you ask me – I’ll probably hang out with you.I have enough of an interest in people (and interact with them so rarely) that I’ll sit and talk with just about anyone for an hour.
I’m trying to eke out a living as an artist. That’s not the easiest thing to do and I’m not above charity. Last week, I saw some guy with his hands full and I offered to help him. It took me all of thirty seconds and I certainly didn’t expect to be compensated, but he pulled out a five dollar bill. I paused – unsure whether or not I should accept it. But I did and I thanked him. If he felt that my little bit of help was worth five dollars, I’m not gonna tell him he’s wrong. Five dollars makes a difference in my life and I was grateful for it.
I was organizing my prints at Sun Ray and some guy asked me if the art on the walls was mine. I talked to him for a while, he was friendly enough, said he collects art, said he couldn’t make it to the opening tomorrow but that he wanted to get in touch later and asked for my phone number [which isn’t something I’m protective of; I even have it listed, here, on the internet]. I wrote it on one of my cards and gave it to him. “I really wanna keep in touch,” he said. ” I can really help you out. What I’m really interested in is hearing more about your background, maybe over a meal.”
“Yeah, okay, cool…” I said somewhat warily, trying to be polite, trying to not be socially awkward. (I have a hard time knowing when it’s me that’s being weird). If I take him at his word, after all, all of that would be cool. I mean, I (CLEARLY) don’t have a problem talking about myself, I eat food, and I’m stoked as fuck to sell my artwork. So… sounds like a win? Even if his choice of words is a little strange…
And then I realized that I was falling for the same shit I’ve fallen for before. And I remembered something else he had said in our conversation that now made a lot more sense to me. How he was disappointed the last time he bought a painting because, as he put it, “I was hoping the artist would have been a lot more appreciative.”
Being put in this position sucks because it makes me feel like a prostitute. I don’t want to come right out and say, “Hey, I’d be happy to eat lunch and talk to you, and more than happy to sell you a painting, but I’m not going to have sex with you.” Because no one’s actually said anything about sex and it makes ME feel like an asshole for jumping to that conclusion. But I fucking know that’s what it’s about. And I also (unfortunately) know from experience that even if I do state all that explicitly, an attempt is going to be made to coax me into meeting up under the pretense of selling art and having a meal and then I’m still gonna get propositioned. And even if I’m not, I’m still gonna feel like a prostitute because it’s not really my art that the guy is trying to buy, it’s me (or my time or my attention or [whatever]). That doesn’t sound so bad, but I just can’t do it. Even without the bullshit art pretense. I know because I tried once.
The offer was a hundred bucks (paid up front) to meet at a Starbuck’s for a cup of coffee and sit and talk for an hour. I thought about it and – like I said – if there wasn’t money involved, I’d meet up with somebody and talk for an hour, so why not? If somebody I don’t know is asking me to sit and talk, they’re probably pretty lonely. It seems like a kind thing to do and maybe I’ll learn something. And in a case like this – where money is offered – well, I wouldn’t have asked for it, but if someone wants to give it to me, I’ll accept. It might not be as altruistic, but that doesn’t make it unkind.
So it seemed like the rational choice was to go. The only “why not” I could think of was that it made me feel uncomfortable. And when I reflected on that, it struck me as being somehow homophobic and I didn’t like what that said about me. So I went. I walked into the coffee shop and… turned around just as quickly, went right out the door, got on my scooter, and sped the fuck away. It was too fucking weird. I felt uneasy. It felt wrong or, at the very least, it definitely didn’t feel right. No one should wanna pay me just to hang out with them. I’M COOL BUT I’M NOT THAT COOL. Besides, this asshole didn’t even know whether or not I was cool. He didn’t know me at all.
I thought about it afterward and couldn’t quite figure it out – my reaction, I mean. Was it homophobic? My gay friends don’t make me uncomfortable. Being hit on by a guy doesn’t make me uncomfortable. Somehow, I’ve only just now arrived at a satisfying conclusion. It has nothing to do with sexuality; it’s about respect. I might be a self-promoting little fuckshit but it’s not really me that I’m selling. It was Traffic Street Records, now it’s my art, and (in a sense) it’s sometimes even my personality. (There’s a component of myself in all of it). But it’s not me. No one can actually buyme.I’m not for fucking sale.
Obviously, this stuff makes me a little angry but I’m still sympathetic. After all, I don’t think anyone out there is acting with the intent of fucking with me; we’re all just trying to get by and find some kind of happiness and we all act selfishly (to whatever degree) sometimes. But I’ve decided that I’m not interested in playing this sort of game or walking this balance beam. If you wanna buy my art because you like my art, that’s fucking awesome. But if you wanna buy it ’cause you want something else from me – with all due respect – fuck off. I might be broke but I’m not that desperate. I’d rather wait ’til I find a buyer that actually appreciates it.
If I didn’t make and wear shit like this, I probably wouldn’t have these problems but… fuck that. It’s my RIGHT to be fucking hilarious.
has borderline personality disorder and a heroin problem. In 2012, he got clean, discovered art, and traveled the country, painting and writing. Three years later, he went back to heroin and quit painting. He's currently hard at work trying to get clean or kill himself (depending on the day).