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.
I painted this immediately after “Something to Cry About” so a lot of the sentiment is pretty similar. Unlike that painting, the journals on this canvas are clearly visible. Three in particular.
From June 21st, in Minneapolis for the CBDS show:
Some days (today, for example) I feel like I’m slipping. Regressing. Losing it. Getting less brave. More anxious. If I’ve already peaked, then you can bet I’m gonna bottom out like never before. I won’t live in the middle. My inadequacy and self-pity are really showing here. I know it. It doesn’t elude me.
June 22nd, still in Minneapolis:
I was driving so I had time to steep in my anxiety. And to find the perfect phrasing to express it with maximum, wit, precision, and insight toward achievement of my twin goals, as ever, of course: HAVE SEX WITH AND/OR BUY ART FROM ME. ‘Cause that’s gonna fix me. That’s the validation I need to know that I’m okay. Why have I been getting so down on myself lately? I’m scared that I’m in a rut – not creatively – but these last two months there’ve been no developments, big breaks, or major sales / floods of income. And it hasn’t lit a fire under me. I’ve grown weaker, timid. I hit galleries but I don’t storm them with a painting and my confidence. I meekly hand over a card – and only if they engage with me. I set up to sell prints but I don’t draw people to me. I wait for them. It’s the same lately with girls. I do the bare minimum to spark interest and then nothing. I let it go nowhere. Because I know that’s where it’ll end anyway. Because I have no interest in anyone but myself. I just want to be loved. I want someone to make me feel okay. (Until I get that and dismiss it). And the girls I talk to might love my art but that doesn’t necessarily translate to any interest in or affinity for me personally. I CAN RELATE.
Finally, July 1st, in Cincinnati:
I withdrew a thousand dollars from my bank account this morning to buy heroin and a gun. So you’ll have to forgive me for not giving a shit about the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby ruling.
Between their content and my statement for “Something to Cry About,” there’s not much to add regarding the first two journals . The details of the third probably warrant some explanation, even though I feel it’s so trivial and boring that I’d really rather not (but, consequently, feel like I should).
I was all set to join up with Rational Anthem as they toured out to California. I’d set up at their shows each night to sell prints, as a means to finance my own trip out west. It made more sense than just driving straight out and I’d get to spend some time with my friends. I met up with them in Lexington on the 30th though and – before the night was over – Hembrough told me we’d need to sit down and talk at some point about the logistics of our tour together out west. What was there to discuss, I thought. Rational would drive in their van, Spillane and I would drive in mine, and that was that. If they had room for us to stay the night wherever they were staying, we’d take them up on it. If not, we’d find our own place to sleep. I know I overreacted but the way Hembrough had put it (“we need to talk”) made me feel like maybe I wasn’t welcome after all – like I was some kind of a burden. It hurt my feelings at a time when my feelings weren’t doing too great anyway. He and Spillane are my two best friends in the world but it sounded like he was less excited to have me along than he was concerned. I suddenly felt like there was no place for me in the world. I went to bed, hoping to feel better in the morning. I didn’t. I asked Spillane what city he wanted me to drop him off in, told him I’d give him some money to get set up, and that I needed to “do my own thing” for a while. And that’s when I went to the bank for step one of my plan. Fortunately, it didn’t take me too long to snap out of it. As soon as it was time to actually make a serious move toward execution, I started to come to my senses. “Never mind,” I told Chris. “We’re not gonna go with Rational Anthem anymore but if you still want to travel with me for this art thing, you’re welcome to stay.” He said he did and asked where we were gonna go. “I don’t know. Let’s go buy some fucking cigarettes, get some coffee, and just see what happens.”
Nine hours later, we were getting ready to go into the Masked Intruder / Dopamines / Direct Hit! show in Cincinnati, to sell prints. I scrolled through Facebook and read my friends’ outrage over that morning’s Hobby Lobby ruling. It struck me as so tremendously trivial and absurd, especially against what felt like the now darkly comic backdrop of my morning. I told Spillane for the first time what my real plan for the day had been and then confessed to the rest of the world by means of a marker taken to my t-shirt and an Instagram shot. I started to feel a little better with my secret off my chest when who should walk up but Hembrough and Rational Anthem. (They had a show in Cincinnati that night too). We talked it all out, he assured me that I was welcome and wanted, and I went into the Masked Intruder show feeling pretty at peace with it all. The show was fun, I sold a few prints, and – after both shows were over – Spillane and I met up with the Rational and Dead North crews at some diner. As soon as we walked in, everyone sang “Happy Birthday” to me. It wasn’t my birthday; I guess they just suspected that I needed it. And I guess I did. It was silly but it made me feel really loved.
Rational Anthem are trying to raise money to buy a new tour van and are offering some really great rewards in exchange for your financial contributions. And if you donate $50 and choose “no reward,” I’ll send you a signed and numbered print of the Sammy thrashLife piece of your choice. At the very least check out the video they made, which I “storyboarded” / sort-of-directed via text message.
Check out their campaign and see if you can spot my voice anywhere else.