Tag Archives: May 2013

Whatevermind II (Pinkhairdontcare)

"Pinkhairdontcare." 5/12/13. Pen. 8x10".
“Whatevermind II (Pinkhairdontcare).” 5/12/13. Pen. 8×10″.

I shipped out the inserts for Rational Anthem’s Whatevermind LP this morning. Pictured above is the art that I made for those after I decided that my first attempt didn’t quite match the themes of the album.  The band should have the records for sale in time for Pre-Fest next week). “Pinkhairdontcare” is what some little girl nicknamed me while I was filming “No Real Than You Are” (or so I’m told). It was also the caption Van used when he posted his portrait of me on Facebook. My character wears a Rational Anthem shirt in most of his scenes so… – seems like an appropriate title.

Portrait by Van Jazmin.
Portrait by Van Jazmin.

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underwear_that_is_orangeToday’s been really pleasant. After the post office, I came back home to find a package from a friend, waiting by my door. Aside from the book and the “underwear that is orange,” it had a really nice card/letter. I also got a check in the mail and (now that my bank finally has a branch in this city) I was able to go deposit it. As you could probably tell from my newest painting, financial panic was starting to set in these last couple days. Yesterday, were I to set aside the money I’d need to pay my bills on the first of the month, I’d only have had five dollars to spare. And yet, one day later, I have enough of a cushion that I should be okay. I definitely still need to figure out some ways to branch out and sell more artwork because my current “situation” definitely isn’t sustainable but  I think things are gonna be alright (even if I don’t have any evidence to support that proposition!)

(I came up with an idea last night – something I’m planning on ending my entries with… While some people might find it objectionable, I’ve given it some thought and I’m comfortable with it. It won’t change the fact that I still need to “branch out” and reach a bigger audience, but it does have some potential to help facilitate that).

But anyway, riding around town, running errands – the weather’s nice, people are nice (they smile at me) – life is good. I was listening to Against Me! and it occurred to me that their strongest material is probably the stuff they recorded for Fat, which happens to be the period in which I paid them the least attention.

For example, is there any better sentence fragment than “…if this is how I communicate and demonstrate a love of life…” – from “T.S.R. (This Shit Rules)?”

And while I think their weakest releases (outside of the really early demos) are New Wave and (to a lesser extent) White Crosses, there are a handful of really strong songs there. I remember when WC came out, Taylor fucking hated whenever I’d listen to “Bamboo Bones,” mostly on account of the lyric, “what God doesn’t give to you, you’ve got to go and get for yourself.” I found it amusing – not because I wasn’t equally put off by all things even remotely religious or spiritual at the time – just because it was so against the grain. (I like anything that fucks with people just a little bit). It’s kind of brave in that sense: to sing about “God,” in that way, in a band with an audience like Against Me!’s. I don’t know what meaning the songwriter attaches to the word but, when you throw something that vague (and bold) into the world, you can bet it’s gonna be spun all kindsa ways by all kindsa people. Today, I like that lyric a lot.

I don’t really use the word “God” these days but, in the short period in which I was, I liked it. I might not have had the same meaning for it as anyone I spoke to, but it connected me with people that I don’t usually connect with – in a way that I don’t usually connect with anyone. And like today, it just felt nice. Pleasant.

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Muggle Problems

"I Can't Compete With Harry Potter." 5/20/13. Pencil, watercolor, and pen. 16x20".
“I Can’t Compete With Harry Potter.” 5/20/13. Pencil, watercolor, and pen. 16×20″.

Taylor really likes Harry Potter. She’d watch the movies on an endless loop as I sat next to her working on Traffic Street stuff. Even after she broke up with me and I moved seventeen hours south, she called on the eve of the last movie’s release. “You should go see it at midnight too and it’ll be like we’re going to see it together!”

Hilarious!

Heather and I had been dating for three months and had plans to hang out. I called her. “Oh – I just finished reading the first Harry Potter book and now I’m watching the movie – I’ll call you when it’s over.”

And so it began again.

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Life is Meaningless!

All day, I’ve been working on that ridiculously oversized drawing (the one I mentioned starting yesterday). I think I’ve put at least twelve hours into it so far. I might have problems.

Here’s the third of my nine learning-to-draw-with-charcoal “sketches” – the first four of which were done while sitting in a Narcotics Anonymous meeting. The drawing’s from January, but this statement is from May.

I saw someone selling paintings with flat-color backgrounds behind characters like Merle from “The Walking Dead.” “Are you fucking kidding me?” I thought. “What’s the value in (or purpose of) a fucking portrait of a television show character, with nothing added at all to even personalize it?” I was pretty contemptuous for someone that’s trying to be – you know – well. But I realized: I don’t know why that guy paints, I don’t know what he gets out of it, and it really doesn’t matter. Maybe he’s the artistic equivalent of a rock’n’roll cover band playing in some bar every night – and maybe I’m a judgmental little shithead who just started painting a few months ago and should shut the fuck up.

The only thing that’s certain in all of this is that none of it matters. None of it is important. I’m sure there are people that think a portrait of Merle is great and that everything I’ve ever made belongs in a landfill. They’re not wrong.

I don’t wanna be judgmental and there’s no logical criteria from which I can really judge anyway. So… “I shot heroin. You paint TV characters. Life is meaningless!”

I don’t mean that pessimistically. If life has no inherent meaning, each of us can assign significance (or insignificance) to whatever we want, to whatever degree we want. That’s a pretty wonderful, freeing concept.

Admittedly, the statement, “Life is meaningless!,” was on my mind because I had been revisiting my Nate Gangelhoff zines and he used the phrase (hysterically) in an imagined scene wherein executives greenlight the publication of a Mr. T comic book. That’s in the third issue of “You Idiot” but both of his books and all of his zines are really spectacular.

"Life is Meaningless!" 1/16/13. Charcoal on scrap. 4x6".
“Life is Meaningless!” 1/16/13. Charcoal on scrap. 4×6″.

Moving Boxes (and Little Else)

"Moving Boxes (and Little Else)." 5/24/13. Tempera and pen on paper. 12x16".
“Moving Boxes (and Little Else).” 5/24/13. Tempera and pen on paper. 12×16″.

She might be scared, but that has nothing to do with me, my choices, my attitude, or my … how I’ve been.
I’m ambitious and I have confidence but moving out starts the ticking of the clock. It sets the deadline for my success or the date of my failure. Not moving out is what I’m comfortable with. But how long is it okay for me to stall intimate relationships so that I can enjoy myself (and do the things I want to without worry)?
Is it okay for me to be okay? Complacency. Fear. Priorities. GROWING UP. I understand far less than I let on. Strange that someone with all the answers in interactions has nothing but questions when alone.

That’s the text within this piece – painted in my Friday expressive art therapy group at Tranquil Shores. It was getting closer to the time Heather and I had talked about picking up and moving to Jacksonville. We were bickering a lot. I had asked her what was really going on. When she failed to come up with anything, I suggested that maybe she was scared about moving to a new city. After all, it wasn’t me. I’m itinerant! I’m punk! All we do is move. We have no roots. “I don’t live anywhere!” She, on the other hand, had never moved to a new city before so she was scared and that was making her irritable. Obviously.

But this was expressive art therapy and (in therapy) we don’t look at what’s wrong with other people, we look at ourselves. So that’s what I tried to do as I painted and – when I started writing – all of this suddenly came out of me.

God dammit. It was totally me. I was terrified. If I moved to Jacksonville with Heather, I’d suddenly be responsible for rent and utilities and who knows what else. I had been out of (inpatient) treatment for three months and thus far was doing great. I was supporting myself without having to give in to reality and get a real job. (Which – in hindsight – I realize may not have been all that impressive a feat considering that I had absolutely no bills to pay). But if I moved to Jacksonville and came up short on money for bills one month, all of a sudden, I’d have to admit that I was wrong. I’d have to get a job and acknowledge that I couldn’t support myself creatively…

Maybe I should just break it off and stay in Bradenton and live with Taylor’s family forever…? I don’t need a girlfriend or to be an adult or…

God dammit.

“Moving boxes and little else” is an acknowledgment that I had moved more times than I could count but was terrified to move forward.

But I did! And – so far – so good.

This piece is important to me because the process of creating it really was revelatory. I had spend a lot time thinking about this stuff and had gotten nowhere. After I made this piece, the bickering between Heather and I stopped completely. It’s pretty remarkable how much garbage sometimes lurks just below the surface (and how badly it can fuck me up). This piece is proof that art is essential to the maintenance of my mental health.

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Here’s the song I quoted in this entry. It’s from the new Dead Mechanical album out soon on Toxic Pop (who split released the last DM full-length with Traffic Street (that’s my label, you guys!)) When I lived in DC, I spent a lot of time in Baltimore. When I wasn’t copping or shooting heroin, I was usually at a Dead Mechanical show. (Sometimes both!) But getting to see them play all the time was definitely one of the best things about living up there.

Here’s another song from the same record. Just ’cause.

Hit the Toxic Pop website to check out the album art (by Julie Benoit!) and pre-order the LP, which starts shipping next week. (I know the site says that it starts shipping in early August, but Mike (Toxic Pop) sent out an update changing the shipping date due to delays at the pressing plant).

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This painting is currently for sale. Or – if you’re not a big spender – you can pick up a signed and framed (behind glass) print/poster that’s the same size as the original.

If You Watch Sports, You’re Not Punk

Heather and I started dating in February. She’s not at all into punk rock, but she does like to do normal human activities like go to baseball games with other normal humans. In May, I went along with them to see the Rays play some other team that I forget. While I was sitting there, I drew a silly comic about my experience on the back of two tickets.

"If You Watch Sports, You're Not Punk." 5/8/13. Marker, pen, duct tape. 8x10".
“If You Watch Sports, You’re Not Punk.” 5/8/13. Marker, pen, duct tape. 8×10″.

While this was really well-received by my friends and others that follow me online, I was surprised that half of the people to see it through Reddit got really pissed off and defensive.

I like to think I’m open-minded though so I’m going to take this opportunity to change my position on the matter. Watching sports is totally punk (but having a sense of humor is absolutely not).

Should I discover otherwise, I’ll definitely keep you posted.

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On an unrelated note, someone online bought my copy of Henry Rollins’ “Get in the Van” today. It’s been at least seven years since I read it, so I took a look before packing it up to ship it out. The thing that stood out most to me… the guy’s talking about some people that let him and his band stay with them (not for a night, but for a while) and he’s talking about how much he hated them. He says he keeps to himself and never really interacts with them – yet he hates them. Because they’re “stoner-hippie-punks” and he thinks they’re “full of shit.” My kneejerk response is, “how terribly unhappy do you have to be to hate someone that you barely know?” I’ve never really understood why anyone has held Rollins up as any kind of an idol or hero, but – reading this stuff – I’m really reminded of the huge ideological differences that exist between different “sects” of punk rock. This book’s all about fighting and violence and self-righteousness. It’s all “I know what’s right, you’re wrong, and I’m gonna kick the shit out of you for having ideas that aren’t exactly like my own.” Basically – it’s got a lot in common with everything to come out of hardcore (which has pretty much nothing in common with what punk means to me).