Tola’s Approach to Demons

"Tola's Approach to Demons." 7/21/13. Acrylic paint and ink. 16x20".
“Tola’s Approach to Demons.” 7/21/13. Acrylic paint and ink. 16×20″.

The text at upper left:
“That was amazing,” Vincent said. “How do you feel?”
“Like garbage.”
I went back out on the dock with Tola. We sat out there for the rest of the night.
“I don’t really mind demons,” he told me. “So long as they’re not actively trying to fuck my shit up, I just keep my distance and everything is cool.”


Tola had been drinking and I don’t know exactly what he meant when he said “demons,” but it made sense to me either way. Everything he said to me that night made a lot of sense. And meant a lot to me. That conversation was exactly what I needed that night.

I don’t believe in evil. I don’t believe that there’s such a thing as bad people. I have to think that way ’cause if I’m wrong, then I’m most certainly evil – I’m definitely a bad person.

But I try really hard. So I give other people the benefit of the doubt. If someone does something fucked up, I choose to believe that they’re doing their best. (Their best just happens to be pretty terrible relative to average/acceptable standards). I try to keep that in mind whether we’re talking about some asshole on the sidewalk or someone like that kid that shot up Sandy Hook. It’s hard to give everyone that credit – that empathy – but I try. In return, I hope to get the same.

With all of that said, some people are not entirely well. (I should know; often enough, I’m one of them). And if you play with fire… if you fuck with a demon … that demon is going to burn you alive. Nothing good ever comes from it. When it comes to people who are sick – people that aren’t even interested in being well – stay the fuck away. This is a lesson I have learned the hard way, but am still having a little trouble applying.

I need to learn to more closely adhere to “Tola’s approach to demons.”


Everything you just read was written right after painting this. It was two days after I wrapped on “No Real Than You Are.”

July 4th (the night referenced in the piece) was my first night of filming. In the hour or so before we actually shot the scene, my co-star and I were not getting along. In fact, we weren’t even speaking to one another. And this scene we had to film – let me put it this way: the director told us that it was the scene in which it was most important for the audience to really see just how in love these characters were with one another. Suffice to say, I was not feeling any love for this girl on that evening and I’m pretty certain her feelings toward me were about the same. In hindsight, she was probably a scapegoat, but that didn’t change my feelings in the moment.

I still haven’t seen the footage, but – from what I’m told – we pulled it off. It took everything I had in me to not say FUCK THIS and just walk away from the set and quit. I was miserable and I was angry. But I didn’t walk away. I shook my shitty feelings the fuck out of my body and for [however long we filmed that night] I played and pretended and made myself alright. If that footage is at all believable, then I gave one fuck of a performance. More of a performance than anyone watching would ever realize. As soon as the director said “cut” though, I fell right back into it. Suppression and healing are two very different things. I can’t actually force myself to be okay. I don’t think anyone can. “Holding it together” and “getting it together” are two very different things. Real healing takes a lot of work. I think that this painting was one step of a walk in the right direction though.


During the month I spent working on “No Real Than You Are” (and scooting around Sarasota on my little thrashBike) I listened almost exclusively to the songs on a playlist that I made shortly after getting into town. The first song on the playlist isn’t online anywhere, so here’s the second. “Eviction Notice” by Riverboat Gamblers.


Signed and numbered 12×15″ prints of “Tola’s Approach to Demons” are available in my webstore.

Hit me up if you’re interested in purchasing the original piece.

3 thoughts on “Tola’s Approach to Demons”

  1. You seemed to stay strong through all this. I cannot thank you more for your cooperation and all the richness you introduced into the film. Thanks, Sam

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