Tag Archives: dark humor

Toilet Humor

In writing this statement, I struggled with a tendency to dwell on details that aren’t significant because to skim over them or take anything for granted would run the risk of someone getting the wrong idea. And with something like this, that’s not really a risk I want to take. My intention is not, after all, to upset anyone.

Still,  I don’t want to waste anyone’s time “defending myself” either. There’s enough of me up on this website for any interested parties to get a pretty good idea of what kind of a person I am.

I wrote this statement months ago, but spent the last two hours trying to find the right balances concerning caution, brevity, honesty, and intention.

"Toilet Humor (Sex With Children)." 11/10/12. Watercolor paint, colored pencil, white kids paint, and black crayon. 9x12".
“Toilet Humor.” 11/10/12. Watercolor paint, colored pencil, white kids paint, and black crayon. 9×12″.

Pedophilia is a mental illness characterized by sexual attraction to prepubescent (undeveloped) boys or girls. People can’t control whom they’re attracted to. It’s a mental disorder. I don’t suffer from pedophilia, but I have been diagnosed with borderline personality disorder. I understand what it’s like to have a brain that causes a person to think in ways that they’d rather not. However, just as it’s not okay for me to let my thoughts or feelings control my actions to any extent that would cause harm to another person, it’s not okay for anyone else to do so either – regardless of their specific mental disorder. Being attracted to someone doesn’t give you the right to have sex with them. And since a child isn’t capable of intelligently consenting to sex, it’s not ever okay to have sex with a child.

Shit gets a little bit less clear-cut when we’re talking about adolescents though. An adolescent is a person that has reached physical maturity, and that’s the point when, by nature, others (regardless of age) will begin to find them sexually attractive. Sixteen is the age, in Florida, at which people are (legislatively) deemed to have hit puberty and are thus legally capable of consenting to sex.

Personally, I’m not particularly interested in talking to a sixteen year old, let alone having sex with one. Physical maturity doesn’t equate to emotional maturity and any kind of intimate interaction with someone who’s still emotionally a “child” is nothing I want to experience.

The phrase “sex with children” is interesting to me. Because the word “children” is ambiguous, because teenagers are marketed as sex objects, because statutory rape laws are inconsistent between the states (and are sometimes totally fucked), and because there’s nothing in the world that can spark feelings as intense and hateful as pedophilia.

And because when I was eighteen, I started dating a girl two months before she turned sixteen. So – according to Florida law – I could have been convicted of statutory rape and – had that happened – even now, nine years later, everyone in my neighborhood would have gotten a notice in the mail to inform them that I, a sex offender, was now living in the area.

Adolescents are adults physically, but children emotionally. If two of them have sex with one another, it’s absurd that one should be convicted of a crime. Especially when that conviction (and mandated registration) carries the same stigma as being branded as a pedophile or a rapist.

I’m not eighteen anymore though so that part of this is no longer personally relevant. And while it’s possible that I could still potentially see or meet a sixteen year old that I found attractive, as soon as I found out her age, that would totally overpower any physical attraction that I felt and kill every shred of my interest in her. Still, despite the fact that I live in a culture in which girls that age are marketed to adults, as adults – with sex – to sell [whatever]… it’s still uncomfortable for me to acknowledge. That (and that it’s such a delicate issue, generally), I feel, makes it worth examining.

The decision to paint something with a swastika came as the result of a really silly conversation (earlier on the day that I painted this) that got me thinking about context and symbols  (or statements) that evoke powerful emotional responses.

A piece of art communicates a lot of different messages (whether intended or not) and the nature of art is such that the intentional messages aren’t always immediately clear. For that reason, while I understand that art can upset a person for any number of reasons, it seems pretty unreasonable that anyone should ever become angry (or, specifically, angry with the artist) on the sole basis of their interpretation of a piece. So I wanted to play with that, using the most powerful symbol of hate that I know: the swastika.

Since I was already plotting to paint something as prima facie controversial as “Sex With Children,” I figured it made sense to do this all in one blast. By putting that phrase and this (totally unrelated) symbol together, I thought I could accomplish everything that I wanted by bringing these things to the surface in a way that is so absurdly offensive that no one could possibly walk away from it thinking that it was created with malice of any kind. To believe otherwise would be to think the piece is a declaration that I support (and enjoy!) the fucking of children BUT HATE JEWS. I’d like to think that it’s totally implausible that there exists in the world anyone who’d feel the need to paint something with that communiqué as his or her end.

I would be really upset to find out that anyone was personally offended by this. On the other hand, anyone who has a problem with it because “it’s [potentially] offensive [to someone else]” (and hasn’t themselves been the victim of pedophilia or anti-Semitism) can fuck off.

On the other hand, anyone that has a problem with this because “it’s stupid” – well, that I totally understand. I’m not sure that I’d even disagree with you. Everything I’ve written is true but also, admittedly, I probably painted this just to fuck with people a little bit. I might enjoy making people just a little uncomfortable.

Merry Christmas 2K12 (and 2K13)

I forget how it came up, but I found myself in rehab, defending some view as not being illegitimate or immoral. Something to do with property and how this world has enough for everyone to have everything that they need. But how people get scared, their fear morphs into greed, and they feel like they need to hoard wealth or resources to the detriment of others. One way or another, we got to that thing from the Beatitudes where Jesus says it’s easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than it is for a rich man to enter the gates of heaven. And from there, “For God so loved the world, he gave his only begotten son to burn the banks to the fucking ground and drink the blood of the rich” popped into my head – which I, of course, thought was hilarious. And I immediately started jokingly trying to recruit my fellow inpatients for a crusade to burn down the banks and – you know – drink the blood of the rich.

The next day, in expressive art therapy group, we were told that the theme was Christmas (it was December 22nd). “Not really Christmas though – just in terms of birth or re-birth – just as a metaphor.” Everyone else in the group kind of ignored that. We produced a lot of paintings of Christmas trees and Santa Claus that day. I – predictably – went really literal with it though. I started painting myself being born (fully grown and clothed). And not so much being born, as much as pulling myself out of a woman’s birth canal. (The distinction is that birth wasn’t “happening” to me, I was taking the action). I thought that was pretty great given my circumstances. Recovery or rehabilitation weren’t happening to me – I was making them happen. I was bringing them about. Doing the work to get better.

And then it occurred to me that the “For God so loved the world…” thing that I had come up with the day before would be PERFECT for this painting. It was supposed to be about Christmas, right? The celebration of the birth of Christ. And while I had intended for the character in the painting to be me (and – no – I don’t think I’m the messiah) adding the caption would make this a depiction of what must be the second coming of Christ. When he comes back as a lion instead of a lamb. Lion Christ just might be the kind of guy that WOULD burn the banks to the fucking ground and drink the blood of the rich, the greedy, and the selfish. After all, Jesus never spoke ill of homosexuals or [whoever evangelists are bummed out about these days] but he sure as fuck had a distaste for the rich.

So this may sound absurd, but this painting, the little things leading up to it, and the process itself.. this was a spiritual experience for me. No offense to any of my peers, but they all painted Christmas trees and (by their own admission in group that day) didn’t get much out of it, so this assignment/prompt MUST have been for my benefit. And the way that it all panned out – what I chose to paint without even thinking of the previous day – and then remembering it at just the right time – this was all predestined. Similarly, back when I was told that I needed to have some kind of faith – that I’d need to believe in some kind of higher power if I ever wanted to get better and stop shooting heroin – the first belief I adopted (albeit sarcastically) was that “my higher power thinks I’m fucking hilarious“; if this whole episode isn’t proof of that, then I don’t know what is. The universe really brought it all together for me this time around.

"Merry Christmas 2K12." 12/22/13. Acrylics and pen. 9x12".
“Merry Christmas 2K12.” 12/22/13. Acrylics and pen. 9×12″.

HISTORICAL note!: Our art therapy counselor brought us acrylic paint and canvas boards as a Christmas present, so this was my first time using “real” art supplies. (Normally we used cheap paper and tempera/poster-paint). And I kinda can’t mention that counselor without saying something else…

Even when everyone else thought that “something might need to be done” about the kind of stuff I was turning out in art group, Julie stuck up for me and insisted that I be allowed (and encouraged) to create whatever I was feeling. It’s so much more than entirely possible that – were it not for Julie – what little enjoyment I got out of those early art groups might have been snuffed out. Had that been the case, there’s no way in hell that you’d be reading this right now because this website (and all of these pieces) wouldn’t even exist. And It’s not quite as certain, but it’s extremely likely that I’d either still be shooting heroin or dead. A lot of people and factors played into my recovery but the one piece that I’m almost positive is totally crucial is art. And Julie gets total credit for that. (With an assist from my friend (and fellow inpatient) Mary Beth, who was also a huge source of encouragement in the early stages of the game.

And so long as I’m going on tangents: After I finished this painting, as I was carrying it from group to my room, one of the property techs stopped and asked me if he could see what I had made. Staff aren’t really supposed to be “friends” with patients/clients, but I definitely considered Kenny a friend and (as a Christian) I was afraid this would bum him out. But I showed it to him and he surprised me. He knew exactly what I was going for, got the joke, told me it was actually a really Christian sentiment, and even gave me the [call number or whatever it’s called] for a verse of scripture. That sort of reaffirmed my faith in humanity that day. It was really awesome.

By the way, that movie I was cast in over the summer… the production designer saw this painting and asked if I could redraw it so that it could be screened onto a t-shirt for my character to wear. So I did!

"Merry Christmas 2K13." 7/2/13. Digital. 12x18".
“Merry Christmas 2K13.” 7/2/13. Digital. 12×18″.

A lot of what you’ve just read was written a few months back. Some of it is even older than that. The word “predestined” jumps off the page at me. Do I really believe in such a concept? I don’t know. I’m tempted to say “not really.” I’ll say this though… on December 22nd, back when all of this was happening… when I say, “this was a spiritual experience for me”, I mean it. Did I believe anything was predetermined earlier that day? No. Did I believe it in that moment? Again – I don’t really know. But I know that I was having fun acting as if I did… This really struck me as too perfect to be random (it just felt too excellent) but … eh… Well, like I sort of said: this was the best evidence I had ever seen that [to borrow from Andrew Jackson Jihad] “my god thinks my jokes are funny.” And it was all great fodder as I explained the cartoon/painting/sentiment to the patients and staff that were giving me funny looks. So I was having a lot of fun with it. So far as my real (confident) beliefs go… – only what I laid out in my entry for “Everything Works Out Exactly As It Should.”

Anyway, here’s a song that I was listening to a lot around the time this was painted.

Here’s a song that strikes me as otherwise relevant.

This painting is still available for purchase. As are an incredibly limited number of t-shirts. And – as with all of my art – either version of the image can be purchased as a signed, numbered, and framed print/poster.