Tag Archives: Dead North

Have Sex With and/or Buy Art From Me

"Have Sex With and/or Buy Art From Me." 7/1/14. Acrylic paint and duct tape on canvas. 22x28".
“Have Sex With and/or Buy Art From Me.” 7/1/14. Acrylic paint and duct tape on canvas. 22×28″.

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.

I Don’t Do Well With Crowds | I Don’t Go Out Much

Chris is vomiting out the window on our way to Grumpy’s. We’re pulling over so Pete can drive. Today is going to be an excellent day. For so many reasons.


This summer, I spent four weeks in Sarasota working on “No Real Than You Are,” a short film in which I had been cast. The last stuff filmed (on the last day of principal photography) were the exterior shots of a house party. My character had no dialogue but it was important for the audience to see that my character is there, at the party. So even though I had nothing to do, I had to be present so the camera could pick up on me at some point, if only for a second.

I had the lead male role in the movie. Throughout filming, everyone on the production team treated me like I was the coolest motherfucker on the planet. It was easy to feel important. (I wasn’t/I’m not, but in the context of this film: sure). Since this was a party scene though – and since I had no important part in it – there were a ton of random people on set and, so far as they all knew, I was just another extra.

For most people, I have a feeling that none of this would be an issue. But – for me – it kind of was. It’s embarrassing, but I’m not good in situations where I’m just an anonymous part of the crowd. I need to have something to do, to somehow stand apart. At shows, since I don’t play them myself these last few years, I need to be selling records or working the door, or – at least – have someone to hang with (with whom I’m thoroughly comfortable and at ease). Otherwise, I have to go hide out somewhere every so often, if only for a little bit.

But I couldn’t do any of those things here. There was no performance required of me. There were no records to sell. The people I knew (the production team) were busy with the scene. And the people I didn’t know… I don’t want to be judgmental and I’m sure anything I was picking up on was more about my own state of mind then anything they were doing…. But it might be possible that there was something to it. After all, it’s a little strange that – in the city in which I grew up – of the people that came to this party (even if it was a *fake* party) I didn’t know a single person. These were the people that came out to a fake party on a Thursday night so that they could be be seen in frame in this movie. And that strikes me as a really shitty thing to say and I know I should be grateful that they came because the movie needed them. You can’t film a party without people. And shit – I’m sure a lot of them came out just for that reason; some of them were probably there just to support the film.

Really I’m just trying to explain (or justify) why I didn’t make new friends by talking to some of the people around me. It’s my own failing.

Instead, I sat there with a pen and paper, isolating myself as a hundred people excitedly milled around me, until I felt like it was reasonable to ask the unit production manager to prod the director and cinematographer in my direction, so they could get whatever the shots they needed. And I asked her to “find me a friend” – someone for my character to talk to, so that he wouldn’t appear to be as much of a mentally disturbed, self-absorbed twerp as the actor playing him. (For that “role,” we recruited the producer. It was good; he got a cameo and I didn’t have to talk to anyone I didn’t already know).

It’s not that I think I’m “better” than other people, it’s just that I’m (sometimes) terrified of them.

Here’s what I drew as I sat alone at the party.

"I Don't Do Well With Crowds." 7/16/13. Pen. 8x11½”.
“I Don’t Do Well With Crowds.” 7/16/13. Pen. 8×11½”.


And here’s another similar drawing from another similar night.

"I Don't Go Out Much." 5/18/13. Pen on scrap. 3x4¼”.
“I Don’t Go Out Much.” 5/18/13. Pen on scrap. 3×4¼”.


  • Both cartoons are available as 5×7″ prints.

Beachtown Graffiti

"Beachtown Graffiti." Mixed media. 33x13".

“Beachtown Graffiti.” February 14th, 2013. Mixed media. 33×13”.

On Sundays, we have a twelve-step meeting here on rehab property that’s only open to current patients and alumni. When I walked in, two of the kids told me they had a great money making scheme that I was gonna want to get in on and that they’d tell me about after the meeting.
“Sam, I have a friend who makes two thousand dollars a week, beating off in front of a webcam.”
“I thought you were gonna pitch some kind of business plan that you wanted my help with. But – what – you guys are gonna do this and figured you’d just give me a heads up in case I wanted to do it too?”
“Oh – no. WE’RE not gonna do it, but we figured you’d be into it.”
So – obviously – nobody’s making two thousand dollars a week just to masturbate. But they had a point. I could probably make SOME money by jerking off or putting things in my butt or – you know – doing whatever somebody asked me to do. I think. I mean – these sites still exist so far as I know. I did some research and found a company that seemed legit. I filled out the paperwork, sent in some pictures, and got approved.
But my counselor says that I’m not allowed to be a prostitute – even if it is just on the internet. Not while I’m a patient here anyway.
She wants me to get a real “job.”
So if I understand correctly… if I give someone an hour of my time for three hundred dollars or one hundred dollars or – you know – whatever… If I’m touching my genitals during that hour, I’m a prostitute. But if I give someone an hour of my time for EIGHT DOLLARS an hour… I’m not a prostitute? So long as I don’t have to show anyone my penis?
This doesn’t make sense to me. If I were to do the webcam thing, I could make a decent amount of money and still have lots of time to do the things that are important to me.
If, on the other hand, I wanted to make the same amount of money by – let’s say – washing dishes or bagging groceries, I’d have to sacrifice virtually ALL of my free time. Leaving myself with no opportunity to do the things that make my life worth living. Now THAT sounds a lot more like “selling myself.”
Right now, I feel more free than I’ve felt in my entire life. Six months ago, I was enslaved by heroin. Everything I did… none of it was by choice. It was all directed at shooting heroin, getting heroin, getting money for heroin, or getting shit that I could sell to get money for heroin. I’ve struggled and I’ve cried and I’ve done a ton of work to get to a point where I don’t have to live like that anymore. To get my freedom back. And to use that freedom to discover those things in this world that are meaningful for me.
And now I’m supposed to just give it up and go get some shit job?
What was all of this for? If I’m gonna be a slave, does it matter whether it’s to a drug or to some assistant manager at Publix?
And – so far as taking the bar and becoming a lawyer is concerned – all that shit, it’s all the same to me. Work I don’t enjoy is work I don’t enjoy. It’s all just washing dishes.
Why am I suddenly concerned about money anyway? Because I want to be financially independent outside of a treatment center. Why do I want that?
Basically? A girl.
(Not that any girl has ASKED me to do any of this).
And REALLY, it’s for me. But a girl factors into it.
And it’s not a bad thing. In fact, it’s kind of THE BEST thing. But – you know – it’s suddenly a salient issue, where it very recently was not. Whatever.
SO…. do I wanna pull it together and be a grown-up… or do I wanna move to a real city and sleep on the street with a backpack full of paints?
These are just thoughts that I have. They’re not beliefs. They’re fleeting thoughts. They’re a reflection of where I was at in different moments as I painted this. No one needs to read into this, get any ideas, or “point anything out” to me.
I’m striving to be honest, but I’m probably mostly still full of shit.
It’s not a big deal.


That’s all for my “artist’s statement.” Here’s what’s going on today (August 8th):

There was a point in time not so long ago (June) when I’d go back and forth between joy and misery. But it felt right and it felt okay. There were reasons. I was grateful that I was capable of experiencing those highs and those lows. Things are different today. Heather was right that I’m more critical of myself lately, but I think that’s because there’s more to criticize. I just feel off.

But I’m still hopeful. I think I can get back to where I was. I’m missing the confidence I had December through June though and feel like I could crumble under the wrong set of circumstances.

The morning was great. I went and did yardwork for three hours. It’s tedious, I always seem to hurt myself, and (when I stop to think about it) – really – I’m getting paid less than minimum wage. But – I don’t know – on the ride home, I always feel pretty great. Especially when the right song comes into my headphones. And today – as noted this morning – it was definitely Dead North and it definitely made life seem perfect.

But thirty minutes later, I felt overwhelmed, inadequate, and destined to fail. It took me almost all night to work through it – but I was still productive so I’m grateful for that. Mental health really is a chore. And a choice – though not always one that’s easy to make. [Whatever]. It’s a struggle. That much, I know.

Here’s a piece from February, shortly before I left treatment. The statement was written on the same day the piece was finished. While I still think the general idea/sentiment is right on, I can say now that I don’t think I would have ever gone through with this “employment” lead. What makes me think that, you say? Oh, have I got a story for you…

But it’s late, so I’m off to bed with a prayer that I find the courage to tell that story here tomorrow. Thanks for reading. Drop me a line if you give a shit.


Update (11/17/13): Three months have passed but I finally told part of that story.

Two wheels, one dark lord (also: yardwork, pizza, and new Dead North)

Wrecking the day in the best way possible. Finished inputting the details for all of the pieces in the gallery so far (and added a new one). Well, new to the site. A cartoon called “Dear Diary” from back in March. The link will bring up the piece in the gallery and you can scroll down for the statement. I think it’s appropriate for this week.

Otherwise, I cleaned up around here and got organized. Had done some maintenance stuff on the scooter the other day and I put the panels back on this morning – but not before repainting one of ’em. Nothing new really. Just re-colored it. Here’s version 3.0:

And, with that, I’m gonna go take advantage of my yardwork-in-exchange-for-pizza arrangement. Wanna know what I’ll be listening to as I do it?

“Teenagers,” the debut full-length from Dead North. If I’m not mistaken, this thing will be out on vinyl soon from John Wilkes Booth Records (and it might be a split release with Hip Kid Records too… I forget). Oh – and word on the street is that they recorded it with Bobby at Paper Tiger (and formerly of New Creases!) which would explain why it sounds so great. In any case, thanks to Jon Rob for the heads up!  If, like me, you didn’t realize that this thing was online already, check it out ’cause it’s really great.