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Day 53

I don’t mind that I forgot his name, the Swiss guitarist who was sat next to me during lunch, as I told him mine at least twice today and twice before during previous meetings and he’s never remembered it. He said, I’m bad with names I’m sorry, once your brain gets to 35 you know. It just goes. Too many drugs. I laughed in acknowledgement.

He and I sat across from the German expats who own the café—the collection of us all artists far from any land with a flag of our heritage, none of us too eager to recognize any flag whatsoever. I’m the youngest by at least 10 years. We spoke about compulsory military service, international government structures, the rain. He called me a ‘full-blooded’ American; I think the implication was lost in translation.

“Most Americans, they just stay in America. They think that is what America is, what they see, where they stay. Not a part of the world, not how we see it. And they don’t care.”

I keep finding myself in conversations I have nothing to contribute to. I wonder if the people I meet want me to be more like an American Patriot; someone who would insist on ideas using terms like Freedom or Democracy. Instead all I can do is nod my head and agree.

“The Swiss government, it’s predictable but at least not like the UK or America, where each administration just tries to outdo the last. You have one guy come in, he’s from one side, he tries to just undo whatever happened before him. Then the next is the same. There’s no progress, ever,” he pauses for a beat, I take a piece of bread and dip it in my soup. “Then again, I’m an anarchist. I don’t like any state.”

Four expat anarchist artists sitting around a table eating vegetable soup in a café in Ireland. It sounds like a set-up to a joke. I guess the punchline is probably how we’ll all die poor and alone.

It’s First Friday back in Portland, a day I care about more than my birthday and any holiday combined, but for the first time since leaving it behind I feel a little less alone. Finding people like this is like finding a nerve on the body that relieves a specific pain that endures day in and day out; a pressure point that gives a way to conquer what seemed fated to bring nothing but despair.

I miss The Warehouse and the people I lived with for four years; I do not stop to think about them enough. I don’t think enough about my beloved cat who struggled through a majority of the last years of her life with me in the unforgiving environment. It’s a strange thing, my brain gravitates to concepts and systems so much that I have to force myself to remember the way the dust would dance across the streaks of dawn provided by the skylight; my cot and clumsy shelf arrangements, the piles of, well, everything.

It looks, at this point, like if I return to America it will only be for the winter. I have a way out and I’m taking it. My cat isn’t going to come back to life, and the times that were will not be again. But there are more of us, out there, everywhere, those on the fringe. It is a fight that never ends, but to wake with a sense of honesty is worth it, wherever that bed may be.

23:30 / 7 June 2019
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Doing The Time

During my years in Portland I’d ended up in a few different social circles, a trait I’ve just sort of carried since middle school.1 I’ve been thinking about them a lot on my travels, who I’ve known, how, in what context and the length of time spent in that regard.

The latter is of particular interest to me while abroad. Traveling alone is the easiest way to feel completely alone in the world. Almost every action is self-reliance, every decision independent and every problem wholly yours to solve. Language is the most immediate barrier; people are more than willing to help, but they can’t if they don’t understand your question. But even if I was fluent in Spanish, I still wouldn’t be part of it here.

It took time to develop friendships and ingratiate myself into the various scenes I’ve associated with over the years. This idea has piqued my interest of late for multiple reasons; it’s coming up because there are obvious cultural tiers here—true Mallorcans,2 there are residents who are Spanish but from the mainland, residents who are of foreign descent, temporary workers, and tourists. But the relationships between culture, association and time are universal.

Commiseration

My general theory is that most relationships are based in commiseration. If you can’t vibe with what someone bitches about, it’s not going to work.3 However, that process of validating mutual despair isn’t immediate. It usually takes time and includes a variety of other occasions—in the end, it can lead to a bond, We’re in this together.

In the past these bonds have formed valuable unions and revolutionary uprisings; they also perpetuate through Ivy League fraternities into Wall Street and the White House. Yet with such an influential media—owned by a select few who certainly feel a sense of common purpose for more—and a diverse population, using the idea of tight-knit, trusted bonds against the people is easier than getting people together for a common cause.4

Evidence

In America I’d see evidence of anxiety and despair all over; street art is usually decent evidence. I see the same things in Mallorca; anti-fascist tags, feminist empowerment, general beauty.5 Then there are more human similarities: the homeless man using the doorway to a bank as a place to sleep at night, the nervous looks of underpaid shopgirls looking to meet a commission quota, the mother deciding what to buy at the market to save the most money.

Of course, all of these people are part of vastly different ‘tribes.’ The homeless man may spend his days in the park with the fellow downtrodden. The shopgirl may take what she can afford from that commission for a night at the club. The mother is concerned with the grades of her children. All economically oppressed, looking for purpose, relief… commiseration. Unity.

Our goals as humans working together should be to figure out how to promote and help one another in exploring and attaining our true potential. In the past this has been achieved through the structures of categorization Facebook now uses for profiteering—further evidence that these methods are outdated.6 However it’s difficult to trust without the test of time, gathering evidence that a person or idea isn’t there to betray you for personal gain—and, in late-capitalism, that is surely a threat at every turn. But it will still be an essential part of bringing humanity over this mountain of despair that is accumulated wealth for a select few.

The friends I’ve had, it took a lot of time to make them. The ones I’ve lost, it took no time at all to lose. They are perhaps the most fragile intangibles, human relationships. Person-to-person can be volatile enough; such a feat en masse feels almost as overwhelming as it does doomed. But there are few greater feelings than to be a part of something meaningful, and in that there is hope.

      Notes
  • Clique culture has always annoyed me. Be it high school where it’s about popularity, early adulthood where it’s about subcultural affiliation, or adulthood which is mostly class-based (with race, gender and various other sorts of tribalism thrown in to the mix). Just be good to one another, y’all.
  • To which I’d include natives or those with a long family history on the island. I’m not sure how they’d draw the lines.
  • Largely this is why unity among the proletariat in America is so difficult to attain: though everyone is in some sort of existential despair, the nuance of that despair is generally still divided—that nuance is preyed upon by those in power to exasperate that divide, and so people feel alone in their misery, looking at the complaints of someone else and being afforded (to a somewhat justifiable extent) the thought, “You think you have it bad…”
  • Bernie Sanders is pretty impressive in that sense, able to aptly message to a variety of American tribes that their economic despair does have a common root; an increasingly difficult task, given who is against him.
  • I would hope that this is evidence the next great international art movement will be to create a universal sense of a bond between all people, in that creation can be something all can appreciate and find significance within. The way politicians have lost their ability to convince the people they are for all, artists remain largely untarnished by the influx of capital (outside of the Art World© types who are more careerists than anything, looking to take selfies at Art Basel).
  • Once a corporation starts profiting from an idea it’s time to throw it away.

10:30 / 7 May 2019
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Rip City

Photo by Jaime Valdez-USA TODAY Sports

Are you fucking kidding me

never thought there would be something that would make me say Hey I wish I was in Portland instead of Mallorca, but goddamn. I was in Portland for Lillard’s last iconic shot; can’t imagine the city right now. Lillard has been my favorite player for some time now and the shot, the wave, the look, oh my god this is basketball bliss

10:00 / 24 April 2019
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big shot

“I’m glad you’re alive.”

there have been worse sentiments from strangers. and with that the Warehouse was gone, Portland mostly so; tomorrow the west coast will be, and soon America, again.

moving in every direction has been the best possible way to get nowhere at all. Something’s gotta change at some point soon.

i do not mind going through life in madness; if i never find peace, so be it. what i fear is being presented that opportunity, that idea, and not recognizing it—or worse, recognizing it but being unable to stop.

08:45 / 7 April 2019
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Tuning Fork

What’s left at the end are always the most significant historical markers. The wall has a dirty silhouette of a dripping ceiling drawing a path down the white; one of the two leaks in this particular space I had to deal with on quite a frequent basis. this is Portland, after all.

The plaster is dented from where I punched the wall while painting a portrait; the divider that Jerry helped build when I first moved in is the last standing object. Overused canvases and broken hangars linger. I still own too much shit.

I used to ask myself Is this the Right decision? whenever I would be 24 hours from moving. but there is no Right or Wrong, just a choice and its repercussions. Now I ask Is this what I want? as if i’ve ever had a clue as to what that could be.

I need to spend some of the next part of my life making sense of the last couple.

19:30 / 4 April 2019
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the last days of disco

The Warehouse

Breaking Down

The Warehouse

Exposed

The Warehouse

The Shop

The Warehouse

Empty

the air was always still and thick in summer heat. it was impossible to get warm in winter. every noise from the front door to the back hall could be heard. my first studio had three leaks from the drain pipe above; the second had one from a vent that I’m pretty certain pigeons used as shelter from time to time. the cat had to be kept a secret.

strangely leaving Portland is not nearly as difficult as giving up this one place. few things have ever felt as harmonious to me as The Warehouse. our penchant for closing down the bar before playing music until dawn would be the spawn of First Friday; for a few years there was a perfect balance between my personal chaos and my living environment.

i’ve lost track as to whether my perpetual motion is out of need, habit or dependence. but I know this one place, this idea and how I’ve been a part of it, is true—something in short supply these days. my only hope in the future is that I can build something as meaningful, and not that i will look back on abandoning this ship as a grave mistake—

22:30 / 22 March 2019
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Cityscape

the last time i was getting ready to leave Portland, I knew that it would not be my final time here. now as the studio begins to clear out and my Official Residency is no longer in oregon, and I look at the city through more a lens of the past than the present or future, i can’t find much of a reason to return.

Portland is a wonderful place to lose yourself but a terrible place to find yourself in. its appeals have all but faded in the past decade: financial interests have moved in, motivations—and the people who own them—have become suspicious. it has become self-serious in a way that casts aside the various oddball subcultures that were appropriated for a television show.

(increasingly I find myself drawn to New York and Los Angeles—perhaps the reasons they are reviled are why I appreciate them: their is a stark and brutal honesty to the vanity and greed that are the backbone to their primary industries. capitalism is exposed, and while Silicon Valley spins itself as Saving The World (or whatever), LA and NYC just don’t care what anyone says unless it makes them some bank. and if that isn’t America Now, I’m not sure what is.

14:15 / 11 March 2019
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FFFebruary

another month / another poster

I’ll have one or two new things on display at the Warehouse show for First Friday, plus a variety of musical arrangements—my next solo stuff will be in April as a goodbye to Portland / book release party—more to come on that in the future

10:00 / 29 January 2019
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To The Barricades Again

The Police At Church

A Fire In The Square

going through some boxes, packing things up in the studio, found some developed but unscanned film—these from (one of) the protests about the Trump immigration policy—if memory serves it’s around the time of the initial travel ban

still it boggles the mind that marches like these could snake through the streets every day and be simultaneously 1.) about some new hateful atrocity of governance and 2.) equally ineffective in creating any substantial change

PSU Students

Solidarity

Stormtroopers

16:30 / 8 January 2019
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Domestic Gross

Nobody releases decent movies in January even though it’s cold as fuck and pouring rain and there’s nothing to do because films all get dumped off at Christmas since a) the end of the year is the deadline for Academy Award consideration and b) why would anyone want to actually spend the holidays with family. So now weeks pass without any damn reason to go waste some time in a warm theater, furthering the proof that those in charge of national entertainment have put zero thought into the idea of when and why people need to be entertained.1

      Notes
  • I understand Vice isn’t supposed to be all bad, but I’m just not ready to go and see something about the Bush years in the theater. Yes, The Big Short was awesome, and the financial crash was infuriating in many respects, but in terms of man-robot mass-murderers on screen I’d like to stick with Star Wars.

01:00 / 6 January 2019
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Clear History

(even though this web site has operated with a blog—in some form or another—since 1999, it has undergone semi-annual design changes and annual database dumps throughout the years. thus, the "Archive" is actually only evidence of what has not yet been deleted.)