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RAD

this is my studio currently. sometimes cleaning things up feels so much like composing a picture that I’ll spend all day only doing that. other times I convince myself it’s better to make a picture. this tiny paradox is a long and brutal struggle and nobody is winning. 
Studio Fridays: Like Wow (BARF and other things)
o i don’t know, idk, i don’t know.
Another art fair is happening in the city.
Actually a lot of them are happening. Pulse and Cutlog and Collective Design Fair. Frieze is the big one and its on an island that no one usually thinks about or goes to for art because it normally doesn’t have any— at least I don’t think so, where would they put it? Frieze has brought a big tent. 
A major thing people will talk about when heading to Randall’s Island to see Frieze is that you have to take a ferry to get there. Invariably someone will take a picture of themselves traveling to Frieze and upload it with the caption “I’m on a boat!”
I don’t know. 
Another ‘memorable’ thing is that the Artist Paul McCarthy made an 80 foot tall send up of ‘Balloon Dog’, which is sort of a ‘fuck you’ to Jeff Koons because idk, it’s bigger than a Jeff Koons ‘Balloon Dog’ which is actually made out of Stainless Steel. McCarthy’s Balloon Dog IS aCtUaLly maDE OUT OF (balloon)!!!!1
See how clever this is getting!? look out. idk.

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Not all art forms lend well to ‘event’ and ‘spectacle.’ No art forms lend well to ‘trade show’ or retail presentations. 'Painting' for instance is more often contemplative and viseral and asks for 'mental and aesthetic room to ruminate.' A chance to think about the work you are standing in front of is generally important to most artists. 
Mega Art Fairs have made art viewing into a live sport / shopping spectacle. The obvious emphasis is on the ‘point of purchase’ and making the sale. Art fair veterans will compliment various art fairs for their strategic attempts to act self aware and show as much reverence for the creators as they do for the sale. It’s still experiential shopping. 
But alas Big Art Retail Fatigue is a true luxury problem. I would like to never talk about another art fair- I think I will start by radically changing course a few paragraphs into this post. I think I will rearrange my life so that I glide over luxury problems with a goofy efficiency, like a man wearing rollerblades- WOW I am starting to feel better already. 
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What do you call a casserole made from the left overs of other casseroles?
Metasserole.
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What do you call a Metasserole made from the left overs of other Metasseroles?
Post Metasserole.
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These two semi- contradictory statements feel equally true in my brain:
Great Art is made from life— it is the lived human experience uniquely interpreted through the individual maker.
Great Art is made from other Great Art— all of human experience is a continuous narrative stream to which each artist may attempt to contribute a verse (or status update, you choose). 
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My friend Casey Kelbaugh is cool fella who made something called Slideluck - a non-profit which organizes potluck dinners all over the freakin’ place. Attendees share food and then watch a ‘slideshow’ presentation on Art. It’s a way to consume images and ideas in a longform conversation, over time, communally. 
Last week I went to a talk about supper clubs hosted by Casey. There was a mix of fascinating dudes and one fascinating lady sharing their life’s work and generally rebellious dedication to food and feast as a living art form. 
A supper club is an attempt to subvert the traditional restaurant dining experience where you bring a guest or a few friends and try to ignore the other patrons. Supper clubs bring disperate individuals together and involve them in the process of creating and serving a meal.
I’m genuinely ‘stoked’ about the idea of hosting a supper club in some form or another. Re-evaluating consumption is always fruitful and worthy. Finding community outside of ‘cultural specialization’ also strikes me as an excellent goal.
Here is a website called Underground Eats. It will help you find out more about supper clubs. 
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When life gives you lemons, you should say, ‘thanks life! I didn’t expect lemons and I basically enjoy their flavor and can use them to garnish a variety of the other things that you have so graciously given me!’ 
We’re alive right now! We’re alive right now! Rise up you frickers!
Studio Fridays: Studio Dog
I have a dog named Samo who often kicks it in the studio with me. She occasionally collaborates by chewing on the stretcher bars or clay sculptures that catch her eye. It’s made me extra conscientious about leaving any edible materials below waist level. As a puppy Samo was once particularly inspired by a tube of cobalt green.
After a call with animal poison control we adjusted her diet and kept a close eye on her ‘street art’ for the next few hours. Interpreting the emotional range and communicative ability of any creature is surely a high art. But that night on the corner of South 1st and Kent, Samo took a bright green dump and was grinning to the moon. It was not quite the same ole shit. 

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"You know Basquiat used to buy his heroin in this neighborhood," says a cagey looking man who is petting my dog. I tell him that I didn’t know, which makes him both happy and annoyed. We are standing by the steel skeleton of the new Whole Foods. A backhoe is swinging its trow at some concrete piles. A nanny pushes a double pram while a toddler walks behind her swiping at an iPad mini. Somewhere I imagine David Hockney trying on a pair of Google Glasses. 
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A—- ended up with David Byrne’s laptops, because Byrne was getting rid of them as he moved studios and didn’t care what happened to them. A—- cared a lot, and I would have also if I was there. Back at his place we tip toed around the idea of reading them. The temptation was eventually too strong. A ritual took place first. We flipped through hundreds of inherited LP’s and smoke clouds went up and then we shared a small spiral into the mind of an intergalactic journeyman. It was an exceptional day. 
Later A—- showed me the designs for a brilliant project he’s working on. I left full of transcendent secrets from the past and future. 
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Michael was driving a van down Berry and leaned out and invited us to a party on Saturday night and kept driving.
The Levee, a dive bar on the corner proudly displays its letter “C” in the window, the lowest possible grade that the new york health department can give.
One block up a fake dive bar has been constructed and it’s decorated a bit like an Applebees. On the front door they slapped a bunch of stickers from various bands and random artifacts from the 90’s. These have been peeled and scuffed to appear worn in. These two places are equally crowded on a Wednesday night. Everything is beautiful and stupid. 
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Henry Alford wrote a tidy piece of Hipsterbating about this neighborhood. Here’s another article he wrote in 2011 about magic underpants. Keep the hits coming bro. 
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I have been thinking a lot about Paul Demuro’s work. He really puts his guts into it. In my head I have been calling this kind of painting ‘sludge core cubicalism’ — which is to say that it’s mixing heavy impasto with an eye towards work-a-day tasks siting in front of a computer screen. My ‘cubical’ metaphor is obviously broken, but then again the workplace has been extended to all touchable rectangles.
Russell Tyler and Trudy Benson come to mind also. 
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Samo is behind me now emitting these low adorable whines- willing me to turn around and take her for a walk. I have been able to endure three of them but as she works on the low murmur build up I am breaking into a kind of deep shame for pushing these buttons over walking this wolf child in the stereotypical streets of my wonderful cliche. Perhaps we’ll buy some locally sourced vegan raw hide and trade knowing glances at anyone with less authenticity. BOOST!
Studio Fridays: oof
All day melting, grinding, waiting for something to break open. Felt the softness of my brain. Kept thinking it might just ooze out my nose. Soft brain has felled the best of em, I keep saying in my tiny head that today is running itself like a shitty record label. 
Outside the sun was bright and the wind was crisp. 58 degrees is the perfect temperature said a man with white hair and big smile, ‘the air rests on your skin, and your skin won’t try to do anything about it.’ 
When the wind picked up my eyes started watering. Some imp in my head started yelling ‘I’m meeeeeelting’ then a bass line picked up, ‘Shut up dummy, shut up dummy’ and then I walked down the street listening to the inner producer mess with the track until it had some coherence. It wasn’t a good beat, but fuck it, throw it all up on a website and see if anything sticks. 

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Seinfeld called into NPR to talk about coffee. Come on Jerry. Too ‘on brand.’
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Closed my eyes a lot remembered being a little kid thinking about the back of my eye lids. Spent a little time remembering that sensation, but not actively thinking about them now. Found different ways to dance away from shame and solitude. 
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Kept trying to pull a coup and take charge and right this ship. Instead of progress I found different metaphors for inertia. Today my mind worked like a pile of slugs. 
Studio Fridays: Ugly Imagists 
Boston is in a state of martial law. There’s a homicidal Chechen American teenager loose who is not afraid to die. The internet has also been seized. The habitual vanity of a constantly refreshing newsfeed has now been given a heavy plot. 
I guess I’m getting in on this. I can’t seem to stop caring about it. The world is constantly happening in real time and it’s tragic. 

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Here is a long read in the Washington Post called “What are we losing in the Web’s images of suffering and schadenfreude?" by Philip Kennicott. It’s from December so it’s missing a few tragedies.  
He shares this thought at the end:

“The Ugly Image today is inexhaustible, fleeting and transient. It would be reckless to make claims about where this is all going, foolish to suggest that beauty is dead, or ugliness triumphant. But something is happening, some kind of cleft in the moral life that is being widened, channeled out by torrents of small images that invite us to enjoy suffering or think ill of others. ”

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I’m not sure Kennicott’s proposal of the Ugly Image was drawn very cleanly- he makes a thin but entertaining comparision between 16th century flemish painter Quentin Metsys and peopleofwalmart.com
Pictures of the grotesque are something of a specialty of mine. They are different in effect from horrific images- and this is something separate from narrative altogether. It’s true though that the psychological effect of these pictorial tactics are currently flooded into our minds at a tremendous and novel rate.  I want to put some real thinking into this. Note to myself: put some real thinking into this. 
Ugly Imagists - a future essay I’m too agitated to write. Because who will hit the refresh button if I don’t? 
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Terror is just a click away, I can almost touch it. 
I am in a kind of shame cycle of feeling like I have a reasonable empathetic human interest in the psychological profile of an entire city, it’s individuals, this maniac, and the darker instinct that I just want to feed my news monkey. 
Guess I thought it would be cute to have a news monkey and now look at what this thing is doing to me. 
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I have been reading Michael Lewis’ Boomerang - which follows the big swindle of banksters across a global landscape and considers national reactions by their distinct historic and cultural profiles. 
Given the elegant tools of high finance and the opportunity for greed, Lewis’s profiles how Irish behave differently than the Icelandic who behave differently than the Greek. No one is quite as vindictive or successful at bilking others as the Americans.
Teasing out this logic as the effacing journalist, Lewis does a thing that works well in story telling but is much harder to believe in life. He puts the national character to work inside the minds of individuals. 
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Here are some art thoughts about making pictures, maybe they are just life thoughts, yuck they feel syrupy, yuck I want them outside of me:
assemblage life two point oh sorry. Cubicalism. Things made from staring into the desktop, looking for a purpose  a feeling, soul. Tiny pieces of many things. I want half finished, unpolished, personalities smiling, painfully, through heavy applications of big dumb ideas. I am covering up pretty with full hearted slapdashery. I want to keep the transitions clunky. Ugly is better than slick. I want to paint like an oral browser history- a mania retold through spastic anecdotes of possible truthseeking, little flits that can’t remember what they were so excited about. Goopy Mane. sorry that I like you better than everything!!! right now there is an advertisement on my screen for ireland, it says, jump into Ireland and gives a website, ireland.com and that is half covered up by a picture of snipers looking badass and intimidating, fuck you bombkid, also there are so many reminders that facebook exists, PAUL KRUGMAN is pissed about some economists that didn’t use Excel right, Capital One bought a tiny little box next to my search bar so that in case I fuck up my click I might end up thinking about their bank for a minute, wow everything is a wreck- maybe I should restart, wow maybe I should let my eyes fall into the emptiness and wow maybe there is a good reason for the rigorous structure of language, but I keep finding my self circling the drain of my own  lousy metaphor maker… emergent thoughts bubbling up, decedent thoughts sucking down, WOW sometimes all i can think about is WOW. 
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what a mess I’ve made. wow
Studio Fridays: A New Life, Wow 
Wow, I am having nostalgic spasms - little surges of hot memory blinking then slouching back into coiled shells and now I realize I am deep in unforgiving waters.
Wow, I am remembering moving across decades, living whole lives in the small injuries of people I barely knew.
Wow, I am in a spaceship now, visiting an alien land where everything is exactly the same, except now I know it.
Wow- look at these fingerprints, my tiny personal waves. 

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"History is that certainty produced at the point where the imperfections of memory meet the inadequacies of documentation"


—Julian Barnes "The Sense of an Ending"
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Last night I was lying on the couch with Laura and our dog. The dog was exhausted from a day of playing- burying her head into the cushion and sighing. Laura said, “Everything is so perfect right now, we have everything we could ever want,” and then my arm was wet because she was crying. 
She said it was because it couldn’t always be this way. True, I thought, but I didn’t say that or anything. Time is a relentless, brutal enemy. Better to whisper than curse at it. 
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We threw a Mad Men party the other night and good friends came and also new friends who were passing by. I met Jake which is thrilling to me because I feel like he’s achieved a classic straight man / crazy man comic rhythm built on the internet and still thriving after six years. That’s truly amazing. I was genuinely awestruck. What a cool fella. 
Don Draper was back to his destructive joyless plummet into his handsome lonely soul. 
Just before the episode started a friend texted to ask if it was alright to come on acid. I said probably not. I felt old and weirdly out of time. It was like getting a text from the 60’s. 
I’ve been making art for a decade now, spending my time with people also trying to do that, and so I know a lot of folks grappling with the ends of themselves or the middle of some ugly knot. They are getting loose or they are trying to hang on to something or maybe they aren’t sure which. 
I prefer to burn in the middle of myself. I don’t want an escape, or at least not the illicit kind. Something about living in the calibrations of your madness. Something about owning your angst and channeling it. 
Listen to me coach, I’m a self helper!
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Okay, well this has been a real jaunt into the IDK 
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I keep laughing every time I think about Scott singing a cover of Ben Fold’s “Brick” in a Muppet voice. 
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I keep laughing every time I think of Steve playing a male nurse and being harassed about it and saying ‘just you wait until I break through this glass floor’
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Hey check out this guy who built Bishop Castle with his bare hands and hates the government. 
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Hey check out this video called illusions which is part good and part pretty and indulgent without much content, sort of like this post. 
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Hey take care of yourselves Tumblrs, I mean it. You kids with your weird internet names who keep liking my posts are honestly a big part of my fragile ego, I really need to believe some of this non-sense matters sometimes, even if you are mostly bots. 
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Bots Bots Bots Bots Bots Bots… (to the rhythm of LMFAO’s Shots ft. Lil Jon)
Studio Fridays: “I’m Exhausted!”
"I’m exhausted!" is a good way to start a conversation because everyone usually agrees and can empathize. It’s a way to get to the gut of it. The human condition, I mean. 
The opposite approach would be a good sociological experiment. Smile big and lead in with a full chested, “I’m so well rested!” Be prepared for befuddled looks of amazement. 
People brag about the wrong things. Taking naps is an extremely underrated luxury. 
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Right now I am so tired that my face feels like a heavy mask ready to slip off and expose my blobfish brain. The mucus in my eyeballs is made of slow drying Elmer’s glue.
I was in Harlem last night rehearsing a sketch about landing on Mars with Jon. He is great.
To get there I left dinner early from a place where the waiters all try to walk out with the food at the same time and put it on the table for everyone like it’s some kind of magic trick.
I finished the night at a strange bar with velvet ropes that made it unclear who was being kept from whom. I found myself playing some unnamed game, trying to slide a metal disk across a sandy plank of wood for points. At some juncture we stopped keeping score. It was charming how difficult the game was to master- so delicate and so meaningless. 
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Tilda Swinton sometimes sleeps in a big plastic box at art galleries and recently she did it at the MoMA. Good work Tilda - I am for this. I don’t want to hear an explanation of it. It makes sense. 
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Exhaustion distorts your perception of quality. It shouldn’t be trusted. Halfbaked, undercooked ideas feel qualified. They feel ‘good enough’… even better for their lack of completion. The willingness to leave before the job was finished- before the surface was even scratched. 
Studio Fridays: ‘Anyone who talks about their art in an elevator is a sociopath.’

Adam and I had lunch the other day at Isa, a farm to table sort of joint in Williamsburg. Overhead three helicopters kept circling the neighborhood and flying low and tight. Adam asked ‘What could three helicopters do that one couldn’t do?’ 



I  was telling him about the project I’m producing with Steve Soroka- which is easiest to describe as a Brother & Sister comedy meets Sliding Doors with Gwenyth Paltrow. Are you laughing yet!?! The conceit sounds sticky but Steve’s writing is sharp and it flows. 

The thing about telling stories, about describing your work in progress is that it often feels like the project itself is running away from you. It’s an effort to define a thing in motion. When I am most lucid and when it seems important that the person understands, I try to approach this like a physics problem with the equation and the variables explained, giving an indication of the expected result. Other times I am the detective describing the perpetrator. In the best cases, I am more like the victim. 

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I remember an afternoon in grad school when my friend Francesco, who was just then becoming an abstract painter, skipped out on a lunch time lecture about professional practice. There was a sign up sheet and bullet points on how to start ‘building your career.’ Francesco raised his eyebrows when he got to the ‘elevator pitch.’ 

‘Anyone who talks about their art in an elevator is a sociopath.’ 

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Since deciding to produce this project, I have been talking with everyone I know who works in film or television or comedy about the best practices for bringing a thing into the world. Strong opinions on everything are flowing through my mind, contradicting, swallowing entire afternoons. We have given ourselves a strict deadline- the late submission for the New York Film pilot competition. 

Do you like comedy? Want to work in the industry? Hey come be a PA on this project. The pay is lousy and the hours are terrible, but damn- the days will fly into a dreamlike mystery tunnel of optimism and purity, a devil may care attitude will consume your rational mind as you ponder the 

It’s fairly amazing that anything ever gets made in highly collaborative creative fields. There are so many opportunities for art to fail, and so many issues that have to be resolved in fair and pragmatic ways. 

For posterity I’m writing this, but also because I think it’s true:

My job is to allow Steve to do what he’s best at. It’s an exciting thing to enable and empower someone whose work you admire. Over the last year and a half I have seen him consistently find the funny in the ethers of improv. 

I’m thrilled to be working with him on this. Steve seems to assume that later we will fight to the death over a saltine cracker. Isn’t that how these things have to go? But currently we are in a productive and panic induced bliss state. 

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Since joining the PIT House Sketch team a few weeks ago I have been working on unique ways to fit more time in the day. One life hack is memorizing lines while I walk my dog and run other errands. 

On the plus side this has a calming effect on the otherwise chaotic spiral of worry, contempt, fear, lust, confusion, etc., that generally consumes my inner dialogue between the times I’ve set aside for applied outlets for those things. 

On the negitive it has turned me into a raving public lunatic. In one sketch I play a vampire named Vladimir. The voice I’ve given him is an exaggerated Leslie Neilsein cartoon of a vampire - and so now I am walking down the streets by myself speaking in a high vampire saying ‘Children of the Darkness, Brothers and Sisters, tonight we dine on human flesh!” 

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Pictured above is a shot from my studio where we hosted a passover Seder. I am not jewish but I love someone who is and so this happened. It was extremely fun, which I’m told is not the adjective most often associated with a Seder. 

I am currently in Sarasota Florida to celebrate easter? which should give you an idea of the cultural relativity and contradiction I’m gorging on. I’m  writing the end of this post in a kind of frantic pace as my nieces and nephews work on sharing toys and dancing. My life is increasingly a disconnected series of ******** vignettes ******* with only the slenderest ****** moments of ******** continuity.

Maybe someday I will settle into a comfortable groove and google my old habits and laugh at the chaos. Maybe I will be able to summarize my plot lines and story arcs in a sensible and exciting way. 

As it stands I am circling erratically, scouting targets, chasing every instant with some giggling abandon. I think I know what the third helicopter is for.
Studio Fridays: Another Shit Show
Anna and I made a pact to see the Basquiat show today. Even so I think she was surprised to see me which is understandable because any plans made at an art opening are usually more like sketches than final drafts. Also Will’s exhibition was titled “Another Shit Show,” and it was that. More on that Shit later


Together we made a quick lunch time dash. Gagosian on 24th is basically a museum without any information: here is some devine shit from some other universe- deal with it! 
Also the scale of the architecture is shocking in New York. It would be a very cool place to play a game of basketball. The Basquiats look great. I would like to have one or to roll around on top of one. I would like to kiss one or eat it, or just touch it for a while. I wonder if there is a club for people who have had sex in front of a Basquiat painting. You could still call it the Mile High club. 
Like many forms of highly emotive and expressive art, Basquiat’s voice is over consumed. It’s easy to worry that your response to it is second hand and influenced by fame- or to go through phases of love and regret with a spirit that burned brightly and burned out so young. 
I resist letting go. I like the too tragic warrior poet heroine addict super taster too beautiful for this ugly life tortured genius narrative. 
As if set in a play, a despondent middle school art teacher spotted my longish hair and shitty leather jacket and asked if I could please explain the work to her rambunctious students. 
I said a lot of things about Jazz and expression, graffiti, spontaneity - I thought I was selling them on it. At some point I asked— do you guys like this stuff? 
Yes! they said… but HOW do we MAKE it? 
Oh. 
Later Anna was saying that it was probably good that we didn’t talk about the drugs. 
It’s hard to explain the subtle difference in inspiration and creativity between something that’s a symptom and something that’s a cause. 
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Hey remember Will Kurtz from earlier in this post? He’s the guy in the picture talking to the reporter at the top. 
Will Kurtz sculpts life like people and dogs from newspaper and the dogs are sniffing each other and taking dumps and being dogs. It’s luddite friendly, no MFA needed, fun for the whole shitty family. 
Kurtz is in on the joke- the comedy of the work- which is total. I went to grad school with Will and watched him grow his newspaper-mache into a living cartoon world.
 I particularly like that his approach irritates self serious people. On the train home I overheard a recognizable art critic dismiss the show. New York is small and shitty like that sometimes. “Not worth mentioning,” he said and then flatly contradicted himself (I KNOW RIGHT!?) when he showed a picture on his phone to someone with very dyed hair. “I kind of love it,” she said. 
Then they carried on in casual slacker tones about anything but art- playing down their intelligence to enjoy each other’s company. Maybe I’m projecting. 
Somewhere a lost soul fingers the “Art Prices” tab of a once critical publication now a media honey pot of rich people flarff and taps away nervously at the porcelain caps on their still rotting teeth… 
I am forever with the makers who learn how to eat their brains and serve their feelings. I am with the gritty and the stupid who are comfortable with their dumb and vulnerable flailing. I feel sick and sad when I see the tidy responses to smArt works left vacuous to appease the vanity of the critic- who feels empowered by the empty space. Shit Shows are fine. More Shit Shows. 

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Another artist I dig and met this week was Leah Shore. I had the chance to read the script for her up coming project and it’s going to be excellent.
Leah can animate the hell out things. I insulted her by mentioning Bill Plympton. She knew him or whatever and liked him or whatever, but I was being too obvious in my reference point or whatever. 
There was a poem I read on the back of my metro card by a guy named Billy Collins:

Grand Central
The city orbits around eight million
centers of the universe

and turns around the golden clock
at the still point of this place.

Lift up your eyes from the moving hive
and you will see time circling

under a vault of stars and know
just when and where you are.


Okay Billy Collins, but sometimes I’m gonna get right down in the immediate orbit of those universes and fuck some shit up, okay? Will try to stay distant and reflective too. Will try to gaze at the stars while fucking in the ditch, etc, something like that. 
******
The Hypocrites Oath:
First do no harm. 
Second, fuck shit up. 
******

On March 25th-31st Nick Cave and Creative Time are going to have some two person horse monster suit things dancing like mad in Grand Central station. 
Horse people will dance and you won’t know when or where you are. Creative Time is gonna make you feel weird and happy and your universe will spin into a mess of unthinky joy- so silly and pure it rises to the level of profound reflection- what is this ground I stand on and the bones I’m stuck to and the rhythms, humors, tremblings from which they shake? 
SHAKE ME NICK CAVE. Shake me bro. 
Studio Fridays: OMG IS LIKE DEAD
We are playing a friendly game of poker in a high-rise over looking ground zero and someone asks about the lines to visit the memorial. Rex tells us that you have to book reservations ahead of time and also that if you know the right people you can get a private tour. Very Important Grievers. 

There is a discussion going on about Matthew Keys, a social media manager who was just indicted for sharing passwords with Anonymous so they could hack some things. No one understands what it means to be indicted and not arrested. There are 8 of us here, most work in media or think about media a lot. A few of us try to explain it and then give up. The indicted person then tweets that he found out about the indictment on Twitter. 
In a coffee shop the next day I overhear a guy saying, “…damn man, she Google Shamed you…”
"what?"
"you know, when someone doesn’t bother to explain something to you and they just say, oh, you don’t know about that shit? Google it."
"ha! Google Shame. G Shame" 

******
In seventh grade a kid named Aaron, who wore backwards fitted baseball hats and ran faster than any human I’d previously met, used the word “tight” as a compliment - he was talking about a music video he liked. It blew my mind. I was cringing on the inside, panicked with jealousy, exalted by the possibilities… but I couldn’t just start saying it. “That’s tight!”
Updating your slang took courage or insanity… I was as modest as a mouse.
*****
In highschool I wrote a paper comparing various uses of rodent metaphors and imagery in contemporary culture. The band Modest Mouse appropriated their name from a line in a Virginia Woolf story “The Mark on the Wall” which as far as I can remember, was about a narrator waxing philosophical as to how a mark got on the wall in the first place. It was about how you could never know exactly what left the impression- examining it was possible, theorizing, but the thing was there before you understood it, and so it contained an elapsed and eternal mystery.
I googled a quote from the story and it’s real pretty: “

I understand Nature’s game—her prompting to take action as a way of ending any thought that threatens to excite or to pain. Hence, I suppose, comes our slight contempt for men of action—men, we assume, who don’t think. Still, there’s no harm in putting a full stop to one’s disagreeable thoughts by looking at a mark on the wall.

Also I spent a lot of time thinking about a lyric that still echos in my head apropos nothing- “despite all my rage, I am still just a rat in a cage.” Wow. Ouch. Damn Billy, you were so mad and so right. 
After Mickey became too high pitched and exploitative, these were the rodents I knew and cared about. 
At the time this information seemed crucial and prescient. I also remember thinking it was hard to find this information because a 56k modem made the internet feel like running in a shallow pool of molasses. 
It mattered more to me then- to understand what kind of brain I had. A fast one or a slow one, and what particular things I’d be good at. I thought I could get out ahead of this and use it to my advantage. I wanted to find the right way to describe myself to myself. If I found the words, if they were true, then I could make the right improvements. I still think about that from time to time, mostly when I’m depressed. 
****
How could Aaron have come up with such a ridiculous way to say that something was awesome? He must have heard it somewhere and then just dropped it in. But damn. Who did he know? How did they FIND this thing. “That’s tight!” Was it sexual? JESUS!
I had a thesaurus on my night stand and when I couldn’t sleep I’d flip through the pages with no agenda- trying to discover new ways to say old things. That night I stared at my thesaurus with contempt. It looked like a  graveyard of excuses. 
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LOL that last section about the thesaurus was truly melodramatic.
The thing about Aaron saying tight was true and the thing about looking at a thesaurus before bed was also true- but I kept doing that for a long time even after I heard Aaron use the word ‘tight’ and thought it was awesome. 
"That’s tight" didn’t live very long in my mouth. Sometimes now I say ‘tight bro,’ but I use it with an apathetic baritone as if my voice has been deep friend in irony. Usually it gets a laugh. It’s a dish that should be served sparingly.   
I remember myself sometimes as the meek person who lived an awkward childhood and sometimes as a heroic one who stood outside of my body, cognizant of the future. Here I am now, coaching the past like a director. 
One thing I do know-
I always laugh when someone says OMG in conversation. It’s really great. Wow, I think. What a funny thing to do to words. I love them, I want to marry them.
How will I explain to my unborn children that I used to say “that’s tight” when I meant that I loved something? 
How will I say anything to anyone at all?
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 I can’t remember a thing. Everything’s moving, falling, slipping, vanishing…. There is a vast upheaval of matter. Someone is standing over me and saying  “I’m going out to buy a newspaper.’  “Yes?”  “Though it’s no good buying newspapers…. Nothing ever happens. Curse this war; God damn this war!… All the same, I don’t see why we should have a snail on our wall.”    Ah, the mark on the wall! It was a snail.
Studio Fridays: Madcap sketches of Armory Week
The painting above is by a guy named Jonathan Meese. He seems like a real trip. Meese is some german version of an emotionally unstable Dave Grohl. I consider him my new fashion icon. he’s not okay. I like him. 
His painting stood out to me because it was big and angry and silly and he made a swastika on it which is truly taking a dump on a thing you’re in theory trying to sell. Watch the video above to hear his rationale behind this and also his leering psychobabble and riff on scarlet johansson as pure art. 
I’m not saying his work is heroic. It just stood out given the context. I do like the paintings in the end. He seems genuinely fucking crazy in a good way I guess. He is a raging ambivalent. 

*****
A few hours walking through any fair will turn anyone into a marshmallow. 
Here are some things that happened Wednesday night at the MoMA party
I saw Jay Z and Beyonce watching Solange Knowles perform. They looked like humans basically and acted that way too.
There was a cute little kid there aged 6-10 drinking a 32 ounce coca cola and being awesome in a stroller. Not sure if was a performance piece calling out Mayor Bloomberg and his nanny state
Almost no one was listening to Klaus Beisenbach or Noah Horowitz as they tried to introduce Liz Magic Laser’s project and show her short video.
People were drinking and talking instead. Some of the bartenders were gorgeous male models- standard new york but seemed particularly funny this night 
Liz Magic Laser is a real person and I liked her project and it didn’t really fuck with anyone very hard, but whatever, griping about art fairs is tough material and she played around with it, idk
******
I sat across from a collector for an hour or so at a ‘private club’ (LOL) and listened to his strong opinions. He asked to see my work which I showed him on a cell phone and then he launched into his ideas about how to improve them. That was fun. I didn’t get a chance to share my opinions on how to improve his client’s investment portfolio, or even ask him to whip it out so we could look over it. I’m sure we’ll get to that next time. I buy a lot of products so I’m pretty sure I’ve got a keen understand of the business fundamentals that drive the general economy. As a lifetime consumer, I’m pretty sure I’ve got a solid understanding of how everything works. Just my opinion. 
Art fairs aren’t really a place where artists go to get respect. There is a high correlation of people who have the money to collect with people who assume you are interested in what they have to say. 
It’s not hard to understand why a collector would feel like their opinion has value in the fair system. It’s because they undeniably do. Please que up Money Talks by AC/DC on your spotify and listen to it for the rest of this post. 
****
I go into a deeply passive state when I’m listening to someone who I have very little in common with. Some strange trigger goes off in my head and I play into it. I want to hear more so I goad them to keep talking- I become a cheerleader and a peace maker looking for insane connections in our logical frameworks. I really want to hear it. It’s an odd tick because I always end up drunk in opinions I’m pretty sure are toxic. I guess bad ideas are my anti-drug. 
***
Next year I think I’m going to fly Jonathan Meese out here and hire a bunch of oiled up male models to carry him around on a throne and have him talk at people until everyone explodes. Look for me on the cover of art forum!
Studio Fridays: The Steve Martin, Comedy and Art, It’s All Really Happening Edition
The image above is from a series of paintings I’ve been making in a kind of manic art brut die brucke sludge core attack attack attack sort of way. I am happy with the results in the confines of my studio but I’m not sharing much of them for fear that sunlight will melt the wax heart of my inner monster. To be continued…

*****
Steve Martin wrote a biography called “Born Standing Up" and this week I listened to the audio recording while I painted. It is a beautiful and sprawling book. The recording is great because Martin performs the bits he’s referencing in their appropriate rhythm.
I was knocked over by the depth and range of his self assessment. He’s spent a lifetime honing the craft of being serious about being irreverent. His insights to originality, inspiration and creativity are nuanced and expansive. His art is about context and surprise. The bits are cheap but their execution and delivery is wise. He is performing the moronic sage: poundwise and penny foolish.
Although I’ve been spending a lot of time with performers I’ve tried to stay away from the weighty and critical conversation about the parallels of comedy and art. There’s much to talk about and I’m currently dancing over huge swaths of the comedy landscape, fearful of bringing too much baggage. But Born Standing Up is a heroic portrait of an artist.
Martin addresses the conflict of writing about the era of his standup career as writing more of a biography than an autobiography. This book, he says, is about ‘somebody that he used to know.’ Looking over his shoulder, Martin lauds the value of naivety in pursuing a passion. 
******
Hearing people talk about auditions has always charmed the masochistic part of my creative spirit. Martin points out that comedians talk about having a good show as ‘murdering them,’ and as having a bad show as ‘dying out there.’
The closest a painter gets to this kind of crisis is the grad school critique. But that is more of an autopsy than an execution. 
******
Last Saturday I auditioned for a slot on the People Improv Theatre house sketch team.
I found out on Tuesday that I made the team. I’m thrilled about it. 
Hey URL friends! Soon you can watch me live or die in public. 
Studio Fridays: Smells like Tumblr Spirit

Here are some loosely connected thoughts on Truth, Improv, Hyperallergic’s Tumblr Art Symposium, Kurt Cobain, more, etc. If your media diet is unstable, this post might not be for you. It’s undercooked and erratic. Let me tell you about my busy week:

Recently I have been working with a lot of Improv performers at the Peoples Improv Theatre and the Upright Citizen’s Brigade. 
One of the things we do before a practice is briefly summarize our weeks by sharing some quick stories. It’s a helpful ritual to get on the same page before jumping into performative exercises. Here we are sharing our reality before we attempt to invent realities. 
I’ve noticed that I often find it hard to access my week- my first instinct is to find the center- an emotional impression instead of a specific event: “well I know I feel like I was really busy, but I can’t think of anything that I did in particular…”
This is not a good way to talk about life- as though it’s a blur of indistinguishable moments I’m flowing through on an emotional current. It’s a design flaw in layout of my personal theme. It’s the infinite scroll and not the structural archive. Forgive me if I begin overlaying Tumblr metaphors onto cognition again. 
Memories are inventions- a linking of visual and emotional data filtered through a need for narrative continuity. Memories are interior performances to appease the tastes of an inner tyrant. Dance for me brain- ENTERTAIN ME!
Lying is when we expand the audience of our memories to include the perceived perceptions of other tyrants. Lying is when we consciously or subconsciously try to anticipate the reaction of others and enhance or alter our own movements to coerce them to dance with us. Here we are now- ENTERTAIN US!
I feel like most episodes of Radio Lab eventually start talking about this. 
I was thinking a lot about the difficulty any individual voice has with being truthful. The monologist is involved in a kind of world building exercise that uses the bricks of reality and the mortar of “insight” to construct a form that can consolidate and contain time and space. 
We are all unreliable narrators of our own experience, no less the observable world. What rings true is highly creative and imaginative act. 
It’s a convoluted thought and hard to unpack. I end up jumping the tracks and looking for a metaphor:
Here is a link of Kurt Cobain’s isolated vocals from Smells Like Teen Spirit. 
How eerie he sounds outside of the arrangement.  How disorienting it sounds to leave the silence between his soaring rage. A lot goes into justifying that tone.
****
I was thinking about the upcoming Tumblr Art symposium at Hyperallergic. Here is the first essay in the series by Ben Valentine.
Formally talking about Tumblr presents a reliable narrator problem. A presenter might talk about the structure of the service and how it dictates use. They might discuss personal experience with, you know, tumbling.
Ben’s approach was to write an insightful piece that begins broadly and quickly focuses in on those using the service as an artform in and of itself. Tumblr as the medium.
There’s a lot of very cool stuff that he shares. The creativity in response to the service is definitely vast and interesting. He highlights some of the inherent problems with thinking of the service as an artform: 

This quick and easy dissemination of content is great, but it creates an issue: sustained attention on a single work is hard to come by, therefore deemphasizing authorship. This is problematic, at best, for a traditional artistic practice. A Tumblr viewer could conceivably click on every image and follow each link through to it source, but there are thousands of photographs surrounding it, so why bother? 

Valentine also addresses the scale and accessibility issue. 
Assigning weight to the insight to any particular voice inside of a 91 million person community inherently involves a lot of politics and imagination. 
Last week a Tumblr user I follow posted a vague and general gripe about not being paid attention to, and a lack of ‘customer service.’ Don’t know what he was referring to. I unfollowed.  It seemed weird for any one person to think their voice was needed here or they could have a complaint that needed to be addressed immediately. I suppose the push towards using this platform as a business tool comes part and parcel with this kind of thinking. Even Valentine who was writing about the artistic possibilities of the forum talked about “web 2.0” artists who thought about the service in terms of cost / benefit. 
It’s true that there are some venues and realities that are worth battling for attention. But in this free to use mash up world we are only as interesting as our own force of imagination allows. Entitlement is wasted pulp fiction. 
***
This tumblr passed the 100,000 follower mark last week and I thought to myself: “huh, I really have spent a lot of time starring at this service.” Felt like I set a high score on Q*Bert. I feel stupid and contagious! 
I look forward to all of the myth making in front of me. It’s cool that maybe some people will indulge it possibly. Feel hopeful that more people will join in the dance I’m doing. Feel like it’s surprising and erratic. Want to mosh my way out of confusion and jealousy. Want to say truthful things in life and in art whatever the forum. 
A MULLATO!
AN ALBINO!
A MOSQUITO!
MY LIBDO!
HEY!!!!!