I realised the other day that some people are still reading these blog posts. I’ve been negligent about posting lately due to a sense of pointlessness and a fear of redundancy. I write every day as a habit, for myself and with the idea of presenting some of the things as a record of what I’ve survived in book form one of these days. Its also pretty clear that I don’t need a point. Despite appearances, no one has one, even if we’re convinced we do and imagine we see them everywhere. I can’t see any point in the news, but every day it is aired three times a day by major networks and constantly on CNN, Facebook, gmail, yahoo, google and countless other mind numbing informational injection sources we are bombarded by in the age of information. I can’t see the point of knowing that people somehow finally measured the proof of Einstein’s theory of relativity because they were finally able to hear the wave aftermath of two colliding black holes. Still that bit of news seems more relevant in some oblique and beautiful way than the Republican debates, which seem to occupy the other end of the spectrum of things, (if there is such a thing as value in the universe, which there also apparently isn’t).
Its now one year since I landed and stayed put in Brooklyn. I’ve been working on art and living in a complicated yet friendly building aptly named “Hotel”. The residents are a rare mix of artists and writers (all younger than me), rare because its rare I get along with them all so easily. The place used to be an SRO (single room occupancy) and the structure of independent apartment like rooms with shared kitchen, toilets and laundry is unique these days. The neighbourhood real estate is a topic I refuse to address other than to say this way of living, for the marginally employed artists who live here, is lucky and will be short lived in all likelihood. This situation was another in a long series of lucky finds for me. For some reason its always been painless for me to find a spot to settle once I decide to come to New York. I discovered this place on line while I was in India last February thinking it might be time for me to settle down for a little bit and see what that felt like. After a few years of living without a base the idea finding a way to get these “horrible paintings” I was making into the world was weighing on me.The listing was the only one I looked at and responded to once I had that idea. As it turns out, the place is run by someone I know. As soon as I got back and set eyes on it heard the price I knew it would be stupid not to take it. Three spacious, (albeit not too bright), rooms with very high ceilings and an elevated train right outside the front, (and only) windows rumbles past with unfortunate regularity, but I don’t care. The crazy street energy and racket of Broadway filled with the a mix of young art types, and the remaining population of working class and drug addled patients from the hospital around the corner feels right. I was missing the chaos I seem to thrive on. Quiet places are alright but can be oppressive after you are alone in them long enough. You start turning in upon yourself under certain circumstances in the most idyllic places. I took the place with the understanding that I could leave at a months notice.
A year has passed, I’ve been lucky not to work too much for money while maintaining a regular studio practice during the year I’ve been here. It has been a blast, like going from cooking on a Coleman camp stove to cooking in a real kitchen. The work is as far from finding a home in the art world as it was when I moved in, but at least I’m in the place where it could happen. My limited social habits being what they are, I am always on the verge of becoming a shut in. But that’s the case no matter where I go. At least here I can call someone and meet for a coffee within a few hours. I am also surrounded by others at home, but not invasively so. The people in the building have been without exception, interesting and very easy to be around, and for the most part completely uninterested in the spiritual thing, (as far as I can tell). I have been immersed again into the life of an artist living in obscurity in the capital of that business. Even this neighbourhood, which was unknown to me ten years ago, is now a burgeoning scene.
For a decade I spent most of my time around people with little interest in art or what I was scribbling on those pieces of paper. UG repeatedly told me I was the worst painter he had ever or would ever meet and that no one would EVER, EVER buy that crap I was making. Well, I am still here and still carrying on with it. What can I do if after 5 years of that abuse or advice, (not sure what it was), I still can’t stop. I’ve resigned myself to it. At some level I had to say Fuck it to the old geezer’s advice, however or whatever it meant. And sure enough, once again here I am filling up space with the inventions of an incessant creative habit. I am helpless. Dreams I once had to throwing it all into a dumpster, have been mitigated by the reality that when I go elsewhere on the planet with little but a suitcase in hand, I recreate the studio in whatever hotel room, temporarily occupied apartment, or rented house, whether in Germany, Spain, California or south India. Whether I am there for a few days, a week or a month I seem to need to do this thing.
He also said, “you better throw those bastards out… all of them… “, including himself in this category, so even though its quite impossible to do, (nor is it perhaps really actually necessary), I continue to hold him in my orbit or vice versa, while going about this peculiar nonsense.
While making actual money in a support industry of the business of peddling art, it has become overwhelmingly obvious that we live within a culture that doesn’t really deserve to be called high or valuable. The civilisation it celebrates and the people who collect art continue to fuck our planet in every way imaginable. I have no choice but to participate in this mess while I watch it crumble. There is no way out of our situation. Its too late to turn back the clock. So far, every revolution seems to result in a new form of subtle lock down on human rights or ideology for the masses and for a lucky few of us, life gets better.
Almost every day I get on the M train to cross the East River into Manhattan. Its my favourite train because of the elevated views in any weather, at any time of day. From the bridge the water is sparkling no matter what time of day or kind of weather. The enormous miasma of Brooklyn passes by and up and over the Williamsburg bridge you go into the toy puzzle of Manhattan, layed out from the blocks of low income housing in the foreground as you descend into the island, to the glistening towers of the corporate scum in midtown. The spectacle of seething humanity and what we as a species have created, is mesmerising, horrible and beautiful to behold. On the train I’m surrounded by every imaginable ethnicity, cultural influence, mostly from the lower to middling economic representation of these groups. There are hoards of uniquely outfitted tattoos and fashion statements, anything goes, every sexual orientation is allowed, celebrated, brandished with abandon. Its refreshing and I’m happy to be here after running from it for so long. We are at a point were we exist within a rubric’s cube of misery and enchantment, the intricacies of which never cease to amaze me. None of these people are offering an escape I can engage in, but its fun to watch them. After the impact of UG my expectations of people and culture and the future of humanity have been effectively stripped of their purported ideal futures and meanings. Since the dust of a million contrails has settled there remains a set of eyes on this peculiar scenario we are immersed in. The wonder peaking through the wreckage goes on for the time being.