I was at my friends house, we were two weird outcasts in a large suburban high school in upstate New York, the kind of high school that was a breeding school for future Greek Fraternity hazing of the worst kind, izod shirts with upturned collars and docksider shoes. I had long hair that was an unruly mess and had, despite my small size a reputation of not to mess with, cause I was completely willing to get into it, or at least it seems in hindsight. Nothing scares a much larger opponent than staring them in the face without backing down, they’re so use to timidity that to have someone stand up breaks their paradigm, not that I knew what paradigm was back then.
My friend pulled out this album with incredible excitement, “you have to listen to this.” He drops it on the turntable and starts playing “London Calling”, the crashing guitars, the sheer aggression of the sound in comparison to the standard fare of our FM diet was…honestly, hard to grab onto. I had a difficult time with music at that time, Fleetwood Mac, Bread, Rush, Journey and a ton of real dreck that I couldn’t identify with but I could understand the music saccharine as it was but here, hear was this noise. But that noise seeped into me, that afternoon my friend laid down The Specials first album and then I understood. This was music that was addressing my alienation and then in its unfolding filled me with a sense of direction, that direction, growing up in a conservative town with kids my same age so willingly desiring to fill their parents shoes, to follow without question what was given to them, given what felt, smelled and tasted like some horrible corruption of the self, a denial of the self and in its replacement was a self full of hollow aspirations. Ideals that led to the Reagan era and hence to the shit we live in now. I spent my high school years in a town that wasn’t that much different in values than Columbine, my saving grace was that my parents gave me when I was younger access to art, music and literature that I didn’t understand at the time but it was there, it was on the bookshelf, it was there if I wanted to seek it, questions were ok, my family life was hell but that, that other access that they gave me, made up for it in the long run, even in the short, in hindsight.
I appreciate that Painters Table and other blogs sometimes link to me but art is not made in a vacuum. My approach to art, to life to everything, goes back to those days. Those days wandering around NYC with my mom and sister in tow going here and there, there in ways not unlike De Kooning’s “Gotham News” as I said earlier in this blog, growing up after leaving the city on a farm with no indoor plumbing with my Grandfather who road his motorcycle at the age of 63 out to Mexico, a Grandfather with long white hair who always held court at dinner about politics, culture, more politics, science, art and architecture on that freezing farm house while his father, a former auto and aircraft engineer scowled in rage at the injustices he experienced in his life.
I wonder where this resistance to the status quo comes from, for me it may not appear so oblique (my sister however is of the 1%), my son, now 11, my son, who is bi-racial told me over a year ago that he felt Obama was elected to make sure black people wouldn’t protest over his policies, policies that have been detrimental to our democracy. A man who made many promises of hope but then has amped up the national security state, has gone after whistle blowers with a vengeance not seen in any other administration and and and and I keep my politics to myself, his mother is very conservative despite the fact her father was one of the last socialists from the Caribbean. My son comes out with that nugget.
Is it genetic and culture? I think so. In reading Paul Corio’s blog tonight after having dinner with him and Mr. Stone from HenriMag and with my background in animal behavior and science come to this conclusion, most human endeavors are based on a human need to be accepted, social recognition and sexual recognition from the opposite sex are of so much importance, more importance than we even acknowledge. The Industrial Arts Complex doesn’t know where to turn but they want something “real” because they know they live in a world of navel gazing lies. And then, then they have to have the nerve to say, you need to be an “outsider” to succeed, succeed at what? They wouldn’t recognize an outsider if it were to slap them in the face because the complexity of the dialogue is beyond them. Duchamp might have said the artist in the future will be underground, he or she would have to be as this artworld doesn’t have the nerve or gumption to look out beyond their narrow world view, it is not surprising, they’ve received everything from books and not from both books (I don’t want to devalue books and learning for truthiness) and the real world lived, they’ve never looked into the mirror and saw fear, the feelings of being a fraud, death and meaninglessness. Only on that reflection of the true nature of ones meaning and being can there ever be a gasp and perhaps, perhaps if ones ego is strong enough to say No, does one struggle and say, I will make meaning.
And Jesus said, the meek shall inherit the earth, he failed to mention, that it would be six feet under.
And mea culpa for this nostalgia and rant, the year 50 beckons shortly, 50 that I wasn’t sure many years ago that I would make, 50 that makes me wonder for the future of my son, 50 that makes me wonder where are we going, 50 that makes me wonder, who the hell am I and have I done any good works worthy of my ambitions, hopes and aspirations.
Coming soon, Welt am Draht et al. Perverts of the world unite.