Thursday, January 26, 2006

The Candidate Slept Here

Well, it looks like we have a house guest. Our ole' friend Pete is lodging with the paintings in my studio and yes, we took the hamster cage out before he got here (and the hamster found a jostled toob connection and used the opportunity last night to bust out of captivity and binge on dropped goldfish crackers, cement-like oatmeal, and an orange peel and eventually passed out in the garbage can under the kitchen sink where we found her in distended belly bliss this morning. But that's another blog for another blogger. Unless you people want to hear more about the hamster. Do you?)

It may surprise you to think that I know someone like this, but Pete is an idealistic young contender for the Utah Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate. He's tired of people (such as I) complaining and doing nothing about their government so he's kicked the victimish lethargy to the curb and hit the campaign trail. If he won, do you realize he would pull the seat out from that 20 (or so) term Orrin Hatch who loves Alito and eavesdropping and all things Bush? It's tough going against someone so well-funded, but Pete does seem to be accruing a following of people who think that Hatch has had his turn and doesn't represent the people well. Well, Pete hasn't cut an album or anything, but he does have a history in the Utah rave scene. Pete was none other than DJ XDZebra. You may have heard of him? No. That's ok.
When I first met him, Pete lived in the slummy row houses near Pioneer Park where Dan and I first lived and he went around talking about Sting and the Police and the Internet. This was 1991 or so. If you recall, there was no Internet then. Not really. Not like you see it right now with all the cartoon pictures and colors all over the screen. As I recall, it was white letters on a black screen in the closet of a nail salon in convenient proximity to the essential University. That was the Internet then. Pete was on fire about it. We thought he was weird. We were wrong.
Pete brought the rumor of the Internet to reality in Utah with the first ISP in the state. He started it with little more than high hopes and pocket lint and Xmission is now a huge part of technoculture in Utah.
So Pete agreed to an interview for this blog. Kind of. Ok, maybe he won't exactly know he's being interviewed. I'm not sure how to approach this. I'll ask my friend Julie who does good blog interviews.

Well then, you can help. Will you help? Do you have questions for a senatorial hopeful/technogeek? Please help me or else I'll end up asking stupid things like, we know he's an Englishman in New York, but is Sting really a legal Alien? Have we seen his papers?
Or, If you were to cut an album, what would you call it?
Give me questions, people.

As one senator from New York said, it takes a bunch of questions to raise an interview. Or something.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Loving the Alien

Today on the subway an old man with really cool vintage glasses like Elvis Costello's in the seventies and a homeless-style knit hat was shuffling up to each and every person, screwing his face up into theirs, and asking them, person to person, if he could have some of their money. He wasn't giving the song and dance at all. His method was direct and suprisingly effective. I wish I could do that. I can't even ask a waiter for my check.
Another subway guy gained my respect last Friday.
I was hunched over and scribbling away on my spiral notebook doing my best at my own song and dance/sob story. There's a do-goody foundation in Colorado that will give free studio space in NYC to the 14 artists with the best neediness. At that moment, I felt I was on fire and like I might nail that studio afterall with my well-worded great need. Then a pee-smelling raggedy old man sat next to me. Please don't talk to me, please don't talk to me, please don't talk to me, I noislessly begged him as I curled into myself.
Well he talked to me.
Pee Guy: Are you a student or something?
Me: Um, no.
PG: What you writin' about there?
Me: I'm just scribbling.
PG: Is it January?
Me: Yeah. End of January (scribble, scribble, hunch, hunch.)
PG: Well, it just gets confusing. We usually don't come down until April and it feels like April. And now I don't really know what to do. I'm not sure where to go until April.
Me: It does feel like April.
PG: Your planet is getting very warm. We usually don't come until April.
Me: My planet?
PG: I'm from another planet.
Me: (No longer scribbling, still hunched.) Another planet?
PG: My planet is called, Ah-Ah. We usually don't come down until April and I am really confused. I don't know where to go.

At this point, a guy behind us who was stiff with religious ferver and couldn't contain himself turned around to the alien.

Religious: Brother, you need to turn right now to your Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Only He can help you get through what you're going through. He helped me and he can help you. Turn to him right now. Right NOW!
PG: We don't have Jesus Christ on our planet.
Religious: Brother, I tell you this out of love. You must turn your heart today to Jesus.
PG: Well, I think this is my stop.
Religious: This is my stop too. You can make it out of the place you are in. He can save you too.

The train stopped and the alien hightailed it out with the Jesus Freak full of the spirit and closing in. Right as the doors were sliding closed, the alien slipped back into the train. The subway lurched forward and he made his way back to the seat next to me.

PG: You'll have to pardon me. I had to get rid of that guy.

I wish I were as deft as that alien.

Friday, January 13, 2006


Some of those little things that didn't seem right to my uncitified self have over time become alright. Not just alright. Good, somehow.

  • The grocery delivery guy has no reservations about stepping into my studio after dropping off my order to look at what I'm painting. Same goes for the locksmith, the plumber, and the UPS guy. Except for the locksmith who called me goth and spooky, I have enjoyed the honest opinions and apt critiques of these otherwise strangers.
  • The laundry guy (who is the sweetest man in my life) pushes a makeshift cart for his rounds around the neighborhood all day. He waves to everyone while he pushes a dishwasher-sized box constructed of 2 x 4's mounted with bungee and c-clamps to an old wheelchair. The community's laundry, Armani to Ann Taylor, hangs and swings from a raised horizontally mounted broomstick. At first, I thought this was very unprofessional. I thought he must be hurting for business if he can't afford a proper cart. Now I know, this is a proper cart.
  • The mailman sorts the mail at Dragon Garden every single day while he leisurely lunches on sloppy, saucy, Chinese food. I used to believe the USPS would catch him cheekily dining there in the window, reading peoples' magazines, licking his fingers. Now I know the USPS is just happy if the mail gets delivered, sauce-dribbled or otherwise.
  • The neighbors above me rearrange their furniture every single evening. I don't know who these people are, but they are never content with the placement of that sofa. They are also easily startled and drop fistfuls of hardware (I think) and pennies (I think.) And marbles (I'm certain.) Would you put up with that? I used to wonder if I would. Now I feel nervous when I haven't heard something drop for a while. And yes, I start wondering if the jazz guy downstairs is doing ok if I don't feel that guitar through my feet for some time (although the days when I planned to take the self-produced jazz CD he gave us when he came up to complain about our noise one day, and play it at full volume and on 'repeat', while I take the kids to Utah for a spell are close enough to still taste.)
  • I was confused (if not slightly excited) about the number of people I could see at any given time in various stages of undress out my windows and through theirs when we first moved into this building. Now I know. New Yorkers don't care if people see them naked. My 19 year-old nephew visiting from Colorado was at once pleased and disgusted when one evening, while we sat around and talked, Dan told him he could probably see a naked lady out the back window if he wanted. Indeed. Not ready for her closeup, perhaps, but genuinely naked. At this point, I'm sure you've guessed where I am personally on this one.
I lean toward being New Yorker in this case.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006


These days I am all aflutter entering juried shows all over the U.S.A. I have fond hopes of showing in Austin for some reason, and Nashville for, I believe, the same elusive reason. The more Hee-Haw, the better! I guess after knocking on so many frozen gallery doors here in cool NYC and talking to impassive and tired people while searching for that rare fit, cowboy towns seem like a breath of fresh air. Or maybe I just saw Brokeback Mountain. Hello, Wyoming.
Or, hello Utah?
Yesterday, the gallery I burned a bridge with in Salt Lake City offered me more love and a show.
It sounds nice.

My life is the snake which devours its own tail, the Ouroboros. Jung recognized this snake as an archetype that appears in cultures over and over with this basic message: my end is my beginning. I guess that's just how it goes sometimes. I guess sometimes that's alright.

Has your snake ever eaten its own tail?
Was that good or bad?

What I'm listening to: nothing because the ouroboros iPod ate itself up. But for obvious reasons I guess, I hear in my own head, Journey's, Wheel In The Sky.

I am my own worst enemy.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Homing In

We flew away from New York City on Christmas day. On the way to the airport, the cabbie slowed down to point out a century old street clock that had just been hit by a car and now lay injured on its side. A variety of citizens stood around on the sidewalk, hands cupped over mouths, not sure what kind of first-aid to administer to a large, elderly timepiece. We all stopped our chatting and planning to rubberneck. It was a sweet, frilly double-faced mechanism on Eighth and Flatbush with a twin on Sixth Avenue who will certainly feel lost now. The romex and old wires hung out of its cast-iron post in a painful way and I somewhat expected fluids to be spilling forth out of the open wound and onto the thoroughfare. The situation seemed dire. I can't be certain, but I think the caption implied below this sad scene, were it to be documented, would be, "So much for ye olden days. Ye can't turn back ye olde clockity clock now!"
Aw, true.
I spent half a hazy, dizzy holiday drifting from one childhood home to another in the rarefied Colorado air, recognizing all the characters of my family and even some neighbors, but wondering why they all looked older. Had I lived in New York City? Had I even lived in Salt Lake City? Who were these opinionated shorties who kept referring to me as Mama? Disconcerting, being back home in that sandstone town.
The other half of the holiday was spent in Salt Lake City. Pictured above is a replica of our Salt Lake City home (it is the homemade gift I clumsily stitched for Dan the whole while I was stranded east of the East River with nary a train or bus to distract me during Transit Strike 2005.) Visiting that old house for the holidays, I drifted upstairs and down, pondering the generosity of Western proportions and feeling like one of those poor ghosts in Limbo who don't realize they are dead, knocking around their old haunts, annoying their loved ones. Here also I tried to figure out who the quite big opinionated shorties were who continued with the "Mama" biz.
Where are my babies? Where are my babies? Where are my babies?? OOOOoooooooooohhhhh.....

Now I'm back in New York where I don't really belong and feel much better. The garbage and grit of the subway felt predictably disgusting and normal today. The grass and sandstone of Ye Olde Life have given over in my mind's landscape to asphalt. My world now is brownstones backed up by bridges and skyscrapers and hemmed up by streets and sidewalks, and the occasional antique street clock tipped over on its side. Why this feels real and solid I do not know. I guess I believed myself when I told the kids that New York City is our home now. I thought that I was lying.