After a month where I could barely get around to refilling my meds, breathing room is in sight. This past weekend I've talked a lot about having to “reconstruct meaning” for myself, which might sound a lot larger than it should. In short I'm having to re-teach myself to write and paint after being endlessly, relentlessly hampered for a while.
“Threats and Warnings” (new-ish one on cardboard) might not be the very LAST painting in the Apocalypse Series but it might be the last major one as I draw the whole thing to a close. Two series will continue----abstracts as part of a current series called “The Random” and a new series called “Hot Garbage”. The Purgatory and Apocalypse series were more based around symbolism and mythmaking----Hot Garbage will largely be figurative art (or my permutation thereof) for its own sake. All or most of the paintings in the series will be titled, “Hot Garbage”. Stay tuned.
DISASSOCIATION AND THE APOCALYPSE
I've always glommed onto graffiti---I like the look of it---I like the coded history of layers of vandalistic scrawlings. One sure sign that I'm about done with the Ozark Experience is that the Army Corps of Engineers have done the dumbest thing on earth by fencing off the ruins of the hotel at Monte Ne...that, to me, was possibly the last holy or sacred place left in this region. Someone asked us a while ago what we found sacred about that place, and would we find it more sacred if preservationists fixed it up. My answer was more or less “no”. I like Coin Harvey's ruin for what it's become—--a hollowed-out hulk covered with the graffiti of the ages----a witchy mecca which we've celebrated in image and noise....
In the late 50s/early 60s you have this young hood who scrawls “Vic + Shelly” on those sodden walls....15 years later his disgrace of a longhaired son is partying at the same site and maybe he draws a pot leaf and/or some slogan on the wall......a few layers of vandalism have emerged since then---maybe he can see “Vic + Shelly”, maybe he can't. He has no idea that was left by his Dad, who he can't stand.....15 to 20 years down the road our stoner has cut his hair and moved on to a corporate job....his son, who's a wannabe gangsta, has now tagged the wall.....three generations of hooliganism in layers. Boggles the mind, huh?
Being autistic, I'm naturally riveted by this stuff and I can kind of get lost in it. Urban/public art enthralls me, but I have no head for it....these days if you gave me a couple of spraycans and said, “go!” I'd have no idea what to put on a wall or why.
These days, though, a part of my autism that's become more pronounced is just an increasing inability to fit my brain into any kind of linear communication----visual or non-visual. People talk like a bunch of goddamned chattering monkeys, I get tired of hearing them talk and I get tired of hearing myself talk and I just stop talking---don't even know what to say.
That level of disassociation fits pretty beautifully into the ethos of the Apocalypse, though. Mike McAdam and I developed this weird style of sloganeering, lexicon and cartoon art with the Apocalypse Krew---we had an identity forming even before we developed musically. It was an incoherent smear of smiley faces, frowney faces, suicidal dreg figures, recurring images and phrases that would dribble off from militant ravings to primal, screaming nonsense words that mostly were comprised of bunched-together, incompatible consonants. Sometimes I sqwzaaaazzztptgh. That still makes sense to me. It really made sense to me in my early-to-mid 20s when I went around in a state of constant angst and agitation and wanted to put my fist through everything.
That level of primal disassociation makes its way into much of the Apocalypse Series, and this painting as well. The heyday of my vandalism was probably as a teen or a young adult and most of it
revolved around whatever bands I was listening to, which devolved into arguments (on the walls) about the merits of said bands. Pretty meat-and-potatoes. Basquiats, we were not. Banksy, we were not. We were not Banos, Iz the Wiz, Dondi or Lee.
Stylistically, that's the path I follow, here and elsewhere. As the painting is based around one of our songs, snippets of the song's lyrics appear, buried and obscured in layers and layers, as if some janitor keeps painting over the bad kids' etchings----the bad kids keep building a wall of written or drawn entropy as if to tell the hypothetical janitor, “nice try----paint again, Frank!” There is no concrete crystallization of the lyrical content in the space of the painting---just layers of obscured messages, none of which you'll ever get the entirety of. As we come to the surface, you'll see quotes from the Bible (that bit from Matthew about “render unto Caesar that which belongs to Caesar”) accompanied by the quote from Vonnegut's fictional “Messiah”, Bokonon (“pay no attention to Caesar. Caesar doesn't have the slightest idea what's really going on.”---words to live by!!!)----those are also obscured and marred. No thought completed. Or codified. Or anything.
It's a way of life. It's a way of life for more people than will probably admit to it.
MAKING IT WITCHY
Why use the Manson family as Icons?
Without condoning any of their crimes, the chaos of what they brought to the world is a deeply ingrained part of the geography of my youth. Think of them less as Icons or people to be admired---more as signposts. This is the kind of ride you're in for. It'll get ugly----it'll get bloody. There will be taboos----there will be loud, gibbering, scary madness.
Flashback to 1998 or so: My roommate and I are at a Rave. Mostly we're there to hawk our hallucinogenic videos to a DJ (which winds up being a fruitless endeavor) but we're also ripped and trying to have a good time. I had dreadlocks at the time-----some raver kid walks up to us and starts asking us, “are you peaceful hippies, or are you the other kind?” I think we were taken aback by the question----what the hell did that mean? We tried to assure him that we were “peaceful”----I don't know---maybe he was intimidated and thinking we were redneck bikers who were going to kick his ecstasy-gobbling ass. But a part of me kind of enjoys the fact that we might have been the “Other” kind of Hippie. And his worst nightmare.
At another time several of us went out on a Sunday (early evening) to a Chinese Buffet that we used to frequent back in the day....I think it was one of those lost weekends where we all got pretty blasted. We were probably all pretty bedraggled----again, I had the dreads, which were probably down to my knees by this time---one friend of mine was wearing a tie-dyed shirt, a pair of really gnarly sunglasses and a pentagram necklace---and no, I don't mean a pentacle----I mean A PENTAGRAM----upside down, evil, Satan, yadda yadda yadda. Stoner Metal bands like Queens of the Stone Age, Acid King, Fu Manchu and Monster Magnet were burgeoning at the time and it all kind of made sense to me.
The late church crowd was probably in effect (Sunday in the Ozarks, after all) but I'll tell you this: At least one table in our general vicinity cleared----they asked to be seated elsewhere. The population cleared FAST.
That turned me on.....it still kind of does, to be honest.
Our public access show, “The Abbey of the Lemur”, really played into the same impulse, of course. Dark Counterculture. Think the MC5 and the White Panthers----that was us. In the late 90s/early 2000s.
I was never a Peace, Love and Flowers guy. I mean, I am----ultimately that's what I want for everyone----flowers optional----but I've known people over the years who were of the school of “you can't get mad...anger is WRONG! Anger is BAD!” Thing about a lot of those people is, I watched them go crazy. BAD crazy. MEAN crazy. HARMFUL TO THOSE AROUND THEM crazy. And the most sanctimonious people I knew became the most horrible people I ever met.
Anger's fine....anger helps bring about justice. Anger is an energy. You want to be able to work past that anger and get yourself to a healthy, sane place....but anger, in and of itself, is a good thing to stay in touch with. Anger helps you get shit done.
Anyway, the Apocalypse Series has about run its course. By the time our album comes out I probably will have moved past it to something new.....things will get different but the piss and vinegar remains.
THIS WEEK'S PLAYLIST:
ANTHRAX-Among the Living
PUBLIC IMAGE LIMITED-First Issue
PUBLIC IMAGE LIMITED-Second Edition/Metal Box
THE VELVET UNDERGROUND-White Light/White Heat
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