Wayne Michael Reich

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Wayne Michael Reich
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Month: September 2018

The Road Still Ahead (Beyond the Toe-path)

“If my doctor told me I had only six minutes to live, I wouldn’t brood. I’d type a little faster.”- Isaac Asimov

“My doctor told me that jogging could add years to my life. I think he was right. I feel ten years older already.”- Milton Berle

Hello Blogiteers!

What a short strange trip it’s been regarding my settling in to our new life here just outside Silver City, New Mexico, and what a cache it’s generated in regards to my writing- I don’t think I’ve torn this particular size of hole in my writers block for quite some time now, and it feels great, just great. Granted, what “inspired” it was a horrific experience to be sure, but hey- the muse strikes when she strikes, and you’ve just gotta roll with the punches as they come, I guess.

On a more domestic note, we finally have all the living room furniture sited relatively where we want it, so the minor tweaking to be done here and there means that eventually all the books and art currently stored out in our one-car garage will come inside the residence and find their for-right-now homes, now that we know where those homes will be. Thank God, our kindly rent by the hour handyman was willing to give us a hand, or all of this would’ve had to wait until I was able to stand up and walk like a normal person, which could still be several weeks from now.

Somehow, I’ve managed to not let all of the aggravation of being incapable to fully unpack and finish what needs to be done, get to me. How, if truth be told, I’m not entirely sure. Oh wait, I do know- this town has three medical “green” dispensaries, and the product pricing is fairly competitive. All non-kidding aside, there is something about New Mexico that definitely causes one to cool out like a penguin on a glacier, and while I’m really not sure what it is, I don’t seem to be fighting this current circumstance with my usual fervor, as for some unhindered reason, my psyche isn’t really tugging at me to do so, which is a uniquely fresh occurrence for me to ruminate on whenever time here gets slow.

There’s definitely an established pace here, and it’s literally whatever speed you feel like, as long as that velocity is set squarely at chill. I never thought I’d say this, but minus all the personal medical drama, I’m really enjoying being able to breathe and even theoretically relax, for what seems like the first time in years.

No art scene drama (as of yet) no second-handers* up in my grill, (as of yet) no mewling Artlink sycophants (because they thankfully don’t exist here) and you have no idea how bloody refreshing it’s been not having to write about Phoenix’s faux arts advocacy group Artlink, it’s cravenly leader, [the very epitome of a second-hander, in my opinion] and all of it’s bullspit. Heck, I’ve even started waving hello at perfect strangers here, because that’s what us disturbingly friendly locals do.
*[A second-hander (taken from Ayn Rand’s writings and philosophy) is a person who is primarily concerned with being esteemed and valued by others, at the expense of forming his/her own independent worldview. A person who derives their decisions from the worldview of others; with the sole metric of merit based off of how others will recieve and accept their decision not based on merit or truth but on popular perception.

They’re also notorious for taking the solidly virtuous ideas of others, and cocking them up, primarily due to a toxic blend of personal arrogance and Ego, which describes Artlinks’ procedural abilities and some of it’s board members [IMHO] to a “T”, as the cliché goes.]

As someone who’s somewhat notorious for having what was once benevolently described as “a mouth full of razor blades”, it’s definitely extraordinary to find myself surrounded by what on the surface, appears to be genuinely decent people, which so far has kept my bladed-tongue to some extent, fully sheathed. I’m sure given the law of averages, that eventually I’ll run into someone here that will set me off, and if you’ve read the first part of my New Mexico saga, that sort of already happened, albeit on a minor scale, but so far, when I’ve run into a true jerk, they’re either a tourist on vacation, or just briefly passing through this hamlet on their way to somewhere else. And while I seem to be easily coexisting with the vibe of this place, I’m still holding onto that inherent and magnificently cynical snarkiness of mine that we’ve all grown to… well, let’s just say “love” and move on shall we, if for nothing more than the sake of the narrative.

Given the fact that I’ve seen subtle little changes in regards to my outward attitude, I’ve taken it upon myself to make sure every morning that somebody hasn’t swapped me out for a Stepford-brand Android as I’ve slept, by going through a standard check list:

Do I still think Annabella Lwin, Debbie Harry, Siouxsie Sioux, Milla Jovovich, and that one blonde girl from the old Pore Strips commercial are smoking hot? Check.  Do I still know in my heart that Ding Dongs are the far superior snack cake? Check. Do I still believe that Highlander is a near perfect movie and it’s sequel is an abomination unto the lord that should be sealed away forever inside one of those salt caves where they store nuclear waste? Check.

Do I still taste the glaring variation between a Mexican Coke and it’s far uglier American stepsister, Pepsi? Check. Do I ever see a time in my life when I’ll walk by a Star Wars toy display, and not grab a lightsaber to do imaginary battle in the aisle as my GF pretends not to know me?

Hell, no, but also, Check.

I’m happy to report thus far, I still get overly annoyed at how long my tea-water takes to boil at this altitude (6K feet above sea level.), am vexed by the fact the sugar is in an area where it’s hard for me to get to, and I get sincerely cross over experiencing that while Almond Milk poured over Frosted Cheerios is the bomb, the Cheerios always stick to the sides of the bowl when I’m trying to get the last of them out. In fact, I spent almost ten minutes cursing out the news feed on my Twitter this morning, a considerable amount of time griping about the dogs barking next door, and wrapped it all up with a treatise on why putting artichoke hearts and sun-dried tomatoes on formerly unsullied Pizza is akin to a constitutional crisis.

I find myself routinely annoyed by the trivial and unimportant, so yeah… still me.

And since I am still me, I am required to do “still me” things, such as going to see my surgeon in regards to how well my post-surgery wound is doing. Unfortunately, since I’m still using the walker, it’s a little bit more complicated than just getting in my car, and popping on over to the ol’ out-clinic [http://southwestboneandjoint.com/] for a stereotypically brief chat with reference to some supplementary medical advice.

As I described in a previous blog: “Every time I go to hoist myself, it feels as if I’m dead-lifting a city bus- American Chicago, not Red London double-decker, that is. Just for those of you who like to keep track of such trivial things. Considering my normal weight fluctuates between 185 to 205 pounds, part of me wonders if I need to stop fretting over my diabetic-related weight loss, and embrace it for a change, because if lifting my severely underweight ass hurts my arms and shoulders this much, I can only imagine what that extra thirty-eight pounds would feel like.”

But before this inescapable workout day from Hell can even begin to manifest itself, like those three self-righteous ghosts of Christmas, there are some truly vital things that need to be addressed as preceding events.
 
First, there’s the issue of getting myself dressed, a process that starts with cautiously sliding off my colorful lounge-pants, then sliding on my jeans even more guardedly over my bandage-wrapped foot, then attempting to put on a shirt, warily minding the pain and mobility issues involved there, and finishing off by attempting to use my nerve-damaged hands to zip said jeans, and button up. My jeans, that is, since some days can present a minor sum challenge, depending on how much my hands want to contribute to the cause that day, and also because I tend to wear graphic tee shirts, and not their more formal buttoned cousins.

So after wading through that fashionistas fjord, I deck myself out with my customary regalia of assorted rings, (8 in total) a single bracelet, and a watch and necklace that suits my mood for that day, I then have to put on a single sneaker, because of the one foot being bandaged up like Jocelyn Perisset Wildenstein* on a Tuesday, grab my walker, hobble down the mercifully short main hallway of my house, pickup my keys, and head for the front door.
*[Jocelyn Perisset Wildenstein is a Swiss-born American socialite best known for her extensive (and somewhat disturbing, IMHO) cosmetic surgery. Her nicknames run the gamut, from the obvious: “Catwoman”, to the somewhat of a stretch: “The Lion Queen”, and to the downright rude: “The Bride Of Wildenstein” a moniker given to her by various “news” outlets. After her divorce from her billionaire husband, she once calculated her yearly telephone bill at $60,000 and food and wine costs at $547,000, which is not too surprising, given the cost of “British Banquet”.

“British Banquet”, is a so-called luxury cat food for the “insanely rich”- that being the cat’s bad decision making owners that is, not the cat. It contains Arenkha caviar, line-caught Scottish salmon, hand-caught Norfolk lobster, and locally-sourced Devon crab. Each gourmet pack also includes organic asparagus, quinoa, and saffron for that “extra touch of luxury and refinement”.

 This ridiculously costly future feces pile contains no preservatives, additives or artificial colors, and is also GM-free, because that’s really important to an animal that coughs up hairballs, and eats it’s own acid-chowder, am I right? It is not only fit for humans to eat, but tastes “absolutely wonderful”, claims it’s manufacturer Green Pantry. A month’s supply costs nearly £750, ($982.50 noting current pound to dollars conversion of 9/2018) which equals a morally obscene  £9,000 per year, ($11,790.00) £12.50 ($16.50) per serving, or about £1.25 ($1.75) per mouthful.

First point of contention- no way in Hades is an animal that licks itself, ever going to eat better than me, ever. And second? If I do become ridiculously wealthy, and I go to buy this, please just shoot me in my fkng face. I’ll totally understand.]

Arriving at said egress point, I face three challenges, the first being getting it open, (easy) the second is trying to get outside without tripping over the sill, which is way harder than you might think as there’s a step down that due to the angle, throws my balance off, and third, is managing to grab the door that’s now behind me in order to lock it.

Having never taken gymnastics in my youth, due to the fact that I’m not a small Russian pryzhki devushka*, nor considered flexible by any means measurable, I’m not entirely sure if my feral gyrations would qualify for competition, but I’m pretty convinced at this point, I could seriously challenge Simone Biles in the Balance Beam portion of the program. And while I might not take home the Gold, Silver’s definitely going to be my bitch.
*[Pryzhki devushka means “jumping girl” in Russian. You’re welcome ]

So at this point, if I’ve managed to successfully accomplish all three tasks without crippling or outright killing myself, it still leaves the issue of getting to my car, which requires slight maneuvering down a somewhat uneven (for me) and steep driveway. And if it’s this fun for my bad foot in good weather, I can only imagine how truly delightful it will be if Winter decides to show up for the party early. And Winter would do this, because sometimes it just takes joy in being a complete and total dick.

Now, let’s surmise that I’ve managed to safely get to my car, somehow gotten past the awkwardness of opening the heavy car door, firmly planted my underweight keister in the driver’s seat, deftly folded up my pimptastic chromed ride, and with Tetris skills on loan from Alexey Leonidovich Pajitnov* himself, managed to wedge it in the passenger side floor area, and then close the door. Out of the proverbial woods, right?
*[Alexey Leonidovich Pajitnov is the Russian video game designer and computer engineer who developed Tetris while working for the (wait for the mouthful) Dorodnitsyn Computing Center, a subsidiary of the Soviet Academy of Sciences, which not surprisingly, was a government-founded R&D center. He only started to see royalties fom his work when in 1996, he co-founded The Tetris Company with business partner Hank Rogers.]

Well, not exactly. As I’ve noted previously, I can’t bear any direct weight on my wounded foot at all- I can pivot and put a modest amount of load on my heel, but it’s awkward and generally makes me feel even more off balance, which has led to some very close-calls in regards to my almost falling down. [As if I could fall up?] In order for me to drive, I had to provide some serious padding for my left foot, even though my current car’s an automatic, which is fortuitous, as my last one was a stick-shift, albeit it one that had a sick paint job.

Upside of this car? I never lost it in a parking lot, it was pretty good on gas, cheap to fix, and on those exceedingly rare occasions when I’d get pulled over by the cops, the look on their slack-jawed thug faces at seeing a middle-aged, blond, blue-eyed, suburban white boy with a hardcore love for graffiti behind the wheel was priceless.

Thank the stars I have two lawyers on speed dial. But getting back to my compact, totally sexy Honda- at the moment for me to be able to drive while striving to keep my foot unharmed, there’s effectively close to three inches of folded towels to keep it safe from any bumps or pressure as I drive. I can’t even imagine how my old car would have worked out with this injury, and I get the feeling that my local Uber driver and I would have gotten to know each other really well over these last few weeks.

Because I really need to make some friends here, and that just might be the best way to do it. After all, who doesn’t want to hear about how somebody else solved the problem of storing their dead clowns when faced with limited crawlspace?

Speaking of clowns whom I hope meet their demise via the inappropriate utilization of a plugged in toaster, a wet floor, and a bathtub, we’re going to take a small off-course tangent for a few paragraphs. If you’re a regular reader, you may recall me writing about my firing/dismissal in February of this year by a supervisor who doesn’t (and didn’t) understand that you can’t fire somebody for having a chronic illness. If at this point, you’re not a regular reader, and you have no idea what I’m blathering about, here’s the cut & paste to help you catch up with the rest of the loyal Artbitch legion, and then afterwards, make sure to bookmark this site so you can stay hip to my jive: https://waynemichaelreich.com/2018/04/

Up to speed? Awesome. This is why I tell you to come to the meetings.

And the best part? We have cookies and cake. Seriously, I’m a baking badass, and willing to trade recipes. In fact, here’s the one for my almost world-famous poundcake- it’s a great base recipe, open to variation, and a crowd pleaser to boot. Plus, it has the added benefit of not being healthy at all. I like to serve it with fresh strawberries, but that’s just the way I roll. If you’ve got any good ones to share, email me at darkreich@yahoo.com, with the words “Yo Artbitch: recipe here” in the subheading. Thanks!

Here it is:

INGREDIENTS:
3 cups all-purpose flour (NOT SELF RISING)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup butter or margarine, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla or almond extract
*[A nice shake-up: sub out vanilla with same amount of lemon extract. Fold 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest and 1/4 cup poppy seeds into batter].
5 large eggs
3/4 cup milk or evaporated milk

PROCESS:
Heat oven to 350°F. Grease bottom, side and tube of 10×4-inch angel food cake pan (tube pan), 12-cup fluted tube cake pan or two 9×5-inch loaf pans with shortening; lightly flour.

In a medium bowl, mix the flour, baking powder and salt, then set aside. In a large bowl, beat the sugar, butter, vanilla and eggs with electric mixer on low 30 seconds, while remembering to scrape the bowl regularly. Beat on high 5 minutes, scraping the bowl intermittently. Beat the flour mixture into the sugar mixture, adding the milk every few seconds (20 or so) on low speed, beating until smooth after each addition.

Pour into your prepared pan(s).

Bake angel food or fluted tube cake pan 70 to 80 minutes, loaf pans 50 to 60 minutes, or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. After removing from oven, cool for a minimum 20 minutes- after this has passed remove from pan(s) to a wire cake rack if you’re lucky enough to have one. Cool completely, or until such time where it’s totally safe where you can then cram a slice into your mouth. Enjoy!

Getting back on track, as you read in the link I gave you, I allege I was wrongfully dismissed for daring to be a diabetic, and like any good American citizen, filed a complaint with the appropriate agency. In this case, that would be through the Arizona Civil Rights Division, located within the Attorney General’s office. I also filed a grievance regarding workplace conditions with OSHA*, and finally filed my workmans compensation claim** for the injury I had suffered the previous year. What can I say? I’m a big devotee of doing things in threes.
*[Never heard back, so no longer my monkey to worry about. **Seems to be going along smoothly.]

Anywho, The people at the EOCC couldn’t have been nicer or more professional, and took my case under wing, and let me know the process of investigating the case could take six months up to one year, which I kind of expected. As the saying goes, the wheels of Justice turn slowly, but grind fine. So last week, I finally got the call I’ve been waiting for, that being the one from the investigator who’s in charge of settling the case one way or another. Nice lady, right to the point, and no discernable sign of a sense of humor, although to be fair, that might not be allowed to be shown during work hours.

So, my complaint gets summarized back to me, as I’m asked if there’s anything additional I want to/could add, and then the counter response from my former employer is then read with full detail back to me (in sections) so that I can offer either further clarification or dispute what’s being said via a sharply worded retort, which tends to be my way. 

Now, before I get into my description of what transpired, I found it interesting that the owner of the company which is based in Michigan, was never given a copy of my complaint, nor was she ever questioned about it past having to fill out one questionnaire concerning my rate of pay, my length of employment, and a few other blasé boilerplate queries which all in all, were about what you’d expect.

At the present, I never anticipated my former supervisor to be straightforward about her actions, her words, or her gargantuan unprofessionalism that I detailed in my past blog, but I also never expected fabrication that would make espionage writer John le Carre weep, and this blog writer almost turn green with envy… almost.

What I mean to say is… I pride myself on possessing a good imagination, and like to believe that at the very worst, I’m mildly competent at the art of telling an entertaining tale, but my old supervisor should quit where she’s currently slumming, and earnestly seek employment in the Epix writers room for Berlin Station*, because her talents are being wasted on whatever equally s**tty menial labor job her lack of an actual skill-set has got her most likely doing now.
*[Berlin Station is an American drama television series that airs on the Epix network.The story follows Daniel Miller played by my GF’s not so secret crush if I were dead, the amazingly and sadly unattractive Richard Armitage, who has just arrived at the CIA foreign station in Berlin. Guided by veteran Hector DeJean, played by the considerably better-looking Rhys Ifans, Daniel learns to run with the rough-and-tumble world of the field agent.]

Words that were never spoken, scenes that never happened, actions that were never undertaken, and to top it all off, no rational explanation for how I went from being in essence, the asst. manager with full keyholder responsibilities to being the (in her words) goldbricking guy sitting and doing absolutely nothing all day in the back. Shame I used to post consistently on my IG account what I was doing at work, shame my previous supervisor said he’d go to bat for me, and even more annoying still, that prior to her arrival, product returns concerning our warehouse were almost non-existent, and my initials for shipping clearances were on 95% of the invoice slips, and oh yeah- the drivers who delivered our raw material could easily testify to my involvement at work as well.

Darn. Reality is pesky for liars, isn’t it?

All envy aside, I thoroughly enjoyed her depiction of me as a physically threatening presence while I was concurrently suffering at that time from the ravaging effects of undiagnosed diabetic gastroparesis*, which made me nauseous, light-headed, and caused me to drop close to 35 pounds, along with a shoulder injury which had severely limited my mobility. Oh yes, nothing so scary as a human scarecrow who can’t raise his arms above his head or walk upright, as his clothes are close to falling off of him.
*[Gastroparesis, is a disorder of the digestive tract that causes food to remain in the stomach for a period of time that is longer than average. This occurs because the nerves that move food through the digestive tract are damaged, so muscles don’t work properly. As a result, food sits in the stomach undigested. Symptoms include, but are not limited to, nausea, vomiting of undigested food, weight loss, bloating, loss of appetite, blood glucose levels that are hard (see: impossible) to stabilize, stomach spasms, and acid reflux.]

I don’t know about you given the information above, but I’d be scared s**tless, let me tell you. Especially if I was a morbidly obese person who at the very least, weighed three times as much as the person “I was concerned about” at that point. Adding to this asinine absurdity was her overly detailed complaints of my diabetic issues in order to assert she didn’t fire me for being diabetic. Let’s all let that sink in for a moment or two…

She consistently throughout her counter response, complains about my diabetes to prove she didn’t care about my diabetes… does anyone else hear the theme song from the Benny Hill show playing in their head? It also came to light that my former supervisor had no directly expressed hiring or firing authority, a detail which was (allegedly) stated clearly, and that I was “supposed to know”. Unless I’m an as of yet undiscovered mind reader, I’m not entirely sure how I was supposed to be in possession of that information since no one ever told me this, but it was in the counter response nonetheless, mainly as a subtle way for them to claim I just walked out, which is full-on bulls**t.

To be brutally honest, I really have no idea which way this will go at this point, as it’s for all intents and purposes, a literal he said/she said case, and of course, the investigator didn’t give anything away, but I’d like to think that my genuinely derisive laughter at most of the comments she was stating for the record did give her a clue (or a hundred) as to whom was telling the unvarnished truth.

Regardless of how the dust settles here, at least it’s on record, so if the company pulls this crap again, at least it shows there’s a previous track record of abuse, and that’s all that matters. However, there is an addendum that I do find oddly satisfying: it seems that not too long after my departure, my former supervisor gave her two weeks notice, and left for greener pastures, because that’s what disreputable lying cows do, and I’m certain it had nothing to do with her alleged fear of being held accountable by the EOCC, or most likely, her top boss- you know, the one who has no idea what I’ve stated in regards to my official complaint?

From everything I’ve seen in the close to thirty years I’ve been involved with businesses, if there’s one thing top brass loves, it’s being kept in the dark. That’s sarcasm btw, for those of you in the back. What is even more interesting however, is that her counter response contained some comments about my character which may be actionable, and if they are, even at the merest… God help you lady, because I will legally hollow you out like an Easter chocolate rabbit.

Count on it.

Sorry. Just had to get that off my chest, as I really don’t have the spiritual room or the physical stamina to deal with it’s weight right now. Speaking of weight, I’m trying really hard to put all of it that I’ve lost back on, and the best way to do that out here where it’s cattle country, is to devour some of that cattle, the way God intended, and sadly, also the main reason why Kamadhenu* never invites God to his parties anymore.
*[Kamadhenu, the miraculous “cow of plenty” and the “mother of cows” in certain versions of the Hindu mythology, is believed to represent the generic sacred cow, regarded as the source of all prosperity.]

One of the delights of living where I’m currently at, is the fact that meat here, like the value of life in Froopyland*, is cheap. I’ve been giving serious thought that maybe instead of having an almond milk/protein powder/peanut butter/yogurt smoothie in the morning to help put on those missing pounds, I should just throw two t-bones and a chuck roast in the ol’ blender along with a few baked potatoes and some dollops of butter, and blend them till I get the manly as Earnest Hemingway protein fix that I crave.
*[The Adventures of Rick & Morty’s Froopyland is an artificially generated world created by Rick Sanchez from a collapsed quantum tesseract some time in the 1980s for his only daughter, Beth Smith, when she was a little girl. Rick outright admits that his reason for creating Froopyland was to protect the whole neighborhood from Beth, who clearly showed strong psychotic tendencies as a child (though he immediately makes it clear that he didn’t so out of the non-existent goodness of his heart, but just so he wouldn’t have to clean up any of Beth’s messes).]

Wait a minute… what’s that? Oh. Okay. I’ve just been informed by my GF Ashley that not only will this not happen anytime soon, if ever, she’s now asking where the gallon of vanilla ice cream and three pounds of ground beef went… just be cool, and keep your mouth shut.

Since that brilliantly thwarted plan of mine won’t apparently be fulfilled within my lifetime, I have no choice but to seek meaty satisfaction outside my house, and if you live near Silver City, that so far in my humblest of opinions, means you either hit the Little Toad Creek Brewery & Distillery, or the local burger joint known as Blake’s. Both serve really good burgers, and I’d rather eat local than corporate any day.

Pros:
The Toad has great service, terrific atmosphere, and is a pretty good-sized space with lots of seating, really good french fries, and is a nice place to bring your friends who are from out of town. Also, almost everybody who waits tables here is really good-looking. Not sure why, but I’m not complaining. Blake’s also has kick-ass french fries, as well as ample seating, lots of parking, a cool sign, and… um, bathrooms, plus both are really easy to find, even if you’re not a local. Obviously the Toad has bathrooms too, but Blake’s is about to get hammered in the “cons” department, so I gave them a charity throw, to be nice.

Cons:
The Toad is also a bar, which means it gets a little rowdy on the weekends. That’s it. If you like live music, then it really isn’t a “con” by any means, so being that I don’t, I’m willing to concede it’s a wash.

Blake’s on the other hand… terrible customer service the few times I’ve gone- not sure if the staff is really sleepy or honorary members of the Undead, the building it’s in looks somewhat run-down, tired, and is in need of some sort of face-lift, and while the burgers are truly good, half the time the staff forgets requested and paid for items that are supposed to be on said burgers, such as bacon, which should obviously be against the law.

This is the kind of place I would take that one friend who knows all my dirt and never mentions it- I definitely wouldn’t take the future in-laws here, just by way of example. Think of it as a dive bar for burgers, remember to double-check your order, and all will be well.

And with that, we finally arrive, if you remember how we started, at the clinic to consult with my surgeon about how my foot is doing… but I’m 5,217 words in, my shoulders are killing me, and i still have to get this walker out of my car, get it unfolded, and then shuffle my somewhat disabled butt up to the front door, so I think we’ll pause here until the next  thrilling installment, and then take it from there.

And when we come back…

My doctor tells me if I’ll ever play the violin again, I try to organize my studio, and Ashley and I welcome our first of hopefully many stay-over slumber party guests.

“Take care of your body. It’s the only place you have to live.”-Jim Rohn

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Hi-Yo Silver Away! Pt.4 (A Toe of Two Cities)

“Well then, get your s**t together, get it all together and put it in a back pack, all your s**t, so it’s together. And if you gotta take it some where, take it somewhere, you know, take it to the s**t store and sell it, or put it in the s**t museum. I don’t care what you do, you just gotta get it together. Get your  s**t together.” – Morty Smith, a Tao (sort of) from “Rick & Morty”                                                                             
“Forget the past – the future will give you plenty to worry about.” George Allen, Sr.

Hello Blogiteers!

How’s your day going? Mine has been both incredibly boring and frustrating, due to the fact that the all of my days are blending into each other, and also because there’s outwardly so much to be done in regards to my house, the studio, and my future job prospects, and I can’t do any aspect of it because of this goddamn, useless, jack-upped, schwanzlutscher* foot.
*[Yes, this is a German word. No, you really don’t want the translation, as it would make your mother cry and lose all respect for you. Don’t even Google it. And I’m giving you this advice because my Mom and I have never had a good warm relationship, and I think it’s pretty cool that your Mom loves you unconditionally. That part must be really nice.]
 
For me, there’s nothing more vexing than seeing a particularly worrisome issue, and then not being allowed (or being able) to just go and fix it. I like to think of myself as a problem solver, when I’m not creating new ones, and granted, I’ve suffered some injuries in my lifetime, but never anything like this toe amputation, or as it’s more commonly referred to among the truly hip and way too cool for med school kids, a Ray resection.*
*[A Ray resection for localized necrosis, infection, and osteomyelitis is an accepted procedure allowing removal of the diseased toe and metatarsal. The traditional approach involves a rather lengthy incision and dissection that can compromise the vascular supply to the remaining forefoot. Oh, great goody gum-drops.]

In my case, my surgeon was providentially able to save a great deal of my metatarsal*, which if all goes well and my Ding Dongs don’t melt, means I might have a pretty good chance of walking without a cane** or some other such human-propping device.
*[The metatarsal bones, also referred to as the metatarsus, are a group of five long bones in the foot, located between the tarsal bones of the hind- and mid-foot and the phalanges of the toes. ** I still may get one though, because my GF Ashley thinks that if I could get  one that proclaims my snarkitude, I could rock it as part of my image pretty damn hard.

I’ve got my eye on this one from DC Collectibles, if any of you would like to start a Go Fund Me page…
This one btw, would also be more than acceptable too, just putting it out there…]

But regardless of whether I have to walk with or without a cane, at least I’ll be walking, which is more than I’m able to do right now. Having to be remarkably conscious of my limitations is a torturous countdown until such time I can ultimately begin to put weight on my damaged foot, and ditch the walker I’m currently bound to via a Deadite* curse.
*[A “Deadite” is a life-force, person, animal or plant possessed by a Kandarian Demon.They are described as evil demonic Zombie Hybrids, and are the main antagonists of the Evil Dead Movie Franchise.] 

And given that hoped-for destination is anywhere from an additional six to eight weeks away, it’s possibly the most maddening thing I’ve ever had to deal with, outside debating who the top three best James Bonds are, which of course, are laid out as such: Connery, Craig, and my big ol’ man-crush number two, Brosnan. Don’t get me wrong, I loved Roger Moore, God rest his soul, but he played Bond for laughs, and that’s not the kind of Bond I tend to dig. And as a side tangent, if you even think about uttering the name Timothy Dalton in my presence, I will stuff you inside George Lazenby, force you to watch the directors cut of Never Say Never Again in Kaixana*, and top it off by physically acting out scenes from Moonraker… naked.
*[This language, officially one of the world’s rarest, was once spoken in a very small reigion of South America, by a core group of 200 people- sadly, there is now only one remaining orator of this unique tongue.]

Sorry about that. I take my Bond-ing seriously, and so should you.
Let’s get back on track, shall we?

Now, the first time when I found myself hospitalized for ketoacidosis back in 2009, I wound up sentenced to a ten day stretch, but four of those hellish days were spent in a medically induced coma, so time just sort of zipped on by, given the situation. But even if you minus the amputation of one of my lesser toes, this inadvertent staycation straight out of Samsara* is driving me up the metaphorical wall, as almost everything I have to face, whether it be minor or grand is a challenge right out of an ANW** episode.
*[Samsara is the endless cycle of death and rebirth that is the result of our ignorance of the ultimate reality of the universe. The word means “to wander across,” as in lifetimes, and samsara is the result of karma or actions taken in this life that will determine the nature of one’s rebirth and the caste one is born into. **American Ninja Warrior (sometimes abbreviated as ANW) is a televised American sports entertainment competition that is a spin-off of the Japanese series “Sasuke”. It features scores of competitors attempting to complete a series of highly-challenging obstacle courses based in various American cities, in hopes of advancing to the national finals on the Las Vegas Strip, in hopes of becoming an “American Ninja Warrior”.

I should also probably point out that despite my all-embracing knowledge of Las Vegas in regard to it’s inimitable culture and social customs, it remains in effect that getting drunk on Mad Dog 20/20, stripping off your clothes and climbing the faux Eiffel Tower located in front of the Paris Paris casino, will not be held up to the same celebratory standards as when you successfully traverse ANW’s Bridge of Blades sober, which I have always felt is somewhat of a double standard.]

You’re probably thinking at this point that I’m being either overdramatic, or possibly seeking sympathy, but you’d be wrong on both counts. I honestly never gave pause to the thought of how difficult it would be to make a sandwich for instance, when you can’t stand up. My balance has never been any good, even with my cat-like stealthiness, so my trying to do even the simplest things can  present themselves as a monumental challenge. By way of example, our house has a refrigerator that is insufferably “low”, so trying to get out the yogurt and almond milk for my daybreak protein shake requires a balancing act not performed in public since the last time Cirque du Soleil rolled through town.

Did I also mention I have chronic back problems as well? Add that into the mix, and you’ll understand why I sometimes dream about my icebox hovering like a hummingbird. I used to assume if your hands were incapacitated, you’d be royally screwed, but the more I deal with this, I’m really starting to think that assessment should be equally applied to one’s legs and feet as well. I had to put a chair in the kitchen just so I can make a cup of tea, so it’s a bitch and a half, let me tell you.

Oh f**k it- it’s a full-on bitch, that’s invited it’s friends to squat until such time as they get their collective s**t together.

One of the other impediments other than my injury of course, is the one device I use most frequently to circumvent it, that being my walker. Sure, it’s sleek, collapsible, and lightweight profile for easy in and out of my (or any) car, makes for a truly sexy-looking piece of tech, (just see below!) but shockingly, there are some disadvantages.

This BTW, is what mine looks like, but it’s rendered in the standard chrome. I’m starting to think I should have coughed up the extra dough for this way more snazzy paint finish, which is branded as “Blue Ice”. And don’t give me any grief regarding this- just because I’m injured, doesn’t mean I can’t look stylish, too. Besides, Ashley couldn’t find a walker fabricated of tiny skulls, which let’s face it, has the dual advantage of being both a conversation piece, and really more “me”, to be truthful. I do try to keep it real, y’all.

Originally, I went with crutches, but after three falls, two near-misses, and a memorable but in the future, further un-discussed encounter with a badly-placed zucchini in my kitchen, we opted for the far safer (and way more stable) walking frame from Walgreens. And overall, this four-legged-human-keeper-upper works relatively okay for helping me get around the ol’ house when I need to. While I did opt out of getting the matching basket, due to it’s long-term impracticality and the fact that it’s damn near impossible to put baseball cards between it’s way too small spokes, an old backpack substitutes nicely as my extra set of hands when I have to be outdoors.

What makes it a nightmare outside the house is the reality that since I can’t put even the merest of weight on my stitched together like Frankenstein’s monster foot, I have to lift my own mass. All 167 pounds of it, if the last weigh-in was even remotely accurate, and then “hop” whenever I have to take a step forward. Think about concurrently playing competitive hop-scotch while you’re doing arms day at the gym. Remember, I’m at present suffering from the following: diabetic-related weight loss, which has led to a lack of muscle tone, a severely strained left-side supraspinatus* from a work-related injury suffered last year, and my other shoulder unfortunately starting to go out of whack for having to compensate for the same.
*[The supraspinatus (plural supraspinati) is a relatively small muscle of the upper back that runs from the supraspinatous fossa superior portion of the scapula (shoulder blade) to the greater tubercle of the humerus. It is one of the four rotator cuff muscles and also abducts the arm at the shoulder, for those of you who may not remember me talking about this in an earlier blog].

Every time I go to hoist myself, it feels as if I’m dead-lifting a city bus- American Chicago, not Red London double-decker, that is. Just for those of you who like to keep track of such trivial things. Considering my normal weight fluctuates between 185 to 205 pounds, part of me wonders if I need to stop fretting over my diabetic-related weight loss, and embrace it for a change, because if lifting my severely underweight ass hurts my arms and shoulders this much, I can only imagine what that extra thirty-eight pounds would feel like. My best guess is that it would represent as if I strapped Warwick Davis* to my chest, and then went for a nice relaxing run.
*[Warwick Ashley Davis is an English actor, television presenter, writer, director and producer. He played the title characters in Willow and the Leprechaun film series, the Ewok Wicket in Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi, and Professor Filius Flitwick and Griphook in the Harry Potter films. His filmography totals 30+ movies. Impressive, no?]

Now, when I’m in the house, this dead-lift really isn’t a problem, as I’m only traveling very short distances- bedroom to kitchen, or to my living room, bathroom, and studio, etc. But when I’m out of the house, the difficulty scale goes way off the charts. Picture having to park your car, lock it up, and traverse the parking lot of a Super-Center, hopping on one foot, and one foot alone. Then when inside, walk (such as it is) through the entire store, trying to find your item, and attempt to not get harassed by store security for putting it temporarily in your backpack, because pushing a cart or holding onto a basket is akin to juggling incontinent flaming honey-badgers when you’re rocking a walker.

Oh, and don’t forget to do all this while lifting close to 200 pounds every two-and-a-half seconds, making sure you don’t trip or overbalance, and as you mercifully leave, doing the whole parking lot experience in reverse… good luck, Chuck. You’re seriously going to need it.

But maybe I’m just being a negative Naomi, an apathetic Abraham, or maybe a morose Morgan, certainly a gloomy Gerard, arguably an unenthusiastic Ursula, perhaps even a pessimistic Peyton, when all things are considered. There does exist the very slim chance that when I’m done using this thing, my guns will not only be toned up again, but my chest as well- heck, if I keep gaining weight as I walk all over God’s rapidly-fading green planet using this thing, I may be cut like a diamond by the time this forced convalescence is done. I’d have a six pack that would make the Spartans of lore not only weep, but might even compel them to drop their free-amphoras and pick up a walker instead.

I could go from this…
to *this:
*[Disclaimer: there is in fact no way, short of making a deal with the Devil himself, that Wayne will ever look like this. Like a slightly underweight James Hetfield? Sure, not even that hard. As an artsy-Jesus archetype? A bit of a stretch, but still within grasp. Maybe as Zaphod Beeblebrox? Sure, it would be a costume for a friends Halloween party, and at those things you pretty much just get points for coming as the Betelgeusian President of the Galaxy if you get the hair and coat right, but full Jason Momoa six-pack super-cut sexy awesomeness?

Not until they invent both cloning and consciousness replacement to go along with it. For those of you who have bought a Wayne in it’s current condition, you can return him for a full refund. We won’t even ask questions. We all know you were just trying to be nice.]

So, knowing the amount of pain this mobile version of the Rack can bring into being, one can envision why I don’t get out much. It’s fairly difficult not to get depressed given my current inability to squeeze out of the rank air-space that I find myself in, that being between a rock and it’s eternally as rude partner, the hard place*, but I’m keeping my spirit up the best I can. And in regards to the Rock, it seriously needs to clean it’s area up- what, are we still living in the Illiad? Good God, you’re an expression that’s literally thousands of years old- take some personal accountability already, and kindly move out of your moms basement.
*[The origin of the idiom ‘between a rock and a hard place’ can be found in ancient Greek mythology. In Homer’s Odyssey, Odysseus must pass between Charybdis, a treacherous whirlpool, and Scylla, a horrid man-eating, cliff-dwelling monster. Ever since, saying one is stuck between a rock (the cliff) and a hard place (the whirlpool) has been a way to succinctly describe being in a dilemma. Everytime you read me, you all leave a little bit smarter- don’t be afraid to show it off.]

What has helped me immeasurably in staving off some of the darker moments, past the obvious dedication and unwavering love of my GF Ashley, have been my peeps, my fans, Twitter, and the Internet itself. I’ll break each down, not in order of importance, but in usage of said resource. Despite my tendency to over-share, I’m not going to go into detail about my deeper relationship aspects with Ashley, because that’s a facet that quite bluntly, I prefer to keep private. And you all thought I had no boundaries…

First up, the peeps: aka my tribe, my family, my brothers and sisters. These people are beyond doubt, my bedrock- they have my full trust, my full loyalty, and my full protection.

Whether it’s my friend Chelle posting photos of Wonder Woman daily on her IG account under the hastag of #wonderwomanforwayne to add buoyancy to my day, or my brothers from another mother Cale and Martin making toe loss jokes in order to get me to laugh, these people have been solidly in my camp, helping me get through this most difficult time. As someone who is purposefully separated from 99% of my family, my oldest sister being the lone exception, I have solid faith in the following saying I heard somewhere on the ethereal plain once, and that I’m about to roughly paraphrase: “You can’t pick your family, but you can pick your tribe, and sometimes that’s a much smarter purchase.”

Author Scott Stabile goes one better: “Find people who love you, for real, and who accept you, for real. Just as you are. They’re out there, these people. Your tribe is waiting for you. Don’t stop searching until you find them.” I’m very lucky to be able to say that I have, and if I haven’t said it before or not often enough, I love and cherish you all…

Except you, Gavin… you know why.

And no, buying me a trained chinchilla won’t help, you myopic putz.

The second demographic I’ve gotta throw some mushy squishyness to is my Instagram fan base- while small in number, (708 at last count) you guys have been fierce in response, and I really appreciate it. Between the well-wishes and stories of similar struggles, I definitely didn’t feel alone during my hospital stay in a new town, where I literally don’t know a soul, and that has helped tremendously in the keeping my spirits up department. It’s definitely a nice reminder that in this, the most highly conflicted and divisive of times, there still exists a strong amount of incredibly decent people, and that breeds hope eternal.

And last but not least, I have to give thanks to the Internet, and it’s bastard child Twitter, for keeping me both alternately entertained and horrified at both the depth and shallowness of the human condition, and it’s impact upon the world at large. If you are even somewhat familiar with my IG feed, you’ll know that I spend a good chunk of time cruising Twitter for trolls to snack upon and then mock, and rarely am I ever disappointed in that regard.

In fact, I have to laud Twitter for the victuals, nay the sheer banquet of human idiocy that it presents to the world, 24/7. From our asinine Mango Mussolini to the Deep State cultists, the ol’ Twitterstorm rarely fails to delight my inherent snarkiness. There’s nothing I enjoy more than puncturing a flawed stream of logic, and nothing on this fkd’ up Earth truly brings me as much sheer unadulterated joy as forcing Trumplethinskins, racists, misogynists, and the hopeless anti-science crowd back under their fkng rocks, bruised and chastised, as they should be. And given those parameters, Twitter provides Manna* on a level that God himself/herself could never imagine when he/she created the concept of Manna in the first place.
*[Manna, sometimes archaically spelled mana, is an edible substance which, according to the Bible and the Quran, God provided for the Israelites during their travels in the desert during the forty-year period following the Exodus and prior to the conquest of Canaan. 40 years without pizza? I’d rather be enslaved by the Pharaoh.]

Throw in that I’m pretty much confined to home as of late, and you can see why I’m enjoying this bounty so much. And along those lines, much praise must also be attributed to the badlands of the Internet, where the options for entertainment and intellectual growth are seemingly limitless- if I watch any more educational programs or tutorials on YouTube, I’m fairly confident that I can build that NCC-1701-D Constitution Class Starship in my workshop, using nothing more than a few dilithium crystals*, some plumbing parts, and a few sheets of heavily-reinforced sheet metal.
*[In the Star Trek universe, dilithium is an imaginary material, which serves as a critical controlling agent in the ships’ warp drive. According to a periodic table shown during an episode of TNG, it has the chemical branding of Dt and an atomic number of 87, which in reality belongs to francium, which due to it’s most stable isotope, francium-223, having a half-life of about 22 minutes, provides no uses outside of basic scientific research. In the real world, dilithium (Li2) is a molecule composed of two covalently bonded lithium atoms.

Science. It’s just not for picking up brainy nerd girls, although that is still an excellent use of the resource.]

I never thought I’d ever say this, but Twitter, Netflix, YouTube, and PBS online are actually helping keep me sane through this, the ever-changing maelstrom of my personal mental gymnastics, and thank Kothar-wa-Khasis* for that.
*[Kothar-wa-Khasis is an Ugaritic god whose name means “Skillful-and-Wise” or “Adroit-and-Perceptive”. Kothar is attributed to be a Smith, Craftsman, Engineer, Architect, along with being an Inventor, who creates sacred words and spells, in part, because there is an association in many cultures of metalworking deities with magic.]                                           

Granted, I have been enjoying it almost too much, and for the time being should probably cut it back a tad or possibly two. As the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche once opined: “He who fights with monsters should look to it that he himself does not become a monster. And if you gaze long into an abyss, the abyss also gazes into you.”  What is it about Germany that it always seems to nail the inconvenient truth consistently, yet failed to grasp the overall concept of not starting World Wars? A question for another age, I guess, but the Nietzsche man was dead on with this one.

After a while the ichor associated with these pinheads of molassed philosophy starts infecting how you think, how you act, and more importantly, how you interact with others.

While I always (somewhat) joke about how being a cynic is a great position to stake out in life, as you’re either constantly being proven right, or being pleasantly surprised, I don’t really relish seeing it in my politics, or in the souls of others. I prefer the surrounding populace happy about life in general, despite the almost black Catholic streak of cynicism in mine. What can I say, except that I need something, anything to be annoyed about, just so long as I can comment snarkily about it. So you can just imagine how over the moon I am regarding my current situation, can you not? This may be the single biggest thing I’ve ever had in my life to complain about, hands and one foot down.

After all, I’ve spent close to what would be nine pages griping about it, and not just because I don’t really have anything to write about in regards to the local art scene and the potential drama within- even though I will grudgingly admit, that is a factor. With past scrawlings, my meta-grinder operated best on a steady stream of art-related narcissism, pretentiousness, and general corrupt idiocy for sure, but I’ve been looking for chances to expand past that, and maybe this particular sea-change will be a good jumping off point so as to test that faith in my current abilities to do so.

I’ve long held the personal belief that everybody’s got one first-class story in them, and maybe it’s time to start looking at those untouched resources, as a means to go past my well-established comfort zone, and once again, I tend to find inspiration towards this objective within the words of the late Kurt Vonnegut, one of my literary spirit animals:

“If you want to really hurt your parents, and you don’t have the nerve to be gay, the least you can do is go into the arts. I’m not kidding. The arts are not a way to make a living. They are a very human way of making life more bearable. Practicing an art, no matter how well or badly, is a way to make your soul grow, for heaven’s sake. Sing in the shower. Dance to the radio. Tell stories. Write a poem to a friend, even a lousy poem. Do it as well as you possibly can. You will get an enormous reward. You will have created something.” [Excerpt taken from: A Man Without a Country]

Now, since this opinion comes from one of the great Gods of Writing, I feel compelled to follow that counsel, even if it means I make some dreadfully false starts along the way, because there’s no better teacher than extremely awkward mistakes that you make in full view and critique of the public… trust me on this*.
*[See: “Years Ago Blog on Kara Roschi”  Subheading: “Uncomfortable Public Apologies”]

And in a blatantly self-serving attempt to affix some fresh wax and Peregrine feathers to my new and optimistically redesigned Icarus rig, I turn to yet another deity of writing, that being Neil Gaiman, who states:

“Tell your story. Don’t try and tell the stories that other people can tell. Because [as a] starting writer, you always start out with other people’s voices- you’ve been reading other people for years… But, as quickly as you can, start telling the stories that only you can tell, because there will always be better writers than you, there will always be smarter writers than you … but you are the only you.”

Oddly, as I was mulling over this quote for inclusion in this particular piece of writing, I received the following email from one Robert Williamson:

“Hi Wayne,

I’m on the editorial staff of the Voyage Phoenix Magazine and I’m working on interviews with hidden gems from Phoenix and the surrounding areas. Eric Cox thought you would be a great fit for our Thought-Provokers series.

We’re excited to learn more about you and share your story with our readers. There is no cost involved, but we’ll of course need some of your time for the interview. Please let me know if you would be interested in being featured.

Thanks!
Rob”

My response? “Of course I would be interested, it is me after all. LOL.” I always say let them know who and what they’re dealing with right from the start- cuts way down on the confusion level later on in my humble experience, and generally leads to clearer dialogue as time and the project moves forward. Also, much respect towards fellow Artist Eric Cox’s recommendation of yours truly for this media interview opportunity- I’m proud to have written about Eric for PHOENIXmagazine back in September of 2016, and I’m even prouder to call him a friend.

Check out my interview with him here, at:
http://www.phoenixmag.com/arts/eric-cox.html
and go scope his fkng amazing and visionary work out at:
https://www.instagram.com/artsycoxy/

Let’s get back to the ego stroking, which is always my favorite part.
Rob’s follow-up went like this:

“Great! You can find the questions I’ve prepared for the article here:
http:/ ***************************

You’ll need one good personal photo and a few (say 4-8) other relevant images – so I’d recommend collecting those before starting the questionnaire. Timing-wise, we’d appreciate if you could have this back to us within 2 weeks.

If you have any questions, let me know.  Have a great day! 🙂

Thanks, Rob”

I did love how they gave me a two week interlude in which to answer and return questions about my favorite subject, that of course, being me. Naturally, I submitted my responses to their focused questionnaire within a day and a half, because who am I to protract the publication of such an interesting, yet clearly humility-based, read? Plus my cover photo by AZ photog Jim Hesterman [https://www.jimhesterman.com/] was perfect- it is literally one of my favorite photographs of myself ever taken, and you’ll just have to wait to see it., because if there’s one thing I do know how to do, it’s squeeze Oreo filling out of a turnip.
 
But before we get into all that, let’s answer the pertinent question riding on the back of my Elephant-sized Ego in the room: whom exactly are/is Voyage Phoenix Magazine?
[http://voyagephoenix.com/]

In essence, they’re an online magazine highlighting the diversity of Phoenix’s culture, that being it’s nightlife, it’s food scene, it’s Creatives, and the impact that all of those truly varied partitions create towards shaping Phoenix as a whole in this, it’s golden era of rapid change and redevelopment. What I found intriguing about my interview however, was the free-form approach it took- the questionnaire’s generous structure truly allowed me to break out of the normal confines such interviews typically spawn, and the fluidity of doing so made me view this experience as enjoyable, rather than as an obligatory chore.

For instance, past media junkets I’ve suffered often make me contemplate how many shapes I could fold the so-called “interviewer” into if I could legally launch my furtive passion for human origami into the public spotlight. The answer btw, is seven. Eight, if

you can manage to stop them from screaming for help.

As Creatives, we rarely get to see what we actually said expressed passionately or as accurately as we would often like- sometimes it’s the fault of an ill-prepared writer who cannot dissect the art-speak, sometimes it’s the fault of the Creative who cannot move past the comfort of a long-guarded idiom, which makes translation of their philosophy not only difficult to articulate to the writer, but in the end, incomprehensible to the reader.

Neither of those I am happy to report, applied here. The questions were simple, yet open ended, and allowed for some uncharacteristic depth, versus the standard cookie-cutter queries that forcibly create responses that are just as formulaic, and therefore, truly uninteresting. It’s one of my mantras that if you want someone interviewed, you either need to send someone who’s done their full measure of research, or more simply, just send another contemporary of equal measure to do the interview in the first place.

For instance in my world, I would have loved to see Nick Cave interview Lou Reed, or Hunter S. Thompson being questioned by Anthony Bourdain, or Kurt Vonnegut doing an essay on Ray Bradbury- can you imagine? I can, but these are the kinds of things us writers construct in our heads 24/7 to begin with. But as a Creative, being permitted to give a fully developed rejoin is as rare as a coherent public statement by Kanye West.

At the moment, I don’t have a link to the article yet, as it hasn’t been published, but as an enticement, I will include a snippet here, that being my response to a question regarding how best cities can help support Creatives and the Arts:

“Where cities can lend a helping hand is by supporting their local galleries, art-spaces, after-school and public center art programs, funding public art commissions, and by promoting all of the same. Financial incentives and tax breaks for rehabilitating and the reuse of buildings for galleries and/or affordable housing for Creatives, is also in my opinion, vitally necessary too. You can’t have an Arts scene without Creatives. It really is that simple. The fact remains that Art rewards a community and it’s citizens with beauty, insight, and inspiration. It should be recognized and supported for these realities alone.”

Hopefully, this comes across as well thought-out, measured in it’s depth, and most imperative to me, relatively intelligent. But that’s not my call, that’s up to the masses to decide at some point, and it’s out of my hands as of now. As it should be. Time will tell, I guess, but doesn’t it always? And speaking of time, (is that a nice segue or what?) I think now is the most appropriate moment to take a break until I can figure out a way to make the mundane tasks of my down-time appear riveting enough to write about.

And when we come back…I organize my sock drawer, wonder about… just kidding. I would never do that to you. However, I will discuss what my doctor really thinks about my healing progress, check out the local food scene, and hopefully have a published Q&A for you to read, that’s way more interesting than any that I have done before.

“Change can be frightening, and the temptation is often to resist it. But change almost always provides opportunities – to learn new things, to rethink tired processes, and to improve the way we work.” – Klaus Schwab

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hi-Yo Silver Away! Pt.3 (A Toe of Two Cities)

“It’s always hard to deal with injuries mentally, but I like to think about it as a new beginning. I can’t change what happened, so the focus needs to go toward healing and coming back stronger than before.” – Cari Lloyd

“I make jokes because humor is the greatest healing factor that there is.”- Dick Dale

Hello Blogiteers!

When last we met, I was finally back at home, bedridden, with a foot wrapped in bandages, and feeling completely useless and going slightly stir-crazy. But what a difference a week at home makes- granted, nothing has actually changed, but I did manage to escape the house twice, and in one of those times, I went out all by myself, just like a big boy.

And yes, I was wearing clean Luke Skywalker Underoos in case of an accident.

[Seriously, this is REAL. Visit https://underoos.com/ for more awesomeness.]

To celebrate this all too brief moment of limited freedom, I wound up buying myself a Big Mac and a large chocolate shake for lunch, in the manner that anyone adulating at full speed would. After all, I went and got my insurance upgraded to include the addition of renters insurance, which I paid in full, kept an appointment with my new female GP doctor who looks disturbingly like my ex-fiancé, and attempted to re-register as a NM voter, only to find the Democratic office closed that day. (9-11)

Of course, I only discovered this after I had gotten my walker out of the car, shuffled my somewhat disabled butt up a long and uneven brick walkway, and successfully negotiated some steps, only to discover the small handwritten note on the door glass saying they were closed out of “remembrance.”

Son-of-a-c**k-wobbling-spankwanker, that’s just frustrating.

No offense to the 9-11 dead and the horrendous tragedy, but can we please all stop pretending that 17 years out, we’re still wearing sackcloth and mourning crape? Every year, the American flags come out for a day, and then almost immediately, get stored away until the next year. The only difference between this day of tragedy and the 4th of July, is the omission of a cookout. And while I expect some of you to be mouthing a strong “F**k you” in my general direction, right about now, I’d still bet dollars to doughnuts you give zero thought to this event until the dire day of the anniversary, and forget it by the morning of the 12th.

As an addendum, I for one, am sick and tired of the media’s resolve at feeding off the grotesque imagery of that day for close to two decades. There is no need for I, or anyone else for that matter, to watch that clip of the planes hitting the towers- it is seared in our collective consciousness, and needs no refreshing. I once noted in a previous screed of several years ago that the media takes only two positions in how it reports the “news” of the day, that being either fear (look! terrorism everywhere!) or fluff (look! Kardashians everywhere!) with that in mind, I really do think it’s way past time to stop milking this monstrosity for it’s faux nationalism, and either make it an official day of solemn tribute with all the dignity that it’s due, or finally admit that we need to move on, and go forward as a country.

To add to the days aggravation, I probably should also note that I was given the wrong address for the doctor as well, which I only discovered after I had gotten my walker out of the car, shuffled my somewhat disabled butt up a long concrete walkway, successfully negotiated a flight of steps, entered the building, walked the interminable distance up to the reception desk, only to be told that the office I sought was across the street.

Fortunately, the receptionist saw the overwhelmed look on my face, as using a walker tends to be highly exhausting for me, due to the debilitating factors of my diabetic-related weight loss, the erosion of my essential muscle tone due to the same, and the workmans injury I suffered earlier last year.

I’m pretty sure if I had been born a horse, I’d be a box of glue sticks right about now.

Amazingly, they were nice enough to secure a wheelchair in order to get me back to my car, yet another reason why I really dig living here- everybody is so damn kind, and thoughtful to a degree that sometimes I’m tempted to ask if anyone here hails from Stepford, Connecticut*. Not that I’d really care, but it would come in handy at Christmas, as I’m pretty certain the majority of robots aren’t programmed to expect gifts.
*[ The Stepford Wives is a 1972 satirical thriller novel by author Ira Levin. The story concerns Joanna Eberhart, a young mother who begins to suspect that the frighteningly submissive housewives in her new idyllic neighborhood of Stepford, Connecticut may possibly be robot duplicates created by their husbands.]

So after getting myself and my dead-sexy chromed collapsible ride inside my car, I drive across the street to my new GP’s office, park in the handicapped space without guilt for the first time in my life, shuffle my somewhat arguably disabled butt up a long concrete walkway, where at the end, someone was holding the door open for me, (what a town!) make my introductions, start to fill out the anticipated paperwork, and as I do, discover this printed on my form:

Holy underpinnings of Unitarianism, is this progressive or what?

Take that, second so-called Man of God at the Gila Regional Medical Center, who I’m fairly confident, wouldn’t condescend to go here. At least I’m hoping he doesn’t, because it would be awkward if I was forced to commit an act of justifiable martyrdom inside such a clean office, using nothing but my walker and a two-year old copy of Us Magazine. On the  upside, it would settle the eternal question at least for him anyway, of whether or not his God is as narrow-minded as he is, as I’m hoping not to have that discussion for another 50 years or so, at the very minimum.

However, if he is, I’m still pretty sure that my twenties alone banked enough honorary credit with Satan to the point that he’d still offer me a job in the new arrivals department. After all, I am truly a people person, and who better than a writer and Creative to spin the wax poetic as to how and where you’ll be spending eternity? Always keep your personal options open, says I, for you never know what end-hand Fate will deal you.

Personally, I’m praying for a Royal Flush, but I’d settle in favor of a Straight, if it came right down to it. Semi-corrupted beggars can’t be virtuous choosers, if all I heard at Sunday School was even remotely accurate. So, the nurse comes in, runs through my medical history, takes my (always low) blood pressure, asks some related questions, shares a story or two, and then departs, leaving me alone to wait on my doctor for ten minutes or so- the fairly standard routine, that we all know and have come to absolutely hate.

In order to kill time, I played around with my phone, checked my e-mail, answered some fan comments on my social pages, and was once again struck cold by how even though we all literally have the world’s information at our fingertips, the number of terrifyingly unintelligent people is seemingly increasing. Flat-earth tripe. Political tripe. Anti-vaxxer tripe. Denise Richards is considered an actual actress, tripe.

And don’t even get me started on those idiots who erroneously believe that Jean-luc Picard is a better Starfleet captain than James the f*****g man Tiberius Kirk.

It’s enough for me to get my custom-made Bat’leth* off the studio wall and just start lopping off these egregious fan-boys grotesquely swollen and misshapen heads. You know… like you do? Covered in a sheen of failure flop sweat and consisting on a diet of  microwaved by your mom Hot Pockets is not the way to go through life, kids- just a tip from me to you.
*[The bat’leth, or “sword of honor” is a traditional bladed weapon. While Klingons often carry disruptors, they prefer to use bladed weapons in combat, with the two most common being the aforementioned bat’leth and the mek’leth, which is also a badass piece of tech. Seriously. Google it. Just don’t take my word for it.]

As I was in the middle of eating another conservatives marginally functioning soul on my Twitter feed, [https://twitter.com/darkreichaz] and consequently posting the resulting hilarity on my Instagram feed, [https://www.instagram.com/wayne_michael_reich_art/] my potentially new doctor walks in, and to be quite honest, it was a tad bit disquieting, as she looks a lot like my ex-fiancé whom I still warmly refer to as “Whora the Explorer”, a pet name that implies nothing but my best wishes of success sent her way. When of course in due time, she works her way back up to the “W” section of the male species, that is.

And the best part of having flushed three years of my life down the metaphorical toilet is that I’m not bitter about it at all. Fairly well-adjusted, in fact. I think that much is pretty apparent, if one were to look at it from an outsiders perspective, that is. And anyone who says different is obviously just projecting their own insecurities, which is just sad, if you ask me. Unlike my ex-fiancé however, I’m fairly certain my new doctor isn’t going to look at my male friends the same way one looks at the appetizer menu from Dennys, so that’s a plus.

The unspoken advantage being that if they did so, I might be able to negotiate a better co-pay, but I’m also fairly confident that’s a conversation that would only be framed by the use of the word “awkward”, at best.     

But overall, the visit went off without a hitch. Mainly since I was smart enough not to bring up the topic of that uncomfortable metaphorical conversation to begin with, and also because unlike my ex, we got along. A very nice lady, good sense of humor, sharp eye for detail, and dissimilar to my ex-fiancé, doesn’t blame me for stuff I didn’t do or that never happened in the first place. Nice, that.

See? I told you I was well-adjusted regarding the waste of three years of my life. I seriously have no idea why you even keep bringing it up. That’s sad. Just sad.

After that, it was time to grab some lunch, and since I’m relatively immobile, that meant hitting the ol’ drive-thru, since I could only imagine the wandering nightmare me and a walker in a restaurant would lead to, and here in Silver City, that’s a selection that tends to be limited, small town and all that. We do, to my limited knowledge, have one Wendy’s, two Sonics, one Mc Donald’s, an Arby’s, and oddly, a shuttered up Burger King and defunct KFC.

The KFC is kind of a weird casualty, given the fact it’s located squarely in the parking lot of our local Super Wal-Mart, and let’s be brutally honest- that demographic clearly loves the Colonel and his mondo chicken buckets, along with KFC’s nightmare-inducing KFC Famous Bowl*, so once brutally mocked by comedian Patton Oswalt.
*[The KFC Famous Bowl is described on the KFC website thusly: ” Creamy mashed potatoes, sweet corn and bite-sized chunks of crispy chicken are layered together then drizzled with home-style gravy and topped with a perfect blend of three shredded cheeses.” In response to KFC’s fluffy prose, his almost bowl-ending joke goes like this:

“Stop right there! Can you pile all of those items into a single bowl and just kinda make them into a wet mound of starch that I can eat with a spoon like I’m a death-row prisoner on suicide watch? I just want kind of a light brown hillock of glop. If you could put my lunch in a blender, and liquefy it, and then put it into a caulking gun and inject it right into my femoral artery, even better! But until you invent a lunch gun, I would like a failure pile in a sadness bowl!”]

The sad reality of my day was that I wasn’t in the mood for the heaviness of Sonic, the almost-healthiness of Wendy’s, or even if it had been open, the salt-encrusted depravity that comprises what passes for fried chicken at KFC. Seriously, with their five dollar two-piece drumstick and thigh combo, the chicken by itself constitutes over 90% of your daily sodium intake due to it’s monstrous amount of 2200 mg. of contained sodium. And that’s before any of the sides you can add on, such as the gravy, mashed potatoes, and those dog treats they refer to as biscuits.

For me, that strikes as if one were to ingest a container of Morton’s, but at least you could wash it down with gravy, I guess. To give you an idea what health officials suggest, here are some guidelines: the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA): recommends 2300 mg. a day, the American Heart Association (AHA): 1500 mg. a day, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND): 1500 to 2300 mg. a day, and the American Diabetes Association (ADA): 1500 to 2300 mg. a day.

But me? I was in the mood for a Big Mac and a large chocolate shake. Not healthy for sure, but how bad could it really be for me? After all, I only have one of these combos roughly every three months or so, when for whatever reason, I get the craving somewhat fierce.

And as I was craving protein, due to the surgeries, in essence, when it came to equating  KFC’s boxed salt lick combos against a jovial clowns fare which allegedly fosters possible heart disease, I’d have to be ahead to some extent, right? Well… the answer is yes, but not by much. A Big Mac has 1007mg, and a large chocolate shake, 420mg, for a combined total of 1427, or 56% of recommended daily value. But since I eat amazingly healthy at home, I rationalized the permission of what is essentially an almost tasteless burger paired with a beverage made mostly of corn syrup, as treat worthy of my efforts.

As an aside, the actual ingredients in a Mc Donald’s chocolate shake are: Milk, sugar, cream, corn syrup, natural flavor, mono and diglycerides, cellulose gum, guar gum, carrageenan, vitamin A, and palmitate. Feel free to look up the more exotic ones. It’ll do nothing but ease your mind.

But I can freely admit that the inclusion of Vitamin A* was kind of a shocker. After all, when you have a product that’s mostly made up of a corn-derived syrup whose main purpose is to soften texture, add volume, prevent the crystallization of sugar, and enhance flavor, the addition of something that’s actually good for you seems almost like a sardonic joke from the alleged food scientists slaving away in the clowns secluded victuals lab.
*[Vitamin A is a group of unsaturated nutritional organic compounds that includes retinol, retinal, retinoic acid, and several provitamin A carotenoids. Vitamin A has multiple functions: it is important for growth and development, for the maintenance of the immune system and good vision.]

Granted, while the addition of this vital nutrient does have some debatable value, I’m still pretty sure that I wouldn’t successfully win the point with my endocrinologist nor my ophthalmologist that I should be able to knock back a few of these a week. Just one of the cruel realities of life, I guess. Besides, that stuff goes straight to my hips, anyway.

Speaking of hips, that brings me to the matter of the insurance office I had to go visit next, in order to be compliant under the laws of New Mexico. Unfortunately, their parking lot was on the opposite side of the building they inhabit, and there was no allowable street parking, so I had to shuffle my somewhat disabled butt out of the loose gravel parking lot, successfully negotiate the uneven street in front of the office, walk the interminable distance up a long concrete sidewalk, and plopped my aching hips in the first chair I came across.

Inevitably, the questions arose about my injury, so I gave the cliff notes about the initial wound, detailed the surgeries, and wrapped it up with a rave review of the Gila Reigional Medical Center, as I’ve been doing for anyone who’s asked.

Regrettably, there was another customer in the office at the time who overheard my conversation, which I had deliberately kept light, as I don’t like bumming strangers out with my problems, and proceeded to state that she had recently lost her husband of 46 years, a fact she blamed squarely on same said hospital, bitterly attributing his death to multiple surgeries that (in her opinion) led to a MRSA* infection, which subsequently, may have ended his life.  
*[Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (aka: MRSA) refers to a group of gram-positive bacteria that are genetically distinct from other strains of Staphylococcus aureus. MRSA is responsible for several difficult-to-treat infections in humans.]

As you might imagine, it’s rather difficult to recover the thread of your positive narrative after someone hurls an unexpected heartbreak grenade into the center of the discussion campfire. And to my exceedingly limited credit, I didn’t even try, for what can you actually say at that point that moves the conversation forward past the offering of unforeseen condolences? Luckily, the dialogue was interrupted by my agent requiring some further personal details, so this particular discomfort resolved itself, as she left the office soon after, only to be replaced by a worker at our local open air copper mine who rather unprompted, educated me about it’s history and inner workings, which were rather more interesting than you might think.

As the settling of my insurance issues came to a close, two things were made inevitably clear: one: this is a town full of stories, and two: people are seemingly willing to share them. As someone who’s both a natural chatterbox and a dedicated writer, I feel as If I’m on some fertile ground as to the fate of my future industriousness in the endeavors of writing. I’ve been wanting to get somewhat out of the literary art-box I’ve found myself in, and from what I’ve been hearing, New Mexico is rich with possibility. Not that I’m going to stop writing about Art and it’s creators, nor the drama surrounding them mind you, but I think I also need to be open to telling other stories that I run across, and that others hopefully will deem to be interesting. Not to mention that thanks to my injury, I still haven’t been able to make the inroads yet that I still require in order to swim alongside my soon to be adopted arts community here in Silver City.

I have been giving serious thought however, to using my amputated toe as a “hook”- you know, use it as an in by maybe introducing myself via a cool-sounding related nickname, like “Nicky Nine-toes”, or maybe drop in the conversational tidbit that I can’t wear sandals anymore, due to the fact that I’m “lack-toe intolerant”. All I know is that I need to come up with a much more interesting story as to how I lost my toe than what actually happened.

Maybe I could craft a tale about rescuing orphans from a burning boat off the coast of Madagascar, letting all know that as I was pulling the last one aboard, a ferociously ravenous pygmy shark* rose up from the murky depths and nailed me, as I shielded the innocent child with my pinky toe… it’s a work in progress- I’ll keep you guys posted.
*[The pygmy shark (Euprotomicrus bispinatus), the second-smallest of all the shark species after the dwarf lanternshark, is a sleeper shark of the Dalatiidae family, and the only memeber of the genus Euprotomicrus. Their lengths are up to about 10 in for females and about 8.7 in for males. It’s this kind of information that’s going to allow you to kick ass the next time you play Trivial Pursuit.]

Arriving home, I suffered the indignity of a less than graceful egress out of my car, as I nearly tripped over my own feet, trying to hold onto my slack bag (aka: male purse), my cell phone, and a paperback book that was inadvertently left in my car during the move, all while attempting to manipulate my walker on our somewhat uneven driveway.

Mikhail Nikolayevich Baryshnikov, I am glaringly not. A drunken Jennifer Lawrence, wearing five inch stilettos and juggling disagreeable ferrets during an earthquake however, is a distinct possibility. So, I manage to shuffle my somewhat arguably disabled butt up the driveway, correct course, shuffle along our mercifully short concrete walkway, fumble with my keys and rapidly slipping sunglasses, and manage to get my shambling self inside the house… where I almost take myself out by catching a corner of one of the numerous unpacked boxes from our move with my walker.

I can see the news crawl* now: “Artbitch pulls a full Vonnegut,** story at 11.”
*[A News crawl or news ticker, is the moving line of text seen at the bottom of your screen during TV news programs. ** American writer (and my literary hero) Kurt Vonnegut died as a result of brain injuries from a fall, hence my morbid joke. In an interview shortly before his death, Vonnegut mockingly stated that he would sue the maker of the Pall Mall cigarettes he had been smoking most of his life for false advertising.:

“And do you know why? Because I’m 83 years old. The lying bastards! On the package, Brown & Williamson promised to kill me.”

When I eventually spin off this mortal coil, I want to be armed with the same sense of mordant humor when and if, I face whatever constitutes the one true God.]

But near-misses mark the inner character of a man, does it not? Fortuitously, I managed to get my right leg underneath me to break my fall, keeping a limited grip on my walker, while somehow managing to keep my left foot from making direct contact with the ground. If anyone had walked in mere milliseconds after this happened, they would have surmised I was practicing some new form of Yoga involving medical equipment, as I assumed a pose appropriate only for the male lead in a late 70’s porn movie.

Yeah… best of luck getting that picture out of your head- I’m telling you right now, when you go to sleep tonight, that image is going to pop into your skull, and stick there as if it were coated in Krazy Glue. I’m so sorry. You have no idea. As I pick myself up off the floor, two thoughts pop into my head, the first being: “well, that f*****g sucked”, and the second was; “Hey… there’s that box I was looking for!” As the saying goes, when life hands you lemons, point out to Life that you can’t make lemonade without sugar and water, so within the context of things, Life just pulled a dick move, and you sure as Hell aren’t putting up with it’s crap, no way, no how.

Another thing I’m really having trouble putting up with is the mildly enforced bedrest I have to endure due to my injury- keeping my leg elevated is a key factor to it’s healing, and it literally is for the birds. You can only watch so much TV, read so many paperbacks, or surf the internet before you start losing your virtual marbles. How vexed am I by this, you ask? Well, the other day in an online cooking forum, I “yelled” at a 76 year old Latvian woman for calmly suggesting that oatmeal raisin is a far better cookie recipe than the standard chocolate chip one . And while I do feel bad about doing so, it’s not like she was right to begin with in the first place, so I’m not even sure I can note that as a *true mental crackup. [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xO7EFfdX8Rs]

What’s harder to handle however, is how my foot looks- my surgeon did an amazing job, no doubts there, and I’ve been told constantly since the ray amputation surgery that it “looks great”, but that’s from the people whose sole job it is to evaluate the healing process, not the aesthetic one. From my artists intrinsic perspective, it’s reminiscent of what I’ve always thought would happen if an undead Chihuahua ever managed to sneak up on the sandal-wearing hero in a B-grade zombie movie, and got him by the toes. Now, according to my surgeon, in time my foot will “fill out” and not look so severe, but at this moment, I can’t look at it without feeling alternating shades of revulsion, depression, and horror.

So naturally, I’m assuming you’d like to see a picture from the first time my bandages were removed right after the surgery? God, you people are gluttons for punishment, or you’re morbid- either way, this should be a real treat for you, and only you. My joy will derive from finally hitting that line when it comes to over-sharing.

WARNING: A small hint? you may not want to be reading this as you eat dinner, and you definitely will never look at an un-breaded chicken cutlet the same way ever again. Just saying.

So here goes….

When I first saw it as is, my first reaction was straight out shock- I didn’t expect it to look pretty by any means, but I also didn’t expect to see that much of my foot gone, either. And no, it wasn’t my surgeon’s fault that this came as such an eye-opener to me, he had been pretty straight-up as to what I should anticipate, I just couldn’t mentally conceptualize it, which is, let’s face it, somewhat odd for a visual artist such as myself. It might have something to do with the fact I’ve never dabbled in the more organic styles of art, or it could just be my naive optimism that makes me such a blödmann* to begin with.
*[“Dumbass” in German. See, you’re learning something new, and that’s always fun.]

By looking at it, you might think I’m in a world of pain, but shockingly, this really hasn’t hurt as much as you might think, mainly due to the extensive nerve damage I already have below my knees. I don’t really feel anything past the occasional tingle or pressure on my foot, and for the first time since I contracted this stupid disease, the loss of sensation is actually a win-win in my favor, and I’m embracing that fully. Another minus is that all of the research I’ve done regarding how long this might take to heal fully, lays the timeline out to be anywhere from one to two months, at which point I may find myself in a bell tower*, taking out the wicked and the innocent alike with carefully directed water balloons.
*[Google “Charles Whitman”. Who by the way of a spoiler, did not use water balloons.]

Heres the unseasoned dry rub- I’m a true Type A personality who really needs to start making some artistic inroads, unpack a ton of boxes, get his studio in order, seek out new writing and future employment opportunities, and in general, just wants to be out of his bed more than in it, no matter how cool and comfy my lounge-pants are. And trust me, I’ve got some seriously cool and comfy lounge pants. But the awesomeness of my Hello Kitty matching wardrobe aside, I’ve got stuff to do, and this injury didn’t take the diligence due to fill out the proper forms to officially get in my way of doing what needs to be done.

I tells ya, it’s like my body doesn’t even listen to it’s own intellect anymore. It’s as if I’m comprised mostly of unruly teenagers, all of whom think the brain “doesn’t get it” and are gonna do what they wanna do, no matter the consequences. First my pancreas fails at the age of thirty, and I find out only then that there’s no warranty coverage past the first six months of ownership, and as a means to add insult to eventual injury, my foot decides to raise Cain and attempts to set off a gangrenous gas grenade in it’s brother Abel, also known as my leg.

The sheer freaking nerve, am I right?

Kids… pretty much the “better you than me” category when referring to unwanted gifts from Life. Seriously Life, you really shouldn’t have. And I say this as someone who not only loves kids, but is truly great with them as well. That’s why I could never be an effective father- I’d be way too busy out-fitting my kids with bundles of M-80’s, matches, cans of Krylon, paint-thinner-filled water-guns, and continually printing fake ID’s, to ever dispense any sort of wisdom past my three hard-earned life lessons: One: On no account should you ever cook bacon in the nude. Two: By no means should you ever allow yourself to fall in love with anyone who pays their rent in singles. and three: Always respect someone for what’s between their ears, and not their legs.

Come to think of it, that’s actually some pretty damn good advice. Screw what I typed earlier, I’d be an awesome dad. I certainly wouldn’t be boring, that’s for sure. And there’s no better bonding experience than lying to your local police as a family. Trust me on this.

Ooof. Looks like it’s getting late, so now might be a really good place to stop. And when we come back…

I discover that when you’ve got two bum shoulders, a walker is a torture device you get to bring with you, answer some questions for an online art magazine interview, and ponder some career options.

“Tomorrow may be hell, but today was a good writing day, and on the good writing days nothing else matters.” – Neil Gaiman

 


Hi-Yo Silver Away! Pt.2 (A Toe of Two Cities)

Scars are simply modern battle wounds. Sometimes the enemy happens to be inside us.” – Andrew Grey

“With all due respect to my surgeon, in a perfect world he would be out of a job.” – Russ Ramsey

Hello Blogiteers!

Today is an absolutely gorgeous day here just outside of Silver City, NM- there’s a touch of a cold front coming, a hint of petrichor in the air, and the sky is staging a breathtaking visualization of clouds so puffy, it looks as if the heavens are bleeding cotton candy- or as we like to call it out here, Wednesday. Truly, this place is breathtakingly gorgeous in it’s unblemished splendor. I seriously cannot think of a more perfect backdrop in which to find myself in regards to recovering from an unforeseen and highly traumatic surgical procedure, that being the amputation of one of my lesser toes, along with a good portion of my foot as well.

On the additional downside, I’m currently laid up on prescribed and strictly enforced bed-rest, so for someone like me who’s a full-blown Type A personality, it’s essentiallyan exercise in making sure I don’t go completely batshit stir-crazy, so thank Allah for PBS online and Netflix as a panacea towards keeping my sanity in check.

A small, yet relevant to our story side note: I don’t know who’s responsible for discovering new content for Netflix, but they scored a South Korean zombie movie called “Last Train to Busan” which is a holy-scary-motherf**k-balls flick which will literally make you wet yourself, no lie. I still haven’t finished it yet, and I’ve been purposely watching it durirng the day, with all the window-shades up- that’s how intense this thing is. I may take a cue from TV’s “Friends”, by following Joeys advice, and putting my TV in the freezer, where the horror can be contained safely.

After all, my copy of “The Shining” is already in there, and I’m sure it could use the company. Lord knows, I could use some.

See, one of the negatives about landing in a new town is that you essentially have no network to lean on, until you’ve gone and made some new friends, which is kind of hard to do when you’re doing your best impression of John and Yuko at The Queen Elizabeth in Montreal, circa 1969. It’s even more stressful when the original game plan was to be a house husband for a brief moment in time, and then run free to go seek fame, fortune, and the occasional complimentary box of Ding Dongs. But as John Lennon once soberly said: “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.”

And boy, did Life happen with a vengeance. If it had been the game or the cereal, I probably would have come out on the other side with nothing more than the loss of two excruciatingly boring hours with my relatives and a mid-level sugar high, but it didn’t work out that way, so help me Bob.*
*[During the mid-19th century, “Bob” was used as a euphemism for “God,” as in “So help me, Bob!”. According to Google N-grams, the idiom came into substantial use towards the end of the 19th century. Isn’t learning about the lexicon fun? Of course it is, because knowing is half the battle. And hopefully the next World War will be more like a quiz show, in which case… you’ll do fine.]

It all started (perhaps) back in Phoenix roughly two months ago or so- in a moment of abject non-thinking stupidity, I stepped out onto my then concrete balcony in the middle of the afternoon, and badly burned my feet. That in and of itself was bad enough, as the concretes baseline temperature was probably bubbling around 135 degrees, but due to the severe and chronic diabetic nerve damage in my legs, I did not feel or realize the massive harm I had inadvertently self-inflicted until several hours after the fact. By that point, the bottoms of my feet looked like a truly wretched cheese pizza. You know, like the ones that Papa John’s makes? But in my case, the carnage was delivered without the arrogant racism or the exploitation of highly undercompensated workers.

It still sucked, however.

Visually, and literally, my feet were toast, and it was horrifying to look at. Cross a flattened Shar-pei with Freddy Kreuger and glue it to my soles, and you’ll get the general idea that I’m going for here. In the end, I was off my cooked feet for three days, and the burns eventually healed nicely, or so I thought. See, here’s the deal- I don’t know if what happened recently stems from this particular incident, or if it was another factor entirely, due to the fact I was so focused on our move, that I literally tuned out everything that wasn’t directly involved with it.

In hindsight, that was obviously a massive cock-up.

Roughly a week and a half after we arrived at our new home just ouside Silver City, NM, my left foot started puffing up, and despite our best efforts, we could not get the swelling to go back down. At first, I wasn’t too worried- after all, one of the side effects of the drug I take [Lyrica] to keep my nerve pain in check is localized swelling, and I have, over the years, dealt with this symptomatic annoyance/pain-in-the-ass from time to time. But when a red “bloom” started appearing over the surface of my foot, I called my Phoenix-based endocrinologist who in no uncertain terms told me to, and I quote: “get your damn ass to a hospital… NOW”

Did I mention that when I left to go to the hospital at 8:30 that night, it was both raining cats and dogs, and that I had no idea where I was going? Thank the corpse of Steve Jobs for whomever he tried to steal my Samsung’s far superior GPS from, for it directed me like a champ to the Gila River Medical Center, which is roughly 20 minutes from my house.

Disturbingly, the online reviews on this place were uniformly terrible, but after my solo experience with this facility and its fkng amazeballs staff, I’m inclined, no, I wholeheartedly hold the opinion that not only are these ‘sour grape” reviews, they’re also most likely from people who as customers in the retail sphere, have those angular haircuts and the resting bitch face that screams “I’m going to need to talk to your manager Karen, because I: didn’t get what I want / you’re not psychic / how dare you not kiss my ass fast enough”- you know, the same people constructed of hubris and human pudding-skin that go into an In-and-Out Burger, and are incensed that they have to wait six and a half minutes for their fresh food to be cooked?

This place not only has the best care I’ve ever received, but the best support staff, the best surgeon(s), and the best damn nursing team I’ve ever had the pleasure of interacting with in regards to what has been one of the most horrible and wholly terrifying situations I’ve ever found myself in, minus my near-death experience, back in 2009.

When I originally checked in, I thought to myself that at worst, I’d be hospitalized for a night at best, while I received some strong antibiotics and took in a few of those bags of saline us diabetics seem to like so much. Unfortunately, that’s not the way things worked out. I was immediately admitted, had numerous vials of blood drawn, was x-rayed, and then directly clued-in that not only was there was a massive infection in my foot, which had crossed the line into being septic, but was now filling my leg with gas gangrene* from the ongoing necrosis.
*[Gas gangrene (also known as clostridial myonecrosis and myonecrosis) is a bacterial infection that produces gas in tissues in gangrene. This deadly form of gangrene usually is caused by Clostridium perfringens bacteria Myonecrosis is a condition of necrotic damage, specific to muscle tissue.]

At this point, I was starting to think that perhaps, things had gone a bit awry, and that I probably wasn’t going to be on top of checking off any of the items on my to-do list for a while. Sure, not losing my leg or my life was important, but I had intended an entire day centered around binge-watching America’s Test Kitchen, and now thanks to this, I feared I was never going to find out how to make a properly light and tasty macaroon. Don’t give me that look… they are a bitch to make, and you know it.

As do the French, who I’m quite sure, did this to us on purpose. Some people just hold onto grudges forever, evermore the pity.

But to get back on the proverbial track, after a few more hours, the ER doctor, first name of Sharon, comes in with the full diagnosis, and lets me know that the orthopedic surgeons will talk to me first thing in the morning, which honestly, freaked me out even more than having my foot filling up with necrotic gases and flesh for some reason. It might have something to do with the fact that so far, I’ve managed to keep most of my stock parts, and as a recovering Catholic, I’ve always wondered if God issues penalties for showing up at the Gates without everything he gave you originally.

Hopefully, that’s a question that will be answered a long time from now, and if He starts getting persnickety, I’ll remind him that he’s the one who gave me diabetes in the first place, and then we’ll see how good his sense of humor is. After all, he’s responsible for both the platypus and the aardvark, so I really like my chances here.

So, with that scalpel of Damocles over my head, I eventually turn in for the night, as truly comfortable as I could be with an IV line stuck in my right arm while laying in a strange and weirdly narrow bed, thinking about my decomposing interior. Some advice for all the hospitals out there- invest in a few Purple mattresses, and save patients the trouble of having to find the “sweet spot” where one needs to nestle correctly in order to get some restful sleep. Just a thought.

On the upside, I was delighted to discover that the hospital food was unexpectedly good, [thank you, Brett!] and that the hospital had a never-ending supply of two of my favorite snacks- graham crackers and pudding, in the standard two flavors of course, that being vanilla and chocolate. I’m not sure why this is, but hospital pudding in my opinion, always tastes better than home pudding. Maybe it’s a comfort thing, maybe it’s just projection, but anytime I’ve been in the hospital, I figuratively wreck whatever stores of the gooey goodness that hospital may have. It’s literally my favorite thing to eat, and I’m pretty sure my nurses wondered what my obsession with it was. Sadly, it’s a diabetic thing, and they’ll never understand.

Moving on..

The next day, a stocky, rather refreshingly blunt speaking, and according to Ashley, “attractive” surgeon (if you like that ruggedly handsome kind of thing, that is) by the name of Dr. Roberto Carreon, comes in to talk to me, letting me know with no hyperbole what will be involved in regards to what eventually turns out to be four surgeries in ten days, or to put it another way, I spent at least four hours sleeping the light fantastic, and don’t remember a thing… at all. I can’t recall the name of the two doctors who did my anesthesia, but they dropped me as if I were a flaming rock.

And amazingly, when I woke up in post-op recovery, I was in fact, startlingly clear-headed, not nauseous, and completely tuned-in. My gut instinct tells me that I can safely bet on the option that these two could easily make a pitcher of Pan Galactic Gargle Blasters out of various items one might find in the average kitchen, and not even break a sweat while doing so. What was unforeseen and ill-fated, was that an old nemesis and I had to meet again prior to my first surgery, and unlike when I was hospitalized in 2009 for a case of rampant ketoacidosis, I was unfortunately conscious when said reunion took place.

Enter the Foley catheter swaggering into my life yet again, drunk on urine and bitterness. What exactly is a Foley catheter? Well…

“A Foley catheter is a thin, sterile tube inserted into the bladder to drain urine. Because it can be left in place in the bladder for a period of time, it is also called an indwelling catheter.”

A few minor quibbles here in regards to this portrayal? On the surface, this charmingly phrased description seems as sterile as the medical accessory itself- what it neglects to  mention is how and where it’s inserted to gain access to that reservoir of liquid gold. The last time I had one of these inflicted upon me, I wasn’t entirely lucid when it was inserted, due to mental impairment caused by exceedingly high blood sugar, but I was this time not that lucky, as I noted earlier.

I don’t think it would be overstating the point to mention that I, like most men throughout the ages, have spent a great deal of my life defending the ol’ spawn-hammer from harm, when I haven’t been bragging about what it can do and how awesome it looks while doing it, that is. Seriously. I wrote a piece about posing nude for a fellow artist once, and it was literally the talk of the town for weeks. Nobody seemed to appreciate the signed 8×10’s though, in retrospect.

Regardless, It’s exactly the first thing they teach you on the playground- that is, to protect your Everlasting Gob-dropper from all enemies, be they sucker punches, that horizontal bar on men’s bikes that was placed there by Satan, or errant foul balls. So, when in the moments preceding my surgery I was informed that I needed to vacate my bladder and wasn’t able to do so to the nurse’s satisfaction, I really didn’t think about the end game, to be quite frank.

After all, what was the worst that could possibly happen?

Note to self: in the immediate and long-term future, STOP ASKING THESE KINDS OF ASININE QUESTIONS. SERIOUSLY. JUST STOP ASKING, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD AND COUNTRY. After about 20 minutes trying to get my bladder to do it’s job and falling far short of the write your name in the snow line, an issue I’m going to blame on middle-age performance anxiety, a very cute, and very young, nurse walks in with the Foley kit, and plainly tells me that this is going to happen.

Ask the universe an idiotically phrased metaphorical question, and boy, will it return with an even shoddier answer, I kid you not.

This is mainly why it and I don’t go out carousing anymore. Well that, and the difficulty in securing a reliable bail bondsman. As I’m getting prepped for the procedure, she states that I should “prepare for some discomfort”, to which I make a flippant comment about it getting caught in a zipper once (true story) and there’s “no way it could be worse” than that.
[ See: “Idiotic assumptions.” Subheading: “Things morons say.” ]

Those of you who are squeamish, might want to skip ahead a bit, due to the metaphors I’m about to lay down. But before we begin, let’s look at what the dictionary has classified the definition of discomfort as. It states it to be: “an absence of comfort or ease; uneasiness, hardship, or mild pain, anything that is disturbing to or interferes with comfort.”

Now, if we use this depiction as a base, it would foreshadow that what I was about to go through at best, would be minimal, both in pain and effort, right? As I stated earlier, I need to STOP ASKING THE COSMOS THESE KINDS OF ASININE QUESTIONS. Especially where the safety and well-being of my Rogering Ramjet is concerned. First they applied an antibiotic- it stung a little, but overall the sensation was not too bad, and it rather easily falls under the banner of discomfort I was just talking about.

Hell, this part I could do all day standing on my head. Sadly however, next comes the part that the demon Guyota* himself obviously scripted out of spite, that being the insertion of a flesh-rendering tentacle from Hell.
*[In Guanche mythology, Guyota is the principal malignant deity, and is said to be represented as a black dog, accompanied by demons, also in the form of black dogs]

The only way I could accurately describe the pain of this procedure is to say it felt like someone casually took a red-hot razor-studded sewer pipe, and decided to shove it up my wookie-blood-sword sideways, as hungry ferrets wrapped in fish hooks and wearing ice skates, pole danced to Rammstein, while simultaneously swinging nail-studded baseball bats- in essence, IT F*****G HURT… A LOT.

More than watching Tom Cruise as Jack the Forest Boy in Legend. More than suffering through Denise Richards mutilating her role as a nuclear scientist named Christmas Jones in The World is Not Enough. It hurt worse than watcthing our tangerine-colored president attemptng to string a coherent sentence together, and that’s a gift that keeps on giving, sort of like Deadpool if he was afflicted with Herpes.

It was intense, to say the very least.

I’ll never experience childbirth, but I’d have to assume it would feel like this, if after the kid was born, they decided to thrust it back into the womb with a cannon, after outfitting it with golf shoes, sandpaper mittens, and Saber-tooth tiger fangs. I once wrote about going through a procedure like this before when I wasn’t lucid, but the end conclusion I came to then remains the same as now- if in the future it becomes imperative to insert one of these again to drain my bladder, either knock me the f**k out  first, or just leave me on top of a mound of Sham-Wows to slowly drain, as nature intended.

Just a simple request, ok?

So a few moments after this little side-trip through the plains of Gehenna*, the surgical team comes to get me, and within mere minutes, I was knocked out colder than a tiki torch wielding Nazi at a Black Lives Matter rally.
*[In the rabbinic literature as well as Christian and Islamic scripture, Gehenna is a destination of the wicked. This is different from the more neutral Sheol/Hades, the abode of the dead, See? You learn something new every time you read me.]

Eventually, I wake up, looked over by a delightful nurse with a really good sense of humor, and that strong sense of professionalism that I mentioned earlier. After a few enjoyable minutes of post-surgery banter like you do, Dr. Carreon comes into the recovery area, and he looks serious. Almost grim, in fact. Downright solemn. One might even say somber, if one were so inclined.

Obviously, he was there to deliver the best of news.
[See once again: “Idiotic assumptions.” Subheading: “Things morons think.” ]

He however, does not bring tidings of non-necrotic joy as hoped, but states that despite his best efforts, the operation exposed the cheerless reality that the tissue damage was far more extensive than originally predicted, and the infectivity had actually progressed into the bone in two different locations- this was not good on so many different levels, and I’ll inform you as to why. Diabetics as a rule, have a lot of varying issues to deal with when we get sick, our healing factor being the top key for most of us.

For me, my immune system has always been a double-edged sword- I generally don’t show symptoms until I’m already very unwell, and the nerve damage I suffer from can mask the severity of wounds until they become considerable tribulations, as was the case here. Essentially, I appear to have Wolverine type healing abilities, but my immune system these days seem to be as fortified as Supermans when he’s inadvertently been tricked into wearing Kryptonite Speedos.*
*[And you really should try them- they’re surprisingly comfy, the radiation keeps your nether region warm and cozy, and the best part? They glow in the dark.]

But even given all that bad news, Dr. Carreon was still holding on to his optimism about saving my pinky toe at the time. He wasn’t going to give up, and the course of antibiotics seemed to be working overtime to bring down both my fever and sweep the legs out from under my necrotic infection, so it seemed I was heading in the right direction… or so he and I hoped.

I’d like to go off tangent here for a moment, for as I noted earlier: “This place not only has the best care I’ve ever received, but the best support staff, the best surgeon(s), and the best damn nursing team I’ve ever had the pleasure of interacting with in regards to what has been one of the most horrible and wholly terrifying situations I’ve ever found myself in, minus my near-death experience, back in 2009.”

What I failed to address in regards to my glowing review was this-what separated this particular experience from my earlier medical misadventures was the humanity expressed in relation to my individual care. Not once did anyone forget, even for the briefest of moments, that there was an actual person on the other end of the diagnosis, and this definitely applies to Dr. Carreon.  
 
Right to the point, definitely straight-shooting, and always firm, I never at any time felt the need to question his skills, his perception, or his resolve. In fact, when he had to deliver the unwanted, yet necessary information that saving my toe was indeed impossible, I felt the metaphorical weight he was carrying. I would opine that’s not just the hallmark of a truly great doctor, but in the end, an even better human being.

Regrettably, the outcome of the first surgery led to my being hospitalized for a total of eleven days, which to be accurate, was not even remotely part  of the original plan. To note, twice I was informed that I might be able to go home the day after a procedure, only to have those hopes dashed against the rocks as each subsequent surgery revealed that the necrotic infection was hanging on to my toe and more disturbingly- my bone, like a spurned ex.

In order to correctly express my feelings regarding this analogy at those particular moments, I shall qoute another eminent Wayne, that being the one and only Wayne Campbell of Wayne’s World fame: “I lost you two months ago. We broke up. Are you mental? Get the net!” Grimly, I had finally reached the point where I was going through surgery number three, hoping against hope and praying that this time, I’d have truly good news to wake up to.
[ See yet again: “Idiotic assumptions.” Subheading: “Things morons pray for.” ]

Sadly, that was not the case to be. Dammit. I just knew being a recovering Catholic was going to bite me in the ass someday. Yet another side note for which I am terribly sorry- as a lapsed, but documented anyway by the nursing staff as a member of the “my holy trinity beats your singular God” club, it’s not uncommon to be visited by various clergypersons while vacationing unwillingly in the hospital. Most of the time, these interactions are fairly pleasant- somebody full of grace and goodwill comes into your room, gives you a free spiritual tune-up if so desired, and on the way out, generally puts in a good word with their main deity seeking your speedy recovery.

All things considered, not a bad return on your non-investment, if I say so myself.

And as far as life’s circumstances went, my experience was no different- I was visited in the style of Charles Dickens, by three such holy folk. The first, a very nice lady who was also a Protestant but didn’t carry the grudge against us pen-pals of the Pope, was super agreeable, very uplifting, and when the moment came to alert her deity as to my cause, laid her rap down like a mother-freaking boss. I’ve been to African-American churches in the South that while passionate as heck, didn’t rock the testifying half as hard. I’m of the mindset that this woman has God on speed-dial, and I’m pretty sure he doesn’t swipe to the right when she calls.

He wouldn’t dare, methinks.

The third spiritual visitor to visit me (I’ll address number two in a moment) as I engaged in a split second of inner reflection, was a Lutheran, who was, and I say this honestly, cool as f**k. I would totally party with this guy, and that could ultimately happen, because Lutherans are what Catholics could be if they’d just lighten the hell up. My GF Ashley has commented more than once that in the bitter end, I’m really a closeted Lutheran who happens to possess better Icon statues, and she may just be right, if I were to give it serious pause.

As I said, he was cool as f**k- we talked about motorcycles, motorcycle crashes, and about his four kids, one of which was central to the discussion of both bikes and unforeseen accidents, and it was, as I said, a totally cool moment. No prayer at the end though, because Lutherans as a rule, aren’t super pushy, but he did wish me a speedy recovery, which I still appreciated. Mainly because at this point, I can’t switch teams- I have a ton of the merchandise and most of the collectibles.

I’m still missing the Judas Iscariot coin collection, but I’m pretty sure I can get that online for around 30 Shekels of Tyre, if I play my prayer cards right. And with that, we come to spiritual visitor number two…

Oh boy, do we ever.

By and large, I don’t consider myself a sincerely religious or even somewhat of a pious individual, despite one of my close friends noting that in their opinion, I was more of a Christian than I liked to let on. I’ll let that observation rest there for a moment, because anybody who knew me well in my pre-forties would witness without hesitation that I was no more a pure representative of Christian values, than I was of the Mariinsky Ballet.*
*[The Mariinsky Ballet is the resident classical ballet company of the Mariinsky Theatre in Saint Petersburg, Russia. Founded in the 18th century and originally known as the Imperial Russian Ballet, the Mariinsky Ballet is one of the world’s leading ballet companies.]

Granted, I wasn’t a horrible person, I didn’t do drugs, or drink, or smoke, or treat women with disrespect, but my apartment at one point did hold the moniker of “Wayne’s Home for Wayward Strippers”, so take that as you will, with as much salt as you like.  When it gets right down to it, I’m fairly agnostic, except in times of extreme duress- then I tend to fall back on my extensive collection of crucifixes and rosaries, along with an almost endless array of Hail Marys:

“Hail Mary, full of grace. Our Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.”

Factor in that to this day my best friend of close to twenty years still refers to my morality meter as “Gumby” and you can see what a prior reputation can do to your current one. Does God exist? I honestly don’t know what I believe at this point in my life- I do however, loathe having any form of religious fervor directed towards me, and I react even worse when I observe people using their faith as a sword to hurt or deny others their inherent humanity. I despise hypocrisy under any appearance, and when people attempt to use the Bible as justification or rationalization for their biases or hatred, I characteristically will introduce a new and painful way of acquiring fiber into their lives, by jamming the good book down their throat.

 And here’s where we meet the number two advisor- an older gentleman, representing as he put it, an “independent” church that split from the Baptist body politic, IE: a church that interprets the Word in a way the main church doesn’t agree with. To say the interaction was awkward would be underselling it by miles. I was condescended to, informed what a true Christian was, the undertone being that Catholics barely made the cut, and when the obligatory deity beseeching was enacted, the suggestion that I needed to find my “way back to God” was slipped in at the end, because there’s nothing I enjoy more than to be lectured about my level of faith, or the lack thereof, by an arrogant, self-centered SOB who seemingly took offense at the fact I support LGBTQ rights, and think Trump is an unqualified ass.

How aggravated was I? Let’s just say that if I truly had two good feet at that moment, at least one of them would have been jammed up his ass, and the other would be kicking some humility back into him. I’m not a violent man by any means, but give me a NERF bat, and I would have made the magic happen at that particular point in time.

Gah. Nothing so vexing than someone who pimps Jesus like as if he were soap.

That annoyance having been addressed, let’s get back to the post-op meeting with my surgeon. When I woke up after this, my third surgical procedure, the news was sadly grim- Dr. Carreon looked as if his soul had been crushed, and it was exceedingly obvious that he thought he had failed me. [good news doc- you didn’t] The toe definitely had to go, and there was (pardon the bad pun) no bones about it. As you can imagine, this was not what I wanted to hear, but it also wasn’t like I hadn’t been prepped for it, to be quite honest.

So, after talking to the doc, and later on Ashley, we wind up scheduling the separation of my metaphorical Tito Jackson from the rest of the Jackson 5. The surgery went off like a fine Swiss watch, and just as before, there were no major complications in regards to the anesthesia. Mentally, I was alternating between being zen-centered to suffering minor freak-outs, but overall, I was adulting like a badass. The day after the procedure, I was finally discharged, and able to go home, where I was then and now, semi-confined to my bed for the duration of the healing process.

And since I am currently flat on my back, this seems like an excellent place to take a break, And when we come back…

I get to see what my foot looks like, contemplate what story I’ll tell as to how I did lose my toe in the future, and discover that using a walker is far more complicated than one might think. You know… riveting stuff.

“You go in through the front door of the hospital and depending on how successful your treatment is, it determines whether you leave through the front door or in a box out of the back door.” – Steven Magee

 

 

 

 

 


Hi-Yo Silver Away! Pt. 1 (A Toe of Two Cities)

“A world made of skulls was no place for roses, and it was time to plant more than bones.” – Linda L. Zern, Following the Strandline

Hello Blogiteers!

What a difference a few weeks makes, does it not?

When last we met, Ashley and I had just left Phoenix for the literally greener pastures of Silver City, New Mexico. As fas as small towns go, it’s breathtaking- beautiful scenery, nice people, clean water, and air that unlike the city we just left, is actually invisible to the naked eye. Add in a vibrant arts community, replete with a gaggle of writers and talented musicians, alongside a surprisingly strong food scene, and you’ve got yourself a rather idyllic place to live, overall.

But despite all the upfront bucolic loveliness, there ran an undercurrent of unforeseen darkness, much like when you take a bite of what you think is a carne asada burrito, but instead turns out to be one that’s vegan-friendly.

(shaking) I get chills just thinking about it.

First, there was what should have been the non-issue of renting a house. To that end, we made the five hour drive from Phoenix to Silver City, choosing a local management company established in 1964, operating under the moniker of Smith Real Estate, to serve as our guides for our quest. Some advice gained in hindsight: if you’re ever given a choice between having to do business with this company or being forced to watch a remake of Showgirls with Steven Segal playing the titular character of Nomi Malone, I’d say go with the monolithic slab of acting who eventually dry-humps Kyle MacLachlan’s lap- at least that way, the pain you’ll experience was intentional.

To say our experience was substandard at best, would be akin to implying that in August of 1945, the residents of Hiroshima suffered a mild case of widespread sunburn. Our walk down the path of truly professional incompetence started with our agent to be telling us that he had four houses for us to look at, a rather good number for us to muddle through, or so we thought… at first. The agent who at best, had the disposition of a narcoleptic Vogon suffering a past weekend of chasing down pitchers of Pan Galactic Gargle Blasters, actually wound up showing us only three, feebly claiming the fourth was “being painted”, which as we found out later, was not entirely true, but more regarding that in a bit.

The first house could be charitably described as “cozy”, and would have been perfect, if we had wanted an abode that could double as both a t-shirt and a birdhouse, so we passed almost immediately. House number three (yes, I know I skipped number two) was a confused jumble of rooms, with a so-called kitchen that was bizarrely split in twain, with each section separated by several feet. Not too surprisingly, we passed on that one as well, as for some strange reason, we prefer to cook without having to run a marathon at the same time. So, while this confused warren didn’t make the cut, house number two, well…

It was almost perfect.

Big bedrooms. Good kitchen. A garage. Cool workshop. And an utterly awesome solarium that had the potential to be a totally kickass studio space. Sure, the backyard was a dirt morass with a strangely painted lightpole placed squarely and oddly in the middle of it, but that was just a minor quibble overall. And while the interior carpet was stained, buckling in spots, and tinted a delightful shade of horse-puckey brown, causing the agent to state after I mentioned the issues, that they wouldn’t replace or fix it, that didn’t necessarily mean the deal had to be scotched, now did it?

Of course not. After all, it was a rental, not a purchase. And we could always hide that three foot by three foot crime-scene outline with a carefully sited coffee table. See? Once asked for, a solution usually presents itself, all praise to the Goddess Debbie Harry. After deciding this was the house for us, we headed back to the realty office, filled out the minor financial paperwork, cut a deposit check, and headed back to Phoenix, secure in the knowledge we had adulted like bosses. Once home, we made plans to empty out our storage units, load up a U-Haul, and by doing so, hopefully reduce the size if not the stress, of the “big” move- a simple plan, no?

Apparently not.

Two weeks later, and two days before I was supposed to drive said fully loaded truck down to come and take possession of our new domicile, Ashley discovered that not only was the agent attempting to rent us the wrong house, but that he had also already rented out the one we had raved about for close to half an hour in his office. Now you would think after such a display of interest, he would have remembered which house it was, but as it turns out, he apparently never noted that particular detail down, and instead, tried to blame Ashley for, and I quote: “giving the wrong address”.

Yes… because the people who have no idea where anything is yet in our soon to be new city are the ones at fault for his not writing the pertinent information down, am I correct?

When Ashley tells him that it was his responsibility, not ours to know which house he was accountable for renting, he attempts to rectify his mistake by offering up the house we had not seen, apologizing that it wasn’t available for viewing at the time due to the fact it was “still being painted”. When Ashley informs him that was his excuse from two weeks ago, there is a considerable pause before he responds again- at this point, she informs him that she wants our deposit back, and that we will collect it in person.

When we do, it turns out that not only have they not cashed the check which they’ve had for almost two weeks, the agent didn’t even bother to tell his associates that we were coming to retrieve it in the first place. I’m starting to think that attention to detail is not this guy’s niche- it’s subtle, but it’s there. Even better is the fact that they were genuinely shocked that we didn’t want to do any further business with them in the future.

Weird, that.

Enter realtor number two, also known as Enchantment Realty, whom when Ashley calls them and explains the situation, are horrified, and immediately schedule a showing for the upcoming Friday, and since our credit had already been pre-approved by Smith, we got bumped to the top of the list, which in the end, proved to be a godsend. The house we were shown was not only in the same neighborhood, it was on the same street as the house we originally wanted, and was actually nicer with a better view- hardwood laminate floors, one car garage, newer kitchen with gas stove, washer and dryer, huge master bath and walk-in closet. and also a storage shed and workshop.

Throw in an awesome back patio, the addition of a new roof, a good sized dining room, and the fact that for the first time in 12 years that I have a dedicated studio space, and you can see why we’re thrilled with this company thus far.

So after we close the deal with Enchantment, we head back to our hotel, and through an odd twist of coincidence, the clerk relays a story about their own experience with Smith, which was even worse than ours. Turns out when they moved into their residence, all of the light fixtures and kitchen cabinets had been ripped out by the previous tenant, and Smith had allegedly neither replaced them, nor informed their incoming tenant about the damage. To add further insult to shoddy vandalism, they purportedly refused to do any repairs, and instead informed their client that they could replace them and take that amount off their rent in its place. If this story and others that I’ve heard since coming here are allegedly true, it does beg the question- how in the flippity frak do these guys stay in business?

Naturally, I was curious. And when I get curious, I break out my claws and go looking for information to eviscerate until I get some answers that make sense. Sometimes I achieve this by talking to people, other times I dive into books and other ephemera, or in this case, I just shook the internet until I found what I was seeking. And boy, am I glad we didn’t get in bed with these people, because judging by some of these Google reviews, if we had. we’d probably wake up the next morning in a cheap motel bathtub, covered in ice, and missing a kidney.

Out of a total of a five star rating system, Smith Real Estate averages 2.8… yeeouch. Here are some of the alleged highlights, from my first cull of the Interweb:

Client Briana Romo: I wish I would of read the reviews before buying a home with them as our Realtor. Becky Smith was very unprofessional and rude. I can’t believe she runs a business! I wish I could give negative stars. Instead of assisting with the process of buying a house, she made the whole process ten times harder. I wouldn’t recommend Smith Real Estate to anyone!”

Client  Ryan G. : “Absolutely THE worst company to work with. The employees are extremely rude, not helpful and only in this market for their commission. I am not sure how a company like this can stay in business! DO NOT BUY OR RENT FROM THESE PEOPLE! I have heard horror stories from people but did not believe them until I experienced it for myself. If you are like me and a skeptic of other peoples reviews, it will only take about 15 min of talking to these people to see their true colors. Buyer BEWARE!

Client Jessica Madrid: after complaining about sewer smell coming from washer pipe that would stink up the whole house when washing I emailed Darla . She completely ignored my email claiming it would go to spam folder although we never had that issue before. I emailed with another complaint about pellet stove not working, she set up plumber( that never showed up!) and wanted to let owner of home in while we where out of town, I was not comfortable with that and she threw the lease in my face saying owner needed to be with his family for the holidays thus forceing us to let him in so I decided to stay home and loose out time with MY family since his time was more important.

After asking her to let me know what time she never answered! It’s going on 3 weeks that she knew about sewer smell and now Darla is no longer answering her emails BUT will email us and talk to us like we are delinquents for the owner getting an electric bill that was p&m mistake if owner would have taken 2 minutes to call he would have know it was his own fault for not calling P&M after getting permits. Not to mention we could not move in for almost a month because new meter was being put in ( we had to do walk through in the dark!!!) when asked for a reimbursement Darla suggested we not do that since owner did us a favor but that is a lie she did the favor of giving us keys to move things in before lease signed not owner.

I definitely feel like Darla takes care of the owners needs more then us the paying clients, to prove my point she was more concerned about getting payment for a horse we have then fixing a mouse and plumbing problem and make excuses that owner is hard to get ahold of so she can’t go forward but she won’t answer her emails not even to say she’s working on it! It took an angry email from husband to get her to answer. Maybe she is friends with owner but I could give a rats a** you DO NOT only treat one party like they are more important!! We have only been here for a month and already have problems and are BEING IGNORED and I ALREADY want to move!!! ( I stopped unpacking) This company sucks!!! If you like or want headaches go ahead and ask for Darla and rent from this ridiculous company.”

Client Sarah Sheen: “Ouch, I wish I had seen these terrible reviews before paying a $36 rental application fee to Smith Real Estate. These people are total cheapskates, and Cindy is downright nasty. I have an amazing credit score and asked them to simply *ask* the landlord about pulling out a gross carpet covering part of the wood floor in the unit (I have allergies). They acted like there was no way of contacting the landlords EVER.

They also sneakily tried to hike up the price of the rental between the time I applied and the time they approved my application. If the rental company is already acting intimidating, dishonest and passive-agressive after only receiving $36 from me, there is no way I will ever give them more money. My advice? Check the Silver City Daily Press for rental listings instead! Dodged a bullet with Smith Real Estate for sure!!”

Client Grand Momma: I have lived here in Silver City all my life and have been using Smith to sell my home. My husband is very ill and we needed the money and a smaller home that works well with his medical needs. However, our home has been sitting on the market for over 4 years! I feel Becky did not put forth ALL her effort to try and sell my home.

Recently, our home was finally purchased, but Becky never told me when I have to move out. She is soooo hard to get a hold of and I had to find out when I had to move from a DIFFERENT realtor who does not even work for Smith! I found out a week before I had to move out, and STILL have not been contacted by Becky. I really wish I would have used someone else, like the wagon wheel place or caldwell. Have you ever tried packing up things you accumulated over 15 years within a week?!?! Me either… until now 🙁 Avoid Becky at all costs.”

Client John Flores: “If there was a rating lower than listed; I would give it. This company is bordering on illegal practices. I had a lease agreement contract with them for 1 year and then no further lease signed. I had a problem with my bank while on vacation for 3 weeks; because of heavier than normal use the bank would periodically lock my account.

Unfortunately this happened when the check for my rent was sent to the bank. I had the bank explain their error but Smith refused to accept further checks from me and demands cashier checks or money orders for rental payment…indefinitely. My lease agreement with Smith has expired and at the time of this incident the lease was not in effect; how can they continue this policy legally?”

How indeed? And these claims seem to be the standard, not the aberration, depending on which local you talk to. And here I was, thinking that because of how nice this town and it’s residents are, I’d have nothing to write about- I guess the Lord does provide. And by the Lord, I mean Bob Ross, who would have loved it here… seriously. There’s happy trees everywhere, along with a ton of overly optimistic shrubs.

The grass, however? Totally a full-on dick.

Getting back on track, I decided to also check out their rating with the Silver City BBB, and discovered that despite having a file open since 12/2005, they have no rating whatsoever, which in and of itself isnt that strange, as lots of businesses aren’t affiliated with their local BBB, but considering how long they’ve been established, it does seem odd that they wouldn’t be, since being a member with a good rating is considered a plus where one’s marketing reach is concerned- it’s essentially a win-win that pays off in dividends, if you promote it correctly.

Keep in mind, I’ve been speaking to the locals since we’ve moved here, and i have yet to find anyone with something nice to say about this company, and yet there are glowing testimonials all over the Smith website preaching to the contrary, even though the notated complaints above definitively burst that bubble of manufactured sunshine to it’s core. Sure, one could reasonably argue that a broken clock gets it right twice a day, but I do not think that for even one moment that’s the reality of the case here. I sense it’s an issue of quantity versus public reputation, if I were to be so blunt.

Using ourselves as a litmus test, I’d theorize that most who deal with this company have no idea what they’re in for until it’s too late, finding themselves trapped within a binding legal agreement. Sort of like a smarmy Venus Fly-trap, except when the leaves close, this one eats you with a contract. In our case, we lost roughly a hundred bucks in fees dealing with this consortium of alleged charlatans, but in retrospect, that’s a pittance for dodging the hail of bullets we could have faced if we had dared to interact with this rumored den of thieves.

Fortunately, when it came to finding our eventual lodgings, all’s well that ends well, am I right? Of course I am. In fact, I’m not even going to bring up the other little slice of Hell that we went through regarding the physicality of moving here. After all, I’ve got better things to do, I’m sure. I mean, there’s dishes to be done, laundry to fold, and I really need to organize my sock drawer like nobody’s business. Not to mention I’m also recovering from amputation surgery, which quite possibly, is a much more interesting story than whatever squabble I could possibly have with the troop of heavy-handed capuchins that moved us here.

Damn. It appears the dishes are done, the laundry’s been put away, and since I’m just laying here looking at the remaining 90% of my foot, the very idea of thinking about socks on any level, just makes me really angry. I could always watch Deadpool 2 again… it’s truly surprisingly touching, completely funny, and violent as Hell, which is always a plus, when one may be bedridden for the next few weeks.

What to do, what to do… I’d hang some art in the house, but I can’t really walk right now, and since I have to use a walker to begin with, it’s not like my hands are free anyway. I could always start that Great American Novel I’ve benn thinking about for years, or I could… oh, f**k it- the move here was a freaking nightmare.

The company we used (their name sounds like Two Hens and a Duck) was professional, the crew was nice, but listening wasn’t their forte, and neither was reading, given all of the clearly marked “Heavy-Books” boxes that were stacked on top of clearly marked ones that said “Fragile- do not stack”. Granted, they did have a rough gig ahead of them- we lived on the third floor, we started around 9a.m., it was the end of July (in Phoenix) and we also had two storage units to empty out as well, as I noted earlier.

Did I also mention that everything had to be marked individually as well for their records?

Every. Freaking. Thing.

I may have also forgot to mention that my storage unit alone had close to 200 pieces of art,,, sorry, that should have been a detail to tell the movers, methinks. They wrapped up packing the apartment around 7:00p.m., and under Ashley’s direction started on the storage units right across the street. At this point, I had to leave for Silver City to make sure we’d have the keys for the house the next day, so arriving at 2a.m. in the morning, and after hitting one terrifying dust storm outside Tucson, and two mild rain storms coming in to Silver City. I checked into my hotel and after three attempts trying to get into my hotel room due to a malfunctioning door lock, I grabbed a quick shower, and hit the sack for a few hours.

After waking up, I grabbed a few mini-doughnuts as an ersatz breakfast, bolstered my exhaustion with a frosty Coke, and headed over to the rental office who could have not been nicer, grabbed the keys, and went to go check out our new house, which as I noted earlier, is awesome.

The movers who were supposed to arrive at 11a.m., instead show up at 2p.m. with two 27 foot trucks, loaded to the brim. However, the unloading of the trucks revealed that they had unfortunately damaged some furniture, shattered two pieces of art, and in a complete and totally inept turn of malfeasance, left behind my favorite piece of art in our old apartment back in Phoenix, which I didn’t notice for four days, due to the maddening way they off-loaded our rather voluminous collection.

I’ve seen better stacking at a Jenga Tournament after party, and that’s when everybody’s in the midst of drunken-ass block-grabbing, let me tell you.

So after a massive freak-out on my part, the geniuses ship it here in a manner which could be best described as “are you fucking kiddng me, you goddamn morons?!?”. It arrives in a taped-together assemblage of boxes with the glass shattered, the frame cracked, and the mat and art sliced up ten ways to Sunday. And even better? The delivery guys drop it off, knock on my door once, and before I could get there to open the door, take off for the hills.

The “box” literally “crunched” when I picked it up, and when it was opened, rained glass like some sort of hellish Hieronymus Bosch waterfall. So now, we have to deal with that as well, which as you can imagine, is going slower than my surgical recovery. Speaking of which, it will be addressed in the next blog, since it is so involved and something I still need to wrap my head around, but it has been a massive impediment in regards to the setting up of the house. We have a garage full of art, boxes everywhere, and a range of minor to major messes within the common areas of our domicile.

Argggg… But even given the unfortunate annoyances of my life right now, I really can’t complain. As Ashley stated the other day as we were coming back from my post-op clinic appointment:

“Sometimes when I’m driving home, I get really distracted by how pretty it is.”

And that’s the truth- it really is quite the change from Phoenix. The landscape is gorgeous, the people are nice, and the only jerks I’ve met thus far have been tourists, or happen to be employees of Smith Real Estate- sorry, that was a cheap shot, but I couldn’t resist throwing it out there. Obviously, my attitude will change as the newness of this place wears off, but for now, I’m going to enjoy the opportunity to just breathe the clean air and take in the stars from my back patio. Eventually, when I’m back to being on my one and three-quarters feet, we’ll see what happens when a small, yet obviously focused art scene meets a very hungry, yet equally passionately determined Artbitch.

I’m sure it will go well, how could it not? After all, is there anybody else who’s as well known at making friends within an art scene as me? I for one, cannot possibly think of anyone else who is, but then again, I’m really not getting out much these days. But I’m fairly confident that I’m right.

You know… like always.

Well, I need to go grab a bite, so methinks this is perhaps the best place to take a pause. And when I come back… I open up about the amputation of my metaphorical Tito Jackson, ponder why hospitals always seem to have the best pudding, rave about the amazeballs staff at Gila River Medical Center in lovely Silver City, New Mexico, decry catheters yet again, and discuss what it  feels like to be a zombies chew toy.

“Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.” – Rumi

“You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.” – Buckminster Fuller

 

 

 


Gentrification prefers Blands Pt. 6 (All the Pieces)

“The corruption of the best things gives rise to the worst.” – David Hume

“Sometimes corruption is slowed by shedding light into what was previously shadowed.”– Paul Wolfowitz

Hello Blogiteers!

I have been one busy little Artbitch as of late- despite being under the ticking time-bomb of unemployment, walking through the sticky morass of both a workman’s comp and employer discrimination complaint, and getting closer to finding out who my cyber-stalker is, it seems I’m almost always running out of time, no matter how well scheduled it may be. Add in the fact I’m battling some major diabetic-related weight loss, that required the fitting of a CGM* sensor, along with the occasional flare-ups of my Diabetic side-effects, and you’ve got yourself a bag full of fun.
*[Continuous Glucose Monitor]

Specifically, the kind of bag you try to pass on to someone else. Speaking of passing the bag, it seems my last screed twerked a few nerves. For that, I’d like to apologize…. but I won’t. It’s a rather well-known fact I’d rather be right than liked, and when it comes to the subject of Artlink, it’s disturbingly easy to be both. Takes hardly any effort at all, to be quite candid, and therein lies the rub- while I hear CONSTANT griping from the bottom to the top in regards to their idiocy, I see very little push-back against the same, save for a few, and you already know who you are.

Now, you could take the tack that as an individual, there’s very little that one can do against a non-elected entity that has seemingly grabbed full control of the PAS steering wheel, but you’d be wrong. Dead wrong. I didn’t grant them permission to run this scene as incompetently as they do, and I see no reason why we can’t do better than we currently are. And yes, while my overview may present as simplistic, I also see no reason why it isn’t moreover in tandem, justly valid.

If a hinge creaks, you oil it. If a structural timber is rotting, you replace it. If a small-handed ass-clown cheats on his wives, spews racism, and raw-dogs a porn star, you elect it president. Ok… that last one was a horrendous example, but you get the grist of my outlook. In the case of our more-interested-in-dancing-with-the-mayor-than-being-an-effective Arts Advocacy group, it’s high-time for full-on replacement, since outright attrition has failed to do the job that’s obviously needed.

It’s time to stop making excuses, roll up our sleeves, and get to actually doing the work that’s required, rather than throwing pricy self-congratulating parties celebrating the stunning mediocrity of our scene. I’m pretty sure if you measured the arms of Artlink’s current pecking order, you’d find that one of them is considerably longer than the other, due to their relentlessly patting themselves on the back for the most middling of art-related accomplishments.

Sure, I like to don black-tie as much as the next average working Joe Six-pack, but if I’m going to waste all that makeup and Bondo to look presentable in public among my peers, it’ll be to fete an actual series of deeds, not just noting our ability to break-even (or less) at the end of the year. Bringing up yet another point of concern, exactly how much money is wasted on this circle-jerk that we get to pay for twice via taxes and tickets? If I’m part of the scene, why should I have to pay for admittance to an event that supposedly celebrates the “success” I’m part of?

In addition, enough with the “we’re great” / “you’re great” speeches at this thing- if the majority of us are working three jobs to survive, rather than the one we want and should have, you don’t get to masturbate your useless ego and friendship with the former mayor in front of a captive audience.

And what pray tell, is the upshot of this artsy glitter-f**k at the conclusion of the day- has any progress been made in our marketing and outreach? Has a truly profitable working relationship with our local media been established? Have our careers been affected for the positive, have our artists been promoted past the already-knowing choir, has anything USEFUL ever come out of this self-indulgent and pointless twaddle-fest?

I’d say to the point of heated argument that the answer is a hearty “Oh, Hell, no“, followed up by an even more profane exclamation of “definitely f*****g not“. But hey, at least the leader of our faux art-brigade gets to Rumba with the PR-seeking politico, and that’s what apparently passes for advocacy these days.

Delightfully, I can say that when it comes to this particular Ego-Circus within the PAS, it’s no longer going to be my burden to herd the monkeys- I’m so burnt out writing about this particular topic that I’ve decided that this (with any luck) will be the last time I call note to this Ponzi scheme of an organization. Looking forward, it’s probably much better to focus my cynicism on building a new structure that has room to expand past Phoenix rather than pray that the currently obsolete model can carry on being jerry-rigged past the point of imminent failure.

In regards to my vision, the advocacy concern I’d like to see not only operates like a fine Swiss watch on it’s worst days, it utterly crushes all obstacles that it encounters as well. I’ve laid out the framework in previous scrawlings, so I’ll decline to rehash it here, but even the most open-minded devils advocate would grudgingly agree with me that the current incarnation should be put down much in the manner of Old Yeller, albeit with metaphorical shotguns, of course. I neither have the time, the quicklime or the correct-sized wood chipper and or chainsaws necessary to dispatch this localized enemy of the Creative class, but that doesn’t mean I won’t go over/through/around them to get what I want.

Even if we somehow managed to fix the machine, It would still carry the rancid stench of it’s numerous alleged Machiavellian double-crossings everywhere it presented itself, and that’s a problem too big to eviscerate within a logical time-frame. In my humble POV, it’s a much stronger concept to start anew, and show up in a pimped-out ride that would make Ice-T himself cry tears of pure joy. Think of Black Dynamites sweet Cadillac, but with 26′ tires instead of the staid 17’s, and an absolutely thumping sound system.

Oh, Hells to the mother-f***ing yeah.

Imagine an advocacy group that unlike Artlink, would strive to get it right every time, and to the benefit of our Creatives. Wouldn’t that be a purely delightful change from the sandpaper sandwich we’re being offered now? I’d say yes, but to be fair, my POV might be biased, due to my penchant for seeing things realistically and all. What can I say? I’m just a simple mercenary capitalist who thinks that earning an actual living wage while practicing your craft is pretty goddamn spectacular.

The last time we were together, I outlined what (in my humble pov) constituted a truly effective arts advocacy, as well as suggesting what tools were desperately needed in order to be a non-stop artsy juggernaut. While those suggestions were received warmly, I still found myself tripping over the occasionally indiscriminate human speed-bump regarding as to why nobody is willing to get off their ass and put their necks on the figurative chopping block. If the excuses and rationalizations that I receive in relation to the discussion of this issue were currency, I’d all be swimming in a sea of cash and Bitcoin so deep that the Marianas Trench would present as a mere pothole at best.

Cash however, is key in almost all things, and the way Artlink spends theirs has always made me scratch my cynicism in puzzlement. I’m a big believer in getting the best bang for your buck, whether that’s in relation to buying food or yet another book chronicling the behind-the-scenes details of making the Nightmare Before Christmas. Trust me- you can never have too many bound tomes about Jack Skellington, no matter what your girlfriend Ashley tells you… repeatedly. I’m apt to research obsessively before I buy most things, and while I do know not everybody else has the same OCD approach to life that I do, I’d tend to think that when it comes to non-profits, they, out of all the organizations on Earth, would be consistently downright draconian in regards to how they squeeze blood from a stone.

So in Artlink’s case, how do they pretend to make it rain? Well… “ineffectively” would be my first modifier, but I’d be equally comfortable using the mildly derisive, if not accurate, idiom “convulsive scatter-shotting” to depict their approach as well. Throwing mud at a wall to see what sticks may not be the most singularly shining example of what Artlink does best, but they surely do it better than any other non-profit I’ve ever seen.

Let’s say I gave you ten grand to be used towards the promotion of the PAS… how would you spend it? Would you spend it on “prizes” for a lame as f**k art show that only benefited three people and provided free PR for a company that doesn’t give a rat’s ass about our community, or would you get the best bang for your buck by spreading those greenbacks around the proverbial forest?

See, that’s what I think too- I’m a big proponent of return for investment, and I’ve never been one who ascribes to the theory of blowing your wad on a singular roll of the dice, no matter how good the odds may look on paper. And as a rule of thumb, it’s also a truly horrendous idea to get me started about the concept of so-called mentorship in relation to the PAS- seriously, we’d be here for days if I started rolling on the dearth of it within this community.

But if I were to say something… I’d probably point out that in order to be an effective mentor, you need to be available a majority of the time, and let’s face it, that’s just not realistic for a majority of my fellow Creatives, due to time and financial constraints, the impact of which is far more devastating than most people realize. Mentors are in my opinion, the metaphorical equivalent of pool floaties- they keep you above the surface, let you focus on what’s going on around you, and the end result is that you’ll end up looking equally stylish and prepared, if you’ve chosen them properly.

And while Artlink did manage to launch their version of a mentorship program, it seems to have had as much financial and cultural impact on the PAS as their failed venture with Baron Development did. As I said before, the act of overly optimistic mud throwing may not be an attribute that Artlink solely possesses, but they do it way better and more consistently than anyone else I know. However for me at least, there is a ray of sunshine at the end of this asinine art tunnel, and as I noted earlier- if all goes according to plan, this will be the LAST piece I write about Catrina and her self-aggrandizing artsy Golem.

In all seriousness, I’m done with this facet, as I’ve put pen to pixel with no definable end in regards to the issues within this scene, and get tons of praise, but see little to no action in fixing said issues, so I think it’s high time I finally turn my back on those who bitch, but sit on their hands, waiting for some white knight to come along and do their required heavy lifting.

One of the driving forces behind my decision to disengage is because my GF wound up getting a job in New Mexico, and we’re gearing up to leave this shell of what used to be a scene with potential, but strikes now more as a shadow of what could have been. I don’t know what form the blog is going to take in the future, but I do know that I’m sick and tired of the inherent hypocrisy contained within this scene, and I’m way past the point of caring any longer in regards to smiting the hobbyist amateurs we’re infested with.

OK… rant somewhat finished, but I still have a story-arc to wrap up while I’m sill here, so let’s get back to Artlinks’ money, and the fumbling of it.

As noted in my last screed, the most recent financial listings I could find were for 2015, and they broke down as such: $34k went to professional fees and independent contractors, $13,419.00 for office rent, $8986.00 went to printing, publication, posting and shipping, and $10,394.00 was tabbed for “other expenses”, which probably most likely encompasses petty cash, various sundries, and the like.

To sum up, their total revenue (in 2015) was $59,092.00, with net expenses of $66,799.00, leading to a net loss of $7707.00, which really doesn’t impress one as to the theory that Artlink possesses a solid grasp on the most rudimentary aspects of monetary dispersal, in my humble POV. In further dissection of these numbers, we can see the deus ex machina regarding the currency stream, but given my penchant for having a cynical eye, you’ll have to forgive my pessimism as to the overall impact of that diffusion of crucial assets.

An insight, if not a complete spoiler: I’m of the mind that like most of Artlink’s feeble efforts, it allegedly had as much effect on the financial base of the PAS as I do on the Russian black-market crafting of faux Matryoshka*.
*[A matryoshka doll also known as a Russian nesting doll, is a set of wooden dolls of decreasing size placed one inside another. You’re welcome.]

The specific financial breakdown lists as this:

– $27, 623.00 for public events, such as the impotent circle-jerks also known as Art Detour/Art D’Core, the Juried Exhibition, and First Friday. And in addendum, according to Artlink’s 990-EZ filing, this served 200 Artists and 75K members of the general public.
(More on this in a bit.)

– $7,176.00 was allocated to the trolleys, of which I’ve noted in earlier writings as having an alleged track record of being rather uneven in their service towards some of Artlinks members who happen to fall outside of the somewhat selective core of the PAS. The Icehouse, by way of example, for instance. But yet, Bentley Gallery always seemed to be on the route, despite being in the middle of a demilitarized zone more akin to Mars. Their being on the board had nothing to to do with that, I’m sure- it reminds one of when they’ve found a religion or god who’s biases/intolerance magically mirrors their own… just one of those amazing coincidences that occur so frequently in life, I guess.

– $32K was for “Reinvention Phoenix” which is actually something I think was a good idea at the time, as it involved the implementation of four murals at public schools, way-finding at 3 light-rail stations, and the development of PhoenixUrbanGuide.com, which is currently still online, and provides info on Phoenix’s downtown arts and entertainment culture.

See? I can acknowledge when the broken clock strikes right, however it’s not like I have to do it consistently though, sad to say. But even given that positivity, how does this help us in the long run as an arts community, and more importantly, as a financial entity? Don’t get me wrong, I dig dressing up all artsy and showing off my labors as much as the next Creative, but I’ll be damned if it’s expected for me to do so for little to no recompense.

As I’ve noted oft before, I’m a mercenary capitalist motherf***er, and I expect to get paid.

And if we’re being brutally honest, a lot of us are seemingly just a conveniently accessible time-killer for unappreciative vulgararians, who at their best, could be easily mistaken for barely sentient tater tots. And I say this as an art scene veteran, which should not be confused with my outgoing status as the art scenes resident curmudgeon. Given Artlink’s penchant for vacuous bragging in regards to it’s so-called accomplishments that span the gamut from imaginary to minor, one might be under the impression that our scene was firing on all cylinders, but the truth as I’ve noted, [for years, sadly] is even more f**ked up than Artlink’s traditionally disingenuous take on it’s own false narrative.

For instance, let’s look at their claim of serving 200 Artists and 75K members of the general public. I wasn’t aware a two night a month art scene could actually post those kinds of numbers, given the fact that most of our so-called “patrons” come down for free wine, and random cheap amusements, all while generally failing to buy enough art to justify the expense of being consistently open for First Friday at all, but c’est la vie.

Factor in the reality that downtown has now become a haven for insufferable hipster trash, that the once gritty realism of Roosevelt Row has been sadly homogenized into an unpalatable vanilla wafer, and is surrounded by a bloat of ugly and overpriced housing, and it’s not too much of a stretch to assert that our art ‘scene” presents itself less than a force to be reckoned with, and more of a farcical attempt at fitting in with Phoenix’s newest and increasingly desperate clutch at a pre-fab relevance

Naturally, as a false advocacy for the Arts group, Artlink and this current incarnation of the PAS were destined to meet, dance, and fake being in love with each other. And I have to admit, nobody in this 3rd rate arts-burg fakes it better than Artlink. Personally, I wish I could spend this much money to no truly noticeable difference and yet still get to keep both a death-grip over the direction of the PAS, and high social status among the many sycophants within the scene. It must be even nicer to have allegedly no individual integrity and still claim a mantle of leadership, without providing any examples of it.

As I’ve said, c’est la vie.

And while I’m painfully aware that these statistics are from a few years back, I do have a few questions as to how an organization can spend $27, 623.00, and yet have so little to show as a positive return. Keep in mind that over the last few years, the only advertising and promotion regarding Artlink events that’s consistently seen are some brochures, a few posters, and some signage- that’s it. I’ve had galleries complain to me over the years that they allegedly get said promotional materials late, or not at all, with one space stating that they got theirs the DAY of the scheduled event. I’ve never seen any secondary advertising such as TV or radio spots, nor have I ever witnessed any published ads either.

And regarding all of that signage and posters, where are they typically placed? Well, if you were smart, you’d locate them outside of the area where the events are taking place, rather than inside the corridor where everyone who lives and works there already knows about it- now guess correctly what strategy Artlink employs, and you’ll have a pretty good idea what it’s like to play professional football without a helmet.

If I were to draw an analogy, I’d compare Artlinks awareness of the actual issues within this scene as akin to Monty Python’s Dark Knight saying: “Tis’ a scratch.”  There’s blood leaking out of the body politic, and Artlink just keeps going on pretending that the floor is slippery due to it’s being over-waxed.

And what pray tell, is the end result of all this bungling and short-sighted planning? Deals that throw artists under the bus, cozying up to the developers who’ve destroyed our scene, having an almost zero sum impact regarding careers and the scene’s financial stability, and the absolute horror-show cluster-fuck of Art Detour last year. All these so-called business people that sit on Artlink’s board, and yet not one of them seems to know how to aptly remove their metaphorical head out of their collective ass where effective and logical marketing is concerned.

I’m pretty sure if I laid out the bread crumbs of how many missed opportunities that Artlink has blown end to end, not only would Hansel and Gretel have eventually made it home, they could have done so as part of a multi-continent walking tour… twice. It’s almost as if every time a good idea arises, their gut instinct tells them to do the exact opposite of successfully implementing it. As someone who’s been in the trenches since 1991, I can attest to the fact that Artlink has never been a driving impetus behind a successful career in this town- and at least no one I know or have ever heard from that is, has ever told me differently.

I’m sure that doesn’t mean anything when viewed with even the least cynical of eyes.

So when Artlink like to bray (as it oft does) about “serving” artists and the general public, it invokes the same amount of derision that I normally reserve for my ex-fiancée, since she was also serving artists and the general public from a certain point of view, and I saw no definable benefit from that fiasco in the end, either. After close to ten years of writing about what the prevailing issues are in the PAS, and the middling influence of it’s slacker ne’er-do-well rough trick boyfriend Artlink, I think I’ve said all there is need to say.

It’s time for somebody else to lead the charge, or it’s time to just let the overall apathy of this failed performance piece finally finsh the job it started decades ago. But even as I leave behind what I consider to be at best, a dressed-up corpse, I still have a plan in mind that will hopefully benefit not only the artists here that I already know and respect, but will ideally open new artistic ventures within my newly adopted city of Silver City, New Mexico.

Two words and only two words for now: cross pollination.
 
Where I’m about to land seems ripe with new opportunities, and appears on the surface at least, devoid of faux advocacy, faux advocates, and most importantly, faux allies. I plan on using my twenty plus years of business and artistic knowledge to the best advantage whilst I settle in, and in regards to carrying the flag of the 602 scene, that’s done. I’m no longer going to promote a false narrative, pounding my head into the wall, as there’s no point trying to rationalize the obvious fact that the Empress has no clothes.

Or more importantly, the inherent courage to do what’s necessary,

Over the years, I’ve developed a theory that my Phoenix-based writing has been equal parts entertainment, commentary, critique, and sugared venom, all tempered with consideration to getting what I perceive to be the fine details right. Some may disagree with this, some may not. I’m fairly certain that Catrina and the numerous sycophants that constitute her boot-licking ilk, would have a wholly different take altogether, but if I haven’t given a damn about their opinion for the last couple of years, I’m not really certain why I would (or should) change tack now.

If I were to craft an analogy, I’d liken all that I’ve tried to do over the years as a sprawling, brawling game of artists chess, which I once perceived for all intents and purposes, as having a definable end game. As my time in Phoenix comes to the end of it’s chapter, I no longer believe this to be true- in fact, quite the opposite, actually. I see now the goal should be to just bypass the archaic and the corrupt, and instead focus on what can be achieved for my fellow Creatives here and in New Mexico, utilizing the skill set that already exists.

So given that newfound stance, I’m more than happy to relinquish my long-guarded position on the ol’ PAS game board to the sole group that truly has no idea what to do with it, save for dancing with publicity-hungry politicos in its darkened corners. And despite what some of you may be thinking, I’m perfectly fine not playing this version of the game any longer- I’ve put in my time, I’ve earned my stripes, and most importantly, while Catrina and her brood may no longer have to fear truly targeted social criticism from yours truly, they will have to remember one thing: they may now have unfettered access to the artsy chessboard…

But I left with most of the the chessmen, and I’m not giving them back.

Let’s forget the baggages of the past and make a new beginning.”- Shehbaz Sharif