Biblichor and Art (A bar stool rumination)
April 18, 2019
“We need to make books cool again. If you go home with somebody and they don’t have books, don’t fuck them.” – John Waters
It is a lovely day here in Silver City, New Mexico. The sun isn’t shining, the wind is blowing harder than Jenny Mc Carthy at a gathering of nonagenarian anti-vaxxers, and the water falling from the sky can’t decide whether it wants to be sleety rain or hail- to which I say let it be both, because goddamnit, this is America and you can do (and be) whatever you want. Speaking of which, one of the best ways to achieve this is through the use of books, or as I like to think of them, compendiums of pure awesomeness. As the more astute of you may have surmised, I LOVE books. And I’m not describing a generalized overall appreciation of the collected written word, I’m describing a personal situation akin to the Collyer Brothers*, but with books.
*[Homer Lusk Collyer and Langley Wakeman Collyer, AKA the Collyer brothers, were two American brothers who became infamous for their bizarre natures and compulsive hoarding. Go read up on it- it’s disturbingly fascinating. In fact there are several books you could read about it, ironically enough.]
When Ashley and I moved here, I had 54 boxes of books that had to go as well, much to the unfettered sheer delight of our somewhat ham-fisted moving monkeys. In fact, I heard several comments regarding their weight and how they were getting a gratuitous workout, and seemingly armed with an almost Nostradamus like power of foresight, the crew noted how they already had a place in mind where these boxes could be shoved. On a related side note, I never was informed where that place was, but I got the feeling they wanted me directly involved. Damn. I do like being one of the cool kids.
Puzzlingly, when I unpacked all of my varied tomes, I couldn’t get this literature-based game of Tetris to go back the way it once was, leading to the eventual purchase of yet another needed bookcase for the Lair of Snarkitude. So at the moment, my personal library encompasses SEVEN bookshelves, the biggest of which houses all of my art reference books, covering the gamut from the fastidious craft of duck decoys to graffiti, a singular passion of mine.
When and if I die, this will be the one grouping of my possessions that my artist friends will go full Lord of the Flies over. The rest of my collection is pretty much comprised of sci-fi, true crime both case studies and stories, autobiographies, horror, some specialized fiction, and a random assortment of how-to and “did you know?” type books.
Somewhat eclectic, but it works for me. And I might add, for anyone who visits and who likes to read, no matter what you’re into, I’m pretty sure Ashley and I have got it covered, hands down. Not to mention, the bathroom reading at our house is superb, if I do say so myself, and I do. However, the city we live within proximity of, that being Silver City, is an exceedingly small town- the population is less than 10k, and the biggest retailer that exists is a Super Wal-Mart, which truly blackens my liberal soul every time I’m forced to shop there. To give you some perspective, online shopping is such an integrally huge thing here, that Jeff Bezos providing another outlet for retail could be looked upon as the equivalent of Goliath taking on his own clone, albeit a slightly more arrogant version. As you might imagine, this dearth of in-town commerce tends to limit the diversity of what goods and services exist within the confines of my newest home, so monthly shopping trips to the “big city” of Las Cruces one and a half hours away have become somewhat of a highly convenient excuse to go take a road-trip.
Don’t get me wrong, Artbitch V2.0 does like the pace here, and not having to deal with the PAS and it’s lack of insight anymore is in retrospect, almost a godsend. Seriously. The last time I was this relaxed, was when I was under anesthesia, and that’s even with the fact that I eventually had to pick up the tab for that. Helping add bulk to that sense of overall warm fuzziness is the fact that there’s at least one kick-ass used book store here, by the name of Silver City Book Shop, and it’s exactly how a used bookshop should present itself- comfy chairs, natural light, overstuffed shelves, that tang of old-books wafting through the air, [also known as “Biblichor“] and an owner who knows books and their authors much in the same way that I know the highs and lows of Ding-Dong and Peeps addiction.
In addition to this already charming stack of literary magnificence, said owner, a delightful, if not exceedingly colorful, Scottish expat by the name of Michael Lacey, is also an excellent resource regarding the lore of Silver City, and of the varied social sub-strata that I hope to be finding myself excavating through over the course of the coming year, and let me tell you kids, you can’t pay enough for info like that. You can however, buy some goodwill by purchasing a few books now and then, all while enjoying the occasional cup of Tea, which I’ve always believed is what truly separates us from the narrow-minded rabble of mouth-breathing Red Hat knuckle-draggers who view books and intellectual expansion with the same disdain that Superman reserves for Kryptonite Underoos.
Hands down, this may be one of my favorite bookshops I’ve ever been in, as Michael is not only well versed in his understanding of authors across the published spectrum, but the way he interacts with his clientele as he informs them of choices they’ve never considered is an act of performance art that can only be described as inspirational. I’ve often said that books are life, but Michael lives that maxim as if it were a religion, and the ripple effect of his personal philosophy impacts upon everyone who thirsts for knowledge.
In short, if you come here on holiday, check out his place, and tell all your friends.
Speaking of the written and eventually compiled word, I’ve finally managed to get off my wounded backside and put out some tentative feelers to several publications out here, and I’ve gotten *some positive feedback in regards to having my previous work checked out for review- I’m keeping my fingers crossed and my mouth shut, since I don’t want to jinx anything, but I will say this- I definitely have decided that I no longer want to work for cretins, such as the mentally deficient and morbidly obese bitch I once had to suffer as my supervisor, or within any arrogant fiefdom that was the norm before I had the misfortune of working for the barely sentient New Age cow I just described. And it’s pretty much a given that due to both injuries and my declining health that I can no longer work the type of physical job that I once did.
*[I’ve gotten two serious offers from two heavy readership hitters out here to “pitch” some stories- I’m keeping my fingers crossed.]
Oh well. C’est la vie. New glass of Metamucil sweeps clean and all that.
So with a new home base and reworked attitude, comes new possibilities, or so I hope- the writing and art scene settings out here are definitely hard-set to “hustle”, and if there’s one skill-set I do possess, it’s the ability to self-market and chat-up strangers. Or as my GF likes to call it, “making friends with a brick”. What is weird that even though I’ve been here since the tail end of August 2018, I have yet to make any actual friends out here- granted, three months of my new residency was spent recovering from unforeseen and somewhat traumatic amputation surgery, which forced me to be housebound, but it’s quite out of character for me to be so hermitic, given the past 20 years+ of my artsy and somewhat gadabout lifestyle.
In fact, the only people I talk to out here with any regularity are Michael, and Jed, the day manager at my favorite writing burrow, that being the *Little Toad Creek Brewery & Distillery, which by the way, has the best damn bacon-green-chile-hamburger I’ve ever had in my life, that being the “LTC Burger“. I’m not sure what’s more amusing to me, the fact that this is the quietist my life has ever been, or that I’ve quickly morphed into the cliché of a writer who works out of a bar, and has his “own” table and standing food and drink order. To be clear, I’m not being anti-social or anything, it’s just that due to my health issues, I just sense that I’m currently punching above my weight class right now, and as such, don’t think it’s the best idea to jump into a new set of rapids wearing only arm floaties versus the safety of a well-crafted Admantium kayak backed up with not only lasers, but my personal army of wet-suited Ninja ferrets.
Although let’s face it, I could rock these like Danzig if I wanted to.
When it comes right down to the brass tacks, my main concern is really all about the first impression I’m going to make upon what will hopefully be my future colleagues and allies within this new creative crucible. But despite my somewhat Machiavellian overtures towards introducing myself scene-wise, I have been making some limited forays out into this brave new territory, armed only with devastating charm, rugged good looks, and a truckload of business cards. So, it’s just like when I was single, except I don’t have to buy anyone dinner, and I’m not going to wind up at the strip club afterwards, throwing my last bit of surplus cash at a dancer named Dakota, who despite all of her assurances, won’t call me back three days later.
But as usual, perhaps I’ve said too much. Now, while the scene here is obviously way smaller than the one I just closed the door on, it’s also seemingly way more entrenched within the community fabric than the one represented by the PAS. While Phoenix seems disturbingly intent on happily cutting it’s own throat using the twin combo of gentrification and soulless vanilla-esque decorator art geared towards a centralized demographic of blandness, the Arts in this city (and NM in general) have a propensity to lean towards taking risks not only in direction and aesthetics, but saturation as well. There’s literally art everywhere here, and the talent pool ranges from gifted amateurs to mercenary capitalists like myself, a class which at the very least should provide some solemn grist for my future screeds, if nothing else.
However, as different as this new place is, the hustle remains the same- you can’t keep the high ground if you’re not out protecting it, and if your day to day routine doesn’t involve dancing on the razor’s edge while juggling flaming kittens, you’re casually taking up way too much space to begin with. And if there’s one thing I’ve always enjoyed, it’s grabbing those sheer moments of catastrophe and turning them into marketable opportunities, or as I’ve always called it- Tuesday. It still remains to be seen whether I’m going to still get up and jump back into the art-production side of things again, in the manner of my early to mid-thirties, but the likelihood is there, and the impulse to crank out some new work and experiment with some unique techniques keeps getting stronger as time roars on. Aided of course, by the fact that my new abode comes equipped with a separated workshop where i can finally not have to worry about making an artsy mess.
Speaking of art, which I’m fondly obsessed with doing, I recently made a happy discovery here in my new stronghold of snarkiness, that being a gallery that goes by the name of Light Art Space, run by Artist Karen Hymer. [ https://lightartspace.com/ ] But before I wax poetic, lets get some background on the creative force behind it first.
From the website: “Light Art Space is owned and operated by Karen Hymer, a visual artist and teacher from Tucson, Arizona. Karen earned her BFA from The School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston and Tufts University, Medford and her MA and MFA in Fine Art Photography from the University of New Mexico, Albuquerque. She actively exhibits her work both nationally and internationally. Her work is in several public collections, including the Center for Creative Photography and the Polaroid International Collection. Dark Spring Press released the first book of her work in May, 2018.
Karen’s experience and technical interests are wide-ranging. Although “trained” as a photographer and educator, her approach to image making explores the blending of photosensitive materials, digital media, printmaking and encaustics. In addition to working as a fine art photographer, she taught photography for over 25 years at Pima Community College in Tucson and currently offers workshops and private sessions in Photopolymer Gravure printing and alternative photographic processes.”
As one might hope to expect, this austerely minimalist space reflects the educational and creative pedigree of Hymer’s solid curatorial eye. Given my normal cynicism in regards to how I view most galleries as being marketed and run, I cannot begin to tell you how much I love taking in the shows here- it’s truly energizing for the ol’ art-batteries, and serves as a steadily inspirational incubator as to how an art-centric business should be offered up to the local community, as it develops the long-term relationships that will prove to be so vital to it’s sustained success. Whether the work being displayed is photography, mixed media, or sculpture, the shows I’ve attended have all been rock-solid, which is a refreshing change from some of the artsy abattoirs I endured during my time in Phoenix.
So, if the storybook Gods are feeling particularly generous, I’ll hopefully be writing about all of this professionally yet again. I’ve sent out the requested “pitches” in regards to getting back on board the journalism jalopy, so now it’s just a sit and wait game whereas my published life is concerned. And the best part is that this particular city just bleeds stories, art-related or not. The writing grist here is incredible, if not readily available, and has me thinking about other literary avenues that I could explore. Not to mention that I may also be in a unique niche, as one of the magazines I’ve contacted informed me that they don’t get to cover this side of the state as much as they’d like to, since they really don’t have someone who’s in place to do so.
At last, it seems that my proclivity for burrowing in like a wood-tick may finally pay off for once, if all goes to hopeful plan. Crossing my fingers and remaining toes that my roll of the dice comes up with a lucky seven in regards to this, because if it doesn’t, I seriously have no idea what I’ll be doing career wise, as I’m fairly certain that “arrogant snark” is not actually a real job I could get paid handsomely for, even though I should. So with a bit of luck, all the outreach I’ve been doing will pay off steadily, because I already know it won’t be handsomely. Print media as a rule, seems to be in decline, as more people seemingly prefer the information they consume to be spoon-fed to them, via targeted algorithms that only serves to reinforce their personal biases and newly fomented opinions. But as long as it lasts, I’m more than willing to ride this bomb ala Slim Pickens style, to whatever glorious end awaits.
Other than the monotony of the job searching, everything else is humming alone relatively well- my new studio space and workshop are almost set-up, and my bad health is slowly being corralled by a battalion of new doctors determined to see me in better straits. So, despite the incredibly hellish travail of moving and my medical morass, this place finally feels ike home, even if nobody here knows who and what I am… yet. However, all the indicators thus far point to my stress levels here being almost non-existent in regards to what I was experiencing back in PHX. Sure, my foot still looks like it was utilized as a chew-toy by a rabid zombie Chihuahua, but I’m gradually learning to deal with it, in a fashion, somewhat. And while I’m reasonably stable without my cane on the flat side of the land, I definitely still need it when it comes to uneven ground or steps, of which there are aplenty in Silver City.
In time, I purportedly won’t need it as much or at all, but for now, I’m not so sure. It plays a huge role in my current stability when I’m traipsing through my newly adopted city, and let’s face it- it’s black on black motif has been meshing quite well with my stereotypical Angel of Death wardrobe, so that’s a plus. But if all goes to plan, I will find out in the next week* or so if I have to continue to wear the clunky med-shoe I’ve been putting up with for the last several months, or if I can get back into my motorcycle boots. Because you have no idea how hard it is to look bad ass when you are wearing the foam equivalent of a Lego block on your foot, let me tell you. But as far as things go, I really can’t complain- sure, waiting to hear back from the magazines I’ve pitched to is in itself, a mild form of slow torture, but if it all pays off in the end, then I guess it’s worth it.
*[Update; my doctor said I could, so back to my Hell-stompers!!!]
A small side note, if I may: As I noted earlier, I do the majority of my writing in this bar/brewery in Downtown Silver City, NM called The Little Toad Creek bar & Brewery, which as a rule, happens to be a rather nice and mellow place. Today however, I currently have some dumbf**k sitting three feet from me who’s advocating FOR drunk driving, dismissing the act of people being charged for it as “bullshit.” This presents a question for the crowd, that being if I take my cane and shove it up his idiotic ass sideways, is that a hate crime or a mercy killing?
Sorry. Just needed to blow off some steam before I break out the ol’ *Brazen Bull and several bags of Kingsford briquettes, and slow-roast myself a proudly drunken jackass from Ohio, so let’s get back to the narrative, shall we?
*[The Sicilian bull which is better known as the brazen bull, was allegedly a torture and execution device designed in Greece. The bull was said to be hollow, made of bronze, and designed with a door on one side to allow the placement of condemned prisoners, who were locked inside the device, prior to a fire being set underneath it, thereby heating the metal until the person inside was excruciatingly roasted to death. There are several opinions as to whether the Brazen Bull ever really existed, dismissing the stories to gossip and propaganda, but I really wish I had one now.]
In more exciting news, I still find myself currently tussling with a slew of Trump-twatbots via my Twitter and IG feeds, as they miserably fail to defend or advance the agenda of their Klansberry Cocktail, which has led to a whole new vanguard being unwillingly drafted into my ongoing postcard project which I discussed in a previous blog. Trust me, there’s nothing more satisfying than metaphorically punching holes through these inbred losers, and it never gets dull, let me tell you. Personally, I don’t consider it a productive week unless I get at least two serious death threats, a wide smattering of “libtard” slurs, and an acidic assessment that I must surely be gay because I believe in equality for all.
Amusingly, that last one hardly dings in this day and age, especially when you consider it’s obviously based on nothing more than their sheer jealousy of my fantastic ghetto booty, which let’s face it, could stop rush hour traffic in Los Angeles. And as to the numerous physical threats I receive, the only way the majority of these deep-fried larded idiots could ever actually pose a physical threat is if they accidentally tripped and landed on me, so it’s not like I give any credence past the occasional minimum thought. If the majority of these petroleum-pissing dinosaur incels fight as well as they “debate”, not only will I be safe as houses, but I’ll also have enough comedic material to tweet until my Ding Dong addiction finally does me in.
Speaking of being done in, I have a ton of doctors I’ll be seeing over the next three months out here in relation to my past and ongoing health issues, despite having yet another one of my extended episodes of white-coat fatigue syndrome. I now have a surgical consultant, a dietician, a general practitioner, a podiatrist, an endocrinologist, and a nephrologist, so all I need now to have my very own medical-themed Funko POP collector set, is to acquire a cardiologist and a pulmonologist, ASAP. And if I can somehow score myself one of those awesome limited-edition immunologists mint in the box, I’ll really have something to brag about in my diabetic support group, let me tell you. At this point however, I’m just really tired of being poked, weighed, inspected, and processed as if I were a piece of snarkily sentient fruit. Especially when none of it seems to be having any culpable effect as to how I feel, or putting the weight (35 lbs+) back on that I’ve lost thus far. Don’t misunderstand, as overall, I’m very happy to be gimping along such as it is above ground, but there are days where the consistency of being and feeling sick and tired all the time drains my batteries something fierce.
I can handle the concept of getting older, it’s the reality of becoming quickly decrepit that’s actually getting on my nerves, almost to the point of obsession. Granted, neuropathic pain, balance issues, and unexplained fatigue and weight loss are not the best topics to spark up a conversation with, but just imagine that you’re the person who’s afflicted with the symptoms to begin with. If you think you’re bored with my referencing them persistently, just envision how fatigued I am living with them 24/7- no breaks, no mercy, no chance of reprieve… EVER. Gah. Sorry. I really need to learn how to bitch less about my medical stuff, as it is what it is, and that would definitely fall under the charitable description of “annoying”, lol.
But as with all things, there are always positives- it’s just that the truly bad sometimes outweighs the good, no matter how much I try to maintain a brave face. When it comes right to the heart of the matter, it will forever be a day-to-day battle to maintain and keep the high ground, and to make sure not to lose any of it to my internal monster. and on that particularly uneven note, I think it’s time for a break.
And when we come back…
I give up the reins and let someone else do my art framing, endeavor to find out if I’m still hirable whereas my writing career is concerned, and see if I still have the chops to create kickass art with hands that are as useless as JPGs would be to Helen Keller.
“If you want to really hurt you 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 possible can. You will get an enormous reward. You will have created something.” – Kurt Vonnegut, A Man Without a Country