July 23, 2019
“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You’re on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who’ll decide where to go.”- Dr. Seuss, “Oh the Places You’ll Go!”
It is yet another beautiful day out here in the splendor that is Silver City, NM. The sun is shining, the clouds are puffy, the birds are singing, and the sky is the color of blue you’ve only seen in old Westerns and when you’re choking out a Smurf in the ambient gloom of your crawlspace. Idyllic, by and large. But as with all things that are seemingly bucolic, there co-exists within a dark and seedy underbelly, unobserved by even the sharpest of eyes. What is this menace that sows it’s evil under the carapace of many names, summoned by sugary drinks and worshiped by overpriced medical specialists with withered souls and blackened hearts?
Some of you may have guessed by the subtle clues, it’s my old go-to nemesis, also known as Diabetes, or as I like to reference it, the blood-monster nobody writes operas about. As a rule of thumb, I’m pretty much ok with the majority of my adult responsibilities- sure, paying bills does suck, and having to always wear “real” pants when you go outside does tend to put a kibosh on one’s good mood every now and then, but the knowledge that I can have pizza and ice cream for breakfast any time I want* does act as a salve of sorts.
*[UPDATE: I have just been informed, and rather tersely I might add, by my GF Ashley that I cannot in fact, “have pizza and ice cream for breakfast any time I want”, citing my said brittle Diabetes as the core reason for her belief. In addition, it was also noted that it would also be a “cold day in El Azizia” before she, I, and that gothically hot girl who works at my favorite coffee-shop would ever get physically creative in a tub full of Cool-Whip and Jello. I can only assume that she’s worried about my blood sugar spiking, which in of itself, is actually quite responsible on her part, when you look at the situation overall.]
For those of you painfully familiar with my writing, I tend to mine my diabetic condition every now and then, both for blog fodder and as a means to blow off the 24/7 stress of having to deal with it, notwithstanding the complications it brings to my personal Lair of Snarkitude. Unfortunately, I can’t use my doorstep’s automatic trapdoor system to get it off my back like I tend to do with missionaries and those annoying kids who sell candy at three times it’s price for their school’s band camp program, but you get the idea. If I had to do it all over again, I’d make sure to pick a condition that either comes with a built-in Lifetime movie, such as fighting a corrupt City Hall, or a sense of true adventure, that being abducted by Aliens, or “Grays” as they’re known within the cosmically hip circles.
I definitely would not have chosen this as my go-to back-story, given what it’s cost me over the years, that being one already fatally flawed relationship, my ability to paint and draw, multiple gastric issues, feeling like an overly prodded lab rat, and my personal favorite so far, the forced liberation of chunks from my left foot, resulting in a walking style charitably once described as “the swagger of an overly drunken pirate” to which I can only use the rejoinder of “eat your heart out, Captain Jack Sparrow“. Speaking of said traitorous foot, I find myself swimming within the prosthetic technology river, and so far, my options seem to be rather wide, in relation to where shoe-based fashion is concerned.
Recently, my medical peeps set it up for me to have my foot cast* in order to create a custom insert, which in theory, should limit the need to rely on my cane so much. Say what you will, but if I ever get famous enough to get my footprints placed in front of Hollywood’s Grauman’s Chinese Theater, mine are definitely gonna be more interesting to look at than Errol Flynn’s, let me tell you.
Even so, I may still decide to keep the cane, because it does add considerable weight to the whole “mysterious stranger in a small-town” mystique thing I’m currently crafting. In addition, I’ll hopefully be getting a sexy state of the art insulin pump* along with a brand-new CGM system**, and if all goes to prescripted plan, I’m just one bionic eye and red 70’s jogging suit away from being the next Steve Austin***, sans the cool sound effects and occasional Bigfoot appearance.**** I’m so looking forward to getting this tech that I’m almost willing to overlook the fact that the med-lab out here not only failed to do all the blood tests they were supposed to do, they somehow LOST MY BLOOD as well, which gives me the impression that certain technicians in charge of my future health couldn’t arrange a fellatio session in a bordello, but I digress.
[*Just look at this tech- it literally does everything, save giving me an erotic backrub, and I’m sure that will be an option relatively soon.
**A Continuous Glucose Monitor measures the body’s glucose levels in real-time by sensing the glucose present in tissue fluid, and are truly awesome, because it cuts way back on the whole “jab a freaking spike into your fingertips” thing. A CGM works through a tiny sensor inserted under your skin, usually on your belly or arm. The sensor measures your interstitial glucose level, which is the glucose found in the fluid between the cells. The sensor tests glucose every few minutes, and then a transmitter wirelessly sends the information to a monitor. Science. It’s just not for accidentally creating armies of the Undead or Kardashians anymore.
***Steve Austin had superhuman strength due to bionic implants inserted after an accident, and was employed as a secret agent by a fictional U.S. government office titled the OSI. He also had a bionic girlfriend named Jamie Summers, and while I know you’re expecting me to make several off-color jokes about oil changes and keeping his piston lubed and polished, I’m going to opt for the high road on this one.
And as an aside, the Six Million Dollar Man Bionic Transport and Repair Station toy was the motherf**king bomb.
**** This was a thing. It actually happened. And we as a country, are all better for it.
Getting back on track, my first three articles and two photo-shoots for a regional New Mexico publication are finished, which in theory, could lead to further writing and photo opportunities out here, or so I hope. At this stage in my life, I think I’m pretty much done working for a fiefdom type gig- If I ever feel the need to go work for a truly arrogant idiot again, I’ll just cut out the middleman and go straight to my Dad. That title of course, being honorary, as he’s never had any idea how to do the job in the first place. As I’ve explained to friends and strangers alike, I’m the end result of immigrant parents, one German, the other Sicilian, who for some strange and as yet unknown reason where the Universe is concerned, decided not to listen to the grand Cosmos in all of it’s Wisdom, and bred a trio of children with whom they could equally and with a varying degree of success, turn their own individual projected disappointments and failures into cavernous psychological scars.
In other words, the stereotypical American family. As I’ve often said, we’re the ones who truly put the “fun” in “dysfunctional”, no matter what my therapists say.I recently heard a comedian describe their family as cardboard cutouts sitting around a dining room table, and if that doesn’t describe my family dynamic to a T, I don’t know what does. My mother is for all purposes, a lying narcissist, my father a clueless one, and my youngest brother is essentially a disturbingly distilled version of them both, but with an added dash of arrogance that makes me look like Bob Ross. My older sister on the other hand, is totally good peeps, so there is that. To give you an idea of just how fractured, if not emotionally isolated my so-called family is, my parents and younger brother don’t know that I moved out of Phoenix, they don’t know where I currently live, they don’t know about my amputation surgery, and they sure as Hell don’t know anything about what I do for a living. And obviously, none of them are readers, either. Unless you count pop-up books as actual adult literature the way they do, that is.
Heck, if any of them actually know how to turn on a laptop without the aid of a tutorial given by hand-puppets, I will literally eat a case of knock-off Ding-Dongs as an act of recovering Catholic contrition. But in their limited defense, they always did have an opinion as to how I should live my life, even if all evidence and reality pointed to the contrary, and this has never wavered even in the face of their own shortcomings and failures, of which there are too many to note.
Sorry for the unforeseen Freudian lay-down, but one of the side-effects of living in a place where I can actually breathe and relax for the first time in 20 years, is the time to do some serious self-reflection. Granted, having yet another go-around with your mortality is another aspect that helps this inner conversation, and as a means to underscore my POV, I will quote Thor, the God of Thunder: “The rage, vengeance, anger, loss, regret, they’re all tremendous motivators. They truly clear the mind… so, I’m good to go.” Now, that’s not to imply that I’m walking around with my Admantium claws unsheathed, snarling at the common rabble, but my tolerance for dealing with sheer ignorance has been severely truncated as of late, whether it’s been on Twitter or in the real world.
Speaking of which, I was permanently banned from the Twitverse a while back, and it feels great, knowing that I’ve vexed conservatives and faux Christians to the point where they felt the need to rally en masse- to get me banned is almost a badge of honor for this ol” Snark, let me tell you. And sure, their decision was and is based on sheer hypocrisy, considering whom they’ve let remain, but I’ll defer from commenting on that… for now.As I’ve often said before, I don’t care that you think differently, as long as you have made it clear that you’re THINKING in the first place. No debunked conspiracy theories. No weak debates based on emotion over facts. And I definitely don’t want to hear any racist, misogynistic, homophobic, jingoistic, xenophobic, elitist and wholly uniformed opinions either. I get enough of that every singe time I run into a Trump supporter, and let’s face it- they’re more than holding up that end for their ilk. If anything, I think I’m moving into a position of reinvention for both myself and my focus of what I truly wish to do now and in the future. And at the very least, it definitely does not involve anyone who purposely gets in the way of my destiny, whatever course that may chart.
Aside from my personal cabal of impotent cyber-stalkers, I usually don’t have to deal with too much animosity within the place I currently live, which is a very nice change from where I was in Phoenix not too long ago. And since I haven’t made too wide of an inroad within the local Arts community yet, it’s also been rather nice being a metaphorical fly on the wall in regards to interacting with my fellow Creatives. It’s definitely a nice pace I’ve set for myself here, and coalescing my facets as a writer and artist certainly hasn’t hurt the self-recovery process either. It’s such a relief not having to write about (or experience) the worst aspects of the Phoenix Art Scene anymore- I literally feel these days like I was paroled right before the penitentiary was nuked, and it’s foundational ruins camouflaged with overpriced condos and shitty corporate murals.
Say what you want about Phoenix’s obsessive need to undermine it’s own road towards actual progress, at least it does it well and with stunning consistency. Now for some, there has been what might be considered as bright points of light in relation to the Scene, but when looked at with a practical eye, are they really? Many are hyped about the plans by Sant Fe-based art collective Meow Wolf to open a boutique hotel in Phoenix’s so-called Downtown Arts corridor, but if a city can’t even economically support the majority of it’s artists, can it really sustain an overpriced flavor of the moment niche hotel? I for one, am quite cynical that it can, but what do I know? I only have my well-established track record of calling it right for the last decade or so to draw my conclusions from, and it’s not like that ever carried any weight with those who consider themselves as an influencing force within the scene.
What is worth looking at however, given how some blithely dismissed my point of view in the past, is why I’m still being asked to write about what’s going on in the PAS, even though I’ve lived in New Mexico for almost a year now, and have zero interest in doing so any longer. I’ve served my time in the pointless PHX art advocacy army, I’ve bought the
trendy t-shirt and ate the fatty hamburger, and I’m more than happy to have turned over this thankless task to anyone who in time, and like myself, will eventually come to truly understand that it presents as nothing more than a series of confrontational and wholly circular arguments with people who are more interested in calling themselves Artists, rather than backing it up with solid work, forward progress, and self-benefitting economic stability.
The overall absurdity of people asking for my continued input in regards to a scene I no longer have any interest promoting past the point of calling attention to certain peeps within it, can be best summed up by this quote from my fellow Creative and Obi-Wan of Snark, Artist Peter Petrisko:
“As somebody in a position to write about the arts scene, it’s discouraging to find out that all the news tips are being sent to a dude in New fuckin’ Mexico. #ThatsSoPHX though! 🙁 “
Now don’t get me wrong, it’s nice to be missed, but not when the only reason that people do is because they think they can continue in their attempts to use you as their personal hitman. I’m here to carry my own axe, as it should be, not to do the wet-work for others. As the saying goes, my plate is full. But at least it’s topped off with something I’m happy to be chewing on, for the first time in a while. Say what you will about the metaphorical politics and limitations of a small-town art scene, but at least the Creatives here strike as authentic in how they deal (or don’t) with you. One of the highly understated perks of anonymously starting from scratch within a new Lair of Snarkitude, is that you can observe the lay of the land from the shadows of your parapet, before reinventing and presenting yourself to a scene that’s never heard of you, but hopefully, soon will.
Along those lines, my home studio is finally starting to feel like a creative space after almost a year of being tweaked, re-tweaked, and blankly stared at. All it really needs now is a double-wide papasan chair, and an additional bookcase, and I’ll be ready to rock out with my Diet Coke out, come this Fall. But overall, things here are pretty ok- I’ve got a fairly Zen office* away from home that comes complete with a bar and the best medium green chile bacon cheeseburger I’ve ever had in my life, along with being perfectly situated on the busiest corner in this town, where the people watching is excellent, and three cars backed up is considered a traffic jam.
*[That “office” BTW, is called The Little Toad Creek Brewery and Distillery, and I swear on all that’s holy, the entire wait-staff is disturbingly gorgeous. I don’t know what the stats are on that, but I’m thinking I need to go buy some lottery tickets right quick to take advantage of this anomaly within the time/space continuum.]
I will admit however, to feeling a tad bit weird in relation to the fact of how laid-back I find myself these days. If you had told me 20 years ago that I was ever going to be living in a nice 3-bedroom house, complete with curtains and coasters, in a small town where I would find myself willingly waving “hello” at strangers, I would have glared frigidly, punched you in the throat for spewing such inanity, and then, after throwing your girlfriend on the back of my bike, would have roared off into the sunset, laughing darkly.
You know… like you do.
But time heals all wounds, polishes off some of the rough edges, and if you’re lucky, also has enough consistent memory lapses to make your transition from the old life to the new one that much easier. And let’s face it, one’s health being bad also tends to take your pole position of being relevant down a few notches, whether you want to admit it or not. That’s not to say I’ve been sitting on my butt as of late, far from it- but my need to be on the go constantly has been immensely reduced as my time here goes on. Or maybe it’s just old age settling in, and given another week or so, I’ll be yelling at the neighborhood kids to get the hell off my front lawn, as I add yet another of their errant footballs to my ever-growing collection. Yeah, go tell your Dad, Timmy- I’ll be waiting right here.
Hence as I sit here at The Toad, writing this blog, listening to awesome 80’s New Wave Pop music, (Is that Sigue Sigue Sputnik’s “Love Missile F1-11”?!? AWESOME!!) I find myself creatively recharged in a way I haven’t been for quite some time, and it’s a nice change of pace from the position and scene I was up to my neck in for the last 25+ years. It’s amazing how your priorities shift back to yourself, once you’re able to get away from yourself, if you know what I mean. And if all goes well, I’ll be able to figure my own narrative out as I work on the craft of telling other peoples stories.
Well, that’s the plan, anyway. And those always go the way you want them to, right?
“They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself.” – Andy Warhol,The Philosophy of Andy Warhol