Between school and making my own art, I’m working so hard these days. Trying to get a million prints hand-colored in time for the Print Fair, trying to get a big installation done in time for Miami. And then, there’s those four classes, two of which are three-hour lectures, which take forever to prepare for. I am barely keeping my head above water.
My therapist has me keeping a dream journal. Through this process, I have learned that I am a hungrier and angrier person than I ever let myself be. The vast majority of my dreams either involve me eating vast quantities of sweets (chocolate, cake, cookies, etc) or just being furious, usually something involving something with someone going into the bedroom I had as a teenager, without my permission (go all freudian on that, I know). Or sometimes about our current apartment being huge and me getting lost in it, or my dog running away and then I’m heartbroken. My dream journal is extra depressing.
And random, but: I don’t have any photos of myself from growing up. There’s a bunch of silly reasons as to why it is, but ultimately it’s just one of those things that just is. So I only have my memories from growing up to depend upon, which is sort of interesting. I know my memories aren’t always accurate because no one ever remembers things with total accuracy and certainly, when you’re factoring in a difference of 25 or 30 or more years, things get iffy. So I was really amazed to see this photo the other day:
I don’t know why, but I still remember the address of the house that we lived in when we were in Houston all the way back in 1979 (for the record, I also remember things like all the words to Full Fathom Five, which I had to memorize in high school, and most if not all of the Catholic Mass call-and-response parts). It was shocking to me to see that it’s just the way I remembered it. Not the color or anything like that, but the architecture – I’m sure there have been tons of changes to it over the years, but the basic structure of the house is exactly as I remember it.
I think most people believe their memories until they’re proven wrong; that for most people, to question the truth in their mind is to consider being completely crazy, which is a scary thing. For me, I just assume I’ve remembered things wrong. So to see something like this – something relatively minor and unimportant, like the architecture of that house – and to realize I got it totally right is really… interesting.
Ok, yesterday takes the cake in terms of crazy timing, things that were meant to be (for some strange reason?), and just all around very good luck.
I went to the Whitney Museum yesterday with the intent of seeing the Charles Burchfield show — and only the Charles Burchfield show. As I walked into the museum, I was lecturing myself about how I had so much to get done that afternoon and I shouldn’t get sidetracked and look at the other exhibits. I had an hour to spend in the museum, tops. I was going to have to be efficient and organized about this.
I cruise over to the corporate membership non-line (thanks, SVA!) and get my ticket. Here is weird thing #1: I start chatting with the ticket guy, who clearly didn’t want to chat with me or anyone else, and really just wanted to be left alone. Even while I was making stupid conversation with the guy, I was thinking, “Why am I doing this?” in my head, and yet I couldn’t stop. (To be fair, this lasted a good 45 to 60 seconds tops.)
I’m just about to leave the ticket counter and I hear the voice of an older man speaking to the ticket guy in the next line over. He’s saying “Thirlwell… JIM Thirlwell… JG Thirlwell…” and I sort of chuckle to myself that wow, neat, that ticket guy must have the exact same name of my favorite musician and isn’t it a strange, small world and…
Wait. Suddenly I realize: It’s the guy I sat next to at the Steroid Maximus show. This is completely insane. I sort of tap him on the shoulder and he turns around and remembers me and next thing I know, we’re headed to the 4th floor to see Thirlwell perform as part of the Marclay exhibit. We got there just in time.
Just a couple of things:
1. Bang up job publicizing the performance, Whitney Museum. When I went to your website on Friday morning to check your hours, I didn’t see any mention of it; in the lobby, there wasn’t so much as a xeroxed sheet of paper letting visitors know that anything was happening on the 4th floor. The ticket guy that Al was talking to didn’t even know what he meant (he did know that there was some sort of performance somewhere in the museum, but had no idea what the performer’s name was), which is why Al had to say his name a bunch of times and then we both had to explain what it was we were looking for. Totally weird.
2. You realize that had I been at the museum 1 minute earlier or later, I never would have known about this, right? It was some crazy good luck that lead me there. I’m not a Marclay fan, and being in the rush that I was, I most likely would have just skipped the 4th floor in favor of spending more time on the 3rd. But instead, I wound up spending about half an hour with maybe 50 other people, hearing this incredible score. That was amazing.
3. My phone was dying. I wasn’t prepared. But this is the best I could get:
Recently, a friend of mine tagged me on Facebook on one of those “make a list” memes. It was to name the 15 albums most important to you, or most influential to you, or something like that. I remember that the instructions said not to think to hard about it… which is of course impossible for me.
When I was a kid, I wanted to be a lawyer, a social worker, or a rock journalist. I only came to art later in high school – it certainly was not what I was dreaming about when I was 13 or 14. But as a weird result, I have always taken writing about rock music way too seriously. In general, I take music, period, way too seriously. I always wanted to be in a band or perform in some way, but I just think too much about it. I don’t think I could lose myself in the way that you really have to in order to be a great musician.
Anyway. With that as a bit of a tortured introduction, here are my albums. I’m trying not to think too much about it, but I am. In no particular order:
Peter Gabriel: Security and his third album (aka “Melt“). I can’t remember what brought me to buy this in the first place, but I got them when I was around 15 and listened to it so many times I wore both cassettes all the way through. It was a true experience for me. I couldn’t get through it in the first, second, or even twentieth time; it was just too frightening and mind-blowing. I mean, I was a teenager, and all the world is drenched in pop and everyone seems happy but you. So what to make of The Family and the Fishing Net? Even as an adult with an ear to weird music, it’s tough to find a piece written by a Western songwriter in the 1980s quite as strange as that one. Peter Gabriel seems old and lame now, like just another bloated, aging, rich musician. But when I was a teenager, he was sort of the anti-rock star. He wasn’t trying to be sexy or marketable; he was just this super weird guy writing songs that were almost impossible to pick apart and understand without further information, which he only sometimes provided. And yet, each song was incredibly complete and had its own logic. Listening to his music, I really learned how a work of art can exist on its own terms, without necessarily referencing things in the outside world. Even though he was a total “insider,” he introduced to me this way of working that is more akin to the way that outsider artists work. I can never overstate how much of an impact this made on me and on my future thinking about art and music.
Sleater-Kinney: Dig Me Out and Hole: Live Through This. Do I really have to explain these? I mean, come on. It’s obvious.
A Tribe Called Quest: The Low-End Theory. I got this during a particularly wonderful summer, the first summer I think of myself as being “free” in any sense of the word. This was a great soundtrack.
Foetus: Sink and Hole. Sink = first Foetus album I ever bought; Hole = my favorite for a number of years.
The Cramps: Bad Music for Bad People
The Notwist: Shrink. Ok, this makes the list probably more because it’s what I listened to on the train back and forth between my first real teaching job, right after I had my first solo show. The memories associated with this are just too intense for it not to make the list.
Public Image Ltd: Second Edition. I can’t say what one album I would take with me if stranded on a desert island, but if I got to bring two, this would definitely make the list.
Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds: Your Funeral, My Trial. Jack’s Shadow can go to hell, but otherwise this album is perfect. Stranger Than Kindness? Brilliant.
I’m three albums short, but out of ideas. Hmm. I will no doubt wake up in the middle of the night, kicking myself for the ones I’ve forgotten.