Wednesday, May 31, 2023

YOU ARE HAPPY AND SEXY

I startled Jay in the laundry room trying to plug in the vacuum so I could clean out the car. They asked, “are you still writing”? I took a deep breath and exhaled, “yeaaaaah”, staring at two ground squirrels named anxiety and bitterness, poking their heads out of the ground of my soul. There might be a zine in the future, they says, maybe, quiz├ás. Whatever it is, I’m in. And this is it. You’re reading it right now. It’s about nothing, like Seinfeld. It’s about laundry rooms, vacuums, painting, pain, and “ting”. Because that’s what painting is - half pain, half “ting”. I tried to paint men but they’re just not as interesting as women are to me. Sorry. I tried painting wrestlers but people thought they were boxers and liked them too much. Nobody knows what they’re looking at when they look at my paintings so they just decide it’s nothing. When they think they know, they’re wrong. Nobody wants to believe they’re looking at pro wrestling. Most people think if they catch a glimpse of pro wrestling they’ll become one of those people. Because only Trumpy philistines watch pro wrestling, doesn’t he know it’s all fake? Spoiler alert: Painting is fake, too. All your favorite streaming shows you put on the background while you do other fake shit? Fake, fake, fake. Every billionaire’s self-made story? Fake. As. Fuck. Guess what smarty-pants? Every pro wrestling fan knows it scripted, choreographed and pre-determined. Just like your dumb fucking life, since day one. At least Kenny Omega is aware. El Hijo del Vikingo understands this. The audience for painting in Los Angeles? Not so much.

This is not about me (is “unselfaware” a word? Does acknowledging that make me seem more self-aware? Do I care?). My writing is like scripture - it reveals more about you than it does me. I’m writing this during the last meeting of an advanced life drawing class I teach at Casual State Fullerton. I’ve been adjuncting for 18 years. The app I’m writing this in puts a red line under the word “adjuncting” because it’s not a real word, because it’s not a real job. I graduated from here with an MFA 16 years ago. It took them that long to hire me back. The options were be a gallery artist or go into teaching. Now, if you want a full time professor job, you have to be a gallery artist. The message is clear: if you’re not a commercial artist, you’re dead. I started running into people that couldn’t wrap their brain around “art for art’s sake” in ‘09. People who don’t understand the reason for anything existing if it’s not to make money. People who ask the security guards at museums if the paintings are for sale. “Why don’t you try to be a gallery artist?” “Why don’t you sycophantically kiss the ass of boorish cokehead exclusionists who will sell your whole show at a discount to a Russian oligarch’s daughter-wife or a Mexican narco who will store it all in a freeport until the art advisor tells them it’s time to flip?” One time I had a studio visit with a gallerist who kept talking about themselves and their program and how they have 5 other studio visits today and I kept wondering if they were ever going to turn their head and actually look at my paintings hanging on the wall.

My earliest memory is hearing the song “Angela” by Bob James; it is the theme song to the show “Taxi”, which premiered in 1977. I was born in ‘78. I remember sitting on the ground, pulling my father’s records out and looking at them. Bob James albums. Paul McCartney albums.  On Mondays and Wednesdays, I get up at 5, leave the house at 6, and arrive at around 7 to the community college that lets me teach one section of one 2D Design class that starts at 8 and ends at 11:20. It’s a 90 minute round trip. Near the end of the semester like this, the students are just working on their projects while I sit at the desk and think about how fucked the world is. The world these young students will go forth into knowing how to mix secondary colors and find implied lines in compositions. They walk into class and get right to work. When you’re young you don’t question the point. You are the point. The moment is the point. Everything is new. Everything is novel. Every message you get from the world is “YOU ARE HAPPY AND SEXY”. You’re in the abyss and darkness is filling up the space like you’re in a car underwater? YOU ARE HAPPY AND SEXY. When you’re done for the day, and you try to relax, and you’re sitting there, and now you feel absolutely terrified, absolutely scared to death about nothing, about everything, YOU ARE HAPPY AND SEXY. You’re smart enough to know there are no more ways to make an honest living, true knowledge like that you can’t un-know YOU ARE HAPPY AND SEXY. I’m middle-aged so I get a different message: YOU ARE SAD AND UGLY. AND OLD.