Traci Bautista and Jennifer Perkins are tearing up the crafter universe. They are amazing artists and I am glad they are in my orbit. To learn more about them click the hyperlinks, watch Craftlab, or visit Shikow in the near future.
I switched over to blogger beta. It's pretty awful, considering that once you switch over you can't comment on people's blogs who haven't got the beta up and running. This means I have to sign up under pseudonym blogs to leave comments, and as that is strange, I'll just have to wait until everyone signs up for it or I can figure out a way to switch back.
In the meantime, people who visit Shikow would do well to visit under Safari or Explorer, as I have found out that Firefox does not show any of my new posts after August 19th. This is very peculiar and I have written to blogger about it.
I assume they will get back to me in a year or so. Ha!
Anyway, I am hard at work producing a new DIY show. It's a craft show and will probably not air until this time next year, but it's fun to hang out with all the different people and eat buffet lunches and talk about Anthony Hopkins.
"He's the same height as you."
"Same build too."
"Oh, I love Anthony Hopkins."
"He's wonderful. Such a sweet man. He told me to call him Tony."
"I want to call him Tony."
"He had piercing blue eyes," she smiled. "It made you want to go up and-" she makes a sound like eating someone alive to reference his Silence of the Lambs quote.
"Funny," I say.
At night, I tutor kids. I like how this dichotomy works. It offers me a completely different experience in one day, and although I am fairly tired by 7pm, I do my best to muster the difference between William Blake's Infant Joy and Infant Sorrow.
"You could ask the class to circle words in Sorrow that are similar. What words do you see?"
"All the sad ones."
"Yeah, isn't that funny? All the expereince poems got this saddness to them. While the joy one is what?"
"Yeah. That's pretty cool, huh?"
"So, Joy is 2 days old?"
"Yeah, or it could be that a person who sees Joy feels like they're two days old. Because what happens when you look out at the world and see joy? How do you feel?
"Yeah, and what happens when you look out and see all the sad things of life?"
"So, maybe, Blake is showing us how to look at things. We don't necessarily have to be two days old and feel joy as a baby. Maybe, we can be any age and feel joy. All we got to do is acknowledge the things that fill us with joy. Because if all we see is sad things then all we'll see is sad. But that doesn't mean experience or innocence is any better. Maybe, it's just perspective that makes it so. I don't know. What do you think?"
"I like that. I'm going to write that down."
Now I'm at home. I step outside for a smoke. There's a neighbor working on his 91' Toyota. It won't start and we sit there trying to figure it out.
"I think it's the ignition."
"Same thing happened with mine. It was the ignition. I thought it was the battery the whole time, and I kept getting it jumped, but then when I went to Pep Boys, they told me it was the ignition and that was that."
"Pep Boys, huh? How much they charge you?"
"I think about 200 bucks."
"200 for Pep Boys? That's eexpensive."
I shrug. He looks at his watch.
"I guess I'm late now. I probably can't go to Venice. I was supposed to be there at 930."
"You can still make it."
"It's 10 to 9 now."
"You can make it. Take the 10."
"Yeah, I'll have to take the 10," he opend his car door. "Well, I better try it now."
"It'll work now."
He starts the car. It turns a couple times and roars up.
"Think I can make it?"
These were the 3 conversations I had today. They were my teaching points. And by that, I mean, MY teaching points. I got to learn something from each person.
1. The costume designer showed me that I was no different from my idol Anthony Hopkins.
2. My student showed me a new perspective on William Blake and helped me switch my sullen mood to one of innocence.
3. And, my neighbor showed me that it's good to go places and talk to people and that miracles can happen. (It's how I see it; not exactly how I tell it.)
I know it may not seem like all that, without you being there and all, but I'm pretty sure that is a close approximation of my 3 lessons for today.
Doing this blog and writing teaches me too. I guess that's one of the reasons I do it. I get to see myself for what I am. I get a sort of Brechtian hello when I talk about my experiences as an objector. I like that. I also like how every story teaches something, whether it's meant to or not.
I learned that from the Blake poems.
It makes me wonder too.
If everything teaches you something, then why is there any need to worry about anything at all? Isn't it just one big hello?
Yes, I'm sure it is.
All pretty simple really.
There isn't uber-happiness; just as there isn't uber-sorrow.
It just is what it is.
I just spend most of my life fighting between them. It's really funny actually.
Have you ever thought about it?
Holy shit! It's so funny.
Like the other day I was getting into it with a chick and I was like happy, and then I heard myself go, "Well, why you so happy?"
And then flip that forward to yesterday when I'm sitting on a stoop and my brother is trying to cheer me up for not having all my dreams-accomplished-now-syndrome, and I'm like, "Why am I not chipper?"
It's so funny. Ecstacy is when I can see that there is no fight betweeen one or the other.
I can only accept what I am in the moment that I feel it, and I even then I have the opportunity to see if it's real or not.
I'm unhappy because all my dreams aren't accomplished now.
That's some crazy thinking. Becuase what would be the point in living?
Anyway, I'm writing pretty plainly, because this is the voice of my emotional understanding. It's pretty young like Blake's Innocence. It doesn't have to be complex or nothing. It's just this voice inside me that rings true for right now, so that's how I'm rolling.
It's also true to who I am.
This Hollywood producer who moonlights as a teacher and spoonlights with poems.
I could write more and make this pretty and fairrly erudite, but as you all know, I gave that all up the moment I read English for the first time. The words not sounding right. The class snickering. My head spinning.
"What's the answer to number 6, Parooz?" the kindergarten teacher asked.
"No!" I said.
"What's the answer!?"
"Do you want to go to the principal's office?"
If she only knew NO was the only word I was capable of saying. If my father and I could learn to say YES at the same time. If facts could exist as MAYBE'S. If NASA could take risks again. If the President of Iran could be my dad. If the President of the United States could be me. If I could write a book and be a Hollywood Producer. If Hollywood could produce my book. If JIM GOAR was a marsupial. If STACY DACHEUX was a chimp. If dinosaurs were Zen masters. If Conan O'Brien were British. If Lindsay Lohan could learn my number. If Tupac Shukar knew Kurt Cobain. If poetry were graffitti. If I could say my name without flinching. If I could flinch when you said NO. If I could flinch at the end of this poem. If I could flinch when you said God. If I could flinch tomorrow. If I could crawl under my desk. If I could say NO again. If I could say NO again. If I could, but I don't.
Johnny could smell her from far off. She was ripped. Johnny didn't mind though. He liked getting ripped. He hadn't done it in a while. Maybe, he would now though. Maybe, they could get ripped together.
"Can you help me?" she asked.
"Okay," he said.
Johnny held her shoulders. He didn't bother holding too tight. He could catch her if she fell. He was a strong guy. He knew that.
"I need some Bukowski," she said, bracing herself against one of the stacks. "Can you see it?"
"That's in the B's," Johnny smiled.
He turned her towards him. He could smell it again. It made him thirsty. Real thirsty.
Bruce Deitrick Price is very clear about what works for him. He offers many of his ruminations on improve-education.org and his personal blogs. Earlier this month, we were able to chat about his process and what catalyzed his writing life.
P: What brought you to writing?
Bruce Deitrick Price: I tend to think that being an artist is like being a priest or an athlete. You're born to it, more than brought to it. In any event, I knew by 16 or 17 that I wanted to be a novelist.
P: Why that age? 16?
Bruce: I don't know why that age. I was writing poetry well before that. I was painting in the 4th grade. I remember reading, probably the summer I turned 17, a sentimental novel by Rudyard Kipling about an artist who goes blind. I cried a lot over this book and decided: "That's what I want do, write books that move people."
P: That's interesting. I had a similar reading experience at 16. I got suspended from school, and ended up reading Dostoevsky's "Idiot" and then every textbook in the storage rooms at school. I remember one of John Updike's stories being particularly moving, and I thought, "Yes, I can do this. It's whatever I want."
What was it about Kipling's Light that moved you so much?
Bruce: The Light That Failed, summer, separation from girlfriend, teenage angst. But I'm sure Kipling did a great job; anyway, he got to me. At the same time, I'm uncomfortable mentioning this because I am not such an emotional artist. Rather more practical or intellectual or middle class. I have little patience with neurosis, purple prose or academic theorizing. Almost my entire aesthetic can be reduced to this: "I want to make new kinds of beauty." This has been a reliable guide in the digital art and the poetry. I can't say I normally achieve this in fiction, although I have nominated "American Dreams" as the Great American Experimental Novel. So that one, at least, was new and somewhat beautiful.
P: That's fascinating. You equate practicality with apathy. And the middle class is non-emotional? I have not ever heard that perspective. When did this idea blossom? This idea of apathetic beauty?
Bruce: Many artists have been drunks, taken drugs, lead extravagant lives, or created in erratic fitful patterns. Others, and this is more my style, get up every day and go, as it were, to work. Trollope, I think it was, got up at 5 AM and wrote three hours before commuting to his day job. It's important, I think, to keep the craziness, the extravagance, for the art itself. Eliot said you can look like an artist or be an artist. Ezra Pound doubtless said, No, I can do both. Point is, I guess, discipline and hard work are good middle class values. I have them and I think they serve me well.
(Assemblage One by Bruce Price)
P: Yes, I hear you. Work hard.
My father used to say "focus like a laser" and "keep your eyes on the prize." He liked those expressions. I can see their usefulness too. It's what got him into his field and made him such a success. It's really remarkable.
Somehow art and calisthenics don't go together for me though. I create because I love it. I couldn't imagine doing anything else with my private time. I dig the sharing.
In business, I tend to pick up my Starbucks Destroyer and shoot lightning bolts, but even that seems a bit heavy handed at times.
Sometimes I wonder about letting things happen on their own. Just being. Making choices. And being.
Do you ever feel like that?
Bruce: I have this nice essay on Improve-Education.org called "MAX your creativity" that deals with experimental approaches to art and writing. Basically this means subverting your normal approaches. The Surrealists figure prominently here; but they made a god of being experimental. Too much. I think you use these tricks when you get stuck in a rut. That novel I mentioned, American Dreams, was written drawing random words from a dictionary. As the essay concludes: Whatever works!
P: Tell me more about the novel. How long did you draw random words before it was an evolving entity on its own? Bruce: I think it says in the essay that I thought I might need a new word every few paragraphs. To my surprise each word carried several pages, sort of a burst. The drawn word is still there in most of the chapters, in the first line. Disclosure. He decided to make a full disclosure. It seemed to be drifting financial, which I didn't like. So I steered it romantic and the rest just wrote itself. My only stimulant then and now is caffeine. And a sort of religious or ceremonial mood I tried to get in each night. I wrote two whole novels this experimental way, but not since. However, I did keep in my memory that sense of letting stuff happen, of being open to the random impulse. As the essay states, these weirder techniques are useful for people when they have burned out or become too logical and rigid. Dancing, metaphorically speaking, is a good aesthetic. If I write poetry now, it's concerned entirely with letting magic happen. How else did I get this:
a poem should electrocute and be hairy like a kiwi fruit
P: Dancing through the process. I love that. Have you had the same experience on the business side of things?
Bruce: I should mention that Nietzsche speaks somewhere of dancing with a light foot. Aldous Huxley quotes Marlowe's "dance an antic hay" at the start of a novel. The Sufis celebrate dancing as a metaphor for ditching the cerebral...All those antecedents are in my usage.
As for the business side, I've never had a 9-5 job and never made a real living, although I was often trying, but in that somewhat scattered way of the artist/intellectual. In Manhattan I had my own little ad agency, and never hesitated to claim I was the best one-man show in the big city. In short, I liked business, and was good at business, and rarely had a client I couldn't help. However, even as I'm doing business and making money, I'm also writing novels that aren't making much money and painting pictures that aren't making much money. In sum, I'm working six days a week and making about what a cabbie makes but having much more fun, I would guess. And that's exactly how my life is today. But with the internet, there are new ways for the scattered artist/intellectual to try to beat the odds. And that is how I came to be interviewed by a stranger in L.A.
There are times when I wish I knew exactly what to say and do to get exactly what I need.
Someone could be like, “Yo, dog, what’s up? You want to take a left?” And I could be like, “Yeah, man. Straight up! Take a left. That’s the way.”
I’m not like that though. I like to mull things over. I might even swish a thought around long enough for it to burn before I’m good and ready to spit.
“Hmmm,” swish-swish. “Hmmm.”
I used to be very clear about the direction. I could see it coming and have time enough to swish and spit. Not lately though. Now I’m in a state of continual questioning.
“Do you like pancakes? Do you really want to dance? Is your mom really a member of the U.S. Coast Guard.” Yes, these are the things I consider. Almost everything. And, then again, it’s almost nothing at all, because every thought itself is being questioned.
“Should I even question my question?” I think.
My dad says talking is bad. He doesn’t like when I have an outpour of emotional confusion or boundary clarification.
“Stop this talking,” he says. “It does nothing.”
“I want to do it for me though. I want to say this.”
“Please,” he says. “No talking. I have so much stress.”
“Okay,” I say. “Then we can talk later.” “No, talk,” he says.
What a gracious guy? He says he’s under stress and doesn’t want to talk, but he doesn’t want to let it go either. He wants to be there.
“What can I do?” he asks.
As I talk about gifts and what they mean to me, and my own inability to accept them, I can hear my words; see them topple down into unnecessary validation.
“I just want to say thank you for the gift. It means a lot.”
“Good to hear,” he says. I could go on to explain my world view and present my issues around the philosophy of gift-giving and how it becomes unnecessary to announce the price tag or pressures to create a gift for me, and how that makes it feel not like a gift, but that’s me getting into his story.
He has conditions. He has checks and balances.
Now why would I go out of my way to try to explain my worldview to someone? Why does it become so important to make that clear? It’s not like his worldview will change. It’s not like people who see life in terms of right and wrong, winning and losing, or success and failure will ever change their minds about it, unless they want to. Why am I so heartbent on making it a point to explain myself or tell anyone anything?
It’s kind of violent if you think about it. It’s just as violent as the act committed against me. It’s simply an eye for an eye, and Ghandi has told us how well one can see after that exchange.
So, knowing that, why would I say anything at all? Why do I need to explain anything I do or feel about things? It’s so unnecessary. But, still, I am compelled to reach out to my family and friends to let them know the minutest of details and show them that I care.
My brother recently told me that he’s fed up with my “I don’t know” standpoint, and that he wants advice and not silence to things. He says he’s fed up with it and it makes him angry.
“And uncomfortable,” he pauses. “I’m done with it!”
I can’t change my “I don’t know” stance. I can’t give advice on relationships. I can’t tell a person what to do. I can’t be a guide on Mapquest to anyone but me. I can swish for hours. I can stop traffic or pull over to wait. I can be a quandary’s quadratic infinity.
“I need answers,” my brother says. “I need no talking,” my father says. “Lets just have fun,” a lover says.
I get stopped. Overwhelmed. Quiet.
“You there?!” they ask.
“Yes,” I say. “I’m here.”
I wonder if getting what you need is as easy as giving others what they want. Why not give answers? Why not stop talking? Why not just have fun? Why not be what everyone wants? RING RING
Hello? Oh, hold on. GO-GO-GADGET LEGS!
It’s hard to be what anyone else wants. It’s even tougher to have expectations of what others need to be.
There’s no way I can change my dad, brother, or lover. I can’t do anything about any of them. I can only take care of me. Only me.
Yes. You there?
What do you want to do tonight?
I want to celebrate.
Because I have a great life, I got a family who digs me, a hot girlfriend, and beautiful me. And even if I didn’t have any of that, I got this. I got this me. This kid from Tehran. This painter, writer, and musician. And even if I didn’t have that, I got this. I got this me who is looking, seeing smelling, and tasting. And even if I didn’t have that, I got this. I got this -
I have no beard. It got shaved off this morning. I don't know why. I just started shaving away. Then it was gone, and I said, "Oh, I shaved my beard."
Most of my colleagues have not noticed. My sunglasses are louder.
"Those are the kind of glasses I'd wear to talk to agents," B says.
I smile. I take off my glasses. I tuck them in my shirt. I order lunch.
"I'll have the same."
I would much prefer a salad with olives or strawberries with vanilla yogurt. I order the cheesesteak though.
"I'm glad you cleaned up from looking like a dirty terrorist," C tells me.
"You know I love you, Pirooz."
"Yes," I say.
Not much else though. Not much of anything, really.
D says that's how it is all the time.
"I don't like it," he says. "Talk," he says.
"Okay," I say.
Now I am quiet. I think about the girl I saw last night. I think about how she wants to get it on.
"Just spank it," M says.
"Yes! Spank it!! Don't think about it. Just spank it."
"No, no!! No thinking! Just spank it!"
I don't argue. I smile. It's good to be spanked. Lots of people get spanked. Maybe, we could spank each other. Maybe, we could turn into a car. It could have an insignia. It could be a hero. It could wash itself. It could drive us home. It could have a button. It could have a button and we could push it. We could push it and hold our breath. We could push it and turbo boost. We could push it and find a planet. We could push it and CONTROL + Apple + Shift! We could push it and float like bread. Push it and OuterSpace. Kick it in our place. Find it, MySpace. Turn it, push back. Feel it, heart attack. Groove, hurry on. Broken this. Held wet kiss. Peace pipe out. Why won out. Why one win. And everything, everything, everything, everything...
I will be selling through Lulu, my house, and then some digital warehouse. It's pretty exciting. One of my favorite records that I have been a part of. Thank you to all the Swingers!! And now, without further adieu, lets hear from a few.
Up first, the engineer, my little brother, the mastermind with buttons and beats, Panauh Kalayeh...
Me: Alright, little dude, you're 19 years old. You've got a gig at Track Record, one of the hottest recording studios in Los Angeles. Now you're starting your own record label. How do you do it? Panauh: I really just try to take things slow (even though i don't), and sometimes I feel opportunities just fall on my lap. It may have to do with the way i present myself...I try to learn as much as I can from older people that have been in the business.
I don't want to say I'm opening up the record label for sure yet but I'm hoping...Then again I'm not relying on this as my only option, this is why I take it for what it is and if it happens cool if not I'm still going to be working with music because I couldn't picture myself doing anything else. I thank God everyday for the blessings he has given me. I am grateful to be working with such talented artists.
Me: Well, said. How about you, JP? What's one of your favorite songs off this record?
JP: Bootylicious is the jam. When the guitar strummin' kicks in and everyone's going, "Bootylicious..." I get warm fuzzies. And you can't beat the yells at the end of the "Twist and Shout" like outro to each chorus. Is that called a bridge? I have no freaking clue. That's why we're called Slipshod, I guess.
Me: Timmery, what has been your favorite jam session with Slipshod?
Timmery: My ultimate favorite Slipshod session was the one when your awesome writer friend and Frank were in town, and I did no singing but I got billigerently and wildly drunk. Goodtimes.