I have. And I’m still standing. I look at this portrait and remember. Khaki shorts, a red hoodie with the sleeves cut, always a back pack. Pencils, sketchbook and a book in tow. Cruising A1A, in the morning hours, the marsh washed, in an array of pastels. People. Louise Freshman Brown, Paul Ladnier, Judy, Biz, the woman that I pushed into tears. Trips to New York. Getting off The Path in New Jersey. it was slightly snowing. I was hoping someone would attack me. Kind of the same feeling I would get in Publix, only more intense. I use to leave my pocket book, in the cart, a little open. And hope someone would try to steal it, so I could chase them down and beat the hell out of ‘em. Bernard Marco, and his insanity. His money and his good taste. His fireplace that he had reworked, into a polynesian face, with a mouth, wide open. Cleveland Brown, his eighteen year old friend. He was eighty.. We did a photo shoot. My photos are somewhere. He changed my world, as many people did. I drove his BMW. We sailed on the river, Bernard, Rooster, Cleveland and myself. The captain’s wife said,”oh it’s nice, you brought your granddaughter.” He was a bit of a last straw. He had found a gallery for me, in New York. The same one I saw, and said, oh that’s where I would like to be. He told me how to paint, and what to paint. I was advised to do the dog and pony show. Hell no. That’s not my poison. If life is a trail to an end, why would I want to do that? My life is my own; his poison would kill me. Poison is personal.
Walking into Van Den Berg studios, I thought, I don’t belong here. I was early. I fled. I came back an hour later and there were people. I had a great time. That’s another portrait. Cutting silk, painting designs. Being paid in clothes. Yet, another trip to New York. A photographer. The one who created photography books; the owners and dogs were twins. She was famous, she was awesome. I can’t remember her name. Diane, something.
Endless hours on the telephone. Philosophizing, resisting, complaining about people and their mindless consumerism and debt, and a bird needing to look like a bird. For God’s sake. What’s wrong with these people. Now there’s Netflix. One philosopher got drunk on vodka for twenty years and the other, sat on the couch.
Thai food, sushi, hummus, art shows, hair dos, dreads and a one inch, blonde spike. A rat tail hair cut, wrapped by a menagerie of scarfs. I cherished my scarfs. I found them in a drawer, two days ago. Along with the rest of my life. One barn down, one she shed to go.
Yards to clean, flowers to plant, meetings to attend. People to talk to, people to listen to. More art to see.
Now I’m writing, since 1987. The skinny boy dominates; him and the pocketbook pistol woman. The Boss. I couldn’t go down their path. Their poison did not look good to me. But sometimes it did. It was nice cars, big houses, money, noise, lights, music, laughing, job conversations. Responsibilities and dancing. A lot of dancing. My energy just doesn’t flow in that direction, but sometimes it did intersect.
No one thought I should keep painting. They might as well have been Sister John Helene. How did all of those other kids, know how to draw those flowers, and those trees. I don’t really care, because I had my black butterflies and they didn’t. I was a first to third grade, goth- scientist, mimicking stories I read in Child Craft books. Those books were my parents. There were 21 of them. Orange and Black.
I had my beach house and then Stormin’ Norman changed all of that, with his heart attack. As my Isolated Head Phone Woman was being delivered to the junior college, he didn’t decide to run through my house. I never counted pennies again.
I decided to surf. No paint. Only mad cats and cocaine neighbors. Peruvian, South American Mobsters in bathing suits, clay roads and a car on the side of the road with flowers growing out of it. One day it disappeared. Volcanoes, dead bodies, beautiful people and exotic landscapes. My eyes were always painting, composing voluminous non-existent pointless, paintings. I took pictures. I played music. We told stories. Squatting by the ditch, in front of the house, burning trash.It was glorious. Playing my mandolin, with the Tequila Shooters, I was throwing that water back. One shot at a time.
Bang bang. The club I would have loved to be in.
I surf, and I travel and I am responsible.
What else is there to do? Fish, swim, listen to ignorant people
absorb the words of the wise.