Tag Archives: art

Art, Mourning, and Immortality

Yesterday marked Edgar Allan Poe’s 207th birthday. Every year, I write a note on Facebook or Twitter (I think last year there was even a blog) thanking him for sharing his works, for influencing my own. How I try to honor his gift in my life and in my work.

Monday marked a week since David Bowie died (which is still bizarre to say/type/consider or accept as factual statement). I woke up to a text from my sister apologizing for the “sad news” I was going to hear and–in a run-on statement–asking if I could pick her up from school. Another text just read “David Bowie WHYYY?” I didn’t bother putting my contacts in and pulled up Twitter to find out that a man I’d adored since I was child was no longer with us.

I can’t remember being so greatly saddened by a celebrity death. I guess Bowie is, technically, my first. An mourning an artist is a strange state. I spent Monday in a haze, intermitantly sobbing, debating if I could watch Labyrinth (I couldn’t), and trying to imagine what the world would be like now that it had lost some of its glitter. Everyone dies, so it’s not like I didn’t expect it one day, in the distant future, but if anyone was going to be immortal, it’d be him.

Labyrinth was my first introduction to Bowie. We had it recorded on a VHS off the television, then I finally got the official VHS one year for Christmas. I wore both out. I’ve since upgraded to DVD, including the 25th Anniversary version. Let’s be honest, I’ll burn those copies out, too. I watch it at least once a year.

It’s always been a dream of mine to one day write my own version of Labyrinth.

I used to dance around to Rebel, Rebel while putting on makeup. There were, of course, periods of time where I didn’t think of Bowie, or listen to his songs. When he released Next Day a couple of years ago, I was not so secretly hoping for a tour. Not a big tour. Just the major cities. The man was in his 60s, still young. I’d have paid anything to see that show.

And then Blackstar happened. I saw the link for the Lazarus video on Facebook and didn’t click it. And then he was gone.

I know I would have seen the signs if I’d looked. Maybe. There’s still part of me that would have been in reasonable denial. Afterall, The Goblin King isn’t bound by the rules of mortals.

Underground popped up on shuffle the other day, and I ugly-cried in my car. I did better with As The World Falls Down. Work Radio added Let’s Dance to their mix along with Under Pressure. I stopped yesterday afternoon to just listen, despite being half an hour past the end of my shift.

It’s strange to mourn someone you only knew through their art, especially when the world as whole is mourning with you. There’s some comfort in that shared pain, makes you feel less… silly for crying over someone you never met. I didn’t know David Jones, but David Bowie taught me the importance of embracing my strangeness. If David Bowie could make being David Bowie cool, then I could do anything.

So Tuesday, I put on glitter and faced the world and did whatever I wanted to do because I wanted to do it.

In a little over a week, he’s gotten a lightning bolt-shaped constallation named after him. Other artists and actors and people are coming forward to share stories. He finally had a Number 1 album in America. He turned his death into something so artistically powerful, you can’t help but marvel at it.

In the end, he did achieve immortality. Art allows everyone to live forever.

I’ve been struggling over the last couple weeks with completing the plot for The Current Project. Turns out what I needed was Bowie. If this book makes it into the world, I hope you find him in it.

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Occupy Wallstreet: The Follow-Up Blog

Given the nature of my last post, I felt the need to follow it up with what I found Sunday, as I was doing a piece on a local festival.

The thing I found while interviewing people, the one thing they had in common was that this whole “lack of jobs” situation is FINALLY inspiring the unemployed to start doing something they love and starting their own business. There are hundreds of thousands of entrepreneurs saying, “Well, I went to college to be a chef, but my passion lies in making jam. I’m going to start my own jam company,” or “I spent 15 years working the 9-5. I’m going start making pottery.”

Almost everyone said that starting their own business, while difficult, has changed their lives for the better. They do what they love, and even if the people attracted to their wares don’t have money to spent on barbed wire art, they appreciate the art, and spend hours looking and “picking out” pieces.

I do understand the hardships of being unemployed, though not directly.

My dad was one of the lucky ones. He was unemployed for five month before TWO companies hired him. He was willing to take the pay cut, and now he’s at Emory University doing maintenance work. It’s what he loves to do. Rite-Hite, a dock leveler company, wants him to, and he has a job as soon as they finish building his service truck. Whether or not he’ll leave Emory is up in the air. He really enjoys it.

Though I have two jobs, my dream in life is to write, and I’m doing it, though I’m not making any money. It’s part of the reason I blog: I want to chronicle my journey dealing with breaking into the publishing world on my own. I want to reach out to others like me, who want to be writers but are intimidated by major publishing houses, or don’t think they can make it on their own.

I think there are a LOT of positives coming from the OWS campaign, even if things don’t change, or don’t change immediately. Even despite the ignorant participants who don’t know why they’re there, or think it’s all fun and games. Despite the few who are foolishly taking things to the extreme. I love the fact that so many different people, from all backgrounds and experiences, are coming together and sharing their stories and standing for something they believe so strongly in, the campaign has survived for a month. Even the organizers didn’t think it’d last that long.

I still encourage people to look at OWS and actually learn what it’s about. If you live in New York, go down and talk to people. If you in the other protesting cities, go talk to people. If you’re an art student, go outside and draw. It may be that nothing will change, but this protest is no less important.

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Occupy Wallstreet: Why It Isn’t Just Hippies and the Unemployed

I don’t foray into politics often, but every now and again, something happens to rile me up. NYC is 30 days into Occupy Wallstreet, and although I’m not physically part of the protest, I support them 100%.

The best information about Occupy Wallstreet can be found here. This is the official campaign website:

The thing that’s causing such an uproar are the cops. The protesters aren’t rioting, they aren’t picking fights, they aren’t spitting racial slurs, and they’re not preventing other people from going about their business. The cops are pepper spraying, beating, and harming the peaceful protestors. And many of them have been caught on camera laughing and joking about it.
There are food donations being taken, entertainment, a library for the people who are dedicated to the cause. The issue stems from the fact that billionaires and millionaires pay NO taxes when the middle and lower classes are taxed to death. I see the break-down of non-optional money drained from my paycheck every week and I don’t think it’s fair that I’m being taxed while people who can afford the taxes are exempt.
I’m in debt because I chose to go to a private institution for my degree. At the time, it was the only school that offered Graphic Design as a major. When I changed to English, yes, I could have transferred, but many of my credits would not have transfer with me. I had a $42,000 scholarship and maintained it for four years, on top of the HOPE, which provided an extra $3,500. I had a two-year, $2,000 dollar art scholarship as well. I didn’t pay for a meal plan.
I’ve been working since I was 15. I saved for my car, which will be paid off in May. I worked through college, and I’m working now. I have two jobs to supplement my income, I have one credit card which I use once a month for gas and pay off entirely. My student loans and car payment are the only debt I have. I live below my means, which doesn’t mean I can’t spring for the occasional concert, but does mean that I don’t go wild with my money.
I made logical decisions, and I’m being taxed for things I’ll never use. Social Security will be gone by the time I’m able to use it. Money is being taken from me when it could be taken from those exempt from payment. Why are they special, just because they managed to achieve financial security? Does anyone even know what a CEO does to earn that 7-figure salary?
I’m not saying the rich should pay MORE taxes; I’m saying that they should pay taxes, period.

Molly Crabapple's Vampire Squid Protest Design

And for the few who feel it’s silly or hypocritical that those people are protesting while using iPhone and shopping at Whole Foods, possessions and where you shop has no political merit.
It’s not about possessions. I have an iPhone, but that’s because I bought it from a friend who was upgrading to a different phone. I only spent $40 bucks on it. What you own and what you use don’t have anything to do with the reasons they’re protesting. You can’t say they’re hypocrites for having iPhones when you don’t know whether or not every one of them bought the phones new. Facebook isn’t a political forum either. It’s not a service you pay for, and Facebook is rapidly becoming the best and fastest means for communication. Whole Foods is expensive, yes, but for people like me, who are vegetarian or vegan, or who have various allergies, like gluten allergies, Whole Foods is one of the few stores that provide vegan/vegetarian/gluten/whatever free alternatives. I work in a grocery store and I can honestly tell you that there aren’t many options in commercial companies like Publix. Veganism/Vegetarianism is more than just eating veggies, just like being allergic to gluten doesn’t mean you should have to suffer food with no flavor or substance.What’s silly is defining people by what they own, what they wear, and where they shop. I dropped a good bit of money on new clothes for this journalism job because I’ve spent 90% of my working life in uniform. I don’t have anything. These pieces were an investment, and I won’t need pants again for a while (pants are the major expenditure). That doesn’t mean I shop only at department stores. I hit up thrift shops, consignment, places like Ross and T.J. Maxx. Sometimes I find something, sometimes I don’t. Just because I carry a Coach bag doesn’t mean I’m not in financial stress.
(I do, in fact, have a Coach bag. It was a Christmas gift I got at the Outlet with 80% off coupon. It is the only purse I own. It has a lifetime warranty and looks professional, unlike the Target clearance purses I used to own.)

The Great and Powerful Amanda Fucking Palmer

As for it being unemployed, homeless bums; no. It’s working people. There are accountants, and business men, as well as artists like Molly Crabapple, and musicians like Amanda Palmer. More and more, people are forgoing traditional jobs and starting to build their own businesses. I spoke with several people today at the festival I covered who lost their job or fell on difficult times and started making soap, or barbed wire art, or pottery, or jam. The downturn in the economy is allowing people to make their own jobs and let them chase after what they love to do instead of what they have to.

You all know that I’d write stories all day long if I could. The closest I’ll get right now is journalism. That doesn’t mean I’m not pushing for my dream, it just means I’m paying the bills until it happens. In that same vein, why should I be taxed for making my own way? Why should I have to shell out my earnings to a government that didn’t assist me, that didn’t work for it?

And even if those involved are unemployed, who better to protest than the downtrodden, who are STILL forced to pay when they can barely afford to eat? I did what I was told, got a degree, and I’m facing down debt that I need two jobs to manage. Most of my graduating class are either unemployed or under-employed, working retail jobs, which is NOT what we earned degrees in. Some of them can’t even find a cashier’s position.

I think as a whole, OWS is a good thing. It’s bringing people together and finally making people realize that we’re a community, no matter what states we live in. That we have the power to cause change in the country. No one should be exempt from assisting their community.
You don’t have to occupy. If you want to help, there are food services and clothing ops that could use donations. Reblog, retweet, get out there and play your guitar for the masses, read poetry on the streets, but don’t sit idly by in ignorance.
In the end, it’s your choice. In the words of Amanda Fucking Palmer:
INCREASED PARTICIPATION DOES NOT DILUTE THE MESSAGE. INCREASED PARTICIPATION IS THE MESSAGE.”

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