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[BKARTS] Eat This Spam

Above The Snow

An artist's rant about a day in the life of noisy desperation.

The artist's life is not a matter of quiet desperation. Quiet desperation is
for Murphy, and Murphy was an optimist. It is either a matter of noisy
desperation or of fabulous riches.

Quite obviously, I have gone around that infamous bend in the road from
which they say there is no return; or perhaps it is only that life is merely
non-Euclidean. Perhaps god is not a geometer after all. When I look back I
can't even see that last of many forks in the road where I took each and
every wrong turn. They must be back around the bend too, in some past life
where everything made sense and mindless joy could be had from any tree just
for the picking.

I've got to get doing what it is I actually need to be doing instead of what
I actually am doing. Although I can barely find the time to do about 1/20th
of what I should be doing just to make my crafty little Artist Book
projects, I also ought to be pursuing the desperate need to spend about two
years on ancillary marketing tasks just to hope for some small chance to
break even, (on materials alone, naturally, and, at something less than
lotto odds) or perhaps to even make some money in the two to five years
following the completion of those tasks and just moments before passing on
to that great recliner in the sky. No doubt the astral recliner is also
broken. Lifetime guarantees are not offered in heaven.

Yeah right, making money, what a concept. Fat chance and slim odds come
under the heading of free market forces. Money would only spoil me. I need
the pain to know I am alive. I need the madness to keep me producing.
Otherwise, I might actually get something done I really do need to get done,
and that would upset some vast cosmic plan. I don't make money because I do
not have the time to make money. I don't have the time because I don't have
any money.

That's called free market equanimity, or economic Calvinism, or the
fundamental laws of social Darwinism, or all three of the above..

I will pass on a secret not found in the King James version: All is not
vanity. All is trivia. I do not believe you will find this tidbit in the
DaVinci Code either. In fact, you won't find much of anything in the DaVinci
Code, not even a plot and certainly nothing approximating truth.

In order to sell artist books I need a real presence in the photography,
poetry and publishing markets. You know, buyers in one market are generally
not smart enough to evaluate art unless some other buyer in another market
has already bought it. Largely speaking, I am so far below the market's
radar that I am in stealth mode. So, even though I am managing to make a few
token books, I am not making the really important books, the ones I want to
be on the self before they scatter my ashes in the Hermosa Beach sewer
system. With any luck, my ashy remains will clog the system for a day or two
before heading out into the polluted waters of Santa Monica Bay.

I am not selling the books that I do make like flapjacks at an IHOP Easter
sale because I have no time to do those pesky ancillary tasks that would
increase my market presence: that is, marketing for trade books, marketing
photography, marketing poetry and taking marketing sales trips. There it is
in a nut's shell.

I can't even keep up with deleting all the spam that someone worked very
hard to send to me. You would think that I at least owe them the kindness of
a reply, but I find that mostly I don't need it, don't want it, and can't
use it. But spam is more that just a clog in the bandwidth. Although I can't
recommend it as nutritive, being tasteless, without fiber and just empty
calories, still it does offer something to do with that first hit of morning
caffeine. There comes a time in the life of the serious artist when even a
virus, a Trojan, a computer worm, or even spam is a welcome visitor.

Something to do is not exactly what I dreamed for in life. But for god's
sake, at least let me have nothing to do for just one afternoon. I dream of
free time. I aspire to boredom.

Currently I am doing none of things that I ought to be doing. I do not have
the time to exercise, take care of my health, maintain vehicles, fix widgets
in the house, replace the kitchen sink, make Flo's home more than my mess,
have a social life or go to the movies. I do eat out, fast food largely,
because it saves time and there is no one there to correct the error of my
ways. Because my health is so poor and because I am old and exhausted, I
take about an hour a day to rest up. Otherwise I am even less effective than
I am expected to be. I call it "rest," when actually it is more like an
involuntary coma. If you find me drooling in the recliner and I am not
responsive to sharp slaps and loud yelling, then pull the plug on the TV. No
heroic measures please.

At night I merely drop into a semi-aware alpha (or is it beta?) state that
most Yogis and Lamas delude themselves into thinking is nirvana. Actually it
only one step above clinical brain death and is too be preferred to most
people's lives.. If I am lucky, in my evening state  I can plod my way
through some mindless manual task that is doable sitting down. But not if it
requires any arithmetic above four fingers or more concentration than
flipping the channels.

I barely have time for fetching beanie-weenies from the market, laundering
my stylish wardrobe, charring hamburger patties, cleaning the commode and
the feeding of cats. My idea of radical socializing is to chat up some
mentally dysfunctional person passing by in their walker in the hallways of
Pacific Inn Assisted Living. I never go to polite gatherings, not invited to
political rallies, parties, schmoozing, readings, lunches, dinners or
cocktails. I mostly talk to deranged cats and psychotic children and act as
knee pads between bickering adults..

Fodder for the old artistic canon for sure and food for thought indeed.

I made a list of things I should have done in the last two years but have
not even started even in my best of future intentions. These things should
have been finished while Flo is still making an income. Flo should also be
allowed to retire and pursue her own career interests and to stay home to
supervise me, but so far we can't afford that, and so she is also swamped
and not doing the avalanche of critical tasks related to her voice-overs.
The do-list reflects only the initial effort and does not even take into
account an ongoing yearly effort. Other than making my few token books I
have not even started on the following:

Significant Book Projects: each year (not including marketing): 6 months per

Marketing For Trade Books: 4 months initially

Photography / Poetry / Artist / Fiction / Prose

Submissions, exhibitions, contests, magazines, publishing, grants, prizes,
teaching, conventions, seminars, mailings, a web site, promotional materials

Marketing Photography: 4 months initially

Sales, gallery representation, magazines, trade books, grants, prizes,
exhibitions, teaching, conventions, seminars, mailings, a web site,
promotional materials

Marketing Poetry: 4 months

Submissions, readings, magazines, making books, selling books, finding
publishers, grants, prizes, teaching, conventions, seminars, mailings, web
site, promotional materials

Marketing Sales Trips: 3 months

Total months behind: 21

What I need us one of those million dollar McArthur genius grants, which
apparently have nothing to do with genius and, like bank loans, you can only
get it you don't need it. When your dreams never come true you might as well
waste your time on big dreams.

And that is why there is reincarnation. So idiots and poets can be many,
many lifetimes behind instead of mere years and decades behind. This is
analogous to increasing the Federal Debt Limit. There is some analogy here
to Reaganomics but it escapes me after 2 in the afternoon.

And this do-list is just scratching the surface. It does not even include
the largest endeavor of all, the creation of new work: photos, writing,
concepts and other obsessive artistic compulsive behaviors. This do-list is
way beyond the mindless stuff that wakes me up at 3:30 in the a.m. and
forces me to get out of bed or else face the horror of just laying there,
staring up at a ceiling I can't really see in the dark and that needs
painting anyway and amuse myself by considering the best methods for getting
off the planet. There is always that next life to get farther behind in: a
sort of a Karmic Company Store.

I do not seem to be able to find any way to convey the magnitude of all
this, or how desperately it needs to get done, and how little of it I am
able to do. It is pretty easy to convey how little the world cares. I am
perpetually amused that movie stars and basketball players have such an easy
time of it. And without a genius grant too boot. I am left completely
frustrated trying to communicate even the littlest bit of the avalanche.
Much easier to take a nap: more productive too. I can always bitch more
effectively when well rested. The best part about a nap is waking up and not
remembering who I am or where to find the do-list. Often, I need extra
caffeine to recover from a nap. Often I tape the do-list to my forehead
before a nap. But then I have accidentally look in a mirror in order to get
on with the day.

These are things I ought to be doing before I end up living in some
dumpster. I am not talking about one of those stylish dumpsters like the
better kinds found in Beverly Hills. I am talking a run-of-the-mill,
behind-the-local-Dennys dumpster. I really have no savings, no retirement,
no income and no prospects. I don't even own my own super-market cart to
collect old pop bottles and store my moth eaten wardrobe in.

I just assume our house will be stolen by the medical extortion racket we
call health care and by the Bush economics that will save me from Osama Ben.
My whole life just might pay for one swanky meal out for Dick Cheney to
Osama to lunch. Like the American Dream, I have also been outsourced. The
ironic part is that it was Toyota who outsourced my job to India, so I can't
afford a car made by poor workers in Georgia, who can't afford a car made by
evan poorer workers in what remains of Yugoslavia. There is theory that
maintains that the Bosnian genocide was permitted in order to remove
automobile competition such as Yugo. In any case, our house is like a well
full of water with no bucket to pull up a drink. Whatever it's worth, it
just does not do us any good now, when it might actually matter. It might
pay for that last half hour in the crematorium oven before clogging the
sewer system.

If I could get a decent toehold in my markets, I might have a chance to earn
my own way, at least until I am no longer physically able to produce, a
little end-game which is also not so far off. I am following in the
footsteps of Pop, slowly declining into potato-hood. One day. I will sprout
and they will bury me in a Pollo Loco potato salad. Every year it gets
harder to stand up straight, hell, just to stand up is a daily triumph. The
only thing a mangled leg is good for is a disabled parking sticker. That,
and fifty bucks, will get you a cappuccino in Shanghai.

It took thirteen years and a lot of wasted time being employed to pay for
that mangled leg, so I guess I've earned the right to park where others dare
not go. Worse, I think there is no escaping the conviction that I have
wasted my life, as well as the lives of others, on something as totally
useless, as totally trivial, and as totally idiotic as art.

It should be remembered, in the case of my actual demise, that the city of
Hermosa owes me one last free trash pick up. Just bag me and roll me out on
any Wednesday morning. Do not let them get away with adding a tax bond to
fund my final disposition

But in fact, like the American Empire, it is already too late to correct the
error of my ways.

The reason I am writing this rant is because there might be someone out
there who is able to grasp the avalanche of work I am not getting done, let
alone not doing all those other little life maintenance jobs that normal
people seem to find the time to get done. Maybe someone will pat me on the
head while I am drooling in the recliner and say "There, there. It's going
to be all right." I do love a really good religious lie. There really is
nothing quite as satisfying as false hope.

So far, I do manage to respond to critical emergency needs relating to
living long enough to see tomorrow's sun rise through the morning smog; the
broken toilets, grinding brakes, leaking roofs, sick cats, crashed computers
etc. But I don't water the trees. Hell, I don't even go out and look at the
trees. I have two standard operating modes: overwhelming, frenetic,
desperate activity or a simple tail spin into mindless exhaustion. I thought
I would just try to explain why I can't seem to get even the simplest of
normal things done. But I am just too wiped out to do a really effective

I've got to take a nap.

I haven't got the time to worry about how I have let everyone else down.

I wake up at four in the morning knowing I have let myself down.

That, in itself, will usually get me out of bed.

One cat is screaming to decompress her constipation on the floor. One cat is
screaming for a morning skritch. One more cat is screaming for chow.

I've got to get the tea water boiling, if only the water distiller worked.

I wish I could go back to bed, but we are out of drinking water.

I've got to pay Mom's bills and I probably couldn't sleep anyhow.

Can't even seem to get done what I need to do to scatter Pop in June, let
alone indulge in the grieving process. No time for big salty tears buddy,
just get your ass in the saddle, grease up the elbows and apply your nose
firmly to the grindstone.

I've got to carry Tinker the arthritic cat to the bedroom for her day long

I've got to make the sixth trip to get Mom moved in and settled down.

Flo is in the kitchen alternating between grumbling and crying because she
does not have time to fix breakfast or pay our own bills.

I've got to fix the recliner which is still laying in pieces on the front
room floor.

I've got to find the keys to Mom's house in Inglewood that I lost someplace

I've got to do something to fix my ripped out shoulder. I lost my shoulder
cutting down four massive trees to save Paul's house from the tax collector.
I do not have time for pain. At last, I can now add lumberjack to my resume.

No time for cooking either, so we drive by six greasy spoons that are either
not open or too crowded. At Hawthorne and Torrance we find a Spires complete
with House Steak and Eggs. Across the street is the Taekwondo shop for
people who badly need to beat up other people, or for people who are afraid
of people who badly need to beat up other people.

I wish I had time in life to worry about who was going to beat me up. I wish
I had time in life to learn how to beat up other people who badly need to
beat up me.

I wish I could afford to worry about getting Botox injections.

I've got to get the prints back from the University of Arizona. They hung
them on the wall, but I never had the time to go to see it. I spent most of
that year driving to doctor appointments for Mom and Pop. Then Pop went
ahead and died anyway. I suspect that Pop was even more sick-and-tired or it
all than I was.

I've got to put a garbage can full of dead chicken and herring down for
Rumtum the cat, unless he is already to full of rump of mouse.

I've got to write the book about Dick Miller. Dick is the only task really
worthwhile doing just now.

I've got to make Jim Lorson a copy of Stone.

I've got to ship the Calendar Of Women to Jack Bordelais.

I've got to select pictures, write poems, design a book, make a book, get
some granite, have it sandblasted and get everyone organized for Pop's
ceremonial scattering.

I've got to order more checks for Mom. This time with nifty stage coach on

Rumtum is blinking his eyes in a post-dead-meat meditation doze.

I've got to take Mom to Vons for that disgustingly gooey nut loaf. For Mom,
anything disgustingly sweet is nature's most perfect food.

I've got to replace my cane that I left in the shopping cart at Costco which
some public spirited citizen promptly took home. We saved five bucks by
shopping at Costco. I lost fifty bucks replacing the cane. Who says penny
wise is pound foolish?

I've got to get the distiller working. Either that, or I've got to go to
Vons and buy a thousand pounds of tea water.

Somehow, I've got to avoid tornados in Kansas, hurricanes in the Gulf,
earthquakes in the Hindu Kush and being poor and black in the Sudan. It is
best in life, they say,  to avoid men riding camels and carrying rifles.

I've got to find what issue of Parenthesis I have some article published in
and get a copy so I can read whatever it was I wrote that is going make
everyone mad at me. Too late now to care who is mad at me.

I've got to consider taking the time for a shower this week. I fear that
some folks may take me for being a might rank, or even homeless.

Everything is trying to kill me. The news last night informs me that I am in
immediate peril of an untimely death with carbon monoxide leaking from
furnaces I haven't paid some professional serviceman to inspect. This tidbit
follows news about a cat giving birth to a mouse. I am not sure I believe
the bit about the carbon monoxide.

The idiot that runs the world tells me I am in immediate danger of Osama
knocking on my front door with a legitimate gripe, a bad attitude and an
incendiary device.

I am supposed to die within moments from things crawling in the

TV ads inform me that I am long overdue for that massive coronary,
testicular cancer, that pesky stroke and a really aggravating headache.

H1N5 is on the way, flapping our way along with buckets of duck shit and air
born HIV. Even ordinary flu nearly kills me. H1N5 will probably be a friend
to old poets.

I've got to get some more vitamin pills. No telling what herb is the magic
bullet. Every morning I open five tea bags and make three cups of tea. I
open two cans of chicken and herring cat food plus the kibble vat and make
thee kitty breakfasts. Then I open 24 different vitamin bottles, some on an
empty stomach and the rest with food. Vitamins have not made me rich and
famous. They have not made me energetic and happy. They have not made me
skinny. They have not made me young. And they have never stopped the flu;
bird, swine or otherwise.

People keep sending me emails about the Bird Flu being nothing more than an
evil conspiracy. I guess they pulled their heads out of where the sun does
not shine and buried them in the sand instead. Probably a more satisfying
olfactory experience. They mostly subscribe to the don't-worry-be-happy
school of Buddhism.

I've got to get on the bicycle before I can no longer hike up the front
porch steps. In two more weeks I will have to crawl from the Van to the
Recliner. But only after I've fixed both the van and the recliner. No
telling how long I will be able to crawl.

Rumtum is on Yellow Alert now. There must be something furry lurking in my
cardboard box collection that requires immediate disemboweling.

I've got to bind three copies of Desert Patterns.

I've got to get to building the patio enclosure so I can decompress my work
space and not get even more things done.

I've got to get the two new laptops up and running and a usable sound booth
built so Flo can work on her voice-overs at home, so she can retire and so
she can supervise my eating habits and so I can record a truckload of poetry
that no one wants to hear.

Oh no, said Alice, it needn't come to that.

I've got to get the web site built and running at godaddy.com. And, I've got
to make it appealing and user friendly.

Then I've got to make a related PR CD Rom. And, I've got to make it
interactive. Then I've got to mail it out.

I've got to talk to the lawyer. I am not sure why, I just know I have
forgotten something that is life-and-death critical about taxes or Mom's
finances or selling real estate.

I've got to get the back-ordered birch casters for the cabinet we've made to
replace the front room coffee table that is in the way of everything. Then
got to fight with Flo about not being able to use it.

In case your wondering, I will lose.

I've got to get Mom finally moved into Pacific Inn and make enough visits to
be sure she is happy in her Human Warehouse. This is called elder care. then
she can decide to move back home.

I've got to activate Mom's ATM card and deposit her refund check.

I've got to get the real estate people moving to sell the house in Inglewood
before Mom goes broke at the Pacific Inn.

I think I've already done the taxes. Imagine that? Well, someone has to pay
for the war on terror. And yet, I find myself terrified most of the time,
mostly of the people who say they are protecting me from terror. Go figure.

I already fed the cats, took my vitamins and checked the emails. Lots and
lots of spam.

My back hurts because I don't exercise.

I've got to get Flo up and running without undue risk to life and limb; mine
that is.

I wish I had a check to deposit. But I don't.

I don't exercise my back because it hurts.

I've got to plug up the wall behind the sink to keep the mice out of the

They should stick to my cardboard box collection, so beloved by Flo, where
the little rascals belong and where Rumtum can easily disembowel them.

I've got to select pictures, make pages and finish one bound copy of
California Landscapes.

I've got to scan images, write poems, translate Archilochos, design pages
and finish one copy of In The Silence Of The Gods.

I've got to deal with the Torrance Courthouse about my latest brush with the
law. The traffic extortion racket, in collusion with the insurance racket
and men with guns, is chasing my sorry ass through the badlands of the DMV
and the jurisprudence system.

I've got to get the recliner fixed before it breaks my back. It's a case of
do or die; it's either the recliner or me. In any case, my back is not a
happy camper. I can't fix the recliner because my back hurts.

Rumtum the cat is on Orange Alert now. Certainly there is a mouse scurrying
about in immediate need of three hours of torture followed by being eaten
alive, which my fearless elected officials inform me, is now quite the
fashion. Rumtum, at least, does not document his atrocities with snap shots.

I've got to get the tape-to-DVD recorder set up to make Mom copies of home
movies. Mom misses her life. Who can blame her. When Pop died he left a hole
that I can't fill with any number of shovels.

I've got to send a copy of Desert Patterns to John Randle in England.

I wish I could go to a movie. But they just don't make them like they used
to, I can no longer understand the dialogue and I can't afford the popcorn

I've got to take out the trash.

Someone stole my parking spot across the street. At least I won't get a
parking ticket on street sweeping day now.

Somehow, I've got to get to the Ansel Adams gallery in Yosemite. I've got to
replace the book they haven't sold in the last three years with another book
they won't sell in the next three years. I had to cancel twice. First we got
the flu, then we had to take Mom to the ER for a fun-filled weekend. I have
snow chains and four wheel drive and no place to go. By the time I get there
the snow will be a muddy slush and the pictures won't be worth the

I've got to explain to the whole world why I am such a lazy, shiftless

Then I've got to remember to eat lunch. I ought to eat steamed veggies and
boiled chicken, but a belly bomb from Carl's Jr. will have to do.

I've got to fix the flat tire on the van. There is nothing as much fun as
laying in a cold drizzle, on greasy asphalt, busting your knuckles on lug

I came in this afternoon to find Rumtum munching on the last half of a
mouse. No one plays kissy-face with Rumtum. God knows where that tongue has
been. It is imperative to take the time to clean and disinfect the blood

I'm worried I have forgotten something that I am supposed to do this

Turns out the flat tire is not reparable. I've got to buy a new tire to move
the van in time to not get a ticket on street sweeping day.

Good god, look at the time.

Oh well, it's been nice chatting.

I've got to get busy now.

When you are surfing the avalanche,

you would be well advised

to stay above the snow

and in front of the wave.


The Guild of Book Workers' Centennial Celebration:
October 12-14, 2006, New York City, New York.
For all your subscription questions, go to the
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