Monday, September 02, 2013

in the end

 There are two.....what would you say?  paradigms? which have led me through life.

Two Over-Guessed-At Sums, 2013, oil on wood.
The first, introduced to me early-early in my education, is the notion of using "every part of the buffalo" as we were taught the Plains Indians did.   That concept has long define my interaction with the material world.  It was actively in mind as I worked on the various things leading up to what ended up in the Drive-Thru exhibit (which was just de-installed today)

I'm reminded now of the time I was introduced to pig's knuckles (think), the serving up of which was preceded by the proclamation in spanish that "In Peru, we use every part of the pig."  The aroma coming off those things was overwhelming and seductive.  I can't smell them anymore, but thinking of that sense memory has my mouth watering.  I took a healthy portionof the seemingly succulent squat weiner-esque morsels .  The eating, or I should say, the chewing was a whole other experience.  Cacophonous was the grinding racket in my head as my teeth went beyond the point of what had been established in my childhood as chewable.  In chicken eating parlance, the gristle on the leg is the no-go zone.  No, it isn't bone, but it's not something you want to spend any time on.  Gristle gives just enough tactile resistance to convey the message "l'm not chewable, therefore I'm not edible, so move along to easier pickin' tissue".  These porkthings I faced were nothing but gristle - beautifully browned and aromatic gristle.  And polite, gracious, guest I am, I fought through the wall of my own limitations to the end of that handful I had eagerly horded with anticipation. .......

and, we're back....
The other of my guiding philosophies is a sentiment I lifted from the film What About Bob,  'If I can make fun of something negative, I must not be suffering from it'.  I say sentiment, because the actual quote is different, as seen from the passage below, which I found on IMDB:

Bob Wiley: You ever hear of Tourette's syndrome? Involuntarily shouting profanity?
Dr. Leo Marvin: It's exceptionally rare.
Bob Wiley: Shit-eating son-of-a-bitch! Bastard, douche-bag, twat, numb-nuts, dickhead, BITCH!
Dr. Leo Marvin: Why exactly are you doing this?
Bob Wiley: If I fake it, then I don't have it.

There you have the two, broad-brushed, guiding principles of my existence.  A third prevailing value to which I adhere is that anything, any topic can be funny.  Any subject, no matter how tragic or disturbing can be laughed at, or at least derided dispassionately....  Eventually.

I just finished reading I'll Sleep When I'm Dead: The Dirty Life and Times of Warren Zevon, the biography comprised of first-hand accounts of those who knew the man.  In reading this book, the above principles of mine kept coming to mind; the first, because of learning how Zevon pulled song titles lyrics from his lived experience, and the second (and third), because of his career long pursuit of invoking and provoking of death in his work.

 I'd never known that much about him, but the Excitable Boy LP cast a mysterious and alluring shadow from my dad's shelf of records onto my youth.   From the first time I spun that disc for myself, Zevon himself filled some dormant but unflagging presence in my mind.

One thought that kept occurring to me as i read was that compared to the relationship exploits and foibles of our man Zevon which could be very raw and rather bleak at times, how could any past girlfriends have as many gripes out issues with me as a companion as they have had.

As bleak as it read, and as fucked up as this dude was to those around him, there is inspiration to be had in how he carried himself as a creator and in the body of work he left behind created a body of such a direct and brilliant character.

When it was first released, I watched the VH1 documentary of Zevon's last days as he recorded his last album The Wind.  I was affected by the portrayal of this man who had in his sights his own impending exit and he was working as feverishly as possible to do as much of this stuff that was most important to him - writing and recording music.   This appealed and continues to appeal to me, and I admire the way he approached this end, even as he did it with the largess of his prodigious human failings in tow.   I have the documentary on VHS somewhere...and I just re-watched it, in parts, on youtube.

Reading the account of this later period of his life had me weeping.  It also informed the elegiac tone of the film, making clear that facing his approaching death brought forth the more material (drugs, booze) that he'd been able to put down decades before.

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