Tag Archives: outsiders

Affirmations for my Lost, Abandoned, Misunderstood, Marginalized, and Openly Ignored Tribesmen:

Marvin Gaye, 1971:  What's Going On

Marvin Gaye, 1971: What’s Going On

Berry Gordy told Marvin Gaye to not release “What’s Going On”. He told him it would ruin his career. Can you imagine someone telling you the greatest work of your life is not worthy? Could you imagine if someone said that about your children?

Elia Kazan refused to help Barbara Loden make her brilliant “Wanda” – which, in 1970, was ‘the first feature film written, directed, and starring’ a woman which was made independently and won the Venice Film Festival. Kazan was jealous, infuriated I suspect. I am convinced his refusal to have a beautiful woman who could write and direct better than he could – around him contributed to her breast cancer, of which she died of four years later…

Barbara Loden's "Wanda"

Barbara Loden’s “Wanda”

Carl Theodor Dreyer’s original cut of his “The Passion of Joan of Arc” was found in a closet of a Norwegian psychiatric hospital in 1981.  It is widely regarded as Dreyer’s masterpiece.

John Cassavetes first cut of “Shadows” was found in NYC MTA’s Lost and Found and the man who took it – only screened the film to see if it was original pornography. Eventually Ray Carney acquired it (much to Gena Rowlands’ dismay. She always said Cassavetes had dis-avowed the 1957 version, in favor of the second draft he edited in 1959.)

Vivian Maier’s lifeworks as a photographer was never assessed, seen, or appreciated until after her death in 2009. She was perhaps the penultimate Outsider Artist. In the Emily Dickinson sense. In fact, a year prior to her death John Maloof shared some of her work oline via Slattery: the premiere of her work! She is now regarded as one of the most compelling photographers of the 20th century. None of the people she was intimate with or whom she worked for ever knew she was an artist.

Vivian Maier, Self-Portrait..

Vivian Maier, Self-Portrait..

Lesson? Be careful of what you create, what you leave behind, and be aware of the possibilities lurking. Sometimes you have to look in the opposite direction to find what may be truly holy. Make dangerous choices. Stick to your guns.

Only you know what it is that you are doing.

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My Philosophy

dark corners of a dollar bill
the edge of a love poem
the inside of a napkin
reasons we create for believing its all worth it

those who cannot win
(not because they’re unable to compete
but because they know
inside
there’s no reason to)

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A Mark on the Cave Wall

Middle-Paleolithic cave drawing: about 12,000 years ago...

Middle-Paleolithic cave drawing: about 12,000 years ago…

If a junkie can find a way to get high, so can the artist
Do what you must to support the habit
Some transgressions are worth committing if they bring just a fragment of truth
Sometimes the work we create is worth all the pain and disaster,
Worth the humiliation and mockery,
And once in a blue moon it’s even worth the loneliness
So think globally, act locally,
And, if you can,
Create art whose beauty will last
At least as long as man’s ugliness.

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Notes of a Devolver: Part Two

 Illustrations of the Great Operations of Surgery by Charles Bell, 1815.

Illustrations of the Great Operations of Surgery by Charles Bell, 1815.

I was sitting on the cross-town bus, heading east just barely past the park.
It was sunny and the ancient sadness of the fires roared down on us cutting through the trees and grass and the tall buildings sparkled and I remember thinking how pretty – how truly pretty – life was untouched. How amazing a sun, how incredible our land actually is. How important architecture could be…if we were as human as we think we once were. And I remember my stomach griping and bursting inside as if the plastic of my soul was beginning to stretch and finally snap.

Staring out into the sun long enough I always think about the beauty of birth and the horror of slavery. I wonder what the animals have thought. I wonder what the butterflies have thought. I certainly know what the sharks have thought. Sometimes, late at night-early in the morning far deep in the pocket of the twilight, I can hear them burp. And I have no pity for them and I explain this to the Animal Rights People. Believe me, I tell them, they have eaten a great deal more than some people ever will.

It is in the shade, only in the shade, that I can reflect upon myself. As soon as the bus dove back under and the park and the sun and the painful poetry all vanished harshly – and not without cruelty like a gambler’s luck – I am able to hide and die a little in between the tall buildings and skyscrapers which cast the only eternal harmlessness that we can still rely on. They got it all wrong – she or he or it or whomever they were that proclaimed a “little death” is in between our loins and our orgasm. All great fucks are affirmative and they give us sunshine inside where we cannot seem to be touched. A little death is not between two lovers – it is stuck somewhere between our organized madness and the revolving doors of Monday-through-Friday and the urban renewal of more shadows to lurk behind and more sadness to cover your cup.

The bus ride was peculiar as all things seem to be when you’re looking for signs. It was empty and the tryptophan roared.

The old man’s name was Harvey and he had eyes the color of smog-infested snow. At first I thought he might have been blind. His hands were like overgrown claws. His face was etched in a permanent scowl and I expected a gruff, ornery voice. But is was tender and buttery and tended to trail off and get lost in the back of his throat. He had muttered something to his sisters, two well-dressed old ladies, and it wasn’t until he pushed back his cap that I noticed the small hole in the center of his forehead, as if a tiny third eye had not quite grown in.

I looked up and read an ad on the bus: Save Darfur, People Are Dying.
Outside a homeless man struggled with his cardboard box, the wind pulverizing the flaps at the edges and sending endless newspapers into the air. I looked back at Harvey.

“You lost?” he asked.

“No…”

“Oh. You look lost.” 
I didn’t tell him I was going to a job interview. I don’t think I said anything. “I feel lost,” he said. He turned to his sisters, “We’re all lost aren’t we?”

“Hmm,” the older one said.

I got off on 66th street and walked south. Before I reached the end of the block, I turned and looked, as if I knew. Harvey stood at the corner like a face from some ancient circus poster. But with the sun dazzling the way it was I could not tell if he was smiling or frowning and from where I was standing his lips appeared to be two glistening orbs circling and crying out to God knows what.

Angels, demons, we are all the same.

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Notes of a Devolver

PART ONE

Trepanned girl's skull [3500 BC, Nat.History Museum, Lausanne (Rama)]

Trepanned girl’s skull [3500 BC, Nat.History Museum, Lausanne (Rama)]

SUNDAY

I can’t read the news.
It was easier to understand when I was a boy. Now, the writing seems to be just…words.
People who don’t enjoy what they do – never die. That’s cause they’re never born, they simply exist through life and they hang around like gnats, forever. Doing EVERYTHING, buying EVERYTHING, watching EVERYTHING all the while the grip on their soul gives way and leaves a tattered trail of crisp-withered tears like the leaves in a Twentieth Century autumn. 
Crick! Crick-Crattle, Flip! Crick-Crattle, Flip! That’s the sound of a dying man’s soul turning over, changing color, getting older…

*

I’ve already explained to Nancy that I’m dying. I feel myself slipping, the rot setting in between my teeth, eating away at the edges of my brain. Have you ever seen your bliss deflate like a helium balloon in the bleak corner of a public school gym in a working-class neighborhood which thinks it’s middle class? (to be in the middle is to be wedged-in-between, safe within someone’s sticky pages. The top or the bottom – but never, never the middle…)

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Monday

The frantic sea of job interviews and emails and…how hard it is now to even look for work. It has gotten physically harder for transients who don’t want to be transients. Yes, I am one of “those” who don’t have a computer!
And the havoc I have brought upon myself: Bold unflinching masochism!

I’m taking up space. I’m a good person and I try hard and look for the goodness in people (and I usually find it much to the chagrin of most people who act ashamed as if I have found out something about them that they would rather not divulge; I realized being “good” irritates people) and am most grateful when others can overlook my sins or faults and can see a shade, a figment of the man I am trying to be.

But I am taking up space.

And I should either add something beautiful to my surroundings or simply give up the air I am breathing because life – no, the anxiety of life – is simply not worth it. I am ashamed to be part of it. And so I had to say, “YES,” when I was asked because -…Well, because I wanted to be able to tell Nancy I had a job and that I was hired and just once share a moment of victory.

The job starts tonight.
And I need this type of job the way I need a hole in the head.

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