Tuesday, June 28, 2011

last day in the city and my bitterness doth overflow

Nomadic-hobo style Festival Submissions. Cuttin' DVD covers with a knife at a coffeeshop with my backpack and shit laying all over the place.

Look at this guy sitting to my left. There were only two other people in the whole fucking coffeeshop when he came in, and he sat right next to me. (It's a wide-angle lens, so objects are closer than they appear.) I just don't understand some peoples' insensitivity about personal space. Every time I look at him, he pretends I'm not there. Fuck, dude, you're sitting three feet away from me, and you've even pushed your table closer to me so you have to be about one foot from me every time you reach for your coffee. Have you completely blocked out my presence, or are you stupid or what?

He had no idea I was rotating my entire laptop to shine my webcam at him to take his photo. I just don't get it. Does he live his whole life like this? He would be a shitty soccer player if that was the case. For the sake of the gene pool, I just hope it's a general survival mechanism for some people in densely populated areas to block out their surroundings like that.

I wish I had to fart right now, just to see if he would smell it.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

negative space

I love the view from my sister's place. It makes Vancouver look like Norway or some shit like that.

I've been living out of a backpack for three months now. First the Yukon, then Vancouver. At first it was strenuous, but I'm starting to get used to the lifestyle. Humans are nomadic creatures. It is our natural way of being. Babies will only rest when you hold them and walk with them (or simulate the motion by rocking them), because that is how our species prospered for 99.9% of our history - walking, walking, in our mothers' arms, from one place to the next, as our families hunted and camped and slept and walked again the next day. When we are babies, we're not so indoctrinated to forget that nomadic lifestyle, and we require it.

It feels good to move around the city carrying everything I need, and nothing more:

Backpack
4-5 T-Shirts
1 Longsleeved Shirt
3 Pairs of Socks
2 Pairs of Shorts (usually wearing one pair)
1 Pair Underwear (I overpacked - underwear is not necessary if it's summer and you're swimming every day.)
2 Camp Towels (quick-drying, thin and small)
Tent
Sleeping Bag
Thermarest
Sil-Tarp (super lightweight small tarp)
Bit o' Rope
Toiletries
Leatherman (multitool)
Knife
Sketchbook
1-2 Reading Books

...Normally I would pack food, a campstove, a pot, a mug and warmer clothes, but since I'm in the city to work, the rest of the pack is taken up by

Laptop Bag containing:
Laptop
The Economist Magazine
2 Thumb Drives
1 Backup Drive (1TB)
Mouse, Mousepad, Headphones
Digital Camera
Assorted cables to make these things talk to each other.


The dance project is finally finished. Super fun, super challenging and very inspiring. I worked with some great artists who I know I will work with again in the future. The experience has left me with a strong desire to create my own performance pieces. More like performed short films that are edited on-the-spot, combined with sound / music. We'll see.

The incredible thing about creativity is that you don't burn out on it. The more you're creating, the more ideas you have. I guess it's like exercising in a way. If you run every day, you're going to be able to run further and further with each passing day. On the other hand, it's also healthy to have periods of rest to give your muscles a chance to grow and heal.

I think that sometimes we hold on to ideas because it's the 'big one', because we fear that there will be no 'big ones' to follow it up. I don't believe this. There is a bottomless well of inspiration within us. We're only restrained by our own fears; by not consistently exercising the muscles that put ideas into action.

My mind is brewing with ideas for my own work and for collaborations. I'm stoked to get home and start painting.

The only thing missing is some serious bush time. I love to draw people and buildings, but my heart and my inspiration comes from the wilderness. I'm planning a week-long trip along some uninhabited bit of coastline somewhere, to get my head back into my painting-space.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

home

Swimming in the ocean is my daily rite of manhood.
Its wildness forces me to accept and understand my own wildness.
When I am surrounded by its power, it's potential for violence,
My own violence drains away into humility and awe.

I believe that my body now craves that daily battle,
The water burning every inch of my skin,
Fighting the terror of unseen teeth in the murk,
The imagined cramps, riptides,
Drowning far from land.

Too many days without it
Makes my stomach twist,
People feel too close, I get angry,
Yearn for danger, conflict, and physical challenge.

Now that summer is here, I find that a simple dip is not enough. The warmth of the water is a disappointment. (Warmth is relative - I still haven't seen anyone else swimming on the beaches.)

I try to make every swim a challenge. I like it when it's windy and the waves are high. In Vancouver, I would swim far out from the beach, trying to overcome my fears of currents, big boats, sudden cramps, drowning.

One night last week it was too late to swim in the ocean, so I went to a pool at UBC. There was thirty minutes until closing time. With a lifeguard on duty, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to test one of my worst deep-water imaginings. What would happen if I cramped up badly. Could I swim it out?

I swam as hard as I could for fifteen or twenty minutes until my side cramped up, then my right leg. I glanced back at the lifeguard to make she was watching. Yes, she was watching - trying to look calm, sort of staring past me, well aware that I was now struggling - swimming oddly sideways, kicking with only one leg and treading water with my arms.

I tried to give her a calm smile and went about my business. It took me a few minutes of deep breaths and slow movement to swim it off, then I was fine.

Good to know.

(Last thought - I think it's bullshit that Aquaman is depicted as a hairless, fatless young man. Like every other sea mammal, Aquaman should have a healthy layer of either hair or fat or both. That would be way cooler.)

Friday, June 17, 2011

ceilings

Here's a review of Plaything, the dance show I've been working on. Come check it out this weekend or next, if you're in Vancouver. Now that the show is rolling, I can start thinking about my next projects.

Since I first started doing fulltime art about a decade ago, my overall career pattern hasn't changed much - tonnes of big ideas, some frustration that I'm not doing all of them at once, a broad range of interests, all reigned in by a fanatical desire to organize things into schedules and lists.

The result is a tonne of pages of dreams and "TO DO" lists taped on my walls and strewn across my desk.

They go something like this:

NEXT MONTHS' STUFF

June

Market Perfect Detonator Film - website, mailing list, continue festival submissions, send out copies to contributors etc.
Check Motionbuilder / Maya for quadripeds
Talk to Joyce about Mexico etc.


July

Dog installation gig.
Solo camping / sketching week.
Start painting for Sept. show.
Check Banff deadlines.
Start jamming next film for BravoFact.
More PDet submissions.


August

Painting mania for September
Bravofact refine
PDet Fest Stuff.


September

Art show
More dog installation gig
Dogsit
Document paintings for portfolio.
BravoFact submit.


October

Dog installation gig.
Find and contact galleries across Canada and internationally for painting
P. Det show


LATER IN FALL

Next film (quickie)
P Det Submissions Ongoing
Ramp up painting / gallery hunts. Combine with trip(s)?

...

That's all I got for now. Lots to do, always changing. Part of me wishes I could plan further into the future, but I've learned that things change too fast to go much further than 6 months. New ideas and opportunities will arise, other ideas will fall flat, timelines will change. It's an interesting way of making a living, I'll tell ya. You gotta be a bit philosophical about the whole thing, I think.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

riots

I was going to write some stuff about the riots in downtown Vancouver, but then I looked at some nice photos of bright green trees and lush West Coast rainforest, and now I don't really give a shit about the riots.

I will say that I'm excited to have had my first douse of teargas, and that I don't really think the "riots" are a big surprise, or worthy of indignation. What do you expect when you hype up hundreds of thousands of young adult males, unite them under one "tribe", dress them up in the same colours, get them drunk, and set them loose downtown? The male Homo Sapiens is not a peaceful animal - it never has been, and it never will be.

Young adult male readers of this blog - do you remember doing stupid shit when you were young? If so, try not to get all righteous on the Esteemed Rioters - if you were in the same situation, years ago, it might have been you.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

larvae and mothers

video

I like the Northern Flicker. My parents have always had bird feeders and they often attract a good flock of Flickers. From my early teens to now, I have probably had a hundred conversations with my mother about what the Flickers are up to. (Not to mention all the other birds.)

"Those Flickers! They make such a mess of the seeds."

"The Flickers just hog the whole feeder. See them lording over it, keeping the other birds away? Look, Jason, see?"

Northern Flicker. Not my photo.

Anyways, I just watched a Northern Flicker picking at an ant nest between the cracks of a concrete patio. Deftly flicking aside the dry soil and never missing the exact spots where huge chambers of ant-larvae were stored. Munching up the rich white rice-like larvae like turkey dinner.

I kinda miss my mom this morning.

I see her often, but I wish I could be with her right now, standing in their kitchen, looking out the window with her while she washes dishes, talking about birds and the weather and the bears and where she's been walking these days.

Friday, June 10, 2011

the weekend


The Weekend

people talking
more people talking
wishing
missing dreamtime
wanting to fade back into nothing
to drown in salt water
also
a damned fine hockey game


watching the hockey game,

watching people yelling,
getting drunk enough that they struggle to care,
look at him - he's forgotten about the game,
until everyone starts shouting,
he joins in with a whoop,
not knowing what happened.

don't pretend, friend.

...

I have been in the city for five days and I am turning into a grumpy, sour, unpleasant turd. Stay tuned.

two threads crossing

DOWNTOWN VANCOUVER: A few days ago as I was walking across the street, a man in his late forties staggered towards me on the crosswalk, asking for help. He was moving too slowly to get off the road before the traffic light changed, so I held his arm and coaxed him to the sidewalk.

Jeans, no shirt, well-tanned, thick belly and chest, strong arms, old tattoos. He said he thought he was having a stroke.

"I've had two strokes before. My blood pressure is through the roof."

I tried to help him breathe slowly and calm down, called another guy over to call 911, helped him sit on the ground when he felt faint. He had a vacant look in his eyes, and when I held his arms I could tell something was really wrong. His pulse was going crazy.

"Just relax, brother, you'll be okay."

I don't know how many people walked past this guy before I got there - ignored him because he was shirtless and dazed and looking unwell. I saw three people pretend not to see him before I got to him.

The ambulance eventually arrived.

"So you feel like you're having a stroke? Have you had a stroke before?"
The man said he had two strokes before.
"What have you been doing today?"
"I've been drinking rubbing alcohol for the past week."

At this point, the emergency people said I could go.
I squeezed the guy's shoulder before I left.

"Take care, brother."
He looked up at my face and said, "This guy... this guy helped me."

I treasure those chance connections, those moments when the backdrop of the big lonely city disappears and the focus closes in on two people closely interacting for a short period of time. Two humans reaching an understanding, communicating about the most basic, important things with no falsehoods layered on top.

Then the moment ends, we disappear separately into the masses of people and our individual stories continue on from there.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

at least I can hear birds now.

Out the bedroom door. Once I'm back in late June, I'm home for a while. This door will be wide open, and my feet will be shoeless, for 2.5 months straight.

I have two sleeps at home, then I spend the next two weeks in Vancouver without a break. I'm completely drained, and just hope I can recharge my soul somewhat in the next fourty hours before I head back into the big city. I have the place to myself, and I'm not going to do anything but sleep and swim and read. And rotoscope 4,000 frames of dance.

The novelty of working in Vancouver has long worn off. The noises and buildings and masses of people are a nonstop assault on my senses. I'm finding it hard to get my head away from all the stimulation, to get some perspective. Even now that I'm home on this quiet island, my nerves are still frayed, I still feel like punching people in the face. My back is sore from stress, I'm eating shitty food, not drinking enough water, and I haven't slept enough. My life isn't balanced, I'm not taking care of myself, and pimply rosacea has broken out on my face.

Fuck yeah. How's that for the romantic life of the artist?

Good night.

Friday, June 3, 2011

the root of it all

At my first job as an animator, I did a lot of overtime and really wanted to please people (and myself) with good work. A lot of people worked long hours, but you were never forced to do it. One evening, at quitting time, I told one of my co-workers I was staying late, as usual. She packed up to go and as she walked out the door, she said to me something like,

"When you're lying on your deathbed, are you going to look back and think 'I'm really happy I stayed and worked extra hours that night?' Or do you think you would look back more fondly on the couple hours you spent outside in the sun instead?"

I think that one comment pretty much closed the door on my long-hours-studio-animation career.

Since then, I've used the "lying on the deathbed looking back on my life" image many times to make all manner of decisions. Thanks, animator-lady-with-the-red-hair-whose-name-I-can't-even-remember-any-more.

Here's another deathbed tidbit that really gets to the root of it: A dear friend of mine is a nurse in Whitehorse, Yukon. She's seen a lot of births and a lot of deaths. She observed that one of two things happen in the last moments before someone departs their body: Either they become completely content and at peace, or they die stricken with terror, fighting and wrestling, literally clawing and grabbing with their hands to try to hold on to their physical body.

. . .

That pretty much lays it all on the line for me. Everything I do in my life is just a lead-up to that final second in my body. It's about finding a way to exist, even for one moment, without fear, without attachment, with complete acceptance, and surrounded by love.

. . .

I saw a great article yesterday, written by another nurse who has spent years nursing the dying. In her experience, the most common regret anyone has on their deathbed is:

I wish I'd had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.

Every male patient she nursed (and many women as well) said

I wish I didn't work so hard.

Rounding off the Top Five Lifetime Regrets were:

I wish I'd had the courage to express my feelings.

I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.

I wish that I had let myself be happier.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

fuck you, neil young

shitmix combination of the last day's work with a map I made for a tourist

Sitting in a starfucks listening to their goddamned soundtrack -

"old man, take look at my life
I'm a lot like you"


Besides my parents, I've never had many (any?) mentors in my life, and I've never really had any ideas of a life-model that would fit me - unless you count the thoroughly unmodern life-stories of painters I admire from the past fifty to three-hundred years.

But I recently had an idea that seems to work - my mentor is the Vision of Myself as an Old Man.

I imagine being a happy, relaxed, probably eccentric old man, hopefully still physically active, probably more scars on my body than I already have. Wearing shorts and barefeet and philosophizing and painting in a quiet, natural place with trees and sun and birds chirping.

This is the dude I want to talk to when I'm trying to figure out my life.

Since my discovery, I've made little comic-dialogues with him/me. His wisdom is not exactly mindblowing, but I guess it helps give me perspective. Mostly it comes down to "Don't worry about it," and "Stop thinking and relax and just be present."

The comics usually end with Old Man Jay giving me a hand-drawn knowing grin - a wordless signal from the ol' sumbitch to let me know that everything is going to work out all right.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

unintentional haikoo

While biking through Vancouver yesterday, I had a writing-thought about how cyclists are the masters of the urban streets. But now I don't feel like writing about it.

Instead, let me elucidate my mental state with a bit of impromptu poesy:

covered by a dull blanket of greyness
the overcast bullshit sky