Sunday, April 04, 2010

The Shadow of Your Call


Lots of songs in this post you need to listen to!

Today, something happened to me that also happened in my 8th grade art class. Yes I can, for whatever reason, remember every gory detail of my 8th grade experience. And if your 8th grade days were anything like mine, come, come and join me on the pity pot. There's plenty of room...
I took that class with one of my best friends, Cathy Smith, and we constantly got in trouble. My art teacher, rather than supporting my creative and effete ways, like I had hoped she would, chose to hate my guts, and punished and humiliated Cathy and me unmercifully. I refused to ever step foot in another art class until my senior year, and that was only because I had moved to another state. I was glad I did because that art teacher went above and beyond her duties to help nurture my gifts, such as they were.
Her art class was so amazing and wonderful that I was sad when I thought of all the great classes I could have taken over the years, and vowed, when I was seventeen, to always go back and try again, no matter where, no matter what.
Anyway, back in 1979 in my art class, Cathy wore an actual YMCA t-shirt over her Village People t-shirt, and I of course noticed it, because her shirt was slightly transparent and I could see the fun-house effect her boobs gave the iron-on transfer of the guys in the band, and we of course found it hilarious and wouldn't shut up about it until we (of course) got yelled at.
So, as an homage to Cathy, and cunty art teachers everywhere, I wore my Yo Japan t-shirt over my Harajuku Lovers one today. I just thought you should know that....

Hmm, how do I ask you have a certain place in the world where things happen to you? Meaning whenever you set foot in some particular spot, your life changes? I have a few. Whenever I go to Milwaukee, something shitty happens. Well, I should clarify that statement and say whenever I go to Milwaukee to have fun, something shitty happens. These days, whenever I have to be there, I try to fend off any bad juju by I reminding myself in the form of a mantra exactly what I am doing there: Catching a train. Taking a flight. Just passing through! Please no one throw a turd out the window at me!
I guess I can't say every time, because nothing much happened when I saw Coldplay there a few years ago, although I'm sure some would argue Coldplay is it's own punishment. My other areas are St. Mark's Place and Battery Park in New York. The St. Mark stories I'll save for another day, but suffice it to say instant karma exists on that street for me, rarin' to go, brass knuckles hidden in her fists.
The first place I ever sent foot in New York was in Battery Park. It was a lovely spring day in 1980, I was with my family, and we drove down from Connecticut after much begging on my part. Being a fan of the late seventies music scene, especially Blondie, and loving the very unromantic picture they painted of New York urban life, well, I just couldn't wait to see it for myself!
Also, back then I saw New York as a place that fostered and encouraged people to be themselves, or whatever they wanted, and I longed to be there, because I wasn't safe being who I was in my stifling little town. Thank God SNL beamed all those weirdo bands into my life in the late seventies, and Night Flight exposed to me more of New York's liberated underbelly, and LA's as well. La cage aux folles, as they say.
So who is the first person I see, sitting alone on one of Battery Park's winding benches, wearing red glittering jelly shoes, tight blue jeans, and a shirt that was more blouse that shirt, but Jobriath. (Clear plastic shoes and clothing, sprinkled with a touch of glitter was a short-lived trend for the mega-cool in 1980, but I still feel the need to reach for things like this.)
That is exactly what I want to be! My brain screamed in my head, as I craned for a better look, a longer look, without my family noticing. He sat casually reading a book with body language that said: Yes, I'm wearing a silly outfit in the park, and I'll be wearing something silly tomorrow, and that's because I live in New York, and I can do what ever I want, without fear of retribution. Ho-hum, licking my finger, turning the page...I wanted to be him because he was comfortable in his own goddamn skin.

I actually didn't know of Jobriath until Morrissey started talking about him a few years ago, and when I saw that little clip of him as 'Cole Berlin', it became Jobriath in my mind who was sitting on that bench way back when, because for years I wondered about 'that guy in Battery' so to put and end to the question, I decided the answer was Jobriath. Ask, and ye shall receive...

So to tie these stories into my continuing saga, of which I have been neglecting of late and promise to be better, by picking back up in the spring of 1992, when I moved out of the transient hotel and into 420 Wrightwood. That is the place where my life started to change, and I of course, remember every gory detail of that, too. One day in mid April I just could not take where I was living any more, because I finally saw I wasn't like most of the people there, who were either running out the clock, or victim to their addictions. I had spent so much goddamn time imaging the world without me in it, it was time to imagine something else.

So I walked over to 420 because I remembered my old friend Candace used to live there, where upon I met Lois, the building's manager, who with a burning cigarette perched elegantly in her inelegant hand, showed me their only available studio. The apartment building had been built as a hotel in the twenties (you know how I love that) and converted into apartments in the 40's, for returning GI's, I would guess, and very little else, as is typical in my Chicago apartments, was different. Though instead of putting in new kitchen sinks, they found a stock pile of sinks from 1905, and the fridge was fresh off the assembly line in 1966, but the original 1940s linoleum was in good shape. After I moved in my two bags, it took me all day to clean under the Buick-like stove because it seemed I was the first to do so since nineteen fucking seventy. When I was finished, I sat on the carpet in front of my sliding french doors, and watched the rain fall on my little balcony, smoking menthols and drinking tea, happy with my new life. My fourth floor view looked to me what I imagined Florence would look like, what with all the church domes in my view. But what my eye kept coming back to, over and over, was the rather large inscription etched in stone on the side of the building out side my window: Ye Shall Know The Truth, And The Truth Will Make You Free...


do or die
world without end
art teacher (for ms. t)

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