Archive for February, 2012

Although the boy did not dream of it, everything at this moment seemed about to collapse. To fall, infinitely tumbling into the darkest regions of his world.

Today could be described as a collapse. A day without nets, and one where my intuitive ability to lead (and be lead) has been pushed to its logical conclusion for a twenty year old man-boy.

Needless to say, I put on my manager hat.

I put on the body of a man, the face of a teacher. I look to my students and my colleagues for their help, their attention. I embrace the new world, I greet the old one. I pray for good weather – it rains.

I have no qualms about these days. Life yields sweet and sour apples.

My other prayer, the one I accompany with my ardent wish for the best in humanity, is to grow. That these tiny bruises do not break – but build.

Believe. And continue your story.

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Advice given to me by conceptual artist Brian McCutcheon.

He designed the Out of This World exhibit for the Indianapolis Museum of Art – and last Saturday spoke to a few BSU students about his work and philsophy.

The exhibit combines several different multimedia components and each one is primarily crafted by McCutcheon himself. He emphasized his interest in the blending of fields (TV and Art, father and son, space and dream) and expressed his interest in chasing after skills he didn’t already possess. As he put it, he liked the idea of learning a new skill or finding someone to teach him how to do it.

Hence – follow your idea. Don’t let your momentary inability stop you. As someone who frequently admits to his own accidental placement in projects, I can tell you anything from teaching to documentary filming/editing/acting to playwriting is an act of problem-solving as much as luck or creativity.

It’s also an act of daring. One in which I’m pleased to engage as a matter of recourse for my own individual genius (broad genius – not ego genius). My KVML professor Rai Peterson recently reminded me that a Bachelor’s Degree is just that – a broad experience full of knowledge. I’m keeping to that, encouraging the blending of disciplines educators continually remind me is the way of our future.

Follow your idea – because as cartoonist Jules Feiffer always reminds me… we have to dream, don’t we?

“This idea of wanting to take great risks to achieve flight, looking to the stars…it seems universal…there’s a timelessness to it.” – Brian McCutcheon

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Anyone who knows me is well aware of the degree of nervousness which runs through my very core.

I’m a worrier.

And particularly in the handful of romantic excursions life has given me, I’m about as nervous a wreck as Adrienne Rich (poetry joke).

Today I spent some time with someone I very much admire. This person is very unusual and incredibly unique. What I like best about them is simply the way they talk, and their smile, and the general inspiration and understanding they share with me.

I went in with very few expectations and didn’t leave feeling anything over-the-top remarkable had happened – so simple. But in that simplicity is a world of minor traits which made the meeting fun and remarkable.

There’s something about a person who inspires you – something powerful and attractive. I have absolutely no idea if this could go anywhere, but more important than that is the great time we had together. I’ve never felt less anxious, and not because I wouldn’t like to see more, but because the first time was wonderful.

And I’ll remember that part.

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The nights that I walk home
are the nights that I remind myself
that I am alive and not a rock or a
stone or something with less body
than all the people who slip
through and caress me.

The wind will blow
and press first –
rip open the coat
to expose the chest
then dance through
my puckered skin.

Walking home is one
of the few ways I remind
myself of the point
and danger of being
alive, that is. The sting
of the weekly cold.

Always on the cheeks,
or hands, or places
the body does not
show solely to me.
Still, on the walk
I am cold.

On the walk I am frozen
still as an ice branch.
I will not wake up for
many, many years.
I will not outgrow the
pain, or life or walk.

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There are few.

When I was younger I thought art was a gateway to everything I wanted – fame, attention, and human companionship.

In some respects it still is. The accolades and attention of well made art are one of its crowing glories as a medium of choice.

But also, and far more insidious, is the disastrous effect of illumination on the personal process.

My art has never brought me a strong emotional substitute. It has generated mild interest – mostly bemused entertainment. Art, it is fair to say, has been all too fickle. It has also been my source of strength, resolution, and power.

I never got anything I wanted from art. And that’s perfectly fine. The home it has built for me is all too beautiful, precious, and important.

I hope for your sake art gives you precisely what you need – and if that’s attention – then may you have it in abundance.

I wanted to use art to fill in some of the cracks in my social life. And what I’ve found increasingly is that those cracks were the least of my concerns.

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I’ve gone to Poetry events the last two nights.

Real slammy stuff – also very afro-centric (for Black History Month).

It’s awesome! Who knew Ball State had such talented spoken word folks? It’s got me energized, happy to learn, and just feeling the artistic essence of this place.

Between seeing the Theatre shows all the time, making trips to the IMA and art museum at BSU, seeing speakers, watching videos in the basement of Bracken Library, and just generally reading my ass off – this is the sort of art-filled life I asked for.

Dig into the artistic communities around you – amazing stuff happens every day.

I couldn’t be happier or more refreshed. Or more tired.

But really – more alive.

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I think…

It’s time for a new project. Something for me, that is.

I derive a lot of satisfaction from this blog. That said, I’m always surprised to find anybody else reads it. It tackles the fine line between autobiography and merited expression – tricky, to be sure.

But my life has felt so open this week! With the long-distance pressure of the travelogue now out of the way, I’m getting that itch again. I think it might be time to work on constructing a longer narrative from my list of ideas.

There is only so long you can be idle. And though I frequently opine for more time – secretly, and truly, I can only stay away just a little while.

I hope these small fragments spur you onto something grander. I think life teaches us very ardent lessons on a daily basis – and through reading a few of mine I hope you better recognize the truth and beauty around you. I promise, that would make me very happy indeed.

And thus we begin.

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For once, everything is actually done.

Sure, I have some projects out there. And a tiny essay to write. And stuff to read. And another blog entry.


I’m also done for the moment. I could go to bed right now and nothing catastrophic would happen.

What a beautiful, life-affirming feeling.

Cherish your quiet moments, your moments of pure pleasure. Life can be such drudgery, and you don’t deserve that.

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This is a portion from the Will Eisner biography (A Spirited Life) I’m reading right now:

“P.S. – Lady Luck for the past couple of months has been awful – not even comic book quality.”

This is correspondence between Will and “Busy” Arnold – his publisher.

It nearly broke my heart to read this. For a man as hard working (and legendary) as Eisner to be summarily trashed really wounded me (mind boggling, I know).

But those stories about the early comic industry always portray such a hustle, a verve to be recognized and respected and create good work.

I identify! Totally. That’s the goal – quality material. And I just put myself in his shoes when I read that and – wooh – I felt his pain.

It’s so hard to throw yourself in and truly feel for something, only to be rejected. Hard indeed. And a bit of toughening up I’ll have to do.

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This is a panel from the 2009 book A Drifting Life by Yoshihiro Tatsumi. It’s a drawn autobiography about his influence in the comic-book world.

The fascinating thing in reading about the creation of the comics business from the 1940’s to the 1960’s – in Japan and America – was the tremendous balance between art and commerce created in the fledgling industry.

The same anxiety that Will Eisner felt as a 23 year old kid running “Police Comics” is mirrored in the creation of “Gekiga” comics by Yoshihiro Tatsumi. Or the battles for creative control waged by a young Osamu Tezuka. These situations revolved around young creators doing massive amounts of work – sometimes hundreds of pages a week – in an effort to make the medium profitable.

Beyond that, all three were enamored with the idea of creating bold stories. They drew their strength from their tremendous work ethic and their efforts to legitimize alternative art.

Incidentally, A Drifting Life won the 13th Osamu Tezuka Cultural Award and two Eisner Awards – rather fitting.

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