Saturday, November 04, 2006

Dear Anne

Hi Anne,

I'm glad to have gotten your letter. I don't get good mail anymore--just bills and advertisements. What has happened to the letter? Someone told me recently that National Geographic has always come in the mail with a wrapper in brown paper around the middle of it (like porn does, actually). Over the years that brown paper wrapper has become a publishing medium in it's own right, attracting companies to pay to have their ads published on the wrapper for the popular journal. Nat Geo's utilitarian craft-paper packaging has become a lucrative venue for advertisements to the demographic of its readers. I think that this came up after someone mentioned that guy, who used to sell his chest as advertising space, writing a slogan for the customer on his chest with a magic marker. My nose for irony senses that his performance was intended to call into question the notion that anyone of us was anything more than a commodity, that anything can be sacred in this cultural climate. Somehow, on this blog, your letter is closer to the sacrament that I remember letter-writing being when I was younger.

Tariq Ali's performance sounded really interesting. I think that I don't go see enough stuff around here. For some reason, despite living in a cultural mecca, I manage not to attend events around the city--even the free ones. New York wears on its inhabitants in a way that I'm not yet able to describe. It's as if one is perpetually going uphill, or against the current. New Yorkers are always sailing "by" and never "large." (There's my maritime reference of the day.) Anyway, at the end of the day, I'm always feeling like I have just enough time to get home, get half a night's sleep and get up and start it all over again. Christ, I sound like those older cats I used to pity when I was wasn't one of them...

The Kronos Quartet is an amazing ensemble. I have this LP they released where they do a cover of Purple Haze, by Hendrix. It's just insane. I think I also have a few tracks they did for the Heat soundtrack, but I might have lost that CD. I'll have to look for it.

I was in my studio today talking to an artist I met when we were just setting up last month. He's a teacher in the Bronx and has his studio in Park Slope in our building. (I can't imagine making that commute, although I know that it's not abnormal around here.) We ended up talking about galleries and making a living at being an artist. Now, I'm from this school of thought that I got from being in a band where you bank-roll your own project so no one can tell you what to do. But it's really hard not to get frustrated when it doesn't take off--and it likely won't. I was wondering about the gallery system and how it must change one's mindset to have think about making artworks as a commodity to be bought and sold. I guess there's a mainstream in the art-world as well as in the world of rock and roll. I read this article recently (interview, actually) in Neural magazine that mentioned something like: "you have the mainstream, and then you have the mainstream with better haircuts that we call 'alternative.'" That made me laugh because it's so true. Something that's truly new won't sell well because demand-for is predicated on knowledge-of. This is a major flaw of Capitalism, in my book. Systemic mediocrity is not progress--I don't care what the economists say. And things change (albeit slower than they would without this system) because there actually is a demand for the new! There's that familiar smell...

Do people really want to be told what should desire? Is this self-imposed? Among my many crises of the psyche is this nagging feeling that I'm unfulfilled but have no idea what it is that would fulfill me. What is it that I want? Everyday I'm given thousands of messages designed to tell me what I want and how I can get it. Not only do they conflict with each other, but none of them strikes at the core of me and rings true. Advertisements tell me that I want to be rich. I don't want to be rich. Corporate culture tells me that I want to play their game and get good at it to make the company rich. I don't really care. I don't even want the career path they're offering. I've refused promotions because of this. They don't know what to do with me. I think about leaving to go to another job, but I know it will be the same. I'm told I want to own things--and I own a lot of things--but they often feel like boat anchors, weighing me down and tying me to this lifestyle. People want this? When I ask myself, "okay, so what do you want, if not this?" I don't have a good answer. Just not this.

I'm really tired. This must be the reason for my rambling response. I just want to do something important, Anne. But I don't know what's important.

By the way, Celine is well. She's sleeping right now and I think that I shall join her. Sweet dreams, Anne.



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