IDEA THIRTY-TWO: Throw out anything you haven't used within the last year.

One of the things I've come to believe in is that it's important to live lean if you wanna make art that packs a PUNCH.

I find it necessary to get rid of unnecessary distractions. It's hard enough for me to finish anything without a lot of STUFF getting in the way. Of course, at the end of the day, all art is a distraction on some level--the making of it and the experiencing of it is, at its essence, a beautiful waste of time. So it's important to carefully seperate the so-called useful from the so-called useless in such a way that will avoid future tears and despair. Everyone fears the moment of realizing that something priceless is gone for good. That's how I came up with the formula that I get rid of any tools, materials and randomly collected items that will supposedly inform a piece of art within a year of procuring them, if they are not put to actual use.

Beyond the art clutter itself, this philosophy should also be used for clothes, appliances, furniture, mementos, shoes, table settings...significant others.

I think that by doing this I have it in my head that one day I'll whittle my life down and clear the space around me like the kid who lived across the hall from me in college. He was a hipster from Cali back in the mid 90s before there was such a thing, but he had it DOWN on the prototype tip: the dark blue jeans, the fucked up boots with flaps sticking out, the assymetrical bowl cut hair that looked like it was cut with carpenter scissors. He had the right kind of heavy-lidded eyes and crazy bedhead hair. He was a quiet drunk who was always covered with bruises and cuts. He wore a grey fedora along with his usual uniform of white undershirts and jeans and slept with a rotating roster of attractive black women... One nite in spring I ended up drinking with a bunch of folks i didn't usually hang up on the dormitory roof, a big security no-no. And for good reason--the roof was a collection of slants, nooks and crannies, any one of which I feared was waiting to trip me and send me over the side. I tried to play tuff, but thankfullyl we didn't stay up there long and went back to his room. All the time I'd lived across from him I'd never been inside, and I was surprised by what I saw, or, I should say, what i DIDNT see. There was nothing in it except for an old fashioned black typewriter and a stack of white paper that both sat atop the university issued desk. Otherwise the room looked exactly as it had the first second he walked in. I know because my room across the hall was a copy of his and seeing his gave me a flashback of that first instant in my own room, before my posters went on the walls and my books and boxes and clothes and CDs got scattered all about in their various piles.

Damn, i said, cradling my 40 bottle like a baby...is this all yr stuff?

No one answered me. Someone was playing a guitar...someone else threw a bottle against the wall.

We laughed and smoked cigarettes and stared at the bubbling mess of broken glass. Someone had a boombox playing a mixtape. That was back when everyone was into Palace. We blasted "Cat's Blues" and sang along to Will Oldham's psychotic twang, screaming the lines, "If I had a clue what justice was, it would be more than I deserved" and at that moment my prototype hipster neighbor threw open his closet door to reveal a ferreal American flag brightly unfurled down the length of it. Before I could register what was going on the prototype waved an open Zippo lighter along the bottom of the flag and the whole thing BURST into flames. There were screams of joy and fear as everyone stepped back as the yellow flames licked the ceiling. We crunched about in the broken beer bottle glass and watched the flag shrivel up around itself, like an old lady disappearing into her shawl.

I don't know what shocked me more: the sight of such a huge flag in a space so bare or the sight of the flames or the realization that at any second now I might be expelled and my college career would be over and done...

After what seemed like hours but was really only minutes, someone came running in with a fire extinguisher, shouting at us to step aside and spraying the entire wall with cheerful spurts of white foamy mess.

The remains of the flag were thrown away. One less thing to own.

The whole thing was pretty fucking cool and set a standard that i've striven towards (at times unconciously) ever since...

By way of a (necessary?) digression, allow me to point out another level of cool that i've striven towards for many years...Herzog, Kinski and the movie Fitzcarraldo...It's one of my favorite artistic endeavors. A movie about an impossible mission (dragging a ship over a mountain in order to build an opera house in the middle of the Amazon rainforest), the making of itself which was an impossible task--i.e. filming the recreation of this feat with cast and crew in the middle of the Amazon rain forest...

here's a clip in which Herzog, the director, recounts how the indians in the film offered to kill Kinski for Herzog.

Murder offer

Here's a clip that shows why:

Kinki losing it on the set


Blogger the pants said...

cool story. i love fitzcarraldo. i keep having dreams where people look at yr stuff and are like who did that and i'm all oh that's my friend TRUE, she's a better mousetrap.

3:23 PM  

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