|Blah-Blah-Blog Archive||HOME | CONTACT|
The Artist. For most of my life that's the way many people have referred to me. "You're the artist, right?"
Being an artist is pretty cool, you get away with a lot of crazy stuff that normal people wouldn't have the nerve to attempt.
Once I worked a short stint at a publisher in Philly. Everybody there was always dressed to the teeth, especially the women. Me? I usually looked like something the cat dragged in and peed on. Nobody cared though. As long as my pages were ready at the deadline, they looked past the holes in my shirt. If one of the Big Suits saw me near the elevator I'd hear, "Who is THAT?". A matching suited lackey would stage whisper, "Art Department" and then the Big Suit would nod. THE NOD. The nod that goes up first, pauses, and then goes down. The nod that says he understands you're a maniac, but he knows he's gotta put up with it.
In most companies people expect craziness when they're forced to visit the Art Department. It's like going to the zoo, you'd be disappointed if you didn't see a monkey throwing crap.
I was at one place, if the Art Director found out the boss was coming down, he'd put a Halloween tape on the stereo. At a real low volume though, so you could barely hear it, chains rattling, ghoulish sounds going "oooh oooooh". The boss was always twitching when he left. They had a real hangman's noose in there too, with a full sized dummy dressed like Santa Claus hanging by it's neck. Occasionally the dummy had a picture of the project manager's face taped to it's head. They used to shoot the dummy with modified pencils shoved in a toy dart gun. Once in awhile they shot each other.
Being an artist, especially a professional one, gives a person free reign to act and look like a luntatic.
All my clothes are black. I like black. Anything I like, I do to great excess. I haven't worn anything that isn't black since sometime in the 1970's. It's convenient and everything matches. For sure I get away with this because I'm an artist.
Once my washing machine broke and I had to take my clothes to a laundromat. My gigantic mound of black clothes drew stares, then questions, then a bonafide crowd so I handed out some business cards. People read my card and saw I was artist. I got THE NOD. I got some business too.
Yeah, it's cool to be an artist. I take full advantage of my place in society. How do you do? Meet a genuine crap throwing monkey.
I say and believe a lot of crazy stuff too, and a lot of it I'm gonna say right here so stay tuned. I may be a lot of things, but I guarantee boring isn't one of them.
I learned one of the most
important lessons of my life at a baseball game.
It was in the mid 70’s,
at Veterans Stadium in Philly. Back then you could get in the very upper
deck, the SkyDeck, for under a dollar. Every kid from South Jersey with
a driver’s license became a fixture up there, as well as any kid
from PA with access to a train. There was always a great party going
on up there.
That night the Phillies were
losing and slow but sure the place was emptying out. Me, my sister and
4 of our friends decided to leave the cheap seats and move down to greener
pastures. We sat in the first row of the upper level for a couple innings.
By the top of the 9th they
were behind 3 runs. People were really heading for the doors, we could
see them streaming for the exits. We decided to make a move for some
really good seats. We headed out the exit from the upper deck, and bucked
the stream of traffic coming out of the lower deck.
We wound up almost behind
home plate for the bottom of the ninth. The Vet held 52,000 people,
looking around I bet there were only 2000 people left in there; it was
a real ghost town.
Next thing you know the Phillies
load up the bases and up comes Willie Montanez. When he hit the ball,
because were used to watching the game from a half mile up, it sounded
like a cannon shot to us. We watched that ball sailing toward the outfield,
it looked so far to us from down there and bang, it was in the empty
seats. Grand slam!
Usually any home run in the
Vet, the crowd would sound like a roar, let alone a game winning grand
slam, but like I said, it was a ghost town in there. By the time Willie
rounded third base and crossed home, I get a feeling all he heard was
the shrill screams of six teenage girls from Jersey, going wild in “borrowed
seats” behind home plate.
He shook the hands of the
3 guys he batted in and then he stopped, turned and looked right at
us. He tipped his hat. We went even more wild, jumping up and down and
That night I learned if you
hang in there long enough, many times something unbelievable happens.
I remember how I felt leaving that stadium, knowing that 40,000 people
would hear on the news that they missed something great, and I was there
to see it.
Many times since then, when
I’m tempted to throw in the towel, I think of Willie Montanez.
I see him tipping his hat, and I realize that as much as we appreciated
his grand slam, I think he appreciated us staying until the end.
Willie’s image in my
head has made me hang in there through all kinds of setbacks, in all
kinds of situations. I always have the hope that I can come up with
the goods in the bottom of the ninth. Sometimes I do, sometimes I don’t,
but because of that night, I never leave anything before I give it my
best shot, no matter how tired I am or who is there to see it.
In our world people believe
a piece of paper makes them smart. Like the Scarecrow in the Wizard
of Oz, he got the paper, and he was instantly smart, a genius in fact.
I call anybody who graduated from college and doesn’t know there’re
52 weeks in a year a Scarecrow. Some college grad who thinks the capital
of New York is New Jersey: Scarecrow.