One of those people that says California isn't what it used to be well it wasn't what it used to be 2 years ago when the sun grabbed you by the shirt, marched you up the hillside, showed you a golden city all lit up fluorescent and even a little grainy like in all the films you watched prior to reversing out of a driveway some gloomy cold November tearing up for love left behind 'cept You weren't here for films though or because the sun spoke in that patronizing way ya came for an idea much older from a time when you'd hack your way through brush and wilderness and a few of the ancient Other that were living peacefully along your dirt dragged wretched path, all scorched earth till you saw the coastline like God had poured a bath just for you perhaps the most intense destination on-world promises of wild, explicitly American freedom like no other living in a sun tan on the other side of Jupiter's rings you made it to an oasis all right, an oasis of imagination that stretched as far back into memory as childhood Disney castle the Boy Meets World of Topanga becoming the name of the canyon running past the window with glorious rock slides a smoky floating Lost World chance Extraterrestrial ULTRAterrestrial extraoccidental extraluminary land, puzzle city stretched to multinational corporate city stretched to arabian prince investment beach bum paradox city where the ocean chokes up gurgggwoosh woosh agggrruuuugle awrooosh fizzleeeee wroosh a dying song for it's own necropolis below and you wonder if those trash islands are the new Pangaea grouping, floating solidifying into crust rock plastic magma too sharp to make landfall but perfect for a super villain's secret sex dungeon where political elites fly in on the weekends labeled 'golf trips to Phoenix' according to their office aides holding open the ledger or spreadsheet Google calendar who would be invited were it not for their purpose as a weekly fix when the Senator is not taking 'golf trips to Phoenix' we gotta get out of this place, if it's the last thing we ever do your mind hums Eric Burdon's 1965 tune as the traffic converges in a flooded blood clot panic as you think earthquake here? while I'm stuck on this overpass? sweaty brow and red taillights all the way up and down Topanga Boy Meets World canyon (isn't this the shortcut?) girl there's a better life for me and you Time how long have you been cryogenically frozen by the riddle of a sphinx and the sitar's one note drone She looks over at you and says I'm lonely, Oh TIME, you're not lonely are you? How's it going to be with the earth spinning all these people around and we're just sitting under a palm without a word thinking "Am I lonely or do I just not like humanity?" it's hard to paint resentment when it's not your own but you know deep down all the working and getting-to-here-from-here and the nothing's ever good enough for the people on the hilltop looking down upon the fluorescent underclass with little Canon zoom monocles half bored half sedative and the alienating feeling of insignificance amongst a cosmos of couple million straining stars schmoozing with the sun and moons if only they'd like your selfie or follow-back the closeness dope, that dropout glazedover technodope, would pulse through you like high-frequency trading making billionaires in one single day; all of that zapped and zapping until you're a floating avatar that can''t explain when or how or what you've lost only that sunstroke lethargic crack just seems to become wider the more you sit cross-legged yoga breathing in and out the stench of rotting people tent city people the skid row possibilities of falling into the thigh-gap between everyone's more pressing socially engineered performance agenda "For the poor, politics seem like a more distant phenomenon and less pressing" less depressing more hopeful realities chase the dragon's tail to the oasis which salt water brined into the simulated spectral canyon that you thought you were standing triumphantly before but are now agasp crawling on hands and knees clutching sand dune drifty bones blistering chapped almost not even a person but a shape form a mirage trying to fit into the land that so does not want you to be here right now can you please get out, get out, just get out from under this (if you can) and they say the west coast is known for being bleached, so bleach the bleach-blonde haired fascists spray a smog mist around the perimeter of this glaring reality, disinfecting everything and it's true the bleach kills everything you love hold true had a mind to avoid making it all white bright shiny new smelling that chemical clean smell of hospital - nothing survived California - our California - the kale weeping it's resilience away cooked down it's woody life given up dry like the drought three long showers per day helped along in the accelerationist's wet dream of slippery midnights a million hours lost to the spinning beach ball of the Four- Oh- Five right lane collisions into bubbled strangers fantasizing their own car chase scene where roll-bars are optional finance now sign and drive sales event helicopter whirring as the searchlights beam in windows and under stairs till no shadow in the night is salvaged no tupperware for this one, it's what you ordered; Splitsville, USA with a side of apple pie for the road? "This just ain't your scene, mannnnnn" says the Hollywood fatalism in it's typical long drawn out laziness These hills used to be full of it now there's just a ghost town inside the souls of these floppy hatted hipsters weathered worn but still AWESOME, always AMAZED flipping off then on invisible financial planners AHAHAHAHAHAAAHA-WIPEOUT
I'm using Dead History, a font created by Scott Makela in 1990 for Emigre. I google his name. I come across an obituary written by Steven Heller in 1999 titled "P. Scott Makela, 39, Pioneering Graphic Designer, Dies." He's from Minnesota. Born in St. Paul. Dead at 39. 39! Some tears. I think about 9 years from now. I think what if I died. What would be left? My scraps. My piles. My receipts. My awkward requests for debt collection from a handful of financial services. More tears. ''I come from a background where emotion and passion are everything,'' Mr. Makela said. This. Emotion and passion. Some thing to contribute to empathy. To history. Even if it is dead history, it is still history. Rest in peace, Scott.
In 1999 I started to frequent a comic and magazine shop situated across the way from where my mother would get her hair done. I would often go into this magazine shop to kill time, browse the manga (Satoshi Urushihara's Chirality was a favorite), and check out the latest music and DJ centric mags from the UK, Mixmag being one of the best of them. They had started glueing mix cds to their covers which were themed with whatever fleeting dance music fad was set to take over the clubs till the next publication. Some of these auspicious compilations were titled things like 3 A.M. Rush and Trance & Bass. I remember flipping through, looking at the pictures of weekenders with their warpaint setting out for the night then chilling out to when the pills wore off. Minneapolis was so far away from all that but with the mix CDs the culture felt close. At the time I didn't go dig up where it was these genres had come from, their development, their components, nothing. Then I started going over to my Russian friend's house because he had a faster internet connection than I did plus a CD burner. I'd bring over a stack of CDs, my Mixmag, DJ, and Knowledge magazines and spend an afternoon downloading the charts off Limewire and later Soulseek. A lot of it was shit and there was a lot of candy rave stuff going on at the time. Happy Hardcore was very popular amongst my skater-turned-raver friends. However, what I gleaned from my time browsing the racks and the experience of looking up so much of this music was the importance of being a dedicated fanatic when it comes to art, music, culture; having a process for discovery. All of these things have never left me even if the technology has changed, formats died, people resigned to obscurity, Adidas thrifted away— the substance and the excitement for finding exciting music has not waned. What I've selected represent a varied core sample of those years spent in my room trying to replicate the intricate eyes of Urushihara's females while listening to the dance floor fillers of far away England.
I have a lot more respect for Deadmau5 after finding this pic.
§ M said that I should see the power of my outsider position and I said
that I could not claim to be an outsider. It was not a coincidence that
I was in London now, during ‘Frieze week’. Not earlier or later. I was a
conflicted person. Later I thought about it from a different angle and realized that
there was a confidence in me that related to this feeling of being
outside in a deeper way. That no matter what connections I made or what I
could ‘achieve’ through gaming the art system I would always feel
disconnected from its core. That I could never truly buy into it, and
that the Art World would always be turned off by the ambiguity of the
Warez that I was selling. Was this a promise I was making to myself? Why
was I so sure about it? Maybe it was the only way to think that allowed
me to continue. I thought again about the Quaker meeting and about how people seemed
beautiful and dignified and a bit scary. Collective will and the search
for a higher connection rendered people beautiful. It was easy to construct this binary: people walking out of
Tillmans’s house, the cokehead gallerists and boyfriends of shithead
former love interests, the stressed assistants; they weren’t ugly by any
means but they weren’t glowing like the Quakers. Art hustlers were grey
like the October that enveloped them. Not earth bound but not floating
either. A frustrated middle. I always had to idealize one group while
shitting on another. § (and M says yeah like you shouldn’t read anything into this, nothing
exceptional happened here and i’m like yeah that’s true it’s just funny
because of the contrast to this whole quaker thing, that i set out to
avoid the structure, to do something else, but then to remember about
myself that oh yeah i am really thirsty and desperate too and falling
flat on my face with that, like this rejection that i live for. like
wanting it enough to appear as someone who wants it but not wanting it
enough to get it, which will leave me in that awkward middle space where
most people reside. so i don’t feel alone at least. one day yr
#trending the next day zero likes.) § Desperation and hope against all odds, despite all we knew about neoliberal career games: that 99 out of a 100 would lose. § My ambition is not mine. It’s what I’m a slave to. People get fooled
into unpaid internships, dead end precarious art careers, student debt.
The promise is that you are unique, you are worth it. You find out that
some people are more unique than others. The economy has gone to shit
and is only booming for 0.1%. The middle class will be a historical
anomaly. London doesn’t run on wages anymore. Cultural workers are not
driven by consumption but by desire for some abstract idea of
self-fulfillment and a sense of meaning. How to make people work 15
hours a day in the service of their ‘personal brand’ while they barely
make rent. How to make them psychologize their failures quickly enough
to not see a larger pattern here. Everyone’s in debt to the institutions that lied to them and made
them self-critical in a paralyzing way (Goldsmiths, etc.). Most already
know that it’s a debt they will default on. The promise of
self-fullfillment revealed itself to be a ponzi scheme.
Feeling feels for this and a lot of what Jaako writes about. I can identify with the frustration and sense it all around me, in my closest friends, in artists and designers I follow. There are attempts to ask questions, asking more questions as if the answers are going to come from nowhere. There are other attempts to keep the same strategy intact, only upping the intensity of either their production or the intensity of their self-promotion. I was working with my studio partner on a project recently and we got to a point where things were not working for the client. My worried partner says we need to push ourselves harder, work harder, work smarter. Anger rushed through me. I said we work all the time as it is and couldn't imagine working more than what was already a strange maximum that wasn't really paying off. As much as I agree with Jaako's optimism that I "believe we were the future, that success would find us or meet us halfway at least," I can't see that coming around in any of the structures or relationships that exist to make that happen currently. It's not going to come around because we make a book or assembling a collective that judges the thing we secretly want to ascend to. Repeating the same historical cycle by replacing the status-quo in order to look down on our friends and those that didn't quite make it in. Feeling that our critique was more necessary, our resolve stronger, and our perseverance more important. That is the stagnation of the present and not a future to make art for. And moreover those words; perseverance, resolve, grit, tenacity...those are words given to us to encourage us to compete because there's a narrative of glory in defeating the odds in capitalist societies. They're not our own words. They're the market's.
Another short example. I saw a HuffPost Political tweet the other day that was something along the lines of "This is how you respond to a #truther!" with a link to Noam Chomsky answering a building 7 question from a recent talk he gave. I won't get caught up in that debate but what really interests me is the twisting of language in the term truther. How many times has it been said? How many people have been desensitized to it's meaning? I don't like making an Orwellian comparison but it is there. The inverted word for an inverted world. It's like using an insulting tone to call your friend beautiful. Truther. You truther. You lover of the truth. You faithful follower of the truth. You seek a truth but you will not find it. You fool! That's what it communicates whenever someone uses that term and that should be all the more reason to investigate where the term comes from, why it is being used, and by whom.