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endlessly frustrating times

October 21, 2008 at 5:08 am

it’s been a little rough recently: emotional turbulence, lots of questioning of current and future paths, stressful deadlines… compounded by photoshop crashing repeatedly for some reason, continuous bullshit and noise from the downstairs neighbors, daily logistics that I really should have more under control at this point, and other random crap. Everything from poster projects to simple endeavors (ie. buying new sneakers) is always more complicated than it seems like it will be at first… also I keep forgetting to eat meals which just ends me up in bigger trouble later on, when I’m then extra-hungry and trying to scrounge up food for myself…

on the plus side, however, I did go to the beach and make a bonfire with friends last night, it was great. The night before that (when I was already really emotionally overwhelmed) the base of my desk chair came apart all of a sudden, which caused me a huge amount of stress: since my back has been hurting recently, this chair is more or less the only place I can sit that doesn’t feel terrible. however… I did manage to repair it!


yeah, it’s kind of shoddy. when I get this next set of things done, I’ll try to do a more comprehensive repair: but for now it does the trick. Hooray!

I draw bread (again)

October 16, 2008 at 8:10 am

I am drawing for the bread poster. After some meandering speculation with making it dense with text like a 1700s broadside newspaper, I finally picked up the pencil and started doodling out the steps… and it turns out that it’s going to be a 7.5-inch-wide, 35-inch-tall, strip of graphic bread-making narration. In a totally different visual and narrative style from the zine. (These things are rarely within my control.) The format shift has something to do with the idea of “the difference between reading and seeing”, which comes from a quote from Chris Ware (re. differences between comics, paintings, and books) which I wrote down six+ years ago, in a sketchbook that I cannot put my hands on at the moment…

… nor can I articulate my version of this idea very well at this hour of the morning/night! However, you should all clear a 36″ high strip on your walls in your kitchens, somewhere where you can see it from your counter area…

ink on bristol board drawing bread-making steps

detail: a detail of the small drawing

As I was drawing these images I realized that this poster will owe a debt to my friend Lauren O’Connor’s artwork. I’m not sure this picture does her awesome ink drawings justice, but here is a shout out anyways! This is from the installation she made in the Dirt Palace front window in 2005.

detail of window installation by lauren o

other stuff that happened recently: worked on re-starting kitchen thinking at Forbes; my brother helped me make a good plan for the next two months; found myself glued to the most recent presidential debate; helped set up and clean up at New Urban Arts, since the program year is starting (I’m not going to be a mentor there this year, but will be helping out with the silkscreen studio); got paperwork and logistics done (more or less on time!) for shows I’m gonna be in; finally bought new sneakers (after accepting the fact that wearing super-busted sneakers for the past six months is probably what is making my back hurt a lot recently); and…. cleaned off my desk: all of it this time, not just the minimum corner! There is more work to do on room/work area functionality, but the clear desk is a real start. My housemate helped me make this animated gif!!!!!!!!! to promote my work on the Craftland website. I got two great letters in the mail today from internet/faraway friends… thank you! watch your mailboxes…


  • The Case Against ‘Modern Architecture’ — an essay by Lewis Mumford
  • La luna é i faló (“the moon and the bonfires”) — by Cesare Pavese, reading in Italian. I started it a long time ago and got about 1/5 of the way through. Recently I went back and read it from the beginning, understanding about 90% of the vocabulary, but sailing through and making good guesses along the way. The end was stark and sad, it surprised me…
  • Heroes and Ghosts — prints by Kuniyoshi (1800s)
  • Red Mars — by Kim Stanley Robinson (science fiction about group dynamics, landscape, and buildings. yessss)
  • Elementary Economics — by Thomas Carver and Maude Carmichael, 1938 (my housemate’s grandfather’s high school textbook: “There was never a time when men needed to think so seriously about the problems of national welfare as at the present.” !!!)
  • the ULINE catalog (shipping and warehouse supplies)

okay, that last entry in the list probably means it’s time for bed.

photo reference for the bread poster…
bread dough!!!

context switch

October 6, 2008 at 3:08 am


So, long-story-made-short: My downstairs neighbor slapped me in the face Wednesday night/Thursday morning, after I knocked on her door at 1 am to ask her to turn her music down. Glasses broken, landlord called, police report filed…. then Friday all day the music was on loud again. (Their stereo has now moved to directly under my room.) I went down to my friends’ house for the day, in an attempt to get some work done. In a long conversation in Spanish and English on Friday evening, I was able to convince our landlord that he needs to actually take the legal step to force the neighbors to leave: send them a “termination of tenancy” letter, which can then lead to an eviction if they do not move out by the end of the month. I returned to the house later that night, the music was still loud, I packed up sleeping bag and some other stuff and headed back to my friends’ house…

Having slept here the past two nights now, I think I will return to my house to sleep tonight (Sun.)… after I call my housemate and make sure the music has ended. It’s not that the music is annoying, though it is: it’s that now, after being hit, I feel completely justified in thinking that the lady downstairs is crazy and really needs to move out… and completely afraid to confront her again. It’s hard to type that; somehow it’s easier to say that in Spanish, “Tengo miedo…”, the implications are simpler. My landlord understands: after we filled out the termination of tenancy letter together on Saturday, he described our neighbor’s fake-crying reaction when she talks to him about her life, and then said: “Pero ella no és la victima in esa situación”…

From pretty much the first week of this nonsense (described a month ago in this post), my housemates and I have harbored secret fantasies about blasting our neighbors from above with exponentially-louder noise than their stereo can summon — two of my housemates are musicians; each of them owns a powerful, bass-heavy P.A. system. We have refrained. All four of us are in positions of relative privilege: we finished high school and are literate and intelligent, we don’t have children to support, we’ve completed higher-education degrees, and, we’re white [though you could also make the finer distinctions: J.) Anglo-Saxon/French/Germanic Quaker from Philadelphia, B.) Jewish (incl. Polish & French) from Boston suburbs, S.) French-Canadian & German via Woonsocket, and C.) pure Italian from Silver Lake, the next neighborhood over!]. Our privilege gives us a certain amount of societal power. However, when faced with bullying actions and physical intimidation, we have little understanding of how to respond — very little that happens in our social groups ever has to do with non-ironic or non-playful violence, it’s not really in our experience base.

Our best recourse (or our only recourse?) is to try to hold some kind of higher ground, not blast them with our stereo, not jump up and down on the floor, not yell at them, not hit back. We talk to the landlord and reason with him, appeal to his judgment and/or need for money, attempt to persuade him of our points… My Spanish is getting better through many conversations with him, and though these defenses seem to have worked (after much effort), they are still pretty weak. None of us want to get hit or even have another aggressive confrontation, and the coming month is bound to be pretty shitty, since they will be moving out and will probably not be happy about it. In this situation, despite any theoretical power we may have, we are at a disadvantage.

Our neighbor is not a scary lady: she’s in her 30s, short of stature and a little overweight, talkative (tending to dominate conversations), casually racist (when she moved in, she told my housemates, “I’m glad you’re not black!”), credulous, inconsiderate — an ordinary person. Ultimately, I’m not afraid of her. Sure, in some realm of possibility she could get a weapon or recruit a friend who is bigger and stronger to actually do some physical damage to one of us. . . . but what I’m afraid of in a confrontation with her is not her violence as much as my own reaction to violence. On Wednesday, my first response to being slapped was surprise, then an immediate grab for my glasses on the floor (I’m really nearsighted). I didn’t even think to hit back.

In the days since she hit me, however, whenever I’ve been at the house and there’s been music thumping up from below, my secret desire is not to plug in Scott’s amplifiers and blast some terrible noise music through the floor… but to go downstairs, kick in the door (which would be easy), push past anybody in my way with kicks to wherever necessary, grab the stereo or knock it to the ground, run outside with it, drop it from the porch and smash it on the sidewalk outside. Maybe set it on fire. Or something. It’s a violent desire. I choose to leave the house when the reggaeton starts blasting, not because of its repetitive beats, but because of the conflict it brings up within me. When the floor under my desk chair begins to shake, the fact that I don’t know how to throw a punch starts troubling me as much as I’m troubled by my newly arisen urge to punch someone.

the bonecrusher!!!

Okay, in related thoughts, being in a new space is helping me focus on a different way on my work; or rather, I’m trying to let the different space kick me into some different habits. It’s interesting. It’s effective, to some degree. Being out of my comfort zone and being around a different group of people, I feel more observed, that there’s more attention on me: even if it may not be true, I slack off less, chat less, etc, which is good for getting work done. However, I miss being at the house, looking out my window at our tree, I miss having all my tools to hand. I miss talking to Buio every hour or so, and having him jump up on the desk and mess things up for me (though Bonecrusher is a pretty great cat in his own right!). I hope to be back at Amherst St. for real, full-time, soon. With better neighbors!

on to the next!

October 3, 2008 at 5:45 am

Bread and Puppet posters are printed, Jim at Black Cat cropped the edges for me, and they are going up around town.


first color (that horse!)
[that horse!]

second color

third color

finished poster (in a sloppily composited image) after the break. (more…)

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