Archive for the 'My Friends Do the Best Things' Category


Visual Images without the Visuals – 1a – Summer Camp, maybe 10 years ago

For the longest time it was the only place in the world where I always knew the exact location of the Big Dipper. As an awkward pre-teen, and teen, I spent at least one Saturday night there a summer. The incline of the hill just the perfect angle for stargazing. As I got older I could still spot it, to the bottom left, just above the ‘Boys’ bathroom, standing now instead of laying down. Generally speaking, they were always the same thing. The same ironic nostalgia, nothing current, that wasn’t the point. Eventually the clothes grew as ridiculous and gaudy as the music. Dressing up as a competition. Who can wear more differing prints? More neon? More costume jewelry? More sunglasses at night? More androgyny?

A dark and muggy night like so many others. The colored ropes and Christmas lights blazing. Tiki torches. Not taking requests. Before the switch to Ipods. For the life of me I can’t remember the song that came on before it. Of the cordoned off and encircled space, the least available could be found directly in front of the DJ Booth. A volleyball court, a full size basketball court, the perfectly slanted hill in between, and 3 by 12 feet of dried out and browning grass on the other side of both. The first electronic notes hit and there is no mass convergence inspired by something so out of character. This isn’t Bon Jovi or the Spice Girls. The crowd slowly gets its bearings, as certain people start to recognize what’s happening. It’s the kind of music that makes you lose your job as DJ. Radiohead. The early 2000s uniter, to some. The jam kids and the trustafarians, the punks, the hip-hop kids, the suburban and oblivious, they all collectively seem to have no problem with the band still. Perhaps because they were mislabeled for years as the next Pink Floyd. It’s starting to get really dark now. The crowd descends into the 3 by 12 space of former grass, slowly but en mass, and they don’t dance. They don’t stand still. They don’t mosh or pogo. There is no skanking or lip synching or air-synth jamming. The gathering crowd simply ceases to be single entities. Moving as a whole, up and down, to the constant electronic drum beat. ‘WHO’S IN BUNKER, WHO’S IN BUNKER.” The outfits, the rest of the nights music, including the perpetual last dance ‘American Pie,’ where your friends are, where your girl went, it doesn’t matter. No one lacking control of their facilities, most underage. A strange song for some standards. And yet, it inspires a reaction on a level never seen since. 5 minutes in the woods. Hours until the nearest city. Dial-up only internet. Piles of CDs in binders supplying the music, a stereo borrowed from a low wattage radio station.


Visual Images without the Visuals – 1 – Summer Camp, maybe 14 years ago

A lanky man in a dark vest with a name tag walking in circles, face shrouded in cloudy Coke bottle thick glasses. He’s holding a briefcase. As we get closer, collectively the group notices that that he is whispering to himself, muttering quickly and methodically, “I like cheese.” It’s hard to get close to him, nothing seems to stop him from walking in circles, not even the pole of a nearby soccer goal. It’s as if he is on some sort of premeditated route. He collides with the goal post so believably that most of the group jumps back in fear and concern. When we finally encircle him, holding hands as is the custom, he motions for us all to sit down. We do, and he sits as well, opening his briefcase in a swift motion. In the movies, when some sort of deal goes down, and large amounts of money are exchanged it usually lines a briefcase in stacks of bills. The briefcase is lined in the same way, with individually wrapped slices of American Cheese. My counselor dutifully takes off his shoes, as he is motioned to do without words, his socks as well, and then, even more methodically than the circles the man unwraps the slices of cheese and shoves them between the toes of my counselor.  Shoes and socks go back on quickly, without any sort of clean up, so as not to lose any time. All of this is for the lanky bespecteled man’s signature, on a pre-approved sheet of paper.


Commute 01-30-11


Eileen Myles on Gram Parsons

EILEEN MYLES ON GRAM PARSONS from coldfront’s POP series

or how about this great thing from Duncan Malashock?


I can’t wait for #9

DEEP LEAP 2 is now a free download. Ghost Islanders abound therein: Adam Johnson, Jesse Malmed, Sean Higgins, me.

Also other people, loved ones, radness: Lizzy Youle, Egan Frantz, Raven Munsell, Jashin Friedrich, George Olesky, Devin Bannon, Sarah Simon, Mat Trumbull, Nora Harrington….



Relatedly, westcoasters should check out the In the Light Cave show, which, full disclosure, also features me.


my friends do the best things: daniel buchler

The following three pieces are by Daniel Buchler, an artist based out of Philadelphia.  He provides us with a brief description of each:


The first one is called Behind Enemy Lines.  I did it while I was still in school–2004.  It has a lot to do with how fun I remember it being to twist the torsos on old J.I. Joes and snap the bands connecting their legs.  Its the same kind of mutilation.  Maybe it’s got something to do with how desensitized people are to this kind of violence, because it’s theatrically stylized.  Yet I still felt sorry for some of these figures–brutalized in spite of their plastic inanimate being.


Second one is a piece I submitted at the last minute to the 2008 Absolutely Abstract show at the Philadelphia Sketch Club.  I got a bit of feedback from someone who submitted before, was accepted, and was criticized by her peers for using representational objects.  “Don’t worry if you don’t get in.”  I got a congratulatory call a week later–Honorable Mention. This one’s called River.


This third one is the first time I’ve used linen instead of cotton duck.  I also drew on the canvas here, which I’ve rarely if ever done before–at least the entire composition.  The mugs here are recurring ideas called Blue Boy and Golden Child.  (I half stole that from Seinfeld’s laundry episode where his favorite sweater was called Golden Boy–the first shirt he wore from a freshly washed load.)  Groupings of mugs and bottles are fairly prominent in my stuff.  Its the closest I get to portraiture.  Humanized mugs and de-humanized plastic army men…


Interview: Sean Higgins

Sean Higgins consented to sit down for an impromptu interview. I liked it and so am posting it. It is not exhaustive. You may ask him more questions in the comments section if you want.


Question 1: What is your greatest fear?

I’ve never really thought about my greatest fear. I guess, that I will be in debt all my life. That maybe I will have taken a gamble on doing something that doesn’t really make any money, and then finding that I have to work a regular job anyway to support myself.

Or, moving around too much to find someone to stick with.

Also, jellyfish.

Ok, Question 2: Describe the best book in the world

A real book or an imaginary one?

Either, or both


I think there is probably a book that Nabokov would have written. Ada is pretty close.

I don’t know, it’s a tough one.

What makes ‘Ada’ nearly perfect?

I think it’s one of the few books I’ve ever read that doesn’t try to recreate the effects of memory simply by listing things that happened, but instead by creating the memories of the characters in reverse, always projected back from the present, always with a linguistic and sensory kernel. There are other books about this, naturally, but I think this one is underrated and deserves to be mentioned along with them. It’s a swooning, dreamy book about self-mythologization where all the characters are always their own myths. It can be sad, sometimes, but is always beautiful, playful, surprising, and graceful. No one writes about colors or women the way Nabokov does. A sensual writer with an intimidating brain and a big heart. It’s his favorite of his books, and probably my favorite of his, too.

Last 2 Questions: What’s so great about Maine? and: If you were a dead animal, what would you be?

On Maine:
Maple syrup, chickadees, the ocean, fire-truck red leaves in the fall, pine trees for the whole year, the unreal silence and the way the sky turns purple when it snows, riding your bike on empty roads in the summer, keeping your windows open on a hot summer night. Mostly, nature. I grew up near the ocean and need to live near it if I can. Also, there’s a bar near my house that has maybe 50 local beers on tap. It’s safe to walk around alone in the middle of the night. You can still go to a place where you can’t hear a single bit of evidence of another human being.

Dead Animal:
I would probably be, um, some sort of bird that tried to hide a shiny piece of electronic equipment but electrocuted itself instead. Hopefully a fast bird, though probably not one with a particularly impressive wingspan.

February 2020
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