The Rangers just lost a close Game 1 of the World Series, so here I am to compensate for my disappointment with the loss and my disgust with my own time-wasting by contributing to Jim Public’s web presence.
Chances are you’re familiar with the kind of schedule-craziness that forces you to drop everything and do something immediately, otherwise you won’t have a moment to get to it for a week, at which time it will be too late. Today, October 19, I realized that I had to design, print, and deliver 227 invitations to the neighborhood party we’re throwing on October 29, and I had to do this today because a succession of fully booked calendar dates begins tomorrow, which will obliterate my work-time for the next week.
This is no big deal; you know how these things go. I just share this stuff sometimes because I usually think of other artists as being solely devoted to their practice, like brush-wielding Ahabs, who forbid their children and family trips and dishes from deterring their aesthetic monomania. But life happens to all of us: surely Francis Coppola has had to put a script aside to take a son or daughter to a soccer game. Even during these spells when a tight home schedule pulls my hands away from paper and pigment and dispatches them to dishcloths and detergent, my mind is still in the art game, which I hope counts for something besides the regular sub-par performance of my chores. It’s said that sitting and concentrating on shooting free throws is as beneficial to a player as standing at the line and actually tossing them. I’m out to prove that this works for creative pursuits, too.
Here’s the flyer I designed, printed, and delivered today:
I’ll do my street tomorrow with my son, who doesn’t like being dragged along to neighbors’ porches; but, as my own street is pretty small, we should be able to get through it together. We’ll be asking my neighbors if they’re cool with me blocking the street with our cars for those few party hours. I called the city and learned that you can’t officially block a street for a party unless you’re a registered neighborhood association, and that is not what the Camelot project is about, though if someone wants to pursue the official path I’ll be most supportive of it. My interest is in getting together with some of my neighbors in our purely voluntary, unofficial capacities as citizens and humans. People, such as myself, often say they don’t know their neighbors but would like to; what I’ve done with the Camelot project is act on this desire that I know many of us share, and as a result of that little bit of action, we’re having a party that wouldn’t have happened had I continued to stay on my property feeling all lonesome. I hope you don’t mind my pride about this; it just feels kinda good.
More broadly, I think I’m feeling the spirit of independence that fuels both the Tea Party and the Occupiers. I think there’s something about civilization that periodically over-structures our lives and causes us to roar back like captive animals. Well, I’m not roaring so much as stretching my confined limbs, but I have become more aware of how absurd it is that we let institutions, both visible (government, corporations) and invisible (culture), limit the exercise of our wills and imaginations. If you want to block the street, you can call the city and start a weeks-long process of gathering signatures and filling out forms, or you can give your neighbors the heads up and park your truck across the road. If you want to meet your neighbors, you can keep on wanting it while your fear of rejection or embarrassment keeps you in your comfy chair, or you can comb your hair, walk out of your house, and start ringing door bells.
Oh, and I did have a funny thing happen in my marathon afternoon of putting flyers under welcome mats. After I delivered the goods to the neighbor who had me draw his dad and grandparents and then didn’t answer for his photo opp, I had just turned onto the sidewalk for the next house when I heard, first, a door fly open and, second, “You fuck–” The neighbor saw me and halted, muttering that he thought I was this other guy, then he emerged with his hand extended and thanked me again for what I did for him. When I told him that he stood me up of the photo opp, he apologized and smiled broadly at me, showing off the really nice dental work that he had apparently been receiving when I had last rung his doorbell. His tooth supply has doubled, and they look natural and quite clean. He said he’d be at the party, that I’d get my photo of him and his wife for the drawing. And he was, as I’ve come to expect, wearing only boxers.