Plug – a story

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new story that is very raw, in a few ways, but in the way you might notice most is that i haven’t edited yet. i wanted to write it for a while and now that it’s written i want to put it into the world before i look back on it and see what i think. what DO i think? i dunno. i needed to write it, but how i feel about it i can’t say.

PLUG

I am ready to go.

The tides rising by the hour, higher by the moment.

The momentum washing away the sand until there is nothing left.

In the halls you can hear the shish-shish-shish-shish of the people in white as they buzz between rooms. Never phased. Never given pause. Professional to a fault as the children, the babies in their cradles, dream of sweet, deadly silence.

Not me. I dream of people shaped ash, falling from the sky.

I dream of waiting graves and crying children.

Late in the night you can hear the families as they whisper through choked voices and discuss courses of action. Watching the tide wash in, tide wash out, bringing and taking their loved ones away, then doing it all over again.

The sounds of the machines are maddening. Chases thoughts from your head, reason from your mind. Never knowing if something is failing or running correctly. Never knowing the difference between the heartbeat of Death and the pounding in your own chest. Watch as one by one the families come, the families go, sometimes smiling, sometimes crying, but always gone while you remain. And there are no words. There are no gestures. There are no lamps to rub to take away the welling tears, the cracking voices. There is only silence, heavy and useless and saying so much more than you ever could. Hoping that a hand on a wrist is enough but nothing is enough. The only thing that can fill the hole in them now is dirt, so much dirt.

The days blend and things you had taken for granted before, like hot meals, sleep, and the numbing simplicity of work are lost between the days. And the waters rush forward and the waters rush back and each day there is less and less and it all starts to slip away. Memories, cherished, beautiful things we show more attention than our own children.

And god how the darkness calls.

Anything, you’d do anything to stop the butterflies from swirling inside your stomach, anything to stop the humming of the machines, anything to stop the tears that threaten to split you in two.

Darkness.

Brother Darkness, who has always been there, waiting, patient as a lover, for you to return. And you inch closer and closer, like the rolling tide that takes our memories one by one, but as close as you are there are always the cold white tiles and the dirty-clean hands and the forced smiles waiting on you return.

And all you want is to scream, to scream until you wake up into the life you remember, the life before the endless hallways, and the murmuring nurses, and living among ghosts. Hell isn’t a concept; it is here, this place, these walls, this food, this life. Hell is the unending mundanity of survival.

And you ask, you plead to a god you don’t know if you ever believed in until now, pleading for the Darkness to wash over this world of light, this land of Light, to wash over you and return you to the sea where you drown in all your misplaced memories. In answer there comes the beeping of another room and the call for the crash team and there, there if you listen close you can hear the sigh of Death as it calls another home.

And  I am ready.

I can feel the tide washing me away and I am ready.

And I am ready.

I can hear their whispers coming from the Light, can hear the tears in their voices as the machines push the tides away.

And I am ready.

I watch the tide carry my memories out to sea, further, further, further, gone.

And I am ready.

And I am ready.

And I am ready.

I am ready to join with the dark.

- chris arrr – 2.28.12

like it? go buy a book.

www.meepsheep.com

Own Your Dream

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There is a scary trend that seems to be creeping into the Arts, and into life in general and that is the Get Rich Quick mentality of dreams.  There is a sense that one’s dream is SO important that others should want to make it come true and that it should supersede the dreams of others.  Witness the rise of the Fund Me sites out there.  Everyone under the sun now feels as if THEIR dream should be funded over the dreams of others. FUND ME! They cry, most giving little reason why you should, outside of friendship.

The thing about dreams though is that they don’t come easy, and they don’t come cheap. Not the ones that matter, anyway.  And I can say this from experience.

My first book is a story collection entitled BACK FROM NOTHING.  This was a book that I had put together and shopped for a good while to no avail.  I was not yet 20 and was shopping my first book and had no understanding that this sort of stuff doesn’t just take years but takes luck as well.  Along the way I came across a company that was interested in publishing the book…for a cost.  It was called subsidy publishing and was similar to what we have now with self-publishing.  I would pay all the costs to create and produce the book and they would release it, market it, and distribute it.  It wasn’t ideal but it was my only option.  I was a kid with little money so what money I could I put into it and the rest my family bankrolled.  They believed in my dream enough to support me financially and it’s a debt greater than I can ever repay.  A debt beyond money.

So I got the book published but as soon as I did the company went out of business and we had to pay shipping to get the books delivered to my house or they’d be scrapped.  So much for dreams.  Since that day I have been selling, promoting, and distributing the books myself.  What I learned out of it all was that, even when I had the dream, of being published, it wasn’t what I thought it was.  To really feel as if I had earned anything, had gotten anywhere, I would have to work at it.  I had to believe in it enough to get my money together, to get my ideas together, and to do it myself.  I had to go to conventions, I had to put out chapbooks, I had to keep figuring how to promote myself, how to sell my work, how to better my writing.  It took a lot of things, a lot of time, but ten years after that first book I found a way to get another book out, self publishing, and again, it wasn’t ideal, but you make work what is available, so I did.  And I did it, with a lot of help, but I did it myself.  And it meant so much more.  I love that first book, and I always will, but it wasn’t MINE.  I had to put the time and work into make that happen.

Another example from my own life is the convention I do with some friends. It’s been a dream for years and years to bring a convention into downtown Flint.  Since I love the horror genre it made sense to focus on a horror con.  I had been putting together indie art shows in Flint for years so I had a feel for what needed to be done, it just…needed to be done.  So I got friends together and we did it.  As for the funding, I left that up to me, to great degrees, because it was my dream.  I didn’t have a lot of money but I was willing to put a chunk on the line so we could do this.  And it was my willingness to do this, my belief in it, that sold my friends, and when they were sold, our vendors and guests were sold, and when they were sold we found another funding source…because we put the work in.  We were willing to do what had to be done to make it happen.

And that is what is missing in so many dreams these days.

We miss that even if you are given an opportunity you need to work to make it successful.

It is YOUR responsibility to make it come to life.

And so many dreams CAN be funded ourselves.  Not easily maybe, but they can be.  I hate seeing people essentially pan-handling for tips, for funding, and for support on something they are not convincing me is worth my investment, or anyone’s.  I want all manner of things, on the business side and personally but those are for me to figure out.  I can’t imagine going to people with my hand out and a little boy lost look on my face to get money.

You need to work for your dream.

You need to find ways to fund yourself that are not begging, that isn’t guilt, and that shows the value of your dream.  You need to make your funders feel as if they are PART of that dream and are investing in not just a dream but a goal.  You need to open your arms and embrace other people’s ideas, thoughts, and THEIR dreams that’s the way you show how important YOURS is.  Otherwise you need to find your own funding.

Which is fine.

Some dreams are not meant to be shared.

Some dreams are so personal, so etched into who you are that to change them takes away what you loved in the first place.  And if that is the case you need to be willing to sacrifice to make those dreams come true.  You have to be willing to do what you have to to make it happen.

We are becoming a culture of Artists who do more whining about how we can’t do things than ones who find ways to do them.  We need to close our hands into fists and start fighting for the things we want.  And it is in that fighting where our dreams don’t just become real but become valuable, become necessary, and lead into new dreams.

Our dreams are our own and it’s time we started owning them.

Until we are willing to share our dreams, to grow them, evolve them, and to let other people’s dreams merge with them and change them, we need to stop asking for hand outs and find ways to make them come true on our own.

c

SUMMER OF MASSACRE – review

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­Summer of Massacre

          Ok, now I have seen everything.  It took a while but we finally got a horror movie trying to be Sin City.  Sort of.  The charm of Sin City though lay with its characters that they all intersected and interacted and lived in the backdrop of a surreal city where reality wavered.  Summer of Massacre though is one of those movies where they took the conceit of live film with digital backgrounds and effects and well, put them in a garbage disposal and hoped for the best.

Summer of Massacre is an anthology with four stories and a sort of a wrap-around.  The stories are dark, hyper-violent tales of murder and madness and rely heavily on digital special effects to push the boundaries with gore.  None of the four stories intertwine but are instead stories in their own place and time, though I would imagine that the idea is that all of this horror is happening during this ‘Summer of Massacre’.

The first story tells the story of a man out for a simple late night run who is horribly beaten and robbed by three men.  The men disfigure the runner and leave him for dead, though he is in a deep state of shock.  When another runner finds him and tries to help him he attacks and brutally murders her and then goes on a killing spree throughout the town.  There is no method to his madness, just a deep bloodlust.

The second story we have is about a fractured family perched on the edge.  When one of the daughters is forced to take her two siblings with her (all of the ‘kids’ are adults playing teens) her deep-seated anger bubbles to the surface.  Her handicapped sister is dying and disfigured and the sister decides it might be time to rid the family of her burden.  What she doesn’t anticipate though is what would happen if her disfigured sister should live through the murder attempt.

Our third tale is the most interesting of the bunch and focuses on a man about to make a deeper commitment in his relationship and so he decides to tell her about his past, a past that has been haunted since childhood by a monstrous figure bent on tormenting and killing him.  What he finds out though is that this thing is still hunting him and is getting closer than ever to finally having him all to its own.

The last story is a literal campfire story told at a religious camp about the legend that haunts the forest.  When the legend turns out to be real though the last survivors must find a way to escape or they’ll only add to the areas grim legacy.

See, on the surface the shorts sound interesting.  On the surface that is.  Sadly there is no beneath the surface here.  While each story could add nuances and subtleties it just isn’t there.  These are as straightforward as you could get, the focus being on the gore and violence.  The acting, what acting there is, seems almost improvised, and consists mainly of screaming.  The gore that is so prevalent throughout is made to be ridiculous because of the overuse of CG.  It’s this aspect that is so confusing about the film.  At first I thought the digital gore was to push the envelope and really go over the top but as the film progresses I started to wonder if this wasn’t just a gore comedy I wasn’t getting.  A joke that was beyond me.  The effects make me think that, the lack of story makes me think that, and the overall tone of nihilism makes me think that but, honestly, if this film is a joke, or a series of jokes, they fall flat.  Really flat.

This is one of those movies that made me hate reviewing films.  There was just nothing here for me to latch onto.  It is meanness and gore for the sake of meanness and gore and if you watch all the way through the credits the nihilism plays out to its seeming inevitable, albeit nonsensical, conclusion.  And that is the problem here, that there is so little logic that the film plays like a cartoon.  Again, maybe that was the point, but if so it didn’t work for me.  I never laughed, I never cringed (save for the performances and writing), and I never connected on any level with the film.  Clearly it wasn’t made for ‘me’. This is extreme party gore made to play to crowds of gorehounds who will laugh at every exploding head and evisceration. To me the movie played like a very juvenile exercise in extremes.  There is all but no plot, little acting, not much direction, and downright awful digital effects.  A lot of people will tout this as being ‘arty’ and that it is pushing the boundaries but really all it is doing is playing to the lowest common denominator and proving how bad horror films can get.  I admire the ambition of director/everything else Joe Castro to do so much on this film but in the end it’s an emotionless eyesore of a film that is memorable only for how bad it is.

1 out of 10

Sassy Press Releases From BEYOND!

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This is the press release and info behind our next Flint Horror Con show. SASSY!

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

February 17, 2012

 

CONTACT: Publicist Darlan Erlandson

(For interviews, bio, photos etc.)

                        (517) 214-4592

                        publicist2011@gmail.com

 

CASEY – 30 YEARS LATER!

Coming to Flint, Michigan for ONE NIGHT ONLY - Cult horror and off-beat Theater collide as the Flint Horror Convention presents – Casey – 30 Years Later, starring Chesaning native, Beverly Bonner.

For one special night the Flint Horror Convention presents a celebration of the film Basket Case during its 30th Anniversary.  On Saturday, April 7th fans will be able to relive the laughs, the shocks, and the gore of this cult classic film as it is screened locally for the first time ever. After this special screening Basket Case actress Beverly Bonner will present her show Casey – 30 Years Later!  Casey is a live epilogue to the film which serves as a perfect way to catch up with beloved character Casey. Join Casey and her ‘Ladies of the Night’ and other crazy fun characters for an evening you’ll never forget. After the show join Ms. Bonner for a Q/A session and find out more about her acting career, her comedy, and her life since Casey.

Ms. Bonner is excited to return to Michigan with her beloved character Casey for a celebration of the 30th Anniversary of cult horror classic Basket CaseBeverly has become a mainstay for Basket Case director Frank Henenlotter and has appeared in all of his films, the Basket Case trilogy, Frankenhooker, Brain Damage, and his most recent film, Bad Biology. She is a comedian, actress, playwright, producer, and director and has become a fan favorite at horror conventions and appearances over the years.

Consider yourself cordially invited to celebrate the 30th Anniversary of one of horror’s timeless classics and join Casey for a night of stories that would make Belial blush.

General Admission$12.50 in advance and $15 at the door.

VIP Admission – $25.

Tickets – https://www.ticketriver.com/event/2796

http://www.casey30.com

Casey – 30 Years Later!

Saturday, April 7, 2012, 7:00pm

Doors Open at 6:30pm

Flint Masonic Temple

755 S. Saginaw Street
Flint, Michigan 48502

Due to the film’s rating and evening’s tone, parental discretion is advised.

FLINT HORROR CONVENTION

Flint Horror Convention is a collective of friends who are driven to bring events, art shows, conventions, and film showings that showcase the horror genre to the Greater Flint Area.  With a dedication to low cost events for the people of this area the goal of the Flint Horror Convention is to create affordable fun for an area that has never had many offerings outside of the mainstream.

The Flint Horror Convention was created in 2011 with the intention of creating a local horror convention to celebrate the beloved films, actors, and artists that work in the horror industry.  While putting the convention together several other cultural events were created as well to help promote local artists, local filmmakers, and to highlight the many forms the horror genre can come in.  These events that lead up to the horror convention were Art Fear, a celebration of local artists and filmmakers, and It Came From The Kiva!, a night of free independent horror films show at the University of Michigan-Flint’s KIVA.  In October of 2011 was the first ever Flint Horror Convention, which brought fans together with the people that work in the horror industry.  Actors, filmmakers, artists, writers, vendors, and more came together to meet the fans and to showcase their talents in a first ever horror related show in the Flint area.  With a day full of independent horror films, question and answer sessions, and ample opportunity to meet some of the genre’s talented creators there was a lot to do for the 500 fans that came out for the convention.  As successful as things were for a first year it was only the beginning of what both organizers and fans hope becomes another Flint tradition.

The Flint Horror Convention

www.flinthorrorcon.com

http://www.facebook.com/flinthorrorcon

Natural Bored Salesman

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I am no sales person.

Salesman.

Whatever.

I ain’t it.

I wish I was, I do, really.  A lot of my jobs I have had would have been waaay easier.  Alas, it was not meant to be.  I hate asking for help and asking someone to buy something, pitching them on something, is just not my thing.  I have a hard time with it because to me either someone wants to buy something or they don’t.  Simple as that, right?  Being an artist and writer though, that doesn’t serve me very well.

For some reason when it comes to books and art you have to really pitch it to people.

Or do you?

I am not sure.

I know that I have been doing conventions on and off, mostly on, since 1994 and have never tried to ‘sell’ people on my stuff.  I just don’t want to.  I figure if my stuff is solid it will sell. I always get put near the hard sell jerks that are one part carnival barker and one part megaphone.  The heck of it is that these jerks sell.  They sell like crazy.  So is it that their product is stronger than mine, which is a distinct possibility, or is it that they are so aggressive that people can’t say no.  Literally.  They can’t say no.  And you know what?  There are few things as demoralizing as being outsold by a first time author selling a $25 softcover novel and with no real flair to his display or being outsold by a middle aged woman dressed as an elf (wearing that outfit ALL THREE DAYS of the con) with a silly castle display behind her and selling a really typical book about elves and fairies and such.  That kicks your ego down a little.

Ok, a lot.

Then there is the social networking thing.  I try it, I tell people what I am working on and what I have to offer and all but there’s a point of saturation where people have either bought your stuff or they are not going to.  Unless you have that many new ‘friends’, ‘followers’, or are just blowing up in some way I can’t see continually selling yourself and your product.  Events are different.  You have to keep hammering on events because people forget.  But product, man, I just can’t.  It makes me feel cheap.  I would love to have people, anyone, buying my stuff, but I don’t like going on and on about it to friends.  Feels dirty, dirty in the not at all fun sort of way.

So what do you do?

What do I do?

Beats me, kids.

I may take up competitive writing.  Like a write club sort of thing where you go and write stuff against someone in a ring, without, I dunno, pants on.  Wait. No one needs to see that.

The easiest thing is a gimmick, a scheme, and in the end I suppose we’re all looking for that golden gimmick, that wicked hook to reel in the sales.  Until you are known it is about who you know and how people will know you.  And there is a balancing act of making sure that the art, the writing doesn’t take a back seat to the persona, to the hook, to the gimmick.  I see so many artists and they sell, sure, but they sell because people are drawn to the persona more than the work.  I want to sell because people like what I am putting out, not because they think I am weird.  Heck, you get weird for free here, buddy.  Free every day.

So here I am, looking for my hook, working out my gimmick, and wondering if you’ll even care.

Hmm…

www.meepsheep.com

Free For All

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I mentioned in my last post MY theories on why the Arts have been in a slow motion decline.  There’s no science or research in my opinion outside of simply being in a small scene and seeing how things seem to be trending.  One of the issues I brought up was the idea of cost.  Art and Art Shows are too expensive.  In being expensive this limits the artists that can/will participate when charged for space and it limits the patronage when you charge for events.

Now, money is a necessity when it comes to the Arts because the venues need to survive and so they need money and artists need to make SOMETHING for their art or it becomes too expensive to keep creating the art.  So money is part and parcel with the Arts.  There is no escaping that.

But…there is a way to make economics make sense.

Here’s how I always looked at shows -

1. If I get the space free I am not going to charge artists to show.  Now, I am not running a gallery, I am ‘borrowing’ space and using minimal resources so there isn’t a need to charge.  I just don’t believe in charging unless you have to.  There is a point where the Arts ARE for the people, and for the Artists and you can’t nickel and dime people.

2. If I do have to charge I charge as little as reasonably possible.  Some shows, like paid events, you have to make the choice – charge the Artist or charge the patron.  These are shows where there is so much going on that paying to attend is something people will do because they want to see the show.  But you have to be reasonable.  For me, if the event is going to cost more than a few dollars and I need to make the money back then I look at the balance of what I can charge Artists/Vendors and what I can reasonably charge at the door.  I prefer to make my money with volume – lots of patrons – and keep the entry cost as low as possible.  It’s a gamble but it’s better to risk that than to out price yourself and alienate the people who may have come out for the show.  So this is where you lean on the Artists a little more, charge them a couple dollars more for space with the understanding that by keeping the admission low you can get them more potential customers.  It’s a trade-off that usually works.

The thing is though, you have to create events people WANT to come to. Especially if you are charging for space and admission.  It’s not as simple as telling people it’s a great show you have to CREATE A GREAT SHOW.  Something that warrants charging.  It’s more than having some poured wine and crackers, it’s creating atmosphere and fun.  It’s creating value.

There’s a trend lately though for people to charge Artists for space they already have.  These are venue operators/owners taking advantage of the Artists and the patrons they’ll pull in.  If it’s an event spearheaded by Artists and they are coming into a space that may not be open otherwise then it makes sense to pay the owner of the space.  It’s fair.  But there’s a fine line involved.  Same with charging for events.  Like I said, some wine and crackers isn’t enough. You have to build something that people want to attend.  I know the cost of a box of wine and so do those patrons.  Give the people a show.

And if the show is the art, then you better have a lot of artists, a lot of art, and a lot of interaction.  And this better be stuff that people don’t see every day.

Money isn’t an evil, its a necessity.  It only gets evil when people abuse their power, and take advantage of other people for money.

Me, I prefer the free shows.  Sure, with the horror con we have to charge but that’s a show and a venue we pay for, otherwise, for me, it’s about the Art and the Artists and building a sustainable infrastructure for the future.  We need that more than a few dollars and places need to learn that or alienate the public further.

c

(I write books – MEEP!)

Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark: Blackwood’s Guide to Dangerous Fairies – REVIEW

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   EEE! I love books like this.  The strange tie in books you never hear about but which add a layer to another work, like a film.  I had a similar experience with the Blair Witch books that came out.  Books that created another layer of creep to an already scary story.  Here we have the journals of a character discussed and briefly seen in the recent horror film and in these journals you find out why the things in Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark are so very frightful.  The guide is as much the story of Algernon Blackwood’s descent into obsession and madness as it is a guide to dangerous fairies but as you get into the book you realize that these two tales are really one in the same.  After being sold the remains of creature Blackwood cannot categorize or imagine he delves into the world of fairies and other creatures that lay hidden at the base of history.  In the book we are given illustrations and examples of many of these dangerous fairies but woven into all of it is the story and obsession of the ‘toothbreakers’ or ‘tooth fairies’, one of which is the body he had found.  But in his obsession with these things the tooth fairies begin to become aware of him and suddenly Blackwood has crossed a line that was not meant to be crossed.

   A very fun, very scary little book, this was a quick, fun read and is a great stand alone book as well as a fun companion piece.  There is also enough chills here to leave you with the lights on for a night or three.

Great read.

4.5 out of 5

You Know, Without The Pretense

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Oh to live in a world of art without pretension.  A world of writers without grandstanding.  Le sigh.

There is something of a mystery with artsy folk and writers.  There’s a sense of disdain for other people that work in their same trade.  It’s sort of like how petty music people will act when the band they like gets big, or when a punk band gets popular.  It’s the odd sense of entitlement and attitude that is boggling my poor little mind.

Example –

The best example I can give is one that will always drive me crazy and that is photographers.  For some reason the ‘I am a Photographer and you just take pictures’ attitude just won’t die.  I get that there is a difference, a vast difference, between someone like me, who takes pictures for fun, and someone who makes a living at it.  Just as there is a difference between someone who makes a living at it and truly strives to make Art.  And at the bottom of this ladder you have the every day person who has a camera on their phone and use different lens and filter settings to take pics of stuff.  I get that.  What I don’t get is the ridiculous attitude you get from said ‘art’ photogs.  Me, I am a writer.  I am not famous, I am not rich, but I have been writing for twenty years.  I will damn well say I am a writer.  But if someone picks up a pencil today and writes a poem or story and it’s the first thing they have ever written am I going to get angsty about them if they call themselves a writer?  No.  No because the active pursuit of writing makes one a writer.  Thus, the active pursuit of taking photos makes one a photographer.  You can judge skill and talent and all that, sure, that’s fair, but it’s silly to act as if someone who is an amateur is not legit in their pursuit.  You get the same with any art.

There is this crazy pretension about the arts that kills me.  I get that we’re all competing in the same way anyone that creates a ‘product’ is competing but that there is such a vast chasm between artists breaks my heart.  All of us were just starting out at one point so why the ire?

What’s the drama?

Competition.  Pure and simple.  The American culture isn’t as interest in Art or the arts as it has been, not in the traditional sense anyway, so there are less dollars spent on art in general.  And when less is spent it makes the market way too crowded for the ‘amateurs’.  I get that.  I do.  I can see where it’d be frustrating if you’ve been learning and honing your craft, your skill, your talent, for years, even decades, and yet someone comes along who does something that to you is amateurish and they make money it.  I get that.  The thing is though that we’re biased.  All of us.  Maybe that guy that just took a picture with his really nice camera phone just happened to take a really nice picture.  Maybe the guy that wrote that poem on a napkin just wrote a really damn good piece.  What we miss, we artists, is that some people have that spark in them, that artistic bend, and it’s always there, always, they just never pursued it until later in life.  Maybe they had this gift and just never followed it.

Ohhhhh…

Yeah…

Duh.

There is so much needless greed and angst in the arts and I hate it.  Times are hard, for everyone, and if you make your living in the arts it isn’t getting any easier but the heck of it has always been that artists have to work harder and be more driven than other people.  Why?  Because we generally work alone, we don’t get many accolades, and when we do our jobs right people don’t think about us at all.  Art is meant to take you out of the moment, to take you to a different place, even if it is just a place of inner peace.  That is why art is so transcendent.  When we get petty and bicker, and fight, and fill our lives with pretension and self aggrandizement then we start losing the very reasons we should be doing the art, and that’s to express ourselves.  We need to get over judging who is a ‘real’ artist and applaud when someone makes something full of passion that touches us, or someone else.

You know why people don’t connect with art anymore?

Because we took art away from the people.

We made art about ourselves, the artists. We throw ourselves lavish parties to extol how wonderful we are and how magnificent our art is.  We put outlandish prices on our art because we have a false sense of entitlement.  We charge people to come to openings or shows because we want to nickel and dime them to death.  We lost the people when we started telling them they didn’t understand our art, that they were not smart enough to get it.  In essence, we lost the public when we told them that we were too good for them. We have only ourselves to blame.

It’s time to make art about the people again.

And you know what, if it takes a guy that picks up a camera phone, or a pencil and napkin, or fingerpaints and a piece of cardboard to bring the people back to art then so be it.  I am willing to keep working my butt off to create things I love and believe in and am willing to keep working to make my art relevant to other people.  I have an ego just like everyone else but you know what, I can put it aside long enough to see that I am not the only writer, am not the best writer, but that I can still rock some faces when I put my mind to it.

c

We’re All In This Together Now

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Living in Flint it gets hard to see the future beyond the crumbling facade of the past.  Every few months it seems as if there’s another article, another opinion piece, another poll that lists Flint as a horrible place to work, to live, and to spend your time and money.  It’s as if Flint is not just the punching bag of the school but has become the pariah, the symbol for why you hated being there in the first place.  Flint has become a symbol, a warning against corporate life and corporate towns.  Yet, who could blame a city for latching onto an industry and letting it become your culture in a time when American pride and American industry were not only synonymous but were all that existed?  For me, I am long past blaming GM for the woes here, just as I am past blaming filmmaker and adoptive son Michael Moore for the stigma we have.  I wish I could say the same for the rest of the country.  Here there is still an obsession with how GM left, as if we are gilted lovers, and how Moore took advantage of that situation and profited by telling the story of our collapse.  There is a lot of bitterness still here, a lot of pain, but as frustrating as it is I can see why it exists.  It’s hard to heal when the people around you won’t let you heal.  How can Flint get over its past when at every turn there is a pundit or magazine using the city as an example of ruin and decay?

There is a point where it has to end.  Where our need as a society to kick someone when they are down, to ogle the rich and lambaste the poor, and the decision to keep pointing out our cities in decline as we pat the cities on the rise on the back has to end.  What purpose does it serve?  Beyond the headline, beyond site hits, beyond the flame-out fame you get when you bully the defenseless, what good does it do?

None.

In the end we’re in this together.  As a city, as a state, as a nation, as a world.  If we keep kicking one another when we’re down there’s going to be awfully few of us left to help the rest of us up eventually.  This is about carving out a future day by day, person by person, a future where all of us, our kids, our families, our friends, and the friends of those friends, can live and thrive.  I am not saying we will end poverty, and greed, and the dark things in our hearts.  I am not claiming that by simply greeting one another as we pass each other by we can change a culture but I am saying that there has to be a point where we stop fueling the fires of decline.  We have to stop the engines of decay.  I want Chicago, and Cleveland, and Milwaukee, and Beijing, and Flint, and Moscow and every city to rise.  I want a new golden age where we encourage one another and stop throwing mud at each other.  A time where we don’t have to like one another but can love one another for our very humanity.  A time when we can stop being local, national, and global bullies to one another.

Flint has a lot of work to do. We have a lot of crime, a lot of blight, a lot of poverty, and a lot of pain, and it’s going to take some time and a lot of work to change the culture here but it can be done.  It’s hard to get the work started in earnest though when with every step there is another stone thrown at you from the past.  And the older I get I wonder if it’s the culture of Flint that has gotten so bad or if it’s the culture of America that has become so mean, and cruel, and bad and they hate Flint for what they see reflected in the city.  They see their futures.

But it doesn’t have to be.

As a race, humans will always falter, and will always sway more towards the easy, selfish way more than it sways toward the giving and generous way but in the end, we all see that there is one simple truth that shines past creed, color, religion, sexuality, and all the rest, and that is that we’re all in this together now and the only way we’re gonna make things better is to stop making them worse.

There is no bravery in bullying.

There is no victory in despair.

There is nothing to gain from watching someone suffer.

And in the end we’re all in this together.

It’s time we started acting like it.

A Glimpse Of The Shadow

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   This is one of the many pictures I took today for the cover of A Shadow Over Ever. You get a feel for what I am aiming for, the general idea I was going for, without seeing the for real-real image I have chosen. I wanted something that evoked Pete Anders, the main character of the book. I wanted references to him because he is the heart of the book. He is the drive of it. I have really struggled for a long time on what to do with the cover – drawing, painting, photo – and whether I should have someone else do this or whether I should do it myself.

This is one of about thirty images I took but I have a rough idea which one I want to use. Some work to do on it but I think it’s a pretty solid image.

And yes, yes that is a cardboard tombstone.

1. Innovative baby. And cheap. That’s me, innovative and cheap.

Also…

2. Pete’s headstone was made of Styrofoam so I figure this is a nice tribute to that, as well as just looking weird.

So there you go…a brief peek before the book hits this Summer. The thought is to release in August with a Flint release party to launch it.

For now…

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