The Nightmare. The Dream-time. Overdosed on bullshit, we all grew up convinced that we’d become rock stars, celebrities, and billionaire CEO’s.
You see it– over heaps of rotting, sheltered largess– how the truth is always grimmer.
And funny— if you have a soft spot for literal “escape-artistes” or better known as malignant dreamers.
Like slackers who claim to be “workaholics”— perhaps dark angels (– or beautiful, tortured freaks?) roosting over their water-colors and canvasses like world citizens of the MTV generation.
And here—assembled in this little inverted inlet of adolescent elan & slurry—
. . . . . the hallowed art room. Weep a jaded, bloody tear—like an acid/fractal corsage burning on the French gates of bohemian allure. Lo, the mortification.
Neither perky, nor perky. . . . . more like rays & skates swimming below the radar of the civilization-keepers, the granite-faced coldness of uptown museum giving. And how—dubious and penniless—it never stopped them from doing exactly what they were going to do anyway.
A dark fire, organic and rich—like a top-knot tied in some street agitator’s hair, standing with his back turned and arms crossed before a mural.
It was the indie cachet that mattered.
Call it French/Polish. Or Czech-Sicilian. Or any lone Portugeese/Hungarian misfit glowering over a mouth full of mushy, toothless gums with a bottle of wine and token beret.
Like street theater—acrobats, stilt-walkers, and clowns fanning-out to pick-pocket the unsuspecting like grinning astrological sun-faces and the theatrical color purple. Murky paintings of European prostitutes and café Marxism like the tricky riddles of Pablo Picasso confounding the bourgeois with a scribble in the bare, empty air.
Add, subtract. . . . . distract. Then divide by zero and cancel-out all standards to prove the infinite answer. There, all along justifying their shoddy example.
Artful minds. . . . . funny how that aligned.
A beggar’s banquet for dodgy humanities degrees. The only thing to do was bitch about movies.
For society was in some advanced state of decay as the postmodern condition rose amid a forest of video monitors and music-video hijinks. Like bread and circuses for “Alternative Nation”– the MTV broadcast propping-up the endless 1990’s smorgasbord of “chill”. Come as you are. Greet me, eat me, exploit me, consume me— like a complete, fully-wrapped package.
A poster—a video-box. A STATEMENT.
You only saw the sizzling, final product at the red carpet premier or other such overly-slick media event—perhaps at the white, sandy beaches of Cannes.
Beggars, thieves, and hanger’s-on.
It was mostly a state of disrepair and ambitions largely doomed to completion. It was the kind of artsy prestige that appealed to the junior purple-beret crowd holding up a flower and picking the petals in a haze of sweet perfume and acrylic paint-smells. Languid, droopy, depressive features like the misshapen, lumpen murk of a goldfish or other such mutated urchin.
Shyness, non-conformity. The courage of expression. How the gamin needs to bleed a little when they sing, the urban art-house angst like pained, droopy flesh torn in the gears of modernity.
The sculptor of verisimilitude, life-like and uncanny.
Lost in the flickering river of decrepit celluloid, like a faded and dying flower of human inspiration. Silver nitrates “killing you slowly” in an acrid bath of photo-room chemicals—crying mimes and angst-filled philosophers. Razor-tape, snipping scissors, and precise editing-room devotion. Giving one’s all and collapsing in exhaustion like sweet, unrequited death.
SHE. . . . . hashing over some obscure quirk in a movie, a hallmark pitch-shift, a change in tempo, a favorite scene—something odd & unusual. The grotto where you dwell. . . . .
Breathless and insistent, holding up an index-finger as if to pause all traffic. . . . . and recollecting herself as she expounds afresh on a different track. Holding her hand up—don’t speak—don’t ruin the moment—and then “release”. Am I man, or “Fifi” the French poodle on command?
The world needed a hero. Or visionary leadership in this non-volunteer democracy. Waking up to find “all wars fought”, as if “everything had been done”—and how the pillars of good citizenship may as well have wilted and withered into crushing apathy.
Freedom. . . . . horrible freedom. A power in negation, a wasted economy like an indented space on the couch. A veto, a thumb’s down. Everyone was a critic.
The air was stale, empty and thick. . . . . you could practically choke on it.
With art, perhaps came “too many choices” and the inability to concentrate one’s forces into a hard little nugget of unforgiving ownership. How to commit one’s obsession, one’s neurosis, one’s passion—and somehow turning it around into a profitable following.
But for naught. . . . . amid the metallic screech of starlings in some plaza of an old European capitol—the market segment of hungry dollars lost to crumbless anonymity, the faceless hordes.
Wretched, ugly humanity as impersonal social and marked forces crushed the weak underfoot.
The poet, joker, and thief—or the rapt, unblinking attention of “just anybody” before all the living sparks died in this cold universe– acceptance never your real home. Yes, that final emptiness at the center of that bottomless, swirling maelstrom found in desperation and unhappiness and seduction.
So it was, to “stand alone” and be judged and dissected. Even then, as the papparazi held up their popping flash-bulbs like a kind of obsessive-compulsive pecking of bottom-dollar tabloid interest—and the bodyguards held back the crush of onlookers.
Tell that to the young lordship of the remote control, for what makes the slit-eyed, lizardy interest perk-up from jaded slumber. How the forces of media production waved-in cranes and trucks and sets for you—just to lay down a slot of broadcast programming like an indifferent dish for your 13-28 target niche. And the union crew, hoggish and sweaty murmuring into walkie-talkies like expendable, reeking meat as “brand signifiers” were the order of the day.
More like corporate “shorthand” or associations with flippant, idle consumerism within arm’s length—even as your thicker service economy thralls saluted with a spatula and got back down to work in a pizza parlor. Time was money. . . . . and convenience blessed “the spoiled”.
Lo, the mortification.
Sure, the technology and modes of production were at our hands—making the personal, political readily enough with “DIY” or do-it-yourself workshop culture.
But somehow it all got pulled-down in the common Marxist sloth. . . . . doing what came naturally, “what was easier”, anyway.
As the omniscient Marlboro cigarette was flecked between twiggy fingers in dodgy cultural cachet paid for, with a song. Tear it up into a million pieces—or maybe we were just the inhabitants of another mostly-wasted art period.