Tag: Ramones

Fame vs success vs being ‘cool af’ in the arts

We all know the story of Vincent van Gogh – the troubled but beloved genius who apparently only sold one painting (officially) in his lifetime and we (cool people who read art blogs like mine) draw inspiration from this. The term ‘starving artist’ is probably derived from his story, history books are unapologetic at how weird he was and yet you and I know he was cool and our hearts have compassion for him.

Vincent Van Gogh -The-Red-Vineyard
Vincent Van Gogh -The-Red-Vineyard -1888- the only painting he sold in his lifetime!

Vincent didn’t need a rock star level success to feel like he was doing good work but he did need positive feedback from his peers. This is of course why he took it so badly when Paul Gauguin didn’t turn out to be his best friend and champion after he was invited to live with Vincent in Arles.  Gauguin was probably just bored and frustrated with Vincent’s eccentricities which caused his sharp tongue to say things he wouldn’t have said if he wasn’t in a de facto domestic partnership with the poor guy.

Vincent didn’t hide his work away from the world and when he was given opportunities to display his works he took them – such as the the seventh exhibition of Les Vingt (The Twenty) that was held in Brussels from 18 January to 23 February 1890. The Twenty were the next generation of artists after the Salon des Refusés first held in 1863.

You could say, in terms of rock music, the original ‘rejected’ artists like Edouard Manet and James Whistler did what the Beatles and Rolling Stones did for popular music (exactly) 100 years later – they opened the doors to a whole new wave of artists – look at what changed in terms of what was acceptable on the radio from 1963 (when the Beatles got started) to 1990 – that’s the year Dave Grohl joined Nirvana.

Vincent wasn’t a lone freak with no one who understood his scene – he was just a cool kid in the cool kids club right before everyone wanted to be a cool kid.

Mr Bean accidentally destroys the painting called Arrangement in Grey and Black- Portrait of the Artist's Mother painted in 1871 by James Abbott McNeill Whistler
Mr Bean accidentally destroys the painting called Arrangement in Grey and Black- Portrait of the Artist’s Mother painted in 1871 by James Abbott McNeill Whistler

The cool people you know from history were basically famous or infamous depending on where you sit and as you get deeper into the genre of your preference you find others who were equally cool but not so famous – for example most people who have heard of Michelangelo (the Italian Renaissance artist) haven’t heard of Giorgio Vasari but he was cool af (if you don’t know what the af means just ignore it)!

quote-as-long-as-art-lives-never-shall-i-accept-that-men-are-truly-dead-giorgio-vasari-136-73-98

Nowadays fame is meaningless – you can be famous for just about anything, it does not mean you did anything cool – and as for mingling with famous artists – yukk who wants to be so famous that the likes of Tony Podesta would collect your art – let me die before my peers are that ‘spirit cooking’ crowd!

Tony Podesta art collection Google search
Tony Podesta art collection Google search

Success? How do you measure it and where does that lead to? I’ve seen great local artists who scramble to fill wall space with sub par hurried work when they are given a gallery show – maybe they got a couple hundred more dollars with all that hard work but is that success? With that attitude at what point do you measure the money vs the amount of time you put into it and decide to get a ‘real job’?

Success can only ever be measured by how you felt about your work after it was done – it’s a bonus if someone else likes it. I wrote the following as a you tube comment for my favorite punk rock band Mean Jeans (hell, maybe they don’t consider themselves punk but it’s punk from my old school view point). The song is here (it’s their unsolicited unpaid jingle for Polly-O string cheese).

I know that most people don’t get it and that’s cool – most people aren’t punk rock in how they think – they are just punk flavored if anything. One thing is certain – the Mean Jeans pay attention – they listen and they not only get the hilariousness of copying a stereotypical sound or phrase but they can replicate it and even make it better. Would Mean Jeans exist without the Ramones and Screeching Weasel? maybe but I doubt what they made would hit the spot like this for me. Luckily the world is so saturated with media that the Jeans can’t possibly be as big as Led Zeppelin or Michael Jackson but fame just ruins any good band anyway – it’s inevitable and as certain as death – but there’s a sweet spot where a band can do no wrong because they get it for what it is and they can see themselves in that moment and they can appreciate it. Since no one but perhaps the Jeans themselves will read this, guys it’s ok to have this amazing resume to show that you can do anything musically – when you want to do something different you’ll be successful in that too – you can milk it till it’s dry or flip to being something else entirely but your legacy as musical geniuses will endure as long as we have a means to playback these great first albums!!

Will today’s free spirited and fun loving Mean Jeans be tomorrows suit encrusted ad men or money grubbing record producers – maybe, but I suspect they won’t be playing the same stuff tomorrow as they are playing today – they are too creative!

You can be famous, you can be successful but it’s something else that makes you cool as fuck. I know that the term ‘cool’ has been around since at least the beatnik era – maybe it goes back before then (jazz era I suspect) but being cool is why we had a Grateful Dead and not some unknown blue grass cover band instead.

I don’t subscribe to the misery of religious evangelicals or crusty vegans who boycott everything except free range lentils due to the perceived evilness of everything fun (and believe me I tried to go there at one point in my life but it made me so uncool for a second that I hated myself) so I recommend you watch the Grateful Dead documentary on Amazon Prime called Long Strange Trip. Yes, I know Amazon is probably an evil company causing destruction and zombie apocalypses all day long but it does show that Jerry Garcia was cool as fuck because he just wanted to play and make people happy and when you are cool miracles can happen and the world is a better place.

Motto

I play it cool
I dig all jive.
That’s the reason
I stay alive.
My motto
As I live and learn,

is:
Dig And Be Dug

In Return.

From The Collected Poems of Langston Hughes
New York : A. A. Knopf : Distributed by Random House, 1994
Edition:1st ed

 

Be cool and you’ll reap rewards far deeper than mere fame or success!

Let’s face it, you can’t have a cool kids club without the existence of not so cool kids – it’s all part of the ying yang – aren’t you lucky that you are in the cool kids club even if you aren’t famous or wealthy etc yet? You can’t buy cool as Mojo Nixon said!

My non-famous but genius friend Biff Brown wrote the following song for me because I am cool and so is he! 

My non-famous but genius friend Dave Moses wrote the following song – Nashville Fauxgrass. Just think, there are billions of people who will never enjoy this gem – too bad! 

And the following video is for all of us cool kids!

The following songs are cool as fuck in my opinion – go listen to the music you like now!

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How to paint – without stress of failure

Critterz - spontanious painting - oil on cardboard - Daz Lartist
Critterz – spontanious painting – oil on cardboard – Daz Lartist

If you do not want to read all this then you can listen on the youtube video I made (of me narrating this post)!

I’ve found that painting/writing with just the barest idea of what I want to manifest on the canvas/page allows for the most satisfying process and results. I do not like stress.

People often ask me to draw or paint them something and if it’s something I enjoy (and would draw or paint anyway) I don’t mind as long as they have no expectations, however, people also say “would you copy this photograph of this loved one so I could frame it and have a nice gift – I can pay you of course” to which I politely say NO (go pay a professional portraitist 10 times more- you’ll be much happier regardless of how good an artist I might be).

I do not ask my friend who is good with cars ‘you are an awesome shade-tree mechanic – it would mean much more to me to have you change the oil in my car than the garage down the street – I can pay you of course (the going price is about what I make an hour at my office job)’. I do not ask my friend who brings great cookies into work to ‘make me some of those awesome pumpkin bars – I’ll pay you (the couple of bucks I can buy similar items for in the gourmet section of the bakery on fancy-pants people street)’ – so why ask me to do something that I’m good at for you?

DO you even know what I like to paint or do you think that you are being friendly by acknowledging my identity as an artist and are playing your identity as a patron? I don’t care for the idea that my identity is subordinate to yours, no offense. God is a creator and that is a pretty good role model; I have a day job and I don’t care if I am subordinate to all the whinging clients and bosses – that isn’t my identity! My identity is how I have chosen with my free will to explore this life and you cannot change that!!

The Hound from Game of Thrones telling you to quit whinging!
The Hound from Game of Thrones telling you to quit whinging! I borrowed the pic from here.

Another statement, meant honestly but perceived less than politely that I have heard many times is “you could sell that” – to which I typically respond internally (depending on who said it) with a comment such as “you could sell those tits at the strip club” or  “you could sell your wife for a penny a go in the park after midnight“. You can’t buy my creativity with just a bunch of numbers in an account! I allow you to gift me large sums of sweet abundance according to your talents and means should you desire the fruits of my labor but it’s a case by case basis – my consciousness must be involved in the transaction!

Being forced (if only by your own expectations) to do a particular creative project that you have envisioned (exactly as you envisioned it) typically results in stress, writers block etc etc at least for me – my mind wanders as does my brush and unless the sum of bank notes offered for consideration will allow me more time to be an artist (aka dump my day job) then it’s just chump change.

As Alan Watts (the great 20th century bridge between Eastern and Western philosophies) said (in the entertaining and educational video below) and I paraphrase here ‘a lot of people think that the spontaneous -or completely natural life – is to act according to whim (but Zen is more like being ready for anything )‘. Bashar, another great speaker who’s mouth lives in the magical land of California, also states that being spontaneous is the key – as when you aren’t getting in your own way by ‘thinking’ then synchronicity (literally) opens the path up – if you aren’t expecting the path to look differently then you are open to see it when it appears – all you have to do is consciously choose to follow that path once it appears.

Most pain comes from unfulfilled expectations as Bashar stated – people regularly assume that the solution to a problem must come in a particular way (the way the brain has settled on as the ‘right’ way) but as we all know and experience often – there are often many paths to an effective and satisfying solution – just allow yourself to be open to more than just one of the possible solutions.

I do not claim to know the totality of the wisdom of Bashar and I am not even close to understanding the ways of Zen but I can tell you that I do not have stress when I paint and I am often delighted at the results of my spontaneity.

Many artists feel that they cannot gauge their worth without patronage. They will even throw their creative process out the window to mechanically mass produce work when given a gallery show with space to fill. Is it worth being in that rat race? How many thousands of dollars can you make from your local yearly or semi-annual ‘one man show’ to make a living on par with an office job?

When it comes to being an artist – I’ve been there and done that and yes, I know all about the ghettos that art websites almost immediately became on the internet when people realized they could make a few bucks there too. This is why many artists are ‘housewives’ (no offense intended with that word – if you have a wealthy and kind enough spouse so that you can make your art career without stress then you are winning in the best possible way).

Money for your work should always be a sprinkle on the icing on the cake – not the reason for making the cake – or you will be fighting for scraps (no offense intended). The crappy mainstream media has reduced fine art to how much it is worth in terms of money – or, if it is so famous, it can be labeled ‘priceless’ which means someone like me, a regular person with no silver spoon, would have to pay someone to see it. Of course something can be ‘priceless’ and still be put up for sale.

albertpinkhamryderfarmyard
“it was property formerly in the collection of…” If A.P.Ryder was so “mystical” why are you treating this like a used car? This artist is in the art history text books!!!! At least the comic strip Apt.3G gave A.P.Ryder a mystical tribute and the “Fifty Two Pieces” blog post about that (linked here) from 2009 explains that brilliantly!!

It’s insulting to me to just rank artists as a whole especially by the amount of money that some rich people (whom I label as a whole here ironically for purposes of illustration) have paid for those artists work (mostly because of some arbitrary investment potential that was often contrary to the spirit of the artist). Artists themselves, decades ago, understood the insanity of it all but even canning your feces like Piero Manzoni did results in ‘art’ that rich people buy  (instead of helping that homeless veteran or family etc). Who wants the shit-buyer crowd to be your patron anyway?

The allure of fame and fortune, even with its lottery winning odds of occurring is often what takes that child who is naturally creative to become an adult with the identity as an artist. All adult artists have to make a contract with their ego mind that tells them – is it worth it – will I starve and not be able to get laid and/or be loved? Being independently wealthy off your own work is the intellectually saner goal that many artists aspire to but often results in settling down to your art being a second day job where you schlock your wares like a fishmonger in the market – nothing wrong with that but it’s a job and who needs another one of those – talk about stress!

It’s stressful to build an identity as an artist – people are multi-faceted and typically members of a society that requires certain standards and conduct. Luckily we can dress like good old Vincent and be splattered in paint like Michelangelo and not draw attention these days but we cannot just choose to be like Paul Gauguin anymore – sure you can live and paint in Tahiti but you can’t fight the system to forge a new type of art and philosophy with oil paints any more.

You also don’t have to suffer to be a great artist by rejecting society or feeling that you will be selling out if you have a day job – just make your identity as an artist be one of your many facets – a favorite hat to wear when you get the chance. Just don’t be wishy-washy about it – have a passion for your beliefs! No whinging in art – it’s arbitrary! Just paint over it if you don’t like it and don’t set yourself up to fail – it’s not a race to be great!

In some ways, like Terrence Mckenna alluded to, history is running out (at least in terms of oil painting). We’ve mastered the realistic (500 years ago!!). We’ve mastered the emotional and sensual feeling from color field non-objective work (think you can do better than Rothko? – maybe, but you will always live in his shadow). We’ve mastered the surreal, the psychedelic, the erotic, the folky, the charming, etc etc – you name it and many many people can pull their veiny throbbing art meat out and it will be bigger than yours.

For oil painting this is the final chapter in the art history book- ‘having done every possible thing with oil paints on millions of canvases, walls and object d’art- artists finally settled into the realization that like explorers of old, someone had already been there’. Someone has probably already written on this theme before too haha!

Can you do better in your chosen style than the acknowledged masters? YES! For example in a way that (only by pure synchronicity or SEO) will any one of my readers understand – Mean Jeans write better Ramones songs than the Ramones (yes I know that is practically sacrilegious haha)!

My favorite Ramones style song was written by Bil Mcrackin of the Mcrackins. I am weird, oh yes, but why am I STILL (almost a decade later after I wrote my original blog post about it) the only person on the Earth who raves about the track “Belly Jean” (that apparently was only released on Coldfront Records “Music To Listen To Music By” sampler CD). It is still the only song in the world (I’ve searched for) that hasn’t made it onto Youtube (and I like some obscure punk rock stuff trust me!)

music-to-listen-to-music-by-belly-jeans-mcrackins
Music to listen to music by CD – long ago vanished unfortunately

“Shared my secret with a few of my friends, should have kept quiet cos they’re laughing again” Belly Jean by McRackins

In 2007-8 I did a Google search for “Belly jean” mcrackins and found two measly hits, one was the Amazon site for the CD that has Belly Jean by McRackins, Music To Listen To Music By (there was a sample of the song on Amazon back then but now it’s completely vanished). The other hit was my old art blog – trust me, this bothers me way more than being a flat Earth believer.

Belly Jean Mcrackins search 2007-8
Belly Jean Mcrackins search 2007-8

I had even written Bil McRackin, the guy/egg who wrote the song, and even he didn’t consider it a hit single, he remembered writing it and quoted the lyrics, and while he had a sense of pride about it he considered it ‘a rarity that didn’t make the cut for one of their regular albums but it might be included in a rarities CD one day‘.

“My Belly Jean she means the world to me, my Belly Jean if you could only see, could I be that lucky guy, you can’t say I never tried” Belly Jean by McRackins

I loved this song the moment I heard it, it has all the elements of a perfect pop-punk song including the 5 second guitar solo and catchy chorus, even la-la-las! Now it seems like a miracle I ever found the MP3 in the first place; I downloaded the MP3 randomly from Napster (back before it was illegal to do so).

“a ten pin bowling ball, she threw a strike like it was nothing at all..” Belly Jean by McRackins

Do you ever get that feeling that the world makes things just for you? Words cant really describe how grateful I am for this song, even if I am literally STILL the only person who has cared enough to write about it on the internet.

~have fun my friends! I love you all! Daz Lartist~