Rhode Island, 2016:
I am an artist model at my alma mater. It’s the end of the semester, I need lots of hours, extra money, and there isn’t enough of my body type to go around, so those hours are ample. My knees hurt. Actually, both legs hurt, my back, neck is stiff, my brain is fried, and I want nothing more than to smoke myself stupid, drink cold, lime-y gin over ice, and watch General Hospital. However, one thing is nagging me, dragging me into the world of post-work productivity. I started this stupid blog a little while ago, and I haven’t posted in almost a month. Damn it. Damn me, damn you, damn damn damn any artist’s obligation to create anything for anyone other than himself.
After flipping my frozen fish fillet, snubbing my cigarette, and returning to my laptop, I throw a dart at my entire life as it pertains to rock and roll and decide to write about
I paint every night. I’m more creatively prolific than I will ever be again, at least without alcohol. Like many masters before me, I have one favorite subject to which I return again and again, each time capturing its likeness in a different mood and light. I paint portraits of David Bowie.
I paint so many that they can not be contained in a single manila envelope, not even two. I paint stacks of them on whatever I can find: old gift boxes left over from Christmas, the cardboard inside binders that keeps them not-floppy, anything. At school the next day, I admire the latest acrylic abomination, critiquing, navel-gazing, equal parts.
A year later, I apply to several art colleges, believing the visual arts to be my predestined path. I am forced to draw things that are not Bowie in order to gain admittance, and I do, somewhat reluctantly, but there are portraits of Bowie and other rock stars included in my slide portfolio.
My best friend, Jon, buys a dowel after watching me throw a tantrum because my final project for 3D Design, a life-size Xerox of David Bowie and a few trees meant to lurk among actual trees, will not stand up with fishing line alone.
“Why don’t you get a dowel, S?”
“Where am I going to get a fucking dowel, Jon?” (I have not slept for, spit-balling it here, I’m gonna say three days. Maybe four.)
“At the [RISD] store, S.”
“How am I…? How the… Can’t see it behind your fucking silver taco, anyway!” (His final project was, from my recollection, a giant aluminum taco.) I gesticulate wildly, stumbling in the direction of my dorm room. When I return, after lunch, my stupid wood elf Bowie abortion is standing upright and lovely – with the help of a motherfucking dowel purchased from the RISD store.
That year, partially motivated by a dare from Jon, I will sneak Bowie into at least seventy-five percent of my assignments, often obscured or abstracted, his silhouette as a composition-starter. That figure will only taper off to around fifty-fifty by senior year.
David Bowie has recently died. I’m stoned and suffering a litany of emotions and ideas, some outright pathological, to which I will not subject the audience at this time. During the sentimental maelstrom it occurs to me: That whole art phase was never about art. I just liked painting portraits of rock stars, particularly this pretty dead one. Visual art was simply a productive excuse to stare longingly at David Bowie.
Next week: One of those drunken, salacious gig stories that I always plan to write about before deciding upon something less interesting that doesn’t implicate close friends or potentially horrify my parents. Like that time Ben caught me giving Shane a blowjob in an alley before our last set at the Safari Lounge.
Yeah. That’s what sells these puff pieces. Smut.