My 2017 Christmas Card: Ghost of Christmas Present, 16” x 20”, oil on canvas.
A few years ago, I stopped painting. The mood of everyone I encountered had become so toxic that I was unable to close up for the night, and then pick up a paint brush and channel the universe. Now, I’m no pussy, no fragile bubble wrapped trigger warning bleeding heart. I grew up in NYC in the 70’s when crime was at record highs, to sucker punching parents, and was regularly jumped just going to the deli or to school.
In tattooing, you get all types, from ex cons to junkies, and I’ve been in the business long enough to remember what it was like tattooing when it was still illegal to do so. Tattooing the extreme fringes is part of the fun and excitement. But damn, have people gone over to the dark side.
Guys calling the shop and asking for totenkomp and SS bolt tattoos. Clients explaining how good the days of slavery were for black folk. Men bragging about paying for their tattoos with their child support money. Juice heads finding it inconceivable that we can tattoo women without raping them. The insane opioid addictions. The balance of the average amount of assholes one must contend with became severely out of balance. It beat me down like I’d stumbled into a highway and was mowed down by a convoy of Mac trucks.
So, I stopped painting, and didn’t do my annual Christmas cards, a thing I’ve done since the mid 90’s. It felt hypocritical.
All that accomplished, though, was to let the career shitheads flourish. The pendulum wasn’t going to swing back by itself, apparently, not in this day and age where fucking everyone over is the cool and trendy thing to do. The masses of asses decided to anoint King Honey Boo Boo to the throne, and now we’re dealing with actual nazis again, something I thought we’d settled in mosh pits at hardcore shows back in the Reagan era.
A shocking eye opener was how many regular people jumped on that train. A sweet young client of mine, intelligent and poised, told me she voted for the rotten bag of orange circus peanuts, despite the fact that he’s a concentration of the exact opposite of everything she believes. When I asked why, all she had to say was, “I just wanted to see all the little snowflakes cry.” What? Really? This is where we are? The richest country on the planet, and a vast percentage of us have nothing better to do than make other people cry? What the unholy fuck is that?
Which brings us to the weird place where I am quoting the Bible, of all things,… specifically, King Solomon:
“It is the same for all. There is one fate for the righteous and for the wicked; for the good, for the clean and for the unclean; This is an evil in all that is done under the sun, that there is one fate for all men. The hearts of the sons of men are full of evil and insanity is in their hearts throughout their lives. Afterwards they go to the dead.
For whoever is joined with all the living, there is hope; surely a live dog is better than a dead lion. For the living know they will die; but the dead do not know anything.” –– Ecclesiastes 9: 2-5
“We're all going to die, all of us, what a circus! That alone should make us love each other, but it doesn't. We are terrorized and flattened by trivialities, we are eaten up by nothing.” ― Charles Bukowski
That’s right, Sol, and Chuck, we are all just worm food waiting to happen. I used to know that, I’ve been ducking the reaper’s scythe since I got clean back before grunge, but my visions been clouded by the tsunami of shade that this drunken date raping frat boy of a society has been blinding me with. Why everyone else has forgotten this, I have no fucking idea.
A Christmas card isn’t a big deal, it’s nothing compared to a school shooting or other act of terrorism, but in this volatile environment, it strikes me that even a small kindness can be a hell of a thing. Trying to not let the bastards drag me down, I wish you all a very Merry Christmas, and hope that 2018 is the year that you step up, stomp the earth, and leave your mark for them to remember you by.