A PUSSY RIOT XMAS
Labels: pHOTO:mARIANA rOTHEN
.....go all of us. Listen, there's nothing happening in the woods. The deer are sticking to the fields. I haven't had the string back once. So, in lieu of hunting stories, lets talk politics. Dinosaur I am, I came of age in the late 60's. Of course I was immediately drawn to the counter-culture of long hair, protest, rock music and "fuck you" politics. LBJ was in the White House and I was stuck in a "cow plop" high school in upstate NY. We called them that because they always built them in cow pastures. The Vietnam War was raging and at 16 you were already choosing sides- school or draft? I took my II-S draft deferment, grew may hair long and went to every protest i could get to. In the Spring of 1970 National Guard troops turned their guns on a group of students at Kent State. Damn. maybe a student deferment wouldn't keep me out of the line of fire.
Life, death, birth....I've always tried to use these elements in my work. Deer hunting is just the recent manifestation of this. Last week, everybody's "rich white artist" whipping boy Damien Hirst has been called on the carpet for letting thousands of butterflies die in an installation at the Tate in London. Most don't need much of a reason for hating Hirst. I don't know whether it's the ease to which he came to his early uber-success or his attitude at dinner parties that have pissed everyone off. In any case, from his maggot infested cow heads, to sharks floating in formaldahyde, his work also deals with life, death and birth. I don't have any problem with a few butterflies sacrificed to art. Anything but those damn polka dots.
It's been pouring rain since 3 am. If it was later in the season I'd be dragging the open sighted 12 ga. through the wet woods, trying to sneak up on something. As it is, I'm home taking my eye medicine, banging on the guitar, watching TCM, commenting and posting stupid stuff on fb and staying dry. Since my earliest obsession with TV watching, I guess I've always been an observer. I can sit for hours and people watch in the city. But this ain't the city. Here in the sticks, if you aren't a barfly, you watch the critters. From my window I can see 2 camels, 4 ostriches, 3 donkeys, 2 alpacas, a horse, some cows and a bunch of goats. And that's without even getting off the couch. Except for the ostrich dance, they are all rather boring. I prefer the wild beasts.
Well, the first two weeks of bow season have been exciting. I've seen loads of deer, turkey and coyotes. I had one shot at a coyote and missed. The only deer I've had within range was a little spike and I've yet to have the string back on meat. Does snort. Turkeys sound alarm putts and coyotes turn tail and run. The other day, well meaning friend Chuck McC called and asked if I'd been watching the debates? I hadn't. He said the Paul Ryan is a deer hunter. "He washes with unscented soap and cleans his clothes with the same. Maybe if you did this you'd get one. And there's always sitting in our living room and shooting one out the window." I know my non-hunting friends are well meaning, and most think I'm just no good at hunting.....but hey, I do know enough to wash my clothes and clean my pits. And no, I'm not desperate enough to shoot one off the lawn.....yet. The debates can go on without me.
You wouldn't think that 2 hrs outside of one of the largest metropolitan areas in the world, you would have a life and death struggle playing out before your eyes, almost every day you walk in the woods. Somehow, it seems the case these days. Earlier in the week i got in the orchard stand for my evening hunt around 4pm. This stand provides the best view of the fields along the Neversink River. So even if I don't get a deer in close I always have action. This night I finally caught movement under the apple tree. Slowly reaching for my bow and clipping my release to the drawstring, the animal that revealed itself was not a deer but another big coyote. He stopped 15 yards in front of me, still hidden by a dead tree branch. I didn't dare stand. I'd have to try a sitting shot. I drew back, and as I did the side of my thumb caught my face mask completely blacking out my shooting eye. Franticly fiddling with it, I finally set the pin on his chest and fired. I had jerked the shot, hitting the dirt right in front of him. Fuck!
I stopped hunting in the mid-70's when I moved from NY to SF. I was living in a little woodstove heated shack with my 19 year old wifey, on dead end road in Bearsville. I had at my disposal hundreds of acres of woods just out my door. Since I had grown up hunting in a small town, I didn't really appreciate my circumstances. I was just starting to mature as an artist, teaching a class in lithography in Woodstock and working as as a carpenter. Life was good, but rough for a young couple. Gas had just doubled in price from 25 cents to 50 cents per gallon AND you had to wait in line to buy it. I needed a change. In the spring of 1975 we packed up the truck and headed west. I wouldn't seriously hunt again until the early nineties, back in NY.
As we all know, these are two of the only things in which getting close really counts. Two tasks have been paramount in my little world recently. One is getting the forgotten painter Ethelbert B. Crawford some well deserved press AND putting a a deer on the ground. After many emails to the local paper's editors they finally responded, sent over a photog. and a reporter and did a nice little piece on the MO David North EBC show. To use a deer hunting analogy this is like shooting a spike. It's something to be proud of, meat in the freezer, but in no way is it a reason to go to the taxidermist. So it fell to my gallery partner the artist Samm Kunce to see if she could crack "the paper of record", "the grey lady", the NYT and get some real press.
Opening day was Monday. It's an early deer season this year, for some reason. It being Oct. 1st, the weather is predictably unpredictable. Dawn was windy and chilly, without being cold. I started out at Majestic, in the stand where I shot a nice buck opening day of gun last year. Between the wind and thick foliage, just turning orange, it was an unproductive morning. I only made it until 9am, before climbing down without seeing a deer. I may go on and on about the zen beauty of sitting in a tree and taking in the nothingness of the landscape.... but not on opening day. I crave action.