Thursday, June 30, 2016
CHURCH OR DUMP?
One day in the late 80's my girlfriend of the time and I were driving around the backroads of the Catskills, taking a weekend break from the art and music world of the East Village. I piloted the 1972 Caddy around a curve and came upon an old overgrown farm under a large expanse of sky. The fence lines were falling down and milk weed and swamp had taken over the pastures. Deer were everywhere. As I slowed down we both stared at the beautiful property. As I counted deer my girlfriend pulled on my sleeve. "Check this out." she said, cocking her head across the road to the right. There stood the future home of the CLGM.
The lock was off the door. We went in. The place was a wet, musty mess. You could see daylight through the roof and the foundation stones were squeezing out under the weight of disrepair. I was in love. We rummaged through the crap and at some point I lifted up a framed certificate. Wiping off the dust from the glass, I read the name- Osterhout.
Yesterday I went to the dump. The past couple of weeks I've been gutting the front of the shul. I've been pulling down loose plaster, removing old rug and scrapping and washing the floor.....over and over. I had a full pickup truck of old paneling and rug. As I unloaded all the debris a big biker type, with a lot of tattoos did the same in the pickup next to me. I glanced over at his junk and spotted a ratty mount of a standing bear. I recognized that bear. "Are you from Mountaindale?" I asked the guy. He said he was. I told him I had spotted his bear outside his garage months ago and had almost stopped and asked if he was throwing it out. He said he was moving to Virginia and was cleaning out his place, and that I was welcome to the bear.
I cradled the mount and loaded into my truck. Just as I was ready to leave the biker dude tossed another garbage bag on his pile and said "I was gonna drop it off at The Church of the Little Green Man, but decided on the dump." I couldn't believe my ears. At first I thought he recognized my truck and was fucking with me. But when I told him that the CLGM was mine, his reaction was genuine. He had no idea who I was. I introduced my self as we both smiled broadly. He said his wife was never going to believe him. His name is Chris. I guess some things are just left up to fate. Next time any of you are ready to throw out your old bear mounts please consider the CLGM before the dump. My collection has just started.
Thursday, June 23, 2016
Labels: pHOTO:r. KERN
Turkey season is over. Church is over. Cider Andy's barn is built. What to do? Well there's the county auction. Every year Sullivan County auctions off properties that have been repossessed by the county for the non-payment of taxes. Over the years I've picked up a few. I bought a cemetery for $300, some river front for not much more, and a farm house that turned into WSSP for $30k. It's bargain basement shopping for those of us artists that use real estate as material.
I had my eye on a little salt box on 2 acres down in Wurtsboro. My limit was $5,000. Crazy you say? It went for $6,500, the price of a cheap used car. After I bowed out, I felt bad....for a minute. If I was just a little more solvent, I thought. But then I remembered I already had multiple buildings that needed my attention. Another wreck of a house was just going to drag me down further. So I went to work stripping plaster and rug, and cleaning out the shul. Down on my hands and knees, breathing the dust, working day after day, was the only way i knew how to clear my head, and figure out what my next move (artistically speaking) would be. So far I have no answer.
In the meantime I had been called to jury duty. My civic duty comes first. The last time I had been called I was excused after the DA realized I was the only one in the pool with an advanced college degree and a misdemeanor arrest record. Somehow the crazy woman that kept getting out of her seat, and wandering around the court room, was more desirable than I. Go figure. This time I was called for Grand Jury duty.
Yesterday I went to court. A Grand Jury seats 23 individuals. About 50 of us were met at the door by a smiling, white haired, old duffer who thanked us for coming. Once seated we were treated to a half-hour's civic lesson on the Grand Jury by this old guy. He was a natural. The way he told the story he almost had me believing that we had the best, most impartial system in the world. Then I looked around the room at the sea of white faces. Of the 50 there was one black woman. I know it's a white county........but wtf? At first I was was actually hoping to be selected. I was willing to give up 8 weeks of Weds. to lend my intellect to the system. But as the morning ground forward in bureaucratic machinations I began to backtrack. My attention span was fraying at the seams.
Unlike a trial jury, the Grand Jury is picked totally at random. The names and jury numbers go in a bingo jar, a woman spins it and reaches in. By the time 23 were picked and Juror 69 was not picked I breathed a heavy sigh of relief. I was off the hook. Maybe it is a great, impartial system. But then I think of all the cops that are not indicted and all the poor people that are. I saw the look on the 23 seated. They were already bored. The chips were being stacked. The judge and the DA and the gentile old gentlemen jury wrangler ran the show. You could see it in "the people's" eyes. They would do anything to please the voice of authority. I was free to leave. But, I'm afraid the next accused meth-head, oxy-freak, crackwhore, child molester may not fare as well. God Bless Ameriklan. I'm going back on my knees in the shul, until I figure out my next move.
Sunday, June 12, 2016
IT'S ALL ABOUT DELIVERY
For years the most efficient delivery method for nicotine was a mechanically rolled cigarette. Neatly contained in soft or hard packs, when I was a young college student in the south, in 1970, you could buy a pack for 25 cents (a little less than a gallon of gasoline). The south was not only big tobacco country, it was big paper country. Whole forests were clear cut, only to go up in smoke between a pretty girl's manicured fingers. Every desk in my college had a 4 inch hole routed in the top. That's where the ashtray went. Good times.
Nowadays I have no idea what a pack of cigs. cost. I stopped smoking about 20 years ago. I hate to admit this, but it was government regulation, along with the exorbitant price of smokes, that forced me off the the habit. I was too cheap to buy them, too embarrassed to bum them, and too lazy to stand outside the bar, in the cold, to smoke them. When I look back at my life, I can recognize some pretty stupid behavior. Smoking is right at the top of the list. It's stinky, unhealthy, expensive, and a completely worthless activity. Smoking tricks you into thinking you are doing something, when you are not. The cigarette is one of the most efficient, insidious and brilliant devices ever invented to deliver sickness and death, while simutaneously lining the pockets of corporate America. The only other thing that comes close is the gun.
A well maintained, properly handled firearm will last generations. There is no built in obsolescence when it comes to manufacturing a gun. A 100 year old rifle will hit the mark as well as any brand new gun, right out of the box. I have my old man's Parker 12 ga. (lent by my brother), in my closet. It was passed down to him through the generations. It will kill a turkey as fast as any. If it misses it is never the gun's fault. This manufacturing of an excellent product is a giant problem for the gun industry. Light bulbs, cars, electronic devices and almost every other consumer product manufactured on earth figured out a way to make a crappy product with a limited life span. What's the gun industry to do?
Instead of focusing on obsolescence, the gun industry came up with efficiency. Guns became smaller, lighter, faster, cheaper, and more accurate. Sure gramp's .33 could kill a deer, but a composite stocked, light, smooth action, stainless steel rifle with good optics could maybe serve you better. Maybe. It's not hunters that the gun industry is targeting with new product. We are fine with the guns in the closet. It is the so-called "recreational shooter", along with the concealed-carry crowd, that is driving the explosion in gun sales in this country. And the gun of choice is the AR-15, the most popular gun in America.
This morning we all woke up to the news out of Orlando Florida. 50 plus people had been killed at a club in the wee hours of Sunday morning. An American citizen with two handguns and an AR walked into this club and began firing. It's an old, sad story. The military adopted the AR-15 (M-16) in the late sixties, during Vietnam. We needed a bullet delivery device as sturdy and efficient as the AK-47, used by our enemies. The AR-15 more than fits the bill. It's light, fast, accurate, has hardly any recoil, and packs a wallop. The bullet tumbles on impact. Slowly, through the decades, it has been marketed, sold and purchased throughout the U.S. The military (and ex-military) love it, recreational shooters love it, home defense "experts" love it, mass murderers don't leave home without it.
And this is where my analogy with nicotine delivery ends. It's where time enters the picture. As many people that have been, and still will be, killed by cigarettes, it will take time. You still have a chance. The time between the muzzle flash and an innocent boy, girl, man or woman hitting the floor dead, can barely be recorded. The efficiency with which an AR-15 assault rifle can kill and mutilate a bunch of people on a crowded dance floor cannot be overstated. Legal or not, wielded by friend or foe, a properly maintained, well oiled group of firearms, like those that that citizen used to attack THE PULSE CLUB, and kill all those people are the best bullet delivery systems that America has to offer. Until the politicians put the community's safety above the rights of certain individuals to "recreate" with these lethal killing machines, like 12 year old's playing army, or become Zimmermanesque vigilantes, afraid of their own shadows, the body count will keep rising. It's just good old American know-how. We know how to make a helluva death delivery system. If we don't have the political will power to ban these weapons, at least like cigarettes, we can demonize and make all assault weapons cost prohibitive. That would be a start towards delivering a bit of sanity into this insane mess.
Wednesday, June 8, 2016
OPEN LETTER 2016 AC- after church
TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN,
I am not a religious man. My beliefs are muddied, twisted, unclear, flawed and so covered by the callouses of cynicism that I can barely access them. Any "face" of God that is presented behind the mask of the majors- Judaeo/Christian/Muslim/Hindu/Buddhist corporate structure, I see as an acne scarred death puss, whose vacant stare promises no grace, but rather an excuse to violence. More killing is done in "the name of God" than any other reason. God gives me no peace of mind.
Yet, in spite of this confession, I am fascinated (as an artist) in all things religious. So much so, that early in my career I completed many works with religious themes, entered seminary as a performance piece , and actually ended up establishing a church with all the trimmings. That was 30 years ago. The Church of the Little Green Man has survived in all its subversive glory, spanning 3 decades, many locations, ending up in the little hamlet of Glen Wild, NY, nestled in the Catskill Mountains. I'm as surprised as you are that this is the case.
This past Saturday many of my friends joined together to form what we refer to as a "congregation", smilingly burning dollar bills, entered a historical church, sat down in the uncomfortable pews, and bore witness to the fact that love, absurdity, art, community, and even what some would call "non-judgmental faith" can exist in, not only theory, but action. The CLGM is a living, breathing entity. Whether the congregant is a first time dollar burner, or has been torching "the George" for all these 30 years, the look on their faces is the same. Church is about to begin and I am ready.....I think.
I may use the nomenclature of the "art world", referring to "Dada" or "anti-art", or "Absurdism", but we are as attached to the art world about as much as we are aligned with the Vatican. It's just a lack of language I come up against when trying to grasp what the Hell is really happening here. The bullshit term of "performance art" doesn't even come close to encapsulating what takes place during a CLGM service. There is a purity to this gathering that transcends definition. The core group that started this holy mess remain: Carlo McCormick, Cali Callas, Tessa Hughes-Freeland, Robin Winters, Walter Robinson, Samm Kunce, and Rob Kennedy, joined now by many younger and prettier congregants. To you all I bow in supplication. I don't know what exactly we've created here. But I assure you that it is original, in a world that seems to be reactive and self-referencial in the extreme. I am extremely proud of its existence and am humbled by you all.
Thursday, June 2, 2016
Wednesday, June 1, 2016
MISSING! My unusual animal friend
We've all seen those shows (or internet bits) of queer (unnatural) friendships between animals. There's the deer and the Great Dane, the lion and the gazelle, the cheetah and the hippo. Natural enemies can sometimes resist their urges to rip apart and devour, replacing them with what we humans would call love. These instances are rare and always make for good nature program fare. But who ever heard of a man and a cat bonding? I've had cats for years and have always maintained a healthy emotional distance. This is the natural order of things. I fed them, let them in the house if it went below ten below, and offered to put them down if things got too tough. Everybody agreed. The cats were happy. I was happy. When they ultimately disappeared (and they always did) I was sad to see them go, but moved on quickly. No time for tears. They were cats fer christsake.
Then I met Cheeky. Teehoo brought him up from the city for me as a belated birthday gift. It was love at first sight. He zeroed in on my beard, like it was the soft white belly of his lost mother, and the two of us bonded in a snoring/purring daze. As he grew, the beard never lost its appeal to him. As for me? Who wouldn't want a soft, furry pussy-cat in one's beard? Cheeky was the perfect companion. I loved to hunt. Cheeky loved to hunt. I loved to lay on the couch and watch bad TV. Ditto Cheeky. Sometimes when I went to bed Cheeky would be out. But he always tapped on my bedroom window and meowed to get in. I'd crank open the window at 3am and he'd vault in. When he was late I worried. But he always showed up, like it was no big deal, and well, I just couldn't stay mad at him. He'd stretch out his little hands and burrow right in the facial hair. Nighty-night.
The last time I saw Cheeky was Sat. evening. He was asleep on the couch. I was going out to Shewho's for the weekend. He had food and water and the run of the place. I left the door to the porch open so he could go and come through the cat door. I wasn't worried. I'd left him plenty of times like this. I hunted Sat. and Monday at WSSP. Monday afternoon I returned to the shack, planning to go after Putin one last time on Tues.(the last day of the season). I was in the woods by 4:45am. Cheeky had yet to return from his night prowl. I wasn't too worried. I heard one gobble and saw two coyotes. At 9am I returned home. Still no Cheeky. Now I was worried.
Three things kill cats around here- cold, cars and coyotes. Worried and willing to give Putin a pass, I spent the rest of legal hunting time walking and driving the road, and calling for Cheeky. It now is Wed. afternoon. I'm a wreck. I've checked with neighbors, called and called, and still no Cheeky. Shewho hasn't given up hope, but I think I have. It's my own fault for forming an unnaturally close relationship with an animal like a cat. I thought we'd grow old together. The house feels so empty. I keep hearing the cat door flap. Was that a meow? Then I realize it's just the fridge turning off and the gas from yesterday's pizza. CHEEKY! CHEEKY!!!!!!!!