Friday, July 14, 2017


  When I was a young hippie living in Woodstock in 1973 my wife and I used to go to Kingston and get food stamps. We both worked, but we were still poor, and eligible for government assistance, so took advantage of our God given American right to a hand out. I felt guilty and not just a little like a failure at 22. Already in our early 20's we were sucking on America's teat. In 1975 we moved to Haight -Asbury in SF and continued our social parisitic paradigm. In SF they accepted food stamps for everything- smokes, beer, condoms. It was paradise. Then I started working a little more, making a little more money and decided that soul sucking trip to social services was unnecessary and I stopped. We could make it on our own and we did...for the next forty years.
      I don't know how my first wife is making out financially these days, but I hope better than I. We lost touch yours ago. But for me, I'm back sitting across from Mrs. So and So, filling out forms and trying to get help. This is my trajectory. I went to college, got a few degrees, worked sporadically as a carpenter for forty years, established myself (to a degree) as an artist, never sold anything, never had health insurance, never was seriously ill and as I'm now losing my sight due to advanced glaucoma I waited until I was 65 to get medicare to get an operation that hopefully will save my eye sight. On paper I'm a retired man on a fixed income (social security) with a sight threatening disease asking for help. My social worker looked at all my forms and frowned. "You are fucked." she said looking up at me with a sympathetic smile.
   Thank God for people like this woman. In my naivety I was under the delusion that the U.S. government would never let a poor man losing his sight actually go blind due to lack of insurance. Boy was I an idiot. Mrs. So and So calmly informed me that America cared little for their elders and  veterans. They were more than willing to let me go blind and then provide me with a seeing eye dog and thousands of dollars in care to compensate for my blindness, but unwilling to pay for an eye operation. "You have to get Medicaid." she told me. Those days of food stamps for cigs and Coors lite came rushing back. I had no choice. This was my world.
   I know a lot of people who live in a different world, in the art world. Some do very well. Others not so much. All my long career i've wanted the approval of and admittance to the art world. I've never needed it, but i can honestly say I've wanted it. I was a eager immigrant.  I know it's stupid, but there you have it. I'm weak. I pity people that need it  in order to do their work. I can't imagine how heartbreaking that it is. I've seen artists crumble and give up when their galleries close, not having any idea how to operate without the support system. The art world kills artists. Luckily I'm not one of those. But I am as susceptible as the next schmuck when it comes to ego, vulnerability and need to pay my bills and now, at the very least, need to SEE. In this the art world has been, and will be absolutely no help. And now I think I can finally say I don't want their approval or their help. And it's not out of bitterness, rather a sense that this is a world, a planet I will never set foot on. I wish them well but they are on their own. I want nothing to do with their fake, crumbling facade. I'm moving on, accepting of my fate and my poverty, I'm going on the dole, getting medicare, food stamps and whatever this government will afford me under a repressive Republican regime in my little world. Bad as they are in general, Mrs. So and So- specifically is wonderful and nicer and more empathetic and helpful than any citizen of that glittering, flashy,  high walled, world across the roiling seas, just out of reach on the horizon.  I'm slashing the sides of my raft and pulling it back onto the beach.  See you around. I hope.    


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