Wednesday, January 11, 2012
I start part two of this ever culturally relevant, yet handsome year in review, with a touch of nostalgia, and more than just a touch of, "where have all the good times gone", sadness in my heart. When I was but a teen, I was already in love with making lists (and with making love...but that would be a lie, as I was probably still a virgin....I digress). I Couldn't wait for December to come around; not for the humungo-snow falls that would close down our school, or even Christmas, that would bring us globs of new albums, like the Ted Nugent's, Double Live Gonzo, or, Steve Miller's, Book Of Dreams, but that it would be soon time to make my top 10 lists. Top 10 albums of the year, songs of the year, movies of the year, books of the year, etc. And I certainly wasn't the only one...no, my brother John, my friend Steve, the whole gang who hung out, and bought the mighty brit metal mag, KERRANG!, and our imported, not released in North America metal albums from the Record Peddler on Queen Street East.
The year end would find us all a-tither, writing, crossing out, re-writing our "best of" lists, wondering how the hell we were gonna whittle it down to only 10 albums. Why did we do this? Well, because we could then share and compare our picks and excellent taste with each other. To show our fellow list enthusiasts just how culturally aware we were of what was going on in the only things that really mattered in our lives. I remember that flight from Toronto to New York City (actually Newark) in the 80's, and we made our top 10 album list at 35,000 feet. Steve and I exchanged lists just as we were headed for our landing. WOW!!!! Holy Shit!!! We both had picked Queensrych's metal opus/concept album, Operation: Mindcrime, as our No. 1 Lp of the year!!!! No way we could argue that one! Yes...that all important argument on why our lists blew away their lists, WAS also one of the main reasons...the discourse...the damn discourse!
Fast forward over 25 years...and I am embarrassed, and sad to admit I have no idea what is "really cool", music wise, out there. I think I bought a whole 2 Cd's this year, Titus Andronicus', The Monitor, and Amy Winehouse's posthumous collection, Lioness (which come to think of it, I didn't even buy, but got as a Christmas gift). Why did I stop listening, or even more importantly caring, for the latest in the cutting edge, alternative (got over metal decades ago when I realized just how bad the lyrics really were) sounds and bands? I still listen to a lot of music, from The Jesus and Mary Chain, to The Replacements, Tom Waits and Nick Cave to Billie Holiday and Hank Williams. I think I have a better, much more eclectic taste in music, than I've ever had in my life...but It bothers me so much that I have no idea what The Black Keys, or The Weekend, sound like...know what I mean? What happened (a lot of blame goes to that "snobbier than thou/ we broke that band first, but now we hate them 'cus more than 4 people bought their sophomore disc" new music web site, Pitchfork)???? I can make a great, even snob-esque, list of my top 50 cinematic moments of the year, but music? Huh???? I could blame it on the lack of time I have in a day nowadays, but I'd only be telling a half-truth, I think. A sad, regretful state of affairs my fine friends.
I am gonna give you a "Top whatever" lists of lists....but...ya know that guy Steve that I kept mentioning, We have always remained great friends, stayed in touch (seeing each other for an hour or two every 18 months, when he drives into town from his home in beautiful, downtown London...Ontario, to catch a concert, by an amazing new band that I have never even heard of) , he still knows what is cooler than cool in today's music scene, and still makes those year end lists. In fact I noticed he posted his Top 10 albums of 2011 a couple of weeks ago on Facebook...I kid you not...I only recognized one band name...pathetic. Sooooo...I bring you a special guest columnist's list of the Top 10 Albums of 2011 (now, I just have to go fucking find it somewhere on his FB page. Lovely.)
(Jeez I so fucking hate that new facebook TimeLine page..have people never heard of design and composition...it's just all over the place...What am I suppose to look at first???!!!)..Anyway....Ohhhhh... Stevie's given us a whole Top 20 list...stick that knife in a little further will ya Tide?!!!
Stephen Cribar's Top 20 Records of 2011
1. Black Lips – Arabia Mountain
2. Glasvegas – Euphoric Heartbreak
3. Kvelertak – Kvelertak
4. Okkervil River – I Am Very Far
5. Smith Westerns - Dye It Blonde
6. Thee Oh Sees – Castlemania
7. Fucked Up – David Comes To Life
8. Jonny Corndawg – Down On The Bikini Line
9. Steve Earle – I’ll Never Get Out Of This World Alive
10. Bomb The Music Industry! – Vacation
11. Dirty Beaches – Badlands
12. Fleet Foxes – Helplessness Blues
13. Wilco – The Whole Love
14. Deer Tick – Divine Providence
15. Jack Oblivian – Rat City
16. Dawes – Nothing Is Wrong
17. Xray Eyeballs – Not Nothing
18. The Horrible Crowes – Elsie
19. Iceage – New Brigade
20. Kurt Vile – Smoke Ring For My Hal
* (Ok...I've heard of 7 of these artists...but have not listened to even one of the aforementioned albums...and I consider Glasvegas one of my favorite bands!)
Thank you so much Steve for sharing...A big round of applause for my friend/cutting edge music aficionado, and list maker, Stephen " You've Never Seen DEVOTCHKA LIVE?!" Cribar!!!!
SHIT!!!! once again this post is longer than I'd like it to be...so no room for my year end lists 'til part 3. Hey...your loss...now you have to wait to see who won, "Best Boobs of the Year"!
Saturday, December 31, 2011
Like I said, there will be lists, awards, op-ed rants of all the important news headlines of last year...and if there's time, I may even do a lil' song and dance routine for y'all. Let's just start with a biggy, get this baby right out of the way.
And now this year's DAMMY Award for "The Most Fucking Ridiculous Food, Plant, Place, Person or Thing", goes too (drum roll please)...Toronto Mayor Rob Ford!!!!!! I know...I know...if you live outside of Canada, you're now going, "Huh? Whooooo?", and for that I apologize, but for my fellow Torontonians, they totally understand how and why he easily walked away with this prestigious honor. Take a bow big fella. Look I can be here forever, describing him, and all his boneheaded moves, but to help you Americans out a bit (see most recent photo of famed Toronto Mayor above)...take one of your far right wingnut candidates vying for Presidency, give them a partial frontal lobotomy, add a good deal of weight, remove their neck, tighten their tie...and you have our award winning right honorable mayor. Like your Republicans, and fellow Tea Partiers, he has finally proven the out-there theory, that dumb, ignorant and stupid, is, in fact, the "New Genius"! You get the picture, right?
Moving right along....let's do a little of the ol' "Love/Hate" list-a-majig that you all love so well....
LOVE...the way that social media like Facebook and Twitter have played such a gigantic role in helping those protesters, especially in the heavily censored middle east, win their revolutions over power-hungry, greedy, blood -thirsty tyrants, dictators and regimes.
HATE...the way that social media has become so powerful, so adored, slobbered and made love to by the masses, that it has practically killed real human contact, and destroyed one of mankind's greatest inventions, the art of the stimulating conversation (you know who you are...shame on you!).
LOVE...watching the news. I am a certifiably, grade A, government inspected news and information junkie. That's why I'll always beat your ass, but bad, in Trivial Pursuit, NTN, or a good ol' fashion bar argument that the winner has a pint comin' to them.
HATE...watching any news program that treats Battle of the fucking Blades, or The Bachelor, or American Idol as a news story. NO! THIS IS NOT A NEWS ITEM...IT'S A FUCKING COMMERCIAL FOR A PROGRAM THAT WILL BE ON THE AIR LATER, ON YOUR SHITTY, GODFORSAKEN CHANNEL!!!! I'm basically down to PBS and BBC news. I mean, they're the only one's left that realize that a protest in Libya is more important than who's gonna be the next loser off the fucking island!
Let's go back to the DAMMY's, shall we...........
BEST MOVIE OF THE YEAR: (envelope please) Oh!!!! For the first time in our long (????) history it's a tie! The winners are... THE TREE OF LIFE and THE GIRL WITH THE DRAGON TATTOO!!!! Yes, two very different films, made by two of the best directors of our time, Terrance Malick and David Fincher, respectively. Both are masters of great visuals and atmosphere. Both films also have something else in common...both are either loved very, very much...or detested very, very much!!!! There is no middle ground in this one. Now, if you're one of the aforementioned haters of these 2 films, and wonder why I would put them right at the top of the list, there's an easy answer. I have great taste in film...and you have shitty taste, and wouldn't know a good movie if it hit you with a 2 by 4!!!! Now scat...don't even argue with me...just go watch your Transformers 4 , or any movie that Kate Hudson stars in (not including Almost Famous, of course). God, I love being condescending and holier than thou when it comes to movies!
Now to be fair, there are so many movies that I have yet to see that have gotten great reviews,
eg; The Artist, Hugo, Carnage, Shame, Drive, and at least another dozen...but those two were easy winners out of what I've seen this year. Actually, I wholeheartedly agree with what I've read from more than one film critic, this has been a year full of great performances...but not Great films.
WORST MOVIE of the YEAR: TRESPASS, starring Nick Cage, and Nicole Kidman. WHAT?????!...Look with Cage you gotta go in knowing that there's a 96.3 % chance that it's gonna stink to high heaven, but NICOLE????!!!! Huh??!!! Did you really need the money THAT badly????!!!
BEST TV SHOW of the YEAR: BREAKING BAD ('nuff said, but it would be nice if Mad Men got over it, and came back on the air!)
WORST TV SHOW of the YEAR: Look buddy, you don't have the time, nor I, the space, to list them all...there's a good chance that if it's on network television, it's on the list. Excluded, is NBC's Prime Suspect. No, not even close to the BBC's version, which starred the incredibly gifted Helen Mirren, but for an American network show...not bad at all.
BEST BURGER I'VE HAD ALL YEAR: The house special burger (rare) at Allen's on the Danforth, in Toronto. It's probably the only burger I had all year (What? I told ya I was eating better this/last year), but it was such an orgasmatronic-heavenly dining experience that it still brings saliva to my mouth just at the thought of it. In fact I'm drooling as I type (you really didn't want to picture that, did ya?).
BEST MARTINI of the YEAR: INSOMNIA (563 Bloor St. W. at Bathurst, in Toronto)
BEST BARTENDER of the YEAR Who Understands What Ya Mean, When You Say "Dirty, With Extra Olives", and Still Refuses to Flirt Back at You, Though She Has Her Reasons: DAMARA HUYNH (Insomnia)
...and No,neither Damara, nor Insomnia have paid me in any way for this publicity...thoughhhhhhhhhhh it wouldn't hurt them either, if they started sending over a few martinis or tequila shots, gratis, as I sit there at the end of the bar, sketching, writing, or hopelessly hitting on someone.
Now, Ive been hearing through the grapevine (by the name of Elaine) that my blogs are too long...soooooooo....we'll end part 1, here...and I'll post part 2, tomorrow, or next week, or..............
I leave you with my only mantra/resolution for 2012:
"Only those who risk going too far can possibly find out how far they can go."
Thursday, July 7, 2011
Here's a nifty idea...though it can also be seen as laziness on my part (you decide). You know those books that are published posthumously (after the author has passed away Einstein!)? Take the late, great David Foster Wallace (he of Infinite Jest fame), who just had a fine, brand new novel, The Pale King, published, though he committed suicide in 2008. Or, how's about the long dead author of the "Millennium" series, (a.k.a., that cute, tattooed punk/goth babe), Stieg Larsson, who may or may not have a new novel out...eventually. The publishers of said series, are in talks and in court, trying to get their hands on a supposed three quarters of a fourth novel in the series, on a laptop now in the possession of his partner, Eva. She has stated that finishing the book is a task she is capable of doing. Can you say, Ka-ching...Ka-ching...Ka-ching???!!!
"So? What Joey? Planning to write a book? To die soon?" Not exactly...though as Gilbert Grape was fond of saying, "I can go at any time." I was interviewed in May for a new arts and culture magazine called, ARTizone. I believe they were aiming for a Canadian version of JUXTAPOZ magazine (one of the best art mags out there), but alas, I just heard that the project has been "shelved for the time being". Thus, my interview has been banished to a Hell where unwanted magazine stories and interviews go to be tortured for all eternity.
So...I didn't die, but looks like the magazine did. But wait...I do have the "famous ARTizone interview manuscript" (what? Okay...not exactly famous...Yet!), that was never published, hidden away in my hard drive..."GASP!", you say (or maybe not)! See...note how I was trying to tie it all into the "published posthumously" thing, and with a twist to boot. Daddy knows you like those twists at the end.
I met the infamous Canadian Pop artist Joey DAMMIT! in his favourite neighborhood drinking establishment in downtown Toronto. Surprisingly, for an artist, he was not only on time, but was already there when I arrived, sitting at the bar, talking up an attractive bartender, and nursing what he insisted really was his first martini. Aside from the bartender, and a couple having lunch in the far corner table, the place was deserted. Perfect for a one on one interview. DAMMIT!, I have to admit, has been one of my favourite contemporary artists in the country for some time now, though we had never met before. He seemed to be in a particularly talkative mood (not out of the ordinary, or so I've been told), the Motown tunes were sounding great, and he had already ordered me my very own martini, so I was more than raring to go.
Where were you born?
I was born in Madeira, Portugal. I Immigrated here to Toronto with my family when I was but a wee tike of almost four.
Is Joey DAMMIT! a sort of stage name? Or is this your real name?
Oh yeah... completely my real name. NO! Of course it’s not my real name. I consider it more of an alter-ego, more like a Superman/Clark Kent thing. Being a marketing/self-promo whore, I realized that DAMMIT! ("last name ALWAYS in CAPS with an EXCLAMATION MARK!"...as he forever reminded me) would always stand out in print, and let me tell you…people remember the name better than …I dunno, Kowalski.
Did you grow up knowing that art was something you wanted to pursue?
Kinda...I knew from the age of 5 or 6 that I wanted, more like, HAD to be famous…rock star…writer…actor...artist. In fact why not all of them at the same time? I recall, watching, at a very young age, what must have been a mini-series of some kind on Leonardo DaVinci on TV. From that point on I knew that I wanted to do everything creative, be a Renaissance man like good ol' Leo. The funny thing is, and it's really quite ironic considering everything, and everybody thinks I'm just pulling their leg whenever I say this, but I was an altar boy who really did have every intention of becoming a priest.
So, what happened to your calling?
Puberty. At first anyway. I mean, what?! No women?! No sex?! Ahhhh, yeah... Adios Mon Signor! Soon after, it didn't take long to see just how much of a fairy tale, how hypocritical, how dumb this supernatural crap that we call religion really is. Look, don't get me started.
OK, next question then. What artists inspired you? Which artists excited you most?
I was certainly inspired by comic book artists first. “Fine artists”...and I so hate that term...only started influencing me in the last decade or so. Dave McKean's Sandman covers, Nick Bantock's Griffen & Sabine trilogy , film makers like David Fincher and David Lynch. I mean the opening credits of Fincher's film, "Seven", is so much more thrillingly creative to me than anything I've seen at the MOMA. Any time I'm in a creative funk, I put on that DVD, and watch the opening credits over and over again. Also, music, especially the work of Trent Reznor, with or without Nine Inch Nails, influenced me tremendously. If you listen to what Reznor did with the soundtrack to the film, "Natural Born Killers"? It's the audio version of my art work. Exactly like it. It's musical collage...Manic Montage.
So no one artist’s work struck and had the most impact on you?
No...not just one. I mean an artist should be influenced by many artists, you know, variety, spice o' life and all that. They should be influenced by all that surrounds them. Most people spend their lives sleep walking 95% of the time. Wake up...look, listen, touch. Who are my favourite artists? Ralph Steadman, Dave McKean, Robert Rauschenberg, Jean- Michel Basquiat, Francis Bacon, Andy Warhol and Caravaggio…but again, the art of cinema really influenced my vision and my art more.
How would you describe your images?
"Dark -Tongue in Cheek- Chaos Collage-Pop Art!" I mean, I hate labels in general, but if I have to, that'll do just fine.
What techniques are you using in your art pieces? I notice some great textures and collages.
It seems that with every show I do, I throw in a new technique or two. Too many artists find a certain style that they get known for, get comfortable with, and then never, ever move forward again. That's just plain playing it safe, and playing it safe should never go hand in hand with any art form. Me, I want to keep growing, or I would die of boredom. I love texture, layers and layers of collage. My work is really getting much more ambitious, for a lack of a better word. 3-D galore on the new stuff I’m working on, and I don’t mean like Avatar. I get bored very easily, I guess that's where the Renaissance man thing comes in. With mixed media, anything goes, thus, boredom never enters the picture. I use my own paintings or drawings, manipulated photocopies, collage, thickly layered posters that I carve off of street posts and construction sights. Textiles, t-shirts, and I'm really getting into adding found objects...oh, and I have always loved Catholic icons. Acrylics, oils, water colours, pastels - even my good old Crayolas are broken out occasionally. Fun? Wow!
What is your mission or goal when it comes to your work? What impact do you want it to have on people?
Most importantly, I want to entertain the viewer. I’ve always maintained that I’m as much an entertainer as I am an artist. I know...I know...that'll get the art snob's/purist's knickers all in a bind, but looking at one of my paintings should be like watching a film in a theatre. There is so much to look at, that even if you stare at it for hours, you’ll always find something new, something you never noticed before. My mission? Hmmmm...I want to be rich and famous while I'm still alive. I think I hear the purists whining again. To have enough in my bank account, that on a whim I can take a bunch of my friends off to Paris for dinner and drinks. Now, if anyone is thinking that I'm not "serious" about my art, well, they'd better think again. I'm as serious about it as you are, oh you long suffering, tragic, starving artist. The great writer Harlan Ellison said it best; "The meaning of life is doing something that you love so much, that you would do it for free, yet get paid handsomely to do it." Ditto. Look, I'm far from rich...far, but I've hit a point in my career that I can make a living doing just my art work. No full or part time job. I can pay the rent, the bills, put food in my fridge, and still have a little left to pay my bar tab. Don't listen to them kids! There is nothing romantic about being a starving artist! Unless you're still living in the '20's in Paris, that is.
Do you have a studio that you work in? Whereabouts?
I truly am the luckiest man alive. I live in a very large high rise, in my favourite neighborhood in Toronto, The Annex. Well, one day the superintendent, knowing I was looking for a larger space, took me down to the catacombs of the building. He showed me this area that used to be the gym, swimming pool, party room, even very old saunas in the mens and ladies rooms. Right out of a David Lynch dream sequence. It had caved in ceilings, rubble everywhere, like Berlin right after World War II. He said, if you wanna clean it up a bit, it's yours. Really? A free, humongous studio?! Like I said, luckiest man alive. I call it, El Corazon Negro de Diablo Studio, and that would make total sense if you knew the full address. And no, I'm not gonna let you print it.
I know you have had a long history with depression, and you don't seem to be at all afraid to shout about it. Trying to destroy that stigma, are you?
Yup! That stigma doesn't stand a chance. The sooner people stop being so afraid to voice this thing, the sooner we can nip the fucker in the bud. I notice it's getting easier now that a lot of celebrities are coming out of their mental health closet. That's why I love being connected with the Mood Disorders of Ontario, and Workman Arts. I'm over three years depression free, and honestly, never felt better in my life.
Speaking of which, you're involved with that annual Touched By Fire show at the Royal Ontario Museum, correct?
I've been on the Touched By Fire planning commitee right from it's debut show at the Gladstone Hotel in 2007. I am amazed, and yes, very proud, that within it's four year history it's moved on up to the prestige of the ROM. Honestly, I don't think any of us on the committee saw it coming. Not at this speed anyway. I think the secret to it's success is two pronged. The amazing people on the committee, it's really become a very tight family. Incredible how much sweat and passion they put into this event every year.Then there's the artists, who suffer from all sorts of mood disorders, and hundreds of them submit pieces for this juried show. You can't imagine how hard it is for some of these people to just try to get out of bed some days, believe me, I know. Yet, they find the strength somewhere, to create, photograph, and submit this amazing work.
It's become a passion for me, in fact I give the show, the people that all help make it such a success, full credit for the sudden disappearance of my depression. I believe this "something" finally gave me a purpose. Giving artists with mood disorders a chance to show in a gallery setting, in an iconic venue, where 700 people can see, and buy your art, is one of the greatest feelings a person can come away with.
And Workman Arts?
Same thing can be said about Workman Arts, and the fine folk over there. Incredible people who really, really care about people who suffer with mental health and addiction. I'm on their Visual Arts advisory board, and I get to not only show in their own annual art event, "Being Scene", which is actually a traveling art exhibition that usually can go for the full year, but I also get a chance to do some public speaking. Called, "REVELATIONS:Living Experiences with Mental Illness/Addiction and Creative Genius", It gives me, and a handful of other Workman Arts artists a chance to travel from one audience to another talking about our personal stories, our creativity, and successes. They're even giving me the chance to be an instructor of my own course called, "The Manic Montage & Chaos Collage". It'll be a 6 week course where I not only teach other artists the process of what I do, where they get to create their own collage works, but also a history lesson on the imprint of collage in art history. They have no idea what they're getting themselves into!
Wow! Busy Boy.
Yeah. Maybe too busy. I have a terrible habit of always saying yes to every project offered me. That habit has cost me of late. I haven't had a solo show of new works since April of 2010. I mean that's how I make most of my living, so my new year's resolution was, is to say "NO" much more often. You know who you are, and you have been warned.
So, can I ask if you have a new show coming up?
The answer is yes. Actually I'm about to get started on the very first piece for this show called, "ALL ABOUT EVE". It's not a pure solo show, it's a two person show with a friend, and terrific artist, Lorette C. Luzajic. She also works in collage, but our style's are very different. That should make for an interesting, and great looking show. I should have started on the new pieces a while ago, but I had to finish a few commissions first. One for a very well known celebrity...but don't ask, I can't tell you...yet. Believe it or not, I actually have been sworn to secrecy. I've been lucky enough to get quite a lot of commissions in my career, and you just don't turn them down. Not only do these personal pieces pay well, but it's always more of a challenge. You HAVE to please the client. I've also been very lucky that most of my client's let me run with their idea's. They seem to trust me with the finished piece. No complaints so far.
But the new show is certainly the top priority right now. I actually miss the whole process of putting on a new show. You know, coming up with ideas that go with the theme of the show, sketching, creating the pieces, the promo, the media...and the grand opening. And believe me, the openings are always Grand!
So I have to ask, what's the theme of this show?
Let's just say it has something to do with the female nude in art history, thus the title of the exhibit. The theme was actually Lorette's idea, knowing fully well I wouldn't say no to that particular theme of course. Smart dame.
When can we expect this grand opening?
Yikes. Did I mention how stupidly busy I've been? Lorette and I first envisioned it to open on my birthday, Halloween...but considering I'm just getting started on the first new piece, I'd say closer to Christmas, and hey, nothing says "the birth of the baby Jesus" quite as well as hot, naked women, no?
You'll get no argument from me . Let me end it with this question. Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Exhibiting in interesting spaces around the world. Living in a nice apartment in Paris, with a fabulous studio loft in New York. Oh, and happily married to Winona Ryder, of course. My soul mate.
Joey DAMMIT! can be reached at www.joeydammit.com and firstname.lastname@example.org
Thursday, March 31, 2011
"Hey Joey, you've been kinda quiet, dare I say lax, on the blog front. What up with that homey?"...Yeah, I know, it's been a subject that has been mentioned to me a surprisingly number of times in the last few months. I mean, who woulda thunk it...I have more than 3 readers of this thing? But to answer your question of why I've been so quiet on this front...I really have no idea, Bucky. Yeah, I've been busy as always with all things creative...just started a large 3 month (or more) long retrospective exhibition of my art from 2000 to 2010, called, POP, CULTURE, and FULL FRONTAL NUDITY at Black Line Studio (577 King St. West) in Toronto (kids listen to yo' uncle DAMMIT!, never skip an opportunity for shameless self-promotion...DAMMIT! rule #9 for World Domination!). I was asked if I'd like to do their window display...I said "sure", I mean, Warhol, Robert Rauschenberg, and Jasper Johns all did window displays in New York before fame came a-knocking. I forgot that I was dealing with a very large 20 foot, by 10 foot window. I have never worked so hard...but damn I'm proud of it. It's up for six months, if ya have a chance, go down to the King West neighbourhood, have a gander at the window, and walk into any of the great, local restaurants, and pay 50 bucks for a salad and a beer (I'm just sayin'...)!!!!
I do think that is actually a very poor excuse for the lack of my special brand of post-modernist literature, that I spew here. My best guess...laziness. A sin I've never been accused of before...you know, maybe a case of the winter blahs. Not very motivated to tell ya the truth...in fact as I type this, I haven't the faintest on what this entry is gonna be about (some of you have already guessed that, haven't you? Smug bastards!). Sooooooooo....hows about we do one of those stream of consciousness kinda things...whatever comes to my mind...whatever is pissing me off...makin' me glad I'm alive...you get my drift, right? I'm tellin' ya, this could be blog gold...or a big piece of doggy poo. Shall we begin???
Like almost everyone I know, I am royally pissed off that we Canadians are off on yet another Federal election! What? Fourth one in seven years??!!! You gotta be kiddin' me! I mean you gotta be a complete moron (or NOW magazine, and it's loyal sheep/readers) to not know that it's gonna end up like the last two elections...A Tory minority. Look...Harper is a crook, corrupt to the core... you just have to look into his beady, spinning eyes to know he's a-keepin' a lot of secrets from the people...and what's with the Final Net hair, and ironing board stiffness? Still, the rest of the country is not downtown Toronto (don't gimme that...you secretly wish you lived here in the only great and important city in this whole country)...we'll never vote for the Conservatives, but the rest of the country love him, and will certainly vote for him. Look, truth be told, the ruling party usually has nothing to do with it when escaping a world wide crash in the economy. But Canadians don't know that. All they know is that we came out smelling like roses compared to so many other countries. Most still have money in their wallets, a job, and a solid roof over their head...or let's put it this way, "IT'S ALWAYS ABOUT THE ECONOMY STUPID!"
Is it just me, or can you never get enuff of that talking baby in those Etrade commercials? MORE TALKING BABY! MORE TALKING BABY!...Pissed off that I can't come up with a great scheme to get all my Facebook friends to hand over 5 bux (the win a date with Joey DAMMIT! silent auction didn't go over as well as I thought it would), so that I can spend this spring in Paris...Put my name on the video store's waiting list to rent season 4 of Mad Men, which came out yesterday. Me thinks that their list is a long one. Guess I'll have to continue fantasizing about that threesome with January Jones and Christina Hendricks...Happy that I live in the greatest country in the world, even if it is run by a very stiff, corrupt, evil Emperor...Why? All you gotta do is watch the news and see what's happening in every other country. Do you people know what the biggest story in all of Toronto media is? Oh...the Maple Leafs might still sneak into the Stanley Cup play offs!!! I kid ya not.
Very happy for my musical hero Trent Reznor, who wisely put his Nine Inch Nails into a retirement home, so that he could finally spread his musical wings, and not be held back by Industrial music, and lyrics about his impending suicide, or wanting to "fuck you like an animal". The man rightfully won a well deserved Oscar for his brilliant score for The Social Network. He looks pretty dapper in that tux too...and a hot wife to boot. Well done....Intensely happy that I have my choice of thousands of DVDs at my sticky fingertips. Yup, my Wall O' Movies comes in handy, especially since I don't have HBO (or the like), and I would be stuck watching nothing but Charlie Sheen, and his boring/predictable/fake/money making machine/suckin' you in- rants! Hey, get this...on my never ending, life long quest to be seen, and called, a Renaissance Man (blame the Leonardo da Vinci: Artist, Scientist, Philosopher, Genius documentary I watched when I was 8 or 9), I am now gonna add art teacher to my ever bulging CV. Workman Arts have asked me to teach an 8 week, class/workshop to other Workman Arts arteests on how to create my style of artwork. The course, called, MANIC MONTAGE & CHAOS COLLAGE, runs thru May and June of this year. I actually get paid very well for it...class #1, how many shots of tequila should one down before starting on their canvas.
I poo-pooed it away at first when a friend mentioned this, but me thinks she has a valid point. The quite important observation is this; Have you noticed that both here, and in the States, the Conservatives have by far the hotter looking female politicians??!!! It's true... I mean, logically you'd think the more Liberal the sexier the clothing, etc....but Noooooooooooooo... Thank gOD, I still consider brains, an important, and very sexy quality in a woman! This last detail will no doubt bother Tea Party members, who have gone on record as saying that intellect is vastly overrated. Sorry Sarah.
Okay...to get all those year end, list makers off my back (not even one person actually...Ouch!), here are my Top Ten Films of 2010:
- THE SOCIAL NETWORK
- NEVER LET ME GO
- 127 HOURS
- EXIT THROUGH THE GIFT SHOP
- THE AMERICAN
- BLACK SWAN
- THE RUNAWAYS
- TRUE GRIT
- THE KINGS SPEECH
You've probably read/heard all the rave reviews for BILLY ELLIOT, the musical that has just opened here in Toronto. Maybe it's that I hate musicals with an extreme passion (second only to the Religious Right...Cabaret the play and the film excluded), but why, is the simple thought of just sitting through 5 minutes of this theatrical tour de force, make me certain that I would prefer being repeatedly water boarded by Dick Cheney?...Hey, I love ya to pieces PBS, and I love your show, American Masters...BUT GLEN FUCKING GOULD WAS CANADIAN!!!!! GOT IT??!!!!
Sheeeeee-it! Think my mood disorder must be acting up...or something...CBC News Network keeps telling me every 5 minutes that the whole country has something called ROYAL WEDDING FEVER!!!! Really???? Hmmmmmm...Do you????? I don't even have ROYAL WEDDING SORE THROAT!...I had to stop buying Rolling Stone magazine...in the last few years, they have had many award winning articles...great writers and journalists...But what's with these fucking covers???? I am not gonna get on the subway, reading a magazine with Justin Beiber, or the cast of True Blood, or even more recently Snookie, or whatever the bimbo's name is from that Jersey Shore show. A show I proudly have never watched. " So, how can you judge a show that you've never seen Joey? Huh???"...well Bucky...I don't have to set myself on fire to know that I'm gonna get burned...and it's gonna hurt like Hell! I'm sorry, but the book, or magazine you're reading on public transit (I know..I know..."huh...read...when you have a cell phone???) says so much about you...as do shoes of course...The kind of shoes you wear in the outside world speaks volumes about you. If you know me, you know you won't see me in sneakers/running shoes, unless I'm going for a run, or heading to my studio to paint. I have to agree with novelist/journalist, and Canada's most stylish man, Russell Smith. In his men's style column in the Globe and Mail, he proclaimed, "running shoes should only be worn at the gym" (and working in your studio). AGREED!!!! So buddy...yeah, you in that really nice Kenneth Cole suit...take off your fucking Converse already!!!!!!
Now...I could go on, but how on Earth can you top a post that ends with..." So buddy...yeah, you in that really nice Kenneth Cole suit...take off your fucking Converse already!!!!!!"...You can't!
Photo by Barry Shainbaum
Sunday, November 14, 2010
I know, I know...ya missed me. It HAS been months since my last entry, and word has it on the mean streets of the blogosphere (god how I hate that term), that many of ya DAMMIT! DIATRIBE junkies have been jonesing but good. Much like Renton, Ewan McGregor's character in Trainspotting... suddenly going cold turkey. I can only say, I'm sorry, but daddy's been a very busy man. If you follow my fabulous, amazing, and quite flummoxed adventures on FakeBook, than you know that my proverbial plate has been runnething (how's that for a word?!) over for quite a while now...got committee meetings, deadlines, postcard designs,media interviews, artist talks, TV and radio appearances, planning after parties, putting up my hand and volunteering for just one more thing, etc., etc....just a lot has to be done if yours truly is gonna obliterate the stigma of mental illness. And, no, certainly not by myself, but with the help of all the good folk at The Mood Disorders Association of Ontario, and Workmen Arts -two not for profit organizations that really give a damn, and really do help those with various forms of "Brain Fuck" (my term. Words like depression don't begin to tell you the sheer horror and terror that one goes through)! I know I had a daily cage match with Brain Fuck for over 18 years!!!! The M.D.A.O. are the people who are bringing ya the amazing Touched By Fire art event at the Royal Ontario Museum on the 25th of November (and this year, we have the Flamin' After Party as well), and Workman Arts are the fine citizens who bring ya, not just the great traveling art show Being Scene, but the world renowned Rendezvous With Madness Film Festival (to name but 2 of their many projects).
So, now I sits in front of the fab DAMMIT! Mansion's new, cool, and very sleekesque new computer, stretch my fingers, and decide which of my many adventures I should write for ya...huh??? NOT! Gadzooks...my mind is shooting blanks. So it is true. Yours truly is indeed officially burnt out big time. So, how's this... lets do a stream of consciousness kinda thingy...just type whatever comes to my mind???? Don't take too much time to think...just type DAMMIT! type!!!!
OK...ahhhhhhhhhhh.....Alright, gonna start with a serious even controversial subject that has been gnawing away at me for awhile now. Barack Obama. You've all heard of him...President of that fine, though at times quite curious and frustrating country we call the United States of America? I was lucky enough to be in his home town (well... ya know what I mean), Chicago a few weeks ago taking care of some art and Touched By Fire business, while simultaneously being blown away by the quite mind blowing architecture and everything else this city has to offer. Now, a lot of you know that I'm a complete news junkie, so while on my hotel bed, after the hookers had left ...KIDDING....I watched as much of the thousands of 24 hour news channels that the TV could throw at me. This was when the mid-term elections were hitting fever pitch, and the election ads were dirtier than my own mind.
See, this is something I believed before Obama was elected. Believed it even more when he won the Presidency. I believe that there is a larger than you'd imagine group of citizens that just can't wait for this President to meet his very own personal Oswald. For the young, and the moronic, Lee Harvey Oswald was a chap down in Dallas who assassinated JFK (if you don't know who JFK is...it's too late for you...you're officially brain dead). I know, It's not something I'm looking forward to either, but you know it as sure as you know the sun will rise again in the morning. Look, I'm not even saying it's just in the U.S., I've spoken to a couple of people right here in T.O. (Toronto, for ya out of towners), who have spoken about this subject to me, with just a little too much glee in their voices..BUT...the United States, or a certain demographic, is still very much a bigoted and racist society. No, of course not as bad as say, when Dr. King marched into Selma...but still...all you have to do is listen to "the common man" (a term coined by the great writer Harlan Ellison) on the street being interviewed on Fox or CNN or NBC. Is it still worse in the Southern states? Was the Pope a fuckin' Nazi??!!!
If you're an American reading this, maybe even a friend, or ex-girlfriend(lots of those around)...You know how much I love your country( god knows where else I would get all my ideas for my art), and that I'm not talking about the vast majority...but, c'mon...you know I speak no lies here...be honest with yourself. But, Why? Why would certain ignorant factions want the leader of their country, a man they barely even know, killed???? Here's two reasons...Yes, the idea that a man of (half) negro persuasion, could be elected into the highest office not only in the country, but perhaps the planet, just bugs these fucks way too much. In the first couple of months of his Presidency, the F.B.I. reported that Obama had already had more death threats made upon him, in that short amount of time , than any other President serving two full terms.
But, it's not just the rebel flag waving red necks who have problems with the tint of the Commander and Chief's skin colour (that's Canadian for color) that are doing the threatening. I've also noted that a lot of Americans have trouble that he's smarter, more intelligent than they are. Instead of being proud that they have finally elected somebody who can recite the whole alphabet (ahem-W-ahem), and that the rest of the world respects...they are not only intimidated by his smarts, but actually hate him for being, dare I say it...an intellectual. They (re: the Tea Party for one) think that being as stupid as they and their kin are, would make for a better leader. They call this type of person elitists, and (gulp) Liberals. The good news for this special breed of hillbilly is that in 2 years, you can correct this mighty slight, and elect President Palin. No threat of education or intellectualism there! I'm afraid it's not if this sad event will happen, but when. You know I hate being wrong...but I would love to make an exception to that little rule this time around.
Again, I am not saying that's the majority of Americans, but to you out there reading this, you know who y'all are...asking who the fuck do I think I am, passing such judgement???? I'm just some foreigner with an opinion, someone who gives a shit. You can just call me the elitist Liberal from Kanada! Oh, I know elitist and Liberal is "fightin' words" to many people. Me? I consider that a compliment. What, don't tell me that you still subscribe to that ancient myth, that all men (and women) are created equal? Not true, and it has nothing to do with skin colour there, Billy-Joe!
I know...I know...what happened to that quick fire, stream of consciousness, multi-subject blog entry that I promised in the beginning. Sorry about that...it's that passion thing that always gets me in trouble. I apologize (again).
Now, before a good portion of my U.S friends (and enemies), start packing heat, and book a flight to this fair city (yes...Toronto is in the province of Alberta)...let me say this is NOT an anti-American rant...it's a anti-ignorance/idiot rant!!!! And, to not only save my skin, but to keep at least some of my my American "FakeBook friends", I now present a list of 35 things I love and admire about our trading partner to the south.....
1- Winona Ryder (future wife)
2- Chicago (I have to agree with Johnny Depp, my new favourite American city)
3- Vanity Fair magazine
5- Trent Reznor (He was Nine Inch Nails...an honest to goodness genius)
6- Marilyn Monroe
7- Marilyn Manson
8- The Kennedy Boys
9- New York City (too many reasons to list here...the women for starters)
10- The Charlie Rose Show ( Best education I've ever received...counting all schools)
11- Hot Dogs
12- Bob Dylan
13- Invented Rock n' Roll
14- The Empire State Building
15- The Chrysler Building
16- Pop Art
17- Mad Men
18- The Wire
19- David Foster Wallace
20- Jean- Michel Basquiat
21- Hollywood (Despite 90% crap...you guys still make the best films in the world)
22- Harlan Ellison
23- Bill Clinton ( Brought the Bad Boy back to the Presidency)
24- Cool Flag (yeah, ya guys have tainted it...but I'm a sucker for stars on anything)
25- Natalie Portman (Hot, smart, and a helluva actress...just like m' Nonie)
26- Norman Lear
28- New Yorker magazine
29- New York Dolls
30- Muhammad Ali
31- David Letterman
32- Victoria's Secret
33- Orson Welles
34- Tom Waits
35- Big Mac
...now, I could go on and on and on, but ya get my drift, right????
Now...I'll publish this...before I really get on a tirade about the Christian Right!!!!
Tuesday, July 13, 2010
So, there I was, minding my own bee's wax n' all, when I was contacted by the editor of Lucid Media magazine, and was told that they were very interested in doing an article on me for their upcoming July issue. Four or five pages...full colour...big spread on my art! He mentioned that they were on a deadline, needed an interview and lots of pictures of my pieces, and basically how did I feel about doing it? Well, being that I'm a Grade A, government inspected media-whore, what else could I say? SURE!!!!
We made plans for the writer, Duane Rollins to come on over to my El Corazon Negro de Diablo Studio, and him and I would do our interviewer/interviewee thing. Meanwhile, the magazine, who were in the middle of re-vamping their look, changed their name to White Elephant, and then to UNHIP...cool with me. Everything went as planned, Duane came over, we had a very good talk...in fact, as you can imagine I did 95% of the talking...Duane would try to squeeze a question in when I took a sip of my martini.
So, July 1st comes and goes, and my spider senses start a-tinglin'... I've e-mailed said editor twice in as many days, and have not heard a peep. This from a guy, who in the past got back to me faster than I could click the send tab. Hmmmmm....I write Duane, and tell him I smell something most fishy in the state of Denmark, what-up man...have you heard about the new issue hitting the stands yet??? He answered that he'd look into it...and yup...as usual my instincts were bang on (this is how I always knew a week in advance when a girlfriend was about to dump me), in Duane's words..."I got the news today that the magazine has, indeed, gone boobs up. I'm going to see if I can find it a home". I had, by the time Duane got back to me with the bad news (not surprising really...this is not a first for me, nowadays mags are pulling a Titanic left, right and center), had a chance to read his full article, and it was good, damn good...it captured being an artist caught in the bowels of depression as well as anything I had read on the subject in the past. So, as I let Duane look for a new home for his article ( Toronto Life, New Yorker...anyone!!!!)...I've decided, as he has given me permission to put it on my web site, to print it here on the Diatribe. I hope Duane won't mind, I added a title, as the magazine would have. I think it fits his piece well.
In many ways, it was a miracle that Joey DAMMIT! even answered the telephone that day in late May 2008. Deep in the depths of depression, he wasn’t much in the mood for conversation. Yet, on that occasion, he did manage to pull himself from the couch to make the 10-foot walk to the phone.
“I can still see myself standing there,” DAMMIT! says from his downtown Toronto home.” It was an old friend and she wanted me to take part in a show that was happening at the Cameron.”
DAMMIT! says he wasn’t much interested. The show was on cars. He wasn’t much of a gear-head.
“I don’t know anything about cars,” he dispassionately told his friend. “I’m not interested.”
It’s hard to know what it was about this interaction that made DAMMIT!’s friend snap. But, lucky for him she did.
“She said to me ‘Oh fuck off Joey. Think about it. How did Jayne Mansfield die?’,” she said. Suddenly, unexpectedly something was sparked. Putting down the phone, he walked to his bedroom where he knew there was a book that featured a photograph of that graphic Hollywood death. Opening the book up and staring at its grizzly details he was suddenly interested in cars.
It had been 18-months since he last painted. Three days later the painting that would re-launch his career was complete. Even more importantly, the darkness that had engulfed him for nearly 18 years had lifted.
In the two years that have since passed, he’s never gone more than three days without painting. He’s done both commercial and gallery work and has worked tirelessly to promote mental health issues. He jokes that, as an artist, he was almost required to struggle emotionally. However, if you spend more than a few moments talking to him it becomes clear just how much his depression has affected him and how relieved he is to be past it.
For DAMMIT! depression wasn’t sexy, something to give him emo cred. No, it was a crippling disorder that prevented him from truly succeeding. Talent allowed him to fake it, but those closest to him knew better.
“I used to need to get wasted to deal with my openings,” DAMMIT! says. “It was the only way that I could deal with the depression and – as I always say, its partner that is always there – anxiety.”
The question, then, is does the depression influence DAMMIT!’s work? And, if so, how much?
DAMMIT! isn’t sure. Although he has dubbed his style “Manic Montage” he is not 100 per cent convinced it’s all about the illness.
“I don't think my depression has in anyway shaped my creativity, or subject matter,” he says. “At least that's what I believe, but subconsciously and unconsciously I sometimes look at a finished work -- and it could be pictures, or words in a massive jungle of collage -- and I'll be damned if the depression, and my battle with it, hasn't reared its ugly head.”
DAMMIT! doesn’t fully understand why the depression lifted. Medication could have played a role, but even his doctors aren’t sure, DAMMIT! says. However, he does have an idea of how he survived it. During the many years of his depression – DAMMIT! says that he only experienced two brief periods when the darkness lifted in the previous 18 years prior to 2008 – he never lost one friend. It would be months between seeing them in some cases, but they maintained a level of loyalty and dedication that he is eternally grateful for.
“There were times when I just wanted to fucking off myself,” he says without self-consciousness. “But the reason I didn’t was my family and friends – I didn’t want to leave them alone.”
Of course there was also the art.
“I’m not really a religious person, but I like to talk about this thing, the universe,” he says. “The universe kept saying that there is a reason you are here and it was for the art.”
It’s now been almost exactly two years since the phone call. DAMMIT!’s life has changed dramatically, he says. He’s active. He enjoys time with his friends again. And, he’s been incredibly productive. Yet, he still worries about a return to his old ways.
After 18 years of that shit you don’t take anything for granted. Even today there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t wake up and go ‘Oh fuck, oh fuck do I feel good today?’
“But then you realize that you are and you move on with the day.”
These days that likely means a walk down the hallway to ride the elevator to his basement studio. A testament to the effect DAMMIT! has on those around him, it’s a space that was given to him. It’s also a space that fits the aesthetics of an artist that embraces the absurd and morbid in society without ever losing his sense of humour.
After walking past a abandoned swimming pool that wouldn’t look out of place in a really bad horror b-movie -- 1970s era exercise equipment lined up along the deck along with several TVs in various states of working order – you find yourself in a colourful and cluttered space that instantly makes sense.
Magazines are everywhere on the floor. Paint cans clustered up against the wall and the painted faces of pop culture icons from the Beatles to Kurt Cobain stare down at you from the walls above. This is DAMMIT!’s space. It’s a place where he says that he finds inspirations and where he can lose hours of his life engrossed in his work, while loud music blares from a stereo.
He keeps an air mattress in the space for nights that go longer than anticipated. Sometimes, he says, he just sits down there to think.
It’s from this space that his wonderfully bizarre collages emerge. Like many artists, DAMMIT! can’t really explain where his ideas come from.
“There is no such thing as an accident in art,” DAMMIT! says. “Even when something doesn’t work out you layer something else on, or put something else in and it all becomes a part of the final thing.”
The chaos of DAMMIT!’s work is what makes it unique. As a Pop artist he gets compared to Andy Warhol, but such comparisons are surface at best.
DAMMIT! doesn’t have an easy answer to why he does the type of work that he does. When forced to guess he jokes that he must resort to cliché.
“As much as I hate saying things like this, I don't think I ever had a choice.” He says. “The genre, Pop Art, was in a way presented to me in much the same way I imagine John the Baptist’s head was presented -- on a proverbial creative silver plate. I started with the exact same intention that I have today when it comes to creating my art – to please one person, myself.”
DAMMIT! says he is likely most influenced by movies. At the height of his depression, the movie theatre was one place that he felt right, and that love of film has stayed with him now that he is healthy.
Perhaps above all else, DAMMIT!’s work is human. It’s accessible a bit irreverent and decidedly unpretentious. You can stare at a DAMMIT! piece all day and still not find the inside joke. That’s by design DAMMIT! says.
“I consider myself both an artist and an entertainer, “he says. “That’s always been important to me.”
What’s also important to DAMMIT! is making the most of his remaining time. For 18 years darkness engulfed him. Now that it’s lifted he says that he wants to make the most of the opportunity, creating and inspiring.
“Joey’s happy,” he says. “DAMMIT! loves his life right now,” he says.