October 10, 2014
The one artist (besides myself of course) that I admire is Ed Wood Jr. I admire him because he shouldn’t be by all accounts exist on this planet, yet he kept his head down and kept going. They treated him like shit, and even though he had to rely on the food that was thrown away by the Hollywood industry, he kept going, like an insect or to be more precise a cockroach. Like Wood, I had to swallow a lot of shit from people who just took pleasure in shitting in my mouth. I know the taste, and I have the taste of Ed Wood in my mouth. There are people like Thelonious Monk, who just wanted to do their art in peace. Yet was thrown against the wall, and told that they were insane, or just to go away. Of course, there were cops with a blackjack that wanted the taste of Monk’s blood on their hands. A human being with a vision never gives up. I, on the other hand always give up.
“Surrender” should be my middle-name. Not everyone is blessed to have a Pannonica to watch your back. A true fan, she took care of both Charlie Parker and Thelonious in their moments of sickness and joyous. If we’re lucky, and most are not, we have a version of Pannonica in our lives. I do, and she allows a space to be had, where I can roam without a passport or a care in the world. But of course, that is an illusion. When I go into a movie theater to see a film by Ed Wood, for instance “The Sinister Urge, ” I am reminded here is an artist that was barely holding on to respectability. He was a the bottom of the trash heap, and after this film it would be one would call” a blur of smut racket nudie flicks, soft core porn, and it ends with x-rated novels and films.” Alas, an artist that flew too close to the sun, and therefore his wings burned off, and he crashed into the earth. One then wonders if he was an artist? Perhaps he dwells into a world of his making but not by choice. You go to the world with materials that are on hand, and with that tool and substance you hope to make something great. It’s a giant leap into faith that somehow it will turn out OK. Wood wasn’t afraid, like I am. He took numerous risks in a world that was hostile toward him.
Thelonious was a different type of character. He knew he was placed on the right wave length, and overall, I don’t think he cared what others think or thought of him. “I say, play your own way. Don’t play what the public wants. You play what you want and let the public pick up on what you’re doing - even if it does take them fifteen, twenty years.” Wood needed acceptance in a large market place. Monk basically lived totally through instinct. He had no plan, because he loved the moment when it happened, and didn’t look back when it passed by. I’m not only moved by his music, but also his dress-sense, his style and the way he danced around his piano during performances. And it was a performance, because the audience is watching a moment as it happens. It can’t be controlled or contained. It just happens. Wood is all about craft and lousy advice. In his book “Hollywood Rat Race”, he advises new writers to “just keep on writing. Even if your story gets worse, you’ll get better.” Now, that depends on how one defines “worse” and “better.” But then again, Wood had commented: “What do you know? You heard of suspension of disbelief? ”
The distinguished citizen of Hackney, Harold Pinter, once wrote “I can’t really articulate what I feel.” Yet, of course he does, because that is exactly what writing is - to swim around articulation, and hopefully some tragic mistake will come out of it. It is just like squeezing the wound and watching the puss come out. It’s disgusting, but also somewhat pleasing at the same time. Articulation is the key or the entrance of the artist’s soul, and with that in mind, that is what will make me successful or a failure. And lately I have been on a tightrope with slippery soles.