Saturday, May 3, 2014

Catching Up

There is a fear that keeps these diaries in drafts: that the delete button will cease to exist, that I will fail to entertain my readership, that I will have poorly painted times important to me…. Many of you who I have invited to read this are yourselves creatives. You may relate to that crippling perfectionism that comes with the territory. In order that I render these blogs less taxing to write, (and less taxing to read I’m sure), I’ll give brevity my best shot. To eventually do the present justice, I must fill the space between. So though I will start a year and a half back, I’ll try to post a few in a row and get us up to speed. I present the first semester of my final year in school, and a sample of the accompanying art:

Fall in New York is a stretch when, coming off the high of Summer and the promise of the year to come, one forgets about the deeply wet and depressing months that follow. Film screenings abound, Late Night shows and comedy clubs sprout eager lines, and the festive cold weather costumes have not yet been replaced by the heavy, arctic survival gear. Annual animation screenings shaped my incorrectly optimistic view of newly rain slicked streets. Always, 23rd St C. stop in Manhattan. Always timed for us, to subway rush from classes at young dusk, and emerge into deep night. Always slithering city lights on wet asphalt. Always the same comfy old theaters, inside the cube concrete fortresses at Parsons, SVA, UCB, and FIT. And they all shared a nice broken in smell. The Animation Show of Shows and Metrocaf where two animation showings I’d never miss. Collections of the years best shorts, a huge glowing screen, and a dark auditorium packed full of artists, all at the cost of an emailed RSVP. My friends and I would always eat at the same McDonalds a block down from the C train. This at first, was a necessity: a liferaft in that weird, dark part of town squished way over past 8th avenue. Eventually, it was tradition. Year round we’d travel the sophisticate's culinary map. But early fall, we’d act a fool with McFlurries and voice our big kid thoughts on the year’s selection of shorts.

On the way to my final leadership retreat.

In case anyone was wondering, the Pratt cats were still keeping running my required general education classes.

Senior year seemed to me like the time to get to know the classmates I had been sharing my microscopic major with for the past 3 years. There were only 15 people in animation, and all but a few hung out in a big posse. Theirs was the type of crowd you’d mostly expect to find in art school, with a little 80’s underground punk scene mixed into the stereotype. Cool guys though, and to be fair, I was probably some version of a cliche to them too. I started following them outside for their smoke breaks, where I’d nibble crackers like a dweeb in place of cigarettes and try to look natural. Mid semester, before the grey had entirely set in, I showed up at their apartment edgy part of town, way past that one safe street. You could tell this was once a beautiful place, a handful of decades before my classmates moved in. Much spoke to the tarnished elegance of the living room- sky high ceilings, ornate spiraling molding, even a decorative base of a long vanished chandelier. In its current state it looked like rock stars had trashed a swanky penthouse suite. Snubbed cigarette butts stuck like tentacles from anthills of ash. Stained, antique furniture sagged with age, and a pile of guitars, I counted at least 10, covered a partially burned rug. They pushed the drumset in front of the wide, lowset marble fireplace and went to town. They played dissonant, low-fi noise rock, hilariously stopping to workshop what sounded to me like the weeping of abused guitars. I documented the occasion with a few sketchbook pages, and decided I’d better save our times together for the smoke breaks.

Life Studies.

Thanksgiving found me one of those lonely Holiday outcasts too far from hoe for a proper celebration. For three years, Chris Ruggeiri more than made up for it. My tradition of showing up when the food was ready, mooching, and leaving without contributing to cleanup, will be sorely missed. Without getting mushy about appreciation and hospitality, i will just say that it was always a fantastic dinner.

Non-food related fun also made an appearance that semester, including some time spent with a couple of my animation heroes. My presidency of the animation club meant delegating its budget towards speakers I’d always wanted to meet; and the club members got a lecture out of it too. Win-win. Jared’s beach house also received its final college visit. When Jared’s mom had bought the house a decade before, a single fireplace log remained as a gesture of home warming. Being a sucker for the inherent romanticism of a fireplace, I vowed we would make a Winter trip of it. We kept our promise with a car-full of friends. We roasted indoor smores, played the usual drinking games, and said a heartfelt goodbye to this beloved college vacation. The weekend behind us, endless hours of drawing lay ahead, and endless audiobooks to get me through. I had graduated from a childhood love of Harry Potter to a new found obsession with Tolkien, and the release of the Hobbit was in perfect time. Somehow I had become the unofficial organizer of my extended friend group, and monitoring the headcount was a perpetually renewing source of stress. We converged from classes and events all through the darkening green streets of Clinton Hill, making a beeline for the subway. All sweaters and smiles, we broke off stealthily from the Pratt mansion and RA Christmas party, counting our pre-ordered tickets on our beeline towards the subway. The rest of the mob was already at the station. We lined sidewalk outside the theater, where we could be serviced by hot dog vendors. NYC has made a fine sport of lines, and somehow the anticipation wouldn't have been complete without it. The 34th St Imax is more a coliseum than a theater, and the Hobbit didn't disappoint. I left contented with the experience and knowing for the first time ever, was on course for smooth sailing through finals.

The aforementioned fireplace, and Oreo, the beach house dog.
Old Modern: Acrylic and Charcoal.

My room door was heavy, and metal. That heavy metal door rattled in its frame with the force of the blows upon it. A squinted glance at my calendar, “not on duty.” My indigence outweighed even my exhaustion. I prepared to meet this drunk at my door in my underwear, my words equipped in equal force with the audacity of this late night knocker. It took me an embarrassed moment to recognize my fellow RA, Molly, who was of course not drunk, but terrified. I deciphered enough of her pressured burst of sound to find the room in need once hastily dressed. Within was Richard, a jovial bodybuilder who I had met before, writhing breathless on the ground. His roommates swarmed like nats, hopelessly panicked, running into the furniture and each other in a type of shock I’d formerly believed exaggerated. Molly had now recovered her words, and was managing the gasping giant fairly well. I cleared the panicked crowd of gape mouthed groupers and used one of the nearly useless roommates as a puppet to phone the ambulance. Richard flailed wildly from the floor, thick limbs uprooting shelves and scattering glass across the room. Molly and I pulled his body and head upright away from the smashed shards, which he seemed gravitationally determined to continually smear his blood against in his spasms. During intervals of seconds between gasps Richard could answer by pointing. We brought the inhalers to his mouth, he sucked them dry. We held him tight, attempting the best angle for an unclogged windpipe. During the spasms, our entire body weights whipped through space clinging to a single, uncontrolled limb. But these rides at least felt more hopeful than the alternative. Purple comatose silences were coming more frequently now. We’d pressure his sternum and he‘d choke back to life. We found scattered parts of a medical respirator, one under a bed, another in the medicine cabinet, a third in a dresser.... Even assembled it only bought us time between the same leaking, blood curdling gasps. The limp silences were longer and more frequent than the gasps now; time was out. The first paramedic stepped into the doorframe, but didn’t fair much better than the roommates formerly did. After a long stupid silence, the second paramedic broke his trance from the hall behind him and took control with loud commands. Gloved hands grabbed Richard, a thick needle slid from plastic wrapping, and I turned away as the thud rang hard upon flesh. “Woo, almost had to buy him a tomb,” was the relieved exclamation of the inept paramedic who was first on the scene. The other motioned him to help strap Richard into the gurney. I checked my clock, 30 minutes had elapsed since I arrived. Somebody dropped the ball. The paramedics explained the cocktail of asthma and panic attack that nearly killed him as I walked past them to bed.

Chemists: 4 Layer Linoleum Relief Prints.

Cyborg Alley: Acrylic

The rest of finals went smoothly however. Then came winter break. Living by subway for four years had turned driving from the mundane to a test of courage. There’s nothing for the shaky constitution of a rusty driver, like the worst snow storm Dallas has seen in decades. Long story short, I sped north from Houston trying to beat the southbound storm to my destination. I watched the skyline expand and swallow me as I raced towards it. A thick, snapping mist, led the charge as it pierced the rectangular gap in the Chase Tower. An instant later, the second battalion was upon us with a furious haze. At 13 miles an hour I made it 30 miles north to Frisco. In for a penny in for a pound, and I passed city limits northbound. Past Frisco I was nearing the edge of the tollway, and what felt much like the edge of the world. I wasn't too far off. The fields and woods iced with deepening snow on all sides, and the alarm announcing hydroplane began to nag on my two wheel drive rent-a-car. As I drifted dreamily and uncontrollably into another lane, I noticed so too did the two vehicles in front of me. One decided to take the complaint up with the left side median, and the other took a stroll into a right side ditch. That seemed to be where I was headed myself, but momentum brought me to rest against the curb instead. I camped out in Frisco that night, and although the break remained eventful and description worthy, I’ll let some pictures summarize:

Big Lou’s Pizza, San Antonio (Our Pizza not pictured. We had eaten our giant Pizza before I thought to take a low quality cell phone pic. Thank you to the kind folks at the adjacent table. I think I forgot to email you this picture like you asked.)

Nothing like a foggy roller coaster ride. Six Flags San Antonio

I don't need to explain to you that this is just me in a hat.

I’d love to hear from all of you out there. Comment or say hi and let me know you are still reading. The fact that you were on my email list means that you’re on my mind, so if you have stories or news of your own, email me and drop me a line.


You can also find me at:

My Art Blog
My Website
Facebook Art Page

No comments:

Post a Comment