Untouched PART 1

King of New York Magic BagUntouched: Heroin Bag Graphics as the Last Great Folk Art

PART 1

In a world where individuality and uniqueness is increasingly compartmentalized, marginalized and homogenized, it seems as if there couldn’t possibly be the slightest hint of expression that hasn’t been exploited for one purpose or another. The exponential growth of technological prowess promises an even more muted sense of expression where conformity is pimped as hyper-individuality. Within the massive die out of flesh and bone there rises a simulation of the self where breath is replaced by code. But before this extinction began art was being stripped of all its humanity for quite some time.

There hasn’t been an art form that has remained untouched and unscathed by the greedy little fingers of the machine. I once sat back in awe watching powerful and expressive colors cascading by me on subway trains and city streets. Mesmerized by the sheer free quality of this exciting new art form, I too joined as many other inner city teens did. We felt like we were doing something real, something different, something that the mainstream had nothing to do with. We could not be bought.

Fast forward to now. Graffiti has become cheap, blasphemous commodity; kitsch. It has been robbed of its essence and as soon as it obtained artifice and was created with an ulterior motive, it lost all credibility. It started with taggers doing there work on canvass and selling it to the art world elite and morphed into the post graffiti world where the likes of Banksy and Obey have made truckloads of cash from clothing lines and coffee table books. Nothing is sacred and the saddest part is how seemingly subservient the artists allowed themselves to be taken.

There is however, I claim, one true, untouched, folk art that is alive and well, existing right under the noses of the power elite, yet still to this day unravaged by the filthy hands of the money man. It flourishes beneath the underbelly of the city and stands proud within the shadows of the economic strain, laughing at the swelling and contracting of the stock market. This art is heroin bag package graphics.

I feel safe in saying that there is an even more compelling allure to this art form within the fact that the movers and the shakers of the art world have either overlooked, neglected, or simply were unaware of its existence at all. This black market expression runs on the back of an artistic branding that is not only unique and stylish, but is socially relevant.

To move further here we need to define folk art in itself. Generally the criteria for the definition is as follows: folk art encompasses the collective expression of a certain indigenous people and revolves around a certain trade. Folk art is usually utilitarian and has a naïve and unschooled style. Traditional rules of aesthetic, proportion or perspective are ignored and the look is usually a reflection of the surrounding milieu.

Unbeknownst to outsiders, the heroin market has many intricacies which I will briefly cover here for the sake of a better understanding of the art form alone. Latin or black dealers generally do not use the drug. Its an unwritten rule. Whereas the white dealers usually do. The people designing the graphics that identify each heroin brand therefor are not users. In turn the images tat are chosen for the bag branding are usually of cartoonish proportion. Assuming what addicts will equate with a strong batch, the artists exploit certain obvious imagery. References to overdose, death, medicine and sickness are typical.

“Poison”, “Dead Man Walking”, “Red Line”, “Body Bag”. These are examples of a few very popular brands that I have seen. The advertising was simple. A potential buyer, ie:junkie, would be walking down a block known for its drug trade and street dealers would call out the name of whichever brand they were carrying. If the addict knew this brand was reliable and potent, he would then approach the dealer and the sale would go down. Names would gather reputations at times and certain brands would become so popular that copy cats would pop up all over the place. This is where turf wars would ­emerge. With every name there would be an image, crudely stamped on to the wax paper bag in red, blue, black or green ink. Once in a while you would come across a purple or orange inked stamp, but for the most part the colors were basic and limited.

Narcotics enforcement were well informed of the branding trade and whenever there would be an epidemic emergency room explosion of addicts who were overdosing from a certain brand, the cops would find out who were running that name and then all involved with the brand would go to jail for the damage. At times homicide would be charged to guys who had nothing to do with the actually overdose, but a conspiracy charge would stick using the bond of the street brand to tie all together. For a while name brands seemed to die off because of this.

With the rise of cell phone dealers, the need to call out name brands in the street became less and less of a phenomenon, but the presence of brand art is still quite alive and well.

Artistic branding is unique onto the heroin trade and does not exist in the world of other drugs such as cocaine, crack, meth, cannabis, and so on. With this being said, its odd to think about how present drug culture imagery is in modern day visuals. In any mall across America you will see hip hop kids wearing shirts with pot leaf insignias, imprint wording “Coke Boys”, dollar bills and lines of cocaine, and other text referencing “addiction” or Junkie. Where is this going? And why is there such an allure grafted onto the fabric of this subculture? To think there exists a drug identification which has not been thrown to the wolves seems unlikely but it is in fact exactly that. Perhaps it is simply an esoteric world to which so very few are exposed to that the select initiated feel an affinity to the spirit of purity, even as undercurrent and unconscious, or perhaps it is much simpler than that; where being that no pop icon has exploited it as of yet, therefor there is no immediate need for the ‘goods’.

END OF PART 1

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The Tiny Red Ape that Lives in my Stomach

A small red ape.

He lives inside of me.

He always wins. He is strong and I am weak.

The tiny red ape wants things and makes me do things. He is always in communication with me. No words. Its beyond that.

He likes to feel my ribs rub against the surface of his ribs. He feels it sometimes when I walk or when I’m having sex. It makes him feel alive. His favorite is when my ribs rub against someone else’s rubs and then he can feel his against as well. This is always a goal of his. 

Its because of him that I am an addict. When I use heroin or crack he feeds off of the intoxication. When I don’t use he feeds off of the sickness, the cravings. I opt for the high. It makes things tolerable. Even if its temporary. At least he doesn’t hurt me then.

Alcohol makes him very agitated. Benzos make him forget.

He hates the sound of running water. I get punished if I leave a faucet on for too long. He bangs against my stomach and it gives me a belly ache. 

He always wins.

And he doesn’t like me telling you this. Wants me to stop now.

When he gets really mad he turns into a white spiral and spins faster and faster. This hurts a lot. Its almost like a tiny tornado in my solar plexus.

I do what he wants.

In my dreams he manifests as a man and makes me do horrible things. A shadow eclipses his face wherever he walks. The light never seems to make it on to his face.

He was satisfied with dream states for a long time. Until one day he came to me while I was awake and made me do bad things. 

He doesn’t like me writing about him.

I don’t want him to get angry so I have to stop now.

He always wins.

He is strong. I am weak.

He wants me to stop now. 

I dont want him to hurt me again.

 

 

 

 

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Relativistic Time Trajectories

In my slightly larger than life obsession with relativistic time dilation in regard to the just below consciousness, cusp-riding reverie, I have come across a wide variety of reference material which may or may not have led me to any kind of solid conclusion. An inverse square application has a most promising route. However, it just may take me a lifetime to either prove or cast aside. Not being a student proper of theoretical physics or theoretical cosmology leaves me in an awkward position as well. A position of distrust regarding the very findings I stumble upon grinds at my confidence upon every ‘eureka’ moment. Speaking to a few learned folk and referencing various physics forums, I feel I just might be able to someday come to an understanding in this area. The area of time fluctuation in varied states of consciousness.

This bring us to muons.

Cosmic ray muons are produced when cosmic rays collide with nuclei in the Earth’s upper atmosphere. Cosmic rays are high-energy extra-terrestrial particles. Hydrogen nuclei (protons) make up most of the incident cosmic ray flux, but helium nuclei (alpha particles) and other light nuclei also are present, as are high-energy gamma rays. Nuclei that enter the atmosphere will eventually collide with an air molecule and initiate a hadronic shower—a cascade of particles (mostly pions) that may undergo further nuclear reactions. Neutral pions (π 0) immediately decay into two gamma rays, which in turn generate electromagnetic showers (e+, e−, γ) that are not very penetrating. Charged pions (π±) that do not undergo further nuclear reactions will decay in-flight into muons and neutrinos: π+ → µ+ + νµ,π− → µ− + νµ. Both the muon and its corresponding neutrino are classified as leptons, particles that do not participate in nuclear reactions. The neutrinos have an extremely tiny capture cross-section, and thus typically passthrough the Earth without any further interactions.

The life span of a muon is roughly around 2.2 microseconds. They decay at a velocity along a trajectory toward the Earth’s surface at close to the speed of light, but even if they were to travel at C (186,000 mps) they would only be able to travel about a kilometer. Logic would dictate that these particles, beginning at the top Earth’s atmosphere and again decaying toward the planet’s surface, would never actually reach the surface. But they do. A great number of them are detected at the surface of the planet. This, without going off on another tangent, is proof of Special Theory of Relativity. Muons are also used (taking into consideration the stopping power of muons traveling through solid objects along with angle randomness and decay as well as a great number of variants) in detecting inner surfaces of natural and man-made structures. Not too long ago muons were used in location experiments in trying to find inner chambers within the Khufu Pyramid.

So here we have a tested method in relation to a theory who’s very nature is counter intuitive to say the least.

In the work I am in the process of recording here (in this blog/book preparation)one will notice many instances of a unexplainable time-fluctuation in relation to the relative consciousness within the event.

The only explanation, well satisfactory explanation at least, is that at such speeds there is an extreme time/space dilation, a compression of distance.

The question then is, if there is a compression of space/time with velocity and mass in real space/time, then where does consciousness exist in terms of time being an entity onto itself. Time as seen as a separate dimension (as M-Theory, String Theory and Super-Symmetry will agree t some extent) would give time a dimension specific trajectory. Here is where I sense time may be something running concurrent within a hyper consciousness, along side with this conscious time perception. Mathematically time can run forward or backward without consequence depending on rates on entropy.

States of glossolalia, amplified visual velocity, and the strange compression of knowledge present in dream reveries, especially the short lived reveries which I would classify as running for only a few seconds, cannot simply be explained by phycological states and simple perception. After scouring book after book on the non local and oddly entangled whereabouts of consciousness I believe strongly in a separate time stream independent of the ‘here and now’ which exists within a relativistic exponential equation yet to be uncovered.

And so I set my sights on finding something coherent wrapped up within the folds of mystery.

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Journal Cover roughly 2004

Journal Cover roughly 2004

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Open Arms (A more in depth version will come out of this I’m sure)

I enter the lives of others on horseback. I tightly grip the reigns, arch my back, which in turn forces my head to angle upward and my eyes to cast down through thinned slit eyelids; I then spur my mount, and haughtily gallop around my subject in effort to control the dynamic from the get go. These precision movements and gestures have been wrought into my very being and at this point in my life effortlessly usurp my gait when meeting someone for the first time. A childhood that was pitifully exposed to unfortunate circumstances has coarsened my soul and forced me into a state of perpetual defense, so much so that this has turned into, by default, an offense. There wouldn’t be anywhere else to turn but toward this harsh and un trusting approach to life and to love. Armed with this realization I can perhaps find it in myself to make a conscious change in a different direction. I had a friend a few years ago who stated that I was much like a comet, I seldom came around, but when I did I blasted in on a great ball of light and soon left a trail of dust behind. Patrick was his name. His mother Cynthia was wealthy and would pay me 1,000 dollars a pop to date her daughter. Her and her daughter were estranged and she had some fantasy about the two being reunited through me. I simply took the money and did the very least amount of work that I could get away with. Which amounted to basically nothing. Friendships like this are forged in blood and smoke in the world of hardcore drug addicts, especially in the wealthy drug circles on which people like me prey upon. But I am so weary of those dark feelings, those nothing gestures. One day I just may take a giant leap of faith into the frighteningly unfamiliar void of unguarded human trust and love.

A chance encounter of the most unusual type offered me an opportunity to approach this very challenge and in turn I failed miserably. Awkward and clumsy with rough angular gestures, this man who has seen so little of the world of kindness and companionship was shaken to the core by a fragile little beast. It seems that the smallest and most unthreatening of creatures can grab the tightest hold on brutality, force it to its knees, and with a tender touch, crush the tyrant in an instant. Although relatively quick in time, this encounter made an incredibly strong impression on my sense of humanity, or rather, lack thereof.

A woman was speaking to a colleague of mine at my company’s showroom while doing business with her and had brought her little boy with her. Women bringing their children to the showroom isn’t very unusual in itself and I even saw the boy from a distance and thought nothing of it, but when I got a closer look I realized he was in fact quite unique, he had down syndrome. Those unmistakeable eyes set onto to an angelic face screamed out into the judgmental world that this child would remain on the outside. He would remain, for all of his days, a hostage to special treatment and to obligatory pity.

There were about six people in the office all together and the kid was not really paying any attention to anyone, that is, until he saw me. I walked into the front office to ask someone a question about some mundane detail regarding some basic graphic imprint I was creating (that’s what I am doing for a living at the moment, art directing in a corporate branding environment).

The first gesture he made was striking in its brashness. He ran straight up to me, ignoring everyone along the way, and stopped dead in his tracks when he got to me. He looked me dead in the eye and held his arms up and out making a clear request for me to pick him up. For a man with conscious and constant boundary issues where even riding on a crowded subway makes me uncomfortable, I began to panic.

“What do I do…pick him up?” I thought to myself

I looked around the office and saw that all eyes were on me and I’m sure they were as surprised as I was in what was transpiring. I lifted him up from under the arms feeling his bird-like frame, warm and foreign, as it met my wretched hands. From the meeting of these two polar opposites, hands that have broken bread with the devil and a frail soul that hasn’t ever known a shred of evil in any way whatsoever, there seemed to arise a lightening bolt of crushing humanity. I felt at that very moment that it must be moments just like this that inspire works of art. As I set the child down onto the ground after mimicking some basic movements I had seen in movies where a grown man holds a child in the air and spins them around once or twice while making some silly airplane sound, I felt a awful nausea. Then I thought of that marvelous reminder of crushing humanity which Michelangelo has given us, The Pieta. It was certainly feelings and human interactions just like this one that were impetus for greater expressions of artistry. We all too often forget how tragically beautiful it is to be what we are, human beings. In our darkest hours, in moments of passionate love making, life taking, during times of hardship and times of elation, the essence of what we are intrinsically is all too often washed away by the monotonous frivolity of ridiculous routine and perhaps even in the shame of any kind of realization of these sparkling fragments because of societal conditioning. However I saw myself as if watching from some ceiling perch, that I had arrived at such a moment and that it was still transpiring.

The little boy’s mother had now begun to call out to him because she was apparently going to take him off to his day care. He silently refused and when coaxed with an assortment of learned commands he grabbed my arm and with mute tongue begged for me to be taken along with him. This kid was transfixed, it seems, on something about me, on me or on something I represented. Still frozen in uncomfortably awkward compromises, I at times, tried to hide behind other workers who were scattered around the office. But this did not work, for this little boy was not having it. He was clearly running the show and I would have to bend to his will. His mother began apologizing to me but of course I said everything was fine as all in the room were trying there best to smile and bury all of it under nervous laughter.

Eventually his mother managed to tear him from my waist, which was where he was docking himself in the end. As he walked out the front door with her he turned and watched as I faded from his view which followed by wails of hysterical crying. A deafening silence hovered about the room and it wasn’t until I had walked away that the spell was finally lifted and conversation as usual commenced.

Again another riveting work of art shook my soul. Those shimmering notes Ravel plucked from the ether and set down as a work known as Noctuelles (Night Moths) scampered about my ears as if played by some ghostly apparition in some far off auditorium of which only I had psychic privy to and now was presented to me from that other dimensional beyond. The highly chromatic pianissimo ran bare breasted through fields of charred memories and freely walked past the ghouls and denizens of abuse without incident. It was as if an otherworldly director had set this event to music ahead of time and now with a simple nod of the head had given the order for this beautiful music to be played for me.

My chest heaved with the strangest feeling. A lump in my throat followed. I fear this more than anything, the confrontation between sorrow and spirit. Crying. That tear streaked reminder of one’s vulnerability. Not this.

To think of this child’s future truly made me sick. Sick at how I had treated him. But what was I to do? It was as if I felt I had missed something, some kind of gift, a chance perhaps. Now it was gone. Gone with his silent whispers. My filth, my nightmarish life with all of its sinning and controlling and tortures of the flesh had touched a child who walked with the angels. From this I felt somehow horrible. Although in all actuality I know that there is nothing behind or within that would touch this child’s humble soul, I still felt an air of wrongdoing around me. Wrong also because there was something missing deep inside of me. I would never reach my arms out to another human being in unadulterated celebrations of love or union. The women who I had claimed to love throughout the years were all, each and every one of them, denied by me at some point. Whether they had eventually been lied to, abandoned, or flat out emotionally destroyed all were torn from the shores of sentiment and from paths of familiarity until my heart knew nothing of them.

This child’s purity had brought it all to the surface and the anguish of this deep a self reflective contemplation was and is unbearable.

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Journal Page from 2008

Along with writing intended for future publication all based on true events, I figured that including some actual journal entires along side the writing would be well suited if not somehow necessary.

Journal Page from 2008

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Excerpt from Blueschild Baby, reflections on a recurring dream I had as a child.

Memories are a funny thing. Looking back through the years I notice one very strange thing when it comes to them, and that’s the fact that quite often my dreams leave lasting images and imprints that are stronger than conscious and waking moment events do. At times when a random face or action that I took part in finds its way into my head I don’t recall right away if it were a dream or an event. For me the lines become blurred beyond distinction and it has been that way from an early age on through the present. As clear as I recall any other memory there was one recurring dream I had around the same time as the aforementioned took place, so again I was around six or seven. I had this dream fairly often and any time I reached out for answers regarding the oddness of the imagery and meaning I got nothing but blank faces and silence from the adults around me. I’m sure now that they were just puzzled as all hell as to why and how a little kid would be conjuring up that certain kind of dream in the first place so an interpretation was far past the scope of what they assumed I would understand.

The entire dream takes place from my point of view, so I don’t actually see myself. I mention this because in some dreams I do see myself, sort of like hovering above, looking down at what I’m doing. It begins with me looking out on to a huge church or cathedral from the center pulpit where I am seated in a beautiful, ornate Victorian chair made of wood and baroque style upholstered red velvet that moves in waves while still being tightly bound to the wood at the seat and top parts of the arms. To my right there stood my entire family in rows, just like you would see at a wedding. To my left there were the same amount of people but I didn’t recognize any of them, although in that dream I knew them all intimately and just as well as I knew each and every one of my family members. It was that instant recognition that takes place in your head when you suddenly see someone you know real well but haven’t seen in a long time. In fact it was just like that. It seemed as if I hadn’t been with these people for a while and they were melancholy about it, wearing their sadness on their faces quite plainly.

All the while throughout the dream there was an undercurrent of this gradual elevation of tension and time. Everything was slowly starting to speed up and I could feel, each and every time I had this dream, my little chest heave with wicked excitement as the spectral blight was running its course again and again. Both groups of people stood there motionless, waiting for something to happen. When the dream came the first time I had no idea what to expect but as it became a frequent occurrence I began to expect the flow of events right with my anxious audiences. There were two beautifully ornate doors off in the distant center and at some point they opened up, seemingly on their own almost like one of those obvious ghostly guided movements in a rate b horror film. From the light beyond the opened space outside of this church appeared two children. There was a boy and girl and they looked as if they were twins. Both had porcelain white skin, flawless and glowing, cherub-like curls of blond hair and eyes as wide as those tearing children in those kitsch paintings executed on black velvet I used to see in the seventies. The two of them seemed to be holding something, balancing it ever so carefully between them both. As they got closer to me I could finally at certain point make out that what they had in their tiny hands was a platter, almost like a serving tray one would use only on special occasions. The tray held on it a baby lamb, propped up on its side and clearly wounded. The poor creature seemed like it was in pain and when the two children finally got right up to me they placed the creature at my feet. This beautiful lamb had a broken leg and seemed as if it were slipping into death because of it. Not at any time were any words spoken either by me, the audience or the child messengers but I knew the moment the animal was laid down that they were all to witness a miracle. I was to heal the beast and this was what it was all hinged on, as if everything depended on the healing, all life, all hope. Like some great ancient ruler I held within my hands the very gift of life or death and at the instant I recognized this I began to swell with pride. Knowing certain what all were breathlessly awaiting I exploded with lustful fury and I rose and came down on the animal with a fist so destructive and I tore the other leg from its socket, and with a sharp and deafening snap I broke for certain the bones within. Then one by one I did the same to the remaining two. The helpless creature cried out in pain and I echoed the screams with maniacal laughter. The entire audience rose like a perfectly conducted crescendo of horror and all began to wail, cry, fall to their knees, begging and simply collapsing. The speed got faster and faster and I then turned from my confidence to something of a seizure of cardiac arrest and I too then broke down and crumbled upon the now dead lamb and looked up at everyone who was now surrounding me. All was twirling round and round and spiraling out of control and it was always at this point that I would break into consciousness and scream with a gasp of air that must have been held in apnea for quite some time before hand. Needless to say, every night I would have this particular dream things were not so easy in my household. I would wake whoever happened to there that night, shaking them from peaceful bliss and tossing them into what was only the introduction to the hailstorm that was becoming, bit by bit, my life.

 

 

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