Tuesday, December 22, 2015

A Legacy of Cuff Links

             Each time I wear a French cuff shirt and must choose the appropriate cuff links, I see among my options the ones my father gave me several years ago.  They are vintage, silver with a band that wraps around the cuff and one of my favorite pairs.  He tells me he wore them when he married my mother, admittedly his best life decision (not necessarily hers).  It made him happy to give me something I appreciated as I have seemingly rejected most everything else, including his presence in my home after a wearisome three years.  He wants to leave a legacy; to live forever through memories and in the hearts of his children.  But you don’t have the luxury of choosing your legacy.  A legacy is decided by those most impacted.

               I recently learned crying about death does not count against a man when it comes to visible emotions.  Of course, this information was shared by a fictional character (Victor Maskell) who was a stoic Irishman masquerading as an Englishman.  If Mr. Maskell is to be believed, my father, an actual stoic Irishman, has never cried.  I did not bear witness to my father’s tears prior to my mother’s death almost 16 years ago, not even at the death of his father, an admittedly bitter and unhappy man.   My mother was the love of my father’s life and he has yet to recover from her passing and I wonder if he ever will.  Since her death, he has cried on a consistent (sometimes daily) basis, seemingly unaware.  I’ll catch him staring into the middle distance, tears flowing.  When I ask what’s wrong he jumps as if I have jolted him awake and gives an accusatory stare, confused by my concern and the inexplicable moisture sliding down his cheeks.

                I often wonder if some of his tears concern me.  As the oldest son of the oldest son, I was unknowingly saddled with the responsibility of becoming everything he was and achieving everything he had not.  I rejected the former and accomplished the latter, but not in the way it was expected.  I’m too different; more like my mother than him.  To be honest, I have traits of both.  From him I inherited my sense of humor, my temper, a gift for generosity and oddly short legs.  From her I inherited a smile that almost hides my eyes, a talent for design, the ability to find a bargain and a knack for organization.  However, being “like my mother, but a boy” is not something to which a Thompson man should aspire or so I've been told, with varying degrees of insistence.

A lifetime of miscommunication and hidden feelings led to an almost non-existent relationship.  Living with him for three years as an adult led to the startling understanding of how alike we are.  We have repaired our relationship but he has attempted to revise our history through specifically misremembering watershed moments.  Those episodes he cannot convincingly rewrite, he has continually attempted to rectify through gifts as the words he wants to use escape him.  The legacy of the Thompson men is not one of verbosity; yet another example of my dissimilarity.

                He has told me before he is intimidated by me because I’m so different, so much smarter and “fancier”.  And I understand what he means.  I am unlike him in so many fundamental ways it’s difficult for people to believe we are related.  I don’t know why I’m different but I always assure him I am proud to be a member of my family and to be from where I'm from.

I want him to understand I’ve moved past the point where I need paternal reassurance of my value.  I needed his unconditional love when I was younger.  I never felt it and was a broken as a result.  You can’t un-break a heart, but you can grow beyond those feelings, and I have.  And no matter how many times I tell him, he continually wants, and tries, to right past wrongs.  His repair system is based on gift giving, so I accept the gifts; to do otherwise would bruise his perilously fragile ego.

It is through sheer force of will these particular cufflinks have become part of my heritage.  One look at the photos of my parent’s wedding will clearly show my father is not wearing cufflinks.  My response to his attempted alternative history is to feel extraordinarily loved. 
He is leaving a legacy, only in ways he can’t imagine. 

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Faux Crocodile Waste Baskets and the Literary Elite

              This past Sunday I was feeling a little more country than normal because I was craving red meat like a son of a gun.  My brunch buddies and decided on Outback because most non-chain steak houses are closed for lunch and I am a sucker for a fried onion, y’all.  Don’t judge me. 
              Afterwards I had nothing planned other than a quick trip to the grocery store and a car wash, because my car was in need of a cleaning, people.  The dirt had reached critical mass.  The only thing around here resembling rain is, well, actually nothing around here resembles rain.  It’s as dry as Yankee stuffing on Thanksgiving, said the proper Southerner who made dressing like God intended.  And mind you, my car is spotless on the inside.  I keep my gold faux crocodile waste basket regularly emptied.  Your question to me may be why I have this in my car.  My response would be, “What color would you choose to complement a chestnut interior?”

                Prior to provision acquisition I frequented my favorite car wash place.  It’s one of those automatic washers which pull your car along a belt so you can literally do nothing while cleanliness occurs all around you.  I decided to check Facebook to see what’s going on in the lives of those friends who I haven’t unfollowed due to their ridiculous rhetoric about guns or politics or both.  And for the record, when it comes to politics, I am decidedly con.  I find most politicians repugnant or, at the very least, untrustworthy and exhausting. 
                To my surprise and delight, I found Jenny Lawson (The Bloggess) was having a book reading and signing in Pasadena, home of Big Bang Theory and about 30 miles from the particular spot where I sat gliding through the foam.  And it started in 45 minutes.  And I needed to see her (1) because she has written two hilarious books (Let’s Pretend this Never Happened and Furiously Happy) and (2) I wanted to introduce her to my blog.  My hope is to turn my blog, this one right here, into a book, y’all. 

                For those not living in the Los Angeles area, most people can get 30 miles in about 30 minutes; around here, not so much.  I knew I had to leave immediately to even begin to arrive within a reasonable amount of time to meet, much less hear Ms. Lawson; who is honest, hilarious and a writer like I want to be.  As I am always appropriately attired, I didn't have to give my clothes a second thought.  It's times like these when I am glad I never leave home in anything less than a fantastic outfit.  I knew every minute counted so I did not return home to retrieve her books, naively thinking I would pick up a copy at the store.  I bypassed the free vacuum with purchase and raced toward Sheldon and Leonard’s ‘hood.

                I arrived at the location much more quickly than I would have thought possible without a TARDIS, only to find they were sold out of both of her books.  I chose to purchase a “Be Awesome Today” journal in electric salmon leather as I can always use a new journal and I felt Jenny would approve.  And two and a half hours later, she did.

Friday, November 27, 2015

It was Big and Red but Definitely not a Barn

             In 1990 I was pledging Delta Sigma Omega and I was a nervous wreck.  This was my opportunity to be a regular guy and I was determined not to mess up.  During Hell Weekend, alumni would stop by the college and the active members would take them and the pledges to The Club to bond, I suppose, over the sharing of libations.  As a teetotaler and avid dancer (yes, I know it sounds rather non-fraternal) I had designated myself as the driver of the alcoholics, which is what I call anyone who drinks more than me.

Throughout the week we had been requested to do all manner of embarrassing things like run across campus wearing only boxer shorts, dress up as nerds and escort each other to class, carry (and keep from breaking) an egg, etc.  I was pretty sure hijinks were to ensue at The Club as hijinks seemed to be de rigueur in this particular establishment.

When we arrived, we found there was a dance contest and I had been entered; the winner was to receive $300.  In 1990, y’all.  That was enough to buy 750 soft tacos and a medium Dr. Pepper from Taco Bell, people.  I was about to get rich up in here. 

My brothers were depending on me to take the trophy and I couldn’t let them down.  If you threw in a few orphans or a park/nursing home to be saved, this would be like 1/3 of the straight-to-video movies in the late 1980s.  Regardless I was determined to be a hero, like Kevin Bacon dancing in Footloose except not athletic or in a feed mill or with a trashy preacher’s daughter in red boots. 

I scoped out the competition as those movies had taught me and I felt pretty good about my chances.  We each had a turn and the judges narrowed it down to the finals which included me and a sketchy looking girl with “Sonic Hair” and extremely tight acid-washed jeans who bent over a lot.  The last finalists were two friends from out of town who had a routine; they literally 5,6,7,8-ed at the start.  I felt much cooler than these two with their rat tails and Z Cavariccis and that’s saying a lot.  I was spectacularly uncool.  However, I was also rhythmically gifted.

I told the DJ to choose something funky with a great beat and he chose Kyper’s “Tic Tac Toe”.  Y’all remember that song?  If so you know it was ON.  I danced with all my might and thought I was doing well.  About a minute into my dance, three young ladies from the social club (Mam’selles) with whom we were partying danced onto the floor and made a sexy semi-circle around me.  They looked like Robert Palmer’s video girls but with actual smiles and bigger hair but relatively the same amount of red lipstick.

The winner was based on audience response and nothing beats 30 or so slightly inebriated frat boys and social club girls.  Not even acid-washed clad hoochies bending over.

The closing scene of this little movie shows me with my winnings treating 30 people to the Shoney’s Breakfast Buffet, which at that time was only $5, everybody. 

The End.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Wonky Moles, Ninja Turtles and Shame

           The rate at which people I’ve just met are asking me to disrobe is alarming.  I made an appointment with a Dermatologist for the annual mole patrol.  I arrived at the appointed time and location and was ushered into a room and introduced to the Nurse Practitioner, Nurse Lady (not her real name), who summarily asked me to undress and then began pointing at my body and commenting on what she found less than desirable. This I did not need at 8:15 in the blessed morning. Keep in mind this was before I had me daily iced tea from Dunkily Donuts.

            If I’m being honest there are many wonky things about my body but this particular wonkiness could be related to cancer so I allowed the inspection to continue.  Did you know there are ABCs to mole/spot inspection?  There are and it’s cool in a medically nerdy sort of way.  A is for asymmetry – if your spots or moles form a complete circle without lots of meandering lines, you’re probably good to go.  B is for border – if there are visible borders, it’s a good thing.  C is for color – if the entire spot is one continuous color that’s good.  If it’s not, you’d better have a doctor check it out.  Ombre is only good on fabrics and hair, y’all.  You heard it here first.

            Unfortunately we must return to my partially nude body.  Unlike a turtle, I prefer to be on my back if required to be in the prone position.  Admittedly my ninja skills are subpar, but what I do have I would like to employ and you cannot do this when lying on your stomach.  There I lay, face down, clad only in boxer briefs being scrutinized by my new friend (trying to go through my shtick about where I'm from which is required each time I meet someone new and I open my mouth and a magnolia falls out).  But this scrutiny I can manage until I hear a brand new voice.  And I am introduced to Nursing Assistant Lady while my old and dear friend of 15 minutes, Nurse Lady, pulls down the waistband of my underwear to ask the new girl her opinion of a somewhat wonky dot on my top left butt cheek. 

            Since I cannot see or interact with either of these ladies due to my position, I attempt to insert myself in the conversation by stating, “Of course it’s wonky.  I don’t buy my freckles and moles at Brooks Brothers. If I did they’d be plaid or at least paisley.”  I hold for laughter and there is none.  I have never done stand-up but I feel fairly certain failing to elicit a giggle while mostly nude, face-down on an exam table in a dermatologist’s office about three blocks from the bad part of town would be considered bombing.

            The next thing I hear is one of the voices say, “What was that, Mr. Thompson?  We stepped out of the room.”  What?  Not only did they leave me unattended with a partially exposed butt check, they didn’t even close the door leaving my nakedness visible to all and sundry in the outer office?  And what did they see on my cheek to cause them to whisper in the hallway like one of the downstairs people on Downton Abbey?

At first I was nervous, then I was appalled, then I was sad for those who sneaked a peek as my derriere is not worthy of discussion or viewing.  Semi-public nudity is not the direction I have been trying to take in my life.  My family is not a naked family and I am not a naked person in any context other than a shower and only then because not exposing your skin to the water will get you less than desirable outcomes.  Also, when I showered in my underwear after a football game in 7th grade, I was so mercilessly mocked by my teammates, it caused deep psychological harm, y’all. 

We must return to the nudity once again to bring this story home.  In my haste to right the many, many wrong(s) of this visit, I attempted to flip over onto my back to at least let the paper napkin of a gown cover me.  As I was doing so, Nurse Lady attempted to flip me back over onto my stomach as she needed to relieve me of three wonky moles to be sure they were not cancerous.  The misunderstanding of who exactly was in charge of my body movement resulted in a pulling of something in my hip region, causing admittedly limited pain, but pain nonetheless.  The unforeseen consequence is this injury is preventing me from attending the yoga/Pilates/rolling on the floor with fat people class this Saturday. 

What can I do?  Nurse Lady’s parting instructions were to avoid strenuous activities for at least two weeks.  Her exact words were, “If you don’t hear from me in two weeks, it means the tests came back benign.”  But I can read between the lines.  I do work in healthcare, y'all.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Rolling on the Floor with Fat People

            I should have been suspicious of any activity that requires me to be poorly dressed and voluntarily on the floor.  To get myself out of my comfort zone and experience new things, I have been telling myself to say “Yes!”, so I agreed to partake in what was called yoga/couch potato stretching with some people from my church.  Although I do not watch TV, I do read on my couch with a frequency I could keep hidden if it weren’t for my FitBit weekly report.  And while I like to believe if I were a potato, I would be a great one (perhaps twice-baked), a tater is still a tater so I said, “Sure”.  It was held at the Southern California Dance Academy and, as I danced more than most Baptists while in college, I felt I would reasonably fit in.  Ah, delusion.

            I arrived at the appointed location and time to find the small building filled to capacity with leotard-ed toddlers and tweens.  I immediately retreated to my car to wait for my friends to show up.  Bear in mind I am wearing (with extreme irony) running shorts and a t-shirt.  I did not wear a Spanx undershirt because I felt it might lead to some sort of internal organ damage should I twist inappropriately, as I am wont to do.  When bereft of my foundation garment, the excess skin from my weight loss tends to hang in an ineffective manner.  By ineffective I mean assisting in the illusion that my body is shaped normally when in reality it appears to be melting with a decidedly laissez-faire gait and path.

            The back row of the class consisted of four men from my church, plus me and a strange young man who may have inadvertently wandered in as he was ill-prepared both by his outfit and lack of mat/towel.  The front row held three actual ballerinas, one normal woman and Jeff! who was Super! Pumped! to be there.  Based on the size, shape and motor skills of the inhabitants of my row, the class could have been called “Rolling on the Floor with Fat People”, but I digress.

            We lie down on mats purchased expressly for this purpose.  Sadly they were not for napping as we did on very similar mats in kindergarten.  Once we were prostrate, I looked up and only then realized the entire wall was mirrors.  Quelle Horror!  Not only am I being viewed in clothing that leaves me feeling vulnerable especially with so few discernable seams, I am directly behind a ballerina who couldn’t be more than twelve and I’m not being sarcastic about her age; I think she was literally twelve.  As waves of self-loathing threatened to sweep over me I again took notice of those in my row.  This is what winning looks like, y’all.

            The chirpy gentleman in the teacher’s role, I will call him Snape as he is pure evil (not really), starts talking to us about how this is low-impact conditioning.  And in the beginning moments it wasn’t too bad.  However, as we made our way through the motions, I felt a bit like Judd Nelson from The Breakfast Club, on the back row with attitude, eye-rolling, a little smack talk and what can only be described as a smoker’s cough.

            Snape asked us to lift our legs but only about six inches off the floor.  Then he said to hold them there as long as we could.  I was about to reach my breaking point when he said, “For those who feel advanced enough, feel free to scissor your legs while keeping the height.”  I thought he was surely joking as my yoga-neighbors had begun to collapse around me.  However, the young man to the left of the old man began scissoring his ridiculously in-shape legs, grinning like a 14 year-old Eastern Bloc gymnast on her first trip outside of “Mother Country”.  I could see his smile as I had long ago given up on the lifting of the legs to scan the room and rest from all this impact.

            Snape walks alongside me and encourages me back down onto the floor and then asks me to elevate my pelvis, which was alarming.  I followed his instructions but apparently not to a sufficient degree so he grabs my pelvis pulling it into the air encouraging me to “Lift your hips higher! Clench your buttocks tighter! Stop growling!”  To be honest, the growls were involuntary and not so much as a way to communicate my displeasure but more a way for my body to tell the world I am not who I appear to be (i.e., reasonably in shape).

            Do you remember the Stretch Armstrong dolls from the 1980s?  You could stretch his goo-filled limbs and he would typically return to previous form.  However, if you stretched him too hard, too far or one too many times, he did not return to his original shape and you would just cut his hand off and squeeze out the goo.  At least according to my cousin Jody.  To save whomever is my handler the trauma of having to cut off an appendage and squeeze out the goo, I have decided to refrain from further stretching other than my paycheck ‘til the end of the month and the occasional truth for entertainment purposes.  It’s for the best, y’all.

            And that’s all I’m saying for now.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Isaac Mizrahi and Movable Fat

                I was bargain shopping this weekend with my birthday money and I have to put on paper some of my frustrations with men’s fashions.  Everything these days is Slim Fit, Super Slim Fit or Extreme Slim Fit.  Who is the target audience for these clothes?  I can’t even get one of these shirts to button across my chest and it’s not like I’m all bowed up like some dude from the gym.  Or at least the dudes I remember seeing at the gym, the last time I went, which was in 2010.  Oh, like you work out every day. 

                And it’s not like I’m fat.  This is the thinnest I’ve been since I was in utero.  I wear an L in some brands and an XL in others but I cannot get a XXL Hugo Boss to button across my chest.  Its’ called a sternum, people.  It’s a bone.  It’s not going to shrink and it’s not like I can just have it minimized or removed.  I don’t care what you think you read Cher did in the 1980s, sternum shaving is not a thing.

                And some of these designers I get.  Ralph Lauren is short and thin, Tommy Hilfiger is tall and thin and Calvin Klein is skeletal.  I’ve never actually seen a photo of Hugo Boss.  Let me google him.  Okay, Hugo Boss is no longer with us.  He was alive during WWII and may have been a Nazi.  Yikes!  The current designer of the Hugo Boss line is Jason Wu, an irrationally skinny designer whose dress Michelle Obama wore to the first Inaugural Ball.  I didn’t care for the dress myself.  I’m not a fan of a one-shouldered anything.  At least not since Jennifer Beals rocked her sweatshirt in Flashdance and even then it was only because she was a welder like my Dad and I felt an obligation.

                After seeing row upon row of shirts, in patterns and colors I like, only to find they were all slim fit, I was not happy.  And I noticed those I preferred were from two specifically chubby designers, Isaac Mizrahi and Michael Kors.  Micheal Kors I will let slide because (1) he looks downright slippery from far too much fake tan (his complexion is an aggressive hue I call “East Texas Mud Puddle”) and (2) Mr. Kors has shirts in Regular Fit as I have several and I love them.  I’m wearing one as I type; pink windowpane plaid and I receive many compliments each time I wear it, sometimes from other people.

                Mr. Mizrahi, on the other hand, needs to just stop it already.  His chubby butt couldn’t fit into his own shirt and for this he should be punished, but not in some vicious way, like forcing him to wear white denim or watch a “The Bachelor” marathon.  I’m not a barbarian.  I just think he should be forced to wear his own fitted shirts with the gaps between the buttons where his fat would sort of poke out and say “Hi!” much like his bangs do, except not curly.  Does fat curl?  I know fat moves.  Anyone who sat beside me on an airplane at the height of my weight can vouch for the kinetic properties of, at least my, extra pounds.

                Designers are an artistic lot and I understand they want the most attractive canvas for their work.  But who exactly is their target market?  The one pro football player who shops at Macy’s and somehow wants a raspberry gingham dress shirt?  Who is this man?  There are a few extremely well-dressed athletes but I can assure you they are not wearing off-the-rack; most of their clothes are much more high-end.

You know who is actually buying these shirts?  No one, that’s who.  How do I know this?  They are all on the double-clearance shelves in department stores and the triple-dog-dare-you clearance rack at TJ Maxx, which is where I gravitate in any store, y’all (see previous post “Uncle Dusty’s Guide to Fashion”).  I mulled over buying one anyway but I don’t think I have enough ropes and pulleys to get those shirts on my body, at least without assistance and no one wants to come by my apartment to help.  Well, not for the money I’m willing to pay. 

I guess I could go down to the Jack in the Box and find someone to do the work.  I’ve been led to believe there are illegal immigrants who will do the things Americans won’t, so I should be in good shape.   Hmmm, now I’m thinking about this, it would probably end in tears or a fine of some sort because I don’t speak much Spanish and trying to pantomime helping me put on a shirt that’s too tight might be misinterpreted as a proposal less than Christian.  
Maybe I should just stick to buying clothes that fit.  Based on the world around me with their ill-fitting garments, stretched to within a centimeter of their breaking point, this might be considered a particularly un-American proposal.  However, since some of those big girls and dudes might actually read this blog, I guess I'll hush.  And I think that's all I can safely say at this time.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Columbus: Clown, Conqueror or Both?

                 The second entry in my art wars with Andy Warhol
                 My undated portrait of Christopher Columbus is crying out for interpretation.  Firstly, did I use the Latin root ‘ifer’ meaning “bearer” as testament to his claim to be spreading the word of Christ to the natives he came across?  I assume I misspelled it intentionally as I feel pretty sure this assignment was related to Columbus Day.  I have no recollection of any particular interest in the subject other than the proximity to my birthday.  As an adult I relish it as it is a federal holiday for my government employee self.

                As to the actual portrait there are several questions.  Was the peculiarly-drawn mouth intentional to show him as a clown?  Did I know the real history behind the story we were spoon-fed in public schools across this great nation?  Did I have insight into his ‘discovery’ of a land populated with indigenous people?   Was I aware of the reality he subjugated and enslaved these same people?  Did I know the only reason the slave trade stopped was through the intervention of Queen Isabella of Spain who threatened to withdraw financial support, not from Columbus’ change of heart?  Was I knowledgeable about those he enslaved were simply the ones who survived small pox, which he introduced to their country via his sketchy sailing companions?  Did I know he was a liar, a shameless self-promoter and a general buffoon who thought the world was shaped like a pear even though at the time most educated people were aware the earth was round?  Had someone told me he offered a prize of gold to his crew for the first person to sight land but when Rodrigo de Triana reported land, Columbus stated, “Oh, I saw it last night, I just didn’t tell anyone” and then kept the gold for himself?  Did this knowledge lead me to political commentary of a kind foreign to most elementary-aged Southerners?  Was this my first inkling of a rogue mindset or simply I wasn’t very good at drawing mouths?  I do like I gave him a rakish collar and very stylish bob (it was very now in the late 1490s).  As a benevolent fashionista, I have always felt everyone needs a cute outfit regardless of the condition of their soul or their proclivity to destroy entire cultures.


                 Columbus Day 1977, was celebrated on Oct. 10.  I feel certain my drawing was completed prior to the date, but was unveiled appropriately.  On this day, Mr. Warhol spent time at socialite and designer (Princess) Diane de Beauvau’s and they gossiped about Barry Landau who, like Columbus, was a society hanger-on and obsequious glory hound.   The only person of my acquaintance with possible ties to royalty, with whom I would have spent my day, was my mother.  Because of her regal bearing, I felt strongly she was of royal lineage.   

                As Mr. Warhol spent time with an actual princess talking about a fame-seeking lothario, much like Queen Isabella surely did with her courtiers, I will give this match-up to Mr. Warhol’s favor.   Snagging a Princess is no easy feat; trust me I’ve been unsuccessful for 45 years.

                The score now reads Dusty 1, Andy 1.  I would say the race is on, but it would mean quoting George Jones and I need to ensure I remain sufficiently pretentious as to not hinder my chance at victory so this is all I’m saying for now.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Pop Art Wars

            Many would argue my art was government sanctioned.  Stroud, my mentor, fully supported my expression and output and she ensured my benefactor and patron received the art with an open mind, often directing them to experience the intent of the journey, disregarding anything they felt might be an error.  She challenged them to simply enjoy the creativity and expression of the artist; not trying to fit the artist into a pre-conceived notion of the intersection of prose and art.  Most of my peers felt words were enough to convey the complex emotions within their writing.  I felt I needed to add a more visual representation of my voice.  My words needed vibrant color to allow maximum comprehension of my inner turmoil, the thing which powered my creativity.

Stroud challenged me, sometimes she gave specific guidance, other times she just let me create; free form.  Words, pictures, codes, it didn’t matter.  I was to go where my brain took me.  Some have said it was as if she had assigned me to create.  Her rules were there were no rules other than being present, in the moment, preferably working quietly as to not disturb the other gifted and talented second graders in the trailer on the upper playground of East Side Elementary School in Winnfield, Louisiana.

My initial assignment, dated Sept. 6, 1977, when I was but a lad of six, started a productive period spanning nine months (until May, 1978), demonstrating my evolution as an artist and national commentator on subjects as varied as witches, raindrops, why policemen wear blue and what made me giggle.  At such a young age it seems I understood the nebulous line between art and commerce, oftentimes co-opting commercial art to masquerade as an academic exercise.  Also, I was partial to magenta.   

As an avid reader, viewing this body of work, I was reminded of someone else who in the late 70s was mired in indecision, pondering what was more important; creativity and discovering the new or focusing on the acceptance of the existing to ensure financial viability for the future.  Andy Warhol was, in 1977/1978, just starting to be comfortable in his own shoes as a person, an artist and a social arbiter between the talented and the monied.

My funding stream, the parents, allowed for a remarkable lack of tension and stress, often necessary for true creativity.  I feel if I had to fend for my finances, I may have been less happy but more productive.  As it stands, I was comfortable both with my output and the quality thereof as well as my child-like reliance on brevity and transparency.  I felt no reason to hide anything from my audience including my incessant need to draw lines and immediately color outside them.  I wonder if this was a passive-aggressive recognition of observed boundaries and my cavalier intent to disregard them. 

I refer to this time as my invisible war with Mr. Warhol as he and I seemed to have an agreement to not acknowledge the work of the other.  But there are too many parallels to now ignore.  Although I existed outside the mainstream art scene nationally, my increasing reliance on the marriage of style (words) and art, my move toward an almost crass consumerism as well as my disturbing adoption of the vernacular of the party scene in NYC begs the question, who was influencing whom?

Whatever the case may have been, Mr. Warhol seemed to make a specific point not to mention me in his diaries and I wonder was it professional courtesy, lack of awareness of a fiercely competitive peer or simply the journalistic peccadilloes of his editrix, Pat Hackett?

Over the next few months, I will share with you these stories and accompanying illustrations juxtaposed with Mr. Warhol’s entries in his diary to see how closely he and I were in annotating the world around us, not as we saw it but as we intended it to be seen and wished it to be.  I fully expect this competition to provoke rigorous debate but in the end we shall see who emerges victorious.  Who will win the Pop Art Wars?

This first piece is undated but contains no prose and is not labeled, hallmarks of my oeuvre.  As such I feel it may have been my first attempt at establishing my personality as an artist and the acceptance and interpretation (even I am unaware of its intent) caused me to begin the practice of dating and labeling.

The multi-colored scales seem to nod toward an animal of a fantastic nature.  Note the use of vibrant color and movement.  Also note both people’s bodies are a deep pink.  Were the protuberances wings?  Were they bubbles?  The pink people, I know, are male based on their haircut.  As this was the 1970s and societal norms dictated gender assignment based on the at-least-since-the 1950s-code of short hair denotes male, long hair denotes female.   As my brother had just turned three during the summer of 1977, I’m unsure if he is the other male; I feel fairly certain I incorporated myself into the work.  If it’s not my brother it may have been any of my friends from that time (Jason, Kyle or JJ) or even my cousin Jody. 

To the perceived movement of the bodies, I wonder if we are floating?  Hopping about in zero gravity?  Jumping?  As we are smiling one can assume we are not falling or being flung from the back of this candy-colored creature. 

I know not the source of my fascination with flamboyant fauna, but it became a touchstone of sorts and continues to this day, although at the age of 44 11/12ths, I have become said fauna thanks to Brooks Brothers and Bonobos.  But we aren’t here to discuss my sense of style or Mr. Warhol’s although he did start the trend of wearing tuxedo jackets with jeans and that alone is a worthy legacy.

This exercise is supposed to compare our respective works for both creativity and output.  Much as I, Mr. Warhol was reliant on the use color, almost too much if you listen to critics of pop art (both his and others like Rauschenberg, Oldenburg and Lichtenstein).  Unlike Mr. Warhol, I stayed within the boundaries of my own lines.  He traced many of his subjects and purposefully printed them off-center.  Most of his work didn’t have to be labeled as they were silk-screened prints, not free-form drawings.  His experimentation with color was advanced; he would often invite visitors to urinate on some paintings to change the colors, which, while vulgar, is creative.

                There is no date for direct comparison and my drawing is freehand while his were typically traced, so a soup can to soup can comparison is not possible.  Even though he was creative, the fact I, as a child of 6, was able to refrain from urinating on my own art gives me a decided advantage. 

The Pop Art War score thus far is Dusty 1, Andy 0.