Posted in Artish, Projects

Polaroid History 4.2

So, this makes more sense if you go back in order and read Polaroid History 1, History 2, History 3 and History 4.1 first.

That said: TRIGGER warning. There is some stuff in here that will be weird for you if you ever experienced sexual abuse, especially within your own family.

This is the end of the sequence.

 

I’d already lost the relationship with my grandmother over this. When I brought it up to my family and close friends, there were a lot of uncomfortable conversations. Most of my family said yeah, that sounds about right. I never told Bill’s parents or my Dad (his brother). They could look it up online if they wanted.

Bill’s former students, every one of them that I called, reported having similar experiences while they were in school with him as their teacher. My good friend John, who went to college with Bill, refused to talk to me about it, then became angry with me more and more over time, and defended Bill. Our friendship crumbled.

Yup. He called me the week he got out of jail. One of the worst phone calls ever. I wrote him an email a few days later telling him that if he ever wanted to speak to me again, he first needed to apologize to all the people whose lived he had ruined, including me. There was an online thread of all his victims, who recounted their stories. Many of them were adults, like me now, with families, and they still had terrible memories from their high school days with Bill – secrets they kept from everyone. The abuse had gone on, teacher-to-student, for almost twenty years.

After his jail sentence, now an official sex offender, Bill somehow was allowed to leave the country. He went with his ‘girlfriend’ to China to teach English. I’m not proud of this – I thought about it a long time before I did anything – but I tracked down his school because he stupidly listed it on LinkedIn. Using an encrypted email service, I wrote the school’s Director and included links to all the legal stuff that had been posted online. They were understandably upset and said this happens a lot with US teachers who are charged with sex offenses and have their teaching licenses revoked.

The Director said they couldn’t give me any detailed information, but said he had ‘transferred to another school’ and Bill’s LinkedIn page disappeared soon after.

My grandmother started speaking to me again, but usually to give me proud news about how Bill was going back and froth from the US to China, was a successful English teacher, and visited them often. I never said a word about any of this.

My friend Andy called me again – the same one who called me to tell me about Bill’s arrest – a former student of Bill’s who had also been a victim – to say Bill’s house had burned to the ground.

Yup. Using the insurance money, Mr. Bill continued to travel the world, teaches English and then, I heard, began ‘consulting’ on Feng-Shui. These days, I’ll occasionally do a quick Google search , but there’s very few new trails to be found. I get reports from my Dad in our phone calls: “Say, did you hear? Bill was here a couple weeks ago and told me he’s teaching again somewhere. Not going back to China though.”

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Posted in Artish, Projects

Polaroid History 4.1

So, this makes more sense if you go back in order and read Polaroid History 1, History 2, and History 3 first.

That said: TRIGGER warning. There is some stuff in here that will be weird for you if you ever experienced sexual abuse, especially within your own family.

Like I said in History 1, I stopped doing this project after about 25 “polaroids” or so. Part of the exercise (I realized after doing this sequence) was to get through this particular set of memories and be done with it. There are plenty of unfinished, very happy-memory-category polaroids, too. I should get back to them.

There’s a break of about seven years here where I finish grad school, meet my future wife, and we move to Tucson. I shared that memory with nobody that I can remember. I pretty much stuffed it down and wrote it off as just something weird and off that happened one time. I stopped communicating with Bill, though, which made him mad.

That’s right. My grandmother stopped speaking to me. Because I snubbed her son – a 50 year old man – and he whined to her about it. That broke it all loose again for me.

 

 

Posted in Artish, Projects

Polaroid History 3

See Polaroid History 1, then see Polaroid History 2.

Then there’s a pretty big break during which I bar-tended and taught art classes, moved to Portland and went to grad school, and then Mom passed away.

After grad school I got hired by a comic book company and played in a band. I met my (now) wife through an online dating service (really) and she came to one of my band’s gigs.

And then there’s a super-big gap where :

Rabbit learns she has late-stage class 4 thyroid cancer and we decide to move in together. She goes through three years of really brutal surgeries and radiation treatment, but lives. We are a happy couple with lots of friends, and for a few years we do all the things semi-professional artist-people in their early thirties do in an uber-hip, constantly moist but dryly sardonic, pre-gentrified northwest city.

This band thing becomes semi-professional, we play hundreds of shows, record some good records, and almost get signed.

Me and Rabbit decide to empty our meager 401k’s, move to Tucson and start a dog-daycare service. This decision is made, as are these sort of decisions, based on the experience of nearly dying, spending weeks in hospital beds, and realizing life is short. Plus we were tired of all the rain.

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Posted in Artish, Projects

Polaroid History 1

At some point a couple of years ago I outlined my entire self-history in contained units. Each unit was a specific memory. I stored these in folders based on sections of time, or place, or certain people.

I made a digital drawing of each moment and then framed it as a Polaroid, then added notation at the bottom.

This turned out to be a bigger project than I thought. After finishing about 25 of these I sort of gave up, but I just found them again and they have a nice naive folk-art feel. So here you go, three or four at a time:

Posted in Artish, Guest Thoughts, The Now

John B Poem

The very last bit of S-Town, an unflinching, brutally straightforward, deeply empathetic and yeah, pretty sad podcast about the enigmatic and beautiful genius John B McLemore, is a chunk of McLemore’s writings delivered by the interviewer and host Brian Reed.

If you make it to the end of this series without shedding a tear, then maybe you’re made of clockwork. When Reed read this sort of epilogue, sort of self-eulogy-ish bit of John B’s writing, I stopped what I was doing, choked up, listened to it over and over, marveled at it, then transcribed it as best I could. It sent me down a lot of Wikipedia pages looking for the references and spellings. Forgive the errors and please offer corrections. With deep respect and admiration:

 

I have coaxed many infirm clocks back to mellifluous life

Studied Projective geometry and built astrolabes, sundials

Taught myself nineteenth century electroplating, bronzing, patination, micro-machining, horology, learned piano

Read Poe, De Muapassant, Picaccio [?], O’Connor, Witte, Hugo, Balzac, Kafka, Bataille, Gibran

As well as modern works by Mortimer, Hawking, Kunstler, Klein, Jacoby, Heinberg, Hedges, Hitchens and Rhodes

But the best times of my life I realize were the times I spent in the forest and field

I’ve walked in solitude beside my own babbling creek and wondered at the undulations, meanderings and tiny atolls that were occasionally swept into its midst

I’ve spent time in idle palaver with Violets, Lyreleaf Sage, Heliopsis and Monkshood and marveled at the mystery of Monotropa uniflora

I have audited the discourse of the Hickories Oaks and Pines even when no wind was present

I have peregrinated the woods in winter under the watchful guard of vigilant dogs and spent hours entranced by the exquisiteness and delicacy of tiny mosses and molds – entire forests within a few square inches

I’ve also run thrashing and flailing from Yellow Jackets

Before I could commence this discourse I spent a few hours out under the night sky reacquainting myself with the constellations, like old friends

Sometimes I just spend hours playing my records

Sometimes I took my record players and CD players apart just to peek inside and admire the engineering of their incongruous entrails

Sometimes I watch Laverne & Shirley or old movies or Star Trek

Sometimes I sat in the dark and listened to the creaking of the old house

I have lived on this blue orb now for about 17,600 days and when I look around me and see the leaden dispiritedness that envelops so many persons both young and old, I know that if I die tonight, my life has been inestimably better than that of most of my compatriots

Additionally, my absence makes room and leaves resources for others who deserve no less than I have enjoyed

I would hope that all persons reading this can enjoy some of the aspects of life that I have enjoyed as well as those aspects that I never will and will take cognizance of the number of waking days he has remaining and use the prudently

To all that have given so much, much love and respect

  • John B McLemore

s-town_social

Posted in Projects, The Now

The Boring Kitchen, Pt. 2

Gentle Reader,

A few of you actually looked through “The Boring Kitchen Pt. 1” so for those brave capybaras, I present you with the second thrilling installment. When we last left off, our Brave Hero had decided to undertake the demolition of a hundred-year-old kitchen single-handedly and without proper training or equipment.

This process was to include (1) chipping ceramic tiles off of three walls, (2) ripping out top and bottom cabinets and (3) ripping up the floor tiles. When I told my Australian contractor friend Kris I was doing the demo myself, he said “Who’s gonna do the rest of it?” The rest of it? What rest of it? I was like, “…Me. I’m doing it.” He just looked at me in a sort of Australian contractor way and said “Oh. OK. Good luck with that!”

OH. THE REST OF IT.

CERAMIC TILE REMOVAL PT. 1: In which large chunks of 100-year-old plaster come crashing off the 100-year-old lath and plaster walls as you gently chip away at the edges of each tile, then give up and start banging on them with a chisel and hammer.

CERAMIC TILE REMOVAL PT. 2: In which ever-larger chunks of 100-year-old plaster come crashing down and then you put up some rosin paper so your wife doesn’t freak out on you.

UPPER CABINET REMOVAL: Not terribly difficult so long as you decide it’s OK to make a mess. At least three layers of different kitchens are revealed! Take note of the bare lath showing through and the first layer of Plaster-Weld making it look like the holes are bleeding. Take note of the weird mouse-hole above the window, which goes all the way to the outside, and if you look close you can see it was a electrical line going up the ceiling at some point. Also note electrical burn marks (!!)

LOWER CABINET REMOVAL, PATCHING IT UP, and LIVE ELECTRIC WIRES: See my first attempts at patching large holes with patching plaster! It’s expensive and goes fast! (You can use joint compound for large holes and it’s cheaper I found out).

Removing the left and right cabinets revealed that whoever built these damn monsters didn’t “chase” the electrical lines (put them in the walls properly), but instead sort of draped them through the inside of the cabinets and tacked them in. If we had just brutally ripped out the cabinets we would have also brutally ripped out half the electrical lines. That would have been bad.

But look at that cool old black and white-ish original floor tile! Bonkers! And the giant hole it looks like somebody blew open with a quarter stick of dynamite to get those old galvanized pipes through! Sweet!

More to come. I’m tired just looking at these pictures again, and the fun was only just starting.

Cheers!

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