Don’t Change

 

Mikki - Blurred

 

In 1983 or ’84 – I don’t remember which – I was in an elevator, riding to the top of the Sears Tower in Chicago. How I wound up there is basic: family vacation. I was a teenager in high school and family vay-cays were part of the drill. (I may or may not have been wasted. I honestly don’t remember.)

 

But I digress… Those elevators were freaking fast, even then. But I still had time to read the back of the t-shirt of one of my fellow Sears Tower elevator riders. It was from a concert tour: INXS. And there were the full lyrics (or so I assumed), to “Don’t Change.” Despite the lift’s speed, I was able to read all the text on that t-shirt’s back, the complete lyrics to a song I’d never heard by a band I didn’t know.

 

Cut to last night. I was watching “120 Minutes” on the MTV and the video for “Don’t Change” came on. (I may or may have been wasted. I honestly don’t care to tell you.) In the video, those baby-faced INXS mates looked as young as I probably did when I stood in that elevator reading the back of that stranger’s shirt, all those years ago. And the lyrics were as fabulous last night as they were then .

 

I think I’m molting, friends. At least that’s the pleasant way I’m choosing to see it. And shedding one’s skin to make way for growth is absolutely wonderful. But don’t kid yourself. There will always be parts of you that remain. And those parts are a gift from all the gods. Maybe it’s watching the end of “Romper Room” and waiting in vain to hear your name called as the sweet lady host looks in her mirror and announces the names of all she can see. Maybe it’s running to secure a seat during your very first concert at a general admission venue (Blondie, by the way), and your best friend losing one of her shoes and you yelling, “Leave it!” while tugging at her hand. Or maybe it’s an elevator ride, and liquid poetry that stays with you for all time, since before you heard its tune. There are parts of us that endure, no matter what.

 

And honestly, would you really want to change those parts of yourself?

 

Me, neither.

 

Mikki in Party Mode

Her Story Began…

 

G is For Girl

 

Once upon a time there was a gal who loved living. She loved the world. She loved seeing what might happen next.

 

She also felt things quite deeply. Sometimes she felt too much. At her best, she was able to process her feelings and all the resulting colors that filled her soul. At her best.

 

Other times, the world was too much for her. And she swayed beneath the weight. During those times, she drew inside her skin and tried to keep the darkness to herself. Whether or not this was a good idea never crossed her mind. The girl simply didn’t want that part of her to be shared.

 

There came a day when the girl realized she needed help. She needed her friends, yes, but she also needed to reach out beyond her circle for guidance. For better or worse (for better, surely), the girl recognized she could no longer muddle through her darkness. Her friends looked her in the eye and were there for her. Her doctor hugged her and said he would help. And she said thank you to each and every one of them.

 

She knew finding her footing would be work. She knew it wouldn’t be easy to get back to fitting in her skin. She knew the road would be long and that she would sometimes be traveling in darkness. She also knew she was strong. She knew she would eventually find the light. She knew her soul was worth saving.

 

And so her story began…

Street Art – Los Angeles

 

The Mural That Started It All 1

 

A couple of weeks ago Mister and I took part in an organized tour of street art in downtown L.A. I thought it would be cool. Turned out it was amaze-balls. (The image shown above is the mural that started it all, as far as large-scale works go in the Arts District. And for the record, Mister took most of these photos.)

 

Tour Guides

 

Our guides – Galo and Shandu – were established, known artists themselves. And they could not have been more lovely.

 

The Container Yard Outside Art 3

 

We saw art in every direction, including beneath our feet…

 

Beneath our Feet

 

And above our heads.

 

Above our Heads

 

The rain was dumping buckets. (Did I mention it was raining during the tour?) And you’d think that would have detracted from the experience, but you’d be wrong.

 

Mikki on The Tour

 

Somehow the rain made the art more alive. There was more grit to it, more beauty, too.

 

Mural by Tristan Eaton

 

This next work is one of my favorites. Had I not been given specific information about the piece, I still would have liked it but maybe not as much as I do. We were told Royyal Dog came over from Asia and got to work. He didn’t grid the building for drawing his design, nor did he use a projector. He just got in a cherry picker and looked at the phone in his hand and took off. The entire piece was done with spray paint and was finished in 3 days. 3 days, y’all! I mean really. Just look at those gorgeous faces…

 

Mural by Royyal Dog

 

We saw piece…

 

Unfuck Yourself Mural

 

after piece…

 

Mural by El Mac_Kofie_Nuke

 

And our minds were blown.

 

Mural by Helena_Paints

 

The next piece I want to tell you about is the metal art attached to the pole (below). This work is by Blake Shane and from what I understand, he’s a homeless artist working with found materials. Surrounded by such large-scale works, it would be easy to miss. I’m so glad I didn’t…

 

Art by Blake Shane

 

Some of the works are easily recognizable, like these by Its a Living

 

Mural by Its a Living

 

 

Mural by Its a Living and More

 

Others, not so much…

 

Mural 4_Phone Photo

 

There were so many artists represented…

 

Mural Detail by Plek_Black Light King_UTI

 

so many styles…

 

Mural by Low Bros

 

Some may have felt overwhelmed by the works.

 

Mural by Nychos

 

I felt awe.

 

Mural

 

After our walking tour ended, we headed to The Container Yard for a lesson in spray-painting.

 

Art Lesson Mikki

 

Now, a lot of us may have zero-point-zero experience making wall art with spray paint, but a lot of us have at least used the stuff for various tasks and projects. But I have to tell you – there were a few folks in our group who seemed to have never even held a can of paint. For reals. Watching them applying color to the paper set before us was so joyful, I was a grinning fool. It was as if those adults were getting in touch with their inner children and playing. I kind of loved it.

 

Montana Shop at The Container Yard

 

Not only that, but Shandu, who is a fabulous stencil artist…

 

Art by Shandu One

 

demonstrated some of his own stencil work in action…

 

Art Lesson_Stencil Tutorial by Shandu One

 

And he was gracious enough to talk to me about the stencils themselves. I don’t know why, but it had never occurred to me that one might need two stencils for a single project, representing the positive and the negative space of the work. That may mean nothing to you, but to me it was revelatory.

 

Art Lesson_Stencil Tutorial by Shandu One_Mikki_Negative and Positive Space

 

And then we got an impromptu tour of The Container Yard itself…

 

The Container Yard Tour_Art 2

 

While there, I talked with a working street artist whose likeness is obscured…

 

The Container Yard Tour_Mikki and Street Artist in Event Space 2

 

I asked him about this and he said he’s still one of the cats out there working in darkness, usually without permission. Nice kid. Talented, too.

 

The Container Yard Tour_Art

 

We took in as much art as we could…

 

The Container Yard Tour_Art 5

 

And then our day was over.

 

The Container Yard Tour_Art by Vyal One

 

If you find yourself in Los Angeles and you’re looking for something fun to do for a few hours, I highly recommend a tour with L.A. Art Tours.  These folks are legit and they offer multiple options for experiencing and learning about street art and graffiti in the Arts District. Personally, I can hardly wait to go back and do the Craft Beer and Urban Art/Graffiti Tour. In fact, had it not been smack-dab in the middle of Dry-uary, a beer (or two) would have paired quite nicely with taking in the art. Damn.

 

The Container Yard Outside Art by Binho Ribeiro

 

And if you’re still unconvinced, please remember that my rag-tag group walked around together in the rain…

 

Yeni and Mural Detail by Trixter

 

Rain! And we loved it so freaking much.

 

Undiscovered America

 

I am still in awe.

 

Mural by Adam Dare

Sorry We’re So Sorry

 

Historic Chinese Theatre - View From the Owners Box

 

Sorry to hit you with this on a Friday. I’m sorry to hit you with it any time, really. It’s that pitiful. It is also that important.

 

The other night I attended a documentary screening. (It was powerful, lovely, and it’s called “Hale County This Morning, This Evening” and I’ll be thinking about it for some time.) Before the feature documentary was shown, a documentary short appeared on the screen. It was all of seven minutes and it left a full theatre silently stunned.

 

A Night at the Garden” is terrifying, heartbreaking, ominous. Unfortunately, it is also real. And I think it should be seen. That’s why I’ve given you the link to its site, where the short can be viewed in its entirety. It is only seven minutes – promise.

 

Like I said, I’m sorry to hit you with this. I’m also sorry we’re so sorry. We are, you know. And I’m afraid that owning it is the only way we’re likely to become better. Dear god – may my hope not be in vain.

On the Basis of Awesomeness

 

The other day, my friend Baker Jen and I went to see “On the Basis of Sex.” The movie was awesome and I loved it dearly. My affection for our lord and savior RBG continues to grow.

 

When Baker Jen and I were making our way to our cars, we spotted this sandwich board…

 

Always Believe in Yourself

 

Relevance and inspiration abound. As does my gratitude.

Intersections

 

Bathing Beauties

 

Mister and I recently watched “Marwencol” and it left me, well, fucked up.

 

For those who don’t know, this 2010 documentary is about Mark Hogancamp and the world he has created. He was just an ordinary dude until some assholes beat the crap out of him. After that, Hogancamp found he had lost his memory. It’s far more detrimental and detailed than I’m telling (so please go to the link above and read for yourself), but the documentary is quite lovely in explaining the story. It also gives the viewer an eye into the art Hogancamp is now known for making. There’s a new drama out currently (“Welcome to Marwen“), based on Hogancamp’s story, but I’ve not seen it. I got lucky. I was at a different fabulous documentary screening last month (“Kusama: Infinity“) and the director advised attendees to see “Marwencol” before seeing the dramatization. Boy was she right.

 

But back to the fucked-up part. “Marwencol” is amazing. The intersection of art, real life and fantasy shown in the film overwhelmed me. I want to say it was a good thing, but I’m not sure. I mean – it really rattled my brain, y’all. It led me to see that I don’t have much of a clue about the intersections of my own life. That even though I try to stay on my path, I am lost more often than I care to admit. That my path doesn’t come with a map. “Marwencol” hit me pretty hard. I’m working through the triggered feelings, but I think this might stay with me for a while.

 

In trying to ease my mind and soul along, I thought maybe I should take in some art, live and in-person. So I went to the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena. I freaking love this place. It’s quite accessible and a gal can get through the displayed collection in one outing. I’ve been there a few times recently, and my affection for the place continues to grow.

 

"Tiptoe Down to Art" by Hassel Smith - 1950

 

On this day, my soul fell into a painting and I needed to sit for a while. Hassel Smith’s “Tiptoe Down to Art” grabbed hold and I was done for. The colors seemed to hold me, warmly. The texture stroked my spirit. I spent a good twenty minutes studying this piece and I’m quite certain I still missed obvious aspects. I wish I could tell you why it moved me so, but I have no idea. It simply did. I smiled some, cried some. And when I stood to go, I looked over my shoulder, one last time. I may have to visit it again.

 

"Coronation of the Virgin Altarpiece" by Guariento di Arpo - 1344

 

I was listening to music while walking around the museum, and when I got to Guariento di Arpo’s “Coronation of the Virgin Altarpiece,” I again found I needed to sit. This time it was Laura Cantrell’s fault. Her song – “Bees” – came through my ear buds and it zapped me. Though the song/album is dedicated to John Peel, I found it astounding how well-suited the lyrics were to the various panels of di Arpo’s work. My eyes moved over the piece, settling on a new aspect with each line of the song. At some point, I actually imagined Jesus missing bees. I’m not kidding. With the song’s final words, “My time is short now, I feel it coming, I’ll see you darling on the other side,” I looked up and saw Jesus on a cross and was awed by the meshing. I was in that shit and it was powerful. When the song ended, I took it as my cue to mosey.

 

I wasn’t looking for anything in particular, just wandering around. I also wasn’t listening for anything in particular. The playlist keeping me company holds close to 200 songs and was set to random play. It wasn’t odd or even interesting that a Dido song came up in the rotation. Except that it was. For just as the song began, I rounded a corner and saw this…

 

The Legend of Dido

 

The exhibit was lovely. It had nothing to do with the music in my ears, but it made me smile. The gods enjoy a little humor from time to time. This time it was relatively banal, but it was appreciated just the same.

 

After a while, I walked out to the garden. I figured it was my last chance to get some clarity. I searched, but found none.

 

"Reclining Figure" by Henry Moore - 1956-60

 

“Marwencol” really did a number on me. Good art is like that. Sometimes we are centered enough to understand its effects. Sometimes not. I’m feeling a mixture of both right now and may be dealing with the resonance for some time. There’s a lot of life swirling in my mind and in my soul. That’s just who I am. How I am. It’s true I don’t have a map. I often don’t have a clue. But I keep going. That’s also who I am, how I am. I can’t imagine being any other way.

Dry-uary

 

This is the 4th day of Dry-uary for Mister and me. We’ve been doing this for a few years now and it’s okie dokie. We don’t drink (or do anything else, ahem) the entire month and in the end, our livers thank us. For the most part, we stick with it. There have been a few times when an emergency shot of bourbon was necessary – for medicinal purposes of course – but that’s about it. It sounds boring, I know, but I really do feel better after January. And then I’m a freaking light-weight! Bonus!

 

Enjoy This Lifepg

 

I saw this sidewalk graffiti yesterday while out walking. I tend to the optimistic side of things, but always appreciate when the world reminds me where my bread is buttered.

 

I also had my first Elvis sighting of the year yesterday. Now I see Elvis quite often at the grocery store. (We shop the same aisles, don’t you know.) But this was an entirely different part of town and an entirely different Elvis. The King’s birthday is next week, so I’ll keep an eye out for him around town. You never know.

 

Aside from that, I salute this day. I want to celebrate it, to honor it, to enjoy it. Today is my life. And it is good.

Bubye 2018

 

Bubye 2018

 

Most people I know are ready to toss 2018 into the wood chipper. Here in the States, among people with a modicum of integrity, the past year is viewed for the poo-show it was. Good riddance.

 

But there were glimmers of vitality and joy. Just the other night I danced my ass off and that was definitely a highlight. Not only that, but when I sat and watched other party-goers tear up the dance floor, I felt a joy bubble burst in my brain hole and just about smiled myself to death.

 

Rodin at the Norton Simon Museum

 

I saw amazing art, locally…

 

4th Day_Hyde Park_Christo and a Queens Swan

 

and abroad.

 

Sunset in December

 

The Los Angeles sunsets brought ridiculous awe and wonder to my front door. Thank you smog!

 

Bentley My Lover Dog

 

I got to visit with a dog I adore. Only this time he decided to show his love for me by going to town on my leg. As this is very uncommon for this well-behaved soul, I think his affection may be due to a past-life experience. Maybe Bentley and I were lovers in another time. I do hail from white trash, so maybe there’s some dog in my lineage. Whatever the reason, it was unexpected and not cool, dog.

 

Desert Respite

 

Mister and I had a desert respite. It was fun and restful and beautiful and we got to see dear friends. Win-win, y’all.

 

Blindfold Puzzle

 

While in the desert, I witnessed my friend SJ assemble a puzzle while blindfolded. Yep. She discerned which side of each piece was up while blindfolded. She separated side and interior pieces while blindfolded. Then she put the mutha together and it didn’t take very long. I love this gal for a lot of reasons. And now I love her even more.

 

Beer Advent Finished

 

Mister and I finished our Beer Advent Calendar, and we had a blast doing it. All those German beers were a treat. And the cans look so amazing on the mantel. As we don’t live in a frat house, they’ll be coming down today, however. That’s alright. We enjoyed them while they lasted.

 

I got through the first draft of part two of the book I’m writing, and as my goal was to get it out of my head before the year’s end, I’m feeling pretty good about that. Miles to go, of course, but still. Sometimes baby steps are incredibly fulfilling.

 

Mikki and Lorinda 2003

 

I also reconnected with someone I love more than butter. If you know a soul who seems to be part of the fiber of your being, then you can appreciate how I feel about this chick. She’s woven into me. It’s as simple and as complicated as that. Gratitude abounds.

 

2018 was a janky year, I won’t deny. But there were moments that stood out, moments that made a difference. And I want to do all I can to make even more stand-out moments come to life this year. It won’t be easy, y’all. My country is still being slowly destroyed by the worst president in history. Jackasses around the globe are discriminating against human souls in more ways than I can comprehend. Our environment seems to be dying. And don’t get me started on gender issues. Honestly – it’s enough to break a person. I know a few folks who have fallen so deeply into depression that they may not make it back. I’m not kidding. That’s heartbreaking.

 

But! I’m not ready to give up. In fact, I’m just getting started. You want a piece of me, 2019? Bring it on. I’m your worst nightmare – a Club 50, optimistic, brave, excited creator. And I’m about to make this year my bitch. Here we go…

 

Happy New Year!

 

Hold For Annette Is In Full Swig. I Mean Swing.

 

Hold for Annette

 

Remember this photo? I wrote about it here. And then I decided Annette – God love her – was on to something and decided to help her out. This was my first effort…

 

Hold for Annette 2

 

Then I got all jazzed about the holidays and helped her some more…

 

Hold for Annette 3

 

For the record, I chose to hold this particular item for Annette because when I first looked at the box, I thought it read “Don’t Let Them Poop,” which led to an in-aisle guffaw. Then I looked again and read it correctly. My way would definitely be better. Hope Annette likes it.

I Wish You a Merry Christmas (Yes, You)

 

Yes You

 

Not sure what your day looks like, but I do hope it’s joyful. Maybe you’ll have yourself some laughs. Maybe some good times. Maybe some peace.

 

No matter where you are, I hope this day of yours is worth living. I hope mine is, too.