Tales from 1990: Richard’s end

I did not know Richard well — he was a friend of a friend and I met him only twice — but I remember everything about him. We were both in our mid to late 20s and our mutual friends were a circle of artistic types, dreamers, dropouts, and successful people who wished they were the first three things.

Richard was special. He was an effortlessly brilliant writer and illustrator, and he had a breadth and depth of knowledge out of proportion to his age. Talking to him was like a guided tour of a great library. He was usually doodling on something and the doodles turned out as perfect little cartoon stories sometimes. This was in the golden age of the “new comix” between Gary Panter in free weeklies and Art Spiegelman on coffee tables, when new styles of comic strip art were showing up everywhere.

Richard could have done well, made a living or better, made a name for himself. But he refused. He was not lazy, or disorganized, or dumb about money. He explicitly refused to show his work to a wider audience or to be paid for it. I remember someone joking that he was Kafka and some Max Brod was going to disobey him and publish everything, and he became very upset.

So Richard was poor. Very poor. He and his girlfriend basically cleaned toilets for a living. It wasn’t clear to me why he dived that deep into the working class, since he had no romantic delusions of proletarian slumming. I think he just hated office work and liked being left alone to do menial labor.

Richard drank and smoked, a lot. Really quite a lot. I knew some hard drinkers at the time, but Richard was a full-service beer drunk. He never seemed to lose an intellectual edge, but his eyes were heavy-lidded and he swayed a bit when he walked.

He was living in San Francisco in the late 1980s, doing but not selling a long graphic novel and working his down and out job, when he and some friends took a night off and hung out on the top of a tall building downtown. They watched the city, and drank, and smoked, and drank some more.

At some point Richard, who was having a great time, was dancing around on balancing on something and stepped where the building wasn’t, not seeing the gap between it and the next one. And that was that.

It still is not clear if there was explicit intention. Did he jump? Did he fall? Did he start to fall and then just decided to go with it? Did he even know what was going on? Was he in that situation half-hoping that something would kill him? No one knows.

He left behind a life incomplete in every way. Incomplete in years, incomplete in his art, just truncated. Everything about him was rolling along this curve towards something big — good or bad — and then stopped in mid journey.

Richard was a very sophisticated person, and the kind of artist who worked on multiple levels. Sometimes I wonder if his entire life, the shape of it and its end, could have been a work of art about truncation and incompleteness.

On the other hand, he was a drunk. And his father had committed suicide. So he might just have been a smart guy with some bad luck and some bad decisions. I don’t know.

There are so many fakes and ridiculous twits playing at “tortured artist” who say and do things that sound a lot like Richard, but he was all real. And I believe he got what he wanted as an artist. I’m still not convinced, though, that he wanted or needed to die on the concrete of a San Francisco sidewalk that night.

is this for real?

Iran conducts all crude oil trade in euro and yen

TEHRAN, April 30 (Reuters) – Iran, the world’s fourth-largest oil producer, is conducting all its crude trading in euro and yen, instead of the U.S. dollar, an Iranian official was quoted as saying on Wednesday.

So, maybe a guy shooting his mouth off, or a mistake of some kind. But Google only has 11 articles grouped in this topic and if it’s true, it would be an uncomfortably big story. Because unless I’m wrong, that’s a war-starter move.

Thanks to hepkitten for the pointer

Don’t ya know there’s a war on?

If you’re a U.S. citizen capable of any political action, your first duty is to end this war.

We are the only people who can do this. We can vote, we can spend on candidates and organizations who change votes, we can demonstrate. No one else can.

The subject line of this post kept popping up in my head today. Just today I saw long articles, discussions, and arguments in blogs and publications about Mr. Obama’s pastor and his big mouth, about Tibet and the Chinese Olympics, about the sexualization of a 15-year-old girl as a television star, about the introduction of video into the Flickr photo site, about the virtues and vices of demonstrations in which large numbers of people ride around on bicycles… it goes on.

When the torch for the god-damned Olympics came through San Francisco, the local supporters of the Dalai Lama organized a dramatic, well-organized, and clearly expensive attack on the event and made international headlines. The arguments I mention above were not little squibs like this post, either; they stretched into yards-deep webspace over days, burrowing into tiny whorls of forum thread.

Imagine if you will, an alternate version of the last month, in which the creative energy, free time, technology, expertise, and most of all the money, money, money, money, money implied by all that crap above had been thrown at one big anti-war punch. A demonstration, a television ad, a get out the vote for an important legislator, a front page ad on every newspaper. And imagine if that happened every day. Because it could. We’re a wealthy nation with a crapload of free time. Those who can, do. Those who can’t, write. Those who can’t write, write checks. (Personally I write and write checks. I’m not very good at throwing bricks.)

If you think the war should continue, I’m not talking to you. If you agree that the war must be stopped, could we all maybe spend less effort, time, thought, and ESPECIALLY MONEY on other issues?

Don’t ya know there’s a war on?

Ouch.

Also: ouch, ouch, ouch, and pretty much ouch.

Ran out of vicodin pretty quick. Found out that I *can* in fact take too much OTC analgesic! (barf). Unable to find comfortable position for roughly 24 hours. Sweated like a pig the whole time. Finally found method of stretching out trashed muslc which involves squishing my forearm into my mouth and noise as if I had been trying to sniff my armpit and missed.

It’s been extraordinarily painful. I am surprised and impressed and I hope it heals soon.

HEY EVERYONE BARGAIN GARAGE SALE EVERYTHING MUST GO

OWNERS OF SWINGERS CLUB SELL FURNISHINGS

Nalder and Wood advertised sale items on craigslist this past week, including a 600-pound ice maker, 26 double, queen and king-sized five-inch thick foam pads and a steel-framed bed with headboard lights.

The posting stated the club was moving to a new location and down-sizing.

Outside the building, several wooden boards covered with black and purple felt lay against a retaining wall. Six automobiles and a motorcycle were in the parking lot, including a truck pulling a storage unit.

Hmm, five inches. Would that be thick enough to AUGH WHAT AM I THINKING

Basically,

Fuck,

I threw out my fucking left shoulder. The fuck. I mean, fuck!

It’s just a normal muscle strain, not like the insane neuro-psycho-musculo-pendejo problm on the right, which oddly was fixed almost completely, after a year, by stretching once.

But damn, it’s a bad one. I am unable to fucking do anything without swearing like a fucking longshoreman, and a few times I just had to sit the fuck down and feel sorry for myself before I could get anything done.

If I stand in a position that’s somewhere between “cricket bowler” and “drunk flaming gay guy waving at you” it doesn’t hurt.

Here’s to the thing going away in a day or do so I don’t have to [redacted] [redacted] from [redacted] out of sure frustration.

Anyway I’m driving Bob to the VA for an injection today, so at least I know I don’t have a 40 year old unkillable bacterium in my eye trying to blind me, like him.

The fuck, though. FUCK.