short passages


Somewhere deep in the woods is a pond circled by float planes. A couple sits on fallen logs that act as high-end furniture, placed atop an outdoor patio made of large ceramic tiles; these are the tiles that children think of when their grandparents have just moved to Florida.

Grass stands tall and semi-erect; morning delight only partially responding to the breeze.

Every now and then the man or woman gets up to try and move the log a bit this way or that; intermittent sneaker squeaks like a lonely fire alarm low on batteries.

Orange lips listen patiently, nibbling on fake tanner finger nails, as the other talks over the drone of prop engines. Pontoon clouds hung below fuselages rich with passengers of ideas.

GPS taped to the steering wheels.

And out of the windows that are pinholes in a sky, the pond is a runway.

what's in a name?


I used to spend a lot of time in New York a few years back: I was seeing a woman (hey Alina!) who lived there, so I was bouncing back and forth from Seattle to a nice little apartment on Spring street.

New York has always felt, and still does feel, like an exotic place to me. It’s a center piece to something although I’m not sure it’s the center that anyone talks it up to be, which is the the thing that I want to ramble on for a bit about.

It has always bothered me when people say “I’m a New Yorker”, or “THIS is New York” when seeing something high contrast happening around them in the city. Many people have written on the idea of what New York is to them (For some reason I think of the Flamethrowers when I think of writers writing about New York, which I can’t actually recall the narrative structure or tone that is used to capture the city, although I’m quite sure it is there), which is something I can’t really get into since I never spent enough time there to consider myself anything other than a visitor.

But the insistence of being FROM a place is something I can relate to, as I’ve had time in a few places that I consider to be in my blood at this point. Even so, I’d never distinguish my personality by announcing my relationship to some physical place. I’ve found myself embedded deeply in many places, but emotionally I have never thought of a place as defining that sensation of being embedded; perhaps part of what that place was at a certain time.

I think what’s bothersome to me is that saying something like “I’m a New Yorker” seems to place on oneself the stereotypes of the place they are from as they suppose it is seen by outside people. The quality they seem to actually be addressing, however, is nuanced and a particular quality of that place as seen by them;  in how it supports and amplifies something that they hold dear to themselves. And to diminish this important quality by draping it in a name of a place, is to diminish one’s self. It’s like pants that make someones ass look great:  I agree that some pants make an ass look better, but without the ass the pants are useless.

I remember writing a paper in college about Fela Kuti, and the TA wrote the comment back “Okay paper. Very western viewpoint of the individual”, which maybe someone would write on the top of this post. Perhaps the annoyance I have at this whole New Yorker thing (or any other time I hear people refer to a city/place as part of their core identity) is the fact that I struggle with an overriding sense of being an individual first, which I agree in the world today is not only socially irresponsible, but also a bit scientifically incorrect (I’m still on my Hyperobjects kick. Hi Bradford!)

For now, I’ll wander these streets of LA, where I have not heard even once: “I’m an Angeleno”. Although I do admit to uttering the phrase in an exhale “Dowtown LA…”, the place I now call home; a place I watch a bit tentatively out of the corner of my eye at, as if it’s someone dressed as a clown hiding in a parking structure (an actual description of someone once seen in downtown).

Maybe what I’m getting at is the duel role of content and container that is a place of belonging. And I guess the things that we are most passionate about, and strive to conjure the most in our daily lives, are usually in this role of content and container. What is a disservice to ourselves is when we delegate these passions to be only one of these things.

small joys.


One of my small joys in life is forgotten, leftover coffee. 

To amble into the kitchen in the morning and find my moka pot half full of room temperature coffee is something that must be akin to what nature photographers feel when spotting a snow leopard (who came up with that spelling?!). 

Further, to forget a pot that was made mid-morning only to find it as I have now, at 3 in the afternoon, is the feeling of leaving a car in an illegal parking spot for over 24 hours and coming back to have it not only still there but with no ticket.

Afternoon or morning light with forgotten coffee is the finishing touches on a painting that was almost perfect.

notes on recklessness


The first time I realized that the math side of my brain was the same as the art side of my brain, I was a sophomore in college. Each side was up to the same tasks, just with different vocabularies. For most of my life, until that moment, I had felt that I needed to pick a side to play with for the day and that making that choice meant I was inherently stunting the development of the other side of my brain. It was a stressful position to be in, until that moment of clarity came along and two things that were square blocks in round holes, suddenly were just the same puzzle piece, and there were no blocks or holes, just a mind at rest.

Stereovision of the mind or something.

In 2015, I ended up at Meet Factory for a stint as their Longest Participating Resident (Hey Piotr! Hey Zuzana!), and it was upon showing up at this place that I made another shift in mind which is that I realized the practice of art and the living of my life were the same thing.

In my time before getting there I had been focused on the narrative that objects tell within confined structures, and was troubled by how I could get at the internal state of an object and its history.

To make headway on this goal meant having a certain fearlessness in the objects themselves, which I guess is sort of the goal of a lot of art: a fearlessness of a certain mode of expression. To create those objects, though, I realized required a fearlessness in me. It required letting go of the constraints in certain parts of a process and allowing myself into feedback with what I was trying to do.

When I was in 5th grade I had a friend, David Heffner, and one day we were going out to water balloon the neighborhood. We didn’t have any water balloons, but did have a bunch of sandwich bags. We started filling sandwich bags and rubber banding them closed (they weren’t zip locks, just the Stuff ’n Fold variety of sandwich bag: like a pair of tights whiteys for a sandwich, where you are stuffing the sandwich through the fly), but I started getting really particular about us having to gather the bags back up and reuse them. After all: they didn’t explode like water balloons, so we should just grab them back and use them again. This, however, takes a lot of the gorilla warfare out of the task, which is the paramount point of the task, so David understandably looked at me like I was crazy and bolted to play with other friends that afternoon.

In that instance: if the goal was to water balloon and all we had was sandwich bags, we should have therefore used sandwich bags. I had failed to take ownership over the desired task to be undertaken and gotten muddled in details outside of my purpose.

I realized at Meet Factory that the fearlessness that I wanted in the things I created, required an ownership of fearlessness in myself. There’s many different ways to embody fearlessness and I think for a period in Meet Factory and beyond I took on a certain recklessness that amounted to expressing a maximized version of fearlessness that has always lived inside me, but it was a fearlessness that I checked with my coat at dinner parties in order to make room for others.

With groups of artists in different countries around Europe, I tumbled through art and into the crevices of cities in a way that those cities were not ready for. We bit all hands and flattened mountains, while building skyscrapers from air and our will. There was a certain sense of abandon and being untouchable and I think the feedback with art served its purpose.

But on moving to LA, I realized that I had brought this recklessness with me, into a world that was no longer the same. It wasn’t sleeping on floors in warehouses on the outskirts of Budapest, but instead high rises and skies that always smiled kindly through sun kissed cheeks. And this recklessness no longer served my art, and instead made me feel further from it. My recklessness had become a barrier to the life I loved and the things I liked to make.

You can build a castle for yourself out of anything: recklessness, hate, love and even virtue. You can look down from these castles and chastise and scold others; turn the ability to make statements about "us" to statements about "them". Fearlessness can be a a great castle where at first it is the bridge to any new destination, as you forge ahead with zero inhibition, but then you suddenly realize that your fearlessness is just a set of fences keeping you from seeing the world through new eyes.

When I first got to Meet Factory I met an artist who was one of the most fearless people I have ever met. I think I had a bit of jealousy over their disregard for norms and decorum. I didn’t realize they were just using fearlessness as a knife to remove parts of the world they didn’t have the patience or ability to deal with.

I guess this is all to say that in the feedback of the practice of art and the living of life, it’s important to look up and see if the parts of either have metastasized and taken on lives of their own that no longer serve the other. And I don’t think art is special in this regard, it’s just the thing I use as a translation of my life to see if things still make sense. Like putting “I am happy” through a few different languages in Google translate, before translating back to english, and seeing if I get back the original phrase.

And there’s a lot of other ways to translate my life: friends, family, the love for another.

At the end of the day I just don’t want to build castles. And I don’t want to forget that the ability to fluidly move from one mode of an expression of life to another and see each expression translated easily into all aspects of my life is a good way to stay happy.

I’m not here to hold lots of different pegs for lots of different holes. Or a mix of pegs and puzzle pieces. I’m here to pay attention and find flow.