into the covoid – a brief from an american service worker.

i realize it’s a miracle that i’ve been able to live in the bay area as a blue collar artist hustling about $25k a year at my joe job waiting tables in a hotel restaurant. it’s also a miracle i can take sick days and paid time off doing this kind of work, a benefit to living in liberal berkeley, california.

and i know what you’re probably thinking, but i could give a shit. i’ve cultivated a good life for myself here, making my living working part-time hours, allowing me the time to feed the fire in my belly that is my artmaking and writing. especially good after a years long dry spell, that fire starved of fuel by the most heaviest of life stuff.

morning; henry’s, berkeley, ca. // photographed by pan ellington.

i knew we’d be hit, was expecting it last week, actually. but we’d had a couple slow nights and then a good weekend, nothing out of the ordinary for our beloved, yet ill-starred henry’s. this week, though, it would happen fucking fast — called off two out of the last three nights, three out of my five shifts next week just cut, the schedule pulled down, revised, and reposted in a matter of minutes. disconcerting? fuck, yes. and frightening, too, if i’m really gonna be honest. but i can also say that i’ve gotten through worse.

a view from work – exit sign; henry’s, berkeley, ca. // photographed by pan ellington.

which isn’t to say this whole fiasco doesn’t scare the fuck out of me. in the meantime, though, what else to do but lean in to what i have to try and make up the money i’m not able to earn at the joe job until these clouds finally pass over this cursed land of ours?

i’ll walk on with my book hustle, hawk my photos & artwork, create content on patreon. & hope that with my earnest effort & proverbial elbow grease, i’ll continue to grow my audience of readers & viewers. whether it’s me or another worker slash creator in your life, i gotta say, now’s the time to step up, offer your support — some kind words of encouragement if you’re out on the hustle, too; some kind bills of green if you’ve got the means.

because we’re all in this together.

a dystopian work in progress – fear & loathing as america burns.

there was a time last week, was it last week? it’s so hard to say these days. but there was a time last week when bolton’s first drip, drip, drips first started to fall that i thought and even said that donnie’s time had probably come, that republicans wouldn’t be able to hold on that much longer, that once public sentiment shifted to support allowing more evidence and witnesses — say, to the tune of seventy-two per cent or so, that they’d turn, just like they did with nixon. there was too much at stake, i tried to reason. but none of this would come to pass, as you well know.

i set out to watch like the engaged and well-educated citizen i am, but found myself continually enraged and disheartened by the unending cascade of treachery, thievery, and scandal, which, let’s face it, i already experience daily existing as an artist/worker in late capitalism america. first it was turtle mitchie’s limiting access to the press with his big brother senate cam — democracy dies in darkness, jeff bezos likes to say. and then the parade of pissant arguments from the likes of mr. underwear and mr. kenny starr that every first year law student down to the high school drop out taking an intro to constitutional law at some run down city college knows is complete fucking bullshit. i know this because i was once that high school drop out. donnie’s claims of a perfect call followed by republicans telling us, yep, he did it, oh well ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.

i didn’t have the heart to shut it all off completely, so i limited myself to media commentary like the engaged and well-educated citizen i am, finally putting my $43k and counting uc berkeley media studies degree to work, and in a futile act of self preservation, let the actual trial drone on and on and on in the background on a tolerably low volume, basically almost on mute while i occupied myself with other things.

it really is amazing what you can accomplish with a stack of newspaper clippings, mod podge, and a found canvas, discovered around the corner at eleven o’clock at night on your way home from work after smoking a good sativa. as an artist existing in late capitalism america, i’ll take my materials where i can get them. the sound of the scissor cutting paper, the deeper sound the glossies make versus the lighter sound of newspaper, laying them out, making adjustments, focusing in my mind drifted to other things, but what i cannot tell you, my working meditative, a delightful white noise om of art delivering me from the very american acid trip of terror i found myself laying out on the canvas before me.

every trip gets to the point, though, where you’re just, like, enough already, and you try to will your brain to shut off whatever it is you’re hallucinating at the moment, but it’s just no use because you’ve dropped acid, dummy, and the chemical remains in control. only in this case it is not lsd but the small percentage of american psychos who have taken us all hostage.

i try to take hope where i can get it, some times more successful than others. it’s hard not to let that man get you down, but there’s too much to fight for and too much at stake now. i’ve always said that, but it takes on a deeper meaning having found my great love, them and our little family now always prominent in my mind.

i’d read elizabeth warren over that trial’s dark days, her words reflecting my own story, at times, providing another salve to our great american nightmare, confirming the votes i’ll make in march and november. i’d been for sanders back in ’16, even wrote his name in that november. but bernie’s not out on the stump this year saying the names of murdered trans women of color. and even if he did? we’d still be better served with him in the senate, ushering in waves upon waves of future aocs as we embark upon trying to wake america from her nightmare trip.

eliabeth warren phone bank; iowa caucuses, 3 february 2020.

i signed up to phone bank for the hour that hardball with chris matthews is on, because who wants to be subjected to his shouting and sprays of spittle after being subjected to dump truck donnie’s tirades day after day after day for the last five years? does anybody even watch that show, anyway? it was quite the illuminating exercise, though, i must say. direct participation is an interesting scene. lots of clicks and voicemails, of course. a few bernie folx, pleasant and thoughtful in their answers. i spoke with a woman who, at that very moment was sitting with other warren voters at her local caucus and with a democrat who railed on the party’s so-called “treatment” of trump, who went on to say that her “father would be ashamed that we treated a president like that.” i even spoke with a trump voter. well, not so much spoke with as received a shouted laundry list of the president’s lies and accusations, the kind which end up receiving four pinocchios or whatever the fuck on politifact.

the truth is we have more in common than differences. the problem is the american psychos living in donnie’s alternate reality, bent on steering us all off of the precipice. nothing fit and yet they did acquit. and now here we are…

a dystopian work in progress.

requiem for pan’s fifth.

julius warhol, paul frank/andy warhol foundation; ca. 2002

i’d kicked myself after the fact for not wearing my vintage paul frank tee that day, a collab with the andy warhol foundation, circa early aughts. maybe that’s what led to the fate of pan’s fifth, i thought.

we’d stayed until the museum closed, having wandered the galleries for hours, sometimes taking in side by side, oftentimes walking separate but together, snapping photographs in multitudes, as is our wont. & then somewhere between leaving sf moma and the gold coast dispensary — poof, there it fucking went, like the smoke at the end of the blunt we just shared.

i knew what it was, but held it together. this loss tragically ironic, i’d purposely kept all of the photos from january on, but hadn’t backed them up. that decision tragically ironic, too, so made because i wanted to keep the photos i’d left close to me and with me always. a reminder in my pocket of just how far i’d walked, a reminder in my pocket of what a fucking miracle my life had become.

journal page, december 25, 2018

it’s ironic, too, this time poetically, that i’m finishing this particular piece on this particular holiday, ticking away another with my very great love. i’d thought this week, in passing, of where my story was a year ago. it wasn’t until today, though, perusing my journal and looking back online that i realized just how dark it had been.

facebook post, december 2018.

“everything is illuminated” // photomontage by pan ellington.

i didn’t know when i wrote that post that soon after, at the turn of the year, i’d emerge slowly back into life, the weight noticably lighter with the help of my friends, therapy, community. and i didn’t know then that four months later i would meet them, they the long ago “she”, now on my bathroom wall.

which makes the loss of my iphone that day sound all the more trivial. it was about more than just a “thing,” though. it was about keeping those first six months close — the lift of that weight, the return of my wonder & joy. in writing this though?

i know that i have.

a brief note on the artist’s fatal flaw.

sticker bombs : about to deploy // photographed by pan ellington.

as an indie artist out here living outlaw style on the edges of late capitalism, i’d posit that most of us have one – fatal flaw, achilles heel, call it what you will. mine? that eternal struggle, negotiating the space between my creative productivity and self-promotion.

the slap poem project : in the wild // photographed by pan ellington.

we’ll begin with the fact that i’m awful at marketing myself, writing bios, hawking my book, my patreon. even the word “marketing” makes me shudder. and end with the never ending tug of war — when i’m making art and writing i fall off on the promotion ish and when i’m on le promo hustle my making falls off.

so consider this my meandering reverie on where i’ve been these last couple…

touched very beautifully and very deeply by my muse.

the slap poem project: in the wild, iv // photographed by pan elliington.

support my art — on patreon.