braves nation

Started going through my head right after I saw the election results last week…

Be brave and be kind.

-The National, “Baby, We’ll Be Fine”

Kuretake brush pen, Winsor & Newton alcohol markers, stencil, and Micron pens on an atlas page.

We’ll take a nice walk, they said. You’ll love the beach, they said. You won’t experience a life-changing encounter with your Creator when you realize the waves are trying to kill you while posing for a photo, they said.
The Forgotten History Of 'Violent Displacement' That Helped Create The National Parks
Tuesday marked the 99th anniversary of the National Park Service, perhaps the most-loved division of the federal government. For many Americans, excursions to the national parks conjure up memories of excursions to the national parks conjure up memories of family road trips, camp songs and hikes set in some of the country's most beautiful locales. Ken Burns called the parks, "America’s best idea." Cue Woody Guthrie: "This Land Is Your Land."

I think we need to repeat the simple things that are important to remember over and over.

Be brave and be kind. -The National, “Baby, We’ll Be Fine”

Stencils, homemade acrylic spray ink, white Sharpie waterbased paint pen, and… I can’t remember what I used for the black writing. D’oh!


March 16th 1912: Lawrence Oates dies

On this day in 1912 Lawrence Oates, a member of Robert Falcon Scott’s British team to the South Pole, left his tent never to be seen again. Scott’s Terra Nova Expedition was his second attempt and aimed to become the first group to reach the South Pole. The group succeeded in reaching the Pole on January 17th 1912, only to discover that they had been beaten by Roald Amundsen’s Norwegian expedition. Sadly, Scott’s entire party of five men died on the return journey. Oates was one of those who died first. He was suffering from severe frostbite and, in an apparent act of self-sacrifice, simply walked out of his tent into a blizzard. He had asked them to leave him behind as his condition worsened, and it is likely he felt that he was holding his group back and limiting their chances for survival. Thus on March 16th he walked out of the tent saying: “I am just going outside and may be some time.” The others died soon after and their bodies were found by a search party in November, along with some of their equipment and personal effects. Oates’s body was never found, but he and his companions are remembered as brave men and national heroes.

“We knew that poor Oates was walking to his death, but though we tried to dissuade him, we knew it was the act of a brave man and an English gentleman.
- Entry in Scott’s diary about Oates

The Price of Coming Out

The book The Price of Salt was first recommended to me as an infatuated 18-year-old girl in high school. Stubbornly in denial, I ignored the recommendation. It wasn’t until 10 years later, when its movie Carol came out, that the story pulled me in so deeply I still find it hard to let go of its words. 

For me, falling in love with a woman for the first time was so much more intense than falling for a man. There was no precedent. To paraphrase Carol, she was flung out of space. I’d never read about that kind of love in books or saw women like her in movies. So when it happened to me, when she happened to me, I looked into the world for understanding in art and there was just static noise. I had nothing but the all-consuming weight of everything she made me feel. There was no outlet, and it began to feel like a burden.

When I finally saw Carol, it was the first piece that told parts of me and other women I know so well that it was, at times, utterly overwhelming. It’s a rare and beautiful thing when a single creation changes how you view yourself and your own work. Seeing it for the first time was nothing short of the extraordinary moment when art eviscerated the world around me, silencing me while making me feel all of it.  

Because I still remember the moment I saw her signature on that sheet, unable to understand why her name drew me closer. I remember my friends calling me to catch up. I knew I wanted to talk about her but didn’t know why I felt I couldn’t. I remember how the autumn air shifted when I saw her again, unable to look away from a glance that had stopped me. I didn’t know what it was then, I just knew it was changing me, right there in front of the world and no one seemed to notice.

Carol was the first time I saw my experience so authentically and elegantly portrayed on screen, reminding me what it was like the first time I felt all of it… leaving me thinking I’ve been there, I’ve felt those things, I’ve said those words and had those arguments.

But that’s what great storytelling does. It puts you in the middle of its world and makes you feel like it’s all happening to you for the first time - or happening for the first time all over again.

You’re suddenly arguing again about what you feel, even though you don’t even know yourself what those feelings mean. But you defend and you deny that you don’t feel that way, that you’re not that girl, because it’s the only way you keep any sense of normalcy in a room full of the electric chaos she brings. So you swear you’re not in love because love would mean your world will irrevocably change.

And then it does.

You wake up wrapped in sheets that aren’t yours, and there’s a beautiful woman across the room smiling at you. And it’s the way she puts on her heels and does her hair, the way she kisses you and creates that burst of everything through your lips that makes you realize your life will never be the same.

When a thousand indecipherable moments culminate into one, it feels more than an epiphany - it feels transformative and transcendent.  I will never know how to translate that into my work, I just know when I find it in others. 

And I found that in this story. I felt it when she was first accused and exposed of what she felt, stripping her identity with just a few words. 

I remember the denial – my own and theirs - the attempt to rationalize that impenetrable, intangible force that made a mess of our world. 

I can tell you what it felt like when my family first asked me about it. I can tell you how their voices changed to whispers in the next room and I can describe the downward curves of their pursed lips. I can tell you about the silence that came after I told a friend. I remember the first time I cried when it was too much to take in and comprehend.  

I can’t describe how I became dismantled by the presence of another. 

But I do know that those moments still come now, ten years later, whether they’re fleeting or immortal. Whether it’s a woman or a man. Some will be lovers, some will be friends, some will be passing strangers, perpetually reminding me that no matter how much I fight and deny, we’ll never have control over what we feel.

That’s what this book and this movie did, they made all of those silent looks and loud moments infinite again.

But it all worked because Patricia Highsmith wrote an incredible book. Because the talented Rooney Mara & Cate Blanchett had chemistry. Because Todd Haynes directed art onto film. Part of me is glad I never read this book as an 18-year-old.  It wouldn’t have hit me the way it did as an adult. I would have denied parts of it back then just like I denied parts of myself.

And that’s why we need more stories like these. Because the girl I was then took over ten years to become comfortable saying it out loud. It took over ten years for me to start putting pieces of the girl I was and the woman she was into my own work.

The more we talk about it, the more we normalize it, the easier it will be for LGBTQ experiencing it all for the first time. 

It’s almost National Coming Out Day. I urge you all to embrace it. If you can’t yet, embrace a book or a movie or piece of art that helps. If you haven’t found one yet, I urge you to create it. 

Be Brave x

Patton’s Speech to the Third Army, June 5th, 1944

Gentlemen, be seated,

Men, all this stuff you hear about America not wanting to fight, wanting to stay out of the war, is a lot of bullshit. Americans love to fight. All real Americans love the sting and clash of battle. When you were kids, you all admired the champion marble shooter, the fastest runner, the big-league ball players and the toughest boxers. Americans love a winner and will not tolerate a loser. Americans play to win all the time. That’s why Americans have never lost and will never lose a war. The very thought of losing is hateful to Americans. Battle is the most significant competition in which a man can indulge. It brings out all that is best and it removes all that is base.

You are not all going to die. Only two percent of you right here today would be killed in a major battle. Every man is scared in his first action. If he says he’s not, he’s a goddamn liar. But the real hero is the man who fights even though he’s scared. Some men will get over their fright in a minute under fire, some take an hour, and for some it takes days. But the real man never lets his fear of death overpower his honor, his sense of duty to his country, and his innate manhood.

All through your army career you men have bitched about what you call ‘this chicken-shit drilling.’ That is all for a purpose—to ensure instant obedience to orders and to create constant alertness. This must be bred into every soldier. I don’t give a fuck for a man who is not always on his toes. But the drilling has made veterans of all you men. You are ready! A man has to be alert all the time if he expects to keep on breathing. If not, some German son-of-a-bitch will sneak up behind him and beat him to death with a sock full of shit. There are four hundred neatly marked graves in Sicily, all because one man went to sleep on the job—but they are German graves, because we caught the bastard asleep before his officer did.

An army is a team. It lives, eats, sleeps, and fights as a team. This individual hero stuff is bullshit. The bilious bastards who write that stuff for the Saturday Evening Post don’t know any more about real battle than they do about fucking. And we have the best team—we have the finest food and equipment, the best spirit and the best men in the world. Why, by God, I actually pity these poor bastards we’re going up against.

All the real heroes are not storybook combat fighters. Every single man in the army plays a vital role. So don’t ever let up. Don’t ever think that your job is unimportant. What if every truck driver decided that he didn’t like the whine of the shells and turned yellow and jumped headlong into a ditch? That cowardly bastard could say to himself, 'Hell, they won’t miss me, just one man in thousands.’ What if every man said that? Where in the hell would we be then? No, thank God, Americans don’t say that. Every man does his job. Every man is important. The ordnance men are needed to supply the guns, the quartermaster is needed to bring up the food and clothes for us because where we are going there isn’t a hell of a lot to steal. Every last damn man in the mess hall, even the one who boils the water to keep us from getting the GI shits, has a job to do.

Each man must think not only of himself, but think of his buddy fighting alongside him. We don’t want yellow cowards in the army. They should be killed off like flies. If not, they will go back home after the war, goddamn cowards, and breed more cowards. The brave men will breed more brave men. Kill off the goddamn cowards and we’ll have a nation of brave men.

One of the bravest men I saw in the African campaign was on a telegraph pole in the midst of furious fire while we were moving toward Tunis. I stopped and asked him what the hell he was doing up there. He answered, 'Fixing the wire, sir.’ 'Isn’t it a little unhealthy up there right now?’ I asked. 'Yes sir, but this goddamn wire has got to be fixed.’ I asked, 'Don’t those planes strafing the road bother you?’ And he answered, 'No sir, but you sure as hell do.’ Now, there was a real soldier. A real man. A man who devoted all he had to his duty, no matter how great the odds, no matter how seemingly insignificant his duty appeared at the time.

And you should have seen the trucks on the road to Gabès. Those drivers were magnificent. All day and all night they crawled along those son-of-a-bitch roads, never stopping, never deviating from their course with shells bursting all around them. Many of the men drove over 40 consecutive hours. We got through on good old American guts. These were not combat men. But they were soldiers with a job to do. They were part of a team. Without them the fight would have been lost.

Sure, we all want to go home. We want to get this war over with. But you can’t win a war lying down. The quickest way to get it over with is to get the bastards who started it. We want to get the hell over there and clean the goddamn thing up, and then get at those purple-pissing Japs. The quicker they are whipped, the quicker we go home. The shortest way home is through Berlin and Tokyo. So keep moving. And when we get to Berlin, I am personally going to shoot that paper-hanging son-of-a-bitch Hitler.

When a man is lying in a shell hole, if he just stays there all day, a Boche will get him eventually. The hell with that. My men don’t dig foxholes. Foxholes only slow up an offensive. Keep moving. We’ll win this war, but we’ll win it only by fighting and showing the Germans that we’ve got more guts than they have or ever will have. We’re not just going to shoot the bastards, we’re going to rip out their living goddamned guts and use them to grease the treads of our tanks. We’re going to murder those lousy Hun cocksuckers by the bushel-fucking-basket.

Some of you men are wondering whether or not you’ll chicken out under fire. Don’t worry about it. I can assure you that you’ll all do your duty. War is a bloody business, a killing business. The Nazis are the enemy. Wade into them, spill their blood or they will spill yours. Shoot them in the guts. Rip open their belly. When shells are hitting all around you and you wipe the dirt from your face and you realize that it’s not dirt, it’s the blood and gut of what was once your best friend, you’ll know what to do.

I don’t want any messages saying 'I’m holding my position.’ We’re not holding a goddamned thing. We’re advancing constantly and we’re not interested in holding anything except the enemy’s balls. We’re going to hold him by his balls and we’re going to kick him in the ass; twist his balls and kick the living shit out of him all the time. Our plan of operation is to advance and keep on advancing. We’re going to go through the enemy like shit through a tinhorn.

There will be some complaints that we’re pushing our people too hard. I don’t give a damn about such complaints. I believe that an ounce of sweat will save a gallon of blood. The harder we push, the more Germans we kill. The more Germans we kill, the fewer of our men will be killed. Pushing harder means fewer casualties. I want you all to remember that. My men don’t surrender. I don’t want to hear of any soldier under my command being captured unless he is hit. Even if you are hit, you can still fight. That’s not just bullshit either. I want men like the lieutenant in Libya who, with a Luger against his chest, swept aside the gun with his hand, jerked his helmet off with the other and busted the hell out of the Boche with the helmet. Then he picked up the gun and he killed another German. All this time the man had a bullet through his lung. That’s a man for you!

Don’t forget, you don’t know I’m here at all. No word of that fact is to be mentioned in any letters. The world is not supposed to know what the hell they did with me. I’m not supposed to be commanding this army. I’m not even supposed to be in England. Let the first bastards to find out be the goddamned Germans. Some day, I want them to rise up on their piss-soaked hind legs and howl 'Ach! It’s the goddamned Third Army and that son-of-a-bitch Patton again!’

Then there’s one thing you men will be able to say when this war is over and you get back home. Thirty years from now when you’re sitting by your fireside with your grandson on your knee and he asks, 'What did you do in the great World War Two?’ You won’t have to cough and say, 'Well, your granddaddy shoveled shit in Louisiana.’ No sir, you can look him straight in the eye and say 'Son, your granddaddy rode with the great Third Army and a son-of-a-goddamned-bitch named George Patton!’

All right, you sons of bitches. You know how I feel. I’ll be proud to lead you wonderful guys in battle anytime, anywhere. That’s all.