The town I grew up in was surrounded by a river. No matter which road you took leaving town you had to cross it. The ancient, muddy Big Sioux River. Every spring and sometimes in the summer it would rage and flood until it felt like the town was under siege. No one could leave and no one could enter until it subsided.
Coming home from the bar one night, my grandfather missed the bridge. He was going almost one hundred miles an hour when his ‘58 Chevy jumped the river, crashing into the opposite bank. He was decapitated. His body impaled by the steering column. They never did find his head.
Strangely enough, some twenty years earlier while fishing in that same river, he reeled in the top part of a human skull. He took it to the Sheriff who sent it off to a lab in the city. They tested it and found that it was over 200 hundred years old and most likely Native American. The lab returned the skull to the Sheriff and he gave it back to my grandfather.
Grandfather kept the skull in the basement. He’d take it out and show it to you if he had a couple beers in him. I held it in my hands after he died. I wondered if it was somehow his skull and time was a strange circle.
I was ten when I saw my first dead body. It was on the bank of that same river, off a different road. Some guy wrecked his motorcycle in the night. His body lay next to the river under a blue tarp the cops had thrown over him. My dad pulled the truck over on the other side of the bridge and we walked to where the cops were. We leaned over the rail of the bridge right over the tarp as one of the cops pulled it off. A heavyset dude lay there, almost like he was asleep. But he was so white it was startling. He was wearing an Earl Campbell football jersey, the same kind Cristopher Cross wore in his music video for his mega 1980 hit “Sailing.”
When I was in college, I woke up one morning after a long night of debauchery and someone had covered me up with a blue tarp. I’d passed out in the back yard. When I first opened my eyes I didn’t know what the hell was going on. The world was on fire in blue. I thought I was dead under a tarp like that guy I’d seen when I was a kid. I swear I could actually hear the words to that Christopher Cross song.
“Well, it’s not far down to paradise, at least it’s not for me
And if the wind is right you can sail away and find tranquility”
When I was 14 my best friend and I drove a couple of girls down to the river and parked a hundred yards from where I’d seen the dead guy in the Earl Campbell jersey. My buddy and his girl took off with a 6-pack to build a fire in a clearing. I just kinda sat there as I hadn’t been alone with a girl since I was a little kid. I couldn’t think of anything to say so I told her about the body I’d seen when I was a young. She wanted to see where. I chugged the rest of my beer and grabbed a couple fresh ones, pointing out the way.
She laughed and dashed off and I dizzily chased her. She was pretty, far too pretty for me. I caught up with her by the bridge and told her the body had been on the other side. She grabbed a beer from me and cracked it open, accidentally spraying herself. She squealed like the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen. I took off my t-shirt. She wiped her face with it, then ran off under the bridge to the other side.
She was stopped by a tangle of white gardenia plants all abloom. “This is the spot,” I said. “His family must have planted them,” she said, half shocked and half sad. I instinctively reached out to comfort her and she grabbed my face with both hands and kissed me full on the mouth. I almost passed out from the excitement and the beer and the running and the perfume and the gardenias and the death.
Three years later she shot herself in the heart with a 12-gauge shotgun. She was pregnant. It wasn’t mine. We’d broken up more than a year before.
It didn’t make any goddamn sense. After I heard about it, I got in my car and drove. I wanted to get the fuck out of that stupid little town. It had been raining for three days and the river had flooded. So I pulled over and watched it. The water was raging in wild white cap torrents and I wondered if the bridge would hold.
“Alright, class,” The teacher spoke up,
grabbing everyone’s attention. “Hence today is Valentine’s Day, I thought I’d
give you all a short, small quiz!”
The announcement was met with a collective
“It’s not that kind of quiz.” The teacher
began handing out papers, a smile on their face. “It’s about love and even
though it won’t get graded, try to answer the question seriously, don’t joke
He spent about half of his most recent blog post complaining about the upcoming rainy season (he apparently really really really hates it) and is spending his off-day playing games and playing games and playing games.
If one believes in dramatic irony, it is that thoughtlessness in regards to each other (and possibly Sansa’s anvilicious “that could never be” when thinking about seeing [Jon] again) that gives them the best chances of being the first (if not only) Starks to reunite.
I’ve been pretty busy lately working on this ambitious piece, and I’m excited to be able to finally reveal it.
The concept all came from the client, so I can’t take credit (!), but it was a fantastic idea to imagine that all these characters from different 80s movies could be somehow part of the same universe and literally cross paths at the same moment in time. All of the characters I’ve added were at the client’s request, and while technically Ghost and Gremlins 2 are from 1990 (!), they still feel like 80s movies, and must have been conceived (and probably also filmed) before the decade was out.
Naturally, creating something like this took many long hours, initially just in terms of seeking appropriate reference, both for the background, and then for all the characters themselves. In fact it took several days to plan before I’d even begun to paint anything, and even then, it evolved somewhat along the way. The majority of billboards were replaced from the main original background reference which was very late 70s, in order to all add to the 80s feel.
Getting to add a bonus Roger Moore and Grace Jones, paying homage to Dan Gouzee’s classic ‘A View to a Kill’ poster was especially fun. In fact conceptually that was interesting too, because in a world full of movie characters, what actual movies could they go to see? Bond just seemed to work as a pop cultural phenomenon that could stand outside of that world. There are a couple of other movies referenced in there too – see if you can spot them.
This was a private commission, so I’m afraid no prints will be available. It has got me thinking though, it could be fun to paint other cities and characters. Right now I need to have a bit of a lie down though!
Massive thanks to my client Russell Piper for the commission and concept.
Requested. (Three) Who: Peter Parker Quote: “To the moon and back, remember?”
Peter had probably reread the text message from Tony about a hundred times before he actually responded. Chewing on his lip to the point where it was starting to bleed, he groaned. Looking up towards the setting sun, he felt his chest tighten. Swallowing, he squinted his eyes and pulled off his mask.
Shoving it between his thighs, he ruffled his hair and dialed [Y/N]’s number. Closing his eyes, he bit his lip, preparing to be the bearer of bad news, again.
“Peter! Hey, you.” It hurt Peter that she sounded so happy. “I was just about to change into that dress I bought on a whim. It’s really not me but I figured since you’re taking me to the opera, it would work.”
Peter sighed, “About that…..” He trailed off, not able to actually say the words.
[Y/N] sucked in air, “Or not.”
His jaw clenched at the sound of her tone. “[Y/N], I’m really sorry. I told Tony about this night and how much it meant to me to just have no interruptions but….”
“It’s okay, Peter.”
Shaking his head, he looked up at the sky that was now fading from blue to a pretty pink. “It’s not okay. It’s never okay. You were so excited, I, I really, I want to take you. But, I can’t.”
“We can take a rain-check, Parker. I promise, it’s okay.”
“Do you know how many rain-checks are on our list right now?” Peter asked, his brow raised. He hated and loved how understanding she was. For once, he wanted her to scream and yell at him for always cancelling but at the same time, he couldn’t imagine how his life would be if she were to ever leave him.
[Y/N] pondered for a second and chuckled, “A lot, but the world needs you.”
“Of course I need you but you’re a hero, Peter.” She sighed, “You save lives, it’s what you do. I can’t change who you are or what you do.”
“Sometimes I wish I didn’t.” He muttered.
“Hey, watch it, Spiderman.” [Y/N] said sharply. Sighing again, she murmured, “You saved mine…maybe not physically but mentally. I don’t know where I would be with out you.”
Throwing back his head, he alternately kicked his legs. What did he do to deserve her? Licking his lips, Peter breathed out. “I love you.”
“I love you too and don’t worry about tonight, Peter. I promise I’m not mad, I will never be mad. I might be a little sad but I’ll be alright.”
“I know, but it’s not fair to you. I get your hopes up and then last minute I cancel them. I just, I want, I don’t want to hold you back from happiness…..with all this stuff that’s happening lately, it’s making it a lot harder for us to spend time together and when we do spend time together it’s during school and that’s not the setting I want to be with you in-”
“-hey, hey, hey.” [Y/N] murmured, “To the moon and back, remember?”
Even though she couldn’t see it, Peter nodded. “Yeah, to the moon and back.” He repeated.
“I mean every bit of that. You’ll have to do a lot more than cancelling dates to get rid of me, Parker.”
Peter laughed, shaking his head. “Trust me, getting rid of you is the last thing I want to do.”
“Good, cause I’m here to stay.”
A silence fell over them for a second before [Y/N] spoke again.
“Alright, Spiderman. Go sling some webs and save the world. I’ll be all comfy and cozy in my bed.” Yawning, [Y/N] thought for a moment. “Why don’t you come by whenever you’re done, I’ll leave my window unlocked. I can’t promise I’ll be awake but I figure you’d be a lot more comfier than that large stuffed dog you got me at the carnival.”
Smiling, “I’ll be there.”
“Love you, spiderling.”
Rolling his eyes, “I love you too.” Hanging up the phone, he stared off into the sky, smiling to himself. Shaking his head, he threw on his mask again and headed in the direction Tony told him to go to.
And where have you been my darling young one? I’ve stumbled on the side of twelve misty mountains I’ve walked and I’ve crawled on six crooked highways I’ve stepped in the middle of seven sad forests I’ve been out in front of a dozen dead oceans I’ve been ten thousand miles in the mouth of a graveyard And it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard, and it’s a hard It’s a hard rain’s a-gonna fall
Oh, what did you see, my blue-eyed son? And what did you see, my darling young one? I saw a newborn baby with wild wolves all around it I saw a highway of diamonds with nobody on it I saw a black branch with blood that kept drippin’ I saw a room full of men with their hammers a-bleedin’ I saw a white ladder all covered with water I saw ten thousand talkers whose tongues were all broken I saw guns and sharp swords in the hands of young children And it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard, and it’s a hard It’s a hard rain’s a-gonna fall
And what did you hear, my blue-eyed son? And what did you hear, my darling young one? I heard the sound of a thunder that roared out a warnin’ I heard the roar of a wave that could drown the whole world I heard one hundred drummers whose hands were a-blazin’ I heard ten thousand whisperin’ and nobody listenin’ I heard one person starve, I heard many people laughin’ Heard the song of a poet who died in the gutter Heard the sound of a clown who cried in the alley And it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard And it’s a hard rain’s a-gonna fall
Oh, what did you meet my blue-eyed son? Who did you meet, my darling young one? I met a young child beside a dead pony I met a white man who walked a black dog I met a young woman whose body was burning I met a young girl, she gave me a rainbow I met one man who was wounded in love I met another man who was wounded in hatred And it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard And it’s a hard rain’s a-gonna fall
And what’ll you do now, my blue-eyed son? And what’ll you do now my darling young one? I’m a-goin’ back out ‘fore the rain starts a-fallin’ I’ll walk to the depths of the deepest black forest Where the people are a many and their hands are all empty Where the pellets of poison are flooding their waters Where the home in the valley meets the damp dirty prison And the executioner’s face is always well hidden Where hunger is ugly, where souls are forgotten Where black is the color, where none is the number And I’ll tell and speak it and think it and breathe it And reflect from the mountain so all souls can see it And I’ll stand on the ocean until I start sinkin’ But I’ll know my song well before I start singing And it’s a hard, it’s a hard, it’s a hard, and it’s a hard It’s a hard rain’s a-gonna fall