How to Best Handle Being a Homeless Person.

[UPDATE: This has been reprinted at VICE, you can see that and a photo of me on NY1 here.]

Let me preface this by saying, I’ve been transitory most of my life, but prior to today I haven’t actually been homeless. I never went through a train-hopping phase, squatted in a hovel, slept in parks (intentionally) or did whatever it is that the kids are doing now. I have however packed up my things every couple of months, or had to move every few years; that’s the double-edged sword of having a father in the military. You get to travel and see the world, but you’re left with an inability to truly get close to anyone, a sense of restlessness, and are constantly trying to find a place that you can truly call home.

Which is why being forcibly evacuated from my apartment this morning was really fucking awesome. I woke up to the sound of both NYPD and FDNY knocking on my bedroom door. I didn’t respond because I thought it was my super, I haven’t paid my rent yet (whoops!), and I think anything before 9AM is an ungodly hour.

It wasn’t until I had my roommate forcibly shake me awake that I realized something was going on. Let me tell you, if the dude you’re living with Ausbergers is telling that something is going down, you listen. So I hopped in the shower, threw on the nearest, cleanest t-shirt and put a small go-bag of my toothbrush, laptop, cell phone and chargers, and then proceeded to have one of the shittiest days of my life. And because I like paying things forward, and I possibly can’t accept any more bad karma in my life right now– I’m gonna give you some tips on how to navigate your way out of this and/or help avoid falling into my current situation which is squatting on a couch in Bushwick.

Get renter’s insurance. It’s like $35 dollars a month (the equivalent of three packs of cigarettes, Smokey), and you’ll be covered up to several thousand dollars which is probably more than the sum estimated value of all of your possessions. They’re not going to ask if you were apartment is falling into a sinkhole, and if they do. Just lie. Just like I probably will when I tell my claims adjustor that I yes, I do have flat screen TVs’, a waterbed and a collection of rare, exotic fish.

Everyone thinks about what they would grab if they’re building was on fire, but it’s another thing entirely when you’re being told by NYPD Community Affairs that you have thirty minutes to grab what is “essential” (the hell does that mean anyway, essential?), and that you might be displaced anymore from 3, 5, 7 days, possibly a month, who knows. Don’t be a dummy and have all of your documents like your passport, birth certificate, bank statements etc. scattered all over apartment. Get yourself a safe box, even if it’s a shoebox underneath your bed and consolidate your stuff in one easily accessible and unforgettable spot. You won’t regret it. Because otherwise, you’re gonna be all shakey and feel like you’re in fucked up version of Supermarket Sweep, trying to stuff as many things that “may need” into as many suitcases that you can carry with you. For example, I have no socks and I left my makeup bag in my apartment. Sorry coworkers, shit is gonna get real in the next week or so.

Take the Red Cross swag bag with deodorant and toothpaste. Resist the urge to slit your wrists with the tiny Bic razor that they also gave you. Eat as many shortbread cookies and cheesey crackers that you possibly can because you may not know where your next meal is coming from. In fact, just store some extras in your mouth for later. This is some FEMA type of lunacy that you’re dealing with, so just go with it.

Yes, you will be transporting all of your worldly possessions with you. Yes, you will be caught in a hail storm on the way to the train. These things just happen. Sorry.

Because I’m a masochist, I spent an hour at work listening to Tom Petty’s “Refugee” on repeat at my desk until I was cry-laughing at my predicament. It’s fine; it’s better to let those feelings out now while you’re dealing with the situation at hand instead of repressing them until you’re twenty years down the line, drunk and are lashing out at everyone you care about at your daughter’s bat-mitzvah and no one knows how to deal with you.

Your neighbors will help you carry your bags to the train. The guys at your bodega will usually sympathize with your bad luck, and hand you a beer from the fridge. Your friends do love you, and will let you crash in their apartment.

Oh, and if anyone says “These things happen for a reason”, I give you full license to punch them in the nose. Seriously, fuck those guys.


Carmichael Collective.

This one’s going to be a quickie, since I’m actually trying to adhere by a bedtime (read: anytime before 3AM, ideally in the 1:30-2:30 window if I can help it). So far– well, it’s 1:25AM right now. Things are not looking good.

This is all a part of me slowly trying to do things that are healthier for me: sleeping more, eating less and at the same making dietary changes (no soda, no energy drinks, limiting one’s coffee and alcohol intake, and predominantly chicken and fish when it comes to ingesting meat). I’ve noticed that I’ve gotten increasingly cranky lately. This could be a side effect of “the toxins” leaving my body, or rather my body realizing that I’m depriving it of all the things it loves and enjoys. Thank god, I still smoke.

That being said, Carmichael Collective is an ongoing project from Carmichael Lynch, a creative agency in Minneapolis who first caught my eye with their “Bug Memorials“. Much along the same lines is their project “Urban Plant Tags”.

Urban Plant Tags is a humorous approach to common urban sights such as a park bench, mail box or a street lamp. By creating and placing comically over-sized plant tags detailing care of and treatment of, conditions where each grows best, the lighting it needs, and the space it occupies, these tags allow the viewer to humorously engage with an urban environment that they may have otherwise taken for granted or thought little of prior to the project. And hey, bonus! You now know how to keep a fire hydrant alive.

Some of my favorites:

And it’s 1:47. Made it. Should be in bed by 2AM.

James Mollison.

“Photography is this key into experiencing the world”. – James Mollison

British photographer, James Mollison doesn’t simply take portraits– rather, he through his series of images engages the global world around him in a public debate over a variety of different topics, whether it is famine in Ethiopia, the conditions of cocoa farmers in Côte d’Ivoire, and where it is that children sleep worldwide.

Mollison’s images play with the idea of both group and individual identities, not only with his subject matter, but also in the typological way that he presents his work, most often collected in book form or grouped together much like one would store entomological samples. Which given his background in documentary photography isn’t a much of a surprise.

His series “Where Children Sleep” is both a photo essay on the diverse sleeping arrangements of children around the world, but also a remarkably effective campaign that addresses children’s rights.

On an aesthetic level, here are some of my favorites. Enjoy:

Dong, 9, Yunnan, China

Jaime, 9, New York, USA

Ahkohxet, 8, Amazonia, Brazil

Li, 10, Beijing, China

[Author’s Note: Full Disclosure: My room(s) growing up looked a lot like this as a kid. And still kind of does, come to think of it.]

Lamine, 12, Bounkiling village, Senegal

Joey, 11, Kentucky, USA

This room terrifies me btw.

For additional infomration, be sure to check out Mollison’s site here.

Jenny Morgan.

I like Jenny Morgan. This statement, is based on nothing other than intuition and a visceral reaction to both her artwork and her biography. Seeing familiar galleries in both New York, and Colorado (What up Pirate Gallery?) make me feel like Morgan’s another hometown gal, that I could have bumped into had we both stayed there. More so, after I’ve found her Facebook profile and realized that we do have a number of friends in common*.

That being said, Morgan is beautfully skilled with oils. Her hyper-realistic paintings while vibrantly colored have a delicate translucent quality to them, especially in the hands of her subjects. The intentional blurring with what appears to be Turpenoid and a rag, obscuring and sometimes darkening of their of their appendages, almost suggests that a deconstruction of the figure that she’s depicting, and that their hands might not be their own. This coupled with anxious, upset expressions of the sitters creates an overall unsettling (and exhilirating) feeling while viewing Morgan’s work. The audience is left wondering whether or not they’re looking at ghosts, or of someone being haunted.

“We Are All Setting Suns”, (2011).
Oil on canvas
35 x 29 in

“Clean”, (2010).
Oil on canvas
31 x 24 in

“New Territory”, (2009).
Oil on canvas
31 x 24 in

Maybe Morgan’s work resonates with me so much on a certain level because of my last kitchen accident. Full Disclosure: I cut my hand open two weeks ago with a serrated knife, and while it is in the process of healing, the wound hasn’t fully closed yet, which for the most part means that my left hand is bandaged for the most part, and I am relearning the simplest of tasks with my less dominant hand, which is really fucking strange because half the time it doesn’t feel like a part of my body.

For more, check out Jenny’s website here.

* Because that’s not creepy, at all.

Bobby Neel Adams.

Sometimes I feel that everyone I post about lives here in New York*. Adams is no exception to that. After leaving Black Mountain, North Carolina and shoring up such in hippie-friendly enclaves such as Vermont and San Francisco, Adams now currently resides in New York. I was initially attracted to his “AgeMaps” series, but after examining this body of work — it’s worth noting it’s informed and revolves around not only a transformation of the body by “age and circumstance”, but also the division of self and subsequently the introduction of similar but  somehow significantly different elements, whether it be an older version of oneself or a long-term lover, to make a new composite.

Some of my favorites, from the AgeMaps Series:

And from his “Couples “series, which for me parellels the work that  Genesis P-Orridge and his deceased partner’s (Lady Jaye) did with their performance piece Pandrogyne:

“Bernadette & Bob”.

“Tim & Suzanne”.

* I, myself moved to New York three years ago for art, but somehow serendipitously** switched paths. Luckily, I still work in a creative field for an “up-and-coming youth-oriented media empire” that’s been around for over a decade.
** I’m romanticizing this because I’m actually at somewhat decent spot in my life right now. Ask me in person or e-mail me if you want to hear the no-bullshit version that covers all of the nights I spent crying, drinking too much, working at shitty jobs with terrible bosses without a shoulder to lean on, but I stuck it out because I’m too damn stubborn and spiteful to give up. Also I’m Korean, and there’s one thing my people are good at is revenge***. If you tell me I can’t do something, I’m gonna do it, and I’m gonna succeed and rub your face in it because I am terrible person and a sore winner.
*** Have you not seen our movies? Because damn, look at Old Boy.

Wayne White.

Wayne White is an American artist and cartoonist and best known for his illustrations in the New York Times and the Village Voice. What’s more is that he’s also responsible for the designing some of the puppets on Pee Wee’s Playhouse and its set.

White’s current passion are his word paintings. He takes cheaply-made, mass-produced lithographs the likes of which are found in thrift and secondhand stores and paints cheeky words and phrases over them in stylized 3D lettering drawing comparisons Edward Ruscha.

Some of my favorites:

“Aw Cmon”.

“Boo Fuckin Hoo”.

“Maybe Now I’ll Get the Respect I So Richly Deserve”.

“So, It Looks Like You Just Guessed With This One”.

For more check out White’s website here.

It’s the Middle of December, and I Haven’t Post Isht, Isht.

Trying to get back into things over here at Art Brut(e) central. Does anyone know if WordPress has queue capabilities. Sometimes I write a bunch of posts at once, and want to post them all– but I really should be spacing things a little further apart (not three months apart, but you get get my drift). But I digress.

Lot of things have happened since my last post. Still kind of loving my job. If you ask nicely, I might tell you what it is I do and where– but I’ve been keeping kind of mum since I’m still so new. And really, I come from an arts background, but my job requires me to be technically proficient, and I’m ever so slightly paranoid enough where I constantly feel that they’re going to find out. (But that’s how I feel about every job to be honest.) Other than working 45+ hours a week, I’ve done the following:

  • Replaced my wallet.
    Kind of a biggie for me. Remember when a crackhead stole my wallet in May? And I replaced it in August only to lose it only a few weeks after? Well, I’ve been using my passport as a wallet in the interim, that is until I got my Colorado ID back, which I did in November. So between November I’ve been rubber-banding my driver’s license, cash, debit card, and metrocard together. NOTHING BUT CLASS HERE, AM I RIGHT? Last week, I upgraded to an envelope, and after I lost my debit card (again) after dinner at Life Cafe– I got my shit together long enough to get a temporary ATM card, and just buy a simple wallet at a dollar store in Greenpoint. I don’t even know why it took me that long. Priorities. / kanyeshrug
  • Worked The Creators Project.
  • Had a rockstar flirt with me.
  • Went back to Colorado for a week.
  • Made new bartender friends.
  • Did a lot of bad karaoke.

Still trying to get into the groove of a new job, other than seeing a movie now and then, I’ve sort of let art fall by the wayside, both in its creating and viewing aspects. Well, I’m amending that. I think starting with the Carsten Höller exhbit at the New Museum, and the Jim Henson one at the Museum of the Moving Image.

But enough of me gabbing. Here’s some bonerjams for you to chew on. What I’ve been listening to lately:

Twin Sister’s “Kimmi in a Rice Field”.
As moody and atmospheric as the song is, I think I like the video even more.  The video is a perfect blend of macabre fairy tale (A Tale of Two Sisters perhaps? Ironic given the band’s name), and asian art-school film. The ghoul that envelopes frontwoman Andrea Estella looks like something out of Japanese horror schlock-fest Hausu creating an end product that’s both creepy and beautiful.

Ninajsonik’s “Somebody Gonna Get Pregnant”.
Zak and I sing this to each other in the office. TRUE STORY.

2NE1’s “I Am the Best”.
Probably my current favorite K-pop group at the moment. Unlike Girls Generation, it seems that all of the members have their own personalities, and styles intact.  And jesus, look at their studded jackets and chains, and hair horns from 2:25. Everything is on point, and really could someone just give me a leather jacket of my own already? God. Side Note: fans of NE1 are called “Black Jacks”, amazing.

Little Dragon’s “Brush the Heat”.
This little psychedelic jam looks like something that could’ve come from the bulk of my music video watching days of the late 90s, back when all I had was “The Box” and MTV. What’s even cooler still is that Yukimi Nagano’s father, artist Yusuke Nagano and his creative partner OLGA created all of the trippy illustrations showing that creativity does indeed run in the family.

Phantogram’s “When I’m Small”.

Nobody Beats the Drums’s “I’ve Got Some Blood on My Hands”.
Dirty electro beats? Check. An organ? Check. A hot but deranged redhead ready to render and fillet you in the kitchen? Check, check and check.

Alice Cooper’s “You and I”.
I’m a secret softy, shut it. Also, young Alice Cooper? Totally bangable.