Society

Your Greatest Piece Of Art

Emily and I went to the LA Art Show this past weekend. The show was 200,000 square feet of eclectic paintings, sculptures, mixed media pieces, and live performance pieces, both foreign and local, traditional and contemporary.

In general, I was pretty impressed with the art. Of course, there were a number of how the fuck did this get here pieces, but overall it seemed like the caliber of art was high.

Art. What is art? It’s one of those super-vague, overly subjective questions that can bring forth answers akin to nails on a chalkboard.

Perhaps What is art? is not the right question. Perhaps the real question is, What is the purpose of art?

Art, if I may pontificate, is meant to elicit a response. The viewer should, in some form, connect with the art, and as a result, a feeling or a thought should come forth. If I look at a painting and think, I have no idea what this is, then the painting isn’t for me.

I bring all this up because there was one piece that elicited such a response, so much so that I’m still thinking about it now and, in fact, am writing about it in this very blog post.

Here it is:

Jean-Michel Basquiat

Jean-Michel Basquiat

Basquiat. What can I say about this man that hasn’t been said already. His art transcended. He brought a new perspective and unique style to the world in a time where the New York scene was bubbling with the fullness of punk rock and the infant stages of Hip-hop. He dated Madonna before she became Madonna. He left this world too soon.

Basquiat. Yeah, his art was great, but look at his life. He was a slave to his addiction. As singular and one-of-a-kind as he was as an artist, he was also yet another heroin addict.

I have to say, that’s pretty weak.

When we think about art, hardly do we ever solely focus on the art, but instead we also view the artist with a watchful eye. It’s as if the artist is just as much a part of the art as the canvas and oil. There should be some congruence between the art and the artist’s lifestyle, shouldn’t there?

So what do I make of Basquiat? Yes, his art was awesome, but his life kind of sucked. Being addicted to heroin sounds pretty god-awful to me. Reading a bit on his personal history, his childhood and adolescence was full of turmoil and strife.

Should I be inspired by Basquiat, for all the timeless pieces he created, or should I look upon him with sorrow, wondering what could have been had he been able to conquer his demons?

And this leads me to my actual thought: For any creative person out there, the greatest piece of art should be life itself. If the art is badass, then the life should be badass as well. What’s the point of creating the next Mona Lisa or composing the next Bohemian Rhapsody if life sucks? At the end of the day, where did all the great art lead to for Basquiat, or Kurt Cobain, or Amy Winehouse?

Don’t get me wrong, I still find Basquiat’s art to be invaluable, but he’ll never be someone that truly inspires me, because he couldn’t figure out how to compose the most important piece: life.

It’s just a thought. Fucking art.

 

Chris.

I Can’t

Two words.

When you really think about it, we are the killers of our own dreams.

For a lot of us, if we’re asked the question, Are you doing exactly what you want to be doing with your life?, the answer is some version of No.

And for most of us, the reason is simple – It’s your own fault.

Think about this: how many times in the past week have you said or thought to yourself, I can’t? It might have been about something small like, “I can’t go out tonight because I have work tomorrow morning,” or “I can’t go over and talk to that girl because she’ll reject me.” You may have also said it for grander issues like, “I can’t quit my crap job because I’m in too much debt,” or “I can’t come out of the closet because my family will disown me.”

We get into this mode where we trick ourselves into thinking that outside circumstances are preventing us from doing and becoming what we want, but really we’re the ones blocking ourselves.

Look, I’m not above this either; I do this to myself just as much as everyone else. I can’t. I can’t. There’s too much goddamn I can’t in my life.

If you’re reading this, do us all a favor: the next time you say I can’t to something, check yourself for a second. Really ask yourself what you can and can’t do.

I’ll try to do the same.

 

Chris.

We’re All Sensitive People

Well, nobody’s perfect. As much as every guy tries to be James Bond or Don Draper, the truth is that the overwhelming majority of us fall woefully short.

What am I talking about? Of course, I’m talking about microaggressions. If you don’t know, here’s the definition:

Microaggressions are the everyday verbal, nonverbal, and environmental slights, snubs, or insults, whether intentional or unintentional, that communicate hostile, derogatory, or negative messages to target persons based solely upon their marginalized group membership.

The classic microaggression that I’ve encountered in my life is the classic Where are you from? question. People have asked me that and I’ve responded with Los Angeles only to see utter disappointment in their faces when I don’t tell them that I’m from the Ching-Chong Orient. Sorry, fellas.

But what I really want to comment on is how everything is a microaggression nowadays. You really can’t say anything in the workplace anymore without fear of someone being offended by what you say.

This year, our company holiday party is being held at a Mexican restaurant. The holiday committee decided to make flyers for the party, which included silhouettes of people wearing sombreros, to which some people said, Nope, can’t do that. Microaggression.

I guess if you really think about it, I can see someone being offended by it. But that’s the thing; since when did it become necessary to really sit down and decide if anyone can be offended by the slightest detail of a party flyer?

A few months ago, our team in the office went out to lunch. We chose a nearby Korean restaurant. One female coworker ordered the oxtail soup. When her soup was placed on the table, she started laughing at her entree because it smelled funny. For a moment, I took her amusement as a mockery of my ethnic background and culture. I don’t hit women (I don’t hit anyone, for that matter) but I knocked her out, in my mind.

What I wonder is, would I have even flinched at all if we didn’t live in a world that catered to every sensitive soul? Have we as a society been conditioned to interpret anything and everything as a slight? Are we teaching future generations to take every comment as throwing shade at someone? Are we soft?

In reality, that hostility I felt towards my coworker lasted about 30 seconds. Why? Because I didn’t dwell on it, and that’s what may the problem with everything. If the ignoramous that asks me Where I’m from from is too lazy and dumb to know the difference between Koreans, Chinese, Taiwanese, or American-born Asians, then why trip over anything he/she says?

I get being sensitive to others, but what we really can control is our emotions and reactions. If we all became a little less reactionary to every little word spoken about us, then perhaps society wouldn’t be caught in this web of microaggressions.

But we all know that’s not happening. So tread lightly people, because we’re all sensitive nowadays.

 

Chris.

Hanging On By A Thread

Back in the year 2000, I was a senior in high school. The year consisted mostly of college applications, goofing around in class, and playing sports. Any pressure of doing well in school was alleviated; the work, or damage, was already done, so it was left up to the college gods to determine my fate, as it were. I had a good time.

A big reason for why my senior year was enjoyable was my friends. There was about seven of us that did pretty much everything together. We’d play basketball, go bowling, go to the movies, and hang out on the weekends, and during school we would be in the same classes and have lunch and breaks together. There was a real sense of camaraderie and brotherhood, and though college was on the horizon where our paths would diverge, we felt like the bonds that we created during our formative adolescent years would carry our friendships through a lifetime of different experiences.

Today, I am still friends with only one of those high school guys.

It’s an all too familiar story that for the most part all of us can relate to – losing touch with high school friends. But it’s not just friends from back in high school. The truth is, no matter what stage of life we’re talking about, the friends we make and have can and will likely fall by the wayside. But why is that? Are having our lives go in different directions the reason for this? Is it because people change and are no longer the same version of themselves as they were at a particular time?

I think those are all valid explanations, but the one I believe in the most is this: friendships are fragile, and oftentimes a single instance can break them beyond repair.

It’s not as if I had a huge falling out with my high school friends. That was a case of time growing people apart. But let’s look at the friends that we have amassed in our lifetimes, and more specifically, within the last five to ten years. It could be a comment someone said, or what someone did or didn’t do in a certain situation, but little moments in time can have damaging effects on friendships. Maybe a one-time friend made an offensive comment or perhaps someone left us high and dry in a time of need; whatever the case may be, people are quick to bail on friendships.

It’s a combination of things, I suppose. As we get older, our personal thresholds for bullshit decrease. We become more set in our ways and oftentimes less compromising on certain principles. Our time becomes more valuable and in turn we become more selective on whom we choose to spend our time with. Whatever the reason may be, all of our friendships, no matter how close or strong they may seem at the moment, are all hanging by a thread. And the thread can break at any time.

I don’t write all this to paint a grim picture of humanity (even though I tend to be a misanthrope). I write this to point out that we should appreciate the people we call friends today. It’s human nature to take people for granted, so while we are in the good graces of those we call friends and vice versa, let’s do all we can to stay friends.

 

Chris.

New Coworkers Are Awful

Am I a good person? Clearly, I am not.

I question people who don’t question themselves. How can anyone be so sure of his quality as a human being? Oftentimes I find that those that can make such bold proclamations like I’m a good mom, or I’m definitely capable of getting the job done are the exact opposite of what they’re saying.

I don’t ever want to hang out with someone who never doubts himself, someone who lacks the introspection to question how good of a person he really is.

Just as I say these things, I must admit – doubting myself sucks. Don’t get me wrong, I want to be a good person. I mean, don’t we all want to be loved? Isn’t that the whole point of all this?

The other day, I met a new coworker. Let’s just call her Gina (either pronunciation, conventional or the one from The 40-Year Old Virgin, works here). She’s a woman who, from the looks of her, is in her early forties. In an office where the standard energy level of the employees is at a steady 4 out of 10, she bursts onto the scene at level 9. Her smile is about as fake as Giada de Laurentiis’s, made of plastic, just like Vicki of Small Wonder fame.

That’s all I needed to know right there. She hasn’t even said a word yet. She could be Mother Theresa reincarnated. Not a fan already.

She says Hi, nice to meet you! as if I’m a mentally disabled child – slow, loud, and deliberate. Is this a joke? Is she just fucking with me? I want to tell her to STFU, I honestly do, but of course, all I can muster up is the standard level 4 Oh hey, it’s nice to meet you. Welcome. I can feel my vagina growing. And of course, Gina continues to drone about how excited she is to be here and how she’s so looking forward to working with everyone here. Bitch, please. Your bullshit smells worse than my farts. Actually, they don’t; my farts smell really bad.

I go home that day and I think about this brief exchange. This woman never did anything to me. In fact, she was nothing but polite when we met.

So why do I hate her so goddamn much?

Clearly, I have issues. I must be a horrible person. As time goes on, my inner-misanthrope seems to grow stronger and stronger. Instead of seeing the good, I am subconsciously trying to find any reason to dislike anyone I meet. Perhaps this is indicative of my own self-loathing ways.

But then, during the next day of work, another coworker comes by and says, That new girl Gina, what’s her deal? A-ha! So she is hate-able. Okay, I am not alone. Phew.

I think, to a degree, everyone wants to be likable. Hell, I don’t want to be anyone’s Gina. I don’t want to be the subject of anyone’s hatred just from a mere glance.

At the same time, I can’t control how other people feel. As Trent told Mikey in the diner (Swingers reference), I don’t like some people, and some people don’t like me. Come to think of it, I’m sure that I am someone’s Gina.

So what’s the conclusion? I guess it’s that Haters’ gonna hate. Yes, it’s a bit corrosive to the soul to hate people, period, let alone for unjustified reasons. But hey, drinking is corrosive to the liver, and yet, I still drink beer because it tastes so good.

Trust me, you wouldn’t like Gina either.

 

Chris.

Football, I Just Can’t Quit You

It’s been two weeks since my last blog post.

I’d love to say that I’ve been busy feeding the poor, saving the manatees, or doing 10,000 push-ups – pretty much anything productive.

The truth is, I haven’t done a damn thing besides watch football.

Hey, I can look at things objectively – spending an entire weekend watching football is about as ridiculous as waiting in line for the premiere of a Harry Potter movie in full-on Ron Weasley cosplay as an adult (and no, I have not done that). I know Emily loves my obsession with football. When she’s saying something to me during a game and I don’t even turn my face away from the TV to look into her eyes, she thinks I’m the biggest loser ever. And I am.

Let’s think about it – football is a sport marketed as being masculine and full of bravado yet straight males all over the country completely ignore their beautiful girlfriends and wives to watch grown men, in essence, wrestle each other over a ball.

In a weird twist, comic book nerds think I’m such a loser for watching gratuitous amounts of football, because surely collecting mint condition action figures and obscure limited edition issues only released in Japan is a way better use of time.

I get absolutely nothing done when football’s on TV. I’ll move a load of laundry from the washer to the dryer and let it dry only to have it sit in my dryer for the whole weekend. I’ll hold in my piss until I can’t anymore because I don’t want to miss a play. My exercise for the day is getting into my car and driving to get carne asada burritos. I won’t shave at all so by Sunday night I’ll have the classic ironicly-thin Asian man mustache. I know, I know, I’ll stop – the ladies are getting too hot and bothered. Don’t want to get y’all too aroused – I am taken, after all.

Look, I know it’s dumb, but like Jake Gyllenhall famously said, I wish I knew how to quit you, football.

Hell, I’m watching a show about football right now as I write this blog post. This is sick. I’m a sick person. Then again, I’ve probably already established that by now, haven’t I.

This kind of symbolizes what’s going on in society today. As individuals, we have the potential to accomplish quite a bit, but what do we do instead? Watch someone else accomplish things on TV.

I’ve made up my mind – I’m going to turn this damn TV off.

After these highlights.

Chris.