Turn them into makeshift frames for artwork!
Turn them into makeshift frames for artwork!
As of today, my new Twitter handle is @mickchrysalis. This puts the final nail in the Black Branch Moonlight/BlackBranchMC social media casket I’ve been using for years. I stopped feeling it long ago and kept with it out of habit, waiting to redo it with something that fit…better I suppose.
So where did this one come from?
One of the descriptors of this blog is, “Skulls.” It’s meant kind of tongue in cheek but kind of not. I get asked all the time, “What’s the deal with you and skulls?” The answer is a pretty simple one.
Basically, the skulls I have around and tattooed on me are a reminder of how short life is and that we can all go at any moment. Yes, that’s an old cliché, and sometimes clichés are hard to pay attention to because they are often so trite. So in my twisted psyche, it only makes sense to have this one ever present.
Interestingly, I didn’t get my first skull tattoo until 2009, which was right around when I fully grasped just how quickly life can be snatched away from the young without prejudice. Since then, I’ve been working on a piece ever so slowly on my lower left leg made up of multiple shulls that showcases my feelings. Part of what’s taking so long is wanting each skull to mean something. A few more than others, but they all have a connection to my past, present or hopes for the future.
Last weekend, I got my most visible tattoo to date, and, of course, it involves a skull. It’s much more than just a skull tatt though, it’s a symbolization of me taking part – and committing to – Project Semicolon. Their mission statement is as follows:
[Re-post from my Facebook dated 21 January 17]
I’m ashamed for not speaking up in a public forum until now, but have decided to do something about it, hopefully beginning the slow march toward a bit of personal redemption. Typically I keep my political leanings close to the vest, choosing not to engage with anyone other than my dearest friends about them. This evening, I have spent the past hour deleting lots of them from not only Facebook, but essentially my life. This includes members of my family, people I once considered best friends and a slew of acquaintances. I did it with a heavy heart and it wasn’t completed rashly.
The reason this was done is not at all because they voted for and continue to support Donald Trump – that was their right and I respect it. It was for the hate-filled rhetoric dripping from their pages today. Saying protesters should be beaten, that they should not be organizing in the first place, that this “anti-women agenda” talk is nothing more than nonsense by the Far-left, that wearing “pussy hats” somehow means they shouldn’t be taken seriously, when a man you defend and take serious was caught saying the vagina is where you need to grab women.
WHAT IN THE FUCK REALITY ARE YOU LIVING??
I’ll tell you the one I’m living in. I have expectant and recent mothers in my life with children who are absolutely terrified of the world where their babies are going to be raised. I have people close to me who are horrified that family members who have lived here for decades are going to be deported. I see stories that the US Border Patrol and Customs is denying entry to this country founded on freedom, because they intended to non-violently march in support. I have friends of different races, genders, sexuality and religious beliefs scared their God-given rights are about to be trampled. I have friends not just coast to coast, but worldwide who are taking time out of their weekend to make their voices heard.
And those same friends in foreign lands? They want to know what the fuck is happening in my country.
In my country, white supremacists are celebrating the voting-in of Trump. Pharmaceutical companies are over the moon about the election results, with requests from people who now feel the need to go on anti-depressants through the roof. There is a man who is an admitted climate change denier and once said the Department of Energy should be eliminated preparing to head the organization. The vice president supports conversion therapy – which involves electroshock and castration – and also made the outrageous claim that smoking doesn’t kill people. His boss has invoked an executive order to remove a form a healthcare that technically could leave many citizens in precarious positions when it comes to continuing life-saving treatment they are currently receiving.
I am by no means claiming to be an expert on what Trump hopes to accomplish, what he can get away with and how he will proceed with a confusing and cloudy agenda. The fact is, the only thing I really consider myself an expert on is a singer who left his band in 1985 and finally came back to tour with them in 2007. Both of those events were under somewhat murky circumstances, and I’m ok with that. I’m not ok with the future of my life and that of my rightfully fearful friends from all walks-of-life to be so nebulous.
To those friends, let me openly say for the first time I AM WITH YOU. I am here for whatever you need, by your side both physically and spiritually. I’ve got your collective backs, am holding your hands and standing up for your rights. We are stronger united, open and honest. And those interested in putting forth or encouraging hate, misogyny and a having a racist bent can feel free to delete me from your friends and life if I haven’t done it to you already.
I’ve never really had a nice car. Well, maybe that one ’85 Camaro Z28 for a few weeks until I took it out for an accelerated spin down a winding road after a rainstorm and ended up flipping it, narrowly avoiding death…but that’s a story for another post. But no, having had ten cars (ten!) over a period that lasted less than a decade, there was never one that I could say, “Man…I really miss that car.” More often than not, it was, “Good riddance.”
Each one had some issue that was the then bane of my automobile owning existence. The ’83 Mustang GL, for some reason, was all metric underneath, and it leaked oil incessantly. The heat didn’t work in the ’86 Camaro Z28, there was no backseat, the T-tops leaked and the hatchback didn’t latch. The driver’s side door on the ’88 Monte Carlo LS wouldn’t latch (try that one going down I-95 at 75mph). The black Buick Century had a smashed in front end from a “slight accident” my then girlfriend got into. Three of the automatic windows in the silver Buick Century wouldn’t go down. The passenger window wouldn’t go down on the ’79 Camaro, and one of the spark plugs kept fouling out. And what the fuck is that garden hose knob doing under the hood of the ’76 Pontiac LeMans and what does it do?!!?
The relationship with most of them ended in spectacular fashion. Totaled the ’83 Mustang when some kids in a Camaro made an illegal turn into my lane. Flipped its replacement in the aforementioned fashion. Drilled the Monte Carlo LS into a fire hydrant, replaced the front end myself with an SS front end which confused everyone. The rear axle on the silver Buick Century simply collapsed as I backed out of a parking spot. I just raised my eyebrows, went back in my apartment and called it a day.
None of the cars were from the decade in which I was presently living, be it the mid-90s or early-00s. Since they were all so old they were always in need of some sort of repair. Most were sub-par; not a Mustang GT, a GL. Who needs a Monte Carlo SS when you can have the inferior LS? And Buick Grand National or even Regal? Nah…I’ll take a pair of the Century please.
Still…I always managed to get into trouble with them…
I can say with all certainty that some of the best times I’ve had was when the Philadelphia Film Festival was at it’s peak in the early-aughts. A week of trying to see as many films as humanly possible along with a handful of friends doing the same was a blast. 2002 through 2005 were the most memorable, for a variety of reasons.
It was like working another job; you get up in the morning, pack the essentials for the day and head to see the first film, usually around 11am. Three of the theaters are within a four block radius of one another in the Society Hill section of the city. A lucky day would be when that’s where all your films for the day were set. The challenge is when something is in West Philly or Center City and you’ve got to make like a bandit to get across town.
This one wasn’t really a “moving find” per se, since it’s been hanging on my wall since returning from the first time I went to Iceland in 2011. Jón Sæmundur Auðarson is an Icelandic artist who created the Dead project in 2003, nine years after he was diagnosed HIV positive. The message behind Dead is simple: live life to its fullest. More specifically: “He Who Fears Death Cannot Enjoy Life.”
I had seen locals all around Reykjavik wearing the shirt which had the saying in English, Icelandic and a host of other languages. My new friend, singer/songwriter Myrra Rós told me Jón’s story and where his shop – which doubles as a gallery – was located. I checked it out, hung with Jón and talked about his friendship with Brian Jonestown Massacre leader Anton Newcombe.
This original oil painting was hanging up in his shop and I purchased it along with a couple other items. The next time I came through town, I got a tattoo of the skull. Everything behind Dead resonates deeply within me, and as I prepare to go return for my 10th time to the country, look forward to seeing him again.