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7/25/05 Creative Spaces
7/25/05 Creative Spaces
It’s a gray windy day in NYC. A beautiful day. It fits my mood perfectly.
When I was in the third grade I became a drummer. I don’t know how my parents put up with the racket. I practiced for hours each day. Finally they built a music room in the basement for my budding musician friends and I to practice in. I’m sure it was still loud for them, but perhaps a little less.
The basement room became the center of our social circle. My best friend was learning to play bass and sing. We would jam for hours while the neighborhood kids hung out. I was in the sixth grade and he was in the eighth. Some of the girls were beginning to mature and the first whiffs of sexual excitement were in the air.
The room was decorated with a black light and psychedelic posters. The old house we lived in was heated by a coal stove that sat in the far end of the basement. At on point my father hooked up a ‘panic button’ to use as a practical joke. A button hidden under a carpet connected to a car battery would sound a truck horn that was hidden behind a wall. Once when our friend Mark Tate came in we kept stepping on the button and then looking at him questioningly. “Mike what are you doing? How are you making that noise.”
“I’m not doing it,” he would protest. We went on and on until he broke down in a laughing fit. After looking around outside the house for the source of the sound he eventually became a bit distressed so we let him in on the joke.
It was a pretty happy time. I think many of my happiest times have been associated with creative spaces that created a sense of community.
When I was very young, before I became a musician I was interested in science. Mainly geology and archeology. I collected Indian relics and mineral samples. At that time I had a small play room where I displayed my collection that I called ‘the lab.’ That too was a center of activities for the gang of boys in my neighborhood. (in those days it was ‘no girls allowed’
My family moved around a lot. Not from town to town, just from house to house. Whenever possible I sat up a music room in the basement or attic that became the local hang out.
When I graduated from high school I got a huge space in an old warehouse in the center of town. By this time life centered around sex, drugs and rock and roll. The space became an ongoing art installation. There were square-boxed shelves on the left walls that once held hardware supplies that now became art frames. Each square held a separate art installation. I can’t recall what they were, except one that held a bunch of antique dolls posed with WWII bayonets in their hands.
The ceiling was decorated with a complex sculpture in tin foil, like a silver cave with smaller sculptures hidden within the ridges and crevices. The sculpture wound down a pillar to reach the floor in the center of room where it evolved into a mountain with little water ponds that glowed in fluorescent yellow, green and pink.
When lit by blacklight and colored lights it was a dazzling drug den. Most nights I slept on the floor after an evening of partying. It was furnished with old car seats and a tattered couch. All day and all night random people would wander in and out. It was non-stop drinking, smoking dope, and tripping on acid.
I worked the evening shift at the local Kentucky Fried Chicken and at the end of each shift I would bring back a bucket of leftover chicken. The bucket would set on the table and we would eat cold chicken for days. Aaah..it was a wonderful life.
The oddball characters who would wander in and out could fill a three ring circus, or maybe a David Lynch movie. People I never met would knock on the door in the middle of the night. Everyone was searching for something. Everyone seemed slightly off-kilter.
Below the space was an underage disco with which we shared a bathroom. I would slip in the backdoor and watch the teenage girls shimmy and shake to the latest disco hits while dressed in their finest white-trash slut-wear. It was enough to make a young man lose his mind.
When I joined the punk band Friction the warehouse became our practice space. Soon the parties would cram in hundreds of people. Most were kids under legal drinking age who were nonetheless wasted out of their minds. The morning after a party the floor would be so sticky with spilled beer and cigarette butts that your shoes would stick the floor and come right off your feet.
The space had one closed off room they had a sign on the door that read ‘Anti-social Room.” It was a place to escape from the crowd when things got to be too much for your drug-addled mind.
There was a top 40 band that practiced in the next room. After a few months of us being around they evacuated the place. Their abandoned room was left open and empty. Soon we took over that as well. There was an old mattress in their room that became a sex room. Soon it was littered with wine bottles and old condom wrappers.
Eventually a new owner bought the warehouse and immediately gave us the boot. I don’t think I experienced that kind of creative environment again until I was in college in the editing rooms of the film department.
Last year I attempted to get a space in Brooklyn that was to be the center of Imperial Orgy and Arete Living Arts activities, but it didn’t work out. Instead a temporary space was created during the computer classes in Lewistown, but there really wasn’t enough space to work in.
I feel like one of my goals for the near future is to find enough money to get a space. Creative projects need space and people.