The San Francisco Art Asylum

The film department seduced me. There was something about the math involved in animation that spoke to my inner nerd. I enjoyed the counting. The sleepless nights.  Lighting a scene. Making up characters. Creating a world. Having an outlet for my ADD. Most of all, I enjoyed the magic behind it. Okay, I know magic is a cheesy, overused word - but how else can I describe it? It IS magic. There’s nothing like getting a reel back from the lab, locking yourself in the viewing room, and watching it for the first time on the big screen. You can spend an entire semester on three minutes of film but it’s always worth it in the end.

As magical as animation made me feel, there was a dark side to being a film major.

Film students.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I was inspired and amused by a few creative geniuses in the department. They made the critiquing experience bearable. They were also not the majority. The majority talked too much, took themselves way too seriously, and bored me to death with their silent experimental films. Popular themes involved eggs and the breaking of eggs.  Trees and the breaking of branches. Feet running. Girls swinging. Time-lapse odes to China Town. Girls putting lipstick on.  Shattered glass. Water. Bath tubs. Boyfriends. Pills.

After two years, I got pretty sick of watching seventeen-minute experimental films about eggs. I was also sick of spending valuable class time discussing eggs. During the darker hours (ahem. critique week) I would indulge myself in complex math problems about how each minute was costing me $27.  This was a rough estimate. I had a scholarship -- but it’s the principle of the matter.

So I left the film department, loaded my pipe, and decided to start painting again. I found sanctuary in its fetid bosom.  Painters don’t talk about painting. They listen to their headphones and keep to themselves. This is what I like to believe, anyway. I decided to take my favorite professor’s class. He sounded like molasses, wore scarves, played jazz, and gave the students plenty of creative freedom to do their own thing.  This backfired, of course.

Ladies and gentlemen, meet my painting class.

There was Creepy Fetus Girl. I didn’t like her. Not one bit. She would only paint on those crappy little canvases you buy at cheap art stores.  I don’t think she ever made a piece larger than 11x15.  This didn’t bother me so much.  I couldn't imagine her shitty little paintings taking up a whole wall. They looked like abortions - and by abortions, I MEAN abortions.

Like actual abortions.

Each piece had a poorly drawn fetus in the middle of the canvas.  It would be crudely outlined in black and grotesquely out of proportion.  These fetuses had tremendous hands and Popeye arms.  As if all of this wasn’t unsettling enough, she covered the rest of the canvas with a bubbly text that read, "I am not here. I am not here" over and over again. Under different circumstances, these “paintings” would have been a tremendous asset to the Right-to-Life community.

During critiques, Creepy Fetus Girl was prone to crying fits if somebody gave her helpful suggestions.

“How about using a ruler to make the text more even.”

“Maybe you should cut out some pictures of fetuses and bring them to class to look at. I’m pretty sure fetus hands are smaller than that.”

“Are you a New Genres major?”

“This is the Advanced Painting class, right?”

Not everyone hated her work. She had an ally that would almost always jump to her defense.

“Guys!  Leave her alone! You have no idea what the deeper meaning is!”

Deeper meaning? I’m sorry. I thought her “deeper meaning” was not to abort freakish babies with Popeye arms and enormous hands. Do you mean to tell me that Creepy Fetus Girl is trying to address larger political issues with these poorly executed eyesores? Is Creepy Fetus Girl trying to blow our minds with her own story of love and loss?  Does she need a hug? Should we start the revolution? Pro Life? Pro Choice? I’m confused. Is she telling us to eat more spinach?

The usual debate between the sexes would ensue.

Cunt vs. cock.

Ad nauseam.

If Creepy Fetus Girl was kidding with all of this, if she really could draw, than she was a GENIUS.  A FUCKING GENIUS. Unfortunately, I don’t think this was the case.  She was crying for help.

It was difficult to hear Creepy Fetus Girl’s cries for help over her archenemy’s racket.  We'll just call him Sir Dickhead McDickencocker. While Creepy Fetus Girl quietly begged for our attention, Sir Dickhead McDickencocker grabbed a megaphone and told us how it was. She cried. He pounded. I found myself torn as to whom I disliked more. In hindsight, I think I have to go with Sir Dickencocker. At least Creepy Fetus Girl was quiet. Dick sounded like he had microphones attached to all of his limbs - giving one the impression that the chains dangling from his pants were in Dolby Stereo.  Don’t guys know that chains are vagina repellent? Lose the fussy chains, my friend. You sound like a Yorkie running in the park. Anyway, Dick did gun collages. Of course. What else could he possibly do?

These collages were done on wood.  He hammered nails in them, too.  Dick just had to penetrate something.

Pound. Pound. Pound. Pound away, Dick.  Pound away.  Go listen to some :Wumpscut:  and think about more phallic imagery you can use in your work. Pound the wood because there is no pussy to pound. Pound away,  you angry.white.male!  Pound. Pound. Pound. Why so angry, Angry.White.Male?

The usual debate between the sexes would ensue.

Cunt vs. cock.

Ad nauseam.

With all this pounding going on, it was hard for me to focus on the lady that would just paint canvasses pea green, the obligatory dumb girl that painted with her menstrual blood, or the New Genres major that didn’t paint at all.  I did occasionally marvel at that one guy that painted exact replicas of Michelangelo’s subjects (if his subjects had Popeye arms. I can only presume he was making a statement about the Fetus Girl.

The crème de la crop, however, had to be Little Goth Boy.  I liked this kid because he took his crippling social anxieties to the next level. Instead of developing a boring speech impediment or writing bad poetry, he utilized a stuffed monkey to handle the daunting task of communication. The monkey’s name was Oliver and it’s uncertain how many years this monkey-middle-man was used as a communication device. All that is known is that Oliver had seen better days. Little Goth Boy dressed him up in black, gave him a Mohawk, some facial piercings, and decided that Oliver should sound like a pre-pubescent Muppet with a head cold. Everything was done through Oliver, even the most boring of small talk.

“Um, Can you pass me the turpentine?”

Oliver uses its mud-caked monkey arm to slide the turpentine over. “Thereeeeeeeyougo!”

“How was your weekend?”

Oliver thoughtfully discusses poignant events that happened. “I almost fell out of a second story window. Uh-ohhhhh! Spaghetti-O’s!”

As strange as this all might sound, we never questioned this behavior. Oliver became a beloved addition to the art community. It’s even rumored that the monkey may have had a hand in getting Little Goth Boy a girlfriend - a noble act that cost Oliver dearly. Once Little Goth Boy finally got laid, he was no longer in need of Oliver’s services. On one fateful evening, poor little Oliver was accidentally left in a cab and Little Goth Boy discovered his own voice - an incoherent whisper. Everyone was pretty bummed to hear about Oliver’s misfortune, but he had served his purpose well. I can only hope that he’s living the high life in stuffed monkey heaven. If anything, he must be so relieved to be out of the San Francisco Art Aslyum. I know I am.

Perhaps I’m being too judgmental. What about my own artistic endeavors, you ask? Why am I any better than those that I mock? I’m not.  Honestly, I don’t know what I was doing in art school either. I should have been a lawyer. I should have been a journalist. I have many regrets. To furthur prove that I was just as big of a joke as everyone else, here is a list of every piece of shit I tried to get away with "in the name of art”.  I was praised as a genius. I cringe at the memories.

  1. Doll porn.  Got an A+.
  2. Whipped up a last-minute fluorescent chastity belt sculpture. It was a tacky monstrosity. I even glued an email from a douche bag that owed me money on it. The piece was desperate and I knew it. I might as well have been drawing Popeye armed fetuses. It was so bad that my antagonist (a douche bag that made 200-page books filled with drawings of his penis) had the audacity to call “bullshit” on my bullshit.  It was another war of the sexes. Cunts vs. cocks. Ad nauseam.
  3. Orchestrated and filmed a spin-the-bottle game to capture “awkward first kisses”.  Oliver was in it.  Sadly, nobody wanted to kiss a dirty monkey but they had to. The bottle is law.
  4. Created a fake teen website. Suggested that Claire Danes had herpes. Gave tips for anorexia.
  5. Put bows, flowers, and plastic birds in my hair for a year straight. Had many situations on the Muni.
  6. Made a 10-minute fashion video about what the Goth kids were wearing while I was in Tokyo.  Bunny ears and eye patches were RED HOT that year.
  7. Filmed and hung out with the fanatics waiting to see the new Star Wars movie.
  8. Made a three-foot ice cream cone sculpture from stolen traffic cones.
  9. Made a "sexy" music video about all the dirty things my friend and I wanted to do to Jarvis Cocker and Ian Astbury.
  10. Troll porn.
  11. Followed the Cure for the summer.  Went to Australia. Documented every detail. Nobody in my class cared that Robert Smith’s aunt told Sasha and I “You can sleep when you’re dead.”
  12. Turned a tree into a tree. Blew their fucking minds.
  13. Grief porn.
  14. Tried to start a  “make-out-not-war” demonstration with a 10-foot bottle to spin. Was late for the demonstration but ended up on page 5 in the Chronicle anyway.
  15. Moved to London.  Lost the plot.