How to save a life
March 4, 2014
A dreamer's in my closet - he can be heard in the middle of the night making delicate tears in the 140lb
Arches Cold Press watercolour block and moving jellybeans out of my tote bag. That little mouse lives here, too, says Peter. Rather than set a trap, I'd really rather just ask him to leave the beans.
Long ago I went to Brooklyn to visit a friend who had signed a lease above the Greenpoint Live Poultry Slaughter. I climbed the stairs and entered a dusty room striped with sunlight. I admired the 88-key suitcase Fender Rhodes piano that used to belong to Gregg Allman. I slid into her like an old black Lincoln. With the vibrato cranked she awoke from her slumber.
My friend Eric was a musicologist and drummer, chronically hunched over a small jazz kit, or fingering an MPC 3000 sampler from 1994. Worthy subjects of conversation with Eric included only ribbon microphones, vintage consoles and his cat. That day above the poultry slaughter, we listened to some old recordings and weighed in on the goodies and baddies. Then we played the rough edit of a new composition. It sounded like a memory, with a murky, dark Baldwin baby grand piano rattling like a ghost. This Baldwin, now in my bedroom, was a hand-me-down. In another life she had been the starlet of the Rainbow Room.
The saving of lives, for an artist, is surely a daily act. Artists are resuscitators of dreams, rescuers of the abandoned, lodgers of the unwanted, and keepers of faith. In our lifesaving, we are saved. In polishing the souls of others, the artist polishes her own with her resurrections. She can't help herself - giving life is the ultimate creative act. "As soon as there is life, there is danger," said Ralph Waldo Emerson. "I dip my pen in the blackest ink, because I am not afraid of falling into my inkpot."
That day in Brooklyn, I left Eric's when the sun dropped behind the new luxury loft development across the street. Amongst the old and new, I walked the shadows, the vibrations of the day lingering, confirmations and convictions renewed, and boarded the F train back to the Village.
PS: "I said, other people can write songs, let's see if I can. So the first 400 or 500 wound up on the floor somewhere. Then I wrote one called "Melissa." (Gregg Allman)
"If I didn't have to live, I'd never let any of it out." (Francis Bacon)
Esoterica: It has recently been reported that the sign at the now closed Greenpoint Live Poultry Slaughter has been
graffitied over to read "Live Poultry LAUGHTER comedy club." "All life is an experiment," said Ralph Waldo Emerson. "The more experiments you make the better." Life is our series of reprieves and restorations, of aspirations and alterations to chase and claim until the jellybeans are gone - to be shuffled and devoured by another dreamer. To see what might be done with all the beans, you can go here
. And if you feel like some graffiti, our Painter's Keys Community will join you in conversation below.