Poet is the name of a street artist whose work I discovered through his Pink Mail Box series, which is called Love Letters. I started following him on Instagram under the hashtag #poetwastaken and, over the weekend, I went out looking for a few of the works he’s been posting on his feed. This piece, which includes an image of Kurt Cobain alongside a spray painted quote, is located in Freeman’s Alley on the LES.
Once I found the piece in person (and if you’ve seen Freeman’s Alley, you know that’s no easy feat) I was disappointed to discover that the quote had already been pasted over by another artist’s work, even though Poet’s piece had only been up since January 28th. This kind of thing happens so often that Poet said he has learned not to let it bother him. Everything is a work in progress.
Poet, who is based in Los Angeles, told me a bit more about the Cobain piece in a chat via Instagram. “The Kurt Cobain piece was actually initially derived from his quote “Thank you for the trajedy (sic), I need it for my art.” I had spray painted that next to that paste up, but the very next day it was covered by another paste up. This lead me to a add a short and sweet message of “I’m so happy” over Kurt’s image. I’ve been painting that quote for about a year now, and with paste ups only for a few months.”
Watch for more street art by Poet to be featured here in the coming weeks!
This quote by the late great David Bowie — “Tomorrow Belongs to Those Who Can Hear it Coming” — gets a vibrant new life when printed on the spines of horizontally stacked book that have been wrapped in pink paper or vinyl. According to this source, “Tomorrow belongs to those who can hear it coming” was the slogan David Bowie coined to promote Heroes, the second installment of his great Berlin album trilogy. It neatly captures one of his most important talents: to intuit the future and draw it forward into the popular culture of the present. Sometimes he would simply grasp the importance of a trend, as when he understood that the arrival of the internet would transform the economics of the music industry and the relationship between artists and audiences. But more often it was his artistry in self-reinvention that opened up new modes of cultural expression or brought shooting up to the surface deeper social trends. When he famously threw his arms round Mick Ronson’s shoulders on Top of the Pops, he was doing more than advertising his bisexuality. He was helping catalyze the liberation in the politics of sexual identity that would unfold in the 1970s.
Photographed at the New York Now Home Show at Javits Center in February of 2018.
Hippopotamus Poison (1965) belongs to a series of Technological Reliquaries, which Paul Thek (1933 – 1988), began in New York after a summer spent in Sicily. The work engages the Roman Catholic tradition of venerating saintly bodies that Thek had observed first-hand in the catacombs near Palermo, and simultaneously offers a critique of the art of the time, Pop and Minimalism in particular.
Within a visually seductive display case made from colored Plexiglas sits what appears to be slab of rotten meat, realistically rendered in wax.
Inscribed on the vitrine is a paranoid quote that nods to a generation’s underlying fears. “The world was falling apart, anyone could see it,” Thek has explained. “I was a wreck, the block was a wreck, the city was a wreck; and I’d go into a gallery and there would be a lot fancy people looking at a lot of stuff that didn’t say anything about anything to anyone.”
A tree planted to honor of the memory of the Beatles songwriter George Harrison has been killed by actual beetles. As the Los Angeles Times reports, the living local monument fell victim to an infestation of insects that couldn’t be bested. According to Councilman Tom LaBonge, the 10-foot-tall pine planted in 2004 bit the dust only recently, and a new one will be planted in its stead shortly.
Harrison’s last years were spent living in L.A. — he died there at age 58 in late 2001, and was cremated at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery. The so-called George Harrison Tree was accompanied by a plaque reading: “In memory of a great humanitarian who touched the world as an artist, a musician and a gardener.” It includes a quote from the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi: “For the forest to be green, each tree must be green”
The plaque (and the forthcoming tree) is located near the city’s famous Griffith Observatory. The memorial has one very glowing review on Yelp (with photos), which now reads more as a eulogy to the tree that was:
On the day I was there, many tourists and visitors, in fact, walked right by it without noticing it at all. There is no signage that leads people to the tree, and the memorial plaque is near the ground and out-of-sight. Furthermore, I didn’t see any buskers or fans with guitars either playing “Here Comes the Sun,” “Something,” or “My Sweet Lord” (or any of Harrison’s many other well known songs). Instead, with my own private thoughts and reflections, I enjoyed that pine tree in peace just as George, I’m sure, would have wanted it.
Madonna as She Appeared in the 1985 Movie, Desperately Seeking Susan
“Madonna in 2009 looks like a leather sack stretched tightly over a homemade sculpture of a Velociraptor made out of broken sticks, chicken bones and Terminator parts. But this was not always the case! She used to be a human woman, with soft skin and actual hair and a face and everything. Those days, of course, are long gone; drifting into the thick, smoky haze rising off of the clay pot where she mixed the bat wings and the blood of the innocent in her cursed spell of everlasting life. But you can still catch a glimpse of her, the Madonna that was, in movies like Desperately Seeking Susan. So young! So bad at acting! So what! It’s just nice to be reminded that there was a human being under the exoskeleton of desperation and Skynet Patented Real-Flesh Organic Compound. Even monsters used to have dreams!”
“I have this theory: you know that Guitar Hero or Guitar Band game? I wish those had come out fifteen years ago, because it would have kept a lot of these fucking dipshits from being in bands. They would have just gotten off playing Guitar Hero or Guitar Band and they would have left music to the musicians. Damn! Because there are a lot of kids that can kind of play, they can kind of write songs and they can kind of . . . fuck that man! I don’t do this because I “kind of can do it,” I do it because I live it and I breath it and I love it. I don’t really even get paid that much to do it but even if they weren’t paying me – I’d still do it. A lot of these cats can’t do it and, all right that’s cool. I’m not going to hold that against them. I’m not going to be that cynical bastard, but I just know what the score is. So, don’t player hate me, just stay out of my way (laughs).”
“Now that we’ve stepped away from the smaller sub-genre that we were in, it shows me how narrow of a field of music it is that you consider yourself a fan of. There were really only a couple of bands or musicians that were actually thought of as [being] great musicians within this entire sub-genre of music. That’s something we became aware of as we got into bands like The Who or The Rolling Stones. There are key figures in these bands that people were fans of because they were just amazing musicians. Nowadays, a lot of times fans know the members of bands because they’re dating another celebrity, and nobody really knows how good they are at their instrument. That’s strange, so whenever I get asked about whom my influences were growing up I honestly get stumped. I was a fan of certain bands; therefore I just liked their drummers. Thinking about it now, a lot of these players weren’t any better than I am now (laughs).”