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After all these years, I'm finally reading one of John Water's books; it's Role Models.
And so of course, I started thinking about my troubled teenage years. But looking back they actually weren't so bad. As a ‘goth’ teenager in an all boys private high school, I was the weirdo. If I had known John back then, I think we would have been best friends and I'd now be an old cult legend. A few days after smoking some laced marijuana, I asked my parents if I could see a shrink; surprisingly, they said ok. And though I only had two sessions, because I felt it was a bunch of hooey, my shrink did come to say that I needed to stop drinking soda and start drinking water. Otherwise I'd develop diabetes; it was life changing! But now, I wonder if he could have been forecasting something else?
A year or so later at UC Berkeley, I was introduced to the cult works of John Waters and Divine. At the local theater, I saw my first double feature of Pink Flamingoes and Polyester (in Odorama). Like quitting soda, it was life changing. On screen were the biggest freaks of all. And though I still consider myself an oddball today, at the time after watching those movies, I no longer felt like the freak I thought I was. And about a year later, I was lucky enough to see John Waters give a talk on campus. Like the good student I had always been, I sat up front. Who would have thunk?
In Role Models, I'm immediately drawn to Mr. Water's storytelling, enjoying each and every odd nuisance. I'm already learning so much about old films I've never scene or even heard about. In leading a class about filmmaking at the Maryland prison, he asks the inmates to do a little improve and to act “the exact opposite of [themselves].” As I read and rode the stationary bicycle at the gym, I wondered about who was ‘my’ complete opposite? The answer revealed itself easily. My complete opposite is an aristocratic straight blonde haired blue-eyed man with an English accent. He’s polished and ignorant to any and every subculture and probably a CEO or even a lawyer. Or maybe even both. I laughed at the thought; I sat up straight with my chin up and I looked around at the measly members working out alongside me. Did they know who 'I think' I was?
The piece featured here is titled “Waters: Lost Doggie.” I found this old poster on the street as I left the gym. It’s in homage to the infamous scene of Divine eating dog poop. Ah, good times. And since I'm thinking about troubles, Walt Disney once said, “All the adversity I've had in my life, all my troubles and obstacles, have strengthened me... You may not realize it when it happens, but a kick in the teeth may be the best thing in the world for you.” I feel the same way. I wouldn't change anything in my life. And how appropriate this qoute is, especially in just having seen Llyn Foulkes retrospective at The Hammer Museum, whose work spoke up against Disney and corporations.
Is it possible that with all our troubles, the world itself can be the happiest place on Earth?! I think it can.
Have a beautiful week. And make sure to drink lots of water.