Tuesday, August 7, 2012

JEFF GABEL (제프 게이블) at Kim Kim Gallery

More of the Best from Firmin Graf Salwàr dej Striës -- Firmin Reads Hölderlin

…since none of us had slept last night, one after another went to bed . . . until it was just Firmin and I left awake. We went to the bay-window room to drink one more whiskey. Firmin looked exhausted and grey. But he seemed to me to be in a happy, favorably fading mood. “Now they’re all leaving tomorrow,” he said, with an almost mischievous expression, “and they’ve totally forgotten my play, which is the reason they came here. Thank God they were too well entertained here to bother me with it. But I’m curious,” he said imitating the well-known archducal style of speech, “about when, now that they’re all gone, the first inflammatory telegrams will arrive. Whatever – let them keep waiting.” He laughed to himself, as if he had just successfully played a prank on someone. Then he sat against the back of a chair and flipped through the leather-bound Hölderlin book that was still lying there from earlier. “This is for me”, he finally said, “Listen! -

The pleasures of this world, I have tasted in full
The hours of youth, flown by so long!, so long! ago
April, May, and June are far behind,
I’m nothing anymore, no longer wish to be alive"

Friday, August 3, 2012

On Dependency, My 1st Real Withdrawal, and Abusing Privileges

This March I started an in-situ wall drawing at my gallery in NYC, few days per week over the course of 3 months. Drank a lot of beer, went home w/ lot of early evening hangovers, gained weight. Show ended, back to regular life, cold turkey on the beer, headache, irritability and mild dependency for a few days and then it was over.

When using beer to work, chew tobacco is an astoundingly efficient device for controlling boozing rate. Drink too fast too early, come down too early when you got 8 hrs set aside for working on a wall drawing, and your day's ruined. Nicotine immediately slows down the boozing rate, but the effect is very temporary, and you can reinstate drinking right away again at any pace you want. Also, nicotine is irresistible in combination with booze.

Nicotine is also irresistible when combined with sitting on the couch and reading, maybe some cold coffee to go along. So the problem is I end up bringing the chew home from the gallery and chew all night & read - and it's hard not to hold onto it after the show's over. It's easier to cut the beer right away. My friend told me I drink like a high school kid and that's exactly right - it's not for relaxation, nor for knocking back sorrow, I drink when I'm happy and it's for fun, for saying dumb embarrassing things to people, I count how much of what I drink and then tell other people, I guard the supply, etc, I do it because I want to and because I can - it's a fun game and then it's over -- But nicotine isn't recreational, it's magic dirt that motivates and makes me happy - it's a lot harder to throw out after a show. And after the show this spring I'd kept at it for 4 months, I kept buying more cause I kept getting new books to read at night. I couldn't pick a good time to stop.

Then I had to go to a job-related library conference for 5 days, and I decided this was enough, the morning I left home I took the chew w/ me and trashed it before I left town. At the conference, the absence of routine, and meeting people and drinking free beer & martinis apparently masked symptoms of nicotine dependency, I didn't notice there was an issue. When I got back home to NYC on the 5th day it was midnight and I was tired and overly caffeinated, like 6 cups that day w/out dinner (the chew had been keeping me down to 1, maybe 2 cups/day) - the next day at work I felt like crap and figured, that's what happens when you drink beer and martinis and then watch cable TV back in your room w/ beer for 4 nights and then drink coffee all day at meetings before you ride home w/ more coffee & no dinner. Ditto for the next crappy day.

Then after 4 or 5 days home I felt like crap in a different crap dimension. It was psychological crap, severe lack of motivation, mild feelings of loss w/out basis, maybe despair, I wanted to cry a few times. I said to myself I know I'm not too excited to be back in my old routine, and I'm familiar w/ the typical come-down after a short pleasant change in scenery, but shit, getting depressed cause of going back to work? WTF's going on? I caught on right away, it was withdrawal. I'd usually chewed for a few weeks during an installation at a gallery & then quit, not immediately, but soon after - so what I had then thought was withdrawal was actually a joke. Even in the few anomalous cases when I've held on to the chew way too long, I had always given it up gradually.

At the conference I'd been tempted a few times, like one night after some drinking I had to go buy toothpaste at some mini mart and I saw those cans of chew lined up and thought, damn I can take nicotine back to my room and drink heineken and flip channels on cable, and I was euphoric about the idea but then I held off at the last minute. So when I got back to NYC I decided - if I made it past this temptation then I'm not gonna get more chew now, even if I want to cry and even if I feel what must be similar to mild depression symptoms.

This crap came and went for a number of days along with uneasy stomach and general mild exhaustion in the muscles, then yesterday it got quite a bit better. One of the 1st things that I perceived around the time I noticed I felt better was Grateful Dead "Friend of the Devil" playing while I was waiting for coffee, and I thought how I hadn't heard that in so long, and what a great song that is, and thought of how nice their other tunes are too. I was singing that song all day. That evening I had to change toner in the printer or some shit like that when, w/out external stimulation that I'm aware of, Billy Idol "Dancing with myself" was running in my head, it got me on a great upswing & I was singing it around the house & it ran thru my head all night.

So that was withdrawal (unless someone was slipping something besides olive juice in my dirty martinis at the conference). I guess I never really knew what nicotine or booze withdrawal was, I thought it just meant you get tired, bitchy, don't want to do anything and want more of your substance, just for a few days. I didn't know you could run thru little bouts of psychological misery & mild despair.


Here I need to list what I'm thankful for:
-Thank you library conference for creating a change in routine, a prompt to make the change, otherwise I don't know when I would've tried to quit, no doubt not until a time where quitting might've been hopeless.

-Thank you to all the people at the conference w/ whom I conversed, and all the vendors who gave free beer and martinis at your parties which distracted me and masked the dependency symptoms and gave me a 5 day delay on the withdrawl, making the misery period shorter than it could've been.

-Thank you Grateful Dead and Billy Idol for, if not helping cause the recovery, at least being there with me in my head on the day I felt better.

And then I need to list the things which I already knew but learned again and will probably have to learn more than once again:
-Tho nicotine, w/ a little discipline, can be a mild 'drug', it definitely also has the ability to work somewhat like a real Drug, the bad kind w/out the quotation marks

-Tho I always tend to forget about the Grateful Dead, they have a ton of really nice songs

-Tho giving yourself privileges, even potentially unhealthy ones, is essential, cause its part of being human, in any case far better than dogmatic absolute self-restriction, don't forget the other part, that there's no referee that's gonna punish you if you abuse your self-given privilege, and if you can't keep yourself from abusing it you might have to pay for it big time. I remember the Dustin Hoffman character in Papillon said that a well-known fucker once said that someone's character can be measured by their ability to resist temptation. I hope that's not true, there's got to be an easier way, but I did find that resisting a temptation which might relieve a short term misery felt kind of good.


So, I have 2 out of town shows coming in the fall, in-situ wall drawings again, one is 2 weeks long, the other is 1 week, and OF COURSE I'M GOING TO CHEW NICOTINE AGAIN, but this time I'm going to throw it in the garbage before I get to the airport to go home.