Where it’s at
“I got two turntables and a microphone.” – Beck
As artists we sometimes wonder what we’re doing in the world.
Are we doing something that will benefit anyone, or that people will enjoy? Is what we do important on any level? Is what we do even art?
I’m still working on most of this.
I have done many things in my life. I have been a scientist, a newspaper writer, a videographer, and documentary maker, a composer, a performance artist, and occasionally a comedian. But when I look back at all of my work I think what I have been most is someone who connects other people and other ways of looking at the world.
It’s not all that profound. I know a lot of people from many different walks of life and many disciplines. I am a curious person so I read and do a lot of research on broad ranging topics. And I tend to travel in many social circles.
My friends over the years have been artists and construction workers, doctors and lawyers, prostitutes and petty drug dealers, working class people of all sorts and big money community donors, teachers and students, famous people and obscure folks, religious people and atheists, scientists and science fiction writers, politicians and voters, gun owners and gun haters, ranchers and farmers, beef eaters and vegans, carpenters and sanitation workers, dreamers and realists, homeless people and realtors, conservatives and liberals, big business folks and hippies, African Americans, Anglos, Latinos, Asians, immigrants of all sorts and Native Americans.
Over time I have discovered we have more in common than we think. We all love music of some sort. We all come from particular cultures. We all want something better for our kids, even if we don’t have any of our own. We all have our good moments, and times in our lives that we’re less than proud of. We all want somebody in our lives, even if the definition of that concept varies broadly. And we all feel some connection to others, even if it’s just a few folks who understand our particular weirdness.
I guess more than anything I have been a story teller as much as anything else, using those stories to make plain that we do indeed all have a lot in common. And many times I’ve also been someone who made connections directly by introducing folks in my community who have common problems and goals that they can help each other with. They in turn become part of the larger story of my community.
Art is something I do. It rarely pays the bills but it fills my heart and keeps me going intellectually. It gives me reason to live when the realities of life are imposing.
I am a patient man, and a long term schemer. I firmly believe that delays can be as much an asset as a frustration. In part I’ve come to that realization by necessity. But I’ve also seen that my dreams have been significantly enhanced from long term planning and advances in technology.
Had I the means to do some of the projects I’ve developed over time when the idea was first hatched, I would not have been able to do them nearly as well. I would not have had the depth of knowledge needed in many cases. And I would not have had the life experiences that would make for deeper connections with what I do.
How I see the world draws on every aspect of my life from my days as a geology student and lunar scientist through my years in the record business, my decades as a journalist and the film making career I embarked upon once the newspaper business dried up. But it draws on life experiences as well. Getting to know people from all walks of life, hearing their thoughts, hopes, dreams and frustrations. My own life experiences as well. Falling in love, being hurt and climbing back from the wreckage of life. Succeeding and failing. Loss and grief, joy and celebration. Trying things I have no expectation of ever excelling at but which just look interesting and inspiring.
I always say I’m better at the things I do than I was five years ago, and worse than I will be five years from now. My ambition is not for fame but for knowledge and skill. And ultimately for connection in a more eternal sense. To create something great that will last long after I am gone.