“I am Jesus…I bid you welcome…” Whether Bela Lugosi said that, I dunno, but I do know that in 1909, the young Bela was cast as Jesus Christ in a production of the Easter passion play. And doesn’t he look good? With his robe, crown of thorns and flowing locks. The young Bela thought so too, and had several studio portrait photographs taken of himself as Jesus. Whether he invited audience members to drink his blood or eat his flesh is unknown. <img src=
The scar where my foreskin once was. I never knew what a foreskin was until long after it was gone.
Under my lower lip, now hidden by an old man’s beard, is a little scar where I bit through it, at age one and a half, hitting the ground face first after flying through the air from the seat of a swing.
My right thumbprint is instantly identifiable by an ovoid scar, quite small, but distinct, caused by catching my thumb in the slot of an old-fashioned curtain rod, at age four. I had been using the curtain rod as a sword, playing Zorro.
A small, round, scar on my left bicep; the mark left by the scab of a smallpox vaccination. There is no longer any threat of smallpox, anywhere in the world.
At seven, playing with a piece of lumber, which had a bent nail through the end of it; Mother called me in to eat, and I threw the board away. The nail caught my right index finger, between the first and second joints, tearing a gash across it. My first stitches.
Camping with my Boy Scout troop, age 12; a bowsaw I was using to cut firewood took a wicked bounce and landed on the back of my left thumb, leaving a row of small cuts. They are each only a millimeter long, now.
There have been so many others since:
A scar on my back which looks rather like the round crater left by a bullet wound, maybe a shot fired from a .38 Special. But it is really only an artifact of the surgical excision of a cyst caused by the buckle on the shoulder strap of my postman’s satchel.
A scar in my lumbar region, between vertebrae L4 and L5, where a surgeon, using a very clever device, tunneled into my spine and relieved paralyzingly painful sciatica in my right leg by cutting away the disc material that was impinging on the nerve root. Microdiscectomy; small scar, big improvement.
A long slash mark in my throat, exactly along the line of travel of my right external carotid, left by an endarterectomy which removed a blockage in that artery. A wicked scar, like a souvenir of a knife fight, now hidden by my beard.
Several marks on the back and palm of my right hand, left by a pit bull terrier’s teeth. I got off lucky; the same dog later bit off the thumb of his owner, the same angry asshole who had sicced the cur on me. What goes around, comes around.
— Mad Jimbeau
As I was striving to get down in words what I have been feeling in the days since I learned that my brother Joe was gone, I have been reading the words of authors that both Joe and I had read and admired, like Kurt Vonnegut, and Tom Robbins, and Carlos Castaneda, and I found passages that spoke to me, but not exactly what I was looking for. And then I remembered the extraordinary writing of Vincent Van Gogh, in his letters to his brother Theo. Van Gogh is certainly one of the most loved and respected artists who ever lived, though sadly he never knew that it would be so; he struggled his whole life in poverty, but never wavered in his intent to become a better painter, to discover in art something worth his suffering. He never gave up the fight. *
Joe was the kind of artist who knew that art is a path with heart, a way of being, and not just the business of decorating walls, or a way to become famous. As a true artist he followed Vincent’s example, to always strive to find the truth and the beauty in a thing, and to seek out ways to communicate that to others. The passages that follow are the words of Vincent van Gogh, but the thoughts are in resonance with the way I feel as I resolve to keep up the fight, to go on with the struggle that is an artist’s life, as Joe would have done, had he been spared the sudden disaster that overtook him.
"If only we try to live sincerely, it will go well with us, even though we are certain to experience real sorrow, and great disappointments, and also will probably commit great faults and do wrong things, but it certainly is true, that it is better to be high-spirited, even though one makes more mistakes, than to be narrow-minded and all too prudent. It is good to love many things, for therein lies the true strength, and whosoever loves much performs much, and can accomplish much, and what is done in love, is well done."
"When we are working at a difficult task and strive after a good thing, we are fighting a righteous battle, the direct reward of which is that we are kept from much evil. As we advance in life it becomes more and more difficult, but in fighting the difficulties the inmost strength of the heart is developed."
"I feel a certain calm. There is safety in the midst of danger. What would life be if we had no courage to attempt anything? It will be a hard pull for me; the tide rises high, almost to the lips and perhaps higher still, how can I know? But I shall fight my battle, and sell my life dearly, and try to win and get the best of it."
"For my part I know nothing with any certainty, but the sight of the stars makes me dream."
(Excerpts from the letters of Vincent Van Gogh to his brother Theo, between the years 1880 and 1889)
*(Recent scholarship has discovered that Van Gogh did not shoot himself that day in July 1890, but was accidentally shot by two young men he was drinking with; he chose to cover for them, a friend to the end.)
My brother Joe; artist, philosopher, fossil hunter, silkscreen printing expert, adventurer, and friend to hundreds of people. His loss leaves a hole in the fabric of existence which may never be repaired.
February 16, 1957 - February 6, 2014
Killed by a drunk driver in a hit and run crash, left dying in the road like trash, next to his mangled scooter. He deserved a better ending to his extraordinary story.
Please don’t drive impaired, and don’t let anyone else do it either. Stupid actions have horrifying consequences. The fool who killed my brother is facing twenty years in prison; I am facing the rest of my life without the person who understood me best.
— Kurt Vonnegut, Slaughterhouse-Five.
At two o’clock this morning, riding his scooter home from his night shift screen printing T-shirts at woot.com my brother Joe, my closest sibling, was hit by a car which sped away and left him dead in the street. The driver who hit him, killed him, and ran away was caught by the police and is now in jail. That does not comfort me much, but it’s something. Joe was my first and longest known friend, and one of the few, very few, who think that I am okay the way I am. Now he lives with me in the past, but not in the future. It’s going to take me a long time to get used to that.
As the orbits of my life grow ever tighter, circling the drain, I can foretell and divine the past by recalling to mind the history of the future. Shall I end at the beginning, or begin with the end?
In some remote corner of the universe, poured out and glittering in innumerable solar systems, there once was a star on which clever animals invented knowledge. That was the highest and most mendacious minute of “world history” — yet only a minute. After nature had drawn a few breaths the star grew cold, and the clever animals had to die.
One might invent such a fable and still not have illustrated sufficiently how wretched, how shadowy and flighty, how aimless and arbitrary, the human intellect appears in nature. There have been eternities when it did not exist; and when it is done for again, nothing will have happened."
We are on a downhill run from from Zamboanga to Port Erewhon.
The captain is missing, and may have gone overboard.
(However, the scuttlebutt is that he’s gone back into the closet with the Bo’sun’s Mate.)
The ship is steering itself nicely, for the nonce,
but that may be subject…
The artist as centaur, a limnal being, between two natures.
Salvation lies in forgetting we ever heard of Him."
— Mad Jimbeau (via madjimbeau)
Troubadour, or trobairitz? When does it matter? There is less difference than similarity. Gender is a performance.
Brain down the Drain, leaving mainly only Pain (a painter’s last testament).
I was dying when I painted this; it was to be my last work. But I didn’t die after all, and my strange brain survived with little change, so the work goes on. I still am, so still I paint. But few of my paintings have the desperate urgency of this one.
The celebration of love can be infinitely personalized. What is the norm, and who sets the standard? No one who you need to heed; it’s your highway, Jose. Go your own way.
— Mad Jimbeau (via madjimbeau)
the police officer looks down at his tummy and says “you are under a vest” and giggles to himself
- Oh, how we laughed!
In a small group of people, when there’s a degree of banter going on and jokes are being made at each others expense, I can see...