Sunday, October 25, 2009
I have been walking amongst the dead today. In fact I walk in and around the dead most days. Oh I know what you are saying 'Philip, Stop being so melodramatic' or 'Please limit yourself to one martini when you write your blogs'. The truth is, I live amongst the dead. We all do in Paris.I live amongst the dead and it would be impossible to have it any other way. O.K. let me explain. It is impossible to get around paris or give directions without spanning at least 200 years of deceased historic figures. Let me give you an example (I know by now, with my long lead in, that you must be craving one) Today was the perfect Paris day to buy an English newspaper. Fresh air. Fresh thoughts. Fresh underwear,Fresh newspapers. The short journey began here. I walked up Theophile Gautier (1811-1872 poet critic painter) then I took a right on Francois Millet (1814-1875 painter), kept on going across to Ave Leopold 11 (1865-1904 king of Belgium) then I went left on Ave Mozart(1756-1791 composer) then took a right on Henri Heine (1797-1856 German poet, journalist) then a left on Rue du Dr. Blanche (1796-1852 Doctor Duh!) and then to my beloved paper stand (they were out of the Times and Observer,I left it too late.) On the way home ( disappointed and paperless but still fresh) I passed down Rue Michel- Ange (1475-1564 painter, sculptor) then down George Sand (1804 - 1876 writer, feminist). Well you get the idea (and also great directions to my favorite paper stand as well. But get there before 11a.m.)
On every street corner (oops! excuse me, Rue or Ave or Blvd corner) there is a name. Under the name is written the date of birth and death and occupation. This is a perfect history lesson, even if you didn't ask for one.I don't want to sound preachy, but in the states, its generally street numbers and avenues,59th and 1st doesn't sound as glamorous. Also, wouldn't it be more educational to have famous people as roads (o.k. I can hear what your saying, Im starting to sound preachy) Paris has a way of making the dead seem part of everyday life. It's romantic, historic and dare I say it, Alive! Yes I live amongst the dead. Apart from the Rue names there are also statues of a dead littered everywhere. Oh joy!
But todays story isn't about the 'famous' dead (yes I know.I have waffled on for 300 words already) No dear reader, todays blog is about my death. Well my eventual death. But lets not get ahead of ourselves. As an artist I am expected to die early (it is written somewhere) so my art will increase in value (I cant tell you the number of times my relatives have had that look on there face, that 'when are you going to die?' look) Just so there little sketch, I gave them one christmas, 20 years ago, might be worth something. If I die (or rather ) when I die, I have big plans, and I mean that literally. You see I have drawn out on a blueprint my tomb. Yes! you heard right, my tomb.I have designed a very simple but cosy tomb, where my body (lack of cremation, ashes etc) will be laid out. I have painted beautiful scaled renderings, to show the builders of my future resting place, how to execute (wrong word maybe in this context) every detail of my modest final home.(They will get the plans only if I suddenly die, you understand) My final digs, which will be situated somewhere on a slope in Paris. A 'Tomb with a view' if you will. I started working on this project when I was 16. I didn't quite have the location down, but the drawings were complete.I have made very few changes to them since. The soul (no real pun intended) of the project is still intact . The outside is made of sandstone, with very simple and clean lines. The inside is a little more complicated. The walls will be painted and there will be words, lots of them (I wont spoil the surprise now, There has to be some mystery even in death) I have put aside some money in my will, to have this little structure realized.I would and should leave this tale right here. But there is a little more to say. You see, I want to work on one more art project even in my death. My final work if you will.I'll explain. Above the door of my tomb will be a phone number. When you call that number you will get an answering machine( Yes! you will hear the phone ring inside the tomb) It will say 'Hello you have reached the home of Philip Brooker.Unfortunately I cant get to the phone at the moment, because I am very dead. Please leave a message, but I very much doubt if I will get back to you any time soon'. Then the beep, and then you leave your message.The best and most creative messages over a 5 year period will be made into an exhibition.I will have photographed and filmed the building of my final resting (ha! resting, What a joke ) place in every detail and every stage of the way. So it should be an enjoyable show. Im sorry I wont be around to attend.I love the idea of having a fresh new show even in my death. None of that retrospective nonsense.
Im a little busy at the moment with all my projects, but as soon as there is a little break, I will start looking for a nice place to be laid out. I will build my tomb and paint it while Im alive (like there is a choice) I need to see what it will look like.I will also take some of my favorite items to keep me company (these will also be featured in the exhibition) I would hate not to know where Im going to spend all my 'golden dead' years.
They say Paris is to die for. I say its to die in. I just hope I live long enough to pass away it in this great city. You can quote me on that, But not till I die. Which hopefully will be in a few years from now. Quite a few years. Who knows, maybe I will be a Avenue or Rue one day.
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
On December 8th 1980 I was getting ready for a really hot date (Im not sure what I mean about getting ready) but I was doing what boys do before a date (still not sure?) It was one of those sharp cool nights in New york city where everything seem to look and feel good. I was living on 59th and 1st in a very nice apartment lent to me by a very nice friend (I love to use the word 'nice' twice in a sentence). The apartment was full of my paintings and more paintings (what a shock) all leaning against every wall. Brushes all clean and showing off there new haircuts. Sketches on the floor (doing what sketches do) and the smell of hope in every tube of oil paint. It could not have been more of an artist studio, even if MGM had set it up.I had just finished a series of paintings and was feeling good....very good in fact. With the prospect of a beautiful woman coming to visit and with all my work behind me for at least 5 minutes. I was ready to turn on the charm and maybe the shower (maybe even both). She called me and told me traffic was bad and that she would be a little late. When she arrived, it was a little later than I would have wanted(I hadnt slept the night before but I was young). She brought the cold air in with her beauty and explained how thing were a chaos on the upper west side. I hung on to every word like she was reciting poetry. she was more beautiful than I had remembered from the party. I poured her a drink as she continued to give me a traffic report. As I was sipping my wine she casually said that Yoko Ono had been shot .I thought I hadn't heard right 'What' I said, 'Yes the japanese woman married to that Beatle had been shot, but she was o.k.' Then she continued on about the traffic. I ran to the other room to get my little radio (I didn't have a T.V ) the batteries were nearly dead, so the story kept fading in and out. The man on the radio sounded somber. 'Reports are coming in that Yoko has been shot to death and that John was just wounded' I took a very deep breathe. He went on to say they didn't have the full story .......I pressed the radio tightly against my ear to try a hear better, while My date started to nibble on my other ear.I pulled away from her and motioned to her that I had to hear the story. Then the worst news came through. Delivered it in a low tone ,slowly and precise he said 'At 11.21 p.m. John Lennon was pronounced dead'............................... At 11.22 my date wanted to make out. I said I couldn't .I said I was numb, I said I have just died inside.I said this is really sad news. She told me to not be so dramatic. 'Its only a singer and a washed up one at that'. I was too numb to really respond.I told her it would be best to leave. I told her things wouldn't work out. I told her I was devastated and I really needed to be alone. She made one more last attempt to win me over, but her beauty had turned to ugly in a split second.I don't remember her leaving but I do remember sitting on the corner of my bed all night and most of the next day.I remember thinking what was the point of anything.I remember thinking this news was far too personal to share with a strange woman who didn't seem affected at all by the news.I remember calling my mother.I remember I cried and couldn't stop.I remember she said I would get over it. I remember thinking what does that mean ' Get over it'
Last friday was John Lennons birthday. He would have been 69.I suppose it was the closest I ever came to having a Hero.
I like to float on my back in the warm womb-like pool in Miami. I like to look at all the stars.I like to think about how big the universe is.I like to think about how huge the entire solar system and beyond is.I like to think this because It makes me feel small.No! correction! It makes me feel like I don't exist, and the truth is (in the big picture) I don't. I cant. Im so small (we all are) Compared to what's out there we are all nothing.Zero. This feeling use to scare me but now it makes me feel good.It makes me feel like nothing is that important...NOTHING! How can it be, Im smaller than a speck of dust. Smaller in fact. This doesn't mean that I don't do my best with my art or try to be nice to people, I do. But it puts everything beautifully into perspective.Recession, Mortgage payments, traffic tickets,toothaches, delayed flights, bad drivers, Assholes. Im nothing and it makes me feel good. Perspective!
I like to float on my back, in the dream-like state under the stars in Miami, because I don't exist.
Last friday was John Lennons birthday, he would have been sixty nine.He was the closest I ever came to having a hero. Happy birthday John.
P.S. The photo above Isn't me...It's John Lennon....I just happen to have an identical photo.