Letters, 2005/6

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4/2/06

Dear Tyler,

I remember when you were a star. You sat in a chair across from me and you said, you said that it wasn't linear. That is, you were responding to a comment I had made about looking at the stars and how looking at them is confusing, because it feels like I am looking into the past.

-Stephen

3/31/06

Dear Stephen,

I believe I have some knowledge which you folks should have. If I die my knowledge may die with me, and no one may ever have the same knowledge again. I would write it down and tell you what I know, but I think that words may confuse what I mean, I have more confidence in this moment we have together now, in my voice and it's expression. I think I the only way this knowledge I have will live beyond my days is whether can make this moment, now, important. I'm not sure how to start, or how to explain my knowledge to you, so please be patient with me. I may have to stop and start again, and I won't probably sequence the parts very well, I may have to skip around a little.

I believe there is a ribbon of energy that can carry me anywhere I want to go. I believe this ribbon of energy can move me so quickly from one place to another that the space in between becomes invisible, so quickly that my moving doesn't actually feel like moving at all. It occurred to me as I was looking at the stars or the ocean, or maybe after I turned out the lights in my bedroom and made my way to the bed, incredibly long distances, far away. I think there is a ribbon of energy that I could stand here and touch, and in the touching be connected to the stars. Maybe I need a ticket or maybe a catapult, but it is there, and this distance is only my perception of it from my current immobile state. If I close my eyes and imagine being able to move much more quickly, the distance between us here and the stars only seems as far as you are from me now. And it should be clear that this ribbon isn't only one ribbon, but in fact a network of energy ribbons that never rise above 7100 feet above see level. A relatively flat ribbon that spreads out across space and time.

I was thinking that if I could get high enough I could see for a really long way. That if I got high enough I could see California from here. I would like that. With the lights on.

-Tyler

12/9/05

December 11

Dear Tyler,

I've been spending a lot of time in airports lately, traveling between Philadelphia and Chicago. In airports there are always men conversing in the background, always last minute conversations happening before the plane leaves, always decisions being made behind close doors. People are shuffled across moving walkways, moving without moving a muscle, the sensors on the toilets never seem to work never seem to pick up my presence, I start to wonder if I'm a ghost because I can't get the toilet to flush. At the bathroom faucet I look to the left, guys washing there hands, water running, soap lathering hands, and I look to the right, again water running, hands washing. I look down move my hands, wave , chop , wiggle the fingers, hold them still and nothing happens not even a drip. After a while I realize that it isn't motion that triggers the sensors on the faucet, but stillness. I've been waiting a while for a handshake that meant something.

december 11 3December 11 2

11/10/05

Dear Stephen,

I'm struggling to think of something that I can write you that you will enjoy reading. I've been thinking about our alley a lot. Mostly because I spend a lot of time back there, going to and from Stacie's apartment. I feel like there are things to be said about what people throw out, things to be said about the morning sunlight experienced in yesterdays clothes, things to be said about the purpose with which people walk to the train in the mornings and the lackadaisical nature of their stroll from the train home, but it's not really coming to me just right.

I've been trying to map the various cables that leave our building and travel to the telephone pole in the alley. They all leave our building from just under my bedroom window and seem perfectly randomly arranged, as similar things with individual purposes done one at a time should. It's given me an idea I'm considering submitting to Google. I think they should have one of their fancy interweb deals map the power grid and show me how an electrical pulse might travel from one address to another over the power lines. Like from our address in Logan Square, Chicago to an address in Ecuador. Or maybe they should map telephone lines so that I could trace the physical path of an email from this computer in my bedroom in Logan Square in Chicago to Srdjan in Croatia who really wants to visit Chicago.

I recently read an article on trains and how the train system struggles against it's 2-dimensionality. No up and around, only waiting for the thing in front to move. Like many industries whose technological efficiencies rule out the human hand, railroads have engineered their way out of the train engineer - or are trying to at least. Imagine a web of train tracks with a symphony of trains all moving about with switchers and routers and engines controlled by a computer who can allow for two 2000 ton trains to pass each other within inches at 70 miles an hour. In that case the only one who looses is the dude in the thunderbird trying to make it across a "grade level" crossing before the train arrives.

Do you like my lingo? Grade level? That means not above or below the surface of the ground.

The other interesting thing about the railroad is how it's built without much slope. Imagine a web across the US on a plane that maintains a consistent altitude. ( not really true, but sort of.)

Some Pascal for the masses:

"Man is only a reed, the weakest in nature, but he is a thinking reed. There is no need for the whole universe to take up arms against to crush him: a vapour, a drop of water is enough to kill him. But even if the universe were to crush him, man would still be nobler than his slayer, because he knows that he is dying and the advantage the universe has over him. The universe knows none of this.

"Thus all our dignity consists in thought. It is on thought that we must depend for our recovery, not on space and time, which we could never fill. Let us then strive to think well; that is the basic principle."

Tyler

7/20/05

Dear Stephen,

The air is really heavy. I think it's really heavy. The air tonight is feeling like it is pushing on me. Tonight, the air is pushing on me in such a way as to make me feel that it's weight is greater than it normally is on my skin, or making me feel that it's volume in my nostrils is more than I am used too. There are smells in the air. Some are good, some are better than others, some are of the sort that you would rather not smell again but aren't necessarily regrettable as they seem to be a legitimate part of the experience, as much a part of the experience as the words that are being spoken, or the ground your feet are on, or the weight or general pushiness of the air.

I'm on a balcony that is exactly 1 story above street level. I am on a semi-known street in a well-known city in what is lovingly referred to as America's South.

As I write I am kept company by the mild whoops and hollers of a few people celebrating the culturally sanctioned state that they are in. It's New Orleans and if anything I am impressed by the towns ability to deliver on its reputation. It's hot, very hot, the air is heavy but easy, the bars are always open, people stumble around singing tunes from old musicals while drinking really fruity cocktails through a straw stuck in large plastic vessels shaped like rockets, grenades, or test tubes. Last night, on a long walk, I came across a family; a mom and dad with their 3 kids. The older of the 3 kids, a girl and boy that were maybe 17 and 14, were drunk and singing Maria's solo from The West Side Story; I Feel Pretty. The conviction of the 14 year old boy trying to outdo his older sister was great. Voice cracks, pole grabbing and twirling, sweating, father's eyes rolling, skipping, clumsy tap dancing, and more.

I heard the best hustle ever today. A guy on the street told me that he'd guess where I bought my shoes and if he got it right I'd give him $20.

The stars aren't visible from where I am, and I'm convinced that's by design. The stars enforce the idea of larger presence. We discuss the stars mystically, laying on the engine-hot hoods of cars in the country sipping beer or wine coolers and enjoying a night of reflection. The stars are larger than us. They encourage our gaze by seductively twinkling, unlike the sun, and by being less other-worldly than the moon. They are the most numerous and enthralling aspect of the visible heavens, the most comparable to humanity's many-ness. For this reason they attract us and ask us to consider them. But you need to be able to see them for their magic to work.

A bit of a flimsy letter, but a letter none the less.

Tyler

5/15/05

Dear Stephen,

Did you have a hard time with the menu? When ordering your sandwich?

Perhaps your experience with the menu could have been better if the waitress had held it up and ran towards you and past you from a good distance?

It has taken me just 15 days to forget Chicago. Upon my return tomorrow, I'm anticipating more a sense of deja vu and less a sense of familiarity. Returning to my room, especially in the messy state I left it, is a bit like self archaeology. I'll see the books I intended to read next, three weeks ago, on my night stand. Dirty socks from April 28th will be on the floor, old receipts from a coffee of 4/25 will be in the change bowl, a traffic ticket from April 26th will be laying on my desk, etc. Nothing will seem that urgent, and cleaning up will be undoing the organization of April that no longer makes any sense.

I had a dream last night about the star helmet/hats we were talking about some time ago. I think they will be great. We must make them soon, out of paper mache, and paint them with incandescent paint. They must be home made looking a little bit wonkey.

We will then need to choreograph a simple dance that is as if it is from the 40's. Lots of pointed toes, and a little bit of playful prancing.

And then I will have to get a new trumpet, and I will learn a really long, really good trumpet solo.

And then we will wear our hats, and do the dance to the song I'm playing on the trumpet, as the lights very slowly fade, revealing our glowing star-hats dancing against a backdrop of smaller stars.

See you tomorrow.

Tyler

5/12/05

Dear Tyler,

Your assumption about my where abouts on May 9th is correct, although you did leave out Ohio and Indiana.

It's funny what driving 85 MPH for 13 hours will do to you. On my way to New York I stopped off in Philadelphia to see a friend who lives there. When I got to Philly we went out to get something to eat at a dinner, I ordered a Tuna Salad Sandwich and a Brooklyn Lager. When my sandwich arrived I looked down at it and thought it was strange that it wasn't traveling 90 MPH or whizzing by me in the opposite direction. At one point I thought maybe I would ask the waitress to throw the sandwich at me so maybe things would seem okay or like they had been for the rest of the day. Of course I did not ask her to do this , only in my perfect world could I have done something like that. At the moment I am liking the idea of food (mostly sandwiches and hamburgers) traveling at high speeds down the highway in Pennsylvania, it is summer time and the birds and insects are out in force.

Every time I visit my parents I am more and more amazed at the neighborhood they live in. It is a newer development, I like to call them space colonies because they take so little time to build that it seems like they drop out of the sky. They are everywhere though, and there placement seems so random, it is as if someone stood in a valley one day at pointed at the hills and everywhere they pointed they said " house there, house there, more houses there, road, that tree is good we'll leave that tree, but let it be known that there will be no climbing the tree, grass there, quiet pond with gold fish there, house etc.." The thing that amazes me the most is the lack of activity in the streets. People drive by in there cars, open the garage door with the garage door opener, drive in the garage, and that's it you never see them again until they exit in there car. The only people I have seen outside of there cars or houses have been joggers. Landscapers keep up the yards, groceries are delivered, it is podular living at its best.

After reading the rules and regulations for the community pool which includes things like " NO swearing, NO jumping in the pool, NO playing in the pool, NO yelling" one gets the feeling that all there is left to do is stand still in the water. Imagine that, 20 people quietly standing still in the water! What is this Cocoon! So after reading this I came up with an idea for a juvenile event (which in my opinion is what this neighborhood needs). I say we have a parade, with a marching band, the size doesn't matter just as long as there is some racket being made. I have yet to decide on the tune, any suggestions? This parade will make its way slowly through the neighborhood and end at the pool where all of the parades participants will do cannonballs, and belly flops, and jack knifes into the water while screaming obscenities. Please excuse the lack of poetics on this one, I just think it would be fun . Feel free to fill in the gaps.

Here's a scenic drive through San Diego. I tried to find something better fro you to do but this is all I came up with.

Unless you're on the freeway, it's hard not to find a scenic drive in San Diego, but an officially designated 52-mi Scenic Drive over much of central San Diego begins at the foot of Broadway. Road signs with a white sea gull on a yellow-and-blue background direct the way through the Embarcadero to Harbor and Shelter islands, Point Loma and Cabrillo Monument, Mission Bay, Old Town, Balboa Park, Mount Soledad, and La Jolla. It's best to take this three-hour drive, outlined on some local maps, on the weekend, when the commuters are off the road.

See you in a couple of weeks,
Stephen

5/9/05

Dear Stephen,

I think you're returning from New York right now, probably somewhere in Pennsylvania in a rental car listening to music with the window down. It's summer now.

San Diego is a pretty middle of the road kind of place. It's nice, the weather's nice, there isn't anything super cool, but the stuff that is here is okay. I also haven't done anything to try and find cool stuff, so I should amend the above statement to read, the stuff that is near work and has a big sign isn't super cool, but okay.

I'm really tired most of the time. I think I learned something about myself today. I think that I spill coffee on myself everyday. I used to think I only spilled coffee on myself once in a while, but now I think that the truth is, I only where white shirts once in a while.

Hope your trip was great!

Tyler Myers

April 2005

Dear Tyler,

An Excerpt from a letter that was not sent when it was supposed to be:

I took notice the other day (not really , but today is the day I decided to write about it.) when I was walking with my umbrella in the rain of how when I am walking under open sky the drops are light and sound like white noise, and when I pass underneath the trees the drops become singular or more pronounced upon impact and produce a dull thud. I can control the spaces in between with my speed. Then the rain water starts to seep up through the soles of my aged shoes, and they begin to squeak. And I can control this too with my speed. For some reason it is funnier when I walk faster. Any Tragedy can become comedy if you just speed it up. Maybe this is why people on the job always say they wish time would move faster, they really just want to laugh.

In response to your letter about community:

When did art making become a contest.
When did it become a test of who can be more clever.
Better implies progress, it has no place in art.
Setting out to make masterpieces is absurd, how does one start?
Do not burden yourself with importance.

(It is funny that I just wrote that and I have been sitting in front of this screen for hours, treating this letter so preciously, too preciously. This tendency has always gotten in the way for me, and at times has prevented me from saying anything) What shall we call that silence? The lack during time in which I was spending trying to be clever. The absence of the rest of this letter.

Step

3/16/05

I open with a letter I started writing more than a month ago, but never sent because I think it's stupid.

[2/19/05]

Dear Stephen,

Tonight I came home and couldn't get into the house. It was really bizarre, maybe only to me, what it made me think about.

I unlocked the top lock, the deadbolt, the mother of all locks - and couldn't open the door. I stuck my key in the handle lock, the whimpy lock that you and I have successfully opened with a credit card, and although it turned freely - the door did not surrender.

This was a new predicament. All the keys, yet none of the convenience. It seemed I had the tools necessary for the job, that I had been able to master the tumbler and the pins: still, no bed, no food, no computer, no toilet, none of that. I got mad and started thinking about where I could get coffee in the morning.

But that's not what I wanted to write this letter about. I wanted to write you a letter about community.

That's it. That's a letter I started but never sent. The truth is, it's really fucking hard to be insightful every time a letter is due. This past tuesday the Sun Times called us tedious, and I agree with her. It's really tedious to have to make work that is good all the time. But here's the thing, I went to the MCA for the first time when I started school and I decided that this is the work I am going to be judged against when I am done with school, so no matter how hard it is - I'm going to make work that is better than this. If I don't believe my work is as good as this, I have no business trying to make work outside of school. If I'm not going to work 10 X harder at being smarter than everyone else, i'll never be smarter than I am now, and one truth remains self-evident: only smart people make good art. If you think this is cheesy, then you don't get it.

Yesterday I was talking to my buddy Michael, who is a self described Middle aged artist, at mid career, with mid-level success, carrying a mid amount of debt, living on a middle american salary earned from a middle american corporation, in middle america, who doesn't feel mildly satisfied. And he says he will never be happy, but he is happy with that fact. and won't stop working. If small success is your game, a craft tent will be your home. And if being understood is happiness, find a good job and stick to it.

In my pursuit for being smarter than you, and making better work than you, I am chasing the desire to be more and more useless to society. It's an endgame.

I leave you with a Sam Beckett quote. "I can't go on. I'll go on." and then another Sam Beckett quote, "When I think, no, that won't work, when come those who knew me, perhaps even know me still, by sight of course, or by smell, it's as though, it's as if, come on, I don't know, I shouldn't have begun."

1/2/05

Dear Tyler,

I have started hundreds of letters in my head, and like most of my thoughts in the in the past few months, they too have been lost. I have a feeling though, that the letters that I have written to you in my head would be difficult to translate on to the page. Maybe this means they were not letters. Maybe they were something else. And I am afraid that none of them will ever amount to much, seeing they are lost, and in my head.

I found something that might be of interest to you while I was roaming around Portland last week. It is a homemade Christmas card, made by a student (I assume this because it is signed "a student." The paper is pink, and on the front of the card is a single yellow, construction paper star. Underneath the star are the hand written words, "For those who are on a long Voyage." Underneath those words are another a set of handwritten words, this time in a different hand, they say "of walking". I'd like to guess that someone walking by added these words, but I don't know if that's the case. When I found the card I was wandering, and had been walking for some time, so I found the "of walking" to be more funny then if the card had floated in through a window, and landed on my plate while I was sitting at the kitchen table eating eggs. I'll show the card to you one day, at the right time.

In regards to your question about stars and dreams I am afraid that I can not come up with an answer. Only more questions. Is the light a star gives off part of the star, or only a messenger? In a room together, you and I, are we existing together, and seeing each other in a different time than our own? Am I always seeing you as you were _____ ago? Sitting here looking at my lamp I am waiting for it to disappear, If I am touching it would it disappear to touch before it disappeared to my sight?

On January 2nd in Chicago the Sunrise was at 7:18 A.M, and the Sunset was at 4:32 P.M.

See you soon,
Stephen