Saturday, August 21, 2010


by Drew Martin

I typically do not write on the fly like this. Nor do I ever write in bed...but I have not fleshed out the next post yet and I just wanted to make a little blog interjection here. I am feeling very Proustian, with my back to the headboard, looking out on the green garden on a lazy Saturday morning.

Sometimes I coin terms when I find them necessary. Each issue of my emailed periodical Character featured, for example, a Leditor (a letter from the editor). So today I thought I would write a Biotuary (a short bio about someone whose whereabouts are unknown).

In college, I had a friend named Casey, who was one of the most peculiar artists I have known. I recently thought of him because I started reading Walter Bosing's book on Hieronymus Bosch. It's a Taschen book and riddled with mistakes...(if anyone from Taschen is reading this...please take "ist" off your spellcheck as an OK word. First sentence of the book: The strange world of Hieronymus Bosch ist best studied in the Museo del Prado in Madrid.)

On the first day of a lithography class at the University of California at Santa Barbara in the late 1980's, Casey showed up with a mass of kinky hair, dagger-like finger nails and wearing only a pair of thick wool socks on his feet, which he had walked in from his apartment about a mile away. The teacher set us to a roulette of introductions in which we were to say which artist had influenced us the most. Casey said Hieronymus Bosch, and spent the rest of the class muttering that he did not know why he had said that. I did not know much about Bosch at the time but it seemed like a decent match for him.

I remember several of Casey's apartments. A few of them seemed to have public access. Once I showed up when a homeless physicist was transforming himself in his bathroom. Apparently the roommate who had let him in had left so whenever the guy cracked open the door to ask which razor, toothbrush or towel, for example, he should use, Casey and the other roommate who awoke to the intrusion quickly responded for him to use that which belonged to the roommate who had let him in.

At another location (one of those poorly-built two-story courtyard buildings, common in southern California), Casey and his roommates had an even more interesting environment. Someone who had disliked the ringing of the phone, had altered it so that when the phone "rang," a small electric motor, mounted high up on a wall, whirled a spoon at the end of a long piece of string. The tenant learned that the spinning spoon, rattling against the wall was an incoming call. This was later replaced with a light bulb that flashed, only that the filament of the light bulb was of Jesus on the cross. The refrigerator of this place was neither clean nor well-stocked and the freezer section was devoted entirely to a diorama of a frozen battleground of little creatures at war.

Once Casey and a couple friends decided to have a parade through Isla Vista, the college town of UCSB. He was a robot and there were only one or two others actually parading but there was also a mobile spectator group, as small in number, which followed them block-by-block. Casey was usually out walking around at night, playing his clarinet or up in his apartment working on a project. Once I was returning home from somewhere around 3 a.m. and stopped by his place because I noticed his light was on. He was up looking for ghosts and was a bit surprised when I appeared.