Wednesday, October 8, 2008
The Recap: SPARKS Ignite What's Next Art Tour 2008 - PHOENIX
I don’t know whether to be happy or sad that the latest Sparks/Juxtapoz/Upper Playground tour is done with. On one hand, it’ll be nice to get back in to some sort of routine, without being torn by my roots and thrown in to some new city w/ a bunch of creepy artist dudes. On the other hand, what could be better that being ripped from one’s routine to go hang out in new cities with creepy artists dudes… ok, ok… the creepy artists dudes happen to be my buddies, so it does make it a little easier. Plus, I have been fortunate to work with great new people, in each city. I really have to give it up for all the musical acts (DJ Pickster, Silver Medallion and the Insects). The last dude I want to thank is Dumperfoo. His stage name is kinda weird, but the dude is cool as shit. Without him, the AZ leg of this tour would have suffered, so hats off to you. Now, for the photos…
Yet ANOTHER picture of the boys. Straight from the plane, I knew that it was long past time to get a bite/beverage (despite the fact that I was sick as a muhfuggin dog). N8 and Alex had already been in AZ for a day, when Tarrant, Flores and I arrived and because of this, felt like they already had a lay of the land. They actually ended up taking us to a pretty sweet place (food/beverage-wise), even though it was kind of like a sad Tempe version of Hooters. Unfortunately, this was the only pic I was able to snap, as I was distracted by the minors that worked there (remember that this place was very hooters-ish), the amputee magazine cover models and the plethora of motorized wheelchairs that seemed to zip past us, every 30 seconds.
Later, we headed over to the Phoenix art-walk. Shit was crazy. There was a huge strip, with a few side streets, that branched off of it. On said strip/side streets, were about 100 “galleries” and about 1,000 people. I throw galleries in quotes, because half of these places were garages/basements/etc. A few of the artists that I spoke with were justifiably bummed about this, because it really takes away from the folks who have worked hard to build a legit art scene out there. Not saying that a good gallery can’t sprout out of creative use of space, but most of these people just wanted a spot to show their own awesome graffiti sketch books. If you say you are showing in a gallery in PHX, generally nobody really cares, because it all seems to get lumped together. That being said, there were definitely a few places that were cultivating some amazing talent. Oh yeah… the Ghostbusters were there, too.
Finally, it was time to get some real drinking done. When we demanded that we be given directions to a bar with a) rock, in the jukebox, b) a pool table, and c) bud + jack, behind the bar, we were unanimously steered to the Bikini Lounge. After typing the coordinates in to TomTom (Alex Pardee’s crappy version of a GPS device), we drove, parked and started walking. As we were walking, we looked across the street and saw this billboard. e all thought it was a little weird, but whatev’s…we’re in Phoenix. Then we looked up and saw another billboard connected to this, that said (in HUGE letters), TEEN CHALLENGE. We weren’t really sure to make of things and figured it might just be a good idea to get to the bar, ASAP. N8 had other ideas…
Yeah, N8 had other ideas… Passion of the N8.
That egg on N8’s head is the result of dropping that huge cross and having it land partially on his head. The funniest part about this (aside from the fact that a gargantuan dude was lugging a huge cross, down the sidewalk, much to the dismay of all the residents) was that Alex Tarrant thought that the bump was totally normal and had always been there.
We finally made it in to the Bikini Lounge, after talking our way out of a pummeling (for f*cking with the cross… turns out the Teen Challenge place keeps a cross in front of their building, because they are a drug recovery place run by some gnarly dudes who don’t take kindly to a bunch of f*ckwads screwing around with their religious paraphernalia). This is N8 and our new pal, Jessica (sister of Jeremy and wife of Dumperfoo).
Just after I put a couple bucks in the jukebox and played the entire Ride The Lightening album, the bartenders screeched, “Everyone out…this is an emergency…EVERYONE OUT!” Needless to say, I wasn’t thrilled (who doesn’t love Ride The Lightening?), but what I didn’t know was that this was a blessing in disguise. This forced us to find Chez Nous. Have you ever seen Animal House? If so, then I’m sure you’ll remember the part where the Deltas roll in to the Dexter Lake Club and realize that “we’re the only white people here.” This place was sick. There was a crazy soul band finishing up, the lights were dim, there were beautiful leather booths everywhere. And then N8 happened… again. Mind if we dance with your dates?
After all was said and done, I decided to ride the lightening, my own way.
The next morning we all needed to soak up some of what was sloshing around in our tums. For this entire tour, the waffle houses that freckle this fine country had proved to be a fascination for the dudes. On this leg of the tour, we just happened to have a Waffle House within walking distance of our hotel. Oh, and NEVER ask them (or possibly anyone) to put mushrooms in your grits. Ol’ Sammy Count Chocula Flores found this out the hard way.
How tall? This tall.
Alex claims to not drink, but when he couldn’t hold it anymore and we saw that his urine was the same exact color of the sparks we’d been drinking, he definitely aroused some suspicion.
The dudes finally start getting things underway.
OK… here’s where the pretty starts and the loafers start feeling lighter. Right when we noticed the sun setting on the Tempe skyline, the dudes immediately wanted their picture taken, to capture the moment. I think it may be that gigantic spliff in Floreezy’s mouth that really kicked this off.
More pretty shots (this one is one of my favorites).
Pardee and I agreed that this tower/sunset combo kind of looked like a J. Soto painting. Nice work, Jeff.
Last of the pretty . . .
Back to work.
I have to say, I was very impressed with the Tempe/Phoenix folks. The doors opened @ 8 and even though there were no performances until 9, there were already about 150 people watching our guys, by 8:30. People had really followed the history of Sam, N8 & Alex and seemed truly honored to have these guys doing their thing, right in their hometown. What was even more impressive was the age spread… there were 15 year olds, who seemed to know as much about these artists as some of the 30-40 year olds in attendance.
Fruits of labor and love.
What a bunch of jerks. Can’t wait to do it again.