I’m racing down the final twists and turns of the highway known as Allee’s Throwing A Party and have hit the inevitable pothole of I’ve Got It Together/ I’m Totally UnPrepared. One of the reoccurring bumps in the road has been the design that accompanies this particular project/ party and whether I’ve gone too far or not far enough – a creative problem an artist with any depth must learn to handle gracefully without the aid of too many outside stimulants.
This Thursday night, 2/5, is the launch of “Hey Jerrie”, my new music video featuring me and spectacular 91 year old female drummer on an oxygen tank, Jerrie Thill. As I am wont to do for my parties I’m sitting here hand-making hundreds of souvenirs including fans of my and Jerrie’s heads:
Also making backscratchers (age makes sweet spots hard to reach), CDs, DVDs and prints of graphics celebrating the ongoing and persistent Ms. Thill.
When we met a few months ago Jerrie was visibly upset about her new appendage, a portable oxygen tank. My way in life is to deal with circumstances in the most spectacular way possible. The bottom is as much an opportunity for change and empowerment as the top. Which means that if you can’t breathe without the tank, make that tank work FOR you and not drag you down like the annoying and potentially humiliating chunk of steel and gas that it is.
I tell Jerrie to think of the tank as a fashion accessory – jewel the carrying case so it looks like a shoulder bag or build a cart with fins and chrome and roll it around like a doll in a kiddie car. I also tell her that she’s got the ultimate hook in this Age Of YouTube. How many people making contemporary music videos have tubes jutting into their nose? As if being 91 years old and still beating the skins in time isn’t enough! This POV has had a positive effect on Jerrie whose spring has now returned to her step.
I always design graphics to accompany anything I’m working on. But drawing ones that honor my sense of kitsch and rather loud design and still be respectful of Jerrie’s age and situation – i.e. the tank. – is more challenging than I imagine. After weeks I finally came up with these:
At first I thought you can’t have any fun with things like lungs and tubes. But having fun is what’s kept Jerrie alive. It’s what keeps me ticking like a teen, working through a plethora of careers wondering what I’ll be when I grow up. You have to find something fun or interesting about the life you live or you’re just miserable and bored and want to curl up in a hole and die. As long as you have a conscious breath in your body life is too precious to give up that easily. So here’s to lungs and tubes and anything else that’s a part of you.
“Hey Jerrie” goes up on YouTube at 6 pm this Thurs. Set your clocks now please!