Artist. Author. Poet. Photographer. Philosopher. Pixelfiend. Imagineer. Inked in blood, and set in bone. All original content copyright 2017 Artemis Sere and Antithesis Press, unless otherwise specified. Thanks for visiting my creative orbit.
"Be prepared for what?" someone once asked Baden-Powell, the founder of Scouting,
"Why, for any old thing." said Baden-Powell.
The training you receive in your troop will help you live up to the Scout motto. When someone has an accident, you are prepared because of your first aid instruction. Because of lifesaving practice, you might be able to save a nonswimmer who has fallen into deep water.
But Baden-Powell wasn't thinking just of being ready for emergencies. His idea was that all Scouts should prepare themselves to become productive citizens and to give happiness to other people. He wanted each Scout to be ready in mind and body for any struggles, and to meet with a strong heart whatever challenges might lie ahead.
Be prepared for life - to live happily and without regret, knowing that you have done your best. That's what the Scout motto means.
from "Be Prepared: The Motto of the Boy Scouts of America"
I went to use the restroom at a coffee shop and found a three-page, hand-written, photocopied "sermon" on the urinal. This is a tweaked synthesis and summary of that rambling message, which reflects much of how I feel about the "genuity" and pure human "goodness" of scripture... (*note the sarcasm*); details have been changed to affect the innocent, other countless souls that may have contemplated and been corrupted by the "sermon on the urinal".
and lo the urinal spoke of scrypture: all we, like sheep, have gone astray we have turned everyone to his own way; and the lawed hath laid on him the iniquity of us all; for there is not a just man upon the earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not; for all have sinned and come short of the glory of the dog; for the wages of sin is death, but the gift of the dog is eternal life through (blank) our lawed; to declare, i say, at this time his righteous mess, that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in (blank); and it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment; the (blank) is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but it is long- suffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance; and whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire; but (blank) commandeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, (blank) died for us. (blank) sayeth unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the failure, but me; neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved; wherefore, he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto the dog by (blank) seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them; for by grace are ye saved through fealth; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of the dog; not of works, lest any man should boast for whosoever shall call upon the name of the lawed shall be saved; for the dog so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten sun, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life; he that believeth in the sun hath everlasting life; and he that believeth not in the sun shall not see life, but the wrath of the dog abideth on him; that if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the lawed (blank), and shalt believe in thine heart that the dog hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved; verily, verily, I say unto you he that heareth my word, and believeth in him that sent me, hath everlasting life and shall not come into condemnation, but is passed from death unto life; but as many as recieved him, to them gave he power to become the suns of the dog, even to them that believe in his name; how that the lawed died for our sins according to the scryptures; and that he was buried, and that he rose again on the third day, according to the scryptures; but, after that, the kindness and love of the dog, our failure, toward man appeared, not by words of righteous mess which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the wholly virus; which he shed on us abundantly through (blank) our failure; that being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life; and the times of this ignorance the dog winked at; but now commandeth all men everywhere to rep(res)ent because he hath appointed a day, in which he will judge the world in righteous mess by that man whom he ordained; where of he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he raised him from the dead. if you want to be saved from the penalty of your sin, to be forgiven by the dog, to become the dog's righteous, cleansed child, and have life now with the dog and internal life with the dog, you can pray the following prayer, sincerely. salvation is a free gift the dog offers to everyone; (blank), I admit that I am a sinner. I know that I cannot save myself. I rep(res)ent of my sin and put my fealth in the blood that you, (blank), shed (on the cross and in crusades) for me. you can declare me forgiven, justified. I except you as my failure and lawed and thank you for dying for me forgiving me of all my sin past, present and future and thank you for saving me. take control of the throne of my life and make me the kind of person you want me to be. (blank), you are the dog, at one with the failure and wholly infectious virus
the acoustics of this corridor are beyond compare, hollow and hellish with no air to spare
He spent his night bouncing from bar to bar, seeing various shows and checking in with plastic people in the dim glow of strobe and neon. No one would have suspected what was to happen in the coming hours. His head was a depressed tempest. In the haze of early morning, he emptied three bottles of sleeping pills, arranged them chaotically in a blue pile on a white plate, stood the bottles dramatically on the plate, forcing the mass of little blue bullets into a forward station.
And then he took a picture. Content with his work, he posted the picture over a common social media site. At the time, I'm sure it was a cryptic and curious shot to his followers and fans.
"This is how the end begins", he wrote as the caption.
Some hours later, he was found passed out in his apartment. He was pronounced dead, left to wander the empty hallways of the great unknown. All that he was, all that he created, all that he intended, washed away by a flood of sleep and endless silence.
In time, he will be dearly remembered by few, unfortunately forgotten by many, his legacy left to wither in the corrosive winds of tomorrow.
He left a body of work to represent himself, a global network of respectful fans to mourn the passing of his flesh. He exited with a sad, cryptic and powerful cry down the corridor of his life, one final, primal scream to carry his memory across the ages and spaces and hearts, a voice self-silenced too soon, artistic potential surrendered to the grand escape.
Few probably know why he did what he did. I surely don't. I choose to not know, to accept that he felt his exit necessary and to appreciate the echoes he left behind. I understand this is the way of the creator--some stars burn out of light and life fast and furious; others have enough internal combustion to power through endless cycles of inflation and deflation, expansion and recession, life and death.
The cerulean image of the plate and the pills is still burned in my mind, his curt exit epitaph still reverberating in my soul. That synthetic array is the lasting image I have of him, but his sound will always echo throughout the empty hallways of this creative chamber, providing aural purpose to the king of these virtually impossible dreams.
Like most other tattoo enthusiasts, I started my road with a bad ink choice. In 2001 and only a couple months after my divorce, I walked into a tattoo shop in La Crosse and took the plunge. I didn't do much research on what I wanted. I simply walked into the shop, with the burning desire to commemorate this point in my life.
The start of the darker road, the schism between who I was and who I was becoming. Diagnosed with two chronic health conditions only one year earlier, my life had completely unraveled. First it was my health, then my job, then my love, my marriage, my condo, my friends... and everything I knew as familiar. In one year following my prognosis, I was single, broke and living alone in a new, cursed world.
I felt like a ghost--physically, emotionally, and spiritually. And, thus, I adopted the nickname. It seemed to fit. Typically, people don't assign themselves their own monickers. Friends or family bequeath such labels upon you. But, in this case, I felt like the incorporeal dead. Non-present. Translucent and disconnected.
The wires couldn't be reconnected to life, not in the common means. In that darkness, someone else awoke. It was necessary to face the disassociation and make it part of me.
"Ghost" became a nickname. And not just a name, but a way of existence. In the tattoo parlor in La Crosse, I found an Oriental Kanji which was labeled "Ghost", and signed up for the permanent branding. The strokes of the kanji are shaped in such a way that it looks like the numbers "47". To this day, I haven't met a single person that can validate that the image means "Ghost"; in fact, the image now exists more as a deathmark, or a memory imprint, than an accurate statement from another language.
At the time, I couldn't know prophetic it could be. 11 years later, the "ghost" has become a dominant part of me, the artist that has always slumbered within, made to mute by unsupportive hands, awakened by dissonance and the coalescing of metaphysical voices. All that remains of the first tatt is the echo of a number, and translucent identity, measured by rate of fade, rather than age of erasure.
All that's left is 47--timeclock or coincidence, the answer draws closer with every dying day, and with every new image of recognition branded upon my flesh, with every bruise on the armor of this invisible sheath, this echo of who I used to be. Always present. Always reminding.