The Trickster Diaries/Chapter 78
Hanging with Jones was always—ALWAYS—a far more exhilarating and fulfilling experience than hanging with anyone else. El, my mentor at SMC, ran a close second because, as an artist and an intellectual, she viewed the world from the top branch of the tallest tree on the highest mountain. A place few others felt safe even knowing about.
Jones and I danced around in even more deserted terrain. Our monthly trips down the hill to Palm Desert, (to In & Out Burger and Trader Joe’s, specifically), had the quality of two Zen monks being cut loose from the monastery and dropped in Las Vegas for the day.
Jones, aside from his real life adventures in ashrams in L.A., upstate New York and elsewhere, was the best artist I’d ever known. His work could stop you dead in your tracks, then rearrange your brain chemistry. Yet, like me, his path to relative contentment hadn’t taken the predictable course. Our work existed in almost total obscurity. It wasn’t happy enough. It contained an element of mockery and, well, turns out most people don’t enjoy having their brain chemisty rearranged.
So he was delighted to hear my new friend, Juliette, had found a way in, a brilliantly friendly, even comical approach through her GIF art. I told him I’d send him an Ello invitation and he could see for himself.
“OK,” he said, looking straight ahead, hands on the wheel, “I’d like that, except I doubt I’ll be having the same experience as you.”
Jones: You’re in love with her, man.
It was the first time someone had just come right out and said it, though no doubt Liz, queen of romance, had guessed, or wished. I felt oddly stunned. And ashamed, somehow—like a kid caught going through mommy’s purse.
Me: Not online. Please, dear god, not online.
Jones: If I were you, amigo, I’d make two columns. In one you list everything you know for sure. In the other, everything you don’t know.
Me: Yeah. I get it. The “know” column would be blank. It’s no good. You’re right. Fact is, just two or three days ago I commented on a new canvas by a woman from the Canary Islands. Gorgeous piece. Negative space just as interesting as foreground. Subtle, contrasting colors. Black outlines. One of those rare pieces, really, where your eye wanders forever, then returns to the place it began, you know?
Jones: I do. Of course I do.
Me: Then Juliette, from out of nowhere, comments on my comment. I comment on hers. She comments back, so on. And it was so fucking close to standing in an art gallery with her it hurt. It seriously hurt because I wanted to feel her leaning on me, whispering those words in my ear.
Jones: (Throwing his happy bald head around, slapping the steering wheel with his right hand) But there’s no sound except you hitting the keyboard.
Me: Right. (Laughing) No sound, no touch, no smell, no nothing. Or not enough of something, you know? So after her last comment I write: “May I buy you an espresso? A croissant perhaps? Must be a nice cafe around here.” And…
Jones: Let me guess: no reply.
Me: Poof. Gone.
Jones: You broke the spell, man. But who knows, really? Who the fuck knows?