Why Are You Here???

St. MIke at Cosmo Street, 1969.

Back at Cosmo Street, when St. Mike uttered those now-infamous words, “Why are you here?”, newcomers would brighten up, and old-timers would groan, “Not again.”, and that’s where they were wrong.

Of course, again.

Repetition is the key to the mysteries. Only when the initial novelty has worn off can one actually penetrate into any order of knowledge.

In short, you gotta do it a million times just to get the rhythm.

Why you are here is not a casual question, nor is it all-inclusive. In that particular case, it meant, “Why are you on Earth in a human incarnation?”

You should have some idea of what you’re trying to do with your lifetime, other than just spend it on vacation, on a continual quest for absence of pain and persistence of pleasure.

Basically, that’s what a paramecium does all day long.

Our coppersmithing shop at the Thieves’ Market in West LA, 1973.

Okay, so where that should leave you is in a place where you start striving to group up, to join a team, to rise above the rat-race of organic life and get some serious conscious co-dependency happening, with all the trust issues and xenophobia and all that jazz to wade past, and through.

For many years now, I’ve patiently sat back waiting for people to come to it by themselves that the marketplace is the place of learning, of sharing and of tolerance.

It’s in the marketplace that you learn to not be selfish, not be mean, not be ignorant and superstitious, and most importantly, to learn to give more than you get.

If you came to Planet Earth to get something, you’re out of luck.

Sharing and giving and contributing are the keys to success in life. Anything short of that, you end up holding a handful of dust.

So now that we have a gallery again, I’m stepping in to make my point.

Right from the very beginning, I’ve always advocated a shop, a bakery, a restaurant or a fashion mart.

Jimmy was my next-door neighbor on Roth Dell Trail.

Jim Morrison lived right next door on Roth Dell in the canyon where Jan and I lived for a short while until we moved into Norton Street, and we were often treated to the “first groanings” of their band, “The Doors”, about which I knew nothing at the time.

My group, “The L.A. Warlocks”, had disbanded by 1969, and Jerry had changed his band name to “Grateful Dead”, so rather than have two “Warlocks” bands, we had exactly none.

The School always manifested within the scope and range of the local marketplace. Sometimes we were a bookstore, sometimes a jewelry shop, sometimes an art gallery, and sometimes a thieves’ market of our very own, as we did at the Veteran’s Hall in Nevada City many years ago.

Many of those manifestations of The School have been in the form of what is commonly called a “Thieves’ Market”, which you’ll find on a major corporate level in Pasadena, California, and on a tribal level everywhere else in the world but the United States, which evidently aren’t particularly united, as the latest polls indicate, but that’s another issue entirely.

Meanwhile, while we’re waiting for the other shoe to drop, we might as well concentrate on the job at hand, which at this time happens to be a gallery.

Is it an art gallery?

That depends entirely on YOU. Not the all-inclusive “you”, but the individual you who is reading this right now.

Yes, you.

Really, it’s a Thieves’ Market, because each artist will have his or her own special and quite unique area within the admittedly tiny gallery space.

Here’s the kind of stuff that’s hard to sell online, but easy to sell in person.

Everything in there will be geared toward the Tiny House, including miniatures of all kinds, and very high-end small art will be a feature.

You will be able to spend upwards of $35,000 for a treasure to display in your $125,000 tiny house.

How can you spend that much on a thing like that? Oh, don’t get me started.

I’m very willing and quite able to design one of those things, and I can guarantee that I can make one of those tiny houses worth more than a million bucks, if I’m allowed to incorporate artwork into the deal.

Of course, I can go completely off the deep end of the artworld and decorate a tiny house with literally billions of dollars worth of miniature art, everything from Islamic ivory to an original watercolor painted by Queen Victoria and another by Winston Churchill.

But how does this all fit in with your wish to transcend organic life and take your place in the Great Work?

Okay, imagine yourself to have just shown up at a mysterious monastery somewhere in the equally mysterious and unfathomable Far East, which means somewhere East of Brooklyn.

We’ll be able to host art and craft shows by celebrities, with signing parties when they’re in town.

So you walk up to the head muck-a-muck, and mention that you’re available for work.

The muck-a-muck will, quite rightly, tell you that you haven’t the chance of a snowball in Hell, unless you know how to conduct yourself honorably.

So he or she says to you, “You wish to join our Work?” — please note the capital inital on the word “Work” — it’s almost indistinguishable in verbal exchange, but shows up rather well in print, don’t you think?

Don’t bother answering — I already know what you’re going to say:

“How much is it?”

I’m glad you came up with that question, because it clearly indicates your readiness and willingness to support the Work while you’re learning it.

Wynton Marsalis and Jazz at Lincoln Center with my JazzArt backdrops in place.

Is it on-the-job training?

Not at first, it isn’t. You can’t be trusted to interact correctly and with the right distance from karma, so you’ll have to learn how to conduct yourself in the shop, but you can’t do that either, at first.

First step is to get yourself into the Marketplace, the Thieves’ Market, which manifests currently as “EJ Gallery”.

Not EJ’s Gallery, because it isn’t mine, nor would I want it to be.

It’s bad enough to have the accumulations that naturally occur over the years, and having more stuff is nowhere near my plan.

With a gallery space to show them, I’ll be making clocks again.

I travel light and improvise everything I need from what I find in the level, and I never assume I know where I am or what I’m doing there.

“Gorebagg da Lost” is not merely a gaming name — it’s a discipline and a tradition.

So the dialogue goes something like this, these days:

“I wish to join your Work.”

“Okay, that’ll cost ya a hundred bucks a month for your cubby space and another $30 bucks for your space in the Ashram, and if ya want ta have a full booth, it’s $200 bucks a month.”.

“But I don’t want to show things in a gallery. I’m not an artist.”

“That’s two different subjects. You can easily become an artist — it takes only a few hours to get the idea, and then years to master it completely, but you can be an artist, so that’s not the issue. It’s wanting to participate in the gallery, isn’t it?”

“Yeah, it just doesn’t interest me.”

“I  know what you mean, but that’s the drill. Get a space and fill it with something. The stuff you put in there will get better and better as your understanding deepens.”

Sculpture by Tom X will be offered at the gallery.

“Can I make money doing this?”

“Actually, you have to make some money, just to prove that your work belongs there, but the most important things to learn are how to get along with others, how to work as a team, and how to treat your customer fairly.”

“Is that all?”

“You show your ignorance with your question. Do you want a booth or not?”

Is there another way to enter the school? Sure, there is. You can ease yourself in with reading, listing to audio books and events, and watching the DVDs.

You can send for something occasionally.

There are things to watch on live camera, and workshops will be even more plentiful, now that we have ComCast internet, which means lightning-fast communication worldwide.

What actually happens with this process is that it establishes you with a definite space in the Marketplace.

One important aspect is that of “Taking Responsibility”, the first step in the struggle out of sleep.

This $8,500 Antoine Blanchard street scene is currently on display at EJ Gallery.

Taking responsibility for your space in the gallery means much more than just filling it up with the flotsam and jetsam of your local art junk pile.

There’s a lot more to it than just making and maybe selling art and crafts.

Your exhibit has to have a powerful internal logic to it. Convince me that you can hold a thought for more than a sparrow’s wink.

Consistency in the exhibit is one thing — making your exhibit jive copacetically with the other exhibits in the gallery space is quite another thing entirely.

Making it all work is the job of the team.

No one person can make any of this happen. I can suggest, but I can’t do for you what you can and must do for yourself.

YOU have to make the decision to enter into the marketplace.

It’s like entering the boxing or wrestling ring — once you agree to the match, you can’t back out, and once you enter the ring, it’s not over until the fat lady sings.

I know I’ll get email on that one, but it’s a reference to a ground-breaking but inconsequential Alan Arkin film which ripped off my Dad Horace’s 1940s wartime superhero, “Lieutenant Hercules”, the main character of which was only able to fly at an altitude of 15 feet.

There are so many opportunities for work when in the marketplace.

The Arkin film was released without credit to Lt. Hercules, under the title, “The Return of Captain Invincible”, a mistake as large and costly as “Adventures of Sherlock Holmes’ Smarter Brother” and “Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension”, both borrowing the same failure syndrome by not putting the subject first, as you’d do in all publicity, promotion and journalistic storytelling.

“Buckaroo Banzai” will search a whole lot better and faster and more clearly than “The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension”, which offers so many potential snares and traps for the inelegant browser.

Think of the gallery as a learning tank.

There are so many wine tasting rooms in town, perhaps this painting will sell.

You enter into the tank with no idea of the potential, just an experience to be experienced, something attractive and warm and inviting to walk into, but NOT seductive, at least not seductive in the ordinary “glitzy glitter” sort of way.

Sure, there’s glitz and glitter, but not set as a trap. The glitz and glitter come somewhat naturally as a result of what we might call “typical gallery lighting”.

This round-the-gallery track lighting system is enhanced, if that’s the right word for it, by fluorescent light fixtures that brighten up the room like it’s outdoors.

There are windows all around and rather than try to lean on the “New York Gallery” side, we’re going to use those windows to clear advantage by installing some greenery in the space.

Feng Shui is hard to sell online. You have to FEEL it, experience its tangible benefits, before you’ll commit to doing something in your home to balance and harmonize and energize the space.

Andy Warhol Drowning in Can of Campbell’s Soup, by E.J. Gold, on sale for only $38,500.

Fitting yourself into the group is another challenge that provides you with the clues and situation and necessity you’ll need to expand beyond your own temporary personal identity.

To expand beyond yourself, your family and your circle of friends, however large and important that might be, is an experience beyond explanation.

You become part of an international group by taking responsibility for your part in that space.

All of a sudden, it’s important how much we pay for lighting, heating, parking spaces, advertising, professional cleaning crew, window services, bathroom maintenance, hall carpeting and painting, and much, much more.

It becomes an item of interest that there were no shoppers on the street yesterday — too damned cold.

Nobody wants to stroll about window shopping when an icy wind is blowing in your face, and that’s what it was like in Nevada City yesterday.

Today, it might be raining, and please note that when it’s raining elsewhere, it’s generally snowing in Nevada City — it has some elevation, which you’ll notice on any drive from the valley up into the foothills.

Think of the gallery as an Art Ashram, and you’ll get it.

See You At The Top!!!