a visit from tubbs

The plan was to blog this evening. But then the phone rang. It was Tubbs. He was passing through town and wanted to say hello. He lives in Brooklyn now. Hed just driven the twelve hours back to Michigan to pick up some art supplies and other things that hed been storing at a friends place.

I told him to come on over. I built a fire and put some beers in the fridge Then, when he got here, we sat around drinking, playing with the dog, and talking about the New York art scene. It was good.

When we first met, Tubbs was just a scrawny kid with a mohawk in a Skinny Puppy t-shirt. My boss at the pizza shop told me to teach him how to make pizzas. I remember being offended. I, like all the other pizza-makers, had to start by working the line, on the other side of the restaurant, making burgers, working the deep-fryer, cooking eggs, cleaning grease traps, and doing all the other shitty work there was to be done. Making pizzas was a promotion. In my world back then, it was like having a corner office. I’d worked hard and I’d reached the top. I didnt like that an upstart like Tubbs could just saunter in off the street and start on my level.

(I didnt mean to go off on that tangent I guess I might still have some pent-up anger over that. Maybe I should talk to someone about it.)

A year or so after meeting Tubbs, we decided to form a band together. The band was called Yeti Load. Tubbs beat on big, industrial-sized pickle buckets with spoons and sticks. None of us were that good. As I recall, we just yelled a lot and tried to annoy people. (One time, someone at a party sprayed us with mace as we were playing.) Tubbs was different from the rest of us in that he really believed in what we were doing. He was dedicated. And, unlike the rest of us, he wasnt embarrassed. I remember he painted Yeti Load on the side of his van a van which, just a few weeks later, would be abandoned on a highway outside of Detroit.

Now, Tubbs is older and wiser, but hes still painting on the sides of vans. I just took this shot outside. Its a new millennium, a new van and a new message.

Tubbs lived in this van off and on for the past few years. Hed spend his summers in New York. He used to set up shop on a street corner, paint and sell paintings.

One night I just happened to be in New York, walking down the street with some friends and we noticed Tubbs and his girlfriend sitting in the front seats of the van, sleeping. We knocked on their windows and chatted for a while. I remember being envious of him, his freedom, and his willingness to take risks.

I will write more about Tubbs later. (After I finish telling you about New Orleans.) Now I need to sleep though If youd like to see some of his work, just read the van and go to Tubbs Gallery dot com.

I told him that Id pay him $5 a year if hed paint Mark Maynard dot com on the other side of the van. Well see what happens.

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