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Date: May 26, 2009

My friend JJ

Many readers of this site know or have met JJ. He has been yutzing around South America for about six months now, stopping occasionally to send me delightful missives about his travels and adventures and women. He is incredible. A burgeoning legend in his own mind. The perfect guy to get into trouble with. Never too stressed out. Always down for a good time. I’m pretty sure that everyone has a JJ in their life. If you don’t, see about getting yourself one. You’ll be better for it.

A few days ago, JJ sent me a Word document that effectively sums up who he is. It’s written exactly like he speaks. Here it is, unedited, unabated.

Just like children hidin’ in a closet
Can’t tell what’s goin’ on outside
Sometimes we’re so far off the beaten track
We’ll get taken for a ride
GNR Estranged

So let me tell you about the best fucking day of my life. I was walking completly shitskied in Buenos Aires just wasting a little time. As i head out of the apartment in Villia Crespo i look to my left and see a lady in a tank top holding a 3 foot long steel pipe like a baseball bat. Then i take two steps forward and skinny scrapy looking cat with a jacket rapped around his left arm and a butchers knife in his right. I stood there about 30 feet away and thought,

But there ain’t no peace to found
But if someone really cared
Well they’d take the time to spare
A moment to try and understand
Another one’s despair
Remember in this game we call life
That no one said it’s fair
GNR Breakdown

“What we’ve got here is failure to communicate.
Some men you just can’t reach…
So, you get what we had here last week,
which is the way he wants it!
Well, he gets it!
N’ I don’t like it any more than you men.”
GNR Civil War

I mean fuck you dont see this shit every day. The ladies hair was a complete mess and she was yelling at the top of her lungs. She kept lunging forward but then stepping back, and he would do the same. Next thing i know she takes a swing at him. Let me tell you something she has swung this pipe before because if she would have made contact with a baseball it would have been a home fucking run. Anyways the guy jumps back and she takes two quick steps backwards. The guy then scrapes his knife against the ground, it was fucking the craziest shit. Then the two guys come running out from a side street, one goes behind the lady to her right and the other to the left. I mean this shit was getting crazy and there was no fucking way i was going to do shit about it.

Look at your young men fighting
Look at your women crying
Look at your young men dying
The way they’ve always done before

Look at the hate we’re breeding
Look at the fear we’re feeding
Look at the lives we’re leading
The way we’ve always done before

So i dont know what the fuck to do but watch and be ready to run if the shit really hits the fan. My girl friend grabs me and says “Lets get out of here, JJ. Now!” So i take off down the street going the opposite thinking “holy shit”.

I don’t need one more war
Whats so civil ’bout war anyway
GNR Civil War

So we get two blocks away and raceing down the street are the Policia. They were flying and rounded the corner at mock speeds, and you could hear the tires screaming. Once i saw the police car i could help but think of the begining of Guns n Roses – Breakdown where Axl is whistleing.

I mean think about it, “Welcome to the Jungle”, what other band would run through your mind.

So fuck it i am blown away at the chaos and slowly start to realize that i drank a little too much booze the night before. But fuck it right i dug my own grave and shouldnt bitch. I start walking through this flea bag market at Parque Centenario just looking at all the grabage. Well actually i was looking for a new shirt because all of my shirts are ripped. Anyways i get to this one booth and start looking through stuff that was obviously found in a trash can. Then out of now where i here music in my head,

Loaded like a freight train
Flyin’ like an aeroplane
Feelin’ like a space brain
One more time tonight
GNR Nightrain

Then i look at this leather jacket and i found the most amazing gem in a biggest pile of shit. I mean you would never believe how fucking amazing this jacket is. This jacket is aged to perfection, someone treated this jacket well. You can tell they went to see GNR live in Buenos Aires July 17, 1993. On the back is the GNR logo with the two guns wraped with roses. So i try this prized piece on and the thing is too fucking small.

He said turn me around
And take me back to the start
I must be losing my mind
“Are you blind?!”
I’ve seen it all a mllion times

I want to go
I want to know
Oh, won’t you please take me home

I want to see
Oh, look at me
Oh, won’t you please take me home
GNR Paradise City

We go to grab a bite to eat and the thought of this jacket was killing me. I get the menu and open and say “I am getting the fucking GNR jacket”. That was it ate some food ran back to the booth. When i walked up it wasnt there, but the lady put it away because she knew that i would be back. So i dished over the money and fucking embraced this coat with so much love. I put the coat on and from moment on i knew noone was going to fuck with me.

Well I’m a west coast struttin’
One bad mother
Got a rattlesnake suitcase
Under my arm
Said I’m a mean machine
Been drinkin’ gasoline
And honey you can make my motor hum
Well I got one chance left
In a nine live cat
I got a dog eat dog sly smile
I got a Molotov cocktail with a match to go
I smoke my cigarette with style
An I can tell you honey
You can make my money tonight
GNR Nightrain

Sorry i am getting side tracked here while listening to GNR while rocking my new jacket. So i am walking home like my typical badass self and with a ¼ of Frutilla de Crema Helado and i pass these young babes. They were checking me out from head to tow. I mean they couldnt hold themselves back . I mean who could resist a man with ice cream and a G N fuckin R leather jacket. My confidence has just sky rocketed with how these babes where checking me out. I keep strutin my stuff and….

Take me down to the paradise city
Where the grass is green
And the girls are pretty
Take me home (Oh, won’t you please take me home)
GNR Paradise City

JJ Zambrano 24/5/2009
I have to thank the original line up of GNR for inspiring my life in so many ways.

Luckily for you, intrepid reader, JJ was thoughtful enough to send me a photograph of the jacket.
jj-gnr-1kwide

Wonderful.

A Life In Art – John Camp

I think this is an interesting article: “A Life in Art” By John Camp

This is a particularly inspired idea.

Of the successful artists I’ve known, I’d say that the two things that led to their success were compulsion (virtually to the extent of mental illness) to do the work, and the eventual ability to monetize the effort. Most of them never get that success—they’re finally ground down and give it up….

Both suggest that while inborn talent is of some utility, the thing that really determines success in the arts (or any other field) is simply doing it. Gladwell even suggests a standard: ten thousand hours. He suggests that if you work very hard a particular art form—art in the widest sense, including sports, music, law, medicine and so on—that you will begin to reach a mastery of it after 10,000 hours of hard work. That’s 40 hours a week (no cheating!) for five years, or 20 hours a week for ten.

Check it out. Camp has some interesting ideas about what makes an artist and what it takes to excel at your chosen craft, writing or photography or editing or whatever. It boils down, as he notes above, to being a little crazy about it. Food for thought.

But most artists tend to be somewhat reclusive, because of the “compulsion” and “10,000 hours of work” aspects of their lives. They’re not back-slappers, drink-buyers, hale-fellow types.

So selling can be one of the toughest hurdles for a real artist to clear, even those who put in their time, who are doing excellent work.

Hah! I am definitely a “back-slapper, drink-buyer, hale-fellow type”, often to the detriment of my creative pursuits. I guess I have that working for me…and against me.

Using CD players to stabilize things in SPACE!

Dude, science is so awesome. Thanks, NASA, for filling my Tuesday morning at work with awesome.