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Name: johnathon arrow
Bio: why do you want to know?
Photos: arrow's photo libraries
New York, New York ( 15th Jan, 2006 )
Across the Belly of the Beast ( 15th Jan, 2006 )
Broken Hearts and Lost Souls ( 15th Jan, 2006 )
Akira's Semen ( 17th Aug, 2005 )
let me tell you a story ( 7th Jul, 2005 )
Rest and Motion ( 11th Jun, 2005 )
chaos engines ( 8th Mar, 2005 )
So I'm an Art Dealer now...
I'm living in Manhattan selling 'original' prints of Alex Grey through a New York visionary art collector whose name is not Anna, but that's what I'll call her.
She wasn't in town when I arrived, but contacts me on my cell as soon as she gets back into the country. A few hours later we meet up in Central Park and spend the afternoon wandering the green heart of Manhattan beset on all sides by the towers of apartments and business.
Anna is only a prt-time art dealer she tells me, mostly she works as a trader on Wall Street for a select clientele. She looks the part in her power dressing corporate uniform threads - except, that is, for the long dreads that roll down her back and the designer embroidered plants on her suit (which she lets me know is hemp). Her skin is a dark brown, which she tells me is a mix of African and Irish bloodlines. Sass and soul. A funky woman indeed.
She apologises that she wasn't in town when I got here as arranged with Tao, but she'd been on a waiting list to go to the Galapogas Islands for two years, and couldn't pass up the opportunity to visit one of the only completely untouched wildlife reserves in the world. A place so unique in it's flora and fauna that Charles Darwin purportedly developed his theory of evolution while exploring it's landscape.
She smiles conspiratorially, it was also the best place possible to take some prospective clients to help convince them to invest in some major eco-tourism franchise which is in the works.
She winks at me as she says this; yep, she's a capitalist alright.
But Anna is not that simple, which is probably why Im here in Central Park with looking at a book of Alex Grey prints and discussing stock options...
I ask her about how she got involved in the stockmarket and she tells me she did it to get rich, plain and simple. But, she continues, with the express purpose that once rich she would have more ability to be able to change the world once she acquired money.
"That sounds like classic libertarian philsophy" I tell her. "The individual over the collective. Totally American."
She laughs, and tells me she's Canadian. But I'm right, it is an America that perfected capitalism. And capitalism is all based on the individual over the collective. But it gets more complicated, of course.
"Money is a liquid energy." she tells me matter of factly in her slight Canadian accent "It's the most malleable substance in the world because it can transform into almost anything. It is water. The art of economics is understanding the energy currents through the world, it's no coincidence we call it currency, is it? "
I tell her about my brother in Hong Kong and his currency speculation scam.
If I'd learnt anything from him, it was that this thing we call the global economy is a casino. Many people at the top have figured out how to skim the cream off the milk of the global economy. It's the classic scenario of how the rich get richer and poor get poorer, the kind of thing that got me outraged in the lead up to Seattle. It's funny though, after talking with Anna for one night I learnt more about economics than I did after years of anti-globalisation campaigning. Actually that's not quite true, I just learnt a whole side of it which I had never taken the time to learn properly - the inside.
"Do you realise how fundamentalist some people in this industry are?" she tells me suddenly, as if I've tapped a deep vein within her. They speak of free trade like it was the goddamn holy grail! Anyone who disagrees is a heretic, a luddite or just a communist. It's that simple to them. When they ran out of things to trade they started trading futures.. As in, they are selling the future from under us! So we decided to channel that kind of thinking into the Sustainable Futures Market."
But right now, we are still in the park.
Anna leans across to me and says "I like you Arrow, I wan't to let you in on something..."
She tells me the biggest secret that she knows.
It's called "Green Chips".
"Green chips are just as strong as Blue chips because they are based on the philosophies of sustainability - the new school of ecological economics. Paul Hawking's Next Industrial revolution is a growing reality. It just takes time to affect that kind of change in a society where everything needs to be redesigned."
Basically, as she describes it, she 'sells shares in the new paradigm'.
"The Dot Com Boom was a bubble based on the best dreams of the internet mixed and shaken with the best dreams of traders. It was a match made in heaven because it was all based on Virtual Reality, you see. The majority of international trading is based on a similar kind of virtual reality. It's illusion that is responsible for the global economic insanity- it wouldn't be possible any other way. My clients know this, and don't want any part in it. There's enough of them to make it happen too.. It's all about the critical mass. As soon as we make that shift over, we'll be ready for the shares to rise, but it wont be based on illusion, it will be based on sound economic, ecological, and moral theories. We can't go wrong."
It was a compelling argument.
I could see how she was able to convince investors.
In fact, I wanted to know more.
She told it to me straight:
"The wind turbine revolution is huge and it's only going to keep growing. Organics is the single largest growing industry in the world. The hydrogen economy? We call it the the hydrogen bomb, because when it drops on the economy it's going to be huge.. and you can bet your life the most conscious investors are all positioning themselves right now to reel in the profits when they do..
It's all changing Arrow, the trick is to ride the wave, y'know.
Paradigms shift one drop at a time. But that's how it's always been.
She hands me her business card.
It reads; 'Stockbroker for the Evolution."
As Anna puts it, the entire economy is currently dangling on the edge of a revolution in green technology, eco-technology, organic products, ethical consumerism, etc. She's been developing a strong clientele of wealthy US investors who see the writing on the wall, and post-New Orleans they don't think there is any point fucking about with the debate about climate change anymore. Everyone in the world knows this intuitively. The only people who are dragging their heels at it are those who have vested interest in the status quo of the current industrial/economic model.
"Unfortunately, that happens to be some of the most powerful people in the world..." she says. "Our job, is to woo them over, by common sense, and moral direction and economic incentives.."
A few days later at a dinner party in her apartment I meet a bunch of Anna's friends who are interested in the art I'm selling. They are an intriguing bunch of high rolling freaks dressed in total NY designer groove, sipping on organic wines and making jokes about the latest Wall Street or White House cock-up and all the sordid two degrees of separation inbetween. They were a mixed bag of organisers of numerous festivals around the East Coast, eco-resort owners with imaginative clientele, high profile artists and writers, and millionaires with a lot of time to explore their consciousness, i suppose. Intelligently, she doesn't drop any names, and neither will I. It's a hidden society for a reason. The point is, there I was with some serious movers and shakers who are all way past being switched on.
In fact, they are switching me on to a whole new dimension of the game.
I felt privileged to be in their company.
Later that night everyone's gone and we're sitting on the balcony of Anna's apartment, watching the slow crawl of dawn flirt with the night sky. From here we can see the two twin lights of Ground Zero, like electric ghosts beaming into the air. Flocks of birds circle them in huge numbers eating the insects they attract. It's quite a beautiful sight.
Anna tells me she was in town when the towers came down but ;ike most New Yorkers I've met, rather than make them more pro-war, September 11 actualy made them conscious of the need to make peace more than ever.
I ask her what it was like during the attacks. She takes a deep breath, as if to summon up the energy to tell the story again.
"All I can say is, it felt like the End of the World. The sky was black with clouds of dust. People were running and screaming. Drivers were leaving there car's behind because they couldn't move them fast enough. It was a total moment of Rapture."
I listen carefully, watching the birds in the twin beams of light, as if they were souls circling their grave now.
"The point is, I think the end of the world does not mean the end of everything. It's just the end of a certain paradigm. What it means is the beginning of a New World."
She's waving her hands around in front of her as she says this, like she's casting a spell. Down below us the lights of the car's are moving through the street like rivers of energy. The buildings are batteries, sparkling fallen stars, full to the brim with potential human energy. I realise she's a modern day energy worker. A healer of sorts, guiding the energy networks of the earth in various ways, as if all our powerlines and ethernet connections were meridians, just waiting for the right acupuncture points to be activated.
White magik and voodoo economics in the cooridoors of Wall Street.
That night we'd raised twenty thousand dollars from the sale of the prints. The next few weeks will be all about how to spend it, and Anna has instantly become my consultant of choice.
This is gonna get interesting.
In New York, I arrived broke as I had ever been in my life..
and New York is not a great place to be broke.
As it turns out, Tao's friend was away on a trip to the Galapogas islands for a week or something and so it is I'm left trying to find a safe place to lay my head in one of the most unforgiving cities in the world.
At first I revert to the safe but expensive backpackers hostels but my budget cannot afford even this. Quickly I fall in with some artist hobos living in a squat tenement tucked into the east side which they call 'the chateau'. I quickly find a kindred spirit in one of the hobos who calls himself Bodhi. He's a weathered delinquent with angel blue eyes and a propensity for beautiful and spontaneous poetry wherever he goes. He is clearly balancing precariously on the edge off genius and madness and he is obviously in a state of ecstatic gnosis as a result, but unfortunately this has not helped him carve a stable source of income in the material world. .
Then again, at this point, neither have I.
One night on the subway, surrounded by commuting businessmen, b-boys, faceless masses he declares to me New York to be a "desert filled with restless flowers."
"here in the overflowing waterfall of the end of time we can lose ourselves in the utter nothingness of the anonymous crowd.."
"The city is a machine which eats the birds and the bees!" he screams to the conmfused pedestrians of Time Square. "These billboards are omens from the corporate gods. They are telling you your mission is to create world peace!"
In his presence I feel like I am in the company of a latter day William Blake, high on the osmosis of crowd telepathy.
Bodhi takes me under his wing for a few nights and shows me the secret graffiti code language which gives you access to the cities invisible keys, squats here, codes which tells you to avoid the drugs and gangs, the police. Other graffiti tags let us know about where the best places are to glean food from thrown out dumpsters.
Huge amounts of food get thrown out in this city everyday, and the homeless have worked out ways to break the padlocks openn with industrial strength bolt cutters. I think this unofficial food distribution system must feed thousands every nighht.
As we get to know each other a bit better over the course of my week at The Chateau, Bodhi tells me how he came to be living like this. For some reason he starts his story with the moment he learnt to read auras from a magical book at the age of fifteen. Without a mentor, he says he never knew quite how to deal with this knowledge, and it made him slightly unstable.
Soon after he was medicated by his parents who were worried that he would never finish high school. He did, growing increasingly unstable as the cocktail of anti-depressants and his own visionary nature collided in battle for his soul. Eventually, he kicked the habit of civilisation and escaped the psychic prisons of suburbia, finding peace in the noise of the New York hubris. He's been in and out of mental asylums for a few years he tells me, and declares there are two differnet kinds of mentally ill people. Those which are cuckoo who don't know that they are insane and have completely lost themselves to whichever character ego they are able to latch onto, like a piece of wood at sea - and those who are tripping, who know they are tripping, but just can't turn off the trip. He tells me he was never cuckoo, he was always tripping, but wasn't the thing about cuckoos that they never knew they were cuckoo?
Anyway, somehow the proximity to other crazies made him gain enough insight into the nature of the schizopoetic brain structure to gain perspective on his own particular brand of consciousness.
One night while meditating in his room ("actually I was pretending to sleep, because the doctors don't trust patients who meditate as it illustrates a more advanced control of the mental faculties than they themselves inhabit.")
Anyway, he goes, whilst meditating he realised that the entire mental health system is a robotic sstrucutre devised by "anti-shamanic devils intent on supressing the naturally ecstatic inclinations of the collective soul".
"You see Arrow, society is a telepathic hypnosis machine" he told me. What we take for granted as normal is actually no more than the collective consensus of the group mind. Knowing this, how are we to decipher wether or not we are under the spell of some psychopathic tendency of self delusion such as the evidence of our own senses which are telling us that the world on a path to an environmental doomsday machine, or that everything is normal and we should just go about our day to day lives and act as if nothing is wrong in the face of, which is what the mainstream media seems to want us to believe.."
At the very least, he realised that sitting in these white boxes called hospitals was not going to help himself or the world, and so he got decided he needed to get the fuck out.
Very aware of the situation he had let himself fall into, Bodhi carefully hid his realisations from the 'white coats' and began a systematic deconstruction of the entire mental health system through an increasingly bizarre renunciation of every single inner truth he had ever uncovered in a bid to uncover their own freudian, cilivised pathologies. After a while he had figured out enough of the secret language codes inwhich they lived by to simply drop the right neurolinguistic keys into his interviews to convince them that he was no longer the possessor of visionary insight, but had reverted to a more mundane and monochrome shade of personality, which they somehow count as normal.
Two days later, Bodhi takes me to an art exhibition in a back alley of Soho, it's the best way to get free wine every night of the week... The art is a series of semi abstract, baconesque paintings of contemporary political personalities in intricately designed etchings of Kama Sutra poses with sadomasochistic imagery throughout.
One which caught my eyes in particular was a group orgy scene of Bush, Bin Laden, Cheney all fucking in a limousine with a whole bunch of oil executives beating off to the scene as if it were a theatre they were paying to see at peepshow.
It's titled, 'The Climate Change Coalition'
"Wow, it really turns me on.." a voice behind me utters.
I turn to see a startlingly beautiful middle aged woman with diamond earings and a backless dress standing next to me sipping provocatively at a martini. She introduces herself to me as Pearl, with the eyes of vixen she looks me over like predator. A woman who knows what she likes and gets what she wants.
'Really?" I concur, happy to play along.. "personally I prefer the tantric pictures of Bush fucking the world over there... it's so much more... sophisticated." My voice is heavy with sarcasm. I didn't really like the exhibition at all.
"To tell you the truth, I find all this politics so boring.." she tells me. "But Pierre is the best S&M artist in New York, so I wouldn't miss an opening for the world.'
"oh really?" said i.
" It's just so fucking fashionable now, what with all the war on terror.. and 911.. I'm just so tired of it all..'
'Well it's definately going for the shock value.." I say, focussing on the section where Bush is going down on a petrol pump held by Bin Laden. 'Perhaps people are becoming desensitised..."
'Of course, that's how S&M works you know.." she tells me drolly. "It's like a drug, you just keep needing more, to get the same.. high."
I'm intrigued by how much she's into S&M culture, and she tells me matter of factly she could take me to a number of clubs any night of the week. Something about her mischevious smile I find quite alluring, and so an hour later I find myself watching people get whipped in gimp uniforms in a dark club bathed in red lights and pumping to kitsch 1980's pop music. Cocaine lines choke the mirror table in front of us. A naked musclebound waiter in a mexican wrestlers uniform serves us champagne as Pearl plays with his erection.. I can't quite believe my eyes, at the whole scene. Utter decadence just blocks away from the utter poverty Iive been living in.
Pearl tells me her husband works for the banks, she says he's never at home, but when he is it doesn't help, he's impotent anyway.. With absolutely no guilt she tells she would leave him but she's grown 'accustomed to this lifestyle'..
She asks me if I would like to come back and see her Duchamp.
I smile, she's very cheeky. I like it.
An hour later we are back at her apartment, overlooking central park, drinking champagne on silken sheets.. as she seduces me, she turns over pictures by the bed of her husband shaking hands with Enron executives.
"He's harmless anyway..' she continues, explaining that even when he is in town they barely talk to each other, and then there's his impotence problem from working so hard. She suspects that he's probably getting involved in some beastly sex tourism while he's always away, and when he returns a normal sex life just doesn't cut it.
Pearl entertains herself with a series of flings with young men she finds around New York.. She is the utter embodiment of a New York dilettante. Rich, expensive tastes, ensonced in the art 'scene', she's recently been delving in the S&M scene as she gets more and more bored...
After two days as a sex prisoner in Pearls apartment I escaped and made my way back to The Chateua where Bodhi let me in with a sly smile, he saw the whole pick up... He sits me down and makes me green tea and I impart the story of my last 48 hours with him.
I find it bizzare that within twenty minutes I've travelled from the elite apartment to the abject poverty of the bohemian New York underbelly. And the weirdest part is, it barely seems to phase me.
That night on the roof of the chateau I take another bite of Alex Grey and look over the glittering caves of Gotham City.
I descend through a ladder to find Bodhi in his studio, painting large canvasses splashed with petroleum onto which he is intently flicking blood that he has imported from iraqi bloodbanks. He tells me these aren't artpieces, they will never sit in galleries to be paraded over by art dealers and wealthy collectors. They are religious artefacts downloaded from the future. As he speaks, like a man possessed, i notice his eyes welling up with liquid, as though the truth of what he is saying inspires the proximity of tears.
He tells me I should sit and meditate in front of them..
I do so, sitting close enough so that the canvas completely fills up my field of vision.
As if that wasn't enough, Bodhi runs to the stereo and places in the spinning disc of Slipknot, the hardcore metal band who have perfected the art of funneling aggresive male testosterone and canned DNA of rage into the musical form, which Bodhi whispers into my ear that this music is being subjected to incarcerated and sensorially deprivation to detainees at Guantanamo bay as form of sonic water torture.. Within minutes of this bizarre audio visual cocktail he has me in tears, bursting with empathy for the open wounds of the planet, forcing me to connect with this ongoing tragedy which I had all but forgotten in my endless movement and travelling. .. Im crying, because for all this fucking knowledge I still don't know what to actually do with it,
"What's the fucking point of torturing yourself with this knowledge when we are powerless to prevent it!!!" I scream, bursting with anger at my own impotence. Angry at Bodhi for pulling me into the dark world of activist angst which I had all but forgotten..
Bodhi stares at me in the face, crouches in front of me and says.
"Arrow, you asked for this. You have been asking mme for this since we met. You keep telling me you are lost and seeking direction. You want something to connect to, something to make sense of it all. Something to ground you. Well here you fucking are. Stare at this shit until it drives you insane and you want to tear down the facades of every person you meet and the walls within yourself crumble down and then keep staring at it all you see is blood and oil and you want to blow up cars and courts of law and the blood will flow through these streets like open veins and the anger will consume you and then keep staring at it until you realise that that will only cause more bloodshed and the oil will still be burning and you will be dead, or in prison and you will still know that nothing has changed, and keep staring at it, until you realise that the only way to come to peace with all of this is to act upon it with love. That is what is going on in this world.
We are going mad fighting over ancient sunlight that we know will scar the heavens and melt the ice, we're retracing on a path to the end of the world and medicating ourselves with media and drugs and toys and endless sex..
it's a destructive relationship which we keep returning to..
No one want to stare at it all.
Do you want to look away now?
Am i getting under your fucking skin?
Who will mourn the extinction of insects and birds in this city where the only nature you find are cockroaches crawling through the crumbling stones caves.
These are all cages I'm showing you.
Booby traps for your consciousness to get caught in.
We are dominated by cubes in a universe that is made of spheres.
The moon is the only reminder because the sun is too honest and it will blind us with illumination if we where to look, so we can only understand it's perfection by peeking at mirrors that lie to us and tell us what we want to hear.
Death and plastic surgery.
Skulls underneath the skin.
and they want to know:
Do you love her??
What do you love??
What would you die for?
What are you doing with your life?
Why are we alive??