I’m having tea on the patio at the quietest, most remote coffee shop I know in Austin. There’s a music venue next door that is usually quiet during the day, but it’s SXSW and music is crammed into every corner of the city. Literal near-perpetual screams are punching at the doors from the most punk band I have been this close to since I can remember. There are sudden, terrifying bursts of volume when someone exits the club (one guy just did that wearing clown makeup). My heart is pounding and I fear a stampede of buffalo is about to be surging from the roof overhead and smashing as a waterfall of giant boulders onto the car hoods in front of me. The people inside are exploding. I am picturing a modernity of a mosh pit where the dancers are bound into the center, trying to fight their way out. They are a firework. I catch a sentimental smell of beer and cigarettes with this disinfectant freshness like Sea Breeze. And then my website crashes and everything I have ever written has disappeared and there is the whopping chaos of desperation, punishing me for trying to do any single fucking thing on this
Earth (most awesome web developer on the planet fixed it lickety split, though it felt like an hour) but also the pleasure of abandon and relinquishing all of it, letting it burn to the ground. When the waitress brought me my tea, I roar-screamed “Thaaank yoooouuu” at her and she splashed part of my drink on the ground and then laughed. I think if I screamed at the top of my lungs for a year, I would not be able to use up all of my anger. But I understand the desire to try.
This club reminds me of being twenty in Houston and trying to be as cool and tough as my friend Thad and also that time that Lynn Bromberg asked me to the Love and Rockets concert at Numbers. Jane’s Addiction opened for them and a woman yelled out “show us your dick!”. Perry Farrell did a fake flash using a microphone as surrogate and that was it, but then fifteen minutes later whipped out his real cock-a-doodle-doo all slow and cool-like during a ballad of sweet sadness. It was a delayed gratification we didn’t know we were waiting for and he owned us all with that aggression. It was spectacular and one of the most vivid performance moments of my life.
I am angry a lot. It’s a part of my DNA. I 80% like my anger and I am generally not scared by the anger of other people. Just like any emotion, I do my work to make sure that I channel it into the most constructive outlet I can. If I ever run into a problem with it, it’s usually from someone who wants me to change and be a different person. I definitely get mad at myself. My anger is at its highest when I’ve been doing the thing I wish I wasn’t doing long enough for it to cause pain and I get so fed up with the brevity of life, that I explode and burn up. Sometimes, like a Phoenix, is the only way to truly change.
When I think back to my 20’s in Houston, I didn’t have the bravery to live this intense feeling of rage. I certainly had the opportunities to fully act it out and surrounded myself with people who were living it for me and pushing me however they could. I loved being around them. I think I lived that part of myself out through my friends in the way that I live out my own exhibitionism through the models I work with in my photography. But it felt too dangerous at the time to really go there and spent much of my time as the hyper-adult amongst hooligans…something that served me as a professional in life for sure. There was also an idealist in me who thought that through my own drive and creativity, I would change the world and the utopia I constructed in my mind would be possible through hard work. I’m pissed off at my idealism today and the holes that it buried me in. I hold defensively to my anger and treasure it as a barometer and boundary. People have taken advantage of my kindness as if it were a weakness. People have taken for granted my willingness to do everything it takes and my anger lets me know that I am ready for that period of life to be over with. I am enraged by injustice and people behaving unconsciously in a way that affects other people badly. I am passionate about these things and my anger gives me the hot coals of energy to do something about them. Because apathy makes me mad too.