After Hours (The 2nd Movement in a Minor Life)

The lights of the Williamsburg Bridge started flying at me in this motherfucker of a Pink Floyd slide show narrated by my own thoughts.

Art by Alex Israel

 

Did you ever notice how when a person is drifting in and out of consciousness, you can feel their eyes? Looking directly through your soul, judging you and making you feel incomplete as a person. My mother was on her deathbed and I was filled with caveat’s of the future and the past with every breath I thought was her last. 

In a room full of the soulless and weak that included my father and his inane predictions for our jumbled lives, I didn’t need to hear these backroom indulgences that he so favored. Gamblers don’t make for good men, and I know that now. The walls were closing in on me and I felt superstitious about trying to move, trying to feel anything. I wanted to be with my mother at this moment and I knew I couldn’t, her health wasn’t a factor anymore. My mental stability was at stake here and I wasn’t selling it down the river for anyone… My mother would understand. I quickly threw my arms into the sleeves of my rat worn and tattered blazer, trying to jettison across the room, my father quickly yelled out:

 

Art by Oscar Murillo

 

“Where are you going?”

“Can’t stay here.”

“Why?”

“She doesn’t need me now.”

“So you’re going to Bet Your Last Dollar, huh?”

“Seems that way.”

 

Art by Derrick Adams

 

I walked over to my mother and she looked at me. I don’t know if she knew who I was at that point. Well that made two of us, huh? Her eyes were watching me from every angle; it was a feast of sensory proportions that I couldn’t handle. I kissed her forehead and uttered “Non ci è destra o sbagliato solo la verità.” I walked out of the room in search of something new.

I was on the train and I saw this beautiful woman who was sitting by herself. She had an enchanting beauty of a creature that you only saw on porn sites. I felt like she was well read, because, well, she was reading. I went over to her and tried to start a conversation. It was extremely late in the evening, which made me wonder why she was even riding the J train. She wasn’t having it, she was focused, transfixed in this beautiful way.

“My mother is dying tonight.”

 

Art by Ellen Berkenblit

 

She said nothing, she just handed me what looked like a small medicine dropper with this black bottle with only an ounce or so of liquid left. This woman went back to her book, and I got off at the Bowery. I was looking through the window of the bowery ballroom to see who was playing. As usual, it was garbage, and it angered me so. I had to put my fist through the glass, I shattered the spectacle of bullshit into a few pieces, blood was coming out of my knuckles and fingers. Calm down motherfucker, hold it in, feel the vapors. I needed to know what this woman in that miniskirt on the train was giving me in the little black bottle. I took the whole bottle, fuck the dropper. Fuck everything. Fuck you.

I started walking towards the Starbucks on Delancey St. It wasn’t open, but I felt the need to piss all over it. I just took my cock out and at first I let it dangle there, just staring at it angrily at first. With bloody hand, I streamed a stream of difference, I screamed out:

“This one is for you mom.”

 

Art by Kerry James Marshall

 

Minutes were passing by and I was still pissing, I was still in this momentary euphoria that was lasting for what seemed like hours. The lights of the Williamsburg Bridge started flying at me in this motherfucker of a Pink Floyd slide show narrated by my own thoughts. They were bellowing out, “Go to the Bowery, it’s all on the Bowery.”

I started walking that way and my feet were pools of oil that were spelling out the names of countries we invaded for that Texas Tea. I got to Prince and Bowery and I saw that these gates that were pulled down were telling me something, they were all speaking mystical shit, one gate nearer to Spring was saying “Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah”. I heard Phillip Glass saying this to me, I promptly threw up my guts next to a homeless man who looked like John Fahey. I started running north the bats were coming at me now, and I didn’t know what I could do. I saw a mother breast-feeding her child and the kid turned in to the devil right before my eyes.

 

Art by Adam Pendleton

 

“I knew the devil ate our women’s tits”, I moaned as I kept it moving. There was another downed gate that read: “Bet your Last Money”. That was my father’s favorite expression, and I wanted to call him to tell him, but fuck him, I knew where I was. Trees were sprouting, it was April 30th going into May 1st and the homeless were becoming trees and fire hydrants and restaurants no one was eating in. I almost made it up to Houston and the gates were coming more and more furiously in my mind. Two faces were eating each other near Prince Street, there was some sort of Colombian code, words where everywhere, religion and the feeling of helplessness… The gate that led me to Houston St was “The Eyes”. I saw my mother’s eyes on a gate and I had to walk up to it, I had to feel it, I took a nap next to it, people started throwing quarters at me, I woke up and I licked this gate furiously and asked it questions like:

 

Art by Sylvie Fleur

 

“Why did I become this person?”

“Did you phone it in towards the end?”

A text message came in from my girlfriend who had just gotten to the hospital, the words were everywhere, I didn’t know if I was a gate, if I was one of the beautiful constellations in a galaxy full of burnt out stars. Jim Jarmusch walked past me on the Bowery and I couldn’t read straight. She asked if I was coming because my mother was dying. Those words transported me back to a reality that I hadn’t known in quite some time. I was at ease, and I was in tune with myself. With those quarters those fat cats threw at me, I knew I had to get myself a coffee. I walked back down the Bowery, back towards the J train, back towards the reality of my mother whom I wouldn’t see or talk to again after the next few hours.

 

Art by Mel Bochner

 

I walked past a gate that said “Miniskirts are back” in bright bold letters and I just smiled and laughed. Felt that someone finally understood that it might not be so bad to cross over to the other side. The peace that came over me at that moment was unreal, a serine symphony of life and love.

I got back to the hospital to find that my mother had waited for me to die, she was taking her last breaths as I walked into the funeral parlor that was her hospital room. I brushed the flowers and brambles that came with them aside. She was crying, I was crying.

“Mom, mom I hope your journey is as enlightening as mine was. Sleep easy.”

She left us at 4:43 in the AM, May 1, 2013.

 

Art by Daniel Buren

 

Art Production Fund (APF) and the New Museum are pleased to present “After Hours 2: Murals on the Bowery” in conjunction with the 2013 IDEAS CITY Festival. For the second edition of this popular and critically acclaimed public art project, APF selected fourteen artists and one artist from an open-call submission to design site-specific murals for the steel roller shutters of commercial supply shops lining the Bowery, between East Houston and Grand Streets. “After Hours 2: Murals on the Bowery” celebrates the legendarily vibrant downtown cultural community and aims to reinstate the sense of freedom and accessibility that originally drew artists to the area. Each mural is a response to the neighborhood in its historical and contemporary context.

 

Art by Mel Bochner

 

Art by Dana Schutz

 

Art by Nao Uda