Poopert, It's Worth It.

I can not relate to you the entire story but I can slice you a thin piece of one of the more entertaining things that happened to me today. I will only tell you the necessary details. It's almost too good to tell.

I'm painting a woman's house with my brother-in-law. He is a fearless man. The woman we are painting for has had it with the carpenter who is working at the house. He is always complaining and rarely working. His name is Robert. The woman we are working for, Emily, is very picky. She left stickies all over the walls on spots she wanted touched up or spots that she was unhappy with. When we get to work, there is usually a piece of paper detailing our work for the day. It is written in a sharpie marker in a distinct script.

Two nights ago Emily called me to see what time I could be there the next morning. During our exchange, she asked me about Robert. She told me she had had it with him and she wanted to know if I knew of anyone else who could finish the job. She complained of his complaining and his lack of production and then, well she began to complain of his pooping. She is from China and her accent makes the word "poop" or the word "pooping" sound very funny. It may also be funny to hear the word used in such a serious way. She said that Robert pooped all over her new toilet and didn't clean it up. She said even her four year old knows better than to poop everywhere and not clean it up. Apparently she left him a note on the toilet yesterday that said, "We are not babies anymore Robert, we do not poop all over the place." He in turn left her a note saying that her note was very unprofessional and immature. I love when this stuff happens and I just get to watch. I could barely control my laughter while I was on the phone. I had it on speaker phone and my wife was listening in. I kept asking questions so that I could hear her say poop again seriously.

So, we arrive today and read our Sharpie scratched notes and begin our tasks as does Robert. When it is time for lunch Robert leaves. I was in a particularly saucy mood today. I had already wrapped electrical wire around the little hose sprayer that is usually to the right of your sink, so that when Robert turned on the sink he would get sprayed. In a stroke of genius I used an electrical wire scrap that the electricians had left behind as to pass the blame to them. While Robert was away, brilliance struck once again. I felt it was time for me to put my mastery of painting and drawing and knowledge of classical fine art to work. I perfectly forged a note in Emily's script that read,
Poop at home!! No pooping here!!

I ran to show my brother in law, who has an infectous giggle, and then quickly put the note on the toilet. Robert, (or Poopert as we had begun to call him through uncontrolable laughter every time it was uttered) as if it had been scripted, came home from lunch minutes later and headed straight for the pooper. 25 minutes later he emerged holding a note in his hand. Fear struck...

Tune in tomorrow for the conclusion of "Poopert, It's Worth It." I like the idea of a serial that leaves you in suspense.



Carnegie Mellon's own

This is a letter I just wrote for a teacher of mine who was just appointed to Carnegie Mellon. He was an amazing teacher and I sincerely hope that I have conveyed my affection for him through the letter. I plan on visiting him in mid-september sometime to see a bunch of good lectures and shows, including Jacques Derrida. Anyone want to meet up in Pittsburgh?

It is a difficult task to write on behalf of Andrew Johnson. I feel that I am not properly proving the impact Andrew has had on my work, my life and the life of my work, by simply doing what was asked. Simply writing, printing and mailing a page of thoughts about my teacher, has nothing to do with going above and is chapters short of beyond. This is not the type of response that you should expect from any former student of Andrew’s regardless of their propensity toward Art. Andrew’s lessons go well above and see way beyond. You will not receive status quo from students of Andrew Johnson.
I felt for a short time that Andrew had seen something in me that he chose to cultivate. This was true. This was true for the other fifteen individuals in my class as well. I spent hours after class and before class with Andrew, talking listening and learning. I remember specifically talking about drawing one evening. We were speaking of the desire to continue to draw, the pleasure of not stopping. I told him that I wished my sketchbook had more pages in it. Andrew’s ability to assess a problem and come up with a creative and productive solution is uncanny. He told me about an exercise he had participated in that entailed filling 500 sheets of paper in one sitting. “Bring food and water,” he said. Three days later, with baggy eyes and a cup of coffee, I was floating in the atrium of the University of Buffalo amidst a sea of 500 tangled scribbles and colors, feeling that I had accomplished the task. This exercise was repeated a semester later as an extra-curricular event with an entire class. I quickly understood that with Andrew the task is never finished. The steps that lead toward its completion will be watched carefully, guided masterfully and encouraged constantly, but what fun is there in being done? He may have even asked me why I had done all of these drawings as if we had never spoken of it. This is where the absorption takes place. There is a self-searching that comes naturally when in the company of Andrew. I saw it happen to myself as well as students that magically transformed over the course of a semester when most thought it was not possible.
I was fortunate enough to work with Andrew on one of his installations. There is a constant persistence in Andrew that bleeds comfortably into other sectors of life. I mean, if you could have heard some of the music we sat through while we sprayed patina on rectangles you would more easily understand. He is always searching for something, perhaps because he is always learning from something.
I believe that the University at Buffalo is greatly indebted to him. First, for his ability to frustrate, implicate and educate, faculty and students. He was nicknamed “The Ubiquitous Andrew Johnson” while I was in school because he was everywhere. Sometimes laughing, sometimes eating, sometimes writing in that secret notebook of his, but always, he was teaching. It would not be uncommon to find him in unlikely places showing a student something or being shown something by a student.
Second, the University owes Andrew overtime. I have been a student of Andrew’s for almost five years now. He has been there with advice, updates, recommendations to plays, openings, and music, as well as wasabi covered snacks. I am overwhelmingly excited about Andrew’s placement at Carnegie Mellon. I sincerely hope that Carnegie Mellon will give him a wider range of students to move and I would encourage you as faculty to challenge Andrew. Like his students, you will not receive status quo (but you could accrue some over time charges). As for my relationship with Andrew, it is a long-term task that shows no signs of completion.