Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Riding the Time Scanner – 1972

There are times when I take out the camera and walk around in the real world pointing it at things and clicking the little button. Bagman thinks I should do more of this. Butler agrees but thinks I should do it more meditatively because I am relying too much on Photoshop to correct too much that could have been done up front.

Then there are times when I sit in front of the computer screen and slide a myriad of Photoshop sliders to prepare pictures to be blogged or printed. Sometimes I print and frame them.

Then there are times when I pull a random selection of old slides or negatives out of sleeves or envelopes and scan them into digital. I call this “riding the time scanner” because it takes me back. Sometimes I get surprised.

Last night, I was rifling through an old box in the shed and suddenly found some envelopes of negatives that had been lost for years midst unrelated junk at the bottom. Stuff stuffed without thought or care, forgotten but carried from storage shed to storage shed. These negatives had not even been put in sleeves but thrown into envelopes. Some were 35mm some were larger format 2 ¼ square, and some from camera formats I don’t remember even owning. I almost threw them away because they were a mess, stuck together in places, scratched, and some discolored. Some smelled bad and some shared envelopes with mouse droppings. But a few took me back…poor focus, scratched…but riding the time scanner I found myself back in 1972 to a time when I was drawing and painting in oils.

I had forgotten I had ever done that. But there was the easel and my grandfather’s wooden paint box. I don’t mind having thrown away the paintings but wish I had the box back. And I don’t think I’d call them paintings – more like artifacts, fossils from a prehistoric me.

I know it was 1972 because one of the paintings was signed and dated. 1972 was 4 years before I got sober so these fossil images were all done while I was drinking and smoking pot.

The one above looks like it was more drinking and less pot.

This one was, on the other hand, was probably more pot and less drinking.

And the one below is probably a classic.


This one really got to me! Because I remember very well painting it during a rough week of guilt-ridden, alcoholic withdrawal, when I was vowing to myself that I'd never drink again. Of course, I went back to drinking within days after finishing it because I had not yet found the secret of A.A. But now, 37 years later, I can see it was the genesis of Bagman and Butler, the two sides of my personality. Bagman is clearly holding the upper hand and not very pleased at Butler's appearance. But Butler is just beginning to mesmerize the brutish Baggie with little angellic spots emmenating from the halo in his hand. There would be 4 more long years before Butler allied himself with A.A. and finally got Bagman to stop drinking. And there would be decades more of other compulsive wars during which innocent people would be caught up in the battleground of divorce and other friends and family would be exiled to escape the internal warfare of delayed maturity until I eventually negotiated the relatively peaceful coexistence that exists today. These guys have come a long long way. Whew.

And the last two, below, I don’t remember doing at all.

Okay. Well, that was fun. I think. So now, I’ll gratefully return to the present and start shooting some pictures for Friday’s hometown metal shoot-out.

And get my ass to an A.A. meeting.


  1. whoa, its amazing to see who we used to be, are (in the now is apparently very important and therefore the hardest to achieve) and wanna be...thanks for the tour.

  2. It's interesting to re-live moments from your past. Maybe it finding the film was karma and the time has coming to take up oil painting once again and see where it leads. Maybe you should get some canvas, buy a few paints and see what develops. Paint some alligators. I bet there's interest and talent there!=D

  3. Wow! The Bagman meeting Butler was very insightful wasn't it :)


  4. You are very talented and I believe painting was therapy that would ultimately lead to recovery!Obvious when Bagman meets Butler. Absolutely LOVE that one.

  5. That drawing is really good! And the paintings really show the turmoil you were experiencing at the time, especially the skeleton (inner self?) drowning or half buried in that strange sea of stuff (alcohol, issues?). Fascinating!

  6. The paintings are certainly interesting. Your father painted and perhaps that is where your interest came from. I also have boxes of slide negatives that have been ignored and abused. I am now saving for a slide scanner.

  7. WOW! Thank you so much for posting these! The "more alcohol than pot" picture reminds me of the work done by Pollock! The more pot than alcohol is kind of fascinating - I keep looking at it and thinking cupcake, muffin, basket - yup, must be a pot painting! And the last one has the good cowboy with his guitar walking away from the maelstrom. Again, a bit B&B!

  8. They say you can't go home again. In this case, I guess you are glad that is true.

    I actually like the 3rd and 4th one. Is that a skeleton head in the 3rd one? I could not enlarge it.

    The Butler and Bagman painting is a hoot.

    It is always nice to a trip back to where we have been, even if we don't like what we see. But you know you had some good times stuck in there somewhere. Tell us about them.

  9. Thanks for sharing B&B. You are a very talented man, would like to see you painting again, but realize it's very hard to go back and pick up those old dreams/passions/whatevers. You have accomplished a great deal and on top of that, you rescued all three of you. And you managed to keep a sense of humor -- not always an easy task!

    Have a good week.

  10. WOW,B&B, you had a funtabulous life, and these paintings are marvelous. Seriously, they are nothing short of art pieces.

    1972 is a very very long time ago, and i am sure you would have gone back to those days while looking at the paintings. Now, try painting without the pot and alcohol, lets see how it goes. Keep posting your painting here. Loved them.TC

  11. 1972? I remember the year, though I was still a small child. My dad has some slides. Wondering what to do with them. Some of the photos are absolutely priceless.
    BTW, I loved what you wrote on your profile about yourself. Good or bad, seems like you always had the zest for life. Cheers.

  12. What a journey the three of you have been on.
    That painting Bagman meeting Butler says so much.
    You have a great talent for storytelling and painting and I feel so privileged to call you my friend.
    Mark you are a wonderful human being who has turned his life around and I am so pleased you are sharing your journey with us.

  13. Very interesting. You have talent. I enjoyed learning more about who Butler and Bagman are.

  14. Wow, very interesting. Pick up a brush and go at it again, I'd love to see what B&B come up with now....

  15. You really had (have) a great talent! I guess you definitely must try to see how it works today, possibly without pot and / or drinking! :-)

  16. I think you are a very talented triumvirate in so many different ways and deeds... Thank you for sharing 1972, Sirs!