a compare and contrast with the life of Murdoch Burnett

An alcoholic undervalues everybody, most of all themselves. Everything is valued for what use they may be.

I met Murdoch, according to him (I don’t remember I was too freaked out), at Kamp Kiwanis, in Bragg Creek, Alberta. This is where they sent the poverty children for 2 weeks to have a regular schedule. We learned to masturbate, mostly. The future criminals exchanged crime strategies at age 6 or so.

Since I was of no use to Murd he was in my circle of art associates but not close at all, for the rest of my life. I was madly in love with his sister’s breasts and even followed her path to the yoga cult in B.C. His older brother Tref was my surrogate father/older brother for 40 years. Until he seduced and fucked my wife.

Being children of dysfunction we related so they were my relations. I was not theirs unless I was of some use such as when I offered to put Murd’s poetry to music and I got Tref a job driving cab at a company I managed. The poetry was/is self indulgent crap. Murd’s artistry was as a charming narcissist, living off women. He was published because he charmed a fellow alcoholic who owned Laughing Rooster book store, George Perry, a fired high school teacher who had slept with a student. Murd eventually charmed Georges daughter to marry him and moved to Bermuda to download throat cancer and to practise his abusive brand of alcoholism until she threw him out to return to Vancouver Island to suicide.

Like Murd, I left high school without graduating having been kicked out to the street at age 14 by my crazy ass ‘mother’ I was the oldest and last of our ‘family’ to leave the rest having been moved to foster care. I went to the welfare and they set me up with a boarding house and a social worker, Norris Nash.

Norris taught/mentored me about student loans and careers that start with volunteering, called interning now. So I volunteered for the Drug Centre talking down kids on acid and was offered a job with the government addiction agency where I received training and psychotherapy on a grant till their funding ran out.

Without a degree I was unemployable in that field so I took up taxi driving with the hippies, artists, musicians etc. For 20 years I stayed employed mostly as a dispatcher and manager. The artists taught me music and painting and we did heavy medicating of anxiety drug smoking until computers came along and I had to quit pot in order to remember the fortran language needed to manage the damn things.

To quit I tried AA but like Murdoch that was also a no go, I tried yoga but they wanted money, 5 grand 1n 1988 dollars, and had nothing to offer except typical religious put-downs, so that left psychotherapy based on the ancient psychological insight of Epictetus, who said, “What disturbs men’s minds is not events but their judgments on events.”

The dope smoking alcoholics at the cab company saw me as no longer of use so they fired me and I said fuck it I’ll ride out the 1992 recession on student loans at art school. Much to my surprise I never had to do homework and achieved the honour roll a bunch of times, a high GPA, 2 degrees and teaching gigs at two Universities where they paid for my adult education teaching certificate.

Like Murdoch I still horribly undervalued myself so that I was convinced the schools were fucked that’s why they gave me credentials. This shit runs deep. I became of less use to my one true love and her conservative farmer father (who owned our house) as I was now a low income professional artist part time teacher so I was dumped to the street again and this time it was back to the psychotherapists instead of drugs and cigarettes to medicate the pain.

That was 24 years ago with no cigarettes and no drugs for 30 or so years to deal with extreme frustration and annoyance of being lied to, again, by charming users/liars.

During that time Murd had his memorial service, Tref had already died of cigarette induced skin cancer and their sister became a preacher in New Jersey so I never got to see the fabulous breasts she used to charm vulnerable men like me.

When I got the Facebook message about the service I responded honestly, “the guy was an abusive user who lived off women and then dumped them, there is not much of a life there to honour.”

Since this was a public message my circle of druggie art acquaintances sharply declined. I mean it was already small after being invited on CBC’s ‘The Current’ to talk about alcoholic/druggie teachers at my school abandoning their professional responsibilities. A student had slaughtered a chicken in the cafeteria of the art school at lunchtime as a performance piece and his teacher Gord Fergusen had been fired for either allowing it or ignoring his supervising responsibilities depending on who you talk to.

Instead of trying to get shows in my home town where I am scapegoated for speaking up about abusive art folks, I moved my practice to the New York and Los Angeles art scenes via the internet shortly after having a stroke and am recovering from alcoholics and subsequent brain damage associated with high cortisol levels for a lifetime.

In the last six years since the stroke I have published 13 books, learned video art, and moved from a wheelchair to a walker to a cane driving my Toyota (and cameras), Edna the ArtCar, at a stately thousand miles an hour to the mountains as an online art-business.

As my narcissist expert says, Choose Peace.