by Walter Scott
The Maria Bamford Show
In 2007, comedian Maria Bamford had a nervous breakdown (this may or may not be true) and moved back into her parents’ house. From her attic guest bedroom, she created a series of videos for television. In them, she plays a variety of characters, signified by minor changes in clothing or different orientations around objects. As her therapist, she is holding a knife. As an employee, Maria is standing upright in a garbage can. As herself, she is simply lying horizontally on the daybed. She has succumbed to her context and is sending dispatches through a variety of throw pillows. Radically merging with the end table, speaking though the stuffed animal, she creates a lexicon from isolation and insularity to propose a raw and dark understanding of subjectivity in relation to environment. Like, what are the implications of speaking through a wall decoration that says “Live, Love, Laugh”?
The Real Widow Diaries
My friend Robert Chirila, who I met in Montreal 10 years ago in the DIY art/music scene, is now studying speech therapy in his hometown of Mercer County, Pennsylvania. His YouTube monologue video series, The Real Widow Diaries, chronicles the struggles and woes of various American widows, whose personalities are inspired by the women of Robert’s hometown. These women, with names like Patty and Sandra-Lynne, express grief, hostility-tinged advice and quiet, yearning indignation in equal measure. “I’m callin’ you today to tell you about some horseshit that’s going on around here” (takes long drag of cigarette). These videos are private, though, so you’d have to message him directly to see them.
Outport Lesbian by Kathy Slade
In the late ’80s there was codco, a sketch comedy series produced in Newfoundland. In Kathy Slade’s music video Outport Lesbian, a tender, isolated fry cook at a chip stand is suddenly encroached upon and whisked away by a carload of lesbians, who then take her into the city to live the life she is meant to. “Outport Lesbian,/ sisterhood is powerful / let me have a plate of fries. Let me have a look / let me have a looky-look at those / Outport lesbian eyes.” As they drive away, the men look on, perplexed. The joint is called “Dick’s chip stand.” If Canadians are tired of trying to be cool (capitalism) maybe we should embrace being weird (outport lesbians).
Maya Ben David and Snoopy’s Cousin Spike
In Charles Schultz’s Peanuts, Snoopy has a brother named Spike – a thin, ratty dog who wears a pandora hat, and lives inside a hollowed-out cactus located in the desert of Needles, California. He spends his time alone, playing the fiddle and writing letters to his brother. This week I watched Toronto artist Maya Ben David’s cosplay video, where she plays the air conditioner from the 1987 film The Brave Little Toaster. In the film, the appliance overheats, explodes and essentially dies (there are unclear suicidal overtones). Maya, performing in what is pretty much an air conditioner shaped-bra, contours sex, longing and despair without the human form necessarily at its core, and brings it into sharp and totally dank relief. Watching this video allowed me to realize that I want to give myself permission to write in and around Spike. Spike, staring listlessly at the ceiling of his cactus bedroom, waiting to feel different, pages scrawled with auto-fiction scattered around his hovel. Unsent love letters to the humans he meets when he hitchhikes into town to drink root beer. But not in the Kerouac beat-poet, male-writer way, of course. Spike is a dog, after all!