As I sit at my desk and write, it is the morning of June 16, 2021. June 16th is a day of literary importance. Bloomsday. It is the time stamp of a not so ordinary day in the life of Leopold Bloom, the protagonist in James Joyce’s Ulysses.
It’s also the day Raymond Pettibon was born in 1957.
Not too many visual artists utilize language in their work as seamlessly as Pettibon. Images and text referencing pop culture, literature, history, politics and sports create a one-two punch of satirical and poignant observations that have become his trademark in the world of fine art.
Take away the images, leave the words, and you have SCKONTHIS!! The Essential Raymond Pettibon Twitter Compilation recently published by PCP Press along with its companion titles, Tuff Luyv and my fists r free: 186 Twitter poems. Twitter is like Bloomsday in a sense; it’s always the same stream of consciousness day on this social media platform. Everyone in the world barking in the garden all day long, forever. Unstructured and chaotic, there’s a never ending hum of thoughts and words and misapprehensions, sometimes off color, hilarious and just plain wrong-headed. For better or worse, this is how we communicate in the 21st century. On Twitter, the ridiculous and the sublime sit side by side. Wisdom lives next door to facts disputed in a manure of disinformation. It’s a film stuck on repeat, a Buster Keaton pratfall on a loop. News broadcasts commonly report a political leader’s Tweet and its direct impact on world events. 280 characters transmitted have changed the course of history. The slapstick clumsiness of this new reality doesn’t escape Pettibon’s observations which read like jump jive and holla jazz poetry that’s part Muhammad Ali in the ring daring us to take a swing, part advertising jingle, and part Don Rickles celebrity roast.
Pettibon tweeted on 10/24/2014, 3:10 am
Wm F Buckley had sexual relationship w/Gary Powers. Whittaker Chambers n Roy Cohn too;buyt Schiene was a sexual dynamite.
Pettibon tweeted on 4/24/2013, 11:49 am
To a painter a canvas is never empty. It’s foll o’ sh—yt. –Artist Statement.
Pettibon tweeted on 10/25/2014, 11:58 pm
E-Bay, Pay Pal both corrupt thieves. They demand police report. Well, police dnt take em on interfamilalia thefts$mill.Anyone 4 class-action?
I wish Marcel Proust was alive and on Twitter. He used to hear his maids using slang, and he’d take to his bed, depressed. It’s just a slip of formal language, but in Proust’s estimation, slang was a slippery slope leading to the decline of western civilization. Twitter would fix him.
I’m putting my copy of SCKONTHIS!! The Essential Raymond Pettibon Twitter Compilation on my bookshelf between Jokes for the John and The Selected Letters of Tennessee Williams.
Greek heroes of the Trojan War eventually made their way back home, and on their way they might have passed a few billboards of rhyming poetry promoting shaving cream. Burma Shave. Grandpa’s old-fashioned shaving brush is gone, and we find ourselves in a new world. Whuytuyp, cuzz.
Happy Birthday, Raymond Pettibon.
Los Angeles, CA