Meeting The Future Of My Dreams

The following is an excerpt from a collection of memories I wrote down in 2003. This piece tells the story of how Tania and I met, and how our relationship began in 1986/87.

Jon-1985-861985

I was in a dark hole. In my mind I often picture the year 1985 as this big dark hole. So many things happened that year which shaped my future life, but what really happened is I got stripped down until I was raw, and I looked at myself and what I saw I didn’t like. I knew I needed to turn this around.

How do these changes, these re-creations of our heart happen? Some moments are so crystal clear in their abruptness you know you’ve changed. Some moments wash over you like a slow tide of a long season before the harvest of change comes. I believe in change. I believe people can change. And somewhere in the dark hole of 1985 a change started in me.

I threw away pages of really bad, angry poetry. I got a job as a teller at a bank. I listened to lots of gothic music. I was tall, rail thin, chalk white, with hair that was ratted on top of my head.

I would go to the local Winchell’s Donut Shop when I got home from my teller job for my evening cup of coffee. One day in September of 1986, I saw a very beautiful girl behind the counter. We started talking about working at the donut shop. I had worked there a year earlier as a late night baker for about 3 months. It was the longest amount of time I held a job during that year.

Tania

As we talked I found out her name, that she was out of cigarettes, and she was at the beginning of her shift. When I left the donut shop I walked to the nearby Thrifty Drugstore and bought her a pack of her brand of cigarettes (Marlboro Light 100’s). I came back, walked past the line of people and laid them on the counter. I pushed the pack across to her and said, “Here you go…Tania,” making sure to pronounce her name correctly, which so many people don’t. Then I went home.

I thought about her a lot, making many trips to the donut shop for coffee in the following weeks. I found out she had a boyfriend, and I wasn’t going to interfere with that. Not again.

I just came in with my poems, which had started to get better, and tapes of my music. We talked and smoked cigarettes along with her friend Jamie who worked there with her. Jamie was her best friend at the time. Sometimes we’d all go in the back room and get stoned, then just hang out some more. We became good friends very quickly.

Tania was only 17 at the time, and I was 22, but she was just as old as I was. We both had been spending the last few years doing the same drugs, having similar experiences, just in different crowds.

We spoke the same language, but only in the way that meeting your other half makes a language like no other.

It was only a month later that Tania got rid of her boyfriend, and asked me out. That was October 12, 1986 – From that moment onward, life became amazing.

Some people are just meant for each other, and this was just one of those things. God made me for Tania and He made Tania for me. I’m sure there are lots of perfect fits like ours out there in the world…

Because we were in Irvine, California we found each other. Our families traveled great distances over time to bring us together.

Tania’s dad’s family left Belgium the same time my parents left Illinois (1952) and settled in the same year in the same town in Southern California (Pasadena).

Over the next 35 years our families wandered around Southern California until the necessary pieces fell into place and brought us together in Irvine, where we could meet in a little donut shop.

Memories

Wonderful memories about the beginning of our relationship that I cherish:

It was a full moon that first night; we watched a cat stumble through the street and get sick; we made love in the parked car for the first of many times together.

We were together from the word go. We both knew it and made it special. We made it more important than anything else, and when Tania said she was going to Minneapolis, I asked if I could go. Of course she said yes.

Before Tania, art was just an idea, a concept out of reach, but she made it real to me. Creativity sparked immediately when we came together.

I compiled a collection of all the music I had been working on in a project called Eccentric Activities.

I started collecting my poems and then a friend wanted to publish them as a book, which he did, and it was called “I’d Like To Live That Kind Of Life.”

I had a Yamaha scooter we’d go for cruises on, zipping down to Newport Beach to our pot lady, who was the mellowest, sweetest lady in the world with a goof of a husband and two great kids.

jon-and-tania-1987

We would sit for hours on my front porch, smoking Marlboro Light 100’s one after another and talking, drinking coffee, and getting stoned.

We sat there, collecting our cigarette butts in coffee cans, discussing everything. We read Kurt Vonnegut books out-loud to each other. We talked about change. We talked about God.

in the beginning

We started building a sculpture, a tower, out of our collected cigarette butts. We made colored glue with Elmer’s glue and food dye. We added odd trinkets to it, like you get out of gumball machines. We would only allow our own cigarette butts. No one else could contribute. We were all about us.

When we left for Minnesota in August, 1987, our sculpture was nearly four feet tall.

Photos of Cigarette Sculpture – 1987

Selected Eclectic – Volumes 1 and 2

Music mixes that capture the songs we are listening to at this particular moment in time…

se·lect·ed – To take as a choice from among several; pick out.
ec·lec·tic – Deriving ideas, style, or taste from a broad and diverse range of sources.

Selected Eclectic – Vol. 1 – December 2012

Selected-Eclectic-Vol-1-CD-Cover

Tania and I started working on this project together, which has been titled “Selected Eclectic”, in early December of 2012 while we were getting ready for the holiday season. It grew out of the music we were listening to while cleaning, decorating, working on our Christmas card and just hanging around the homestead.

Towards the end of November Tania had suggested that we should start listening to the KCRW music shows to freshen-up our music selection. What a great idea! Neither of us had listened to the radio in a long time, and our music selection was getting a bit stale, so over Thanksgiving weekend we started listening to the radio again.

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Pretty quickly we discovered that KCRW has a 24 hour-a-day streaming music channel called Eclectic24 – A blend of the various KCRW DJ’s tastes into one constant stream of commercial-free music, with a constantly updated playlist online so you know what is being played.

We started to hear songs we both liked (and some we really did not like) which we hadn’t heard before, were new releases, or were by artist we hadn’t heard of yet. Soon we were both making lists of songs that caught our attention.

After a few week listening to Eclectic24 we were both starting to have a love/hate relationship with some of the songs we heard – songs which we really did not like at first, but now… well, we’d wake up with those songs in our heads, sing them to ourselves during the day, and they were starting to grow on us. Darn pop songs. Continue reading

Driving Towards The End Of The World

Introduction  – The Ongoing Documentation Of Life

For over 30 years I’ve been consciously saving little souvenirs of my journey through life – stuff to help document the adventure. I don’t know why this is so important to me, but it is, and it affects much of the way I approach life.

Writing has played a huge part of the documentation process – years and years of filling up journals, writing and editing stories posted on the internet and numerous short essays that I’ve never published. Millions of words just trying to capture the experience of one human being during this pilgrimage here on planet Earth.

Here is the latest installment in the story reflecting on the year I had in 2012 – it’s called “Driving Towards The End Of The World”. I choose that title because, you know, the world was supposed to end last year, which it didn’t 🙂

So before I jump into writing about some really nice changes that have happened since the end of the world I thought I should post something to document 2012 from this one human being’s perspective…

After The End Of The World, Part One

jon-2012December 21, 2012 – a.k.a. “the end of the world” – was quite a good day for me. Probably one of the best days I’d had in weeks, and definitely one of my top ten best days of 2012.

Maybe I was just glad we had reached that date we had all been speculating about for years, or maybe the day really did have some special cosmic alignment I was feeling. Maybe it was because my wife and best friend, Tania, had the day off and it was a wonderful happy morning around the homestead… whatever the cause, it was a day where the burdens of the world slipped from my shoulders for a moment, and the depression, which this year had been the worst it has ever been for me, was pushed back for a moment.

Now that the end of the world was behind us I could feel like something else might happen. Like we had passed a giant border sign while driving through a long desert, “Welcome to the State of Now”. At first nothing seems different, but when you stop for gas at the first town across the border you realize you truly are in a different state, and all that entails…

Continue reading

Today’s Image #400

Title“Green Lights Into The Twilight”
Dimensions – 4″ x 6″
Format – Lomograph
Date – April 2003

Throughout the early 2000’s I was very interested in “bleak” images and I ended up taking lots of photos full of late afternoon light glaring in my eyes, creating a hot and dusty, middle-of-the-summer kind of feel and photos with lots of sky and the tops of buildings… this kind of thinking went into this “bleak” Lomograph.

I took this while on my way to pick up Tania from work at Terry’s Camera, a shop that no longer exists in downtown Long Beach – death by digital camera.

I believe the white spot just under the top of the light pole is Venus as the evening star…

Today’s Image #343

TitleTraveling Shoes and Barbeques – Page 41”
Dimensions
– 9″ x 6″
Format – digital photos
Date
2004

This page of images is from a book called “Traveling Shoes and Barbeques” of collages and photos I created in 2004 for our friends to commemorate a great summer, and the beginning of a new season of life.

This is one of the photo pages – here we have: top left corner is Mr. and Mrs. Steve Irsay. Back then they were just Steve and Sabrina from New York.

Next to them an below them forming a nice diagonal across the page are photos of members of Ray Kulas Pyrate Band.

In the bottom right corner is the always beautiful Tania…

All the photos on this page were taken on August 1st – Tania’s birthday – Good times!!!

Today’s Image #314

Title“Try Our Coffee, It’s Delicious
Dimensions
– 22″ x 19″
Format –  mixed-media on silkscreen
Date
2002

[In the collection of the artist]

This one hangs in our kitchen, over our coffee mugs and coffee machine.

aptphoto2

The image I used in this painting comes from a large (3″) pin-back button Tania gave me when she worked at Winchell’s Donuts back in 1986 (that’s where I met her).

The button advertised Bunn Coffeemakers, and it ended up hanging around our home for ages, until I photocopied it and created this painting.

I think the original button is in our junk drawer….

Tania’s Random Photo of the Day

Tania has started posting a random photo of the day on her Facebook page, and because you might not be her friend on Facebook I wanted to post the photos from this last week, along with her captions… Enjoy!

Friday, January 27th

above: random photo of the day is RAS from Long Beach Shortbus playin’ us all a song (formerly of Long Beach Dub AllStars) at our “between the buildings bon voyage bbq” for Cristi Hebert and Louie Hebert back in July 2007…

Thursday, January 26th

above: random photo of the day is at the library coffee house down broadway (local LB!) back in february 1993…

Wednesday, January 25th

above: random photo of the day– stayed at mcnally’s lodge on the kern river back in october 2001- jon took this as we were exploring- i love his hand shielding the light from the camera over me…

Tuesday, January 24th

above: random photo of the day is from september 1992- (wow was that 20 years ago?!) jon taking a break from painting silkscreen art walls he was creating to put up for our wedding warehouse party…

Monday, January 23rd

above: random photo of the day – wedding party joy aboard a yacht floating around newport harbor back in august 2005…

Sunday, January 22nd

above: random photo of the day – at the santa paula airport on the way back from the gram parsons tribute show… watching planes land and take off. i remember this way-too-hyper slick lookin’ guy coming up to jon and i and offering to take us flying- right then- out of the blue. we declined. too fast, buddy. too enthusiastic. whatcha been sniffin’?

Saturday, January 21st

above: random photo of the day – self portrait in santa barbara for the gram parsons tribute show “return to sin city” at the santa barbara bowl from july 2004…

Souvenirs From The Late 20th Century

The Zulu Lounge

Over twenty years ago, in May of 1990, Tania and I moved to Long Beach.

At the time we were involved with a group of artists, actors, musicians and short-film makers (who had migrated from Colorado to California together) which we had met through our job working at an interior design company’s warehouse in Costa Mesa/Irvine.

I was writing a lot of poetry, and one day at work I mentioned to Tania and our friend Brian that I needed a place to read my poems out loud, and get some feedback…

So we formed a Wednesday night group called The Zulu Lounge which met in the garage of Brian’s rented house in Irvine to read poetry, share our art, smoke cigarettes and drink.

I Like To Smoke by Jon Christopher – The Zulu Lounge – 1990

Here’s an audio recording of the first poem ever read at The Zulu Lounge. This was one of the “Smoker’s Rights” poems I was writing at the time called I Like To Smoke.

During the middle of this poem I try a flip a cigarette into my mouth…

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From The Lounge To Long Beach

When Tania and I moved to Long Beach, so did many of our friends from this group.

Three of the guys from The Zulu Lounge – Brian, Phil and Kirk – moved into an apartment on Broadway which had several bedrooms and, most importantly, access to the roof.

Soon after they moved in they threw a very big house-warming party…

I barely remember it, and I don’t think we have any photos of the night, but I still have the audio-invitation cassette tape and my Fish Pass.

When Cassettes Were King

In 1990 the cassette tape was king. We listened to most of our music on cassette tape.

If you wanted to share some music with a friend, you made a mix-tape and gave it to them… a special kind of gift you listened to over and over again.

That’s probably why I kept this particular cassette tape. It’s both a sound collage of audio theater and an amazing invitation to a party.

An Audio Invitation

Here’s the audio from the cassette tape – It’s about 31 minutes long and very funny, strange and unique souvenir from the late twentieth century.

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Included in the cassette invitation was a FREE Pass To See Chilly Willy Talk, and Entrance to The Attic of Doom – Enter and Worship

The Fish Pass

The prime party spot that night (if I remember correctly) was on the roof, which required a special Fish Pass – which we were suppose to share. I think the idea was to keep the number of people on the roof limited…

As you can see I kept mine. Here’s the photo I took of it today…

Note: If you have any photos from this party, please contact me so I can add them to this page…

Happy Thanksgiving!

Photo by Tania with drawing by Jon - From the mid 90's


Happy Thanksgiving! I hope everyone has a great day eating, relaxing and remembering all the people, places and things you are thankful for…

Here’s a song for the day from U2 called Scarlet off of their October album from the earlier 80’s.

Rejoice!

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Bonus Image of the Moment:

Here’s a photo collage I found last night while doing some cleaning. It’s from the same time as the Thanksgiving photo collage, and the photo was also taken by Tania.

One Year On The Road

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In honor of our friends…

Our friends, Russ and Laura, have been traveling by bicycle across the United States since last Summer on an open-ended journey.

For several years before they left Long Beach to follow their dreams, they were a major part of our Friday night Happy Hour crew which met every week to unwind and share our ideas, dreams and latest creative works.

Over the course of many Happy Hours we were privileged to watch their shared dream take shape, acquire wheels and take them out onto the great American pilgrimage – the open road.

In honor of their One Year On The Road, a group of us got together last Friday, August 13th, so we could record a video “congratulations” to them.

Included in the video is Chris, Dominic and Jayme, Katie and Rick, Tania and myself, and Richard (the Jesse Ventura look-alike…)

This video was edited by myself on Saturday night, August 21st, with much input from Tania, Enjoy!

Links:

You can follow their journey on their website and also on their Facebook page:

Website: http://pathlesspedaled.com/

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Path-Less-Pedaled/94377691671?v=wall

Until later, best of health.

Mark Leysen and The Irascible Group

mark-leysen-and-the-irascible-group-2009

Here’s the art piece Tania and I made for her dad’s birthday this last week…

Mark Leysen and The Irascible Group
10″ x 8″ x 5″
3D Cardboard Cut-Out Collage

About The Piece

Tania’s dad, Mark Leysen, who is an artist, is the one standing in the foreground, and was deeply influenced by that irascible group of artists known as the New York School of Abstract Expressionism – the group of people behind him…

The Irascible Group photo is from an article in Life Magazine – January 15, 1951. This was the article that sent Jackson Pollock to the top of the art world heap.

Here’s a link to the article and photo online (Google Books)

Other Links to Mark Leysen’s Art Work

markleysen.comhttp://www.markleysen.com/

artnet – a small selection of work –  http://www.artnet.com/artist/424302668/mark-leysen.html

Viewliner LTD – a blog with drawings Mark did in the late 70’s – http://viewlinerltd.blogspot.com/2008/05/mark-leysen-orange-county-artist-part-1.html

And to read his book, Flemish Fries

Amazon.comhttp://www.amazon.com/Flemish-Fries-Mark-Leysen/dp/1847287131/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1262544332&sr=8-2

Happy Birthday Mark!
…and many more!

Christmas Card – 2009

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

…from Jon and Tania, Moseley and Suki, Redbot and The Baby Jesus Sacred Hearts Club Band…

Christmas Card - 2009 - 600px X 400px

The Baby Jesus Sacred Hearts Club Band
14.5″ x 9.5″
mixed media on cardboard
Jon and Tania | December 2009
(click on image above – or here – to see the card larger…)

Coming Christmas Morning – The key to the collage images

Are you wondering who all those people are with us on our Christmas Card? Click Here to see the Key to our 2009 Christmas Card Collage… (will be posted at 6:00am Christmas morning – 12.25.2009…)

My Wife – The Cover Girl!

The District - Tania on Cover - December 9, 2009

Above: Tania on the cover of The District – December 9, 2009

The District Weekly – December 9, 2009

The new issue of The District came out yesterday with an article that has been much anticipated around our home…

Rachel Powers, a writer for The District, has been putting this article together since the summer, and our friend and professional photographer, Russ Roca, took the photos several months ago.

We had no idea when the story would come out, or that they would choose this photo (above) for the cover shot…

I think it’s a great photo. That’s my beautiful wife, doing what she does everyday – giving her time, energy and love into making other peoples lives better.

I’m very proud of her!

The story is about the amazing place Tania works at called “The Village” which serves the homeless, “mentally ill” population with real care and true compassion.

Long Beach is finally learning about this world-famous and very successful resource in their own downtown.

People who work in the mental health field come from all over the world (right now there is a group from Japan visiting for a week) to do an “Immersion” and find out how the philosophy of The Village works.

The article does a great job of explaining the simple, but radically different approach The Village uses to help remind people that they are somebody of value, to reawaken their forgotten dreams and to both start and continue on that road back to health and stability.

Tania started working there in September of 2005 – how she got there is a story for another time – and since then she has grown in amazing ways.

I feel honored to be a part of her story and to be able to offer her my unconditional support for the work she does.

Article Links

Best Practices – The District Weekly, December 9, 2009

The Village Website – Information Page

When Ad Placement Goes Wrong

2009-04-18-when-ads-go-wrong

I saw this online at The Los Angeles Times this morning… a very unfortunate example of the problem with automated ad placement…

What a tragic event… both Tania and I pick up our prescriptions close to where this tragedy took place and that made it a bit more surreal for us.

I couldn’t imagine a worse ad placement coincidence… don’t put “Your Face Here” – and have a nice weekend.

(click image to see larger version)

Making Buttons for the Collective

Jon, onehumanbeing making buttons...Spending Time At The Collective

Today was my first day behind the counter at AAC – Apothecary’s Assistants Collective – as a volunteer staff member. Before I left home this morning I made a bunch of buttons to bring in with me.

That’s me in the little movie pressing the buttons with my button machine. Tania took the photos and suggested the little movie – nice idea 🙂 You can click on the moving image to see a larger version…

I’ll be volunteering there several times a week and learning about how a Collective works, from a budtender’s view (note: a “Budtender” is the person who hands the herb and helps members select their medicine) – a different way of seeing my project, and it has already given me some things to think about for The MMJ Project.

You can follow my project about medical marijuana at The MMJ Project – my ongoing art project about this moment in time and the unique world of medical marijuana in Southern California.

As a user of marijuana for 26 years, and a long time legal patient under Prop 215, I’ve become a solid believer in the use of marijuana as a legitimate medicine.

I have an acquaintance through the collective who is a terminally ill patient. She is still alive 4 years longer than her doctor gave her because of the herb – just one of many stories of health and wellness I’ve heard over the years.

Medical Marijuana Is No Laughing Matter

People giggle about marijuana, but for us patients that have found a safe and easy solution to some of our health issues this is no laughing matter…

Unfortunately for us we have to wait for our political leaders to grow-up and stop treating this with a snicker and wink…

And while they giggle more people get put through the legal grinder for making choices that don’t concern anyone but that person and their doctor.

There seems to be something very immoral and irresponsible for leaders like Obama to make a joke about other’s health concerns. I’m still saddened by Obama’s response and I’m starting to view his agenda with suspicion… just another politician.

Meanwhile… back to the Collective

I took a bunch of photos of AAC while I was there today, and I’ll post those over on The MMJ Project later on.

Have a great week, and remember; 420 –  The International Marijuana Day – is next Monday – April 20, 2009!

Come On Wheels, Take This Boy Away…

2009-03-07-come_on_wheels_take_this_boy_away

I was given a new bike today – the best bike I’ve ever owned… and no, it doesn’t look quite like the image above.

[A note about the image: I took some photos this evening of my new bike, none of which were very good on their own… Tania suggested a photo-collage…]

I’ve been sorta-wanting a bike for a while, not really needing it, just thinking it would be an added value to my life, eliminate some car and gas use, and be a nice way to get around Long Beach, which is slowly moving towards bike-friendliness…

But this last week, a friend said to me as he was helping me move a love-seat up our stairs, “Man, you are out of shape. You need to get some exercise, you need a bike…” and I had to agree. Continue reading

I Stand For Change | MMJ Rally in LA

People at the rally

Tania and I went to the rally at the Federal Court Building in downtown Los Angeles for Charles C. Lynch and for the cause of Medical Marijuana this afternoon.

I had emailed Charles to let him know we going to be there and bringing buttons to give away. The official name for the rally was “Hope for Change” – but I finished hoping on Nov. 5th – Now I’m standing up, as are many others, so we get real change that helps us as patients.

I think our fear and silence has let this nonsense go on for too long. It’s true that some of us will take a hit for standing up, but we’ll all lose if no one stands up. I really believe in medical marijuana, I really believe that marijuana is a gift from God.

I also feel like I have nothing more to say that can add to the debate over marijuana use. Over the last 26 years I’ve heard just about every argument on both sides, and frankly, I’m just tired of it… The truth has been said over and over and ignorance still rules the day.

Here’s some photos that Tania took today at the rally…

Today’s Rally:

i-stand-for-change-feb-23-2009-200px

The injustice is that Charles C. Lynch, a good community business man, is having to go through this whole stupid trial and everything else just because he choose to be compassionate, stepped forward and helped provided relief for numerous MMJ patients in his area.

But the local sheriff who does not like marijuana being legal for people with chronic illnesses, and apparently believes his opinion matters more than the law and the state constitution he’s sworn to uphold, so he called the DEA in to try and ruin this man’s life…

Here’s a bit from the MPP’s newsletter about Charles’ case:

Charles Lynch operated a medical marijuana dispensing collective in Morro Bay, Central Coast Compassionate Caregivers, that helped more than 2,000 seriously ill patients obtain their medicine in a legal, clean, and safe environment. In March 2007, the facility was raided, and federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agents later arrested and charged Charles with five counts of marijuana-related federal crimes.

Charles not only complied with California’s long-standing medical marijuana laws, he was operating under a license issued by the City of Morro Bay and was a well-respected member of the local community. Nevertheless, Charles was treated like a common criminal under draconian federal marijuana laws, and the county sheriff even cooperated with the subversion of state law.

The jury in Charles’ trial was not allowed to hear any information relating to medical marijuana and his compliance with state law. Consequently, on August 5, 2008, Charles was found guilty on all counts.

While President Obama has pledged to end the raids on state-legal medical marijuana providers, that does little to help Charles. He is one several providers still facing federal charges or sentencing from raids during the Bush administration. His sentencing is set for March 23, and if the judge doesn’t show discretion because of Charles’ status under state law he could end up spending the rest of his life in prison.

I made a bunch of buttons over the weekend for the rally that look like this…

buttons_i-stand-for-change

I quickly gave away all 120-150 buttons and got to walk around, talk to a few folks… I haven’t been feeling so great (the flu – almost over it now…) so we cut out after a bit. I just wanted everyone to have a souvenir of a moment, a moment when we know we stood for this movement, we stood for Charles, stood for justice, we stood for change…

For those that got a button today – Wear it proudly, proud that you stood up, proud that you’re part of the change, and not just talking about it…and I hope it brings a smile to your face when you a digging through a box of old stuff 20 years from now and find this little button and you remember those crazy days back when marijuana was illegal…

A movement isn’t just a one day event, but a series of steps to reach a goal.

Help Charles C. Lynch reach the goal of staying out of prison and getting back to his life.

Visit his website: (http://www.friendsofccl.com/) and send him a message of support today. On his site are listed a number of ways you can help. On March 23rd he gets sentenced…