Wednesday, June 11, 2014
Mail Art Is Alive At Gape House, Wherever That May Be
“You helped to ease the pain!” says the human covered with the bed sheet. “I can not explain, the times I thought I’d end it all, you broke down my door like a wrecking ball.”
So says the back of a postcard from the Yates Keeper of Gape House, located at some undisclosed home in Seattle. About a year ago, Normal’s Bargain Cobbley World started receiving mysterious one sheet cartoon transmissions old school style, via a smiling or scowling or pre-occupied postal carrier.
DJ Shorty II, The Fist Transmission and I were pissed pants happy with these newsletters. For months we got a new one each week - one side with multi-panels of black and white comics and the other side with a full size full color illustration. Frustratingly, they arrived with only a Seattle postmark, no return address. “Damn, I want to send the Yates Keeper my rap sheet,” DJ Shorty would squeal between hacking cig coughs.
Then one day in between vicious elderly suburban swing vinyl lp sellers, we received a surprise phone call. The voice sounded, as Blaster the supreme mail artist would say, “sepulchral”, as if “emanating from the bottom of a jar”.
“Is it really you?!” DJ Shorty said. “We love your drawings! What’s your address so we can send you things?” “I’d prefer at this time not to disclose that,” the anxious youngish sounding lad responded. This did not seem like a prank, it seemed like an extremely private person with a great imagination teetering just short of the magically grotesque (right up my alley) had for some reason become our special angel.
But then, just as mysteriously as they started appearing at great frequency, they completely stopped. The last issue went from perversely dark to past midnight dark. DJ Shorty and I watched the daily mail carrier with great anticipation for weeks. Then we got caught up in daily life, Shorty moving on to a guardpost in the Baltimore penal system. I hobble on knee deep in books, but the knees grow stiff and groany.
The day after Normal’s 24th anniversary, though, in with the bills and inquiries about Black Oak Arkansas lps, there was a hand made postcard of a High Priestess drawn in an unmistakable style: “You say you want to run this town like King Solomon? / The steps you’re taking! Moving up the ladder! / You’ve got the discipline and we are a fan of it.”
The next day brought a leering gent in a Fez, followed by a scary clown, a figure in a sheet hood and then the Magus with a candle in its rack.
The gentle mystery lives. I took the card back to the Blaster sofa where his manual typewriter and soap carvings sit beside it on a milk crate. Pouring half a Schlitz out onto the spotted rug, I leaned the High Priestess up against his pyramid of empty tuna cans.