Archive for the personal histories Category

Memories of Dave / Art School

Posted in art school, jim coleman, personal histories with tags , , on June 25, 2013 by jimcolemanmusic

1979 – 1981: Hartford Connecticut

I can’t fucking remember Dave’s last name. I really wish I could. I wonder what the hell he is doing now. He could be an extremely successful car salesman. He could be an actor or he could be in politics. I lived in Hartford CT for 2 years (1979-1981) and Dave was a close friend, along with my roommate Seth. It was Seth who motivated me to go in to Hartford Art School, which totally changed my life. These images are examples of my early work there.

This first image is of my first outdoor sculpture. This was really aesthetically based, these wings that framed a walking path by the art school.

sculpture contact

These drawings were the start of ideas, which led to my first performance. I was looking at ways of using these lockers in a performance. I ended up placing 2 lockers side by side (with about 2 feet between them) in a common area, where people would sit and take breaks. In one locker was a dismembered female mannequin. I was in the other locker, in a 3-piece business suit. This performance started at 9 AM. People could open the lockers and do whatever they wanted to, but there would be no response from me. I would remain completely detached, an object. This affected people in interesting unforeseen ways. I remember one girl getting so pissed at me, she was just kicking the locker as hard as she could right at my head. So I stayed in there, prone, until 12 Noon. I then got out, walked to a table in the room and sat at the chair there. A woman in a maid’s outfit served me a double martini, which I drank over the next hour. I then re-entered the locker at 1 PM and stayed in until 5 PM, at which point the performance was complete.

locker in the earth

Anyway, back to Dave.

Dave was without question the class clown. Always high, always laughing, always funny to the point of pain. He could take anything, any source, and run miles and miles with it, way past the point of decency, way past the point of logic and sense. He would daily take us on journeys, in which none of us knew where we were going, but we went, trusting that Dave would ultimately return us to the world as we knew it, with our sides aching from laughing so much.

We’re all familiar with the comic art form of prank phone calls. Dave was not only a master of this, but he was a pioneer. He would call up McDonalds and, speaking in extremely broken English, with a mid eastern inflection, attempt to make reservations for his family of 13.  He would not let the poor associate off the phone, he would work his way up to the manager. He could keep these calls going for 30 minutes easy.

Dave would make blind phone calls and just start insulting people. Repeatedly, he would get people so worked up that they would agree to meet late at night at some shopping mall parking lot to fight it out, man to man. The goal was to get 2 or more people to agree to meet up at the same place to fight. It was a huge missed opportunity that we never actually showed up and watched from a distance, but we would inevitably end up too stoned.

Another favorite call of Dave’s would be the “man on the edge” call. This one worked best when a woman answered the phone. He would come off as an individual on the verge of suicide. These poor people would want to help so badly. And Dave just had that gift of being able to wrap almost anybody in to his reality, whatever that happened to be at the moment. He was just completely convincing, whatever persona he took on was his reality.

Snapshot memories:

–       Dave showed up at my apartment one winter’s night during a snowstorm after parking his car. I looked down a few minutes after his arrival and noticed that he was barefoot. When I pointed this out, he was surprised. He had just walked almost a mile through the snow, barefoot, and didn’t even realize it

–       One night at 2 AM, I got a call from Dave. He was quite excited: “Jim, get over here right now! Bring your camera!” I threw on some clothes and ran over to find him and our friend Seth covered from head to toe in shaving cream. No explanation, but they did want to capture the moment.

–       One night we were in Dave’s car. He sped through a parking lot area that had a guard in it, the car fishtailing. I saw the guard writing something down. Assuming he had made note of Dave’s license plate, I urged Dave to talk to the guard, so he would not be reported. He actually convinced this guard that he was cleaning the “gunk” out of his carburetor

–       Drug memory #1 with Dave. Thai stick. Lying down on a bed, listening to Pink Floyd. I felt that I was really lying in a field, watching a grid of Turtles flying past me in the sky.

–       We had weird drugs back then. Actual Thai stick. Hash oil that people would drop in to their eyes, or paint on to cigarettes or joints. Fresh Mushrooms. Liquid LSD, also dropped in the eyes. Dave made bongs. I recall one he made out of numerous tennis ball cans, about 7 feet high. It took 2 or 3 people to work it, and would only yield smoke after doing about 5 hits. One thing we used to do was to take a bong hit while a helper would put 2 whippets in to a plastic bag. Then, you would exhale the bong hit in to the plastic bag and then breath the bagged whippet air in and out, in and out. You would end up in a very very different place. Once while doing this, we were listening to the Doors, while the TV was playing a Liberace concert. The music and visuals ran in perfect sync, each cut was right on the beat, each accent in the music had corresponding visuals.

–       Another disparate non Dave memory arises from this. But this was from the same time. My long time friend and co-conspirator Clay Ketter (google him please) were high and driving in the wee hours of the morning (well past midnight). It was rainy, extremely foggy. The radio was stuck in between stations, it seemed to be picking up about 8 stations at once. But I heard a voice cut through this static and mix of noise, talk and music. It was speaking to me. Or to us. And I know this sounds like typical clichéd auditory hallucinatory shit due to drugs and lack of sleep, but it felt true, genuine, real. I was tempted to just drop it, but couldn’t. I looked over at Clay and asked if he was hearing this. And he was. I luckily never got in to closing the shades and freaking out about all the undercover government agents in front of my house. But that doesn’t mean that they weren’t there!


Posted in Cop Shoot Cop, personal histories, photos, Phylr with tags , , , , on April 4, 2013 by jimcolemanmusic

I was just going through a bunch of scans I did a while back and have run in to a number of various pictures which conjure memories:

philmore hallThis is Philmore Hall. He was my first french horn teacher, when I was just a wee lad. In my later years of grade school, and through Junior High School, I played in his jazz band. We would tour around various schools and also play  assorted events around the area. Even made it on TV. He was an early teacher of Dizzy Gillespie, until Dizzy started teaching the teacher. But every time Dizzy came through town (DC), we would go out to see him, and hang out a bit with him after the show. Philmore drove an old Chrysler Newport I think, or it might have been a Dodge Polara.

jim horn

And this here is me playing horn around that time. I still play a bit, but it’s rough. I use it in my recordings, but usually need to massage it a bit in Logic. That’s what happens when you don’t practice every day.

sculpture contact

This here is a contact sheet of several photos of the first sculpture I ever made. Well, maybe not the first. I remember making clay figures when I was in first grade. But this was the first “sculpture” I did, with focus and intention. It was actually a collaboration with someone whose name I forget.

locker in the earth

And these drawings were studies for the first performance I ever did. In the drawings, a full length locker is buried in the ground, with the front door facing up. I was going to lie in the locker. In the end, the performance ended up a bit different. It took place in a lounge that was actually in the building that we see in the background of the drawing. I had 2 lockers, lying down on the floor, evenly spaced in the center of the room. There was a table with linen and a chair by the window. The performance went from 9 Am to 5 PM. In one locker was a nude disembodied female mannequin. I lay in the other, in a three piece suit. at noon, I got out of the locker, went and sat at the window. A waitress came and served me a double martini. At one, I went back in the locker until 5 PM.

People got really pissed off. I don’t know why. They were trying to goad me in to responding to them, which I wouldn’t do. They opened the locker, yelled at me, kicked the locker by my head. And some of these people were friends. From 9 AM it took me a while to relax in to it. By around 10:30 I started getting in to the zen of it, it felt good. After the martini, it felt even better. Until about 3 PM, when I really needed to piss. This discomfort increased exponentially until 5 PM.

cop on cop

I have several photos from the days of Cop Shoot Cop. I’ll just put them up here with minimal comments.

This first one I always liked: lounging on the totaled cop car.

CSC coney

And out in Coney. This old parachute jump has always been one of my favorite pieces of NYC architecture. I wish I had been around at the turn of the previous century, so I could have seen the old Elephant hotel out there.


Natz, Phil and I soak up the local culture in Belgium.

Tour bus

This was our beloved low budget tour bus. Always loved this thing, despite it blowing out over 3 transmissions. I would live in it from time to time in Brooklyn. It had a pretty comfortable bed in the back.

csc option 1

From Option Magazine. I was in kind of rough shape at this time. I couldn’t make it to the photo shoot with the rest of the band, so I ended up doing a separate pick up shot.

cripple passport photo

And my passport from around that time.


I have more picture with more stories and experiences, so more to come…

This is Madness?

Posted in jim coleman, personal histories, Phylr, Uncategorized with tags , , , , on March 26, 2013 by jimcolemanmusic

Cyclonesandy coaster







Sometimes I think I’m losing my mind. This has happened several times through my life, in several different ways, and usually due to something that I could eventually track down.

Sometimes right before I get sick, I feel like I’m going nuts. Like everything I thought I knew and took for granted was wrong. Like I’m Jim Carrey in The Truman Show. All of a sudden, everything feels disconnected. There is nothing to hold on to, no firm ground, no certainty. I recall one time when I was home from college, I was in my parents basement, and that feeling came on instantly. It brought me to my knees. I didn’t know how to move or to go on in any way. An hour later, I had a temperature of 104, and was laying in bed. It was with a huge sense of relief that I realized I was just really sick.

I think I have told this story in another of my  log entries, but from a different angle. On a cross country trip I made in my 20’s, I unintentionally ended up in Florida in spring break. I was camping wherever I could. After finding a spot and pitching a tent, I went out and ate dinner, which included a bunch of raw clams. A few hours later, madness crept in. I had already gone to sleep in my tent, but after sleeping for an hour or two, I suddenly woke up in a different reality. Everything was threatening, every noise and light was like a razor. Nothing had meaning or reason. It mystified me why humans did what we did: why do we put on clothes, how is it possible that we ever figured out how to make things? Why should I move. Well, pretty soon I realized that I needed to move in order to vomit outside the tent, not inside. I must have vomited for over an hour. In the middle of that hour, I became really happy though because I realized I was dealing with food poisoning, not a mental breakdown.

In college, I was doing a bunch of experimental films, performances and installations. One of these installations was called Short Wave Funk Muzackackack. This took place in a small planetarium  which was just an open space, it didn’t have any of the projection equipment in it. I had recorded hours and hours of snippets from late night radio talk shows and mixed these with cut up excerpts of funk music. I gathered 10 boom boxes, had 10 different 45 minute cassettes of these mash ups, and distributed the boom boxes evenly around the circular room, facing upward, right at the base of the dome. The door was open to the outside, and it was freezing cold. There were no lights. At 8 PM, the first tape started, and every 4 minutes, another tape was started. So at the 40th minute, all 10 were playing. And then they automatically shut off in succession, until just the 10th one was playing. The problem was that I had taken some mushrooms at about 7 PM. At around 8:45 or 9 PM, I had a solid plan that mad perfect sense. I knew what I needed to do with my life. Quit school, and voluntarily sign myself in to a mental institution.

Drugs, especially hallucinogens, definitely took me in to various states of madness and mental despair. Some places I would have gladly languished in forever if I could have. Other places lasted way longer than I wanted them to. The first time I ever felt the effect of LSD was like that. I was best friends with this  hippie couple when I was living in Hartford, CT. They were really great people. Very open and loving. I still have a real place in my heart for them. They were throwbacks to the 60’s though, no doubt. They had tripped hundreds of times. So I felt like I had seasoned guides. I had actually tried acid before this, but hadn’t felt anything. We arranged to trip one day. It must have been late morning when we each swallowed three tabs. I while later I was having this awesome time, everything was fluid. Some hours later though, it got in my head that I would not ever come down. That this state of mind was now permanent. Life would be like this from here on out. I expressed this fear to the girl, looking for some consolation that it would pass. But she said, “Yeah, I know. I feel like that too.” Oh, fuck. I sank deeper in this. I figured out eventually how I would survive. Within a few days, I should acclimate. I should be able to go down to the deli and get some lunch meat… I did eventually come down (I think). But this trip lasted through the next week, with varying degrees of intensity.

For sure, acid was no friend of mine. Every time I took it, I had some fear. I didn’t know what would happen. One time I remember being in a fetal position in a huge cold loft in Philadelphia, certain that death would come that night. When I finally shared this feeling with my girlfriend, she laughed in my face. On another occasion, I was on a complex chemical mixture that included LSD. We thought it would be a good idea to drive to Coney Island. Once there, I got lost from the friends that I had driven there. I bought a ticket for the roller coaster, then waited in the line for a while to get in to a coaster car. While on line, I lost track of my ticket. Then I recalled that I had had a deep discussion with the guy behind me (who I didn’t know). And in this conversation I had given him my ticket. So when we got up in line, and it was time to board, I asked the guy for my ticket. He looked at really weird and said he didn’t know what I was talking about. I realized at this point that my perceptions were off, and I mumbled sorry and stepped out of line. But when I got outside, I started getting really pissed, thinking that this dude had gotten over on me and still had my ticket. Motherfucker. I waited at the exit with the intention of having it out with this guy. But by the time he come out, I had wandered off somewhere else. Later on, I drove home. At the front door, when I reached in my pocket for the house keys, what did I find? Sure enough. Ticket for the roller coaster.

Relationships can make me lose my mind. Thankfully, I am now in a healthy loving relationship. Given the wreckage of my past, and the fact that destructive behavior at times feels like gravity, I’m amazed. The relationship I was in prior to this one drove me nuts. I’m not saying that flippantly. Nor do I mean stark raving nuts. It’s more like I became somebody else. I was stuck in quicksand. I didn’t have the courage or strength to get out. I tried but it never worked. We were both unhappy for a long time. Maybe it’s that we stuck together out of fear and out of habit. Like the hell I knew was better than an unknown reality. Fear and habit. Addiction. I talk a lot a bout the drugs, but they are just a symptom. The addiction underlies anything and everything: drug use, relationship & sex, money, eating, and on and on. There are endless ways to be addicted. I know that unless I deal with the addiction and not just the symptoms, I’m a goner. And it’s an ongoing process. Anyway, when I finally got out of the aforementioned relationship, I felt so light, so alive. I had chosen to live in this dark cave for too long. A place where in some weird way, I felt like an amputee. Like some part of me was cut off. It was definitely madness of a sort.

Jonesing on Tour

Posted in Cop Shoot Cop, jim coleman, personal histories, Uncategorized with tags , , , , on March 6, 2013 by jimcolemanmusic

In my earlier days of recklessness and misplaced rebellion, I had a lot of highs and a lot of lows. I say misplaced rebellion, because in hindsight every time I took another hit, every time I exhibited some kind of twisted anti social behavior and I thought I was laying out a big “FUCK YOU!” what really was happening was I was saying “FUCK ME!” Sure, I harmed most everyone around me, but I sure did not do much harm to the demons I thought I was lashing out at. And I certainly did myself a world of hurt.

I loved touring. Through most of my 20’s, I played and toured extensively both through the US and Europe with my old band Cop Shoot Cop. To this day, I deeply miss it at times. I know though that that was then and this is now. And I know that memories aren’t reality. An ex girlfriend of mine recently sent me a scan of a postcard I sent her once when I was touring. The first line of it was “I don’t think I can take it anymore!”

Touring would also give me a chance to drag my ass out of the chemical induced slurry pond that I would habitually reside in. I was forced to “clean up”. To me, that meant only ingesting what was available. Sure, I could bring a bunch of smack and crack with me, but that always seemed to run out so damn fast. My radar worked really well, but the fact was that hard drugs just weren’t available on the street in every town. If you ran in to me one week after leaving on tour, you would see a rail thin bug eyed twitching embodiment of depression and wonder. I was scared shitless and in Awe, like I was coming out of hibernation. The world around me was painfully clear and in focus. Light hurt. Noise was wonderful. The only place I felt right was on stage. That 60 to 90 minutes a day was exhilarating, being in the instant. Walking on a razor blade. A hyper-reality. And then the crash.


I would bring my mini pharmacy on the planes. FYI: it is possible to smoke crack in the airplane bathroom and not set off the alarm. I didn’t really think about what would happen if my method didn’t work. It wasn’t really even a choice. It had to work. I at least had to try. My life might be different now if it hadn’t worked.

After about 3 weeks of touring, my body would adjust to this new chemical balance. I’d emerge from withdrawals in to exhaustion, and then the exhaustion would turn in to a long lasting permeating giddiness. This would affect everyone in the band. Everything was funny, and anything was prime material for a joke. I remember getting lost in Philadelphia, and Natz repeatedly leaning out the window, asking people on the street if they could tell us how to find the Plexiglass Children. And being in a supermarket in Seattle, asking the woman at the butcher counter if you could make shakes out of chicken feet. Her answer was, “well, I reckon you could make shakes out of just about anything!” Everything was funny, and nothing was normal. Touring was wonderful because it felt like the rules and norms that contained the straight world couldn’t touch us. As a result, we did many things that could have turned out disastrous. Again, things that could have fucked up our lives for years to come but somehow they didn’t.

Canadian Border.jpg

Picture this: I’m handcuffed and detained (with the rest of my band, but it’s me they’re after) at the Canadian Border, where the authorities are going to confiscate our van along with all our gear, then pass me over to the New York State Troopers at which point I’ll be locked in a cell with the certainty of jail time attached. 3 hours later, not only are we driving away with everything intact, but the Border Cops actually gave me back the bag of dope I had stashed in my cigarette pack. How does this happen? At the time, I just took it in stride, but looking back I feel really really fortunate.

Unresolved church issues

Posted in jim coleman, personal histories, religion with tags , , , on March 4, 2013 by jimcolemanmusic

TelevangelistI’ve always had this weird love/hate thing with churches. Having always disliked organized religions, churches have rubbed me the wrong way. Why is it that people can go around building these huge imposing buildings whose sole purpose is giving people a place to worship? I know, there is also the purpose of building god fearing communities, but let’s put that aside for now. Being a democracy, I should be able to build huge temples to Satan if I worshiped him (or her, as the case may be). But somehow, I don’t think that would be so easy to do. Christ, there was a huge uproar when there was talk of erecting a Mosque near the old World Trade Center location. People just get so narrow minded and fearful.

But sometimes I just love walking in to and sitting in a church for an extended period of time. Okay, I don’t believe in “God”, but holy shit, my mind becomes still and peaceful when I do this. I can meditate much easier. I become quiet. It’s nice.

Once when I was a kid I took a shit in a church. I was pissed off at this whole “God” thing that was being pushed at me. This may have been soon after a friend of mine died in a car crash. The first death that I had to deal with. I remember trying to make sense of this loss. I tried  a few things, including reading the bible. But nothing made this make sense. Now, I’m older. I wouldn’t say death makes sense, but I understand, or at least accept the cycle of birth – life – death. Kind of like a spin cycle in a laundry. But back then I was pissed. I wanted to take a shit on your organized religion, I wanted to shit on your God. Unfortunately, when I look back at it now, I realize the only thing I shat on was the poor custodian who had to clean it up. 20/20 hindsight. I don’t know your name, but I’m sorry.

Later in life, I went through a period where I liked to make out and have sex in churches. Obviously, still some unresolved issues here. And maybe a bit immature. But it was fun. And years after this, I had a period of bridge sex, which may be another entry on another day. I wonder if anyone has ever done a study on site specific sex? Anyway, not much to report on this except it was fun.

At some point in my 20’s, I was doing sound recording for a film in Texas. After the days of shooting were over, I hitchhiked out to the west coast, with a plan to go down in to Baja, Mexico. I landed first in LA. I had read some travel guide that specialized in low cost travel tips, and had highlighted a particular hotel in LA. I can’t recall the name of it. When I got there, the front desk gave me a price that was about three times the price that was listed. I argued with them, and got the price down a bit. Not as far as I wanted, but I was really tired so I just settled for it.

When I got upstairs, I turned on the TV, and the default station was some televangelist prayer ministry. At some point, they had an exterior shot, and I realized I was looking at the hotel I was now in. I looked around the room and quickly saw some other telltale signs. Fuck. I was in some kind of Ministry Hotel. Definitely had the shiver run down my back, the feeling like was in the center of the hive. Somehow, quickly, I had to claim this space as mine. I didn’t have much to work with, but I did what I could: beat off and smoke a joint. Then I walked out of that hotel till late at night, just walking the streets of LA (not much fun). I came back just to sleep. and was so glad to leave there the next day. On to Baja!



Posted in jim coleman, personal histories, Phylr on January 31, 2013 by jimcolemanmusic


Beth B’s film EXPOSED will be premiering next week at the Berlin Film Festival. The film documents the stories and lives of several extreme performance artists coming out of the NYC Burlesque scene. It’s a really awesome film that was a labor of love for many years. It gives me hope in Spiritual and Creative energy to see it come to life in this way. I’m pretty involved, as I have a lot of original music in it, and supervised the creation of a bunch of other music tracks for it as well. Keep your eyes out for it, you should have the chance to see it somewhere down the road.


Silent Scream

Posted in jim coleman, personal histories, Phylr with tags , , , on August 24, 2012 by jimcolemanmusic

I remember once reading the instructions on an airplane for what to do if the plane is going down. I frequently us the analogy of getting my oxygen mask in place before you help someone else. That’s just common sense I think. How can I save you if I can’t breathe? But the direction given after getting your oxygen mask on, and after placing your head between your knees, was “5 seconds of silent scream”. More practical real world advice. Relieves stress, gets your ya ya’s out, and it doesn’t freak out other people around you.