Archive for known unknown

Overbrook Psychiatric Hospital

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on March 25, 2015 by jimcolemanmusic

One day while taking a ike ride with my daughter I looked up and saw what turned out to be Overbrook Hospital (aka Essex County Psychiatric Hospital). We found a way in, but I had to come back on my own as she wasn’t so keen on exploring. Here is a video of one walk down the halls. Music is from my eurorack modular setup…

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.

Video: Abstract Life

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , on April 3, 2012 by jimcolemanmusic

Music is from series of tracks entitled “Lost City”, originally for live performance with Kristen McCord on Violin, Ted Barron on photos of NYC circa 1980’s and spoken words by Drew Hubner, taken from his “East of Bowery” blog:

Whether I’m working in music, still images or video, I am always driven by, and captivated by, making the known unknown. Perhaps it’s my childish hope that there is magic lying underneath the downtrodden surface.