When I told Ed Luce that I would attend the opening for Goteblüd, I had know idea that it was going to take place within the abandoned husk of my old school. Isuppose I just didn’t read the address, but if I had read it I would’ve instantly recongnized it as the former locale of New College of California. I mean, I don’t think I repressed the address so deep that I wouldn’t know it at a glance. I used to address envelopes for the Experimental Performance Institute as a work study student while I earned my MA/MFA in Writing & Consciousness. After I graduated, I worked as an Admissions Counselor. I was more than familiar with that address. Hell, that address was why I moved to San Francisco. It’s what got me to where I am today.
But it died. And it wasn’t pretty. And it wasn’t just, sacred or sustainable, which were the principles for which it was created. The Administration was as crooked as a lightning strike and it poisoned the heart of the higher learning. My education at New College was the most phenomenal thing that has ever happened to me. I learned more about myself (and my community and the world) in two years than I thought possible. I studied under some of the best minds that this world has in it. Poets, artists, philosophers, healers, activists, actors, writers, environmentalists, counselors, green lawyers, performers, clowns, singers, lecturers, teachers, students; Everyday my way of thinking was challenged and expanded. Culturally inherited stereotypes were consistently shattered, imploded and deconstructed. A place like that could only exist in San Francisco.
But it went bankrupt. Morally first and then later, financially.
I was really happy to work for New College after I graduated. I wanted to give back to the entity that had given me a community of creators in which I found the strength of spirit and the precision of craft to write memoir. I spoke at Open Houses. I campaigned for experimental education and a post-modern multi-cultural de-centered authority structures. I was a cheerleader, channeling my inner Lisa Simpson.
It lasted 9 months. It was a messy, painful breakdown and then breakup. New College of California still owes me $7,000 in back pay. There was some hearing with the Labor Board and then the Tax Board took it over and New College just recently filed for bankruptcy, or so I heard. But hey, I at least got my degree! My year was the last one that did. Everyone after that has a bunch of credits that don’t count for squat at another institution of higher learning. But didn’t ya’ll go there knowing that it wasn’t about that degree? It was never going to get you a job in the first place. You had to have known that. New College was always about the education and not the degree. It was the journey, not the outcome. Honor your process.
I am standing in what was once the meeting room in which I used to tutor students in writing. The walls have been painted in rich browns and one wall is ceiling to floor carpeting that incorporates kitty shelves and cubby holes. It’s a cat’s paradise! Across from the kitty wall there a Slash ‘zines in a giant grid, individually wrapped in plastic. The yellowed paper curls around the edges as splashes of printing ink morph into rock and punk stars from a time when drugs and fashion were the coolest.
Those Slash covers are an art piece unto themself. They are stars to reach for, but perhaps too far away to own. However, built into the kitty wall are shelves of vintage ‘zines organized by lotsa different categories. I saw some really cool feminist and gay girl ‘zines and I bought a couple of amazing comics, too! I passed on a Peter Bagge comics, but I was really impressed to find it there.
And it’s not just ‘zines at Goteblüd! You can buy issues and original art from Ed Luce’s amazing comic Wuvable Oaf! I am seriously contemplating how I can get another job to buy some of that art! His economy of line is amazing! No wonder Jill Thompson called Ed’s art the best cartooning she had ever seen (And she did, I was there, I know).
From the decay there has arisen a new creation. I am so glad that Goteblüd has manifested inside those old bones. Goddess knows that place has needed new blood pumped into it for a long time. Tonight I walked from Swankety Swank, down Divisadero, through the homo-homogenized Castro, under the orange light of the full moon. The visions of the futures from the day’s X-Men Tarot readings gave way to memories of the past. My last two clients were students of Writing & Consciousness (They graduated the year before I did). I had not seen them since the school collapsed and I showed them the flier for Goteblüd. One of them said, “Wouldn’t it be funny if that was the address for New College?”
On my walk to Goteblüd, the moon filled me with its burnt light. I understood that I had to release the feelings I had about New College. I needed to let it all go. It was a great moment when i finally arrived at 789 Valencia St. and saw Mark in the street. We hugged, and I thought, yes, it is the old New College building. I smiled and breathed in. There was a sense of satisfaction in my step because I knew that I was walking into the presence of creation. Life springing forth from the fertile carcass of the best two years of my life. I was confident in the work produced by my friend Ed Luce and let my love for his art transform my experiences of that building.
I walked into Goteblüd and let go of New College. I the midst of a joyful celebration, I found liberation.
Your mileage, as they say, might vary. This won’t be your experience. However, if you aren’t reading Wuvable Oaf, then you are doing yourself a disservice. And if you don’t get a copy, I’m not sure for how much longer we can be friends.
Seriously, it is one of my favorite comics. Go to Goteblüd and check out Ed’s art and rummage through some vintage ‘zines, dear reader! And if you are of a notion to become an amazing writer AND an exceptional human being, then consider getting a masters degree in Writing & Consciousness. The program that I graduated from still thrives, having been umbrelled by this entity. Ain’t life grand?