Category Archives: DAVID LESTER ART

Normal History Vol. 327: The Art Of David Lester

Every Saturday, we’ll be posting a new illustration by David Lester. The Mecca Normal guitarist is visually documenting people, places and events from his band’s 31-year run, with text by vocalist Jean Smith.

[continued from last week]

An excerpt from Holding Up the Falling Snake Sky, a novel (literary fiction) by Jean Smith

In what she told Griffin was “a stroke of unmedicated genius that Einstein himself would be proud of,” Odele had stretched garden netting wall-to-wall across the ceiling and cleverly slid all her mother’s snake paintings under it, facing down. Griffin wasn’t sure that having paintings on the ceiling was such great an idea until Odele admonished him for never having heard of the Sisdean Chapel.

“It’s dead classy, Griffin. Which is maybe why you don’t know about it!” she’d said caustically, hands on hips. Griffin had shrugged and wandered off recalling the only piece of advice his father had given him on marriage. Pick your battles, son. Pick your friggin’ battles.

His vision nearly always blurry with tears, Martin’s brain created a watery writhing as his eyes darted fearfully from snake-to-snake. Crying on his back with his arms flailing, he exhausted himself holding up the falling snake sky with his pudgy splayed fingers.

Fearful in his baby-mind that they’d close his drawer to stop his crying, he was terrified that there would be snakes there too. The idea of being inside the dresser, knowing the snakes were above him and not being able to see them, left him in a frantic state, a muddy-purple conundrum of needing to see the snakes he never wanted to see.

“Narrow” from Jarred Up (K, 1993) (download):

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Normal History Vol. 326: The Art Of David Lester

Every Saturday, we’ll be posting a new illustration by David Lester. The Mecca Normal guitarist is visually documenting people, places and events from his band’s 31-year run, with text by vocalist Jean Smith.

An excerpt from Holding Up the Falling Snake Sky, a novel (literary fiction) by Jean Smith

Martin Lewis was born in 1956 when his mother Odele was 34 years old. Continuing part time at the drug store, Odele left her husband Griffin to look after the baby, to change diapers and put him down for his naps in the top drawer of a pine dresser in the living room, and when Martin cried, Griffin carried him the four blocks to the drug store, holding the squalling mass away from his body, like a bowl of soup or something else he didn’t want to get all over his vest. Odele took the baby into the storeroom and gave him his bottle, but neither formula nor her attention stopped the crying. Where once there was the sound of Odele’s laughter alternating with the squeak of the greeting-card rack, there was now a baby wailing well beyond what anyone considered normal. Customers frowned and looked over the tops of their glasses to tsk-tsk the inappropriate nature of the Lewis’ arrangement. To them, it almost went without saying that the combination of a working mother and a father so obviously inept at childrearing were the root of child’s distress.

The couple consulted Dr. Spock’s Common Sense Book Of Baby And Child Care and heeded advice to not pick Martin up every time he cried. They left him to stew in the top drawer of the dresser, squirming so intensely that Odele feared he’d manage to wiggle out and land on the floor. Griffin tried to appease her by moving the baby down to the third drawer, claiming he was “as snug as a bug in a drawer,” which irritated Odele.

[to be continued]

“Fan Of Sparks” from Jarred Up (K, 1993) (download):

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Normal History Vol. 325: The Art Of David Lester

Every Saturday, we’ll be posting a new illustration by David Lester. The Mecca Normal guitarist is visually documenting people, places and events from his band’s 31-year run, with text by vocalist Jean Smith.

An excerpt from Holding Up the Falling Snake Sky, a novel (literary fiction) by Jean Smith

Nadine was reminded of Trevor’s incessant jealousy, always thinking some guy on the street was looking at her. The first time it happened, she felt flattered. She knew she shouldn’t, but she did. It had been a long time since men paid attention to her in the street—she was in her 50s for god’s sake. She was happy with how she looked, and actually, it was a relief to not have random men saying stupid things to her. Smile baby.

Nadine got a tremendous amount of satisfaction in striding down the street without being taunted by men. She was an observer, comfortable in her own skin, looking directly at men without them reacting to her. They were looking elsewhere—for women they could more easily intimidate. No more whistling from construction sites where men were basically donkeys lugging stuff around in the rain. They needed to make someone else feel shittier than they did, so they picked on women passing by, calling out clichés to diminish, frighten and anger them. The men themselves were safe behind scaffolding or on the other side of a muddy hole in the ground—cowards. Bus drivers, mailmen and storekeepers didn’t whistle and say nice ass to her, but give a guy a hard hat, a nail gun and something to hide behind and they’d be spouting the same crap. “The big secret about men,”thought Nadine, “is that they are mostly cowards who can’t navigate their way through anything important or difficult without resorting to lying and manipulating.”

“Armchairs Fit Through Doorways” from Jarred Up (K, 1993) (download):

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Normal History Vol. 324: The Art Of David Lester

Every Saturday, we’ll be posting a new illustration by David Lester. The Mecca Normal guitarist is visually documenting people, places and events from his band’s 31-year run, with text by vocalist Jean Smith.

An excerpt from Holding Up the Falling Snake Sky, a novel (literary fiction) by Jean Smith

The word “claustrophobic” felt like the tide coming in at Tin Can Beach on the Bay of Fundy where, as a boy, he’d built barricades out of old tires, chunks of cement, waterlogged plywood covered in frayed fiberglass and anything else he could haul into position to try and halt the slow-but-steady rise of the world’s highest tides. By the time he was old enough to disappear for the day, he’d walk the 20 minutes from his family’s small, second-storey apartment in a dilapidated tenement building on Coburg Street in Saint John, straight down Charlotte and across the vacant land where locals dumped broken furniture and yard trimmings punctuated with the odd box of old magazines and newspapers.

On one occasion, while Martin was dragging a tattered blue tarp into place, he saw an eel measuring about a foot-and-a-half swimming anxiously along the perimeter of his barricade, no doubt looking for a crevice to squeeze into. Martin spontaneously looked up, as if the eel was a reflection of something above him. The seamless blue sky and the idea of the eel being able to swim over the top of his construction as soon as the water was high enough triggered Martin’s claustrophobia. He felt every drop of the world’s water rushing in his direction while the eel twisted aggressively, popping its snake-like head out of the water to assess both Martin and the obstacle. In Martin’s mind, the snake fish was after him and on the wide open beach, everywhere was too far for him to run. As the water rose up towards his ankles he couldn’t do anything to stop the eel.

Wrenching a chunk of cement out of the barricade he stumbled backwards, landing hard on his right side. The side with the limp. He hated it when his mother referred to it as your limp or his limp.

Martin can’t participate in PE today because of his limp—she’d print on the back of a piece of cardboard she’d torn off the top of a corn flake box or whatever was handy, sending him off to school before he could find the words to say that a limp was a symptom and not an actual…

He jumped up, grabbed the chunk of cement and positioned himself on a half-sunk truck tire to wait for the eel to get close enough for him to drop the chunk of cement on it. To crush it. He stood motionlessly until his thin, freckled arms began to tremble. The wind whipped his overly-long, mid-summer hair into his eyes. In his peripheral vision, the long blades of grass that lined the shore hissed as they slithered together—they themselves were not so far from the snake-shape that loomed nearby, defying him. Killing the eel was the only solution, but the eel was long gone.

“This Is Different” from Jarred Up (K, 1993) (download):

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Normal History Vol. 323: The Art Of David Lester

Every Saturday, we’ll be posting a new illustration by David Lester. The Mecca Normal guitarist is visually documenting people, places and events from his band’s 31-year run, with text by vocalist Jean Smith.

[continued from last week]

Martin pushed back the sleeve of his rain jacket and looked at his watch—9:40 a.m. “Mike’s probably jealous because I’m submitting a painting to a museum,” Martin thought, trying to recall if he’d even asked Mike about his painting. Maybe that was it. He hadn’t played the game properly. He’d forgotten to ask Val about the garden and Mike about his painting. “Damn!” thought Martin. “I’ll call him later, ask him about his painting and let him know I’ll be on the 7:30 p.m. ferry. What’s he going to do? Say no?” Martin chuckled, happy to have solved the problem. Mike can deal with Val. She’s his wife. Maybe there’ll be leftovers.

“Horse Heaven Hills” from Jarred Up (K, 1993) (download):

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Normal History Vol. 322: The Art Of David Lester

Every Saturday, we’ll be posting a new illustration by David Lester. The Mecca Normal guitarist is visually documenting people, places and events from his band’s 31-year run, with text by vocalist Jean Smith.

[continued from last week]

Stating the obvious didn’t usually get the results Martin wanted. He knew there was a better chance of it working out in his favor if he waited before he spoke. He and Mike hadn’t really spent much time together in the past 25 years, but the situation was perfect. Why can’t they see that? Martin wondered. How can they be so selfish?

Staying at Val and Mike’s was, to Martin, a given. He’d been doing it for years. He could get a mid-afternoon ferry from Denman, take a leisurely drive down Vancouver Island and get to Val and Mike’s quaint, completely refurbished 1940s house in Nanaimo in time for dinner. There was no denying that Val was a great cook. It was perfect. Why are they being so abrasive? Martin wondered. Maybe I’ll call first next time … no, that won’t work. They might say no.

[to be continued]

“He Didn’t Say” from Jarred Up (K, 1993) (download):

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Normal History Vol. 321: The Art Of David Lester

Every Saturday, we’ll be posting a new illustration by David Lester. The Mecca Normal guitarist is visually documenting people, places and events from his band’s 31-year run, with text by vocalist Jean Smith.

[continued from last week]

It seemed like every time he came into town he had too many things to accomplish. This trip was no different except that he didn’t really have to be back on Denman Island for anything in particular. Now that he was happily divorced, and his kids had left home, he could stay away as long as he wanted. And, he realized, “I’m in no big hurry to go back to Val and Mike’s after this morning.”

Their reaction had been particularly chilly when he’d told them he’d probably be back by 9:30 or later or maybe not at all. Martin scratched his head again. “How did she put it?” he said, turning his head sideways, trying to recall Val’s exact words. “It’s time you stopped treating us like … ” Martin couldn’t remember the rest because he’d stopped listening and gone into a bit of an internal panic. He needed Mike and Val’s place, but he knew he shouldn’t just say that.

[to be continued]

“Forlorn” from Jarred Up (K, 1993) (download):

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Normal History Vol. 320: The Art Of David Lester

Every Saturday, we’ll be posting a new illustration by David Lester. The Mecca Normal guitarist is visually documenting people, places and events from his band’s 31-year run, with text by vocalist Jean Smith.

Martin Lewis pulled his old school bus into a parking spot a block away from The Black Dot Museum of Political Art and switched off the engine. He sat there looking straight ahead, listening to the sound of rain falling on the length of the metal roof—a sound he found vaguely annoying.

Am I ever going to see a sunny day in this city?” he said out loud, trying to recall a single trip to Vancouver when he’d been able to get errands done without having to deal with the rain. It was only 9:30 a.m., and he already felt like it had been a long day. He yawned loudly, stretched and scratched his head all at the same time. Maybe I should take a little nap, he thought to himself. But a nap will throw things off schedule.

[to be continued]

“Man Thinks Woman” from Jarred Up (K, 1993) (download):

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Normal History Vol. 319: The Art Of David Lester

Every Saturday, we’ll be posting a new illustration by David Lester. The Mecca Normal guitarist is visually documenting people, places and events from his band’s 31-year run, with text by vocalist Jean Smith.

On March 31, I noticed an interesting tweet from the Canadian Museum of Human Rights. They wanted people to tweet them images that they intended to showcase on a big screen in the museum during the day. What a great idea! I decided to tweet jpegs of David Lester‘s “Inspired Agitators” poster series and some of his other illustrations related to human rights. As directed, I used the hashtag #VisitCMHR. I didn’t really expect they’d put them up on their big screen, because that would just be too easy, right? And they didn’t, as far as I know. As the day went on, I got the gist of their intentions: selfies at the museum. Argh. So rather than an art exhibit at the Museum of Human Rights, it turned out to be an art exhibit on Twitter that a few friends—including K Records boss Calvin Johnson—re-tweeted.

And do you know what? I think this was even better than the museum showing the jpegs. The situation gave me a reason to consider our long friendship with Calvin—our shared concerns that go beyond bands and sound recordings to human rights, and a continued consideration of whatever comes up in front of us as a viable method to transmit thought in whatever form it takes—from cassettes to tweets!

If you’re so inspired, you can search and re-tweet David Lester’s drawings and posters using #VisitCMHR on March 31, 2015

“Strong White Male” from Jarred Up (K, 1993) (download):

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Normal History Vol. 318: The Art Of David Lester

Every Saturday, we’ll be posting a new illustration by David Lester. The Mecca Normal guitarist is visually documenting people, places and events from his band’s 31-year run, with text by vocalist Jean Smith.

In 2009, Wendy Atkinson (whose three solo experimental bass albums are on Smarten UP!) played with Jandek at his Vancouver appearance. I don’t mean that she opened for him; I mean they played together. He selected her (and several other musicians) to work with.

It was all very exciting and totally out-of-the-blue, but my question was: What would it be like to play with one as uniquely unpredictable as Jandek? Thinking that it might be pretty uncomfortable, I suggested to Wendy that she and I get together a few times to get her warmed up for the show. I volunteered to act like Jandek, and yes, we video-ed the whole thing. Wendy played bass and I played kooky guitar and made up a pile of lyrics on the spot.

Anyway, as you can see I’ve gone and made the release of Wendy Atkinson’s new album The Last Fret all about me. What kind of person am I?

You can “Like” Wendy Atkinson’s Facebook page or “Like” the newly overhauled Smarten Up! & Get to the Point Editions page … I mean, you don’t have to choose … there’s plenty of Dave to go around … oops, I mean … she’s no Yoko Ono … I mean, she actually is, but not in that way …

OMG. I’ll stop now.

“Trapped Against” from Dovetail (K, 1992) (download):

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