Sunday, August 12, 2018

Still here, sort of

I had an encounter this evening with a guy who was almost too drunk to stand. “Someone’s going to exploit you,” he told me. “What makes you think,” I replied, “That I haven’t been exploited already?”

Not the cleverest of rejoinders, but a pretty good window onto my thoughts lately.  Facebook informed me, not entirely on purpose, that I have now lived in my apartment for a whole year already, which is bizarre in itself.  It's Brazilian Father's Day, and my now teenage son slammed his bedroom door because I turned off the internet at 10 PM.  I'm supposed to expect this kind of behavior, right?

This message references someone
I've never heard of, like it's some
kind of big reveal
Yes I am.  And I do.  And as a parent I will bear this burden.  What I don't expect or think warranted are the anonymous messages I've been getting, again, after a pause of several months.  Someone has been tormenting me via WhatsApp, using various numbers (I suppose it could be more than one person but I very much doubt that).  This person, who is indeed anonymous although I hope they won't remain so for long, has been trying to get me not to trust my friends, saying that they are laughing at me behind my back and taking advantage of me.

They're saying a lot of other things too, I'm not going to get into all the details.  As usual, I should be doing other things, like sleeping.

The thing that really sucks about this situation is that to a large degree it's working, I have stopped trusting my friends.  But I'll tell you why: half of what this person says is total bullshit, but the other half has at least some root in reality.  Conversations I had a few days ago with one of my friends come back to me, albeit scrambled, via this anonymous asshole.  It's infuriating.  I have a few theories about what is going on, but I'll only post one here.  I am confiding in my friends, or one friend in particular, who is then confiding in his friends.  Who is then sharing this information with my online heckler.  Like a game of telephone, this would account for the scramble in the messaging.

Finally fed up and furious with my helplessness in this situation, I did what I suppose is a relatively common solution these days, I posted some of the messages on my Social Media.  This was probably a really dumb thing to do, but it's still too early to tell.  One friend of mine now tells me he is an enemy because of half of a letter that didn't get blurred out when I tried to anonymize the thing, although that's tied up in some other bullshit I have going on, which I will touch on in a couple paragraphs.  Other people are pissed as well, and lots of people are talking about it.

My instincts are sometimes self-destructive.

In other news, my business clings by a thread to solvency.  I've had to take out a couple loans to pay the bills, and at this point my feeling is that if it looks like I'm going to have to do so again to keep the place open, I won't keep the place open.  The Brazilian economy, especially here in the northeast, remains in the toilet and I actually think I've done a pretty amazing job at keeping the place open as long as I have.  But my expenses are enormous and I never seem to get ahead.  And I'm working like a dog and I'm in the middle of a contentious divorce.

I really haven't talked much about the store here on the blog, I really haven't talked about much of anything here on the blog over the last few years.  But this whole graffiti shop thing is kinda playing itself out, at least for me.  Ever since I started the thing I've been working on diversifying my offerings, which is a good thing because it appears that a large number of my spray-paint-buying clients have abandoned me.  There are a number of reasons for this, partly because the spray that everyone wants can be bought in dozens of stores in the city now, partly because the spray has gotten expensive.

But apparently part of the problem is that a lot of people just don't like me.  As I mentioned I have some self destructive tendencies, and apparently I've pissed some people off.  I've also been hearing that some people resent me because I'm a foreigner, and they think I'm taking advantage of them.  Someone told me on Friday that he was told it was better to paint with latex paint than "give your money to the gringo." I didn't bother to ask who said that to him.  I really don't want to know.

From my point of view, and here we go with the self destructive tendencies again, I think...

Time for a disclaimer.  Never can have enough disclaimers in this turbulent world we live in.  I have a lot of great and loyal customers who appreciate what I do, and I am thankful for that.

So as I was saying, from my point of view the people who think this way are not only assholes, and wrong, but they also don't appreciate what I've done over these last almost ten years.  Sure, I took advantage of a market that I saw was available, but I also invested pretty much everything I had in an art store, providing things that nobody else was selling at the time, and largely to this day.  Lots of people "In The Scene" don't seem to really care about the unique things I have to offer in terms of graffiti paraphernalia, and a lot of things that would be staples in any other graffiti shop I don't even bother to carry anymore because there's no market for them here.

Also it should be mentioned that the ranks of those In The Scene seem to have thinned considerably.

I would love to just say fuck it and believe it or not I have said that, to myself, from time to time.  I have tried to move to other art supplies to provide other markets to other customers with a different set of needs and motivations and idiosyncrasies, but the unfortunate reality is that the majority of my sales are still spray paint.  Hundreds and hundreds of cans of spray paint.

I have made little secret of the fact that I'm getting tired of running a graffiti shop.  Be careful what you ask for... a bunch of my (ex?) customers are flocking to a store that sells Chinese watches and perfume because the owner has decided to sell spray paint and doesn't appear to be interested in making any money at it.  Mostly what my disgruntled ex-customers want is cheap paint, so an idiot who is willing to sell paint basically at cost is a dream come true for them.  One of my formerly best customers is planning to open a store as well, which would probably be much more serious competition for me because he is steeped in Graffiti Love in a way that I never have been.  For me graffiti is just one medium amongst many.  A very cool one, to be sure, but I've never been one to dedicate myself wholly to one way of making art.

Anyhow if the store closes that's the end of that.  And I'm fucked in more ways than one.  It would probably be the beginning of the end of my time in Brazil, but it's possible those seeds germinated some time ago.  Who are we kidding, this blog is called "What am I Doing Here."

Back in the day I edited my posts carefully, and they were better for it.  But it's midnight, I need to be up a 6, and I'm the kind of guy whose day is essentially shot on six hours sleep.  So I'm gonna click Publish and hope none of my words come back to haunt me.  Thanks for sticking with me, dear reader, and here's hoping I have more and better news in the relatively near future.  Good night.

No comments: