Category Archives: how to
A month ago I was preaching about taxes and organization. (Our Qualified Joint Venture blog) Ashley and I have a very complicated tax situation, nobody wants me to drag it out and explain it, but I emphasize that it’s very complicated. Thats why I bought the army file cabinet and promised not to fill it with shoe boxes, but use folders rather, and intermittently affix staples and paper clips.
That’s not all it took. The local bank has been easy enough to let Ashley and I conduct our regular business through our alter-identities: those being the fake names Levon Walker and Ashley Addair. Truth is, there are no such legal persons. Maybe you know my real name, which indicates our relationship predates 2008 when I adopted the name Levon from the 1971 Elton John hit song “Levon” from the Madman Across the Water album.
(note: “Levon” like “Levi’s.” Say it: LEEEEEEE, not leVon. end of note).
As for Ashley, well, she took “Walker” back in the summer of 2004. Addair is maiden. Dawn is the given middle. We go to the local bank I where I used to work, nobody bothers us about it. I’m getting to my point, after this one.
An artist is a small business like any other self employed entity in the great city of Knoxville, the county of Knox, the state of Tennessee, and the U.S. of America where the artist may be regulated and taxed at each level by its respective authority. That being the case, and in the spirit of owning a large, green file cabinet, we finally decided to organize.
We opened a small business entitled “Ashley Dawn Addair and Levon Walker,” obtained the city and county business licenses, applied for the state sales tax I.D. number and finally opened a commercial bank account. Our fake names exist now as a legal entity, although the owners remain the mysterious Mr. and Mrs. R Walker.
All of this babble has not been coffee shop conversation. I thought it worth sharing in part because having just gone through it, I’d be glad to assist the steps of another fellow who needs to get it done.
Also, for the story begun in this blog, it’s important to note the full circle. I’m back to the days of walking away from the desk (actually several of them) and classifying it all as “that stuff.” ”That stuff” doesn’t go away just because you want to be a songwriter. True, if one stays broke they aren’t forced to look at much of it. Unfortunately, ignorance is prohibiting.
Business principles aren’t the first thing I think of when focusing creative energy. I think of Jack Donaghy. No seriously, when I’m squandering I don’t do good work, or at least I can’t get it to stick. It takes an organized effort.
Especially when taking the last, tender step away from part time jobs and trying to stay off them.
I’m going to be a dad soon, and at times I think about going back to what some would call security. What I’ve learned most clearly in the last couple rambling years is that security exists, but it has nothing to do with the external. You can be secure in yourself and that is all. Beyond that you need faith, and when you can’t find faith, look for hope.
When I worry about it, I remember what David Johnson told me recently, “If it’s good for you, it’s good for your kid.”
Ashley and I are going to do this. Life is going to change, oh yes. But it won’t change to anything that doesn’t align with where we are now. And, we have a file cabinet to tell us where that is.
We were walking yesterday to our neighborhood Food For All when I decided to document the pregnant lady, 8 weeks to the day. She got totally emotional about it, but then it passed.
People ask me how she’s doing. I lie to them. ”Fine,” I say. But by “fine” I mean normal for the first trimester, which implies covered with blankets and asking for food then pushing it away, running over to the wastebasket to throw up and never getting to, and being upset about what I consider the least of our concerns. That’s what I mean by fine.
We’re going to Food For All at the Fergusons’. Lentil soup and cheese bread they said, and I’m grateful because it got her moving. Tonight FFA is at our house and we’re making pizzas. 20 people will come pick it up, we each cook once a week in pairs of couples.
I said, “Ashley come with me. The cheese bread will be cold by the time I get home.”
She came forth.
I don’t know how this shot got in here.
We sold the dryer a while back to raise capital, before the NYC spanking debacle. And since then we only do laundry on sunny days. The free standing rack we got at IKEA can’t always hold the weight when a sunny day coincides with the initiative to tackle the laundry heap. Usually we have to peel it like an onion for three sunny days. The answer: a laundry line.
Today’s blog will be a “how-to” on building your own laundry line. Why would you want one? (According to Project Laundry List) 10. Save money, 9. Clothes last longer (where do you think lint comes from?), 8. Pleasant scent, 7. Saves Energy, Preserves Environment, Reduces pollution, 6. Healthy work, 5. Sunshine treatment (sunlight bleaches and disenfects), 4. Replace another appliance, 3. Avoid a fire, 2. It is fun! 1. It is truly patriotic (demonstrates that small steps make a difference, you don’t have to wait for government action)
So here we go. Two 12′ 4×4″s will give you a 6′ high line if you cut 3′ for your cross piece and leave enough to sink. In the tennessee red clay, I gave myself two feet and cut off the rest.
Screw the two pieces together and dig some holes. Mix your concrete according to instructions.
This big iron noodle is for feeding coal into the old fashioned furnaces from around here. I’ve never figured out to do with one now, but it busts up the limestone in the clay, very neatly.
Wait for the posts to set. Maybe you have time to watch this music video, it’s about a girl who makes it rain every time she puts out her clothes to dry:
Then you hang your lines. Use i-hooks for the best look. To save a few bucks, drill holes and tie off (tape the rope to a screwdriver and pull it through). There are pulleys too, if you want to pretend you’re hanging your drawers between buildings.
You can tell I’ve got some sag on the first time. That denim is heavy.
I’m working on a song called “Laundry Line.” It talks about when we should and shouldn’t bring up difficult matters in situations. If you want to be transparent, there are places to hang a laundry line and others that you shouldn’t. But on this particular corner, my shorts are blowing in the wind.
I was just making fresh pesto for tonight’s Food For All. Pesto for twenty and it can’t be eaten yet, basil is precious right now.
Then I was staring at two extra garlic cloves, peeled and sitting in a bowl. My friend Edwin in Mexico taught me a trick. It’s too early to call a habit.
Bite the garlic and chase it with hot, black coffee.
It burned a lot less today than I remembered. I grabbed some fiery mustard and a jar of banana peppers (the fridge is rather well stocked with condiments right now). I ate a couple peppers and swigged coffee, reminiscing. Ashley can’t or won’t talk to me the rest of the day when I do this.
For the second clove, I buried it in mustard and threw it back like a grape. I reached for the coffee and chased. Slamming the fiesta ware on the formica, I exhaled fire. It stung my eyes. Then came tightness of the chest and the back of my neck began to sweat. Gosh I miss Edwin.
Then in a few seconds it passed. I am getting stronger.
(by Levon who is listening to Josh Rouse, “See How Man was Made”)
The Mason Jar is getting a makeover today. Our deciduous forest of greens and brown is going stark white. Actually, Swiss Coffee 50 Y Y 83/057 and seven gallons worth.
Ashley makes these decisions and I get on the ladder. However, I will testify that it is easy to point out which pictures were painted in a lime green room and which one’s weren’t. The periphery of a room is carried onto the canvas, just like the sweet tones of a Levon Walker tune being crafted from somewhere upstairs. But today I’m on the ladder.
This is the third time I’ve painted most of the house. If you guessed the original color and you said white, you’d be stealing the mutter from under my breath. However all whites are not created equal. She brought home 75 chips to test the light. I’m not convinced it’s the final answer, but every man who’s been in my situation understands. You choose your battles carefully in the game of love.
“Better to live on the corner of the roof than share a house with a brawling woman,” or so says the Proverb. Solomon had a lot of women, but go read how many years it took him to get his house in order. I like one gal pretty good and I think white will be fine.
It’s the cleanest our house has ever been. So clean it makes me nervous. We’re house #8 on Old North Knoxville’s historic home tour and everything started last night. The people, trolleys and tour buses (yes) will be here later today and I’m just trying to not make a mess. We’re told that around 1,200 people come out every year to look at these old Victorians, Craftsmans, and weird garage-like structures such as ours. The 1241 Armstrong story, which I will be repeating ceaselessly over the weekend, is that here was the original corner grocery store in 1925. It later became a mayonnaise factory, a medical supply distributer, a pinball/jukebox warehouse, and finally a home in the mid 1980′s.
The house has been televised twice. Rumor has it that an original HGTV episode was filmed here in the early 90′s and when we bought the place in 2006 it looked like the hangout, The Max from “Saved by the Bell.” With black and white checkerboard linoleum, astroturf carpet on concrete slab, purple walls with a reflective metallic sheen and apple red doors. It needed an update, but it was a great Max.
The old place has taught me a lot. I flooded it when I started plumbing. Tiled each bathroom twice. Blew myself up shoving a wire in a wall that hid an iron pipe. Ashley made me paint some rooms as many as 7 times. I got my wood stove so hot once it melted the paint and then collapsed. Nearly burned the house down and had to move out for awhile from the smoke damage. The biggest learning experience was the Renovation Reality episode we filmed here in 2007. I’ve told that story before. We cancelled out on the home tour that year because of my ineptitude, but guess what: that home tour was fake.
Here is the official page for this year’s 22 annual tour, which includes a preview of all the homes and info about where to get tickets and catch a ride. We’re going to stay off the floors, play Scrabble and wait.
[ from a. addair who is listening to Arcade Fire (Funeral) ]
on living as a working artist…
and though i don’t want to make it seem too simplistic or easy, it has been one of the best decisions of my entire life. i love it, it’s a challenge, but i love it and wouldn’t trade it for anything else.
it takes a bit of a paradigm shift from what our culture tells us about work, success, and provision. i think there are several types of creative business models, but i’ll tell you about the one that i’m going by. (which is much less business minded than most…my way is not the way to make lots of money, but in my opinion its the way to make good art and a good life).
advise: whew. ummmmmmm,
well, be courageous. we only have a limited amount of lifeblood so be sure that you’re spending it in a way that aligns with your values. working for yourself, you have freedom to do some really exciting things, but also room for big waste. so think through what you believe to be important and then make up a specific plan/schedule to get you there. this includes how to make money, why you want to practice photography, how you want to spend your time, what feeds you life, what drains you of life, marketing, goals, why those goals are important…etc. (set up times to adjust and re-evaluate this plan because you’ll be learning lots and it will change, but even as things continually shift you must maintain intentionality… i re-evaluate once a month and do a big check-up yearly).
i don’t know your relationship to your art, but for me it is sometimes difficult to manage the business side of painting, because i don’t believe it to be primarily a commodity. think through this and make sure your art won’t be compromised by relying on it for income.
lower your cost of living. this gives you freedom to take risks and lowers the stressfulness of slow months.
okay, so that is pretty general and abstract but foundational. so do a lot of thinking before you make the jump.
as you start making really practical decisions i can share my experiences of those too. its just a lot and i dont want to over supply a response, but i’m happy to answer questions as they come.
lastly, i think its exciting. and though i don’t know the details of your life and work, i’m happy to hear that your thinking of doing this. it can be such a step toward freedom and fulfillment.
be brave and wise,