A Short Essay on Shanty Town Blog (an Update of Sorts)

Hello, all. I want to talk a little about the current state of Shanty Town and about the future. Some realizations have hit me recently about the content I’ve posted here, and I think it’s important that I address them for anyone looking at this blog for the first time. Sorry if you’re here for whacky art or poetry, I promise I’ll be back to that soon. I just feel like I have to get this out.

For me, Shanty Town functions as a sort of time capsule that shows what I’ve been interested in, both in terms of style and in terms of content. In the course of looking back at the posts on this blog, I’ve traditionally seen the periods my art has taken in terms of the art’s form. How I’ve experimented, improved, and iterated over the years. I like seeing my progress as a writer and an artist, and that’s been my main takeaway in the past when I’ve looked through my backlog.

Recently, however, I’ve been struck by the content of the blog itself. For some reason, the way my art is perceived from an outside view has recently been more apparent to me than ever. It may seem strange for an artist to have a limited understanding of his own work, but sometimes subconscious thoughts come into play in ways that even the author (or especially the author) can’t see outright.

The root of my realization is this: the content on this blog is extremely, unflinchingly bleak. It’s no shock to anyone who’s read it, but it’s struck me that the stories I tell here consistently end abruptly, on sour notes that give no sense of redemption or resolution to the narrative. The subject matter I depict is mined from the worst sides of human experiences; deceit, hatred, murder, suffering, pain.

Most of the art here seems written from a place of exhaustion with these truths, uncertainty about the future, and a desire to jolt readers out of a positive mindset. You could argue, as I have before, that storytelling like this reflects reality. And admittedly, there is some truth to that. Looking back, I think my choices in subject matter reflect a desire to understand and cope with the darkness inherent in our reality here on earth, and sometimes that’s an important thing. But it’s not the entire picture.

I wouldn’t say I regret writing any of the content here. It’s an honest expression of what I was feeling when I wrote it, and I still think many of the ideas I’ve presented here are well-realized and interesting. It’s largely still art I’m extremely proud of, and I believe there is worth to portraying the darker shades of human nature. There’s nothing wrong with enjoying these works, and there’s nothing wrong with exploring these places in art once in a while.

However, going forward, I feel that I need to drift from Shanty Town’s typically macabre subject matter somewhat. I want to learn how to portray brighter emotions like joy and fulfillment without them feeling disingenuous or forced. I want to break from grotesquery as a constant and try to portray the depth of human experience more accurately. 

Ultimately, I guess I just feel ready to turn the page on extreme, unflinching negative thought like this. The writing I do here, for better or worse, is a reflection of me and my thought process. And, as the content here would imply, my thought process has returned to depressive places again and again in the past few years.

Frankly, I feel worn down. In looking over my previous posts these last few days, they’ve made me feel nothing but jaded and sad. I don’t want that to be the only feeling my work incites. I want to make art that explores brighter emotions. I want to recognize all sides of life, the ups as well as the downs. I want to move forward.

You may be wondering why I’m leaving all the old posts up, or why I’m not just making a new blog. First off, as I said, I still enjoy the content I’ve presented here over the years. It’s neat to me to watch my writing and drawing blossom as you scroll up from the bottom, and some of these stories and art pieces represent huge steps forward for me as I’ve strived to be a more effective artist.

Second, my work reflects me as a person and it will naturally change as I do. If it seems like this shift in tone is a big one, that’s only because the shift I’ve taken in real life is pretty significant, too. In a world filled with false, surface-level positivity, it’s taken me up until now to realize that I’ve thrown the baby out with the bathwater in trying to “see things as they really are”.

 Sometimes, reality really is filled with peace and joy. I’m realizing more and more that it’s not dishonest or intellectually bankrupt to portray these things in art. I hope that by writing to define what is good and pure in my experiences, I can learn to let these emotions flow better as well.

I can’t promise I’ll never write anything dark again, because I surely will at some point. I can’t promise I’ll start out making art that’s emotionally effective as I try to find balance in the way I perceive things. All I can really promise the readers of this blog is that it will keep going, for better or worse, in good frames of mind and in bad, as long as I have fingers to type with. Thank you to everybody who read this whole thing.


Twits on Parade (also Shanty Town is on Twitter now I guess)

Note: This image is low resolution and weirdly sized because it was made as a header for the official Shanty Town Twitter. If you can believe it, it’s actually smaller and blurrier on the Twitter page. So that’s just a big load of suck. Anyway, follow the page if you want. I’m talking to you, two people who regularly read this blog.

Top 10 BEST Catchphrases of ALL TIME!

Hi to you whose belly rubs the ground! I love catch phrases. I like moms. I love me my chicken lard. Ten to one, it’s a whale of a time, matey!

Number 10- “Boy Howdy”

I love boy howdies in the sunshine. They make my heart hurt for howdy man plan dings. I like their… subtlety. Genius, mama.

Number 9- “Darn Tooten”

More than all the other little catch boys, I think in my mind that darn tootman is my fave of the low class pass masters. It takes me to my summer home in the suburbs. It borders a rock. It makes me put my closed eye face to the sun and smile with all my teeth. And, how!

Number 8- “Slip Skippy”

Now HERE is a baby boy that makes my ache pay. I like it’s brash nature. I like it’s stubs. Electrocution mama gonna drag me down. Do I understand all it’s meanings? No, man, don’t you kid. But it’s nuance is enough to bring even a sad sack daddy McGee to his knees. Needless to say, it keeps my jimmies unRUSTLED. Props, baby, props.

Number 7- “Sack It Up”

You killed a man by accident on his own lawn. What’s a few friends to do with that cadavman? Why, sack it up, of course! This rad blurt will give you lady numbers by the infinity, stud! And clean your pool.

Number 6- “Bring Down The Government”

They take our power and corrupt our children. They spy on us at work, at home, at church. Is nothing sacred? We can’t take their tyranny any longer. REBELLION! REBELLION! DON’T LET THE OPPRESSORS STIFLE OUR UPRISING!!!!

Number 5- “Demonic Presence In My Laundry Room”

“Look, Diane, all I’m saying is I heard something. The dog was in our son’s room. You were at Linda’s for the weekend. It’s suspicious is all I’m saying.”

“Hhhhh… What if it was someone breaking and entering? You know there are teenagers in this neighborhood…”

“But what about the handprints? In BLOOD, Diane. It’s sick. I’ve talked to our neighbors, they don’t know anything. Their kids were accounted for last night.”

“It’s a big suburb. It could have been kids from the north side. It could…”

“It could what? What were you going to say?”

“Nothing, I… I just…”

“You were going to say our son. You were going to say Billy did it, weren’t you!?”

“Look, he’s getting older now, he might feel like he should lash out…”

“He wouldn’t, Diane! How dare you imply something like that!?”

“I just… WHAT IS THAT?!”

“Diane, what’s wro… HGGHHH!!!”

Number 4- “Awww, shucks”

What else can I say about this classic? What else that hasn’t been intoned by all the others, the horde, the talk people of the inter webs. Skippy!

Number in the 3rd- “What the heck? This is bizarre. It’s… It’s crazy! What does any of this mean? You can’t put this on your blog!”


Number 2- “A birds in the foot is worth two in the bushes.”

My mom keeps asking why I grow my hair out. If she must know, my head is just SO darn heavy. It feels like I’ve got about a ton crammed into it. It leans forward like a son of a gun. So what I’ll do is I’ll grow my hair out really long and then tie it to my ankles so my head doesn’t put too much strain on my neck. The only problem is that maybe I might get accustomed to it too much and then if I get into a bar fight, my opponent will just have to cut my hair in the middle and I’ll topple.

Number 1- “D’oh!”

I love the Simpsons, and I think it’s more than fair to say that no catchphrase has had as much influence on pop culture as Homer’s famous annoyed grunt has. It’s even in the dictionary, believe it or not!

Well, that’s  my list of the top ten best catch phrases. I hope you join us next time for “Top Ten Reasons to Despise Art and Dignity.”

100% Pure Distilled Cynicism

Hello to the twelve or so of you I managed to blackmail into coming here today. This post marks the first in a horrific, diseased mass of meaningless thoughts that I have used, along with several tons of cardboard and corrugated siding, to create a filthy little shanty town that all of you can come to when the outhouse seems too fancy. Here you may unbuckle your pants and relax as you comb the society out of your beard. Here you may let your children roam free among the cynical, embittered opinions which populate my mindscape. Open the makeshift doors and adjust your eyes to the diffused trash fire light, and inside you will see waiting the makeshift hobo blogspot that is Shanty Town.

With that out of the way, let me introduce you to myself, the mad, tyrannical mayor of this bizarre website. This blog, alongside various miscellaneous thoughts and musings, will consist of several different sub headings of content including discussions on film and society, short stories and art that I have made, and reviews of random crap I bought from the back of a Goodwill. I post whenever I can, but at least once a week. Until then, disinfect that shank wound with some moonshine, fill the gaping hole in your psyche with more distrust for the government, and make sure to stick around for the latest drippings from the Shanty Town still.