The photo above is me, as seen from a Guignol’s eye view. That is how my dear friend Joe sees me from his Guignol. What, you ask, is a Guignol? Fair enough. And what it is also depends on one’s point of view. To a casual observer the Guignol may merely be two full grown losers wasting hours in front of the TV. Of course it is far more than that. An historical perspective might well help. The Grand Guignol was both a style of theater and a physical theater in Paris France, was founded in 1897 and expired in 1962. The Grand Guignol Theater experience was wholly unique, it was splatter cinema before there was splatter cinema. It was horror, effects, but also comedy and balance. It was spectacular and well ahead of its time.
But that is not the Guignol of which I speak. The Guignol of which I speak is, trust me, far more than two losers wasting away in front of the TV. The Guignol is quite simply… The Idea Place. It is where two friends go to drink from the waters of inspiration, a spring from which flows clarity, support, and healing waters. It is a corner of Maya that has been cleared free of THEIR Maya and has grown large enough to hold our Maya. It is the home to the illusion of our choosing. It is where I returned to drawing after years of wandering, it is where Joe learned to edit and make little films. It is sanity, it is madness, and a hallowed hall of Saints. Among the Saints of the Guignol you will find Ghoulardi and his offspring Hoolihan and Big Chuck; Paul McCartney and Serge Gainsbourg; Brigitte Bardot and Gandalf; Boris Karloff and Jonathan Winters; Jess Franco and Hubert Frank, Harry Nilsson and Badfinger; King Kong and Sorceror’s Apprentice; Ray Harryhausen and Ultraman; Nat King Cole and Soledad Miranda; Claudia Jennings as ‘Gator Bait and the many faces of Sinbad. The Guignol is where all manner of crapulence and indulgence are mandatory. It is where we, The Beard and The Barefoot Girl, go to seek shelter from the downpouring noise of demons demanding submission and conformity. It is an escape from the rat race, from Nike and the Tea Party; from Hip Hop and Garth Brooks; from everything that has gone wrong.
So much has gone wrong. The Guignol is a fortress that keeps them in their handbaskets and allows us to soar! And we soar together over a sea of ideas. The Guignol is home. It is where we can go to seek shelter from the worst of our ordeals, it is sacred and it has been there through bankruptcy, foreclosure, devastating sickness, separations and divorce, through a loss of identity and rebirth, together or apart the Guignol has become a rock, though remains forever fluid as the Tao. The Guignols have been held in a ceramics studio before a massive screen, in an attic, the Guignol expanded to consume the first floor of a house of broken dreams, the Guignol traveled, and even as the founding and only two members were parted by the landmass of a nation… the Guignol remained where it always was. The Guignol remained in that space between two people that would have torn lesser friends apart; not us, not the Guignolites, we held hands across that space and erected a monolith in place of the distance.
And in that photo you see me as Joe sees me. I see beyond me the attic Guignol, a poster of King Kong, off screen above that Brigitte Bardot, the bottom of a lava lamp, a shitty old TV, and many many things that are his, mine and ours. Mostly I see in that photo that I am alive with my dearest of friends in Akron, and he is alive with me in Gainesville. I see that of all the the mires of molasses and miracles of the modern age… two friends can remain together, if they really want it.
And I can see that from Joe’s point of view… I look pretty good.