“Bob Ross was wrong,” Lurie says in the first episode of his new HBO TV mini-series, Painting with John, “Everybody can’t paint.”
John Lurie, oh I'd probably run out of my 400 words here if I had to relate even a fraction of his stuff, accomplishments whatever you would call a career in music and art as a film star, Lounge Lizard musician, tv fisherman. So I won't. John Lurie, now ensconced on an island in the Caribbean, which is not named, paints. He paints joyfree trees and unhappy flowers, he says, and for the next six weeks while he's doing that, you can be right there alongside him. If you have a subscription to HBO.
It just feels like the right time, and a masterstroke from HBO to get Lurie back on TV. It’s precisely 20 years since Lurie’s cult hit, Fishing With John, featured Lurie taking international fishing trips with various celebrity friends. Tom Waits, Matt Dillon, Jim Jarmusch, Tom Waits, Willem Dafoe and Dennis Hopper all went along. Dennis Hopper went to Thailand, for two episodes.
Fishing with John pops up on TV from time to time and in charity shops that still sell DVDs, and seeing a Fishing with John DVD in a charity shop these days is a pretty sobering experience. If you find Fishing with John you’re very likely to find further along the shelf, Blue Velvet, Down By Law and a bunch of other movies you’d enjoyed way back when, that were part of someone’s DVD collection, someone just like you, who has just gone and died, or maybe more hopefully, been downsized, but either way, in that moment of recognition, you’ll recognise the end, just feeling a little bit closer.
One time I was in a charity shop, a thrift store, perusing the jackets, when a middle-aged woman approached me and asked whether if I would put on the suit jacket that she was holding, she held it out for me to take. I will do anything and I can never say no, without, you know, ruminating over that for an age, later, so I put the jacket on, and it felt pretty good, like a superfine wool maybe, I remember as I felt it, and it was a remarkable fit. She stepped back and she was with another woman, maybe her sister, they looked alike, and they both l scrutinized me, a bit, for a moment, “Yes,” she said, “I want it to bury my son, he is around the same size as you.”
Over the years, in my head, I always reply, "He'll look good in this." But I'm glad I didn't.
When I was changing continents another time, I was convinced by me, to downsize hundreds or more of my CDs by ditching the jewel cases and putting the discs in big wallets. I can’t look at them now because of that and I can’t donate them either.
Painting with John begins on Jan 22nd and runs for six unmissable episodes.
Kirk Lake is a writer, musician and filmmaker. His published books include Mickey The Mimic (2015) and The Last Night of the Leamington Licker (2018). His films include the feature films Piercing Brightness (2014) and The World We Knew (2020) and a number of award winning shorts.
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