Author Topic: Portrait of Art  (Read 3013 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline cleveland

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 410
  • Karma: +0/-0
    • View Profile
Portrait of Art
« on: October 22, 2004, 10:47:00 AM »
OK, so all of this discussion is really making me have some strong memories of Art. I think probably all of us are Art experts, because we relied upon his moods and approval for our own self worth. So, I'll share a few:

Art was about 5'7" tall, barrell-chested, with a kind of cocky, ball-of-the-feet walk, like a boxer, but also light on his feet like a dancer - which he was. He had thinning, sandy-colored hair that he wore in a 'Caesar' cut, brushed forward, and he would nervously comb this with his fingers. He had kind of a confident FDR smile, and that image was reinforced by the cigarette holder he used. He had very brilliant, blue eyes, and they did in fact twinkle. His complexion was kind of ruddy, outdoorsey, with crows feet at the corners of his eyes. He wore a heavy gold chain, a pinky ring, and had an old tattoo on his right forearm, probably from his military days. He typically wore a pastel shirt, I remember in particular a light-blue short sleeved shirt he favored, and invariably his socks would match the shirt (something all male staff copied). He wore slacks, and often wore white shoes with a matching white belt (a look that would later be called "full Cleveland"). His voice was pleasant, a little raspy, with an old-fashioned Brooklyn accent. He could play the ukelele, dance a softshoe, sing a little bit, tell a couple of jokes. He was athletic and competative, and had a quick, hot temper that he seemed to get over quickly. He was bright, but no intellectual - you got the impression he'd scanned a few books without ever reading anything deeply. He was 55 years old when I first met him and about 62 when I left. The general impression was of a confident, charming guy, with a military bearing, well-dressed, fatherly, maybe a bit cocky - kind of like a good, mid-level salesman.

In general, a very appealing guy, but an enigma too - what was this guy doing hanging out with a bunch of teenagers in a warehouse in Florida?

When Art would lead a rap, it was pretty general and impressionistic. He'd talk a bit about his past, growing up poor during the depression, serving in World War II, becoming an entertainer. His alcoholism was reduced to a couple of sentances about ending up living in his car and having no friends left, and considering suicide. I never felt very touched by this, a bit sad but other staff had way more dramatic stories. Plus it was hard to see Art as a drunk. Then - the AA story, working with he actor Art Carney, a fellow alcoholic, and working at Belleview in New York, working as a comedian at the Playboy Club. Beginning the The Seed, maybe on the old yacht he'd bought, was described as "AA saved my life, but I wanted to take things further." It was pretty quick, vague and then - time for songs and jokes!

He was married to Shelley, a pretty, completely shy woman 20 years younger. She spoke very little, and usually in a Marilyn Monroe-like whisper - kind of spooky. I thought there might be something wrong with her, like a social phobia. It seemed to kill her to be in front of the group, though she smiled gamely. They would sing a duet together, "Making Whoopie" (she couldn't sing at all, part of the joke I guess, in addition to the song being about "Making Whoopie" which none of us were supposed to even be thinking about!)

Art was always surrounded by staff - he'd jump in, jump out of things and they'd do the work of leading the raps, playing the tough guy, the day to day. Staff were loyal, and mirrored Art's moods - if he had a bad day, they'd come into a rap loaded for bear, and look out. If some kid did something a little off, and Art would crack a grin, maybe this kid would get a bit of a break. Being called into the 'Back Office' was the worst thing. It never happened to me though so I can't tell you. The worst I got was a "don't do that anymore" or "get your head out of the gutter." At least until I wanted to assert myself, then just being told "no" was bad enough.

When Art was mad, staff would protectively group around him and then fan out on attack mode, mirroring and amplifying his anger.

The heirarchy thing was weird, because it was very strictly followed but was not explicit. Even among senior staff, some were more senior than others. And junior staff would change from time to time - if you were a regular member of the group but not part of the inner circle it was a constant guessing game of who was up, down or sideways and so trying to figure out who to listen to was difficult. However if Lybbi told you no, that was it. She was Art's surrogate wife since Shelley basically faded into the woodwork. Other staff of my time there roughly fit this family metaphor - Ginger was the funny, scrappy younger daughter, Ken and John were like the favored older sons, Bob W. and Cliff were like rivals for number two or three spot, with Bob being the mean one and Cliff the pushover nice guy. Evy was the cute, shy but loyal one - look out if you did something she thought would hurt Art. Cookie was the A student, Laura the reformed bimbo, Ray K. the redneck, Bob K. the pretty-boy (but look out if you crossed him).

Everbody was completely pidgeon-holed by the group. This is something that is also said to be typical of disfunctional families - you've got the hero, the slut, the nerd, the rebel, the jokester, and if you ever try to step out of that role the whole group would look at you like you were crazy - what do you mean, you want to go to school, your the lawn-guy, right?

Personally, I was dying for Art's approval. I wanted nothing more than to be elevated to staff - that was my highest ambition. Actually, my highest ambition was to like and love myself, but I thought I was so unworthy of that that I believed approval by Art and the group would convey worth on me I couldn't find myself.

Despite Art's professed gift of "instant awareness," I felt he looked right through me and failed to see the person that I was. So ultimately, I was locked in the same struggle that I'd had with my own father, who was a distant and angry man when I was a kid. Art used to say, "The opposite of Love isn't Hate, it's Indifference" and ironically, I felt he was fairly indifferent to me. For anyone who actually who was subject to Art's approval in a strong way, that must have been a powerful force. The lack of that allowed me to leave at a time when the Seed was desparately hanging on to graduates and jealously keeping them apart from the world and the lives they might lead.

Now that the Seed has split up, with some still on Art's side and some who have fallen away, the whole thing is a sad reflection of a family with an aging patriarch. It would be a parody except for the genuine compassion and loyalty which is involved, and the tragedy of lost dreams and wasted youth and all of the elements of drama.

No doubt, the Seed had an influence on a lot of lives and some of that was positive, some negative, read these posts to get your own impression. But Art the man, is still an unknown, a guy who really didn't talk a lot about himself, and maybe really he was just lonely, after all is said and done, and he created his own family which at one time was unbelievably supportive and committed to him.

Art is now aparently very ill with Parkinson's, and a few former Seedlings (ironically not the one's most favored at the peak of things) keep in touch and treat him kindly. He was a surrogate father and it's kind of like the favored children have broken all ties and left and the black sheep have returned to comfort the old man in his last years.

I don't see this as a blame or shame game in any way, it's just the way the world is and we need to look at it honestly and understand it. I'm still not sure where the Seed came from or where it's going, it has spawned abusive programs like straight and it has no doubt helped some people live better lives (arguable point, but I am going on the testimonials on this site). Art failed in his dream to create a 'Seed Army' and drugs and alcohol are still with us, probably for ever.

I really think the Seed was a great story if nothing else and we can learn a lot by telling it.

_________________
Wally Gator[ This Message was edited by: cleveland on 2004-10-22 07:58 ][ This Message was edited by: cleveland on 2004-10-22 09:57 ]
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by Guest »
ally Gator

Offline GregFL

  • Posts: 2841
  • Karma: +0/-0
    • View Profile
Portrait of Art
« Reply #1 on: October 22, 2004, 11:43:00 AM »
Yes Wally Gator.

To us St Pete Seed people, Art was almost symbolic. We had Libby and Suzy and John drooling over him all the time, gushing stories of admiration and lore. We were constantly told how much he loved us and we were forced to reciprocate in song and talk, but we really didn't know him.

He would show up once or twice a week, lead a rap and leave. I always liked when he led raps because he never confronted people so I felt safe.

When I met him at the Ft Lauderdale Seed already I had great doubts about the whole Art Worshipping thing and he only seemed a man to me, nothing special.  When I had my confrontation with him at the apartment complex he was reduced in my teenage eyes to a nobody, a powerless little self important man only dangerous if you bought into his drugrehab-fantasyland.

A friend of mine had lunch with him last year and he told me Art was sickly but still sharp, witty and funny. He also told me Art still is clinging to his %90 percent sucess ratio story which was disproven some 32 years ago by a miami dade study on the seed.

I wish I could speak with him now as an adult that has left that childish anger behind, let him know I don't begrudge him at all, that I forgive him. I would also like to ask him some very direct questions.


The seed was  a  drug rehab gone wacky, a destructive personality cult centered around a man that had built a fantasy legend around himself and insulated himelf from reality with his inner core of devotees.

He must on some level know this and understand that some people were hurt by it. If not then that is his cross to bear, not ours.

This song sung very seriously in row row your boat style and repeated over and over is very telling;

Art Barker and Shelly
Shall we tell you how we feel
you have given us your riches
we love you so
we love you so.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by Guest »

Offline GregFL

  • Posts: 2841
  • Karma: +0/-0
    • View Profile
Portrait of Art
« Reply #2 on: October 22, 2004, 11:44:00 AM »
I also remember seeing that tatoo during my deal with him at the pool. I remember it was perhaps a ww11 style naked lady tatoo, but that is an old memory.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by Guest »

Offline Anonymous

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 164661
  • Karma: +2/-1
    • View Profile
Portrait of Art
« Reply #3 on: October 22, 2004, 12:34:00 PM »
no its a "death before dishonor tatoo"
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by Guest »

Offline cleveland

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 410
  • Karma: +0/-0
    • View Profile
Portrait of Art
« Reply #4 on: October 22, 2004, 12:49:00 PM »
You're right, "Death Before Dishonor," I had forgotten that!

OK, I remembered one of Art's favorite jokes. When there was some kind of holiday, he's walk into the rap room where everyone was seated, and say, "Welcome, celebates! Er, I mean celebrants!" I laughed until it hurt.

Art used to end things with, "If I can help just one person, than it's all been worth it." I found that a hard one to argue with and it kept me around for a long time.

[ This Message was edited by: cleveland on 2004-10-22 09:59 ][ This Message was edited by: cleveland on 2004-10-22 10:03 ]
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by Guest »
ally Gator

Offline Anonymous

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 164661
  • Karma: +2/-1
    • View Profile
Portrait of Art
« Reply #5 on: October 22, 2004, 01:33:00 PM »
God-my ribs hurt
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by Guest »

Offline GregFL

  • Posts: 2841
  • Karma: +0/-0
    • View Profile
Portrait of Art
« Reply #6 on: October 22, 2004, 01:33:00 PM »
Quote
On 2004-10-22 09:49:00, cleveland wrote:



Art used to end things with, "If I can help just one person, than it's all been worth it." I found that a hard one to argue with and it kept me around for a long time.



 But it is a statement void of logic.

I too remember him as far back as 1973 saying that over and over, but if you help one person and hurt three, how is that "worth it"? Or even if you Help one and injure another, where is the gain?  If one graduate was never to use drugs again and another graduate fires a super sized shot of deadly drugs into his vein in front of his wife and child (we miss you Dave), was it "worth it"? If one graduate finds community in the seed and another loses his family and friends over his association and feels worthless for years, is that also "worth it"?

 The seed was way to harmfull for way to many people to proclaim it "worth it" and that line of Art's smacks of justification for his little cultic experiment.

To use an extreme analogy to make a point, if you feed a hungry dog by killing and feeding him a family of four, you have surely helped that dog, But what of that family?

The end does NOT justify the means. In the case of the seed, the end wasn't even anything to be proud of but instead was a shattered cult barely speaking to one another, confused and embittered, not sure of how to assimilate into normal society, mostly devoid of children and normalcy.

None of it was "worth it" in my opinion.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by Guest »

Offline GregFL

  • Posts: 2841
  • Karma: +0/-0
    • View Profile
Portrait of Art
« Reply #7 on: October 22, 2004, 01:35:00 PM »
And now that you say the tatoo was "death before dishonor", I just have to admit my memory has failed me on that.  

Was there a dagger thru it?

I remember that tatoos were taboo in the seed, at least any you would have got after becoming a seedling.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by Guest »

Offline Somejoker

  • Posts: 88
  • Karma: +0/-0
    • View Profile
Portrait of Art
« Reply #8 on: October 22, 2004, 01:54:00 PM »
Quote
On 2004-10-22 09:49:00, cleveland wrote:



OK, I remembered one of Art's favorite jokes. When there was some kind of holiday, he's walk into the rap room where everyone was seated, and say, "Welcome, celebates! Er, I mean celebrants!" I laughed until it hurt.





Yeah, thats it, make fun of the poor guys carrying around the load whilst you got a girl 20 years younger (at least one) waiting. Further rub this in to these Celebate devotees by Singing the Whoppie song with your young bride in front of the group. Parade around the girls on the weekend in their bikinis at the beach and allow the guys to play touch football with them, but forbid sex...

Betcha a dollar I can guess what the  favorite nightime hobby was of male long termers.

 :grin:
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by Guest »

Offline Antigen

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 12992
  • Karma: +3/-0
    • View Profile
    • http://wwf.Fornits.com/
Portrait of Art
« Reply #9 on: October 22, 2004, 02:24:00 PM »
http://fornits.com/wwf/viewtopic.php?to ... um=8#64892

Damn, Walley. Again, Evan didn't get all the talent in the family.

I find it ironic, sad and (despite myself) funny as hell that Art is now in a position to benefit greatly from consuming cannabis. Of course, he won't, can't, can't even entertain the notion, no matter how bad the pain gets or how debilitating the spasms.

Experience is that marvelous thing that enables you recognize a mistake when you make it again.
-- F. P. Jones



_________________
Ginger Warbis ~ Antigen
Seed sibling `71 - `80
Straight South (Sarasota, FL)
   10/80 - 10/82
Anonymity Anonymous
Some days, it's just not worth chewing through the leather straps.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by Guest »
"Don\'t let the past remind us of what we are not now."
~ Crosby Stills Nash & Young, Sweet Judy Blue Eyes

Offline Anonymous

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 164661
  • Karma: +2/-1
    • View Profile
Portrait of Art
« Reply #10 on: October 22, 2004, 02:53:00 PM »
My my, you are right. This is so weird.


"Theoretically, cannabinoids could be useful for treating Parkinson's patients because cannabinoid agonists specifically inhibit the subthalamo-nigral pathway, and probably also the subthalmopallidal pathway.168 172 The latter effect was not directly tested, but is consistent with what is known about these neural pathways. Hyperactivity of the subthalamic neurons, observed both in Parkinson's patients and in animal models of Parkinson's disease, is hypothesized to be a major factor in the debilitating bradykinesia associated with the disease.37 Furthermore, although cannabinoids oppose the actions of dopamine in intact rats, they augment dopamine activation of movement in an animal model of Parkinson's disease, suggesting the potential for adjunctive therapy with cannabinoid agonists."

169. Sanudo-Pena MC, Tsou K, and Walker JM. Cannabinoid dopamine interactions in the basal ganglia in an animal model of Parkinson disease. (in preparation).
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by Guest »

Offline GregFL

  • Posts: 2841
  • Karma: +0/-0
    • View Profile
Portrait of Art
« Reply #11 on: October 22, 2004, 03:10:00 PM »
Wow. Avoiding the propaganda put out by the drug warriors, one can find much  evidence for the use of canniboids in the fight against parkinsons.

From Harvard....


Glass, M. (2001). "The role of cannabinoids in neurodegenerative diseases." Prog Neuropsychopharmacol Biol Psychiatry 25(4): 743-65.
An understanding of the actions of Cannabis (Marijuana) has evolved from folklore to science over the previous hundred years. This progression was spurred by the discovery of an endogenous cannabinoid system consisting of two receptors and two endogenous ligands. This system appears to be intricately involved in normal physiology, specifically in the control of movement, formation of memories and appetite control. As we are developing an increased understanding of the physiological role of endocannabinoids it is becoming clear that they may be involved in the pathology of several neurological diseases. Furthermore an array of potential therapeutic targets is being determined--including specific cannabinoid agonists and antagonists as well as compounds that interrupt the synthesis, uptake or metabolism of the endocannabinoids. This article reviews the recent progress in understanding the contribution of endocannabinoids to the pathology and therapy of Huntington's disease. Parkinson's disease, schizophrenia and tremor.


http://lansbury.bwh.harvard.edu/pd_reviews_2001.htm
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by Guest »

Offline Anonymous

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 164661
  • Karma: +2/-1
    • View Profile
Portrait of Art
« Reply #12 on: October 22, 2004, 03:13:00 PM »
Someone needs to get art a bong and a bag of pot. It may just improve the quality of the rest of his life.

wouldn't that be ironic! In Art's golden years he discovers the theraputic benefits of marijuana for his parkinsons and becomes a stoner, grows a ponytail and becomes forgetfull and fat from eating potato chips, bugles and oreo cookies and sits around watching old reruns of the three stooges every afternoon laughing hysterically.

 :grin:  :grin:
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by Guest »

Offline cleveland

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Posts: 410
  • Karma: +0/-0
    • View Profile
Portrait of Art
« Reply #13 on: October 22, 2004, 04:05:00 PM »
I guess the whole point is for me that we were hungry for leadership. There was a void in our lives that was exploited by Art and the staff. They didn't create that void. Most of us came from alcoholic, divorced or disengaged families, although some of the kids just had the normal family life too but when confronted with the Seed most people broke down and joined in.

Again, I can't think of Art as a bad guy, at this point in my life but then again, he's not calling the shots for me anymore so maybe I can be gracious.

And personally, I'm as offended by the Drug Free America types as I am by the stoners who argue that toking up is a sacrement (yeah I know it is for some and peyote is sacred too and all that but whatever)...but let's just admit that not all mind altering experiences are done to improve self or society but for the fun of getting fucked up...or to self-medicate.

I'm sure that Ginger will argue with me that the DFA types are in power and the poor stoners are not...true; and Greg will argue that Art maybe WAS a bad guy because of the freedoms we lost and the Seed spinoffs that followed...true again.

But for some, the Seed worked. They will testify to that on this site.  

Somebody somewhere else on this site was saying that a truly caring, therapeutic environment for kids (or adults) would not be coercive. I can't argue with that. A truly caring world would look very different, and in this world the Seed would have been exposed both for good and bad. 20 years later this is happening.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by Guest »
ally Gator

Offline GregFL

  • Posts: 2841
  • Karma: +0/-0
    • View Profile
Portrait of Art
« Reply #14 on: October 22, 2004, 05:08:00 PM »
I think you are correct that SOME of you were hungry for leadership which lead to you guys taking the bait and hanging around for years and years.

Others of us were forced in under cohersion, lies, threats,court orders and family pressure. For those of us, and from the 70s there are thousands, we wanted nothing more than to disasociate ourselves with Art's "leadership" and many of us turned our back on the Seed at the first opportunity.

And again, I really don't think of Art as an intentional "bad guy". I think the result of his cult was bad for most people that experienced it even if some of them refuse to critically analyze what happened.

One of the negative results is evident in some of the long termers that post here. They have found themselves in their forties or fifties, not well socialized to the real world, no children, no sex life to speak of and somewhat confused about their experience trying to make sense out of what happened.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by Guest »