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the wheel in the sky

I once met a guy who'd worked with David Lynch as a location scout on Mulholland Drive (2001). Naturally, I had questions. Who wouldn't? I mean, I don't know about you—well, I actually don't know anything about you because I don't even know who you are… or maybe I do? Regardless, I'm only using "you" in the generic sense, so don't take it personally. Anyway, David Lynch is easily one of the top five people who left an influential stain on my formative years and contributed greatly to my fascination with the disturbing underbelly of that which passes for happy, shiny, everyday normal life in America. But, to be honest, this is all neither here nor there in getting to the point I'm carelessly working toward.

What stuck with me after this relatively close encounter with Lynch—or at least as close as I'll ever likely come in the Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon game [1]—was the guy's description of his work being akin to "painting with film." Because I'll often do that with words. Paint with them. Well, perhaps finger-painting would be a more apt description, because it's a rather childish and self indulgent pursuit where I forget people may actually be trying to comprehend what I'm saying and not give two shits about my cute verbal antics, e.g. an asinine affinity for assonance or the casual appropriation and misuse of song lyrics. For an example of the latter, look no further than the title of this post. It's taken from a Journey song of the same name, but here's a snippet of the chorus that's been lodged in a smooth, shallow groove of my cortex ever since it dominated the radio airwaves back in 1978:

Wheel in the sky keeps on turnin'Don't know where I'll be tomorrowOoh, the wheel in the sky keeps turnin'Wheel in the sky keeps on turnin'

But that's the end of any deep thoughts or any further mention of Journey, because it's an actual honest to god wheel in the sky that I'm referring to for today's post purposes. More descriptively and specifically so, the disemboarded one that mistakenly appeared on the December 1999 cover of Big Brother skateboard magazine, aka Issue 55.

Whoops, there it is!

Now, no offense to Kris Markovich, the featured cover skater, but this isn't exactly one of those images that would have lived on in infamy had it not been for an egregious Photochop gaffe by the art director, Jeff Tremaine. You see, strictly for compositional purposes (read: no intentional shenanigans whatsoever), Tremaine clipped out and moved Kris in the dead of a deadline night, but in doing so accidentally left one floating wheel behind as an indicator of the board's original position in the photo. And NO ONE caught it. Or at least not until after it came back from the printer and then EVERYONE caught it. Just one more ridiculous notch in our WWE championship-size belt of ill repute back then.

Anyway, we never let Tremaine live this embarrassing incident down. I mean, here we are, 23 years later, and small man that I am it's still a hoot and a holler to me. Although others too, apparently, as the tale of the infamous wheel seen 'round the world even made its way onto Tremaine's appearance on The Nine Club last year.

Now, cut to a week and change ago when I first started to see stories on Instagram showcasing our ad in the latest issue of Thrasher, and my heart immediately dropped like a 13th floor elevator. The mortified shoe was now on the other foot—my foot—because I'd made a rookie mistake of my own that woefully went to print. And, unfortunately, it's nowhere near as historically awesome as Tremaine's errant wheel; mine was just a stupid glitch in the export from an Adobe Illustrator file to that of a print-ready PDF. Honestly, I'm still not entirely sure how or why it happened, but an apparent "overprint" issue with the background art obscured the accompanying corner illustration that ultimately tied the whole ad together. And it was my own dumb fault because I'd become so cocksure in my rudimentary layout skills that I never even bothered to doublecheck the PDF before submitting the ad. So no, lest anyone actually wonder, I wasn't trying to consciously cop the Quasi aesthetic… I just fucked up. Plain and simple.

What I saw on my computer screen… and what you saw in print.

But you know what? Roots. That's all I can really say at this point. And no, I'm not referring to the Alex Haley book and subsequent television event in 1977. The implied usage of roots here means to never forget the amateur hour from whence you came. In other words, it's a gentle reminder that none of us are perfect and to err is simply our human lot in life. And I much prefer that quaint rationale over the interpretation of this botched advertisement as being some kind of cosmic comeuppance for my mockery of Tremaine’s wheel in the sky all these years—mainly because if this is indeed the universe at fickle play then there's a fuckton more karmic retribution yet to come and that's an endless bummer I'm just not prepared to embark on at present.

So, what have we learned today? Well, first of all, check your files before you fucking send them; and secondly, maybe just don't be a jerk. Or at least not all the time. Lord knows we all need a few snarky guardrails every now and then to keep us grounded and in check. —Sean Cliver

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1. Not an entirely true statement. I did once meet Heather Graham, who played Annie Blackburn in Lynch’s Twin Peaks series, at a bar on the Sunset Strip where we'd gathered to watch the final episode of the televised jackass series on MTV, circa 2001. Well, and then there was also that time when I was at the Men in Black II premiere after party and got a photo with Lara Flynn Boyle, also of Twin Peaks fame. Hmm. Maybe I should just drop the Kevin Bacon nonsense because Six Degrees of Johnny Knoxville is way more applicable to my Hollywood-adjacent life. 


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  • David Palos on

    I enjoyed your writing. Where can I read more from you?
    Thank you
    David Palos

  • Jackie Dunston on

    My issue showed up at the end of the month and don’t remember seeing that in the add. The best love is Strangelove keep on pushing my brothers and sisters.

  • Fd on

    Last night after deluging my significant other in a golden shower of 2023 precipitation proportions I sat down on my royal thrown to take a trump and receive a blimpy. I had just dropped some penis envy and was feeling like an Aztek warrior. As I pinched out a steamy corn filled Trump a few Ivanka nuggets followed, then a runny splash of Jared Kushner. To my surprise just as the peak started I saw my favorite blog staring me smack dab in the face. Tears of joy spit out of my asshole. After reading: my thoughts raced to tweaked Japan airs and blimpies in gas station rest rooms. To my delight I thought. “Am I being a jerk for this blimpy induced golden shower?” Conclusion: Probably not, what would the honey badger do?” Answer: probably bite your fukn dick off. Thanks for Clarity once again Cliver!

  • Ryan O'Hara on

    Wow! Another great read!💚


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