Present Business

The Blackest Artist

I’ve heard it all and I’ve experienced a lot. There is no debate or deliberation, just declaration at this point.

It’s always been difficult being the black one. The exception. The different. The surprise. The black graduate student. The black analyst. The black trustee. The black supervisor. It's exhausting.

 “Oh, you’re ty?!” Yes, that’s me. Hi.

I’m old enough to realize that, in this country (culture, society, world, etc.), it is generally and painfully difficult to be a black person. No matter how light skinned, assimilated, monied, or souled out, there is a constant and relentless pressure in America for black to be less. To be under. To be bad. To be dangerous. To be suspect. To be dumb. I really, really hate less when I’m working so hard to be more. Not so dumb.

Yes, slavery. All that. All the time. History is reality.

To the present thesis: Being categorized as a black artist has always riled me. It always felt so categorized and segregated. Limiting. I really struggled when someone identified me as such. I always felt as if I was being left out of the larger discussion or consideration. It's like being a local band. Nobody cares about local bands.

But I refuse to accept that paradigm. So say what you want. It doesn’t phase me*. I don’t care*. I am a black artist. Proudly. Unsegregated. A declaration.

Yes, that's me. Hi.


The (Blackest) Artist Statement

Long ago we declared, “this is what we do, this is how we do it” blah blah blah. A quarter of a century ago that was fun bluster but we actually meant it then and we still mean it. I mean it with all my heart. I only hope to always meant it.

The trick to creativity, for me, has been to have no audience. I’m at my most awkward when someone acknowledges my work. I cannot escape quickly enough. But—while there is influence and collaboration—I do not make many things for others. I pretend no one’s watching. I’ve been fortunate to just let out what needs to be let out. For sanity’s sake.

I so rarely sell anything anymore that it seems as if I’m not trying to sell anything anymore. I’m not. Once out of my head, I kind of don’t care what happens to output*. Take it. Ignore it. Cherish it. Leave it. I’m on to the next idea, project, compulsion, hype.

I am influenced by everything. I am influenced by anything. I am influenced by nothing. Art for me is precious. Art is sacred. Being able to make things does not an artist make. Likewise, declaring oneself an artist also does not. What is an artist? When you know you know.

I sometimes ask myself how my dead friends would react. I sometimes stumble across things I made decades ago and I not recognize them as mine. It takes a really long time for self-appreciation. Yet, getting better at self-appreciation often feels like becoming a less discerning producer. Blessings and curses, swords with two razor sharp sides.

Muses are real. So are critics. I don’t really believe anything positive or encouraging. Only swipes matter. Because I can react to swipes by becoming better. Praise equals complacency. I will get better before I die. Or, I will get better then die. Or just die. Or worst, get worse.


* Lies


FAQs Three Threes and an Epilogue (Transition)



  • What is it exactly that I am asking of this sad world that I am somehow not already receiving?
  • What does someone even offer someone who has everything?
  • Can we accept that the blessings and curses of seeing everything—seeing the best of ways and most obvious perils—are not something everyone can also see?

These are Three Threes


  • Optimize
  • Simplify
  • Customize


  • Discipline
  • Focus
  • Presence


  • Authentic
  • Improvisational
  • Conceptual

An Epilogue

As a summary
That is what makes the struggles
We are animals




memory factor(y)


i did not photograph it but i can remember it clearly

i saw an amazing cloud formation yesterday
it was one  the the most amazing formations i have ever witnessed
i was driving and i was not alone so i felt that i should not make a photo
but i really should have because my passenger would have fully
understood having been in situations like this with me her entire life

i also do not have a photograph of the number one most
amazing cloud formation i have ever seen yet in my life
that was in Aurora Colorado in July of 1987 specifically
back in the days where you just had to remember things forever
this i recall because it was breathtaking enough to stop all activity

thunderhead development at the border of the plains and Rockies
the deepness of the sky blue contrasted with purest of cloud white
followed by a life altering double rainbow’s refractions of refractions
if i painted the scene i would be accused of creating cartoonish fiction
because the sky has never looked as perfect or strange they would say

i do not know if what i remember is similar to or different from
what other people remember over time or across eras
this morning i remembered two of the worst headaches i ever had
i remembered that Emily gave me a skateboarding book in 1975
i am sometimes accused of not forgetting things but i know better

i was driving north yesterday in the orange-ness of golden hour light
and uncharacteristically to the east was what looked like the incoming
mammoth tidal waves of my serial dreams but they were not liquid
they were mountains of clouds low on the horizon with the white
of the clouds painted orange tan gray and gold on the lowest third

had i a convenient vantage to make the perfect photograph
maybe i would have taken the opportunity or courage to do it
yet there was no compulsive angst in not making this one
it was just an uncharacteristically peaceful knowledge that
i may remember this moment of my life at some other moment

memories are gifts for the future




13:00 para auriculares y cacao

 tyhardaway dot com


On the Cusp of Another Nostalgic Autumn



in the art school of hard knocks course 101

there are historic distinctions that weed for authenticity


it seems as if everyone has discovered and dipped a pinkie toe 

into an interpretation of what they believe art is for not or better

but without the requisite suffering context experience or pain

there are no shortcuts in fact there are no destinations or reasons

just because one can afford to purchase a camera or use an app

does not an artist make -- on the contrary

if your work cannot be proofed with blood* -- unless it subtracts 

from your end days -- don't count me as interested or impressed

it is as ok to frighten others as it is to terrify yourself

i've seen probably way too much for myself and others so

it is illuminating when exactly half of the seven rules of influence

are completely not just ignored but totally violated on purpose


with nothing left to prove or demonstrate anymore

one can simply stop caring and simply produce in purity



*or the standard bodily fluids like tears, sweat, or saliva



Don't Tell Him That

16:00 para auriculares y cacao

 tyhardaway dot com





Someone told me they were happy for my coming opportunities

They said it would be amazing for me and I would experience growth

I was lightly insulted as I was already a fully formed full-grown human

What possible growth could I possibly experience at this juncture?

"Personal growth is the process of an individual becoming aware of the 'self' in its entirety, followed 
by taking steps to address behaviors, attitudes, values, actions, and habits that they wish to change."

I process so many things in subtly different shades and dimensions

Words and deeds and feelings somehow make a surreal sense to me

The analyses of data that clearly point to one plausible conclusion

And it brings some satisfaction to know that work produces results



 ©2023 Lena Drapella (@lenadrapella)

When everything is clicking, when the people are trained and are executing, when the modeling has been absorbed, there are moments when one can take a step back and simply observe. And appreciate. And reflect. These moments are extraordinarily brief. The amazing photographer Lena Drapella saw it. It is testament to her eye, experience, and training. Where some may observe that I am doing nothing, I'm actually doing the sum of everything that has ever happened to me in my life of doing things. This is the real work. Yet, these moments are extraordinarily brief.

I just had an exceptional opportunity to do unprecedented things. I leaned in very hard. I have had the opportunity to be the very best at a particular thing exactly three times in my life. I have accepted those challenges. I have been "world's best" at things. That's a weird thing to write.

I am skilled and I am fortunate. I am persistent and I am optimistic. I evangelize my beliefs and I am correct an overwhelmingly majority of the time. I fight and I get hurt. I win more than I lose. I see through knots. As they say in the community, "He got that dog in 'em!"

There has been so much overwhelmingly positive feedback for what I am doing now. It's all nice but I know there is real work ahead. In order to make others better, things better.  I have to get better, be better. "Absolute legend" can wait until I'm dead. "Best in the business" needs tough competition.

Is there a cost? Yes. Do I care? Not any more.


Status Report



A day for a poem
    no I’m not
    yes I very much am*
This was never new

The hubris of ambition
    Faking our deaths
    to realize our lives
Always stuck to the plan

Changing the world
    while humbling
    while mind blowing
Was never accidental

Putting in work
    long days
    longer nights
Earning a semblance of cred

So her(e) we go (again)
    it’s all or not
    win or leave
I will outwork you

*this is true

These Are The Questions About Who We Are (9.5.19, previously "unpublished", unedited)

Fine OK Fine
is how I answered
and that very well may become
the standard answer
from here on out
to the question
How are you?

Where are the connections?

To people (to mystery)
To concepts (to adventure)
To reason (to the species)
To conversation (to the planet)
To stories (to separation)
To intimacy (to the written word)

The sad part is we are the
very people who should
know better
the exact demographic

We have a context
We have the education
We have the foresight

We lived before
We lived during
We lived after

We do know better
but we have grown lazy and mindless
maybe more than the kids
who were born into it
when we had to build it

How sad to see them get it all wrong

Mothers and fathers
Roles and reversals
Sons and daughters
Real and pretend

Reparations for
The Atlantic Slave Trade Business
will never happen

Secondhand smoke
in the eyes of the beholder
is neither friend nor foe





I Once Made This


2007 was a long time ago and in 2007 i made this song as a closer to the Free Milk Seminar album

for better or worse i'm not 2007 ty anymore

for worse or better i very much am 2007 ty

(and 1987 ty)


Rich liked it at the time and added a track to to make Rain's Blues 2

it think it's pretty good and holds up well

there's a video recap somewhere

middlespace sounds




intuitively the question is usually
what is the disease?

but sometimes we should ask first
what is the cure?

just what then is cure?
we all just want destinations

places safe to exist
at the end of journeys


numb to it all


so here i am and this is what

it all looks like now

how it is 





really ty

what it feels

to be me right now

still better still the best

multi-hyphenate and legendary

the act as old as forever

since the beginning

and forevers

and evers




the leisure

i actually invented

refined and sold as export

it is just a really sloppy hubris

an indictment on my belief in humans

better to just stay in shadows

and carefully observe

with diligence


opt out



market rate bidding war

market rate bidding war

10:17 para auriculares y cacao

 tyhardaway dot com



feels (and the end of the mopes)

take the time to feel
distinguish between the pain
and the suffering

too much space and time
too much being way too much
choice of either or

minding one’s business
courses running their courses
feeling those feelings





11:01 para auriculares y cacao

 tyhardaway dot com

Previously Untitled

perversely the universe decided it was a good idea to place my closest descendant's birth day and my closest ancestor's death day back to back


at present

i’m just embarrassed
to be me right now
exposed for my pathos
and the display of all sorts of weaknesses

emperor sans rags

but my strength(s)
lie(s) safely forever vaulted away
behind doors after mazes
onions fresh and whole

future already seen

salvaging valued scraps from ruins
nothing left to prove
to anyone anywhere
ever again


Happy Birthday Dave Gary Junior


ALL of the questions
are for me and me alone

need vis-à-vis desire
what. is. wrong. with. me.


Alone in the prison I constructed
the more I ponder the more secure it becomes

mirror mirror on the wall
who’d a guess I’d be my own fall


I guess it has been a long while
since I have been in here

It feels somehow much deeper, the
grief > loneliness > absence > regret


But I do possess the magic formula
if I do what I say and also as I do

ALL of the answers, hence
are mine and mine alone




when the pain comes
drawn from hubris, intensity, and other assorted feelings
it’ll cut as deeply as the blackest of holes

    we shall toast ye as old mate
    legend and warrior
    a sadness persisting

when the punishment comes
drawn from a simple entitlement of payments due
numbness will masks tears masking fears

when the day comes to shut it all off
drawn from the culmination of sins and vices
committed against self and society

we shall toast ye as friend o’ all
    timeless and permanent
    as fake as fool’s gold

when the bookie comes to collect
the piper calling for you to join him
a grim reaper beckoning

The Great Salt Lake



The Senior Officer

Partly professor
Partly ambassador
A reference librarian
and a futurist

Bringing order
Bringing peace
The one to model
The one to keep

Answers to questions
Questioning all
Standing in silence
Standing so tall

Institutional history
Institutional legend
A person with whom
to point the cameras






15:31 para auriculares y cacao

 tyhardaway dot com






15:31 para auriculares y cacao

 tyhardaway dot com




the Burdens of Freedom

all i ever really wanted was freedom (true)
not money (lie)
not fame (lie)

they will say i worked really hard (true)
or not at all (lie)
or never noticed (lie)

freedom from history
freedom from expectations
freedom from myself

freedom from pain
freedom from shame
freedom from burden

freedom from perfection
freedom from greatness
freedom from legend

making it look easy (lie)
making it look fun (lie)
maybe that was the hardest (true)

not for me (lie)
not for you (lie)
but for everyone else who knows (true)


USA Belay

 image: b. robles

video: internet



A Question of Freedom


When will I know what freedom feels like (again)?

How could I even know?

The longer I survive the less sure I believe I ever will

I do believe I have felt freedom but that was a million years ago
    [or felt what at the time I believed freedom to be]

But I am now sadly much less as sure about the concept or construct

This life has penned me into a position of a somewhat cowardly caution

Forces against me ever knowing are so strong

Perhaps I may only vaguely remember


6 of 7


February starts
six of the first seven days
calendar birthdays

acknowledgement by
handwritten ink to paper

year in and year out
along with important deaths
our story of us

that war is already won



Who is ty to ty?

tickety tockety
rickety rockety

ty to ty

    is just a guy
        who sees the world
            behind his eyes
                while not too shy
                    to cry and cry
                        the stoic front
        only belies
                        a stoic mask
                    to try and try
                to not be shy
            behind true eyes
        to see the world
    as just a lie

ty to ty

chickity chockity
sickity sockity