Gapers Block has ceased publication.

Gapers Block published from April 22, 2003 to Jan. 1, 2016. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
 Thank you for your readership and contributions. 


Friday, December 2

Gapers Block

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The LeafMaker / March 8, 2006 11:32 PM

Beautiful Beautiful Nature.

Oketo / March 8, 2006 11:44 PM

The creativity of other humans.

misterShankly / March 8, 2006 11:48 PM

1) three-buck chuck from trader joe's.
2) repeat viewings of valley girl.
3) sarah silverman.
4) 1940's life magazine ads.
5) some more three-buck chuck.

Thurston / March 9, 2006 12:33 AM

Travel, summer.

Beth / March 9, 2006 12:38 AM

Everything I see around me everyday.

hench / March 9, 2006 8:23 AM

mostly from my brain. and listening to the car radio on 'scan.' and your mom.

karen / March 9, 2006 8:37 AM

whatever music i'm listening to at the moment

Robin / March 9, 2006 8:53 AM

Domino Magazine for home
Woody Allen movies for personal style
thrift store aprons/fabrics

ivy / March 9, 2006 9:19 AM

You're the meaning in my life
You're the inspiration
You bring feeling to my life
You're the inspiration
Wanna have you near me
I wanna have you hear me sayin'
No one needs you more than I need you

zO / March 9, 2006 9:22 AM

The erratic scribblings of gang power and phone numbers in the bathroom stall...

Flibbertigibbet / March 9, 2006 9:32 AM

By perceiving patterns in the randomness around me, and from sudden changes in perspective.

zappa / March 9, 2006 9:34 AM


bam / March 9, 2006 10:19 AM

Trips to the heart of the Bob Marshall Wilderness, Absaroka-Beartooth Wilderness, the Wind River Range, River of No Return and similar wilderness areas of the Northern Rockies ecosystem, climbing as yet unnamed peaks in Alaska's mighty Chugach NF. Northern Lights.

The writings of Gary Synder, Thomas Berry, Wendell Berry, Rick Bass, Voltaire, Ed Abbey, Arne Naess, JS Mill, Devall & Sessions, Wes Jackson. and a healthy dose of Conard.

Red's Blue Goose Saloon. The Beartooth Cafe. The Map Room.
The wines of Languedoc or Campo de Borja.

Erica / March 9, 2006 10:25 AM

Zines. Really. You want to get inspired (especially by other people), go to Quimbys (Chicago Comics, etc.) and check out a few litzines, fanzines and other bound treasures that people are making.

Today's mainstream media offers very little for the thinking human. It's very out of touch -- with people like me, anyway. I swear if I see another person seemingly enjoying the RedEye, I'm going to weep.

That's not only a long answer to a short question, but a bit of a rant.

mike / March 9, 2006 10:31 AM

posters, paintings
beautiful buildings
anybody being creative for creativity's sake

C-Note / March 9, 2006 10:56 AM

Inspiration does not exist. Hard work exists. Inspiration is a romantic ideal hatched by myth-makers and people who think creativity is innate or mystical or something. It isn't that at all; it's just hard to do.

spence / March 9, 2006 11:18 AM


Bill / March 9, 2006 11:19 AM

i disagree, C. inspiration happens, and hard work yields the fruits of that inspiration. but you're right - it is pretty romantic.

nih / March 9, 2006 11:24 AM

Um, ghosts don't exist either.
Neither do the Oscars.
Or hankerings.

I do believe that creativity is hard work. But, come on. It's much easier for me to be creative after being exposed to, say, a day full of music or biking or nature or friends.

forklift / March 9, 2006 11:29 AM

Silas Baxter Neal

cory / March 9, 2006 12:00 PM

Staring into the abyss.

Anon / March 9, 2006 12:06 PM

Wayne Dyer and Myspace

Craig / March 9, 2006 12:09 PM

Most recently:

These gals.
These guys.
This magazine
This blog.
And as always, this manifesto.

Lody / March 9, 2006 12:21 PM

My mom, who's dying of cancer.

anon / March 9, 2006 12:23 PM

Whenever I get an illicit new crush I go into creative overdrive -I'm married, so new crushes can never be requited. So eventually the flames die out and the muse runs away. At first, though, it's quite inspiring.

fluffy / March 9, 2006 12:45 PM

From the sounds and sights of a city, preferrably a big busy one. Architecture, old decrepit buildings, forests, dreams, music, rust, empty lots, peeling paint.

I also have to sit there with brush in hand staring for a while, then doodle, and sometimes it happens. I don't think creativity is some magical romantic ideal, I think of it as thinking - thinking and observing things/life a certain way.

If I didn't force myself to get off my fluffy ass sometimes, i would never paint or sculpt.

anon / March 9, 2006 12:46 PM

Crushes are great for songwriting inspiration! I met a girl at a bar recently and we went on one pretty mediocre date and after that nothing. Oh well, that's life. But in that brief several-day period after I got her number and before the date, I used my crushness to write a song:

Presently small soul alights beside me in a bar
I came here for a drink or two alone but here we are
A brown eyed cotton kite, she's dancing lightly on a breeze
A smart girl knows her quirks endear the boys who care to see
I left a cold dark movie house and sought out this bright warm place
Drank a toast to feeling, loss and honesty and grace
Her showing up was tied to the commencement of the game
We shared a glance and smiled and talked and I asked her for her name
And she said hi, my name is ________
________, I won't mention Audrey Hepburn
________, I won't compliment your eyes
I'll just let you know you are really nice to talk to
I like your smile and how you dance still seated in your barstool
________, thank you for the company

fluffy / March 9, 2006 12:47 PM

by the way, C-note, you inspire me

Veronica / March 9, 2006 1:15 PM

Books, both old and new.

The fact that I don't want to be stuck in a job I don't care about for the rest of my life. (Or maybe that's fear...)

johnny / March 9, 2006 1:21 PM

peer pressure and schizophrenia

barb / March 9, 2006 1:30 PM

1. conversations with friends
2. photographs
3. color
4. fear
5. blank walls

charlie D / March 9, 2006 1:34 PM

Arbitrary consideration of most everything.......

printdude / March 9, 2006 1:45 PM

I get inspired by the little things: two colors meeting - a sign that I read wrong and made a funny out of; a shape that that exists as a body moves in dark light -

Inspiration comes to you, especially when you aren't looking. In that case it's a lot like love.

C-note appears to too caught up in his Continuous Cash Flow system to notice, or perhaps gets distracted by shiny new nickels to take advantage of the Inspiration.

ellie / March 9, 2006 2:13 PM

Monkeys. (Not kidding).

mike / March 9, 2006 2:15 PM

I get inspiration from people like C-note. Don't want to end up with their bleak worldview. We humans have a unique ability to shape their own reality. I'd rather exercise and explore that ability than be a cynical drone.

granny / March 9, 2006 2:16 PM

thrift store finds.

HuckleCat / March 9, 2006 2:23 PM

From walking and taking in my surroundings, either in Chicago or traveling. Also from talking with new, interesting people.

Unfortunately, none of these things are inspiring me to finish an assignment for my class in 4 hours...

Flavor Flav / March 9, 2006 2:28 PM


tall blonde European alcoholics who can double as human ash trays

myself: Flavor Flav!!!!!!!

Lisa Loeb / March 9, 2006 3:00 PM

-Hello Kitty
-Funky specs
-Acoustic guitars
-My hands-free phone
-The prospect that anyone gives a crap about my VH1 reality show about a has-been, nearly middle-aged single whose friends are boring and whose love interests are worse
-Pink (the color, duh!)
-And my fave saying, "I want babies, not maybes." Tee hee. OK, I'm going to go record a song no one is ever going to hear.

slb / March 9, 2006 3:25 PM

the bizarre and surreal. the split second where a new or strange situation doesn't yet make sense and i get an experience unmediated by my consciousness. my consciousness gets in the way, so anything i can do to make it shut up inspires me. it's only quiet for a second, but i can pull that second back out and play with it later.

one way to do this is to stay up all night, drink a ton of coffee, and wander around an unfamiliar place. there are others. i am sure many of you have a favorite.

Clarke / March 9, 2006 3:29 PM

For writing for work: Blackstone Merlot
For writing otherwise: Beer (pity though not at the moment)
For play: Walter Payton
For love: My sons
For loving: My wife

fluffy / March 9, 2006 3:57 PM

talking to old people and the homeless.
and also reading - after reading the burnt orange heresy, i went through an 'orange' phase in painting.

listening to the catty chicks at work inspires me to puke. oh god, i need a beer

tony / March 9, 2006 4:48 PM

Beautiful things in the world around me inspire me to take action and see them.

Sights, sounds, and smells that trigger fleeting memories inspire me to find ways to make them concrete and permanent.

The promise of a beautiful day inspires me to do my best.

april / March 9, 2006 8:41 PM

• traveling to new places/simple roadtrips/camping
• anything designed, websites, forks...ANYTHING
• local art shows
• magazines: cooking, DIY, music
• mix CDs
• visiting the folks [who are FAR from the city] usually resets my brain which, in turn, inspires/motivates me to do more
• walking or biking around the city aimlessly

Spook Inspired / March 9, 2006 10:32 PM

Fat girls dressed like trixies, whisky, J Dilla, Gordon Park, The Blue line, Prisma Colors, Marvin Tate, found garbage, Hip Hop,

Baldeesh / March 10, 2006 10:51 AM


C-Note / March 10, 2006 10:52 AM

I gotta comment again. I have been grossly misunderstood. Inspiration is unnecessary for creativity. I mean, I know you guys have said things inspire you, but what do they inspire you to do? As a creative person, you don't need to look outside of yourself in order to create; I mean, you can't avoid being receptive to the world and ideas, etc., but when I write, I'm not thinking about some art show, or clouds, or beautiful things, or whatever; I'm thinking about what word comes next. Inspiration won't tell you. Or maybe some people just don't need something else to come along before they can create something; they've got everything they need.

C-Note / March 10, 2006 11:03 AM

Maybe look at it this way: metaphysically, when you perceive something, it's not merely a passive process; you're acting upon the world inasmuch as it's acting on you. When you wait for or "receive" inspiration, you're fooling yourself into thinking you're receiving it, but inasmuch as you're receiving it, you're actually creating it.

If you've ever taken LSD or mescaline, ayahuasca, psilocybin, or whatever, you know that perception, in a way, is a process of ignoring irrelevant information. When you take these drugs, your awareness of the information you generally ignore makes you realize that "inspiration" is always present; you just have to make it happen. That's why one man's inspiration is a mundane occurrence to another; it's all relative to the perception of the observer. Given that perception is an active process, it follows that inspiration is not just received, but created.

e_five / March 10, 2006 11:43 AM

The landlord and my growling empty stomach.

fluffy / March 10, 2006 12:14 PM

C Note inspires me to not want to read long posts.

"As a creative person" - is that part of an elite group? everyone is creative in their own way.

"inspiration is irrelevant to creativity" - that's a mighty bold statement. Anyway, we're not necessarily just talking about creativity here, we're talking about what inspires you to be a better person, or what inspired me to vote this year, or whatever.

Ay, C-note, you inspire me to want to live in a bubble.

p.s.- you originally said inspiration does not exist. Your last post states "you realize inspiration is always present". Now you've inspired me to go make a bowel movement. goodbye.

kennedy / March 10, 2006 12:29 PM

Right on, fluffy!

Ben / March 10, 2006 12:39 PM

Chuck Norris.

C-Note / March 10, 2006 12:48 PM


re: "Everyone is creative in their own way."

If everyone is creative, "creative" means very little. Save the hippie egalitarian B.S. for your artsy friends.

re: "what inspires you to be a better person..."

You're missing the point, which is: you create your own inspiration; it's not merely passive. You inspire yourself.

To say that inspiration doesn't exist and to say that it is everywhere is only an apparent contradiction; actually it's a tautology.

Like I said, I've been grossly misunderstood. It's only a semantic/metaphysical argument I'm making, but it seems to have the effect of cognitive dissonance on you.

I know you hate reading anything longer than a few words that doesn't have pictures, but maybe I can explain it this way: "inspiration," etymologically, means a "breathing-in." Air doesn't just blow itself into your lungs; you use your lungs and diaphragm to pull it in. Active, not merely passive. Try it; you might like it.

Flavor Flav / March 10, 2006 1:10 PM

People need to chill out. When I get to being metaphysical and sh-t I know it's time to stop taking myself so seriously and just enjoy a dip in the hot tub with some my shorties. Flavor Flav!!!!!

Thad / March 10, 2006 1:45 PM

You dumbasses really are having an argument about the metaphysical nature of inspiration? Are you both bored grad students or something? I shit on both of your houses.

Hollie / March 10, 2006 1:59 PM

C-Note - You mentioned that one of the definitions of 'inspire' means to inhale. While that's true, there are other definitions for the word, and I dare say you ignored the most socially accepted one - to affect, to stimulate to action, to motivate. So, by definition - inspiration is something that comes to one from an outside source. You think that means passivity, and I disagree. No one claimed that it's a passive action - it's very much active. People take that outside source and use it however they want to; but nevertheless, it came from outside the soul/mind/body. Like drugs - drugs inspire your perception to see the irrelevant or to pay attention to something you’d normally miss or find mundane - it sounds to me that drugs are your inspiration. Other people create something of their own after watching a great movie, or reading a good book, or looking at a blank wall, or taking drugs. It might not be necessary for anyone - but it is there, and it is useful - to say that it doesn't exist - and then to say that you understand what 'metaphysical' means - it's very contradictory.

steven / March 10, 2006 2:34 PM

- the selflessness of strangers
- seeing wrong in the world
- music
- art
- my wife
- being alive

C-Note / March 10, 2006 2:36 PM

Hollie - First, I won't comment on what your email domain name might have to say about how seriously we should take your criticism.

Moving on, though, I'm not trying to convince you about the meaning of "inspiration" by
explaining the etymology; however, words do have a meaning which can be bastardized by common usages, which serve to bend the meaning of a word towards the psychological needs of the user. I thought I made it
clear that my construction of the word is equally active and passive.

But that's only collateral to my main point, which is: creators create. If I want to write something, I just do it. I don't look at a blank wall, or go on a nature walk, or watch a movie. I've got what I need.

Examining my own motives, though, what I realize is that the real substance of the issue I'm getting at is "artsiness." It seems to me that a lot of people who consider themselves "creative" spend an awful
lot of time not creating, on the pretense of looking for "inspiration." The truth of the matter is that, no matter how much some people would love to be thought of as creative, they're not, and I imagine you'd agree.

And, again, I've been misunderstood. Drugs are not my inspiration; I just mentioned them. They inspire nothing; however, they allow things to happen in your mind that wouldn't in their absence.

I never claimed to understand what metaphysics is, but I'm going to, right now. Basically, it's the study of the nature of reality (e.g., physical laws, perception, ontology).

All I'm trying to fucking do is assert the autonomy of the individual in choosing his reality by discarding the silly posturing of artsy folk who figure, "wow, creativity's cool, so I have to figure out how to call what I do 'creative.'" I'm worried, though, that you might dismiss the idea because it hits a little too close to home.

kennedy / March 10, 2006 2:39 PM


mike / March 10, 2006 2:42 PM


I'm surprised he bothers to waste his time with us.

C-Note / March 10, 2006 2:53 PM

Condescending? Someone called "Fluffy" accuses me of contradicting myself, and "Hollie" says I don't know about metaphysics, and I'm condescending?! Also, I'm not wasting my time; surely someone understands the point, even though nobody's cared to agree publicly.

Somebody, somewhere, tell 'em it ain't fair/Can I get a witness?

flufy / March 10, 2006 2:53 PM

No I'm not a grad student. I'm just a dumb artist.

I didn't mean to start anything negative, I just questioned what C-note said. *gulp*

But all this talk about "blowing" and "diaphragm" is turning me on! I think I'll call my hippie egalitarian artsy friends and have a tautology party.

Everyone have a great weekend and enjoy the sun! May it inspire you!

kennedy / March 10, 2006 2:59 PM

children! behave! back to your corners!

When is the tautology party?

C-Note / March 10, 2006 3:03 PM

Yeah - I'll be creating; you'll be hanging out in the sun: "Yeah, 420, dude, fire up the bowl; we're so artsy and creative, but we're like, looking for inspiration..."

fluffy / March 10, 2006 3:05 PM

I call myself fluffy because my friend from high school who passed away recently used to have a magnet on her refrigerator with a little cartoon of a sheep saying "I'm not fat; I'm fluffy" My friend was heavy and always on a diet.

I don't need to prove to you whether I understand metaphysics or anything else.

I know, you know it all.

You know C-Note, I'm not going to argue or post anymore. Would you consider a change in YOUR name, like maybe B-sharp ?

mike / March 10, 2006 3:06 PM

The C-Note Greatest Hits album:

Inspiration does not exist.

Inspiration is a romantic ideal hatched by myth-makers and people who think creativity is innate or mystical or something.

I gotta comment again. I have been grossly misunderstood.

Inspiration is unnecessary for creativity.

Save the hippie egalitarian B.S. for your artsy friends.

You're missing the point.

I've been grossly misunderstood.

I know you hate reading anything longer than a few words that doesn't have pictures.

I won't comment on what your email domain name might have to say about how seriously we should take your criticism.

I've been misunderstood.

I'm worried, though, that you might dismiss the idea because it hits a little too close to home.

I'm condescending?!

Surely someone understands the point.

Can I get a witness?

C-Note / March 10, 2006 3:16 PM

Fluffy- I'm not guilt-tripping over your fat friend. I'm not biting. But yeah, call me B-sharp.

Wow, Mike. Extra-contextual deconstruction. That's so interesting.

what's in a name? / March 10, 2006 3:18 PM

The recent posts to this thread have inspired me to stop reading this drivel.

If you can't get your point across in 2 posts or less, give it up.

mike / March 10, 2006 3:20 PM

What can I say, C-Note? You inspired me.

C-Note / March 10, 2006 3:22 PM

Oh... I didn't realize who was in charge. Nobody cares whether YOU read anything or not. You have no friends. You should give it up; your life, I mean.

mike-ts / March 10, 2006 3:44 PM

I don't get inspiration; it gets me. She is a fickle muse that throws ideas at me when I'm in a club watching a band, when I'm in the middle of conversation, when I'm running to somewhere and have no time to stop and write "it" down, when I wake up in the middle of the night and decide to roll over and write that perfect idea down when I wake up - all times that make the idea vanish.

Sure, certain places and situations encourage certain thought. I normally have the focus of a Golden Retriever in a crowded park. There's nothing to focus prayer like being in a church, where the distractions consist mainly of church-related bric a brac, so I stay in that groove. Going through the "old neighborhood" buys a first class ticket on a nostalgia trip. Being in a ballpark inspires me to jump up and yell (at some dummy messing up) ten times in two hours - that's six more than usual, otherwise.

But inspiration, as everyone who heard of the story of Archimides jumping out of the bathtub at his "eureka" revelation, lets you think you control her, while she in reality is as trainable and as callable as a housecat.

Spook Inspired / March 11, 2006 2:04 AM

well like any blue blooded American I listen to Lyrics of the hip hop duo Eric B. and Rakim's 1987's "Paid in Full"

[Eric B]: Yo Rakim, what's up?
[Rakim]: Yo, I'm doing the knowledge thing, E., I'm trying to get paid
in full
[E]: Well, check this out, since Nobry Walters is our record agency,right?
[R]: True
[E]: Kara Lewis is our agent
[R]: Word up
[E]: Zakia/4th & Broadway is our record company
[R]: Indeed
[E]: Okay, so who we rollin with?
[R]: We rollin with Rush
[E]: Of Rushtown Management. Check this out, since we talking over this def beat that I put together, I wanna hear some of them def rhymes, know what I'm sayin? And together, we can get paid in full...

Thinkin of a master plan
Cuz ain't nuthin but sweat inside my hand
So I dig into my pocket, all my money is spent I dig deeper but still comin up with lint So I start my mission- leave my residence Thinkin how could I get some dead presidents

I need money, I used to be a stick-up kid
So I think of all the devious things I did
I used to roll up, this is a hold up, ain't nuthin funny Stop smiling, be still, don't nuthin move but the money But now I learned to earn cos I'm righteous I feel great! so maybe I might just Search for a 9 to 5, if I strive Then maybe I'll stay alive
So I walk up the street whistlin this
Feelin out of place cos, man, do I miss
A pen and a paper, a stereo, a tape of
Me and Eric B, and a nice big plate of
Fish, which is my favorite dish
But without no money it's still a wish
Cos I don't like to dream about gettin paid
So I dig into the books of the rhymes that I made To now test to see if I got pull
Hit the studio, cos I'm paid in full

joe / March 11, 2006 3:24 AM

I get my inspiration to write to gapersblock when I read the headline on a piece about 100,000 latinos marching over immigration issues, and the headline is about how it caused traffic. Lame!

cynthia / March 11, 2006 10:18 PM

my students at benito juarez high school inspire me. they don't have much in the way of money or resources, but they're happy and they care enough about life to be engaged in the classroom. their hard work is a lesson to us all.

anon / March 12, 2006 5:31 PM

As if on cue, "Divine inspiration," The Observer, 12 March 2006":

"It's the vital ingredient of creativity, but what exactly is this thing called inspiration? Psychoanalyst Adam Phillips seeks its source while diverse artists from all fields reveal how the muse strikes them ... from poet Andrew Motion and his 'ritual pencil' to singer Beth Orton and her big pink hat "

mike / March 13, 2006 1:24 AM

Inspiration does actually and physiologically exist. For many people, inspiration is built from professional and artistic experience, (watch any talented comedic actor or teacher for a good example) for others, it may feel or seem like an instinctive holy moment. Regardless, it effects the body in much the same way sexual attraction or fight/flight physiological responses do. The feel that "this something needs to be done." Maybe, this is why we argue about it on the terms of muse and love and romanticism. Especially, Americans, who often think a moment of inspiration will someday lead to fortune.

Regardless of romantic era discussions of inspiration, what generally determines an artist seems to be how he or she uses an idea. Humans, of course, are a very inspired and innovative species; it is the action that determines "inspired" work or art, if it be the necessity of a bridge or a river turned against its natural flow (Chicago River) or almost instinctive and beatiful passages in a classic novel.

So, beware the artist who talks about his work for longer than the time he was inspired to do it.


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