The latest issue of The F.I.B. fanzine (that's "Fidalgo Islands Beautiful", which it is) concentrates on the life and work of Arrington de Dionyso, a courageous painter, singer, designer, guitarist and artistic provocateur who, though he has made Olympia, Washington his home for the last 30 years, is really a citizen of the world. The F.I.B. #24 examines all aspects of Arrington's creative life, from his earliest musical explorations through the tumultuous Old Time Relijun escapades, his Malaikat dan Singa, his throat singing adventures and how his painting has changed and evolved. And what about all those saxophones and their surrogates? It's all there.
above: Arrington de Dionyso (right) at work, and at play.
The F.I.B.'s editor, Jimi Sharp, asked me to write the introductory essay to issue #24, an honor I accepted with humility. What follows is said introduction to The F.I.B. #24 in it's entirety:
Arrington de Dionyso: Why Be Normal?
The life’s work of Arrington de Dionyso has an undercurrent of: “Why be normal?” This query is not put forward from an arrogant snot-nosed kid (he is not) - - - Arrington has always shown unusual maturity and his sincerity can be painful.
There is no cynicism or satire in Arrington’s quest for the answer to this question of the ages “Why be normal?” Arrington’s work is immersed in whimsy, an uplifting brand of humor not taking swipes at anyone (except of course, The Man).
This is not a rhetorical question, “Why be normal?”, Arrington really wants to know. He’s a practical fellow and sees that in going from point A to point B, the normal route often takes the most circuitous path, whereas he’s prone to go for the throat (in the gentlest of ways.)
As a conversationalist Arrington is a good listener. He wants to hear what you have to say. Especially on the topic “Why be normal?” You see, if being normal is your thing for no other reason than to be normal, that isn’t a good enough reason. The world is vast. Life is good. Live a little! Being normal for it’s own sake is a waste of one’s time when with just a little creativity one can live as one ought to, with verve and dash. With passion. Don’t fear passion, it is our friend.
Thus, the work of Arrington de Dionyso provides a glimpse of the world as it could be would be - - - should be. A series of “what if”s viewed through a lens of passionate music creation resulting in an explosion of sound, music and emotion that could be conceived as normal, more likely as abnormal. Again, not abnormal for the sake of abnormality. Just good common sense.
Remember our friend passion? Through his visual art Arrington has laid bare the beauty of our inner selves, the hidden passions and the demons whom we look in the eye and know as us. Music tames the savage beast, or exposes it and let’s it roam. Arrington combines visual art and music just so, it’s really quite delightful. Through this passionate display Arrington let’s one see the possible maybes of life that may not have occurred otherwise, just going about life as normal.
Besides, what is “normal”? Statistically speaking, it is normal in our society for over 45,000 people a year to commit suicide. Over one thousand people are killed by police, a disproportion of them African American, because racism is normal. It’s normal for eight million tons of debris to enter the world’s oceans every year. As we go about our normal life as humans the planet continues to warm at an accelerating rate; over half of all known species are expected to become extinct by year 2100. What is so appealing about this normality? Considering such stark normal-ness, one begins to see Arrington may have a point in asking “Why be normal?”
And now, with the current global pandemic state “normal” has been disrupted, torn asunder. To those who pine for a return to “normal” one must borrow a page out of Arrington’s journal and ask “Why be normal?” This is our chance to redefine normal. Let’s do so for the better. We can improve “normal” for everyone, and once there, at a place where life is enhanced for the many, creativity has blossomed exponentially, famine, war, pestilence and all other equine riders of atrocity are at the very least slowed to a leisurely walk, we’ll look around at where we are and imagine what could be on beyond and once again ask, “Why be normal?”
My parting salutation to Arrington de Dionyso was once “enjoy life”, to which he responded, “I always do.”
--- Calvin Johnson