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Jan IN IT

February 9, 2013

Jan IN IT

Jan, 1990. I remember seeing him being transported through drumming. Tried to capture it in the photo. ~Sue

Jan in Buffalo

February 9, 2013

In the early ’90’s Jan met me in Buffalo,  somehow I don’t remember the details. This was a typical Jan pose. I’d love to open it up to “name that photo”–things like “Triumph and Fortitude” or “Buffalo Glory” come to mind. He definitely had SOMEthing in mind whenever he’d readily jump into position for a pose for a picture. This is one of my favorites from the trip. I love you and miss you Jan! ~Sue H.

Jan Buffalo

Happy birthday Jan

February 7, 2013

Have thought about Jan frequently this year, as always. He’s in our DNA at this point.

This year I wrote an essay about Jan’s music life in New York before moving to Prague, and how his musical experiences may have helped shape his perspective as an artist. This was for the catalog for his art retrospective at DOX Gallery in Prague. Initially I didn’t understand the intellectual seriousness of my assignment; I pictured a bunch of Bohos doing something DIY, like we would have done in the old East Village or Dumbo when they were beautifully barren. So I wrote a very casual, personal essay. Then the gallery came back and said (politely) “No, we want something more substantial” and asked specific questions. I was happy to do it and like what they eventually published in the catalog. (It mentions the musician friends who see this blog, by the way.) But I also liked the shorter, sweeter draft 1, which I share with you here:

http://www.chrisrael.com/blog/remembering_jan_kotik/

Love to family & friends of Jan on his birthday. He’s still giving to us by keeping us together. Chris R

One Idea for Fighting Crime

February 7, 2013

I remember one time when Jan, my brother, and I were rehearsing in my brother’s basement space in Chinatown, Jan got this faraway look in his eye. After awhile, he said, “You know what would be great? What if instead of cops having to go door to door to find criminals, what if they had this giant tractor with huge blades mounted on the front that cut right through walls of buildings? That way, they could just cut their way in and find the criminals sitting there in their living rooms.”

Jan at art school

February 1, 2010

Jan and Jack Risley at Cooper, 1990.

I was lucky to have met Jan in 1990, we were in in the same section at Cooper Union, which meant I had pretty much every class with him for that year. It’s hard to imagine what that year would have been like without his presence. People took things pretty seriously, and while Jan did too, he had a way of breaking things up with the subtlest humor and shenanigans. So when photo assignments came around with all the other stuff we had to do, Jan was more than willing to throw on some helmut or bathing cap, grab some fake fur or tape some CD to his lapel, and pose for me. I could barely hold the camera steady, shaking with laughter, tears streaming down my face as he stayed there, unflinchingly funny.

xo,

Sue Havens

Brooklyn, N.Y.

magic tricks

November 29, 2009

The first time I ever heard of Jan Kotik I was sitting in my friend Caleb Brown’s living room in Cambridge Massacusetts and holding a copy of the Mommyheads album “Acorn” in my hands. It was winter 1990. Caleb and I were enthralled and inspired and wished we knew these people who sounded this cool, weird, smart and fun.

Two years later in 1992 I was living with Daniel in Brooklyn and we listened to Acorn together, and also to some tapes of  unreleased Mommyheads recordings he had gotten from Jenny Toomey of Simple Machines. We sat in awe listening to  Jan’s drumming and the creative genius of the songs and arrangements. The fact that they were all teenagers when they made these tapes just added to the mystique of this band. One of us had heard that Jan still lived in Brooklyn. We wondered if we’d ever be lucky enough to meet him or to hear him play. We never dreamed we would get to play music with him. A few years later, thanks to the urging of Tim Thomas, we did get to meet Jan, who was then playing with the mighty Beekeeper. We quickly became family and the rest is our history.

I don’t know if I ever got over my awe of Jan. But if I didn’t, it was my fault, not Jan’s. Unlike other people who possess staggering intelligence and talent, Jan never used it to make others feel inferior. He never did to me, and he could have! Instead we were family, traveling and touring together for a few precious years, enjoying the absurdity and beauty that life on the road in the USA has to offer. And I got to listen to him play every night. Every inch of his body played those drums, every beat spontaneous, alive and bursting.

The pictures above are from a lunch we had at the Moondance Diner in NYC in 1997, with Daniel and Matthew and someone took pictures- was it Austin or Elaine?- I can’t remember. Jan and I shared a love for fake magic tricks. I would put a scarf over my hand, and then dramatically pull it away. Jan would gasp in amazement that there wasn’t anything under the scarf. Of course there was never anything there in the first place. We could laugh about this kind of thing for an hour. In the picture you can see that the scarf is placed over a cup, and then Jan pulled it away. Nobody else had the patience for this joke of mine but Jan. Why did he? I’ll never know. But I think it had something to do with the sweetness in his heart being as immense as the brilliance of his mind and the talent in his hands.

Elizabeth Mitchell

Woodstock NY

Jan with Church of Betty 1991

November 2, 2009
Jan with Church of Betty 1991

Butthole Surfer Jan w/ Chris Rael, Claire deBrunner, Cindy Rickmond, Ed Pastorini. Photo by Robert Barker