Things We Love: Andy Johnson edition

By Columbus Alive
From the November 21, 2013 edition

Alejandro Jodorowsky

I actually didn’t like [Jodorowksy’s movie “Holy Mountain”] that much [initially], but then I started to look at it more and realized he’s playing with amazing, huge issues. Then somehow I jumped into tarot, [so] I bought his book on tarot. It’s mind-bending and unbelievable the amount of knowledge and depth he spends on tarot. Then I picked up his graphic novels. You can envision these scenes he tries to make in your head, these classic stories of brothers dueling and Oedipus complexes. All of it is about humanity and love, and one of the first things he says [about tarot] is it’s not about reading the future, making money or sitting in a shop and being a gypsy; it’s about understanding your humanity and your psychology and how you relate to the things you love. It’s a system for understanding yourself, and that was amazing to me.

Le Monte Young

La Monte is a musician from New York City who played at the same time or a little before the Velvet Underground, and, as far as I know, was one of the first who took Eastern philosophy and Eastern music into Western culture and really started taking things like meditation and drone into the act of playing things slowly and how it relates to your mind and how your mind fluctuates and fills in the spaces.

Ulisse Aldrovandi

Aldrovandi was a 15th century Italian scientist who tried to catalog all of the species in the world. What I find fascinating is the way he’d do it. People would come into port after traveling all over the world and he’d ask them to describe these creatures or bring him back some creatures, and then he’d have artists illustrate them. They’re amazing; there are fish with pig heads and weird arms that don’t fit. He did a whole series of drawings on Earth and there are little humans living in a woman’s body but they’re perfectly scaled humans and not babies. I actually have downloaded every image I could find. I want to try to publish a book of them — I have 400 jpgs of his.

The symbol of the ouroboros

It’s an ancient symbol of the snake eating itself — everything’s cyclical. I first started really thinking about it when I tattooed [an ouroboros on] my best friend Fran. I didn’t think much about it, but then I started researching it more. You start to dig and look at your life and you see the circles. It comes back even to drone music. The music I grew up with in the ’90s was punk rock, but then I kind of went away from that and got into other music for 10-15 years. When I got into drone music I realized the musicians I loved in the ’90s and ’80s are making drone music or heavy, slow music now. And then the idea of La Monte Young and listening to sitars as inspiration rather than blues and spending my college years going to Krishna temples and trying to understand myself and now being inspired by that again 20 years later.

Columbus

If anything, Columbus is a great big ouroboros that keeps eating itself. Everybody knows each other or is related to each other. I moved here 10 years ago and … I’ve lived in a fair amount of cities and I’ve traveled a lot, and now that I have a shop Downtown, it’s amazing the amount of things people get done here. Living in a big city like Philadelphia, you feel like everything’s been done and you don’t have space to [do your own thing]. In Columbus, if you want something you can do it. You can have these connections and not have to worry about money like in Boston. It’s easy for people who have grown up here to be like, ‘Oh, it’s just Columbus. It’s a Cowtown.’ But it’s an awesome city. I really love it. It’s still progressive and people are thinking and pushing things and come up with their own ideas.

[Columbus: Dispatch file photo

Jodorowsky: Provided by Andy Johnson

Le Monte Young: Provided by Andy Johnson

Ouroboros: Provided by Andy Johnson

Aldrovandi: Provided by Andy Johnson

Andy Johnson: Logan McWilliams photo]