Where Art and Commerce Collide

I love the holidays for purely secular reasons. I embrace the music, crowds, decorations, food, gatherings—pretty much everything that is outwardly disparaged in New York City. I’m like one of those Lindt chocolate truffles—I have a soft center.

The the holiday windows at Bergdorf Goodman are a treat. They’re no joke. They’re designed by artisans who take their work seriously. Every year there’s a theme and this year it’s the arts. Some of these are the best displays I’ve ever seen. Here’s a couple examples. If you reading this in the city and you don’t make the effort to see these you’re missing out. These pics don’t do them justice. And go at nighttime.

This window represents music. Nice art deco frame. They all have that.


She’s surrounded by silver horns. Big ones. Little ones. Nice dress, too.


This is dance. She slowly rotates on that gear. She’s delicate. The gears are not. A nice juxtaposition.


I love how she’s lit and the angle of her head. It accentuates her long neck.


This is architecture. The best of the bunch. I stood in front for a long time. There’s a lot to absorb. The window is crammed with representations of NYC landmark skyscrapers.


In the upper right corner, out of the shot above, is a gargoyle perched on a pedestal.


He’s made by a paper sculpture.


This represents theater. The neon lights are sequenced making a slow reveal from bottom to top.


I like that her dress is translucent. You can see the lights between her legs.


The day after I visited these, The New York Times Style section posted a short video on the making of the architecture window. It’s pretty interesting stuff.

Not to be outdone, the porn store on 8th Avenue across the street from my office also decorated their window. It’s kind of a lazy affair. I wonder if “Santa Sack” is suppose to be a double entendre? Pretty poor, if it is.


I picked up my iPhone 6 on Saturday. It’s a miracle of form, function and design. I’m dizzy with happiness. Just like a maternity ward reveal.

Wrapped in a big, red bow just for you

Here’s an early Christmas present for everyone. This guy is one of the best writers out here. His posts are compellingly written, there’s not a wasted word in them and they arrive at manageable intervals. Each one is a marvel of drama and humor. The consistency of the quality is almost other-worldly. This newest post is a pretty good representation of what’s on the menu over there. You’re welcome.


Corner of Pain St. and Attention Deficit Blvd.


I’m upgrading my phone and I don’t know if I should get an iPhone 6 or 6+. I’m frozen with indecision. You can’t take this stuff lightly. You use your mobile phone every day, all day and you’re stuck with it for two years. The iPhone 6 is only marginally bigger than my 5. What’s the point? The 6+ has better specs but it’s too damn big. It’s like talking into a floor tile. They should have invented something in between. Idiots. This wouldn’t have happened if Jobs was still alive. I asked Siri but she was no help.siri


I would un-invent email if I could. I came back from vacation to 200+ emails at work. I’m not even management! I’m just a lowly worker bee! Can you imagine what those guys go through? 80% of them were nonsense. I leave work every evening with an empty inbox and there’ll be anywhere from 10-20 new messages in the morning. Those ass-kissers and workaholics send stuff all hours of the night. Sometimes as late as 3:00 a.m. Go to bed, you fuckheads. Play with your kids. Walk the dog. Have a glass of wine with your spouse. Read a book. Or take a sleeping pill. But don’t email me.


7th Avenue and 40th St. The Fashion District. Tuesday, December 2nd, 6:30 a.m.

seventh-av1 seventh-av2 seventh-av3IV.

I work in an open-architecture environment. They broadcast CNBC on flat screens with the sound off. The financial analysts like to see the stock ticker and breaking news. Occasionally, CNBC will conduct an investment strategy straw poll. For instance, the NASDAQ is about to hit 5,000. Should you buy or sell? Here’s everything you need to know about Wall Street: cnbcProof positive that NONE of those guys know ANYTHING. It’s all a guessing game.


Q. You said that you feel like an outsider in Hollywood. Do you still feel like that?

A. One hundred percent. Feeling like an outsider is part of my nature, and it’s what makes me who I am, so I think I’ll find a way to make myself feel like an outsider no matter what situation I’m in.

Zooey Deschanel
Time Magazine print edition
November 24, 2014

Because nothing screams I’m a rebel like fielding fluff ball questions on a national stage in a dying medium. With Taylor Swift on the cover, no less. She’s like actors who complain about being famous. You’re not an outsider, cupcake. Image fail. And stop using “one hundred percent.” It’s a tired, worn out cliche.


A befuddled Jackie Mason strolls down 7th Avenue. I should run a fill-in-the-caption contest. masonThat’s one of the reasons why New York is so fun. You can go out for lunch and see ancient celebrities promenade down the avenues. [Does Jackie Mason qualify as a celeb? Do you know who he was/is?]


Jesus. What a dull, ornery, meandering post. I just broke my own cardinal rule: don’t hit publish just for the sake of pushing a post out. If you don’t have anything to write about, give it a rest. Quantity never beats quality. And it never will.

Up and Down the Social Ladder

I stumbled across this photo of Kira Nightly at the premiere of The Information Game all glammed-up and posing in her Dolce & Gabbana while some frumpy fans look on.

knightlyIt reminded me of this famous photo by Weegee which, having always been insecure about my place in society, never fails to stir my bile.

weegeeWeegee had intended this to be a social commentary but it was later proven to be a fake. The photo was staged. The two matrons were wealthy friends of Weegee and the urchin was brought up from the Bowery, plied with liquor and told to stand in that spot. She was the only one unaware of the ruse. Weegee was a smart guy. He got the expression on her face he needed. Because it has been discredited, the photo is said to have lost its power to incite, but I beg to differ. It still pisses me off a little bit every time I see it. For some reason, it always reminds of my mom. Isn’t that sad?

I was watching Jerry Seinfeld’s Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee (which you should watch because it’s brilliant). In the episode with Kevin Hart, they were discussing growing up humble, as they did, versus growing up wealthy, as their children are. They had this prescient exchange:

Hart: “The things that made me into who I am, my kids will never experience.”

Seinfeld: “That’s right. It’s going to be different for them. Your problem was: Things are bad, I gotta make it good. Their problem is going to be: Things are good. Why do I feel bad?”

Scramble two, Jerry.

We took the girlies to Orlando over a school break. We visited Universal Studios. They’re too old for Disney princesses, but they’re in that sweet spot for The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. An old, cynical crank would say that it’s a lot of this:

gringottsAnd this:

menuA $10 hot dog! At least you get crisps with it. You can buy all the soda you want while in the Universal theme park but once you enter into Hogwarts or Diagon Alley, it’s not available. You can get Butterbeer, water and juices, but no Coke. I was told that that was at J.K. Rowling’s insistence, which is marvelous. I love her.

I found that if you leave yo pretentious ass back in New York (which is no mean feat for a part-time snob like myself), you can be suitably impressed by the meticulous attention to detail and the superb execution of design. Like this big fella:

dragon1Pretty good and even more impressive in person. Every few minutes he belches a loud, powerful blast of fire. If you’re standing nearby, you can feel a wave of heat. It’s quite an accomplishment. Might be fun to smoke a big fatty and see this.

dragon2There were a lot of visitors from the UK. I mean, a LOT. Is this a big destination for you guys? I got into a fascinating discussion about succession with two travelers from Scotland. Two cute girls with accents that can melt an aged Anglophile.

Life is a carousel ride. Sometimes literally.


“Growing up is hard, especially for men, because that means you have to leave the best years of your life behind.”

Mike Tyson

The World’s Most Expensive Urinal

I don’t imagine this will be of interest to everyone but I find the subject endlessly fascinating. This is my fall contemporary art auction report. These auctions were held two weeks ago here in New York at Christie’s and Sotheby’s. Prior to the auctions, you can visit the galleries and view the lots for free. It’s important to take it in because after the auction, they pass into private collections, never to be seen again.

My last post ended with a cliff-hanger so why don’t we address that first?

Robert Gober
Three Urinals
Estimate: $3,500,000 – $4,500,000
Lot Sold: $3,525,000

gober_urinal_sm I checked my local hardware store and you can get three urinals for about $1,000. I should have peed in one and said I was making an artistic statement and demand payment for my “work.”

I really like Francis Bacon. I came around to him rather late in life. Better late than never. It doesn’t say so explicitly in the title but this is a Pope. Or a Cardinal. I forget which.

Francis Bacon
Seated Figure
Estimate: $40,000,000 – $60,000,000
Lot Sold: $44,965,000

baconWarhol + Harry = LOVE IT. Warhol used metallic paint for many of these celeb paintings and the accent colors really POP when you see them in person. This was also signed by Debbie Harry. I wonder if that played into its value? [Fun fact: Debbie is performing her first show as a cabaret artist in the legendary Café Carlyle this spring. Yup. It’s come to that.]

Andy Warhol
Debbie Harry
Estimate: $2,500,000 – $3,500,000
Lot Sold: $3,077,000

Warhol_harryFor a long time, my least favorite artist was Jean-Michel Basquiat. I still don’t like his work (I’ll keep trying) but Robert Gober is my new least-favorite artist. He’s a charlatan, a fake and a flim-flam man. See that piece on the wall next to his urinal? Guess what that is?

drain1It’s this.

Robert Gober
Estimate: $300,000 – $500,000
Lot Sold: $293,000

drain2aThat’s it, folks. A drain stuck in the wall. A $293,000 drain. What a fraud.

Here are the two monsters. The ones that made it to the front page of The New York Times the next morning.

Andy Warhol
Triple Elvis [Ferus Type]
Estimate Upon Request
Lot Sold: $81,925,000

Andy Warhol
Four Marlons
Estimate Upon Request
Lot Sold: $69,605,000

warholEstimate Upon Request means they ain’t fucking around. There was a bench situated in front of these and I sat and stared for a while. Little did I suspect that I was looking at $150,000,000 worth of artwork.

This one was in the paper as well because it sold well beyond its pre-auction estimate. The peculiar thing is that unlike the oversized, big-ticket Warhols and Rothkos, this was a relatively small piece measuring just 11 5/8″ x 17 1/2″ (29.5 x 44.4 cm). I don’t mind it. It was vibrant. But not for that much.

Jasper Johns
Estimate: $15,000,000 – $20,000,000
Lot Sold: $36,005,000

johnsThis piece is huge. It measures 112 x 142 x 66 in. (284.5 x 360.7 x 167.6 cm). You don’t think this is supposed to be a gigantic…naaaa…no way.

Robert Morris
Vetti V
Estimate $150,000 – $200,000
Did Not Sell

morrisAnd speaking of Did Not Sell…this piece is from Damien Hirst, the fella who brought us a giant great white shark in a tank of formaldehyde and paintings made from butterfly wings.

Damien Hirst
Dog Days
Estimate: $500,000 – $700,000
Did Not Sell

hurst1Would you like to know what’s on all those shelves? It’s these:

hurst2I consider El Anatsue a bit of a genius. He’s a Ghanaian sculptor who makes these beautiful, flowing wall pieces. The Brooklyn Museum exhibited his work a couple of years ago and I still haven’t caught my breath.

El Anatsue
Man’s Cloth II
Estimate: $700,000 – $1,000,000
Lot Sold: $989,000

anatsui1Here’s what his pieces are constructed of:

anatsui2He collects thousands of aluminum bands from wine and beer bottles and painstakingly connects them using copper wire. He’s very intentional about the distribution of color and texture. His work shimmers.

I’ve always been a fan of Mark Rothko and this is one of the best pieces I’ve ever seen by him. I stood there and just let it wash over me. Sometimes, bigger IS better.

Mark Rothko
No. 21 (Red, Brown, Black and Orange)
Estimate Upon Request
Lot Sold: $44,965,000

rothkoPart of what fascinates me about these auctions is just how subjective they are and how some super-wealthy people can be talked into liking works with questionable merits. This is by Chinese artist/dissident Ai Weiwei, who I’m actually a fan of, but maybe not so much in this instance. It’s a pile of…

Ai Weiwei
He Xie
Estimate: $600,000 – $800,000
Lot Sold: 605,000

wiwi1…porcelain crabs, of course..

wiwi2I’d been indifferent towards Adolph Gottlieb’s work, neither liking nor disliking it, but I turned a corner and was gobsmacked with this. The photo is inadequate. It’s the perfect balance of color and shape, one playing off the other. I love when this happens. When an artist’s intent is suddenly revealed to you. I’ll have to reconsider my indifference.

Adolph Gottlieb
Red and Blue
Estimate: $2,000,000 – $3,000,000
Lot Sold: $2,165,000

gottliebI’ve got a few more but I’ll stop with this lot. I think it’s an appropriate coda. It’s by Christopher Wool and even though he didn’t title it, I think we can surmise from the content, what someone paid for it and the overall spirit of these auctions what the title should be.

Christopher Wool
Estimate: $12,000,000 – $18,000,000
Lot Sold: $14,165,000


Bonus Track. I accidentally took this while walking through Sotheby’s. I flipped the pic 180° and like the effect. I look like I’m walking towards myself. How meta.

Estimate Upon Request.