Dumping the cutlery drawer onto the kitchen floor

I really have nothing to say. What the hell is going on? What am I doing here?


Nature’s Way: Part 1

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Here’s how a typical New Jersey douchebag parks:

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The problem isn’t with him. It’s me. This makes me far, far angrier than it should. Why do I care? Why am I in his world? He didn’t put me out. I got a parking spot. But I’m so involved that I stopped to take a photo. And posted it, no less! Thinking you’d all share in the outrage. That you all suffer the same illness that I do. I need H-E-L-P.


 Nature’s Way: Part 2

My in-laws place has a backyard that abuts the woods. A deer walked out of the woods alone and stood near the pool. It stood there for a long while. Longer than a deer usually stays in one spot. And they’re usually not alone. Then, bombs away! It gave birth! It was like dinner and a show. I’ve experienced two births up close and didn’t really feel the need to see another.

My father-in-law said that earlier in the week, another deer gave birth on the curb near the street. We have so decimated their natural habitat that they have taken to giving birth in backyards and streets. People curse them as a nuisance.

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Art is Money: Supplemental

I promised Gibber I’d follow-up the previous art auction post with a couple by Picasso that didn’t make the final edit. He’s her “undying favourite,” proving, by that peculiar spelling tic, that you are not from these here parts.

Les Femmens d’Alger was painted in homage to his pal and competitor Matisse not long after Henri died. It’s considered one of the most important Picasso masterpieces still held in private hands. This version, Version O, is part of a 15-piece series and is considered to be the best of the bunch. It sold for a preposterous amount of money. It was bought anonymously and the art world has made great sport out of trying to figure out who owns it. It ain’t me, I can tell you that much. Or Gibber. Presumably.

Pablo Picasso
Les Femmens d’Alger (Version ‘O’)
Estimate on Request
Sold for $179,365,000

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Picasso left his girlfriend for several weeks while she was pregnant. Boy, was she angry! He returned with an “I’m sorry” gift; an embroidered red peasant jacket, which she loved so much that he included it in this portrait of her. What?! You can’t see it! It’s right there in front of your face!

Pablo Picasso
Femme au Chignon Dans un Fauteuil
Estimate: $12,000,000-18,000,000
Sold for 29,930,000

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Does anyone remember when Kobe Bryant got caught cheating on his wife? HER appeasement gift was a gigantic, 8-carat purple diamond ring worth $4,000,000. Some women sure know how to parlay their rage into a payoff. I like both paintings, by the way.


Hey, shitheel terrorists. Remember that big hole in the ground from 9/11? Look what we built in its place. It’s magnificent! And really tall. And you can’t get NEAR the memorial or observation deck without a reservation. It’s constantly packed. So much for people being too afraid.

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ART is MONEY. MONEY is ART. The spring auction report.

“There’s something slightly boastful wanting to own these things. And there’s a prevalent sense that this is also about asset gathering, not just collecting.”

Abigail Asher
Art Consultant

Well, that’s the understatement of the year. I don’t imagine this post will get a lot of play, but I find this stuff endlessly fascinating. It was a record week at the spring Contemporary and Impressionist art auctions. Christie’s alone sold over $1 billion worth of art. As always, a splendid time was had by the 1%.


Alas, poor Vincent. Only sold one lousy painting his whole life. And that was to his brother. He’s doing okay now. This was a great piece. The blue was more vibrant than what you see here.

Vincent Van Gogh
L’Alle des Alyscamps

Estimate on Request, but believed to be +/- $40,000,000.
Sold for $66,300,000

van goghIt’s hard to look at this and feel indifferent. People either love Pollock or hate him. I understand why folks might have a problem with this, but I liked it.

Jackson Pollock
Number 12, 1950
Estimate: $15,000,000-20,000,000
Sold for $18,282,000

pollockI’ve just recently developed an appreciation for sculpture. Late to the game. If I could have this piece on this pedestal with this lighting, I’d take it.

Alberto Giacometti
Buste de Diego (Amenophis)
Estimate: $6,000,000-8,000,000
Sold for $12,794,000

giacomettiContemporary art snobs disparage the Impressionists as being about as challenging as a Hallmark greeting card. Well, screw them. I like it. Art snobs should remember: Impressionism is a gateway drug. A few years of these guys and the next thing you know you’re curious about the Pre-Raphaelites. In the comic strip Doonsbury, prototype slacker Zonker Harris won $23 million in the lottery and spent $1 million on a Monet. He hung it above his refrigerator but subsequently sold it to purchase a royal title in the British aristocracy.

Claude Monet
Nympheas
Estimate: $30,000,000-45,000,000
Sold for $54,010,000

monet_waterliliesA smattering of contemporary pieces.

Keith Harring
Dog (Three Works)
Estimate: $500,000-700,000
Sold for $1,690,000 

Robert Indiana
Love
Estimate: $400,000-600,000
Sold for $538,000 

Barbara Kruger
Untitled (Provenance)
Estimate: $120,000-180,000
Sold for $394,000

harringYou’ve got to hand it to Jeff Koons. He has a talent for making wealthy people look foolish. Three Hoovers in Plexiglas with fluorescent lights. The lot description said this was executed in 1980-1986. This took six years?!

Jeff Koons
New Hoover Deluxe Shampoo Polishers
Estimate: $5,000,000-7,000,000
Sold for $5,765,000

koons2This Rothko was described as being unusually bright. That’s putting it mildly! Rothko’s color palate trends towards deathly earth tones. This was owned by Bunny Melon. Pronounce her name with a clenched jaw. You can’t get Waspier than that.

Mark Rothko
Untitled (Yellow and Blue)
Estimate: $40,000,000-60,000,000
Sold for $46,450,000

rothkoI’m posting this Mondrian right after a Rothko intentionally. Rothko famously fumed that, “I am not a formalist. I have no interest in Mondrian. My paintings do not deal in space. Mondrian divides a canvas; I put thing on it.”

Piet Mondrian
Composition No. III with Red, Blue, Yellow and Black
Estimate: $15,000,000-25,000,000
Sold for: $50,565,000—a world record for a Mondrian

I love both the Rothko and the Mondrian. If I could, I’d buy both and hang them next to one anotheer. Heh.

Spooky and rich. This feeds both my desire to own an Impressionist masterpiece and my bottomless pit of Anglophilia.

Claude Monet
The Houses of Parliament at Sunset
Estimate: $35,000,000-45,000,000
Sold for $40,485,000

monet_westminsterThis Lichtenstein is thought to have missed the estimate because, believe it or not, it doesn’t contain one of his trademark comic book speech bubbles, which can add millions to a piece. WTF, art world?

Roy Lichtenstein
The Ring (Engagement)
Estimate on Request, but thought to be around $50,000,000
Sold for $41,690,000

lichtensteinAll of Gerhard Richter’s works are an insult to the brushes he loaded with paint and the canvases he dragged them across. A giant mess.

Gerhard Richter
Abstraktes Bild
Estimate on Request
Sold for $28,250,000

richterHere’s another in a series of nothings from Jean-Michael Basquiat. He threw his life away on heroin addiction. Stupid ass. A door painted on two sides.

Jean-Michael Basquiat
Untitled
Estimate: $3,000,000-6,000,000
Sold for $3,610,000

basquiat-door1This O’Keeffe is being offered in the May 20th American Art auction but included it here because I think it’s magnificent. O’Keeffe was angry that people interpreted her flower paintings as female genitalia. That was never her intent.

Georgia O’Keeffe
White Calla Lily
Estimate: $8,000,000-12,000,000

I hadn’t intended to include this Rothko. I was afraid of Rothko-overkill and the photo doesn’t do it justice. This was hung in a side gallery. The lights were dim and there was a bench set in front of it. I sat down and realized there was also relaxing spa music playing at a barely-audible level. I got kind of lost in the canvas. I had an out-of-body experience, which is what I believed Rothko intended. It sold for an extraordinary amount of cash.

Mark Rothko
No. 10
Estimate on request
Sold for $81,925,000

rothko n0 10I showed this to a friend who’s an artist. He’s a master at watercolor. His comment was, “Nice flesh tones.” Well, that might be true but I couldn’t look at this hanging on my wall every day. Fun fact: Lucian Freud was the grandson of Sigmund Freud.

Lucian Freud
Benefits Supervisor Resting
Estimate: $30,000,000-50,000,000
Sold for $56,165,000

freudI like Anish Kapoor’s work. This concave disk is made of stainless steel and gold. It was mounted in a small room and smacked you as soon as you turned the corner. It’s all in the lighting, folks.

Anish Kapoor
Untitled
Estimate: $750,000-1,000,000
Sold for $905,000

kapoorHere’s what happens when you stand too close to it.

FullSizeRender(5)I wasn’t going include this Damian Hirst butterfly-wing piece because I’ve done a few of them in the past and I hate being redundant, but this is a particularly striking example so I couldn’t resist.

Damian Hirst
Freedom
Estimate: $500,000-700,000
Sold for $629,000

hirst1 hirst2Here’s a funny one. Oh, golly, you’re going to laugh and laugh! These are words painted on a wall. How big it is depends on you. The lot description reads:

“Any size as suits the needs and desires of the receiver.”

Which, I guess, means Weiner comes to your house and paints this on a wall. Now, THERE’S a piece that can be easily forged.

Lawrence Weiner
Balls of Wood Balls of Iron
Estimate: $80,000-120,000
Sold for $185,000

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This means when the auction is over and Christie’s paints that wall, they’re painting over a $185,000 “masterpiece.”

You are looking at $181,770,000 worth of art. I walked through this gallery with my backpack on. One false turn and you’d have read about me in the paper.

Mark Rothko
No. 36 (Black Stripe)
Estimate: $30,000,000-50,000,000
Sold for $40,485,000

Alberto Giacometti
L’homme au Doigt
Estimate on Request
Sold for $141,285,000

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corridor

Our Young Hero Drinks in High and Low Places

My heart wandered without direction, untethered and searched up and down Manhattan for safe harbor, usually without success.

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September 23, 1993

I met Jennifer at the Algonquin for drinks. I love that place. I like taking out-of-towners there. If it was good enough for Graham Greene and Hemingway, it’s good enough for Ohioans. An odd thing happened. An older waiter—not the one who served us—walked up to our table and stood over me, looking down. He didn’t say anything for a while. It was uncomfortable. Finally, I said, “Can I help you?” He asked to see an ID! He wanted to make sure I was 21! It’s dark in there, but not THAT dark. What an idiot.

I can’t get past the fact that Jennifer graduated from Yale. She’s way smarter than I’ll ever be. What am I doing with her? We talked about our families. Or something. She’s fun. She seems game for anything. Last week, we went to a Freddie Jackson concert out on the pier. As far as I can tell, we were the only white people there. I mean…there must have been others. But I didn’t see any.

We were sitting the in bleachers off to the side. I was fumbling with my keys and accidentally dropped them. They bounced down onto the pavement beneath us. Jennifer said, “I’ll get ‘em!” and before I knew it she was crawling between the seats and down the scaffolding to retrieve them. We were up about 15 feet. While she was climbing back up to our seats, a big black woman sitting next to me leaned over, nudged me and said, “She’s a keeper.”

Yes, I’m sure she is.

We walked out of the Algonquin. She turned left to Grand Central, I turned right towards Times Square. I crossed 6th Avenue, turned around and walked right back into to the Algonquin. I got on the payphone and called Bonnie. I wanted her to come meet me at the bar or invite me over. Preferably the latter. She shocked me with the news that she’s got some guy living with her. She made a point of telling me he sleeps on the sofa. He’s an old friend who is in a crisis and needs a rest. I can’t believe how much I care. I care!

Instead, I met Cindy at Nightingales down on 13th and 2nd. We drank and shot pool for a bit before she had to leave to meet her scary lesbian friends. She was in a foul mood because she gave herself another shitty haircut. We played teams with some guy who was a Lower East Side cliché. Full of pretension and manufactured anger. He said his name was Evil and he wore a skull ring. “Hey, Evil, it’s your shot” got stuck in my throat a few times. While waiting for his turn, he’d pose with his pool cue and smoke in an overly-dramatic fashion, like he was a model in the middle of a location shoot or a tragic character in a bad Tennessee Williams play. When he shot, he’d rest the cue on the side of the table and only use one arm. Idiots uptown. Idiots downtown. I’m surrounded.

Cindy left so I sat at the bar. That hippie barmaid who was always mean to me isn’t there anymore. The new hippie barmaid is much more personable. There was a pretty blonde sitting at the end of the bar writing, but I was too nervous to say anything to her.

Margaret was just here at my desk and I worked on her resume. She’s so pretty that I might be able to overlook her unrelenting unpleasantness. There was a lot of standing over me unnecessarily close while I worked. Her long, red hair cascaded down onto my shoulder. She said it’s too bad I don’t have a car because then we could hang out on weekdays, but I’ll be damned if I’m buying a car just for that. She smells nice. Her blouse hung open a bit between the buttons and I could see the outline of her breasts. She’s even prettier since having her nose done. How do I get my hands on her? Other than buying a car, I mean?


The third grade had an assignment to write a poem based on a color. 8-Year Old Daughter was given red. Hang in there for the Flannery O’Connor ending.

Red is…
Red is a grape tomato ripe from the patch.
Red is the sunset on a cold fall night.
Red is a strawberry so juicy and ripe.
Red is Christmas with the bells ringing.
Red is blood on a child’s arm.
Red is…

I didn’t see that coming. Jesus. She’s just a kid. It’s even more macabre when you see it in her own handwriting.

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FullSizeRender (1)REALLY, Marriott? You’re going to do that to me? What a bunch of chintzy pickpockets.

I heart Hathaway

I’ve never understood the vitriol directed at Anne Hathaway. I guess she said a few dippy things that rubbed people the wrong way. Well, guess what? You were a dope when you were in your 20’s, too. You just weren’t famous enough for everyone to know it. As far as I can tell, she a dedicated actor who just wants to turn in the best performance she can.

I saw her at The Public Theater in her one-woman show, Grounded by George Brant, in the tiny, 275-seat, Anspacher Theater. It’s about a fighter pilot who loves flying and loves the Air Force, but suddenly finds herself grounded because of a pregnancy. She’s relegated to drone operations—an inferior position for a pilot—and it drives her to madness.

It’s directed by Julie Taymor, who knows a thing or two about tasty visuals, staging and sound design. The play opens in a dark house. The stage is wall-to-wall ripples of sand. A beam of light shoots down on center stage. Hathaway stands beneath it in a flight suit and helmet. A thin stream of stand pours down. The sand particles bouncing off her helmet are an effective opening.

grounded1The visceral thrill of flying sorties gives way to a move to Las Vegas and long, tedious drives to her desert base where she spends 12-hour shifts staring at feeds from a drone.

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The tedium is only interrupted when she presses a button to rain down death from above. She slowly becomes detached from her husband, daughter, fellow crewmen and reality.

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The play climaxes when she finally locates a high-ranking insurgent and, after following him for months, drops a bomb. She watches through the hyper-telescopic drone camera as a child runs out of a house to embrace him and it reminds her of her own daughter. It’s an effective, albeit, contrived conceit. Hathatway immersed herself so deeply in the performance that at the curtain call on the night I saw her, she was visibly shaken and choking back tears. She came out for a second round of applause and was still weeping.

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Hathaway is on the board at The Public. In an effort to generate revenue, she’s agreed to hold post-show meet-and-greets on selected dates. You can pay $1,000 to meet her, or, for $1,500, you can sit in prime seats for the show and afterwards have a three-course dinner with her and George Brandt, the playwright.

Considering the condition she was in at curtain call, I can’t imagine dinner being a barrel of laughs, but I’ll bet you’d remember it.


I walked over to the Sean Kelly Gallery on my lunch hour to see Cyclicscape, ten new aluminum and stainless steel sculptures by contemporary artist Mariko Mori.

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They’re white, smooth loops without a beginning or end. They have a nice flow to them.

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The galley was empty and seeing them in a quiet, white space gave them gravitas. I’m glad nobody was around. A crowd sure can ruin a meditative moment.

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There’s always some art-speak mumbo-jumbo in the press release. (Right, Ross?) This time, it’s something about the universe’s never-ending renewal of invisible energy that transcends physical matter. Oh, brother. Can I just say I liked them for no particular reason?

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They reminded me of those squiggle pins that Paloma Piasso designed for Tiffany’s.

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Another book I helped to publish

Long-time readers know that I’m a book philistine. I refuse to use e-readers, I collect Modern First Editions and, for a brief time, was a bottom-rung rare book dealer. But my book bona fides were cemented when I partnered with Jim, one of my best buds and the proprietor of synesthesia press in Los Angeles, to publish a chapbook for Bruce Springsteen and Nick Hornby.

The Cliff’s Notes version is that Hornby gave us permission to reprint his essay on Thunder Road and Springsteen gave us permission to reprint the lyrics on a broadside. The stipulation was that the labor, materials and proceeds had to be donated to charity. We raised a little over $16,000 for Hornby’s cause in London. Here’s what happened in greater detail. It was an epic, eight-year struggle. A story of failure and second chances. Of lost friendship and redemption. It’s the best post I’ve ever written or ever will write.

Jim and I have come up with another chapbook. [Jim, mostly, if I’m being fair and honest.] This one is written by Tosh Berman, the son of Wallace Berman. Wallace Berman was an American artist who is considered the forefather of assemblage art and was an integral figure in the 1960’s California art scene.

Wallace is one of the faces in the crowd on the Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album cover. He’s right next to Tony Curtis. Tosh was 12-years old at that time and this story is his remembrance of when Brian Epstein reached out to his father to secure permission to use his image.

“Around March of 1967, my father received a large envelope that was addressed from London.”

So begins Tosh’s short narrative, June 1, 2014. The hand-sewn chapbook is letterpress printed using both moveable type and photopolymer plates. There are three tipped-in color illustrations.

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Four variant color covers were used; Steel Blue, Factory Green, Kraft Speckletone and Safety Orange. The print run is 300 copies.

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Each copy is signed by Tosh.

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You can order a copy of June 1, 2014 from the synesthesia press eBay store for $19.95 plus shipping. If you’re in the Los Angeles area, the book is available at Alias Books East. There’s more stuff to come off the press so keep your eye out. Here’s part of Jim’s mission statement:

“As a bookseller, I generally specialize in good used books of a subversive nature. In other words, anything by or about Beatniks, Commies, Pinkos and Reds. Most artists are subversive by nature and love all things smutty, so I like art books and Artists’ Books, outlaw poetry and prose or anything you’d be embarrassed to show your mom.”

You won’t read that in the Houghton Mifflin annual report.

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Berman’s hand-assembled magazine, Semina, was published from 1955 to 1964 and ran nine issues. None were for sale. Copies were given away free to his friends. Currently, there’s a complete set available on the collectible market for $6,750. And that’s for a letterpressed Facsimile Edition printed in 1992. Original copes of the fragile publication are exceedingly scarce.

As a child, Wallace told his mother he would die on his 50th birthday. That premonition came to pass when, on February 18, 1976, his 50th birthday, he died in a car accident that was caused by a drunk driver.