Sittin’ stoned alone in my backyard

Dear Trent Lewin:

Thank you for the ping. Very thoughtful of you. A few summer projects have prevented me from reading blogs, commenting or writing new posts.

First, my backyard performance art installation, Ode to Summer, opened in June.

Ode to Summer, 2016
String, canvas, a tree, tube steel

I tie one end of string to my right foot and the other end to a tree. I lay in my hammock—a Father’s Day gift—and by moving my right foot slightly from left to right, I’m able to rock myself gently to sleep. To wit:


Second, I read Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, which was a disappointment. To rinse that bad taste out of my mouth, I reread Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises, a book I first read 20 years ago. I’d forgotten how beautiful and perfectly-written that story is. There’s not one wasted sentence. It filled me with melancholy and hopeless yearning for my youth.

Also, I wrote a book. I dared myself to do it. I took the journal entries I’ve posted here and many more that I haven’t and created a 75,000-word narrative. It’s currently being edited. Do you have any idea how much it costs to hire a professional editor to beat and thrash a manuscript into shape? It’s not cheap. I had to sell one of my rare books. I don’t know if it’ll ever see the light of day. I just wanted to prove to myself that I could do it. I did it! I’m pleased with the results. That’s what matters most.

Here’s a proper art exhibit, since you asked.

Nikki Rosato’s Inbound exhibit at the Seward Johnson Grounds for Sculpture is a sampling of her wall hangings and sculptures.

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Her medium is paper road maps. Remember those, old timers?

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She cuts away the land masses, leaving only the roads, boarders and waterways.

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Only the linear forms remain.

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It’s exacting, effective work.

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For sculpture, the maps are placed over Lucite forms.

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There was some mumbo-jumbo about the work being metaphorical for a personal journey. Get it? Map = journey. There was also some stuff about negative space and spatial counterpoints. As usual, I freely admit to lacking the intellectual capital required to see through to these metaphysical suppositions. The pieces were fetching and I respect the work that went into creating them. Isn’t that enough?

The many moods of Tillie.


PNC1PNC2PNC3You go little plant! They built an outdoor concert pavilion on top of you but you found the light, anyway. We should all have such pluck.

Van Gogh’s ear. Schnabel’s head.

I’ve got a ton of art to post. Not all of it is good, but it’s all interesting. That’s where the rubber meets the road. Here’s a double-dip.

Elmgreen & Dragset
Van Gogh’s Ear


Another large-scale public piece at Rockefeller Center. It’s a 30′ upended swimming pool. It works best if you don’t know it’s there. You turn a corner and are met with this displaced object. It’s comical.


I’m not sure how they arrived at the title. Does it look like an ear? Elmgreen & Dragset’s previous installation was Project Marfa, a Prada store located in the middle of the desert in Texas. Equally pointless. Nice contrast and angels.


This errie giant is standing sentinel at the Whitney. It seems as pointless as the previous piece but I like it.


Urs Fischer
Standing Julian
Wax, pigment, steel and wicks

It includes wicks because it’s a candle. This is a wax statue of Fischer’s friend, fellow artist Julian Schnabel. The idea is that the wicks are lit each morning when the museum opens. It’ll burn down and be discarded. There are two wicks; one is on his shoulder.


The clothing is made of steel but passes convincingly as cloth.


The cast of Schnabel is a remarkable likeness. The mold can be repurposed. Fisher should create an army of Schnabel candles. He can sell them at Pier 1 Imports.


The second wick is inside his head. I wonder how long this has been burning?




May 18, 1992

I called Lucy and accidentally slurred a couple of words. She asked me if I was drunk and I decided to run with it and told her yes, I was. I said I had a few glasses of wine and pretend to be drunk. I continued to slur a word every now and then and say things I’d never say sober. I occasionally threw in a cuss word.

I told her I thought she should change her mind about dating me. She said she’s a nightmare to date and she’d only make me miserable in the end. That’s probably the best piece of free advice I’ve received in a long time. I sure would like to see her naked, though. I occasionally think she’s ready to crack and surrender herself to me but then I look in her eyes and I see there’s nothing there. Do you know how sometimes a girl will look right inside of you and give you a soulful, sorrowful look that tells you everything you need to know? I get the opposite from Lucy. One look and I can tell she feels nothing for me.

She asked me to come over a couple of times during the course of the conversation. I told her Kat was going to Atlantic City over Memorial Day and that I’ll be staying in her condo in Long Beach in her absence. She stamped her foot and wanted to know why I hadn’t invited her along. Is she really that stupid?

On Saturday I had comps to a Broadway show, “A Small Family Business.” It’s by Alan Ayckbourn, who’s one of my favs. I met Maureen at the theater but once we got there we decided we’d rather see something lowbrow. We tried to give the tickets away but had a hell of a time. People in New York are so full of suspicion. Nobody wanted them. We were on our fourth couple when I finally thrust them into a guy’s hand and said if he and his girlfriend didn’t want them, they should pass them on to someone else but to NOT THROW THEM OUT.

We ended up seeing “Wayne’s World” in a disgusting Times Square theater that I wouldn’t bring mom into. It smelled like cats sprayed all the seats. The plaster was cracking and there were big holes in the ceiling. It smelled bad and looked worse. [Note: this is what pre-gentrified Times Square was like. I don’t miss it.] Sinéad O’Connor sat in front of us. She was with a gigantic bodyguard.

The movie was stupid, just like everyone said, and also very amusing, just like everyone said. We ate pizza and ice cream before the show and bought popcorn at the theater, which tasted like cat urine. We were kind of sick afterwards. I got home in time to see Geraldo Rivera box Frank Stallone on Howard Stern’s TV show. Geraldo got a proper ass-whopping. His protective headgear wasn’t on secure so when Stallone punched him, it would slip a bit and he couldn’t see. Hilarious.

I’m reading a book of essays by David Mamet. He says it’s no longer a thrill to see his words in print or spoken on the stage or screen. What a dick. Even if you felt that way, why would you say such a thing?

The storm that ate Manhattan. I took these from my office window on Thursday at 4:00. This entire sequence took 30 minutes.





The enemy within


April 7, 1992

I’m worried about my mental health. Things are going reasonably well. The family is healthy. I’m not nursing a broken heart. I’m gainfully (albeit, unsatisfactorily) employed. Yet, I zone out and get these horrible, violent visions. I imagine terrible things happening to me or the family. Torture or disease or a fatal accident or crime. When I finally snap out of it, my teeth are clinched so tight that my jaw hurts and I have a tremendous headache. I project my angst onto others and assume anyone successful looks down on me and laughs behind my back. I hate people at work who are nothing but nice to me simply because they have a clear career path and I’m headed nowhere. I’m consumed with envy and uncertainty.

Poor Shannon wants to be friends in the worst way but she commits the unforgivable sin of being born into a wealthy family. Old wealth. Really old wealth, according to Ethan. [Note: Ethan was our boss.] I’m mean to her. She invited me to a spring party at her family’s estate. Ethan said it’s a rare opportunity and I should go, if for no other reason, just to see the mansion. It’s got a name. Like, Olde Crest Manor, or something like that. Of course, I told her I wouldn’t go. I don’t have the poise to spend an entire day with blue bloods.

I spoke to Jennifer. She sent some work down to us. I told her about my attending the pro-choice rally in D.C. and mentioned the chant I wrote for it. She laughed. It might be the two best lines I’ll ever write. She seemed genuinely happy to hear my voice. Towards the end of the evening, around 10:00, she came down to pick up her work. I kept my head down and shuffled pages like a news anchor. It’s so sad what happened. She seemed to like me well enough but I couldn’t get past her being a Yale graduate. It’s all I’d think about when we were together. I heard she’s got a boyfriend. Probably someone who isn’t ashamed of what he does for a living, but not as funny. I haven’t had a proper girlfriend in a long time. As soon as they see which way the wind is blowing, they bolt.

My wrist, arm, hand and shoulder are still cramping-up. I’m waiting for the pain to dissipate on its own but it’s not getting any better. I don’t know what to do.

We were in the Times the other day. We’re the #1, top dog PR firm in the city.  It’s because we take all the scummy clients. Those are the ones who pay the highest fees. Last night I worked on something related to the NHL strike. We’re representing the owners, of course. We have all the sin products. Liquor. Tobacco. It’s nauseating.

Today is Billie Holiday’s birthday. The college jazz station has been playing five solid hours of her music. Holy cow, is it depressing. But so good.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art discovered the power and profit of fashion when they mounted a career retrospective of Alexander McQueen in 2011. It proved to be so popular they had to keep the museum open 24/7 on the weekends so they could accommodate the masses. Since then, they’ve feasted on a steady diet of fashion exhibits. Who could blame them?

I can be sized-up in about two seconds as someone who doesn’t know a thing about fashion. But I found the current Manus x Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology exhibit satisfying from a design perspective. I also enjoyed its outrageousness. I don’t speak a word of French but I would guess that haute couture and pret-a-porter are synonymous to bizarre and strange.

Alexander McQueen
Hand- and machine-sewn nude silk organdy and net, hand-embroidered with red-orange glass beads, freshwater pearls, pieces of coral and dyed shells.


Pieces of coral?



Iris van Herpen
Hand-stitched strips of laser-cut nude silicone feathers, machine sewn white cotton twill, hand applied silicone-coated gull skulls with synthetic pearls and glass eyes


Gull skulls?



Gareth Pugh
Machine-sewn black silk-wool gazer with overlay of black mesh, hand-embroidered with black plastic drinking straws

Drinking straws?


Machine-sewn white silk-wool gazer with overlay of white mesh, hand-embroidered with clear plastic drinking straws


We’re beautiful like diamonds in the sky

Contemporary artist Duke Riley’s outdoor installation, Fly By Night wasn’t like anything I’d seen before. And I’ve seen plenty. Riley constructed pigeon coops on the helicopter landing deck of a decommissioned Navy vessel that was docked in the Brooklyn Navy Yards.


The press release said 2,000 pigeons lived there. For six weeks, three nights a week at dusk, Riley and his handlers stood on top of the coops, whistled and whooped and set the birds flying. They gently swirled over the East River.

You may have noticed something odd. Attached to their legs were small leg bands. Long ago, when pigeons were used as couriers, these bands contained messages. Now, they contained LED lights. As darkness fell, the lights popped against the black sky. They became swirling comets over the Hudson.

Pigeons are not nocturnal by nature. Riley had to acclimate them to flying in the dark. Some animal rights activists felt this was abuse and picketed the exhibit when it first opened but none were there the night I saw it. Here, the choreography is set against the Williamsburg Bridge and Manhattan skyline.

The piece lasted about :20 minutes. They were trained homing pigeons and didn’t fly away to join their brethren in the city. They returned to their coops to the sound of Sister Nancy’s Pigeon Rock.

Riley has a special fondness for pigeons. In an earlier piece, 50 of them carried illegal cigars from Havana to Key West. Tiny cameras recorded the event. This last clip is superfluous. It’s just me toying with my iPhone settings.


Meanwhile, back in my past, a vacation goes bust.


March 17, 1992

The Bahamas were lovely but we never had sex. Not once. I wasn’t interested and neither was she and no amount of alcohol could change that. I wish I’d gone with anyone else. I’m sure she feels the same way.

I’m refreshed. Nine hours of sleep every night and day after day of sunshine, beaches and great meals will do that to a person. But at night, I looked across the bed and felt nothing. Thank God she lives in Columbus. That’ll make it easier. She drove me mad with that fucking camera. How many picture do you need?

She could’ve been more adventurous. She’s consumed with caution and dread and governs her life with a strict adherence to rules. She wouldn’t take a boat out to a coral reef to snorkel because she was afraid of getting too much sun. Scuba diving was entirely out of the question because it’s too dangerous. She was afraid her lungs might burst. I finally got her to snorkel, but only in the lagoon near the hotel, which was so polluted with sunscreen that you couldn’t see six feet in front of you. It was disgusting. After that, she wouldn’t go again.

She insisted on eating only ‘natural’ food. What’s that? Lots of fish, I suppose. Every morning she took a fistful of vitamins and supplements. I’ll bet half of them are placebos. We took a ferry to the mainland to visit the ruins and she got seasick. So frail and easily knocked off her game. I can’t say I was much of a gentleman. She’s probably as glad to be rid of me as I am of her. Perhaps more so. I barely know her. What were we thinking?

My city of pretty girls


March 2, 1992

There’s a new girl here at work and, boy, is she adorable. Suzanne. She’s too young for me. Fresh out of college. Her entire life has been spent in the warm cocoon of academia. This is her first dose of reality. I don’t think we have a damn thing in common but I’m going to launch a charm offensive when I get back from Mexico. She’s Jewish. I don’t think she’ll have anything to do with me once she finds out I’m not. That’s usually how it plays out.

She lives in Cobble Hill, which is a much nicer part of Brooklyn than Fort Greene. Michele told me she’s currently dating two men and isn’t crazy about either one. What a shame. She’s got long, straight, jet black hair that I want to run my hands through. I can picture the slender threads pouring between my fingers like water. I *think* she’s flirting with me. She was sealing an envelope and licked it very slowly while looking at me through the tops of her eyes. She dipped her head slightly and that beautiful black hair cascaded over her shoulders. She licked. Our eyes locked. Time stopped dead. So I’m going to ask her out.

On Friday I rushed home and had a quick run. I was going to see Life in a Blender at Brownies on Ave A but Ann Marie called and wanted to meet me for a drink. Who am I to refuse? We met at El Teddy’s. I paid $6 for a scotch and soda that was made with very bad scotch. We split a portabella mushroom cap that was about the size of a dinner plate. I picked up the tab. I’ve got to cut down on that. It’s wiping me out.

After El Teddy’s I walked her to her sister’s loft in Tribeca. She lives in a warehouse. Access to her apartment is through a loading dock. It looks pretty grim and marvelous. The neighborhood is dirty. I like it. I was hoping to be invited up but it didn’t happen.

We were kissing in the dark amongst trucks backing-up to load deliveries. I opened my eyes mid-kiss (because I like to do that sometimes) and I saw a giant rat walking about ten feet behind her. Walking slowly, like it didn’t give a damn about us. We broke and she started to turn away, so I grabbed her and kissed her again. I think she thought I was overwhelmed with lust (which is partially true) but I didn’t want her to see the rat. It would’ve spoiled a nice moment.  I opened my eyes again and saw it walk into a shadow under the loading dock.

Kissing someone new is a real treat. Those first few sessions are a genuine thrill. You never know what you’re going to get. I live in joyful anticipation of my next new kiss. Ann Marie can kiss better than Ann, but not quite as well as Candace. I wonder if Suzanne knows what she’s doing? No two girls kiss exactly alike. They’re like snowflakes.

Candace and I are going to CBGBs on Saturday night for the Black Rock Coalition jam. Those guys always play loud. Really, really loud. Too loud. She said she might get comps. I sure hope so. I’m kinda broke-assed.

Speaking of pretty girls in New York, take a look at these beauties. She’s life-sized. You should click on this.

Oil and bronze


Isn’t she delicious? She’s by contemporary artist Carole Feuerman and she’s meditating in the window of the C24 Gallery in Chelsea. The exhibit features her new sculptures and paintings.

Leda and the Swan
Oil and resin


Feuerman is a hyperrealist, which is a made-up word but I’m going to give ground because I think these sculptures are fetching.

Monumental Quan
Painted bronze and stainless steel


She needs more than one pic. Right?