Earn millions painting Christ

I assume you’ve read about the $450M da Vinci. Christie’s marketing department gets an A+. Instead of selling this in the Renaissance auction where it belonged, they sold it in the Impressionist and Contemporary auction. da Vinci has nothing whatsoever to do with Contemporary art. But the Renaissance auction is a slow, staid, dull affair, full of musty, old bidders with their moldy, old money. The Contemporary auction is SEXY. The results speak for themselves.

I enjoyed the scandalous aspects. There’s a contingency of experts who don’t think it’s a da Vinci at all. Others think it’s genuine, but the restoration and cleaning was too aggressive. They restored the da Vinci-ness right out of the painting. I stood in line for :20 minutes to see it. It was beautiful to behold. I particularly liked how the glass orb was rendered.

But half a billion? It’s a good thing they didn’t donate that money to poor people. They would’ve just wasted it on stupid stuff like food, housing and education.

That wasn’t the only questionable auction result. We have the usual crap-ola mixed with genuine masterpieces. Guess which one this is:

Felix Gonzalez-Torres
Untitled
light bulbs, porcelain light sockets and extension cord
overall dimensions vary with installation
Est: $5,000,000–7,000,000
Sold: $5,195,600

Paying $5M+ for some light bulbs strung to an extension cord seems even crazier than paying $450M for a di Vinci. Not that I could do either.

I’m a big Lichtenstein fan and this was a particularly juicy work. I understand why it sold so far above the high estimate. Sort of.

Roy Lichtenstein
Female Head
Est: $10,000,000–15,000,000
Sold: $24,501,500

I’ve never understood what Franics Bacon was trying to accomplish with his smudged paintings. They have a certain ugly appeal to me. This must be the wholesale price because you get all three paintings.

Francis Bacon
Three Studies of George Dyer
Est: $35,000,000–45,000,000
Sold: $38,614,000

Here’s a detail of the center panel. Fantastic.

Here’s a lovely Georgia O’Keeffe. She was upset that people interpreted her work as female genitalia. That’s not what she intended. She said it more than once. They are most definitely NOT vaginas.

Georgia O’Keeffe
Yellow Sweet Peas
Est: $2,500,000–3,500,000
Sold: $4,405,300

Here’s an interesting shape in the wall.

Anish Kapoor
The Healing of St. Thomas
Est: $ 40,000–60,000
Sold: $37,500

I’m usually a big fan of Kapoor but this is disappointing.

I’ll continue to post other fun results.

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I went to a taping of The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. Many years ago, I attended a Jon Stewart taping. This was before The Daily Show. The musical guests that night was The Mighty Mighty Bosstones. I went straight from work and was wearing a tie. Some Bosstone ruffians sitting behind me were picking on me and making fun of the way I was dressed.

The Colbert show is structured to within an inch of its life and not as much fun as it sounds. We waited in line outside (in the cold) for a long time. We were finally welcomed by a CBS flunky. We got the old, “Are you excited?!” and we didn’t “Woooo!” loud enough so she asked us over and over again until we got it right. She said a comedian would get us all warmed-up to meet Stephen. Were we excited to meet STEPHEN? Wooooo!

Once inside, the warm-up comedian had people come up on stage and one by one he’d make fun of them for our amusement. He said the “f” word a lot. He brought up a 16-year old girl with her mom and treated them shabbily. He also made fun of a Polish woman with an accent. He was kind of an asshole, truth be told.

He said our JOB as the audience was to LAUGH and to laugh OFTEN. The success of the show hinged on our laughter. He said the audience isn’t miked, so it was important to LAUGH LOUD so we’d be picked up on tape. Apparently, we were also responsible for Stephen’s mood. Then he said, “So are you all exited to meet STEPHEN?”

“Woooo!”

Not good enough.

“Woooooooooooooo!”

Then the stage manager came out. He had a rolled-up piece of blue cardboard. He said when he held it over his head and twirled in in a circular motion, we should go really, really crazy. We were encouraged to stand up. He then directed our attention to overhead monitors that would flash the word ‘APPLAUSE’ in red letters. We had to practice standing and going crazy. We were their monkeys, performing on cue. Maybe we’d get a nut.

We were exhausted and the taping hadn’t even started yet. The guest was Ben Affleck. They had a long, uncomfortable discussion about how women are mistreated in Hollywood. He addressed his past indiscretions, which he copped to, and said it’s important for him to learn and grow as a human being. They didn’t address any of the accusations leveled against his brother.

Wooooooo!

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NYC at sunset from my office. This is how the New York State Division of Tourism wants you to see the city.

Same view. This is how it looks on a rainy Monday morning. Gotham City, baby.

Stare at this pocket watch. You’re getting sleepy…

bins

May 14, 1993

I took Laura to see Angels in America. It opened last week and it’s the toast of Broadway. A new play about AIDS. It’s kind of upsetting to sit through. A young actor named Jeffrey Wright was particularly good. I was waiting outside the theater beforehand feeling sorry for myself because things didn’t go so well in the bedroom the other night. The play’s depiction of the afflicted’s suffering, and the suffering of those who loved him, was so vivid and so true-to-life that it made me ashamed for wallowing in self-pity over my little problem. My problem is temporary. AIDS is a death sentence, and a particularly gruesome one at that.

The pair of tickets cost $129, which I have no business spending. I’m between gigs and just marginally employed, but when she turned the corner and walked towards me, the money seemed unimportant. As she got closer, she slowed her walk and looked me in the eye. Step. Step… Step…. She put her arms around my neck and kissed me. She’s so beautiful. She couldn’t come home with me because she had to be at Baby Gap at 8:00 the next morning. Dropped her off at her apartment. The taxi driver had such horrific B.O. that we settled for a kiss on the cheek.

I didn’t want to sit around the apartment all day because I thought I might put my head in the oven so I rode my bike to Battery Park. I was in the sun for over three hours without sunscreen and got a terrible burn. I think the tourists discovered my little nook. It’s preposterous to think I can go anywhere in New York and avoid a crowd. I read the paper and thought about her, then went home and did laundry. Spent time on the phone with Bonnie. She’s got relationship problems, too.

I am so vexed about what happened the other night, and so convinced it’ll happen again, that I went to a hypnotist. Desperate measures. It cost $80. That leaves $73 in my checking account. He put me “under” but all I felt was ridiculous. He thought I fell asleep but, honestly, it was all I could do to keep from laughing. He said to envision peace and calm and then took my money. I don’t know if it’ll help. It would help if Laura dumped Dave back in Nebraska. I should visit Ann and her coconut oil. I’ll bet that’d restore my confidence in a jiffy.

Laura and I like to have “questions sessions” in bed. We create a safe space and are allowed to ask each other anything, no matter how personal or erotic. And many fantasies were learned. On that day. It’s a lot of fun. I found out about Dave during one of these sessions. Unsafe space.

CBGBs this Friday. Fang Records showcase featuring BOX and Very Pleasant Neighbor. Two of my favs. Cindy said she’s going, which is a bonus.

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Artist and rabble rouser Ai Weiwei’s new public installations are a commentary on the worldwide refugee crisis. As with most conceptual art, its meaning in relation to the actual piece is beyond my ken. I only ever enjoy this stuff for its visual splendor (or lack thereof). Good Fences Make Good Neighbors is a citywide installation that consists of hundreds of pieces. The most fetching are these two cages.

I took these at 6:30 in morning. I wanted stark, empty streets and early light.

Arch is in Washington Square Park.

The center cutout is polished mirror and in the shape of two figures.

Gilded Cage sits at the southeast entrance to Central Park.

That’s The Plaza in the background. Once an elegant hotel, it’s now a Trump property and, hence, polluted.

You can walk inside. It’s the closest I ever hope to get to jail.

Bruce Gets Paid

Bruce Springsteen is playing a one-man show on Broadway and people are fuming over the price of a ticket. The initial face value was $75-$850. The $75 tickets are two rows in a converted balcony. It used to be where the lighting rigs were mounted. The seats are so high up that there could be an imposter on stage and you’d never know the difference. The entire run, through February, sold out instantaneously. Only secondary market tix are available at inflated prices.

Last week’s Broadway earnings report contained a wild aberration. Bruce earned $2.3 million for FIVE SHOWS. Hamilton earned $2.9 million for the week, but that was for EIGHT performances and that show has a huge cast and an orchestra. Bruce’s overhead is nonexistent. It’s him, a microphone, a guitar and a piano. He doesn’t have to share his lucre with anyone.

His base isn’t happy. Fans are incredulous. “Man of the people, my ass!,” they wail. Each night, the theater, an elegant, intimate, 900-seat Broadway house built in 1921, is stuffed to the rafters with wealthy, Caucasian, geezers.

As far as I’m concerned, Bruce gets a pass. That man spent his entire career in the service of his fans. You get your money’s worth and then some when you see him perform. He gives back. Many of his charitable deeds go unreported. He’s in the sunset of his career. If he wants to take a victory lap on Broadway and charge a lot of money, that’s his due.

My wife and I saw the show last Friday. I can’t afford a ticket and wouldn’t pay $850 even if could. I got tickets via the only option available to the hoi polloi; I won the daily ticket lottery. And when I say ‘won,’ I don’t me we got free tickets. Winning the daily lottery entitles you to buy a pair of tickets for $75 each. They were nice seats! Mezzanine! The gentleman sitting next to us paid $400 for his tickets from StubHub, so $75 is a bargain.

It’s billed as ‘written and directed’ by Bruce, but I’m pretty sure he had help from someone who knows a thing or two about theater. The pacing was good, the blocking was smart and the transitions were well-placed. He’d move from guitar to piano when he needed to change a scene or move the story forward. There were equal parts story-telling and singing. The songs were stripped bare. If Born in the U.S.A. had been originally sung the way it is in this show–mournful and slow with a slide and a 12-string guitar–it never would’ve been mistaken for a jingoistic anthem.

End up like a dog that’s been beat too much
Till you spend half your life just covering up

The crowd initially mistook it for a concert. They were whooping and making a ruckus. It’s not that kind of show. It’s a quiet show. There’s a lot of dialogue. Bruce can deliver a line and has surprisingly adroit comedic timing. As soon as the show settled into a groove, people quieted down.

His wife came out and sang two songs with him. That section felt superfluous and wedged-in. It interrupted the flow. He could easily cut her out, streamline the show and keep more of the till for himself. But then, he couldn’t go home at night.

~~~~~~~~~~

I took my daughters to the local botanical garden. These were taken with my iPhone. It has a duel lens that allows for close-ups. I took about 80 shots to get these eight that I like. You couldn’t do that before the digital age. Remember when you had 16 shots and you had to make each one count?

Does anyone know what kind of beetle this is?

Deep Cut Gardens was once the home of New York mob boss Vito Genovese. He bought the house and surrounding property as a quiet respite from his busy business affairs in the city. He ran afoul of the law and the property was taken by the government. The house is now a welcoming center and the grounds are meticulously maintained. One wonders how they arrived at the name ‘deep cut.’ Vito’s favorite negotiating tool?

Humpty Dumpty had a great fall

bins

May 30, 1993

When I hear Laura’s voice on the phone I feel it physically. In my gut. In my bones. We saw a horrible production of Romeo and Juliet in the basement of a church in Midtown. Juliet looked to be about 30 years old. We checked the playbill and she was the producer. It was a vanity production. It was particularly painful for Laura, a classically-trained actor who can’t find a gig. It made her sad so we left at intermission and drank in a Russian restaurant. She got kind of loud.

The next night I went to the brownstone she shares on the Upper East Side for a party. It was a big deal for me to be invited. I want to be accepted in her world. I hate walking into a party all alone where I don’t know anyone. I feel vulnerable. But Laura buzzed me in, met me in the stairwell and kissed me. I felt a lot better after that.

I was the first one there. In New York, nobody shows up to a party until 11:30. It’s obnoxious. I brought 12 bottles of Dos Equis to endear myself. Her friends were gracious and welcoming. Her roommate, Eleanor, is gorgeous. She’s dating an attorney who is also the landlord. He seems psychotic. I think he uses drugs for more than just recreational purposes. He gives off a bad vibe. How he landed a tomato like Eleanor is a mystery.

At 3:30 we grabbed a couple beers and went up to the roof. It was beautiful out. The city was quiet. I sat on a kitchen chair someone left up there and she straddled me. We kissed for a while. She was wearing a flowered dress with shoulder straps. She reached behind her, unzipped her dress and pulled the straps down. I asked her to come home with me and she said alright. “But,” she said, “I need to tell you something. There’s someone back home I care very much about. David. He may come here for a visit. If he does, I won’t be able to see you. I’m going to tell him about you, too, because I don’t like sneaking around.” She said she couldn’t promise me exclusivity. I was noble and said I understood and appreciated her honesty but I’m wrecked.

We came down off the roof. It was a little after 4:00 a.m. Eleanor and some of her friends were at the kitchen table. We chatted for a bit and left. The fact that Laura left with me in front of all her friends was tremendously gratifying. We got a cab to the Lower East Side.

She brought an atomizer in case she had a cat allergy attack. The previous day, I’d spent an inordinate amount of time cleaning the apartment and kept the cats out of my bedroom, which they did not like one bit. There was much complaining on the other side of the door.

It was both glorious and horrible. We fell into bed and intertwined but I was unable to deliver the goods. We’d been drinking for quite some time and she attributed it to alcohol but I can assure you it had nothing to do with Dos Equis and everything to do with David. I couldn’t stop thinking about it. I’m not in this recreationally, like she is.

We laid in bed for hours alternately kissing and talking. At one point I was sitting in the director’s chair opposite the bed and the morning’s first light started to seep through the blinds. I could barely see her outline. The light was magic. It spilled across her body, a slow reveal as the sun rose. Her hair flowed across my pillow. It’s exactly the kind of thing that fills the Met with great art.

We fell asleep at 7:30. I woke up first around 11:00 and watched her sleep. She is as pretty in the morning as I am ugly. She woke up and I thought she’d leave straight away but we stayed in bed for a while. She pressed her body against mine. I made some coffee. We sat for a couple hours and talked. She commented how nice it was; just sitting and talking.

She left her atomizer and leather jacket here, so I think she’ll be back. But I’m worried. You can’t un-ring a bell.

She got a job at Baby Gap.

Margaret called. She wants to know why I haven’t called Samantha, the blind date she set me up with a couple weeks ago. Is she kidding?

All the king’s horses and all the king’s men
Couldn’t put me together again.

~~~~~~~~~~

I came into work last week and saw this shadow on the blinds.

It’s a boy! Or a girl. Either way, it’ll peck your eyes out.

*     *     *

43rd Street Parking Garage

*     *     *

Chrysler Building; midday/evening

Falcon Crest

A few weeks ago I reposted pics from last year of the falcon that visits our office every summer. Well, guess who just showed up? She was nice enough to alight on the west side of the building this time, which made for more dramatic images.

We’re 50 floors up. Too high for sparrows and pigeons. Okay for falcons and helicopters. Look at her pose. What a diva. She knows she’s being photographed.

We know when she’s outside because we hear her screeching. She calls her chick and teaches her how to dive off the building and attack some poor, unsuspecting bird or rodent. Here, she’s scoping the area for lunch.

The following morning, a rare treat. The baby makes an appearance. This isn’t a great shot but she was only there for a few fleeting moments. Mom will perch outside our window for 15 or 20 minutes at a time. People line up to take her picture.

~~~~~~~~~~

This is an interesting piece. It’s a collaboration between Andy Warhol and Jean-Michel Basquiat. Pretty obvious who did what. It’s from Tommy Hilfiger’s collection and was sold in London in June. Call me tacky but I would totally hang this up.

Andy Warhol and Jean-Michel Basquiat
New Flame
Est: £1,700,000—2,000,000
Sold for £2,408,750

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This is Ladder by Crazy Marina Abramovic. I saw it in a group gallery exhibit.

Last year she published her memoirs. It’s a hysterical example of tortured artisté navel-gazing and pretentiousness. As as child, instead of playing with toys, she “…prefered to play with the shadows of passing cars on the wall.” She made that up to sound cool, right? She didn’t actually do that, did she?

She was born into a wealthy Yugoslavian family and enjoyed maids, theater tickets, paintings, a grand piano. A world of privilege. All while the rest of the country scraped by in post-war poverty. Yet, she writes of the “…tyranny of support.” She complains about “…changing planes so often, museum and gallery openings, endless receptions…” What a loon. She should try the Port Authority bus depot at 6:20 a.m. My finest art.

She’s quite the gas bag but I *do* like her work. I saw her retrospective at MoMA in 2010 and loved it. Perhaps her odious comments are part of an elaborate performance piece. I hope so.

I ran my finger along the knife edge. They were dulled. Of course they were! What were you thinking?

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Morning meta moment. Walking down 42nd St. on my way to work I looked up and saw a billboard for an HBO series about 42nd St. Different era. Same pavement.