Poo-shay

From our Literary Tidbit Department:

Ian Fleming wrote his first Bond novel, Casino Royale, in 1952 at Goldeneye, his house in Jamaica where all of the Bond novels were written. He had been musing on a name for his new creation. “I wanted Bond to be an extremely dull, uninteresting man to whom things happened; I wanted him to be a blunt instrument…” He looked up from his desk and saw this on his bookshelf:

bond_birds

“I was casting around for a name for my protagonist I thought, by God, ‘James Bond’ is the dullest name I ever heard.” That’s right. The real James Bond wasn’t a globetrotting super spy. He was an ornithologist. And, yes, that’s a first edition.

Fleming would routinely name villains after actual people who had gotten on his nerves at one point or another. Hugo Drax, Goldfinger, Scaramanga, etc., were all part of a grand payback scheme. Sweet.

The Bond books were written while World War II was still a fresh wound. The villains were mostly Germans or Asians with hideous physical disfigurements who were hellbent on world domination.

Fleming’s greatest nomenclature creation is Pussy Galore. Talk about a straight white male fantasy! She was the leader of a gang of lesbian ex-circus performing cat burglars. Bond turned her hetro with his superior lovemaking skills. The film adaptation has Bond overpowering her in a bail of hay in a barn. Afterwards, woozy from a proper pumping from Bond, she willingly reveals Goldfinger’s nefarious plans to the CIA.

In a heartfelt tribute, Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery features a character named Alotta Fagina, which I find no less absurd than Pussy Galore.

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Would you look at this whopper I bought before work last week. It was enormous! Gerthy, too. Five inches around. I measured.

Am I the only one astonished that I can buy fresh tropical fruit from a street vendor in Manhattan the middle of winter? Isn’t that a cause for wonderment? I’m certain that option didn’t exist not long ago. Only 50 cents.

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I have tried for years to develop an appreciation for Gerhard Richter’s work but it’s just visual noise to me. It’s big. You can say that much for it.

Abstraktes Bild (809-2)
From the collection of Eric Clapton
Estimate: $18,000,000-25,000,000
Sold for $22,087,500

Oh. And Eric Clapton owned it. You can say that, too. And say it they did. Over and over and over. That was thought to be one of the painting’s key selling points. They sure couldn’t sell it on its artistic merit alone. Clapton bought it in 2001 for $3.4 million.

$22 million. Give me a break. It was fugly in 2001 and it’s fugly today.

This was AIDS

bins

Would you look at this? Exactly 25 years ago to the day. Almost. Where were you?

January 7, 1992

Had lunch with Kat at The Brasserie. It’s as close as I’ll ever get to the Four Seasons. I had a club sandwich. She had a spinach salad. $43. I picked up the tab. I have to once in a while. It’s emasculating to never pay.

I don’t think she’s happy with her girlfriend, although she claims she loves her very much. She doesn’t think she likes having sex with women and all she ever wears is sweats. They’d better get that shit sorted out before they do any more house hunting. She told me about a house in Lido Beach they’re interested in. She said it’s an up/down and the bottom half can be rented out. In describing the bottom unit, she kept saying you have your own entrance and you walk out the door onto the beach and you have your own private terrace. You, you, you. I don’t think I was imagining it. I’d have to give it some thought. Commuting from Long Island has never been a dream of mine although wearing sweats 24/7 is.

I visited Elvin last night. It’s the first time I’ve seen him since his mother passed. He doesn’t seem to be taking it well. He’s lost a lot of weight and didn’t have much to start with. I mentioned how sorry I was for his loss but he clearly didn’t want to discuss it so I dropped it.

He had a friend over I’d never met. Tim. I think I’m the only straight person Elvin knows personally. That goes for ALL of my gay friends. It seems gay people ONLY hang out with other gay people. I think I’m a token. One of Oscar’s friends called me a breeder. Nice.

We sat in the living room and chatted like a bunch of mature adults. Elvin lit a fire. One day, I would like an old Brooklyn brownstone with an old Brooklyn fireplace that still works. There’s a photo of Victor on the mantle just before he passed away and he looked really, really bad. Elvin and Tim listed all the people in the neighborhood and friends of friends who are sick with AIDS. It was a long list. I was thinking to myself how lucky I am to be straight. Not that I’m immune, but I like my odds. For dinner he made chicken marinated in teriyaki sauce. It was very good. I left a little heavy-hearted because of all the talk about death.

Oscar threw a party for a friend who was just accepted into law school. I’ll tell you what…my gay friends sure know how to host a shindig. Loud, thumping music, dancing, scrumptious food and lots of laughing.

The next day I was watching the Cowboys/Lions playoff game and the two guys below me were having loud sex. It’s annoying. I cranked up the TV so I couldn’t hear them. Listening to gay sex while watching the NFL left me discombobulated. I don’t understand gay sex. There’s no part of a man that I find even remotely enticing. Poor women.

When I lived in Arizona my apartment shared a thin wall with newlyweds. That’s was pretty great. They went at it day and night. The girl was a screamer. I remember once, between moans, she said, “You shouldn’t. Remember what the doctors said.” That didn’t stop him. Can you imagine if he’d dropped dead right in the middle of it? I’m certain that it happens all the time.

Lucy and I saw a play at the Walter Kerr. Crazy He Calls Me. About a Brooklyn mama’s boy who falls in love with a Polish immigrant. It was just awful. Lucy didn’t like it either. It’s a two-hander and I felt bad for the actors. Polly Draper from thritysomething is in it. Lots of Hollywood folks come out here slumming on Broadway to burnish their resumes. She should run right back to LA.

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I would display this in my grand foyer if I had one.

minjun1

Yue Minjun
The Last 5,000 Years

minjun2

Estimate: $120,000 – $180,000
Price realized: $199,500

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Manhattan sunrise. I caught this just before they extinguished the lights on the Chrysler Building. It’s my favorite skyscraper.

sunrise

Can I take you to the movies? b/w plane crash

Manifesto, currently at the Park Avenue Armory, is thirteen 11-minute films playing simultaneously on thirteen different screens.

manifesto1

The first film you see upon entering the drill hall is a lit fuse. Metaphor amok!

manifesto2

manifesto3

Cate Blanchett is a different character in each film. News anchor. Puppeteer. Punk. Homeless man. CEO. Conservative housewife. etc. She’s heavily made-up and unrecognizable in many of these.

manifesto4 manifesto5

For dialog, she recites manifestos from different art movements in dramatic fashion. Dadaism. Futurism. Pop Art. Surrealism. Architecture. etc.

manifesto6

At one point, all thirteen screens simultaneously cut to a severe close-up of her face as she delivers a penultimate manifesto statement. She delivers these few lines in the same monotone in each film, filling the armory with a buzz of art-speak gibberish. Sounds pretentious and dull, doesn’t it? It’s not.

manifesto7

It’s interesting to see what they do with this giant drill hall space. There’s been some great projects but it’s going to be impossible to top Ernesto Neto’s anthropodino.

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bins

March 23, 1992

There was a terrible plane crash last night at LaGuardia. 27 people died. It was trying to take off during a snowstorm. It bounced on the runway a few times and then burst into flames. It wound up half on the runway and half in Flushing Bay. I don’t know where I’d rather come to rest; in the freezing drink where I’d drown in ice water or on the runway where I’d burn up. Probably the former.

I always think about crashing when I take off and land. What a terrible way to go. It was a U.S. Air flight bound for Cleveland. That’s a little too close to home for me. They sent psychologists to Hopkins Airport in Cleveland to deal with traumatized family members. I keep thinking about the parasitic media crawling all over the victim’s families asking, “How do you feel?” Can you imagine going to journalism school and that’s what you end up doing?

The flight number was 405. Everyone is playing that number in the lottery. They always do that in New York. Ghouls.

Candace made dinner for me on Friday. I didn’t think that girl knew how to boil water but it was a very nice meal. The brown rice was a little undercooked but the chicken was good. We both got loaded. I wonder what possessed her to do that? Make dinner for me?

After dinner we saw The Master Builder on Broadway. It was awful. Not even having Lynn Redgrave in the cast could save the production. Ibsen’s work always seems comically outdated to me. The acting was atrocious. We left there laughing hysterically and went down to Continental to see Big Fag. The guitarist never showed up and their lineup changed but I still liked them. I don’t know what Candace thought. After Big Fag, The Funky Knights played. They were polished and dull.

Got a cab and dropped her off at Avenue A and 3rd and went home to Brooklyn. I think she wanted to kiss me in the cab but I was so drunk I didn’t trust my judgment. Plus, I’m exhausted from being turned down so often. If she’s interested, let her initiate it.

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Look who’s trying to make nice.

dogs

Give me a break. This is the same villainous canine who bit me repeatedly. I know what’s going on. She hasn’t tasted my flesh in a while and is trying to get me to drop my guard. It’s not going to work. I’m not stupid.

Dressed in holiday style

The annual holiday window displays are up at Bergdorf Goodman. My route there took me past Trump Tower. What a circus. A woman was protesting out front holding a ‘Not My President’ sign with a big erect penis drawn on it. Vacationing families with little children walked by.

As usual, the displays are a riot of craftsmanship and design. It takes nine months to create these. Here’s a sampling. My pics look a little blurry but if you click on them, they’re sharp.

bergdorf1

This year, the theme is the kind of dioramas seen in natural history museums. This window is done in a jungle motif.

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Feathered and bejeweled primates are tucked into every corner.

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bergdorf4

In this window, we find our femme fatale (they all have a femme fatale) surrounded by gigantic insects.

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I like how icicles drip from his pincers.

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In this window, a tightrope walk over a swamp.

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bergdorf7

Watching workers below her rearrange the exhibit.

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bins

I dug this out of my journal in honor of Miss Saigon‘s return to Broadway this spring.

February 20, 1992

I saw Miss Saigon with Ann Marie last night. I don’t know what all the fuss is about. It’s not very good. I can’t recall one song. They’re all generic and uninteresting. Even the helicopter evacuation scene wasn’t impressive.The comps had a face value of $100, which tells you everything you need to know.

My mind is whirling with this Ann Marie business. Instead of watching the play I mused on how much she likes me. During the penultimate scene, Saigon was being evacuated but all I could do was gauge my interest in Ann Marie vs. my unrequited affection for Mimi.

I was in a bad mood today and called Ann Marie’s office for a quick hello thinking it’d cheer me up but I got her voicemail. I left a message and proceeded to obsess on why I hadn’t heard back from her. Minutes turned into doubt. Did she not get my message? Is not returning my message, in fact, a message? This went on all afternoon. Finally, towards the end of the day when I was ready to crawl out of my skin, she called and apologized for taking so long to get back to me. She’d been with clients all afternoon. We had a few laughs. I’m sick. I need psychological help.

I’m not sure anyone is doing well. Austin’s band isn’t going to make it. Klinger and Mimi aren’t going to be paid actors. I’m surrounded by corporate cogs. Society considers them successful, model citizens but most of them seem pretty miserable to me. I don’t envy them. Ann Marie wants to be a personal trainer. Melissa wants to be an artist. They’re not going to make it. I wonder what keeps them going? They’re better off than I am. At least they have an aspiration. I’m empty inside. Writing workshops and freelance gigs. Who am I kidding? I sit in this apartment in Brooklyn and have no idea where I’ll be in five months, much less five years from now.

The water was out again all weekend so I couldn’t bathe or wash dishes. You take that stuff for granted. I stank so I never went out. I bought a gallon of water at the corner bodega for my morning coffee, to brush my teeth and for the cats. Who pays for bottled water? It’s ridiculous. The building is united in our collective misery.

I’m dead tired. I’ve not gotten an unbroken night of sleep in a while. The cats wait until I’m asleep and then bat my face to let them under the comforter. They’ll wake up in the middle of the night and crawl out to get a bite to eat. Then they wake me up again to let them back under. They fall right to sleep but I’ll lie there wide awake until morning thinking my terrible thoughts. It’s no use shutting them out of the bedroom because they both sit outside the door and howl all night. Fucking cats. I just love them.

Maureen and I have stopped talking altogether. It’s just as well. I like to think of myself as sympathetic and am sorry she’s having a hard time but I can’t fill her void. The conversations are awful. They’re filled with long, uncomfortable silences. She asks me if I’m seeing anyone just to torture herself. I hope to hear from her again one day (no hurry) but am relieved that she went off to the mountaintop to heal.

Ann recently asked about her and since they are friends, I told her it would be a very, very bad idea to mention anything about us going to Mexico together. Maureen will snap out of it sooner or later. We all go through these things and sometimes it takes a while but it always passes. Don’t I know.

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calder

Alexander Calder
John Graham
wire
Estimate: $800,000-1,200,000
Price Realized: $2,527,500

Yikes! They really undershot the landing strip on that one. I like Calder but $2M+ is a lot, don’t you think?

beeswax, oil and human hair

Anyone interested in what rich folks spent in the fall Impressionist and Contemporary art auctions at Christie’s?

The pickings were slim this season. The theory is that the the U.S. election caused uncertainty among sellers. Nobody wanted to risk cosigning their most valuable pieces in a potentially disastrous economic downturn due to a Trump victory. The stock market has set records since the election so they all guessed wrong. Next spring you’ll see more compelling pieces.

Let’s start with my nemesis. This guy does more to give contemporary art a bad name than anyone else.

Robert Gorber
Untitled
beeswax, wood, oil and, yes, human hair
Est: $2,500,000-3,500,000
Did not sell

gober_butt

In order to be a successful, wealthy artist, you need proper gallery representation. There isn’t a gallery rep on earth who could convince me this has any artistic merit whatsoever.

Jean-Michael Basquiat
Untitled
acrylic and enamel on blanket mounted on tied wood supports with twine
Est: $5,000,000-7,000,000
Sold for $5,847,500

basquiat

Basquiat is another guy I don’t respect. He held the world in the palm of his hand and threw it away on an O.D. Idiot. I find most of his work overly-simplistic and sophomoric, but I like his use of a blanket instead of canvas. I like the textures. His balance of black and red are perfect. He could’ve gone too far in either direction but it works for me.

Are you ready to get creeped out? I walked into a darkened corner of a gallery on Christie’s second floor and was greeted by this beauty:

Isn’t she scrumptious? They’re three white orbs with images projected on each.

Tony Oursler
Woo
fiberglass sculpture, master cassette tapes, 2 DVDs, DVD player and projector
Est: $30,000-40,000
Did not sell

It’s a shame it didn’t sell. I think it’s a creative use of new media. My daughter turned away and couldn’t watch it.

Here’s the big ticket item. God, it was beautiful. It really glowed in person.

Claude Monet
Meule
Estimate on Request (thought to be +/- $45,000,000)
Sold for $81,447,500

monet

Works from Monet’s haystack series rarely come to market. And this is a particularly striking example. They’re as iconic as his water lily series. While typing this section of the post, I kept mistyping “Monet” as “Money.”

Back to the present.

Damien Hirst
Do You Know What I Like About You?
household gloss and butterflies on canvas
Est: $900,000-1,2000,000
Sold for $1,039,500

hirst1

When I first encountered these butterfly paintings I thought it was cruel to kill these beautiful living things for the sake of commerce and art.

hirst2

I still don’t approve but I’ve made peace with it.They’re pretty. He has some pieces with just the wings that are fashioned into cathedral windows that are particularly fetching.

Dan Colen
To be titled
rock and acrylic paint
Est: $7,000-9,000
Sold for $5,000

colen

A rock painted like a green peanut m&m for $5,000. Go ahead. Have your say.

This is a nice Picasso. Its weirdness is easy to decipher.  It’s just different views of the same face. Click on it and look at how thick, bright and juicy his brush strokes are. That’s Picasso’s girlfriend. “Look, honey! I painted a picture of you!” No cuddles that night.

Pablo Picasso
Buste de femme (Dora Maar)
Est: $18,000,000-25,000,000
Sold for $22,647,500

picasso

This guy is a favorite of my brother. I didn’t see the merit in Kandinsky’s work until a big retrospective at the Guggenheim a few years ago. I can’t explain it but you occasionally get these ah-ha moments whereby a body of work suddenly makes sense.

Wassily Kandinsky
Rigide et courbe
oil and sand on canvas
$18,000,000-25,000,000
Sold for $23,319,500

kandinsky1

You read that right. He used SAND. it gave the piece a beautiful depth and texture. I’m thinking he must’ve worked with the canvas resting on the floor. How else could’ve he achieved these fine separations?

kandinsky2

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I was in Disney World over the election. You barely knew anything political was happening. Disney works HARD to keep the outside world outside. They don’t want the happy bubble they’ve cultivated ruptured by reality.

On election day, we inadvertently found ourselves inside the Hall of Presidents. We hadn’t planned on going but we were inside the Magic Kingdom with time to kill and there was no line, so we went in.

One by one, the audio-animatronic ex-Chief Executives spoke of the gravity of the office and their love of our country. With the weight of election day pressing down, I found myself unexpectedly deeply moved by all this (as opposed to bored to sleep, which is what I anticipated). There were representations all the way up to President Obama. Think what you want about Obama, that guy is a hell of a speaker.

Do you realize they’re going to have to make an animatronic Donald Trump? His words and voice are going to pour from it. Can you imagine? I hope that guy surprises everyone. It can happen.