Hideous Subway Monster


February 6, 1992

Poor Klinger called last night. He has some sort of rash or pox on his face. He said it’s so bad that he can’t go out in public. Since he’s a broke-assed actor, he has to use the free clinic. When he rode the subway to the clinic, nobody sat near him even though the car was pretty crowded. On his second trip to the clinic, it had gotten so bad that he wrapped his head in a scarf and wore sunglasses. He should’ve taken some pictures.

He’s not in any physical pain but I guess looking like a hideous monster is its own form of pain. I was going to visit and bring him chicken soup from the deli and a paper bag with eyeholes but decided he wouldn’t see the humor in it. Now, all of a sudden, he’s concerned with the healthcare issue in America. If you heard him describe the way he looks you’d laugh. I hope there’s no scarring.

I saw Maureen on Saturday. She spent the day saying terrible things about herself. She told me she has recurring dreams where someone dumps a vase of water over her head in front of a group of people and some other variations on public humiliation. Who can love someone who thinks so little of herself?

At the end of the evening she tried to kiss me. Yet another in an unending series of uncomfortable partings. She’s tried to kiss me on more than one occasion. I don’t return her affection so she’ll wait a couple of weeks and try again. Does she think I’ll suddenly have a change of heart? When I go to kiss someone and am rejected, I rarely return for a second round of punishment. Perhaps she’s too young and hasn’t learned that very useful lesson yet. Sometimes, friendship is all there is, and all there’s ever going to be.

Last night, I was lying in bed half reading The Andy Warhol Diaries and half waiting for the phone to ring. I’d left messages for Ann and Candace and I was waiting to hear from Christina, who should be back from Vermont by now. My phone never rang. Before I went to sleep I picked up the receiver to see if it still had a dial tone. It did.

I was thinking about how married people never have to go through this. They don’t spend time waiting for the phone to ring. I think it’s one of those lifestyle trade-offs once you get married. (No rush.) I won’t have to stare at the phone, which might be kind of nice. On the other hand, I won’t be able to dance around the apartment in my underwear to Janet Jackson’s Rhythm Nation, play with myself while watching TV or stick my finger in the peanut butter jar. But I won’t have to lie in bed and wait for the phone to ring.

Speaking of marriage…Poor DeeDee. She’s going through a terrible divorce. She’s so nice. I feel awful for her. I’d rather stare at a phone that doesn’t ring than go through what she’s going through. Don’t trust Brazilian men! She joined us for dinner on Friday night. When divorce is in the room, the air changes. It can lead to long, uncomfortable silences.

As I predicted, we ate at an overpriced, overhyped restaurant and although I wouldn’t want to make a habit of it, I had a nice time. I had the duck in orange sauce with wild rice. Scrumptious. If I’d been home I’d have grabbed that bad boy with my bare hands, ripped it apart and shoved it in my stupid face. Orange sauce dripping off my chin and wild rice stuck to my cheeks. Since I was in a tablecloth joint, I used a fork and knife. A butter knife. Very ineffectual. When the waiter came to remove my plate I looked down and saw meat still on the bones. I almost wept. Everyone else ordered fish and didn’t seem to struggle with feeding themselves. I think they enjoyed watching me wrestle my fatty, delicious duck. Dinner + a show for them.

We killed a couple bottles of wine. It’s nice sitting at table in a fancy Manhattan restaurant with five people I’m comfortable with. I didn’t have to worry about putting on airs. They know I’m from nowhere, and going nowhere. And they don’t judge me for it. What a relief! DeeDee didn’t have any fun. She didn’t necessarily have a bad time, but you can tell she’s been drained of her usual effervescence. Her hair is long now. She’s pretty. Julie accidentally asked how the renovations on the house were going. Everyone knows that’s the third rail.

Art Auction Addendum

Two more from the May Contemporary Art auction at Christie’s

Just look at her. Sexy. Dangerous. The kind of woman who’d eat me for breakfast and use my sadness to pick her teeth. I’d hang her in a back room and wouldn’t share her with ANYBODY. Not even you.

Richard Prince
Runaway Nurse
Estimate: $7,000,000 – $10,000,000
Sold for: $9,685,000


On the other hand…

Robert Gober
Estimate: $2,000,000 – $3,000,000
Sold for: $1,445,000


I want to meet the man (because you KNOW a man bought this) who paid $1.4M for a urinal that DOESN’T FLUSH.

90 thoughts on “Hideous Subway Monster

  1. I want to meet the man who conceived that he could SELL a urinal for $1.4 million. Ha! Amazing. Maybe we could sell accessories Mark – perhaps a $100,000 urinal cake,. or a $75,000 air freshener or,oh,oh,oh, what every urinal needs : a $263,817.53 toilet brush. We may be seen as the hangers’ on or the opportunists of the art world Mark, but just think of it: there is only ever one brilliant art piece but each art piece can have dozens, if not more, accessories. We would be the go-to experts sought out by the rich world-wide for our imaginative, elegant and effulgent offerings required to complete their newly purchased masterpieces. What do you think?

    Excellent writing as usual from the Diary dept – funny you should mention duck. When I went to B-school, they gave us a full day course on deportment and manners, especially when at a business dinner with other cultures. So they chose to use a full meal Peking Duck served as it would be in China as an example. They brought in a chef and a specialist in manners (yep, such things exist) and after instruction we were served and then marked on our ability to get as much meat off the duck as possible without touching it with fingers. Ha! I can understand your consternation at leaving so much duck behind. It cost me dearly in points.

    • The grease in these preposterous sales is the gallery rep. If an artist gets the proper representation, they can get away with pretty much anything. P.T. Barnum was right and, as is evidenced here, wealth is a poor barometer for good taste.

      A couple of summers ago my mother-in-law held ‘manners camp’ for my kids and niece and nephew. Seemed kind of silly at the moment but now I’m glad she did it. How else are you going to find out about that stuff? Not from me!

      That duck was heavenly. I almost asked for a doggy bag but everyone at the table knew I didn’t own a dog, so I abandoned the idea.

  2. After the first part of the post describing various face coverings hiding a rash, I have to look at the nurse’s surgical mask in a different way…
    If somebody can afford to pay $1.4 million for a urinal that doesn’t flush, they can easily afford to hire a butler to clean the urinal after each use.

  3. I’m having a hard time getting over the fact that “I” could make a non-functioning urinal and no one would pay a dime for it. Well, except for my husband. He’d be forced to help. And pay for materials.

  4. I wouldn’t give a plugged nickle for a useless urinal, but I tell you t here have been times when I would have paid 1.4 mil for a real working toilet. Does that give you a perspective into my life or what?

      • You do a great job of mixing the sublime with the ridiculous! Although I wouldn’t call the nurse sublime, either. She’s OK as hot nurses go, but …

  5. “eat me for breakfast and use my sadness to pick her teeth” — ah, how I love that description. It speaks of a haughtiness I can never hope to attain, but can still admire.

  6. Any follow-up on Klinger’s face, was he scarred for life?

    I have never been a fan of bathroom humor and I must say I feel equally unimpressed with bathroom art. I would fine that artist $1.4 million for lack of imagination.

    “Daphne’s Dive” didn’t blow me away. I thought the writing was lacking and I found much of it trite, but Daphne Rubin Vega was great and I loved the set. We lucked into excellent seats for our 25 clams. I ushered “Hadestown” at NYTW over the weekend. I haven’t read Isherwood’s review, but I can see he gave it a Critic’s Pick. What rocked my world about it was not the eye candy kitten-cute youngsters; I was over the moon over the show’s “oldsters” – Patrick Page’s Hades and the oh-so-sensual Amber Gray as Persephone. I also thought Chris Sullivan as Hermes was spot-on. Before the show began, the House Manager, who knows I’m a theater whore confided, “You’re going to love this one.” Then, she gave me a second row dead center seat. Bliss! Tonight we’re seeing Stew’s “The Total Bent” and on Thursday, “Long Day’s Journey Into Night.” Yeah, I know, I have such a tough life.

    • Klinger was NOT scarred for life although I don’t recall how it was resolved. Perhaps it’ll turn up in my journal in five or 10 pages. Will keep everyone posted.

      In a previous auction post Gober sold a drain installed into a wall for a significant amount of money. He’s inspired by Home Depot. What a phony.

      Some of the dialogue in ‘Daphne’s Dive’ was very lame, indeed. I’ve never been a huge Daphne Rubin Vega fan but I liked her better in this than anything else I’ve seen her in. I was sitting in the front row and what the Signature forgot to tell everyone was that the front row is OBSTRUCTED VIEW seats. I wrote them a note about it and they wrote back thanking me for my feedback. It was a nice exchange. I didn’t yell at them. I’m seeing Signature Plays Thursday. They got good reviews. Did I mention I saw ‘Cal in Camo’ at the Rattlestick and Brantley sat in front of us? It’s kind of like seeing a B-list celebrity. He ultimately gave it a good review but I didn’t think it was all that. NYTW is such a great venue. So intimate. I only WISH I could see Daniel Craig do Othello next season but I can’t imagine what tickets will cost. People throw rocks at me when I say this but I will take a pass on Long Day’s Journey because I think Jessica Lange is an overrated actor. A hack!

  7. Poor Maureen, my heart bleeds for her! I hope she found love later. It’s just as well you weren’t tempted to take advantage.

    You like the runaway nurse? I would have guessed her boobs were too big for you!

    • Do you know what’s funny? I just recently, within the last year, heard what became of her. She’s married with two daughters. I think everything turned out okay for her. I hope it did.

      I like the runaway nurst. Her boobs are just fine, thank you for asking.

  8. I just stopped by to see if you’d written and here this is! I feel like I’ve won the lottery when that happens.

    I think Maureen was just assuming you’d eventually get horny enough to kiss back. Men have been known to have sex with women they’re not attracted to.

    I got confused with the restaurant episode – I don’t know the back story. Was DeeDee’s husband there, even though they were getting divorced? And who picked up the tab at these places – DeeDee?

    I need to follow your old journals better.
    Can you publish them as a book? I would buy that book.

    I still prefer waiting for the phone to ring over marriage. Some people are just not cut out for relationships, and I’m one of them.

    • Well, aren’t you nice for stopping by! I’ll send you one dollar so you get that ‘I won money’ feeling.

      I certainly could have worked my evil magic on Maureen but I was sure I’d end up hating myself.

      Her husband was out of the scene by then. At the restaurant was two married couples, DeeDee and me. We all worked in the same office.

      I think I’m going to try that book thing. I’ll keep you posted.

      I got married fairly late in life and it’s a good thing I did. If I had gotten married in my 20s it would’ve crashed and burned. I’d gotten all that out of my system. Now, I’m in a nice groove. But, one man or woman’s groove is another man or woman’s rut.

      • She was such a mess and I really felt nothing at all for her. It would’ve been unconscionable to sleep with her. I’ve never felt I had particularly high morals so maybe it was low testosterone.

  9. A long time ago i wrote a post about not de-flowering a young virgin who was begging me to, because i knew the psychic damage it would have caused, there have been more than a few occasions where i’ve turned down sex even to my own astonishment, it may not be the norm but it’s not unheard of, while we males have been known to fuck everything that moves and some things that don’t sometimes it’s just not right and sometimes we acknowledge that… of course i find it fascinating about this dinner thing, i never did anything quite so adult back then, unless of course dinner was a bag of shrooms and a 40oz. bottle of malt liquor… the journals are always a trip.

    • I’ve had these moments of clarity that prevented me from doing something stupid and regrettable. They don’t come along very often but I do have them occasionally. The big surprise is that I act on them.

      Thanks for you kind words. As I’ve said, the big reveal in these journals is that back then, I thought nothing was happening to me. That my life was dull. Huh.

  10. Did you have girls from A- ZEE ? <~~~~~ see what I did there? Just for you.

    By the way, I'm intrigued. Now that you're married do you do any of the following: dance around the apartment in my underwear to Janet Jackson’s Rhythm Nation, play with myself while watching TV or stick my finger in the peanut butter jar. ??

  11. The rich guy that paid $1.4 mil for a damn urinal that hangs on a wall has too much money. Folks that are insanely wealthy run out of things to buy and things to amuse them themselves. Poor bastard, he doesn’t have a clue about life. I keep thinking about all the scholarships he could have set up at a university for poor deserving kids.

    • What? Give that money to poor people? Are you crazy? They’d just waste it on stupid stuff like housing and food and education.

      Seriously. Who are we to tell a man how to spend his (presumably) hard-earned millions? But this seems to be the height of foolishness.

      • Well I’m not telling a rich person how to spend their hard earned money (if that were the case). I, in my own delusional mind feel one would achieve a degree of satisfaction if the money were spent on things that make a difference in other people’s lives. But hey, I’m sure the fellow is getting grand satisfaction out of seeing a non functional urinal hanging on his wall. After all not every one can spit out $1.4 mil on a pee pot and have it become a wonderful conversation piece. 🙂

    • Right. It’s just a dumb urinal. Maybe interesting for ladies who’ve never been in a men’s restroom but certainly a waste of $1.4M.

      I remember Klinger’s face clearing up but I don’t recall the details. I’ll keep reading my journals. Maybe there’s a mention in a week or two.

  12. I bet that urinal is sitting in his garage. Oh, wait. You don’t have those in NYC, do you?
    I hear you’re considering the book idea. A ha!! You should do this, Mark. You have such a great voice, wonderful stories so different from the rest of our blah existences. Plus, it’s such a unique time of New York life and it’s all changed. Do it!

    • That’s very funny. You’re right. We DON’T have garages in the city. Some of the tonier buildings have parking levels below ground but I can’t imagine he’d store it there. I’ll bet it’s in his living room.

      I may play around with the book idea over the summer. See how it flows. See *if* it flows.

  13. Art schmart. The only way that urinal is worth $1.4 mil is if there’s a sold gold urinal cake in the bottom of it.
    (Had to look up what they call those deals – urinal cake, peon, puck, cookie, biscuit, etc. What an interesting world you gents inhabit.)

    • It’s an interesting world I *GOT* to inhabit. Past tense. That was my youth and you know the story now. The suburbs with an occasional foray into overpriced urinals. They’re installing a working, solid gold toilet in the Guggenheim as an art exhibit and I ain’t kidding. No urinal cake, though.

      Fun aside: you can get urinal cake holders with targets or celebrity or political faces on them. Then you…well…you get the idea.

  14. How on earth has the urinal artist got the nerve to do that, a hundred years after Duchamps? Talk about plagiarism.

    “I don’t return her affection so she’ll wait a couple of weeks and try again. Does she think I’ll suddenly have a change of heart? When I go to kiss someone and am rejected, I rarely return for a second round of punishment.” Oh dear… that sounds like someone I know very well.

    I know it’s an obvious point but one-way attraction is so common and causes such misery.

    I do enjoy these old journal entries. You’ve got a simple, direct style that is great at making you feel that you’re right there, in the room. Although I wish you hadn’t taken your trousers off just before I called round.

    • I don’t think they were being secretive or coy about the Duchamp piece. I think they passed it off as an omage, which I always think is a load of crap. It’s lazy.

      I read those lines in my journal about returning to the same rejection over and over and thought, “That sounds like someone in know.”

      When I wrote these journals, I thought nothing of their value. It was just something to occupy my time. But here in the future, I find them tremendous fun to read. A flood of memories, both good and awful.

  15. Well thanks for ;letting us read them. I love things that are personal and true — which we can all do — but well-written as well, which isn’t something given to everyone.

    • The terrible irony, the ugly truth, is that NONE of those girls would get involved with me the way I would’ve liked them to. They all withheld their favors from me despite my most persuasive charm offensives.

      You’re missing a few zeros on that nurse pic. Not 10K. 10M. Wrong consonant.

  16. Once again I can identify with some of the past you have written. Must be an Ohio thing.
    I would never turn down sex, but sometimes you just can’t find that lustful spark to start. Then I would think how bad it must be for me to say no. Who’s the pathetic one now?
    I always handled rejection with class, it was my last grasp to hold on to some dignity.
    I also have the ANDY WARHOL DIARIES.
    I drove a van all day long on my job singing instead of dancing with Janet Jackson and Madonna back in 1984.
    I was so in love with a nurse for 4 years and then she ‘GHOSTED’ me. I should of saw it coming.
    My best friend had an apartment that was originally designed for occupation by several college boys. It had a urinal in the bathroom.

    • Sometimes I turned down sex. I believe I must have had low testosterone when I was younger. How else to describe these lapses? And if I’m not physically attracted, forget it. I was pretty awful with rejection. I made a fool of myself sometimes but you grow out of that sort of behavior. Hopefully.

      You never see it coming. No one does. Don’t be hard on yourself.

      The difference is your friend’s apartment urinals were fully functional and didn’t cost $10M. Only and idiot would…ahhh, forget it. What’s the use?

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  18. I really like your line, “They know I’m from nowhere, and going nowhere.” I don’t know why, but it really stood out to me. From Nowhere, and Going Nowhere would be a really catchy title for a book if you ever decided to write one!

    • Hello! Thanks for taking the time to read and comment. I’m flattered. For real. From Nowhere Going Nowhere sums up my career in a nutshell. That’d be a cool name for a band, too. How you liked it. Plenty more where that came from.

  19. Pingback: Hideous Subway Monster | Millennium 42

  20. Pingback: On Journaling and Other Foolish Endeavors | Feeding on Folly

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