White guilt

Here’s the Oscar nominations announcement from the New York Times.


I bristled when I read this. It’s clumsy and inelegant. Nevermind all those other nominations. How about those BLACK ACTORS? We’ve officially solved Hollywood’s diversity problem. So easy! Or is “Black Actors” the title of a movie that received six nominations?

It makes them look like bargaining chips in a score that needed to be settled instead of accomplished actors, which is what they are. These issues should be treated in two separate stories; one a congratulatory list of nominations, the other a deeper conversation about diversity in Hollywood. They’re mashed together in a distasteful and unintentionally comic way. Congratulations, black actors. Oh…and you other guys, too.


Currently at the Sperone Westwater gallery on the Bowery are these three astonishing pieces by Emil Lukas. Entering the softly-lit gallery space you are greeted by these gentle gradients.


It’s not until you’re up close that you realize they’re not acrylics or oils or watercolor. They’re made of THREAD.


Thousands of strategically-laced threads stretched over a wooden frame. I wish I could buy this one.



I can’t imagine what a painstaking, laborious, time consuming process this must be.





June 8, 1992

I went for a bike ride over the Brooklyn Bridge and stopped at the World Trade Center to look at the towers. Architectural snobs say bad things about the towers but I love them. They have a grandness and nice, clean lines.

Went to Battery Park, sat on the lawn under a tree, took my shoes and socks off and rubbed the bottoms of my feet in the grass. I started A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving. I watched the tourists board the ferries for the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. Someone off in the distance was playing an accordion. I could smell the salt water. Sometimes I read and sometimes I just looked at the sun through the trees. I am grateful for these empty days.

I went out with Lucy on Saturday night and had a nice time. I had comps to see Dreamtime at The Ed Sullivan Theater. I had a sneaking suspicion we weren’t going to like it and, boy howdy, was I right. It was dreadful. After the show we went to the Applejack Diner on Broadway and 55th and split a big plate of fries. I walked her home from there. We stopped at Tower Records.

Lucy is so beautiful but she won’t have anything to do with me. We got to the corner of 70th and Broadway and I asked if I could walk her to her door. She said no. She was afraid I’d try to kiss her goodnight. It was pretty humiliating. The fact that we put up with each others’ company must mean that we are two terribly lonely individuals.

While waiting for Lucy outside the Ed Sullivan a homeless guy walked up to me and demanded money. I didn’t give him any so he became belligerent. He was yelling at me, “Where would you eat if you were homeless?! Where?!” People walking by pretended not to hear. He got right up to my face and repeated it over and over, expecting an answer, becoming angrier, more agitated and animated when I ignored him. He was waiving his arms around and got so close I could smell his breath. Lucy and I must’ve been hit up for change a dozen times while we walked up Broadway. It’s an epidemic.

54 thoughts on “White guilt

  1. Those pieces by Emil Lukas have the look of hair on skin and suggest fragility…. if I had the dosh I’d buy one, too. Maybe I’ll make do with having a rummage through my needlework box.
    My head is in a mush due to all the politics!

    • Those pieces are fantastic. I think one sold for +/- $40,000. That’s a lot of ‘dosh’ but I’ve seen crap at Christie’s and Sotheby’s auctions sell for many multiples more.

      I want to take a political hiatus. I thought that after the election I could ignore everything political just for a bit to give my head a rest but the noise is unrelenting.

  2. Indeed, Mark. Separate issues to cover for sure. All nominations matter for the main release story.

    That thread art is fantastic, from afar and up close. What planning and execution.

    Have a good day down there, sir.

    • Howdy, Mark. Happy new year! Are all nominations equal? They are to me.

      Here’s the trick…you don’t realize it’s thread until you’re almost right on top of the things. Fantastic. The blend is so gradual that I thought it was some kind of oil.

  3. The 90s references are really nice. I guess the Twin Towers constitute as a 90s reference now, which is weird. But Tower Records, perhaps Owen Meaney (although 80s I think), really prosaic your journal entries then. Do you still journal? I probably asked you that before. Would be funny to see how much your voice has changed from then.

    • Those references always make me melancholy. They sneak up on me. I have those ‘I remember…’ moments. Kids don’t know from Tower Records. I think they did a documentary about that store.

      I don’t journal anymore. There’s not as much to write about. And it’s different now that other people are involved. It seems like an unfair intrusion. Like I’m talking about them behind their backs.

  4. For the fist time I actually like these abstract pieces. Mind boggling.

    About the Oscar nominations- I feel that all the nominees deserve their place in the sun. The artisans all generated exceptional performances. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander or now the shoe is on the other foot. In the past, some nominees did not deserve their awards but then that is how a community of voters works that might be motivated by things other than what is fair. Movies that are so highly touted often are those that are picked. Maybe things are changing now. Talent should get the vote not favoritism.This is merely my uneducated opinion.

  5. I’m always fascinated by textile art – those are amazing!
    As for La-la-land, my son and I loved it, but we’re both Jacques Demy fans. I’m not sure how someone who’s never seen one of his films would like it. Even so, it was a visually beautiful film and the score is great. We’ve yet to see the other films – I’m in total agreement with you over the article!
    About the panhandler – Phoenix panhandlers tend to be polite, but I’m not sure how that works for them business-wise. The first time I encountered a really pushy one was this summer in Portland, Oregon, of all places. Not a pleasant experience and he didn’t get a nickel out of me. My daughter, however, spilled out her change just to get rid of the guy. It made me feel pretty rotten.

    • There was a sign up in the gallery, DO NOT TOUCH, but I couldn’t help myself. I wanted to see how taunt they were. I was gentile.

      I had to Google Jacques Demy. Where would I be without the internet? I wouldn’t know who you were referring to, for one. I’m looking forward to La La Land but am tempering my expectations. This is a classic case of too much HYPE. I don’t want the experienced ruined by disappointment.

      I lived in Phoenix for a bit. Have we had this conversation already? It was a long time ago. I’m sure it’s much changed. I left a broken heart there. If you see it in the gutter on Camelback Rd. can you pick it up for me?

  6. Hear, hear on the “Black Actors” part. What difference does colour of skin make to acting? Or music? It’s ridiculous. You are good at what you do or you are not and colour, race, gender or creed should not be part of that. Winds me up.

    I like the first piece. it’s very soothing.

    There’s a lot of towers going on in that story. Beautiful girls are a nightmare and loosey Lucy sounds like one of them alright.

    • I suppose I could do the string art. There are nails all around perimiter of these frame in the back. The string is looped from nail to nail. Probably not impossible to figure out but, honestly, who has the time? Or the ambition?

      I would LOVE to know where she is right now, which is why I’m not on Facebook. Who needs that noise?

      • Google her! It’s harder to find women, since many change their names on marriage. But it is sometimes possible.

  7. Ok, now what about Hispanic actors? Surely many have put up an Oscar-worthy performance? And what about Asians? Muslims? Homeless actors?
    Maybe it’s time for Oscars to institute nomination diversity quotas, and rotate the victory between the minority categories? Maybe we should just give an Oscar to every actor or actress in any leading role? I just don’t know how else the Academy could satisfy everyone.

  8. Are you going to be impressed if I tell you that Justin Paul, Oscar nominee for songs in La La Land went to my high school and was in my acting group? The fact that it was 30 years later and I never met him should in no way color your enthusiasm.

    I need to see that movie…

    As to the racial aspect, there have been a lot of fine actors who have been omitted over the years, probably more black ones than white ones. There is a problem, but as you said it’s not so much the Oscars as everywhere.

    And I’m going with the crowd lovin’ the string art.

    • Heck, yeah, I’m impressed. You’ve touched greatness. Or…at least…went to high school with it. I kind of hope Lin Manual Miranda wins for best song. That will give him the ultra-rate EGOT, i.e., Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, Tony. Very few achieve it.

      The Oscars are the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the unfairness rained down on minoroties. But this strikes me as so wrong-headed. Scroll back up and read that headline again. Ridiculous. Solves nothing.

  9. I’m off politics, off sports, off silly awards and spent yesterday avoiding any reference to this country’s national holiday.. Colour me a ‘bah-humbug!’ curmudgeon.
    But I did wander around the interwebs and stumbled, somewhere, on a thread piece that had me so entranced.The same artist who did that red thread with the keys, in Venice. Found it! http://www.berlinartlink.com/2016/09/15/chiharu-shiota/ from a couple of years back.But I think I prefer the smaller pieces by Lukas.

    (Our birds have fledged, by the way)

    • Thanks for the link! I love that stuff. Did you see the pieces at the bottom of the article? I wish Berlin were closer. I’d go.

      Congrats to your birds. Dead of winter here. Not a sound to be heard in there morning.

  10. You and your followers are doing a good job keeping politics to a trace in Exile on Pain Street. I have been around since 1950 and never seen so much hate spewed everywhere by people 24/7. Maybe because of the Internet and No Class.
    Lucy didn’t want you to walk her to the door for fear you might want to kiss her. I don’t know where to begin in comprehending that. Not criticizing her. She should be the one who writes the absolute rules for dating and love making so there is no awkward/violent moments.
    Thanks for more Art I never new existed. Although I have seen something like that years ago, but not that intense.
    You got me again, I thought Black Actors was a movie (documentary). The more people try to be diverse, the more they’re a racist/bigot. It works both ways.

    • I do not like to get political. It bores me and nothing good comes from it. I *rarely* write anything overtly political and I guess that doesn’t encourage any discussion. I stay away from family matters, too. It’s not fair to them. Art, theater and my idiot journals is about all you’re going to get here.

      Lucy was a piece of work. If I had had a big pile of money, she’d have kissed me plenty. Yeah, she was like that.

  11. And Mel Gibson also being nominated? Interesting message or maybe I’m overthinking …

    The thread art is amazing.

    I used to live in Phoenix too. I avoided a broken heart on Camelback, but E. Bell was another story…

    • I was shocked they nominated Mel, too! He fell into a pretty deep hole of his own digging but I guess people really like second acts in this country.

      I was in Phoenix for 18 months. That was enough for me. Too damn hot. And Wendy flattened my heart like a pancake. She had a fiance in Salt Lake City. I didn’t know until it was too late. He was a personal trainer and amateur weight lifter. He could’ve crumbled me into a tiny ball and threw me over his shoulder.

  12. Lucy went out with you but she wouldn’t let you walk her home? There’s something very strange about that. Did you even get to kiss her cheek? Don’t tell me you shook hands!

    Wasn’t John Irving one of Tom Wolfe’s “three stooges”? Whose side were you on when all that bitching was going on? I must say I really enjoyed A Man In Full!

    • She let me walk her to the corner of 70th and Broadway. She lived a half a block down on 70th and that’s as far as I got. Not even a handshake. She could’ve breathe bad breath on me and that would’ve been fine but I wasn’t what she wanted.

      I’ll read a Tom Wolfe novel over a John Irving novel every day in the week and twice on Sunday.

    • I asked the gallery rep for a price sheet which is something I rarely do. What’s the point? That piece I liked best was $40,000. I’ve seen pieces at Christie’s and Sotheby auctions sell for a lot more that weren’t half as good.

  13. You always have the most interesting comment thread (no pun intended). And yes, the art is extraordinary. Would like to know more about the process behind it. And I agree completely with Jules about the “Black Actors.”
    I saw La La Land with my mom recently and I loved it. I just bought the soundtrack for her, as a matter of fact, because she loved the music so much. There’s even a scene at the Griffith Observatory! I think you will like the movie. It’s all about pursuing your dreams.

    • No pun intended but it was a good one.

      I don’t have a huge audience. I am dwarfed by some blogs that have thousands and thousands of readers. But I am fortunate to have a small circle of smart, thoughtful people who are kind enough to spend some time here and leave their thoughts.

      I’ll bet it wouldn’t be too difficult to figure out how he put those pieces together. But can you imagine how time-consuming and tedious it must be? That’s where the rubber meets the road.

      I’m looking forward to La La Land this weekend. Trying to keep my expectations low. I don’t want to kill it with overhyped.

  14. I was waiting to hear your answer for where to eat if you’re homeless. This was before the dollar menus at fast food restaurants, so I guess I’d have just said “dumpsters?” Or I would say, “Why don’t you watch some reruns of ‘Topcat.’ That was a debonair homeless cat right there. Always had five star dumpster dining experiences.”

      • Wasn’t Top Cat the man? I just thought he was smooth as silk as a kid. Benny was great. He was the fat blue one, right? I actually think they were living the life every cat desperately wants to live. NO CAT wants to be in someone’s house. They are reluctantly domesticated. They all want to be part of Top Cat’s crew, slaying the ladies and outsmarting Officer Dibble and the rest of the po-po’s.

  15. I have no idea what any of those films are about, it’s amazing how i ignore film, except of course for the nostalgic rush of Star Wars and the new Trainspotting you’ll hardly ever find me in a movie theater, i blame Buk for that… the yarn/thread art is fucking brilliant though, like you i’d have had a clandestine touch, once did that to a 1000 year old Buddha’s belly at the Cleveland Museum… and i always get a good chuckle out of your rotten luck with women, i guess i’m lucky that i never had that problem, women seemed to like me lol, even when i was a total bastard they found a reason to take me to bed, left my friends scratching their heads but who was i to question a woman’s judgement?

    • The new Trainspotting opened in London last week to good-to-mixed reviews. I don’t think it’ll lap these shores until March. So strange they were able to get all the original folks back.

      I can’t say I blame them much. I had a stink on my that women could smell as I was walking down the hall to their apartment. I talked a good game but once they peeled back that first layer they saw the rot just below the surface. Life is hard enough. Who needs that?

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