I won’t do it and you can’t make me


December 20, 1993

Kris invited me to her Christmas party. Last time we spoke, which was quite a while ago, she called me a dirty, sexist pig. I told her I’d never sublet my flat to a woman because this street is overwrought with junkies and dealers and is dangerous. She blew her stack. Said she’s lived in worse places and my attitudes towards women were prosaic. I think she called me a Neanderthal. I forget if that was her or someone else. After that I tried to kiss her and that REALLY set her off. Like I said, that was a while ago, so I was surprised to hear from her.

I didn’t know anyone at the party but I had fun. Food + booze. It’s a nice apartment but small. It looks directly into someone’s kitchen. That’s the view. A kitchen.

I was sitting on the floor at one end of the room and I saw a girl watching me. Later, I sat on the sofa and she came over and sat next to me. It was a dim party but it was light enough for me to see her outline. It was a nice outline. Pleasant. Laughed at my banalities. Tight, well-worn jeans, a tight black top and a plaid flannel shirt unbuttoned the just right amount. She smoked constantly and her teeth were kind of brown. She’s a 24-year old philosophy student/bartender from West Virginia. She was joking that she’s old enough to be a grandmother. Ha. Gross. We vibed but I didn’t get her number and I can’t ask Kris for it so I’m stuck.

I was supposed to see Ann. She was due back from Dallas at 9:30. I went to the gym and waited. 9:30. 10:00. 10:30. My phone finally rang at 11:00. I wasn’t interested. The Upper West Side is a long slog at that hour of the night so I told her no, thank you. Plus, I like waking up in my own apartment on a Saturday morning.

I didn’t think it’d be a big deal but she got very agitated. On the way back from Dallas she’d conjured a Friday night reunion and I was ruining it for her. She’d gotten her hair done and her legs waxed but I told her, no, I’m not coming up there. She shot back, “Well, then, I’M coming down THERE!” and I said, “No, you’re not!” She changed tactics and started telling me all the things she would do to me if I went up there but the better it sounded, the firmer my resolve to not go. Then she sounded kind of hurt and I (finally) felt bad but I said nope, nope, nope and held my ground.

I watched a Tonight Show rerun with Howard Stern.


Governor’s Island is a dollop of land just off the southern tip of Manhattan. It was an Army base for decades and then a Coast Guard base.

I lived there for a few years early in my Coast Guard enlistment. It was a spectacular. My luckiest break. Governor’s Island is where I stopped being one person and became another. Cleveland receded into my past and New York came into view.

The U.S. Department of Defense sold it to NYC for $1 and now it’s a public park. $2 and a short ferry ride and you don’t feel like you’re in New York City anymore.

Some of the original Army housing is still standing, albeit in a dilapidated state.


How do you like these apples?

Joseph Kosuth
One and Three Stools, 1965
Mounted photographs and stool
Est: $120,000 – USD 180,000
Sold for $150,000

It’s a picture of a stool, the actual stool itself and the definition of stool. Get it? No? That’ll be $150K, please.

56 thoughts on “I won’t do it and you can’t make me

  1. Women, can’t live with ’em in a junk-infested neighborhood, can’t live with without them on the UWS.

    Governor’s Island…my cousins grew up there (their father, Capt. James Rooney was stationed there for many years)…and have always spoken about it like a paradise. This park project is amazing and I cannot wait to get my butt to the tri-state area so I can run out of time to see it….haha.

    Stools: they forgot one more type of stool that could have summed it up nicely….

    • I was such a little turd when I was a kid. Actually, at that point, I wasn’t that young anymore. I was just a turd. Typical New York narcissism. I was a victim of my environment.

      Wait till you see the landscaping projects. That place is a jewel. I’m glad they turned over to the public. At one point, Trump wanted to build a casino. Can you imagine?

      Well done on the stool comment. 10 points for Gryffindor.

      • can take the man out of the turd, but can’t…… haha… i’ll stop there. 😉

        I’m familiar with what was done on the Island from the design publications, as you can imagine…but its never a replacement for the real thing. Like the High Line, you have to walk it to realize how rich and complex it really is. The City of Raleigh acquired 300 acres from the NC (unfortunately for $50M because the GOP had to justify the sale to the taxpayers in the other 99 counties) on the edge of downtown…a former psychiatric hospital (Dorothea Dix). They’ve brought in fancy-pants Michale Van Valkenburg (Brooklyn Bridge Park, Teardrop Park, etc) to master plan the reuse. There is a mix of existing, aging buildings will be much like G.I….so i bet you will see a slow transformation/restoration of many of those buildings…but i kind of like the folly-like quality of their vacant structures scattered about…

        oh…and I cannot imagine anything, anywhere that Trump wants to do. But holy hell, if he had a real chance at getting control, it would have been one helluva loss….

      • Daughter #2 took her first steps on a Governor’s Island afternoon, as she likes to remind us. I also took my first steps there, decades earlier. That place is in my bones. My old office (which was originally a horse stable!) and dormitory are still standing but the buildings haven’t been repurposed. They’re boarded-up and falling apart.

  2. Hmmm. I have a very nice kitchen stool, and I know how to write a description. And …. my stool is reddish orange! Win-win!

    Love the title of this post. One of my kids once said that to me as a teenager, and my response was “Wanna bet?” She did what she was told to do.

    • You’re going to need a gallery rep if you want to sell that stool. These guys are major bullshit artists and you’ll get nowhere without one.

      I’ll bet my kids will NEVER say that to ME when they’re teens. Right?

  3. Hmm, I could use a new stool, but I think I’ll head to Target instead. Of course, by the time I leave Target, I might have spent that much anyway. Always leave there with more than I came in to get!

  4. Girls Girls Girls! I’ve never seen an Elvis movie but that has to be the perfect title. You should co-opt it for these entries. Elvis Costello did for a greatest-hits collection, so why not you? Because you’re names not Elvis? Piffle!

    • Oh, yeah? Well I’ve SEEN Girls! Girls! Girls! (you omitted two !!) and I don’t think these entries can touch the artistry. I just checked Wikipedia and that movie was nominated for a Golden Globe. Also, featured the big hit ‘Return to Sender.’ No musical interlude here.

      • I wondered about the punctuation. If you sound out those exclamation marks, though, it’s weird. Like you’re trying to calm the girls down. “Girls!”
        There’s a band called “!!!.” Try pronouncing that. “Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome !!!.”

  5. I’m a big proponent of not seeing every piece of earth as real estate to be developed, but it’s always kind of surprised me that there is potential “real estate” left in and around NYC. I mean the fact that there is a Central Park, or a Governor’s Island, is something kind of astounds me whenever I think about it. I read recently that 90% of the redwood forests in California have been logged. That’s the kind of thing the does NOT surprise me, it makes me sad. To see pictures of soccer fields with the Statue of Liberty in the background makes me happy.

    • You’d be shocked at what’s going on just outside my Manhattan office window. There’s a monstrous development called the Hudson Rail Yards. What was once an abandoned rail yard is going to be multiple skyscrapers. In the past they’ve actually added land. The World Trade Center is built on landfill.

      I don’t know if you saw it above but at one point, Herr Trump was thinking about building a casino on Governor’s Island. It would’ve been an enclave for the wealthy. This is a better result.

  6. Comments on comments:

    The definition does include that type of stool: “the act, or an act of evacuating the bowels; the matter evacuated (chiefly in pl.)” I checked because that’s the type of turd I am.

    The band !!! pronounces their name as ‘chk chk chk’

  7. I was once so uninspired for a painting course I painted almost life-size portraits of each of my “garage sale vintage” kitchen chairs. And then hung them in my kitchen to cover the warped walls. Got an A but never made a penny.

  8. So NYC charges you for a trip to the Governor’s Island twice what they paid for the entire island? What a rip off!
    Speaking rip offs, the stool artist could have added some lumber, crews, and wood finish used to make the stool, and sold the whole thing for $200K.

    • It sounds like an outrage but it’s the best $2 bucks you’ll spend in NYC. You can’t GET anything else for $2 bucks! I think even dirty water hot dogs cost more.

      You’re describing a performance at piece. Christie’s would never handle the sale, which defeats the purpose of creating it in the first place.

  9. In the old days, and if you were royalty, you had a keeper of the stool. Like the stuff that passed through it in bygone times, the stool in the installation is not a keeper.

    Great park. Dictator Don wanted to turn it into an enclave for the wealthy? Who was going to pay? Canada or Mexico? Good to see that it didn’t fall into those tiny wrong hands.

    And, you could be difficult when you were part of the salad generation. But, so were many of us.

    • I’ll keep my $150K, thank you. If I had it, that is. I wouldn’t blow it on a stool insulation.

      I’m so cynical that I was shocked, shocked!, to see that island turn into public domain. Win.

      I was so self absorbe. I didn’t take anyone else’s feelings into account. Not a hero.

  10. There aren’t any pictures of your cats. Just a picture of something some poseur was silly enough to spend money on.
    Oh, also an entertaining comment thread! 🙂

  11. What an enjoyable Post. I stand in awe with your people skills, you and looby must exchange ideas. The psyche of women in the USA must be decidedly odd, it’s bad enough most other places, but it seems to be getting weirder, especially since #MeBloodyToo. As your first commentator said, stool had various meanings, so a photo-mosaic of the different stool types could be a big seller. See https://www.healthhype.com/wp-content/uploads/Bristol_Stool_Chart.png

    • Thank you, sir. Glad you liked it. Lobby is in a whole other league. That guy is the grandmaster. I’m only a student in comparison.

      It’s too bad for the psyches of US women that louts like me are around. She just wanted to give me a beautiful gift and look how I acted. I put this stuff out there with the caveat that I was not always such a nice person.

  12. There was a desperate point in my younger life when brown teeth would NOT have been a turnoff for me, all other things being equal. Thankfully somewhere along the way that thinking changed.

    You said no to an offer of good tidings for later that night if you only got your ass uptown to her place. Man, you really wanted to wake up in that apartment of yours the next morning. I never felt I had the luxury of being so principled. Good for you in hindsight.

    • I didn’t care about her teeth it’s the damn smoking that got to me. I’d quit by then and when you don’t smoke, kissing someone who does is rough trade.

      I don’t want to sound noble—because I wasn’t—but part of the reason I didn’t go was because I wasn’t that fond of her. I always ended up regretting sleeping with someone for sport or just because.

  13. You have such an effect on women. You should do online tutorials 😉

    So, Governor’s island changed you. I’d like to know why.

    Wow. You could be in the country there! What a nice retreat.

    I shall have to sit down and have a think about that stool going for 150k. A sit down and a shot of whisky, a slap round the face and read that again just to make sure it wasn’t a joke.

    • I could produce a whole library of tutorials. I can title the series: How to Lose Her. Find what you’re good at and work it.

      Governor’s Island was the first inclination I had that the world was a big, interesting place. That maybe what’s in front of me might prove to be worthwhile and was something not to fear.

      I have so many examples of terrible art. I can’t resist putting it out here to tweak everyone. We all struggle with money and to see someone throw $150K away and a stool/stool photo combo is really frustrating.

  14. Where is Kris today, running NOW? No good deed or intentions go unpunished in a romantic’s world. The ‘chance encounter girl’ at the party sounded hot until you described her smoking. What a bone killer. With all that enticement from Ann, you stood strong. Now, was that worth it?
    I looked at the NY Times articles about Governor’s Island Casino and no mention that it was Trump’s plan. I want to see the place now, it looks great.
    I finally saw “Good Will Hunting” this year on TV. Now I understand about ‘those apples’. 150K for that Stool Art is a bargain compared to some of the other Art you have shown. Keep tweaking on Art.

    • I haven’t a clue where ANY of these people are. It was 25 years ago. New York is such a transitory city. People pass in and out of your life on a regular basis. It wasn’t unusual to just suddenly never hear from someone again.

      It became a battle of wills with Ann. The more she demanded the less I want to go. I never seemed to need it as much as most guys. A blessing and a curse.

      I should post a nice piece of art. I make fun too much. There are some really beautiful pieces out there.

  15. i really need to visit Governor’s Island. My kind of decrepit being reclaimed! i bet there even some of those 70’s vintage battleship gray GSA desks around there somewhere! Those things were indestructible – had one in my first (and second, and third…) office, and in hindsight, those things were bulletproof. We should put them in schools…

    Kris is still hurt by that night. i guarantee it. i’ve been that desperate woman on the phone, and when every ounce of your womanly wiles can’t get a repeat fuckboi to get off of his damn sofa? That’s a killer gut punch…

    • You would love Governors Island. Well, anybody would, but you especially. There are still a lot of government and military stylings. I’d love to give you an Studley a tour.

      Unfortunately (for her) I wasn’t emotionally wrapped-up. If I had been, I’d have been on the next subway uptown. I’ve done that plenty of times. But I’ve always had a hard time manufacturing affection. If it ain’t there, it ain’t there.

  16. The Kosuth is of it’s time, and is about semiotics, I like it, I find it calming. And also, amusing.
    Anyhow, why did Kris call your attitude prosaic? Didn’t she mean antiquated?

    • She thought that my refusal to rent my place to a woman because the neighborhood was crime ridden implied that women were weak. She was very angry. I thought I was being gallant.

      I love art that’s playful but that piece isn’t doing it for me. And I can’t ignore the pricetag. It’s a serious misuse of funds, so day I.

      • But ‘prosaic’ means dull, or unimaginative, whereas you were simply being old fashioned…. I guess being old fashioned could be describes as prosaic though!

        Apologies, I am in a foul mood, but it pains me to see people rabbling together to set upon something that they can’t be bothered to even Google. There is too much of that sort of behaviour in the world today, and I’m not going to join in.

  17. I’m miffed that none of my American family took me to Governor’s Island. Hey ho! Too late now.
    I’m glad you are an old fashioned bloke. My favourite.

    • I wasn’t very old-fashioned if it was someone whom I had a deep desire for. I liked this girl well enough but didn’t want to get involved on that level. It’s always easy to turn down something you don’t want.

  18. I like them apples! I’ve never seen that piece before, or even heard of Kosuth, so I will to have to google to find out more, but I like the whole ‘object three ways’ thing, it feels Nietzschean and I love Nietzsche. That said, I wouldn’t (because I couldn’t, perhaps) pay 150k for it, but I’d be delighted to find it in a gallery.

    • That’s the beauty of art. It’s so subjective. I suppose I could find some intrinsic value in the piece but I can’t get past the price tag. I would have more fun going to a casino in blowing $150,000 of the crap table.

      So sorry to hear about the big fire out there. It got a lot of coverage here.

  19. Oh you chivalrous man, i’ve gotten those calls and somehow never turned them down, of course i have no manners and would tell the poor dears straight away that it meant nothing and that i’d be out the door before they finished their post-coital whiz.. and i always was, a smile, a wink, and the sound of the door shutting, i was a right bastard in my youth, now? who knows what i am now…
    And isn’t there some big fancy music festival on Governor’s Island these days? was listening to some bands on the old satellite radio thing…

    • It wasn’t chivalry at all. I wasn’t buying what she was selling is all. If it had been one or two other girls I was chasing at the time is have gotten on the subway no matter the time.

      I think there are concerts on Governor’s Island but you might be thinking of Randall’s Island. That’s a big music fest venue.

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