About Exile on Pain Street

It's Mrs. Wife (who has requested complete anonymity), two daughters and myself. And two smart cats.

Time Machine

I had a birthday recently. I’m too much of a narcissist to reveal my age but let’s just say if I were a piece of fruit or a loaf of bread I’d be well past my fresh-until date and I’d be in some bin or landfill. It’s a round number and I’m taking it hard. I don’t like it. I’ve been young and now I’m old. Young is so much better.

Here’s 12 years flashing before my eyes. The Warhols are the same and she recreated the daft look on her face but everything else has changed. I seem to stand upright in the older pic. I’ve developed a slump. It’s the weight of years.

~~~~~~~~~~

bins

March 2, 1994

I called Margaret to arrange a time and place to meet. Some dude with a deep voice answered and said, “She’s in shower.” Not in *the* shower. She’s in shower. I assumed it was her overprotective brother. She said he’s in the Russian mob but I’m pretty sure she’s joking. I said, “Okay, have her call me back.” I waited a couple of hours. No call. So I called back. Deep voice answered and handed her the phone.

“Hi, Margaret.”
“Yes? What do you want?” Mind you, SHE asked ME to call HER.
“Ummm…do you still want to get together tomorrow?”
“No.”
“You and your brother are charming.”
“Is that all you wanted?” And hung up.

Cindy and Hedy came over to borrow my table for a dinner party. I was kind of rude to them but they invited me anyway. When I got home that night there was a message from Margaret. “That wasn’t my brother. That was my ex-boyfriend. I didn’t want him overhearing our conversation.” She called the next morning. I listened to her fumfer an apology, didn’t say a word and hung up. She called again tonight. I picked up the phone and heard, “Don’t hang up!” I said, “Who is this?” “Margaret!” I hung up. Oswaldo said I shouldn’t act like that but I don’t want to hear from her again.

Someone tagged the front of our building. People who think graffiti is an art form don’t live with it. They live on quiet, well-lit streets. 95% of graffiti is garbage. It’s vandalism. The small percentage that’s valid gets covered up almost immediately.

I shouldn’t have moved here. There are junkies everywhere. Some homeless bum takes a crap in the vestibule almost every night and Peter has to clean it up in the morning. Last weekend someone spit a gigantic gob of mucus on the elevator wall. It looked like it came from a species other than human.

Jack Nicholson just got an award. He’s on TV blubbering. He’s saying his work is dangerous because he gives his life to it. Jesus Christ, Jack, you make a lot of money to play pretend. Get a grip.

I just heard four or five gunshots. Now, sirens. I hate this dump. It’s turning me into a racist.

[Note: In January of 2018 two apartments on the same floor I lived on were combined, gutted and restored. The buyer paid $2,200,000 plus design and construction costs. Things change.]

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Taken Friday, July 12th, 9:30 p.m. in Hell’s Kitchen. Of course.

Party Man ’94

bins

February 27, 1994

My gay friends are more interesting than my straight friends. They seem exotic and glamourous to me. They’re better dressers and become emotionally overwrought at a moment’s notice, which can be phenomenally entertaining. I have a lesbian friend across the hall, Cindy, and another next door, Hedy. I live in Harvey Fierstein’s version of Three’s Company. They invited me to a dinner party. They needed to borrow my table and chairs but I’d like to think they would’ve invited me nonetheless. It was me, Pete, five lesbians and one cute straight girl. Pete is a talented guitarist with a big afro who plays gigs with Cindy. They call him Linc, after the black cop from The Mod Squad, but not to his face. They were making fun of Pete and me, calling us breeders.

Most of them were vegetarians (of course). I thought the food would be bland but it was surprisingly satisfying. I had a few glasses of wine and got carried away, but just the right amount. I like when Pete laughs. It’s a hearty, full-throated laugh. They sat cute straight girl next to me. She dropped hints that she’s not seeing anyone and would occasionally rest her hand on my arm when making a point. I liked her but I’m reluctant. She’s Hedy’s close friend. What if we wind up in bed and I can’t deliver the goods or I freak out and perform my disappearing act (as usual)? Girls talk. I can picture all those lesbians exchanging knowing nods.

A few nights later Ellis had Clarance and me over for dinner. Again, I was the token straight in the room. Ellis is a terrific cook. The recipe called for mayonnaise and he didn’t have any so he made some. I didn’t know you could do that. I thought you had to buy at the supermarket.

Clarance was renting an apartment in the brownstone he owns to a woman who up and left for Tampa on short notice and still owing him money. Not long after, she called and asked him to be a reference for a mortgage application to buy a house. He said, “I fixed her. I told her ‘Of course you can use my name.’” When the bank called he told them she was chronically late with payment and still owes for back rent. Afterwards, she called and said, “Clarance, I thought we were friends!” He said, “We are, dear, but you still owe me money.”

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Loony Marina Abramovic. I liked her a lot more before she wrote an autobiography. She grew up in a wealthy family right after the war. While folks around her were starving she enjoyed maids, theater and a grand lifestyle. Yet, in her autobio, she complaines of “…the tyranny of support.” After success she whined about “…changing planes so often, museum and gallery openings, endless receptions…” Boo-hoo.

Marina Abramovic
Rhythm 0
Est: $10,000-30,000
Sold for $365,000! Wow!

“There are 72 objects on the table that one can use on me as desired. I am the object. During this time I take full responsibility.” Duration: 6 hours. 1974. Naples.

Items on the table: gun, bullet, blue paint, comb, bell whip, lipstick, pocket knife, fork, perfume, spoon, cotton, flowers, matches rose, candle, water, scarf, mirror, drinking glass, polaroid camera, feather, chains, nails, needle, safety pin, hair pin, brush, bandage, red paint, white paint, scissors, pen, book, hat, handkerchief, sheet of white paper, kitchen knife, hammer, saw, piece of wood, ax, stick, bone of lamb newspaper, bread, wine, honey, salt, sugar, soap, cake metal pipe, scalpel, metal spear, bell, dish, flute, band aid, alcohol, medal, coat, shoes chair, leather strings, yarn wire, sulphur, grapes, olive oil, rosemary branch, apple.

One ringy dingy

bins

February 1, 1994

I’m destitute. I’m so broke and in desperate need of money I took a temp secretarial gig at Lehman Brothers. Answering seven phone lines isn’t doing much for my self-esteem. Is this all I’m capable of? I got home Friday and wept over feeling so hopeless and unemployable. Laura used to say I was either the most confident person she’d ever met or the greatest actor. It’s the latter. I miss her terribly.

Ann came over the next day and I was still a mess. We laid in bed and after pouring my misery out we went at each other like two Tasmanian devils in heat. She is equally adept at taking charge and being submissive. It’s a talent. I felt a little better after that. She’s leaving for Cambodia in three weeks to go ancient artifact looting—I mean shopping—to stock the gallery. I wish she would take me with her. I asked but she said it’s a business trip, otherwise, etc.

When she left she pressed a $100 bill into my hand and said I didn’t have to pay it back. I feigned like I couldn’t possibly accept it but of course I did. After she left I went across the hall to Cindy’s. Her house slippers look like oven mitts. We went to Two Boots for pizza and I paid with the money Ann gave me. $20 including tip. I spent $20 at the smelly Key Foods on Avenue A and paid my phone bill ($40). That leaves $20. Cindy is playing out on Wednesday night at the Knitting Factory and said I should bring Ann.

There was a notice in the lobby from a Law & Order location scout. They’re looking for apartments to shoot in. I took the notice down so no one else would see it and called right away. They pay $500.

I sat through orientation at Ernst & Young to be on their on-call list. It was dreadful. They covered the glorious history of Ernst & Young. Apparently, there’s a misconception in the public’s mind as to how the company’s name is pronounced, so they went around the room and made each of us say the name out loud. Humiliating. The Citibank orientation was more humane. They said I should get a beeper.

I sat in my window last night and watched firemen put out a tremendous fire across the street. There was so much smoke. I’m afraid of apartment fires. You never know what your knucklehead neighbors are up to.

~~~~~~~~~~

Oliver and Alice are alive and well albeit bored, bored, bored.

What Instagram has taught me so far

I’ve been on Instagram for about nine weeks and here are a few things I’ve learned:

  1. Everyone is having a better life than I am.
  2. No, they’re not. It just seems that way. It’s the place where people put on their best face.
  3. Real photographers use a proper camera. They don’t muck about with a mobile phone. Technologically speaking, mobile phones can’t touch a real camera. Yet.
  4. The trend in photography is to saturate photos with so much color and gleam they look like ads for LSD. Why does that feel like an appropriate reflection of our times?
  5. People are too lazy to write a pithy word or two in comment sections. Emojis are the last refuge for the verse-challenged.
  6. Instagram has revealed that I might have a latent addictive personality disorder. I check it far too often. I’m hoping the newness wears off soon.
  7. I’m disappointed over my desire for more followers. It’s not dissimilar to when I first started blogging. I got over it here. I’m sure I’ll move on there as well

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My bride and I went out Saturday night to see comedians John Mulaney and Pete Davidson. I enjoyed Mulaney but found Davidson vulgar and unfunny. In all fairness, we are not Davidson’s target audience. The same people who find him funny are the same folks who’d attend Coachella, which is something I’d never do.

They announced that cell phones would be locked in a Yonder pouch so the show couldn’t be recorded. The pouches are unlocked on your way out. We didn’t want to deal with all that so we left our phones at home. We sat at the dinner table and tried to remember the last time we left the house for a night out (or ANYWHERE) without our phones and we couldn’t. Initially, I was concerned that not having my phone might give me an anxiety attack but do you know what? Dinner + show – phone = emancipation. We didn’t miss it one bit. An uninterrupted dinner was a genuine pleasure.

~~~~~~~~~~

After all these years, having kids finally pays off. I waited a long time for this day to come.

Oliver and Alice say hello. They want you to know they’re fine. Send treats.

Hop hop hop

I took my 12-year old on a Chelsea gallery hop. The 17-year old is out of the game. She has a Saturday gig and a boyfriend now. There’s no room for gallery hops with Dad. Eventually, I’ll lose 12-year old too and be back to wandering around these galleries alone. I’m not hurt or insulted. It’s the nature of how things work.

I think she was a bit bored. I occasionally caught her standing in a corner staring at her phone instead of the art. I think she enjoyed the time spent with Dear Aul Da but I’m not sure how she feels about art. I either opened a world for them or turned them off to art permanently. It could go either way. But you have to make the introduction. What happens after that is out of my control.

This is Anthony McCall’s fetching light installation Split Second at the Sean Kelly Gallery.

I’m like a parrot. I like shiny objects and light is my favorite medium. Light + mist is even better.

A young child ran into the light and I couldn’t resist a pic.

James Turrell is the grandmaster for me but this is a very fine example of McCall’s ‘solid light’ works.

This room of shoe oddities tucked in the back of the Marlborough Gallery is Towards An End to Biological Perception by Genesis P-Orridge. Animal lovers beware.

My daughter didn’t spend any time looking at these. She found them disturbing, spun around on her heels and walked straight out, which I understand. But *I* liked them.

The larger part of the gallery is filled with Davina Semo’s large scale sculptures in All The World. Along the floor are heavy cubic bales that anchor chains linked to bells cast from bronze.

I didn’t want to get thrown out so I asked permission to ring the bells and they said it was OKAY. So you can imagine what that lead to.

Brightly colored reflective acrylic sheets studded with ball bearings hang on the walls throughout.

I was reading a review in ARTnews, which is something I rarely do. ARTnews sucks all the joy out of art. The reviewer said of the piece in question:

For an oeuvre that is so self-consciously synthetic, the overall experience offers a surprisingly potent meditation on attention, lifespans and mortality itself.

What does that even MEAN? I have a very base, visceral reaction to art. I look at it. Does it make me have a proper laugh (in the good or bad way)? Is it beautiful to behold? These are my criteria. It’s why I hate political art.