About Exile on Pain Street

It's Mrs. Wife (who has requested complete anonymity), two daughters and myself. And a dog. I'd rather it were a cat but the dog won a landslide electoral victory.

A light shines in Brooklyn

I dragged my wife + daughters to Pioneer Works, a warehouse in Brooklyn, for Anthony McCall’s Solid Light Works; four light pieces oriented vertically in a large space and two shining horizontally in smaller spaces. A mist hangs in the air so the beams are visible.

These shapes are not static. They slowly expand and contract, but too slowly, imho. You can barely detect any movement.

Standing in the middle of a horizontally-oriented light cone produces stark, interesting shadows.

These pics aren’t great because iPhones still can’t handle low-light photography. Why don’t I just get a proper camera?

My girls think I’m eccentric. They tolerate these sojourns but are bored by them. No matter. As long as I have something to say about it, they’ll continue to see this stuff.

Light is my favorite medium. My all-time favorite installations are James Turrell at the Guggenheim and Duke Riley’s illuminated pigeons in New York Harbor.

bins

May 25, 1993

The final episode of Cheers was broadcast on Thursday. Apparently, all of America tuned in. Tens of millions of people. But I couldn’t think of anything drearier than sitting in an empty apartment with my broken heart watching TV alone, so Cindy and I walked up to Brownies on Avenue A and 11th to see Pete’s band. I had a few scotch and sodas and felt much better. I forgot to think about Laura for a few hours.

Afterwards, we hung outside and chatted with a big group of people. I made Cindy laugh, which I love. She’s got a beautiful laugh. Pete’s wife wants me to play on their kickball team. Cindy’s obnoxious friend, Ruth, kept trying to talk to me.

I needed to get my head and heart out of Manhattan for a day so I took a train to Philly. The Philadelphia Museum of Art has a Pissarro exhibit. It’s a gathering of his French urban paintings. First time this series has been seen together since his death. $8.50 admission! The Met is free!

I called Karen. [Note: An old girlfriend who lived there. She broke my heart, too. They all did.] She seemed genuinely happy to hear from me and said she could meet me for lunch because, “Someone is working all day.” I told Oswaldo I was meeting her and he couldn’t stop laughing. Then he called me a pussy.

She picked me up at the train station and drove to TGI Friday’s. TGI Friday’s. I think she’s getting a little soft around the middle but I liked it. She lives with a man and the gloss is off. All the usual reasons. Boredom. Financial strain. Diminished affections. When she spoke of her horrors, she would look at me dead center. Hard. Unblinking. She has the bluest eyes I’ve ever seen. It was hypnotizing and a little unsettling.

I told her the good and bad stuff happening to me. She spoke of mainly bad things. A night of drunken sex resulted in an abortion. Not surprisingly, things haven’t been the same since. She seemed deeply hurt so I told her what she needed to hear; that she’s clever, fun to be with and beautiful (two out of three truths). That her boyfriend is punching above his weight class and is lucky to have her. That he doesn’t deserve her and will be sorry when she’s gone. As I said these things, a sorrowful expression drew across her face like a shadow.

We finished eating and walked back to her car. She was dropping me off at the museum. I was glad she wasn’t joining me. She would’ve been bored and try to rush me through the exhibit. Once in her passenger seat, I pulled her towards me and kissed her. She responded. I still can’t believe that someone so pretty is willing to kiss me. After a bit she pushed me away and said she felt guilty kissing one man while living with another. She said she hasn’t been kissed like that in a long while. That makes two of us. Kissing her is interesting. Her mouth is soft and kind of wide.

I rested my hand on her leg as she drove to the museum. She was wearing shorts. Her legs were incredibly smooth, like she had just shaved them. She accidentally ran a red light and laughed about it. She pulled up in front of the museum and we kissed some more. I told her to keep in touch, let me know how things worked out and wished her well. I jumped out of the car, walked up the stone staircase and didn’t look back.

Gracious Manhattan living on taxpayer dollars

If you’re not from a wealthy family but would like to live in a beautiful Manhattan townhouse, one avenue you can explore is to become a U.N. diplomat. The Upper East Side is littered with sensational brownstones owned by foreign nationals as a residence for their attachés and staff. They fly the country’s flag and have brass placards on the façade declaring their country of origin. The property is considered a sovereign nation.

This is the Irish embassy. Don’t let that tatty scaffolding fool you. It’s a lovely building located on Fifth Avenue just a few blocks south of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

This is just ONE of the properties owned by France. They’re all have equal splendor. I like walking by at night so I can look inside the windows at the lighted rooms and steal decorating ideas.

This is my favorite. This is the Polish embassy. Why am I so surprised by its grandness? It’s not as though Poland is some backwards, broke-ass nation. I’m half Polish. Do you suppose I could get a tour?

Some consulates are more modest in scope.

Do you know what diplomatic immunity is? You get to live in a protective bubble where local laws do not apply to you. It’s been a thorn in the city’s side for decades. Misbehaving diplomats and, worse, their spoiled rotten sprog, can claim diplomatic immunity and get away with anything from parking violations to assault and, in one case, murder. They have special diplomat number plates for their cars and can park with impunity wherever they want. Many diplomats allow their status go to their heads and become raging assholes and repeat offenders.

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This is another collaboration between Andy Warhol and Jean-Michel Basquiat. The reason I love these collaborative works so much (aside from my celebrity whoredom) is because their two styles play so well together. Their styles are distinct. You can easily tell who did what. It’s a whimsical pairing.

Andy Warhol & Jean-Michel Basquiat
Paramount Pictures
Est. $1,000,000-15,000,000
Sold for $2,772,500

The fun feature of this piece is a tube of paint that either fell or was thrown onto the upper left corner of the canvas and squeezed so that the paint oozed out. Fantastic. Jackson Pollock liked to drop debris onto his canvas as well.

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Philippe Parreno
My Room is Another Fish Bowl
Est. $250,000-350,000
Sold for $516,500

In this frivolity recently sold at Christie’s, a fan placed in the corner of a room circulates air while helium-filled Mylar fish balloons gently swim by. The number of fish in the installation is contingent upon the size of the room. The security guards had to chase escapees  who swam into other galleries. This is one of two artist’s proofs. You really do get the sensation of walking in an aquarium. But a half mil? Methinks not.

Blue in New York City

bins

May 16, 1993

I was depressed so I went to the Polish Kitchen on Avenue A and 2nd Street and ate a big plate of pierogi with sour cream and fried onions. Peasant food always cheers me up. Afterwards, I sat at a bar on Ludlow St. and read the paper. Judd Nelson pleaded no contest to kicking Kim Evans in the head.

Went home, sat on the fire escape and read a Mamet book. I brought the phone outside but when it rang I didn’t answer it. I was afraid it was Laura and I didn’t want her to know I was sitting at home with nothing to do on such a beautiful night. Turns out it WAS Laura. She left a sweet message. Thank God for my cunning.

There’s a thick, metal bar that stretches from the fire escape to the building that will support my weight so I’m going to start doing chin-ups every morning.

Got a call to do some freelance work at Lehman Brothers but I declined, despite being dead broke. These are awful days. Bonnie has been very good to me, though. I can talk to her about anything. She might be going to the Berkshires for the weekend. I told her she’s not permitted because I need her here. We laughed but I wasn’t kidding.

I saw Laura four days ago but it feels like a month has passed. I told her I was busy every night this week but the truth is I have no plans. I don’t want her to think she’s running unopposed. I hate playing these idiot games but everyone in Manhattan does it. I’d see her tomorrow if it weren’t for fucking Baby Gap.

This has to end. Enough. I’m going to tell her to stop calling. Between the boyfriend in Nebraska and the ever-present danger of an acting gig that’ll require her to make out with some random guy 8x/week in front of an audience, I simply can’t take it anymore. I shouldn’t date actresses but I can’t help it. I love them so much. I’ll go back to Ann and her coconut oil-slathered nights.

Is that how it is? I can’t be with a woman if I care about her too much? I can only sustain a relationship if I don’t mind losing her? What the hell is wrong with me?

Do you want to hear something funny? I’m depressed, broke and my heart is heavy, but I’m not bored. I can’t recall the last time I was bored. I’ll never break up with New York.

~~~~~~~~~~

This Christmas, vinyl was introduced to a new generation. She ASKED for it. I didn’t impose my old man ways on her. She’s got a romantic notion in her head.

It’s a thrill to read liner notes again. But wait until she finds out what a pain in the ass LPs are. Their delicate nature. You can’t skip a bad song. I predict she’ll run back to digital by spring.

~~~~~~~~~~

Would you indulge me and allow an idle brag? Just this once? A journalist in Dubai was interviewed about how art affects her life.

~~~~~~~~~~

Bryant Park deep freeze. Friday, December 29. 2:00 p.m.

Christmas Death Wish

Good God almighty I love Christmas. Always have. And for purely secular reasons. New York City gets all sparkly and bright. It looks like some cheap wino who fell into a puddle of glitter. The city becomes choked with tourists, which I don’t mind one bit. There are many small, cherished rituals I perform every season that I find wholly satisfying. I visit the Bryant Park and Rockefeller Center ice rinks to watch the skaters. I’ve never seen a sad face there. A Christmas Carol is the last book I read every year. I like watching Elf, Love Actually and A Christmas Carol—the versions with Alistair Sim and George C. Scott are best.

I’ve been promoting Christmas to my daughters since year 1. They know the season means a lot to me. Especially Christmas day. My 11-year old said something that’s haunting me. It was the darkest, most beautiful thing she’s ever said. We were in the midst of tree-decorating bliss when she stopped, looked up at me and said, “Dad, I hope you die on Christmas Day. That way, you’ll be happy.”

Do you get that?! When the time comes, she wants me to be happy. And dying on Christmas Day would practically guarantee it. But JESUS! what a thing to say! Right out of a Tim Burton script. What do you do with a kid like that?

I made my seasonal pilgrimage to the Morgan Library. JP Morgan bought the hand-written manuscript for A Christmas Carol. Dickens gifted it to his attorney, who lent him money for the project. I’m not sure how it wound up on these shores, but here it is.

Stave II
The First of the Three Spirits
When Scrooge woke it was so dark…

You can tell the TRUE first edition because Dickens specifically wrote that The Ghost of Christmas Present “…was clothed in one simple green robe.” Unfortunately, the illustrator got the hand-colored plate wrong.

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I have a lot of use-‘em-or-lose-’em sick days so I called in and drove down to Atlantic City. It’s hard to believe the Monday morning crowd at the Tropicana and the Saturday night crowd at the Borgata are the same species.

An old, disheveled local was standing next to me at the craps table. His pants were falling down and I could see he was wearing an adult diaper. It’s made me sad. On the other hand, he won’t miss a hot roll because of a bathroom break. You don’t see stuff like that after dinner at Caesar’s Palace.

This town was fantastic. I have so many fond memories. But now it’s broken-down. They’re down to just four casinos on the Boardwalk. At its peak, there were 12 on the boardwalk alone.  It made me melancholy.

It was freakishly balmy out so I went for a long, meditative walk on the beach. My shoes were the exact same color as the sand. No difference!

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Bergdorf Goodman’s holiday window salute to The New York Philharmonic.

Walking a dog in the evening is never called on account of inclement weather. Another reason why cats are superior. Plus, dogs eat poop. If you gave a cat poop to eat he’d look at you and say, “YOU eat it.”

The ever-tormented successful artist syndrome

“The whole rock and roll life was really heavy and it was soooo much work and it was soooo every day intense. Being in Fleetwood Mac was like being in the Army. You have to be there and you have to be there on time. Even if there’s nothing you have to do, you have to be there.”

It isn’t anything like being in the Army. It’s disrespectful and delusional to imply as much. In the Army, people try to kill you by shooting live rounds at your head.

I was channel surfing and alighted on this interview with birdbrain Stevie Nicks. Listening to people prattle on about the agony of answered prayers makes my teeth grind. It’s my bête noir. I’m sure wealth and fame are no picnic. But you should only discuss its attendant horrors in private amongst your fellow tortured multimillionaire navel-gazers. You had to be on time. Poor you. I have to be on time for my 5:20 bus every morning or it leaves without me.

Stevie Nicks isn’t the only cry baby. Just the latest. Sticking with the military motif, Björk was promoting Dancer in the Dark, a movie she starred in with Catherine Deneuve for which she received much praise and an Oscar nomination. During a press junket, she said filming was:

“…like signing on to war, going to the Vietnam War. I believed I might die. Acting is like jumping from a cliff without a parachute.”

Idiot.

A few years back, singer Nora Jones said this of the meteoric success of her first album:

“On the first record I was everywhere, and it was, like, the worst time in my life.”

Gosh. That sounds awful. I’ll bet you’re happier now that you’re back to irrelevance.

Stand down, thumb-suckers, and let Brad Pitt show you how it’s done:

“It’s so tough being an actor. Sometimes they bring you coffee and sometimes it’s cold. And sometimes you don’t have a chair to sit on.”

Finally, these words from British director Sam Mendes. Rule #25 of his 25 Rules for Directors:

25. Never, ever, ever forget how lucky you are to do something that you love.

~~~~~~~~~~

Perhaps it was the way the light spilled over it or the intoxicating effect of being surrounded by so much great art or the excitement inherent in these auctions, but this canvas glowed and pulsed. Its edges changed. The longer I studied it, the deeper it drew me in. What a shame I’ll never see it again.

Mark Rothko
Saffron
Est. $25,000,000—35,000,000
Sold for $32,375,000

I’m pretty sure you could recreate this in your garage. And it wouldn’t cost you $500K.

Philippe Parreno
My Room is Another Fish Bowl
Mylar and helium
Est. $250,000—350,000
Sold for: $516,500

Fill a couple dozen mylar fish balloons with helium. Place a fan in the corner of a small room. As the air circulates, the fish “swim.” Walking through it gives you the sensation of walking in an aquarium. A few bong hits can’t hurt.

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“You shall not molest or oppress an alien, for you were once aliens yourselves in the land of Egypt. …If he cries out to me, I will hear him; for I am compassionate.”

Exodos 22:21

“The Supreme Court has allowed the third version of the Trump administration’s travel ban to go into effect. For now, most citizens of Iran, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Chad and North Korea will be barred from entering the U.S.”

The New York Times
December 4, 2017

Nice work, Evangelical hypocrites. You knew this would happen but you voted this monster into office anyway.