Smashed urn [Han dynasty]. Smashed heart [mine].

In my last post, all I did was move a rock a few inches. Look what he did.

Contemporary artist and political rabble-rouser Ai Weiwei dropped a Han dynasty urn. The event is memorialized in a sequence of three black and white photos. Last February, at a Sotheby’s auction in London, a set (#3 of 8) was estimated to sell from $200,000-300,000. It sold for $1,091,000.

I saw these in the Pace Gallery. They weren’t photos, though. They were much larger than the original pics.

The pixilation only revealed itself upon close inspection.

These are made from thousands of tiny Lego bricks.

~~~~~~~~~~

bins

April 11, 1993

Margret called. She such a racist pig—always making some crack about gays or blacks—but she’s so stunningly beautiful that I get woozy and forget all about it when she pays attention to me. What a body. She was bitching and moaning about men. It’s been an endless parade of mama’s boys who live at home and can’t stand on their own two feet. She called them spineless. I told her I was going to the Bahamas with Lauren and she said she’d miss me, which I know isn’t true.

She asked me if I’d write and layout her brother’s resume. (I knew she was calling for a reason.) I playfully said I’d only do it if she begged me. That I love it when she begs. She played along and said in a breathy, erotic voice, “Oh, Mark, please do it for me. I need it. PLEASE…” We both had a good laugh. Then she called me a bastard, which was also kind of erotic. We’re going to Chinatown tomorrow night for dinner. I love Chinatown. It’s one of my favorite neighborhoods.

Worked until 8:00 and brought home a grilled kofta from the Afghani kabab joint on Houston. Superb.

[Note: What follows is my first meeting with a girl who knocked the life out of me. It took a long, long time to recover. It’s interesting to read about a precise moment that had such profound and long-lasting implications, but to not have any idea at the time. My present self wants to reach into the past and scream a warning. In the break-up, I got New York and she got Omaha.]

I was outside The Public Theater on Lafayette waiting for Klinger. We had tickets for an Irish Rep production. That guy is habitually late. He does it to take control. So passive/aggressive. I took a seat on a steam pipe and watched the big parade. A pretty girl standing next to me looked down and said, “Would you like a BLT?” I thought she was kidding but she pulled a sandwich out of her bag and handed it to me. I told her to pull up a steam pipe.

She was waiting on her roommate, who was also late. We cursed them. She was easy to chat-up. Younger than me. Tall with a long mane of willowy brown hair. Pretty eyes. Smoked incessantly. She’s an actress so I think I’m doomed. [Note: You have no idea, youngblood.]

Curtain time approached and there was no sign of Klinger or her roommate so I told her she should join me, to which she agreed straight away. I tried to give her the bum rush into the building, hoping that idiot Klinger wouldn’t show up at the last second but, of course, he did because that’s what he does. I could’ve killed him. Later that evening he told me I should’ve waved him off.

I gave her my phone number and she called. Laura. I told Betsy and she said that because of the unusual circumstances surrounding our meeting, she’s THE ONE.

I’m having Candace over for dinner again on Thursday after her therapy session with her girlfriend, which is never boring.

Did I destroy this work of art?

Here’s an exhibit in a Chelsea art gallery. It’s a pile of stones on a table.

If I move one stone closer to another when no one is looking…

…have I altered the aesthetics in any discernable way?

I’m asking a serious question. Some pieces are made to be interacted with but I don’t think this was one of them. Artists are fastidious about their work, understandably so. Did I wreck this piece?

~~~~~~~~~~

bins

April 7, 1993

Last night I was going to stay home and do laundry but Betsy called and treated me to dinner at a French joint on the corner of King St. and 6th Avenue. She was already sitting at the bar when I got there. Our meetings are joyful. We have a nice time together. I ordered a scotch and soda. She had a Campari. The bar munchies were cod balls and octopus. We shared a trout for dinner.

She picked up the tab. $43. It’s an expensive bistro and we drank quite a bit so I don’t understand why the bill was only $43. Betsy’s a regular and knew the bartender so maybe they left the drinks off the check. The bartender said that Betsy and I are a handsome couple and that we should get married. We laughed and said we agree. All the lust I had for her when we first met has mysteriously evaporated, but I’m still quite fond of her.

We ate at the bar, which I love. It’s more communal. She looked past my shoulder and said, “Oh, here comes my old boyfriend.” I turned around and it was Ricky Jay. He introduced himself and I said, “Yes, I know who you are.” I have a book he wrote called Cards as Weapons that teaches you how to throw cards with knife-like accuracy and velocity. In his stage act, he stands at one end of the stage and flings cards into a watermelon that’s on the other end of the stage. It’s an impressive feat. Afterwards, Betsy told me he has a volatile relationship with his mother. One evening, the police were called because he was throwing cards at her.

Betsy said he’s in town because he’s being profiled in the The New Yorker. I was a bit star struck but managed to sound at least marginally intelligent and not say anything stupid. I didn’t want to embarrass Betsy.

We walked to the Film Forum and saw Visions of Light, a documentary on cinematography. Her pick. Her treat. I learn a lot when I spend time with her. She makes me less drab and doesn’t care that I never went to college. Maybe I SHOULD marry her. I asked if she wanted to come over after the movie but she was tired and got a cab home.

And speaking of ex-dancers…I respect all art forms but I don’t understand modern dance. I saw the Feld Ballet at the Joyce on 8th Avenue with Elvin. They’ve got a lot of nerve calling that stuff ballet. Tutus and dancing on point it ain’t. What we got was droning, minimalist music and twisted, contorted limbs. I fell asleep a couple of times. We both had to stifle laughs. Suppressed laughter is the worst.

Beforehand we ordered the prix fixe at the French bistro next to the Joyce. That’s two French dinners in a row and I’m not crazy about French food. I’d have been okay with a plate of beans and weenies. The waitress was ravishing but I could tell she thought Elvin and I were a couple. His mentioning that we had ballet tickets didn’t help matters. We ran out of time and couldn’t order dessert but they let us come back after the show for it. That was nice.

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Daughter at the Guggenheim.

When they’re adults, they’ll either embrace this stuff or never want to walk into an art museum again. For now, I think they’re a bit bored. But if you live this close and don’t expose them, you’re a shitty parent.

Artiste or Old Letch?

A friend was visiting from California and we went for a Chelsea gallery hop. It’s a satisfying way to spend a Saturday afternoon. We stepped into the Mitchell-Innnes & Nash gallery on 26th Street and was blinded by this light.

Monica Bonvicini
Bent and Winded
LED light tubes, wire, steel

I like bright, shiny things and these light tubes had some interesting angles.

A girl walked into the gallery. As she circled the installation I was struck by the contrast of soft human form against cold mechanical edge. I asked permission to take some pics and she said it was okay. She looks like part of the installation.

I loved how these came out. I thought they had genuine artistic merit and shared them with some friends. What I *didn’t* count on was some of the reactions I got. They accused me of being a base old letch.

One guy called me a “perv.” Another one said it was a pro move. What does that even mean? My intentions were honorable and above-board. It’s not like I asked for her name and number or invited her to join us. She really didn’t seem to mind. They spoiled the achievement.

The James Cohan gallery has a nice solo exhibit by Xu Zhen. I like this concept. Zhen is angry but I’m not sure who at or what he’s mad about. This is the only thing on a wall and it’s pretty stark. The shadows help.

Focus
Camera, aboriginal spear

Where did he get an aboriginal spear? You don’t just pick these things up in a flea market or pawn shop, do you? Can anyone from down under chime in here?

Also by Zhen is this thick, juicy piece. It’s a nice riot of color and texture but you can’t tell its construction until you’re up close.

Under Heaven
Oil on canvas, aluminum

This is a bouillabaisse of thick, juicy swirls and colors. The artist as a confectioner.

I wonder how many tubes of paint he used? It’s a fairly large piece.

The PACE Gallery is the Big Swinging Membrane in the neighborhood. These all-new works are by Julian Schnabel and is a return to form. From a safe distance it has the calm quality of an Impressionist canvas. They’re inspired by the roses growing in the cemetery near Van Gogh’s grave in Auvers-sur-Oise, France,

Up close, the truth is revealed.

Rose Painting (Near Van Gogh’s Grave) III
Oil, plates and Bondo on wood

The nine pieces are constructed using broken plates, china, cups, saucers, etc. They’re affixed to wood with bondo and painted over. They’re about $1 million each and all but one has sold.

Schnable made a series of ‘broken plate’ pieces early in his career. I think I remember reading that not long after they sold (for a lot of dough) the plates started falling off. Art is supposed to last generations and those pieces didn’t even make it past a hyper-modern fad.

This is in the Whitney’s Fast Forward: Painting Through the 1980s exhibit. The image is from the cover of a mass market spy paperback and I love it.

Walter Robinson
Baron Sinister, 1986
Oil on a printed bedsheet

While enjoying this Bond-esque image, who should walk in front of me but a Whitney security guard. Or is that, in fact, Baron Sinister himself?

Choose your next witticism carefully, Mr. Bond.

Despair: Mine and Roy Lichtenstein’s

bins

December 20, 1991

I went to the Empire Diner on 10th and 22nd with Lucy for a holiday turkey dinner. Golly, she sure is pretty. We picked up her friend, Lynn, along the way who’s even prettier than Lucy. I was the meat in a hot, wealthy girl sandwich. Lynn is a self-described spoiled rich girl. Her parents have been divorced for a long time. Her father is an executive who confuses love with money. She knowingly manipulates him. She said all she has to do is turn on the tears and he’ll throw $500 at her.

Despite this, I found her charming and engaging with more self-awareness than most New Yorkers I meet. She’d never get involved with someone who wasn’t wealthy but I still thought she had a certain lack of pretense. She has a boyfriend in London but chases boys here in New York. Why not? She’s only 23, looks like, and is worth, a million bucks. Why settle down?

She asked me—a total stranger—what she could do to improve herself. I said read a book and she gave me a puzzled look. I didn’t understand until later but she was referring to cosmetic surgery. I think she was fishing for compliments or looking for me to validate the fact that her body and face are perfect and can’t be improved upon. They are and they can’t be.

She knew I was smitten and was toying with me. After dinner, while walking down 23rd street, she took my arm, told me her birthday was next week and playfully asked what I was going to buy for her. I asked what she wanted and she said, “Something expensive. Something from Chanel.” She’s like a living, breathing cliché. She’s a perfect physical specimen.

I got a surprise Christmas card in the mail this morning. The last time I heard from Sheila was back in October at the George Michael concert. We saw his “Cover to Cover” show at the Garden. He sang Fame better than Bowie. I liked Papa Was a Rolling Stone, too.

After the concert she turned to me, looked me dead in the eye and said, “What do you want?” Asked it twice and made it sound like an accusation. I sat there in stupid silence and felt foolish. There’s no answer because I don’t think she has anything to offer. I didn’t call her after that. I hate confrontation and will do pretty much anything to avoid it. Her Christmas card said to keep in touch. It was kind of upsetting, to tell you the truth.

Klinger and I saw Denis Leary’s “No Cure for Cancer” at the Actor’s Playhouse. I had comps. He and I are a couple of sad sacks. We have no idea what to do with our lives. He has a little more direction than I do, but not much more. I asked how his investor’s party went and he said it amounted to a cast party with some bums that wandered in off the street, but no investors. He didn’t ask me for money, thank God. I told him I had to work and couldn’t attend out of fear he’d ask me to a contribution. I let it slip that I went out that night and had to scramble to come up with a plausible lie to cover my tracks. It was a cold, rainy evening. Blue Christmas.

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Roy Lichtenstein
Despair
Est: $1,500,000-2,500,000
Sold for: $1,927,500

despair_lichtenstein

I didn’t see the arm and hand until quite some time after I stared at this. It wasn’t so obvious in person.

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chrysler2

 

Inner Torment

The Inner Torment of Vice President Mike Pence

Look what I stumbled across:

Thus says the LORD:
Share your bread with the hungry,
shelter the oppressed and the homeless;
clothe the naked when you see them,
and do not turn your back on your own.
If you bestow your bread on the hungry
and satisfy the afflicted;
then light shall rise for you in the darkness,
and the gloom shall become for you like midday.

Isaiah 58:7-10

How about that, Pence? You good Christian soldier? You devotee of scriptures? You sinner but only say the word and your soul shall be healed?

Is that guy able to sleep at night? Or does he stare at the ceiling wondering how he got himself into such a mess?

My Inner Torment

One of my favorite Sunday afternoon traditions is reading the obituaries and wedding announcements in the New York Times. They offer a litany of extraordinary lives lived and the joining of couples with unsurpassed professional credentials. These achievements always make me feel subhuman which is, apparently, my comfort zone.

Although…the Vows folks usually have long pedigrees. Most of them were born on third base and only breed amongst themselves. So there’s that to consider. But I try not to let that spoil my self-pity festivál.

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New this month on your newsstand:

mags

This is a serious lack of originality. These are major publications. Don’t they collaborate? Couldn’t one claim the thumb/phallic motif one month and the others follow suit the following months? Fail.

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I took these with my iPhone 7 using the depth effect.

ww

It gently blurs the background, which makes the foregrounds pop.

harley

I took these at Kinokuniya Books on 6th Avenue @ 41st Street, across from Battery Park. It’s a brick-n-mortar bookstore (one of few left in NYC) that specializes in Japanese anime and cultural touchstones. These statuettes are in a glass case. They’re true works of art and not inexpensive. Many of them are based on characters from anime books and movies. The girls are highly sexualized bordering on pornographic. Lots of schoolgirl stuff. Japanese porn is odd. But not as odd as German porn.

~~~~~~~~~~

Mr. Sensitivity strikes again. I read these journal entries and can’t believe what a clown I was.

May 8, 1992

I called Kathie in Phoenix to wish her a happy Mother’s Day. She was upset because Brad got into an auto accident. I guess he’s not seriously hurt—there are no broken bones or damaged organs—but his face got pretty cut up. Kathie said there are “hundreds” of stitches and they’re thinking of plastic surgery. Gross.

Brad has incredibly low self-esteem, despite being a successful attorney. That guy works for one of the most powerful law firms in Phoenix but he’s crushed by a massive inferiority complex. How can you have it both ways? Now that his face is all bashed to shit, he’s REALLY going to have some problems. He’s never said or done anything bad to me. I wish him a speedy recovery.

Cars are pure evil. Half the reason I stay in this cruddy city is because I don’t have to own one. This was the week I was supposed to fly out there for a visit. I had to cancel because Ethan is going to Israel and Rome for a week, so I have to stay in the office. Imagine if I’d gone out there. Kathie never would’ve slept with me with Brad laying in the hospital all fucked-up. What a waste of money that would’ve been. Another close call.

~~~~~~~~~~

Robert Gober
Untitled
Beeswax, cotton, leather, aluminum pull tabs and human hair
Est: $1,000,000-1,500,000
Sold for: $847,500

gober

You can’t see it in the pic but human hair is embedded. It’s a little girl’s leg. Dreary.