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.

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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.

Earn millions painting Christ

I assume you’ve read about the $450M da Vinci. Christie’s marketing department gets an A+. Instead of selling this in the Renaissance auction where it belonged, they sold it in the Impressionist and Contemporary auction. da Vinci has nothing whatsoever to do with Contemporary art. But the Renaissance auction is a slow, staid, dull affair, full of musty, old bidders with their moldy, old money. The Contemporary auction is SEXY. The results speak for themselves.

I enjoyed the scandalous aspects. There’s a contingency of experts who don’t think it’s a da Vinci at all. Others think it’s genuine, but the restoration and cleaning was too aggressive. They restored the da Vinci-ness right out of the painting. I stood in line for :20 minutes to see it. It was beautiful to behold. I particularly liked how the glass orb was rendered.

But half a billion? It’s a good thing they didn’t donate that money to poor people. They would’ve just wasted it on stupid stuff like food, housing and education.

That wasn’t the only questionable auction result. We have the usual crap-ola mixed with genuine masterpieces. Guess which one this is:

Felix Gonzalez-Torres
Untitled
light bulbs, porcelain light sockets and extension cord
overall dimensions vary with installation
Est: $5,000,000–7,000,000
Sold: $5,195,600

Paying $5M+ for some light bulbs strung to an extension cord seems even crazier than paying $450M for a di Vinci. Not that I could do either.

I’m a big Lichtenstein fan and this was a particularly juicy work. I understand why it sold so far above the high estimate. Sort of.

Roy Lichtenstein
Female Head
Est: $10,000,000–15,000,000
Sold: $24,501,500

I’ve never understood what Franics Bacon was trying to accomplish with his smudged paintings. They have a certain ugly appeal to me. This must be the wholesale price because you get all three paintings.

Francis Bacon
Three Studies of George Dyer
Est: $35,000,000–45,000,000
Sold: $38,614,000

Here’s a detail of the center panel. Fantastic.

Here’s a lovely Georgia O’Keeffe. She was upset that people interpreted her work as female genitalia. That’s not what she intended. She said it more than once. They are most definitely NOT vaginas.

Georgia O’Keeffe
Yellow Sweet Peas
Est: $2,500,000–3,500,000
Sold: $4,405,300

Here’s an interesting shape in the wall.

Anish Kapoor
The Healing of St. Thomas
Est: $ 40,000–60,000
Sold: $37,500

I’m usually a big fan of Kapoor but this is disappointing.

I’ll continue to post other fun results.

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I went to a taping of The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. Many years ago, I attended a Jon Stewart taping. This was before The Daily Show. The musical guests that night was The Mighty Mighty Bosstones. I went straight from work and was wearing a tie. Some Bosstone ruffians sitting behind me were picking on me and making fun of the way I was dressed.

The Colbert show is structured to within an inch of its life and not as much fun as it sounds. We waited in line outside (in the cold) for a long time. We were finally welcomed by a CBS flunky. We got the old, “Are you excited?!” and we didn’t “Woooo!” loud enough so she asked us over and over again until we got it right. She said a comedian would get us all warmed-up to meet Stephen. Were we excited to meet STEPHEN? Wooooo!

Once inside, the warm-up comedian had people come up on stage and one by one he’d make fun of them for our amusement. He said the “f” word a lot. He brought up a 16-year old girl with her mom and treated them shabbily. He also made fun of a Polish woman with an accent. He was kind of an asshole, truth be told.

He said our JOB as the audience was to LAUGH and to laugh OFTEN. The success of the show hinged on our laughter. He said the audience isn’t miked, so it was important to LAUGH LOUD so we’d be picked up on tape. Apparently, we were also responsible for Stephen’s mood. Then he said, “So are you all exited to meet STEPHEN?”

“Woooo!”

Not good enough.

“Woooooooooooooo!”

Then the stage manager came out. He had a rolled-up piece of blue cardboard. He said when he held it over his head and twirled in in a circular motion, we should go really, really crazy. We were encouraged to stand up. He then directed our attention to overhead monitors that would flash the word ‘APPLAUSE’ in red letters. We had to practice standing and going crazy. We were their monkeys, performing on cue. Maybe we’d get a nut.

We were exhausted and the taping hadn’t even started yet. The guest was Ben Affleck. They had a long, uncomfortable discussion about how women are mistreated in Hollywood. He addressed his past indiscretions, which he copped to, and said it’s important for him to learn and grow as a human being. They didn’t address any of the accusations leveled against his brother.

Wooooooo!

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NYC at sunset from my office. This is how the New York State Division of Tourism wants you to see the city.

Same view. This is how it looks on a rainy Monday morning. Gotham City, baby.

Stare at this pocket watch. You’re getting sleepy…

bins

May 14, 1993

I took Laura to see Angels in America. It opened last week and it’s the toast of Broadway. A new play about AIDS. It’s kind of upsetting to sit through. A young actor named Jeffrey Wright was particularly good. I was waiting outside the theater beforehand feeling sorry for myself because things didn’t go so well in the bedroom the other night. The play’s depiction of the afflicted’s suffering, and the suffering of those who loved him, was so vivid and so true-to-life that it made me ashamed for wallowing in self-pity over my little problem. My problem is temporary. AIDS is a death sentence, and a particularly gruesome one at that.

The pair of tickets cost $129, which I have no business spending. I’m between gigs and just marginally employed, but when she turned the corner and walked towards me, the money seemed unimportant. As she got closer, she slowed her walk and looked me in the eye. Step. Step… Step…. She put her arms around my neck and kissed me. She’s so beautiful. She couldn’t come home with me because she had to be at Baby Gap at 8:00 the next morning. Dropped her off at her apartment. The taxi driver had such horrific B.O. that we settled for a kiss on the cheek.

I didn’t want to sit around the apartment all day because I thought I might put my head in the oven so I rode my bike to Battery Park. I was in the sun for over three hours without sunscreen and got a terrible burn. I think the tourists discovered my little nook. It’s preposterous to think I can go anywhere in New York and avoid a crowd. I read the paper and thought about her, then went home and did laundry. Spent time on the phone with Bonnie. She’s got relationship problems, too.

I am so vexed about what happened the other night, and so convinced it’ll happen again, that I went to a hypnotist. Desperate measures. It cost $80. That leaves $73 in my checking account. He put me “under” but all I felt was ridiculous. He thought I fell asleep but, honestly, it was all I could do to keep from laughing. He said to envision peace and calm and then took my money. I don’t know if it’ll help. It would help if Laura dumped Dave back in Nebraska. I should visit Ann and her coconut oil. I’ll bet that’d restore my confidence in a jiffy.

Laura and I like to have “questions sessions” in bed. We create a safe space and are allowed to ask each other anything, no matter how personal or erotic. And many fantasies were learned. On that day. It’s a lot of fun. I found out about Dave during one of these sessions. Unsafe space.

CBGBs this Friday. Fang Records showcase featuring BOX and Very Pleasant Neighbor. Two of my favs. Cindy said she’s going, which is a bonus.

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Artist and rabble rouser Ai Weiwei’s new public installations are a commentary on the worldwide refugee crisis. As with most conceptual art, its meaning in relation to the actual piece is beyond my ken. I only ever enjoy this stuff for its visual splendor (or lack thereof). Good Fences Make Good Neighbors is a citywide installation that consists of hundreds of pieces. The most fetching are these two cages.

I took these at 6:30 in morning. I wanted stark, empty streets and early light.

Arch is in Washington Square Park.

The center cutout is polished mirror and in the shape of two figures.

Gilded Cage sits at the southeast entrance to Central Park.

That’s The Plaza in the background. Once an elegant hotel, it’s now a Trump property and, hence, polluted.

You can walk inside. It’s the closest I ever hope to get to jail.

Falcon Crest

A few weeks ago I reposted pics from last year of the falcon that visits our office every summer. Well, guess who just showed up? She was nice enough to alight on the west side of the building this time, which made for more dramatic images.

We’re 50 floors up. Too high for sparrows and pigeons. Okay for falcons and helicopters. Look at her pose. What a diva. She knows she’s being photographed.

We know when she’s outside because we hear her screeching. She calls her chick and teaches her how to dive off the building and attack some poor, unsuspecting bird or rodent. Here, she’s scoping the area for lunch.

The following morning, a rare treat. The baby makes an appearance. This isn’t a great shot but she was only there for a few fleeting moments. Mom will perch outside our window for 15 or 20 minutes at a time. People line up to take her picture.

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This is an interesting piece. It’s a collaboration between Andy Warhol and Jean-Michel Basquiat. Pretty obvious who did what. It’s from Tommy Hilfiger’s collection and was sold in London in June. Call me tacky but I would totally hang this up.

Andy Warhol and Jean-Michel Basquiat
New Flame
Est: £1,700,000—2,000,000
Sold for £2,408,750

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This is Ladder by Crazy Marina Abramovic. I saw it in a group gallery exhibit.

Last year she published her memoirs. It’s a hysterical example of tortured artisté navel-gazing and pretentiousness. As as child, instead of playing with toys, she “…prefered to play with the shadows of passing cars on the wall.” She made that up to sound cool, right? She didn’t actually do that, did she?

She was born into a wealthy Yugoslavian family and enjoyed maids, theater tickets, paintings, a grand piano. A world of privilege. All while the rest of the country scraped by in post-war poverty. Yet, she writes of the “…tyranny of support.” She complains about “…changing planes so often, museum and gallery openings, endless receptions…” What a loon. She should try the Port Authority bus depot at 6:20 a.m. My finest art.

She’s quite the gas bag but I *do* like her work. I saw her retrospective at MoMA in 2010 and loved it. Perhaps her odious comments are part of an elaborate performance piece. I hope so.

I ran my finger along the knife edge. They were dulled. Of course they were! What were you thinking?

~~~~~~~~~~

Morning meta moment. Walking down 42nd St. on my way to work I looked up and saw a billboard for an HBO series about 42nd St. Different era. Same pavement.

Kaleidoscope

I brought my daughters to Chelsea for a gallery hop. I think they’re bored by these excursions. I think they suffer them for my sake. Hopefully, one day, they’ll be a fond memory. *I* certainly enjoy these days.

This was Leo Villareal’s beautiful light installation at Pace Gallery.

You lucky ducks in London will get to see his Illuminated River installation along the Thames starting Wednesday, November 9th.

This was REASON by Carsten Höller​ at the Gagosian. It’s an oversized mobile you propel. The intertwining mushrooms never collide. My daughter was a bit too enthusiastic. She started running and the security guard had to tell her to hit the brakes.

This is Descension, Anish Kapoor’s summer installation in Brooklyn Bridge Park. It’s a never-ending whirlpool. I don’t know where the water goes or how it feeds back into the piece. I don’t care. I never peek behind the curtain. Standing next to it you feel a rumble, like a low, constant thunder. The railing rattles. This is the same guy who did the Bean in Chicago.

This necessitated a walk over the bridge. It’s VERY crowded with tourists this time of year. And it’s no wonder. It’s a spectacle. The cathedral window cutouts and cables are distinctive. One of my favorite architectural flourishes in the city.

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Andy Warhol
Big Campbell’s Soup Can with Can Opener (Vegetable)
Estimate on Request
Sold for $27,500,000

Roy Lichtenstein
Red and White Brushstrokes
Est: $25,000,000-35,000,000
Sold for $28,247,500

You’re looking at +$55M worth of art hung side by side. They’re nice, but I’ve seen better for much less.

~~~~~~~~~~

bins

May 28, 1993

I got the sweetest message from Laura on my answering machine.

[Note: Do you miss answering machines? With their unpredictable joys and sorrows? I do. Voicemail is to answering machines as ebooks are to hardcovers. Same functionality but lacks the poetry.]

It was a last-minute invitation to a stand-up club with some of her friends. She said she’d save me a seat. She said she’d love to see me but if I couldn’t make it, that’s okay, she’d see me soon. Do you know how many people freely admit they’d love to see me? Not many. I told Bonnie and she said I couldn’t NOT go. I’m kind of broke but moments later I was in a cab.

Got there and the performance was already underway. I stood in the back of a dark club and didn’t see her. Then I saw a head tilt up and a plume of cigarette smoke spout towards the ceiling. It was like the Bat Signal. Also, Laura has a very distinctive way of flipping her long hair over to one side. It’s a trademark move. I only saw a silhouette and knew instantaneously it was her. She was at a table with five friends. An empty seat was next to her.

When the acts changed, I wound my way through the club and sat next to her. I don’t think I’ll ever forget the look on her face when she turned and saw it was me. She held my hand under the table.

We woke up the way we fell asleep; in each other’s arms. This can’t possibly last, can it? [Note: Nope. It can’t.]

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I’m battling sciatica. I’ve tried physical therapy, acupuncture, a chiropractor, megadoses of naproxen and steroids, heat and cold. They prescribed an opiate but I refuse to take it.

I just read a book by a guy named Dr. John Sarno. He says my pain is not physiological. It’s a distraction to prevent me from dealing with repressed feelings of anger, anxiety and worthlessness. Do you know what? I belive him.