I won’t do it and you can’t make me

bins

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.

Little Bo Peep lost her sheep and now it’s floating in a tank of formaldehyde

The spring Contemporary and Impressionist auctions at Christie’s and Sotheby’s just wrapped up and now that they’re over, none of these pieces will ever be seen in public again. In many cases, that’s okay. I saw someone describe this season’s offerings at a solid B+ and I’d have to agree. Aside from a Rothko, nothing really blew my sox off. I’ll keep my pithy remarks to a minimum. As always, feel free to heartily disagree.

Damien Hirst
Away from the Flock
Glass, painted steel, silicone, acrylic, plastic, lamb and formaldehyde
Est: $4,000,000 – 6,000,000
Sold for: $4,412,500

It’s a lamb. Floating in a tank of formaldehyde.

He’s pulled this sort of thing before. He did it with a great white shark and even a cow cut in half. Art as a spectacle. $4.4M. Hirst is currently at his estate laughing his ass off.

Jean-Michel Basquiat
Flesh and Spirit
Oil stick, gesso, acrylic and paper on canvas
Estimate Upon Request
Sold for: $30,711,000

A huge piece. I am slowly coming around to Basquiat. I still hold him in contempt for throwing it all away on an O.D. but am beginning to see some value in his work. It’s the same urban Lower East Side environ I spent so many years in.

David Hammons
Maternity
Wood mask and cotton nightgown
Est: $1,400,000 – 1,800,000
Sold for: $975,000

A nighty tacked to the wall. You can’t see it in the pic but there’s a chunk of painted wood underneath. What does it mean? Can anyone tell me? $975K would put both my daughters through school with enough left over to buy myself a snow cone machine.

David Hockney
Piscine de Medianoche (Paper Pool 30)
Est: $5,000,000 – 7,000,000
Sold for: $11,743,800

A vivid, beautiful piece. Interesting for its construction. Made from colored and pressed paper pulp. Much more tactile in person. I liked the deckle edges of each section.

Arman
Grande Poubelle (Large Rubbish Bin)
Plexiglas box, painted wood, accumulated studio refuse
Est: $60,000 – 80,000
Did not sell

It’s garbage from the artist’s studio. I think I took about $2,000 worth of art to the curb last night. Didn’t sell, which fills me with hope for the human race.

Jackson Pollock
Number 32
Est: $30,000,000 – 40,000,000
Sold for: $34,098,000

Magnificent (to me). Nice and bright. Pollock’s color displacement is better in some works than in others and this is one of the best I’ve seen.

Jeff Koons
Play-Doh
Polychromed aluminum
Estimate on Request
Sold for: $22,812,500

It’s an aluminum mountain of Play-Doh. My sweet Lord. Where would you put something like this? Playful, yet, dumb.

Robert Gober
Untitled
Bronze, wood, brick, beeswax, human hair, recycling pump, water, latex paint
Est: $6,000,000 – 8,000,000
Sold for: $7,287,500

Gober is my bête noire. A fake. A charlatan. What’s with all the drains in his work? This includes a pump that circulates running water. He is also currently at home laughing his ass off.

Mark Rothko
Untitled
Oil on paper mounted on canvas
Est: $7,000,000 – 10,000,000
Sold for: $18,856,500

I like Rothko and my fondness for his work has grown over the years. This was beautifully lit. It glowed. I could live with this. Forever. A shame about the $18M+.

Robert Rauschenberg
Sacred / Universal No. 7/3 Times (Cardboard)
Cardboard and tape on plywood
Est: $250,000 – 350,000
Sold for $225,000

Cardboard boxes affixed to the wall. What’s the appeal? Perhaps it’s the way they’re arranged?

Vincent Van Gogh
Vue de l’asile et de la Chapelle Saint-Paul de Mausole (Saint-Rémy)
Est: $35,000,000 – 55,000,000
Sold for: $39,687,500

Thick and juicy. Mainstream popularity be damned; I’m still enamored with his work. That poor bastard died broke. He’s not at home laughing.

Jeff Koons
Balloon Rabbit (Red), Balloon Monkey (Blue), Balloon Swan (Yellow) [Three Works]
Est: $20,000 – $30,000
Sold for: $81,250

Adorable. Easier to display than his monstrous balloon dog. More affordable, too (relatively speaking).

Everyone’s a little bit racist. Apparently, even me.

Everyone’s a little bit
Racist, sometimes.
Look around and
You will find,
No one’s really
Color-blind.

My bride and I were having a discussion and to an opinion I expressed she said, “You’d better keep that to yourself. It’s racist.” I thought I had progressive attitudes about race but she might have a point.

So, naturally, I need to tell everyone.

I took my daughter to see Harry Potter and the Cursed Child on Broadway. I found a discount for the first preview and it’s good thing I did. I couldn’t afford to take her otherwise. She’s crazy about those books and when she asked to see it I had to say no, which broke my heart. It worked out in the end but my inability to afford tickets makes me feel wholly inadequate as a father. But that’s for another post.

It’s an extraordinary piece of theater but it helps if you’re a die-hard Potter enthusiast (my daughter) or interested in the mechanics of theater and acting (me). Your ass is in a chair for about six hours. Plus, the aforementioned cost.

You can look elsewhere for reviews. They’re all glowing. My problem—the one that landed the accusation—lies with their decision to employ color-blind casting.

The principle actors playing Harry, Ron, Draco and Ginny all look very much like adult versions of their movie selves. It’s easy to imagine these fictional characters transitioned into adulthood. Hermione Granger is played by a black actor. She’s more than capable and an extraordinary actor. I’ve been attending theater for 25+ years and know talent when I see it. She can command the stage and has a genuine presence. I just never saw her as Hermione. Throughout the play I had to occasionally stop and remind myself, “Oh, that’s Hermione.” My brain simply refused to make that leap. It proved to be a distraction. I respect their intentions but the plot flow was interrupted for want of a progressive agenda.

Perhaps it’s the indelible image of Hermione Granger as a young white girl. Or perhaps I have dormant racist attitudes that were inflamed. The wrong kind of woke.

I can’t tell you how alarming this is. It’s heartbreaking. I thought I was more evolved than that. I hope this doesn’t rub off on my daughters.

~~~~~~~~~~

Prior to the play I took her on a gallery hop in Chelsea. At Dia: Chelsea is Rita McBride’s Particulates, a fetching and photogenic industrial laser installation.

The gates keep you at bay because you can really hurt yourself if you try to break the beam, which I desperately wanted to do.

The room is kept cool and clammy. The air is misted so the beams are visible. It might be fun after a few bong hits. I imagine. I wouldn’t know.

There’s a low hum and the beams reflect off the wet floor. Best of all, free admission! Thank you, Dia Chelsea.

I liked this one as well although it was more stark. Dan Flavin’s in daylight or cool white at the David Zwirner gallery.

Flavin construct geometric shapes with neon tubes. Neon on a ceiling reminds me of cold, dreary office lighting. I find it a wholly acceptable medium for art, though.

Unfortunately with these gallery hops, you have to take the sublime with the ridiculous. These were fruits and vegetables nailed to a wall.

I thought they were plaster sculptures but, no, it’s real food. I chatted with the gallery rep and he is charged with replacing the food when it starts to rot. This is why some people laugh at contemporary art.

~~~~~~~~~~

Sorry, everyone, but there are going to be cat pics. There just are.

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.

~~~~~~~~~~

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.

~~~~~~~~~~

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.

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.

~~~~~~~~~~

“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.