Broken Pieces all Around Town

This is a clever conceit but I remember reading that some of the broken pieces started falling off the board not long after he sold these. A quarter mil. Hope it holds together.

Julian Schnabel
Portrait of Robert Wilson
Oil, found ceramic plates and Bondo on panel
Est: 150,000 – USD 200,000
Sold for $250,000


September 23, 1994

I went out with Amy Peng. She’s just back from Ireland. Golly, she’s pretty. I hope she sleeps with me. [Note: she didn’t.] Her British accent plays to the Anglophile in me. Her family is a bunch of multi-degreed super Brainiacs. She just got her Masters and is in a panic. For the first time her life, there’s no class to attend and she finds herself with an overabundance of free time. The paradox of the overly-educated. She drove us out to the Nassau Coliseum to see Depeche Mode in that little Jeep. She’s a terrible, dangerous driver.

She said she feels trapped because she bought a co-op. I told her she needs to get a grip. Trapped is living in Bayonne and working a job you hate but can’t leave because you’ve got four kids and being married for 15 years, the last five of which have been sheer hell, but you’re psychologically and economically unable to make a move. Owning a co-op in Manhattan with a framed MBA isn’t a trap. I asked her what she’s reading and she showed me some stupid yuppie self-help book. How to cope with the tragedy of success. She asked what I was reading and I told her I’m in the middle of “Babbit.” She’d never heard of Sinclair Lewis. How do you get through graduate school and never hear of Sinclair Lewis?

Oswaldo called and told me I shouldn’t smoke pot because I can’t handle it. Do you know what? He’s right. He said my problem is I smoke everything I have all at once. He said to just take a puff or two. I’ll try that right now and see how it feels.

There. I had exactly two puffs. I’m stoned, but not so stoned that I can’t answer the phone, like last night. My phone rang and I didn’t pick it up. I listened to the answering machine and it was Hedy offering me some homemade soup but I was too high to pick it up so I missed out. I’m sure she thinks I’m weird because we had just spoken an hour before, so she knew I was home.

I called [my niece] to wish her a happy birthday. She’s 8. She asked why I’m not married yet. Everyone back in Ohio is married. I’m certain they all think I’m gay. I wish. That’d be preferable to a catatonic fear of abandonment so severe it causes occasional sexual dysfunction. Being gay sounds pretty sweet compared to that.

Went to the New York Theater Workshop with Cindy, Hedy and Hedy’s sister (also gay). I got comps to see Secretaries by the Five Lesbian Brothers. Everyone on stage and in the audience was gay. It was lesbo-rama! It’s entirely possible I was the lone hetro in the house. The show was hysterical. Lisa Kron is the best.

Ann invited me to some contemporary dance mess at the Joyce. I said I’d go but I can’t stand modern dance. Right after that, Maria Herrera invited me to sit at the Blue Note table at Sweet Basil’s on the same night. I immediately called Ann and canceled. I counter-offered to spend Sunday afternoon at the Met with her to see the big Annenberg Impressionist and Post-Impressionist exhibit and she seemed happy with that. Another paradox.



March 9, 1994

Had an interview at an agency. I made an immediate, intense connection with Jeanette, the interviewer. By the end of the interview we were practically crawling across her desk to claw at each other’s clothing. I don’t know what came over me (us). She called my references preparatory to the meeting and I got good press. She said, “Mark, everybody loves you.” I said, “Do you mean all around the world?” She was flirtatious. It wasn’t my imagination. This time.

She said without a college degree there’d always be a glass ceiling at any company I worked for, which is the truth I resent the most. At the conclusion we shook hands but wouldn’t uncouple. We just stood there looking at each other. Blue eyes and nice teeth. I said, “I don’t know if I should cultivate a professional relationship with you or seduce you.” She smiled. The next day she called to give me the specifics of an interview she’s arranged and kept calling me “honey,” in a soft tone, which has always been my kryptonite. Laura used to do it and I think that’s why I fell so hard, so fast, so irrevocably.

I went to opening night of Merce Cunningham’s “Sounddance” at City Center with Ann and an uber-wealthy family who are clients of hers. It was absolute torture. I’m so ill at ease around wealth. The kids, 16 and 18, have never wanted for anything. They were perfectly charming and polite. They weren’t precocious, snotty rich kids, although at intermission the dad whispered to me that they were both spoiled rotten.

The son goes to Dalton. The daughter is on her way to an Ivy League but will first spend the summer with her friends at their Hamptons home (which, Ann later told me, is palatial). She said she got valuable lesson on how unfair life can be when she saw how many of her friends got into Ivy’s. Apparently, intellectual capital doesn’t count for everything when applying to top colleges. She said if you not well-heeled with connections or a minority you’re “screwed.” Then the two of them told me all about last year’s trip to Cambodia. It was agonizing to listen to. They were nice kids but I was so consumed with envy and self-loathing that I just hated them, which is to say, I hated myself. The performance, a revival from 1977 was very good. Very energetic.

Read a Joyce Carol Oates interview in Playboy. She said she uses every single waking moment to take notes and jot down ideas. Said sleeping is a waste of human existence. That’s what it takes. Everyone knows it but few are willing to pay the bill, present company included. Bukowski died today. He had leukemia. It gives me the dirty low-down blue blues.

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.



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?”
“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.]


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

Party Man ’94


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.”


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


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.