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FULTON RYDER

BIRDTALK

4/21/2014

The Mothers of Invention.

The last thing I want to do is criticize anybody who makes bad art. Why would I? It’s none of my business what other artists do. And I can’t help think that there’s a lot worse things that somebody can do besides making bad art.
I can think of any number of artists I think are shit but calling them out isn’t a “bag” I want to put myself in. (I don’t have the time… or better still, I don’t have the “time time”).
I’m not a teacher or historian or a critic. You’re just going to have to figure out what’s bad for yourself.
I’d rather talk about art that I like. Art that has moved me or made me feel good. Art that makes me feel alive and glad to be around. I’ll leave the rest of it to everybody else.

Last Saturday I went to Nate Lowman’s show. I bought Wisconsin. Just kidding? No I’m not kidding. I bought his cutout of the state of Wisconsin out of his recent show at Maccarone. I was surprised when I walked in. There were new directions in Nate’s work and things there, I wasn’t expecting. I’ve been to Nate’s studio at least once a year for the past four or five years. We traded works recently. The cutout of Wisconsin looked at first to be made out of foam. Like one of those foam fingers people stick on their hands at sporting events. The kind where the index finger points straight up. But Nate’s Wisconsin wasn’t foam. It was shaped canvas and the sides of the canvas were stapled in a way that I suspected Nate stapled it himself. The stapled edges didn’t have a professional look to them. I could sense Nate stretched “the state” deliberately… home-made… “down on the farm”. In other words, Nate’s Wisconsin wasn’t “jobbed out”. The way the green paint was fused into the canvas was watered down, like it was lightly “coated” or sprayed out of a can… but then I thought no, maybe he dipped the raw cotton duck into a green stew. I don’t know… like I said… the swerve on the surface had a slight bumpiness to it. The “uneven” monochrome green reminded me of “green cheese”. America’s Dairyland.

High Five.
I’ve heard that Nate is jig sawing the rest of the states in America. I’ve also heard when they’re all cutout… he’s going to put them back together and leave Wisconsin out. No matter. If he wants to put it back in, he knows where to find it.

Dandelion Wine.
Nate also had simple cutouts of flowers. Were they flowers? Or large leaves? Or tiny palm trees? Not sure. They could have been a riff on Matisse’s scissored paper patterns but I don’t think so. Nate’s healthy as a horse and far away from having to make art in bed. I think Nate’s weeds were more the tumbling kind, a literal translation of something natural and “herbal”… something that grew under an artificial light in a hot house and came out smelling like those scented “xmas trees” that bangers and lowriders hang from their rearview mirrors.

Just before I left, I went into the back room and saw a bag of rocks. I said to Michelle Maccarone, “what’s that”? She said that the bag of rocks was by Paul Lee. I wasn’t familiar with Lee. Never seen his work before. They tell me Dan Colen knows about him. Collects him. Call Dan.
The rocks looked like rocks but were made out of heavy plaster and the bag was made out of dyed towels that Lee shaped and cast into something like a duffel bag. Next to the bag of rocks Lee had made a soft cushion out of more towels and used the pouf of the towels as a pedestal to hold one rock. Both the bag of rocks and the cushion with one rock was then placed on another pedestal painted white and made out of thin plywood that had been carpentered on two levels so when the bag of rocks and the cushion with one rock was side by side, they came to the same height. “How much”? I asked Michelle. She hesitated. She didn’t know at first. She had to ask the receptionist. I walked out of Maccarone with Wisconsin and a bag of rocks.

Next stop Karma.
Schnabel’s show.
I heard Schnabel picked Karma because of its unusual “wainscoting” that patterns the walls. I heard that it reminded him of a beach house. Good for him.
I liked Schnabel’s “plate” paintings when they first came out. I knew that Schnabel had been cooking at a local artists hangout so the “broken plates” seemed like logical material to be smashed and plastered onto jerry-rigged paint speared panels. (“Logic” is a good start when it comes to translating subject matter). The “mania” of the effect looked like it had been “wrestled” with. They woke you up. The “crockery” was a welcome new blitz on third generation conceptual art. The jolt was big, bizarre, beautiful and ugly. For awhile it replaced twelve years of Avalanche Art.
I know about Schnabel’s whole coat around the shoulders routine. "I am maestro, kiss my ass." (I remember Jannis Kounellis walking around a gallery wearing a coat in the same fashion. He could of been wearing a zoot suit for all I cared.) I don't know. Every artist has an ego the size of Texas. We all do. Some of us drape our coats over our shoulders and some of us just put our two arms thru the sleeves and button it the fuck up. Either way we share the same thing. We think if we were at the Alamo our coonskin cap could wipe Walt Disney’s ass.

Can you pass the acid test?
I liked seeing one of Schnabel’s mid-80’s paintings on “velvet” a couple of years ago in a Whitney show. It was part decorative, part crazy. It seemed like the painting was trying to get away with something. Up to no good? There was energy and little self-doubt. It looked as if it had been done on an Owsley tab of blotter acid and after examining it under a black light the artist stood back and said, “next”. (Owsley, also known as Bear, was the first private individual to manufacture mass quantities of LSD).
Most people associate Black Velvet Paintings with Elvis or paintings of pets that hang next to a bar in the basement of a playroom. But they originate in ancient Kashmir, the homeland of fabric. Back then they portrayed icons painted by Russian Orthodox priests. Marco Polo introduced them to Western Civilization. I’m not sure if Schnabel had this mix of past and present in mind when he painted his own velvet underground. What did come to mind was Jorg Immendorff. Markus Lupertz. A.R. Penck. Robin Winters and Chuck Connelly… There was a whole slue of artists in the East Village doing this kind of “Dutch Boy” painting. Why the East Village? I have no idea. (Living in the East Village in the early eighties, you could have a life instead of a career). This ‘”wide wide world of painting” has been referred to as “the 10th St. School Of Art. Anything goes. Discipline, skills? You might be better off without them. It’s more like a try out. “Bohemian wanted”. Being naturally gifted might not get you the part. Delusion and pose goes a long way on 10th st. The style rears its head once every fifteen years. I think it’s rearing now. Usually the stuff ends up in dustbins and street fairs. But sometimes a work like Schnabel’s “velvet painting”, holds up, survives. The horror shines on and shouts out like a mad scientist shrieking, “It’s Alive”. It reboots after a couple of decades and for reasons know one can predict, becomes relevant again.

A tip.
Inside trading.
Leon Golub.
That’s all I’m going to say.
Don’t say I told you so.

My name? Jose Jimenez.
If you’re not up on your Greenwich Village history, check out photo books by Fred McDarrah and the way he photo documented the NYC art scene. (“Unwashed exploits”). He shows you how this type of “monster” painting goes back to the mid-fifties when the Atomic Bomb was part of the mindset. The way “fallout” could mess with your mind and maybe zap you into thinking you could bubble up into a fifty foot tall bazooka. Drive-in movie shit. Paging Roger Corman.
But I think mostly, (realistically), paving the way and getting x-rayed too many times has something to do with Rauschenberg’s “combines”. In 1955, after Rauschenberg let the cat out of the bag, (or the rooster), every beatnik beachcombing son of a bitch upended their neighbor’s garbage cans and put two and two together and monster mashed their new grooves to Sam The Sham and the Pharaohs.

Pastime.
Rauschenberg’s “combines” made it look easy. Any amateur with a sheet and cardboard could cobble together root beer and a yardstick and have an art party. Rauschenberg gave permission. He let it roll. He was lucky. The others? They took a bath.

Wooly Bully.
This part of the 80’s I wasn’t in. I avoided it. Or tried to. The “expression” took up a lot of room. My attention was elsewhere. I wasn’t marginalized but I was in another camp. The story around my campfire had nothing to do with angst, myth, King Kong, or ghosts.
It’s interesting to re-visit “the neo’s” and see what I missed. I always felt Schnabel ran into Basquiat. (Or vice versa). “Vice Versa” should be the title to a new Schnabel painting. But I don’t know if Schnabel is doing anything new. I haven’t followed his work in years and the last things that I saw were from the early nineties when he was channeling Twombly and Polke and painting paintings based on fiction and history. (Wether we knew it or not we all channeled a little Polke).
Basquiat had something to say. And when he would oil stick Sugar Ray Robinson on one of those wooden palates, the “rope-a-dope” made sense. The reference wasn’t a gesture. It was something real. You believed him. Stick to what you know, what you remember, what you like. It was like Basquiat was hosting his own late night radio show. Play Misty For Me. “This is KRL. Know. Remember. Like”.
I was never sure what Julian was trying to say after he broke plates. But at the end of the day, do you need to say anything?

Just before I left Karma I called Brendan Dugan and left him a message. What I said was, “I think I’m going to stop by the Urs Fischer show on 75th St…. I hope he changes my mind”.
Two days before, I was having lunch with Peter Brant and Alberto Mugrabi and I was telling them how I never connected with Fischer. (I know they did and I was trying to get out of them why). I’ve seen Fischer’s work over the last… what… ten years and have always thought what I was seeing was someone else’s work. I know these two guys like Fischer a lot and I told them that Fischer’s new “collages” were way out of scale. “Way to big”. The things that he was collaging onto the found images of faces didn’t make sense. A screw, a bolt or a “wrench” in real life isn’t that big. But hey… maybe Urs isn’t interested in real life. Blow it up. Make it big. That’s something a lot of artists do. They take something small, like a mouse, and king size the fuck out of it. Hi. I’m Mickey Mouse, and I’m going to parade my way down Fifth Ave. Zippa De Doo Da. It’s almost like they’re afraid of a pencil and a piece of paper. But I’m complaining. Scale is my problem not theirs. What did I say at the beginning? “Not my bag”.
Anyway I left the lunch knowing Fischer had two new shows bookending upper and lower Manhattan. The upper part at 75th and Park is where I stopped on Saturday, after Maccarone and Karma. It’s a storefront that Gagosian rented recently. It used to be a baby store. A store that catered to women who breastfeed their kid. Sold nursing bras. Women could also stop in and put their nipples in their kid and not get hassled. It was on the corner of 75th and Park and one of the few spaces on Park that was available to rent for commercial purposes.
I walked in and was immediately thrown for a loop. My initial reaction was… NOW WE’RE TALKING.
The piece was called The Last Supper. I know something about Jesus. His story. I know about the “daters” he could pull from a fish’s mouth to pay the Temple Tax. (A four-drachma coin from St. Peter’s fish). I know about how he could heal. (If anybody could heal like Jesus now… they’d have a million gazillion followers on Twitter). I know he left his wife for a weekend with twelve guys and got nailed to a cross. I know the last thing he said up there on the cross was, “Hey I can see my house from here”. I know he died and rose from the dead and instead of scaring the shit out of everybody, he walked around for forty days like he’d just woken up from a three day bender.

The second coming.
For a couple of minutes I thought Urs’ Last Supper was made out of clay. I didn’t touch it. There were a couple of gallery goers in the store front and a lady sitting behind a desk working on a laptop. She was watching the place. There was a guard. I asked her if I could take a picture of the sculpture with my I-phone. “Yes”.
I circled the sculpture and tried to figure out dimensions. The sculpture was probably based on Leonardo da Vinci’s painting of The Last Supper and if not da Vinci’s painting, then some other Last Supper. Hans Holbein, Duccio di Bouninsegna, Peter Paul Rubens…(The Last Supper by Bouveret is a particularly nice one)… Maybe The Last Supper with Cameron Diaz, Ron Eldard and Courtney B. Vance. Fuck it, it doesn’t matter which supper. This was Fischer’s supper.

“Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me”.
“But first take this bread… take and eat; this is my body. Drink from the cup… this is my blood”.

My hope of being changed… “of mind”… sharpening and turning in the right direction... happened pretty quickly. (Instamatic Baby). I loved Fischer’s Supper. I asked the lady at the desk if it was cast and in what material. (It sure looked like it was made out of clay, maybe even clay from Golgatha, the place of the Skull where Jesus was crucified. How cool would that be? Little vials of Golgatha dirt carried home in pants pockets undetected by security checks and German shepards. Charlie Fucking Bronson and The Great Escape).
The rendering of the figures looked like they had been kneaded at Ray’s Pizzeria… do ray me. Like the rendering was preliminary… a sorting out… a first stab. Q the lounge lizard stylings of Louie Prima and Keely Smith. I’m not sure where that came from but I swear I heard Prima singing “Oh Marie” leaking in from somewhere into the store. Maybe it was leftover sound from when the store was a pit stop for a quick milkshake.
“I went with my gut”.
That’s another sound I was hearing. Hovering from above. Urs floating in a cloud, on a magic carpet. “The Urs Parade”. Following the kick-ass sounds of a marching, jamming, Steppenwolf.

Resurrection. (It’s part of the Nicene Creed). Christ died for our sins. The belief is central. Otherwise there’s no salvation. Personally the narrative sounds like Wild History. (A “legendary account”).

Urs’ execution was cartoon like but a REFINED cartoon. The Flintstones meets The Rollingstones. It looked as if Fischer knew what he was doing. What he wanted was achieved. Achievement! It was that simple. The centuries old subject matter was updated in 3-D with a new spirit. Praise the lord. Hallelujah. The great Whore of Babylon born again.
This is what I had been waiting for. I liked the food on the table. Contemporary food. A hotdog. A container of fries from McDonald’s. A couple of tacos and some guacamole. The table itself was split in three parts as if it was a backyard barbecue and an earthquake had cleaved it open. There was a smiley face, a kind of “Casper The Holy Ghost” hanging on the shoulder of Jesus. (Now that I think of it, there might of been two Christ's at the table. Doppelganger.) The face of “Casper” was scary smiley. The devil? Maybe. Maybe it was the mad and happy theater masks from Nicolas Roeg’s horror movie Don’t Look Now. (There was a can of beer in front of Christ. A Bud. Was this Bud for me?).
Fischer’s Christ wasn’t wearing a crown of thorns. (Instruments of passion). There was no mocking his authority. It looked like what was on his head was the observation deck from the Statue of Liberty. (You can get these pointed “decks” at the same place you buy the foam fingers for sporting events. Yes I know. I know what you’re thinking. Wisconsin. The Statue of Liberty. Zeitgeist? Who knows? That word for me has always suggested conspiracy. I’m going with coincidence).

“I’m just a patsy”.
At the far end of the table, one of the disciple’s ass was fashioned to look like the ass of a woman. (I don’t know, maybe this disciple wasn’t a disciple. Maybe it was an Apostle proclaiming “good news”). Either way, there was a hand on his/her ass. When I say hand… that’s what I mean. Just a hand. The hand and the wrist of the hand wasn’t attached to an arm. This addition of a disembodied hand to the buttocks of the he/she figure was a great touch. (Rim shot). I liked the thinking that must of happened when this critic’s hand was severed and slapped on the ass. There must have been some “highfalutin” energy that went thru Fischer’s brain.

Rushing on my run.
I’ve heard that Fischer makes a big deal out of lunch.
Maybe that’s another thing that got me connected to the Supper.
He made the subject part of his territory.
He staked a claim.
“I like lunch and I like to have a lot of people around when I have lunch.”
Masterpiece?
If you Google the definition of the word, the first thing that comes up is da Vinci’s Mona Lisa. It goes on to say, in the modern usage… “a creation considered to be the greatest work of a person’s career”.
“Outstanding” is what I have to say.
I asked the girl behind the desk… “edition”?
She said two with an artists proof.
I asked, “so… is one available”?
She said “no”.
That’s what I expected.
She didn’t know me from Adam.
(Before I forget, put me down for a grand master remix of Adam and Eve. The apple. The rib. The serpent. The tree of life. The temptation. I’d like to domain that territory. Pronto.).
Anyway… from Adam.
I didn’t want to say, “I’m Richard Prince”.
Embarrassed?
No. I just didn’t want to give her my name. Fuck her if she didn’t know me.
And anyway… why should she?
All I wanted was more information.
I wanted to make sure that… “no, there are none available” was true. (I know “the none available” spiel is standard issue from girls who work the front desks at galleries).
While I stood there and walked around the Supper for the fourth time I called Gagosian and asked for the owner…
I asked him if The Supper could go outside.
He said “yes”.
“Good”, I said.
“Good”, he said.

Sometimes it takes time.
Sometimes it doesn’t happen, but when it does, when my mind splits open… well… like the song says… “I feel like Jesus’ son”.



4/18/2014

PRESS RELEASE

The Canal Zone Paintings
Gagosian Gallery, 980 Madison Ave, New York, NY
Thursday, May 8 to Saturday, June 14, 2014

I was born in the Canal Zone in 1949. Same year that George Orwell’s 1984 was published. Why the Canal Zone? My parents worked for the government, specifically for the OSS. I don’t remember much about Panama. The family moved to Braintree, Mass., twenty minutes south of Boston in 1954. The town had just built twenty-seven houses. All the same. It was called a “development.” Our house was put up in like five days. It wasn’t made very well but it was brand new. Everything was “brand new.” The place we were in was called the suburbs.

“I Like Ike.”
I didn’t like Ike. And I didn’t like Mamie, his wife either. I liked TV, magazines, and movies. I liked game shows. ‘Truth Or Consequences.’ ‘Who Do You Trust.’ ‘What’s My Line.’ ‘You Bet Your Life.’ Groucho Marx hosted ‘You Bet Your Life.’ I wanted to be related to Groucho Marx.
Tarzan was my favorite movie. Maybe it was the jungle. I don’t know. I found the whole thing erotic. What can I say. . . I wanted to be Johnny Sheffield. . . Tarzan’s teenage sidekick.

My favorite baseball player. Jimmy Piersall. He played for the Red Sox. I was told he was touched. I didn’t know what “touched” meant. (Still a little too early for a psychiatrist.)

Jimmy once hit a home run and ran around the bases backwards. He went to third base instead of first. He went around the bases THE WRONG WAY. Jimmy would later check himself into an “institution” and when he got out, would wind up working for one of my uncles who managed business affairs for Ted Williams. (Williams was a straight arrow outfield slugger for the Red Sox.) Jimmy ran the Stop & Shop grocery chain in New England and employed my mother as a food demonstrator. (My mother quit the OSS after it became the CIA. She used to tell me she would hide in closets. After fifteen years she thought she was a suit. That’s no joke. You know the rest).

My mother’s job was pretty strange. She looked like June Cleaver in an apron. She would stand behind a small folding tray and hand out space age food. She handed out samples of Marshmallow, Cool Whip, Beef Jerky, Mayonnaise, Kool-Aid, Fruit Loops.

Formative years.
They never leave you.
I was into Zorro. Soupy Sales. Astronauts. Cars. Little Richard.
When I say “into,” it’s what I remember. And when I say “formative,” I mean, memories. Suburban ’50s shit. I don’t resist it. Why should I? Even if I did, the shit would still somehow end up in my paintings.
Mad Magazine. Playboy. West Side Story. Ernie Kovacs. The Ed Sullivan Show. Jack Paar. The Cold War. Rod Serling. Brand new completely redesigned cars coming off an assembly line every year. It seeps in. It coats you. It’s what I know. And if you have anything to say, it’s probably best to stick to what you know.

The Canal Zone Paintings started off as a “pitch.” It was a story about a family starting out on an X-mas vacation . . . landing on the island of St. Bart’s and after they land they learn that the rest of the world has been nuked, blown apart by a nuclear holocaust. On The Beach meets Lord of the Flies meets 28 Days Later. This family isn’t getting off the island any time soon. In a couple of days a bottle of water is worth more than a Rolex.

That “pitch” is buried in parts of the Zone Paintings. Most of the “pitch” would take a back seat in 2007 and evolve more into painting and collaging images of Rastas and naked women after I came up with the idea about a reggae band gigging as the “house band” on one of those monster cruise ships anchored out beyond Gustavia harbor, styling to the sounds of Radiodread. (In my movie, the reggae band manages to escape before the ship is burned and brutalized for its stores and provisions and comes ashore and takes over the Manapany . . . one of seven hotels on the island that become “occupied” by different “tribes.”)

I went back to Panama for the first time in 2005.
I was curious.
I went to the outer edges of its boundaries.
I liked the jungles, the uninhabited parts of Panama. I was hoping for a connection that I wasn’t connected to.
I liked the city too. It looked tired and worn down, leftover. It looked like Saigon in 1966. There were a lot of clothes hanging from clotheslines that were strung out across cement terraces.

I’m not going to explain why there’re Rastas and naked women in the paintings, except to say . . . formality . . . and, one thing leads to another. You figure it out. For me art is about continuation, autobiography (the past), what’s right next to you (the present), and the skills to interpret feelings and sensations. There’re no mysteries. No secrets. I get it. And it’s about the only thing I get.

When I first showed the Canal Zone Paintings I thought they were cool, different . . . I had never seen them before. I found new techniques to marry inkjet and collage. I cut out huge reproductions of figures and painted on the back of the cut-outs, substituting the paint for glue and pasting the forms next to already inkjetted images and letting the excess paint leak out the sides and bottom of the cut-out after I dragged over the cuts with a silk-screen squeegee. The “leaks” of white paint were accidental. At first I thought I needed to get rid of the mistake. Cover it up. But I let it go. It didn’t take long to realize that the “mess” would let the viewer know exactly how the shapes got “stuck.” The compositions? A ribbon of figures. Starting from left to right. They were just hanging there in a field of wine-colored reds. I was working with figures that were originally reproduced in black-and-white. I wanted their noncolor to mix with a palette of grey and silver. The repros of women were supplied from friends. Dian Hanson, John McWhinnie, Richard Kern. One repro came from Eric Kroll. I gave each of them a small study in return for their giving.
I don’t want to talk about where the Rastas came from.

Like most images I work with they weren’t mine. I didn’t know anything about Rastas. I didn’t know anything about their culture or how they lived. I had plenty of time to find out. What I went with was the attraction. I liked their dreads. The way they were dressed . . . gym shorts and flip-flops. Their look and lifestyle gave off a vibe of freedom. Maybe I’m wrong about the freedom but I don’t give a shit about being wrong.

When I pasted the guitar onto the first Rasta . . . that was my way in. It was my CONTRIBUTION. It was like a new fig leaf. (I was reading a bio of the Beatles. The first guitar I pasted on was George Harrison’s Rickenbacker that came from one of those pictures they put in the middle of bios. Inside information.) I think this light bulb went off when I was staying on St. Barts in 2006. Maybe when I was sitting there looking out into the ocean, staring at one of those big-ass cruise ships.

I like iconic images.
I thought the Rasta and the oversized collaged guitar looked like it belonged. It looked as if I knew what I was doing. The two images fused and “married” into one new image and made up a whole new story.



3/27/2014

“Bummer”
That’s a one-word text I received from my friend Collier Schorr just a moment ago when she found out I was “kicked off” Instagram for posting the original photograph of Spiritual America forty-eight hours ago. I forgot that Collier once lived in the apartment where the original photograph once hung. This was back in ’85; the apartment was one of those “railroad” apartments on 12th and Ave. A… In the same building where Allen Ginsberg, Peter Orlovsky, Richard Hell, Rene Ricard, and Luc Sante lived. I had been living there since 1978. I forgot that Collier was “house sitting” and that Spiritual America was hanging in the middle of the long corridor that connected the hallway of the building to the kitchen. The kitchen had a big ass cast iron tub that took up most of the tiny two and half room space. I guess if you wanted to be kind about describing the apartment you might call it “cozy.”

I’ve been “negotiating” with social media for about a year and half. I hooked into Instagram after joining Twitter and found that the platform was mainly good for putting out images that I took with my new iphone. The camera in the phone is pretty easy to use and the store and send options turned the phone into a portable “ready to go” studio. Twitter reminded me of my Birdtalk that I had done back in the early nineties for Purple Magazine. I used to send them two or three pages of “sentences” that were around 140 characters long. A lot of “blabber mouth” I remember. Lyrics, blurbs, ad copy, obits…explanatory text that would accompany magazine photographs. Sometimes I would mix in a joke but mostly the sentences were lifted from books. (The first sentence from a novel was always a favorite). I would just “stack” the sentences. Send in two or three pages of “stacks.” There was no effort to form a narrative. They read like starts and stops off of a ticker tape. Pure “bits” of information. “Headlines” might be an accurate way to describe the quotes. It was a kind of writing that fit my attention span. Abbreviated conversation. The concept wasn’t much different from Twitter. The execution though, the way I would have to communicate with Purple… typing on paper on a typewriter and sending it through the mail? Old hat. Dinosaur. Dark Ages.

Instagram reminded me of the “gang” photos that I did in the mid-eighties. It was like revisiting an older system that I was already familiar with. There was no need to learn a new language. The new transition was seamless and I enjoyed exchanging images with an audience that was both private and public (strangers on a train). What used to take days to accomplish was now fast and immediate. And easy too. You could connect to friends and get instant feedback on what you exchanged. The “friending,” the “likes,” the “comments” were part of a built in process I found, at times, useful. The back and forth speed at which you could send and delete was all about the last ten minutes. The gridding of the images on Instagram was especially satisfying. My “page” really did look like The Velvet Well. Live Free Or Die. Tell Me Everything. Bitches and Bastards. Criminals and Celebrities. These were “titles” to photo “gangs” that I did in 1986 where I would organize nine photos on one huge piece of photo paper. Usually 86 x 48”. I’d cannibalize a life-style magazine… some surfer or motorcycle or heavy metal or hotrod mag and re-photograph the contents… I’d boil “the life and its style” down to a grid of nine images and frame it up and hang the choices on a wall. The “gangs” were like having a whole show of images in one frame. I pretty much found that I could do the same on Instagram… except… the photo paper was an electronic page, the source material was Google, and the re-photography was a screen-save.
This way of “continuing” to deal with all kinds of images (the bombardment)… was right up my alley. I felt like the pioneer that suddenly discovered old time religion… out behind my house, in my own backyard. Mary Baker Eddy? John Smith? L. Ron Hubbard? Maybe. Sort of. Maybe my “page” could be a new religion.

Walt Disney Vs. Mark Zuckerberg.
Zip A Dee Do Da.
The whole Instagram experience felt friendly. All I needed to exercise its “gospel” was my thin pocket size phone. And… and this is the best part… I could do it anywhere, any time, and under any circumstances.

Getting kicked off Instagram for posting Spiritual America was strange and confusing. I felt betrayed. I know there was nothing promised, but I felt cheated. I was happy sharing my work, my snaps, my pics. I enjoyed posting pictures of my own artwork and artworks by other artists. At times it felt like curating. Other times it felt like consulting (The offices of Holzer, Prince, Fend, Fitzgibbons, Nadin and Winters). Other times it felt like a journey, where one image led to another. Once when I was “surfing” Google and typed in the word “maps”… I received images of the Bermuda triangle (a place that’s been described as a giant whirlpool). It wasn’t what I asked for and it wasn’t what I expected. But this unexpected “gift” was something that I recognized and picked up on and “filed” away. I received all kinds of variations of the “area.” Some simply a colored triangle with three points covering the territory, others, just a geometric abstract shape. I felt like Christopher Columbus (“sailed around a sea without a compass”). None of this would of ever happened in 1985. There was no magazine out there called The Bermuda Triangle. Google is a complete set of encyclopedias from A to Z. (Two questions: where do they get all this information? And who provides it all?) Google is Good Revolution.

Pocket Dictionary.
It seemed to me too, that no one owned any of this information (Or even cared for that matter, who it belonged to). It was all there for the taking. And whatever you wanted to organize or filter, was yours for free, (for all). Maybe this excitement was just me experiencing what I used to feel back in the late seventies. (Pirating). Or maybe it was me keeping up to date… going with what I thought was the beat of the times. Asking permission has always been an interruption. Waiting for a green light, always a hassle…
Old dog. New tricks.
My new “shingle” might change from wood to pixels but it’s still going to say, “practicing without a license.”

Spiritual America… a brief background… or maybe not so brief…

The image started out as a news story in the New York Post. This was spring 1983. For a week a story appeared in the Post about how Brooke Shields’s mother didn’t want certain images of her daughter coming out, published in the form of posters. The “posters” in question were being put out by a photographer, Gary Gross, and Shields’s mother had hired powerful lawyers and sent Gross cease and desist orders and threaten to sue him if he tried to “cash in” on her daughter’s “new found fame.” The posters were shots of Brooke Shields semi-naked when she was ten, maybe eleven years old. (Shields was now a freshman, eighteen, and enrolled in Princeton). Gross had taken the shots of Brooke when she was a young unknown child model and had included a couple of the photographs from the “session” in a self-published “brochure” titled “Little Women” that he put out to promote his business. The brochure had been around for eight years and included other “young” models… and it occurred to Gross, that now that Shields had become well-known… maybe he could make a bit of cash off the photographs.
Cut to the chase…
(And it’s literally a chase).
I GOT TO THINKING…
That the photographs the POST was talking about might be the most expensive photographs in the world. (Yes, I know… it was strange thing have entered my head). But what with the lawsuit and the fact that Gross had already paid for the production of the posters and that maybe he was thinking he was sitting on some kind of “gold mine”… I don’t know, the idea of “expensive” was what came to mind. What can I say? It was my first thought about the whole “argument.” And the funny thing was, there were no “pictures” of what they were arguing about. The Post wasn’t publishing any of Gross’s photos of the ten year old Brooke so it was impossible for an interested party like myself to really know what they were fighting over.
This “story” went on for two weeks.
Everyday.
Page two, sometimes page three.
Hard news.
The next step, for me at least, was “to see” what all the fuss was about. Without a visual reference I had no way of telling who was right, who was wrong. Money? Reputation? Who knows what the fuck the “pie” and all it’s “slices” were about. (“Slice of pie” is a quote from one of the stories).
Up to now everything seemed clandestine. Cold war. Paranoid. Skeletons in a closet. Bad penny. I needed a picture instead of words. I needed visual proof.
I needed the pudding.

Kabosh
I called a friend who worked at Art & Commerce, a photo based business that repped commercial and fashion photographers, and asked her if she could get me access to Grosse’s photographs.
She said, “yes… but you can only hold onto the material for eight hours. Meet me at the corner of Prince and West Broadway this evening and get what I’m going to give you back in the morning. And under no circumstances tell anyone who you got this stuff from.”
I followed her instructions.

The meeting on the corner of West Broadway and Prince, under the streetlight, felt a little like a scene out of the Third Man. I felt like Harry Lime. Instead of dealing penicillin I was dealing black-market photographs.
My friend handed me a small publication.
She said that in the “booklet,” were two “examples” of the photographs that Brooke’s mother had put a “gag order” on.
“Sorry there’s not more…it’s all I could get a hold of.”
“You’re the best,” I said.

I went back to my apartment on E.12th St. and hurriedly opened the envelope. The small publication was in fact called… Little Women. And in it, contained several images of young girls made up to look older. (All of the girls were around nine, ten and dressed and styled to look around eighteen). Some of them looked like “tarts.” I didn’t really have much of a reaction paging thru the book. I didn’t understand why Gross would think that these kinds of images would help promote his business. (Then again I didn’t know what business Gross was promoting). I turned the pages and there it was on the second to the last page. There was Brooke standing in a tub completely naked with her arms outstretched like she was Jesus on the cross… her boy body oiled and shiny, with just the tinniest bit of make-up on her cheeks and rouge on her lips. The image hit me. It was “alive.” Where did it come from? Who was its maker? It wasn’t born. It was fully formed. There was no history to the image, no future. Independent and on its own… free from any and all authorship. It was as if the “look” on Brooke’s face knew secrets I would never begin to understand. She knew. What did she know? It didn’t matter. It was enough to know that this photograph knew everything.

She was standing in what looked to be steam. The steam surrounded the lower parts of her body and almost functioned as some kind of airbrush below her navel. There were a couple of Erte sculptures next to the tub. (I would find out later that the gallery that had already published Gross’s posters and wanted to promote and sell the posters, represented by Erte’s estate. And that Brooke’s mother was a customer of this gallery and collected Erte. The connections were getting a little tricky, tangled, and hard to believe).

So this was what they were talking about. That was my second reaction to the photograph. This was what all the “hub-bub” was about. I got it. And of course I agreed. This was a “complicated” photograph. This no longer had anything to do with money or censorship or even embarrassment. For me this photograph had to do with the medium and how the medium can get out of hand. How it can flip-out. Get strange and weird and crazy and exciting. How it can satisfy and become something desired. How an image can take on a life of its own and start to make up its own story.

I re-photographed the image that evening. I opened the “pamphlet,” spread the pages and pinned them to a box that I had built which hung on a wall, and positioned my two forty watt light bulbs on either side of the box and put a roll of tungsten color slide film in my 35mm camera and put the camera on my tri-pod and shot away.

Looking thru the lens, the viewfinder, and cropping out everything but the image is what re-photography is all about. It’s hard to explain the sensation of what you see thru the camera when your looking at another photograph or a flat two-dimensional image that’s on its own page. The camera wraps around what you’re looking at. You almost feel the camera become animated. Like a cartoon. The hardware starts to breathe and think. It’s no longer made out of metal. It’s as if the hardness turns to tissue. Instead of you, it’s the camera that’s alive. The wrapping of the camera OWNS what you’re looking at. I guess I could talk about how the camera, the apparatus, sexualizes what you’re looking at… but even then, it wouldn’t begin to explain the relationship between the eye and what the eye is “covering.” COVERING. That’s the best I can come up with. The best way to describe the process. You start to stare. You get sucked in and have an unlimited amount of time to be “present.” The fact that the image you’re re-photographing is still and sits there silently and doesn’t move gives you the opportunity to stare as long as you like. You can even walk away and come back an hour later and what you see thru the lens is exactly the same as what you saw earlier the first time you looked. There’s no “moment” with re-photography. There’s only focus and what you focus on is guaranteed.

Unlike now, with the iphone, I re-wound the roll of slide film and sent it to my lab the next morning and waited till the afternoon to have the film “developed.” In the mean time I returned Gross’s brochure back to Art & Commerce and thanked my friend. “Did you get what you were looking for?” she asked. “Did I get what I was looking for?”, I asked right back… I said, “Yes, I got it”… not wanting to let on exactly what I got… then added almost involuntarily… “And then some.”

Baiting breath.
The next afternoon...
Removing the slides from their plastic container and spreading them out on the light box is the best part. Re-photography removes the surprise from the equation but there’s always something unexpected, “exciting” about seeing the 35mm chrome in its cardboard mount… it’s like crossing a finishing line or getting to cut a ceremonial ribbon. (It’s the beginning and the end in the same moment). Moving them around on the box with the light underneath the transparency never gets tired and putting them into piles of goods, almosts and exactlys is something I’ve always felt good at doing. (I have to add… I never throw out a slide. I keep every single one. The in and out of focus, the overexposed, the total blur… the ones where only half the image is in the frame, the ones where you say… ahh fuck… that sucks. The ones covered with dust and hairs. The ones that are almost all black and have what looks to be yellow burn at the edge. I keep them all).
I edit pretty quickly and usually arrive at picking the best of the bunch without much of a problem.
The next step is to look at the choice thru a loop… kind of like examining a diamond. I choose what I think will transfer to paper and frame “flawlessly” and slip the slide into tissue and the put the tissue into a plastic sleeve.
I’ve already decided that “this image” of Brooke Shields has to go back to the lab immediately, to be proofed and blown up. I want an 8 x 10” print as soon as possible. (Of course if it was today I’d put “the image” on my computer and I would send it directly to my own ink jet printer and print it immediately).
Lick-it-y split.
(But this isn’t Superfly… this is the Flintstones).

As soon as I get the 8 x 10 back, (usually takes at least forty-eight hours depending on how busy the lab is), I live with the proof for a week and decide… THIS IS THE IMAGE I WANT FOR MY NEXT SHOW. I know it’s the one. The one image I can truly say that I’ve never seen before.

“It’s art instead of nature”
It’s the first thing I say to them after I unwrap the package that’s holding Brooke.
They look confused.
The “they” are the owners of Metro Pictures.

I’m represented by Metro Pictures and have been since they first opened up in 1980. They’ve just moved to a giant space on Greene St. Five times as big as the their first gallery on Mercer. (Five times more overhead). And when I show them the image and explain my idea of showing just this… the 8 x 10” photograph of Brooke Shields on one of their walls of their giant new gallery they look at each other and tell me… well… let’s just say they say, “impossible.”
(I don’t blame them. It’s what I expected. Rejection. I’m actually kind of relieved).

So what do I do now?
The only thing I can do is leave the gallery.
And I mean LEAVE.
I tell them I no longer want to be in the gallery and they agree. (I don’t think it’s a big disappointment for them. At the time nothing was going on for me. And what the art world was into I wasn’t exactly in).

It’s not my time. Wait your turn. That’s what I try telling myself. But of course this doesn’t help. It never does. Waiting around for other people to catch up isn’t something I need or can control. I’m like every other artist. Now is what I want.
Obscurity isn’t something I’m prepared for.
Fuck it.
What am I supposed to do?
Get back in line?
Maybe I’m in the wrong line.

I go back to my apartment and pin the photograph of Brooke to the wall. It belongs to me. I’ve claimed it and as long as it’s on my wall I call it mine.

A late Breakfast At Tiffany’s.

I run into a girl on the street who’s with my friend Robin Winters. (Robin being the reluctant good king artist). Her name is Kimberly Fine. She’s with Robin and her mother and she’s been in town exactly four days. She’s from the mid-west and how she hooked up with Robin I don’t know. But she’s one of those girls. The kind they used to call an “it” girl. She has whatever an “it” girl is supposed to have. That intangible persona of “not minding what is false but missing what is true.” I don’t know… it’s not like she needed to audition. The catbird seat? She kind of was already sitting in it.
She was dressed in an “outfit” that looked like she had worn it from the night before. Hard to describe, but it was like something out of a “wardrobe,” a one time movie dress specifically made for Grace Kelly. (Except for my mother, I don’t think I’d ever been next to a girl who wore a slip).

She’s come to New York to zero in on the art world and by the end of the week she’s added it all up. She’s made the scene. She was already past Patty Astor, Gracie Mansion, Tina L’Hotsky.

We get to know each other.
We hang out.
We visit the Met.
We stand in front of a photograph by Stieglitz.
It’s a photograph of a crotch of a gelded horse.
The horse is harnessed.
The crotch of the horse is cropped tight so that the only thing you see is what used to be the “privates” of the horse. I look at the explanation next to the photo and see that the title says “Spiritual America.”
Spiritual America.
That’s pretty “heavy.”
That’s my initial reaction.
An additional reaction is “come on”… or… REALLY?...“Your kidding, right?”.
No, the title wasn’t kidding.
It says it right there on the wall.
Spiritual America.
It means SOMETHING.
The title isn’t poetry or drift. It wasn’t “made up” by some wordsmith trying get inside your head, making you feel dumb and unfounded.
Dumbfounded?
No.
Stieglitz wouldn’t do that.
Spiritual America sounds PROFOUND.
It also sounds PERFECT.

“That’s what I want to title my new photograph,” I tell Kimberly.
She’s seen the photo of Brooke and agrees.
“Absolutely.”
She tells me the body of the girl in the photograph, (she’s quick to start referring to Brooke as the “girl in the photo”)… is like the beauty of the horse. Her sexuality is “either, or.” She’s “not girl, not boy not child, not adult.” “She’s everything.”

Who do you love?

I ask Kimberly for a favor.
Can I show “the girl” in your apartment and can you act like you’re running a gallery?
Kimberly was subletting a storefront space on Rivington St. just off the Bowery, and when I visited her, I immediately thought that the place would make a good gallery.
“We’ll call the place Spiritual America too.”
The whole thing… the photograph, the gallery, it will all be Spiritual America. (As far as “bearding” for the gallery, Kimberly’s “persona” lit up. After I asked she said, “not only will I front, but I’ll play it like a pro”).

Rivington St. was full of junkies.
It was “even lower” Manhattan.
There were NO galleries around. No hot or cool spots to sit and have a coffee or a beer.
This was the other side of the Bowery.
The east side.
It was dark, dirty, dangerous.
(I would find out three years later, after I left Rivington, that Colin De Land lived right next door. He was squatting in a tenement).

We cleaned up the front of the store… fresh coat of paint, a few more lights, blacked out the windows and printed up an invitation which said… By Richard Prince A Photograph of Brooke Shields by Gary Gross.
(I thought about the wording a lot. I wanted to describe exactly what I was showing).
We printed the description with white letters on a black background. (The card was postcard size). One the back of the card in the upper left hand corner we added the name of the gallery and its address.
We set an opening date in early September. (‘83)
I decided to present the 8 x 10” of Brooke in an oversize matte with a “gold” frame and attach one of those museum lights to the top of the frame. (This light would be the only source of light when the piece went on display. The rest of the gallery would remain dark). I wanted the photograph to look normal. I wanted the presentation to be normal. (Like I said before in a short story... “Normality as the next special effect”). I didn’t think I had to add whistles and bells to the image. The “normalization” would settle down some of the craziness of the subject. It would help guide the image thru some of its initial shock and instead, help plug-in some of that “perfect stuff” I wanted people to see.

We drew up two guests lists. (I still have them). I’m not sure why there were two. Friends? Enemies? I don’t remember. Our “tactics” were partly based on how Malcolm McLaren handled the publicity for the Sex Pistols. Not caring who showed up, or for that matter, if anybody showed up… was right out of the punk impresario’s playbook. We printed up two invitations. We sent out the first invitation with a “wrong” opening date. This first invitation, the one that we sent out to most our “guests,” was dated the night before the show opened. When these guests showed up, the doors were closed. The second invitation, the one with the “right” date, we never sent. So at the real opening, nobody showed up. Or, just as our inspiration (from Malcolm) figured, hardly anybody showed up.
Word of mouth?
If anybody stopped by during the run of the exhibit we gave the invitation away after they stopped. A keepsake. A token. A coupon. Our gratitude. Maybe this is why, even now, I’ve never seen these “invitations” floating out there in the world of collectibles. . It’s ephemera. A throw-a-way. I have one. And I’ve seen another.

Strange days.
We ignored all press requests, (not that there were many to ignore). And we didn’t allow anybody who worked for art magazines to come by and check the show out. (I’m not sure how we recognized these magazine people but mostly we sussed out anybody who had pen and paper and looked like they’d never been below 14th St.) It was a stupid “point of view”… this “attitude” about publicity… but we thought that art was done in private for the private. The truth? I was a snob.

We had a slight problem with lawyers.
Richard Golub, who represented Brooke’s mother, threatened us with a cease and desist order. I didn’t pay much attention to the order. What was he going to sue me for? In 1983 I owned half a stereo.

There was a rumor that Brooke’s mother pulled up to one of the openings in a limo but I can’t say she did. I wasn’t at either opening.
We left the “installation” up for seven, eight weeks?
There wasn’t a single mention of what we did in any newspaper or magazine. (Our sussing worked).
And to my knowledge there’s never been a single photograph of Spiritual America, the space… the opening, the outside, the inside… nothing. I don’t think it occurred to me or Kimberly to “document” the event. I’m not sure why. We just didn’t think about adding another layer.
The lack of documentation is like a joke that keeps on getting told. And in the telling, it changes. I’ve never seen any photo of anything to do with the space and that creates a kind of rarity for me. I have the memory… that’s what I have. Usually I wouldn’t ask, but you’ll just have to take my word for it.

Spiritual America didn’t sell.
After the show I hung the photo back at my apartment.
What really happened as a result of showing the image was fallout.

Blacklist.

I was no longer welcome.
Excommunicated.
The image created tension.
Lines were drawn… over what it meant, what it suggested, what it might or might not represent.
One woman critic who had been a supporter and friend stopped talking to me. She had written an essay for me when I had shown in Lyon at Le Nouveau Musee and told me that showing this image was wrong and that I should take it down and apologize. (I asked her to whom, but like I say, she stopped talking to me). What this image “imagined”… fucked up.

American Place.
For me, the image was about what photography was about. How the medium functioned. What could happen after you take it, shoot it, make an exposure. How you really couldn’t control what a photograph was capable of doing. It wasn’t a painting. It wasn’t an impression. Photography had built in codes, factors. It was, for the most part, non-fiction. It was evidence. You BELIEVED a photograph.

Under An Assumed Name.
This image… this naked girl/boy/woman had all the necessary ingredients to live inside a new world. It was “psychologically hopped up.” It came into this life fully formed. On its own. It didn’t have an author and it didn’t belong to anybody. This one image satisfied all that I had been looking for. It was on a cliff. Existing in a grey dream. It could go either way. It was fluid. It wasn’t part of any group. It didn’t have any affiliation. There was no “school” you could slot it into. An image like this wasn’t supposed to exist.

I think too, the naming it helped define it. Put it in a context and created a circumstance around it, and change it from what it had been in the first place. The name put it in a “second place.” I mean, what was it supposed to be? A poster? And what did I do with it?
I WENT ALL THE WAY.

I eventually gave the 8x10” of Spiritual America to Myer Viceman. Frame and all.
In 1987, after I joined up with Barbara Gladstone, I editioned it. Ten copies and two APs. I had my lab print it on ektacolor paper at 20 x 24”. The first one I sold, was to Stephan, my plumber friend and drummer for the Glenn Branca band. I sold it to him for a hundred dollars and some plumbing work. A couple of years later, I heard he sold that copy to Jay Gorney for four grand. Ten years after that Myer Viceman sold the original 8 x 10” back to Barbara Gladstone for two hundred thousand dollars. Then the 8 x 10” sold to Per Skarsted and later he made a special room for it, (all alone… painted the walls red) and showed it at Art Basel and sold it to Michael Ringier for one million dollars. A couple of years ago Michael lent it to the Tate Modern for some POP show organized by Alison Gingeras and Jack Bankowsky and it was “confiscated” by the London police. The Tate didn’t do much protesting… they caved in to the “authorities” and let them cart it away. It was never re-hung at the Tate and it was eventually returned to Michael Ringier. (Last I heard, Michael lives with Spiritual America in his home outside of Zurich).

About twenty minutes ago my friend Bill Powers sent me the link to a New York magazine story that just came out about my getting kicked off Instagram because I posted the original Spiritual America. I haven’t read the story but no matter how hard I try, I can’t get back on Instagram. I’ve spent the afternoon trying to get back but after a couple of hours of noodling the keys and not remembering passwords, I give up. I’ve heard once they kick you off it’s impossible to get back on. They cut you off. Erase you. You’re gone. Banished. Out of the club. For good.

Three Days Of The Condor.
(For those that aren’t familiar with this movie… its hero survives because he reads books for the CIA. In other words, the hero lives because he has book knowledge).

Three days after I’m sacked, I’m back on Instagram.
Why?
I’m not sure.
I heard the reporter from New York Magazine called Instagram and asked for “a comment” about why they kicked me off. I’m not sure what they told him.

All I know…
I received an email thru my assistant Jane from Instagram and it said:

Hello richardprince4,
It has come to our attention that your account on Instagram has violated our Community Guidelines, which can be found here: http://j.mp/rswUWS
In short, we ask that you:
Don’t share photos that aren’t yours.
Don’t share photos that show nudity or mature content.
Don’t share photos of illegal content.
Don’t share photos that attack an individual or group, or violate our Terms of Use.
We strongly suggest deleting any additional content on your account that may not fall in line with the above guidelines of our Terms of Use:
Instagr.am/legal/terms/.
We value these guidelines, and believe that they will help keep Instagram a safe & fun place for everyone. It is important to note that continuing to violate them may result in a disabled account, or discontinued access to Instagram without warning.
Thanks,
The Instagram Team

The day after receiving the above notice I received an additional notice.

Hi richardprince4,
You may have recently had trouble accessing your Instagram account. We're sorry for the inconvenience, and you should be able to log in now. The issue we were having hasn':t affected your photos.
Thanks,
The Instagram Team


3/12/2014

GLENN O'BRIEN'S "HOW TO BE A MAN" was just published in Argentina. (Spainsh) I read it in English when it first came out a couple of years ago. "I eat politics, I sleep politics, but I don't DRINK politics". If I had to write a single sentence review, that's what I would write. Its one of my favorite books. Don't let the title fool you. Its not "all" etiquette and manners. I'm not sure if he's been on the Bill Maher show but perhaps his TV Party could run concurrent, or be shoe horned right in the middle (HBO listen up)... like the way they put photographs in the middle of a biography. I think Glenn O'Brien should be appointed Art Czar of New York City. Henry Geldzahler... a continuation...

3/11/2014

APAD...
For awhile now the photography show that comes to the 69th St. armory on April 9th has been a snooze. Last year Harper's Books and Fulton Ryder decided to wake the photography association up a little and provide an alternative, so we rented out a couple of rooms at the Lowell Hotel and highlighted what we thought was missing from the "square" fair... namely photography books. We plan to do the same this year. (You have to be a member of the association or get a special invitation to participate in the fair at the armory... neither of which we are... a member... and no, we didn't get invited)...
(It was Harper's idea in the first place to mix up the medicine in a hotel that was close to the king shit photo fair).
This year Karma is coming along to help add some more ingredients to the recipe.
So they'll be three of us... three off off B'way "art" spaces that really don't have much definition. What do we really call ourselves? We mostly operate in a grey area that's somewhere between the art world and the first edition book world. An area that was first put on the map by our late great friend John McWhinnie. (John was there when Harper and Fulton set up shop out in L.A. this past Jan. at the Beverly Hills Hotel, where we took over a small bungalow during the Grammy's. John is always where we are when we're fucking around with zines and punk flyers and saddle stitched stapled self published "festo's"). Speaking for Fulton Ryder... John says, "we don't know what we are... we're like an American Place, where, if you happen to be out walking the dog and your collecting jones starts to scratch your joints and you need to buy a copy of Candy Barr's first and only book of poetry, we're happy to show you one".
What we have in common is a love for photography books. The medium where photography can exist without being on a wall. There's nothing better than a tight correct copy with an unsophisticated dust jacket of the Grove edition of Robert Franks The Americans inscribed to Lucian Carr dated at the time of publication. The one with the Kerouac introduction, the second issue after the Paris edition, which was the true first.
If we do have any independent photo prints we'll spread them out on the beds and you can order up room service. (A guy checks into a hotel and is taken aback by the size of the room. He calls down to the desk and says to manager... "hey, buddy, can you send up a room"?)
We're calling our little fair BPAD for obvious reasons.
Our fair starts when their fair starts.
April 9th, 5pm...
BTHEREBSQUARE

Not to be missed: Fulton Ryder will release Bill Powers "Boat People". Ed of 500, the evening of April 9th at the Lowell Hotel.

3/8/2014

Drop Cloth

I walked into Gagosian on twenty-first street yesterday and didn't expect to be... mesmerized... by Rudolf Stingel's new show of large scale "mountain" painting. But that's what happened. I walked in around eleven thirty and other than the guards, I was the only one there. (I have to say, I like when I'm the only one there). Painting for awhile now has been struggling to become a non-fictive medium. (I know the struggle first hand). A lot of painters have been using the vocabulary of drips and blobs and stains and accidental smudges and what is essentially "the left behind langauge" of what ends up on the floor after a bit of paint falls off their brush as "things" that have true meaning. Things that have definition and can be talked about in a direct way... and not something that use to be "abstract". (Why am I so abstract?)
Some, have even transferred these marks into silkscreens or ink jetted them directly onto cotton duck canvas. What Stingel has done is married a representational image, (a mountain postcard)... faithfully painted it in shades of grey, then fucked up the painting by putting it on the floor and "weatherizing" the image with what I imagine is "wet paint walking". That is to say, he's ignored the mountains pristine beauty and "booted" the peaks and valleys with paint that was once on the bottom of his shoes. The streaks and dashes look like a blizzard that has suddenly materialized out of a meteorologist's wet dream.
If Stingel's paintings were literature you might call them a non-fiction novel.
In Cold Blood.
The GESTURE makes sense.
That's all I can say.
And I don't see many gestures on paintings that make sense.
The gesture is clear, simple, "it works"...and... I wish I had thought of that kind of idea but I didn't... but I'm glad someone else did.

3/4/2014

Stage Fright

I have to speak at the ICP on April 2nd. I need to remain cool calm and collected. The last time I did a solo talk was in Hong Kong... like six, seven years ago. I had an anxiety attack before I stepped up to the podium. I couldn't move. I was physically unable to climb the five stairs that led to the table and seat that I would be sitting behind. I had to tell the moderator to "hold on"... "I need a minute". I had made sure to take some kind of tranquilizer, but its effects didn't put me in the mood I needed to be in to face an audience. I was literally glued to a bench just outside the auditorium, with my hands clutching my knees rocking back and forth feeling like a patient in an insane asylum. Why did I agree to do this was all I could think of. I told my host, "there's no way I can get my ass off this bench". "Is there any possibility that the audience can come out and meet me here in the corridor and maybe I could answer a few questions"?
Now, pretty soon, I have to do it again. Appear in public. And no matter how much I prepare I know the night before I won't sleep and in the morning I'll be tossing around in bed, refusing to get out from under the sheets, whining to my wife about how could she let me agree to get up in front of strangers and try and tell the truth.
Yes, I will blame her. She has kept me away from these situations for seventeen years... guarded me and surrounded me and kept my nose to the grind stone and made me pay attention to the only space that matters, that I can function in, that I feel like a normal human being in... my studio. No one gets in without her say so. By appointment only. And if I do get together with anyone, it's for lunch at the same corner coffee shop in the same booth ordering the same food and I pick up the check.
She say's to me, "Me"? "I didn't tell you to do any "talk". Don't blame me. Your a fucking idiot if you think I had any part of this. This is all on you...(she won't say it to my face but she knows, paranoid psychosis)... leave me the fuck out of it".
She does however have a suggestion...
She tells me to talk about the Magic Castle photographs.
She tells me to start off the talk talking about the photographs I took when I first visited Europe when I was eighteen and then jump right into the new "photomil's" I

BIRDTALK

3/27/2014

Six Inches, Nine Months...

Someone just reminded me about D H Lawrence's paintings. Yea, D.H. painted. They're "adult" paintings and I've always thought that the few that remain are pretty interesting. (The reason there are so few is that he had one exhibition in England during his lifetime and the authorities closed it down on the grounds that it was "pornographic". Sounds familiar. After Lawrence died his relatives were "embarrassed" by the paintings and threw most of them out with the garbage). I just re-read Lady Chatterly's Lover and have to say that I wasn't impressed this time around. If it was a choice between the prose and the paintings... I'd take a painting. There are maybe seventeen paintings left. Most of which reside in New Mexico at some little hacienda near Taos. Who knew right? A lot of "famous" author's "dabbled" in the fine arts. Sylvia Plath. EE Cummings. T.S. Eliot. Even Kerouac. From time to time some of my book dealers call me up and offer me a pastel on paper from one of these author's. But I've never been offered a D H Lawrence. That I would go for. Strange fruit. That's what they remind me off... strange fruit. There's something forbidden about them and I can understand how back then... when he showed them, the authorities had little to say in the matter and had no choice but to shut it down. (Law abiding? Lawrence? I don't think so). Lawrence wasn't some Sunday painter. I'm sure he painted on Sunday but the final result had nothing to do with "the day of rest". In fact the "nuns" in his paintings have their britches hiked up to reveal their swollen vulvas and are pictured fornicating in fields of hay. Tropic of Cancer. Henry Miller. Candy. Terry Southern. Lolita. Nabokov. I've got them all. Every edition. Every permutation. The one thing I have, special, from Lawrence, is a limited edition of Chatterly's Lover. It's signed, in an edition of one hundred copies. The number on my copy? You guessed it... 69. What can I say? The re-read might not of held up this time around... but at least I got the one, the only... the lovely number.

3/23/2014

Untitled

My daughter and I went to the Whitney yesterday. And before going up to the fifth floor to see some of the permanent collection, went downstairs and had a bite to eat in their Untitled restaurant. We'd never been to the Whitney restaurant. We gave our name to the hostess and she told us it would be a twenty minute wait. We sat down on one of the four "daybeds" they have just outside the restaurant and waited. I sat facing a wall looking at framed art work that looked familiar. I got up and walked over for a closer look and recognized the work to be an edition of Dennis Oppenheim "projects". I told my daughter that this was what art looked liked when I arrived in NYC in 1973-74. (At least the kind of art that I was looking at). She said, "really... it doesn't look like art to me". "Are you sure that's what you were looking at"? Good question. I told her it's Avalanche Art. She said, "what's that"? I didn't bother to explain, except to say that a lot of the art that was being done back in the late sixties, early seventies wound up looking like a document. I said come over here and look at this one, the one where Oppenheim is shoveling concentric circles on a snow covered lake... this one is "famous". She said, "famous for what"? I didn't bother to explain "the famous". She sat back down and I loitered in front of the rest of the "documents" until our name was called. I kept thinking about how Oppenheim and the others in his crew (Smithson, Peter Hutchinson, Vito Acconci) used the camera in ways that would directly involved me later. I spent a bit more time in front the document of the guard dogs... the German Sheperds that he used in a fenced off area outside of the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. I remember actually "seeing for myself" that piece. I think around 1970-71? I liked the format of the information. The way Oppenheim "presented" the results. Photos. After photos and "plans" and drawings on a single piece of paper. Schematics. The look of the document was "engineered".
After we sat down... (my seat was such that I still had a direct view over to the wall of Oppenheim documents)... I couldn't help but notice that everybody who walked by the wall where the framed pieces hung, didn't bother to look at them or, if they did, they looked and quickly looked away... as if what they were looking at didn't register or if it did register, what they were registering was something that looked like architectural blueprints that had to do with the new building the Whitney was putting up downtown. It didn't take long before I realized that Dennis Oppenheim "project" pieces were invisible to the majority of the gallery goers. (If they were gallery goers at all). I figured most of the "goers" who were downstairs came down to eat. They were hungry. Looking at art, even Avalanche Art wasn't on the... menu. (that's a resist, no resist).
We finished our lunch and headed upstairs. My daughter made me walk up the five flights. ("No elevator for you Dadee'O"). The first room off the fifth floor staircase was devoted to four paintings by Jasper Johns and a suite of etching he did based on the "four seasons". There was one of his "famous" flag paintings and one of his "famous" targets... this one... all white encaustic. (I've always liked the encaustic "target" paintings). My daughter okayed it... (she was really here to see the O'Keeffe)... and asked what the big deal was about the flag painting. Again... I backed away.
I'm not a teacher, I'm not an educator, I'm not a coach. And I wasn't about to go into why John's "flags" came out of the fifties and whole heartedly represented their time and continue to be looked at and fawned over and talked about. I've alway thought Johns "made" good paintings... I didn't want to talk to my daughter about "construction" and folk art or how I thought the "flags" weren't really paintings... I didn't want to talk to her about "craft"... I mean why bother... she'll see them again, another day... they're permanent...
Anyway... before we went to see the O'Keeffe...
John's painting, the one to the left of the flag... Untitled (1996)... man, what's that about? That's what I kept asking.
My daughter said, "what"?
I said, "what's this about"?
She said, "how should I know, your the one looking at it".
And that was that.
Nothing else to say.
She was right.
I was the one looking at it and I didn't understand a thing about it. Nothing. The painting looked as confused as I was. Seriously, what the fuck? What was this painting doing here? I retreated and caught up with my daughter.
I hate when that happens.
To leave a room of paintings feeling... disloyal. It's not fair.
"Hey wait... wait for me".


3/21/2014

A blonde, brunette and a redhead are in a desert.
The brunette says, "I brought some water so we don't get dehydrated".
The redhead says, "I brought some suntan lotion so we don't get sunburned".
Then the blonde says, "I brought a car door".
The other two girls say, "Why did you bring a car door"?
The blonde says, "So I can roll down the window if it gets hot".

In 1985 I hooked up with a girl who had just broken up with Jean Michel Basquiat. When I went to her apartment she had a large un-stretched canvas of one of his paintings hanging in her living room. I told her if she wanted me to move in with her the painting had to go. I didn't mean she had to get rid of it... just roll it up and put it in the closet.
The next day I came by carrying my clothes and stuff in some kind of garbage bag. The painting wasn't on the wall.
I lived with this girl for a year before having a nervous breakdown and moving out to L.A.
I often wonder what happened to this particular Basquiat painting. I know if I saw it again, I would recognize it.
Of course I was wrong about Basquiat in '85... I couldn't see thru my own concerns and measures and didn't want to give him "nothin"... even the time of day. Was it jealousy? Not really.
I was aware of what he was up to and it was, at the time, the total opposite of what I was thinking about.
I needed to stick to my guns... even if it meant being on the wrong side of what the art world was going on about.
Not giving in. Stubborn. Up against the wall motherfucker.
It was all good.
I use to see him sitting alone in the middle of the Odeon, having dinner by himself. All alone at a table for four. Smack dab in the middle of the place. Out there for all to see. Like he was a parade of one. I thought this "position" was pretty great, pretty cool, pretty "up yours".
This ex-girlfreind of his... I couldn't imagine why she wanted to go out with me.
I was nowhere.
I was lucky to get a seat at the bar.
But she saw something and I think what she saw was this...
The something that I was doing... in the near future... would be the norm...
Not anytime soon. But soon.
Like I said... I was lucky.
I was doing... making, "gangs" in '85.
Taking images from "lifestyle" magazines, rephotographing them and then choosing around nine images from each magazine to represent what the magazine was about.
Surfer magazines. Biker. Humor. Cartoon magazines. Beauty mags. Hotrod mags. It seemed back then every lifestyle had its own magazine. Sometimes several. There must of been twelve magazines out there for the "outlaw" motorcyclist.
If you were "enthusiastic" you had your own magazine.
When I went to the news-stand I'd spend all afternoon picking up the monthly's and taking twenty-five away in a shopping bag. Getting home and opening them up and "paging" thru them was the best part. The anticipation of coming across a photo that I could zero in on and "claim" was exciting. I would "tear-sheet" the image and put it in a pile. After a day of looking I'd have a stack of good ones, great ones and "almosts".
I'd re-photograph the best that night with color slide film... send the film into the lab the next day and by the day after that, empty the boxes of 36 slides out onto the my giant custom-made light box.
I start to shuffle the "chromes" around.
It was kind of like dj'aying images.
The "girlfriends" from the Biker magazine's were the first "gangs".
These were photographs of real girlfriends that the boyfriend would take and send into the magazine and the magazine would then publish... and, I suspect, the boyfriend after seeing his girlfriend in the mag, would then buy the magazine. At least that was one scenario. It sounds it, but it wasn't complicated. The girl next door WAS the girl next door.
I'd pick nine color slides and grid them together and hold them with scotch tap, tapping them together by their paper cardboard mounts.
I'd send in the gird of nine and the photo lab would make an 8X10" inter-negative and then we'd print from that one giant neg and put all nine images on a giant piece of photo paper. Fifty inches wide. Eighty six inches high.
The nine individual images were seamless and measured out to be around 8X10" on the new giant photo. Almost the same size as I originally saw for the first time. The space between each photo would be the space of the original slide mount. Formally, there was very little aesthetic decision. The more formality that was dictated, the better I liked it.
The "gangs" were mounted and framed. It was like having a whole show of a particular subject matter in one frame. Instead of having a whole room of "girlfriends"... I could have a FRAME of girlfriends.
This is the way it worked for me in '85.
I think MY GIRLFRIEND saw this way of working and didn't care if it fit into "what was or wasn't happening" in the art world.
She sided with me, with my "gangs"...
She lived with her Basquiat in her closet.
It wouldn't be to long though, before I'd build my own closet.
"MY PARENTS KEPT ME IN CLOSET. UNTIL I WAS FIFTEEN I THOUGHT I WAS A SUIT.
I made some gang jokes but pretty soon I realized that I needed to paint the jokes. So that's what I did. I found a "subject" that I could paint. I started PAINTING jokes.
She hung one of the first painted jokes in her living room.
It was modest. Not very colorful. The ink in the "screen" of the joke (I remember) quickly faded and cracked.
We broke up soon after I painted it... soon after she hung it.
We broke up because I was always drunk and couldn't ever come to terms with the fact that she wanted to be with me.
Maybe because she believed in me... I never believed her. Or something stupid like that. I don't know. That old Groucho story about any club that would want me as a member. Like I said... I was drunk a lot and the only thing I was focused on was my jokes.
This wouldn't be the last time. The drunk... the focus... the membership...
I'm not sure where that first joke ended up.
I wondered about the next boyfriend.
I knew him.
He was a musician.
A rock'n roll guy.
Maybe he asked to have the joke taken down. Put in the closet. Next to the Basquiat. Side by side. I don't know. It was a hall closet. There were overcoats and boots and an umbrella and a couple of hat boxes and some yellow rain gear to wear when it got nasty out. Like a nor-easter. It was getting pretty crowded in there. That yellow rain-gear. I always wondered about that outfit. I could never figure that one out. It looked like it belonged to someone who worked in a lighthouse from Gloucester Mass.
The Blonde. The Brunette. The Redhead.
That's the joke that might or might not be in the closet next to the 'nor easter...

This last BIRDTALK is an uncorrected excerpt "sketch"... from an ongoing memory or memoir book entitled TELL ME EVERYTHING... a book that I'm trying to put together for or by the year 2018. I have an agent, but I won't sign a contract. Who knows. Maybe I'll just write it ALL OUT HERE.

On a side note about Basquiat: He had the chops... but he also had the subject matter. I think that's the difference. A lot of artists have "chops" but their subject matter more often than not is flimsy... false. It's like they're afraid to admit that they LIKE something. That they're CLOSE to something. They end up with GESTURE. When all is said and done there's nothing true about "what" they're painting. When Basquiat painted Sugar Ray Robinson you believed him.

Another side note about '85, the girlfriend and her apartment: The apartment was on the eleventh floor of a doorman building on Second Ave. and 21st St. Downstairs in one of the storefronts, just before I moved in... (like maybe two days before I moved in)... The World Of Video opened up. This was the first "video" rental store to open in Manhattan. And not only was it IN the building... my new girlfriend had cable TV AND a Betamax and VHS machine hooked into a fairly large Sony TV. (She had this hardware because she'd just started working for Warner Bros. making music videos). I don't know how cutting edge this stuff was, but all I knew now... was I could finally answer the question... Why I Go To The Movies Alone.


3/20/2014

Modest Fury...(After Pete Seeger... or, "With God On My Side", unplugged)
Mullah Mohammed Omar. If you are dead... good. If you are not... you will be.
You destroyed the Giant Buddhas of Bamiyan. Yes I know. The destruction took place over a decade ago. But I have not forgotten this. There is nothing to fear from a pre-Islamic past. This is not the first time an illiterate shit for brains asshole has reduced "graven" images to ashes. (And I understand that it will not be the last). But I just wanted to remind you that in your case... your punishment will never be pardoned. I cremate you everyday.

3/18/2014

My friend Hudson died last week. I loved him and will miss him. In one word... Sphinx.

3/17/2014

Today, Vito Acconci is my favorite artist.

I'm two and half years pregnant.

Washington DC might be the strangest city I've ever been too. (There's no pulse and I wondered if there was anything behind the buildings. They reminded me of false fronts. Like towns that are built on a Hollywood backlot). The first time I visited...in 1971... I was arrested for protesting the Vietnam War. I was put in a bus along with other students and we sat parked, in the middle of an avenue, in a cloud of tear gas. We were then taken to some jail, booked, fingerprinted and photographed, before being released. Somewhere deep in a sub-basement behind one of those buildings there's a manilla folder in a cardboard box with my rap sheet. How do I know this? I don't. I'm guessing. But if I was to bet on it, I believe that some half-ass silver tongue congress man would use this information to keep me from entering the straight world.
This past weekend I spent two and half days in the convention center watching teenage girls from all over the country, (one was my daughter)... playing volleyball. There were THOUSANDS of girls. There was no one demonstrating. It was peaceful. The focus was on competition. On Saturday evening my wife and I took a break from the kids and started to watch the second season of House Of Cards.
(Unless you were part of the Wether Underground...this is the kind of BirdTalk that use to be scribbled into notebooks that were then put away into old wooden hope chests and left up in the attic next to a lot of other crap that no one in anybody's family cared about).

On May 9th I will show a new art piece entitled FRIENDS. Part of the piece will first appear as a page in a national magazine that's been curated by a good friend. The issue has to do with the idea of summer. Or at least that's what I was told. Asked to add a comment about the idea of summer, I came up the thought that summer reminded me of friendship. (It's about the best I could come up with). I don't like "commenting" on what, if anything, my work suggests. Interpretation isn't my strong suit. What I do try and focus on is Title. I've always tried and given my "pieces" the most descriptive titles that I can think of. Before the magazine "went to bed" I quickly added to "friendship"... The Family Stone. The Family Stone referring to Sly... and his hit song in the summer of '69. (I'm not sure if this addition made the deadline). But if it did or didn't, my thoughts on summer should read... Friendship and The Family Stone.

Fulton Ryder is no longer working on the railroad at 75th and Park Ave.


2/12/2014

The Banal Zone
A couple of people out there... people I don't know... have "alerted" me to the fact that somebody, (or bodies)... from China have been re-painting my Canal Zone paintings and are showing them in NYC until Feb. 16th. At the moment I don't know if any of this is true but I've been forwarded "images" of the "repainted" paintings and so far what I've seen doesn't faze me in the least. I mean, how am I suppose to react? My "couldn't care less" position is the only one I can come up with. I'm so tired of what has surrounded this body of work...(the original Canal Zone paintings have been locked up for five years), the only thing I can say to anybody out there who wants to "bandwagon" these paintings is... "good luck". Seriously... why would anyone in China, or for that matter, anyone in any other country, take the time to make "another copy" of works that according to the courts... don't belong to me in the first place? Sure, I got a favorable ruling by three judges on appeal, but they didn't clear all the paintings. There's still "five" paintings that are now back with the original judge... a judge Batts... and she still has the power to tell me to go take a hike. In other words... she can still rule that these five paintings are not "transformative" and thus lock them up again, (throw away the "squaresville key") and throw a very large book at me. (Sometimes I'm not sure the straight world is tricky or just plain stupid).

But aren't I curious about the "Chinese" paintings, my anonymous friends ask? No I'm not. (I'm so far removed from the experience it's like the actual canal of The Canal Zone has been filled in with art world rubble and no longer serves as a passageway for international shipping containers. The only remnants of the colossal earthen scar is an overgrown jungle teaming with giant spiders from Mars).
From what I've seen of The Banal Zone paintings they look worst than some of the paintings I originally painted. You have to understand that when I started out painting my Canal Zone paintings I had no intention of making good paintings. In fact most of them were never finished and the majority were an experiment with new painting techniques. (This is the first time I've gone on the record about this stuff). Anyway... there are a couple of Canal Zone paintings that WERE aggressive and satisfying in ways that's hard to describe... they were done quickly and under the influence of certain music I was listening to at the time... AND... very much part of a "screen play" I was toying around with. They started out as storyboards for a "pitch" called Eden Rock. (You got to start somewhere). They started off innocently enough when I found this Rasta book on vacation and I simply started to use some of the images in the book for collages. (Early on I pasted a guitar over the body of one of the Rasta's, kind of lined it up so that the Rasta looked as if he was "wailing" away... The simple "contribution" of adding the guitar generated enough of a reason to go further with the image. Not unlike when I "added" the "surgical mask" to the face of the nurse). I can't say it more simply. These things happen. There's no plan. No ulterior motive. You go with a feeling. Sometimes you just get lucky. You end up creating your own new kind of history. Wild History.

I can't even begin to articulate what the Chinese paintings... the Banal Zone paintings mean or don't mean.
I'd like to try to put my finger on what they represent but then I'd probably need the rest of the month to figure out exactly how they function as "objects" and what if any, relationship do they have with primary experience.
I'm just going to have to let the theorists and the idea people out there figure that one out.
I'm not Chinese.
In the end I have no ideas. I have no theories. What I do have and always have had, is instinct, passion, and love and the need to see something that I've never seen before. If anything... I'm always in some kind of crisis. If there's a new chimney out there that suddenly appears... I try and see what kind of smoke is smoking out the top.


1/31/2014

It’s all about the last ten minutes.

Captain Morgan and Dunkin Donuts.
Cruise ships and desert islands.
The Bermuda Triangle.
Cesspools and sewage.
Girls who don’t shave. (Under their arms and in between their legs).
Old maps showing the boundaries between West and East Berlin.
Treasure maps too. Cartoon like parchments diagramming where pirates might possibly bury their doubloons.
The Canal Zone. Or what was once the Canal Zone.
Gilligan’s Island.
The Flintstones.
Spy Vs. Spy.
Room dividers and wall-to-wall carpets.
Doilies and needlepoint.
The Mormons and Masons.
Johnny Sheffield
The MC5 and the Stooges.
Wire service photos of people protesting.
The OSS. (Welcome to the CIA. Or… how my parents kept me in a closet… until I was fifteen I thought I was a suit).
Jackie Mason, Jackie Vernon. Jackie Gleason. All the Jacks.
Twizzlers
Yes Twizzlers…
And in no particular order… The Alamo, Zorro, knitting needles, The Hard-On’s, Hogwash, houses in trees, coonskin hats, pull-out couches, UFO’S, girls with freckles and Amazonian girls who look like they could beat the shit out of you.
Paintings by Romaine Brooks and books by Natalie Barney.
Rodeo Cowboys riding bulls and broncos.
Dust jackets with abstract designs are a favorite but for some reason they’re hard to find on the web.
(New Directions copped a lot of their dust jacket designs from mid-thirties Picasso and later, from Le Corbusier). These are the “dusts” I try and look for but as I said, when you fiddle the search engine and type in “Crazy Guggenheim”, there’s either very little feedback or what comes up is Red Skelton all askew.

“I’m leaving on a jet plane.
Don’t know when I’ll be back again”.

Categories.
Apple spells “catagories” with an ‘a’… When Macworld put the new iPhone update through its paces one error came to light immediately. Somebody at Apple couldn’t spell “categories”.

Move over Rover.
What does one of these “listing’s” have to do with another? What is it that strings them together? Is there any way to make sense out of what they might imagine? And why these? Why them? (Why am I selecting plans to build a cesspool)? Are they special? And if they are… then to whom? Maybe they’re nothing. Inconsequential. Who cares, right? EVERYBODY (and his mother) has got a phone full of ideas. “Does anybody really know what time it is”? Why do I even bother?

“I love them all up. I hear them calling. I’m out there on the weekend”. (If this part reminds you of another lyric, you’re right)

Why am I trying to negotiate all this “information”, the data, the photos, the “pics”, all the strum and blather that infiltrates my day, the truth and consequences that come at me like a lost forgotten game show? Why do I try to digest this “weight” and then post the pounds into “grams” and birds?
Am I just lucky? Or do I hope I’m just right?
The continental kit.
The whole she-bang.
What was it Ringo said? “It’s all too much”.
Maybe what I should be saying is, “what the fuck”.

(How do you process burying your younger brother’s body without a head? There are plenty of those “shots” out there too, almost everyday there’s one in the newspaper…but I usually leave that kind of weight to souls whose lives are full of religion and revenge. Let Thomas Hirschhorn sort them out. If he wants to nail these bummers to his store bought mannequins, that’s his business. I’ve read Gramsci’s writings and his phone idea that “reality exists independently of the thinking individual” is just another kind of hegemony. God knows I’ve tried, but the only place I’ve ever been successful at overthrowing anything is in my studio. If you ever get to visit my studio there’s a sign on the door before you enter that say’s…“I eat politics. I sleep politics. But I don’t DRINK politics” That’s about as much of a cultural monument that your going to get out of me).

“I caught you knocking on my cellar door.
I know that some of you don’t understand”.

What counts, what gets in and what’s left out?
What goes down the “pipe” and out into the world?
Filtered and shoved, lifted and scratched … and suddenly the bits and pieces get “clicked” and shazam…they “show up” on my page.
Homemade Homepage.
DJ Trippy Headrin. (Don’t bother… I’ve already “domained” the name).

A whole lot of shuffling going on.
One thing leads to another and the appearance of difference and sameness disappears.
Why pick one instead of another?
What gets chosen? How do they pass?
The few and the far, and… the in-between.
What makes any one of them survive? And for how long? How long will they stay up on the page? (Better pass the acid test because I love to delete. Timberrr… If its up on the grid and then suddenly not, was it ever up at all?)
Answer:
Sure. Maybe. I guess.
The techno out there is so fast that a simple screen save can “grab it”, right away, instantly, and put it out on another page.
Grab-baggin.
Pass it on.
From me to you.
If what was on my page is now on yours, its your problem not mine.

LEFTOVERS.
Maybe that’s the best way to describe it.
To crystal clear it.
The source used to be magazines. All kinds. But print is out, gone dead forever. There’s no place in the world for a salesman selling encyclopedias. Door to door is Google. Snap crackle pop. No heavy lifting. No shelves required. Subscription? What’s a subscription?
(Google is actually an interesting name for what it provides. Twitter on the other hand… embarrassing).

The Shapes Of Things.
I’m a 21st Century shape shifter and my shape is a new kind of Yardbird. (Remember… “bird is the word”).
ShapeShifter is an application enhancer plug-in for Mac OS X developed by Unsanity that allows the user to make system-wide modifications to the appearance of the operating system’s graphical interface by injecting “skins” into running codes… ah… fuck this…

So?
Sew your buttons on.

How does all this cock a doodle doo out there turn shit into cool shit and have the slightest chance for fooling around… even if the “fool” lasts for only ten minutes?
CAN I HAVE YOUR ATTENTION? I know… probably not. (Where’s Sam Kinison’s preacher scream when you need it)?

How does that single grain of sand slip down thru the middle of the pinch of an hourglass and split someone’s mind open? What in the end gets looked at or read or listened to?
How do you come up with an image that forty years after you come up with it… keeps coming up? (Don’t ask me. I wish I knew).
I look at people’s grams and tweets and wonder… “What’s up pussycat”?
Is that true? What I wonder? No, not really… my reaction has nothing to do with cats. I’m trying to simmer down here. Hold steady. Lighten the mood. Temper temper. My deep end is pretty shallow so I don’t want to go off of it and end up cracking open my noggin.

Sorry I have to say this… I can play “this” on the ukulele too… “Regrets, I’ve had a few, but then again, too few to mention”. (I like the Sid Vicious version the best).

The social media…
Seriously… I don’t get it. I have no idea what I’m looking at. Half the time I’m cross-eyed but I still look. How did I get in this position? I think the position is what’s making me cross. The fact that I’m participating. The idea that I think something could come out of this “cluster fuck” of images and text and dervish down and make sense. What am I crazy? Am I really up there with Charlie Manson and asking, “is it hot in here”?
Me? I’m looking for clarity. (Remember: Crystal clear). A conception, and one that’s preferably immaculate.
I know… a tall order…
(Purity is selfish and something that can only be rented).
But at least I’m trying.
Here’s a couple of tries…
“Keep Tryin”, a song by Hikaru Utada. It was released as her 16th Japanese single on February 22, 2006.
Plus I know who wrote Funiculi Funicula. (And no, it wasn’t Soupy Sales).

So where am I looking? Where am I trying to find these gems and stones that are full of “saving grace”?
Well…
I’m looking at anonymous birds and grams from idiots who’ve never listened to a transistor radio and station to station themselves for like-minded half-wits sharing their dumb ass self-portraits and snapshots of what they’re about to eat and their endless unedited happy pappy pics of their furry fucking pets. What did I say? LEFTOVERS.

AND I CAN’T HELP IT.
I’m roped in.
Just like the rest of you. (I’d put a spell on you but I can’t. Why? Because I’m in the casket with Screamin Jay Hawkins).
I’m frozen to my iPhone like it’s some kind of opium pipe. It’s like the sirens of Ulysses have got me thinking that I can actually understand the book.

Fact: James Joyce named his first book of poetry, Chamber Music, after hearing a prostitute relieve herself in a chamber pot.

And I admit it. I’m no fucking different than the ass that I just called an asshole.
I don’t even warm the shit up. I eat it cold. I chow the crap down like burgers and fries and throw it back up like this and like that. The vomit is a mix ‘n match… I X it and O it, like some crazy tic-tac-toe and try to save it with staples and scotch tape.
What’s the word I’m looking for? Regurgitate?
Well… actually no.
There’s another word… something to do with Betty Crocker. I can’t think of it but when I do I’ll rap it out and share and see if it’s followed and liked.


Hold the tongue and hide your eyes…
That’s a bullshit lyric of course but I’m a blacksmith not a wordsmith. (I think the lyric is, “hide your tired eyes”).

It’s a free concert.
Apparently I’m part of an “ilk”.
My lawyer is on the phone applauding me for pixilating my newest version of Spiritual America. Says he thinks they’ll be no problem taking credit for the photo. Asks me the title. “Spiritual America New”.
Or “Now”.
“Which one”, he asks.
“Both”, I say.
“Absolutely”, he says.
“Grain of sand. Crystal clear”.

“To be continued”…
That’s the way to end this bit of birdtalk.
Always was. Always will be.
Continuation.
This is for you Mom…
You remember Mama?
I remember my mother when she was a food demonstrator. At a Stop ‘N Shop in 1955. Just back from the Canal Zone. Settled south of Boston. And she use to stand behind a little folding table wearing a plastic apron handing out “samples” in paper cups.
Marshmallow
Cheese Whiz
Ring Dings
Popsicles
Mayonnaise
Whip cream
Slim Jim’s
Margarine
Kool-Aid
(And in no particular order).

1/24/2014

UNDERNEATH IT ALL
When and if you make an artwork...
Even it's the tiniest ingredient, or a just a hint or a ghost that hardly shows up... what should be in an artwork is the slave in the slave ship and the Jew in the shower on his or her way to the gas chamber.
OR...
"What do we do now that we're happy".

1/12/2014

Jack Abbott. The Belly Of The Beast. Abbott wrote it in jail while serving time for murder. Norman Mailer thought the book, the writing, genius... and lobbied to get Abbott an early parole. Abbott got the early parole and then stabbed a waiter over what he felt was some kind of "slight" from the waiter. (I can't remember the details of the slight and don't remember which restaurant the stabbing took place in. Some restaurant in NYC). The waiter was an aspiring actor. I remember thinking at the time that Norman Mailer should share in the Abbott's "new guilt". What a fucking ass Mailer was. What was he thinking? That art trumped human life? He was up to his eyeballs in crime writing. A couple of steps behind Capote... writing Executioners Song. A fucking gas-bag liberal who didn't give a shit about the life of an innocent waiter/actor. Anyway... that's what I was thinking. I was thinking that it was Mailer who killed the waiter not Abbott. I was pissed at Mailer for getting all busy bodied about a convicted murderer who wrote a "talented book". An expert "artist" with an opinion... and the opinion was an aesthetic one...
This whole "Remembering Abbott" thing came up because of an article that just appeared this weekend in the NY Time magazine. My wife has the magazine and is doing the crossword puzzle... so when I get the mag back I'll finish my thoughts about what triggered this "memory". Hopefully it will touch on some of my "views" about why "artists" should stay the fuck away from people who murder. Yes it's complicated. And yes I should probably take my own advice. And yes I know about forgiveness and redemption and rehabilitation and never having a chance in life. That your marked right from the start. It's a stacked deck. Natural born killer. And that my position about people who murder is a dead-end and probably not worth shit but still... I need to what? What is it that I need to remember...That's what I need to find out...
I'll try finding out tomorrow...

It's tomorrow and I still don't have the magazine. It might of gotten thrown out. According to my wife, Sunday's crossword is the hardest of the week. But basically the story I was referring to, (in the NY Times magazine section) involved an incarcerated inmate who wrote a "detective novel" and sent it to a publisher who was sponsoring a prize for the best "crime story" written by a beginner... someone who hadn't been published... someone who was a "new voice". The inmate had spent most of his adult life in prison for robbery, arson, and murder that he committed along with his brother when they were in their late teens, early twenties. Their plan was to rob a jewelry store and and part of their plan was to set a fire in a building a couple of blocks away so as to "distract" the police while they made off with "the goods". The plan worked except for two things... they got caught the next day and a young woman died in the building that they had set on fire. (Their "big" heist netted them two hundred dollars worth of women's wedding rings). The inmate and his brother pleaded guilty to avoid a death penalty and both are currently serving life sentences.
Long story short: the inmate started working in the prison library... started reading Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett and wrote his own hard-boiled Elmore Leonard/James Elroy type of detective story.
According the article in the Times the inmate found out about a small publishing house giving away prize money for a best new book based on the "hallmarks" of James M Cain or more currently Michael Connelly.
And the winner is...
When the publisher read the manuscript and awarded it the prize ... they or whoever read it had no idea that the manuscript was submitted by an inmate serving a life sentence for murder.
The publisher got in touch with the inmate's sister and sister got in touch with her inmate brother. The prize was his. And the book was published and has recently come out. Because of some new changes in the law the inmate gets to keep the prize money and there's even talk about maybe him getting out... in other words... his life sentence might be commuted due to these "new developments"... these "new circumstances"...
So what I need to find out, what I need to remember is the victim. The girl who died in the fire. The fire that was set by the inmate who planned to rob a jewelry store.
Now... I know the inmate came from a broken home and had all kinds of bad shit happen to him when he was young. (Never had a chance). His mother beat him with a baseball bat. She was a crack or meth head. Makes no difference... she treated him like shit. The inmate had no education and could barely make a living washing dishes. His step-father was no better. In and out of foster homes... often separated from his brother and sister. He had a bad deal. I get it. I'm not ignoring "his circumstances". There's thousands of people who have the same bad deal and get the shit kicked out of them everyday. That's a given. It happens and will continue to happen and there's nothing anybody can do about it. But... and this is where I get confused... am I suppose to applaud the inmate for "recovering" and writing a "spectacular" work of fiction. Sure. Why not. I'm not unsympathetic. It's not like I have to treat everything black and white...But but but... there's always that fucking "but"...
What about the victim?
I'm not going to get fuzzy and do Norman Mailer and lobby to get this guy out of jail. That's none of my business. That's not for me to decide. I don't have the skill, the background, or the expertise to make that kind of judgement. And I'm certainly not going to stick up for the guy just because he wrote a prize winning book. (Maybe the victim's relatives should decide).
Maybe the woman who died in the fire would have written a book. That I can talk about. The inmate "might never of had a chance"... there's a question there... but the woman who died in the fire CERTAINLY didn't have a chance. That's a fact. She died, she's dead, she's gone... and she didn't get to do anything in last forty years that the inmate has gotten to do. Deal? I don't think so.
That's my "position"... right or wrong. And I don't give a fuck because I know I'm right.

1/10/2014

Notes from Budapest...

Being born in the Canal Zone you are referred to as a Zonian. Zonians' are the only people in Central America without racial or linquistic relatives in America. Therefore, they are the loneliest people on the continent. Hopeless solitude feeds creativity. To be a Zonian is to belong to a collective neurosis.

Leo Szilard helped build the atom bomb. He also came up with the idea of preserving peaches in a can in such a way that they would retain the texture and taste of fresh fruit.

Andras Grof who changed his name to Andy Grove... said his primary childhood experience was war, persecution, hiding with false identities, and revolution. Grof or Grove as he became known... founded Intel.

"See you in the concentration camp". Arthur Koestler

Out of 101 photographs taken by Robert Capa on D-Day, (after he landed on Omaha Beach) only 11 survived. Some chucklehead in an English darkroom fucked up the development medicines...

During President Clinton's impeachment hearing in the Monica Lewinsky affair... Clinton reportedly remarked, "I feel like a character in the novel Darkness At Noon". (Arthur Koestler's first book).

Andre Kertesz got pissed off at Beaumont Newhall, a MOMA curator of photography, after Newhall asked Kertesz to "airbrush" the pubic hair from his nudes...

1/8/2014

I oppose the releasing of James Walls, Willie Profit and Samuel Ayala from jail for the home invasion, rape and murder of two mothers in front of their children in 1977. Samuel Ayala is up for parole. I would like to go on record that Ayala should not be paroled.

1/07/2014

Question:
After Jimmy Piersal hit his sixth home run of the 1956 season he ran around the bases...
1. Backwards
2. After touching first base he ran to the dugout and disappeared.
3. He hopscotched around the bases.
4. After rounding third he never touched home base.

Question:
Before Allen Ginsburg read his epic poem Howl at the Sixth Gallery and before it was published by City Lights... Kenneth Rexroth's wife mimeographed the poem.
1. How many copies did she mimeograph?
2. Who did she mimeograph them for?
3. How many copies survive?

Question:
What do the following movies have in common.
The Great Escape. Hard Times. True Romance. Death Wish III. Once Upon A Time In The West.
Hint: He's an actor and only his name was spoken in True Romance.

11/21/2013

Not sure why anybody would want to be popular.
Entertainment Tonight kind of shit.
Paparazzi hanging around.
Always scoping for you.
That has to be a drag.
Do stuff that's a hit parade is kind of cool though...
Maybe once. (If it's an accident).
But the public eye?
Pink eye. Eye sore.
Put a patch on it.
Pirate eye.
Private eye.
Cyclops.
Land of a thousand dances.
Green Onions.
Hand Jive.
I'm call'in shotgun.
Rocky&Bullwinkle Baby...

11/20/2013

"Bring me my damn croissant"... Kanye West

"The Smell Of Us"
That's the name of Larry Clark's new film.
I'm maybe the only person who's seen it.
It will hopefully be out this coming spring.
I went over to his loft and watched a pretty up to date cut on his computer.
It's a fucking masterpiece.
I've never seen anything like it.
Nothing even close.
(I still can't get the scene of the wrinkly old lady trying to seduce her adonis death in Venice like son out of my head).
Fucking crazy.
Larry...
Your a mother fucking crazy beautiful artist.
I've known you most of my adult life.
I don't know how you do it.
I don't know how you go up to these kids and smell their asses.
I'm not sure how they're going to rate your film.
I'm not sure if there's a rating that's been invented to rate it.
And I'm afraid the lack of invention might prohibit the film from being screened.
This film is going to shatter all films that of come before it.
The fucking wheel Larry. The fucking wheel.
That's what you've done.
Motherfucker!
Your like some crazy son of bitch GI Joe on R&R just waiting to get back in the shit. Cept your shit stink so much the waft of it knocks the socks off... Even the shoe is tongue tied. You barefootin... You the bare foot bandit.
Larry, I know your on the way to hospital to get better as I write this.
I'm not in the habit of praying.
But I hope you don't get Warholed.
I know that's what's wigging you out.
But I also know that your in the hands of an excellent surgeon... my friend Dr. Frank Moore.
So Larry... I'm going to make sure you get a couple of extra nurses round the clock 24 hours...my sweet nurses.
You never mind.
Your going to come out of this smelling like roses.

11/14/2013

I went to my followers. They said, "tell us everything". I did. And now they're doing my act.

11/8/2013

Untitled (protest) 2013
I have nothing in common with Andy Warhol except we share the same birthday. Other then that, nothing. I've written about this relationship before. I think what I wrote was published in Art Forum. (You'll just have to look up what issue).
I love and respect Warhol's work but I don't think he would of ever admit publicly that he didn't like something. If he answered at all he would probably just say, "oh, ah.. gee, you know... I don't really know".
Me, on the other hand... I'm angry. And I'm not sure why. I've spent years on the couch and it gets me nowhere. I've also suddenly realized that some aspects of the social media is like having a "giant" psychiatrist. ( I went to see my followers. They said, "Tell us everything." I did. And now they're doing my act.
Long story short...
There's a lot I don't like. And...
I can't keep my mouth shut about what I don't like.
I'm not one of those artists who need to make friends.
I'm not one of those artists who need to be loved, be invited, treated special, fawned over, surrounded or isolated like like a V.I.P.
Frankly, I don't respond to sources outside my control. And I'm certainly not going to kiss someones ass just because they appear to be on my side.
The paramount concern is not to care. (T.E. Lawrence said that and look where that got him).
Positive? Negative? No matter. I'm going to wake up and do what the fuck I want without guilt, permission, or fear. "Stop the world, I want to get off"? (I got off the world a long time ago).
Protest.
I protest.
(I even paint the protest).
But before I protest...
Let me tell you a couple of things that I like...right now... recent stuff...
I like Rachel Kushner's new book The Flamethrowers.
I like David Salle's show up now at Skarstedt's.
I like Blair Thurman's show on the lower east side.
I like Tony Cox's show on Broome.
I like Dan Colen's show in Scotland.
And of course I like Christopher Wool's show at the Gugg.
The Kandinsky show at The Neue Gallery is great.
For some strange reason, (at the moment) I really like Chagall. I can't explain why. I've never really thought about him much, but his show at The Jewish Museum made me think about him a little more. (I feel the same way about Henry Moore. Never thought about him much but have recently been checking him out).
But who wants to hear about what I like?
Right?
I know I don't.
I have a shit list.
And right now that list includes...
Chinese art. Contemporary Chinese art. All contemporary Chinese art. I don't get it. It's not even mediocre Avalanche Art. I mean what the fuck do they think they're doing? Making art for art fairs...? (Go Miami). The guy who does those paintings of people smiling? The Chinese government should put him a fucking jail cell.
Listen I know.
Calm down.
Who am I to rant and rave about some Chinese artist who isn't hurting a fly.
I should be more encouraging.
Sympathetic.
"Best of luck"... that's what I should be saying... "don't let me interfere with your good revolution".
But I can't.
(It's not the fly I'm thinking about).
I can't sit still and take one for the team.
I can't tank.
I can't take a dive.
I can't throw the game or be a "beard".
The fact is... art is all I've got. And when I see bad art it hurts.
A collector invites me into their home and wants to show me something they've just gotten a hold of... and there it is... up on the wall... and what does it look like? "Death".
Don't they know that what they just invited me over to see fucked me up?
I wish they would know...
When I look up on that wall of theirs and stand there and stare, the life goes out of me.

More shit list.
(And this isn't even fair).
Art Forum. It sucks. It's like falling into quicksand. Okay your ads are all right and yes, you did write about Liz Larner, (finally) but that's about it. Who are you writing for? Posers and phony's... Better question... what are you trying to hide? I need a fucking dictionary or some CIA cipher to decode the shop talk. It's like your language is Hungarian or Morse Code. (Take my SOS... please). Fucking relax will you? ("Check out the big brain on Brad"). I grew up around Masons and Christian Scientists. I already know the secret handshake.

Art News... the worst. I just read a review of my work in the your magazine and you said good things about it. Good Things! Do you know how that made me feel? Terrible. At least in the past you ignored what I did and when and if you said anything at all you dismissed my work in a sentence or two, describing it as "awful" and "not worth a second look". Stick with the insults and I'll take you off the list.

Art Review...you couldn't judge a fruit cocktail. I hate your power lists. Ranking? What are you, in the fifth fucking grade? Luckily your in London or I'd come over there and Three Stooge your knuckle-headed domes together. I use to be on your list and now I'm not and I'm thankful for not being included. Your fucking list is moronic and embarrassing. It's straight up gas-bag gossip... and... it gives me the creeps. And if you ever put me on again and I will sue your stupid asses for as much as the law allows. The fact that there's not one political cartoonist in your cross hairs goes to show how little you understand how the power of art really works.
Fight the power.
Your idea of power is inconsequential to someone like me. The only reason you exist is because the lights are on in my studio. I have fucking valet parking in front of my studio. That's fucking power assholes.

Frieze Art Magazine, (for the life of me I open it up and I have no idea what I'm looking at). Your magazine is confusing. The graphics are all over the place. I'm not sure if I'm looking at an ad or an article. Way to much video and sound art. Artists aren't good with video and sound. Charlie Fucking Bronson and Burl Ives. They're good with video and sound. Write articles about them. Artists aren't professionals. We like pencil and paper. We're loners and lazy and anti-social and try to get away with as much as we can. I can hardly plug in my Apple.

ArtInfo.Com... There's no information worth reading on your stupid ass site and yes I realize you fucking idiots sometimes follow what I say and sometimes even re-publish my blather and crap, ( I would hope by now you would come to realize that it's Bird Talk)... but I'm not going to shut up just because you continue to exist. (Just to let you know... I hope you fuck off and die and go out of business and leave the art world to me. Why me? Because I am the fucking art world).

I'm going to end now... it's getting late... I'll be back, crapping out...in a couple of days. This is just the beginning...or the end... either way... I could give a shit. Beginning, end, middle... who the fuck cares? My soap box is made out of bubbles and suds.
Quickly...
Memo to all my relatives: Leave me the fuck alone. I don't owe any of you a thing.

One more thing…
I'm suppose to be a Sphinx when it comes to the auctions.
I'm suppose to "kowtow".
I'm not even sure what kowtow means, but I think it has to do with getting fucked and hammered.

10/3/2013

HALF MAST (an essay I wrote to be included in the the upcoming catalogue of Protest Paintings at Per Skarstedt's in London opening this Oct. 15th

Half Mast...an excerpt from “Tell Me Everything”, a memoir I’m writing…something that probably won’t see the light of day… but who knows? First I have to deal with trying to get thru the next twenty years to even finish the fucker…

1970? (I’m bad with dates)… I’m a junior in college… avoiding the draft, in Springvale Maine. The college is Nasson College… a real shit hole, mostly for losers who couldn’t get accepted anywhere else or kids who barely got out of high school and just decided not to apply to other colleges because they were too lazy to leave their neighborhood and comfort of their own bedrooms. (I'm one of the losers, not one of the local lazies)...AND I’ve discovered since I’ve been hiding out there, an amazing small art program located “off-campus” in a carriage house that I’ve managed to work my way into and make sense out of and take advantage of and help turn me onto the side effects of something that I can hardly believe... art.
But then this happened…
I kind of got tripped up and found myself outside of what had become my small private art world on May 4th 1970.
What tripped me up?
Kent State.
Everybody was freaking out about the Kent State shootings. I had pretty much stayed away from any political commitment. I had grown tired of hippies protesting the war and then coming home after the protest at 4:30 in the afternoon to listen to their Neil Young albums. (Never trust a hippie).
I didn’t give a shit about what the government was trying to put down. For me, I had already come around to thinking Gauguin’s paintings were a political statement. Painting beauty was where it was at. I mean… can anybody tell me who the president of France was when Gauguin was off painting his beautiful paintings in Tahiti? I thought so…
But the Kent State shootings were different. That got to me. The shootings pissed me off and I found myself wandering around the campus trying to come to terms with the murder. Nixon and Agnew were shitheads and already dead people to me. I really thought they were going to try to stage some kind of coup and take over the government. I was ready to pack it up and retreat to the upper parts of the Adirondacks… put a hold on “beauty” and work out and get in shape, stockpile supplies, turn on the ham radio, do some reconnaissance, get camouflaged and ambush, (hit and run)… and guerrilla the shit out of the republican army.
Instead…
After more wandering I found myself sitting on the stone wall that surrounded the flagpole which was planted in the middle of the campus. I’m not sure why, but I decided to lower the flag to half-mast. It was a spontaneous action. There was no thought to the gesture. It was probably just that… a gesture. A way of coping with the murdered students. I don’t know. It seemed like something that needed to be done. There was no one around and I just got up and did it. I untangled the rope that was fixed to the cleat and lowered the stars and stripes. What did I know about patriotism? The only thing I knew about flags was that Jasper Johns painted them.

What happen next was surprising, maybe even bizarre. Students started coming out of their dorms and came over to the “quad” and stood there… silently. More came. In a minute or two it seemed like the whole student body showed up. It was like a congregation standing still with heads bowed down. I half expected them to get down on their knees and start praying. What was it I had just done?
The campus police showed up and then the real police. Officials from the administration arrived. The president of the college was called. (“The vice-presidents gone mad. When? Last night. Where? Downtown. Gee, that’s to bad”… Just so you know that’s not me, that’s Dylan from the Basement Tapes)
The police asked who lowered the flag. I said, “I did”. (I wasn’t fingered, I volunteered the information).
I was told to “come with us”.
I was escorted to the president’s office and questioned by the president himself.
He seemed like the kind of guy that would rather be off campus somewhere doing anything but running the day to day affairs of a college. He was the definition of a dick.
This was a “hassle” for him. What I did was apparently confusing to him. I don’t think anybody knew if what I did was exactly against the law. But what I did wasn’t something I was told I should “get away with”.
The taking over of “our flag” was against the rules. And if it wasn’t it should be. “Private property.” “Off-limits”…”Son, there are some things you just don’t touch.”
He was struggling to make me see that what I did was something that I shouldn’t have done. His struggle was useless. What I had done had nothing to do with his “god and country”. I could give a shit about his god, his country.
He asked me again why I did it.
I sat there, silent.
He spoke.
“Don’t you know that a flag at half mast means honoring the dead.” “It fucking stands for something”. (I don’t know if he used the word “fucking”…but he was clearly upset and was trying to rattle me with his outrage). He started babbling on about the “state of affairs”.
“dignity” and “national mourning”.
I wanted to say your talking to the wrong guy about “regulations” “respect” and “good government bullshit”…but I kept my mouth shut. I should of quoted Marcel Duchamp… “Can one make art that is not a work of art”? I should have buzzed him with some jive and rap from Lord Buckley… messed his mind and shined his eyes… but I was way to new and uniformed to think about “indifference” or be defined as “meta-ironic”. (Shit… I don’t think I even knew who Duchamp or Lord Buckley was).
I just wanted to split and get my ass out of the big wooden chair they had me sitting in and get back to the art studio and disappear and blend in.
Instead I was hauled down to the Sanford police station, arrested, fingerprinted, and had my mug shot taken. I was put in a jail cell with other scumbags, lowlifes and wankers. I tried to keep my chin up. I kept singing to myself the lyrics to Arlo Guthrie’s Alice’s Restaurant. (“You can get anything you want at Alice’s Restaurant”).
My arrest warrant stated that I had “interfered with government property”. In other words they didn’t know what the fuck I did.
While in custody I heard from one of the police officers that the campus was on “lockdown” and that there were a “good number” of students trashing their dorm rooms.
“There’s a riot going on”.
I was being referred to as “the ring leader”.
Is this some kind of joke?
That’s what went thru my mind.
I didn’t want to lead anything.
(Even back then collaboration gave me a stomachache. I was a loner. Anti-social. To me that Three Dog Night song about the “number one” being lonely was wrong.

I made bail and scrammed. I didn’t even make it back to the parking lot of the campus. I avoided any applause and pats on the back and made it over the border to New Hampshire and phoned an uncle who was a janitor at UNH and camped in his garage and tried to make sense of the sudden glare of the limelight.
(Recognition can sometimes be the anti-Christ).

New Hampshire.
Live Free Or Die.
That’s what it said on the states license plate.
(I was thinking maybe I’d be making them soon).
I was still pretty much shaken up by the National Guard opening up on innocent civilians who thought they had inalienable rights. The picture of the woman kneeling next to a student’s dead body with her arms and hands outstretched would soon be seared into my senses and become one of the icons of that terrible afternoon.
Way to go Ohio.

I needed to find a way to bring the flag all the way down.
All the way would mean finding my own beauty, on my own island.
Maybe I should check out Manhattan. There’s a place there called Soho. South of Houston. I’d read about it in the magazine section of the NY Times. About how a crappy industrial neighborhood full of burned out cast iron buildings (lofts) was suddenly taken over by “squatters and creative types”. The picture accompanying the article showed two girls and a guy outside of a restaurant they “cobbled together”. The name of the restaurant they were standing in front of was called Food. That was it. Simple, direct. Almost a no name. Maybe I could start there. Go down for three months and check out all the hullabaloo… sign up under a different Uncle Sam.
I’d have to ignore my parole and jump bail. I’d be a minor fugitive…wanted or “almost” wanted… a small time hood. But the numbers where on my side. New York was a big place… a “melting pot”… a place an artist could get lost in and start over. Take on a new identity, a fresh start, a clean slate. “I never had a penny to my name, so I changed my name”.
So that’s what I’ll do.
I’ll go and paint the protest.


Walter Dahn

THE DAY THE ART DIED (catalogue essay for a show of Walter's work I curated for Venus Over Manhattan that opened Sept. 12th)

I don’t know if I can but here goes. One Two Three Four.
How can I describe a Walter Dahn work? Maybe by describing “96 Tears”…an early sixties song that was recorded in one take into a radio mic on a hit parade show in a radio station somewhere up in Bay City Michigan by a band that called themselves Question Mark and the Mysterians. A song every kid with a new Harmony guitar first started to play after they could finger two chords and then tried to figure out what the fuck Question Mark was singing about. Sometimes stupid shit turns into cool shit and cool shit makes you “glad all over”.

I’m not sure when we went to Coney Island. The late 80’s? Walter wanted to shoot some super-8 so we got on the subway and took it all the way out. This was when the subway was still covered in graffiti. Walter liked American graffiti. He liked American rock ‘n’ roll too. He grew up listening to it on Armed Services Radio in Germany. On the trip out to Coney Island he carried with him a transistor radio with an attachment that he placed in his ear so he could listen to the transmission privately. It wasn’t headphones. It was a single wire that plugged into the ear. It looked like half a hearing aid. Walter was the coolest artist I knew.
It was the middle of winter when we went. Walking on the boardwalk was freezing. Walter had a girlfriend along. I was alone. (Walter always had a girlfriend). I was kind of the third wheel. I made believe I was Harry Lime, the Orson Wells character in the Third Man. Instead of black-marketing penicillin I had pockets full of speed. Walter shot his girlfriend and me like we were in a Roger Corman film. The closed up amusement rides and the absence of people made for interesting backgrounds. The only sound was an occasional gull, some wind and the flapping of torn pennant shaped flags that seemed like a leftover message from a scene straight out of the movie On The Beach. It was like his shooting anticipated one of his silkscreens. The girl and me were superimposed on all the different configurations of the shuttered “amusements”. The canvas covered rides and closed down games of chance on the mid-way were married onto our bodies.
Walter had left behind his days of spray paint and used silkscreen to hurry along the process of making images. Silkscreen was a dead medium and Walter wanted to add its deadness to the way he “Americanized” found images. The final result was never large or grandiose or shouted out or called attention to itself. The results were “throw-a-ways”. “One offs”. Works that he would drop on the floor and let lay there for days at time. At the end of the month his studio floor would be carpeted with the built up softness of layered paper and canvas. It was like walking on his own homemade magic carpet ride.
Walter didn’t need to prove to anyone that what he made was good. It didn’t matter to him what people thought. Good Bad Indifferent. Walter was a natural. Just like Howlin Wolf. Just like Junior Wells and James Cotton. Just like Buddy Guy. Just like all his American “unsung” heroes. Walter was unsung too. “Don’t matter if you know my name”, he’d say… “a piece of paper and a pencil is all I need. I can play the guitar with one string”.

Walter’s band was named The Jewels. (He’d also played in a band called Slinky Gym School… something to do with climbing a rope…but I don’t know anything about that one). Straight ahead rock’ n roll. Hand to hand. More limitations. The band gave him a wedge. An option. Provided a release. Something physical. Another kind of sensation. Slurping guitars, messed up and tangled. A real dead-end. It wasn’t like he needed another end. The un-need was an extra layer… a “coating” that got rotated in after a day in the studio. Cologne After Dark. Jeff Beck instead of Joseph Beuys.

Nothing Fancy.

Walter Dahn, born in Kerfeld, Germany 1954. Might have been the year Elvis walked into Sun Studios. Walter would know. He was listening to Little Walter when I was listening to Little Richard.
“Conceptual Painter”. That’s what he called himself. Lives and works in Cologne. If Wallace Berman and Jack Smith were alive they could all hook up to a parade and make a float. Maybe it’s better not to think about what could have been… just introduce him to Ed Ruscha and screen Sunset Blvd.

Is this really the fourth time around? Someone just reminded me I did an interview with Walter for something called The Journal of Contemporary Art. The interview was published but I’m not sure when. Never saw it. They s

TELL ME EVERYTHING

I went to a psychiatrist. He said, "Tell me everything.” I did. And now he's doing my act.

I was born in the Panama Canal Zone, August 6th 1949. The same year that George Orwell came out with his novel Nineteen Eighty-Four. In 2004 I bought a copy of Orwell's novel at Christie's at the Rechler sale. What I bought was a trial "file" copy... probably some editor's copy, with a brown dust jacket with the title penciled on the jacket as just a date...1984. Maybe a unique copy. Hard to tell. File copies of most published books have always been altered a bit by an "in house" reader... many treated like a student's textbook... This copy of Nineteen Eighty-Four looked like it had a brown bag wrapped around it. Like someone was going to take it outside, sit on a stoop, tip it up, hold it to their lips, and drink down what was inside. In 1949 Big Brother was the secret word.


Spy Vs. Spy
I was in the Canal Zone because my parents worked for the OSS. The OSS would soon turn into the CIA. My parents were spooks. My mother told me she used to hide in people's closets. I always thought she was messing with me. Pulling my leg. I could never decide what to believe. Was she joking? (My parents kept me in a closet. For the first fifteen years of my life I thought I was a suit). Right from the beginning it was always hard to tell the truth.

From Russia With Love
I remember a house on stilts. A sidewalk. Really stiff grass. (It hurt when I crawled on it). And bugs. Big bugs. If one got in a shoe, the shoe would move across the room. There's not much else unless I watch the home movies my father use to shoot. I'm not sure if you can remember anything before you're five. Maybe even six. I know I don't. If I didn't have those home movies I wouldn't believe I was from Panama. In one of the movies there's a guy called Uncle Ian. He's holding a long silver stem with a cigarette attached to the end. Turns out that Uncle Ian was Ian Fleming. The creator of James Bond. My mother says she knew him from her time working for Joseph Kennedy in London just after World War Two. They reconnected in Jamaica where Fleming owned a large property called Golden Eye. I was at the "Eye" when I was four. If I try to regress there's something about being underwater. The memory of the "being" isn't really clear. Maybe this is where I get my attachment for desert island cartoons. Fleming's first book Casino Royale was published in 1952. It's hard to find in decent condition. A fine copy goes for four figures. I've got an inscribed copy to Alan Turing. The guy who helped break the enigma code and enable the British Navy to keep up with the whereabouts of Nazi submarines. When books are inscribed to friends or family, fellow authors or well known people... they're called "association" copies. There are degrees of associations. If you got the one that's inscribed to the person the book is dedicated to... you've got the top, the best, the one and only. To the mother or father, son, daughter... the second best. Premium association copies are what book collectors are after. I like to think of my Casino Royale copy as something that might or might not exist. You've heard about it, but you don't believe it. I mean really... from Ian Fleming to guy who broke the enigma code...?


Citizen Kane
Americans who were born in Panama are called Zonians. To be described this way is like the word itself... other worldly. Sometimes when people ask me where I'm from I say... "Not from anywhere really.” Then they say, "What...born in a balloon"?

Fenway Park
In 1954 we moved to Braintree, Mass. To a development built by the Campenelli Brothers. Peach was the name of the street. It was a dirt road and it was a dead-end. There were around thirty houses pretty much looking all the same. Single story, three and four bedrooms, living room and fireplace... separate dining room, shiny new kitchen. Lots of Formica, a new finishing surface that was something between wood and plastic. The selling point was the "den." Never the library, always the den. A finished basement and a two car garage that for many of these "stylized ranchers" was never really completed. When most of these "add-ons" got finished they were customized by the husbands. A lot of them turned into mini-social clubs. The electric door could be opened by a new "fangled" appliance called a "remote." (Husbands would always be showing you their remote). Wet bars and lawn chairs and a new kind of carpeting called "astro-turf" decorated these outside additions. The "guys" would sit around Saturday afternoons and drink beer and talk about baseball. Always the Redsox. Mostly about Jimmy Piersall. The new right fielder. He was different. Strange. He was described as "off." Unstable was another description. He once hit a home run and went to third base, then second, then first, then home. In other words, he ran around the bases backwards. He went the "wrong-way." He was my favorite player. The first "celebrity" that acted unconnected and went out of his way to make-up his own rules. As a ballplayer he only lasted a couple of years and then when he left, checked into a mental hospital. They put him in a straight-jacket. When he came out he worked for the big super market Stop & Shop. He was some kind of executive promoting products like marshmallows, cool whip, and margarine. Products from "outer space." They called them "substitutes." My mother ended up working for his company as a food demonstrator. She would dress up like June Cleaver and stand behind a little folding table and try to hand you a piece of beef jerky. She always kept Kool-aid in small paper cups... "doctor's" cups... just in case you didn't like the taste and flavors of what she was trying to demonstrate. She said the "refreshment" was her contribution, her "brain child" to the job. Okay. If that's what you say. I just turned six so it's not like I'm in a position to beg and differ and congratulate. (What the fuck do I know about "contribution"). I always thought the fact that she ended up working for Jimmy Piersall bizarre, troubling, but at the same time par for the course. (I think uncanny would be a good description, but I don't think I would of known what inexplicable meant back then).
My mother didn't believe in psychiatry. She didn't believe in medicine in general. She dabbled in Christian Science. And was a follower of Mary Baker Eddy. (Mary turns out was the one needing institutionalizing). My mother and Jimmy Piersall. Perfect sense when you're a kid. Later Hollywood would make a movie about Piersall's life. "Fear Strikes Out." It starred Tony Perkins. Tony Perkins would later play the lead in the movie Psycho. In the end of that movie when he appears at the top of the stairs dressed up like his dead mother... scared the shit out of everybody. Perkins playing Piersall. My mother working for Jimmy. Perkins cross-dressing under that bird's nest of a wig. Piersall taking a lead off first base and turning around to face right field, his ass to the pitcher. My mother handing out dosages of Kool-Aid and Lemon Fizz. See where I'm going? And this started happing to me when I was six when everything was brand new.

Sister Ray
We had a sister. Susan. I say we, because my mother had seven miscarriages and never let us forget them. One actually died in her womb and she had to bring it to term and then bury it. My mother had lost her mother when her mother had my uncle Bob. My mother was twelve when this happened and she basically raised her brother. My mother never let us forget this either. I think losing her mother when she was a pre-teen turned her cold, bitter, distant. When I paint that joke about the guy asking his mother to please pass the butter and instead he says "you fucking bitch you ruined my life"... the expression of that joke when I paint it, is part of the reality of our relationship. It's no joke. The "ruin" part is the amount of guilt I have. I feel like I owe her. What do I owe her? I owe her seven babies.

"When I was just a young boy."
Some of the things that stand out about Peach Street. The road was dirt. That's how new the development was. Our first dog was run over and we buried her in the backyard. The dog was new, a puppy. She was hit by an ice cream truck. The kind that comes around late on summer afternoons. There was always that ding- dong pre-school tune coming out of its loudspeaker. In 1985 I would hire a Mr. Softee and park it outside the Guggenheim and film myself getting a cone with a swirl that resembled the shape of the museum. MTV would use the footage for one of its promos. Instead of me talking I had a dog barking for my voice. My shrink at the time asked me about why I wanted to have my voice sound like a dog. I told him puppy love.
I was sick a lot and missed most of the second and third grades. I hardly ate and had headaches and sucked my thumb so it was easy to get colds and fevers when I forgot to wash my hands and put that thumb in my mouth still dirty and covered with germs. (Germs was big word in the early fifties. The word always came at you in 3-D. They would throw it at you like a sinkerball. I would continue to suck my thumb until I was forty-two. I swear to fucking Christ. What can I say? Proud of it...The minute I stopped sucking I stopped getting colds).
I was born with a cleft palate. A deviated septum. I'm not sure why you get them. They're called "hair-lips." They're somehow associated with a German family, the Hapsburgs. They're also associated with being a hillbilly, kissing cousins, and Appalachia. I thought I looked contaminated. Like I was tested deep in Nevada at a proving ground. For a long time I felt retarded. I was never going to be Ricky Nelson. My relatives treated me like one of the Stooges. Do you ever get use to the way you look? If you have a scar that runs down your face like a river I don't think so. When there's something you hate and you can't change it, you change the hate. Eventually I would come to terms with the beautiful scar on my head. It became a censor. It stopped me from finding the spotlight. It helped keep me in the background. I would never run for class president. I would never join the Army. I would never make friends with my congressman. I would never become a Senatorial aid. I would never become an asshole.

Anti-social, Guarded and Suspicious
When I turned eight I started to pay attention to my bedroom. I use to re-arrange the furniture once a week. I once tried moving my bed and made it "kitty-corner." I was always asking my mother to buy real plants and flowers instead of the plastic kind. I would vacuum the wall-to-wall carpet three times a week. I became obsessed with the pattern I could create by crisscrossing it with the vacuum so it resembled the checkerboard of an infield. We had nothing on the walls except someone else's wallpaper. One day my father hung a painting. That's what I settled for... one painting. A reproduction of an exotic yacht surrounded by an abandoned beach and palm trees. This would be the only picture to hang in any of our houses. It was purchased in Panama and it moved with us each time my father would change jobs. Even today I know where this painting is. It's completely worthless except that it's probably the painting that I know and love and hate the most.

I never had a penny to my name, so I changed my name.
My mother and father were impossible with money. It's not like they really had any. They were always siting the effects of the "great depression." I always got the "when I was a boy" speech. If we spent a summer weekend out on Cape Cod we'd always stay in one of those motels that was described as a "motor court." I use to beg them... "Can we stay at one that has a pool? Please? Just once?" Never happened. It didn't take me long to figure out that we were broke. "You want water...go to the beach." That's what they would say. It would take even longer, but eventually I would figure in "cheap" right after the broke.


"They say I shot a man named Lee
And took his wife to Italy
She inherited a million bucks
And when she died it came to me
I can't help it if I'm lucky."
I painted that joke I NEVER HAD A PENNY TO MY NAME, SO I CHANGED MY NAME... in 1987, just after I moved out of the back of the 303 Gallery on Park Ave. South. I moved down to Reade St. in Tribeca and rented a loft just above an electrical supply store and got to work silk-screening my new found subject matter on paper and canvas. I used two panels stretched with canvas to stencil the "name" joke on... thinking that the divide or crease between the two panels when butted up against each other could function as the comma in the joke. I used disappearing ink when I silkscreened the joke. I sold the joke. The collector paid me fifteen grand. Serious coin. The joke part of the painting vanished. Just like it was supposed to. It left a white "ghost" behind. You could still read the joke, but the color that it had been silkscreened with, had gone "into thin air."
At the time I had friends who were punk rockers and hip hop rappers and porn stars and they all changed their names.
The sale from the joke was the most money I had seen in my life. The money was good because I wasn't a rocker and I wasn't a rapper and I wasn't a porn star. And yes, you guessed it...I kept my name.

Johnny Sheffield, boy Tarzan
One winter on Peach Street we had a chimney fire. Shitty construction. Half of our house burned down. There was always some kind of break down in the houses in our development. Foundations cracked. Siding turned green. Cesspools overflowed. Appliances shorted out. Basements filled with water. Windowpanes turned pink. Strange stuff. Suburban stuff. A lot of the lawns were seeded with chemicals. Sometimes I think Peach Street is where cancer was introduced. Anyway our fire...
My grandfather, in the town over, in Milton, was the retired chief of the fire department. He lived in the back of the fire station in a red house. When there was a fire in his neighborhood, his area, his "vicinity"... bells would go off in his kitchen and tell him the exact address of where the fire was. That's how he knew and that's why he showed up that night at our house on Peach Street. His kitchen bells told him.

After he retired he got old fast and lost his hearing and spent most of his time playing with the rabbit ears on top of his television, trying to get the snow and fuzz to mix into a resemblance of an image. He was the first one in our family to have a T.V. Small screen in a big piece of furniture. There might have been a "hi-fi" in there somewhere too. He introduced me to Milton Berle, Ernie Kovacs, Sid Caesar, and Lucille Ball.
I could never figure out if he liked me. He seemed to think I might have been a "love child." Out of wedlock. A bastard. He kidded my father... always kidding... "Hey Lou... you sure Ricardo there isn't your bosses son?”
One night we were watching The Tonight Show with Jack Parr... And one of Parr's guests was Jonathan Winters. Parr asked Winters about his childhood and Winters said, "Why Jack... don't you know... I'm a legitimate bastard." My grandfather looked at me and said, "What did he say?" I said to my grandfather... I said, "Winters knows dad's boss."

The smiling T.V.
Okay, so that part about me saying Winters knows dad's boss I made up. (I never said this is a fucking 'memoir').
Back then I couldn't answer my grandfather's question "what did he say?" I didn't get Winters punchline. I didn't understand the two words... legit/bastard. And I didn't understand how the two words cancelled each other out. The "gag" was out of my league. Parr's reaction was the only thing I could laugh about. The way he turned and looked into the camera. He knew something. The skinny on Parr was that he was too cerebral. Not enough slapstick. A lot of his "bits" were "over our heads." Smiles instead of guffaws. My mother would say about Parr, "to smart for his own good." Parr's comedy would soon be championed by Bob Newhart and Shelley Berman. They would get popular by putting out comedy on albums. Something new back then... "For your entertaining pleasure." For some reason my hard-of-hearing Grandfather would buy these new wax "word recordings" and play them next to the T.V. in that big piece of wood... somewhere in the hi-fi. Maybe my grandfather was the spy who loved me... (Calling uncle Ian)...Who knows, maybe my grandfather knew what Parr said all along.

I was part of the first generation to grow up with T.V. The thing it came in was called a console. A large piece of brown wood. More wood than T.V. The screen was tiny. Black and white. Three channels. You were lucky to get one. My father's mother Teddy called it... the bad babysitter. She had no use for it. Didn't understand how it worked. Couldn't understand the concept of this "new campfire." She used it as another surface for knick-knacks. She put the family photos on top of it next to a bowl of fish. I really loved Teddy. And she really loved me. She was the only relative I wanted to be with. My parents would drop me off on Saturdays. From age six to ten, maybe eleven... I spent Saturdays with Teddy. Nine in the morning. Overnight. Then picked up "For church" on Sunday. Teddy was all Saturday Evening Post. Right out of on of those set-ups painted by Norman Rockwell. She lived in a two family house. She was the renter. You could count on her. She behaved. She always stuck up for everything good. Jesus was her savior. And the Ten Commandments were her way of life. The only thing exciting and different about Teddy was her choice of wallpaper. It was striped. Green and white. The green was dark. Forest green. The white was cream. Half-and-half. The memory is clear. And it's clear because I loved this wallpaper. For me this addition to her interior was radical. Walls of other people's houses weren't graphic and loud. Everybody in my family hated the paper. This was the first time I became aware of aesthetic judgement. One of my aunts said the stripes looked like a prison. One cousin went so far as to suggest a movie stars pajamas. Like I said, I thought it was great and couldn't understand the umpiring. Thirty years later I'd meet up with Daniel Buren and watch him stripe a nation. His "covering" was Teddy all over again. I know he wasn't part of her "set up" but I asked him anyhow... "How did you get so lucky"?

Me Tarzan, You Jane
I wanted to be Johnny Sheffield. He played the "boy" in the Tarzan movies. He beat out 300 other "boys" for the part. He wasn't Tarzan's son and he wasn't Jane's son either. I'm not sure whose son he was. (The Priest to the Rabbi: "You see that choir boy over there? You want to fuck him?" Says the Rabbi, "Fuck him out of what?") Boy didn't take any shit from anyone. He was loyal. And he would do anything for Tarzan. The Legion of Decency wouldn't allow Jane and Tarzan to have a son since they weren't married, so the script doctors made up a story about Boy being the only survivor of a plane crash. They titled the movie... Tarzan Finds A Son. Edgar Rice Burroughs who wrote the original story Tarzan The Ape Man sued MGM for screwing around with his "vision". (In real life Sheffield would die from falling off a ladder while pruning a palm tree. It's true. Read the obit). Along with Dracula, Superman, Frankenstein, and King Kong... Tarzan is a key book in my collection of twentieth century first editions. It's hard to find in an unrestored dust jacket. And if you do find one your going to pay 30k. I once had a chance to buy about twenty various Tarzan books all "warmly" inscribed by Burroughs to his only son. (There were about fifty in the series). They were being offered by Biblioctopus out of Beverly Hills. I passed. I tried to "cherry pick" the Ape Man out of the twenty other titles but the seller wouldn't budge. All or nothing. This was thirty years ago. I haven't seen an inscribed Tarzan The Ape Man since.


One of my first erotic memories has to do with Tarzan. There was an episode where a white woman was captured and taken into a hut by natives. The natives were black and the natives in the hut were black women. There was a suggestion that the black women in the hut were getting the white women ready for some kind of unspeakable pygmy punishment machine. The white woman's body would be spread-eagled on a cross with her arms and legs tied to four different trees that were bent over and held in place with rope. When the rope was cut the trees would return to their original upright position and the force of the return would catapult the woman's severed limbs in four different directions. The dangling bloodied amputations would then be gathered up and put into a big black pot of boiling water along side the already par-boiled body of one her guides. (The guides head had been decapitated and taken to a neighboring village to be shrunk, traded, and worshiped).

As a viewer you didn't get to see the "getting ready" part in the hut. You could only imagine what the black women might be doing to prepare the white woman for sacrifice, for ceremony, to appease the bone-pointing witch doctor. The "imagine" part is where I filled in the blanks. My fantasy of what happened inside "the hut” is still clear, still weird. I might sound like a "head-case" but my hard-on involved peanut butter. I had this idea that the black women would put the white woman on a table, naked... face up, stretched out... and then slather the creamy caramel colored sandwich spread all over her luscious curvy cleavaged body. Since I was nine years old the brand they used was Skippy. (I got a boner so bad it could only be calmed down by shoving it into a jar of the lip smacking spread). That's as far as the fantasy went. There was no marshmallow, no jelly. No tasting, no licking. No dildos, or strap-ons. No clamps, whips, or chains. There were no bodily insertions. There was some mild exploration and knowing smiles from the natives... but that was it. For the most part the fantasy was strictly kid stuff. (To be continued)

A set of encyclopedias from A to G
That's what we had. An incomplete set. I remember it was from Funk And Wagnall’s. The deal was... we'd save up enough S&H Green stamps and after filling up a book, my sister and I would go to the supermarket and together with the groceries and the newly glued in stamps, a clerk would come over, add up our tab and if we bought enough food and if the book of stamps filled all the pages, we'd be given another volume from the encyclopedia company. (Whatever the grocery store was giving away we always tried to qualify). We did this seven times and then it stopped. I don't know if we changed supermarkets, changed neighborhoods, or maybe the people who were promoting the encyclopedia "give-away changed their minds. All I know is that we never got "H" or any other of the nineteen letters in the set. Maybe we weren't fast enough. It's not like we didn't try. We were always telling our mother to buy more groceries so we could get more stamps. The more food you buy the more stamps you get. And the more stamps, the more free stuff. In the end what I know is that I got pretty good at knowing information if the information started with letters from A to G.

Other than the abbreviated set of encyclopedias there was Life magazine and Reader's Digest. That was it. That's all the reading material that was in our house. There wasn't a novel, a biography, a book of essays, a dictionary. I'm not sure where I got my jones for books. It certainly didn't come from my family. None of them were readers. Not even a newspaper. When I sit in my library today I can't believe all the books I have. My library is a separate room specifically designed for my books. It's the kind of room I would dream about having when I was a kid. Floor to ceiling books, with one of those ladders that's hooked on a steel runner that glides from side to side. I love that ladder. According to my psychiatrist this dream of having a room like this has to do with wanting to be alone and keeping the outside world outside. He told me my books are insulation. Bricks and mortar. Poured concrete. It's sound proof. "You've created your own bunker. Your own fall out shelter." He told me I was getting ready for the end of the world. I showed him my special copy of Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451... the limited edition that's bound in asbestos. Show and tell. He asked me why that one? Why out of all my books did I bring him the Bradbury? I told him that Fahrenheit was in my head. It's one of the few books I've memorized... just in case I get kicked out. "Kicked out of what", he asked. "Out of my hiding place. You see it’s just a matter of time before they start burning books again. I'm just preparing. I know my library won't protect me from the know nothing fanatics who believe in religion and ghosts". He looked at me and nodded his head. He agreed. "So you know it’s coming," I asked. "Yes," he said, "it's right around the corner." "Good," I said. "So let's begin... Let me be my book."

MEM (MORE)
Saturdays and Saturday nights were full of "programs.” In the morning, game shows. And in the evenings, comedy and variety. In no particular order... What's My Line? Who Do You Trust? Truth Or Consequences. Queen For A Day. The Honey Mooners. Leave It To Beaver. Ozzie And Harriet. The Jack Benny Show. The Howdy Doody Show. The Wonderful World Of Disney. I'm not sure when I started on cartoons. Right away. The Flintstones. Yogi Bear. Rocky And Bullwinkle. Tom And Jerry. It was all great. I loved watching. There was nothing else. They were friends.

The Lone Ranger
I always liked the quiet type. The guy people would underestimate. The "lowly cook.” The cape crusader. The mild mannered office boy by day... then some kind of "transformation.” I was obsessed with Zorro. One evening my mother returned from work and with great fanfare gave me a package of "official" Zorro gloves and sword. I went berserk. I'm not sure what I did to deserve the present and was completely surprised at my mother's "soft spot.” I remember the gift was given to me in the kitchen and it was given to me without strings attached. There were no ulterior motives. She was being a mother and that night I hugged and disappeared into her completely. I made drawings of Zorro all the time. In school I would draw all over my notebook. I would start with the "Z" and with my head bowed down and my hand cupped around the book, slash the letter a million different ways. I would draw Zorro's mask and cape and horse. I was pretty good with pencil and paper. Drawing came naturally. God given. It wasn't a big deal. Kind of like playing the piano by ear. Drawing replaced everything that I was supposed to be learning.

The early episodes of Superman were another favorite. (Especially satisfying). "Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound.” Who would of suspected Clark Kent to be that "super.” George Reeves who played the part never got another chance to act after he left the series. He was typecast. Pigeonholed. A one-hit wonder. When he finally got a chance to co-star in a dramatic movie the audience laughed when he appeared on screen. By the late fifties he was playing guitar and singing folk songs in coffee houses up and down the West Coast. I once did a drawing of George Reeves. It was based on a publicity picture that his agent would send out for casting calls. I did the drawing with a number 4-H pencil on hot press darche paper. I did it in 1981. It was spot on. My thinking at the time was to do a "portrait" of George Reeves. Not a portrait of George Reeves playing Superman. The point of view had to do with normality. It was against the grain. I wanted to present him as he was. Not the person he was famous for. POPULARITY had nothing to do with it. I always felt bad for George. I always felt bad because he couldn't get out of what he got himself into. (Painting yourself into a corner is half the battle. How you get out is where the real story begins).

When I worked for Time Life in the mid-seventies I did some research on George Reeve's death. I spent time in the library reading obits and collecting "clippings" from a file that Time Magazine had organized after he died. It's true he died falling out of a window. Whether he jumped or was pushed out by his girlfriend was never determined. (Supposedly the night "he went out" there was an argument about money between him and his girlfriend). What was determined was that he fell straight down into the ground. There was no net. No stunt double. No special effects to save him. That's what you get for getting famous. A one way ticket. When I turned ten a light went on. I said to myself, "I think I'll go after third place... leave first for the hero."

What Me Worry?
Bozo. Clarabell. Captain Kangaroo... No these clowns weren't part of Ringling Brothers... they each had their own T.V. show. Bozo and Clarabell were local and Captain Kangaroo was national... on in the mornings just after the Dave Garroway show. (Two cannibals eating a clown. One turns to the other and says, "Does he taste funny to you?"). And you wonder why there's an Insane Clown Posse.
I was always partial to the clowning around of Alfred E. Newman. The mascot and chief icon of Mad Magazine. He was the kind of character that could grow a Hitler mustache and explain it away as an "ironic" mustache. In the mid-fifties getting away with it was a sensibility that could be misinterpreted as Un-American. You had to be careful when you combined humor and artistry. Mad Magazine was something I had to smuggle into our house. The congressman Charles Keating was trying to ban comic books and pornographic magazines. (It would take me another year... eleven years old... to focus on "men's" magazines). My parents were friends with Keating. My parents were Republican. Anti-communist. Anti-Semitic. Anti-black, hated Catholics. My father was a Mason. The kind of "racist white folk" that Saul Below wrote about in his novel The Victim. I was never sure what Masons did. They dressed up in funny costumes and wore strange Moroccan hats. They had secret handshakes and had meetings in "temples.” It was an old club. Very old. Apparently going back to Egypt. The eye on top of the pyramid on the dollar bill has some Masonic meaning. "Keep out" instead of "welcome home" was all I could ever figure out. Masons wore sashes that were covered with pins and ribbons. Each pin each ribbon meant you passed some kind of test. The more tests you passed the more pins and ribbons on your sash. These Masons reminded me of boy scouts and wizards.

(Back at my ranch). My mother would find my Mads. (I was never good at hiding things... and my sister would always rat me out anyway). My mother would incinerate my treasures and treat me like a delinquent. My sister would jump on the bandwagon and use one of her new big words and call me a "degenerate.” My mother was the principal and my bedroom was the black board fucking jungle...

It was too bad too because now a Jim-mint copy of the first issue of Mad Magazine goes somewhere between two to four thousand dollars. (The what me worry Alfred E. Newman character didn't make an appearance until the fifth issue). In 2001 I paid fifteen thousand dollars for the first Zap comic. I bought it from Ken Lopez, a rare book dealer from North Hampton Mass. One of my go-to guys when I need to have my collecting habit fixed. Collector's thought I was crazy. Fifteen K? "What are you CRAZY"? I don't know... it's like that. Why? Hard to explain. You like it. You want it. You think it's important. For me Zap is part of the seven suns. After you fork over the cash you forget about what you paid, put on some shades, and start staring at the fucker.

Learning how to hustle
The best cartoon in Mad Magazine for me was Spy Vs. Spy. The graphic was original, sophisticated, subtle, and musical. How I learned to love the bomb. It had all the Strangelove you could ask for. The Cold War never looked colder. It was a perfect "tune" for a paranoid population. And the story lines always spoke about current events. Things like...The Berlin Wall. It was real. You could touch it. It really was a wall. There really was a no man's land. It really did separate East from West. The barbwire at Check Point Charlie really was part of a stalemate. The Wall was the perfect architecture for pen and ink. The vibe of the cartoon? Sitting on a fence. What was true, what was false? Right and wrong hardly existed. Good and bad up for grabs. And of course for the sparring spies... musical chairs and lots of backstabbing. (In 1968 I will visit Berlin and take photographs of the Berlin Wall... but that will come later).
I once heard that Terry Southern started writing storyboards for the strip in the early sixties. This made sense. (He got a screenplay credit on the film Dr. Strangelove). Southern wrote the erotic novel Candy under the pseudonym Maxwell Kenton and had the book published under the title Lollipop after French authorities declared the book obscene. (Candy was a send up of Voltaire's Candide). I have a 1958 copy of Candy by Maxwell Kenton published by the Olympia Press part of their Traveller's Companion Series. It's inscribed by Southern to Nelson Lyon who produced William Burroughs Dead City Radio LP. Nelson would later produce Southern's Give Me Your Hump CD. I read Candy one summer just before turning fifteen living in a tent with seven other pre-teen boys. The tent was part of a camp out on the back nine of the Hyannis Port Golf Club. We were all caddies, living there before going into the tenth grade trying to make tips to pay our own way. We'd all been dropped off at the beginning of the summer. Most of us were there because parents felt the experience of working and paying for your room and board would provide a life lesson. Discipline we were told was what we all needed. The place was run like a military camp for junior cadets. Golf was beside the point. Survival of the fittest was the way things worked.
We were all masturbating like mad and Candy helped get the spanking going. We took turns with the book, passing it around with a flashlight to read it under the sheets. Sometimes we would hand-job each other. Sometimes we would sit around in a circle and "circle jerk.” Whoever could shoot their cum the farthest got an extra ten minutes with the book. By the end of the summer you could hardly open the book. The pages were glued together with so much cum. This was 1964. President Kennedy had been shot the fall before. Eighteen year olds would soon start dying in Vietnam. Bob Dylan would pick up a telecaster, plug in and go electric. And Terry Southern would help write the screenplay for what eventually became Easy Rider.
Thinking back on Nelson Lyon... he was the one who came up with the idea for the Rolling Stones LP with the zipper on the cover. Warhol liked Lyon and appreciated his eye for design and stole the concept without ever giving him credit. When Lyon later confronted Warhol, Warhol sheepishly admitted taking the idea and gave Nelson half a dozen Cow prints as payment. For me and my tent mates, we were all Lord Of The Fly boys wishing, hoping, and thinking about boning Candy Christian. Who the fuck cares that nobody can be trusted? We just wanted to collect enough of our jizz to fill the cup on the thirteenth hole, (that night)... and in the morning watch the first golfer retrieve his ball after he sunk his putt.

Encore
Friday afternoon right at 3pm during the sixth grade was the best part of the week. That's when I got to go home and stop thinking. I hated school. The rest of the afternoon I could sink back into my beanbag, watch Leave It To Beaver and bond with Eddie Haskell. I don't know how they let Haskell into the living rooms of boys who were trying to grow sideburns and sneak cigarettes from older brothers and sisters. It always amazed me that they didn't arrest the screenwriter or Haskell himself for acting like a snot nose, brown nose, scheming little shit. One minute polite... the next, he'd be behind your back giving you the finger. I remember when I was seventeen going to the Boston Tea Party, a rock club in Boston and going because Eric Clapton and Cream was playing. (They were the "cream" of the crop). Before they came out though, there was an opening act. Two guys... a drummer and base player... They started thumping and pounding their way thru Tommy James' Crimson And Clover and then proceeded to destroy the Frankie Valli And The Four Seasons hit Sherrie. They played in their underwear, had wigwams on their heads and something around their calves that looked like big black elastic bands tightly wound. Put the Mother's Of Invention, The Fugs, and The Stooges all together and you come up with these two flaming creatures. They were nasty. They drooled. They blew their noses at each other. They couldn't play for shit. They were worse then the Shags. And that's on the other side of pathetic. (The Shags... another local band out of New Hampshire. Three sisters. All plainer then the next one. Frank Zappa's favorite group).
I didn't know shit about improv or performance and video art. And it was way to early for punk. The two creatures called themselves Eddie Haskell And The Junior. In between songs they'd recite Eddie Haskell lines from the Beaver show... The drummer to the base player... Hey Beaver... gnaw any trees down lately? Lame can't begin to describe their act. The audience threw food at them, yelling, "get the fuck off the stage... we want Cream". (It was like the Gong Show and they got gonged). The two "juniors" started eating the thrown food. Just when you thought they were ready to give up and beat it backstage, they did a complete 360 and finished us off with a twenty-minute cover of Billy Paul's Me And Mrs. Jones. The Chamber Brothers reincarnated. What just happened? I swear it was the biggest badass cover anyone had ever heard. They played like Keith Moon meets Howard Hughes meets Godzilla. What the fuck? They completely fooled us. The played us for saps. They took us all in and we fell for it. "We don't need no stinkin badges", said Junior. Eddie Haskell And The Junior fingered us and brought down the house.


Pink Slip
We moved to Weymouth Mass. when I was ten. Fifth grade. Another school. More being the new kid. More slipping on the banana peel.
My father lost his job and started working in the Weymouth Ship Yard. The direction was downhill. He made minimum wage, lost his government benefits and took on part-time work as an electrical engineer. Making ends meet meant Rice 'A Roni, casseroles and meatloaf. (My father never talked about why he was sacked. I was to young to understand his getting "pushed out" of the CIA. It wouldn't be until 1967 when he was recruited by LBJ's government to help "defoliate" the jungles of Vietnam that I began to get a handle on exactly what my father was up to. I always thought he was talking thru his hat. According to my mother, in the early fifties he had something to do with a program the CIA ran called MK-Ultra... a special operations division researching biological and toxic substances. This "info" all sounded like something out of Three Days of The Condor. I would later look up MK-Ultra and find that it also played a role in testing the effects of LSD on humans. Yikes! This was around the same time I was listening to Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds).
Clipping coupons and delivering newspapers was my job. Those S&H Green stamps I was talking about before? For us they weren't something on a painting. We were fucked. What had been a new "streamline" two-tone Pontiac "88" every September was now a 1948 a fifty dollar Ford clunker. (The shape of this ride was like driving a small Quonset hut). We were so far underground I would get the bends. No more zipadeedoodah. Describing us as Lower Middle Class would be putting a gloss on our lifestyle.

One thing that was cheap was gasoline. Nineteen cents a gallon. This was 1962-63. A couple of stations gave away free "drawings" of the N.Y. Giants football team if you filled up your tank. The Giants were my team. (There was no Patriots back then). I'd beg my father to pull into one these stations and ask him to "filler up" so I could get a new drawing. I started collecting them. I wanted the whole team. They were really nice pencil drawings on fairly thick paper and the way the players were illustrated was flat out impressive. It's hard to explain my attraction to them. (When I became a senior in college I was introduced to the drawings of William Bailey. They were figure studies. Delicate. Crosshatched. Lovely. I had the same reaction to Bailey as I did the Giants).
And it's hard to explain why gas stations were giving away frameable reproductions of sports memorabilia. You'd have to fill up twenty-two times to get the whole team. Maybe that's why.

Anyway, I started to hang them up in my bedroom... pinning them to the wall and arranging them like a class reunion. There was Kyle Rote. Andy Robustelli, Rosey Grear, Sam Huff, Y.A. Title, Frank Gifford. I also added a photo from Life magazine of a defeated Y.A. Title on his knees in the end zone, Helmut knocked off, blood trickling down his balled head. It was the end of his career. He had had it. Except for the baldness he looked like my father. It's funny to think about my first collection of someone else's art being free.

The Velvet Future
One of my first movie experiences changed the way I thought about where I might belong. It was a musical and the actor I loved the most in the movie was George Chakiris. The movie was West Side Story. Growing up in the suburbs I wasn't charged with city energy. Seeing a semblance of New York City on the screen opened something up. Especially the first scene, shot from above with the camera positioned in the belly of a plane or helicopter or blimp, roving along the tops of the skyscrapers and panning the grids of the streets and finally settling on a gang of kids dancing on an asphalt playground passing a basketball... leaping around like Merce Cunningham and Yvonne Rainer. Their moves, what were they... "Choreographed?”... I had no idea. Ten minutes in and I was besotted. Dumbfounded. It was finally happening. I was so fucking happy.

I always felt oppressed by the way I looked. (Or had to look). Part of it had to do with the "authoritarian" dress code dictated by my parents. Chinos, loafers, patterned button down shirts. No dungarees. No engineer boots. No turned up collars. My crew-cut hairstyle was waxed and uptight. What I really wanted was Elvis hair. A conk, ducktail, sideburns, and a can of grease up there that would help shape my couffe into a Hawaiian wave.
In front of West Side Story, (in front of the screen), I could see and hear and know there was something else out there. Something that wasn't next door, down the street or after school. (It would be another decade before I would pick up Adolph Huxley's The Doors Of Perception. Another decade too before I would walk into the Whiskey on Sunset Blvd. and catch a set of Jim Morrison and The Doors and know right then and there that the other side was the side I wanted to be on).So many doors.
The kids in West Side had sleeveless shirts. Some had light grey sweatshirts with the sleeve cut off just below the elbow. Some of them had three-inch thick black leather belts with a silver square buckle pushed over to the side of the hip. (I wouldn't find out until later this "fashion" of putting the buckle off to the side had its origins in practicality. It had to do with hot-rodders not wanting to scratch the paint when bent over "souping up" their cars).
Ked sneakers. Another accessory. Scuffed up with holes at the top of the big toe. I'd see some of this fashion later on, on other screens in other movies. Steve McQueen in the Great Escape. Mick Jagger on the Ed Sullivan Show. Maynard G. Krebs on Dobie Gillis). A wardrobe for heads.
The outfit I liked the best in the movie was what George Chakiris wore to the YMCA dance. He played the part of Bernardo, the gang leader of the Sharks. When he went to that dance he was "decked out.” Black suit, purple shirt with a "tab" collar. Skinny black tie and Puerto Rican boots with the zipper on the inner side... the same kind James Brown would shimmy and shake on...the kind Warhol would silkscreen, the kind the Beatles would wear and later come to be called Beatle Boots. Bernardo's suit was tapered. A perfect "V.” The pants were beltless, stove piped, and cuff-less, landing just above the heel of the boot. Where did these clothes come from? I had no clue. Nine year olds had no clues. The best I could do was a clean white t-shirt.
Sometimes I would forget I was watching a movie. A general lowering of wakefulness would come over me and I'd be transformed by the cone of light behind me and the make-believe would work its way into my brain and turn everything into a giant fantastic novel.
I would stay in my seat after "the end" and watch the credits roll and wait for the costume designer's name to appear. Edith Head. My new cape crusader. By the time I moved to NYC in 1973 I would settle on a simple black suit and white shirt. I would buy as many as I could in thrift stores. The tailoring would be generic. (The lapels not too wide not too thin). The only customizing I would add, was to button the top button of the shirt. There was nothing fashionable about it. Day in day out. The same outfit. It would help me blend in. It would be my uniform. My armor.

Little Richard
I've told this one before. This happened before West Side Story. I guess you could call it my "holy shit" story.
I was around nine and hanging out in our basement that got turned into a playroom by my father. It was always the first thing he'd do when we moved into a new place. Take over about half the space "down-under" and panel the walls and tile the floor and then set up his "ham" radio. Being a ham radio operator was his hobby. It was a strange way to spend time. Talking into a small microphone to like-minded people you'd never meet, talking about family, jobs, and the weather. My father with his radio could reach people all over the world. He had a map up on the wall and when he made a new contact he'd stick a pin in the place where the contact was made. He must have had a couple of thousand stuck pins. Sometimes he'd get a postcard from the contact with their "call letters" printed on the card. He scotched taped these cards next to the map. He'd also send out a card of his own "call". His call letters were...W1UOH. His "handle" was UNCLE OBO HOW. So when he turned on his radio and start to spin the dials (like he was opening a safe), he'd lean forward and put his mouth up to the transmitter and say, "This is W1UOH UNCLE OBO HOW"... say it a couple of times and then ask, "Is there anyone there?” (Think: The Man Who Fell To Earth, by Walter Tevis).
The kind of frequency a ham operator was on, allowed the operator to talk even when telephones were down. This frequency came in handy in case of emergency or storms. The wavelengths were up in the sky, invisible, always ready to receive and transmit. It was the kind of signal that the commander of the submarine in Nevil Shute's book On The Beach tried to hunt down. The commander and crew were stationed in Australia. They'd been a nuclear holocaust in the northern part of the hemisphere and it was only a matter of time before the fallout would drift into their part of the world. After locating the signals' origin as San Francisco, the Captain decided to sail all the way to the Golden Gate... to see if the signal might be a sign of life. Turned out the signal was coming from the pull on a window shade that was wrapped around a coke bottle that would, from time to time, settle on the kind of "key" that sends out dots and dashes that a finger would normally tap onto. The gizmo and the "caught coke bottle" were next to an open window and the fluctuations of the wind would send the shade up and down to create the effect of a human's touch. Da Dit Dit Dit. Dit Dit Da Dit. There was nothing human about it. The signal turned out to be an empty balloon. Nothing to do but return to Australia and wait to die.

I've always thought that if one were to try to define what art was... one might refer to what the coke bottle was doing in On The Beach.

To the best of my knowledge my father never got any rock-n-roll on that radio of his.

Praise The Lord
I'm hanging out in my basement in the playroom next to the ham radio listening to my record player. When I was nine I was a huge fan of Louis Prima and his lead singer Kellie Smith. They were on the Ed Sullivan show a lot and after I'd seen them several times I saved up paper route money and bought one of their albums. I was also listening to this monster hit, Trailers For Sale Or Rent by Roger Miller. He was from Nashville, part of the Grand Ole Opry. I could never figure out how this song took over some of my afternoons. Sometime you take a detour. Either that or that's why they call them "monster hits.”
My sister had some Patsy Kline, Connie Francis and Doris Day. About as far out as she got was the Everly Bothers. But she did buy this one record called Tutti Frutti by Little Richard because it was my birthday and more important she said, "you have the same name.” A ton of bricks was how much Tutti Frutti hit me. The sheer womp of the song floored me into thinking it was from Heaven Above. Boy O Boy. I started shit'in those bricks.
I woke up.
After I stopped shrieking and wailing I found out that Little Richard was a black man. A negro. I'm not sure if I'd ever meet a black man before. And not only was he black but he wore eyeliner and lipstick and had shiny kinky hair going six inches straight up like the bride of Frankenstein. I wasn't sure who the monster was. Little Richard or me.
Here I'm down in the basement getting high on his falsetto and I can only think... holy shit... my parents just put the kabosh on rock ‘n roller Jerry Lee Lewis for marrying his thirteen year old cousin... calling what he did "incest"... wagging their righteous finger from side to side like I'm suppose to know what that kind of union is... (What me worry)? I mean I'm romping around the clock calling myself Little Richard and sooner or later their going to check this routine out and raise the roof and bring the wrath and suck the spirit of my new born again choir right out from underneath my fancy dancing feet.

BIRDTALK

11/16/2012

Tell Me Everything

I went to the psychiatrist and he said, "tell me everything". I did. And now he's doing my act.
That was the first joke I used to make art. That was back in 1986. I was living and working at 303 Gallery on Park Ave. South.
The question is this...
Are you the psychiatrist?
Are you the teller of the joke?
Are you the writer of the joke?
Are you the publisher of the joke?
Are you the reader of the joke?
None of the above?

Me, I was the artist of the joke. I wrote the joke down on an 1X14 inch piece of paper with a pencil and scotched taped it to the wall.

This bit of patter is an excerpt from my forthcoming novel TELL ME EVERYTHING... to be published by Fulton Ryder in 2013. In the coming months more excerpts will appear here, first... maybe even the whole thing. Maybe. I'm not sure. I don't know. What do I know?
What do I know?... that's a pretty good too...

11/15/2012

Where's is Jack Goldstein? (Another one of my "question" paintings).

One of the best essays I ever read on an artist is David Salle's essay on Jack Goldstein. Salle wrote it when Goldstein had a show up in Buffalo N.Y. at Hallwalls in 1978. Now there's another, (essay)... this one by Ashley Bickerton... that accompany's a small catalogue put out by Adam Lindermann for Goldstein's show at Venus Over Manhattan. The show opened last night. Lindermann's gallery is at 980 Madison... a building that I like to refer to as the Brill Building for Art and Design. Lindermann's space is warehouse like... deliberately unfinished and lit like a nightclub. (EYE.like.It).
Goldstein's show there reminds me of nothing that I thought I remembered from when he showed at Metro Pictures in 1980. The work now looks like "good yesterday" and what was good yesterday is good today. (The paintings could easily hang alongside John Stezaker's early silkscreen paintings from 1982. Goldstein and Stezaker are of the same generation. John was Jack's counterpoint in London in the late seventies).
The first painting I saw of Jack's was in a summer "preview" show at Janelle Reiring's loft in Tribeca in 1979. The painting was all one color and in the middle of the painting there was a small "right on" representation of an astronaut falling. Falling falling and falling. It was summersaulting through a monochromatic field of colored space. The painting was magical.
Goldstein was the reason why Metro Pictures opened. Or at least that was my impression at the time. And even though I was part of the original line up, I never really felt part of the "family". I knew most of the artists... Sherman, Longo, Welling, Laurie Simmons and Troy Brauntauch... but I never fit in. If I talked to Jack twice during the three years that I was there I don't remember... it might of been once. I know he didn't want anything to do with me, and he acted as though he had one thought in mind... "how do I cross you off my list"? He wanted the spotlight and he never got it. And you can see why... the paintings that he showed at Metro are the same paintings that are being shown at Venus Over Manhattan. Do you think it takes time? Just wait. Now is as good as time as any.
I think what Bickerton says about Jack's position of being "dead set against being overly 'artistic' and unnecessarily 'painterly', pretty much left him in open water... To quote Christian Metz... "his paintings had that general lowering of wakefulness"...
His barking dog, his flaming window, his records with sound tracks of cars crashing are part art history. That's what we know.
I have a couple of his paintings in my collection. That's what I know.
His paintings are the fucking turtle.
Just like that "summersaulting astronaut"... right on.
The Brill Building has just put out some more"hit" paintings.


11/14/2012

The Deep End

"Hey Hey I'm a potter. And people say I potty around. But I'm to busy potting, to put anybody down". (Last night I had a dream that I had a Monkee on my back).
What does this have to do with Carl Andre?
The pottery everything.
The Monkees not so much.

I met Lawrence Weiner in Vienna in 1985. We were both part of a group show called Wien Fluess, at the The Session. Before that I would see him at the Ocean Club on Chambers in Tribeca hugging Carl Andre. They were always glad to see each other. It seemed to me that they were truly good friends.
Lawrence was a good guy. He took me under his wing in Vienna. Introduced me around. This show was one of my first encounters with a European art scene. I was impressed with all the languages Lawrence could speak. We did a lot of sitting around in cafes smoking and drinking. The language thing came in handy. Half the time I would just have to sit there. I didn't speak shit. The next time I run into Lawrence I'm going to ask him if he's ever written a sentence about deadly kissing.

Carl Andre didn't have wings.
He was full of himself and he wouldn't give me the time of day.
In 1972 I had just gotten back from a backpacking trip to France. I was broke. Desperate. I was staying with my mother in Braintree Mass. and she said I should go speak to her boss at Thayer Academy. (Her boss was Peter Benelli... the headmaster of Thayer. Thayer was and is a private country day school on the south shore of Boston... twenty minutes south maybe. It's where I grew up). She said go speak to Mr. Benelli and ask him for a job teaching pottery to the high school seniors.
I didn't see much of a choice. I hated going to where my mother worked and asking for a job. I really wanted to go to New York but I needed to save up before I went. I caved. I figured I could tell Mr. Benelli... "sure, I know how to throw a pot"... spend a couple of semesters, stash some cash and then split and live my version of West Side Story.
So that's what I did. I got the job. I lied about being able to pot and I spent the first four weeks teaching the kids how to coil and fire and after school I locked the door, pulled the shades and taught myself how to throw. (It's all labor. It's awkward at first but it's like leaning how to chord a guitar. After fits and starts one day you just find yourself humming along).
Part of the pot job was curating The Thayer Academy Art Gallery.
Benelli's wife was friends with Carl Andre. And had already arranged for him to come and have a show. Andre had grown up in the neighboring town of Quincey.
I took a crash course in minimalism.
The gallery had a total budget of three hundred dollars which we spent buying bricks for Carl Andre.
Andre showed up in May of '73... just as I was leaving... just as I was trying to get up and go.
He spent three days hanging around the Thayer.
He'd just come from his alma mater, Andover Academy where he'd also done a show.
He introduced me to his parents and we all went out to lunch. It was something like Red Lobster.
We went to the local dump where he rummaged through a pile of scrap metal.
He bought several strips of steel.
I paid for them.
He never used the bricks that we spent all our budget on. (I was kind of impressed by that).
He placed the strips of steel on the floor in grids, in patterns.
We went out to lunch again, just him and me and he told me about working on the railroad and reading Walt Whitman.
He told me how he use to go up to the Quincey Quarry's when he was a kid and sit and look at the rocks. He liked how they got configured after they were mined and abandoned.
He hit on my girlfriend.

I have to say I was taken by the way he worked. That kind of "post-studio" way of making art was new to me. It felt liberating. You could work anywhere.

I got to NYC late that summer. August of '73. I went there with two grand in my pocket and figured I could last three months... four tops. I got a sub-let on Prince and West Broadway for ninety a month. Outrageous. Full of roaches. And fuck me, I couldn't afford it.

I didn't know a soul. I knew a guy across the street... Bevan Davies. Barely. I had met him in Maine thru an old teacher of mine. He had a twin brother Jordan. Identical. I couldn't tell them apart. I would go three, four days without talking to anybody. I would sleep all day, get up, do some drawing, go eat dinner at Food and then drink at the Spring St. bar. I'd come home at four in the morning and watch the one channel that was still on...

I met Vito Acconci at that same group show in Vienna. He was good guy to. He also extended his friendship. He was a poet first then an artist. Now he's an architect.

When your new it's great to meet people who are older and who have been there and are not full of shit.

Carl Andre was full of shit. Okay... he murdered the pedestal and took sculpture off the plinth but he was still full of shit.

Nothing wrong with being full of shit.

Those stories about working on the railroad and reading Walt Whitman sound like something I would make up. And as far as hanging out at the quarries? The only people who hung at the quarries were guys with duck tails and chopped cars and girls who put out. You had to be in a fucking gang to hang at the quarry. People who went to Andover Academy didn't hang out at the quarry.

She came in thru the bathroom window.
I don't what happen to Carl Andre's wife. No one will. Lawrence Wiener says Carl didn't have anything to do with her death, and that's enough for me.

I went on a blind date. Her name was Linda. We said over the phone we'll meet at the coffee shop. When I got to the coffee shop I thought I saw Linda. I said, "Are you Linda"? She said, "Are you Richard"? I said, "Yes". She said, "I'm not Linda".

The were several times when I would be walking back to my sublet alone, late at night, after last call, four in the morning, and I would run into Carl Andre. He was probably doing the same thing. It was always on West Broadway. No one around. It was amazingly peaceful. The first couple of run-ins I would stop and say. "Hey Carl... it's me, Richard..." He'd just stare at me in his bib-overalls and walk on by. He would look right through me... X-ray vision. The way he would stare was what bothered me the most. His eyes told me, "I'm fucking Carl Andre and I already know the time".

Can I bum a cigarette? That's all I wanted.


11/10/2012

After Dark: The Family Feud meets The Dating Game meets The Newlyweds... black bars and fuzz-tone blockers optional...

If you're not doing anything Tuesday night December 15 try checking out my new XXX-rated game show on Showtime called "Who Gives A Shit." They'll be a revolving number of hosts... Jimmy "Dynomite" Walker, Peter Marshall, Gabe Kaplan, Jenna Jameson... and the "Who" girls... Pia Zadora, Kelly Madison, and Karen Black will be doing their best Vanna White. The show will be based on tired old formulas from Who Do You Trust, Truth Or Consequences, Queen For A Day, What's My Line, and You Bet Your Life. (The Price Is Right as of this date will not be sampled. We are waiting for the rights to Password and Hollywood Squares). Kinescopes from Your Show Of Shows, The Ernie Kovacs Show and Here's Johnny have been licensed. Contestants will "emerge" from behind a specially designed "canned" curtain by John Dogg. Upon entering, they will be "naked as a blue-jay" and will then proceed to re-dress themselves with every correct answer. (Starting with socks and stockings). Depending on the way panelists vote, the contestants can and will be subjected to being stroked, whipped, kissed, fondled, pissed on, blown or eaten out, sucked or pinched, clamped and masturbated. (If a contestant misses three questions in a row they'll be fucked in the ass... or if they use a one time "life-line"...piled on by a secret guest).
"The Envelope Please"
Questions: one example...Who was the actress who starred in the 15 min. "smoker film" in 1956 called Smart Alec"? Bonus question: "Who did this actress eventually "date" in 1962"? Double bonus: "What put her in federal prison for five years"? Clips from Smart Alec will appear on screen while a clock's "face" covered with a hairy ass tick tocks away. We tried to get The Roots for the house band...but they were already booked on the Jimmy Fallon show... Later we lucked out and were able to contract Woody Woodbury for the first seven shows. We have put out "feelers" to Joe Franklin, Pinky Lee, Soupy Sales, and Richard Dawson to be the "announcer" but none have returned any of our calls. (This lack of "return" may be due to the fact that three out of our four "feelers" are dead). We hope to talk to Scotty Crane, the son of Bob Crane, and try and get him to give us the rights to his father's super 8 "swinger" films. We would like to use the footage from these "home movies" as our lead in and also as background when the credits roll. The show will be up tight and out of sight. Laugh-In meets Boogie Nights. Says special consultant Diane Hanson, sex editor for Taschen Books, "Bang a gong and get it on...'Who Gives A Shit' will finally answer the question: who wants to be a millionaire"?

If you would like to appear as part of the "studio audience"... please contact: mervgriffen@i'dliketobuyavowel.com
Tickets for the "cat bird" seat will be auctioned off live before each show. The Pleasure Is All Mine singers will be there to guide you through the bidding.
Those lucky enough to score this "throne" will be provided, (after they sit) with their very own bean bag. (They will need it. The throne will be based on Mr. Ed's phallus reportedly used by Peggy Guggenheim, Annie Sprinkles, and Dom DeLuise to pleasure themselves into thinking they were Spartacus.
Canned yuks, guffaw's, and belly laughs will be sampled from out-takes from Hee Haw, Sanford and Son, Dobie Gillis, and The Bill Dana show.
A trailer from Howard Johnson's "Heave Ho" will round out the festivities. ("Rounding Out" "To Say The Least").
Due to advertising restrictions on cable tv... the bills will be paid for by The Dump... a company owned and operated by Dude 'O Liscious, a company owned and operated by Exactly One, a company owned and operated by Mistress Shaun, a company owned and operated by Shell Vaseline, a company owned and operated by A Zillion Uses...
The National Anthem will be sung by holograms of Andy Williams, Marc Bolan, and Imogene Coca.
We're in need of a theme song. Submissions can be sent to Confusion Is Sex. Guaranteed Lyrics will be performed by Pistolero Andsons.

11/9/2012

The Gig Is Up:True of False.

Richard Prince tries to asshole his way into mammary mecca Scores... only to be velvety roped the fuck out of there. "You can't come in here dude... Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock are inside taste testing their constituents genital histories. Sorry, the place is sold out". Prince misses out on the party favors. Prince bummed. Prince last seen instagramming pics of himself lap dancing with John Currin's Bea Arthur.

Memo to artists who use stencil: Check out... Sigmar Polke: We Petty Bourgeois!
Specifically his 1978 painting "GDR-Emblem". His 1971-75 painting "Lucky Luke and His Friend".

White Paintings: Per Skarstedt... just opened yesterday...has it really been twenty years? Painted them all at 94 Reade St. Tribeca. Before Tribeca turned. I remember renting a room in my loft to Sheryl Lee who played Laura Palmer in Twin Peaks. Also rented a room to Tim Burton's first wife. (Walked into her room once and the walls were covered with whips and chains. Immediately retired my leather chaps). Spent every night eating mash potatoes and spinach at The Odeon. Blacked-out on martini's for Mother Cabrini. Had "movie nights" on Thursdays. Richard Flood, Larry Clark, Matthew Barney, Christopher Wool, Glenn O'Brien would bring their favorite five minutes of film or video for "viewing pleasure". For lunch, I once went 165 days in row there eating chicken fried rice from a Chinese take-out. I painted and silkscreened these paintings on the floor. My back got fucked up from bending over all day and I had to kill the pain with pain killers. Pain Killing Paintings.

These paintings have never been shown in the states. A few times in Europe. In a museum in Wolfsburg. And in Berlin at a show called Metropolis. Shows that no one remembers. Eleven "white paintings" were made for Documenta in 1992? (I don't know the number of the Documenta. I managed to buy back on of these painting and lent it to Skarstedt's show).
Francois Pinault owns the four 'white paintings' I made for Metropolis. Tall paintings. Over 15ft. I remember seeing them when he showed them in Venice at one of his Palazzo's. When I made them I had my assistant Daphne Fitzpatrick video the making. This was 1993? A couple of years ago I looked at the footage for the first time. It's either the worst documentation ever made... fuzzy, out of focus, under lit, and with sound you can hardly hear and understand... or maybe it's good... unwatchable... maybe, instead, you have to see the paintings, in person... either way, the White Paintings are art made and from and for, what I like to call, Even Lower Manhattan...

11/8/2012

Howard Johnson says, "declares" Art Forum and Frieze magazines irrelevant. "I pick them up and I don't know what the fuck I'm reading. Frieze is especially frustrating. It's like I'm in Sharon Lockhart Anne Hamilton Bill Viola world. The soup is goo! I thought Documenta was suppose to be limited to every five years. Didn't they get the message? Rod Serling might have something to do with it... I don't know... it's like Rod The Mod is occupying the minds of the editors and sprinkled quicksand in their "marginalia". I wish they'd do more historical pieces. Or publish blasts from the past. Not another story about artists dipping elastic bands in paint and flicking them at gessoed canvas. Sure the ads in Art Forum are everything... but please don't take any out on me".

Howard Johnson will be hosting the first episode of Fulton Ryder's X-rated game show WHO GIVES A SHIT on Showtime December 16th 4am central 16pm Pacific. For more information please contact wesleysnipes@artforum.com.

11/7/2012

Your Jammin Me Up Here... Or... Could You Get Your Head Out Of My Ass..

Am I suppose to me nice to people who write about me?
There's a guy out there, his name is Andrew Russeth or Judd Tulley or something like that... I think it's Russeth...(doesn't matter, they probably both share the same brain)... and this guy Russeth describes himself as a "cultural observer"... (whatever the fuck that is)... And this guy Russeth keeps thinking about me and puts out what he's thinking for anyone stupid enough to listen. (I'm probably the only one who reads his crap so it's not like I've got anything to complain about). I think Russeth also works at Metro Pictures. (Now that's creepy). Anyway... four years ago he started drooling over my Tiffany Paintings... Well "drooling" might not be the operative word... more like heavy breathing than drool.
He went on to say (after he stopped breathing), that the Tiffany Paintings were a dead end... empty... and clearly the work of an artist who had run out of ideas. MMM MMM GOOD.
So... I would like to continue to "run aground" and come up empty and instead quote, (re-bird) my friend and artist Howard Johnson when he said, "Richard, you know better than anyone... get use to eating shit or your going starve"

Which brings me to... the cliche of the "starving artist"... Eat shit or die! (Right after this cliche you should hear a drum roll followed by the theme song to Groucho Marx's game show You Bet Your Life...

Which brings me to... I'd like to extend to both Andrew Russeth and Judd Tully an invitation to appear on my new X-rated game show Who Gives A Shit... soon to appear on Showtime. (A three show deal has recently been optioned). If they would like to appear as contestants please contact Fulton Ryder at richardprince.com. They can appear separately or fuse themselves together to Vincent Price their "easier said than done" shit...

File under: "I hadn't thought of it"... I wonder if Manzoni ran out of ideas when he canned his own shit...

Slappin Da Base Mahn: Tomorrow on the show... Filling in the Canal Zone. Laundering money. What happen to Noreaga? Why I can't vote. Growing up with spooks. Ham radios. W1UOH uncle oboe how. Who or what was sending out the SOS signal in the movie On The Beach?


11/5/2012

No. Yes. Yes. No. Yes and no. Maybe. I don't know. I don't care.
That's the trouble with art. It's subjective. It's in "the eye of the beholder". Yea that crap. "I know what I like". Well Richard Prince is here to tell you... "you don't". You don't know shit and never will. Why can Prince say this? Let me answer this question with another question. How many Clifford Stills are hanging in living rooms between the city of New York and Chicago? One? Two? Sixteen? That's the answer. None of the above. And I don't even like Clifford Still that much. I like the "idea" of Still... but if you've seen one you've seen them all. And I don't even mean that. That's just another lazy-ass way of talking about art. Clifford's main problem for me is that he didn't allow any other art to appear in his immediate surroundings. Studio or house. Even beach house. All that was there was his work. Not even a fucking postcard. What was he afraid of? Sure, you might call that kind of discipline, "focus"... but Richard Prince calls it "fear".

Richard Prince is the one to decide whether its good or not.
It's up to me. I don't need another badge. I am the art world. Stay out of it. Your not welcome. It's none of your business. And unless I ask you your opinion your point of view will be wrapped up in a garbage bag, put in a trash can, (with the lid solidly secured), and left out in an alley way down in Even Lower Manhattan. I don't need an audience. What I do is for me and a few. Very few.

Franz Kline is another idea that Richard Prince likes. The paintings are great too... don't get me wrong... "don't get me wrong" sounds like something I should say once a week.. I fell in love with Kline after I saw one of his paintings hanging in Hugh Hefner's bedroom. Is that anyway to fall in love with art? Probably not. I never said "Richard Prince is a genius". (But he does have unusual feelings) I think I said that about Richard Prince somewhere in an early "writing"... somewhere in Why I Go To The Movies Alone... Try getting that book, the hardcover... the limited edition with a dustjacket... I beg you, if you find one please sell it back to me...I have maybe two... it's one of my publications that has its own dreams. There were 150 signed and numbered copies that were suppose to see the light of day but the publisher, Tanam Press, disappeared along with it's publisher, Arthur Cravan... Arthur was last seen dropping off Lew Welch at Pettycoat Junction near Mayberry just down the road from Don Knotts farm... where was I?

"Where Was I?" (That's a phrase I should repeat every couple of months). Rain it in. Slow it down. You can coast from here. Breath... and yes, I know I misspelled "rain"...

Back to Betty Kline... Hugh Hefner's bedroom was the room I wanted to live in. I wanted to live in a bedroom and never leave a house. And it would be double pleasure if the house was mine. That's why I like the idea of Hugh Hefner. He did his job in his bedroom... in his pajamas... in his robe, smoking a pipe... and looking at pictures of naked ladies all day. Wait a minute. Is that true? Is that what he did? God Damn! And he did all that with a Franz Kline hanging on his wall.

Question: did Hefner invent the centerfold? And if he didn't, who did?
One of my first impressions of Kline was a photograph of him in his 14th St. loft staring out a front window with his foot up on the sill with a cigarette in his hand. Whatever there was in that photograph I wanted to be in...

And now I'm in it and I'm not done... Before I leave two "birds" with one stone...

Fat Fuck Dean Valentine has recently "blown up". A spokesman for Valentine said his recent "gain" prompted the West Coast collector to declare himself a "desert island". Richard Prince says he will refuse to pay his docking fees.

Dave Hickey, the American art and culture critic, (sort of)... has just received the Barbara Cartland Award for his book of essays, Air Guitar. (Is that what it was? A book of essays? I don't remember reading it. That's sort of like him talking about art without having actually seen it). Anyway, he will soon be amongst those precious few to be granted exclusive rights to Barbara Cartland's Pink Collection.

One more "bird" for tomorrow... John Dogg would like to know why is Tom Wolfe taking art "tips" from his idiot daughter...?

11/6/2012

Woke Up Got Out Of Bed, Dragged A Comb Across My Head.. Thoughts on the New Social.

I talked this morning to John Dogg about his "gripe" concerning Tom Wolfe's daughter. "It wasn't a gripe", he said. "I'm angry". "Besides", he said... maybe idiot wasn't the right word, the right description... maybe I should of said idiotic".
Angry... why is Dogg angry? He doesn't know. All he does know is that it's a relief to get it out. He told me he stopped going to his shrink. "It wasn't doing any good. I can't spend the rest of my life talking about my mother". I told him some of the best artists were "mamma's boy's". Cezanne. Mondrian. Warhol. His anger he said is part of the of the way he deals with his lot in life. "It's just part of me, and I'm not going to try to ignore it or hide from it, or take it to bed with me. I want a good night's sleep and when I wake up in the morning I'm not going to turn the other cheek". Wolfe's daughter blind sided me. Double-crossed me in an interview. She shit in my face. I know I can't even the score and shouldn't even try... I should ignore her and point a bone at her and do some secret voodoo shit to her... but this is just as good. Besides the rules have changed. The 'mediums' are here. The New Social has leveled the playing field".

Apocalypse Now

Four weeks ago I lost power at my place upstate. During a rainstorm. Lots of hale. Big winds. The telephone pole came down in my yard. It had been there for thirty years. I owned it. It's the only one in the yard and it's maintenance is my responsibility. We were three weeks without electricity. I don't know anything about electricity. I've probably bought sixty seventy flash lights during my lifetime. Maybe more. I've put all kinds of batteries in them and when it comes time to use them they never work. I lived upstate for fourteen years. Two thousand feet in the air. Just behind the Catskills at the end of a dead-end dirt road. During those fourteen years I've learned to live with the "elements". Not really my choice but you adapt and end up buying every snow removal piece of equipment known to mankind. (There's was a snowstorm on April 1st in 1998 that blanketed my yard with 38 inches of that fucking "white rain". I spent the morning removing the stuff riding my tractor slash plow and ended up getting sunstroke... very unpleasant... right up there with shingles and food poisoning).

Ice storms were the worst. They usually come in November. There's no snow. Just freezing rain that attaches itself to every surface in your immediate surrounding. You can't move. You stay in the house next to the wood stove and candles. Your "landlocked" for three days.

You learn about fuel. The difference between gas, diesel, propane. Generators are a luxury. You start off with one that's gas fed. It'll run up till six hours before it needs a re-fill. Pain in the ass. You can run your fridge and boiler and a couple of lights. You shut it down when you go to sleep and fire it back up in the morning. You don't want to get out of bed.

In January of 2001 we had thirty inches of snow on the ground and it turned unseasonably warm and it rained, so the warm temperature and down pour and melting of the snow flooded our yard and basement and our stream became a river and overflowed into our barns. One of the paintings I lost was a fairly large Meyer Viceman... I don't remember how many art works I lost that day but I mention the Viceman because the sides of the painting had already been eaten by mice.

One of my building got hit by lightning. Went up in smoke. The building was going to be part of the Guggenheim. Most of the art in it had been removed for re-modleing but there still several pieces installed. The lightning storm happened in August of 2006? I remember getting the phone call. "Lightning"? "Are you sure someone didn't start a fire"? (We have our share of meth labs in the area). What are the fucking chances? Sure... I know building get hit by lightning, but fire too? (Turns out the strike went right into the junction box that was located in the garage).

I learned about

11/7/2012

First let me send out a huge FUCK YOU to Artinfo.com for "re-blogging" my "blog". This isn't a blog asshole... (I don't know what the fuck artinfo is so that's why I'm guessing singular")... It's "birdtalk". And I've been "birding" since 1990. Check out early issues of Purple Magazine if you don't believe me. And yes, 'twitter" stole my idea and even had the one testicle to use a "bird" as their icon. But did I sue them? No. And why? I don't believe in copyright. You can take, steal, use, borrow, share and "appropriate" any idea I have and I won't give a shit. It's a free concert and I've got plenty of ideas. (More where that came from). And why do I "bird"? So I can empty all the stupid crap that piles up in my head before it explodes into fingernails on a blackboard and drives me insane. (I would take drugs again but I've got a family to feed) Do I care if anybody reads this shit? Does the Pope Smoke Dope? No. For all I care, artinfo.com can fuck the horse that I rode in on and fuck the bartender too. So now that's out of the way, let's begin...

11/6/2012

Woke Up Got Out Of Bed, Dragged A Comb Across My Head.. Thoughts on the New Social.

I talked this morning to John Dogg about his "gripe" concerning Tom Wolfe's daughter. "It wasn't a gripe", he said. "I'm angry". "Besides", he said... maybe idiot wasn't the right word, the right description... maybe I should of said idiotic".
Angry... why is Dogg angry? He doesn't know. All he does know is that it's a relief to get it out. He told me he stopped going to his shrink. "It wasn't doing any good. I can't spend the rest of my life talking about my mother". I told him some of the best artists were "mamma's boy's". Cezanne. Mondrian. Warhol. His anger he said is part of the of the way he deals with his lot in life. "It's just part of me, and I'm not going to try to ignore it or hide from it, or take it to bed with me. I want a good night's sleep and when I wake up in the morning I'm not going to turn the other cheek". Wolfe's daughter blind sided me. Double-crossed me in an interview. She shit in my face. I know I can't even the score and shouldn't even try... I should ignore her and point a bone at her and do some secret voodoo shit to her... but this is just as good. Besides the rules have changed. The 'mediums' are here. The New Social has leveled the playing field".

Apocalypse Now

Four weeks ago I lost power at my place upstate. During a rainstorm. Lots of hale. Big winds. The telephone pole came down in my yard. It had been there for thirty years. I owned it. It's the only one in the yard and it's maintenance is my responsibility. We were three weeks without electricity. I don't know anything about electricity. I've probably bought sixty seventy flash lights during my lifetime. Maybe more. I've put all kinds of batteries in them and when it comes time to use them they never work. I lived upstate for fourteen years. Two thousand feet in the air. Just behind the Catskills at the end of a dead-end dirt road. During those fourteen years I've learned to live with the "elements". Not really my choice but you adapt and end up buying every snow removal piece of equipment known to mankind. (There's was a snowstorm on April 1st in 1998 that blanketed my yard with 38 inches of that fucking "white rain". I spent the morning removing the stuff riding my tractor slash plow and ended up getting sunstroke... very unpleasant... right up there with shingles and food poisoning).

Ice storms were the worst. They usually come in November. There's no snow. Just freezing rain that attaches itself to every surface in your immediate surrounding. You can't move. You stay in the house next to the wood stove and candles. Your "landlocked" for three days.

You learn about fuel. The difference between gas, diesel, propane. Generators are a luxury. You start off with one that's gas fed. It'll run up till six hours before it needs a re-fill. Pain in the ass. You can run your fridge and boiler and a couple of lights. You shut it down when you go to sleep and fire it back up in the morning. You don't want to get out of bed.

In January of 2001 we had thirty inches of snow on the ground and it turned unseasonably warm and it rained, so the warm temperature and down pour and melting of the snow flooded our yard and basement and our stream became a river and overflowed into our barns. One of the paintings I lost was a fairly large Meyer Viceman... I don't remember how many art works I lost that day but I mention the Viceman because the sides of the painting had already been eaten by mice.

One of my building got hit by lightning. Went up in smoke. The building was going to be part of the Guggenheim. Most of the art in it had been removed for re-modleing but there still several pieces installed. The lightning storm happened in August of 2006? I remember getting the phone call. "Lightning"? "Are you sure someone didn't start a fire"? (We have our share of meth labs in the area). What are the fucking chances? Sure... I know building get hit by lightning, but fire too? (Turns out the strike went right into the junction box that was located in the garage).

I learned about

11/5/2012

No. Yes. Yes. No. Yes and no. Maybe. I don't know. I don't care.
That's the trouble with art. It's subjective. It's in "the eye of the beholder". Yea that crap. "I know what I like". Well Richard Prince is here to tell you... "you don't". You don't know shit and never will. Why can Prince say this? Let me answer this question with another question. How many Clifford Stills are hanging in living rooms between the city of New York and Chicago? One? Two? Sixteen? That's the answer. None of the above. And I don't even like Clifford Still that much. I like the "idea" of Still... but if you've seen one you've seen them all. And I don't even mean that. That's just another lazy-ass way of talking about art. Clifford's main problem for me is that he didn't allow any other art to appear in his immediate surroundings. Studio or house. Even beach house. All that was there was his work. Not even a fucking postcard. What was he afraid of? Sure, you might call that kind of discipline, "focus"... but Richard Prince calls it "fear".

Richard Prince is the one to decide whether its good or not.
It's up to me. I don't need another badge. I am the art world. Stay out of it. Your not welcome. It's none of your business. And unless I ask you your opinion your point of view will be wrapped up in a garbage bag, put in a trash can, (with the lid solidly secured), and left out in an alley way down in Even Lower Manhattan. I don't need an audience. What I do is for me and a few. Very few.

Franz Kline is another idea that Richard Prince likes. The paintings are great too... don't get me wrong... "don't get me wrong" sounds like something I should say once a week.. I fell in love with Kline after I saw one of his paintings hanging in Hugh Hefner's bedroom. Is that anyway to fall in love with art? Probably not. I never said "Richard Prince is a genius". (But he does have unusual feelings) I think I said that about Richard Prince somewhere in an early "writing"... somewhere in Why I Go To The Movies Alone... Try getting that book, the hardcover... the limited edition with a dustjacket... I beg you, if you find one please sell it back to me...I have maybe two... it's one of my publications that has its own dreams. There were 150 signed and numbered copies that were suppose to see the light of day but the publisher, Tanam Press, disappeared along with it's publisher, Arthur Cravan... Arthur was last seen dropping off Lew Welch at Pettycoat Junction near Mayberry just down the road from Don Knotts farm... where was I?

"Where Was I?" (That's a phrase I should repeat every couple of months). Rain it in. Slow it down. You can coast from here. Breath... and yes, I know I misspelled "rain"...

Back to Betty Kline... Hugh Hefner's bedroom was the room I wanted to live in. I wanted to live in a bedroom and never leave a house. And it would be double pleasure if the house was mine. That's why I like the idea of Hugh Hefner. He did his job in his bedroom... in his pajamas... in his robe, smoking a pipe... and looking at pictures of naked ladies all day. Wait a minute. Is that true? Is that what he did? God Damn! And he did all that with a Franz Kline hanging on his wall.

Question: did Hefner invent the centerfold? And if he didn't, who did?
One of my first impressions of Kline was a photograph of him in his 14th St. loft staring out a front window with his foot up on the sill with a cigarette in his hand. Whatever there was in that photograph I wanted to be in...

And now I'm in it and I'm not done... Before I leave two "birds" with one stone...

Fat Fuck Dean Valentine has recently "blown up". A spokesman for Valentine said his recent "gain" prompted the West Coast collector to declare himself a "desert island". Richard Prince says he will refuse to pay his docking fees.

Dave Hickey, the American art and culture critic, (sort of)... has just received the Barbara Cartland Award for his book of essays, Air Guitar. (Is that what it was? A book of essays? I don't remember reading it. That's sort of like him talking about art without having actually seen it). Anyway, he will soon be amongst those precious few to be granted exclusive rights to Barbara Cartland's Pink Collection.

One more "bird" for tomorrow... John Dogg would like to know why is Tom Wolfe taking art "tips" from his idiot daughter...?

11/3/2012

Bird Is The Word

Memo To Turner: Leave my art alone. The works of art of mine that were damaged... do not try to clean, repair, or destroy. "I like them that way". Memories of Second House. Who says lightning doesn't strike twice.

Memo to Artinfo: Fuck you and the horse you rode in on.

Vito Acconci follows Lance Armstrong down West Side Highway. Armstrong in a speedo... Acconci in a wetsuit. It's a photofinish. Tie goes to the artist.

Half Gallery invites Syrian Rebels to "hole" up... "it'll be like a vacation".

Howard Johnson reconsiders Thomas Hirschhorn. Say's he wishes he didn't have to.

Canal Zone paintings still locked up in Brooklyn warehouse. Prince says he tried to move them to Chelsea before the storm.

John Dogg isn't interested in re-fund. Says he likes his "cans" empty. No deposit. No return.

Richard Prince teams up with the soft drink Arizona. Prince accused of selling out. (For the seventh time, maybe eight) In his "offense"...he says, "The only thing I know about Arizona is that I've got an uncle there in the witness protection program".

God Save Freddy Mercury.

File under "my good buddy". Matthew Barney ups the ante: Reconstructs Norman Mailer's Brooklyn home and floats it down the Hudson. Al Green's "Take Me To The River" can be heard wafting out of Mailer's living room...

Calling all Avalanche artists.

Christopher Wool knows all to well...

Buyer Be Good: Sandy(Heller) said to flip water stained foul smelling dirt encrusted Howard Johnson to Phillips de Pury...confirmation not forth coming... at the moment there's no law or regulation governing Howard or Phillip.


10/26/2012

It Ain't Me Babe

What do they call a "royale" with cheese? I did not paint Kate Middleton topless on a pumpkin. If I was going to paint someone on a pumpkin naked I would of painted either Rupert(Pumpkin) or the very lovely Nettie Harris.

10/23/2012

The Hollies. The Byrds. The Buffalo Springfield. Put them together and you get Crosby Stills and Nash. Went to see them last night at the Beacon. They were there to perform their first album from start to finish. I'll always remember seeing that album cover. When did it come out? 1968-69? The photograph on the cover was down home. Very unrock like. I wasn't much of a fan until Neil Young joined. But I aways loved Stills and Crosby's voices. And they still have them. (I was reminded too what an amazing guitar player Stills is). "I almost cut my hair today". Killer song. It was great to see sixty and seventy year olds getting up and out of their seats last night and letting their freak flag fly...

10/24/2012

A Real Bronx Cheer... a new book by Dan Colen came out last night. The launch party was at Smalls in the West Village... a "small" jazz club that's literally underground. The book party was MC'd by Ron Delsner with special guests Glenn O'Brien, Stephanie Seymour, David Blaine, Uncle Dirty, and the ghost of Phillis Diller. Ron's been around show biz so long when he started out nickels were made out of wood. (rim shot) The book was published by Fulton Ryder and the event was organized Fabiola. (I'm trying to convince her to keep it single). Fulton Ryder would like to thank Dan and Ron for putting on a great show and showing us how to put our faith in good revolution.

10/18/2012

It's funny to see a work of art that you've made but never shown... that you've kept behind and out of sight and then see the very same thing "show up" and done by another artist. And I'm not talking about a variation. I'm talking the "same thing". It happened to me today when I was looking at the "outdoor" sculpture that's accompanying FIAC spread out in the Tuileries. (I wasn't there. I was looking at the art on line) The piece was a sunken boat. A row boat. The edges were the only thing above the surface and the continuous line they made turned the shape into an erotic opening. Maybe "opening" is the wrong description. The outline was more of a negative and the harmony of the object and its surroundings made perfect sense. It was actually better than what I had done in one of my upstate ponds. A couple of years ago I was making a video where part of the story called for the sinking of a ship. I didn't have a ship but I had a rowboat and I basically scuttled the tiny vessel until the only thing showing were it's edges which formed a perfect cunt like shape. (I wanted to sink one of those large cruise ships and have everybody jump overboard but Shelley Wintered it so I made due with what I had). The sunken row boat stayed like that until the cold set in and the pond froze and when the Spring came and everything thawed it had disappeared into the depths and the only way you could view it was to scuba your way down to its graveyard. I was glad to see the piece in the Tuileries today. It was simply called "Boat". As I said a better boat. Its purpose was more abstract, more artful and straightforward. It's kind of a relief. I guess I can leave my boat in its graveyard and leave it to its own adventure.


10/17/2012

Last night I asked my wife how to spell the name Robert Hughes. She asked me "why... did he say something bad about you"? I told her yea, but that had nothing to do with what I wanted to say. "Bad about me...that I'm use to." What I wanted to say was how I reacted to a text I had just read... about the fact that Robert Hughes was to be "remembered" at the Met tomorrow. That's exactly what the text said. She said, "and what was your reaction?" I told her my reaction was, and what I wanted to say was... "Robert Hughes is to be "forgotten" tomorrow at the Met". She kind of physically recoiled and said, "that's pretty mean. Why are you even bothering to say anything? Don't you always ignore these irrelevant people?" I said, "yea, but this reaction about being "forgotten" came pretty quickly. It rings true." "Yea, but even so", she said, "it's still mean spirited and shallow". She said, "didn't he write for Time magazine? I mean Time magazine... come on. They wouldn't know how to spell the word cat if you spotted them a "c" and an "a"." "Yea, your right", I said, "but it's hard to put it out of my mind. And why the Met? The fucking Met? What the fuck is that about? I don't see the Met remembering any of my dead friends." "Don't go there", she said. I said, "Where"? "The Met"? "No" she shouted. She shouted "shit head" too. Now she was pissed at me. She started to walk away and leave the room. She was in no mood to listen my "bother". One last turn before she went upstairs, "What you should do if you can and I'm sure you can't is forget about yourself".

There's Something About Mary

I wish women would stop shaving their pubic hair. Let it grow. I hate it when the pussy is shaved. It's awful looking and it looks painful. It so much better when it's covered by lots of hair. It's suppose to be that way. The more hair the better. A big nest of hair. Crimson flames. High and mighty traps. And while your at it, why don't you let the hair under your arms grow back too. Black bra... terrorist or friend?

THE JET GENERATION

Or how would they put it... Generation Jet? The process of ink jetting images on paper and canvas has been around now since the mid-eighties... maybe even sooner but I know I first came to use it when I printed a monochromatic joke painting and tried to give, (to feed) the process something that was hard to read. (Jeff Koons had used the same process a year before to print advertisements on canvas.) Back then you would farm an image out to a commercial lab and a technician would put the image thru, (scan) a commuter and the hardware would literally blow out four colors onto a chosen surface. My choice of giving the lab a monochromatic joke was deliberate. I knew the software would have problems reading the color. The results would be "mixed" at best. The interpretation of the mono(ness) would be off. I would get a color that was different, not the same, "almost" true. Fast forward now. Now you have your own printers, in your own room, and the control in your own hands. (At least you think you do.) And if you so chose to, you could use the printer, the process, the ink, as your medium. Well someone did. And that someone is now the subject of a mid-career retrospective at The Whitney Museum. The Whitney isn't open today. Tomorrow? Yea, tomorrow. Maybe tomorrow I can go over and see Wade Guyton's show. Right now he's the guy who's printing up the storm.

Base. Basic. Base(ism). Based on what? Grounded. Subtext. Non-fiction. Rooted in fact. Sort of. Almost. Almost real. As a matter of fact.... Versus... fabulation, made up, gesture, raring to go, ego, I'm a believer, psychic jujitsu, mumbo jumbo religious story telling fairy tales and in dreams begins responsibility... There's a clear choice. And I've made mine. I like my art on something. In other words... I like my art based.

10/16/2012

The Jet Generation (Part Two)

Wade Guyton. I went to see the show. Just got back. There's something about the Shroud Of Turin there. At least that was my immediate take... that's what came to mind. The way the Shroud is supposedly "printed" from the fluids that flowed out of the body of Christ. Anyway... I liked the more recent work. The Untitled 2011 four part piece, all over grey, (Is it four parts? They wouldn't let me take photos with my I-phone even though I did) And I liked the giant piece in the back room... the two part stripe piece. I think with these two pieces he gets it rolling. The printer as medium makes more sense and the fact that there's less to look at is more satisfying. I also know that the older the printer the less I like the surface of what's printed. The way the ink from these older models sits on the surface has always looked like bad xerox. These new printers are doing a better job. I didn't get the sculpture or the chairs and the plywood pieces. I didn't think there was enough room for them. He should been given two floors. The floor, (the third) is way to small for all that he put up. But thats not to say I couldn't get off and get around...(we all make the same mistake as artists... we always put to much in). I was even able to dismiss a "public tour" that started just as I walked in off the elevator... I mean what do I have to do... make an appointment? Get the fuck out of my art world. Don't you know that art is for the very few? If I had been the curator it would have been the stripes, the monochromatic grey's, and the black X's. That was all I would of wrote. That would of been (as they say in the Jet Generation) "rad".

10/17/2012

Last night I asked my wife how to spell the name Robert Hughes. She asked me "why... did he say something bad about you"? I told her yea, but that had nothing to do with what I wanted to say. "Bad about me...that I'm use to." What I wanted to say was my reaction to a text I had just read about... about the fact that Robert Hughes was to be "remembered" at the Met tomorrow. That's exactly what the text said. She said, "and what was your reaction?" I told her my reaction was, and what I wanted to say was... "Robert Hughes is to be "forgotten" tomorrow at the Met". She kind of physically recoiled and said, "that's pretty mean. Why are you even bothering to say anything? Don't you always ignore these irrelevant people?" I said, "yea, but this reaction about being "forgotten" came pretty quickly. It rings true." "Yea, but even so, it's still mean spirited and shallow". She said, "didn't he write for Time magazine? I mean Time magazine... come on. They wouldn't know how to spell the word cat if you spotted them a "c" and an "a"." "Yea, your right", I said, "but it's hard to put it out of my mind. And why the Met? The fucking Met? What the fuck is that about? I don't see the Met remembering any of my dead friends." "Don't go there", she said. I said, "Where"? "The Met"? "No" she shouted. She shouted "shit head" too. Now she was pissed off at me. She started to walk away and leave the room. She was in no mood to listen my "bother". One last turn before she went upstairs, "What you should do if you can and I'm sure you can't is forget about yourself".

There's Something About Mary

Wade Guyton. I went to see the show. Just got back. There's something about the Shroud Of Turin there. At least that was my immediate take... that's what came to mind. The way the Shroud is supposedly "printed" from the fluids of the body of Christ. Anyway... I liked the more recent work. The Untitled 2011 four part piece, all over grey, (Is it four parts? They wouldn't let me take photos with my I-phone even though I did) And I liked the giant piece in the back room... the two part stripe piece. I think with these two pieces he gets rolling. The printer as medium makes more sense and the fact that there's less to look at is more satisfying. I also know that the older the printer the less I like the surface of what's printed. The way the ink from these older models sits on the surface has always looked like bad xerox. These new printers are doing a better job. I didn't get the sculpture or the chairs and the plywood pieces. I didn't think there was enough room for them. He should been given two floors. The floor, (the third) is way to small for all that he put up. But thats not to say I couldn't get off and get around... (I was even able to dismiss a "public tour" that started just as I walked in... I mean what do I have to do... make an appointment? Get the fuck out of my art world. Don't you know that art is for the very few?) If I had been the curator it would have been the stripes, the monochromatic grey's, and the black X's. That would of been (as they say in the Jet Generation) "rad".

10/8/2012

"Christopher Columbus. Sailed around the sea without a compass". That's a lyric from a Jim Kweskin and the Jug Band song. Maria Muldaur played fiddle for them. She later had hit song on college radio that had something to do with the Sheik of Araby. I once saw the Jug Band open for Frank Zappa and The Mothers of Invention. It was a strange choice for an opening band. But I didn't care. I had my copy of Avatar in my hands and peyote in my brain. Frank Zapper looked like he should have a name like Zapper. He looked like the character that Muldaur's hit song was about. (Maybe it wasn't such a strange juxtaposition after all) The concert was in Boston. And it was 1968. I remember this concert every time Columbus day roles around.

10/7/2012

What does a painter do when the sun is eclipsed? A lot of art... a lot of great art... comes out of a crisis. When Picasso reduced his palette to blacks, grays, and whites in the early forties the Nazis were occupying Paris.

From the "everybody must get stoned files". Wahhabism is the Midnight Express of religions.

Nazis steal art. Nazis kill the Jews who own the art. Nazis sell the art. Fifty/sixty years later what do they call the sold art? "Misappropriations".

The Pope's Butler is sentenced to 18 months in prison. Scroll down and read Howard Johnson's text The Pope's Butler.

There was no such thing as the Picture Generation. And anybody who says there was is either a Scientologist, a Christian Scientist, a Mormon, a pomp or a circumstance or someone who now believes in relational aesthetics.

Christo's Gates. In central park. Please... tell me they've been removed...Fuck me. I told you I didn't want to start thinking about Christo.

10/6/2012

Luc Tuymans. Chris Ofili. Peter Doig. And I guess you could even add Marlene Dumas. I love washes and stains and bleeds... but didn't Francesco Clemente already cover this kind of "style"? Why are people leaving him out of the discussion?

Ai Weiwei. Yes the guy is fighting China. And yes, he's the only contemporary Chinese artist that's doing anything remotely interesting. But I think he should forget about what American "conceptual" artists did in the seventies. Maybe he should start by locking away those Avalanche magazines he brought back to the mainland. If he'd like I have a nearly complete run of Art Rite's he could borrow.

Columbus Circle. Re-sculpting. Re-sculpting Columbus. It's a good idea. I think. Sometimes I can't decide. Maybe it's to clever. It's certainly "appropriate". Maybe I wish Chris Burden or Vito Acconci had done it. I drove past the "circle" the other day and looked at the all the scaffolding. I said to myself okay... next week I'll come back and walk up the ten flights and take a look. It's got me looking at bronze's on stone pedestals. I hope it doesn't start me thinking about Christo.

I going to buy a Leroy Neiman this coming weekend. I'm serious. There's an especially juicy one up for sale in Texas. I know what your going to say... "is he fucking kidding"? But I'm not... and... AND... I don't care. Jimmy Crack Corn. A rat's ass mother fucker. I guess my buying the Neiman can pretty much cancel out the three "birdtalks" I just posted above.

10/2/2012

When Sartre published "Being and Nothingness" in 1943, there was only one review, and that was by a friend Jean Paulhan who joked that the bulky work would be useful for weighing fruits and vegetables. That same year, (1943) Picasso would reduce his palette to black, grey, and beige reflecting his feelings towards the Nazi occupation of Paris. Sartre and Picasso would become friends along with Camus and Beauvoir. The four new friends would spend hours hanging out on the Left Bank in cafes. A new play was scheduled to debut on March 19, 1944. The author wasn't Camus or Sartre or Beauvoir. The author was Picasso. The Nazis had refused to allow him to exhibit his paintings in Paris, "but they had said nothing about plays".

Amy Timberlake, "The Dirty Cowboy"... is currently being challenged in schools and libraries. It's one of many books being celebrated by Banned Books Week now in its 30th anniversary year.


9/12/2012

No is more.
Purple Magazine.
Bettie Kline.
The Question Paintings.
Arizona.
Monument Valley.
Max Blag.
The Can Paintings.
Catcher In The Rye.
New Cowboys.


9/7/2012

The chance juxtaposition of a sewing machine and an umbrella on a dissecting table.

Eluard's wife, later Dali, better known as Gala.

I went on a blind date. Her name was Linda. I told her my name was Richard. I told her to meet me in front of the drugstore. When I got there and saw a woman standing there I went up to her and she said, "are you Richard"? I said, "yes". She said, "I'm not Linda".

Karl Max's mother once told him, "I wish you would start making some money, instead of writing about it".

Pegeen Guggenheim

The sound track to the movie the Social Network.

"Let it all hang out". That's not even close, NOT EVEN CLOSE to what Robert Crumb does.

Jonathan Winter, the comedian, is also a painter. He once painted a painting called "The First Day Of War". It was a landscape. Just a sky and a horizon. In the middle of the sky, in the middle of the painting there was a single bomb, falling, pointing down.

8/30/2012

A black man was arrested in Montgomery Alabama the other day for carrying a concealed weapon. He had a knife stuck in his back.

8/28/12

The Pope’s Butler

On Monday, a judge at the Vatican ordered the former butler of Pope Benedict XVI to stand trial, setting out charges for the first time that accused him of sexual deviancy. Specifically, fondling the Pope's private parts and inserting rubber bands into the Pope's anus to retrieve fecal matter that was then, when removed, "flicked" at the Pope's heavy clerical robes. At first, the brown stains on the garments appeared random and abstract, but upon closer inspection the secretions began to take on an "outline" that "articulated" the same kind of “ghost like apparition of Christ” that some say is embedded on the Shroud of Turin. An anonymous source told me that when placed under ultraviolet light the pattern on the robes appeared to "steam" and emit a foul odor as if something dead had not died. The accusations against the butler, Paolo Gabriele, were set out in a 35-page indictment that for the first time also accused a second Vatican employee, Claudio Sciarpelletti, a 48 year old "computer expert,” of aiding and abetting the crime. Previously the Vatican had said Mr. Gabriele was the only person suspected of sexual perversion. Mr. Sciarpelletti however, was described in the indictment as a "close friend,” not an accomplice whose only role was to make sure any extra discharge from the Pope's anus and erection was saved, bottled, and dated in order that the mix of fluids from the Pope's "back and front" could be soaked into wafers that would be then presented and placed on the tongues of pilgrims for future communions. The Rev. Federico Lombardi, the Vatican spokesman, said that the two friends described themselves as "the immortals"... a reference that was sympathetic to a forbidden organization of neo-Nazis based in Munich, Germany.

Benedict could at any time pardon the two lay suspects although it was not clear if he would do so. In any event, Father Lombardi said no trial would start before late September because the tribunal is in summer recess until September 30th. The two men would most likely be prosecuted in a single trial, Father Lombardi said.

Mr. Gabriele whose tasks included serving the Pope's meals and helping the Pope select altar boys for afternoon trysts, also admitted to frigging and fellating the Pope before bedtime. According to Gabriele..."The Pope has enormous testicles that hang in a pimply sack somewhere south of a lint filled groin. The testes are outsized to the point where the fulcrum of their seesaw would jab into my cheek like a well-delivered rabbit punch. Their movement reminded me of a pit and a pendulum. When I gulped the last squirt from the pontiffs member I would black out from the repeated blows to the side of my head. Another duty of mine was to transfer all of the Pope's pubic hair and place the curls under both of his arms. I would snip the pubes with specially blessed and wine-soaked scissors and attach the hairs with my saliva to his underarms. After they dried and fell away, I would restore them to his special pillow. It would take approximately two years of cutting and stuffing to achieve the proper fluff.”

The indictment, said Mr. Gabriele, had confessed to taking certain "sensitive" documents. The sensitivity at this time can only be guessed at, but sources close to the prosecution said at least one of the documents alluded to soiled undergarments that were used as restraints, masks, and a substitute for toilet paper.

The case has shaken the Vatican since January when leaked documents detailing claims of "devilish behavior" began appearing in Italian newspapers. In May, an Italian journalist, Gianluigi Nuzzi, published a book suggesting material based on sheaves of documents stolen from the Pope's office, highlighting the Pope's displeasure at the ways in which Jews and Arabs fornicated and procreated. Apparently, there were references to the lack of hygiene between the sexes. The derogatory term "towel-head" was used when describing the way the two cultures douched. There was also some misunderstanding on the Pope's part in wrapping his thoughts around a woman's cycle. He believed, it seemed, that the blood from a period was used to block light on stained glass windows. The Pope suggested this "filtering" of light contributed to the darkening of heaven. When asked about the report, the Pope’s only response was to chant and cheer like a monkey... the same kind of sounds favored by Italian soccer fans.

In May, Mr. Gabriele was arrested. At the time, he was handcuffed to the steering wheel of the Pope-Mobile located in an underground garage on Vatican grounds. Mr. Gabriele told investigators that he had taken the documents because he believed that the Pope was not adequately informed of "evil and corruption.” That the Pope had "gone too far" and that he, the butler, wanted to "expose and expunge.”

The former butler was said to believe that a "shock," perhaps through the media, would provide a "healthy" way to bring the church back on the right track. In some ways, he told investigators he saw himself as an “infiltrator” acting on behalf of the Holy Spirit. Asked why he was found "tethered" to the steering wheel of the Pope-Mobile when arrested, Gabriele smiled and said, "It's where the Pope would send me after I dogged his arse. He told me I would be safe there. It's bullet proof.”

The indictment also said that a search of Mr. Gabriele's apartment at the Vatican had unearthed items including a check for $123,000 made out to the Pope along with a golden nugget and sixteenth century translation of Virgil's "Aeneid". Found too, was a papier-mâché sculpture of a crucified Jesus made out of pages torn from James Joyce's Chamber Music (it's rumored that Joyce selected Chamber Music as the title for his first book of poetry after hearing a prostitute urinate in a chamber pot). When asked to explain his behavior and how he planned to respond to the charges, Mr. Gabriele told investigators that he had "no excuse" and only removed those items due to "degeneration of my disorder.”

Howard Johnson re-porting from an article based on a report that appeared in the Herald Tribune by Paola Nuvola.

8/24/2012

Who wrote the famous ditty Funculi-Funicula? Tony Danza? Ted Danza? Luigi Denza?

Young Land. Imitation One. End Apathy. Definite Hate. These are the names of bands. If I painted these names on canvas... should you love the painting, hate the painting, not care about the painting?

James Joyce's title to his poetry collection Chamber Music was inspired while Joyce was entertaining a lady of easy virtue who retired behind a screen to relieve herself in a chamber pot. Upon hearing the sound of her "stream", Joyce declared, "now theirs a critic"...

I'am always disappointing guests at party's... I'am neither inclined nor able to shine socially.

'Why should I regret my talent? I haven't any... Chance furnishes me what I need. I am like a man who stumbles along; my foot strikes something, I bend over, and it is exactly what I want.'

Virginia Woolf described Ulysses as 'an illiterate, underbred book... the book of a self-taught working man... egotistic, insistent, raw, and ultimately nauseating.'

'Piracy... Commerce without its folly-swaddles, just as God made it'. Ambrose Bierce, The Devil's Dictionary, 1911'.

'There was a young man from St. John's/ Who wanted to Roger the swans./ "Oh no," said the porter,/ "Oblige with my daughter,/ The birds are reserved for the dons." '

To make something an entirely new thing... it can neither be what the eye sees or the ear hears. It can be only what the mind imagines from moment to moment.

Woman's undergarments are a powerful fixation. I carry a pair of women's draws (from a doll) in my pocket.

Footheated faces. I have found my new whetstone.

"If I am a sun, as you say, it's a sun which is often under an eclipse."

As an artist, I am against every state.

The word "amanuenses" will be the subject of a new "definition" painting by Howard Johnson.

My story? You want my story? Fear of betrayal, unfulfilled marriage, sexual frustration, thwarted ambition, the smothering effects of religion, cruel and casual bigotry, the wretchedness of wasted lives.

I painted nurses as a protest against myself.

7/29/2012

Let it bleed

I wouldn't mind re-creating the stage that the Stones played on at Altamont. When you see it in the film Gimmie Shelter, it's pretty close to the ground and not at all that big. In other words, it was small and thrown together with crappy plywood the night before the concert. There was no "moat" or fence or other barrier around it to keep the fans away. I guess I could hire a Hell's Angel to walk around on it and keep a look out.

Chuckwagon

Walter Pichler passed away on July 16th. I remember seeing a catalogue of his "fantastical structures" in 1975? Anyway I loved them and the way he drew them and the fact that he retreated to his farm and built "underground" bunkers on his property. I loved them so much that I aped his style of drawing back in the mid-seventies and made several "after" Pichler drawings myself. I used hot-press drache paper and a number two-h pencil to do them. I stretched the paper with water-tape and applied a watery acrylic that would "pebble" on the surface of the paper. Fast forward... I just completed a small house shingled with "vinyl" long playing records on my own property upstate called "Loud Song"... It's just a simple one room structure, maybe 150 sq. ft. at most, with the most amazing views looking back at the Catskills. I'm thinking now maybe I should hang some of my Pichler-like drawings in the "Song"....

7/4/2012

I've never been a fan of "performance art". Well, maybe the word "fan" isn't the way to describe it. Indifferent is perhaps a better description. But I have to say after seeing the HBO doc. on Marina Abromovic I was kind of bowled over by the simplicity, and all the elemental stuff in that last piece of hers she calls The Artist Is Present. I think the title is brilliant. I can't think of a better way to describe what she was doing. And what she was doing hardly anything. I liked the way she muted her performance so that the audience became the real performers. Some of the relationships between her and her "sitters" almost became religious. (I wonder if she thought about providing them with a day bed instead of a chair.) I've always thought that piece she did with her boyfriend Ulyee back in the seventies of just her and him standing naked in a doorway so that when and if you went thru the doorway you kind of had to step in sideways and maybe even the stepping in sideways might make you brush up against their nakedness. That piece for me is the spiral jetty of performance art. And while I'm on the subject, don't forget Valerie Export. I met her once out in L.A. I've always loved that photograph she did where she's sitting down full frontal holding a gun and has cut a hole in the crotch of her jeans exposing her vagina and a big bush of pubic hair... I mean the whole vibe of that image was so "right on" late sixties up against the wall motherfucker don't cry for me Patty Hearst. The way she "electrified" her hair in that picture kicked the ever loving jams out of the park. On an aside... Valerie's "tits" in a box piece is in the top ten. Just to re-aquaint... she strapped a cardbox over her chest and if you gave her something like a dollar you or a friend could put your hands in the box and, well... cop a feel. There's great footage of her walking around somewhere like Prague and having complete strangers coming up to her and fondling and holding and squeezing and basically just getting it on with breasts. (Oh and and)... before I forget one more performance piece. David Hammonds selling snow balls on St. Marks Place. I don't know what to say about that one. To good to be true? Pure? Perfect? (This "oh and and" could go on) Chris Burden hiding on a platform he built into the corner of a gallery in the late seventies in NYC, (I forget the gallery... it was uptown). The platform was built "kittycorner" and just high enough off the floor so when and if you stood in the gallery you wouldn't know he was there. I mean I was there. I remember. I was. Standing, looking up, wondering... is he there? I'm here but is he? I once did a performance piece in the late seventies. At a place on Broadway in Soho called the Gromet Theater. It was pretty lame. I put my girlfriend on a swing, naked... and I laid underneath her in a black suit and as she passed over me swinging, she would mark me with a piece of chalk. It had something to do with Jesus but exactly what I forget. Flesh? Sacrifice? Pulling a "dater" from a fishes mouth? As I said pretty lame. (At least the audience got to see a naked lady). Maybe that performance was why I've always been a bit ambivalent about the art form.


7/1/2012

"Horsing Around"

The Priest says to the Rabbi: "See that alter boy over there? Want to fuck him?" The Rabbi says, "Fuck him out of what?"

When Tim Curly, the official in charge of the campus police at Penn State was informed that a ten year old was butt fucked in a Penn State locker room shower by Jerry Sandusky, he insisted that the nature of the assault amounted to little more than "horsing around".

"Horsing around"?

A horse walks into a bar. The bartender says to the horse... "hey buddy, why the long face?"

"A horse is a horse of course of course". Mr Ed.

I'm not sure where this is going. I guess my going has something to do with that "description". I understand "why a duck"... but why a horse? When I read Tim Curly's description... that he was "under the impression" that the assault was little more than "horse play"... I couldn't stop thinking about those words. Curly's "impression" was what? A different color? Or was it something more artful? I don't know. I don't have a clue. I'm at a loss for words.

6/30/2012

"This morning I shot an elephant in my pajamas. How it got in my pajamas I don't know." Marxism, 303 Gallery NYC June 29 thru July...

6/29/2012

"Garbage and trash are pages of history just as valid in their own way as generals and kings." Richard Brautigan

"When I had Kennedy assassinated I didn't mean to get my good friend John Connelly wounded." Lyndon Baines Johnson

"How to make art part two. You take a glass eye and ask your wife to put it in her vagina. You take a photograph of the glass eye in your wife's vagina and call it "
'The Hairy Eyeball'." Howard Johnson

6/24/2012

Panaman is the name of a new superhero. He's Panamanian. He was unearthed when the Americans were down in Panama digging the Panama Canal. He's 115 years old but looks 35. He calls himself a Zonian. His power is not unlike that of a diplomat. He's immune. To what, I cannot say. (I've already tipped off the anti-aging angle). I hope to debut this character at the next Comic Con... The one thing I can tell you is that "he's" down to earth. He will not "transform". If he looses an arm it will not grow back.There will be no magical surge or pulsating lights emanating from anywhere on his body. He will not be leaping over buildings in a single bound. If he needs to fly he will take a plane. (They'll be nothing StarTrek about the guy) Right now he will be "protected". The where's and when's and how's of this "protection" will be revealed after he gets some much needed sleep. All I can say is that his "actions" will be a result of the knowledge he gets from reading twenty, thirty, forty books a day. All you need to know is that he knows... and what he knows is how he survives... One more thing... he likes the jungle...

6/23/2012
According to the Taliban, who claimed responsibility for the killing, "the people who were killed were dancing". "Dancing is strictly illegal and prohibited in Islam".

The bulkhead of the ship the Lightburne, which sank in 1939 about 35 miles east of Montauk on Long Island has over the years been encrusted with blue mussels. The "look" of the wreck reminds me of a new Damien Hirst sculpture.

Someone named Ken Johnson wrote in the New York Times today an article on LeRoy Neiman. "The Art of LeRoy Neiman Made a Splash But Never Waves". I think this "hack" Ken Johnson is himself covered in blue mussels and doesn't dance. Either that or he's never been in a position to claim responsibility...

6/20/2012
Sofa Size
Leroy Neiman passed away yesterday. He was an artist that was linked to Playboy Magazine and the sports world. He created a character called the Femlin for Playboy back in the late fifties that continues to appear in the publication to this day. I own one of the earliest "studies" of this "character/cartoon" and have it hanging next to a copy of Sonic Youth's Daydream Nation. (The album is signed by Gerhard Richter, whose painting appears on the cover) Neiman's work was never embraced by the art world or its critics. He didn't stand a chance. He was a stud muffin. A guy with a mustache that crossed his entire face. A bon-viant. A rake. A man about town. He was right out of central casting. I always thought if Hollywood were to cast an artist for a movie they couldn't of gone wrong casting Leroy. Neiman wore ascots and favored Nehru jackets. He was never without a cigar known as a "charute" (not sure of that spelling) The guy had style. Not only in the way he presented himself but, if and when you look up "painting style" in the dictionary, Leroy Neiman's name is part of the definition. Neiman, in an interview in 1996, said he didn't care what the critics said about his paintings. He knew he wasn't going to be part of the "inner circle". (What can you say when your muse is Leon Spinks) October and Art Forum were never going to put his work on their covers. The best he could hope for is a "listing" in Elle Decor. Neiman's paintings were a concoction from a fanciful dandy. A head-on collision of abstract expressionism and Monet's water lilies. (Monet was Neiman's favorite painter) They were done quickly, in a day, sometimes done on camera, right in front of a television audience that would burst into applause after he "flourished" his name and signature on the bottom right of the painting. Yes, Neiman was a showman. A master of ceremonies. Step right this way. His paintings? To me? It's simple...they're naked and they dance.

6/13/2012

This coming Tuesday I have a meeting with the folks from HBO. They want to talk to me about my idea for a new game show. It's called "Who Gives A Shit". I think the fact that they don't have game show in their line up appeals to them. Either that or they just want milk my brain and be polite. (Humor me? I don't think so...Fuck me over and steal my first born is more like it). My pitch to them will be simple. Holograms of dead TV stars mixed in with real live celebrities. For example Bob Krane and Richard Dawson, (dead) saddled up next to Mason Williams and Jimmy Walker. I was thinking about Art Linkletter as the host, but I think he's still pissed about his kid thinking he could fly out of a ten story window when he was on LSD. (Kids say the darndest things) That's all I can tell you right now. I'd let the cat out of the bag but then I'd have to have a cat to let out of a bag. This much I can tell you. The show will be a serious mash up of Soupy Sales. Queen For A Day. Uncle Floyd. Glenn O'Brian's TV Party. And the Joe Franklin show. As they say in La La Land... "stay up, stay hard, stay tuned"...

6/1/2012

When Richard Brautigan was told he wrote like a sixteen year old, his reaction was "really?"...

Brautigan was "gruesomely loathed to talk critically" but when asked to comment on the new James Jones book he said, "terrible, everything is in there, nothing is left out."

Out now... "Jubilee Hitchhiker", (the life and times of Richard Brautigan), by William Hjortsberg.

And if you happen to come across this post Mr. Hjortsburg, I read your books Alp and Grey Matters years ago and really liked them.

5/30/2012

Jacob Zuma, the president of Johannesburg? Cape Town? South Africa?... all three? had his portrait done by Cape Town artist Brett Murray. The painting portrayed Mr. Zuma "in a Leninesque pose with his genitals exposed". Mr. Zuma has four wives and more than 20 children. The artist titled his portrait of Mr. Zuma "The Spear". This is something that the artist Mark Flood might interested in commenting on. If he is aware of this story I would welcome his thoughts. I asked my new artist friend Howard Johnson his take on the matter and he said, and I quote... I'm still a bit puzzled over the word "genitals".

(On another matter) To Russia with love: Let my Pussy Riot go!

Henry Ford once said "I wouldn't give you five dollars for all the modern art in the world".

William de Kooning would spread his arms out and say, "this is all the space I need"....

Is there such a thing as God Paintings?

When I was growing up the Lone Ranger and Tonto were an important part of my day.

Lew Welch, the beat poet, once worked for an advertising company in Chicago in the fifties, and came up with the jingle..."Raid kills bugs dead"....

It's hard to ignore the influence of Rod Serling's Twilight Zone.

Lothar And The Hand People was one of my favorite Boston bands.

In 1954, Lord Buckley wrote a little book of verse called "Hipporama"... He later appeared on the television show You Bet Your Life, (hosted by Groucho Marx)...

Two of my favorite painters are Jonathan Winters and Phyllis Diller...

The Diggers opened up a store in 1967 in San Francisco. Instead of charging the customer money, everything was free...

I'm going to be giving a talk, a "lecture" at Yale soon. Sometime in late April. I would like to talk about photography and how it coats and pours over what's out there in front of me...

I just had a show in Malaga... at the Picasso Museum. I always liked the fact that Picasso grounded his work in the figure. And... when he was in his "rose" period, he used black and white photographs of Greek and Roman sculpture as source material for inspiration. The way the photographs would "shade" the features of the marble and stone figures was something that he certainly "eyeballed"...

I wonder if Jack Parr and Oscar Levant were on a t.v. show today... would people watch it?

What was Victor Hugo's real name?

The movies Blue Velvet, Bullitt, The Fast and the Furious, Drive Angry... have something in common...

A book of my writings has just been published... Collected Writings Richard Prince... it was put out by Foggy Notion Books... it has one of my earliest "writings"... 'Bomb Dream Enameled'... it starts off the book... it's about what artists did during World War One...

Clement Greenburg, the eminent art critic, the bearer of the torch for abstract expressionists, once said, on camera, in an interview that was part of the movie Painters Painting..."Picasso never did anything after 1929". It's true. I'm not making it up. Check it out yourself if you don't believe me. He actually said that! The movie is on DVD. Painters Painting...

5/23/2012

I was walking by Phoebe's restaurant on the Bowery the other day and was reminded that Jeff Koons first apartment was right around the corner. I met Jeff in 1977 and visited him in that apartment. It was on the first floor, right behind the restaurant. He showed me his "inflatable's"... these store bought flowers that you would blow air into to make them complete. I asked him why they looked "limp", not fully blown up... and he said, "I don't want to stretch them out and damage their 'newness'..." I thought right then I was dealing with an artist I could grow up with.

About a year later Jeff moved into an apartment on Fifth Ave around 18th St. I asked him how he could afford the rent and he told me he couldn't. "All I had to do was come up with the first and last month... it will take them a year to kick me out".

When he was asked to do something in the windows at The New Museum on 14th St. he decided to show his three vacuum cleaners. New ones. These were part of a series he called "The New". I remember when one was accidently plugged in he told the Museum staff that they would have to buy him a "new" one. The one that got plugged in was "used". This request, (it wasn't really a request...it was a demand) caused a big stink. The New Museum didn't have much of a budget and didn't get the point. It was only plugged in for a moment they argued. The mess was cleared up when of all people my pill doctor who use to sell me "ludes" stepped up and made a donation... (the doctor lived right across the street from the Museum and was an early supporter) Jeff believed in the "new". I believed it too. To this day I think Jeff's idea of the "new" is the real deal.

When I met Jeff he was selling subscriptions, "memberships" at MOMA. He use to stand in the lobby and meet and greet the "oldies and goodies". It kind of reminded the way the character Max Blaylock use to sell shares in the Broadway play Spring Time For Hitler in the movie The Producers. Jeff would stand there, dressed in jeans and a vest and a short sleeve shirt and a bow tie and over the bow tie he would add on a regular tie. So it was a tie over a bow tie. I did a portrait of him in 1982 with this get up, this look... He also sported a pencil thin mustache. The same one that John Waters sports. Jeff's comedy was serious.

After Jeff had his first show at International With Monument in the East Village... around 1984-85, I was living at 303 Gallery, with Lisa Spellman and she got Jeff to show his basketball tanks in the gallery. The bedroom was separate from the gallery space so when I woke up during the night to go the bathroom I had to walk by the exhibition. I'll never forget walking by those basketball tanks. I had seen Jeff put them together and couldn't believe the crazy science involved and when I walked past them the light from the street lamp outside on the street cast... "bathed" the tanks with an other worldly glow. It made them look alive. A new form of life. Something un-nameable. The last place on earth that God didn't finish.

I wanted to buy one of those "tanks", maybe the one with two balls... but I didn't have the money. I couldn't afford one. I think the "two ball" was thirty-five hundred dollars, ($3,550.00) I was also a bit hesitant about how I would curate such an object. It wasn't until years later, when I walked into a collector's home and saw one of Jeff's "tanks" with the basketball sitting on the bottom of the tank without any of the "liquid" holding it, suspending it in place that I realized... fuck... that's how you curate it. When you want it "filled"...one of Jeff's assistants will come over and fill it. Until then you can just show it off "high and dry". Okay I didn't have the De-Niro... but still, the opportunity knocked and all I did was piss the pot.

5/24/2012
Out now... The Diggers, Notes From A Revolution: The Diggers and the Haight... published by Fulton Ryder Press in association with Foggy Notion Books... with essays by Peter Coyote, Kristine McKenna, Naomi Wolf.


5/22/2012

My father was never home. He was always out drinking. He saw a sign saying DRINK CANADA DRY. So he went up there.

I my brother just married a two-headed lady. Is she pretty you ask. Well, "yes and no".

I never had a penny to my name, so I changed my name.

I eat politics. And I sleep politics. But I never drink politics.


THE QUESTION PAINTINGS

What band did Sam Shepard, the playwright, play in, in the mid-sixties? Hint, it wasn't the Fugs. Bonus... what instrument did he play?

Who said "art is like stuffing a mattress"?
1. DeKooning
2. Matta-Clark
3. Manzoni
4. Walt Kuhn
5. Franz Klein
6. None of the above.

Peter Atkins, the actor who played opposite Brooke Shields in the movie Blue Lagoon, had both male and female genitalia. True or false?

Bob Crane who starred in Hogans Heros was... murdered? Died of natural causes? Committed suicide? Is still alive and living in Naples?

Who wrote the hit song The Beat Goes On? How long did it take to write? And what happen to the writer?

Samuel Jackson's character Jules, in the movie Pulp Fiction, says the "N" word in the movie how many times?
1. 25 times.
2. 75 times.
3. 389 times.

Who's famous picture is on the can of the Arnold Palmer soft drink?

Who chases ambulances? That's right!

If you like biographies check out Peter Coyote's "Sleeping Where I Fall"... published April 15, 1998 Counterpoint Press


5/20/2012

This past weekend I went to see the Christopher Wool show in Paris. Palais de Tokyo. (the modern part) Pretty amazing. It really lays out the argument and answer, that Wool's the best painter painting. Wool did his own curating. That's probably why it's a great show. All the violent tenderness is there. To quote Herta Muller... "you can think all kinds of things. But you can't know for sure".

If I owned a small piano bar, somewhere in the Florida Keys... I'd hire Woody Woodbury to tickle the ivories. The fantasy comes from watching an old Elvis Presley movie. He's on his way to Key West when his car breaks down and instead of getting the car fixed and continuing on... he decides to stay put and set up shop right by the side of the road. I think he opened some kind of hot dog stand. He'd sell you a dog and sing you a song.

According to my daughter, The Morning Benders.

"Is it safe?"

Marmottan... in the 16th, Paris. There's more than sixty Monet's in this house. Sixty!

Get your motor running. Dan Colen's motorcycles thrown down in front of the Segram building on 53rd St. What are you rebeling against? What you got? I took some photographs of the piece this afternoon. Then I went up to third floor of the Lever House, just across the street and took some more shots. There was a bar-bee-que for Dan on the patio. Pee Wee Herman was there. I asked him if he helped Dan tip the choppers over...

There's something about the basketball player Blake Griffin. It not just his dunks. Or the way he looks. It's more about the way he acts. His act is a new kind of cool. Strange cool. I don't know how to explain it. His advertisements for Ikea are weird. It's like the producer assembled him from different dead people and jump started his brain and this mesmerizing charming monster becomes your next best friend. The guy never gets rattled.

5/15/2012

I met Frank Geary in Hong Kong. I was there for an exhibition. I was complaining to him that I was disappointed by the way the city looked. I thought it was going to be more "Bladerunner". He said to me, "you were misinformed". The other day I passed by the building he designed on 11th Ave. and 20th St. This is one of my favorite buildings in NYC. I couldn't tell if they had removed the signs that the occupants put up on the facade, to advertise their occupancy. I had done a u-turn off of the West Side Highway and from sitting in the car couldn't get the right angle to check out if this un-warranted "addition" had been left up or taken down. This building is like a big piece of beautiful sculpture and shouldn't have anybody in it anyway. At least not anybody who needs to advertise themselves.

5/12/2012 (PART II...ON THE PAINTING)

Jonathan Meese. Jules de Belincourt. Barneby Furnas. Dana Shultz. Heran Bas. Andre Butzer. (Alfred Hitchcock)

Christian Holstad vs. Anish Kapor

Vik Muniz?

5/13/2012

Blake Griffin... you can see him... in your rear view mirror.

5/12/2012

BIRDTALK... was published in Purple Magazine almost twenty years ago?

ON THE PAINTING...(instead of the Road)

He's rarely seen seen wearing anything but a vintage suit and is fastidious to the point of keeping an electric shoe polisher on every floor of his building.

There was something he said about himself about being an information junky, churning out bad Xeroxes of images we once saw.

Drawn to the combination of science and art, of the pragmatic and aesthetic, of rigorous facts and intuitive leaps.

I like Carl Jung's cyclical interpretation of human existence.

Space-frame architecture... to create geometric patterns with light-filled inhabitable rooms.

Going to the Go-Go.

The father I climb, the more I can see of your ass.

Dont' knock the rock.

5/8/2012
I went to the Fontana show at Gagosian on 24th St. this past weekend. There were to many people there and I kept getting interrupted. I had just run into Adam McEwan and he told how much he liked the show. He said something like, "every young artist should see this show then go back to their studio and quit making art for a year". I started the show by going the wrong way, backwards I was told... I didn't know there was a forward, a beginning. I got annoyed. Luckily I had seen a Fontana uptown the day before, alone in a room, (also at Gagosian). It was the only art around. And I was the only person looking at it around. Sometimes my physical situation affects the way I feel about what I'm looking at. In any case, this Fontana made me collapse and fold in and swoon. There were four "slashes" on a grey background and the painting was framed in what looked to be a "vintage" frame. The painting was plain gorgeous and made me want to stand and stare and look. I wanted to take it back to my house and live with it.


5/5/2012
Praise the Lord!

The Holy Land Experience... part of the Trinity Broadcasting Network... what is referred to as "Prosperity Theology" (not bad)...

Who loves you baby?

Janice Crouch and her husband Paul Crouch run the world's largest Christian television network. And it's tax free. They have this "theme" park in Orlando Fla. (a side business)... kind of like Disneyland for people who believe in God and the Bible. Not that different from the Vatican. And it's tax free. The TBN, as it's called, is a pot-porri of Mormonism, Scientology, Christian Science, and Catholic mumbo jumbo. And it's tax free. Janice is known for wearing large bright pink wigs. (Anyone remember Tammy Faye Baker?) And the wigs are tax free. Paul and Janice live in "his and hers" mansions one street apart in a gated community in Newport Beach Calif. And it's tax free. People of faith gave them $93 million in 2010. And it was tax free.

Shakespearean Echoes. Non-profit practices. Excess compensation. Tax exempt money.

Janice Crouch is seldom without her two little white dogs housing them in an air-conditioned sanctuary that was originally a costly motor home. Warning sign...SHE HAS LOTS OF PORTRAITS OF HERSELF HANGING IN HER HOMES.

Religion. What is it good for? Absolutely everything...

5/4/2012
I just heard from Bill Bailey. He's not coming home.

I just saw the Picasso show at Gagosain. It's still out of sight.

I had a talk with Christopher Wool last night. It's always great to run into Christopher. I told him I checked out his new catalogue and that in couple of weeks I'm going to see his show in Paris. Christopher is one of my favorite artists. I wouldn't mind trading places with him, just for a day... just to see what it would be like to chop that mountain down and take the pieces and make a new island...

5/3/2012
I scream. You scream. We all scream for ice cream.

4/28/2012
"Everything Must Go", a movie based on a Raymond Carver short story. Very good movie, very "steady". (Netflix's with the family). At the end of the movie you hear the Band playing Dylan's, "I Shall Be Released"... I couldn't help thinking about Levon Helm, the Band's singer and drummer. It's sad... his passing is such a loss. "They should have never taken the very best".


4/27/2012
Again at the Frank Stella show. Did he really "duct tape" the edges of his "notch" paintings? Had a preview of the Picasso show at Gagosian. Right now it's "out of sight..."

Had a visit with James Nares the other day. Went to his studio in Chelsea. His new paintings are rightfully beautiful. He's using metallic paint. I've known James for a while and I've had one of his small paintings on paper hanging in a bedroom for years. I'm not sure what happened but a light bulb went off in my head and I said to myself... you got to go visit James and really look at what he's doing. He manages to loose and find in every painting. He also showed me his new film "Street". Soundtrack by Thurston Moore. If you ever get a chance to see it, see it. So fucking good. It produces, (just like his paintings)... a general lowering of wakefulness...

If you don't know the work of Walter Dahn...don't say you don't know it.

Went to Dan Colen's new studio in Tribeca. Love the guy. Love the work. "Mr. Christian"!!! Dan's setting sail. He keeps throwing all the bread fruit overboard.

My wife woke me up last night. Said I was having a bad dream. Something about an art auction. She said I kept mumbling, repeating, and asking about... "where's my five percent?".... "where's my five percent?"

Stephane Hessel... wrote a small book called "Time For Outrage".... "to create is to resist, to resist is to create"....

Don't forget... Walter Benjamin, (German philosopher) committed suicide in 1940 to escape the Nazis...

Jewish man to his friend: "If I live I'll see you Thursday. If I don't I'll see you Friday".

I just heard from the art police! They wanted to know about an "edition" to one of my "Cowboy" photographs. At first I didn't want to talk to them. But they kept hammering away. Pressing me. Trying to get me to remember what I did or didn't do thirty years ago. I told them that the "cowboy" in question was probably a gift. Since no one bought them thirty years ago I gave it away. I told them to leave me alone. Mind your own business. I said to one of them, "where were you thirty years ago when I owned half a stereo".

4/21/2012
Dan Colen just gave me a "Whoppie Cushion" filled with cement. I'm not sure if I'm spelling "whoppie" right. But who cares? Dan removed the "whoppie" from the cushion. It's the cement that matters.

A guy walks into an apartment and looks at the Warhol, the Basquiat, the Hirst, and the Prince... and says, "that's not interesting". I ran into the guy at a party the other night and said to him..."I am the art world".


4/20/2012
Went out to Bushwick yesterday. Spent the afternoon with Peter Hopkins. Google him and check out his artwork from the early to mid-eighties. He used to show with American Fine Arts when it was on 6th St. in the East Village. We talked about Colin Deland, (Colin use to run American Fine Arts) and how much we miss him. I had Peter up to my place upstate to repair a painting of his that I had purchased from Colin... it had been badly damaged... mice got to it... I was embarrassed to tell him... but he was cool with the crappy curating and actually did all the repairs himself. He took me to Roberta's for lunch... a great place to eat, right around the corner from his "gallery" that he runs out there in the far reaches of Brooklyn.

I went back to see the Frank Stella show this morning. I know Stella talked about how he figured out the "edges" of his paintings. That's what concerned him the most. The edges. Me, I kept looking at the "middle" of his paintings. That's the place that I kept looking at. The middle. Right down the middle. The center. I'd love to talk to him about the middle of his paintings. I can't imagine that he ever would... want to talk about it... the middle... but who knows? Maybe I could take him to Roberta's out in Bushwick, have a pizza, talk about the middle...

I'm a Knicks fan. Started watching them again two years ago. Maybe it's about being back, living in the city. Years ago I used to bet on basketball but when I found out that some of the officiating was "tainted", "compromised", "in the bag"... I stopped. Part of the pleasure of watching, was knowing I had money on the point spread.................. so where was I? Oh yea, the betting. I didn't like betting or watching after I found out that some of the referees were on the take. I always suspected it, but didn't know until it came out in the paper. The allegations turned me off to watching all sports. Soccer, forget it. The World Cup? Are you kidding? Completely corrupt. Anyway... when they started to put instant replay into the mix it got me interested in watching again. I've never really been able to saddle up next to any game that has a judge. That's why I like golf. Golf has two things going for it. One it's handicapped... so it provides a level playing field and two it's one of the only artificial "make-ups" that doesn't have some kind of official making judgment calls. It's up to the player to call a penalty... and... and this is the most important part of the game... you either put the ball in the hole or you don't. It's that simple. There's no one calling the game. And no one holding up cards with numbers on it telling you your game is a seven or a nine or even a perfect score. I know all the arguments against the game. It's boring. It takes up to much time. It's elitist. The dress code sucks. It's a game for big fat white guys. Yea, maybe some of that is true... but what most people don't know is that the game is set up perfectly for betting. Waging mucho dollars on each hole is it's best kept secret. As I said before, the game is handicapped. Doesn't matter how well you play you can play someone who shoots a seventy even though you might not be able to break one hundred. No matter how bad you play you can still bet money against a superior more seasoned player. If someone is a "scratch" player... (a player who shoots par... somewhere around seventy-two) and you come along and play to an average round of ninety-five... the par player will give you 18 strokes. An extra stoke on every hole. So if he shoots a four on the first hole and you shoot a five... you tie the hole. No blood. The money, the bet, roles over to the next hole. The whole reason to play the game (besides exercise) is playing for money. So, if you like to bet, if you like playing a game without an umpire, if you like to walk... who knows? Grab a hybrid, a seven iron, a wedge, a putter, and take the subway out to Pelam and walk onto one of the public links out in the Bronx... you just might find something that's down to earth and out of this world..

For all you cats and kiddies, (just so you know)... Iggy Pop is a "scratch" player... yea, that Iggy Pop!

Talking about sports... right after Jimmy Piersall... Pumpsie Green... one of my favorite (all-time) Red Sox players.

4/19/2010
Went and saw the Frank Stella show at L&M. Really early paintings. 1958 to 1962. The black and aluminum paintings. These are some of my favorite paintings. Ever. I've always liked that he described the reason for the width of the "stripe" was because "that's the width of my brush". I was curious about the homemade frames that were hammered onto the sides of the canvas. I assumed that Stella put these frames on himself. I would love to talk to him about the frames. It's hard to explain how much I like the "notch" paintings. I've always read about these two bodies of work but had never experienced them in person. The show is right down the block from where I live. I feel privileged to be able to walk into the gallery anytime I want... spur of the moment... on my way to get a coffee..



4/18/2012

When a father in India saw his new born daughter, he started punching her. This happened last week. He punched her until she died. He punched her to death because she was a girl.

A couple of months ago, a nineteen-year-old Egyptian girl videotaped herself nude and sent out the images of herself over the Internet. The country freaked out and demanded she be stoned to death.

Just this past year, in Afghanistan, a woman was raped, and because of the rape, had a kid and was given the choice of either marrying her rapist or going to jail. She chose jail and is still there in jail where she's raising her kid. She's eighteen years old.

In Israel, (back in January) a crowd of Orthodox men threw stones at an eleven-year-old girl. The girl was on her way to school. The men were throwing stones at her because her dress wasn't covering up her ankles...

Antonio Cromartie plays for the N.Y. Jets football team. He has ten kids with eight different women. During a 2010 "chat" with the HBO behind-the-scenes football show "Hard Knocks", he couldn't remember the names of all his kids. Cromartie is twenty-eight years old. He is expecting identical twins, his 11th and 12th, in November.


4/15/2012
"Dick carried the flashlight when we went to tape Mr. Clutter and the boy. Mr. Clutter wanted to know how his wife was, if she was all right, and I said she was fine, she was ready to go to sleep and I told him it wasn't long till the morning, and how in the morning somebody would find them, and then all of it, me and Dick and all, would seem like something they dreamed. I wasn't kidding him. I didn't want to harm the man. I thought he was a very nice gentleman. Soft-spoken. I thought so right up to the moment I cut his throat".

That's what I read this weekend. Capote's "In Cold Blood". I guess I should say I re-read it. I've read it several times. I was in Book Soup this weekend in L.A. and I ran into Wallace Berman's son Jesse who works there and we got to talking about James Ellroy and James Lee Burke and the conversation wound its way back to Capote's masterpiece. We talked about how unforgettable Robert Blake's portrayal of Perry Smith was in the movie version of "In Cold Blood". His greased hair. His motorcycle jacket and boots. How he formed his way into Smith's truncated body. I told Jesse my plans for maybe coming out to L.A. and doing some kind of "After Dark" show at one of the museums. He knew about my collection of letters from Perry Smith to Capote and Harper Lee. I told how it might be cool to zero in on Philip Dick and Jim Thompson. Put some of their letters and manuscripts in vitrines and some of my After Dark paintings on the walls. Maybe show original treatments of Thompson's "After Dark, My Sweet" and Dick's "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep". Put together some kind of sci-fi film noir show. Maybe get Brett Easton Ellis to write an introduction to the catalogue. (There's a great interview with Ellis in the new Paris Review).
Before I left the bookshop, I noticed my American Prayer book on the shelf. It was turned out and had a little "employee recommended" card attached to the front of the book. Jesse asked me to sign the book. I signed my name and added, "answered prayers" after my signature...



4/11/2012
It's a Mad Mad Mad world. Went to the Modern last night to see Kraftwerk. Had never been to the museum at night. It was dark and there weren't that many people there. I brought my stepson Graham, who's twenty-one and "really" into electronic house music. He's turned me on to Cascade and deadmau5... (Deadmouse). When Kraftwerk came on we were told to put on three-d glasses. After a couple of minutes into the first song, I couldn't help think I was stuck in an elevator watching a lost episode of Star Trek. The whole experience was strange. I remember Kraftwerk from a video that rotated on MTV back in the mid-eighties. (On the way to the concert I mentioned to Graham a contemporary band of Kraftwerk... Devo... and talked about the funny hats and outfits they use to wear) Anyway, the outfits that Kraftwerk wore at the Modern looked like they were styled from the movie Tron. After their third song Graham and I faced each other and wondered aloud... "Should we leave?" On the way out we ran into George Condo. "Leaving so soon?" he asked. "Yea, what about you?" George was outside with his wife having a cigarette. George said, "We have to go back in." (Taking one for the team) On the ride home, Graham talked about going to Electric Zoo this spring and I talked to him about seeing the documentary film on EDC... Electric Daisy Carnival... I talked to him about how much I liked the rave music in Larry Clark's film Kids. And Kraftwerk? I don't know... I have no idea... I mean I do, but I'd rather go off the deep end and talk about Dick Shawn's "send-up" of that shit head Adolph in "Springtime For Hitler"...


4/8/2012
"Having trouble falling asleep... these hotel walls are cheap".
I never really listened much to Paul Simon but have had him on the turntable recently. (Always liked his song The Boxer). For the past couple of years his song American Tune has become one of my favorites. Listening to it again the other day, I was reminded that back in the summer of 1985 my girlfriend was in charge of a photo shoot with him. She had just started doing music videos and he hired her to shoot an album cover. What I remember most about it was how many photos were taken. I forget the photographer but I remember thinking after they spent eight hours shooting Mr. Simon... I remember saying to some people involved in the shoot, "Christ, I could have taken a dozen shots and be done with it"... This "comment" was not appreciated. "Who do you think you are?" was the reaction I got. We were out on the East End, at the beach in Wainscott, and there were like twenty assistants for the photo shoot. I was just hanging around watching... the boyfriend. I was on my high and mighty... rephotographing "cowboys" and "girlfriends" and trying to re-wire the whole way photographs could be taken. Even the hairdresser, this guy Christian, ended up hating me. According to him I was a "piss-ant". At the end of the day there were hundreds of rolls of film. I think Mr. Simon was a bit uptight having his portrait taken. I wish I could have pulled him aside and told him about my own method for taking a portrait, but I didn't, couldn't... I wasn't that self-possessed. (My method was simple. You, the sitter, would give me five images that you yourself already liked of yourself, had already been taken, over the years... and then I would pick the one that I liked and then I would take that pick and rephotograph it and that would be your portrait. You didn't even have to pose. It was "fool-proof"). Anyway, I got into a big argument with my girlfriend. She accused me of embarrassing her. Even though I knew I was right, I shut up and retreated back to the city and waited out the rest of the weekend at my local bar. A couple of months later when Mr. Simon's album came out I looked at the cover and could hardly make out his image. He and his management team had chosen a blurry outtake off of a video monitor. It figured. All that effort. All that work and energy... and for what? A portrait that didn't even show up. Just goes to show. That's what I thought. But American Tune is still a great song. And the portrait of Mr. Simon on my CD package, a re-issue, a new and "up-to-date" compilation, is one where he's young, "just starting out"... looking cool and calm and very collected.

4/6/2012
Getting over Rimbaud. Lucien Carr boy Aphrodite. Allen Ginsberg wanted to dedicate his poem Howl to Lucien Carr. Lucian declined. I'm going to run up to my library now and check out my copy of Howl to see if this happened...


4/5/2012
"Say it ain't so". I think Phillip Roth is one of the best American writers in the past forty years. It seems like he comes out with a book a year, and every time one comes out I look forward to reading it. So it's pretty distressing to hear that he and his lawyers sent a cease and desist order to an artist over in Brooklyn who put himself inside a plexiglass box reading from Roth's book, The Great American Novel... (apparently he's reading it "silently"). Another part of the performance is he's getting hit with baseball cards. (I'm picturing a kind of baseball card snow globe). It's strange, because Roth was good friends with Philip Guston up in Woodstock and hung out together, and was exposed to Guston's "crazy" cartoon paintings. I thought that would have been enough to sign off on any "shenanigans" put out by an up and coming, "starting-out" artist. Instead, more paper work, more depositions, more briefs, more letters, more money. Fuck it...I would have thought that some of that Woodstock vibe would have rubbed off on Roth... you know... "It's a free concert from now on".


4/4/2012
My mother called me this past Sunday and told me she had just watched a segment on the art world on Sixty Minutes, (she's 94)...and wanted to know if I'd seen it. I told her "no". She said they talked about Cindy Sherman and Barbara Gladstone. (My mother has trouble seeing, but no problems hearing.) I asked if they mentioned Arthur Cravan? She said she didn't think so. Then I asked her if they talked about Walt Kuhn? "What about Arthur Dove" I asked. "No, I didn't hear any of those names". I asked her if she remembered giving me a book on Larry Rivers when I was eighteen. She said, "Kind of". I asked her, "Did they at least mention Larry Rivers"? She said, "They talked to Larry Gagosian". I asked her who did the reporting for Sixty Minutes. She said, "Morley Safer". I said, "oh... isn't he the guy who paints watercolors of the hotel rooms where he stays when he's out on the road?" She said, "Yea, he's a Monday morning painter". I said, "Don't you mean he's a Sunday Painter"? "No", she said... "On Sundays he's on T.V."

So after thirty years of collecting books, I finally got an inscribed copy of Raymond Chandler's "The Big Sleep". ("Dead men are heavier than broken hearts"). It's a great copy, inscribed to his secretary in the year of publication. The book is in original condition with an unrestored (unsophisticated) dust jacket. When I read it again I couldn't help but think of the voice-over in the film Blade Runner. (For some reason Ridley Scott got rid of this part of the movie when he put out the director's cut...) I always thought the "voice-over" gave the movie a kind of social science fiction. It made the "future" of the movie more believable. Anyway, after re-reading The Big Sleep, "I went to bed full of whiskey and frustration and dreamed about a man in a bloody Chinese coat who chased a naked girl with long jade earrings while I ran after them and tried to take a photograph with an empty camera".

4/1/2012
Woke up, got out of bed... dragged a comb across my head... Read today about two addresses in NYC that I used to have something to do with. The first one... 437 E. 12th St. between Ave. A and First Ave... I use to live there in the late seventies, early eighties... there's an article in today's Times about the place... Seems to be on some guide's list of places to be "pointed out". Allen Ginsberg lived there while I was there. My friend Richard Hell still lives there. It was pretty gnarly back in 1978... living there... I remember having to run from the building to First Ave late at night if I wanted to keep from getting mugged. The other address that was talked about (in some style section) was 5 Rivington... that's the place I had my gallery in back in 1983. I called it Spiritual America. It was a storefront. I guess the place that's there now is some kind of clothing store. It says in the article they're calling place Spiritual America... The past has never been in my forehead. When I read about things that I've been inside of... it all seems like Wild History...

3/30/2012
Read today that the author Harry Crews passed away. When I started to read fiction, forty years ago, he was one of the first people I started reading. I especially liked his essays... "Blood and Grits"... he wrote a great one profiling the actor Charles Bronson... His biography "A Childhood: The Biography of a Place" was pretty great too... When he was a kid, he somehow he fell into a vat of boiling water... or some such shit, and was burned "all over"... He had a lot of "ex's".... ex-wife, ex-kid, ex-dog, ex-house... check out his books... "The Gospel Singer", "Car", and "The Knockout Artist"...

3/29/2012
Recommended reading: "The Swerve", by Stephen Greenblatt...


3/28/2012
Just came back from Upstate. Went up there with Mark Grojohn, (sorry about the spelling Mark)... it was nice to hang out with another artist. I'm not sure when the last time I've done that. Just him and me. Talking about stuff. I have one of his paintings hanging up in the back of my "body shop"... We both agreed how much we like Chris Burden.


3/25/2012
Went to the Met today. Saw the "Steins Collect Matisse and Picasso" show. Especially interested in Picasso's 1909 "Head Of A Woman (Fernande)"... Does that remind me of anything I asked myself?... I couldn't help thinking what the difference between collecting art and making art is...

Before exiting the Met, I took out my iPhone and took some self-portraits alongside some Greek and Roman sculpture.... the busts...mostly the ones that had pieces missing... the ones with missing noses and mouths... the ones that had been worn down, chipped, scarred and cracked...

After lunch I went over to the Whitney. For some reason I wanted to see the biennial. I'm not sure why. Before checking it out I went up to the fifth floor. That's where they hang work that's in the permanent collection. I'm glad I did. There was a gorgeous late fifties Lee Krasner painting hanging in a room of its own. After staring, I walked down to the fourth floor and it looked like people were exercising on a huge black rubber matt that took up the entire floor. There were maybe fifteen people following the commands of a woman who was talking into a microphone... telling the fifteen people what to do. I think the fifteen people following the commands were people who had walked off the street. They kind of just "joined in". I've heard this type of activity in the art world is called "relational aesthetics"... or something like that... It felt like I was interrupting the "relation". I quickly got out of there. I walked down to the third floor and in the back there was a room filled with artist's junk. There seems to be a room filled with artist's junk in every biennial I've ever been to. I'm not sure why this artist's junk was there. (Don't get me wrong, I like junk... but I like it when it's in a yard). I walked around the corner and there were fifty Dana Schutz paintings on the wall. At least I think they were Schutz's paintings. (I walked by pretty fast). I skipped the second floor and went down to the lobby. What happened to the bookstore? There was none. There were some catalogues thrown out on tables that looked "remaindered"... what was there looked like a bake sale. I walked out of the Whitney having spent less than twenty minutes... fifteen of those standing in front of the Krasner.

3/24/2012
Nonfiction novel... the best of both worlds...

Hats off to Sigmar Polke. He was a sexy guy. Someone should do a comic book called The Polke...

Someone just asked me why I collect books? I told them I'm saving up for a rainy day. They said, "What does that mean?" I said, "History would be a great idea, if only it were true".

Recommended reading: "Mary's Mosaic" by Peter Janney... a book about the CIA conspiracy to murder John F. Kennedy. And anything by James Elroy... especially his biography "My Dark Places"....


3/23/2012
Went up to the Guggenheim today. Saw the Chamberlain show. "Hillbilly Galoot" 1960. Wow. A new kind of landscape. That's all I can say about that one. And I thought Cezanne's "Bibemus" from 1894 (in the next room) was far out...

I'd like to know what the fuck does Frank Stella think of Chamberlain's "Belvo-Violet" from 1962.

Metal Flake. Spray paint. Decals... all I thought about when I was going up the ramps was how much Chamberlain resisted...

Francesca Woodman... in one of the side galleries. I had just bought photo books by Gerard Fieret, Miroslav Tichy and Pierre Molinier... I couldn't help but think they all drank from the same well...Woodman resisted the authority of photography.

Woodman had strange, large, almost male like hands. At least that's what they looked like in her self-portrait 1976-77.

Her "Portrait of a Reputation" was especially beautiful. Personal more than political. A "fiction of the real" was what came to mind...

I love hairy women. I don't like it when women shave. I like it when they let their underarm hair grow and their pubic hair grow... It's the way it's suppose to be. Woodman had beautiful underarm hair.


I wish I had met Woodman forty years ago. It would have been great to live with her for a year. She didn't save anything. She played the camera like a new guitar. She murdered herself out taking pictures...

Henry Ford once said "I wouldn't give you five dollars for all the modern art in the world".

William de Kooning would spread his arms out and say, "this is all the space I need"....

Is there such a thing as God Paintings?

When I was growing up the Lone Ranger and Tonto were an important part of my day.

Lew Welch, the beat poet, once worked for an advertising company in Chicago in the fifties, and came up with the jingle..."Raid kills bugs dead"....

It's hard to ignore the influence of Rod Serling's Twilight Zone.

Lothar And The Hand People was one of my favorite Boston bands.

In 1954, Lord Buckley wrote a little book of verse called "Hipporama"... He later appeared on the television show You Bet Your Life, (hosted by Groucho Marx)...

Two of my favorite painters are Jonathan Winters and Phyllis Diller...

The Diggers opened up a store in 1967 in San Francisco. Instead of charging the customer money, everything was free...

I'm going to be giving a talk, a "lecture" at Yale soon. Sometime in late April. I would like to talk about photography and how it coats and pours over what's out there in front of me...

I just had a show in Malaga... at the Picasso Museum. I always liked the fact that Picasso grounded his work in the figure. And... when he was in his "rose" period, he used black and white photographs of Greek and Roman sculpture as source material for inspiration. The way the photographs would "shade" the features of the marble and stone figures was something that he certainly "eyeballed"...

I wonder if Jack Parr and Oscar Levant were on a t.v. show today... would people watch it?

What was Victor Hugo's real name?

The movies Blue Velvet, Bullitt, The Fast and the Furious, Drive Angry... have something in common...

A book of my writings has just been published... Collected Writings Richard Prince... it was put out by Foggy Notion Books... it has one of my earliest "writings"... 'Bomb Dream Enameled'... it starts off the book... it's about what artists did during World War One...

Clement Greenburg, the eminent art critic, the bearer of the torch for abstract expressionists, once said, on camera, in an interview that was part of the movie Painters Painting..."Picasso never did anything after 1929". It's true. I'm not making it up. Check it out yourself if you don't believe me. He actually said that! The movie is on DVD. Painters Painting...

8/23/2012
The figure, the nude, the female form... is a lovely thing to paint. It's never too late.

How do you paint today? Same as yesterday.

Walt Disney. Walt Kuhn.

Beats, Hippies, Punks... mix them all together... what do you get?

El Ron Hubbard... Mary Baker Eddy. They both founded a religion that keeps on keeping on. What they founded is a bit outrageous but at least they both have the word science in what they're selling...