Post-Place: The Life and Times of Jack Parr, Lord Buckley, and Totie Fields

We the people. We don’t believe you.
False narratives vs. street smarts.
Babylon blood clot. Or is it bumbo-bloodclaat? Doesn’t matter. A solid wall of expletives.

Hey kids. What time is it?
Remember that one?
The question? Where’s it from? An early-morning Saturday cartoon show from 1954? What, too young? If you want to cross-generation and time-machine, you can YouTube it. It’s on your phone. Everything is on your phone. All kinds of H. G. Wells’s predictions are in that thin piece of hardware, and everybody carries one around, upgrading customizing bent over looking watching reading sending talking to sharing shutting off and on spending endless hours with strangers and friends waiting to receive and signal trying to walk in a straight line without looking up and bumping into constantly talking out loud connected to hearing aids then pointing to, photographing videoing logging onto a new app filtering sorting storing downloading deleting saving.

Tattletales of Brave Influence.

They say if you want convenience and a friction-free life just click and swipe and your backdrop will be Surf Camp. Elephant’s breath anyone?

Screenshotting a google.
I just got a new iPhone 20.
I just googled “post-place” and the first thing that comes up: ctpost—cannabis-derived oil finding place in ever more products.
I google “” and the first thing that appears: Alyssa Milano alerts candidates to her 2020 plan (“the Jon Ossoff blessing” hangs in the balance).
I’m not sure what that means. But that’s okay. It sounds like
Narrow it down.
Young Twitchy.
Harmony Korine: Young Twitchy at Gagosian-GalleriesNow.
8 days ago.
There’s some portrait of a grandfather that comes up next to “all Korine.”
(Maybe it’s Harmony’s father who belonged to a hippie commune out in Bolinas in the late ’60s. Harmony was born into his father’s hippie cult, in Bolinas, a town famous for having no sign to tell road-trippers where it was located. I’ve been there. No wonder Harmony’s mother helped keep Richard Brautigan’s American dust cleaned. Anarchy in the USA. Harmony’s father is now living in Panama. For the past 20 years. In Panama. No way. Yes way. WTF. That’s two personal connections right there.)

Abbreviations. Hashtags. Emojis. Ideograms.

I go down the rabbit hole a little further.
I type in “extremely naked and enthusiastically playing the bongos.”
A quote from Harmony: “The works were re-created in oil paint on canvas from images I constructed on my iPhone. I usually took these photographs around my home in Florida, and then painted over them with different characters. These light characters hang out with dogs, or dance on the abandoned boat dock. I would sit outside alone by the water and create alien-like friends on a low-key cosmic tropical playground.”
That’s what he says.
Greasy-headed drool locked up in a tote bag of championship Total.
Total is good enough for me.

I walked into the gallery with Harmony. It’s on the fifth floor, 980 Madison Ave. First room off the elevator. Once a series of office rooms, now converted into a generic showroom. Low ceilings, no windows. It’s as if WeWork built a gallery space.
I immediately like.
Heart it.

Even though I hadn’t read Harmony’s quote above, I get everything about the paintings. Right off. Right off the bat. Every so often “the get” happens. Grand slam. Round-tripper. RBIs. Jimmy Piersall. Happily surprised. I’m happy. Feeling good. In front of art. Nothing better. Fear strikes out.

Terms usually associated with music sometimes can be applied to visual art. Gaslight Moondog.
The digital part is the phone. That’s where the paintings start. The analogue is the traditional materials, canvas, stretchers, paint. The two polar bears, combined with Harmony’s wack and doodle, create a kind of new special effect that looks everyday normal. Granted. Not everyday. The medicine is a little of this, a little of that. How hard can it be? That’s according to Jesus.
Jesus says, “Let’s party. Let’s have some fun.” Jesus saves.

Composed. Manipulated. Filed. Transferred.
Gummed up.

He no judge. He no scold. He no moralize. Sentimental soul.

The place is the phone. The post is the art?
I don’t know.
Hedonistic hippie/walking Zen-koan persona.
A virtual orchestra of completely unhinged Willie Bobo–level solos. Gales of canned laughter. Maybe it’s a toddler’s bedtime story.
I’m working on it.

“At least you’re taking your own pics,” I tell Harmony.
I continue: “Because if you’re not, you’re going to get deposed.”
I continue: “Giving deposition is post-place.”
I continue: “If you’re being sued for something that harmlessly doesn’t belong to you . . . you’re going to be set up, grilled, sit in a hot seat, trying to survive seven hours of stone-cold killing staring straight into a videocam in a conference room somewhere in the bowels of Even Lower Manhattan trying to answer slippery stupid legal questions about what’s art.”

“What are you supposed to say?” asks Harmony.
“Something about beachcombing.”
“Innocent,” says Harmony.

Six art handlers show up. “Do you guys want a water?”

They look “post-place.”
That’s what I tell Harmony about his paintings.
He says, “What’s that?”
I say something about past present future. Then I say, “It’s like drag racing with Jungle Pam.”

“Jungle Pam,” says Harmony.
That’s the thing about Harmony.
You can throw out something INSIDE WORLD, and he knows about it.
Mr. Wizard.

When I arrived in New York in 1974 there was this term “post-studio” floating around. Description? Art made. Then photographed. Then the art that was made and photographed was abandoned. So what was made and photographed was a record.
More music.
Back in 1974, post-studio was a good fit for me. I couldn’t afford a studio. [Rim shot]

We finish our waters.
We watch the six art handlers move more paintings into the room. Gallery Army. Be all you can be. And if you can’t be all you can be, then be what someone else can be.

You used to be on the phone.
Now you’re in the phone.

The past is the past.
We all agree.
All together now.
You used to be on the phone in the kitchen. Touch-tone. Or, in Harmony’s father’s day, rotary. There was usually only one phone per family and it was hardwired to a wall. Depending on the flexibility of the curl in the cord, you could maybe walk six feet without letting go of the receiver. Back in Harmony’s father’s day, Mobil was the name of a gas station.

Right before the dawn.
In 1972 I got my first phone hooked up in my first rental up in the state of Maine. Way up, north of Rockport, Andrew Wyeth country. I took a Magic Marker and wrote “Donkey Boy” on my first intercontinental off-white plastic fantastic contraption.

You feelin’ me?

The Now Phone.
Somewhere between Children of Men and cosplay.

You’re taking an Uber to the airport, sitting in traffic, and making art on your phone.

“Didn’t you just make this art coming in from LaGuardia?” I ask Harmony.
Harmony says, “Yea. Kind of. I guess. Sort of.”

Kind of.
I guess.
And sort of.

Do androids dream of electric sheep?
Even in fair condition, a first edition goes for north of 5K.

“Sitting in traffic can be your studio,” I say.
“That’s post-place,” Harmony says.

“Let’s stop bumming and look at the paintings.”*

*In the history of golden-age comic book covers, there have only been two times where an illustration of a comic book superhero was superimposed over a photo-realistic background. One was a Sub-mariner. The other, a Superman. This presentation did not go over well with readers. The result of this pre-Photoshop mock-up, or what used to be called a “splash”. . . was a complete dud. An Edsel. Detroit quickly retreated and went with Falcons and Fairlanes.
Let’s splash out: #RobertMcNamara #Edsel #Ford #TheWorldOfVideo #Acetate #whiteout #GiantPhoto #DirectPositive #160Tungsten #kodachrome #backyards #pool #dog #trippy #psy #astroprojection #DavidWeiss #ColonelKlink #SuperDave #SouthBeach #tropicalplayground #LightFlares #blockbuster #BusterCrab #TrailMix #DJtrippyHeadrin #TangerineDream #maggotbrain #EDM #mutantdisco #trap #illmatic #bigdaddykane #streetwearco #liquidsoul #anon #minimart #RadiationFunk #nagasaki #worldstar #easylenses #coding #hacking #updates #backup

October 12, 2018

High Times
November 1–December 15, 2018
Gagosian Gallery, West 21st Street, New York

First there were the “dead” heads. (Nothing to do with the Grateful Dead.) Drawn with a Bic pen back in 1972 and ’73. Richard brought these heads with him to NYC when he moved there in 1974. There were about twenty of them. They were drawn from the heart. “They were probably the first things I did that ever had any soul.” But when Richard reached NYC he wasn’t interested in anything to do with feelings, especially his own. He wanted nothing to do with himself. He wanted to change places with someone else, even just for a day. Just to see what it would be like to be someone else.

Someone else’s shoes.

He knew the heads were the real thing, but he didn’t want the real thing. He wanted something realer. Realer than real. A very real real that was a kind of “virtuoso real.” He put the heads away and started living inside other people’s shoes. For twenty years he lived in a lot of shoes.

Next came the Hippie Drawings.


He had moved out of NYC by then and had kids, and the honesty that he saw in the drawings that they were making reminded him of his own heads from back in ’72 and ’73. But he wasn’t ready to make something with his own blood. That’s how he explained it: “with my own blood.”

So after digging his kids’ drawings, he got to thinking of making drawings based on what he thought a hippie would draw. The “basing” (the direction, deflection, substitution . . . whatever you want to call it) was a way he thought he could “get away with” . . . and, at the same time, “get out of the way.”

The Hippie Drawings that he started making in 1998 and continued to draw for the next couple of years were supposed to be shown in London in early 2000. But, for reasons he can’t explain, he canceled the show and instead just published the catalogue. “At least you had reproductions of the drawings. I was always thinking about the idea of ‘at least’ and ‘almost’ all the time.”

So that’s what he did. Almost. And at least.

The gallery he was supposed to show the Hippie Drawings with ended up publishing a book of the Hippie Drawings.

He put a self-portrait of himself on the cover, from 1968, when he had long hair and a beard. “Yeah, I kind of looked like a hippie, but I wasn’t a hippie. The portrait was about looking, not being.”

Next up, de Kooning.

In 2004 Richard received a de Kooning catalogue from LA MOCA that Paul Schimmel put together. Richard was spending the summer out east, close to de Kooning’s studio in the Springs. Richard didn’t have a studio. So he took the catalogue and sat in a chair and ripped into it. He “hippified” it.
Some of the de Kooning drawings in the catalogue reminded him of his own Hippie Drawings. De Kooning had style. Richard didn’t. So he used his hippie “pose” and de Kooning’s style, mashed the two together, and started drawing directly in the de Kooning catalogue.

Filled the whole thing up. A new head. A new arm. A leg. He even drew the word “HIPPIE” on the cover. He collaged body parts onto de Kooning’s women. He turned some of de Kooning’s women into men. (The “turn” was what he called “my contribution.”) The contribution was a way of connecting to de Kooning’s women. The connection changed de Kooning’s women into a kind of hybrid. A new gender. Inclusive. All things body. Everything at the same time. Men and women. Women and women. Men and men.

He says he can’t remember the circumstance or why, but he sent the hippie de Kooning book back to MOCA. There was talk about buying it. But they didn’t. They passed. “Hippie de Kooning” was returned and Richard put it away.

A bunch of years went by, and as years go by, books have a way of hanging around.

High Times calls.


“This is High Times magazine.”

High Times magazine called to ask if Richard wanted to do a cover. Something about an anniversary cover. Twenty-fifth anniversary? He doesn’t remember the exact number. But they wanted to know if he could give them some Hippie Drawings for a July cover. Richard was surprised. How did High Times know about the Hippie Drawings? The hanging-around book.

The only thing Richard knew about High Times was that his friend Glenn O’Brien used to be the editor. “Editor at large.” Glenn coined the term. Richard had never looked at or paged through a copy of the magazine. He wasn’t even aware that it was still being published. “Yeah,” they said. “Bigger than ever. Pot is everywhere. And if it isn’t, it will be.” They wanted to use five different Hippie Drawings and put out five different covers. Richard went with it.

A year after High Times . . . Q-Tip.

Q-Tip from A Tribe Called Quest visits.

Q-Tip asks Richard if he wants to illustrate the Tribe’s new album cover. The Tribe hadn’t put out an album in eighteen years. And Q-Tip wanted a Hippie Drawing for the cover. The bell rings again. How did Q-Tip know about the Hippie Drawings?
Got to be the book. The hanging-around book. If there’s some other explanation, all Richard will say is “beat hippie punk.” Yeah, I know—it’s not even an explanation.

A year to a year and a half later, A Tribe Called Quest’s We Got it from Here . . . Thank You 4 Your Service comes out.

Richard can’t stop playing it. Continued rotation. “The rhymin’ noodle.”
In the middle of High Times and the Tribe, Richard was working on a body of work he called Super Group.

Super Group started off simple. One day Richard removed a 33 1/3 rpm record from its sleeve. He held the sleeve in his hand and stared at it. It was paper. It was square. It was foxed. It was yellowed at the edges, and had a hole in it. Even on its own it had inherent meaning. Without thinking Richard took a pencil and signed the sleeve: “To Richard Hell from another Richard Hell.” It was quick. No thought. No intent. Not much of anything. Just reaction. Instant memorabilia. Richard signed the sleeve, framed it, and hung it in his studio. It hung there for a year. After a year of walking back and forth in front of it, Richard went through his record collection and found nine Sonic Youth albums. He removed all the records from their sleeves and gridded and pasted the sleeves with white acrylic paint onto a canvas. He called the painting Nine Sonic Youths. This is a correct title. It’s an accurate title. An accurate description. More of that realer-than-real.

The different “aging” of the nine sleeves reminded him of Agnes Martin. Not exactly the same, but the look of the painting had that soft minimal off-white tone of Martin’s paintings.

The next one was the Kinks.


Sixteen Kinks.

Richard said he had only three Kinks records in his collection, so he had to go to a used record store to get some more. That changed things. What it changed is going to a used record store. One, he started going more. And two, he wasn’t buying records for the record but for the sleeve the record is in.

Richard started referring to this body of work as the Sleeve Paintings. It was an okay title, but not a really good one.


Six months after discovering he could buy all kinds of record sleeves on the Internet (as the Sleeve Paintings start to get bigger, this made using sleeves as a background a lot easier than going to a used record store and carting home a shopping bag full of records), Richard came up with the name Super Group.

He had started writing the names of bands directly onto the sleeves. Writing out the names of groups like Cream and Blind Faith, groups that he grew up with, reminded him of the term used to describe what these two groups were supposed to be:


This was better than Sleeve Paintings.

Super Group was lucky. Another lucky title. Another good title. Another nonfiction title. It fit with what he was making. The fit was perfect. “Perfect is true. Perfect is art.”

In the summer of 2016 Richard made a painting of four figures that he called his own Super Group. The painting was based on his early Hippie Drawings. The four figures were a made-up band, but “making up” was something Richard was still having trouble with. “Making up is always trouble.”

By the next summer he was still writing the names of bands on sleeves but he also started adding small hippie-like drawings to the sleeves. The combination of sleeves, names, and drawing made it to Berlin in September 2017, where he had a show called Super Group.

After returning from Berlin he stopped writing the names of bands on sleeves and then stopped using sleeves, but he kept on drawing and painting the hippie figures.

Back in 1998 you couldn’t own your own inkjet machine.

But this was 2017.

And every artist he knew had their own machine, and so did Richard.
The Jet Generation.

Richard started to make inkjet reproductions of his 1998–99 Hippie Drawings.
It’s got to start somewhere. And that’s where it started. He was appropriating himself. He didn’t put it that way. But that’s the way I can put it.
His old became new by using new technology.

You can inkjet on almost any surface . . . paper, canvas, linen, cloth. You can scale what you feed into the jet, big or small. It gives you a head start. The printed image can be redrawn, drawn over, added onto, or collaged with other drawings. A new painting can be rephotographed and that new painting can be fed back into the inkjet and you can print it out and start over. Change it. That’s what jetting is good for. Change. And you can do it quickly. The jet spits out the image on canvas in the morning and by the afternoon with nothing but an oil stick you can mark a new eye, nose, and mouth, and have a whole new painting.

High Times.

Calling these new paintings High Times made sense. It was an open title. “Open-ended.” The title was a lifetime of experiences. And besides, someone had already put that title on five of his Hippie Drawings. It wasn’t like Richard thought it up.

“And it was fun.”

It was fun making these paintings. “Or at least I thought it was fun.”

That’s what Richard finally told me. And he told me wasn’t sure if he’d ever had fun making art.

He couldn’t recall if the emotion or the point of view of “having fun” had ever entered into his past experience of making art.

And if it wasn’t fun, so what?

It was true. And if it wasn’t true, the feelings were true.

Feels good. Something was good again.

“And I’m not sure I’m even pretending.”

And not pretending he was cool with.

“Yeah, I was cool with that. It was time. It was time to go back, remind . . . circle back to the ‘dead’ heads and do something that I was born to do.”

“Check it out.”

The High Times are him.

—Joan Katz

Joan Katz is a writer and has known Richard Prince since 1990 when they were in a band together called Black Bra. She lives and works in Prague.


Rock Lobster: October 20, 2017

Take my paintings… please.
I’ve been sampled.
The four painting that are currently hanging at the Lobster Club, 99 East 52nd St., are not mine. Although they are based on paintings I did in 2011-13, they have nothing to do with me.
Nada. Zilch. Zero.
I was never consulted. Never asked. And I never gave permission.
It’s okay.
I’m only dying.
You can take my work and do anything you want with it.
I will not object. I will not lawyer up. I will not sue.
The four paintings at the Lobster Club are decorations, fabrications, interpretations, “covers”.
Sort of like when a songwriter’s song gets recorded by another singer.
Judy Collins singing Joni Mitchell’s Both Sides Now. (Mitchell has said Collin’s “version” was disappointing, commercial, embarrassing, skinny, “made me wince’, “one sided”.
What’s genuine anyway?
Maybe the four paintings at the Lobster Club are a tribute.
Like when fake Kiss bands dress up like Kiss and play Kiss songs.
I’m not sure why an artist would have a “Tribute Artist”, but I think there’s plenty of Led Zeppelin band’s out there trying to be Led Zeppelin. (I’ve heard there’s artists in China painting nurses. Good luck.)
“The paramount concern is not to care.”
T.E. Lawrence said that.
Tell me… what should I care about?
As I’ve said before… there’s always someone out there who’s going to try and make you more popular. More mainstream. More digestible. Palatable. Easy does it. It comes with the territory.
Luckily I don’t have producers, engineers, handlers, contracts. I’m not beholding.
It’s a free concert.
I’m not looking to tell anybody anything.
I’m not interested in that little “c” in a circle.
What me copyright?
All I ask is that you don’t pawn off mine as mine. Don’t re-make a Richard Prince and pretend it’s a Richard Prince. Own up to it. Give yourself credit. Get your head out of your ass and stop kissing mine.
You did it, I didn’t.
I hate everybody.
I’m in denial.
I don’t hate anybody.
Want to make art? Don’t

The Ripple Paintings. 10/26/2017

Not your everyday semi-realistic preparatory plaster castor fresco with a splash of satiric
humor over a Whitney Darrow caricature.

Sidebar: Darrow is one of Richard’s “fab’s”. A longtime New Yorker cartoonist. He was also
Jackson Pollock’s roommate.

A little of this. A little of that.
How hard can it be?

The Ripple Paintings are in the middle of two bodies of work.
The first body… Super Group. The third body… High Times.
The Ripple Paintings were made between 2015 and 2017.
Richard Prince told me “the rips” started off (“Major Tom’d”), by collecting cartoons published
in Playboy. Cartoons that were originally published between the years 1967 and 1970.
“Three years that I remember, revisit, still think about. The turn on, turn up years. The years the
circle replaced the square. The years the groove moved the twist and the uptight and upright
lost its vote. The years Mr. Jones didn’t know what hit him. These years opened up and let me
out. Man, I felt like I cleaned house. All the phony baloney shot out of my ass. All my life I had
been lied too. Now I was awake. I was receptive. And all I needed was something to agree
with. Between 1967 and 1970 I agreed to say no.”

“I’ve been working on the railroad.”

Richard told me it was a simple idea.
“The cartoons that were submitted to the magazine were watercolors. That’s what was
handed in, delivered to the art director. It was how they were made. Gouache on illustration
board. Sketch, wash, and punch line. I bought the magazines on e-bay. I bought thirty-six
issues. I flipped thru the magazine and tore my favorite “toons” out of the magazine, put the
torn page on the floor, and poured more watercolor on the cartoon. Water on water. My red
watercolor on their yellow cartoon. Fifty/fifty. My contribution? My psychotic breakdown of
my psychic connection. Also a contrasting color. My red water on their yellow water. I would
come back the next morning and my red would dry in its own way. It had personality. Travel,
leak, pool, stains and puddles. And on the way to drying, the dry would ripple the paper. The
pour would do its thing. A secret ‘cover’. The drying stayed up all night. Land of a thousand
dances. The spread of my watercolor really didn’t have to do with me. It was independent. The
form had a life of its own, a mind of its own, and each morning after ‘the evaporation’… I got
a surprise.”

I asked Richard if he could pass The Acid Test.
“Probably not.”
“I’ve always been a fan of Ken Kesey. ‘It’s the truth even if it didn’t happen.’ ‘And when you
lose your laugh you lose your footing.’
But I’m late to the Grateful Dead. I just started listening.”
Then he went on a little Birdtalk about the Ripples.

“They’re sexy.
Hit and miss.
Anyone can find me.
Everybody has to listen to Mom.
Unmasking? Good luck.
Most of the time I don’t have much fun. The rest of the time I don’t have any fun at all.
Que Sera Sera. (I wish)”

Richard kept telling me it was a stupid idea. I’m not even sure he said “idea”. But he did say
“stupid”. He emphasized the word. Like it was a badge. A medal. An award. “You don’t have to
look up the word in the dictionary. If you do, your probably not an artist.” He riffed that like it
was one of his joke paintings.
He liked that his stupid idea lacked common sense. He repeated. Watercolor on watercolor.
“More water. More color?” It wasn’t a question. It was a fact. And Richard likes to have facts in
his works. Non-fiction. Something he can point to and name. He likes his titles to be what
they are. The mistakes are great and he loves making them, but coming up with a name for
the mistakes has to be a bull’s-eye. It’s about helping. “Don’t get mad. Get glad.” Eliminate the
posture. Eliminate the guessing. The speculation. The subjectivity. Richard doesn’t like politics
of symposium.

A second coat of paint.
The "jet" is nothing but hardware.

Richard knew how he wanted to translate the new covering.
Ink jet.
He’s been using Ink Jet since 1985.
He told me back in ’85 there were only two places in the country you could “send away” for
an ink jet print.
“It was primitive. Four colors sprayed out on a glossy tarp. The interpretation wasn’t very
sophisticated and the reproduction of what you wanted reproduced was usually dull, cheap,
and not very accurate.”
A lot has changed. Now you can have your own machine and instead of sending away to a
commercial lab, you can spend the afternoon typing and coding exactly what you want and
watch what comes out in your own space. Echo. Soul. Emotion. The three ghosts are like
Casper. Friendly. Convenient too. Immediate. No waiting. “No saving up box tops and sending
them off to Battle Creek Michigan.”

“Ancient footprints are everywhere.
You can almost think that you’re seein’ double.
Someday, everything is gonna be smooth like a rhapsody.”

There are all kinds of canvas and paper you can put through the printer, and the way the ink
jets out... is fast, sweet, positive. It’s like some kind of new carburetor blending air and
injecting fuel into a proper ratio. It bursts out a combustion of implausible liquid juice.
“Mine has a Holley and nitrous oxide. It’s a clean machine. It’s not a miracle, but it does the

“I’ll take my chances.”

“Electronic scissor.”
Richard tells me that’s how he use to describe re-photography back in 1977.
And cartoons?
He’s been dealing with the subject since 1985.
“I wanted something to draw, so I re-drew cartoons.”
“I love cartoons. Funny drawings. Serious humor. Subversive. Laugh out loud. Another way of
surviving. They’re part of the magazine. And I’ve always liked to open up a magazine and see
what’s up. Every magazine is an Inside World.”

Paintings R Us.

After the jet, the canvas is stretched by Kevin from Philadelphia. “He’s the man with the plan.”
This might not mean much, but the image of what’s printed is wrapped around the edge of
the stretcher an eighth inch. It’s not on top, it's around. Not much around, but around. Just
enough. Formalism? Okay. Ingredients matter. But I think Richard would describe it more like
homework. That little 1/8 counts. Without it, the painting is a B-plus. When I went to his studio
to see the paintings, it’s all he would talk about. But he didn’t think it was important to anyone
but him. He’s resigned. He knew that the viewer, the audience... wouldn’t pay attention.
What’s forward and impactful for him is function and pleasure. The combination is in the
details. Discovery takes time. He went on to say, “What’s underneath, the subtext, the “wild
history”… can take years. People are bouncing. That’s what people do these days. The
electric stampede is so jammed up you need to stream Einstein’s pipe to go to sleep. What
can I say? How about the caption in that cartoon?” (He points to a Ripple that’s covered in a
fracture of purple blaze). ‘In dreams begin responsibility.’

Big pieces of color.

That’s what the Ripples are. How do you make a new abstract painting? That’s the last thing I
asked Richard.
“I don’t know,” he said.
“I don’t think that way. How do I make? I go to work. I go to my studio. Shut the door and
listen to Wilco.”
There’s a pause. He looks at his shoes. He lifts one foot off the floor.
“I can only stand this way for so long. After awhile I start to wobble.”
I’m not sure what he means. Then he’s back. Where did he go?

“But yea, abstraction. One thing leads to another. Sometimes I get lucky. Hilma af Klint. She
belonged to the five. A circle of women that tried to get in touch with the high masters. Not
one master but several. Intuition. Alchemy. Séance. We’re talking 1906. Her spiritual non
-objective paintings pre-dated Kandinsky. She ate Kandinsky’s heart out. She died after a
traffic accident. I take that knowing into my studio. I take everything I can get. So of course,
abstraction. The absence of consequences. What do they say?...‘painting the unseen’. So yea.
But I like a good story better.”
Joan Katz

Joan Katz is a journalist, living in Prague, who has known Richard Prince since 1989. In 1990 Prince and Katz formed a band called Black Bra when they were both living in Rome.

Super Group 10/24/2017

“When I came here today, there was something true.” Wilco

Super Group is the first of three bodies of work. They go together. Have something in common. Themes. Stories. What I know. What I like. What I like to know. What I want to know. Knows and looks that have to do with music and counter culture.
The second body is The Ripple Paintings.
The third is High Times.
The title Super Group came to me about a year ago. But the “came” really started in 1990 when I was in my own band, Black Bra.

I was living in Rome working in a stone cold studio and I teamed up with Joan Katz, aka Annie Anne. She played drums and terrorist and I played guitar and friend. We called ourselves Black Bra and played twice in public. The music we played was based on a song I wrote in the winter of 1986. I played the song on a Casio keyboard and recorded it on cassette in my bedroom. The song was about heebie-jeebies, humiliation, and existential agony. I called the song LOUD SONG. (I tried recording the loudest song ever recorded in my bedroom, while living in Venice California, after leaving NYC because I thought I was having a mental breakdown after I was kicked out of my girlfriends apartment where I would drink ice cold vodka all night and watch porn on VHS tapes I could rent from a downstairs video rental store called The World Of Video). LOUD SONG was eighteen minutes long. It’s the only song Black Bra ever played. It was supposed to crack you open and ring your lights out. TKO. It was supposed to be ten times bigger then the Velvets Sister Ray. I think twenty people saw and heard us. One of them was Gregory Corso. Beat poet. Writer of Gasoline. Friend of Ginsberg. I remember him. Dead reckoning remember. There was speculation about his reputation, but no reliable information. He looked like his reputation. As they say, “his reputation preceded him”.
Joan and I grouped for three months. I split back for NYC and she moved to Prague. We’ve stayed in touched and she recently interviewed me and wrote my press release for my Ripple Paintings.


Six years ago I took a sleeve out of a vinyl album and looked at it and liked the foxing, the beige color, the yellowing, the creases, the weight of the paper, the two- sidedness of the construction and the hole. It also had inherited meaning.
I picked up a pencil and signed it to myself from Richard Hell. I wrote, “From One Richard To Another, Richard Hell 1977”. It wasn’t real, but it was real for me.
Another start.
I glued the sleeve to an album size canvas and hung it on my studio wall.
I kept it there for another year. This was like 2008.

Instant Karma.

Nothing much happened after that. I kept looking at the Richard Hell sleeve. And kept thinking about making more but the idea of turning record sleeves into fake memorabilia didn’t really excite me.

In 2011 I was checking out my collection of Sonic Youth Albums. I pulled out the records and removed the records from the sleeves. There were nine sleeves. I laid out the sleeves in a grid, three on top of three on top of three. Another square. I looked at it and called it Nine Sonic Youths. That excited me. The name, the title connected the abstraction and made it less abstract. It looked like art. It looked like an Agnes Martin with holes. It was creamy.

Want to make art? Don’t.

The next one I did was 16 Kinks.
I only had six Kink albums so I had to go out to a vinyl store and buy ten more Kinks. Going to the record store changed. It wasn’t just about buying albums. There was a new purpose to going to a record store.


16 Kinks was the first time I started calling them the Sleeve Paintings.
The next was the Beatles.
I did 87 Beatles.
9 Sonic Youth and 16 Kinks were simply pasted.
The property of the sleeves weren’t touched. The difference in their individuality wasn’t messed with. Their tones were all that mattered. I was making something basic. Really simple. The given patterns and ‘aging’ was what I was looking at.


The Beatles were the first sleeves I painted. There were so many I used a two-part canvas and the way I stuck them to the canvas was with white and off white acrylic paint. Things got messy. Fits and starts. There were mistakes made and I had so many sleeves to choose from, I would rip some off and put other ones in their place. I had like fifteen copies of Revolver. Using paint as glue became a happy ingredient. The right ingredient. I went to town. “Sargent Pepper told the band to play.” I was ripping it up.

Rave On.

After the 87 Beatles, I worked on a small canvas and started to use 45 “single” sleeves and paid attention to sleeves that had lyrics printed on them. I also discovered you could order sleeves over the internet. The mail ordering changed the making.
I could order hundreds of sleeves. Black ones. White ones. One’s that looked like the color of a manila envelope.

I was listening to Chuck Berry and wrote down his lyric “riding along in my automobile” on a sleeve.
Scribing lyrics.
It made the idea of “collecting” more important. Prominent.
The meaning of Soul Music according to Rapheal Saadiq.
I did a whole painting of the Doors.
I drew the distinctive “font” of the Doors.
I did the same with the Def Leppard font.
At first I was uncomfortable with my handwriting additions.
It was hard to break away from the minimal look of 16 Kinks.
Then the idea of framing my new hands on applications helped me with my indecisiveness.
They were works on papers. You usually frame works on paper. Once I made that connection, the glass and frame made sense. Obvious? Sure. Of course. Sometimes. Why don’t you try it.
Most of the time you swing and miss. When you finally hit it you wonder what took you so long.

Looking at what I listened too.

So that’s what happened.
From Louis Prima to Tex Ritter to Johnny Cash to Howlin Wolf to Procol Harum to Ten Years After to Fairport Convention to Sam Kinison to Sam Cook to The Chamber Brothers to Boots Randolph to Laura Nero to the Germs to Jim O’Rourke to Brazilian Ecstasy to Paul Revere and the Raiders to Jonnine Standish to Larry Heard to Silent Servant to Schooly D to NWA to the Kingston Trio to Allan Sherman to T-Rex to Lydia Lunch to A Tribe Called Quest.

And when The Tribe showed up in early spring, 2016, the story of the sleeves entered another dimension.

Q-Tip came to the studio and liked a black and white sleeve painting that had nothing on it. What he pointed to was new. It was a 48-inch square template that I had started ink jetting… using the pattern of twenty-four paper sleeves as a starting point. I printed out the same pattern eight times. The printing was on a rubbery canvas that felt like the wax of a record. The plan was to use the same eight patterns to draw on, make marks, sign and stick them with names like The Smiths, The MC5 and Booker T and M.G.’s. (The “stickers” were those labels that keep the CD in their plastic container).
I was dee-jaying the sleeves with ink jet.

The Ramen Noodle.

Q-Tip asked me if I wanted to do his next album cover. The Tribe hadn’t put out an album in 18 years.
He pointed to the blank template and asked if I could put a “hippie drawing” on it. I was surprised. A hippie drawing. How did he know? I did the hippie drawings back in 1998. How did he know about the hippie drawings? I never asked.

Expiration date: The Hippie Drawings never really had an expiration date.

I went over to Q-Tip’s place in New Jersey. Five minutes across the George Washington Bridge. Went to the basement. Showed him some mock-ups. Some preliminary ideas. Some VU renderings that had one foot in the hippie drawings and another in the smoke of a new strain that would hopefully entertain and extend the feelings that the hippie drawings were supposed to relieve.
The summer before, High Times Magazine asked to put some hippie drawings on some kind of anniversary issue. They put out five covers. Maybe Q-Tip saw some of the issues. Again, I didn’t ask. I was on assignment. I usually turn down requests that are this specific. It’s hard to repeat a vibe. Especially one that’s twenty years old. What I didn’t know that afternoon, after I drew all the Tribes portraits, and “hipped” them with 1500 colors… what I didn’t know, (again, I didn’t know) what I didn’t know… was that when I’d go back over the George Washington, back to the drawing board, (back to the garden), I’d make my own group portrait. The portrait would consist of four figures. The four figures were my own made up band. I called the portrait SUPER GROUP.

The sleeve paintings had a new name.

Supergroup is a music group whose members are already successful as solo artists or, as part of other groups or well known in other musical professions.
What is a supergroup?
There have to be at least three members.
They have to have released at least one album… no all-star jams.
The majority of the band members have to have been in well-known bands BEFORE the supergroup formed. I didn’t make this up. You can look it up.

A Perfect Circle.
Mr. Big.
Them Crooked Vultures.
Damn Yankees.
The Firm.
Temple of the Dog.
Black Country Communion.
Blue Murder.
Blind Faith.

These bands are considered part of the top twenty Super Groups of all time. I included Blind Faith because I’ve never heard of the others.

Cream started it. The first Super Group.
I went to see Cream in Boston at the Boston Tea Party in 1967. I think it was 1967. All I remember is how loud they were.
Eric Clapton. Jack Bruce. Ginger Baker. When the album came out I starred at it. I’d never seen people who looked like Cream.

I’m so out of tune.

Doing the Tribe’s album cover.
Another direction.
The language shifted. The shift became shapes. The shapes became figurative. Taking up where I left off.
The hippie figures exaggerated. Epaulets, feathers, embroidery, tie-dye, patches, and fringe. Crack up, head start, oompf. Excuse me… spiraling. Crash, out of control, bender. Nosebleeds. Tooth decay. Smiles wide open. I tried to do what the cover of Cream did for me. I tried to make figures I had never seen before.
All the bands I started to paint became Super Groups.
The title fit. It was perfect. I got lucky. And I could point to these new paintings and call them what they were. They had an identity. They had weight. They were freer.

They were free wild.
One or the other.
I’ll settle for spirit.
The song Spirit In The Sky, by Norman Greenbaum, is used on at least thirty-five movie soundtracks. Miami Blues is my favorite. Early Alec Baldwin. Early Jennifer Jason Leigh. Based on the book by Charles Willeford.

“Sometimes you get what you need.”

Supergroup is what I needed. And sometimes what you need is all you need.
I’d been working with sleeves on and off for four years, they weren’t right, they weren’t finished. They didn’t have extra extra. They had a verse and bridge but they didn’t have a hook.
Super Group became the hook. Sum, total, whole.
I can stack Roy Orbison, Chuck D, Bill Evans, Patsy Cline, The Pretenders, and Lee Renaldo on one sleeve.
Standard. Staple. Classic. Popular.
The whole sleeve can be a hit.

“Playing Kiss covers beautiful and stoned”.
Wilco background.

I’ve never listened to Kiss. But I’ve used their images on paintings I made in the late ninety’s. I printed all four members faces and sent them away to a check making company and started to write Kiss checks to the electrical company. I paid my mortgage with them. I wrote out a Gene Simmons to my psychiatrist. I waited to get them back at the end of each month. Cancelled. Cancelled checks. I put them in draws. I treated them like a secret diary. The Kiss checks were cartoons. Each of the bands persona’s were supposed to be a superhero. Kiss was part of the end of arena rock. Punk made them irrelevant. At least that’s what I’m told. It’s odd now that there’s Kiss fan clubs that show up to Comic Con. Comic Con is huge. It’s like the new acid test. I don’t think there’s any Sex Pistol fan clubs at Comic Con.

Off the beaten path.
Far out.

I’m not sure where I’m going with this. Why am I telling you this? And who are you that I’m telling?

Tell me everything.

I made checks out of five images of Sid Vicious. I only wrote out one Sid Vicious check. It was to Cumberland Farms for five dollars and sixty-five cents. It’s dated 2004.
Why Cumberland Farms? Why of all the things or places would I write the one and only Sid Vicious check to Cumberland Farms?
Good Question.
I was thinking of making it out to Stewart’s, or even Agway… but in the end I thought “the farms” was what my friend, the impresario Malcolm Mclaren, would of approved of. Sure, the Gap probably would’ve been a more smooth fuse, but Malcolm had no way of knowing how much I loved his Duck Rock.

“I’m worried, I’m always in love.”
More Wilco background.

Persona refers to a theatrical mask. A character that’s presented in public that’s perceived by others. The word means many things. A semblance. A new guise.

I’m with the band.

Back in the late seventies I played in a band called Guise. But the first night we played publicly, the flyer we wheat pasted below Canal Street, Guise got crossed out and we wrote in Guy’s.
The we in the group was me and my friend Frank Schroeder.
Frank is an artist and had a floor thru loft on Chambers. Big. Windows on Duane to windows on Chambers. He was locked in to sweet lease. Grandfathered. It’s where we practiced. We both played guitar. We played at Tier 3, on West Broadway near White.
Guy’s lasted one night.
A week later I played another one night-stand at Jenny Holzer’s loft on Broadway. Just me. Solo. I was friends with Kim Gordon and she was living in Jenny’s loft. She designed my flyer. She called my band HIM. I think I wanted to call it Hymn but Kim changed it to HIM.
I was way to self-conscious to play more than one night. I didn’t have the drive. I didn’t have the belief. And I was truly uncomfortable, (in my own skin), to pull off any kind of meaningful relationship with the same twenty people who showed up to these no wave party’s.

“Collab” could of have been a good name for a Super Group.

A lot of artists were in bands back in late seventies and early ‘80’s. Forming and reforming and trying to penetrate… lift off. I think mostly, it was a distraction from working in the studio all day. A chance to release fucked up, pent up, up to nothing, physical energy.
Art bands.
Bush Tetras. Mars. Erasers. Y-Pants. DNA. 8-Eyed Spy. Live Skull. Blurt.
I remember a lot of posing.

How do you get to Carnegie Hall?

The most serious was Glenn Branca.
His band was drums and at least seven people playing guitars. Every artist I knew who played guitar, played in his band. You usually lasted four weeks. He would come to your place and teach you the part he wanted you to play. There was no room for improv. It was his music. And you played it his way. He called his compositions Symphonies. Alternative tunings. Repetition. Harmonic drones. And when we went on stage, he conducted.
Glenn had a following. A downtown following. Even Lower Manhattan. He was a staple at the Kitchen. I remembered once we opened up for Laurie Anderson at Harrah’s.
Frank was in the band that night. Wharton Tiers. Jules Baptiste. Jeffery Glenn. Glenn’s drummer up to then was always Stephan Wischerth.
(Sidebar: Stephan was a plumber by day. He would come over and fix your pipes. Instead of him giving you a bill, he’d take art. In the mid-80’s he did some plumbing for me and I gave him a print of Spiritual America).
Anyway, back to Harrah’s, the B-side.

I had brought Jeffery Glenn into the band. Jeff wasn’t an artist. Jeff was a straight- ahead rock and roller. With no patience for anything but John B. Good.
Branca needed someone who could play fast that night. No time to bring him up to speed. In other words, he needed someone with talent. Jeffery filled the bill. Jeffery was a former roommate. I asked him. It was a favor.
Half-way thru the performance, I looked over at Jeffery and we both nodded. We heard something. The same thing. We heard a new kind of rock’n roll. We both recognized what we were hearing was something searing, loud, an exceptional sonic sound that neither of us was familiar with. What we heard was a mixed tape of Suicide, Philip Glass, and The Stooges. Kick out the jams, arm and hammer, bad manners… none of that begins to describe what our ears were filling up with. But I could tell it was filling up with SOMETHING. The music that night was top of the pops. It was towering.
But after we stopped, and came off stage, I knew I couldn’t tell Glenn Branca.
He wouldn’t want to hear what we heard. He didn’t care about the excitement we felt. “The new place.” The new hole we just ripped open. It was his band. His music. And nothing that came out of all those guitars was going to change the way he wanted his music to mean to him. Branca was the maestro. He was the real deal. He was an artist. You’ve got to respect that.

I was out after that night.
I quit.
I knew deep down I was just a tourist.
I didn’t play in another band for ten years.
I heard a couple of weeks after I left, Thurston Moore joined Branca’s band.

I just read the first couple of reviews of Super Group.
“The works echo through the spaces like reverb.”
“Prince replicates lyrics and band names, like the Smiths or the Roots, and memorializes them in new constellations.”
“The works in ‘Super Group’ are like schizophrenic totems.”
“The new works also recall the Hippie Drawings Prince created in the early 2000s. Having come so far in his career, it seems only logical. No celebrity is safe from the hands of Richard Prince… not even himself.”

Not even myself.

I should say for the past five Xmas vacations I’ve been learning to play the Ukulele.

Let me humor you.

Let me tell you about the time I visited my Dad when he was stationed in Honolulu Hawaii.
I was a junior in high school.
I stayed with my Dad for a month at the YMCA.
He worked for the government and was going back and for between the big island and Vietnam. What he was doing in Vietnam was “top secret”. I can only guess but I’ve speculated that he was defoliating the jungle so our soldiers could see the enemy. What did I know? He was my Dad. He said he was an electrical engineer. That’s what he always said.
Don Ho’s Tiny Bubbles was on all the radio stations. Ho was a big cheese in Honolulu. Had his own nightclub.
My Dad called Ho the Dean Martin of Hawaii.
My Dad also told me he loved Vietnam. And Vietnamese women.
I think he was in seventh heaven for the first time in his life.
Good for you Dad.

There’s a cartoon I re-drew in 1985 that reminds me of my father. The cartoon is of a girl carrying a protest sign that says PEACE. She’s walking out her front door, passing her father on the way out. He’s sitting in a chair holding a newspaper. He’s looking at her. The caption of the cartoon says… ANY LUCK?

During the last few days of my stay in Honolulu I started hanging around, going to parties with soldiers that were on R&R. Soldiers who rotated back from Nam for two weeks of rest and recreation. Most of the soldiers were two years older than me.
They told me I should enlist when I turned eighteen.
“We’re having a ball. When you come over, be sure to sign up as dental assistant. That way you can smoke all the weed you want and not get your ass shot off.”

The last night I was there, there was a big bonfire. Right on Waikiki.
Everybody was in bathing suits and bikinis.
There were five, six, maybe even ten people playing acoustic guitars.
They were strumming and belting out “If I had a hammer”.
I was in the middle of a huge hootenanny.
By the next summer, the love of San Francisco would boil over and R&R would replace Peter Paul and Mary’s Hoot with Hendrix’s Experience.

Crimson Flames.

I just collected two things Dylan.
Collecting. A wonderful curse.
I’m a bibliophile. The smell, look, feel of books. Tattered, musty, the one’s with the unsophisticated dust-jackets.
“So what if I love books more than people”… is one of the definitions of a bibliophile.

The first Dylan I just collected.
The original drawing that Milton Glaser did for Bob Dylan’s Greatest Hits. 1966. Black India ink on paper with color Cello-Tak applications signed in typeset text in the upper right hand margin matted and framed. 9 ¼ x 12 inches.
The portrait is based on a 1957 self-portrait by Marcel Duchamp and the psychedelic movement at the time. Approximately six million prints made from the drawing were distributed with the enormously popular album. Any Dylan fan knows this poster. It’s the one with the rainbow hair.
Why do I have it? Why do I need it?
I could say something like I’m frightened of real experience, but let’s just say BECAUSE I HAVE TO.

Super Sleeve.

The second Dylan I bought…
Eleven original acetate recordings by Bob Dylan from 1962, owned by record producer John H Hammond… who signed Dylan to Columbia Records and produced Dylan’s eponymous debut album. While there were thirteen songs on the released album, only discs for the first eleven songs seem to have survived. The first acetate, “You’re No Good”, has a spoken word introduction that did not make it onto the final album and is not in circulation. The acetates are each 10” single-song recordings, and represent the first time Dylan’s music made it onto disc.
Each acetate has its own sleeve, the side and track number and also Dylan’s name and Columbia’s “CO” number notated in pencil are on the upper left, and J Hammond, also in pencil, is on the upper right. Much of the same information is written on each disc in grease pencil, where a label would ordinarily be. You can’t play an original acetate more than four or five times. I’m told after the fifth play the sound starts to disappear. If you play it like seven times the sound is gone.

Bringing it all back home.
Right now I’d really like to listen to Curtis Mayfield’s Superfly.
"Tryin’ ta get over."

May 18, 2017

"New Arrangements"
College Freakz.
You may also like...

January 13, 2017

“Yippy, we’re all going to die.”
Country Joe and the Fish.
Long time ago.
I was there.
And it did feel like we were going to die. Especially after the Kent State shootings. Me and friends really thought Nixon and Agnew were going to pull the plug. Overthrow. A military “coup d’état.” We were freaked. We made plans to split for the woods. We were already in Maine, so we didn’t have to split that far. We didn’t exactly know how we were going to deal with the exile, but we felt we needed to counterattack. Lock and load. Recon. All these weird opposites of “peace now” were messing with our heads. And it wasn’t movie shit. It was messing with us because the opposites were real.
Our model was Castro when he went up into the jungles of Cuba to fight Baptista. Guerrilla warfare. We didn’t exactly know how to go about being guerrillas, but we had no choice. We were art students. What the fuck did we know about ammunition, sabotage, ambush, camouflage. All we knew was how we felt. We had had enough. We were pissed off and fed up with marches and protests and needed to survive and fight. We probably would have been rounded up and had our asses thrown in jail before we even pitched our tents… but our backs were against the wall and “live free or die” wasn’t just some phony slogan on the flag of our sister state of New Hampshire. Something. Anything. Even if it was lowering that declaration to half mast.
Times, they are a changing?
I used to think they were.
But now?
I’m not so sure.
The times are dark and dangerous and Up Against the Wall Motherfucker is as relevant as it was when the MC5 kicked out the jams back in Ann Arbor, in 1970.
I still think like an art student.
That will never change.
I don’t give a shit and never have.
Careless and irresponsible are always in a jar by the door.
What’s in the jar gets shacked and mixed into something that can’t be named.
What am I trying to say?
Artists are free.
I know I am.
When Picasso painted Guernica and a Nazi walked in to his studio and asked Picasso, “did you paint that?” Picasso said, “no… you did”.
“You can’t handle the truth.”
“If you can’t print the truth, print the legend.”

On 11/18/2014, I sold Ivanka Trump an ink jet instagram portrait (of her) for 36k.
It was sort of a commission.
I don’t know who asked me if I would consider doing her “portrait”, but I said let me look at her “feed” and I’ll let you know.
I let them know.
I’ll do it.
I had never met her. Didn’t know much about her. But she posted a lot of pictures of herself on her instagram account… the kind of pictures that I thought looked like “new portraits”… (meaning?) the kinds of pictures that seem to exist only on instagram and pictures that let me imagine what she might be like.
I picked one where she was sitting in a chair getting her hair done. Her hair was in
curlers. The “image” looked good, made up, believable… it look like it was fun. And the mostimportant part… IT LOOKED LIKE WHAT I WANTED HER TO LOOK LIKE.

Yesterday, I “birded” on Twitter that her portrait that I made of her was no longer mine. I didn’t do it. That it was a fake portrait. I also sent the money she paid for the portrait, back. I wrote out a check for 36k and sent it to the person who originally asked me to do her portrait.

I don’t think so.
I don’t think so.
No. I don’t like pranks.
No again. I’m not after attention, publicity, or social invitation.
All I wanted was to be honest.
I feel helpless.
I feel ashamed.
I feel mad again.

When it comes to Donald Trump, I feel like I want to ring someone’s neck.
I felt like if I could be honest it might relieve some of the frustration. I felt like I had a choice in an area where there are no choices.

I made the art. And I can unmake the art.

It’s simple. I don’t want anything to do with the Trumps. And I don’t want them to have anything to do with me. Redacting Ivanka Trump’s portrait was an honest choice between right and wrong.

Right is art.

Wrong is no art.

The Trumps are no art.


"Question Painting: "Don't Fence Me In" was written by Cole Porter, Irving Berlin, Joe Walsh?"
From an excerpt entitled "Cowboy", to be published on September 26th.


Clarence "Cash" Coolidge contributed two pretty interesting things to culture. The Carnival Cutout. And the painting... "Dogs Playing Poker". Right up there with Leo Burnett... who came up with Tony The Tiger and Charlie the "star kissed" Tuna. Leo added a third, later in his career... The MayTag Repair Man.


Appropriation is killing one bird with two stones.


I wish Joe Franklin was still around. Would love to go on his show and talk about my "New Portraits". Maybe on the same show he could have Uncle Floyd, Glenn O'Brien, Joey Romone. Yea I know, some of these people are dead, but some of them are alive too. Margret Mitchell? She'd be cool. I'd definitely do her portrait if she was on Instagram. Maybe to round out the guest list... Flavor Fav, Joey Adams, Don Johnson, D'Angelo, and Gary Moore. Who Do You Trust. What's My Line. Truth Or Consequences. We could keep the chatter centered around day time game shows. If that doesn't work we could talk about my movie treatment IN MY MOVIE that Art Forum published a gazzilion years ago. Last resort? Drones. I know a guy, who knows a guy, who knows my father who knows a guy that knows about drones.



A couple of years back I went to a park bench on the corner of Fifth between 78th and 79th St. on the east side of Fifth, just outside of Central Park, sat down and put a dozen copies of Catcher In The Rye on a blanket. They were all brand new. I had just taken them out of a box that was shipped from Iceland where they were published. John McWhinney had spent a year looking for a country to publish the book, and when we finally got the finished edition we looked at each other… smiled… and without saying a word, knew it was perfect.

Cather In The Rye by Richard Prince.

John and I were huge fans of Salinger’s first novel, it’s publishing history, and it’s rarity. Re-reading the book, which came out in 1951, was like reading prose that sometimes shows up in periodicals like Esquire and Rolling Stone. We were always astounded how contemporary the writing was. The style was up to date. Salinger’s voice was conversational, straightforward, and believable. There was nothing ornamental or extraordinary about it. The slang and profanity, ahead of its time. It was kind of like reading an essay by Joan Didion. Or a review by Luc Sante. Or better yet, a long short story by Reynolds Price.

California dreaming.

John spent a year trying to find a country that would replicate Salinger’s novel. There would only be two changes to the book. The first, substituting my name for Salinger’s. The second, doubling the price. (Actually there was a third change… sort of. We removed the author’s photograph from the back cover. We had heard when the book first came out Salinger didn’t like his portrait on the book and made sure the publicity picture never appeared on the second and all subsequent editions. Hey, if he didn’t like it… we didn’t either.)

When we held “our” version in our hands it felt good. It was right. ALL RIGHT. The paper. The weight. The beige “cream” color on the dust jacket was spot on. Killer. It all made sense. The look of it made us feel happy. We enjoyed it. Everything about the object was considered.
We decided early on to put it out under our own imprint. Instead of Little Brown, we came up with AP, which stood for American Place. (I guess that’s a fourth change). We didn’t know until after we got the book printed, that American Place was what Alfred Stieglitz called his gallery in 1926. A strange and nice surprise. Both feelings came at the same time. We couldn’t of asked for a better association. Stieglitz’s “Spiritual America” photograph of a gelded horse that I ended up titling my Brooke Shields photograph back in ‘83 made the surprise and nice feeling feel like good karma.

Back to the garden.

Cather In The Rye, by Richard Prince was shrink-wrapped. We brought a bunch to Central Park and started selling them. I’m pretty sure its legal to sell used books on the sidewalks of New York. I’m positive. I’m not sure if my ‘Catcher’ qualified as a “used book.” It certainly was an original book. A “new” book. But it also could be described as “another” or “almost” book. I figured if anybody tried to put me on the spot I could always say, “its sculpture.”

We didn’t think much about whether the police would come and tell us to wrap it up, take a walk, arrest, or ask for a vendor’s license. As I recall, we didn’t get any interference or hassle from police at all. A two-man patrol walked by, looked down, looked at me, and one of the officers said, “You always help out around here with the chores?”
That was it.
Straight out of “Clothes Line Saga.”
I swear.
I nearly fell off the bench.

The corner of Fifth and 79th is populated. A steady flow of people walking by. I can’t remember the first one we sold. Or why the person bought it. Whoever it was, we didn’t know them or why or what they thought they were buying. It felt like we were hatching. We’d been sitting on an egg for a year and it finally cracked open. Howling or Howl. Out it came. What we put out had already been out. In the words of Allen Ginsburg meets Lord Buckley meets Bob Dylan meets Sam Kinison, meets Soupy Sales, meets NWA meets the Flaming Lips… “a bird in the hand is like what?… a baker’s dozen?”

James Frey stopped by and started hawking the book. Talking up customers like he was a bible salesman. He sold five in ten minutes. He had a rap, a pitch. It was like he was selling Listerine, toothpaste, chewing gum. People started showing up that we knew. Word spread thru text messaging, E-mail, photo sharing. Harper Levine. Frank Moore. Glenn O’Brien. Andy Spade. Adam Lindemann came by and wanted to buy the eight copies we had left.

My plan was to show up once a week, same day, same time, same place, until all three hundred copies were gone.
The price of the book was sixty-two dollars. (It’s printed on the inside flap… double the price for the exact same book at Barnes & Noble). If you asked, I would initial the book on the back. (No extra charge for my two initials). If you wanted it signed you would have to fork over seventy-five thousand dollars. If you wanted it inscribed… two hundred and fifty thousand dollars.
I know… crazy. But these “premium” prices weren’t arbitrary. They were in line with what you would normally pay for a real Catcher In The Rye if the Catcher was a first edition and it was signed or inscribed. As far as anybody knows there’s never been an inscribed Catcher with a dust jacket. Ever. Not a single one has been recorded or sold. The Library of Congress doesn’t have one. The Morgan. The Rare Book Division of the New York Public Library. Never, no one, anywhere. In forty years of collecting rare books I’ve never come across a Cather that’s has the whole package. Signature, inscription, unrestored dust jacket. I’m still looking. Waiting. Hoping. Holly grail.

The selling of my Catcher was easy, different, fun to do. But it only happened once. I ended up not returning to the corner of Fifth and 79th. The energy wasn’t there. I was nervous. Who knows? I didn’t want to be “in person.” The first time was the best time and anything after, felt like business. There was some talk about taking over one of those plastic booth’s at Dunkin Donuts on Lex and 88th St. “America Runs On Dunkin.” Sit and have a cup of coffee and stack up a pile of ten books on the table. I thought about that for a while, came close… chose not to… didn’t follow thru. Felt it might be more of a performance than distributing a book. I did however set up in front Rodney Dangerfield’s Comedy Club on Third and 58th St. I put my blanket down in front of the shuttered club and spent about twenty minutes. Nervous. I asked Fabiola, who ran Fulton Ryder, my publishing company, to come along and take photos. It was more like a photo op. I put on a black suit. White shirt. I even wore a vest. I ended up editing Fabiola’s shoot and put one of her photos on Instagram. It’s a shot of me standing on one leg with the other propped up against the building, my gaze is in profile, looking left, downtown. I’m holding one of the Catcher’s, the rest of them “artfully” arranged on the blanket. If you look closely, there’s a caricature of Rodney Dangerfield and an 8X10 publicity pic of Chris Rock in the window of the club behind me. The photo of me on Instagram is an Instagram photo.

I don’t think I knew at the time what Salinger’s real story was. I didn’t get him until his bio came out a couple of years later. I’d always associated Holden Caufield’s character and teenage problems, as a coming of age story. I didn’t realize Holden’s story was a war story. A story about World War II. A story about survival. I didn’t know that Salinger went ashore somewhere in Normandy on D-day and spent 245 days in combat and ended up walking into a concentration camp and seeing the bloodless shrunken bodies of countless dead Jews piled up like garbage. I didn’t know any of that. The sight. The smell. The memory. The madness. How do you know where to begin to deal with that kind of killing and murder? How do you come to terms with genocide… atrocity? Do you believe what you’re seeing? And if you do… do you even know what it is that you’re witnessing? This harvest took place in a town in Germany. A regular town. It’s the forties. Civilized. Educated. Cosmopolitan. It’s all gone. It’s all been wiped out by fanatical goose-stepping grownups. Super race. Aryans. What’s an Aryan?

After Germany surrendered I learned that Salinger checked himself into a mental ward in Berlin. When he got out, he married a woman who was part of the Gestapo. Yes. It’s true. Do you do that? Do you marry your enemy? Yes. You do that. Why? Guilt. Shame. Control. A way of dealing, coping, with love and hate. You’ve been crapped on for almost a year. Your covered in shit. You try to wipe it off. Maybe it’s that simple. You marry the thing you’ve been trying to kill for eight months and then you take a hot shower. After the wash, the soap, the rinse, the dry… you write a book about children. “An ancient child of sixteen.” Someone who’s attracted to beauty and in the end “hopelessly” crucified by the attraction. The child keeps most of his pain for himself and invites the reader to share it, handle it, take it over and keep it.

And then what?
What do you do after your book is a “best seller” and puts you into the driver’s seat? You retreat. You get yourself a little piece of the world somewhere up in the back woods of New Hampshire and keep writing. You disappear. You keep secrets. At least that’s what I think you do. Lee Miller, one of the first artists and war correspondents to witness the mass executions of the final solution, moved to the English country side, drank more, buried her camera, prints and negatives in the attic and spent the rest of her days gardening and coming up with new recipes for healthy food.

John McWhinney drowned that winter. He was in the Caribbean snorkeling, and got caught in a rip tide. He was my best friend and the person I spent the most time talking about books and book collecting and the area between the book and art world that he called “the grey” area. He would show up at least once a week at my studio with two shopping bags full of books, prints, ephemera, zines, flyers, smut, and a cross pollination of beat hippie punk cultural artifacts. I can still see him, coming down the street, waiting by my door… smiling ear to ear… knowing we would spend the next couple of hours sharing the things that we loved the best. Things that only we knew about or cared to know… things that I can only describe as medicine.

John’s death kept me sidelined. It probably will keep me over on the side for a long time. It’s not the same. I still collect books but there’s no one to share the “tonic” with. There’s an emptiness in my library. John was responsible for most of what’s there. He mentored me. Taught me the never ending points of what a good copy of Chamber Music is suppose to be. We both knew that there’s no end to what you needed to know. There’s always another copy out there. A better copy. A copy no one knew existed. The copy you have to have and can’t because your not supposed to know that there was a privately printed specially bound and numbered copy with tipped in special tissue that separates the title page from the colophon… inscribed to a family member, a brother, sister or some black sheep that you didn’t know the author had or even figured into his or her life that help make the book possible in the first place.
The first place. That’s the place we’d hear about, then try to get to. Quest. Collecting books, John would say, “is a strange journey… there’s not many of us on the journey. There’s no map out there that tells you where or how to go. You want a complete run of Wallace Berman’s Semina… cross your fingers. You want the first issue? The one with the table of contents pasted on the back? Good luck.”

Over the last four years I’ve inscribed only one copy of Catcher In The Rye by Richard Prince. I inscribed it to John McWhinney. I’ve heard about the copy of Ulysses that Joyce inscribed to Ezra Pound. I’ve heard it’s not in an institution, a foundation, or a public museum. I’ve heard it’s in private hands. Do I want it? Yes. Will I get it? I wish. It’s the copy that dreams. My “Catcher” inscribed to John? What can I say? I won’t say. I’ll bite my tongue. Keep my mouth closed. Not say a word. Go away. Hide. Get into bed. Stare at the ceiling. Look up at the fan. Get a little breeze and cool off. Try and go blank. Drift. Close my eyes. I won’t sleep. I won’t dream. I won’t even give it a second thought.




The Figures

Richard Prince arrived in NYC in August 1974. He stayed in Bed-Stuy Brooklyn with a friend of a friend for two weeks and then rented a small one bedroom sublet on Prince and West Broadway. He had saved 1,500 dollars from teaching pottery to high school students working at a private country day school south of Boston. He had read an article in the New York Times Magazine about Soho. He wanted to check it out and thought he’d come down and stay for three months. He had spent most of the summer of ’74 in southern Maine house sitting for a family, and when they returned he thought it might be a good time to go the place he always wanted to go to.

One of the first things he did after he arrived in New York was look for a drawing class. Figure drawing. He’d been going to one up in Maine for three years. He found a class on Greene St that met twice a week… maybe twenty people went… chipped in ten dollars to pay for a model, sometimes two models at the same time. The figure drawing sessions back in Maine were organized by friends. After three hours of drawing, they would open up beer and pass around their drawings and talk to each other about what they had just drawn. This didn’t happen on Greene St. No beer. No talking about what they drew. It wasn’t AA. They didn’t share. What they did was private. Everybody was in their own worlds.

“I didn’t know anybody when I came to New York City. I was on my own and spent days where the only conversation I would have was with a bartender.”

Figure drawing class in 1974 was out of fashion. “I’m not sure when it went out but I can tell you, in 1974, it wasn’t in.” Figure drawing was something he needed to do. He felt connected to something when he did it… and the tradition of drawing the figure put him in a place where El Greco, Goya, Cezanne, Picasso, de Kooning, Sigmar Polke, and R. Crumb had already been. There was something safe about the place. It wasn’t crazy or wild or new or different or groundbreaking or what was next. It’s where things started. And Richard wanted to be in the beginning.

Passing the hat.

“Whoever showed up and took off their clothes got whatever we could afford to put in the hat.”

This class met over on Broome and Mercer. It was a real dump. Tin ceiling. Exposed pipes. A bunch of cats would sit on the sills or pass by and rub up against you while you were trying to connect a hip to a thigh. The place belonged to some women and part of what was in the hat went toward their rent.

Drawing the nude was fundamental, unexciting… “squaresville.” Whatever every other artist was doing outside THE SQUARE had nothing to do with Richard. There was video. There was performance. There was post studio. There was Avalanche. Richard knew about Acconci. He knew about Smithson. He knew about Nauman. He knew about Hesse. He knew about Hannah Wilke. But he also knew about Walt Kuhn and Alice Neel… Abner Dean, Gregory Gillespie, George Tooker, Whitney Darrow Jr., James Avati and William Bailey. And he knew for himself, in August ’74, there was gouache on hot press arches, a No. 4B pencil, and a naked body. “It’s what I loved to do.” And hooking into something that was so basic and old, felt genuine. It was all about continuation… and there was nothing better when it came to “continuation” than the human body.

Richard has said that he’ll never stop thinking about human flesh. He calls this never-ending thinking “second nature.” Sure, the thinking gets interrupted by other ideas and mediums, but head to toe is simple. It’s always there. Right next to you. All around. “It grounds you and makes you think about posture.”

He does it alone. No assistants having to show or give instructions to. He usually makes some kind of figure study during the summer or on vacations, or makes it part of his day, like when he goes to museums and tries to find a room that’s empty, and sits and stares at the scale of the human form.

Every artist that he’s ever thought about has tried it. Whether they admit it or not, at some time during their life, they’ve drawn an arm, a leg, a foot, a head.

Philip Guston. Perfect example.

“I’m not sure I would’ve paid much attention to him had he not given up and cartooned his way into fat one eyed faces smoking stubby cigars. When was that show? 1970? Talk about hate. The reviews were vicious. Was he mad? Lost his mind? It’s strange to think that one of the only people who came to his defense was Willem de Kooning.”

The figure.
Who cares?
Not to Richard.
Like he’s said, “Get it on bang a gong… T-Rex.”

Richard knows the figure isn’t on everybody’s radar. Old story. Old hat. It’s all been done. Taken care of. But that’s just it. He doesn’t think it has. He likes the dead-end. “In my mind the “conventions” of the figure is what’s cool. Trying to make something different out of something that’s already been done to death makes me bend over backward, hold my breath and count to ten. I take a pulse. It’s faint. But I feel it. It’s barely there. Flat line? Almost. But I hold on. Lay it on me. Give me some skin. Give me some bones. It’s just like that The Mamas & the Papas song… ‘I’m in the mood for love.’”

Richard Prince: The Figures
23 April – 6 June, 2015
Luxembourg & Dayan
64 East 77th Street
New York City


The Fall Of Eden

Charles Company, his wife, daughter and son land on the tiny island of St. Barts, after taking a “puddle” jumper from St. Martins. St. Barts is an eight-square-mile piece of Fei Tsui jade in the open bracelet of the Lesser Antilles. It’s Christmas and St. Barts is where the Company’s have gone every Christmas for the last sixteen years. It’s familiar. They know the routine. It’s like a second home. There are no surprises. Aside from an occasional five-minute downpour, the weather is predictably perfect. They’re meeting Charles’s brother and his brother’s family and plan to share a rented house above Gustavia, the island’s main town for the next two weeks. This Christmas will be different. The moment they touch down, Charles can see there’s something not right. From the window of the plane Charles sees people running around, shouting, screaming, holding each other, crying.
The two pilots leave the plane immediately. No one comes to open the door to let Charles and his family out of the plane. The VIP Charter Service that Charles pays a premium for has failed to show up, get the luggage, and collect the passports. Charles can see his brother waving from behind a glass wall, inside the small terminal, just to the left of customs. The motion of his brother’s waving isn’t joyous or welcoming. What should have been “more routine” is chaos.

This is the initial “set up” of Richard Michaels “thriller” The Fall Of Eden. Minutes after Charles Company lands on the tiny island of St. Barts he finds out that what he wanted to get away from for a couple of weeks, his job, his home, his city, his LIFE… has vanished…wiped away by a nuclear holocaust. Science fiction? No… just science. All he knows is “somehow,” most of the northern hemisphere “disappeared,” ripped apart by the “unimaginable.” America, Russia, China, Israel, North Korea….gone. Someone fired. Let it go. Pushed the button. A secret silo’s somewhere in a field of corn opened up and one of those crazy big ass phallic doomsday machines came blasting out, shot up across the horizon, detonated, and X’d out an entire population. Retaliation followed. More atom filled monsters. More “annihilation.” Blame? Not important. The facts? Unknown. And besides… whoever sent these giant megaton mushrooms into the sky isn’t around to explain. What is known… is that Charles Company and his family can’t return, go back, and pick up where they left off. Never. “Never” is the new reality and what matters now is survival. The have’s and have not’s will soon be separated into “tribes” and these tribes will face a different kind of war. It will be simple. A bottle of water will be more valuable than a Rolex. And whoever has the will, the instinct, the skills, might last another day. Ruthless? Yea. That human dimension will help keep you going too.

“Lord of the Flies” meets “On The Beach” meets “Fail Safe” meets “The Road.” That’s how I pitched The Fall Of Eden after I optioned the book and tried to convince Bret Ratner to roll out another one of his “fourth of July” blockbusters. Maybe Jeremy Renner could play Charles Company. I tell Ratner that no amount of heroism will deflect an incoming intercontinental ballistic missile. I combine the words “ordinary” and “unbelievable” in the same sentence to try to sell the story. I tell him that when Charles first touches down in St. Bart’s he’s a middle aged, slightly chubby, (out of shape) architect. I tell him after he meets up with his brother they go straight to the Eden Rock Hotel, claim it, take it over, promise the staff, if they work with them, they can defend themselves against what surly will be, “another wave of evil cracked opened by madmen that are determined to undo civilization.” “We can use Eden Rock’s natural moat like shape as fortification.” (At this point Charles’s only option is to try to rally his “recruits” with a preacher’s resolve).
“With us or against us is what it boils down to.” I’m not sure if these are my words or Charles’s words. (I know… things are getting crisscrossed). I was channeling my pitch according to what I had seen in the movie The Player. Five minutes is all I had. I’m staring straight at Ratner, trying to get him to stare back.
“Skip to a year later”, I continued.
“You see Charles Company… Tarzan buff. His daughter Chloe, (Dakota Fanning?)… wearing nothing but body painted camouflage, holding onto something that looks like a medieval sling shot. Fourteen year old Davis, the son… covered in mud, caveman, (cave boy)…slathering grease on a palm size ball of tightly wound twigs. (Flamethrower). And finally Dana, Charles’s wife. The ‘Mother Lode’. She arrived on the island as a sculptor and part time yoga instructor. Skills that don’t exactly translate when a next door neighbor is trying to split your skull open with an ax. I blurt out to Ratner about the new “loaded” Dana. “She’s the reincarnation of Barbarella.” Ratner looks skeptical. I come up with, “think Raquel Welch in One Million BC.” “You know that bikini loin cloth?” Still not convinced. Then I hit it. “You remember the Slits?

I’ve got a minute left.
After “the cut,” the shot pans to Charles’s whole family, in a group. A portrait. The shot is framed as if the family is posing for one of those wishful Disney Xmas cards.
“But its okay” I tell him. The memory will never be posted. Never delivered. Not even pony express. “The postman’s motto will be radioactive. The swift completion of their appointed rounds will be shut down by a nuclear winter. Return to sender.” (Michaels words not mine).

A year after fighting “tooth and nails”, the dystopian ideas of JG Ballard and Philip Dick become everyday events. (And this is where the “hook” of my pitch turns movie friendly). Over a Trent Razor soundtrack, Charles’s brother walks into the shot and plants a crucifix into a hill of garbage. The hill is replant. Literally. It stinks. Flotsam. Jetsam. Beachcomb. Dumpster. Nothing goes to waste. Fifty-feet high. Jerry rigged. A steaming hill of rot that rings the outer edge of the hotel is a living maggot. The camera zooms in on the crucifix. Razor samples the opening chords of the Doors “The End” and syncs the track up with the zoom. The bubbling mass of the barrier is gurgling, burping… tripping out like an old slide show at the Dom. Charles’s brother has painted on the cross of the crucifix two words… “Charlie Company.”

I wish I could say The Fall of Eden is a beach book. A page-turner. One of those stories you ingest, speed thru, (in a couple of days, can’t wait finish)… that wines up being a king size pleasure. I wish I could say that Richard Michaels wrote some thing close to Cormac McCarthy’s, “The Road.” (Okay that’s a bit unfair. McCarthy’s, “The Road” is a single sitting masterpiece of social science fiction). But Michaels wrote a stinker. It’s bad. Not even Stephan King bad. (At least King can get you started).
I’m not a critic. I’m supposed to be some hot-shot artist. What do I know about handing out literary stars? I wanted to have as much disbelief and trauma that Charles Company was supposed to have when he got word of “buried worlds”. But I kept seeing John Travolta in Battlefield Earth. I even looked up Richard Michaels… half expecting him to be a pseudonym of L. Ron Hubbard, the scientologist).
I’ve read my fair share of fantastical futuristic speculative fiction. I like Ray Bradbury. I like Arthur C. Clarke. I like Ira Levine. H G Wells. Walter Tevis. George Orwell. I “grok” with Robert Heinlein’s ‘Space Cadet’. I even a have a killer copy of Kurt Vonnegut’s first book The Sirens of Titan, where “thinking is unforgivable” and “perfection means death”. (My copy is a mint, crisp, unopened paperback inscribed to “yours truly”, Kurt, Oct 6, 2003). I get the genre. I’m not a stranger when it comes to strange lands. But I’m not even sure I could blurb Michaels book. If I had to have added a testimonial it probably would of said something like… “If you liked Lost you’ll love The Fall of Eden.” I kept thinking of one nice thing I could say about the book. Is “stocking stuffer” nice?

Why didn’t Michaels use the arsenals in the fancy yachts as a source for weapons? (Do some research dude). Why didn’t he chapter in how maybe the small police force could of at least freaked and STARTED the murder. Richard’s version was more Car 54 Where Are You. A joke. How the cops ran for hills the day after receiving Morse Code, an SOS that no one had the brain power to interpret. Laying low above Gouverneur Beach, sneaking back to the one room hospital stealing band aides, aspirin and drugs. Come on. Really? You want to see a “crew-cut in uniform” shuffling around attached to an IV drip full of dope? What’s that AC/DC song? Back In Black? Everybody is stuck on this island FOR GOOD. I want a plane crash. I want a bonfire. I want Tangerine Dream. I want Michael Mann. I want Heat.

How long before the mini marts are emptied? Why aren’t the liquors stores the first stores to be looted and torched? Drunk. Hung-over. Redrum. If you can’t make it new, what about real? THINK! The one hardware store on the island… There should of been a pile of dead bodies blocking the door, trampled, run over… stacked up from trying to get inside to get to the last saw.

Why didn’t Michaels have the “locals” attack those cruise ships anchored out beyond the harbor for food supplies. They’re like floating neighborhoods. I mean, by the third day of the “the apocalypse”… someone should of figured out those floating towns are filled with terrified tourists still wearing Bermuda shorts waiting… waiting for what? Help? More like waiting to be thrown overboard or captured and chained and dragged back to a locked room to be hammered over the head, roasted and eaten.

Save me.

The cannibal part was never in my original pitch. I saw what happened to the film version of “The Road.” The interpretation? Spot on. The production design and sets? Brilliant. GRIM would be a one word review. REAL GRIM would be two. Unfortunately the movie put the audience in the shot gun seat and word got around. Uncomfortable. Unsettling. Unwatchable. You couldn’t help but think what if it was you that had to eat crow. It messed you up. I went to a matinee. Just me and two other customers. After the credits, you didn’t exactly emerge from that general lowering of wakefulness in the brightest of moods. By the third day the film was pulled from theaters. Dead on arrival. Poor Harvey. Viggo Mortenson and Robert Duvall and Guy Pierce should be proud though. The Road will be remembered. Sometimes Hollywood fools you.

Where was I?

Here’s a thought…
Why not have a reggae band that was booked to entertain on one of those huge Carnival cruise ships, slip away, take over the Hotel Guanahani. There’s like what? Six in the band? Some wives. A manager. A couple of roadies. It’s a crew. There’s already group trust. The Guanahani is on the north shore of the island. It’s separated. A perfect place to “reinforce.” ‘Radio Dread’ could be on the mike when they muscle out anyone who thought they had “reservations.” Rastaville.

How about twenty lesbians from one of those “theme” cruises take over the Manapany. Natalie Barney (Jessica Biel) and her whole Sappho salon. Get those girls from The Decent. Shauna MacDonald, Natalie Mendoza Saskia Mulder, Nora-Jane Noone. Cue Russ Myer. Amazonian Kill Kill.

See what I’m getting at? It’s like the whale in Moby Dick. It isn’t a REAL whale. By the end of the week each of the six major hotels on the island is defended by a different gender, nationality, social stratosphere. Men and women. Men and men. Women and women. (Did someone say “video game rights”?)

The Carl Gustav could “clubhouse” the creeps. The scary. The cutthroats. The “throwaway’s.” “Road Warrior” meets “Waterworld.” Someone like Vin Diesel could be Clown Posse. A Neanderthal . How about Quinton ‘Rampage’ Jackson as his sidekick? Craig Conway could have his own harem. The costume department could make Conway a leather vest and embroider “Last Call” on the back. Kathryn Bigelow’s “Point Break” Nazi surfers marries John Carpenter’s Snake Plisskin. Racist. Demented. Death Metal. Splice up some found footage of Darby Crash fronting Bad Brains. Don’t count your chickens. Or maybe you should. Who knows? Knowing the difference between a rooster and a chicken might save your life.

Vicious doesn’t begin to describe the “Last Call.” The tribe is savage, evil. Alpha males. I’m getting Ratner’s attention.
I tell him Jake Paltrow.
“Did you see his last film “Young Ones”?
That’s the guy you want to get this treatment to.

Ratner is listening.

The Ill de France Hotel is grandfathered. Castle Keep for the rich. “The architects of avarice.” They were already there to begin with. Checked in a week before the melt down. And don’t underestimate the rich. They didn’t get wealthy by being stupid. By day five they’ve already had elections. They’ve commandeered a number of private yachts. “Our armada”. Rookie pirates. They have plans. They’ve got flags. What they lack in imagination they make up with entitlement. Assassins in polo shirts. They surround themselves with options. Escape hatch? They don’t have one yet. But neither does Richard Michaels.

The first to check out are the twenty-four year olds. They take over houses near the soccer stadium and continue to party. That’s what they came down for anyway. No family. No affiliations. No responsibility. They know they have no future and their unwillingness to even squirrel away one nut makes them “easy pickins.” They don’t even keep a look out. Most of their throats are cut by the second week.

(An annotation I added on page 96. Jerry and Tina… fraternal twins, part of a fraternity of stoners, escape a Manson like raid and team up with “Last Call”. They’re sibling blood bond will develop into something hard to break apart and later in the story will have the only workable car on the island. The car will have a star role. Like the cars in the movies, “Bullitt”, “Vanishing Point”, “Two Lane Blacktop.” I’ve made more notes about the car but for now just go to my Instagram @Richardprince1234. There’s a gram of it. It’s green. See for yourself.

Am I writing or reviewing? Who cares. My position? I own the rights to the book. I’m not holding my breath for something like Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove. If Hollywood ever does green light this soup, they’ll probably get some hack to re-write it and steam clean the jungle with snow. Turn the equator up side down. (Special effects is Hollywood’s idea of creation).

Question Painting: When’s the last time you’ve seen a man fall to earth without makeup?
Answer: Nicolas Roeg’s David Bowie.

Little known fact.
I was the one who read John O’Brien’s “Leaving Las Vegas.” The book was being sold in one bookstore in LA. at the time it was published. The bookstore was The Vagabond. In West Hollywood. The owner, Craig Graham, stocked mostly second hand books but occasionally, near his register, he would “feature” a book from a small imprint that he liked and recommend to loyal customers. I collect first editions. I have a habit. Craig knew my habit, knew my tastes. He said, “Richard, you like Harry Crews, read this.” I didn’t see a movie in the book but I told my buddy, my pal, my dear friend Stuart Regan he should check it out and maybe see how much a year’s option would cost. He bought the rights to ‘Vegas’ for five grand and passed it along to Mike Figgis. Art imitates life. Like the character Nicholas Cage plays in the movie, John O’Brien committed suicide just before the movie’s release.

The thing about the opening chapter of The Fall Of Eden… is that I’ve had the exact same thoughts when I travel to St. Bart’s. The touch down. Every time I land on that tiny white-knuckle runway, I expect a sudden shift in reality. My in-grown fear of despair and dread take over, and my childhood memories of cold war, (duck and cover), Conlerad, (“this is a test… this only a test), fallout shelters, radiation, propaganda… the endless newsreels of hydrogen bombs lifting battleships out of the water like toothpicks… anxiety, sadness, stress, insomnia take over. I know, Henry Fuseli’s The Nightmare. It’s crazy. I even think about specific episodes of the Twilight Zone. Other dimensions. Time warps. Of course it’s make believe. It’s fiction. But is it? America dropped the bomb on Hiroshima on August 6, 1945. My birthday is on August 6th. That’s either Freewheelin’ or Land of a Thousands Dances.

What I’ve been told…
Nightmares usually begin before the age of 10 and are considered a normal part of childhood due in part to an unexplained coincidence. Or maybe they begin after seeing that famous anti-war ad… the “daisy girl”… plucking petals on an idyllic August day in New York City’s Highbridge Park for thirty seconds. (Look it up).
When you’re in the ninth grade and there’s a Cuban missile crisis… the horror story is news, not a story. That Kennedy Khrushchev stare down really put the zap on me.

Do I drink the cool aid or do I learn to rub two sticks together and brush up on the art of somersaulting a knife into the back of a human being. (Sample James Coburn in the Magnificent Seven).

I’ve had long sessions with my shrink about the end of the world and where will I be and what will I do when it happens. How will I handle a catastrophe that leaves me and my family on a lawless island. Lock and load. I don’t know. Maybe this is the best way. Maybe secure the rights to some obscure nonsense paperback that no one read… one of thousand dopey stories where the end is always “nigh”… and hire someone like Neil Marshall or Joe Carnahan or Neill Blomkamp and see if I can secretly turn the pulp into some serious popcorn.
One more thing… the title.
It has to change.
Eden Rock.
That’s box office.

Dog Eared.
Some circled, underlined, or checked words that I marked up in the Fall of Eden.
‘Rescue’. ‘Honeymooners’. ‘Retired folks’. Hysteria’. ‘Philip Wylie’. Recon’.

Other marginalia…
“Hope isn’t in society. It’s in individuals.”
I think I “starred” this sentence and turned down the corner of the page. The Fall of Eden had some of this applause but not enough. Richards didn’t really punish anyone. In the end, committing genocide is about stupidity, bigotry and greed. Someone has to pay the piper. The Fall of Eden is a ‘tired formula’. Pose a problem and then find a technical development to solve the problem. The characters in Eden are stock stereotypes. The love story mawkish. There’s no simple man or woman reaching the agonizing decision to kill their only child in its crib and commit suicide after, as the rest of the world evaporates around them. I know this is a nag but most Americans fear communism more than the bomb. This is what Richards fails to realize. I keep thinking about Uranium 235. I think about Wilco’s ‘Solid Tape Technology’. I think about Power Possession, caves, savages and body parts used to decorate mantles. I think about Aldous Huxley’s Ape and Essence. Judith Merril’s story “Only A Mother”. I think about the movie The Day The Earth Stood Still based on a Harry Bates story Farewell to the Master and how the movie tried to turn the story into social ethics.

Mostly I think about March 1, 1954 the Bravo H-bomb test near the Marshall Islands and how the test fatally contaminated sailors aboard a Japanese fishing vessel known as the Lucky Dragon. It Happened.
Sailors. Died. Fishing.
Sounds like a hiku.
There are no hiku’s in The Fall of Eden.

I’ve always thought the definition of art is the discovery of the coke bottle and what the coke bottle is doing in Nevil Shute’s “On The Beach”. (If you want pass the acid test, Google Nuclear Holocausts: Atomic War In Fiction by Paul Brians). After you google you tell me. Or for that matter tell Michael Richards.

Comic Con.

I would never want to go on a book tour promoting The Fall Of Eden. I get the jeebs just thinking about having to sit behind a folding table and Hancocking my name to a line of expectant fans. The smell of the magic marker. The eye contact. The hoping for some kind of intimacy… which for me as an artist who spends the majority of his time alone in a room is unimaginable, scary, draining. “I’m sorry, how do you spell your name again?”
I have this macabre vision of a Jewish Rabbi walking backwards up an escalator. I remember seeing this vision in Spirits of the Dead, in an episode titled Toby Dammit, directed by Frederico Fellini loosely based on Edgar Allan Poe’s ‘Never Bet The Devil Your Head’. “Ambition above the ordinary.” There’s nothing ambitious about The Fall of Eden. That’s why Richard Michaels is going to have to go out and sign the book himself.

The Cliff Notes:

“Become a sniper. Take aim. Hold your breath. Kill people without remorse.

“We began living at the mercy of the wind.”

“My military buddies are dead. So are all of your friends. Everyone back at school? All dead. Or about to die. Real soon… Everyone you ever knew, except us.”

The Fall Of Eden, The Berkley Publishing Group, published by the Penguin Group.
By Richard Michaels
On the lower left of colophon after the ISBN number it says: 1. Family vacations---Fiction. 2. Caribbean Area---Fiction. 3. Terrorism----United States---Fiction.
On the cover of the book, under an illustration of a man running out of a jungle towards a beach its says… “The end of the world is just beginning…” On the back cover above the same illustration, only smaller, its says,
“Imagine a world without technology, without governments without civilization. A world in which you must fight for EVERYTHING.

On page 306, the second to the last page it says, “People need to die so that we can keep living.”

I picked up the Fall Of Eden in an airport kiosk six years ago. I read what was on page 307, (the last page), before I paid for the book.

This “review” was supposed to appear this June in the NYT’s Book Review. Yesterday I heard from the editor. She wrote in an email, “this is a six page piece of writing. It is not clear to me how you expected this to be photographed for the Book Review. Obviously, we cannot have you review a book that you wrote yourself. How could we unveil a book that has already been in wide distribution since 2009?”

Red Flags.



Original Patent for perforated toilet paper.

Seth Wheeler’s original patent for his perforated toilet paper invention was issued in 1891.
Apparently Wheeler, even back then, knew people would be prone to using to much paper in the john.
“In carrying out my invention the sheets of paper are only partially separated, having their points of attachment arranged in a novel manner, whereby each sheet will easily separate from the series as it is drawn from the roll, there being no litter occasioned, and any waste of paper is thereby prevented”, he wrote in the patent.
Wheeler’s toilet paper was 4.5 inches wide.

Musician says Universal Music has hijacked his YouTube videos with bogus copyright claims. reports on the story of Norwegian musician Bjorn Lynne, who says that UMG has twice taken over the ads on You Tube clips of his music by falsely claiming copyright violations.
His most recent example involves the video for a tune called “Kingdom of the Persians”, from his soundtrack for the Seven Kingdoms video game.
Unfortunately, it looks like UMG took the step of putting that audiobook recording into the You Tube Content-ID system. When the copyright bots matched up Lynne’s recording to the background music of the audiobook, he received an automated copyright notice saying that ads would be placed on his video and that Universal would get the money.

Lynne says he can understand the confusion arising from the automated system. However, when he filed a written dispute with You Tube about the claim, he was ultimately told that UMG had determined they were the rightful holders of the copyright and that the “ads will stay.”

“The only reasonable thing to do here, for me, says Lynne, would be to hire a top lawyer to go after them legally. But realistically, it’s like $350 per hour for a lawyer and a 3-hour minimum for a case, so I’m looking at over $1,000 just to get something started.

The Original Pancake House was founded in Portland Oregon in 1953 by Les Highet and Erma Hueneke. Drawing upon their many years of experience in the culinary field, and their extensive working knowledge of authentic national and ethnic pancake recipes they were able to offer without compromise this unique and original menu which has gained national acclaim. The Original Pancake House is a second and third generation family business, which takes pride in maintaining the high standards that make food outstanding. They have over one hundred franchises from coast to coast. Only the finest ingredients are used. A 93 score butter. Pure 36% whipping cream, fresh grade AA eggs, hard wheat unbleached flour, and their own recipe sourdough starter. Batters and sauces are made fresh in each restaurant’s kitchen.

In 2010 I made a book called Betty Kline. I combined photos of the pin up queen Betty Page and the Ab-Ex’er Franz Kline. I had known about Betty Page for years and had always been a huge fan of Franz Kline. I knew the whole back story of Betty Page… how in the early fifties she hooked up with Irving Klaw and his sister and how the three of them produced bondage photographs which they sold thru a mail order company which Klaw had established to peddle “smutt”. I knew Klaw’s studio was located across the street from Kline’s studio on 14th St. This was 1952. I wrote in the introduction of the book how Franz and Betty were an item. How Franz got his inspiration from the graphics of Betty’s bondage photos. I wrote about the inspiration as “the real story.” How instead of inner turmoil and psychological angst, abstract expression was about sex. The juxtaposition of Page’s photos and Kline’s paintings made a convincing argument. I remember when I first told this story to a curator at DIA back in 1992, she got so mad at me, she walked out of my studio and called me an idiot. I think mostly, she was frustrated. Like her whole theory base idea of what art history was suppose to be was suddenly fractured. A melt down. Her walls came tumbling down. Her mind split open. She was confused to, because "my telling" was serious. I told it like she should of known about what I was saying without me saying it. "You mean you don't know this about Betty and Franz"? I believed what I was saying was true. I told the story with a straight face.



I lived at 438 East 12th between 1st and Ave. A in a tiny rent controlled “railroad” apartment… the kind with the tub in the kitchen.
I worked at Time-Life. I had just left my job working in the Time-Life employee’s bookstore and got a job working in one of their other departments called “copy processing.” One day a week. The day was actually a night. A graveyard shift, starting at six pm and ending the next morning at six am. Twelve hours. A super shift.
Copy processing was a boring, mindless job. I can’t even begin to describe how stupid it was except to say that the job required me to send endlessly corrected stories to the different magazines the stories were written for. The corrections had something to do with fitting the copy into the margin. I think they called it “justifying” the copy. These stories came off a Teletype machine, in carbon triplicates, and I had to separate the carbons from the typescripts and shove the “scripts” up pneumatic tubes where they would get sucked away to another floor, another room, in another part of the building. What would take seconds now took hours back in ‘82-‘84. The job was labor, repetitive. There were no decisions involved. There was a lot of down time. Sometimes copy wouldn’t show up for hours. These hours gave me plenty of time for other things. My things. I had been working for Time-Life for seven years in different departments and in those seven years I came to see the building as a giant dystopian novel. The building was open seven days a week, 24 hours a day. It had a cafeteria, small apartments for sleepovers, a post office, it’s own hospital, a gym, clothing stores on the mezzanine. The building was connected to an underground passageway that connected to more passageways that connected to Rockefeller Center. If you wanted to, you could spend a lifetime never having to go outside.

In 1982 Time-Life published seven magazines.
Every Monday, People and Time magazines would come out. When I got to work I’d pour thru them looking for a new Marlboro Ad. This would make my dead-end job seem less dead. Looking thru a brand new magazine has always excited me. I’m not sure why. Being next to someone else’s world is the best way I can describe it. It was especially exciting back then because I was “tearing” the “cowboys” and the expectations of finding a good one, one that I could use… added to the excitement. I was re-photographing the ads with color slide film and sending the slides off to a to a lab in Kansas, waiting a couple of days to get a roll of 36 “transparencies” back in the mail. After the wait, I’d spread them out on my light box and sit and shuffle them around and try to pick out the “good one.” (Opening up a new box of “developed” slides was the best part of what was next).
So 1982-84.
The Cowboys.

I was also taking two hour breaks from midnight to two am and walking from the Time-Life building into Times Square and make believing I was in the middle of the movie ‘The Sweet Smell of Success’. This “make believe” turned into “The Entertainers.” A series of eleven photographs based on the visual “stuff” that came out of hanging around Times Square. Times Square was a different place back in ‘83. I’ve written about the experience in my book Why I Go To The Movies Alone in 1983. I got involved in trying to make a photograph not from a magazine but from an environment. The Entertainers were eleven “head shots” of actors and actresses trying to make it in show business. They were mostly people whose biggest accomplishment would have been to appear on the Joe Franklin show. I was interested in people who changed their names and even came up with new ways of spelling the name they changed the name to. I made these portraits with “graphics” that came straight out of Times Square. The razzmatazz. All the noise and dazzle that was meant to attract attention. I tried to make a photograph that looked like it was impossible to make. Like it had been “sent away” for. I schooled myself in getting to know how to transfer images into direct positives and how to put an image on acetate. I also became pretty good at “re-touching”… a photographic term I associated with being a professional and something that “art directors” would do to a photograph after it was handed in and needed to be “fixed”. I presented The Entertainers in large 4X8’ Plexiglas black boxes that tried to mimic some of the “displays” I had seen outside of adult theaters. The off and on light bulbs… the neon… “the special effects.” It was all in the box. I leaned the boxes up against the wall, putting them on a small 5” “stage” that I built on the floor so they would have a little lift. The small stage gave them just enough independence from where the crease of the floor and wall came together. I showed the Entertainers once in Valencia and again in ‘92 at my Whitney retrospective.
So 1982-84.
The Entertainers.

I also had no gallery. I had been with Metro Pictures and had two shows with them but not much happened. I showed my early re-photographs first. Three Women Looking To The Left. One Man Looking In Three Different Directions. Man’s Hand With Cigarette. Four Pens. Some watches, jewelry and a pocketbook. I also showed a piece called Untitled, (Men and Women. Men and Men. Women and Women). All the photographs had been originally torn from advertisements that I’d been collecting from 1977 to ‘79 when I worked in a department called “tear sheets” at Time-Life. The second show at Metro was called “Sunsets” (1981). Eleven photographs that also came from advertisements that ended up looking like science fiction. (Not my original intention). I had been selecting ads that used the colors red and yellow. Not sure why. Pattern recognition. The photos were post apocalyptic. (Again, not my intention). One Sunset sold. Or maybe I traded it. I don’t know. I only know, because I saw it in Lena Dunham’s film Tiny Furniture on the wall of Carroll Dunham and Laurie Simmons loft. (Carroll and Laurie and I were friends and Carroll also worked at Time-Life).
Where was I?

No gallery.
In 1983 I photographed Spiritual America. I wanted this photograph to be my third show at Metro. They had just moved from Mercer St. to a new huge space on Greene St. When I told them my idea… one photo… (I don’t think I showed them the photo)… they passed and it was time for me to leave.
I really thought Spiritual America WAS photography.
I opened up my own gallery to show the photograph. 5 Rivington Street… even lower Manhattan. I called the gallery Spiritual America and hired a woman to beard the place.
Spiritual America.

This is maybe why “Fashion” is being shown for the first time at Joe Nahmad’s gallery. I’ve always worked on several bodies of work at the same time. Some get shown, some don’t. I think I showed one Fashion out in L.A. with Richard Kulenschmidt in ’84. But I can’t remember the details. Richard had a gallery in his apartment. He showed Louise Lawler. I think he showed Cindy Sherman, Barbara Kruger, James Casebere. I know he showed James Welling. Richard had no money. And no one bought anything he showed. I had maybe three shows with Richard and it’s where I met Larry Johnson. Richard disappeared into the real estate world. I know when I last showed with him in 1984, I showed Untitled, (Woman In Compact), an image that was part of the Fashion but didn’t get into the gang. The Compact was a unique version, 60X40,” and it ended up in Jeff Ayeroff’s living room. Jeff worked at Warner Bros. Records. Pretty high up. He signed Madonna. Prince. The Ramones. The Talking Heads. Television. Jonathan Richman. Eno. The B 52’s. We became friends and he gave me access to the publicity files at Warner Bros. I would spend hours in the basement going thru all the publicity pics of all the bands that were signed to Warner Bros. All the 8X10’ glossies that the bands would pose for. Jeff said, “take as many as you want, we’ve got plenty.”
Jeff’s Untitled (Woman With Compact) ended up on the cover of Hal Foster’s first book, The Anti-Aesthetic, Essays on Postmodern Culture. The book was popular and went thru many printings. I’m not sure why, but Hal took my photograph off the cover and replaced it with a photo by Sherrie Levine. Politics. The art police. Who knows? He didn’t like Spiritual America and the fallout it created and the complications the image “imagined”. It was an uncomfortable photograph. I don’t think he wanted to be associated with an image of a girl who looked like a woman. I can’t blame him. Who did? I lost a lot of friends over that photo. I think he should have replaced my Untitled (Woman With Compact) with Stieglitz’s own Spiritual America. That would have been cool.

It was always my position, when I re-photographed an image from a magazine with color slide film… it was the slide, “the chrome,” that was the work of art. Since the slide is a negative AND a “positive,” you can hold it up to the light a see what you took. You didn’t necessarily have to make a print of the slide and especially make one if you couldn’t afford to make one. Overhead. All you needed was the slide.

I started organizing my slides according to subject matter and things that looked the same. I wasn’t interested in repetition. I wasn’t interested in mechanical. I wasn’t interested in industrial. I wasn’t interested in new. I was interested in “again.”

I was also interested in agreement. Agreement took some of the subjectivity out of the equation and introduced the possibility of fact. I wanted to tell the truth. And if I couldn’t, I wanted to try. I had grown up during the cold war. Suspicion, distrust, Spy Vs. Spy. I didn’t believe in much. And I didn’t trust in much either. Truth or Consequences. To Tell The Truth. Who Do You Trust. What’s My Line. You Bet Your Life. Game shows. That’s what I grew up with.

The nine “fashion” images look like this because that’s the way they should look. I organized the nine slides on my light box and kind of “d’jayed them around until I hit the right balance. All the images had something to do with “covering” and when I finally found the right rhythm, I taped the slides together with scotch tape and sent them to my lab. I hate to get technical, but I had already known if I taped the slides… using the slide mounts as a place to attach the tape to, I could get at least nine slides to fit on an 8X10” inter-negative and then have that inter-negative blown up onto one piece of photo paper. The process was called “ganging” together. It was a common way of archiving your work… putting together many images on one piece of paper and putting that piece of paper in a folder, a book, a place where you could remind yourself of what you had done.

(By the end of ’84 I would change what I was looking at because of this way of working. It was seamless. Having nine images in one frame was like having a whole show. I re-photographed images that I wouldn’t necessarily think about because I could put them in one frame and not have to hang them individually on a wall and take up a lot of gallery space. I’m not sure if you follow… but I don’t think I would of re-photographed biker chicks, heavy metal bands, monster trucks, criminals and celebrities, big wave surfing, muscle cars, war pictures, cartoons, and sexually explicit text if it hadn’t been for “the gang”).

In 1982-84, the lab that I was working with had just gotten in a 50” drum that could process a new type of ektacolor photo paper that was 50” wide. (A lab in Dusseldorf would soon get the same drum. I would meet Thomas Ruff soon after and we’d trade and I would get one of his king size portraits). The paper came in a roll. A LARGE roll. I suppose if you wanted to, you could make a photograph 100 feet long. The width was the only limitation. I asked my lab, “what about taking my “gang” of nine slides and blowing them up on this new paper.” “How big would each image be… given the limitation of the width?” The lab tried it and each image came out to around 11X13”, pretty close to the original size of the image I was looking at before I tore it out of the magazine. The space between each image on the gang was the space created by the slide mount. So far so good. Back in 1982-84 I didn’t want excitement and I didn’t want to be exciting. I wanted to be solid. As far as I can remember the “fashion” image was the first gang. The height of the gang hadn’t been decided on, so I just cut the photo roll with a pair of scissors. (Beginning in 1984 all the of “gangs” would be 48X86”). When I walked into Joe’s gallery and saw the Fashion gang, I had forgotten that I had written on it. “Annotated”. Annotation is associated with book collecting and I’m a book collector so there was a nice association between the surprise and what I collected. I also remember that “straight” photographers would mark their contact sheets with grease pencil. Using a red grease pencil to mark a choice. I think “greasing” up the Fashion gang was another way of using what was a “photographic given.” By 1982-84 I was taking advantage of a bunch of terms that were “ordinary” to most photographers. “Retouching” was something I was trying out. Trying to X-out the flaws, the hairs, the dust, the mistakes, “the imperfections”… were all part of the fashion process. I was doing what they were doing. It sounds artificial, but I didn’t want to make anything up.
I even thought about “the edition.”
I knew most photographers paid little attention to photography’s “natural ability” to reproduce. When it came to editioning a print, most photographers “open ended” their edition. They put no limits on the number of prints they made. They made a copy when someone asked for a copy. A good example is George Tice Petit’s Mobil Station Cherry Hill N.J. 1974, from his Patterson New Jersey series. It’s maybe Tice’s best-known photograph. I went to the Witkin Gallery in the early nineties wanting to buy a copy and they said, “fine… we’ll tell him to go ahead and print one. He prints on demand. And he prints in different sizes according to what’s demanded.” I got copy number 256. A small one. That was like twenty years ago. I still have it hanging in my studio. I’m not sure if he knew or anybody cares to know, but there’s a 1970-71 ‘Cuda parked in front of the gas station.

I stepped back.
I wanted to make my photographs more into objects, so I decided to make editions of two with one artist’s proof. And if I made any prints big, they would be unique.
I think edition’s of two is a mind blower.
It works. It’s the perfect number. Not unique but almost.

I don’t know where the big fashions went. For all my “considerations” I didn’t keep track of the who what and where’s that happened after I showed my work. It’s not like in 1982-84 I had a lot to keep track of.
The individual ‘fashions’ from the gang were printed in ‘84 and I know one of them wound up in a girlfriend’s apartment. The one with the comb. I know, because I gave it to her. I know too, because before she hung “the comb”, there was a Basquiat on the wall which I asked her to take down and put in the closet.

There are other photographs that belong with the Fashions. For a while I referred to them as “generic” photographs. As I said before, I got pretty good at re-touching and I would take a picture of a guy drinking a soda and get rid of the name on the soda can. This “getting rid of” made everything “even.” I took a box of cereal with a rabbit on it and got rid of any reference to the brand. I took the smiley face on the pitcher of Kool-Aid and got rid of the Kool-Aid. I took hair products and blacked out any reference of how to re-color your hair. I took a box of condoms and left only the logo. (Ramb). I took a Ralph Lauren bottle of perfume and focused on the graphic of the polo player. This is 1982-84. Ralph Lauren. Perfume. Polo Player. An artist friend said to me when he saw this image in the back room of Joe’s… “what the fuck?”
Good question.
I think “what the fuck” is a good answer.
It’s kind of like asking Bob Dylan why he wrote “Clothes Line Saga”.

I remember ‘82,‘84 everybody painting. At least that’s what everybody seemed to be doing. I wanted to paint too. But I didn’t have anything to paint. (That wouldn’t come until later. It wouldn’t be until ‘86 that I finally found something to paint… jokes).

In ‘82-‘84 re-photographing a perfume bottle that was designed by Ralph Lauren with a guy riding a horse swinging a polo mallet wasn’t art. Both the process and subject matter wasn’t art. But the process and subject was a good marriage. It made sense and it turned what wasn’t into what would become.

In 1984 I got a job working for Mademoiselle. My girlfriend was the art director. (Same girl I gave the comb to.) It was a “secret” job. She didn’t tell the heads of Mademoiselle what I was doing. What I was doing was picking the photograph that would appear on the cover. Once a month I would get a thousand slides of the same model taken by someone like Albert Watson and pick one out that I thought would look good on the cover. I did nine covers. I was with the girlfriend for nine months. It was the best job I ever had. At the end of December ‘84 I had a nervous breakdown, quit working for Time-Life, and moved to Venice Beach Calif. I stopped looking at People, Fortune, Sports Illustrated, Time, Harpers Bazaar, Vogue, Marie Clare, Redbook and Town and Country and started to look at ‘In The Wind.’ I was finally on my own. Hanging out at those giant outdoor magazine racks that took up half the boulevard across from Canter’s on Las Cienega. Buying Guns And Ammo, H




There's something in the air about "lurid" paperback covers.


David Hockney's "Going To Be A Queen For A Night", 1960.

Off the top of my head...
The Gunfighter.
The Professionals.
No Country For Old Men.
The Last Picture Show.
High Noon.
3:10 To Yuma.

Covering Pollock...
Featuring Kate Moss, Sid Vicious, Mercedes Matter, Lee Krasner, and Candy Barr as Ruth Kligman. With music by Lothar and The Hand People, Kiss, and Moe Tucker.


New Portraits.

In 1984 I took some portraits.
The way I did it was different. The way had nothing to do with the tradition of portraiture.
If you wanted me to do your portrait, you would give me at least five photographs that had already been taken of yourself, that were in your possession, (you owned them, they were yours), and more importantly… you were already happy with.
You give me the five you liked and I would pick the one I liked. I would re-photograph the one I liked and that would be your portrait. Simple. Direct. To the point…


I started off doing friends. Peter Nadin. Anne Kennedy. Jeff Koons. Cookie Mueller. Gary Indiana. Colin DeLand.
They didn’t have to sit for their portrait. They didn’t have to make an appointment and come over and sit in front of some cyclone or in front a neutral background or on an artists stool. They didn’t have to show up at all. And they wouldn’t be disappointed with the result. How could they? It wasn’t like they were giving me photos of themselves that were embarrassing.

Social Science Fiction.

Another advantage was the “time-line.” If you were in your sixties and you gave me a photograph that had been taken thirty years earlier, and that’s the one I chose, your portrait ended up in a kind of time machine. I couldn’t go forward, but I could go backwards. Vanity. Most of the people I did liked the younger version of themselves. So the future didn’t really matter. Half of H.G. Wells was better than no half at all.

Who knew?

After friends, I did people I didn’t know.
I had access to Warner Brother Records and their publicity files. The files were filled with 8 x 10 glossies of recording stars that they had under contract. How I had access is beside the point. It was a long time ago. Let’s just say an A&R guy gave me access, “permission.”
I spent time in their LA headquarters, Burbank, and went thru the metal cabinets and took the “publicities” I wanted, took them home, put them in front of my camera and made a new photograph. The first one I did was Dee Dee Ramone.
I did Tina Weymouth, Tom Verlaine, Jonathan Richman, Laurie Anderson. I did the two girls from the B-52’s.
Not knowing these people, having never met them, or talked to them, but still being able to do their portrait, excited me. Satisfaction. I spent weeks in the basement of Warner Bros. I thought I had an advantage. My method, if you could call it that, was far more flexible than the regular way portraits were taken. I didn’t need a studio. A darkroom. A receptionist. A calendar. Make-up. Stylists. I didn’t have to deal with agents or the “personality,” good or bad, of the sitter. My overhead was minimal and I could do the portrait all by myself.

By myself. That was the best.

Why I Go To The Movies Alone.

At first I thought this could be a business.
Up till then none of the art that I was making sold… or sold enough to make a living. I had just quit my job at Time-Life the year before and was trying to make a go of it living near Venice Beach in LA… sharing a house with three roommates and living off the occasional sales that Hudson, my friend from Chicago, would make selling my “cartoon” drawings.
This idea of a “portrait business” made sense to me. Who wouldn’t want their portrait done this way?
I continued to do friends. Paula Grief. Dike Blair. Myer Viceman. I did everybody’s portrait for Wild History, a book that I put together for Tanam Press of downtown writing. The author’s portrait accompanied their contribution. Warton Tiers. Spaulding Grey. Tina L’Hostky.
By the end of ‘84 it was over.
I’m not sure if it was the lack of interest in me, or others. (My energy evaporated). Maybe it was the inability to convince people to commit to a commission. It was a good idea but after doing about forty of them I put them in a draw and moved on. Bored? Restless? I don’t know. Let’s just say it didn’t take off.

Leave it at that.

My cartoon drawings turned into jokes and the jokes started taking up everything. In the end, I think most people would rather have their portrait done by Robert Mapplethorpe.

Thirty Years. Time passes.

The social network.

I looked over my daughter’s shoulder and saw that she was scrolling thru pictures on her phone. I asked her what she was looking at. “It’s my Tumbler.” “What’s a Tumbler,” I asked.
That was… four years ago?
About three years ago I bought an iPhone. Someone had shown me the photographs you could take with the phone. I had given up taking pictures after they got rid of color slide film. I tried digital but couldn’t make the adjustment. I never liked carrying a camera and was pretty much ink jetting and painting anyway… so the idea of using a big boxy camera with all its new whistles and bows wasn’t for me.

Enter the sandman.

The iPhone was just what I needed. I couldn’t believe how easy it was to point and shoot. You didn’t have to focus. You didn’t have to load film. You didn’t have to ASA. You didn’t have to set a speed. The clarity...

I could see for miles.

The photos you took were stored in the phone. And when you wanted to see them they appeared on a grid. The best part, you could send a photo immediately to a friend, to an e-mail, to a printer… or, you could organize your photos, like my daughter had, and post them publicly or privately.

When worlds collide.

I asked my daughter more about Tumbler. Are those your photos? Where did you get that one? Did you need permission? How did you get that kind of crop? You can delete them? Really? What about these “followers.” Who are they? Are they people you know? What if you don’t want to share? How many of your friends have tumblers?

What’s yours is mine.

My daughter’s “grid” on Tumbler reminded me of my “Gangs” I did back in ’85… where I organized a set of nine images on a single piece of photo paper and blew the paper up to 86 x 48”. The gangs were a way to deal with marginal or subsets of lifestyles that I needed to see on a wall but not a whole wall. Each gang was it’s own exhibition. Girlfriends, Heavy Metal Bands, Giant waves, Big Foot Trucks, Sex, War, Cartoons, Lyrics… were all re-photographed with slide film and when the slides returned they were “d-jay’d” and moved around on a custom made light box until the best nine made the cut. The “cut” was then tapped together, (the edges of the slide mounts were pushed up against each other and scotched taped), the nine taped slides were sent to a lab where an 8 x 10 inter-negative was made, and from the inter-negative the final photo was blown up. I’ve probably lost you. Technical stuff… application and technique. Sometimes it’s better to leave the “background” out of it. Better to “take it for granted.” Why should I care how a photograph is made?

Only sometimes.

How was it called back then? Sampling?

Primitive now, but back then… a fifty inch photo drum was few and far between. The paper was 50 inches wide and came in a huge roll. If you wanted to, you could take a roll and roll it down the street, roll it down the sidewalk, roll it all the way down the West Side Highway.

Shakespeare’s in the alley?
No. Philip Roth is in the alley.
Joan Didion is in the alley.
Don Delillo is in the alley.

What’s up pussycat?

There’s a lot of cats on Instagram. Food too.

And there’s tons of photos of people who take photographs of themselves. (Yes I know the word).

On the gram. I was just asked why do I like Instagram. I said, “Because there’s rules. And if you break the rules, you get kicked off.”

I got to Instagram thru Twitter.
Twitter first.
I’m not sure when I first started tweeting, but I liked trying to fit a whole story into 140 characters.
I call it Birdtalk.
I use to Bird in the early nineties for Purple Magazine and birded in my first catalogue for Barbara Gladstone in ’87.
Short sentences that were funny, sweet, dumb, profound, absurd, stupid, jokey, Finnegan’s Wake meets Mad Magazine meets ad copy for Calvin Kline. Think Dylan’s Tarantula. Then think some more and think Kathy Acker’s Tarantula.
Or, don’t think at all. I know I don’t.


Sometimes I write down the first sentence that starts off my favorite novel.

Relative. I’m not much of a theory guy. But sometimes I think there was a reason why Einstein was a technical assistant in the Swiss Patent Office.

Let me fill your cup.

Twitter accepts photos but is mainly text based. I like to combine the two and tweet both photo and text.

I called the photo/texts tweets I was posting… “The Family”.
I posted photos of my extended family… mother, brother, sister, nieces, cousins, uncles, aunts, in-laws, step children, boy and girlfriends. I would caption the photos with a short description of who, what, why… measuring my words so that they fit into the guidelines of the platform.
After posting the photo/text, I sent the information to my printer and ink jetted an 11 x 14” print of the marriage. I made thirty-eight “Family” tweets.


I placed each Family Tweet in a plastic sleeve and push-pinned the sleeve to the wall. The wall was at Karma. I put all 38 up. Salon style. It was Saturday. The doors opened at 12. By 12:15pm all 37 were gone. One to a customer. I kept the one that had my father, mother, and sister in it. (My father and mother were naked, and my sister was sitting in between. My family wasn’t like yours. Hobnob doesn’t begin to describe them). I sold the “family tweets” for $12 each. First come, first serve.

Well, well, well…
In ma ma ma my wheeeeeeeel house.
I use to stutter. By the ninth grade, the sparkle was in my eye. It got so bad the impediment turned me into a clam. I slept all day, everyday. I wouldn’t get up until Sunday. I waited for Bonanza to come on the TV. I loved the cowboy father and his three sons.

Two summers ago my niece was working for me out on Long Island and she showed me how to screen save. I didn‘t know about the option. What other options don’t I know about?

Screen Save.
This might be one of the best applications in an apparatus that I’ve ever encountered. All time. Hall of fame. First place. Just what I need. MORE photographs.

Pressing the two buttons on the phone and hearing the device grind its gears to make an exposure made me nervous. What did Harry Lyme say in the movie The Third Man? “In three centuries of civilization what have the Swiss contributed to culture? The Cuckoo Clock.”

Hey kids… what time is it?

Now I have a theory.

I was beside myself.

This past Spring, and half the Summer, the iPhone became my studio. I signed up for Instagram. I pushed things aside. I made room. It was easy. I ignored Tumbler, and Facebook had never interested me. But Instagram…

I started off being RichardPrince4.
I quickly recognized the device was a way to get the lead out. If Twitter was editorial… then Instagram was advertising.

A gazzilion people.

Besides cats, dogs, and food, people put out photos of themselves and their friends all the time, everyday, and yes, some people put themselves out twice on Monday’s. I started “following” people I knew, people I didn’t know and people who knew each other. It was innocent. I was on the phone talking to Jessica Hart and had just looked at her “gram” feed before picking up the phone. I asked about a picture she posted of herself standing in front of a fireplace wearing what looked to be ski clothes and big fur boots. The post was in black and white, head to toe, full figure and behind her, above the mantle, there was a portrait of Bridget Bardot. I told her someone should make a portrait out this photo. She said, “why don’t you?”

Come to think of it.

I’m not sure if she knew about my Family Tweets. She might of. I think we even talked about them after she came to my studio for a visit. After I got off the phone I thought about her suggestion “why don’t you.”

I went back to her feed and screen saved her “winter” photo. I sent the save to my computer, pressed “empty subject”, pressed “actual size” and waited for it to appear in a doc, checked the margins and crop, clicked on the doc and sent it to my printer. My ink jet printer printed out an 11 x 14 inch photo on paper… I took the photo out of the tray and put it on my desk.

Looking at Jessica’s feed reminded me of 1984. Except this time I had more than five photos to choose from. I went back to her feed a second time. I scrolled thru maybe a hundred photos she had posted and looked at all the ones that included her. The one in front of the fireplace was still the best.

Walk on.

Jessica had tons of followers. Thousands. And a lot of them had “commented” on what she posted. I read all the comments that had been posted under her fireplace photo. There was one comment I wish I could of gotten in my original screen save. When you screen save an Instagram image you can get maybe three, four comments in the save if you include the persons “profile” icon that appears on the upper left of the page. I decided early on I wanted the persons icon to be part of the save. But what else could I save?

I went back to my desk and kept starring at the print out of Jessica. What do I do now?

I didn’t want to paint it.
I didn’t want to mark it.
I didn’t want to add a sticker.
Whatever I did, I wanted it to happen INSIDE and before the save. I wanted my contribution to be part of the “gram.” I didn’t want to do anything physical to the photograph after it was printed.

Five cents.

I went back to the comment.
I commented on the Jessica’s photo in front of the fireplace but my comment was one of hundreds and showed up outside, way down at the bottom… out of the frame.
If I wanted my comment to show up near her picture…how?

I got lucky.

I’m terrible when it comes to the tech side of technology. But somehow I figured out how hack into Jessica’s feed and swipe away all her comments and add my own so that it would appear under her post. The hack is pretty simple and anyone can do it. You hit the grey comment bar and pick a comment you don’t want and swipe with you finger to the left and a red exclamation mark appears. You press on the exclamation mark and four things come onto the bottom of your screen.
1. Why are you reporting this comment?
2. Spam or Scam
3. Abusive Content
4. Cancel

To get rid of the comment you click on Spam or Scam. It’s gone. Just like that I could control other peoples comments and Jessica’s own comments. And the comment that I added could now be near enough Jessica’s photo that when I screen saved it, my comment would “show up”. Make sense? It’s about as good as I can do. What can I say? Einstein and cuckoo...

So now...

So now I was in.

Waiting to follow.

Richardprince4 would appear at the bottom of Jessica’s final portrait. My comment, whatever it would be, would always be the last comment. The last say so. Say so. That’s good. That could work. My “in” was what I ended up saying. And what I would say would be everything I ever knew… what I knew now and what I would know in the future.

Tell Me Everything.

Finnegan’s Wake meets Mad Magazine.

Zoot Horn Rollo. You seem to be where I belong. (emoji).

The first three portraits I did were of women I knew. Or almost knew. Jessica, I knew. Pam Anderson, I knew. Sky Ferreira? I didn’t know, but was following her and had been reading about her new album and seeing posters of her album broadsided on sheets of ply on the Bowery and on Lafayette near Bond. I wasn’t sure what I was doing or why I chose these three. I just had lunch with Pam and had seen Jessica in LA. Sky I was following because she seemed interesting. There was nothing more. No attraction. No fan. No desire. No date. No wanting anything from her. And the pictures she posted were candid, boozy and seemed to be letting the viewer in on some kind of backstage diary. She also had thousands of people following her and I could tap into her followers and follow them. I can do that? I didn’t even know I could follow the followers. Like I said, the hardware was all new… and I was just getting started.

The shoreline is never the same. (Like it should be).

When I first started getting rid of comments I thought the person who’s comments I was getting rid of might get pissed. “What happen to all my comments?” I found out quickly that “the getting rid of” only affected my feed. The deleted comments didn’t affect the followers feed. Their comments were still there even though they were gone from mine. All that happened is that MY comment showed up below their photo. Was I allowed? Yes. I guess so. It’s hard to explain. But the process is open, and at the moment, it’s the way it works and anyone and everyone can do it.

The language I started using to make “comments” was based on Birdtalk. Non-sequitur. Gobblygook. Jokes. Oxymorons. “Psychic Jujitsu”.
Some of the language came directly from TV. If I’m selecting a photo of someone and adding a comment to their gram and an advertisement comes on… I use the language that I hear in the ad. Inferior language. It works. It sounds like it means something. What’s it mean? I don’t know. Does it have to mean anything at all? I think about James Joyce confessing to Nora Barnacle. I think about opening up to page three hundred and twenty-three of Finnegan’s Wake. Then I think about notes and lyricism. Policy. Whisper. Murmurs. Mantra. Quotation. Advice.
Chamber Music.
Didn’t Duke Ellington say, “If it sounds good, it is good.” He did say that, didn’t he?

Who are these people?

Larry Clark, Diane Arbus, Robert Mapplethorpe take great portraits. I’ve watched Larry take photos and I don’t know how he does it. I wouldn’t know where to begin. I could never go up to a stranger and ask them if I could take their picture. I’ve done it maybe two or three times and didn’t enjoy it. That part of art is in Larry. It isn’t in me. I feel more comfortable in my bedroom looking thru Easy Rider and pouring over pictures of “girlfriends” that are right there on the page. Page after page. Looking. Wondering. Anticipating. Hoping. What will be on the next page? Will I find a girlfriend that I really like? That’s my relationship with what’s out there. It’s as close as I want to get. That’s what’s in me.

IG is a bedroom magazine.

I can start out with someone I know and then check out who they follow or who’s following them, and the rabbit hole takes on an outer body experience where you suddenly look at the clock and it’s three in the morning. I end of up on people’s grids that are so far removed from where I began, it feels psychedelic. Further. I’m on the bus. I feel like I’m part of Kesey’s merry tribe. I’m reminded of Timothy Leary’s journals which I purchased years ago from John McWhinnie and the concentration that came over me when I discovered his hand drawn map of his escape from jail. How he literally shimmied on a wire that had been strung up from an outer utility building to the perimeter prison wall… and how I would trace with my finger his overland express to Tangier, where he hooked up with Black Panther Eldridge Cleaver and spent the next year seeking asylum in different parts of North Africa, ultimately ending up Switzerland where his ex-wife ratted him out and how fighting extradition, took up the rest of his life). Wow, now it’s four in the morning.

Tune In, Turn On, Come Out.


If you say so.

I never thought about it that way. The word has been used to describe part of the process of making my new portraits. I guess so. It’s not like I’m on the back of a boat throwing out chum.

"We're going to need a bigger boat."


Everyone is fair.


An even playing field.

“Outside my cabin door. Said the girl from the red river shore.”

Men. Women. Men and women. Men and men. Women and women. Blacks Whites Latinos Asian Arabs Jews Straights Gays Transgender. Tatoos and scars. Hairy.

I don’t really know the score.

The ones I adore.

I just know where I belong.

“Oh, there I go. From a man to a memory.”

How do I tell you who or why I pick. I can’t. It would be like telling you why do I pick that joke. WHY THAT ONE? There’s thousands of jokes. I read them all. It takes days to read just one joke book. 101 Of The World’s Funniest Jokes. Days. If I get one, find one, like one, out of the 101, it’s a good day.

People on IG lead me to other people. I spend hours surfing, saving, and deleting. Sometime I look for photos that are straight forward portraits. (Or at least look straight forward). Other times I look for photos that would only appear, or better still… exist on IG. Photos that look the way they do because they’re on the gram. Selfies? Not really. Self portraits. I’m not interested in abbreviation. I look for portraits that are upside down, sideways, at arms length, taken within the space that a body can hold a camera phone. What did DeKooning say? “When I spread my arms out, it’s all the space I need.”

At first I wasn’t sure how to print the portrait. I tired different surfaces, different papers. Presentation? Frame? Matt? Shadowbox? I tried them all. Finally this past spring my lab introduced me to a new canvas, one that was tightly wound, a surface with hardly any tooth. Smooth to the touch. Almost as if the canvas was photo paper. It was also brilliantly white. I don’t think it could be any whiter. And… the way the ink jetted into the canvas was a surprise. It fused in a way that made the image slightly out of focus. Just enough. The ink was IN and ON the canvas at the same time. When I first saw the final result I didn’t really know what I was looking at. A photographic work or a work on canvas? The surprise was perfect. Perfect doesn’t come along very often. The color that had been transferred from the file of the commuter to the jet, from jet to canvas, was intense, saturated, rich. If someone I followed had blue hair, their hair looked like it had been dyed directly onto the canvas. Dye job. Rinsed. Beauty salon. It was brilliant, great color. You might call it “vibrant”. The vibe between the image and the process was “sent a way for”, seamless, effortless… all descriptions I use to use when I tried describing my early “pens, watches and cowboys.” (Has it really been 40 years?) The ingredients, the recipe, “the manufacture,” whatever you want to call it… was familiar but had changed into something I had never seen before. I wasn’t sure it even looked like art. And that was the best part. Not looking like art. The new portraits were in that gray area. Undefined. In-between. They had no history, no past, no name. A life of their own. They’ll learn. They’ll find their own way. I have no responsibility. They do. Friendly monsters.

Speak for yourself.

To fit in the world takes time.

For now, all I can say is… they’re the only thing I’ve ever done that has made me happy.


New Figures

My parents were waiting for me when my plane landed in Boston. It was Jan. 1969. And I had just flown in from London after living in Europe for six months.
They had to wait an extra hour and half because after I came off the plane I was escorted by Customs and taken into a room and stripped searched for drugs. The authorities were convinced I had hash or peyote or some kind of illegal substance because my passport had a Moroccan stamp. Yes I’d been to Tangier’s. So what? I went there to track down Paul Bowles. Sheltering Sky was in my backpack. Rite of passage. When I arrived in Boston, I had long hair, a sheepskin coat from Copenhagen and crushed purple velvet pants that were slightly flared at the bottom that I bought on Carnaby Steet. I had beads made out of dried coffee beans around my neck. The cuffs of my shirt were extended all the way to the ends of my fingers. The fabric was thin, almost see-thru and had a pattern sewn in black that looked like Sanskrit. Like I said, “London”. I’d seen the play Hair, and the movies “If” and “Wonder Wall”. I was carrying the Beatles “White Album” and The Doors “Waiting For The Sun”. I’m not sure what I looked liked… or what my look suggested to the authorities. Are you experienced? Whatever it was, it was something they weren’t familiar with.
They made me bend over and spread my ass. My cheeks and cavity were empty. The search surprised me. I wasn’t prepared. I was trying to think… “did I have any drugs on me”?

Midnight Express.

I was sweating. Breathing fast. Hyperventilating. I was freaked. I didn’t have the consciousness, the foresight, the “wear with all”… to tell them to “fuck off and die.”

“Take a hike.”

I wish I had been outraged, but I wasn’t. Refused? Resisted? Demanded a lawyer? Nope. Blindsided. Rights? What rights? What did I know about rights? I took the invasion like a sissy. They bullied me. They humiliated me. They invaded my ass. Gloved fingers went up my hole. Rubber gloves spiked my sphinx. I wish a drool of shit had shit out on his rented uniform. But nothing shit. Blank rectum. They found nothing and let me go.

Back in the USSR.

The Pope Smokes Dope.

I was pretty shook up. The experience left me “radicalized.” I’m not sure what the word meant at the time, except the word was attached to The Stooges, The MC5 and John Sinclair and that’s what I wanted to be attached to. Rebellion. Up Against The Wall. The Other Side. Kick Out The Jams.


That’s for sure.

I knew I didn’t want anything to do with the shit the government was selling American citizens. I associated government with liars, cheats and criminals looking to skim off other people’s hard earned sweat. This of course coming from the informed philosophy of an experienced eighteen year old. Big deal right? Life of the party. Short end of the stick. What did I know? Nothing plenty.

Richard Nixon, Spiro Agnew, scumbags. John Mitchell? Scumbag. Richard Colson hypocrite. John Dean pussy. People in government didn’t make anything. People in government didn’t create anything. People in government hid behind religion and called you a commie rat bastard. Billy fucking Graham. Roy fucking Cohen. Red Menace. Witch hunts. Hush money. Secret tapes. Deepthroat. Executive privilege. Third rate burglaries. Smoking guns and pardons. Clandestine. People in government were there because of a popularity contest.

Abe Lincoln woke up from a five day drunk and said, “I freed who?”

Volunteer’s For America?
Not so fast.

I needed something I could trust.
I needed beauty.
I wanted beauty.
I made up my mind.

I returned to Southern Maine, to Nasson College, for the second half of my sophomore year. Nasson College was a “hippie” school. A bad version of Antioch. Full of freaks and heads who couldn’t get in anywhere else. The last train to Clarkesville.
There was a section of the college that had coed living and didn’t hand out grades. Progressive. Liberal. Freeform. An expensive commune. You could, if you wanted… sleep for four years.
You could go to the pool all day and swim. The breast stroke. The butterfly. The swan dive. Our valedictorian was a lifeguard.

I stopped listening to my parents. I stopped listening to my mother. “Fuck my mother.” She’d ruin my life up till then. At least let me take over and ruin it on my own.

I meant to say to my mother, “please pass the butter.” But it came out… well, you know how it came out…

I didn’t want to be a Bachelor of Fine Arts.

I walked over to a little “carriage” house that had the words “art studio” carved over its door. I walked in and as soon as I crossed the threshold I knew I was home. Hansel and Greta. It was a small two-story building just on the edge of the campus. I’m not sure anybody knew it was even there. It would be my home for the next two and half years.
The teacher who ran the place was George Mason. A big hairy guy dressed in white shirt and jeans and work boots. He had a flock of untamed black curly hair. He was starting to loose a little of it, around the temples. He had a big bushy mustache too. It covered half his mouth. He had a paunch that sagged over his belt. I’m not sure I can describe what I felt that first day but maybe feeling happy and good and some kind of love could begin to explain the experience.

Open sesame.

George did his schooling in Kansas. Kansas City Art Institute.
George would be my mentor and only “art” teacher. He would show me, guide me, tell me things about art… things that I would hear for the first time. I was raw, ignorant, and knew next to nothing about art history.
An open book.
I wanted. I was ready. I was greedy.
My purpose, if you could call it that, was sealed.
I landed.
The promised land? Maybe. I didn’t care what you called it. I woke up. I got tapped on the shoulder… “hey buddy, yea you… this way”. I’d been submerged into the waters of a new religion. Baptized. Praise the Lord. Art saves.

“When you wish upon a star.”
No, not from Disney’s Pinocchio…
From the funky Shinning Star lyric by Earth Wind & Fire.

I would become George’s star pupil.

No stoned unturned.

Land Ho.

George dug my “god given” talent to draw. I had almost forgotten about it until those museum sketches I had started to do in Europe, when I was round robing and “Louving”. Spending afternoons in front of Rubens, Corot, Manet, Delacroix, Langetti, Giordana, Ingres, the weirdness of Henry Fuseli, and the really old… Pontormo. Endless halls, football fields of walls, hanging floor to ceiling, salons, forgotten fill, donations, gifts, the second rate, having to concentrate, graduate, getting away from the shellac and glaze and the boated frames, finding a room of Kees van Dongen, a room of Ensor, Alfred Stevens, Irving Wiles, an alcove with a single Sir William Orpen, trying to figure out the meat in the hip, the folds in the stomach, how to render the extra chub of a Thomas Eakins charcoal with a stick of conte crayon on Bristol. All I had to do was stare at Redon’s pastel “Nude with a Blue Scarf, circa 1900 and I knew everything was going to be okay. Sometimes I would divert, diversion, faint, switch to an object. Deciding Roman Imperial marble, 1st , 2nd century was keen. It was brilliant really. Pat myself. Surround. Carved. Dipping. Sometimes photo the marble and copy the shadows just like when Picasso went Rose. And just like that, another turn, a quick skip jump. The Gardner. Boston. Near the Fenway. Sargent’s ‘Sleeping Peter Harrison’… I would look at that and wonder… how in the world?

What did I want? I wanted… encyclopedia.

Hand Jive.

I showed George some sketch book pages of Cezanne’s “bathers” I had done in Paris. Copies I did at the Je Du Pomme. Showed him some thoughts on Degas and Vuillard. Muddy thoughts. Showed him a chalk head after Watteau I did at the National in London. Promises. It was all homework. Home school. George said, after he looked, “welcome to the club.” It wasn’t bombs bursting in air but it wasn’t hot air either.

He started me off with a table, a chair, and my own window. The first thing he said to me…” don’t waste time trying to be a “maestro.” “And don’t finish anything either”. He walked away and came back about ten minutes later and said, “And another thing…”

“Experiment. Wrong turns, accidents, limitations, all good. Do things you can’t. Technique, style? There’s plenty of time."

A primer.

“You have no audience.
No one is watching you.
You can get away with anything.
Pretty much…
The important thing… you have no responsibilities.”

Not bad for the first day.


Far fucking out.

The other students felt right to me. There was something about their physicality that made sense and made me comfortable. They way they combed their hair. The clothes they had on. Belts cinched an extra notch. The cuffs of their pants above the ankle. Sleeveless dresses. An extra shirt tied at the waist. Hats that never came off, inside or out. The way they said hello. Lifted their eyes and blinked. Most of them behind glasses.

Buddy Holly.

I blended.
If I were falling in love you might call it “smitten.” I was falling in love.


We worked in all kinds of mediums and subjects at the studio but the one that stood out the most was working with the figure.

Drawing class. Twice a week.
A model came to the studio, usually in the evening and we’d sit around and draw either him or her. Sometimes there were two figures. Him and her. And it wasn’t just students. Older, working artists came and joined. Coughed up the five or six dollars we’d each give to the model after it was over.
“The kitty.”
After drawing for two hours we’d show each other what we drew and talk about our drawings. Someone would bring beer. After a session it would turn into a private party. I couldn’t get enough of figure class. To draw the human form was foundation. Starting from scratch. George would say everything starts with drawing the figure. He would say this to anyone who would listen. “You can make any kind of art you want, but if you can’t draw the figure… if you don’t have that line…the scale and weight…you’ll never get any of the rest right”.

Any of the rest.

I believed it. And I liked the discipline. The promise of a man. I learned to switch hit. The ability to take a piece of paper and pencil and draw from life. Rock of ages. It was the thing that connected me to Plato’s cave. All the way back. Rock on rock.

Giant luck.

A big part of George was his house and the art that he had hanging in his house.
The house was a revelation.
Inspired. Vision. Truth. Supernatural. Filled with an inner voice and human knowledge. If that sounds biblical, (something not before realized)… all I can say… early days of rollicking and new living translation.

Plain English?
No moral sermons.
No ethical ideas.

To go over and spend time in George’s house and see real art on the wall made me crazy. Faint of heart. Hiccup. Dizzy Dean. I felt like I was falling with angels. Cold sweat. The notes from some long forgotten cover of the Dells “Crystal Persuasion” kept clogging my ears. The palms of my hands, paper towels, drama. I was leaking all over the place. I don’t know else to describe it. I’d never been in a house with a real painting by a famous artist. I’m not even sure if I knew if it was possible.

Take me to the pilot.

A real Picasso etching? A watercolor by Matisse and lithographs by Kathe Kollwitz? Is that a Muybridge photograph? George Bellows. Milton Avery. John Marin. Fairfield Porter. A charcoal study by Charles Burchfield? On the fresh. It was the first time I was introduced to the painting of Walt Kuhn and Romaine Brooks. Crazy rabbit!

Can I go to your bedroom?

One of George’s teachers was William Bailey. Bailey taught at Yale. But before that he taught in Kansas City, at the University. George had these beautiful figure drawings of Bailey’s. They were made with a 4-H pencil on hot press d’arche paper. The forms of the figures were delicately cross-hatched, a way of drawing that went back to Durer. They were exquisite, and I would, for a time, ape Bailey’s technique and replicate the centuries old style of preparation and study.

George’s library was filled with monographs. His favorite artists. Henri Laurens. Marisol. Giacometti. The American Impressionist Mary Cassatt. I’d go in, park and get lost. Americans, George Bellows and Reginald Marsh. Europeans, George Rouault and Jules Pascin. There were stacks. Overflow. Piled on the floor. On the window sill. I had always wanted to spend time in room like this. Sheltered. Away. Suspended. Leaving time alone. Unaccounted for. A fireplace and a waxy brown club chair you could comfortably curl up in and look and read in for a century. Howdy Doody Time!

George’s wife Stella was French Canadian. She was dark and soft, a stunner, and supportive of all things creative. She made pottery. She was George’s wife but she was also George’s muse. She was sensual, smart, sophisticated. They just had a second child, a boy, Ethan… and her breasts were huge from nursing. She was a dead ringer for Anna Magnani. She was behind George all the way. She was the gate-keeper of George’s world. She ran the house. She kept things in line. She use to say to me, “Listen to me. No drugs on my property. You smoke, drop, or inject… look for another house. See that sign over the door? Stay clear. Stay away. Stay out.”
Her territory was clean.
No rabbit holes in her yard.

Pay attention.
“You want to hang?
At my house?”

Invitation. Privilege. Reward. Blessed.
Before I turned up their driveway and got out the car, I left any and all recreation in my glove compartment.

77 Sunset Strip.

The Mason’s weren’t part of contemporary culture. They weren’t beatniks or hippies. They weren’t square, hip, they weren’t, sail on sailor. They listened to Burl Ives, Theodore Bikel, Tom Paxton, Phil Ochs. They gave each other haircuts. Wet clothes drying on a clothe’s line. (Clothes line saga). They had their own scene. Face down in the ocean. You couldn’t reach them with favors and pies. Alphabet anonymity. No screams. A line-up entirely devoid of headquarters. Alphabet-soup naming strategies. Underperformed.

Their interests and rules had nothing to do with what was going on in magazines, movies or TV. Friends, relatives, family… that’s where they were at. Art was what consumed them, what they lived for. Never played out. Spun away. Intimate. Cozy. C’mon. They would even listen. I certify that I’m 21 years of age. Club Adam rules. Recent letter and frank photo welcome. First name basis. Shit yea. Can I come in?

Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.
Lights the traveller in the dark.

Bright and tiny sparks.
I joined.
The Masons became my new family.
If it started anywhere, it started with the Masons in
North Berwick Maine. 1969.


James Joyce Farts.

I would like to thank Sylvia Beach, Nora Barnacle, Margaret Anderson, Jean Heap, Elsa Von Freytag-Loringhorven, and Harriet Shaw Weaver who made it possible for James Joyce's Ulysses to be published.


Lets clear something up. I don't LOVE breasts. I LIKE breasts. What I LOVE is pussy. I love pussy so much, if it was air-conditioned I'd live in it.


It’s a free concert.

I can’t remember the girl’s name. She was big. Taller than me and solidly built. Like a Robert Crumb cartoon. She had extra long light brown hair that went down to the small of her back. She was beautiful. She looked like a hippie. She looked like what a hippie should look like. Poster girl for hippie girl.
I was focused on trying to get her to like me and forgot about where we were going and what we were going for.
We hit traffic, twenty-five miles outside of the festival site. Four in the morning. Saugerties? I didn’t know where the fuck we were. The highway was suddenly filled with cars and all the cars seemed to be going to one place. Unbelievable. Crazy. Dead stop. It would take another ten hours to go the last twelve miles.
We finally turned off the highway and found ourselves in the middle of a forest filled with birch trees. It was at the end of someone’s field. We wanted the trip to end. We got out of the car and called it quits. As good a place as any. We weren’t alone.

Pasture, cows, a pond, and a sea of green.

We settled in.
We had brought a tent and sleeping bags. I’m not sure why we brought it, but thank god for the tent. It was Friday afternoon. It started raining and would continue to rain off and on all weekend. After we pitched the tent we took a nap. This was our first time together. It was awkward. We didn’t know each other. Hadn’t even gone to a movie. We were supposed to hook up with friends and expected the company to take some of the absence of not knowing who we were away. We fooled around. We fumbled with each other. We acted like we were being secretly chaperoned.
We tried. We stopped. We were tired. We had plenty of time. We had two and half days to go. We shared a tab of acid and went looking for the concert.


We were a ten minute walk away from the back of the stage. There was chain link fence that had been trampled and laying on the ground. It had been put there to mark what was in and what was out. Now it was on the ground. There was no in or out. There was nothing. No entrance, no one taking tickets. We stepped over the fence and we were in. In what? I noticed hundreds of tickets on the ground. No pushing. No shoving. No waiting. Welcome to the garden.
For some reason I didn’t throw my ticket down on the ground. I kept it. I’m not sure why. Memorabilia? Who knows? Proof? I was years away from that kind of collecting. I put the stub in my wallet and kept walking. We were about to enter a field of revolution. We had no idea what we were getting ourselves into. We walked past the stage and started to go up an incline that was shaped like half a megaphone. The higher we climbed the wider the phone. The bowl was sculpture. A half-pipe. Liftoff. When we got to the top of the sculpture we were about a quarter mile away from the stage. Everywhere you looked there were people. It wasn’t like the people were an audience. It was more like they were pilgrims. Tribes. “As far as the eye could see.” So many people. For one thing. The same purpose. The half tab of acid started to kick in. It was six o’clock. Friday evening. Everything started to feel free.


Richie Havens was playing. He kept walking off stage and returning. It wasn’t like an encore… he just kept coming and going singing “Freedom”. Strumming. Furiously. His left thumb pressed down on the strings, chording his open tuning. I think he was freaked out about the sheer size of the crowd. He couldn’t believe what he was seeing. I heard later whoever was suppose to go on second wasn’t ready, so the promoters kept telling him to keep it up. “Don’t let the song go.”


Around seven-thirty that evening I took the only photograph that I would take all weekend. I had borrowed my mother’s camera and there was only one exposure left on a roll of color slide film. THE LAST EXPOSURE. Number thirty-six. I figured I could buy film in town after I arrived. It hadn’t occurred to me that once I got to the concert they’d be no way to leave. It had taken so long to get there, I wasn’t going to try to find a near-by town with a store… maybe… and risk never getting back. Not worth it. The acid in my head was telling me to get back to the top of the slide.

So this is a rock concert.

We had no idea.
I once went to a folk festival in Rhode Island. (Light years away). The “no idea” would continue for the next couple of days but I think we figured out pretty quickly we hit the mother lode.

The definition of "motherlode"... an alignment of hard-rock.

Having one exposure left in my mother’s camera was going to drive me crazy. For the rest of the weekend I was going try to take the perfect picture. And what if I couldn’t? What if I wasted it? Good one, bad one. Did I even want to try? What if I saved it and waited till the weekend was over? I told myself there would be no great fantastic out of this world moment. No gold rush. No yellow fever. I decided to let it go. The sun had just gone down and some lights on the scaffolding near the stage had come on. I remembered what Bob Rauschenberg had once told an interviewer about being in a room of abstract paintings by Ad Reinhardt, and after being asked which one he liked… he spun himself around and stopped and randomly pointed to one after he stopped… and said, “that one.”
So that’s what I did.
I stood up and started spinning. Like a dervish. I whirled around and stopped and clicked. I wouldn’t see what I took for another couple of weeks. My mother took the roll of film to the drugstore and when the slides came back she gave me the chrome. I put the chrome in the slide projector and took a look. In those days the slides were squares. What was projected was an image of girl standing in what appeared to be an “artist’s pose.” There was a sea of bodies around her. The lights on the scaffolding were in the distance. If you looked closely there was a run-a-way balloon in the sky. It was all there. All that I hoped for. And all I needed. Summation. Without thinking, without effort, without craft and knowing what I was doing, I took my one and only photograph of Woodstock. I got lucky.
Like the saved ticket, I put the slide away for “safe keeping” in my wallet.
It stayed there for the next fifteen years.

The big girl and I goofed off a lot. We stayed in our tent and went swimming in a pond and ate the sandwiches my mother gave us just before we took off. I’m not even sure if we went back the concert on Saturday. It rained all day. We missed Sly And The Family Stone. We missed The Who and Crosby Stills and Nash. We might of spent part of Saturday at the concert but I can’t remember. We saw Santana. A group we were both unaware of. But that might have been Friday night. We saw Alvin Lee and Ten Years After. We probably saw them on Saturday but I can’t be certain. Saturday was a blur. I know we spent part of the day looking for my car. And I know we shared some mushrooms with another couple who were camping next to us. To tell you the truth, I don’t think we ever thought about being in a place or being part of an experience that later, would come to define a generation.

Sunday cleared up.

The clouds broke and sun came out. The afternoon was warm and everything wet, didn’t matter. All our clothes were soaked, and our feet were caked with mud. But the feeling of the sun finally hitting us felt wonderfully warm. The warm started to dry and clear our heads and we finally relaxed and enjoyed what was happening around us. Sex with the Big Girl finally happened that morning. We’d been naked, skinny dipping in the pond, but being naked, next to her, holding her, and lying up against her flesh this way, was better than splashing and swimming.
Way better.
To say the least.

Wavy Gravy.

We could hear Country Joe And the Fish coming in from over the fields. IN COMING. "And it's one two three four what are we fighting for? Don’t ask me I don't give a damn. Next stop is Vietnam. Whopee we're all gonna die".
We put our clothes on and made it just in time for Joe Cocker. “With a little help from my friends.” Joe Cocker and the Grease Band. Knocked our socks off. Loved his body spazzing out. Having a fit. Epileptic. The guy could belt it out.
This was around twelve one o’clock. I remember the time. Just before Cocker went on, one of the stage managers read from the front page of the N.Y. Times. The headline: “A small city has suddenly formed in the middle of upstate New York. A small peaceful city.”

After Joe, it was time to go…

We had to leave. I promised my boss I’d be back by Sunday. We were clear of the festival and out on 87 south, around three. We’d be back on the Cape around ten. Normal Sunday traffic.

Purple Haze

We never got to see Jimi Hendrix. That’s why I went. To see Jimi. That’s why I bought the tickets in the first place. It was all for him. Another thing we didn’t see were our friends. Never found them. We thought we’d just meet up… rendezvous. See you in the parking lot. (Lots of luck). Never expected a migration. A nomadic movement. A pilgrimage.
We heard later, Hendrix played Monday morning. Woke the crowd up with the star-spangle banner. Guess the people who stayed didn’t make any promises.

I would see and hear Hendrix play “the banner” a year later when the film came out. With the rest of the population.

Times didn’t change just because the song said they had.

I never saw the Big Girl again.
After I dropped her off, I heard her father wanted my head on a platter. I’d assumed she asked her parents permission to go, but I was wrong. She didn’t tell them anything. Where she was going. Who she was going with. Not a word. I think her Dad thought the worst. APB. “All Points Bulletin.” I can’t blame him for wanting me locked up.
We were strangers.
It was our first date.
We went way out.
We got to see what never had been seen.

Figuring out new figures.

I once went out on a date with the girl who played Laura Palmer in Twin Peaks. She could have been anyone to me.

Tell me more.

In 2004 I made an edition of my Woodstock photograph for Parkett Magazine. And this past winter I ink jetted the cover of a Woodstock “brochure” that was illustrated with a field of daisy’s and the words that we had all gone for… “3 days of peace & music.” I jetted the brochure in six parts, separating each part so each part got one word of the title. I showed the painting in Bregenz this past summer. The show was work that had been done in the last six years. The show was called “It’s A Free Concert.” The edition and six-part painting focused my attention on my own history. Things that I was involved with personally, either as a participant, or as a witness. Up till then, I always presented my history as if I’d had none. I would tell a story, that even though the story was true, it sounded like it wasn’t. It didn’t matter if you believed me or not. True or false? Not important. What was? Being asked. Because in the end I can’t tell you anything.

What was it Mr. Jimi once said?
“Now if you’ll excuse me, I must be on my way….”



Surf and Turf.

While playing golf today, I hit two good balls. I stepped on a rake.

“You got to be kidding me?
You what?
You play fucking golf?
For Christ sake… you’re not serious…
What are you, a fucking dweeb?
I thought only fucking shitheads and wasps played golf.
Fucking Republican assholes…”

And that’s just from my wife!

The last thing an artist should do (or admit to) is that they play golf.

The game has always been associated with white shoes, white belts, white people.
It certainly isn’t hip, fashionable, or totally “rad,” like surfing.
Surfing and art.
Bosom buddies.
Hand In Hand.
No apologies.
Posers and wannabes… step into the liquid.

I’m the Dude.

Tennis? I don’t know anything about tennis.
Poker? More than okay.
Pick-up basketball? Check.
Playing the ponies? Perfect.
Pool or billiards? Up there with surfing.
Boxing? I don’t know any artists who box, but if they do, it could only elevate and help tell their story.
Even bowling has slacker cred, now that “The Big Lebowski” has it’s own convention and legions of fans wearing pajamas and hairnets.

Hey Zeus.

Spoiling the mood.

But golf …
Who the fuck plays golf?
I don’t think Richard Serra is bending a sand iron or shaping a 56-degree wedge out of a hazard.
That would be something though, wouldn’t it?
Richard cold-cocking a five hybrid from 215 into the wind for a tap-in greenie?


So here’s the deal.
If you’ve ever seen Jimmy Caan in “The Gambler” you’ll know what I mean…
Golf is about money. (And I don’t mean how much it costs to play.)
Golf is handicapped and one of the only “games” that’s specifically “made-up” to bet on.
When you play golf you wager and try to beat the pants off your opponent and get as much out of his or her wallet as you can take.
That’s it. That’s what makes golf different. That’s what makes golf good. That’s what makes it a hacker’s dream.

Bet the farm.


Definition? In a word? Deception.
Deliberately playing below one’s actual ability in order to fool an opponent into accepting higher stakes and consequently have a better chance of winning more money.

I can play the best golfer in the world and “get strokes” and still have a chance…

Heads up.
Match Play.

You play eighteen holes and whoever wins the most holes, wins the match.
I can play a duffer. I can play a pro.
Triple A? No. You don’t need a rating. You need a handicap.
You got a handicap, your good to go.
I might loose a couple of holes, but in the end, I’ll win the rest. I’ll be dormie with one hole to play and come to the 18th needing only to tie to win.
Count on it.

Have I lost you yet?

Two from Cool Hand Luke:
“What we have here is a failure to communicate.”
“Bubba Lou, we got a bet here.”

A friendly wager.

The way it works is simple.
Say if I play John Daley… I’ll ask him for twenty strokes. Each of the eighteen holes on any course is rated in terms of difficulty. If I’m getting a stroke on the first hole and I par the hole and Daley pars the hole, I win because he’s giving me a stroke. (My four turns into a net three and his four stays a four, and I’m off to the races.)
If none of this translates, don’t worry. Trust me. Everybody who plays golf… bets.

The Party Line.

“Sunny Side Up.”
That’s the image.
Sponsored by Cadillac.
Brought to you by Met Life and Snoopy II.
Goody Two Shoes.
The Colgate Smile.
Dopey Bermuda shorts. And alligator shirts.

That’s the tale.
And then there’s the flip.
The other side of the coin.

For “heads,” its drugs, juice (narcotics) and prescription pain killers.
What did you think? It’s a professional sport. Injuries. The club head speed alone. Rips your back apart. “Squeaky Clean”… a concoction of oxy and hydromorphone helps get you to the first tee. Like any other sport… there’s a shelf life.

The Slits.
Or is it Patsy Kline singing “Crazy?”

I would love to go to the Dinah Shore Invitational. Palms Spring Desert. It’s a same-sex “sex fest.” Bring along Natalie Barney, Djuna Barnes, and Renee Vivien. Get Romaine Brooks to do Dinah’s portrait.

Side bets.

On any given weekend, there are only twenty pros in the mix. Those who barely made the cut are betting their ass’s off after they’ve fallen off the leader board and have no chance of finishing in the top ten.

“Bad day at the course,” a guy tells his wife. “Charlie had a heart attack on the third hole.” “That’s terrible!” says the wife. “You’re telling me,” the husband replies. “All day long, it was, hit the ball, drag Charlie.”

John Daley sells t-shirts across the street from the Masters when he can’t qualify for the green jacket. That morning he played a sucker with only a seven iron in his bag. Played the entire 18 with only one club. Capture the flag. A hustle he learned from Lee Trevino, “The Merry Mex,” a hall of famer, who grew up with peanuts and honed his game on public links and parking lots. Trevino was like a card shark that trolls for whales in Atlantic City. Back to back British Open titles. Once played an entire round with an iron turned around. Hit the ball with the BACK of his club. What can I say? Over easy.

“You can make a lot of money playing golf. Just ask my ex-wives. Both of them are so rich, neither of their husbands work.”

I’ve known semi-pros who don’t have the game for the PGA tour, don’t give a shit about trophies and “first place” and make a pretty good living choking down on a five iron and stealing the socks off of hot shot Sunday golf addicts, luring and landing them with five a side…

Bread And Butter.

I’ve known caddies who agree to putt with their drivers, and milk the Benjamin’s out of their members who they’re suppose to be caddying for.

“I’d give up golf if I didn’t have so many sweaters.” Bob Hope

Will golf ever be cool?
Ask my wife… please…

Or ask Iggy Pop.
Played all his life.
Pop is a “scratch” player.
Scratch meaning, he shoots par.
Scratch meaning his handicap is zero.
Scratch meaning he can get up and down nine times out of ten from a greenside bunker.
Scratch meaning he can worm burn a three iron, keeping it under the wind, adding another twenty yards to the carry.
Scratch meaning he carries a heaven wood to carve up a dogleg left, eliminating a good fifty yards from tee to green.
Scratch meaning, he wants you to be his dog.

Why I Go To The Movies Alone should answer the question.

When I was fifteen I got into some trouble and a judge and my parents decided, rather then reform, they would send me to caddy camp.

Fucking caddy camp.

True story.
This was back in 1964.
My parents let me off at the Hyannis Port Golf club in late June and didn’t pick me up until after Labor Day.
I had no idea what I was in for.
I’m not sure if they have caddie camps anymore but back in the sixties it was a place for teenage boys who were…
ONE: In trouble with the law, nothing serious… minor offences… shoplifting, stealing a car, joyriding.
TWO: Kids who really wanted to play golf, so when they weren’t caddying they would play after all the members left for the day, in the evening, when the course was empty.
THREE: Mentally unstable idiots who didn’t fit in, were social outcasts, picked on, withdrawn, loners, listened to The Fugs and couldn’t wait to hit sixteen so they could drop out, tune in, and turn on.

I was in the first category. Minor Mishap. I didn’t know my ass from my elbow…

I didn’t know that I would be living in a tent with seven other boys somewhere out in the back nine, in an area that was hidden from the fairways and greens, that looked like the “set” in the TV show Mash.


There were five other tents, eight kids to a tent, a mess hall, a rec room, a small courtyard anchored with a flag pole surrounded by small rocks and one more tent where the “councilors” lived.

The best way to describe the living conditions, the “environment” at the caddie camp?
Lord of The Flies.

I won’t go into details, but you can imagine what happens when eight teenage boys, who have never met, are suddenly thrown together into 75 square feet, (tented together with canvas and floorboards), and are immediately hammered by military style rules and regulations, lectured and drilled, like we we’re plebes or private recruits who were just drafted into an army that we wanted no part of.
Heart Of Darkness?

Save the last dance.

One of the first things we were required to do was make sure our “quarters” were shipshape. Beds perfectly made. Contents of our lockers stored and neatly organized. Latrines spotless. Once a week everyone pulled latrine duty. You had to be gang masked to survive the smell, the stench, the waft, the ass wipe, the paper trail. Dip-shit potty training.

Battle of the bands.

The first night there was a group grope, and we circled jerked and saved all our jizz, about a half a cup’s worth… went out to the 15th hole in the middle of the night, removed the flag and poured the contents of the cup into the bottom of the “tin cup.”
Some kind of half-ass fraternity pledge.
The next day, the first golfer to drain his putt on 15 was in for a sticky surprise.

The morning after, we were awakened at six, (revelry) and told to assemble, shoulder to shoulder.
Old glory was run up the pole and after a lazy salute, were informed by “the general”… this broken down old fat face man, “head honcho,” the wheeler dealer who ran the camp… that every one of us had to make twenty dollars a week to pay for room and board. Twenty Dollars!
Twenty doesn’t sound much today, but back in ‘64, to a teenager, it’s a windfall.

Fast Food Franchise.

Turns out “the fat face general,” ran several of these camps on Cape Cod. All the “tony” courses had them. From Dennisport to Truro. Carpetbagger.
He was cozy with Joe Kennedy.
The Presidents father.
Joe was a bootlegger back in the day. Ran rum up and down “the cod.”
Under the table.
All cash.
The fat face general and Irish Joe.
Takes one to know one.

Aside from the kids who there to jump start their golf skills, and saw the summer season as an “opportunity,” the majority of us didn’t know “From Adam” about the game. And even less how to carry a bag of golf clubs and tell its owner… “ah… its playing 135 into the wind… I think it’s a hard eight or a soft nine.”

Shit from Shinola.

But I’m a fast learner when it comes to making money.

The Hyannis Port Golf Club was part of the Kennedy compound. The course was private and gated and guarded. This was right after President Kennedy was killed and his brother Bobby and Teddy and his widow Jackie were staying off and on in a gigantic Cape Cod mansion along with their broods and guests. Frank Sinatra and Mia Farrow were lovey-dovey on a yacht anchored just off shore. Frank and Mia were having a “torrid” affair until Mia cut off all her hair to play the lead in Roman Polanski’s, “Rosemary’s Baby.” Frank dumped her after getting a look at her new bob, remarking to one of his cronies… “She looks like a little boy.”

No crossing the chairman of the board, even if he does wear a toupee.

I didn’t know I was in the middle of the aftermath of Camelot.

The fist thing I did was saddle up to the caddie master. He was the guy who assigned the loops. A loop is eighteen holes. You start out carrying one bag, but after a week if you can deal with the weight and strain and the lost balls… you graduate to two bags… one on each shoulder, doubling your “take” and “tips” at the end of each round.


I got up to speed pretty fast.

I kicked back some of my earnings to the “master” to get the premium “loops.”
Graft and payoffs were part of life lessons.

Part and parcel.

On the dot.

The best loop went out every Saturday morning at 6:45.
It was called the Blue Boy loop.
One of the guys in the loop dressed in blue. Powdered blue. The outfit was fly. The guy had style. Tapered pants. Fitted shirt. Custom shoes. No hat. Thin gold chain around his neck. He a lot of blonde “waxen” hair piled high on his head. He never said a word. Later I would learn the guy they called Blue Boy, turned out to be Rutger Hauer and would eventually star in the movie “Blade Runner.”

I caddied for all four in the foursome.
Blue Boy and his partner walked.
I carried their bags.
The other two in the group took a cart.
Two bags in the cart. I had to make sure the two in the cart were clubbed too.
The only reason why you could caddie for a foursome, alone, was… they were “straight shooters.” Center cut. Right down middle. (You didn’t need a second, a backup, a scout). They’re combined handicaps? Five. Never any slices, hooks or shanks. Never had to waste time and find a ball. If anything, first cut of the rough. Pars and birdies were the norm. They were fast. Under four hours for the round. I was back at the clubhouse by late morning. Meaning? I could go back out for a second loop. (More money). The Blue Boy loop netted me seven dollars times four plus an extra fiver from each of the “boys.” A gratuity. Again, not much these days, but back then… a score, a payday.

Crystal Clear.

A couple of things I remember about being inside the moat.

ONE: Caddying for Jackie Kennedy.
She seemed to be depressed and never got past the seventh hole. She wasn’t into it. She was going thru the moves. Killing time. She always went out alone. I’m not even sure her bag had more than six clubs in it. She was like Blue Boy. Never said a word. Her expression never changed. Frozen. She was somewhere else. She didn’t carry money, so her round would be settled in the pro shop. She’d be long gone by the time I got to the cashier.

TWO: Caddying for Frank Malzone. Third baseman for the Boston Red Sox.

THREE: Giving candy to John John Kennedy and his sister Caroline who weren’t even kids yet. They were always hanging around the clubhouse. Built-in babysitting. There was always some secret service dude hanging around, keeping an eye on them, talking into his lapel.

FOUR: Getting back from carrying bags all day… walking about a mile back from the “caddie shack” to the mess hall and getting there way to late for “last call.” Finding out that there was only “the dregs” left… a little soup, some bread. Left overs really sucked. I was seriously hungry all summer.

FIVE: Offering up my seventeen year old sister to the Caddie Master who happened to know her and her reputation and wanted to fuck her and would I somehow put in a good word. “Of course,” I said. “I’ll see what I can do”.
And then…
“What do can you do for me?”

Me a pimp?
You think?

SIX: Nicking the occasional five iron and trying to find balls in the bushes or taking a few right out of the bag. Finders Keepers. Forking over “the keep” to a councilor for sixty cents on the dollar.
All the councilors were prepping for college golf. They were all eighteen, had been coming to the camp for four, sometimes five summers straight. Stepping stones. A bunch of jar heads. It was like they’d already joined special forces. Who Rah!

SEVEN: Watching some of the younger caddies get “pink bellies.” Holding them down, slapping their bare mid-rifts with the palm of your hand, then pouring after-shave over the stomach. Ouch. A ritual. A hazing. Medieval mindless macho crap. Nothing to do? Let’s wail on a pipsqueak. Pick on someone your own size? Not a chance. I thought it was sadistic first time I saw it. Walked away. No truck. What I say? Morons and mental cases.

“I have the fire.”

At the end of the summer I saved a little over two hundred dollars. I spent one hundred and sixty of that on a big-ass Harmony Sovereign acoustic guitar. Chimes of freedom flashing. I was a little behind the times. Found out Dylan had just gone electric at Newport.

Jeff Spicoli.
In 2005, Fast Times at Ridgemont High was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being… “culturally, historically, aesthetically, significant.”

So I know all you “grommets” are stoked and riding two-foot swells out in Far Rockaway. Trying to be all “Point Break.” Soaking your tats for ten second rides. Brave-away. Kicking back at Surf Lodge. Long boarding out at Ditch in the middle of Hurricane Irene. (Good night Irene.) I get it. I got no beef. Just messing with you. Raspberry.

Just so you know…
I know the waves are free.

I spent a summer out in Hawaii just before graduating high school surfing three footers in front of ugly Waikiki hotels. The waves went on forever. You could read a short story by the time funnel collapsed. I avoided the North Shore after my Dad, who was stationed in Honolulu, (going back and forth to Vietnam), almost drowned from body surfing. His head was in a jar too.
The pipeline on the north shore is massive, sometimes crumbly, and after it hits the first reef, the swell turns into a racetrack. Getting spit out of the barrel is a thrill of a lifetime. How do I know this? I don’t. And neither do you.

Wipe Out.

I appreciate the athleticism. I dig the culture. I’m jealous about the chicks. I like getting wet. And I KNOW… I know it’s super cool and something you can do alone and travel all over the world and look for the perfect wave. It’s a charged lifestyle. Transformative. Living in the now. The moods and motions of the ocean. “Equal before the wave.”

If in doubt, paddle out.

I see all the boards bungeed to the top of cars, the drivers scoping for sandbars and watching for breaks at the end of Town Line Rd., in Wainscott, twenty seconds from my crib out on Long Island. But for the life of me, I don’t see what they’re looking for.

Surfs Up?

The sunset is pretty but the waves are soda stream. Chop Suey.

I cry when the angels deserve to die.

The only artist I know who surfs is Ashley Bickerton and he’s half way around the world tubing ten footers in Bali-Hi.

So what’s up with me loading on about this golf shit?

I met the guy who used to own the Bridgehampton Race Track in Bridgehampton Long Island.
His name is Bob Rubin.
The track that he owned was famous. It went back to the early fifties and all the great race drivers raced there. From rallies to formula one. From Mario Andretti to Paul Newman. The trouble was… sound. Sound from the cars. On a Sunday afternoon you could hear the cars shifting gears ten miles away. Depending on the wind… twenty.
The track was located on 450 acres in the middle of nowhere for four decades. But local builders ran out of room and started building spec houses near the track. The track is off of Scuttle Hole Rd… pretty close to Noyac and sits on one of the highest pieces of land in Long Island. In the early nineties the town started to give Bob shit about the “environmental impact” his races were having on the surrounding homeowners newly bought property.
“A peaceful easy feeling.”
The town officials didn’t put it in those terms, but they did say to Bob, “turn it down.”

Wakeup call!

Two Headlines.

“Gas Guzzling Flamethrowers.
Demolition Derby devils Church Day.”

That’s my guess.
Some unsuspecting weekend vacationer bought a house on a Tuesday, during the middle of winter and didn’t move in until June, woke up on his first Sunday, (out in paradise), to the blasting deafening sounds of four hundred and twenty horses of hemi roaring down the straight away, baffling and belching and backfiring. The new homeowner freaks, flips. “NASCAR! IN MY BACKYARD!”


Sunday donuts?

The only donuts on this guy’s Sunday were the ones left behind from peeling rubber coming off of 24” slicks.

“Welcome to the neighborhood.”

Long story short.
The new nesters complain.
File noise complaints.
Hire lawyers.
Convince the town of Bridgehampton to shut the track down. Bob’s dream is shut down by 1995.
What to do with 450 acres?


There’s only a pitch and putt and a driving range on Rt.27 in Sagaponack called Poxabogue.
So… 450 acres…
“What do I do with 450 acres?”
“Hey I know… how about a brand new golf course?”


Bob knows shit about golf. Never played it. Never watched it. Doesn’t know the difference between a divot and the yips. Decides to travel for the next two years. Checks out all the great courses around the world. Comes back. Takes some lessons and starts some serious earth moving. End result… The Bridge.

If you can find it…

There’s a tiny checkered flag… the logo of the club… that serves as the sign, the way in… THIS IS THE PLACE.

Death Valley.

Upon entering, you might think you’ve driven into Zabriskie Point, or maybe even the Australian outback where they filmed Mad Max. The terrain is bleak. Dessert. Scrub. If you didn’t go another half a mile you’d probably think you were tempting the outer boundaries in Planet Of The Apes. You might even turn around and look for another driveway.

Bob keeps remnants of the old racetrack. The famous Chevron Bridge is still there. There are tires everywhere. Some buried into the sod, half in half out. There are flagging stations peaking out of the woods. There’s rusting guardrails that use to keep racers from spinning out of control and crashing into the trunk of a tree. There are hunks of blacktop, piled into small pyramids of tar, channeling earthworks by Smithson and Heizer. Memories of Wilson and Taylor and Laurie Bird enter the picture. The ’55 Chevy and “the goat” make an appearance. All things being equal, the road that was, precludes conversation.

Two-Lane Blacktop.

And then there’s the golf course.

The rural and the widescreen.
Vanishing Point Part Two.
The extended existential vision version.
I know, a mouthful…
Another mouthful…
A perfectly rolled joint.
Big. Blunt. And imported.
The first fairway you see is the eighteenth.
Jell-O. Cool Whip. Marshmallow. And The Doors.
It’s just plain strange.
The contrast is unexpected. Large patches of dirt and stone, sand dunes and fescue… then suddenly, a manicured monster of abstract green. Arp. Calder. Joan Miro. The natural and the man-made collide. It reminds me when I’m walking down 5thAve. and see the Guggenheim peek out from all the day to day neighboring buildings. Where did it come from? How did it get here?
Like a new landscape.
The Bridge is social science fiction.

Elevation at The Bridge.

The views…
Shelter Island.
The North Fork.
Sag Harbor.
As far as the eye can see.
Even the byrds are high.
I can see for miles.

The first clubhouse was a functional, beautiful, dump. The shape and its material, like one of those metal containers stacked up in a shipyard waiting to be craned onto a ship.
It was set next to what use to be the straight-a-way, right where the racers would pull in to make a pit stop. It wasn’t exactly "gone with the wind". The locker room was empty milk crates. Bare bones. Eventually it would be carted away and replaced by steel and glass. Modernity. A Roger Ferris design. The Bridge would be the first golf course in America with a flaming clubhouse.

I can’t remember where or how I met Bob.
Turned out his place was right around the corner from mine.
He was introduced to me as a book collector, art collector, and teacher of architecture up at Columbia University.

“Did I mention I own a golf club?”

That’s how it started.
About seven years ago.
I had a set of clubs I bought at K-Mart. Use to take the kids to the driving range at Poxabogue.
Bob said why not stop by… bring the family… bring the clubs…

“But I don’t have any golfs clothes”
“No worries. Wear what you like. There’s no dress code.”

Bob was an amateur racecar driver. Drove the hell out of vintage Jaguars. Drove them around the bend in a leather helmet. I liked the fact that a guy who had no history or interest in the game, would make golf his next sport.

Bob owns the place.
Lock, stock and barrel.
Turned it inside out and spray painted the words “breathtaking” onto an old car wreak left behind from "race days" at the halfway house when he was told to fuck off and close down the track.

His new super highway.

Super chill.

Bob filled the clubhouse with his art collection.
He hired a Scandinavian cook.
He has barbecue nights on Sunday and invites what’s left of Captain Beefheart’s band to play music that’s as different as the patio it’s playing on.
He invites the best Mexican food trucks from NYC and has them drive out on the L.I.E. and parks them next to the Captain’s patio jam.

Mm Mm Good.
It’s like warm milky tea.

You either put the ball in the hole or you don’t.
No umpire, no judge, no photo finish.
No subjectivity.
No speculation.
Guess work?
Guess what?
There is none.

Honest Abe.

There’s enough rules in the game to fill a farmer’s almanac. Standards and practice. Every angle, every likelihood, every nook and cranny… covered. Etiquette alone fills up five chapters. Coast to coast. It takes awhile to get the hang, but the main thing is… it’s up to you.

You the player.
You’re the steward. The keeper. The final word.

If your ball moves after you’ve “ground” your club and you don’t call a penalty on yourself… you’re a cheater. If you don’t add a stroke to your score, stick to priests and confession. Or, like Nick Carraway says of Jordan Baker, the golf champion in the Great Gatsby, “she was incurably dishonest.”

Take the cure.


When you turn into a golf course, the rest of the world goes away. You leave everything behind. Is it safe? Yes. It’s safe. It all disappears.
The world you leave behind stays away for an afternoon. Temporarily.
A good thing?
Yea… a pretty good thing.
A breather.
You have the honor.
It’s your tee.
You see the ball. You see where the ball goes before it goes. And you try to hit the ball without ever feeling like you hit it. It’s about as close to Zen as your going to get.
Om on…

So that’s what I started doing.
I went over to the Bridge, alone, and started to play the back nine, late in the afternoon, taking in the silence and the crazy fucked up feeling of hitting a little white ball… flushing it with a three wood from two hundred and ten yards out… somehow connecting with a dimpled Top Flight from the middle of the fairway and two putting a twenty footer for par.
And why?
You tell me.

No I’ll tell you.
The Beach Boys.
I heard they never surfed.


What do Picasso, Duchamp, Truman Capote, Lee Miller, Joan Didion, Pollack, Warhol, Kerouac, Timothy Leary, Ken Kesey, Lee Krasner, Ed Sanders, Jack Smith, Peggy Guggenheim, Wallace Berman, Mercedes Matter, Virginia Wolf, Man Ray... have in common?
They all have a story.


Cold War

I started to take photographs of places I was visiting.
Well not exactly visiting.

I was nineteen and I was in Europe for the first time. September. 1968. Going to school at the University of Caen, in France. Part of a humanities program that was underwritten by the college I was going to, back in the states. It was my first time in Europe.
I was going to college to avoid the draft.
Student deferment.
At the end of my senior year, 1971, my lottery number came up low, (156 out of a thousand), and I got drafted...
But that’s another story.

I couldn’t hack the program at the University of Caen, had a hard time “sprecking” the French… didn’t get along with my professors, and didn’t see the value of studying dead sea “tapestries” filled with historical battles, crusades and dragons. Wall rugs. The lessons felt like… Surfin Safari. Trophy rights. Like we were plodding thru the Amazon, looking for dragons to hunt down and bag, and stuff over giant roaring fireplaces.

So I split.
For Paris.

I hung out with a girl I had met on the boat coming over.
Fran. F.
From UNV.
Two years older.
My first real affair with the opposite sex.
I felt like she was doing me a favor. Sorry for me. I didn’t know how else to react to her affection. I couldn’t accept the attraction. Mutual? One-sided? I didn’t know. Hard to read. Head. In. Clouds. At least that's how I felt. I was basing my behavior on cartoons and centerfolds. I was a mess and I was happy. Two sensations. At the same time. I was having a blast having sex everyday. Finally. It’s hard to put into words.

I couldn’t believe I was getting laid.

When it stopped, I bought a Eurail Pass and started traveling all over Europe for four weeks.

When I was in Paris I picked up some slides of “castles” that were for sale in the postcard racks outside of a “Tabac” store. There were more than just castles you could buy, but that’s what I bought first. The slides were organized by subject and came six slides in a sheet. They were housed in plastic sleeves. When I held them up to the light and looked at them, they were full of no nonsense information. They did their job. They gave you a view of whatever it was needed viewing. They were generic, professional. They added up. They especially added up if you didn’t know how to use a camera... or, wanted to bring back some sites you wouldn’t ordinarily have a chance to photograph if you did take photographs.

Does that make any sense?

I wanted to make photographs just like the castles in the plastic sleeves. I wanted my photographs to be good as “theirs.”

This was the start of my wanting something that someone else was “already” doing.

I took a trip to the Loire valley. I would find a castle and spend all afternoon walking around it to get the right shot. The best shot. The one and only.
I was careful to take at least two. Two clicks of the camera. It was a matter of economics. The slide film in my camera cost money. I was on a strict budget. I spent my time looking thru the camera… a lot of time, before I made the exposure. I would spend an afternoon waiting for the right cloud cover. The right amount of light to make the castle come alive. I would spend hours walking around the castle making sure to find the exact location to make the castle important. To make the castle last. I wanted to promise the castle I would make it special. I wanted a magic castle.

My intention, my “desire”, my only concern, was to have the castle I was visiting, look… just like the castles in the slides that I bought outside the Tabac store. That’s all I wanted. Make them look as if I didn’t make them. Or even better, couldn’t make them.

To good to be true.
Author’s responsibility?
I didn’t have any.
Could have cared less.
I didn’t care about what I wanted. I cared about what they wanted. And I didn’t care who “they” were.

In the four weeks I spent in Europe “training” around the continent, I acted like I was on assignment. Acted. It was all made up. Whatever came out looked as if it was done by someone else.

Not mine.

In the end I broke down my “assignment” to five groups of “views”. I photographed Castles, Canals, Public Sculpture… views from rooftops, and the Berlin Wall.

Meager finances.
Still I pushed it.
I tried to get at least six or seven photographs of each category.

I imagined myself making these photographs for people back home, people who had never traveled, never made it out of the country, out of their neighborhood, out of their house.

And even though most of these people were family, the others were invented, invisible and didn’t exist. I didn’t think much about who was going to look. Only that someone would. Family? Ghosts? They were all the same. I wanted to show everybody something great, so we could all believe.

I would sleep on the train. I used the train like a hotel. I would go to the station at ten at night, look up at the big board, the schedule, and pick a city. Florence, Madrid, Frankfurt, Antwerp. It didn’t matter what city, except a city I hadn’t been to.

When I went to Berlin I didn’t know anything about the geography of the city. I didn’t realize that the city was surrounded by Russia. Locked in. An island still surrounded by cold war.
I was clueless. Uninformed. Uneducated.
When I arrived in the morning I immediately went to Check Point Charlie. I took a photograph. Then I walked around the streets that were boarded by the wall. The day was grey. Overcast. There was hardly anybody out on the street. The closer I got to the wall, the less people on the street. The wall was bad medicine.

The wall was real. I could touch it. It wasn’t fiction. It wasn’t part of a novel. Graham Greene’s The Third Man… sure… but there was no zither music or Harry Lyme next to the wall… that would come later.

The wall was brick, mortar, cement, stone, and glass. There were places where you could climb up to a platform and look over and look into “no-man’s” land. No-mans land was an empty tract of land that was maybe fifty yards wide. It was full of barbwire. You could see the Russian guards on the other side. Next to the guards were German Sheperds.
I took five photographs of the wall.
The wall worked.
The wall, the wire, the guards, the dogs, kept people from escaping from East to West. I wish I had taken more photographs. But I didn’t. I wasn’t thinking like a photographer. I didn’t know how a photographer thought.
At least I took five photographs.

There were no slides to buy in plastic sleeves of the Berlin Wall outside the Tabac store back in Paris.

When I finally came home and loaded my carousel with my slides, I left the “wall” ones out. No Berlin Wall. I only showed the castles, the canals, the public sculptures, and the views from rooftops. I’m not sure what I had in mind when I excluded the five photographs of The Berlin Wall. MY PHOTOS. Why did I leave them out? All I know is that I mixed in the “store bought” castles with the castles that I took… thinking no one in my family would care or know the difference between mine and theirs.

In 2011… forty years after showing my slides to my family in my basement, I would return to France, and show the castles, the public sculptures, the canals, the views of from the rooftops. I would show them in Dijon at the Consortium. An alternative space, the same type of space as Artists Space in NYC.
I managed to find one “store bought” slide of a castle that I put away, “kept”…that I bought back in '68 outside the Tabac store.
I put that slide in the show.
I had the slide mounted in a special frame and put the frame on a plinth, so you could look at the side from both sides, (thru the slide), and put the plinth in the middle of the gallery. I made 20X24” prints of all “the views” and hung them on the wall. Five castles. Five public sculptures. Five Canals. And five views from rooftops. It was strange after all these years to think what I made or didn’t “made”, in 1968… was being exhibited in an art gallery.

I put up a show at the Consortium when it first opened in 1983. Now they wanted to me inaugurate a new “extension” to their space, and bookend what I did earlier in ‘83. I couldn’t remember what I put up back then, but this time around, it felt like the work from '68 was the Beginning AND The End.

I didn’t go to the opening back in 1983. And didn’t go to opening in 2011.

I went to Dijon in 1968.
I wanted to see the town where James Joyce had Ulysses printed. (My bibliomania was already on me). I don’t think I took any photographs when I was there in 1968. And if I did take any, they’re long gone. I have my memory of the place and it's wrapped up in Greek Flag Blue, the color that Joyce labored over to dust his book in.

The Consortium published a catalogue of my new show, but it didn’t come out until four years after the show. I’m not sure why it took so long, but when I got it, I was happy with how it looked. It was radical and conservative at the same time. Small, wrapped in boards, a run of around five hundred. I wrote the essay for the catalogue. I didn’t know who else to ask. I tried to explain the work, the process, and talk about what I was thinking. What I was thinking. I called the essay the Magic Castle.

I also made prints of the Berlin Wall and put them in the show too. Five “views” of the wall. This time I didn’t leave them out. This was different from my family’s basement. There was no carousel, no projection. My audience wasn’t relatives and ghosts.
It was time.
A lot had past.
The wall was there and now its not.
I took these photographs.
Five photographs.
They were mine.

What’s yours is mine.
What’s mine is yours.

Either way… the necky smuttoned the dues and I’m finally out the above, grapping and sorting thru piles of herms, delling the flats and saving the safes and pins, sticking and holding my dew waiting waiting… the pasture, the skies, the heaven.

Mine and yours.


You Tarzan, Me Jane.

Cheetah… now that’s a great name… for a monkey.

God only knows?
No he doesn't.


The word already has the word “story” in it.

In 1985 I put together a compilation of artist’s writings and downtown "avant" writers and did their portraits and called it Wild History. It was published by Tanam Press. The title comes from the Chinese. The Chinese have two types of history. The regular kind and the “wild” kind. The regular is straightforward. Mao on his way to the revolution. The second kind, the “wild” kind, is Mao FUCKING in the bushes… on the way to the revolution.
The second kind is soap opera. Heavy handed. Behind the scenes. Interpretive. The kind where you had to have been there to believe it. Up close. Personal. Drama.

God Damn Good Drama.

Man, I can’t believe what just happened!

I’ve always wanted to be in the room when history is being made.
Roomy history.
Not all the time.
Just once in awhile.
If I could.
If not, at least next door.

I’d like to be able to look back and say… man, that was something, wasn’t it?

The trouble.

The trouble is, when I READ about what happened, in the room, where I had been, when history was being made… the “report", the “eye witness", is fucked. It’s always different, slanted and “storied”. It’s never the same. I say, "hey… REALLY?”
“Say what?”
That’s not the way I remember it.”

More trouble.

It‘s never anywhere near what “really” happened. Never anywhere near what I saw and heard when I was there… when I was right there, close and being a part of what was going on. Participating. What I read later, in the paper, the magazine, the essay, the book, or on the screen, is way off, crazy, nuts, and just plain wrong.

So how do you react to this new version of “the truth.”

You don’t.
You don’t say a word.
How can you?
And if you do… who’s going to listen?


I don’t believe you.

The public version of history, the one that’s printed, HARD COPY, is what people believe. It’s what they believe from an author who has “sources”, most of them un-named. And even though the “story” will be “second-hand”, they’ll be no point in complaining or trying to convince anyone who’s reading the story… that what they just read, is fabricated, counterfeit, “cooked up”.

Why bother?

You want the truth about Franz Kline and Betty Page? You can’t have it. Why? You won't believe it.

My version will be irrelevant. My truth will have no consequence. My experience is just something that I’m going to have to live with. Alone. I mind as well write it down, put it in a bottle, and throw it in the ocean. I might be able to share it, but with whom? Who’s going to believe me? Who’s going to care? Who’s going to give a shit?

Go tell it on the mountain.

I’ve kept a diary of the different “rooms” I’ve been in over the years, the “history rooms”… but the diary is under lock and key and hidden away in a secret draw held down by a stack of bibles. It’s buried next to my last will and testimony, dutifully inscribed and written in code. “In the event of my death, my march to the revolution is the whole truth and nothing but the truth. My hand to God.”

Hand of God was one of those rooms I was in, on my way to the revolution.

Definition of Hand Of God…

Hand of god involves multiple women administering a hand job to one man. Each woman takes it, in turns, (which are timed by whatever means deemed appropriate). The winner is the one to bring him to climax during their turn.

I swear.

Gym Joyce swear.

The whole truth and nothing but the truth. So help me God.


Untitled Protest

We moved to Weymouth Mass. when I was ten. A couple of towns over from Braintree, my first home in the Americas after my family moved up from Panama. The house was on the water. Not a beach. It was more a large bay, greasy and filled with flotsam. The bay led to the Weymouth Navel shipyard. This beach is where I would start beach combing. Finding stuff. Things that washed up and were free. Claiming.
Big tankers would pass by and every once in awhile a new cruiser or destroyer would sail by… to where, I didn’t know. I didn’t care. Maybe Vietnam. I wasn’t interested in anything military. I didn’t have any of the discipline it took to be a soldier. Following orders, being controlled, wasn't for me. And even though I was only ten, I had already associated, “in the service”, with disappointment, depression, being bullied and crapped on. Like I said. I was ten. What did I know?

Let me explain…

Back in Braintree, (before Weymouth)… my backyard neighbor was a woman named Mrs. McBride. I think her first name was Helen. Mrs. McBride lost her oldest son in Vietnam. The loss was in 1958, 1959? Way before we were suppose to be over there in what would become an undeclared war. Who knows why he was there. Secret stuff. Something to do with the French. Something to do with “special forces”. Part of a small liaison nosing around a foreign country, keeping tabs on communists and dominos. I was way to young to understand a death like that. Except what I did understand was the change Mrs. McBride underwent. The way she stopped talking. The way she stopped saying hello and asking me over. It was like a body snatcher invaded her body and the snatcher made her sit down in her closed-in porch and stare all day at her garden… a garden that was once full of all kinds of things to eat, but now, was quietly turning into a pile of weeds.

My age didn’t get the losing part. I got the zombie part but I didn't get the losing.

As long as I had known Mrs. McBride her son was someone she adored and talked about with beaming pride. I’m not sure if I even met him. All I knew about him was “hanky talk”. To me she was the milk and cookie lady. Someone who was kind and treated me like a relative. After her son died she closed down and walked around in her sleeping clothes and slippers. I knew she’d never be the same and never forgive whatever made him disappear. She called his disappearance, “missing in action”.

She would never get rid of the grief. She was done with life and hated that she had to go on living. For a parent, out living your children makes you give up. You get dark and collect dust.

Maybe twenty years later? (1980?) I was in Washington D.C. and visited the Vietnam War Memorial. It was emotional. Complicated. I was in front of a slab of granite that had all the names of the dead soldiers who died in Vietnam etched into its surface. This was a war that I resisted and protested and denounced. I was standing in front of that huge blackish headstone and I started to cry. I’m not sure what took over. The feelings were overwhelming. I balled uncontrollably and felt like all these names were alive, right next to me, and were calling out to me saying “hey man, no biggie… wake us when it’s over. We’re all together now, still dialing it in… bad ass motherfuckers.”

I started to look for the name Peter McBride. Born? Died? 1959? It wasn’t there. There were other McBride’s. Fifteen of them. And two Peter’s. But none off them with the right birth and death dates. This kind of absence was a different motherfucker. They left him off. He wasn’t included. He was erased. In government speak “redacted”. He should have been there and his exclusion was more than “regulated”, it was embarrassing.

I’m not sure I’m capable of writing about what remains. What I can say is that when I think about the missing of Peter McBride I sometimes feel a little like his mother. I feel blank. Invaded. Hopeless. Other times I feel pissed off. I’m pissed that there was nothing there. No memory. He wasn’t part of anything and every thing that happened to him was forgotten and covered up and stupid. It’s the way things are. Peter McBride’s history is a fairytale. Fucked up, top secret, and classified. His life, like all the rest of the carved names, meaningless. A shallow grave. There’s no point in making any sense of it. War, truce, treaty. It’ll just keep happening again and again. Forever. Maybe that’s why I was crying. What’s set in stone is deader than a door nail. Or better, I’ll leave to Shakespeare… “I pray more that I may never eat grass again.”
Mrs. McBride was the one who died in Vietnam. And her name wasn’t on the Vietnam Memorial either.


7th Heaven… A chapter from “Tell Me Everything”.

Jeff Koons was the first artist that I met, that when I saw his work I thought… this guy’s making art like I wanted it to be made.
Which is to say… he wasn’t making art.
Which is to say… he was making art but didn’t care if it looked like art.
Which is to say… he was making art, but it’s NOT ART YET.
Which is to say… maybe one of these days, it will, it might, it could...
Which is to say… I’m asking a lot. I mean, “I’M” not asking… the art that I’m making is asking.
Which is to say… I don’t give a shit.

I don’t give a shit.

Jeff, I would later find out, would never say, “I don’t give a shit.” What he was making was the truth and he would never associate “his truth” with not giving a shit.

Jeff gave a shit.

Jeff believed.

He wasn’t punk.
He wasn’t beat.
He wasn’t hippie.
He wasn’t wave.
He wasn’t a “no” wave.
He wasn’t blank.
He was neo, post, or lost.
Jeff was hard to describe.
And what he was doing was hard to describe.

By 1980 Jeff would describe.
And how he would describe it was simple.
He was new.
And what he was doing was “the new.”

But I’m way ahead.
Beep Beep Beep.
Back up.
First… my first meeting.

In 1977, I had taken my first “re-photograph.” I photographed advertisements of living rooms. Four advertisements of four different living rooms that appeared in the magazine section of the New York Times Sunday Magazine. Instead of tearing out the pages and pasting them up on paper and “collaging” them… I took my camera and cropped the images with my 35mm lens and loaded 160Tungsten color slide film inside the camera, and snapped away at the magazine page… avoiding the copy and concentrating on what was being advertised. After staring thru the lens and making the exposure, I sent four slides to a commercial lab in Midtown and told them to blow the slides up to 20 by 24 inches on ektacolor photo paper. When I got the photographs back, I cut mats for each photograph and put them in generic wooden frames. I hung them up on the wall, side by side. They looked like real photographs because they were real photographs.

So that was where I was at.

Allan Jones came by to see these “re-photographs.”
I was living at 308 West 11th St. in the West Village in a garden apartment that I couldn’t afford and shared with a girl who wasn’t my girlfriend.
I’m not sure where or how I met Allan, but I thought at the time, Allan was going to be my Andre Breton.
He smoked Gauloise cigarettes and even wore French “tinted” glasses.
He was a connector.
He introduced people to each other and was always saying he was writing about the connections. He connected all right. But I never read anything about what he connected.

After he came over and saw my “living rooms” he told me about Jeff, and said, “you have to meet this guy.”
It would take about eight months before I made it over to Jeff’s apartment.

Jeff lived on the west side of the East Village. Near Cooper Union, next to Phebe’s restaurant.
I can’t remember if Allan was there, maybe he left after we arrived… but I remember being alone with Jeff in his first floor street side studio apartment.
He had these half inflated plastic flowers that he’d bought on Canal St. and had carefully placed them on square mirrors that were on the floor up against the wall. They reminded me of Smithson a little. But only a little.
The first thing he said to me, almost like an apology, was that he felt bad that the “flowers” were only half filled with air but that he didn’t want to stretch them out at the moment. He said something like, “I’m afraid if I filled them up, all the way, with air right now, they wouldn’t be the same when it comes time to show them in a gallery.”

All the way.

I thought about that… standing there… looking at the droops that were part of the positions the petals were in, and immediately agreed. “Yea, I get it... you want to conserve their potential and save them.”

He was deliberate. There was no irony or slapstick in his explanation. He was sincere. And his sincerity was a big fucking hello.

To say "good morning and really mean it."

Your welcome.

I knew right there I had found a Compadre.
A long fellow. A fellow traveler. Someone like-minded. Someone who I didn’t have to think twice about. There was no hesitation. Nothing was interrupted. I was meeting someone who understood details. Presentation. Someone who knew their subject and how to propose and marry it. How to show it off without fucking it up. How to take it and make it again. How to make sure it ended up looking as natural as it had been in the first place.

Who cares if it looks like art…
Lets just fill this thing with just enough air to make it look like what it’s supposed to be.

And what was it supposed to be?
It was supposed to be what it was suppose to be.
Hats off to Gertrude? To Marcel? To Andy?
No. No hats.
Not even close.
If we were going to tip our hats to anyone, anything... it would be to Rod Serling, Jack Parr, Looney Tunes and Captain Kangaroo.

Like I said, “in the first place.” And then, the second... and then?

Third Place.

I started hanging around with Jeff at an East Village bar called the Red Bar. The Red Bar was sterile and overly lit. It had no personality. It had just opened. There was some kind of retro thing going on with the décor and the jukebox played records by the Box Tops and Tommy James and the Shondells. I guess we hung there because it was convenient.
We tried picking up girls at the bar but were unsuccessful. Not once did we ever leave the bar in the company of a female.
After two or three beers Jeff was a loose cannon. It took a bit more spirits for me to drop my guard. (Alcohol would later become a subject that both of us would process. Jeff, with “degradation”. Me, with monochromatic jokes).
Jeff wasn’t like those shmucks from Cal Arts. Or RISD. Or Hallwalls. (Places both of us were just becoming aware of in 1978). We had our own “shmuck” going on and it had nothing to do with institutions, schools, parties, groups, labels, movements, alternatives, friends.

We had no friends.

Jeff was in another orbit. The man who fell to earth. He didn't have any die-hard Bowie fans yet, but he could lip sync a pretty good version of Pop Goes The Weasel.
Jeff was looking to have a bridge named after him. "If Brooklyn could, why not me?"
Or maybe the bridge was a Zeppelin thing.
Jeff wanted his work, "lead" heavy. Just like the stairways Jimmy Page use to saw on his guitar.
"Can anyone find the damn bridge."

Jeff had a job selling subscriptions at MOMA and I had a job at Time-Life. We worked in the same neighborhood.
Not really.
I think we both turned our situations into advantages. There was nothing else to do. We both had to work. We both had to make a living.

He turned his selling into a kind of performance and I turned the magazines that Time-Life published into art supplies.

Two things about 1980.
The New Museum windows and Jeff’s apartment on Fifth and 18th St.

First the apartment…
When I walked into Jeff’s apartment building on Fifth and 18th it was full on fancy. A palace? No. I wouldn't go that far. But it wasn't "brick". Let's just say it was pleasure to be sad.
My place on Ave. A and 12thSt. was a broken down tenement. One of those railroad apartments with the tub in the kitchen. Worn and torn. Dirt cheap. A shit-hole.
Jeff’s Fifth and 18th place was the complete opposite. Spruced. The Nines. Nice digs.

He met me in the lobby and I had to ask him, “You’re kidding me, right”?
He said, “No. When I signed the lease I paid the first and last month. It’s going to take them at least a year to get me out.”
At first I didn’t understand.
“You mean you’re not going to pay rent anymore?”
“Exactly,” he said.
I think my response was, “FUCK.”

Looking back, that way of negotiating your budget didn’t have anything to do with balls or hutzpah. It has to do with DETERMINATION.
The decision not to pay rent before you move in… to make the decision part of your plan, your future, your lifestyle… something that could be described as “under the circumstances”… wasn’t really brilliant as much as it was “getting the job done.”

He knew his legal rights but he also really wanted that apartment and this was the only way he could pay for it. He was willing to take on the wrath of the landlord. (Dear Landlord). Management was going to be royally pissed about not getting their money every month, but eviction and debt wasn’t what kept Jeff up at night.
I could already tell that money wasn’t something Jeff gave two shits about.
What kept Jeff up at night was “raising” money, not making it.

We go up to the apartment.
I walk in and there’s no furniture. Wall to wall carpet. Clean. Whistle clean. There’s a brand new washer dryer, side by side, sitting in the living room. There’s a teakettle mounted on fluorescent fixtures hanging on the wall and there’s an upright vacuum cleaner encased in plexiglass with more fluorescents lighting the “Hoover” from beneath. This “cleaning object” occupied most of the tiny kitchen.
It was like the apartment was a safe house. A place to store stolen goods. “Fencing” came to mind. Witness protection. A wish list from Sears and Roebuck.

“I’ll pick door number three.”
I expected the apartment to suddenly turn around on one of those revolving platforms and I’d be suddenly stuttering my choice of door to Bill Cullen of the Price Is Right.

Come On Down.

So I’m standing there, (again the standing) and looking around and the only sign of real furniture is a bed that’s neatly made. Looks like its been made for military inspection. I half expected the closet to hold a freshly laundered khaki uniform. Crisply ironed. With a bunch of merit badges highlighting archery and personal fitness.


And that’s it.
Not a stick.
I don’t think there was a nightstand or even a lamp.
I don’t remember checking out the bathroom.
But if I did I’m sure the medicine cabinet would have been filled with lotion, aspirin, and mouth wash. I don’t think there would have been any surprises behind the mirror.

So what’s getting me is the washer/dryer. This “tag-team” even has the energy labels still attached. And I’m saying “so ahh…What-Is-Up?
And Jeff says, “The New.”

Everything is brand new.
That’s his turn. His twist. His contribution. His continuation. His "third place."
And his “new,” immediately makes sense.
I like the sense and I like what it makes.
Making sense is something that good art does.


The apartment is a showroom.
And even though what he’s showing are store bought appliances… that small gesture of not touching what is generally… immediately, unpacked and “plugged in,” is, in the words of Madison Ave., “a big bright flash of white light.”

Turn On, Drop Out, Plug In.

That’s what happened at the New Museum.
When Jeff was invited to make a show in the windows. (This was when The New Museum was on 6th Ave. and 14th St.).
He somehow got the museum to buy him four vacuum cleaners and the story goes… that one of them got plugged in and he found out and told the staff that he couldn’t use it. It was “used.” Old. “No good.” Its integrity had been compromised. He told them they would have to go out and buy another. The same. The same kind. A whole new vacuum cleaner.
And of course the New Museum had no budget, but what could they do?
Jeff’s foot was down and unless the object was BRAND NEW… the object became irrelevant, second hand, garbage.

And who would know if it had ever been plugged in you ask…?
Who would know that a perfectly fine vacuum cleaner without a scratch on it or even a “suggestion” of a scratch…
Who would know?
You know who.

Wild History.

Before I forget… two things…
When Jeff was selling Salvador Dali Gold Medallions for some Wall Street bullshit boiler room…(I don’t think Jeff was ever a real trader)… I was one of his few knuckle-headed customers who bought one of the medallions before the company got raided, shut down, and forced out of business. I bought the medallion for a thousand buckaroos and redeemed it after his office got busted for nine hundred and fifty dollars. I lost fifty but I still have the certificate of authenticity. That’s got to be worth what?

A Bonanza…

In 1986 I was living at 303 Gallery on Park Ave. South and Lisa Spellman exhibited Jeff’s “equilibrium” tanks. She showed a one ball, a two ball and a three-ball tank. Every night when I got up to take a leak, the light from the street lamp would shine in the window and throw a spotlight, a beautiful religious glow covered the tanks and solarized the floating basketballs. For six weeks, every time I would get up to take a piss… the middle of the night would transform into a wonderful tangerine dream.

The Thief and The Soundtrack.

The turtle and the hare.
A quick detour.

I was always pissed at Meyer Vaisman for organizing that show in ’87 at Sonnabend Gallery which included Koons, Haim Steinbach, Peter Halley, Ashley Bickerton and Meyer Vaisman. (Yes, he put himself into the show). I didn’t even realize Meyer was an artist. My relationship with him was both as a friend and a dealer. I thought Meyer was terrific dealer and ran a great gallery and I couldn’t wrap my head around the do’s and don’ts of why he would want to give both himself and the artists he was showing away to an established blue chip gallery that was already well known and respected and steeped in a thirty year history of Pop, Minimalism, Post Minimalism and Conceptual Art.

I didn’t get it.

What I wanted was territory that “we” claimed. That belonged to us.
Meyer’s International With Monument was the place to be. And I really liked its outsider status. I know outside can turn inside in a heartbeat, but I really thought I had finally found a gallery that was an “all for one and one for all”… a "helluva" clubhouse.
I had a couple of shows there and so did Sarah Charlesworth and Gretchen Bender. Even Vito Acconci made an appearance. Halley, Koons, Steinbach, Bickerton all had at least two shows there. It was open on Sunday, like the rest of the East Village galleries, and everybody loved dealing with Meyer. He was a born salesman. I thought he was the next Leo Castelli. I thought he had it made.

I was wrong.
Naïve? Yes.
Disappointed? Yes.
What could I do about it? Leave.

Meyer was the first “young” artist I'd heard talk about money. How much money his work was selling for. And how much it would sell for in the future. I couldn’t listen. The sound of his posture was a terrible rattle. Commands. It was like he was sitting in a rickshaw and I was pulling it.

Song and dance.
Life support.

I told him I was the wrong artist to talk about the financial side of the art world. Commodities and "positions" were things I didn't feel comfortable with. Foreign. Foreign and fog. My relationship with money was complicated and I hated hearing Meyer bragging on about how much one his paintings would be worth some day. “Some day” implied the future and I couldn’t see past the afternoon.

What future?

The Sonnabend show was accompanied by a cover story in New York magazine.
I remember the article starting off with a portrait of Ashley Bickerton. The portrait was like a Hollywood publicity picture. Stock. Generic. Set up. Fake. What can I say? I thought it was good portrait. The way Ashley came over reminded me of a young Marlon Brando. I didn’t know Ashley very well but I recognized he was “on the make” and it didn’t take long to realize that young artists not only thought about making money from their work, but EXPECTED to make money from their work.


Lump me in?
Jose can answer that.
“No way.”

I was holding out for greener pastures. Fluorescent Pastures. Why?
Mamma Tried.
Bad genes.
I feed the hand that bites me.
I almost cut my hair.
Groucho Marx.
Wooly Bully.
All of the above.

I shot the sheriff.

I had a problem with "squares." "Straights." Something to do with my relatives. No need to bleed about it here. There was nothing kindly about the blood. I wanted to get as far away from kinship as possible.

The idea of being “understood” contributed to the fall of western civilization. I read that somewhere. The somewhere might have been referring to 1913 but certain ideas about misunderstanding never change.

Do I really want to be part of a new wave?
Yes I know… I’m moaning and complaining and sounding like my shit don’t stink. Roses Are Blue. Violets Are Red.
Here take my card... it's not engraved but it's creamy and sparkles.
"Rong & Rong."
My address is on the other side... it says it right there...
"Just around the corner."
Anyone can find me.
I sound like some kind of infomercial.

The show at Sonnabend that Meyer put together, which would be called “neo-geo,” ushered in another shift, and its participants would soon join the Sonnabend stable.
This is the show where Jeff showed his “rabbit”, and took off.
See you later.
Wile E Coyote.
It was all up hill from there.

Roadrunner Roadrunner.

"I knew a guy so rich, he could ski up hill."

It was hard to relate to Meyer as an artist but I tried.
I bought some of his work and still own one of his “turkeys.” I went in “halves” on a giant painting of his with Lisa Spellman and after Lisa and I parted ways, I bought her out and unfortunately didn’t have the proper custodial “where with all” to curate the painting. I was dead broke in the mid-nineties, and had moved upstate and stored the painting in a barn. Sadly, the mice got it. Ate it. Literally gnawed the shit out of the canvas. I was selling off most of my collection to make ends meet but nobody wanted the Vaisman. This was 1995. Seven years after the Geo show. Things didn’t quite work out for most of the Geo’s and Meyer fell hard. Of the five, Koons continued to chug. He’s been working on the railroad ever since. Full steam ahead. Even when he tied his femme fatale Cicciolina to the railroad tracks, he rescued himself, instead of her.

Winston ‘O Link.
Iron Horse.
Easy Rider.
How The West Was Won.
What did the artist say to the porn star?

At least I’m not an asshole.

I still have Vaisman’s Turkey sculpture and luckily it’s in great shape. Its wooden pedestal doubled as a storage box and for twenty years the stuffed turkey hasn’t been touched by feast or famine. I took it out about six months ago and it looks good. What I mean to say… it not only survived, but it LOOKS GOOD.

Looks Good Survive…
Kind of a haiku.
That’s all any of us ever wants…
A good haiku.


I parted company.
I lost touch.
I got divorced.
And split.
I’m not sure I spoke to any of those cats and kiddies for ten years.

I met Colin de Land.
I met Christopher Wool.
I met Robert Gober.
I met Charlie Ray.
I met Cady Noland.
I met Matthew Barney.
I met Marlene Dumas.
I met Dusty Rhodes.



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.



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".


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.
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.


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.


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


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 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.


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.


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.
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”.

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?)
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.
Pass it on.
From me to you.
If what was on my page is now on yours, its your problem not mine.

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…

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”?
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.

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.
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.
Cheese Whiz
Ring Dings
Whip cream
Slim Jim’s
(And in no particular order).


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.
"What do we do now that we're happy".


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.


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...


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.


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.

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?

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.


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.
Land of a thousand dances.
Green Onions.
Hand Jive.
I'm call'in shotgun.
Rocky&Bullwinkle Baby...


"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.
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.
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 sweet nurses.
You never mind.
Your going to come out of this smelling like roses.


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


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).
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?
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.
"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 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 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.
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.


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 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.
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



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."

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.

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.



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...


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. (
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.


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.


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'
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.


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...


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


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 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?


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...?


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


First let me send out a huge FUCK YOU to 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, 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...


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


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...?


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.


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.


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...


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.


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.


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?


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.


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".


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".


"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.


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.


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.


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.


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


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.


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


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.


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.


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.


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"....


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.


"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.


"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...


"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


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...

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...

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.


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"...


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.


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...


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 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" 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.

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.


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.


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


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.


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.


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

Christian Holstad vs. Anish Kapor

Vik Muniz?


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


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.

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.

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...

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...

I scream. You scream. We all scream for ice cream.

"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".

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".

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".

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.

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..


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.

"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...

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"...

"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.

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...

"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".

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".

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...

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"...

Recommended reading: "The Swerve", by Stephen Greenblatt...

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.

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.

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"....

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...

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...