Birdtalk



FULTON RYDER

BIRDTALK

10/1/2014

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.

9/29/2014

Cold War

I started to take photographs of places I was visiting.
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.

Bored...
Tears...
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.
Experienced.
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.

Word.
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.

9/24/2014

You Tarzan, Me Jane.

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

God only knows?
No he doesn't.

History.

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?

JUDAS!

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.


9/22/2014

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.

9/17/2014

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.
Dead-ends?
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.

Attention.
Revelry.
Salute.

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.

Sometimes.

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…
Seriously?
Who would know?
Well…
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.

Blindsided.
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.
Headache.
Migraine.
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.

Move
Over
Rover

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

I was holding out for greener pastures. Fluorescent Pastures. Why?
Mamma Tried.
Bad genes.
Angry.
Disowned.
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.
Scram.
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.
Monopoly.
Seduction.
O’Sexaul.
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.

Thanksgiving.

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.
The only artists I kept in touch with were Dike Blair and Troy Brauntuch.
I started hanging around with Glenn O’Brien.
I started hanging around with Larry Clark.


By the late eighties my ship came in.

Moby Dick.
"Mr. Christian!"
Land 'O Lakes.
I couldn’t handle the embrace.
The spotlight wasn’t something I was comfortable in.
And yes it was a little late.
It was like walking the plank, only backwards.
My audience up till then?
Next to none.
I preferred a room versus a stadium.

What was it I just heard?
I’d rather have one person look at my work a thousand times than a thousand people look at my work one time.
Sounds like “Home Sweet Home.”
Maybe I should take that sentiment and embroider it on a pillow.

Throw it around.

The “in” I was interested in, was being “way in.”

Over my head.

I wanted to be so far underground I’d get the bends.

All the way to China.

I didn’t want excitement and I didn’t want to be exciting.

I’ve said this before…
There’s a photo of Franz Kline in his studio on 14th St. standing, with one foot on the windowsill, looking out the window with a cigarette in his hand. I used to have that photo hanging in my bedroom when I was sixteen. I would look at that picture and say to myself… that’s the picture I want to be in.

In 1988 I was living in Lower Manhattan standing in front of my own window.

Inside World.

Whatever money I would get from my work I’d spend it on rare books and drugs.
Whenever I had a show I would demand that my dealer get me plenty of drugs.
I bought a lot of first editions high.

I started drawing and painting jokes.
I shuttled between Lower Manhattan and the Chateau Marmont.
The late eighties became the early nineties and when the new decade arrived it cast out the new and brought in another new. That’s the way it works. It’s always the same. (And it will continue to be). What’s in is out. And what replaces what’s in will eventually be out, come back, and be in again.
Besides…
If it’s any good, it stays, it hides, it rears its ugly head and haunts. No matter how hard you try, you can’t get rid of what’s good.


Paying attention?
Not really…

Under the radar?
Run silent… Run deep.

There’s a riot going on.

What is art?
It’s the coke bottle in the movie ON THE BEACH.

I was renting three lofts on Reade St. between Church and West Broadway. I was so neurotic about sound that I lived in the middle of the three. I didn’t want to hear music coming up from underneath and I didn’t want to hear footsteps from overhead. I parked myself on my third floor walk up, used the second floor as my studio and floor above me as a place to look at finished work.

Sometimes I would rent the third floor to people I would know.
I once rented the floor to Tim Burton’s ex-wife.
She had helped put together my first “house” project out in West L.A and had come east to check into the art world.
I remember going up to collect the rent one morning and some German guy answered the door. He looked like a cartoon for the Aryan Nation. I almost burst out laughing. It was a defensive response.
I stepped into the space and saw whips and chains and leather masks. Someone was beating the shit out of someone.
So this is what I’d been hearing in the middle of the night.
I backed up slowly and kept my eyes on the blonde bombshell.
“Tell her to mail it to me.”

When I went out to the Chateau in L.A. I would always rent one of the two bungalows that were separated from the hotel. I’d usually get the one that was farthest from the hotel. It was actually a small ranch house. I remember getting a call one morning at the bungalow… this was like 1991?... the call was from London and the guy calling wanted me to interview him. It was Damien Hirst. Who is Damien Hirst? I didn’t interview him. I hung up the phone and said to myself… someday that guy is going to be famous.

In the middle of painting “jokes” I was taking my own photographs. I still used 160 Tungstun slide film. I never bothered to change the film that I used to re-photograph the pages I’d tear out of magazines. I started taking photos outside. Because I was using indoor film outside, the pictures came out looking bleached. Their look was a mistake. But I went with it. It looked like everything was flashed and washed.
I took photographs in three places. Downtown. Upstate. And at the Chataeu. The photographs turned into a book called Adult Comedy Action Drama. It was all I wanted to do. It came out in 1992.

I was still paging thru magazines.
In the backs of car magazines I noticed you could order car parts.
I wanted to paint something that was already painted.
I started ordering car hoods. They were the biggest part of the car and pretty much had a rectangular shape to them. The shape was conservative and reminded me of the shape of a medium size painting.
I ordered specific hoods.
1968 Dodge Charger.
1970 Dodge Challenger.
I ordered them from a company out in Irvine Calif.
They arrived in big cardboard boxes in the mail. They were sent a-way for. I’ve always wanted to work with something that was “sent away for.” It was like saving up box tops from Kellogg’s Rice Krispie’s and sending them off to Battle Creek Michigan. Instead of getting a submarine filled with baking soda to submerge in the tub, I got hoods that starred in movies like Bullitt and Vanishing Point.

The hoods were made out of fiberglass.
Easy to cut on a band or with a jig-saw.
I had a fabricator mount them on stretcher-like-frames and hung them on the wall.
I started painting them myself with “car colors” I ordered them from the GM Motor Company. “Competition Orange.” “Plum Crazy Purple.” Pretty soon I started “flaking” them with custom colors that people like Big Daddy Roth promoted back in the fifties when GI’s just back from WWII would strip the shit out of an old “jalopy” and hot rod it to hell and ride it out on the salt flats of western Nevada. These guys “customized” their metal mania and bored the engines out into wet dreams. Afternoons were spent chopping and raking, “modifying” in grease covered garages. A whole new life style started, centering around drag race car culture. Leather jackets, white t-shirts, jeans, engineer boots, duck tails and sideburns. The new style flipped over fashion and turned it around from being button down and prep.
There was a new gangster in town.
I remember when I was eight my father explaining that this type of speed demon behavior was responsible for juvenile delinquency.

Flaming Decals.

I started pin striping and adding stickers. I put the number eight and a Valvoline logo on a ’68 Super Bee widebody.
Wasn’t long before I went the other way and handed the hoods over to a body shop and had them Bondo and spray paint them.
Professionally.
Made them look minimal.
Monochromatic.
These new “shields” were a pain in the ass to keep from getting dinged and bumped.
If any part got scratched, the whole surface had to be stripped and repainted.
They were just like the joke paintings. Hard to maintain.
When I finally showed them, not a single one sold.
A year later one of the primer grey hoods sold, a 1970 Dodge Hemi Coronet R/T, with two small air intakes… and three years after it was sold, it was up at auction where it hammered for six hundred and fifty dollars.
Those were the days.

I’ve been fat and I’ve been thin.

Twenty years have passed.
The hoods are starting to get some attention, (traction?). They’re beginning to be referred to as minimalist painting.
My take?
It’s not my problem.
Sometimes it takes a while.
I’m not sure cutting out half your audience with subject matter is the best way to go. Most women don’t give a shit about cars. I’m not sure how to explain why I’ve been attracted, drawn, interested, in how teenagers painted their first “loves.” Something to do with a brand new Pontiac my father bought in 1955? I don’t know. I’ve always been intrigued by the way an eighteen year old will put seven coats of “ginger blue” on ninety-percent of the car and leave a door with just a primer coat. The collision of the finish and the flat makes me wonder. It makes me think about painting. It’s good abstraction.
Today there’s a premium if you get one of my 1991 “hoods” in pristine, unrestored condition.
What can I say?
“There’s a lot of problems in the world but luckily none of them are mine.”
In the book trade if you buy a book with an unrestored dust jacket we call it “an unsophisticated copy.”
That’s what you want.
You want an unsophisticated hood.

Meanwhile…
Back at the ranch.

I was invited to Documenta in 1992.
Jeff Koons wasn’t.
In fact, I heard that the guy in charge of the show… Jan Hoet said, “under no circumstances will Jeff Koons be invited to my Documenta.” I remember… definitely… his words… “under no circumstances.” I’m not sure why Hoet was so against having Jeff in his show but his resolve struck me as hollow, childish, stupid. What was he afraid of? Jeff’s wood? Cicciolina’s asshole?


Last Laugh.
Sour grapes.
Revenge.
Patti Page.
“How much is that doggy in the window”?

However you want to describe it, Jeff stole the show.
He knocked Documenta for a loop.
Jab, faint, uppercut, round robin, windmill, knockout!
A couple of towns over, what seemed like, “on his own”… Jeff installed his giant “Flower Puppy”
.
High Noon.
High Plains Drifter.
“Can I take you higher.”

Jeff Sly Stoned the fuck out Hoet.

Turned out to be one of the great public sculptures in the last fifty years.
Maybe all time.
How did he do this?
Jeff didn’t even have a credit card.
The Puppy was sweet in so many ways.

What is it now? Twenty-two years?

I run into Jeff occasionally, but mostly our time is taken up by work, by our families.
When we do get together it’s always the same. Pleasant. Reassuring.
I gave him an award up in Boston ten years ago. He was being honored by the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. He had asked that I introduce him and hand him some medallion.
Another medallion.
Before the ceremony he gave a lecture. The place was packed and I’ve never seen a more “together” artist’s talk in my life. He was in command.
The reproductions of his work that were projected behind him, translated onto the screen like they were the coming attractions to a major motion picture. He was Art Linkletter, Walt Disney and Larry Flint rolled-up into one.

A snowball in hell.

The one thing I realized as he was going thru the slides of his work, was how seamless everything was. One thing led to another and the work looked like it had been made on the same day. Fully formed. Like all he did was hold out a finger, point it and touch the tip of it to whatever he needed to be made. From the early inflatables to “luxury and degradation” to the now famous “balloon dog.” It looked like he knew what he was doing.
That’s all you can really ask of an artist.

The program he presented was deliberate, precise… bulls/eye.
The best part? Questions from the audience.
He killed it.
No matter how anybody tried to trip him up, his answers were measured, assured, business like.
One word? Astounding.

Off the cuff.
Inside track.
Pole position.
Victory lap.
Jamin…

If I hadn’t been so bowled over, I would’ve sworn he’d been given the questions from the audience before the lecture had started.

Cue cards.
Teleprompter.

Dynamite.

I’ve got a secret.
To tell the truth.
Truth or consequences.
You bet your life.
Kitty Carlisle
Paul Lynde
Peter Marshall
Gary Moore
And Dorothy Kilgallen
Poor Dorothy. She was one of the thirty-two people who either mysteriously disappeared or we’re out right murdered because they knew to much about the Kennedy assassination.

They were all in the audience. Sitting right next to me.

Any others?

Charles Van Doren.
Herb Stempel.
Twenty-One. (The Quiz Show)
The 64 thousand dollar question.
Even Larry Rivers, a contestant on Twenty-One was there.
The fix was in.
And all of it was brought to you by Geritol. An elixir that had absolutely no medicinal value.

There’s no way Koons could be that spontaneous.
Could he?

Bumblebee.
And his timing.

He worked the room. Like when a great comedian goes after a heckler and reverses the insult and shrinks the heckle down to the size of a raisin.

I hadn’t really thought about it until I’d been sitting in the audience, but Koons really did have a job.

My idea of an artist was still touched with a little dirge of romance.
I’ve always associated artists with bohemia. Hanging out, on the dole, begging, smoking cigarettes, drinking coffee, sitting around cafes, putting it off, staying up late, trying to get away with as much as possible. Maynard G. Krebs. Ed “Kookie” Burns. Alfred E. Newman. The uninvited. Marginal. Irreverent. Anti-social. Socially inept. Misguided. Mismatched. Missing in action.

Jeff was none of that.
Professional, straight, all American.
Jeff’s romance was touched with a bit of the Harlequin.

“We won’t get fooled again.”
Or… “Nobody can beat the Wiz.”

He wasn’t up there on stage, coping out.
He wasn’t up there, being vague.
He wasn’t up there being goofy, shucks, gee wilickers.
Or, “I don’t know.”
Was Jeff acting?
Was Jeff an impostor?
Was Jeff standing-in?

An interloper?

Was Jeff doing “the old soft shoe”?
No, no, no…
That might be your impression. But you’d be wrong…
He wasn’t Eddie Haskell. (Look it up.)
Jeff was beyond whatever you thought was out there.

The thing that impressed me the most was he didn’t pose questions…
He gave answers.

So many artists explain away their work with the same lame-ass, larded up bullshit. “My work is about asking questions.”
Okay… you want to ride shotgun, fine… but “Fuck you and the horse you rode in on.”
Questions?
You really want your work to be about asking questions?
Question Mark and Mysterians this motherfucker…

What I want from art is an answer. Something real. A sign. A light. A beacon. A path.
A way to go.
Show me… and I’ll go there.

I saw a sign saying DRINK CANADA DRY. So I went up there.

What I don’t want is hindsight.
What I don’t want is the unknown.
What I don’t want is speculation, fiction, poetry, drift.
Like my hippy dippy sister use to say… “keep it real.”
Keeping it real is a good place to start.


A rearview.

What I took away.
From Jeff.
Up there in Boston.
Was…
The House of Seven Gables.
Edgar Allan Poe.
Walden’s Pond.
Walt Whitman and his Leaves of Grass.
And Whistler’s mother.

I also got the Red Sox.
Fenway Park.
Jimmy Piersall.
Pumpsie Green.
Frank Malzone.
Paul Revere.
(AND the Raiders).
Bunker Hill.
Daniel Webster.
‘The green fields of…Harvard University”.
Mel Lyman and Avatar.
The Orson Welles Cinema.
The Boston Tea party…
And the Boston Strangler.

And more…

Mary Baker Eddy and the Christian Scientists.

And one last thing...

Sam Kinison reincarnated. (Sam, one of the great performance artists. Check out his bit about getting schtupped after he’s dead in the funeral parlor on You-Tube).

But I’m preaching to the choir.

And that’s what Jeff was doing.
Maybe not preaching, but living it large, like 'Lonesome' Rhodes, stumping at his own Boston Bean Town Whistle Stop.
He was shouting, roaring, and smiling from the caboose and the crowd adored him.
Welcome to the Learning Curve.
Master of ceremonies.
His Bob Hope was rocking the mike.

“It all started in my dad’s department store...”

“It’s a small world… but I wouldn’t want to paint it.”
That’s a Boston joke. Delivered by the Boston comedian Steven Wright.
But Jeff didn’t tell it like that.
He changed it.
I think.
I KNOW.
I know what he said was…
“It’s a small world… and I’m going to paint it.”

9/9/2014

Tiny Montgomery says hello.

“You look like a Tudor man to me.”
Not sure why this sentence crashed into my head when I went to Dan Colen’s show the other day. The show just opened at Gagosian on 24th St. The sentence comes from a “bit,” a “sketch,” that Garrett Morris used to do on Saturday Night Live back in the late seventies. Morris was part of the original Saturday Night line-up, the only black comedian on the show and in the bit he played a real estate agent who was a pimp. It was hilarious. He dressed like Super Fly and would saddle up to vanilla white suburbanites and try and sell them a house as if he was peddling sex and flesh. I remember Dan Aykroyd playing the straight role, some rube from Larchmont, and Morris nailing him with that line… “you look like a Tudor man to me.” Maybe the fun doesn’t translate onto the page. Maybe you need the look, the mannerisms, the accent that Morris used in his “sell”.
Sometimes I still throw the voice that Morris used to deliver the line when I’m in the kitchen washing the grease and gravy and the flecks of sea salt off the dishes of a happy meal.

Soaps And Suds

So you’re probably asking… what the fuck?
What’s with the mind memory and what does a Tudor Man have to do with Dan’s show?

All the lords and ladies.
Songs of faded love.
Smokestacks leaning sideways.
Lights down the hallway.
Dead bodies sinking under.
Friends and lovers clinging.
I saw the changing of my world.

I don’t know…
Probably nothing. Probably everything.
I’m still figuring it out.

Dan is showing his “miracle” paintings.
I’ve been watching these paintings evolve over the last three years. I visit Dan’s studio twice a year. The first time I saw one of them it was as if stardust had been sprinkled out of a cartoon character’s wand and arched across a thick soup of glossy sticky paint. The paint felt blended in a cannibal’s big black cooking pot. It had the perfect consistency for catching flies and sawdust and shrinking a head down to the size of a pygmy.

Time out…
Were those three bwana white women floating across a sea of green froth that I saw on the back wall all the way to the left?
No?
Who were they?
Casper, Jellyroll, and Planet Sperm.
The three principal characters in Bwana Devil, a 1952 U.S. “adventure film”, based on the true story of the Tsavo man-eaters and filmed with the Natural Vision 3-D system. (Sparking the first 3-D film craze in motion picture history). The advertising tagline was: The Miracle of the Age!!! A LION in your lap! A LOVER in your arms!

You don’t say?

When I last visited Dan’s studio, the fairy dust was spread out, evenly spaced, like a light snowfall floating around in one of those snow globes and the process of applying the paint to canvas had taken over Dan’s attention. There was no reference to anything Disney. Disney’s wide wide world was now more Cosmos than magic kingdom. Now it was a big big world.
Universe World.
The opening credits of an old episode of Star Trek with the plastic model Starship Enterprise speeding thru the twinkling space of a super nova.

Special Effects.

The paint pour was the attraction and Dan was treating the surface like a tricked out custom car painter. Seven coats of candy apple red. The concoction was a mixture of syrups and clots. (Coagulation). He hacked into Betty Crocker's secret recipe. The ingredients? A bitches brew.

Dan was drinking paint from a can covered in a paper bag.
A tall boy.
“Liquid Rainbow.”

I like what you did with place.

Dan walled off most of the 24th St. gallery.
Turned it into one central room. Modest when compared with the rest of the gallery's available space. I liked the decision. The control of scale helped the nine paintings work as a whole, a kind of “ensemble”. Even though each painting was different, shrinking the gallery to fit the size of the paintings brought just enough presentation into the mix. It was like the room was a frame. And the frame helped the difference disappear and melt the paintings into giant pages of heavenly stories.

When I first saw the Miracle paintings I thought, as a collector, it would be great to put one of these “miracles” next to a “candle” painting, next to a “bird shit” painting. Three on a wall.
I figured the three had a nice time-line, done over the course of the last twelve years, starting with the candles. I’ve always liked the idea of an artist making works that someday show up side by side, and a whole new narrative arrives, takes over… replacing what you had been thinking about all along. (Damn the torpedoes). Wonderful occurrences. Beating the odds. Inexplicable events. All kinds of coincidental shit happens.

All along...

The Watchtower.
An unexpected sameness.
Who would've thought?
Sugar. Flour. Arabic. And slow as molasses.
Cake and confectionery.
Sweet Jesus Mary Chain.
A miracle for sure.

The first two reports I got about Dan’s show were… “mixed.”
Sitting on a fence best describes the position of the reports.
They weren’t sure. They seemed befuddled. They both stuttered when trying to explain their reactions. One fellow ended up spinning out of control and circling the room like he was hopscotching in baby steps across Nabokov’s own hand drawn map of James Joyce’s odyssey in Ulysses.

First time on roller skates.

“See”, he said, “the miracles are based on Chagall’s goat and swift cheese left behind for unsuspecting souls. Hansel and Gretel bread crumbs. A better mousetrap. Goofballs. (I send my wife out for a loaf of bread, but she always finds her way back).

Rimshot.

The shadows and swirls are conspiracies based on shorting electrical current in favor of harnessing waves of pulsating magma emanating from the floorboards of a blown out, hopped-up, first year ’64 Mustang, numero seventy-seven off the assembly line, a one-owner survivor driven only in the dry heat of the Nevada desert with its original sticker shock still folded neatly in the glove compartment. Talk about cherry…”

What the fuck…
Are you talking about?

The other weight…
The other way-in started to scratch herself inside the roof of her mouth and begged off complaining about being late for an annex class at the Learning Center. She said she was supplementing her elastic teased out hair with three star courses on smelting and boiling down the properties of cloud control. It was either "to solder" or smoke jumping, she went on to explain. “I didn’t have a choice,” she said, “I’m afraid of heights and besides, I already own an industrial Dyson hairdryer to keep the creams from spreading into mellows and squish.”

Mash potatoes.

The class she was trusting was being taught by Samuel Adams… yes, that Sam Adams. One in the same. The one in the same who came up with a bathtub concoction of wheat and barley to make a bitter brown halo of beer that he micro managed into one of the largest soda fountains in the recent history of thirst quenching startups.

Refreshment.

“I’m forever blowing bubbles” was her jingle. A one-liner she came up with while doing her homework assignment. But a patent attorney for Bazooka Bubble Gum busted the “pause that refreshes” when he heat-waved her right of first refusal and conked her good with a cease and desist order, hipping her to the fact that any thought of chewing gum you better be a bum or meet your maker and mark your territory with the urine of a tie-die, babbalicious, Dead-Head.
“But I’m a teetotaler,” she told the judge in her deposition.
“My pee is crimson and clover.”

Never Trust A Hippie.

“Take the fifth.”
Advice from her Crazy Guggenheim lawyer.
“Wasn’t one of those paintings “red-handed?” asked the judge.
“Sorry your honor.”
“Sorry my ass,” he said… whipping out his lip balm from a secret pocket sewn into the lining of his paisley patterned vest.
“You call that a liner?” (She says this with a little old lady’s Jewish inflection, as if reacting to a flasher in a raincoat).
Her marbleized eyes glaze.
“Is that a derringer in your hand, or are you just glad to see me?”
“What’s the charge,” demanded the judge.
“Shop lifting”, said the stenographer.
“She stepped out and dipped a rag in currents and jam and jerky and gently applied the goop to a tightly balled-up Capezio t-shirt and hung the shirt on a net less basketball hoop up on 124th St. She shattered the glass of the backboard with a Soul Patch she lifted from Macy's."
“The department store?”
“No, the parade.”
“When?”
“Last night.”
“Where?”
“Downtown.”
“Gee, that’s to bad.”

“Thanksgiving. With ALL the trimmings.”

“Remember The Sylvia Plath,” the bailiff cried to the judge. “Not enough cooks in the kitchen.”

Ship to shore.
All hands on deck.
"Don't you mean REMEMBER THE MAINE?”

“Probation,” the judge howled… slamming his gavel into a coronation of flowers, a juice of yellow, bright as a chicken, seeped into his inky black cotton duck robe.
The gown was quickly removed and displayed, the stains and tell tale signs of resurrection, crucified the jury like a bogus religious shroud. (Despite radiocarbon dating, arguments for both authenticity and possible methods of forgery has neither formally been endorsed or rejected. It’s “an image of association”. Deeply puzzling. In other words, the seared in and hard to see star man chalked into the holy cloth is a minor fuck face miracle).

The task at hand.

Guilty or innocent?
What say ye?
Laughs are cheap.
Remember the Alamo!
Jerry-rigged.

When the squeeze was read… the verdict was makeshift and contrived.
“I’ll take it from here.”
The judge ignored the jury’s engine.
“As long as you class it up with Sam the Sham and his pharaoh. I mean Sammy Davis Junior. I mean Adam and Eve. Whatever his name is…
Yes, I’ve heard your pronouncement dear jury, but tar and feathering will only spoil her complexion.
Sam’s a scholar.
I sentence you to be Sam's intern.
Turn Turn Turn.
Tis the season.
I declare.
Hi De Ho.
Ho Ho Ho.
And Ho Chi Minh.

"Sham Adams is down with Bert Lahr, making skins and scrims with bright lobs of purple bash.
Godot has finally arrived.
He’s onto something new.
He da pharaoh.
I want you to love, worship, and adore him. You wait. You see. He be tripping wid his clementines. He be silver studding his kaleidoscope”.

Here Come Da Judge.

At that, the judge puckered his rump and exploded from behind. A fine film of revelry and confetti coated the courtroom. Farted skid marks blackened the pool size peanut bowl. A skater’s delight. Best way to describe it? A kind of Clockwork Orange of shitty shitty bang bang.

What the fuck?
Even more?
Bly me.
Pardon me while wash my whoopee cushion.

The judge put on a pair of freshly ironed bib overalls.
From chief judicial body to supreme hayseed.
Peanut shells from the peanut bowl were s

BIRDTALK

3/27/2014

Six Inches, Nine Months...

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

3/23/2014

Untitled

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


3/21/2014

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

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

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

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

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


3/20/2014

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

3/18/2014

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

3/17/2014

Today, Vito Acconci is my favorite artist.

I'm two and half years pregnant.

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

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

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


2/12/2014

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

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

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


1/31/2014

It’s all about the last ten minutes.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So?
Sew your buttons on.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

1/24/2014

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

1/12/2014

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

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

1/10/2014

Notes from Budapest...

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

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

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

"See you in the concentration camp". Arthur Koestler

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

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

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

1/8/2014

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

1/07/2014

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

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

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

11/21/2013

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

11/20/2013

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

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

11/14/2013

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

11/8/2013

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

10/3/2013

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Walter Dahn

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

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

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

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

Nothing Fancy.

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

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

TELL ME EVERYTHING

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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

BIRDTALK

11/16/2012

Tell Me Everything

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

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

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

11/15/2012

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

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


11/14/2012

The Deep End

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Nothing wrong with being full of shit.

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

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

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

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

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


11/10/2012

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

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

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

11/9/2012

The Gig Is Up:True of False.

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

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

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

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

11/8/2012

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

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

11/7/2012

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

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

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

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

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

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


11/5/2012

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

11/6/2012

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

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

Apocalypse Now

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

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

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

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

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

I learned about

11/7/2012

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

11/6/2012

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

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

Apocalypse Now

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

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

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

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

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

I learned about

11/5/2012

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

11/3/2012

Bird Is The Word

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

God Save Freddy Mercury.

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

Calling all Avalanche artists.

Christopher Wool knows all to well...

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


10/26/2012

It Ain't Me Babe

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

10/23/2012

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

10/24/2012

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

10/18/2012

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


10/17/2012

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

There's Something About Mary

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

THE JET GENERATION

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

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

10/16/2012

The Jet Generation (Part Two)

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

10/17/2012

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

There's Something About Mary

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

10/8/2012

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

10/7/2012

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

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

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

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

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

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

10/6/2012

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

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

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

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

10/2/2012

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

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


9/12/2012

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


9/7/2012

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

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

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

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

Pegeen Guggenheim

The sound track to the movie the Social Network.

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

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

8/30/2012

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

8/28/12

The Pope’s Butler

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

8/24/2012

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Footheated faces. I have found my new whetstone.

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

As an artist, I am against every state.

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

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

I painted nurses as a protest against myself.

7/29/2012

Let it bleed

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

Chuckwagon

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

7/4/2012

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


7/1/2012

"Horsing Around"

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

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

"Horsing around"?

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

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

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

6/30/2012

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

6/29/2012

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

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

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

6/24/2012

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

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

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

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

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

6/13/2012

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

6/1/2012

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

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

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

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

5/30/2012

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

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

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

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

Is there such a thing as God Paintings?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What was Victor Hugo's real name?

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

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

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

5/23/2012

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


5/22/2012

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

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

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

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


THE QUESTION PAINTINGS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Who chases ambulances? That's right!

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


5/20/2012

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

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

According to my daughter, The Morning Benders.

"Is it safe?"

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

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

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

5/15/2012

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

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

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

Christian Holstad vs. Anish Kapor

Vik Muniz?

5/13/2012

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

5/12/2012

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Going to the Go-Go.

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

Dont' knock the rock.

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


5/5/2012
Praise the Lord!

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

Who loves you baby?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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



4/18/2012

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

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

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

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

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


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

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



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


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

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


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


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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

Is there such a thing as God Paintings?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What was Victor Hugo's real name?

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

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

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

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

How do you paint today? Same as yesterday.

Walt Disney. Walt Kuhn.

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

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