Sunday, December 31, 2006

If Fame were a Stone

Like Sysiphus, I once again confront the stone.

In my case, the stone is fame--more accurately described, perhaps, as the public acknowledgement of my position among(st?) the top-tier portrait painters of my time. Having pushed the stone almost to the top of the hill (see NYTimes, Post, WSJ), I now see that it has rolled back down (see The Naked and the Dead, Mailer [1948]--specifically the howitzer on the muddy hill scene).

The good news? The stone has not, in fact, rolled all the way back down the hill. It is now lodged a few feet above sea level. Progress has been made.

How would I know this? By Googling my name, of course, and seeing that I (meaning me, not just your everyday, rank-and-file Geoffrey Raymond) now come in at #3 in the Geoffrey Raymond references. The other guy is a professor in Australia and up until now he has pretty much dominated this particular patch of Google terrritory.

The reference would be this:

Gothamist: Dear Gothamist: Admire My Dick Grasso

New York, NY (December 4, 2006)—New York portrait painter Geoffrey Raymond is exhibiting al fresco his recent portrait of Richard Grasso in front of the New ... - 45k -

So that's the good news.

For my next act: "Big Dave I (Say It Loud: I'm Black and I'm Proud)." Actually not my next act (which, I swear, is "Big Jim I: Get Up (I Feel Like being a) Sex Machine"), but coming soon to a theatre near you.

Get on up!

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Regarding Comments

Just for the record, as regards the list of comments recounted a few posts earlier from readers of, I should say that the final comment, from a guy whose nomme d'cluelessness was Hamlet, and which read...

It was Shakespeare, William and not Nietszche, Freiderich who wrote that. Stick to smearing pastels around, and leave literature to the literate.
...annoyed me a great deal. I responded with: "It was a joke, you nitwit."

To which there has been no further comment.

This, I suppose, is the price of fame--opening yourself up for nitwits to have their way with you anonymously. I should probably get used to it. And it makes me realize that exiting Corporate America in order to reduce the number of nitwits in my life was a faulty strategy.

I should add that I toyed, for quite a while really, with a more ambitious retort involving a fictional scenario in which Ray Nitschke, recovering on the bench from a grueling defensive series, hands some bottled oxygen to a fellow Packer and says: "O2 Brutus?"

But it was too difficult to make the joke really pop, and I didn't think "Hamlet" was worth all the effort, so I just let it go. There was also the one about the phonetic similarities of the words Hamlet and omelette, but I passed on that one too.

The Relative Merits of Alcohol

My studio is in the building on the Northwest corner of Union Square. On the ground floor, the front doors are flanked by Starbucks and McDonalds.

So it was, the other day, that I stepped out the front door into the zoo that is Union Square on a Greenmarket day. As I crossed the sidewalk, I looked down at my hand, which was literally covered with red and yellow paint. As I did so, a woman next to me cried out, "Oh my God! Do you need some alcohol?"

My first assumption was that she was offering to buy me a martini. Which, although she wasn't really my type, seemed like a pretty good offer, given the year I've been having. Then I realized that she thought I was bleeding.

"It's just paint," I explained.

Later, replaying the scene in my mind while actually having a martini (if a Tanqueray on the rocks with four olives is, really, a martini--which, by the way, I'm suggesting it isn't), I determined that there's no such thing as just paint.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Rest In Peace

Ice Cream and Fathers

Am enjoying Marisha Pessl's "Special Topics in Calamity Physics." Am particularly enjoying the depiction of the father/daughter relationship (of which I have 2) by an astute young woman, albeit a fictional one. That said, the much-publicized good looks of the author do, on occasion, as I stare longly at the inside back flap of the dust jacket, make me give some specific thought to being her daddy, but only in the way suggested leeringly by the most sordid use of the term.

Anyway, on a purer note, the daddy in the book announces one day in the supermarket: "America's greatest revelation was not the atom bomb, not Fundamentalism, not fat farms, not Elvis, not even the quite astute observation that gentlemen prefer blondes, but [rather] the great heights to which she has propelled ice cream."


I'm not sure yet where the book is going, but this is the sort of line that's making me enjoy the journey. And speaking of journeys, I've been taking several lately, and will continue to do so, between New York and Leesburg, Virginia, up and down Route 95 like a yo-yo, to assist my father through a difficult medical moment. On my last trip down I spent a lot of time listening to "James Brown: Live at the Apollo (1962)" and decided to start appending the titles of James Brown songs to the titles of my portraits. To this end, the title scrawled across my upcoming painting of Jim Cramer will be "Big Jim I: Get Up (I Feel Like Being Like A) Sex Machine."

Which does make me giggle.

As follow up, certainly one must consider a portrait of David Letterman entitled "Big Dave I: (Say It Loud--I'm Black and I'm Proud)" --the rationale for which should be immediately obvious. On a more mean-sprited note, perhaps "Big Maria I: Hot Pants (She Got To Use What She Got To Get What She Wants)," which is doing Ms. Bartiroma a clear disservice and should perhaps more rightly be reserved for Julie Chen or Willow Bay, but they're not on Wall Street and I am the Painter of Record for the intersection of finance and politics, and this title too makes me smile.

"James Brown: Live at the Apollo (1962)" is often labeled one of the best live albums ever. I would disagree, suggesting in its place certainly "Bob Marley Live" and about ten bootleg Bruce Springsteen concerts.

Nonetheless, Wikipedia notes: In 2003, the album was ranked number 24 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time. In 2004, it was one of 50 recordings chosen that year by the Library of Congress to be added to the National Recording Registry.

24 seems high to me. Still, it is full of surprises and more good clean fun than you should be allowed to have at 80 miles per hour.

I may be posting less in the next several weeks. Bear with. Sometimes not painting is painting too.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006


Herewith, comments (including one of mine) from the recent coverage in Wall Street's a cold place.

That said, I'm good with people saying what they want, with the exception of the very last guy (who ID'd himself as Hamlet). And he's a freaking nimrod. I may not be able to paint worth a shit, but I can assure you I know who said "there are more things in heaven and earth than dreamt of in your philosophy," and it wasn't Ray Nitschke.

scary picture

This THING is worth $1000 tops. Of course it will sell for a $10,000 or whatever absurd amount they think of next.

Hey, I wonder how much Raymond pays to feature this crap...? Just wondering.

Raymond doesn't pay us a dime. But we like the idea of artists paying attention to Wall Street, and not just the size of the wallets on Wall Street.

I hope you mean "artists" in the broad, vague, abstract, indefinable sense of the term...

"This THING is worth $1000 tops. Of course it will sell for a $10,000 or whatever absurd amount they think of next."

And now you've figured out investment banking!

Quattrone (?) writes, in response to some guy named (about three times) Charles:

---"This THING is worth $1000 tops. Of course it will sell for a $10,000 or whatever absurd amount they think of next."

And now you've figured out investment banking!---

I'm not an investment banker, but I am an artist. I am, in fact, the artist in question (using the broadest, vaguest, most abstract sense of the term). And what I can tell you is this:

The painting is not worth $1,ooo. It's worth about $125 bucks, most of which goes to the wooden stretchers, canvas and paint.

If someone decides to pay more, then that's the art world. If they pay #3,500--the opening bid--then so be it. If they pay 10,000, ditto. But in the end, what I know is this: I stand next to this painting when people see it for the first time and they are either pleased, annoyed, provoked to thoughts they might otherwise not have engaged, or some other experience. Mostly, I can tell you, their experience is one of pleasure.

What they choose to pay for that experience is their business, and my business, but not likely yours.

It was, I believe, either Nietzsche or Nitschke (whoever wasn't the Packer) who said: "There are more things on heaven and earth than dreamt of in your philosophy."

So either bid or shut up. But spare me, and us, your ill-considered intellectual ejaculate.

I of course can't speak for the other chaps, but my intellectual ejaculate is extremely well-considered.

It was Shakespeare, William and not Nietszche, Freiderich who wrote that.

Stick to smearing pastels around, and leave literature to the literate.

What's a zero, one way or another?

It has come to my attention that the compensation pool for the Goldman Sachs employees is not $1.6 billion, but $16 billion and some change. If this is in fact true, then the title of "Big Lloyd I (.6 Billion)" contains a whopping typographical error. My original understanding was that the bonus pool (excluding all other compensation) stood at 1.6 fat ones, and I still have trouble believing that I screwed it up quite so dramatically.

Some wags will likely observe that this is why I'm a painter and not an investment banker.

More to the point, however, is what the hell to do now? By happenstance, I see that if I just take the "." (essentially a dot) and extend it upwards with more paint, I could net out (banking term) at "Big Lloyd I (16 Billion)."

This seems like the coward's way out. I'm leaving it the way it is--at least that's the way I feel right now. I'm in too deep to start paddling backwards now.

Shall I Give You My Number?

-Goldman Sachs and Company
-Lloyd Blankfein please
-One moment please
(Brief delay as I am put through)
-Mr. Blankfein's office

-Is Mr. Blankfein available?
-I'm sorry. He's in a meeting right now. May I ask who is calling.
-My name is Geoffrey Raymond. I'm the guy who's exhibiting the painting of Mr. Blankfein across the street.
(Long silence. Almost Pinteresque.)
-Are you aware of the painting?
-We are definitely aware of it.
-Well, I'm just calling to invite Mr. Blankfein to come down and see the painting for himself.
-And your name again, sir?
-Geoffrey Raymond
(Brief silence)
-Shall I give you my number?
-No thank you.
-Okay then, have a nice day.
-You too, sir.

(All dialogue verbatim, more or less)

I should point out that whoever I spoke with could not have been nicer or more professional. However, it did STING a bit, I must admit, when she told me she didn't want my telephone number.

I'm reminded of the time my brother stepped on a Portuguese Man-of-War on the beach in Florida when we were both kids. Man, he was hopping around like nobody's business. Now I guess I know how he felt.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Quick Phonetic Note

"Big Lloyd I (.6 Billion)" is pronounced "Big Lloyd: One Point Six Billion."

It is, of course, a reference to the much-discussed total compensation pool for GS employees. Surely some portion of this gargantuan sum will be used to purchase Big Lloyd.

Likewise, "Big Dick I (Hundred Million)" follows the same slightly skewed phonetic pattern. And it too is, of course, a reference to money--in this case the amount of money Eliot Spitzer (soon to be "Big Eliot I (Tough S.O.B.") wants Dick Grasso to give back.

The Charge of the Light Brigade


Half a league, half a league,
Half a league onward,
All in the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.
"Forward, the Light Brigade!
"Charge for the guns!" he said:
Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.


"Forward, the Light Brigade!"
Was there a man dismay'd?
Not tho' the soldier knew
Someone had blunder'd:
Their's not to make reply,
Their's not to reason why,
Their's but to do and die:
Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.


Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon in front of them
Volley'd and thunder'd;
Storm'd at with shot and shell,
Boldly they rode and well,
Into the jaws of Death,
Into the mouth of Hell
Rode the six hundred.


Flash'd all their sabres bare,
Flash'd as they turn'd in air,
Sabring the gunners there,
Charging an army, while
All the world wonder'd:
Plunged in the battery-smoke
Right thro' the line they broke;
Cossack and Russian
Reel'd from the sabre stroke
Shatter'd and sunder'd.
Then they rode back, but not
Not the six hundred.


Cannon to right of them,
Cannon to left of them,
Cannon behind them
Volley'd and thunder'd;
Storm'd at with shot and shell,
While horse and hero fell,
They that had fought so well
Came thro' the jaws of Death
Back from the mouth of Hell,
All that was left of them,
Left of six hundred.


When can their glory fade?
O the wild charge they made!
All the world wondered.
Honor the charge they made,
Honor the Light Brigade,
Noble six hundred.

I am surprised that nowhere in the Charge of the Light Brigade are the words Goldman Sachs mentioned. For surely my trundle down to 85 Broad Street with "Big Lloyd I (.6 Billion)" rolled and tucked under my arm would reckon rightly amongst the tale of these brave folk.

You think this stuff is easy?

Anyway, uneasily we stood on opposite sides of Broad Street. The office of Goldman Sachs, which would of course be this:

And my painting of that company's chairman, which would of course be this:

Like two colossi. Neither blinking.

I'm reminded of the battle between the Union and Confederate soldiers at Antietam, as they stood eye to eye, less than 8 meters apart, across the chasm known as the sunken road.

Waiting. Waiting for the first move.

Then, out come the cellphones. Photos taken. Watchers appear on the eBay listing. The process begins. With it begins my Mercedes fantasy of several previous posts ago.

Life is, I guess, good.

This would, of course, be me:

Half a league. Half a league.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Vacation Is Over

It wasn't really much of a vacation--just some time out to read a (surprisingly long--150,000 words by my count) detective novel. And while I enjoyed "Double Whammy" quite a bit, I was reminded of Woody Allen's theory that his films should run no more than 90 minutes. Otherwise they bog down. Note to Mr. Hiaasen.

In truth, I was back in the studio Friday evening, experiencing such a spasm of creative energy that I was shaking like I'd just had five beatnik speedballs.

Are you familiar with this term?

For context, Wikipedia writes the following re. actual speedballs:

Actors John Belushi, Chris Farley, and River Phoenix, comedian Mitch Hedberg, former Major League Baseball pitcher Eric Show, keyboardist Brent Mydland of The Grateful Dead, drummer Robbie McIntosh from Average White Band, as well as Alice in Chains' singer, Layne Staley are all reported to have died after taking speedballs. There is speculation of Jim Morrison's death being attributable to speedballing. Depeche Mode lead singer, Dave Gahan, suffered a heart attack from overdosing on a speedball in 1996. He survived the incident and later gave up the drug. Original Guns N' Roses drummer Steven Adler suffered a stroke after taking a particularly potent speedball. While he survived, he now lives with a speech impediment as a result. Megadeth members Dave Mustaine and David Ellefson also admitted using speedballs in the band's Behind The Music documentary. Ellefson was quoted saying "It was great, the heroin helped you come off the cocaine. Now I knew why everyone did speedballs at that time, but not that everyone DIED from it... I forgot that part...". Red Hot Chili Peppers frontman Anthony Kiedis admitted to doing speedballs in his autobiography Scar Tissue. David Crosby says in his autobiography "Long Time Gone" that in his later years of hard drug addiction, he would freebase-smoke cocaine and snort or smoke heroin. Miles Davis stated in his autobiography on page 335, that during a period of heavy cocaine use, he occasionally injected speedballs as well.
But we are not talking about this product. We are talking about beatnik speedballs. A beatnik speedball is a cup of coffee and a margarita. Hardened users will sometimes substitute a double espresso. In any case, five of them leaves you feeling like nobody's business, whatever that means, although your lips, I would imagine, do get cracked from all that salt.

And just for the record, I was shaking like I'd had five of the damned things. It's a simile. In truth I was stone sober. But I was painting up a storm, and as of last night, I had my next Wall Street Macher almost completely done.

This would be him:

Or her. I'm giving away nothing, but the finished painting will be on Wall Street tomorrow.

By the way, for those interested, this is what many of my paintings look like before I start throwing pigment. The outline (painted with a brush) and the remains of the pencil sketch.

Also for those interested, here's an older painting in which I just decided to stop and leave it as it was. It was part of a series I was doing about the fine line between religious and sexual ecstasy, and it entitled "St. Joan (Receives the Spirit of the Lord)".

Knowing when to stop is always important. Note to Mr. Hiaasen.

I am awfully fond of St. Joan even though some people find it troubling. And it is whopping big--almost 7 feet tall and perhaps five and a half feet wide. She fills a room.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Just Dropping In

Still on vacation, but I thought I'd step away from dead bodies in the Everglades and crooked big-time bass fishermen to share Heather Corcoran's fun, although slightly edgy piece on me in the New York Resident.

Entitled "Will Paint for $$", it would of course be this:

I had hoped it would be longer, and with a photo. Still, I wrote Heather a quick note back thanking her for the coverage and closed it with the question: "Don't we all paint for money?"

The answer to which is, of course, of course.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

And Now a Vacation

And now I'm going on vacation.

Not a real vacation. Unless you think the word vacation and the phrase itinerant painter suggest things that are one in the same.

But I picked up a Carl Hiaasen (try spelling that three times quickly) novel last night and started reading it. Entitled "Double Whammy," it was written in the late 80s--way back before Carl jumped the shark.

He did? you ask. Yes, I answer. More specifically, the moment he wrote the words "Jimmie and the Slut Puppies" in the novel "Basket Case," the shark was jumped.

"Clever has to come natural-like. The minute you start tryin' too hard, it comes out as what we call 'too clever by half.' And that stuff smells like week-old chicken right out of the box."
This is me channeling my inner Hiaasen.

Unfortunately, Carl himself's been running on too-clever-by-half for about five years now. The fact that I read every new thing he writes only adds to the shame I'm feeling about my $3,050.00 (everybody squint!) trip to the eBay store.

But in the old days, he could really put the stuff together. And now that he's got his hook in me, I think I'm just gonna float around in the shallows for a few days, try to keep the tension off the line, maybe scratch around for a decent picture of Jim Cramer (finding one that doesn't make him look like a complete idiot is no mean challenge).

I'm reminded of the Floating Men. More specifically:

I don’t ever get lost anymore
I’m never falling behind
‘Cause I don’t care where I wind up sleeping
And nobody notices what time I arrive
It feels like a Sunday morning out
I’m guessing it’s June
Maybe that highway leads to paradise
Maybe it leads to the fountain of youth

I’m going to hire me a spotlight
And the finest crowd that money can buy
I’m going to build me a grandstand
And stand around staring down at the barren ground
Of this invisible life

I don’t dream about wealth anymore
And I don’t let myself dream about fame
And I refuse to dream about the poacher’s daughter
Or the laughter at midnight in the mud and the rain
I’ve given up on ever joining the rodeo
But I’d still make one hell of a spy
I know I’ll never be a Hollywood Romeo
I’m too easy to see through and so hard to find

I’m going to hire me a spotlight
And the finest crowd that money can buy
I’m going to build me a grandstand
And stand around staring down at the barren ground
Of this invisible life

It’s a glorious world out here
And I’m a glorious man
And it’s a glorious day to wait around for a tow truck
With both axles stuck in the sugar-white sand
It feels like a Sunday morning out
Hell, maybe it’s noon
Maybe that highway leads to the ocean
And maybe it leads to the moon

I’m going to hire me a spotlight
And the finest crowd that money can buy
I’m going to build me a grandstand
And stand around staring down at the barren ground
Of this invisible life

These guys' obsession with the poacher's daughter is something to hear. More specifically:

I’ve got my hat pulled down
I’ve got my toes in the water
Floating down the river getting drowsy from the heat
And I can close my eyes and see the poacher’s daughter
Barefoot on a sandbar with a straw in her teeth

Are those Manolo Blahniks?

The Very First One

From the collection of Charles and Wynne Sachs-Cedar Susswein, of Brooklyn, NY, comes this:

It would of course be my first dripped figurative painting--a self-portrait. A picture of me! Painted circa 2000.

I think I looked better then than I did in my Wall Street Journal interview. Leaner, I'm thinking.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006


And here's another, in a different format...

Easier to read, although requiring two clicks, but who knew the second two boxes were shorter than the first two.

Do the best you can.

Further to Kurtz and Willard...

They're never taking me back, by the way.

This is a reference to a previous post recounting my moment of self discovery...that I was not, in fact, Captain Willard but rather, Colonel Kurtz.

Thus, the first appearance (for those of you who pay close attention and obsessively comb the archives searching for arcana) of Chatham's Review, a graphic story about a movie reviewer who is obsessed with his therapist's feet.

Hijinks ensue...

I'm too far upriver. I can't go back!

Are those Manolo Blahniks?

Just For The Record

Just for the record, that whole Mercedes thing was never going to happen anyway. But what I am going to do with my shiny new $3,050 is go down to that shoe store in the Manhattan Mall--the one with two first names, like Ben and Jerry, but not that--and buy a pair of Starbury shoes. These are, of course, the affordable (15 bucks) basketball shoes introduced by Stephon Marbury, the deeply-flawed but in this one instance very much with his head on straight point guard of the New York Knickerbockers.

Fun to write that last word out.

It will be interesting to see what a 15 dollar shoe feels like compared to the $100+ Nikes I once employed for the purpose of flying through the air like David Thompson.

Monday, December 11, 2006

The Relative Merits of Fame, Volume III

Despite the less than steller showing at auction, I have now checked off a second item in my three-item list of those things I assumed fame would bring me. That being, of course, a version of being recognized in the street.

Actually it wasn't me who was recognized, but rather my painting. A man came up to me this morning, just before noon, and said, incredulously, "Is that 'Big Dick One?'"

He had read about it someplace and was amazed to see the thing in person. This did make me smile.

Massive Setback

We have experienced what can only be called a massive setback in our Grasso Initiative. That being: those who lie quietly in the wings, obscured by shadows, waiting, with the intention of swooping in at the last minute and taking the prize, failed to swoop.

So-called eBay "Watchers," they presumably look something like this:

In the end, a gentleman from Californina--of all places--bought "Big Dick I (Hundred Million)" for $3,050.00. Thank you very much for your support, sir.

Funny thing--if you squint your eyes and look at the dollar figure in the previous graph, it almost looks like three million and change. This, I suppose, is something to shoot for.

To the watchers who failed to jack this number into the stratosphere I would say this:

"Surely you've read Hamlet!"

Me? Well ... no Mercedes for me, that much is certain.

Truth be told, I had hoped to land north of five grand with the outside chance of cracking into five figures. Nonetheless, I am sanguine about prospects going forward. I've settled on Jim Cramer as my next subject, likely followed by Maria Bartiromo (the thought of which makes me giggle) and then Henry Poulson, former chairman of Goldman Sachs and current Treasury Secretary.

Sunday, December 10, 2006


We are 19 hours and eleven minutes from the close of auction, with three bids in and 12 watchers waiting. While the current bid is nowhere near where I think it both will go and should go, nonetheless my heart, as that guy said to Dustin Hoffman in "Little Big Man," soars like an eagle, my enthusiasm tempered only by the shellacking the Jets just took from the Buffalo Bills.

My friend Stan's therapist used to say: "Life at best is only 80%."

I guess this would be that.

Friday, December 08, 2006

The Relative Merits of Fame, Continued

Earlier, while reflecting about the relative merits of the fame I have achieved, I mused:

I had assumed that more people would stare at me on the street; buy me beers at the Peter McManus cafe; offer to sleep with me. None of this has happened.

Well halleluiah, Brother. One of these things has now happened. Am working as diligently as I can on the other two.

The Journal Weighs In

The Wall Street Journal has now weighed in with a pretty straight-forward blurb on it's website. But what is good clean fun is the accompanying video. In retrospect, I might have rethought the Virginia sweatshirt...but let me tell you, it was cold out there and fashion comes in second to survival.

Click here for both blurb and link to video.

I'm also a little troubled by my double chin.

War Is Hell

Whoever came up with that particular phrase obviously never sold art on eBay. I find it frustrating, even though I understand the reality of the situation, that Big Dick I has been hanging with one bid for several days.

All's quiet, as they say, on the Western Front.

The reality of the situation--as mentioned above--is that there is no real benefit to bidding early in the eBay environment. When you add to this the idea that potential purchasers likely are all Wall Street professionals--savvy to the subtlties of deals, transactions, and auctions of all sorts--it is pretty easy to predict that nothing is going to happen between now and sometime early Monday afternoon. So I just have to sit tight; act like a man.

But at that point, that blessed moment on Monday afternoon, the shit will hit the fan (from my mouth to God's ears) and the bidding will take off. And then the eSnipers will emerge in the last ten minutes or so, adding their additional fever to the already smoking-hot proceedings, and when all is said and done, having consumed a fair quantity of Champagne, I will emerge from my office a happy man, step into 19th street, hail a cab and tell him to go to 536 West 41st Street, where I will place an order for a shiny red Mercedes CLS63 coupe--the one with the AMG performance package; a Deutsche Rod if ever there was one. A hammer with which to smite the Autobahn. A rocket-sled for the new Millenium.

In silver, it would be this:

But I'm afraid the silver doesn't scream mid-life crisis quite loud enough. Thus the red; and thus the AMG package.

It reminds me, particularly from the side, of the '86 Cadillac Seville that I bought from Mr. Italy, Mario Perillo, some number of years ago. The one with the strange bustle-back and high hip line.

And look, now it's red...although with perhaps too much ruby in it. I want real red, hot-rod red, not some bullshit version of red that automotive stylists think is red but which is really some bizarre take on brown.

The New York Times said, upon the car's introduction, that to view it from the rear quarter was to see a sight so beautiful you almost cried.

To paraphrase Harold Brodkey: "To see a car like this in sunlight is to see Marxism die."

It remains one of the few material possessions I crave.

Thursday, December 07, 2006


Herewith, several comments taken from web coverage of the Grasso Initiative:
Is it just me, or does Raymond himself have a small head?
I hope that painting is on velvet.
That one does sting a bit. But finally, from an email to me:
A great painting... of an ugly man ... ONLY a great ARTIST could find something for the ages in something inherently mundane: Greed. I hope you get a lot more than you are asking for this ... And in the meantime, I hope you don't get arrested !
Which made me feel better, especially that last part.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

The Relative Merits of Fame

Seemingly well on my way to achieving my goal of being the pre-eminent portrait painter of the 21st Century, it may be worthwhile to pause and reflect on fame. In a nutshell, it's not all it's cracked up to be--assuming of course you are wearing underwear. Which I am. Shorty boxers.

Anyway, I had assumed that more people would stare at me on the street; buy me beers at the Peter McManus cafe; offer to sleep with me. None of this has happened.

The reason I bring the whole thing up is that my Dick Grasso on Wall Street initiative has struck a chord with the media. In the last 24 hours, the story has appeared in the electronic edition of The New York Times (be still my heart--honestly); the New York Post, both print and electronic editions (but with whom I'm no longer speaking due to a snarky comment on the web version); and two of my favorite websites: gawker and the gothamist.

Text from a rather thoughtful NYTimes would be this:

Wall Street chiefs are often buyers of art, but rarely the subject of it. Nevertheless, an artist named Geoffrey Raymond says he found inspiration in the legal battle between Richard Grasso, the former chairman of the New York Stock Exchange, and Eliot Spitzer, the New York attorney general. Mr. Raymond has created a rather arresting portrait of Mr. Grasso, which he is hawking on the sidewalk outside the exchange where Mr. Grasso once worked. The al fresco exhibition comes as Mr. Grasso continues to fight Mr. Spitzer’s efforts to force him to give back part of the $140 million pay package he received as the head of the exchange.

Called “Big Dick I (Hundred Million),” the portrait shows a frowning Mr. Grasso with bulging eyes and white squiggles that seem to orbit around his head. The painting is also for sale on eBay, as pointed out yesterday, with a minimum bid of $2,500. (As of early Wednesday, there were no takers.)

“Richard Grasso is either a hero or a villain, plus he has an interesting looking head,” Mr. Raymond said in a press release about his portrait that was posted on the Gothamist blog.

The reaction from Wall Street’s workers seems to be generally positive. “Just about everyone had something nice to say about Grasso,” Mr. Raymond told The New York Post. “I’m surprised how well liked he was.”

Mr. Raymond gives a minute-by-minute (or nearly so) rundown of his day on Wall Street on his blog, Year of Magical Painting. A sample entry from yesterday at 12:21: “Lovely visit from NYSE security guys. Once I explain what’s up, they really couldn’t be any nicer.”

I would add that actually broke the story, and I particularly liked their mention of's sobriquet: "The mad portraitist of 7th Avenue."

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Once More Into the Breach

Herewith the blow-by-blow of today's visit to Wall Street:

11:45 am--Eat a 6" Subway BMT on Italian with oil, vinegar AND mayo. No onion, but hot peppers. Wash it down with a glass of wine staring out the window of my studio at Union Square.
11:55 am--Board the Number 4 for the trip to Wall Street, carrying with my the rolled up "Big Dick I (Hundred Million)" and some miscellaneous stuff
12:15 pm--I find myself standing on Broad Street, facing the front entrance of the fabled NYSE.
12:20--I unroll and restretch Big Dick, set myself up for business just across the street, next to the subway entrance.
12:21--Lovely visit from NYSE security guys. Once I explain what's up, they really couldn't be any nicer.
12:45--Japanese tourist asks me to take a picture of his group. I agree to do so in exchange for his taking a picture of me with my camera. This would be that:

1:15--No fewer, by approximate count, than 20 Exchange employees have taken pictures of me with their cellphone cameras.
1:20--My body begins to rebel; says something to the effect of "Baby, it's cold outside." I nod my head in agreement
1:30--I'm pleased with the amount of general, positive interaction I'm having with passers-by. The general Grasso sentiment is quite positive.
1:32--That said, one guy walks by, asks "How much?" I tell him it's on eBay with a starting bid of $2,500. He responds: "That's a lot for a picture of a son of a bitch."
1:37--I get a hard, cash offer that exceeds the amount of money I paid for my first car (a 1961 Triumph TR-3, purchased in 1972. You do the math.)
1:38-I'm amused when my would-be benefactor explains that many people have been staring at the painting from their office windows. I look up and see a few. Wave and smile. Mouth the word "eBay" but doubt if the message gets through.
1:38--I think for a nanosecond before demurring, explaining that I wanted the eBay process to run its course, for better or worse.
2:15--My body pipes up again, this time shouting that it is time to go home.
2:30--I'm wrapped up and entering the subway.
2:45--I've been in the steam bath at the gym for two steam cycles now, and as I reach down to massage my feet, my toes are still cold to the touch.

My plan for tonight is to meet a friend at J.D.'s pub, drink a bunch of beer and eat Wee-Burgers, unquestionably the best sliders in the world.

Tomorrow, based on information gleaned from my new security buddies, I will again bait my hook for Leviathan; re-enter the breach. If that's not mixing metaphors.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Grasso on Wall Street Again

Tomorrow (Tuesday), I am taking "Big Dick I (Hundred Million)" to Wall Street for an al fresco exhibition in front of the NYSE in coordination with the painting's availability on eBay.

It's hard to tell, but the signature (GVR 11-25-06) can be seen just above his shoulder on the left side of the painting. The title [Big Dick I (Hundred Million) ] is written across the top of the painting as well. Because pthalo green against black is almost impossible for the camera to read, you can't see it here, but you can in person.

When I have sold Big Dick, I am moving on to other controversial Wall Street machers. Hank Greenberg is high on my list, as is Frank Quattrone.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Weapons of Mass Destruction

Good news for both Judith Miller and the Bush Administration! Proof of the allegedly-fictitious Weapons of Mass Destruction now exists. You can see traces of them in this picture. Notably the sticks, the cans of paint, the little dishes and tins...

How do I know? Because just yesterday I used them to turn an otherwise promising picture...

Into this:


Now there are likely those who might yawn at such a statement, suggesting that I'm always bitching and moaning about how things are going to hell in a handbasket (whatever that means), only to find that somehow, several iterations later, things have returned to a satisfactory, possibly even improved state. And I suppose there is some merit to that position.

I push back by saying that what has been lost in the passage between the two images cannot--repeat, CANNOT--be regained. And that, in a nutshell, is the translucence of the first image, now marred by some ill-conceived flings on my part, as evidenced by the second.

Regarding the promise held by the first image? If Kafka were here, he'd tell you, "You can't get there from here."