On July 4th, 2006, I embarked on a quest to become the pre-eminent American portrait painter of the 21st century. This blog chronicles that journey. With apologies to Joan Didion, I call it THE YEAR OF MAGICAL PAINTING.
Wednesday, June 20, 2012
In my usual self-destructive way, I've been wrestling like a mofo with the production concept behind my planned Kickstarter video--the video designed to accompany my pitch for cash to go to Europe and paint that financial crisis.
Meet the new boss. Same as the old boss. Nicely said. Thank you.
Anyway, I could see it going something like this, except that instead of attempting to stop the abuse of women on the internet I'll be attempting to separate the viewer from roughly twentyfivehundreddollars. If that's just one word.
<iframe src="http://player.vimeo.com/video/44117178" width="500" height="281" frameborder="0" webkitAllowFullScreen mozallowfullscreen allowFullScreen></iframe> <p><a href="http://vimeo.com/44117178">Ill Doctrine: All These Sexist Gamer Dudes Are Some Shook Ones</a> from <a href="http://vimeo.com/animalnewyork">ANIMALNewYork.com</a> on <a href="http://vimeo.com">Vimeo</a>.</p>
Update moments later: Not sure why the vimeo imbed code isn't working. Kind of takes the wind out of the post's sails.
This is a great photo from the NYTimes of a Keith Haring painting titled "Matrix" currently on view at the Brooklyn Museum...
"Certain artists are always with me. And surely Picasso is one of them."
This from Billy deKooning. Searching for the exact quote, I googled the phrase "Picasso is always with me" and ended up here. Which, if you aren't one to click through, is a TYOMP entry from 2006 titled "Picasso is always with me/Everybody must get stoned". It features a half-done painting of a waitress from Elmo which, in hindsight, I should have left half finished. It looks way cooler in this post than the final product does. Knowing when to stop is the key, my friends.
Me? I've got a list. Picasso's right near the top. So's Pollock. I guess Keith Haring had a similar list because this is nothing if not Pollockesque. Which is obvious, and accordingly, hardly an original thought, but there it is.
I sometimes get the urge to do something like this, but with neatly printed sentences. Excerpts from my paintings. Wall Street stuff. I haven't fully figured it out, but the first sentence, starting in the upper left hand corner, as befits any first sentence, in our part of the world at least, reads something like "You won't be finding any fucking 'radiant babies' here, but what you will find..."
Something like that. Just so we know going in that a debt to Haring is being paid. Or rather, acknowledged, since no money will exchange hands. We're not trying to fool anybody here, readers. Homage. Or fromage. Whichever isn't the cheese.
FYI, this is a radiant baby:
And there's plenty of them in this--the above painting shot from the other side.
Its a big one. Ink on paper, too. Which is fun because I have a huge roll of paper just waiting for some ink.
The more I see this guy's work, the fonder I become of it. Although I wouldn't say "Haring is always with me", because he's not.
This is slightly changed from before, as people submit the odd comment. I'm fond of the line on the right edge (which, in order to decipher, you have to double click the photo), reading "Note to subcommittee: Those are the toughest questions you've got?"
You'd be surprised how many people send me naked photos of themselves. This is based on one:
A subset ask if I have any of myself I can send back. Thus, for you completists, consider this:
Shot in the mid-70s and titled "Self Portrait with Pentax" it speaks quite directly to the notion of camera as phallus. Plus, check out the aviators and my nascent 'fro. It was during this period of my life that I was widely considered one of the great white leapers of my time.
Brief personal aside: Typically I'd wear three pairs of socks when playing basketball. The first pair would be tube socks with a couple of stripes that I'd pull up as high as I could--just below the knee. The second pair would be plain white, which I'd also pull up--about mid-calve. The third pair would be another set of striped tube socks, older ones; usually a bit stretched out. I'd put them on inside out, then fold the tops down over my shoes, thus exposing the stripes as they were meant to be seen. Jazzy sort of spats, if you will. A nod to the Nicholas Brothers and the improvisational nature of basketball. I was typically wearing orange canvas high-top Chuck Taylor All-Stars, but at some point switched to leather Nikes. Majestic was the word that came to mind at the time.
Also note the definition in my lower abdomen. Surely we've all seen this:
Same thing. It's like I'm Adonis. Or Jim Morrison!
I also think I have artistic hands.
These belong to Georgia O'Keefe, just for reference.
It wouldn't be a race without naked protesters and riot police
If you haven't been paying attention, the students of Canada (either all of it or just in Montreal--I'm not sure) have been using civil disobedience as a way of protesting hikes in tuition. Since the GP of Canada is a highly visible event, there was much activity last weekend.
My friends and I were sitting outside drinking margaritas (the making of which appears to be Montreal's Achilles heel) when ten thousand or so students shambled by, chanting and banging pots. Adding to the fun, some of them chose to protest in some version of nudity. This girl was wearing red panties and nothing much else.
Honestly, how much fun is that?
Two nights later, things became a bit more serious. The dark horizontal line in the background is actually a formation of riot police. And we're really talking riot police--helmets with face masks, billy clubs and leg protection similar to what a baseball catcher wears.
In spite of all this (and I must say we saw zero actual violence and both sides seemed to behave with generally good intentions), and the fact that Lewis Hamilton won the thing going away (you'll remember that our mantra was "anybody but Hamilton"), I had a lovely time.
More on the race later. I'm still a bit too upset from watching people roll by my boy Alonso like he was in the slow lane of the NY Thruway.
I'm moving to Montreal. What a fabulous city. And I don't give a shit about hockey.
That said, consider the fans of the Edmonton Oilers singing the Canadian national anthem before a playoff game.
Hard to imagine this ever happening in the US, and hard to imagine the Anaheim Ducks winning that game. Near the end, they cut to the picture of the Ducks goalie and he's seems to be laughing to himself as if to say, "Oh my God, we are already screwed."
If we learned only one thing from the recent Olympics, it was that Canada has the best national anthem of all.
Armed with this knowledge, plus some fairly expensive tickets (more than the cost of seeing the Rolling Stones at Madison Square Garden a few years ago), I depart tomorrow morning for Montreal.
I'm a dreamer. Montreal.
The purpose of my visit is to witness the Grand Prix of Canada. And hopefully to watch Kimi Raikkonen finish first in his shiny black Lotus. Fernando Alonso in his shiny red Ferrari is the fall-back position. Anybody but Hamilton is the mantra.
The reason anybody but Hamilton is the mantra is because the man's a whiner. Scheduled to make 30 million next year--salary alone--would it kill you to stop moping around?
And one which wasn't meaningless at all if you are a Mets fan who's been waiting 51 years and 8020 games for a no-hitter. But for you emotionally stunted, for those of you to whom wins and losses are the only metric, who really cares about one game in early June?
Me? A great deal.
I was in New York for the game and otherwise involved. Completely missed it. Imagine going? Dog! But I said to myself, surely the good people at SNY will rebroadcast the game at some point. And they, as if in response, did just that last night. And I, gentle reader, was ready.
And tears were shed. Not by me, although I did get a little misty and couldn't stop grinning. But tears, I'm here to tell you, were shed throughout the Mets Nation.
Johan Santana. The perfect guy to make Mets history. Not just a good guy, but a warrior. A lion.
To paraphrase L. Frank Baum: a lion, a tiger and a bear.
Best lyric, of course, is "... and he's dying to get at her." Several things going through my mind right now: Christian Bale in American Psycho. And the father in Mary Poppins standing at the end of the conference table as they fire him (Remind me to tell you about the time I had tea with Julie Andrews). And, of course, some smug asshole of a banker walking by me in a suit that's not as good as he thinks it is, cranking me a look.
Hey, asshole! When was the last time YOU had tea with Julie Andrews?
Wow, you're in a lather, aren't you? Not really. Just having fun on the blog. But venting a bit? Yes, I suppose. You should go upstairs and have some chocolate milk.
So, as I typically do, I sent a nice note to JPMorgan corporate communications a couple of days prior to showing up in front of 1300 6th. Or whatever the address is. Just to tell them who I am, what I plan to do, offer to answer any questions, etc. I'm a lover, not a hater.
The silence in return was deafening (although, given the timing, this was not surprising).
Fast forward to last Tuesday when I actually do show up. There, parked in front of the building, is a shiny white NYPD vehicle. It was, perhaps, a Taurus (the sheer insufficiency of which makes me miss Crown Victorias all the more).
I wave at the cop through the window and he rolls it down. I tell him who I am, what I plan to do, offer to answer any questions, etc. I'm a lover, not a hater. And he says, "They told us you'd be coming."
Savor this, my friends.
They told us you'd be coming.
Hah! A wave of warm feelings washed over me. Consider for a moment all the shit that was involved in the simple act of a New York City policeman telling me he knew I was coming. Dog! As he said it I knew, for a moment, how Gandhi must have felt when he brought the British Empire to its knees. That kind of a feeling. Exhilaration tempered by great humility.
Great humility? Really? Sure. Why not? I dunno. You do the math. You're not a very humble person. I'm as humble as the next guy.
Okay, so maybe humility isn't my strongest suit. But I did have an enlightening conversation with a pretty scraggly looking guy who walked by the painting and decided to stay a while. Definitely not homeless, but a man clearly at loose ends. And damned scraggly. A black man about my age. Gray hair in a kind of Don King electric doo. And he and I stood there for a pretty long time, just shooting the breeze, watching perhaps a hundred JPMorgan employees walk by us, a subset of which looked at us with such scorn and disregard as to be palpable. The kind of look that, if you had to withstand it on a daily basis, might change your life for the worse.
Then he turned to me and asked, "Do you want to know something interesting?"
"Sure," I responded.
"All these people walking by us, looking at us like that? They all think they're better than we are."
"And you know what? It isn't necessarily true."
And with that he shook my hand and walked off into the afternoon.
I report this as fact, although perhaps not verbatim. But the thrust of the conversation is accurate. The gist of the thing is fact. If a gist can be a fact.
Me? I've spent most of my life (rightly) thinking I'm the smartest guy in the room. It's a character failing that I still wrestle with. And what he said kind of annoyed me. Who the fuck are these people copping a superior attitude with me? Or my scraggly friend for that matter? What are they doing, really, to move the world forward? To make it a better place? What, of importance, are they really doing?
It's not like they're up on the 43rd floor composing "Sad Eyed Lady of the Lowlands." Which I'm listening to right now.
"The creation of wealth," they might answer. Wealth. Wealth, I would suggest, is a good thing. But creating individual wealth at the expense of societal wealth? Not so much. And that, my friends, is the business of JPMorgan Chase.
It would be fun, just once, instead of being extraordinarily polite, if I started to verbally harangue them. To call their bluff, if you will. To challenge their sanctimonious belief that what they are doing is important, quotation marks, with bits of spittle coming out of my mouth as I shout at them. Like a legitimately crazy person. Like the crazy person they take comfort in thinking I am.
Makes me think of that Kinks song about a well-respected man, but instead I'll leave you with this:
... because it's so strong. The song, if you're curious, is called Sad Eyed Lady of the Lowlife by A-3. Same group that did The Sopranos theme song. So not chopped liver, even though you've never heard from them since.
Sorry for the dearth of posts. I've been under the weather, as has been my computer. The good news? I'm alive. Not so much my old Mac. Thus this, from the new one. Which is a pretty smooth bit of machinery.
The level of tension in front of JPMorgan was high. I brought some blue markers to designate employee annotations, but the the notion that anybody who works there is gonna grab a blue pen and have at it was, at best, preposterous.