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|Monday, January 18th, 2016|
I had an uber driver today who was a rabbi. I knew it was going to be a unique ride because when the app announced the driver it was my very first "Shmuel". I've had lots of Hectors and a few Fernandos and plenty of Brandons but this was a unique name among the roster. He also drives Lyft. It took a few miles for him to reveal his other job, not Lyft, Rabbi-ing. He dressed the part - long beard, hat, keychain with an indeterminate (by this Catholic boy) Hebrew letter on it.
Why app-driving? Well, he is young and unmarried. He is not doing this to find a bride, but rather doing this until he does so. His mission seemed to be to just impart his truths and wisdom on riders and receive from them as much growth as might come in a conversation. He explained a few basics in our forty minute drive. Yes, Jews are the chosen people, as reported. Why is this? Well, their souls were carved from G-d's throne if I understood him properly. I was in a good mood and was not challenging things. So you see when you are this close to G-d, you can confidently spread the light of his wisdom to everyone, not by conversion but rather by deeds, acts and examples.
I asked him if Bob Dylan was a rabbi. Short version of his detailed answer was "not exactly" and more like Bob was a "Good Jew" enlightening humanity, as spreading the light is basically what Jews were put on earth to do - and according to him, we ALL benefit. He seemed quite pleased to learn from me that Leonard Cohen, whom he correctly recognized as the author of "Halleluiah
", uses the slash line spelling for G-d in his printed lyrics.
I didn't bring up touchy stuff with him because one, I am not going to be tacky in person, I do that in print enough with a purpose, there is no purpose in agitating what is basically a business transaction with a social possibility. "Why not make the most of it?" is my attitude with every driver. He was using waze but traffic was light and we took quite a simple route home from my meeting in Santa Monica.
He was an intelligent guy (I say this for those who might assume that those with convicted leaps of faith are somehow ignorant or obtuse, the very stance of that assumption being as or more obtuse than the simple faith held by many)
and fretted for the world, for the future of the world, of civilization, of culture. I hold similar views but while he frets, I just kinda don't give a fuck. When I am around young people I don't play the dystopic doom and gloom boomer game of predicting the world ending the day my generation dies. That is pretty much my only policy of imparting "hope" to people who will be here after I'm gone. So many atheists I know have a pet cause that drives them with a religious fervor and when questioned about why they recycle or protest or donate they talk of future generations benefitting from a world they helped create. Anything that you work toward that takes place after your death is "life after death" which is also known as religion.
So instead of me mimicking religion and partaking in an "act" that somehow has a domino effect of helping a billion unborn souls live in lusher vegetation with fresher air, I say why not impart hope upon those very souls who will be breathing after my last breath. Point out that the world is a good place and that the chaos you read in the news and the tension you feel in the street is temporary yet will always be there. The day they solve the current headline crisis there will be another to take its place... and yet things will get better. And if that is a lapsed Catholic carrying the light of G-d's wisdom to elevate all of the world, or even some of it, well then maybe I am a good Jew at heart.
I told the rabbi about the funerals of Bob and Murray and Sue. The three Jewish funerals I have been to. Each one talked about the deceased, centered on the deceased. In Catholicism a funeral is where they just have a typical mass and there happens to be a box in the aisle at the altar. Murray Schiff was a painter and I let out tears when the rabbi at Murray's funeral said "He was not a religious Jew, he was not an observant Jew but he was a CULTURAL
Jew and that might be a higher calling, none of us can say, but we can
therefore say that Murray was a good Jew." I cried in my pew there (apologies if they don't call it a pew, if it walks like a pew and talks like a pew, this Catholic Boy will have to call it a pew)
. Crying for Murray and also thinking that everything my brain had been programmed with in Catholicism was basically "Fuck you if you don't go to church on Sunday, the box at the foot of the altar during just another mass that doesn't concern you is all you are, from dust you came and to dust you shall return". There was no way a priest would ever acknowledge that the deceased pursuing painting instead of going to church was, at least rhetorically, a possibly better way to have spent his or her life.
But I didn't pester the Rabbi with my reality, I wanted to know what drove him as he drove me. We're all just working out what to do before we die and some of us have hallucinations of what happens after we die and we all live with that ticking clock and base our lives on books or recycling or telling kids they are not going to die from global warming the day the last baby boomer croaks.
Five Stars, Rabbi.
|Monday, December 28th, 2015|
|Ellsworth Kelly, Vampire Slayer
Ellsworth Kelly posing at his Gemini GEL opening, August, 2001.
Ellsworth Kelly died Sunday. His death came just a few days short of making it to 2016 but the math will be accurate when you look at the dates on the museum placard next to his painting. His unique, groundbreaking art is owned by almost every art museum of significance in the world. He made radical simplicity a monumental endeavor.
I was a big fan of Kelly’s work for years right up until the moment I detested his ouvre. His peaceful outlines of space and saturated hues were blissful until they became the checklist-checking wall-filler asserting that a collection was "historically thorough" in whatever McMuseum one would find them in. It was once exciting to turn a corner and see a shape’s simplicity sing with pure color. It became a shrug to pass yet another one on the way to reading a wall label of something that didn’t readily announce its presence with a sigh.
This is not a case of the jadeds, either. The work of his from the early 1960s that would mix colors with each other always seemed fresh; there was one at the new Broad Museum I saw a few months ago that reminded me of the heights Kelly reached. But the over production of his goddamn shapes and more shapes, filled in with Hoboken housewife designer colorshades just reverse-multiplied his legacy into a less prestigious place - a great one should really know that the ugliness of commerce stains things. Great work strangled into mediocre repetitiveness by the market and the international curatorial tug of overproduction that turns every great presentation of simplicity into simpleminded one-percenter wall decor.
But I had a soft spot for anyone who changed the way art could be perceived and was excited to go to an otherwise rubberstamped show of his when a friend assured me Kelly would be present at an opening of his prints at the Gemini Gallery on Santa Monica Boulevard in 2001. Of course prints on paper were the most offensive commercial venture in all of it. The man’s strength was in delivering subtlety in scale – an almost impossible thing to accomplish – bombast and serenity, the visual art equivalent of the Marshall Plan, a good big thing. When the framed shapes were shrunk down to paper all the impact of their delicate color was sucked away as if a leech had been attached to the once great notion of this artist’s eye.
The reception that afternoon was crowded and there was the master standing in attendance, smiling as he greeted well-wishers. I had taken the liberty of dressing for the occasion by wearing a kitschy teeshirt with an old Saturday Evening Post
cover illustrated by Norman Rockwell. What artists of Kelly’s generation did in eviscerating the maudlin, sentimental patriotism of Rockwell that coated the visual culture of the United States in a sticky-sweet ooze from sea to shining sea well into the 1960s is a triumph which is lost on the world today. And Kelly was one of the most extreme in the field, perhaps the most extreme visual artist this side of Barnett Newman and Agnes Martin in his use of reduction without elimination as a way of finding (and more importantly delivering)
a painting’s essence and its essence alone. The tidal wave of possibilities that radical American art delivered basically drowned the beach head established by the post-Ashcan domination of Rockwell et al. It was an obliteration of Americana that mirrored changes in the larger culture. It really was a war and Ellsworth Kelly really won it. He won the war of what art should look like.
So I made sure to wear that shirt to the opening just to see if it would set the old guy off. He was talking to an acquaintance and I asked if I could take their picture. He was smiling and complying when he noticed the shirt and he wasn’t having it. “I’m gonna smile for your picture and then I’m going to tell you why that shirt of yours has to go!” I clicked the camera and acted dumb. Kelly schooled me, he told me that art like Rockwell’s was what had been wrong with America, that Rockwell was a jingoist and that his art bred conformity and that conformity bred fascism. He was animated and serious, detailed and not smiling any longer. Much more than I had bargained for. He told me he did not have any more time for me and walked away. A half hour later he saw me and was incredulous “You’re still here? Can’t you take a hint?” and again he just walked away. I wasn’t offered a defense in his home court. But later as I was making my way to the door he smiled and said “I hope you dress better the next time I see you”. It was a peace offering from the top. The shirt went to Goodwill less than a year later.
I look at the date on the photo and it is 8-11-01... a month before the world changed forever, a month before the type of blissful freedom Kelly manifested in his work went up in smoke forever. The last month of America and its poet of purity was as feisty as ever.
I was at dinner with friends tonight when someone brought up the news of Kelly’s passing. I told this story and Carol Diehl, who lived near Kelly, pointed out that the artist lived quite close to the newish multimillion dollar Norman Rockwell museum in upstate New York. That must have gnawed at his craw, putting the stake through the heart of the American Empire in his prime only to see the vampire blink and rise so many years later. What if Kelly was the other side of the same coin though? America seen as a faceless, soulless corporate oligarchy decorated with meditations on the simplest forms and fascinating colors in order to never deal with the world it impacted. Pair that with Rockwell’s cloying narratives sermonizing about the character expected of a people in a nation where the leaders do not share their basic values. The two of them, Kelly and Rockwell, enemies yet neighbors, vampire and vampire-slayer, antithetical Americans reflecting the strides and the strife of the country. Old Ellsworth would hate being mentioned in the same breath as Norman, but you can bet Rockwell would share the disfavor and turn over in his grave even a little bit more.
|Thursday, December 17th, 2015|
|Uncle Teddy 1948 - 2015
Uncle Teddy died this morning. He rotted away near the end but we were all most shocked that he lived this long. But he really did live, like a fire in a dry forest on an endless night, he roared in all directions.
This guy had a native intellect that defied high school, which he left when he ran away to San Francisco at age 16 in 1966. Stories of my grandmother walking through the communes up there as the last beatnik Victorians were absorbing the early flood of kids who were preternaturally hip and would become Hippies.
He got into narcotics in a short time and would never abandon them, nor bemoan them. His brilliance could be mirrored in a fascinating statistic: forty plus years on smack and never arrested. He had that gift of gab called charisma and it must have served him well, along with almost psychic street smarts.
Now don't take this as a love-fest. He was, first and foremost, a taker and a spoiler. You might stare in wonder as you realized he had managed to be quite content and fulfilled, healthy and upbeat without ever having worked a day in his life and then he would say the nastiest thing that cut to your soul, and not even for some demented, dysfunctional pleasure but simply to fill the air. And what hurt was that the pain he inflicted was delivered all so matter of fact, so convincingly. But that charisma was backed with a wild journey few ever took and there was no screening his words - one time he was hanging out with us and stated waxing about the joy he had over a scab developing at his injection point that he could lift, shoot up, and push back down and some of the little nieces or nephews are standing there listening and we aren't even supposed to say "fuck" around them and here is this guy taking us all down the unknown pleasure path of junkie minutia and I was paralyzed with panic the kids would parrot this shit to the parents and equally fascinated over what he would say next.
My father was nineteen years older than him. Could there be two more opposite people from the same DNA? Think about 1929 and 1948 - bookending quite the deep dive America took, they describe two separate generations - the one raised during the Great Depression and the one raised during the plentiful 1950s. Teddy took those days of plenty to heart and fancied himself a "Seeker" in a world that had so much to give and give ... and he took and took and took, high in the sky for most of it.
One day I met another long-term junkie, Keith Richards, at a recording studio. Friends were making an album across the hall from them. A few of us were walking through the lobby and Keith stopped for a quick "hey fellas" chat. He instantly reminded me of Teddy, top to bottom - the slur in his speech, the self-administered cackle at every phrase, the twitching that had long turned into bastardized tai-chi mannerisms. So I spoke to Keith like I would speak to Teddy when I wanted to hear some wild junkie sixties tales. You can bring up anything and Teddy, the center of the room, spun a tale of depth and description, outlandish facts and embellished details for a little decor. Now the only thing about this is, you will be in the middle of this wild narrative and after about ninety seconds the thing starts to fade in his mind. His voice cracks, the rollercoaster he created doesn't crash, it just... disappears. A fried egg is not sharp but a fried brain can still be sharp until you hit part of the mushy center or the crispy edge. And so what I learned with Teddy was to not coax another hairpin turn out of the ride we were just on, but rather to bring up a new topic, to metaphorically holler "fasten seat belts", to cue up that gift of gab and clutch of exploits and instantly inspire him to let another one rip!
And there we were, in the lobby of A&M Records and Keith Richards is a freakin' xerox of Teddy. I get him started on a casual tale of his winter vacation and just as he peters out at a minute and a half of monologue madness I impolitely introduce another topic - ah but there are no ill-mannered sleights in Friedbrainville, just the joy and taking centerstage and riffing out a precious recollection of some unbelievable glory or hilarious tragedy. And I keep Keith going like this, like I had done with Teddy, tale after tale, entertainment from the bard with stories on a path I would never dare walk down. People thought Keith and I were old mates when the sound engineer finally walked in on the festivities about an hour later and tugged at his shirtsleeve.
I might add that Keith was aware enough, perhaps good manners picked up in London, to not tell stories with the gutter vocabulary of Teddy. Teddy bluntly chose the worst possible word to describe people, in hindsight or in front of them, it made no difference. Ill-mannered, politically incorrect, or just a downright mean bastard, his words were raw and his life was sordid and you were getting it all when he spoke. If he entered the room and you had not warned people of what was about to explode, you had to gather your friends fast and flee - if they were five pounds overweight they were "fat fucks", women were all "whorish blowfish" and need I pass on how he described anyone who wasn't white or straight? He was shooting up to kill some pain, some inexplicable thing that needed to stay numb, some perceived wrong from a childhood that did not do him all that wrong, really. But if his mangled hate was just the salt and if you had no open wound you would eventually find the sugar. He had an aesthetic for antiques and details in embroidery that would defy any notion of him as a thieving junkie but there it was, capping on modernist furniture as "Fifties Ugly" and obsessing about floral relief patterns within seconds of barking that he would put a bullet in the head of a passing homeless person.
It must have been a wild ride, the people you meet and the places you go when you are always fixing to avoid feeling. The last few years the HepC was eating him up but otherwise he was shockingly unscathed by decades of grabbing everything he could and using it all up with no conscience to ever consider doing it any other way. There are a bunch more Teddy stories, none believable but all true.
|Saturday, September 26th, 2015|
I live in a working class neighborhood, aka POOR people. There are so many misunderstandings of the poor that the picture people have of the poor in their heads is a tragicomic puppet show compared to the reality. Most poor people have aspirations that involve finding the opportunity to get ahead.
Almost every motherfucker I ever met who "helped the poor" never addressed creating opportunity. These saviors and spokespeople are often bottlenecks for real solutions to occur. The household income in my neighborhood is near the bottom in all of metropolitan SoCal but everyone has a smartphone. The conservatives decry this as a misappropriation of funds and the liberals are upset that the poor would surf the internet on their phones instead of follow their pablum education.
Every conservative flips out about anchor babies but would deny them basic healthcare for their children and every liberal rants about overpopulation blinded to the classism and racism of their words.
So with the Pope here highlighting the plight of the poor I cannot hold it in any longer - either create opportunities for the poor, support the creation of long-term opportunity for the poor or just announce that you are a dick and don't care about the poor, because mouthing platitudes about responsibility and education are basically mouthing your upper-middle-class values that I don't want to hear any more and no poor person is going to take as anything more than the tired, know-nothing bullshit it is.
And this feelgood bullshit about "Oh talk to the homeless, let the poor tell you their stories." NO. Volunteer in a soup kitchen and campaign for politicians who will address mental health because homelessness is first and foremost a mental health issue. If you do not do either of those, that is cool, selfish but whatever, but DO please shut the fuck up, your hot air armchair politics is detrimental to any and all actual solutions.
Oh god and please stop it with the art initiatives for the poor. The poor enjoy more art than you ever will. Every house in my neighborhood has satellite TV. You want to binge watch your sophisticated HBO shows and then bring art to the ghetto and guess what, they got a whole slew of shows they watch too and don't need your cloying lectures justifying finger-painting as education to have as rich a cultured life as you.
I could rant on and on, but basically, the left and the right have stock answers to poverty that do not address creating substantial opportunity. The right wants that reserved for fat corporations and the left wants the state to be the hall monitor on all upward mobility. Does the proposal create upwardly mobile opportunity? It is a yes or no question - a long hot air armchair answer means "I got mine and fuck them but here is a lecture".
PS - they're not saints either, idiot, quit talking about them like they are stray dogs that just need obedience school and a visit to the vet.
|Monday, September 7th, 2015|
|Memories of Cynthia Toronto
Early Downtown L.A. performance art pioneer Cynthia Toronto is comfortable in hospice care but is sadly headed to the finish line. If you have any memories of Cynthia or just want to share your love with her, get hold of her on FaceBook soon, it would really brighten her mood.
Cynthia performed at many a loft party in the early to mid '80s and at galleries and theatrical events too. She had one song that summed up living downtown back then: BED ON THE FLOOR - using the symbol of no box springs as indicative that one was still a bohemian no matter how talented as the talentless made millions... "My bed is still on the floor now baby, my bed is still on the floor". I always took that song to heart with Bohemian pride.
One time Jett Jackson had an opening at the old Julie Rico gallery in DTLA with hundreds of paintings and Cynthia did a performance that was an homage to Jett and re-enacted the faces / contortions of nearly every artwork in the exhibit. Spotlit onstage in a giant second-story loft, she was that rare combination of mesmerizing and hilarious.
And she was kind of like that in person - in addition to being a warm soul she was one of the "fight the good fight for art" people in the world. I was 21 when I saw her first perform and I instantly felt less ashamed for being "weird". She brightened up Downtown L.A. before most of the streetlights there now were even installed.
I know there is a box spring waiting for her in heaven.
Fly, be free.
|Friday, August 21st, 2015|
|Bansy Dismaland Revealed
Banksy revealed a 10,000 square foot Dismaland today. It is a giant art work that mimics a theme park but gives us intense deconstructive takes on the escapist sensibility that supports places like Disneyland.
I've posited two critiques of Banksy. The first is that his manipulation of the media is the same fundamental hypocrisy that all his fingerpointing art insists it rises above.
The second objection is that the inherent P.R. stunt nature of his art exhibitions take coverage away from all other artists much in the same way the targets of his fingerpointing art tend to be those who are the "takers" on the giver/taker spectrum.
And so I was pleasantly surprised to see that his Dismaland creation actually includes and elevates many other artists. It is more Banksy as curator, but that he has included other artists has really impressed me. The installation opened today in England so I will follow the coverage. I don't think he will use these artists as props for mockery as he expertly did to Mister Brainwash in "Exit Thru The Gift Shop", so let's wait and see what Banksy as Curator will deliver.
My early sentiment is to applaud the use of his "BANSKY BRAND" (©®™) to shine the light on deserving artists who privilege the content of critique in their work. I won't be getting a passport and flying over to Kidney Pie Rock to see the thing myself but it will be unavoidably in the media and should help more than a few artists on their journeys.
|Monday, August 17th, 2015|
Heard stories of people ubering their kids to and from school. If i had kids that would be me. Well it is me now with my parents. Neither can drive long distances any more and I trained my mom how to use uber on her phone but she lost her phone. Tried to download uber onto my dad's iphone last night and he could not remember his "Apple ID" so I set the alarm for 9:30 AM (way early for me)
and program the uber to pick them up at their house, call and explain where they should wait and then watch the little car on the map on my phone go pick them up and now it is driving them to Santa Monica for their scheduled doctor's appointment.
But then the little car turns and heads away form their route. I watch, first with interest and then with trepidation. Maybe there is a major traffic issue they are avoiding. I look at the sigalert website - nope - the route they should be taking is all clear. Slight panic I call my dad to ask how it is going. He recalled that they had changed the appointment ot Century City but has not recollection at all as to where or even the name of the doctor to look it up.
My parents were disappointed in me more often than not throughout my childhood, at least it always felt that way, and now they seem to be returning the favor.
|Monday, May 25th, 2015|
|Blonde On Blonde as Two Albums
What if the record company had balked and told Bob Dylan to make Blonde on Blonde two albums instead of a double album.
The actual album has two distinct sounds to it. One is a heavy blues sound that occasionally veers off into a cacaphony.
If the color of those songs are "blue" then the other material in Blonde on Blonde is probably best described as "gold" - like a precious metal, these songs glisten in the light and are heavy in the dark.Songs that are definitely "Blues":
Rainy Day Women #12 & #35
Pledging My Time
Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat
Just Like A Woman
Most Likely You Go Your Way (And I Go Mine)
Temporary Like Achilles
Obviously Five BelieversSongs that are definitely "Gold":
Visions of Johanna
One Of Us Must Know (Sooner Or Later)
I Want You
Stuck Inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again
Absolutely Sweet Marie
Fourth Time Around
Here are the side lengths of the original album:
Side 1: 20:53
Side 2: 19:02
Side 3: 20:39
Side 4: 11:23
Yes, Side Four is one song not included above - Sad Eyed Lady of the Lowlands
. How do we fit SELOTL
onto our album? The sound of the song is easy to qualify as "gold" given these two choices. With an apparent limit of 21 minutes per side we simply move Absolutely Sweet Marie
to Side Two of the "blues" album, giving it a length of 17:04. Blonde on Blonde
as released averages 18 minutes per side. Making the "gold" version balanced in time on each side requires tinkering with the song order. Move Fourth Time Around
to Side One of the "gold" album and here is what you get:BLUES ON BLONDE
Rainy Day Women #12 & #35
Pledging My Time
Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat
Just Like A Woman
(Total Time: 17:16)Side Two:
Most Likely You Go Your Way (And I Go Mine)
Temporary Like Achilles
Obviously Five Believers
Absolutely Sweet Marie(Total Time: 17:04)GOLD ON BLONDE
Visions of Johanna
One Of Us Must Know (Sooner Or Later)
I Want You
Fourth Time Around(Total Time: 21:09)Side Two:
Stuck Inside of Mobile With The Memphis Blues Again
Sad Eyed Lady of The Lowlands(Total Time: 18:28)
I made two separate playlists on Itunes with these.
|Monday, February 2nd, 2015|
|Atomic Cafe Days and Nights
I don't know when the story starts, how long it was there, the name ATOMIC CAFE whispers the dreams of a bygone era that became loathed for its relationship to conformity and aggression. It was not the atomic age when I walked in the door - young and eager and knowing it was the place that cool people hung out at and of course, everyone who doesn't conform in America seeks to be cool.
The first night there two of the Ramones are sitting in a booth nearby and the adrenaline of being that close to something that central to culture and consciousness - it was intoxicating. We told people we were there when Joey and Marky were there and nobody believed us, nobody. And I was like "Dude I have bullshitted you with a hundred fantastic exaggerations that you believed and now you won't accept the simple fact of a coincidence in a known rock and roll hangout befuddles me."
So you don't have to believe me but believe this - part of me emerged that night. Part of a belief in myself was berthed from the sheer dumb luck of being two booths over in an already wild scene corralled into that brick and mortar square. I took that night with me wherever I went - part of me crawled out from the cocoon of a suburban kid who had been so sheltered that the idea of being someone or something never went past being an idea and suddenly I was as validated as I might ever feel just for having walked in a door and grabbed a table.
The menu was baby boom delight and I settled on the white bread chicken salad sandwich that night and I probably went there a hundred times and I don't think I ever ordered anything else. Over the years I grew up there a little. The old Japanese chef got his heroin delivered at four PM on weekday afternoons and if you ordered by 3:30 you got your food and he went and shot up and was high and nobody got served until after five, so I paid for less than half of those meals. If you ordered and he shot up, though, good luck starving until someone else arrived. The food was straight form a multicultural suburban atomic era but the things I saw there pushed that Americana of my youth further in the rear view mirror than mere time ever could have.
We all blossom somewhere and I became me in Downtown Los Angeles and the corner of First and Alameda in a brick building on a parking lot that the Manley family of Pasadena had owned since the 1890s was one of the places where the light clicked on for me. A strung out chef filling my belly, the figures of the whole revolution hanging out two booths away, a wild cast of semi-regulars and a juke box, oh what a jukebox...
The jukebox was the greatest jukebox in history and if I made a list of my ten regrets in life in the top five would be not simply taking a picture of the display - assembling that on iTunes as a playlist would be all the music I would ever need. Do you have one? Look out get out of my way, let me see it.
They tore that building down on the last week of January, 2015, 125 years after they had cemented the bricks together there, all the oil sucked dry out of what became the parking lot leased by Manley Oil. Its all disappearing and the memories are all really starting to fade and so I have to write them down but it gets repetitive to say we went out drinking and it was fun and then we went out drinking and it was fun and then... so the memories themselves are just little bricks and the bricks can form a building and when that building gets torn down you write abut the building itself and the time a girl threw a drink in your face and stomped out and the time that Richard Duardo told you a story about eating there with Basquiat a year after the painter had died and the memory of that one guy everyone on the scene knew who, the guy who played saxophone well he just stood next to the jukebox and played along with each song that came up and he knew them all and it sounded great and everyone cheered him on and you left without paying for your drinks and when you felt guilty and went back to pay they didn't even know and it was loud and so you ordered another drink and left without paying of r it either , all those memories and a thousand more just get cemented on top of each other and soon each memory is a just a fragment of a shelter you have built in your ind and now, well that shelter is all that is left, a memory. And so you write it down. Gimme shelter.
|Sunday, November 9th, 2014|
|2015 Art World Bootcamp
I do one of these seminars every year. Make a New Year's Resolution early to make 2015 the year you begin navigating your art career.
If you aspire to be a successful, exhibiting artist in Los Angeles, perhaps it is time to get serious about that goal. It is time for you to understand the CULTURE of the Art World Itself. The artists who have taken this seminar give me positive feedback and thanks, even years later, as they apply what they learned in almost every art world encounter.
Start 2015 off right as the new year offers You ART WORLD BOOTCAMP
You are ready to:
* Immerse yourself in the art scene
* Focus your behavior
* Expand your knowledge
* Make great art
The Art World operates under specific rules that go untaught. Learn these rules early and
you will develop simple methods to make the way the game is played work for you.
You can spend years learning these unspoken rules on your own, or you can attend Coagula's Art World Boot Camp and accelerate your comprehension of art, the art business and how the two will ultimately benefit you.
In Six Saturday Mornings you will receive dozens of INSIGHTS including:
* Ten Things Art Colleges Don't Want You to Know.
* The phrase that will get every art dealer to return your phone call.
* The four highest-impact career decisions every artist will make.
* Understanding how ANYONE in the Art World can be put to work for you!
This class is available IN PERSON only - there is no DVD, no website, I tell incriminating stories, pull the curtain back and name names, audio recording is not permitted - you will get the truth about the LA art world, but it is knowledge that will prove valuable in your pursuit of a successful exhibition career. Notes are provided.What this is NOT:
This is not a class about how to sign a pretty little contract with a gallery and sell a painting to your rich uncle. This is the lay of the land of what you are up against in the art world and how to keep your eyes on the prize. You will not be burdened with a bunch of outdated xeroxes. I taught this class in 2006 - there have been radical changes to the art world since then and these are incorporated into every lesson. This is not a class about how to do everything on our own - Artists who are successfully exhibiting in Los Angeles have LOTS of people doing the heavy lifting for them. I taught this class in 2013 and a few things have already changed - just understanding these little things can help YOU spot changes in the art world.
Registration is open now and limited to 25 participants - age 18 and up, please.
Class is taught by Mat Gleason. Do you need my bio? I own an art gallery, I curate art shows, I am a published art critic and essayist. My name is my resumé, google it.
Six weekend classes beginning SATURDAY
January 10, 2015.
Final class is February 21. Class meets at 11:00 AM on Saturday Mornings at Coagula Curatorial Gallery on Chung King Road in Chinatown. Class lasts 90 minutes. The class also includes an OPTIONAL
critiques of your art.
The Class will cost you $350
- A few spots are still open. No refunds.
Email me at 88gallery at GMAIL dot com
with the subject BOOTCAMP
if you are interested.
|Monday, September 22nd, 2014|
|Memories of Leonard Cohen Live
I have seen Leonard Cohen in concert three times.1. "LIKE A BIRD ON A WIRE, LIKE A DURNK IN A MIDNIGHT CHOIR, I HAVE TRIED, IN MY WAY, TO BE FREE"
I drank a lot Jack Daniel's and Coke on the afternoon of what would be my first time seeing Leonard Cohen - it was at the Wiltern Theater in the late 1980s. A bunch of us went. Tom Tyson was the cat who turned me onto LC and he was the one who got us tickets and he was the one shaking me passed out at 6 PM saying to get up, get ready let's go.
There were plenty of Coke cans at his place to drink with enough caffeine as out with the group I went. When we walked up to the entrance I was halfway thru a can of Coke knowing they were going to make me throw it away but if there was one thing I was intent on doing (back when I drank and to a lesser extent even today)
when confronted by minimum wage security - it was in making a scene.
So as I am walking into the Wiltern one guy then another then a lady and then some other guy all were politely saying "Sir Sir Sir"
and panicking over that Coke can, I milked it to get about eight steps into the massive Art Deco Lobby and turned, you see by stopping and turning I had de-escalated the situation because they were going to be able to address me without racing after me any longer or physically stopping me, but as I was about 45 degrees into my 180 degree turn I began belting out a missive..."Ah fuck, Tom they're all fucking yuppies in here"
In case you are wondering - the lobby of the Wiltern has an amplification when one shouts aimed upward at the rising ceiling. Every yuppie with good taste in music within ten feet of the entrance and all those who had already made it inside heard my indictment. Every employee who had been chasing me for my can of Coca Cola had abandoned the front lines of ticket taking - it was me and them and a horde of people waiting at the gate - including Tom and the rest of the Starvin' Band and various other minstrels, outcasts and vagabonds who tagged along on those buzz-seeking weekends of the late 1980s. I'm loaded enough to be enjoying this and thespian enough not to smirk as I perfectly time looking at the security chick who just took a breath to tell me that I cannot bring my can of soda into the the theater and ask her "Where can I dump this?"
. The four of them look at each other as the space around us is now empty - there are hundreds of people in the Wiltern headed to their seats and hundreds more waiting to get in and there is an island in the middle - me with three ticket takers, a security guard and a can of Coke. I follow up quickly to the ticket taker "Is there a trash in here?"
It is the deepest advice I can ever confer on you to never speak precisely when dealing with anyone who is on the clock. If I had said "Is there a trash CAN in here?"
it would have been insulting to associate their job with garbage. If I had asked "Where can I throw this away"
it would have implied that they were hired to think for me. The subtext of saying it the way I did was to underscore that there would not have been this situation at all if there were obvious receptacles at the entrance. By asking it that way, i was blaming the Wiltern - their employer. I had caused a scene and put it all on the man. I was wearing a white dress shirt with no tee shirt under it and it was only buttoned on two buttons at the belly and belt. One of them took my can and soon the flow of fans trickled up to me.
We sat sat in the highest rafters of that place. Leonard played "Avalanche"
and it was as powerful as Christ reciting the Beatitudes. The rest of it blurs but the memory stands, longing for the four sips of cola left in that can.2. "I'm standing on a ledge and your fine spider web is fastening my ankle to a stone."
Years later, early 1994 to be exact, I am newly sober and working to extract myself from this codependent mullata trustafarian Los Feliz musician and she is nagging me about some shit - it was weird, I quit getting loaded and all she did was turn on the nag amplifier - and I tell her I am going to go to the Wiltern and try to buy a scalped tickets to Leonard Cohen. Well she couldn't give two shits about LC because her snotty aesthetic was her Master but she can't let go of the leash that easy so we traipse over there, outside and see the lines and I'm actually ready to give up, they were ridiculously around the block and the scalpers wanted way more dough than those days afforded me.
But she is all of a sudden seeing musicians there that she knows from the scene, probably had fucked them all, and all of a sudden she is too damn down to turn around and, well to her credit, to her tenacious rotten soul's credit, she finagles someone she knows to pull out two extra tickets they are holding for someone else and suddenly we are sitting in the eleventh row on the floor, wow we have come a long way, and i know I am about to go a long way from her to something more like this, the sobriety is clearing my head and Leonard's words were nice like knives of what one might dodge but now they are tools to carve out a space of my own. And she doesn't know anything or get anything but she sure loves it when the guys from the clubs come over to say hello to her. And I don't even look up or sneer, I already know I am bailing but some things need an exit strategy.
And the lights dim and the master comes out - and it is nice to be close and the show adds years to my soul and screams that life is worth living and I stock up on those tools, deeper understanding of existence in a ninety minute stage show and he comes back for an encore and the bitch says "we have to leave."
Yeah, there was always a pressing reason to manipulate the world to one she could control with extreme prejudice and ever more some drama following her to make it sloppy and plenty of blame for me for sticking around, but this was indicative of one reason getting clean was great - as it made me see the script she was writing each day to avoid living her own life.
She pushed me to get up and I didn't fight it, I didn't make a scene in aisle or in the lobby. There was no can of Coke, just more certainty that sobriety means aspiring to something like the greatness on the stage not the distracted comfort of her cage. I would not be dragged around by my dick a month longer. I found a set list on the internet years later. I think we missed six songs. What a witch.3. "Raise a tent of shelter now, though every thread is torn / Dance me to the end of love"
For years it seemed he would never come down from the mountain. Leonard was up there meditating and the songs were just out in the universe reaching more folks. To tell people I had seen him twice was to flat out brag. But then Tom C from high school emailed and said he had extra tickets for LC at the Nokia, did Leigh and I want to go. Oh and by the way, second row. Well that was a treat, the best show, the longest, mist-involved, most revelatory show of the three and no drama for me or Leigh, just adults getting together with a few other couples before and after the show for pleasant talk.
LC opened the show with "Dance Me To The End of Love"
and we were all still going thru metal detectors - no cans of Coke, no Coke at all - and we miss it so after almost three hours he closes the show with that for all the folks who missed it the first time. By this point I am exhausted, Leigh is in ecstasy, we are both limp from being in the presence of majestic genius. But this time I do have the dough to at least buy us each a shirt and she has the time to wait in line as we are walking out.
We'd seen all that a poet, prophet could deliver and the only way to tie it up was to know that we were in the right place at the right time in our lives and that is when dancing to the end of love really means forever. No other performer can inspire the range of emotions from raging loaded to bitter scorn to the bliss of a soulmate like Leonard Cohen does for me.
So on his 80th birthday I just had to rewind the tape of my life and see if the blurry memories could unite as semblance.
Happy Birthday, Leonard.Dance Me To The End of Love.
|Sunday, August 3rd, 2014|
|Go Ahead and Fuck with the Art Community, it Doesn't Exist.
I got scolded a lot during the early years of Coagula Art Journal
. Scolded by artists and collectors and art dealers and just random people at galleries with no specific status. They wagged their fingers in my face. They threw drinks in my face. They stared me straight in the face. They would say they were angry. They would say they were disappointed. Some would tell me they were only thinking of my best interests.
They were all upset about one thing. My disrespect for the community.
You see, there is an art community. There is no neighborhood to move in to be part of it. There are no membership fees or initiations. You show up and supposedly you are part of it, right?
Wrong. The "community" of which everyone spoke was an individual illusion to each person. COMMUNITY
was the hallucination by a heavy drinking bat in her early sixties who had bought five works of art in her entire life insisting that she was a top collector.COMMUNITY
was the hallucination by an MFA graduate who had never had a solo show five years after graduation asserting that he was a peer of Robert Rauschenberg's.COMMUNITY
was the carrot the MFA diploma mill dangled at hungry applicants that implied everyone you ever met on their campus would be working on behalf of the art careers of those applicants for the next forty years.COMMUNITY
was what the lonely painter in his studio longed for without ever really envisioning it specifically to call it that but there was something that made him set down his brush, take a shower, stay sober in the afternoon and head over to someone else's art opening.COMMUNITY
was what the woman who dated guys she met at museum opening nights really wanted and it was the reason she never slept with any of them and she never quite put her finger on the fact that she pursued something else instead of the thing she sought because she never visualized what she wanted.
And plenty more people had their own notions of what it was and never quite landed there. Of course, the most evil motherfuckers in the game used COMMUNITY like a worm on a hook to reel in the most earnest suckers - you can get endless free labor from people thinking they are building something bigger than themselves from which they will benefit. I've seen people give up a year of their lives and lots of their money to get one postage-stamp-sized drawing on a wall of a massive group show because some bastard was pulling the strings that spelled out the pledge that a community was being formed.
Do I sound cynical? WELL...
here is why I am cynical. The dumbshits and a hundred others would blame my writing for poisoning the community. The one that only existed in their minds. Not their collective minds, that would have been beautiful and maybe changed the world a little. No, each person's individual navigational visions of what the art world was and what he or she could get out of it if only a lot of people would work on giving it to them. So I wouldn't foster the party line of discourse or dialogue or whatever grease was making the gears in the machine turn faster that week. And therefore, my writing was an attack on the community. And my writing was not that. It was an attack on the structures in place that impeded community, structures these motherfuckers wanted to climb on and climb up and look down on everyone else from before they spit down or talked about spitting down and laughed about the concept of spit. Those structures are all still there, but I wrote enough to assist some people to see what I saw.
There are moments of accomplishment that can only be attributed to group effort. There are synchronicities that unite disparate agendas to push change into the universe. There are commonalities among people that allow them to more easily cooperate on collaborations that make impacts. There are moments when the roaring approval of the many change the way art is seen. But there is no ART COMMUNITY and in art, the word COMMUNITY doesn't mean shit.