A beautiful Venezuelan handbag designer with small black eyebrows, round, outwardly protruding cheekbones, a pronounced forehead with deep golden skin subtly wrinkling like silk, and coarse, thick black hair that cascades over her shoulders and collarbones passes me her iPhone. “eye shot zis in Tokyo, eht is very much eenfluenced by zeir calligraphy, the brushstrokes.” Staunch leather bags, immaculate from the assembly line, sit perkily in optimally-lit digital space, exuding newness. The design is geometric and I say, it reminds me of Frank Lloyd Wright. The ornamentation. You know he was very influenced by Japanese architecture. I look to my new friend Tom at the right for affirmation, and he nods adamantly, his red-blonde fro bobbing enthusiastically. She nods. She was a refugee from Venezuela 20 years ago, for political asylum. Now she has a fine studio in the garment district and an international handbag business. Her friend, a gay financier with a puffy, elegant combover is slicing into a ribeye the size of, and with the juiciness of, a hunk of chocolate lava cake. It seeps out into puffy cumuloforms of buttery mashed potatoes, golden juices swirling together like a Will-Rogers-State-Beach-sunset. Our financier bemoans the trouble of a finding a good suit-jacket at Barney’s, at Nordstrom’s, at Lord and Taylor’s. My new friend Tom is a downright charming and hilarious interior designer-filmmaker who was kind enough to give me a lift to my own show. Stuck in weekend traffic on Broadway, we started doing voice-overs for the jazz tracks on the radio, describing the fictional 1930's rom-com movie scenes that the song might belong to: (ahh, they're under the honeysuckle... a storm! she flees). [radio dial squiggles, we land on an 80's disco station and start recreating some dance moves from Saturday Night Fever]. He’s just written a pilot that is sure to be a smash-hit if his writing is as funny as his cocktail party conversation. They briefly introduce me to (Z) a photographer fresh out of an Ivy League school who is reportedly doing quite well, (but he’s a real dbag), whispers Tom, really full of himself. I look over at Z who is dressed in “all white” to quote Lil Boozie, his white jeans so crispy they look like they might crack if he bends a knee. His white shirt is equally geometricized through the power of bleach and possibly ironing. His ears droop with some CZ studs and his white kicks glimmer in the lounge lighting. I like his photograph- it’s a well-developed shot that was printed with strong color, but the melodrama of both the photograph and the title fail to live up to the ecstatic, Kanye-West-ish aims of the piece. (It’s a diva with arms outstretched in the spotlight, singing to an almost-empty theatre where two older men sit in the front rows). It is titled something about stardom, and it strikes me as perhaps sort of ‘unintentionally performative’ of some aspect of the persona of the artist himself.
I was wearing black skinny jeans, an olive green silk shirt I bought at H&M the day after the Weezer video wrapped, and the bullfighter scarf I bought in Finland. Tom said the scarf "worked".
I had been invited to show three paintings at a NY dinner for the director of the Pompidou Centre. I decided to show Earth, Venus, and the green Scandinavian painting.
At first, I was unsettled by the sumptuousness of the meal that I was offered, and by how jazzed I was on showing the work. I didn’t want to be on an ego-trip or too hungry for wealth, or status, or be living some bourgie life disconnected from reality. I know that one way I’ve handled that before was not eating, like literally not partaking of the shared banquet, which is unhealthy- but being too enthusiastic for what you’re offered is equally crass, unmannered, and inelegant. It’s best to treat every house like it’s your house, but more tidy and respectful. Be comfortable, eat the meal, don’t be paralyzed with shyness, or try too hard to impress people. Just be cool. I remember once my friend Sarah’s mother offered to take us out for a nice dinner. I decided to have a bit to eat before we went out, and my friends asked me why that was. (Instead, they had specifically chosen to eat as little as possible to save their appetites for the nice, fancy, steakhouse meal). I explained that I didn’t want to be voracious at a social dinner.
At this meal, I’d been in the studio all day building soft-crates and awaiting the pickup, and I was ravenous. Valencio and Tom wined and dined me decadently, offering a juicy chicken dinner replete with truffle mac-and-cheese, crisp with golden-brown crumbs and creamy pasta, popcorn shrimp, miniature taquitos, long, elegant broccolinis drooping just right, and scads of pinot noir. I nibbled some chicken and mac-and-cheese, saved most of the food, and it lasted for two days.
A spanish mural curator had dropped a pair of VIP passes in my bag the night before, so I put on some attention-getter-y clothes and brought a stack of cv's to hand around. Art fairs are a series of cubicles jam-packed with mediocre, contextless painterly abstractions. It was inane, and I left.
Fast-forward 3 hours, I am lying in bed tinder-swiping, desperate for an ethereal art-boy who will touch my heart and warm my soul. Instead, I’m confronted with a never-ending stream of sweaty 45-yr-old cops, Persian body-builders, and anonymous doms. Finally I get creative and flick through a back-log of contacts to reconnect with T. We decide to meet up for a black-and-white theme party of 2, and listen to the new XX. I decide to walk. Fast forward 30 minutes, and I’m standing at the corner of [street] & [street], shoes falling off, shivering, iPhone dead, and a homeless man is trying to get emotionally involved. What's up sweetheart, he says, with shocking clarity of elocution. I wave. Having a hard time tonight? I nod. Storm’s coming next week, he says. Here, let me call you a cab. I walk inside the nearest bodega to avoid getting drawn into this. I try to charge my phone but it won’t come back to life. Soon the man comes back in. I got you a cab. He reaches out a hand to shake my hand. I hesitate and then shake it. People deserve dignity and respect. Respect heals. Oh, thank you. I jump in the cab. That’s it? he says. Come on. Now I feel bad. What would Jesus do? Jesus would buy this man a sandwich. I give the cabbie my cell phone, ask him to stick it on the USB cord and W-A-I-T, and I get out to buy the man a sandwich. Inside the bodega, a very small, terrifying man with long, mottled dreads lurks near the Takis. He’s the kind of person who might have a second head hidden underneath his sweatshirt, or a 5th limb sprouting from behind his dreadlocks. He’s a small, warty, dirt-encrusted mound of creepiness. She owes me money, he says. Yesterday I was — two cracks and one crack — that’s — she owes me money. I remember her. It was two crack rocks— I ignore him and wait patiently while the casher attempts to buy the other man a turkey-and-cheese with my credit card, jamming the card in and out of the chip reader slowly and repeatedly, like it were some alien technology that he's just encountered, and needs some time to meditate on, like the stone-agers before the monolith in Kubrick's 2001, before he can figure out how to use it. Promptly, the *$*#$*%* cabbie drives off with my phone, and I’m stranded at the crack bodega with these two crazy people, frantically questioning if I’ve contracted some type of deadly illness via the handshake.
I grab my card and wallet back, and run down the residential street towards T’s house, my shoes flopping and falling off intermittently along the way. I’ve forgotten his address so I start buzzing every brownstone on that half of the street. Whenever you buzz, the little glowing 3D cameras flick on and start fluttering about as the residents casually review your plight, with the luxury of critical distance, as you shiver on their doorstep, frantically buzzing every unit in the building. Then, pretty soon, the camera flicks off and the door remains closed. Finally I find T’s, burst through the door, and enfold myself in his arms, flinging my shoes off into the corner. He has a very pleasant smile, and is literally the most emotionally generous and thoughtful person to be around. The hypnotic, expansive XX album soon lulls my worries away.