Monday, June 26, 2017

My Boring/Busy/Beautiful Life This Past Week


Does anyone still read this thing? Ugggg, anyways here we find ourselves again. It’s Monday and the days and weeks and months seem to keep clipping by and here’s little old me just bashing my head and fingers yet again. I have been seriously thinking about stopping this project of mineblogging every damn Mondaybut for some reason I keep doing it. God help us all.

Anyways, thinking about what to write today, I have nothing, so instead I will do a quick recap of my life this past week. Read on if you care, if not, fine with me as well.

Monday 19

Went to work. It was raining a lot so I tried to evade a small dinner party I was hosting but that didn’t work so people came over and we had food. I made basically vegan food and there wasn’t really enough but everyone was polite and said it was fine. We drank wine and beer and I felt a bit underwhelming so I was less talkative then usual but still pretty chatty. Nice group of people, don’t remember what we talked about. Oh yes, Ai Weiwei for a bit but then I don't remember too much else. Oh, yes TV shows and how I don’t like to talk about TV shows in certain ways, it’s like talking about the weather for too long, but ya, we talked about TV shows a lot I guess.

Tuesday 20

Went to work. Went to my therapist around noon and didn’t feel like talking but by the end I was explaining to him how being objectified (since birth) makes is utterly impossible to not be defensive and well, pissed, a lot of the time. He seemed to get it but being a good doctor he was trying to convince me on how I could react differently towards all that but I was in a ‘fuck it’ mood so I agreed to disagree but it was a respectful conversation. Went home, cleaned my apartment a lot, made myself a giant bowl of guacamole and read Chekhov and chilled with my cats.

Wednesday 21

Went to work. It was hot so I walked around the East Village to take a break at work. Met up with a guy at Tompkins Square Park at 6pm. We climbed the fence and played cards and ate Japanese snacks. We went to Niagara bar where my friend was working and I had wine and he had tequila and water. A big group of people came in all at once. They were actors. The guy and I talked but I could tell there wasn’t anything really there. I told him this politely and he agreed. We left and awkwardly said bye. Like just turned away from each other. This made me feel sad even though I knew it was the best thing. Texted some friends. Went home and talked to my friend on Messenger and felt better.

Thursday 22

Went to work. Did studio visits for most of the day for a program through work. One of the artists cried but I don't think it was because of me (I hope). I think she was feeling overwhelmed with life/art in general. I felt bad but also didn’t understand why it was happening. Had a difficult phone conversation about another project. Was very upset for a few hours. Meditated to chill out. Went home and made myself a lavish dinner, watched TV on the Internet, read Chekhov.

Friday 23

Off from work. Went to the food Co-op to do make up hours. Worked and then shopped. Came home around 3pm. Made myself a very pretty caprese salad. Ate it too fast. Business partner and I made a tough decision and felt nervous and upset about it. Laid down until friend arrived. Friend arrived and we ate strawberries, drank beer and recorded a podcast. The podcast turned out bad because the mic was being weird. We will have to re-due. Felt a bit defeated but meh. Convince friend to come to opening with me. Go to gallery opening. It’s early so not too many people. Show is good. Talk to friends. Sit in the back and spray bug spray. Basically sit in the same spot for 3+ hours. I feel old but I don’t care. Drink too much. Go to the after party at a bar near opening. Drink and talk and feel bored. Leave without saying goodbye. Take car home, eat leftover pasta, text people, pass out around 2am.

Saturday 24

Hung over. Chill in bed with cats and watch TV for a few hours. Go next door to see friend to talk about tattoo. Both of us are low key too tired so we don’t do tattoo. Leave and go back on my bed to chill. Get ready to go out around 6pm. Meeting a guy at a bar for drinks. Arrive little late, hot and flustered. Drink some drinks. Go to a friend’s birthday party, guy comes with. Talk to friends, chat and drink. Put lots of temporary tattoos on self and others. Leave party, guy still with me but I’m over it. Get a nightcap because I don’t want to totally diss him. Go home, wish I talked to my friends more then boring guy at party.

Sunday 25

Hung over. Get up and force myself to go to the beach so I don’t feel like a life reject. Train takes forever. Pop into friend’s place to say hi to his cat. A guy I don’t know is there. I think he is on drugs. He is chirpy but a bit off. He offers me, acid, mushrooms, ketamine, weed, and cannabis oil. I say no thank you. I leave, feel weird. Lay on beach, touch water, eat food. Leave after a few hours. Make a basil and tomato salad. Watch Mommy Dead and Dearest documentary. Friend picks me up to go to an opening. Feel totally fried. It’s on a roof; the show is good for a roof show. Talk to people, say hi, congratulations etc. Feel physically terrible. Leave after an hour or so, feel guilty wasn’t in a more present state of mind to talk to friends. Swear to self (again) to drink less. Make some asparagus and rice and finish watching documentary. Stomach ache, read Chekhov and go to sleep.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Robert Rauschenberg – Friends, Lovers and Art

Short Circuit, with open doors, featuring a Susan Weil painting and Elaine Sturtevant’s reproduction of a Jasper Johns flag.

There is an extensive retrospective of Robert Rauschenberg’s work currently on view at MoMA, entitled, Robert Rauschenberg: Among Friends. As the title suggests, the show accentuates the relationships that he had during his many decades as an artist and how those relationships influenced and enabled his collaborative envisioning of art practice.

This premise is a bit complicating because it makes you think that perhaps they, the curators, wanted to explain the variety and limits of Rauschenberg’s art. Surveying over sixty years and including two hundred plus works, this show is a bit exhaustive and the ties to ‘friends’ is perhaps a convenient way to string it all together. There might also be something more disagreeable to this linkage since lucky for Rauschenberg (or perhaps not), these ‘friends’ of his are the cream of the art crop.

Biography, biography, such a ghastly beast of a thing but it so truly does make the person and here the relationships, nay, lovers, which Rauschenberg had, connote and reveal many things. He was married to Susan Weil (had one son with her), divorced and then had relationships with Cy Twomby and Jasper Johns. All were artists and Twombly and Johns are 100% art thoroughbreds.

The show, through wall text, spells these relationships out and just in case you missed the point it also includes collaborations with said artists as well as stand-alone works. You see a Johns next to one of Rauschenberg’s works from the same period and to no one’s surprise you see how they relate. It’s like an I Spy of sorts and while amusing; it is also a bit befuddling.

Everyone can agree that Rauschenberg is Rauschenberg in the mid 1950’s when his Combines and aesthetic touch seemed solely his own. When you see the works during this period you don’t care who influenced them but rather are glad they got a chance to exist and agree that he belongs to this pantheon of American Art. The colors, forms, and repetitions of delighted choices and assemblage give everlasting and individual weight. I never realized how much he focused on the idea of passage. Doors, ladders, even bed sheets feel like devices of entering, leaving, and escape.

As the show precedes you see how collaborative he was and how far that network reached. Performances, dance, stage, science (the mud piece is wild and funny), politics, pop art, printmaking, music, kinetics, it’s an everything and the kitchen sink sort of art making.

Today, this might feel familiar as artists are encouraged, nearly demanded, to be interdisciplinary but I can imagine the scattered mélange it might have felt like when he first endeavored it. Most artists might not have gotten away with this sort of practice in his day but he did because frankly he was Rauschenberg.

When I say Rauschenberg I mean both the man and also the idea of the man. This is what I find very interesting about this show and its overt connections to his circle of ‘friends.’ Through the relationships that he had in his private life he was given not only access but also a permission to expand in otherwise unwieldy ways. The people that he collaborated with were at the very top, the most professionalized avant-gardes of their day. This made/makes everything/anything that any of them did or do important, archival, and seemingly necessary.

Are they all really all those things though? No, but because they have this constellation of peers who are the stars of their respective fields, this is their default historicization. This to me is depressing because it conditions art practice and history through the promotion of entitlement and a stacked distributions of privileges. But reality forces one to surrender. It is the way things work.

Let’s jump into the present re: relationships and art. Today, as it was in Rauschenberg’s time, relationships (close friends and lovers), that one has in the art world is utterly entwined and integral to one’s successes and opportunities. Anyone who has been in the art worldeven for a short timesees these connections. Jobs, money, esteem, and access are all valved through the status and station that you and those around you have. This is true for nearly all industries and the nature of the why and how of it is understandable but there is a overwhelming silence in the art world to reveal this truth.

Another name for this type of behavior is ‘networking’ but god forbid the art world call it that, we are entirely too uncorporate to do that, but that is what it is. I’m not complaining about it but I find it delusional to pretend otherwise. The power of relationships, especially intimate ones, are very very powerful and have very real consequences. This I accept but what I don’t is how these consequences become institutionalized, become nepotistic, and become the foundations for movements and markets.

I do not bring up Rauschenberg nor his show to dissemble the artist or the sprit of his practice, those things stand up on their own right and deservedly so, but I do want to point out this other subtext because it is important to understand why we find ourselves where we are in thinking, talking and learning about art.  

Transparency, collaboration, love, influence. All these things can share the same messy bed with each other and hopefully there will be others who follow the aspirations of Rauschenberg but without always needing all those lovers and friends so tightly entwined.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Cher Interview

I’m going to the beach so instead of writing anything I’m going to copy and paste an interview with Cher from 2013 because it’s Cher and how can you not love her.

Cher: 'Women have always been sex objects and always will be'
by Rebecca Nicholson
The Guardian, November 7, 2013

Cher walks into a London hotel room looking brilliantly Cher-like. She is wearing a leather jacket, tiny skirt, fishnets and big, buckled biker boots. She's got the blow-dried bouffant and pristine makeup of a pop star, but also the subtle swagger of a rock star – just witness the way she instantly dismisses the swarm of managers buzzing around her: "I hate talking with a thousand people around me."

Even more brilliant is how unintimidating Cher is. Up until a year ago that might have been a surprise, but when she joined Twitter in 2012, her public image was transformed. This, for instance, is her current Twitter biography:

Stand & B Counted or Sit & B Nothing. Don't Litter,Chew Gum,Walk Past Homeless PPL w/out Smile.DOESNT MATTER in 5 yrs IT DOESNT MATTER THERE'S ONLY LOVE&FEAR.

Her tweets are a riot of politics, bemusement, CAPS LOCK and emoji symbols. If Believe, the 1998 hit that practically invented the now ubiquitous pop vocoder vocal, made her seem robotic and remote, then Twitter has made her human and open again. Our chat today involves advice for Miley Cyrus, the perils of Grand Theft Auto and a lengthy story involving Salvador Dalí, an orgy and chocolate clocks.

Cher signed up to Twitter because a friend told her she'd be good at it. "I can't spell, my grammar is terrible, but I'm on it all the time because I enjoy it," she says, adding: "but sometimes even I go, you know what, shut the fuck up and go do something." I ask her about her emoji use and she grins. "One of the kids had it and I thought, I have to have that!" Her favourite is a ghost sticking its tongue out. "That's happy. That's me dancing, when I put that on."

Cher is 67 now, and has been dancing since her first single came out in 1965 – her recent album was her 25th solo effort. She left her wholesome Sonny & Cher image behind and shocked the public with a skimpy leotard in the If I Could Turn Back Time video way before Miley foam-fingered her way to a media storm. Cher is more qualified than most to talk about her, and she doesn't agree with Sinéad O'Connor's open letter warning Miley that the music industry "will prostitute you for all you are worth, and cleverly make you think it's what YOU wanted".

"Well, you're talking to someone who's done that kind of stuff, and I never did anything I didn't want to," Cher shrugs. "I was pushing an envelope that I wanted to push. I felt that looking the way I wanted to look and doing what I wanted to do made me more empowered. Sinéad O'Connor has a very different sense of herself than Miley Cyrus, so I don't think it's as dire as people are warning. Women have always been sex objects, and that's nothing new. They always will be."

The difference, you could argue, is that back in 1989, when Cher was straddling a cannon in the Turn Back Time video ("so tame in comparison to now"), the concept of a tween fanbase didn't exist. Should Miley and Rihanna, for example, care that their 10-year-old fans are watching them perform half-naked? "I don't think the naked part is the problem," she insists. "Unfortunately, what happens now is that kids are exposed to everything that's too old for them. You know, since the internet, since horrible PlayStation, you know, what's the name of it? Hijack car … that car hijack thing? I think maybe that is worse than seeing Miley Cyrus on a wrecking ball. Also, she's trying to break the Disney stuff. When you make such an image, you have to hit it with a hammer. Or a sledgehammer!"

At the time of Miley's MTV performance, Cher was drily scathing: "I don't think it was her best effort." But she says now that she'd been doing interviews all day, "then somehow, I started liking the sound of my own voice pontificating. And finally I thought, this is shit, you know? Get off this kid. It was one performance. It turned out to be the greatest stunt of all time 'cos people are still talking about it. She doesn't give a shit what I think, anyhow."

When Cher finally called time on Sonny & Cher, he told her: "America will hate you and you won't have a job." Little wonder, then, that she too was desperate to break away from her wholesome, unrealistic image. "When I left Sonny, I wanted to break Sonny & Cher. I wasn't them, and I wanted to be me. It was such bullshit. I never really did anything."

Cher is at her most angry when talking politics. She thinks what is happening to women in the US is "terrible … we've lost all of our rights. They couldn't do it federally, so they're taking it away state by state. I don't recognise my country," she says, sadly. "That's not funny to me at all. I don't know what the fuck happened. These people [the Tea Party, whom she regularly refers to on Twitter as "t-hadists"] hijacked it, and they're bringing down the prestige, and the dollar, for whatever it's worth."

Sadly, President Cher is not an option. "Oh God no, absolutely not. I'd be the worst person in the world. I have a horrible temper when it comes to that sort of stuff. I'd go around telling everyone what I thought, and being a politician is about not saying anything." She has first-hand experience of power, she reminds me: Sonny was a Republican congressman. "He wasn't a great statesman, but when people got into an argument, Sonny could bring everyone around the table, and say, come on, let's play cards, let's have a drink, let's work this out. Since the Tea Party, and since the Republicans have gone so far to the right, you can't even deal with them. Who'd want to?"

The mood has darkened. We've decided that politics are a wasteland and the future is looking grim. So it seems a good time to ask if she feels responsible for the Auto-Tune sound that has defined the past 15 years of pop music, thanks to Believe. "I was the first!" she says. "Believe was such a horrible song, and Mark [Taylor, who co-produced] and I fought over it constantly. He kept saying, sing it better, and I kept saying, I'm singing it as good as I can. Eventually I said, fuck you, if you want it better, get another singer, and I stormed out." Perhaps she's right about that political career, after all.

At this point, GMTV makes a surprise entry into pop folklore. At the time, Cher was living in the Docklands in London. "Do you know Roachford? Beautiful young boy … anyway, I was watching Good Morning Britain or whatever, and he was on, singing through a vocoder." She took the idea into the studio the next day, and Believe finally came to life ("I was over the moon.") A decade and a half later, you can still hear that sound all over the charts. "It's strange that an artist so old can come up with something that an artist so young is still doing," she muses. Her new album, Closer to the Truth, still makes use of it throughout its bangers and ballads, as if reminding everyone where it came from.

Believe was a smash in gay clubs, but Cher has had gay fans, and drag impersonators, since the early days. "Gay guys like a certain kind of woman," she explains. "They like a flamboyant woman that's broken. They like a balls-to-the-wall woman, motherly but not; sexual but not. Gay guys are like this: they either love you or they don't even know you're on the planet. Once you have them, you have them." I suggest that she's got a lesbian fanbase, too: she's been refreshingly frank about coming to terms with the sexuality of her transgender son, Chaz, and her first film role had her playing Meryl Streep's lesbian roommate in Silkwood, but she shakes her head. "Not in the same degree. I think my gay boys, that's a big part of my world."

Cher's last movie was Burlesque in 2010, in which she played the hard-bitten boss of a dance troupe. In the 80s, Cher's acting career was big news: she carved a niche as a tough mother with a heart in Face and Mermaids, and won an Oscar in 1988 for the quick-witted Moonstruck, in which she played a no-nonsense New Yorker falling in love over opera. Why did the acting dry up? "I'm in a strange place right now," she says, making a small gesture towards her face. "I'm too old to be young and I'm too young to be old, so I have to be used creatively. In Burlesque, which was horrible, I had no love interest, I was running this [troupe], that's who I was."

Cher's right about Burlesque – an overlong potboiler that also starred Christina Aguilera, it wasn't even camp enough to be fun. "It could have been a much better film. It was always sad that it was not a good film," she says, pinning the blame on its writer/director, Steve Antin. "Terrible director! Really terrible director. And really terrible script. I remember him saying to me, I don't care about what you say, I just want to shoot the dance numbers. Had it been shorter, it would have squeaked by and been a really good popcorn movie." She'd like to think she can act again, though. "I would like to do that, and I will do it, you know."

I want to talk to Cher for hours, about everything, but her PR and a woman called Susan, who works for her label, have entered the room, signalling that I have time for just one more question. A friend of mine, a superfan, told me I must ask her about Salvador Dalí. So I do. Is it true that Dalí gave her a vibrator? "Whooooo?" she shouts. Salvador Dalí, I say. She lets out a long, high-pitched howl of recognition, gets comfortable, and tells the three of us this.

"This is a complicated story. So, Salvador invited me and Francis Coppola and Sonny and my girlfriend Joey to dinner. And so we got to the apartment and they'd been having an orgy in the other room. People were in different stages of undress, but mostly dressed. They were staggering around and speaking French, just crazy, you know? So I have my hand on the chair and I see something in the crack, and it's a beautiful, painted rubber fish. Just fabulous. It has this little remote-control handset, and I'm playing with it, and the tail is going back and forth, and I'm thinking it's a child's toy. So I said to Salvador: 'This is really funny.' And he said [she puts on a deep, comedy Spanish voice]: 'It's wonderful when you place it on your clitoris.'" The room explodes.

"Now, Sonny and Francis, these little boys, are sitting there unable to control themselves, and they start eating the chocolate on the table. This happened to be these clocks that Salvador had made for decoration, and Francis and Sonny got so nervous they started eating them, these fabulous candy clocks."

The six of them walked to the restaurant, but alas, their dinner date with Dalí was not to be. "Ultra Violet [Dalí's assistant] was there, and she kept rubbing me with her cane, and I thought [chuckles], I'm going to break this cane across this bitch's head. All of sudden, Salvador and Ultra Violet got up, moved to another table and sat down. We became hysterical. We were crying. And they sat there and had their dinner, and we sat there and had our dinner." So she didn't keep the vibrator? "No, I didn't keep it!" She sits back on the sofa, and shouts across the room. "I bet you haven't heard that one before, Susan!"

Monday, June 5, 2017

Summer Wish List

Still broke everyone but meh, that’s okay. Poorness, or the privileged (also can we find another word than this? Hating it!) conception of it, is so very in vogue. The Minimalist lifestyle is the Millennial way to repackaging the shit vista that is our current and future selves and while that seems just, fine, it’s still annoying. I’ve been too busy to buy things or even try to wear something other than the same pair of pants for days (weeks) in a row, but still I love stuff and I love what money can give you access to.

Those that say they don’t like money are totally full of it. Money is great, but yayaya, being a greedy needy is just Ick for yourself and the planet, but still having some funny money does make things more va-va-voom sometimes. So below is a wish list that I am just daydreaming about as I take breaks between eating cantaloupe and thinking about the meaning of life and all that jazz.

Museum Passes for Life – Why do NYC museums cost money? WHY? It is tragic. These places are massive with massive endowments, funders, donors etc. I know that admission is mostly used to cover operations aka, lights and staff but still!!!! Museums in NYC should be free all the damn time not just on weekends where every tourist from Brazil to Finland camps out. PS1 used to be free then they weren’t and then people backlashed and now it’s free for New Yorkers. I think that other museums should follow suite. I want to see the Rauschenberg, the Yi, and get a dose of old school at the smaller spaces but I don’t have stacks of twenties to do so. Outrageous!

Bathing Suit – Eeee! Beach weather is around the corner. I’ve already gone to the beach twice, when it was those weird blazing hot days a bit ago, but I can’t wait to shrivel myself this coming summer as I do every year. But the thing is, is that I hate my bathing suit (I have one) and I have no idea where to get a decent one. All those stores on Broadway have these underwire things and padding and this crisscross whatevers that make you look like a party balloon string tangle, and ah it’s awful out there for a lady who wants something simple and cute. Where oh where is the perfect bathing suit? In a city full of hot bods why is it so damn hard to find waterproof undergotchies?

Large Painting – I have a lot of wall space, not a lot, but more then most and I want a big painting to just overtake a wall. Not sure what I want, nothing zombie Ab-Ex or whatever you want to call it now. Nothing that is about post internet crap either. I want a true-blue painting with colors and swishes and lushy surfaces. Maybe flowers, fruits, animals, perhaps a portrait… Something classic but also wonky. I want it to be BIG! Like 6-8 feet tall. If anyone wants me to ‘store’ their work for them for a few months, have your people call my people.

Car – I want a car so I can drive around this summer. No. What I really want is a car I can drive myself around but not have to park. No. What I really-really want is a chauffer.

Mules – Mules/slide shoes are in babies! I have a pair of slides and I say its like having business in front and bedroom in the back. They are like slippers but for the outside. Luv it. Mules are the summer equivalent of slides and while they are a little boring, they are very reasonable and comfy. You have to have comfy shoes to survive NYC summers. Wish I had a cobbler who could just make me shoes to my design whenever I wanted. Ah… the life I wish I led.

House by the Water – Someone with property or access to property to abodes by water please take me with you! I seriously am so jealous of people who have weekend getaway places. All I have is a MTA card and a yogurt container with leftovers. Gahhhhhh. But seriously, I’m like the best guest ever! Call me.

Outdoor Space – Like the above but this is even more desperate. I live in Bushwick, the neighborhood with like no trees…and I don’t have outdoor space or roof access. Not having this is slowly whittling away my lil soul. I feel pangs of suffocation when not around some form of outdoor-ish space and I would kill (kill) for this access. All those that have this in the city you are goddamn kings and queens.

Grill – Grilled whole fish, grilled veggies, grilled meats, grilled everything all the damn day long.

Vacay – Take me to Spain, Greece, Sardinia, or South of France this summer and I will love you forever (or at least until Halloween).