Monday, April 30, 2018

Michelle Wolf’s Correspondent’s Dinner Transcript

Michelle Wolf blazed the shit out of nearly everyone at the Correspondence Dinner and it was glorious, hysterical and intense. People are freaking out and being way too uptight about it all but yeah, it was bound to happen.

Humor is necessary. Humor is what reveals the truths of things when other methods fail. Watch it if you haven’t already and read the below if you want to absorb it all in at a slower pace.

Zing, ding, ding, Michelle for the win.

All right, this is long, this has been long… yeah. Good evening, good evening, here we are at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner. Like a porn star says when she’s about to have sex with the Trump, let’s get this over with.

Yep, this is who you’re getting tonight, I’m gonna skip it a lot of the normal pleasantries. We’re at a Hilton: it’s not nice. This is on C-Span, no one watches that. Trump is president, it’s not ideal. The White House Correspondents’ Association, thank you for having me. The monkfish was fine.

Hey, just a reminder to everyone: I’m here to make jokes. I have no agenda. I’m not trying to get anything accomplished, so everyone that’s here from Congress, you should feel right at home.

Now before we get too far, a little bit about me. A lot of you might not know who I am. I’m 32 years old, which is a weird age — 10 years too young to host this event, and 20 years too old for Roy Moore. I know, he almost got elected, yeah. It was fun, it was fun. Honestly I never really thought I’d be a comedian, but I did take an aptitude test in seventh grade —and this is a hundred percent true—I took an aptitude test in seventh grade and it said my best profession was a clown or a mine. Well, at first it said clown, and then it heard my voice and then was like, “Or maybe mine. Think about mime”. And I know as much as some of you might want me to, it’s 2018 and I’m a woman, so you cannot shut me up, unless you have Michael Cohen wire me $130,000. Michael, you can find me on Venmo under my porn star name, Reince Priebus. Reince just gave a thumbs up. Okay.

Now, people are saying America is more divided than ever, but I think no matter what you support politically, we can all agree that this is a great time for craft stores, because of all the protests, poster board has been flying off the shelves faster than Robert Mueller can say “You’ve been subpoenaed.”

Thanks to Trump, pink yarn sales are through the roof. After Trump got elected women started knitting those pussy hats. When I first saw them I was like “That’s a pussy?” I guess mine just has more yarn on it.

Yeah, shoulda done more research before you got me to do this.

Now, there is a lot to cover tonight, there’s a lot to go over. I can’t get to everything. I know there’s a lot of people that want me to talk about Russia and Putin and collusion but I’m not gonna do that because there’s also a lot of liberal media here and I’ve never really wanted to know what any of you look like when you orgasm. Except for maybe you, Jake Tapper. I bet it’s something like this, “Okay, that’s all the time we have” [Applause]

It is kind of crazy the Trump campaign was in contact with Russia when the Hillary campaign wasn’t even in contact with Michigan.

Of course, Trump isn’t here, if you haven’t noticed. He’s not here. And I know, I know, I would drag him here myself, but it turns out the President of the United States is the one pussy you’re not allowed to grab [Applause].

Now, I know people really want me to go after Trump tonight, but I think we should give the president credit when he deserves it. Like, he pulled out of the Paris agreement and I think he should get credit for that cuz he said he was gonna pull out and then he did. And that’s a refreshing quality in a man. Most men are like “I forgot. I’ll get you next time.” Oh, there’s gonna be a next time? When people say romance is dead…
People call Trump names all the time and look, I could call Trump a racist or a misogynist or xenophobic or unstable or incompetent or impotent but he’s heard all of those and he doesn’t care, so tonight I’m gonna try to make fun of the president in a new way, in a way that I think will really get him

Mr. President, I don’t think you’re very rich. Like, I mean, you might be rich in Idaho but in New York you’re doing fine. Trump is the only person that still watches Who Wants to Be a Millionaire and thinks: “Me.” Although I’m not sure he’d get very far. He’d get to, like, the third question and be, like, “I have to phone a ‘Fox and Friend.’ “
We’re gonna try a fun new thing, okay? I’m gonna say “Trump is so broke” and you guys go, “How broke is he?” All right?

Trump is so broke.
[AUDIENCE: How broke is he?]
He has to fly failed business class.

Trump is so broke.
[AUDIENCE: How broke is he?]
He looked for foreign oil in Don Jr.’s hair.

Trump is so broke.
[AUDIENCE: How broke is he?]
He — Southwest used him as one of their engines.
I know, it’s so soon. It’s so soon for that joke. Why did she tell it? It’s so soon.

Trump is so broke.
[AUDIENCE: How broke is he?]
He had to borrow money from the Russians, and now he’s compromised and not susceptible to blackmail and possibly responsible for the collapse of the republic.

Yay. It’s a fun game.

Trump is racist, though. He loves white nationalists, which is a weird term for a Nazi. Calling a Nazi a ‘white nationalist’ is like calling a pedophile a ‘kid friend,’ or Harvey Weinstein a ‘ladies man,’ which isn’t really fair—he’ll also likes plants.

Trump’s also an idea guy. He’s got loads of ideas, you gotta love him for that. He wants to give teachers guns, and I support that because then they can sell them for things they need, like supplies.

A lot of people want Trump to be impeached. I do not, because just when you think Trump is awful, you remember Mike Pence. Mike Pence is what happens when Anderson Cooper isn’t gay. Mike is the kind of guy that brushes his teeth and then drinks orange juice and thinks “Mmm”. Mike Pence is also very anti-choice. He thinks abortion is murder, which, first of all, don’t knock it till you try it. And when you do try it, really knock it. You know, you gotta get that baby out of it. And yeah, sure, you can groan all you want, I know a lot of you are very anti-abortion, you know, unless it’s the one you got for your secret mistress. It’s fun how values can waiver. But good for you. Mike Pence is a weirdo though. He’s a weird little guy. He won’t meet with other women without his wife present. When people first heard this, they were like, “That’s crazy.” But now, in this current climate, they’re like, “That’s a good witness”.

Which of course brings me to the #MeToo Movement. It’s probably the reason I’m here. They were like ‘A woman’s probably not gonna jerk off in front of anyone, right?’ And to that I say: Don’t count your chickens. We go on a party.

Now, I’ve worked in a lot of male-dominated fields before comedy. I worked at a tech company and before that I worked on Wall Street and honestly I’ve never really been sexually harassed. That being said, I did work at Bear Stearns in 2008 so, although I haven’t been sexually harassed, I’ve definitely been fucked. Yeah, that whole company went down on me without my consent and no man got in trouble for that one either. No things are changing, men are being held accountable, you know.

Al Franken was ousted. That one really hurt liberals. But I believe it was the great Ted Kennedy who said, ‘Wow! That’s crazy! I murdered a woman!’ Chappaquiddick – in theaters now.

I did have a lot of jokes. I had a lot of jokes about cabinet members but I had to scrap all of those because everyone has been fired. You guys have gone through cabinet members quicker than Starbucks throws out black people. Don’t worry they’re having an afternoon. That’ll solve it. We just needed an afternoon.

Mitch McConnell isn’t here tonight, he had a prior engagement. He’s finally getting his neck circumcised. Mazel.

Paul Ryan also couldn’t make it. Of course he’s already been circumcised, unfortunately why they were down there they also took his balls. Yeah, by fault great acting though in that video.

Republicans aren’t easy to make fun of you know it’s like shooting fish in a Chris Christie. But I also want to make fun of Democrats. Democrats are harder to make fun of because you guys don’t do anything. People think you might flip the House and Senate this November, but you guys always find a way to mess it up. You’re somehow going to lose by 12 points to a guy named Jeff Pedophile Nazi Doctor. Oh he’s a doctor.
We should definitely talk about the women in the Trump administration.

There’s Kellyanne Conway. Man, she has the perfect last name for what she does: Conway. It’s like if my name was Michele jokes frizzy hair small tits. You guys got to stop putting Kellyanne on your shows. All she does is lie. If you don’t give her a platform she has nowhere to lie. It’s like that old saying, if a tree falls in the woods how do we get Kellyanne under that tree? I’m not suggesting she gets hurt just stuck under a tree incidentally a tree falls in the woods and Scott Pruitt’s definition of porn. Yeah, we all have our kinks.

There’s also, of course, Ivanka. She was supposed to be an advocate for women, but it turns out she’s about as helpful to women as an empty box of tampons. She’s done nothing to satisfy women. So I guess like father like daughter. Oh you don’t think he’s good in bed, come on! She does clean up nice though. Ivanka cleans up nice. She’s the diaper genie of the administration. On the outside she looks sleek, but the inside, it’s still full of shit.

And of course we have Sarah Huckabee Sanders. We are graced with Sarah’s presence tonight. I have to say, I’m a little star-struck. I love you as Aunt Lydia on The Handmaid’s Tale. Mike Pence, if you haven’t seen it, you would love it. Every time Sara steps up to the podium I get excited because I’m not really sure what we’re gonna get you know a press briefing a bunch of lies or divided into softball teams it shirts and skins and this time don’t be such a little bitch Jim Acosta. I actually really like Sarah. I think she’s very resourceful. Like she burns facts and then she uses that ash to create a perfect smoky eye. Like, maybe she’s born with it, maybe it’s lies. It’s probably lies. And I’m never really sure what to call Sarah Huckabee Sanders. You know, is it Sarah Sanders? Is it Sarah Huckabee Sanders? Is it Cousin Huckabee? Is it auntie Huckabee Sanders? Like, what’s Uncle Tom but for white women who disappoint other white women? Oh, I know, Aunt Coulter.

We’ve got our friends at CNN here. Welcome guys, it’s great to have you. You guys love breaking news, and you did it, you broke it! Good work! The most useful information on CNN is when Anthony Bourdain tells me where to eat noodles. [Laughter]

Fox News is here, so you know what that means, ladies: cover your drinks. Seriously, people want me to make fun of Sean Hannity, tonight. But I cannot do that. This dinner is for journalists. We’ve got MSNBC here. MSNBC’s new slogan is “This Is Who We Are.” Guys, this is not a good slogan. This is here’s what your mom thinks the new sad show on NBC is called. Did you watch this is who we are this week someone left on a crock-pot and everyone died.

I watch Morning Joe every morning. We now know that Mika and Joe are engaged. Congratulations! You guys. It’s like when a #Me-Too works out.

We are the Rachel Maddow we cannot forget about Rachel Maddow. She’s the Peter Pan of MSNBC. But instead of never growing up, she never gets to the point. Watching Rachel Maddow is like going to Target. You went in from milk but you left with shampoo, candles, and the entire history of the Byzantine Empire.

And of course Megyn Kelly. What would I do without Megyn Kelly? You know, probably be more proud of women. Megyn Kelly got paid $23 million by NBC and than NBC didn’t let Megyn go to the Winter Olympics. Why not? She’s so white, cold, and expensive, she might as well BE the Winter Olympics. And, by the way, Megyn, Santa is black. That weird old guy going down your chimney was Bill O’Reilly. You might want to put a flu on it or something.

There’s a lot of print media here. There’s a ton of you guys but I’m not gonna go after print media tonight because it’s illegal to attack an endangered species. Buy newspapers.
There’s a ton of news right now; a lot is going on, and we have all these 24-hour news networks, and we could be covering everything. But, instead, we’re covering like three topics. Every hour, it’s Trump, Russia, Hillary and a panel of four people that remind you why you don’t go home for Thanksgiving.

“Milk comes from nuts now, all because of the gays.” You guys are obsessed with Trump. Did you use to date him? Because you pretend like you hate him but I think you love him. I think what no one in this room wants to admit is that Trump has helped all of you. He couldn’t sell steaks, or vodka, or water, or college, or ties, or Eric. But he has helped you. He’s helped you sell your papers, and your books and your TV. You helped create this monster and now you’re profiting off of him. And if you’re gonna profit off Trump you should at least give him some money, because he doesn’t have any. Trump is so broke.
[AUDIENCE: How broke is he?]
He grabs pussies because he thinks there might be loose change in them.

All right, like an immigrant who was brought here by his parents and didn’t do anything wrong, I gotta get the fuck out of here. Good night.
Flint still doesn’t have clean water!

Monday, April 23, 2018

What A Weekend! Crits! Art! Reptiles!

Snakes at Reptile Expo!

Do you ever have a weekend and it is so packed and full of fun you think you might explode? I just had one of those weekends. Here it is in a blitz of a post.


Went to work and then went to Columbia to do a group crit with first year MFAs. A friend of mine is in the program so it was super fun and relaxed but it was also a nice format to talk about art and meet new people. Going uptown on the 1 was sort of a manic panic but after an hour ride, ta-da, I arrive in one piece. They set up in a large room with works by three artists on display. There were casual beers and bags of chips and popcorn. We focused on each artist’s work for 45 minutes. I love doing studio visits and talking about art so I talked a lot. The work was interesting, the conversations got looser and louder as the evening went on.

It’s funny when you talk with artists that are currently in a program because they are in this strange in-between state of their practice and in a school setting they are on over drive experimentation and exploration mode. It’s great to see and allows for quick ideas and things to not be over thought out, thus sometimes fresher and more enlivened but also it can be a bit too much too fast. It’s all okay though. Safe spaces to make art and to go left or right field, or even in the weeds, is so good for artists to experience. I felt really lucky to be able to glimpse and to talk about their work that was in such a vulnerable stage.

We then went to after drinks/food at a nearby restaurant. The Upper West Side is a weird place. Feels like it’s a whole different part of NYC that I just don’t know/get but that’s interesting to feel sometimes. We talked more and it was really nice to see how people in a program become microcosm families. It’s like summer camp, or those magic times where time/place/circumstance smooshes people together and you open up more because you have to and then you realize you want and needed to.


Vegged out and took it easy in the morning and early afternoon to regenerate from the week before. Went gallery hopping in Lower East Side and Chinatown! Went to my fave places and shows I wanted to see and it was good to get an injection of art. Gallery hopped with someone who never gallery hopped before! That seemed so novel to me, I guess I have been doing it so much for so long it’s like a thing I think everyone did/should do but yeah, I guess not. Went to about 10 shows. The best were Em Rooney at Bodega (full disclosure, I’m super partial to her work) and Cici Wu at 47 Canal. Cici’s show was a true delight because I didn’t know anything about her or her work and it was quiet, subtle and poetic in just the ways I like/didn’t know I like.

Walking around LES is also fun because you can pop in and out of shops and just kind of meander around which makes the slog feel less sloggy sometimes.

Post galleries one needs refreshments! Went to Little Italy because irony is sometimes the only cure for serious art-ing. Ordered calamari and house red wine. Picked up the largest apple I have seen in my life as a gag gift. Walked to a restaurant where someone we knew worked. Gave him gag apple and had some yummy vino and more food. It was cool. There was someone famous there that I didn’t know (she was in Arrested Development).

Went to Brooklyn and met friends at a bar. It’s funny how people overlap. I knew one person for a long time and someone else knew them and another person that was there a long time but we all didn’t know we knew each other. It was cute. Lots of vodka sodas and talking about art since they were all artists. Some conversations heated but in a good way. People left to pursue the possibilities of love. Felt like the night was sexy and it was.


Hung-over but excited and determined to go to the Reptile Expo in White Plains New York! Met with gal pals and took Metro North up. Someone made the most amazing train snax in the world. Talked about health issues and felt warmth of camaraderie with womankind. Arrive at Reptile Expo and everyone incredibly excited.

So many reptiles! So much to see! Was really intense and crowded but was not too much and not too big. After a while snakes and things get repetitious but still cool. Get reptile overload after a few hours. It reminded me of going to an art fair. Sometimes the eyes/brain can handle only so much stimulation.

Meet up with other friends there and take pictures on the steps. It’s funny to be on an outing. Walk to a diner and eat suburban food and talk about matters of the heart and it feels like we are all in a coven of warmth and support. Feels nice to feel a part of something.

Take train back to city and go to a showroom of young hip designers’ clothing collection. Friends, so chill and relaxed vibes. Try on clothes. Contemplate purchases.

Exhausted. Home. Roommate having party and playing the Smiths on repeat so need to escape! Eat lo mein. Eat ice cream. Fall asleep at 10pm. What a perfect thing life can be sometimes.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Forty-one False Starts

Self-portrait by David Salle, 1994.

It’s Monday. It was raining pails before in NYC. Now it’s sunny. This back and forth weather has made my throat a sieve. I’m groggy from enduring the past few weeks. My body is healing. I feel better but at a lower charge than my usual high wattage self. So much to share, I’ve done so much over sharing in some ways, but yeah, not enough stamina to go into it all now. Maybe never. I believe in secrets.

Instead of deep, dumb thoughts I will share the beginning of Janet Malcolm’s art-famous-y profile piece on David Salle from 1994. It’s called Forty-one False Starts and it is reveals/shows/bends the subject/topic/self of Salle forty-one times. It’s a clever device and should be able to do more but still, it’s a fun read. (Link to full article)

Salle. Male artists. A certain generation. A certain time in New York. In the Art World. What/How/Has anything even changed?


Janet Malcolm
July 11, 1994

Forty-one False Starts
How does the painter David Salle know when to stop? How does the author know where to start? It’s all a question of process.

There are places in New York where the city’s anarchic, unaccommodating spirit, its fundamental, irrepressible aimlessness and heedlessness have found especially firm footholds. Certain transfers between subway lines, passageways of almost transcendent sordidness; certain sites of torn-down buildings where parking lots have silently sprung up like fungi; certain intersections created by illogical confluences of streets—these express with particular force the city’s penchant for the provisional and its resistance to permanence, order, closure. To get to the painter David Salle’s studio, walking west on White Street, you have to traverse one of these disquieting intersections—that of White and Church Streets and an interloping Sixth Avenue—which has created an unpleasantly wide expanse of street to cross, interrupted by a wedge-shaped island on which a commercial plant nursery has taken up forlorn and edgy residence, surrounding itself with a high wire fence and keeping truculently irregular hours. Other businesses that have arisen around the intersection—the seamy Baby Doll Lounge, with its sign offering “Go-Go Girls”; the elegant Ristorante Arquá; the nameless grocery and Lotto center; the dour Kinney parking lot—have a similar atmosphere of insularity and transience. Nothing connects with anything else, and everything looks as if it might disappear overnight. The corner feels like a no man’s land and—if one happens to be thinking about David Salle—looks like one of his paintings.

Salle’s studio, on the second floor of a five-story loft building, is a long room lit with bright, cold overhead light. It is not a beautiful studio. Like the streets outside, it gives no quarter to the visitor in search of the picturesque. It doesn’t even have a chair for the visitor to sit in, unless you count a backless, half-broken metal swivel chair Salle will offer with a murmur of inattentive apology. Upstairs, in his living quarters, it is another story. But down here everything has to do with work and with being alone.
A disorderly profusion of printed pictorial matter covers the surfaces of tables in the middle of the room: art books, art journals, catalogues, brochures mingle with loose illustrations, photographs, odd pictures ripped from magazines. Scanning these complicated surfaces, the visitor feels something of the sense of rebuff he feels when looking at Salle’s paintings, a sense that this is all somehow none of one’s business. Here lie the sources of Salle’s postmodern art of “borrowed” or “quoted” images—the reproductions of famous old and modern paintings, the advertisements, the comics, the photographs of nude or half-undressed women, the fabric and furniture designs that he copies and puts into his paintings—but one’s impulse, as when coming into a room of Salle’s paintings, is to politely look away. Salle’s hermeticism, the private, almost secretive nature of his interests and tastes and intentions, is a signature of his work. Glancing at the papers he has made no effort to conceal gives one the odd feeling of having broken into a locked desk drawer.

On the walls of the studio are five or six canvases, on which Salle works simultaneously. In the winter of 1992, when I began visiting him in his studio, he was completing a group of paintings for a show in Paris in April. The paintings had a dense, turgid character. Silk-screen excerpts from Indian architectural ornament, chair designs, and photographic images of a woman wrapped in cloth were overlaid with drawings of some of the forms in Duchamp’s “The Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors, Even,” rendered in slashing, ungainly brushstrokes, together with images of coils of rope, pieces of fruit, and eyes. Salle’s earlier work had been marked by a kind of spaciousness, sometimes an emptiness, such as Surrealist works are prone to. But here everything was condensed, impacted, mired. The paintings were like an ugly mood. Salle himself, a slight, handsome man with shoulder-length dark hair, which he wears severely tied back, like a matador, was feeling bloody-minded. He was going to be forty the following September. He had broken up with his girlfriend, the choreographer and dancer Karole Armitage. His moment was passing. Younger painters were receiving attention. He was being passed over. But he was also being attacked. He was not looking forward to the Paris show. He hated Paris, with its “heavily subsidized aestheticism.” He disliked his French dealer. . . .

In a 1991 interview with the screenwriter Becky Johnston, during a discussion of what Johnston impatiently called “this whole Neo-Expressionist Zeitgeist Postmodernist Whatever-you-want-to-call-it Movement” and its habit of “constantly looking backward and reworking or recontextualizing art history,” the painter David Salle said, with disarming frankness, “You mustn’t underestimate the extent to which all this was a process of educating ourselves. Our generation was pathetically educated, just pathetic beyond imagination. I was better educated than many. Julian”—the painter Julian Schnabel—“was totally uneducated. But I wasn’t much better, frankly. We had to educate ourselves in a hundred different ways. Because if you had been hanging around the Conceptual artists all you learned about was the Frankfurt School. It was as if nothing existed before or after. So part of it was the pledge of self-education—you know, going to Venice, looking at great paintings, looking at great architecture, looking at great furniture—and having very early the opportunity to kind of buy stuff. That’s a form of self-education. It’s not just about acquisition. It was a tremendous explosion of information and knowledge.”

To kind of buy stuff. What is the difference between buying stuff and kind of buying it? Is “kind of buying” buying with a bad conscience, buying with the ghost of the Frankfurt School grimly looking over your shoulder and smiting its forehead as it sees the money actually leave your hand? This ghost, or some relative of it, has hung over all the artists who, like Salle, made an enormous amount of money in the eighties, when they were still in their twenties or barely into their thirties. In the common perception, there is something unseemly about young people getting rich. Getting rich is supposed to be the reward for hard work, preferably arriving when you are too old to enjoy it. And the spectacle of young millionaires who made their bundle not from business or crime but from avant-garde art is particularly offensive. The avant-garde is supposed to be the conscience of the culture, not its id.

All during my encounter with the artist David Salle—he and I met for interviews in his studio, on White Street, over a period of two years—I was acutely conscious of his money. Even when I got to know him and like him, I couldn’t dispel the disapproving, lefty, puritanical feeling that would somehow be triggered each time we met, whether it was by the sight of the assistant sitting at a sort of hair-salon receptionist’s station outside the studio door; or by the expensive furniture of a fifties corporate style in the upstairs loft, where he lives; or by the mineral water he would bring out during our talks and pour into white paper cups, which promptly lost their takeout-counter humbleness and assumed the hauteur of the objects in the Design Collection of the Museum of Modern Art.

Salle was one of the fortunate art stars of the eighties—young men and women plucked from semi-poverty and transformed into millionaires by genies disguised as art dealers. The idea of a rich avant-garde has never sat well with members of my generation. Serious artists, as we know them or like to think of them, are people who get by but do not have a lot of money. They live with second or third wives or husbands and with children from the various marriages, and they go to Cape Cod in the summer. Their apartments are filled with faded Persian carpets and cat-clawed sofas and beautiful and odd objects bought before anyone else saw their beauty. Salle’s loft was designed by an architect. Everything in it is sleek, cold, expensive, unused. A slight sense of quotation mark hovers in the air, but it is very slight—it may not even be there—and it doesn’t dispel the atmosphere of dead-serious connoisseurship by which the room is dominated.

During one of my visits to the studio of the artist David Salle, he told me that he never revises. Every brushstroke is irrevocable. He doesn’t correct or repaint, ever. He works under the dire conditions of performance. Everything counts, nothing may be taken back, everything must always go relentlessly forward, and a mistake may be fatal. One day, he showed me a sort of murdered painting. He had worked on it a little too long, taken a misstep, killed it.

The artist David Salle and I are sitting at a round table in my apartment. He is a slight, handsome man of thirty-nine, with dark shoulder-length hair, worn tightly sleeked back and bound with a rubber band, accentuating his appearance of quickness and lightness, of being sort of streamlined. He wears elegant, beautifully polished shoes and speaks in a low, cultivated voice. His accent has no trace of the Midwest, where he grew up, the son of second-generation Russian Jewish parents. It has no affectation, either. He is agreeable, ironic, a little detached. “I can’t remember what we talked about last time,” he says. “I have no memory. I remember making the usual artist’s complaints about critics, and then saying, ‘Well, that’s terribly boring, we don’t want to be stuck talking about that’—and then talking about that. I had a kind of bad feeling about it afterward. I felt inadequate.”

The artist David Salle and I met for the first time in the fall of 1991. A few months earlier, we had spoken on the telephone about a mystifying proposal of his: that I write the text for a book of reproductions of his paintings, to be published by Rizzoli. When I told him that there must be some mistake, that I was not an art historian or an art critic, and had but the smallest acquaintance with his work, he said no, there wasn’t a mistake. He was deliberately looking for someone outside the art world, for an “interesting writer,” who would write an unconventional text. As he talked, I found myself reluctant to say no to him then and there, even though I knew I would eventually have to refuse. Something about the man made me say I would think about it. He then said that to acquaint me with his work and with himself he would send some relevant writings. A few days later, a stylish package arrived, preceded by a telephone call from an assistant at Salle’s studio to arrange the details of delivery. It contained three or four exhibition catalogues, several critical articles, and various published interviews, together with a long interview that was still in typescript but was bound in a hard black cover. It was by the screenwriter Becky Johnston, who, I later learned, was an “interesting writer” Salle had previously approached to do the Rizzoli book. She had done the interview in preparation for the text but had never written it.

David Salle’s art has an appearance of mysterious, almost preternatural originality, and yet nothing in it is new; everything has had a previous life elsewhere—in master paintings, advertising art, comics, photographs. Other artists have played the game of appropriation or quotation that Salle plays—Duchamp, Schwitters, Ernst, Picabia, Rauschenberg, Warhol, Johns—but none with such reckless inventiveness. Salle’s canvases are like bad parodies of the Freudian unconscious. They are full of images that don’t belong together: a woman taking off her clothes, the Spanish Armada, a kitschy fabric design, an eye.

David Salle is recognized as the leading American postmodernist painter. He is the most authoritative exemplar of the movement, which has made a kind of mockery of art history, treating the canon of world art as if it were a gigantic, dog-eared catalogue crammed with tempting buys and equipped with a helpful twenty-four-hour-a-day 800 number. Salle’s selections from the catalogue have a brilliant perversity. Nothing has an obvious connection to anything else, and everything glints with irony and a sort of icy melancholy. His jarring juxtapositions of incongruous images and styles point up with special sharpness the paradox on which this art of appropriated matter is poised: its mysterious, almost preternatural appearance of originality. After one looks at a painting by Salle, works of normal signature-style art—paintings done in a single style with an intelligible thematic—begin to seem pale and meagre, kind of played out. Paintings like Salle’s—the unabashed products of, if not vandalism, a sort of cold-eyed consumerism—are entirely free of any “anxiety of influence.” For all their borrowings, they seem unprecedented, like a new drug or a new crime. They are rootless, fatherless and motherless.

The artist David Salle has given so many interviews, has been the subject of so many articles, has become so widely inscribed as an emblematic figure of the eighties art world that it is no longer possible to do a portrait of him simply from life. The heavy shadow of prior encounters with journalists and critics falls over each fresh encounter. Every writer has come too late, no writer escapes the sense of Bloomian belatedness that the figure of Salle evokes. One cannot behave as if one had just met him, and Salle himself behaves like the curator of a sort of museum of himself, helpfully guiding visitors through the exhibition rooms and steering them toward the relevant literature. At the Gagosian Gallery, on Madison Avenue, where he exhibits, there is a two-and-a-half-foot-long file drawer devoted exclusively to published writings about Salle’s art and person.

My own encounter with Salle was most heavily shadowed by the interviews he had given two writers, Peter Schjeldahl and Becky Johnston. Reading their dialogues with him was like listening to conversations between brilliant characters in a hastily written but inspired play of advanced ideas and intense, slightly mysterious relationships.

The spectre of wrongdoing hovers more luridly over visual art than over literature or music. The forger, the pornographer, and the fraud are stock figures in the allegory that constitutes the popular conception of the art world as a place of exciting evil and cunning. The artist David Salle has the distinction of being associated with all three crimes. His paintings are filled with “borrowed” images (twice he has settled out of court with irked owners); often contain drawings of naked or half-undressed women standing or lying in indecent, if not especially arousing, positions; and have an appearance of messy disjunction that could be dismissed (and has been dismissed by Hilton Kramer, Robert Hughes, and Arthur Danto) as ineptitude palming itself off as advanced art. Most critics, however, have without hesitation accepted Salle’s work as advanced art, and some of them—Peter Schjeldahl, Sanford Schwartz, Michael Brenson, Robert Rosenblum, and Lisa Liebmann, for example—have celebrated its transgressive quality and placed his paintings among the works that most authoritatively express our time and are apt to become its permanent monuments.

Monday, April 9, 2018

Perfect Night

Here are examples of some perfect nights to do or imagine.

Order in bad/good/basic Chinese food and put on favorite comfy outfit. Eat out of the box and listen to podcasts. Lie in bed and binge watch something that you would be a bit embarrassed to watch with anyone else. Take a sleeping pill around 10pm and get ready for bed. Go to bed.

Invite a friend over you haven’t seen in a while but every time you hangout it doesn’t feel like you missed a beat. Go to store together to pick up ingredients. Chop things together and drink wine. Have music playing low in the background. Cook things together and gossip (but not in a mean way). Eat together and talk about deeper topics. Clean up together and drink one more glass of wine and then say goodnight. Hug and say you want to see them again soon.

Text the person you are sleeping with and tell them you want to have sushi and sex. They are into it. They pick up sushi and bring to your place. You eat sushi in bed and then make out and have sex. Then you clean up sushi and they put on their clothes and leave.

Get text from friend near end of workday and meet them at a cheap bar for cheap drinks. Talk while it’s still light out. Buy a bag of chips to stave off hunger. Talk and talk and talk till you can’t talk anymore. Get on subway a bit buzzed but happy. Make yourself a quick easy, filling dinner and take a warm shower.

Meet a new person you are dating at an opening. Excited to see them but also have friends there so feels not too serious. See them. Say hi and chat. Sort of hang out with them but also with friends. If they seem cool to hang out with ask them to go to after party. If they are fun at the after party, maybe make out with them or hook up with them if you are bored or sad.

Have someone make you dinner and you sip wine on the couch and stay out of their way. You help with cleaning and do the dishes. Smoke cigarettes out the window and look at the city.

If it’s a snowstorm outside: You, your pets, something warm like a stew or soup. Bake something easy, like cookies. Read a book that is good and easy or maybe a poem or two out loud. Lots of blankets and candles.

It it’s hot outside: You, and a friend or lover, wearing, light, airy clothes, preferably only one article of clothing. Hat or sunglasses. An iced beverage, like lemonade. A piece of fabric to be used as a sheet/table to sit/lay on. Comfortable shoes so you can explore. Weed if you smoke weed. Cigarettes and roof access.

Go to the museum at night. Meet on the steps. Get tickets. Walk near each other but don’t hold hands. Go to the park. Walk and maybe hold hands if you feel romantic towards them. If not, it’s okay to still feel close to them. Throw rocks into water. Go to an old timey bar or deli. Eat and drink casually. Outside if it’s warm. Take subway back downtown. Both close eyes and relax. Say goodbye when you part ways.

Go to friends house for a dinner party. Meet interesting people. Drink and eat yummy things. Feel warm and excepted. Feel fresh and invigorated. Share ideas not small talk. Want to feel close to everyone but not in a possessive way. Help friend be the best host they can be but not taking over. Meet someone you want to be better friends with. Leave with new emails/phone numbers and say you will contact them but you know it probably won’t happen and that’s ok.

Watch a movie on the couch. Spoon. Snuggle. Make out. Pause Movie. Have Sex. Continue to watch movie on the couch. Repeat as many times as you want to.  

Monday, April 2, 2018


I went to the show at The Met, Like Life, Sculpture, Color, And The Body (1300 - Now), this weekend and it is show everyone should see. I could go on and on about it but I'm too busy today sadly... If you haven’t seen it yet, go. It’s dense, full and it makes you feel all sorts of things but more than that it makes you think things. Animal things. Fleshy, pinprick things. Sex. Death...

We are just vessels on this earth and who knows what for or why.

I have been thinking about the body in other ways as well. My own and others.

My own because I have to do something that makes me think of it as a thing. An absorbing pad of water, muscles and veins which ceaselessly pumps and moves and lives.

Others because the presence or absence of another person can feel like a blessing or a curse. It’s strange the twinged awareness you can feel when someone is missing not just in thought but in flesh.

We all have bodies. We all want bodies. We all hate bodies. We all hurt bodies.

I’m having a bit of brain/body detachment as I have too much to do to fully write but bloop. There were some thoughts. Go see the MET show! And look at yourself naked in a full-length mirror (alone) at least once in a while. It’s strange. Wild.

The Opposite of the Body, by Robin Ekiss

Of the face in general, let me say it’s a house
built by men and lived in by their dreams.

When you’ve been plucking eyes
out of the floorboards as long as I have,

you’ll see this, just as you’d see
the patience it requires

to render an eyebrown, half an hour
and an understanding of architecture.

When you see your body,
think its opposite: not the bridge,

but its lighted face reflecting the water,
some other city as seen from a ship—

your forehead, once ponderous,
now light as umbrellas—

still not beautiful enough to make time stop.
The pleasure in being a woman’s

knowing everything’s borrowed
and can’t be denied,

as when you take apart a clock,
there’s always another inside.