LETTERS FROM YOUR WORKING BOY
Let me examine my priorities. My day job employer is wondering why I have not put any hay in the trough while I continue to graze from a diminishing bale. My landlady has suddenly and mistakenly realized that she wants a rich inner home life and would like to replace me and my quiet canvases with her new young stud and his Harley. Driver Number Fourteen, Mohammed, is demanding an extra $3.00 per hour for hush money or he will call the Vice Squad and I now have an urgent deadline for my column in the Coagula Art Journal. Oh yes, and my new psychiatrist wants to refer my unusual condition, not to another medical specialist, but to an Art Curator.
THE ECONOMIC DEVASTATION OF WAR
My day job is an artist's dream. The hours are flex, the work leans to the creative and there is always a hopeful whiff of easy money to keep the nose closer to the grindstone. Unfortunately, at Happy Daze Pronto Promo, financial security and well being is a laugh, for I must sing for my supper and this warbler has been off key. With an emphasis in the film world, Happy Daze Pronto Promo makes products that promote your disposable income into the back pocket of Hollywood's wide waisted pants. You see, it is cheaper to get folks to talk up a movie (word of mouth) than it is to advertise at them. I work on commission and since the first of the year, my revenues have tied a white bandanna with a bold Red Sun on its forehead and kamikaze'd into the deck of the rowboat that is my bank account.
Eager for a blockbuster, I made the mistake of dropping my anchor with Wallyworld Studios and their exciting new summer release "May Day on Midway." I have always liked carnival pictures with a collectivist theme. Excitedly, I spent months coming up with promotional products such as a red banner emblazoned with a hammer and sickle-styled Ferris Wheel or a Stalin-esque nutcracker that sings "May Day on Midway" in a high falsetto. My favorite was a vodka bottle in the shape of Lenin's head; booze is always popular with underpaid entertainment editors.
It was not until the first meeting with Wallyworld Studios that I learned "May Day on Midway" is actually a sacred, big budget World War Two-action pic with a cast of young lookers whose greatest acting talents lay in their strong jaws and capped teeth. Excitedly, I realized this was a bonzai and I'd be rolling in the dough. Quick on my feet, I suggested they re-title the picture "Abercrombie and Fitch Goes to War." Surely the title change would bring in the youngsters and provide a natural clothing tie-in. Suddenly, the altimeter of the meeting dipped and went into a slow crash drive, but I kept flying. The logo'd chopsticks were considered racially insensitive to the Japanese. Ditto to the glass jar of Coffee Nips. The authentic WWII live ammo, which was to be sent as a mailer, was considered too dangerous even though I am sure the stunt would have attracted some press. The condoms which read "Stick it to 'Em!" did not inspire the patriotic fervor that I had hoped. When I pitched the bag of "Emperor Hirohito Brand Hawaiian Kona Coffee" they revoked my gate pass to the studio lot. Every idea that I presented went down in flames and so followed my income. Ironically, the only thing I can now afford to eat is steamed white rice.
THE DOG HOUSE
At this time in the booming housing market, even the Los Angeles slumlords are repainting apartments and planting posies in the front yard. The vacancy rate has dropped to two percent while the rental rates have flown skyward to Gotham heights. My needs are modest and simple. I am looking for a well appointed three bedroom apartment or house, well suited for entertaining, with a small detached studio with twenty foot ceilings and running water. I can afford a cap of $650 a month including utilities and cable. All I have found is a doghouse with the water dish included.
As always, the blame can be placed on the goddamn immigrants. The high rent dot.com fury in San Francisco has forced half of the Foggy Bunch down to Los Angeles. Across the country, Manhattan artists, eager to cash in on the booming LA art market, have packed their palettes and headed West. (Author's Note: Laughing at the notion of the LA Art Boom, I spewed coffee onto my notes, thus obliterating the rest of this piece. My apologies.)
The New Times Los Angeles recently voted the Coagula Art Journal as the "Best Art Magazine." Thank God I first read it in the restroom. How wrong they are! That goddamned Coagula Art Journal has done nothing but bring me grief and discredit. My Momma was right when she said you are judged by the company that you keep; I should have listened to the old gal. There is no blood on my hands but I continually find myself standing on the wrong end of a slingshot. Just mention Coagula and people start to squirm. Gallerists recognize my name and want to see the work until they realize where that recognition comes from. Collectors are a funny tight-knit bunch, like a Fraternity of Envy. They subscribe, hoping their names are mentioned with flattery and intelligence. The next year, they renew, fearing the opposite. Several years ago, one major collector, upset about something that someone else (correctly) wrote in Coagula, started attacking as soon as I entered a charity art auction. Taken by surprise at the hostility unleashed at such a placid event, I staggered to defend myself. An opportunistic Bergamot dealer, eager for business and the much needed alliance, witnessed the altercation and leap to the offense of the collector. Once I even had to break up a fistfight when an embezzler of an arts organization physically attacked a fellow scribe. Most artists read Coagula and are grateful for the refreshment and commiseration. Then again, every time I see painter Dani Tull, he asks, "Slander anyone lately?" In our funny little art world ruled by fad and fashion, our aesthetic convictions have the real world weight of dust in the wind; we, and curators especially, are deeply passionate for such little consequence. Curators tend to be a humorless bunch; they love Coagula the least while fearing it the most. Frankly, there is nothing joyful about a high minded intellectual: Beauty is hard edged. Laughter is the product of dullards and dimwits. A banana peel has no opportunity and every balloon has room for more hot air.
My landlady is now tapping her coral colored nails hard and loud on the Formica countertop. She is tinkling the ice in her vodka just to annoy me. The cigarette smoke spews from her nostrils like an angry bull as she watches Your Working Boy write this column. She has circled the "Apartments For Rent" section of the newspaper with such force that it has ripped through to the comics page. She inches it toward me. I should be looking for new quarters. I should be hustling for a new show. I should be thinking of new ways to promote some movie I'd never wanna see. Instead, I shall hold my deadline with the same conviction that braver boys held their line on the isle of Midway.
I've been writing for this rag since 1996. Only a true libertine knows the joy of aiming the barrel at one's foot and pulling the trigger.
AN UNUSUAL (AND PREFERABLE) MEDICAL CONDITION
I first started having the psychotic episodes in earnest four or five years ago, although I recall having had them since puberty. Even though they have totaled only several hundred or so, the attacks have been occurring with a greater frequency since the turn of the Millennium. My psychiatrist, the eminent Dr. Emile Von Burstebagge has been busy trying to determine the trigger in order to control and stop them. I, on the other hand, prefer to encourage them.
The attacks, or "Little Beauties" as I like to call them, have a very long-winded and complicated medical name of many syllables and upside-down consonants but if Jean Baudrillard or Umberto Eco were to weigh in, they would give a thumbs up to "a psychological manifestation of the HyperReal." It is a preferred state of being, a psychosomatic redistribution of reality. At first I thought Dr. Von Burstebagge was trying to convince me that I like to wear children's cartooned underwear but in his thick and generally unintelligible Austrian accent, he was trying to explain that "it is the American sheer sense of will to avoid disappointment that forces the condition." When I thought he was trying to order a pizza with heavy anchovies during another one of our sessions, he was actually trying to convey that "boredom may be the trigger or the portal to the HyperReal." This seems to explain a great deal.
For example, I recently was on a First Date with all of its attendant joy, optimism and dread. Since I am not allowed to pilot an auto, my sex life has all but dried up and blown away. Not being able to drive in Los Angeles is a deal killer and showing up with my driver is odd, pretentious and effects too many questions. So with a few lies and a taxi, I leapt back into the dating pool. This Prince finds few who are worthy to wear my crown but this time my scepter was stirring. I had high hopes; this was someone I could share a Sinatra ballad with - or so I thought. Between the first and second margarita, the conversation fell to the cover story in People Magazine and a debate whether Chyna could take The Rock in arm wrestling. It seems that I escaped from the monotony with one of my attacks or "Little Beauties." My date detected nothing unusual or untoward, but it seems that when my intuition first detected a mismatch, even before I consciously did, the HyperReal thankfully kicked in. The trigger is the time between hopefulness and ugly realization. It was when I thought the smile was warm, sweet and genuine but before I realized it was very toothy, unnaturally white and frighteningly wide. It is when the hopefulness of having a marvelous time segues into a waste of time.
The next day I questioned the waiter. Serving the fifth margarita, he remembered overhearing a conversation that was dancing around monster trucks, Christina Aguilera and Beck's Scientology. I, on the other hand, clearly recall running down a sandy white beach, hand in hand, with my date. There was an eternal calm humming through my rib cage, filling my muddy heart with sweet wines and gentle incense. I was diving into a warm crystal blue sea, sinking deep and drifting far. Without fear, I inhaled the aquamarine, filling my lungs and giving me breath. My knees moved to my chest and there my arms met in a position most fetal. The next thing I abruptly remember after that was paying the check and getting the hell out of there.
Later in my next session, when I thought Dr. Von Burstebagge in his damnable accent was suggesting that I engage in a leather strappin' three way with both my parents, he was in fact struggling to suggest that the attacks are "a titanic battle between the right and left side of the brain, between hopefulness and creativity versus the dull, ugly actuality of our world." It seems that artists are more susceptible to this phenomena that others.
Who is not susceptible to this phenomena
is my insurance company. Cobalt Cross of California is objecting
to the airfare that brings Dr. Von Burstebagge in from Austria
twice a week. As part of my therapy, he also wants me to see several
specialists, art curators if you will, one from MOMA, the other
from the Walker and the third, a gallerist in Santa Fe. Cobalt
Cross is refusing to pay all three. Personally, I am fighting
tooth and nail for a translator in my sessions; the miscommunication
between the Doctor and I is getting me into more trouble and stranger
situations than even I can fathom.
Los Angeles based artist GORDY GRUNDY has trouble determining his priorities. His rather extensive and elaborate website (http://www.GordyGrundy.com) is another such waste of time.