Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Hey sailor, what's in your drawers?

This evening I attended a vernissage at The Atlantic Gallery on W28th Street. They are presenting a group show called S-7 (The Sunday Seven) and it involves among the seven artists a certain Robert Fontanelli who is an acquaintance of ours. Following the invitation is one of Robert's pieces.

Robert’s work is articulate. Punchy. Robust. Chaud-comique. (You may recall the video I made of his birthday party at the Zipper Factory.) He’s a strangely dirty little boy who has, in this show, neatly deflowered my reverence for mid-century modern furniture. He’s comtemplating the actual construction of two of his renderings. I am particularly fond of another piece of his called “Horny Sailor Nite Stand” that you will find on his website, and I pine for the day when it is fabricated, mass-produced and available at IKEA.

Here's the boy himself, although for some reason, my camera chose to adjust the coloring of the moment. His hat is actually kelly green. Even with Photoshop, I can't rectify this unless I falsely retint everything. I tried.

I liked 90% of this show which is, for me, an amazing statistic. Some of the pieces were sniffingly stylish to the point of somnambulism. Poses in which the model can almost be heard to quietly burp up the fumes of burnt poppy. The best of the lot were Robert’s and those of Richard Rosenfeld.

I am once again reminded of the impossible task of defining the pornographic. Here is a room full of depictions of attractive male bodies with sexual parts intact and sometimes prominent. These images, while sexually charged, are not pornographic. A pornographic effort has to have some seizure of the viewer, an undertow, a granting of what had been denied, a forced surrender, a quickening of the heart, and the “little death”, or at least its promise. There has to be a collaring. A grappling. A ramping-up. These images are leisurely even when they smolder. Also, pornography is rarely stylized (not that it can’t be – witness some Joe Gage films) for there’s almost no reason to go beyond the relentless lighting, the clear and flat focus, the believable skin tones.

Pornography is by nature wasteful. It is driven to scoop out the very center of the melon, casting aside whole edible sections. It is blind to the outer rings of its target. Maybe it is simply that pornography is a tool. It is functional rather than ornamental. I don’t know. I suppose in this world there’s somebody who will whack off to a picture of almost anything, and that would make me terrifically wrong about all this, wouldn’t it? I don’t much care, but I’d rather like to draw as well as some of The Sunday Seven.

Monday, July 28, 2008

"This is a highly irregular procedure"

On Sunday,at 8AM, we wander into Central Park with morning coffee in hand. We swing by "the balloon" assuming that it would still be grounded because the breeze felt just as strong as the Saturday breeze that had forced cancellation of all flights. We were surprised to find it in operation, and the line short!

Here's a video of our ascent. The first ranks of buildings that skirt the park made me feel as if I were in the centre of Stonehenge. The slow and silent turning of the balloon made the impact of the view both stunning and calming.

Here we look south. That's the old Plaza Hotel on the left.

Here, we look west at our neighborhood. That's the Dakota on the left.
Here are the Bow Bridge and the Ramble. If those trees could talk.

Here is a video of our descent.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Returning you to our regularly scheduled programming

Click for clarity:

At last Tuesday's drawing class in Fort Lauderdale, I found myself with little patience or focus. I tried new approaches. Broad strokes of color first rather than black lines. To keep plugging along for two hours rather than pack it up and slip out the door is what makes for discipline and discipline is what eventually brings results. The model got himself into some startling positions not recreated here.

Jim and Dan have been together for twenty years. They had a commitment ceremony on Friday night.

Among the 150 guests were were a good number of friends and neighbors from New York, Fort Lauderdale and Provincetown. Here are Ptownies Jim, Paul Bisaccia (the accomplished pianist) and Michael. In the old days, when Michael and I both had three-bedroom homes in Ptown, a typical phone call was "Michael, did you rent out August 20-27 yet, cuz I'm full up and I've got three parties of six that'll pay just about anything for that week. First group is lesbians. They asked about plumbing. Second group is Chelsea boys. Watch out. Third group has dogs and kids. Toss up. Double your rates, and you owe me dinner."

The reception soon spun out of control, with Tom and Michael dismantling the table settings to celebrate Mass with host, chalice and chalice veil.

As a wedding gift, we are gving them a painting of mine titled "Comparing notes on the morning after Halloween". In it, Jim and Dan are the guys sitting in our Provincetown garden (with C standing on the stool). Be careful what you admire because you just might get it as a gift. In this case, I think they really do like it. Anyway, it's going to a stable home.

On Saturday, the boys gathered on Bear Hill in Central Park where we received an account of a weekend on Fire Island, made plans to celebrate an important birthday for Joe in San Francisco next year, and I was prodded for Nickular details.

And then there's the balloon ride in Central Park. I'll post the video later today. So wonderful to be 300 feet up in the air in something that is absolutely silent and slowly turning to give you a 360 view of Manhattan from Central Park. (They have given up taking reservations, so I'd simply recommend getting there early, but not tomorrow morning when Kelly Ripa will be there to take a ride.)

Saturday, July 19, 2008

I love you, Raven.

UPDATE: She will not be going under the hammer at Carmax afterall. Through Craigslist, she'll be shipped tomorrow to Africa. There was competition between the buyer (a vehicle exporter) and his rival who exports to Costa Rica. Apparently this is a big business down here, with Toyota, Honda and Mercedes being the most desirable. Raven is considering this a post-retirement adventure. She is reading Baroness Karen von Blixen's Out of Africa and will probably have it finished by the time she is rolled off the ship in Mombasa.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

One down. One to go.

From this

to this

on time and on budget. Once the paint dries, I'll roll the refrigerator into the alcove behind the far wall. It had been a broom closet.

I rather made my selections keyed to these two apothecary jars I acquired thirty years ago in Orvieto which is about an hour north of Rome. They seem at home with the periwinkle blue Merola glass tiles, Delorean gray grout and the Silestone counter in "Stellar Snow" (it has tiny flecks of mirror in it that twinkle like a New York sidewalk.)

And it's grand to look at the ocean while I'm cooking. If anyone is doing a renovation in the Fort Lauderdale area, I have nothing but the highest praise for the company that gave me this new kitchen, and will gladly recommend them. And then there is Home Depot's Russell. The most efficient, intelligent, careful, insightful and helpful kitchen designer ever to walk the planet.

(On a more sour note, our NYC renovation, stalled for two years, will finally move forward now that the evil contractor eager for an out-of-court settlement has given in to the demands of our lawyer.)

Monday, July 14, 2008

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Zero Hour

I get a little tense when I venture away from the beach. As long as I have an eye on the sea and can follow the coastline, I am assured as to where north lies. With an eagle’s eye, I’d surely spot C in New York as I talk to him on the phone.

Inland, I’ve mastered the route to the Home Depot, Publix and Slammer so that I don’t need to turn off the radio in order to concentrate on reaching them. (They are all conveniently located on the same street, as is home!) Everything else demands extreme attention, so you can imagine why I felt like Amelia Earhart-Frodo while on my thirty-minute way to the Stagedoor Theater in Coral Springs, and in the rain.

Give me my medals, for I made it on time.

I had come to see “Zero Hour”, a one-man show about Zero Mostel, written by and starring Jim Brochu, the partner of Steve Schalchlin. (I had seen Jim and Steve in the New York production of “The Big Voice: God or Merman?” which I entirely loved.)

Before the play began, Steve and I were talking about the fact that neither of us can be expected to drive a car from one place to another without some confusion, and that that is why we both have partners who excel at the business of the compass. As couples, we are both modern iterations of the biblical “Martha and Mary” in which one worked in the kitchen while the other sat at the feet of the Master, knowing that it was her lot in life, and that she shouldn’t mess with God’s plan by offering to set the table.

Then the house lights were extinguished, and from the very first second of “Zero Hour”, it became clear that Jim would drive, and that there would be cliffs, hairpin turns, dangerous intersections, and even a sideways hurdling M-15 Crosstown bus. Not to worry, he got us through the evening intact and thrilled with the ride. Be forewarned: this is not your grandmother’s one-man show. This is a startling, electrifying and explosive two-hour tour of a man who has a lot to say and doesn’t have time to make nice or to wait for us to ask the right questions.

I hate reviews that give away the particulars of a play, so I’d like to focus on the audience for a moment. No empty seats, and by dint of word of mouth and excellent reviews, the run has been extended. And yet, this is one tough cookie of a crowd composed mainly of local older married/pastel couples in which the yin and yang of husband and wife are expressed by interlocking bulges. Hers, the heliumed and champagne-tinted bouffant anchored with giant taupe sunglasses. His, the wide and white leather equator holding together a golfing ensemble as would someone’s bubbe clutch children and family heirlooms while in steerage from the old world. These people know from Jewish and New York. If you are going to stand on a stage before them and be funny or wise, you had better be damn good, because they’ve been there, they’ve heard it, they’ve said it and they’ve lived it.

Tonight, they loved it. They were rapt, as was I, by Jim’s performance. Even when they weren’t laughing, they were nodding or murmuring with agreement or entirely still during the tough moments, in that way in which you can almost see an unbroken plasmic connection between the man on stage and each member of the audience. I am quite sure that if it were not for the constant recharge he got from the audience, Jim would surely have fallen from exhaustion due to the relentless demands of what he has written for himself and delivers brilliantly and without a moment’s let up.

About the show itself, I came into it fearing the worst, as is my way (I also enter the Home Depot, Publix and Slammer with that attitude). I’ve sat through some one-man shows that are wistful rehashes that cobble together the actual bits from someone’s life without ever managing to justify the presumption that we ought to be interested because, well, we already know he’s famous. In this case, (and with this in mind, I later quizzed Jim over dinner about several lines, wanting to know if Zero had actually said them. Oh, and may I say that all those jokes about this being the land of the 4PM dinner are true. Even the nearby Coconut Creek Seminole Casino’s famous buffet closes before the show is over.) Jim has written entirely original dialogue (with an invisible interviewer seated among us) based on the frightening facts of the boldfaced Zero Mostel.

Have you ever encountered someone in a public place, someone who has a story to tell, and might be a little crazy, and it is so enthralling that you don’t want to break away, that you can’t break away, and you don’t care that you are going to be late for your destination because your plans are nothing compared to what this man is saying, and because you are smart enough to want to learn something from such a one?

That is “Zero Hour”. There are plans to bring it to New York where it will throttle and delight an even more demanding audience. If you miss it, you had better admit to yourself that you are just one of those people who is not curious about the strange lives of men who collar you and demand your ear. That you don’t want wisdom and a window into what really happened to people we might have seen only in passage. And if that is you, I cannot imagine why you’d be here reading this blog. If you are here, this show, “Zero Hour”, is for you.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

"Playing the Building" by David Byrne

I wish I had more time to script these ragged little reviews but the time-consuming mechanics of producing the "imovie" on the Mac prohibit more work on the text. Let's all assume that I actually intend the raw and homespun quality of this video, and that you wouldn't really trust my opinion if it were more carefully packaged. Anyway, the installation will be up through sometime in August, and you can get more info at or at the "Creative Time" website.

No time to linger, as I'm off the see Jim Brochu in "Zero Hour" at a theater in Coral Springs.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

drawing class

Last night I attended my second drawing class. I was too shy to ask the model if she wouldn't mind sweeping back her hair which was obscuring the head/neck/shoulder connection. I think the uninspired results I got are because of this. Getting the basic frame down on paper was challenging. Like trying to place clothing on hangers in a pitch black closet. You make guesses, but that I could have done at home.

I am not ordinarily seated three feet away from a naked woman. The experience was for me entirely nonsexual, as in entirely nonsexual, as in, I mean, really nonsexual. The model was certainly voluptuous and I suspect that there may have been a heterosexual male in the room who might have been aroused by her body. Me? I was distracted by that damn hair, and by the tattoo of a strawberry placed strategically, and, alarmingly, when one considers the pain its execution must have caused on what is undoubtedly the most sensitive part of anyone's body. (I think this fruit would not have been visible were it not for her extreme shaving.)

While sketching away, my mind wandered into thinking about the simple and obvious logic of the human anatomy. The parts are designed to fit. Not like what sometimes happens at the Home Depot where one might purchase a box full of something only to find out at home that the attachments don't couple correctly or that key parts are missing. I wondered if my lifetime insistence about the docking of my own fittings and couplings ought not to be amended to include what the manual would probably recommend. But I have never read my own manual. No one reads the manual we are each born with, so we don't know whether or not it directs us all toward the same performance of the obvious plug-and-outlet insertion, or, are ten percent of us born with more exotic manuals, written in French....

After the two hour session was over, and we were walking out into the parking lot, I said to a lady artist with whom I was chatting , "What would you think of a man who owned a perfectly good toaster but never plugged it in?"
She responded, "What would you think of a woman who was headed to the supermarket with a craving for strawberries?"

Monday, July 07, 2008

[title of show] " It's a bloy, Mrs. Walker, it's a bloy!"

PS: My comment about the way the show ends deserves considerable expansion which really rather proves my point that this really is half play/half blog. And also, I forgot to mention that any of you with a small "boutique" blog - like this one - will absolutely stand up and cheer during the song that says "I'd rather be nine people's favorite thing than the ninth favorite thing of a hundred people."

And, of course, after the play, we repaired to a quiet and somber little place for some serious discussion about the future of the American theater.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

La Famiglia di Orgoglio

The starting and stopping of the rain made photos difficult, and there are several friends who stopped by our corner and left unsnapped.

You'll see bloggers David, Ed and Joe in this one:

Here's blogger Eric:

You'll see Crixi and bloggers Joe and Chris in this one:

Here's John B, who, many, many years ago, served as my altar boy. I guess I didn't quite inspire him to get ordained, but because my past is above reproach, I never mind running into it on the street.

Ready to hitch a ride on the S.A.G.E* float?

As footnote to this post, this candid shot was sent to us by our dear Hell's Kitchen/Fort Lauderdale friends, P&B.
I suspect the words "old enough to be their grandfathers" were going through our heads at that moment.

*S.A.G.E = Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders (previously, Senior Action in a Gay Environment)