Thursday, September 24, 2015


Here in Paris, all the cool people are old.

The swaggering public intellectual Bernard-Henri Lévy is a spry sixty-six. The provocative contrarian novelist Michel Houellebecq is fifty-nine. And though I'm often mistaken for a fit fifty-five, the ugly truth is that I'll be fifty-seven this winter.

Unfortunately, things are much different across the Atlantic.  If Miley Cyrus is already stressed about her stretch marks where's the hope for wretched talents like the thirty-two year old political activist Stacy Freidhof or the equally ancient twenty-nine year old TV personality Darwash Ripling?

You can only imagine what it's like for someone as old and as insecure as my good friend David Schoffman. 

 Like his leathery jowls his stock has migrated south. In the United States of Juvenescence you're considered washed up shortly after you receive your driver's license. For an artist over there there's no such thing as "late style," "mastery," or a ripened career's "triumphant dénouement." No, in muscular America callow is king!

But David, a man of your talent and experience ... must you capitulate to this perversion of priorities. You and I both know that there is no substitute for seasoned reasoning, experience and time. Why do you insist on groveling toward the base instincts of your ignorant countrymen? Why must you play the fool with your pathetic masquerade?

Shagging young Hollywood starlets is bad enough.

Must you carpet your brilliant dome as well!?


Thursday, September 03, 2015


Any schmuck can join a cult but it takes a real genius to start one.
Not that it's particularly difficult persuading people that the burden of thinking for oneself is best relinquished to a higher authority. Folks have always done that.
But why do some systems catch on while others struggle to stay intact?
A cult has to make the cultee, in the argot of our time, "feel better about themselves." I'm no psychologist but when you start introducing unreasonable taboos - shrimp, sex, checking accounts - pretty soon you're going to start having recruitment and retention problems.
The genius lies in the packaging. 
So while struggling to earn the small fortune he feels so entitled to, my good friend David Schoffman has attempted to create a cult of personality revolving around the most unlikely theme.
Grafting the sedative bromides from the vernacular of awareness training, David has twisted the time-honored tradition of figure drawing into a form of therapy.
His students - or more precisely, his followers - pay upwards of $4700 to attend a five week course called "Courage, Contentment, Chiaroscuro," where he gently guides them toward the fugitive euphoria of invented self-esteem.
There are no mistakes in David's course. No proportion problems, no awkward line quality, no attempts at verisimilitude, in fact there is absolutely no mention of drawing as an area of technical or aesthetic expertise.
Every student leaves knowing that they are awesome artists and that their true potential conveniently awaits in the more reasonably priced "Advanced Course."
In an art world governed by duplicity, where fortunes are made in the speculative investment in specious concepts and shoddy talents, where celebrity and glitz count more than quality and ignorant consultants offer ignorant advice to their ignorant clients I think that what David is doing may well be considered virtuous.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015


It's easy for the tepid to be idolatrous. For the moderately talented and the under-ambitious deferring to another's achievements is as easy as breathing.

The pale appeal of third-party genius is a coward's escutcheon against failure. For all his gifts, my good friend David Schoffman lacks the most vital one.


Nowhere is his surrender more evident than in his groundless veneration of the Los Angeles artist Dahlia Danton.

Staunch in his sincerity he's been blind to her every flaw. But even the most ludicrous forms of lionization have their bitter limits and as everyone knows, the flip-side of reverence is revulsion.

But the disgust has a unique tinge to it for its object is rarely its cause. Lashing out at one's hero is merely a reflection of what psychologists call "fawning fatigue" - the abject exhaustion that comes from relentless and baseless unconditional love.

In an embarrassing display of mousy indecision David recently recanted a glowing encomium published in the online arts journal The Harps of Heaven. Without referring to her explicitly by name Schoffman described a "certain type of artist who under the pretense of stanching the aesthetic lesions of modernism, creates a fantasy of prettified pretentiousness full of frolicking figures concealed in an idyll of reactionary formalism."

Dahlia Danton 2014

 The reference was clear. 

Going so far as to refer to "artists of this sort" as "hypocrites", Schoffman was throwing the gauntlet of open revolt.

The entire spectacle has been unseemly and for those of us who are intimate with both David and Danton the social and intellectual barricades have been aggressively drawn. You are either with the one or you're against the other which makes attending a Los Angeles art opening particularly awkward.

Lucky for me I'm in France where the only object of unqualified veneration is the sacred month of August.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015


Ever since my good friend David Schoffman marooned upon the golden shores of the Pacific his intellectual compass has skewed to the south. This one time tireless cultural warrior, this beacon of probity and enlightened rectitude has slowly descended into the fiery ring of the fatuous and the feather-headed.

As if any more evidence was wanting, he recently appeared on what seems to be some sort of political/literary televised panel on the subject of American aggression.

I know that when one lives in Los Angeles the thrill of appearing on the small screen is always a thrilling prospect but I'm afraid my poor, camera-ready friend was well beyond his depth.

I think he must be spending too much time at the beach.

Friday, July 31, 2015


For all his worldly success, my good friend David Schoffman is a walking parody of propitious intent.

He feigns the proper bearings of rectitude but when the curtain is drawn he's as phony as the day is long.

I saw evidence of this recently when David was here making the final adjustments for a small scale sculptural installation at L'Institut des Mensonges. We were at dinner at Le Timbre with a couple belles mannequins Suedoise that my dealer, Patric Gouleaux brought along to gin up the evening and it was amazing to see this American blowhard in action.

"How do you manage to do it all?" asked Signe (or was it Moa ... I couldn't really tell them apart). "Between your paintings, your installations, your writing, your triathlon training, your teaching, your bicycle racing, your bluegrass band, your Vipassana meditation retreats, your reality TV role, your children, your wife ... how do you manage to fit it all in!?" 

Knowing the less polished Schoffman, I too was wondering how he was able to fit in so much foutaise de cochon before we even finished our amuse-bouches.

He said it was fairly simple, that ever since his King Charles Spaniel Rocco died he came to the realization that life was ridiculously short. He cited how Seneca practiced daily for his own demise and that to live life to the fullest one must "seize the day!"

I have to hand it to the guy. I've never met anyone more capable of treading the dewy moss of cliché more convincingly than David. Unless he met his match in flagrant insincerity I would say he had our two young Swedes unctuously nibbling at his toes like cockatiels.

One need only read the tabloids to learn that David is an indifferent teacher, an indolent athlete, a spiritual cynic, an absentee parent and a philandering spouse.

 With David, it's all about priorities and like most inveterate narcissists his chief and predominant priority is himself. 

But it's all about packaging and the wholesome image David has managed to curate for himself seems to work well in puritanical California.

Much to his disappointment, it works well in Scandinavia too.

Sunday, July 26, 2015


It all started innocently enough. 

On the occasion of his 59th birthday my good friend David Schoffman received a gift certificate for four deep tissue geriatric massages from this Thai place around the corner from his studio.

He was never really into massages before - the thought of being kneaded like a baguette never particularly appealed to him - but Thai massage is somewhat different and by the second session he was prepared to revise his biased predisposition.

By the third he was in love.

By the fourth he was consumed. 

There's a cruel, unconscious aspect to the creative enterprise. Artists in their hubris believe that all is allowed and that which is forbidden is ultimately forgiven.

While this may arguably be the case with geniuses like Picasso in the case of Schoffman the needle quivers a wee bit closer to the red zone of the verboten.

And yet there he was in hot pursuit, obsessed with a masseuse named Chuasiri. In the beginning it seemed more or less within the bounds of the barely permissible but fairly quickly it entered the uncomfortable realm of the downright weird.  

Decorous to a fault, David is often described as the perfect gentleman but Chuasiri was an idolatress and among the pagans gentlemen are of little use.

She insisted that my poor friend David treat her like a golden calf and she continually seduced him with the irresistibly agile magic of her distal phalanges . She led him like a dog on a leash and soon the once willful painter became as pliant as a spaniel on a platter.

Though not nearly as edible.

He showered her with gifts and lavished her with attention. He would watch her sleep and meditate to the mantra of her saffroned exhalations. He would study her body as if it were a map and he committed to his faulty memory every follicle and mole.

He became an authority. It was as if he were an expert arboriculturist and Chuasiri was some rare and beautiful variety of shrub.

She demanded his full attention and he gave himself willingly, unquestioningly and with a slavish obsequiousness that was barely recognizable.

It got to the point where he literally couldn't take his eyes off of her and he eventually met with an "exit counselor," a therapist specializing in deprogramming people who have lost their identities to sects and cults. He slowly learned that there were others equally adept in tenderizing his rhomboids and oiling his obliques. He soon saw that Chausiri didn't hold the exclusive secret to corpuscular soothing and there were others out there who could slacken his lats and palliate his pecs.

He still goes to the beach and studies women in tiny bikinis but in Southern California that's fairly de rigueur. He has his obsessions pretty much under control and has learned to put to good use his newfound powers of prolonged concentration.

His beach watercolors are pretty popular and sometimes he's able to barter one or two for a free barefoot shiatsu. 

Or even a cranial rolf and a partial body wax or two.

Thursday, July 16, 2015


I love my old Californian friend David Schoffman but he can be a real ninny sometimes.

In French you would call him un cancre. It's sort of hard to translate but the closest English equivalent would probably be "a dunce." 

The guy has skill and no shortage of intelligence but when it comes to what is known here as l'image de marque personnel ( I think you call it "the personal brand"), he's as hopeless as a cucumber, (désespérée comme un concombre).

He exhibits  paintings like this

 when he could just as easily make a respectable living and cultivate a reasonable reputation by peddling pictures like this:

But David is far too sophisticated to be tainted by sentimentality. These little watercolored baubles that he sketches so effortlessly lack the gravitas that he thinks his "real" paintings possess in abundance.

I have some bad, sobering news for my over-educated friend.

Nobody cares!!

This isn't turn-of-the-century Vienna. The literary café has been permanently rebuked by the free Wi-Fi at Starbucks. Opinion and argument, once valued as evidence of intellectual agility have been thoroughly displaced by the bland affirmations of "following," "poking" and "liking".

And speaking of poking in Vienna, the wittty Karl Kraus asserted many years ago that "art serves to rinse out our eyes." 

I'm not sure if he was being serious but in crackpot California the eyes of the educated are drowning in a golden shower of shite and if I were David I would wake up and smell the pee pee.

My suggestion is to crank out the watercolors with the dewy-eyed children and just throw in some ironic consequentialism and a few hypothetical syllogisms. Add some allusions to transgenderism and popular culture and everyone should be as happy as clowns.

In today's world, Kraus would be a marketing genius. 

He could have been talking about the art market ecosystem when he observed that ...

"Education is a crutch with which the foolish attack the wise to prove that they are not idiots."


Tuesday, July 07, 2015


Every time I kiss a woman half my age I feel as if my mouth were suddenly filled with pennies and rags. 

Thrill when coupled with shame, distorts the keen pleasures of youth and turns them into a Freudian fricassee of titillation and taboo.

Not so with my enviable friend David Schoffman. While his joints stiffen and his eyes decay his girl friends tend to regress into increasing juvenescence.

Grizzled and disheveled, Schoffman maintains the uncanny ability to seduce beyond his weight class.


This wasn't always the case.

Back when we were bespeckled art students David was tagged as the asthmatic Semite from Brooklyn who couldn't jag a sozzled strumpet even if you put a dagger to his throat.

Now this dilapidated Don Juan is a moth-eaten Mr. Goodtime who struts and frets as if every day were carnaval.  

Some would credit the miracle of pharmaceuticals but I have my doubts. David's a tree-hugging vegan who considers iodine and a band-aid precariously invasive. No, I credit what is called in the personal development community the "charisma of dominion."

COD is a term of art coined in the early eighties by the awareness training guru Barry Burka. According to Burka, most people in leadership positions are woefully deficient in the basic skills of their chosen professions. They choose to lead, he argues, precisely because of their incompetence.

In his best selling book Blessed by Dereliction Burka argues that a leader is someone reckless enough to "fake it" on a monumental scale. Most third-world despots, he points out, couldn't find their way out of a paper lantern without their armada of aids and bodyguards. Only in the United States with its vaunted ideal of the self-made man is ability seen as a desirable trait. 

Schoffman's secret is that he has become the coital con man par excellence. With dash and determination he has merchandised his middling reputation as a local Los Angeles art star into a magnet for innocent waifs and incipient lassies. 

Maybe I should write a self-improvement life-coaching book:

The Scoundrel's Guide to Dating: Love Tips from Elmer Gantry to Idi Amin.


Thursday, July 02, 2015


One could be excused if, after meeting my good friend David Schoffman for the first time, one is left with the impression that he is somewhat disengaged. He specializes in what is called here in France the "purgatory of pleasantries" - the felicitous nods, sympathetic grunts and the occasional 'oh that's interestings', that serve to lubricate our superficial intercourse.

My best advice is not to take this personally. He does this to everyone. It's his way of expressing the shame he feels in being alive.

The unfortunate fact is that only place he truly feels at peace is in his dim, cavernous, Culver City studio.

It is only there where he feels he can successfully exculpate himself from the sins of his past lives. He has persuaded himself that the Lord's mercy is insufficient in its grace. For David purgation can only come through the ritual magic of picture making.

The Body is His Book #12, David Schoffman

Schoffman is consumed with the dead souls that drift through his consciousness and disrupt his fitful sleep. He has visions of savagery, cupidity and wanton avarice. And though for most artists these qualitites are enviable assets for David they are the ghosts that sap him of his limited strength.

His faith is tested daily and he finds it wanting. After years of drugs and drink he has finally found an imperfect peace through God. But even beneath the canopy of the Almighty's love, Schoffman remains wracked by retroactive guilt.

 I'm not sure I believe in this metempsychosis business - or as Molly Bloom would have it "met him pike hoses." It may just be another of Schoffman's many hallucinations.

I do believe however that whatever higher power there is up there, the capacity to wipe the slate clean is an imperfect practice at best. After all, if God's got a big Pink Pearl he's still dealing with a sheet of 100% archival ph neutral rag.


Thursday, June 18, 2015


The Podcast is an interesting hybrid between yodeling down a deserted canyon and sleeping naked with the blinds up. I suppose that's precisely why it appeals so much to my good friend David Schoffman.

Every Tuesday evening Schoffman takes to the airwaves (yes I know it's not the airwaves but alas, my lycée English was formed in the sixties) and spreads what can only be described as his unholy gospel of eccentricity.

No two broadcasts are alike.

One week he interviewed the psychic Dietrich Goulwasser who apparently sat beneath an orb and predicted who would be included in the Whitney Biennial for the next 15 years.

Another time he read the menus of six of his least favorite Los Angeles restaurants and spent the duration of the broadcast suggesting recipe adjustments. In my opinion, removing the olives, anchovies and capers from a puttanesca would not only be unforgivable but might also subject a restauranteur to serious criminal charges. But then again, I'm French.

But such whimsical speculations are exactly what makes the Schoffman podcasts so entertaining.

His ratings went through the roof last week when he hosted the now infamous Czech performance artist Brichacek Breza. Breza, as most of you know, ran afoul of the authorities when she crashed a meeting of the G-7+2 and loudly read the first three points in her feminist manifesto Us Chicks Want This (My ženy chtějí tento).

In what was probably a podcast first, Breza performed a 40 minute mute pantomime of Vladimir Nabokov's classic Lolita. The ambient noise and the recording crew's muffled gasps were apparently enough to captivate David's avid listeners and the show was subsequently re-aired in fourteen different countries.

I'm far from intimate with these new technologies and I suppose that pegs me as an irrelevant old goat consigned to the past and ready for pasture.

Unless, of course, I could write an entire novel using only emojis.

Tuesday, June 02, 2015


Schoffman with Dahlia Danton, Geneva
DuMartin famously wrote that "if you can't fall in love in Paris then you might as well bicker in Geneva." ("si vous ne pouvez pas tomber en amour à Paris, alors vous pourriez aussi bien se quereller à Genève." from Point de repère 1942).

There was a time when my good friend David Schoffman and I shared everything. We shared a studio, a broken down Schwin 3-speed vélo, a winter coat, an umbrella, a transistor radio and a girl friend.

Or two.

Or three.

The problem with sharing women was that it required more finesse than generosity and as such, was rarely worth the effort.

Despite what they say about us Europeans, we are just as inept in matters of love as the Americans. We are neither more amorous nor less monogamous than our cousins across the Atlantic. 

We just have better literature. 

When Schoffman recently met up in Switzerland with my former fiancé Dahlia Danton I admit I was more than a little bit peeved. The one souvenir that I so jealously protected and here was Schoffman fouling further a memory that I had carefully fouled myself all those years ago. 

What happens in the Alps should rightfully stay there but here was David acting the lapdog, continuing his humiliating folly back in L.A.

Danton is a vixen, a tormentress and a third-rate painter who has no business lifting a brush. In a way the two of them deserve each other.

All the same, the whole bloody thing just sticks in my craw.

I knew I never should have lent him my bike!

Tuesday, April 21, 2015


 If life were a bluefin tuna, then my good friend David Schoffman has just swallowed his last taste of Otoro.  Found on the very underside of the fish, the otoro is like a waterbed - fatty and soft almost to the point of falling apart - but when it reaches your palate it melts in your mouth like butter. The juicy part of David's life will soon be a thing of the past so he's living the moment hard and fast as if he were on borrowed time.

Schoffman is having a pretty good run, or so it may seem on the surface. He never misses an opportunity to be seen in the company of some glamorous woman even if the connection is tenuous or even hostile. Long before branding became something other than the painful mortification of cattle and sheep, Schoffman was careful to curate an image of the artist as roué. Now, as his stock declines like brent crude I see his future as a struggle after some new, novel form of self-definition.

One option, of course, is the mad, mercurial éminence grise, but I think that might take too much energy. They say that about 80% of Los Angeles artists under the age of thirty view Schoffman with little more than ambivalence. The remaining 20% regard him with outright contempt. (Interestingly, this particular poll, first published in claimed no margin of error).

Another option is that of the recluse - the mysterious eccentric who surfaces from time to time and captivates the public with visionary and provocative insight. Unfortunately, David has been spitting out the same type work for years and intellectually he seems to be clearly out of gas. 

I think it would be best if he just joined the rest of us old guys and simply took it easy for a while. There are things a lot worse than slipping into obscure irrelevancy. I say, save your energy - eventually this love affair with technology will ripen into contempt. When that happens they'll be banging down the doors at all the senior centers looking for the last few remaining pencils. 

By then Schoffman will be as fermented as unagi and may even have enough left in him for one last victory lap.