Wednesday, April 30, 2014


Austerity and pleasure deferred have been the twin pillars of David Schoffman's tantric behavior. My good friend has spent the better part of his life in a state of perpetual abjurement. As our existence is one of inevitable suffering only in renunciation can one reconcile the lure of our fleeting appetites.

Or so David explained to me many years ago under the awning of Le Crazy Horse de Paris, just a few doors down from my old studio on Avenue George V.

To David the world of the senses was the egoless world of aesthetics and unlike most artists - or most people for that matter - he deferred personal pleasure for some distant, chimerical future. Free time as an idea was useless in that time was seen as an adversary and anything that was free could not possibly be of any value.

And so it went for many years. Schoffman, moored by ambition and tethered to the studio, did nothing but read, write, draw and paint. He embodied little of the common American identity and was excluded from even the most basic conversation that referenced shared popular experience. 

He never knew who won the World Series, who shot J.R. or who unraveled the trousers of the leader of the free world. To him a Soprano was a coloratura, Seinfeld was the name of his accountant and The Boss was something he thankfully never had to endure.

All this changed of course once David started dating a woman thirty years his junior. Suddenly names like Jay-Z and The Arctic Monkeys rolled off his tongue like shaved ice. He now breaks bad under a house of cards and gleefully dances with the stars while keeping up with the Kardashians.

Schoffman is now officially unbuttoned and the former abstemious courtier of refinement plays the hammy hipster in search of that very lost time.
I hear he's even thinking of moving back to Brooklyn.

Saturday, April 19, 2014


Nessun maggior dolore Che ricordarsi del tempo felice nella miseria

Scratch the prickly pelt of any individual of consequence and you will find a damaged soul disfigured  by an unrequited romance. My good friend, the Los Angeles conceptual artist David Schoffman, is no exception.

Behind the bluster and beneath the ebullient energy is the rotting marrow of bile and regret. To call it heartache would be like describing a vicious gale as a benign drizzle. A listless unforgiving melancholy is the basso continuo, the leitmotif, the je ne sais plus of his outwardly charmed life. 

The cause of his despair can be summed up in two mellifluous yet vinegary words:

For years Schoffman chased the beautiful Danton like a rabid rattled terrier. He sent her flowers accompanied by long lyrical notes full of the kind of slushy sincerity only a simpering adolescent would deem effective. Their epistolary romance was a turbulent literary tour-de-force of one-way wishful thinking. Danton teased while my good friend David sniveled in the syrup of his unanswered affection.

Danton and Schoffman, date unknown.
Danton took great joy in tightening the leash that led my friend David into the funk of spiritual infirmity. She rejoiced in his suffering and celebrated in his presumed celibacy. While Schoffman diminished into a walking dirge Danton jived and jitterbugged into an amphitheater of ecstatic cruelty.

Of course, a situation as untenable as this could not go on forever. Schoffman plunged into a series of lubricious romances in a futile attempt to exorcize the Danton demon. He capered from couch to couch and ricocheted into countless fruitless affairs until finally resigning into impotent exhaustion.

He remains bitter to this day and it could be argued that his abandonment of painting in favor of the more strident forms of theoretical expression is due to his utter failure at love.

In the end we are all rewarded by the deeply vague aesthetic speculations of this very gifted artist plagued with a profound distrust of the senses.

Friday, April 11, 2014


For as long as I've known him, my dear, dear friend David Schoffman has tried desperately to lay waste the claim that he is a sleazy, lying, unscrupulous knave. His (envious and resentful) colleagues regard him as something of a joke. On any given day one can reliably find mon cher David sipping a steamed milk mocha (known elsewhere as a latté, elsewhere still a cappuccino, in other places it's called café au lait and in certain Mediterranean countries known for their direct and frank powers of description, a 'reverse coffee') at his favorite minor, mini-mall chain franchise bistro which shall remain for now nameless due to the reliable spasms of nausea its elicits in someone more accustomed to nursing cassis infused white wine cocktails on balconies of Beaux Arts architectural masterpieces such as myself.

You see the problem with David is that after years of reading all manner of self-help manifestos and so-called 'books', he is still not at peace with the startling reality that wherever you go you take yourself with you.

On the wall of Schoffman's cell at the Kosala Zen Retreat, 2006
He once spent two weeks in silent meditation at the Kosala Zen Retreat in Malibu in order to find what the glossy brochure described as his "authentic being." What he learned instead from the wise and enlightened sensai after fifteen days of eating brown rice and root vegetables and parting with a little over $1700 was that wherever you go you take yourself with you.

Another time, at the relentless prodding of an ex-girlfriend who insisted that if they remain together as a couple David would have to go through the hard process of becoming 'complete', he attended a Labor Day Weekend intensive seminar called "Placing The Past In The Past; Sealing The Future With A Suture." Much tough love and holding the sweaty palms of total strangers yielded not so much completion as dire constipation since one of the more draconian rules of the event was the parceling of bathroom breaks to an unhealthy one per day. 

"Once a dick always a dick," (un queue est toujours un queue) was how my world weary Oncle Maurice used to put it and I think that pretty much sums it up. It is no doubt due to distance that I remain loyal to my flawed and feckless friend.

He no longer paints, barely reads, hardly ever goes outside and lives on a meager diet of steamed milk and espresso.

But the funny thing is, I think that after all his futile searching and in spite of all his pathetic groping after significance, my good friend David has finally found his real and true self. 

Wednesday, April 02, 2014


There's a house on a hill somewhere in west L.A. where all hearts are deceptively open and all the cheap wines incessantly flow. It's a community like no other or at least there is none like it in France or to my knowledge, anywhere else in Europe.

Behind a travertine wall baked in the lead white glare of the Californian sun is the home of the Celestial Masters, a loose federation of miserable poet/sorcerers who, in their words, are "armed with sand and blood against Justice" and who are dedicated to the bizarre ideal that women were treasures to be entrusted only them. It's a strange secret society whose members' nostalgia for Prussian chivalry and the Rat Pack have turned their Los Angeles life into a poisoned feast. To them Beauty is bitter and reviled and they have created an anachronistic, remedial valhalla full of misogyny and malice.

The Executioner's Summons, oil on silk, David Schoffman, 2013
Next door to the Masters was the studio my good friend David Schoffman rented last August in order to complete his monumental series of paintings dedicated to the memory of Rosa Luxemburg. His many interactions with his eccentric neighbors could fill the hideous pages of a fabulist's notebook and David describes last summer's odessey as his own personal season in Hell. 

He told me about waking up in the middle of the night to the dreadful and terrifying cackles of an idiot. His life was strangled of its every joy and each day his intractable predicament played ever finer tricks on his impending madness and palpable misfortune. 

There were days when he would find stretched out in the mud alongside his fragile ginko trees a Celestial Master literally gnawing on a gun-butt like some wild enraged beast. 

Then, when he found himself on the point of uttering what he describes as his 'last croak,' David strangely discovered a renewed appetite for Charity. It was an inspiration that turned his entire misadventure into a dream.

And though Satan still lived next door he was a little less inflamed. Schoffman was ultimately able to ignore their deadly sins and cowardly deeds and lacking the descriptive skill to adequately render their egoism into words, charcoal or paint, returned to his Luxemburg project with a renewed and profound respect for women and the crucibles of their daily struggle to be assertive, powerful and strong.

Could he still be dreaming?