Tuesday, September 30, 2014

ONE MAN'S DUMB IS ANOTHER MAN'S DHARMA



To my good friend David Schoffman the blunted knife cuts both ways. 

In order to produce powerful works of art David needs to claim a cloud somewhere north of Olympus far from the human stain. However, in order to dwell in the world of men he also needs to scrape his knuckles across the trough of the mundane.



He sings with the angels in a crazy chorus of cerebral dissipation yet, in the world of men he must pluck at the gloomy finger-food of ordinary intellectual bric-a-brac.

For years friends and wives, scarred by his hallowed halo were left like road kill along his path to self-anointed virtue. Nobody, it seems, was capable of keeping up with the velocity of his metastasized ambition. Books, ideas, passions and speculations were the octane that kept him ahead of the heap but those same intolerable obsessions only served to thrust him into that lonely diaspora of one.

He has always worked by exclusion - identifying the dross and consigning it to the smelly slag pile of the superfluous. Anything that slowed the pace of his strident domestic pilgrimage got thrown to the dolphins.

But north of Olympus, though sweet with perfumed erudition remained way too remote from the hardscrapple ass-scratching that makes the world-go-'round. While exiled from the slow and the dim David lost touch with the bloody mess the rest of us call democracy

But I hear a change is afoot.

Rescued from the talons of his highfalutin tastes, David has now moved from the City of God to the interconnected City of  Men. He has traded his pager for an I-Phone, opened a Facebook account listing his preferences for women, cable and Independent Film, bought season's tickets to the Best of Broadway, bought a brand new grey car and started binge-watching Netflix.

He's now the toast of the milquetoast finding new friends both real and imagined and is as content as a quahog.

I hear he's even got a new lady-friend who works in a bank in Pasadena.  

The new normal David Schoffman with friend

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

THE NEW CAMP DAVID


As an artist and as a human being my good friend David Schoffman is a man of honor. To claim his companionship one must undergo a cold introspective trial  that will inevitably highlight a deficit of virtue. Next to the halogens of David's lofty ideals we are all dimmed in decrepitude.

His moral compass is unforgiving. His aesthetic standards insulate him from the vicissitudes of popular taste.  He is a fortress of consistency and a dull, grey edifice of rectitude and refinement.



His hobbies include parsing Latin prosody and restoring antique lamps.


He rises before dawn and works an unwavering ten-hours a day in his studio.
He does seventy-five push-ups each morning (down from 150, before he incurred an inflamed pectoralis minor) and remains glutenrein  and lactose free in an organic diet of unspeakable self-denial.

He hasn't watched TV since 9/11 (reluctantly) and still uses the word text as a noun.

In other words, he's a world-class bore.

Though life demands of its participants the capacity for negative capability, David has quieted his inner dissonances with equivocations and rationales. His cosmology resists the chaos of ambiguity and the ethical deliriums of doubt.

That is, until he found himself tempted like poor Anthony by a panoply of vices even the Saint would have found impossible to abjure. 


First came bacon whose scintillating sizzle and sweet gamey aroma demands crisp consummation by a moistening palate. His first crucible came at a faculty brunch, a meal he never fully accepted as legitimate or justified. He found watching his colleagues fully absorbed in this greasy delicacy oddly moving. Instead of consulting his watch as is typical for him during these mandatory meetings he sat bemused and a bit disoriented by the simplicity of pleasure. 

Though he didn't eat any of the bacon himself that day, it did, so to speak, give him food for thought.

He soon started toying with the idea of acquiring an extra pillow. "A good night's sleep," though something he always considered as a birthright, now appeared like an experience he could induce and improve upon. This led to reading mystery novels, first on airplanes and then on hammocks strung between indolent fruit trees. The slope soon slipped into binge watching on Netflix, full-fat yoghurt, Bruce Springsteen records and figure skating.

It was all so gradual and benign that no one took notice until he was seen on Venice beach kissing a woman who wasn't his wife.


And though it was remarked upon that his eyes remained open, the idea that David was now grazing in a neighbor's meadow was welcomed by acquaintances who always felt cheapened by his righteousness.

He tells me he is enjoying his new uncertainty. After decades of practiced orthodoxy he feels suddenly lighter, freer and capable of guilt.  

"Though I waste a lot of time these days I feel more fully human. I have finally entered the stream of the world and it ain't so bad after all."
(Note the colloquialism ain't)

I heard he's even questioning his convictions on the Middle East!


Thursday, September 04, 2014

NATURE OR NURTURE


After a few drinks my good friend David Schoffman is always good for a wild yarn or two.



Get him going about life and love and you can sit back and listen to a breathless performance of a peerless raconteur.

There is one subject however where he is sure to be as tiresome as a fundraiser. 

His childhood.

To hear him tell it you'd think he was raised by Mother Theressa and Gandhi. Every day was an unearthly feast of joy and warmth and affection. Never did his innocent ears endure the afflictions of acrimony and strife. All was a constant, blissful summer carnival of slides, Ferris wheels and merry-go-rounds.

It was only as an adult did it dawn on David that virtue was a punishable offense. When he struck out on his own in his early twenties he had the street smarts of a ten-year-old. He trusted everyone and simply didn't understand the simple concept of strategic self-interest

For years while his colleagues were making major strides in the art world he recused himself preferring to devote his time to the perfection of Chinese calligraphy and brush painting.


Now, I'm relieved to report, Schoffman is in the throws of a wildly self-destructive mid-life crisis. Gone are his annoying scruples, his cloying sense of loyalty, his unflappable diligence and his conceited perceptions of morality. His long deferred rebellion against the wholesomeness of his upbringing is a welcome retreat from the stuffy self-denial that decency always brings.

The cold fact of mortality and the waning vigor that comes with age has pushed my friend past the edge of needless caution. His fading respectability is of little concern as he dissipates with the abandon of a frat boy on J├Ągermeister.


 And while he's dating starlets half his age and hosting wild parties for strung out venture capitalists and overweight movie producers his career has suddenly blossomed like a lotus. Despite (or because) of a spate of disorderly conduct arrests and convictions the smart-set has gravitated toward David like mice to brie. He's become an L.A. tabloid staple and as the current AARP "it" bad-boy he's getting more free publicity than ISIS. 

I suppose the lesson in all this is that while raising children take care to sign them up for tennis lessons and soccer.

Just make sure they learn to how to cheat.