Sunday, December 21, 2014

PAYING FOR ONE'S SINS


I've always considered David Schoffman to be mon meilleur copain - my very best friend - but the sentiment hasn't always been repaid in kind. To expect meticulously calibrated reciprocity in matters of amitiƩ corrupts the clarity of tenderness with the arithmetic of peddlers and so I've learned to detach.

And yet it still unnerves me to think that within that cultural wilderness called southern California, a place where the intelligentsia concerns itself with things like rainfall, property taxes and leaked executive salaries, my good friend David is marinating like a cornichon in sweet brine.

His latest "inspiring colleague" is a fellow named Harry Cohn, an unpublished poet of book length parodies in iambic verse. They met at a self-help seminar ostensibly devoted to what the organizers described as "the odysseys of older men," a euphemism for diminished virility. Seeing the sunset of sex is a terrifying vision and as misery of that sort abjures the company of unsympathetic youth, the old codgers get together twice a month to cry on each others bifocals.

I suppose I can't blame David for preferring dear Harry to me. Those who follow my work realize in vivid color that I've still got plenty of foreskin in the game. It must be hard to watch but he only has himself to blame. What did he expect with his meatless diet and endless exercise?

It's already been established that after the age of 55, low cholesterol and low libido are linked like mountaineers. Forget oysters and kelp, cognac and marijuana are the proven aphrodisiacs. And take it from a Frenchman, nothing beats dark tobacco non-filtered cigarettes to keep the southern circulation flowing. 

But I can't expect to convince Schoffman of any of this. He eats more kale than a fatted calf. And if I'm destined to pay for my nutritional infractions I'd rather suffer without the help of a support group in a conference room.

I too have learned how to make new friends.


Thursday, December 18, 2014

ASHES TO ASHES, DUST TO THE DUSTBIN OF HISTORY


Nothing beats near-death in getting a guy to face his facts.

While the specter of shame lurks like a hatchet, we the clever idiots, deny what's obvious and conceal the rest. By the time we're finally ready to dice our delicate fictions into harmless lies the damage has already been done.

Shakespeare called us "poor players" only he was wrong about the strutting. We crawl like beggers before the enormity of our charade.

We're all fakers but there is no greater faker than my good friend David Schoffman. He pretends to pretend, rendering his pretensions the majesty of farce. He calls himself an artist but his artistry lies only in his mocking self-regard. In truth he fools no one and by so doing everyone was equally deceived.

This all came crashing into clumps when he came face to face with his god (or was it his G-d? The story changes with each retelling).

A rare rectal infection had Schoffman picking the lock on the Gate of Pearls and for a while we all thought he was a goner. I was writing his obituary in my head when a nurse came (strutting) over to me with the news that his vitals had perked.

I greeted the information with a mixture of gratitude and disappointment.


David now justifies his Gnostic inactivity with the same revolting intolerance that characterized his earlier defenses of work. With his slickly polished prose he waxes like a grifter about the ecstasies of nature and the beneficence of sloth. 

The man is tiresome beyond measure and had he succumbed to the incubus I dare say we all would have been better off.

So now we wait and as we wait his paintings lay fallow, accumulating new value as they gather old dust. 

Could it be that the sly old hedgehog is conjuring a third act?


Wednesday, December 10, 2014

SCHOFFMAN THE SHOW-OFF


My good friend David Schoffman hates to travel.

And yet, with all the professional demands that weigh upon him like bad debts he finds himself in the small soap world of hotels and airport lounges for much of his precious time. Between his lectures, exhibitions, book tours and frivolous academic research projects, David is away from his studio so much that he has delegated the production of his entire oeuvre to a 24 year-old assistant named Cindy.

In order not to completely consign his diverted attention to the slag of wasted time, when he's in a city or a town with even a modicum of cultural sophistication he finds whatever rewards are on offer and gratefully seeks them out.


For example, though he found the Ninja House in Iga Ueno terribly disappointing Imabari's famous 17th century castle with its picture postcard view of the Seto Inland Sea was well worth the indignity of signing books and posters in a strip mall bookshop in downtown Osaka.

Likewise, as on a recent trip to Urumqi to oversee the installation of his first public sculpture, the now infamous Hanny I'm Home, David found Zunghar's, the must-see avant-garde musical theater club owned by the Italian expatriate Nino Questo. It was there where he heard for the very first time that crazy and now viral take of the traditional Mandarin folk songs of Chu Chi.


video

Whenever he's away I can always count on receiving a postcard (David does not believe in email) where he will gently rub my sedentary face with his veiled boasts and muted embellishments.

"Dear Currado," a recent short missive began, "Monte Carlo never fails in depleting my will and sapping my soul. Just had dinner with Charles Patti and his wife (you know, the guy with the pink walls and the wierd art collection). Lovely couple but as boring as powdered milk. Wish you here though you're lucky you're not. Gros bisous, D."


Quel frimeur!!