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.