Saturday, July 30, 2005

Model types. Young models. I do remember reading about Liv Tyler when she first started modeling. The first time I noticed her was when I was going to get a haircut. It was a hair salon--a rather exclusive one at that (long gone are those days, by philosophical conviction, of course). The nightlife demanded that I be there every two weeks to make sure my cut stayed perfect; I know, what a motivation, what a motivation. In any case, I remember picking up a fashion magazine, and as I flipped through it I saw a CK add. It was a black and white photograph of a very young Liv Tyler wearing jeans and a lingerie-like blouse. She was crouching, her head moving forward over-exposing her lips. All I could think of was how big her lips were and how I only knew of another person who had those lips: Steve Tyler, of course. And I thought, "could this be his daughter? God, but she is so beautiful and he is so ugly?" Later, I read an article in Rolling Stone Magazine, explaining how Liv was in fact Steve's daughter, but that she had not grown up with him. Here is some of it: When Liv was in fifth grade, she and Buell went to see Rundgren perform. After the concert, Steven Tyler, who happened to be at the show, came backstage. Liv now recalls the special attention Tyler paid her, how he made her feel important. "That's how Steven re-entered our lives," she says. Soon, Tyler began coming around to see Liv, who was puzzled by the attention. And she began to notice things. "Like that we had the same legs," she says. "Then I met his other daughter, my sister, who is about a year younger than me, and we were like identical twins. So I began to know. And I went to Mom and asked her if Steven Tyler was my father." I mean, young she was at the time, quite close to the age of Sondra Gilman's daughter, is safe to say: Liv began her modelling career at the tender age of fourteen. This occupation caused her to move from her home of nine years (Portland, Maine) to New York City.

I can also see Liv (and this is pure fiction here) telling a similar story as Sondra Gilman's daughter's. No proof of that one though, so it should stop at that. It's just that she is the stereotypical young model that would have such a dare we say, "generic story."

Christmas and being cheap. One must wonder what can someone buy for someone who has "everything?" I mean what could Steve Rubell give Andy that he did not already have? Tapes sound good. But the fact that Andy did not appreciate the gift may have something to do with how he evaluates a gift in relation to how much it is worth or how much it might be worth in the future. The fact that he gave paintings as Christmas gifts exposes this. I mean, it costs him "nothing" to give them away; and sure he could sell them, but then again, what's another print once he has the set up going at the Factory? The fact is that he knew his paintings would be worth some money later on and he knew people appreciated this. Quite a different story than when someone is a nobody and gives away artwork as gifts. In any case, what can someone give to Andy? It's the thought that counts, goes the saying. But is it? A tough question for the rich and famous.


Friday, July 29, 2005

Amazing that in just a matter of days Tootsie was released in theaters. I mean, it was less than a month since Andy went to the set to shoot with Dustin Hoffman and opening night. Fifteen minutes of fame is what Andy was constantly looking for, knowing that people forget very quickly who you are if you stop appearing--poping up--in the media; and that is what he did. Amazing, also, that he did not get paid for his appearance in Tootsie. He wanted the exposure, I guess. Andy does expose how playing drag is a complex activity. I mean, there is a big difference between someone who is a real drag queen and someone who, as Andy says, "you didn't know was a man." Very different. And of course there is always the inbetweeness where it is not quite there nor here. But for the producers of Tootsie, playing it straight was a way to let the Hollywood audience feel comfortable, not to mention liberal. Too bad.

I never saw the movie; only heard of it when it was nominated for an Oscar. Not sure if it won anything, though. Let's check... Nope. It was Ben Kinsley who took best leading actor that year for his role in Ghandi, Steven Spielberg took best director with E.T. (leaving Sidney Pollack--Tootsie's director out of a little man), and Ghandi took best Picture... Maybe if they had not played it "straight" as Andy says, maybe then it would have taken best picture. Maybe? I'll check out the flick, now. I'm curious.

One important myth about Andy is mispelled in the corresponding post: he drank. He drank Vodka, no less. When I was in art school, I kept hearing how Andy wanted to become a machine and that to achieve this he would be sober at all times. Well, that, like most of the things around his persona, is a rumour. I do believe he did get drunk at times, although I have not included some of those entries here. I may have, though Will get to some more.


Thursday, July 28, 2005

Quite a line-up of stars Andy mentioned this time. Where to even start... I stick to Eddie Murphy and Nick Nolte for now. Eddie being bigger than Pryor, that is quite a conundrum. For one thing, they could be considered part of different generations: Eddie Murphy, Richard Pryor, Redd Foxx Three Generations of Black Comedy [...] This trio of funnymen represents three generations of side-splitting comedy, beginning with the uninhibited antics of Foxx, continuing with the unique talents of Pryor and rounding out with the renowned comedic versatility of Murphy--who studied his mentors, combined a bit of their styles with his own vivid imagination and quickly became the world's No. 1 box office star.

They came together in Harlem Nights. A movie that received mixed reviews. Here's an example that represents a quite common opinion of the movie: As a comedian, Eddie Murphy is near flawless. As an actor, he’s one of the most underrated working thespians. As a screenwriter, he’s amateurish and offensive. And as a director, he’s flat-out horrible. I’ve vociferously maintained the first two items for years. However, I didn’t realize the latter two until sitting through Harlem Nights, Murphy’s period-piece vanity project (in addition to writing, directing and starring, he also executive produced; I didn’t check the credits but he might have supplied the craft services as well).

As to Nolte, his career has been on the down turn--in my opinion. He more of a character actor at this point. The last movie I saw him in was Hotel Rwanda. He played an army general (if I got the rank right) representing the United Nations; he tries to help a hotel manager, played by Don Cheadle, in getting people out of Rwanda. True story. Amazing what tribalism can do. That is a good movie. But besides that Nolte has not done much. Before Hotel Rwanda he was in the Hulk.

Regarding art, Andy mentions how Castelli is being stand-offish. Like I said before, Brockis, in the biography of Andy he wrote, explains how Castelli never aimed to place Andy at the same level as Johns or Rauschenberg. Odd that Andy, no matter who is "right or wrong" always looks for a justification--or implicit cause. He can never let it just be. Castelli no longer hugs him... and to justify this indirectly he somehow describes something else Castelli is also no longer doing: "He's never with Laura de Coppet anymore, either." Not sure what the logic is here. I am making too much of it. After all, as Andy's said about his paintings, they are what they are. One should not make more out of them. So, it would appear about his comments. So it would... Yet, it was Castelli who read more into Andy's paintings: "Warhol would never be heavy-handed enough to admit that his soup can was part of his portrait of America's industrial society."


Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Graffiti. Street Graffiti and the eighties frenzy behind Haring (and Basquiat). Both mythological figures who had a meta-relationship with the streets. Self-reflexive awareness behind their connections and educations inevitably set them apart and connected them quite easily with the high art crowd. They could pretend to be the real thang--thing is they were; they are... They appropriated graffiti for the artworld. Appropriation never worked better; such calculated poses. Oh, does it sound like it's "complicated" and needs to be deconstructed... Check the goods:

Keith Haring became immediately attracted to subway graffiti when he moved in New York City in 1980. Pop images, mastery of color and drawings, and risk were all characteristics of graffiti that enchanted Keith Haring. His fascination prompted him to study semiotics, the study and signs and symbols. Shortly after, Haring decided that he must start drawing for the people. He believed that his art carried the expression of hope and beauty which carries the greatest rewards of all. Haring's subways murals were made to inspire the public and influence them to create their own meaning of what the imagery was supposed to be saying. Semiotics... awesome. Down with the b-boys for sure.

And what happens when someone who understands Semiotics is at a later date considered by an intellectual? If a single person is able to have personal mythology and set of images an artist`s creating,to become a global fashion, this aspect always being an indicator artist`s imagery also representing global themes,even though society (at time being) may not realize as matters working unconsciously.Exactly this happens with K.Haring`s signs and symbols which means we have to create an overview first,a list of the available material,we have to categorize the material.See what he was about....... A bridge for the academic his work was, and is, and will be.

And then nobody, I mean, nobody escapes kitsch. Embrace: Just one day after my trip to Baltimore, I felt a twinge of disappointment when I ran into Haring's work again, this time as a print mounted in an expensive-looking frame and put on display as part of Provisions Library's "Change Methods: Hip-Hop, Social Change and Global Influences." The smaller, but more politically minded show coincides with the local Hip-Hop Theater Festival, running through Saturday at the Studio Theatre and other area venues ( ). In the context of the gallery, however, Haring's work seems somehow domesticated.

Enter Basquiat. B & H hook it up for the art scholar, word: Basquiat and Haring also started to work in the street and the subway, but the renown and repute of their work would very swiftly spread beyond the works of graffiti. Their works won instant critical acclaim and attracted the attention of influential art dealers. In no time they were in great demand. Their art was one of the rare forms to circulate freely through all social strata and attract enthusiasm from all sorts of people who were usually marked more by the abysses between them. Bridges. dassit, bridges for le pop. Word.


Tuesday, July 26, 2005

The Clash, milking the past: In celebration of the 25th anniversary of the release of The Clash's landmark third album, London Calling (December 14, 1979 in the U.S.), Legacy Recordings issued a deluxe LEGACY EDITION version. London Calling (Legacy Edition) featuring 2 full CDs of music plus a newly-created DVD component.

"Rock the Casbah" is likely the Clash's most over-played song on the radio today. It's all over those 80s stations that have popped up recently around the USA, now that the majority of radio listeners are from the 80s generation.

Casbah Lyrics:
Now the king told the boogie men
You have to let that raga drop
The oil down the desert way
Has been shakin’ to the top
The sheik he drove his cadillac
He went a’ cruisnin’ down the ville
The muezzin was a’ standing
On the radiator grille

The shareef don’t like it
Rockin’ the casbah
Rock the casbah
The shareef don’t like it
Rockin’ the casbah
Rock the casbah

By order of the prophet
We ban that boogie sound
Degenerate the faithful
With that crazy casbah sound
But the bedouin they brought out
The electric camel drum
The local guitar picker
Got his guitar picking thumb
As soon as the shareef
Had cleared the square
They began to wail


Now over at the temple
Oh! they really pack ’em in
The in crowd say it’s cool
To dig this chanting thing
But as the wind changed direction
The temple band took five
The crowd caught a wiff
Of that crazy casbah jive


The king called up his jet fighters
He said you better earn your pay
Drop your bombs between the minarets
Down the casbah way

As soon as the shareef was
Chauffeured outta there
The jet pilots tuned to
The cockpit radio blare

As soon as the shareef was
Outta their hair
The jet pilots wailed


He thinks it’s not kosher
Fundamentally he can’t take it.
You know he really hates it.


Monday, July 25, 2005

How much did Andy charge for his portraits? He was a money making machine... Check Hacket's account of the process of making a portrait and how much they cost:

To always be prepared for the steady stream of portraits, Andy had his assitant prepaint rolls of canvas in one of two background shades: flesh tone for men's portraits and a different, pinker flesh for women's. Using a carbon transfer under the tracing paper, he'd trace the image from the 4-" x 40" acetate onto the flesh-tone-painted canvas and then paint in the colored areas like hair, eyes, lips on women, and ties and jacket on men. When the silkscreen was ready, the detailed image would be lined up witht he prepainted colored areas and the details of the photograph would be screened onto the canvas. it was the slight variations in the alignment of the image with the painted colors underneath that gave Warhol portraits their characteristic "shifting" look. The portraits, as a rule, cost approximately $25,000 for the first canvas and $5,000 for each additional one.

25Gs was a bit much for the big lady...


Sunday, July 24, 2005

Basquiat. I remember when I was an undergraduate in art school. I saw a show at Otis Gallery in the mid-nineties of Basquiat's paintings which showed the influence of Jazz in his art. During this time he was often presented as a black man who was taken advantage of, who was naive of the complex politics of the artworld. Later, I learned that he was educated, as Andy notes in his diary. This, however, I don't think changes that he may have been taken advantage of, but it did bother me that he was implicitly presented as a type of "idiot savant" who hung out on the street doing street graffiti. His education and that he was middle-class was downplayed. This I don't think is the case anymore, although one has to look for the information specifically. Power relations have become more transparent in some ways, and people understand how Basquiat's position was extremely complex. At least one would hope so. The part that is always emphasized about him is the power position of whites over blacks--the whiteman over the blackman to be exact. It's worth noting here that black women are marginalized in this power relation. Needless to say this is something feminists are very aware of and write about. Black women have to deal with the fact that not only are they women which places them within a certain minority group, but they are also black, which further complicates their relationship to men within power structures, these be black or white or any other shade inbetween. Heavy stuff. Something worth reading in relationship to this is "The Oppositional Gaze" by Bell Hooks.

Basquiat as a historical figure is treated very carefully; his middle class upbringing is often played down and his peripheral position emphasized, thus reads an online text on the conundrum: Very little criticism has been done examining the work produced by Jean-Michel Basquiat. While his place in the history of American art is still under dispute, it cannot be denied that during the eight years that he painted, his much of his work examines the legacy of the colonial enterprise and his relationship to that legacy. Whether recasting the work of European masters like Leonardo Davinci in his own terms or recounting events from Haitian, Puerto Rican, African and African American history, Basquiat presented a vision of a fragmented self in search of an organizing principle.

Interestingly enough, many of the articles on post-coloniality and Basquiat I found are in another language. When post-coloniality is searched with his name, one gets commercial sites selling his work. Here's a short-biography in French explaining his upbringing as a "petit bourgeois" and the fact that he attended private school, was fluent in Spanish, French and English and went to the museum regularly with his mother:

Jean-Michel Basquiat naît le 22 décembre 1960 au Brooklyn Hospital à New York. Son père est d'origine haïtienne et sa mère portoricaine. Il grandit dans le milieu aisé de la petite bourgeoisie.

Enfant, Basquiat manifeste un vif intérêt pour le dessin. Son père, comptable de profession, lui apporte souvent du papier de son entreprise. On retrouvera de nombreux cahiers remplis de croquis dessinés à partir de dictionnaires. Sa mère, sensible à l'art, l'emmène souvent visiter le Brooklyn Museum, le Museum of Modern Art, le Metropolitan Museum of Art et l'encourage à développer ses talents.

Basquiat est envoyé dans une école privée catholique. Avec un camarade de classe, ils illustrent des livres pour enfants. Basquiat se passionne pour la lecture: il lit des textes en anglais, en espagnol et en français.

In his official site, his marginalization and upbringing are completely played down. They stick to very neutral language: Jean-Michel Basquiat was a major part of the art scene in the eighties. He originally was noticed for his involvement in the graffiti movement of the late seventies where he, along with companion Al Diaz, went by the tag SAMO. The idea of SAMO was almost like a pseudo-religion, an alternative to the mainstream. Examples of quotes they would write include "PLUSH SAFE HE THINK" and "SAMO AS AN ALTERNATIVE TO MINDWASH."

Got to keep it clean...


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