One brief expletive from my son marked the Wikipedia blackout in my world. Remember the 'Day Without Art'? Who even noticed this year? It was totally obscured by uber-festivities at Miami Basel. Could it be that the collectors were too young to recall the solemnity of 1989? The true desolate meaning of A Day Without Art? Too busy texting to even sense a blackout?
Years ago I read Saramago's 'Blindness'. Of course now there is the film, which seemed a bit odd to me, because the whole nightmarish premise is this total epidemic whiteout. Terrifying, crippling, devastating. For those of us who stake our happiness on literature and visual study, this is maybe worse than death. Fear of the dark that never lifts.
I've always wondered about the dreams of a congenitally blind person. Are they visual? Cinematic? And the blindspots of sighted people--- the narcissists who cannot bear the egoism of their mate, the overdressed, overbotoxed women who seem to have no mirrors, the bustling masses who ignore the panhandlers, buy their Hermes bag and fail to donate-- anywhere-- the talkers and interrupters, facebook addicts, the overeaters and cellphone abusers on buses and in elevators, the tone-deaf guitar players who plug in and blast and fail to see it is not the noise, it is the absence of music that annoys.
How about a Year Without Art? A decade? Is anyone listening? Perhaps A Day Without Technology. That will get our attention. A day with Blindness. It will take a crippling epidemic to bring out the truly democratic. Or my version of that. Or, as one of my aristocratic flatmates once remarked to the whining of another, regarding his conspicuous and non-paying gorgeous girlfriend: 'It's simple, old man: 'Those who have, give. Those who don't, don't.' It made sense to me. She was funny and shared her underwear and cigarettes freely. That counted, in those days. Come to think of it, I'm sure the guy's a republican. He had an enormous trust fund and liked to annoy his parents by bestowing it on unworthy bedfellows.
I just ran into an old friend who was virtually screaming at me for posting music on the internet. Did I know Spotify is banking billions and pays .0001% royalties to the artists? Sells your music for profit without rights? 'Yes,' I said. And if you haven't noticed, they are following the JP Morgan/Chase model. Except the average schmuck actually pays fees for this privilege.' Besides, Pat Benatar stole one of my songs in the 1980's and claimed synchronicitous creativity and total innocence. Who wanted the Love-is-a-Battlefield tiny Amazon as an enemy anyway? Not I. Not worth a lawsuit.
I have already taken on the healthcare system, the CDS scammers, Goldman Sachs, the need for free food stations in the city... how can I worry about Spotify too? He was furious. And on the subject of justice...can anyone poor really afford the privilege of suing? Is government on the side of punishing the banks who enticed and billed for mortgages people couldn't manage? Is homelessness a just price for these people?
I bought a Lichtenstein Entablature piece for a lawyer-friend. It has 'Iustitia' ironically chiseled on the cartoon-lintel. He paid 10,000 for this. I got nothing. I didn't want anything. Just the irony. The dealer who sold it probably made $5,000... who knows? Lichtenstein got maybe $300 apiece (some) originally; there are hundreds of these... he's rich, anyway, and a lawyer will eventually go after this copyright issue for him. Not so for my poor lost demos on youtube. Justice?
Here's a little Writerless parable:
A cute guy used to drink at my gigs, made drunk shy overtures, was a grad student at SVA. He begged me to come to his MFA show. So I went--- tons of painters, tons of people, he was drunk. But among the work was this 16-inch square painting of a bed. It was unmade; the sheets were rumpled, the blankets were thrown around... there was a cheap lamp in the upper corner with this eerie light. It gave me the feeling all Vermeers give me. The whites were mesmerizing, the shadows blue and creamy and thick. I couldn't tear myself away. 10 feet away, 6 inches away...
The artist? That's right, my young fan. So I took him home. The sex was perfect drunk-painter sex and neither of us slept or spoke. Three nights later he returned, totally sober, with a package. 'Your portrait', he said. It was a bed. Two crumpled pillows, the blue-white sheets, the shadows, some semblance of my down quilt, some imprint of our quiet broken passion It was like the painting in the show, but 100 times more perfect. It was wrenching. It was tearjerking. Edibly painterly, every brushstroke caressing and sensual and perfect. It was every dark film I'd ever seen, every poem and Leonard Cohen song I had ever loved. Heartwrecking. I couldn't stop looking at it. Except of course to go to actual bed with the guy again.
Somewhere during our brief affair I went back to some other boyfriend, but the painting was bar-none my most prized possession. I looked at it every day, many, many times. I looked at it when I woke up on the way to the bathroom, and at night it was the last thing I saw before I turned out the light. When I was down, I came home and thought how unbelievably fortunate I was to be able to see this. Years. It made me pray never to go blind. No Vermeer, Cezanne, Basquiat, Bacon or Giotto (well, maybe Giotto) would have been higher on my list of desert-island picks.
So one night I gave a party. Friends, musicians, writers, etc. A great all-night party with drugs, drink, tons of black eyeliner and wall-to-wall svelte 30 and 40-something downtown hipsters. My friends. The next morning, I awoke among bodies passed out. The painting was gone. Just like that. Not Goldman Sachs or J.P. Morgan or landlord or Spotify. A 'friend'.
You get what you need, I just advised my son. You get what you need.