Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Pleasure Domes

St. Basil's (1908)

The Shavian "life force" and Freudian "death instinct" constitute the intrinsic polarity of all human life. Will flirts with creation and destruction. Consider the cost of Putin's dream of Empire. It's ironically the same dream entertained by Peter the Great in the mirage of gold cupolas still gracing Moscow's skyline today? On a microcosmic level human appetite totters precariously between pleasure and pain while beauty and good intentions swerve down the drain. Take desire itself as a template. Is it love? Is it mere lust? Is it only selfish or can one selflessly desire the best for the other?

Listen to "The Tears of a Clown" by Smokey Robinson

and see the invite for Hallie Cohen's show, Mi Ricordo: Roman Watercolors, opening on February 29

Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Filet of Soul

Sickness is a form of recusal. You stay away from others to heal and also to protect those others from picking up what you have. The latter is particularly the case with Covid which is highly contagious. In the case of some mental disorders the point of the illness is to facilitate isolation. The sickness whether depression or anxiety is a symptom of a deeper dis-ease to which an affect calls attention. Terminology has changed over time. In the 50s when Miltown was prescribed "nervous breakdown" was a much-used soubriquet. Patients were "institutionalized." Now they are sent to rehabs because of another ailment "alcoholism" (not "wasim" btw). It's not that there weren't always alcoholics, it's that awareness of the condition and its effects took time to register in the consciousness of both the lay and  medical communities. Practitioners of Zen attend monasteries. Is the spiritual retreat taken in response to spiritual sickness? Or is it that the soul must go into hiding, before it can come back to life?

Listen to "Tears of the Clown" by Smokey Robinson

and see the invite for Hallie Cohen's show, Mi Ricordo: Roman Watercolors, opening on February 29

Monday, February 26, 2024

Debbie Does Dallas

Donald Trump has said he will be dictator for a day. Doesn't that remind you of all the pathetic oaths you have taken about "taking" or not "taking the cake." As an adolescent you may have sworn off masturbating since it would cause blindness.  You were just going to spank the monkey one last time. BTW signing a "declaration of independence" is akin to masturbating, from the carpal tunnel point of view. The collective unconscious of American society just wants to do away with due process and checks and balances one last time. Then they have every intention of getting back on the wagon--unless they succumb to Fentanyl and it's curtains for everybody!

read "Making the Graphic Novel Graphic" by Francis Levy, Vol.1 Brooklyn

and see the invite for Hallie Cohen's show, Mi Ricordo: Roman Watercolors, opening on February 29

Friday, February 23, 2024

Heureusement ou Vachement?

It's probably a sign of the times that "vachement" has taken the place of "heureusement" as most popular French adverb. The former implies that everything is bad. Similarly you hear a ton about "fellatio" but relatively little about cunnilingus, the more politically correct form of oral sex. It's hard to get one's hands around why blow jobs are more in the news, despite their negative connotation. When you go down on someone it can be to administer fellatio or cunnilingus but that's where the similarity ends. All happy gonads are alike but all unhappy gonads are unhappy in their own way. Several prominent sexologists have remarked that fellatio is more au courant simply because it's easier to perform. The shaft of the erect penis is easy to locate, creating a tent that's embarrassingly visible, for instance, on a subway or bus, but the clitoris is notoriously hard to find. Surely an aroused clitoris produces the equivalent of an erection but a penis gets more bang for its buck ce qui est vachement la verite!

read "Why Big German Words Like Vergangenbangenheit Carry Weight" by Francis Levy, HuffPost

and watch the animation of Erotomania

Thursday, February 22, 2024


There's a Smilers on 54th and Mad one block east of the McKim, Mead, White neo-Renaissance University Club and and also east of the rear entrance to MoMA. Do institutions whether high or ordinary possess DNA? There was an all-night Smilers on Sixth Avenue down from The Waverly (now IFC), where The Rocky Horror Show, played at Midnight, and a couple of blocks up from Film Forum and the 220s a notorious after hours club that catered to the spillover of beautiful pre-op transsexual prostitutes from The Terminal Bar opposite the Port Authority and G.G's Barnum Room, famous for its trapeze. But one wonders if the Smiler's on 54th is the country cousin  of the original--which had just come over on the ship. The children and grandchildren of many Eastern European immigrants, who inhabited the tenements of the Lower East Side, eventually became shareholders in the cavernous and majestic pre-war apartment houses that line Park Avenue. Is it that Smiler's has come up in the world?

read Hallie Cohen's interview on collaboration

and see the invite for her show, Mi Ricordo: Roman Watercolors, opening on February 29

Wednesday, February 21, 2024

The Great Dictator

Charlie Chaplin in The Great Dictator (1940)

The Protocols of the Elders of Zion was the companion text to Mein Kampf. However imagine the future. The Proud Boys and Oath Keepers, now pardoned, become the the black shirts, the SS. But who is their scapegoat? The Jews again? Certainly liberal Jewish philanthropists e.g. George Soros. Every anti-Christ requires its Christ. Every cult needs a leader, every leader an enemy. Will it be Jews or reporters? Trump has threatened retribution against the press, but will there be camps filled with emaciated journalists in black and white striped prison issue. Truth is the basic issue. Trump claims democracy is at issue. Biden and the democrats echo the same idea. Each claims they're being set up. Trump will make sure the truth wins out by putting all those who tell the truth in jail. This along with the cheering crowds of followers and  hortatory language is what is known as fascism.

read Hallie Cohen's interview on collaboration.

and see the invite for her show, Mi Ricordo: Roman Watercolors, opening on February 29

and listen to "Borderline" by Madonna

Tuesday, February 20, 2024

Stéphane Mandelbaum

Portrait of a Turkish Punk (Stéphane Mandelbaum)

A show of Stéphane Mandelbaum's work just just closed at The Drawing Center. Mandelbaum like Pasolini died violently-- at a particularly young age (he was 25). Mandelbaum was an infant terrible and one of those artists who bust onto the scene, their light almost extinguished by its own brightness. Rimbaud comes to mind, as does the turbulent period of Weimar Germany explored in Fassbinder's Berlin Alexanderplatz. Indeed Francis Bacon's model George Dyer, a one-time criminal, was one of the artist's subjects along with Pasolini and a number of personalities in the night life of 60s Brussels. Mandelbaum was a perfectionist in love with impurity. For example, he liked to imbed pornographic snapshots into his meticulous drawings. Many of his pieces were collages. Ironically Mandelbaum became an art thief. Shades of Wyatt Gwyon in William Gaddis' The Recognitions? Mandelbaum calls up a litany of literary and artistic characters including, of course, Caravaggio and Genet. He inhabited Hades and was ultimately killed by criminals, who threw acid in his face so that his body could not be identified. His short life's work, however, was less criminal than prolifically transgressive.

Read Francis Levy's "Making the Graphic Novel Graphic," Vol. 1 Brooklyn

and watch the animation of Erotomania