A toast! A cheer to ten unbelievable and undeniable years of the Coagula Art Journal. In honor of the Anniversary as well as this thirty-fifth edition of GENUFLECT, publisher Mat Gleason offered 75 cents for a job well done. I was speechless. Seventy-five cents per word is good money in the writing game and I wanted to honor his glorious beau geste. As a reply of thanks, I am announcing the end of GENUFLECT and the start of a new column, entitled "MANA&MIRE". Graphically, the words would be spelled in a humble lower case font separated by an aggressively large yet tasteful ampersand. It's time that I wash the paint from my hands and the sweat off my brow to really dig into the meaty intellect of art issues. MANA&MIRE will be written in the gentle rhythms of Iambic Pentameter. Each column would be prefaced with an original, applicable and appropriate Haiku. In this forum, I will autopsy the rebirth of beauty, the death of sculpture and the popular overkill of avocado green and other Brady Bunch colors. I will toss aside the knife, fork and napkin to eat with my hands, smearing the fatty grease of art world theory across my lips until it dribbles down my chin. MANA&MIRE will be raw and uncompromising, savage with idealism and saintly with its hope for a more aesthetic tomorrow. It will become the touchstone of art innovation and art world values for generations to come. I was speaking so fast that I began to stutter; Gleason silenced me with his hand. He shouted that he was offering me seventy-five cents per column, not per word. Well, I'm not takin' MANA&MIRE to this bank! GENUFLECT stays!
HOLLYWOOD, CONCEPCION AND LEI-LEI: MY NEW LEASE
I have been living in my new studio for nine months and I haven't invited anyone over. Friends were irked that an invitation to my home, my studio, was not forthcoming. They even became suspicious. "No, no. Don't pick me up. I'll meet you there" was my usual reply. Lovers were beginning to think I was homeless; "uh... Let's shag at your place." Collectors got slides instead of a studio visit. Whenever anyone asked where I live, my answer was "Far."
Within six days after moving into my new pad, the place looked like I had been there six years. There is a difference between messy and disgusting; my joint camped in the latter. Just last July, when I signed a lease, the landlord had generously offered new carpet and asked me to select a color. I picked a sensible, dirt-hiding grey. When the ramp of my U-Haul hit the front door, the sensible dark carpet had become a pristine white. I knew it was gonna be a disaster. Bare earth and fine silt is the landscaping which surrounds my studio. Juicy red berries, which fall from the trees, blanket the walkway. The incontinence of my dog quickly degenerated the Malibu white carpet into a fine slum brown with yellow highlights. I was too embarrassed to invite anyone over and too poor to buy that many rugs. My studio, my home, the clamshell of my Aphrodite, looked like a spent hooker who just got a convention call.
An executive with Imagine Entertainment would not take "No" for an answer. She was coming for a studio visit whether I liked it or not. I needed housekeeping help. Fast. I may drive a low-budget car and drink from the well, but I will gladly fork over a few fins for domestic efforts. Sportos Khan, my former driver and manservant, would not return my calls. Sweet and cheap Flora kept a loyalty to my ex-wife and hung up the phone whenever she heard my voice. I had to call an agency. Upon inspection of my studio, the snooty rep from Friends of The White Glove presented me with an estimate of $3500. Now, I am not much of a consumer, but that figure seemed a little high just to clean a small house. When I politely asked why the fuck would it cost so much, he curtly replied "Haz Mat." It seems my studio had degenerated into Federal guidelines. After many calls, I found a firm who'd do it for 90 bucks. They wanted money in advance. I wrote a check, endorsing it to the California Agency for Sanitary Housekeeping. The lead man tore it up and insisted that I make out another to the initials of the company. That shoulda been a clue. They cleaned my house with the zip and zeal of a stoned teen under parental orders. I remember how I used to flake when my Mom cornered me; C.A.S.H. used all of my old tricks. 1) Use a cleanser as an air freshener: smelling clean is as good as clean. 2) If you whiten the sink, the countertops look like they've been wiped. 3) My favorite is a painterly technique: Dust the foreground and the background looks done. The California Agency for Sanitary Housekeeping left after thirty minutes of hard labor. I tried to protest but their BMW SUV sped away faster than I could run.
The place still looked like Hell, unworthy
of a studio visit. Here I was inviting Type A Hollywood elite
into a gun-toting barrio. The least I could do was not freak 'em
out further once they got inside the studio. Time was running
short, so I turned to my community for help. My homies delivered
Concepcion and Lei-Lei. Concepcion has more gold on her teeth
than Midas had in his bank. Lei-Lei is wider than she is tall.
Together, they cleaned places I was afraid to look. They scrubbed
with the frenzy of the anal-retentive. A well-placed bongo and
an old copy of Art Issues hid the rough spots on the carpet that
my two new mothers couldn't fix. Concepcion and Lei-Lei saved
the day. I believe their efforts sold three paintings and a commission
and neither of them have an MFA. Now, even I don't mind
going home anymore.
Hell, I'd become a Scientologist before I go Feng Shui. I like a red front door and all, but I seriously doubt my landlord would reset the foundation to gain a more harmonious exposure. Bad luck be damned, my toilet seat stays up. Of course, my disinterest in the popular design religion changed when cash hit the table. My friends chef Tara Thomas and her filmmaker husband John Larsen fell into good fortune when they got their Feng Shui fish. It seems that a small investment into a tank, water and nine fish will yield a prosperous wallet. All it takes are eight lucky goldfish, a big black fish to protect them and your life shall change for the better. Once my pals got their aquarium populated, John's cobwebbed phone began to ring with job offers. Tara's restaurant Traxx had diners shoving elbows for a table.
I am no fool when it comes to easy cash. I quickly purchased the necessary aquarium, oxygenator and a jar of Tartar Sauce should things go south. I bought my nine little fishies, ensconced them in their new home and gave them each a name. I then sat by the mailbox waiting for the dough to come in.
The next day, Maryjane was floating rather than swimming. I said a silent prayer, gave her a burial at sea and flushed the toilet. The next day I replaced her with Maryjane the Second. You see, one need not fear the death of a Feng Shui Fish, for when they die, it is as if the fish are taking a hit for you. I slept well that night knowing that some personal disaster had been adverted. I was untouchable for I had nine bodyguards swimming for my safety. The following morning I woke to find that Spleef and Gar were not among the living. I started to get nervous. Rather quickly, I introduced Spleef Two and Gar Junior to their new fish family. Why were these fish sacrificing themselves so quickly? What sudden misfortune was I escaping?
The next day I returned home to find another
soldier down. Doob was no longer flipping his gills. What was
happening? Am I a bad man? Have I caused anyone harm? Is someone
out to get me? I began to take stock of my life. I made a mental
note to stop kicking dogs. I vowed to be much nicer to my fellow
man. With gratitude and a bit of guilt, I threw Doob Two into
the Aquarium of Death. I hoped for the best but feared the worst.
Should I expect a tax audit? Are my arteries clogging? What does
it mean if all the fish die at once? I now duck when I
hear a plane overhead. I'm afraid an octogenarian with a driver's
license and a Cadillac is gonna take me out in a crosswalk. I
think I may need some meds for my mounting paranoia. I was better
off without any fish but now I'm too frightened to get
rid of them. And wouldn't ya know it? Prosperity has yet to cross
my transom and the daily trips to the Chinese fish store are costing
me a fortune.
GORDY GRUNDY is a Los Angeles based painter. His visual and literary work can be found at www.GordyGrundy.com