Thursday, April 7, 2016


You know how your body wants to
scoff at time change? When the clocks
have to switch one way or another by
an hour? It's a difficult thing, and one
I never can fully get my self around  -
like why does the time and the pacing
of Man have to take over the primitive
internal factor of human sense and feel?
That was the way it always felt, for me,
in New York City. It was really odd,
because everyone there is usually seen
as nuts and fighting for or against the
clock, trying to make money hand over
foot by some crazy-assed scheme. As
if the clock was master. But it never
worked like that for me. I have no
time. Period. One time, my friend
Joe and I did this thing that we thought
was some cosmically-heavy onslaught
against time, a symbolic setting-out
on our own parts. We each had our
wristwatches  -  whatever they were
and where we'd gotten them, no matter 
-  and he'd found some really cool
high-gloss, silver metallic masking
tape, on a roll, down-stairs at the
Studio School, on one of those old
supply shelves. (I used to take him
down there and we'd snoop around
for interesting things). This one night,
Buckminster Fuller was in for an
evening lecture, open to the public,
and Joe had come in for a listen and
we had some time to kill. With that
shiny-silver masking tape, we covered
the watch-fob crystals on our watches.
So, for the while of when this lasted
we'd be walking around with wristwatches
on that were not wristwatches at all,
just rather our own symbolic items
of no-time, like a form of protest-jewelry.
It looked really good too  -  we'd tightly
taped over the globe of the watch-crystal,
and carefully and nicely cut around it with
a sharp pen-knife, making thus a nice form.
Joe was the guy, I may have mentioned,
who had the friend named Bob Mahaffey,
who had two claims to fame: 1. Back in
San Francisco, when he used to drive the
Art Institute maintenance truck around (we
didn't have one of them in New York), he'd
always drive somehow with his foot on
the clutch, exerting some form of pressure
and slipping the clutch, heating it up (San
Francisco hills), and burning it out. He
was a notorious clutch burner. 2. He had
a deadly peculiar habit of always asking
people, upon first meeting, like right after
the greet and handshake, 'you Jew?'
Whatever that meant to him, that was
his question. I never got to the bottom
of it, if he was frankly anti-Semitic,
as it's called, or something, or if he just
really sought to know. The problem I
saw was always, if that was his criteria
for asking, because of a dislike or
something, he'd be betraying his own
claim of disliking Jewish people
because of their supposed traits and
ways. If those were supposedly so
obvious, then why'd he need to be
always annoyingly asking that? Or,
maybe he'd just heard or been told
that NYCity was full of them,
and he wanted to see them, like
any tourist seeking the curiosity
they'd been told about. Anyway,
he disappeared quick enough  -
we'd often get visitors from the
San Francisco Art Institute,
interchangeable art-hippie types,
who came out to see what New
York and NY art was like  - 
which actually is how Jim Tomberg
got here, if you recall two chapters
back, and he then just never left.
Adjacent to the Studio School
too, on the west side of it, I
should add, was the 'American
Youth Hostel.' That was truly
amazing  -  at the ground level
it was a doorway and a bike rack.
The other four levels, inside,
were three floors of rooms
(used for sleeping) and the main
level, which was like a reception
desk, coffee bar, snack bar, etc.,
like a small hotel  -  some warm
food, but not much. It was a 'youth
hostel' for traveling Euro kids; a
place for them to stay - meaning
college-types, vagabonds,
foreign-language strange dudes,
all messy and covered over with
back-packs (pretty rare back
then, in America), adventure gear,
boots, head wraps, long, straggly
hair and beards. And the girls  -
amazing. Euro types too, but each
one wispy thin, svelte, dressed in
crazy fabrics and stuff, the likes
of which I'd never seen before.
Reeking as well of a certain,
distinct, patchouli-oil, a sense of
Euro-sexuality that I could never
put my finger on, (Jeepers, there,
NO PUN!). Note to author:
 'Quit while you're ahead.'
It was always a crazy scene and a
wild bunch. They always reminded
me of the people you'd see, and
still do see, on the Bear Mountain
Bridge. The bridge, up there, crosses
over the Hudson River and is itself
part if the Appalachian Trail, so if
you're there, at the bridge, you see
numerous hikers and climbers, in
all their gear and packs and stuff,
dipping out of the wooded trail to
walk across the rickety little car
bridge on Rt. 9D or whatever it is
up there, in the people/hiker
walkway lane. A very cool sight.
That's what these hostel kids
always reminded me of. Milling
about, trading off a bicycle return
or consulting NY City maps, all
those foreign languages  -  French,
German, Italian and the rest. I guess
they were well-off kids, traveling
a semester or a Summer here in the
USA. I've been told of hostels
like this everywhere, around all
US cities, and worldwide too.
Seasoned drifters. The
vagabond nomads of all the
subconscious underbelly
of the world. Pretty cool.
I used to think, and realize, by
seeing these kids, how really I'd
missed it all  -  out of the loop on
that one. I'd been brought up entirely
different, in an environment that no
more would have had me traipsing
around foreign countries on foot,
footloose and fancy-free no less,
than it would have sent me to the
moon. It was as if my face was
always up against a glass  -  into
another view of a far and distant
land. All the New York money
I kept running up against, and
now all that European money.
'The rich are different,' it's been
said. Well, let me attest,
the poor are too.
We'd get hostel kids wandering 
around inside the Studio School 
too; it was always good. Being 
something of the 'official' night 
guy at the school desk right above 
the stairway, atop the big, odd 
Claudia Stone Memorial Sculpture
(see previous chapter #15), they'd 
always be wandering up the stairs, 
to me, asking to see the school or 
be walked around to view the
various workrooms and studios  -  
official tour-guide me, sometimes 
then, too. I mostly always obliged, 
providing no one was drunk or
raucous or anything. We'd have a
few Studio School students in their 
studios working, sometimes often 
late into the night, or just sleeping 
on their floors. Which was always 
of course one of my options too, 
but I seldom used it because my 
own studio space was relatively
afar off from the front doorway/front 
desk area I was concerned with. 
Part of my job, until about midnight 
anyway, was to watch the comings 
and goings, and the front doorway
and street area.
That sculpture, by the way, at the 
bottom of the lobby-entry stairs, 
was a memorial for Claudia Stone, 
the girl who'd died  -  it had been 
put in place, and donated, by her
father, the same wealthy guy who 
gave the bequest of funds for the 
new location. Many, many years 
later, now, the lobby and front 
was recently refurbished and
restored (two Summers ago), 
and last I knew that sculpture 
and stuff was gone. I'll have to 
check for present-day status. All
this is so very weird, as it's thought
through : I guess that father's now 
long dead too, and as wife, and 
Claudia. All those tons of money 
given, yes, it began a school 
building and endowment, and
equipped the lobby with a grand 
memorial sculpture  -  but it's all 
gone now. The people with whom 
the situation resonated are dead, 
passing or again, and less and less 
is referenced. Maybe even the old
sculpture memorial itself is now 
forgotten about. Had anything 
else been done with that money, 

had a hundred-thousand dollars

each been given, back in 1968, 
to the 50 students then in the 
school, would that have
made a difference instead? 
For better? Who really knows, 
and the memory-business
is sure a funny one.
Back to the original point here, 
about time. I found it to be that
'art students' were a haughty lot,
mostly. Sort of all caught up in
their own form of superior elitism.
Two instances come to mind, and 
then I'll close. One of the guys there,
Steve Sloman  -  yes, Jewish, OK, 
very vocal, established, opinionated.
A good, founding member of the
school staff. Big-stuff. One time
a few of us were out front, on the
sidewalk and corner by Fifth Avenue,
and there were horns blaring and a
large, noisy traffic jam all around 
us. Remarking about all the cars 
and noise, someone said how 'angry'
everyone in their cars seemed. Steve
piped up : 'Angry? Sure they are, and
wouldn't you be? Look at them. It's
a Wednesday night and they're stuck
in traffic trying to get home from 
their crummy, miserable, everyday
lives. Who wouldn't be angry to
have to live like that?' I thought 
that, instantly, at that moment, was
a really haughty comment. And 
another time, in the main 
library-lecture room, we had one 
of our regular music lectures, by
Morton Feldman  -  a big deal 
modernist composer through the 
20th century. His talks were like 
once a week, deep intense music
discourse, theory and all that, plus
lots of personal reminisces about
his work in the 40's and 50's, Pierre
Boulez, John Cage, all that stuff.
One time, there was a plumber in
the library bathroom, heavily 
engaged in his work. It was way 
after five, he was obviously really 
trying to get done, working hard,
alone, at a difficult project. And he
was making a lot of noise, 
unavoidable work noise. Well, 
of course that was all this roomful
of effetes needed. After about 10 
minutes of interruptions, they began
belittling the plumber, making fun 
of him, his work, his tools, his very
being. He finally cracked. It was like
a crazy scene in an absurdist
play or something, maybe an old 
TV drama. They were yelling insults 
back and forth, across the room, 
answering each other back. The 
plumber guy finally just quit the 
deal, rounded of his tools, 
muttering all the time about 'I'll 
fix you bastards' and all that, in his 
Brooklyn workman's voice; which 
they'd already made fun of. He 
stormed out, cursing the room.
Outcome? No bathroom, and a 
roomful of stinky pipes. 
That's art for you.

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