Sunday, February 19, 2017


In the Studio School
I was  -  yes, alas, even
there  -  the odd man out.
The some-other-kid
from nowhere. Just
getting by. There
were a few really
privileged types
there too; they'd
'lounge' with
me sometimes,
but only because
the downstairs
'lounge' I'd set
up was also my
free room and
sleeping area.
Nobody really
knew that, outside
of the office people
upstairs who'd
allowed me to
stay  -  and a few
others who just
knew I guess
because they
knew me.
Anyway, it
had a bathroom
and a sink, there
was a record
player and even
a table, and two
nice chairs, so
it was a nice
place to just be
-  looking out
through the glass
at what was then
an open-air
connection to
the grassed
between a few
buildings. That's
all been blocked
off now, on both
this first, and the
second, floor  -
which once had
like balcony-windows
with a staircase
on each, from
which to descend
like a debutante,
if one wished.
All gone. So
people would
come down, we'd
listen to records,
talk stuff, music,
people, art, ideas.
Completely neutral
and non-committal.
You didn't need to
be a 'friend' or even
know me; I didn't
care and no one
else did either.
One day, as I
was saying, this
rich, privileged
guy, older than
us mostly, by 7
or maybe even
10 years  -  tall,
wealthy looking,
slumming his
way along the
Studio School,
for fun I guess.
I remember he
had a real normal
name, like Stephen
or Steven; and it
was never shortened.
He came in with
this huge deli-sandwich;
at the time it probably
had to cost some
astronomical sum,
like $5.95 or $6.00.
Most sandwiches were
maybe .75 cents.
He opened it up, cut
off like one fourth
of it for himself,
and just gave me
the other part.
Just like that!
I guess I wolfed it
down, because I
remember him
saying to me  -
'I don't believe
I've ever seen
anyone eat a
sandwich so
fast.' I probably
did look like a
complete fool,
but, thinking
quickly, I replied,
'Well, what else
is there to do
with it?'
People came in
to hang out;
without any
structure, like
I said, It was
just a common-place.
Like every pipsqueak
college winds up
with some dumpy
intersection they
can call their
referred to as
the Quad,' for
identity, so this
little nowhere
room acted for
the Studio School,
not that it needed
it. It was hard
there, always  -
the Studio School,
I mean, not the
room  -  to make
that concept-separation
of that place from
the rest of NYC,
which was, in
reality, the real
'Quad' that we all
fed off. That was
why we were there.
Eighth Street itself,
back then was a
crazy strip of history
and leftover intensity.
Only 10 years previous
it had been heart-and-soul
center of an entire
other universe of things.
Folk-singers, beats,
intellectual vagrants,
heavers and haulers,
innocents, lackeys,
and hams. It had all
run down. maybe the
last, best thing left
was the Wilentz Book
Store nearby. I've
written about it
before, all those
activities and people,
so I won't belabor
it right now again
(just you wait,
'Enry 'Iggins, just
you wait')... You
could step outside
at any time and
be in a better
place than you'd
ever been before.
Out past Eighth Street,
a person could pretty
much go or get to wherever
they wished or wanted.
All it depended on was
a person's grasp of place.
My own grasp was
getting pretty good.
I'd landed there blank,
and was soaking up
everything at a furious
pace. In every direction
I turned, I'd be someplace
else. Nobody around
me seemed to be
experiencing that.
The art supply shops
around, down there,
were really good and
thorough, but they scared
the bejeezus out of me.
Not just because of the
money, which for me
was scarce and in-between,
but mostly because of
the people. I was out
of my element there too.
These clerks and store
people, they treated
art supplies as an option;
a selective choice one made
by taste and opinion. It
wasn't really that at all.
It was a necessary thing;
brushes and paint tubes
cost money, and they had
to be kept up  -  and that
doesn't count the stretcher
bars and canvas and solvent
and things also needed.
Right by us was a 'Utrecht'
art suply store, along
Fourth Avenue  -  which
is what the Bowery turns
into by name after Astor
Place and which, also
by name and after Astor
Place, became 'Book Row,'
which was the name given
to all those ancient and dusty
book shops placed there in
a row. Biblo & Tannen, 
Abbey Book Shop, etc.
The book stores, I could
slide right into; the art 
stores gave me 
the creeps. 
But, no matter.
I'd picked up a few
sidekick friends here and
there; people I found 
interesting and I guess
they as well found me 
interesting. Two of them
were San Francisco guys,
well, three actually, but one 
was only for like two weeks.
The three of them were 
stand-out different fro
the New York types. All
that California sun and
softer living stuff did make
a difference, it seemed. Like
a Diebenkorn painting, just
reflecting more the sky and
light and water and color, 
all that they did and how 
they went about it. Of course,
one of the three being old
Jim Tomberg, of whom I've 
already gone on at length
about, (you'll have to go back,
far back, by chapter numbers 
here, for the Jim Tomberg
section), the entire group
was well-shaded by his
presence. Can you say
'Madman?' The others were
far weaker characters, as
far as that intense and
boisterous aspect of strength
and power. Ed Rudolph, a
really solid guy, was (he 
always reminded me of Peter 
Handke,  later on  -  an Austrian 
playwright). Ed used to say 
my drawings, back then, which 
were large and heavily penciled
 with streaks and jagged lines 
(and not much else, actually, 
now as I look back), always 
reminded him of wartime.
I guess. We never really
saw eye-to-eye on that
stuff. Ed was into, even 
back then, video and
electronic arts, which I,
in my turn, detested. 
So, all that wartime stuff.
we had to call a truce.
But, referencing that
sandwich again, I once said
to him, 'Yeah, but did you ever
see anyone draw so fast?'
He didn't get it.

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