Monday, October 30, 2006
I suppose every book dealer has them. No I’m not talking about bad backs although I’m sure most dealers also have them. I’m talking about books that were bought at one time with the hope of selling them, and instead they sit and sit and sit usually on the top of some bookcase or underneath a table or desk or maybe packed away in cartons so that they can never be thought of again. I even have books stored in my kitchen cabinets. These are my mistakes. These mistakes reside also on my database and thus are on the Internet for the entire world to see and not buy. The other day I decided that it was time for them to go, just like George W. Bush, except in this case I can most definitely do something about this problem. I’ve had these pathetic volumes at least since 1998, and some even longer, like a bad case of dandruff you can’t get rid of. I decided they had to go mainly because of the valuable space these losers are taking up in my apartment, so I took down from shelves and out of the closets 70 books with the idea that I would put them in big shopping bags and in a week or so with the help of my friend Howard we would drive them to some bookstore in New Jersey. Hopefully they will take them off my hands and with any luck will offer up some store credit so I can buy more books that I won’t be able to sell, and they will take up the same valuable space that their friends have just vacated. I spent $109.93 on these suckers, which comes out to like $1.57 for each book. You must be wondering how I could tell the exact amount I spent on them, well like many dealers I code my books so not only do I know how much I paid for each one, but also where I bought them. Cool, but depressing because when I looked them over I thought to myself “Why the fuck did I ever buy this book, or that book.” Did I really think I could find someone to buy “Debbie, My Life”, by the one and only Ms. Debbie Reynolds, or George Arliss’s autobiography “Up The Years From Bloomsbury” published in 1927. Sure it has a nice dustjacket, but does anyone even remember George Arliss or for that matter Debbie Reynolds. And even though I was selling them for cheap they still sat unread and unloved. So maybe you would like to buy my copy of “The Steven Spielberg Story”, or “Born Free”, I have several different editions of that one. And why did I buy a copy of “Halo Over Hollywood” by George Jessel in which Georgie hears the voices of Hollywood stars from the world beyond. I could never even stand the man, yet because I thought it was a strange little book I plopped down $3.60 for this gem and there it sat and sits. How about a paper copy of “Touch Me. The Poems of Suzanne Somers”, I’m almost embarrassed to say that I actually paid 74 cents for this piece of crap. Or maybe you’d like a copy of “Still Water. Prose Poems” by Art Garfunkel. This one I couldn’t pass up for 50 cents. I just can’t believe that no one has grabbed these two marvelous books of poetry. Maybe Suzanne and Art could do an evening of their poetry at the 92nd street Y? I won’t go but surely there might be a large audience there and then maybe someone would buy my copies offered for only $10.00 each. Hell who am I kidding I couldn’t even give these two books away. To be fair to myself there are some decent books waiting to be taken on that long trip to the Garden State. Like what you’re probably thinking? Well how about “Paradise Alley” by that great American writer Sylvester Stallone or “Photo Oops” which is a fun book of terrible photos of celebrities caught off guard that would be perfect for a Christmas stocking stuffer or how about a picture book on great New York Restaurants that no longer exist including the one that came down on Sept. 11th or “The Actor’s Book of Movie Monologues” for that struggling young actor in your life. For those interested in movie star or celebrity bios I have in the shopping bags, bios of Michael Caine, Bogart, Lana Turner, Gary Cooper Mayer and Thalberg, Harrison Ford and his amour that great actress Calista Flockhart. Novel wise I have “Hannibal” “A Thousand Acres” (there are almost that many copies on line), “The Horse Whisperer”, “The Hawk” or “Felicia’s Journey.” What these books all have in common of course is that they were all made into bad movies. I have a weakness for novels that have been turned into bad films and these are great examples of that new sub-genre that I’ve sort of invented. So come on, this is your last chance to grab these and many other beautiful losers before they take that one way trip to New Jersey and hopefully I’ll never see them again.
Thursday, October 26, 2006
Tuesday, October 17, 2006
More Published Artwork
Monday, October 16, 2006
Joan Petronelli The Demon Teacher Of P.S. 131
In the fall of 1955 when I was eight I started the 4th grade and had as my teacher a very pretty but emotionally unstable young woman by the name of Joan Petronelli. Now Joan was a small very goodlooking Italian woman straight out of Brooklyn by way of hell. She had short red dyed hair, a cute little chubby face, and a nice shape with perky tits. She wore lots of perfume that I can to this day sometimes still smell at the oddest of times, like riding the subway, taking a shower or eating lunch at a diner. She had a terrible temper with a voice to match that temper. I didn’t like her and found her to be scary and unpredictable. One minute she would be all sweet and nice, but then if something didn’t go her way or some poor kid didn’t do the right thing or gave the wrong answer all hell would break loose in that classroom lined with children’s drawings and the 1955 air would be shattered by her loud screaming, foot stomping and sometimes face slapping of some hapless Dick or Jane. She was also fond of ear pulling and cheek pinching. Once her own mother came to school to talk to her about something. Her mommy seemed like she was a nice Italian woman who probably cooked real good Italian food. She had black hair like my own mother. Joan generally left me alone because she thought I was cute, and she liked cute kids (especially cute boys) and because I drew real nice pictures, and she loved real nice pictures. But if you weren’t cute or couldn’t draw real nice pictures you had better look out. She was especially hard on the less attractive kids in the class, with fat boys being her favorite target. She pretty much left the girls alone but once screamed at Eleanor Boyer because she called another girl a fruity fag. I had no idea what that meant, but Joanie sure did, and let the little lumpkin have it big time. “Don’t you ever use that word in here again Missy” Do you know what that means, well do you.” She screamed at poor little Ellie as tears welled up in her eyes. “No Miss Petronelli I don’t but I heard my brother say it the other day and I didn’t know it was a bad thing.” Well now you do, so take yourself to that corner and you will sit there until the end of the day.” Little did I realize that Ms. P was an early gay liber. Maybe someone she knew was a fruity fag, a brother perhaps or an uncle lurking in that dark murky closet of 1955. Who knows. I do know that I sure hated going to school and was absent from her class for 45 days that year from Oct. to June. I can only imagine the excurses I came up with to get out of Joanie’s class. She was always pinching my cute little cheek, which I hated, and one day I had enough and told my mother that she had hit me. “She did what?” My mother said, nearly choking on her Raleigh cigarette. “Well we’ll just see about that.” The next day as I sat at my little desk I looked up and saw my mother through the glass opening in the classroom door. I was shocked, as I had no idea that it was open school week. But it wasn’t and my mother wasn’t there to find out how I was doing in my studies. There she was all dolled up in her black alpaca coat, her hair nicely permed and brushed and her lips brightly painted red. She started to bang on the glass until Joan looked up and and saw her. My mother was silently beckoning her with her finger to come on out. Joan looked confused and a little frightened by seeing this woman who looked a little bit like her own mommy silently mouthing “come out here.” Joan got up from her desk and said to the class “I’ll be right back.” And out she went to meet her waterloo by the name of Roz. The class was very quiet and I could see but not hear my mother as she silently screamed at Ms. Petronelli. And what I later learned my mother had said to Joan was “If you ever touch my son again, I’m going to break your Goddamn head.” Or something like that. Joan was turning white, my mother red, and finally she left and Joan came back in and was so sweet and nice for the rest of the day. My mother was one tough cookie when it came to protecting her little jewel, her pride, her joy of joys. Later that term poor Joan had a nervous breakdown and was gone for the rest of the year. Yippee we all shouted and jumped for joy our little feet barely touching the ground. However our happiness was short lived because the teacher replacing Joan was so much worse. If Joan was from Hell, Miss Goldfarb owned it. She screamed and scared us kids like Joan never did and we all hoped and prayed that our Miss Petronelli would be delivered back to us. This alas was not to be, and we were stuck with this piece of shit until June. However Joan did return the next year and my friend Howard was unlucky to find himself in her class. There she was all rested after her vacation in the looney bin, and there was poor Howard who she took an immediate and intense dislike to. She made his life miserable and he would complain all the time about her to his mother who did nothing. When my mother would meet his mother in the street she would lecture her soft and sometimes not so soft to do something about Miss P. But Howard’s mother was way too passive and timid to do anything about Joan, so he had to put up with her putting him in the corner practically every day and making fun of him in front of the whole class. He couldn’t do anything right in her eyes, and he would have horrible nightmares at night, waking up his whole house with his wailing and shrieks. “Don’t kill me Miss Petronelli I promise I’ll do better the next time.” He would yell. Finally his mother could take no more and decided to go up to school to talk to the principal. However on the day when Howard’s mother was suppose to go up to meet with the principal she got a phone call from him telling her that there was no need to come as Miss Petronelli had been hit by a garbage truck on the way to school and was dead. That night our mothers took us out to our favorite Italian restaurant where were had a great dinner and a nice time.
Friday, October 13, 2006
Tuesday, October 10, 2006
There was no way that my mother was going to get me to go on to the boardwalk. No way at all. At four I was a stubborn little boy, and even though it was hot and humid I was not going to go on that long wooden thing that seemed to go on forever. “You’ll feel cooler there and we can go by the water” My mother pleaded. “No no no” I screamed and started to cry. It was the summer of 1951 and my mother had taken my sister and me to Coney Island for a day of sun and fun. But the strange loud music and the people walking back and forth on that endless wooden walkway were scaring me. I started to cry, as my mother tried pulling me up the wooden ramp. My sister her mouth full of custard started to laugh at me and a crowd started to form. They also thought it was a hoot. “Why he’s just a little scaredy cat” one old man said. “Let the boy be” a mother holding her own little boy’s hand said. Now it wasn’t like I’d never been to the beach before. I have lots of photos of me as an infant taking in the noon day sun, but what did I know back then. Now at 4 years old I found the loud crazy syncopated music and that horrible mechanical maniacal laughter that was coming from some sideshow attraction on the boardwalk really frightening. Finally I guess my mother gave up and back home we went. I would a few years later return time and time again to the fading somewhat dilapidated once glorious play land by the ocean. Mostly I would go to Coney with my slow witted Uncle Natie who would take me to Steeplechase Park where I would spend hours in this weird early 20th century playground that was limping wounded into the mid 20th century. Coney Island was only 10 subway stations away from my house in Borough Park Brooklyn. Never a great fan of Coney Island itself I did love Steeplechase with its wooden rides that were brightly painted every season in the reds, blues, greens and yellows that I loved. The paint that they used was glossy and thick from the many coats applied over the long years that the park had been in operation Years later in 1981 I would name one of my open shelf piece sculptures after the park. George C. Tilyou’s horrible looking face loomed over us on the massive glass wall facades that faced the beach and Surf Ave, and in the early 50’s Coney Island still had some charm and life and most of the rides and attractions were still in place. It hadn’t become the desolate and somewhat dangerous place that it would become in the 60’s and 70’s. In Steeplechase that relic of Victorian entertainment for the masses I would love to walk around the grounds and inside the huge pavilion. It was so cool inside with all the voices echoing back and forth off the mile high walls. The great slide and the mechanical racehorses were my favorite rides, and I would drag my poor simple uncle onto the horses that now appear to me to have been dangerous and more frightening than in memory. These were wooden horses that I think were the original ones from the early years of Steeplechase and they would circle the park on a metal track roller coaster. There was nothing to hold one in and you would hold on for dear life to the person in front of you as you raced down and up the iron rails screaming your head off. After you got off you found yourself in an open arena called the blow-hole theatre where clowns smacked your ass with paddles and an underground wind would rush up and raise the dresses of the women all to screaming laughter from the audience that sat around in an amphitheater like setting. Some fun and all for only $1.00. Sometimes my brother would take me to the Washington Baths, which was built in 1933 and was a large indoor pool. It was there in the steam room that I saw my first adult naked men all sweaty and steamy and soaped up. Sometimes for reasons I still can’t understand my mother would let my sister at age 13 take me along with her and her friends to Coney without any adult supervision. We would ride the hot crowded subway passing through the stinky polluted Coney Island Creek that was full of funky junk and small wrecked abandoned wooden boats that had seen much better days, and we knew we were close to the Island. The hordes would leave the subway at the last stop which was the dark, dank and cavernous Stillwell Ave Station and we would immediately be hit by the wonderful and not so wonderful smells of cotton candy, popcorn, suntan lotion, sweat and salt water as we made our way out of the dark into the bright hot sunlight of Stillwell and Surf Avenue. It was here that my sister lost me. Somehow (I sometimes think on purpose) we became separated and I found myself in front of the World In Wax Musee which was right next door to the subway station and before I knew it I was deep inside that dark and spooky place that was filled with large exhibits and life size tableaus of life like wax figures doing horrible things to each other. Some depicted recent murders mostly of women that had been reported in the local tabloid press and were quickly illustrated for the thrill crazy viewers and others were more historical in nature. But all were fierce, grisly and nightmarish and I stood there with my eyes popping out of my head, and my mouth wide open. I slowly moved from one exhibit to the other when I suddenly felt a hand on my shoulder. I screamed. It was some young guy who worked there and he asked me what I was doing here all alone. I told him I was lost and was looking for my sister. Nice guy that he was he led me out the way I came in, and there standing in front of the musee in the bright sunlight was my sister looking scared and nicely worried. When she saw me, she gave me a smile but then took it back and let me have it. “Promise me” she asked “that you won’t tell mommy what happen and I’ll take you across the street to Nathan’s and buy you a hot dog and a coke.” “Ok I said but I also want French fries.” She took my hand and we crossed the large avenue on our way to hot dog heaven. I would return many times to that horrible place both in reality and in my nightmares and stare at the bloody still murder scenes and sometimes worry that someday I would see my mother and father in one of the exhibits. I couldn’t decide who would be murdering whom.
A note on the illustrations used in this post. From the top
Double exposure photo of my mother and me on the beach at Coney Island
My 1981 sculpture "Steeplechase." (Wish it was in color)
Old postcard of the racehorse ride
Me and My uncle Natie at Coney Island
Me in front of Steeplechase
Steeplechase at night
Me again on the beach at Coney Island
Small Mountain In A Box
Friday, October 06, 2006
More Published Artwork
and Siren Magazine which is also a beautiful on line journal has posted a mini retrospective of my works on paper from the 60's to the present on their site. The link is
and also the very attractive journal Foliate Oak has published many pieces of mine at these links
Wednesday, October 04, 2006
Book Cover Designs
The drawing accompanying this post is titled "Bold Landscape" and was done by me sometime in the early 1980's.