Autumn Sweater

It’s an unusually warm October in Brooklyn. I keep waking up to sunshine and high bitrate recordings of church bells. I appreciate the recordings, a break from the withered and cumbersome authenticity of medieval European bells.

I have my coffee in the backyard garden, elaborate and in bloom. A turtle lives in a small pond there, but keeps entering the house. Pet turtles sometimes carry salmonella. When I try to grab the turtle to carry it back to its pond it twitches and exhales loudly. I yelp in disgust, think about salmonella, and let the turtle go. It scurries under the couch I sleep my nights on.

The couch used to be part of an installation by an artist who ran in our circles, then became rich and famous and abandoned us. Success is a wall between people, an obstruction to the view. The successful have to disentangle themselves from the losers they’re about to leave behind. Some old curse: may you get everything you want.

I’m an outsider, and NYC to me is soft and dreamlike, a city on the same latitude as Madrid. For peers living here, there is immense pressure to either make it or be condemned to the purgatory of meaningless-dayjobs-forever. An overeducated generation underemployed in menial tasks. As a tourist, I’m willing to accept anything.

Yvonne Rainer making artisanal sourdough pizza.
Bas Jan Ader serving you a precise Americano, no milk.
Adrian Piper dogsitting.
Rosemarie Trockel delivering cronuts to your door.
Eva Hesse dealing Silk Road drugs.
Martin Kippenberger listing his sublet on Airbnb.
Louise Bourgeois building window displays for Calvin Klein.
Claude Monet offering erotic massages on craigslist.

I stop daydreaming and leave the garden. The turtle has disappeared into the shrubbery. What does one do in a city? I catch a bonsai exhibit. I admire ancient weapons at the Met. I see alt improv comedy channeling 2005 twee aesthetics. I attend openings full of low-BMI wealthy Europeans. They’re talking about how normcore is over, while police shatter black bodies on the streets. I think about the fossil fuels it took to get us here. I decide I need to go see more improv.

I attend improv shows alone because my art friends are too embarrassed by the thought. They’ve yet to acknowledge the power of total humiliation. When I witness the technical virtuosity, odd grace and pure wit of the best improv troupes I begin to wonder if I’ve chosen the wrong line of work. Laughter binds the audience together. We leave in an uplifted kind of daze.

I see other types of performance: Trajal Harrell interprets butoh at the MoMA, and is stilted and a little boring, then, suddenly, graceful and buoyant. He ends his performance by slowly and flirtatiously waving goodbye to the audience. He waves and floats into another exhibition hall, slowly out of sight. I wave back.

I sit and type and feel soft. I’m ready to forgive everyone, even myself. I melt into common energy. I have nothing intelligent to say, nothing sour enough. We want to live and to be free. We want the art to be sacred, we want it pure. I’m sitting in sunlight, petting an orange cat, wearing loopy lavender patterns. I’m listening to Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. Thinking of driving to Portland. Getting a driver’s license, getting a green card. Traveling back in time to 1972, or 1964. Peace, I think. Peace out.

Originally published at

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