Crazy Cravats

I caught a bit of House of Boateng on the Sundance Channel. That Oswald is good. A cool customer. He's handsome, smooth, super-dapper. He could probably be a good actor. But his reality TV show is pretty hardcore fashionista, and doesn't have much in it to interest anyone except people who want to be a fashion designer or act like one when they grow up. But that doesn't mean that Oswald isn't good at what he does. He makes good clothes and that's ultimately the important thing. But Oswald also knows that sometimes good design isn't enough and that hype can put you over the top, so…here goes! It's risky though. I thought it was very bad for his nice-guy image when Tommy Hilfiger tried to bust a Donald Trump "You're fired" move. Suddenly the smiling Tommy was excoriating poor wannabe designers and before you knew it he was trying to smack Axl Rose.

Anyway, Oswald knows men's clothes. He's good. I'm not the ideal Boateng customer because he cuts for thinner guys and his color palette isn't always right for the Irish complexion. But when it comes to ties he has made some of my absolute favorites. I wore this one today. A combination of orange and purple, it's 3 1/4 inches wide, and since it's a few years old that means Boateng is either a classicist or prescient or both.

I like the surprise of the different-colored small end. The small end is a big deal now as it's becoming the fashion to let it hang below the big, front end of the tie. This is a look I first noticed on Harold Evans when he was running Random House. It's an interesting statement—I wear a tie but I don't give a shit. Now men are being advised to wear their ties this way. I guess it's the natural successor to the shirttail out. What's after that? Have you seen the new Martin Margiela lace-ups with no laces?

Here's my Boateng tie. Shirt by J.Press, jacket by A.P.C.


Intrepid Artist Reveals Military Secrets

Yesterday evening, as the sun rather spectacularly set over New Jersey, artist Tom Sachs led a tour of the U.S.S. Intrepid, the aircraft-carrier-as-museum parked at Pier 86 on Manhattan's West Side. The occasion was the fact that the Intrepid will be leaving its familiar birth near the circle line in just a few days.

"Oh, is the Bush adminstration re-classifying it?" quipped my wife, Gina, alluding to the 55,000 documents that disappeared from the National Archives earlier this year, documents containing information like the numbers of now-obsolete missles that were in the U.S. arsenal in 1971. Little is known, however, about the reclassification program, because the program itself is classified.

No, actually the storied flat-top is being towed out of its berth in the Hudson mud across the river to Bayonne, where it will undergo a complete renovation that will take until 2009. Tom is something of an expert on aircraft carriers, since he is probably the only artist to have built his own. Actually, he didn't build a whole carrier, but he did build a 1/6 scale model of the the U.S.S. Enterprise's "island," the massive control superstructure where the bridge, command centers, and mast are located, for his recent exhibition at Fondazione Prada in Milan.

We tramped across the flight deck, the hangar deck, through the island, the junior officers' quarters, and the chain locker, while Tom and the museum's curators made enlightening comments on the ship and I piped up once in a while, being something of a naval buff. I had impressed Tom weeks ago with my knowledge of the missile submarine—the U.S.S. Growler—which is parked across the pier from the Intrepid, and which we also visited, so I was an amateur technical advisor. When Tom referred to the Intrepid's "forecastle" I told him that he should say "folk-sul," which is how any seaman worth his salt says it, and much of Tom's knowledge is book knowledge. His sea legs seem impressive but mostly theoretical. Somehow the word came out "fork-sul," which I liked a lot and hope will catch on.

There is a fantastic collection of aircraft on the flight deck and everyone's favorite seemed to be the SR71 Blackbird, an incredible craft which set the official world's speed record on its farewell flight, hitting Mach 3.2. The Blackbird, a.k.a Sled, went into service in 1966, replacing the old U-2. Its mission was snooping on Russian military installations, and it remained in service until satellite technology replaced it. It had missles fired at it several times but was never hit, as it flew too high and too fast. The museum curator said the plane actually flew higher than 100,000 feet and faster than Mach 3.2., but that was all off the record and hush hush. As I tapped on the titanium fuselage I wondered if any of this stuff had been "re-classified" by the Bush Administration in their frenzy of returning things declassified under previous administrations.

Here's Tom pointing out the spycam port on the SR 71:


As an old submarine buff, this issue of classified antiques reminded me of how, as a kid, I'd never been able to get into the conning tower of the old decommissioned World War II subs you could tour because it was still "classified." In a world where even Congress is deemed too risky to read the National Intelligence Estimate, I guess you can't be too careful. We were allowed to see some interesting parts of both the Intrepid and the Growler. There was an elevator to the magazine that had all kinds of warnings posted on it. When the Intrepid was on duty off the shores of Vietnam, there was a marine sentry posted here at all times because, as our guide pointed out, this was where they kept the nukes that these ships did not officially carry.

Tom pointed out the snazzy Mig 21, with its brutal nose cone, noting that this was the reason for all of this, as he waved his arms at the Intrepid, all the aircraft, and the submarine with its poised Regulus cruise missile. The delta-winged Mig 21 was one of the most successful fighter aircraft ever designed—over 13,000 were manufactured and they served in the air forces of fifty-six nations. It was a fast and highly maneuverable plane that was feared by the naval aviators who served on the Intrepid because it was more than a match for the American F-4.


Sachs was also quite taken with the Israel Aircraft Industries Kfir, which certainly has the snazziest paint job on the flight deck, I think because it was created using the contemporary artists' strategy known as "appropriation." When the French decided not to sell their Mirage fighter to Israel, the Israelis knocked it off and they did a great job of it, as the 1973 war proved. This particular aircraft is a veteran of the U.S. Marines' "Aggressor Squadron," which played the role of the enemy in training Top Gun school pilots.

I think the Growler tour was perhaps the most impressive part of the evening for this artworld bunch because the submarine lifestyle is something few have thought about. The Growler ws one of the first missile subs, posted off the coast of Russia or China carrying four Regulus guided missles—which look like small, pilotless fighter jets. The Regulus was the first cruise missile, I told the group, named after the star of Top Gun.

"Oh, will the name be changed," asked a young woman, "now that Cruise has been dropped by Paramount?"

"It's rumored," I said, "that Sumner Redstone, after whom the Redstone missile was named, is considering calling them Lowe missiles now, after Rob Lowe."


That was about as funny as things got. I liked the mid-century modern efficiency of the Growler interiors, with the very nice handles on the stainless steel sinks, and I liked the built-in chess and backgammon boards on the formica mess tables. Tom was most impressed by the professional ice-cream maker on board. "It's part of the amenities/suffering ratio," he said, honing in on one of the key strategies in military, if not human, thinking.

Whither Authenticity?

This weekend my son Oscar and I dragged my good-sport wife to the Connecticut Antique Machinery Association's Fall Festival in Kent, Connecticut. This event takes place alongside the historic Housatonic River, on the beautiful, spacious grounds of the CAMA, which also house a Mining and Mineral Science museum, and there were lots of people in attendance. Many were owners of antique tractors, chainsaws, steamshovels, and bulldozers, but most were just fans of grand old gizmos, which were there in great profusion.

Check out the steam engine motorcycle:


It was fun and interesting, at least for me and Oscar. We rode on an antique car pulled by a 1922 Plymouth diesel-switching locomotive, and we were followed on the track by a big old steam engine that almost seemed like it was going to run us down. Now that's fun!

Here's Oscar with old Number Five:


And here she is bearing down on us:


There was a truly educational array of steam and internal-combustion equipment on view. I particularly liked the antique lawn tractors, which seem to have been conceived with as much design consciousness as sporty automobiles—with great examples of modernist imagination on view. I found the equipment buffs at least as interesting as the equipment. I think that there is almost always a fantasy element involved in sartorial style, and this festival seemed to be a celebration of guys for whom every day is a little bit like Halloween. Except when these guys dress up, they dress up in the work clothes of other times and other places. There were dudes here dressed much as the legendary Casey Jones would have dressed, not to mention John Henry, the steel-driving man. There were a lot of great engineer caps in bold colors and patterns, plenty of vintage Dickies and Carhart, and excellent belts worn by guys for whom keeping the pants up can be a matter of life and death.

Notice the excellent belt, and the color coordination of cap, Dickies, and flywheel:


As someone whose professional circumstances require him to keep up with the trends in denim and casual wear, I would say this: Denim designers should be required to attend the Fall Festival, to find their roots in workwear. It's also a good place to get ideas for beards and tattoos. I saw a particularly outstanding gnarly dude of about sixty with a ZZ Top-esque beard, a kidney belt, and a cut of T-shirt that displayed to full effect a bicep tattoo of the Zig Zag Rolling Papers man, a tattoo so nicely faded that I judged it to be circa 1970.

Today nearly all fashion designers say they get their ideas on the street. Maybe they ought to get a 4 x 4 and get off-road a bit, because I was really impressed by the amount of thought, research, vanity, and styling that went into many of the men's looks here. Some were quite rad, like the guy in the tight Carhart sleeveless jumpsuit sporting a sleeveless T-shirt and major eyebrow piercings. And his wife and kids looked like people you'd run into at the church's fried-chicken dinner.

The best jeans were spotted by my wife, a pair of Wild Ass logger work pants with double-think leg fronts to prevent accidental amputation. The logo is a bit fuzzy in my photo, but take it from me, these pants are industrial-strength fly.

Wild Ass, accept no substitutes:


A la recherché de cool perdu

I saw Stoned (billed as uncut, 2005) on pay-per-view the other night. The story of Brian Jones of the Stones and his untimely death. It's trash, but the kind you can't stop watching. I wanted to stop watching because I didn't want Brian to get murdered by his handyman at the end, but I knew how it ended and I liked watching the clothes and the naked girls so much I just kept going. Leo Gregory does a pretty good job as Jones, and Paddy Considine, a fine actor, is nice and creepy as the loser who does in the great rock star. The other Stones don't make a big impression—they are smaller than life—but casting them would be a bit of a challenge, wouldn't it? But the real stars are the clothes and the hair. London of the mid-sixties was such a fantastic time and such an amazing scene that seeing it reconstructed with some care is inspiring. It makes you want to start another revolution. Not with guns, but hair and shirts and guitars and cars. Brian was my favorite Stone and I never loved them quite as much after he was gone. He had a magical presence and there's not much of him on film. He has a magical walk-on in Monterey Pop. They certainly became more powerful but the music was less interesting. One wonders what he might have done musically had he lived.

I've also been reading bits of The Ossie Clark Diaries (Bloomsbury, 1998), which also make me nostalgic for days when it seemed like anything was possible. Clark was the greatest designer of the Swinging London period, and one of the great fashion innovators of the twentieth century. He dressed the Stones, Marianne Faithfull, Jimi Hendrix, Eric Clapton, Twiggy, Faye Dunaway, Patti Boyd, George H., John and Yoko, Pink Floyd, and hundreds more names.

It's a transcript of a crazy diary the designer kept, half drawn in colors in his kooky hand. You can just pick it up and read a page and it's like a thirty second trip. 1969: "Cheyne Walk—Chrissie Gibbs and Marianne. Cocaine on the George mantle piece in Jagger's house, first time… Shave off my beard in Harrods barber shop."

1974: "19 April: Up all night. Very tired today. I love Celia—she understand more, more. Mr. Lamb extended by Credit. Bit heavy. Spoke with Paul McCartney. Nikki Waymouth off to New York. Divine sunglasses from Mick. Love future plans—confidence."

Could you ask more of a poem?


29 April: "Chicago—Hot Day. To the airport. 5.45. TWA Ambassador Service. AM I REALLY FLYING HIGH OVER AMERICA? 'Cool it on these joints, honey, the captain's on his way down here and he'll bus you once we reach Chicago—Pat, the air hostess. Suddenly 6.30 Chicago time and I'm six nouns beyond reality already. No more little white powder—in fact, someone hold me."

It gets better until it gets worse. Ossie Clark was an artist but not a businessman. He went bankrupt in 1983 and was murdered in 1996. He was 54. But the diary and his spirits are fantastic 'til the end. Shortly before his death he is invited to a Stones concert at Wembley. "Mick wears blue and black stripes. Before the concert he gave me a big hug and I asked him for 15 grand."

The Dubliners, Part Deux

So to continue my account of last week's adventures, I was back in Dublin after an absence of many years, and although I knew that things would be different I was still surprised to observe first-hand just how much different. I have actually visited Ireland several times in recent years, but I'd landed in Shannon and headed west, playing golf and checking out the cuisine upgrades. I remembered Dublin as poor but congenial, and it conjured up memories of diesel fumes and begging children and pub behavior that sometimes seemed to border on aggression. Now I have replaced the smelly buses and needy kids with memories of chic Italian restaurants, the woodwork in Bono's Clarence Hotel, and the dazzling houses overlooking the sea at Dalkey. You still see guys walking around in NASCAR jackets who look like they might like to punch you after a few Budweisers (yes, Bud's big there), but generally this is a place where civilization is on the rise.

A few signs: The beer technicians are always on call, making sure that the world's best Guinness is available under ideal conditions.


Great architecture hasn't been torn down yet to make way for Frank Gehry monstrosities.


Much funky stuff remains.


Here are McDermott and McGough at a chic, undisclosed location in Dalkey, overlooking the Bay of Dublin. Sorrento has nothing on the view here.


Once Upon a Time in Dublin

I just spent a few days in Dublin, where I introduced a festival of New York New Wave Films at the Irish Museum of Modern Art. The film program, which is on until the beginning of October, includes Downtown 81, which I wrote and produced; my cable show Glenn O'Brien's TV Party; three films by Amos Poe: Blank Generation, The Foreigner, and Unmade Beds; Eric Mitchell's Underground USA; James Nares's Rome 78; and Anders Grafstrom's The Long Island Four. These entertaining films are arguably the best that were produced as part of New York's underground film boom of the late seventies and early eighties. Most were produced on a shoestring, even a borrowed shoestring, but they're loaded with talent, including Deborah Harry, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Patty Astor, Rene Ricard, Taylor Mead, Duncan Hannah, Cookie Mueller, Lance Loud, John Lurie, Anya Phillips, Klaus Nomi, Kristian Hoffman, Jackie Curtis, James Chance, and many others. Joining me in the introductory event was David McDermott, an artist who appears in four of the eight showings in the festival. David lived in New York for many years, making the transition from downtown entertainer and actor to major artist, becoming a successful painter and photographer as a team with Peter McGough.

McDermott and McGough make paintings and photographs in old-fashioned styles. Their photographs are virtually indistinguishable from those of a hundred years ago. Not only is their work about the past, so is their lifestyle. And when they moved to Ireland in the nineties, part of their motivation was undoubtedly that it was easier to live in the past there. (The fact that artists don't pay income tax in Ireland might have also been a factor.) After five years Peter returned to New York, while David remained in Dublin. Peter seems to have modernized somewhat, and he looks like he's currently living in the late thirties. David seem to be hovering around the turn of the twentieth century.

The night I arrived in Ireland, David McDermott held a dinner party for me in his townhouse in a chic area of Dublin. It was a candlelit evening, as David has removed the electrical fixtures from most rooms of the house. He also consigned the kitchen dishwasher to a dumpster. There is no central heating. Heat is provided by peat fires in the hearths. And there is no refrigerator, so we drank the champagne I brought at cellar temperature. Refrigeration isn't a big problem for David as he is basically a vegetarian, and he cooked a delicious American Southern-style vegetarian dinner and served it wearing a starched 1920s maid uniform.

David's house is probably his best art work. It is absolutely crammed with interesting art and antiques and he spends a lot of his time keeping house the way it was kept early in the last century. His life is a never ending performance, but it's not a put-on. He lives this way out of the good-humored belief that progress is a myth and that our culture is going to hell in a polyester hand-basket. And it's hard to argue with the charm and ecological soundness of his chosen lifestyle.

Here's David in his Dublin bedroom, wearing a crown he commissioned from Russian artisans and a vintage maid's dress.


Here's the stove in the kitchen.


And here is a sensibly scaled McDermott and McGough artwork hanging in the drawing room.


Appropriately, for Ireland, the Museum of Modern Art is housed in the Royal Hospital Kilmanham, a wonderful 17th-century building dating to the Restoration and based on Les Invalides in Paris. A large annex is planned to accommodate work that won't fit into the museum as it now stands. We always like to see art museums grow, but it is kind of charming that the scale of paintings and sculpture at the Irish Modern is limited to an old-world human scale by the premises. We live in a vulgarly "bigger is better age" and paintings are sold by the square foot. Egotistical painters crank out titanic canvases hoping they'll wind up in museums (but willing to settle for 15,000 square foot homes in the Hamptons). I mentioned to the museum's director that I considered the scale of his museum to be a virtue and that those oversized paintings are a bad influence on architecture, helping to inspire the dreadful plague of McMansions rampant in America. At least McDermott and McGough are doing their part to make art that is scaled for the normal, ecologically viable home and is not intended to make humans feel small or encourage architects to create pretentious abominations.

Ireland is a very pleasant place to be. It's congenial and modest and sensible, and there is still afoot in the land a sense of proportion. Now that the Republic has become a wealthy country (with the second highest per capita income in the world after Bahrain), it may be a struggle to avoid pretension. There is in fact a boom in home buildings, and there are unfortunate examples of architecture to be seen, but I hope that the Irish, like the Italians, will continue to appreciate the legacy of the good old days.

Mod Kicks

I love the designer George Nelson (1908-1986). His beautifully clean, functional, unpretentious designs are classics today, and they haven't lost a step. Nelson was a visionary. Not only was he a great designer himself, but he was an important writer on design and, as the company's head designer, he made Herman Miller one of the most innovative furniture companies ever, enlisting such designers as Charles Eames, Isamu Noguchi, and Buckminster Fuller. In my city pad we've got two leather-covered Nelson side tables and what is often called a blanket chest, but seems to be an LP cabinet.


In the photo here it's opening, revealing a stash of Jamaican dub and antique hip-hop. At the country place we have even more Nelson furniture—dressers, a vanity, and his old hi-fi cabinet which still looks modern but quaintly has one speaker opening—it predates stereo. Well, you can imagine how pleased I was to discover at Undefeated, L.A.'s premiere sneaker shop, this pair of Vans made with fabric designed by George Nelson. I think they cost $65. Maybe I can talk Vans into making up some slip-ons with the Josef Frank remnants I have laying around.


The Libertine Look


Thinking about the prospect of Johnny Depp playing in the film version of J.P. Donleavy's The Ginger Man, under the direction of Laurence Dunmore, who directed him in The Libertine, I rented the latter film yesterday and enjoyed it immensely as I lay on my bed sipping a nice bottle of "Na Vota" Ruche di Castagnole Monferrato, 2004, same year as the film. I think this could be Johnny Depp's greatest role, which is saying quite a lot. Dunmore's directorial debut is stunning, and John Malkovich is utterly delicious as King Charles II of England. If you missed this film the first time around, I strongly advice you get with it.

This riotous yet moody tragicomedy tells a somewhat varnished version of the true story of the second Earl of Rochester, John Wilmot (1647-1680). A libertine indeed, Wilmot debauched himself to an early grave, yet managed to create an artistic and social sensation during the Restoration. A favorite of the king, whose father had been executed in the Civil War by Cromwell, Wilmot entertained the court with his wit and satirical poetry, which was widely circulated. Wilmot couldn't stay out of trouble. He was thrown in the Tower of London for the forcible abduction of Elizabeth Malet, an heiress he married two years later. He was later banished for lampooning the king in his "History of the Insipids" and in widely circulated broadsides and for mounting scandalous plays such as "Sodom, or the Quintessence of Debauchery."

For all his antics, Wilmot's admirers included Daniel Defoe, Alfred Lord Tennyson, William Hazlitt, Goethe, and the incomparable Voltaire. His twentieth-century biographer was Graham Greene—although the book was censored when first written. I don't want to spoil the story, so just go rent it, but I will say that the film makes the period seem most fascinating, and it also makes me long for the fashions of 1967. I think we were on to something. The Earl of Rochester Depp is splendidly turned out in looks that would have been the envy of Marc Bolan or Syd Barrett. Since I saw this film last night I've been thinking seriously about getting a wig, which was of course how Wilmot and his cronies, "The Merry Gang," maintained such luxuriant locks.


A Shrine of Design

Russel Wright (1905-1976) was the first superstar of industrial design. His extraordinary vision transformed the American home, bringing modernism to Mom and Pop and the kids, too. Wright didn't shock the bourgeoisie, he seduced it with design that is beautiful, warm, and remarkably practical. His modernism wasn't based on the shock of the new, or a strict regime of form follows function, but on a vision of life lived artistically in harmony with nature. His designs look as contemporary today as when they were first produced. Trained as an architect, he began his career as a theatrical designer, but he is best known for his tableware, furniture, and housewares. Wright was the first designer to sign his products, and when his new creations arrived in department stores customers would line up for them.

In 1942 Wright discovered an abandoned quarry property of 75 acres in Garrison, New York, about an hour north of Manhattan on the Hudson, and he began creating there a very special home, studio, and landscape. He called it Manitoga, which means "place of the Great Spirit" in Algonquin. Wright built a fantastic house and studio there, in collaboration with architect David L. Leavitt. The design of the house shows the influence of Frank Lloyd Wright, the Bauhaus, and Japanese aesthetics, but its situation in the grounds and its interior decor is all Russel Wright. The house overlooks the quarry, which Wright turned into a swimming pool by diverting a stream. He also laid out four miles of hiking trails and spent countless hours improving the look of nature, in a natural vernacular. Manitoga isn't manicured. It has the random look of pristine landscape but it has been manipulated subtly, with a great sense of theater. Mostly working alone, Wright planted and transplanted native trees, plants, mosses, wildflowers, and ferns, and he moved rocks and boulders to subtly improve on nature. There is, for example, a stunning corridor of moss in the woods overlooking the house that was painstakingly transplanted by hand. Manitoga is now the home of the Russel Wright Design Center and it is open to the public. It's best to make an appointment for the tours, as I was once turned away because there were too many visitors.

The house is currently under repair and is not completely accessible. We got just a peek into the double height living room where boulders blend with furniture and the roof beam is supported by a cedar tree trunk. The studio, however, is pretty much as it was when Wright worked there—demonstrating his ingeniously simple design solutions. The studio ceilings are quite fantastic, with pine needles embedded in black paint creating an extraordinary surface. Fluorescent lighting fixtures are concealed and dimmed by grommeted burlap panels. Sections of ceiling in the house are paneled with Styrofoam. An extraordinary luminous wall was crafted by sandwiching cut sections of cardboard tubing in fiberglass. He also created beautiful translucent panels containing butterflies, flowers, and leaves that he collected. I highly recommend visiting Manitoga, even if you can't get the complete experience with the house under repair. I was really inspired by Wright's landscape architecture, and the fact that he did most of the work on it himself. I may ask for a backhoe for Christmas, so I can start rolling the big boulders on my land around. I'm also trying to think up a name for the place. I wonder if there's an Algonguin word for "Round Table."


Here is a view of the house and studio (foreground) overlooking the quarry pool, and a view of the moss corridor.


Bardic Style Matters

My good friend Max Blagg, an important poet and co-editor with yours truly of the extraordinary literary journal Bald Ego, recently spent the weekend here at my Connecticut retreat. When he departed I found that he had left behind several of the books he'd picked up on one of our literary shopping expeditions—a practice that almost always bears fruit in the Berkshire Mountains and surrounding areas. There was that slim hardcover volume by a poet whose name escapes me who was hailed on the dust jacket as the best thing since Auden. From a scan of the pages I determined that not only was this fellow no Auden, he was no Blagg. I was more interested in J.P. Donleavy's The Unexpurgated Code: A Complete Manual of Survival and Manners.

J.P. Donleavy is, of course, a distinguished Irish writer who was born in New York and reverse emigrated. I actually met him many years ago—if I'm not mistaken we had lunch at a restaurant owned by Patrick O'Neal called The Ginger Man which was, of course, named after J.P.'s most famous book. It was certainly one of my favorite novels as a young man, because of its delightful style and its main character who was a sort of poetical con man seducer. I was most impressed by Donleavy. He was handsome, charming, had married a beautiful woman of significant wealth, had become a country squire, and was also, I believe, the owner by marriage of the notorious Olympia Press. For our younger readers, the Olympia Press was a publisher of pornography, sometimes by such extraordinary practioners as Guillaume Apollinaire, as well as titles by Nabokov (Lolita), Burroughs (Naked Lunch), Réage (The Story of O), Beckett, and, of course, Donleavy (The Ginger Man).

Donleavy has written 26 books, by my count. None of them as famous as The Ginger Man, but all enjoyable. Now, many years later, laying on the sofa trying to do as little as possible, I am impressed by J.P. all over again. This advice/philosophy book is about as good as it gets—at times approaching Voltaire and Flaubert in its maxims. As a professional in the advice field, I am memorizing bits of the master charmer's The Unexpurgated Code before returning it to Blaggy. It is making me think that the Style Guy should depart from matters of sock colors and trouser length more often. Here are a couple of good lines:

Upon Introduction

"Gee, I just can't recall your name."

Take this as a warning of inescapable grief ahead. Therefore, should you be unable to recall a person's moniker, blurt out:

"I can't get over how good you look."


This is essential to do in order to let others know whom they might get to know if they get to know you. In order to warm up, bring out the minor names first, slowly increasing their importance till your adversary quakes with the sound of the majors…

The Telephone

This is an instrument a lot of folk use to pretend to be important. So never, by lifting the receiver up too fast, show the bastards you are sitting beside the goddamn phone waiting for it to ring. If the call is obscene, listen carefully, as some of these people exhibit really impressive imagination with their dirty suggestions. In making a call don't say who you are until people get curious, thereby providing a little passing entertainment in this soulless method of communication. Always talk on your phone as if it were being bugged and try once in a while to be amusing. This is always appreciated by those who have to spend long hours eavesdropping, tapping all the boring things you have to say.

Upon Encountering Happiness

Be wary at such times since most of life's blows fall then.

Upon Having Your Picture Taken with Famous People

Get close and throw your arm around your victim's shoulder and smile. Do this at the very last second before they have a chance to jump away from you.

Blowing upon Soup

Always do this if it is too hot.

Here is Max Blagg, poet and librarian, in Liberty of London flowered shirt and glen plaid overcoat, with painter/Gap model Brice Marden.