Remembering, Creating, and Destroying Art

Somebody once said, “If you’re yearning for the good old days, turn off the air conditioner.” Now, lets not get hysterical—or in today’s 100+ degree weather, suicidal—longing for times gone by. When we look back in envy, we must remember the shortcomings of the eras past. Another dude once said, “Nostalgia is a file that removes the rough edges from the good old days.” Then there’s that gal who offered, “These are the good old days.” The funny thing about quotes is that they are almost always true, even when they pitch opposing views. Tomorrow night, I will DJ at the fabulous Hudson Hotel. My set will be sandwiched between my favorite misnomer, Miss Guy, and that heartbreaker Kelle Calco. The evening is called Ladyland, and its as good as I remember it—almost. The thing about this kind of night is that it is pure and perfect. Great music (except maybe for my set), beautiful, well dressed, stylish people, and a great room. It’s a wonderful crowd that would have fit in well “back in the day.” The difference today is that it is self-contained. Back in days of lore, this crowd would have mixed with a dozen other pure and perfect crowds in a large club. A mix of fashion, art, and ideas would have driven the fashion, art, and ideas to new levels, and new directions. Now you have a room that basically agrees with each other on most things.

Hudson is much better with Guy’s crowd, different and compatible with that of Kelle. There are interesting tourists visiting from exotic lands contributing to the mix, and locals who are hearing the buzz. It is a start, but not quite what was. It is a mixed bag, or these days, purse. It’s a micro scene, but at least it’s grounded in style. I don’t pine for 1989 or even ’81. In the words of that poet I mentioned before, looking back makes the rough edges then seem smoother now. The club world of yesteryear was a world with thousands dying of AIDS, or drugs, or even violence. It was often very segregated, and it was often very poor. It was, in itself, a drug. Clubs stayed open real late, and then after-hours clubs took patrons into afternoons, and jobs, relationships, and other obligations were swept away by the seas of alcohol and debauchery. It was lots more fun, maybe, but its trail of destruction wiped out lives, careers, dreams. Out of this chaos came an art that is hung in museums, but also in offices, and in music played in elevators, or, if done right, in special spots and by DJs who understand the vibe of the era. These “classics” are played in hipster habitats all over town. It’s great to get a rise from The Stooges, or Ramones, as long as the new sounds are mixed in. It’s going to be nice tomorrow night.

Tonight I will visit the New York Premiere of the underground art show, NeonSandwich. Artists so often are, themselves, the show. NeonSandwich reads palms, hawks bags with his work on it, and pushes his brand. He is a character, an innovator, and all around good guy in a world that needs such people, badly. His pitch says:

“Come spray paint me. I will be wearing a white one piece bodysuit covered head to toe. This will occur on street level. A buffet of colors will be laid out for you! You control what you want to spray, burn, tag on me. Also, my Pop-Taoist Art and Abstract Paintings will be on display. And I will be doing Chinese Palm Reading later in the evening.”

NeonSandwich starts At 8pm and goes late. 119 Ludlow Street, north of Delancy.

Speaking of art, I need to address the destruction of the Shepard Fairey wall on Houston and the Bowery. As each day goes by, another chunk of the wall is bombed, spray painted, or kicked in. I asked around to find out why this would be, when the Gemeos and Keith Haring pieces that came before were spared. I was told the “whys” and the “whos” by those in-the-know. The explanation, reason, or excuse was that Shepard has transgressed against others before, and is “getting his now.” It’s sad, as I thought it was a brilliant piece. That fact that it isn’t a drug addict or little league tagger that vandalized the art makes it all even sadder.

Photo: EV Grieve

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