Thursday, January 25, 2007
FLAME: PAGE SIX
Male Geometry #3, Holly Crawford
Six pomegranate seeds. Six months underground, rising at Winter Solstice. Six for the Lovers. Six for the symbol of the Hieros Gamos. Six for your birthday today, January 24.
Six for PAGE SIX.
You didn’t know about his PAGE SIX obsession when you encountered this singular FLAME outside EXIT ART. But you might have guessed. After all, you only had to assess the delivery vehicle -- Baird Jones! The party impresario/gossip writer has been pursuing you to write a feature about his celebrity art collection.
Right here at the LAB, a few steps from where you sit on your black satin sheets, is where you met. He quickly summed you up as an adventurer and invited you to participate in his making up a new category for his collection: the celebrity imposter artist! But that is another story!
YOU DIGRESS! Back to EXIT ART and the Flame that appeared so suddenly -- as if summoned from Hades -- as your ticket out of the art world which seemed intent on crushing the human spirit with the American affliction of consumerism.
After writing nearly 500 reviews, you are burnt out! It bothers you at times that artists can make a Question Mark on a blank sheet of paper and sell it (IF THEY ARE EXTREMELY LUCKY) for like a million or so bucks while writers are expected to penetrate through the blank page with original insights. It is sooooo taxing on the brain, you know!
So Jones surprised you with Z______ (INSTANT INTRIGUE! A FLAME THAT IS, FOR ONCE, AVAILABLE?!) on a night that you were to paint the town purple. YOU FIGURED THAT YOU MIGHT AS WELL GO ALONG FOR THE RIDE AS LONG AS YOU ARE WRITING A STORY ABOUT HIM. You know how it is; the red carpets rolling out – YOU were once the nightlife columnist in Palm Springs and you helped bring that dusty old village back to life, DIDN’T YOU? You, in fact, used to punctuate your copy with a lot of words in CAPS (TOO MANY, SAID YOUR EDITOR).
Back in New York City, Jones was purportedly taking you to an anniversary party for the hippest Hispanic magazine with some of the hottest Latino stars in the city. The name-dropping didn’t register with you but you love to get down with Latinos!
“How is your Spanish?” he asked.
Yet, standing alone in front of EXIT ART thinking that what you REALLY wanted to do was catch the train back to Connecticut. And then he calls you and said they were just blocks away. Suddenly, it happened. The fickle finger of fate reached down to you, marking your life for a dramatic change. You remember what your healer told you once – how did it go – you have to assess if they are on your path to help you or hinder you.
Too late! SPARKS fly out of the picture and into FLAME immediately. All this takes place before EXIT ART. T______comes on like a tornado, sweeping you into his intensity, proclaiming loudly as he walked through the portal of the alternative space that the people who ran the space were pagans. How did he know? It was obvious that he had an antenna that told him such things!
As you reflect on these memories, gazing out at the passersby on Lexington Avenue and 47th, seeing them gaze back at you and at the symbols spread around you, you remember how it was. Was it a set up? They told you immediately that he was from an old New York family. He certainly had the eccentricities of old money. You were intrigued. There was mystery and intelligence quicker than your own. So why are you writing his legacy into the ashes surrounding the dead tree in this installation? You have to remember every single emotion, every twist of the FLAME before graduating to FIRE.
He would send you through emotions you never experienced, using hurled like daggers aimed directly through your heart. Finally, you sat down close to tears and said: “Well, I will say one thing for our relationship. It has finally gotten me into my body. You make me feel things that I never thought I could feel.”
You met under an Aquarian Moon in early June and the evening unfolded in the most unpredictable manner. After so many years of having your wings clipped while living in Demeter’s house, you felt like you were traveling again! Jones led you across the street to the gas station where he offered to buy beer and snacks. It was there that T____ told you his birthday and you knew immediately that you would spend the night in his bed. You tell him of the book on alchemy you wrote about an actor born on the same day and you add that your last long term boyfriend was also born on that day. So, there was a connection established between you two as Jones sipped his beer from a paper bag while hailing a cab. T______ got Cracker Jacks. He offered the box to you in the cab and you provocatively reached over Jones in the cab for a handful. “Did you get a prize?” you asked coyly, thinking you already found yours.
It was late spring, not yet time for Persephone’s turnaround. The attraction was a pleasant surprise. The cab stopped before a club with the compulsory red velvet rope. “I’ll take care of this,” Jones says and he goes up to the woman with the list. He had a few words with her and she waved you inside. It is a sleek bar with polished glass surfaces and large glass stags mounted on the walls. MMMM. Curious. Silver trays brought bite size hamburgers and you grabbed one. As you approached the bar, Jones made jokes about having to wash dishes if you can’t pay for your drinks. The bartender was pouring some sticky pink liquid into champagne glasses. You asked what it was. Grenadine. And it was complementary.
Ahhh, pomegranate juice! Persephone’s favorite intoxicant!
So right there in the club – not your intended destination -- you had two signs -- the stag heads on the walls and the pomegranate cocktail. You wondered how you got here but knew better than to ask questions. Besides, don’t all events behind red velvet ropes look alike? You groove with the upbeat the crowd and the music as the feeling of entering a myth is played out through your psyche. That is the importance of the properly placed symbol in your adventurous life!
T_____ was talking to the D.J. and you merely wanted to dance. But your companions refused to partner with you. So you danced alone.
There are all kinds of people peeking through the windows of the LAB now, commenting on your activity. “She just sits there and writes on the bed?” a woman exclaims. It didn't occur to you until this moment that you are on public display. The realization was prompted by an e-mail from a friend that commanded you stop fasting and stop letting the art world make you into an icon. “I want your old self back!” she declared. So you replied: “Too late. I have passed through the fire!” You understand now that MP’s ceremony set up the threshold that allowed you to walk through the gate from the residue of your old skin, passing through a revisioned rising Persephone to don the golden spiral cloak of the newly emerging Love Goddess.
It is rush hour on your birthday and you have been in this public/private space for nearly the entire day and the previous night, trying without success to sleep under the red gallery flood lights and the noise and the occasional drunk rapping on the window. Getting used to the idea of being on public display.
You remember the last time you sat in the front window – just before you disappeared underground. It was raining. You conduct an interview with your publisher, Abraham Lubelski, while he is naked in the window caressing a skeleton. You focus your eyes on your legal pad and asked him pointed questions about the nature of his performance, something like ”was it cold?” He tells you that he is facing his past, present and future. He is mourning his parents and his old patterns. He is meditating on nothingness.
And you, what were you doing interviewing the naked publisher of NY Arts magazine in public? You were beginning to proactively enter the realm where your erotic adventures carried you -- the transformation into the opposite (critic/reporter into performing artist) in a public/private space. But there was a personal purpose for the interview as well -- you were working through your feelings about your Jewish father walking around the house nude. The result was a revelation (you realized you were embarrassed, not for yourself, but for unprepared visitors to the house) and a transformational dream in which your right hand, your writing hand, was a throbbing phallus.
You begin to write a series of articles on The New Eros while delivering this elevated consciousness about sex into your lifestyle. You sell the first piece to The New York Press and the second to Art New England. The New York Times turns you down. “We aren’t ready for that yet,” the editor informed you.
Your friend Gae is rapping on the LAB door, laden with gifts. Flowers – two bouquets! She takes a health green drink out of a paper bag and another purple bag with a sculpted gray scarf you immediately put on and a wrapped present. "Open it!" A dictionary of symbols! Perfect. She sits on the bed with you, looking stunning, and tells you about the New Man in her life. “He meditates!”
“No more pretty boys,” she declares. You think how ironic it is that you are writing about this pretty boy for your birthday posting and you wouldn't be able to do so if you hadn't let go. Fasting doesn't just apply to food intake!
She moves to a chair where she can look at you. “I accepted a man who comes to me,” she says.
She is having work in The Chelsea Museum show opening tomorrow. Dangerous Beauty -- which is how you feel dangling your feet over the shattered ruby red goblet and having people wrap on the windows as if demanding to be let in. Do they realize that this is a space blessed by the union of Heaven and Earth? Something so new and they can't get over the dichotomy, confusing eroticism with pornography, which actually serves to accentuate your light with their projections of the shadow. Doesn't this installation/performance you created sum up your life experience??
“You are the only avant-garde writer!” your friend declares as she dismisses Chelsea as having gone over to commercialism.
You laugh. So avant-garde that I stopped writing about art!
She sums up the East Village scene as dead. And so, you gradually begin to realize why you had to make the circle. Swallowing the Six Seeds to go underground at the Summer Solstice after you met T______, a fated encounter pre-ordained by timing. Yes, even the timing was right. This close to the shift of paradigm, Persephone wasn't to be kidnapped on her conscious premeditated descent; instead she pursued the man capable of equal partnership into the Underworld. So, you followed T______ to honor the unfolding of a new cosmology.
Male figures hovering outside the window: “You have to be writing about something pornographic to pay your expenses!”
“There is no way in NYC she could pay rent for this place.”
“What is the gimmick?”
You are thinking that people in NYC cannot understand someone doing something out of love, out of passion, something that enriches the soul and isn’t for sale!
A woman outside the LAB door is reading the Epilogue to Champagne Tango, written about the tormented reunion with the Beloved in the East Village after you returned from Argentina. Here is the story of how past, future and present converged on that fateful night prior to the Summer Solstice when T______ exploded as you slinked through the shadows of Thompkins Square Park; it was right out of the Epilogue to your book!
This exhibition is generating much interest among women! There are so few spontaneous expressions of passion in this cold capitalist city! You watch them bring their boyfriends to the window with a knowing wink while pointing to the box of Ginsing labeled Woman's Love Tonic. Here is a synchronicity unfolding in real time as you write! Women on the street are waving at you, supporting your new interpretation of Eros. They come with their men, holding hands. A young woman saying to he mother: “See, it is about magic, astrology, the New Moon and the Winter Solstice!”
They get it! Who are these publishers to tell you all these years there is no place for you in commercial publishing? What do they know? It seems that Persephone was confined to the Underground as long as her gift of penetrating the darkness through her light of innocence was rejected. What a loss to human consciousness to have her remain in Underground exile all these years!
But she is emerging and this is your story! The mother and daughter are looking at you wide eyed through the window and your heart surges when you think of the mother-daughter relationship that will be transformed by this journey! They too are living, at some level, the myth of Persephone and Demeter. Maybe not as extreme as YOU and your mother, but they too could experience the shifting of the lunar and solar light as a form of family ritual!
So, this IS the New Paradigm, you think. Indeed it is and you are reveling in being INSIDE the feedback loop generated by your art. What a gift you have been granted on this Six day, the day of your birthday! Six is for the seeds Persephone swallowed in the underworld. Six is for the Lovers Card. Six is for the personal year when Persephone met her match! Six is for PAGE SIX that inspired this exhibition as a convergence between a new form of celebrity who celebrates the cosmology and the artist arising from the Underground!
By while you were awaiting the signal to rise, T_____brought FLAME into new meaning. It began that fated night when Jones sent you east with him in the cab. Around First Avenue the inevitable happens: he invites you to his trendy hi-rise building for tea.
Or had you gone into the Underground one more time so you could meet your match? How did the poem go? She sought a man that would keep her guessing! The unpredictable personality that would never bore you, the man that could speak to you on all subjects. Yes, that is it! You recognized this intangible quality in T____ right from the start during his explosive entrance into EXIT ART. And when he invites you to do something that you never do -- cross that line separating the Third Estate -- you think, well, he is my ticket out! There is purity in any decision influenced by Eros!
You never feel threatened when there is a mutual attraction at work. And this certainly was a case of mutual attraction. A man that fulfills the ideals that the gender-bending East Village created so many years ago -– a man who falls into equal partnership as part of his nature.
Stepping into his lair was like entering various parts of his brain. He had a chain saw on the floor before the window! Various occult symbols were interspersed with various media and technology. His art making was imbedded in his lifestyle and he made art for living. But what was most impressive was a single remote controlling his lighting, music and media viewed through two video screens. "Other people have their place centrally wired, but I did it on my own!" As he shows you his paintings, his emaciated cat screams for his attention. “She is dying,” he says, stroking her as she wails. “She has been my companion for 13 years. It is very traumatic for me that she is dying.”
Weren’t those Persephone’s famous last words before being swallowed by the Earth and falling into Pluto’s clammy grasp? Or was it simply a declaration of innocence?
But T_______ is not nearly so threatening as all that! He had that quality of applied charm that knew just where to focus in order to win a woman and he could shift on a heartbeat. Her first impression of him was -- oh elegant in his custom made camel double-breasted jacket. And he occasionally shifts to a persona of the crazed genius.
Now, you would think that being so nubile and innocent, qualities not expected in an art critic, would leave you vulnerable. Yet Persephone’s ability to see in the dark were just what was needed to identify the new millennial art forms. And here this talent came in handy for other reasons!
Little did you know that going to his studio meant spending the night on his bachelor leather divan. How could you NOT open yourself to him when the magic appeared as soon as you entered his apartment? A mirror with antlers! The message was all too clear. He was engaged in the mythos of the dying god, to be reborn with the light at the Winter Solstice. But as you took control of the situation and instructed him to lie down for a chakra balancing, your own erotic feelings removed you from your familiar roles -- reporter, critic, healer. This is a fiery inferno you are standing on -- barefoot!!
"I'm a survivor," he said.
Ahhh the perfect mirror, at last. "Me too!"
With this mutual affirmation, you descended into the myth together as if mutually aware of the pleasures and pains that would arise from this spontaneous union. You already were apprehensive about his lifestyle, hanging out with the leftover vampires of Andy Warhol. “I was Jesuit trained,” he reassured you. “And now I am exploring the irrational side of things.”
By the time you were frolicking naked on black leather, Persephone was crying out for penetration: “I want to feel you inside me!” What a surprise to hear your usual line coming back from him: “I prefer to get to know you a little better first.” And then, he was as good as his word; you talked most of the night. Every time you rose to detach, he pulled you down to taste his seed as if clinging onto a raft in the chaotic sea which summed up your positive/negative force of attraction. “You are living out a myth,” you tell him, adding: “I am too. What we have in common is that our art and lives are completely transparent.”
With his Gemini Moon, his emotions are like quicksilver gliding through the range of male archetypes – from lover, to brother, to friend. No wonder the gossips love him!
“It was one of the most amazing nights I have ever spent with a man!” you were to tell him the next time you appeared in his studio for your first official date. “Good,” he replied.
When the sun rose that first morning and shone on the terrible red spot (the spilling of the seed?) on your exquisite antique silk chartreuse dress, he provided you with a detailed analysis of the weave and an operation to save the dress (the work is in the lace) if the stain refused to come out.
A woman with a high voice now outside the window: “This is very odd!”
You saw clearly the trajectory: T______ was going to have to die in order to be born again. This made you fascinated with your appointed role – mother, midwife, Beloved? The duty of Persephone is guiding the souls of the dead to and from the Underworld. This also applies to ego death. The Queen of the Underworld giving her blessing to the killed-off ego of the 20th century artistic genius in order to gently guide them across the River Styx to a 21st century renewal. How these downtown artists struggled to hold on to an outdated myth! You were always incredulous about how little they know about healing, the chakra system, or nutrition for that matter! Didn’t they realize that they must purify themselves in order to be a channel for a new archetype?? But cleanliness does not suit the image of the creator.
The lead, or shadow, is the prima materia of the alchemical experiment. The passage through fire is how lead is transformed into gold, the quality of the King. And it seems to you that every male artist you encounter in the renegade East Village is engaged in a hand to hand combat to be King!
Isn't this why they so actively seek you, Persephone? You are Underword Queen and they are enacting a pre-classical myth in seeking that you annoint them King!
T_____ invented an ingenious blackboard form, like this blog-novel, in which he could dispell the shadow through an unfolding personal narrative through the universal symbol. "We have something in common," you tell him. "Our art and lives are united -- and completely transparent. We cannot hide anything from the public."
He keeps asking you if he should take all the gossip items off his website. “I have never seen it before,” you tell him. "The art world disdains the world of celebrity." You parrot Valery Gallery’s adamant condemnation of celebrity art. “Celebrity and art have nothing to do with one another." What you don't bother to add is Valery's warning that a forray into celebrity will ruin a reputation in the art world.
He seemed to have two personalities. The serious artist and the Ladies' Man about town obsessed with having his name in the columns. "So, I am complex," he replies when you point this out. You feel he is tempting his fate. “I don’t want to lose you,” you tell him once while lying in his embrace. “You get caught up in that PAGE SIX projection and then you are gone.”
The root of the tension between you is familar - the critic vs. the artist who is hungry for reviews. He dispells this tension by hurling you with accusations of "wanting to get on PAGE SIX" which you swat away as a projection. When he is just plain bitter he says: "You aren't PAGE SIX material." You thank him for the complement. He retaliates by accusing you of being a fake.
When you try to discuss the role of celebrity journalism in undermining your profession (celebrity rags pay millions of dollars for photos and Tribune cannot afford to give me 200 bucks for a review?) Dripping with self-satisfaction, he tells you that PAGE SIX presents him as a Ladies’ Man. “They have always treated me good,” he says as he sits back against his leather divan. His smile turns into slight grimace when you snake through his smugness: “they have to build you up before they can tear you down.”
You are so separated by our belief systems, that he has no idea that he paid you a complement when he told you, in a voice heavy with disdain, that Jones and himself could not define you: WHO ARE YOU?
They obviously never met Persephone in the flesh. Because that is who you were, heading to the Underground to shine your light in the darkness, to find the worthy artists and bring them midtown to the LAB. Proving once and for all that there is a midpoint between the opposites!
He attacks you for violating your professional attachment through your appearance in his bed. On the other hand, he berates you for not writing about his art. Through the futility of this armed struggle you come to a realization that liberates you. As a female critic who is single swimming in a sea of sharks, no matter what you do you will be attacked. So you decide to do exactly what you want.
Armed with this new perspective, you no longer believe that Jones, in his Diogenes guise, sent T_____ to you as a gift ((DIDN”T YOU USE YOUR MAGIC TO OPEN HIS HEART THAT DAY HE SHOWED YOU HIS ART COLLECTION?) You now embrace the possibility that Jones had sent a targeted missile aimed at your heart. He wanted to see what you are made of, or perhaps he did it for his own amusement. But the intent doesn't matter; all that matters is the attitude of the alchemist who must invite in Hermes, the patron of Alchemy, in order to embark on the Great Work.
And anyway, danger is imperative. Persephone was continually faced with the possibility of her own demise! Oh, the energy was simply too dark for your sensitive system. Not as dark as Jones believes the energy to be around him, which of course is a projection of the darkness in his soul. Every time you end up in a taxi with him there he is mumbling about the gang wars. "Whoa, we were nearly done in that time," he would say as he gave you a nudge. "Did you see that guy pounding on me?"
So you appeal to Darryl Tookes, who is releasing his new CD, Journey to the Hieros Gamos, for a New Male perspective. "Can you live in this celebrity gossip world and still consciously embrace the hieros gamos?" He doesn’t hesitate before answering: You can’t worship at both altars: PAGE SIX and the Hieros Gamos.
You stew over this for a moment: “But that is pitting the opposites against one another! The hieros gamos is about reconciling the opposites! That is a paradox.”
"Yes, it is a paradox," he replies.
After you think about it for a few days, you are thrilled. Every leap into a new paradigm requires surmounting a paradox (with Andy Warhol it was using mechanical means to create original art reflecting everyday existence) and you realize now that this last journey to the Underworld threw you right into the paradox! Faced with the duality of T_____, you were forced to hold the tension of the opposites; otherwise you would spend all your time together fighting. So, T_____ was both catalyst and contrast for you to define yourself in terms of a new archetype.
T____ is irritable because he isn’t eating right. Paying a ridiculous rent in the upper scale art colony projecting an ironic communist image leaves him with no money to eat. So, you go to the Green Market in Union Square and purchases bags and bags of fresh organic vegetables and bring them to his apartment. You instruct him how to detoxify with Flax Seeds.
He is touched. “No one has ever done this for me before!” Yeah, you noticed collectors enjoying luring artists off their paths with resplendent images of a sale and impending fame over cocktails. They don't want to nourish the artist. Why would they: it is sport for this money guys to watch the starving artist self-destruct.
“I thought the least I could do for you is feed you,” you say, taking on the role of Demeter as you secretly think how fortunate it is that you return to the Underground with no money in your bank account. If you did have funds, Pluto would siphon them all to feed a voracious appetite.
It was starting to unfold like a dramatic enactment of Shrondinger’s Cat. Was the cat alive or dead? It had to be one or the other; it couldn’t be both. Meaning is he ready to a transformation, like the Scorpio actor who shared his birthday and accompanied you on a path of magical discovery before you pulled out to write WOLF IN A BOTTLE (YOU SMILE WHEN YOU THINK ABOUT HOW YOU WERE SITTING OUTSIDE AT A LARCHMONT CAFÉ WITH THE MANUSCRIPT ON THE TABLE BEFORE YOU AND THE SCORPIO WALKED RIGHT UP TO YOU AND ASKED WHAT YOU WERE DOING)
So, it seems that no matter how far you go, you have to return from whence you came.
And this is what happens with T______. You make a late date for the Pink Pony on the hip and happen' Ludlow Street. He is late even though he lives close by and by the time he gets there the café is about to close. He suggests you go to the Mexican food place around the corner. After you eat, he accompanies you back to the East Village.
It is about 3:30 AM when you arrive at 7A and you tell him that you are going to hang out there and write until sunrise. The truth is that you don’t have enough money for a cab to take you to Avenue D and you are prudent in not walking alone so late. “I’ll feel guilty if I leave you here," he says and accompanies you inside.
And it happens. Just like in the Epilogue to Champagne Tango inked on the red paper taped on the windows of the Lab. A tale that began…oh what the hell, you can’t remember anymore what really happened and what came from your imagination.
You give him the essay you wrote, the one revealing the myth that rules him, and you murmur something about its value being a million bucks. He explodes. You are confronted, not with the man but the Wolf in the Bottle. He berates you for trying shake him down, his exact words, for money. An accusation that is laughable because he didn’t have any money! It is really ugly and you turn your back on him but he follows you, screaming all the way: “Trying to shake me down for money, are you!” You walk on the edge of Thompkins Square Park and his yelling follows you as you shiver all the way to Avenue D. You don’t know what is more menacing – him or the muggers hiding in the shadows. Even as you are totally absorbed in this whirlwind, there is a detached part of you that knows this is where the alchemical experiment goes out of control, threatening ruin for you both.
That should have ended the relationship but you give him another chance. You know you must because he has threatened, numerous times, to ruin your reputation. It is this underlying menace which gives the relationship a nightmarish, feverish quality. This is precisely where the alchemical experiment goes out of control and everything you have struggled for ends up in ruin.
Transformation is the only way out. You ask him on a date. He picks Forbidden City, arriving on his skateboard. You laugh when you saw that it was decorated with a Goddess on one side and Phoenix on the other! “And you say you are not a goddess worshipper!” You tell him that you want to do a show about the tension between celebrity and art. He says he will provide you with a life size cut out of Baird Jones.
Ironically, being with him in public that night makes you aware of how very attracted to him that you are. And this is the danger, the cycle of attraction and repulsion that maintains you in a pattern. But it has been over twenty years and you have learned something from your time in the Underworld. You have learned how to cleanly remove yourself from any liasion.
His cat -- Shrondinger's Cat -- alive or dead? You pack your bags in prepaation to leave the East Village. You meditate on the Surrender. You know you must go to him prepared to die; otherwise the SURRENDER would not be authentic. You appear at his door, fully prepared for the unexpected. Is the cat alive or dead? You won't know until he lets you in. You hear the wail. The cat is still alive. He is in his bathrobe and livid because you are interruptinghis call to -- what else but PAGE SIX! You stand silently holding the energy. He says he is in pain and asks you for a massage. You give him a massage and see how he is broken out from the toxics. "Your heart is closed." Refusing his offer of seed, you tell him that you need to talk – seriously. His hand is frozen in the air. “About what?” You tell him that you want to have a relationship with him. His look is quizzical. “I thought you didn’t want a relationship.” You tell him that you changed your mind. You kiss him on the forehead and tell him to think about it.
He doesn’t take your calls the next day, or the next, or the next.
In fact, you don’t hear from him again.
The Great Work is intact. You managed to save your reputation along with the FLAME. You have pulled your stuff out of the East Village but you can’t leave the Underground. The journey is not complete without FIRE, the biggest test of all.
So, something was to draw you back there. It was only September and not yet Persephone’s time to rise….