portrait of the artist in isolation


Sunday, 4 October 2020

A baby black bear digging through the trash behind the Phoenecian Diner received a lot of attention. Nobody was mauled.

Saturday, 3 October 2020

I don't want to have to slit your throat if we get in an accident and Jonny dies, Colin had said when we were negotiating who would drive the rental car upstate today. He didn't have to slit my throat.

Tuesday, 29 September 2020

Robocall telemarketers have found my number again. I used to take the time to fuck with them, keeping the scammer on the line as long as possible, but, for whatever reason, my heart isn't in it any more.

Saturday, 26 September 2020

I took more mushrooms today, edging up against a full-on trip. Turns out , I still don't really like being high.

Friday, 25 September 2020

Sean's dissertation defence, though I have yet to read the actual text, introduced me to the word dehiscience.

Wednesday, 23 September 2020

I finally used the beets from Brian and Helena to make a borsch. Despite what Eliza, a Pole, says, I prefer a hearty ukranian style borsch. Give me chunks or go home, I say. Colin came by late to try it with me. Kailin stayed home with Jonny.

Sunday, 20 September 2020

Everyone suggested putting on some so-called good tunes while on mushrooms, so I queued up an eclectic mix and locked the door. I didn't take enough to have anything like an ego trip, but did end up weeping a bit when Chelsea Hotel No. 2 came on and spent two hours trying to sing and play it.

Thursday, 17 September 2020

The roasted tomato salsa I made was better than I expected it to be. I brought a pint to Colin and Kailin. There was a log of discussion about whether or not Kailin ought have any given the fact of how spicy it was and that she's still breastfeeding. In the end, she played it safe and had only a half-dip.

Monday, 14 September 2020

Brian dropped off a cabbage and an exorbitant amount of beets last week, a surfiet from his and Helena's CSA take. Helena being away, I invited him to another cappuccino on the roof with me this morning, a humble thanks for the food. He talked about the connection between the occult and architecture and a video project that he'd been working on before we both had to head back downstairs and start our workdays.

Sunday, 13 September 2020

I drove M. to the airport today and returned to Brooklyn to meet up with Eli, whom I'd not seen in some time. We had lunch and he gave me a container of mushrooms that he'd grown. I accepted them, but told him that I didn't enjoy LSD when I took it, so we'll see. He's been, like several of my friends, moving toward Shamanism and psychadelics in much the same way my sister has moved towards Christianity. I find myself wondering what these two movements are a symptom of. It may perhaps be time to reread William James' Varieties of Religious Experience.

Friday, 10 September 2020

I've been powdering my feet every day since mid July. A tremendous improvement.

Wednesday, 9 September 2020

M. and I found a pristine desolate swimming hole off of the Taconic. There were myriad well-camouflaged spiders snoozing on the rocks, which gave me the heebie-jeebies. I went in first, slowly. Damnded cold. M. jumped from a low precipice. Had it been hotter we might have stayed, but autumn was in the air and the sun was behind some clouds.

Monday, 7 September 2020

I drove up to Hudson with M. today. We're staying downtown in an old house that we found on AirBnB. Perusing the few open shops, hoping, in part, to find a gem of an Earl, we were accosted by a woman named Elizabeth. I like your shorts, she said to M. Where did you get them? She was moving to Germany, we learned, with her german engineer husband (though she didn't know German), explaining how they'd survived two years apart while he was away. She lived in Kinderhook and came to town to see what was what from time to time. I asked if she knew the Scibelli's and she said: Aaron? I think I went to school with her. Unfortunately the Aaron Scibelli from Kinderhook that I know is a man, so I suspect that Elizabeth was mistaken or insane.

Saturday, 5 September 2020

Strangely, since the start of quarantine, I've been painting a bit. Not simply more portaits for my Assistants piece – which, despite my best efforts, no one (least of all artists) accepts as anything but set of technically proficient likenesses – but painterly paintings. Today, for example, I worked on three separate canvases, skipping lunch in the process.

Friday, 4 September 2020

M. went away for the weekend with friends. We've been seeing each other a bit. At worst, a better goodbye, is how I put it.

Thursday, 3 September 2020

I called Joel to wish him happy birthday today. To my surprise, it being the middle of a workday, he answered. We talked, as one must with him, about abstract things. The notion of birthdays. How they don't matter in the grand scheme of things. Etc. True, I agreed, but that didn't stop me from calling and trying to express my appreciation of him, how lucky I am to have him as a brother. Odd, I thought, how hard it is to say such things, my voice having faltered on a rising lump in my throat. Fortunately, Joel didn't hear my voice crack, or at least pretended not to.

Saturday, 29 August 2020

Colin called from the hospital. In his excitement, he'd forgotten to pack his tobacco pouches. Could I, he wanted to know, grab them for him when I fed the cats and bring them down? He'd pay for an Uber. I preferred to use Via. Whatever, he said. Thinking it an amusing situation, I explained to Clement, the driver, when he showed up, that it was their first baby. His response, a noncommittal grunt, suggested that he didn't know English or didn't much care. Polite and pleasant enough, however, I tipped him two dollars. Colin gave me far too much money for the cost of the ride but insisted I take it. A lifesaver, he called me. Addiction's a bitch. When I booked the next Via, I was surprised to find I'd booked Clement again. When I got in his car, instead of the customary confirmation and curt hello, we laughed and laughed.

Friday, 28 August 2020

The second session of mandatory racial sensitivity training went well enough this afternoon. At least none of my colleagues dropped the n-word.

Wednesday, 26 August 2020

I rejuvenated the remains of a frozen sourdough rye in the oven for lunch today and ate it with hummus. Not a terribly nutritious lunch.

Wednesday, 26 August 2020

On my way to the subway, I saw Will, the hardware store clerk who installed my air-conditioner last month. He didn't recognize me, or, because he was with a customer, he didn't say hi. When he was in my apartment he saw my portrait of Najah and asked if I were a painter. I told him not really and made the joke that if he needed a portrait or something to let me know, we could work something out. He thought for a second before saying that he did have a photo of him and his daughter that he might like to have done and asked for my number. I gave it to him but secretly hoped he was just being polite since, thinking about the labor and materials involved, I suspected that A) he wouldn't be able to afford such a painting, or B) I'd earn about three dollars an hour or less on the thing.

Sunday, 23 August 2020

Colin texted at 6:53am to take a walk. I was on the toilet, so told him to give me a few minutes. We hadn't been out for a walk in over a week. Things at home were stressful for him what with him being in the thick of distribution negotiations for his latest film and Kailin fretting over the contractions she'd been having. Any day now, we think, he said. I brought up the topic of aspect ratios and at some point I realzed that I was out of breath from ranting and raving. I tried to shut up, but, that early in the morning, my mind is a revving engine.

Thursday, 20 August 2020

I went in to the office today to tend to a few things and was pleased to see, when I used the restroom, that they've replaced the faucets with touchless systems. Merv and Carlos rang my office intercom, at a certain point, to ask about a package that Hazel, the security guard, had for me. Hazel was on speakerphone, but I couldn't make out what she was saying, but Merv quickly deduced that it wasn't for me. It was for my colleagues on the fifth floor. A common mistake. With that squared away, we caught up a bit before returning to work. As the door hissed shut, it struck me that, of all the things that working remotely deprived me of, I miss shooting the breeze with Carlos and Merv the most.

Tuesday, 18 August 2020

M. returned. We made plans to have a coffee and take a walk. The song Mathilde by Jacques Brel kept running through my head leading up to it. Although, yes, I admit, it wasn't Brel's version, but rather Scott Walker's, so the song was actually in english, not French.

Saturday, 15 August 2020

Today was the last day of my first acting class. Whether or not I have a knack, I really can't say, but I did learn a lot. The scene I was in required me to be topless. Lucky for me I've been doing push-ups during quarantine.

Thursday, 13 August 2020

There is bird shit on my bedroom window. How on earth a bird managed to defecate (while flying!) at such a trajectory that it would hit a vertical pane of glass, I'm sure I don't know, but I find myself duly impressed.

Tuesday, 11 August 2020

I opened what I thought to be an under-ripe banana this morning only to discover it half-rotten inside. Because I couldn't make the smoothie I inteded to make with half of a banana, I opened a second. This one too was half-rotten. As I cut away the rotten flesh and tossed the good halves in my blender, I recalled something an old flame of mine had said at some point, that in twenty years bananas, as we know them, would be extinct. That was twenty years ago now. Was this, I thought, the beginning of the end at last?

Sunday, 9 August 2020

In the scene I performed for Scene Study class yesterday, my character was supposed to iron a shirt, but because I have never owned an iron nor ironing board, I substituted this action and de-linted the shirt with a roll of tape instead. The effect might have come off well had I known my lines better, but because I didn't, I ended up fussing with the lint gag too long, vamping for time as I dredged the lines from the back of my head. Naturally the teacher noticed. You have to be done with the shirt business by the time he says "You told me your parents were dead", he said.

Saturday, 8 August 2020

Jay butt-dialed me mid-week. I probably hadn't heard from him in over a year. He's still painting circles, although it sounds like he might be at the end of that cycle. Who knows. We talked about the police and coming up punk, which somehow seguéd into cranial-sacral work, deep massage, and my ineligibility for either thanks to pseudoaneurysms.

Wednesday, 5 August 2020

I've been wearing shorts. For decades I refused to wear them, having gotten used to pants as protection against pesticides when I fertilized lawns and against pedals when I rode bmx, two activities that I will likely never enjoy again. I must be getting old.

Monday, 3 August 2020

Dinner last night consisted of quinoi with caramelized fennel, roasted beets, mint, and goat cheese topped off with a fried egg. It was both satisfying and delicious. I felt proud of the ad-hoc concoction. As I ate, I streamed an episode of Parks and Recreation.

Wednesday, 29 July 2020

I woke before dawn today. The bananas I'd bought only two days before were already rotten.

Sunday, 26 July 2020

I shared a coffee on the roof with Helena and Brian this morning. They'd given me a bag of CSA beets and fennel that they didn't think they could possibly use before it went bad and I wanted to thank them with a couple of my signature cortados. I was glad of the company. I've known them for seven years now and we've only just recently become better acquainted. We sat on folding chairs in the shade of the stair enclosure until the shade disappeared.

Friday, 24 July 2020

The bug guy came yesterday. We talked cameras. He'd recently started an entertainment company with friends called You're Welcome Entertainment. Concerts and events and that sort of thing. Music videos too, I think he said.

Wednesday, 22 July 2020

They're repainting the hallway. Prison gray as Colin put it. The fumes remind me of my grandfather, my childhood. The builing managment hired the same painter they'd hired to re-plaster my ceiling the summer before, a dominican man with bright flashing eyes. We said hi in the hall, mutually amused by our unshared language. For some reason, he was compelled to ask if I lived alone. No girlfriend? No. Alone? Yes. The conversation could only go so far of course. In an effort to satisfy his curiosity, I showed him the Polaroid of M. and me that a stranger had taken when we were in Hudson. Mi amore, I said, making a vague gesture of departure. No more, I said, to which he said, Ah.