"Fair Use Law"... you can excerpt pieces for use in review. Well, I tend to think these following excerpts go beyond it, but oh well. Consider these obstensibly reviews of those two of the three cynically marketed books -some of the worst novels I've ever seen. OK, here goes. Excerpt first...

For a number of years I have been receiving useful letters signed "Professor Allahbastard." Recently, I received the following- I have not checked the quotes, but trust the professor to be pretty accurate:

Picasso by Hans Jaffe: "A little before the War, during the summer months of 1939, Picasso painted a work at Antibes... Night Fishing at Antibes (sometimes known as Fishermen at Antibes, dominated by a crual and violent scene in the centre of the composition: fishermen harpooning and impaling creatures in the dark water by the light of great yellow lights that seem almost to be artificial suns. The scene is made more dire and sinister by what Picasso has shown in the rest of the painting: to the right there are two children holding bicycles who watch dispassionately what is happening (one of them is eating an ice-cream), with the sleepy profile of the towers and houses of Antibes standing out against the sky in the background. The colours- green, violet and poisonous yellow, set against an almost black background- provide the key to the state of mind which emanates from the painting, which is a night-piece not only in its subject but in its expression more especially of the very darkest tones of its time. It marks an abondonment of the period of light and clarity and foreshadows the dark cruelty of a murderous age..."

The World of Picasso by Lael Wertenbaker: "In the summer of 1939 Picasso painted Night Fishing at Antibes, a joyous bit of nonsense... He and Dora had taken an apartment for the season at the little seaside resort, and despite the presence of newly mobilized soldiers in place of tourists, they were having a wonderful time. In the evening, they would walk along the haborfront, munch double ice-cream cones, and watch the fishermen spearing their catch by the light of acetylene lamps. Picasso's translation of this scene is a triumph of genre in Cubist guise. Two fatuous girls on a jetty, one eating an ice cream cone and balancing a bicycle at her side, goggle at two fishermen leaning out of a boat, intent on luring up the creatures of the deep. A spiral moon, in the shape of a spun sugar cake, hangs in the sky, and the hills and castle turrets of the town rise in the background. The lighthearted mood that produced Night Fishing did not survive the drying of its paint. On September 1, just after Picasso finished the canvas, Hitler's armies invaded Poland.

Picasso and His Art by Denis Thomas: "Night Fish at Antibes is an improvisation on the theme of night fishing in the harbour of Antibes, the men leaning over the sides of their boat to spear fish attracted by the glow of the kerosense lamp in the prow, watched by two girls on the harbour wall. The whole is suffused with a luminous submarine light which gives it a dreamlike intensity."


Professor Allahbastard informs me that according to another critic, "the 'two girls', the 'two fatuous girls.' the 'two children' are actually Dora Maar, Picasso's mistress, and Mrs. Andre Breton ..."

And finally, he quotes Denis Thomas again: "One scholar who sought Picasso's assent to his interpretation of the horse in Guernica as standing for Spanish nationalism, and the bull as standing for the Spanish people, who shortly answered. "This bull," said Picasso, "is a bull, and this horse is a horse.

I'm assuming that the professor sends me these quotes not in order that I may understand their import, but to show me that he does. As a student of my work, he must know that the question of interest to me would be: what sort of ice-cream cones were available in Antibes in 1939, and how do they compare to the product available today? On the strictly Art Historical side, I'd be grateful to know whether Picasso had a favourite flavor, given that a selection was offered- or did he play the field?

I'll add that looking at Night FIshing at Antibes has always made me feel energized and happy. The same has always been true of Guernica- which was in the Museum of Modern Art for so many years- even after I found out what it was supposed to mean.

David Nyvall, the sculptor to whom I was apprenticed for three year as a soldierhad visited Picasso at the close of the war. He told me that Picasso was cordial, invited him to stay to lunch, and flattered him by treating him as a fellow artist and an equal.

But Nyvall wasn't much like Picasso in his work, manner, or outlook. The closest I ever came to meeting someone more or less of the Picasso typoe in person was my relationship with Louis Schanker, who taught printmaking at St. Leon's College when I was a studnet there. Louis was big, tanned, expansive, and rich. He drove to work sometimes in a Rolls Royce. He always wore one of those blue chambray work shirts, and smoked cheap black Italian Parodi cigars. Wnlike the little pipsqueak art teachers with Master's degrees who proliferate today, Louis was not given to persiflage. You could sit with Louis for an hour, looking at samples of your own work- and Louis might only speak once or twice- but what he said would be right on the money.

And his manner of expression was direct, simply, monosymballic. He didn't go in for jargon or conceptual flights of fancy. Often he'd pass his hands over the picture, pointing things out:

"See, kid... this part here... this is nice... but don'tcha think it would work better if it came down here... like so?" OR, "What if there was a little more yellow in this red here?" Things Louis might say. Actually he never said them to me. He only ever said one thing to me- once or twice a week: "Do more work, kid," and rarely, "That's nice. DO more."

It was all I needed.

So, the year after I graduated, when I read in the paper that Louis was having a show- of sculpture yet- I'd never seen any of his sculpture- I was up to the gallery like a shot.

And who should be there, giving an interview to a reporter for an art magazine, but Louis himself!

"See lady... I was sitting in the house in Connecticut, watching the logs in the fire... and as the fire consumed the logs, I began thinking that- while the fire was sonsuming the wood- deconstructing it, if you will- I was witnessing an inverse of the process by which the wood had grown. This suggested certain essential forms, which I could bring forth by carving partially burned logs. And always, I strive toward the quintessential form, the seed, or nut. At the heart of most of the sculptures is the suggestion of the germinal element. I discussed this with my friend, Robert Motherwell, and he said..."

Louis noticed me listening open-mouthed. I was experiencing the same sort of shock I'd feel when my father would mysteriously break out of Polish/Pigin and speak grammatical English for a sentence or two.

Louis leaned toward me and whispered, "You should always make up some bullshit to tell them."

In later years, when my own talents had matured a little, I would be asked by certain artists to make up titles for their paintings. I like to htink that my application of certain of the principles taught me by Louis Schanker has helped ensure that good work would not be overlooked by those whose duty it is to guide us and explain to us.

The practice of nailing down the concept before looking at the work of art is borrowed from the movie and TV businesses. These industries, oriented toward making a "product," reasonably require that the nature and application of the product be simply explained before much money is spent. It's axiomatic that no movie gets made, for example, if it can't be "pitched" or outlined, in 90 seconds. If anyone wants to put forth a painting, or a bunch of paintings- or a book- it's best to have the precis similar to the listings in TV Guide. This, among other things, eliminates confusion and potential embarrassment among the critics and reviewers, and tells the booksellers where to put it.

Picasso didn't have to worry. He could call a picture Night Fishing at Antibes or nothing at all, and it would be taken seriously, very seriously and too seriously automatically. Lesser beings who have lived on into the present day will do better to heed Louis's adive.

And so, I welcome the reader to this book: A variegated plimpsest of literary delicatessen, a joyous gallimaufry of unforgettable characters, compelling plot, meaningful image, and trenchant exposition of things as they really are. It is a book that had to be written; and I for one plan to read it.


ooookay. The rest of the book stinks. Um. The Painting in question. Look at the purty shapes and colours!! (NO, I'm kidding.)


AND, warning about this next one: it's just a little cynical.

Some of it comes back to me. The last thing I remember clearly was a dinner party at the house of this rich guy- a publisher, I think it may have been. Some big estate in Westchester County. I had to take a train and then was met at the station by the publisher's chauffeur. At the house there were a lot of people I didn't know. I had the feeling everybody was looking at me, watching me at the dinner table.

After that it's mostly a blur. For a long time I remembered nothing. It was completely by chance that Bob Winston, a friend of mine, in town for a couple of days on a buying trip for a frozen beef concern in Alaska, recognized me stumbling around lower Manhattan. I'd been missing for weeks. Bob somehow knew it was me, though I was caked with dirt and had lost seventy pounds. I didn't know him, and when he took me to my home, I didn't recognize my wife. I was put in the Psychiatric Ward at St. Francis Hospital in Jersey City for eight weeks, during which time my physical health improved, and my confusion diminished slightly.

When I was released, I still wasn't sure of my own name half the time. I spent more weeks at home, sitting in the laundry room tearing copies of The New York Times into strips, and faschioning huge nests into which I would crawl, and make whimpering sounds.

My mother, a wealthy widow living in California, cashed in some stocks and arranged for me to be brought to Buenos Aires to the private clinic of Dr. Ernesto Ryan. Here, an extensive assessment of my condition was undertaken. Dr. Ryan, a charming man who speaks to me in Spanish with an Irish lilt, supervised my first days personally. Everything was done to make me comfortable. I was supplied with fresh airmail editions of The New York Times to facilitate the making of my nest.

At the time of my arrival, I was in very poor shape. I tended to go rigid for days at a time. Periodically, I would ramble incessantly about Italian ices- but when these were brought to me, I would shriek with horror and dive for my nest of shredded newspaper. In calm moments, I would stare vacantly, hum snatches of Schubert lieder, and drool. With expert care, daily sessions with a therapist and Dr. Ryan's amazing all-beef diet, I have been improving steadily, to the extent that I have even been given a typewriter and allowed to work in my room for four hours a day- two hours in the morning and two hours in the afternoon before my empanada break. I remember that I earned my living as a writer before this incident.

The incident. That part is still pretty murky. There was the dinner party, by the end of which I was hallucinating heavily. Clearly, some sort of drug had been introduced into my food, and I had cusomarily eaten more than my fair share.

In the sixties I had shunned the psychedelic drugs so popular at the time, and had no firsthand knowledge of LSD trips and the like- however, my experiences at the party were not unlike those described by my acid-dropping friends. The othere guests, most of them, seemed to have vanished, and the remaining people- three of them- appeared to have suited up in surgical greens.

Then I have some vague recollection of being transported on a rolling stretcher. I may have been taken in an ambulance- maybe I remained in the house of the publisher. I do recall being rolled aboard an elevator.

Now my recall becomes even more fragmented and jumpy. I do not wish to horrify or upset the reader, nor to put undue strain on my own nervous system, which is still fragile and in a state of recovery, so I will not attempt to characterize the distortions of reality and caprices of the mind that afflicted me at this time. Save this: An African Crested Crane, named Egon, appeared at my bedside more than once, and conversed with me.

I liked Egon, and looked forward to his visits. Clearly he was in league with my captors- I understood that I was being held captive- and was able to visit me only with their knowledge and permission. Still, he was amusing and friendly, had an endless store of funny anecdotes and, with his beak, would inject me with a drug similar to morphine, which had the effect of steadying my nerves. Egon was, I somehow know, a retired Army Psychiatrist named Lewis, and not an African Crested Crane at all- but I only remember him in that form.

The others who moved fuzzily in and out of my conciousness during the period were mostly in medical garb. I know I was anesthetized a number of times, and operations were performed without my consent. Evidence of one of these is a pair of gold-plated RCA jacks, identical to those on the back of your stereo, which have been implanted in my left temple. X-rays made here at Dr. Ryan's clinic clearly show a network of near-microscopic wires which have been intricately woven into some of the major neural centers- but to what purpose, and what sort of device was meant to be attached to those jacks, Dr. Ryan was at a loss to explain.

That is practically the sum of my conscious recollection of the period preceding my discovery of the Great Jones Street in New York, and subsequent transportation to Buenos Aires.

But it is not all that is known. With my permission a microscope was placed in my room, and my every moment was monitored and taped. From my first night in Dr. Ryan's clinic, it was discovered that I spoke extensively in my sleep. Much of what I said was gibberish, but certain significant words and phrases tended to be repeated, and snatches of what appeared to be remembered conversations, with Egon and others, could be assembled into a fabric which almost made sense.

Every few days, Dr. Ryan and I would listen to edited versions of my nocturnal speeches, and those versions would be added to further tapings, similarly condensed, until a rough scenario began to emerge.

From my various mumblings, strangled cries, and occasional lucid speeches Dr. Ernesto Ryan and I pieced together the story of a crime so diabolical that I wonder whether the reader will credit it. All the details of my recent indisposition- or to be blunt, madness- would argue against such an account being anything but one more paranoid delusion. That, of course, is the fiendish cleverness of the scheme.

I can only present the facts, believe them if the reader will. My captors, of course, had lured me to the dinner party for the sole purpose of drugging and abducting me. The other dinner guests were all accomplices.

Once I was in their power, the fiends had RCA jacks surgically implanted, and then connected me to some unheard-of computer capable of extracting and interpreting creative thoughts from my very brain.

By means of drugs, insinuations, and suggestions, those monsters may have caused me to helplessly divulge who knows what plots, outlines, schema, novellas,skits, essays, jokes, sermons, screenplays, double-crostics, limericks, puns, romances, epics, lampoons, commentaries, histories, encomia and festshrifts. Also allegories, bildungngsromans, apothegms, and analects. Plus comics, thrillers, dime novels and penny-dreadfuls.

Once they had drained me of a lifetime's output of literary work, they dumped me on the streets of Manhattan to wander, three quarters crazy, perhaps to starve and die. Then, these monsters would have their computer execute the various literary works or perhaps farm them out ot other writers who'd fallen under their evil power.

Of course, with my shattered memory I have no way of knowing, for example, what contracts I may have signed with honest publishers- so it would be a simple matter for the kidnappers to create literary contracts which, without a doubt, I haven't signed.

Dr. Ryan, anxious for me to begin earning my living again, has advised me simply to honor whatever contracts I may be presented with, and not worry overmuch how they came about.

So, in the present case, this volume- which appears to be based on some outlines or notes written by me, although I have no recollection of ever doing such a thing- requires me that I write some introductory material.

I can't say as a matter of certainty that the scheme for this book was sucked out of my agonized brain by villianous high-tech literary pirates. Maybe it was, maybe it wasn't. Mabe during my days of stumbling around the streets of New York subsisting on fortified wine, I actually did write something and sign papers. THere's no way of knowing. I looked over the manuscript, and didn't recognize anything in it.


The rest of the book stinks. But it's out of print and more or less all used book stores would refuse to take it, so don't worry: you'll never run into it.

I'd be interested in seeing that other P-Water afterward, obviously, but oh well.

go back to the Pinky, Baby! . 1