Friday, October 20, 2006

The highway scribe will run installations from his novela, "The Liquid Life" every weekend until it runs out.


Trevor, a frivolous child of wealth, the artistically sympathetic one, took me to the home of Cortez, a Cuban craftsman experimenting in the elegant science of flinging paint from a tube over long distances.

The unruly painter served rice and black beans and expounded on his theories on top of theories, when midway through the meal a curly-haired girl, with a brow bearing more adventures than her otherwise softness suggested, walked in, accompanied by a rough talking tough.

By the look of a tattoo on his bicep, he was a member of the notorious Li’l Criminals gang from over by Pico-Union.

Cortez was distressed at the interruption in his polemic and bypassed the formality of introductions, motioning the new two to sit and become listeners.

She shrugged him understandingly. She seemed the kind stocked with manners used only when most to her advantage: with parents or lovers, amongst the patrons of modern art galleries or at night with her many, many sugar daddies.

When Cortez had to come up for air she shimmied her way in edgewise. “I brought some Maria.”

Lush romantics were draped over the final word, fluttered, seasoned with just the right rolling Spanish “rrrr.” There were eight at the table. She rolled six joints and lit them all at once, unschooled in the crucial field of patience.

Cortez went on again about plans for a giant penis exhibition in Pershing Square, plans to blowup the statue of that pathetic instrument of gunboat diplomacy in a fabulous art demonstration, plans for flinging paints from tubes over still greater distances.

The stony girl handled the joints with ritual and generosity. Cortez forged, she steamed lightly and rolled her mind, dancing still with the temptations of the forward lunge, distasteful at the Cuban’s ownself ramblings.

A small essay of his on the exquisite pain available through the mistreatment of one’s own child, netted her briefly, but then it was just more of the same Cortez in elocution.

When he asked if I was getting bored, she looked at me without saying, “Now’s our chance!” but meaning it. So I assured him that I respected the fact his was a house of ideas, and that as such, I should hear what those ideas were. And with a simple teaspoon of malice I unveiled my lesser side to her. Now she’d want to know who I was. Who the one smiling over the multifarious forms of power was.

She locked me in with a chill on her tongue. “Be careful. They just killed a
journalist in Chile. Thirteen bullets to the back of the head. Said he was a communist.”

“Hey, how could you tell I was a journalist?”

“You’re all plagued with the same fears and mental shortcomings,” she delivered.

Cortez was never overturned at the conversations of others. They were a chance for him to get his breath. As soon as a pause of little span opened itself up, he would jump right in where he left off.

And on he went. On and on, mostly trying to impress a woman that was there with us. “In no way can the written world be considered, superior to the painted image,” he verbally trundled. “Wars are not fought over ideas, they are fought over a flag – the official painting of a nation.”

She shot him back, finally. “The sublime nature, the strength of an idea is measured by its ability to motivate masses of people to act. Marx moved millions to death with the power of his pen,” she closed him ambiguously. "What painter can say the same of his brush?”

“The value of art,” counterproclaimed the la habana man, “is not measured by way of the body count.”

“Oh yes it is.”

“No it’s not.”

“Yes it is.”

“No it’s not.”

She slapped the table with her hand firmly like a junior justice looking for her lollipop. She sighed the deep sigh and arose, finger in the air, to apprise Cortez of the deep spiritual slumber into which he had led her. Yelling over the shoulder, as she left, gang-man in tow, that he was failing miserably with his art because he was trying to scandalize in an age when that was no longer possible.

“Breton said that forty years ago,” she scalded. “You’d know it if you read more and talked less, but alas dear Cortez, you’re just another unemployable product of the Ivy League,” and shut the door behind her.

Cortez shrugged her door-slamming off; well-adjusted to that girl’s world of spectacle. He’d tried hard and succeeded in understanding.

“By the way,” he gently stroked, “that’s my friend Elendele. A hopeful girl, a sadful girl who is full of herself and her dreams.”

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