On Basquiat, the Black Body, and a Strange Sensation in My Neck


Best of 2017

We’re away until January 3, but we’re reposting some of our favorite pieces from 2017. Enjoy your holiday!

Jean-Michel Basquiat, Back of the Neck, 1983, silkscreen with hand painting.


While visiting Los Angeles a couple of years ago, I strained my back. My mother gave me the name of her former chiropractor. As I stood before him, I listed my symptoms, and in one quick gesture he ripped my pants down, without warning, just below the cheek. He hadn’t really looked at me while I spoke, so I wasn’t sure how to make sense of the way he’d stripped me. It was like he was going to spank or fuck me. He used a TENS machine to electrostimulate my muscles and I left with almost no back pain. A bit ambitious, I walked the several miles back to my hotel. It’s only now that I wonder what else might have prompted that need to wander so far by myself.