David Schorr’s exhibition “Flying Carpets” opens January 5 at Ryan Lee Gallery, where his work is on display through February 18. The series draws inspiration from a childhood pastime of his: playing with toy trucks and race cars on the Persian rugs at his grandmother’s house.
We’re away until January 3, but we’re reposting some of our favorite pieces from 2016. Enjoy your holiday!
In Brushes with Greatness, Naomi Fry writes about her relatively marginal encounters with celebrities.
In Legs McNeil and Gillian McCain’s oral history of punk, Please Kill Me, the ’70s LA groupie Sable Starr recounts the excitement she felt the first time she slept with David Bowie:
Upstairs at the Rainbow they have just like one table. Me and David were sitting there, with a couple of other people. And to have all your friends look up and see you—that was cool. That was really cool … Back in the hotel we were sitting around. I had to go to the bathroom, and David came in and he had a cigarette in his hand and a glass of wine. And he started kissing me—and I couldn’t believe it was happening to me, because there had been Roxy Music and J. Geils, but David Bowie was the first heavy. So we went to the bedroom and fucked for hours, and he was great … I became very famous and popular after that because it was established that I was cool. I had been accepted by a real rock star.
I’ve always loved this description because its sexiness sits very comfortably alongside its bluntness toward power grubbing. It’s really the perfect teenage fantasy: you’re having what appears to be very enjoyable sex with an extremely attractive person while simultaneously rising in the eyes of your peers thanks to the immutable laws of starfuckery. An inextricable part of sleeping with famous people is the encounter’s visibility to others, and the higher the celebrity’s rank on the fame totem pole, the better. It’s only science.
The ruse that gave rise to the spiritualist movement.
Edward White’s The Lives of Others is a monthly series about unusual, largely forgotten figures from history.
On July 13, 1930, Arthur Conan Doyle made an appearance at London’s Royal Albert Hall in the middle of his own memorial service, six days after his death. Nobody saw him, but the spirit medium Estelle Roberts assured those present that Doyle had kept his deathbed promise: he’d returned to deliver proof that talking to the dead really is possible. In life the creator of the arch logician Sherlock Holmes had been as suggestible as those ten thousand paying guests in South Kensington: he was the world’s best-known proponent of spiritualism—the discipline of talking to the dead—and an adherent of just about any wad of mumbo-jumbo going. Doyle believed not only in clairvoyance, but telepathy, telekinesis, and, quite literally, fairies at the bottom of the garden.
Throughout the 1910s and ’20s Doyle’s books, articles, and talks on these subjects helped to furnish spiritualism with mainstream credibility. But the roots of the movement were planted decades earlier in a tiny one-bedroom cottage in the hamlet of Hydesville, New York, the family home of Margaret and John Fox and their daughters Maggie, fourteen, and Kate, eleven. Read More
Revisited is a series in which writers look back on a work of art they first encountered long ago. Here, Jen George revisits Balthus’s painting Thérèse Dreaming.
In Balthus’s painting Thérèse Dreaming, a young girl sits, face turned to profile, arms up, elbows out, hands rested on her head, legs a little open, underwear visible—a sort of clothed, daydreaming, preteen odalisque. She is at home in her youth. She has the countenance of someone who knows other things are coming, eventually. Maybe she knows what, though she probably doesn’t. Not like she needs to—experience comes from being alone in the world, and with time. When asked about the provocative poses of preadolescent girls in his work, Balthus said, “It is how they (young girls) sit.”
When I first saw Thérèse Dreaming, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, I stopped to sit. Maybe I’d been tired. I had been traveling cross-country with a counterfeit sixty-day Greyhound Ameripass—it allowed for unlimited bus travel within the U.S—and I had been smoking heavily and maybe not sleeping at all. I couldn’t stay all day in the Brooklyn apartment where I’d been sleeping, so most days I went to the Met, looking at art, spacing out, reading, sometimes staring at blank walls. It was inviting, the room and the painting. Thérèse’s skirt was like mine. My hair was longer. I liked her shoes. I liked that she was both in this room and not; she was dreaming, but I couldn’t see where she’d gone. Read More
Seeking out spirits in one of New York’s spookiest bars.
You’d think it’d be relatively easy to pin down a ghost in this town, with all of its historic buildings and unsettled scores. Most of the haunts frequented by the city’s cognoscenti are said to have an apparition or two knocking around, if you believe in that sort of thing. There’s the shadowy figure that paces the shore of Rockaway Beach. A young girl’s screams are sometimes heard coming from within McCarren Pool. And from the stories told about the Brooklyn Bridge, you’d think its walkway would be incandescent with floating orbs and strange lights.
After hearing that a glamorous specter often manifests and smokes sullenly in a corner of the women’s restroom at the Astor Room in Queens, I drank far too much wine and drifted in and out of the bathroom stalls a few weekends ago, but to no avail. And returning home in the early hours that morning, I thought of the original owner of my apartment building, who hanged himself from the front-door frame in 1890. He, too, has yet to materialize.
So I stopped by the perennially spooky KGB Bar in the East Village after work one night last week to see if Dan Christian, the longtime bar manager, might act as my spirit guide. I’d always heard that the bar was very haunted. Read More
I’m standing inside the refrigerator door, playing three-card monte with the ketchup, the mustard, and one of those midget jars of tartar sauce. It’s an unoriginal con among seven-year-olds—pretending to rummage the fridge in order to eavesdrop—but it works, right up until the cold gets to be too much to bear.
In a last ditch effort to buy myself more time, I try to warm up by bouncing on the balls of my feet, leaving my hands free to continue the condiment-shuffle, but eventually I have no choice: I break down and start using my goose-bumped arms to rub my goose-bumped legs, even though I know that’ll be the tip-off. Read More