I went to first grade in Fort Worth with Lee Harvey Oswald. I went to second grade in Shreveport, where my dad had a gig in some Dixie greaser lounge, but we were moving up. In third grade, we lived in nifty North Dallas. Every Thursday, in social studies class, we drew the name of a country out of a hat and wrote a report about it. We made our own folders for each report. Then we would vote for the best cover. First shot, I drew Italy—and how can you fuck up Italy? I had grapes, columns, and a version of Trajan’s Market that foreshadowed the Fontainebleau in Miami Beach. My grapes foreshadowed late Sam Francis. They were especially praised, and I won. I got the Hershey bar that was the prize. Next time, I reached in and drew Bolivia. Right, Bolivia. I cut out a brown mountain and stuck it on a blue sky. My friend Cecily drew Egypt and she killed it. Perspectival pyramids with scaled triangles of ocher in different shades. These were major pyramids, but I won again.
I thought this was outrageous. Either North Dallas third graders had developed a prescient taste for minimalism or I won because I had won last time and now I was the guy who won. The insult festered and I gave my Hershey bar to Cecily because I am a critic and not an artist. I don’t care about winning. I care about being right. Meanwhile, at home, my mom and dad screamed at one another. They threw clocks and vases. My mother was late for an appointment one morning. She backed out of the garage in a hurry, spinning her wheels, and ran over my Jack Russell terrier, Milton. She reminded me that it was my damn dog—that she was in a hurry—and rushed off, gone before she was gone, leaving me to bury Milton in the backyard. I took the little brass plate off Milton’s collar, nailed it to the side of the garage, and buried Milton under it. No one ever spoke of Milton again. On Saturdays, my parents were in the house together all day, so I would set off on my bike at 10 A.M. and ride down to the Inwood theater on Lovers Lane, and then over to the Village Center on Preston Road, to watch movies a day long. Unlike other movie fugitives I have known, I came to hate movies. Also, eventually, somebody stole my bike. Read More