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HOT COMMODITIES Five
Summer 2001
By Scott Speh

SELF-INDULGENCE AS A DEFENSE MECHANISM

I never walk the streets, think it's all about me Even though deep in my heart, it really could be
Phife Did-idog, A Tribe Called Quest
from the song "Buggin' Out"

ME
June 2001
I've always loved that rhyme from the Tribe and recently realized that it was appropriate for this column after I overheard a friend (and one of this column's 7 or so readers) describe HOT COMMODITIES: "Ostensibly (I don't know if she actually used this word, but it's a good one), the column is about art and music and TV and stuff, but it's really all about Scott!" I dedicate this column to this reader, who shall remain nameless, who along with my former roommate Ethan, has been the biggest boost to my flagging self-esteem in a long, long time. After an incredibly shitty year (divorce, death, debt), I've needed help. Ethan helped me embrace my back (hairy) and my front (flabby) as he walked around the house shirtless, himself hairy and chunky, WITH ABSOLUTELY NO SHAME. Especially in these sultry summer days, I've joined the shirtless parade, at home anyway. Don't know if I'm quite ready to strut down the beach in a Speedo. But in my own domain, I'm unashamedly naked as I want to be.

The aforementioned reader of this column has also invaluably caressed my ego - she was the first person in a long time to refer to me as "sexy." Of course, she was drunk. I was with my ex-wife for 13 years and I can't remember the last time she called me sexy. Anyway this reader (dare I say fan?) has been prodding me to write a new column for weeks, months now. So here goes:

SUMMER SHIT, er SUMMER SHOWS
Chelsea, Soho, 57th Street, wherever

I haven't seen anything worth writing about for a while now. No show has elated me, none have infuriated me enough to write. A big case of the late spring blahs. Plus my TV is down at the Beav for our current show. I miss my good friend TV. And I haven't seen a movie since April - that piece of shit "Heartbreakers" (which to its credit featured a strong performance in a supporting role from Jennifer Love Hewitt's boobs.) My pop radar has been out of commission and the art is boring...so what was there to write about? Oh yeah - me!

But let's start with art. I've been making lists of supposedly must-see shows and have been out to galleries four times in the last month. Let's run down these lists and I'll give you a brief impression (and I do mean brief) of each show:

Inka Essenhigh at Mary Boone:
booooring, blah, barfy
The LP show at Exit Art:
kicky, kooky fun - my fave - WASP's "F*** Like a Beast"
William Kentridge at the New Museum:
somber, visually sumptuous, emotionally rich
Vija Celmins at McKee:
Celmins continues the stay the course, but what a course. Rich, beautifully crafted paintings and prints. Of what you might ask? Skies and water. Duh.
Ken Lum at Andrea Rosen:
a couple pieces elicited wry smiles but really, who cares?
Shirin Neshat at Gladstone:
It was much too hot to sit in a dark stuffy room watching videos about personal and political torment and oppression
James Casebere at Kelly:
Methinks there is a way to prints these massive photos in todo, instead of splitting the images across two panels. Nitpicky? Yes. Sue me.
Elsworth Kelly at Matthew Marks:
I love his gray paintings. Would somebody please buy me one?
Jim Shaw at Metro:
Wish I had stayed longer - it was a good show.
Bitstreams at the Whitney:
Capriciously organized around digital media, instead of any prevailing idea, which did the artists in the show a disservice. So instead of focusing on what the artists were trying to say, you were forced to get all gee-whiz-zy, wondering how the piece was made. Plus most of the work sucked although Lo-Tek's installation for the sound artist was kinda cool.
Stephen Pippin at Gavin Brown:
disappointing
Sean Landers at Andrea Rosen:
One of my favorite shows of the year. Loved the smart-asseddness of the whole enterprise and was more than pleasantly surprised to find that the paintings were actually handsome and well-crafted.
Tim Gardner at 303:
While his jewel-like watercolors are undoubtedly handsome, would someone please tell me why we should care about snotty, privileged white boys and their drinking exploits around the globe?
John Bock at Anton Kern:
His work is also not without charm, but do we really need another bad boy artist?
Glenn Ligon at D'Amelio Terras:
Welcome forays into humor and color, stolen images from pop culture and coloring books, all hamfistedly scribbled over - funny and a little creepy.
Frank O. Gehry at McGuggenheim:
Kind of an infuriating and frustrating show. Sections of it were being re-installed when I went to see it. Very little in situ color photos of the projects and the photography that was displayed was often inscrutable. The show seems to be making a case for architectural models as sculpture. Whatever.
Andreas Gursky at MOMA:
Too high.
Anthony Goicolea at RARE:
self-indulgent garbage, not unlike this column.

SUMMER GROUP SHOWS
A whole mess opens this week so I hope to get them soon, meanwhile here's the best of the current crop:

Clench Clutch Flinch
Paul Rodgers/9W, Chelsea
This show has a nice Tim Hawkinson self-portrait (a self-portrait you say? When did Tim start doing self-portraits?) and a cool Diana Cooper magic marker drawing called "My Favorite Song is Over." The most interesting piece is by Monica Castillo. She sets up a dialectic (careful readers, please note: this is the first time I have ever used this word. Pray that I used it correctly) between pleasure and pain in her two screen video installation. On the first screen is a close-up of an eyeball. A hand off-screen is gently stroking the eyeball with a paintbrush. Good god does it look painful, but the eyelid majestically resists shutting. After a miserable 20-30 seconds of stroking, tears stream from the eyeball. On the other screen, we see the naked torso of a majestically hung man. Dude's got a huge hose. In this video, the man's flaccid member gets painted maroon by a similarly sized (smallish) paintbrush. This painting continues until the man is fully erect. Since we saw the tears stream from the eyeball, we might expect a certain "release" shall we say, for the "climax" of this video. But no, the screen prudishly fades to black just as the quivering member reaching full power. Party foul!

THE SHORT LIST
I've decided that the rest of the shows I saw in Chelsea Friday really aren't worth in-depth commentary. Or maybe I'm just lazy?
Feigen - decent stuff from Julia Fish and Giles Lyon
Bill Maynes Gallery - I'm diggin' on Susanne Kuhn's cartoony landscapes
Nicole Klagsbrun - a tour de force Dennis Hollinsworth and a number of quirky and cool Joyce Kims

Paul McCarthy
The New Museum, Luhring Augustine, everywhere
I keep forgetting to mention the Paul McCarthy-mania New York experienced this spring - I believe he had four separate shows up at once. And yes the work was disgusting, offensive, crude, scatalogical - but in a playful sort of way. I was weirdly turned on by the installation at Luhring Augustine. "Whipping a Wall with Paint" and "Face Painting" are hilarious videos from the '60s that are exactly as the title describes. By far the best piece was "Ass Back One" - in what looks like the basement from the end of the Blair Witch film, a naked behind turns a corner and heads for the camera. I'm sorry, did I say "Ass Back One" was the best? Well, "Ass Back Two" was better. The same ass turns the corner (I also must mention the lighting is harsh and garish) and runs directly into the camera. Beautiful, just freakin' beautiful. Bungholes rock.

My Sister
I have to mention how much my sister rocks. She's sixteen and works for the coolest radio station in the US - 97X (http://www.woxy.com) - yes the same 97X that Dustin Hoffman mentions in Rain Man: "Bam, the future of rock and roll." This week, my sis sent me some old-school shell front, white with black stripes Adidas shoes, plus a 97X t-shirt and a Weezer t-shirt. Totally rad, dude. Helps me keep up with my inner sixteen year old. The shoes and the t-shirt go well with hickey (not Dave Hickey) I was sporting this week. It's 1987 all over again!

Sorry there is no pop culture this week. I just haven't experienced any lately. Although if someone were to buy me the new Weezer and Blink-182 cds, I'd be happy to write about them next time.

I'm out like Buster Douglass

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HC12
Valentine's Day 2002
Way too much info on my TV watching habits, plus Daniell Tegeder, Brad Tucker and art in Boston and much, much more...

HC11
Best of 2001
Moulin Rouge, Mulholland Drive, Missy Elliot, Jay-Z, James Ensor, Wayne Thiebaud, Radiohead, System of a Down redux

HC10
Thanksgiving from Hawaii
Serra, Pardo, Katz, Coen Brothers all suck. Grabner, Sienna, Prekop, Jay-Z all rock

HC9
Early Fall 2001
The Onion, Rodney Graham, Jim Lambie, Larry King, Music Movie Sundays, sucking up to Jerry Saltz and stuff...

HC8
Early Fall 2001
Skinny actresses, Fall Previews, Hair metal (again), and some other crap...

HC7
Late-Summer 2001
Chicago Art, Radiohead, Tony Kornheiser, another David E. Kelley rip and more...

HC6
Summer 2001
Wane Thiebaud, Printmaking, movies, more summer shows and more...

HC5
Summer 2001
Summer Shows, Paul McCarthy, Me, My Sister and more...

HC4
Spring 2001
James Ensor, Ennui, Journey, New Art Examiner and more...

HC3
Late Winter 2001
Dawson's Creek, Jessica Stockholder, David Salle, Albums of the Year and more...

HC2
Early Winter 2000
riffs on rock-Roll Singles, the West Wing, Bernard Frieze and more...

HC1
Fall 2000
The dirt on Damien Hirst, Jibangus, Cable TV and more...

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