Once I had finally made my presence known, I sat in a second floor lobby which resembled a kindergarten class room with kidney-shaped tables and colorful chairs. It was at this point that I finally finished Philip Gourevitch's "We Wish to Inform You..." which I had been reading off and on for over a month. I remember feeling that it was a shame that I had finished it because I had a long train ride home and no book to read, plus I would need to find another smart looking book to be seen with on trains and at appointments. Beauty and brains is the image I like to give off.
Anyway, I met with David from the PR for about five minutes. He basically had me in to see, I guess, if I was serious enough about the job to make it all the way from Brooklyn to the Upper West Side. The meeting was over in five minutes, and I left with a job. No start date yet, but the assumption is that I will begin my tenure at the highly respected Princeton Review a week from Monday. Now begins the portion of my life where I am forced to break ties with the people who paid me when others wouldn't over the past several months.
I've talked a lot about the framing studio I've been working at in previous entries, and I don't really want to be all that redundant. Especially since this is already going to be a long entry without the unnecessary complaining about how much that place is going down with or without me. I will say though, that Ron finally called me again last Thursday (September 30, the day of the first Presidential debate), after over a week had passed since last we had spoke, asking me to work on that Friday. At the time I already had a job booked with Barbara for that afternoon, so I turned the job down. It eventually happened that the client canceled the job Barbara had booked me for, so I did end up going in to work with Ron that day. I had to get paid for the work I had done the week before, anyway.
It was another day of me struggling to do a good, quick job. Succeeding and failing in different stages. And Ron spending most of the time not doing the production work. This was October 1. I still hadn't been to the interview at Princeton Review, but I knew it was going to happen. I had also already accepted the unpaid position at the Elizabeth Foundation for the Arts which would keep me unavailable for him two days a week. I decided to avoid conflict and not tell him about either situation. I suppose what I am doing is postponing conflict. Not avoiding it. Whatever. The shining moments of that day were that we finally finished the job I began the day I started, and that Ron had been slowly working on the entire time I had been there. Also, a woman came in with an absolutely horrid Renoir painted sketch of bathers to be framed in a gaudy gold leaf frame. It's an ugly painting (Surprise, An ugly Renoir), but I was very happy to have the opportunity to hold it. And to examine it from the back. To see how the whole thing was put together. Pretty cool. There are good times to work there. We listen to WNYC all day, and talk about politics. It can be a lot of fun, but it's just not going to be there forever. Even if it were, do I really want to do that forever?
That's all I will say about that job for now. There's more to be said, but I am going to save it until the end because I didn't even learn about it until last night. Plus it deserves to get it's place chronologically and symbolically at the end.
I did end up going in for the internship position twice this week. If they could pay me, it would be a good thing to keep doing. Even if they couldn't pay me but I could find some way to do it and the Princeton Review job, it would likely be better for me. Such a balance is unlikely, and I am going to have to break the news to them next week. So I have to say goodbye to all the great contacts I might have had but never will.
Yesterday, I worked for Barbara. There were a few jobs to be done. All art handling. The first job was to move a number of paintings, photos, and sculptures from different studios and a gallery up to the Banana Republic (of all places) at Rockefeller Center. Aside from a 6' tall bronze sculpture by an artist called Joel Perlman, it was all pretty light work. The big sculpture was pretty heavy (about 150 lbs), and the fact that I am pretty sore today might be thanks, in part, to the role I played in moving it. I don't really have an opinion of the work of Mr. Perlman. It looks a lot like the work of a lot of sculptors trained at specific moment in art history. It was definately craft-oriented and abstract. I found it to be a little boring but quite nice looking.
Once we were done with the Banana Republic job, Barbara and I went to pick up another seven pieces (all paintings) from three different galleries about town. We then went to pick-up between 10 and 15 boxes full of books from a couple who deal in rare books at shows. We drove the books and the dealers to the armory somewhere on the Eastside in the twenties. The Book show was above street level, but the building has an elevator that you can park your car in and be taken up to the showroom floor. The floor was wood-planked similar to that of an old gymnasium, and the tires made a disconcerting squeaking noise on it when I would turn the wheel.
I didn't get to look around at the book show, but I have a feeling that, given the time, Sarah would really enjoy going there.
After having left the Book Show we made our way up to Westchester County to drop off the seven paintings at a private residence. The client in this instance is an art consultant who gets paid to take her clients, the people who own the house we dropped the paintings off at, to different galleries throughout the city to decide what art would look good in their house. They get permission from the gallery owners to borrow paintings on a trial basis. If they like them they buy them. If they don't, Barbara and Mike will go back next week to take them back to the galleries. This was my first trip to this residence. It was Barbara's third in a short time.
We had already received some grief from the client regarding how late we were projecting our arrival. She didn't want her clients to have to see us. What she wanted to happen, what in fact did happen, was for us to arrive before the people returned home, to leave the work with their immigrant servants, and to be gone before they pulled into the driveway. We arrived around six, and were gone by ten after. No controversy. For all the rich people know, the work was transported there via Star Trek-like technology. They can do that, can't they?
There was a lot of traffic, though. It was a Friday and a holiday weekend, and what should have been a forty-five minute ride back into the city took two hours. I was afraid because I didn't think I would make it home before the debate began. Plus sitting in a car too long tends to make my legs sore for days. Not my legs so much as my hips. The ball-and-socket joint of my hip becomes very tender. Sure enough, I am sore.
In the van we tend to listen not to NPR, which is what I like, but to Air America Radio. The progressive answer to conservative talk radio. It, like Michael Moore, can be all right in doses, but, as with Michael Moore, I get especially frustrated when the format of informative talk becomes skewed into a hate-based propaganda. I don't know why I am supposed to like Randi Rhodes any more than I like Anne Coulter. Or Michael Moore any more than I like Sean Hannity. But I am informed by people all the time that this is how I am supposed to think. I am supposed to like Randi Rhodes because our politics are similar. I am supposed to like Michael Moore because he sticks it to the President. Frankly, I don't like either of them.
Barbara likes Randi Rhodes, though. So we listen to her show which starts at 3 on weekdays. Barbara and I talked about politics for a while. About how we both thought the Vice-President all but crushed my former Senator on Tuesday night. And stated our predictions for how the second Presidential debate would go. We both felt that the likelihood of the President looking as silly as he did the first debate was not strong, so the debate would at best probably be considered a tie. And at worst a Bush victory. Having seen the debate last night, I tend to think the former is more likely. The timber company line would have been good for Bush had Kerry's description of the facts not been true. But since they were true, you get another administration debate one-liner that proves to be false. It won't be enough to really hurt the President, but it should be enough to prove he didn't win the debate. I also thought Senator Kerry wasn't as strong as he had been last week. The topics of the week barely asserted themselves during the debate which I found to be unfortunate.
Conversation last night eventually jumped from politics to the status of my employment at the framing studio which Barbara actually set up. I gave my typical description of how things were doomed. How I think George got out while the getting was good. How I think Ron is almost trying to fail. Or at least not trying to succeed. And how it is good that I am getting out. The topic then turned to the first time me working with him ever came up. I had been doing a job with Barbara and Mike, and we had to pick up a lot of frames that had to be redone because the paint they had been finished with had yellowed. It was a bad situation for Ron because that sort of thing can really damage your word-of-mouth credibility. So they were doing this huge job for the second time. This time for free, I think.
As Mike and I waited for the freight elevator with all the frames, Barbara had been speaking with Ron in the studio. She came out saying that, if I were interested, he might be willing to give me some work. What I didn't know that day, what I didn't learn until last night as I waited in traffic hoping to be home before the debate was the content of their discussion. A portion of the transcript of the conversation is enclosed:
Ron: (To Barbara) Who's that?
Barbara: Oh that's Andrew. He's a former art student who I've had do a few jobs for me lately.
Ron: He's gorgeous.
Barbara: Yeah, he's cute.
It goes on and on like that for a while. It only gets a little predatory. I don't want to give Ron a bad name, though. Eventually I scheduled a meeting one Saturday to talk to Ron about working for him. It was a long meeting. Nearly two hours long, and I came out of it with the job I have complained about for the last time in these entries. A portion of subsequent conversation between Ron and Barbara is contained below.
Barbara: So you met with Andrew.
Ron: Yeah, he's great. (Pause) He's really bright.
I don't know what to do with this new information. He's hardly the first gay man who has been disappointed with my heterosexuality. He is, however, the first gay man who hired me for my looks. I guess this happens to men and women all the time, but it doesn't make me feel any less dirty. I'm just a small town boy in the big city. It's a good thing I have Sarah. Otherwise, who knows how my New York experience would treat me? Just because gay men everywhere find me attractive, that doesn't make me gay does it? Anybody?
To chart Andrew's path from his home to the Princeton Review, or to plot your own future journeys in NYC, please go to http://www.mta.nyc.ny.us/nyct/maps/subm
To see the art of Joel Perlman go to http://www.royboydgallery.com/joel_perl
To learn more about Air America, or to listen online, go to http://www.airamericaradio.com