was no fancy dancing; I was just running pell mell as the bullets
slapped and splintered the wood deck below
my feet. At this point, it’s all about chance. Run and run like
The chase had been
going on for more than eighteen minutes and slowly, corner by street
corner, I made plenty of bad choices in a city that
I did not know. I was boxed in, and now I was running on a pier off
the Place De Jules Verne in Marseilles. A pier is always a dead end.
Ignoring me, the horn of a freighter bellowed low and seagulls screamed
like high-pitched dive-bombers.
I had to cover my eyes; the wood splinters and chips were flying like
a thousand daggers. Vorvolakos and his men were well armed to a forty-five-caliber
My options were dwindling. But you always look for more.
Run. Just run.
But I was running out of wharf.
There was a snap. Ahead of me. A line, a rope, something was swinging
before me and I took it. I yanked and it held.
I swung with it’s
momentum, flying around the bow of a docked tramp steamer and out
over the harbor, over the starbursts that were dancing off the water.
lifeline was a loose halyard from a motorsailer undergoing repairs;
have time to ascertain this; I just knew by the way it cut my hands.
I flew like Doug Fairbanks, careening free, soaring. Flying from
the *whoop* *whoop* of the bullets that tried to track me. Tried.
And I landed
squarely on my feet. Squarely on the deck of a passing fifty-five
foot Cigarette speedboat. I landed into the middle of a
jaunt, a booze cruise, another man’s Sunday in the Park if
you got a million and a half. I flexed my sea legs to keep a balance.
Brett Ratner-type in a yachting cap was raising a glass in a toast
but now he just looked surprised. A waiter was passing hors d'oeuvres
and a half dozen Pussy Galores were arching their backs like kittens
with a whip.
All of it was
stunning. As I turned to my land-based assailants with a middle finger
held high, a stunner wrapped her long ebony legs around
my waist and shoved her tongue into my ear.
Wet. Warm. In
my ear. What is better than that?
About this time,
I realized I was still in a dream state. I didn’t
want to admit it, because then I’d have to leave it.
The foxy dappled
her tongue around my ear lobe and I pretended to hate it. “Stop it with some more!” I
said. And she did, with some more.
was still dreaming. I knew this but I did not want to change my state
of mind; the eyes remained firmly closed. Marseilles began to vanish;
I sure didn’t want it to. I didn’t want it to. If I opened
my eyes I would have to confront a world of pain and responsibility.
Like the pain throbbing in my head. Like the harsh realities that
confront the first of the month. Like an art show that opens in two
screams of work left undone. Jitters. Stab wounds. Insecurities.
No, my eyes stayed wide shut. Just a little more slumber and a little
peace. Besides, I needed to repair the damage done the night before.
started out innocently enough, as it always does: a literary event.
What mayhem can be wrought at an arts salon? Words, beauty, bonhomie.
The gang at La Petite Joie, a den of loving iniquity, had blossomed
into a family of sorts. Like any American epi-organism, it was
full of love, honor, vice, compassion, corruption, jealousy, support
intrigue. Any time you get a gaggle of writers, musicians and artists
together, the cumulative pressure overcooks and something always
explodes. That, or maybe it was just the full moon. I think everyone
with their fuse already lit.
is a bar built, with a French theme, right after the First World
War. That was the last time anyone had maintained the place.
it’s a like a skid row bar without the bums; it’s grimy
enough to keep the newbies out. In Echo Park, this Bukowski boite
is a nucleus of sorts, a contemporary haven of an old school thought.
The graphitti that covers very square inch of the interior is amazing
and beautiful. On Sunday nights the open mike goes off and loud.
full moon called and the gang shouted back. Kit Stiles challenged
the Gods with a fist raised high. Muffy sang of reform, romance
and re-virginity while mournfully stabbing the keys of a battery-operated
Mormon organ. Young Mack, our baby Bukowski, had a small pharmacy
in his back pocket and a sweet generous soul. Darby played his
and sang his own song with a silver lilt that would make an Irishman
weep. Tanya and Dimita danced their hands over the timba and
they hid their cartel snears behind huge black sunglasses. Our
resident actor, Barry Moore, once again, as we had hoped, gave
and spontaneous intro far longer than his written words. Dylan
cut his finger badly on steel strings but still kept on playing
his bloody guitar. Josie has a thang for ‘professor types’ and
she chased our white haired senator Marty around the pool table. The
sexual roundelay of the group would spin any French film auteur into
a mise en scene frenzy. Needless to say, it was a long night. The camaraderie,
the joy, the tension of performing, the synergy of ideas and the full
moon above, tom-tom’d the animal in all of us. Skins were
peeled and spirits festooned.
The fast dance beat, of the night before, had idled in my head; it
now kept time to an aorta-friendly foxtrot. If I woke up, I knew it
would pound like a mother-fucking polka. I chose to keep my eyes shut.
Sleep heals. And avoids. Unconsciousness is generally best.
There was a slogan that has always perplexed me. It belonged
to a gym chain or
maybe it was an off-road sportswear line. Damn if it wasn’t a high-energy
drink. The billboards would yell “Sleep When You’re Dead.” I
always entertained the notion “Why wait?” Sleep is good.
Sleep is natural. Sleep keeps the landlord at bay. Sleep leaves you alone.
economies in the last quarter had taken a downturn. Expenditures
in the ‘Entertainment
and Leisure’ sector had overwhelmed projections.
The act of creation is difficult. Creating on a hot sizzling skillet
is an experience like no other. An upcoming show had me dancing like
a George Foreman
grill. Grand ideas had overcome the realization of their own colossal
concepts and this had raised the Alert Level to ‘Code Red.’
My sister, always an easy touch for emergencies and line items such
Food And Bar Bills’, had some issues with a late payment on an unfortunate
medical bill. Not so long ago, my boy Duke took a soft bite, more like a kiss,
out of my nephew Archie’s ass. I’ve got two pups, a matching set
of Wire Hair Fox Terriers. Duke is a little crazy. At times, he gets lost in
the details. My sister was not looking at the big picture. This was not a tragedy
but a Life Lesson. My nephew’s new and irrational fear of dogs
is another contretemps he will have to conquer later in life, a victory,
waiting to happen. Frankly, I thought my sister owed me for the favor.
I considered sending her an invoice.
Life is a matter
of perception. My barrister Nicolette Lake is another one who is riding
my ass. Sure, there are a few billable hours that
but if it hadn’t been for me, this trademark attorney would have
never become an expert in criminal matters. I have opened an entirely
new market for
the tall stately blonde in a severe pinstripe suit. She now has a jail
full of clients and impeccable underworld credentials. Let’s
not forget that I was the one who first took off her thick bifocals
to reveal emerald green eyes.
Nicolette was upset that Dora, my other dog, had stolen and redesigned
an expensive evening dress. Nicolette was waiting for reimbursement
and an apology. I wasn’t
so sure about either. I think Dora acted in good taste.
Gas, water and electricity are functions of our local government; therefore the
establishment must be against me. George Bush, raising our gas prices, has almost
rendered the Black Hornet, my 1963 Lincoln Continental, undriveable.
Ingelsia, the commandant of the neighborhood dry cleaners, was no longer trading
art for services. It seems she tried to unsuccessfully divest part of her (my)
collection on ArtNet auctions and, boy, was she pissed. She is holding my tuxedo
ransom until the market improves.
One thing is for certain. Tupac and Pepito have remained my loyal studio assistants.
Of course, I needed them now, more than ever, in the studio. Instead they were
out foraging for money, working to keep the studio afloat. The twin cousins had
gone back to Mexico, with its improved economy, to pick up day labor work in
front of a Depot De Casa in Cabo San Lucas. They have been sending small but
steady money orders back to the fold.
These were just several of the compelling reasons why I should keep my eyes shut
and stay in bed. Unfortunately, harsh reality has an undeniable way of ruining
a good time. Clearly, the speedboat in Marseille was part of the dream but the
tongue in my ear was becoming more than a figment of my imagination.
This was the
realization that sent a cold shudder down my spine and flared the
back of my
head hot. Where was I? Maybe I wasn’t
at home. Who was I with and what did I do last night? Like chewing
and plotting my escape at the same time. The eyes stayed shut.
by the softness beneath me, I must be on a bed. My olfactory membranes
sensed that I was in a familiar environment; it smelled of stale
beer, tacos and incense. Then again, that could be anywhere. A quick
Systems Check did not register any pain, which is always
a good thing. Unfortunately I had to play possum and not move a muscle;
I was unable to test for motor skills. Dire information was missing
from this crime
Unknown: Someone was nuzzling my ear. The someone part is always a cause for
alarm. Who was I in bed with? What commitments did I make and what living hell
will I have to get out of? Sticky entanglements, bad scenes, relationship counseling,
pro and con lists, long laborious discussions of love and unnecessary screaming
in restaurants were just a few of the potential possibilities that now had me
sweating like a tri-athlete.
The bed shook.
Someone was crawling a finger up my back and nuzzling my ear. Someone
was trying to wake me up. Memories of a redhead last
to take form. I hope I wouldn’t have to buy breakfast.
Without rolling over, I said merrily, “Hey! (It’s always best to
keep it friendly.) “Hey! Are you awake?”
A gentle rub
on my back and a sigh in my ear was the reply. I relaxed enough to
think I might be able to get a little morning action out
I rolled over. And I was horrified.
Duke was poking a paw in my back and Dora was aiming another wet
tongue toward my ear. The dogs aren’t allowed on the bed. They are never on the bed.
I couldn’t have been more surprised if I’d rolled over
to find Misses La Barge my third grade teacher.
Dora got in my face and started barking like she had a lot on her mind. Loud,
short, rapid fire staccato bursts of headache inducing audio concussions. One
I leapt up like Lazarus, sheets flying like Batman’s cape.
I bellowed and growled like a grizzly. (I have found that extreme
very effective in dog training.) They both looked at each other
with saucer-wide eyes and zipped off the bed.
Duke and Dora are brother and sister, a breed like Asta or Tin
They are quite the characters, performers literally. I rescued them from a dog
act in a stripper joint just outside of Kansas City, but that’s another
story. Let’s just say that these dogs tend to dominate and
confound my life.
We have only three rules. 1) Don’t shit in the house, 2) Don’t eat
my food and 3) Never, never get on the bed. These dogs are the models of good
behavior, except when they’re getting in trouble.
Duke and Dora had backed themselves against the wall, sitting at attention, touching
butts, military straight. Dora had something pressing to tell me. She could barely
sit still, muttering to herself. Finally she was worked up enough to start barking.
She leapt on all fours while Duke sat passively, regally, proud that he was cause
of no commotion.
yowling and complaining. Overklempt, she lit up on the bed and
sauntered toward me like an angry housewife with a big metal
a lot to say. She marched right over until she was standing on
my chest and yelling in my face.
My Panavision was hairy, wet, caramel and pissed off.
It was then I noticed the thick flash of silver and green around her neck.
wearing a sterling silver or maybe a platinum necklace, like
a choker. It could have been a woman’s bracelet. Dancing
around her neck, the silver setting held big, phat, one square
was framed by the sparkle of tiny diamonds. I know my stones.
Dora off my chest and sat up. She popped off the bed to
join Duke. Perfect bookends.
Dora was wearing a sparkly-sparkly around her neck in the retail
neighborhood of $275,000. On the street it would fetch an
easy ten grand. Where in the hell
did she get it? No one with that kind of dough was lounging
at La Petite Joie last night. Or so I thought.
dammit! Where did you get the bracelet?!”
lowered her head and looked up at me with sorrowful eyes.
a little taller, snooty with his long muzzle raised high.
We all know Dora has a
shoplifting problem. After this had been recognized and communicated between
us, she began to
yowl, rather urgently, explaining what had happened. She was
getting any of it.
to the emeralds? How did she get the necklace? How can I
keep it? I was hoping there might be a grey area.
just stood there barking at me. Duke jumped on the bed and
rolling on his back like a laughing court jester.
All of this thinking had loosened the skids on the hangover.
My head began to throb, clush and clank as I slid into the
A knock at the studio door stopped the dog-fest. Duke leapt
to the bedroom door and crouched on his haunches, ready for
The knock at the door became more pointed, like someone was
using the base of a flashlight or the butt of a gun.
The dogs growled low and in unison.
up, grabbed a sarong and jumped into a pair of flip-flops.
Unfortunately, as I leapt up, my hungover head exploded
into a million colorful pieces of blinding bright confetti.
I got the sarong but missed the flip-flops and fell into
the nightstand. A lamp and a dozen books flew into the
I flew onto the floor.
GORDY GRUNDY is a Los Angeles based artist. His new show, FORTUNA
RISING begins September 17 and runs through February
28 at Western Project. 21 events will blossom over 21 weeks at Western-Project.com