I’ve avoided this for long enough. The frightening overabundance of HOs in Gotham. Most notorious of them, and perhaps the original is SOHO. South OF Houston O. Not to be confused with FUKO, however, many Fuckos do live in SOHO, and the place has in more modern times transformed from a cast iron district of dirty papers and long legged wo/men artists to a gallery ghetto and finally to an outpost of the high end mall, a thin strip that encircles the world at the latitude of Dubai (Down Under Baluchistan And Iran) as a thin strip of skinny women Sherpaing little fashion bags from lunch to brunch eating nothing but figbutter and blanched topiary.
The first time I ever sat a gallery was in OnHo (one block below Houston Street). Half expecting to hob my nob with the hobnobables, I managed to bore myself to death sitting in a chilled empty room with but a few flashing paintings on the wall. Please sign our book, I croaked at the elderly, having forgotten how to speak and not having heard my mother tongue in ages. Chilled to the bone, stupid time went ticking by backwards sometimes just to get good and ready leap forward. This was before cell phones and before WiFi we had to think of porn back then in those days in our own minds.
Soho had already changed by the time I got there as a younger adult. In my kid days my parent didn’t dare enter that forbidden zone and the one time we did was during a union strike by the carters and every curb was piled high with bags and bags and bags and – oh my God is the Dustin Hoffman it is!!!!!!!!! and bags and bags of trash. Some if it moved. Some of it wiggled its toes.
Whatever Ohyouhadtobethere spots were gone by the time I had brunch with a person I was crushing hard on in college who is now The Lady Ross On Wye after making substantial life changes. I remember the soho kitchen or some other spot so trendy and super kewl that it seems like a dream or a slice of a Brent Easton Elis film or both. Did that happen? Was I indeed brunching with the soon come Lady Ross in Brent’s version of Bright Lights Big City Slaves of New York? It was glamor and I was unready for that fast a life. I was just a college kid studying history hoping for a big break in life, some direction, some company, trying to make a spot in the world for myself like we all do at that age… and every day after.
I walked after my companion laughing and gossiping – I think soon to become Lady Brent and I shopped for something, maybe handbags or panda hats or tee shirts with “Huh Huh” on them (kids, ask your MTV generation parents what “huh huh” means). I had a moment when I though… I’m in a boutique in SoHo. In Gotham. In the center of the world. I loved the cobblestone that were missing, I loved the strange puddles of silky fetid liquid, the graffiti baking in the sun, the trucks that still delivered typewriter keys and pigs feet to an iron clad armada of then forgotten structures. Is SoHo becoming… too commercial? I asked.
That space is gone. The building has been restored and renovated a hundred thousand million times. It is today maybe condos. Or lofts. Or loftcondos. I cannot go back to that place… Because it’s a Starbucks… Not because “we can never go back to Manderlay again” but I cannot go back because that place is gone. I did not make it with Lady Ross. Or any of them. I didn’t give up though. Trying. Failing. And trying again. It would be a few more years until is be back to SoHo.
I was beyond blotto. Having dutifully followed the invite expecting my other partners in crime, the rest of the arts organization I was involved with to be there, I was alone and again bored and not counting my drinks and who the hell allows an art event to be in a hair salon? What the fuck is saki and tequila doing here? For free? A crowd of tan and plastic Miami Cubanos has clustered and I did not belong among the huge cleaving heaving tits and asses and deep leathery men who hatted communism and democracy in the same breath. A boy played on a plastic electric violin because no one could be punished on Twitter back then.
I was about to go when 88 Keys arrived to the event, perfectly late on time. 88 Keys was a dapper gentleman of a certain age with a long relationship with Cuba and classic cars and sexually harassing women, but he was always a gentleman around me. He set about and made the rounds and dragged me along. I met a lot of tits and leather and hen he said, fuck this crowd of Miami [unintelligible] let’s get the funk out of here. I agreed. The leathermen and boobjobs were starting to blend together and I felt a little nausea slipping about my maw. We hopped into his classic perfectly restored 1965 Cadillac and he pulled out into the streets driving with his legs as he simultaneously rolled joint. He pulled that machine slow time about the rickety rackity SoHo streets before he opened her up full choke on he FDR, both of us hyphy before that was even a word. Goddamn it don’t stub that in the ash tray, flick it out the window! He yelled at me as I burned my fingers in surprise. I was a novice… The electric window rolled down and I tossed those burning embers out somewhere by the Wards Island Bridge, which, I remember, was up for the night.
The art organization returned to the Ho. This time for an event. And not just me but the bench. All of us. Our leader had obtained some gallery or space or whatever was rented and it was on one of the well known streets and posters were made and adverts were placed and the art world was a burbling buzzing humming for our little event. We set up, got the artists ready for the event, got the booze ready for the donors, got the drugs ready, for [redacted] and opened he doors to the humid and crying spring night. It was the night I met the woman who would become one of our team, a tall blond in heals from Arizona towering above the skinny twigs like some classic model from a spy film, despite not having a double entendre name. That night I met a man painted in gold leaf, an artist from Hong Kong, who would climb the scaffolding outside and paint more things gold than himself. I met a man who painted between drinking bottles of wine that other guests exclaimed, he’s still alive? As well as a number of other artists all of whom were famous in their own circles. This may have been on of the few remaining galleries, but that night the streets were flowing in spilled wine and gold leaf.
SoHo was already becoming That Mall but we carried on. We had memories that weren’t ours and they drove us into the night.
After the seventh event that evening I was at the loft of the Brazilian Heiress with our brat pack. She was paramour of the moment for our leader, the visionary running the organization we we contributed/enabled to. She poured #198 drink of the night and joked about her having to have a room mate I mean didiknowwhatshemeans? Yes I did, I lived in a “loft” in GreenpointEastWilliamsburg with eight people… She was splitting a place with one girl. On Mercer Street. So the rent wouldn’t be $15,000 a month… Was I sitting on a couch made of cardboard? Did I just see this SAME couch in the Cooper Hewitt Design museum and have to tell a kid not to touch?
SoHo continued to change, become ever boring until it is the static and solid museum it is today. Skinny twigs and fops and dilettantes and civilians post and pose about Snapchatting and Grinding and Yelping away.
There is a wedding cake of a building. The Edward Scissorhands Building on Broadway and Mirth Street. We were there to beg. Donations are at the whim of whomever has the spare change and today it was Uggie’s turn to be begged from.
Uggie was not a man, but a boy in proportions of a man. And he happened to be a [space lizard] one of the richest families in Gotham or [of the Space Lizards such as the being that calls itself Hillary]. And we were there to inspire this 22 year old kid to buy or fund $100,000 of art. I was not part of the negotiation but had to play the role of henchperson since this kid had his own bevy of assistants to plan his day, spin his deep tracks, and maintain him in a Super Fine condition. I waited while the real people made back-room deals and looked out, the first and only time I would, over the rooftops of SoHo, at the spent tar buckets, covered skylights, and secret gardens of the now wealthy and expensive SoHo.
I don’t think we got the deal. Uggy no likey us or something or his assistant didn’t like us or maybe he was just a spoiled rich capricious cunt – which I’ll go with the latter.
Today I now work in [or around or nowhere near] SOHO. I go there [or around or nowhere near] every day in order to pay the bills and not out of some dream of art and life and change or whatever madness drove me, drove us, to push on harder into the night trying to scoop up the last glistening crystals of a creative world that had evaporated long before it was legal to think or vote or walk or drink.
I sometimes walk around for lunch today occupied with all thoughts but art. I look about when I am not staring at my phone, but I cannot even imagine once art galleries were all up and down these streets or that a younger me actually ranged and thrived in those streets that now are shut up and paved entirely over.
I am certain I there are those ghosts about SoHo and all the HOs more powerful than mine.
Editor’s Note: as this is an attempt at a post a day with minimal edits, Imperfections are an indication of authenticity.