Being a follower and fan of the artwork of Regina and Charlie, I have been struck by the way each of them has developed and produces a psychological landscape that remains consistent over the years, yet always surprising. The images grant me the privilege of entering into their psychic space. The following impressions are of course filtered through my own biases and dispositions and may not accord with what other viewers feel.
This is an early old painting of mine from the late 1990s. A tribute to my parents’ house. Liz and Fred. This house was a source of great pride for them, especially my father, who grew up tough on these New York City streets with his mother and two sisters during the Depression. His father had deserted the family when my father was about nine, leaving them to fend for themselves.
My dad started running with street gangs as a teenager. He was very bright so he skipped two grades, but then he got into so much trouble he was left back twice, so he graduated right on time.
My dad was a great raconteur and when I was a teenager, he told me this story:
“I was running with these tough guys, I was about the same age as you today, and one day on the streets one of them said, ‘Hey, Freddie, isn’t that your old man?’”
Late to the party with this one, but Charlie and I just binge-watched Ricky Gervais’s After Life (written and directed by, and starring Ricky Gervais himself), and like the Brits say, “It is brilliant.” Not only is it very funny, but it’s touching and deep; sad, but never maudlin. Gervais is a good actor, and everyone in the show is on point; not a weak link in the whole cast. Everyone was so much fun to watch! No wonder Punk hit so big in England, where these kids—my generation—probably pogoed out of the womb with a sneer and wearing a dog collar. It’s in their blood. I loved the slang the Brits have that Gervais used generously and often. “He’s a cunt.” “He’s a twat.” And my favorite: “You’re a daft cunt.” That word has a completely different meaning in England than it does here, and it’s not at all taboo to say it there.
Ricky Gervais has an unexpectedly big heart, and it caught me by surprise and had me in tears. His love and respect for the outsiders, the weirdos, the forgotten ones, reminded me of the Lower East Side in the 1980s.
I was coming down Stanton to Clinton a couple of days ago when this guy I see sometimes out there selling clothes and other items was out there again. He has good stuff. Last year I got a little black number that fit like a glove and had excellent material.
This dress i have in the picture caught my eye right away. It’s my style, French looking, simple, no fuss, and I could tell my size.
We remembered each other. At one glance you can tell he’s a junkie but intelligent and very sweet. I asked him how he was. He looked a little strung out but it wasn’t only the drugs. He said not good because while unpacking today a couple of kids ran off with an expensive computer.
A stark, cold, clear beautiful January night.
And then it begins to snow.
The cold wind blows it around.
The air feels fresh.
Mostly deserted streets for a Saturday night.
But heading down Clinton Street I can hear muffled sounds of music and voices that bursts through doors that slam shut and then it’s silent again.
Head down hushed Stanton street past Our Lady of Sorrow and wonder when they are going to bring back the three Shepard kids that used to kneel before her.
“New York is cold but I like where I’m living there’s music on Clinton Street all through the evening.”
Famous Blue Raincoat
After I gave birth to Hannah at 7:35 pm on July 2, 1984 at St. Vincent’s Hospital in New York City, I called my Mom. She was the only person I called. To make the call I remember that for some reason I got into a wheelchair and went out in the hallways to find a pay phone. Was there not a phone in the room? For the record, St. Vincent’s closed in 2010 and pay phones are also now a relic from the past. I reached up and dialed my parents’ old familiar number, MI1-5379. The phone rang and my Mom picked up. “Hello?”
I could picture her clearly, standing in her clean kitchen, talking on the big black phone that was attached to the kitchen wall with an extra-long black cord. Liz. At sixty-two her hair was still a wavy, natural jet black, with maybe a strand of grey. I could also picture her bright red lipstick, the only make-up she ever wore. And I remember the smell of Noxzema, the only cleanser she used on her face.
12 years old
April 2010 – June 14, 2022
How I loved Francine. How we loved her.
She was so big and soft and strong. So wonderful to pick up.
To see her funny face.
To see her run.
To see her roll around on the ground.
To see her fight with Audrey.
Francine died on June 14, 2022
I hate even writing these words.
We can’t believe she is gone.
Her big heart gave out.
She didn’t suffer long.
Little Audrey is confused left here. We try to give her a lot of love.
She goes outside for the first time by herself.
I feel so proud of her but I know she is just looking for Francine.
In the early ’80s I worked for WABC radio as a receptionist. I would answer calls and put them through to the salespeople in the rooms beyond the waiting area. I would be seated behind a big circular desk right in front of the elevators. The waiting room was painted in a mod ‘60s style with wild and bright orange and red colors. To my right were the offices and DJ booth for WABC radio, and to my left were the ones for WPLJ FM. All I had to do all day was mostly buzz the salespeople, guests, messengers, etc, into the interior offices, and best of all the DJs coming in to work.
One day one of the big bosses came out to tell me they would be getting a uniform for me. He would always be yelling at me for one thing or another, for pacing around the waiting area because I would get restless – “You have to stay behind your desk!” – and as for how I dressed, let’s just say I didn’t exactly have a corporate look going. I was about to argue, but I pictured how punked up I could make that uniform so I said, “Okay!” I think I had a glint in my eye because he looked at me and said, “Never mind about the uniform Regina.”
Except for people coming and going I was basically by myself all day and I could just read. Sometimes I would press all the buttons on the big desk phone I had and put all the phones on hold for about an hour so I could concentrate better on reading plays. This was WABC radio, with I’m sure big deals going on, and a lot wouldn’t get through for that hour. I don’t know where I got the nerve to do that. It was such a great job!
As a kid I had always listened to WABC. I had a little transistor radio and I’d listen to it all the time, loving doo-wop and all the girl groups. I loved all of that most until Punk finally broke through and saved my soul. Now here I was, years later buzzing the DJ’s into WABC radio who were my heroes as a kid. Harry Harrison was a total sweetheart. One day I told him he looked like the Cat in the Hat and he laughed so hard. But he did! He had real long legs and he always strode out of the elevators with a big smile and a big hello. Ron Lundy, from Memphis, would actually say, “Hello Love!” to me every morning, exactly how he would say it on the air everyday as his show began. Dan Ingram was always crabby but at least he was consistent.
It’s the end of March 2019, and I’m sitting in a little cold backyard garden with Francine, the big black and white cat.
This is the time when you can feel spring right underneath that dead cold, pushing up out of the dead underworld and into the yellow and the bright white. But the chill is still in the air. Remembering childhood backyards and making mud pies in the cold air. The air was cold. We bundled up.
My mother would chase us kids out of the house. “Blow the stink off,” she would always say. In snowy weather we took our sleds down Cherry Hill, the big hill on the corner that took up a couple of blocks and then some, ending up in an empty lot. It would get dangerously icy and slick and we would fly down that hill, sometimes coming home with frozen fingers and toes. My mother would warm us with hot towels and her hot chocolate.
In summer we picked blackberries that grew in mass abundance with the over grown weeds and trees on Cherry Hill. I remember losing my balance and falling backward in the thick and thorny blackberry bushes and getting completely scratched up. I was little, nine or ten. Older kids, the teenagers, had made a magical little path with wooden signs and directions leading you deep into the lots ‘til you got to a clearing in the center. Once I found a porn magazine there, with Agent 99 from the TV show Get Smart. Agent 99 does porn? Really?