Thursday, July 30, 2009

The Onus of the Bonus

According to a report released today by New York State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo , in 2008 many of the big investment banks that received federal bailout money paid bonuses to their employees which were greater, sometimes vastly greater, than their profits. Click here to read a full copy of the report, entitled "Heads I Win, Tails You lose."

Some highlights:

JP Morgan Chase recieved $25 billion in TARP money, earned $5.6 billion, and paid out $8.69 billion in bonuses.

Goldman Sachs recieved $10 billion in TARP money, earned $2.3 billion, and paid out $4.8 billion in bonuses.

Morgan Stanley recieved $10 billion in TARP money, earned $1.7 billion, and paid out $4.475 billion in bonuses.

And finally, my absolute favorite:

Citigroup and Merrill Lynch lost a combined $54 billion and recieved $55 billion in TARP money. Citigroup paid out $5.33 billion in bonuses and Merrill paid $3.6 billion.

I'm in the wrong business. I would have been willing to lose your retirement savings and sink the world's economy for a fraction of that, say, eight digits. Maybe I'll start taking some night classes.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Belmont Results, 7/25/09

Like the waning days of summer, so went my bankroll.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Paulie's Picks, Belmont, 7/25/09

One of those bittersweet signs that summer is more than half over is when you look at the calendar and realize that this is the closing weekend at Belmont Park. In my mind I can hear the Beach Boys harmonizing in a melancholy way about the setting sun, love lost, and time passing.

And when I feel wistful like that, the only cure is gambling. Here are Paulie's picks for the final Saturday of the 2009 Belmont summer meeting.

1st race:
2 - Quiet On the Tee
8 - Beneath the Crown
1a - Relatively Ready

2nd race:
1a - Fuhrever Dancing
1 - Papa Jerry
2 - Silver Ferrari
4 - Brooker D

3rd race:
6 - Mandate
5 - Buy a Personality
3 - Seeyouatsergios

4th race:
3 - Five Boroughs
1 - Bocce Ball
7 - Four Star General

5th race:
6 - Wild Entry
3 - Cherokee Speed
4 - Le Royale

6th race:
5 - Western Connection
10 - Compliance Officer
7 - Whirlwind Poppy

7th race:
10 - Sydney Road
11 - New Yawker
5 - Wild Way

8th race:
7 - Extra Zip
1 - Stormy Success
4 - Kettle Two

9th race, The Coaching Club American Oaks, G1:
6 - Casanova Move
1 - Livin Lovin
7 - Hightap

10th race:
2 - Fair Catch
1 - Winloc's Big D
7 - Mugger Hugger

Tune in tomorrow night for results.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Viewlist: Inspiration Information at Minus Space

Viewlist is the brainchild of Matthew Deleget and Rosanna Martinez at the protean and always interesting Minus Space. Here is a brief description of the Viewlist project from

"Viewlist is MINUS SPACE’s new online project space where we invite artists and others to curate a visual essay of images. Viewlist exhibitions are generally thematic and can include art works spanning various time periods, movements, and geographic locations. Exhibitions may also include ideas and images from disciplines outside of the visual arts."

This month painter Karen Schifano's curatorial contribution to the project is entitled "Bulletin Board: Inspiration Information." Karen contacted a number of artists and asked for photographs of places where they tack up studies, snapshots, printouts, or any other bits of ephemera from which they draw inspiration. The result is fascinating, like getting a peek inside a lot of different's artists spaces, and inside their heads as well.

Special thanks to Matthew, Rosanna, and Karen for including me in this installement.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Monday, July 13, 2009

"Resume," Dorothy Parker, 1925

Razors pain you,
Rivers are damp,
Acids stain you,
And drugs cause cramp.
Guns aren't lawful,
Nooses give,
Gas smells awful.
You might as well live.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Belmont Results, 7/11/09

Almost miraculously, I beat the cryptic card at Belmont today. Perhaps the secret to winning is to be convinced that you're going to lose.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Paulie's Picks, Belmont, 7/11/09

Tomorrow will be my first trip to Big Sandy in quite some time - the relentless rains of June sadly kept me away from the game.

I'm afraid I didn't pick an easy card for my return, though; it's a virtual Rubik's Cube of unraced maidens, weird turf sprints, horses stretching out to a route or turning back to a sprint for the first time, shippers, long layoff types, and so on. You really need a crystal ball on a day like this.

But I'm undaunted! I may come home broke, but go I must!

In that spirit, here are Professor Paulie's Perilous Picks for tomorrow's tricky card at Belmont Park:

1st race:
4 - Summer Share
2 - Separatist
8 - Hoist the Gala

2nd race:
1 - Star of New York
8 - Hot Minute
2 - Ryan and Jack

3rd race:
3 - All the Bases
5 - Bimini
2 - Charlott Humor

4th race:
1 - Super Child
6 - Gypsy Camp
5 - Purses and Shoes

5th race:
3 - Zapster
4 - Cause I Can
8 - Mississippi Hippie

6th race:
2 - Two Brash
3 - Flat Bold
6 - Top It

7th Race, The Man O' War, G1:
9 - Gio Ponti
7 - Midships
4 - Marsh Side

8th race:
7 - Canadian Ballet
3 - Meriwether Jessica
8 - Absolute Heaven

9th race:
2 - Livin Large
1 - Onzain
3 - Rock and Rune

10th race:
6 - Bartletts
1 - Suite Ernie B
8 - Wild Way

Tune in tomorrow night for results.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

"Poem in the American Manner," Dorthy Parker, 1922(?)

I dunno yer highfalutin' words, but here's th' way it seems
When I'm peekin' out th' winder o' my little House o' Dreams
I've been lookin' roun' this big ol' world, as bizzy as a hive,
An' I want t' tell ye, neighbor mine, it's good t' be alive.
I've ben settin' here, a-thinkin' hard, an' say, it seems t' me
That this big ol' world is jest about as good as it kin be,
With its starvin' little babies, an' its battles an' its strikes,
An' its profiteers an' hold-up men - th' dawggone little tykes!
An' its hungry men that fought fer us, that nobody employs.
An' I think, "Why shucks, we're jest a lot o' grown-up little boys!"
An' I settle back, an' light my pipe, an' reach fer Mother's hand,
An' I wouldn't swap my peace o' mind fer nothin' in the land;
Fer this world uv ours, that jest was made fer folks like me an' you
Is a purty good ol' place t' live - say neighbor, ain't it true?

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Younger Than Jesus: Party Like it's 1999

In the Hunter MFA program, there was an open-studio night toward the end of each semester; we would all throw open the doors to our spaces and show the world what we had been working on. It always had the atmosphere of a party as opposed to an art event, and it was always great fun.

At one such event in 1999, word starting spreading like wildfire that art impresario Jeffrey Deitch was cruising the studios. It was as thrilling as it was absurd that a high-power player like Deitch wanted to see what we were making. I was precisely the age of Jesus, at least as it's defined in the New Museum's "Younger Than Jesus: The Generational" press release.

What none of us knew at the time was that this was the beginning of a particular stage of the hedge-fund era of art collecting: The Time of the MFA's. Within months, major and minor dealers were trolling MFA and later BFA programs to scout out the latest, youngest, and hottest, showing them fresh out of school and sometimes while they were still in school. The prices they commanded were astounding, and the length of careers were often shockingly short. There were always more to fill the spots when a hot comer fizzled, often in a year or less.

Ten years on, the MFA look is somewhat difficult to describe but incredibly easy to recognize - as supreme court justice Potter Stewart said in reference to pornography: "I know it when I see it." It's quite multifarious, but will almost always have a few things from this list:

1. Painting and/or sculpture made poorly on purpose.

2. Pornography, often vintage or amateur, often featuring the artist.

3. Trash, often packaging from consumer items.

4. Hair and secretions, or things that look like them.

5. Organs and limbs, or things that look like them.

6. Appropriated imagery from art.

7. Appropriated imagery from pop culture.

8. Broken machinery, often computers or stereos.

9. Video.

10. Large photographs.

11. Pop music, 1970's to present.

12. Potty humor.

13. Installation, often made to look like low-budget television or film sets.

While this sounds like a wildly varied collection of stuff, it all tends comes together as quite homogeneous in a group scenario; maybe it's because I've been through the grad school experience and have seen it so many times. The artists in YTJ walk through the whole MFA playbook. I started writing a list of the artists in the show and matching the appropriate numbers from the above list, but it somehow seemed petty. If you're planning to visit the exhibition, though, I invite you to print out my list and take it along - I think you'll be surprised.

My wife pointed out that this exercise would hold for any period and style, and she makes a point. But I saw little in YTJ in which the aggregate of these attributes came together as something vastly larger than than the sum of the parts, which is the thing that would offer a defense against such a reductive method of taxonomy. And the omnipresent fig leaf of critique doesn't help much, either.

The MFA look seems to have waned a bit in the last couple of years, even before the hedge fund era abruptly drew to a close in fall of '08. The New Museum seems to have not gotten the memo, though, or maybe they began planning the show so long ago that it was too late to pull the plug. It's generally received a tepid response in the art press, and deservedly so. In it's incipient stages, the youth thing was synonymous with vitality and a close proximity to the zeitgeist. Now the look is a mannerism, and a tired one at that. The elephant in the room is that it wasn't all that great to begin with.

Feel free to take these comments with a grain of salt, though, they're coming from someone who is presently a full decade older than Jesus.