Wednesday, January 28, 2015



The DAILY BEAST internet headline is "Catskills Gets it's Groove Back, With Brooklyn's Help". I'm such a sucker for this shit, immediately clicking on it. It's the usual. The Catskills are on everyone's tip. The young, good looking, "hipster" who wrote the piece said nothing new, except basically giving credit for the "leg up" to "Brooklyn". And by that, he meant "hipster Brooklyn", completely ignoring Hassidic Brooklyn. Huh?
    Hassidim has been in the 'skills almost as long as the Osterhouts. That said, I'm probably the first generation to interact with the other tribe. The GOD LOVES FAGS sign is in english and Hebrew. And after 20 years on the mountain, owning both a church and a synagogue, I've had my share of interactions. And I must say, they've all been cordial and kinda fun. I fuck with the rabbis and they fuck right back with me. Once, when swastikas appeared at the local elementary school, I went investigating. With luck I got to talk to the district superintendent. I introduced myself as a "Jewish" writer and wanted to find out just what the climate was in school regarding the recent spray painting? She looked me up and down and replied "Funny. You don't look like a writer."

   Let me tell you another story. On the weekend I agreed to help photog Marianna Louise with a little location shoot. I know plenty of tumble down, abandoned bungalows on back roads. Her boyfriend Horst and I set up some old chairs in the snow, while ML set up her shot. Just before she was ready to click the remote, a car pulled up. A small blonde woman got out screaming. "YOU CAN'T BE IN THERE. YOU'RE BLOCKING THE ROAD! (we weren't) I'M CALLING THE COPS!" As I was trudging up the bank, in the snow, to calm this nut down, her husband got out of the car. He was much bigger and just as loud."GET OUT OF HERE........NOW!" he yelled, as he took pictures of my license plate. I tried to explain our innocent, artistic between asking him "Why the fuck do you care?" and telling him to go fuck himself. What was my point?
   Oh yeah. The Hassidic landlords in Brooklyn have driven out the hipsters with high rent and now they are about to join them, along with the Hillbilly, Black Mayor of Monticello in Jail, casinos coming, thanks for helping us get our groove back, foray that we call home. DON'T BELIEVE THE HYPE. THERE IS NOT A MICRO-BREW ON EVERY CORNER. It's still a struggle up here. That's not to say we can't use a little influx of hipstercash. FYI- your landlord in Brooklyn may be your neighbor up here. And he's gotta be home by sunset on Friday. Be forewarned. All in all I think it's good y'all are coming.  Welcome to the neighborhood. Just watch where you point your camera.  

Friday, January 16, 2015




I'm emailing back and forth with my friend and regular HWS contributor Marianna Rothen. We're discussing plans to do a shoot up here this weekend. I've been able to supply many of my photog-friends with locations for years now. I guess it started with Richard Kern, when i still owned THE OLD SCHOOL FOR SOCIAL SCULPTURE. That place was a 1950's hunting camp time-capsule that I pretty much left as is after purchasing it from my old-timer neighbors Bill and Gladys. Even a well heeled LA installation artist could never have replicated the cheese. Everybody looked good there- esp. nakid girls.
    Over the years i met more photographers, as Kern's globe trotting search for the young and hot took off. Marianna Rothen is one of my favorites. "You know it's fuuuuucking cold up here?" I warn her, knowing someone will inevitably be disrobed for the shot. "No problem." she replies "H&M at your house." Not only do I not have a cell phone, I've never sent a text in my life. Aside from lol,omg,wtf, and iff, I don't know the code. "I'm stupid." I inform my young friend "What's h&m?" The email I got back explains it all. "Hugs and money."

    A couple of years ago, in the throes a predictable run of extreme artfaggery (caring about my career) I contacted an old friend whose career had recently exploded. "He's printing money." a mutual buddy told me. So I shot off an email asking who I had to blow in order to get what he was getting- C&F: collected and flush?
Much to his credit he called me back and ran it down for me- "Align yourself with younger artists, esp. the more successful ones." I told him that i knew a couple, but probably not enough to give me any cred. "Do a book." he also suggested "Put it out there without expecting anything back. You have to say "Fuck you. I'm Mark Flood."
   So I took him at his word. I put out a book. I didn't expect anything back. I got a lecture gig in SF. I tried to make younger artist friends, but that's touchy business. You can't let them know you want to exploit their friendship to somehow boost your lousy career. Like all relationships, it takes time. Tick-fucking-tock. So in the meantime I have to be satisfied helping out Marianna as much as i can. She has a show coming up at KASHER/POTAMKIN opening on Thurs. 6-8pm. She's great! You better buy her photos before they go through the roof. And they will. H&M.    

Tuesday, January 13, 2015




One of my old friends (who happens to be a good artist) was leaving a fancy Xmas party given by the famous photographer Cindy Sherman, with her husband and kids, a couple of years ago. After an evening of drinks and fancy finger food, served on silver trays, by hired servants, her young son asked just what it was Ms. Sherman did? "She's an artist." my friend answered nonchalantly. The boy was confused. "But mom..." he whispered in the elevator "I thought that's what you were."

    The gap between successful artists and those who just identify themselves as an "artist" is growing as fast as the abyss between the rich and the poor. I don't know if there was ever anything like an artistic middle class in this country, but I sure know there isn't now. Maybe there was one for mural painters in the '40's. But that was a long time ago. These days you either have representation, a market, collectors.....or you don't. Then you either have a teaching job, work the museum, public art or biennale circuit...or you're on your own. Then it's the front yard and facebook. Lame huh?
    I know how pitiful I am in many ways. I hear the whispers: "Is he for real?" If I only had a nickel for every time I've heard that. So much of being an artist is keeping your self-identity. It can slip away without you even realizing it. Without a sale, or a show, or some press your self esteem heads right for the dumper. Hell, at least actors can take bad parts or musicians can play lame gigs. You can still be a pro. Visual artists just have to be satisfied with the latest piece and move on. I never use the term professional artist. That would really be stretching the truth. Why not quit? You say. Ha. That's a good one.
   Je suis that artist riding the elevator down to the lobby, after the fancy party, a little boy tugging at my pant leg. "Yeah kid. I'm just jealous. It's my art." That elevator is quite crowded. If I had any idea how to get off on a different floor I'd press the button.  

Saturday, January 10, 2015