Saturday, September 5, 2009


"So this is reality too, come in
And now you're here. All swept
up for you the floor shiny
and our wonderful pet, the
antelope clatters its little hooves
on the floor to eat from your
hand. All the pictures
you love on the walls and
your favorite books read
themselves aloud. And you
can leave if you want to, just
turn the page or have the kids
come over for cake, little Louie
from downstairs, he likes you
so much he brings his friends
too, the twelve year old girl,
She loves it here. We give her
shiny hair and crackling
petticoats. It's always
just after school and
just before supper. The
flower in the flowerpot smiles
all day in the sunshine
and waves its little
leaves when you come home. Such
a bright yellow floor and
such a big cozy bed
It says Hey Get Up or
You've got a temperature or
Stay here with me
let's watch TV all day.
Sometimes there's a moon
when we're alone but
it's always the grinning
kind that hangs from a
thin wire. Oh yeah, the
stars have five neat points
The coffee pot giggles and
the dishes wash themselves with
their little rubber gloves
squealing and laughing.
You have that effect on things
and even the bathroom,
so often left out of things,
is happy, when you're

[Rene Ricard. The poem's not really representative, or it is, of the whole of this little book, which continues to be one of my favorite books of poetry ever, despite or because of its many instances of failure and inexcellence, whatever that means. (Here's another poem: "I am young / And I am beautiful / And I will fuck you / Over just like everybody else"). It is a perfect book. I not so long ago drunkenly described Rene Ricard to a roomful of people, who would know of the writing of the one but not the other, as the poor man's Frank O'Hara. Possibly others have said that before me, or more interestingly. RR is famous for making (or thinking he made) Jean-Michel Basquiat famous, as you know from the film. Here is his 1981 Artforum piece on Basquiat, The Radiant Child. Here is a curious two-decades-on look-back at that famous essay, by Bruce Hainley, from 2001. Both restore me to thinking about, towards the end of my vacation, a question that continues to be a point of investigation for me (& my colleagues) regarding the SFMOMA blog---especially given the collapse of print media and the strange new requirements or possibilities for institutional, grant-funded publishing apparatus like, say, a museum blog. How, and who should, write about art? For whom? On a museum blog? (Clearly I already have very specific ideas about that. Getting a bit weary of the daily battle-for-its-existence, however.) Here is a five-minute interview with RR. On another note, I have a mental tic whereby whenever I think of Julian Schnabel I sort of think of Stephen Rodefer and vice versa, it's the pjs thing.]


rodney k said...

Hi Suzanne,

I had no idea you were an RR person! I discovered him from the film (like I'm sure many discover artists in the SFMOMA from the blog.) Found this book two years ago in a store for a bargain price, now after reading this can't find it on the shelves. But it was really the film--that Civil War cap--that made me pick up the book. Now it's your post that'll make me really read it.

Can't believe you're having to fight for the life of the SFMOMA blog. It's the greatest thing the museum's done since commissioning Botta (and surely much cheaper.) One of its great revelations is how many people do write, comment on, and care about the art inside its walls, many more ages and walks of life than I would've guessed from the Official Organs. Good luck.

P.S. What's pjs?

suzanne said...

Hi Rodney, & I hope you find your copy of the book and would be so interested to know what you make of it---

PJs: literally. Pajamas. Maybe I'll change the text above.

and, as always, thank you so much for your support of Open Space---what I have to fight for is to keep it operating with the degree of openness and transparency it does, and for the harriet-style editorial free zone, and to keep widening, deepening its reach and content, and to keep experimenting even while it gets more and more visible, defending individual posts (and their authors) from (sometimes rightly) agitated curators, being grateful to the PR department when they take deep breath and look the other way when we totally fuck up, and also keeping PR dept mitts and voice off of the thing, while trying to do justice to internal programming but not cheerlead, etc. Institutions! Cripes. Museums aren't in the jump-off-cliff-see-if-it-flies business. They're usually in the tried-and-true. Mostly the blog is well-supported but you'd be surprised the kinds of issues I have to go to the table for. It's amusing. Or it would be, if it weren't so tiring.

Anyway, you're a wonderful champion of it and I really appreciate the feedback.Makes it worth the effort, etc.


j said...

In 1984 or so I was giving a reading on WNUR and I played "Rene Ricard Famous at Twenty" from a Giorno Poetry Systems album because it was, at that moment, the greatest thing ever.