A Bad Day for Bohemians
Not one but two of my favorite oddball artists died today, and I just want to note their passing in the same paragraph because in my mind they belong there. One was the guy in Allen Ginsberg's "Howl" who jumped off the Brooklyn Bridge and walked away unknown and forgotten into Chinatown soup alleys not even one free beer, the other worked most of his life as a file clerk in a Cleveland VA hospital. Both were Jewish curmudgeons with Orthodox backgrounds, though the file clerk was more curmudgeonly. Both made accessible art that defied category and has always seemed to me more substantial and moving than a lot of what gets taught in school and bruited in avant-garde circles. I give you Tuli Kupferberg: Fug, parodist in the literal sense, perverb writer, collector of celebrity baby pictures and New York Times atrocities, creator of the immortal found comedy album No Deposit, No Return, dead at 86. And I give you Harvey Pekar: jazz critic and collector, David Letterman fave, and writer-never-illustrator of the great comic book American Splendor, dead at 70. May their names live on longer than those of William Gass and William Gaddis both. I know, let 100 flowers bloom--even 1000. But when it comes to art, 1000 isn't all that many.
By Art Trip on July 13, 2010 5:54 AM
With the rise of the hipster artist, God bless the bohemians!
By J.D. Considine on July 13, 2010 7:42 PM
Thank you, Bob, for recognizing the sweetness in their work, and making it the heart of your tribute. 1000 flowers isn't enough, but we can pretend it is.
By mike on July 29, 2010 3:37 AM
nice send off Mr. Christgau. I must confess both artists were before my time but I know they meant a lot to lots ofpeople.
this might sound cheeky and out of leftfield but i was reading thrugh your album ratings at your main site, but could not find a grading for Kanye West's Late Registration. I know you gave it a positive review in a piece but was just wondering whether it was an A grade or A plus grade.
By Darian on July 31, 2010 1:48 PM
But you gotta admit, man, The Recognitions was pretty cool.