#15

Juliana Vargas
And In The Gloom

Smoked air
Smells of burning maple
Leaves at my feet
Air so crisp
Nose red as apples

And in the gloom
I walk with no protection
Feeling the cold
Through my hot
Tears
Streaming
Down numb cheeks

The beauty of this fall
Echoes the beauty of loss
Memories created
Retrospectives of love
Life is a series of clippings
Safely tucked away

Now there is no us
Walking through these streets
Under naked trees
Like old withered
Sentinels
Bearing witness

There is me
I stroll alone
Surely not forgotten
I see you pass
Recognition in your eyes
I lower my head and smile
Avoiding your wave

And in the gloom
I revel in the beauty of loss
Wait
For spring
And new beginnings

 

 

Anthony Liccione
lets

lets live
lets love
lets live to love
lets love to live
lets lie
lets live a life
lets live a lie
lets live to love
a lie
lets lie to love
to live
lets live less
love less
lie less
lets live
in a loveless
lie
let us
be lie ve
in a lie
that lives
to haunt us

lets leave
lies at
the door
of love,

live
and let
live

 

 

Flash Clark
Saturday Night Haiku on Thursday

As I surf for porn
I hear my neighbor fucking-
she is so lucky.

 

 

Greg Oguss
‘Bit o’ Bobbitt’ by Lorena X
At the J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center
“Spotlight on Young Radical Artists in L.A.” (12/07)

Currently showing at the Getty Center as a part of their monthly series “Spotlight on Young Radical Artists in L.A.” is an interesting installation by a feminist artist whose work, I confess, I have been unfamiliar with up until this point. At least her gallery work, as far as I know. As a public figure, she has taken the suggestive pseudonym “Lorena X,” and her installation at the Getty Center is, quite simply, the latest “must-see” art piece produced by a talented crop of emerging Los Angeles artists. Emerging with some help from the Getty Center and their monthly series this past year. Ms. X’s installation is titled “A Bit o’ Bobbitt,” and, briefly, here is what I have gleaned about it from my first encounter with her talent:
It’s situated—to be “site-specific” about this—in a small corner of what is not an overly large room. Located near the entrance to the Getty Center’s constantly-rotating permanent collection but not a part of part of the permanent collection, per se. Consequently, the installation by Lorena X stands out, irrefutably so. The curator has done good work here. No doubt, many of you are aware of the curatorial talents of Ms. Diane Micklewright and the groundbreaking work she has done to highlight the best young artists of Los Angeles over these last eight months at the Getty Center—be it a single painting, a small sculpture, a work of digital art, or a modest architectural design/model, etc. This month, however, Lorena X, a virtual unknown in the L.A. arts community, has brought a strikingly bold vision to this wonderful series. Her installation might be termed emblematic of “the earth shattered by conflict,” as Daniel Libeskind famously said of his own architecture. Lorena X is not an architect like Libeskind, though, let alone a world-famous one with a closet full of international awards, who has racked up a string of multi-million dollar commissions. As I said, she is a virtual unknown and seems to prefer anonymity to wealth and acclaim. Is she the famous headline-grabbing Lorena Bobbitt of the early 1990s? Or is she merely taking this pseudonym as feminist act of sisterhood? More on this later. A fuller description of “Bit o’ Bobbitt” seems in order.
Much more than another tiresome variation on Andres Serrano’s notorious and itself somewhat simple-minded “Piss Christ” (1987) sits atop a single featureless black platform at the center of the installation. This is not any straight-forward attack on Catholic dogma that Lorena X has in mind. Indeed, it is what appears to be a ‘bit o’ Bobbitt’ floating in the brownish colored muck which fills a test-tube mounted on top of that pitch-black phallic platform jutting up in the center of the installation. At any rate, it is a remarkable instance of mimesis: a near-perfect referent to the historical occurrence of John Wayne Bobbitt’s famous half-castrated penis. Could it possibly have been the Bobbitt penis? We’ll get to that soon, enough, too. The space is lit from above with randomly flashing dusky red lights, perhaps a bit too blatantly suggestive of the bloodbath at the crime scene to which the title of the piece refers. This may be the single flaw in Lorena X’s fine installation. Finally, there are scores of dildoes (some double-ended), ben-wa balls, anal beads, knives, and even a few Cabbage Patch dolls suspended by wires from the ceiling in a sinister, fun-house mirror reflection of the benign mobiles featured in the Getty’s hugely popular “Devices of Wonder: From the World in a Box to Images on a Screen” exhibit on the history of visual culture several years ago (November 2001-February 2002). I do not believe this month-long installation will prove to be as popular with Getty Center patrons. But Lorena X may be the most important feminist artist to appear on the West Coast in a long time in this “post-feminist” era.
At this point, Lorena X appears to be consciously playing up her status as a figure of mystery and intrigue. She has, to this author’s knowledge, never been photographed in public, and she never gives interviews. I have not been able to track her down despite exhaustive efforts, and I can find no one in the L.A. underground art scene who will admit to knowing or having met her. Even the Getty is “sworn to secrecy” regarding how they were informed of Ms. X and her work. She’s sort of the “J.T. Leroy” of the Los Angeles art world. Except that she actually constructs her own installations (as far as I know). And her art is strangely compelling.
The one person I did manage to track down related to this story is John Wayne Bobbitt himself. In vain, I searched for Lorena Bobbitt, but the trail ended near her hometown of Manassas, Virginia, where the famous “castration” and subsequent trial occurred (she was acquitted on all counts). In the mid-90s, she was working as a hair-dresser and living with her mom in Virginia when she simply “disappeared” into the pages of history. No doubt, Lorena X knows of this historical disappearance and that is another reason for her calculated Warhol-like mask of inscrutability, her riddles of enigma, her utter silence, which she has given a contemporary feminist twist. One could recall Susan Sontag’s cautionary 1964 plea “Against Interpretation” in Art criticism. Or perhaps Lorena X simply really is…?
Bobbitt was “a bit” easier to locate. He made some money in the 1990s starring in porn films—one wonders what a Lorena X-directed porn film starring John Wayne Bobbitt might look like?—then Bobbitt was an executive in a porn distribution company briefly. Today, he is living in Nevada. And this may sound hard to swallow, but he is now a minister in a popular Baptist church that is 1000 members strong and growing. I made the short drive out to Vegas, won a little money at the Luxor at blackjack, and he seemed quite happy to meet me at his house for a short interview when I called him from my hotel room (yes, his number is listed).

“Minister” Bobbitt answered the door himself, casually dressed in jeans and an open-necked flannel shirt. He was home alone and had a football game on television, as I recall. I was in my usual moccasins, Khakis, with an argyle shirt worn over a long-sleeve Ralph Lauren. It was uncomfortably warm that afternoon in Vegas, and I’d overdressed for the interview, as usual. But Bobbitt politely invited me in and things started off well enough. He turned off the TV. Offered me a can of beer (he was drinking one). I said, “No thanks.” I mentioned who I was, what I did for a “living,” and why I’d came to see him. Things began to get confused, all garbled. Maybe I garbled them myself. I don’t know. Maybe I should have accepted that beer.
“You’re a friend of Lorena’s?” he finally spit out, almost spurting beer through his nose. He burst into a coughing fit.
“Er, no, not your wife…” I began, once he coughed out most of the beer from his lungs. “I…I’m not sure.” I paused, unsure. “That’s why I came.” Another awkward pause. “This is uncomfortable…”
“What the fuck?” Bobbitt asked me, growing impatient.
“I read they sewed it back on, that’s why I came,” I blurted finally, my voice rising. But it was a relief just the same.
He glared at me.
“Did they?” I asked, my voice lowering a few octaves. Calmer now that I’d gotten it out.
He kept glaring.
“Can I see it?”
I moved toward him; acting under some kind of compulsion, I could no longer control my words or actions. I think my arm was moving toward his jean-covered crotch. Bobbitt was backing away quickly, frightened. Then he grabbed something—a metal poker leaning against the fireplace–and started swinging. Now advancing toward me.
I moved back fast, heading for the door.
“What-do-you-think-of-feminist-art?!” I shouted at “Minister” Bobbitt over my shoulder, one hand covering my head, the other grabbing for the front door-knob…
Well, obviously, I escaped with my head and my life intact. Beyond that, my “pilgrimage” to the home of John Wayne Bobbitt, named after the “greatest” cowboy hero in all of Hollywood films—when history laughs at you, it laughs long and hard—it didn’t teach me anything about who Lorena X is. About whether or not John Bobbitt’s “castration” had any effect on him. As for his recent “conversion” to popular Baptist preacher, that is one can of worms I will leave to a more astute cultural commentator than myself. Nonetheless, where any new artist’s career will lead is always a mystery—for critic and artist alike. In the case of Lorena X, that’s a mystery I will stay tuned to watch. As was once written about another talent at an early stage of their development, “The spirit of art wanders where it will.”

 

 

Adam “Bucho” Rodenberger
Why People Scream Fire Instead of Rape

Sensationalism at its best…
a creepy clamor for the shot
of Pulitzer standing,
the help held back at bay
putting first aid in second place
behind the picture
to hang above the mantel,
a great marlin of the desert.

Her brother lost his arm,
she’s lucky to have both cheeks
and the shrapnel smokes
through dusty soil
thick-caked on everything
and muddying tears before they start.
Make sure to clean your lenses;
you won’t wanna miss this shot.

Click-boom people shudder
click, click camera shutter
and no one seems to get it.
Fire is much more interesting
than admitting worse is happening.

 

 

Joseph Goosey
Back into the ocean

But what is dancing
when the music seems
to have wagged its way
back
into the ocean?

The noises
will not
be heard
here.

meep
and
mop.

geep
and
goop.

Let me tell you, friend-

Blood
on
a white
sheet
has never
been
missed
as much
as
right now
as the
sun does
not
rise.

 

 

Cat
The last on a familiar topic

he’s mouthing her
japanese death senryu’s
over an irish punk cover
of “this charming man”
and that is what “i love you” means
to their peculiar
dichotomy. and she’s arching
against his brain,
and the color of his skin
and his olive vodka breath. and he’s ignoring her
bicep straddling
breasts. and fondling his credit
card. and eyefucking
the barcardi
lactating hostess. biting his time
until she
forces his hand
off his ego
and does it
herself.

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