last night i was kidnapped by a midget driving an alpha spyder veloce

He bound me to secrecy – I talked most of the time we raced around the west side. Telling stories of my own past of crashing hotel penthouses, joy riding and lounging in pricey boutiques as though I belonged.

The Twisted Midget looked like a spy from the South China Sea, he claimed to be an artist- but I hear all the cool young CIA operatives are claiming to be artists nowadays. We went in search of celebrity prey- camera fodder- aquarium flakes for paparazzi-flash fish.

We strapped ourselves into a famous black roadster and departed the Clean Cave, his darksome underground motor port. Soon we were roaring west on Melrose: him with his camera at the ready and me double-clutching, stomping the accelerator and gripping the wheel like a madman- Morton Keepsneak, captive, collaborator, midget-artist-spy, joint seeker(s) on this day for decisive moments when the stars align… with his lens.

Our Twisted Midget hero’s forbears (above)

While it wasn’t quite Pretty Woman, still at one point Richard Gere commented to me, “Wasn’t it Donald Duck? And weren’t you at that party at Cap Ferrat? This is where I’ll be for the next three months- I ate my lunch in 5 minutes: two egg yolks and a protein pill. I hear the pool boy…”

Teena Marie was on repeat all through the party (or was it recycle?) and Richard and Julia danced… no pictures, please. Let the lady have some space…

“Mine is bigger than yours,” the guy with the big flash challenged an i-Phone wielder.

We stopped first at Rodeo and strode, stalked and sauntered along a path from Missoni to where Giorgio used to be then back again. We veered to visit Larry at his lair on Camden but being Monday and not being as cool nor as brave as we might we choose not to pursue a visit and gazed instead at Therrien’s work through the expansive street windows. I missed the drawings, which have been recommended by many whom I trust as being among the things to see this season.

The Beverly Wilshire welcomed us with open arms, champagne cocktails and hand-rolled cigarets. Hernando Courtright himself might have orchestrated our welcome. Although my midget friend is unknown to many, in these elevated circles his presence is felt to be necessary and his attention is cultivated. (Our Spy stopped the eager staff from doing as they did when Queen Beatrix visited and scattering daisies in our path along Wilshire Boulevard.)

Mystery surrounds him, “How do I get on his list?,” starlets wonder, and budding heartthrobs beg him to point his camera their way if only once. For this is what it takes in a shallow, insecure town where the signifier of a good image, especially one with legendary associations, is currency, is ne plus ultra, is one’s calling card to fame.

At Maxfield’s we chatted with Miley Cyrus- she picked out a charming $13,500 hand bag but forgot her little dog when she left. Poor thing.

Miley’s Prius is so last year, isn’t it?


We spoke of art and of artists, historical and present, of Cartier-Bresson, Atget, Weegee, Nan Goldin. We pondered the advantages and disadvantages of photographing another culture and photographing within one’s own. Lighting a cigaret and inhaling deeply he said, “Always be present, I tell myself. Go out, put my face in, take my camera, watch for Cartier-Bresson’s ‘decisive moment’ (as an accident of photographic capture) and recognize its companionship with Barthes’ ‘punctum.'” Photography is like life in this way, being there is half the battle.

And then we saw Arnold and forgot all about our commitment to higher culture. (Or perhaps we didn’t. Perhaps this Spy’s approach to celebrity is an allegory and the actions he takes- his manner of engaging with this other culture- these tell a story about one’s relationship to the art world, too. I have seen art about art that is a lot less interesting than this and I have rarely spent a more engaging afternoon than this one, driving through all the various Golden Gulch’s and Platinum Triangles in El Lay, scoping out stars, scheming break-ins, talking and sharing an experience. I wonder if art can be like this- a one on one thing? I think that it always is, but rarely this clearly and with this much generosity and joie de’ vivre.


All but the top image by Calvin Lee. Alpha image by yours truly. Hey – one more time:

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