Saturday, February 13, 2016

Art and Short Stories By Adam Kluger

Adam Kluger is a New York City born street artist/photographer/painter/performance artist/playwright/filmmaker/writer. A direct descendant of famed British sculptor Jacob Epstein and a past art student of renowned artist, Ion Theodore, Kluger went to the same high school as Jack Kerouac, and spent some time studying the great artists throughout Europe before settling back in New York. He draws his inspiration from diverse sources that include Jean Dubuffet, Marc Chagall, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Andy Warhol, Bob Ross, Eric Payson and Pablo Picasso. “Whether I apply chromatic composition, an eclectic palette or color desaturation with my mixed media methods, makes less of a difference, than if the art object resonates with the viewer. It’s totally hit or miss and that’s what makes it so exciting to me,” says Kluger. “I adapt my painting style to the subject matter—and New York City has no shortage of fascinating subjects.

The Super Bowl Party
"You're coming to my Super Bowl Party, right?"
"Not sure a couple invites already."
"Dude, you got to many hot women...amazing food...all the weed you can smoke... there's the indoor pool...I'll pick you up and drive you back..."
Manfred Gogol always knew how to sell one of his parties.
Door to door service, a fully-stocked mansion on Long Island loaded with interesting people, beautiful women, all you could smoke or indoor pool and transportation back and forth.
He had me at hot women, of course.
What was interesting to imagine,  were the types of orgiastic bacchanals that took place at Casa De Gogol--twenty years before his family took over the sprawling compound off the Sound  from the estate of a deceased, world-famous athlete, who died tragically inside the house under mysterious circumstances.
The autopsy of the house's former owner ruled out foul play but no one knew for he had moved with a fast crowd and was always making headlines on Page Six with a conga line of models du jour and A-list celebrities. He had partied hearty and lived the very good life--as most athletes who are known to the public by simply a first name generally do-- and if the walls of Casa De Gogol could tell the tale, the soundtrack behind the narrative would be one of ecstatic moans on shag carpets and Seventies Disco and Funk in stereo surround sound. So, it was with a sense of higher purpose that Manfred Gogol, Art-World Bad Boy and son of a media mogul saw it as his birthright to throw extremely cool, off-the wall parties. The guest list would include a sprinkling of downtown chic and old-school power-players. Wall to wall women , homeboys, hangers-on and some mysterious characters who had back-stories way too long to tell here. Always, danger seemed to lurk around the corner whenever and wherever Gogol went--like a nuclear submarine breaking the surface of the ocean, there was an awesome and horrific quality to Gogol. He described the bizarre events that circled him throughout his life in a theory that he self-published as a 500 page manifesto called Paranormia. Black magic, voodoo, a spider's web of unlikely occurrences, call it what you will, but  Gogol was the sorcerer and anyone who tagged along for fun became an unknowing apprentice.
Such was the definitely case, in regards to a later incident that was to take place at Casa De Gogol to which I am now finally at liberty to discuss, after all these years. As for the Super Bowl Party part of the story, that was off the hizzy.  I was glad I had gone. I was younger at the time so I was up for any sort of action; good, bad or dangerous. Rochelle was known as The Violator--she definitely looked like Madonna and I was eager get some of that. We started chatting about music and other surface stuff as the hydroponic chronic hit us both at just the right time and then we started looking for a nearby bedroom. Of course, there were plenty of those to choose from.
Rochelle, worked at a music label  and  confessed that she was  into hot and heavy B&D sessions.  
“Let me see your tight little body you little bitch”, I  instructed her.  
Rochelle was dirty like Madonna is dirty with a hot body and a wild look in her eyes.  I pulled  Rochelle into what looked like an office and proceeded to take her t-shirt off…pull her shorts down and started to ravage her over the desk like a hungry wolf... I was going down on her when someone knocked on the door…
”what are you doing in my mom’s office? ”
“Uh, we'll be out in a sec...”, I choked out and scrambled to my feet.
" no one is supposed to go in there, Dude...move it somewhere else"
It was Gogol and he sounded pissed and he rarely got pissed about anything.
Rochelle and I never finished what we started but we made a plan to hook up in the city and quickly snuck  back outside to the party.  
Gogol gave me a look.
"What happened to you?”  
”Just finding out stuff about the music business”
”yeah, I bet you did....hey, my mom doesn't like anyone in that office...comprende?"
"Got it now...sorry bro. Won't happen again."
"Ok, cool."
As I walked away from Gogol I noticed a sketchy looking  bald man staring at me intently. I asked Gogol who he was. "Oh that's Boris" He's does maintenance on my Dad's boat and other construction stuff around the house. He took me to little Odessa for a schvitz a couple weeks back it was crazy there. He's a super cool guy...loves boxing... big time gambler.
"Oh great."
"Yeah, he's got 10 G's on the game."
That's some serious cheddar."
"Ya think? ...speaking of cheese--let's go smoke some stinky cheese and watch the second half"
"Sounds like a plan."
It was a late night that moved to the indoor pool and into the early morning the game was a blowout and so was the party. I got my ride back the next morning and my boring life carried on.
I guess you probably want to know if Rochelle and I ever ended up violating each other. Well, a gentleman never tells and since I'm no gentleman.  Yes, we shared a couple of hot and heavy sessions way too dirty to write about here --but I am very grateful to her for the memories, certainly.
So, when Gogol one day invited me to a weekend pool party at the Mansion a couple months later and told me the The Violator was gonna be there and was hoping I was going show up too- I circled the date.   As luck would have it--and when I say luck I mean bad luck... I ate a bagel with cream cheese that had been sitting in the sun for hours at a brunch the day before the big pool party and I spent the day of the pool party stuck in my apartment with an awful case of food poisoning. If you've never had food poisoning, trust me, it sucks.
Anyhow, not only did I miss out on Rochelle --I also missed all the drama. The Police. The Robbery. The Jewel Heist.
The details I got the next day from Gogol were scant and fuzzy. He was leaving town immediately for the West Coast. He would be gone for a month unless called back for additional questioning. None of his "friends" at the party knew anything. The police were trying to figure out who had broken into the safe in Gogol's mom's office and had stolen a diamond necklace, earrings and other jewelry worth half a million dollars. Was it insured? Who was in the house? Was there any video surveillance? Was Gogol really a suspect? Immediately, I had a sense of who it could be. I told Gogol on the phone and he told me that I was way off base and that we'd catch up on his return.
The consequences and memory of that robbery eventually disappeared into the ether like all Gogol stories and legends--making one wonder if it actually ever happened at all. You hung around Gogol long enough you also started to wonder if you were simply a random pawn on an other-worldly chess board or one of the many disparate strands that he seemed to dream-weave together at whim.  Strange events would happen all the time around Gogol like killer bees swarming around a patch of Tiger Lilies. It was just the nature of things.
It wasn't until 15 years later --well after Casa De Gogol had been sold off, during the first recession, for a ridiculous amount of money...that I finally got Gogol to address the subject of The Robbery at the Pool Party over an iced coffee at Starbucks.
"It was Boris all along wasn't it--he had been casing the place just like I said, right?"

Gogol gave me an inscrutable smile and said simply in his best Russian accent, "I don't know nothing about dat--all I know is dat the vuckin  insurance covered it --and dat some types of people you just don't mess vit , even ven cops are involved....if you get my drift."   

"Streetwalkers," B/W photograph of acrylic painting by Adam Kluger

Sebastian Clipperton passed the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Water Spray on a picturesque pre-Winter morning. Might as well go for another lap round the Reservoir. Too nice not to.
Still no sign of Veruschka, the wild Russian trainer he used to run with for so many years. It had been forever since he had seen her. Hopefully, she was ok.
Boy, she was a pistol alright. She could sure make those runs went faster that's for sure-- by jabbering incessantly over annoying clients and the various odd-jobs she worked-- and she always punctuated her stories with her peculiar Woody Woodpecker-type laugh; "ha-ha-ha-ha-ha... "
She was a part-time masseuse who ran into her fair share of celebrities looking for "happy endings." She was a trained martial artist with a purple belt and was always getting into crazy fights with her boyfriends, neighbors and landlords that would usually end up involving the Po-Po. She was a part-time fitness model and the other girls were always "jealous" of her --and that always led to bizarre cat-fights. Veruschka was always getting invited by wealthy businessmen to sporting events all around the world leading one to wonder what other odd-jobs or skills she had possibly mastered.
Sebastian and his pals were no strangers to odd-jobs over the years either. Sebastian was a late night manager at a Dunkin Donuts, he had painted houses, washed dishes, cleaned toilets, was once a soccer instructor, he had sold fancy chocolates, and even cantaloupes to blue haired grandmas. His best friend Moose had once worked with Eskimos at a fish cannery in Alaska gutting salmon on 20 hour shifts. That one always sounded like a pretty tough gig, that would, of course, get further embellished upon by Moose over the years.  Then there was Sebastian's pal Manfred, an artist, of sorts, who always hung out with a wack-pack crew including one weed dealer who referred to himself as, "The Doctor." Wherever he went to deliver his wares, this college-aged peddler proudly proclaimed, "I'm the Doctor...and I've got whatever you need for whatever ails you...just call me and I'll make a house call rain or shine...with my trusty backpack." Sebastian understood all about the importance of branding from his advertising job but for the life of him, he couldn't understand why "The Doctor" made such a big show about what he did and his nickname, when most folks in that profession usually preferred to maintain a low profile and operate in stealth mode. Sebastian guessed that times were tough all around--even for pot dealers-- and that sometimes you just got to advertise.
Veruschka was tough like the times. Tough as steel. She was a volunteer firewoman and saved people from fires. After 9-11 she switched to working as an EMT. She was definitely an adrenaline junkie. One weekend she would be jumping from airplanes another weekend she would be climbing ruins in Machu Pichu. And she always had a camera with her to capture everything.
She could do it all and she could talk, boy could she talk and talk. And before you knew it the run was done. She was also a beast in the weight room too. Before the hour was over you'd be wearing a drenched T-shirt every time.  Sebastian liked the novelty of having a female trainer and he had to admit that Veruschka was definitely one of the most unusual people he had ever met.
Veruschka loved animals more than people it seemed. People were stupid. She had a million sayings that  seemed to be pieced together from listening to self-help tapes or reading proverbs in the local church.  She was always meeting random people around the city and was very connected to the street--that's just who she was-- a paper bag being constantly knocked in different directions by the wind.
Either way, as things eventually do. The training sessions kind of ran their course and that was that.
Veruschka lived in Brooklyn, although she moved around quite a bit due to the drama that constantly swirled around her. She had a darkness around the edges too.
Whether it was close friends lost to 9-11 or a litany of clients who would drop dead suddenly of heart attacks; disaster or death always seemed to follow her orbit.
Sebastian sensed that one day he might somehow join that list too.
Instead, he rounded the corner past the tennis courts, and looked to his left at the mallards sleeping peacefully atop the Reservoir's placid surface and he smiled as he remembered that one time a couple years ago when he and Veruschka stopped running completely, as they spotted a little turtle swimming about all by itself.
"Look...look at the little turtle...can you believe it?"
"That's pretty cool", Sebastian had replied.
"Wait one second...I got to take a picture of this...that little turtle is just like me ...swimming free... all by itself ...all alone...hi, little turtle...ha-ha-ha-ha-ha... "

"Ziggy the Puppy," acrylic paint by Adam Kluger