Arriving in New York..

Arriving in America properly was delayed by the zealousness of the US Immigration service who decided to send me into a small over crowded room to await review. From out flight there was only a black man with dreadlocks, a white guy who turned out to be an actuary and me. Most of the people in the room seemed to be older ladies from Eastern Europe who shared hairstyles and taste in clothes with my mother-in-law. My wife who retained the right to wait with me while I was reviewed said it was probably because in my passport photo I look a) very dark-skinned and b) more importantly, like a serious jihadist. I can kinda see what she means by the photo but I suspect it was the fumes from the unlikely cocktail of beer, wines red and white, bloody mary, beer and brandy that I unwittingly breathed all over the immigration lady while I was being electronically finger-printed that set the alarm bells ringing. The room reminded me most of the dole office in Birmingham where I used to sign on as a teenager. But here they had guns and were more smartly turned out. They seemed to really buy into the idea that they're protecting the homeland. Anyway, once they'd reviewed my case I was allowed to leave without questioning so I never found out what the problem was.
The thing that I noticed first is that Yellow taxis don't look like they used to - but it is 18 years since I last came to New York. Instead of the menacing death machines of Travis Bickle they look like a cab would in a Disney film.

Things done so far: ate in the diner round the corner (twice); hung out in Central Park (twice); Frick collection (twice - once to see in they had cafe only); tea from place on corner (twice); Bloomingdales; Pylones; walked around a lot.
I kept seeing the Frick in NY's best kept secret-type lists so it obviously isn't that much of a secret. It is an amazing collection amassed at the start of the 20th century by old man Frick (aka "The most hated man in America"). For your money ($15) you get an amazing Bellini, an amazing Duccio, Cimabue, a couple of very good El Grecos, two excellent Holbeins, a couple of Titians, a very nice Ingres, a great Velazquez and others I've forgotten.


Unité d'Habitation, Marseille

This is part of a series of pictures of Le Corbusier's Unité d'Habitation in the south of France. I made my family visit Marseille specifically so I could go and see it. I first saw it in slides as an 18 year-old on an art history A level course in Birmingham. It's the sort of thing you don't forget. Years later I got to live in Trellick Tower for a year due to the kindness of Chris Collins. Not the same but not bad. Maybe tower blocks need sunshine to fully work.


George Bowbrick aka Warren Mitchell in The Saint

I was watching The Saint on itv.com as you do when you're writing the entire copy for a website that hasn't been built yet - maybe you don't but hey, I don't go around criticising your working methods - and came across a bit that made me go 'Fuck me' (as you do when you're watching old episodes of things with Roger Moore in). It was an episode called The Charitable Contessa and although set in Rome was patently shot in the same place as all the other epsiodes (somewhere in West London I suspect) and had a cast of kids and British actors playing Italians with duff accents. My favourite (so far, I'm only halfway through the ep) is Warren Mitchell playing an Italian taxi driver called Marco de Cesari. With a name like that he could also be the hero of a very steamy Mills and Boon. That's Warren in the picture above. But more than that my very first thought was 'Fuck me doesn't that Italian taxi driver look like Steve's dad'. Then I thought 'Oh. It's Warren Mitchell.' Anyway, I've been thinking about George (Steve's dad) because I'd been looking at pictures of his much belated funeral on Flickr recently. Anyway, I guess I'm writing this all here because for every story you ever told George he always had one to tell back at you.

This one's for George Bowbrick aka Warren Mitchell aka Marco de Cesari.


Richard Prince at the Serpentine

In keeping with tradition we go to see a show that's been on for months on the final weekend. I love Richard Prince but the show is disappointing. There isn't enough work for a start and what's in there is pretty patchy and tries to explain the Prince phenomena within the traditional language of art production, namely a selection of different pieces from different bodies of work. I saw some of the nurse paintings at Sadie Coles in 2003 as well as the earlier Publicities and one of the things that struck me is Prince isn't simply about appropriation but about serial appropriation. He doesn't just borrow something the once, he borrows it over and over again which makes the impact all the greater. Publicities in particular is for me an archetypal Prince show - he does almost nothing that sits in the realm of what we still think an artist does: he chooses some pictures from his own stash, has them framed and in a few cases embellishes them with (almost certainly faked) celebrity autographs. This isn't to say that there isn't an acceptable face to Richard Prince - he paints as well as anyone and there's a reassuring intelligence at work - it's just that this isn't the most interesting one.