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I am listening to Latin plainchant on my computer and watching Pulp Fiction on TV.  A combination of Claritin and Nyquil seems to be finally clearly out my nostrils, and as I grow drowsy on the couch between my painting of a sunset at Heidelberg and my painting of a street café in Paris I find myself becoming pleasantly comfortable with my self-obsession. 

It’s a warm glow:  I may be sniffly and disgusting but, damn I’m interesting.  I pour myself a gourmet tea strained from loose leafs in a sea-stone strainer and complement myself again on having better taste than people who make more money than me.       

John Travolta’s on TV playing a gangster ordering a steak in a 50’s diner.  We’re both pretending to be cooler than we are:  only he has a larger audience.  I peel my clothes off.  Since nobody’s watching I might as well be comfortable.  Several Buddha heads I picked up in Asia stare down at me.  My apartment is peppered with faces.  Narcissism.  Like a movie star, I am always watched by faces that will never get the chance to tell me what they’re thinking.  It bothers me when I’m wide awake. 

Lucky thing I don’t have a girlfriend.  She’d go through Hell while I watch myself for signs of life every night. 

I pour myself a glass of wine – red, a low-cost high quality Australian shiraz.  Only the best, of course. 

“Isn’t it more exciting when you don’t have permission?” Uma Thurman’s character asks John Travolta’s character.  Of course, she was told to say that by a director who was told to say that by a script.  The line loses all meaning when you trace it back far enough. 

I reach my hand across the entertainment center to run my fingers over my selection of cigars.  Cohibas from my trip to Havanna sit in a small wooden box that serves as a humidor while the Dominicans imported from a plantation and treated in four kinds of wine sit individually in their own air tight glass tubes.  I pick a Dominican, popping off the rubber lid, and light it with a Zippo bearing the Playboy logo. The Cohibas are better but the Dominicans are smoother.  The sad part is that I only smoke for the effect.            

I’m drinking gourmet loose leaf tea and imported red wine while smoking a third world cigar on the effect of two antihistamines, listening to Latin plain chant and watching Pulp Fiction, naked.  It’s a gestalt.  A moment of biographical multi-media at midnight, with only art to watch.         

I would do better living in a museum, behind a wall of plexiglass, being stared at by school children whose teachers tell them to be quiet, stop whispering, pay attention, there’s something important right before your eyes if you just pay attention and learn how to see it.  And isn’t interesting what the artist has done with light and shadow?  The central figure looks almost alive, almost human, pay attention children, there’s a lesson here, a meaning, we’ll read about it in your textbook on Thursday, but, take just a moment, a moment more, to look it over before we move on to the Matisse.


Benjamin Wachs has written for Village Voice Media,, and NPR among other venues.  He archives his work at


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