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Jack Pierson, Chelsea Girls, 1995. Ektacolor print.

Mary Heilman told me about Jack Pierson. She said Oh youíll really like him Eileen. Heís smart and heís working class and heís . . . really cool. She sort of scrunched her face up in this way that there were no words for her enthusiasm, but she felt it. A little friendly force. So I was prepared for Jack and when I encountered him I felt like I had already known him. That is, he reminded me of boys who sat on the rocks in Marshfield in the early sixties. They dressed like preppies but their faces were rough. Slightly criminal. It was always my favorite kind of look, not my own look, but maybe a reflection of my mind. So Jack had this Ivy League crook look too. Then I saw a bit of his workóactually a corner of it at Pat Hearn. It was that funky Florida desk, a few cigarette butts, and maybe a beer can. It was little rooms. Little lyrical rooms to die in. When I grow up Iím going to live that way children say when they see rooms like this. Hoboism seems like a twisted manifestation of story books. So I think thatís what Jackís like. Gay hoboism. The beauty of tragedy, the poetry of bus stations, dead-end lyricism. And around the same time he handed me a sheet of his writing. It was part of the show. Something about drowned kittens and it was very good. Plus it made sense because his work is begging for text. I donít mean it needs it. I mean it has it. So when it actually appears it seems natural. The work is shorthand like facial expressions. I like that. I mean I wouldnít write myself if I had anything better to do. I sent my book of stories, Chelsea Girls to Jack. I think I did. Maybe he just had it. I should have sent it to him. Anyway I got a postcard saying how much he liked it. And I had written about his work by now in Art in America . So I liked that we were both impressed with each other. I decided he should write about me in ArtForum. I sent him a card. He came up with this great idea which was to photograph my book. That would be the review. Of course they didnít use it. Anyway, we met for lunch and he gave me this picture. It was my book which is kind of creamy-colored lying on one of those old Cambridgey Indian bedspreads. The pattern is red and something else and kind of beige. Thereís a bowl on the bed and it has some juice in it. It could be a cup of tea, but I think itís a bowl with cantaloupe juice.  Sweet and warm, left-over. I like to think of my book in the sun like a cat all day. I like this vision. Pretty seedy, his and mine.


by Jack Pierson



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