April 16, 2012
On the balcony overlooking Orchard Street, V2 Schneider lit a black and gold Nat Sherman—the world’s most elegant cigarette. Unsurprisingly, the fine natural tobacco blend was beyond reproach.
(SURGEON GENERAL’S WARNING: Quitting Smoking Now Greatly Reduces Serious Risks to Your Health.)
Lunch with LMB at Old Town Bar: a double cheeseburger with fries and a cup of drip coffee. From there, Schneider walked next door to Barnes & Noble to buy some books.
New York Diaries (1609 to 2009) by Teresa Carpenter (Modern Library)
Windblown World—The Journals of Jack Kerouac 1947-1954 (Penguin)
Tarantula by Bob Dylan (Scribner)
Collected Poems 1947-1997 by Allen Ginsberg (Harper Perennial Modern Classics)
While standing in the queue, V2 Schneider’s cellphone rang. On the other end of the line: Glenn O’Brien suggesting a meet-up at his place, undoubtedly involving more coffee. Schneider paid for his books and hopped on the 7 Train to Bleecker Street where he met the former editor-in-chief of Andy Warhol’s Interview Magazine in his studio apartment.
O’Brien wore a sporty greyish suit and with a brilliantly contrasting pastel yellow shirt—one end of the collar asymmetrically tucked under the jacket, the other one above the lapel. His comfortable studio was like a small museum, with an equally impressive library. Schneider was most impressed by the countless Basquiat’s hanging on the walls. Opposite to his seat, a small piece by Joseph Kosuth was stood prominently on the bookshelf, brandishing a quote by Fyodor Dostoevsky: “We are all happy if we only knew it.”
Over the course of three espressi, they discussed O’Brien’s substantial art collection, which included several works by Richard Prince, Damien Hirst, Andy Warhol, Christopher Wool et al: “When I worked for Andy, I simply was in the midst of it. I was in the very center of the New York art scene. I became friends with people like Richard Prince or Jean-Michel Basquiat. Instead of writing a bill when I, for instance, wrote an essay for a catalogue, I’d instead suggest to take a painting or a print. For me, these pieces were worth so much more than money. In fact, as time passed and some of the painters I collected became world famous, it turned out that I was right.”
Schneider noticed a series of twelve colorful drawings by Basquiat on one wall. “How long did it take for him to draw a series of a dozen?” O’Brien: “I remember the day when he did them. I was hacking in an article on the typewriter for some magazine, and he was sitting on the same table, drawing one picture after the other. It warms my heart thinking of those days.”
Before he left, O’Brien insisted on giving Schneider a signed copy of his book Human Nature (Dub Version) containing his poems and Richard Prince’s drawings. After saying his goodbyes, Schneider headed towards Grand Street carrying even more valuable stuff. His cup runneth over.
This was his final day in Manhattan. His flight was leaving from Newark Airport at 9:29 p.m. He still had to pack his suitcase and write some postcards. At a downtown toy store, he freed a small, brown stuffed rabbit from its gloomy, dusty confinement.
The April 16 entry of the New York Diaries read as follows:
“1912—absolutely appalling disaster of the Titanic. Sank after four hours. No one is thinking of anything else. Only a 3rd enough life boats though more than required by law. Most of the women & children supposed to be saved on the Carpathia & and a few…fearing over a thousand lost.” – Marjorie Richards Reynolds
He closed the book, poured himself a glass of cold Chardonnay and looked out the window as LMB’s cousin Claire rolled through rush-hour traffic towards Holland Tunnel and then to Newark Airport.