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The Flaming Artist Speaks to the World

The Amsterdam Trip—January, 2005

8:45 a.m. Friday, January 28, 2005

We are doing the walk-in at Dr. Viruly’s office. Walk ins are between 8:00 a.m. and 9:00 a.m. We’ve only just arrived. We’re # four in an honor queue—no sign in, no taking of numbers. Her office is practically across the street (or canal) from Central Station. It took us more than 20 minutes to get here from the hotel, including two transfers on the trolley. I wanted to walk faster, but John wouldn’t have it. “Screw it,” I thought to myself. “It’s his walk-in.”

The Doctor's Office

8:40 p.m., Friday, January 28, 2005

I’m in the Heeba Coffee Shop. I’ve purchased €12 of Moroccan hash, called “Sputnik” on the salesman’s menu. I rented a bong for a €5 deposit, which, hopefully, I won’t be too stoned to retrieve. John is back in the room, watching TV, listening to the book-on-tape version of The Da Vinci Code that I gave him for Xmas or whatever. Later we may meet in the Hotel Windsor’s lobby bar.

I feel I’m taking a risk getting stoned. It will either break me out of my negative head space or accelerate my downward spiral.

That is, if I can figure out how to work this bong.

I’ve just visited the barmaid. I apologized for being a clueless fool, but, “How do you work this thing?” She graciously cleaned the bong with a long white pipe cleaner, gave me fresh bongwater, and put in a screen. She said I could, but didn’t need to, hold my thumb over the side hole, then release it when I inhale.

Nothing yet.

The Bong

I awoke this morning at 4:00 a.m.; couldn’t return to sleep. My mind kicked in, contemplating the impending failure of my enterprise, as well as its inherent worthlessness. I castigated myself for my inability to “have a blast,” as all my friends assured me I would prior to our departure. But how much fun can you have when your feet start hurting after a half hour? I mused about how worthless the Sanskrit healing mantra I’d just come off 40 days of chanting had been. “Om Apadamapa Hatarum Datarum Sarva Sampadam. Loka Bhi Ramam Sri Ramam Bhuyo Bhuyo Namam-yaham,” my ass. I thought about the Tricycle issue and its focus on pain, and beat myself up for my lack of diligence.

The book I took along with me for the trip is Bangkok 8 by John Burdett. I’d heard an interview with the author back in October, on Carolyne Casey’s “Visionary Activist” radio show. It sounded like a good gift for Mom, as she likes mystery novels. But this was before my post-election aversion to Xmas gift giving arose. Similarly, I chose not to give it to her when she spent the night in town last Sunday on her way to Antarctica.

The novel’s protagonist is a Buddhist monk/Thai police officer. He’s investigating the double murder of his partner and a Black American sergeant. The sergeant’s older brother, introduced late in the novel, theorized that one can either devote one’s life to money or to dick. It’s better to choose the former; it will take care of the latter. If you choose the latter (as the younger brother did), it will only take care of itself. I fear I may have chosen the latter myself.

After returning from Dr. Viruly’s office (she graciously wrote him a prescription for his pain meds, which we immediately filled at the recommended nearby pharmacy), we sat around our room watching TV and resting up for my 1:00 p.m. appointment with Han to supervise mounting the show. At 11:30 a.m. we were interrupted by Han, knocking on our door. He suggested that I come to Mister B’s now, to settle the financial aspects of the exhibition before hanging the artwork. We got it together, & went over.

John sat in with me on the meeting. It was held in Han’s office on the 3rd floor, overlooking Warmoesstraat (and the hunky construction workers hanging out of the 3rd floor of the building directly across the narrow street from us, close enough to toss love letters to). Han said Wim (his boss) may or may not demand that I pay the framing & customs fee bill up front. Han was confused & annoyed that the V.A.T. bill hadn’t arrived with the cargo fee. “Maybe they’ll forget about it,” I offered hopefully. Han looked doubtful. My hope was based on the fact that the bill from the Customs agent for his time spent with me (€70) had arrived.

We agreed to include the frames in the cost of the art, not giving customers the option of purchasing the art w/o the frame. We agreed to ship the artwork (unsold) back sans frames. It would cost in excess of €1000 to ship properly. There was absolutely no point in sending the glass covered (Plexiglas is 10 × more expensive in Netherlands) pictures back just to get destroyed en route.

After the meeting, John asked if there were any nearby public libraries. Han directed him to one near the Rijksmuseum, where John spent the afternoon.

I wonder if the Muslims in Amsterdam do hash in the coffee shops.

I realized I should’ve brought the matted sketches and TAF #2’s—resolved to do so later.

The mounting process lasted until 3:00 p.m.–3:30 p.m. It was more involved than I anticipated, and also less. It soon became clear that Han and his assistant’s requests for input were rhetorical. And I (silently) disagreed with their decisions about half the time. My major role turned out to be to rest my foot against the base of the ladder to keep it from sliding away from the wall across the hardwood floor while Han and his assistant hung the artwork.

I decided to accept my role as silent flunky. It took a surprising amount of concentration and mindfulness to, at any moment, choose between being helpful and getting out of the way..

I think I’m getting a buzz.

Later

Winston Bar, Amsterdam

I decided not to go to one of the nearby Gay bars. My reasoning was: I can’t bring anyone I meet back to our room, and I’m too paranoid to go to their place, I can’t drink because of the antibiotics, & it hurts to stand for too long. Plus, interacting with strangers while stoned isn’t necessarily a good thing. I returned to the hotel, where I ran into John in the bar behind the lobby. We sat around, chatting idly, listening to the music (mostly American rock and roll), observing the other patrons.

After a while, John and I returned to our room, watched MTV and an early episode of “Desperate Housewives.” Eventually he gave me a long, loving blowjob. Then as I went to sleep, he went out to check The Cockring, a near gay bar.

© 2005 Flaming Artist

 
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