Glenn O’Brien

  • Glenn O'Brien

    WHEN I SHOWED UP at the Whitney Biennial they handed me an admission button that said “I CAN’T IMAGINE EVER WANTING TO BE WHITE,” a badge that would presumably prevent me from being ejected by guards, as long as I didn’t destroy any of the works on display. No fucking way was I going to put that on, so I took my chances with the guards and was careful not to destroy any work.

    Actually I didn’t feel like destroying any of the work that I saw. I did feel like sitting down in Pepón Osorio’s fabulous Puerto Rican apartment crime-scene but I wouldn't cross the police crime-scene tape. I did feel like

  • CULTURE

    WHEN I HEAR the word “culture” I reach not for a revolver but for TCBY, The Country’s Best Yogurt. Here, unseen in a whipped and creamy concoction of milk sweeter than mom’s own and the fruits of the good earth, is culture, a nation of tiny benevolent bacteria ready to rush to my inner aid, manning my colon and, through a symbiosis that gives one greater faith in the Lord, purifying this body, this temple of the spirit.

    When I hear the word “culture” I reach not for my revolver but for my penicillin. Give me this day my daily mold. As above, so below. Give me a microcosm I can live with. Give me

  • John Ahearn

    ON APRIL 23, 1992, the New York Post, that crusading tabloid founded by Alexander Hamilton, ran a half-page article under the headline “City Pays 100G for Art Blasted as Anti-Black.” The art in question was a group of three sculptures by “internationally renowned Bronx artist John Ahearn,” which were to stand next to a new police station in the South Bronx.

    “‘We were stunned,’ said a top Bronx cop. ‘We spend so much time trying to work with the community, and that artwork is so clearly racial stereotyping. The message the art would have sent was, at the very least, insensitive. At most, it could

  • SAINT MOR FAYE

    YOU PRONOUNCE HIS NAME like this: Mor as in more, Faye rhymes with die. In French, which most all Senegalese people speak, Mor Faye sounds like mort faille, which might mean “death fault.” Faille also means Flemish grosgrain silk and the headdress worn by the women of Flanders, so mort faille could mean “death headdress.”

    Mor Faye is an African art saint. He died in poverty in 1985 at the age of 37, cause of death malaria. The place of his death was a mental hospital in Dakar, Senegal. He had been confined there for two years, ever since he was arrested for denouncing then president Léopold Sédar

  • Luxury

    According to several prominent newspaper columnists, a cover story in Sports Illustrated, and many other high-profile media reports in print and on television, advertising directed at selling young people athletic shoes that cost more than $100 a pair has created an unprecedented epidemic of violence among our youth. Especially black youth. In fact, black youth ore the only ones mentioned, explicitly or implicitly: Niggers be killing each other over gym shoes.

    In a column titled “SHADDUP, I’m SEWN’ OUT . . . SHADDUP,” Phil Mushnick of the New York Post related horror story after horror story of

  • Video Games

    A COUPLE OF FRIENDS dragged me out to Playland at Rye Beach the other day. It’s a vintage suburban amusement park with a wooden roller coaster and other classic ’40s, ’50s, and ’60s rides. My friends went off to check out the rides, including the latest, the mind scrambler, which is actually a ’50s “scrambler” ride installed in a tent full of mirrors, strobe lights, and very loud speed metal music. As it was the day after a late night, I felt that my brains were scrambled enough already, so I told them to meet me in the arcade.I wasn’t feeling up to any G forces, but I did feel up to a few video

  • Advertising

    Ah, the smell of it!

    I OPENED UP THE FEBRUARY issue of Elle magazine and there they were: the most beautiful breasts in the world. Well, the most beautiful photo-breasts, anyway. Crowning a headless torso, they are the focus, the face of the picture. Beautifully lit breasts. Artfully illuminated breasts. Symmetrical.

    Proud erect nipples, cool and prominent. Slight goosebumps texture the breast’s surface, around the aureole, as if registering a chill or a thrill. These breasts top a torso of perfect proportions. There is the slightest shadow suggesting a navel. Arms are raised, the right in front,

  • Advertising

    GUESS? ARRIVED IN 1982. It meant question marks on the butts of blue jeans and supporting propaganda in the magazines: full pages of black and white photography of beautiful young women, women in denim or deshabille, sometimes ac-companied by men of various ages. They were portrayed as odalisques, wantons, ingenues, muses, sexual ecstatics. They were shown akimbo, cavorting, smoldering, pouting, rapt, prone, writhing, kneeling, going, coming. There were no words, there was no copy, no message, just Guess?

    Since then Guess? pages have appeared in about 60 magazines. With their copyless format

  • Advertising

    SO CINDY CRAWFORD, the supermodel who is totally down by Vogue, who posed for the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue and topless for Playboy, who is so hot that Prince, the rock ’n’ roll love god, was, according to Cindy, afraid to go up and talk to her at a club so he wrote a song about her instead, Cindy Crawford, proprietrix of the world’s second-most-famous mole, comes back from Senegal or China or Milan or someplace and finds that her Greenwich Village apartment isn’t exactly the way she left it. Things have been moved around. The place looks strangely lived-in. The phone rings and it’s the

  • Glenn O'Brien on Advertising

    COLUMNS|Like Art|14

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    “Christmas,” as Screamin' Jay Hawkins once said , its a time for giving." The traditional counsel for Christmas giving is

    it's the thought that counts, and not only does that old saw apply to gift giving, it applies with equal force to the

    advertising that Leads up to gin selection, that may even, for better or worse, inspire it. In advertising it`s the thought

    that counts. and more and more I find myself buying the products that manage to convince me they are for the thinking

    person.

    Lately I've been thinking of letting some Reeboks share my sport-shoe time with my very intelligent Nikes.

  • Advertising

    “Christmas,“ as Screamin’ Jay Hawkins once said, “is a time for giving.“ The traditional counsel for Christmas giving is it’s the thought that counts, and not only does that old saw apply to gift giving, it applies with equal force to the advertising that leads up to gift selection, that may even, for better or worse, inspire it. In advertising it’s the thought that counts, and more and more I find myself buying the products that manage to convince me they are for the thinking person.

    Lately I’ve been thinking of letting some Reeboks share my sport-shoe time with my very intelligent Nikes. A

  • Advertising

    ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT PRINCIPLES we live by is loyalty. We strive to be loyal to our country, our family, our friends, and to the brands of products we consume. You might buy a car because it was made in the U.S.A., and you might buy a laundry detergent because your mother used it. In our consumer society, identities can be determined to a considerable extent by what a person consumes, so brand names become part of the family. And that’s why American business relies on brand loyalty. I use it because it’s family. It makes me feel secure. It’s always there for me.

    It’s hard to argue against

  • Advertising

    ONE OF THE MOST effective kinds of advertising is the free sample, advertising that functions as a taste of what you’ll enjoy once you have made a purchase.

    The original form of this was the out-and-out free sample, like the cheese wedges en brochette served up on a foil-covered tray by a cordial supermarket hostess, or the one- wash box of laundry detergent that arrives in your mailbox. More recently we have seen the development of the teaser sample, such as the perfumed ad pages in magazines, which act as a sample while deterring actual use. Not only are magazine perfume inserts a powerful

  • Advertising

    TWO WOMEN IN BIKINIS jog the beach, running in step, stride for stride. The woman on the right, in the red bikini bottom and Yves Klein Blue, Calvin Klein-like sports bra, seems to be talking. You can't see her mouth, but you can tell she is smiling as she looks into the eyes of her jogging partner. The woman on the left is wearing bikini bottoms that seem to match the blue of the right-hand woman's top, not the lighter air-force blue of her own sports bra. Is the other woman wearing her bra? Is she wearing the other woman's panties? The woman on the left has dark brown hair. Her smile reveals

  • Advertising

    ONE OF PALESTINE'S BIG PROBLEMS is that it really doesn’t have any tourist organization to speak of. Though it occupies the same territory, Palestine is not Israel, not by a long shot. Israel has a hell of a tourist organization and that makes all the difference in the world.

    Last year Israel pitched the slogan “Come stay with friends.” This year Israel is celebrating its 40th year of existence with the campaign “Israel this year.” The word “this” is underlined rather urgently. In one of the spots a rabbi explains that in the Bible the number 40 symbolizes trial. He hopes that the trials are

  • Advertising

    WHEN I THINK ABOUT the possibility today of what used to be called an art movement I think about what Andy Warhol called “Business Art.” You could take his remarks on the subject as flattery of the collecting class or as a send-up of the art world, but I think there’s a lot more to it. I think Andy saw that art was losing large areas of its former purview. Even though art had more value on paper than ever before, it had less clout. It was less about vision and cultural leadership and more about perceived worth. As much as Andy Warhol was a creature of the art world (and of fine-art auctions),

  • Jane Dickson

    Beyond the valley of the Stalinist haute-couture philosophical object manufacturers, securely this side of the luxuriously lined abyss and well out of reach of the solipsist documentary tag-team matches sadly engulfing our earnest referees, there is still, undiminished, painting. Not to mention rhythm, melody, soul food, and business as usual.

    Beauty is a necessity of life and it always finds its own venues, in art and elsewhere. Sometimes things get too hot for beauty so it has to keep moving before it gets run out of town or the art world. A very popular hair product ad pleads, “Don’t hate me

  • Advertising

    IT ALWAYS AMAZES ME when I’m watching a football game and all that soaring and hurling and colliding and bleeding and limping is suddenly interrupted by an advertisement for something remarkably abstract and unpurchasable. I don’t know why, but aerospace contractors and microchip makers and high-technology companies with products priced in six or more figures are always advertising in the middle of football and basketball games. Why does ITT, for example, want to reach the fans, the plebs, the masses?

    We can easily understand and accept the beer ads that come with the game. We can easily understand

  • Advertising

    ONE OF OUR LOCAL basketball heroes, Chris Mullin, recently of Saint John’s University in Queens, now with Oakland’s Golden State Warriors of the National Basketball Association, has been in the newspapers quite a lot lately because he’s been receiving treatment for alcoholism. Sports fans are used to hearing about pro basketball players and other athletes undergoing rehabilitation for drug addiction, but all-American Chris Mullin seems to be the last person anyone ever expected to see in rehab, even though his uncle died of the complications of alcoholism. Mullin is devoted to his sport and he

  • Advertising

    DARYL HANNAH WAS on TV the other night, on Entertainment Tonight, and she was angry. She was angry that the Coca-Cola Company, which owns Columbia Pictures, ganged up its advertising, selling the picture she made for the studio, with Steve Martin, and the soft drink all in the same spot. Daryl doesn't do ads, even in Japan, where Sly Stallone (sausages), Sting (beer), Mickey Rourke (whiskey), Joseph Beuys (whiskey), Woody Allen (a department store), and many other big stars have appeared regularly in TV commercials that are not shown outside Asia. She thinks it would affect her integrity as an