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Past Lane

I’VE SEEN THEM strolling New York’s smaller streets, these two anachronous gentlemen with Victorian hats and—do I remember correctly?—walking sticks. McDermott and McGough seem to have decided, early on, to make their lives their art. Nineteenth-century Europe called those who made the same decision “dandies.” But this is the end of the following century, when a choice such as this, exploded by the definitions of art in the present, becomes absurd, even cynical. So back they went to simpler times. Fellow collegians in Syracuse were aghast, I am told, at young McDermott’s use of chamber pots instead of plumbing—student work.

McDermott and McGough’s homes are their studio and stage, places of years ago. What a curious, determined experiment, agreeing to enter a temporal biosphere. (What do you do for a paycheck?, onlookers ask. Don’t you get cable?) Every bath taken in their dated bathroom

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