PRINT April 2020


John Baldessari, The Spectator is Compelled . . ., 1966–68, photographic emulsion and acrylic on canvas, 59 × 45". © Estate of John Baldessari.

JOHN BALDESSARI and I were friends for thirty-six years. Do friendships have a purpose? If so, ours was to do things that were fun and made for a halfway decent story after. Here are a few:

John was the first person I knew who had GPS in his car. Because neither of us had any sense of direction, we rarely drove outside of Santa Monica at night. But with the new GPS, we tried going to a party at Ed and Danna Ruscha’s on the other side of town. We thought we followed the directions but got lost anyway. Baffled and defeated, we pulled over to the side of the road. John looked at me and said, “Maybe they moved.”

When my father died, John telephoned me. He said, “I thought I ought to call you, because there’s no death emoji.” He howled with laughter, and I loved it.

When we switched to taking Ubers and sitting in the back seat, John liked staring out the window, which would put him in a

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