24.10.08

Beginning in January 2008 and lasting through June, Hillary Clinton made repeated visits to my studio in New York City. Her intentions were always the same, namely, to take her mind off the politics of the day. My only desire was to tease and delight her whenever I could. Here are our conversations.

24.6.08

January 9, 2008




Oh Boy.

I was afraid of your reaction.

You should be.

I thought you could use this image in your campaign literature.

That would really bring in the votes. What's up with the mark in between the breasts?

I don't know. I just found the breasts online. Maybe she was getting heart surgery.

Is that supposed to mean something?

Uh, no.

Come on Sarah. Why did you paint this?

I don't know why. It was early in the campaign. I just wanted to see you naked. No irony. No artifice. I found a news photo, a close up of you looking directly into the camera and I became obsessed with it. But it needed a body to go with it.

Where is it?

I don't know where I put it. I'd have to dig it out. It was the day that you announced Evan Bayh's endorsement. One would think you'd be happy. But in all the outtakes I saw, your expression was very strange. I couldn't put my finger on it and it just hooked me. Reeled me right in.

I don't recall feeling strange that day.

I think something happened that day, something very personal.

I think you're over imaginative and projecting too much. Maybe something was going on in your life that day.

No, I use this photo all the time. I go back to it often.

Well then it must be within reach! You just said you didn't know where it was. I want to see it.

Alright. Let me find it.

[pause]

Here it is.

It's just me looking. That's all.

No, that's not all. You're totally exposed. I studied your crying moment. You are much more naked here, in this photo, than you were in that YouTube video. And you know what? This photo is no longer on Getty Images. It was deleted. But all the other outtakes are still there.

Well, I didn't delete it.

Oh?

There's hundreds and thousands of photos of me. As if I have the power to destroy the ones I don't like.

Do you not like this photo?

It's not my favorite.

Not one you'd give to a lover to place on their nightstand?

No!

It's on mine.

Oh, so you like depressed women staring at you while you sleep?

Aha! You admit that you're depressed here!

No. No. I don't see that.

You just said it.

No. Look. I can't identify it. Maybe I had a headache or I had to go the bathroom. Maybe it was something truly irrelevant!

I don't think so.

Yes.

No. #

23.6.08

January 10, 2008




I’m worried about you. They want to hurt you. They want to rid the planet of you.

C’mon. I can tell you’re depressed.

I am a little cynical today but last night Bill O’Reilly was asking some woman if she hated you enough to do you physical harm. I was just struck by his question.

What did she say?

She said "No."

That's encouraging. Who was she?

Don’t know. I didn’t get her name or how she knew you. Undoubtedly she was an expert on something, maybe Hillary hatred?

A dime a dozen.

How do you do it? How do you stay so upbeat and wonderful?

Very funny. I see you're in a good mood now.

No. I'm still worried.

Well, I’m not!

Do you wear a bulletproof vest when you’re stumping?

Not always. I'm not wearing one now.

Great. #

22.6.08

January 12, 2008




It was New Hampshire, right after they called it. That’s when those guys were going on and on about race. They didn't know why the polls were so off. They kept talking about the racial vote. I’ve never heard of that. What is that anyway?

God only knows. 

No really, were they saying that whites in New Hampshire would not support a black man? Or were they saying blacks would only vote for blacks? I’m just trying to figure out the caricature, you know, like soccer mom. Who are the racial voters?

Rarely are these terms clearly defined.

I know and it drives me crazy. I used to be a mathematician.

I didn’t know that.

Yeah, I have a thing for clarity.

So do I.

We’ll you were a lawyer. It’s not that different. Anyway, you can imagine how frustrated I was to not be able to follow a conversation on cable news.

Seriously, you couldn’t follow it?

I understand it has to be ambiguous, that it's innuendo. And when I’m watching I’m obsessing about the purpose. So no, I can’t follow it literally. It’s not supposed to be literally followed.

Oh yes it is! #

21.6.08

January 18, 2008




I love the way you look in pantsuits. I mean look at this photo. It's just a silhouette, yet anyone looking at it would know in a flash that it's you. Your shape is your signature. It's the Hillary invariant.

It's the what?

The Hillary invariant. It doesn't really change. And it's on display with the pantsuits. Skirts hide too much.

What are you talking about?

I'm talking about your shape and how feminine it is. Both you and Ms Wintour seem to think that femininity is encoded in fashion. But it's not. It's in the form. It doesn't matter what you wear.

Wait a minute. I don't think that.

Well according to Ms. Wintour you do or, at least, someone on your staff does. They could have come up with a better explanation, you know, for why you canceled the photo shoot.

Like what?

'It's not the season for cleavage.'

No, sorry, that wouldn't fly.

There's a reason I'm not on your campaign staff. #

20.6.08

January 30, 2008




There you are, holding it.

I don't like this one.

Ok Maureen.

Maureen? Who's Maureen?

The woman who said that Condi and Hillary don't throw like girls. Maureen Dowdy.

You mean Dowd.

Ever wonder what's behind her obsession?

No, can't say I have.

Well I have.

Let's say I've never enjoyed wondering. What are you saying with this? I'm mannish? That's original!

I don't think you're mannish at all. I just like the way you hold the stick, I mean microphone. Let's go back to Maureen Dowd.

Let's not. Why do you have to hang this?

I can't believe you're so squeamish. What did I miss? Is Maureen Dowd wrong about you? Do you throw like a girl?

I have no idea how to answer that. I've got to go.

Wait, please. Just one second. Why do you think a women in, say, her fifties, who has never married and who writes books questioning the necessity of men, is so disappointed that you and Bill don't have, what appears to be, a traditional marriage?

God only knows.

I think you and Bill are parental figures to her. Why else would she be so fixated on your relationship. I mean who cares?

Why do you keep talking about her? All I want to know is why you would hang this on your wall.

I'm telling you why. #

18.6.08

February 28, 2008





I like it.

You want it?

Maybe.

Maybe means purgatory.

No it doesn't.

I hope it's only temporary. What's it called when you're in purgatory forever?

Limbo. There's different ones though, some permanent, some temporary.

This was the first Hillary painting I did.

Oh really? It's my favorite.

You know in the first one hundred dreams posted on the "I Dream of Hillary" site, only five are sex dreams with you.

I'm not sure how I feel about that statistic. What does that have to do with the painting?

There are more sex dreams in Obama's column.

That's not surprising.

I've had two dreams with Obama. You were in both and he was talking to me but I was trying to get your attention.

What did he say?

The scent of one's breath reveals one's truth.

Is that why you always paint me with my mouth closed?

I have this photo of you with your mouth open and your head tilted back. You're laughing and you look just like my niece. Don't ask me how a sixty year-old woman looks like a six year-old girl, but I'm betting your breath smells just fine.

I hope I don't disappoint you.

You mean I have a shot at finding out?

No. That's not what I meant. God.

What?

I can't believe you just said that.

Oh c'mon. I'm just playing.

Sure.

I see. So you can flirt with me, but I can't flirt with you.

That's right.

Ok. Good to know the rules. But what if I really, really want to flirt with you?

Easy. Just repress it.

No, that's not easy. What happens if I break the rules?

Well, you just saw what happens. It was terrible right?

Yes, absolutely. I'll try not to do it again.

Good.

Are you this flirtatious with all women?

Maybe. Ok, so how much for the painting?

Two grand.

I'll take it.

Can I buy you dinner?

Um, no. #

16.6.08

March 11, 2008




I exist only to tease and delight you.

Well, you're not doing a good job of that today.

Or, you're in a bad mood.

No, I'm in a fine mood. What do you want for dinner?

I don't know. How about Branzino with some sticky rice and something green? Maybe a Rosé. No dessert though. I'm watching my girly figure.

So am I.

Oh, you're on a diet too?

No, I'm watching your girly figure.

You're such a flirt! #

15.6.08

March 23, 2008




I want to talk about the campaign.

Not me. I'm off today.

Oh, c'mon. We never talk politics.

Alright, shoot.

Remember the whole likeability issue? God, what a distraction. Performing likeability just wasn't your forte.

All I did was change my hairstyle. I stayed on message.

Not as convincingly. The no-nonsense, I'm-not-trying-to-please Hillary is much more persuasive and she went into hiding for a while. Actually I think that was your biggest mistake.

You're kidding me. No way.

It just took up so much space and went on and on. Tell me, how much of your decision was based on internalizing some of the Hillary vitriol? I mean how much did you actually buy into the idea that you weren't likable enough?

I didn't buy into it at all.

You must have a little.

I don't want to talk about it right now.

Alright, alright.

[pause]

Let's talk about race then.

Oh God. It's Easter Sunday. Can't I have a break for Christ's sake?

Why did you let the media get away with it? Why didn't you jump in there?

Look, I only have so much control over perception and it's a very loaded issue. What was I supposed to do?

Well, first, you could have countered the imagined racial undertone of Bill's "fairy tale" comment.

That came from Obama's camp, not the media.

I know but

Obama's absence on the Iraq decision hadn't been highlighted before. You know a lot of young people thought he was in the Senate and voted against the Iraq war.

Actually of lot of older people thought that and probably still do. Why didn't you elaborate on his absence and clarify that it had nothing to do with race?

Well plenty of people did. I didn't have to.

I disagree. All I heard was the racial spin and not a thing about what Bill actually said. Basically you let the media paint you and your husband as racists and whitewash the best card you had, namely Obama's silence on Iraq. That was your second biggest mistake.

Ok, enough.

No, don't leave. Wait. One more thing. This is happening now. They are already calling a potential Hillary win a Pyrrhic victory. They keep talking about the "will of the people." You need to hammer home the simple fact that if the super delegates side with him, they are siding against the will of 12,400,000 voters. The difference in the popular vote is less than 2%. It's not a mandate for him and neither for you. There's no clear "will of the people". We're split!

Are you finished yet?

Yes.

Good, because I'm tired and I want my chocolate bunny. #

14.6.08

March 28, 2008




I have a theory.

Oh no.

You don't even know what it's about!

Yes, I do. Me!

You wanna hear it?

No.

Tough, you're in my studio and I get to talk about my theories.

Oh, as if being outside the studio stops you from talking about your theories!

I know why you told that tale. I know what that's all about.

Oh yeah?

You like women.

Excuse me?

No, no, no. You just like to throw down with the girls. That's all I meant. And I bet you told that story to many women, right? And it works. You get the response you want. And then telling it just becomes habitual or something. I don't think you ever believed it.

[pause]

Why aren't you saying anything? You're just sitting there smirking. Well whatever. I think it's a turn on. I love when a women tries to impress me with her bravado. So why haven't you told me that story!

Oh please!

No, seriously. You never try to impress me. My feelings are hurt.

That's ridiculous. How am I supposed to impress you? You mean my presence alone doesn't impress you?

Well, maybe a little. I'm sure there are more important things for you to do than come here and tease me in my studio.

I like teasing you and it's obvious that I don't need to brag about anything.

How can I change that?

Why would you want to? I like being off the hook. It's my time out.

I guess that's good. Ok, I'm going to paint now. Don't talk to me.

Wait. How convinced are you of your "theory"?

Actually that reminds me. On the night of March 17 I got home about 4 am. No, I wasn't drinking. I was in my studio. I did my usual of looking at news photos of you and I came across one, a close up, three-quarter view of your face. And you looked so disturbed. And I thought, "Oh no, something is wrong."

You based your judgment on a photo?

Well, wait. I hadn't read the byline or anything and it wasn't until a few days later when the Bosnia video took hold. So I went back to Getty Images and the picture I had downloaded was gone but the other outtakes were there and I realized that the photo was taken just a moment before you told the tale.

And so you think I embellished the story because I was disturbed?

No, on the contrary. I think you embellished because you were way up in the polls and felt invincible. That's when the demons come out to play and I saw them in your face. #

12.6.08

April 14, 2008




You don’t see it, do you?

See what?

You keep calling him elitist.

Well, his comments are.

Whatever. It doesn’t matter. It’s only going to hurt you.

How?

Politicians are part of the elite. They’ll just throw it back on you.

No they won't.

Of course, not all politicians express their prejudices so overtly. This is your moment to seize, and you haven’t really.

I think I’ve gotten some mileage out of it.

No, you highlighted guns and religion and talked about values. These aren't values.

No, no, people value

People value compassion. He said they "cling" to “antipathy towards those not like them.” There's no compassion in that.

Right. But he was explaining why he hasn't closed the gap in Pennsylvania.

I know. So he renders the working class as intolerant. What's he really saying?

Look, I don't want

It’s obvious. He's saying Archie Bunker won't vote for me because I'm black or rich or whatever. It's identity politics. He plays that card over and over.

That's a powerful card.

But Archie Bunker has lost his job and now may lose his house. He doesn’t give a rat’s ass about the color or gender of the person who can help him. He doesn't care about that anymore.

I'm not so sure.

Well, this is not the time to accuse him of intolerance. Obama sealed his fate with this one. He expects not to get their vote. So he caricatures them as gun-toting, god-fearing intolerants. They're sure to vote Republican now, unless you win.

As if I don’t know that! Have you heard any of my speeches?

Yes and now I am hearing all this stuff about guns and “values”. Will you please steer away from that! It’s a trap. You’re going to lose if you focus on that, just like Kerry did.

I do know how to shoot a gun.

I know, but I'd rather see you shoot whiskey. Stick with the drinking and the compassion. They kind of go together and you do both really well. #

11.6.08

April 19, 2008




Hey. Are you okay?

I'm just tired.

You want a beer?

What do you have?

Lagunitas IPA.

Ok, give me one.

Here.

Thanks. Is this new?

No, I just had it printed large.

What am I wearing?

Let’s see…it looks like two men and a pair of shoulders, a sailor shirt underneath two blazers, a lapel pin, and some jewels.

That’s close to what I wear in a day.

[pause]

This is strong beer.

[yawns] I know.

Am I boring you?

No!

It’s about time I bore you.

I’m honored to be bored by you. I have a theory.

What’s your theory?

I bet you’re good in bed.

[chokes] What? How many beers have you had?

Four and two glasses of wine. Bear with me.

Only till I finish my beer.

Ok, if the Dems had agreed to the Republican rules, you know, winner takes all, you would have won by now, right?

Right.

So if you had accepted missionary position, with no foreplay, you would have been on top, right?

You need to get laid. That’s my theory. Give me your cell phone.

But no, you insisted on foreplay and lots of it. And just when the object of your desire was completely exasperated, just when they couldn’t take any more, you stopped and exclaimed, “Wait, I’m just getting warmed up!” And then you dove in for more.

Give me the damn phone. I'm sure you have her on speed dial.

It’s a collective orgiastic experience. How are we going to feel when you’re done with us?

Ok, I'm going to press "1" and instruct the person who answers to show Sarah a good time.

You're going to ask my mom that?

[hangs up] Christ…what am I going to do with you?

I can think of a couple things.

A muzzle comes to mind. #

10.6.08

April 21, 2008





You know if you win tomorrow, you’re probably going all the way.

That’s right!

Does that mean I can be the first artist-in-residence at the White House?

What?

I want to go to the White House. All I need is a room to paint in. Isn’t there a basement?

Wait, you think you’re going to paint in the White House?

Yes, actually I imagine being in a farmhouse on the grounds, the place where Eleanor kept her lovers. They were probably writers though.

There’s no farmhouse! And she had diverse taste in women. One was a pilot right?

Was that the same era?

[laughs] You need some history. Look, there is no room to paint in. There’s barely enough space for the people I’ll need there.

Oh, c’mon. Look at this matchbox I paint in. I don’t need much space.

What would you paint?

Official portraits.

Oh yeah, like that one. That should go in the foyer. We can hang it so that her vajayjay is about eye-level.

Her what?

Vajayjay. Don't tell me you haven't heard that word before.

Actually that painting would look good next to the one of you touching your vajayjay. I’m going to paint you with a camel-toe next.

No you’re not! Oh my god, do you have a picture?

I have two.

Oh shit. Please don’t. You can’t come to the White House if you do.

You mean I can come to the White House if I don’t paint Hillary with a camel-toe.

This is blackmail! You’re a pain in my ass.

No, I exist to tease and delight you. I swear. That’s my only mission.

Are you going to paint it?!

No, I have better ideas.

Can’t wait.

What about this one, the “official” White House portrait? I’m almost finished.

You’ve changed it, haven’t you?

I took off the jewels because I’m using the naked face.

Oh, the naked face, again.

Stop being sarcastic. It’s a great face and works well here. Would you hang that in the foyer?

No, it would scare people, except maybe the Chinese.

Is that a compliment?

I don’t know. #

9.6.08

April 23, 2008




What’s that look for?

I can’t believe you said that? Obliterate Iran? Give me a break.

Wait

What does the average Iranian think of you now? Do you offer him hope? His president is a mad man and so is mine. Like begets like.

What are you saying? I’m like Bush?

Well dismissing economists who don't agree with you by calling them elitist is a card Bush would play.

You’re clueless.

Maybe. But you’re obvious.

That’s not very nice.

You’re pandering to the swing voter who is never going to think you have bigger balls than McCain, no matter what you say.

But I do.

[pause]

I’m not laughing.

You’re in an awful mood. I’m going to win IN tomorrow!

Why haven’t you played the visionary card?

I’m a realist. I’m practical.

I’m foolish enough to think you’re impassioned by your vision.

Look, I know the demographics a lot better than you do.

But I trust my feelings. You may be able to emasculate Obama, which makes me cringe to watch, but you’re not going to be able to do it with McCain.

Bush will sink McCain.

No, McCain will drop Bush. And you’ll lose because you’ll pander instead of offering a viable alternative vision.

I think I'll go now.

Fine. #

8.6.08

April 30, 2008




This one’s for you.

Thanks! Ok, so what do you see happening?

I see an outpouring of Hillary love if you concede. It makes my skin crawl to think about it.

What, conceding or the outpouring?

The outpouring. Saint Hillary is a denial of form. I can’t worship unused talent.

You know I came here to be teased and delighted and you’re being Debbie Downer.

Sorry, I can’t help myself.

You could at least offer me a beer.

I have Sierra. Is that ok?

Well, it’s not what Joe Six-Pack drinks, but it’ll do.

You’re right, he's worried about his waistline. This is Sarah Fat-Dyke beer.

You’re not fat!

Come June your most virulent critics will form the base of the Hillary devoted.

Sybil, I want to talk to Sarah, not Debbie. Is she in there or what?

Sarah needs a few more beers before she’ll come out and play.

How about a hit on the head? Will that speed it up? I don’t have all night, you know.

No, please don't hit me! I promise to tease and delight. Did I ever tell you my Ellen DeGeneres story?

No.

The summer before I left for college I dated a woman who was her best friend at the time.

This was in New Orleans?

Yeah. It was a great summer. Ellen used to perform at the Faux Pas Lounge on Poydras Street.

Never heard of it.

It probably no longer exists. But I remember the night she, or her brother actually, filmed her standup routine to send out to people in California. She let me invite some of my high-school friends. Of course we were all under age, but fairly seasoned drinkers.

God love New Orleans.

Anyway, Ellen and her girlfriend and Liz and I did a lot together. She had a house right off City Park Avenue.

Who had a house?

Ellen. Liz lived with her parents, so we hung out at Ellen’s.

Who is Liz?

The woman I was dating.

Ok, got it. Go on.

Anyway, I moved to Houston for college.

Where did you go?

Will you let me finish?

Sorry.

So Liz dumped me within a month.

That’s too bad.

Yeah, it was tough. But about two years later I was waiting tables at this Irish Pub and in walked Ellen.

Oh yeah?

Yeah, she was performing across the street. She was opening for Louie Anderson.

What happened to him?

I think he’s in Vegas. I’m not sure. Anyway, I went to see the show the next night. She put me in the front row and it was great. I mean this was the eighties. They were both so funny back then. Afterwards we had dinner with her dad, who drove in for the show.

What was he like?

Funny. Dry. I liked him a lot actually. Then the next night, the last night of the show, she gave me and my girlfriend tickets and we were sat next to Liz and her new girlfriend. They came to town too. It was horrible, especially at dinner. I pouted the entire time while Ellen flirted with my girlfriend.

[laughs] That does sounds horrible.

Zoom ahead twelve years. I’m in Detroit and I hear that Ellen is performing in Ann Arbor.

Okay.

So I call around to try find her publicist or promoter or whatever, just someone who could ask her if she had time to hang out after the show, and I left my name and phone number.

Did you get through to her?

No. But I went to the show, which was really a Q&A. It was an HRC event, right after the Matthew Shepherd murder. And the questions were so bizarre. Some were downright cringeable.

Like what?

One woman asked her if she used tampons.

Oh my god.

Yeah. It was this weird mix of adulation and aggression.

Well, what happened?

Ok, well, after the show there was a book signing. You had to pay $50 and, I guess buy the book, to enter. I wasn’t going to do either. I just told the security guy that I was an old friend and he let me in.

He did?

Yeah. So then I asked the two women, standing first in line, to let me step in front of them. I promised to be quick and they were like, “Sure.”

I know what’s coming next.

Wait. So out she comes. She sits down and shoots me an impatient look. I walk up and, assuming the familiarity of an old friend, ask, “Hey Ellen! How are you?!” And she says “Fine. And you are?!” I say “Sarah, Sarah Ferguson!” She shrugs her shoulders and says, “Sarah Who? I don’t know you! Who are you?”

What did you say?

I don’t remember. I managed to spit out a few things like New Orleans, names of people, etc. Then she sort of lost it and screamed, “That was twelve years ago!” So I stepped back and said, “Ok, ok, sorry.”

Well, it sounded like she had a tough time with that audience.

Whatever. I turned and walked away. I could hear her yelling in the background, “I’m sorry! I meet a lot of people!” but I didn’t turn around. I just wanted to get the hell out of there.

Poor thing. I’m sure you’ve suffered worse humiliations.

What’s that supposed to mean?

Nothing. I’m just saying, you know, I’m sure there’s some childhood event or something much more traumatic.

No.

Right. #

7.6.08

May 10, 2008




It looks like I’m going to lose that bet with Jerry.

Jerry who?

Jerry Saltz. He said I didn’t owe him anything. But we shook on it. I have to pay.

How much did you bet?

$50.

I’ll give it to you.

Yeah, right! From where?

I can scrounge up $50.

No thanks. You need it too much!

I haven’t seen this one before.

That’s “Pink Hillary.” I painted it before I knew you.

I can tell.

How?

I don’t know. I just can. I thought that one, over there, was the first Hillary painting.

Nope, “Pink Hillary” is. I forgot about her. Whenever I move studios I pull out things and think, "Oh yeah, I did that."

Where you moving to?

Not the White House.

Oh, stop it. There’s no room to paint there anyway. Maybe there’s room in the Knesset. We’ll ship you to Israel.

I would love to go there. Do you know Tzipi?

Not well. Sorry.

Not well enough to make a call on my behalf? Come on! Tell her I’ll paint her.

Oh, I’m sure after seeing some of these, she’ll be just thrilled.

You know something Jerry said that I can’t stop thinking about.

What?

He said, “You are Obama.”

No, you’re definitely Hillary. #

6.6.08

May 15, 2008




Let me see that.

Hold on sweetie, we'll get to that in just a moment.

Excuse me?

Oh, you haven’t seen the Obama clip. Sorry!

What clip?

It was the day after the NARAL endorsement. Talk about perfect timing.

What?

He’s in some factory, probably in Michigan, and a local reporter, a woman, asks him about his plans to help the workers and he turns and makes this “sweetie” comment. It’s a real YouTube moment. You don’t see her, but you can hear the earnestness in her voice. You just see him and his reaction.

And, what was it?

Dismissive. You know, he’s a man’s man.

Well it doesn’t pay to be woman’s woman.

 I don't know about that.

You're right. Occasionally you get praised by John Edwards. 

See, there's something.

Explain to me how form becomes baggage.

Content. I like your baggage.

Gee, thanks.

You know I got in an argument today with a total stranger.

Let me guess,

He was telling the guy over the counter how much he hated you. I scoffed and he looked at me and said, “Now it’s not because she’s a woman or anything.” I stared and said, “I don’t believe you.”

Save your energy.

Well it made me think about my own racism. I’m not one of those people who claim I have none.

Was he black?

 No, he was white. But I wanted to pinpoint the racism in my perception of Obama.

Maybe there is none.

No, there is, it’s in the “sweetie” moment. He was surrounded by executives, all male, all white, and after he patronized the woman, the men all chuckled knowingly. It was a split second reaction that I replayed a dozen times. I thought to myself "he's appeasing them." 

White men appease too!

Yeah but I've observed countless moments of George W. with...

Now the boy meets girl ritual he enacts makes my skin crawl.

What about Obama?

It’s different. For me it’s different, I don’t know.

He was so courtly towards you early on.

He's a performer. 

Yeah, but you can still glimpse things.

What’s your theory?

His post-racial inner circle will probably remain all male and all white.

I’m leaving here depressed again. Thanks.


Anytime. #

5.6.08

May 23, 2008





Hey you.

Hey. Where’s the party?

It’s a party of two. I don’t have Champagne, but I do have a fifteen-dollar Barolo.

No, not possible. Is that a new painting?

Yeah. You know what I found today? The clip of your speech on the Senate floor on the Military Commissions Act of 2006.

Are you going to open that or what?

Yes, yes. I didn’t know if you had voted yea or nay, so I googled it.

[pause]

Do you need help with that corkscrew?

No, I got it. I think.

Let me do it.

Ok.

I can’t believe you thought I would vote yes on that.

[pops cork]

Sarah, this isn’t a Barolo. It says Barola!

Oh. Is that the female version?

Gee, I don’t know. Maybe. Where are the glasses?

Here.

[tastes wine] It’s good!

Let’s toast.

To what?

To inspirational speeches. Especially those delivered in an empty chamber, captured on C-Span and watched by people like me who want to hear some of your words and maybe see some cleavage.

Interesting combination of motivations. What speech are you referring to?

The Military Commissions Act. You’re not listening to me.

Oh, that's right. You know this does taste sort of like a Barolo.

Anyway, I really enjoyed reading it with all the historical anecdotes. But when I watched you deliver it, I couldn’t stop wondering what was wrong with your mouth. Did you get dental work that day?

Maybe. Was I puffy and slurring?

Maybe a little puffy. I could also hear a faint whistle when you spoke and your mouth wasn't moving in the usual way.

That’s what you came away with? That’s what you remember? After all that hard work on the speech.

No, no. It just got me thinking about performance and rhetoric and how visuals get in the way. It’s weird watching senators orate to no one.

There’s always people around.

Yeah, just sort of mulling about. It strikes me as an exercise in futility.

That’s rather cynical.

When I’m watching I get embarrassed sometimes. It’s like I’m experiencing my own sense of futility, my own sense of impotence.

What do you mean?

I don’t know. Pour me some more wine.

Wait, how does watching me deliver a speech on the Senate floor make you feel that way?

Actually I don’t feel that way watching you so much. It’s when I’m watching guys like Kerry or Byrd. I love watching Olympia Snowe. Yes, I would vote for a Republican.

You better not vote for McCain.

Not now. He voted yes on that bill.

So why do those male senators constellate futility and not Olympia or me?

Actually, watching you does constellate it, but not watching you talk. In fact, that’s it. It’s your voice and when it is deliberately ignored or maligned by the media, I get depressed. I see you returning to the Senate and speaking to an empty chamber.

Which, believe me, is not an exercise in futility.

You’ve been speaking directly to us for a year and half. Your priorities and concerns have driven a lot of the conversation, but the media has been dying to give him the microphone and take yours away and they finally succeeded. So it is a futile fight, for any woman, to try and occupy that space out there in the public arena. At least in this country it is.

No. No it’s not. Stop being so cynical.

As soon as you exit stage left there will be no representation in the media of an authoritative, agenda-setting female voice. We’ll be left with the Vieira’s and the Couric’s and the Dowd’s and Noonan’s of the world, commenting on the minutia. I can't describe how depressing that is to me.

I haven’t exited Sarah.

I really wanted you to be my president.

Are you crying?

It’s your voice I crave, the plain speaking one, the one void of clichés and trendy speak like “folks.” The one that embodies an awareness of others, and doesn't need to perform it with empty phrases like “I feel your pain.” and “Yes, we can.” It's why your bid is not based solely on a personal, bio-driven narrative. It's the innate humbleness, the self-effacing part that makes “Church of Hillary” an impossible phenomenon.

I appreciate that. I really do. Please stop crying.

I don't want to. #

4.6.08

June 5, 2008




Another appeal to some imagined other.

Who you talking to?

Nobody. Just thinking. I’m no longer interested in watching.

Watching?

You know those portraits where the eyes are pointed at the viewer, but they’re not really looking.

Maybe. You mean eyes that don’t stare back?

In a way. It’s a gaze that doesn’t engage. Actually I’m not talking about paintings really.

You’re jet-lagged, aren’t you? Why didn’t you take the day off?

 I discovered Grappa. I no longer need sleep.

I can’t drink it. It gives me a headache.

Can you blur your eyes? Can you deliberately make what’s in front of you blurry?

At my age, I don’t have to try.

No, seriously,

I don’t think I can, I don’t know.

Well I can and sometimes when I’m talking to someone and I do it, I wonder if my gaze at that moment isn’t engaging, like it’s distant or something.

Try it.

Ok, look at me and start talking.

[pause]

Come on.

How about those Saints?

Which ones? The Catherine’s or the football team? Can you tell I’m doing it? I’m fuzzing you out.

No, you just look weird, that's all. Tell me about Catherine of Alexandria. Are you Catholic?

 Only by osmosis. Catherine is patron saint of unmarried women, students and philosophers.

Quite a combination.

When she converted to Christianity, she was asked by the Emperor to defend her position to fifty philosophers. She ended up converting all of them and then the Emperor ordered her execution, by the wheel. But when she touched the wheel it broke, and so he had her beheaded.

Nice.

Yeah, she’s gone. There’s no Catherine’s around today. Susan Sontag may have been the last one.

Give me a break. There are tons.

Hannah Arendt is dead too.

Plenty of people still read her. She’s not dead.

She used to be sort of mainstream. I mean she wrote for The New Yorker. Where’s that voice today? It’s been vanquished.

No, it hasn't. It’s at an artist residency. It’ll be back. Didn’t we have this argument already?

Yeah, you made me cry.

No, I didn’t! But I think you’re trying to make me cry. Give me some of that Grappa. #

3.6.08

June 11, 2008




I have the munchies. You want some nachos? 

What else can you make? 

Gumbo. Gumbo and nachos. Take your pick.

That's two things more than I know how to make.

Wait a minute. I read somewhere that you like to cook soft eggs.

Yeah, right. I wonder who on my staff came up with that one.

Well, whoever it was also claimed that your favorite TV show is "American Idol".

[laughs]

It's not funny. I considered not voting for you after I read that.

I'm glad you reconsidered.

You know, you’re now perceived as a ‘great’ feminist. You managed to redeem that word, at least for a day or two.

Stop it. Just make the nachos, ok?

Yes ma’am.

[pause]

Let me ask you something.

What?

How are you going to come down from Saint Hillary?

Sarah, please!

Alright, ok. Sorry.

[long pause]

Can I talk about Florence?

Please do.

Santa Croce was so amazing. The old crypts on the floor with the family seals. I loved walking over them. They all had pillows, you know, under their heads. I mean, as part of the drawing on the floor, carved in marble.

[nods]

Oh, and the exalted graves, decorated with mourning women. Women rule symbolically.

Maybe not so much anymore.

You’re not in the mood to talk tonight, are you?

No, sorry. I’ll listen though.

I’ll spare you.

No talk. Just something other than politics.

Ok.

[pause]

You think she’ll reign again?

Who?

Venus Humanitas

Please. I asked you nicely.

Wait. I’m talking about Florence, not you.

Yeah, right. #

2.6.08

June 14, 2008




Why did they give it to him and not you?

Aggressive lobbying. I didn’t do enough of it. 

Really?

Really.

Is he going to ask for your votes?

He's already campaigning for them.

How did it become your responsibility to deliver them? I mean, how can you guarantee that?

I can’t.

But you’ll be blamed if he doesn’t win them over.

No I wont. Exit polls will redeem me.

What do you mean?

He'll get more than half of the women's vote. It's the white, male, working-class vote he has to worry about. I can't be blamed if he doesn't get that.

Yes, you will. Someone will be blamed. The pundits are going to blame you and your desire to be president.

Listen, the more voices those talking heads malign and dismiss, the more people will tune out. They’re talking to themselves. Period.

God you’re optimistic. Where do you get that from?

I don’t feel optimistic.

Must be Jupiter.

Hey, you said you would do my chart! Where is it?

On my computer.

Well, what are you waiting for? Pull it up.

Ok.

[pause]

Let's see. You have Jupiter in the eighth.

What’s that mean?

Oh no, sorry, that’s transiting Jupiter. You have it on the descendent.

Ok?

That’s a great place for it. Look, Pluto is crossing over it as we speak.

What does that mean?

Umm, well, it’s on the axis of your awareness of others. That means a larger-than-life generosity, a sense of purpose that comes from teaching or inspiring others. I’ve heard you describe yourself as “other-oriented”.

What’s Pluto doing?

Probably giving you a philosophical lesson in fate. It’s very timely, don’t you think? I mean the primaries coincided with your second Saturn return, and now Pluto swings through to clear away the debris.

What do you mean?

I don’t know.

C’mon, you're supposed to know this stuff. 

I am?

That's what you told me!

Oh, well in that case. Let's see, Pluto operates slowly. So a version of Hillary is brewing. What version, I can’t say. Although I bet the more she reveals, the harder it will be to demonize her. You know my mom likes you now.

Oh really?

She used to despise you. It was the baking cookies comment.

Ok, so what is it that speaks to that?

What?

Saying things that get twisted around.

You mean saying the right thing at the wrong time?

I mean the chronic capacity to be pilloried for what I say.

I don’t see anything. I will say that Gemini rising, as perfect as it is for a politician, can make you appear disingenuous. What's on display is the more mercurial aspects of your nature.

There must be something else,

Yes, there is. It’s your passion and drive.

Where do you see that?

In the exact conjunction of Mars and Pluto. It touches Saturn too, although weakly.

That can't be why,

Yes. Yes it can. Your desire scares people, especially the Maureen Dowd’s of the world.

Oh, back to her again.

Look, a lot of men are looking for a hero to worship. They want a guy to prop up and get all tingly about. Many women want a woman for probably the same reason. But the Dowd’s of the world don’t, because it highlights all the resentment they harbor. How dare you hold the stick and transcend the mating call.

She is really snide. Do you think I come across as snide?

No. Maybe a little smug sometimes.

I can live with that. What else is in there?

Saturn-Venus. Chiron-Sun.

What’s that mean?

I do see it now. How funny. Didn’t Katie Couric make a recent statement about sexism in the media coverage of you?

Yeah.

Wasn’t she the one who asked you if your nickname in high school was Frigidaire?

Yes!

Well, there you have it. Questioning your femininity via your sex-appeal. I'd say that’s a Saturn-Venus thing. But I think of it more as an internal struggle. In fact, your embodiment of the feminine is one of the most inspiring things about you, but it's also controversial.

How so?

You take up space, literally. You don’t avert your eyes, unless you’re talking to the press. You woof down hot-dogs and ice cream in front of the cameras. And when you’re performing your flirty-girly demeanor, well, it’s obvious you’re performing it. You're a bad actress. That’s it, in a nutshell. #

1.6.08

June 30, 2008




What area did you work in?

Operator algebras, function theory.

What’s that?

All of my work had to do with representation. You know, presenting something in a new way, which was often in an old, forgotten way. A lot of it had to do with observing what had been overlooked.

I still have no clue what you did.

I would take an object, a familiar one, and play with it. My initial viewpoint would inevitably morph into another one and then into another one. Aimless wandering. That’s what I did.

Sounds like what you do as an artist.

Maybe, but before, all the wandering would end up in the trash. I would go through ten pounds of paper in a week.

Writing?

Yes. Computations.

Give me something concrete, like what kind of objects did you study?

Hankel operators.

What?

Functions.

Ok

Calculus. I was always working with that language, a hyper-generalized version of it. Did you take calculus?

No. 

That's right. You went to an all-girls school. 

That's not why.

God, that must have been blast!

It was, but not for the reason you’re thinking of.

I bet it was good priming for your alpha gene.

I’m not sure if that’s a compliment.

Of course it is! It’s the most attractive thing about “Hillary”. I must redeem it.

It doesn’t need redemption. It’s who I am.

It’s not about you, you know.

Oh. Don’t I get any credit?

You can have all the credit.

[pause]

I'm curious. What kind of women would you choose, you know, if you were gay?

I would choose you. 

Yeah right. I'd believe you if you weren't laughing. 

Well, it's a ridiculous question.

No it's not. I bet you'd pick a closeted A-lister, wouldn't you?

I told you who I'd pick.

You wouldn't pick me. She would have to pass and I don't.

What makes you think I'd be closeted?

Well, given your aspirations, you wouldn't have a choice.

Everyone thinks I'm gay anyway.

I know plenty of straight women who read as gay. In fact, my favorite women often do.

I'm one of your favorite women?

Of course.

You know Sarah, if I were a lesbian I’d want to be with a woman like you.

No you wouldn’t. Believe me.

No, seriously. I would.

That may be the nicest thing anyone has ever told me.

Are you going to cry?

No. I’ll wait till you leave.

You’re not waiting.

Well, then, maybe you should go.

Are you sure? You okay? I didn't mean to

Yes, I’m fine. Really. I just want to be alone.

Ok. Alright then. Bye.

Bye. #

30.5.08

The Way We Were


video