Published: Feb 23, 2017
Category: Art and Photography
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THE WEEK IN BUTLER
Christina Baker Kline: A Piece of the World
The Kid from Tomkinsville
Jamie Oliver: The Cake Tin & more
Andy Warhol died on February 22, 1987 — a Sunday morning, the best time for a media death. By Sunday night, I’d skimmed four books about Warhol and called the key sources to set up interviews for Monday. On Wednesday, I finished a 7,000 word cover story for New York magazine. The issue came out on Monday. On Tuesday, Tina Brown called to offer me a job at Vanity Fair, and a new chapter of my writing life began.
Andy had drawn shoes for Henri Bendel ads when Geraldine Stutz ran the store. In 1987, she was a publisher, full of tasty ideas. One was to collect those drawings from the 1950s, when Warhol was young and eager and unknown. Another was to have me write the text. She published this charming, whimsical art between covers of corrugated cardboard — on a coffee table, the book stood out. Thirty years after Andy Warhol’s death, it still looks witty and fresh. Or so says its author. [To buy “Pre-Pop Warhol” from Amazon, click here.]
The New York piece? Here’s the first section. For the rest, please click on the link at the bottom.
The first sign that there was something wrong with Andy Warhol, that he might be a mortal being after all, came three weeks ago. It was a Friday night, and after dinner with friends at Nippon, he was planning to see “Outrageous Fortune”, eat exactly three bites of a hot-fudge sundae at Serendipity, buy the newspapers, and go to bed. At dinner, though, he felt a pain. It was a sharp, bad pain, and rather than let anyone see him suffer, he excused himself. And as soon as he got home, the pain went away.
“I’m sorry I said I had to go home,” Warhol told Pat Hackett a few days later as he narrated his daily diary entry to her over the phone. “I should have gone to the movie, and no one would ever have known.”
In fact, no one remembered. And if anyone suspected trouble, it was dispelled the next week by Warhol’s ebullient spirits at the Valentine’s dinner for 30 friends that he held at Texarkana with Paige Powell, the young woman who was advertising director of Interview magazine by day and Warhol’s favorite date by night. Calvin Klein had sent him a dozen or so bottles of Obsession, and before Warhol set them out as party favors for the women, he drew hearts on them and signed his name. On one — for ballerina Heather Watts — he went further, inscribing the word the public never associates with Andy Warhol: “Love.”
The following afternoon, the pain returned. Brigid Berlin, his friend of 24 years, was with Warhol at his studio at 22 East 33rd Street. She was on her way to a London spa to lose weight, but she felt like one last chocolate binge. Warhol had a big box, so they went upstairs for one of the most familiar rituals of his life — someone acting out while he watched. “I’m dying for one,” he confessed. “But I can’t. I have a pain.”
Warhol spent most of that weekend in bed. On Monday, for the first time in six years, he didn’t go to work. That morning, he canceled his appointments with his exercise trainer for the entire week. On Tuesday, he still wasn’t well, so Paige Powell canceled a lunch for potential advertisers. That night, however, Warhol and Miles Davis were scheduled to model Koshin Satoh’s clothes at the Tunnel. And there was no way Andy Warhol could have tolerated an announcement that he was indisposed.
“Andy stood in a cold dressing room for hours, waiting to model,” says Stuart Pivar, a trustee of the New York Academy of Art and, for the past five years, Warhol’s best friend. “He was in terrible pain. You could see it in his face.” Still, Warhol went out and clowned his way through the show. Then he rushed backstage.
“Stuart, help. Get me out of here,” he gasped. “I feel like I’m gonna die.”
Warhol knew that the problem was his gallbladder, and that surgery was long overdue. But he had an even bigger problem with traditional medicine. In 1968, as he lay in the emergency room of a downtown hospital after Valerie Solanas had shot him, he heard doctors tell his friends there was no chance of his survival—an opinion they changed, he said, only when one friend announced that the patient was famous and had money. Ever since then, he feared doctors so much that when he went to auctions at Sotheby’s, he turned away to avoid even a look at New York Hospital. “If I go into a hospital again,” he confided to Beauregard Houston-Montgomery, “I won’t come out. I won’t survive another operation.”
But Warhol didn’t ignore his health—he just redirected his concern about it. He consulted nutritionists, popped vitamins at every meal, was treated with tinctures, and carried a crystal in his pocket. Two weeks ago, when the pain kept coming back, he visited one of these practitioners. “She manipulated the gallstones,” Warhol told a friend, “and they went into the wrong pipe.”
The pain didn’t go away, and Warhol finally agreed to surgery. Powell called him at home that Friday and asked him to come in and sign a copy of the new issue of Interview for Dionne Warwick. “I can’t right now,” he said. How about the ballet on Sunday? “Don’t cancel.”
That Saturday, surgeons at New York Hospital removed Warhol’s gallbladder. That night, he was awake and stable. At 5:30 on Sunday morning, however, he suffered a heart attack. Doctors worked for an hour, but Andy Warhol was right for the last time. He died, at 58, without regaining consciousness.
The news of Warhol’s death moved quickly through the city, and clusters of friends gathered to mourn. Many cried as if they’d lost a father. But as the eulogies came out, a more Warholian feeling began to overshadow this grief. It was unavoidable, really, and as the days passed, some of the people who knew him best began to say it: Andy would really have enjoyed this.
For the rest of the piece, click here.
Stephen Saltonstall, my college roommate and post-college screenwriting partner, had a brilliant career as a public interest lawyer. Now he drives a water truck to refresh migrants on the Arizona/Mexico border. Why? 158 sets of human remains were found in the Southern Arizona wildlands in 2016. Many more would have died if Humane Borders didn’t set out watering stations that made 20,000 gallons of water available last year. Humane Borders has one paid employee, 4 aging trucks and a team of dedicated volunteers. They do a lot on a budget of $80,000. They’d like to do more. Contributions are tax-deductible. Consider yourself encouraged. For information and to donate, click here.
Sheku Kanneh-Mason, 17, is the BBC Young Musician of 2016. He has a record contract. And he made Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” new.
This runaway favorite on Amazon is a pressure cooker, slow cooker, yogurt maker, and more — and it cooks 2 to 6 times faster than other methods. And now it’s official: It’s been anointed by the New York Times.
“I already own a stovetop pressure cooker, the conventional kind that you would heat over a burner and then regulate yourself,” Melissa Clark writes. “It is currently supporting a colony of dust bunnies in the back of my highest cabinet, behind the panini press. I never got over my fear of exploding split-pea soup to use it with any regularity. What makes this newest generation of electric pressure cookers different is that it is designed with a slew of self-regulating safety features, including sensors to monitor the unit’s temperature and amount of pressure. All you do is plug it in and tap a button, and it does everything else. It’s as user-friendly as a slow cooker — except that it gets dinner on the table a day or so faster.”
Butler readers agree. Jean Barrett: “Steel-cut oats take 25-30 minutes normally, but you have to keep an eye on them when you cook on the stove. Cooking oats in the Instant Pot really doesn’t save much time because of the time to warm the cooker and the time to let off steam, so to speak. But it’s time you can be doing something else entirely. In the morning, I put steel-cut oats into the pot with water and a dash of salt, set it for 10 minutes (the pressure-cooking time), then leave for a 35-minute walk. When I get back, the IP has the cooked oatmeal waiting for me — hot.”
Note: This is not a small item. It weighs 14 pounds. It has a 13” footprint. It will not roast a chicken to your satisfaction. To buy it from Amazon, click here.
“The Salesman” has been nominated for an Academy Award for best foreign-language movie. But its writer/director, Asghar Farhadi, is Iranian, so although he’s no terrorist, he can’t fly to Los Angeles for the ceremony. (Even if he gets a visa waiver, he says he won’t be there.) Like his 2011 film, “A Separation,” which won the best foreign-language Oscar, something happens early on and the story changes, which makes the film like our lives, where unexpected consequences take us places we never imagined. The final 30 minutes are incredibly tense and nearly silent, and when the film ended I was full of questions, eager to talk, and convinced that Farhadi is one of the best writer/directors on the planet. I bet you’ll feel that way too.
Obligatory Blog Roll
- Andrew Tobias
- Jenny McPhee
- The Midas Watch
- Roughly Daily
- Ta-Nehisi Coates
- Charles Pierce
- James Fallows
- Dominique Browning
- Speakers in Code
- New York
- Manhattan User’s Guide
- Show Biz
- Roger Friedman
- New York Social Diary
- Designer Previews