GLENN O’BRIEN: INTELLIGENCE FOR DUMMIES

Af Lars Movin

Det har i årevis været min vane så vidt muligt at læse omkring en times tid hver morgen, inden jeg går i gang med dagens arbejde. For det første er der så mange interessante bøger i verden, der fortjener at blive læst, og for det andet ville det være alt for brutalt at gå direkte til arbejdet. Hvis jeg vidste, at jeg skulle durk hen til computeren, ville jeg blive i sengen, det er helt sikkert. En times tid med en bog åbner dagen og verden på en skånsom måde, og ikke sjældent er der oven i købet inspiration at hente i det aktuelle læsestof.

Det har der eksempelvis været i de seneste dages morgenbog, “Intelligence for Dummies”, en posthumt udsendt essaysamling af Glenn O’Brien (1947-2017). O’Brien kræver muligvis en introduktion i en dansk kontekst, men sagen er, at han har været aktiv i så mange sammenhænge, at det hurtigt kunne blive en hel roman. Derfor blot disse stikord: redaktør af Andy Warhols magasin Interview, initiativtager til et legendarisk downtown-kabel-tv-talkshow kaldet “TV Party”, redaktør, forfatter, journalist og columnist for en række toneangivende magasiner, m.m.

Nærværende bog, der har forord af Jonathan Lethem, er opdelt i en række sektioner, der vidner om O’Briens spændvidde som skribent: “Being Glenn O’Brien”, “Art”, “Politics”, “Music”, “Advertising” og “Fame, Fashion and Living”. Tidsånd og populærkultur, kunne man måske sammenfatte det til. O’Brien var en blændende stilist, og blandt udvalgets perler er introduktioner til Warhols verden, portrætter af ikoner som Kurt Cobain, Nan Goldin, Jean-Michel Basquiat og Johnny Rotten samt skarpe og underholder refleksioner om stort og småt i tiden, for det meste set fra forfatterens base i New York.

Her følger otte tekstprøver:

Om tiden som redaktør af Warhol’s Interview:
“The original Interview office was a room on the tenth floor of 33 Union Square West. The artist Saul Steinberg had his studio upstairs and always gave us dirty looks in the elevator. The Factory was the sixth floor. We shared the tenth floor with some architects’ offices. One day Andy was up in the office taking pictures of my Jockey shorts for the inside cover art of Rolling Stones’ ‘Sticky Fingers’ album. He was kneeling in front of me with his Polaroid Big Shot and Fred Hughes was heckling when the door opened and several businessmen in suits walked in. One said, ‘Isn’t this the architects’ office?’” (1989)

Om Donald Trump (bemærk årstal):
“If Marla Maples is the Marilyn Monroe of the ‘90s, does that make Donald Trump the Jack Kennedy of the ‘90s? It looks that way to me. Rather than hurting Trump’s political chances, Marla makes them. I think this sex-symbol campaign of his is really just the foreplay to a full-scale run at the presidency. (…) I may be mistaken, but I can’t see Quayle fucking around when there’s golf to be played. My bet is that Don Trump is the next candidate for America’s ritually cyclic priapic president. Want to lay me odds?” (1990)

Om Miles Davis’ ankomst til Himlen:
“In fact no one had imagined the degree of freedom enjoyed here. Rahsaan Roland Kirk had become a film maker and Art Pepper and Stan Getz owned a pharmacy with a lunch counter. The musicians had their own neighborhood but other types lived there as well. Kerouac had a duplex across the street from Yardbird’s Barbecue and Lenny Bruce lived in a penthouse across from Five Spot and could often be spotted sharing a stick of tea in the park with Cab Calloway or Gil Evans.” (1998)

Om Jean-Michel Basquiat:
“I remember when we got stopped by the cops in Harlem at 3AM. I said ‘Don’t worry. They can’t search us. It’s not legal.’ He said, ‘the cops can do anything they want.’ And that was before Michael Stewart died in handcuffs.” (1999)

Om Andy Warhol:
“I remember how much Andy hated it when somebody wanted to shake hands.” (2001)

Om Sarah Palin:
“Sarah Palin represents a radical seismic shift in political strategy. Once leaders were chosen for being the best and brightest – we sought out orators, strategists, polymaths, and geniuses to lead us. Today our leaders may be chosen for their representation of American average and for en utter lack of distinction. It is part of the campaign against the intelligentsia, the quiche-and-arugula-eating, Chardonnay-sipping elite. Because of profound changes in the structure of mass media – a shift from the literate world of newspapers to the sound-bite world of cable TV – we have a different sort of democracy today. We now have TV-driven elections and we are discovering that they are very similar to TV programs that involve voting, such as ‘American Idol’.” (2008)

Om musik (i essay om Kurt Cobain):
“Music is like religion without rules. It can take you to a higher place but demands nothing in return. A hit song is an epiphany. It stops you in your tracks, freezes you in space and carries you into time that’s moving along but also standing still.” (2014)

Om tiden, der var (i essay om Nan Goldin):
“I’ve known Nan Goldin for about 33 years, mostly from across the room. In the ‘80s, that room might have been at the Mudd Club or a party at Cookie Mueller’s apartment or at a crazy little house where Nan’s friend Bruce Balboni lived in Little Italy. I still think about that enchanted/disenchanted nighttime world every time I walk down Elizabeth Street. It was really another world, but maybe realer than this one. It still flickers in my memory, and it exists in Nan’s work, the best history of life at a certain time and place that now seems like crucial history.” (2016)

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