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Chip Livingston

September 18, 2018

I Remember Joe Brainard’s Cock Pics

I remember the first time I saw Joe Brainard’s cock pics. His lover Kenward kept a box and I was Kenward’s curious assistant. The cock was lovely, the photos keepers, the sentiment a reminder things don’t change much. I’ve traded such with loves and lovers and strangers. We seek revelations, and seeing Joe’s cock was such a revelation, a more intimate look into his erotic art, or at least his erotic life, a look at his life with Kenward through printed black and white pics, snapshots kept in a box on a shelf not shared with strangers—though they’re likely public now, sent and stored with Kenward’s papers at the University of California San Diego Library, so much for cocksure anonymity in any age, at any age, dead or alive, and no secrets kept in a world penned, painted and photographed by New York School poets who kept and keep sharing each other’s art and private lives for others to look at and into through language and visuals.

Not much is hidden of Joe—tan crisp, cock long and thick, balls heavy—in these pics, although he sports a skin-tight, tie-dyed tank top. It’s the cool kind of strange to realize these are all 1960s originals, down to the tie-dye, photographed in Kenward’s Vermont bedroom. Joe’s arms are crossed in front of and behind him. Kenward’s not the best photographer and crops off the top of Joe’s forehead, keeping his focus below the thick eyebrows, on his young god’s goods. Joe’s look is put-on bored and curious, a soft pout proud and pensive, strangely both pornographic and poetic. Kenward’s shots are amateur, without so much consideration as to clean up the background. In one picture there is laundry on the rocking chair. Another pic Joe’s sitting on the rocking chair, his underwear thrown on Kenward’s bedroom floor, next to the coiled rug, where never very much has been swept under.

Of course I looked at Joe’s cock—it was Joe Brainard’s cock!—but I kept seeing the whitest thing in the black and white photograph. I kept looking at the briefs crumbled on the floor, knowing with the strange sensation that I’d seen the same white shape before, although myself no stranger to underwear quickly tossed disrobing for a lover or to send a potential lover a hasty unconsidered composition. I carried the picture along Kenward’s storied stairwell, among Joe’s art, looking for the image I knew I’d seen before, framed among Kenward’s collection walls.

I found it: Joe’s lightly penciled pair of crumbled paper briefs. I kept comparing the pic with the white collage, confirming a photo-to-art match. I admit to admiring Kenward’s collection of Joe’s cock pics, kept undisclosed for more than fifty years, stored now I suppose with so much boxed material sent to UCSD. It’s strange to consider what you can find when you know where to look.


Chip Livingston is the author of the novel Owls Don’t Have to Mean Death; a collection of essays and short stories, Naming Ceremony; and two poetry collections, Crow-Blue, Crow-Black and Museum of False Starts. His poems, essays, and stories have appeared in Ploughshares, Prairie Schooner, Mississippi Review, Cincinnati Review, Court Green, The Journal, and on the Academy of American Poets and the Poetry Academy websites. Chip teaches in the low-residency MFA programs at Institute of American Indian Arts and Regis University. He lives in Montevideo, Uruguay.

Joe Brainard’s art work used by permission of the Estate of Joe Brainard and courtesy of Tibor de Nagy Gallery, New York.

 

 

Interviews

Punctuate in Conversation with Ken Krimstein, Author and Illustrator of The Three Escapes of Hannah Arendt: A Tyranny of Truth

September 18, 2018

Ken Krimstein has published cartoons in the New Yorker, Punch, the Wall Street Journal, and more. He has written for New York Observer’s “New Yorker’s Diary” and has published pieces on websites including McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, Yankee Pot Roast, and Mr Beller’s Neighborhood. He is the author of Kvetch as Kvetch Can and teaches at De Paul University and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. He lives in Evanston, Illinois.

In a lively email exchange, Ken Krimstein communicated with Punctuate Managing Editor Ian Morris recently about his new book The Three Escapes of Hannah Arendt: A Tyranny of Truth, a graphic memoir of Hannah Arendt and the philosophy and history of her age.

Punctuate; Fans of your New Yorker cartoons will likely be surprised that The Three Escapes of Hannah Arendt is a graphic history of twentieth-century European philosophy. What inspired you to undertake this project?

Krimstein: In addition to loving what we in the cartooning business refer to as “gag” cartoons, single panel “jokes,” with or without words (think Charles Addams, S. Gross, George Booth), I’ve always loved longer form comics. Sure, it started with Superman and Batman when I was a kid, but I also inherited from my great uncle many comics in a series entitled Classics Illustrated. You can figure out what they were: comics about men in tights. Comics of Moby Dick to The History of World War I. I loved them all. As I got older, I discovered the wonders of R. Crumb, and of course Maus, Persepolis, and on and on. In addition, I’ve always been a huge fan of both biographies and of philosophy.

One question has always intrigued me—how does a person’s life affect their art or thinking?

Now, add Hannah Arendt to the equation. She was always on my radar. I think I first tried reading The Origins of Totalitarianism when I was in middle school. And her later idea of “the banality of evil” seemed fresh and unexpected and important. I wanted to wrestle with it.

While working on my weekly New Yorker submissions, my agent said a publisher was interested in seeing “anything,” from me, whatever I wanted to do. I thought, “Aha! I’ll do that long-form comic treatment of the enigmatic Hannah Arendt.” And when I actually opened the biographies, I found at every turn the events of her life were completely compelling. Her character and her thinking always impacted me in a powerful way— I felt like I knew her. I couldn’t not do it. Continue Reading

Essays

Mary Livoni

September 18, 2018

Short Fables Made with Industrial Noir

For several years, I daydreamed my way around an industrial neighborhood and a few scrap yards that were located around and in between my apartment and painting studio in Chicago.

Water Tower and Crescent

Dusk and dawn—when the light defining the buildings, the water towers, the bridges, and the vast scrap yards was most beautiful and the most mysterious, when the streets were still—those were the hours that inspired me and helped me define the look and feel of my drawings.

Inspiration from poetry and literature sustained me then, as it still does.

My most current body of work features collages, video broadsides, and photography. You’ll find it here https://www.marylivoni.com/ as well as  https://www.estheticlens.com/author/mary_livoni/

 

Sentinel

 

Gotham Sphinx

 

The Life You Save May Be Your Own

Mystery and Melancholy on the Streets of Chicago