Pleasantly uplifting note in the inbox a few weeks ago, a couple of days before the expedition to Morocco with Rob Howard (hence my failure to mention it).
Almost buried beneath ‘I am fashion and livestyles photographer living on Rome who is interest in wanking with you as New York agent’ and the ‘I’m Gary Speed’s studio manager. Gary specializes in product still-life with a contemporary edgy feel, already has a Mid-West agent but is considering you to promote his work in New York’ was a tastefully pithy one-liner from the delightful Conor Risch at PDN.
‘Julian, again, thank you’.
And a link to a little telephone conversation we’d enjoyed a few weeks earlier, which he had reconstituted into an interview and published on-line. Well, not really an interview so much as Truman Capote attempting Lear’s storm on the heath soliloquy in the bath. You can almost feel the lisp and the tiny, fat, fluttering hands. Mercifully, Conor just about steered me through the quicksands of my towering solipsism and I was able to read the piece without breaking out into spontaneous hives of embarrassment. Bertrand Russell is isn’t: but it does pontificate with gravity upon such penetrating issues as the shift from bespoke portfolios to tailor-made PDF’s in the pursuit of advertising work and are we witnessing the tragic demise of the puffy black Brewer Cantelmo case with the shiny lucida grande embossing? Think Kim Kardashian parsing Aristotle. The conversation lasted 40 minutes, but by the time he’d removed the word fucking it was down to a couple of succinct paragraphs.
Amazingly, what followed was a stream of kind words from strangers. ‘What clarity of thought!’ said somebody ‘You go, girl!’ said somebody else, sending me back into my closet to retrieve and burnish my maverick agent credentials. However, even as I was sitting there, rubbing the family jewels with Duraglit, I had pause to consider the irony of this chorus of approval, set against the gnashing teeth of photographers who have been the unwitting beneficiaries of my swashbuckling social radicalism. Returning to the closet, I rooted around in an old Manolo Blahnik box and retrieved a letter from 2009. It amply illustrates the gap between stated theory and wintry reality. As TS Eliot put it: ‘Between the idea / And the reality / Between the motion / And the act / Falls the Shadow.’ Here’s the letter.
‘Please get rid of that fucking Italian-Teutonic brown piece of shit website you think is so fucking clever and entertaining (but is actually nothing short of incomprehensible, unnavigable and wholly irritating) and replace it with something that shows pictures and tells us how the fuck people can find you. You’re an agent, you asshole. You’re not fucking Oscar Wilde, no matter how much you flounce about in a dressing gown, twisting a camelia. You’re flogging pictures to poisoners. Wake up. You think some bladder of drivel about vestal vaginas in middle-eastern churches is going to pay your photographers’ mortgages? Or giggling with some complete idiot with a Jacobean name who appears to be little more than a flaccid pornographer specializing in sparrowy women, poorly groomed, skinny as whippets? Nobody has read a poem by Gerard Manley Hopkins in the best part of a century, dude, your portentous analogies to the photographer/agent relationship are falling on deaf ears. And who gives a dog’s cock whether or not you’re enjoying yourself? In case you haven’t noticed, your website is the colour of faeces. You left boarding school nearly thirty years ago, isn’t it about time you made an effort to elevate the discourse beyond naughty tittering in the dorm after lights-out? If rather than squandering midnight hours recomposing ‘Ode to a Nightingale’ into an unfathomable reverie on erectile dysfunction, you’d instead left the Hendricks on the nightstand, signed on to Adbase and sent clear and informative emails about your photographers’ work to every creative in Christendom … maybe you would have landed that Third Wellfleet Bank of Priapus library of imagery from The Buttock Alliance in Des Moines. Or are you still operating under the misguided assumption that paid work is the product of fostering a chimera of wit and intelligence, rather than dogged legwork, cold-calling, portfolio breakfasts and attendance at LeBook Connections in every city between here and Kandahar? You may scoff at a trayful of Dunkin’ Donuts in a windowless conference-room smelling of farts; you may sneer at a dousing of Eau Savage and some bewitching techniques of fanning promotional cards on Formica; but then I guess you’ll be the smugly penniless one working from a semen-encrusted storage space in Canarsie while the big boys with the freshly enameled bridgework, the portraits of themselves above their desks and their initials etched into frosted glass cubicle dividers are coining the Caspian Trousers dollars from Fystme Corky Allbright & Sweetling.