Berfrois

Growl

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by Filip Noterdaeme

For
Andrew Solomon

I

I am seeing the worst minds of my generation redeemed by
money, eager ambitious loaded,
working their way up the career path at Yale
looking for a fast shortcut,
square-headed bankers vying for the urgent timely
connection to the star-studded club in the machin-
ery of might,
who orderly and pampered and manicured and demanding speak
ill texting in the overachieving glow of
skyscraper digs rising above the fray of downtown
contemplating golf,
who flash their dicks in selfies in the shower and
stalk meat-packing interns staggering on cobble-
stones polished,
who fall up the ladder with hungry cold eyes
guzzling Red Bull and neon-light travesty
among the colonels of economics,
who are nominated Least Likely to Succeed &
make out like a bandit on the heels of Steve
Jobs,

who lean back in executive offices in suspenders, poo-
ling their money in laundry baskets and hopping
to the beat of the Dow,
who cruise around Saint Tropez returning through
Mykonos with a pillbox hat for Mother’s Day,
who chew burgers in first class or drink Coke in
French vineyards, Diet, or educate their
six-packs squat after squat
with bills, with cash, with friendly deceptions, Twit-
ter tweets and stocks and trusty funds,
Impervious blind spots of calculating minds and

action on the screen zooming in on landmarks of
Detroit and Baltimore, anticipating all the un-
bearable lightness of leisure,
Superfluous amenities of lofts, Brooklyn Two Trees Management
condos, blond ADD on the terrace,
boutique boroughs of doorstep deliveries Freon
chilling muggy night, Fiji Water and car
vibrations in the soaring summer heat of Mon-
tauk, Facebook postings and compulsive glib comments,
who swipe complimentary metrocards for the handy
ride from Wall Street to Fulton on caffeine
until the cloying proofread Poetry in Motion makes
them feel squeaky clean refreshed and
inspired wide awake all ready for success
in the T-Mobile LED light,

who drink all night in Mojito haze in South Beach
pass out and sleep through the hot rum mon-
soon in resplendent jacuzzis, swinging to the beat
of Spotify on the candy pink iPod,
who text continuously seventeen hours from iPhone to
iPad to laptop to Lapland to shot glass to Goo-
gle Glass,
a new generation of neocon democrats crawling
up the ranks of Whitehall of deregulation
of free market enterprise out of 1984,
high high-jacking faking omitting incriminating facts
and memos and binders full of women
and stacks of shareholders and stats and slots,
overachievers engaged in total control for seven years
and decades with clenched jaws, cash for the
charity wasted on the tab,
who appear out of nowhere Paris Texas forwarding a
trail of blurry cellphone pictures of the busy
Brooklyn Bridge,
enjoying Thai massage and Korean Bar-be-
cues and blowjobs of Russia under leave of
absence in Kuwait’s slick hotel rooms,
who squander again and again at midnight in the
headquarters wondering where to hide, and hide,
avoiding Occupy protesters,

who store their data on Dropbox Dropbox Dropbox inflating
through smoke towards Ponzi schemes in se-
cret delight,
who study Adam Smith Milton Friedman probabili-
ty and pop psychology because that bullshit de-
finitively vibrates with the boys in Chelsea,
who surf through the pages of Grindr seeking do-
minant alpha males who are dominant alpha
males,
who only think they’ve been had when Obama
declines the Ice Bucket Challenge,
who interrupt conversations with the chairman of BP
Oil on the impulse of competitive conspicuous
shopping sprees,
who stroll lazy and blasé through Paris
seeking bling or fun or poop, and cheer the
lippy barman waxing poetics about America
and freedom, a generous tip, and so take hold
of Africa,
who disappear into the casinos of Mexico leaving
behind nothing but the smell of clean sheets
and the drama and flash of Netflix projected in 3D surround
sound,
who reappear on the front News explaining the
deficit in stars and stripes with big emphatic
smiles spotless in their pinstripe suits broadcasting birth-
day wishes,

who burn through bonuses on weekends celebrating
the addictive chocolate glaze of real estate,
who hand out superfluous advice on Salon
dot com preening and prancing while the singers
of American Idol bring down the house, and bring down
Cher, and the economy is also going
down,
who break into smiles in white galleries ecstatic
and rambling before the miracle of floating
basketballs,
who kiss buddies on the cheek and sigh with relief
in limousines for denouncing all crimes but their
own manic social travesty and anal fixation,
who bemoan the fate of the bees and the trees and then
board a plane carrying babies and Gucci
bags,
who get their homes purged of all sass by saintly
immigrants, and beam with pride,
who screw and get screwed by those smart contortionists,
the lobbyists, heroes of American and European
business,
who feel good in the morning in the evenings in fitting
rooms and the seats of private planes and
penthouses scattering their brains compulsively to
whatever come what may,

who google themselves trying to giggle but wind up
with a sob about indiscretion on HuffPo
when the tall & tired butler comes to feed
them with a macaroon,
who lost their bids to the three buddies from law school
the law school buddy of the heterosexual persuasion
the law school buddy that wanks under his desk
and the law school buddy that does nothing but
snack on Goldfish and pop the virtual bubble
wrap of the Amazon’s doom,
who negotiate eratic and obstinate with a list of
trades a manager a package of incentives a profit
margin and close the deal, and continue along
the lines and past the fine print and end up writing
on the wall with conclusions of ultimate gains and
feign including the last gizmos of social consciousness,
who mark up the pitches of a million sales brimming
in the file cabinet, on the red-eye in the morning
but prepared to sweeten the deal with the White
House, squishing earmarks undercover and splendid
in the grass,
who get into hoarding at Walmart with myriad
gadgets on sale, M. Z., poster child for these
poems, entrepreneur and nerd of Harvard –– here’s
to the memory of the forgotten days of real friendships
with real faces & real books in real life, in studios filled

with junk, on fire escapes of lofts or with
perfect strangers in spontaneous playful
courting games & especially cozy kitchen
talks of dreamers, & nightclub dance floors too,
who flock to see the latest indie movie, practice yoga in
teams, work on a speeding air train, and
think themselves out of the ordinary jog-
ging with delish Kombucha and tremors of Union
Square farmer stands & bemoan their compro-
mised orifices,
who work out all day with their heart in their pants on
the Elliptical looking for the remote for the
flat screen to find the channel full of steaming
food porn,
who create fake psychodramas at intimate
dinner parties in the Hamptons under the red alert
flickering of scented candlelight & their tantrum shall
be rewarded with cupcakes in heaven,
who eat the Kobe beef of the procrastination or order
Apple-tinis at the lobby bar of the Bowery
Hotel,
who sleep through the premiere at the Met with their
iPhones full of emails and bad music,
who sit in boxes gloating in their coolness in Madison
Square Garden, and rise up to build recognition on
Pinterest,

who golf on the windy hills of the DR lined
with lampions under the neon sky surrounded
by sunbleached relics of ecology,
who eBay all night bidding and pouring over vintage
reproductions which in the early morning are
promptly delivered by FedEx,
who eat kaiseki-style blowfish tuna sushi salmon sashimi
& shawarma talking of their pure vegetable
diet,
who elbow themselves to the top looking for
Jesus,
who grow their beards extra long to be with the “in” crowd
for eternity in Williamsburg, & style guides
clutter their mailbox every day ever since,
who cut their losses three times without regret regret-
fully, move on and decide to start startup
companies that are thought to be growing
fast and die,
who burn several calories in their elegant workout suits
at Equinox gyms amid blasts of nonstop news
and the tank-top clad iron trainers
of moguls & the never-ending chitchat of the
hedge fund fudgepackers & the laughing gas of hy-
perventilating yogis, or binge-watch catty
dogfights on the Real Housewives of Wherever,

who join a progressive church this actually hap-
pens and walk away applauded and celebrated
into the admiring gaze of Stumptown coffee baris-
tas and waitresses, make that a double shot,
who log into Windows in anticipation, move to Euro-
trash Cobble Hill, swim in a saltwater pool,
rip off Mexicans, love the cheese at Trader Joe’s,
prance in vintage Manolo Blahniks download
MP3 files of celebrated French
1990’s Deejay remixes order takeout and
spew Chia seeds shouting into their bloody cellphone, beeps
in their ears and the blast of colossal leaf-
blowers,
who cajole up the Highline in Chelsea journeying
to each other’s post-modern post-structural
fix or Jeff Koons’s train wreck,
who wait in line seventy-two hours to find out
if I have a password or you have a password or he has
a password to get the last Cronut,
who journey to St. Barth’s, who lunch in St. Barth’s, who
come back to St. Barth’s & sunbathe in vain, who
talk about St. Barth’s & shop and drop in
St. Barth’s and finally go away to find out about
Dubai, & now St. Barth’s is longing for their dollars,

who climb up the stairs in spineless museums vying
for each other’s art collection and lovers and assets,
until the Duchamp interrupts their glow for a second,
who fight their boredom with cocaine paid for
through popular non-profits with noble mission statements and the
charm of do-gooders up their noses singing “Sweet
Home Alabama,”
who move to Florida to avoid taxes, or Lake
Como to meet George Clooney or Portland for latte’s
or southern California for wetback rednecks or
Sag Harbor to the Rockies to Aspen to
the baggage claim or spa,
who demand monthly promotions accusing HR of ne-
potism & give in to their insanity & their
hobbies & a hung masseur,
who blow air kisses at CNN presenters on Labor Day

and subsequently present themselves on the
marble steps of the courthouse with ascot ties
and stomp speeches of equal opportunity, demanding in-stantaneous autonomy,
and who instead marry the collective comfort of Ritalin
Prozac TV Guide paleo diet vegan
diet gluten-free diet pilates &
Viagra,
who in feisty ambition finance their own private
chamber orchestra, filling concert halls with their friends

discovering years later the exceptional joys of gay father-
hood thanks to in vitro fertilization, surrogate moms
pedigreed egg donors and the peer pressure of the
Village,
Empire State’s Citicorp’s and Time Warner’s gilded
halls, echoing with the bickerings of consumerism, spark-
ling and glowing in the midnight twenty-four seven
sadness of minimum wage, American dream a night-
mare, souls turned to ice as cold as Ben &
Jerry’s,
with Maddoff finally ******, and the new bestselling eBook
flung out of the cab’s window, and the new
bar closed before it could open and the new smartphone
jammed between buns by mistake and the new
cabaret room closed but for a handful of
nostalgic fans, a pink slip handed
on a silver tray in the lobby, and even that
a wakeup call, just another grim little piece of
reality––
ah, Andrew, while you’re sitting pretty I am not safe, and
now you’re really in the total animal soup of
fame––
and who forever run through their bullet points obsessed
with the sudden rise of the tipping point of the use
of tablets the firewall the iCloud & the Nespresso
machine,

who skype and make intricate deals at Saxon & Parole
through brokers competing, and flip the
transaction of the day between 2 power breakfasts
and join the young collectors’ club and set the price
and value of mid-career artists higher jumping
with giddiness of omnipotent Larry
Gagosian
to imitate the style and lifestyle of real New
Yorkers and stand before you self-conscious and dili-
gent and burning with zeal, hesitant yet pur-
ging out the soul to conform to the laws
of money in their splendid little heads,
the trust fund babies and fashion brats at Condé Nast, witless,
yet putting in print what might be left to say
in time before the deadline,
and rise dolled up in goth T-shirts from Urban Outfitters in
the golden mall of midtown and blow the
desire of America’s collective mind for earnestness into
“clap along if you feel like that’s what you wanna do” ring-
tones that crashed the internet down to the last laptop
with the utmost importance of the business of art hammered
into their own brains good to last until the last lonely
laugh.

II

What swine of shiny alluring gold is twisting
their heads around and dilutes their brains and imagi-
nation?
Money! Ecstasy! Greed! Corruptness! Bitcoins and end-
less dollars! Brokers dealing behind a
smoke screen! Girls dancing at the Grammys! White
sharks swimming in formaldehyde!
Money! Money! Nightmare of Money! Money the

priceless! Crazy Money! Money the sexy
seducer of men!
Money the voluntary prison! Money the
wishbone jailhouse rock and win win
situations! Money whose fantasies are myriad!
Money the obscene reason for war! Money the pup-
pet governments!
Money whose mind is sheer math! Money whose
sweat is running pearls! Money whose fingers are
blood-smeared! Money whose face is a corporate
cannibal! Money whose ears are forever dumb!
Money whose eyes are a thousand blind lawyers!
Money whose skyscrapers rise along the Hudson
like early morning erections! Money whose sweat-
shops smoke and croak in China! Money whose
fossil fuel and fracking pollute the cities!

Money whose lure is an endless easy street! Money
whose fuel is big hopes and dreams! Money
whose abundance is the sphincter of genius! Money
whose legs are a pair of fat Havanas!
Money whose mind is the wind!
Money in whom I trust! Money in which I take
refuge! Mad about money! A sucker for
Money! Loved and admired for money!
Money that fulfills all my dreams! Money that
makes me feel like I am somebody! Money that
pushes me into ecstatic stupidity!
Money that I depend on! Plunge into money!
Numbers lining up on the lottery draw!
Money! Money! Luxury penthouses! gentrified neighborhoods!

pilfered social security! unlimited capital! outsourced
productions! preemptive wars! overcrowded state
prisons! loaded guns! looming drones!
They raised the rent citing money as ransom! Mom-
and pop stores, families, evicted! Building a city for
tourists who move in and are everywhere around us!
Options! shares! evaluations! portfolios! investments!
Piling up in landfills!
Lies! excuses! intimidations! charities! the whole
shebang of incomprehensible legalese!

Breakdowns! Over the hill! trips and cancellations!
gone with the wind! Upgrades! Tiffany’s! Bulls
and bears! Ten years’ unlimited calls and hotlines!
Fines! New products! No education! Down in
the nick of Time!
Hollow phony laughter on the street! I see it all! The
wild lies! the phony smiles! They’re here to stay!
They’re living it up! to plenitude! spending!
buying towers! Down by the river! and on the
moon!

III

Andrew Solomon! I’m not with you in Gotham
where you’re better than I am
I’m not with you in Gotham
where you must feel very posh
I’m not with you in Gotham
where you stand in the shade of your father
I’m not with you in Gotham
where you’re hiring twelve assistants
I’m not with you in Gotham
where you groan at this biting sarcasm
I’m not with you in Gotham
where you are a great writer backed up by the same old
machine
I’m not with you in Gotham
where your life has become an ad and
is photographed for the Times
I’m not with you in Gotham
where the members of your staff no longer admit
the remnants of Bohemia
I’m not with you in Gotham
where you drink the tea of her majesty the
Queen of England
I’m not with you in Gotham
where you spy on the bodies of your trainers the
hotties of the ’burbs

I’m not with you in Gotham
where you gloat in a tweed jacket that you’re
winning the game of the Pulizter pingpong of the
press
I’m not with you in Gotham
where you talk on National Public Radio the apple
is innocent and noble it will sometimes fall
oddly into another orchard
I’m not with you in Gotham
where fifty more awards will always
furnish your
soul to its body again from its pilgrimage to a
place in the dark
I’m not with you in Gotham
where you advise all gays with psychiatry and
plot the PC LGBT revolution against the
fairy queens of the Disco era
I’m not with you in Gotham
where you donate the profits of bake sales
and invent gay family values and the
gay family tree
I’m not with you in Gotham
where there are fifty-five-thousand mad home-
less all together chanting the famous stanzas of Em-
ma Lazarus

I’m not with you in Gotham
where you hug and kiss the New Colossus under
your bedsheets the New Colossus that hums all
night and rocks you to sleep
I’m not with you in Gotham
where you rise up emboldened out of the trauma
by your own soul’s epiphanies advertising them-
selves they’ve come to make you famous the
prophecy fulfills itself imaginary worlds col-
lide O dandy writer do not hide O starry-
eyed fans of Judy the best-seller is
here O Mary forget your underwear you’re
queer
I’m not with you in Gotham
in my dreams you walk limping from a long
journey on the highway across America in tatters
to the door of my museum in Brooklyn Heights

Brooklyn, 2014

FOOTNOTE TO HOWL

Phony! Phony! Phony! Phony! Phony! Phony! Phony! Phony! Phony!
Phony! Phony! Phony! Phony! Phony! Phony!
The world is phony! The soul is phony! The skin is phony!
The nose is phony! The tongue and cock and hand
and asshole phony!
Everything is phony! everybody’s phony! everywhere is
phony! everyday is an eternity!
Everyman’s a
robot!
The bum’s as phony as the CEO! the middleman is
as phony as you my soul are phony!
The computer is phony the music is phony the voice is
phony the listeners are phony the applause is phony!
Phony Oprah phony Abramovic phony Solomon phony Hillary phony
Obama phony Michelle phony Patti phony Glad-
well phony the famous pampered and bestselling
authors phony the cosmetically enhanced superstars!
Phony my father in the United Nations! Phony the locks
of the trannies of RuPaul’s Drag Race!
Phony the soothing radio host! Phony the hip-hop
revolution! Phony the pop stars Lady Gaga
Justin Bieber & Pharrell & Beyoncé!
Phony the galas at museums and Lincoln Center! Phony
the chat rooms filled with the needy! Phony the
mysterious flow of cash in the street!

Phony the suffering poet! Phony the last cry of
Bohemia! Phony the socially engaged
artists! Who digs New York I HEART New York!
Phony Brooklyn Phony San Francisco Phony Portland &
Seattle Phony Berlin Phony Basel Phony Miami
Phony Abu Dhabi!
Phony life in serenity phony serenity in life phony the
universal coverage phony the social contract phony
the peace talks phony the agents of change!
Phony the city phony the country phony the unions phony the
low emission car phony the image phony the congratula-
tions phony the “likes” phony the camera phony the
progress!
Phony forgiveness! mercy! charity! faith! Phony! Ours!
Vanity! Pretense! Egomania!
Phony the profitable extra manipulative advertised
kindness of the soul!

New York, 2014

Read a foreward to ‘Growl’ at Queen Mob’s Teahouse


About the Author:

Filip Noterdaeme is the artist behind the conceptual art project The Homeless Museum of Art, a send-up of the contemporary art museum, and the author of the satirical memoir The Autobiography of Daniel J. Isengart (Outpost19, 2013). He lives in New York City and is a teacher of art history at The New School and a gallery lecturer at the Guggenheim Museum. He writes a blog about contemporary art for The Huffington Post.

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