Excerpts from New America...
Men still ruled through a combination of upper-body strength, institutionalized discrimination, hogwash and sheer arrogance, but they lacked the ability to seduce women and women never made an attempt to seduce. In some metaphysical way, the men made feeble, sometimes touching, often offensive attempts to lure women to them. Typically, the women were much younger than they were.
They "hit on" Mother, and she struck like a trap-door spider, responding with her own counter-proposal. Arranging to go to their apartments or elsewhere, she arrived with cameras and crew and convinced them to enact strangely suggestive but asexual scenarios with her. She posed braless in a tank top and pink short shorts atop a table as one of these men photographed her. As they looked at her, she – the "object of the male gaze" – looked directly at them, letting them know that she knew what was going on. It was all incredibly twisted. She turned from a baby doll into an avenging angel and a wolf in baby doll's clothing. Mother had staged birthday parties in which men sang "Happy Birthday" to her while she feigned delight.
On some cosmic level, Mother was always "faking it." Sometimes she'd play dead while the men snapped pictures of her, other times she had them place a stethoscope to her chest or trace the curves of her absent body in midair. Her holograms were much more revolutionary than reality had ever been. No one emerged from of these Lolita-complex revenge fantasies unscathed. The men were always off balance, careful not to transgress, visibly tempted to go further.
Mother clearly choose her subjects as carefully as they choose her.
"Women are always in danger," Stella had once told Mother.
Mother could never have done this with "normal" predators.
Out of nowhere and completely anomalously, Mother suddenly came close to a group of men, looked from side to side...
..."I need an excellent table with a guy who's definitely in," Mother said.
"The band is bee-oo-tiful, the crowd is bee-oo-tiful... it feels like Weimar in Chelsea," Mother said.
The parties may have been background radiation, yet combined with the crazed tenor of things, they added to a collective frustration, notably at the lower end of the food chain. Throughout, Frank maintained a benevolent grin.
Fitting in and conforming had become esthetic criteria in New America. Tautology ruled. The outer journey was being mistaken for the inner one. Call it a seventh sense. There had to be an unexplained and original edge to this velocity and ferocity, an element that transformed desperation and desire into something new and compelling. Stella wanted it to function in the ways that it had a thousand years ago: as a sacramental or talismanic object, something that had the shamanic power to change lives, protect cities, or perform magic. Engaged in a ritualistic act of historical restitution, Frank crossed the black diaspora with pop culture, religion and drugs. He was also wildly uneven.
Robert Evans was shaved by a topless blonde. Director Brett Ratner dressed in the back of a limo.
John Travolta alongside Sandra Bullock.
George Washington at a Lakers game.
Brad on the set and Uma and Oprah on the red carpet.
Maybe Baudrillard was right: "Reality is replicating itself without an original."
A crucial order of drones were those who attended to, pointed cameras at, or otherwise oversaw the production of holograms featuring Mother. These holograms allowed Mother to spread her pheromones. Without them, the chemical scent would have been lost and the hive would have been forced to face the return of what the holograms allowed everyone to repress: emptiness and death...
"You're famous, maybe," Stella said, "like the chef at the restaurant we go to, or your hairdresser."
"It's my dog knew his dog fame," Frank said. "I maintain a hologram of normalcy. On the inside I've gone haywire."
"We're caught in a death ray of idiocy."
"My reactions are skewed. If they laugh, I laugh. If not, I'm with them. The real me has disappeared."
"I remember imagining that I was David Bowie, and how disconcerting it was when I met his hologram to find out that I wasn't."
"I'll bet he was disconcerted as well."
"Good. He's our silent partner. He's our addiction. He plays for keeps."
"It's a winner-take-all game. Because we want to live forever, fame walks hand in hand with death."
"And death never loses."
"This is terrible, especially as an experience."
"It turns everything into a circus and us into asses."
"But it's democratic."
"Right, but here in lightweight land all we get is a walk-in scrapbook. We get installed, as if we live in Pee Wee Herman's playhouse."
"It can be so deadly and dull."
"He reminds me of obscure, creepy Italian communists, and he surrounds himself with freaks, geeks, and sideshow performers."
"The new president?"
"Screaming headlines and death shots."
"From here on it's pretty much movie star politicians, scandals, rock stars and white people.
"We had John Wayne. Now we have John Wayne Bobbitt."
"There are high points, though. It's like the birth of a new kind of celebrity."
"It's Norman Rockwell-from-the-dark-side, a Mommie Dearest, Marilyn Monroe personal vibrator."
"Who is he?" Stella stared at a man swinging an imaginary golf club.
"That's Johnny Carson. He was the old Jay Leno."
"Who's Jay Leno?"
"He was... He was the crowd looking for the exit."
"Like Andy Warhol?"
"You could just go all the way back to some guy telling jokes in a cave, if you wanted to."
"Or you could go forward."
"Maybe Andy didn't know..."
New America - Experimental Novel
Experimental Novel created by transforming the art criticism writing of Jerry Saltz into fiction by the extreme editing of Mr. Saltz's articles, beginning with "War and Peace," published in 1998, and ending with "Floundering," published in 2005.
In 2017 Jerry Saltz wrote, "Anyone can take anything from me... Artists use materials. Writing is material," and I began experimenting with his writing. New America is the result of those experiments. I contacted Mr. Saltz by email before publishing this novel, and he replied, "It's all yours. You wrote it. Good luck!!! Frank Stella."
After publishing the novel on Amazon, Penguin Random House had the novel removed for copyright violation. I disagree, and am trying to have the novel reinstated.
I 've changed the novel and created new versions, and will change it again in the future. It is an ongoing project...
Digital copies are available, but only here, on my website.