I was a dishwasher at the Executive Motor Hotel on King Street. The waitress with early 1960s-style hair, who was, maybe, 28, said, ‘If you want to come over after your shift I live nearby.’ Maggie May by Rod Stewart was playing on the radio. Seriously it was. At the time I was reading the writings of Antonin Artaud – founder of the Theatre of Cruelty. He claimed to own a walking stick stained with drops of the blood of Jesus Christ. I was trying to connect dots on a map that didn’t exist. I partook of the green, brown, and black herb. I partook of the artificial chariots. She was, maybe, 28.
I saw a concealed camera. The building owner said, ‘Keep this to yourself. I can give you a better deal.’ They were trying to catch whoever pulled the fire alarms. I took a two-year lease on a bright, spacious studio. New owners took over. My lease expired. They showed me an abandoned studio containing a four-foot high plaster bust of John F. Kennedy. I wrote the artist a letter. His uncle took me to a basement apartment in Brampton. The artist had been living in his mother’s house. Dishes filled the drainer beside the sink. His thin leather coat hung, buttoned, on a wire hanger. Augustin Filipovic won the Mayor of Rome’s Award. His art embellished the cover of Canada’s Centennial Book. Augustin looked like a movie star, wearing a tuxedo & waltzing in the spotlight with a pretty girl in white.
Eurydice made me a chutney & cucumber sandwich on white bread, minus the crust, for my drive to the art school. Somebody smashed the rental car window – I’d parked in the alley where the crack dealer operated, so I went to the emergency repair place. Sunlight on the shattered window bits danced like crystal chandeliers. I knew I should wait, until the glass was vacuumed & replaced, before eating the sandwich. But somehow the green chutney & white bread went perfectly with chandeliers. I pictured Eurydice making her entrance.
I thought the gallery in Yorkville might be a good fit with my work. The owner wore a sophisticated black dress. Maybe ten years older than me. European. People told me my work was European. She told me to spread it on the floor. She sat in the only chair. After an hour and a half – of what I thought, seriously I did, was a meetings of the minds – she said, ‘Of course, you know you’re not a fine artist.’ I walked out of Yorkville more than a bit shaky – but dazzled by the timing of her coup de grace.