Saturday, February 13, 2016

Short Stories and Art From Adam Kluger

Adam Kluger is a New York City born street artist/photographer/painter/performance artist/playwright/filmmaker/writer. A direct descendant of famed British sculptor Jacob Epstein and a past art student of renowned artist, Ion Theodore, Kluger went to the same high school as Jack Kerouac, and spent some time studying the great artists throughout Europe before settling back in New York. He draws his inspiration from diverse sources that include Jean Dubuffet, Marc Chagall, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Andy Warhol, Bob Ross, Eric Payson and Pablo Picasso. “Whether I apply chromatic composition, an eclectic palette or color desaturation with my mixed media methods, makes less of a difference, than if the art object resonates with the viewer. It’s totally hit or miss and that’s what makes it so exciting to me,” says Kluger. “I adapt my painting style to the subject matter—and New York City has no shortage of fascinating subjects.

A Bowl of Cereal
Mike Greenstone's phone suddenly stopped working. He kept trying it to no avail. Then he heard someone else complain about getting no cell reception either and other people too. Suddenly, it made perfect sense to him and he looked around and ran as fast as he could to a nearby abandoned building. Through the window he could see and hear the jet-planes from a far off distance approaching. It all made sense.  
The first wave of jets swept by the building in sonic speed. He could make out blue and red logos on the side of the planes and he could hear an eerie metallic voice announcing that the imperial government of North Korea was taking revenge for the criminal acts of the outlaw country known as the United States and that escape was futile and death was imminent.
He saw the explosions going off all around his building and he started to think of how he could escape...but knowing that escape was impossible... he simply woke up.
The invasion nightmare was a pretty common one. It mirrored the feelings he had when bills got too high and life stuck him between a rock and a hard place.
It was better than the dream he had the previous week about having three penises. Freud would have had a field day with that one. He remembered his college psychology classes and how dreams were simply an unconscious manifestation of anxiety or guilt. The feelings worked themselves out in the brain while we slept and almost like watching a horror film--there would be some sort of catharsis or relief upon waking. Or some shit like that. He got a B+ in that class and slept with his student advisor who looked like a young school marm, so all things considering, he couldn't complain.
He had an older dream when he was younger that was even creepier.
It was a recurrent dream that haunted him. Again and again he would return to a high school gymnasium and there in the pool with steam rising to the surface would be all sorts of whales and dolphins swimming end to end. Occasionally they would surface. Dreams are always very real until you wake. Then they are easily dismissed as silliness. Foolishness. But when you are in it, a dream feels real. Very real. This dream haunted him. He was afraid of diving into that pool.

One time in elementary school he dreamed that everyone he knew had turned into giant, fat marshmallow people. It was so scary that he woke up and ran into his older sister's room and jumped into her bed crying.   

The first nightmare he ever remembered  having was playing on the rooftop playground at school and then rolling down a hill and falling over the ledge over the side of the building into a dark alleyway.

Not all his dreams were bad, of course--there were the good ones where he had sex with old girlfriends and other attractive women,  and on rare occasions the times he would have conversations with his beloved dad who had long since passed.

In a recent dream he was hanging out with Donald Trump who lent him his leather jacket. In another dream Greenstone had a fight with a sneaky, former subordinate. Ultimately, if you really think about your dreams they all make sense.

Yup, Freud and Jung were pretty smart to study dreams, Mike Greenstone decided. Then he went to the kitchen and made himself a bowl of bran cereal with a cut up banana and almond milk.

"Dig it" B/W photograph of acrylic painting by Adam Kluger

The Bully

Ronald Schitzwald was looking at his shelf in his office.

He did this every morning before he started his workday.

He loved to admire the dozens of shiny, silver and glass industry awards he had collected for making some of the world's most recognizable political ads. He had single-handedly been responsible for getting at least one highly ineffectual U.S. President elected and countless other politicians placed in office.

Schitzwald himself had no political preferences. His greatest professional skill was his ability to lie without remorse and not to care about the consequences of his actions.

The President he helped elect was naturally a disaster for the country. Rolling Stone voted him the worst President ever-- responsible for destroying America's standing around the world, a multi-billion dollar economic surplus, while plunging the U.S. into a useless war that cost countless lives, dollars and so on and so on.

The other politicians indebted to Schitzwald's handiwork were also bad actors and bad people. One was a died-in-the wool racist who was a former member of the KKK, another was an ardent supporter of the NRA and the Nazi Party in his youth. Nice.

None of this meant a thing to Ronald Schitzwald.

He loved to make money and he loved power.

He thought American voters were weak-minded losers and he was twisted in his world-view somewhat from a very early age by traumatic family events that he never discussed with anybody. Maybe that could explain why as a kid, Ronald used to pull the wings off of butterflies and squish caterpillars on the sidewalk , throw rocks at cats, and was the schoolyard bully at his tony private school.

Ronald was tall and sarcastic and mean.

He could spot someone's weakness and attack relentlessly. Ronald probably  didn't know how hurtful his comments were to those he targeted. Frankly, he didn't care less. Family money had assured a decent college was awaiting and a career and trips to Europe and all the good stuff despite his many personal bad deeds over the years. He didn't have many friends and that was fine with him. People were stupid and needy. Fools.

As a Editor-in-Chief of a right-wing newspaper in college, despite a subpar grade-point average, he parlayed  a Poly-Sci major into a couple of respectable internships working for his dad's friend's law-firms--and young Ronald was well on his way.

Ronald Schitzwald quickly discovered the power and rewards that could be derived from humiliating decent people with  inaccurate or downright nonfactual political ads. His teacher, an Ad-world veteran all but annointed Schitzwald as the new enfant terrible of the advertising world. Schitzwald earned his large corner office and Ted Talk speaking engagements in record time. He become a master-blogger espousing vitriolic rhetoric and French philosophy while regularly posting smiling photos on the yachts and private planes of his desperate, and quite dangerous political clients.

As the stakes got higher and higher in a campaign, Schitzwald's natural viciousness toward opponents would surprise almost all those around him.  A universally reviled attorney named Gary Fischbean, who actually had an even worse reputation than Schitzwald, commented upon meeting Ronald at a fundraiser, " Schitzwald is definitely my kind of guy--he doesn't let facts get in the way of winning a race and he enjoys making fuckers suffer--I love this guy!"

Schitzwald's marriage was a strained, unhappy bit of stagecraft from the beginning. He never really spent quality time with his frigid, angry wife or spoiled kids (dubbed "Thing 1 & Thing 2") .  

The Advertising agency's corporate credit card took care of paying for all the Schitzwald family vacations, summer camps, private schools and make-up jewelry as well as the hookers and drugs and guy's parties on the many unscheduled "business trips" and "client calls"  Ronald had to rush off to all the time--no problem there---ever.   

If you based your knowledge  of Ronald Schitzwald on his Facebook Profile and postings--you might even think on the surface that this was a somewhat decent long as you ignored his political postings...and didn't look too closely into those vacant, sad, empty eyes of his wife and kids in those vacation "selfies."

Sometimes, you can tell how popular a person is by the number of Facebook friends they have--knowing this, Schitzwald made an effort at reaching out to past political contacts and business associates to make sure he had a respectable FB friend count. It wasn't 5000. But it was enough to cover the truth.

Schitzwald really did not have one real friend in the entire world.

Not one person he loved.

Not one person he cared about. Not one person he looked up to.

His pitbull Uncle Fester was the only creature in the world he had any affection for.
That was only because of the day he saw Uncle Fester rip apart a smaller dog, a mutt who had gotten on its nerves in the park. He ripped it to shreds with utter frenzied joy and remorselessness. Schitzwald fell in love with Uncle Fester right after that. Of course,  Schitzwald had to pay off the distraught owner of the deceased mutt-- and feign concern and distress over the incident-- and It ended up costing him $500. But it was more than worth it. Uncle Fester was truly a majestic dog. Schitzwald didn't even mind picking up his poop. Any dog that could kill like that and then wag his tail, with blood and flesh dripping off his teeth, was more than alright in his book.

Back to Facebook, Schitzwald loved the fact that he was able to stick it in the face of all those losers from high school that he was such a big success and he also loved to keep an eye on his former conquests or one-night stands through FB. Girls who were fooled by his family's money and his expensive car-- into thinking that Ronald Schitzwald might be a good catch. He was strictly a fuck-em and leave em kinda guy.  Most of these chicks were either stupid, gold-digging whores, dykes or fugly-butter-faces to one Ronald Schitzwald anyway.

Oh look, there's Melissa goody-two-shoes--did her Senior year after the big football game at Ratzlinger's after-party. Fucked her after I got her drunk, took her virginity --then totally blew her off the next day.
+Add friend request, see if she replies...

Five minutes later. Melissa had accepted Schitzwald's request.

That was quick.

Hey Melissa- Ronald S. here, just surfing FB and came across your name- wondering how you have been -long time no speak since high school. I'm around- involved in Presidential politics and stuff--let me know if you ever want to grab a drink and stuff-haha...

The reply took about 15 minutes.

Ronald: It's been almost 30 years since that fateful night that you date-raped and impregnated me after that football game. Not a day or night had gone by for many years --that I hadn't been haunted by that awful memory. It's taken years of therapy to forgive you and forgive myself for allowing myself to become so vulnerable and trusting. To forgive myself for destroying the baby through an intentional miscarriage. I finally have created a normal life with a family and children. Needless to say- I prefer not to look back again on that painful incident. I do forgive you--for myself, I must. But I will pass on your offer to get together in the future or "grab a drink and stuff." Please don't take this the wrong way but I think it's best that I "unfriend" you at this point--but I do wish you all the best. -Melissa Wormsel-Miller.

"Well that was certainly awkward," thought Schitzwald as he shut down Facebook, cracked open a chilled Pellegrino water and prepared for the morning meeting.

The new client wanted to build a wall to keep out all immigrants. He was a famous Billionaire who was going to spend at least 100 Million dollars on his presidential campaign and Schitzwald was in charge of the first set of attack ads. He had met with the client and immediately loved his attitude that came from his "fuck-you money" and love of winning at all costs. They were cut from the same cloth.

Schitzwald had  just wished that he had remembered that the client had a serious dislike of shaking hands.  People said the client was a germaphobe. But Schitzwald recognized immediately what is really was-- as soon as they met. They were both unabashed narcissists. They both knew they were smarter and better than everyone else.

Later that day the news stations all led with the terrible news of  yet another high-school shooting rampage.  Echoes of Columbine as a suicidal student who was the target of a vicious year-long cyber-bullying campaign by classmates, brought his father's hunting gun into a Pacific Coast High School and killed 8 students and 2 teachers before taking his own life.

"Horrible...just horrible..but this stuff is going happen in a Free Society...guns don't kill people...people do," said Schitzwald's new client who was in the lead to lock up the GOP nomination.

"Gutless pussy," said Schitzwald disgustedly when he saw the photo of the young shooter flash on his enormous office plasma screen, as he dug a plastic fork into a large container of shrimp lo mein--stabbing a giant prawn.
Strangely enough, the shooter looked like a perfectly nice and normal kid.   

"Man feeding pigeons" charcoal pen and watercolors by Adam Kluger

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