I met Glenn O’Brien last night. Actually, I abandoned my date and pounced from my bar perch at Rasika and like an adolescent Labrador, floppy ears and big paws in the lead, jumped in his lap and started licking him. And it was obvious that he wasn't impressed. I think he was as shocked to be suddenly recognized in Washington DC as I was to recognize him. I barged my ass back out almost as fast as I barged in on him.
I stand by my assertion that DC is three-button goofball sack-coat company town. The kinda town that cool cats like Glenn O’Brien don’t generally hang out in. So when I, with my typical pinball machine synapse firing machinations, giddily told him that his recent book, How to be a Man should be required reading for any male under the age of fifty-five (guys older than probably forty-five are irredeemable but what the hell, I wanted to include myself in the demographic), he thanked me politely and looked to his two, I assume local cohorts, for a rescue move. I may be a country ass redneck from South Carolina but I’m coachable. I knew to amble back over to my bar stool without delay.
So why is O’Brien the Shit? A better explanation will manifest when you get up off of some of that moldy ass money of yours and buy his book. But for now, let me provide you with an excerpt or two. If I was limited to only one paragraph…one exhibit to support my "O'Brien is the shit" premise, it would be this:
“…The worst male fashion trend of the millennium so far may be the shirttail worn out. On purpose. I know that many consider it hip to go around with the shirt untucked, or even half tucked, like you slept in your clothes and haven’t had coffee yet. I know this is intended to convey a youthful, casual je ne sais quoi, but more often than not he looks like he’s too fat to tuck. Even worse than the shirttail out is when this is under a jacket. Of course, some casual shirts are made to be worn out, and these have squared off bottoms, but even these should not be worn under a jacket. A caftan would look better. Another egregious trend was unfastened French cuffs hanging loose through and far beyond the jacket sleeves, giving the wearer a waifish street urchin look. Accessorize this look with a tin cup.”
That paragraph is worth the price of the three hundred and two page book. But here’s the opening statement on O’Brien’s tie treatise…
“I love the necktie because it is the only article of clothing in a man’s wardrobe that has real enemies. Iranian revolutionaries for instance, see the tie as an evil phallic symbol of Western decadence, emblematic of the Crusader’s Cross of the Great Satan. The enemies of the cravat point to it as a symbol of conformity, even servitude. Some see covert obeisance to black magic encrypted in it, a fashion version of the “cable tow” of Masonic initiation rites.”
So mode it be. Buy the damn book.
I could end it there but there’s a bit more of the Glenn O’Brien oeuvre that caused me to lick him. Without it, I’d have limited my fawning to a sloppy paw or two. They say he can drive the piss out of a golf ball. He’s a husband and father and his journey includes a stint with Warhol. Not some vague collateral thread of Studio 54-esque Factory wannabe. O’Brien was Editor and Art Director at Interview and Warhol includes O’Brien a half dozen or so times in his diaries. I checked it last night. Shut up. I'm erudite. January 26, 1987… “Oh, and I talked on the phone to Glenn O’Brien about why the sixties are coming back or something, he was doing an article for Elle, he was fun.
Jean-Phillipe Delhomme illustrated O’Brien’s book and offers a postscript portrait of Glenn. It isn’t fawning. It’s fact. He says… “I could mention TV Party, the cult TV show that he hosted in the early 1980’s or Downtown 81, the poetic film that he wrote about his friend Jean-Michel Basquiat. I could mention some of his current projects. But it would still be incomplete. In fact, every time I see Glenn, I have to update his bio.”
So Mr. O’Brien, I apologize for licking you. Labrador slobber stinks. Even if it’s slap-dashed all over you with an admirable tongue. I’ll hope that a few others will buy your book. And send me the dry cleaning bill.
Onward. Rube ass that I am.