Having recently discovered the superb online publishing platform ISSUU, I submit for your delectation and delight a revised, formatted collection of the stories that have hitherto appeared on this blog. Enjoy!
2008-10-10T03:39:08.788-07:00She was 5’6” standing in black stockings and leg warmers
2007-11-02T07:43:55.660-07:00“The Axe Already Lies in the Roots”Adam Joachim Goldmann Bantcho Bantchevsky slept late on Saturdays. He would allow himself to rise at noon, having spent the nightlong dreaming of the opera he had seen the previous evening, and would awake, refreshed, to a morning ritual of coffee and the Arts & Leisure section of the Times. The rarebit he usually made himself at midnight before retiring would aid the vividness of these reveries, which he considered as essential epilogues to the performances themselves. What’s more, these dreams had a corrective effect on the imperfections and kinks in the actual production, and would grant him an opportunity to experience as if anew the work in a flawless and perfectly realized incarnation. Every aspect was meticulously replicated: the most dazzling sets; the most powerful lyrical and dramatic singers. As he rose to great the day, Batcho would relish the aesthetic experience possible only in the privacy of his unconscious. This gave him a certain degree of pride. He felt that few, if any, of the countless opera-lovers he knew were capable of such sheer, unadulterated artistic enjoyment. This is not to say that he often felt the performances he did attend almost ritualistically (had for the past 30 years been attending almost nightly) in any major way deficient. He knew well the opera houses of Europe from his travels before the war and had known all the great European singers of the day, many intimately. As much as he admired the artistry and integrity of the European tradition, he found himself at odds with the direction in which European opera had run in the wake of the Second World War. As much, his greatest admiration was reserved for the Met, and their unparalleled roster of talent, the sheer enormity of their stage and the delirious and unmatched spectacle they brought to him nightly. Yet even these could not begin to compete with the nocturnal imaginings he experienced once he returned home, ate his rarebit and laid his head down on his feather pillow, his one material extravagance. He would then become the supreme artistic and musical director of the only opera house he praised and lauded without reservation, the one inside his own head. There the great singers of the past sang their roles with technical and expressive perfection. There one never had to worry about uneven tempi or overpowering brass: about awkward scenery or stiff acting. Every element was as it should be, the platonic ideal of the Gesamtkunstwerk. He knew that he would never die in his own bed, the theater of his grand operatic imagination. Though a widower and a private singing teacher, Bantcho was very much a public personality. And even if he hadn’t found the theatrical success that he’d expected to when he arrived in New York 35 years ago, he had still managed to hang out with the right crowd, the fashionable set of the New York classical music scene. Over the years he had secured invitations to parties, receptions and cocktail hours at some of the city’s most exclusive nightclubs, and had hobnobbed with Bernstein and Domingo (he kept a framed picture of himself and Domingo in his bathroom). He had lost precious little of his charm through the years. At 80, he was still as charismatic as when he’d arrived some 30 years ago, shortly after the war, those perhaps not so much as in his great performing days before the war. Yes, he had hoped that New York would have been more willing to employ his talent. But he had arrived in the mid-1950s, a middle-aged man with a thick accent, no longer the youthful charlatan who had taken Sofia by storm a quarter century earlier. He knew well that he was charismatic, but he had not altogether succeeded in turning this talent into a sellable commodity. Still, he was loved and respected by his few pupils, friends at the opera who furnished him with free tickets and passes, and the four adorable grandchildren who wrote to him constantly fr[...]
2007-04-26T11:50:39.145-07:00Adam Joachim GoldmannProverb no. 13 - He who drags the block is an individual unhappy in love: who loves but is unloved in return.We see a solitary figure in red stocking, a cap and black shoes dragging a wooden stool to the edge of a cliff overlooking the sea. A few hours and the horrid year would be over. Gustav, of course, knew that no magical transformation would accompany the ringing of bells from Martinskirche. Still, he fooled himself into thinking that this arbitrary marker of time not only symbolized, but could in fact, accelerate his long-hoped-for departure. He had, for some time, felt as if a movement in the symphony of his life were drawing slowly to a close. Now, he was sure that the mere act of scribbling “1896” at the top of his letter to Johanna the next morning would bring him appreciably closer to leaving Kassel. He still had no fixed destination; Leipzig and Prague attracted him greatly (although both his applications were pending.) He was certain of returning in time to Vienna: but that goal was a long way off. He could reach the imperial capital – the only place where he felt a sense of home – only after much wandering. In the coach, he glanced over the letter that had been brought to him during the afternoon’s rehearsal. He knew immediately from the neat and ornamented chirography that it was in Frau Neumann’s hand. “Herr Mahler,” it began. Even on the page, that form of address coming from her rang false. It was a silly precaution that came from a woman who lived in fear of her husband’s jealousy. The contents of the letter were chaste and proper, without a hint of intrigue. “Enjoyed greatly your Freischütz of Thursday last...expecting great things from Robert le diable (although, don’t you feel that Meyerbeer gets dull after a while)…the critic from the Kasseler Zeitung (a friend of Herr Neumann’s) was over last night and said he hoped your contact would be renewed…Warm wishes for the new year.” The coach stopped and Gustav folded the letter up. He was about to stuff it back when he noticed a hastily written Nachscrift on the reverse side. The light was bad and he had to squint through his glasses to make the message out. “Won’t you come over one of these days and tell me about Fraulein Richter, who I hear is your latest découvertement. Who knows, you may yet raise her talent up to the level of her beauty.” Gustav became aware of a chill pervading the carriage and saw that the coachman held open his door. He heard the clamor of people on the sidewalk on the way to festivities. He waited in the coach until they passed, pressing his hands against his temples, which suddenly ached from the chatter of passers-by. Gustav was irked that his secret had come into Frau Neumann’s hands. Kassel ladies were not such great gossips as the Viennese, whose salons – the most fashionable ones especially – were rumor mills that saw the birth of a dozen new scandals nightly. In Kassel, people tended to mind their own business: a fact that made Frau Neumann’s discovery a greater source of confusion and concern. Gustav wondered how much she knew. He reckoned that she had started with little concrete knowledge and had guessed the rest. Perhaps he had even aided her in the discovery: inadvertently providing valuable clues by dint of telltale variations in his recent behavior. The affair with Johanna was still fresh enough to pique the world’s sensual consciousness. These past few weeks, it had been as if Gustav were wearing a new pair of spectacles and had, furthermore, been hearing the sounds of nature with heightened pitch and frequency. Perhaps Frau Neumann noticed this sudden youthful flush in him and knew instinctively that she could not be its cause. Slowly he began to feel the unforgiving winter seep into his heart. Springtime had taken up residence without attracting attention. But now the secret was out, and breach of confiden[...]
2007-03-20T02:23:42.745-07:00The following story is part of a larger collection and should be regarded as a work in progressAdam Joachim Goldmann Proverb no. 94 – “Any women who gladly accepts offers here and there must hang the blue cloak on her husband.” (We see a younger woman in a red gown drape a turquoise cape over an elderly man. Her eyes are downcast, her expression stern. He is hunched over, looking away, and clutches at a wooden cane. ) Everett McCay was known as the toughest Yankee businessman this side of the Atlantic. But, he had not entirely withstood the lure of culture and tradition during his long period of self-imposed exile, both in Britain and on the continent. Foremost among these effects was the deep love that he harbored for the European stage. He could be found most nights at one of the many playhouses that were scattered along the West End. He considered his tastes neither conservative nor modern: merely refined. As such he would not have them pigeonholed and resented the canonizing tendencies of certain theatrical societies. He was especially fond of Chekhov, Strindberg and Ibsen, but not – as was fashionable at the time among certain coxcombical critics - to the expense of Shaw and Wilde, and certainly not of the Bard himself. Still, he surprised not a few of his friends when, in his 60th year, the perennial bachelor determined to give his patronage in the form of nuptials. The lady in question was a gifted actress attached to an artistically progressive and modern troupe that McCay suspected of harboring socialist allegiances. She had recently started her career, but was such a presence, that even in the bit roles, which she was given, she managed to steal the performance away from her more established costars. She was still in the first flush of youth and her talent and beauty commingled to mesmerize and enchant audiences. Everett, who knew well the dangers of speculating, was certain that she was destined for great things. Otherwise, why would he have made it his business to support her fledgling career? He had, in the past placed his money on all sorts of ventures, gold digging in the Yukon and diamond harvesting in Africa. The days of great adventure and activity were behind him. Since the war broke out, he had confined himself to less daring enterprises, such as importing American cotton and wool to the allied countries. War was good for business, even if dealing in fabrics and dealing in jewelry were not equally profitable. And though he had, of late, parted with more capital that was his wont, he still had more than a little to gamble on an ingénue. An old business associate who knew of McCay’s love for the theater had recommended the small theater and it’s troupe, which called itself the Laughing Cock. McCay had neglected to find the small stage near Charing Cross, where nightly a small band of actors, lead by their French director Pierre Jalousie night-after-night brought to life intriguing entertainments in innovative and inventive productions. McCay instead found himself at a fundraiser dinner for the Laughing Cock. McCay, though unused to the relative frugality and squalor of the theater, with its modest dimensions, seemed untroubled by the lack of ornament and formality. The table was set upon the stage and McCay found that he shared company with some wealthy eccentrics – attired as elegantly as he - who bankrolled the theatres and made its patronage their business, and the varied members of the troupe, who ranged in age from fourteen to fifty seven. At dinner, he sat next to one of the troupe’s most recent additions and youngest members, Lynn Callow, a self-possessed Manchesterian. Quite without realizing it, the girl worked her charms on the aging businessman, who had recently been prone to meditating on mortality and had been more and more in want of steady companionship. As far as Lynn could tell, that first meeting was [...]
2007-02-09T08:52:44.302-08:00Greetings to my throngs of fans! I'm taking this comic book class with Art Spiegelman, yes. The Art Spiegelman. Anyway, it's really given me a renewed appreciation for comixs, such as I never ever had growing up. My dad got a new macbook and I see that one of the applications loaded onto it is a primitive comicbook making software, so I used it in conjunction with photo booth (which my father can't get over) and had a little with it this morn'. Anyway, the rather hair-raising result of my kibitzing can be found by following the thumbnail below. Enjoy.
2006-12-10T12:57:52.665-08:00USA / 2006 /6 mins/ DV / Color / dir. Adam Joachim Goldmann & Abraham Lev Weiss
I recently came across this 16mm short that I made during one very dull day over winter break several years ago. I enlisted the aid of my faithful hound, Alfie the Pomeranian and my trusty Czech marionette Franz Kafka. Together, we read through a stack of scripts until deciding on a one act by Bert Brecht. While the stars rehearsed their lines, I loaded my Krasnagosk-3 with a reel of Kodak B&W reversable and got my studio ready, cleaning up, laying down the rug and deploying props with discernment. I borrowed an old phone from a neighbor and used a few spare lamps for the lighting. The result - as I hope you will be able to see - far exceeded my wildest expectations. In post-production, I got a call from my producer that Saul Bass, who was originally to do the titles, had died. Quickly, I scrambled to see what last minute provisions I could make. In the end, I convinced Peter Greenaway to design the intertitles. He faxed them over from his estate - Swineshire - in the marshes of Wales. I was splicing the film together when the most beautiful music drifted my way. It was the opera singer upstairs who was rehearsing for a concert that evening of Kindertotenlieder. I made a bootleg and used it as the soundtrack. The premiere took place later that evening in the Red Room Cinema. Both the stars were in attendence, while Brecht, Mahler and Saul Bass watched from above.
It was an historic event, a truly historic event.
2006-09-18T20:58:28.866-07:00Here's a selection from a series of Self-Portraits I did last Spring and recently digitized. Sorry for the lousy resolution.
2006-09-18T23:09:28.730-07:00You await me in perfect stillness
2006-08-09T12:28:03.696-07:00Soon, now, my darling, we shall meet
2006-07-03T15:09:09.653-07:00Between a cedar and a willow
2006-04-02T14:56:11.900-07:00Adam Joachim Goldmann“Look what Mr. Kubrick says here, he says ‘a film is or should be more like music than like fiction. It should be a progression of moods and feelings.’” Alejandro folds back the pages of the issue of Cahiers du Cinema that his uncle has brought back for him from Paris. The other boys crowd around, looking at the pictures. He is the only one who speaks French and might, for all they know, be making it up. But they trust him, since he was the oldest. That and they don’t think he could come up with something that elegant on the spot.It is noisy inside the club and Luis, who has arrived late and pulled up a chair behind the smallish table, has difficulty making out the conversation. He taps on Javier’s shoulder to ask what has been said, but Javier is busy discussing the point with Alejandro. Luis tries for several minutes to try and piece together the tête-à-tête, but several other boys quickly chime in, raising their voices and gesticulating. Luis gives up and leans back in the unadorned wooden chair. He takes another sip of port and, for lack of anything better to do, fumbles for a cigarillo. He lights up and makes a renewed attempt to join the conversation.“There can be little doubt that Mr. Kubrick is both a philosopher and a poet.” Luis looks around at the older faces, some of them sprouting facial hair, to see if his comment has registered. Alas, it seems his words are lost somewhere in the ever-thickening cloud of smoke that hangs in the poorly lit room. He looks around at the others. There are five of them, all older boys. They meet every Monday in the smoke-and-booze laced atmosphere of La Fidula to discuss fine things like film and poetry, and listen to jazz. Luis, who is only 13, has impressed Raul with his knowledge of cinema and literature and has for the past few weeks been admitted as a guest to these weekly gatherings. Mostly, Luis is in awe of Alejandro. He is only three years Luis’ senior, but already possesses so great an amount of refinement, maturity and charisma. Poetry seems constantly to be rolling off his tongue with clarity and ease. His eloquence is matched by his physical grace; every gesture seems at once perfectly calculated yet utterly spontaneous. Luis’ observes Alejandro and essays to perfect the nonchalance with which he pulls gently on a cigarillo or downs a shot of whiskey; and no one is as well versed in all fields of literature, music, politics and film. Luis would be glad assume the mantle of disciple, if the older boy did not treated him with such indifference and outright dismissiveness. Luis fears that Alejandro secretly despises him - for what? his youth, his ignorance and his pretensions – and only allows him to be part of the weekly gatherings to humor Raul.Again, Luis’ spine meets the unforgiving lounge chair and he takes a long drag on his cigarillo. Luis tries to enjoy the sweet smoke that swirled around in his mouth, and forget how out of place he always feels at these gatherings. Soon the musicians shuffle across the floor and over to the ancient upright piano at the front of the room. “Oh, that saxophonist’s quite superb,” Alejandro points out authoritatively. “He’s from Barcelona. It will be interesting to see what he does.”The Catalan musician wets his lips and raises the instrument to his mouth. He lets out a wailing E and climbs up solemnly to an A. “Why if it isn’t Els Segadors!” Alejandro chuckles. There are scattered boos and hisses from dark corners of the club. A table in the very front clears out and leaves. But mostly, warm applause ripples throughout the audience. In t[...]
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2006-03-01T22:47:11.936-08:00This posting contains three short stories that were written over the past five months. The first appears in its second draft; the second in its third; and the first in its first. Enjoy! I. A Nice Pair of LegsAdam Joachim Goldmann “The attraction of the connoisseur to any work of art is in part beyond description, and it is generally agreed that the desire to possess constitutes but a fraction of the attraction. While the eye may be the organ initially stimulated, the affair is soon transmuted to something beyond mere infatuation: namely understanding. It is thus that, at the risk of sounding obvious, we say that in order to truly see art, it is incumbent on the viewer to have some requisite knowledge in how to look at it.” The pencil was poised threateningly at the paragraph it had just written. Its owner’s eyes quickly scanned it three times over. It was no good. Murray had asked for something simple and to the point: half-a-dozen lines that would inspire confidence and good cheer as a word of greeting for the company’s homepage. The man rubbed the eraser vigorously on his moleskin. Pinkish residue spilled onto the description of Lot 576, a Klee watercolor. He dusted it off the catalogue and onto the pants-legs of his silver Brooks Brothers suit. At a slight tug on the fabric that clung snugly to his left knee, the pinkish particles dispersed. He continued with his revision, indifferent to the auctioneeress’ fierce determination. The lot in question was a minor work, barely identifiable as a Klee, and it could hardly be expected to fetch more than a fraction of the opening bid. The well-dressed gentleman retracted the tip of his pencil and stuck it behind his ear, feeling as he did so, the exquisite softness of his prematurely graying hair. He turned again to the catalogue and flipped to a dog-eared page. Again, he reviewed the description and provenance of the work he knew well. It gave him a special thrill to think that he had charted Lot 616’s trajectory with such doggedness. For nearly half-a-year now, he had barely pursued anything aside from this monumental work. Surely, such an acquisition would represent the greatest triumph of his short and unusually blessed career. The artist of Lot 616 was barely known outside his native Holland, and even there he was considered by the critics and public alike as an essentially provincial, even marginal figure whose importance for art – if indeed his work had any – could scarcely have a wide-reaching influence. But the graying man in the silver suit saw through what his detractors had termed “cold, inhuman tones” and “derivative prosaic form” and found in the aging Dutchman’s work a surprising deal of human sympathy and genuine originality. For some months now, the artist in question had been gravely ill. Some of Holland’s more youthful voices had been clamoring for recognition of his singular genius and stature. So far, their pleas and proclamations had fallen on mostly deaf ears. The man in the silver suit hoped that their impassioned voiced would continue to go unheeded: at least, that is, until he succeeded in acquiring a sizable collection of the work of an artist whose death – like his neglect – was an event that was to be both tragic and propitious. The man in the silver suit sat impatiently in the fourth row, shifting his weight this way and that, crossing, uncrossing and re-crossing his legs with as much frequency as his pencil, which kept dashing out the more cumbersome words and clauses, while adding new ones of grace and simplicity. The man persist[...]
2006-02-27T10:09:07.113-08:00EveningWhen the evening was spentAnd you were tiredWe covered ourselves with baby blanketsAnd laid down to restWe spoke of many thingsOf parents, careers and LoveI listened as best I could but could not refrainFrom weeping my pathetic songSweetly you asked how you could helpAnd touched my hand (or offered your own)I clung to your fingers despairinglyFearing they might forever slip from my graspSitting in fearful contemplationI admired your sleeping self'Doubting, dreaming dreams –'And then followed suiteIn the morning you awokeYour eyes fluttering, your lips tremblingAnd said that you'd been dreaming Of me.I Am Starved For YouI am starved for you, my loveHave I really gone so long without a kiss or a caressLying here in bed, fasting, I am powerlessTo put you from my mindAnd the emptiness that comes from lack of foodIs nothing next to the void I've felt since you left meYes, we have but a little more time to waitAnd then, you'll return to me, changed perhaps, but not too muchAnd I'll kiss your kiss-deprived lipsAnd stroke your stroke-deprived bodyThe grumblings of my stomach contractingAre nothing compared to the howling of my lovesick and lonely spiritAnd it seems as though going without food and drinkHas made me focus more acutely on how muchI miss you and how much it pains meThat I can't be there with youWe read last night in the book of LamentationsOf the sack of Jerusalem – Jerusalem the whoreSitting on the floor with the lights dimmedYet my grief had no object but youI am starved for you, my loveI lie here thinking what I would doIf you were at my side:I'd feast myself on your loveAnd hold you so you'd never run awayI crave you like a junkie craves cokeAnd the smell of you is enoughTo pique my monstrous appetiteBe glad that you're far awayFor I would devour you entirely with my loveSwallow you up completely and leave no trace of youWinterThough nineteen winters I have seen;Nineteen seasons of snow and frostOf snuggling up by the fireplaceAnd sipping hot cocoa while watchingOld films on TVThough I am no stranger to the bitter coldThe stinging wind and the biting frostI cannot help but await the twentiethWith immense impatienceFor I shall have you by my sideTo warm me and to snuggle with meTo take care of me should I fall illAnd come down with a coldOr else to lay me out on a blanket of snowAnd curl up alongside me like a snow angelGiving me Eskimo kisses and pressing your purple lips to mineSeeking my warmth in the snow palace of Central ParkAnd I shall spread you over me like a woolen blanketAnd cuddle you close to meSipping your kisses like hot chocolateTo warm me up on a icy winter's daySaturdayLast Saturday I kept you waitingOut in the cold, alone with GoetheAs we ascended in the elevatorEmitting strange music, youObserved, "The queue was short"(I concurred)As we waltzed, half tagging alongWith the guided-tour throughCanvases, installations, projections and SandcastlesI inhaled your presence and fed on your soulEven if I kept my distanceOn the descent we held hands,Slowly nearing the end of the rainbow arm-in-armOn the street, in our endless search for a reading roomYou showered me with spontaneous affection…Please forgive me, who have so much to forgive you forMateriaIn a labyrinth of desire and lossMy spirit felt at one with its surroundingsUnburdened by the weight of antiquityTitian's saturated palette gave wayTo a sky the colour of your eyesAnd the air, unpolluted by the dust of ruinsCarried the sweet fragrance of your hairThe decaying city, sinking into its fetid canalsSeduced me with its sini[...]
2006-02-19T18:40:55.350-08:00A Valediction: Forbidding Slumber
2006-02-19T11:07:20.460-08:00This blog is an online journal of my writings. Enjoy!