Now, at that period, you know how it is when you’re in an office—you see this in all walks of life—that there will be certain people who will drift together for some reason or another. And they will be called friends. They may not have anything in particular in common except that they are friends. They’re together. A few years later you drift away, you don’t know why, and you get other friends.
At that point in my life, my closest friends were Schwartz and Bolis. One great thing about this neighborhood I lived in was you got to know all the various cultures.
Gaza—a real Hungarian name— was an old buddy of mine. So half the time I would spend my afternoon in the basement arguing with Gaza’s mother. And I would come over and see Bolis. Bolis’s family lived always in the basement. When you would come into the house you didn’t go up to the front door and knock. Nobody was ever in the top side of the house. You’d walk around the back, come up the driveway and go in the back door and down to the basement. “Bolis, hey Bol!” You knocked on the door, and the door would swing open and there would be his mother, always with a shawl over the head. “Bolis not here.”
So I got very adept at faking Polish. I could ask her things such as, “Mrs. Rutkowski, is Bolis here?” “Can I have some stuffed cabbage?” “Stuffed cabbage is good.” Simple, basic things that you say to a Polish lady.
So every night we would sit down in the basement, me and Bolis, Gaza, Schwartz, Flick, Bruner, and play pinochle, various cultures all coming into convergence. All of us meeting together here in this one little group of friends. It never occurred to me that Bolis was Polish, Gaza was Hungarian, because that is the way all the kids were. Some Hungarian, some Polish, some Schwartzes, some Flicks, Bruners. Never any value judgment. We all went to the same high school, lived the same scene, rode around in Flick’s car and went scragging every night looking for girls.
After 158 posts added onto my Shepherd material, I’ve about run out of artsy fartsys to describe. I may come up with more, but I’m unsure if I will. I’ve done it all because I enjoy the mental process—contemplating/examining my varied artsys in the art world I love and looking back at my interests and activities by creating these little illustrated essays. You see, essentially I do it for myself and in the hope that others find it worth their time and effort–it’s an added pleasure if some few are informed and entertained.
Although I get far fewer than expected comments and interchanges on these, I have hopes (having a super-strong super ego) that a selection of maybe four or five score of them might find their way into a commercial book produced by a fine art book publisher.
Getting a book published in recent decades is a difficult, frustrating, agonizing adventure, in part because nearly all publishers only look at manuscripts submitted by literary agents, and agents, with their own issues, cause many of them to not even politely respond to submitted queries. (I was lucky with my two Jean Shepherd books—I encountered publishers without an agent!)
With contract in hand, the unsuspecting author then has to negotiate the pitfalls on the uneven publishing road to see the first small carton of his printed books arrive in the mail. So I’ve tried, and am about to give up searching for a quality publisher who accepts un-agented queries. Recently I did find one and submitted material. Responses take about three months or even much more, so I carry on with life and wait.
In the meantime, I’ve written drafts of what would be required in a book’s front matter, author bio, and the book’s flyleaf promotion—these, I believe, are commonly written by the book’s author, and for that reason are written in the third person and may be a bit hyperbolic:
AUTHOR BIO FOR BOOK FLAP
Eugene B. Bergmann lives with his wife, Allison (whom he likes to say he fell in love with at first phone call), and their family. They are surrounded by their 7,000+ books and varied artworks in their home not far from the art capital of the world.
Besides Artsy Fartsy, Bergmann is the published author of the only description and appreciation of the world’s greatest monologist and wit, Excelsior, You Fathead! The Art and Enigma of Jean Shepherd, and also the published editor, transcriber, and annotator of Shep’s Army: Bummers, Blisters, and Boondoggles. He is also the editor, transcriber, and annotator of the unpublished books making up a magnificent and definitive potential trilogy with the army book: Shep’s Kid Stories and Shep’s Travel Tales. Lots of references regarding these matters can be found on his blog: http://www.shepquest.wordpress.com
He is the proud, yet-shamefaced, author of the vanity-published novel, Rio Amazonas (he paid not a cent for this, and it’s forever available as print-on-demand), as well as being the disgruntled author of the totally unpublished, surely prize-winning novels, Testament and The Pomegranate Conspiracy. He remains in mourning regarding his never-to-be-completed novel about a fine artist, Art Crazy.
BOOK DESCRIPTION FOR BOOK FLAPS AND ELSEWHERE
Artsy Fartsy consists of scores of quirky, unexpected, entertaining, informative, and totally true illustrated essays regarding the immensely varied world of art, all encountered by a single individual who keeps his eyes open and his artistic sensibility alert. Eugene B. Bergmann has traveled widely throughout the arts and brought back his findings and commentaries. He suggests that his art-filled collected adventures relate to the long-ago beginnings of museums as “cabinets of curiosities.” Those informative entertainments exhibited a wide variety of objects and artifacts, with a particular leaning towards the “rare, eclectic and esoteric.” Bergmann encourages men, women, and kids alike to express their own unique artsy fartsy potentials.
To list just a small portion of his artsy subjects: “The Garden of Earthly Delights,” his “Guernica Colorization Kit,” Cezanne’s Angry Patch, raven rattles, Keith Haring, the Roman Forum, Turner and Wyeth, Japanese art including Hokusai’s greatest book along with shunga and netsukes, Machu Picchu, La La Land, artists’ books including Mexican codexes with books of hours and pop-ups, graphic novels and Mad Comics as art, New York’s American Museum of Natural History and its legerdemain, Suzanne Farrell’s ballet slippers, a subway violin busker, Twisted Sister’s Dee Snider, Prince, Granada, bullfighting, and Peru, The New York Times, his Museum of Plastic Harmonicas, the world’s greatest radio monologist, The Vampire Lady, Norman Mailer, Bob Dylan, Marilyn Monroe, Jerry Seinfeld, Andy Warhol, Intestinal Distress, astrolabes, torn billboards, and wacky air dancers. Plus lots more.
Bergmann concludes his homage to all art-based endeavors by launching a convincing and emotional appeal for continued support for the arts—even for stuff you never pay attention to and don’t give a damn about.
ALSO BY THE SAME AUTHOR
Excelsior, You Fathead! The Art and Enigma of Jean Shepherd
Shep’s Army: Bummers, Blisters, and Boondoggles
(editor, transcriber, and annotator)