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The Very Best of Wilson Pickett


Kenneth Anger
Scorpio Rising
1963



Chet Baker Sings
1989



Michael Bevilacqua
Giro de Atmosphere
1996
at Jessica Fredericks, New York



Jane and Louise Wilson
High Roller Slots, Desert Inn: Las Vegas Graveyard Time
1999



Pipilotti Rist
The Third Eye
2000
at Luhring Augustine, New York
Hickey the Phony
by Charlie Finch


I first really detested Dave Hickey's act seven years ago at an Artforum panel at the Drawing Center.

In mid-oration, the pumpkin-headed critic began to scat Wilson Pickett's In the Midnight Hour, then orundated for half an hour about the song's influence on his own writings, before the enraptured crowd of shallow intellectuals.

I thought to myself, "I saw Wilson Pickett live in 1967 at Murry the K's bash at the old RKO 58th Street theater; I bought Pickett's records religiously."

Anyone who was really into Pickett would discuss Mustang Sally or the gospelly I Found a Love, Part 2, or Pickett's breakout hit, If You Need Me.

Typically, Hickey was cherry-picking obvious, superficial pieces of popular culture to aggrandize himself. Like his namesake in The Iceman Cometh, Hickey remains the center of his own performance well into the fourth act.

Look no further than Michael Rush's fawning profile in the July 8 Sunday New York Times, celebrating Hick's new beauty fest at Site Santa Fe.

Namedropper Dave tells Rush of his dreams, in which Karl Marx is "a tenured professor at Duke." Sorry, Dave, he's really covering the war in Chechnya for the International Herald Tribune.

Next up from dumpy Dave: "I learned to write prose listening to the long, lapidary lines in Chet Baker Sings. Fortunately, the Chet Baker cult around the movie Let's Get Lost is a convenient touchstone for all the right people. Only Hickey's students at Nevada Las Vegas have probably never heard of Chet Baker. Gee.

James Fenton's new book on Cambridge's 19th-century Harvard philosophers is the talk of the literary world. It spotlights randy professor Charles Peirce (pronounced "purse," as Dave would tell you).

Here's Hickey in the Times: "I exist where Charles Peirce intersects with the later Foucault." What does that mean, Davey, that you wanna fuck anything that moves?

See what I mean by phony?

Hickey is so busy looking in the mirror, and enjoying what he calls "the culture of risk" in Vegas (where the house always wins), that he doesn't really know much about contemporary art.

Hence, he touts Jessica Stockholder, who was basically over five years ago, as a revolutionary in the Times. Rush's piece repeats the hoary contention that "painting died in the late '80s." Let's see, Currin, Yuskavage, Cecily, Bevilacqua...

And Hickey brays about the good old days of video: "I want film in my show." So he resurrects the Kenneth Anger flix he jacked off to in the '60s. I guess when you're staring at slot machines all day, all videos look the same.

Psssst, Dave, Pipilotti Rist, Shirin Neshat.

How's this for a coda from Michael Rush: "Is Mr. Hickey worried about the critical reception of his exhibition? Do the potential barbs of those who have been scratched by his pen concern him?"

Vomit vomit vomit. The Los Angeles Times' Christopher Knight says, "Hickey's the smartest person I know" at the top of the article.

Two lines later, Peter Schjeldahl calls Hickey "the philosopher king of American art criticism."

Who exactly is going to attack Hickey, other than the old rooster writing these here words?

But at least I'm one cock, unlike Dave Hickey, who knows his crows don't elevate the sun.


CHARLIE FINCH is co-author of Most Art Sucks: Five Years of Coagula (Smart Art Press).

 
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