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the royal flush
by Charlie Finch  

Rachel Whiteread's
Water Tower

Damian Loeb
from Flash Art

Mariko Mori

Mariko Mori
Empty Dreams

From Jeff Koons'
"Celebration" series


Dan Quayle

Picasso (and Francoise)
in 1953

Anthony Haden-Guest
with rolodexes.
Photo Stephen Grillo.

John Weber

Robert Smithson's
The Wildman of Chelsea
   Stop the presses. Rachel Whiteread's Water Tower, just opened at 60 Grand Street in SoHo, trumps the 1997-98 season.

Made from 9,000 pounds of resin so toxic that publicist Lynn Richardson told us that Whiteread's team had to wear spacesuits, the water tower nevertheless disappears into the evening light, just like the dead and gone SoHo art scene it memorializes.

Congratulations to the artist, and the Public Art Fund and its staff on a triumph. New York should be grateful.

Jeffrey Deitch loves to stick close to his stars. We greeted the natty (dread) dealer, in tweed and blue Oxford button down, at the Sony 11th Street theater, shepherding his newest "star" Damian Loeb into The Truman Show at 8 p.m.

Loeb is unquestionably physically formidable at 6 foot 4 inches, with spiked hair and black muscle shirt, a thinner better-looking Billy Idol.

One easily understands how Loeb's raw frisson tickles Deitch's predeliction for the polymorphous perverse. But that doesn't justify his lousy art. The guy rips a famous press image of two white photographers being gunned down in Africa (see the current Flash Art cover), does it in a shitty way, as if to say, "So what?"

This bad appropriation has gotta stop.

Meanwhile, a source close to Deitch, responding to our last column on Mariko Mori's discontent, defends Jeffrey thusly:

"Mariko's pieces are very expensive to make -- she is unaware of the complex technical process used to create her 3-D videos and Cibachromes. Even in editions of three, the margin of profit for Deitch is less than 10% per piece. And he basically didn't make any money at all, if you throw in advertising, travel, labor costs, et al."

As we've told you before, Deitch was motivated to solidify his relationship with the Mori family, as advisor to the Mori Museum, now under construction in Tokyo. Jeffrey, our source adds, now doesn't feel that losing Mariko will jeopardize this arrangement.

We also hear that Deitch lost so much money on Jeff Koons' "Celebration" debacle that Sotheby's can pretty much tell him what to do. This includes selling his project space at 18 Wooster Street.

Deitch's Yoko Ono show, a critical success funded by Ms. Ono, was a sales disaster -- one drawing sold. But Yoko did pick up a Keith Haring for herself from the Emmerich backroom.

As for The Truman Show, it's all it's cracked up to be, with a Christ-like Jim Carrey worth every dollar of the $20 million he got for the picture.

Director Peter Weir's trademark lush dissolves (see Richard Chamberlain in The Last Wave) work brilliantly to contrast the cynical manipulations of the actors around him with Carrey's fructifying real paranoia.

We see the situation through his eyes, while observing him as well, just like the billion viewers in the movie. The hand-in-glove match of Truman's quest with our own existential dilemma is a perfect fit, as if Candide wandered into 1984.

One caveat. Don't wait to see this on video -- the wide-screen and the packed audience add to the experience.

I am confident that the Republican party will pick a nominee that will beat Bill Clinton.
        -- former Vice President Dan Quayle, on the year 2000 presidential election, in this week's Time Magazine.

Slate editor Michael Kinsley famously remarked that a political gaffe is "When a politician inadvertently tells the truth."

We're glad the former veep unconsciously confirmed our scoop last month that the White House is actively planning a difficult year 2000 third term strategy for President Bill Clinton.

In a radically new electronic age, it is the artist who makes the revolution visible.
        -- Marshall McLuhan

Let's hope so!

Was Pablo Picasso the target of a NATO intelligence sting? According to letter to The Spectator (London) by one Richard Dorment, the spies faked this Picasso quote:

I am only a joker who had understood his epoch and has extracted all he possibly could from the stupidity, greed and vanity of his contemporaries.

According to Dorment, NATO allegedly encouraged Italian journalist Giovanni Papini, in 1951, to publish a fake interview with Picasso, to dramatically undercut his pro-Communist image. In 1962, the artist asked his biographer Pierre Daix, to expose the fake interview, which he did in Les Lettres Francaises.

Just asking: Doesn't Baerfaxer Josh Baer still allegedly owe Mary Boone $2 million?

Anthony Haden-Guest, whose courageous article about a despicable drug sting on Patty Hearst graces this week's New Yorker, has allegedly received approval from the CIA to finally print Zig Zag, his 1991 non-fiction thriller about drugs and money in Beirut.

The book was supposed to be published by Prentice-Hall, but allegedly after a visit to Langley, Haden-Guest agreed to withdraw the book from publication, because of agency fears that sources would be fatally compromised.

We've read the first chapter, a cliffhanger drug deal at Beirut airport, right out of Easy Rider, only true.

A noted oenophile, and three-time winner of the Spy Magazine "Night-life Ironman Decathalon Cup," Haden-Guest is all business in the Levant, where he notably described his friendships with Hezbollah mullahs in Vanity Fair.

We're guessing that the agency now approves of Anthony's swashbuckling portrayal of their folks in the field, and that enough time has passed to remove any threat from Haden-Guest's prose.

Get well wishes to Robert Rosenblum and Janine Antoni. Just don't run away together, guys, ok?

Venerable SoHo dealer John Weber turned collectibles sleuth when he went west to 20th Street. Rummaging through his storage boxes, Weber found a 1961 painting by Robert Smithson kismetically titled The Wild Man of Chelsea.

John proudly displays it in his back office, but we couldn't help but notice a marked resemblance!

Art whizzes like Jerry Saltz and Holly Solomon turned out in force at the Drawing Room to see Clarissa Dalrymple's latest London curation. However, eyes were easily diverted by Dalrymple's still-lucious bubble butt, decked lovingly in black leather. One younger observer remarked, "I'd still do her!"

Humorless MoMA imam Glenn Lowry made an extremely rare private gallery appearance last night at Hudson's hot hot Feature gallery, touted to us months ago by Rob Storr as MoMA's favorite space. Maybe Glenn can consign Hudson some of MoMA's Nazi loot!

Thanks a lot editor Deborah Drier for not mentioning ArtNet in your survey of 20 websites in the new Guggenheim Magazine.

Fortunately for ArtNet, only 100 people read it!

By the way, it took the glossy Gugg mag 11 issues to find a sponsor. Larry Gagosian!!!

CHARLIE FINCH is the New York editor of Coagula Art Journal and has coauthored the forthcoming Most Art Sucks from Smart Art Press.