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the royal flush

by Charlie Finch

In an effort to spoil the grand reopening of the expanded New Museum on Mar. 18, a bitter Marcia Tucker prematurely leaked news of her forced departure as director to her "good buddy" Amei Wallach at the New York Times.

The story goes into exceptional detail about Marcia's troubles with poisonous mold in the basement and a bankrupt landlord. Boardmember Manuel Gonzalez calls the programming, for which he shares but does not admit responsibility, "provincial." Nice.

And no Brutus ever stabbed a Caesar as giddily as ingrate curator Dan Cameron sliced and diced his outgoing boss, confirming long-whispered rumors that Tucker had basically been hung out to dry by the New Museum board three years ago.

Memo to Danno: Your new boss, whoever that is, will hardly look with favor on your back-stabbing ways. What goes around, comes around!

David Ross is best at the edge of an expanding universe.
        -- Whitney Museum board chair Leonard Lauder

Is the left coast far enough for you, Spritz?

The Associated Press confirms the Royal Flush report six weeks ago that Whitney director David Ross is going west to head the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.

What hasn't yet hit the papers are rumors that deposed San Francisco MoMA chief Jack Lane will take the Whitney job, in a baseball-style trade of heavy hitters!

Annie Philbin must be knashing her teeth as two New York museum openings emerge just after she signed a lifetime contract with the Drawing Center. However, we hear that the center is about to sign a deal for a new Chelsea space, although incoming board chair George Negroponte won't tell us exactly where it is.

You peel off Watergate and you find the plumbers and the Ellsberg break-in.

Peel off the plumbers and you find the 1970 Houston plan to use the CIA and FBIfor domestic surveillance, wiretapping and break-ins.

But what would you find if you peeled off another layer and had a close look at that secret world from which these things had been launched?
        -- Daniel Schorr, My 17 Months on the CIA Watch

Our revelation last week that House majority leader Dick Armey had allegedly blackmailed Rep. Bill Paxon and reporter Sandy Hume into the former's resignation and the latter's suicide was the talk of newsrooms at New York's three major dailies last week, so much so, that a senior conservative editor tipped off the Baltimore Sun to our story, putting our source in grave danger of losing her job.

At week's end, she appeared temporarily out of peril -- but this is what our country has come to: tell the truth about a venal shit like Armey, and you suffer the consequences.

Meanwhile, we hear that reporters at New York magazine have beseeched senior editor Maer Roshan to be let loose on the Armey story.

So far -- no action.

Tripp picked what government jobs she could: with the classified unit of the Army Intelligence Command at Fort Meade in Maryland, and at the Headquarters of the Army's super-secret Delta Force at Fort Bragg, N.C.
        -- Sunday's New York Times, p. 28

Is the Pentagon engaging in a long-term sexual sting to bring down an easily tempted (and guilty as hell) President Clinton?

In 1993 a source told me that the Pentagon had set up a secret board of right-wing conservative CEOs to "monitor" President Clinton. My source was, and is, the daughter of the CEO of a major U.S. mail order firm (familiar to SoHo denizens), with longtime ties to Senator Jesse Helms.

Large elements of uniformed Pentagon brass detest Bill Clinton as a hypocrite. The sexual harassment trials of Sergeants McKinney and Simpson, the withdrawal of General Joseph Ralston as chairman-designate of the joint Chiefs of Staff after press exposure of his admitted 1981 adulterous affair, and the "don't ask, don't tell" policy on gays in the military have further stoked the brass hats.

As such, the White House's dumping of Monica Lewinsky and Linda Tripp into Pentagon jobs may have provided Clinton's Pentagon enemies with a lethal cat's paw.

Last week, longtime New York Post White House correspondent Deborah Orin reported that Clinton's marine helicopter pilot had been caught by the Pentagon in an adulterous relationship through the use of a mysterious taping system -- he now faces disciplinary action.

This looks like an ancillary result of a systematic taping of the president by military intelligence. (For that matter, intelligence analysts like Daniel Schorr have frequently reported that the National Security Agency tapes all White House communications on a 24-hour basis.)

Furthermore, until recent public exposure, the Pentagon has been quite solicitous of Tripp's well-being -- arranging safe houses for her, paying her $80,000-a-year salary, and, as Secretary of Defense William Cohen told Meet the Press three weeks ago, defending her "status as a whistleblower."

It hardly strains credulity that Tripp may have received assistance from Clinton's Pentagon enemies.

Add to this longtime allegations of Clinton's CIA ties in drug and weapons deals in Arkansas, and what we may have is a full-scale civil war in the intelligence community under the guise of frivolous, sexual hanky-panky by a good ol' boy from sin city -- Hot Springs, Ark.

When I was young,
I had not given a penny for a song
Did not the tag poet sing it with such airs
That one believed he had a sword upstairs
        -- William Butler Yeats

Let's take a cue from the great bard of Eire, and like St. Patrick, drive the snakes of all stripes from Washington. It's your country! And now, poetry corner....

Jerry's Lament
(or, Migraine of Saltz)
Driftin' with Roberta
On a wide Sargasso Sea,
Instead I'm on 22nd Street
Watching a prostitute pee!
We've sold our souls to Chelsea
Gallery by gallery,
Condemned to look at depressing art
And praise it gleefully!
I've watched Roberta thicken
From Artforum to celebrity
But she still makes my ticker quicken
When she sucks up to Matthew Barney.
They say we're interest-conflicted
With deals, perks -- a spree!
My ego is afflicted,
We love art more than thee --
To suffer through Jennifer Bartlett
Or twist with Elizabeth Murray
Takes the bowels of a dog
And the taste of a frog,
When you're always in a hurry
From one white cube space to another
(When we sign the book, they party!)
Roberta: The art world's mother
And her bald munchkin buddy,

The alarms are up all over Europe as Sotheby's and Christie's move most of their business to Manhattan, and "New York itself goes from strength to strength," writes the Spectator's auction correspondent Susan Moore.

Moore tells us that London is terrified of losing its entire auction business, afraid of becoming "entirely domestic as is the case in France," where "the market for art works is only between £10,000 and £30,000."

Moore backs up Brit fears with numbers --"The British auction market comprises some 10,200 businesses which employ 40,000 people."

Moore estimates that the demise of Britain's £2.2 billion yearly auction business would result in losses of £65 million in annual earnings and 5,000 permanent jobs.

One can't help but reflect on the irony that, in boom times, New York has swapped its 50-year pre-eminence in contemporary art for London's traditional auction cachet.

ArtNet editor Walter Robinson has a savvy e-mail correspondent, known only as "Vanda 8" who noticed that Yale has replaced the Whitney Independent Study Program as the surest ticket (talent not required) to art-world stardom.

As Vanda notes, "Dealers like Stefano Basilico and Friedrich Petzel never miss a thesis show at Yale."

Latest example, in addition to Anna Gaskell, is Yale grad Maria Fernanda Cardoso's idiotic flea circus at the New Museum, yet another arrogant artist demonstration that we're all insignificant neutrinos. There's nothing about this show that a large, shaggy dog wouldn't cure!!

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