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 Adam Kluger 

The Party

The Rain Washed him Clean

Beaten but not bowed

Adam Kluger is a New York City-born street artist & writer. A descendant of British sculptor Jacob Epstein and student of artist Ion Theodore.

Kluger went to the same school as Jack Kerouac and studied the great artists throughout Europe before settling back in New York.

One of the recognized leaders of New York's burgeoning anti-art movement,

Kluger draws inspiration from diverse sources including Jean Dubuffet, Marc Chagall, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Andy Warhol, Bob Ross, Eric Payson and Pablo Picasso


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"His prose?"


"wonderful, piquant"


"Sentence structure, syntax, use of colloquialisms?"


"The entire body...of his chopped...a little hard to digest but deliciously robust narrative nonetheless"


"You really have been spending a lot of time on your food blog, huh?"


"Platform is everything these days Bascombe. How are plans coming for tonight's get-together."


"Oh you know, the usual drama and complaining, of course. It wouldn't be a literary circle event if someone wasn't bitching about someone or sticking the knife in somebody's back. It's all part of the fun and games, I suppose. You're part of the scene long enough and nothing surprises you. These writers though-- continue to show even poorer taste if I do say so. This latest one-- couldn't have been any more impertinent really. You shepherd them through "the process"--you offer them immortality and you give them a chance to be sampled by the true arbiters of the literary intelligentsia and do you receive any form of gratitude from them whatsoever--hardly."


"I know Bascombe- they are truly the basest of all creatures. All ego and no talent. Insecurity and hubris. They grab and cloy and never once realize that they are not special in the slightest. They are simply the current flavor of the month."


"This new one was the worst I tell you-- he thought he was born with a gift of some sort. You know the type. He had no time to "play the game" as he would call it. No time for foolish submission guidelines or petty protocols.


"Can you imagine?"


"Yes...he really did say that."


"Didn't he realize that those submission guidelines and protocols that he mocked were instituted centuries ago to keep out the dreck and the unwashed masses who claim to be writers?" "If we did not maintain standards or a threshold, then there would be nothing but a giant mud puddle of dung surrounded by flies."


"And by flies you mean, of course, aspiring writers"


"Of course"


"So who shall we expect at tonight's heavenly soiree?"


"Oh, all the usual suspects- the staff from Creative House including the illustrious Madame B and her devilish young ingénues all dressed in high fashion like Dorothy Parker clones, all the top literary lights, bloggers and buggerers...some glitterati, musical  theater friends, a surprise or two --expect the usual standing room only."


"Lovely, lovely-- are they all going to be pulling this new fellow apart to get at him?"


"Mmm...there should be enough of him to go around....when last we spoke he impressed me with his big personality"


"So how did you handle the particulars?"


"Per usual...he signed his rights over to us for the novel etc, etc..for the standard minor advance."


"Did you make him jump through hoops?"


"Of course"


"And dance like a chicken with his head cut off"




"And he didn't read the fine print on the contract?"


" They never they"


"That's right, so eager they are for that small advance and for that sweet taste of fame."


" They never have time for contracts or submission guidelines or petty protocols..."


"They never do."


" Even when it says very clearly in black in white."


" Upon the occasion of my death, all rights to my novel revert back to Bascombe Wellington & Associates."


"Speaking of's your famous "writer-stew" coming along?"


"Should be the hit of the party --as always"


"Bascombe, you are a cheeky devil."


"Thanks, old friend--be a good fellow and pass me a fresh sprig of rosemary will you..and could you toss these left over metacarpals into the incinerator--I have a feeling he won't be needing them anymore" 


"Quite right.... you incorrigible old rascal, you.''











Estaban deTullis may not have been the most beloved man on the small island of Azure De Ponce De Leon, 57 miles south of Caracas, but that was only because of the sometimes venomous feelings harbored toward him by his often-times put upon wife and busy-body mother-in-law.


For everbody else however, Estaban was the noble elder of the island,  the wise old Fisher King-philospher and everybody's favorite uncle wrapped up into one. Tulli's fishcart was the central hub of village life that brought the community together with laughter and gossip and delicious fish and of course Tulli's home-made wine.


Tulli was not a great businessman for sure but he made sure the people of his village never went hungry for fish or drink or friendship and for this he was much loved whenever he made his rounds oft-times joined by his eight year old Roberto or his 15 year old Pepito. The boys raced along and helped their father pass out fish. They also marveled at the scars all over his muscled and sunburned arms and legs and his fish tales.


"Yes, Pepito--that little love bite was from my good friend the great white shark--he was very hungry that day for fish-- but not finding any fish to eat--he decided to nibble on his good friend, it didn't hurt too much --my little fisherman."


The work was hard. The sun brutal and for almost sixty three years Estaban deTullis, native son of Azure De Ponce De Leon, son of a fisherman himself, had whispered to himself a little morning  prayer; "work hard--trust the lord and the fish will by one." 


Tulli, as he was known on the island, always wore a smile that even his occasionally mean-spirited wife Esperanza could not wipe off his face.

"Espy dearest...the lord will provide...he always does...he gives us fish for stew and he gave me for you."


"Lucky me" snarled  Esperanza, "try not to give away all your fish today, ok Tulli--you may think you are the king of this island but we still live like paupers."


"Oh Espy darling-- with you , Roberto and Pepito and Marisol, I am the richest man in the world-- not just on this island."


"You keep talking nonsense and I will hit you with this fish pot --you better not be drinking your wine before you make your rounds."


"I'm going out fishing for Grouper now dearest...don't you worry about your Tulli!"


"Take your rain jacket"


"Yes, yes."


And off Tulli went on his little fisherman's skiff with its thick net made of corded rope that had been drying in the broiling sun, stinking like rotting dead fish, or  island perfume  as Tulli  liked to call it.


Tulli turned on his small, rust covered, red transistor radio to listen for the Spanish language news report on the weather and then he turned the dial to see if there was a local baseball game.


Tulli paddled out with his oar.


His strong arms had the skiff gliding along smoothly across the clear blue water. He could see the coral reefs and a small school of minnows glimmering like small silver coins in the sun.  He was heading to the dark deep blue Grouper fishing grounds at least a mile away.


The sky was starting to darken. He turned off the radio and listened to the seagulls. A fisherman learns to go over his checklist. the gear, the lure, the location, the sun, the weather. These things are important, yes. But, the Lord is the reason a fish will bite on the line. Wicked men do not catch fish Tulli told himself.


Wicked men fall overboard and sink into the dark black abyss.


Tulli knew that his end would come one day too.


He asked the Lord on this day if he too was but a wicked man like his wife had repeatedly told him. Was he wicked and too selfish for not making more of a living and not bringing his wife more.


Tulli wiped the sweat from his flushed face. Maybe he did drink too much wine this morning. He felt a drop of rain then another. While the Lord did not answer Tulli directly, Tulli did catch a large Grouper and some other smaller fish over the course of the next few hours before he started to head home.


Then suddenly with great surprise, Tulli spotted the fin of a large Great White shark, breaking the surface of the water and slowly  circling his skiff from a distance of 20 or so feet. It was strange to see a shark in these grounds. By the size of the fin it was probably a Poppa shark. 


Tulli had had his run-ins with Great Whites before and he knew from past experience that the best thing to do was to steady the boat and just wait for it to swim away. Worse come to worse the oar could be used to poke the Great White on the snout.


But before Tulli could do a thing the Great White leaped onto Tulli's little skiff and opened its huge gaping mouth with sharp, wet teeth.


The monstrous shark's dead black eyes locked right onto Tulli. In that terrifying split second, as certain death was upon him, he thought of one person and one person alone.


Tulli then instinctively tossed the Grouper and the other fish in the shark's mouth and then reached for his oar. But before a shaking Tulli could even grab his oar - the huge shark had slid off the skiff with its mouth full of fish and had crashed right back into the water.


The rain was pelting down in sheets now and Tulli collapsed in his little boat that was badly damaged and taking on water from the weight of the shark.


Slowly, Estaban deTullis regained his senses, he quickly wrapped his raincoat tightly around his foot where the shark had at some point given him a little "love bite." As soon as he could summon the strength to stand, he started to scream out hysterically in Spanish in the middle of a growing rainstorm, (translation)"Yes my Lord... thank you my Lord.. I see now that I have been a wicked man... but that even a wicked man ...and a foolish and poor fisherman and stupid and weak man... like myself still has a place in your kingdom my Lord....thank you Lord...yes my's true I have been selfish and foolish to my princess--my beautiful  mermaid-- and I need to make things right with her my Lord-- I need to make things right somehow if she will find it in her heart....Oh, Espy --please dear Espy...I've been such a fool...such a selfish, stupid, stupid, blind fool..."


And Tulli paddled back in his creaky skiff as fast as he could to Azure De Ponce De Leon with tears running down his face as the rain washed him clean.


All around-- the city coughed up scorched reminders of life's inevitable costs. The walking dead. The rag-tag homeless.

The diseased and  displaced strategically placed at major corners--watched the miserable faces of the business suits  as they scurried about in the broiling  hot  sun. New York City rush hour--only the tourists  were seemingly immune to the heartless magnetic draw of the subway staircase as they stopped to hear a tale of woe and fish through their pockets for change.


Peter Grey was beaten but not bowed. He could feel the ache of a torn rotator cuff and the holes in his one pair of good shoes. Business had been slow. Everyone always says it's slow during the summer. They were all assholes and losers who said that, of course. Things are only slow when you are dying on the vine or giving up. In business you need to constantly be moving forward-- like a shark--sniffing for blood in the water. Always searching for new opportunities.

For Grey Associates, the nitty-gritty was down to the bone. In the red and underwater, ducking bill collectors and filled with self-doubt--the shithouse was literally going up in flames before Peter's blood-shot, crud-caked eyes. It never ends well. If Peter's back was any further up against the wall he would be a light socket. The more desperate the situation got--the more Peter tried to slow things down. Almost like calling time outs at the end of a basketball game that can't be won. It all seemed utterly futile.


 How many times over the years had he been in similar straits--too many. Why didn't he just give up... and do what?  Work for the Man.  Uh, don't think so.

They met at a greasy spoon diner on Delancey Street.

"Got any gum?"

"Uh, no sorry"

"Trying to quit"

"um how does this work"

"So how does this work?...yeah well, first things first, let me get a fucking coffee- if that's alright with you, that is."

"Yeah, yeah of course."

"So how much we talkin'."


"That's more than I heard"

"Yeah well--things are pretty bad."

"Cry me a river pal...(to waitress) yeah sweetheart-- just a large coffee with 5 sugars, thanks...and if you got a donut that'd be great...."

"So, is 200 a problem."

"Is 200 a problem? do you think 200 is a problem?"

"I don't know"

"Listen, here's how it's gonna work- you're  gonna get that--but you're gonna owe this"

He made signals with his fingers almost  like a baseball coach.

"What's that?"

"what're you a lawyer now?"

"no, but if I'm agreeing to something I should know."

"it just what it is---what it's gonna be --and what it's always been-- like death and taxes --- that's it.

"That's it?"


"That's just seems kind of extreme... isn't it"

"so's life pal--so do you want the deal or not"

" I guess I've got to take it."

"Alright then-- at least we're not asking for your soul, like the bank,  right."

"Yeah, I guess when do I get the money"

"so when do I get the money?...How's next Friday --we'll meet here--that quick enough for you."

"That's great"

"Glad you approve."

"Well, thank you"

"No, thank you-- you business guys make me shit my pants laughing"

"Yeah, why's that?"

"Forget it pal...(to waitress) Hon..let me get another donut  willya."


The week went quicker than expected for Peter Grey thanks to three large bottles of whiskey and multiple visits from a high-class escort service.  Hope has a way of washing away all past sins.

"So I pay back the principal and interest by the deadline and we're all good"

"yup--simple as that...try not to fuck it up though--cause the collections part of the deal is-- how do you say--irrevocable."

"Wouldn't it be funny if you ended up working for me one day?"

"That's what youse guys all say... before you end up going to pieces --literally."

"Yeah, well, maybe we won't see each other ever again"

"Yeah, I'd be fine with that...but that's up to you, shitbird."

"Yeah don't I know it."

"Hey-- cry me a river...(to waitress) hey sweetheart...more coffee, huh?"



 Lady Karina DeVille, (One of Madame B's devilish ingenues) (Charcoal pencil & Acrylic Paint)

 The Skipper (Tulli's drinking buddy) (Ink & Watercolor)

Dead Fish (b/w photograph of Acrylic Paint) 

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