How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love The BOMB

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1. The heads of B. Wurtz. 2. The Kids Seem All Right: Ryan Sheldon, BOMB intern and student; Cella Constanza, student; Rachel Mercer, BOMB intern; and Sari Lesem, marketing intern.

The Greenhouse at BookCourt replaced, four years ago, an actual greenhouse that stood behind what was then a neighboring flower shop. There may not have been rare blooms along the bookstore’s walls on July 16, but an equally bright, summer-bedecked crowd turned out for BOMB Magazine’s summer launch party. We drifted inevitably toward chairs and a loveseat (a liberal-minded three-seater), Danny Lyon’s Working Girl, Cartagena, Colombia — this issue’s cover — giving us all the once-over from a screen hung between Cooking and Self-Help. Wine came in ruby or topaz and late-comers like my Dish-mate Sam Gold stood in gathering numbers as Joshua Cohen, witz-y and impressively straight-faced, began to read an excerpt from “Sent,” which he described as inspired by “the great confluence of the opening of Eastern Europe and internet porn.”

1. Joshua Cohen, witzing all over the place.

His protagonist, Cohen promised, ends up in a town inhabited by all the women he has ever masturbated to. In the meantime we were introduced to “the friend,” the guy who makes the porn, a protean shadow-man: “Bald, not bald, balding…never with a baseball cap, never without one,” clad in sweats for easier disrobing, as simultaneously repellant and magnetic in his dark-cornered depths as porn and Poland were, back in the early 90s.

Lynn Melnick followed with “Seven Scenes from the Wreckage,” written after one glance at a photograph she hurriedly stashed in the back of her closet, where it’s been ever since. The scenes she brought out, fortunately for us, seemed to reference a hazy California adolescence, which to its subject is painfully precise — it rains in August, “months where I couldn’t laugh” in “the year my instamatic broke.” Someone loses an elbow out the window of a bus and days later, a nine-fingered man appears.

1. Wayne Koestenbaum; BOMB editor-in-chief Betsy Sussler; Kristian Mamack, just hangin’ out; Stephanie Weber, curatorial assistant at MoMA and girlfriend of Justin Lieberman.

As far as I could see, two full sets of fingers took the front to talk art–the Brooklyn-based Justin Lieberman and New York-based B. Wurtz had selected images of each other’s work and were armed with questions, although in Justin’s case a lot of the answers were the same–”eBay.” He’d gone though a found-art phase in which the art was all found & purchased thus, and it took an 18’ x 20’ piece that lit up and had to be moved with four tractor trailers to end it. B. Wurtz’ work, comparatively, looked light–one of Lieberman’s favorites was a paper bag within two fruit baskets, stitched together — but not lacking in density. Once you get past the Duchampian jokey-ness, Lieberman suggested, you’re faced with the unfathomable, a brick wall.

1. Tamar, a student, and Melissa, mostly a student. 2. Jonathan, a photographer for TimeOut New York, and Cole, NYU student.

Wayne Koestenbaum was quite happy, he explained, with our not being able to fathom his poem “The Ice Cream Man,” but its playful referential jig called not so much for interpretation as for joining in. The Ice Cream Man cometh, he suggested in a pleasant rasp, “bringing a full viral load,” “bringing amputation;” “in my mouth;” “the Ice Cream Man cometh along well, said the plastic surgeon and the Lord opened a KFC franchise;” “the Ice Cream Man cometh to dispute Truman Capote’s greatness,” “to urinate on the fire, fouling my website,” “to give pop quizzes on theories of time,” “to heal hemorrhagic stroke,” “to exercise the human capacity for concentration,” and etc. and etc. Sam Gold, in the back, took up the rhythm, and eventually we wandered out of BookCourt and down Court, in summer twilight, bearing our BOMBs in good faith toward Blue Marble’s version of The Ice Cream Man.

***

— Elina Mishuris is the author of Elina Mishuris, mas o menos. Occasionally, she lives in Brooklyn.

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