Resentment (Gary Indiana)

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  Ahatever. Anyway, I was telling you, I don't recall ever once referring to Nathan, as so many have, as a rich dilettante milking a social issue with a teeny-weeny talent, a vapid socialite, a whining parasitical creep who surrounds himself with the worst sorts of craven social climbers and brainless celebrities, or a pathetically shallow, feckless, phony queen. On the contrary, Seth continues, for thirteen years I have invariably behaved in a respectful if not downright obsequious manner vis-à-vis Nathan and his so-called artwork, even when in the privacy of my own mind I wondered how he managed to constantly replenish his volcanic sense of loss in the face of owning four quite enviable properties, a BMW and a Mercedes, and several million dollars' worth of his own and other people's paintings, I've just chalked it up to the miracle of creativity, all the while wondering how he managed to convey a more heartfelt, more depthful, more genuine concern for the suffering of others than anybody else in his immediate vicinity, while his portfolio of Microsoft shares expanded every quarter on the advice of his broker. Furthermore, Seth says, the minute Nathan Greenglass realized he could get a fatal disease from getting fucked up the ass, he started fucking women again, he came out of the closet at the same time he went back to fucking women, he even fainted at the proctologist's when the doctor put his finger up there, in fact, Seth says, that's where the inspiration for all those drippy sentimental paintings came from, fainting at the proctologist's office, and believe me, says Seth, it wasn't any generalizing humanitarian fear for other people's health and safety he was thinking of, far from it. I suppose it is some kind of social progress, says Seth, when someone can push their career further by posing as a homosexual than they can by being queer and in the closet, but there still seems something defective in that formula, frankly. I mean we already had that with, uh, Ziggy Stardust, didn't we? A quarter of a century ago? Why would we need somebody with a face like a boiled turnip to do that now? I realize, says Seth, that in his own mind Nathan wrestles with his high and mighty situation and flagellates himself once or twice a year for being so much better off than his former friends, and prefers in fact to maintain the fiction that his former friends are still his "real" friends, but with these former friends, such as myself, says Seth, Nathan has steadily reduced his relationships to once- or twice-yearly meetings, usually at his house in Montauk, the much-touted holiday weekend in Montauk has become Nathan's annual sop to his conscience over his ex-friends. During these supposedly festive weekends, which generally amount to nothing more than a charity barbecue full of Nathan's odious celebrity gargoyles and a thousand bloodsucking hangers-on, Nathan makes a lot of rueful noises about how infrequently he sees his "real" friends, whom he no longer really considers his friends at all.

Jesus, says Jack, let it go. What is all this? You talked to him?

Yes I talked to him, says Seth. He invited me to Montauk. Well, enough about you.

I think I'm going to Reno for the weekend, Jack says. It's not the same, I realize--

Oh Jack, Seth dutifully sighs. Don't.

I know, I know. Believe me, if anybody knows, I know. But I'm only taking two thousand dollars. And it's two thousand dollars I made selling drugs, so it's not even real money.

Since when are you selling drugs, says Seth, feeling left out of a possible bargain.

I'm not really selling drugs, says Jack. But I did sort of inherit some methedrine from this friend of mine who was dying and wanted to get rid of it.

You wouldn't happen to have any left, would you?

Sorry, says Jack, sounding just the opposite, it's all gone.

Funny there's no drug angle in the Martinez case, says Seth.

It's a nice clean double homicide, Jack says.

Yeah, right.

Incidentally, Seth, when are you coming over here?

Oh. You know I'm trying to milk a few more days out of the magazine. Because after that I'm on my own financially. I told you about seeing Morgan Talbot.

Several times.

Speaking of Nathan Greenglass's friends. God what a monster.

You know you can come whenever you like. But if you can give me a day or two notice.

I'm sure it won't be until next week. And thank you by the way. I'm sure I can get them to pay another four days. This suite costs them nothing, you know. They do an ad trade. You'd think Stanley Bard bought the Marmont, they're even trading art for rooms now, too bad I'm not an artist. I mean especially too bad I'm not a bad artist. They're decorating this whole hotel with really lousy out-of-focus photographs. That school of pathetic subjectivity that's all the rage. Money's so tight, Jack. I've really ruined myself. All those dinners with Mark. I'd be embarrassed to tell you how degrading it was with him

You did tell me.

I didn't tell you everything. I mean the lengths I went to. For what, I'd now like to know.

It couldn't be any worse than my thing with Juan, Jack says.

Oh yes it was, Seth insists. At least with Juan you got laid. Which reminds me of another thing about Nathan's AIDS period, it happened right after his thing with Michael Waldheim, who was this absolutely gorgeous young painter, Nathan's assistant, I believe.

He has a career, Jack interjects. I've heard of him.

That doesn't mean he has a career, says Seth, but yeah. Michael Waldheim was everything Nathan wasn't except rich: tall, beautiful in this patrician way, supposedly hung like a bull, young, and with a full head of hair. Nathan wanted that kid to the point of absolute mania, and eventually started giving him these ultimatums, like if Michael didn't put out, Nathan would destroy him in the art world, all sorts of rinky-tink emotional blackmail that would put anybody's back up, Nathan would call me every day and give me a blow-by-blow, at one point he'd gotten Michael to agree to leave his girlfriend and move in with Nathan, I remember, "He's leaving her tonight! He's taking her to dinner and telling her it's all over!" And then, get this, supposedly Michael takes the girlfriend to dinner, tells her he's leaving, walks her back to the apartment to pack his things, they walk in and the place has been burglarized. Vandalized, burglarized, and one of the burglars even took a shit on the living room floor. So naturally the girlfriend is hysterical and terrified, and Michael ends up agreeing to stay with her at least until she moves somewhere else, and even though Nathan doesn't cop to it at the time, that's the end of that. Of course it was all a complete fabrication, Michael Waldheim never had any intention of turning fag for Nathan Greenglass, and nobody dropped any turd on Michael Waldheim's carpet, either. I really have to give him points for improvisation. He never even put out for Nathan Greenglass, although Nathan then told everybody that he had. And right after that Nathan picks up a skanky piece of meat somewhere, the guy attacks him in Nathan's apartment with a knife, Nathan picks up a two-by-four and clobbers the guy on the head, then chases him out of the building and all the way through TriBeCa to the Canal Street subway, where he loses him. Then after getting himself stitched up at St. Vincent's he tells everybody it was some total stranger lurking in his vestibule.

Well, he doesn't have to worry about things like that anymore, Jack says restlessly, now he can chase male supermodels down the street waving money.

He always could have, says Seth. Except he never wanted to be a repulsive baldheaded nobody from the Five Towns waving money. He wanted to be a repulsive baldheaded important artist waving money. I have to hand it to him, he hasn't had any work done.

You saw him? When did you have time to see him?

No. I mean he's in New York, isn't he. He's the Montauk junior don of the Velvet Mafia. But he was sort of audibly lacking a chin, nose, and ear job. I guess he got hair plugs, but that's not as bad as doing your face over. He still looks bald, anyway, so I'm told. No, I had to call him. I didn't want to call him, what happened was, this journalist called me. To confirm some quote Nathan gave him about me. I mean a quote about Nathan someone gave the journalist that was also about me, that Nathan then supposedly was quoted on. To the effect, you know, that Nathan gave me money to write that profile of him in Vogue. So I had to like confront him. Because Nathan was completely willing to sell me out to the worst type of journalistic scum, confirming a story that really wasn't true the way it was told, after all I did for him out of the brainless goodness of my heart. Which was like confronting a warm stick of margarine, frankly. It's not bad enough that he's a stale artist and a public joke, he has to be spineless into the bargain. I can't talk about it. It's stupid.
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Excerpted from Resentment by Gary Indiana. Copyright © 1997 by Gary Indiana. Excerpted by permission of Doubleday, a division of Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.