“It was like the most beautiful day ever,” recalled Rachel Glickman. She is 24, a recent New School graduate and a self-proclaimed dog-lover. That day—Sunday, July 24—is seared in the vivacious blonde’s beautiful mind as yet another gorgeous Manhattan day turned horribly dark.
The sun was shining, the birds sang merrily, and all seemed right in the brunchers’ paradise outside Nolita’s Café Habana. Ms. Glickman, wearing Mayle shorts, sandals and a Marni top, was taking her usual morning jaunt about the neighborhood with her beloved Preston, a pampered two-year-old silky—very silky indeed—terrier. In an instant, the harsh realities of the dog-eat-dog world of Manhattan came slicing down like, well, the fangs of a pit bull.
“Preston was totally just minding his own business,” confirmed Stephanie Dalsey, Ms. Glickman’s friend and walking companion that fateful morning. “He didn’t even see it coming.”
Had Preston, who has the regal tastes and the disposition of, say, Louis IX’s porcupine, deigned to observe his fellow canines as he pranced along Prince Street past the hipster-brunch cattle call, he might have seen the large, black, mixed-breed pit bull galloping toward him.
Before he even had a chance to react, however, Preston was flapping about like a rag doll, his blood-soaked hindquarters clamped in the larger dog’s iron-grip maw. Ms. Glickman simply screamed and held tight to the leash.
“There were lots of people on the street and the restaurant was packed, but nobody did anything. I was so surprised,” said Ms. Glickman, whose generous heart leads her to occupy her time caring for two dogs, baby-sitting and volunteering for a children’s hospital here in the city.
After the pit bull, whose name was Momo, released Preston from his mouth, a surfer-looking dude with long blond hair ambled out of Habana. He had a non-American accent and wore tight jeans and a weathered T-shirt with an ironic slogan. He took control of Momo and then inspected Preston.
“He started poking Preston’s wound and was like, ‘Oh, yeah, he’s fine, he’s fine.’ He didn’t even say sorry!” Ms. Glickman recalled. But she knew better, and so she rushed Preston to the emergency room at Veterinary Specialists, an animal hospital on Fifth Avenue.
Preston was not fine. So far, he’s had two operations: the first to stitch up the wound and a second to remove a large section of his infected, rotting little tush. “It really reeked,” asserted Ms. Glickman, contorting her porcelain face to emphasize grossness.
Momo’s cruel fangs had sunk in all the way to bone, and doctors had to remove both flesh and muscle tissue to prevent more infection. Little Preston spent an entire week in the hospital receiving regular doses of hydromorphone, a derivative of morphine. Preston didn’t care much for the catheter he was hooked up to and ripped it out on Saturday—resulting in noticeable swelling of the wee dog’s typically diminutive genitalia.
And the bill for his treatment is $6,000 and growing.
The Transom accompanied Ms. Glickman to the hospital during visiting hours recently and is happy to report that the little guy is feeling better. He even had a few bites of the gourmet Cowboy Cookout beef-and-sweet-potato doggy stew his mother brought along for him.
If this were a film, Ms. Glickman and the pit bull’s owner would fall in love. She’s a pretty, well-off girl about town; he’s a long-haired hipster! She’s a California gal; he’s from … somewhere foreign—but they both love New York and puppies! And at their wedding, a healthy Preston would limp down the aisle, a velvet ring-bearing pillow strapped to his back ….
When Ms. Glickman originally returned to the restaurant to inquire about the man who had taken control of the pit bull, she approached a clutch of waitresses, but “those little bitches lied to me,” she recounted. “They were like, ‘No, he works here. [But] that’s not his dog.’”
Later, she located the gentleman in question, whose name is Juan, and who works as a bartender at Café Habana. He was man enough to fess up to his affiliation with Momo the pit bull. Perhaps he was confident that his charm would deflect Ms. Glickman’s anger.
“He was like, ‘I’m sorry we had to meet under these circumstances,’” said Ms. Glickman, who is still mystified as to the bartender’s accent. “At first, I thought he was French.” Juan actually never apologized, Ms. Glickman claimed, and only offered that he would buy a muzzle for Momo.
Ms. Glickman and her parents, who reside in Malibu, are currently contemplating legal action. And although Juan’s silver tongue failed to cast a spell over Ms. Glickman, she is definitely concerned about the devastating affects a lawsuit might have on Juan and Momo.
“My thing is that I love all dogs,” she said. “I don’t want anything to happen to that dog, or for his owner to lose his job. But he does need to get his dog properly trained.”
Ms. Glickman has already met with Preston’s personal trainer and is gravely concerned about how the attack will affect her recovering pet’s outlook. “His trainer said he could either become timid or much more aggressive. He already has doggy A.D.D. Maybe I’ll have to put him on Prozac.”
As for Juan, The Transom was able to find him at Café Habana on Aug. 1, just before midnight. He refused to disclose his last name, but freely offered that he was 30 years old and from Uruguay.
He initially declined to comment, but moments later, began a startling on-the-record discourse on the long-standing relationship between man and man’s best friend.
“What I can say is that people and dogs have co-existed for more than 28,000 years,” he said. “They have been brought into a completely foreign and unnatural environment.” He added that Momo, who is half pit bull and half black Lab, is in fact the dog of a friend and had only been in his care for a week.
“Dogs have a completely natural and conditionally instinctual behavior,” he said. A blonde waitress in a wife-beater and Bermuda shorts echoed, “Yes, instinctual,” as she wiped down the tables.
Juan reported that he had learned from Momo’s tangle with Preston. But: “To my eyes, it was a scratch. I grew up on a farm with dogs and cows and chickens, and I know when a dog needs serious medical attention. Honestly, if you’re somebody who knows anything about dogs, you would put some glue on the skin with a patch and that’s it.”
He also related that, in his brief relationship with Momo, he witnessed the dog get in over his head with another really big British bulldog. The other dog had Momo in his mouth and was shaking him like a pillow. “And of course I was concerned, but I was like … too bad for Momo.”
The New New Sincerity
“It’s been my observation,” said über-dealer Jeffrey Deitch, “that there is little of real importance in art that doesn’t have a parallel in music, in performance, in literature. If something is really strong, you’ll see the same impulse in all sorts of different fields. Right now there is this interest in collapsing time, of ignoring historical boundaries, references to all sorts of things from the ancient world to French 19th-century realism to surrealism. This sort of historical collage is actually one of the more important things going on at the moment.”
Good gravy! Time and space are collapsing!
Citizens Band, the mention of which sent Mr. Deitch on that reverie, is a loose collective of actors, dancers, contortionists, musicians, poets and trapeze artists. Obscured somewhere in its folds is a supermodel, Karen Elson, and occasionally there is even the actress Maggie Gyllenhaal. There is the sister of a famous actor, Rain Phoenix; the cult singer and soundtrack composer Craig Wedren; the filmmaker Sarah Sophie Flicker; the former bassist of Hole and the Smashing Pumpkins, Melissa Auf der Maur; and the boyfriend of Fischerspooner front man Casey Spooner, Adam Dugas.
In New York, everyone is a someone to someone: the boyfriend of, sister to, cousin, best friend, wife. One just must insist hard enough and eventually someone will listen. In this case, Paper magazine did. One of Citizens Band’s founding members, the saucer-eyed, porcelain-limbed Ms. Flicker, caught their attention nearly a decade ago as the friend of Milla Jovovich. She was promptly elevated to the status of “stylist” and the path was set.
“Paper”—by which she means Kim Hastreiter and David Hershkovits—“are sort of like my New York parents,” Ms. Flicker said. “They are truly some of the most supportive people I know.”
Before then, Ms. Flicker picked up skills during a brief stint at law school at the University of San Francisco and in Los Angeles, where she spent time working on films and music and the usual ill-defined other things under the banner of “creative work.” In Los Angeles, she spent time with Jorjee Douglass, who was then working on her musical career. Adam Dugas, who was to become the third founding member, also lived in L.A., though they didn’t know one another terribly well. Almost simultaneously, all three moved to New York to join the beautiful people. Sarah styled and made a movie, Jorjee did makeup and sang in the band Butcher Holler, and Adam started a yearly Christmas performance-cum-party called Chaos & Candy.
A plan was hatched at the Fischerspooner Salon in Brooklyn last year. Suggested members were culled, rehearsals set to be no more than three. “I didn’t even know half of the people when we went on,” said Mr. Dugas. That first show took place last November after the screening of Ms. Flicker’s film Kill Your Darlings.
“We had all decided we had consumption, because I had a bad cough. It was really sweet and a mess,” Ms. Flicker said. Afterward, Mr. Deitch approached the troupe and asked to take them under his enormous and well-financed wing. The following show, in January, was performed on the terrace of the Maritime Hotel—the hotel’s owner, Sean MacPherson, is, of course, a friend. The third show, at the Deitch Projects itself, employed the David LaChapelle tableaus on show as their set. Most recently, a fourth went on in the Maritime Hotel’s Hiro Ballroom.
Life is a cabaret! It’s the high-class Cockettes! “Sarah and I are both big fans of the Weimar esthetic,” said Ms. Douglass. “The film Cabaret is especially meaningful to me. When Bush was first elected, there was a desperate need to inspire and entertain and educate and show some political awareness. I really felt as though Hitler had been elected President. You know, the two of us canvassed Broward County, so when he was re-elected, it really crushed us. In other words, it’s important to me that we inspire someone not just musically, but know that we can make a difference in some way.”
Their last show, No New Thing Under the Sun, took its cue from Ecclesiastes 1:9: “All that which hath been is that which shall be; and that which hath been done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun.” Instead of grim Biblicality, it was a rollicking good time, with soap-opera stars singing louche versions of Depeche Mode’s “Personal Jesus,” knock-kneed, knee-socked nymphets chirping “Forbidden Fruit,” a mustachioed dominatrix belting “Sympathy for the Devil,” terrifying trapeze work, so many sequins, so much naked flesh.
Even Tom Waite’s dirge “Hallelujah” was made sweetly poignant by Karen Elson’s woeful alto. In this case, supermodels can sing. “She was meant to make music,” said Ms. Flicker.
In the audience were Rachel Weisz, Josh Charles, photographer Craig McDean and his wife Tabitha Simmons, Waris Ahluwalia and Chiara Clemente. “After their last show,” Mr. Ahluwalia said, “I left feeling so elated! They’ve only managed to supersede that here.”
“For me,” said Mr. Dugas, “it’s liberating to come into this, because I’ve done a lot of burlesque in which I found myself in a constant struggle to avoid irony. Citizens Band is very sincere. It’s much harder to be sincere and open and emotional—you’re quite clearly taking a huge risk. But it’s a much more satisfying experience. We’re trying to communicate stuff that’s a bit more pointed, considering our political bent. Because there’s a lot of playfulness and lightness, it allows people to relax.”
“You know,” Ms. Douglass confided, “I tried doing this in L.A., but it failed. There’s something different about New York that makes this sort of thing possible. There’s theater here, and an openness unlike anywhere else. I think people here are smart. In L.A., everyone would have thought we were idiots.”
“It’s just this grand experiment,” said Ms. Flicker. The band, as such, insists that it’s not making any money yet—and with such elaborate costumes and stage work, it may be a while. Ms. Flicker claims that “we’re still practicing in my apartment,” though Mr. Deitch has a slightly more developed idea of the enterprise. “The ultimate goal is to create a contemporary art cabaret,” he said. There are even “thoughts of developing it into a film.”
The next official installment will take place this September at Mr. Deitch’s Wooster Street space. According to Ms. Flicker, “it will be a meditation on health care.”