Sold The Brooklyn Bridge
I come from a family that loves art and reads a lot and maybe feels wrongly placed in the world, that we probably should be some kind of royalty or upper class, but instead we’re like working class people without connections to high-power institutions or landed gentry or anything like that. So, I feel like I come from an intelligent working class family basically. And so, I think that my brother and I were the first ones, the first generation to go to college, and I think there was probably an expectation that we would do more conventional, but more comfortable things with our lives.1 And so, I think just the fact that I got out of college and began traveling, and then in a few years, landed in New York, and then threw the gauntlet down as a poet, and then later on was queer, my life is so many things that don’t resemble what would represent success to my family.2
But on the other hand, it’s so funny. I mean like I often think of this Austrian conceptual artist I once was in a group project with, and he was also from a working class background, which is — I think his dad was a butcher. And I think when he did a certain conceptual piece, his father suddenly was like, “Oh, you’re a very smart guy” and sort of viewed him as the guy who sold the Brooklyn Bridge, and had managed to turn this complete scam into a living.3
And I think sometimes — I mean it’s not that my family wouldn’t read me, but I sort of think they don’t read me, and maybe my nephews do, like the next generations do, but I just think there’s a general sense of this being a sort of dicey-looking life that weirdly has produced a certain amount of stability. And so, it’s just kind of — I’m a little dubious, but surprisingly, grounded in what I am to my family.