The Fire Cat

The Fire Cat

This comes from a story I once tried to write as a young kid about a man who gives  a woman a fire-colored cat in order to win her heart.  She is charmed by the animal and it is consistently a wonderful pet–loyal, beautiful and full of what she suspects is a divine light.  She is not, however, so crazy about the poor schmuck who gave her the cat.   In the end, his ardor curdles to bitterness and as it does, the “light” on the cat dims daily until it is a deep and ulcerous gray.  Needless to say the story is a real feel-good; nothing but mirth at Tony’s house.  After the love-sick guy jumps in front of a train, the cat hardens to solid lead and is forever schlepped around by its heart-broken owner.  Everybody loses.  It is not a great sory and I never tried to revive it.  It was full of symbolism about selfishness and love and written by a novice a bit too in love with the “cleverness” of the story.  It was supposed to be about a gift and turned into a self-indulgent bore of a read.

At least I got this picture out of it.  Thirt years later, it was a better idea as a picture than as a story.

I and my friend and studio director, Stan Klein, became book publishers this week.  Along with our other partners, Dawn Hancock of Firebelly and  Tanya and Brian Galin, formerly of Chase Projects, we formed a publishing company called FireCat.  We’ll publish art books, poetry and novels.  We are not a big outfit.  We’ll probably put out three or four books a year at first.  Why now, at a time when publishing is a shrinking industry?  We did some research.   The only part of publishing not shrinking is art books, chef books and certain porn.  Now if we could figure out how to get those three things into a book, well, things would be skippy!

The logic of art books is simple.   People who cannot afford the art buy the books.  People who can afford the art buy the books.
They must be carefully and agressively marketed with the help of as much “free” media as possible.  We must also not publish anything we don’t understand.  Big publishing houses publish 300 or 400 titles a year.  they are top-heavy with salaries, printing costs, ad campaigns, et cetera.  I’m not surprised they’re in trouble.  We will be a bit more cautious.  We will publish what we know about, can talk about and understand.  We will be our own best advocates; hopefully being more fluid and cost effective, we can make a go of it.

Next week starts Art Chicago, the once-great Chicago art fair that has been Madison-Avenued into a corporate daisy-chain of consultants, curators, wanna-be’s, boot-lickers, ass-kissers, dolts, dullards, and dumbbells.  This is a great place to observe who, and what, you do not want to become. Have a 9-dollar wine-spritzer for me and tip the bartenders you cheap pricks.

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