In Conversation with the Central Park Coyote
A few nights ago, I was crossing the Central Park. There was a school party at the ice skating rink, and in the distance you could hear the booming music. It was on a lonely path just by the pond that I saw the coyote, standing very still, and looking straight at me. I had read about the coyote in the park in New York Magazine, but thought it was an hoax aimed at making their readers believe in urban magic while they’re in line at Whole Foods.
– Hi, said the coyote.
– Man, I thought you were an hoax ! But now I can see you’re for real, and you even speak !
– Dude, do you like Indian music ?
– … ?
– I mean, do you believe in reincarnation and all that shit?
I always thought reincaranation was an hoax as well, but I didn’t tell the coyote, not to hurt his feelings and beliefs.
– The last time I was born, he went on, was in the middle of Walter de Maria’s Lightning Field. Until I was a grown up I thought it was genuine Nature, and then somebody told me it was Art. From that moment on, the landscape lost all its mysteries. I thought about moving to L.A., but finally decided to walk all the way back to NYC. I first went to the Bowery, where I was a cool cat in the Fifties, renting a studio next to de Kooning, and advising Robert Frank on « Pull my Daisy ». I was on and off through the sixties, and became a regular at the CBGB where I replaced the Ramones drummer for a set once when he was too drunk to play. But in 2009, the Bowery was no more a place for me. And I took the 6 train – which in the early eighties, I had tagged entirely – up to Central Park. Here I can hide in the bushes and get Smart Water from the pond. I also study Uptown people, since I was more familiar with the Downtown crowd. Of course, there are loads of tourists, but the whole town became touristy anyway. Well, NY is no more what it used to be. It’s all fake and loud, a big shopping mall mainly populated by self-obsessed dogs. Only the architecture remains.
Seeing him becoming bitter, I asked him if the Joseph Beuys coyote in « I Like America and America Likes Me » was a relative.
– No, but I knew him, he replied. He was such an asshole (meaning the coyote, not the famous artist). He certainly was not qualified for the job, totally illiterate with Art, and besides that a real wimp. But he had a strong drive for celebrities, and schemed to be cast for the role. In fact, another coyote, a true wild one, had been selected, but he went on the loose a few days before the performance started, and had to be replaced by this phony at the last minute. I’m glad he got hit by the cane a few times. See, being locked in a cage with Beuys was not like being in an hotel room with Jeff Koons.
– Have you seen the Abramovic show at MoMA ? I heard it’s really impressive.
– Not yet, I hope they’ll let me in. I was refused at the Whitney Biennial.
I wondered if he ever gets bored with monotonous days in the park ?
– I have lots of activities. Escaping from the cops. Stealing sandwiches from uptown kids while their crews of nannies gossip together. Aboriginal art with dirt and stones. African wood carvings. And on Wednesday nights, I perform Native American dance, right by this oak. Free admission, no photos.