Some recent work for Umbro.

Mastering Diplomacy : The Ok Oh Masterclass

In the late spring or perhaps middle autumn of 2003 or perhaps 2002, a German man approached me at the bar. He could have been Danish.  Or perhaps Latvian.  Although I do not imagine he was Latvian. I say he was German or Danish or Latvian because of his tallness, his high forehead settling into an oblong noggin and his thin beard through which he babbled with what I heard to be a Nordic accent.  He had a distinct inability to speak English.  Or maybe I should say he had a temporary inability to speak English because he was in the sort of bar on the sort of night that one attains an inability to speak clearly in any language, let alone one that's not ones own.  It was for this contextual reason that he approached me. I was a member of the pack.  Both generally at the time and specifically that night, my friends and I would circulate a few choice bars, the lot of us, and allow ourselves a very, very, for what was then, good time.  We were an auspicious pack. We were all dancing and carrying on auspiciously and the German approached me at the bar.  He had been dancing with us a little, I think, and perhaps drinking at our table, maybe, if we had a table.  He was the kind of foreigner who shows up in the happening, artistic neighborhood of a foreign city looking for a good time, looking to make some friends, looking to get into the scene of the happening, artistic neighborhood.  And we were very much a little scene.  So, smiling, he approached me.  He could not speak English well. Or he had drunk too much.  He gesticulated with his hands, smiling.  He motioned to the door, he motioned to me, he motioned to our pack, he motioned back to the door, he smiled.  There was a lot of motioning, some quizzical looks and some stopping by to make sure everything was ok, before I realized he wanted to come home with us.  It wasn't that he assumed anything weird or sexual or particularly needy, I could tell that much.  He simply didn't want the party to end and he assumed we were going to keep going, somewhere else.  We were the party and he wanted to party.  He spoke in a sort of smiling grunt, motioning all around, his big bald head floating above his narrow shoulders.  I still remember the feeling of remorse, of a guilt like disappointing a small child when I told him there was no more party.  We were going home to sleep.  I remember worrying that this German would go back to Berlin and complain bitterly about the unsatisfactory art scene in New York.  I remember, thinking for a moment that I ought to spark everyone up for an extra late night just to show this foreigner a good time, just to be the best possible New York artist I could be. I worried that he saw in us a sort of kindred spirit of fun and freedom and somehow knew in his heart that we would take him in for the night like all good, kindred people do.  I wanted, in that moment, to be that kindred spirit.  I wanted, right then, for us to be that epicenter of a never ending culture of creativity and fun.  I worried, for a moment, that he really did need a place to stay with good people who would take care of him.  But we were going to bed.  We were tired. And we left him there. In the years since, I have seen the tall German around town.  Apparently he stayed.  I don't know if he ever recognizes me, or remembers that night and his entreaty. Tonight I saw him walking on the sidewalk.  He looked unhappy and I felt guilty.

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