~ALFREDO/LOST & FOUND !!
JOSH HARRIS and ALFREDO MARTINEZ – MAKE LIKE ANDY (WARHOL) and JEAN MICHEL (BASQUIAT) !!
UPON ALFREDO’S – SAFE RETURN – FROM A 3 MONTH DETENTION IN CHINA – AND A SWIFT 24 HR. DEPORTATION – BACK TO THE HOMELAND – OF – THE U.S.A. – AND – NEW YORK CITY !!
WILLIAMSBURG, BROOKLYN. SUN, AUG 15, 2010.
PHOTO: NANCY SMITH
OK . . . where to begin.
so, JOSH wants credit, and rightfully so, for putting out the initial – APB – ALL POINTS BULLETIN – alert that apparently saved Alfredo’s scruffy little 300+ lb. native Brooklyn-born Puerto Rican American neck !! yep the ENGER BROS – aka EXPLODING SKY – got it right – their friend was being held – in the dark, scary and creepy Chinese Prison system. and supposedly without anyone’s knowledge – !! it’s estimated by Alfredo that he was in there for approx 3 mos. and it was not looking to have a happy ending – any time soon. According to Alfredo – he was hauled off the streets – no reason was given – restrained, and deprivation-tortured, denied outside contact and kept literally in the dark – about where he was and how long he would be there. he was also told to keep his mouth shut about it – but since he is now out – here goes !!
back to the beginning. luckily Josh’s APB included Alfredo’s friend & patron in China – the so-called “rich kid” BYRON HAWES. and apologies to Mr. Hawes !! it seems anybody who can buy their own set of shoes – is termed a “rich kid” by Alfredo . . . anyways it turns out BRYON HAWES is a writer/contributor to TIME OUT MAGAZINE in CHINA and luckily besides being a huge fan of Alfredo’s artwork – he is diplomatically connected, in a way that Alfredo needed big time. Apparently he is the son of a former ambassador of Canada’s to China, and his mom was an ambassador to France (maybe) – or something like that – Alfredo also claims Byron dated the granddaughter of Chinese Premier DONG CHOU PING – but that’s another story for another time – anyways Byron, just like in the best B grade movies – knew exactly who to call to – to locate Alfredo, and surprise surprise, within a couple of hours of Byron’s well-placed phone call – Alfredo was unceremoniously deported and sent home – on a one-way flight on Quatar Airlines – courtesy of the Chinese government !! talk about a hot potato.
looking pretty weary, after his long flight, not to mention his black hole of a Chinese prison ordeal – Alfredo is happy to reunite with a New York Post – at Josh’s local headquarters in Williamsburg.
although you have to take everything Alfredo says with a grain of salt – he can spin as good as he can whip up a working gun from spare parts – a big part of the ‘hot potato’ problem – obviously. usually the weirdest parts of his stories – are the truest. at any rate – we had caught him – right upon arrival – not quite long enough for him to get rested enough to embellish any colorful details and – according to him – the facts were harsh enough to stand alone. He certainly looked shell shocked enough to support his claims of abduction, torture and illegal detention.
He thinks, or claims at any rate, that the whole thing was set-off by his rather arrogant statements regarding the handmade guns and weapons drawings that littered his hotel room – in a small rural area – in China – where he was a bonafide American artist-in-residence (hard to believe, but true) – that caused panic to the hotel maid – who in turn blew the whistle – that brought Alfredo an impromptu visit from the local cops. The ‘in-your-face-Chinese-cops-take-that’ exchange that played out, according to Alfredo’s macho telling – was repeated – verbatim – in that NEW YORK TIMES ARTICLE – referenced in our preceding post – and that probably did not help !!
here’s that NEW YORK TIMES link again: “For China’s Western Expatriates…”
you can find Alfredo’s (notoriously stupid) quotes on the cop hotel visit – in the captions under his photo allotment – in the ‘more photos’ segment . . .
you can also evaluate for yourself – what the local Chines cops encountered. the fearfulness, awesomeness ? top drawer DIY skills ? hot potato for sure scale – of Alfredo’s gun making skills – in the pix posted in our previous post, ‘Where in the World is Alfredo’ ….
I would state that Alfredo’s gun making skills are self-taught – but he did tell me once he learned how-to – from guerillas in the South American jungle – so who knows – though I personally think, that was a small embellishment – but with Alfredo – trust me, you never know. I do know Alfredo’s gun making skills can come in handy. JIM JARMUSCH used him as the gun ‘consultant’ in his film – ‘Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai’ (1999)
in fact, many of Alfredo’s friends saw him – in the title character played by the hulking and strange Forest Whitaker – though Jim has denied basing the character on Alfredo. but . . . many of the hand-made weapons that are bandied about in the film – are Alfredo’s handiwork, if not also his lumbering gait and shady, sketchy ? under-dog world view. to put in a kind word – yes, this the guy you would most want to be – beside you in a terror attack end-of-the world scenario. let’s leave it at that.
anyways – Alfredo says he was at his local rural internet cafe in China – and although he says yes he had overstayed his visa – that’s no problem – in China – you just pay a fee and life continues – that’s what he says – when he noticed the arrival of a very intimidating wave of all black-clad heavily armed extremely serious high level pumped-up big Chinese security force – in effect – a squat team – swarm the place. he was curious and drawn to the action – like a moth to a flame. when all of a sudden he realized – it was he – who was the object of the heavy-duty hunt – a burlap hood was thrown over his head – with no further ado, no warning, no questioning, no words. he was scared like he was never scared before and taken off – he knows not where, nor for how long. weeks. days. He was subjected to hi-tech hi-level deprivation torture. that is he was held in a cold cold small room – where he was strapped into a hard cold “stainless steel” chair … that … “looked like a Phillipe Stark design – if Phillipe Stark designed torture chairs” – he could laugh now – but being somewhat stouter than the average torture detainee, in China – they had to improvise restraining straps, he adds, but it was harsh. he was allowed no sleep. no movement. he had cramps and was harangued incessantly “to sign papers” and “squeal” on his “contacts” in China .. he says he kept saying he was just an artist and an American version at that – but that didn’t seem to go over too well. he said he truly feared for his life and this is the one fact I most certainly believe. he says being aware of the big gun power around him, their make, and even his “intellectual” knowledge of hi-level deprivation torture – did not make it any easier. he says he lost track of time . . . of how long he remained imprisoned there – in what he surmises was a high level high security secret detention center – till he was removed and driven away to a regular Chinese civilian detention center – where he was placed with . . . “you know, ordinary criminals like pick pockets . . . and the food was pretty good, well ok compared to the last place” – all in all, totaling almost 3 months of unlawful detention – as far as Josh can decipher from Alfredo’s last email – till he put the – APB.
it sure looks like Bryon Hawes, and Josh Harris saved Alfredo’s sorry Brooklyn ass . . . without Josh’s APB and definitely without that one well-placed (high-level we assume) diplomatic phone call of Bryon’s – Josh says, impressed: “Bryon knew exactly who to call” – Alfredo was looking to be eating mangy Chinese prison food – for the rest of his life. Once Byron made the call – it was less than 24 hrs and no questions asked – that Alfredo found himself on a one way ticket home.
now he just has to scramble, like rest of us among the sorry recession ruins of the 2010 NYC art scene !! welcome home – back to the real art world – Alfredo !! he got the most upset of the whole interview – when I asked him if he was eligible for food stamps.
Josh’s current digs, c/o Jeff Gompertz. the spare-to-bones – but wired – Josh Harris headquarters in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. apparently, it’s funny to a lot of people, especially those who were at QUIET, or have seen WE LIVE IN PUBLIC – that Josh now finds himself in Williamsburg. and, why not / it’s pretty much the center of the world. or close enough. if you want to throw the near-by – Bushwick into the mix.
it’s basically – a nice empty loft space – with great light – on the top floor of a 5 story building – where Josh, ever the aspiring artist – for real – can paint. forget that internet guru bit. though his as yet un-realized project – the WIRED CITY – still seems to pop up in conversation.
the top floor place – has nice light coming in from the former ‘industrial’ use windows . . .
just in case you are wondering – a space like this – in the heart of currently super trendy Williamsburg – easily goes for about $2,500/mo.
and sure enough, just in time to give credence to the claim that Williamsburg – is indeed the center of the world – or the center of all that really matters !! – in strolls – OBASH – !! – leader of the Iranian Ex-Pat band – the YELLOW DOGS !!
no surprise here – of course we knew him. in fact we caught the hard-driving band in one of their earliest NYC performances at the JASON GRUNWALD exhibit – closing party – they played along with SISTERS – at EASTERN DISTRICT – in Bushwick !! way back in March – March 21, 2010.
I’ve been meaning to get those pix up – maybe this will finally – seal the deal.
OK. I know – I’m about as good as Alfredo – with the real-time promises !!
and, sometimes – out of sheer stubborness – and maybe, hard times – I just like to keep the best pix – to myself.
ALL PHOTOS COPYRIGHT: NANCY SMITH