Stein Nib

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This is a product assessment for Stein Nib. Many shoppers don"t straightaway think of eBay when it comes to Stein Nib, but in fact eBay is amongst the top three retailers in the nations marketplace. Be amazed with the items you will discover here at Antiques Valuations.

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Norwegian Polished Viking Drinking Horn with Horn Stand for beer wine mead pagan
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Pair of Designer spiral carved Viking Drinking real Horn for ale beer wine mead
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Stein German Graffen V Dhavn Ceramic 12 Tall Pewter Lid Beautiful Rare
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TWO Budweiser Holiday Steins Christmas 1991 by Susan Sampson
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Budweiser Collectible Limited Edition Stein Heroes of the Hardwood 1991
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German beer stein with Equine theme
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Animals Of The Seven Continents Australian Stein Collector Edition
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CarTech Carpenter Technology Pewter British Tankard Beer Stein Mug Glass Bottom
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6 Piece Set German Glazed Stoneware Beer Steins Mugs Shot Glasses Miniature
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1983 budweiser clydesdales beer stein anheuser busch inc new never used 2 avl
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Budweiser Stein Heroes of the Hardwood
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Budweiser 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games Stein
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1995 Budweiser Holiday Stein Lighting The Way Home BRAND NEW W COA
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German Regimental Military Beel Steins Collector Reference c1890s WWI Era
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Ed Hardy 16 Fl oz Beer Mug Stein Love Kills slowly w Original Box NEW
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corzelius german stein
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Beer mugs set of six
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Four Leinenkugals Beer Steins by Gerz
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Budweiser Holiday Stein for 1994 New
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New lot of 4 Beer Steine Stine Collection Strohs Miller Coors Budweiser
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Anheuser Busch Historical Wars Series World War 1 Stein
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2 Vintage German Beer Steins Marked M R
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2013 Anheuser Busch Budweiser Holiday Christmas Beer Stein Sights Of The Season
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German Lidded Skull Stein with Handwritten Provenance Hanke
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2014 Budweiser Holiday Stein Holiday Lane
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2 Old Style Lager Beer Steins The House Of Wiebracht Ceramic 1991 Limited Ed
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Vintage but NEW Japan Beer Stein featuring Washington DC Historic Sights MINT
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2008 Limited Edition Stein Oak Tree Salutes Richard Mandella Trainer
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2016 Anheuser Busch AB Budweiser Holiday Christmas Beer Stein December Excursion
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Budweser Bill Elliott  Nascar Stein from 1993 In original box with COA
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The Beverly Hillbillies Collectible Ltd Edition Numbered Glass Mug
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1995 Pottery Budweiser Beer Mug Stein Textured Clydesdales American Homestead
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VINTAGE Babe Ruth The Great Bambino 95 Collector Stein Cooperstown Collection
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Anheuser Busch Collectors Club Membership Stein 1997 With Binder
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Miller Beer Mug Stein Bald Eagle Winter Watch 2000 Pottery Numbered 3rd in Serie
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Budweiser beer stein 1991 collectors edition 3674
budweiser beer stein 1991 collectors edition 3674
Budweiser 2011 Holiday Beer Stein Clydesdales New in Box
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1995 Budweiser Holiday Stein Lighting The Way Home NIP w COA YD L7
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2000 Coors Stein Passage to Gold 1st in Ironhorse Collection
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RARE Bud Dry Beer Clear Glass Mug Stein Budweiser Spirit 5 half  Tall
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1994 ANHEUSER BUSCH BUDWEISER Historical A  Eagle Series The 1900 Edition Stein
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Budweiser 1992 BUD MARDI GRAS Stein Anheuser Busch German special event 801125
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The Budweiser Historic Advertising Series When Gentlemen Agree Stein 801125
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Budweiser Jim Thorpe Sports Legends Stein COA Included 801125
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Budweiser Holiday Stein 2000 801125
budweiser holiday stein 2000 801125
Shawnee Industries 1987 Beer Stein Mug Cup Ducks Hunting Mallards Outdoors
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2011 Budweiser Holiday Stein Mug
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Budweiser Sports Action Series Play Ball Baseball Beer Stein CS295 Handcrafted
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Maui Brewing Co Beer Glasses Set of 2 Other Vintage US Drinkware Steins
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Nendoroid Mayuri Shiina 165 SteinsGate PVC Figure F S
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Sexy Girl Steins Gate Makise Kurisu 9 PVC Action Figure Collection Model
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Lilys Home Beer Boot Das Boot  Beerfest Oktoberfest Large Beer Stein Fun
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4 Disney Parks River of Lights Lotus Blossom Stein Souvenir Light Up Mugs
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Steins gate Makise Kurisu 1 8 Scale PVC Kotobukiya
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Scrobenhausen Germany Stein
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Budweiser Stein 2010 Holiday Dashing Through the Snow Clydesdales Annual Collect
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Budweiser 2017 Holiday Steins 31 ounce HTF brand new Stein series since 1980
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Funko POP Monster High Frankie Stein
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Viking Drinking Horn with wooden stand for beer wine mead wedding groomsman gift
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Four Drinking horn Ale Mead mug tankard for Viking theme Ren fair party wedding
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Pair of Game of thrones Viking Drinking Horn for ale mead beer bachelorette gift
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Steins Set of 6 designer Drinking Horn cups mugs for beer wine mead NK
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Natural Viking stein Drinking Horn mug for beer wine with leather stand New
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Darth Vader Beer Stein Collectible Ceramic Mug Metal Hinge Star Wars Beverages
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1996 Budweiser St Patricks Day Stein New with box Never displayed
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1989 berlin deutschland beer stein germany brandenburg gate new sealed le 226
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Budweiser 1999 Anheuser Busch Collectors Club Membership Stein CB10
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Budweiser 1997 holiday Stein featuring Clydesdale horses
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Stein Nib

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Ozzy and Friends. N.I.B with Slahs in Bergen 29 may 2012

Harold's problem.


As on the last several Saturday afternoons, Brian Ward, a
56-year-old illustrator of considerable local renown, was counseling his
friend on how to preserve his marriage. The effort, as always, was
hopeless. Ward's friend, the hedge fund manager Arnold Greenblatt,
had already separated from his wife and, despite his despondency about
the empty-bedded perils of bachelorhood, Greenblatt refused to make any
effort toward reconciliation.

They were in Ward's TV room, watching a college football game
to conceal from any potential observers that they were having a serious
and emotionally sensitive conversation--Michigan was beating Michigan
State. Rather than directing their words to each other the men spoke at
the television, as if it were a tennis net over which they needed to hit
their advisory serves and volleys. Each rested his glass of Malbec on
his stomach (each had an orb-like stomach that often doubled as a
shelf); the wine bottle was on an end table, resting on the small square
wicker coaster that Ward's wife, Samantha, had placed beneath it
during the first quarter, before she'd gone out grocery shopping.

"Just take her to do something you know she likes to do, but
you're neutral on--a museum or a lame movie or something,"
Ward said. As he spoke he drummed his fingers, whose cuticles were
stained black with charcoal, against his wineglass's stem.
"And if you do that, it will be very obvious you're doing
something just for her. She'll respond."

Before speaking Greenblatt paused, as he always did, and breathed
out through his nostrils, producing from his sinuses a high-pitched
wheeze. All decisions, even interpersonal ones, he treated as business
transactions, eyes flickering around in perpetual calculation.
"There's no way that's going to happen," he said.

"Well, you're obviously doomed, then," said Ward.

The two had met five years prior in a film-discussion group their
wives signed them up for, and had bonded because they'd both
disliked The English Patient and had been able to articulate,
venomously, why, scandalizing and alienating themselves from the rest of
the group. For men like them, the ability to critique incisively was
admittance to an exclusive club, its membership reserved for those able
to judge the world with unsentimental, levelheaded clarity. Greenblatt
had made fortunes for himself and his clients by investing in companies
whose value only he'd discerned; Ward's drawings and
paintings--messy yet precise, filled with figures whose muscles seemed
to flash and flex on their skins' exteriors--depended on tireless,
usually sober observation of the human form. Now Greenblatt, not for the
first time, conceded his unwillingness to reconcile with his wife (their
$140 million divorce settlement would soon be reported in all of
Minnesota's daily newspapers) and when the football game finished
he departed Ward's home for the penthouse apartment he'd
recently leased, and whose big echoing emptiness and unfamiliar
furniture he'd promptly come to despise.

Ward remained on his sofa, a fluffy white thing that he'd
stained in several spots with charcoal and black ink, so it now had a
zebraish quality. Blotches of red wine were here and there, too. He
poured himself another glass of Malbec and watched the beginning of
another game, which he cared no more about than he had the previous. In
fact he didn't care at all about football, or at least, he
didn't ever care who won. But Ward liked the violence of the
players colliding; he thought this the game's worthwhile aspect. To
Ward there was no meaning in winning or losing, in the game's
implicit battles--home versus away, and its corollary: good versus evil.
He was unexcited by the crossing of arbitrary lines to score imaginary
points that had no real-world currency. The game itself was pointless;
the game was a game. But the violent entanglement of body with body
couldn't be denied its appeal. When all of football's
valueless metaphors were stripped away, there were still 11 men
wrestling 11 other men, trying to assert dominance, to do harm. This
Ward could enjoy. He believed the game would be more telling, in terms
of human nature, if played without a ball. Three separate match-ups were
showing on various network channels, and he flipped between them,
sipping his wine and trying not to spill, until his wife reminded him it
was almost time for their date.

Ward was having his own marital problems. He and Samantha had begun
to go to bed at increasingly divergent times, to cook separate meals for
themselves and eat in front of separate televisions; she never
accompanied him anymore when their Golden Labrador needed to be walked
(and Ward was thankful for these 15-minute doses of solitude);
generally, they'd made once-tandem habits into individual

Mostly Ward blamed himself. He suspected the discord stemmed from
an existential funk that had enveloped him for the last eight years;
everywhere he went, it felt as if he were in soaked clothes and dragging
seaweed. He'd convinced himself that nothing he'd accomplished
in his art or life meant anything; that he'd become too obedient to
the civilizing forces--marriage, family, money--he'd once so
urgently disdained. To allay his unhappiness, he'd begun investing
more and more of his time, which he felt was too quickly dwindling, into
practicing piano, shooting pool, doing several pectoral dips and incline
sit-ups each day on his new basement workout console; that is, like so
many men in late middle age, he'd resumed the activities he'd
excelled at in high school, in an attempt to restore his senses of
vivacity and worth. Nothing, though, was working.

For the last 30 years Ward had been a successful, respected, and
playfully subversive member of the Minneapolis arts community. He'd
led illustration classes in the city's most ivy-garlanded and
fussily selective institutions--the College of Visual Arts, the
University of Minnesota, the Minneapolis School of Art and Design--where
he warned his students not to go to art school ("because if you end
up not doing art, you'll have only a really shitty education to
fall back on"); he'd had solo shows in various downtown
galleries where people sipped wine and whispered praise behind his back;
he was frequently solicited to design magazine covers and images for the
city's best-funded publications; for a time he'd had a weekly
column in the state's most widely read newspaper, the Star Tribune,
in which he warned people not to go to museum exhibits ("because
nothing interesting or provocative can ever happen in a museum").
But once he'd started making money, money became the basis of his
work. The merrily destructive muses of his 20s and 30s--inadequacy,
depression, indignation--that had once fueled his art (and before that,
fueled his proclivities for dropping LSD and manufacturing explosives),
had now focused on his wife; all his aggression, he found, was directed
at her. In response, Samantha had cultivated an anger no less strident
than her husband's.

They hoped their enmity would pass. Ward allowed himself to be
brought along to museums, to the opera, and to Sunday mass, where he
would sit glumly with his hands stuffed in his khakis' pockets as
the pastor lectured about charity or shame, doing the facial equivalent
of straightening his posture whenever Samantha looked his way. Yet none
of these outings relieved his need to express his disgruntlement;
rather, they constricted him further.

One evening, Ward and Samantha attended a concert put on by the
Russian Patriarchate Choir of Moscow at the Basilica of St. Mary, a big
gothic church in downtown Minneapolis. A dozen male singers dressed in
burgundy robes harmonized in soulful, Slavic voices, and it was all no
doubt impressive, but Ward had trouble appreciating anything happening
on the stage. Gently, apologetically, as if informing her he'd just
broken her favorite vase, he told Samantha he wanted to go home and play
his piano. During intermission he walked alone back to their
neighborhood, turning over in his mind the conversation he'd had
earlier in the day regarding Arnold Greenblatt's impending divorce.
Was Greenblatt's unwillingness to compromise with his wife mere
childish stubbornness? Or was it something more mature--a realistic
appraisal that something dead was, in fact, dead?

Kenwood, where the Wards lived, is Minneapolis's poshest
neighborhood. Its prototypical residents are educated liberals who
support all tax increases and social rights movements. Their luxury
sedans are nearly silent as they accelerate from full, conscientious
stops at neighborhood stop signs, and their children attend expensive,
secular, private schools. Many of Kenwood's houses seem actually to
be large cottages--simultaneously quaint and grandiose, everything
constructed from bricks, marble, and gingerbread. The Wards' place
on Summit Avenue was a three-story redbrick structure, its front door
flanked by two faux-Roman columns that held up nothing. With its
unbarred windows and a motion-detecting light that was evidently out of
batteries, one could easily see why two enterprising criminals from
Gary, Indiana, might assume it to be a burglar's wet dream. The
home's interior obeyed the messy chic characteristic of bohemians
who've stumbled into money. There was a garage-door-sized dining
room table that Ward sometimes worked on, its oak surface divoted from
his pencils and pens. The table was attended by eight uncomfortable
wooden chairs, one or two of which were always in a state of squeaky
disrepair. The kitchen's predominant feature was a double-size
stainless steel refrigerator, which contained the yoghurts and
fashionable produce that comprised the Wards' ethically guilt-free
diet; the stuff on the lower shelves was usually moldy or getting there.
In the basement was evidence of Ward's failed hobbies: his pool
table, his Precor multipurpose Strength System, his slowly growing
collection of antique shotguns and pistols. An early-model intercom
system united all the rooms, although Ward and his wife rarely
communicated through it anymore.

When he got home from the concert, Ward slid back his Yamaha's
lid and, after resting his lowball of scotch on the music stand, began
to play a Beethoven sonata. If one watches him practice--say, through
his home's front window--it's apparent that Ward is something
like a medium for the music. His eyes closed, his torso slowly swaying
as if underwater, left ear lowered down close to the keys, Ward appears
possessed. His immersion in the Beethoven, he explained, is why he
didn't hear (or heard, but didn't worry about) a crash in his
kitchen as he worked through the first movement. "I was
uninterested in anything happening around me," he said to me.
"I was in my little zone."

When he heard a second noise, though, Ward turned from the piano
and, peeved at having been interrupted, expected to see his wife.
Actually what he saw were two men in ski masks sprinting toward him,
each carrying a butcher knife.

Ward yelped and fell off the piano bench before the intruders had a
chance to knock him off it. Nevertheless one of them jumped atop Ward,
maneuvering his knee onto Ward's chest to prevent him,
unnecessarily, from fighting back. His accomplice turned out all the
house's lights and yanked the phone cords from the walls, using one
to bind Ward's hands together behind his back. The efficiency of it
all alerted him that these weren't amateur criminals. (Indeed, he
would later learn that the elder, larger, and slightly less scary of
them was wanted on a federal arms charge, while his colleague had a
warrant out for his arrest in Indiana. Eventually they would both be
implicated in a murder in Wisconsin.) In their ski masks their heads
looked like black balloons. Their black jeans had frayed cuffs and were
wrinkled yet stiff, as if they'd been worn for days. They kept
addressing Ward as nigga. Although he was afraid, he answered their
questions calmly: upstairs; no, the third floor; the bottom of her
closet; my underwear drawer; no we don't have a safe; no I
don't want to die, we don't have a safe. As his accomplice
darted around the house, Ward was thankful to be left with the older
intruder, who seemed to be in charge, but also was calmer, a big silent
Buddha of a criminal whose knee, despite his relatively benign demeanor,
was still quite heavy against Ward's sternum. The denim around his
thighs was thin from wear.

As he lay pinned to his carpet, Ward experienced a sensation of
clarity. "You'd think that under the circumstances your mind
would be racing out of control, but it wasn't," he said.
"Everything slowed down and I was able to think very clearly. I was
going through these calculations. I could see these guys didn't
look like they were on drugs, so I told myself I didn't have to
worry about that. But they were obviously desperate, and dangerous, and
I knew not to do anything to provoke them. What I wanted to make sure
was that there wasn't a big separation between us. I tried to let
them know that I'm just a schmuck artist, and don't think of
myself as being fancy in any way. Everything was designed to make it
seem we weren't from such different worlds. I figured if they could
abstract me into something that was other, I'd be easy to

Still, he worried that from a practical point of view it made sense
to kill him. Armed robbery, he knew, carried serious jail time, and Ward
assumed they'd want to minimize witnesses. Quietly, he requested
the intruder remove the knee from his chest--"Just let me
breathe," he said, "I'm not going to do anything."
His captor complied, though kept the butcher knife's blade near his
throat. Silently they remained together in the darkened living room,
Ward rubbing at his chest and gasping.

Unfortunately, when the accomplice returned from Ward and
Samantha's bedroom, he was visibly agitated by how little there was
to steal. He'd taken everything from Samantha's jewelry box,
all of Ward's wristwatches and also, for some unknown gala,
Ward's silver cufflinks; but he'd failed to uncover much else.
The accomplice shattered two lamps against the wall--one of the
lightbulbs remained intact, and rolled a short distance along the floor.
The elder associate remained stoic, neither growing irritable nor trying
to quiet the other down.

Ward now appreciates the irony of it: although at the time he was
depressed that he'd sacrificed his art--his happiness--for a life
of financial comfort, he still hadn't accumulated enough worth to
impress two criminals from Indiana.

He explained that, despite their large house, he and his wife
weren't rich. The intruder explained that the failure to procure
valuables would result in fairly severe physical harm. Which was when
Ward remembered, suddenly, that in his basement he had a cabinet filled
with antique pistols and shotguns.

"When two large and probably violent men wielding knives are
holding you captive until you give them valuables," Ward said,
"and the only valuables you have are functional guns, the brain
enters into a delicate calculus. The variables are simple: I give them
the guns, and then they have guns, which is dangerous. Or, I don't
give them the guns, and I piss them off."

Meanwhile the Russian Patriarchate Choir of Moscow neared the end
of its performance. Samantha would be heading home soon in her station
wagon, and Ward, as he led them downstairs, worried the intruders
wouldn't leave before she returned.

In his basement, as they loaded shells into the shotguns, Ward
began in a more conscious sense to fear for his life. There was, after
all, no need to load the guns if they were just going to steal them. He
noticed, too, that the phone cord binding his hands was tied poorly, and
determined that his captors hadn't bothered to tie him up properly
because they hadn't needed to--he wasn't someone they'd
ever have to worry about after they finished robbing his house and
killing him. It was then that he began to consider what it would mean to
die: "I kept asking myself, 'What do you have to do to get
ready? What do you have to do to prepare yourself?' And I
wasn't sure what it was. I thought about the things I'd done
in life, and regrets, and everything else. And I tried to triangulate
finding a way to make an exit in some kind of a graceful way.

"But I wasn't able to do that," he went on. "I
couldn't find any kind of rationale for justifying an end to my
life just then. I lingered on that for a little bit."

When the guns were loaded, the intruders rolled them up in
Ward's oriental carpet, and stuffed the carpet into Ward's
Mercedes (which would be found a few weeks later, stuck over a curb in
Green Bay with the steering misaligned). The older criminal had
disappeared, but his lamp-smashing accomplice lingered behind. With
knife in hand, he approached Ward. Ward closed his eyes and tried to
breathe. His hands clenched each other behind his back. The man put a
single finger on Ward's chin, lifting his face. He unpeeled his ski
mask up to his nose, and bent to speak in Ward's ear. "Because
you were cooperative, I'm going to let you live," he said. He
was missing a tooth, one of the bottom ones in front. He turned and
jogged away. Ward sat in his basement in the dark, and let his head drop
down again against his chest.

He waited several minutes before shaking the phone cord off his
wrists and heading out into the night. The air was early-November brisk
and the few leaves still in the trees were turned yellow by the
streetlights. Kenwood was uncharacteristically empty; some porches bore
lighted pumpkins leftover from Halloween, but aside from that the houses
all around Ward's were dark.

Down the block he saw that Vincent Sposeto, a law professor at the
University of Minnesota, was home. He let Ward in, and the two drank
scotch in his kitchen as Borgida phoned the police.

When Ward returned to his own house, Samantha was sitting at the
dining room table while investigators dusted for fingerprints, made
pointed observations about the broken kitchen window and the missing
butcher knives, the missing car, nodding their heads knowingly at all
the answers and statements Ward and his wife produced. He was happy to
see her--relieved. As if by contagion, his fear for his own life had
extended to hers; and, to an extent, by capitulating so readily to the
intruders, he'd hastened their departure: he'd protected his
wife from trouble; he'd acted as her husband. At the table he sat
beside her, their fingers intertwined, the charcoal of his hands rubbing
a little into hers.

When the police left, Ward double-locked the door behind them. The
living room lamp that had been left intact glowed softly and Samantha--a
slender, blonde-haired woman who, for the concert, had dressed in a navy
pinstriped pantsuit and spritzed herself with a lilac
perfume--approached Ward and embraced him.

"How scary," she said.

"It was surreal," said Ward. "Absolutely

They remained quiet a moment before Samantha spoke again:

"Why do you think they came in here? Isn't that

Ward said he didn't know.

"There were all these empty houses. And you were playing
piano. They could see you through the window, and you're obviously
not a woman. Why would they choose to come in here?"

Ward smiled and shrugged his shoulders.

Samantha removed herself from their embrace.

"Who were they?" Still standing, she removed one of her
high heels, then the other, and set them as a pair in the hall closet.
And then: "Why did you leave early from the concert?"

Ward was unprepared for the accusation that was planted, in the
Minnesotan style, within her questions. It emerged that Samantha thought
Ward had been complicit in the robbery, believed the intrusion had been
part of a drug deal that he'd tried to orchestrate.

"I want to know!" she said. "I want to know what

They spent the night in another couple's guest room, where
Samantha continued her allegations, which exposed the much realer and
intractable rifts of their marriage.

Shortly after the robbery, Ward would begin to turn down the
regular and decently lucrative jobs illustrating children's books
he'd pursued and hated since the 1990s (his titles include Even
Firefighters Hug Their Moms and Fartsy Claus). At semester's end he
quit his teaching appointments. He asked Arnold Greenblatt, the hedge
fund manager, to be his patron, and started a series of drawings and
paintings based on opera and theater productions around town. He moved
into a friend's house, set up a new studio, filled it with ink
spills and charcoal dust, and was able, for the first time in decades,
to focus on his work.


Brian Ward was born in 1951 in Atlanta, the offspring of a
19-year-old girl who'd grown up impoverished in the Smoky Mountains
and her husband, an enthusiastic member of the American Nazi party.

Although throughout his life Ward had infrequent contact with his
father--they met on only a half dozen or so occasions--his greatest fear
was that he would become just as small-mindedly misanthropic. Once, when
Ward was 26 years old, they lived briefly together in Minneapolis, and
Ward discovered his father belonged to an organized and energetic group
of polygamists that had no qualms against orgies taking place in the
apartments of members' sons. When he died in 2004, his father was
under house arrest following a child pornography charge. One of the only
mementos Ward has of his father is a picture of him donning an armband
with a swastika on it, standing in front of the White House.

Just before Ward turned two, his mother sneaked him out of the
house in the middle of the night and they rode a Greyhound bus to
Detroit (her brother worked there in the auto industry). She didn't
inform her husband of their whereabouts, afraid he would maneuver Ward
away from her through the court system.

Despite her efforts to protect him and remove him from his
father's influence, Ward's mother expected little of him. She
was indifferent to whether he did well in school, indifferent to whether
he got into trouble. Ward tested her by breaking more and more
rules--skipping classes, not returning home at night--only to discover
that the rules didn't exist. He may have been rebellious, but had
nothing at home to rebel against. His destructive tendencies were given
free roam.

By 14 he was a prodigious delinquent, devoted primarily to two
activities: taking drugs and blowing things up--all else,
understandably, was distraction. He explained that, in 1965, so long as
an order was filled out on official-looking letterhead, one could obtain
whatever chemicals one wanted by mail. Ward conjured a fake company that
he called, with convincing blandness, ElectroMagnetic Researchers, and
designed his first logo: the letters EMR encased within an illustrated
atom. Soon he began making abandoned Ford pick-ups explode around
Detroit's gravel pits. One time he loaded a truck with five
kilograms of dinitrotoluene (DNT, a less potent cousin of TNT, but which
burns nicely if mixed with the proper oxidants), detonated it, and
created a truck-sized crater in the ground. "It was a deeply
satisfying experience," he recalled. Another time, diligently at
work in his basement laboratory, Ward had a mishap while experimenting
with benzoate peroxide--a highly flammable compound now common in acne
treatments like Clearasil. Accidentally he ignited a kilogram of it,
causing an explosion that lifted his house off its foundation and blew
out all the windows on its first floor. He spent six weeks in the
hospital recovering from his burns.

His first arrest was for buying and distributing amongst his high
school classmates two kilograms of Phenobarbital--a fast-acting
barbiturate used to control seizures, and which upon ingestion induces a
minor euphoria. A scandal ensued, though, when numerous students
overdosed and fell into temporary comas; Ward was expelled. He briefly
attended another high school, but left of his own emancipatory-minded
accord. "School," he said, "was getting in the way of

At 16, wearing a leather jacket and a ponytail--a rebel with thick
eyeglasses--Ward left home to live in Detroit's 12th Street
neighborhood. He stayed with a group of weed dealers with whom he had a
professional history.

Detroit at this time was a city in the midst of social turmoil,
fighting against itself and seemingly insistent on its own demise.
Police, those fair-minded agents of order, regularly stopped youths on
the street, and anyone without proper identification was subject to
arrest. But citizens were unafraid to retaliate, and police cars would
occasionally catch fire, officers mugged off-duty. Tensions were
especially high near 12th Street, a liquor store- and pawnshop-dotted
area where the population was nearly twice as dense as (and generally
poorer than) Detroit's other neighborhoods. The year before, in
1967, riots had broken out here and spread throughout the entire city,
requiring mobilization of the National Guard and the Air Force. Ward
recalls being pulled over one night on his way home from work when he
was out after curfew. Taken from his taxi, he was made to lie on the
street facedown. An officer asked for Ward's identification and
pressed his shotgun's mouth to the back of Ward's head.
"It was almost a sensual experience," he said. "The warm
summer street right below my nostrils, and then this cold gun on my
neck." His runins with the police developed Ward's suspicion
that conventional notions of order and civilization could be more
dangerous, and more ontologically bad, than what was termed rebellion.

He stayed in the Rosemary Apartment Building on Prentis Street.
Part commune, part drug den, its inhabitants were a mixture of bikers,
hippies, dropouts, and anarchists, brought together by an affinity for
narcotics. Whenever someone in the building received a shipment of
drugs--LSD was the most common--everyone in the building would get high
together. It wasn't unusual for tenants to crawl through the halls
carrying torches and banging on doors, or for water to leak out of
apartments where the sinks had been left on for days. One evening, Ward
visited the basement apartment of a biker and his girlfriend, an obese
woman with a large, pussing abscess on the back of her hand; she'd
tried to shoot up heroine the night before, but instead had injected
herself with Campbell's chicken soup. Their windows were covered
with cardboard and duct tape, the floors burnt with cigarettes. The
woman thrust her hand toward Ward and dared him to look. He studied it,
more interested than perturbed, asking her to rotate her hand so he
could see it better in the light. He left, though, when the couple began
to have sex in front of him.

"I remember thinking, 'What's wrong with these
people?'" he said. "But I was in this context where
nothing mattered. There were no rules. And I was excited by that."

It was during this period that Ward was placed in a juvenile
detention center in Pontiac, Michigan, just north of Detroit, where he
stayed for several months following a drug charge. "The experience
showed me a part of reality I hadn't really fathomed before,"
he said. "I learned there were bad people, and really bad people.
And these were the really bad people." He withstood abuse from the
facility's supervisors ("they would always smack you
around"), and witnessed as a fellow inmate was beaten to death with
a lead pipe. Again, extreme danger seemed a byproduct of stringent order
meted out by authority. Rather than straighten him out, Ward sensed that
in the facility he was becoming more unhinged. He knew he never wanted
to return to a detention center, but living within the society that
prescribed these centers seemed to him equally absurd.

After his release, Ward came under the tutelage of Dr. Philip
Margolis, a psychiatrist who specialized in treating emotionally
troubled adolescents and who'd co-founded, with his wife, the
University of Michigan's Child Psychiatric Hospital. In an article
for the Associated Press, Margolis had once warned that Elvis-style
haircuts were a badge of "emptiness and lostness," and
lamented that contemporary youth were "finding their total
satisfactions in the most superficial and transitory ways that our
culture has to offer." He himself sported a haircut of
Poindexterish propriety, hair less styled than blueprinted and then

More and more throughout the 1960s Margolis was seeing drug
addicts, and this irritated him. He believed the romanticization of
drugs was disastrous, and that his patients were basically teenagers
that liked to get high whom he had no reason to psychologically reform.
With Ward, though, he sensed drugs were a minute part of a larger
psychiatric picture; something more inborn, he thought, was causing Ward
to act out--it was as if Ward wasn't rebelling, but acting
naturally, and his natural proclivities just happened to exert
rebellion. Ward became one of his priority patients. Ultimately Margolis
wanted to persuade Ward to cut his hair, to finish high school and go to
college, to understand that narcotics and explosives were too cheap, too
easy outlets for his aggression.

But Ward wasn't yet amenable. "I went in wearing my
defiance on my sleeve," he said. "Kind of like, 'Fuck
what you think about anything.' The straight world was a harness.
It was accumulation. It was convention. It was everything I didn't
want to feel like I was."

Uniquely at the time, Margolis believed art could be an important
therapeutic tool; he believed art was essential to one's ability to
properly interpret the world--Ward now believes Margolis may have wanted
to be an artist himself, but was "too reasonable." Rather than
traditional therapy sessions, Margolis asked Ward to come in with
drawings that depicted his sentiments and thoughts--the first time Ward
had ever drawn anything. In turn, Margolis considered his drawings
seriously, un-condescendingly, with no agenda of asserting authority.

"The drawings were a perfect way for me to say things to
him," Ward said. "If we would have argued verbally, I
couldn't have prevailed. He was just way more knowledgeable. But
with these pictures I could completely level the playing field. I could
argue with him--persuasively--because it was my language."

Ward created an alter-ego he named Harold--a stick figure with
circular head. When Ward felt cocky, he would draw Harold with a head
inflated like a balloon; if Ward were dreamy, Harold's head would
float above his body. Primarily he and Margolis argued about women and
art. Margolis accused him of being a philanderer, and Ward drew a
picture of Harold as a happy amorphous blob, with three women swimming
inside him.

"You know, Brian," Margolis said another time.
"Marriage to a reasonable person can be a very satisfying thing,
both sexually and emotionally."

In response, Ward drew Harold and a companion trapped in a mason
jar, in a neighborhood full of preserved, suffocating couples.

They met regularly for three years, resulting in over 300 drawings.
Eventually Margolis convinced Ward to get his high school diploma and
attend the University of Michigan. At first Ward thought he wanted to
major in chemical engineering, then in piano performance, but failures
in each of these disciplines forced him to focus on art.


After graduation, he moved to Minneapolis and opened an animation
studio with a partner--a laconic Swede named Tom Larson. Together they
did spots for "Sesame Street," animated corporate safety
videos, and illustrated album covers. From there Ward began to
illustrate children's books and teach in local design schools. He
says he didn't notice how far he'd floated from the drugs and
combustibles of his adolescence, or that the work he was doing reflected
little of the spirit that had led him to Margolis, and thereby art, in
the first place.

When he was 31, Ward met Samantha Kvistgaard, a responsible,
levelheaded, pant-suited young woman: his yang. They married after three
months, and soon bought a house on Summit Avenue in Kenwood.

Once they'd moved in, Ward said, he felt obligated to be a
good citizen. "I thought of marriage as the ultimate civilizing
thing. And then I did turn it into that." He and Samantha
accumulated, purchasing a couch so soft it seemed made entirely of
pillows, a large dining room table that he would soon jab his pen nibs
into. They renovated their kitchen so it could fit the refrigerator they
wanted. Ward lectured at MCAD to a roomful of teenagers with sandals and
dreadlocks and a distinct lack of humor who, to his dismay, obediently
wrote down everything he said. The Wards remodeled their bathrooms. They
traveled three times to France. Ward wrote for the newspaper. His
wardrobe filled with oxford shirts and polarfleece. He sired a son. The
son was sent to a private school, where in ninth grade he was expelled
for hacking into a classmate's email account and making disparaging
remarks about mentally handicapped children. Ward taught for a summer in
Rhode Island, where he conducted his only extramarital affair. He felt
he was sinking. He and Samantha went to church. His pants no longer
fit,. His hair became sparse and he cropped it short. He bought a pool
table and an expensive home work-out console. He found sheet music to
Beethoven. Every project he took on reminded him how little he'd
achieved, which in turn made him remember how much he'd once wanted
to. He didn't see any way out from his life, no way to rebel
against what he'd built, no way to destroy it without completely
destroying himself as well. And Ward immersed himself, accepting rote
freelance assignments often as they were offered, and did what he
thought was his best to mend and maintain his relationship with
Samantha, even buying tickets to a concert he didn't anticipate
liking that much, put on by the Russian Patriarchate Choir of Moscow.


"Interestingly, after we'd finally split, I was with
Samantha and we were sitting in what was then just her house, and she
said, 'You know what, Brian? I think you're as attracted to
men as you are to women.' I was really stung by that one. It
wasn't the gay thing. It was more, 'We've been together
27 years, and you don't know me after all this time?' That
aspect of it was incredibly hurtful."

I'd known Ward (though, admittedly, less well than even
Samantha knew him) for more than a decade; in high school I'd been
friends with his son, Adam, and had spent many weekday afternoons in the
early 2000s at the Wards' house playing Mario Kart. Ward was, as I
remember him, the Somewhat Eccentric Friend's Dad, who unlocked the
front door for me, still in his bathrobe at four p.m., made a customary
quip about not listening too closely to any teachers, and then went back
upstairs to his studio, his bathrobe flapping such that it was apparent
he was wearing nothing underneath it.

In the summer of 2012, after he and Samantha had divorced, we found
ourselves sharing residence in a Kenwood duplex that belonged to my
father's ex-boyfriend. My side of the story goes like this: After
three years in New York during which I'd become increasingly lonely
and broke, I'd decided to retreat back home to the Midwest. (While
I'd heard rumors that isolation and poverty could be terrific
muses, I'd personally found very little inspiration in them.) Until
I found my own place I was staying for free with my father's ex,
who lived alone in a large chic house and whom I'd always gotten
along with.

I lived on the second floor, Ward on the first, but we would be
here together only briefly; he was soon going to Kenya, possibly for
good. Irreverent, sexual, depressed, intelligent, accomplished: Ward fit
exactly the mold I'd imagined for so long of what an artist was,
what I wanted to be, and in the weeks before his departure I spent as
much time with him as I could. My admission fee to conversation was a
six-pack of local beer and, occasionally, a joint. Sometimes, although
he didn't know it, I would turn on the tape recorder I'd
concealed in my pants pocket. After we finished the beer, he would open
up a bottle of wine, and then another, and we would sit in his living
room as the duplex's owner (my roommate, of sorts) ran his
dishwasher upstairs (we could hear its gushings and swirlings through
the ceiling), and the neighbors let out their dog to pee for the last
time of the night, and Kenwood's residents obscured themselves
behind their blinds, curtains, and drapes. After a certain point Ward
would begin to drink from my wineglass as often as his own, confusing
whose was whose. The transcripts from these evenings I kept on my
computer in a file labeled "Advice."

Mark Stein, who owned the duplex, was a lawyer in his mid-50s who,
because of some recent professional success, had a surfeit of disposable
income. Lately he'd begun collecting art (and also horses). His
home resembled a museum gallery, white-walled and softly lit; one might
be inclined to pace through it slowly, with a finger on one's chin,
appreciating the works that hang throughout the house by Larry Rivers,
David Hockney, Zak Smith, and an etched self-portrait by Rembrandt.
Preferably one would do his appreciating with a glass of good wine in
hand, and Stein is quick to oblige.

At the time I moved in, he was developing a strategy to politely
evict Ward. After a year of living above him, Stein was now irritated
thoroughly by all the noises that seeped up through the inadequately
insulated floor: the books-on-tape Ward listened to late at night at
thumping volumes; the coital sounds of humping emitted mostly by his
girlfriend--a 26-year-old art student who did palm readings at a gay
nightclub Downtown; the violent electric-piano-playing that followed the
sex; and, sometimes, the surprisingly loud sobbing Ward succumbed to
after his girlfriend had left, unwilling or unable--she was married--to
spend the night with him. Stein had a grievance, too, against the
cigarettes and weed Ward smoked and thought he was secretive about;
Stein just generally disliked the idea of having someone so
irresponsibly hedonistic yet so depressed living right beneath him.
He'd had enough.

But Stein believed himself in a dilemma: he was friends with
Ward--they'd met through Arnold Greenblatt, whom Stein had played
chess with since middle school--and didn't want to jeopardize their
friendship by too abruptly kicking him out. If he could manage it, he
wanted to persuade Ward to leave of his own accord and had, the previous
winter, kept the downstairs' radiators (which were controlled via
an upstairs thermostat) at lukewarm temperatures, and he tossed away the
occasional piece of Ward's important-looking mail. But it was
evident, too, that Stein actually liked to complain about Ward and his
noises--that is, Stein appeared to enjoy being able to say he was
helping out a talented and sought-after artist, whose art now depended
on his charity. (My father had warned me that Stein sought out
relationships where he could be in absolute control, and it seemed true:
He, Stein, couldn't quite conceal the pleasure he took in helping
me and Ward out; generally he came off as beseechingly abrasive, a rough
sponge that left more grime than it cleared away.)

Whatever his decision, any booting out that Stein wanted to effect
would have to wait at least a couple weeks, as he'd organized a
dinner in his home to introduce Ward to the director of a local gallery
who, Stein thought, might be interested in showing a series of drawings
Ward had done as an adolescent, and which Stein considered somewhat

Stein enumerated his many complex grievances to me as we played
cribbage one recent evening in his kitchen.

"I don't know what to do," he said. "The guy is
clearly bipolar. He has no control over himself. It's scary,
actually. If his girlfriend doesn't call him back after about
thirty seconds, he's in despair. He turns out all the lights and
grabs a bottle. But once the phone rings you can hear him whistling up
through the floor."

A talented cribbage player, he was inscrutable during the pegging
round; one could never guess what cards he was holding. Balding
slightly, his forehead figured as the most prominent feature of his
face: it was absolutely smooth, like a tightly tucked bed sheet, as if
he'd never once wrinkled his brow in disapproval, worry, or
despair. Yet his forehead had the quality of having been ironed--that
is, it was apparent a great deal of hidden effort went into his equable
facade. When one spends time with Stein--when one lives in his guest
room, for example--it doesn't take long to realize he is a man
easily irritated, but doesn't like this characteristic to be made
visible. Only through deliberate effort was he able to keep latent this
part of his personality.

"You played that hand wrong," he said now, instructing
me, as he gathered the cards to shuffle them, that I shouldn't have
dropped face cards into my own crib.

I looked forward to finding my own apartment.

As he dealt the next hand we heard, for the second time that
evening, as Brian Ward's girlfriend began to climax--a long process
that we knew wouldn't conclude until the house started slightly to
vibrate, like a plucked string. We looked up from our cards and laughed.

"He's such an exhibitionist," Stein said. Then,
gazing down at his hand: "I'm sorry for that."

After about five minutes the moaning and periodic shrieking became
less amusing, and we moved our cribbage game out to the porch. But here
the sound was, if anything, clearer; Minneapolis was experiencing an
extended streak of warm late-summer days, and Ward had left open his
bedroom window, which was directly below Stein's porch. We wandered
through the house, I holding the cribbage board and cards, Stein holding
our wineglasses, as if we might find a spot where the signals
Ward's girlfriend emitted would, like a cell phone, hit a dead

I've always been a little more embarrassed about sex than I
pretend to be. And this has always indicated to me that in some
fundamental way I haven't grown fully up. Talking even with close
friends about sex, I'll catch myself exaggerating, lying, bragging,
but in a way so that everyone knows I'm not quite telling straight
truths; it's a bit like putting a band-aid on regular skin in order
to make people think there's a bruise there. (In Stein's house
I tripped over the edge of a thick Persian carpet; the deck of cards
scattered to the floor.) Probably this is a matter of shame, which is
one of my governing forces: sender of blood to my cheeks and sweat to my
brow. Shame to me is palpable, as if the serpent has only just left the
scene; I can still taste the apple distinctly. (I knelt down to gather
the cards together; the floor throbbed slightly as I touched it.)
I'm sure this owes, in some way, to my father's homosexuality.
He came out when I was 14, and with this statement now comes a series of
snapshot recollections: the pink feather boa he bought for his first
Pride parade; hanging out with him and Stein at our family cabin, none
of us wearing shirts; the app for a gay dating site I found on his iPad
when I returned from New York, which immediately nullified any chance
I'd be able to tolerate living with him. Yes, I'm ashamed of
my father's sexuality--I make this discovery about once every three
years, I should mention, though it always seems newly revelatory--and
it's made me, I'm pretty sure, ashamed of my own sexuality,
and also of its extension: sex. I'm ashamed of my dad's and
Stein's and Ward's easy public expression of their masculine
inclinations, but also jealous. (Finally--why hadn't we thought of
it before?--Stein turned on his stereo, and we settled back in the
kitchen to finish the game.) The question I'd always wanted an
answer to is, how does one become like Ward? To become unashamed? Should
one become unashamed? I was ashamed of my father, but admired Ward, and
it all boiled down to sex. Listening to Ward fuck--for me it was a
complex experience.

"It isn't healthy," Stein said. "This girl of
his--it's all because he feels the horizon looming. We've
talked about it. His end is drawing near and the violins are
crescendoing and so on and he needs to prove he can still do all this
sex stuff. I feel bad for the guy." He tapped the deck on the
counter to straighten its edges. "But I still have to give him his
walking papers."

Midway through the game, we heard the back door open and shut, and
the now-familiar sedan parked in the driveway behind Ward's new
motorcycle started its engine. A moment after that, we heard, through
Stein's floors, the opening chords of a Beethoven sonata; Stein
switched off his stereo so we could listen. ("He's actually
quite good," Stein said.) After Ward had finished playing--he cut
off halfway through the piece--we heard a strange, angry yelling, then
the sound of glass shattering, the sound of a broom, then the sound of
sobs. Stein and I, upstairs, were left to our own interpretations.

"It's fascinating how sexuality is mixed up with
aesthetic impulses," Ward said on one of the evenings I met with
him. "This might be somewhat indelicate but, when you create a
woman's orgasm, it's like making art. It is. You're
taking all her sensibilities and considerations, and you synthesize them
into an idea of what this person's about, and then you make it
physical. I have to say, it's like making pictures. I watch her
orgasm like I watch Mount St. Helen go off--it's this awesome
thing. I think it's quite remarkable, all the creative energy that
goes into creating a woman's orgasm.

"But if the woman doesn't have an orgasm," he went
on, "then there's some sort of disconnect. And that as a
metaphor for art, is like when a picture doesn't work. It's
the same problem. Desire is not simple; desire is complex: it's
expectation, rejection, experience--all of it. They all need to mesh.
And when you mature as an artist, that's what happens: all these
things come together. And the weird thing is that you get to be a better
lover as you're less able to be a lover. But finally you're
able to reach this point where you're producing a movement, and
you're also feeling that movement at the same time; you can feel
what you're doing to her, what effect it's having. When
you're doing a drawing, and you're doing a gesture of a
character, you have to feel that gesture"--here Ward pawed his
hand, all its fingertips charcoaled black, in the air--"you
don't just draw it, you feel it. You absolutely feel it."

Physically Ward had diminished since the days I'd played video
games with his son. As he sat on his sofa after we'd finished
eating, he seemed sometimes to collapse into himself. The more he drank,
the smaller he became: his shoulders drew nearer each other, his neck
shortened--with his sparse red hair he looked like an imp. His face
puckered and twisted so that his eyes were slits, his cheeks glowed red
with booze. He'd been speaking for 15 minutes about the
relationship between art and sex, and now the conversation pivoted. He
began to consider the relationship between art and pathology; covertly,
I checked to make sure my tape recorder was still on.

"I always felt there's this pervasive notion that art is
wholesome," he said. "It's almost like, art is good for
you, and there's this, like, community obligation to involve
yourself in the arts and it's--I've never been comfortable
with that idea. My example is Lolita. I always think of Lolita as
Humbert's muse. And basically, the muse: he wants to have it, and
to hold it, but it's wrong. She's this 12-year-or however-old
girl. And it's your job, the artist's job, to keep under wraps
for as long as you can just what that muse is. You can't let anyone
know what's driving you, this poisonous thing.

"But having that poison is absolutely necessary," he went
on. "And the poison has to find its way out of you. Everyone has
this little criminal shit inside themselves. But art isn't the only
thing it comes out as. It can leech out of you as aggression sometimes,
or anger, but the best is when you can make it art. For example, if you
feel somehow inadequate, that can be expressed with extreme creativity.
It's like, 'Oh, that's how I am? I'll show you
that's not how I am.' It's a fuck-you. A fuck-you can be
very useful. It feels good. 'I'm not going to accept what you
say--fuck you.' And that sense of defiance can be really
powerful." As he thrust his arm forward with each fuck-you, Malbec
spilled out of his glass, to the floor, and he wiped it with his sock.
"Indignation is really fertile, wonderful. Condescension is. All
these things you normally think of as negative things, if they're
moderated by a humane sensibility, they can be really powerful."

He attempted to retrieve the wine bottle from the floor, but it was
out of his arm's reach. So Ward knelt on the ground and crawled the
short distance to the bottle, then refilled our glasses.

"You have to occasionally release the poison. Revel in it.
It's a visceral force. Everything gets going. All the rules have
been suspended. Art doesn't form around nice things. It's not
ethical. It's not moral. Art," he said, still crawling on the
ground, back toward his seat, "forms around nasty things."

Before going upstairs one evening, Ward finished the bottle of wine
we'd had half of the night before, and took two or three hits from
the pipe I'd packed, but still he couldn't calm down. In front
of the mirror he made sure his lower lip wasn't smudged with
sediment, and fixed what remained of his hair so it lay flat against his
scalp. He was agitated, a particular combination of nervousness and
anger. Tonight Thomas Anderson, the director of Franklin
ArtWorks--Minneapolis's sole independent art gallery that had any
sort of national prestige--was over at Mark Stein's for dinner, and
Ward had selected 40 or so of what he considered his best Harold
drawings to show him, in hopes of securing an exhibition later in the
year. Also, earlier in the day, Ward had learned his ex-wife, Samantha,
had begun to date a wealthy 74-year-old, had intuited they'd
probably somehow managed to start sleeping together, and he'd been
overcome with a burning sense of despair at the finality of his divorce.
He noticed that his shirt buttons were misaligned--he was wearing a
silky, slippery-looking, black button-down--and he redid them, took one
more hit from his pipe, and then headed up to Stein's.

A small group of good-smelling, casually well-dressed men
congregated in the kitchen, and Ward lifted his eyebrows at them and
shook their hands. The weed had settled him somewhat, and he was happy,
after the initial greetings, to let the room's conversation float
away from him.

Anderson was speaking about his gallery's upcoming
show--something that involved a 1940s movie projector, a fog machine,
mirrors, and a series of cameras that would produce and project new
images throughout the show's run. During his adolescence, Anderson
had suffered cancer of the pituitary gland and so, now in his mid-40s,
he still had the countenance and build of a 14-year-old boy--and some of
their preferences: he was a great fan of "Family Guy" and
could quote at length from "The Simpsons." But he was known as
a shrewd evaluator of art, and in the last few years had granted solo
shows to several artists who'd gone on to international renown, a
couple of whom had recently been awarded MacArthur "Genius"

"It's really a neat-o show," he was saying.
"I'm so excited about it. And you and you and you should all

My father, who used to date Anderson, nodded and asked when the
opening was. Also in attendance was Adam Ward, Brian's son, who
wasn't very thrilled to be there; I'd told him it was a dinner
party, but hadn't mentioned it had anything to do with his
father's work. Adam--a web designer with plastic-framed glasses and
a predilection for plain black t-shirts--was a bit uncomfortable around
his dad, and had been since the divorce. I suspect this was because,
whenever they spoke on the phone, Ward never failed to gush about his
new girlfriend. Adam preferred not to hear anything about his
father's personal life, and so preferred not to be around his
father. But one could sense that Brian wanted his son's approval,
wanted his son to be impressed by how well he was doing, and didn't
know what to make of Adam's avoidance. When Ward had come upstairs,
I'd noticed the awkward, almost competitive way they'd shaken

Stein served Cakebread chardonnay, potato chips, and undercooked
chicken kebabs that he kept stealing from our plates and returning to
the grill throughout the meal. He kept asking everyone if everything was
okay, and because of the frantic way he asked, no one was willing to say
anything but yes.

After dinner, the party moved downstairs for the Harold viewing and
we arranged ourselves on the chairs and sofa around Ward's TV. It
seemed as if he'd made an effort to clean his flat but hadn't
quite succeeded, or maybe didn't know how; everything (magazines,
albums, cigarette butts, pens, pencils, used tissues or napkins,
electrical cords, receipts, Junior Mints) was still out, but now stacked
in teetering piles. Empty wine bottles were arranged neatly on the floor
in the corner of the room. Beside me, on the ground, was a circular
wooden earring that I assumed belonged to Ward's girlfriend.
Wanting Adam to be no more uncomfortable than necessary, I left it where
it was, covering it with my shoe.

We drank wine that Stein had insisted on bringing downstairs, and
spoke about this and that until Stein, impatience sneaking through his
pleases and ahems, reminded Ward that we were here to see his
illustrations. Ward gave an introduction that explained Harold and his
origins, directing his words at Anderson, his eyes at the ground.

Many of the slides, of course, concerned Ward's adolescent
feelings about women, which seemed to hold true now, some forty years
later. Casually he mentioned that he'd never believed in marriage,
and couldn't believe he'd ended up as someone's husband
for three decades, as he paused on a slide of Harold in a mason jar.
Adam crossed his legs and then uncrossed them. Ward showed us drawings
concerning Harold on a first date, Harold falling in love with several
women at once, Harold fighting with his girlfriend, and Adam sipped from
his wine and looked at his watch.


When the viewing had finished, Adam said he had two loads of
laundry to do, and promptly took off. His departure birthed a long,
possibly infinite, silence that everyone but Ward seemed sensitive to.
Later, a month before Ward departed for Africa for the third and
possibly final time, Adam would confront his father and say he believed
he was acting irresponsibly, that he was neglecting any duties or
maturity that was required of him, leaving Adam to take care of his
mother in a situation that Ward had not only created, but continually
exacerbated. In response, Adam told me, his father had remained mostly
silent, saying yeah, okay, he understood, but was clearly focused on
pursuing things that made him, to the detriment of others, happy.

Now, in the duplex, Anderson mentioned some pleasant and
non-committal things about the illustrations, but was preparing his exit
as well. "I love how Harold is a bit like Chaplain," he said.
"He's a wonderful character. I think this is really
potent." He was standing up, and had soon backed his way out into
the hallway near the front door. "I've never actually seen
anything like this," he said, tying his shoes. "It's
just, yeah. Very interesting stuff." He had trouble knotting one of
his Doc Martens, so he left with the shoe still unlaced.

Ward didn't seem to register this evasion, either. Stein went
upstairs, and my father and I sat with Ward for half an hour, finishing
a bottle of wine. My dad asked what Ward wanted to do with the
illustrations, and Ward said he was hoping to get them published as a
book. My dad said he thought that sounded like a terrific idea, that it
was much more fitting for the material than a gallery show. Like Stein,
my dad is an attorney, but he recently told me that if he'd had the
courage he would've been a poet. It makes sense; he has a tendency
to overanalyze and overappreciate things, as if only he can discern an
object's true meaning (not that poets necessarily do this, just
that these tendencies explain why my father believes he should have been
one). "In a book," he went on, "everyone will get to
interpret Harold for himself. He'll take on this universality,
which is actually kind of cool. A sort of Rorschachian thing, but not so
mushy." Ward either nodded in agreement or to a rhythm that was
playing exclusively inside his head.

We--my father and I--picked up the wine bottles from around
Ward's apartment and set them in the recycling, looked at each
other briefly, then took the recycling outside. My dad rinsed a couple
plates that were evidently from sometime earlier in the year and put
them in the dishwasher. I picked up the earring from the ground and
handed it to Brian--"I've been looking for this!" he
said, becoming animated at the memento of his girlfriend--and then I
headed upstairs to Stein's house, where I'd soon enter into an
easy sleep, one uncharacteristically unblemished by noises coming up
from below.


In the summer of 2011, Ward was sent to Kenya to teach illustration
at a week-long camp sponsored by the Friends of Ngong Road, a non-profit
dedicated to educating impoverished youth. He lectured to a group of
children between the ages of 10 and 16 on how to draw the arrangements
of flowers and cardboard boxes he'd set up in the middle of a
classroom. By all accounts (including his own) he was a listless,
ineffective instructor. Midway through the week one of the camp's
administrators berated him for his lack of effort.

While volunteering for the Ngong Road camp was a good way to get a
free airplane ticket, Ward's motivations for going to Kenya were a
bit less wholesome than just to teach art to unprivileged kids. Instead,
he wanted to embark on that westerner's dream safari: a Search For
African Authenticity--or, as Ward put it, "to see if a clueless
mzungu could put his ear to the ground and hear the ticking of
Africa's beating heart."

He delayed his flight home and asked one of the camp counselors
he'd befriended to show him around the continent. Cyprian Ontita
was a jolly 28-year-old who was never without a pair of aviator
sunglasses pushed up on his forehead. He worked winters in Dubai in the
service industry, and, fluent in seven languages, knew how to satisfy
the various wants of a wide range of people. Ward offered him food,
lodging, and spending money if Cyprian would serve as his bodyguard and
guide. They spent six weeks traveling through eastern Africa, Ward
forever carrying his tacklebox art kit by its handle. They visited
Cyprian's home village, Nyamarambe, near the Tanzanian border, and
bestowed upon Cyprian's grandmother the traditional, coveted gift
of Coca-Cola. They watched in Zanzibar as an entire village community
contributed to pay the hospital bills of a child sick with malaria. In
Rwanda they visited the memorial to the Civil War, standing on ground
where 300,000 corpses were buried en masse, and where Ward, despite his
cynicism about African "Misery Tours," was moved. On a bus
ride to Uganda he watched, amused, as a trio of grifters stole the
contents of a woman's purse; he exited the bus minus his camera,
and felt included in the fray. There was a directness to Africa--an
openness of everything: the thievery, the joy, the death--that
hadn't yet been fig-leafed into propriety. The day-to-day
experience of being alive was nearer the surface there than back
home--indeed, it all seemed very Authentic--and Ward calculated that, if
he lived modestly, he could stay forever.

One evening in Mark Stein's duplex, after Ward had refilled
our wineglasses for the third or fourth time and we'd smoked a
bowl, he asked if I wanted to see the women in Africa who'd modeled
for him. "You've got to," he said. "Come on."

His workroom had a drawing desk, rolls of drafting paper, and a
computer with two screens. He turned on one of the monitors and squinted
at it, trying to find the proper file, as I checked to make sure my tape
recorder hadn't run out of batteries. In the open now, I set it
down. His mouse, I saw, was stained with charcoal.

"Ah, here we go," he said. An image of a topless young
black woman wearing a baseball hat and smiling came on screen.
"She's just phenomenal. I met her at a club, and we hung
around for awhile." He looked up a moment. "They're
really sweet, unbelievably charming people. And incredibly lovely, too.
And it turned out to be really earth-shakingly interesting. I felt
incredible compassion for these women. And the sex was nifty, but it
wasn't the most exciting thing. There wasn't a single one that
I didn't feel some kind of an emotional response to. I'm sure
that could sound like a rationalization, but I was absolutely intrigued
by them."

He clicked his mouse--charcoal dust puffed up off it--and continued
the slide show. "They were all over 20," he assured me, then
changed the picture: a nude woman standing on a balcony, looking out,
her buttocks and shoulderblades shining in the camera's flash, the
background a nothing of night. "She had a terrific body. Her dad
was Kenyan, and her mother was Rwandan, and she spoke perfect Rwandan,
perfect English, perfect Swahili. I met her at a club, and we hung
around for a week or so." He paused again to look at me--"I
know it's indelicate to say these things, but there they
are"--and then changed to the next picture. "She had polio
when she was younger, and had one finger that was really long, and a
strangely shaped hand, and had an extremely deep deep deep deep voice. I
paid her twenty bucks." "For Cyprian, I basically paid for his
hotel and food, and gave him a bit of cash. For models, I usually gave
them twenty bucks, and if they stayed the night, I'd give them
another twenty. They basically understood that I wasn't going to be
sticking around, that I wasn't rich or powerful, so there
wasn't much I could do for them. But they also knew there was a
certain kind of exchange that went on. And it wasn't like hiring
hookers; it was like engaging somebody's companionship. That
distinction would escape a lot of people, and maybe it isn't even a
distinction." A girl, nude, reclined on her side and looking behind
her toward the camera in the classic odalisque pose. "She's so
sensual. I was constantly in a state of awe at the sensuality of the
people there." He clicked the mouse. "Her, I lost her phone
number, and I was desperate to find it again, but I couldn't.
I'd met her at a club." "This guy was named Lil'
Wayne, and he drove a cab, and he literally tweezered every molecule of
dirt out of it. It was the cleanest cab. And we told him we were looking
for girls, and he showed up with these girls here. It was an absolute
blast. He had the whole ghetto grease; he was the king of the ghetto. He
was a black belt in karate. The whole thing was like a fantasy."
"This was the most beautiful woman I saw in Africa. She was a
Rwandan Tutsi. Isn't she something? She's like a Vogue model.
She's just so sensual." "Between the two of them, they
were such beautiful, lovely women. This is at a club."
"Paola." "This was actually my favorite model.
There's something about the way she held herself that was
absolutely--I got so many great drawings from her." "This is
my best girl. Her name means 'luck.' She had a six-year-old
kid." "If that isn't the profile of an African
woman." "It was Ramadan, and so everything's really
fucked up. I got a ticket for holding her hand in public. I paid twenty
bucks. The guy, our driver, was really kind of put off by the fact that
I'd touch a woman in public." "And I got back to
Minneapolis and people were saying I just went on a pussy safari. People
on these non-profit arts foundations in Minneapolis. I said look, I
didn't know why I was going there exactly, and I'm not exactly
sure what it means, what I did there, but whatever it was, I have
absolutely no apologies for it. And I won't have any apologies to
make for this next trip." "In Africa they call it walking on
stones, having unprotected sex." "You're more at risk for
malaria, I think."

In preparation for his next visit to Kenya, which will be in
January 2013, Ward has bought a house just outside of Nairobi, on a plot
of land large enough to build a second house, where he plans to install
Cyprian, who will take care of the property whenever Ward is
away--though Ward is considering staying permanently. He's taken
two semesters of Swahili at the University of Minnesota and deactivated
his account with He's moved his furniture and
collections of unsold drawings and paintings to a suburban storage
space, and prepared his final lessons for the class he teaches at the
White Bear Center for the Arts.

Mark Stein is ambivalent about his tenant's departure--worried
for Ward's well-being, but nevertheless relieved to have him out of
the house. Adam is quiet on the subject of his dad's newfound
obsession with Africa. Maybe the strangest thing--or maybe it's not
strange at all--is that Ward is aware of the absurdity inherent in
renouncing, at the age of 61, all that is familiar. He acknowledges that
he might regret leaving Minneapolis, his son, his friends, his ex-wife;
he's already intimated that he misses Samantha pointedly, palpably.
So why go?

"A friend told me," he said, "that it seems to him
life takes a turn after 60: you either narrow your perspective or pry
yourself open to new experiences. I told him he needed to parse his
terms a little more precisely, because I could imagine circumstances
where one could appear to implode socially, but expand personally.
Besides, I said, new experiences don't necessarily broaden

"Which is another way of saying that I don't think
schlepping off to Kenya is a brave new experiment," he continued.
"Nor is it Brian Ward on safari for the artistic Holy Grail. And it
isn't even a reptilian appetite to part the generous thighs of the
resident wenches. As an artist you'll find this out sooner or
later--normal people can, in theory, unselfconsciously live, but artists
are in varying degrees stuck with being observers. Of others, but just
as much, if not more so, of themselves. For me, art has always been the
residue of alienation, so Kenya will give me a chance to really wallow
in my otherness."

What Ward said reminded me of one of his Harold line drawings.
Titled "Harold's Problem," it's an image that speaks
not only to the source of his own troubles, past and present, but also
to the source of many peoples' troubles: the mind we can never,
much as we might want to, leave behind.


MAX ROSS'S writing has appeared in American Short Fiction, The
Star Tribune, The Boston Globe, and elsewhere. He is an editor at Open
Letters Monthly.

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