At seventy-four years old Close is still mining self-imposed limitations. “Inspiration is for amateurs,” he says. “The rest of us just show up and get to work.” There are portraits in every corner of his studio, hung or propped against the wall, always cropped at the shoulder blades: mosaics, tapestries, photographs and prints of Glass, Kate Moss, Lou Reed, Barack Obama, and most of all, Close himself.
“The worst thing you can do is sing Happy Birthday,” Eastwood says. So on the day he turned eighty-four, he started shooting a movie.
“It is a place where you can be anything. It’s a place where you can say anything, write anything, paint anything.” But not for long.
A few days after the execution date was confirmed, I received a message: Swearingen wanted me to watch him die.
“The idea is immortal, it is without class and it doesn’t care anything about wealth,” he says. ” I could get my horn and play for you, and believe me, I would play something.”
The phone rings. Would I mind if he takes it? His daughter in California is worried about forest fires. “Well how far away is the smoke? I’ll buy you another house if it burns down, honey, OK?”