Let me tell you why I like this picture.
I like it because it captures every curious thought I’ve ever had about people I don’t know. I like that you can go back time and again and tell a different story about the scene before you. I like that the people in the picture all look like they would rather be anywhere else but here. I like that the pavement is too big. I like that the cigars cost five cents. I like that the guy serving looks like a sailor and the woman looks like every man’s midnight dream, and we all know she’d walk out on us by six. I like that it looks like life’s tough but here’s some kind of light. I like the night-shut street and the blankness of the city. I like that it looks real but can only be fake. I like how the hunched over man looks beaten sometimes and sometimes like he’s plotting his next move. I like that you can play jazz to it and think about Philip Marlowe stories. I like that it’s universal and specific. I like that I’ve been in late night places and hunched over a drink and wondered what the fuck was going on with the world and here’s my painting. I like that you can never get an answer. I like that this is a painting that is universally known but is still art worth appreciating. I like that the Simpsons spoofed it when the Simpsons was still funny. I like the skill that goes into making such simple brush strokes reveal so much yet leave so much hidden. I like how everyone thinks they’re Edward Hopper and yet so few are. I like that I’ve seen it in two different art galleries but the first time I fell for it was on a postcard a few inches high. I like how the story starts again every time you look at it.
That’s why I like it.