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Saturday, February 12, 2005


Artsy Fartsy

My wife and I left our apartment early this morning and trekked down to the park to check out the opening of the huge new installation by Christo, The Gates. If you're unfamiliar with this piece, basically Christo and his wife Jean-Claude have placed thousands of plastic arches over the pathways of Central Park, from which are suspended pieces of saffron-colored fabric, which wave beautifully in the wind. Crews have been working for weeks to put the arches up and then, this morning, the fabric was unfurled, arch by arch.

It's an interesting piece and it was nice to be there, along with the thousands of other tourists, many wearing fur coats or sporting BPS (bad plastic surgery), to witness the opening. I was struck, mostly, by the scale of the project. Christo had to coordinate a huge crew to manufacture the arches, to assemble them in the park and to attach the fabric, even before the hours they spent today unfurling.

Last night, we watched a special on Spencer Tunick, the artist who assembles huge crowds of volunteers who strip naked en masse for his photographs. This was another example of the scale of the project and the moment in which it's happening actually being the piece, far more than the pictures that result from it. Say what you want about the quality of the pictures that Tunick exhibits after the fact, but there's meaning to be found from two thousand-plus people disrobing at once.

So I'm thinking about switching careers. I'm thinking maybe large-scale Art Happenings are where I'm meant to be right now. God knows I can't draw. I've got no patience to work with clay, stone or any other sculpting medium. I can't take a picture without my thumb getting in the way of the lens. More traditional "performance art" just makes me think of Darryl Hannah in Legal Eagles, and god knows that's not inspiring. But large-scale Art Happenings? I think I could do those. The only question is what should I try to do first?

The idea that popped into my head right off the bat is a piece called Ass-Cheeks Across America. It's a comment on the celebrity-driven culture of the '80s that gave birth to the miserable failure that was Hands Across America. In my version, we get as many people as possible to line up along a route stretching from Maine to the Florida Keys and drop their trousers. I'm thinking that sticking to the East Coast will increase my chances of getting a solid line from one of our borders to another. The East-West thing those losers tried in the mid-80s was doomed to failure.

Another project that I'd like to tackle is one that I've titled Toilet Paper Congress. In this one, we wrap every member of congress (both houses) in toilet paper. Like The Gates, this isn't a permanent piece, we just have them stay that way for sixteen days. Originally, I thought maybe they could be on display on the Capitol Mall and we could supply raw sewage for the public to throw at them, but then I realized that might make it harder to get them to agree to it, so I scaled it back a bit.

More ambitious is my next project, The Sloppy Joe Nation, in which we get every single household in the country to prepare a meal of Sloppy Joes and potato chips at exactly the same time. I was thinking I could get sponsorship from Manwich for this one. Think of the sense of community that might engender: every person in America sharing an experience at the same time. That's something that hasn't happened since the M*A*S*H finale.

The sheer logistics of that are a bit much, though, so I tried to think of something almost as grand, but on a slightly smaller scale. I liked the idea of corporate sponsorship, though, which is what led me to think of Lake Erie is Jell-O. In this one, we dump about four trillion packets of the instant gelatin into my favorite Great Lake, forming a dessert that could feed the entire hemisphere. The Jell-O would be so large that we could have miles-square sections with different fruits suspended in it, which would boost the nutritional value.

As these works increase my fame and more and more people realize how hip it is to participate in my Happenings, my goal is to get the Pontiff to agree to my ultimate project: Pope Surf. In this one, we fill a football stadium with people, wall-to-wall, not a gap of more than a few inches. Then, with thrash-metal blaring from speakers, we get John Paul II to jump into the crowd and be passed from one end of the stadium to the other. We make sure that everyone knows that they have to be gentle with the Pope, I mean, he's an old guy. I think he'd dig it.

So that's it. I'm going to give up writing and take the art world by storm.

Mr. Artsy Fartsy:

It's JEANNE-CLAUDE AND CHRISTO. Not the artist, Christo and his wife, Jeanne-Claude. No need to be sexist, funny man.

Check 'em out, here:

Oh, and, if you change it to Veggie Burgers and some other non-horse hoof dessert, I'm game.

--Your wife.
Who are you, Yoko Ono?
(by the way, your wife is funny)
You're hilarious!
Ah M*A*S*H. I watched the Happy Days Reunion last night and actually cried at certain parts.

Funny the things that people choose to comment on eh?

Oh yes, I break up the whole oreo cookie and mush it into the rest of the ice-cream. I just feel better for knowing I'd gotten my money's worth.

Speaking of which, I still have some left.

See ya.
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