The Art Scene

Sometime this year. The Posh Gallery, New York City. A man in his mid-thirties studies a piece on the wall. One of the Wall Street nouveau-riche, he looks to diversify his portfolio into art. The gallery owner approaches and stands beside him.

“A very good piece, don’t you think?” the owner comments. “A. Non-Y-Mous is one of our most popular artists.”

“Just what is it?” Nouveau-riche shares a confused look with Mr. Gallery.

“Oh, it is his latest.”

“But what is that thing. I mean, do you call it a thingamajig.”

“Actually it’s called ‘A Whatchamacallit’.” Gallery is proud to represent one of the up-and-comers of the current art scene. “It’s only one million dollars.”

“You mean you actually expect someone to pay a million bucks for that?”

“Oh, it was one hundred grand three days ago. The artist’s name is rising that fast. Much faster than Andy Warhol in his prime.”

The tailored suit is impressed but not impressed enough to bite the offer being handed him. “Well, it looks like a piece of shit to me.”

“No, sir. ‘Piece of Shit’ was A.Non-Y-Mous’ previous work. It sold for two million at auction.”

Nouveau shakes his head. He can’t believe what he is hearing. “And I thought Wall Street was one big scam.”

Gallery ignores the scam comment.”I can almost guarantee it will be up to four million by the end of the year.”

“This-this whatchamacallit looks like something I saw down the street.” The Wall Streeter frowns.

“That is why it is such an important work. It captures the essence of contemporary society. It has such panache. Yet it doesn’t force itself upon you with its dash of élan. Don’t you think?”

“I’m not so sure. When I’ve think of art, I think of Rembrandt, Van Gogh, Cezanne, Picasso.”

The owner waves away the thought. “Oh, sir, they are so passé. So démodé. So vieux jeu. No, this artist is so, how shall we say it. So current. One of the advanced cohort of a coming revolution in art.”

“You say one million?” The man is beginning to take the bait.

“Yes, sir. And I can assure you the piece will impress your colleagues. They will see that you are an up-and-coming collector. You are participating in something unique.”

“I am not so sure my wife will like it. Her snotty Ivy League friends are hard to impress.”

Gallery patiently instructs, “Oh, they will be very impressed. They will see you for the man of taste you are. And the benefit of this piece. It will fit in with any décor. Just look at the colors.”

“You think so?” Mr. Potential Customer takes a deep breath. “I would like to get in with that Fifth Avenue crowd she travels with.”

“Then this is just the thing. It is small enough to fit into the elevator of your apartment building but large enough to impress.”

The Wall Streeter decides. “Well, I suppose if one must, one must. I will take it. Can you have it delivered?”

“Yes, sir. Would tomorrow afternoon be good?”

“It will.” The buyer pays for the piece. “It’s for my wife’s birthday, you know.”

“She is indeed a fortunate woman to have such a discriminating husband.”

“Well, I don’t know about that.”

“Believe me, she will love the piece. The wives always do.”

“I hope you are right.”

The Wall Streeter walks out of the gallery, shaking his head and muttering, “Still looks like a piece of shit to me.”

The owner uncrosses his fingers and says under his breath, “P. T. was right. There is one born every minute.” Then he starts to hum, “Another one bites the dust.”

A Word from the Sponsor

I have been a long time graduate of the School of Hard Knocks and I majored in smartass. As you have may or may not have read in my posts here on Uncle Bardie’s Stories & Such, there isn’t much I don’t find hilarious. These days either you find things a hoot or you run around pissing everybody off with your smoke and mirrors, or your anger. Since I am no Alice Cooper, I much prefer the hoot filosofy. Through these posts, I try to share some of that hilarity with you, my readers.

If you have been offended by some of my bombast here, that could very well be a good thing. I know my yard has taken its yardness seriously. It’s still mad at me for the blog I did about its desire for a Facebook page. Says I made a darn fool of it. I may just never live that one down. But I don’t try to hit below the belt with your hands tied behind you. That’s not fair, even in the land of the free and the home of the brave. I don’t try to pull the People of Walmart guys thing and make fun of people in a way that is cruel and unusual punishment. Seems to me that those guys are getting their fun from sheer meanness. Free speech doesn’t mean you have to be rude.

I take my fun seriously. And my heroes are Monty Python, Dorothy Parker, Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert. I don’t think I could pick a better class of peeps to admire. Stir a little Mark Twain in there and you get an idea of what part of town I want to take these little treasures to. I do try to listen to the muse when she comes down off her pedestal every now and then and gives me a swift kick in the butt. After I get over the ouching, I find the inspiration has been very helpful.

These days I wish we had more compassion for each other. More tolerance too. There seems to be way too much yelling, screaming and name-calling, and very little listening. Anger seems to be the word for the day. We see or hear something on the world wide web or TV and immediately we jump to conclusions. We’ve become like the kid who is cussing out his parents when he doesn’t get his way. We all have seen that kid and we all hate what he is doing. Somebody needs to smack the kid on his bottom to get his attention, then tell him that nobody gets their way one hundred percent of the time. I know I certainly don’t. If I come out even I figure I have won my share of the goodies. You win a little, you lose a little and that is a good thing. And I take my share of the responsibility for the discord.

As a closing thought, I would like to share this little haiku with you. Seems to have some deep meaning but I sure can’t figure out what it is.

A river of birds

splat on a lot of houses

as they flew over

Illegal Aliens

Know what we here in the South call Yankees? Illiegal aliens. And they keep multiplying like there’s no tomorrow. We just can’t keep them out. Now theoretically they say I don’t live in the South since I abide in Florida. But, if y’all check your history of that war, y’all will see which side of the burger Florida was on.

It all started with the War of Northern Aggression. You know the one. It’s the one where General Lee whupped up on them Yankees good. But when you have more money than God, the way the Yankees did, you can spend the other guy back into the Outback. The buck had to stop somewhere. Unfortunately it stopped at Appomattox.

Then we put up a fence to keep the Yankees out, and it was a darn good fence too. Put out border patrols. Electrified that fence we called the Mason-Dixon line. And what do you know. It worked for ’bout fifteen minutes. Just like that Maginot line that was s’posed to keep out them Nazis. When you match that up again’ a hundred fifty years since that war, that comes out as…yep, you got it. It comes out no time. Them Yankees just kept busting their way through. In the beginning, we called them Carpetbaggers. But they were still illegal aliens if you ask me.

Then what did them Yankees do? They came down here and stole our Holy Book. I’m talking Gone With the Wind here. They took it off to Hollywood and made a movie out of it, denigrating its wisdom into three quotes: “Lawzy, we got to have a doctor. I don’t know nothin’ ’bout birthin’ babies.” “Frankly I don’t give a damn.” And the greatest of them all, “Tomorrow is another day for the vahpors.” You’d think Southerners would get some work out of that. No way.

I mean there were actresses from the South who could have done the Miss Scarlet role hands down. Actresses like Ava Gardner (she’s young but she could’ve done it), Ginger Rogers, Joan Crawford and Jane Wyman. I’m sure any o’ them would have made themselves available if asked. And I know they could all have done proper y’alls.

So who did they choose for the main one? The one we thought was giving all them Yankees the what-fer just with her attitude? Who gets to be the best known of all Southern aristocrats, Miss Scarlet her own self, in charge of the best known Southern plantation of all time, Tara? Vivien Leigh, that’s who? She wasn’t even a Yankee. She’s from England.

And who did they get to play them other big time Southern roles? Yep, you got that straight. Them English. They say the English do y’alls much better than those o’ us below the Mason-Dixon. They even got Superman to play a Southern gentleman, and that was just a minor job. I’m talking George Reeves from Pasadena, California here.Geez, they got a lot of darn gall.It’s enough to make a Southerner mad as a nest of hornets.

To add insult to injury who do they get to play Mr. Fancy Pants Rhett Butler. None other than a guy from Ohio. Oh sure all our Southern Belles swooned over him. Even got the vahpors when he appeared on screen. The first time they showed that movie in Atlanta, you wouldn’t believe the fainting. More of them belles fainted that night than girls fainted when the Beatles showed in Shea Stadium. Guess that was the Yankees revenge for Chancellorsville, Bull Run and Fredericksburg. And all those wins when ‘Bama whupped Yankee teams in the Rose Bowl.

Well, I been thinking a lot about this proposition and I think I have come up with a solution. ‘Member the old saying: “If you can’t lick ’em, join ’em.” So how ’bout this? Southerners make a lot of cash for just being Southerners. Turn the whole gosh darned South into a theme park. Seems to have worked for Florida. Down here we welcome the Yankees by the bushel load with open arms. And the Canadians too. We call them snowbirds ’cause they migrate from the cold up-yonders.

If we do what I’m proposing, Southerners can take the Yankees’ money which they will surrender freely ’cause folks in the South do aw-shucks bette’n anybody. And there’ll be a lot to see. They can see General Lee and General Grant shaking hands all friendly like in Virginia. Georgia can have Taraville named after Scarlett’s plantation. Alabama ‘course will have to volunteer never ever to beat another Yankee team ever again. It will be for a good cause. Mississippi, well Mississippi being Mississippi can show them folks why it is the home of the blues. See what I mean.

And does that include Texas? It was a Southern state, you say. Not really. You see, Texas is already a theme park all by its lonesome.

In addition to everything else Southern folk’ll get to wear costumes and play act at who they are not. I think it could be a winner. And the best part is them Yankees will go back home where they belong. Broke. Works real good for Vegas, so why not us?

‘Course they’ll need a visa to c’mon down. But that’s easy enough to fix. They’ll stop at the border. As long as they have a ticket for one of our theme parks for each member of the fam-dam-ily, and five hundred bucks in good gold bullion. None of them Federal Reserve dollars for us. We want cold hearted cash. Then we’ll wave ’em on through with our friendliest “welcome y’all”.

As I say, it’s worked real good for Florida. We even have a state song to go along with our tourist trade. It goes like this:

“Oh, welcome all you folks

From Maine to Alabam

It’s in the state constitution

“Nough sun to go around

‘Cause we’re

Planting tourists

Planting tourists

Planting tourists

In the sand

Gonna rezone the territory

Zone it for coexistence

A bumper crop’s guaranteed

All at the state’s insistence

‘Cause we’re

Planting tourists

Planting tourists

Planting tourists

In the sand

O, the people get thicker

Cars go quicker

Water gets sicker

And the air’s too damn hard to breathe.

‘Cause we’re

Planting tourists

Planting tourists

Planting tourists

In the sand.”

So whadda y’all think?

Love At First Thor

At last Thor had a date. An actual date. It was about time. The other gods all had marriages. So why not Thor?. Even Loki. He had three, no less. And they all knew how marital bliss had straightened the heavenly bad boy out. No more mischievousness. All he needed was a good woman. Oh, sure he played a practical joke from time to time. They were a little harmless fun. Even though he had been behind the skunk that stunk up the great Hall of Valhalla. The stink had been so bad the gods couldn’t gather there for a month.

The Asgardian deities urged Thor to at least date. After all, they thought he would be a good catch. Any single goddess or demi-goddess would be lucky to have him. He had a regular job. He wasn’t so bad on the looks department. He was a real hunk. The only drawback was that he didn’t have a lot upstairs. It wasn’t that he was downright dumb. He wasn’t. He was just a little slow on the uptake. Any girl would be lucky to have him.

There was just one thing. It was that hammer. He just wouldn’t let go of the darn thing. Not even to go to the toilet. It would be like a third wheel tagging along on a date.

So what did Jackie Lynn Tremahorn, of the Florida Tremahorns, see in the big lug? Not much. She really wasn’t interested. She wasn’t interested in dating anybody. But her mother insisted she go out and meet someone. Anyone. Find a nice boy, date a while, get engaged, then married and have the three point four kids that make up the American average. It was the patriotic thing to do. So reluctantly one Saturday night she went to a speed dating event held at the local American Legion Hall.

Now being a Southern girl—we know that because she had three names. Most Southerners have three names for a very practical reason. When we hear our mamas call out our three names, we know she is truly peeved at us. We are in deep doo-doo. Being a Southern belle of a girl, with very traditional values, Jackie Lynn was not interesting in meeting a prospective at a speed dating function. It just wasn’t done. She gave deep thought to feigning the vahpors, but her good friend Pippa Jean would have none of it. “You just gotta go, sweetheart,” she said. “It just won’t do for you to end up an old maid, Jackie Lynn. It just want do.”

Part of Jackie Lynn’s problem was her name. She was named after Jacqueline Kennedy. No matter how much of the old college try she gave it, she was not up to living up to the Jackie Kennedy image. Besides there was no JFK around to sweep her off her feet and off to Camelot and Hyannis Port. There were only Dick Nixons and their five o’clock shadows everywhere her blue eyes looked.

So there she, reluctantly, sat at a small table in the Legion Hall, auditioning candidates for a future Mr. Jackie Lynn, not daring to hope. And none were up to the task. She took one good look at each Nixon. His shifty eyes immediately told her everything she needed to know. She was not up to the guy’s two left feet stepping on her toes on the dance floor.

Just as she was about to give up, Thor sat down in front of her. She first noticed the eyes. He did have nice eyes. She wasn’t sure, but there was enough man there to make her open to some convincing. Put him in a nice suit, give his red hair a cut, trim his red beard some, and he just might do. ‘Course that hammer had to go. You’d think he was married to the darn thing the way he held it up close and personal-like. They could get a dog instead. She always did want a poodle.

“I usually don’t offer,” the words tumbled out of him. “Would you like to feel my hammer?”

Jackie Lynn blushed. “Why, sir, don’t be so forward. A Southern girl just does not feel a man’s hammer. At least, not upon the first meeting.”

“Don’t worry. He doesn’t bite. He’s a perfect gentleman. Just thought you might want to touch him. He’s special. He’s been places. Done things. Mighty things.”

“But, sir, you are being forward. If I wasn’t a lady, I would…well, let’s just say, I would.”

“It’s okay. I’m a god.”

God, what an ego. But it did look like he had the qualities Dorothy Parker wanted in a man when she said, “He must be handsome, ruthless, and stupid.” Could it be? Yes, something spoke to her heart. In a moment of indecision, she decided. It was love at first sight.

The gods, the goddesses from Asgard to Olympus let out a sigh of relief. Finally Thor was going to take the plunge. Before they could shout out Vahalla, the happy couple eloped and were off on their honeymoon to the mystic isle of the west, Avalon, to live happily ever after. At least, until she started complaining about that hammer.

Doodlelboggery

We writers are a peculiar breed. A downright eccentric lot. Many of us live inside our heads, out there in fantasy land where the most interesting things are going on. Which doesn’t make us the most socially adept folks. Get a bunch of us together in a room and we can go one of two ways. Half of us will talk your head off. The other half will go to a corner and observe. It’s not that half are shy. It is just that they are writers. And there seems to be nary a middle ground between the twixt of the two. Some of us will let any ole word flop all over the place like a chicken with his head cut off. Some will make the one hundred yard dash for the word el perfecto. Our desire for literarydom can be the difference between digging for treasure or hunting for the holy grail. Some of us are Indiana Jonesy while some are Kid Galahad. Then there are others who would give anything and everything to be the Muhammad Ali of language. But he earned his heavyweight title and so must we.

When thinking about my own eccentricities, I must admit I have a bit of all of these. There are times when I would prefer the corner while other times when I can be the life of the party. Mostly I like to see words stand up and tap a little Fred Astaire across the room. It is a bit of a disease I call Doodleboggery.

When I first invite a character into a story, it’s no Charlie nor Watt nor Janice for me. I go a little funky and call the character something like Doodlebug whether it be a him or a her. I’ve used Mucker, Willy McWhack,George O’George, Helluvagoy, Puddlewhack, Blowfish, Hermittitus, Actina, Elephantitus just to name a few. Bet you can guess what the last one is like. His ego fills a room so much that the room explodes and I have ka-blooey all over the place. Yuck. Then I have to clean up the mess. I want you to know it isn’t pretty.

I’ve used Expletive Deleted. All that came out of her mouth was a purple so prose I can’t repeat it here. Shortly after she walked on stage, I did an Elmore Leonard to her. She had her little butt kicked to kingdom come and she hasn’t showed up in any story since. Course there’s always the danger that she will return and be a major nuisance. You just never know. Characters have a mind of their own and they can Rasputin all over the place. It took the Russian nobility an amazing amount of effort to kill him off. First they poisoned him, then they stabbed him again and again. But he just wouldn’t die. Then they drowned him. The rumor is that didn’t take either. Some say he’s been seen out in Siberia causing major mischief.

That is what I am afraid of when I think about E.D. Had another character with that name. Just can’t remember what those initials stand for but it’s not Erectile Dysfunction. He had a completely different set of issues. He had a real bad case of the casanova that caused problems with all the ladies in a story called “Church”. A number of the women in that story, including the minister’s wife, showed up pregnant. I gave him the condom lecture but since when do characters listen. Last I saw him he had a husband after him with a shotgun. He was jumping out of a bedroom window in nothing but his altogethers.

Now this eccentricity that I have to suffer through doesn’t stop with names. It has a tendency to propagate into sentences and sometimes whole paragraphs when I am not sure what should be taking place. Some examples: She stood on his lawn and hitchcocked her ex, then she went looking for a place to drop his corpus dilecti into. Of course, this honors the great director Alfred Hitchcock and the next one refers to the director Francis Ford Coppola. He performed the coppola early that day, then he took a ride south to his favorite eatery for some pasta. You can imagine what a character might do if he spielberged across the planet. I am not quite sure but you can imagine.

Here’s some other ones.

He bonnie-and-clyded his way into the liquor store, pulled his gub and demanded a fifth of scotch from the clerk. “Gub” refers to an article called a gun mentioned in the Woody Allen epic, “Take the Money and Run”.

The artist started sloppy but he grew better. Later he found that sloppy was the way to go. The artist in this one could be Jackson Pollack.

He grabbed hold of his life and shook it loose of the blues.

After six months, Perky broke off her romance with Hunkie. It wasn’t that the sex wasn’t peachy keen. It was. Lots of bodice ripping and muscles rippling. She just couldn’t take any more of his love for mirrors.

She’s the Starbucks of my life/I’m the Krispy Kreme of her heart.

She sprawled onto the lawn and kissed the ground he walked on. It tasted like chocolate and she had way too too much of a sweet tooth to not take a good bite out of the grass. Over the years that tooth had carried her from Hershey to Giardina to Rocky Mountain Chocolate to the Wee Willy Wonka in search of the perfect elixir. And here it was, in the footprints he left behind.

And so forth. I know. This eccentricity sounds a little strange as all eccentricities do. That’s why they’re called eccentricities. But what can I do? It keeps my Muse amused. You see, she gets bored easily. And I do not want to bore her. No, sirree. She has a gub too and it is a big one. It is never pretty when my Muse takes over and does a sharknado to my prose.

Anyway all this doodleboggery sometimes leads me out to the edge. Unfortunately this is where it recently led:

Jan Horstafeller vas a mighty fine fellow. He ate his haggalogen on Vod’s Day, Tor’s Day und Freya’s Day. As he scarfened down his haggalogen, his capagaggas growed to ten feet vide und twenty feet large und Jan Horstafeller vas only a vee bit of a Horstafeller. Haggalogen has tat effect on der person. It enlarges one’s capagaggas enormously. Yah, tat it does.

I am so sorry but I couldn’t help myself. It’s just a little Doodleboggery.