Genuflect by Gordy Grundy
July 2004; Issue No. 69
LIVING IN WARTIME, PART TWELVE
AN EARLY SPRING
It's so hard being misunderstood. I can't get used to the jeers and the laughter. Everyone regarding me with derision ---Jeez, this is what a Minimalist must feel like.
Yah, sure, I may be talking strangely, almost incomprehensively, and, yes, my arms are flailing about in the air like a madman, but I have a reason for my odd behavior. I am a 'Man of the Times.'
The kids on my block laugh at me. They yell "Spaz!", "Kook!" and "Ants in yo' pants!" It's because I walk around, with elbows flying and my hands clawing at my face and back in a rather high-speed motion while twirling around in circles. In Los Angeles, we've had an early Spring and the spiders got an early hatch. Taboo Terrace, my studio, is surrounded with a grove of bamboo; arachnids love bamboo. The little muthas spend all night squirting out web-works just to snare me in the morning. Just thinking about it---I, I can feel something crawling down my neck! Here I go again. I look like an aerobics instructor with a bad meth habit. Butoh on bennies.
Yes, I am talking funny as well. But I have a reason. No, I don't have a harelip, but everybody says I sound like it. 'Hello' now sounds like 'yNelo.' "nMy Nay-mm eeSS..." It's just that if I don't talk like that, the voice recognition on my cell phone doesn't work. I'm just trying to nayDap---I mean, adapt to my technology.
Yes, it's true I haven't walked upright since the Fall of 2001 and frankly, my back is killing me. I do a crabwalk, a kind of a low-to-the-ground shuffle. I never skip in a straight line anymore. I mean, what moron would? When I walk the dog, we both do a duck and cover. For god sakes, I live in a primary hard target! You know the terrorists want to get LA bad!
I'd rather be a 'Man of Tomorrow', but unfortunately, I am resigned to be a 'Man of Today.' It's tough living in this wartime.
THE STUDIO VISIT (All Rights Reserved.)
Just when I was about to sign a big media contract that would have made me a millionaire's millionaire, I suddenly felt a spider crawling down my neck. It seems Hollywood doesn't like a bit of flailing about, nor frantically spinning around in circles either. Or maybe it was my high-tech speech impediment that made the Beverly Hills suits wary. Whatever the reason, it appears that my new reality show 'The Studio Visit' has been sent 'back to the coffeehouse.'
I thought it was quite brilliant actually; so did they. 'The Studio Visit' was this close.
In the pilot, the show follows a group of artists, recent MFA grads, as they prepare for the studio visit of their art career! The brass ring that we dangle in front of their glossy and glazed eyes is a room at the Whitney Biennial, a $25 gift certificate to Pearl Paints and a year and a half of unrelenting attention followed by a lifetime of obscurity. Over the course of eight weeks, the artists would fret, flail and flagellate, building momentum to the biggest 'Studio Visit!' of their lives.
The most difficult challenge was keeping the attention of the TV audience. Whenever the artists would begin to discuss their work, we learned to simply cut to a more fascinating commercial.
Then, after months of excruciating drama, odd self-obsessed behavior and lots of pointlessly hard work, the day of the big 'Studio Visit' would arrive. We follow each artist as they clean the studio, prepare refreshments and medicate themselves in anticipation of the life-changing jury.
Six agonizing hours late, a limousine would pull to the curb. The Don Trump-like host (or a dominating doyenne) would give the artwork a five-minute look-see, toss the notebook of carefully prepared slides in the trashcan and ask, "Is there anything to drink?" Tension would build as the wine was uncorked and the host extinguished his cigarette into the cheese and fruit plate. You could hear a pin drop.
At this point, I suggested a close-up of the artist's sweat-beaded brow, an audio track of their heart rate and an inner-body cam to show the ulcer acid boring a hole through their stomach lining. It's a shame there is no way we could show the artist's soul staggering under the weight of this ultimate aesthetic authority; I guess we could always animate it.
Then, after looking bored and fidgeting with his watch, the famous curator (or dominating doyenne) would stand and announce the verdict.
To the lucky, lucky winner of 'The Studio Visit', the glamorous art expert would enthusiastically announce, with a trademarked cadence, "Let's put ON an ART show!" Lights flash, champagne pops and canapés are served.
To the untalented losers, 'America's Favorite Curator' would sneer a series of trademarked humiliations: "Try your local coffeehouse" "Here's the address of a pay-to-play gallery." "Try the county fair---they show children's art."
(At the time, my lawyer was trying to secure the tee shirt merchandising rights to these catchy insults. Oh well, ashes to ashes...)
What excited me most was the spin-off potential of the series. (Ka-$hing. Ka-$hing.) To satisfy the hungry market for cruel fraud and humiliation, we'd produce a similar show featuring mid-career artists.
Unfortunately, at that crucial contractual moment, with the Mont Blanc hovering over gold-embossed onionskin, the spider in my collar sent me into a spastic fit which alarmed the network elite. I tried to pass it off as the latest dance craze. I should have said it was an Ecstasy flashback. Sadly, it wasn't enough cool to win the day. As they say on the Westside, the deal went South.
Offering a consolation, the Suits offered me a job as the art curator of the studio commissary. I politely declined; I already work for minimum wage.
GORDY GRUNDY is a Los Angeles based artist. His visual and literary work can be found at www.gordygrundy.com.