Genuflect by Gordy Grundy
September 2005; Issue No. 76
LOS ANGELES DIVIDED
Los Angeles and Art in Los Angeles are now officially Balkanized. East and West no longer commingle. Travel across the city used to be as sunny as a California smile. But those days are grimly over.
There is the West Side with its Bergamot Station and historic Venice. On the East Side, the downtown art scene has matured, swelled in ranks and established itself. The border between the two is Culver City, a distant outpost in No Man's Land. When a friend refuses to go to an opening in Bergamot, you can usually cajole them into going to an opening half-way in Culver City, though not without a great deal of argument.
In the situation of a population change, it's much more convenient to blame it on an immigrant minority.
Unfortunately, in the case of Los Angeles, we can only blame ourselves.
The Entertainment Industry is so far out of fashion that no one comes to LA for that anymore.
It's not the surf. It is the American artist who has suddenly overpopulated and divided this once great city.
We used to have cheap rent. We have eternal sunshine. We have more graduate school programs within a sixty-mile radius than anywhere else in the world.
They came from San Francisco when dot com wealth escalated the rents and sent the artist packing. Across the country, Chelsea, Williamsburg and other Manhattan art colonies began to regentrify. Where is an artist to go?
THE $30,000 ACCUPUNCTURIST
I would rather endure physical pain than drive to the West Side. Dr. Hoo came very highly recommend as the acupuncturist who could solve my beat-up shoulder. Unfortunately, Dr. Hoo is located on the West Side of town. It took a year before I went to see him.
After a long year of pain and failed attempts at rehab, I finally went to see Dr. Hoo. Looking at his kind face, I knew I was in good hands. He massaged my shoulder until it was black and blue. Then he cured me. He told me to stop shifting. He said if I had a car with an automatic transmission, the shoulder pain would go away.
I believe Form must follow Function. My choice of car is the one favored by gardeners and delivery services everywhere. It is the Toyota Tacoma, a small pick-up truck with a lot of speed, economy and room to haul canvases. For economic and recycling issues, I've never had or wanted a new car. Unfortunately, when Dr. Hoo was writing his prescription, the Tacoma had just undergone a radical makeover. The difference between the 'new' and the 'old' was as dramatic as 'vivacious' and 'homely'. Form kicked Function with steel-toed boots.
Dr. Hoo has saddled me with quite a burden. I also happen to live in the zone with highest auto insurance in the city. I have made quite a commitment to Form. Now when I sit in traffic trying to get to the West Side, I do so in the epitome of landscape gardner style.
So, I have a new car. Two of the novelties are 'brand new' and 'clean.' And I am missing out on the experience. I am not getting the full value of my new monthly payment. We're not getting that new car smell.
My car is a mess. It's in a shabby condition, an insult to the space-age interior and high-tech upholstery. I won't clean it because of a little dried dog drool that my dog made the day I put him down. I just can't get rid of it. I sit in traffic, see that slobber and I think of him. I miss my old pal.
We all grieve in different ways. Maybe I could 'move on' a little quicker if I just get the damn car cleaned.
I recently received an email from a Mrs. Sylvia James of Alabama who wished to buy 'No. 91' from an old painting series. I don't sell much artwork off my website, so when I do, it is a pleasant surprise. Mrs. James had sent the email very early in the morning, which led me to believe she had been up all night drinking Mint Juleps. Her typing and manner of speech were odd, a Southern charm I presumed. Since most art is purchased while intoxicated, I thought nothing of it.
Mrs. Sylvia James is a busy woman. Not only is she about to give birth, she is moving to England. A woman of good taste, she inquired about a painting commission for her new home to celebrate the birth of her daughter.
The shipping company, which would be moving her 'home decors', contacted me. They needed to know the dimensions of the painting, so that they could quote a cost to Mrs. James. I assumed it was a Chinese firm, for the email began with 'Dear Mr. Grundy/Ma.'
Mrs. James then sent an email, happy with our progress and her love for 'No. 91.' She was going to send a postal money order with an amount that was $1,700.00 above the price of the painting. It would help her out if I could pay the shipping....
I recall a recent news item on Internet scams, about reshipping stolen goods, illegal money transfers and unwitting victims.
As a crime lord, Mrs. Sylvia James is quite brilliant for she targets the most vulnerable in our society. The American artist is eager, open and always fast to help. Beaten down by years of insignificance, the artist is psychologically ripe for abuse. Starved and grateful for the attention, the artist will go to great lengths to maintain the involvement. Mrs. Sylvia James is a monster. This is more despicable than preying upon senior citizens or small children.
Seething with rage at this heinous scam and the abuse which she may be rending upon my brothers and sisters across the globe, I contacted the Los Angeles office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. A friendly young woman answered the Fraud Division phone. I immediately imagined her as blonde and athletic, an Eastside kind of gal. I explained the scam. She asked a question. I liked her.
"And you feel she may be targeting...?" she asked.
"Artists." I replied.
"Oh.", she said. But it sounded more like "So?" I wouldn't say she was suddenly chilly but I sensed a disinterest. "We're working on it.," she said. I almost believed her. As she was hanging up the phone, I swear I heard her snicker "Get more agents, Lou. They're after the artists."
As I write these words, Mrs. Sylvia James is out there duping and attacking the creative in our society. This She-Wolf is cajoling them into what will be a federal offense. Her talons will shred the artist's dignity and their sense of trust. Her guile will rearrange the lives of these innocents. They will brag to their friends about sudden good fortune. They will dig deep into storage to find 'No. 91.' They will clean up and repaint a scuffed section, while wondering how the piece will look in the country home outside London. They will sketch ideas for a commission. Mrs. Sylvia James must die. This monster must be apprehended and brought to justice. Or maybe I'll mete out my own.
I am offering a reward. If anyone has any information, which could lead to the arrest and conviction of Mrs. Sylvia James, I will personally award them 'No. 91'. I don't know what she looks like, but I do know that she is a bad typist. Please send any clue, no matter how irrelevant or insignificant, to the HotTip Line listed below. All information will be kept confidential. Someone, somewhere, knows something.
Since I must go at this alone, outside the law, I can't really offer any kind of Witness Relocation Program. I've got a couch, but that would only be for a couple of nights.
---Of course, with my luck, we'll find that Mrs. Sylvia James headquarters her criminal empire on the West Side of town.
GORDY GRUNDY is a Los Angeles based artist. His visual and literary work can be found at www.gordygrundy.com
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