Fiction! Fiction! Fiction! Of course it’s Fiction, who would do such a thing???
© copyright 2012 by Sara Jacobelli
San Francisco, 1995
Excerpted from “Adventures with Ed”
This Museum Sucks!
Me and Ed dropped some Ecstasy and wandered around San Francisco, looking for some trouble to get into. We walked from North Beach downtown to Market Street.
“This shit’s no good, I don’t feel anything.” Ed lit a cigarette.
“It’s old. Maybe we won’t get off.” I bought an iced tea in a corner store, popped it open.
“Let’s go to the new Museum of Modern Art, it’s the free day,” Ed suggested.
“I hate museums! I don’t wanna waste a beautiful day like this looking at some stupid paintings.” I was reluctant.
“We won’t be there all day, and hey, maybe you’ll learn something!” Ed was determined, looking at me with blue Irish eyes.
We get to the museum, it’s horrible, it looks like a bank or some other corporate monster. I don’t mind too much, since it’s a free day, and the Ecstasy seems to be a dud. I sure wouldn’t want to waste a good high in a place like that.
“This place looks like an institution.”
“Yeah, it really sucks,” Ed said. “What the hell is this?”
A bunch of chairs were lined up in rows, all different kinds of chairs. “It’s a chair exhibit,” some woman whispers.
“Why is everyone in here whispering but us?” I asked.
Ed ignored me. He brushed his hand on one of the chairs. The blue uniformed security guard scolded Ed. Ed doesn’t take too well to being scolded.
“Alright.” Ed took his hand off the chair, folded his arms.
“I said, don’t touch the chair, you get kicked out, you touch again.” The security guard repeated himself, bursting with authority.
“Oh, this is great,” I mumbled. I started hoping that we would get thrown out. I could feel the Ecstasy starting to come on. I was hoping we’d get thrown out and go to the park or walk along the Bay.
“You told me not to touch the God-damned chair already.” Ed was yelling, red faced. “I took my hand off of the God-damned chair, so what’s your problem?”
“Don’t touch the chair,” the security guard added, with a little less authority.
“Let me tell you something, I’m an artist, I know about art, and a fucking chair isn’t art!” Ed was yelling. “The stupid chair should have to go, and I stay, ASS-HOLE!”
The guy gave up, walked away, looking for more chair-touchers and other art violators.
Ed grabbed me by the hand. “Now let’s go see some paintings!”
“Uh, Ed, I wanna go. I’m starting to get off on that stuff. I gotta be outside. I don’t even like art very much. Let’s go to the arcade and play some pinball or one of those race car driving games.” Coming on to Ecstasy or acid makes me feel like a nine year old.
Ed ignored my complaints, dragged me around. “Now what in the world is this?” he asked. We looked at a bunch of brightly colored skis and ski boots, with their brand names prominently displayed.
“Well, I’m not all that educated, but it looks to me like a bunch of skis.”
“Very good, Sara. I did some time at the Art Institute, and you are correct. I know they’re a bunch of skis, but what are they doing in the Museum of Modern Art?”
A well dressed art patron type whispered, “I think it’s to show that even in your chair, your ski, there is art.” She looked at me, her eyes glinting with hope.
“Guess we can’t touch the skis either,” I said.
“Oh, no, no.” She shook her head.
“Why do they all whisper?” I asked Ed, loudly. He ignored me, approached another guard.
“Uh, excuse me,” Ed said to him. “We’ve seen chairs, skis, I feel like I’m in Sears or something. Are there any paintings here? Or is that too much to ask?”
“Third floor. Many painting,” the guard said.
Oh great, I thought. There’s more floors. We’ll never get out of here.
We climbed the stairs and walked into a huge room with a lot of floor space and practically bare wall space. A few modern paintings hung on the walls.
“Boy, they sure used a lot of space,” Ed said.
“Yeah. These floors would be neat for roller blading, though.”
Ed dragged me around by the arm, rattling off names of painters and styles. “You probably heard of most of these people,” he said.
“Nah, none of em. I like underground cartoons and stuff, this isn’t really my thing. Don’t they have any R. Crumb or Art Spiegelman?”
Ed knew I’d try to escape; he even stationed himself outside of the Lady’s room when I went to take a leak. He dragged me around to seven floors of almost bare walls featuring a few horrible paintings.
“What the hell is this?” I stood in front of a black frame, about three feet by two feet, nothing in it but a plain white canvas. “The least they could do is give us magic markers to color it with,” I added.
One of those art ladies snuck up behind me. “It’s to show how devoid modern life is,” she whispered.
“She’s kidding, right?” I said to Ed. “This dude is no artist, he’s a con artist. It’s a pretty good scam, I gotta admit.”
I looked around at all the polite museum goers. “Wouldn’t you people be pissed off if this wasn’t the free day? If you had to pay for all this garbage?” I waved my arms around. I was really getting wasted.
They backed away from us.
“Aren’t you tired of all this shit? They spent millions on this, whoever they are!” Ed yelled.
“Wow, what a beautiful scarf!” I said to one of the whispering women. “And look at that guy’s T-shirt, with the whales on it. Ed, I believe I’ve finally figured this place out. I think the art isn’t on the walls, it’s on the people’s clothes.” I looked around, wide eyed. I was peaking on the Ecstasy.
“You’re right!” Ed was beaming. “Look at the colors in that guy’s Hawaiian shirt. And that dude’s tie. I’ve never seen anything like it. The patrons are wearing the art.”
We wandered around, lost in bliss. Everyone stayed away from us.
“Everyone’s got the coolest clothes on, what a concept, what a museum!” I said, in ecstasy. “This is fun, after all. The art isn’t on the walls, the art is walking around!”
“I think I’m getting off on that stuff, but it’s hard to tell,” Ed said.
We gallivanted through the rest of the museum. “Let’s go watch the sea lions at Pier 39, let’s go to a bar and get drunk, let’s go for a walk!” I chanted.
“Quit whining,” Ed said. “We’ve gotta see the whole thing.”
“I think I’m high, I don’t wanna waste my high in here.”
“Sssshhh!” Ed said. “I thought you said it was fun.”
“Didn’t I tell you I have a short attention span? Let’s go!”
Ed got tired of it too and we split, stopping near the exit to admire a life sized ceramic sculpture of Michael Jackson and his favorite chimp, Bubbles. It was delicately painted white and gold.
“Now that’s beautiful, that’s a work of art.” Ed stepped back for a better look.
“Yeah, that’s awesome. It’s touching. That’s the best thing here.”
“Beautiful. Michael and Bubbles. Look at the love between those two. This thing here,” Ed pointed at it. “This is the only work of art in the whole, gigantic, piece of shit building,” Ed informed the passers by. A few of them nodded.
Ed planted kisses on Bubble’s lips while I pretended to take photos.
“Now let’s get outta here!” he grabbed my arm, dragged me out the door.
“You know, Ed, it’s too bad we didn’t get kicked out, when you touched the chair.” I walked alongside Ed, happy to be outside.
“Why?” He lit a cigarette. “That guard was such an asshole.”
“Because, anyone can get thrown out of a bar, but it would’ve been really cool to get thrown out of a museum.”
“Hey, I tried my best.”
“Chairs on Display at MOMA,” Wikipedia. (Free to share under GNU Documentation license).
“Custom Made Skis.”www.skicycled.com
“Michael Jackson and Bubbles de Jeff Koons (Versaille) by dalbera. Flickr. (CC Attribution only).
“Michael Jackson and Bubbles,” sculpture by Jeff Koons, ceramic, glaze and paint, 1988, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, worth approximately 5.6 million