Being All Artsy-Fartsy

The other day as I was standing in the cramped produce section of one of Bay Ridge’s tiny “supermarkets” pondering which sort of apple to buy, some old lady in a Hoveround scooter slammed (well, I guess “tapped” is a more appropriate word, but it makes what happened next seem a lot sadder) into the back of my left leg. I’m surprised that the apples didn’t all roll off of the display, seeing as how I essentially fell in that direction; fortunately I was able to shift my weight so that the right side of my body instead fell into the cooler case containing herbs and salad greens.

As I picked the rhubarb from my clothes and hoped that I didn’t smell too strongly of fennel or celery hearts, it occurred to me that this has absolutely nothing to do with what I planned to write about.  In fact, I have decided to discuss something of critical importance to us all, and no, I’m not talking about the fact that there seems to be a national shortage of Mr. Pibb (I can’t find that stuff anywhere).  I am instead referring to New York and its museum-ness… osity.  Or something.

You see, here in the city (for that’s what we New Yorkers refer to New York as–just “the city,” since we’re probably not going to wake up and think, “Wow, what a lovely day in Detroit this is!”), there are countless museums.  There’s the Metropolitan Museum of Art, which is huge and features such attractions as gigantic old paintings of people in the nude, or perhaps wearing leaves that seem far too small.  There’s also the Museum of Modern Art, which for some reason is located in an old stapler factory in Queens, but nobody goes to Queens anyway, so it’s sad that all of those pieces of art have essentially been lost forever and will likely never be seen again.

We also have the Guggenheim museum, which I affectionately call “the Googy,” which looks like a collapsible camp drinking cup, or maybe a really ugly upside-down lampshade from Ikea.  I actually think there are several different Guggenheim locations around the world, though I’m sure that they’re all inferior to ours, mainly because they aren’t here and also because elsewhere in the world you can’t finish looking at art and then stroll outside and buy a HotDogSausagePretzel (well, that’s what’s painted on the side of the cart, so I can only assume that’s what they sell–some kind of hot dog/sausage wrapped inside a pretzel, I guess…) for just $1.  And then there’s my personal favorite, the Whitney Museum, where I bought a t-shirt that labels me as a “site-specific installation.”  As far as I’m concerned, that shirt may quite possibly be the coolest thing ever.

Actually, along one side of Central Park we have what some people, including the people who made the road signs, call “Museum Row.”  I don’t remember all the museums that are actually in Museum Row, since I think that there are actually only two or maybe just one, all of which charge about sixty dollars a person to get in–but not before you have to wait in a line that extends out the door and around the corner and then ultimately all the way around the block to just get a ticket.

Keep in mind, too, that New York curators have very sophisticated, discerning tastes in the pieces of art that they choose to display.  It’s not just anywhere else that you’d be able to see such tasteful and philosophically meaningful pieces as a figurine of Jesus in a jar of pee, or a Virgin Mary festooned with feces.

NYC museum curators know full well that the modern museum-goer is interested in one thing, and one thing only–genitals.  I know that I’ve seen enough large painted oddly-shaped pieces of sheet metal dangling from the ceiling precariously–borrrrring!  And paintings?  Pshaw!  Painting as an art form died with Bob Ross!  Bring on the cartoonish caricatures of genitals–two melon halves (for those of you just joining us, those would represent the breasts–do try to keep up) strapped on to a My-Size Barbie® would be a good start, and that could be put right next to the cucumber between two oranges positioned strategically on a mattress in order to resemble boy parts.  That is what I call art.

In short, nowhere else in the world can you go to visit the kinds of art museums and galleries that the city has to offer.  Except maybe for Paris, but that would involve being in France, and that’s generally unpleasant since they’ve not discovered indoor plumbing yet.  So make the safe and sanitary choice–take an art tour of the city!  You won’t regret it–just don’t eat the melons.

—2004