On rare occasions I’ll feel a bit sad that my days of being a stupid kid are coming to a close. When that happens, I tend to envision myself doing something like smoking one of these Sobranie cigarettes––kinda kitschy, but undeniably glamorous. I can probably have one a year or so even now that I’m a grown-up, right?
In New York, a group is embarking on a year-long project to replace advertisements with works of art. Genius! The only issue with it, as far as I can tell right now, is that it’s a little within-the-lines (I’d love to see more people take their Exact-o knives to billboards and getting arrested mid-painting session) and not pervasive enough. I’d prefer that all ads were eliminated and replaced with artwork, but everyone knows I have wild visions for society…
The campaign was inspired by a giant picture of a surgically enhanced ass:
Caldwell was inspired to start the project after seeing an ad for a $1,000 Brazilian butt lift outside of her Brooklyn apartment last spring. She said, “I laughed it off at first, but the billboard was designed to make me feel self-conscious, and I got tired of it. I became determined to fill my life with art that would make people feel anything else.”
Reminds me of a few years ago, when I was just out of college, I saw a little piece about an artist, or something, was creating these bumper sticker type things that read, “You don’t need it,” which wannabe renegades like myself could request (for free) in the mail and then smack them onto public advertisements. I still have my packet somewhere. While I was walking through the underpass between the A and S trains at 42nd Street I saw these giant iPhone 7 posters, with that instantly recognizable sleek Apple aesthetic, and I thought, “That would be perfect.” Next time. (Don’t think I won’t do it.)
When walking in Scotland, please do consider the BOG FACTOR.
To think that a mere month ago I was ogling this very expensive but utterly adorable leopard print bunny clutch:
And now I can’t even FANTASIZE about it without feeling guilty imagining those hundreds of pounds that could go toward a down payment on that off-the-grid goat farm we might need to buy as the apocalypse looms. DONALD TRUMP IS WHY WE CAN’T HAVE NICE THINGS.
Today I went to see the Bedlam exhibit at the Wellcome Collection, and there was a lot to chew on (notables include: the record Symposium in Blues, commissioned by Merck to promote psychiatric medication, paintings of “morphinomania, and a psychiatric patient’s artwork depicting his perfect day in the asylum, which ends with a visit to feed the resident polar bears). A few choice quotes on the wall alluding to the old adage that the insane in charge lock up the less insane to keep them pacified, which feels really fucking resonant right now. But anyway! Here’s one of my favorite things from the exhibit: the artwork commissioned by Wallace Laboratories, makers of Miltown, to depict the glorious transformation undergone by those who take the drug. And who did they decide to have paint said transformation? Salvador Dali, naturally. From Sotheby’s:
Given the artist’s reputation for phantasmagoric images, it may come as no surprise to learn that in 1958, he was commissioned by Wallace Laboratories to design an artwork to promote their psychotropic drug Miltown. A sedative that was popular in Hollywood circles, Miltown was at the time considered to be a miracle cure for anxiety. The resulting project, Crisalida*, was an art installation Dalí built in the shape of a chrysalis. Visitors walked through it to see glass panels illustrating a user’s three stages of healing: from an ominous, hollowed figure, to a feminine form in mid-metamorphosis, and finally, to a healed, whole woman with a head of blooming flowers.
As my companion said, “I really cannot tell the before and after here.” Which is to say we both might quibble with the Sotheby’s writer who claims the whole thing is “no surprise.”
The only comfort I’ve found since the horrible news of yesterday morning is the artistically absurd; in other words, any thing that resembles reality, I want no part of it. I’ve scrolled endlessly through this website, watched the amazingly odd Canadian horror cult film Pin, and attempted, despite my limited ability to focus, to finish The Master and Margarita. (My two-book-a-week average has dropped considerably as of late.) If the absurd is saving you, too, here’s a little rec: this short story called “Let’s Do This Once More, But This Time With Feeling” by Sabrina Orah Mark, published in the Bennington Review. It’s about what Louis CK would be like as a husband, and also seahorses. Herewith, the first half:
LOUIS CK, MY HUSBAND, PILES all my seahorses in the middle of our king-sized bed and starts shouting. I see moon and stars seahorse, and green seahorse and the one with no eyes, and pink seahorse, and says-things seahorse, and pregnant seahorse, and I see the sad one, but I don’t see black seahorse. “Where is black seahorse, Louis?” This makes Louis CK, my husband, even angrier. In a fake little girl voice, all singsong, he goes “WheRe is BlAcK SeAhoRSe, LoUIs!?” My husband, Louis CK, is not being very nice. So I say, “No, not black seahorse Louis, just black seahorse,” which makes Louis roar. So I say, “What’s the matter, Louis? Why so boiled?”
“What does your anger, Louis, have to do with my seahorses?”
We go through this every night.
In the morning everything is fine.
Louis CK and I hold hands. We go to the meadow and make love. We do not bring up the seahorses. Louis pulls my head all the way back. He kisses my throat. His lips are rough like rope. I call out, Sweet, Sweet Nothing. “Who?” asks Louis. He looks around. “Who,” he asks, “is Sweet, Sweet Nothing?” “You,” I say, though it’s impossible to be sure.
I cannot explain it, but ever since the seahorses Louis and I have become less and less human. Our ability to speak had gone from stratospheric to cloudy. “Tell me about eternity, Louis.” And Louis tells me all about eternity using mostly the wildflowers from the meadow. For hours and hours, with the petals and stems he builds boats and whole entire cities and nations of people with terrible long flowing hair, but nothing really comes of it. He speaks for a long time, but the words are few and far between and half-finished. Like somewhere in the middle of being words they closed their eyes and fell asleep and dreamed they were seahorses.
When we get home, Louis CK, my husband, piles all my seahorses in the middle of our queen-sized bed and starts shouting. “I thought, Louis, we had a king-sized bed.” Our bed now is unquestionably queen, giving the seahorses the illusion of looking larger than they had the night before. Black seahorse is still missing. Louis doesn’t answer or look at me. He just keeps piling and shouting and piling and shouting. I see super seahorse and old seahorse and nowhere seahorse and sorry seahorse and the one the other seahorses call the Saint and the one they call the Fool.
We go through this every night.
In the morning everything is fine.
Louis CK and I go to the diner. We sit in our favorite booth. “I love you,” says Louis. “I love you more,” I say. We hold hands. We are very alive. The waitress takes our order. Louis orders two soft boiled eggs, coffee, and toast with strawberry jam. I order the same. We do not bring up the seahorses. The waitress’s name is Poppy. She is wearing a t-shirt with a blue and red rocket ship. Poppy serves us our breakfast. “Where is the rocket ship going?” asks Louis. Poppy looks at me. I shrug. I have no idea. Poppy looks at Louis. She looks down at the rocket ship. “Isn’t it always going to the moon?” asks Poppy. “I guess so,” says Louis. There is a little bit of jam on Louis’s cheek. Poppy dips a napkin into my water glass and wipes it off. She kisses Louis on the mouth. He kisses her back. They kiss for a long, long time. “Don’t be wounded,” she whispers. “Don’t be wounded more,” he whispers back. While they kiss I build a tower out of all the jams and pats of butter and honeys. I collect them from all the booths. The tower is so high I have to stand on the table to keep building. At the very top, I imagine perching hold-me seahorse and never-let-me-go seahorse but, seconds before Louis and Poppy finally stop kissing, the whole tower comes toppling down.
“Is that all there is?” asks Louis. We look around. It seems it is. The diner is empty. Jams and butters and honeys are everywhere. Poppy has disappeared into the kitchen. Possibly forever. We look out the window. Out on the street are a few orange and red and green bouncing balls neither Louis nor I have even seen before, but otherwise not much else. Our friend Ferguson runs past us. I knock hard on the glass and call out, “Hey, Ferguson is that all there is?” But he doesn’t hear me. “Go on without us,” calls out Louis. But Ferguson has already gone on.
“Look,” says Louis. “Something fell out of Ferguson’s pocket.” Louis and I rush out of the empty diner to see what it is. Two identical black seahorses lie on their sides. Their heads are touching. I am careful not to get too close. There is something wrong with these seahorses. It is possible their heads are attached. It is possible neither one is my black seahorse. It is possible they are not alive.
“So is THAT all there is?” asks Louis. He waves his arms around, messily. He seems angry. I don’t know if by THAT he means the seahorses or my feelings about the seahorses or my still missing black seahorse or the flash of Ferguson or the broken tower forever ruined or the orange and red and green bouncing balls which are all still bouncing or life in general or eternity or his undying love for me which might be dying a little on account of the seahorses and on account of kissing Poppy.
Back a few years ago, I had an awesome idea for stationery that was designed like Google except it was called Pmail (Paper Mail) instead of Gmail. Seriously, genius! I’ve seen things kind of like it but nothing so on-the-nose as this. Here’s the prototype:
Thanks to LB for input and her bro CR for design.
One of the funniest things I saw in one of the many museums we visited in our time away: this cheeky butt-grabbing angel in Lucas van Leyden’s triptych “The Last Judgment.”