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02.13.05 12:00 a.m.

The artist is one to whom all experience is revelation.  



Previously in Xenology: Xen was a student teacher, but under duress.

Alcove Obscuring

I spent a lot of the day hiding in an alcove. Emily and I were unfortunately spending the day showing people our apartment, which meant that we had to abide the "no pets" rule. Our original idea was to have me take a drive every time someone was supposed to be visiting us, but it devolved into my crating the cat up and sitting with my back against the hall closet door. This did not stop people from trying to have a look at the alcove, but Emily told them that the door was painted shut.

I have no idea what the cat made of all of this, but all Emily and I wanted to do was make full use of the currently clean bed, sofa, and floor of our apartment before we were crated up ourselves.

I was not displeased with my role of feline obscurer, if only because it allowed me the opportunity to listen to Emily charmingly lie through her pearl whites to the unassuming. You will never know how convincingly Emily lies, especially if she happens to have had the opportunity to lie. She does not lie often, but I wouldn't actually know if I was wrong. I just have to assume that she is generally as true as her word or I won't be able to sleep properly at night. I can say for certain that I have only very rarely caught Emily stretching the truth and then only for inconsequentially boring things that begged for exaggeration.

In the end, no one who visited us ended up taking the apartment, so it was largely a waste of sex time.

Diametrically Opposed to Zen

The night before my first observation was spent in a state diametrically opposed to Zen. I will not go into great detail of my frenzy, but suffice it to say that I had Emily buy me translucent notebook dividers so that I would lose no time in punching holes. My notebook, I would like to point out, was not even slightly a matter of concern to my supervisor, more greatly showing how disconnected from objective reality teaching has made me.

The observation went well, considering that my class lied, cheated, screamed, and moaned in her presence. In that the lesson ended and I was still standing, I considered it a resounding success. My supervisor stated sweetly and accurately that I need a lot of work. I do not know the kids' names yet, aside from the two good students and the handfuls of true annoyances. The discussion devolved into my just having to pick on the same three students because no one else could be bothered to read. I had to take the notebook of one girl because she would not stop doing math homework (this girl was sitting only a seat away from the supervisor).

When I got the evaluation form back in the mail, I got far more poor scores than adequate and the only good score I got was on how well I took her criticism (after the horror of which I had convinced myself, almost nothing she could say to me would have fazed me, though she was far from testing this).

The Gates

The Gates is the newest exhibit by the artist Christo and his coherency impaired partner Jean-Claude. Previously, he has wrapped the Reichstag in cellophane, 90,000 miles of Australian coastline in fence, killed several people with umbrellas, and inspired an episode of The Simpsons.
The Gates  
Yeah, Christo is wacky.
Now, by which I mean the past twenty years, he had his bespectacled eyes set on Central Park. It just cried out to be wrapped in something. The city repeatedly told him that he was made of crazy parts and should see if maybe the Dead Sea could be filled with gelatin. He would hear none of this and, when not fielding questions from the magical gnome in his ear, tenaciously held to using the park.

Finally, the city relented as long as he did no lasting damage. His milieu? Shower curtains. Specifically 23 miles of very tall, very orange shower curtains. It is called the Gates. Honestly? It truly is beautiful.

Christo gleefully insists that it is utterly meaningless. Over $20 million dollars of money anonymously donated has gone into creating art for art's sake. Nothing is on sale. There is no ethical or political significance attached to this feat. It just is.

Emily and I went to see the Gates with her father. Emily's father is an artist of some repute, in that one can google his name and uncover several hundred varied pages that all specifically refer to him. He has, if the results are to be trusted, written a book. He most certainly teaches at the New School and raises orchids.
Beautiful girl, no gates  
Seeking the blue gate

As Emily's father is something of a professional artist, I did my best to keep my skepticism in check prior to seeing the art. While I do not think I necessarily need his approval, I would very much like to continue to have it and it simply would not do to be seen as the philistine I most certainly am.

We got off the subway train and were right at the edge of Central Park. I get the feeling that getting off any number of subway stations will bring you to the edge of the park, but it was something of a startling experience to so quickly be at the Gates.

It is hard to say that it was exactly what I expected without sounding disappointed. I certainly was not disappointed, but it was a sea of orange nylon swaying in the breeze. Christo stated that he envisioned the Gates flanked by white snow, but it was a warm day when I set foot inside my first Gate.

Soon after we entered and I subsequently took to poking the shower curtains, we happened by a couple that had not been apprised of Christo's vision and were more than a little confused by the preponderance of orange and tourists. I took them to be native New Yorkers who just happened to have avoided the news for the past week. Were they visiting today from Wisconsin, I think they would have come away convinced that all of New York operates by the rules of Roman Holiday imitators.
Beautiful girl, blue gates  
The blue gate exists!

We stopped by a frozen fountain that I believe is likely some important landmark that I cannot place in my ignorance and Emily's father, who I had still yet to offend, bought me a hot dog. One hears horrible things about the hotdogs in the city, usually involving mentions of rodents and old boots. I deride this. New York hotdogs are perfectly lovely, particularly when purchased for you by an artist. I mixed ketchup and mustard together in hopes of creating a color akin to the Gates, but only ended up with a condiment in need of therapy. Many people were dressed in or were hawking things following the Gates color scheme (which is to say, pylon orange), so I couldn't see any problem with trying to eat the Gates colors.

I had insisted to Emily that there was a single blue Gate, or would be if I had my way. Finding the blue Gate would allow one prizes and esteem. She claimed that I was somehow mistaken, which was quite inconceivable to me. In an ocean of saffron, what could be more beautiful than a single cornflower?

This, it should be noted, if likely a big reason that I am not an artist.

Soon in Xenology: Moving. Valentine's Day.

last watched: Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas
reading: Hey Rube
listening: Genius
wanting: An ineffable feeling of art.
moment of zen: It was very orange.
someday I must: Poke Christo with a blue stick.

Thomm Quackenbush is an author and teacher in the Hudson Valley. Double Dragon publishes four novels in his Night's Dream series (We Shadows, Danse Macabre, and Artificial Gods, and Flies to Wanton Boys). He has sold jewelry in Victorian England, confused children as a mad scientist, filed away more books than anyone has ever read, and tried to inspire the learning disabled and gifted. He is capable of crossing one eye, raising one eyebrow, and once accidentally groped a ghost. When not writing, he can be found biking, hiking the Adirondacks, grazing on snacks at art openings, and keeping a straight face when listening to people tell him they are in touch with 164 species of interstellar beings. He likes when you comment.

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