Art and life

It’s weird that he’s not in the White House yet, right? It’s like still living with your ex after a breakup. I went to see my friend do stand-up at an open mic last night and one of the other comics made a joke about living with his ex-girlfriend that basically boiled down to “My ex is a whore. WHORE.” Ha ha, dude, your ex may be a whore but you are a terrible unfunny stand-up comic, which, with rare and transcendent exceptions, is basically the same thing as ‘you are a stand-up comic.’

Oooh, burn! Maybe I’m just bitter because I was one of the four people in the audience who weren’t waiting to go onstage and I was sitting right up front, so all the comedians kept heckling me. I got heckled for having health insurance, for wearing boots, and for seeming like the kind of girl who would try to flush paper towels down the toilet, which for the record I am not. I was surprised that almost no one capitalized on the almost alarming levels of gleeful goodwill that are all over New York by referring to the election. Actually my friend had a pretty good line about how she’d been on the subway when they called it and then when she got off the L at Graham Ave. the guy in the token booth was shouting, “HE WON! HE WON!” and everyone she was with ran out onto the street to celebrate but she had to pause and acknowledge the moment, that this was a first, a historic first … the first time an MTA employee had said something that hadn’t pissed her off. Ha! Ok, so I guess sometimes capital-c Comedy is funny. BUT VERY RARELY.

Earlier in the day we’d gone to the Guggenheim to see the show that’s there now, theanyspacewhatever, a group show that my friend summed up perfectly by calling it the Guggenheim trying to be the Whitney. Basically this group of artists took over the space and covered it with site-specific stuff, like putting Jenny-Holzer-by-way-of-Kenneth-Cole-ad truisms on the walls and hanging cardboard from the ceiling. Ho-hum. I had wanted it to be like the Guggenheim’s Matthew Barney retrospective, which was transporting and dreamlike and surreal because he really transformed the space, covering parts of it with Vaseline et cetera. The only part of this show that dramatically altered the space was an expanse of hallway where rainforest sounds played and a soft white screen stretched from the railing to the ceiling of that famous vertiginous ramp. It reminded me of going to the Rainforest exhibit at the Baltimore Aquarium as a child in the middle of winter and imagining I had been teleported magically to the actual rainforest. Basically this is all I ever want from art: to be overwhelmed and transported and made to feel like a child.

On our way out of the museum we were hungry and tired, whining about our problems and the money we’d spent on admission. But then we went and stood under the marquee installed over the entrance, this beautiful excited blinking display of white lights that somehow recalls the pearlescent shimmer of a fancy gown — Roberta Smith, in the Times, called it “bridal-white.” We looked at each other bathed in that light and we stopped talking about our problems.

In a new light, everything looks better. The world seems different and maybe even is.

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