Sunday, November 9, 2008

Other Voices, Other Rooms

I can't believe I actually got to sleep in on both days of this weekend. That's practically unheard of these days, so it was big news to be in bed past 8:00. In addition to all the sleeping, we managed to do a few things too.

A year or two ago, Jen and I were sitting around drinking beers with her mom and going through old pictures. In the pile was a shot of Jen when she was about three years old. She is standing behind a car that sits with its door open still. Her hair is a tangled and blowing in the wind and she has on this little jean jacket thing that just cracks me up when I look at it. Her face is what's perfect though. It's not the cheesy good natured smile of a kid who loves to have her picture taken, but rather this solemn insecurity that comes through. It's heartbreakingly beautiful and I had it blown up, and printed in black and white to put on the wall downstairs.

Jen felt a bit odd having a pic of her on the wall by itself, so yesterday I went through some Merryman family photos and found one of me. It's a close up of me around the same age as Jen, and I have my goofy smile on. On the plus side, it's a sincere smile not the forced "I'm having my picture taken" variety. Tonight, I got both shots framed and will get them hung tomorrow. I was going to do it tonight, but didn't have the right wall anchors. We'll fix that tomorrow.

Today, we went to see the Andy Warhol exhibit
that's here in town. Columbus is actually the only US stop for Andy Warhol: Other Voices, Other Rooms, and we felt fortunate to have the chance to see it. Click on the link if you'd like the full breakdown of what was displayed, but the short list is an amazing collection of his print work, photographs, and a massive amount of film displayed on dozens of screens. While I like some of his work, I never claimed to be a massive follower, but it really was amazing to see the sheer volume of the man's output.

Jen and I roamed the halls of the Wexner Center, checking out old 16mm film of a man inserting a paintbrush into his rectum and then paint a portrait of Andy while Andy looked on, snapping the occasional photograph. We played in the area they had set aside for a miniature "Clouds" display. (The clouds in question being large foil pillows filled with a light helium mixture floating around one corner of the gallery.) I stood with rapt attention at every mention or performance by The Velvet Underground. We read excerpts of Truman Capote's Marilyn Monroe interview for Andy's magazine. We sat mesmerized by some of the screen tests that he shot as the subject would go from campy, to bored, to finally being upset that the process wasn't over.
Whatever your feelings about Campbell's Soup Cans, Multiple Marilyns, or Pop Art in general, it was a great way to spend the afternoon and it was good to just get out and spend some time looking at art again. We haven't done that for awhile, and just being out and about wakes you up a bit and gets you thinking. Some of it we loved, some of it we were indifferent to, but we were happy just roaming around. Plus, did I mention that a guy had a paint brush in his ass? How awesome is that? The only way that could be better is if he were a caricature artist at Cedar Pointe. "Oh, OK. You like horses? How bout if I draw you sitting on a horse? Great! Here, let me just bend over..."
After absorbing all things Andy we headed over to Panera for a late lunch. After rounding up half a sandwich and a bowl of soup each, we found a table near the fireplace and settled in. I was watching a guy who was sitting outside drinking from a Panera branded cup and smoking a cigarette like there was no tomorrow. He would take a hit, exhale in this lazy way where he would just open his mouth in an "O" and the smoke would just pour out of his lungs, and then immediately take another hit. There were no quick breaths of pure air in between, just this crazy sucking followed by letting his mouth hang open to let the flood of smoke rise up and sting his eyes. I was enthralled. When he lit another cigarette immediately, I thought it odd but remember thinking "Whatever it takes to get through it, buddy".

When he took three drags and then threw the butt on the ground ten feet to his right, lit a new cigarette, then walked over picked up the one he threw to the ground to take one more hit before putting it in the ashtray and then turn his attention to the new cigarette, I started giving Jen, who had her back to the entertainment, the play by play.

After a few minutes of me explaining that the guy was taking three or four quick drags and then throwing the still lit cigarettes on the ground, lighting a new one, and then going back for the grounded butts, she picked up her chair and came around to my side of the table. To the others in the restaurant we might have looked like thirtysomethings in love, but we were just both enthralled by this strange bit of madness in the middle of Upper Arlington.

He waved at kids, he smoked, he littered, he smoked his litter, he took sips of water from his cup with shaking hands, he smoked, he coughed, and then he did it all again. Sadly, just like my bowl of Chicken Noodle Soup, the craziness came to an end. Before I could get into my shortbread cookie, he had rounded the corner. We left shortly after and kept an eye out for him as we drove out of the neighborhood, but he was not to be seen.

And that's that. We came home and watched "True Blood" and I'm about to wrap up the night with a graphic novel by Joe Hill. Jen's been in bed for over an hour already and should be out cold. I probably won't be much further behind her.

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