The Rip Post


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        Call them Less than Satisfying Encounters with Humanity, or LTSEWH, for um, short. Only the names have been changed or omitted to protect the insensate.
        LTSEWH # 1: No Relaxstation
        I dropped in at one of my favorite joints, a postage-stamp-sized room called the "Relaxstation." They make a wonderful "boba tea" there-- -cold tea with tapioca pearls, a Taiwan invention---and it's a nice station in which to relax. Most of the time.
        On one recent Saturday, better to have renamed it "Tea and No Sympathy." Rap music thundered from a low ceiling. I mean, it just throttled every square inch of quiet, and beat it to death. Music as terrorism.
        The "lyrics" seemed to concern raping and beating women, who were poetically referred to as "bitches." The colorful descriptor beginning with the word, "mother," miraculously punctuated almost every single "verse."
        Now, I'm not one to tell people what I think of their music, but when a young woman walked in with two little kids to get a couple of "boba teas," I couldn't take it.
        "Excuse me!" I said to a young guy behind the counter whose spiky gold hair would have been rejected  by the Three Stooges. "That music---it-- -it---"
        He leaned forward to hear better, so I shouted.
        A customer in line stared at me in horror. What would this madman do next? Ask for artificial sweetener? The guy behind the counter quickly turned the music off.
       "I didn't mean for you to turn the music off---just change it to something else, maybe," I said. "That stuff was full of dirty words and images of violence against women."
        Spike-Hair nodded, and apologized.
        "I didn't notice," he said.
        LTSEWH # 2: Crappy Art
        Now, I like art as much as the next guy---okay, more than the next guy, who is forever railing at the NEA (often for good reason.) Besides, my dad was an Art. But I draw the line at fecal matter. I know, I know---it's very close-minded and unimaginative of me, but I just can't help it. Crap isn't art, although a lot of art is crap.
        There I was, at an art opening in Los Angeles for an exhibit mysteriously called "Poodledoodle." This was in a pleasant district of restaurants and knick-knack shops, inside a trendy used clothing store. I dropped in on a lark, while out for an evening stroll.
        The first thing I noticed was a series of collages pasted to boxes---all manner of images. Not great art, but entertaining enough. Headlines, clippings, funny faces, and. . .wait a second, was that a. . .picture of a. . .toilet? And was the toilet full of, um. . .Why, yes! It was!
       Talk about low art---this was lower G.I. art.
       I moved on to another part of the exhibit, as lots of merry, well-dressed young people milled about, drinking beer, and a "D.J." spun records of "trance music" in the back. Here, arranged neatly on a series of shelves, were some of the same artist's (her name was given simply as "Patty") sculptures. Ladies and gentlemen, I kid you not---these were stitched leather representations of human waste, each captioned according to the "donor"---i.e. "Excretion of female college student night before final," or something like that.
        I turned to a young fellow next to me, who was also examining the display.
        "This whole exhibit is a bunch of shit," I said.
        The fellow found this so uproarious that he introduced me to the artist, Patty herself, a lovely, demure young woman holding court at the far end (so to speak.)
        "Excuse me," I said, "Why did you decide to focus on shit?"
        "Well," she said thoughtfully, her eyes glazing over, "it's really about recycling, and reusing things. Excretion is a very important part of life. We all do it."
          I thought about saying "we also all blow our noses," but I didn't want to give her any ideas. She pointed to one of the collage-boxes, which was covered with pictures of rabbits, and (you guessed it) glued-on rabbit droppings!
       "Rabbits are amazing," said Patty. "Did you know that they chew their own pellets?"
        "Yes, yes, I know. They don't get the full benefit of nutrition from the food on its first pass, so to speak. But why focus on this subject? Why not uh, flowers?"
        She rhapsodized more about "recycling," noting that she hadn't used real rabbit droppings on her collage---substituting tapioca pearls instead.
        "They're good for excretion, too," she added.
        I asked again:
        "But what made you so interested in scatology?"
        "Sca. . .sca. . .what is that word?"
        "Scatology. It means matters pertaining to the hindquarters."
        "Oh," she said. "Thank you."
        The most amazing thing about it all was that she was not even sponsored by the NEA.
       For more LTSEWH's, watch this space.

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