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A Turtle He Goes A’ Arting


me getting a rub from my girls


Heigh-ho, crimestoppers!  Tis I, Tom Turtle, once again emerging greened and refreshed from the rhododendron bush to take another walkabout on the ole Gateway keyboard (complete with cow pattern and optional udders).  E. E. Cummings—sounds like a pornstar now, doesn’t he?—his little cricket would hop upon them keys, but me, I can only lurch and lean and occasionally peck.  And you won’t catch me quoting numbers: they are too far north to consider the trek.  By the time I walked across my cellphone number the editor would have gone to print. 

     But blast all that bebothering, I am not here to bore your pants off with history.  I am here to astound and regale you with tales of art.  No, not Garfunkel—but nearly as furry.  A tale of my trip to the art galleries of Chelsea.

     Now the first place I crawled my little self into was run by this guy that looked like a much older version of Danny from the Partridge Family—you remember, the little red-haired Buddha-bellied urchin who was always trying to steal Mr. Kinkaid’s toupee and sell it back to him for lunch money or something.  Well, this gallery guy had the same Irish, Gaelic, you know, son-of-Ossian, bardic, impish, Dylan Thomas, fleshy, whisky-soaked style. . .without any of the real interest that implies.  Wait. Actually, he was nothing like Ossian or Dylan Thomas, I just got carried away in the literary moment there.  He didn’t even have red hair, come to think of it.  But he was a fat chubba-verra.

     I don’t even know why I am telling you about him except, wait, yah, I had sniffed about the place for a while but couldn’t find any art, so I asked this guy to please point me in the proper direction, to give me a good head’s up.  Turns out I was soaking in it, like Madge in a finger bowl (or was it a petri dish?) of Palmolive. 

     Yes, the “exhibition” turned out to be Aroma of art: Re-aligning Relativity in a Bifurcated Bilateral Post-colonial Stink-a-thon.    I asked him how much that cost and how I would know when it was installed in my tasteful penthouse and he answered that if I had to ask, etc.  I offered him a set (of four) of very gently used odor-eaters in an even trade, but he just gave me a Jabba stare and used his cell to order another lizard sandwich from Dean&Deluca. 


The second place I went I was met at the cash register—I mean art—by this Jewish lady, bout 45, very fit, with frizzy platinum-ish/copper-ish/tungsten-carbide-ish hair.  She was wearing spongepants. . .no, wait, I am thinking of sponge Bob and he wears square pants, so that can’t be it.   What it was is, she was wearing lycra pants and a halter top thingy.  Well they were so tight I could see both the Gaza Strip and the Golan Heights.  The way she was staring at me I could tell she was just waiting for me to fire off some Scuds, but I was too clever for that by half.  Or, no, maybe one-third.  Would you believe one-eighth?  Anyway, I was at least .079 too clever for her and I headed for the door, my Scuds flapping limply behind me. 

       At the gallery across the street, I met a very bendy man with a large amount of lips, or lippage.  His shoulders were narrow and his shoes were long and pointy and he moved across the slick tiles like a sandpiper negotiating the tide.  I kept expecting him to come back to me with a fish in his mouth.   He was exceedingly loquacious—he had me pegged as a easy mark, I think, despite the shell—and unloaded upon me a whole Thesaurus of big words, of the bifurcated bilateral post-Momsy type, which I of course tuned out completely.  I finally told him I was looking for some upperclass artsmells this week, and he was visibly annoyed beyond comprehension that he had been beat to that punch.


The next place was very spritzy-glitzy, with aluminum and glass everywhere.  I think the salestaff were even made of aluminum and glass.   They squeaked slightly when they nodded, and their eyes never fully closed on a slow blink, you know, to keep the mechanism from freezing.  Two very attractive ones rolled up to me on tiny casters and asked if I was ready to “add a little passion to my life.”   My first reaction was to check the sign again outside by the door, but then I answered, “No thanks.”  I thought to myself, “Gee, how dumb do they think I am?”  Coming to these people for passion would be like going to the police to help you track down your runaway pet donut. 


After many hours of shuffling dejectedly from one airy, nearly empty gallery to the next, I finally decided to quit and have a cup of hot chocolate and a cream-o-wheat at a nearby pub.  It was there that my mind cleared and I came to understand the primary principle of the modern gallery:  these people would lie if the truth sounded better.  If they won a free car wash with every true sentence, they would still lie.  If they won a weekend with a dozen naked wood nymphs, nubile and slanky, ready to rub them in all ways for every true sigh, they would still lie.  If they won a personal handshake from God, Zeus, Wotan and Arnold Schwartzenegger and a month in paradise (including Jacuzzi, pillow mints, and coupons for the slot machines) for every true word, they would still lie.   They have a compulsion for the beautiful fib, drawn to it like puppies to a road apple, like a starlette to the cameras, like Rush Limbaugh to sausages and OxyContin.   A single true sentiment, passing by on the sidewalk outside these galleries, would be like a virus, and they must build firewalls and hire Norton and McAfee to protect them.   They sweep the place every morning for reality and spray chemicals in the corners to roust out any organic residue or creature-emotion. 

       How could I survive in such surroundings, since I need mud between my toes and a good anthill to lick now and again?  I think I will stick with landscapes and portraits and my Terrible Terrapin comicbooks, which make me feel very cosy and earthy.  But don’t worry, I shall return, caped and helmeted (with a roly poly gammon and spinach), for other exciting installments.  Until then, I remain,

In a pile

Upon a log

Over the water

Third from the bottom

Secreting my own hard shell

Tom Turtle 

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