Wednesday, March 30, 2011
Stephen Eelberg presents
"SEAWHORES: THE PRAWNO"
Staring Mussell Crowe, Cray West, Salmon L. Jackson, Barramundi White, Prawn Connery, Joan Crawfish, Dory Smelling, Killpatrick Swayzee, Tuna Turner, Cod Stewart, Marlin Brando, Clamela Anderson, Mackerel Bolton, Blowfish, Octopussy … and introducing Marilyn Fishroe.
The opening shot is an aquarium over which credits roll to a funky wucka-wucka porn soundtrack. As a voice-over reels off actor’s names they are shown in various attitudes of repose, in deck chairs, lounging at the bar, in their trailers etc.
Prawn Connery, as Bond, writhes in deckchair in passionate embrace with Cray West. Bond theme music.
Prawn: I’d always hoped we’d meet like this, salmon-chanted evening.
Cray West: Oh James, I’ve felt so abalone.
As they grunt and groan to climax a big dollop of mayonnaise splats onto them. Cut to Larry Lobster, the director.
Larry: Cut. That was great Prawn, beautiful work Cray. Go and get yourselves cleaned up. Okay people, moving right along to the Dory Smelling close-ups. Okay Dory, get your shell off honey.
Cut to Dory Smelling on waterbed in pool.
Dory: My What?
Larry: You heard sugar, get raw. It’s time for some clam cam.
Dory: But the script says this is the Hillary Clinton Story!
Larry: Oh it is, babe, believe me it is. Now come on and quit being so precious. Get shelled, get wet, it’s show and tell time!
Dory: I will not. This film is disgusting and so are you. If you want me I’ll be in my trawler.
She storms off and Larry confers with Sam Squid.
Larry: Jeez, the bait I gotta work with! Can we get a replacement Sam? What about Tuna Turner?
Sam: She’s got crabs.
Larry: Joan Crawfish?
Larry: Clamela Anderson?
Sam: She died of Cod-oreah. She stank anyway.
Larry: Hey! Don’t speak eel of the dead. Okay then, go and see what you can do about little Miss Smelling.
As Sam heads off to Dory’s trawler Larry addresses cast and crew.
Larry: But in the meantime we got a picture to make, so let’s move it. What’s the next scene?
Assistant: Err, seduction of Marilyn Fishroe by Salmon L. Jackson and Barramundi White.
Larry: Okay people let’s go. Either this picture comes in under budget and oversexed or you’re all fried! Aaand action!'
Marilyn Fishroe on bed. She is a pile of caviar with a blonde wig. Salmon L. Jackson enters room.
Salmon: Mmm mmm, now what have we here? Looks like one tasty little fishcake, and my friend and I are mighty hungry. Hope you don’t mind if he joins us, mam?
Marilyn: Well, I don’t know …
Barramundi White enters room to slick soul soundtrack, giving smooooth Barry spiel.
Barramundi: Don’t fight it babe, just come and embrace something that is beautiful, you are my golden, glimmering portal of light, my cascading champagne chandelier of sweetness and goodness…
Marilyn sighs with pleasure.
Marilyn: Oh Barramundi, do you really mean that?
Salmon: Like the man says babe, you got the goods.
Marilyn squeals with delight as Salmon and Barramundi get down to business.
Sam Squid knocks at door of Dory Smelling’s trawler.
Sam: Dory, oh Dory, I know you’re in there.
Dory: Go away, I’m not coming out. You’re sickos, all of you. I can’t believe I got hooked into this.
Sam: Oh come on honey, we promise there won’t be any more dirty stuff. We know you got class. Larry says he’s real sorry and that it won’t happen again. You know what these Lobsters are like, all hot under the collar. But he’s cooled off now and wants to make up by giving you a present.
Trawler-door opens a crack.
Dory: A present?
Sam: Yeah babe, a pearl necklace!
Dory fully opens door.
Dory: A pearl necklace?
Sam: Yeah, a big one, but only if you come now.
Dory: Oh, alright. But only if he promises to be nice. No dirty stuff, okay?
Sam: Oh, he’ll be nice, baby, we’ll all be nice.
Cut back to Salmon and Barramundi’s bed scene with Marilyn Fishroe. The caviar is almost entirely eaten and only a blonde wig remains. Music is slick soul. Salmon and Barramundi grunt away for a bit longer before the mayonnaise arrives. Marilyn sighs and sings:
Marilyn: Happy birthday to me, happy birthday to me …
Salmon: Mmm mmm, you sure was tasty Miss Fishroe. But I’ll be damned if I ain’t got a hankering for a second course!
Barramundi: You said it bro, let’s go and find us some more tasty vitals!
Larry lobster is making sleazy moves on a giggling seahorse starlet as Sam approaches.
Larry: Well, did she swallow the bait?
Sam: Hook, line and sinker.
They both snigger evilly. Cut to Dory poolside, peeled, with her shell beside her.
Dory: Now are you sure nothing’s showing?
Larry: Trust me baby, like I said it’s real tasteful (heh heh)
Dory: Well, when am I going to get my pearl necklace?
Larry: Real soon sugar, real soon. Aaand Action!
Soul soundtrack starts. Salmon and Barramundi jive into scene.
Salmon: Mmm mmm, Well lookee what we have here - sweetmeats! Doll if you don’t mind I think it’s high time my friend and I dined.
Dory screams as Salmon and Barramundi sidle up to her.
Dory: (To director Larry Lobster) But you said no dirty stuff, you promised…!
Seductive wucka-wucka soul track amps up, as Barramundi White starts his spiel:
Barramundi: Don’t fight it babe, you are my Cleopatra, my Godiva, my Joan of Arc, my Shiva, why you are every woman in the world to me.
Dory sighs, won over by Barramundi’s charms, as both he and Salmon assume the position.
Dory: Oh, that’s beautiful. But I still want my pearl necklace.
Larry: Oh it’s coming baby, it’s coming, any minute now, special delivery.
A squirt-gun of special sauce sprays the prawns to end the scene.
Prawn Connery is tied to a bed, as Cray West in bondage gear whips him. Blowfish (a lacquered Pufferfish) reclines smugly in chair near bed.
Prawn: I suppose you think you’re pretty smart Blowfish, planting this poison little double-crossing anemone?
Blowfish: Yes, she’s a lovely specimen, isn’t she Mr Bond? She usually gets what she wants.
Prawn: You’re wasting your time Blowfish. Fishfinger couldn’t extract the secret cod and neither will you. Torture me all you like, grill me, braze me and baste me, but I’ll not tell.
Blowfish: Ah, but I think you will, Mr Bond. I have a very persuasive, shall we say, friend. Perhaps you’ve heard of him, Dr Wasabi?
Dramatic music - Da da da da! - as Blowfish holds up tube of Wasabi sauce. Prawn struggles
desperately at his bonds. Blowfish and Cray West laugh evilly at his discomfort.
Prawn: You’re an animal, Blowfish, that’s inhumane. Wasabi Sauce was outlawed in the Geneva Codvention!
Blowfish: Geneva Codvention? I don’t think I’ve heard of it. But then I have such a bad memory for details. Perhaps your memory will improve with a little stimulation to the nether regions?
Prawn screams as Cray West starts rubbing Wasabi into his genitals (where is that on prawns?). But gradually the screams turn to moans of pleasure as he starts getting off on the pain.
Blowfish: You may never spawn again, Mr Bond, had enough?
Prawn: No, more please, more, lots more!
Blowfish: What’s this?
Cray West: I, I think he's actually enjoying it!
Blowfish: But that’s impossible! What’s going on here?
Prawn: Come on Blowfish, don't be a fool. You know as well as I do what’s going on. You want me, you’ve always wanted me, and I’ve always wanted you. Screw the Cod War and the arms race, kiss me Blowfish, kiss me now!
Blowfish: Damn it you’re right, Mr Bond, of course you’re right. What a fool I’ve been. What fools we’ve both been. I surrender, I surrender to you utterly.
Sweet romantic strings well up as Blowfish, in slow-mo, approaches bed to embrace Bond. Blowfish and Cray West mount Prawn and they all begin making mad love. Larry, excited, directs cameraman.
Larry: Oh this is gold, pure gold. Is he hard yet? Are they hard yet? Get in close for the woodshot, I want the woodshot now!
Cut to image of chopstick.
Larry: More wood, I want lots more wood!
Cut to massive tree being felled.
Cut back to frantic orgy of Prawn, Cray West and Blowfish, just as Barramundi White, Salmon L. Jackson and Dory Smelling enter the scene.
Salmon: Mmm mmm, this sho looks mighty tasty!
Barramundi: Don’t fight it babe
Dory: I want another pearl necklace!
Salmon: Mmm mmm, I think that can be arranged!
Prawn: Oh, Blowfish!
Blowfish: Oh, Mr Bond.
All the prawns pile into one rampantly rooting, writhing heap as the music climaxes.
Larry: Oh, this is gold, solid gold, now get ready for the money shot!
Several quick cuts back and forth between Larry and cast, in time to fucking, as excitement mounts. Finally as the music, grunting, panting and squealing reach a crescendo, a bucket of mayonnaise is poured over the cast, who writhe and moan in orgasmic ecstasy.
Larry: Genius, pure godamn, solid-state, bona-fide genius. Okay people, that’s a wrap, get yourselves cleaned up, I think we’ve earned ourselves a drink.
Whoops, cheers and applause from cast and crew, high-fives, sounds of celebration, congratulation, elation etc.
Camera pans back from Prawno set to reveal it has been staged on a table at a backyard barbie. Real people stand near the table casually talking. Two people approach the table of the prawno set, dip a couple of prawns into the mayo and bite into them. As they bite there are piercing screams. Screen fades to black. Music, Credits, the end ...
(well, I did warn you ...)
Friday, March 18, 2011
There was an utterly redundant article in this morning’s Silly Boring Herald on the way Melbourne has it all over Sydney for the yartz, vigour, zest, transport, etc. Apparently Sydney’s getting too costly, congested and mean spirited. Sydney’s an ageing Liz Taylor, compared to which Melbourne is a vivacious, energised Helen Mirren. What does that make Nowra? Amy Winehouse? No cliché left unturned. You know the drill: Sydney’s a mindless, hedonistic sun and surf worshipping bogan, Melbourne a philosopher in a beret writing poetry in a coffee shop, Kulcha coming out its bum. (Oh, the writer forgot to mention it’s also the gangland murder capital of Oz. Maybe they’re kulchured gangsters who take in Romanian arthouse films before doing hits). Why bother endlessly regurgitating this kind of crap? Then again, why not? If the Herald can do it so can I. So here to perpetuate that farrago of clichés is a monologue I wrote a few years back (with a slightly freshened ending):
After being voted the city with the World’s best
Restaurants, location and lifestyle
Sydney had a quiet drink and
gave itself a modest pat on the back.
Then after a few more beers
Sydney loosened up and made a
rude little joke about Brisbane.
Adelaide and Perth smiled nervously
while Canberra said it was tired and going home.
But Sydney kicked on with some Martinis and Margaritas,
before heading off to snort coke in the dunny.
Sydney swaggered out and started doing tequila shots
and wolf-whistling at waitresses.
Then Sydney saw Melbourne quietly reading in a corner
And yelled across the bar:
hey Mel, ya big poof, ya readin’ ‘bout
how to pick up a root, or what?
Melbourne just gave a disdainful look
and went back to its book.
But Sydney continued: Hey Mel,
did you know the sun shines out my harbour?
Here, cop a look at Godzone!
At which Sydney leapt on a table
dropped its daks and flashed Melbourne a
blazing bright yellow eye.
Then Sydney started dancing on the table,
lewdly gyrating with its pants around its ankles
taunting Melbourne, saying
na na na na na! Sucked in Melbourne
you old drizzle-bound Goth
you Camus-cuddling wanker
you fossilised pile of snob dung.
You’re just jealous of my beautiful sun
and my beautiful harbour
and my beautiful bridge
and my big silicon hills
and botoxed beaches
and pectoral-pumped horizons
and the Sydney Swans beating you at your own stupid game …
All you got’s your poxy trams and flat-chested streets
and pigeon-shitty monuments to crumbling colonial boredom …
What’s that? Oh!, You had the Commonwealth Games?
Oooh, how Maaarvellous, darling!! …
Yeah, good on ya,
must have been fun watching that piss-poor flea-circus
huddled in your anorak-clad igloo
trying to warm yourself with your own pathetic
moussaka flavoured farts …
Oh, by the way, did you know that I, Sydney,
had the OLYMPIC GAMES –
GREATEST GAMES EVER! OI! OI! OI!…
Well, Melbourne just shook its head
finished its macchiato
and quietly got up and left.
And by now all the other towns had gone home as well,
even hardcore party towns like San Fransisco and Acapulco.
So the manager came over
and politely asked Sydney to please leave.
But Sydney just snarled ah, get fucked!
and had the manager re-developed.
Sydney used the manager’s blood to paint itself red -
drank more, smoked more, snorted more
dropped more pills
Went clubbing till six
then had an orgy with itself
before crashing round ten.
Sydney woke up pregnant
reproduced and became the World’s first
truly hermaphroditic city.
But then Sydney got too big and old and tired and fat
with constipation, bad circulation and blocked arteries.
Sydney de-hydrated, got asthmatic, obese
and finally collapsed in a blubbering, wheezing heap.
Sydney got carted off to re-hab
where they said: what seems to be the problem sir?
And Sydney screamed:
look, stop personifying me!
I’m not a person, okay!
I’m just a city with faults like anyone, okay!
So stop stretching this stupid bloody metaphor anymore, okay!
… but there is one little favour ya could do for me ...
reckon ya could hire Melbourne to do a hit on Keneally and O'Farrell
and feed their guts to the Greens?
Tuesday, March 15, 2011
Death’s been done to death in fiction, right from the start. From Homer’s Iliad, to Evelyn Waugh’s The Loved One, onto TV’s Six Foot Under, we can’t get enough of the stuff. Agatha Christie left us a trainload of corpses to eternally reanimate, and just how the hell anyone can possibly be still alive in the English county of Midsomer is a mystery worthy of Holmes. There’s a whole abattoir of crime fiction out there, and surely by now they must have run out of acronyms for all those cop/ambo/paramedic/forensic-dissection shows. We’re gagging on corpses and obviously love it, just so long as it’s all cosily enough removed so as not to present any real threat: don’t worry love, they’re only actors being clubbed, shot, sliced and diced. But surely there’s a market for something a little closer to the bone. We have an infestation of Lifestyle Programs, how about a Deathstyle Program - My Mausoleum Rules or Better Tombs and Funerals?
I got the notion recently while watching Better Homes and Gardens (I was at the loosest of ends). It struck me that the show, with all its chirpy gloss and easy-can-do-on-ya-mate camaraderie, was just one great big denial of death. Of course you could argue that getting out of bed in the morning is a denial of death, but something about this show, with its instant gratification fixation, its zippily edited footage of the buffed tradie dude showing you that, yes, even you can easily whip up a pagoda, wishing well and the Hanging Gardens of Babylon in your own backyard in an afternoon, rankled me. TV “teaches” us how to perform these and a whole slew of other wondrous feats - make pavlovas, buy houses - but the one thing we’re never taught is how to die. No, death is the elephant in the tomb. If you can’t say anything nice about Death, don’t say anything at all.
Don’t misunderstand me. I’m not looking forward to my trip over the Styx. It’s just that I think we could all benefit from a little more preparation to help ease the passage. When Dylan sang “I will not go down under the ground” it was about his refusal to ever enter a fallout shelter in the event of nuclear war. He could equally have been singing about our refusal to ever contemplate entering the grave.
My newsagent buddy Trevor told me of a man he knew who on his deathbed found the energy to start screaming “I DON’T WANT TO GO! I DON’T WANT TO GO!” Quite. I imagine compared to my own end his will seem a model of stoic dignity. As things stand, I’ll be praying, weeping and screeching with the best of them, thinking “If only I’d taken Pascal’s Wager!” which basically says it’s better to believe in god than not. If you’re right and there is a god, great, and if you’re wrong, so what?
Death needs to be made a more integral part of everyday life. The public cremations of Bali and India, and Parsees placing their dead on towers to be eaten by vultures are clean, green, in-your-face salutary lessons in death. We could adopt similar practices in Australia and have public cremations on footy fields before games, or leave corpses in shopping trolleys atop traffic lights for crows to eat.
Terrified or not, if I’m suffering unduly when my time comes I’ll definitely go the happy exit pill. Enlightened thinking on euthanasia has been around for longer than you might think. In his book of 1515 Utopia, Thomas More has a priest address a terminally ill citizen thus:
“Let’s face it, you’ll never be able to live a normal life. You’re just a nuisance to other people and a burden to yourself – in fact you’re really leading a sort of posthumous existence. So why go on feeding germs? Since your life’s a misery to you, why hesitate to die? You’re imprisoned in a torture-chamber – why don’t you break out and escape to a better world? Or say the word, and we’ll arrange for your release. It’s only common sense to cut your losses. It’s also an act of piety to take the advice of a priest, because he speaks for God.”
More goes on:
If the patient finds these arguments convincing, he either starves himself to death, or is given a soporific and put painlessly out of his misery. But this is strictly voluntary, and, if he prefers to say alive, everyone will go on treating him as kindly as ever.
Thomas More himself was euthanased, after a fashion. His boss, Henry the Eighth, cut off his head.
But to business: Our deathstyle show Better Tombs and Funerals would operate along similar lines to its famous lifestyle-orientated cousin. The buffed young tradie and his cheerful crew would rock up to the house of someone suffering a terminal illness. Let’s call her Miss Mortis. First a doctor gives a frank appraisal/prognosis of her condition, goes through her and her family’s medical history, her dietary habits and vices, explains to the viewers exactly how the tumour is ravaging her system, which organs it’s attacking and why, the kind of pain she’s in, how long she’s got, how common the condition is and how many people out there can expect to suffer the same fate. Next a priest/rabbi/imam or atheist councillor would sit down and discuss her afterlife outlook – was she a believer? Does she want to start believing/dis-believing now? This is what she can expect to meet beyond the grave; would she like a religious service; what form should it take … etc.?
Next the crew talk Miss Mortis through her coffin and plot options. They’ll craft and fit out a lovely casket and then find a home for it, anything from a humble-yet-dignified little patch in Rookwood Cemetery, to a marble mausoleum overlooking the ocean. Whatever your needs, taste and purse, they’ll build it and bring it in on budget. Meanwhile Miss Mortis chats with industry pros: funeral directors, grave diggers, crematorium technicians, morticians and embalmers. She works through pictorial catalogues of the kind of dress, makeup, hairstyle and expression she’d like to be left with, and talks about the venue, invite lists and kind of music she wants: “many of our clients opt for Nick Cave, though perhaps you’d prefer Gloria Gaynor’s I Will Survive?”
Once Miss Mortis croaks, a follow up program would show the actual moment of death, embalming process and funeral. As a last touch, we’d have “Crema” or “Coffin-Cam”, in which a camera captures her immolation and the pulverisation of her bones in a crematorium, or is placed in the casket with her so viewers can check in on the net every few months to see her state of decomposition.
Better Tombs and Funerals – It’s Mortality TV to take the sting out of death and put a spring in your step while you’re still around!
Saturday, March 5, 2011
Given that the Pope has just exonerated the Jews as collective Christ killers, I thought it'd be nice to dust off this oldie, from around the time Mel brought out his sensitive and considered Passion of the Christ
Now in the days of studio governor Harvey Winestain,
there came to Holy-wood a man
lead by his star,
and on the road to Burbank he had a vision
and his father Hutton spake to him saying
"Mel, why don't you make a serious film,
one that truly affirms our faith?"
"What?" said Mel, Mad Max 4,
Lethal Weapon 6 ... we've already
remade Vatican 2"
"No", said his father, "redo the Book,
The Greatest Story Ever Sold.
It's out of copyright, the script'll write itself
and with any luck we'll have
atheists picketing cinemas".
And the cocaine scales fell from Mel's hands
and his wine turned to mineral water
and he said "yeah! But we godda do it right, dad,
just like it was.
Forget those pharisees at Miramax,
I'll do it myself, with accuracy and truth.
Now the lead role of Jesus is obvious ...
Ah, c'mon dad! I warmed up for this in Braveheart.
Oh, alright. Now let's see.
This computer graphic shows
exactly what an Aramaic man
would have looked like 2000 years ago ....
stunted, bent, big nose ...
Christ! It's Woody Allen! Only uglier ...
Screw that. Find me a six-foot-four
lantern-jawed babe-magnet with
dazzling dentistry. That'll affirm the faith.
I mean what is truth anyway?”
"Oh yeah, and scourging,
I want lots and lots of scourging."
And it came to pass.
Mel's film was made
and all were astounded by its success.
On the third day his box office takings did rise
and he appeared before TV hosts
and spake saying:
"no comment. Leave my dad
and his big bigoted mouth out of it.
But I tell you this - beware false profits.
The true profit will be
well over the hundred million mark.
And that's before the miracle
of the videos and DVDs.
And for forty days and nights
Mel suffered a grueling round of
But he knew his critics were jealous
and plotting against him.
They tried to catch him out with questions:
"Mel, is it right that a man should
make a sanctimonious, self-aggrandising vanity project
backed by a cunningly orchestrated media campaign
of selective leaks and screenings,
beaten into a frenzy on the controversy and hype of
violence, blood-lust and anti-semitism -
not to mention a bogus stamp of approval from the Pope -
and then cloak it all in the guise of faith?
Isn't this film just boasting ‘my faith is bigger than yours?'"
But Mel knew the critics were out to trap him,
and so answered saying,
"the greatest commandment is to love one another ...
but this is personal,
so listen up sugar tits
if you don't shut your trap I'll twist your
guts on a stick,
stuff you and turn you into a punching bag."
He then spoke in parables about the days to come:
"Holy-wood's become a moral sewer.
I'd like to clean it up by remaking a few films,
like The Good, The Bad And The Eternally Damned,
and Gentiles Prefer Blondes
"But what I'd most like to make
is part two of this film - The Second Coming.
Trouble is I'll be the only one round to see it.
You're all going to the other place”.
Tuesday, March 1, 2011
All art basically boils down to one thing: you’re gonna die, or memento mori as those wily old wops the Latins had it. I don’t know much about death and even less about art, but how hard can it be? Tracey Emin’s messy bedroom, Damien Hurst’s pickled cows - making that stuff’s like shooting fish in a barrel with an Uzzi. You want an instillation? How about an exhibition of used nappies crucified to a gallery wall with titles like “forgive them father for they know not what they poo”. Stick a crucifix in anything, juxtapose it with something weird and offensive other than plain ole Jesus, give it a provocative title and wait for the acclaim. Take your pick - a gay leather Jesus, Jesus with a vagina, crucified Hitler, crucified Chihuahua, crucified television etc. and you’ve got an instant piece of avant-garde, cutting edge, in-your-face art. Rad, maaan!
These days I’m up to my neck in nappies, but over the years I’ve written a disturbingly large number of anti-baby poems and rants, like Inner-child Minding, which ends in me luring my inner-child and his inner-child mates into a kitchen blender and hitting the switch: “he mixes well with other children”.
It might have been inspired by the Mark Twain short story A Carnival of Crime in Connecticut, in which Twain’s character is tormented by a guilty conscience that materialises in the form of a malicious dwarf. He finally manages to catch the dwarf, rips it to shreds and gleefully embarks on a guilt-free crime spree. Check it out, it’s great!
I wrote a monologue about ten years ago called Newtown’s got a Baby Shop (and I’m not getting any younger). It was born from the shock of seeing a baby shop open in my artsy old ‘burb, and realising that this really did signify a cultural and demographic shift from libertine licentiousness to mum and dad money. My anti-baby output dried up about five years ago with the arrival of my son Rock [pictured]. Call me a wimp, but it might seem somewhat hypocritical to be frothing from stage about the baby plague when my partner Gini is at home with a kid leaching her boob.
People say stuff like “I bet having children has changed you. Kids must have given you a whole new perspective and loads of new material”. But no, not really. Apart from one or two little ditties I haven’t been inspired to write an avalanche of “all-new” soft Tug material. Besides, the world is serviced enough in the baby writing department.
What else might pass for art? Ears are fascinating. How about a photographic exhibition of ears in massive closeup? Or herd people into a blackened theatre and bombard them with a relentless soundtrack of belching, hacking and farting; or the wheezing breath of a terminal cancer patient juxtaposed with a purring kitten; or a sound instillation of titters, chuckles, chortles, snorts and guffaws, increasing in intensity all the way up to a laugh of screeching megalomaniacal lunacy, all backed by Ravel’s Bolero.
Or an instillation of volumetric representations of all the bodily waste expelled by a human over the course of an average life – a roomful of all the hair you’ve ever grown, piles of toenail and fingernail clippings, tankfulls of snot, semen, pee, poo, earwax and menstrual blood; a swimming pool of sweat. What does it mean? Who knows. But surely it could be somehow twisted into a statement on the human condition, and the ephemeral nature of life etc.
One of the most profound art instillations I saw was not really intended as art at all, which is the best kind. The Holocaust exhibition at the Imperial War Museum in London contained piles of discarded spectacles and shoes, some of the shoes very small. There’s something very poignant about shoes, and not just death camp shoes. The sight of my dad’s empty shoes laid neatly side by side at the bottom of the stairs can give me a funny little flutter in the guts. They somehow make me miss him even though he’s not yet dead.
Or how about this: a guy with a leafblower comes on stage and starts blowing around a crumpled ball of paper. Another guy with a leafblower joins him and they start blowing the ball of paper to each other. More leafblowers appear until we have twenty-two leafblower operators. They assemble into two teams, and, with the arrival of a ref on a ride-on mower, start playing a game of leafblower soccer. The ref starts systematically issuing red cards to the players who then have to shut off their machine and depart the stage. Finally we are left with just the original leafblower guy and the ref, who issues him not with a red card but the Ace of Spades. The ref departs leaving the original leafblower guy to shut off his machine. As the lights dim he falls into a state of despair and start howling like a wounded animal into the existential void. Again, a poignant comment on the human condition and man’s essential aloneness in the universe.
But to end where we began, let’s think babies. Specifically, a play directed by a baby. A spotlight comes up in a darkened theatre to reveal a baby in the middle of the stage. The direction of the play is dependant purely upon the baby’s actions – the direction it crawls in, which rattle it picks up or toy it decides to chew will guide the other actors, who take the stage to enact a standard kitsch’n’sync drama, or play of social mores, maybe something by David Williamson. If the baby picks up the red rattle then an actor has to get drunk. If the baby picks up a teddy the police arrive to conduct a drug bust. If the baby goes for an orange ball the actors have an orgy. The action continues in one particular vein until the baby changes toys, or crawls in a certain direction. The actors might drop the Williamson dialogue to tango, or crawl around grunting, get naked and put nappies on each other. If the baby starts crying they surround it and start performing in mime, or a minstrel show, or Three Stooges routine, or start in on Waiting for Godot. You’d also want to mount a video camera on the baby’s head to project its view onto a screen. The play doesn’t finish until the baby falls asleep, which means that while some performances might only last ten minutes, others could last four or six hours, or until the audience tires and leaves. The actors have three lifelines, in which they can hit an intervention button to bring on an enormous old Victorian-style wet nurse, who has a five-minute limit to suckle the baby, change it, wrap it up, give it a dummy and try to put it to sleep in a pram.
It would be a test for the actors and no two performances would be alike. I’m not sure where it sits ethically in the Cruelty to Baby Act, but it might be a nice early break into show biz. Anyone want to volunteer their kid for the first production? It pays union rates, and I think we might go with Macbeth.