In the past, whenever I was called an “asshole,” by exes or friends during their sincerest moments of non-rhetorical pity, I would silently disagree, with a kind of austere righteousness common in religious people. Today, at Safeway, I had a series of thoughts which made me realize that I have an asshole in me; that is to say, while I am not a “full blown” asshole at large, my personality suffers so. I was in the check-out line and noticed that the man in front of me had deformed hands. He took longer than usual in placing his items on the belt, and I found myself becoming very impatient. He was likely a veteran, and though I appreciate his contributing to our national well-being in a war in which he injured his hands, I simply wished that he existed elsewhere, in another line, that our fates had only intersected at my freedom. Behind me, a black woman was trying to contain her five kids (aged between 2 months and 14 years) with a verbal ebullience and decibel level common to her race. When I saw her holding food stamps, I sarcastically thought “fucking awesome,” imagining how nice it would be if the government paid for my food as well. “You’re welcome,” I thought, playing back years of income, property, and sales tax stripped from under me by a faggy socialist state. The eldest child, the 14-year-old, caught my gaze and lowered his eyes in embarrassment. I felt like an asshole when I saw how modest, how sad, their items were: milk, bread, eggs, and cheese. Meanwhile, our cashier here had a speech impediment, which I attributed to some mental retardation. “This is exactly why I shop at Whole Foods and not Safeway,” I thought, the latter being of more ghetto patronage. Outside, last night’s sticky piss turns rancid under the sun. The slurring cashier, perhaps over-compensating his cognitive deficiency with an attempt at some personality, engaged the deformed veteran with trite small talk about ham, which really fucking pissed me off. Why does this woman keep having children? Has she not heard of condoms or a calculator? What kind of grocery store hires retards? Did this man enjoy killing gooks in delusional patriotism? Karma is lovely. I found myself trapped in such thoughts, in the hell within myself convinced it was America, eyeing the wine and popcorn shrimp that I laid on the conveyor belt, now approaching their ultimate purchase. I swiped my card with ease, went home, and finished the wine and popcorn shrimp naked the way an asshole might do so alone on a Saturday while watching the entire third season of Curb Your Enthusiasm, whose asshole-y protagonist gets zero critique from me. I graciously laugh with him, never at him. I only hope you do the same. Thank you.
"Bad artists imitate, great artists steal," said Pablo Picasso, which Banksy carved into stone, scratching out the former’s name for his own. In a lateral piece, the latter posted street signs around New York City reading "Bad artists imitate, great artists get really really rich," as sponsored by a fictitious citibanksy; it wasn’t until such invocation that I considered the artist’s pseudonym as possibly being an art piece in itself, what Jeff Koons and Damien Hirst had likewise been pointing to: the church of commerce, that short of a Pope forcing one to lay on his back for an entire decade in order to paint a ceiling, we have the bank, to whom we quite never pay off our liturgical debts, habitually sprawling dreams under a glass ceiling.
That Picasso stole from Duchamp, despite the quote, does not make him a great artist. Ironically, one suspects that Picasso would have been mightily offended at being considered derivative of Duchamp. His father José Ruiz y Blasco, also a painter, famously gave up painting after Picasso completed his first ambitious work Science and Charity (1897), for which he, José, posed as a doctor. It shows a woman, presumably the mother, on her death bed. It seems, at just 15 years of age, he managed to kill off both his parents. From Hamlet’s father, to John Cage’s four-and-some minutes, to Monet’s glaucoma, if art is a conversation with ghosts, then may the greatest ones be barely visible, always in disguise, as if appropriating life itself as some seamless “readymade.” I saw a bike stripped of all its parts save for its frame. Thanks to the thieves, now the piece was complete.
I’m seated at a large table with an attractive waspy caucasian woman and her boyfriend, who I gather is Jewish by his hair, facial features, and quick demeanor. They caught my attention when he said “I’ll go if you want, but I’d rather not,” regarding a social event the former mentioned. He spoke this in an assertive tone, somewhat brittle with chronic patience, but not brash. “Don’t yell at me,” the woman exasperatedly said, which is something women tend to say even though the man is not yelling. The man, skilled at boyfriendhood, didn’t retort, but put on his headphones and began mildly moving his head. The woman’s hair was dyed from “dirty” blond to blond, a condition betrayed by the former’s roots growing from her scalp, as if defiantly asserting a slow deviation from the Aryans. As for the Jew, nothing could hide his diaspora, now typing elegant code into a Startup. When her breakfast burrito (a burrito fashioned with the constituents of breakfast items: eggs, sausage, cheese, etc.) arrived, all three of us meekly looked at its daft girth, ponderously folded and sagging on the plate. “Have half,” the woman said, in self-conscious loyalty to her diet. “It’s okay,” he replied, as both a direct answer and perhaps even some kind of existential placation offered to the world at large. She looked upset. They may argue about this at some point in their relationship. She will store this mild transgression for later. “It’s huge,” she said, which is when I smiled. That’s what she said, I considered saying, but instead imagined his meaty schlong buried deep inside her gentile grace.