memorial day malaise

A Young Man in Curlers at

Home on West 20th St. NYC

–Diane Arbus, 1966

Actually, I spent most of today being creative. If I wasn’t writing, I was learning about databases for yet another website I’m working on. Sara was supposed to call me about trying to get over to LACMA again for the Diane Arbus exhibit. But by six o’clock, she hadn’t called me or returned my calls, so I drove on down there myself to investigate. I was a little tipsy, having had half a bottle of Weston Chardonnay, so I didn’t mind so much going by myself. I tried calling Jules back, but she had said she was ‘cueing with friends, so I wasn’t surprised when she didn’t answer. I parked, plunked down my $12 and slipped into the gallery.

LACMA in the evening.

Arbus’s stuff is witty, honest, and often, more than a little disconcerting. The exhibit was nicely spread out over the length of her career, and great care was taken to present some of her personal journals, artifacts and photos. Unfortuantely, as it was a holiday and also the final day of the exhibit, the smaller rooms were dense and thick with people. That always gives me the heebies, so I stuck to the photographs.

In the front room later, buying a set of Diane Arbus pencils for Sara as a consolation prize for missing out on the exhibit (where was she?) I overheard the cashier telling someone that Diane’s husband, Allan Arbus is an actor and played a psychiatrist in M*A*S*H. A litte light bulb went off in my head. I knew that actor! I remember him from way back. In fact I got a couple weird looks when I spoke up and said that he was also in From The Hip and Crossroads (the one with Ralph Macchio, not the one with Britney Spears.) I had never made that connection before. I even knew his name was Arbus, but I’d just never clicked. He’s been in other stuff, of course, but come on. From The Hip? Nothing as good as that. Ever.

Allan Arbus in M*A*S*H.

Strange, the stuff onto which I latch.

Before leaving the gift shop, I couldn’t resist asking the two clerks there if they’d seen a Space Invader in the vicinity. According to our map, there’s supposed to be one at LACMA, but my brief canvass of the area had turned up nothing. They gave me blank looks, but I’d warned them that the question I was about to ask was weird.

So I left the gift shop, crossed the open courtyard and ran into Witt. I knew Witt ran the gift shop at LACMA. I even thought I might run into him there someday, but it was a nice surprise to see him. We said our hellos and our what the heck are you doing heres and such and then of course I had to ask him, “Have you seen any Space Invaders anywhere around here?”

I found myself explaining, once again, just what the hell this Space Invader obsession is all about–that there are these mosaics all over town and that this artist who calls himself Invader creates them, and that his real name is Frank and that he’s from France and that he’s kind of a guerilla aritst like Shepard Fairey…

“Did you say Shepard Fairey?”

Witt tells me that Shepard Fairey just finished decorating a Vespa for the museum. Would I like to see it? Hell yes. So we sweep back through the gift shop and he introduces me to the same people who edged away from me in suspicion just moments before. Then we descend into the bowels of the museum so he could show me this:

a Vespa decorated by artist Shepard Fairey

a Vespa decorated by artist Shepard Fairey

It’s a pretty amazing piece of work. Witt expects it to fetch in the vicinity of $10K. That’s lower than I would have thought. So I snap some pictures. We chat some more. He promises to get us some VIP tix to some upcoming events and then he sends me on my way with a copy of the Diane Arbus program (a massive $100 hardbound tome that I had drooled over in the gift shop) and a suggestion to check the parking garage for my Space Invader.

You know what? He’s right.

Sara finally calls. She woke up in a bad mood that she was never able to shake. That’s okay, I tell her.

I have a book.

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