All of a sudden it’s fall. The air is different today than it was the rest of the weekend, even thought it’s still hot. It's as if the weather said, “Uh-oh, it’s Labor Day. Time to put away my white shoes. Time to remind people that it’s harvest time, even in a city where you can go to the beach nine months out of the year, even for girls who didn’t go at all this year and who wear jeans and T-shirts year-round, who don’t own any white shoes except the vinyl go-go boots their girlfriends forbid them to wear in public.”
Saturday, back when it was still summer, one half of The Erins visited us (Erin’s wife, Erin, opted for a mellow solo weekend at home in Berkeley). Like Daisye and Yoshiko, The Erins are one of those great couples who’ve been together a really long time and have certain personality parallels with B and I—although The Erins make it to the gym a lot more than B and I, and have more friends—so I look to them as role models/relationship barometers. Pressure’s on, ladies.
Last time B was in the Bay Area, she and Erin went to SFMOMA, so we had to prove LA had art too, even if it wasn’t in the shiny silver building that Erin naturally gravitated to. After empanadas and fish tacos at Grand Central Market, we hiked up the hill and around the construction, bypassing Disney Hall, to the Basquiat exhibit at MOCA.
Sometimes I feel like I’m supposed to look at art in a certain way, even though I know the world is full of artists making art that challenges the way we look at art, etc., etc. MOCA was full of these types of creatively dressed people, whispering little Basquiat facts to each other. But Erin wanted to know just what drugs Jean-Michel was on when he did some of his paintings, a legitimate question in my opinion, and when I watched the video footage of him lamenting the cult of personality in the art world, I couldn’t help thinking what a hottie he was. So sweet and articulate, with crazy cartoon hair that looked sort of like Disney Hall.
I had a lot of questions about process; I felt like those were more legit, though they mostly went unanswered. Like, did he do tiny little sketches knowing he would photocopy them and use them as wallpaper for a big painting of a crown and a guy who looked like Homer Simpson? Or did he just sketch to sketch and take it from there? I found myself wanting to go home and paint or draw or glue, which might be an egotistical thing to think, or it might be exactly what all those creatively dressed artists want to inspire.
When Erin stood in front of an aqua-blue painting of six dudes with spiky hair and haloes, in her exact-same-aqua-blue T-shirt, we decided we needed to find her a halo and punk out her hair and do some kind of, like, meta-art.
I’m sort of blind, and while Basquiat painted nice and big, I kept getting in trouble for standing too close when I tried to read the captions on the walls. B sweetly defended my honor to the security guards: “I think you know she’s not trying to cause any trouble.”
There was a computer where you could make your own art and save it for other museum visitors to see. Really it was just the “paint” program you find in the “accessories” menu of every computer. I was inspired by Basquiat’s use of fried eggs (as content, not medium), so I drew a scribbley picture of fried eggs with the mouse. I couldn’t figure out how to save it, so I inadvertently made a commentary on the fleeting nature of fried eggs and, of course, life itself.
We finished the day at Roscoe’s House of Chicken n Waffles, where we ate next to a print of a shirtless black man in a stylish hat, leaning on a strapping black horse in a lush forest. It made me think about how oddly non-sexual Basquiat’s work can be, even when he paints words like “clitoris” and “eroica” (I’m not sure what the latter means, but it sounds sexual). Then we watched the DVD of the movie Roscoe’s House of Chicken n Waffles; when we bought it (I know, but it was on sale, and we love waffles), we hoped it would be so-bad-it’s-good, but it was just regular old bad. Way too many characters, no real plot, gags that had nothing to do with what little plot there was—all narrative crimes I’ve committed myself, but I wasn’t feeling sympathetic.
The next morning Erin and I went jogging. I gave her a tour of the neighborhood: Wendy’s, Starbucks, lavanderia, campus, unexpected street fair. She kept an eye on her stopwatch and intuitively monitored her heart rate. The Erins know about things like heart rate. After explaining the mechanics of a beer bong to nerdy B and me, she went off to a real party with one of her grad school friends. A good weekend, and now it’s fall.