by RIP RENSE
LTSEWH: RAP MUSIC, CRAP
Call them Less than Satisfying Encounters
with Humanity, or LTSEWH, for um, short. Only the names have been changed or omitted to
protect the insensate.
LTSEWH # 1: No Relaxstation
I dropped in at one of my favorite joints, a
postage-stamp-sized room called the "Relaxstation." They make a wonderful
"boba tea" there-- -cold tea with tapioca pearls, a Taiwan invention---and it's
a nice station in which to relax. Most of the time.
On one recent Saturday, better
to have renamed it "Tea and No Sympathy." Rap music thundered from a low
ceiling. I mean, it just throttled every square inch of quiet, and beat it to death. Music
The "lyrics" seemed to concern raping
and beating women, who were poetically referred to as "bitches." The colorful
descriptor beginning with the word, "mother," miraculously punctuated almost
every single "verse."
Now, I'm not one to tell people what I think of
their music, but when a young woman walked in with two little kids to get a couple of
"boba teas," I couldn't take it.
"Excuse me!" I said to a young guy
behind the counter whose spiky gold hair would have been rejected by the Three
Stooges. "That music---it-- -it---"
He leaned forward to hear better, so I shouted.
"WHEN LITTLE KIDS COME IN HERE, I DON'T
THINK YOU SHOULD PLAY MUSIC ABOUT WOMEN BEING RAPED, AND EVERY OTHER WORD IS
A customer in line stared at me in horror. What
would this madman do next? Ask for artificial sweetener? The guy behind the counter
quickly turned the music off.
"I didn't mean for you to turn
the music off---just change it to something else, maybe," I said. "That stuff
was full of dirty words and images of violence against women."
Spike-Hair nodded, and apologized.
"I didn't notice," he said.
LTSEWH # 2: Crappy Art
Now, I like art as much as the next guy---okay,
more than the next guy, who is forever railing at the NEA (often for good reason.) Besides, my
dad was an Art. But I draw the line at fecal matter. I know, I know---it's very
close-minded and unimaginative of me, but I just can't help it. Crap isn't art, although a
lot of art is crap.
There I was, at an art opening in Los Angeles
for an exhibit mysteriously called "Poodledoodle." This was in a pleasant
district of restaurants and knick-knack shops, inside a trendy used clothing store. I
dropped in on a lark, while out for an evening stroll.
The first thing I noticed was a series of
collages pasted to boxes---all manner of images. Not great art, but entertaining enough.
Headlines, clippings, funny faces, and. . .wait a second, was that a. . .picture of a. .
.toilet? And was the toilet full of, um. . .Why, yes! It was!
Talk about low art---this was lower G.I.
I moved on to another part of the
exhibit, as lots of merry, well-dressed young people milled about, drinking beer, and a
"D.J." spun records of "trance music" in the back. Here, arranged
neatly on a series of shelves, were some of the same artist's (her name was given simply
as "Patty") sculptures. Ladies and gentlemen, I kid you not---these were
stitched leather representations of human waste, each captioned according to the
"donor"---i.e. "Excretion of female college student night before
final," or something like that.
I turned to a young fellow next to me, who was
also examining the display.
"This whole exhibit is a bunch of
shit," I said.
The fellow found this so uproarious that he
introduced me to the artist, Patty herself, a lovely, demure young woman holding court at the far
end (so to speak.)
"Excuse me," I said, "Why did
you decide to focus on shit?"
"Well," she said thoughtfully, her
eyes glazing over, "it's really about recycling, and reusing things. Excretion is a
very important part of life. We all do it."
I thought about saying "we also all blow our noses," but I didn't want to give
her any ideas. She pointed to one of the collage-boxes, which was covered with pictures of
rabbits, and (you guessed it) glued-on rabbit droppings!
"Rabbits are amazing," said Patty.
"Did you know that they chew their own pellets?"
"Yes, yes, I know. They don't get the full
benefit of nutrition from the food on its first pass, so to speak. But why focus on this
subject? Why not uh, flowers?"
She rhapsodized more about
"recycling," noting that she hadn't used real rabbit droppings on her
collage---substituting tapioca pearls instead.
"They're good for excretion, too,"
I asked again:
"But what made you so interested in
"Sca. . .sca. . .what is that word?"
"Scatology. It means matters pertaining to
"Oh," she said. "Thank
The most amazing thing about it all was that
she was not even sponsored by the NEA.
For more LTSEWH's, watch this space.
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