By Hillel Aron
By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
By Hillel Aron
By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
"Oh, it’s packed," the woman in the sleek black dress is saying into her cell phone. "We totally, like, slipped them money and got in. Are you going to be up for a bit? [Pause] All right, okay, we’re almost done. He won’t share the couch with me, huh?"
OffBeat lingers in Gallery 2, listening to the crackle of headsets and inhaling the scent of a dozen perfumes. "I want to go to Legoland," a voice states somewhere nearby. "Legoland rocks," a deeper voice confirms. "If you know a kid who wants to go, I’d be so into that," a third voice chimes in. "There’s like Magic Mountain, Disneyland, Waterworld . . ."
O Vincent, what a crowd you drew tonight! You dreamed of fame, and baby, you got it. So many black leather jackets and Kate Spade handbags! So many bejeweled fingers and pierced noses! So many club kids! So many people in wheelchairs! So many people in pajamas! So many beautiful women to adore you! I bet Gauguin would be jealous! Half of these people haven’t even heard of Gauguin! Gauguin is nobody, man, he’s nothing! Two in the morning and hundreds of people are still lined up outside LACMA waiting to see you, on this, your final weekend in L.A. (In deference to the crowds, the museum kept the show open all night for the last two days.)
There will be more people at 4 in the morning, 5 in the morning, 6 in the morning . . . round the clock until the circus tent is dismantled and all the posters of your self-portrait are taken down from all the lampposts and you go back to your native Amsterdam. You’re the biggest show in town!
But hush. OffBeat is studying the melancholy late masterpiece Landscape at Twilight Obscured by 14 Heads and 12 Headsetsas a member of Intercon Private Security starts speaking into his walkie-talkie. "This is Gallery 5 Exit Door. I have three people here who have LACMA IDs. Are they allowed to videotape?" "Gallery 5 Exit Door, Gallery 5 Exit Door, this is 1022 Control. Please be advised they can go ahead . . ."
OffBeat moves on, back to Gallery 4 and van Gogh’s bedroom. "It’s so amazing to see the, like, real thing of that picture," a young woman says, tenderly resting her head on her boyfriend’s shoulder. "Yeah, it’s so amazing," he replies. And then, in unison, they both say: "It’s so amazing!"
OffBeat disagrees. OffBeat does not feel amazed at all. OffBeat feels like someone who has been invited to attend an art exhibition inside a beehive. Some lines from Eliot come to mind:I should have been a pair of ragged claws Scuttling across the floors of silent seas . . .
Some other lines come to mind also:In the room the women come and go Talking of, like, maybe Coolio.
And now it’s time for the gift shop, the inevitable ocean into which every river of art must drain. Here can be found the framed "self-portrait" posters stacked 20-deep against the wall, the van Gogh umbrellas and the van Gogh polyester shopping bags signed "Vincent." People are picking up van Gogh lunch boxes and paperweights and squinting at van Gogh refrigerator magnets and leafing through piles of van Gogh address books and van Gogh photo albums and looking for the van Gogh colored contact lenses that will turn their eyes as blue as a starry, starry night . . .
OffBeat does not purchase anything. Only the original entrance-ticket stub remains as a souvenir. On the back of the ticket is printed a long statement in small print, which reads in part:
The holder of this ticket assumes all risks and danger of personal injury and all other hazards arising from or related in any way to the event for which this ticket is issued, whether occurring prior to, during, or after the event including specifically (but not exclusively) the danger of being injured by hockey pucks, sticks and balls, other spectators or players or by thrown objects . . .
There is also an advertisement in the form of a question: "Could there possibly be a better time to say YES to AirTouch prepaid service?" OffBeat mulls this over for a while, and finally decides that there could not be a better time. The time is now.—Brendan Bernhard
CAN’T STOP THE RAIN
Fifteen years ago, if you had ventured forth in search of the most politically connected rainmakers in L.A., you’d have ended up in the Westside digs of Charles Manatt’s law firm — then, if memory serves, doing business as Manatt, Phelps, Rothenberg &Tunney (as in former U.S. Senator John Tunney). There, while senior partner Mickey Kantor lobbied for Armand Hammer’s oil wells and gave counsel to Tom Bradley, junior partners sallied forth to every Democratic (and the occasional Republican) fund-raiser in town. The high point of the Manatt firm’s tenure as Politics-Central came in 1984, when Manatt chaired the Democratic National Committee, while Kantor chaired Walter Mondale’s presidential campaign in California and a young associate named John Emerson chaired the California presidential bid of insurgent Senator Gary Hart. In a single suite of offices, then, you would have found the party chair and the campaign chairs of the party’s two leading presidential candidates.