January 17, 2009

As Andrew Wyeth slips away into the next life, the blogging cockroach waves a poetic antenna.

Yesterday's post marking the death of the popular painter lured the little insect — who's very popular around here — out of the woodwork and onto the keyboard:
you know i have this human soul
and i can still remember last time
before i was reborn as a cockroach
i was a 12 tone composer and music professor
at a 3rd rate state u but now i live near harvard u
which is probably comeuppance for my last life
anyway when i was in a human body
and believe me i was in as many female
grad students human bodies as i could be
which may be one reason i m a cockroach now
i remember that only abstract expressionism
would do over at the art dept
just like only 12 tone or serial music was
if you were a composer and no matter what
you had to like it if you were a serious modern
person at all but i don t think that applied to
cockroaches which is one benefit of my current status
yes abstract expressionism and serial music went
hand in hand at the college of arts and god
help you if you had any other ideas i know i sure didn t
so if you were a studio art student and painted
an actual picture of something you might as well
have composed a piece of music in g major
oh the shame

abstract expressionism and 12 tone music also
had a lot of trendy leftish ideas stuck to them
like mold on an overripe fruit ready to drop into
somebody s hands except if you were
an old fashioned communist you had a problem
cause stalin liked mickey mouse and minuet in g
and zhadinov would send you to siberia for
bourgeois formalist tendencies if you thought
jackson pollock or anton webern were cool
ah the rat maze of politics and art
except most of the rats i know these days
are smarter than that which is another problem

bourgeois was the catch all epithet
used against art like andrew wyeth s
i bet you thought i d never get to the point
and i ve got to tell you i still get a little queasy
at christina s world because it was part of the air
i breathed that stuff like that was stupid
and sentimental bourgeois illustration
dark and humorless as it is
i remember this visiting french art professor
and several of us going to a wyeth exhibit
in town for a good laugh
except he was a little dark and humorless himself
and used to puff his cigarette between his thumb
and forefinger with his hand turned toward his face
and say ah you amerwicains you are so bourgeois
you theenk a fire burning in ze fireplace is expressif
what is expressif is a fire burning ze house down
i think he was a structuralist
he would sit in his cafe on the rue de bac thinking
and then amble over to the universite and teach
for which the republique francais paid him enough
to sit in a cafe on the rue de bac in paris thinking
i was luckier because the state u where i taught
paid me enough to not have to think at all

no tenure for poor wyeth and no cafe sitting either
he had to paint pictures and gasp sell them
so the non trendy ignorant bourgeoisie
could gape at them not understanding
the slightest thing about art
except you can see the grass blades
oh the shame

14 comments:

John Burgess said...

I thank the cockroach for an amusing, if bitter, start to a cold Saturday. Ah, truth...

Bob said...

Frank Zappa gave a lecture about the rigid orthodoxies imposed at art and music schools, it can be found in his autobiography The Real Frank Zappa Book and is titled "Bingo! There goes your tenure!" By Zappa's time the music orthodoxy was minimalism rather than 12-tone.

Hazy Dave said...

Well done, sir cockroach. I enjoyed this turn of phrase:

... You Amerwicains you are so bourgeois, you theenk a fire burning in ze fireplace is expressif, what is expressif is a fire burning ze house down."

I think he was a structuralist.

ricpic said...

I wonder, did anyone call you Andy?
Your dad, N.C., most likely,
And maybe your son, Jamie...after he'd grown.
Your wife most likely had a special intimate name for you.
To the world you were Mister Wyeth, very formal, very grand.
But inside, inside you were always Andy:
A boy on his bike, gliding down the road; a kid in a coonskin cap
Or wearing a pumpkin on his head;
Wondering at the look of pinecones on the ground
In the shadow of big black pines;
Stunned by moonlight as it slides across dog's fur;
Harrowed by the blankness and bleakness of whitewashed concrete walls;
Mesmerized by meat-hooks and the hooking shadows they throw;
Imagining yourself a hawk and capturing Chadds Ford in a hawk's eye-view:
Stunned, stunned by the harrowing wondrous world to the end.
Goodbye, Andy.

Lawgiver said...

Great post. In your honor I will ban the cockroach eating geckos from my back patio for one month.

Jim said...

My daughter is completing a double Masters program in music and I have never heard her say anything about an imposed orthodoxy.

There is plenty of that weird edgy music around, but there is more Mahler and Beethoven, etc.

Great composers are viewed pretty reverentially regardless of era.

Maybe students of theory and composition run into more trendiness than those majoring in performance and ensembles.

Jim said...

P.S. I love the roach.

Mark O said...

e.e. cockroach. Dude.

Seneca the Younger said...

Jeez, that's really good.

David said...

Pretty good, roach. But work on the brevity if you can.

Christy said...

I sit in awe. Thank you, Blogging Cockroach.

bearbee said...

Charming as usual but I am curious how you manage to depress keys when typing. Are you a typical lightweight house roach or one with a bit more heft?

Some passionate 12 tone to warm you on this frigid day.

Jacob said...

Archy lives!

Kev said...

Maybe students of theory and composition run into more trendiness than those majoring in performance and ensembles.

This is almost certainly the case at the large music school where I got my degrees--the avant-garde was emphasized at the expense of nearly everything else in the composition department, which was one of the reasons I chose other fields of study within music (I happen to think, among other things, that there are still plenty of good things that can be done with our original twelve notes).

And once again, an amazing post by the cockroach.