August 20, 2011

"Some might think the blob-like fiberglass forms on Wendy Evans Joseph and Jeffrey Ravetch’s roof terrace look like Al Capp’s sweet-natured Shmoos."

"But for the couple and their landscape architect, Ken Smith, the voluptuous planters are whimsical abstractions of scholars’ rocks, the stones found in traditional Chinese gardens."

Shmoos*... philosophers... you may think there's not much difference.



Ravetch himself brought up the Shmoos... or I would have said that the NYT was wounding their egos, likening the things they like to think of as sophisticated to ridiculous cartoon characters. But Ravetch is in on the joke, and maybe traditional Chinese philosophers would be amused as well. And the couple seems to like a down-to-earth image:
The couple... envisioned a functional space where they could not only entertain friends and have barbecues with their family... but also wash the mud off their two golden retrievers after a weekend at their home in the Hudson Valley....

Mr. Smith... is known for juxtaposing artificial flowers and plants (not to mention things like chain-link fencing and crushed rubber) with grasses, trees and rocks. His rooftop garden for the Museum of Modern Art, visible to only people in the buildings overlooking it, for example, is what he calls “simulated nature”: boulders are hollow plastic, and the boxwood is plastic, too. But he has a deft way with real boxwood and grasses, as well as bamboo and magnolia.
Visible to only people in the buildings overlooking it... What?! Is there some cloak of invisibility blocking the view of golden retrievers?
______________________________

* Shmoos:
Cartoonist Al Capp was already world-famous and a millionaire in 1948 when he introduced an armless pear-shaped character called the Shmoo into his daily "Li'l Abner" strip. The unusual creature loved humans. A Shmoo laid eggs and bottles of Grade A milk in an instant, and would gladly die and change itself into a sizzling steak if its owner merely looked at it hungrily. Its skin was fine leather, its eyes made perfect buttons and even its whiskers made excellent toothpicks. Shmoos multiplied much faster than rabbits, so owning a pair of Shmoos meant that any family was self-sufficient. Of course the Shmoos proved too good for humanity's sake and therein was the basis for Capp's ultimate (and tragic) satire....
Come on! That's philosophy, no?

Buy Al Capp's "The Short Life and Happy Times of the Shmoo."

15 comments:

traditionalguy said...

The Tea Party is the revolt of the Shmoos.

Obama's communist ideology says the American middle class are their Shmoos to use perpetually.

But we revolted and that really makes Obama mad.

Shouting Thomas said...

Al Capp also created Joanie Phoney, a fictional character he used to satirize the sanctimonious prattling of Joan Baez.

Baez is almost as annoying an idiot as Jane Fonda.

Joanie Phoney turned out to be quite prophetic. Baez, the daughter of an MIT professor, is now infamous for going into a trance at her concerts and "channeling" a black female slave. She actually speaks in tongue, imitating black ghetto lingo!

ricpic said...

Do middle kingdom elite types look to western long noses for wisdom? Perish the thought. The reverse is a madness that only infects our best and brightest.

ricpic said...

Yeah, but Joan Baez had a lot more sex appeal than Jane Fonda...back in the day. Now she's gone all spiritual. The usual trajectory.

DADvocate said...

Is there some cloak of invisibility blocking the view of golden retrievers?

Not just golden retrievers, but all dogs. I remember the time my English Setter ran full bore into a huge rock in the park. It was invisible to her.

In the case of Lil' Abner, et al, I'd argue for sophisticated over ridiculous cartoon characters. Al Capp had a pretty clever cartoon going there.

EDH said...

What do Shmoos do when they gather together?

They schmooze.

pm317 said...

720 sq ft of terrace in the City.. Sure they have room to put these monstrosities.

Kirk Parker said...

"Come on! That's philosophy, no?"

Indeed. Walt Kelly had it, too.


WV: meme (yes, it really is; I swear I am not making this up!)

caplight said...

I think at one point during the Berlin air lift they dropped Shmoo dolls out of the cargo planes to lighten the spirits of the populace.

edutcher said...

If they were ceramic, it would have looked like Thanksgiving at WKRP in Cincinnati.

(as God is my judge, I honestly thought turkeys could fly)

Carol_Herman said...

GORGEOUS!

Lucius said...

You're not telling me Shmoo got killed, are you?!

I remember a Shmoo, I'm sure, from some cartoon on tv.

Shmoo can't die! Noooooo!!! . . .

Shmoo, I love you . . .

Robert Cook said...

These forms look nothing like Shmoos.

The writer was reaching, here.

Robert Cook said...

"Obama's communist ideology says the American middle class are their Shmoos to use perpetually."

More nitwittery from someone who cannot see.

Roy in Nipomo said...

I sure hope they view it as "art", because that's kind of pricy for a minimalist garden (“grasses, sedum, sedge and nice aromatic plants like lavender") in the “high five figures”.

I wonder how often the landscaper/ gardener comes by.