19 August 2006

That #*^$@&%#@ Cube

Many of my New York friends get a kick out of my near-irrational antipathy for the piece of abstract art, generally known as "The Cube," that has been rather pointlessly hanging about in Astor Place since my own days as an annoying, stoned-out, St. Mark's Place hippie scrounger back in 1968.

To be fair, The Cube is not completely pointless; it's provided endless hours of amusement to several generations of stoned and drunk hippies and punks who've sat at its base, gaped upward at it, and in their more energetic intervals, spun it around on its axis. Alternatively, on those occasions when the axis jammed and The Cube would turn no more, they could ponder whether it had actually ever turned, or if they had merely hallucinated the experience.

But just what when I had begun once more to make my peace with The Cube, I chanced upon a plaque installed at its base. The thing, it turns out, is not called The Cube after all, but The Alamo. The Alamo? What the hell does the Alamo have to do with a pretentious, pointless piece of "sculpture" that somebody hornswoggled the City into acccepting as a "donation?" I donate pieces of junk to the City every week via my trash can, but nobody feels compelled to set them up in the middle of a heavily traveled intersection. When I think of the Alamo, I think of Mexicans and massacres and Davy Crockett, not big black steel boxes. And speaking of which, before it was renamed "Alamo" (by the artist's wife, moved by its "imposing size and impenetrable strength;" unfortunately for the Texans slaughtered there by Santa Ana, the original Alamo was slightly less impenetrable than the #*^$@&%#@ Cube), the Astor Place Monstrosity was called "Sculpture In Environment."

You want to know how lame it is to have to name your alleged sculpture "Sculpture"? It's like painting a picture and titling it "Art." Obviously you're concerned that if you don't tell somebody that it's supposed to be sculpture, some untutored doofus will leap to the obvious conclusion that it's nothing but a big black box.

But no sense stewing about it now. The City has just splashed out $37,000 on restoring The Cube to its original non-existent glory, and it will probably be with us for centuries to come. The best we can hope for is that more people like these folks will periodically apply themselves to redecorating it. Ideally with Harry Potter's Invisibility Cloak.

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