Friday, June 29, 2012
Richard Britell June 29, 2012
304. But before I can tell you what happened to the old man at the hospital I have to get him there first, and I ran into problems right away. First I did not know the way and promptly got lost by making a wrong turn.
305. Also my old car, the 2CV which was always so reliable picked that critical moment to develop a knocking sound in the engine.
306. Out in the middle of nowhere, on a road that was not even paved, I pulled the car over and opened the hood.
307. My worst fear was being low on oil, and sure enough when I pulled out the dipstick there was not a drop of oil on it. Imagine my distress. I simply could not drive the car with a knocking sound and no oil, but meanwhile Buboni was dying in the front seat.
Thursday, June 28, 2012
Richard Britell June 28, 2012
300. A note to anyone reading these texts. When I started this story of my drive around southern France, I posted pictures that went with my story, such as the one above showing my car, the 2CV. I was also posting pictures of the places I stopped and the interesting things I saw. But after I picked up the Duck he volunteered to choose all the pictures saying, "Your stuff is too dumb, let me do it for you." So the Duck took over the pictures.
301. So the Duck was doing the pictures, and then we picked up Buboni, and since then they have been doing the pictures together. Now, low and behold, I take a look and I see that they have been playing all sorts of tricks on me and putting up all kinds of crazy images which have no connection to the story I am telling. Look up there, what is a picture of Stalin doing in this story? This could be aggravating to people.
302. So I asked the Duck, "Why the picture of Stalin?" And this is what he said. "Back in section 168, you were talking about how I went to the monastery to get my legs made the same length, and so I put up the picture of Stalin, because Stalin had one arm too short, and he was schooled in a church school like a monastery to be a Priest, it's perfectly obvious to me what the connection was, anyone would see it, and that goes for the above also."
303. This is what it is like dealing with the Duck with his perpetual memory, and complicated way of thinking. I told him that in the future we would have to put some notes of explanations sometimes, and perhaps some links, and since you can't put links on Pinterest, they would have to be on the blog. Meanwhile, if anyone wonders what some of these pictures mean, just ask, and I will try to find out, and I am sure Buboni will help once he is better.
Wednesday, June 27, 2012
Richard Britell June 27, 2012
296. I feel very bad spending so much time telling you about my trivial concerns with the plasters casts of the manhole covers, and in the meantime poor old Buboni was there in the front seat of the 2CV dying of cholera. I am sure you want to know what happened to him.
297. I am going to tell you outright that Buboni did not die. It all happened only just a few days ago, and I want to put your mind at rest about this, because I know you are concerned about him, just as I was.
Tuesday, June 26, 2012
Richard Britell June 26, 2012
292. I was so upset about this I called Mrs. Festini at home the next day, but she know all about it. "You're not thinking", she said, "only the mold is reversed, when you pull out the cast it will be right reading."
293. "Just consider", said Festini over the phone,"the face you see in the mirror every day is reversed and it doesn't bother you, you never notice it, and when you see someone you know reflected in a window you would never even notice the face is reversed unless they had a license plate attached to their forehead, then you would see it instantly."
294. "Because a license plate is so much more important than a person's face isn't it Mr. Bartlesby," she said.
295. That was Mrs. Festini being sarcastic again.
Richard Britell June 25, 2012
288.I suppose, being a policeman on a night route, and having nothing to do, having someone to talk to was interesting for him. I would work on my mold making and he would stand behind me and ask questions, one after another.
289. Bob, that was the policeman's name, wanted to know a lot of things. "Will it be bronze when it is done? How does the mold stay flat when you put the plaster in? Is it heavy when it is finished"? Bob was full of questions but I could tell he was not really interested because he never listened to my answers, he was just killing time.
290. One night he was there when I pulled the latex mold up from a manhole cover and he was very interested to see the result. I turned it over and showed it to him by the light of the street lamp. "This is interesting," he said, "look at the letters, they are all backward, don't you think it will look odd if the lettering is backward?" he wanted to know.
291. I was stumped and confused, it never crossed my mind that the mold would be all backward looking, and I didn't know what to say. "I'll have to ask Mrs. Festini about this right away", I said. I had to put my project on hold for a time till I figured things out. I tried to remember if my hand was backward when I cast it in plaster, was it a left or a right, I didn't know.
Sunday, June 24, 2012
Richard Britell June 24, 2012
284. In our art room at the museum were some art journals and from the pictures in those magazines I got a feeling for what was bothering my art teacher, but for her to say the exhibits were intended to make people feel stupid was going to far. It certainly looked peculiar to me, but they must have had their reasons, I'm sure.
285. Anyway, I took Mrs. Festini's advice and started to go out late at night to make plaster casts of manhole covers and sewer grates. The first night I painted the latex mold material onto a manhole on a side street, and on the next night it was cured and ready to be removed.
286. I made many molds this way. A policeman did stop me and asked what I was doing but I did not take Mrs. Festini's advice, I just said it was an art project for a museum art class, and I did it at night so as not to be disturbed.
287. The same policeman drove that neighborhood every night and he invariably stopped to see how I was doing and how my project was coming along.
Saturday, June 23, 2012
280. Mrs. Festini said, "If anyone asks you what you are doing just say it is an project for an art exhibit at a Museum, as soon as they hear that they will go away and leave you alone, you will see". "And why would that be Mrs. Festini"? I asked.
281. 'Because art exhibits in museums make most people feel stupid and ignorant so they want to get away from such things as soon as they possibly can. As a matter of fact, any exhibit that does not make ordinary everyday people feel ignorant and stupid is hardly worth anything, take my word for it." she was in a bad mood when she said that.
282. What Mrs. Festini said could not have been true, but I could tell she was going through a difficult time ever since her still life painting had been rejected from the museum show by the curator from Detroit.
283. After the rejection of her painting she started to make frequent trips up to Detroit to see art exhibits in galleries up there, and after each trip she would be in an angry mood. She felt that her paintings would never be in a Museum because they only wanted bad art. I don't know what she was looking at up there, I have never been to Detroit.
Friday, June 22, 2012
Richard Britell June 22, 2012
276. I got together all my equipment and I went to the cover I had picked out, but couldn't go through with it. I was sure that if anyone saw me casting a manhole cover they would think I was crazy.
277. On Saturday I told Mrs. Festini about my problem; how I wanted to cast the man hole cover in plaster but couldn't because I felt too self conscious.
278. In the art room there is a book shelf with a collection of art books and she got down a book on an artist named Albert Ryder. She read the part in it that explained how Albert, to get ideas for his paintings would go out walking all night long, and would 'Soak up the moonlight' to use in his work.
279. What Mrs. Festini was suggesting was that I make the cast in the middle of the night when there was nobody around to bother me. Going out all night for your art work must have been fine for Mr. Ryder, but I still felt odd about doing it.
Thursday, June 21, 2012
Richard Britell June 21, 2012
272. Before I tell you what happened to Buboni at the hospital I feel I should go back and explain what I said about myself in part 251. It was true that I was out walking in the middle of the night, but I want to tell you how it came about.
274. I had succeeded with the cast of my hand, and had also made a cast of my foot but now I was trying to think of something more interesting. On my walks I was noticing all of the interesting shapes in the road and got the idea to make a cast of one of them.
275. I considered casting a sewer lid, and a sewer grate, and also those square metal covers over electrical connections in the sidewalk. I considered casting a form of the stamps the masons use in the sidewalk, but I made up my mind to do one of those big round steel plates that cover electrical terminals in the road, the ones about 3 feet wide with all the embossment and lettering.
273. At first I went walking after dinner, and at the time I was often lost in thought about what was so important to me back then, making plaster casts for my sculpture class.
Richard Britell June 21, 2012
Wednesday, June 20, 2012
Richard Britell June 20, 2012
Tuesday, June 19, 2012
260. I was becoming anxious to be on our way. The reader may remember after all this time, that my purpose was to drive across the Alps and down into Italy in search of artifacts to make molds and casts from, but I had been sidetracked by the desire of the Duck to visit the monastery. Not only had we visited the Shrine, but his purpose in coming here had seemingly been fulfilled with the miracle of his legs being the same length.
261. And you also know that I did not think any "miracle" had taken place, it was just a matter of perception and expectation on the part of the Duck. Since our business at the shrine was concluded I was getting ready to depart, but the Duck begged me to remain just through lunch with the Abbot. What that Duck's motive was soon became clear, he wanted to pump the Abbot for more information about the Nigerian, and that is just what he did.
262. Over lunch the Abbot told the Duck what he had been able to find out about the Nigerian. The first and most important fact about him was that he was a French citizen because his mother was a French woman who had married a wealthy Nigerian banker. Shortly after the marriage the husband and wife moved to Lagos, where they lived in style until the boy was about five at which time both mother and father were killed in a plane crash.
263. At this point in the story Buboni let out a low groan, and the Duck adjusted his posture in a way indicating great skepticism, but the Abbot corrected them immediately. "No No No", he said, "it is not some e-mail scam involving unclaimed funds in a Nigerian Bank, please, we my live in a remote world, but we know all about that sort of thing." There are no millions in an account, but their was a trust fund which paid for his education in a Nigerian religious institution.
Sunday, June 17, 2012
Richard Britell June 17, 2012
256. "You mean to tell me," exclaimed the Duck, "the itinerant Nigerian man who was selling the fake handbags in front of the Shrine is a brother of the Monastery?"
257. "Not exactly", responded the Abbot. "He showed up about a year ago and asked for lodging for the night. He was in such a tattered condition we could hardly refuse. In the morning he made himself useful by tidying up the kitchen and weeding the garden before the brothers came down for breakfast. He does not really speak French, and knows just a little English, but the amazing thing about him is, he knows the King James version of the Bible practically by heart."
258. "He uses mostly quotes from the Bible to communicate with us, and to this day we can't be sure if he understands what he is saying or not, or if it is something like a parrot repeating things he has heard over and over. Regardless of his handsome physical appearance and physical strength, we think he may actually be a little..." Here the Abbot fell silent. He was about to imply the Nigerian was slow, but he was reluctant to actually say it.
259. The business of selling the fake hand bags began shortly after his arrival, but we have, I must admit, ignored it because he is so useful to us in so many ways, with all the heavy work that must be done day and night in an establishment like this. For some reason he has always been terrified of the local police, and has run off like this on more than one occasion.
Richard Britell June 16, 2012
252. Buboni wanted to depart from the monastery but the Duck wanted to make another visit to old Frangeopani before we left. The Abbot sent his boy to enquire if the old man was receiving visitors. He soon returned to say, that anyone could come who wanted too, but the old man was deeply upset about some things that had happened during the night.
253. The children from Dannersville had struck old Frangeopani again during the night. Not content with bombing him with water balloons now and then and nailing his chain to the tree while he was asleep, they had snuck up in the night and painted the words "God Loves You", in giant letters on the side of his shack. The old man's first impulse was to just paint it out as he had all the other stupid thing they had painted on his shed but...
254. How was a devout old man to paint over the words "God loves you", obliterating a thought so close to his heart. The children with the infallible accuracy of naive intelligence had struck him in his sorest spot, his vanity. Frangeopani was one of those who believed that God loved him an extra special amount. But he was loth to broadcast this idea by way of a shed billboard to the entire Monastic community. The text could even be seen from the highway a quarter mile from his shack.
255. This would have been no problem for him if his assistant had been around. Frangeopani had a helper who came every afternoon and helped him with his rewriting of Scriptures. The assistant would have taken care of the defacement and graffiti on the shed as he always had in the past. His assistant had disappeared the day before, he was none other than the Nigerian. So explained the Abbot's boy to us, as we debated what to do next.
Friday, June 15, 2012
Richard Britell June 15, 2012
249. The contents of the refrigerator, on view to Bernice's inquiring eye only confirmed her diagnosis. The thing had to be moved, but it also had to be emptied and steam cleaned. No more baloney, no more Miracle Whip, no more bacon and eggs, iceberg lettuce or Pepsi. All that seems so long ago now, that period of starvation, and the inconvenience of having to put the refrigerator down in the cellar so it faced in the correct direction.
250. All of those changes did not make things better at home for me. I tried my best to go along with the changes in my diet. I also began to exercise regularly, for the first time in my life. I would go for a long walk after dinner, sometimes for up to two hours. At first I went out about seven, but I took to going out later and later for my constitutional, and toward the end I would be out from two till six in the morning.
251. I had retired, I had nothing to do. I was sixty-four, and was living like a tortured prisoner in my own house. I thought to myself, "What if I live to be eighty-eight? My God, twenty four years of watching television and eating sprouts and tofu?" For the first time in my life I began to hate living, and then I started taking the sculpture class. Mrs. Festini, she was my salvation. But you don't want to know about all this, I'm sure.
248. Bernice explained that if the refrigerator was placed where it was it meant that one was facing west when one opened the door. West is the direction of the setting of the sun, so obviously opening the refrigerator door was inviting death into the kitchen. The object had to be placed so that one looked east when the door was opened.
Richard Britell June 14, 2012
244. The reason I was acquainted with Feng Shui is because of my wife's friend Bernice, she is an expert, and teaches a course in it at the Museum where I was taking the sculpture class from Mrs. Festini. My wife invited Bernice over to the house to have a look at the layout. She felt that the bad Feng Shui of the house was the reason my wife and I were not getting along.
245. Bernice did not come right out and say it was the reason for the trouble between me and my wife, and as far as I know, there wasn't any trouble except for her objecting to my taking the sculpture classes on Saturday, from Mrs. Festini. She went through our house from top to bottom and her suggestions amounted to nothing short of tearing the whole house down and starting from scratch.
246. It was very odd the way that Bernice did not seem to understand that reconstruction was not an option. She felt the problems were so obvious, and the solutions so beneficial, that only an ignoramus would be raising objections. First of all the house faced the wrong way and was not tall enough for its width. Her husband had torn down their house twice already, so perhaps that is why she did not view it as an obstacle.
247. When I finally was able to convince her that I could not tear down the house, she said there were some things I had to do to get things going in the right direction. First was the front door, it had to be painted blue immediately, this was no problem. Then we had to find a different place for the refrigerator. The refrigerator was set in such a way that one was facing west when one opened the door.
Wednesday, June 13, 2012
Richard Britell, June 13, 2012
Tuesday, June 12, 2012
Richard Britell June 12, 2012
236. I neglected to mention, Buboni was not with us at breakfast with the Abbot. He was indisposed because of a series of misfortunes that seemed to have attacked him during the night. Something he ate disagreed with him, and he was up over and over again with trips to the bathroom in the dormitory.
237. On his fifth trip to the bathroom there was a commotion at the top of the stairs, and then a sound for a few seconds like someone drying cinder blocks in a clothes drier. The sound, apparently, was Buboni falling down the dormitory stairs. After that he seemed to be able to get some sleep, but in the morning he went off to the Monastery's infirmary.
Monday, June 11, 2012
Richard Britell June 11, 2012
232. In the morning we had breakfast with the Abbot, and then we made another visit to the Shrine. To everyone's amazement we discovered the finger had been restored to the reliquary, and the crystal panel had been repaired and replaced.
233. "Thank God the precious finger has been restored", said the Abbot, "But what do you suppose has happened to the duck excrement that spent the night in the reliquary?"234. "Listen," said the Abbot, "billions and billions of duck excrements have been produced throughout history, and yet, only one has spent the night in Simon Agonisties, reliquary. Do you really think for one instant this is a meaningless coincidence?"
235. The Abbot continued, "Association is the key to spiritual power. The wood of the true cross has power because of its proximity to the Savior. This duck excrement may not be able to raise the dead, it may not be able to cast out devils, but you can be sure it will be capable of some pretty astounding accomplishments!"
"Who would care about that?" I said.
Sunday, June 10, 2012
Richard Britell June 10, 2012
228. Buboni's last blog post was a quote from Dante's Inferno, Canto I:
Midway upon the journey of our life
Midway upon the journey of our life
I found myself within a forest dark,
For the straightforward pathway had been lost.
Ah me! how hard a thing it is to say
What was this forest savage, rough, and stern,
Which in the very thought renews the fear.
So bitter is it, death is little more;
Richard Britell June 9, 2012
Friday, June 8, 2012
Richard Britell June, 8, 2012
Thursday, June 7, 2012
Richard Britell June 7, 2012
216. The fact that this Raphael painting was the one that Buboni credited with being at the origin of his Destructivist theory would not have mattered so much except that it had become for him the signature anecdote of his speaking career. He loved to relate this story, dwelling on his humility relative to the pious old woman.
217. As the years went by this Raphael painting according to his descriptions became more and more exceptional, until it seemed that Buboni was going to exhaust the Thaursus' substitutions for the word beautiful. The image of the painting or details from it were invariably used on the covers of his books.
218. So Thomas Aimes worked this fact in passing into his article about Buboni not failing to mention the incorrect attribution of the Leonardo drawing. He also spent several paragraphs inquiring into the ethics of an art historian being paid a commission to validate the authenticity of old master paintings as if such a fee could be construed as a form of bribery.
219. No sooner was this article published but the Times of London picked it up, and on a Saturday of slow news, wrote it up under a caption "Fake", with two images, one of the Raphael painting and the other of Buboni. The article was very complete, and repeated all of the details of the Aimes article, and added some new material of the same sort.
Wednesday, June 6, 2012
Richard Britell June 6, 2012
212. By 1975 the Vatican had set up a fellowship at the University to provide funds, a workshop, and time and working materials and in exchange the University made specific copies at the Church's request, and so gradually the most famous pieces were replaced with excellent copies.
213. The church did not publicize these changes, and no one noticed them, for one simple reason, the modern tourist has usually never seen the original, and the original was never illuminated by electric lights. When the modern-day tourist, or art historian stands in front of an old master painting and puts a coin into a slot to turn on the blazing electric lights, he is lucky to emerge without serious damage to his retinas, and he will have little recollection of the painting he was attempting to view.
Tuesday, June 5, 2012
Richard Britell June 5, 2012
Monday, June 4, 2012
Richard Britell, June 4, 2012
206. Thomas was lucky that day, or fickle fate had decided to undermine Buboni's long run of good luck in the art history field. For years the great man had supplemented his ample income by appraising works of art. He charged a very small percentage of the assessed value of the work, but this produced huge sums when the item in question turned out to be a work by an old master.
Sunday, June 3, 2012
Richard Britell June 3, 2012
Saturday, June 2, 2012
Richard Britell June 2, 2012
196. Buboni's serious difficulties seem to have begun at a dinner party a few days after New Years, two years ago. He was drunk, and his drunken friends were chiding him in an apparently innocent way about never writing any articles about art after 1870.
197. In reaction to this he declared, slurring his words in his drunkenness, "Articles about art history written after 1880, are not art history at all, it is just advertising copy designed to sell garbage to rich idiots."
198. First of all Buboni did not really believe this, and even if he did he should never have said it. Even if a cow is sacred, it is best to leave it alone, but also, he especially loved some of the Impressionists, although not all of them.
199. His enemies debated what to do with this remark and decided to leak it to a source that could do him the most damage, so they gave it to the editors of the student newspaper who had no trouble extrapolating his remarks into something inflammatory. Their article was titled, "Buboni says Cezanne's paintings are garbage being sold to rich idiots.
Friday, June 1, 2012
Richard Britell June 1, 2012
195. Professor Ames was too proud, and too full of hatred for Buboni to come to the defense of his Leonardo, as if to have to defend such a thing was beneath his dignity, but he should have said something when he had the chance, because soon after the bank foreclosed on his house because his loan was backed up by his Leonardo drawing.