10:45 am Sep. 21, 2012
Cindy Adams' column this morning is … well, it will startle you if you read it on the subway. You'll start looking over your shoulder.
Under the headline "City's full, but lonely," the chill sets in. But it begins innocently enough:
It’s about to be fall. Weather is good. After yesterday’s report that a young man was zonked on the head by a futon flopping out of a downtown high-rise window, I took to strolling my city.
OK, a stroll with Cindy Adams! But what follows is this:
Betwixt double-parked garbage trucks, permanently parked pedicabs and never-parked idling limos, sniffing freshly sprayed fragrances and year-old falafels, I dodged a little boy working a tricycle on the sidewalk and wriggled by a fleet of amahs pushing baby carriages.
It goes on like that, unchanging, for 800 more words.
A favorite moment of mine:
I walked over an upended container of popcorn and around a dog’s silent message.
And the only boldface in the column:
A biker in a sleeveless tank and cutoff jeans who thought he was Lance Armstrong sideswiped an elegant dowager transporting her caged parrot.
The end, I'll leave for you.
I was kind of dumbfounded by it though. I think it's "good"? I don't know what it is? ("Postmodern?") I think the ending might be a reflection on ontological difference? Has she been reading Emmanuel Levinas?
Then I settled on it. Even though Cindy Adams has been "writing" for decades, she's not really a writer. She is an outsider artist. The thought brought me to look up one of the country's most monumental works of outsider art, The Throne of the Third Heaven of the Nations' Millennium General Assembly by James Hampton.
From the Smithsonian's description:
Hampton's full creation consists of 180 components—only a portion of which are on view. The total work suggests a chancel complete with altar, a throne, offertory tables, pulpits, mercy seats, and other obscure objects of Hampton's own invention. His work also includes plaques, tags, and notebooks bearing a secret writing system which has yet to be, and may never be, deciphered.
The Throne and all of its associated components are made from discarded materials and found objects consisting of old furniture, wooden planks and supports, cardboard cutouts, scraps of insulation board, discarded light bulbs, jelly glasses, hollow cardboard cylinders, Kraft paper, desk blotters, mirror fragments and electrical cables and a variety of other "found objects," all scavenged from second-hand shops, the streets, or the federal office buildings in which he worked.
So, here's to you, Cindy! This little thing will probably be read alongside Francis Ponge's prose poems in a couple decades.
Only in New York!