The Unbearable Banishment: Urban cacti

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Urban cacti

I stumbled across this exhibit during a trip to The Public Theater to pick up tickets for Love's Labor's Lost. [They're also doing Titus Andronicus, which is a real bloodbath of a play. One rape, one tongue cut out, three hands chopped off, a castration and two ground-up heads baked into a pie. Shakespeare at The Public for only $15 bucks! Seriously, if you live in the vicinity, you owe it to yourself to take advantage of this.]

Believe it or not, this exhibit was commissioned by the NYC Department of Transportation. Who knew transportation funds were being allocated for public art? I approve! Flaming Cactus, a product of the Animus Arts Collective, is a wrap project. Thousands of fluorescent colored cable ties are attached to lampposts surrounding Astor Place.

I was there during the afternoon rush hour and nobody stopped to look at it. It's been there for a month so perhaps they're locals who are sick of it. I think it's pretty neat. And it's weatherproof!

I appreciate the fact that the artists chose a color scheme that would compliment Starbucks' brand palate. How thoughtful!

Each strip had to be put on individually by hand. Imagine the amount of work involved! What a crazy, labor-intensive project. But it works.

They look more like fine hairs than cactus needles, especially from a distance.

* * *

I was having a pre-theater stinky gyro and realized that I have been coming to this same gyro joint in Greenwich Village and sitting at this same table since I was 21. I've never revealed my age, and I'm sure as hell not going to do it now, but take my word for it, that's a loooong time ago and a LOT of gyros down the gullet. I'm happy to report that the quality has remained consistent through the decades.

This is where 6th Avenue, West 4th St. and Cornelia St. come to a point. The table is practically right on the sidewalk and is perfect for dinner and a show (the show being, NYC).

My long, lost buddy, Klinger, used to live two doors down in a tiny second floor apartment with French windows that opened onto Cornelia St. He would throw crazy, overcrowded parties. We were both utterly smitten with the same girl, Mimi (an actress, of course). She thought we were two nice, funny boys but she was involved with a successful artist who would take her to his place in the Hamptons on summer weekends. Klinger and I would eat gyros, drink cheap draft beer and wallow in our broken-hearted loserdom. Good times.

* * *

Bad trades by a rogue trader cost the United Bank of Switzerland (UBS) $2 billion. That's billion with a big B. Believe me, if that guy had MADE $2 billion, they'd have given him a raise, a corner office and a promotion, despite the rogue activity. That industry is amoral.



Anonymous dinahmow said...

I have only one (teeny-weeny) criticism of this post - I am not there to enjoy all this!

Everyone who knows me knows how I go on about the need for more public(ie, accessible) art and that is exactly where NYC comes up trumps.

Cable ties? Art? Why the hell not? They look great.

Good stuff, my friend. Keep it coming.

September 15, 2011 at 9:09 PM  
Blogger Ponita in Real Life said...

Okay, that use of cable ties is cool! And look how high they went on the poles!

So why was the gyro stinky?? All I can see is green leafy bits...

Klinger, as in M*A*S*H??? ;-)

September 15, 2011 at 9:55 PM  
Blogger Ponita in Real Life said...

Never mind... I can see other stuff in the gyro... helps if I click to biggify. ;-)

September 15, 2011 at 9:56 PM  
Anonymous daisyfae said...

love, love, LOVE the cable ties! there's a group of rogue artists in the local hippie village who do 'yarn bombs' - they knit colorful coverings onto trees and lamp posts. makes me happy. these are pretty gorgeous...

September 15, 2011 at 10:27 PM  
Blogger tennysoneehemingway said...

So a gyro is a souvalaki? It looks like it from the picture. Where does the word 'gyro' come from? Is it short for something?

September 15, 2011 at 10:34 PM  
Anonymous dinahmow said...

@ daisyfae...are you near Yellow Springs,OH?I'm cyber-acquainted with one of those yarn bombers.

September 16, 2011 at 1:44 AM  
Anonymous looby said...

A friend of mine is putting on Much Ado About Nothing next February. Even last year they were charging 17 pounds a ticket. Never thought Lancaster would be more expensive that New York.

Had to Google "gyro". Do you not use the word "kebab" over there?

September 16, 2011 at 4:39 AM  
Blogger The Unbearable Banishment said...

dinah: I have a bunch of photos of summer outdoor art exhibits that I haven't posted yet. I'll try to get on it.

Ponita: They're not technically "stinky," but they do give you bad breadth. It's lamb. Klinger was a shortened version of his very long German sir name. And you should biggify the pics of the art, too.

daisy: I would imagine that a yarn bomb is even more laborious than a cable tie bomb. I've heard about those guys. Maybe in the Times?

Hem: You know, I have no idea where the word came from. All I know it that all of the food groups are represented wrapped in one delicious pita.

looby: Bargains abound in NYC. But these $15 tix at The Public can't be beat. Last season, I saw Richard Thomas in Timon of Athens for $15 bucks and it was fantastic. Kebab is, indeed used here, but I think kebab connotates a type of sandwich whereby a gyro is a specific sandwich. I think.

September 16, 2011 at 6:39 AM  
Blogger Adam Kenny said...

I thought the best part of this piece was the very cool-looking art exhibit....until I read about Mimi, Klinger, the gyros and you. Is it just me or is there a country music song title in there somewhere?

Fantastic stuff from start to finish!

September 16, 2011 at 6:52 AM  
Blogger The Unbearable Banishment said...

Adam: Thank you! Man, I love a compliment. Can't get enough of them. It's like when you scratch a cat under his chin. One of my personal faults is that I *fish* for compliments too frequently. That, and my comment replies are too long.

September 16, 2011 at 6:56 AM  
Blogger sukipoet said...

the cable ties are fabulous. thanks.

September 16, 2011 at 7:43 AM  
Blogger Kono said...

Funny i just picked Just Kids this week, along with More Notes of a Dirty Old Man, the uncollected columns.

September 16, 2011 at 10:04 AM  
Blogger The Unbearable Banishment said...

suki: Thanks. As always, there is no charge to you, the reader.

Kono: I'm not big Patti Smith fan -- I think she's kind of pretentious -- but I kept hearing how great this book was and do you know what? It is great! I might have to revisit her work.

September 16, 2011 at 10:09 AM  
Blogger lx said...

Cool art project. Thanks for sharing it with us.

September 16, 2011 at 11:05 AM  
Blogger Pat said...

I've got Christmas decorations like that - I'll respect them more. so glad one of us is keeping cultured.
I'm sure I'd love it but what is a gyro?

September 16, 2011 at 12:52 PM  
Blogger Pat said...

Your comment replies are NOT too long. I love it when the blogger has a conversation with his readers and look askance at bloggers who airily ignore all comments and commmenters. But that's just me.

September 16, 2011 at 12:57 PM  
Blogger The Unbearable Banishment said...

lx: Do you know what I wish? I wish I had the creativity to come up with something like this! Ah, well. They need an audience, too, I suppose.

Pat: The Unbearable Banishment: Helping keep the plant cultured since 2008. And I'm less concerned with the length of my comments than I am with them being riddled with grammatical and spelling errors.

September 16, 2011 at 1:23 PM  
Blogger Boxer said...

Oh, I like this blog and really like that Ponita and LX already knew that.

LOVE the art.

September 18, 2011 at 8:03 PM  
Blogger JZ said...

LOVE the art. Just proves that art need not be complicated to shift one's perception about the world around you. I'll never see urban infrastructure the same again! In Raleigh, we have a student who usurped the NCDOT's traffic cones and barrels to make impromptu/guerrilla artwork.

They figured out who it was and arrested him..... he's back out doing it legitimately with donated material..... just doesn't feel quite as right that way....

September 20, 2011 at 6:31 AM  
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