The Unbearable Banishment: Pump

Thursday, March 29, 2012


As regular subscribers know, I'm a big supporter of public art installations. I believe it's public funds well spent. Here's a new one up at 8th Avenue and 46th Street, right in the heart of the theater district. It's called the Manhattan Oil Project by Josephine Meckseper. It's two full-scale functioning oil wells in the middle of an empty lot.

The work is supposed to "...draw parallels between the American industrial system...and the disembodied present of electronic mass-media, surface advertising, and consumerism - so clearly embodied in Times Square." I hate artist-speak. It always comes off as pretentious blabber to me. What do oil wells have to do with surface advertising and consumerism in Times Square? Nothing, as far as I can tell. Maybe I'm being too literal.

Sorry, but this piece doesn't work for me. Seeing an oil well plunked down in the middle of Manhattan might make you do a brief double-take, but it's not a spectacle. I liked the tire tube tornado of a few posts back better. That was pretty special, but I seem to be the only one who was impressed by it. Maybe everyone will love this even though I am underwhelmed. I'm often out of step.

My favorite part of the exhibit was stumbling across the unintentional juxtaposition of and ad for Jesus Christ Superstar, which just opened on Broadway to lukewarm reviews, and the neon sign for the Midtown Scientology center.

* * *

How can you tell that spring has officially arrived in the city? That's easy! You're sitting in the warm, midday Central Park sunshine on your lunch hour enjoying a good book and a New York City bluebird of happiness (aka pigeon) shits on your favorite pants.

It could have been a lot worse. It could have fallen about three feet north of where it landed.

* * *

10-Year Old Daughter is having a bit of a struggle with her grades. Nothing too serious, but I'm concerned. I was a terrible student and wasn't able to attend college because of my poor grades and lack of ambition and I don't want the same fate to befall her.

She has a friend who has, what appears to me to be, a hard life at home. His dad left and married a younger woman. Money is tight. The house is in need of repair. His mom is looking for love and at 10-years old, that can't be an easy thing to bear witness to. Yet his grades are spectacular. He's in an advanced reading group.

Can someone explain why my daughter is being raised in a safe, nurturing home but struggles with some aspects of her schoolwork, while he's excelling in such an emotionally challenging environment?


Blogger Ms Scarlet said...

Maybe study is his escape from the emotioal turbulance... and he obviously just loves reading!

March 30, 2012 at 6:32 AM  
Blogger Pat said...

I had one academic son and one non academic son. They both are married with grown up chhildren and lovely homes and I'm proud of them both.
It's much more important that your daughter has loving' caring parents than getting good grades all the time. I imagine she is encouraged to read and is introduced to the arts. Just keep on doing what you are doing.

March 30, 2012 at 6:33 AM  
Blogger The Unbearable Banishment said...

SB: I don't want to cry "no-fair!" but it's not quite fair, is it? I worked hard to build a safe home.

Pat: What can you tell from 4th grade? Nothing, really. It's difficult for me to take the long view and that's precisely what I should be doing, but I'm not programmed to do the sensible thing.

March 30, 2012 at 6:59 AM  
Anonymous daisyfae said...

do not worry as much about grades as building solid study habits. i had great grades - mostly because i knew how to take tests - but didn't know how to study when i got to college. my ex-husband taught me when i was 19 years old...

and the pump? seems more of an annoyance than art. i liked the tornado, too. smelled like a garage...

March 30, 2012 at 7:20 AM  
Anonymous mjp said...

Ten years old is about where school lost me. I wasn't involved, didn't apply myself, and was generally only interested in things they weren't teaching. So I know how she might feel.

People often say that they wish they had gone to college, or wish that they would have applied themselves to their education, but that doesn't really apply to everyone, and maybe your daughter has different ideas. If she loves to read, she's already miles ahead of most of the other kids her age. History is lousy with successful autodidacts. As Mark Twain (may have) said, "I never let my schooling get in the way of my education."

Ask yourself what the world needs more of, creative thinkers or MBAs? Life can certainly be easier with a degree, but in the grand scheme of things, there are few things that are less important.

But what do I know, I'm just a hippie. If it helps put your mind at ease, I earn a very good living without the aid of any degrees.

Though ten years from now, when she is looking for a gig, who knows what it's going to be like out there?

March 30, 2012 at 4:32 PM  
Anonymous Michele said...

i don't know if this makes a difference but I never saw my first A until art school.

grades mean nothing.

March 30, 2012 at 10:58 PM  
Blogger The Unbearable Banishment said...

mjp: The no-college route seems to have worked out okay for you and I but as her father, I would much prefer she take the conventional, well-worn path through higher eduction. I just think it makes for a lot less struggle in the long run.

Michele: I'm going to have to disagree. "Grades mean nothing" makes about as much sense as "age means nothing." We'd all like to pretend that that was the case but it's not realistic.

March 30, 2012 at 11:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

April 2, 2012 at 5:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I also went through school entirely lacking in ambition, doing everything at the last possible minute, and getting into endless trouble for not doing homework (which I still think is an absolute abomination and should be abolished immediately). I still feel very distant from the world of work, and I can see this developing in at least one of my daughters.

I've just read a post from a good blog friend and occasional RL friend, who has just left teaching for good this week, who remembers her former drama teacher telling her "“I don’t really care how much they know. I care whether I’m turning out decent people.”

You're doing the latter. Far more important job M. If the grades come, so be it, but some people find a happy way through life much later on.

Here's my friend's post BTW.

April 2, 2012 at 5:43 AM  
Blogger Kono said...

I wrote some thought provoking comment but then blogger ate it... and i'm to lazy to do it again. The kid will be alright but it doens't matter, you'll worry anyway, it's what we signed up for now innit?

April 2, 2012 at 9:02 AM  
Anonymous nursemyra said...

I agree with Kono. It's what we signed up for

April 3, 2012 at 5:36 AM  
Blogger savannah said...

late to this post, BUT...

1. the tire tornado was OUTSTANDING. the oil rig, a tad less so.

2. you're a dad. dads always worry. she'll be fine. i know you don't believe me, but trust me on this one key thing.

3. xoxoxoxox for you and Mrs. Wife

April 4, 2012 at 6:02 PM  
Blogger AM said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

April 21, 2012 at 10:02 PM  
Blogger AM said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

April 21, 2012 at 10:03 PM  
Blogger AM said...

Okay, the bird shit comment--hilarious.

Also, kids who struggle in school don't necessarily have a big reason for it (rough home life, ADD, etc.), sometimes the content just isn't challenging, or they can't relate to it.

I graduated high school with a C average (2.8 GPA). I went to college and ended up graduating with almost a 4.0 and with honors.

S. will be fine; she has so much support and is a great kid. You might also want to talk with her teacher about different strategies to get her more interested in classroom materials (though, I'm guessing you guys have done this already). If she likes art a lot, but doesn't like math, maybe there's a way where you can combine those two things to make anactivity more enjoyable.

It'll be okay.

April 21, 2012 at 10:05 PM  

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