News From Home 15, Part I
5/10/2004 (updated 5/10/2004)

Took Mr. Alphonso to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art – he had seen mention of an exhibition in the newspaper called ‘Hung Like A Horse”, and had assumed, from the title and location, that this was a wholly equestrian art event. I wasn’t so sure myself, but we went anyway. When we got there, we discovered that it was the new collection by Jeff Koons, the Pop/Kitsch artist, and I feared the worst, and tried to dissuade Mr. A from entering. But he pointed to the reassuring portrait of ‘Quicklime’ at the entrance to the exhibit, a somewhat glossy and slick canvas in the style of Stubbs; I pointed out that the horse seemed to have five legs, but Mr., A said that when you grew up with animals, you got used to that sort of thing…we proceeded inside. We were greeted by rows of ceramic phalluses, shiny and lovingly crafted, of varying hues and curvatures, but all, I might say, on the large side. Mr. A looked confused, and asked if they were supposed to be horse appendages, in which case he had seen considerably larger in his time. I said that I thought they were human representations, possibly cast from life, and at this, he seemed amused, gave a grunt and said, “Impresionante!” Other parts of the exhibit featured the mostly nude form of Mr. Koon’s wife, La Cicciolina, romping in endless poses with phalli from her own personal collection. Mr. A laughed his way through most of this, explaining that in his career in Hollywood, he had seen just about everything; but he was very taken with an installation called ‘Porn Flakes’ – a realistic rendering of a breakfast nook, with a counter and two bar stools; on the counter, a bowl, a spoon, a carton of milk, and a packet of ‘Porn Flakes’; in the bowl, some of the cereal itself, tiny breakfast flake-sized sculptures of dildos, and I suppose the ones that looked like Cheerios were meant to be the female equivalent; and little tiny sculptures of Mrs. Koons, inevitably in the altogether, showing fine detail. Mr. A inquired in the gift shop where he could get some of these, and was disappointed to learn that they were not edible, but made of plaster.

I have decided the best way to neutralize the impact of the Governor at soccer games is to sign him up and give him a role; I have made him assistant coach, government duties permitting; and can now officially order him to take superfluous drills in obscure corners of the field. At our most recent practice, I gave him three of our punier players, and told him to lead them off into the deep rough and work on their leg strength. All was peace and heavenly joy for thirty minutes. We then had a scrimmage – first team against the reserves, parents, and coaches – and I put Arnold as sweeper, and one of his security men in goal. I will long treasure the sight of the CIA operative, earpiece still in place, dark jacket removed and carefully hung on the goalpost, but gun still firmly in shoulder holster, making a commendable diving save at the feet of young Gabe Silver, our star left-winger. Arnie himself was less impressive; apparently a good player in his youth, his physique was now such that it threatened to topple him every time he kicked the ball or changed direction. I suppose it was sheer bulk and top-heaviness; soccer demands a lot of twisting and turning, and a ballet-like agility, not to mention the fitness to run for ninety minutes; being able to stroll through a barn door carrying three injured platoon-mates doesn’t really cut it. Here were a couple of body-builders (Georgio, our pool man, and an old chum of Arnold’s, was also along at practice), fit and highly tuned in their own way, falling all over themselves in pursuit of fast, flexible, motivated kids. I was reminded of our pet weasels, Spats, Rat Fink and Little Caesar, taking on the neighbour’s pair of English bulldogs. I asked Arnold, just who was running the State up in Sacramento while he was goofing off playing soccer? He said, ”Oh, Maria, of course (referring to his wife) - she really runs things– she wears the pants anyway, and she has a fantastic political brain, ya?” I then rather riskily, but with no intention of heeding the answer, asked him, now that he was on the coaching staff, how was I doing as coach, and did he have any suggestions? Well, he said, I was doing okay, but shouldn’t we play three centre backs and two wing backs? And Wolfie preferred to be pushed a little further forward. I said I would try it very next game. To my shock, Arnold then asked me, with a wink that implied that my opinion was crap anyway, how I thought he was doing as Governor, and did I have any suggestions? After a pause to recover my breath, (and wipe the smirk off my face, for I was rather excited to be asked), I said I thought he had to follow in the great tradition of backsliding politicians (“Read my lips”) and go back on his electoral promises – after all, everybody else did. I said he had to raise taxes, and the way the Brits always got away with it was to tax peoples’ addictions, i.e. tobacco and booze. And couldn’t he legalize marijuana? Just think of the tax revenue! He promised to think about it.

continued to Part II