I saw a penis.*
But hold up. Let me clarify. I saw an ‘artsy’ penis.
In showed itself in the name of art, I mean. Not porn.
For the sake of art. You know, on stage. Acting. Well, the penis wasn’t acting—unless the stage direction was ‘disinterested’—but it was part of the act that I was watching. A bit part. Very brief fly-by. A penis. I think. I didn’t have the luxury of TiVo 8-second-rewind, but I’m pretty sure it was a pee pee, wee wee, John Thomas, wang, thingemee.
You can tell I’m very mature about these things.
It is the subject of today’s noos.
Not the penis. Not maturity either. But creation, and the art of it all.
I will illustrate my pyroclastic cloud of thought with three stories about things that have been birthed into the world in recent times.
Some, I have witnessed first hand. These led to me pose serious questions to my psyche about art, purpose and life. Others led me to simply send a gift.
And on the eighth day, the big Kahuna created Broadway.
It drags itself from the amoebic swamp. All dripping with the slick viscosity of creational goo and DNA-ic intent. Hell-oohhh! It’s Broadway, and I have tickets! Free tickets.
The play is “The Three Penny Opera” and I know two things about it.
1. Cyndi Lauper is in it. She of the ‘fluorescent yellow hair’. She of the fun-having-girl and time-after-time weepiness. She of the ‘where the hell does one get an accent like that’ persuasion.
2. It’s playing at Studio 54. Folks have a good time there, singing and dancing and whooping it up aplenty. So I’ve heard.
The tickets were given to me by a friend who, in the light of day and because of a turn of events that I won’t go into, could have quite rightfully asked for them back. I offered to give them back. In that voice you use when you hope a person will say no. And he did say no. Sap.
I dragged along Miss K, who has recently moved to the Big A, from the dead D-Dayton. Ohio. Magali, a late addition to my audience cast, managed to get a seat up in the balcony. I think this was all part of her plan—so that she could enjoy the show without me whispering sweet ‘croissants’ in her ear, as I am wont to do to French people.
Roll it. An afternoon at the the-art-tar. Oh-la-lah!
The story of the play revolves around the debaucherous activities of Mr. Mack the Knife. He is played in a deft ‘touchy-touchy, I just touched you and you liked it’ way by Mr. Alan Cumming. His character is, by all accounts, a SEX ADDICT AND MURDERER.
That’s one hell of a business card title.
I won’t go into all the details of the performance, but once again, Noodle the hick was completely spellbound and glued to her carpeted seat. It was t’riffic. Not everyone agreed with my assessment-—as evidenced by the couples sitting next to and in front of me who left during intermission.
I didn’t care. I ended up with a better view because of it.
So, how was the birth of this theatrical piece of art? Well, I inspected the wee bairn and now declare ‘The Threepenny Opera’ a beautiful sprog. All ten fingers and toes. An ‘innie’ bellybutton. Normal shaped head.
Get thee to Broadway in your shinny motorcar and feast your eyes upon the newborn immediately.
Contractions timed at 5 minutes, doctor
Standup comedy is a gutsy pursuit. It’s very different to falldown comedy, which can be readily witnessed in bars and speakeasies. You’ll know a falldown comedian when you see one—he’s the drunk guy in the corner who’s been chatting up a coat rack for five minutes
Of all the births, standup comedy is the most likely to produce a hideously ugly baby.
It gets worse. When the birth goes pear-shaped, everyone sees it. And an audience will throw their good manners out the window when they’re exposed to ugly comedy progeny.
No one will be afraid of rudely pointing at your ugly baby and saying ‘THAT SURE IS ONE UGLY BABY! Wuz his daddy a puddle of day-old vomit?’
So you’ve got to be a strong piece of work to do standup. ‘ard as nails.
Enter Tony E from just out of frame.
Tony E invited us to a live birth at a comedy club. He was going to deliver his first ever routine at an open mike night. For some reason he wanted a lot of his co-workers and friends to witness it first hand. To video the birth.
Not the approach I personally would have taken, but not everyone appreciates the ‘hide behind a bush and hope no-one notices you or gives you compliment’ method. That’s my patented Noodle Tactic©. I may not write a book about it one day. It can go right alongside the novel I also happen to be not writing right now.
Anyway, Tony. I was talking about Tony. Some people like to give birth behind closed doors with their epidurals and gowns and clinical sterility. Not Tony.
He’s a ‘legs open take a look for yourself’ kind of guy.
I arrived a little late to the proceedings—had already missed a few of the other comedians. But it turned out Tony was coming on last, so no harm, no foul. This gave me some time to check out what our boy was up against.
All creation is art, and art is all about levels. I’ve said it before. ‘Big A’ Art and ’small’ a art. It’s all art, but on different plains of polish and quality. Tonight, the comedians fall on many plains. Some are a little barren. Yep, tonight some of them are having genuinely ugly babies. That said, the experience isn’t too horrendous. I can deal.
On this night we see a mix of self-deprecators, vocal agitators, and ‘take my wife. No please, take my wife’ orators. Each has five minutes to crank out the funny. Jokes swirl around our elbows, sniffing out our funny bones in the vain hope of whacking them with a hammer. The beer helps.
‘They’re brave souls,’ I think. ‘Standing up there alone. I can’t even handle sitting this close to the stage (I’m a few feet away in an exposed area). People can see me out here. And if they can see me, they might be looking at me. And if they’re looking at me…I hope they’re not looking at me.’
But those guys up there, telling jokes on that little stage. For sure someone’s looking right at them. Unless they’re looking at me. They could be looking at me. They’d better not be looking at me or I’m leaving.
Ah, here comes Tony.
I don’t think he’s nervous. He doesn’t seem nervous. He just seems like Tony. Having known Tony a while, I would say he’s a natural performer—all energy and verve. Maybe even a little vim. For five whole minutes he’s our brave little soldier. He’s filled this dingy little room with beer drinking patrons and he’s making the most of it.
He’s passionate and buzzed and jumps around a lot. Gets a little audience participation going. He makes people laugh a few times. That’s good. I breathe a sign of relief for him. And then it’s all over. Five minutes—gone.
He didn’t win that night, but since he brought so many people through the door, they’re giving him another shot in a week or so on the main stage.
Look out for the birth notice in your local paper.
Look what the stork brought.
It’s been five years since I left Australia. It doesn’t seem like that long, but people have grown and moved on and had babies and stuff. And although I find it hard to believe, lives haven’t stopped because I’m not there. How is that possible?
It seems like everyone’s changed but I’m still the same farm girl. Just not on the farm anymore. I feel it so strongly sometimes. That although I am thoroughly ensconced in my la-di-dah, jetsetter life in Manhattan, I still bring it.
I bring the dust of the farm to these streets. It’s still caking up my nostrils. It won’t be blown out in a Kleenex to be disposed of on the street because the trashcans are filled to overflow’d.
Even after years away from it, I feel it.
Sometimes when I walk home from work—up Park Avenue, crossing over to 2nd—I can feel it in my hips. The ramble. The churn. The lazy turnover and understated knee action.
It’s the stroll of a sheepherder. Following. Watching. Shooing, intermittently. Hey tourists, shoo! Get yer asses out of the streets! No snapshot is worth laying your spleen on the hood of a yellow taxicab!
The gait is still there. The mosey. All I’m missing is the straw of grass in my cud and the occasional ‘get behind’ whistle to the dog. And it’s weird. There are no sheep tracks carved into the earth to follow; yet still I feel it. I must look like a complete tool. My stupid sheepherder walk. I’m waiting for the re-birth of my walk in this my third decade. But it’s all in the frickin’ hips.
That leads me nicely to the trump card of all creation. The birth to top all artistic births. And I mean actual through-the-hips and cut-the-cord, human being creation.
The birth of a child is just like an art gallery opening. All glitz and glamor… oh, wait a minute. No it’s not. Not unless you’re Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. Then it’s a gallery opening with full press gaggle and paparazzi swinging from the lighting in the delivery room.
Us smaller, garden-variety humans might spring for a column inch birth announcement in the classifieds, but that’s about the limit of press interaction.
So, ok. It’s not a gallery opening. But we still think of the product itself—the baby—as art. Art that anyone can make. Every aspect of the product’s ‘look’ we’ve had a hand in. And a nose, and an eye, and an inherited widow’s peak. We marvel that despite having no artistry in our family trees, we still manage to create this pink thing that seems just…flawless.
We look for the smatterings of art in the faces of our children. In their Picasso freckles and Botticelli lips. Their speckled Van Gogh irises and skin spread smooth by perfectly wielded palette knives. Yet strangely, we don’t fret anxiously about how our art will be judged by the critics.
We don’t think ‘Will my daughter’s dimpled chin lead to supermodel or superdud?’ or ‘Is my child’s face a grand master or a finger painting from a suburban pre-school?’ Well, I suspect most new parents don’t.
On the day of birth, the only words that penetrate the skull of a new parent are probably ‘beautiful’ and ‘mine’. Not ‘this will look great hanging in the den’.
This is the most powerful birth of all because it makes us blind. And anyone can do it.
Yep, us ladies with our intricate tubing and internal kiddy kilns. We’re ticking timebombs of artistic creation.
And hey, one of us went off in February!
Jett Marley Wanda. Welcome to the world.
Toodle Noo. Here endeth the missive.
* I’ve always wanted to start a Noos like that.
©Janeen McCrae 2006