Sunday, December 08, 2019

The $150,000 banana, a theory about Trump’s toilet habits, and the Social Security “increase” that’s actually an income cut for millions of retirees

You want proof that a lucky few have too much money? I mean money that would do more for this country if it were taxed away from the one percent, as Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders propose — and spent instead on worthy causes, like housing, or healthcare, or education, or infrastructure, or even reduction of the national debt?

Go no further than Miami Beach. Recently, at an exhibition called Art Basel Miami Beach, they were selling — in fact sold — a banana that had been stuck to a wall with a piece of duct tape for $150,000. 

And this was after a big contretemps involving an artist named David Dutana, who ripped the banana off the wall to which it had been taped and ate it.

A banana's lesson in economics

So why was a banana worth more than a garage full of automobiles, and how could it be worth anything at all after it entered Datuna’s alimentary canal?

First things first. Evidently the star of the Art Basel Miami Beach show was the banana, and what made it special was the idea of taping it to the wall. Maybe that’s why the banana on the wall was titled Comedian. Yuck yuck.

The idea of taking an ordinary object and declaring it art isn’t even entirely original. Over a century ago, the Dadaist artist Marcel Duchamp put a urinal on a pedestal, signed it “R.Mutt” and everybody declared it art. 

It's art because Duchamp said so!

So what does that make the banana? Nothing more than a semi-conceptual copycat with an edible center.

Here it is, for all to see:

Shocking? It doesn’t matter. The exhibitor, the Perrotin Gallery, had brought along an extra banana just in case.And they taped that banana to the wall, and hocus-pocus, it was now worth $150,000. Not only that, even after the banana ripens, and then rots, and then begins attracting flies, and then gets thrown in the trash, the buyer will not only have his money’s worth, he’ll have a certificate of authenticity to prove it. 

The transubstantiated fruit

Now just stop that. I don’t want to see your eyes cross again. This is for real. Here’s what Vanity Fair magazine reports on the matter:

“Without the artist's certificate of authenticity, it reverts to being just a banana,” Perrotin said to ArtNet News prior to the unauthorized snacking, evoking a kind of readymade transubstantiation clause.”

 Maybe the buyer is going to go home, frame the certificate of authenticity, and hang that over his mantlepiece. That's a great way to avoid an every-other-day art replacement run to the supermarket produce aisle.

Vanity Fair went on to report:
Most famous, though, is America, a fully functioning 18-karat solid gold toilet. In 2016 it was installed in one of the Guggenheim's rest rooms, for anyone to use. (A security guard was posted outside as people waited in line.) When the Trump White House requested to borrow Vincent Van Gogh's Landscape With Snow in 2017, the Guggenheim offered America instead. The piece was recently stolen from Blenheim Palace in England, where it was on loan. Arrests have been made but the toilet has not been recovered.
Presumbly, if I may haul out an old joke and, uh, polish it up a bit, the mystified occupants of Blenheim Palace are looking urgently, but they have nothing to go on.

Trump’s terribly
temperamental toilet tirade

Speaking of toilets, while the rich were paying $150,000 for a duct taped banana, and God-knows-what for gold toilets, Donald Trump was ranting about how many times he has to flush. This happened during a small business round table conference. Trump went off not on why so many small businesses are being squeezed out of existence by Amazon, or about the competition of cheap goods from abroad, but on energy-saving lightbulbs that he says make him look orange, and then on plumbing, including flush toilets.

“People are flushing toilets 10 times, 15 times, as opposed to once. They end up using more water. So EPA is looking at that very strongly at my suggestion,” The Trumpster gushed.
Who these frequent flushers are, or how our busy and usually incurious President researched the number of times you and I flush was not explained. I suspect that “people” in this case refers to a single “people” whose name is Donald Trump. And I have no doubt that he personally sometimes needs to flush 15 times instead of once. In fact, have a very simple theory about the matter:

That’s what happens when you’re full of shit.

Now even Social Security
has stopped being secure

At the end of November, America’s geezers, among whom I number myself, received what for many of us was a go-screw-yourself letter from the Social Security Administration.

It started out with putatively good news: “Your Social Security benefits will increase by 1.6 percent in 2020 because of a rise in the cost of living.”

The cost of living in what? Here in New York, a one bedroom apartment can rent for more per month than I paid for my first new car. (Well okay, it was a Volkswagon, but even so.) A raw chicken breast in the supermarket meat case costs more than a pound of sirloin cost a few years ago. I pay more to have my shoes re-heeled than I once paid for shoes.

Anyway, 1.6 percent is at least something.  But then, payments from Social Security to my Medicare Part B medical insurance and Part D Prescription Drug Plan were increased — and subtracted from what Social Security sends me. Net net? I take a $48-and-change per month cut in Social Security income. (If you’re retired, your mileage may vary, depending on past and current income.) 

Heaven forbid the government should cut drug companies’ profits instead of old peoples’ incomes. Hey, no need to worry yet, drug companies. It won’t happen under a Trump administration. They’ll just keep redistributing income to you from the poor, the old, the marginal, and the sick.

And yet, many of my fellow geezers just love Trump. Maybe they'll love him less come their January Social Security checks. 

Or maybe they're already brain dead.


Victor said...

I think tRUMP really DOES have to flush his toilet 10 to 15 times!

It's all of the Big Mac's, taco bowls, KFC, and Wendy's he eats - FOR BREAKFAST!

And then, there's the rest of the day to account for!!!!!

Come to think of it, tRUMP's probably UNDER counting the number of flushes!

Steve in Manhattan said...

As I said elsewhere - I've got a leftover clementine from Thanksgiving and some electrical tape - hold my beer.

chefbebe said...

Try jiggling the handle.....