torsdag, mars 31, 2005

When It Absolutely Positively . . . Eventually Needs to Get There

James Lebron (not to be confused with the much taller LeBron James) has died. (I tried to google a nice link for you, but all I got were sites for the aforementioned LeBron James.) I had never heard of him. James, that is. The Times obit praises him as a miracle worker. He could fit big innovative modern art paintings through tiny doorways so they could be hung on big walls for all of us to see and say, "I don't get it" and "Our son Timmy could do that with a bucket of house paint and a crayon."

"[James] was the bridge between making art and having the world see it," explained artist Helen Frankenthaler in a 1990 New York magazine interview.

The obit reminded me that what I really need is a housewife. Or a housespouse, I suppose. There are few housewives in Sweden. Adults work outside the home. Childcare is practically free. Self-dependence is encouraged. That's great. Good for them. I still need a wifeperson.

See, I know a few artists who wish Mr. Lebron were still around to calm fears about transporting their unique pieces from birthplace to gallery. They couldn't afford the likes of Mr. Lebron, but the alternative, which is private ground and air couriers who rush about in bouncing trucks and short pants has become too risky - even for artists (a group less inclined to become intimate with actuarial tables and ratio analyses then, say, accountants or anyone else on the planet). Art disappears in warehouses, never to be seen again. The contractual reimbursement allowance barely covers the price of 4 X 6 frame at Target, even though an artist is moving an entire year's worth of work to an exhibition. The artist can buy insurance, of course, but we are not really talking about an intermodel container of Nike shoes from an Asian sweatshop where a replacement check solves the dilemna. An artist's loss of a portfolio of work can never really be replaced. I know this because I have been working with a local artist who has had two major projects disappear from the tracking radar of an overnight courier.

So when I realized I was one passport shy of a full deck for a recent trip, I screamed first, then called a passport expediter. To get the precious documents back and forth from me to Expeditor to Important Passport Guy back to Expeditor and then to me, I called the very same courier who had lost my friend's livelihood. And to make me even less sympathetic a storyteller, I agreed that, because I had to be at work, the document could be delivered to my home without my signature.

So when I called the courier on the anticipated date of delivery and asked in full anticipation of an affirmative answer, "Did everything go as planned?" the courier replied, "Yep. Signed for by Sara Curtain this morning." Only there was no Sara Curtain or Sara Lee or Shower Curtain or anyone at my address and I knew at once that my document had gone the way of practically famous artwork.

As it turned out, the passport had been delivered to a local hospital and then picked up after my call and then redelivered by mistake to a neighbor's house down the street. Yet none of this is the point. It would be terrific if (1) I had someone to take care of the minutae and (2) I had the sensitivity to not call it "minutae" to his or her face. As home address support staff will never be an option for me, the best I can hope for is to plan for emergencies weeks in advance and stop believing in advertising.

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