June 23, 2021

DCTRS

Damascus Center for Theoretical and Civil Rights Studies

Sorry, monolith. I’m just not into you: 5 things I love more

It emerged like a prop from a Stanley Kubrick film in late November: a mysterious metallic sculpture in a red rock canyon in southeastern Utah. And it immediately got the internet agog — with not just its appearance but its rapid disappearance, just 10 days after it was spotted by wildlife biologists conducting a helicopter survey of bighorn sheep. Since then, versions of the metallic monolith have appeared in Romania, Pittsburgh and the California coast, among various other locales, including outside a Colorado taco shop.

In the process, many words have been spilled on the subject.

Blue-chip gallerist David Zwirner stepped forward to speculate that the monolith may have been made by Light and Space artist John McCracken. Later, his gallery walked that theory right back. On Dec. 1, the New York Times ran a triple-bylined story on the original monument’s removal — which included reporting by a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative reporter. (Because what else could there be to investigate right now?)

I find myself completely unmoved by the monument — and I’m not the only one. The Los Angeles Times arts section was tasked with coming up with a collective list of why we hate the monument. We couldn’t even motivate ourselves to give more than a collective shrug.

Is it cheap, internet fame chasing? Is it a viral gag that has jumped the shark? Is it a cheap marketing ploy by the U.S. aluminum industry? Who cares?

Sorry, monolith, I’m just not that into you.

But I am into other things. So here’s a list of five random phenomena that are infinitely more interesting than the monolith:

5. Dionne Warwick on Twitter

The grand dame of pop and R&B is all in on Twitter — sharing the love while refusing to tolerate any foolishness. Especially from any respondent who questions whether she is the author of her own Tweets. Over the weekend, she announced that she was “coming for” anyone with “The” in their name, stating: “I need answers today.” Among those personally called out were Chance the Rapper and The Weeknd.

Keep it sassy, Ms. Warwick. The internet is feeling your vibe.

4. This mash-up

A Los Angeles trailer editor (@CamAndree) set footage from animated TV show “The Powerpuff Girls” to Megan Thee Stallion’s “Girls in the Hood” — and it is perfect.

A trailer editor put together a video that sets the “Powerpuff Girls” to Megan Thee Stallion’s “Girls in the Hood”

3. “What Did Jack Do?”

I’m still loving David Lynch’s 14-minute short starring the director himself as a homicide detective interrogating a Capuchin monkey named Jack Cruz who is suspected of murder. Cruz, it turns out, has a thing for a chicken named Tootataban. (“You get your hands up under those feathers and feel those full breasts, there’s nothing like it in this world.”)

The film was shot in moody black-and-white and basically consists of a monkey delivering hard-boiled one-liners as Lynch smokes cigarettes. The best part, however, is the monkey’s cranky, old-man delivery of overwrought metaphor: “They say real love is a banana: sweet with a golden hue.”

Unlike the monolith, it definitely bears repeat pandemic viewing.

Jack Cruz belts one out in David Lynch’s “What Did Jack Do?”

(Netflix)

2. Bosch Bot

A Twitter account (@BoschBot) that Tweets fragments of Hieronymus Bosch’s “The Garden of Earthly Delights” — because in this pandemic/political climate, sometimes we all feel like a demon has staked our heart with a sword while a ghoul reads music off our naked butts.

1. “Vermonica”

Sheila Klein’s storied lightpost sculpture “Vermonica” stood for nearly a quarter century in a strip mall in East Hollywood, a monument of healing to mark a site that had gone up in flames during the Los Angeles uprisings in 1992. In 2017, the sculpture was removed by the Bureau of Street Lighting to make way for construction, leading to tussles between the artist and the city over its removal. (Klein was never notified.)

Thankfully, “Vermonica” is back in a new location on Santa Monica Boulevard, just west of North Virgil Avenue. And earlier this month it was illuminated for the very first time.

A sculpture made up of a row of lightposts glows at dusk.

The sculptural installation “Vermonica” by Sheila Klein in East Hollywood.

(Carolina A. Miranda / Los Angeles Times)

A beautiful monument that connects with the city’s history and its landscape? Yes, please.

It’s infinitely more moving than the hollow shells on Instagram. And this one you can only find in L.A.