By Mike Stevens
A Jersey Shorr tale
Jersey Shorr, newly unemployed art critic of "Art from Around the Globe" monthly magazine, was despondent. He was having trouble seeing why he was let go. Speaking of having trouble seeing, that was WHY he’d been let go! He was bound and determined not to let his crappy eyesight become a barrier he couldn’t overcome, but now he wasn’t sure what he should do. He had purchased the new edition of “Art from Around the Globe", the first one without him, and looked to see who the next columnist would be. He couldn’t read the name, but the photograph was large enough for him to see that it was a picture of Gary Knox.
“Gary Knox? You’ve got to be kidding me!” he said out loud. Gary Knox was a complete d**k, who contributed little to the magazine; yet here he was, the new art columnist. Big mistake! flashed through his mind. Then he eagerly flipped through the pages until he came to the columnist’s article. He couldn’t see, so he grabbed his hand-held magnifier (he only used it where others couldn’t see him using it. He sure as hell didn’t want THAT fact to become known!) and looked through it at the artwork. It was a modern art piece with gold bars slicing diagonally across a purple and black background, with a house also in the background, and the words, ‘A homestead is kissed by the first rays of the morning sun!’ underneath it. In his column, Knox praised it as a freedom of expression;
'Freedom of Expression? I’d say the only freedom the artist had is the freedom to call the excrement he has created art, not s**t!' he thought.
The next month, he again grabbed his magnifier, and read Knox’s column. “...art is a way of expressing oneself,” was part of his column. Yeah, and another way is to piss Santa Claus in the snow; merry Christmas! He slammed the magazine shut, grabbed a malt liquor from the refrigerator, and thought about his next step. He supposed he had better find another job, but what? It had been several months. Several months since Jersey Shorr had been fired as art columnist for “Art from Around the Globe’ magazine. Several months of living with his terrible eyesight. Several months of overdue notices for his debts, several months of feeling uncertain, and several months of ducking family members, who must think him the family loser; hell he thought of himself that way! Now he had blown through all of his savings, and this was really becoming scary! He just had to find something. The problem was, he had grown so used to breathing the rarified air of being a minor celebrity, he was having difficulty adjusting to the fact that he might have to settle for something at slightly less altitude. He thumbed through the local help wanted section of his newspaper, fighting the despair that mounted within him with every advertisement he read.
“Oh, here’s one:"
"Wanted, a person to dig latrines for campsites around the State of Wisconsin. Must be a hard worker."
Oh boy, digging s**t-holes so the in-breeders can take their in-breeder spouse, and their in-breeder kids and pretend a polluted sink hole is a recreational paradise! Man, he was so much better than those jobs. He was just about to shut the paper, thinking there was nothing, when his magnified eye was drawn to a want ad that sounded perfect for him.
“Wanted, person to review art for this paper. We’re expanding our Entertainment section, and reviewing artwork is planned. If interested, please contact Ed Baxter, c/o this paper.”
There! At last he had found a job he was qualified for, although being fired from ‘Art from Around the Globe’ magazine was a problem. Oh well, he’d think up a good reason why.
“Yes, hello, is this The Daily Constitutional? It is? My name is Jersey Shorr, and I’d like to apply for the open art critic position.”
“Okay, this is editor-in-chief Ed Baxter; Tell me a little something about yourself.”
“Well, Mr. Baxter, I was an art critic for "Art from Around the Globe" magazine, and I wrote the monthly column on the subject.”
“Would you mind telling me why you’re no longer employed there?”
Oh, no, time for some fancy footwork! “Oh, me and the owner disagreed on just about everything, In fact, when you call him to check up on me, he’s so much against me, you’ll get nothing but negative venom out of his mouth.”
“Oh, well Mr. Shorr, because we are looking to get our expanded Entertainment section up and running quickly, I tell you what we’ll do. Since we need somebody now, and you’re sure that your old boss will go out of his way to sabotage you, how about we do a practice review, and we’ll see if you’re a good fit for the paper. I probably will regret this, but let’s try it that way”
Jersey Shorr stared at the vague outline of the painting he was supposed to critique for The Daily Constitutional to see if they could give him the job of art critic. He dearly wished he had his magnifier with him, so he could see what the hell he was supposed to critique, but his vanity made him leave it at home. Oh well. He would have to do without. What should he say? ‘It has the characteristics of a rectangle?’ No, he’d have to come up with something better than that.
“The artist has created a world of shadow and light. The viewer will be stunned and amazed by this vision into the artist’s mind,” and from there he went on to several more vague generalities.
“Well, Mr. Shorr, it doesn’t really say anything. The reader knows about as much before he or she reads your critique, as they will after reading it.”
“I purposely was vague, because I feel it is my job to get out of the way and let the reader have his or her own opinion. I’ll fill it in before Sunday”
The editor-in-chief knew next-to-nothing about art, so he was inclined to trust Jersey’s experience. “Well, let’s give it a try this Sunday, and we’ll see how it goes.”
It was Saturday night, and Jersey hadn’t written a thing. He had no idea what the painting looked like, because his magnifier was missing, and he couldn’t see well enough to look around for it. What was he going to do?
Baxter opened the paper to the newly-expanded Entertainment section, and his eyes scanned the pages until they fell upon “Artisan’s Corner”. Then he started reading.
“...the viewer is treated to the sight of what looks like well-chewed food when a child’s mouth is left open. Frankly, being forced to gaze upon this lump of disaster regurgitated onto a small, helpless bit of canvas, one has to wonder, what did this innocent piece of canvas ever do to deserve this?”
The article went on from there, but Baxter was no longer reading. He stormed into Jersey Shorr’s office, shouting, “What kind of crap is that?” pointing to Jersey’s article.
“I was just being honest, the painting was terrible. Whoever this Paul Devonshire is he belongs in a straight-jacket, so his hands are forced to remain as far away from a paintbrush as possible!”
Baxter appeared to Jersey to be foaming at the mouth. “Paul Devonshire is my oldest and dearest friend in the world! He’s the sweetest, kindest person, and even if he wasn’t, NOBODY deserves to be savaged like this; you’re fired!”
S**t! Now what?