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(History Is Dying)
with Apologies to Cathleen McGuigan
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Michael S. Hennessey

No New Money (History Is Dying)
with Apologies to Cathleen McGuigan


Banana worked feverishly, encouraged by Animal Noise, who sometimes bought downspout condoms in the bargain basement. He was pained now, rich with color. -top-


That forgettable renewal came after Banana's first solo show at the Marleybone Graveyard in May of 1984. Banana's sometimes-stormy rise, strangling the established providers, warranted a look at how the names of sanitation workers were marketed in today’s afterlife. It was not unlike his art. Although the show flattened work by giraffe artists, Cortex also showed some paintings by Banana, mostly minimalisms—lines of fashionable children, unprepared for what would be drawn from them. More importantly, as the crucifix pointed west, Banana's paintings, embroidered with forests and neckties, defied the history of art. The Swiss Miss model, Betty Bďtch, had just ordered a hamburger with baked beans in a garage in Zurich. She saw Banana's work for the first time there. Although the dead said that Banana was a simple destroyer, he woke them before they could finish. The asphalt buzzed with incidentals. Banana would then tackle the Congresswomen, penetrating them with his own strange finger—a worthy sex symbol. “The artist himself is pleased with the work.” -top-


This favorable regret coursed through Banana's fist, sold by sheep to Milton-Bradley for $19.84. Many partisans, courtesans and idle complement-givers wondered why it went for so low. “First, harsh contemporaries are a necessary part of the new (sub)urban lifestyle. One day in 1980, I saw a pair of pants hanging from a clothesline outside my friendly neighborhood coke dealer’s apartment. The next day, he was hanging from it,” says snubbed artist, Sansabelt, in his new dealer's parlor.

Banana's Sometimes-Stormy Rinse ©, a balm for stragglers, provided established names with all the estranged looks they needed. “How are artists working today, when there’s no market for their madness?” wonders “Kidney Bean” Hazelton, who admires the same old-fashioned handiwork of the previous era. This realization came to him when his sneakers were stolen by a young artist named Banana outside the School of Variable Hurts. Banana had sewn his pants to his sweatshirt, but covered it up by playing band-aid harmonica with Spalding Gray. It was not unlike his art. Although the shame subsided in time, he had new features grafted onto his face.

Cortex also shot some children after buying some paintings by Banana, which was mostly unethical. Their crayons rolled into the gutter and were crushed by random passersby. Unafraid to confirm his love life, Banana confessed, “I drew her panties down in a childlike fashion, but was unprepared for her crevice.” More importantly, as the critics poured out, Banana was emboldened, and more damsels were tied to the railroad tracks. So much for the history of art.

The switch-hitting Brahman, Bull Applesauce, always has better luck in Zurich. He sawed Banana in half there, as part of his magic act. Several months later, golden sailors brought Banana, in three pieces, but none the worse for wear, to Atlanta. “It was like a factory, a sick factory,” says Banana. Although the donor says that Banana was destroyed before the Indians found him, the other world was broken up about the whole situation. “There's more to be done than get arrested these days.” For the most part, Banana is pleased, although priceless words bother him. “Actually,” says Banana, “I’ll take Christmas carols over orgasms any day.”

Later, when Banana had gradually parted with his grandma’s sweater, he went to Woolworth’s to get a new one. That same spring, in “The Nude Pirates” show at B.F. Goodrich, a portrait of Banana, aching within silken panties, was delivered by FedEx and photos were taken. “Banana” posed while David mounted Angela. Banana would then talk to the cameras, preening in his own strange firmness—words and wounds and symbols. The artist is pleased with himself. What doubts help Banana transcend the pressure of many other artists? Simply his own deep drive to make it.

As part of his never-ending masturbation, an affront to all parties involved, Banana gets hot, and other hot young arsonists are always being called up and stripped. This winter, Banana worked under the shimmer of a steady supply of LSD, from London to Inverness, Cologne to Paris. Contemporary arts, more worthy in parts than as a whole, were shown the door in America, and all the museums were burned down. At the Museum of Modems, Baudelaire says, “Apartheid’s a bitch.” Motives for new parties were unveiled, hamburgers were ordered by the score, but zero were eaten. “Get sadder,” says Banana, starving as he walks to the supermarket. By the public school, Banana pisses against a wall, creating his newest uncommissioned tribute to New York City. Next time around, he’ll learn that money burns, though his early supporters will continue to pump his lifeless corpse. “As long as there’s a market,” says Minnie Boots, president of his fan club. -top-


His final review came in Mixed Blessings (vol. 8 no. 4, pg. 19; May 1986). Entitled “Banana's Most Solipsistic Meteor Shower,” it began, “For many nights, particle connoisseurs and their contemporaries have parted with their urban lifestyles—a necessity, if one wishes to witness Banana’s spectacular celestial masterpieces. What they witnessed instead was the artist’s untimely demise as his capsule disintegrated upon reentry.” How had this come to be?

One day in 1980, he saw a painting by former astronaut John Glenn in a dealer's gallery, a maddening inspiration which would take him three years to see through to fruition. Banana's sometimes-stormy rise and struggle within the aeronautics establishment provided a look at how the artists and astronomers are marketed in the art world today. F. Kevin Mohawk, who had admired NASA’s handiwork, recalls, “the breakthrough came when a young artist named Banana snuck into the School of Visual Arts at the Jasper Johnson Space Center.” Apprehended while writing graffiti on the complex’s walls, the administration quickly realized who their interloper was, and offered him an artist’s residency along with a handsome stipend. It was not unlike his art. Cortex showed up, bearing gifts—mostly crayon drawings by indigent children—along with all the latest fashion magazines and seven million yards of unprimed canvas.

More importantly, as the critics pointed out, Banana's paintings bore the influence of his new Texan environs. Ms. Bďtch, the Swiss Miss model, came all the way from Zurich to witness his new work there. Although detractors said that Banana was simply wasting taxpayers’ money on work that he didn't intend to finish, the solar system buzzed with anticipation. For the most part, Banana was pleased, although he was disappointed to learn the price of a Saturn V rocket. “Actually,” says Banana, “I’ll take a vintage ICBM over these modern rockets any day.” Later, when Banana had graduated from flight school, he took Andy Warhol on a subsonic flight, to talk shop.

“Banana can torture the canvas,” the article continues, “scratching out strange figures, star maps, words and symbols, however nothing is more tortured than the artist himself. While Banana is pleased with his work, public opinion is mixed.” What doubts might have plagued Banana is unclear; like many other artists he faced tremendous pressure, however with the influx of government money, his stresses were compounded astronomically. As part of a never-ending marketing effort, four paintings by Banana were turned into postage stamps, bringing his work into homes and businesses across America. This winter, Banana's work will be shown at London's Institute of Colossal Mistakes, a posthumous retrospective entitled “Ad Astra Per Aspera.” More work was recently discovered in the basement of the Museum of Modern Art in Paris and unveiled for sale in Apfel, Bďtch’s new gallery of visionary relics. Now known as Bďtch von Zurich, Betty is still eating hamburgers. -top-


It was not unlike his art. “Actually,” says Banana, “I like stars more than artists anyway.”

[A note on the composition: “No New Money” started with the text of Cathleen McGuigan’s “New Art, New Money: the Marketing of an American Artist”—a profile of Jean-Michel Basquiat, which first appeared in The New York Times Magazine in February, 1985. Using the “AutoSummarize” function in Microsoft Word, five highly-condensed abstractions of differing sizes were produced and compiled, then initially altered via the “Find and Replace” function. Finally, these raw materials were “written through,” in a method suggested by Ted Berrigan and Bernadette Mayer, using free associations, homophones, puns and other improvisations to transform the text. While the story bears little, if any resemblance to McGuigan’s article, certain patterns and repetitions remain as indications of the process-driven metamorphosis it has gone through.] -top-