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Break Out the Billy Beer, Boys

Have you heard the news? There's good rockin' at midnight -- of civilization, James Lileks writes:

Levitated Mass makes it to LA. I wrote about this idiocy for the National Review, one of them-there philistine-type arkticles what don’t understand the subtel-tees of modern art. Philistone would be more like it, perhaps. Hah! That’s a joke I said that’s a joke son. The rock in question is a 340-ton boulder dragged from the desert to a museum installation, where it will rest over a deep concrete-lined trench. I am unimpressed by the idea of putting a massive stone over a trench. Logistically, it’s fascinating; getting the rock from its natural habitat to the installation required a huge vee-hicle with 900 tires, or something, and it took forever, since the rock weighed slightly more than the pretense of the entire conception, and the truck only moved five miles an hour.

The WSJ had a piece about its arrival in LA. 200,000 people supposedly showed up to watch it pass. I don’t know how many came to see the immense truck, or how many came to see the Big Rock; if more came for the latter I’d be depressed. It’s just a rock. It’s a large rock, but . . . it’s a large rock. The usual explainers told us that it summed up the rich long history of Monument Moving, and while I suppose that’s true - Easter Island with its attendant ecological despoilation comes to mind - it also reminds us that this “monument” is not only unfinished, it has no intention of being finished. That would ruin the essence of the rock, I guess.

Time was a sculptor looked at a big slab of stone and saw the figure within he would liberate with hammer and chisel; time was, people gathered to see a monolith pass because it was a gift from Egypt, and stood for the power of another culture your culture had managed to subdue. Plus, it was cool; it was exotic. Time was, you valued something for what we could make of it, not the fact that you could just drag it somewhere else and say “now walk under it, and think things about big rocks.” Feh.

Just perfect. Not only has Jimmy Carter returned in the form of Barack Obama, but super-sized Pet Rocks now adorn museums. At least the seventies had Star Wars and Led Zeppelin to salvage the decade.