Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Elegy to the Great Crocodile in Front of Mr. Donut

How's Chiang Mai? Hope to see you there soon but I have some depressing news. Remembers three years ago? I think it was February. I saw you and the gang at YKL at top of Session. Some were drumming and you were laying crazy tiles. It turned out the gang was given money to patch up the sidewalk of Session. They thought you would just patch up with concrete. How wrong were they. When you started, you were just experimenting with the grout and your first designs were so studied. First, there was the, Aniamanen daytan (What are they up to) sneer from the people and then they caught on. Some gave broken china. Others paid for you to do your mosaic in front of their shops. Others even bakbaked their pavement so you would lay mosaic in front of them. One fine Sunday, the gang did the crocodile in front of Mr. Donut. Not obvious unless you are at the top. There were hidden designs somewhere. The church in front of the Cathedral steps. The face on the side of Rural Bank. The three faces near it. The wonderful circle in front of Azotea done by Kawayan. Man, you were good. I was helping Kidlat then during the Panagbenga A.M. (after meningo) and this was the spontaneous combustion of creativity he was espousing then.
And then, OF COURSE, dirty politics came. An old woman slipped. It became the spark for the politicians who wanted to grab the limelight and the funding. Yada yada yada. And then people forgot all about and began to see the mosaics as part of the scene. The kids love the "hand" and imagining faces. An artist who didn't really like it had a moment of epiphany and said that they looked like glazed vomit. Then he laughed and saw the humor. Kabunian even became a master mosaic artist. People began to not slip on it. In fact, there are much more people slipping at SM during and after the rains. Where is the inquiry, you political mowrons?
Of course, the juggernaut has started and the inevitable had to happen. Early last week, that giant needle started japanning and breaking the pavement. They attacked the lower part of the pavement where there were no mosaics and then started gnawing at the rest. They already started destroying them. Like thieves, they were doing it at night up to now.
I texted people and some said that it's a done deal. This is public art, man. In more enlightened places, they would have been protected.
But here? No. They will lay the interlocking Vigan bricks which might wear out in a year or two. Then they will re-lay it again at a hundred times the pay you got for your mosaic.
I texted Kawayan and he wrote: Man, last night at 2 am, 15 people with machetes and pipes surrounded me. I was armed with wasay (ax) and walis tambo. I thought I had it. Had to call the security guards with their guns. I guess if you don't have the money, you lose it.
Tomorrow or Friday, we will be having a final ritual for our mosaics. Those colorful vomits. Those creatures we conjured with plates and cups. We had fun, man. And to those responsible for the so-called "repair," here's to you:

You may have the cash but we have Cash


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