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Published: Tuesday, 7/24/2007

Is proposal for art loans heaven sent?


CHARACTERS: Angel No. 1 and Angel No. 2

TIME: Present-day eternity (c'mon, it's Heaven )

Angel No. 1 leans over the edge of a fluffy cloud, peering down at all the earthly goings-on, and is soon joined by Angel No. 2.

A2: G'morning! What sector you looking at down there?

A1: Oh, hello! I have my eye on the northwest Ohio area. Actually, something kinda interesting's popped up around Toledo.

A2: Really? Something interesting? In Toledo? Do tell.

A1: Seems this upstart youngster politician down there wants to give out low-interest loans to the locals.

A2: What's so interesting about that? All sorts of places give out loans. Take those micro-loans, for instance. That's where they give small loans to entrepreneurs and -

A1: No, no, no. Nothing like that. This is a new program to lend people money to buy art.

A2: Art?

A1: Yeah. Art!

A2: Ya mean, "art" as in, pretty pictures and stuff?

A1: Yeah. Pictures and paintings, and sculptures, and fine-art photography and, well, all kinda stuff like that.

Angel No. 2 is quiet for a moment, lost in thought. Angel No. 1, meanwhile, keeps peering over the cloud's edge to monitor the situation below. Finally, the heavenly silence is broken.

A2: You know, I never exactly kept it a secret that in my earthly life I was an engineer. So maybe I don't know much about these kinds of things, but

A1: But what?

A2: Well, I don't wanna sound uncultured or uncouth anything like that, but, um, exactly what's the point?

A1: Whadya mean, "what's the point"? Are you kidding me? How long you been up here, anyway? Down there nowadays, it's all about using high culture as a tool for economic development. Don't you read the monthly Earth Update Memos?

A2: Well, like I said, I was an engineer

A1: That's no excuse. Cripes, now all the engineers work for Google! They all expect high culture the way we used to expect free office parking.

A2: They don't have free office parking anymore?

A1: Stay on point, wouldya? Truth is, they don't actually make too many things in America anymore, so what they're mostly interested in manufacturing nowadays is "cool."

A2: But but they already had air conditioning when I was down there!

A1: No, no, no! Not "cool." More like "cooool." Hip. Swingin'. Dig? And that calls for art.

A2: Well, like I said, I was an engineer: I don't understand these things. I'm just glad I'm dead now, is all.

The Angels fall back into an amiable silence interrupted only by muted, piped-in harp music. Soon Angel No. 1 begins the involuntary flapping of wings that, in Heaven, signals angelic joy.

A2: What? Whadya see now?

A1: Oooh! An INTERESTING sculpture! I think it's made of smelted paper clips, and it seems to represent cross-species ennui as manifested by a veneer of dripping pig blood. MOST provocative!

A2: Well, I don't know much about "art," but I know it when I see it - and, personally, I'm looking for that "Painter of Light" fella. He live in Toledo? And what's the interest rate on those loans, anyway?

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