I woke up in a strange place

By Marc Heiden, since 1997.
See also: a novel about a monkey.

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June 26, 2007

If anyone died from suspense at the end of the last entry, I sincerely apologize. Sometimes, the power of these situations is too much even for my unstoppable reporting technique to contain. There should be disclaimers, perhaps. But now, I must continue. If you are returning to this website late and you have not read the first entry in this series, do not go any further; it will make no sense to you, and you are likely to find your emotions overwhelmed.

Shibuya B-Boy Battle: First match 9

So, at the end of the last entry, I was in Japan, and the original painting by the famous monkey was in Chicago. I was not sure that my mother could be entrusted with the care of fine art, but I had little choice. I've read a lot about how to be an art collector, and the literature is unambiguous on the point that you should not dent or bend the fine art, both of which stood a strong chance of happening if the monkey painting had to make two trips through customs. (This was around the time that Steve Wynn poked a hole through his Picasso; abuse of fine art was a hot-button topic.)

(I realize that some may consider my concern for the care of art hypocritical in light of a certain story that has been going around for years about my tenure as a security guard at the Krannert Art Museum and a painting which is shown on this page. In response, I kind of gaze off into the distance, and then suddenly change the subject.)

I could only trust that my mother would not botch the job. The seasons turned; beautiful autumn came to Hiroshima and the Chugoku area, winter followed and with it visits from friends, and spring slid out from behind all those cold winds. It was time to leave Japan again. I went on a long trip, returned to Japan a third time in order to pick up my stuff, and took my sweet time going from the west coast of the United States to my once and future home in Chicago. Through all of that, the painting by the famous monkey waited, hidden to me and to the world. My mother was under strict orders not to open it; whatever kind of wrapping those chimps had managed would have to serve as the last line of defense for the fine art inside.

Because I have, as I said, read extensively from the literature, I was aware that an unveiling is the sort of thing an art collector does with brand-new, never-before-seen artwork, so I announced that I would be holding one of those after I got back to Chicago. (Of course you're invited.) As you can imagine, though, I was more than a bit concerned when my mother admitted that she couldn't find the monkey painting, even though she knew it was around there somewhere. Tense days and nights followed. My mother doesn't actually do a whole lot except go to work and take yoga classes once a week, so she dedicated herself to the task of figuring out where she put the monkey painting, and by the next time I visited, she had found it. The painting was expertly packaged in exactly the sort of big cardboard envelope that humans might use.

"Well done, Dan," I said, softly. "Well done."

I had to open it. The literature is ambiguous on the point of whether the art collector himself is allowed to see the artwork before the unveiling, but I decided to excuse the impulse; I am, after all, new at this, and can be forgiven a few lapses in procedure. I slid my finger under the flap of the envelope, and removed a few knick-knacks: a certificate of authenticity, an autographed photo of Cheeta, and some other papers of that ilk. And then there was nothing else between me and the painting.

I am become Poseidon, God of the Sea, and you shall know my likeness

It is really fucking good. I was genuinely astonished from the moment I laid eyes upon it. I had an idea in mind when I chose the colors green, brown, and yellow, and Cheeta understood completely, transforming my pithy notion into the stuff of great artwork. The painting is abstract, and it is suggestive of bananas hidden in a forest. (The forest may be upside down.) I don't mind admitting that I almost cried; I had a masterpiece in my hands. At last, I had my own painting by a famous monkey.

Well, the unveiling is still yet to come. I need to get a job and possibly a new apartment first. Since I am still unemployed, I have plenty of time for scientific analysis, and I am pleased to announce, after extensive testing, that my famous monkey painting is a remarkable 54% better than anything Van Gogh ever did, which is saying something, because Van Gogh is really considered one of the major painters of his era. It is also 16% better than 82% of Picasso's work, 7% better than 70% of the remaining 18%, and the rest has yet to be calculated, but it's looking good for the monkey, and also for my happy life as an art collector.

I will be commissioning another painting shortly after getting a job.


An autographed photo of Cheeta? Awesome. What did he write?

And does Cheeta hold more college degrees than I do?

Cheeta used a marker for the autograph, which was a fine choice. I think he's self-taught, degree-wise. There's nothing a school can teach you about bananas hidden in a forest that the bananas themselves can't.

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I woke up in a strange place is the work of Marc Heiden, born in 1978, author of two books (Chicago, Hiroshima) and some plays, and an occasional photographer.

Often discussed:

Antarctica, Beelzetron, Books, Chicago, College, Communism, Food, Internet, Japan, Manute Bol, Monkeys and Apes, North Korea, Oregon Trail, Outer Space, Panda Porn, Politics, RabbiTech, Shakespeare, Sports, Texas.


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Written by Marc Heiden, 1997-2011.