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Friday, February 5, 2016

The Giant Rat Of Sacramento

I had morning business downtown in the lower end, which occupied me 'til noon, so Norma thought we should meet our son for lunch over at  Crocker Art Gallery Cafeteria. In the side yard of the old house was an installation of the Chinese Zodiac in bronze from artist Ai Weiwei . We'd been watching schoolkids playing Redlight-Greenlight out there all through lunch and I decided to inspect these sculptures as soon as recess was over.
They weren't very talkative. I walked around rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, etc.
I was looking for my birth-year, but until I got around to the rat, there was no help.
All it took was a little imagination and he asked me what I wanted --seemed genuinely concerned: 

"So, which year are you looking for?"

"1949." I said, "Are you anywhere close to that?"

"Why yes! 1948 was the Year Of The Rat. You want the bronze next over. 1949 was the Year Of The Ox."
"Well, Rat, now that you point him out, Ox-head doesn't look all that sociable. But I'm glad to meet you. Say, for a bronze statue you seem pretty companionable."

"Truth be told, I'm not bronze. I'm a real rat --just standing in until the rest of the installation arrives."

"But either I'm only a couple inches tall or you're huge."

"Nine feet tall, really. Remember we're only a block from the river. I jumped off a barge full of rotten apples emitting radioactive rays. My physical constitution was ratified. They got any sausages in the cafeteria?"

"I thought rats liked cheese."

"Dear human, as Harold Bell Wright said, 'Life does not come all in one piece like cheese; it more resembles linked sausages, a series of events on a string'."

"I'll go see what I can find."

"Anything close."

"Well, I can personally recommend their hamburgers."

"Ok, just don't mention it to the ox."





20 comments:

  1. I've been cheerfully unaware of Chinese zodiac lore, but I find I was born in a 'dog' year, three years prior to you. As to communicating with said beasts, closest I've come was in 1969, after purchasing something called 'windowpane', driving on Sepulveda blvd nearing Santa Monica, seeing a large herd of elk crossing the street. I decided to stay off the streets until evening, and the elk left.
    Re-reading, this was quite the run-on sentence, eh? Perhaps that's a dog trait.

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    1. Dear Mike, in 1969 I was beginning to suspect I might be a hallucination myself. Too bad they didn't have digital phone cameras back then --I'd love to see that herd of elk.

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  2. Darned if that rat doesn't look exactly like he's talking!

    It's neat that the zodiac includes all actual animals - and the dragon.

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    1. O Jenny, Ai Weiwei's sculptures are close to magical. But I have to be serious around the dragon; he shoots fire when he laughs.

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  3. Heck, life isn't like a string of sausages, it's more like Swiss cheese - - full of annoying potholes....

    I LOVE these sculptures - and they'd be perfect in my yard, with the forest as a backdrop. I'm the year of the Rabbit.
    I should have probably been the Rat....

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    1. Agreed, Jon. Definitely more like Swiss cheese. And yes, bronzes would look great in your woody, hilly yard! Rabbit-year people are GOOD --I married one.

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  4. "ratified" I love it. Turns out I was born in the year of the pig. Maybe that explains my waistline. The sculptures are very Alice in Wonderland ish.

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    1. Delores, yes,"Wonderlandish" --the artist's work in human rights has always been accompanied by magically engaging pieces.

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  5. I too am an Ox! [That doesn't sound quite right - quite judgemental in fact] I obviously went into the wrong career, grow the wrong flowers and have things in the wrong numbers - except that I have the correct number of wives. And I don't like hamburgers!

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    1. The ox's resentment of the beef industry is entirely understandable, Tom.

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  6. That rat looks like a bear with an over-sized rat's head mounted on it. I was born in the year of the cock, enough said as I strut on...

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    1. Yes, I doodled a bear body on him, which is accurate --there are some impressive rats on our Front Street docks. You don't want one of those things in your attic.

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  7. How delightful! A happy, helpful rat is surely a good omen especially in Sacramento. Wisdom too, in the Wright quote, though I prefer to thing life is a series of beads strung together by experience, but presently sausage and cheese sound fine to this year of the dog biped, thank you.

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    1. He's a congenial rodent. I preferred his company and delayed viewing the indoor Warhol exhibit for another time.

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  8. Contrary to the PR, always trust what a Rat says. They have only one agenda, food. :)
    Beautiful sculptures!

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    1. "One agenda, food." can be a useful platform for gaining trust --got Taft into the White House.

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  9. Being born in the year of the pig I suppose I should take exception to the rat eating all that radioactive sausage. Upon further thought I decided that he simply made use of what was available to him. After all it was only going to be cast away.

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    1. Emma, according to Chinese tradition, people born in your year are gentle, modest, earnest and responsible. Those born in my year share intellect with oxen. Rat-year people are quick-witted and resourceful, so I guess we should both stay on good terms with them.

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  10. I loved that one! (And never tell which Chinese sign I have, so easy to make me calculable... sheer vanity...)
    The comparison with the sausage is great (may I add that the cheese metaphor has also something special? In real life one never gets explanations in one piece/block- there are so often holes in it...)
    In Germany we have a Schlager (ditty?) that goes "Everything has an end - but the sausage has two." (Sounds like the popularized version of a James Bond movie-title?.

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    1. Dear Brigitta, delightful comment! "Everything has an end - but the sausage has two." has the right meter to fit into Nancy Sinatra's recording from "You Only Live Twice".

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