Quintessential Boredom | Letters | Chicago Reader

Quintessential Boredom 

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To the editors:

This letter is a response to Justin Hayford's review of the Meatballs/Fluxus performance of More of the Same in your 3/15 issue. Mr. Hayford apparently felt the need to justify this pathetic show. I feel a concomitant need to explain to those who did not attend that they should consider themselves fortunate.

The performance was, in Hayford's words, "at first glance entirely meaningless and empty." No second glance was possible because there was nothing else to see. This was a stultifyingly banal, abysmally performed, and conceptually vapid exercise in quintessential boredom. It gave new meaning to the term "excruciatingly dull." It recalls the tag line for Dan Aykroyd's Leonard Pinth Garnell character on Saturday Night Live: "And now for some truly bad performance art."

Hayford suggests that the intentional monotony of the Fluxus troupe's walking around the audience saying "faggot" for 15 minutes evinced "delicate beauty and subtle nuances." Eight men eating dinner completely concealed under a tarp for 20 minutes was "thrillingly boring." It was nothing of the sort. It might sound somewhat interesting if you read it for ten seconds in a newspaper review. If you have to actually sit through it, however, I can assure you it is simply painful. These fellows were just plain awful. Hayford neglects to mention that part of the act included, in sequence, the eight actors brushing, flossing, and rinsing their teeth. In Hayford's view, repetition like this allowed "the meaninglessness to evolve into something like delight." That is inane worthless sophistry.

One patently incomprehensible misstatement in the review will serve as an example. During the interminable dinner-under-the-tarp sequence, Hayford avers to the "fascinating . . . visual beauty" of the occasional wrinkles on the tarp. This is absurd. No one was watching the tarp because there was nothing to watch. I was watching the audience who were looking at anything in the room besides the tarp: their shoes, the pipes on the ceiling, their watches, other people's shoes, the walls, the rest of the audience. It was like a flatulent cocktail party guest whom everyone was desperately trying to ignore.

I cannot speak to the "Ejacula!" second-half portion of the show, in which two nude men with Jason/slasher masks, dog collars, and chains played jacks in a wrestling ring, surrounded by coaches and referees in drag. I left at the intermission. In fact (from what I later learned from friends who stayed), between one-half and two-thirds of the audience also left at intermission. Mr. Hayford, of course, entirely omits this signal fact from his review. And according to Mr. Hayford, we left after the good part of the performance.

I think that says it all.

Sean Martin

N. Lakeview

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