A large sittable sculpture is located in the courtyard between buildings at Dan’s office. Now, I’m not an art critic, at least not a constructive or educated one, so I’ll stick to talking about the landscaping which surrounds the huge brown log-like creation.
The courtyard is big and round, paved with stark gray cement the exact color of the cloudy Seattle winter sky. In the center sat a huge round patch of grass with a circular brown 2-foot-tall sculpture where people could gather, talk and play Parcheesi.
Recently Dan arrived at work to find the lush green grass replaced with gray gravel the exact color of the bleak courtyard and gathering clouds. Looking down from his office window, the scene was less than cheerful. In fact, it was downright depressing.
So he sent this email to his fellow disgruntled coworkers, sparking a 5-month-long email discussion:
So how do you like the gravel?
If you don’t know what gravel I’m talking about, then you can ignore the rest of this message.
If you do, what do you think of it? The person you should tell is Maura Facilities.
Feel free to send this information on to anyone else you know who works in the surrounding buildings.
Apparently the woman was inundated with emails and sent Dan a cease and desist email about the valuable nature of her time, yadda yadda, his concerns would be considered, blah blah, the gravel was to help preserve the sculpture which was being damaged by grass clippings and water from sprinklers and please leave her alone and have a fabulous peachy keen MegaCorp day.
Our friend Stebe replied:
I like the gravel. I think it is the perfect compliment to the sculpture in that it is completely in harmony with the charred-wood-post-apocalyptic, sterile character of the piece.
There was an email regarding the restoration and vegetation removal that indicated that signage would be used to encourage use of the site as a meeting place. I think that the gravel should be liberally augmented with shards of broken glass to emphasize the ironic hilarity of that notion.
Maura encouraged Stebe to “stay tuned” as all possible solutions were evaluated with regards to said sculpture and she would get the ball rolling, moving forward.
At this point, employees began to take matters into their own hands. The following morning the gravel was sprinkled with hot pink plastic lawn flamingos.
Dan emailed Maura:
I do like the flamingos, but I hope it’s not all you have up your sleeves.
Co-worker Bob chimed in:
I like flamingos. I like the gravel too. I think we should build more gravel based landscapes. Here is one suggestion:
For past few weeks, I have noticed that the waterfall by the cafeteria is dry. I was wondering if we could replace the waterfall with a “gravel fall”. Just install a “gravel pump” and let the gravel flow down the rocks while people have their lunch. We can add more variety by making some flamingos go down the gravel fall.
Maura sent Bob an email thanking him for his input, expressing her plans to investigate further landscaping options. However she could offer no timeline for further plans to proactively continue with the project. She provided a link for the employees to learn more about the meaning and origin of the sculpture and told them a sign would be placed nearby, encouraging them to continue using the gravel pit as a cozy meeting place.
I think cement (with an open aggregate finish) would be an acceptable substitute for gravel. I find that it exhibits nearly identical properties as gravel in terms of thermal reflectivity, aesthetics, discomfort to those standing or sitting upon it. Of course, its downsides include reduced permeability to surface water accumulation, but perhaps the runoff can be shunted to the dry fountain.
Will the signage highlight the broken glass, or was that suggestion rejected on artistic grounds?
Maura thanked Stebe for his patience and ensured him that every option was being explored. They would leave no piece of gravel unturned.
Maura, we’re determined to keep baiting you with earnest suggestions until you crack and spout off at us.
She expressed amusement.
Stebe emailed Maura:
Dan Daring has suggested that we make it a review commitment to find the last straw that will push you over the edge. He’s a rabble-rouser. Or is that a gravel-ouster?
Hey, maybe straw is the ticket? A sort of pastoral barnyard theme?
Dan couldn’t resist:
Just curious… since one of the stated reasons for the grass removal is the watering, does the nine months of rain we get here not have a similar effect? I vote for waterproofing the sculpture (perhaps coating the thing in shellac?) and then putting a fountain in the center. This way we (I mean the artist, of course the artist would be consulted on this) could add the additional theme of a waterproof slip-n-slide to the other three notions evoked by the piece.
“Skip to My Lou (1997), a circle of dancing cedar forms for [MegaCorp], combines three notions: the awkward handwriting of an elder who can barely read and write, a Native American image of the ocean’s surface motion, and people dancing energetically in a circle, then separated. Skip to My Lou links illiterate immigrants, the site’s original tribal inhabitants, and the workers who built the piece in an organic, passionate, undulating cedar composition.”
Stebe offered some advice to go with Dan’s suggestion:
Shellac wears off over time, as does linseed oil and other organic wood preservatives. Periodic re-application of preservative would be expensive. I suggest that the entire piece instead be encased in UV-resistant transparent epoxy or Lucite.
This would provide a weatherproof, long lasting protective shroud that would protect the piece from rain, sun, flamingo droppings, withering sarcasm, and sprinkler water. It would allow the piece’s passionate undulations to continue unabated indefinitely.
The protection from sprinkler offal would allow the organic, passionate, undulating grass to be restored.
Around this time Laylee noticed that the plastic flamingos had been smashed to bits and told me it would be okay because she was sure the flamingos would be resurrected and God would STICK their bodies all back together again with their spirits. Yes, I’m sure they will rise like… flamingos from the post-apocalyptic gravel-scape.
Stebe noticed the poor birds as well but was less hopeful about their future:
Maura, with heavy heart I must report to you a matter of great consternation relating to the “Skip to My Lou” installation which you so steadfastly and heroically champion. It appears that the flamingo accents have been the victims of nefarious vandalism. I don’t wish to shock you with the sickening details, but I feel compelled to document the full range of horrors that are plainly visible to any passerby.
Many of the poor plastic beasties have been dismembered, their ravaged parts strewn about the gravel in a most un-artistic fashion. Some have been mercilessly decapitated, their flightless pinwheel wings fluttering and flailing fruitlessly. In some cases, pitiful bodiless birdy legs remain planted pointed upward as if to suggest to the viewer to cast his gaze heavenward and appeal pleadingly to some silent Higher Being with the question so oft inspired by the installation: “Why? Oh, Why?”
What can be done? Where can I turn for solace? How can the dastardly actors in this tragic episode be brought to justice? Please, Maura, please, I beg you to answer.
Oh, alas! If there was only a soft bit of healing green grass nearby upon which I could fling myself and weep…
Throughout the months various seasonal lawn ornaments, vegetables and decorative items congregated around the sculpture, proving that gravel is indeed a good gathering place, at least for inanimate objects.
Well, Stebe will soon have his patch of grass to weep upon. Maura has informed Dan and Stebe that because of their passion for the artwork, the gravel will be retrofitted and grass will be re-installed in its place, surrounding a small circle of gravel that the sculpture will rest on.
May this be the first of many times Dan’s passion for art brings The Man to his knees.
Is it just me, or does the sculpture remind anyone else of poos?
Oh- that’s funny. Who says corporate america stifles creativity and artistic sensibility? Maybe we owe it all the the cubicles. Well, I’m just assuming they work in cubicles.
Heather O. says
I’m beyond impressed, and laughing out loud. No wonder you married him.
Ah, the power of persistence.
It totally looks like poo. I’ll bet the gravel surrounding it did much to give the feel of a litter box. I love the mental picture of the gravel fall with the occasional pink flamingo going over the edge.
HILARIOUS. All in the name of grass.
Oh I found that so funny to read. I have to ask why are there water sprinklers there. In Utah they are always talking about us using for our lawns, like we are the only place in the world that does it. 🙂
definitely poo like sculptures need grass
Dude. Hilarious. Shallow Man nearly had to do artificial resuscitation on me because I was laughing so hard I started to wheeze.
This could also be partly due to the fact that I know what was going on behind the scenes in Maura’s department, too, since answering complaints with happy but vague fluff letters is my professional calling as well: “Oh, they’re complaining about the [grass, fees, how crappy the account statements are, the corruption of evil corporate America, the Reagan administration, etc.] again. Well, let’s see, last time I gave them a standard paragraph-52 response, I guess this time we can give them a dish of 74 with a hint of 21 and a dash of 3 mixed in….”
Not that that’s all complaint department people do (sometimes we laugh at grammar mistakes, too). But letters like Dan’s and Stebe’s would be a godsend some days after piles of standard letters — or yet another batch of war stories. You should have them start complaining to me. It would make my day better and I promise I would write some awesome, non-fluff responses. 🙂
Seriously, it looks like Paul Bunyan neglected to clean up after Babe the Blue Huge-Pooing Dog. That’s a sculpture? Why are they trying to protect that thing?
No Cool Story says
That’s the first time I’ve ever heard “Skip To My Lou” used as a euphamism for cat turds in a litter box. Are you sure this was gravel and not large quantities of Johnny Cat?
Pam in Utah says
Hahaha haha haaahaa haa ha ahhahhhaaa! THAT was funny!
Please tell me Dan and Stebe are starting their own blog. I can’t remember the last time I laughed this much or this hard.
And please tell me you shared my flamingo story with Dan, Stebe and Maura.
And please tell Maura the sculpture looks like giant intergalactic dog turds. Excuse me, giant ARTISTIC intergalactic dog turds.
Awww…I got here way too late. My “That looks like a string of turds” reaction is way too unoriginal now. While I’m in the mood to be a copycat, I second the blog idea. My ribs hurt from laughing!
And hey, I never read your “about” bit before! I was a Canadian transplant to the U.S. for four years (hubby’s schooling), and we even lived in Issaquah for 3 months. We visit Vancouver, BC pretty often…I may just have to stalk you since you live so close. =P
Oh my word. That is hilarious. Go Dan! And Stebe!
LOL!! Sounds like you and Dan are well-matched.
Showed this to Skywalker, and he suggested that the piece be renamed “skip to my loo.”
Stebe here. Here’s a little fact that will make you laugh whilst I cry: The sculpture cost MegaCorp’s shareholders $250,000. Plus the cost of building the site. Plus the cost of landscaping the site. Plus the cost of ripping out the landscaping. Plus the cost of renting a team of art restoration experts for 2 weeks of earnest restoration (scrubbing). Plus the cost of throwing down 40 yards of gravel. Plus the (promised) cost of ripping out the gravel. Plus the cost of putting back the sod.
I figure MegaCorp’s shareholders have sunk a cool $1M for good ‘ole “Skippy.”
Had they just asked Dan and I, we could have churned out undulating cedar forms for a mere $100K. A bargain.
And we would have painted them, too.
I have never understood why facilities managers are the most humorless people on the face of the planet.
I love it!!! I just wish I could find something to be so passionate about at my office. We have a large sundial in the courtyard that could also, potentially be a fountain, but they refuse to put water into it for fear that the local college hooligans would get crazy with the dish soap. hmmm. Maybe I should blog about that. . .
I love that the guys used their wit and intelligence to banter back and forth about this. Too dang funny!
Well I think you are all just heartless in your supreme unconcern for art. Art should inspire one to think and look at all the thought this incredible sculpture has given us. Without it would we have paused to consider giant intergalactic dog turds? Or Babe the Blue Huge-Pooing dog? No, I thought not. Let’s hear it for the artists without them we are giant poopless, unless you talk to my Grandpa who could tell you some bathroom horror stories…
mother of the wild boys says
Just the picture of giant poos in a litter box will keep me laughing for the rest of the day!
sarah hart kingston says
It was the “huge brown log-like creation” that had my mind in the litter-box, even before I saw the picture. And this puts in perspective the story Derek told me this morning about how Dan and his freshman roommate at BYU used to wait at that one pedestrian crossing at 1:00 am just to push the “cross” button and infuriate the poor solitary driver who would have to stop and wait and wait and wait. I know all about Dan. He may LOOK nice…
So funny I had to read it twice! Reminded me of the good old days when I to had access to hundreds of office inboxes at the push of a button. That’s power right there.
Antique Mommy says
I never worked anywhere or with anyone who was as quick and funny. Or persistent. That was great!
LMAO…I just love flamingo art !
Rocks in my Dryer says
Is there a possibility that Maura isn’t actually human but is some sort of MegaCorp robot? Because if she were human, she would’ve started laughing a LOT sooner.
When I first clicked on this story from Shannon’s blog I was trying to figure out what flamingos had to do with the dog “poo” in the picture I was looking at. Little did I know! This is hysterical and when you are trying to be quiet in a sleeping house this is NOT a good thing. Dan and Stebe have quite the sense of humor and to imagine that this atrocity will end op costing close to a $1 mil is a corporate scandal. No wonder wigits and wigit services cost so much in this nation!
I’m gonna have to disagree; I don’t think it looks like poo, I think it looks like dead, dessicated tapeworms that were IN the poo.
But this whole post made me laugh so hard I cried.
I followed Jeana’s link to this post, and I’m so glad I did! Goodness, I laughed so hard. I have to agree with all the comments regarding poo and “skip to my loo”. With all that gravel, it does look remarkably like my cats’ litter box. Now if I could just find some tiny little pink flamingoes….
Yes. Poop inspired art for sure. But yay that Dan is fighting for it! It’s a good cause.
Hahahaha! That was hilarious! You and your husband make quite the hilarious match. Loved the post! 😀
Mega-thanks to Elliespen for sending me to this post. One of the funniest things I’ve heard for quite some time!
Mrs. Nehemiah says
Any artist in the NW who uses WOOD for an OUTDOOR sculpture is either an Lunatic! OR >intends