Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Don't make a Seine

The other day, our bituminous New York correspondent wrote in on the matter of the new toy, waxing sentimental on the Age of Tummy. In the genealogy of the soundly planted context, we were put in mind of the valour of tummy displayed in the most celebrated art acquisition of the year (which this is not), and from there, very naturally, reflections on clothing the tummy flooded the mind with their inherent ambivalence of regret and raptest resolve to reveal the line. 

But as we have learned to our betterment [!], it doesn't pay to make a Seine with tummy too far above the fold [or was that, too low beneath it]. This same principle instructs us in how to introduce the young to Peter Arno, an honest enough construction, but too wry to be sprung immediately upon the earphone generation. 

How, then, to ease into that advanced moral choice for the élan to be found, cloaked in the absurd? Why, how else but by allowing them to reason backwards, from what passes for cheek in the architecture of their time? Those whom the gods would acquaint with wit, would first be dunked in .. the prevailing pool. Get them wet, and guide them from there, &c.

The Arno in question may then be placed before them, at such advanced descent on the page as almost to reach the drain, itself. Even there, of course, there's always the risk of laughter's breaking out, to say nothing of that merriment of scrutiny which sometimes attends upon the spontaneously intimate occasion. What is to be done, but to recall the cardinal purpose of tummy, which is to be clothed but not unseen? And for this process, this consequence, this effect and this consummation, the gods allow us the example, still, of how it's done, in film imagery we forbear to exhibit, for its flaunting of excruciating tummy.

Every boy has his bar, his drink, his pianist and his song. Peter Mintun would play this faultlessly for me at L'Étoile as they served our champagne. It's the happiest reflection on getting dressed I ever expect to hear. I learned it at home. What are they playing for children these days?

Con Conrad, music
Herb Magidson, lyric
A Needle in a Haystack
Fred Astaire
The Gay Divorcée
Mark Sandrich, director
RKO, 1934©

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