Whenever Tom Pepper changes his attire, I become suspicious.
In this instance, Tom swept out of the basement wearing a rakish orange beret, rustic scarf with pink border and a blindingly bright sarong not exactly complementing his yellow sea boots. He also seemed to be wearing glittery eye makeup in addition to glossy lipstick. He proceeded to sashay back and forth regarding the bowl of fruit on the coffee table as well as other items throughout the house, pausing occasionally, one hand under his chin, the other pressed against his hip, lips pursed.
He asked me a number of questions concerning megaphones and laser pointers. I thought little of all this, ascribing it to just another one of his whims; until one day, while shopping downtown, I saw a sign posted outside the Salvation Army Soup kitchen.
I waited in a cold line for an hour or more then filed in with the rest of the men. To my astonishment, Tom Pepper stood in the center of a jam packed meeting hall, slashing a laser pointer back and forth over an image of Hopper's Pennsylvania Coal Town. I eased into a back row seat, pulled my hat down, turned my collar up and began to listen.
“WE see what the man sees," Tom Pepper was saying. "As he looks up, we look up. As the man pauses in his sweeping to look down the alley, WE pause in our "sweeping" and look down that very same alley; that very same alley in that very same Pennsylvania Coal Town that you and I, the man and Hopper all live at that precise moment in time when it becomes clear, ABUNDANTLY clear, as to what we are ALL, in fact, looking at; what the man is looking at and what Hopper undoubtedly HAS looked at. It is THIS very assurance that captures his genius and informs his art.”
“Hopper did not have to depict the space ship. The craft was forever waiting, with green alien glow, withIn the sweeping man's pause, implicitly stated, an understanding between Hopper, the man and us, that this alien spaceship HAD landed in this alley, in this Pennsylvania Coal Town, and was waiting for not only the man but both Hopper and US. We can see how the man is MESMERIZED and may further assume, by this obvious degree of mesmerization, that there may be. . . sorry, not may be but with certainty assume, that there stood before him, taller than he, without a doubt, an alien woman, an alien Hopper woman, with heavy alien breasts; an alien woman whom had just stepped out of her spaceship's hatch, with the intention, within this peaceful Pennsylvania Coal Town, to probe and repeatedly probe, not only this man, this sweeping man, but US. We can rest assured the man has ALREADY taken numerous rides in the craft sitting in his alleyway, and that the sweeping Hopper man has been violated by the same heavy breasted big boned alien female glowing greenly with at once want, longing and disappointment, WITH THE VERY SAME BROOM HE IS SWEEPING WITH!”
To my astonishment there ensued thunderous applause. I looked at the faces of the audience., all attentive and respectful of Tom Pepper’s insane discourse.
“Moving now to Hopper's trenchant Four Lane Road, with its seeming innocence in depicting a couple who presumably own and have owned their roadside gas station for years; depicting a moment of repose for the seated man, whose legs fold across and down, squeezing his testicles, undoubtedly tightly so, this gaunt, broad shouldered, vaguely wistful man, with his wife LOOMING out the window, breasts demanding his attention, which they clearly. . . were. . . NOT. . . receiving. . .”
Tom Pepper raked his laser pointer across the woman's breasts, and there ensued a great collective in-drawing of breath within the lecture hall followed by more thunderous applause, even louder than the last volley.
I did not understand at all what was going on.
His lecture was preposterous AND embarrassing with idiotic and completely off the mark hypersexual inference. I slunk farther back into my own shadow and pulled my collar up to cover my ears as Tom continued:
“This older woman, her skin youthful, her breasts astonishingly full, heavily shadowed, wearing the accentuating blouse, defining her indeed as a Hopper woman with naught but her husband and darkness of the wood across the road, this Four Lane Road, modulating her character while framed within its own.. . . forbidden shadow. We can only conclude that it is down that very dark stretch of country road that a mail man was carrying with him the discrete brown package of Cialis the seated man had ordered weeks previously. . . . from India.”
'GIT back in here, GIT back in this house,' she is undoubtedly shouting at him, 'SERVICE ME!' we imagine her bellowing at him in one of those voices one hears in films when a woman is possessed by a powerful hellish entity, a voice embued with a significant amount of reverb, accentuating the lower frequencies; her big low deep voice commanding: "FOCK ME, FOCK ME," like Darth Vader talking at once through his voice box AND a BIG megaphone: "FOCK ME!" in a loud voice, "FOCK ME!"
The reverberation of the accolade Tom Pepper now received caused plaster to fall from the ceiling. I found myself clapping along with the rest of them then stopped abruptly.
This was all shit.
My penis flashed yet another image up on the screen and upon recognizing it, tore off both beret and earthy pink tinged shawl. He started shrieking at the top of his lungs while pacing back and forth amidst a now increasingly alarmed audience. Tom Pepper resembled non other than Artaud at the Rodez Psychiatric Facility just prior to electroshock.
"THE HOPPER SPACE WOMAN IS NOT HAPPY, PEOPLE! And it doesn’t take a whole lot of imagination to see why. The Hopper Space woman is clearly waiting for her spaceship to take her back to a more hospitable environment. Hopper is not OBLIGATED to show her tapping her foot or looking at her watch. No. Hopper doesn't have to. Hopper is not OBLIGATED to depict The Space Woman mounting the earth man and getting all alien aggressive with her probing tentacles and so forth, the whole abduction enchilada, pounding him into an unearthly mound of protoplasm all the while speaking in that same real deep voice like DARTH VADER HOLDING AN EVEN BIGGER MEGAPHONE. He NEED NOT SHOW the man's earth penis. . .losing. . . its. . . erection.. . .
Tom switched slides at that point and spoke in a hoarse whisper:
“The man has no idea how much danger he is in as she regards him from the filing cabinet. . .”
Concerned murmuring arose in the audience as my penis stumbled about the hall, rambling on about “Hopper's Alien Visitation paintings. . .” Tom was freaking out.
Ton Pepper, my penis, didn't come home that night. With much trepidation, I went out the next morning to search the streets. It didn't take long to find him.
Tom Pepper never made another foray into art criticism after that.
“Leave the art to the artists and the criticism to the critics,” he told me after his bath. “What do we have in the refrigerator to eat?”