Dr Hackenbush Gets Some Culture
“Why am I here? What am I doing here? What have I done to deserve this? Why must I suffer?”
Mabel Hackenbush, vocalist, front-woman and baritone ukulele player extraordinaire for Dr. Hackenbush and her Orchestra, leaned over the man in a baggy tuxedo curled into fetal position on the garden bench. She didn’t lean too far because her black horn-rim glasses slid down her nose and her form-fitting evening gown gave new meaning to the words ‘plunging neckline’; this neckline was deep like the Mariana Trench is deep. “What was that, Arlo?” she snapped. “Speak up, pal, I can’t hear a word you’re sayin’ down there.”
Arlo Mega uncurled and leapt to his feet and shook his fist at the oak tree, and presumably the heavens, above them. “I said, why must I suffer?!” He yelled this, so not only Hackenbush but the party guests nearby heard it as well.
“Because you’re a great artist, but a fucking disaster in social situations.” Hackenbush smiled pleasantly and waved at the people staring at them as she said this. “And if you won’t drop this martyred artist pose I will leave you here all by yourself to defend yourself from these art patrons, posers, socialites, and other such weirdoes.”
Arlo got a hurt look on his face. “You wouldn’t do that to me. I asked you to help me through this ordeal.”
“Then straighten up and fly right, Mr. Mega,” Hackenbush sighed, adjusting her black horn-rim glasses. “Or at least do your half of the schmoozing. I didn’t give up one of my precious nights off to listen to you whine.” She pulled his jacket shoulders back into some semblance of order; there was nothing to be done with his hair, which stuck up in coarse black tufts even on good days. “Remember, it’s all for a good cause. You like East LA Graphics as much as anyone who studied there.”
“This is a stupid way to raise money,” Arlo grumbled, pulling his cuffs straight.
“I heard they fed you pretty good lunches,” she said, lighting an unfiltered Pall Mall and picking a shred of tobacco off her tongue.
“Food! Who can think of food when you’re standing in a room with other artists copying a Siqueiros easel painting, one I’d never heard of, and wouldn’t have heard of if this sick obsession white people are having with Frida Kahlo wasn’t driving the prices of every dead Mexican painter through the ceiling. Thanks,” he said, accepting a Pall Mall and a light. “Don’t get me wrong, Hackenbush, I have nothing against Siqueiros and Kahlo,” he continued. “I think it’s high time they and that whole scene, except Rivera, got more recognition. It’s just having twelve ‘up-and-coming’ LA painters copy the damn thing so Mr. Lawrence Vogler can show off his Siqueiros that he probably got for a goddam song in the sixties, and then auction off the copies and the money goes to ELAG.” Arlo favored her with one of his best sneers. “What a joke. If they really cared, they’d just auction off some of the work in my studio and give me a cut. I’d settle for half.”