The Golden State
May 14, 2023
I hope this isn’t merely a dream I’m touring California and seeing fog soothe rocks by an ocean shore, lush trees shade a lake, a river glisten under clouds and sky, serene cows calm a meadow, an electric-orange sunset light exotic desert plants in the foreground, mountains overwhelm powerlines and trash in a pond, spring green hills back an imposing tower, a guard tower surrounded by an electrified fence and razor wire.
“What’re you doing out there?” booms an electronic voice.
“I’m touring one of thirty-three scenes in Incarcerated: Visions of California in the 21st Century by Sandow Birk.”
“He a prisoner here?”
“No, he’s a painter.”
“Oh, yeah, the guy who’s making fun of us.”
“He’s political,” I say, “but not derisive. The point is what he implies.”
Another voice takes over and says, “This is the warden. You want to see more of Birk’s work, go to the San Jose Museum of Art and enter his Inferno from Indestructible Wonder.”
“Better go now or we’ll assume you’re trying to help bad buys escape, and you’ll join them inside.”
“I guarantee I’m not doing that, warden, but I’ll leave at once.”
In a few hours I’m at the museum and write this about Heat by Sandow Birk:
and world trade center
wither above traffic
No way I’m going down into that and I’m sure not going to prison. Where’s a guy supposed to go, anyway.
Incarcerated: Visions of California in the 21st Century