from November 15, 2003
Readers are constantly reminding me that my promised theory of the shrinking universe has yet to be made public. To them I counsel, patience! The interns the MJTT has sent to the bayous of Louisiana in order to learn Cajun have informed us that they are diligently seeking an accredited Cajun university in and around New Orleans’s Bourbon Street.
This is not to say that our other readers are slackers. I have received several e-mails from offended perusers of our column pointing out that our latest project, the blueprint for the neo-modern museum, takes no account of the tastes of the lower- and middle-brow habitués of museums. While our blueprint would no doubt be stunningly successful at the Art Institute of Chicago, one observer noted, it would fail miserably at that city’s Museum of Science and Industry, which boasts an attendance figure at least three or four times that of its downtown rival.
What is called for, it is clear, is a blueprint for just such a museum, in which easily two-thirds of the patrons are under the age of 16.
The solution to the problem of upgrading a museum of this sort to neo status is so simple that I blush to suggest it.
I am referring, of course, to the popular ride common to amusement parks—small vehicles equipped with thick rubber bumpers, the better to absorb the jolts they suffer and dish out as they scurry about the specially-designed arena in a spirit of glee. Not that the idea is to turn such family-oriented institutions into raucous amusement parks. No. The purpose of these miniature autos will be much the same as the purpose of the small railroad that MJTT envisions for the more upscale art museum: to save wear and tear on the feet and lower back and thus enhance the patron’s enjoyment. In fact, scattered among the customers will be traffic police riding unmarked vehicles, apprehending the occasional belligerent who drives around with evil intent.
Naturally, such a museum must be retrofitted to preserve the exhibits. These exhibits will be protected by railings that, when touched by the rubber bumpers, will blow a horn, thus attracting the attention of the traffic police, who will arrive with ticket pads at the ready.
There will of course be a rental fee, to be determined by the size and number of the renters. Fathers accompanied by two children will pay more, for example. Persons the width of whose buttocks exceeds 36 inches will be charged double. The rare slender person will receive a discount. All this is predicated, naturally, on the assumption that there will be a variety of choices of vehicles available to the connoisseur of such museums.