As a member of the childless sector--a high-minded terrain populated by the gay, the barren, those ethically opposed to bringing new life into a dying world, and selfish types of all stripes--Last Days has been gleefully free to devote the majority of our life to the adoration of inanimate objects. Like many who take the road less traveled by children, Last Days had to wrestle with a key question: Is a lifetime of nearly single-minded devotion to thrilling music, good books, and glorious crap TV worth the risk of dying alone? For us, the answer was yes. To indulge our lifelong pursuit of the beautiful, illuminating, evocative, and/or hilarious, this week Last Days traveled to the eastern coast of the United States, for a seven-day dip in Eastern American culture.


Last Days' culture tour began today on the streets of New York City, where we found a deeply fertile playing field for our favorite city game, Who Looks Like a Celebrity? This game is particularly fun in towns inhabited by actual celebrities, and New York provided us with such deeply gratifying "Hey, that looks like... omigod, it IS" moments with scrawny SNL star Jimmy Fallon, multimedia mogul/lesbian role model Queen Latifah, and scrawny actor Ethan Hawke, described by Hot Tipper Jake as "a weasel with a cigarette." Adds Jake, "Plus, I just read in Us that he treated Uma like dirt during their breakup. I should've kicked his ass." But, as usual, the biggest thrills came from the almost-weres, with faulty sightings of Lord of the Rings actor/Patty Duke's son Sean Astin, musician/producer Quincy Jones, and "somebody who was maybe Nick Lachey," says Jake.


Today Last Days fled the star-gazing gutter for the hallowed halls of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where we spent two hours walking around listening to Tom Zé on earphones and taking in the sights, essentially constructing the greatest music video ever made. Among the delights: a vast, high-ceilinged hall peppered with sculptures by Rodin, an artist we've heard praised for decades (primarily by Rilke) but whose work we'd never experienced firsthand. Unsurprisingly, the Met's Rodin collection instantly confirmed what Rilke wrote for the ages: Rodin was the shit, able to summon the fiercest, most complex vitality from the most classically beautiful forms and material. Best in show: Beside the Sea, in which a shy, chubby young woman is rendered with so much love it makes your face hurt. Best overheard conversation regarding the critically acclaimed Bill Murray/Sofia Coppola picture Lost in Translation (from the well-rouged mouth of a Manhattan matriarch): "I haven't seen it, but I loved What About Bob?!"


Today Last Days plunged back into the gutter with Kiki & Herb, whose Coup de Théatre was in the final week of its smash off-Broadway run at the Cherry Lane Theatre. We had been tantalized at the fictitious musical duo's fiery Bumbershoot 2003 performance, a show largely ruined by poor sound, which rendered the majority of the noisy but nuanced show as one long shriek. But within the cozy Cherry Lane, Kiki & Herb--vocalist Justin Bond and pianist Kenny Mellman, respectively--glittered like crazy, drunken diamonds. For those not yet in the know, lifelong friends and freaks Kiki & Herb survived horrific childhoods to become the nation's most dynamic lounge act, scarring the air with their psycho-dramatic renditions of everything from Styx to the 6ths, from Radiohead's "Creep" and "Life in a Glass House" to Gil Scott-Heron's "Whitey on the Moon." Kiki--best described as a bewigged bit of jerky made from the remains of Elaine Stritch--soaks herself in gin while spewing her jaggedly poetic guts out, proffering a worldview so relentlessly bleak it makes this column seem like Cathy. "Ladies and gentlemen: People die. That's all you need to know," offers Kiki as an introduction, stumbling forth to spit out wicked wisdom ("If you weren't molested as a child, you must have been an ugly kid") leavened with heartfelt pleas for humanity. "Ladies and gentlemen," slurs Kiki in the direction of the audience as the show nears its close. "We need more love in this world. Because without love... there is only rape."


Speaking of brilliant modern art: Today Last Days rented a Mitsubishi Mirage and drove to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where we visited the Andy Warhol Museum. Among the delights: lovely remounts of seminal Warhol installations Cow Wallpaper (four walls of pink cow heads on a field of yellow; Pop Art's pastoral phase) and Silver Clouds (a bunch of rectangular Mylar balloons filled with helium and kept aloft and stirring by an intricate system of airstreams); thrilling replicas of undercelebrated Warhol works Skull (a human skull rendered in polymer paint and screenprint on canvas) and Cross (a crucifix, ditto). Among the terrors: Diane Keaton's collection of found clown paintings, over 200 canvases covered in sheer horror. Among the stupid crap: the "Socio-Cultural Overview" accompanying Warhol's classic Electric Chair. "Have you ever thought about capital punishment?" asks the ridiculous writing on the wall. "What if someone killed one of your family members or loved ones? Look in the mirror and ask yourself what you'd want to happen." (This wasn't a figure of speech--they'd actually mounted a fucking mirror on the wall.) Among the work that was so postmodern we couldn't begin to wrap our mind around it: a full floor of cast bronze and carved stone sculptures co-created by artist Keith Edmier and artist/ actress Farrah Fawcett. Fittingly perverse parting image: a well-displayed stack of Valerie Solanas' SCUM Manifesto in the Warhol Museum gift shop.


Nothing of cultural value happened today (unless you count Last Days' attendance at a Clarion, Pennsylvania screening of Richard Linklater's School of Rock, an all-around delightful cinematic experience and the first film to earn the unequivocal adoration of our mother, our maternal grandmother, and ourself since The Sound of Music).


Speaking of Clarion, Pennsylvania: Last Days happened to land in this small western town during its 50th annual Autumn Leaf Festival, a weeklong celebration of seasonal change and funnel cake highlighted by a humongous craft fair and culminating in today's Autumn Leaf Festival Parade, which we attended with a slew of our relatives, and where we had the privilege of seeing the daughters of Rodin's Beside the Sea in action: no less than six different drill squads composed almost entirely of significantly overweight young women wielding flags and rifles and wrapped in deeply unfortunate sequined Lycra. Like Rodin's original, today's real-life replica almost made us weep.


Culture week closes with perhaps the single greatest creation of Western civilization: the Sunday New York Times, today featuring not one but two tales of a tiger. The first comes from Las Vegas, where, during Friday night's show at the Mirage hotel, Roy Horn--of "Siegfried &" fame--was attacked by a 600-pound Bengal tiger, who clamped its jaws around Horn's neck before dragging him from the stage. Horn remains in serious condition from a variety of injuries sustained in the weirdest animal-strikes-flamboyant-man attack since Fabio was hit in the face by a goose. Even weirder: today's other tiger story, in which a 320-pound Siberian-Bengal tiger and a five-foot alligator were discovered in a Harlem apartment, whose tenant was attempting to create a live Garden of Eden.

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