Who Put This Thing Together?

Each year at this time, the Grady McPhailey Foundation releases a list of the annual recipients of the McPhailey Foundation Scholarship Grant, popularly known as the ‘Grady Train’.

Mr. McPhailey, heir to the McPhailey Ear Shortener fortune, spent his 72 years on Earth attempting to be a poet. Although he never completed any works of more than two lines in length, his dedication to wearing ratty black turtle-neck sweaters, becoming drunk and unruly at parties, being dangerously underweight, and gazing moodily out the window of his Bossier City, LA loft while chain-smoking imported cigarettes was unrivaled by any poet of his, or any other, generation. Late in life, he realized the great truth of his existence: you are an artist if you say you are an artist. Placing the majority of his great wealth in a perpetual trust, he stipulated that upon his death, it should be used to give cash rewards to Americans and Canadians who show great promise in pretending to be artists, behaving like artists, and generally living an artistic lifestyle without ever actually producing any art. In the last 14 years, the McPhailey Foundation has distributed over $7 million to deserving poseurs, wannabes and hangers-on throughout North America. It has been called “the lazy man’s Pulitzer”; the New York Times recently noted that “what the MacArthur ‘genius grant’ is to people who accomplish things, the McPhailey Foundation Scholarship Grant is to people who think about accomplishing things”.

This year, in the spirit of the late Mr. McPhailey’s favorite motivational saying, “You can do it! Or, at least, you can tell people you do!”, we are pleased to announce the following grant recipients.

– To Roger Wilco, a self-described “prose sonnetier“: $24,000 for the purchase of a number of partially filled-in notebooks to scatter around his garret to make it appear that he has been writing.

– To Jean Valdenim of Detroit, MI, who wishes to be thought of as an experimental composer, $50,000 to purchase field recording equipment to make a document of ambient sounds to sample into a song cycle he does not intend to complete.

– To Betty Lou Handbag, an “antikinetic actualist” because that sounds more important than “sculptor”, $10,000 to fund her travels to art museums around the world so as to study the works of other sculptors who have actually engaged in the creation of sculpture.

– To Mark Laandgraab, an investment banker, $75,000 to invest in high-yield tech futures so he can afford to have other people paint paintings and then he can sign his name to them, “you know, like that one guy”.

– To Ned Cheezit, who has studied neither physics nor art, $20,000 to determine if he can think about coming up with some sort of unified field thing that totally explains both art and science forever.

– To Sidney Brokeback, photonovelist, $30,000 so he can transcribe this really amazing dream he once had to an actual novelist and see if the guy can “do anything with it”.

– To Karl Spurgbeer, a student of filmistry, $25,000 to take a year off and finally see a bunch of the movies that he has very strong opinions about, and then publicly denounce them in an even more vociferous way than he has done previously.

– To Charity Balles, head of the Cultural Studies Department of the Charity Balles College of Western Apartment #3F, $40,000 to have some letterhead and business cards made up, with raised gold leaf lettering and everything.

– To Alison Ra, jazz motionographer, $10,000 to go to jazz clubs every weekend for the next 6 months and listen to real cool sounds and order drinks while telling people seated near her how, if someone were to choreograph them for an avant-garde dance troupe, that would be so awesome.

– To James Ganngg of Williamsburg, $50,000 to be seen at all the best parties and hire a couple of people to talk about how breathtaking his work is so that everyone will admire him and invite him to even more parties because they just assume that he’s doing something vital and new, even if they aren’t exactly sure what it is.

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