Scooter Zen, Alterwitz's art
I hope my car-insurance provider doesn’t read this. In recent years — and to my own bemusement as much as to anyone else who knows me as a fairly laid-back guy — I’ve become something of an impatient driver. To clarify, I’m not talking about road-rage-prone impatient, with my palm ever-poised over the horn like a gavel, or hot to tailgate rival commuters who’ve dared to cut me off. Rather, my impatience takes the form of twitchy, mildly obsessive lane-switching in a constant bid to get a little bit ahead on the road — past this lumbering lawn-care truck, through that fleeting yellow light. (Don’t ask me why; I’m still introspectively excavating the cause — an unconscious avowal of and wish to somehow beat the ticking clock of my own mortality? or just a conditioned behavioral tic whose reinforcing food pellets are each passed car, each intersection cleared?)
But motorized scooters have always proved my bete noire. They way they putter along at an infuriatingly casual peak speed of 34 mph, creating behind them an inadvertent motorcade column of fuming commuters — and now, look, now look what you did, Mr. Scooter Man, now I’m gonna miss that green light — would unfailingly elicit in me an uncharitable, classist mental call-in radio-show micro-jeremiad about, dude, what is up with this emergent horde of Faces of Meth regional finalists zipping all over our streets in harem pants and bathrobes? This is my road and you, you scooter-people, you need to grow up and into a real adult vehicle instead of this missing-link lungfish device that is flopping around oafishly and strangle-eyed on the forsaken shore between bicycle and motorcycle.
It’s at that point that it feels like my teeth are angrily extended out beyond my mouth on a stalk of drool-strung gums and chomping the air like an enraged xenomorph in Alien, and I realize I need to relax lest I have a stroke and go smearing across eight bustling morning lanes of Charleston. Don’t be such a jerk, Andrew. Everyone has to make his way, and some people in Vegas make their hustle happen on a scooter. And so while I can’t say I’m “loving” scooters right now, I can say that I have come to appreciate the compulsory Zen they deliver to me and, hopefully, to all Las Vegas commuters. The bathrobe thing I still haven’t figured out. — Andrew Kiraly
Linda Alterwitz’s art photography
Soon — maybe even today, the way things are going — you’ll have one of those days when you realize you’re a just tiny, barely sentient meat pouch adrift in a maze designed by a bored universe as an advanced experiment in the meaninglessness of life, or, as it’s often called, Tuesday. Or maybe that’s just me. I mean, a friend of mine. But whoever, here’s what to do: Go to the Sahara West Library to see Linda Alterwitz’s midcareer retrospective, While I Am Still. Not saying it’ll reboot your sense of meaning, but it’s a good start. The show is filled with ghostly figures, sourced from medical imaging devices, afloat against enigmatic landscapes. The bodies feel oddly suspended, in between states, as evanescent and timeless as souls, even as their medical provenance serves to remind viewers of the limited, fragile nature of human bodies (see “meat pouch”). There’s a complicated beauty to them that defies what I said about “barely sentient.” Other pieces take fresh-eyed, revealing looks at the desert, the sky. There’s an intersection of science and art-spirit here, a depth-infusing combination that resists the easy ironies and light camp and media referencing you see so much of these days (and which I can also appreciate). The show’s hanging in the library’s giant art cavern, but it plays big, big enough to occupy all that space. And it’ll ease you through another Tuesday (or Wednesday, or Thursday …) in the maze. — Scott Dickensheets