marcel-duchamp-fountain1Country came to town yesterday. Rarely had it looked more genuine, or more chic.

Pasty, pale-white but sporting love as their real fashion statement, the older couple of tourists left CNN Center, presumably after taking in the well-done Atlanta studio tour. Both wore standard-frame glasses and sensible walking shoes.

They stopped at the nearly ever-busy intersection of Marietta Street and Centennial Olympic Park Drive.

She consulted a small map in her hand, then asked his opinion. Several nods and a change of traffic lights later, they crossed the street and headed into the park.

He wore still-blue jeans, with a hint of a home-iron crease running across the legs’ fronts and backs. The belt was leather and unobtrusive. His shirt (by Gant?) was short-sleeved. His graying hair wore a two-week-old $7.50 cut.

Her perma-press knit shirt was colorful, but not memorable. Her tan culottes were of a modest length. Her legs showed no varicose veins. The image of any visible pocketbook or jewelry on her person is not recalled. Her slightly lightened hair was a ready-set-go bob.

The flash of art and design can betray the innocence of other, more authentic displays.

The Internet does not always play the field flatly.

Take one: “Welcome To The World’s Creative Capital: A Chess Set In Trafalgar Square Illustrates How Important The Design Industry Is To The British Economy,” from The (London) Times this week.

Take two: Another example might be found “Behind Duchamp’s Door,” the title of a story this week in The Wall Street Journal.

“Recently, 500 British art experts were asked to identify the most influential modern art work,” The WSJ reported in the news item. “They picked ‘Fountain,’ a mass-produced urinal Marcel Duchamp claimed was a work of art.”

I saw one of Duchamp’s paeans to standing masculinity last spring in the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. While my family was caught up in another room, I attempted to tag along with a docent-led group.

“If you ask me,” I overheard the guide tell the group of high school students, “I think the museum made a mistake. They should have just bought a urinal themselves, rather than paying what they did for this one, if they really wanted something like this in here. Would most people know the difference, any way?”

Would anyone care if anyone did notice?

I mean, honestly, would anyone?

The trouble with art imitating contemporary life too well is we often poke fun at subjects that are either best left in the men’s room or out on the sidewalk.

Take yesterday’s innocent, elderly couple crossing the street from CNN Center to Centennial Olympic Park. Tourists, without a doubt. Just doing their thing.

They’ve no need for my commentary. (Perhaps the same’s true for you.)

But, I can’t resist.

Do we violate the couple’s sanctity by observing the fabrics of their being so closely? (Do you, via association, simply by reading this reflection?)

Or, might it be a worse injustice to simply ignore them, the aged, because of their Gant labels and untanned limbs?

I suppose those old people really are art.

Maybe even, some of the finest we got.

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