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That’s My Munch

Appeared in So It Goes: The Literary Journal of the Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library
Newsletter of Boca Raton’s Canterbury Place Condominium Association

It’s hard to believe our wonderful luck at Sotheby’s on Wednesday May 2, when we bought by phone Edvard Munch’s celebrated painting “The Scream” for $120 million dollars. What an achievement for the past and current board.

As you know, the purchase was occasioned by a gift from Danny Seidenberg, in honor of his beloved Uncle Lou and Aunt Clarice, (members in good standing of the Canasta Club) of $80,000,000, in his words, “because they always liked me and never said my ideas were stupid, the way everyone else did.” Danny invented the social networking application “Coffee Klatch” that creates the smell of coffee in a car and allows the driver to connect with others on the road also smelling the virtual coffee, without spills or burns. As a thank you, please “Like” him on Facebook and follow him on Twitter.

Because the association did not wish to invest Danny’s gift in stocks and bonds (how about that 401K everyone?), we all agreed that the art market was the place to be. Of course we had to stand on our heads to get the rest of the money and an assessment was made of $625,000 per unit (64 units) – making up the remaining $40,000,000. Everyone agreed that was doable, with some additions to our assets. We took out a mortgage on the swimming pool and the weight room, and Mr. Scovell, the donation of your Grady-White Canyon 271 fishing boat was a godsend. As a result, the cancellation of water aerobics classes proved unnecessary.

Unit Owners’ Responsibilities:

Danny doesn’t want us to say anything about his gift at the moment, because “pretty soon random people will be wanting him to buy things for them.” How unfortunate to hear a condo member at mahjong the other evening shout out, “That’s my Munch,” when news programs appeared on TV touting the purchase. There were outside guests there! Later the shouter suggested that she just “forgot herself” and must be “having a senior moment,” an excellent way to handle the situation.

Because of this outburst, we have revised the association’s privacy policy to include a rider specifying how and where each unit owner may display the painting and how to talk about it in public. “The Scream” will circulate from unit to unit monthly, and please display it in a tasteful manner. Our board president spotted it in the kitchen of unit #12 next to a calendar from Schenk’s Dry Cleaners. This is not appropriate. We have one of the world’s finest pictures, and it cost us a bundle, so please treat the object with respect. Place it next to a piece you already possess and like very much. When in unit #33, “The Scream” hung beside a portrait of the owners’ son in a green cap, so appropriate we thought.

When They Ask:

Relatives and guests are bound to ask where you got the painting and how you did so. It’s best to say it’s a poster, not the real thing. Pick out a nice Monet or Matisse reproduction, have it framed, then prominently display it. When your Munch turn comes, swap the two out. If anyone asks about it, just say, “What are the chances that the Munch, that Munch, would be here in Boca for all to see?” You might also buy some “Scream” masks from Wes Craven’s horror movie series, to distract people, claiming that you are “interested in the fact that Munch’s wraith-like spectre of the suffering of modern man has become a pop icon.” (Thank you Professor Gulden, unit #58, for this wording.)

We are especially grateful to those who finally agreed to go along with the purchase despite their misgivings, particularly Andy Tipple, who felt it looked like a guy who just heard he needs a colonoscopy, or Mrs. Frankel, who suggested, “If I lived in Norway, I’d scream too.” Words like “downer,” “bizarro,” and “creepnoid” have no place at Canterbury Place. Also, the orange and blue color scheme may not match several of the unit owners’ tastes, but please do not alter or “make more attractive” anything related to the painting.

Flip it or Fix it?

“Mark it up and sell it on,” our mantra in so many ways. Remember the eight-track stereo system? Our vinyl? Two thousand CD’s? Those were the good old days. But how likely is it, given this economy, that we can turn around and flip this painting for $150,000,000? Your board recommends a buy-and-hold strategy, as of course, the pool of buyers is small.

There is a two-inch scratch on the frame that Dr. Lewis Friedman (unit #4), of Friedman Lasik and Eye Care, has offered to fix. Let’s wait on that.

Next Week:

Replacing Taco Night will be a tribute to Norwegian food and Edvard Munch, featuring rakfisk (fermented trout) and aquavit. Amy Solon (unit #32) will begin a series on Norwegian folk art, starting with a dry needle felting demonstration, then the Canterbury Place Choristers will perform a brief musical homage to Munch, using his description of the painting – “I sense an infinite scream passing through nature” – as the refrain.

See you there.