"Spiral Jetty" created by Robert Smithson

Natty and her brother, Buzz, had meant to take up one of their family’s regular routes: grand theft auto, breaking-and-entering, assault with deadly weapons, arson, embezzlement, or racketeering if they smarted in numbers.  Thanks to unexpected goings-on, however, these two bunglers came to be what some rag papers have taken to calling cosmicologists which has nothing to do with the trimming and tinting of other folk’s hair.

It all came about, as such troubles often do, when ordinary doings went a little off the rails. Granny and Tandy, their ma, were having a row with Uncle Knee on account of him setting the family’s skimmers to stealing the very same van that the Roses gang was just then using as their getaway car. In no time at all the lot of them got penned in the downtown boot.

Without the skimmers there’d be no profits and ergo no whiskey or even gin so tempers were neck-tie high and rising by the minute. Granny packed a wallop, Tandy had a high kick, and Knee was tough-on-the-go with his fists so all their bouncing each other off the walls took to knocking plaster and brick and some window glass into the shacks around and down the street.

Under cover of this blow the younglings decided to aid and abet the home-dump’s decline. Natty, the oldest by seven months and three days, gave orders as usual and Buzz assumed his manly role as fetcher-and-lug.  First, they cut down the railing on the front stairs, then the rail posts, risers and treads.  All these busted-up parts they shoved into a little closet across the hall.

Meantimes, Knee chased Tandy down the back stairs and Granny’s boyfriend, wise to their ways, raced on their heels.  Bout then the adults if you’ve a mind to give them that much credit, fought to the floor for the keys to the truck and though Tandy won, them others jumped onto the bumper and off they all sped.

This freed up Natty and Buzz to lather their game of taking down walls, stuffing them with the floors into the closet, and then cramming in the tub, two sinks, a shower curtain, and the john until the ceiling fell in and had to be swept up in a bucket that got tossed into that same little space, leaving the door ajar and very unlikely to ever be stifled and shut up again.

Their digs looked clean as a whistle, brighter and lighter than every before, when the seniors’ junk heap came popping back down the hill and Buzz, just this once thinking fast, pulled Natty into the closet and by pushing and pulling and praying a lot the two got the door mostly closed just before Granny shut down the engine and looked round the old place.

Uncle Knee tried to pull at the only thing left, that small closet door where the whole mess had got pitched. Buzz and Natty pulled back and back till suddenly the door latched tight and POOF!   The whole works, Natty, Buzz, Grannie, Tandy, Knee, floor, and door went gone.  Really, especially, gone!

At that very moment a hole opened up way cross the big, dark, outer space and a rock cliff appeared, a sea, a sun, and then, real quiet, like maybe a burp, out popped a spiral fabulation of rough cut stones that ages or seconds ago had been the bits-and-parts of that tumble-down building where once a petty-thieving family had taken to staying.  Natty and Buzz and all their fleshy relations were simply lost in the mail.

And that my child, I promise, cross my heart, swear to god, is exactly how this fine world of ours came to up and get going.


Spiral Jetty”  constructed in the Great Salt Lake, Utah in 1970 by Robert Smithson
photographed by George Steinmetz
Dia Art Foundation, New York, NY USA