The Cabbage Eater


I don’t know where I read this but years ago I heard that Eric Satie was inspired to write a piece of music about a little girl who wouldn't eat her cabbage soup. She needs to eat her soup!

Or was that Ravel? Or Debussy about Chou-Chou? Probably Debussy. But for the life of me I can’t seem to find the reference and I’ve been searching for years.

Nevertheless… this is about cabbages. Not cakewalks.

But you know, he’s really supposed to be very bad. A real bad one, Pulcinella. A real psycho… like the heart and soul of primitive. And they always dressed him up with a hump and hooked nose, pot belly and ferocious looks to make him seriously apalling. Which of course everyone loves. People love a villain. He usually boils down to a very essentially likable regular Joe everyone can relate to. These days he’s usually an “upstanding citizen” with lots of cabbage hidden away offshore.

I once compared Pulcinella to Richard III. If you want to get a hint at how bad he can get.

But mine is Punch. Aw… he’s not so bad. He’s all about the garden. He’s just a farmer type. For the life of me I couldn’t breath malice into his tiny frame.  He’s the shortest of the mob but that never got him down. Size doesn’t matter. It’s what you think of yourself. You have to have a good lot of “self esteem” is what he thinks. He does. For sure. That’s what counts in this world.  The rest is all the bunk. Though a hidden offshore or two wouldn’t be so bad.

But back to the description of this chap.

I hand beaded him with old glass beads from Czechloslovaka, made way before The Velvet Revolution… way before that. Though, did the Czechs and Slovaks ever really get along? My mother’s family was both Czech and Slovak and this was a constant question. My great grandmother said they never did, and she was born there. But my grandfather was a much more amiable soul. Now he was a Bohemian. That’s probably where all this came from in the first place. Some latent Bohemian gene. So I hand beaded it like a Czech in symmetry. I have an inordinate love of symmetry. And I’m rather curious about how it all plays out in the long run. Check out Georg Ferdinand Ludwig Phillip Cantor and his “transfinite arithmetic” and it’s all over. There’s “Pi” and “The Golden Mean” and if you’re hell bent on symmetry you may as well jump out the window.

So I’m rethinking it.


Then there’s the vitrine. I did this one single Tramp Art piece. I cut each V groove myself with a small knife. I understand this art came from Germany originally. Fascinating. I used to go to this fabulous Folk Art Gallery on Broome or Grand Street in Soho. Many old years ago before everyone was all fired up about this stuff and it was my favorite museum for a while. They once had a statue of Garibaldi… had been built by a carpenter. The stand was like a wooden birthday cake layered up and so elaborate, so humble and so very moving all this labor put into a pedestal for this tiny hand carved statue at the top. I recall he’d made it for his wife. Who was this guy? Where is that sculpture now? I credit it as my inspiration for this piece. And that place, that world of the anonymous.


My only problem here is that I’m not anonymous. I’m not just a carpenter or farmer or hobo riding the rails. I’m not Punch. I know who Richard III was and have fancies about the universe and the shape of space. I’ve lost my sovereign right to the land of “only made by the hand of inspired by grace and a wealth of earnest”. I don’t belong there because I know too much. It’s not a lot of knowing I’ve got that’s necessarily helping me. It just hangs there and keeps me in-between instead.


He’s made of green silk.

I used very old brass passementrie… It’s just so beautiful those old metallic trims.

Vitrine is 7 ft. Tall.

Puppet is 3 ft. tall.


And now again to quote the bible of Mr. Mayhew:


There are hoperas and romarnces. A romarnce is far different to a hopera, you know; for one is interesting, and the other is dull and void of apprehension. The romarnce is the interesting one, and of the two I likes it the best; but let everyone speak as they find – that is moral. Jack Sheppard, you know, is a romarnce, and a fine one; but Punch is a hopera - a huproar, we calls it, and the most pleasing and most interesting of all as was ever produced, Punch never was beat and never will, being the oldest performance for many hundred years, and now handed down to prosperity ( there is a fine moral in it, too.)

A Punchman speaking of Punch

 -  London Labor And The London Poor - A Cyclopaedia of the Condition and Earnings of Those That Will Work, Those That Cannot Work, and Those That Will Not Work  - Henry Mayhew 1861


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