March 10, 2017

It’s time for another episode of: People Wreck Stuff


La Bella Nani, Paolo Veronese, ca. 1560.

Listen, the world is a turbulent place. Sometimes stuff—even special stuff, of great value—gets busted.

In 1991, for example, a guy came at Michelangelo’s David—by some folks’ account the most gorgeous piece of stone on the planet—with a hammer, and broke off part the left foot. “It was Veronese’s beautiful Nani” who had told him to do it, he said. (Sidenote: wouldn’t have thought the New York Times was so recently using the phrase “insane asylum.”)

And just a couple years ago, some poor kid—a kid all of us have been, at one time or another—tripped in a museum in Taipei and punched right through a 350-year-old painting by Paolo Porpora. (Fun fact: “Paolo Porpora” is also what a purple porpoise with a paintbrush would name himself in a cartoon, but that is not the case here.)

For that matter, the wonderful Gustav Metzger, who died last week at the age of ninety, developed both a theory and a practice of art centered on destruction, if of a more deliberate and ethics-based variety. (If you haven’t read Hans Ulrich Olbrist’s moving remembrance, you should.)

The point is, it’s a difficult world, and sometimes people, by accident or on purpose, destroy things.

And now, another example. In the town of Glastonbury, Connecticut, Char Adams reports in People, a seventy-four-year-old man named Carl Puia has destroyed some things. Specifically, he has walked into the town’s Barnes & Noble and destroyed six copies of Selfish, the collection of Kim Kardashian selfies that Rizzoli published in 2015, by pouring “a red liquid” all over them. (Gatorade? Stage blood? The mind races.) He also left a typewritten note, in which he expressed his dislike of Kardashian and said that publishing companies and bookstores will sell anything for money (not true by the way, at least for most of us). When what local police referred to as “the massacre” was over, Puia had been arrested and charged with criminal mischief. He is currently out on bail.

No other books were harmed in the incident, and, as of press time, no curfew has been imposed in Glastonbury.

And so the objects of this world return to their slumber, secure in the illusion of their permanence.



Ian Dreiblatt is the former Director of Digital Media at Melville House.