Okay. Good Friday. I once sang backup on a song that went ‘It’s Good Friday. Nothing’s even closed. I didn’t even ask for it and someone’s dying for me.’
Well, it’s not exactly the dying we’re celebrating. It’s the resurrecting, I guess. But of all the millions of Easter baskets chock full of chocolate cream eggs and jelly beans and candy rabbits, how many contain a cross or even a small remembrance of the crucifixion, the ascension, the return of Jesus? And although the song was lame… aside from the department store sales, the Get-Out-of-Work-Early card, what does Good Friday mean to most of us? Was this the sort of irony the artist Cosimo Cavallero was getting at?
This year we were not permitted to look at his six-foot chocolate image of Jesus. At least not in the chocolate flesh. But of course the image was plastered on the cover of literally millions of tabloid covers, so the entire country, not just the sophisticated art public was treated to an even more exploitive version of the piece whose creator had to be a monk in a monastery candy factory if he thought this was not going to be a publicity as opposed to an art piece.
So was it the chocolate or the anatomically correct genitalia which offended the Cardinal? What do you think? Mexican crèches have been made for hundreds of years in Navidad-edible versions. Tom Waits even wrote about the chocolate Jesus years ago. And the erotic bakers of New York have been making edible genitals for years. Art galleries have allowed performance artists to roll around naked in food, to relieve themselves publicly, to crucify themselves. The church occasionally whines, but no huge tabloid story. Not since the Saviour’s image was smeared with elephant poop at the Brooklyn Museum years ago. And what happened? The artist’s sales soared. Obviously Cavallero was not unaware of this.
Did the artist intend to mock Jesus? Because he is chocolate? Because he is brown? And what if he were a wooden Jesus? A bronze one? Do these church officials realize what it costs these days to cast a life-sized statue in bronze? Only the very rich can do this. Did anyone smear the statue with excrement? Put a rolex on his hand? Pierce his tongue or tattoo his chest with a Judas Priest emblem? Of course not. The dirty thoughts were in the eye of the beholder. Just because Jesus is technically edible, and in the eyes of a cannibal, aren’t we all, does this lay the ground for the next level question? The loaded question: Which part should I eat first? The image we all try to eradicate from our head of some Pam-Anderson type sampling Jesus’s most forbidden mystery.
I remember my Mom giving me a Barbie and Ken doll for Christmas. I didn’t particularly ask for this, but after I opened them, she asked for the Ken. So… ? Is he anatomically correct, she had to know? Well, he was anatomically ambiguous. But none of us, even the most base-thinking—imagine God without clothing. We don’t go there. So…is it not human to have looked over the chocolate Jesus and noticed that he resembled a man? Was that not the whole point of Jesus? That he was human in all ways, suffered and lived within the confines of his human body, died in human agony?
My new expression: Jesus Chocolate Christ.
Today I received from a comedian friend a charming but dark Easter e-card which depicted two chocolate bunnies conversing. The first had a large bite from his tail end. As I recall, the cottontail was the first bite we took as kids of our enormous Barricini Easter rabbit.. Anyway, this bunny was captioned: “Ouch, my butt hurts”. And the other bunny, whose ears had been bitten off (our next preferred childhood mouthful), says ‘What?’
So I present this to a film-maker friend who happens to be an animal lover. And he was offended. Chewed me out (no pun intended). Funny, I seem to remember some high art painting with a similar exchange. It was selling for 6 or 7 figures. Art? Bad humor? A question of ‘Taste’?
At least the Jesus was chocolate. If it was deemed to be in such bad taste, I would like to contest that had we been permitted to sample it, it might have tasted good. Okay, okay. That was a cheap one. But now I may not eat my chocolate bunny this year, either. I may just eat the eggs—even though they came from the same vat of mush, even though they were poured into arbitrary molds and if they were broken up into little pieces, they would simply be candy.
And how many Hollywood Christ movies have we seen? How many Jesuses with six-pack abs and hard bodies. Are these banned by the Church because girls and women are admiring his body? Confusing the actor with the son of God? Fantasizing? What did he look like anyway? Mel Gibson? Willem Dafoe? Jeffrey Hunter? Kurt Cobain?
Is there a law against Jesus tattoos? Necklaces? Balloons? Plates? Candles? Not that I know of. Last week the city came out in favor of circumcision, as an AIDS preventive. Ouch. What I want to know is, did anyone happen to notice, during the week before Passover, was the 6-foot Jesus—well, kosher?
Jesus Chocolate Christ!