She Won’t Stand for Anything Tolerable


You know how it is. You’re zipping along the freeway, and you see a sign for the Museum of Tolerance, and you think, “I really must go there someday,” and then before you know it you’re at the next exit, good intentions forgotten.

But I realized recently that I’m not ready for the Museum of Tolerance. I’m way too intolerant. For instance, one of the things I’m intolerant of is people who compare things to the Holocaust. The Holocaust is neither an apple nor an orange. It’s a unique and terrible event in the shabby history of humanity. Leave it alone. It can’t be compared to anything. And if you don’t believe me, one visit to the Museum of Tolerance should be enough to convince you.


As for me, lately I’ve been spending my drive time planning an alternative museum, the Museum of Intolerance. This museum would be dedicated to things that really cheese me off, to put it in language that a family newspaper will tolerate. Of course, as sole curator, I get to say what’s in it, and that’s that. I won’t stand for any arguments. However, I believe some of the exhibits I have in mind may touch a sympathetic chord in others.


One of the most popular displays might be People Who Hold Really Inappropriate Loud Conversations on Cell Phones in Public. This certainly would include the fashionably gaunt frizzy-haired yupscale thirtysomething I heard discussing her chlamydia symptoms in front of the fresh produce in Erewhon Market the other day. And there’d have to be a special section for People Who Call Their Children and Talk Baby Talk From the Seat Next to You in Airplanes. Just when you think nothing could make airline food seem less appetizing.

Come to think of it, another exhibit might be devoted to airline food. (I know it’s a cliche but every museum has to have its old masters.) The fact that famous chefs are now lending their names to it and calling it cuisine only creates a false expectation leading to bitter disappointment and the same old overcooked broccoli.

And right next door, there’s the Hall of People Who Let Their Children Run Wild and Just Smile at Their Antics. These are the same people who are capable of carrying on a conversation on a cell phone while six feet away their little angels are laying waste to the surrounding countryside. Occasionally they interrupt their conversations to smile and shrug, as if to indicate there’s nothing they can do. I know what they can do, but I believe it would be illegal to suggest it. By the time little Ethan or Cameron is given a “time out,” I’m viewing China’s compulsory sterilization policy in a new light.

Then there’s the exhibit entitled People Who Put “Hello?” at the End of a Sentence. You know those people, the ones who tell you you’re doing something wrong, like entering through an exit--and end their remonstrance with “hell-o?” In this part of the museum, all the clearly marked exits would be entrances, and vice versa, just for the “hell-o?” of it. Plus there’d be a place for old ladies who admonish you with the news that “Your purse is open!” as though there was something shockingly obscene about it.

Perhaps my favorite permanent installation, sure to be a crowd-pleaser, would be People Who Jiggle Your Seat in Movie Theaters. Another of my favorite sections would be reserved for Characters in TV Series Who Clench Their Fists and Say “Yesss!” when something goes their way. In close proximity would be People Who Use the Simile “Like a Deer Caught in Headlights.” I once heard a radio commentator refer to the entire city of L.A. during the riots as being like a deer caught in headlights. I don’t know where that particular pundit is today, but if I did, I’d like to catch him in my headlights, shoot him, stuff him and add him to my collection.


In the extensive Fashion Wing, I’d assemble a variety of fashion faux pas that would have the late Diana Vreeland spinning up topsoil. A whole room would have to be devoted to headgear, with plenty of space both for People Who Wear Baseball Caps Backward and People Who Think They Can Be Taken Seriously in Stocking Caps in the Summer. You can imagine what the Ripped Jeans Room would look like. And a special seasonally rotating exhibit would be installed for People Who Dress in Sporting Gear When the Last Sport They Engaged in Was Standing in Line For a Latte at the West Hollywood Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf. This would take place in a life-sized replica of the West Hollywood Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, which deserves a room of its own in the Hall of the Desperately Trendy.

The Automotive Wing would feature, among other riveting displays, People Who Can’t Figure Out Who Goes First at Four-Way Stops and People Who Drive Four-Wheel Drive Vehicles Very Slowly in the Rain. In fact, I might just include All People Who Drive Four-Wheel Drive Vehicles Outside Montana (and I don’t mean Montana Avenue).

Of course, a museum on this grand a scale would have to have a restaurant--in which the waiters could be classified as interactive exhibits, thus allowing them to tell you their names, the names of their agents and the three-act story structures of their screenplays. They also would be compelled to utter the self-evident sentence “I’ll be your waiter today,” thus setting up the disturbing possibility that on some other day, they might choose to be something else like, oh, say, your hairdresser or your development executive.

My museum also would have to be big enough to include another museum: the new Getty. C’mon, admit it, aren’t you sick of hearing about it? I know I am, and I haven’t even been there yet. I’m dreading that tram ride already. I think when the petty struggles between the architect and the landscape artist can be extensively documented in the New Yorker--a magazine named after a city most of whose inhabitants will never even have a shot at visiting the Getty--it proves there is such a thing as bad publicity.

And if only we can lure the New Yorker fiction editor here (“Psst! Free passes to the Getty!”), I’d like to turn him into an exhibit, just for running all those short stories about picturesque, quirky people living in trailer homes who would never, by any stretch of the imagination, read the New Yorker.


I’m not quite sure how the actual mechanics of the museum would work. Of course, if we could obtain the living authors of these offenses and preserve them for posterity under pin spots in rigorously climate-controlled conditions, we would be doing the world (and me personally) a huge favor. But that seems impractical, at least until I’m appointed Art Czar. I was thinking more along the lines of audio-animatronics, like at DisneyWorld.

Perhaps I could even get Disney interested. Despite the wholesome Disney image, I understand there are quite a few intolerant people who work there. And now that artsy director Julie Taymor has hip-ened up “The Lion King” on Broadway, they might be open to something a little more avant-garde. I’m hoping we can talk.

If you are interested in playing a personal role in helping the Museum of Intolerance build a better tomorrow and reach countless people--particularly youngsters--with its powerful message, or if you have any pull with Disney, please contact me care of this newspaper. The first 50 people to sign up are guaranteed not to receive a free tote bag.