Joe Pisani contemplates artist’s avant garde mask use

Joe Pisani bemoans the endless cycle of shoveling snow.

Joe Pisani bemoans the endless cycle of shoveling snow.

Joe Pisani /

Everyone is glad the coronavirus lockdown is over. There’s dancing in the streets, malls and doctors’ offices. This was a hard-won right.

One headline in particular put everything in perspective for me: “Artist wears bikini made of face masks at Trader Joe’s to protest lockdown.”

It reminded me that I live in America, land of the free and home of the wacky, where we all have a right to freedom of expression. So let me exercise my freedom of expression.

There were several pictures from different vantage points of the nearly nude woman wearing face masks in strategic places. I wanted to include a few, but didn’t because this is a G-rated column, well maybe PG, PG-13 at worst. What does it matter? Young people don’t read.

The story said, “DaVida Sal wore masks as underwear, as well as over her eyes, shoulders and ankles but not over her mouth. The performance artist was seen posing with a cart full of groceries outside a Trader Joe’s in Los Angeles.”

So what if she’s an artist? If I did that, the headline would proclaim, “Screwball wears Speedo made of protective mask!” Someone would call 911 while someone else whipped out a cellphone to videotape me in HD. A few bystanders would probably faint, but that’s known as collateral damage.

Then, the police would send a SWAT team with underwear-sniffing dogs, while the Trader Joe’s security squad, dressed in Hawaiian shirts, stormed out of the store and tried to bribe me to leave the premises with a bag of sugar snap peas and a jar of organic watermelon fruit spread.

Why do avant-garde artists get away with these stunts while ordinary civilians, who appreciate the art of Thomas Kinkade and Tony Orlando and Dawn, get dragged into court?

Let me set the record straight. We go to Trader Joe’s a lot, at least my wife Sandy does, while I wait in the car — not because I’m a lazy good-for-nothing husband who doesn’t want to help his spouse with the shopping, dishwashing and other assorted chores, although that thought has crossed her mind. I just get nervous around people who are always holding up traffic in the aisles so they can read labels because they’re obsessed with healthy living. (I’m talking about my wife.)

But back to the issue at hand. This was a Trader Joe’s in Los Angeles, where the perception of the universe is entirely different from ours because they live on avocados and kale gnocchi. Fortunately, the sensible and sane people of Los Angeles, all three of them, saw right through this artist’s stunt.

The lockdown was never very popular with those of us who want to get out of the house and spend. But this was a decision made by our duly elected political leaders, who always have our best interests in mind, I think. I hope.

If you don’t like the way we do things here in the U.S. of A., move to Russia and take our elected officials with you. They don’t have a lockdown in Russia. They have a lockup. Sorry, sometimes I get carried away with my patriotism.

I’m sure a certain segment of society applauds a performance artist who parades around in nothing more than a face mask. I am not one of them. I always say if you want to wear a face mask for underwear, do it in the privacy of your bedroom.

And I’m not the kind of person who enjoys hanging out in Times Square, where artists wander around topless with body paint covering their unmentionables while they scam you for $100 to have their photos taken in a demonstration of freedom of expression, although I’m not sure what they’re expressing.

During these troubling times, I often recall the immortal words of the great artist, Tony Orlando, who encouraged every American to “Tie a yellow face mask ’round the ole oak tree...” Whoever thought face masks could be such all-purpose items?

Joe Pisani can be reached at