1507 c/o Wes Schofield

Mona versus America: the battle for 1507

Lisa Gherardini received a letter in her mailbox the morning of December 18th of the year 1507. She slept late on this day and didn’t retrieve her mail till late in the afternoon. When she finally pulled the yellow unmarked envelope from the box and knocked down the little red flag she tore the paper open and read the words written there and here is what they said.

Lisa, I finally finished the bloody thing. You’re gorgeous. Just thought you should know. I think I’ll sell it to a king or something.


“So the dirty old man finally finished it. Well, that’s something I guess. It’s news at least”, she thought.

She wanted to tell someone. She might be hanging in the same room as a king.

“Amerigo, Amerigo!”

Lisa had just spotted her neighbor, Amerigo Vespucci, coming out to water his lawn.

“Mrs. G, lovely day isn’t it?”

“My portrait was finally finished. I just got a letter from Leo saying he finished it.”

“The dirty hippy?”

“Says maybe he’ll sell it to a king.”

“You’ve been immortalized.”

“I guess you could say that, yes.”

“That reminds me. You know that new continent that Columbus discovered a few years back.”

“The one they thought was India?”

“Right, well my buddy Martin was the one to draw up the new world map. Guess who he named the new continent after.”


“I was pretty surprised myself.”

“I’m so happy for you. What’s it called, “Vespucci-Land?”

“Nope, America”


“It’s a pretty big one too, you know, a lot larger than they first suspected.”

“America, that’s not really your name though, is it? It’s AmeriGO”

“It was probably typo.”



“Nothing, I’m really happy for you Amerigo. That’s awesome.”

Amerigo sprays his grass with a fine mist from the green garden hose.

“I don’t know why you’re doing that now. You should wait till the evening. You do it now, it’s so hot out, and the water all evaporates. You’re just wasting water.”

“What do I care? There lot’s of water.”

“I know, it's just kind of pointless that’s all. In an hour or so. It’ll all be dried out again.”

“So I’ll do it again later. I don’t mind. I like it.”

“I’m just saying.”

It when then that there arose between our two heroes a very long and very awkward pause, that, however much they tried could not be filled with more than a haphazard sign or the incomplete raising of an eyebrow. And so it was until the silence between them was so unbearable they could no longer restrain themselves from asking the impossibly obvious question percolating inside their skulls.

“So what do you think is—“, Lisa started.

“Better?” Vespucci interjected. “ To be remembered throughout the ages as—“

“A masterpiece painting hung for all times in the grandest museum—“ Lisa tried to finish.

“Or be the name of a country, whom everyone fears and admires, a world superpower.”

The question now complete its philosophic weight hung between then like that giant boulder that that Greek (or was he Roman) fellow had to push up that mountain for all eternity. Most heavily.

“It all depends on your point of view.” Lisa smartly stated.

“To each his own, the eye of the beholder, good for the goose.”

“But not for the gander. Etcetera, etcetera and yadda, yadda, yadda. But what do you really think. That is what I would like to know.” Lisa pried Vespucci further.

“Well they each have their merits that is to be sure. To hang in a museum gawked at for centuries, criticized, mocked, analyzed, scrutinized, mined of all your meanings, and not just by the academics, aficionados and critics, but also the bubble gum chewing public, the family vacationers with their whiny teenagers and babies covered in spit-up, backpacking college graduates off to find themselves and have promiscuous sex in hostels all over Europe, these people will all debate your merits and say to themselves, ‘gee, it's kind of small.’”

“A master artwork has a simple grace that no matter how much it is viewed or debated or mimicked or whatever, it will always retain the purity of its essential self.” Lisa chimed back.

“Even when its likeness can be found on anything from posters to postcards, t-shirts, and novelty underwear. A great piece of artwork like yours becomes watered down through the ages but the spirit of a country can be rejuvenated with every generation.”

“Possibly true. But what of a country? Admired and feared, like you said. The land of the free, maybe, a place of which people would dream of one day reaching only to one day finally arrived and find that their Doctor’s License or PhD only qualified them to drive a cab or work at KFC, or some other dreadful immigrant cliché. Maybe a country where the favorite pastime is to stare slack jawed at some sort of flashing light box with Surround Sound watching Blu-ray high definition DVDs of the latest and greatest big budget blockbuster superstar action thriller comedy scored with the director’s inane self-aggrandizing masturbatory audio commentary.”

“I prefer to think of the grand scale of things. Of a country that will be the first to plant their flag in outer space. Of a country that will elect a member of the minority to their highest level of office. A place where life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness is guaranteed in the constitution. And a country that strives endlessly to bring those same rights to people all over the globe. Spreading the hope of democracy and peace to all nations.” Vespucci prophesized.

“Those ideals are never the reality. The truth is that such greatness always comes hand in hand with corruption and greed. And in the attempt to spread the hope of democracy and peace as you say it, well that only comes at the expense of those other cultures you are so arrogantly trying to save from themselves. How many wars are you willing to wage and lives are you willing to sacrifice in your efforts at peace? Nobody will ever die because a painting hangs on wall.”

“Nobody will ever die for a painting on a wall because such a piddling piece of entertainment would never warrant such a sacrifice.”

“And I say that speaks very poignantly to the greater power of a work of art.”

“But who’s to say Leo’s portrait of you will be such a masterpiece?” Vespucci simply stated.

“And who’s to say America will ever become the country you imagine.”

“Too true, too true. This, I will say however, is certain: That it is emphatically better to be remembered for something no matter what, great or small, than nothing at all.”

“Yes, those poor sods that don’t have portraits drawn of them or countries named after them are really pitiful creatures.”