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|Friday, April 13th, 2018|
|Wowed at the Weisman
When asked I tell people, mostly visitors to LA, that the Norton Simon Museum has by far the best collection in Southern California if not the West Coast. But I now must qualify this. If you just want to see twentieth century art, there is nothing that rivals the Frederick R. Weisman Foundation. Located in Holmby Hills, the foundation is restricted (by neighbors) from advertising, promotion and all sorts of other things that ordinarily would draw attention to the greatest art collection I have ever seen in one place. The art in the house is left exactly as Fred Weisman had it hung the day he passed. The only exceptions are because of lending art to shows (big museum shows of important works), those pieces get replaced from a vast stockpile of the Weisman collection that happened to not be hung on the walls the day Fred passed. On the day I visited, the docent, who leads the group and whose biggest rule is that nobody is allowed to leave her line of sight, mentioned that a few masterpieces we were looking at were only there because the occasional Jasper Johns painting that was supposed to be there was part of the major retrospective of the artist currently at the Broad Museum.( Read more...Collapse )
|Wednesday, March 14th, 2018|
|Some Thoughts After Yet More MOCA Drama
Never considered MOCA to be "An Artists' Museum". Always a palace of the 1% ...That is the role of Institutions.
Individuals storm the gates. The idea that any break thru and those then change things is more mythical than "Star Wars".
The idea of "critiquing from within" or "sharing the stories of others" is a stale masquerade, a Mardi Gras in November, maybe serious as a cotillion rehearsal but more juvenile.
Everyone wants the power of Mister Burns but nobody wants to be an out-of-touch fuddy-duddy. Everyone wants the power of shaping art history but they also want that power to get them a cameo on a couture catwalk where they will strut like it was just a lucky accident that happened to the deserving for once.
Now the pretense has been ratcheted up a notch - the academics want to be given the keys to the kingdom with the express written intent of tearing apart the institution. Is it up to those of us who have been saying "You in Power Suck" to say "But Stay There and Keep Your Power So That We Have Something to React Against"... Might that be the battle cry in an era where radicalism is a career strategy with corporate backing and champagne branded sponsorship?
The cry was for museums to be inclusive but some white elites think that if it is going to be diverse than its fundamental presence must be altered (their egos won't let them see themselves in the role of the fuddy duddy).THey just won't let anyone else into their mom and dad's museum, they have to change it into a public picnic in order to feel safe having ten percent nonwhite, twenty percent non-weinered inclusion. The subtext of their Hacktivism: "You, my temporary guests, included on my largesse that is at best an extended lark during our perestroika moment, you just aren't good enough for the Hallowed Halls".
Just as the ubiquity of academia in the art world changed the notion of the studio art teacher as a bittersweetly removed also-ran in the quest for art historical inclusion to a well-financed "player on the scene", so to has the academia made institutions collegial co-minglings of one-percenter trusteeship whose wealth-crimes nobody ever really prosecutes with credentialed-yet-specious Pee-Aitch-Deeze whose catalog essays nobody ever really reads.
I just want to go somewhere with amazing art that is clean and well-lit, quiet -not stuffy but almost sacred- where I can impress my date and not regret skipping a movie. That used to be ninety percent of the museums. Now it is ten perecent while everything else is a careerist-lubed-fisting-first rimjob that fast-tracks the friends of friends and favors of board members and ...ah shit, maybe i was always this way and I just see it more clearly as the longer I've been in the art world.
It is just funny that White Academia insists on taking over in a very specific way, consistently, where everything appears inclusive but nothing is allowed to compete with history (as the past has been deconstructed). How collegial, how bigoted (softly lowered expectations with a smile and a deadly reminder of just WHO raised you "up"), how sexist too, as career feminists™ stab female (and female-identifying) colleagues in the back just as ruthlessly and efficiently as the apocryphal Straight White Male).
The "Man" still lauughs, still gets paid, still cleans up at the end of the night, still owns saloon where you drown your sorrows and still puts his kid thru college without needing financial aid.
But your whole career implies that you know this without ever facing it. You eluder you, you will never be a fuddy duddy though, nope. No way.
|Tuesday, February 13th, 2018|
|A Parable about Illustration.
There was a people who mingled freely with art. They were called illustrators. Their assistance on many projects was sought and appreciated. They made art better when they were involved. But at some point, some in art decided they were too predominant and openly scorned what they brought. Over the years the were slowly cut off from art, isolated into their own land. It was a fertile valley where they thrived, illustration. From the mountains above the artists all looked down on the valley in scorn. The streams and farms and villages in the valley were sneered at by the lofty artists. The illustrators were not climbing the treacherous cliffs of conceptualism nor braving the isolated plateaus of abstraction. They were thriving in the valley of illustration with commercial applications of their talents. They painted signs, movie posters, drew comic books, invented ways to animate their drawings. They paired these animations with narrative and merged with the nascent land of cinema out beyond their valley.
From their perch on the mountains, the artists saw all of this and ignored what was happening in the valley. Dialogue about why the activites of the valley were impure became more important than making art. Talking about art and why it was superior to illustration turned into a ritual. Soon those beginning their journey up the hills and mountains of art were asked to engage in this ritual, to talk about how bad illustration was, to forego the making of art to the talking about art. This ritual was popular, and some of the people who didn't want to climb to the heights of the mountains settled into camps in the foothills. There they made ritualized, elaborate discussions about the evils of illustration an attractive place to begin one's ascent of the mountains. Anyone climbing too high as an artist who had not paid to learn the lessons of the camps was ostracized no matter how far up the mountains of art they climbed. Some artists set up checkpoints on the mountain path and insisted one could not pass up higher without proucing a piece of paper that one had attended the camps. The paper was alled an MFA. Brave, independent artists knew they could push forward but the network of MFA graduates did help each other scale those peaks.
Then one day an illustrator down in the valley built an All-Terrain-Vehicle. It was named PHOTOSHOP. For a few dollars an illustrator could by this ATV and drive up the mountains. They could race in the foothills, putting the MFA programs to shame with what one could see and know about in a little bit of time, free from all the restrictions an aspiring artist would be subject to in those camps, and for much less money. Soon the ATVs were so popular on the mountain paths that art was populated with illustrators everywhere. They scaled the heights of the art mountains with ease, free to range over vast areas and to interact with artists who were so isolated that they were not aware of the fertile valley of commerce that illustration had become.
You will run into an oldtimer, hermetically clinging to the old ways of mountain climbing, now and again. This person will sneer and spit when you mention illustrators. These crusty old artists will mock commerce, even as they still owe money to the camp that taught them to never venture near the valley; they will stick to their narrow, craggy path and kiss the stone surface of the peaks for being inaccessible to Photoshop. And you will fly past them on the drone of your imagination, above the peaks and to the lands down beyond their other side...
|Saturday, January 20th, 2018|
|Happy 80th Birthday: Was Wolfman Jack "The Force" ?
Happy 80th Birthday: Was Wolfman Jack "The Force" ?
This Sunday would have been Wolfman Jack's 80th birthday.
Brooklyn-born Robert Weston Smith, aka Wolfman Jack, passed away at age 57 in the Summer of 1995 almost forgotten after a period of blazing hot celebrity ubiquity the likes of which no deejay before or since has ever known. His ten-year run near the top of popular culture came with his cameo in AMERICAN GRAFFITI. A small film at the time, it was a runaway box office success and cemented the careers of many associated with it, "The Wolfman" included.
Despite paving the way one of the five most successful sitcoms ever, HAPPY DAYS, in pop culture lore AMERICAN GRAFFITI's status is entwined with its commercial success and the leeway that gave director George Lucas to assure the movie studio bosses to fund his next film, a goofy science fiction lark called STAR WARS. Ever hear of it?
When STAR WARS was going over budget and about to get the plug pulled, everyone in the corporate boardroom was reminded they were still cashing checks from AMERICAN GRAFFITI and allowed their auteur to continue on his pet project. Certain he would come to his senses after this sci-fi folly, they laughed at his reduced salary in exchange for something called "merchandising rights" to the STAR WARS universe; they laughed and laughed and let him continue... all because the proof was in the AMERICAN GRAFFITI pudding.
But was there more in AMERICAN GRAFFITI than just commercial success?
In STAR WARS we are told that one unseen "force" binds together the entire universe. In AMERICAN GRAFFITI there is a continual unseen force binding together the universe of the teenagers populating their small town: the radio. And behind that radio, choosing the songs and driving their spirits was one diabolical, yet reassuring voice... that of Wolfman Jack.
The hero of AMERICAN GRAFFITI is Curt Skywalker... just kidding. Richard Dreyfuss plays Curt Henderson, the hero in an ensemble cast. He becomes obsessed by a nameless, distant but flirtatious blonde (played by Suzanne Sommers). He hatches a plan to get her attention - knowing that she, like every other teen in town, will be listening to Wolfman Jack's radio show featuring nothing but rock and roll from the past decade (the film is set in 1962), he visits the radio station to ask the legendary DJ to announce on-air that this dream girl should call Curt. Armed with the number of a payphone, he finds only a helpless manager struggling with melting popsicles from a broken refirgerator who explains that all of the Wolfman's shows are sent in by tape. He politely takes the now-broken teen's phone number and Curt leaves, dejected.
But, suddenly, there is... wait for it... wait for it...
...there is A New Hope.
Curt spies the station's night attendant suddenly in the DJ booth, howling in the infamous scratchy baritone that could only be that of the elusive Wolfman Jack.
Curt's request is granted. The Wolfman makes the plea on his behalf over the air. The girl eventually calls him at the phone booth... but it is too late. He is leaving for college that morning. He flies off and just before the plane hits the clouds he spots the blonde's Chevy driving down a highway below.
In STAR WARS, Obi Wan Kenobi is notably older than everyone else on Tattooine. He uses "The Force". In AMERICAN GRAFFITI, Wolfman Jack is the standout "elder" with access to the controls of the radio station. He pretends to be just the manager. But it is revealed that he is the force. Was he handing Curt a lightsaber when he offered him a popsicle? Luke Skywalker and Curt Henderson both fly off their desolate planets, one beginning an adventure (audience in tow) with no regrets, one starting a new life with only a note at the end that he became a writer living in Canada. BORING. What if Curt had used what the Wolfman had offered: THE FORCE! Eschew college and tell the girl to meet at you at the phone booth later that night, dude, DUH!
Offered use of The Force, Luke Skywalker submits to it completely and defeats the Empire. After one interaction with Wolfman Jack, Curt goes with his feelings, he uses the force, he knows he is already connected to the girl through THE WOLFMAN ("The Force") but at the moment he is getting everything his feelings want, he looks ahead to the future (the worst thing you can do in Obi-Wan's opinion), he tells her he is leaving in a few hours and all hope is lost. Sure, Curt went on to have a boring life as a boring writer in boring Canada (more exciting than being Richard Dreyfuss, though, HA!), but he did not defeat any empire and he didn't get to bang Suzanne Sommers which, four years later after THREE'S COMPANY was a hit, all of America wanted to do. You shoulda used The Force, Curt.
MORAL OF THE STORY:
•If Obi Wan offers you a light saber, you take it.
•If Wolfman Jack offers you a popsicle, you take it.
•If you trust your feelings and use The Force, goddammit follow through and defeat The Empire or at least get in the backseat of Suzanne's Chevy.
•There is no try, either Use the Force or fly off to boring college.
•Sure Obi -Wan was a Jedi master (yawn) but Wolfman Jack IS THE FORCE.
RIP WOLFMAN JACK, 1938-1995 for his 80th birthday, January 21, 2018.
|Monday, January 8th, 2018|
|Wish You Were Here
Saturday night was our first official art opening since Labor Day weekend. 125 days, wow. So much has changed since then. It was a good, consistent crowd all night and everyone got to see a great show. Thanks to Loren Philip for organizing a sweet selection of painters.
One thing on all of our minds since September was what would happen to the galleries in Chinatown after Greg Escalante. There have been "art world art" galleries on Chung King Road since China Art Objects opened their doors on January 14, 1999 - nineteen years now. Some have lasted for only a month or two, others have stayed a decade or more. It always seems tenuous - some people blithely squawk about some other era being a mythical high point and others cheer us on for keeping something (what exactly?) alive.
Greg's gallery was open almost exactly two years. His opening show was Labor Day Weekend 2015 and the gallery's final exhibit opened two years later. He died a week later. Giovanni Intra, one of the founders of China Art Objects, the first "art world art" gallery on Chung King Road, died of an accidental heroin overdose in December of 2002, a month shy of the gallery's three-year anniversary. So these things can come and go in what feels like an instant after seeming to be a permanent fixture. When they come, they have a momentum all their own. When they go, the impact differs - sometimes others shut their doors too, sometimes the next dealer is ready to push their way in and get up an exhibit.
The people who invest months and years of their lives into showing art, working at a gallery, they become fixtures in the neighborhood and then, poof, they are gone. Maybe it is a recession that wipes them off the map, or burnout, bad timing, some other misfortune, or in the case of more than a few of the galleries, even something better coming along and a move to a bigger space in a neighborhood closer to a wealthier clientele. These folks are central to the cultural life of the community and then... life goes on.
When I opened my gallery almost six years ago there was an old Chinese man who I would see watering a small planter every day. every single day. The succulents and greenery thrived. We never spoke until one day he was walking by a Tim Youd exhibit in the gallery and just lit up at the sight of an old typewriter, something from his world. His name was Gary and we chatted about typewriters in all their glory and the bygone days of typed letters in the mail. Gary's been dead about four years now. The planter is empty.
But a cataclysmic loss inevitably brings pause... "Is this it? Is Chinatown over?"... so many people said to me during my first few gallery openings "You're bringing Chinatown back to life!" that it started to sound like dancing on the graves of the places that had been there, each of them aspiring in their own vision, some dreaming of being the next Gagosian, others bandwagoning onto the scene, still others looking to make a buck and host a classy party or two in the process. All of these were of course caked onto over half a century of the Chinese American experience, starting with the need to for Chinatowns in the first place where the opportunities of the American Dream could only come when Chinese Americans separated themselves from most Americans. Their success and eventual transformation within the macrocosm led to the rental of some of the dumpier storefronts to Whitey McArtster, which led to a reliable enclave where fine art could thrive in an atmosphere free of tuition.
And so the rollercoaster - that grind of paying rent, funding projects, painting the walls, getting sick of Kung Pao chicken, sending out press releases and keeping some shred of commitment to a space in uninitiated conjunction with just a few others enough to appear, at times, as a community, a joint venture when all is running well and a gaggle of activity when left to our own devices - that rollercoaster dips and soars, on and on. The old theory was that all you needed for a gallery was a "Clean Well-Lit Space" but when you add in other galleries nearby, it can add to not only the quick acceptance of and interest in your exhibition space, but increase the reach and longevity of your curatorial program.
So Greg's tragic exit was just one more sad dive on the rollercoaster that is daily life in sustaining an "art world art" gallery neighborhood, this weird hybrid of retail mall, small museum, time capsule, and ego massage parlor. But Chinatown didn't end then. Tonight began the twentieth year of art world art in L.A.'s Chinatown. A great show, a great crowd, a great vibe. We all went out for Chinese food afterwards. Driving home I thought about the good times with Greg, almost four months gone. I turned on the radio. Pink Floyd's "Wish You Were Here" was playing. Wish you were here, Greg, the next chapter in Chinatown looks great... wish you were here.
|Thursday, January 4th, 2018|
|Only in SoCal...
I was driving East on Slauson heading out to the suburbs on the evening of January 2. I decided to take Telegraph out instead of the 5 South. Just as I was under the 5, in the right lane ready to turn right at the next light - two cop cars with their red and blue lights flashing were blocking the street. The cars said DOWNEY PD, but this is basically the City of Commerce, what the hell were Downey cops doing here?
Downey cops had, back in the day at least, a bad reputaiton. No matter what LAPD scandal was being discussed, someone inevitably brought up Downey cops as being even worse. This is like 1983, eighties talk, I don't go to Downey, the furthest that I get out that way is Costco in Norwalk or family in La Mirada.
But here is two Downey cop cars, lights flashing. I'm immediately in "law abiding" mode. The mini panic of confronting a cop who, rumor has it, gave tickets to kids riding thei bikes home from scool on the sidewalk, is in my head. Just stare straight ahead. Then they slowly start moving down Telegraph. A large truck follows them moving quite slowly. It is towing a large load - the City of Downey's Rose Parade float! Its some kitschy pair of doves flying around a globe. The cops who rumor had it cracked skulls were convoying their city's message for world peace from Pasadena to Downey at five miles per hour.
I reached for my phone - I had to take a picture of this. My phone was nowhere to be found. I had left it charging vby the bed at home. By this point I was following the convoy - two big City of Downey vehicles behind the world peace float chugging at 5 MPH, one giant, flower-covered bird looking right at me. I realized my camera, an actual camera dedicated to photography, NOT some "device" that did forty five things poorly but all in one, my camera was in my jacket pocket. I took it out and shot some pictures realizing that those Downey Cops were concentrating on the safe transport of world peace, not me!
After a mile that seemed to take forever, they turned south on Paramount...
I took Telegraph all the way until it ended at Imperial Highway. I went to a store there because I was early. I bought a few things and in the check out line I saw this:
I hope it's not true about Bill... but this is kinda what that bird looked like as it stared at my from its perch in that convoy, yesterday's fading star.
|Sunday, December 31st, 2017|
|Boyle Heights: Art Academia's Proxy War
What if the protests against the galleries in Boyle Heights are not really protests about gentrification. What if they are protesting the very existence of commercial art galleries? Who would be against galleries? Well, absent the totally fallible “art galleries cause gentrification” argument, there remains one subset of people who are against commercial art galleries. No, it is not Republicans, the greatest (i.e. most successful) commercial gallerist in art history, Larry Gagosian, is a Republican.
The group of people who are opposed to commercial galleries of fine art are art academics. Not all art academics, but a core belief in art academia is a disregard of the market to the point of contempt. Lo and behold, a cursory examination of the “leaders” of the protests against the commercial contemporary fine art galleries reveals mostly academics from art schools, as white as they are self-proclaimed radical.
Art Academia has a deep, long-standing anti-market bias. The honorable reason for this is that commercial concerns should not enter into an artist’s consciousness until they have mastered their medium. Over the years this reasonable curricula structure has morphed into the privileging of art that is unsellable, unmarketable, de-skilled, conceptually heavy (with a pretense that it is rigorous - which it almost never is) and self-righteous about its fundamentally anti-commercial nature. That this then morphs into socialist rhetoric (fellas, it’s been “late capitalism” since before the Berlin Wall fell, can you admit you haven’t done one thing to speed up the supposed final act) only adds to the pretense of professional intellectualism that art academia begs for.
Social practice is the religion of the academy these days. Art schools aren’t just content with talking about it anymore. Nope, they have to go out and do it. So they are protesting commercial art galleries as “performances that matter/make a difference”. They say they are protesting the alleged domino effect that art galleries have in the gentrification chain of events. That these spaces represent everything that art academia has been against long before the last three economic upswings created different waves of very real and impactful gentrification on non-white neighborhoods is pretty convenient.
But art academia has adopted social practice as a religion precisely because reinforces and rewards art academics for what they do best: dabble. They are fucking dabblers. There is no rigor in social practice. It mouths the platitudes of social work without actually studying social work. It dabbles in urban planning without any rigorous work in that specialized field. It has all the pretense of professional vocations without any of the commitment. Dabble, perform (protest), call it art, network their notoriety to a panel discussion at MOCA (which is okay because it is non-commercial, never mind the billionaire capitalists on the board because, hey, they give out grants and this is not a commercial endeavor).
Art academia has been opposed to the art market for more than half a century. This opposition has been passive. They have ignored students’ calls for classes to prepare them for the market because “that’s a bad thing” and they have undermined students chances at succeeding in the market by privileging modes of expression that succeed in academic circles. But in the past thirty months, art academia has not been passive. They have begun a proxy war against commercial art spaces. Supposedly in the name of fighting gentrification, the real thing that is going on here is a chance for them to thoroughly disgrace mixing art and commerce, repudiate mediums of portability (i.e., sellable objects) and of course boost their own careers as artists based on being pious, virtuous social practitioners for all the little people who don’t have a voice, nor an invite to the elite cocktail parties that art academics are sick of seeing artists who sell well at.
|Wednesday, January 4th, 2017|
|Jack In The Box Tacos
So the Wall Street Journal had a salute to Jack In The Box's tacos today and it brought back a flood of memories of bygone days when I didn't give a fucking thought to tomorrow... aka, my mis-spent youth.http://www.wsj.com/articles/americans-eat-554-million-jack-in-the-box-tacos-a-year-and-no-one-knows-why-1483465285
The fact is they are two for ninety-nine-cents. there is no better deal on Earth. A buck and seven or eight cents change and you got dinner and it tastest great. I drank. Pretty heavy. Every penny went to the booze. All day. Every day. All I ate was those tacos and donuts n the moning, usually the cheaper day old donuts. Where I lived nobody liked the jelly-filled ones, so those became my 25-cent breakfast the next day (probably three days later, really).
Most of everything else Jack In The Box sells sucks. They buy tons of advertising on sporting events and push a monthly ceative special. I tried a few of those over the years. There was one, a chicken sndwich with a mushroom sauce on it, I loved those, but ofr the most part they serve lousy food.
Well the years went on, I got sober, then more years went on and I ate better, stopped eating wheat and one day, starving, at a stadium for a sporitng event, there was a Jack In The box and they had the tacos. Guess what... they could not assure me they were gluten free but the woman at the counter then leaned over and whispered "They're gluten-free". A revelation. I ate five of them at $2.49 apiece and still spent less than anyone in that crowd of 38,000.
So tempted to go buy a pair now just for the hell of it.
|Tuesday, December 20th, 2016|
|The Art World Versus Middle Class Values
Almost all art world doctrine boils down to rejecting the values of the middle class. When you hear the term "BOURGEOISE" it basically means the middle class. The people who have to get up and go to work so they can support a family that can thrive without ever really getting to the point where they can break that cycle and avoid getting up and going to work in the morning.The doctrine is not some screed nailed to the wall. It oozes out of everything and everyone. It changes over time as the middle class expands, contracts, wisens up, lets its guard down, et cetera over the years. All those macho Ferrus Gallery sausages were striving every day to be anathema to a middle class that aspired to own a color television set and take their three kids to church on Sunday. And thus the doctrine was born.Art schools themselves are devoted, almost exclusively, to rationalizing a rejection of middle class existence - and yet they do so wholly without dwelling on this source point of contempt.
The art produced in the academies totally rejects anything and everything associated with being middle class.
LABOR - The past twenty years has seen the emphasis to "deskilling". Working at anything is way too middle class.
KITSCH - Everything embodied in middle class sentimentality is fair game as subject matter as long as the artist goes about it in a mean, superior/digusted manner.
CRAFT - Since it takes time (thus labor) and might appeal to people from rdinary backgrounds based on its uniqueness, anything well-crafted is ostracized fromt he contemporary art dialogue.
NARRATIVE - Artists are free to have a personla language of symbols that seem nonsensical, but a narrative that includes the viewer and rewards anyone with the curiosity to explore is pretty much outlawed in the art world today.
PRIDE - Taking pride in a job well done is disallowed - in the academies not overtly through policy but through the socialization of the student body and through the critique process by the steady stream of academics, themselves self-proclaimed escapes from the middle class and yet, as conservative and vacuous as their parents and neighbors back in the burbs. Pride in getting away with something, though, is the bread and butter of the art academy, and the art world.
Rejecting all that the middle class stands for is, simply, a desperate gesture to avoid self-loathing on the part of the entire art world - from the students to the teachers to the commercial gallerists to the institution's many castes to many of the collectors. The occasional overprivileged art school student will inadvertently bring in taboo (middle class) tropes and be applauded for sneering at all that is terrible. The occasional underprivileged (working class) student will earnestly deliver some of these same taboo approaches to visual composition and both the tropes AND the earnestness (the ultimate manifestation of aggrandizing middle class values) will be harshly critiqued, unless the working class student throws in anti-bourgeoise political stances to steer the academic community away from seeing the work as truly threatening.
There is the irony, radical leftism is perfectly acceptable because it carries no threat to the academy, aimed as it is toward all that the middle class stands for. And what floats in the academy pretty much floats in every sector of the art world outside of an increasingly invisible, marginalized bohemian sector.
|Sunday, November 20th, 2016|
Well well well, we see how it is going to go in the coming Trump administration. Today was the blueprint.
After insisting that he never settles lawsuits, the President-Elect settled the Trump University lawsuit for $25 mIllion.
This disturbed the news cycle domination of his meeting with Mitt Romney, the biggest news coming out of the cabinet selection process as it would reveal that Don has the capability of sharing power with someone who criticized the President-Elect during the campaign and who represents the distant sane (sans "Binders Full of Women"
) shore of the Republican establishment. The big news is that the President-Elect is seeking to be normalized, to have his election campaign sins (too numerous to count, but basically dividing up America with the sharpest Ginsu knife in history)
forgiven and to be seen as a sober, thoughtful leader. The Romney meeting, possibly news of an almost-moderate with something resembling a soul joining the mouseketeers or maybe just some tactical theater, is the message sent out to dominate the headlines, to dissipate the critique of Bannon and the cabinet posts, to seep into the consciousness of 300 million people who saw or heard Non-Fake-News™
eleven days after the election was over.
Trump University started to push Romney off the front page (is that print news term THE FRONT PAGE still assignable to digitally-delivered info?
. The cast of the popular Broadway show gave the Vice-President-Elect a piece of its mind. So now the "Romney Olive Branch"
was snapped off like a twig and a lawsuit and a thespian-scolding are pushing-back against Don's still-being-assembled machine.
So Don simply follows the blueprint. He tweets an absurd little rant and the pushback slams against it all. A wall. He built a wall on twitter on day eleven to stop any advances. Because instantly, his tweet, the tone of it, the meaning of it, the impulse behind it, the implications of it, this was all that anyone could rush to their keyboards to write about, to post about, to pontificate about. The talking heads talked (I was out all day, actually, did they? Of course they did
). And social media had funny memes of Abraham Lincoln
saying things like "Worse things have happened in a theater"
bwahahaha, I mean the amped-up inspiration and passion to talk about the President-Elect shaming thespians was everywhere, it dominated human consciousness across America.
The talk about the fraud underneath a $25 Million settlement disappeared before it fully formed. Little talk about the righteous calling out a bigot in a public (if quite expensively ticketed)
Nope... it was all about having the hottest take on the tweet. The tweet that made him look like a fascist to his opponents, a strong man to his suppoerters and a guy who sticks up for his Vice President to anyone still on the frickin' fence.
He has a blueprint. Rock-'em, Sock-'em, Shock-'em
. We will lose count of how many times he follows this blueprint. We will never become jaded because he will find new ways to do this Rock-Sock-Shock schtick that defy taste, gravitas and decency. He will control the news cycle by making us all dance.
So on day eleven, I will not dance. The President-Elect defrauded customers through a scam called Trump University. He is terrified of perjuring himself, a threat to everything he has gained, so he is winding up all these lawsuits. That's the story. What can we learn from today's story is that he engages in fraud and that he does not want to go on the record of how he commits fraud. That is the story of day eleven. We may need to remember this lesson in the coming months and years.
|Sunday, November 13th, 2016|
|Doing Defeats Trumpman
I had to break the news to my wife that Trump might win.
We'd been in that bubble that believed he did not have a chance.
A comfortable place.
We had gone to see two movies that Tuesday afternoon so that we could avoid any bluster he made about the thing being rigged.
Our plan was to get back home in time to watch Hillary give her victory speech. We had a snack in between the films and I saw a TV screen in a bar with visuals announcing that Hillary had won Connecticut and Trump had won Kentucky. It reassured me - no surprises in those two. But after the second film I turned the phone on to summon the Über and the texts from friends were all there. Walking outside on the sidewalk people were standing and looking at their phones and there were gasps, and "Wow
"s and "Whaaaaaat?
"s and even an "Oh no...
" or two... and so I told her there was a chance he might win as I was flagging down the driver.
A few months ago my older brother was ordained a deacon in the Catholic church. We went to the ceremony in the Cathedral. My wife whispered to me "No women up there
" with as much contempt as could be fit into the wind of her throat without rustling the vocal chords - all of which might have caused a shriek of wrath. So that is who she is and I knew she would not take Tuesday night's shocking narrative well as the Prius stopped at the curb and we climbed in the back seat. We couldn't stick our heads in the clouds on this one. She was gone ... ... ...
There has been an anger in our household ever since. In times of tension with us I am the angry one and she is the depressed analytic. Roles have been reversed this time, at least for now, but at least it is a righteous anger and a righteous depression we carry. Need I analyze the hell out of this election result? No. The buffoonery, the trivia, and the minutia are all there on the record for our children to gasp in horror about long after our funerals and the likelihood of being some dark force's Orwellian tool always lurks when it comes to parsing policy.
You see, I am an anti-wonk and don't give a fuck about policy, so the only language I can muster to talk about politics is the unconscious, animal brain archetypes beneath (and occasionally above)
it all. Policy is an illusion; Symbolism is what cuts deep down into the soul, the psyche, the subconscious. And so I can work thru this 62-million votes worth of suckerpunch by exploring what it all symbolizes. I detest everything this man symbolizes, from the elitism to the apathy, past the pomposity and into the sniveling monarchical assumption of intellect. My wife is past her initial anger over the whoring nature of his ego and also really gets into seeing these fetid Jungian archetypes he incarnates. She always reminds folks "Never deny the shadow"
and the sun is certainly fucking blocked at the present moment.
So all we have now is our freedom of speech. Protesting, marching, organizing, resisting... these are all in the family tree of free speech. And so are writing, painting, hiding under one's bed, performing, streaking, dancing, folding one's arms and shrugging, leaving to get a beer, leaving, coming back, sculpting, photographing, rhyming, rapping, crapping, flapping, blogging, flogging and driving aimlessly around the neighborhood with the radio on. It is all ours today as much as it was on November 7. Maybe even more now.
I'm still kind of shell-shocked so even though this is about all the speech I can muster on the subject of this Roccoco spectacle of shit, I am comforted that this republic's foundation of free speech is a shit-ton stronger, and profoundly more formidable, than anything he and his nepotistic goonsquad can send our way. Don't mistake this devil for America. Compose the America you are and the America you want with the speech you inately possess. Our screenplay for the next four years can make a better movie than the Pennsylvania Avenue reality show getting ready to air in January.
|Monday, October 24th, 2016|
|Tom Hayden on Wadsworth Avenue
RIP Tom Hayden, 76.
My grandparents fought the eminent domain of their property in the Ocean Park neighborhood of Santa Monica in the 1950s to the point that the city "settled" with them by giving them a turn of the century Victorian home a block from the beach between Neilsen and PCH back when that was a sketchy neighborhood. We would spend our Christmasses and Easters and some Summer Sundays there. My grandmother was quite social so the neighbors were always around. It is hard to imagine Santa Monica as a lower-class bohemian backwater but actors past their prime, beatnik-leaning sweater-wearing types and has-been but still-vain Muscle Beach athletes with heavy lifting union jobs made up a big chunk of the locals.
At some point in the mid-1970s, Tom Hayden and Jane Fonda moved into a house down the street from "The Gleasons". It was a big deal. She was a celebrity who had mocked American might in Vietnam (a sore point still radioactive to half of America even still then)
. He was one of the "Chicago Seven/Eight"
slowly guiding the left of left into the establishment through state politics, California State politics to be precise. There is no contemporary pairing to equate with these two. Imagine a young, better-looking Bernie Sanders with more radical credentials hooking up with Angelina Jolie after she had stopped the Iraq war... okay, maybe that... so now imagine them moving to the equivalent of a Fontana trailer park by the beach. That is kind of what Tom Hayden and Jane Fonda did when they moved to Wadsworth Avenue.
So you could probably mark the beginning of the beach neighborhoods becoming prime real estate with this move. Ten years later all the funk was gone. People Magazine
featured them in this new, downsized glory. There was talk of the feds spying on them in the guise of repairmen. My Uncle Teddy lived with my grandparents and spoke of shooing away more than a few "square-looking" types taking an interest in their house. The one-way street is ridiculouly narrow and the porch steps and front doors abut the sidewalks quite closely. There could have been a real goldfish bowl atmosphere there but the neighbors were just too classically laid back Southern Californians to act like they gave much of a shit about something as superficial as Hollywood celebrity or the glow of radical chic.
In April of 1981 my grandfather passed away. We were at the house when my grandmother took me aside and said "I want you to go down and tell Tom Hayden and Jane Fonda that Mister Gleason died."
Looking back, I think this is the only thing she ever singled me out for - there were so many grandkids at family functions that if you weren't stepping on her foot you got overlooked. So it was kind of like being on a mission. All those years I had known they were there, everyone talked about it, now I had a reason to go there. So I knocked on the door and heard barking dogs and the rumbling that comes with their charge. A voice asked "Can I help you?"
and I explained I was from the Gleasons up the street and Tom Hayden opened the door. He was holding back two large dogs by their collars. Big in the way that persuades one to get the fuck out and not come back.
Leaning away from the canines, I told him the news about my grandfather and he was saddened, told a story about his kids leaving some broken toys on the porch up the street and my grandfather fixing them and returning them. He was as handy as they come and Tom Hayden articulated his appreciation of that. I was 14 with acne and coke bottle glasses and he spoke to me neighbor to neighbor, the way a good politician does, but also the way a legitimately good neighbor does. He and Jane came up to the house later for condolences. It was the house where the neighborhood voted, the news crews huddled on the porch one election to get footage of Tom and Jane walking up the steps to vote. They lingered on shots of the stained glass all around the house - my grandfather's retirement project was as much stained glass as a house could handle. They did not have to come up that day though, the wake was crowded with well-wishers and condolence-givers (is that a term?)
. But they had to know that there was a validation in their presence, that in them being good neighbors, the act of being a good neighbor was strenghtened. There was a conservative faction in the family that melted at this simple generosity on their part. We could all learn from this civility known as normal just 35 years ago.
Years later, like 1994/5ish, I was at some art function that involved something charitable and public art related - something where the classes mixed back when that practice was more accepted and the art world and the political elite were not busy making themselves inaccessible from the common strivers which abound - I've been to hundreds of these events, the specifics of most of the 1980s and 90s are a lot less clear than Christmas Day at the blue collar Santa Monica Pier in the 1970s. So there is Tom Hayden standing next to me milling about in a crowd at an art show near the table with the cheese and crackers. He's split from Jane for years now and has won and lost elections to various state positions. I strike up a conversation with him by mentioning Wadsworth and Uncle Teddy and the time I knocked on his door and he says "You've grown!"
Now maybe it was the politician in him, but it was that neighbor to neighbor tone again. Something I would hope every politician could master because they are actually in touch with that sort of outlook on life, no matter how radical their background was or what their policy aspirations were or what class they were coming from or heading to. I had read somewhere that he liked baseball and I brought it up and we talked Dodgers, his team, for ten minutes or so. Affable despite feeling out of place at an art thingy, he seemed to relish a break from wonks to talk sports with what he perceived to be an old neighbor (I never lived in Santa Monica but I never brought that up)
. As he left he asked me to say hello for him to Uncle Teddy. A year or two later I relayed that story and Teddy confirmed my feelings about Tom Hayden, "Never met celebrities more normal than Tom and Jane... you'd completely forget the two of them almost blew up the whole frickin' United States when you would go ask to borrow a cup of sugar... they were such regular, nice people."
Tom Hayden, on behalf of the Gleasons of Wadsworth, Rest In Peace.
Come to think of it, my grandfather was 76 when he passed away.