Thursday, June 25, 2015
AIN'T MY BATTLE FLAG
I've never been much of a patriot. Nationalism really turns me off. It's like religion. If one proclaims his or her allegiance to a particular country or belief system it is at the cost of leaving all others behind. I may have been born a Presbyterian American, but this is just luck of the draw. I will never own this as my identity. Growing up in the 50's and 60's, we were not so removed from the swastika or the hammer and sickle, both great graphics that connoted extreme nationalistic evil. The more benign stars and stripes was always referred to with reverence, as an example of "good" triumphing over "evil". We saluted and pledged our allegiance to that red, white and blue piece of cloth hanging in the corner of every American classroom. I never thought much about it......until the 60's.
When Vietnam came along the lines were drawn. Abbie Hoffman made the flag into a suit of protest and for the first time I saw it for what it was- a battle flag. Just like the debate that now rages in the wake of the horrific killings in SC, Old Glory is a just as much a symbol of hatred, genocide and occupation as it ever was. I'm all for removing that rebel crap from government property. Only I would take it one step further. Take down Betsey. But what would our flag be, you ask? Personally I liked the Brooklyn Bridge bleached flags that those German artists installed last year. But an even better idea would be to have no flag. Imagine how a Native American feels about seeing that "American" flag, after having an entire culture systematically annihilated under that flowing banner. The south may have had a slave economy the longest, but this country was built with Black, Brown, Yellow and Red slave labor. God Bless Nowhere. We are all complicit.
Thursday, June 18, 2015
CRAZY IS THE NEW BLACK
Update: The Washington Post reports- "Filmmaker" Joe Gibbons, arrested for bank robbery (as art) back in the winter, has pleaded guilty to burglary. He will be sentenced next month.
I'm actually in a Gibbon's film. It's a rambling piece of crap titled THE GENIUS. I play a disturbed individual who threatens my doctor (played by Joe) with a Swiss Army knife. A FUCKING SWISS ARMY KNIFE! What was I supposed to do cork screw him to death? Aside from being typecast as a wing nut with a grudge, my film career stalled after this. Even a mention in Variety didn't help. The phone stopped ringing. I wasn't much of an actor. Oh well. After that I kinda lost touch with Joe.
I won't rehash all the particulars of Joe's bank robbing career. Suffice it to say it was short and about as stellar as his film career. He robbed a bank in R.I. for $3000 and one in NYC for a thousand and change. Both robberies he perpetrated with a video camera, not a gun. Who has a video camera anymore? Well, when he got popped he told his cellmate, who told the NY Post that "He did it as art. He's an intellectual." I guess that's as good as a retrospective at MOMA for tabloid street cred. And, goddamnit he's using it as his defense. Now I'm always down with calling what you do art (no matter how outlandish), if.....and this is a big IF....you can articulate your reasons for doing so, and it fits, historically speaking. That is not to say it has to have precedent, only that you can convince me.
To this end the writer for the WP put Joe in the genre of "non-collectible" artist. The video would negate this categorization. Films and videos can and are collected. He also mentioned "in the tradition" of Chris Burden. Ugh! Poor Chris must be spinning in his grave. Chris did highly collectable art, informed by early work that at its core may not have produced objects, but always produced an image. Gibbons is not in Burden's league. Poor Joe has a screw loose. And I don't think it's an "art screw". Now the Queens Museum is showing the robbery footage. If I was a teller or anyone on that footage I would sue The Queens Museum. A thief is a thief. When a Black kid gets sent off to Rikers without trial for three years and has his life destroyed, committing suicide upon his release, I wonder how the wheels of justice will turn for the "Wacky MIT Prof."? Art is a great defense for many actions....but not this one. Plus he was just crazy enough to plead guilty. I rest my case.
Tuesday, June 16, 2015
Labels: pHOTO:mARIANA rOTHEN
I've always identified as a 16 year old girl. My fashion sense, my sensitivity, my lithe little girlie arms, all seem to point in this direction. I think the cat recognizes this. That's why we get along so well. On the exterior i may look like a bedraggled, long bearded, heavily armed hillbilly, with a pickup truck and woodstove. But on the inside it's all bedazzled jeans, rainbows and unicorns. Come 'ere Cheeky Monkey.
I mention this because of all the hoopla over Bruce, now Caitlan (with a D) Jenner and Rachel Dolezal. The former is "transitioning" to the female gender in front of the world, while the later has been "outed" as White. Huh? If Caitlan could get rid of Bruce's personality she'd be a lot prettier. Alas hormones and scalpels can only do so much. So lets leave her to the masses. But Rachel D. is another story. Here's the progeny of two Caucasian parents, who went to Howard University, is the Spokane Wash. leader of the NAACP, and by her own admission has been identifying as African-American since she was 5 years old. And I thought I was complex.
I've spent the last hour on the internet, digging into this story. I was going to title this posting BLACK LIKE HER, but The New Yorker beat me to it. I remember reading BLACK LIKE ME in high school in the 60's. A white writer pigmented his skin and went to the deep south to experience what a black person may come up against in racist America. It was riveting. Like Gregory Peck becoming Jewish in the movie GENTLEMAN'S AGREEMENT, for a magazine story, the author's life went to hell. But these are different times. I think if Ms. Dolezal was a single mom, living in the hood, scrapping by on government cheeze, trying to pass as Black, no one would give a shit. Instead, she went to a great predominantly Black school, and had a high profile job, usually reserved for a person of color. She is not just a overly tanned, corn row sporting, dasheeki wearing, down with the brothers and sisters....white lady. She's a lie.
This is what has everyone (Black and white) weighing in. You can "identify" with Black culture as a white person all your life and never have any problems. As a Black person trying to pass as white, you may be in for a little more difficulty. I don't know what color my inner 16 year old girl is. I don't care. I may use the brown, purple, or green crayon when I draw my self portraits. I just watched an interview with Ms. D. and that idiot Matt Lauer. You'd think they would've at least passed it to Al Roker. I guess he just wasn't Black enough.
Friday, June 5, 2015
DOCTOR MY EYES
My present doc wants me to go under the knife for my glaucoma....soon. It's very advanced and if it progresses beyond the point of no return I could be blind before I hit 70. I see fine. Glaucoma is one of those diseases with no symptoms. If I didn't go to the eye doc once a month I'd never know just how bad it all is. Not one to take any one's word on this shit, I sought out a second opinion. In this case the second doc concurred. He took pics and traced a large white area in the center of each eye. "See this? The white is all the damage. Much more and it will be irreparable." So much for avoiding a man in white sticking sharp objects in my eyes. Now how the fuck do I pay for this adventure?
Turns out, like deer, insurance has a season. It runs from November to Feb. Get sick out of season? Good luck. So this is my plan: dive into Obama Care in November, sched. one eye for Jan. and the other for June. This allows me deer and turkey season (the LGM willing and the knife don't slip). What this has done is put all my "market envy" and discouragement over not being able to show my work, into some sort of perspective. Plus as a conceptualist, say I do go blind, I can use it to my advantage and show these assholes, I can still do the work sightless. The internet loves a hard luck story. I can see it, (well not really see it)- Old, blind, visual artist discovered in Catskills. Prices soaring. It could be just the ticket.
But before all this takes place, I have to finish the kitchen (while I still can see) and try to make it to Nov. Yesterday Savage called to invite me over to Paradise Pond for drinks and steaks. He and his brother Milawyer and a few others had been golfing all day. My brother Mupp and I were the only non-duffers allowed. The booze flowed, the pipe came out, the steaks and wild mushrooms were fried up and as we all sat at the table, telling war stories and laughing, one member of the crew I'll call "Cougar" laughed loudly, leaned against his neighbor, and then slid under the table like a wet noodle. We all sat there shell-shocked, until we realized he had passed out cold. The table was pulled aside, as we rushed to his side. He came to, only to pass out again and then projectile vomit all over himself and the room.
Milawyer may be a Dr. of jurist prudence, but his immediate diagnosis was to get poor Cougar to his feet and away from the furniture. 40 years ago we would've drug him into some pick up bed and continued the party. This was not going to happen. We weren't that cold anymore. Put a bunch of hard drinking men in their 60's in a room and it could be anything: stroke, heart attack, poison mushroom, or more likely, too much sun, booze, and and a susceptibility to good pot. Eventually someone got a bucket. As of this morning Cougar was upright, off on a business trip, no worse for the wear. Phew! Gotta say, we're still making memories.