Live And Let Kneel

“We use that flag to sell mattresses and beer. We wear it as a swimsuit. We wrap our bald head in a bandana and stick it in our pants because we disrespect that flag everyday.”

These words from Dale Hansen (sportscaster and Vietnam veteran) echo the thought I’ve had for years on the subject of the American flag. The flag is not meant to be a product or a prop. That’s why I don’t wear anything meant to appropriate the American flag (that’s also why I don’t wear anything that appropriates military camouflage).

All this noise about kneeling or standing in the NFL is just the by product of another prop for a product. The teams were in the locker rooms during the anthem until eight years ago. In 2009, the NFL brought the players out for the anthem basically to be a prop for their product. It was a marketing strategy made in order to make the players (and the league) look more patriotic. The Department of Defense and the National Guard also payed the NFL for permission to stage on-field patriotic ceremonies to increase military recruitment.

Don’t be played by the sideshow. The first amendment IS first for a reason. Live and let kneel.

This Young Woman Has A Lot To Learn

Tomi Lahren is a big deal these days. Propped up by her good looks, she’s become a popular voice for the alt-right people and young conservative millennial. I think this young woman (and I feel old for even typing those words) has a lot to learn. A lot to learn about history. A lot to learn about human nature. A lot to learn about life. A lot to learn about so many topics. It’s a shame, she’s bright but not smart enough to know what she doesn’t comprehend.

Find out for yourself. Watch this interview with Trevor Noah (of the Daily Show) in its entirety.

http://www.cc.com/video-clips/m9ds7s/the-daily-show-with-trevor-noah-exclusive—tomi-lahren-extended-interview?xrs=synd_FBPAGE_20161201_692299924_The+Daily+Show_Video+with+Link&linkId=31796489

Oblivious To Infinity

My part-time occupation of culture critic keeps my mind filled most of the time. This is what I am doing whenever you’re not sure of what I’m doing. Thinking, analyzing the culture we inhabit. My mind, up and gone away, wandering round. Those that know me know this happens quite often. Even though these observations register with me on a continuous basis, I am not often compelled to write about them. That said, I wanted to share my thoughts on a moment that happened today.

This morning I walked into Criminal Records. A well-known record music and comic store in Atlanta, GA. I’ve always loved to browse record stores. Normally I take my time listening and looking around, however today I was there to power shop. Specifically, grab one brand new Black Mountain CD and go. Within the few minutes I was there, a group of friends walked into the store. I approximated that they were all 18-21 years old. One of them had a baby and was pushing a stroller. They walked past me as I headed toward the register. As they passed I heard one of them say to the other, “what are all these?” The friend replied, “you mean these? They’re albums and CDs. You’ve never seen them before?” I continued to the register without any noticeable reaction. However, internally I was in a small state of shock. Could this be possible? Could this person have never seen an album or CD before? Not even by accident? Could this person be so unaware of their surroundings? Where in Atlanta were there surroundings? How could this even be possible?

What does this mean? Does it say anything about us as a whole or is it more of an indictment of this specific person? I tend to think it’s a combination of the two. The world has changed. Specifically, the way we purchase music has changed. The physical appearance of the music we listen to has been disappearing as well. However, I’m not blaming the music industry this time. To not know what albums and CDs are is entirely another issue. An issue that is more related to a sense of obliviousness that permeates our culture more and more. This issue is about how a lack of curiosity leads to a lack of knowledge. The results are oblivious to infinity.

IMG_0354

Yes, Information Is Beautiful

Yes, information is beautiful. I teach a class called Visual Design Systems. In this class, we touch upon many things including semiotics and information graphics. Hard to believe I’ve never posted about the blog Information Is Beautiful (http://www.informationisbeautiful.net).

Here are just a few of the examples to be found on Information Is Beautiful. Look, see and learn, like i did.

http://www.informationisbeautiful.net/visualizations/common-mythconceptions-worlds-most-contagious-falsehoods/

http://www.informationisbeautiful.net/visualizations/good-relationtips-most-commonly-given-relationship-advice/

http://www.informationisbeautiful.net/visualizations/chicks-rule/

Bake Sales For Potholes

More often I hear people tell me they identify themselves as a libertarian. Like most, I can agree with many libertarian principles, especially those related to personal privacy. However, I feel libertarian dogma taken as a whole is selfish naiveté. Most people bristle whenever I mention this in discussion or debate. Often, I try to explain that overall libertarian dogma is opposed to the concept of community and the concept of nation in itself. Individual liberty over all else at all times can only be possible if you live in a world where you are alone at all times. Absolute isolation is becoming less possible every day. Therefore, libertarianism is the wrong philosophy at the wrong time, even if it were the least bit practical, which it is not.

Do you want to live in a world where you and a few neighbors hold a fundraiser to raise enough money to hire the construction company needed to fill the potholes on your street? Do you want to live in a world where the funds are debated based on how often you and your neighbors actually use the street you all live on? This is the utopia we would have if the libertarian dogma was extrapolated into reality. Libertarianism may work behind closed doors within a personal household. Beyond that, in the environment we share, the selfish naiveté of it all is exposed and looks more than a little silly to me.

At this point of the conversation, if I’m even still having one, many hedge on their strong libertarian values. Making one exception after another until they’re basically an advocate for personal privacy – just like me. Others ignore the cognitive dissidence held within their ideals and double down on the wonderful sounding notion of individual freedom over all else.

These columns do a great job expanding on my point of view. The second link even mentions a scenario quite similar to the bake sales for potholes one I’ve been using for years.
http://www.alternet.org/youre-not-boss-me-why-libertarianism-childish-sham
http://www.salon.com/2015/03/02/my_libertarian_vacation_nightmare_how_ayn_rand_ron_paul_their_groupies_were_all_debunked/

This Goes Way Beyond Stupid

This goes way beyond stupid, it’s a truly tragic failure on many levels. A nine year old girl shoots off an Uzi, easily loses control of the weapon and kills her instructor. Her asshole parents film the entire “learning experience.” This poor girl has to live with this tragedy for the rest of her life. She has to live with these assholes as her parents too. Assholes that thought this was a good idea in the first place.

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-28948946

girlwithUzi

Adventures In Lawn Mowing

I’m just a man that can’t cut his own lawn without being distracted and amused by his own shadow. It might take me longer to finish, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Tomorrow I head up to the Hambidge Center for Creative Arts & Sciences for a week. I am in between art studios and I really need a good space to make some work. The timing is perfect. http://www.hambidge.org

Yeah, so a bunch of new posts will be coming very soon. I’ve got plenty of new images to add to the blog. Just gotta continue to navigate this obstacle course. Everything is out to wreck my flow. Including myself. Stay tuned.

shadow1 shadow4 shadow5 shadow6 shadow2 shadow3

The Difference Between Witty And Clever

witty_clever

 

I made this print titled “The Difference Between Witty And Clever” way back in 2002. Drew it entirely on the stone too. However, I only ran an edition of three prints. Don’t remember why. I probably didn’t have much paper once I finally got it to print the way I wanted it to look.

Do you know the difference between witty and clever?

What A Wookie!

chewbaccaguitar

Alright, I’ll admit it. Once in a while I have to laugh at what gets past me. Star Wars references have been popping up all week. I’ve been consumed with so much else I never made the May 4th connection until this morning. I felt a little dull about it at first, then decided to do something about it. Ha! Which was to bring it all back to rock & roll.

What? Me? Giving in to a distracting impulse filled with creativity and music? Never!

Chewbacca, what a wookie!

 

 

Trash As Inspiration

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Regardless of what you do with your day, you have to stop to connect the dots and have a laugh, because life is hilarious.

One of my favorite things about being an artist is having the ability to be inspired by anything at anytime. Yesterday while doing some overdue yard work I ran across a few bits of trash amongst the pile of old leaves (see photo above).

Life is a metaphor for art. The moment and the meaning I have taken from finding the trash is now stuck in my consciousness. Why? Because of my opinions on the Valentine’s Day holiday. Also, especially now because of my divorce. Yes, word is out, slowly and quickly the news has gotten around. Catherine and I have gotten divorced.

You can bet this photo will be used in my art at some point in the future. It’s appropriate for appropriation. Art is a metaphor for life.

This Is What A Stupid Idea Looks Like

Mayor-Cobain-Day-should-have-happened-long-time-ago-246438551
Mayor-Cobain-Day-should-have-happened-long-time-ago-246438551-1
This statue of Kurt Cobain is a stupid idea for dozens of reasons. However, I’d like to focus on three of them in particular.
1. Why would the city of Aberdeen, WA choose to honor it’s most famous citizen (and most famous critic) in this manner?
2. Why would the city of Aberdeen, WA think that fans of Nirvana would flock to their city for something like this. Especially because its very existence is completely in contrast to the mission of the band and the struggles with fame that Cobain experienced.
3. Why is he crying and playing an acoustic guitar?
My answer to all three questions is the same. It’s because there were not any Nirvana fans or anyone with a significant knowledge on the life of Kurt Cobain involved with the project. This is an assumption, but I feel safe in making it.

My First Rock & Roll Record

Clapton_Sheriff45

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“I Shot The Sherriff” by Eric Clapton was my first rock & roll record. The first record I ever owned. I was 5 or 6 years old. It happened when Mom let me pick out a record at the store. I don’t even think it was a record store. I was 5 or 6 years old. At the time I had no idea who Eric Clapton was and I certainly did not know who Bob Marley was either. This song was one that I was familiar with from the radio in Mom’s car. Clapton’s version of the Bob Marley song was a #1 hit in 1974 and still all over the radio a year or two later when I chose it to be my first rock & roll record.

This record ended up being quite a prolific choice. It is a rock legend covering the king of reggae. It’s a number one hit. Over time, this record turned out to be merely the first purchase of thousands made over the last 40 years. Even after all this time, I can say with confidence that my first was certainly not my worst.

What was your first rock & roll record?

Milwaukee, WI: Home Of Universal Knowledge?

strad-refer-master675

One of the men arrested in this case was named Universal Knowledge Allah. Who knew the home of Universal Knowledge was Milwaukee, Wisconsin?!? This world is strange, tragic and amazing.

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/07/us/stolen-stradivarius-violin-may-have-been-recovered.html?_r=0

The linked article is about how, just recently, a 299 year old violin was stolen from the owner as he carried it in it’s case. A tazer was used to commit the crime and the microprinted pieces of discharge helped like the weapon to the criminal. Nice. Let’s see if anyone adapts that technology to other weapons like guns. Doubt it. Because in that instance, the will does not equal the way.

Duh

“I think I played a role, unfortunately, in helping tear the country apart and it’s not who we are and I didn’t realize how really fragile the people were. I thought we were kind of a little more in it together.” – Glenn Beck

Duh. So now what?

http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/01/22/glenn-beck-and-other-too-little-too-late-apologies.html

Save The Party From The Party

“Big-business donors who traditionally have funded the Republican Party believe they need to make that kind of monster investment (fifty million dollars) just to keep “fools” from getting on the ballot of a party they basically control.” – Matt Taibbi

http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/blogs/taibblog/on-christmas-republicans-quietly-declare-war-on-themselves-20131230#ixzz2pM2g1nIv

Lionel Stitchie

I’m just giving some credit where credit is due. I was browsing the headlines and discovered this story about an artist that stitched Lionel Ritchie lyrics into abandoned furniture. Well, it turns out I know this artists! It was the work of my friend Molly Evans, a college radio buddy from back in the day. Molly was also a DJ at SCAD Radio in Savannah years ago.

This art made me smile. Thanks Molly!

http://www.ignant.de/2013/12/10/lionel-stitchie-by-molly-evans/

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/12/16/lionel-stitchie_n_4442299.html?utm_hp_ref=arts

Single Payer Blues

For the last 15-20 years, my point of view has steadily remained left-of-center on a large majority of issues facing our country. Generally speaking, my perspective expanded alongside my life experience. This was not an accident. At that time, I made a conscious effort to analyze my own thoughts and opinions in an unfiltered manner. This was not easy for me, I was used to forming opinions through the prism of others. The concept of health and health care was an area that I deeply analyzed. Is it a right? Is it a privilege? In fact, my personal experience with our health care system is one of the major reasons why I became more vocally progressive over the years.

First and foremost, the Health Care/Health Insurance Industrial Complex, what I refer to as the Protection Racket, should be the primary subject of our frustration as a nation. It is designed to make a profit regardless of service or situation. The Health Care/Health Insurance Industrial Complex (AKA The Protection Racket) uses he concept of “care” as a weapon. As the consumer, we are forced to pay whatever costs they arbitrarily charge us. Also, as consumers of this protection service, we are simply unable or understandably reluctant to comparison shop. When it comes to personal health, preventive care doesn’t have as big of a profit margin. If it did, preventative care would be covered more often. The industry has gotten away with all of this because money trumps morality every time – even in life and death.

I don’t have a problem with the ACA mandate since a single payer option does not exist. I use the same logic behind my support for the auto insurance mandate. Which, interestingly enough, didn’t generate nearly the attention this insurance mandate has. Only the extreme libertarians were upset about having to wear a seat belt and buy auto insurance. The general public did not view it as an intolerable infringement of their rights. After all, someone has to pay the bill. We all pay it if there is no insurance coverage. Most Americans viewed it as common sense, not socialism.

The Affordable Care Act follows a model originally proposed by the Republicans in the 90’s. It’s also modeled after the system implemented by Mitt Romney for Massachusetts. The ACA is already starting to show positive results (including lower rates) in the states where Republican Governors are not standing in the way for political reasons.

Thankfully, I am now part of the 95% of Americans that get a decent (but not cheap) plan through my employer. That was not the case for most of my entire adult life. In those years, I WISHED there was something like Obamacare.

For many years I was a self-employed graphic designer/art director. When searching for my own benefits, I was told that I needed to hire someone. They said I needed to hire an employee in order to get insurance for myself. As if that was an option? Therefore, I had to buy numerous non-renewable six month temporary plans on a regular basis just to maintain coverage so nothing would be pre-existing. However, in spite of these efforts, my sleep apnea was eventually called a pre-existing condition. The insurance company made this decision on their own, even though I had insurance when it was diagnosed over 15 years ago. Not only that, I did not realize it had been changed to a pre-existing condition until after spending the night in the sleep disorder clinic at the hospital. I would not have their recommended second sleep study if I knew I was paying for it entirely out of pocket.

This was my life when I was a self-employed graphic designer/art director from 1996-2009. I was using my skills as an independent contractor. I was the entrepreneur – the rugged individualist. A self-employed man. Exactly what our culture likes to wax poetic about. This way of life sounds great, until you have to see a doctor. In these years, 1996-2009, I never saw the same doctor twice. The only insurance plans I could afford were junk plans that were not even worth their somewhat affordable cost. The only thing available to me was what is commonly called Emergency Room Insurance. Cheap insurance with a massive deductible. That’s the bullshit insurance made illegal by the Affordable Care Act. That is the insurance that I had to get because it was the only option I had, unless I wanted to be uninsured and one hospital visit away from bankruptcy. That’s why I say I wished there was something like Obamacare (ACA) back then when I really needed it.

When I moved to Wisconsin from Illinois in 2005 I was denied insurance. Fortunately I was able to join a state run insurance plan for people that had pre-existing conditions or no employer based insurance. Yes, a state run plan! It was still the same bullshit emergency room insurance, but it was better than nothing because at this time I was getting turned down by Humana and other billion dollar insurance companies. An insurance company employee was looking at a chart and determining if I deserved coverage or not based upon statistics. It didn’t matter that I had already payed who knows how much money into this protection racket.

Then in 2006 I moved to Georgia. Georgia did not have a state wide plan for people in my situation. I had to write letters explaining how I have treated my sleep apnea for almost 15 years, blah, blah, blah. With the help of my auto insurance agent, I was finally approved. Approved to pay once again out the ass and basically out of pocket for everything. All of this was just for the same old bullshit (now made illegal) junk insurance with a massive deductible.

In 2009, I was hired as a full time member of the faculty and now have employer based insurance again. For the first time since 1996, I have a regular doctor. This is also important now more than ever, because in recent years it seems like I’m at the pharmacy on a regular basis. If it’s not to renew my hypothyroid pill prescription, it’s for something else. I know I can look forward to more and more of this over the years because we age in only one direction, fast forward.

For 13 years, no matter what I needed or avoided getting done, I had to pay out of pocket because I was never able to meet my deductible. Now I’ll actually be able to afford to upgrade my CPAP machine (for sleep apnea). Mine is almost 10 years old. That simply was not affordable before with my previous plans. Also, I’ll be able to take more preventive measures, things that were financially out of the question before. No one should underestimate the peace of mind that can come with the ability to take preventative measures. We have been trained to brush aside what may prevent a serious health issue because the for profit system will likely not cover something until it becomes a serious health issue.

My previous insurance plans are the exact insurance plans that are now illegal. The ACA made them illegal because they were bad policies. Basically, the only way to meet the deductible was to be admitted to the hospital. Just think of a junk insurance plan as a junk bond and you’ll see how this entire debate is somewhat ridiculous. Before the ACA was enacted, no politician ran to the defense of people like me, the 5% of the population stuck with this pile of junk as their best option. Now conservatives are concerned?

That’s why all this talk about freedoms being taken away, etc. are way off base. More than anything else, our employer based health care TAKES AWAY freedom. For example, how often do people stay with a job or career they don’t like. They’re completely unsatisfied but have to stay because they have dependents on their employer provided health care plan. Regardless of the specific cost, the plans are too expensive but absolutely essential. It makes you fear changing jobs even though you are unsatisfied. It happens all the time. That’s not what I consider freedom.

A single payer system is what we need. A single payer solves the problem as a whole much better than anything else. It preserves your freedom too. We’ve had the single payer blues for decades and I’ve been telling people about it for years.