Have We Finally, Finally, Finally Reached The Beginning Of The End?

It’s Monday afternoon, July 16th. I’m working in my art studio trying to make progress on a new series of paintings. President Chump just completed his astonishingly disgraceful press conference with Vladimir Putin and I have decided I needed to immediately post about the subject.

As an artist, I am motivated and influenced by contemporary culture and our beliefs and relationships (and that includes politics). Therefore, the news, good or bad, can be inspirational. Unfortunately, this has become more difficult for me during the Donald Trump administration. This is true for a variety of reasons. It’s probably attrition more than anything, Trump is so fucking exhausting. That’s why I’m headed out for a walk after I complete this post. I need to reclaim a little of the energy sucked away from me by thinking about Captain Douchebag.

Because it just happened, I know this blogpost is more of a reaction than a response. Regardless, you can mark my words, this moment is a turning point. It will go down as one of the most embarrassing moments in our history. President Chump was tougher on the Democrats and the intelligence community in this press conference than he was on the Russians. It’s hard to put into words what we saw today. I’m wondering if we finally, finally, finally reached the beginning of the end.

John McCain, as we all know is living his final days. He had a lot to say about today. I disagree with McCain more than half of the time, so I do not automatically support anything he says. However, here he perfectly crystallizes the embarrassment happening right before our eyes. His words from today will be remembered and quoted for many, many years to come:

– – – – – 

“Today’s press conference in Helsinki was one of the most disgraceful performances by an American president in memory. The damage inflicted by President Trump’s naiveté, egotism, false equivalence, and sympathy for autocrats is difficult to calculate. But it is clear that the summit in Helsinki was a tragic mistake.

“President Trump proved not only unable, but unwilling to stand up to Putin. He and Putin seemed to be speaking from the same script as the president made a conscious choice to defend a tyrant against the fair questions of a free press, and to grant Putin an uncontested platform to spew propaganda and lies to the world.

“It is tempting to describe the press conference as a pathetic rout – as an illustration of the perils of under-preparation and inexperience. But these were not the errant tweets of a novice politician. These were the deliberate choices of a president who seems determined to realize his delusions of a warm relationship with Putin’s regime without any regard for the true nature of his rule, his violent disregard for the sovereignty of his neighbors, his complicity in the slaughter of the Syrian people, his violation of international treaties, and his assault on democratic institutions throughout the world.

“Coming close on the heels of President Trump’s bombastic and erratic conduct towards our closest friends and allies in Brussels and Britain, today’s press conference marks a recent low point in the history of the American Presidency. That the president was attended in Helsinki by a team of competent and patriotic advisors makes his blunders and capitulations all the more painful and inexplicable.

“No prior president has ever abased himself more abjectly before a tyrant. Not only did President Trump fail to speak the truth about an adversary; but speaking for America to the world, our president failed to defend all that makes us who we are—a republic of free people dedicated to the cause of liberty at home and abroad. American presidents must be the champions of that cause if it is to succeed. Americans are waiting and hoping for President Trump to embrace that sacred responsibility. One can only hope they are not waiting totally in vain.”

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

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/

An Ode To The Megacorporation

It took exactly a month to get internet service in my new home. It’s tough dealing with large corporations that do not have enough competition to keep them in line in regard to service and reasonable expectations. I’m looking at you Comcast! I’m also looking at you DirectTV and AT&T!

I’ve exhausted all I can say or write about it. What remains to explain my feelings is this amazing song “The Man Don’t Give A Fuck” from an amazing band Super Furry Animals. I think it says what needed to be said so very well.

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

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?

Professional Development

Well, hello. I made it to June in one piece. So much happening at once, I was wondering how I’d make it through. That’s why there hasn’t been a post in almost a month. No recovery time for me. I’ve got a work meeting to attend and paperwork to turn in. Painters, landscapers, an electrician and real estate agents will all be at my house sometime today. Then – I become a Feng Shui Master for a couple of days as I make this place look arranged.

Regardless. It’s time for me to reset the dial and get fully back on track. In this profession, that’s just one of the millions of things that get done over Summer Break, which is only really a break from the classroom and grades.

summer break

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.

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

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

Happening In Unreal Time

We all know Livin’ On A Prayer, Bon Jovi’s #1 hit from 1987. Whether you liked the song or not, you heard it, it was everywhere. For the last 15-20 years, its probably been heard most often in a passive setting where the music was chosen for the listener, such as: the radio, a bar, a wedding reception or even a sporting event.

One of these passive settings, a sporting event, has created a call to action. Livin’ On A Prayer re-entered the Billboard Top 40 singles chart this week. What caused the spike in sales? A video of a fan performing to the song at a sporting event. You’ve probably seen it by now. I recall seeing the video in 2009 when it was first posted. Apparently it has only now truly become a viral video, or perhaps it is viral again.

So let’s get this straight. A song from 1987 has charted in 2013 with a big help from a viral video made in 2009. What dimension are we living in when moments like this occur and play out in an influential manner? If time itself is the fourth dimension, what is this? If we live in what we call real time, what is this? Unreal time?

http://www.billboard.com/biz/articles/news/chart-alert/5793370/bon-jovis-prayer-re-enters-hot-100-due-to-viral-revival?utm_source=twitter

Here is the video that brought us into unreal time. I posted it, for contextual purposes only, in case you’re one of the few people that haven’t watched it yet.

The Fraudster

Tell me where you’ve heard this before. Rand Paul is a fraud. You’ve heard it from me, dozens of times. This plagiarism story is just the latest and greatest reason why this guy is not a serious member of our government. Rand Paul is not ready for prime time and probably never will be, regardless of whatever any libertarian bandwagon rider will tell you.

http://www.courier-journal.com/article/20131106/OPINION01/311060062/1016/OPINION/Editorial-Sen-Rand-Paul-agiarism

These days, there aren’t many truly serious politicians in the spotlight. In fact, most of the serious politicians don’t usually seek the spotlight. Many of our elected leaders preserve an appearance of seriousness, but for the most part, they don’t give a fuck about anything but themselves. Because he is such an awful politician, Rand Paul is one of the worst offenders.

Rand Paul is an ass clown. High school students have a better understanding of what constitutes plagiarism. His rationalization of his actions are completely ignorant overall. Rand Paul (or his weak-minded staff) has repeatedly lifted large passages of other peoples words and entered them into his speeches where Paul brazenly read them verbatim. Not only is that lazy sloppy work, it’s plagiarism! End of story.

Listen to any of the interviews where Rand Paul defends himself against the allegations. His sense of entitlement is astounding. Beyond that, as an educator, it makes me sick to hear him blame the “haters and hacks” for calling out these kind of baffling high school level mistakes. For some reason, he even pulled out the duel reference, wishing he could challenge those making these allegations to a duel. For real?

Does Rand Paul even understand what plagiarism is? Seriously, among other things, he was reading from Wikipedia! Perhaps his cognitive dissonance towards plagiarism is the reason he can simultaneously be a hardcore libertarian and a social conservative. To me, this is logically unacceptable and results in a paradox I have little patience with.

Tell me where you’ve heard this before. Rand Paul is a fraud.

Life Is Built To Spill And Clean Up

I am an artist that is influenced by music as much as anything else. I’ll listen to loud rock & roll as long as I can hear. I’ll attend rock concerts as long as I can walk. I listen to music as much as possible and use it as a method to focus and think. Within this obsession I inhabit a space that is mine alone. This is extremely difficult for me to do without music. Ideas flourish within my mind and become a visual work of art through the visual translation made while listening to or being influenced by music. Recently, I had an experience that resonated in a way that I’ll likely visually translate at some point in time. I’m referring to those moments when the soundtrack to life feels very real and the powerful feeling that overcomes when this happens to you.

Last week, this experience happened at a Built To Spill concert.  The whole experience was spontaneous. I was invited by a friend from out of town that I had not seen in years. I made it to the concert very because I teach class until 7:30 and I needed to host my radio show, the Fuzz Factory for the next two hours. I love my radio gig and I make the quality a priority. I don’t have that many listeners, but most that listen are regulars and I especially never want to cancel on them at the last minute. All this means that I missed most of the show but made it in time for half of Broken Chairs, a great song. Unfortunately, that’s it. The end of the regular set. I saw barely anything, but I saw enough to know what everyone told me about Doug Martsch. So loose and tight at the same time. I am definitely going to see them in concert again. With two guitarists beside Martsch, their sound is more full and powerful live than on CD.

What I did experience was an encore full of unreal cover songs seemingly chosen just for me. I say chosen for me because they primarily covered songs that for reasons well known to me have been on my mind these days. They played Train In Vain by the Clash – an all-time favorite of mine. They also played How Soon Is Now? by the Smiths, a song I love so much almost in spite of the fact I never liked the Smiths much overall. This was a very memorable moment. Since it was completely unexpected I was able to enjoy it immensely while it hit me with an amazing amount of self-awareness. It was the soundtrack of my life.

If that wasn’t amazing enough. The other two songs they played in the encore were a cover of Don’t Fear The Reaper (perfect for minutes after my Fuzz Factory Halloween Special from earlier in the evening) and SludgeFeast by Dinosaur Jr., perfect for any evening.

Never underestimate the powers of rock & roll.

The Protection Racket

Many of you have enjoyed the piece of mind that comes with having the same doctor for years.

Many of you have received top notch care whenever you needed it, regardless of the circumstances.

Many of you are forever grateful for the expertise of medical professionals during the moments in life that are literally life and death.

Many of you have medical risks or have loved ones that do and that positive personal experience helps you take comfort in the likelihood that life-threatening changes will be quickly detected and treated with the greatest of concern.

The health care insurance industry as it exists in the United States is nothing more than a protection racket. I’m thinking of the neighborhood thug collecting protection money but in a systematically synchronized manner. Health care professionals know that health insurance for profit is the reason why our health care is inefficient on numerous levels and NOT the best care in the world.

At this moment, my cousin Theresa is very sick. She has been in the hospital since last Thursday (10/17). She has a hard time speaking and has a steady fever of 102 degrees. The medical team is working hard to figure out what is wrong with her. However, yesterday they moved her out of the Intensive Care Unit without a clear diagnosis of her condition!

Would I be a skeptic if I thought Theresa was moved out of the ICU without a diagnosis in part because she is poor and been on Medicaid and on and off of welfare for a long time?

Would I be a skeptic if I thought this played a role in why someone would ask Theresa’s husband if she was like this (in this condition) often?

Would I be a skeptic if I felt that whatever is wrong with her right now may be (in a small but not indirect way) be a result of years of waiting all day at Cook County Hospital to see her doctor when she needed to?

Would I be a skeptic if I were more concerned for her life than others because she has never experienced the quality of health care many of you have?

Art & Narcissism

No one cares about what the artist makes more than the artist that made it. Therefore, some narcissism is required just to make art. Then it’s required for survival in the creative world. Without it, the artist would never have the guts to put themselves out there for the world to notice (or ignore).

http://hyperallergic.com/87229/want-to-be-an-artist-try-a-little-narcissism/