Thursday, December 20, 2007

banana theory

I never get tired of watching this. Ray Comfort and Kirk Cameron discuss the intelligent design of the banana. Tell me more about how it fits in your hand Mr. Comfort....

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

The Believer: Interview with Dave Hickey


SH: So what makes you happy and what makes you sad in culture right now?

DH: You know, I’m deeply engaged in culture, but I’m well out of the trenches, which means if I talk, I talk Frank Gehry. I don’t talk younger architects. I talk Ellsworth Kelly. And I’m happy for that, because when you’re a younger critic you can almost never get the chance to write about people who are older than you are—people who really influenced you—and that’s kind of fun. But there are no public venues to write about art anymore, except for three or four permanent jobs that my friends do and I never could. Mostly I write for commercial galleries these days. There are no serious art magazines.

SH: So there’s no place to talk about art?

DH: No, and my particular age of the critic is just over. There are no influential midcareer critics today. I think part of that is circumstance, in the sense that a whole generation of critics died of AIDS in the ’80s. It was like the plague that wiped out two generations of Neapolitan painters in the sixteenth century. They’re just gone, and those dead guys from the ’80s should be writing most of what I’m writing now, and I should be left to play blackjack.

SH: OK, so what are the supposed art magazines interested in hearing about, if not about art?

DH: They want touting. In twenty years we’ve gone from a totally academicized art world to a totally commercialized art world, and in neither case is criticism a function. We’re all supposed to be positive about art. Nobody plays defense! I mean, my job, to a certain extent, is to be in the net. My job is to mow stuff down.

SH: So in what kind of structure would there be a place for criticism?

DH: Well, I came into an art world of volunteers—six thousand heavily medicated, mysteriously employed human beings who were there because they wanted to be, you know? And all they wanted was to be right—not safe, not rich, not fair, but right! Now we have this vast bureaucratic structure of support. Everybody’s a poll watcher. Nobody’s a voter. We’ve got millions of people devoted to the whole idea that art’s supposed to be fair and good for you. But art’s not too fair, you know? Why should you be publishing books and not your friends? Because it’s not fair, that’s why.

SH: Yeah, whatever.

DH: Anyway, the art world is way too big right now. The art world I came up into was very much like the jazz world I grew up in, which is to say, a relatively small thing. If you got to go see Miles Davis in a little bar on La Brea, that was great, and you didn’t sit around saying, “There was no coverage in the New York Times! Miles is not going to get any reviews!” You know what I’m saying?

SH: Sure, it was for yourself. You were happy.

DH: Right, you were happy to be there, and if the art world today shrunk down to the size and scale of the jazz world, I would be happier now. Things would be freer and a lot less tedious.

SH: I suppose the schools have something to do with the change—the craziness that you have to get an MFA to be an artist.

DH: Thirty-five thousand MFAs a semester, 90 percent of whom never make another work of art.

SH: And do you think that that kind of system produces—

DH: Almost no one. Idiots with low-grade depression. When I opened my gallery in the late ’60s, Peter Plagens—who’s now the critic for Newsweek and still shows his paintings—was the only artist I represented who had been to graduate school. The MFA thing is an invention of the ’70s. Its raison d’être is evaporating.

SH: Which is?

DH: Training sissies for teaching jobs. Well, the official raison d’être was to create an intellectual and pedagogical justification for the most frivolous activity in Western culture, so you go back and read things from the past. It’s the traditional Renaissance desire that artists should be taken seriously, and that art not be a practical but a liberal art. But I tend to think it’s a practice, like law or like medicine.

Read the full interview here at The Believer. many many gems as always!

Friday, October 26, 2007

breaking the smear-forward

I'm sure many of you routinely, if not occasionally get that email chain letter full of right wing smears.
Probably comes from an informed loved one right? Seems to be the case for me. I always take the time to read them just to see what the mainstream is being sent from some propagandist. These letters range from sentimental cliche to warnings of impending doom - always from an "unchecked" Democratic leader or a nefarious world body such as the U.N. These things often read like pamphlets from the John Birch Society - or at least how I imagine them.

The Nation has a great story on the history of the "smear forward".

The smear forward has its roots in two distinct forms of Internet-age communication. First, there's the electronically disseminated urban legend ("Help find this missing child!"; "Bill Gates is going to pay people for every e-mail they send!"), which has been a staple of the Internet since the mid- '90s. Then there's the surreal genre of right-wing e-mail forwards. These range from creepy rage-filled quasi-fascist invocations ("The next time you see an adult talking...during the playing of the National Anthem--kick their ass") to treacly aphorisms of patriotic/religious uplift ("remember only two defining forces have ever offered to die for you, Jesus Christ...and the American Soldier").

....From the beginning, the vast majority of these Internet-disseminated rumors have come from the right. (Snopes lists about fifty e-mails about George W. Bush, split evenly between adulatory accounts of him saluting wounded soldiers or witnessing to a wayward teenager, and accounts of real and invented malapropisms. In contrast, every single one of the twenty-two e-mails about John Kerry is negative.) For conservatives, these e-mails neatly reinforce preconceptions, bending the facts of the world in line with their ideological framework: liberals, immigrants, hippies and celebrities are always the enemy; soldiers and conservatives, the besieged heroes. The stories of the former's perfidy and the latter's heroism are, of course, never told by the liberal media. So it's left to the conservative underground to get the truth out. And since the general story and the roles stay the same, often the actual characters are interchangeable.

"A lot of the chain letters that were accusing Al Gore of things in 2000 were recycled in 2004 and changed to Kerry," says John Ratliff, who runs a site called, which, like Snopes, devotes itself to debunking chain e-mails. One e-mail falsely described a Senate committee hearing in the 1980s where Oliver North offered an impassioned Cassandra-like warning about the threat of Osama bin Laden, only to be dismissed by a condescending Democratic senator. Originally it was Al Gore who played the role of the senator, but by 2004 it had changed to John Kerry. "You just plug in your political front-runner du jour," Ratliff says. has some great insight to the misinformation campaigns of junk mail as well.

tip Washington Monthly

Friday, October 12, 2007

no more Turkey?

I hope everyone is following the unraveling disaster with Turkey. The administration and Congress are both letting slip a key piece of the international puzzle and in particular the one country that bridges the Islamic world and the West. Turkey is a NATO Ally and even fought in Korea alongside the US. In the run up to this war many warned that Turkey could be sucked into a civil war do to its sticky relations with the Kurds. That prediction becomes more manifest on a daily basis. So will this f' up of an administration be able to stave off the disaster of loosing diplomatic relations with a NATO ally? Are we now going to face a Turkish component in Iraq alongside all the sectarian groups and jihadist brands?? This is bad - really bad - a colossal diplomatic blunder in the making.

Juan Cole of course has a great post today on this very topic.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

can you hear me now?

Much of the globe's international telephone traffic flows through the United States, as shown by this rendering of 2005 international phone-call traffic from telecommunications resarch firm, Telegeography.
Illustration: Copyrighted Map Courtesy of Telegeography
Wired currently has this article "The NSA's Lucky Break: How the U. S. Became the Switchboard to the World,". It shines a light on how tariffs and communication precedents in the last century positioned the U.S. to be the world hub for communication. The NSA will be able to tap all of it.
" Leading House Democrats introduced the so-called RESTORE Act (.pdf) Tuesday that allows the nation's spies to maintain permanent eavesdropping stations inside United States switching centers."
What's perhaps most fascinating - beyond the dark side of this universal surveillance- is the notion that you simply need to tap about 3 locations in the US to have a direct line to almost all of the world's telecommunications.

1. Los Angeles: 1 Wilshire Blvd.
2. New York: 60 Hudson Street
3. Miami: NAP of the Americas

Talk about shaping lives and having impact on how the 21st century is experienced.

See Kazys Varnelis on the idea of the Centripetal City.

1929 redux ?

Your predecessors on the Senate Banking Committee, in the celebrated Pecora Hearings of 1933 and 1934, laid the groundwork for the modern edifice of financial regulation. I suspect that they would be appalled at the parallels between the systemic risks of the 1920s and many of the modern practices that have been permitted to seep back in to our financial markets.

Although the particulars are different, my reading of financial history suggests that the abuses and risks are all too similar and enduring. When you strip them down to their essence, they are variations on a few hardy perennials - excessive leveraging, misrepresentation, insider conflicts of interest, non-transparency, and the triumph of engineered euphoria over evidence.

The most basic and alarming parallel is the creation of asset bubbles, in which the purveyors of securities use very high leverage; the securities are sold to the public or to specialized funds with underlying collateral of uncertain value; and financial middlemen extract exorbitant returns at the expense of the real economy. This was the essence of the abuse of public utilities stock pyramids in the 1920s, where multi-layered holding companies allowed securities to be watered down, to the point where the real collateral was worth just a few cents on the dollar, and returns were diverted from operating companies and ratepayers. This only became exposed when the bubble burst. As Warren Buffett famously put it, you never know who is swimming naked until the tide goes out.

There is good evidence - and I will add to the record a paper on this subject by the Federal Reserve staff economists Dean Maki and Michael Palumbo - that even much of the boom of the late 1990s was built substantially on asset bubbles. ["Disentangling the Wealth Effect: a Cohort Analysis of Household Savings in the 1990s"]

A second parallel is what today we would call securitization of credit. Some people think this is a recent innovation, but in fact it was the core technique that made possible the dangerous practices of the 1920. Banks would originate and repackage highly speculative loans, market them as securities through their retail networks, using the prestigious brand name of the bank - e.g. Morgan or Chase - as a proxy for the soundness of the security. It was this practice, and the ensuing collapse when so much of the paper went bad, that led Congress to enact the Glass-Steagall Act, requiring bankers to decide either to be commercial banks - part of the monetary system, closely supervised and subject to reserve requirements, given deposit insurance, and access to the Fed's discount window; or investment banks that were not government guaranteed, but that were soon subjected to an extensive disclosure regime under the SEC.

- excerpt from Robert Kuttner's testimony before the House Financial Services Committee on Oct. 2.

Read further here.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

mapping loss

The Times has this article on the new nature of mapping in a world of hyper change. Mapmakers have long been come accustomed to the ever shifting borders of post-colonial and post- Soviet states along with the lessoning addition to the new "discoveries". Lately there is a new challenge, keeping maps current with the changes wrought through environmental degeneration. Above is a picture of the Aral Sea from 1967 on the left and the current view on the right. It's an alarming change that parallels the radical changes in the arctic. At least in the case of the Aral Sea, steps are being taken to make up for bad engineering policies of the past, most sites like this are not that lucky. I can only wonder at what a map of West Virginia might look like in a few years after recent coal legislation is implemented accelerating the practice of "mountain topping".

Map makers certainly have their work cut out for them. Just as we reach a point where most of the world seemingly has been mapped, we essentially now have go back and re-present everything altered during the same period of the initial discoveries. That is an interesting and saddening reality. The notion that the "map is not the territory" has a new dimension it seems.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

today's date

The day after a heavily scripted act of political theater by the Petraeus "report" we are left with today's loss and the knowledge that the only thing that has truly changed is ourselves. I think by now many of us realize that the greatest threat is not foreign jihadists but a cynical home grown political entity that is attempting to hold power through creating it's own reality while debasing the reality of those who serve, die and dissent.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

(cheese)headin' to packer country

Another summer in the city is coming to a close so I'm taking a trip to Packer country (art nerds, that's an NFL team) for the coming holiday weekend. Exotic for sure, some might even say an unconventional holiday destination.

So what is there to do in Green Bay, WI?

Here's my to do list as a first time visitor.

1. Green Bay Packer Hall of Fame and the famed Lambeau Field
2. Bay Beach wild life sanctuary
3. Brett Favre's Steakhouse
4. Oneida Bingo and Casino !
5. Ignore 24 hour coverage of Senator Craig's bathroom mischief

and that's about all I can up with.....any suggestions????

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

in memorium

It's been two long years in the Big Easy. Here are some of the ongoing stories.

Friday, August 24, 2007

cocerning political theology

The twilight of the idols has been postponed. For more than two centuries, from the American and French Revolutions to the collapse of Soviet Communism, world politics revolved around eminently political problems. War and revolution, class and social justice, race and national identity — these were the questions that divided us. Today, we have progressed to the point where our problems again resemble those of the 16th century, as we find ourselves entangled in conflicts over competing revelations, dogmatic purity and divine duty. We in the West are disturbed and confused. Though we have our own fundamentalists, we find it incomprehensible that theological ideas still stir up messianic passions, leaving societies in ruin. We had assumed this was no longer possible, that human beings had learned to separate religious questions from political ones, that fanaticism was dead. We were wrong. - Mark Lilla (NY Times mag)
The above quote from the this article - The Politics of God.

I confess I haven't read it but on the surface it seems relevant but then again the media seems to fail a lot at understanding the "faith factor" in contemporary American politics. Yes we have our fundamentalists and they are in major seats of power. This is not simply an Islamist phenomenon or the oriental other.

Larval Subjects produced this great quote from Marx on his blog thread about the above article.

There’s that terrific passage in Capital– “The Fetishism of the Commodity and Its Secret” –where Marx remarks that Protestant Christianity is the perfect religion for capitalism:

For a society of commodity producers, whose general social relation of production consists in the fact that they treat their products as commodities, hence as values, and in this material form bring their individual, private labours into relation with each other as homogenous human labour, Christianity with its religious cult of man in the abstract, more particularly in its bourgeois development, i.e. in Protestantism, Deism, etc., is the most fitting form of religion. In the ancient Asiatic, Classical-antique, and other such modes of production, the transformation of the product into a commodity, and therefore men’s existence as producers of commodities, plays a subordinate role, which however increases in importance as these communities approach nearer and nearer to the stage of their dissolution. Trading nations, properly so called, exist only in the interstices of the ancient world, like the gods of Epicurus in the intermundia, or Jews in the pores of Polish society. Those ancient social organisms of production are much more simple and transparent than those of bourgeois society. But they are founded either on the immaturity of man as an individual, when he has not yet torn himself loose from the ummbilical cord of his natural species-connection with other men, or on direct relations of dominance and servitude. They are conditioned by a low stage of development of the productive powers of labour and correspondingly limited relations between men within the process of creating and reproducing their material life, hence also limited relations between men and nature. These real limitations are reflected in the ancient worship of nature, and in other elements of tribal religions. The religious reflections of the real world can, in any case, vanish only when the practical relations of everyday life between man and man, and man and nature, generally present themselves to him in a transparent and rational form. The veil is not removed from the countenance of the social life-process, i.e. the process of material production, until it becomes production by freely associated men, and stands under their conscious and planned control. This, however, requires that society posses a material foundation, or a series of material conditions of existence, which in their turn are the natural and spontaneous product of a long and tormented historical development. (Fowkes trans, 172-173)

The operative words here are “cult of man in the abstract”, where the subject is conceived as separate and independent of his social and historical relations, i.e., bourgeois individualism reflected in the “personal relationship with God” and the ahistoricism of these religious movements. Yet how are Badiou and Zizek not simply giving us simply a secular form of this structure or phenomenon, and thereby reproducing, at a certain level of social relations, the very thing they claim to be targeting

Good question...

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

side dish

Todd Gibson has a well timed (for me) guest post over at Modern Art Notes on the nature of the creative side life. It comes on the heels of a recent discussion with a friend about William Carlos Williams and Wallace Stevens which are aptly highlighted in Todd's post! I hadn't even thought about WCW in years and now two mentions in one week. Funny that internet thing.

To quote Todd:
How did Stevens and Williams find the strategies they needed to feed and sustain their craft in the midst of their demanding professional lives?

Stevens and Williams did change the course of American poetry and the circumstances from which they did it is incredible - from the very bowels of employment - the daily grind, the ordinary life. They do really bust the myth of self-destructive creativity. I'm amazed by the strength of their accomplishments. In other words they were like the vast majority of artists. Regular working people with an open eye for something other.

I'm not trying to mythologize the working artist because as we all know mediocrity reigns within the ranks as much as anywhere else but I too find myself fascinated by the ability to negotiate both spheres and succeed creatively at a very deep level. Not only straddle divergent careers in turns of output, but to continue to have growth while spending the majority of your time in the service of others. Giving 40-50 hours of your week is no small commitment to someone who has no vested interest in your creative life cycle. That fact alone feels numbing to me on a regular basis and adds a vicious level of stress to an already stormy sea. And what of the common demons of self doubt which can multiple out of nowhere for a myriad of reasons and perceptions (both true and false) ?

It is hard say what one does to continue on. I look back over the years and still feel amazed that I'm still pushing paint around on nearly a daily basis. Still trying to figure "it" out, looking for the next idea in a long line of claimed and aborted ideas, millions to be sure. It isn't therapy, it isn't religion, and it certainly isn't about expressing myself. There are no cheering crowds for the visual artist, no signing bonus or world tour. There is the solitude of work peppered by sporadic openings with some interesting people and some not so interesting people sipping free drinks and feeling both entitled or awkward.

It is a strange field to inhabit and if one is constantly pulled by "opposing" career paths how does that affect the work you make? Do you go deeper because you have to in order to survive or do you skim the surface always wondering what it might have been if you had had "more time"? I wonder if these poets felt that tug that perceived loss which quickly to turn to a conflation of rage and fatigue.

Primarily you are drawn the experience of the creating. All the moments that only you encounter. The rough patches, the easy passages, the accidents and the endless questions about resolution. Those belong to you and no one else. I think that teaches one to persevere through the work world situation. It doesn't make it any easier, but there is a lesson about acquisition and loss when you create. That means something I think. That sticks and keeps you coming back for more.

So like Todd, I'm left with a big question - and a personal one - why this life? this path?

Is this some idea of love?

tip: Deborah Fisher

the great independents

Maud Newton has been running a great series on independent booksellers near and far. Be sure and check out these local refuges!

pictured: Powell's in Portland, OR

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

reproduction of the enemy

Reading accounts of the treatment of Padilla and the psychiatrist’s description of what remains today of the battered spirit of Jose Padilla, it is clear that the Bush Administration has fully availed itself of these concepts. The Jacoby Declaration makes clear that “breaking” the subject is in fact the object of the process. The psychiatrists’ report shows that Padilla was essentially brainwashed. He could not really even mount a defense to the charges against him because he loved George W. Bush and he found it physically impossible to oppose him.

And the charges brought against Padilla are “thought crimes.” He is accused of thinking bad thoughts about America and the Bush Administration. - Scott Horton - Harper's

So the part that almost makes me cry is that this man, who has been treated so abominably, still believes in the integrity of the Office of the President. And that the person sitting in the White House MUST be a person of fairness and justice, and that somehow he must not know what is happening to Mr. Padilla because surely if he did, it would not continue to happen. - Lokywoky - Jesus' General

I have to admit I got emotionally rattled by the piece over on Alternet about the case of Jose Padilla - our fellow citizen and accused "dirty bomber". It reads like a horror film or some black ops scenario dreamed up by James Ellroy. It is dark, dark stuff, complete with cliches - mind altering drugs, years in isolation (yes years), false sounds, and endless other forms of torture for a man who's real crime was a relationship to gang life and filling out an application to "study" terrorism abroad.

Padilla was surely a messed up guy, petty criminal type but the treatment he has received and the ensuing brainwashing and ultimate conviction of conspiracy should give everyone pause. The charges amount to an admission by the government that they don't have real proof of anything - just a gut instinct about what might have happened and who he might have been in contact with. Match that with the new FISA regulations and our evolving environment starts to taste a little bit like the Inquisitions of the past where everyone saw there neighbor as a witch or satanic cohort and were quickly put to torture for their shape shifting associations and coerced into confessions.

The Padilla case is constructed, shaped and vetted by brainwashing. Helmut at Phronesisaical aptly calls it a reproduction of the enemy .
Our ability to distinguish between the real and artifice is again severely compromised.

Well said.

image, titled "Solitary Confinement," from wolispace]

Thursday, August 09, 2007

wall of sound

whoa....but in a different world I can see a sitcom slot with Bea Arthur

Monday, August 06, 2007

slip sliding away

I remember how relieved and excited I was back when the Dems re-took Congress. Despite the narrow margin I felt relatively sure that we would have at least a chance at reversing some of the inane as well as criminal maneuvers by the current administration and if not, that we would at least stop the bleeding long enough to get us to the '08 election. Perhaps even some civility might return to politics. Well in my defense, artists are prone to dreaming.

Of course the Pelosi/Reid Congress has done better than the diseased body of DeLay/Frist and they get credit for moving important measures forward. I can even be realistic about the battle they have in changing the course of the war. Ramming through legislation like that is never easy - just ask the Christian Right, who have been trying to overturn Roe v. Wade for 4 decades. Getting the procedures and the votes is painstaking and at best a shifting sand.

Now however I have to give this group an F - for FISA. How can a majority party cave to a president who's approval is around 26% (who is not seeking re-election!) and grant unprecedented legal powers to an attorney general that is on the cusp of censure/ impeachment?? This same Congress has been in hearings for weeks to basically remove this man and now his illegal spying program is made legal by the very same body? Breathtaking - and disgusting.

In case you have not been following, here are the basics behind the argument to revise FISA - beyond the "protect America" rhetoric.

This essay argues that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act should be restructured to account for changes in communications technology and Fourth Amendment law since FISA's enactment in 1978. FISA reflects the person-focused assumptions of 1970s-era technology and constitutional law. At that time, foreign intelligence monitoring necessarily focused on subject identity and location. Although some modern investigations track this traditional approach, many do not; investigations involving packet-switched networks often start with data divorced from any known person or location. FISA should be amended to create two distinct authorities for surveillance: data-focused authorities when the identity and/or location of the subject are unknown, and person-focused authorities when the identity and/or location are known. A two-pronged approach can best implement the goals of foreign intelligence investigations given the realities of modern communications networks.
Imagine that the government has reason to believe that an Al-Qaeda cell uses a particular Internet service provider in Kabul and a particular type of software to communicate about a terrorist plot targeting the United States. In this case, the government has probable cause to believe that monitoring the ISP would uncover terrorist intelligence information. But how broad can the monitoring be? Can the government look at all of the traffic coming to or from that ISP in Kabul? Or can it only look at traffic to or from that ISP that uses that particular software? Or only some specific portion of the traffic from that ISP using that software.
-Orin S. Kerr

The Administration has taken this position that it is hamstrung by FISA do to technological advances since the late 1970's, and that is why it had to break the law in the first place for it's domestic spying program. The previous law insisted that any administration get a FISA Court-approved warrant to eavesdrop on communications and the point was to keep oversight of such activities in order to prevent the abuses that the CIA had become associated with by mid-70's. Somebody to watch the watchers.

So thanks to another rush-job by Congress, ala Patriot Act 1 and 2, the president now has the ability to not only eavesdrop on foreign communications without a warrant but also domestic communications. The new bill appears to go well beyond the "tweaks" Bush sought.

How bad is the new law?

Congressional aides and others familiar with the details of the law said that its impact went far beyond the small fixes that administration officials had said were needed to gather information about foreign terrorists. They said seemingly subtle changes in legislative language would sharply alter the legal limits on the government's ability to monitor millions of phone calls and e-mail messages going in and out of the United States.

....For example, if a person in Indianapolis calls someone in London, the National Security Agency can eavesdrop on that conversation without a warrant, as long as the N.S.A.'s target is the person in London.

Tony Fratto, a White House spokesman, said Sunday in an interview that the new law went beyond fixing the foreign-to-foreign problem, potentially allowing the government to listen to Americans calling overseas.

But he stressed that the objective of the new law is to give the government greater flexibility in focusing on foreign suspects overseas, not to go after Americans.

"It's foreign, that's the point," Mr. Fratto said. "What you want to make sure is that you are getting the foreign target."

....The new law gives the attorney general and the director of national intelligence the power to approve the international surveillance, rather than the special intelligence court. The court's only role will be to review and approve the procedures used by the government in the surveillance after it has been conducted. It will not scrutinize the cases of the individuals being monitored.

- NY Times

I think we can all read between the lines on this one. All that is needed from now on is "significant purpose" - not terrorism mind you - "significant purpose". No court is needed, someone just claims "sp" and approves it, done, no oversight and your privacy trampled. This is shattering stupidity, and criminally colossal with regard to potential misuse and incompetent implementation.

Our Congress has failed us and once again proves that it does not understand its constitutional authority.


Here's a great take on the cave in or chess match if you will over FISA. Obsidian Wings
Also this from Balkinization.

image: Brueghel the elder

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

suffering for your art

the great Manny Coon! suffering all the way to the bank.... I'm off to Scope Hamptons
- yeah I know

Thursday, July 19, 2007

that petrol emotion

something to chew on. (click image to enlarge)

via: Phronesisaical

there is glory here

If you could have a miracle what would you want? Expect it Believe it Don't leave without it!

Couldn't resist this Benny Hinn parody (followed by a real and tragic news story of the reality) And people wonder why the left gets trumped by the religious right...

tip: sinners guide

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Impeachment: the cure for Constitutional crisis

"The founding fathers expected an executive who tried to overreach and expected the executive would be hampered and curtailed by the legislative branch... They [Congress] have basically renounced — walked away from their responsibility to oversee and check." — Bruce Fein

"On January 20th, 2009, if George Bush and Dick Cheney are not appropriately held to account this Administration will hand off a toolbox with more powers than any President has ever had, more powers than the founders could have imagined. And that box may be handed to Hillary Clinton or it may be handed to Mitt Romney or Barack Obama or someone else. But whoever gets it, one of the things we know about power is that people don't give away the tools." — John Nichols
The above came from a recent episode of Bill Moyers Journal on the nature of impeachment. I recommend watching the episode or reading the entire transcript.

Unlike Nancy Pelosi I think impeachment should be on the table and should be on the way to the executive branch. To suggest otherwise is not only a flagrant denial of high crimes but in fact goes against the very oath that a Congress person takes. The number one job of a representative is to uphold and protect the Constitution so that all generations to follow will have a living document to guide a just society based on law and a government beholden to the wisdom of checks and balances. The impeachment process is designed not as a punishment to an executive, but is intended to be a cure for something diseased and compromised. It is meant to correct a constitutional crisis without having to raise an army and shed blood.

We all know that we have an over reaching executive branch, and we also seem to have a Congress that doesn't appear to actually understand the Constitution and fails to grasp its role within the document. They are supposed to do much more than simply establish budgets, set up earmarks for the home state and pass legislation. They are under order to protect the union, the very republic itself from individuals that seek to undermine the general rule of law. This seems to be lost on them, why else does Abu Gonzales get to keep his job as public servant? Why is Harriet Meyers answering to the President and not the Congress - even under subpoena? They have the power in each of these instances -not the executive branch. In short they are not holding the executive branch in check and failing the republic by doing so.

Unless Congress re-asserts itself, all White House administrations moving forward will have the same powers as Bush and very possibly more. Royalism is unacceptable. Only impeachment can correct our current course.

Here is a small refresher of the abuses in case you have overlooked them:
    According to Fein, Cheney has:
  • Asserted Presidential power to create military commissions, which combine the functions of judge, jury, and prosecutor in the trial of war crimes.
  • Claimed authority to detain American citizens as enemy combatants indefinitely at Guantanamo Bay on the President's say-so alone.
  • Initiated kidnappings, secret detentions, and torture in Eastern European prisons of suspected international terrorists.
  • Championed a Presidential power to torture in contravention of federal statutes and treaties.
  • Engineered the National Security Agency's warrantless domestic surveillance program targeting American citizens on American soil in contravention of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978.
  • Orchestrated the invocation of executive privilege to conceal from Congress secret spying programs to gather foreign intelligence, and their legal justifications.
  • Summoned the privilege to refuse to disclose his consulting of business executives in conjunction with his Energy Task Force.
  • Retaliated against Ambassador Joseph Wilson and his wife Valerie Plame, through chief of staff Scooter Libby, for questioning the administration's evidence of weapons of mass destruction as justification for invading Iraq.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Parade boy

Not sure how many people have read the Josh Marshall piece but I think he's on to a valid observation. As the deaths and mutilations go on and on and the constant destruction mutates into further levels of chaos, hate and criminality our perennial teenage president will still be pining for his ever elusive heroic status. In the end he'll never get to wear the white cowboy hat and he will never save the innocents - only destroy them through hubris, ignorance, incompetence and the cruelty of his very soul.
According to Secretary Chertoff, we're entering a new period of lurking terrorist danger this summer. In other words, a period of danger similar to every other summer since 2001 and like most periods of low popularity for the president and before elections as well. But perhaps it is a period of increased danger. It really well might be. We've known for some time a mix of sagging tide of the war in Afghanistan and the mounting impotence of the Musharraf regime in Pakistan has allowed jihadist groups a relative safe-haven in the lawless Pakistani borderlands like they have not had since prior to 9/11. And if they can train they can act.

People ask what we're doing in Iraq. And you can answer in a hundred ways and in a thousand shades of literalism to metaphor. But at some level we're in Iraq because President Bush wanted a parade. It's not hard to imagine how he must have imagined it. A withdrawal of most American troops from a staunchly allied pro-American Iraq. Waving flags. Heartfelt thanks and vindication for the president who had the guts and character to see it through.

And that's why we stay. Because somehow if he just keeps at it someday he might get his parade. Or rather if he just keeps us there forever he doesn't have to really deal wtih what a disaster he's created and fundamentally what a failure he is.

image: a real hero's welcome - Apollo11 crew

Monday, July 09, 2007

Thursday, July 05, 2007

border keystone

In the end, people provide endless "entertainment"

via Subtopia

Monday, July 02, 2007

thick as thieves

"I respect the jury's verdict," Bush said in a statement. "But I have concluded that the prison sentence given to Mr. Libby is excessive. Therefore, I am commuting the portion of Mr. Libby's sentence that required him to spend thirty months in prison." -W

uh no asshole, that means you don't actually respect the decision - get it?


You've called your earliest paintings (from 1993) in the Wolfsburg show your first "valid" pictures. How do you judge a painting's "validity?"

Let's go back to that image of the internal compass that I just spoke of: Before 1993 the magnetic needle was swinging all over the place. Discovering my position was complicated, because there were so many artistic points of reference. I was overwhelmed by all of the possibilities coming into my studio from thousands of different directions. My work displayed violent mood swings from abstraction to figuration, and this was just one of the many internal conflicts I faced at the time....

"Validity" comes down to the extent to which the uniqueness of the artist's psyche can establish a permanence of form and meaning in the actual work. Since 1993, I have been able to focus better on sorting out what is most significant for me.
Neo Rauch interview on ArtInfo. Here's a review by Schjeldahl on the show at the MET.

Friday, June 29, 2007

iPhone is sexy

So this is what supply and demand looks like? or rather Apple fetishism? This poor soul will get his iPhone but has endured some hellish NY weather this week. Be sure and give him a call...

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

La Jetee and Sans Soleil

Criterion Collection is releasing La Jetee and Sans Soleil today. I believe this is the first packaging of La Jetee with another Marker film. Previous versions were with Alphaville or in my case a cruddy a VHS tape. If you are unfamiliar with Marker this is a great place to start.

I'm excited to see this again after so long especially now that we have the Road and Children of Men context to compare this Cold War era apocalyptic vision. But beyond that, it is a marvelous use of the still image as cinema.

Monday, June 25, 2007

who's your state doppelganger

Here is very interesting map that measures and compares the size of national economies. The GDP = consumption + investment + government spending + (exports – imports)
  1. California, it is often said, would be the world’s sixth- or seventh-largest economy if it was a separate country. Actually, that would be the eighth, according to this map, as France (with a GDP of $2,15 trillion) is #8 on the aforementioned list.
  2. Texas’ economy is significantly smaller, exactly half of California’s, as its GDP compares to that of Canada (#10, $1,08 trillion).
  3. Florida also does well, with its GDP comparable to Asian tiger South Korea’s (#13 at $786 billion).
  4. Illinois – Mexico (GDP #14 at $741 billion)
  5. New Jersey – Russia (GDP #15 at $733 billion)
  6. Ohio – Australia (GDP #16 at $645 billion)
  7. New York – Brazil (GDP #17 at $621 billion)
  8. Pennsylvania – Netherlands (GDP #18 at $613 billion)
  9. Georgia – Switzerland (GDP #19 at $387 billion)
  10. North Carolina – Sweden (GDP #20 at $371 billion)
  11. Massachusetts – Belgium (GDP #21 at $368 billion)
  12. Washington – Turkey (GDP #22 at $358 billion)
  13. Virginia – Austria (GDP #24 at $309 billion)
  14. Tennessee – Saudi Arabia (GDP #25 at $286 billion)
  15. Missouri – Poland (GDP #26 at $265 billion)
  16. Louisiana – Indonesia (GDP #27 at $264 billion)
  17. Minnesota – Norway (GDP #28 at $262 billion)
  18. Indiana – Denmark (GDP #29 at $256 billion)
  19. Connecticut – Greece (GDP #30 at $222 billion)
  20. Michigan – Argentina (GDP #31 at $210 billion)
  21. Nevada – Ireland (GDP #32 at $203 billion)
  22. Wisconsin – South Africa (GDP #33 at $200 billion)
  23. Arizona – Thailand (GDP #34 at $197 billion)
  24. Colorado – Finland (GDP #35 at $196 billion)
  25. Alabama – Iran (GDP #36 at $195 billion)
  26. Maryland – Hong Kong (#37 at $187 billion GDP)
  27. Kentucky – Portugal (GDP #38 at $177 billion)
  28. Iowa – Venezuela (GDP #39 at $148 billion)
  29. Kansas – Malaysia (GDP #40 at $132 billion)
  30. Arkansas – Pakistan (GDP #41 at $124 billion)
  31. Oregon – Israel (GDP #42 at $122 billion)
  32. South Carolina – Singapore (GDP #43 at $121 billion)
  33. Nebraska – Czech Republic (GDP #44 at $119 billion)
  34. New Mexico – Hungary (GDP #45 at $113 billion)
  35. Mississippi – Chile (GDP #48 at $100 billion)
  36. DC – New Zealand (#49 at $99 billion GDP)
  37. Oklahoma – Philippines (GDP #50 at $98 billion)
  38. West Virginia – Algeria (GDP #51 at $92 billion)
  39. Hawaii – Nigeria (GDP #53 at $83 billion)
  40. Idaho – Ukraine (GDP #54 at $81 billion)
  41. Delaware – Romania (#55 at $79 billion GDP)
  42. Utah – Peru (GDP #56 at $76 billion)
  43. New Hampshire – Bangladesh (GDP #57 at $69 billion)
  44. Maine – Morocco (GDP #59 at $57 billion)
  45. Rhode Island – Vietnam (GDP #61 at $48 billion)
  46. South Dakota – Croatia (GDP #66 at $37 billion)
  47. Montana – Tunisia (GDP #69 at $33 billion)
  48. North Dakota – Ecuador (GDP #70 at $32 billion)
  49. Alaska – Belarus (GDP #73 at $29 billion)
  50. Vermont – Dominican Republic (GDP #81 at $20 billion)
  51. Wyoming – Uzbekistan (GDP #101 at $11 billion)
I get a kick out of the parallel between Alabama and Iran!

via Strange Maps

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

holy highway

In case you missed the new 10 Commandments - of driving...

Friday, June 15, 2007

Avant-Garde Tube or how I learned to love that inane unthing thing

Ever wanted a resource for artist interviews of the last 60 years? A Martha Rosler video from 1975? How about some Beuys or Chris Burden? perhaps you're needing a Dieter Roth fix or a reading by Henry Miller? Well you can find it and much more at UBUWEB. Seriously, this is a treasure trove of archived materials. Tons of MP3's of major historical figures, films, videos....

I wish I could embed a sample but do check out UBUWEB and you'll wonder aloud - where was this when I writing my thesis!

From the site:
UbuWeb: The YouTube of the Avant-Garde UbuWeb has converted all of its rare and out-of-print film & video holdings to on-demand streaming formats à la YouTube, which means that you can view everything right in your browser without platform-specific software or insanely huge downloads. We offer over 300 films & videos from artists such as Marcel Duchamp, Vito Acconci, Pipilotti Rist, Jean Genet, The Cinema of Transgression, Richard Foreman, Terayama Shuji, Paul McCarthy Jack Smith, Carolee Schneeman, John Lennon and hundreds more -- of course all free of charge. Presented in conjunction with our partners at Greylodge.

Heres a short list of the video and film archive:

Vito Acconci
Marina Abramoviç
Igor and Gleb Aleinikov
Alejandra & Aeron
Erik Anderson
Skip Arnold
Robert Ashley
Beth B
Francis Bacon
Derek Bailey
John Baldessari
Piero Bargellini
Francis Bacon
Otmar Bauer
Samuel Beckett
David Behrman
Charles Bernstein
Joseph Beuys
Christian Boltanski
Jorge Luis Borges
Walerian Borowczyk
Stan Brakhage
George Brecht
James Broughton
Luis Buñuel
Chris Burden
Robert Breer
Gunter Brus
Chris Burden
William S. Burroughs
John Cage
Alexander Calder
John Cale
Peter Campus
Louis-Ferdinand Céline
Abigail Child
Segundo de Chomón
Henri Chopin
Cinema of Transgression
Robert Clampett
Rene Clair
Carlfriedrich Claus
Jean Cocteau
Émile Cohl
Anton Corbijn
Jospeh Cornell
Pierre Coulibeuf
Merce Cunningham
Guy Debord
Wim Delvoye
Maya Deren
Jean-Marie Drot
Marcel Duchamp
Germaine Dulac
Dziga Vertov Group
Viking Eggeling
Tracy Emin
Ed Emshwiller
Jean Epstein
Harun Farocki

Flux Films
Richard Foreman
Péter Forgács
Terry Fox
Hollis Frampton
Tessa Hughes-Freeland
Ernie Gehr
Jean Genet
German Dada
Alberto Giacometti
Allen Ginsberg
Gilbert & George
Paul Glabicki
Philip Glass
Godard & Miéville
Jack Goldstein
Peter Greenaway
Groupe Medvedkine
Laszlo Hege
Her Noise
Helmut Herbst
Piero Heliczer
Gary Hill
Henry Hills
Abbie Hoffman
Takahiko Iimura
Isidore Isou
Joris Ivens
M Henry Jones
Larry Jordan
Mauricio Kagel
Pitor Kamler
Anish Kapoor
Richard Kern
Raashan Roland Kirk
Dimitri Kirsanov
Yves Klein
Alexander Kluge
Paul and Marlene Kos
Kurt Kren
George Kuchar
Jerzy Kucia
Jacques Lacan
Andrew Lampert
George Landow
Fernand Leger
John Lennon
Alfred Leslie
György Ligeti
Alvin Lucier
Willard Maas
George Maciunas
Gregory Markopoulos
Toshio Matsumoto
Paul McCarthy
Jonas Mekas
Marie Mencken

László Moholy-Nagy
Meredith Monk
Irene Moon
Jon Moritsugu
Robert Morris
Frank & Caroline Mouris
Otto Muehl
Gordon Mumma
Music with Roots in the Aether
Bruce Nauman
Werner Nekes
Phil Niblock
Hermann Nitsch
Pauline Oliveros
Yoko Ono
Nam June Paik
Charlemagne Palestine
Kembra Pfahler
Robert Rauschenberg
Man Ray
Hans Richter
Ron Rice
Terry Riley
David Rimmer
Pipilotti Rist
Donald Ritchie
Peter Rose
Kay Rosen
Jeri Cain Rossi
Walter Ruttmann
Aram Saroyan
Carolee Schneeman
Werner Schroeter
Richard Serra
Situationist International
Jack Smith
Kiki Smith
Robert Smithson
Ladislaw Starewicz
Ralph Steiner
Jerry Tartaglia
Shuji Terayama
Stan Vanderbeek
Agnes Varda
Ben Vautier
Edgard Varêse & Le Corbusier
Dziga Vertov
Rene Vienet
Bill Viola
Robert Watts
William Wegman
Orson Welles
Peter Whitehead
Rachel Whiteread
Lloyd Michael Williams
David Wojnarowicz
Tadanori Yokoo
Zubi Zuva

great tip: Kazys

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Gore nutshells the G8

"The eight most powerful nations gathered and were unable to do anything except to say 'We had good conversations and we agreed that we will have more conversations, and we will even have conversations about the possibility of doing something in the future on a voluntary basis perhaps."

- Al Gore on the G8 climate "summit"

yep that sounds about right - see it's not only the Democrats...

image: eccentric toast

Tuesday, June 12, 2007


The other thing I missed - Richard Rorty's passing last week. Another controversial iconoclast we've lost this year. From the NY Times:

His views were attacked by critics on the left and the right. The failure to recognize science’s particular powers to depict reality, Daniel Dennett wrote, shows “flatfooted ignorance of the proven methods of scientific truth-seeking and their power.”

Simon Blackburn, a philosopher at Cambridge University, has written of Mr. Rorty’s “extraordinary gift for ducking and weaving and laying smoke.”

Mr. Rorty was engaged with and amused by his critics. In a 1992 autobiographical essay, “Trotsky and the Wild Orchids,” he wrote that he was considered to be one of the “smirking intellectuals whose writings are weakening the moral fiber of the young”; “cynical and nihilistic”; “complacent”; and “irresponsible.”

Yet he confounded critics as well, by speaking up for patriotism, an academic canon and the idea that one can make meaningful moral judgments.

Dear Apocalypse

Somehow I missed this opening on my hiatus but Lens Culture cites the following show which just opened at the New Museum - APOCALYPSE: CONTEMPORARY VISIONS (May 30 - July 27, 2007).

The blurb from the show states:
It is not specific, nor is it political. It is meant to be deeply psychological, more fantasy than reality. We have looked for photographs that suggest something. If they are literal, they may not be obvious, as in Stephen Vaughn's image of an iceberg melting quietly on a beach.
Funny I know some bloggers who have a few thoughts on this and would have loved to use that image. Perhaps this could be the official picture for the Democrats in '08...

image: Lucian Perkins: A Survivor of the Gulf War, 1991

Demand's Niger Embassy

So the word I get form Venice is that it is "POLITICAL". And so as luck would have it a few stories on a piece by Thomas Demand are circulating around the web today. The above is Demand's homage to the Niger embassy - infamous generator of a forged smoking gun that not only led to the Iraq war but also the ruination of CIA covert agent Valerie Plame. I've long been a fan of Demand and this is the perfect subject for him. Forgery on forgery so to speak and endless other paper cliches.

From the Fondazione Prada:

The Fondazione Prada is presenting a project by the German artist Thomas Demand, curated by Germano Celant at the Fondazione Giorgio Cini, Venice. The proposed work consists of two large installations; Yellowcake, composed of a series of new photographs, exploring a place in Rome which was instrumental to US intervention in Iraq.

For the exhibition presented at the Fondazione Giorgio Cini in Venice, Demand has developed two large installations. The title Yellowcake refers to its technical meaning: “yellowcake” denotes a concentrated form of uranium, which when enriched may be used to make nuclear weapons. This word recently emerged in mainstream political discourse because it was the fulcrum of President George Walker Bush’s famous accusation in his State of the Union Address in 2003, in which he stated: “The British government has learned that Saddam Hussein recently sought significant quantities of Uranium in Africa”. The evidence was paperwork supposedly stolen from the Embassy of the Republic of Niger in Rome and passed on to British and American intelligence by SISMI, their Italian counterparts. The documents were supposed to be a contract for the sale of hundreds of tons of yellowcake to the Iraqi authorities, which soon turned out to be obvious forgeries.

Demand’s work consists of a series of photographs about the location where the trail leading to this ‘smoking gun’ originated. Usually, the artist bases his works on existing photographic sources, but with Yellowcake there were no images available: no one covering the story had gained access to Niger’s Embassy in Rome. It was thus a story that had yet to be illustrated. Lacking photographic evidence, it remained unanchored to its site. Demand’s first step, then, was to try to gain access to the Embassy. By entering the apartment-cum-embassy he also crossed an extra-territorial frontier between Italy and Niger (and Europe and Africa). The meeting yielded nothing much, but while there, Demand was able to memorize the site and begin a conversation with the embassy’s staff.

The information he gathered from these visits was the basis for a life-sized reconstruction of the very same place, built over a period of months in his studio and, subsequently, the large photographs that constitute the finished work and are presented at the Fondazione Giorgio Cini. So the infamous story that has been named “Nigergate” has finally received a pictorial representation of some kind.

Friday, June 01, 2007

HIV Law Project benefit - June 4

I'm happy to be placing work in the above benefit show at Moti Hasson Gallery. So if you are in NYC on Monday June 4 please consider the event.
To encourage attendance, for those that might not be able to afford the $100 ticket, the HIV Law Project is offering discounted tickets at $35.00 each.

If you are interested in these tickets please email Almond Zigmund[]
or you can purchase at the door (
Moti Hasson Gallery) as "Friends of Jesse" tickets.

Links for the auction:
artworks available

spread the word...

Friday, May 25, 2007

super hero dance fever

If gas price gouging has got you down this holiday weekend or if like me, you are still feeling ashamed of our Congressional cave-in yesterday on the Iraq spending bill ....try some escape courtesy of "superman" and "spider-woman".....yes, woman....