Thursday, February 28, 2008

Hillary's Inner Tracy Flick

Because elections are not popularity contests damnit!

tip: Perverse Egalitarianism

but how do I decorate my $900,000 mini loft?

Art paralysis: It is a widespread and often crippling malady, striking everyone from the new college grad in his or her first apartment to the super-rich banker, lasting anywhere from a few months to a lifetime. How many are affected is not known, perhaps because the victims are often too embarrassed to come forth. Who wants to admit that “I’ve had these posters since college, I know that as one of the American Top 10 Orthodontists I should get some real art, but I don’t know what that means”? Or that “It’s not that I’m trying to make a minimalist statement with these empty white walls, I just don’t know what to buy”? Or “I walk into those snooty galleries in Chelsea and feel like I just don’t belong”?.........

Joseph Higgins, a 43-year-old portfolio manager in New York with a $900,000 mini-loft in west SoHo and a house in the suburbs, is one of the rare sufferers who will speak openly about his art paralysis. He blames it on galleries, and overcame it, he said, by breaking free of their grasp.

“You’re going into an intimidating space and having a curator or a gallery owner ask you ‘Do you like this style or this art’ when you have no idea what the price tag is,” he said. “It’s hard to say, I’m browsing, after someone spends time with you in a gallery and tells you ‘I’ll put it under a light for you’ and sets you up in a little room and brings you a cup of coffee.” from Joyce Wadler, The Terrible Toll of Art Anxiety

Bill Gusky has some good ruminations on this outgrowth of collector's 'anxiety' I'm always skeptical of these type of articles where everyone is griping about prices and elitism. All I know is I need roughly $800 a month to run a studio so when people start taking about cutting prices my
survival anxiety kicks in.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Obama and the terror principle

Obama during a Q&A addressing issues related to Israel and a Palestinian state

I am not na├»ve. There is a hard core of jihadist fundamentalists who we can't negotiate with. We have to hunt them down and knock them out. Incapacitate them....And that is where military action and intelligence has to be directed. So all the things I've talked about in the past — improving our intelligence capacity, improving our alliances, rolling up financial support, improving our homeland security, making sure that we have strike forces that are effective — that's all the military, intelligence, police work that's required.

The question then is what do we do with the 1.3 billion Muslims, who are along a spectrum of belief. Some extraordinarily moderate, some very pious but not violent. How do we reach out to them? And it is my strong belief that that is the battlefield that we have to worry about, and that is where we have been losing badly over the last 7 years. That is where Iraq has been a disaster. That is where the lack of effective public diplomacy has been a disaster. That is where our failure to challenge seriously human rights violations by countries like Saudi Arabia that are our allies has been a disaster.

And so what we have to do is to speak to that broader Muslim world in a way that says we will consistently support human rights, women's rights. We will consistently invest in the kinds of educational opportunities for children in these communities, so that madrasas are not their only source of learning. We will consistently operate in ways that lead by example, so that we have no tolerance for a Guantanamo or renditions or torture. Those all contribute to people at least being open to our values and our ideas and a recognition that we are not the enemy and that the Clash of Civilizations is not inevitable.

more on his attitude toward the war on terror

via Kevin Drum

Monday, February 25, 2008

Friday, February 22, 2008

Thursday, February 21, 2008


oh boy - button recall.....


Wednesday, February 20, 2008

the 7 mile march to vote

Absolutely amazing story in TX:

Early voting starts today in Texas. In Waller County, a primarily rural county about 60 miles outside Houston, the county made the decision to offer only one early voting location: at the County Courthouse in Hempstead, TX, the county seat.

Prairie View A&M students organized to protest the decision, because they felt it hindered their ability to vote. For background, Prairie View A&M is one of Texas’ historically Black universities. It has a very different demographic feel than the rest of the county. There has been a long history of dispute over what the students feel is disenfranchisement. There was a lot of outrage in 2006, when students felt they were unfairly denied the right to vote when their registrations somehow did not get processed.

According to an article in today’s Houston Chronicle:

Waller County has faced numerous lawsuits involving voting rights in the past 30 years and remains under investigation by the Texas Attorney General’s Office based on complaints by local black leaders. Those allegations, concerning the November 2006 general election, related to voting machine failures, inadequate staffing and long delays for voting results.

The article adds,

“I was angry after registering to vote in the 2006 election only to be turned away at the voting booth,” said sophomore Dee Dee Williams.

So what are the students doing?

1000 students, along with an additional 1000 friends and supporters, are this morning walking the 7.3 miles between Prairie View and Hempstead in order to vote today. According to the piece I saw on the news (there’s no video up, so I can’t link to it), the students plan to all vote today. There are only 2 machines available at the courthouse for early voting, so they hope to tie them up all day and into the night.

more at Crooks and Liars

regarding the Wisconsin primaries

You have to be impressed by the voters of Wisconsin last night. Despite -11 temps. people turned out in droves to vote.
Total Democratic vote in Wisconsin: 1,110,702
Total Republican vote in Wisconsin: 409,078
Those are outrageously large numbers...

Monday, February 18, 2008


Last night I broke my personal ban on watching NOW on PBS. Why do I have a ban? Just because every time I watch I get so depressed that it makes the Sunday blues ever more painful. Beyond that it has been an essential news program post 9/11.

Last night was a particularly good piece on the Freelancer's Union and traditional labor.

How corporations are using the designation "freelancer" to avoid paying benefits.

Temporary workers and independent contractors make up nearly a third of the U.S. workforce, and represent a growing asset to companies who rely on freelance flexibility. But corporations are using the designation “freelancer” to avoid paying health care and other benefits, even though many of these workers put in the same hours as their covered counterparts. This week, NOW looks at the effect of this tactic on the lives and personal economy of freelance workers.

We also examine an Enterprising Idea to help independent workers manage their personal needs, including benefits, networking, and investment help. Freelancers Union, founded by former labor lawyer and MacArthur grant recipient Sara Horowitz, provides a safety net for over 60,000 workers, but how is it viewed by the traditional labor movement?

This is part of NOW’s series on social entrepreneurs called “Enterprising Ideas“.

At NOW’s website, learn more about the issue, read personal stories of freelance workers, and watch recent more NOW reports of America’s hard-pressed workforce.

Freelancer's discuss the good/bad of freelancing.

Some additional permalance stories at Gawker
No secret that many of the workers in this roll are creative workers and people highly involved in media/tech fields. Most of the economic development is being developed by people working in these fields and largely done by the growing freelance work force. Global business dictates the short term - unfortunately for workers, that's bad.

For NYers one of the interesting sides mentioned in the article is a task force by Governor Spitzer to investigate fraud by company's that take advantage of the freelance/permanent worker divide. So far in 4 months, $29 million has been found to be unpaid to the state by private companies. Those are profits that should have gone towards employee benefits and state taxes designed for the state's infrastructure.

Of course New York is the leading state by far for freelance union membership. To get a complete 50 state coverage for freelancers is something completely other. Many states have completely allowed insurance companies to dominate local governance regarding health care.

Watch the clips as I assume the majority of artists fall into this purgatory of permalance and adjunct
teaching. Perhaps the freelancers union is a partial solution for you.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

475 Kent - fighting to save it

Perhaps like many of you, I have had several friends displaced by the city since the evacuation of 475 Kent. Despite a lot of hearsay, about 100 or so of the tenants have banded together to fight and save their home and in many cases their studios and livelihoods. The NY Times has a pretty good article here on the displacement and the history of the efforts of the tenants to reclaim this lost building into a home and the new struggle to keep it. Remember these are not some random collection of jaded hipsters, but real people- real cultural producers.

And if you are in a fighting mood contact the mayor's office with the following.

Please show support for the artists living at 475 Kent Street.

Online Petition here or write the Mayor:

Please email your letter to the Mayor at:
Here is a sample letter:

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg
City Hall
New York, NY 10007

Dear Mayor Bloomberg,

My attention has recently been drawn to the problem of the artist's building at 475 Kent Avenue in Brooklyn, New York.

You are certainly aware by now that over 200 artists are in danger of losing their homes and workplaces permanently - which usually spells financial ruin in a community already subjected to considerable risk.

In the spirit of the cultural tradition that has long prevailed in this great city, I urge you to do everything you can to help the artists return to their professions immediately and to foster our common creative capital.

image: artist/resident Simon Lee

Thursday, February 07, 2008

map of the internet

this is what the internet looks like - rather what it looked like in January '06. Quite nebular eh?

via Next Nature

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

bad news for 475 Kent Ave. tenants

Brownstoner has this new update.

After two frustrating weeks, tenants of 475 Kent Avenue finally got to sit down with representatives from the Department of Buildings and the Fire Department on Monday night. And the news wasn't good. To recap: The FDNY ordered the 200-some-odd tenants out last month after a routine inspection of a street-level pipe led to the discovery of an illegal matzo factory being run in the basement by the landlord and assorted other safety violations. On Monday, with the immediate hazard of the basement remedied, the FDNY presented tenants with an extensive punch list of items that have to be brought up to code before anyone is allowed to move back in. According to Councilmember David Yassky, the list would likely take several months to complete, and that's assuming cooperation from the landlord, a big assumption given the value of the building (which is zoned residential but lacks the proper certificate of occupancy) as a potential condo conversion if he were permanently rid of his tenants. "The agencies are setting an alarming and dangerous precedent by keeping residents of 475 Kent out on these relatively small remaining infractions which I imagine many buildings in New York City also have," Yassky said. One idea floated by Yassky is for HPD to exercise its right to make building repairs when derelict landlords refuse to do so. It's unclear whether the necessary political will exists at the city level, so for the time being it appears that 475 Kent's tenants aren’t going allowed back into their old homes anytime soon.

NOYFB - the work of Trevor Paglen

We find ourselves in a time where the life of the individual becomes ever more public and transparent. This is starkly contrasted by the growing opaqueness of our institutions and government. With this reality trend in mind, We make money not art has a good primer on the
work being done by Trevor Paglen.

Paglen works at the border of art and research and is currently completing a PhD in the Department of Geography at the University of California at Berkeley. His artistic work deliberately blurs the lines between social science, contemporary art, and other more obscure disciplines in order to construct unfamiliar, yet meticulously researched ways to interpret the world around us. He has published two books (Torture Taxi: On the Trail of the CIA's Rendition Flights (Amazon USA and UK) which documents the use by the CIA of modified commercial aircraft for extraordinary rendition; and I Could Tell You But Then You Would Have to be Destroyed by Me (Amazon USA and UK) about the secret world of military imagery and jargon revealed by patches from classified projects) and is currently preparing the third one (Blank Spots on a Map,
Paglen's work is fascinating to say the least. The core question being -
How do we study something that doesn't exist? Something that must stay hidden?"
It's a great question for the now. How do you engage phenomena which are only detectable through the influence they exercise on the visible world? Take some time to read the run down of his projects as the conceptual frameworks are deep and extremely current.

Code Names, 2005 Trevor Paglen
NOYFB. Fabric patch, Ed. of 20, 2006 Trevor Paglen

tip via Kazyz Varnelis

Monday, February 04, 2008

the Obama campaign arts policy

I was unable to attend the Obama event at Mitchell-Innes and Nash over the weekend (begrudging flu everlasting) but a friend sent me the highlights of the Obama Arts Policy. The only candidate even addressing the arts - food for thought there....

For those interested in what was covered at the event, here is the short version of the policy.

Barack Obama's Arts Policy from the '08 campaign:

Our nation's creativity has filled the world's libraries, museums, recital halls, movie houses, and marketplaces with works of genius. The arts embody the American spirit of self-definition. As the author of two best-selling books, Dreams from My Father and The Audacity of Hope, Barack Obama uniquely appreciates the role and value of creative expression.

Reinvest in Arts Education: To remain competitive in the global economy, America needs to reinvigorate the kind of creativity and innovation that has made this country great. To do so, we must nourish our children's creative skills. In addition to giving our children the science and math skills they need to compete in the new global context, we should also encourage the ability to think creatively that comes from a meaningful arts education. Unfortunately, many school districts are cutting instructional time for art and music education. Barack Obama believes that the arts should be a central part of effective teaching and learning. The Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts recently said. The purpose of arts education is not to produce more artists, though that is a byproduct. The real purpose of arts education is to create complete human beings capable of leading successful and productive lives in a free society. To support greater arts education, Obama will:

Support Increased Funding for the NEA:
Over the last 15 years, government funding for the National Endowment for the Arts has been slashed from $175 million annually in 1992 to $125 million today. Barack Obama supports increased funding for the NEA, the support of which enriches schools and neighborhoods all across the nation and helps to promote the economic development of countless communities.

Ensure Tax Fairness for Artists:
Barack Obama supports the Artist-Museum Partnership Act, introduced by Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT). The Act amends the Internal Revenue Code to allow artists to deduct the fair market value of their work, rather than just the costs of the materials, when they make charitable contributions.

Provide Health Care to Artists:
Finding affordable health coverage has often been one of the most vexing obstacles for artists and those in the creative community. Since many artists work independently or have nontraditional employment relationships, employer-based coverage is unavailable and individual policies are financially out of reach. Barack Obama's plan will provide all Americans with quality, affordable health care. His plan includes the creation of a new public program that will allow individuals and small businesses to buy affordable health care similar to that available to federal employees. His plan also creates a National Health Insurance Exchange to reform the private insurance market and allow Americans to enroll in participating private plans, which would have to provide comprehensive benefits, issue every applicant a policy, and charge fair and stable premiums. For those who still cannot afford coverage, the government will provide a subsidy. His health plan will lower costs for the typical American family by up to $2,500 per year.

Create an Artist Corps:
Barack Obama supports the creation of an Artists Corps of young artists trained to work in low-income schools and their communities. Studies in Chicago have demonstrated that test scores improved faster for students enrolled in low-income schools that link arts across the curriculum than scores for students in schools lacking such programs.
More detailed information can be found here: - - with "Arts Policy" in the subject line.

Friday, February 01, 2008

NY Artworld votes (?)

I just received this and it looks like a great opportunity.

On February 5, we have a chance to make history.
In New York, delegates are divided among the candidates
based on how many votes they get -- make your vote count!

Hosted by Lucy Mitchell-Innes, with the support of Jerry Saltz
(Jerry is unable to attend, but will be here in spirit)

Peter Schjeldahl, Art Critic, The New Yorker
Matthew Ritchie, Artist
Laura Hoptman, Senior Curator, The New Museum
Jacqueline Esposito, Political Outreach Director, NY Obama for America
and others

The New York Art World VOTES
Saturday, February 2, 4-6 pm
Mitchell-Innes & Nash
534 West 26th Street
Click here to RSVP

spiral jetty update

According to Winkleman the deadline to take action in protecting Spiral Jetty has been extended. Which is great news.

This just in from the Utah governor's office: The comment period about the Spiral Jetty-impacting energy development has been extended to Feb. 13. For more information from the state of Utah, click here. For more information on how to comment, click here.

UPDATE: The Seattle P-I's Regina Hackett says that the state of Utah has already received 1,000 comments, and that those comments have alerted them to the importance of the Jetty. "I think they were impressed to be taking calls from Europe and Japan about an artwork in Utah," the acting director of the Salt Lake City Art Center, Leslie Peterson, told Hackett.

Don't almost do something here! Take Action Today! Here, I'll make it easier for you [from Tyler]:
If you want to send a letter of protest to save the beautiful, natural Utah environment around the Spiral Jetty from oil drilling, the emails or calls of protest go to Jonathan Jemming 801-537-9023

Please refer to Application # 8853. Every letter makes a big difference, they do take a lot of notice and know that publicity may follow. Since the Spiral Jetty has global significance, emails from foreign countries would be of special value.