Sunday, September 27, 2015

Monday, September 21, 2015

Sins of the Assholes

This is so painful to have to dredge up, but in the thirteenth century, one of my fore-cousins invented Dutch elm rot.  He did it on purpose, because his tulips had been snubbed by the aristocracy.  I don't condone what Lucius Vanderjerker did, but wood is thicker than bark.  I have to defend cousin Lucius.

There was a system in place that forbade non-Dutch residents from sending tulip bulbs to the Royal Hotshitfucking  Flowers Symposium.   The symposium operated in secret, while it relied upon a network of clueless useful idiots to do the work of a jail house rat.  Informants were rewarded with praise for reporting all posey insurgents.

Lucius Vanderjerker came to Holland in steerage.  He was ambitious.  Hungry.  And mad as a magic mushroom muncher.  Some of that madness was expended upon his mission to breed the most wonderful fucking tulips any Dutch asshole ever fucking saw.  Like too many migrating hopefuls, he was reported to the Royal Hotshitfucking Flowers Symposium.  He was promptly black balled. The tulip bulbs he had been Fed-Exing to them, year after year, were either discarded or stolen.  How is a prick like Lucius going to prove he was being plagiarized?  He wasn't being recognized as a breeder of Tulips.  Only a winky little circle of creeps were allowed that honor.  The aristocrats. Those preening human Christmas bulbs on an aluminum tree screwed together from privilege.  No tulips are pretty enough to dazzle away the injustice.

And so Lucius Vanderjerker threw his flower bulbs in a chamber pot, and invented elm rot.  It's shameful to know he was a relative.  No one since Lucius has done anything that shitty.  Holy shit, I hope people will understand that this shit happens in the best of families.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Memories, Like A Vortex Down The Crapper

Vitriolic old cuss that this fellow can be, some old grudges are less reviled than others, and there are even unpleasant experiences that should be carefully preserved, stored in a red velvet lined cedar chest, to keep the moths from eating them.  I was, one year in the early 1990s, relegated to underdog status at a poetry reading workshop.  Like it was football, this grudge is best explained in play by play form.

Firstly, this very marginally known poet read his scribbles, per procedure, at the workshop.  The circle of participants responded just swell to my first reading, and to my second reading, the next week, and the main honcho, a fine and defensive soul, expressed most positive regard for my stuff.  Twas the third reading, a week forward, that some gentle souls were pulling out the hardware.  Someone in the group objected to my work, and, I think he also objected to my entirety.  Seems I didn't measure up to this person's dearest of calibrations.

He made a speech, in response to my third reading.  First establishing that he was a working practitioner of some type of hot, happening therapy, he advanced his agenda by stating that all art is therapy.  He didn't go so far as spell it out, but I got the hot encircled logo at the end of the branding iron.  He and his favorites were therapeutic.  Their poems were therapeutic.  And  a freshly smoking mark on my flanks was indicating that I was not therapeutic.  My poems contributed nothing to the war on dysfunction.  Not one suffering victim of social injustice could possibly achieve liberation by way of the shit I had been typing on paper.  My accuser was a therapist, and I was a lousy little prick.

The therapy movement was prominent at the time.  It was and stilll is a business. And an agenda.  A sometimes overly aggressive, sometimes intrusive, often emotionally manipulative agenda. In the example above, a person was polarizing both poetry and the writers, and at the same time, relegating the medium to a singular, perhaps unwanted, purpose.  I don't refute that art has therapeutic value, but that does not mean a therapist's poems are automatically better than mine.   The dude was trying to lock in his position in the cultural community, and  to lock other artists out.  And I got the scarlet letter for being of no use to people who all need therapy.

I am fishing this old memory out of  the illusory tar pits that best describe humanity at it's snottiest. My experience  is exemplary of an annoying, lingering problem:  The use of social agendas for personal gain.  The therapy movement was a witch hunt.  And a cash machine.  And a fountain of leveraged social status.  He was doing important meaningful work, and I'm a jack off.  But I'm not.  He was being a jack off.  I'm not really all that pissed about it,  but one of my agendas is to resist the misuse of social agendas.  It's a globalized big pain in the ass.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

For Bigger, For Smaller

In the 1980s it became fashionable to produce, show or purchase the largest paintings possible.  The scale of the art object indicates the scale of the individual.   Americans are great, and are entitled to the outward appearance of it.  At the time, the government was busy proving that one penniless fool is worth a fortune in justice and well being, while the gurus of the day were adamant that an artist has greater significance than people not owning comparable talents.  It was the origin of Richard Florida's book, The Rise of the Creative Classes.   The human condition advanced in technology enough to let stray thoughts materialize as valuable goods and services.  Size communicates something or other, independent of the image on the canvass.  This letter is all about the significance of being small.

Since the 1980s, there has been a shit storm in corporate downsizing.  Also, declining standards of living.  A formerly plush middle class devolved into a debt ridden, anti-depressant popping one.  Private support for the arts went swirly down the the shit pipe, while the rise of non-profit culture has mechanized and burocratized the humanities.  Sparing more polemics, little people like myself have been reduced to making small art objects, sparing expense commensurate with being a dirt poor peon. And I'm fine with this long-passing turn of culture.  Yet I swear a lot.  They say the 'Burgh is the most livable city.   It isn't the most enlivening one.  But it's a good place to be small.

Great Balls of Kitch

He wheels his wheel barrow on streets kinked and narrow.   It's a barrow of kitch purchased at the Westview Dollar Tree Store.  Among the items, an injection molded zebra,  shoulder high to a guinea pig, is volunteering to explain it's role in some fellow's mixed media project.   Quotes the plastic zebra, she is being incorporated into a symbol system borrowed from a spectrum of systems known to a boat load of civilizations.

The symbol system the zebra is helping out with is a personal one, and is at the same time derivative from art history classes someone or other took a long time a ago. Her meaning, within the project, is as plastic as she is, but it is being specified that objects purchased at a dollar store are more emblematic of the times than a Ming vase, because silly folks who ride the bus to Westview can't afford one, and don't know any one who  has one.  No one is currently manufacturing Ming vases, Stadaravi fiddles or renaissance paintings.   Anyone at all can paint his/her heart out, but this ain't the Italian Rennaissance.  The vitality of easel painting has been under criticism for decades as being an unnecessary art form.  There was a gent name of Carl Andre who pops up in this bag of spectrums.

Andre made his name as sculptor for his piles of common red bricks, such as streets and houses are made of.   The piles took no form except the shape of  randomly placed  bricks.  No attempt was made on Carl's part to make the bricks do anything out of the ordinary.  Critics praised the work for it's attack against commonly held perceptions and for it's contribution to an expanding definition of art.  There was an element of excitement in defining a pile of bricks as a sculpture, requiring no skill to construct, and holding high monetary value.  There's two reason's alone to grant the work status as art:  excitement, thus sensuality, and an exorbitant price for road bricks.   There are other tests of validity, but a shoe box of cash is  a fair indicator, too.   Carl Andre asserted his humanity by defining art and by capitalizing on so doing.  An instructor at the old state college said that Carl Andre was the father of a movement that state's "It's art because I said so."

Jolly wide thanks to Carl Andre.  The zebra and her companions are being called art.  The symbol system, at it's cheesiest, is allegorical, with toy animals observing an event or expressing human thoughts.  The system includes six inch tall action figures, and some eleven inch plastic dolls all named 'Fashion Doll.'  There's a theme or two worth ralfing up, such a Humankind's relationship to nature or to society.  Also, the theme of ritual.  Folks have been performing them for ages, suggesting an organic human tendency.  They do it, why can't everyone, and why can't people hatch their own ones?  And for one last point, someone out there has been harping to the effect that everything can be placed in a supply/demand model, here the demand for mysticism.  It is an artist's job to supply the demand for myticism.  The plastic animals and dolls are play acting at the supernatural, here symbolized by the use of fire.  

 Twas professed in a few of those classes some opinions still crouched in the afore mentioned barrow. An individual can assert artistic judgement in the manner of his/her choosing.  Advancing technology means less of this and a faster way of producing that.  An artist doesn't have to sculpt a plastic zebra when it is so much easier to buy one at the Westview Dollar Tree store.  And it is the ability to think and to communicate that matters most.  As well as to teach and entertain.  We can go water skiing in the ocean of kitch.  It's a great time to be just about anyone.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

The Curse of the Levine

I did, indeedy, destroy an acoustic guitar.  On purpose.   I hung it from a dead oak tree and flung hatchets at it till it said 'uncle.'   In no way an obligation, to a small degree a pleasure, listing towards a puny imperative, I must explain why I did it behind the house,here in Poison Ivy Meadows.

  That guitar, with it's failing abilities to remain in tune, had come into my life by way of a weakened, canted, rotting  basement entrance.  It saw in me a weak point, and took advantage.  It came to me as if it was a volunteering friend, a kitten that was at once in both need and love, which is, in emotional terms, the very basement entrance  through which assholes and bad music arrive.

A musical marriage was bonded one capricious day.  It was $19.99, marked the whole way down, like a public hanging.  It was the last Adam Levine guitar sold in the Westview, Pennsylvania Kmart.   Musical instruments had been completely discontinued, though Adam's line of fashion merchandise is still graciously sold at that dreamland Kmart.  I bought an Adam Levine bomber jacket, at one of so many big box rummage sales,  a sassy off-shoot of the too famous Members Only bomber jacket of the post-disco era.  I lived through it.  Many didn't.

 I bought the guitar on a whim, without evening looking at it.  It was in a plain brown box, just over waist tall, like a casket for a kid.  Lugging it home by bus was humbling.   Comments were made, ranging from, "Them's good guitars," to "White people are capitalizing on everything."   But it seemed impossible, at that price, for anything really, really bad to happen as a result of it.    I can afford to lose $20.  And after a few days of monkeying with the ax, it was in tune, resting in the corner, sounding rather good when plucked.   Like a harp in Hell.

The thing showed promise, but is a cheap guitar.  It doesn't rate, and it recorded atrociously.  But for several years, I was content to wang out folk songs, like I always do, though at one point resolving to never record with the awful guitar.     And then I saw Adam Levine on television.   It was as if a mile long Electrolux vucuum cleaner hose was sucking the marrow out of the Earth.  I felt fatter, yet lighter, from watching Adam coach a young woman in the art of pop singing.  It was icky, horribly, horribly icky.   Icky to such a degree, that I felt worse than I already did about the guitar.  I know what good sound is, and good musicianship, and I have to live with being somewhere under par.   Damn it.  I don't need to be reminded, further, by a guitar filled with globalized domination, or the subjugation of the the human spirit.   There are more reasons why the guitar was fastened to a dead oak tree, like a Scottish King from the olden days, when people weren't so consumately chicken shit.

I came upon slab of history worth repeating, like a good cuss word.  Centuries ago, in Scottland, there was a custom.  Once their king got too feeble to run things, he got tied to a tree and stabbed to death, in a gruesome, ceremonious manner.  Part of the beauty of it is that to be a king, a fellow had to appreciate that this would happen to him eventually.   I believe this was a practical deterrent to so many character defects of the type that make modern US a wee bit of a shit hole.   The Scotts were on to something, as relates to the Adam Levine acoustic guitar that bought the farm a few weeks ago, here in Poison Ivy Meadows.

It's a lesson in adversity.  If everyone and everything faced stiff consequences for fucking up, there would be less fucking up.   The Adam Levine Guitar won't fuck up another one of my recordings.  And I got some pent up anger out of my system.  Happier, I am of better service to human kind.  And a curse has been lifted. I think.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Another Frigging Credo

Don't mean to be a Dogmatic Dick, and I have broached this matter before, but the house philosophy bumps loudly on the nature of entertainment.  It is highly influential.  More so, sadly, than a really good critical study in a low circulation lit mag.  People are more responsive to sitcoms than to sermons.

The new emphasis is because of the relatively new police state.  And because of the less than limber condition of American free speech.  The scarcity of mass media sources is goofy compared to the billions of people with almost no where with all to be heard.  Or aided.   The masses have never been more prime for mass enslavement.   But the drama aside, it is hard for ordinary people to effect change in government.    The best hope is in producing entertainment, such as The Not-Too-Social Hour.

Thursday, September 3, 2015