August 1, 2014

V. A. bill MIA?

Filed under: Commentary — Tags: , , , — Bob Patterson @ 12:37 pm

crop of Gatz




Gatz Are

crop of Broke


Broke Art

The rivalry between two of Berkeley’s top graffiti artists, Broke and Gatz, might, at first, not sound like a topic worthy for consideration. People would be very disparaging regarding an attempt by the World’s Laziest Journalist to chronicle that aspect of obscure pop culture. What if they learned that he was working on assignment for the New Yorker magazine? According to an urban legend, there are more subscribers to New Yorker magazine who live in Berkeley than there are on Staten Island. It could happen, just like a bill to help the Veterans could have been passed before the summer recess.

Suppose that a prestigious New York art gallery were to feature a show with work done by Broke; how long would it be before one of their rivals was holding an opening night gala reception for Gatz?

An exhibition titled “Nite Owl the Pursuit of Slappiness,” will open in Oakland on August 1st.

Eventually some New York based publication will be open to the possibility of using a story that outlines what slap art is, who is doing it, and running photos that show examples of the work being created. Editors are voracious in their search for new and interesting topics but they don’t want to be too innovative either.

If the Republicans are successful in the fall mid-term elections and get a better chance to impeach and convict President Obama does that mean that Joe Biden would then have the incumbent’s advantage for getting the Democratic Party’s nomination in 2016 and that metaphorically speaking Hilary would be “left at the alter” lamenting her bad luck?

In an era when news is a pastiche of headlines and little else, repercussions of a new Impeachment story are mostly ignored.

Since the dog days are upon us and since we try to pick up the table scraps stories that don’t fit into the austerity budget methods being used by the national media, we’ll mention a few of the missing long term effects impeachment would have on the United States.

If the Republicans win a majority in the Senate they could start impeachement proceedings with blitzkrieg speed. If the Republicans rush through the process (think lynch mob speed); then what? The President would be removed from office and the Vice President would be sworn in to be President until the 2016 Presidential Election.

If Joseph Biden becomes President via such a partisan political scenario, then his prospects to get the nomination would change dramatically. A sitting President can deal out some favors and in return get some strong support at the next nominating convention. Hilary could lose her frontrunner advantage.

A sitting President operating from the Oval Office would have some built-in advantages as far a publicity is concerned and editors would be courted for giving favorable play to stories that stress the President’s selling points for winning re-election.

Could the Republicans be so anxious to deal out a sever punishment to America’s first President of African-American heritage that they might not be bothered to be concerned with the long term effects such a move would have on the future biographies of Joseph Biden that are yet to be written.

It seems quite likely that Hilary and her political advisors are aware of just how much of an impact on her decision about running (or not) for President an impeachment would have. It would be to her advantage to surreptitiously do what she can to sabotage any attempts to impeach President Obama.

Now, suddenly, innocuous trend-spotting feature stories become more than fodder for the dog days of August. Would Hilary & Co. be inclined to stress the amusement value of a Broke vs. Gatz story for a magazine editor in Manhattan rather than something which might jeopardize her frontrunner advantage?

On Friday, July 29, 2014, we had our fist encounter with the Rachael Maddow TV show on MSNBC. We were delighted (but not surprised) to learn that due to the Republican sit down strike in Congress, a quarter of all U. S. Embassies around the world are operating without an Ambassador. When we did a Google News search on Monday afternoon, we learned that the Korea Times ran a story with that same bit of news.

She also predicted that it seemed very likely to her that Congress would go on its summer vacation and not send a bill to the President for improving the medical services provided for military veterans.

If Rachael Maddow can report those two stories and the backup she gets is from the likes of the World’s Laziest Journalist, would it be “Elementary, my dear Watson,” to conclude that journalism in the USA is approaching flat lining status?

Perhaps the staff at the World’s Laziest Journalist New Organization is monitoring the wrong media, but it seems like, in the summer of 2014, an alarming case of “not connecting the dots” is occurring in the journalism arena in the USA.

As the world headed toward the start of August 2014, in the USA, news media started the week with stories indicating that a compromise between Republicans and Democrats was being crafted and that a bill to improve the health care provided for military veterans would be sent to the President by the end of the week. Cynics were expecting that some minor “parliamentary procedure” would be used to derail that expenditure of funds.

The Republicans were quick to rush to the TV cameras to provide eloquent sound bites that urged support for America’s wounded heroes but then they sit around like they are participating in a sit down strike and waste time until it’s time to vamoose for the summer recess.

Didn’t Bessie Smith die because she couldn’t get to a hospital that treated people of African-American heritage? How will the rednecks react if the same thing happens to a Medal of Honor winner this summer?

Many moons ago, when veterans held a sit-in in the lobby of the Veterans Hospital in West L. A., we mentored a young college kid majoring in photo journalism and helped him cover that story. When the police finally came and carried the vets away, the young man provided AP with coverage that got good play.

If the Veterans start a new Occupy the Lobby protest at that hospital, maybe that photographer can provide some assistance to a rookie and help a new generation of photographers get a break.

There’s and old saying that asserts things never change. We’re beginning to believe that might be so.

Isn’t there an adage that says don’t tell me what you’re going to do; show me what you do? Actions speak louder than words but sound bytes on the Evening News help bamboozle the rubes and win re-election campaigns. If the Getty and Armstrong radio show wasn’t running on “Best of” status this week, you can bet they would have been urging Congress to do something . . . but they were so they didn’t.

In “The Armies of the Night,” Norman Mailer wrote (on page 54): “Either the century was entrenching itself more deeply into the absurd, or the absurd was delivering evidence that it was possessed of some of the nutritive mysteries of a mirror which would yet feed the armies of he absurd.” (WTF?)

Now the disk jockey will play some songs for the veterans who are anxiously awaiting the chance to donate to the re-election campaign of their local Congressman. He will play: the 1939 song “Old Age Pension,” for those who die before they can get the medical services the Republicans wanted to approve, the WWII song “Smoke on the Water” (not to be confused with a different recording using the same title done by Deep Purple), and the obscure (of course it’s obscure it uses Liberal talking points!) Arlene Harden recording titled: “Congratulations (You Sure Made a Man Out of Him)” and plenty more. He’ll do a grand finale finish by playing Johnny Cash’s “Man in Black” (“I wear the black for mournin’ for the lives that could have been”). We have to get to the art opening in Oakland tonight. Have an “adjourned for the month of August” type week.

June 13, 2011

Trend spotting in the Art World

Filed under: Guest Comment — Tags: , , , — Bob Patterson @ 12:25 pm


If the assignment editor for the Features Department of the New York Times newspaper just happens to read this column he may be very glad that he did if he gets a “heads-up” about an art story that he can assign, but what about everybody else in the world with access to the Internets? Is it possible that a citizen-columnist might be the first writer to notice a story that is that good? Or is it more likely that people will be very amused by the opportunity of seeing a self-deluded fool in action? Isn’t that the very same reason why the news coverage (such as it is) of the Republican efforts to get their party’s 2012 Presidential Nomination is so fascinating? Don’t those folks realize that JEB has a lock on it?

Columnists, much like journalists, are trained to turn on their cultural radar the moment they wake up and keep it scanning the contemporary scene until they drift off to sleep that night.

Were the college kids on KALX the first to play a trend setting song of the future on this morning’s program? Did a local Berkeley CA web site break a story that will resonate with all the young people staying at the Sydney Central Backpackers Hostel? Would it be worth the effort to buy a brand new book at Moe’s Bookstore, read it, and then review it for the entire world?

Is it possible that a columnist could visit the used bookstore run by friends of the Berkeley Public Library and find some new (and shocking?) information about the Bush Junta in a book by Laura Flanders (Bushwomen Vero hardback) that was published outside the United States (in the American colony called London?) in 2004? Isn’t Bush-bashing out of date? Isn’t it too early now to be of relevance to the next installment in the saga of the Bush Dynasty?

Suppose that a columnist notices what seems to be a local trend in graffiti?

Artists in California have tended in the past to be at the vanguard of new national fads in many areas of contemporary American culturd. Aren’t most of the journalists in Cali, who work for a nationally known media headquartered in Manhattan, especially keen to find a trend-spotting story? (and thus get an “attaboy” from the home office?)

After purchasing a Nikon Coolpix digital camera, about a year ago, we were anxious to try out the close up setting and so we began to notice small examples of graffiti in the form of stickers affixed to inconspicuous locations around Berkeley, Oakland, and San Francisco. Since this columnist isn’t well versed in botany, and since flowers tend to vibrate in the wind, and since stickers don’t; we began to concentrate more on collecting images of the stickers.

Some seemed to be mug shots of John Wayne Gaycie. Was that a subtle political statement? Are capitalists eating the poor? Is it a call to action? Is it an expression of a bit of sarcasm?

One day, we noticed one particular example of this subcategory of graffiti that had been created on what had been a post office address label that was (in haste?) rather poorly stuck on an abandoned newspaper dispenser box. We carefully removed the fresh example of folk art and took it back to the World’s Laziest Journalist news organization headquarters. If these labels are hard to scrape off their location, does that mean that original examples are desirable collectables? Who collects them? How do they acquire them?

We went to Fantastic Comics, in Berkeley CA, and 1 AM art gallery in San Francisco in an effort to track down more facts about this art trend. The more we learned, the bigger the topic seemed to become. While we were out and about trying to tack down the story, we were missing time when we could have been dispensing opinions online about some recent high profile celebrity sexual escapades such as the Ricky Nixon and St. Kilda schoolgirl scandal. (Do a search on Google News for that exoteric bit of Australian celebrity gossip.)

We learned that the use of quickly applied pre-made examples of graffiti is called “slap art” or “sticker bombing.”

Painting a mural sized graffiti painting takes time; slapping a label on a hard surface, doesn’t.

Using spray paint cans to create graffiti can mean some sever problems if the artists are caught en flagrante delicto and their artistic efforts are construed as constituting vandalism. There can be major problems with any offense involving the spray can school of graffiti art. The legal penalties for putting up slap art are not (we are told) as stringent.
You do the math.

Several more time consuming attempts to gather more information, such as trying to get contact information about the leading practitioners of slap art, only produced enough of a feint trail to indicate that it would take a lot more work to get an interview with either Broke or Euro. (You want to talk to Banksy? Fergedaboudit.) Since graffiti artist don’t often seek publicity in the pages of People magazine, that reluctance is precisely what would make a story in the Sunday editon of the New York Times so appealing to the aforementioned assignment editor.

Obviously being out in the sunshine and fresh air (what ever happened to the news coverage of the readings for nuclear fall-out downwind from the disaster in Japan?) is preferable to sitting in a dingy writer’s hovel at a computer pounding out some sarcastic snarky remarks about the teabaggers’ (wet) dream ticket of Palin-Bachman for the Republicans in 2012 (where would the lefties be with regard to gender equality and that pair?).

[Would it be shameless bragging to repeat the anecdote about the time the guy who would become Time magazine’s White House correspondent entered my apartment in Marina del Rey and exclaimed: “My god, Bob, it is a hovel!”?]

Isn’t a unique individual initiative story with some trend spotting in Art, much more commendable than an anemic example of me too-ism wolf-pack punditry?

What if an online columnist combined into one story all this information: Congress is considering giving the President the power to declare war, a recent article by Semour Hersh in the New Yorker magazine suggesting that some intelligence agencies are cherry picking information that will indicate that Iran’s nuclar program is a threat to the USA, and Brad Friedman’s continuing efforts to undermine his audience’s confidence in the reliability of the electronic voting machines?

What if such a hypothetical endeavor ultimately became a remarkably accurate forecast about JEB’s role in the Story of the Bush Dynasty in American History? If that happened, wouldn’t the lone but perceptive pundit ultimately get many main stream media employment offers?

Berkeley CA has a large much respected school of journalism, so it isn’t surprising to find a wide assortment of used books for sale that offer an insider’s close up look at the collapse of America’s free press. How could there be that many books offering that idea while America is lulled into a false sense of being well informed by a tsunami of Fox Political Propaganda?

Has Journalism disintegrated into a farce where obedience to the political policy of the corporate masters is more important than “truth, Justice and the American way”? Don’t the corporate owners prefer an obedient worker who will unquestioningly follow orders rather than a high maintenance rogue who gets it right? Ostracism to the Internets’ Siberia is its own reward? What does that mean?

Andy Rooney, who is best known for his commentary on CBS TV’s Sixty Minutes program, has been quoted (Masters of the Air by Donald L. Miller Simon & Schuster hardback page 121) as saying: “the worst kind of censorship has always been the kind that newspaper people impose on themselves.”

Now, the disk jockey will play “Stuck on you,” the Drop-kick Murphy hit “Fuck you – I’m drunk” (did that get a lot of airplay?) and the unreleased music project known as the Rolling Stones’ contractual obligation album.

We have to go do some fact finding about the rumor that Banksy is teaching economics classes at a well known institution of higher learning in the San Francisco bay area. Have a “know when to run, know when to freeze” type week.

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