Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Cultural Rewind!

With the passing of Leonard Nimoy, we have to agree that we have moved on to a galaxy far, far away. How far, is the question. As one generation ages out of significance, the review of vintage content is put in a different context. We now call it time travel, euphemistically. How quaint! We used to call it history. See my pic of Mr. Shatner from an iconic Twilight Zone episode a few posts ago to illustrate something or other. I cannot remember what but the crew of the Enterprise is never far from my mind. Oddly enough, it endears me to a new brand of young nerds. You have no idea how happy this makes me to be embraced by youthful people who discover their legacy of trivia. You are all my children now! I used to say this to my students in art history class. Is that creepy? Oh, well. They loved seeing the 300 as an example of Greek Art. That was about as close as they were gonna get! The academics in my department weren't convinced. Oh, well. I did explain to my students that the Persians were not all transvestites that rode rhinos. Does it matter? Perhaps, it does. Alexander the Great would definetly be opposed to Iran getting the Bomb.

Monday, February 16, 2015


In the cultural critic game, it takes one to know one. Richard Florida's popularization of the "Creative Class" has been a part of my own discussions about artists' survival in urban environments. He has done well as an author and pundit. I'm not sure what state he lives in. Now writer, Scott Timburg is following on Florida's coattails with his new book, Culture Crash. Notice the similarity in the cover designs!

This is my response to a review in the Wall Street Journal which I read in a sofa chair while smoking a pipe and viewing bird life in the garden. Timburg starts his tale with his being let go as a journalist. This adds a sour note to our cheery notion of creative types working away in little business enriching communities. His term "content serfs" rang especially in my brain. That translates into working for free. Everybody may want content but they want lame content. Philadelphia (like many other places) is ground zero for this sort of activity. My point has always been that all creative jobs and crafty pursuits (ever expanding to include beer, knitting & scrapbooking) get confused with actual contemporary art which has a bad rep already. I will get back to you after I read the book. This artist/writer will order a copy at the local library. This takes time but it is how I interact with the creative community and make use of city services.

Monday, January 26, 2015


Seahawks vs. Patriots? Who cares? But the inflated media coverage of shrinking balls is hysterical. I have heard steroid use can cause that also. Could there be better fodder for late night TV and stand-up routines? "Man walked into a bar and ordered a stiff drink. The bartender brought him a pint of Hop Viagra with hint of citrus." Ba-boom. Must have been happy hour! Anybody can write these jokes. I charge 25 bucks a pop. It goes to PAYPAL.

The Oscars and the Super Bowl? Money, ego and hyperbole. I am getting confused as we speak. PSI of footballs is possibly a great example of shrinking weight of news coverage or do I mean the twenty-four-seven tide of meaningless content. Some of it connects to facts on the ground but it is up to the distracted consumer/viewer to garner importance of each tid-bit. Are they up to it? My personal strategy is to use news boycott. That is what Netflix is for. So let us retire the overused moron-gatedness. Sloppy slang is for losers.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

The Lost Chalice?

I've recently read The Stolen Chalice by Kitty Pilgrim. former CNN correspondent. She is no Dan Brown! I was looking forward to a standard page turner, full of rugged archaeologists, Templars and Masons. There is a another book called The Lost Chalice, by Vernon Silver which is one of those books. Perhaps, I should review that instead? I have decided to make a short study of the fake science of these books versus the study of actual art history. They are easily dismissed but there is an interesting overlap. It is intriguing to see half-truth delivered in TV shows like Myth Hunters, Myth Busters and Secrets of the Dead on PBS. The difference between real fact and fiction hang on small pieces of spoken text or unfortunate edits leaving huge questions. Usually like: where is the source of the research? Having asked this question, I still enjoy disentangling partial-truths because our culture seems to be largely based on them. These historical books and programs usually stop just shy of aliens and neo-x-files. And they use any excuse to stick in Nazis. This may be why Pilgrim's tale (full of identical, shapely women and dull, broad shouldered guys) is popular and such a drag.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

One Hundred Days to the Day!

I've spent most of 2014 thinking about and studying 1914 and I believe my approach to 2015 will be much the same. There is no end to the "firsts" that occurred one hundred years ago, day after day. First bombing of a city by airship! Wow. It makes 2014 look lame. All the inflated discussion of social media, drones and phones. It it all so self-oriented. That said, I believe that my study in a convenient one hundred old year framework is illuminating and sheds light on where we are now. Does it sometimes appear to be nowhere at all? Paradigm-less you could say. The year ended with a perfect example as a communist nation felt threatened by a Hollywood movie. True, The Interview had some negative propaganda for North Korea, but it was not a threat! Those movies are more threat to our intelligence than anything else. Cuba would never react so if Castro or his brother were depicted as weirdos. He would probably chuckle or choke on his cigar. God bless him.

Thursday, December 4, 2014


 It is hard to imagine no comments to my last piece picturing Barbara Kruger's appropriation of a picture of Adolf Hitler. Not even a criticism? That really hurts. It is as if Post Modernism never occured. Most people may call it the Culture Wars to simplify the era and avoid the topic.

You may wonder what an illustration of the Bismark has to do with this. I have included this picture because it is a representation of the Bismark from a movie from 1960. As opposed to an actual picture of the notorious ship itself. I always loved the way oceans were depicted with ship models in movies. It was not easy to do then, pre-CG.

When I posted this same pic on Facebook, there were very few comments. Is the Bismark not interesting? What's wrong with people? They are so boring.

Monday, November 3, 2014

No Man is a Curatorial Island

There’s been a lot of confounding diatribes in the news these days and I wouldn’t touch them for fear of being labeled an Islamophobe by Hollywood persons. A safer controversy is to do with a new book on how real art curators have been neutered by our curatorial culture. What occurs to me (within my limited purview in discussing our culture, national and world) is that this may be an illusion blown out of proportion. What gives me this privilege? I have an MFA. So there! If artist, Barbara Kruger can go on intelligent, BBC talk shows and discuss art –– I can too. Well, she didn’t really talk about art so much as where the art world is now as opposed to her heyday in the Eighties and Nineties. She did mention her favorite typeface, Futura Condensed Italic. Her encapsulization of the new-money enriched art world, she didn’t want to talk about. Don’t bite the hand that feeds? Isn’t that one of her text pieces? What felt odd about her performance (aside avoiding a gritty discussion of her work) was that she admitted casually that all art is now outside consideration by anyone but elites. How can this be? I thought she was of the school that skewered the “genius” and “patriarchal” myths. She admitted that her cultural surveys are mostly pop cultural. So why are her comments any better than mine or yours? Is it because we are trained in deconstruction and (though we aren’t allowed to admit it) we see the world more clearly than CNN and butch guys in baseball caps driving Dodge Rams.
We should treasure the outdated focus of art and criticism (where oranges are in another basket than lemons) because without the scrutiny every ninny with a smart phone is a so-called encyclopedia and curator. That isn’t much of a claim I know, but still any overview about art (with a big-A) is important, especially at dinner parties. Perhaps, there is a sleight of hand in the way our technology gives us the belief that we are all current, up to date and full of progressive ideas and understanding. Of course, I disagree. We are college educated, middle class people who have no status anymore – I can hear the echoes of Islamophobism heading my way – and this troubles me. This distinguishes us from others who work for a living instead of scribbling flippant, on-line essays! Yet, artists aren’t the only ones who imagine being “un-plugged” or “off the grid.” There are loads of philosophical crazies planning to survive after the balloon goes up, whatever that balloon may be. There are lots of TV shows about it. It makes people nervous but I am not bothered. No one can track me down except the NSA and they couldn’t care less.