January 31, 2005

Theo van Gogh Calls On Mohammed Bouyeri

theosface.jpg
Theo van Gogh, ca. August 2001.

[I paint an ugly, bloody, true picture here, about Muslims and knives. Be warned.]

by Jerome du Bois

I've killed my Jew. Now I'm ready to go to Paradise. --Adel Boumedienne, murderer of French DJ Sebastian Selam, a half-hour after the crime, covered in blood, still holding the carving knife and fork he used, speaking to his mother, Ramadan, 2003.

The heartless killer not only slit Sylvia [Armanious's] throat, but also sliced a huge gash in her chest and stabbed her in the wrist, where she had a tattoo of a Coptic cross. --News report, below.

Let The Dead Help You. --Rudy Rucker, mathematician and novelist, 1980, White Light.

Here, come look: Near midnight, 30 January 2005. Scheveningen Prison, The Hague.

The ruddy full moon looms like that fat man's face, hovering outside the bars on the window of the hospital cell of Mohammed Bouyeri, 26 years old, murderer of Theo van Gogh, who didn't even make it to 50. There's even a curvy blonde cloud topping the crown of that robust round globe. Bouyeri jerks his head away so quickly he feels a stab of pain from the police-inflicted gunshot wound in his leg. Looking down at the swollen bandage with a scowl, he thinks again, for the thousandth time, that he will never understand the infidels.

He carefully and slowly leans back against the pillow and closes his eyes. He sighs. I wanted to be martyred. Why didn't those stupid cops kill me?

A voice in the middle of the room spoke up. "Because they're good people. I have a better question--"

Bouyeri's eyes flew open. There was nothing there but the geometry of pooling yellow moonlight in the stark white chamber. The voice continued, loud and clear:

"--why didn't you kill yourself before you killed me, you little coward?"

His right hand crushing his beads, Bouyeri's eyes bugged out as the ceiling unzipped with a crimson flare, revealing the evening sky. The black night was split with a golden sword of light that stabbed down to the foot of Bouyeri's hospital cell bed; and the fat moon smiled on the sidelines as an emerald ribbon unwound from the haft of the sword, solidifying into a staircase so glowing deep green it had to be the color of Paradise. It ended at the foot of his hospital cell bed, the emerald staircase fixed over the golden sword. Bouyeri gasped. It was so beautiful, but what about that voice? and what it said? A long pause. Silence. It must have been the moon. The wonderful vision stood there before him as vivid as any dream.

Allah be praised! Could it be --Oh! Oh, no!

For finally, in his own good time, drifting down that green crystal staircase as big as a cloud but as light as a breeze, came Theo van Gogh, his big bare feet just tapping every other step as he descended.

Bouyeri opened his mouth to scream for the guard, but it jammed in his throat. Theo van Gogh settled at the foot of the bed and stood calmly and at ease, breathing visibly, before his petrified Muslim Moroccan murderer.

Clad in white linen trousers, a white t-shirt, and white suspenders, glowing with pink health, looking as clean and pure as the eyelids of morning, Theo van Gogh was consulting what looked like a Blackberry in his left hand. Poking at it with his fat forefinger, he frowned and looked up directly into Bouyeri's face.

"Hey, little man, they just found a goat in France with mad cow disease," he said. "Would that be your mother or your sister?" And he roared with laughter, while Bouyeri could only seethe in silence. After a while van Gogh lifted a placating hand toward Heaven. "Okay, okay, My Friend, I just couldn't resist." Pointing to the handheld computer. "It was on Google News!" And he roared again. "Oh, and hey, you'll love this, B-boy: the Iraqis voted today" --he held up a purple forefinger-- "Sixty-plus percent for democracy! Your crew is toast, little man."

Bouyeri found his voice, and began to pray, his fingers moving on his beads. Theo van Gogh stopping laughing and listened for a moment, his head tilted, then lifted his right hand beside his face, pressed his thumb and forefinger together, and Bouyeri's lips glued shut.

"Umma," he managed to murmur.

"Umma your mamma, you murdering turd. You're here to listen. I'm on a mission. Some down here in this vale of tears want to know: what is it with you Muslims and the ritual slaughter with knives?" He lifted the Blackberry. "So many recent cases. There's no answers, and don't expect to say much tonight, little man, but we need to push the questions: Why do you love the knife so much? Why must you carve them up, just as the psychosexual crazies do? You see --hell, you, you worthless bastard, you ought to know-- using the knife is a crime of passion; it's up close and personal, love turned to hate. But I didn't even know you, and I wouldn't give you a second glance in life, and yet look at what you did!"

Theo van Gogh lifted his t-shirt between the suspenders, and Bouyeri watched as blood blossomed on his swelling, breathing pink chest, two little bullet holes, and then the big knife's haft shot into view on his chest with the sudden shock of its initial stab into it. Finally, the five-page letter stuck to the skin with the little knife. Everything running red. While the tableau held, Theo pointed to the message soaked in blood: "Notice it's in Dutch, because you didn't know much Arabic, didja mujahadeen?" And as he lifted his head to laugh again, the evil red smile of his throat wound appeared, raw crimson ellipse trailing threads of blood. It did not affect his speaking voice.

The blood from the throat wound ran down to join the blood that pulsed up around the hafts of the knives, heartbeat after heartbeat, and spread over the paper, staining the ink into incoherence, and then ran freely down Theo's fat pink torso.

"You shot me," he continued, "but just to put me down --so you could get up close and personal with the knife --for the sacrifice." Theo suddenly started snapping his fingers and rapping:

God said to Abraham, "Kill me your son."
Abe said, "Man, you must be puttin' me on."
God say "No," Abe say, "What?"
God say . . .

Theo trailed off. "I get tired of these theological debates, you know? I was nobody's sacrifice! I had a life!"

Calming down, he gently lowered his shirt, his throat wound healed up, and he became pristinely white again. He lifted his Blackberry. Poking away with his lively finger.

"I've been hanging out with Nick Berg, too," he added. "Nick remembers five saws with that big knife; maybe there were more, but what does it matter after the first? You just love to hear us scream, don't you, little impotent man?"

Bouyeri seethed, face red, squirming and moaning and mumbling, trying to talk around his stuck lips, but that was all he could do, and he soon quieted down. Theo van Gogh continued, scrolling, squinting at the liitle screen.

"Yes, here," he said, with a heavy voice. "The sorrowful story of DJ Sebastien Selam in Paris over a year ago. Seems that--"

"Umma," Bouyeri murmured. Theo van Gogh's head snapped up and he pressed his thumb and forefinger together again, twice. Bouyeri felt as if he had no mouth.

"You will respect this man's death, if only with your silence. Too many people have passed over it already in silence. Especially the mutilation. Just like the Egyptian Coptics in New Jersey. We'll get to them, too. No longer, Bouyeri. The knife is no longer in your hand --it's in the hand of Truth-- and the Truth is going to lay you murderers open like a red canoe.

"Now, listen to Nidra Poller in the New York Sun, two days ago:

"The murder of Sebastien Selam, one of the most popular DJs in France, has been widely ignored. Sebastien lived with his widowed mother in a modest but comfortable low-rent apartment building in the 10th arrondissement, a half hour from the Place de la Republique. In November 2003, during the month of Ramadan, Sebastien was murdered by a neighbor, Adel Boumedienne. The Selams are Jewish, of Algerian origin; the Boumediennes are Muslims from Morocco. Relations between Jews and Muslims in the neighborhood, which had been normal or even cordial, radically deteriorated in the fall of 2000.There were incidents, anti-Semitic graffiti, ominous signs of violent hostility. And yet Sebastien let Adel get into his car as he was going into the underground garage to park. There, Adel slashed Sebastien's throat, almost severing his head, and mutilated his face beyond recognition with a carving fork. The coroner states in his report that he had never seen such severe mutilation in all his decades of practice.

Aside from a brief article filled with factual errors in the tabloid Le Parisien and an equally incompetent article in a Jewish weekly paper, there was hardly any press coverage of the Selam murder. When Israeli photographer Avi Rosen, who was in Paris at the time, heard what happened to the DJ, he immediately recognized the hallmarks of ritual murder. He took photos of the crime scene, interviewed the Selam family, and has stood by them ever since in their almost hopeless efforts to bring the murderer to justice and expose the true nature of the crime not only for the honor of Sebastien, but to warn others of the danger that confronts them.

Adel's mother saw her son take the carving knife and fork from the kitchen; he came back a short time later, covered in blood, and told her, "I've killed my Jew, I can go to paradise." He told the police that he had no remorse, no regrets, because Allah told him to kill Sebastien. They transferred him from the police station to a general hospital and from there to a psychiatric hospital. As of this writing, the Selam family lawyer is playing his last card; he has one last chance to convince the court to open an investigation. If the request is denied, the case will be closed. No investigation, no arrest, no trial. The murderer will some day be released from the mental hospital. The Selam family is sentenced to a life of mourning."

Theo van Gogh paused. Bouyeri lay back in his bed, bound by invisible bonds, his mouth sealed, sentenced to listen. Theo van Gogh, glowing with gold and white eternal light, leaned over Bouyeri's bed, holding the Blackberry close to his vast chest, shaking his head slowly in sorrow. Then his eyes flew open.

"Oh, wait!" he cried. "Maybe it was an aberration! Except--" poking with the finger . . . face falling . . . looking up with tears in his eyes: "What is it with you primitive tribal people? Listen, Muslim believer:

"Chantal Piekolek was murdered in her shoe store in the 17th arrondissement of Paris earlier that same November day [which took the life of Sebastian Selam]. [Ah, Ramadan, Holy Ramadan!] The murderer, a hardened criminal recently released from prison, stabbed her 25 times. He was quickly apprehended and jailed, but died of cancer before he could be put on trial. Piekolek, who was Jewish, was murdered by a Muslim. Did he know she was Jewish? If robbery was the motive, why did he stab her 25 times? The mystery died with him. But one day the press, including the Jewish press, may be asked to explain why they transformed a Jewish divorcee --who had recently taken over a store after her father died-- into the Christian widow of a Jewish husband. Why? Were two Jewish murders in one day during the month of Ramadan too much to bear? Or too much to hide?

Fiction is not divorced from reality, it is the art of bringing reality alive. When journalism strays so far from the truth, skittishly skirts the truth, closes its eyes to the obvious, and invents the preposterous, it encourages the very danger it is trying to avoid."

Bouyeri now had his eyes clenched shut, beads rolling through his fingers, nodding, mumbling, trying to pray, to no avail.

Theo van Gogh added: "Bouyeri, you can run, coward, but you cannot hide. Twenty-five times . . ." He looked out the window as the moonlight made his face glow. "The crescent moon you put on your flags; it's a scimitar. You fixed one phase of the moon and turned it into a weapon. But the whole lesson of the moon is its cycle, swelling and shrinking, unstoppable, light shading into dark and back again; you stunted fools ignored the supple wisdom of that rhythm for the sake of a single narrow purpose: conquest by the blade."

After a moment he added, "Damn, this is thirsty work," and a tall lager glass full of foaming dark beer appeared in his right hand. He quaffed deeply, the glass disappeared. Belching generously, Theo van Gogh leaned far forward, his feet leaving the ground, until he loomed like a little blimp, glowing with white light, over the the scrawny Muslim, eyes gliitering, his chest expanding like bellows. His breath smelled like hops as he spoke into the Moroccan's face: "I'm incomplete, unpredictable, unstoppable: Life. But look at you, pinned like an insect to your ideology: Death.

It's over. I can see it. The psychosis of Islam is doomed." He sighed. "Too bad it'll take a generation for the rest to catch up. Already, I know" --holding up the Blackberry-- "tomorrow they'll announce that Submission won't be shown in Rotterdam."

Bouyeri tried to smile. Theo regarded him calmly.

"Yes, so you win one. Yes, it's going to be a messy, extended ending. And it's jumped the Pond now, too. To a completely innocent New Jersey family."

He floated back from the terrified Bouyeri and once again took his firm stance at the foot of his bed. He read the screen for a long time, scrolling, scrolling, as the the tears, too, scrolled down his face. When he looked up, his eyes were blazing fire.

"If this is your religion, you tiny mind, then Allah is Satan. Listen:

He [Hossam Armanious, a headwaiter] "had the reputation for being one of the most outspoken Egyptian Christians," said the source, who had close ties to the family.

The source, who had knowledge of the investigation, refused to specify the anti-Muslim statement. But he said cops told him they were looking into the exchanges as a possible motive.

The married father of two had recently been threatened by Muslim members of the Web site, said a fellow Copt and store clerk who uses the chat room.

"You'd better stop this bull---- or we are going to track you down like a chicken and kill you," was the threat, said the clerk, who was online at the time and saw the exchange.

But Armanious refused to back down, according to two sources who use the Web site.

Theo added, "Listen to this:

'When we saw the pictures, you could tell that they were hurt really, really bad in the face; especially Sylvia,' said Milad Garas, the high-school sophomore's great-uncle.'"

Theo let a moment of silence pass. Bouyeri seemed paralyzed, his eyes bugging out, but he was still breathing, shallowly. He seemed to have bit his lip; blood drooled from his mouth.

". . . really, really bad in the face." Just like DJ Sebastien, and Chantal Piekolek." Rubbing his face, Theo sighed "I suppose I should thank you for leaving my face alone . . . Obliteration. How dare they be themselves!" he roared suddenly.

Bouyeri scooted back in his bed so fast he seemed blown up against the headboard by an invisible wind. He winced and moaned, but didn't dare move to soothe his burning leg. Through his pain, he noticed something else, between his legs, and his face went red.

"What's that smell?" said Theo, and a freshly lighted cigarette appeared between his generous lips. He inhaled hugely, and when he exhaled the smoke pouring over Bouyeri cleansed his undershorts.

"Control yourself, little man," Theo said sternly. "You did pretty good with me, and the cops, though you're a terrible shot. And even when I begged you --for mercy, to stop, we can talk about it, it's not too late --remember?-- you calmly grabbed my hair, jerked my head back, and cut my throat, so you can damn well control yourself now!" he finished in a roar, which pinned Bouyeri like a moth to the bedstead.

"Just one more thing for tonight. When I first read about the poor Armanious family, I didn't realize there was a story within the story. They were not the first. Because the Armanious family lived in the Jersey City --Hamas West, the Feds call it-- and guess what's there? El Tawheed Islamic Center of Jersey City. And guess what that place spawned? I quote:

"The former imam at the El Tawheed Islamic Center of Jersey City, Alaa Al-Sadawi, was convicted in July 2003 of attempting to smuggle more than $650,000 in cash to the terrorist Global Relief Fund in Egypt in April 2002.

So he's a terrorist crook. What's new? But there's more:

One of Al-Sadawi’s former mosque-goers was convicted last March of murdering in the name of Islam. Alim Hassan, then 31, killed his pregnant wife, her mother, and her sister on July 30, 2002. He reportedly stabbed the women more than 20 times each because they refused to convert to Islam. According to reports, Hassan prayed regularly at El-Tawheed."

Theo van Gogh let his big head droop in a few deep breaths of silence. Bouyeri, eyes wide and dry, was stone.

"Sixty times," Theo murmured presently. His eyes flew open. "That's --damn! the devil Ted Bundy didn't even go that crazy!" Leaning forward again fiercely. "What are you people!" Straightening, shaking the shaggy head. He starts to count: "One . . . two . . . three . . ." And Bouyeri's eyes grew heavy as Theo stepped backward to the green crystal staircase, still counting . . . "twelve . . . thirteen . . ." and turned and floated up and away, rolling up the whole awesome scene with him.

Bouyeri was left with the looming yellow moon. And all across the city, and the country, and the world, the law was finally stirring, its lineaments taking form.

See also Seven Statements For Muslims, Theo Makes His Case, and Theo van Gogh Calls On Yasser Arafat.

Posted by Jerome at 09:51 AM | TrackBack

January 30, 2005

Everybody Counts

purplefinger.jpg

The first day.

(Toby Melville/Reuters) Via INDC Journal.

Posted by Jerome at 03:02 PM | TrackBack

January 28, 2005

FLOWERTOWER III

FLOWERTOWER III

Flower Arrangement and Photography by Catherine King.

Posted by Jerome at 06:31 AM | TrackBack

January 27, 2005

It Didn't Work: Long Live Israel

by Jerome du Bois

Today, the population of Israel is approximately 6,199,000.

Eighty percent of those people are Jews. The growth rate is about 1.3%.

Israel has a 95% literacy rate.

Israel has registered over 7,000 patents with the US, mostly about high-technology and science.

The Saudis, in the meantime, have developed freeze-dried sperm, and the Palestinians continue to refine the human bomb.

May the spirit that drives Israel, the US, and all who love freedom continue into time without boundaries.

Never forget what evil tried to do.

Posted by Jerome at 08:11 AM | TrackBack

January 26, 2005

Everybody Blog

by Jerome du Bois

Not long from now an art dealer, say, a guy from Phoenix, maybe, will be schmoozing some high-roller at a New York City party. After the few minutes the high-roller will excuse himself and go out onto the balcony to smoke a cigar. While puffing, he flips open his cell phone, gets on the Internet, and Googles the art dealer's name. "Uh-huh," he murmurs, puffing and scrolling, scrolling and puffing.

Most of what the high-roller reads is about the art dealer, not by the art dealer. The dealer doesn't manage the public information about himself. Anybody can say whatever they want about him, publish it, and there's only one thing he can do about it: blog.

For all I know, there may be idiots out there on the Internet impersonating me, leaving outrageous comments using my name, our URL, even our email. I haven't got the time or inclination to go scouring the blogs putting out little fires everywhere. My best defense is to show who I am, to manage my public profile.

The Tears of Things takes certain positions, we make clear what we believe, promote, and stand for. Any impostor trying to defame Catherine or myself must contend with the hundreds of postings (and images), and the thousands of words we have built into this blog over the last 20 months and counting.

Everybody should blog. The old privacy is over. If you have any dealings with others in public, especially on a regular basis, you should blog. Hugh Hewitt, whose book Blog inspired this post, writes in his Preface (page x):

Everyone is potentially a journalist, including your executive assistant and the messenger bike boy. Everyone could have a blog and a cell phone that can snap a picture of you to put on it.

You need to figure this out. You need to get ahead of it."

Preach it, brother, it's the New Word.

Tonight, Catherine and I will post our verrry long swan song to the Phoenix art scene, giving details and emails showing how Glen Lineberry, Lisa Greve, and Bentley Projects behaved shamefully.

What will they be able to say about it, we wonder?

Posted by Jerome at 10:04 AM | TrackBack

January 24, 2005

FURTHUR The Backward Bus: A Public Art / History Project for Phoenix Arizona

You can make a mark across the night with the tip of an embered stick, and you can actually see it fixed in its finity. You can be absolutely certain of its treacherous impermanence. Hank knew . . . Ken Kesey, Sometimes A Great Notion, 1964, p.100.

by Jerome du Bois

Presenting another public art idea. I'm giving it away because it makes sense only in Phoenix, a city with no music in its head, so I doubt the piece could be realized anyway. But it would have been fun, poignant, and an eye-opening peek into a past the average-aged American (35), has never known.

I have noticed that many local artists depict, in their art, a fascination and enchantment with some of the trappings of the Sixties, especially pop and psychedelica. And even though most of them are too young to remember those years, maybe they can appreciate this notion.

Let me sidle up to it with a little history. Older readers may guess where I'm going before I get there.

On a particular day in July of 1964, novelist Ken Kesey, Neal "I Tripped For Your Sins" Cassady, Ken Babbs, and the Merry Pranksters came rolling down to Phoenix in their multicolored school bus, FURTHUR. (Or FURTHER; or both, alternately.) It was an election year, recall --Johnson vs. Goldwater-- and the Pranksters, getting into the spirit of the season, emblazoned in yellow Day-Glo paint the slogan A VOTE FOR BARRY IS A VOTE FOR FUN on both sides of the bus.

And then, in a famous pop history vignette, Cassady drove the bus --backward-- down Central Ave a few miles.

This was in 1964. There was no such thing as a hippie. All of these people had short hair. And they dressed in red, white, and blue. Nobody knew what to make of them. And most of the time, most of them, including Cassady --especially Cassady-- were tripping to the eyeballs on laboratory-strength LSD-25.

Fast-forward (there was no such thing as fast forward in 1964, except on reel-to-reel audio tape) to ca. 2005. Here is my idea, in steps:

1. Lease a modern city bus, one pretreated for supergraphic "skin."

2. Create a supergraphic of the four sides of the bus on a 1:1 scale, so that if it was wrapped over the bus an observer could hardly tell the difference.

3. Now rotate the supergraphic 180 degrees and wrap the bus, creating the beginning of an illusion of a backward bus.

That's the main idea --for the outside. We have ideas for the inside, too. But first, refinements for the outside include false headlights, windshield wipers, turn signals at the real rear / fake front of the bus. The ID / Destination LED sign will read, of course, FURTHUR, as will the real front / fake rear of the bus.

The inside will be completely revamped into a Sixties environment with history displays --everything bolted down to walls and floors, as in a boat cabin. More about that in a minute.

The very back of the bus will be converted into a duplicate of the driver's cabin or cage, with the seat, the door-opener, fare machine, all the instruments and steering wheel. And --the coup de grace-- a life-size, realistic mannequin of Neal Cassady, barechested in jeans, left arm extended on the wheel, torso turned in the seat, and leaning forward on the backward bus like a dog on a leash, his right forearm and fist gripping the driver's seat's back. You could even rig his left arm to waver back and forth.

For the rest of the interior, I would want raw history and nothing on the bus that was made after 1964 (except the hidden tech stuff that would run amped-up film archives through vintage equipment).

I would invite the keepers of Ken Kesey's legacy --the family in Oregon, Zane Kesey, Simon Babbs (check out IntrepidTrips.com) --I wonder if Paul Perry is still in town?-- to create this environment. They have reasonably-priced DVDs of the trip all ready to go on their website, but if I was in charge of the project I would hire them as consultants and designers for the whole interior program.

So: Create the bus for Art Detour, hire some actor-lecturers, or other experts on those times, and run the bus around scheduled stops during the weekend. For half an hour at each stop people (over 18; serious security outside) can wander through the bus, listen to music, watch unbelievably wierd authentic film footage from 1964, listen to the voices from forty years ago, and maybe even watch a couple of actors recreate a scene from Kesey's unproduced screenplay The Further Inquiry. This book is uneven, but it contains some gems. Its main fantasy is a courtroom trial where the spirit of Neal Cassady is called to answer for his "crimes." Here's a snippet from an early witness, Roy Sebern:

CHEST [the prosecutor]: Sebern? A Mister Sebern in the court?

BAILIFF: Mr. Sebern . . . ?

ROY: Here. Roy Sebern here . . .

CHEST: Mr. Roy ah . . . what would you say is your occupation at present?

ROY: I would have to say it is . . . artist.

CHEST: A title not taken lightly by you, I can see.

ROY: I am serious about it if that is what you mean.

CHEST: Precisely what I mean. Now, Roy, we would like to inquire about a certain journey by bus that took place across the United States of America in the summer of (riffling through his papers) 1964?

ROY: Sixty-four, yes. Way back there.

CHEST: The bus, way back there, must have looked somewhat different than this. (Chest jerks his chin toward the decrepit bus parked behind them.)

ROY: Its earliest, its first look was plain school bus yellow.

A reel rolls on [a complicated machine], producing a shot of a yellow bus on a green, dewy morn. There is an outdoor sound of kids laughing, birds singing, men hammering and calling to each other in general activity, overlaid throughout with strains of Coltrane's "Greensleeves."

ROY (voice-over): When I first heard Kesey say we were going to paint it the idea didn't appeal to me at all. Because I thought it looked really fin the way it was . . . I didn't see any reason to obliterate it.

CHEST (voice-over): Did you try to dicourage this obliteration?

ROY (voice-over; beginning to speak faster, getting irritated without begin certain why): I may have mentioned just in passing . . . but once it was obvious it was going to happen, I just jumped in with everybody else. I'd been paying attention to abstract expressionism, in other words, "having at" whatever you were painting and just kind of flinging the paint at the canvas. And this bus was a canvas that you could keep "having at" all the way to New York. The longest painting in painting history--

(voice-overs for the rest)

CHEST: New York?

ROY: Where the bus was headed. To the World's Fair.

CHEST: That was its goal?

ROY: Partially. Something more than that, though, something--

CHEST: Further?

Roy doesn't answer. He is watching himself on [the screen] painting on the FURTHER sign.

ROY: I had this very strong feeling that having a name like Further would contribute impetus to keeping it going, --when it might get stuck, or broken down-- that the word would have power --like Shazam . . .

CHEST: And did your "magic word" in fact serve as such on the trip, Roy?

ROY: I really can't say. I wasn't on the bus.

CHEST: Not on the bus!? After you had been with it from its virgin yellow to its burgeoning beauty? After you had named it-- ?

ROY: I had been to New York recently. I didn't feel like making another trip.

CHEST: Even on the longest painting in history?

End of excerpt. Isn't that wonderful? And the backward bus seems fitting for Phoenix art, at least to us --forward into the past.

Anyway, it would have been fun, but we're off the bus --right after Part Five of the Bentley fiasco, probably tonight. Then, who knows what we'll blog about?

Posted by Jerome at 01:42 PM | TrackBack

January 20, 2005

FLOWERTOWER II

FLOWERTOWERII.jpg

Flower Arrangement and Photography by Catherine King.

Posted by Jerome at 09:10 AM | TrackBack

January 17, 2005

Bentley Projects, Phoenix Arizona: The Grand, Bland Opening

If you couldn't get the picture,
Maybe you can read the writing on the wall.
-- George Jones

by Jerome du Bois

If you thought the first part of Catherine's piece on Glen Lineberry and Lisa Greve was incendiary, better bring a biohazard suit for Part Two, coming up soon. But be patient; this stuff is painful to write.

Like Catherine, I'm numb and off-balance from the fuckover, so I missed an ass-kissing puff piece about those two by one of their sycophants, Ernest McIntyre. McIntyre's article contains two facts, previously unknown to us, which set us on fire again. Aarrgghh. These people are hard to believe. I'll let Catherine tell you about those facts. Instead, here I'm going to reprint McIntyre's entire piece, in the interests of the record, fisk it a little, and then I'll post our experience of the Grand Opening -- the people, the vibes, and the art. Yes, that was us, gawkers -- The Man From Tombstone, and The Mod Queen with the full-length black shirred-satin gloves. Thank you all -- truly, sincerely -- for staying away from us.

Fisking Ernie

Here we go:

"Wow!" The unexpected expulsion of the word echoes across the great spaces of the expanded Bentley Projects art gallery.

The accent was Japanese as were the words that followed. She spoke little English but was clearly taken with Glen Lineberry's expanded downtown Phoenix art gallery.

Glen Lineberry. Remember that name; you're going to be hearing it a lot in the coming years. Lineberry is the one who looked at a dilapidated downtown Phoenix building below the railroad tracks, saw a possibility, and, against conventional wisdom, set out to make it happen in a big way.

It was big news last year when Lineberry and Bentley Dillard decided to create Bentley Projects, Phoenix's largest art gallery, at 215 E. Grant St. Eyebrows rose in unison across the Valley when word leaked out that Scottsdale's renowned Bentley Gallery was opening a space at Third and Grant streets. The next word spoken was typically a disbelieving "Where?"

If you're trying to picture where exactly that is, think two streets south of America West Arena. Before Dillard and Lineberry rolled the dice and rolled in major works of art, the closest thing to contemporary art in the area was neighborhood graffiti.

Lineberry has changed all of that. He came close to opening galleries in both New York and London but felt "that the intellectual ferment and creative expansion is so vibrant in Phoenix that this just seems to be the place to be."

Expanding minds and spaces seems to be right up Lineberry's alley. When the 10,000 square feet of space opened a year ago, it was considered huge. Since then, he has purchased the entire city block and expanded Bentley Projects to 35,000 square feet, all under one roof. That's bigger than a World Cup soccer field.

World-class works by American masters such as pop artist Jim Dine, glass artist Dale Chihuly and the late abstract expressionist sculptor Louise Nevelson share the exhibition spaces with established and emerging Arizona artists. Fritz Scholder, Diana Clauss, David Kessler and Ellen Wagener are just a few of the many local artists who will be exhibited in the nearly 20 exhibits planned for 2005.

"Our plan is to mount dramatic, installation-based exhibitions as well as smaller and more intimate shows," Bentley Projects director Lisa Greve said. She walked as she talked, explaining Lineberry's concept for the gallery.

"Forget everything you know about art galleries," Greve said, while signaling to an installer that the painting of Shigeru Oyatani should be hung a little more to the right. She explained that visitors to BP, as staff members call it, "can have coffee and lunch, buy a book, look at fine rugs and even have their paintings framed -- all on site."

Although Greve is clearly the person in charge at BP, she gives the credit for bringing in the likes of Arcadia Farms, the Poison Pen Mystery Bookstore, David Adler Rugs and the Framer's Warehouse to Lineberry.

"I know of only one person who could both envision what this building could become and then actually do it," she said, with a nod toward Lineberry, who was across the room talking to a client.

This, she said, is only the beginning. Besides planning special musical events, lectures, book signings and other community-related outreach programs, there's something big in the works. Neither Greve nor Dillard nor Lineberry are talking, so don't bother asking.

Judging by what Lineberry has achieved in one year, the one thing you can be sure of is that when you find out, your verbal reaction is likely to be "Wow."

End of the McIntyre piece. Now, three things:

Glen Lineberry. Remember that name; you're going to be hearing it a lot in the coming years.

Today, if you Google "Glen Lineberry," the very first entry is my pointer to Catherine's article. The entry appeared there within 24 hours of our postings. Welcome to the power of the blogs of The Long Tail, Mr. Control Freak. (And if you don't know what that is, you're not the economist you brag on about.) Welcome to the way some business will be done in the future: honestly, with transparency, and no hidden knives. Our work may not stay the #1 Google for long -- but who knows, here comes Part Two and then there's "My Emails With Glen" -- so keep Googling, people, please. (This warms my heart whenever Catherine despairs, "I'm the only blogger I know who writes for my enemies.")

[Update: about six hours after I wrote the above, we checked again, and now the #1 Google is not my pointer piece but Catherine's Part One itself. This points to an accelerated interest, doesn't it? Now that's what I'm talking about!]

He came close to opening galleries in both New York and London but felt "that the intellectual ferment and creative expansion is so vibrant in Phoenix that this just seems to be the place to be."

What crap. I've lived here, and looked at the art here, much longer than this man (and his wife together, probably). The intellectual ferment in this town is on the order of trunk-lab meth, and the uncreative expansion features galleries of low-rent cartoonists, opportunistic muppetsmoms, striptease and other sleaze. The rest of the galleries closed, or went nonprofit. (Soon you can read my take on the fate of shade. RIP.) As for New York and London, with his MOR inventory, he'd be almost invisible there. Every Midtown gallery, which is what his would be, would swallow him up. NY and London were bullshit feints. McIntyre dutifully holds the microphone up for the line.

Finally, the other spear carrier, Lisa Greve, makes her Ecce Homo gesture:

"I know of only one person who could both envision what this building could become and then actually do it," she said, with a nod toward Lineberry, who was across the room talking to a client.

Jesus. Where are the votive candles? I can think of a lot of people who could do what Glen Lineberry is -- maybe -- doing. I say maybe because we know for sure there's a little red hole in the middle of this enterprise, bleeding quietly. And our experience with their behavior . . . Catherine will tell you more, later.

The Bland, Grand Opening

Big empty heads (by Jun Kaneko), big empty hearts (by Jim Dine), three giant wooden armless, graceless Graces lacerated by chain saws (Dine ditto), and one hundred empty Army boots hanging from the ceiling in formation: scale counts at the Bentley Projects Grand Opening, January 8, 2005. It covers what's basically corporate painting and sculpture -- what artblog's Franklin Einspruch, in an inspired phrase, calls wall furniture-- blown up large, but still subdued, smooth, distant, safe, and with all the mysteries of form and content either never present, never allowed, or leached out -- some polished-to-a-hair perfection crafty tables and bowls, and way-overpriced conceptualism by the anemic vampire Dominique Blain.

We'll get back to Blain, but first --

Whoa: Here we are, out in public -- we never expose ourselves like this -- among this city's art elite -- almost all of them, like us, dressed in black, only, unlike us, not nearly as well -- my darling on my arm, in these giant concrete spaces that open into one another. This is our fifth visit, so we know our way around, but there's some new stuff (e.g., the Blain), and one thousand people as well. They barely fill the enormous spaces, so we are free to promenade through all the salons without squeezing by anyone.

We spoke to nobody but each other (and Glen Lineberry and Brady Roberts, in a minute). We saw many people we had criticized, and several of our outright enemies, but nobody approached us, nobody bothered us; not one. How surprisingly civilized. Thanks again. And, since we have no friends, we were free to examine the artwork and talk about it with each other.

[Aside: Ironically, little did we know at the time that the biggest betrayal and threat was not from some knucklehead from Roosevelt Row or Grand Avenue attacking us physically, but the people who ran the operation that surrounded us at the moment -- in fact, that man right there, Glen Lineberry, standing with Brady Roberts.

We approached. I congratulated him, and handed him a gallery-warming gift, a bottle of The Macallan, Cask Strength. He took it, thanked us, then introduced us to Brady Roberts. After that, he pointed out the amenities like a maitre'd, and left us on our own. I mention this because I found out later that Lisa Greve, who had greeted us at the door, had text-messaged him immediately, "knowing we were nervous," to help us be comfortable. But we didn't talk to either one of them for the hour we were there. And if this inside baseball bores you, move on. This is for the record.]

As I said, this was our fifth visit, and much was familiar, but this was our first visit under the delusion that we were going to be working with these people, and I began to get an uneasy feeling: this stuff was soulless. Ours isn't.

Take Mary Bates and her glorified CAD prints -- the red monochrome, for example, that looks like a conch shell tortured flat into shaded triangles. It's perfect, and beautiful, and boring, and you could hang it behind the administrative assistant's desk. And it falls leagues behind the gloriously odd kaliedoscopic micrographs -- of real things, Mary Bates, tangible and incarnate -- that the crazy scientists post in contests all year round. ("Here's Vioxx soaked in gin.") Or create a large photograph of the center -- just the center -- of the Orion Nebula, the place the extreme born-again Christians call the Door to Heaven. You know, Mary, these eyes have seen things in fifty-five years. Your work is smug, tight, flat, and self-satisfied. It sits on its ass. Remember Mark Tansey's aphorism? "A painted picture is a vehicle. You can sit in your driveway and take it apart, or get in it and go somwhere."

The Vernon Fisher: a typical blackboard piece. Lineberry had rhapsodized about it on one of our earlier visits. Fisher has never impressed me with his enlarged, intellectually elliptical telephone-pad doodlings. On that earlier visit, a gallery assistant was moving the thing, and I saw the wonderfully intricate dadowork and scaffolding of the support -- using perfectly smooth and exactly angled 1 x 1 birch -- that Fisher had had to invent to keep the blackboard stable. It was truly beautiful, and the gallery assistant and I talked about for a minute -- how we admired not just its beauty, but that the guy figured it out himself. Artist as engineer. I left that lesson wondering how a guy who could craft like HC Westermann wasted his time with pomo noodlings?

Gary Lang's big colorful stripe-and-circle painting looks like something you see going down the escalator in the airport, or Nordstrom. Or, I suppose, in someone's "Great Room." (Whoever came up with that appelation?)

The dead matador was still there, still dead. They'd moved him (for inspiration?) to the employee lounge, with its pool table and plush chairs.

Jim Dine's big bronze hearts used to throb in the window of Bentley Gallery in Scottsdale. Now they're down here, still looking for a home. Jun "I'm Going To Need More Bronze" Kaneko cast several big five-foot hollow heads, painting or embellishing them, but they still stand dumb as stumps, perfect images for the complete lack of inspiration that brought them into being: empty-headed promises with nothing to deliver.

As for Dominique Blain: the less said, the better.

More to come on the Bentley Projects fiasco.

Posted by Jerome at 10:57 AM | TrackBack

January 15, 2005

Suggestions For Improving The Phoenix Art Museum Website

by Jerome du Bois

Phxart.org, the website for the Phoenix Art Museum (PAM), suffers from a number of deficiencies. I came across them while doing research for The Collective I. In that project the website is very important, and I realized that the project's website itself would fade the main site into the digital wallpaper.

Some people known as BLADEdigital "produces and maintains" the PAM website, but if you link to them today all you find is a grey page with an announcement that they are redesigning their website, and an email address. These are website designers! Amazing. It's been that way for weeks over there: a dead end. How long does it take to redesign a website? PAM should hire a new team or, better yet, train several of the 100 people who work there to produce and maintain a more dynamic website.

Let's take a closer look the features of the present site, and along the way make some suggestions for improvement.

The first thing I noticed is that there is no way to find out who works there. I know Jim Ballinger is the director, but that's just because he's the only director PAM has ever had. But he's not here. None of them are. Each of the top staff should have a page devoted to them, with a photo, a bio, and an email address. (They should all have onsite blogs, too, but that's up to them.) Why are they hiding?

They're hiding the collections, too, or at least most of them. Why isn't an image of every single object in all the collections online for any researcher's perusal? Well, that's asking for the moon on this website. They can't even keep up to date on their most recent stuff. For example, the image you click on to go to the "Recent Acquisitions" page shows a detail of a large photo by James Casebere, one of those recent acquisitions. But when you arrive at the page, no Casebere! And none of the other big photo-pieces newly arrived into the collections. No Struth, it's the truth. No Gursky. We just saw them a couple of weeks ago, at a hastily-assembled show that you would never know about from the website (you'd have to be on the email list). We know they're there. Come out, come out, wherever you are. . .

A lot of the links have to do with you giving money to the museum, but why would you when the museum won't tell you who works there or give you an inventory of what it owns?

Under "Exhibitions," check out the upcoming ones: only two this year, neither developed locally, and the second still has a "working title," Surrealism USA. You get the impression that the rest of the year yawns before the PAM staff like a blank, white, hell. (Also, there's nothing on the "Calendar" after the middle of February. Should we make other plans, then?) Is there nothing else we can look forward to for the rest of the year except those two yawners? And if that's true, then what are all those curators and directors doing down there, anyway? The present profile of the website summons these questions, which reflect badly on PAM. How can they expect membership to climb? Don't they know that you can surf the internet from your phone now? Everything on the website should be completely up-to-date, fresh as a daisy, including any hastily-assembled exhibitions. It just shows any interested party that you're awake, that you know they're out there.

Under "Past Exhibitions," any interested party may view only a single page about each one with a written summary and, at most, four or five images. Russell Crotty gets one, even though his stuff looks beautiful onscreen. Again, why not have every image of every object in every exhibition available? It would be a valuable tool for training curators, for example, and Dog knows they all could use more. (Plus, knowing the objects' provenance or source -- gallery, other museum -- could provide traffic to those venues, and give credit where credit is due to named donors. Donors like that. Donors have money. This is not difficult thinking, people.)

What else? Well, I've read elsewhere that PAM is undergoing a major multimillion-dollar expansion. If the website makes mention of this, it is lost behind some phone number somewhere. That's right: the biggest deal on the main page of the website now is the tired Natacha Rambova show. You wouldn't know they were breaking ground unless you went down there.

Where are the plans, the drawings, the photographs of the models, the before and after concepts? Aren't they proud of what they're doing?

The whole profile of the website is arrogant, hidebound, and hermetic:

We don't have to tell you who we are, what we possess, what we're doing, what we plan, and how we spend some of your money. Now get down here and fork over some more.

They should change their ways. The future is wide open.

Posted by Jerome at 08:11 AM | TrackBack

January 14, 2005

The Collective I: A Gift To You All

by Jerome du Bois

By the time we're done excoriating Glen Lineberry, Lisa Greve, and Bentley Projects, I'm sure our other pending proposal, with Brady Roberts and the Phoenix Art Museum, will be toast. Can you see Brady Roberts, or even the perennial Jim Ballinger, risking Lineberry's repressed but real wrath? Lineberry, after all, fashions himself a kind of Gagocolagelo for this town. I don't see it happening -- I don't see Brady Roberts coming through for us -- but it doesn't matter anyway. (Roberts has had plenty of time to respond, by the way. This is the kind of idea that doesn't take more than a day to decide about.) Bentley Projects was supposed to be the acme of professionalism and respectability. Well, the scales fell from our eyes, and we're done proposing projects in this provincial town. So I'm going to give the idea away to the whole world. It was an idea that would have opened a big colorful window for the creativity of every Arizona citizen, artist and not, visible on a giant video screen or right here on one's computer.

(What's that music?

Everything is free now, that's what they say;
everything I ever done, they gonna give it away . . .
Someone hit the big score, they figured it out:
That we're gonna do it anyway, even if it doesn't pay.
)

Fifteen years ago I had an interview with Bruce Kurtz, Director of Contemporary Art at the Phoenix Art Museum. Famously gay and quirky -- he was a founding member of Phoenix ACT-UP, who stuffed condoms in Arizona Republics one memorable Sunday -- I thought he might be open to my idea, and take it to Ballinger or the Contemporary Forum.

It wasn't my idea, exactly, but I had a nice twist on it. I wanted to put a Spectacolor Lightboard, similar to the one in Times Square in New York City, on an outside wall of the Phoenix Art Museum. The twist was this: all the content would be solicited from the public, artists and non-artists alike.

This was 1990, remember, when the internet was nascent and full-motion outdoor video screens were nonexistent. Contributors would be restricted to the LED grid. Still, I thought it offered a lot of potential.

Kurtz thought it was a good idea, but its prospects in Phoenix were nil. "Good luck," he said. This is a guy, after all, who always left town ("with a shudder of relief") during the Cowboy Art Show every October.

Now here I am again standing before Brady Roberts, who is part of a crucial museum expansion, and I'm basically doing his job: Once again I want to move the museum forward into the 21st Century. I handed him what you will read below: a way to boost us all a little forward into the future, to see what's on our minds, to see what we're dreaming here. But I'm tired of carrying it around. It's yours.

The Collective I

A Preliminary Proposal For A Feasibility Study For Two Public Outdoor Video Screens for the Phoenix Art Museum

presented by King & du Bois

Catherine King
Jerome du Bois

January 10, 2005

It was found that people wanted to engage with museums at deeper levels beyond visiting physical exhibitions, being included through consultation, involvement, engagement and respect. Coupled with this was the desire to see themselves reflected in both the products and services provided by museums.
-- Lynda Kelly, Head of the Audience Research Centre of the Australian Museum, 2002. (Emphasis added.)

Summary

These pages sketch out our proposal to conduct a feasibility study to install two fixed outdoor silent video screens at two locations on the PAM grounds: a 15’ x 20’ one at Central and McDowell, and a 6’ x 10’ one in the new Plaza, running the same program, facing public seating areas such as the cafe. We call the project The Collective I.

The screens will show a carousel of 5- to 30-second strictly noncommercial video and word art 24/7, with a minimum of eight hours of nonrepeated material. There will be a website with complete, playable archives and updated contributions, plus a permanent list of contributors and instructions on how to submit a candidate artwork.

Contributions will be solicited from all qualified Arizona residents -- and only Arizona residents, making this public art project distinct in two ways from previous ones: widening the invitation to non-artists, and restricting it to Arizona residents. The contributions are donations, though the contributor retains all rights.

One exception to the Arizona-only rule: a yearly worldwide invitational, for one weekend. That would draw a lot of famous video artists, and a lot of attention. (There could also be a yearly Arizona-only Top 100 “exhibition,” complete with a banquet.)

Evaluations will be done by a 5- or 7-member Group of current museum staff, using several filters: common sense and decency; an explicit No List; explicit FCC standards; and a preference for the positive, beautiful, and thoughtful.

Not many meetings will be necessary. Initial evaluations will be done individually and remotely by accessing a common online cache. Each Group member’s name, accompanied by a Yes/No switch, accompanies each candidate video. If everyone marks the No box, the candidate is set aside for deletion. (Each rejected candidate gets a personal explanation for the refusal.) The others are filtered to the next step.

Note what this process accomplishes: efficient and flexible use of staff time; automatic distributed culling; automatically-updated agenda for any full-Group face-to-face meeting. More dynamically, it sets the stage for side discussions, email debates, and other informal processes which could accept or reject candidates on a continuing instead of fixed basis.

The stream of images and words is a nonhierarchical, nonthematic carousel, and contains only the artworks -- no credits, no names -- with brief black screens between the artworks. (The website handles the names and credits.) New works are added to the end of the carousel, up to the 24-hour limit, then the oldest works go into the website archive.

Cost: $5 million the first year; then around $500,000 py after.

[That was the executive summary.]

The Collective I

Main Features

-- An 15 x 20-foot silent public video screen -- full-color, full-motion, running a carousel of 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, and 30-second spots up to 24 hours per day, but with a minimum of eight hours.

-- A smaller, secondary screen, with simultaneous feed, mounted in the new plaza, either freestanding or attached to the side of a building, facing a public seating area, such as the cafe. (Another extension, of course, would be plasma televisions running in sync in selected areas inside the museum.)

-- A public website, accessible through PAM’s or on its own, with current feed, full-motion archives, frequent updating, full contributor information, standards information, and submission requirement forms. (Also a plug-in for museums worldwide to project the feed on their walls for free, except for the yearly worldwide invitational {see below}, for which there will be a hefty registration fee.)

-- Contributions restricted to Arizona residents (with one yearly exception), and not just artists. Any Arizonan who fulfills the requirements may submit a piece. (Collectives, such as school classes, may also contribute.)

-- Once a year, for one weekend, non-Arizona contributors are featured in a worldwide invitational. The same standards and rules apply. Contributions will be solicited three months in advance, selections made on an ongoing basis, with a strict deadline or whenever the 24-hour limit is reached. This should encourage timely contributions.

Some Questions and Answers

Where will they be installed? How much will it cost to install? How much electricity do these things use in a year, and where does the money for that come from? Where will the website be set up? Who maintains the project? Will new staff or training be required?

We don’t know the answers to these questions yet, but some quick research indicates that a 15 x 20 foot full color screen will cost about $4,240,000 to construct; about a third of that for the smaller screen; $200,000 for computer equipment; and $200,000 to $500, 000 for the first year’s operation.

Where will the money come from?

We don’t know. That’s what part of the feasibility study is for. But likely sources include:

The Museum Expansion Budget
A Special Projects Fund
Arizona Commission on the Arts
Phoenix Public Arts Commission
Private donors

The project will need a carousel of at least 200 regular contributions to maintain its freshness. Bluntly, is there enough talent out there to support such a project? Yes, because we don’t restrict contributions to just artists, or just Phoenix, but all citizens, and the whole state.

How does PAM benefit?

No, we’ve skipped over a prior question:

Is the Phoenix Art Museum willing to change its culture?

These video screens dismantle the elitist barriers between artist and non-artist and create a field that respects everyone with talent. They and the website imply a commitment to the public which the staff will have to adopt, there’s no two ways about it. Hermetic isolation and remoteness is premillennial thinking and behavior. And that means revamping the website, too, for example, and opening the staff up to email as well. [That's right, readers; Brady Roberts doesn't have email.] It’s time to throw the doors of the museum open to the public. They might teach the rest of us something.

Now, how does the Phoenix Art Museum benefit?

1. The smaller screen will draw both contributors and regulars who work in the area to the cafe. Since the carousel changes dynamically, and the spots are so short, viewers will miss a lot; people could congregate every day for coffee or lunch and never be bored by repetition, and yet may still see a particular piece again that interested them. The cafe, which should open a walk-up window, would make more money, and more visitors will decide to actually visit the museum proper. (After all, if this is what they’ve got outside, what goodies must be inside? And here’s where the follow-through comes in again.)

2. The cachet is reverberant. This thing is unique, as far as I know. It’s the ultimate outreach. The Collective I blows away the Millennium Park face video wall in Chicago, which is inane, static, and narcissistic. The Collective I is not about vanity, it’s about talent, about having the chops. We haven’t found another museum doing this kind of thing.

It shows PAM entering the 21 Century. No more floppy banners on the corner of Central and McDowell. The citizens will see a big video screen, of, by and for public consumption, and big lightboxes flanking it for advertising upcoming exhibitions. That’s the way it should be, anyway.

3. The project should drive membership up. Imagine one of the genome techs, for example, just moving into town. She finds out about the public screen and decides to try something out -- molecular animation, microphotography, illustrating a poem, whatever -- and submits it. Now, whether she’s accepted or not, she’s hooked. She’ll visit the website, then the museum. And she might join. Now multiply her by the hundreds.

Or imagine a man driving by on his way to his job at Bowne, or Phelps Dodge, or the City, for example. He’s a hang-glider on weekends, and has a helmet or chest cam. He decides to edit some of this footage for his fellow citizens. So now half a million people who will never swoop down over gorgeous fruited plains, or shimmering rivers, or Canyon de Chelly, will be transfixed by this man’s experience. He might join. Then multiply him by the hundreds.

Think of the new regulars who will frequent the cafe at lunch breaks. Some of them may eventually join. Think of the contributors who will drag their friends and family down to show off their handiwork (the website will indicate when each contributor’s piece is scheduled to appear).

4. The yearly worldwide invitational will elevate Phoenix’s profile and draw international attention.

Okay, that was the body of the proposal. I have lots of notes on the submission process and the other benefits that would fall out from a project like this, but I'm done, except for this coda, which I might as well give away, too:

The inspiration for the original lightboard piece came from a note written by the poet John Ciardi, commenting on part of his translation of Dante Alighieri's Divine Comedy. I don't have the exact quotes right now, but trust my paraphrase.

Ciardi said that Dante anachronistically invented the electric billboard. In Canto 33 of Paradiso Dante is floating, suspended in the Seventh Heaven, I think, waiting for more lessons and revelations. Thousands of sparkling stars festoon the space before him. But these stars are souls, famous and holy. As he floats there in wonder, the stars, the brilliant points of light, begin to move, to line up, to form curves of dots, until Dante beholds before him an immense outline of an eagle, its gigantic head dwarfed by its endlessly outstretched wings, scintillating at every point.

Then the eye turns to pin Dante, and the beak opens, and Dante hears the eagle speak across the immensity of space:

Judge righteously, ye judges of the Earth.

These words appear below the eagle as more stars. And then the whole scene, like spun sugar, blows away.

I was going to reproduce that on the lightboard.

Later, at the end of his journey, Dante sees the Source of it all, and this is what he says about it:

I saw within Its Depths how It conceives
All things in a single Volume bound by Love
Of which the Universe is the Scattered Leaves.

Would that it were so, but it's a lie. There's no pie in the sky when you die. Happy New Year. More to come, including "My emails with Glen."

Posted by Jerome at 03:00 PM | TrackBack

January 10, 2005

TRANSCENDENDROBIA

TRANSCENDENDROBIA3.jpg

Flower Arrangement and Photography by Catherine King.

Two more.

Posted by Jerome at 08:14 AM | TrackBack

January 06, 2005

EEEUUUGH

by Jerome du Bois

Major local sleazoid Scott Sanders speaks out of both sides of his mouth about a stale theme in a neat and inadvertent lab experiment in the only two newspapers in town. As a bonus, he and his crew, and Kathy Cone and her crew, continue to enthusiastically promote female humiliation and the disintegration of dignity.

(I simply do not understand the local female artists and their backers, but it's on them. I do not stand for them. I speak for stand-up women, women with human dignity who demand respect. The rest can go wallow for all I care.)

Both these pieces are so short I could copy them both. The piece in the Rep by Richard Nilsen is not so bad when it comes to stinky writing, but the very phrases in the NT article make me sick to my stomach, not to mention Benjamin Leatherman's breathless treacly dishtalk. So go read them, wash your face and hands, and then come back and I'll highlight yet another misogynist's hypocrisy. Finally, I need to point out yet another event that aims to demean women (and men), led by Kathy Cone. Come, read, as downtown grows even more sleazy.

In The Rep, Sanders says,

First Friday usually brings us 500 or so visitors. But this show usually adds a few hundred to that . . . We did it to get people who may not normally go and view the arts. We want to introduce them to what's going on downtown.

In the NT, Sanders says,

Sex fucking sells, and adding in rock and drugs has made this event as successful as it has been, and I'm only hoping it'll continue to grow.

In The Rep, Richard Nilsen writes,

The work, [Sanders] says, is erotic in intent, not pornographic.

In the NT, Benjamin Leatherman describes body painting a female model, and a bunch of other stuff you'll have to read offsite because I hate to even quote that crap. About the spliff mentioned in the NT, both The Rep and the NT acknowledge that the "Drugs" part of the title, and the show, is bogus. The Rep:

The drug content is found in psychedelic, computer-generated designs.

"It's not pictures of people smoking bongs or something like that," he says.

But sex, drugs and rock-and-roll, the anthem of American youth, is as American as cherry pie.

"It's always been right there," Sanders says.

In the NT:

Scott Sanders admits that, untrue to its name, the affair neglects narcotic-related material, and since he can't dole out any doobage, [somebody's] abstract computer-generated psychedelic prints will have to suffice.

I bring up the drug reference for two extended reasons.

First, compare its ridiculous prohibition with the untrammelled license given to exploiting women. Nobody's got any problem with them parading themselves around like meat. Arizona's family newspaper is promoting it, via Richard Nilsen.

Second, just as everybody knows that you live forever once you've done a line or two, everybody knows there's a lot of smoking and snorting going on all over downtown. So it's hypocritical as hell to dodge it, and this points to deficiencies in the other two themes as well.

Sex, drugs, and rock-and-roll are way too significant for these downtown twits.

Sex is the uncanny intersection of yin and yang, a sacred dance. You, Scott Sanders, and your wife Jen, have turned it into sleaze.

Humans have used drugs for fifty thousand years for hundreds of reasons; they, too, can possess great value, as well as great danger -- just like sex.

And for rock-and-roll you want to drag out KISS? Listen, you fools, not a single member of that wilted group is worthy of holding Jimi Hendrix's discarded guitar picks. Rock-and-roll is not hanging your tongue out for empty-headed teenagers. Rock-and-rolll goes like this:

I stand up next to a mountain --
And I chop it down with the edge of my hand.

I'm convinced none of those downtown clowns could summon such strength.

Now, about Kathy Cone and her special event at the end of the month. It's some kind of masquerade which flirts with infidelity. I trashed the email pronto, so I don't have the details to quote you.

Yes, that's right: unbelieveably, she emailed us an invitation to this sleaze ball.

This coarse woman had the damn gall to think that I would expose my beloved and precious wife, who I waited for my whole life, to the drooling leers and verbal slobbering of hard-up strangers! Not to mention that our reclusiveness is well-known, Kathy Cone, so fuck off and don't try to insult us again. By the end of the month you can wallow with the rest of the spineless and clueless, and the trunk labs will have fresh product for everyone by then.

Posted by Jerome at 04:06 PM | TrackBack

TOWER OF FLOWER

TOWEROFFLOWER1.jpg

Flower Arrangement and Photography by Catherine King.

Posted by Jerome at 09:59 AM | TrackBack