Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Please don't feed the balloon animals!

Dear Google,

Okay, I admit. I’ve always hated your name. Like Goofy and Giggly and Oogly all at once. When you need some information you have to find yourself mentally summoning a cartoon character. And that logo—more suited for a pitstop in Candyland than a search engine. I don’t like screensavers and emoticons. Okay, I admit some cyber-addicts need to be reminded about Mother’s Day or Easter so they can send an i-card. But the new ‘accessories’ on the page? It looks like a frigging iphone. What the hell is iGoogle anyway?

Please. Don’t answer. That was a rhetorical question, not a search.

But today…I lost an invitation…needed an address….and what comes up? Tulips? Is it some new calendar-calculation of Spring? Dutch Easter? I look closer…my cursor lingers for a second. Oh my God. It’s that Jeff Koons--- the Cat-in-the-Hat bathtub ring we can’t seem to shake especially during Artweek. Like the stench of plastic sewage. And underneath? The words ‘what happens when great art mixes with your homepage’? Aaaaarrrrrggghhh. A cry of anti-aesthetic pain. When great art mixes with my homepage I open to the Metropolitan Museum. But oh Jesus, oh Andy, oh God of truth and art…here, too, the venerated institution of class and culture.. has been crowned with the hideous clown-laureate of Koons. And on their webpage…they actually describe the stuff as ‘meticulously crafted’. By whom? By a factory? Like a wedding cake? They are not even edible, which would at least make some statement about the obscenely distorted worldwide food supply. Which would explain the revolting bloated shapes. Oh my museum…has the world come to this…the ultimate sellout.

Wall Street is policed by their own. The art world, unfortunately, has sunk as well into a pit of Koons. Even Damian Hirst’s boring little pill paintings did not inspire the kind of disgust that everything Koons produces. Where is the Pope when we need him? Where is the gigantic scooper which will pick up this crap and toss it from the roof into the recycling bin where perhaps we could find some future use for this waste of material and machinery. But ‘meticulously crafted’? The institution which displays Rembrandt and Seurat and exquisitely decorated Greek vases? This monstrosity of hideous blimp? Maybe Google is under pressure to sell out, to please their shareholders, to subsidize, advertise and brainwash every user/sucker who relies on their almost suspiciously overefficient monopolizing system. But the Metropolitan? What Board Member/Trustee/Hedge Fund CEO owns multi-stock in Koons? Because now these bastards are taking control of my personal screen.

The Metropolitan Museum roof was one of my sacred places. A view which gives you perspective, where you can take in the city behind a buffer of green—where the sunsets become memory, where on the way to and from you must pass through halls of historic and beautiful objects which predate New York City by centuries, millennia. Where works of art are not necessary because the architecture and cornices are breathtaking against the treeline and the sky. But now we have New York Poop-disneyworld. Not anything classy or trashy as the old Pop Shop. Not even the Oldenburgs and Lichtensteins which tried our concept of ‘taste’. But flat-out monuments to the hot-air filled world of Hedge Fund-fueled Jeff Koons art.

Does anyone know that Jeff Koons hasn’t paid his child-support like ever? That his wife ran off to Rome because the possibility of her son being raised by the likes of JK was worth exile. I salute you, wherever you are, you and young Ludwig. Stay away from this city so desperate to attract tourists they’ll be covering Museum walls with M&Ms. That’s right, they might even call it a Damian Hirst. He seems to have run out of ideas, too. And remember those pathetic balloon-sculpting clowns you could hire for $20 to entertain at your el-cheapo McDonald’s party? They should sue for copyright infringement. Back to the toilet, Jeff Koons. Underneath your fake tan and lasered old face there is a balloon man just waiting to explode. And that’s the good part. As for Google? Try Koons and S—T and press search. Or better yet, just flush.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Bless the Children

Ah, April. The dogwoods and cherry trees are in bloom; winds are minimal, air is clear, first real T-shirt day; sunset is archivally perfect, moon is near-full; in New York City this is as good as it gets. Taxes are filed, Wall Street closed on an up-day, Jews are getting ready to think about their history, ask the four questions, cut back on bagels and pasta. Foreclosures are not on the minds of the young families with the $600 strollers in Central Park today. We read earlier in the week about the Hedge Fund masterminds still collecting their billion-dollar paychecks, not worrying about the price of facials, spas, spring-break airfare.

A friend of mine—a psychiatrist, called me with a story. He’s being paid to tour state-run nursing homes. Not the nicer-ones in uptown Manhattan, but the ones in the Southeast Bronx, in the neighborhoods we only read about as backdrop to crime statistics. The neighborhoods where foreclosures are irrelevant. No one here is buying a house or an apartment. They are figuring out a way to get through the weekend.

Despite the population density of New York City and the fact that most of us have rarely if ever seen a truly deserted Manhattan street even at 4 AM, here in early evening some of the streets are near-empty. Buildings are low and burned out and windows are boarded up. Warehouses alternate with residences. Asphalt, concrete, refuse bins line the sidewalks. Meters are damaged and ignored. Some of the parked cars have been here for weeks. They don’t even run. Some are stripped, damaged; gasoline has been siphoned out. Gangs meet in these warehouses, just one block from one of those newly-designated department-store-type high-schools that no one can tell me the name of.

Anyway, for three months the psych has been assigned to report undercover on the state of this residential facility. What he finds? Forget the tragic nursing home tales of abuse, neglect-- the unsanitary, the inhumane, the disempowered voiceless strapped to their cage of a bed like animals in a pound. This is status quo, minus the few and sparsely sprinkled angels who care tenderly and relentlessly for aged infants until death removes their chart from the active files.

But the true horror? There are young people in these nursing homes. Twenty-somethings who have somehow fallen through the system cracks—who have exceeded the age of pediatric benefits and sympathy and are non-functioning— the disabled, the morbidly obese, unable to rise from their beds. Being kept, tended like sheep--- nourished just enough to keep their vitals going—a task of maintenance.

Reading through the charts of these lost children, he finds—in every single young patient—a case-history not just of neglect, of abandonment—but of abuse—sexual, physical, emotional, psychological. Children burned with cigarettes, forced to submit to sex-acts with not just strangers but relatives—neighbors—sometimes to provide money for their parents’ drug-habits—able to cope in no other way than to isolate, feed themselves…twinkie after cupcake, bag after bag of chips, doughnuts, fries--until they are too big to move, too big to sit up. They’re taken in by Pediatrics at city hospitals, turned over at 18 to these nursing homes where they vegetate—diabetic, cardiac-diseased, damaged children.

I met a woman at my gym who campaigns for adorable dogs in shelters abandoned by their owners, victims of foreclosures, too…or just puppies who grew into dogs whose needs were no longer cute and manageable. Huskies, pitbull mixes. Rich people send money, feel sorry for animals, but no one is adopting the nursing-home residents. They are the flip-side of the Dorian Gray portrait that is New York—the city of Fashion Week, Art Week, nightclubs and society events. Endless benefits for the young-of-face and the slim-and-trim well-dressed, while the hidden portrait of the poor and neglected grows more hideous by the day: child-murders, incest, incinerated infants and the clinically obese survivors of horror — like undecorated veterans in a welfare cage.

I hope the Pope prays for these children. I hope he sees beyond the marble and limestone face of Fifth Avenue and the beauty of St. Patrick’s into the eyes of the portrait of the miserable and helpless. Here in the 21st Century, in fabulous New York City. Remember the children.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Mondo Manga

So the word is out. The Bear Stearns fixed income managers—the ones that really cooked the books--- are now at J.P. Morgan. I hope old J.P. has plenty of legroom in his coffin because he’ll be spinning like a top. But I suppose the sunken BS ship is in such a mess that only the 3-card-Monty masters can re-construct their burned bridges. Creative arson is the only way to cover your tracks sometimes.

And if you want to find true love in this century, you must have a reality show. My neighbor’s 15-year old daughter-- honor roll, debating champion— is a fan of the Bret Michaels girl-circus. It is hard to imagine how far one must travel to find such a variety of female specimen missing an essential part of their brain. Also, in a show on which the ever-sincere and oh-so-talentless Poison singer claims to be looking for love, the biggest bunch of reality-show rejects and brainless boob-heads should have at least gone through that MTV liar show screening. Not a single one would have made the first cut. But does Bret care that they misrepresent their age, possible marital status, even sexual preference? One of them was recently having sex with the other most repulsive member of his band and an obvious rival. But she definitely has the biggest boobs, so all is forgiven. Even if they are as fake as her collagen-enhanced lips. Apparently rock of love can be a fake painted pet-rock. And there’s always season 3. Apparently America likes liars and fakes.

Which brings me to the art market and our big spring Brooklyn Museum Murikami extravaganza, complete with factory-produced paintings called ‘a la Warhol’. Poor old Andy. Not only has the art world missed the point, but there IS no point. At least Andy’s subject matter was satire—the symbols of our culture—the pop icons, the advertisements, the deification of the mundane. Now it is the cartooning of the cartoon. A store of hideous hijacked designer accessories. Marc Jacobs, you certainly have sold out from the rockin' boy-designer I met way back. And there is a whole Sistine-Chapel-style staff of artisans to blow up the already blown. Balloon creatures and dolls. What next? The new World Trade Center made of lego? Edible Tiffany? Blow-up dolls standing in for Starbucks girls, giving out your money at bank windows? Naked-geisha holograms giving you a lap dance at Teriyaki Boy? When will it end?

I’m having a sugar rush just browsing the Arts section of the NY Times. Is there anyone who is jonesing for good-old-reality? Is there any funk left in New York City? Any square block that hasn’t been face-lifted, whitewashed, commercialized, graffiti-proofed? Help! Andy!

And on the homefront, in my 21st-century version of a Manhattan home, the Bear Stearns bandits have pulled a Bush-style Florida election stunt and gained a majority of my co-op board. Which means they will bankrupt the building until it is ripe for a corporate takeover and conversion into a mini-mall. They have already engineered a forged lawsuit which will compel all honest tenants to pay these overpaid crooked managers’ maintenance for 10 years with 2/3 of our paycheck. Just in case they were going to have to live on last years’ bonus for a while, which is no longer likely. While they had a bit of a small scare, they needed to practice mergers and takeovers on their poor neighbors. They have grown bold, these mama's boys whose greatest challenge has been a college application, Lamaze class before epidurals, and keeping a tough face during Botox injections. Not even a rap on the palm with a stick for what used to warrant a jail sentence. Are you listening, Martha and Sam? And for those of us who can’t afford to move from their home-castle, life is miserable, services are withheld, democracy is miscarried while the corrupt little junta sings and dances and smokes cigars. For those of us who yearn to move, they will reject every buyer until they can take over our cherished homes for half value, just the way they bilked all those American suckers into over-ambitious home-buying. Bigger mortgages, bigger commissions. Isn’t corporate crime fun? They haven’t even missed a paycheck. And they've sued their neighbors for a huge payoff. Clever little emperors.

Where is Eliot Spitzer when we need him? He’s had his vital parts tied…another huge trap he fell into, which stinks to me like corporate behind-the-scenes hocus-pocus in a big way. The biggest stinkers are always the best finger-pointers. Eliot had a big finger, but tiny hands compared to these money managers.

Is there justice? Is there a hell? A real prison? Is there no master of ceremonies to ask ‘Will the real criminals stand up, please, so the rest of us can go back to our homes and go on with the business of rebuilding America, purging the stench of corporate greed, and creating something with our hands and brains?’ Unfortunately the parade-route of the fat naked emperors is lined with worthless flat copies of cartoon characters and devoid of mirrors.