Sunday, October 21, 2012

Barack at the Bat

Lance Armstrong.  A name from a teenage boy novel.  Like who didn't know the guy was a phony.  Something totally irritating about him, but then I could never trust a man in bicycle shorts.  They embarrass me, like a dumb swimmer's wardrobe--- and then the helmet... and if that wasn't enough, the Sheryl Crow thing-- -the blatant fame sucking.... and now, from some, he gets a little of the sympathy vote.  Does he give back the money with the endorsements, the trophies?  Do I even care?

This is the year of Lance Armstrong.  Of Sandusky.  A-Rod.  Mitt Romney.  What is it, America--- it's not enough that these people are the lying puppet versions of some symbol we have lost... it's that we continue to buy tickets to their theatres.   How many years ago did we sing 'We won't get fooled again'?
I mean, we have a president--- a black man,  to whom I pledged all belief, in 2008.  I made phone calls-- -I raised cash-- I was passionate.  And now even he seems--well, downright flippant.  It's as though we have a breakfast menu choice here between --well, a Democratic bowl of American cream of wheat with brown sugar, or a Republican photograph of bacon and eggs.  A picture.  Personally, I can't eat paper.  Or pixels.  Whatever.

I heard Bruce Springsteen tonight sheepishly playing his brand-new campaign song offering on an acoustic guitar, no doubt for much too large an audience.  The  Bruce Springsteen with the Grecian Formula hair, like Romney's.  Giggling, he was, making fun of the fact he'd run out of things to rhyme with Obama.   The song was dumb, apologetic.  Stupid.  Like a couple of frat boys sitting around after too many beers, ad-libbing.  I failed to find the point or the humor.  It's not a moment for playing rhyming games.   This is a country, a world-changing decision.  Okay, it's Bruce, not Oprah.  But it felt like the movie version of this campaign... like there is no longer any real world.  The Detroit pitcher had more conviction before he threw a breaking ball.  More commitment.

I'm tired of the digs and scripted humor, of the snide clever repartee.  The news anchormen and women are over-styled and too chatty.  They announce some tragic event and then they comment on someone's tie; their new puppy.  They wink and smirk.  I don't want to be friends with these people; I want some sobriety and some truth with my news.  I've noticed the doctors in those TV dramas these days tell jokes while performing dangerous surgery.  Maybe there's my writerless metaphor-of-the-moment:  America the anesthetized country on the operating table, our president in a white coat studying x-rays and making clever funny analogies while the Republican candidate is scrubbing to do a triple bypass without ever attending medical school.  Who let the dogs in?

We are going to wake up on the other side of a fence that has no return entry.  Doesn't anyone get this? I get a daily barrage of Obama-driven requests for money and cute little slogans and soundbites.  Tweets.  I want to be shaken.  I want my neighbors to be shaken.  I want someone to realize that it's fine to obsess about the wedding and the flowers and the bridesmaids and the ceremony--- but it's the marriage... it's the next four years and the perilous path we could be on toward eradicating the version of democracy that shaped my generation.  The grass will definitely be greener on the other side, and we will have lost access to that field forever.  It will be mere nostalgia which we will contemplate with growing bitterness and regret.  Are we that dumb? To fall for a man with Lance-worthy swagger and false leader-ly bravado?  At least Reagan could once act.  This actor is nasty.

So sit down Bruce.  You're a confusing political message at best.  A New Jersey billionaire in a denim shirt who lately has acquired a Clinton-esque accent.  A songwriting cowboy in a gated community.  We need to turn off our ipods and televisions and get tough and smart.  We need to use the minds Madison Avenue told us are a terrible thing to waste.  We need our president to stand up and one-two it and earn our trust and respect.  I don't want to live in a Lance Armstrong world.  I don't want to see Beyonce singing instead of Etta James at the next Inaugural Ball.  What were they thinking? Etta's ironically no longer around to separate the women from the girls by example.   And if we don't wake up, we won't be able to tell the difference between grass and turf.  This is not an SNL debate spoof...but from the comments and footage I see, I'm confused.

I'm sick of the rich guys winning.  I'm especially sick of the bad rich guys buying us off and winning.
I'm even glad the Yankees lost.  But this election isn't the World Series.  It's our future that will strike out.  My future.  My kids.  I'm ashamed to be represented by a smirky snarky tilted misogynistic power-seeker in a suit.    We need to use our hearts and our ideals and our eyes and ears and rip the masks off.   Mr. President--- you're not a super-hero, you're a man with a good brain and decent instincts and we elected you as such.  It's your final obligation as president with home-field advantage to come up with not a song but a slammer in this last inning.  Yes.





Thursday, October 11, 2012

Bed Post


I think I’m going to write a novel called The Talking Bed.  Of course, I don’t even need a Google-search to know, like most things, it’s already been done.  Fortunately for us, titles aren’t copyright- proof or we might have a way to filter the tsunami of crap that’s come down the pike in the name of culture.  But since we all seem to resort to under-the-blankets for several varieties of trust or confession, the concept is amusing.   Besides, there’s no privacy anywhere—no truth, no real contract for solitude, certainly no guarantee for prayer.  Why not betrayal by one’s own bed?

I watched an old Bergman film last night--- The Passion.  Tough to say whether it’s my predilection for the Swedish cultural reverence, or the period, or the crashing tedium of recent film-watching…but it stayed with me.  From the opening scenes-- -the pace, the cinematography, the quiet breathing of Max von Sydow—it was hypnotic.  It felt important.  For me, anyway. 

Cut to the Contemporary art sale at Phillips’ tonight where the Emperor’s New Clothes has become something to own rather than an ironic warning.  Most offensive for me is that artist who sticks chewing gum on a canvas in an unattractive arrangement and banks 6 figures.  The catalogue actually has the balls to relate the fact that the guy doesn’t even chew the gum himself but hires college kids to do it for him for 50 cents a piece.  Kind of a Warholian joke or maybe a metaphor for what the banks are doing to us.  Wasn't it also a 'green art' project we did when the kids were in kindergarten and were learning about recycling? Don’t get me started. 

At the risk of becoming the cranky old woman, because anyone with education and memory must have some opinion here, I am searching to find things of recent manufacture that feel ‘important’.  I’ve retreated to my little book-lined anthill of indie songwriting and poetry and simply wince when one of my rich friends gushes about their latest Damian Hirst Butterfly purchase.  Last night for food-money I had to ghost-write an article on one of the big young collectors.  I have to admit I can’t find much to criticize--- the guy, although massively wealthy, seems relatively intelligent and philanthropic and of course, the gist of the article, he has created his own Private Museum. 

The old saying ‘you can’t have everything; where would you put it?” is no longer valid, because of course, you put it in your own Private Museum.  From there you can lend it out, give it away, auction it off, store it-- -whatever… an enormous tax write-off, a solution to having your 45 room triple-penthouse look like a hoarder’s hideout, a relief from renting apartment-priced storage from Crozier or Cadogan Tate,  not to mention insurance.  It is also kind of a living monument to yourself--- your taste, your sophistication--- at least in principle.  And a way of covering up your mistakes, your unwise purchases in the name of philanthropy.  Let's face it-- some of these things don't wear well in your private living room.

So in one of his clever flippant hedge-fund manager remarks, the guy says, of course, art has no intrinsic value: it is just marketing.  Maybe your art has no value, I retort silently, but mine does.  I have starved for weeks, gone without new shoes and clothes for years, to have some small painting I simply couldn’t live without.  Can Mr. Private Museum live without his art?  He can.  In fact, I’ll bet he could live without his wife because although she seemed nice enough, I really couldn’t tell her apart from at least 3 other Private Museum wives who sat at an adjacent table.  

I’m also beginning to see a definite trend of artifice in these trophy women—like some of them used to have soft, blowy hair, or neat ponytails and well-tailored dresses.  Now they seem to have these megalo-hairstyles like somewhere between the Jersey Housewives and Barbie.  I sense a certain rococo tendency in the jewelry and accessories… like even a charity dinner is a red-carpet moment for these well-photographed housewives.  Like a Dave LaChapelle thing…just a little more blingy than chic. 

Oh, Andy, where are you now?  Will your hundreds of soupcans and thousands of Marilyns be enough to go around?  At least my old guitar continues to increase in value because there was little demand  and few produced because they were for actual real musicians back then-- and when you play it—well, it sings.  It’s old and it’s done thousands of gigs and at least for now it hasn’t been bought by some hedge fund hoarder who will hide it in a guitar mausoleum.  I’ll be playing realtime unique music on it while Forbes magazine photographs Mr. PM proudly displaying a wall of 5-cent gum chewed and spat out maybe by the same drunk NYU students who just stuffed one of the artist’s bills in our jar.