Friday, August 17, 2012

dumbing down of expressions (Freight+Volume's new exhibition)

I am thoroughly fatigued by the New York art world's over the top  illustrative fascination with sex imagery. Every season there are several shows promising some "revolutionary" expression that suggests we are going to, as viewers, be amused, titillated, moved, that we need to have some conventional conceptions broken by wholly dismally painted  or videoed crotch shots of pussy and cock in various forms and medium. If you are an adult past college years, the crotch shot is something most of us see a lot of in our own homes with the ones we love, pick-up, or watch on a screen. There's nothing particularly special about it unless it's under the sheets with me. Then, it's special. I feel the same way about strip bars, I just don't get the fascination, but when I have to see tits and ass and cock in art galleries I want it to kick my ass. Say something meaningful, or be beautiful, or so ugly to spur something within me. But I can't help but feel tired by the same juvenilia that I see again and again these days. It's like artists have embraced Beavis and Butthead (heh heh hehing their way to mediocrity) so fully that they've lost any distance and it becomes deadly poetic fallacy...Pretending to say something about something, but in the act, the art becomes the thing itself. Tired illustration saying nothing, doing nothing, being nothing. Porn, bad porn, fetish, is fine. It has it's purpose. Nakedness and sexiness are wonderful qualities for inspiration, but why engage the lowest common expression...? in Freight + Volume's new show I experienced the most dumbing down of expressions. Most of the work had the humor of a teenaged boy. There were a few nice pieces in the mix of some 20 odd artists, but they were completely colored and tainted by the miasma of Butthead urgency work all over the place. I actually like Nick the curator of this show. I think fundamentally the urge to reflect novelty, youthful urgency, can be a sticky and difficult thing to negotiate. I applaud the attempt in many of his curatorial efforts I've seen over the years. But, man, we want to see kick-ass work, not artistic drop-outs being elevated (even for a slap dash Summer show).

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Romney/ Ryan want to destroy the Federal Government as we know it...

Now that we have a fully realized Republican ticket to consider in Romney/ Ryan it seems important to accept that this is an extremely threatening ticket to the American way of life as we have known it. In fact, I'm actually surprised that Romney has truly accommodated the most radical wing of the Right so completely. I didn't think, despite what all my Lefty friends offered, that he had gone over fully to the Dark Side. I imagined that he would aggressively move Right of Center, establishing his credential as a slightly more conservative, Bloomberg style, Capitalist politician.. advocating for less regulation in business, larger tax cuts for the already rich, but establishing a social moderation allowing for women's rights, civil rights, relatively inadequate but not unreasonable protections/safety nets  for the poor and elderly....

But that hasn't happened. Instead, he is, I believe, embracing a Culture in this country that can only be described as extremely radical and dangerously intolerant to anyone of modest economic means, to women, to the environment. In fact, the very social and economic fabric that holds this country together will be rendered inoperable if Romney/Ryan have their way. Of course, even many in Congress would be relatively opposed to many of the ideological stances these two candidates for President and Vice-President will take if given the reins of the White House, but I am truly nervous about the deep damage they might inflict on the way our Union functions.

I have written a piece suggesting we should allow the Tea Party to sign on the dotted line, abandoning all Federal Monies, but I wanted that to be a choice. If Romney/Ryan are elected they will fundamentally bankrupt the Government entirely, taking away any of the Federal Government's ability to help states with infrastructure, ensuring savings accounts and pensions, healthcare services, environmental tragedy for crops, property and people...

My feeling is, if specific representatives want to forego Federal monies for the local constituencies, by all means,  let them try that, and they will surely be booted in the next elections, but making it impossible for all states who fundamentally have little or no argument with Government's role in civil society to function with such a system is horrifically wrong and could irreparably ruin the system of the Great Society many of us aspire for for this country.

Romney/ Ryan want to destroy the Federal Government as we know it, sending us into greater and greater deficit for military spending, taxcuts for the top 5%(really 2%), cutting any and all strings between the Federal Government and States, wiping out Medicare and Social Security, and doing this. paying for any expenses on the backs of the other 95%. That is true Oligarchy....It's practically Feudal...

I will write more about what we can do to engage our communities, families, and Representatives who oppose this kind of extremism another time, but I think it's clear that, despite many hard feelings many of us on the True Left have had about President Obama's performance and positions, there is absolutely no choice but to make sure he is elected with a solid majority that renders the argument of this Extremist Right Wing culture Romney/Ryan are perpetuating mute!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

I say let them go!

The argument  from the Tea Party and the new Right again and again positions itself as desiring Independence, but actually these "Representatives" and their Red states have been historically sucking from the Federal Trough more than any other ( states are paying much more of their taxable dollars to support these cranky recipients. I recommend, among others voicing similar opinions ( that what is missing from the dialogue is the reasonable argument that anybody who doesn't want their huge share of Federal dollars to keep their states viable should wholly forego them so the states who pay more than they get can use them to create the kind of dynamic culture they desire. It is apparent that all but one (Texas) of the states that pay more in taxes than they receive back in Federal support voted for Obama, and trends toward a dramatically more progressive approach to Government than the Tea Party and New Right states and their representatives.

I say let them go!

The decision can always be changed through the Congress, if they DARE. How Obama proposes this has to be extremely delicate because he actually will have to pretend that he really doesn't want this to happen so that they do it. Maybe he can get Michelle Bachman to come to the White House and bamboozle her to forward the bill through Congress. As a Presidential nominee she might get some traction to get it voted on. It could be called the "America Bill", and all that is asked is that those who want less government intervention, less Federal moneys and taxes, less dictatorial influence over their State's Rights, sign the dotted line.

Oh heaven, how that would be such a precious educational gift to both sides of the argument!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Reluctantly Pulling the Ballot for Obama

These are NOT the reasons I am voting for Obama:
1) He continues to perpetuate the false model of war changing the world constructively. As he kills one Osama Bin Laden after the other he creates fatherless and motherless sons and daughters riddled with confusion, hatred, and little to rely on for guidance other than more violent confusion. And also he ends up supporting a devilishly dangerous culture within America that is eager to finance war at any cost for national interest, private wealth, and territorial schemes and manipulate the most ignorant among us to accomplish these goals. Our foreign policy is almost indistinguishable from President George W. Bush's War on Terror. He has not protected out borders, our ports, not hired more police, nor are our national security computer information lines collaborative yet.
2) In the process of this wrong-minded perpetuation he also spends our national treasure in lives, expends our karma by killing hundreds of thousands in the name of a false concept of Liberty, and our money that could reasonably be spent more constructively to benefit not only America but all beings.
3) In the spending of our national wealth we are left virtually bankrupted of resource and money to facilitate creative ingenuity to relieve ourselves of Middle East ties to oil and natural resource depletion(this includes water and soil).
4) Instead of reliably arguing policy for creative ingenuity Obama has fundamentally acquiesced almost entirely to the most radical expression of the right wing, losing all ground for projects for green jobs, national train lines, and new concepts for engaging foreign aid instead of violence.
5) In the face of economic melt down at the hands of Wall Street Leaders, President Obama has perpetuated this cycle of manipulation for the rich, by the rich, at all costs for riches, at the expense of the least fortunate and ignorant, by keeping these same power players in positions of leadership in the White House. Summers, Geitner, Greenspan, people from GE and CHevrolet, etc...All the while the President suggests to the American people that he cares about the middle class and their pensions and investments. It is a sham. He has initiated  virtually no banking regulation, has put no one in jail, accomplished little by buoying up the car industry...It is ceaselessly saddening to see the cycle of such corruption being positioned in Orwellian fashion by our President as Change we can believe in.
6) I can go on and on, about the capitulation to the Health Care Industry, the lack of spine when confronting weapons sales to Israel and others, his inability to fight for a woman's right to equal pay, for gay marriage rights, and ineptitude to protect our food sources and water from poisonous chemicals and maltreatment.

I will vote for him because we don't have another option. He is far superior to any Republican or Libertarian candidate. If anything, the republicans will perpetuate this American decline even faster with ever more perilous outcome to those who are least fortunate among us. HOW SAD!

We can list a few things Obama has done and continues to do with merit.
1)He has given more federal money to continued education, two yr colleges, and community colleges. 2)His Wall street bail out actually created a small fiscal return despite the fact that, again, no one has been brought up for trial, and unemployment due to the collapse has not been rectified, no penalties strictly enforced or monies seized since. Federal gov't actually made money from the bailouts. Of course so did all the companies.....
3)He continues to be a symbol to many of color all around the world of hard work and achievement being realized. I am afraid he is becoming more of a Dorian Gray figure to my eyes.
4) I think his attempts to befriend and legitimize India as a full working partner in the Modern World is good for everyone.

 I actually agree with certain tenets by some others in the political field, but they mostly are relegated to the fringe, a laughing stock for being too brazen toward our "American way of life" which should and can only be understood as code for manipulation for the rich and powerful at the expense of the least fortunate.

So I reluctantly will pull the ballot for Obama. I will not give money. I will not make phone calls. I will not seriously advocate for him, although I will advocate, very likely, against his opposition and the current fascist regime of the right wing in this country.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Memorial day thoughts

Memorial day is such an important holiday, but we never really take advantage of the opportunity this holiday offers. Here in NYC, Fleet week is upon us, sailors meeting up with families, boys running around in there bright whites looking for some respite from the military drill...And tomorrow there will be remembrances for those who lost their lives in combat. "Lost their lives" is a critical expression that actually is funnily LOST upon most, in my opinion. For what did they give their lives? For whom did they kill and die for? As soon as anybody questions the validity of military action in this country the usual response is to disdainfully argue that my very freedom is being fought for by young men that live and have died. I hate the expression "fought for my freedom." "Freedom" is a catch phrase that largely is meant to express National Interest, almost entirely.

I think we should use this opportunity of Memory to remember what freedom really is, and what a travesty almost all military activity is and what a tragic loss it is to have young men and women killing and dying for such a terrible waste of activity. So little has been accomplished militarily since World War 2. In fact, one could easily argue that almost every person killed since in the name of Freedom has led to less and not more Liberty.

Freedom manifests in remarkable ways, and is almost entirely not based or found upon acquisition of natural resources, money, territory, or killing people.

In the most relative form Freedom is found in established social dignity, being treated with respect, ethical economic consideration and equality. Fewer people would even consider military service if they had greater options for social development in their culture. The majority of servicemen and women sacrifice their lives and their karma killing people for the appearance of social upward mobility. We must as a culture offer greater opportunity for upward mobility through public education and honor the work of those who help service the contemporary needs of the economic middle and upper classes through medical coverage, protection from predatory lenders, and opportunities for children to rise through intellectual prosperity.

Freedom is fundamentally a Liberation from Fear. We must stop our government representatives from mongering fear about The Other. I have heard enough about Islamic Extremism and it's grave threat to our Freedom. We have killed close or more than a million people in the name of such activity, freeing no one from anything, displacing countless families abroad, destroying the mental stability of tens of thousands of our own countrymen and women, and creating profound misunderstanding, disorientation, anger, and committed hatred in the Middle east and here in America. It is truly Orwellian in the way the expression of Freedom had been violated and abused.

Obama has tortured this expression equally as much as George W Bush has in the years he's been President. It is a mockery of truth and Justice and Liberty, Not a proud moment for America.

It's time to REMEMBER why we speak of Freedom and Liberty, what is truly worth LIVING for, not killing and dying for.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Sunshine Poem April 2011

Sky so white
It sears the volume from everything it touches
Rendering the entire landscape below
 into paper whisperings.
My body, included,
Fades into smoke
Rising like a thin plume.
Even closing my eyes cannot keep out the white hot light of the true nature of Being.
It pierces everything
If I let it.
Facing forward and unwavering,
Standing over a pile of my bare bones picked clean by time,
I am a disembodied wing flying into a shadowless light.
The guru calls to me.
"I am here.
Always was
Always will be."
Hello sunshine!

Monday, April 25, 2011

I am tired of hearing people I admire advocate for violence, suggesting it "frees people from oppression" or benefits our tactical National Interests. I am not naive enough to say we don't have energy consumption needs, but I am also not naive enough to believe that we cannot change our course if we wanted to, if our representatives wanted to... If we could get over our unnatural fears that something is going to happen if we changed our focus to exporting constructive aid rather than weapons and violence against innocents and the "Other" we might have a chance to actually benefit beings in this world. But the way our country is going without viable imaginative leadership, we benefit almost no one, and actually harm more people than anyone is prepared to accept.

I remember my teacher, Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche, saying to us to not forget to include ourselves in our prayers to enlighten all sentient beings. We must take care of ourselves as well so we're strong enough to continue our work to help others.

This concept is what is missing from the conversation about war and it's expense on our country and others. We have wholly expended our resources and morality abroad, and there's little left to resurrect this nation from such wholesale loss. I am a believer that this world of ours will change, but I suffer thinking about the terrible hardship ahead of us in this country before any awakening insight will manifest in our people and their leaders.

Why isn't it polled accordingly?
"Would you rather drop 250 $1.4million tomahawk missiles on Libyans or relieve 55,000 seniors from paying more in Medicaid/medicare costs?" Because that's what could be payed for in 3 weeks of fighting in Libya just with Tomahawk missile use.
How about this?
"Would you rather spend $8 trillion over the next ten years on Pentagon spending or eliminate all tax increases for ten years, plus guaranteeing solvency of social security, medicaid and Medicare, and complete energy independence from middle east oil?" Because that's what could be achieved with ten years of Pentagon spending on war abroad.

This is what's wrong with the contemporary conversations of today. There is never a rational talk of reasonable relationship between military spending and national interest in our people's welfare.

I take seniors over tomahawk missiles. I take energy independence over war in the middle east. I prefer education and foreign aid rather than war, weapons profits, and bankruptcy...How about you?

Friday, April 22, 2011

"Masters Of War" Lyrics by the Great Bob Dylan

 "Masters Of War" Lyrics by the Great Bob Dylan

Come you masters of war
You that build the big guns
You that build the death planes
You that build all the bombs
You that hide behind walls
You that hide behind desks
I just want you to know
I can see through your masks.

You that never done nothin'
But build to destroy
You play with my world
Like it's your little toy
You put a gun in my hand
And you hide from my eyes
And you turn and run farther
When the fast bullets fly.

Like Judas of old
You lie and deceive
A world war can be won
You want me to believe
But I see through your eyes
And I see through your brain
Like I see through the water
That runs down my drain.

You fasten all the triggers
For the others to fire
Then you set back and watch
When the death count gets higher
You hide in your mansion'
As young people's blood
Flows out of their bodies
And is buried in the mud.

You've thrown the worst fear
That can ever be hurled
Fear to bring children
Into the world
For threatening my baby
Unborn and unnamed
You ain't worth the blood
That runs in your veins.

How much do I know
To talk out of turn
You might say that I'm young
You might say I'm unlearned
But there's one thing I know
Though I'm younger than you
That even Jesus would never
Forgive what you do.

Let me ask you one question
Is your money that good
Will it buy you forgiveness
Do you think that it could
I think you will find
When your death takes its toll
All the money you made
Will never buy back your soul.

And I hope that you die
And your death'll come soon
I will follow your casket
In the pale afternoon
And I'll watch while you're lowered
Down to your deathbed
And I'll stand over your grave
'Til I'm sure that you're dead.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Good Intentions( a first draft)

Good Intentions

Conventionally, good intentions are understood to be Good. We as individuals and as communities and societies exercise good intentions all the time, but as we’re seeing again and again in this contemporary world of endless distraction with connection (yes, I am blogging this…) how we deal with all the cries and crises of need and stories of war and discontent from all corners of the world demands greater and greater scrutiny. 

We all want to give to so many, and so many of us do individually and as a society. There are obvious conditions by which we should understand our “ethical and moral responsibility” to be engaged locally and internationally, but I am going to attempt to argue for and against certain kinds of engagement that do and do not make sense to me or for the people we have good intentions towards.

Fundamentally, no matter what our good intentions are, no matter how full hearted the activity, there are after-affects to our actions. I give money to a beggar here on the streets of New York, wishing him well, a good meal, something, and later that afternoon he’s bobbing and sinking into oblivion on heroin or whatever. Maybe that high is a good thing, or it most likely isn’t; but it is strikingly NOT what I intended for the man. We encounter this culture of misunderstood intention all the time in our daily lives whether we’re really noticing it or not. We cannot expect good intentions to be received constructively as we would wish. My issue is with intention is always how much damage am I likely doing with the effort I’m trying to make. I’m not going to argue against good-hearted intention entirely, just some.

I think war is the most obvious good intended societal mistake we make all the time.  We buy into the concept that responding to another’s threat to our national interest in oil or other natural resources with violence is a reasonable good intention for the benefit of our fellows. We will kill anyone in the name of our “national interest” which is postured every time as Good. There is very little consideration of the opponent as having their own personal societal intentions for the benefit of their fellows. In fact, we completely alienate our opponents from our minds and hearts in order to make the pulling of the trigger easier. If we were to think of the lives lost in a meaningful way we would be struck with hesitation. This hesitation is meaningful and could be a guide for alternative intention.

I imagine all the time what the world would have looked like had we responded creatively to September 11th’s attack on the World Trade Center instead of with war. War is misconstrued as good intention. It is idealized as honorable when in fact the only honor is in the individual soldier’s misplaced belief in that ideal, so much so that he or she stakes their life in defense of that belief. In itself, giving one’s life for another is the most selfless act, but we must lament the misguidance and abuse of so much of that selfless activity for the benefit of so few. Some 2300 people died in the attacks, and close to or more than a million people were killed in their names. And the resulting chaos of living beings all over the Middle East is incalculable because of our good intentions  .We HAVE to look at war in this way primarily to understand the bastardization and abuse of the concept of Good Intention. We have enlightened no one with this activity. There is more discrimination, hatred, misunderstanding, and poverty of spirit and coin since September 11th entirely because of our Good Intention to respond with war as a reaction to the tragic loss of American lives. A million alternative responses could have been made to improve the lives here, there, and everywhere. Some of them might certainly have created suffering for others, because inevitably all good intentions leave something and somebody out. But I believe strongly almost nothing could have created more suffering than the choices we make and continue to make when we use the Good Intention of War. Iraq is no better off. Afghanistan is no better off. Libya will be no better off now that we’re bombing. America is far worse off than ever. Good intentions ruining the present day.

I feel differently about some Natural Disaster relief as a sign of Good Intention. Of course, relief when someone, when a nation like Japan or Indonesia, or Pakistan, or Chile, or New Orleans, is struck down by a wave or an earthquake, and we see the suffering and untold death of so many, if we can help with money or service….well, I think that’s terrifically good. We don’t know all the ways the money is being used, but we really have to have faith that every little bit helps provide service to the suffering, suffering, disoriented, displaced, people.

On the other hand, I know a lot of people will disagree with me, but if we had more faith in impermanence we certainly wouldn’t allow our fellows to rebuild nuclear plants on or near fault lines, rebuild houses next to volcanoes, or along the ocean, after being squashed or burned or swept away by tidal waves. We think as a society that we should replace what was lost, but that is a misplaced Good Intention. Here in America every year the same houses along the Georgia coast and florida get hit by hurricanes. Who let them rebuild there? New Orleans has been partly rebuilt without any viable infrastructure to prevent flooding from happening again. Why rebuild there in that way? Good Intentions. Many will say “that’s their home.” And I would say with good intention, “you can’t live there anymore. It’s just too dangerous dear friends.” Both Intentions are harmful. The first, and more common reaction to Natural Disaster Loss of property and belonging is to rebuild in exactly the same place. Again and again we see the failure of insight. Not just the individuals suffer if the buildings fall or burn or wash away again. These are communal losses. In my scenario, individuals would suffer with displacement, but the loss of lives, revenue, and suffering would be far less if the quakes, volcanoes, and Tsunamis happen again with no one living in those danger zones. But that will, guaranteed, not happen. We will help the Japanese rebuild along the ocean and beside the fault lines and inevitably we will look up to the heavens stupidly when it happens again. I pray not soon.

Spiritual Good Intentions are also chock full of problems. The desire to bring spiritual Liberation to beings is such a moving and glowing intention, but as is almost always the case, most people are ill-suited, not realized practitioners, to carry this off. As a result, most efforts manipulate people's hearts and minds wrongly, and they disorient them as a result and misrepresent the teachings of great masters, such as the Buddha Siddhartha, Jesus, Mohammad, or Moses all the time. We can see the fruits of their poorly designed good intentions throughout history in the people and cultures they have touched. 

Tibetan Buddhists are always touted as compassionate, peace-loving, but even different schools due to ignorance created violence towards one another in the past thinking themselves more special. Tribal distinctions past from generation to generation maybe led to this as well... The Christians and their history is littered with violence and cruelty engendered by misunderstanding and ignorance, and these actions (so innumerable to mention, but the Inquisition and the whole history of Colonization will do as an example) did little or nothing to perpetuate the real teachings of Christ. The Muslims, too, so readily and rightfully blamed for their violent inclinations and misunderstood and ignorant commitments to the Koran cut their opponents and destroy in the name of Holy Good Intention. This kind of violence is a total bastardization of the scriptures. There's no Heaven for anyone in these activities.

Nothing could reap less than these acts of violence to perpetuate serenity in the hearts of men and women, and fundamentally violence in the name of Good Intention distances beings from their True God and Buddha Nature, doing the exact opposite of what was intended.

Israel is the same in the name of Good Intention. It's policies and intentions have led to the alienation of themselves from the world and misguides it's supporters who whole-heartedly wish for the well-being of Jews in the world into creating weapons and selling them to perpetuate violence and hatred which pulls Jews and non-Jews further and further from morality and human ethic. 

Our President and Representatives claim to protect our Nation's Interests, but their ignorance and misunderstanding of the nature and dimension of Good Intentions leads this country to the brink of wholesale moral and ethical and economic bankruptcy. In the name of National Interest we are at War in three countries spending money we don't have, trying to secure leverage to protect our control of oil in the region, and to protect our people from some unknown threat of nuclear holocaust that currently does not exist. As a result, we are trillions of dollars in debt, incapable of viable reinvestment of money in clean energy opportunity that might really extricate us out of the Middle East, ruining our chances of viable investment in education for our youth who lag behind every meaningful industrialized nation's population, ruining our ability to bring peace of mind to the sick, poor and elderly because we're spending too much defending our national interest abroad,....the list goes on and on. and we see it again in the discussions of Deficit reduction. Instead of intelligently and imaginatively cutting military spending which literally doubles the cost of all other national expense we talk about cutting into entitlements for seniors and investment in new energy technology, cutting into arts education, etc etc... This is truly Idiotic.

I am a broken record... 
Let us make Good Intentions count by refusing all kinds of violence, by refusing to accept short term thinking...let us embrace the nature of Impermanence. Let us have faith in the hearts and goodness of the Other. Let us support those ideas that constructively benefit the most people without violently hurting others or the earth and it's precious non-human beings. If we can't do these things, better to do nothing at all.

a little poem 4/19/11 (inspired by a gift from a dear friend and the Spring's circumstances)

A pencil writing the first word of a poem
(and the last word of a poem)
is like the spring shoots pushing through the soil and stone,
cutting through the leafy detritus of winter...
Each letter spun
stirs a curling green momentum to some unknown becoming.
Each space between words
breathes the resonant promise of fruit and flower...
The writer sows on page what no gardener can cultivate in the most fertile ground
and tends the spindly sprung tendrils
to become the perfect harvest.