Friday, March 24, 2017

The Age of Dissent, the Age of Descend

Last week Donald Trump introduced a 2017 budget that de-funded the National Endowment for the Arts which assists individual artist but also grants monies to non-profits, arts training programs, public arts projects. He isn’t the first president to try and write the NEA and the National Endowment for the Humanities out of existence—that title would go to Ronald Reagan. I love how funding art becomes a political football, something to be booted back and forth.

Of course Hitler loved art. In fact he fancied himself a painter. During his chancellorship he actively collected art, as did many in the Reich, much of it confiscated.

The period before Hitler came to power in 1933 was known as Weimar. Weimar Germany was famous for an explosion in Modernistic expression—expressionism, Dada, cubism and impressionism. Artists such as Paul Klee, Wassily Kandinsky, Otto Dix, and Max Ernst  contributed to the avant-garde movement.

Hitler had stated clearly in ‘Mein Kampf’ where his thoughts lay with regards to modern art: “This art is the sick production of crazy people.” He could have added, SAD.

By 1937 the Nazis had banned what they considered “degenerate” art and instead promoted art which contained racial purity, militarism, and expressed German nationalism. Aryan art. For example jazz was forbidden. A member of a hand-selected panel to determine who was degenerate and who wasn’t, said this: “The most perfect shape…is the steel helmet.” A very literal interpretation.

Of course many of the degenerate artists all happened to be Jewish. In March, 1939, the Berlin Fire Brigade burned about 4000 paintings, drawings and prints which had apparently little value on the international market. Hermann Göring appropriated fourteen of the pieces. A large amount of "degenerate art" by Picasso, Dalí, Ernst, Klee, Léger and Miró was destroyed in a bonfire on the night of July 27, 1942, in the gardens of the Galerie nationale du Jeu de Paume in Paris. What wasn’t burned was auctioned off in Switzerland.

What became of these deemed degenerates? Some went into exile. Klee left for Switzerland, Kandinsky went to Paris, Kokoschka left for England while Grosz emigrated to the United States of America. Some decided to paint unpeople landscapes, some committed suicide. Those who remained in Germany were forbidden to work at universities and were subject to surprise raids by the Gestapo in order to ensure that they were not violating the ban on producing artwork; Nolde secretly carried on painting, but using only watercolors (so as not to be betrayed by the telltale odor of oil paint).

I take solace in this one thought as Trump seeks to destroy America’s artists and artistic expression: I’d rather be unfunded than funded by someone who values reality TV and alt-facts over truth and beauty and diversity in expression. Trump would not recognize art if it exploded in his face.
Cover of the exhibition program: Degenerate music exhibition, Düsseldorf, 1938

Cover of the exhibition program: Degenerate Art exhibition, 1937. The word "Kunst", meaning art, is in scare quotes

1912 woodcut by  Emil Nolde The Prophet
1,052 of Nolde's paintings were removed from German museums, more than any other artist.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Stephen King Trolls Trump Wiretap with Horror Story

Here's the best way to fight: with art

Stephen King Trolls Donald Trump's Wiretap Claim With Hair-Raising Horror Story

Mar 06, 2017
After President Donald Trump took to Twitter Saturday to accuse Barack Obama of wiretapping Trump Tower during the 2016 election, Stephen King trolled POTUS by sharing his latest horror story.
In a series of three tweets, the author penned a short thriller mocking the allegations, seeming to ridicule the fact that Trump provided no evidence backing up his claims. "Not only did Obama tap Trump's phones, he stole the strawberry ice cream out of the mess locker," King wrote. "Obama tapped Trump's phones IN PERSON! Went in wearing a Con Ed coverall. Michelle stood guard while O spliced the lines. SAD!"
But it was the twist ending that really took the cake: "Trump should know OBAMA NEVER LEFT THE WHITE HOUSE! He's in the closet! HE HAS SCISSORS!"

Friday, March 17, 2017

Clouds of Sils Maria

Clouds of Sils Maria
Olivier Assayas, Director
Movie Review

This was a very theatrical weekend for me:
Hamilton, several videos checked out of the library, and the Oscars (what happened???)

In between I tried to recover. I read the playbill and wondered . . . about the role of the understudy. How does one suddenly transformed, step into, substitute one role for the other? The bi-polar ability to code-switch, assume a while new skin. Which brings me my review of the Clouds of Sils Maria, a fascinating, multi-layered meta film, a house of mirrors about roles, acting, and the skin we’re in. How do the old (older) navigate a changing world? How do the young (younger) step into what are assumed roles and play a new part? What is the tangled, transforming, even wispy foggy, territory in between?

Nothing in this film was spelled out for the viewer=refreshing. We weren’t “told” who the villains were. All the characters were vulnerable, pushed to “act” even in the midst of sudden grief.

Other reviewers have pointed out real-life parallels between the script and Internet parables—which brings me to another fascinating facet of the movie: the role of landscape, specifically a certain valley in the Swiss Alps where a cloud formation known locally as Sils Maria, rushes in from Italy over a pass in the form of a serpent, (A phenomena that is a harbinger of changing weather, a front coming through, presumably “bad” weather.) and, particularly, the Internet. Social media, YouTube, and Google all play a role, a subversive, pervasive serpentine, entangling role in the actor’s everyday lives.

Clouds of Sils Maria is a commentary on how we act/react in our prescribed roles, whatever they may be. Because we change and switch them often. We never stay the same, the person we think we are, the people we think we love, this moment we are in is constantly evolving.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

New Work Out

Check out 2 new stories:

Minola Review:


A Note in the Lobby

“It has come to our attention that certain residents are not curbing their dog.”

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Submit: Old Time Radio

Hippocampus Magazine and Press is requesting true stories inspired by the heyday of radio* for its forthcoming anthology, Air.

We’re looking for behind-the-scene stories about small town radio stations. We’re seeking personal stories about die-hard radio fans. We want to hear from (current/former) jocks, from program directors, from engineers, from the sales team, from ancillary characters like record reps and concert promoters—tales from every corner of the radio station and from everyone radio ever reached.


Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Love vs Power

Love vs Power

In a world of vitriol, compassion is protest
In a world of contempt, respect is protest
In a world of de-humanizing, empathy is protest
In a world of despair, hope is protest
In a world of chaos, grounding is protest
In a world of panic, calm is protest
This is the way that I protest.

If you'd like, come join me.
--Crystal Chan, author of  Bird

You need to completely rethink your life.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Hillbilly Magic

My sister and I used to play hillbilly magic, a kind of facile slight-of-hand. Where nothing magical actually happened except what you chose to believe.

It consisted of holding two fingers together and the other person “slicing” through them. Or making two interconnecting Os with fingers and trying to separate them. Pointless games, no doubt performed when entirely bored. Like sitting in a waiting room with nothing to read or in the back seat of the car on a long car trip.

No matter what I did she always won. An invitation by Nancy to play hillbilly magic automatically stacked the deck against me. And, why did I play? I guess because I wanted to be with her, even if it meant playing stupid games.

Sometimes she would throw in Three Stooges moves. Such as if I did manage to slice through her fingers she’d punch me in the arm. Again, if I knew it was coming why did I stand there? Maybe because I believed that someday it wouldn’t happen, that that was the trick. That I’d happily be fooled by the thing I expected not actually occurring. A kind of reverse logic.

After my father died and Nancy told me I’d been written out of the will I didn’t want to believe her. Believe that she’d orchestrated this last-minute amendment to my father’s will. It wasn’t about the money; it was about the idea—that she’d tricked me one last time. She and my brother ended up inheriting Dad’s estate.

That was five years ago and I’d almost managed to forget about it. Since then I’ve had limited correspondence with her (my own choice), but the other day she sent me a package in the mail. I studied the handwritten return address contemplating not opening it. In the end I did. Inside was a spoon carved out of wood with a note, saying it was a left-handed spoon, since I was left handed. I turned it over and over. It didn’t seem any different than any other spoon.