Thursday, December 31, 2015

Eternity

The wise know
Eternity is always at hand.
As here as a kiss or a bowl of cereal
Or a warm bath.

But the eyes must have courage
To see
What the heart will always
Demand of them.

Then once the smallest bit of eternity
Is glimpsed,
You see that God
In yourself.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

A big question

Have you ever asked yourself a big question? I mean a really big question.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Bill and Mary

Dear Bill,
It’s not that I’m turned off by body hair. It’s just where yours just happens to be.
Love,
Mary

Dear Mary,
I can’t help it. Your mother’s meatloaf does taste like a combination of Spam and plaster.
Love,
Bill

Dear Bill,
Sometimes I think that you like Bud Lite more than me.
Love,
Mary

Dear Mary,
Please. It’s been more than two weeks. Please?
Love,
Bill








Monday, December 28, 2015

Introducing Bill and Mary

Dear Bill,
I like your mother mostly, but she uses “fuck” an awful lot.
Love,
Mary

Dear Mary,
I say “No!” to cosmetic surgery. A handful is enough for me. Save the money to pay off your student loans.
Love,
Bill

Dear Bill,
Did we have sex last night? I can’t remember.
Love,
Mary

Dear Mary,
Who hates me most? Your mother or your father?
Love,
Bill

Dear Bill,
Your mother called today to remind you to bring the urine sample. She said to make sure the cap is on tight this time.
Love,
Mary

Dear Mary,
I think those 3 credits in Ritual Tribal Dancing should transfer. If you can’t find the course description, couldn’t you just do a few steps for the Dean?
Love,
Bill




Sunday, December 27, 2015

Our voices

As artists, we find our voices to find ourselves.

We craft our voices to reach our to others.

We struggle with our own doubts to strengthen our voices.

We protect the integrity of our voices to see that they endure.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Information...

We are adrift in a sea of information, full of contradiction and confusion. So we work to find knowledge in it.

But knowledge is not enough. It comes in chunks. So we seek wisdom to give us the big picture, to see the whole.

We are satisfied for a while. Then we realize that the truth is we don't really know anything.

This is the final contradiction, knowing everything and knowing nothing.

Friday, December 25, 2015

Christmas spirit

Checklist
to make sure I've gotten into the Christmas spirit

--put myself on my Christmas list as a reward for just being me

--eat, eat, eat, drink drink, drink

--try not to miss any Christmas parties

--make sure to see the zombie nativity scene

--try not to nod off during the Nutcracker

--spike the eggnog

--dress in Santa wear for my facebook picture

--buy a special gift for my pet

--did I forget anything

My wish for a season of meaning for all who take time to blog with me.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Life

Life is the thing. Not my life or your life but life. Recognizing this is is what launches love into the world. Failing to recognize this opens us to the worst in our selves.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Art?

Human beings have been making art for millenia upon millenia. It comes in almost unlimited shapes and forms and media. It speaks to everything we do and think and dream. It represents the person and the culture in its present and its future existence.

But in all of its diversity and functions, what makes all of it art? What is the common element? Is it in its substance, its mystery, its transformative power, its function as a mirror, its role in culture? Is it like John Paul Stephens' description of pornography: I can't define it but I know it when I see it.

Is it simply a language beyond words?

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Assault weapons

After the killings in San Bernardino, members of Congress were quick to question and blame government officials because of the failure of background checks and security procedures.

But the truth is that all the Internet exchanges and social media posts in world could not produce that horrible event with access to assault weapons.

That is the making of Congress and the responsibility of Congress in this gruesome mess.

Monday, December 21, 2015

New product...just in time for Christmas

We all know a young person whose fashion statement comes in the form of jeans hovering below the butt.  This leaves a lot of unused space.

So just i time for Christmas  giving, we introduce buttbag jeans. Sewn sturdily into the space below the butt cheeks is a butt pack designed to hold food, beverages and school supplies. It's comfortable, durable and waterproof. Buttbag jeans are affordably priced and come in all popular styles and sizes.

These jeans are safe too. After all, who's going to grab at your crotch to rob you?

For more information or to order, go to our website: buttbagjeans.com

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Art waiting

In a short essay titled, "On Criteria" Walter Darby Bannard talks about "art waiting to be art." Once art has been made it has to prove itself worthy. To my mind, most of the works of art from the mid-20th century on are waiting to be art.

They have been supported by theory, survived the politics of art, found their way into museums and had their monetary value affirmed by collectors and art auctions. In the long run, none of this necessarily matters. When they have made themselves meaningful for generation after generation, then they will have earned the name "art."

Heroes

The next time the media throws Justin Bieber at you, think of the man who lost his life saving his colleague in San Bernadino. Next time the media replays an NFL touchdown dance, think of the 15-year-old football player who died protecting two young girls. The next time the  media pokes you in the eyes with Kim Kardashian, remind yourself of "Mama," who for decades worked to heal her neighborhood.

For the media, all the time in the world is available to celebrities. Heroes, if they're get a minute or two, are lucky.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Watch a child

Watch a child. You are watching yourself. The self being formed. The self before memory. The self before culture. The self before the tyranny of naming. The self you will become again.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Being you

A flood of messages comes at us each day powered by corporate advertising. Consume piles of external things to make yourself better dressed, better looking, prepared for every occasion, always ready to give yourself the things you deserve just because you are you.

Celebrities are celebrated because they are celebrities so they can be hired to sell you the things that will make you feel like a celebrity. The beautiful you. The striking you. The you that will turn heads when you enter the room. The you everyone else wants to be.

In our culture all of this drowns out the enduring messages of the inner you. The you that is not driven by desire. The you that wants to give not take. The you that needs no adornment.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Stats

We are driven to measure everything so that we feel we understand. But the answer to our problems is  not in statistics. The answer is in the person.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Taking on the world

The world will come flying at you, and you have no control over it. Still, you can have an impact on it. But you must develop a philosophy, a vision, a framework, a mythology that is supple, humanistic, spirit-filled and based in a mature understanding of love. If you do this, the world will open up to you as glorious, absurd, radiant and eminently worth living in.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Scenes I'd like to see in TV land


--MTV music video producer:
How about this? The pop star is singing at the piano, which is sitting in the middle of a raft full of Syrian refugees. As they approach shore they see a fire. When they hit the shore it turns out to be a group of young beautiful blondes in bikinis roasting marshmallows.
The refugees carry the piano ashore and begin to dance, explaining that in fact they are survivors from a capsized cruise boat off the California coast.
The singer finishes his song and begins to roast marshmallows for everyone while they continue their frenzied dance.

--Assistant producer:
I love it.


--Police detective Dave is talking to his partner, Jane:
I don’t know why they gave me such an ugly partner. You’re overweight, you have small tits and mousey brown hair. But what the hell, let’s have sex anyway.


--Head writer on a crime show:
OK, we need a change. This episode we kill off the blondes and the hunks and save all the men with potbellies, bald heads and bad fitting suits.


--Prophetess to Lovely Maiden:
He’ll ride in on a white horse. He’ll have big muscles, greasy hair, a large bloody sword, a few big scars on his face and a loin cloth made of yak hair. In an instant, you’ll know he’s the one for you.

Lovely Maiden:
Sigh.



Monday, December 14, 2015

Art

I like art best when it's generous, smart, honest and hits me in the gut.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Boundaries

Artists of the past had to produce work of substance and meaning within boundaries of style and cultural expectations. Now artists have to produce work of substance and meaning without boundaries of style and cultural expectations.

I'm not sure which is harder.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

A new plan to pay college athletes

A new means of paying college football players has been proposed. To shirt legal and NCAA rules, some have suggested that players could be paid through monies raised through crowd sourcing of fans. The fact that this would be the wrong to be righted says something disturbing about American values.

Colleges and universities squirm under the shady ethics that money brings. School presidents routinely pay themselves fractions of what they pay the football coach. Presidents jump when bigwigs want a coach fired.

Sports facilities are built when other priorities are clear because that’s where the money is. One more time values skewed by money. Many serious, hardworking student scholars never get the perks and the life preservers thrown that football players do. And these scholars came to college to actually get a degree.

Obviously, I am against this latest and any plan to pay college athletes. I’ll share a story that I rarely tell. As a student at Tulane University, I majored in mathematics, minored in chemistry, studied three languages as well as art history. I was Phi Beta Kappa, won Woodrow Wilson and National Science Foundation Fellowships, got a scholarship to Harvard for summer study, was the top student in mathematics and won the Dean’s Medal for highest GPA in the College of Arts and Sciences. I went on to get graduate degrees and had a career of teaching of 45 years. In college I put in at least as many hours on my work as any athlete did on studies, practice and play.

There’s a small, engraved piece of metal on a small plaque with my name on it in some obscure office on the Tulane campus. That’s all okay with me. But it’s still hard to believe in the integrity of education when I pass the athletic trophy case.


We can find the football player on the way to the NFL, but we can’t find the scholar on the way to the Nobel Prize.

Donald Trump is a lesson

Donald Trump is a lesson:

A lesson in how to expose the ugly underbelly of American voters.

A lesson in how uninformed American voters can be.

A lesson in the poison of an ego out of control.

A lesson in how media trolling for attention can be manipulated.

A lesson in fear mongering.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Ignorance

We're all ignorant at some point in our lives. That's forgivable. To choose to stay ignorant, that's
unforgivable.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

If you were God...

If you were God looking down on humanity as it is today, would you:

(a) send a half dozen asteroids in the direction of earth

(b) scratch your head and heave a big sigh

(c) stock up on virgins

(d) send another messiah

(e) pop some popcorn, call in the angels and saints, and just watch it all happen

(f) other

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Football

I’m not much of a football fan, but I watch it occasionally. Still when I do watch or think about football, thee are the things that come to mind for me—in no particular order.

If I was paid millions of dollars to manage 50 young people, was given a support staff and a handsome budget to recruit and given top notch facilities, I could produce a world class set of artists.

The president of the university is responsible for the entire university, the head football coach only for a program for a bunch of men. But the head coach makes multiples of salary of the president.

The 6 o’clock news gives a third of its time to sports. During football season, it’s sports chit-chat, interviews full of clich├ęs, and hype of high school quarterbacks.
Apparently scientists, social activists, artists, designers, etc. have nothing newsworthy to say on a regular basis.

Football is really entertainment. Scholarship money is showered on these players along with generous other perks. Is the same money available for academic stars?

College stadiums are full of fans who tailgate, consume alcohol, watch the game, consume alcohol. My guess behaviors are tolerated at these games that would never  be tolerated at parties on campus.

Many fans who attend games, purchase attire and paraphernalia, fill their homes with team stuff and affirm loyalty to a team, never even went to that school.

The NFL is the NRA of sports. It is given monopoly status, so pays unfairly low taxes. We now have 5 days/nights of football per week. Cities get scammed into building billion dollar stadiums at taxpayer expense, stadiums that get used infrequently during the year.

Football players get exorbitant salaries, gushing celebrity and the chance to make more money selling shoes, deodorant, underwear and more.

The disproportionate attention and admiration given to these players throws out of balance our culture’s sense of values.

Fans are supposed to root for the home team. We call these teams our own. But do the players live in our town, invest in our town and give back in our town?

To me, it’s not the game but the ripples of craziness that happen when it plops into our lives.

Coaches will talk about the character building aspects of football, like teamwork and discipline. But what about win at all costs, drugs, big egos, cheating.

The ability of the NFL and the NCAA to compromise their integrity when big money calls.

Compare the high school budgets and trophy cases (if they exist ) for the arts and for football.

Anyway, enough.


Tuesday, December 8, 2015

ISIS vs. NRA

The brutal murders perpetrated by radicalized Muslims resulted in the American response of fear, increased gun purchases and reactions against all Muslims by the likes of Donald Trump.

But look at the reality. These radicalized Muslims are a very small proportion of all Muslims. The number of Americans killed in these terrorist attacks is noticeably below the number of Americans killed in American streets and homes by lone gunmen and gangs and in suicide and murder-suicide attempts. The odds are probably higher that and American could get killed by another American than by a radical Muslim.

ISIS and perverted ideology brainwashed those radicalized. But to me, the NRA has to accept culpability in the gun deaths of Americans. It has a long history of brainwashing under the guise of Second Amendment rights and of bullying and buying U.S. Congressmen.

Should anyone have an assault rifle so a few can use them recreationally? Should access to guns be unfettered so a few can plan and execute mass shootings? Do we really want the citizenry armed to prevent a military takeover of the government? Are we safer knowing ordinary and untrained citizens will jump into a gun battle to save us? Are our children safer in classrooms with armed teachers.

If we try to solve these complex problems by knee-jerk fear, we will only fail.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Black lives matter

I'm not black, but I grew up in the South and I've been around the block a few times and I keep up on the world's injustices.

Yes, black lives matter.

But black education matters, and black families, black-on-black crime, black churches, black violence, black dignity, black churches and black roles models.


Every social problem in this country is everyone's problem, and every effective solution is everyone's solution.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

in joke

Art that is not much more than an in-joke is really tiresome.

desire, fear, duty

Joseph Campbell identifies three things that keep individuals from reaching their full potential: desire, fear and duty.

But these are three things that I think prevent America from reaching its full potential.

Desire: Capitalism exerts itself extensively to make us desire things we don't really want or need. It's Christmas. We're thinking of spending a lot and hoping to get a lot. We have to spend wildly to save the economy. We get crazed for bargains. We get caught up in the Christmas spectacle, not the Christmas message. We give stuff, not ourselves.

Fear: Another mass shooting, another spike in the sale of guns. Though the actual chance of being gunned down is low for each of us, we must be armed and ready, whether we are in a park, at work or in a bar. Fear keeps on the lookout everywhere. Fear makes any unknown into Satan. We cower, when we should educate ourselves about any perceived enemy. WE should demonstrate what courage really is.

Duty: Duty is complacency. It's the other's job. Duty is blind patriotism. Duty is rigidly towing the party line. Educate yourself. Think for yourself. Be an active problem solver.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

3 corrosive words

If I could get rid of 3 words in the English language today because they are so corrosive, I would pick
fuck, cute and boring.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Get out of the damn white box.

Though contemporary art openings may be glittering social affairs attracting many people, the next day and the day after that and the day after that, the galleries are virtually empty. It's almost as if these works of art are in prisons with few visitors or are too precious to leave their sanctums.

Design and marketing go where the people are. They go after the people to make their case. They don't assume, they appeal.

While the strategies and goals of contemporary art and contemporary art won't necessarily be the same, I don't see how contemporary art can simple get by on its cache. It must make a case for its practitioners as socially and culturally connected, as seeking a larger and more diverse audience and as being experts whose wisdom should be sought.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

I have a question

President Obama, like many people I know, is mixed race, but is called "black." Does that mean that black is the impurity or that black is so powerful it dominates?

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

7 billion people

7 billion people on earth right now, and this is how we live and behave. In the blink of fan eye, there will be 9 billion people on earth. What then?