Monday, February 29, 2016


Sorry.  can't help it.

Louis CK gave about the only really honest testimony of the night--in support of documentaries.

Chris Rock made his valid points with persistent, funny and scathing commentaries.

I had to about gag when Leonardo di Caprio on the stage he was on in the city he was in preaching about the culture of greed.

The staging, the wardrobes, the jewelry, the 24K gold-dipped statuettes, the celebrity gift bags, the food all probably cost more than the GNP of a third world country.

How can TV viewers possibly be interested year after year in this parade of self-congratulatory, self-promoting award shows?

Instead of these tedious thank you speeches on awards shows, why can they televise the Nobel Prize speeches? Don't say it. I know.

Sunday, February 28, 2016


How can Donald Trump build such a following when:

He has no real policies or experience in crucial areas of presidential responsibility

He treats his appearances like they are reality shows

He is skilled at dragging the dialogue to its lowest forms

He uses his audiences to feed his ego

He has manipulated the media and his opponents into playing his game

He can do anything despite previous failures and no evidence of expertise

He accepts the support of Chris Christie

He has no problem embracing low class behavior

His values are all based on money and personal achievement.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Sermonette Commandment X

Commandment X:   Thou shalt not fuck with art.

Blunt and crude? Yes. But art in American culture is decor, backdrop for the hard sell, frivolous, a suspect livelihood, a mysterious kind of creativity, an easily disposable component of the educational curriculum, an investment option, a status symbol, something to hang on walls and then be ignored, a prop and more. Still, it speaks for culture and endures.

So don't fuck with art. Live with it and be transformed by it.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Sermonette Commandment VII

Commandment VII:  Thou shalt not steal from another artist, unless it be honestly.

Art is not my art or your art. It is culture's art since it is nurtured by, supported by, propelled by culture. Creativity is not pure originality, but rather a reconfiguration of previous creative ideas into new ones. Creativity is, in the end, a communal and cultural engine.

No one should steal from another artist for personal gain, but only to enrich the creative pool.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Sermonette Commandment IX

Commandment IX:  Do not call art that which is not art.

As I noted in an earlier sermonette, all art is really art waiting to be art. Though it's generous to call all things art, that dilutes the meaning of art. To reserve judgment and to discriminate in judgment is not arrogance. Rather it is a test of your own standards and a crucial component in the process to form a definition of art that you must live by.

Be generous in the acceptance of the effort and the sincerity and the passion. of anything that presents as art.  But be demanding of the way in which the art reaches deep. Here is where art gives generously of its struggle, effort and meaning.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Sermonette Commandment VIII

Yes, I have lost Commandment VII so will proceed to Commandment VIII while I search.

Commandment VIII: Thou shalt not lie in thine art.

The integrity of art lies in the integrity of the artist. Authenticity in art lies with authenticity in the artist. The artist's journey to clarify a vision is filled with failures, false starts and untruths. These are expected but not intentional.

A lie is intentional, driven by suspect motivations or lacking courage. Lying to the viewer is lying to the self, which is the first source of art.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Sermonette Commandment VI

Commandment VI: Thou shalt give every work of art the time it deserves.

People stroll through art museums and galleries glancing and chatting. Reading the text panels takes longer than looking at the art. The pace of the world too often determines the pace in the gallery.

Some art gives up all it has to say in a matter of seconds. Some art reveals itself in time and in layers in conversation with the viewer. Some art, through time and culture, never depletes itself.

Time with art is time with yourself. Give art the time its deserves.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Sermonette Commandment V

Commandment V: Thou shalt not kill the spirit of art.

Art is the life energy of culture. Art is the voice of the human self. Art is the conscience of us humans. Art is the maker of beauty--from the decorative to the sublime. Art is the lens through which we learn to see ourselves and the world more deeply.

Culture embraces art and tries to kill it at the same time. Culture doesn't know what to make of art. Culture dances around art in the educational process. Culture wants comfort and investment return from art, something art cares little about.

We kill art when we try to love it in all the wrong ways. We kill art when we kidnap it and hold it hostage. We kill art when we deny its spirit.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Sermonette Commandment IV

Commandment IV: Honor the mothers and fathers of thine art.

The river of art flows by us. We dive in, enticed by its waters, its pull. We can swim and play as we like, but we make headway because of its current.

We must honor those artists who have influenced us, our mothers and fathers. Naming them, yes. But also in the way their struggles, their integrity, their commitment to art are alive in us.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Sermonette Commandment III

Commandment III: Thou shalt not deny thine own artistic self.

The art objects at first seem to be what matters. But in the end, they are only the markers left behind along what matters most--the journey. This is not a journey of self-indulgence, but a journey of self-awareness. It is a journey of engaging the world to find the self in it.

Art must challenge the world while it challenges the self, probing deeply and fearlessly into both. For the artistic self can only be true if it is embedded in the experience of the world. To deny the artistic self is to deny the very thing the world asks of you.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Sermonette Commandment II

Commandment II: Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's art.

Brothers and sisters in art:

Artists steal and borrow from one another all the time. This enriches the gene pool of creativity. Artists form groups, write manifestos, exhibit together in shameless conections manifestations of style, form and content. This is the organic nature of art.

In this way envy is a positive force for creativity. Envy energizes the drive to create when it comes from the honest recognition of power and excellence in another's work of art. But the dark side of envy can be poisonous. It can eat away at one's own vision and creativity. It destroys in oneself the very thing it envies in another.

This is the warning of Commandment II.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Holy Church of Art Sermonette on Commandment I

This begins a series of Sermonettes on the Ten (Art) Commandments

Commandment I: Thou shalt not worship false gods of art

Brothers and sisters in art:
Anything is art, but not everything is art. We must be generous and have grace when we allow visual expression to be art. For expression is the first step to wisdom. The door to art should be open to all who aspire and al who speak visually.

But we fail art if we only ask little of it. We must expect it to be enduring, to penetrate deep, to converse meaningfully with its viewers, to transform. These attributes are not those of the false gods of art.

And this is why Walter Darby Bannard's phrase, "art waiting to be art," has relevance. Anything can be art waiting to be art, but not everything will meet the test of time and culture.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Donald Trump

At first, I was amazed and confused that Donald Trump could sustain a first place standing in poll after poll.

But then I realized how many people out there watched Marriage Boot Camp, listened to talk radio, wore earbuds that poured crappy popular music into their heads, watched Two and a Half Men, followed Justin Bieber on Twitter and had a keen interest in Beyonce's outfit at the Super Bowl half time show.

Now it all makes sense. God bless America.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Sex in America

Americans often have trouble talking openly and honestly and in a healthy way about sex because they don’t know how to deal with the realities of human sexuality.  Listen to the sexual humor on television, to the treatment of sex in movies and in TV dramas. Look at sex in marketing and advertising. It’s really just fantasy and glorified titillation, Puritanism still alive and kicking. It’s adolescent lust warmed over and over. It’s romance that never grows up. And it’s all crafted to work on our basic instincts and desires.

Beautiful people peel down and go at it, wake up the next morning in love forever or maybe just tired of one another already. Cheerleaders for professional football teams work for pennies in scanty outfits. Preteens express their emerging femininity by doing bump and grind routines in public performance. Having sex is a key sign of manhood, even if such men are teens still living at home. The sexual mentors of young people are young people…or celebrities. Sexting turns a teen into a high school porn star.

Sex is put to work to sell auto products, toothpaste and mouthwash, clothing, laundry products and even sex. Sexual allure sells, even if it’s constructed from silicone, botox, cosmetic surgery, eating disorders and airbrushing.

The spectrum of human sexuality goes from pure lust to the most intimate sexual experience by which two persons seek to become physically and spiritually one. A sexual experience can fall anywhere on this spectrum. And in a human life, will likely fall in many places on this spectrum. And here is where it becomes essential to understand sex in terms of human sexuality. Not encounters, but mature growth.

And only in this context can sex learn to become love.

Monday, February 15, 2016


The chocolates have been gobbled up, rose petals fall on the table, the romantic candle light dinner is just a memory. So now what?

Beware of PVSD--Post Valentine's Stress Disorder.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

So what is love?

Love is chemistry, touch, serendipity, disappointment, endurance, nourishment, longing, affirmation, irrationality, magic, molecules, obsession, romance, hormones, innocence, culture, wisdom and deceit.

Love is energy, action, pining, holding, letting go, persisting, flowering, becoming more human, losing yourself, gaining yourself, seeing a different world, giving up and getting back, reveling in being, growing into the complete self.

Love is in a hug and in an orgasm. Love is in being and in doing. Love is in the presence and in the absence. Love is in the first cry of the newborn and in the last whisper of the dying. Love is in the good act in the face of evil.

All that said, we don't really know what love is or we would stop writing poems, stories and songs about it. But if you chase it down relentlessly, it reveals itself and gifts you with self-revelation.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Love waves

Gravity waves reach us after the collision of two black holes and billions of light years.

If only two black holes would suck up all hate, collide and cover us in waves of love.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Gravity waves

What the hell are gravity waves? Well, they are not going to make your coffee taste different or or help you figure out what love is. In fact, they are the slightest murmer of a celestial event that happened a billion light years ago.

So what's the big deal? One human mind, weaving the threads of thought of previous great minds reconfigured the universe and predicted gravity waves 100 years ago. Scientists who followed and put their faith in Einstein worked intensely and waited.  Yesterday brought preliminary confirmation.

This is an amazing human achievement. Yet it will go lalrely unnoticed while we throw award after award at celebrities, giving them our time, attention and adulation.

Thursday, February 11, 2016


Forget morality, ethics, religion. How much money and human resources do we waste to deal with hate, abuse of power, fear and insecurity? Who benefits from circumstances? Who's complicit? Is this the bottom line of the human condition?

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Valentine's gift giving for women

Of course gender equality means that Valentine's Day isn't for the ladies to receive the love. So ladies, here are some suggestions for Valentine's giving.

1.   You buy the roses and candy and show up at his office with them.

2.   On Valentine's Day morning, while you're both still in bed, make a grand gesture of tearing up the       latest honey-do list.

3.   Turn nagging for a week into gentle persuasion.

4.   Suggest that you both agree to spend no money on one another on Valentine's Day.

4.   Pick up all his dirty clothes from the floor on Valentine's Day and smile about it.

5.   Let him pick a day which is totally devoted to sports.

6.   Go to a mindless action-adventure movie with him.

7.   Tape "I love you" on every article of clothing he'll wear that day.

8.   Call up his mother, and tell her you love her.

9.   Dress and act like a 50's housewife when he gets home from work.

10.  For the entire day, tell him only positive things about himself.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Valentine's gift giving for men

If you thin about, the whole business of roses, wine and  candy is just marketing to sell those products. Marketing creates the expectations and we are shamed into meeting them.

So what about these gift suggestions:

1.   Put the toilet seat down for a whole week.

2.   Pick up your dirty socks for a whole week.

3.   Call her on the hour every waking hour to tell her you love her.

4.   Wash the dishes without being asked.

5.   Stay at home with her once instead of going out with the guys.

6.   Don't whine during or after a chick flick.

7.   Make her some candy.

8.   For the next five times, remember to stop at the store on the way home.

9.   Do some enthusiastic snuggling at night.

10.  Remind her of why you love her.

Monday, February 8, 2016


Some people never grow up.

Some people grow up but never grow out.

Some people grow out but never grow beyond.

Some people grow beyond but never bring beyond back into themselves.

Sunday, February 7, 2016


Some people go to church on Sunday so they don't have to think about God during the week.

I think of God during the week so I don't have to go to church on Sunday.

Saturday, February 6, 2016


Sometimes you just want to be normal. Warts, quirks, idiosyncracies, goofy walks, imperfect bodies, small transgressions, a dysfunctional family, an obsession. Nobody is normal, and that's what makes us all human.

Friday, February 5, 2016

Smarter than...

If you are an artist, early in your career you are smarter than your art. It is still gaining skill and trying to figure out how to use its language and what to say.

Then you come to a point where you and your art compete with one another for who's the smartest. Sometimes you tell it what to do; sometimes it tells you what to do.

But in your maturity, your art is always smarter than it. It always digs deeper for meaning. It tells you and its audience things you never knew you knew.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Fuck justice

Fuck justice. I need to break the rules when it benefits me.
Fuck peace. I want to kill the people who get in my way.
Fuck equality. I'm better than anyone else.
Fuck the poor. They're responsible for their own condition.
Fuck the children. They just drain the society of its time and resources.
Fuck integrity. It's just for losers.
Fuck the serious artists. They just cause trouble.

From the beginning of history with kings, lords, plutocrats, oligarchs, dictators, czars, the best in human beings have been fighting the attitudes above. Sometimes I wonder if we have made any real progress.

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

The hug

The woman hugged her husband. He picked up the child and gave him a big kiss. The child helped up his little classmate when she fell. Hi little classmate grabbed the hand of the new student and led her to the bathroom. The new student kissed the hand of his teacher. His teacher shared her lunch with her colleague. Her colleague stayed after school to tutor the Hispanic student. The Hispanic student gave a little doll to his new friend. His new friend gave it to the woman who bought him a candy. The woman who bought him a candy hugged her husband.

The bullet

The bullet went through the brain of the Swiss chef, and ricocheted off to Afghanistan where it tore through the body of a 10-year-old former child soldier. With persistent speed and a sure trajectory it took four lives in a murder suicide. Then paralyzed a small black child in Chicago, killed an innocent bystander in New York, a policeman, a third grader, a homeless man, and it's not finished, not slowed down by any means.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016


Isn't your story or mine or the story of any human being worth telling? What would seven billion stories tell us about suffering, faith, inevitable failure, courage, longing, greed, justice and the bottom line of being human?

Monday, February 1, 2016

Traditional values

Republican candidates are whipping up crowds with talk of traditional American and religious values. Anyone who grows up with a value system as a moral guide must recognize that it is a only a guide and not a straight jacket, especially a straight jacket that you want to put on others.

Often personal decisions are made, seemingly under the banner of traditional values, but are really based on discrimination, self-interest and rigid ideologies. A thinking adult makes his/her life decisions informed by his/her upbringing, but from deep within the authentic self, formed by serious thought and experience.

Peel off all the historical, cultural, political and ideological layers, and what's left is one of the most traditional of values,  "Love one another." That's enough to grapple with for a lifetime.