Friday, August 12, 2016

Art for Art's Sake, Money for Chrissakes

There used to be a simple axiom .
Become the best at whatever you do, and the world is your oyster.
But just like most of those old-time axioms in this day and age, they’ve turned out to smell like week-old fish.
Now, if you take photographs for a living and don’t work at a Penney’s photo studio, the brass ring for steady and lucrative employment has always been cashing checks from “National Geographic” or “Sports Illustrated.”
To borrow the song lyric, that was the tops, that was the Tower of Pisa.
But somehow, being the best doesn’t seem to matter much anymore.
Recently it was reported that SI just canned its entire photography staff. And Nat Geo has, for years, employed only freelance – that’s paid per assignment – shutterbugs.
Welcome to America, 2016, where being the best means that if you’re willing to put up with enough garbage, red tape and empty promises, you might, every so often, get a decent – but rarely the best – paycheck.
The art of photography, along with all of the creative arts, have officially been turned over to the bean counters.
And that, true believers, is never a good thing.
Oh sure, folks are still willing to pay top dollar for doctors, quarterbacks and iphones.
But the arts?
Nah, we’ll wait for the DVD.
So it don’t matter if you paint like Picasso, write like Hemingway or snap that shutter like Ansel Adams.
It’s bottom line time, and that can only mean something positive if you’re the guy signing the check.
If you’re on the artistic, creative side of things, I believe you’d best get used to the bottom line. Or, worse yet, the unemployment line.
Bean counters, you see, don’t give a dump about how good something is painted, written or photographed, as long as it’s done with a minimum of cost and a maximum of speed.
And since the quality of the product is not the primary goal, if said product isn’t produced quickly and cheaply, they’ll simply seek out the cheapest and fastest producer – and make due.
As for the consumer, they’ll see a high price tag and think they’re getting quality.
But the definition of quality in this day and age is more than a tad different than in days gone by.
A quality product based on price and speed is in complete contrast to what used to pass for a quality product.
Somehow, I get the feeling that Michelangelo wasn’t told to shake a leg when he was parallel to the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.
And Tolstoy was hardly staring at a ticking clock when he was writing “War and Peace.”
But realistically, it’s been forever since folks really gave a hoot about true art.
To the everyday consumer, true art is something you find in museums and thick books in the library.
I can’t imagine someone telling Warhol to hurry up with that soup can or Brahms to have that lullaby composed by a week from Thursday.
But then we do live in a world where reality shows are candidates for Emmys and the Kardashian skanks are among the most admired people on the planet.
High art is for those consumers who are light in the loafers and brilliance in the field of music has been reduced to chuckleheads making rhymes over dance beats.
You can always say we’ve brought this upon ourselves, and I, for one, wouldn’t disagree.
But the definition of quality has been reduced to the size of the amount of cash it brings in.
Who cares?
At your next séance, ask Michelangelo if he was asked to speed-paint his way through that ceiling.
I think you know his response.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Three is the Loneliest Number

I like the presidential election.

Well, I actually kind of like the idea of the presidential election, at least the one they used to push when you were an impressionable second grader.

If it were just the process – the candidates, their ideas, the primaries, the candidates espousing their prospective policies, Election Day, the winner announced in the wee hours of the morning – it would be pretty spiffy.

Americans make their choice and dig in together to see what happens over the next four years – the ebb and flow of the nation’s economy, the threats, both military and domestic, the tone of the country, the inevitable rise of new ideas.

 And that would be great if that’s what happened.

But those things rarely come up in presidential elections anymore.

Instead, America 2016 is like sticking your head into a kindergarten class right before nap time.

Some of stupidest, most unbelievable cow dung has sprung up over the past five or six elections – crapola that has very little to do with governing the country and a lot more to do with pushing agendas.

Quick – I’m pro-gun, anti-choice and anti-ISIS – I am?

Or, I’m pro-climate change, pro-animal rights, anti-deploying more troops to the Middle East – I am?

Over recent years the line has been drawn in the sand. And while there used to be the occasional crossover, these days it’s become so predictable that Bausch & Lomb’s best binocs couldn’t find the damn thing.

Now, if you’re a Republican you love money, taxes and very large walls on the Mexican border.

Democrat? You like taxing the super rich, cleaning up the planet and allowing people to do and act and socialize with just about anybody they want.

What fun is that?

It’s getting so I can talk to somebody for about two minutes and know his or her political affiliation. 

Folks, that’s so un-American it’s scary.

I swear, some Republican candidate could emerge from the pack and declare he or she has discovered a cure for cancer. And the Democrat would be against it, just because it was a Republican idea.

The two parties are so fractured they’re playing the game of Antonyms.

Is it that absolute?

Do only two types of beliefs actually exist?

If I believe in climate change does that mean I can’t agree with building a wall on the Mexican border?

If I’m pro-gun does that mean I have to be pro-Trump?

Are there really only two kinds of beliefs in the world?

If you listen to the news channels on television, you may believe that’s true.

Quick, what’s the Republican channel? FOX News, of course.

CNBC? That’s them damn pansy liberals.

CNN? Trying to be somewhere in the middle, but failing miserably most of the time, according to the respective host of whatever special program they’re airing.

Christ, do I have to hate Donald Trump just because I’m left of center?

Do I have to despise Hillary just because I’m a resident of Mississippi?

Wow, the country sure went and got itself predictably boring over the years, hasn’t it?

You mean I can’t be pro-choice and carry a gun?

Let’s see if I can remember this from my days as a pimply-faced kid in sixth grade: America is the greatest country in the world because people are free to believe what they want to believe.

They are free to be against war, against peace or against the flag, if they so desire.

They are free to be pro-cop, anti-cop or to spit on the flag.

They are free to be anti-peace rallies or pro-bombing the bejezus out of Lisbon.

They can listen to whatever they want, have or not have kids if they want and lie down to whatever warm body they desire.

That’s the America I was taught about when I was a kid, and the America that should still exist.

Unfortunately, I’m either getting pro-Trump hogwash or pro-Hillary gobbeldegook.

Monty, can I please take Door Number Three?








Wednesday, June 17, 2015

It's All About Me - Squared

It kinda makes sense.

But that doesn’t make it any less annoying.

In these times, to be self-absorbed is understandable, almost expected.  After all, the world is all about being noticed (as proof I point to any selfie). It seems society exists these days simply to glorify the individual.

It’s the old Andy Warhol adage - on reverse steroids.

Andy said that in the future everybody will become famous for 15 minutes, then go away.

These days, people become famous, and won’t go away.

And why are they famous?

They’re famous because we keep seeing them – ad nauseam.

Murderers, child molesters, prison escapees, you name the event, however twisted, and I’ll show you the haircut shoving a microphone in his or her face.

Since the only thing that matters to the bean counters in the media business these days is internet hits, whatever is getting the most hits is automatically top priority, number one with a bullet and the bee’s knees.

How long did I have to watch the chuckleheads riot in St. Louis and Baltimore (by the way, looting stores is a great way to protest lawlessness)

Hence, the world gets bombarded with the same stories – continuously.

And where does that leave the layman, the working stiff, Mr. John Q. Public?

Up feces creek without any toilet paper, that’s where.

So, since exposure is the way to be noticed, and it’s been shown that you no longer have to be talented to be famous, those who feel the need to be noticed simply take it upon themselves to make you notice them – in the most asinine ways.


Look around you.

See the smacked ass that won’t shut up at the ballgame? He wants to be noticed.

The buffoon who opens his car door into oncoming traffic? Hey world, look at me.

People want to feel their lives have meaning and that their lives count for something other than a census total.

Seemingly talentless toads are being fawned over everywhere you look

So they metaphorically point the lens at themselves and click the shutter.

The problem with that form of selfie is that it’s also a good way to get attention by getting the best coverage in the obituary column.

And  it won’t go away.

It’s been established that if you act the fool long enough, the flashbulbs aren’t far behind.

So we’ll have to put up with lame-os doing everything up to and including stripping in traffic until this obsession with fame slows to a crawl.

And by then, maybe even I’ll get some serious face time.







Saturday, May 23, 2015

Rich Boy Saving the World One Species at a Time

The logic given by Corey Knowlton, the son of a Texas oil man, who got himself good and famous by killing an endangered species – this week’s sacrifice for the good of the species was an endangered black rhinoceros – was that he was helping black rhinos everywhere.

“I felt, from the first day, it was something benefiting the black rhino,” the murderer,  or, rather Knowlton said.

Perhaps those immortal words should be cut into the former Mr. Rhino’s headstone. But that’s impossible because Mr. Benefit the Rhino has the stuffed remains earmarked for his trophy room, a wonderful little addition to the family mansion that contains all sorts of dead, stuffed, formerly alive, innocent snuggly little critters that used to be breathing.

Knowlton, that sweetheart lover of nature, has admitted to “taking” 120 different species in his unending Save the Animals Tour.

Many years ago the logic police officially ruled that killing a member of an endangered species, or any species for that matter, was not permitted to be justified by proclaiming said killing was “good for” said species.

Can’t recall anything in the handbook about that brand of logic being amended, but then I’m not a regular reader.

What I do know is that Knowlton was doing more tap dancing than Fred Astaire in his prime when it came to justifying his trigger pulling.

The background: Mr. Conservation won an auction, ultimately paying $350,000 to the Namibia Ministry of Environment and Tourism for the right to take a living creature from the planet he proclaims to love.

So, did Mr. Hunter go at the old-fashioned way, taking his gun into the jungle and stalking said beast in a Mano a Rhino standoff?


Armed with the best rifle daddy’s money could buy, and an experienced crew that did everything but deliver the critter to his hammock, Knowlton did his best Ramar of the Jungle imitation and sent the unarmed and unprotected critter to Rhinovana.

What a guy.

Naturally, Knowlton played down the bulge in his pants and talked about feeding a village with rhino meat as being, “the highlight of the experience.”

Do they have an African equivalent for the word, “bullshit?”

Knowlton, who loves killing as much as Scott Walker loves busting unions, can talk all the conservation, love the planet nonsense he wants.

The bottom line is that this rich asshole (is there any other kind?) gets his rocks off killing things.

He ain’t alone, but I’m sure the Ted Nugents of the world will find some way to justify his senseless murder.

He fed a village with the rhino meat? This rich prick could have sprung for a meal for the entire continent of Africa and saved himself some money.

Once more we see what the lure of money can do.

The very definition of the word “endangered” infers that killing something under that banner is not only stupid, but devastating to the planet.

But who cares?  A bunch of bureaucrats picked up some cash to help balance the books and a gorgeous creature whose lineage dates back to prehistoric earth gets the unceremonious boot off the planet.

That’s OK, little rich boy Corey Knowlton got to “take” another species, so all is right with the world.

“I think people have a problem just with the fact that I like to hunt,” Knowlton said. “I want to see the black rhino as abundant as it can be. I believe in the survival of the species.”

And to prove it, he killed one.




Thursday, March 26, 2015

No Lion, I'll Hang With the Four-Legged

At the risk of sounding like the illegitimate son of Marlin Perkins, I have to admit after nearly 60 years on this planet, I have more of an affinity for non-human living things than I do for Homo sapiens.

Some, but not all, family members excepted, I’ll take just about any four-legged, gilled or invertebrate critter over good old Humanus Assholus any day of the week.

The reasoning is pretty simple.

Most living non-humans are simple creatures with very little motivation beyond living and, perhaps, procreating.

They’re in an environment rarely of their own choosing and they attempt to stay alive in it. And in almost every case, their inability to reason or deduce or be creative – those wonderful attributes humans believe make them superior to non-humans – is a plus.

Sure, humans are capable of producing wonderful works of art, curing diseases, creating vehicular travel and dozens of other jaw-dropping treasures. But unfortunately, too often those items are produced with some insane value and ownership strings attached.

Da Vinci’s “Mona Lisa” is a gorgeous and intriguing creative work, but in order to view its beauty you’d better be prepared to create something called money.


Because humans actually put arbitrary and ridiculous values on articles that would be better left to be enjoyed, admired or ingested by the masses.

Non-humans have little interest in anything beyond survival. They will help each other without expecting reciprocation. The only time they will fight is if they feel threatened or if something they need to survive or have just given birth to is threatened. Humans will fight over whether a fictitious ball crossed a fictitious line in an X-Box game.

They’ll fight over whether their personal ideologies are accepted or rejected by another group of humans. They’ll fight because they feel like fighting, or kill because they feel like killing or spit on another human being because they feel like spitting.

And should one choose not to answer such a threat, they are branded a pansy, or worse.

As for their place on the planet and looking out for others of the same species, most humans will do whatever the hell they feel like doing with virtually no regard for its repercussions on the environment in which they live or the creatures who inhabit it. When’s the last time a section of land was not permitted to be developed out of concern for the other living things in the immediate vicinity?

Nope, as long as some human is “benefiting” from erecting another house or houses on said property, all is hunky dory.

I can’t recall too many tales about cougars snapping out from the pressures of life and murdering a dozen other cougars. Humans do such things as a matter of course and then achieve some type of notoriety because of it.

Humans love to puff out their collective chests and crow from the tops of high buildings how they band together and help each other in times of crisis. The 9/11 tragedy is the perfect example. “Look how Americans pulled together and lent their unsolicited hands to the area around Ground Zero,” they said. And to their credit, they were right – for about two weeks. As soon as the country returned to some semblance of normalcy, the humans went right back to trying to screw each other out of everything they possessed.

Greed seems to be inherent in the human being, whereas personal survival seems to take the first three places on the non-humans’ list of dos and don’ts.

Oh sure, a couple of dogs may scrap over a bone, but it’s unlikely that same dog will invade his adversary’s home later that day with an Uzi.

If there is a mass homicide involving four-legged critters, bet the furniture it was instigated by the two-legged species ( Michael Vick, take a bow).

Do I have it in for the human race?

Honestly, no, but the jerk-offs are outnumbering the good folk by the minute.

And until the odds begin trending in the other direction I’ll cast my lot with the four-legged, the backbone-less and those with wings.

To put it simply, I prefer the company.







Friday, March 20, 2015

Oh, The Madness ...

The country is all aflutter with the thoughts of March Madness, better known as the NCAA Division I Basketball Tournament, which began this week.

It’s become a national event, nearly on par with the Super Bowl or the World Series.

Even the president gets five minutes of air time to run down his bracket.

Never was so much made over so little.

Sure, on the surface it’s a fun little exercise, a harmless excursion into hoops fantasia for a couple of weeks, a time when seemingly every person in the good, old US of A is suddenly enthralled with match-up zones and half-court traps and schools like Gonzaga and Loyola Marymount become part of the   everyday sports vernacular that at this time of year is usually reserved for discussions about NBA playoff odds and the baseball rookie phenom who is tearing up the Grapefruit League.

But really, outside of filling out a bracket in the office and watching some privileged pituitary cases miss about a month in the college classroom, who gives a rat’s ass?

Firstly, I’m not provincial enough to believe that the sports world is the exclusive domain of the sports fan.

My wife, who wouldn’t know a jump ball from a wiffle ball, can actually sit down and take in a sporting event without losing her cookies.

That doesn’t mean she can intelligently discuss what’s going on.  But like a two-year- old child examining a spongy rubber ball, she can derive some enjoyment from looking at the colors.

What happens to this country during those weeks of the NCAA tournament is akin to the general population looking at that colorful ball.

Along with the diehards who can tell you the third man off the bench for Valparaiso, unfortunately at tournament time there has sprung a totally annoying subculture known as the Office Pool Assholes.

March Madness comes complete with office pools out the wazoo. You can find them in offices, in factories and seemingly every other place on the planet, while every other TV or radio commercial you see, hear or smell promotes some product with a tie-in to the tournament. Whether it’s a fill-out-a-bracket contest or an ad featuring Budweiser-drinking male and female models going bonkers in a squeaky-clean modern bar and cheering for their tourney favorite, the words “Final Four” are more common these days than “ISIS extremist.”

The problem with the popularity of the tournament, of course, is that is based completely on the brackets, which are as plentiful  as horse dung at Old McDonald’s farm.

It seems it’s mandated that everyone everywhere is obligated to fill one out. And once they do, they instantly become a member of the Office Pool Asshole cult.

The members are loud, they are clueless and worst of all, it’s against the law to club them over the head with a large mallet.

Filling out such a pool, apparently, gives said filler-outer carte blanche to pontificate on anything and everything that has to do with college basketball, even though said office pooler has not watched a college basketball game since last year’s tournament.

The OPAs suddenly become a combination of Dean Smith and John Thompson and monopolize any conversation about the tournament with their meaningless and uneducated drivel.

Now, keep in mind, the bulk of the OPAs arrived at their Final Four choices based on factors such as, having once driven through the city where the school is located, or because their cousin’s son took a college visit there or they like the snazzy nicknames, like Chanticleers or Runnin’ Rebels.

After putting such diligent thought into their choices, they are driven to then loudly pontificate ad infinitum on why Podunk Tech should have held for the last shot.

A week ago said OPA had zero idea this school even existed, now he or she is rattling their spleen cheering for these kids who they will have forgotten about in less than two weeks.

Yep, the most ludicrous part of March Madness is that, while the tournament lasts about a month, the madness usually takes place in the first week or two.

With most brackets shot in the butt by then, and the average American span of attention being what it is, before the field has been whittled down to 16 teams, most of the initial hype has been long forgotten and the office topic du jour goes back to who’s boffing who and who might be laid off.

For that first week or so, though, them thar hoops is the biggest thing going.

Fear not, however,  the next big American event will jump into the void to annoy the common man and fatten rich business folks’ wallets.

In this case, Easter is on its way and soon all those March Madness ads will give way to those featuring the Cadbury bunny.

Now, that’s something to go mad about.









Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Having a Pair Means Never Having to Say You're Sorry

Among my many faults – and they are approaching a four-figure count – none of them include going back on something I’ve said.

I don’t mean backing off literally putting my foot up one of the kids’ arseholes after I’ve told them I would if they didn’t do the dishes. I mean, if I voice an opinion, that’s my opinion.

These days, it seems everybody, and I mean even the most trigger-mouthed, don’t-give-a-crap loudmouths are apologizing for something they’ve just said.

Celebrities, near-celebrities and folks who no one would know if they were handed their picture and a complete file on their lives seem to be getting in line to retract something they just said the day before.

The prevailing stance these days seems to be, say something off the top of your head that you really mean, get some unpopular feedback and immediately proclaim yourself desperately sorry enough to wash the offended one’s car for the rest of eternity.

My feeling?

If you’re offended by something you’ve heard come out of my mouth, tough darts, pilgrim, I wouldn’t have said it if I didn’t mean it. Did I rattle your delicate widdle sensibilities? I guess that’s what comes with living in a free society.

I guess that’s why we’re honoring veterans and singing the National Anthem every 25 minutes, to protect my right to speak my mind.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t cheer at funerals or badmouth some poor schlub living in a cardboard box in the middle of the nearest metropolis, but if I had said what the rock musician Gene Simmons had said recently about not stopping potential suicides from ending it all, I wouldn’t have backed off said statement. It’s obviously how the guy feels, so why apologize?

Don’t like it? Oh well, you’ll have to hate me forever or stop buying my records or going to my concerts.

And there, ladies and germs, is the rub.

Offended folks don’t tend to buy records made by people who’ve just offended them.

So Simmons’ backtracking had more to do with the money in his back account than the honey in his disposition.

That’s also why Mel Gibson apologized for being an anti-Semitic boob and there’s a parade of Hollywood hot dogs apologizing for using the n-word, the gay-word and every other word that might raise an eyebrow on some housewife in Topeka.

It’s getting so famous folks are having to skate down Sorry Boulevard for something they’ve said that even sounds like it might be insensitive.

All for that all-mighty buck.

Unfortunately, my many readers, I’m not famous and I’m sure as hell not rich.

So you’ll have to put up with my improprieties and wait for the apology.

Hope you’re patient.