Friday, May 28, 2010

All that was once directly lived now moves into representation

This evening was eventful. I met up with my friend on the train and we went to MOMA, then we went to White Walls, a gallery on Larkin between O'Farrell and Geary, a stones throw from the home bums and massage parlours of the tenderloin. The urban gallery was showing a collection of art by Blek Le Rat and Above, both street artists. Blek Le Rat is a predeccessor to Banksy and uses stencil graffitti to promote his message, which has a situationist slant.
"The spectacle says nothing more than 'what is good appears and what appears is good.'"

With price tags at a rock bottom price of $600, and ranging up to $45,000 (with the average costing $15,000) the once subversive movement of street art, stencils, and the social commentary that they implicitly carried has been caught back up in the order of things. This has been pointed out before by the "splasher," a new york city vandal who caused a ruckus by defacing the street art of Shepard Fairey, Banksy, Swoon and others, validly. [More on the splasher here.]

Blek La Rat posted one of his infamous stencils of a homeless man lying on the street on the outside of the building, inside on a piece of canvas the piece cost $39,000, his advertising of homelessness as an aesthetic makes it acceptable, and quite expensive! I could pay for my college loans with that profit margin, or 8 years of my current rent. I wonder if his model got a stipend!?

He should certainly be praised for having turned abject poverty into a gratuitous money making enterprise, a spectacular feat! The image on the outside of the gallery doesn't speak of irony- that the homeless could be sleeping across the street, or in front of the building, but rather is a marker of safety. This style of street graffiti, while originally being a detournment of public space, has now been recuperated and serves as a marker of gentrification - the dislocation of people in the interests of capital. It tells the population that the area is now aesthetic with the beauty of refined low brow art. The kids in tight pants can feel okay walking around late at night! Finally!

First came the street artists with their stencils, but I wasn't a street artist. Then came the galleries, but I wasn't a hipster. Then came the bourgeoisie but I wasn't bourgeoisie. Then came the increase in rent that I couldn't afford anymore!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The thought of suice is a powerful solace; by means of it ones gets through many a bad night

The noose is stagnant before me. I thought it might sway with some unknown breeze, as if my very presence would cause motion. There is no movement. There is no cause. It just sits there. I get on the chair, I pulled it in from the dining room. I wish I could say how it all feels but really it feels like choking.

Fate always favors the brave and the brash. I've been neither. Fate is a cruel mistress even when one has the favorable attributes, so I've submitted. I've let the lacerations add up and compile, this time though I know the odds. The first time that I walked off the bridge I didn't know that the odds of survival were one in ten, this time I know. I sat at home for three weeks rolling my ten sided dice, an aftermath of my dungeon and dragons days, and only once did it hit the one. I know that when I step off this bridge I will die this time. My foot goes forward with my chances.

Wearing kerosene to a nightclub is odd, but so is wearing a scented perfume. I'd been wearing the odor of pyrotechnics for some time when she looked at me. She didn't so much look as just merely toss her cigarette and follow its path. The inevitable path led to me in flames, and unrequited, unquenchable fire.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

The Chauffeur

If I was to be reborn I'm pretty sure I'd want to be reincarnated as a member of duran duran. Another reason why is this video.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The Future has been looted in advance- Mike Davis

The betrayed generation

In My View column by Mike Davis, January 2009

Our societies are supersaturated with unrecognised anger that can suddenly crystallise around a single incident of police abuse or state repression. Yet although the seeds of revolt have been so flagrantly sown bourgeois society seldom recognises its own harvest.

In Los Angeles in 1992, for example, every teenager on the streets (or, for that matter, every cop on the beat) knew that Armageddon was coming. The widening faultlines between inner-city youth and city government should have been visible to even the most naive observer: there were weekly mass arrests, innumerable police shootings of unarmed kids, indiscriminate profiling of youth of colour as gangsters, outrageous double standards of justice, and so on.

Yet when the eruption occurred, in the wake of the court verdict that exonerated the police who had almost beaten Rodney King to death, the political and media elites reacted as if some secret, unpredictable force had been unleashed from the depths of the earth.

The media (mostly flying overhead in helicopters) subsequently attempted to manage the world's perception of the riot by drastic simplification and stereotyping: black gangs were in the streets burning and looting. In fact, the Rodney King verdict became the nucleus around which very diverse grievances coalesced.

Few of the thousands arrested were actually gang members and only about a third were even African American. The majority were poor immigrants or their children, arrested for looting diapers, shoes and televisions from neighbourhood stores. The economy of Los Angeles was then (as today) in deep recession and the poor Latino neighbourhoods west and south of downtown were most affected. But the press had never reported on their misery, so the "bread riot" dimension of the uprising was largely ignored.

Similarly, in Greece today, a "normal" police atrocity has triggered an eruption that is stereotyped as inexplicable anger and blamed on shadowy anarchists: when, in fact, "low-intensity civil war" seems to have long characterised the relationship between police and various strata of youth.

I have utterly no qualification to comment on the specific Greek conditions, but I have the impression that there are important contrasts with France in 2005. Spatial segregation of immigrant and poor youth seems less extreme than in Paris, but job prospects for petty bourgeois kids are considerably worse: the intersection of these two conditions brings into the streets of Athens a more diverse coalition of students and young unemployed adults. Moreover, they inherit a tradition of protest and culture of resistance that is unique in Europe.

What do Greek youth demand? Surely, they perceive with ruthless clarity that the world depression forecloses traditional reforms of the educational system and employment markets. So why would they have any faith in another iteration of the social democratic PASOK and its broken promises?

This is an original species of revolt, prefigured by earlier riots in Los Angeles, London and Paris, but arising from a new and more profound understanding that the future has been looted in advance. Indeed, what generation in modern history (apart from the sons of Europe in 1914) has ever been so comprehensively betrayed by the patriarchs?

I agonise about this question because I have four children, and even the youngest understands that their future may be radically different from my past.

My "baby-boom" cohort bequeaths to its children a broken world economy, stupefying extremes of social inequality, brutal wars on the imperial frontiers, and an out of control planetary climate.

Athens is being widely envisioned as the answer to the question, "After Seattle, then what"? The anti-WTO demonstrations and the "Battle of Seattle" in 1999 opened a new era of non-violent protest and grassroots activism. Now an entire cycle of protest has come to an end just as the Wall Street boiler room of globalised capitalism has exploded, leaving in its wake both more radical problems and new opportunities for radicalism.

There is a danger, of course, in overstating the importance of an eruption in a specific national setting - but the world has become kindling and Athens is the first spark.

Friday, May 7, 2010

A Glowing Review

“All the world’s a stage, and all men and women merely players; they have their exits and entrances; and one man in his time plays many parts, his acts being seven ages.”

William Shakespeare As You like It

The young waiter dons the wares of his profession; a white shirt, a tie, black pants, with matching shoes. His face his clean shaven, his pockets full with pens and his personality is shellacked with a smile. He goes to the table and acts out his performance with the regularity of a professional, he knows his lines, and repeats them accordingly. The illusion cast by society is set, the restaurant is draped in hospitality, the actor moves about with ease, and the process proceeds ad infinitum according to the rule of capital.

Outside the floor the young actor engages in other moments of mimicry. While one motion on stage is for survival the other is for pleasure, for play. It is here in the moments outside the world of work that I was able to see a young mimic in movement.

The small play house, brought together by PianoFight, is located in the financial district of the mission in San Francisco. Amongst the towering artifices to business lies a small stage. One enters via a street level entrance, the only mark of entry is a sandwich board that announces the evenings events. The night’s performance was part of Shortlived, a 13 week competition running in SF and LA. The competition features several one act skits. The audience votes on the skits and through a tournament style elimination one play is proved the most entertaining spectacle.

Rob Ready and Dan Williams, founders of PianoFight, let the curtains rise to humorous antics and give aways. The two gave gifts out to audience members who correctly answered questions in regards to the play structure. When asked how many plays there would be I screamed out “Obama!” My populist non sequiter won me a can of Budweiser. I left it unopened, not to be drunk until the above went forward with his promises to the mensch… I would die a thirsty man.

The first play of the evening was a romance of sorts. A young couples are at a mechanic’s. The woman’s auto has been fixed by a mechanic who seeks to overcharge. The woman is indignant, her beau seeks to gloss over the mess and get on with life, no matter the monetary cost. A fight ensues, a make up, and the curtain drops. Entertaining enough for its length.

The second performance was more cumbersome to the mind. A young man and woman were spot lit on stage. They engaged in a conjoined monologue recounting their days as serial killers on the run. The woman was dressed like Uma Thurma in “Pulp Fiction,” while her male love interest was garbed as a blonde haired “Ramones” punk. The young punk forgot his lines, and the woman two thirds of the way through the lengthy act engaged in a slow dance on the stage reminiscent of the cinematic moment when Thurman sashays for John Travolta. The two danced together with choreography. I grew bored in my seat, sucked into it with ennui.

The third play was an interesting idea but poorly executed. The play “Inner Dialogues,” had two young men meet up at a coffee shop on a first date. The two didn’t engage in actual conversation, but rather their inner thoughts were spoken aloud. One character’s thought process was blatant while the other were more muddled, it seemed as if he was in actual dialogue. The ending, of course, had them speak what they were actually thinking, a painful trope.

The last play, which I viewed as the herrpunkt of the evening had the spotlight shone on young Joe Scheppers, our favorite waiter, and his straight man, Cooper Carlson, in Maybe Tov. The play written by Pamela Davis had Scheppers as the visual dynamite in the tragic comedy about a young man, who just MAYBE engaged. His confusion is set immediately as he discusses with his pal the circumstances of his pseudo proposal. The hilarity is in the ambiguity of a pivotal point in our young actor’s life, a moment that I found not too funny as my many proposals to the ladies of the world have been shot down in cold blood! Cruel! Cruel World! Yet my ability to truly empathize with Scheppers was what made the play rewarding.

Scheppers brilliant performance was in taking on the role as if it was his own, he wore the skin of anxiety like he wears his waiting outfit, but with more exuberance. What really made the play worth seeing though was not the act, which shone so brightly that it lit the darkness of my soul, but in seeing Scheppers afterwards. His eyes lit with eagerness, with a peak of performance. He was a man who had achieved a goal, beautifully, a goal that weren’t as rote as the motions set out by work.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

More Music!

Nothing like being a sappy white guy that gets butt hurt over a girl.

Totally unrelated I've been listening to Television the last couple days

This is how I feel about me and my "peers," all their blank stares really get to me and my over-aged teen angst.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Pop Music

I go through phases with bands, and with music. Lately I've been listening to Vampire Weekend. They're okay at best. They have two catchy songs, the ones below. They remind me of UB40 the pop reggae band of the 80s.