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Enter at your own risk... 
03:40pm 26/11/2004
  One interesting thing about the MAEP show (for me, at least, since I was interested in the intersection of museums, art, and politics) that maybe wasn't immediately obvious was that the organizers had to jump through some legal hoops that aren't required by most MAEP exhibitions. First, the design of the exhibition (with a wall blocking a direct view into the gallery) insured that unsuspecting visitors wouldn't see potentially offensive works of art just in passing the gallery. To enter the gallery, you had to navigate around the wall, and if you did, you might have noticed this sign on that wall:

The Minneapolis Institute of Arts is pleased to host this exhibition celebrating Minnesota artists' political views in a broad array of forms, ranging from lawn signs and posters to effigies. Like democracy itself, the opinions presented here are challenging, robust, and sometimes provocative. All work submitted by Minnesota artists for exhibition are displayed for your reflection. Please be prepared for a thought-provoking and uncensored exhibition of works expressing particular artist's viewpoints, including some that may offend you.

(I think I got that right-- I can't quite read my scribbled notes.)

That sign was developed by the organizers of the exhibition. After complaints from a few visitors (a very few, from what I heard) who felt that by holding the exhibition, the museum was promoting a particular political position, a second sign appeared, just below the first:

The Art of Democracy is intended to provide a forum for the freedom of expression as the 2004 presidential election approaches. The exhibition was developed by the MAEP and artist-managed curatorial department of the MIA. The opinions expressed in this exhibition do not reflect the non-partisan, non-political stance of the MIA.

(again, relying upon scribbled notes, but I think it is pretty close).

I didn't read the signs before entering the gallery, and didn't notice anyone walking in who read them, either. Visitors were really interested in reading the text in many of the artworks (I saw lots of people looking at the exhibition very slowly, and very carefully, which should make museum people happy), but didn't see anyone giving those warning signs the same scrutiny. Still, they do protect the museum: when the MAEP set up this non-juried, open call for submissions, they essentially created a sort of "free space" for the artists. Museums can do political shows - like this one - but they are also very careful to make sure they state that they are not taking sides.

I am not sure how I feel about the signs. I think visitors just passed them by, and, really, I think they function simply to cover the museum's ass. If there are complaints, the museum can say, "We clearly posted signs at the entrance to the exhibition" without really having to think about whether people read them. So what do I want? Do I want the signs to not be necessary? Do I want the museum to be able to take a side and proclaim a position? Do I want it to be okay not just to exhibit conflicting opinions, but for those opinions to actively conflict? Do I want more people to be so invested in the museum that there are rafts of complaints when the MAEP does a show like this, and rafts more complaints when they don't?

Steve Mumford's Journal 
11:03pm 25/11/2004
  If you're looking for some interesting reading, I recommend Steve Mumford's Baghdad Journal, a featured column on ArtNet.com:


The normal fare on artnet.com is gallery reviews, artworld gossip, and auction reports, but this occasional column might be of interest to some of the Triablog readers.

They're still coming in... 
11:49am 24/11/2004
  Here's a (belated) report on the intake on Saturday at the MAEP intake. Even though the exhibition is nearly over (it closes on November 28). Still, the artwork was coming in, and the contributions are starting to be layered on the walls, like fliers on a bulletin board or telephone pole. There is something fun about getting to visit a gallery under construction - you get to navigate around the ladder and extension cord and visit with the people who are really making the exhibit. And even though the artists who contribute work must sign a piece of paper acknowledging that their artwork will be disposed of after the exhibition, it sounds like the MAEP is thinking about creating a time capsule, and preserving the works of art (and possibly the online dialog) for someone to paw through 100 years from now.

In 100 years, it should be another election year, and I wonder how this flurry (or snowstorm?) of responses to this year's election will look in a century. I talked to Stuart Turnquist a bit about whether he could imagine the MAEP deciding to host another exhibition like this one, and he felt that this particular election energized and enraged people in way few others have -- a sort of "perfect storm" of issues, events, advertising, and personalities that meant an unusually high percentage of Americans were invested in this election.
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Sorry Everybody 
01:12pm 19/11/2004

check this out, my friend Cynthia sent me this site


It is brilliant, gorgeous - full of pictures asking forgiveness of the world for November 2nd.... a humility our president will never understand -- as well as a desperate attempt to find beauty in something so distasteful. And humor, as the selection below demonstrates..

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So what's a museum to do? 
07:46pm 18/11/2004
  My friend Toby, a museum educator in California, sent me this "10 Commandments for Museums", penned by James W. Loewen, author of Lies My Teacher Told Me and Lies Across America:

Don't lie.
Don't teach issues as facts.
Watch your language.
Watch your images.
Include historiography.
Don't valorize.
Be relevant to the present.
Don't omit people relevant to the story.
Include the audience.
Address controversy.

I guess one could argue that with these comments that he's taking a political position....

But taking positions makes everything more interesting. Thanks to everyone who posted during this online flurry of questions and comments (and who I talked with & emailed earlier) -- I appreciate that you all took the time to contribute!
Money & Politics: Museum Funding 
06:54pm 18/11/2004
  We know politicians will do just about anything for money, but maybe museum people will, too. A curator told me that, like it or not, the current conservative climate effects funding. She won't even go to the NEA for money for anything but a "safe" exhibition: a historical perspective on a non-controversial artist. (Ironically, local funders - who would seem to have closer ties to communities than a national government funder - are much less concerned with the content of exhibitions.)

While one art museum person I talked to said thay there was more freedom of content with individual or foundation support, one science museum person said that there are issues with funders wanting to get involved with content of exhibitions or influence how their industries are portrayed in exhibits. An exhibit on a new technology, for example, might be enthusiastic about the potential of the invention without addressing the related environmental or social issues. Good for the industry, but maybe not so good for people?

Do you see money influencing what museums do, what they exhibit, what points of view they represent? How?
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Taking sides - officially, or unofficially 
06:15pm 18/11/2004
  Officially, museums can't get involved in politics. To keep their non-profit status, they can't lobby or take a stand for a political candidate. But, as one west-coast museum director I spoke with explained, that doesn't mean they can't do political shows. They could, for example, do a call for artists inviting responses to the war in Iraq, even knowing that 99% of the artists are not going to side with Bush. The artists are free to do their work and make their statement, and the museum can exhibit the work as part of the artist's body of work. So that's why the MAEP could do the Art of Democracy show - the institution opened the call to all Minnesota artists (even though not a lot of Bush fans submitted work).

So, really, museums do take sides, in a way. Would it be more fun, or be more interesting, or foster better conversation, if they really did represent more sides of an issue? Should the organizers of the art of democracy show have organized a get-out-the-art drive, and gone into conservative communities to make sure a conservative point of view was adequately represented in the gallery?

But then would the science museum have to talk about creationism as an alternative to evolution?
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Do museums and politics mix? 
06:18pm 18/11/2004
  My theme for my time with the Triablog is museums & politics. I started thinking about this because of a (heated) discussion that happened at the Science Museum where I work. The debate centered on how the Science Museum talks about evolution. To the scientists, talking about evolution is a given, the basis of everything they do (for the biologists, at least). But, as someone pointed out, evolution is NOT a given for everyone in the museum's audience - and some in the audience reject it completely. And some of these people want the science museum to be a place where debate about evolution takes place. But the science museum doesn't want to have to host an evolution vs. creation debate, and doesn't feel it needs to. The creationists disagree: they want to take on the scientists in public debate, and feel the museum IS an appropriate place for that debate.

As non-profits, museums are (legally) prohibited from aligning with or promoting any political party. But does this mean they should stay out of politics alltogether?

So, here are my main questions:

- Do you think politics and political issues play a role in what museums do?

- If you work at a museum, when you plan a program or exhibition, can you take a political position?

- Do you think the museum can or should take a position on political issues?

- How do the issues of audience & museums & politics mix when a museum hosts a controversal exhibition or program?
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Online Conversation Tonight 
08:50am 18/11/2004
  John Edwards Getting Ready
Harry Shearer, Untitled (John Edwards), 2004, Conner Contemporary Art

John Edwards is getting ready - and so should you. We're hosting a live dialog tonight on the Triablog about museums & politics. Join the conversation tonight (Thursday, November 18) between 7pm-8pm Minnesota time.

(This is one of my current favorite examples of political art -from Harry Shearer's exhibition in Washington. Read more here: http://www.artnet.com/magazine/Frontpage.asp?H=1).

A skeptical museum? 
03:06pm 17/11/2004
  To continue my theme of politics in museums, I've been following the reviews of the new National Museum of the American Indian, which (very) recently opened in Washington, DC. Most of the reviews I've read have been pretty negative, and most of the negative reaction seems to come from a feeling that the museum isn't really doing its job as a museum. One reviewer in particular lamented that the museum didn't display amazing objects in a context that made it clear what was so great about this particular thing and criticized the museum for refusing to impose any "recognizable standard of scholarship, or even value, on the items in its galleries." (Timothy Noah, writing in Slate http://www.slate.com/id/2107140). Another writer, however, praises the museum for its approach to interpretation. This writer praises the museum because the labels "...identify only the date, provenance and, if known, the name of the artist for items on display, treating them as works of art rather than anthropological specimens." And when the exhibit does include didactic labels, the label attributed to an author (rather than just the anonymous "voice" of the institution.

There's a nice summary of the exhibit and the criticism here:


So what do you think? Is it the job of the museum to tell us about the stuff? or in telling us about the stuff, do they interpret the stuff in a way that's inappropriate? Is it realistic to expect museum visitors, armed with info about who wrote labels, to make judgements about what kind of viewpoint the labels reflect, and use that to construct their own interpretation?

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Our history? 
09:28pm 15/11/2004
  I read an interesting review in the NYTimes a few days ago of an exhibition, The Price of Freedom, at the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of American History. You can read the review here:


or here (which doesn't require a login):


The exhibition was funded in large part by an $80 million donation from the real estate developer Kenneth E. Behring. The article details some of the ways in which the message of the exhibition was clouded, including the influence of a huge donor who wanted the exhibit to demonstrate the "price of freedom," and the skittishness of the museum curators who tip-toed around any potentially controversial issues, though, as the reviewer points out, to avoid issues it to take a stand on them.

What interests me about the article is that it addresses questions of who gets to tell the story of history, and what story are they going to tell. So what story can our -- OUR -- Museum of American History tell? Can and should the Museum try to avoid controversy? Is that possible in a telling of history - and in particular, a history of war?

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Whose Moral Values? 
10:10am 14/11/2004
  From today's New York Times - an analysis of hypocrisy:
November 14, 2004

On 'Moral Values,' It's Blue in a Landslide

FAREWELL to Swift boats and "Shove it!," to Osama's tape and Saddam's missing weapons, to "security moms" and outsourced dads. They've all been sent to history's dustbin faster than Ralph Nader memorabilia was dumped on eBay. In their stead stands a single ambiguous phrase coined by an anonymous exit pollster: "Moral values." By near universal agreement the morning after, these two words tell the entire story of the election: it's the culture, stupid.

"It really is Michael Moore versus Mel Gibson," said Newt Gingrich. To Jon Stewart, Nov. 2 was the red states' revenge on "Will & Grace." William Safire, speaking on "Meet the Press," called the Janet Jackson fracas "the social-political event of the past year." Karl Rove was of the same mind: "I think it's people who are concerned about the coarseness of our culture, about what they see on the television sets, what they see in the movies ..."

And let's not even get started on the two most dreaded words in American comedy, regardless of your party affiliation: Whoopi Goldberg.

There's only one problem with the storyline proclaiming that the country swung to the right on cultural issues in 2004. Like so many other narratives that immediately calcify into our 24/7 media's conventional wisdom, it is fiction. Everything about the election results - and about American culture itself - confirms an inescapable reality: John Kerry's defeat notwithstanding, it's blue America, not red, that is inexorably winning the culture war, and by a landslide. Kerry voters who have been flagellating themselves since Election Day with a vengeance worthy of "The Passion of the Christ" should wake up and smell the Chardonnay.

The blue ascendancy is nearly as strong among Republicans as it is among Democrats. Those whose "moral values" are invested in cultural heroes like the accused loofah fetishist Bill O'Reilly and the self-gratifying drug consumer Rush Limbaugh are surely joking when they turn apoplectic over MTV. William Bennett's name is now as synonymous with Las Vegas as silicone. The Democrats' Ashton Kutcher is trumped by the Republicans' Britney Spears. Excess and vulgarity, as always, enjoy a vast, bipartisan constituency, and in a democracy no political party will ever stamp them out.

If anyone is laughing all the way to the bank this election year, it must be the undisputed king of the red cultural elite, Rupert Murdoch. Fox News is a rising profit center within his News Corporation, and each red-state dollar that it makes can be plowed back into the rest of Fox's very blue entertainment portfolio. The Murdoch cultural stable includes recent books like Jenna Jameson's "How to Make Love Like a Porn Star" and the Vivid Girls' "How to Have a XXX Sex Life," which have both been synergistically, even joyously, promoted on Fox News by willing hosts like Rita Cosby and, needless to say, Mr. O'Reilly. There are "real fun parts and exciting parts," said Ms. Cosby to Ms. Jameson on Fox News's "Big Story Weekend," an encounter broadcast on Saturday at 9 p.m., assuring its maximum exposure to unsupervised kids.

Almost unnoticed in the final weeks of the campaign was the record government indecency fine levied against another prime-time Fox television product, "Married by America." The $1.2 million bill, a mere bagatelle to Murdoch stockholders, was more than twice the punishment inflicted on Viacom for Janet Jackson's "wardrobe malfunction." According to the F.C.C. complaint, one episode in this heterosexual marriage-promoting reality show included scenes in which "partygoers lick whipped cream from strippers' bodies," and two female strippers "playfully spank" a man on all fours in his underwear. "Married by America" is gone now, but Fox remains the go-to network for Paris Hilton ("The Simple Life") and wife-swapping ("Trading Spouses: Meet Your New Mommy").

None of this has prompted an uprising from the red-state Fox News loyalists supposedly so preoccupied with "moral values." They all gladly contribute fungible dollars to Fox culture by boosting their fair-and-balanced channel's rise in the ratings. Some of these red staters may want to make love like porn stars besides. (Not that there's anything wrong with that.) An ABC News poll two weeks before the election found that more Republicans than Democrats enjoy sex "a great deal." The Democrats' new hero, Illinois Senator-elect Barack Obama, was assured victory once his original, ostentatiously pious Republican opponent, Jack Ryan, dropped out of the race rather than defend his taste for "avant-garde" sex clubs.

The 22 percent of voters who told pollsters that "moral values" were their top election issue - 79 percent of whom voted for Bush-Cheney - corresponds almost exactly to the number of voters (23 percent) who describe themselves as born-again or evangelical Christians. They are entitled to their culture, too, and their own entertainment industry. And their own show-biz scandals. The Los Angeles Times reported this summer that Paul Crouch, the evangelist who founded the largest Christian network, Trinity Broadcasting Network, vehemently denied a former employee's accusation that the two had had a homosexual encounter - though not before paying the employee a $425,000 settlement. Not so incidentally, Trinity joined Gary Bauer and Fox News as prime movers in "Redeem the Vote," the Christian-rock alternative to MTV's "Rock the Vote."

But the distance between this hard-core red culture and the majority blue culture is perhaps best captured by Tom Coburn, the newly elected Republican senator from Oklahoma, lately famous for discovering "rampant" lesbianism in that state's schools. As a congressman in 1997, Mr. Coburn attacked NBC for encouraging "irresponsible sexual behavior" and taking "network TV to an all-time low with full frontal nudity, violence and profanity being shown in our homes." The broadcast that prompted his outrage on behalf of "parents and decent-minded individuals everywhere" was the network's prime-time showing of Steven Spielberg's "Schindler's List."

It's in the G.O.P.'s interest to pander to this far-right constituency - votes are votes - but you can be certain that a party joined at the hip to much of corporate America, Mr. Murdoch included, will take no action to curtail the blue culture these voters deplore. As Marshall Wittman, an independent-minded former associate of both Ralph Reed and John McCain, wrote before the election, "The only things the religious conservatives get are largely symbolic votes on proposals guaranteed to fail, such as the gay marriage constitutional amendment." That amendment has never had a prayer of rounding up the two-thirds majority needed for passage and still doesn't.

Mr. Wittman echoes Thomas Frank, the author of "What's the Matter With Kansas?," by common consent the year's most prescient political book. "Values," Mr. Frank writes, "always take a backseat to the needs of money once the elections are won." Under this perennial "trick," as he calls it, Republican politicians promise to stop abortion and force the culture industry "to clean up its act" - until the votes are counted. Then they return to their higher priorities, like cutting capital gains and estate taxes. Mr. Murdoch and his fellow cultural barons - from Sumner Redstone, the Bush-endorsing C.E.O. of Viacom, to Richard Parsons, the Republican C.E.O. of Time Warner, to Jeffrey Immelt, the Bush-contributing C.E.O. of G.E. (NBC Universal) - are about to be rewarded not just with more tax breaks but also with deregulatory goodies increasing their power to market salacious entertainment. It's they, not Susan Sarandon and Bruce Springsteen, who actually set the cultural agenda Gary Bauer and company say they despise.

But it's not only the G.O.P.'s fealty to its financial backers that is predictive of how little cultural bang the "values" voters will get for their Bush-Cheney votes. At 78 percent, the nonvalues voters have far more votes than they do, and both parties will cater to that overwhelming majority's blue tastes first and last. Their mandate is clear: The same poll that clocked "moral values" partisans at 22 percent of the electorate found that nearly three times as many Americans approve of some form of legal status for gay couples, whether civil unions (35 percent) or marriage (27 percent). Do the math and you'll find that the poll also shows that for all the G.O.P.'s efforts to court Jews, the total number of Jewish Republican voters in 2004, while up from 2000, was still some 200,000 less than the number of gay Republican voters.

When Robert Novak writes after the election that "the anti-abortion, anti-gay marriage, socially conservative agenda is ascendant, and the G.O.P. will not abandon it anytime soon," you have to wonder what drug he is on. The abandonment began at the convention. Sam Brownback, the Kansas senator who champions the religious right, was locked away in an off-camera rally across town from Madison Square Garden. Prime time was bestowed upon the three biggest stars in post-Bush Republican politics: Rudy Giuliani, John McCain and Arnold Schwarzenegger. All are supporters of gay rights and opponents of the same-sex marriage constitutional amendment. Only Mr. McCain calls himself pro-life, and he's never made abortion a cause. None of the three support the Bush administration position on stem-cell research. When the No. 1 "moral values" movie star, Mel Gibson, condemned the Schwarzenegger-endorsed California ballot initiative expanding and financing stem-cell research, the governor and voters crushed him like a girlie-man. The measure carried by 59 percent, which is consistent with national polling on the issue.

If the Republican party's next round of leaders are all cool with blue culture, why should Democrats run after the red? Received Washington wisdom has it that the only Democrat who will ever be able to win a national election must be a cross between Gomer Pyle and Billy Sunday - a Scripture-quoting Sun Belt exurbanite whose loyalty to Nascar does not extend to Dale Earnhardt Jr., who was fined last month for saying a four-letter word on television.

According to this argument, the values voters the Democrats must pander to are people like Cary and Tara Leslie, archetypal Ohio evangelical "Bush votes come to life" apotheosized by The Washington Post right after Election Day. The Leslies swear by "moral absolutes," support a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage and mostly watch Fox News. Mr. Leslie has also watched his income drop from $55,000 to $35,000 since 2001, forcing himself, his wife and his three young children into the ranks of what he calls the "working poor." Maybe by 2008 some Democrat will figure out how to persuade him that it might be a higher moral value to worry about the future of his own family than some gay family he hasn't even met.
Whose Moral Values? 
03:33pm 11/11/2004
  Another in a multi-part series of rants on so-called "moral values."


Everyone craves it. Prince sang about it. Magazines sell on it. Sometimes it’s confusing…like the Janet Jackson nipple thing. Was that really controversial, the suggestion that a woman has tits? Ooops, sorry to embarrass you all, but in case you didn’t know, I have a nipple! For goodness sake, we all have them, get over it! Although, to be fair, in Disney’s Fantasia, only the evil characters sport them, a fact which might lead some youth to some interesting questions. But I write the obvious and I digress, let’s move on.

When I walked into the MAEP gallery last Saturday, there were two pieces I was told were controversial: the “Fuck Coleman” T-shirt (see below, 11/06 intake) and the abortion effigy.

Now, there has been some complaint on this blog that the Art of Democracy work is not particularly controversial, so I was eager to see what had caused a stir. I really like the abortion piece – to me it's funny, unlike abortion. Perhaps it is not meant to be funny, but I lived in Chicago too long when “Late Night Catecism” played all night and every night, plus I love “The Sound of Music” with those loveable old nuns who sin for the right reasons. The homemade nun here is like an over grown teddy bear, if only those pesky coat hangers weren’t in the way.

The piece is not graphic at all, but rather cartoonish. So why is it controversial? I’ve been at a lot of pro-abortion rights rallies, and I’ve seen what the opposition puts on their signs – bloody fetuses, which couldn’t even be aborted, presumably crying for help. They are like some horror film that tries to terrorize by grossing you out but has no sense of tension or timing. Perhaps they are effective for those of little imagination.
Could it be the red-painted coat hangers that cause the stir (requests to the MAEP staff to have the piece taken down)? The hangers fade into the piece, they are hardly graphic. Frankly, I would like to see some photographs of women who have suffered from back alley abortions. Where are the photographs of precious young lives reduced to begging and borrowing to have their bodies back for whatever reason brought them to that point? Read Eleanor Cooney’s Mother Jones article about her experience pre Roe v. Wade.
It should be a reminder to all of us of what we don’t want to go back to, but are perilously close to revisiting.

It seems to be just the mention of abortion that creates the controversy, not the art itself. And from whence did that controversy spring?

Kristin Luker’s important book Abortion & The Politics of Motherhood (U of CA Press 1984) is a must read for anyone interested in how abortion became one of the most contested “moral values” in our society. In that book, she lays out the history of abortion as well as an overview of the right and left on the issue. She makes a very compelling case that the right to practice abortion was not really about the abortion procedure, but reflected a struggle for dominance of the medical profession. Created as a morality issue during the 19th century Victorian era, abortion was picked up by a burgeoning medical community as an entry point for medical doctors to wrest power away from female healing and midwife practitioners. Women were practicing abortion, relatively safely for millennia up to that point. Thank you Queen Victoria (who, by the way, had 9 children). Frankly, what didn’t screw us up about the 19th Century (except the invention of photography, that Faustian bargain)? Ironically, it would be doctors in the 1960s who would fight to legalize abortion, horrified by the bloodied and wounded bodies flowing into their offices.

Constantly I hear women, even myself, apologizing, “I’m not for abortion, it is a terrible thing…I wish no one had to do it…” Yea, abortion is terrible, but is so because no woman should have to suffer such a procedure. If we are talking moral values, rape is a hell of a lot worse, and so is poverty, and clitoral emasculation, not to mention a lack of health and day care for children and, holy cow, women! So when, as the effigy points out, our government pulls out any support for UN family planning programs (read contraception), I know exactly who is going to suffer – women, and that makes me angry.

Returning to the show, I am brought to this other piece, perhaps not considered as controversial because it is small and tucked away, but nevertheless powerful in its condemnation by speaking a plain truth.

“War kills generations”
Hey all you abortion foes who support war, take a good long look at this piece - look familiar? Oh yea, and put that in your moral values pipe and smoke it!

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Today's rant 
11:45am 10/11/2004

Scientist Uses Unsharp Mask to Deconstruct!

Censored by the New York Times, Salon online Magazine was the only mainstream outlet to run a story investigating the bulge in Bush's suit jacket during the debates. Sure, there were a lot of speculations running around left-wing blogs, but I was excited to see digital techniques used to deconstruct Bush's jacket.

Creating something like a Warhol screen print, who knew that a scientist, from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory no less, was busy tweeking away at Photoshop to uncover the snakey mystery. For the full story, check out Salon. http://www.salon.com/news/feature/2004/10/29/bulge/index.html

So why is it that we artists must rely upon science to use our trusty tools to explore the truth? What are we waiting for? Or are we still in that repressive mindset the later 20th century drummed into us - thee Artist shall not speak his mind against the establishment!! What friggin' commandment was that?

And where is marriage enshrined in the Constitution anyhow? I do recall, although I wasn't there, that the Church, after opposing marriage for centuries (see letters of Paul), decided to get on the bandwagon 'cause so much property was being bandied about and they wanted a stake in it. The Church wasn't too interested in civil unions because, well, they were civil.

But I digress.

The media is allready rolling over for Bush (and you are surprised?), see: http://www.salon.com/news/feature/2004/11/10/press_mandate/index.html
so I guess the artists will have to pick up the slack again. I mean, if we can move into a blighted neighborhood, clean it up and make it presentable for yuppies to turn into a real estate windfall, then surely we can do something about a broken media, and, heck, a broken country for that matter. I am so tired of hearing about moral values. Whose moral values? Not mine, and certainly not Jesus's. Uh, anyone remember when he said, "do unto others?" Oh, I get it, all those homophobes are afraid they will be done unto.


take a good look in the mirror, my god, look at your hair! And, that anger doesn't suit you.

So let's get going - let's see some art -- one, two, three.... Go!

Infotainment Analysis 
10:08am 09/11/2004

Fox News makes partisan art by casting news in Murdoch's image,
Patrick Goldstein deconstructs:




A week on a high-octane diet of pure Fox News

Inspired by Morgan Spurlock in "Super Size Me," this columnist finds his health jeopardized by a week of Fair and Balanced reporting.
By Patrick Goldstein
Times Staff Writer

Nov 9 2004

No film this year gave me more horrified howls of enjoyment than "Super Size Me," the documentary where director Morgan Spurlock offers a visceral firsthand portrait of the hazards of fast food by embarking on a 30-day McDonald's-only diet. Spurlock's cholesterol levels skyrocket, his liver functions deteriorate, he gains nearly 30 pounds — all in a matter of weeks. It gets so ugly that his doctor tries to put a stop to the film, saying his health is at risk.

It got me to thinking. What if I were to test my health in a different way — spending presidential election week watching Fox News exclusively? Call it the Liberal Cold Turkey Diet: no CNN, no Dan Rather, no PBS, no Paul Krugman columns. My only oxygen would be the pure, unfiltered, high-octane air of Fox News. What better week to test the network's claims that, while its commentators might lean to the right, its news programming is straight down the middle.

Here are some excerpts from my bumpy journey into Fair and Balanced Land:

Monday, Nov. 1, election eve:

8: 15 a.m. My doctor says I'm in fantastic shape. My blood pressure is 111/64. My cholesterol is 108. My glucose level is 77. He checks my testosterone level. The normal range is 240 to 830. I'm a tad low, but pretty good for a liberal. My doctor chuckles darkly: "Let's see what happens to that number after a few straight days of 'Hannity and Colmes.' "

9:09 a.m. It's early, but today's Fox News theme is clear: pump up Bush, dump on Kerry. News anchor David Asman grills Democratic party strategist Tad Devine on why "we continue to hear from Kerry the stuff about Tora Bora and how we allowed Osama bin Laden to get away and yet he's on record when that took place saying he wouldn't do anything different from what George W. Bush did." When Devine disputes that, Asman jumps in: "He didn't say that in December 2001 ... "

Devine: "Yes he did."

Asman: "No he didn't. I can quote him."

Devine: "You can pull out part of what he said ... "

Asman: (waving papers in the air) "I'm looking at the whole transcript!"

10:04 a.m. Commerce Secretary Donald Evans appears, offering a tribute to guess who: "I've known the president for 39 years and I can tell you this is a man that has a big heart and a great mind who wakes up every morning thinking about you."

10:49 a.m. A Fox News update from Martha MacCallum. I make a note: Every female Fox News reporter I've seen so far is a blond. Coincidence or conspiracy?

6:07 p.m. Sean Hannity asks presidential brother Jeb Bush what might possibly be the easiest question he's gotten in 15 years: "We now have discovered the Democrats were out polling the position for John Kerry on Bin Laden," says Hannity. "What are your thoughts?"

6:59 p.m. Molly Henneberg reports from the battleground state of Ohio. (If you're keeping score — another blond.)

7:26 p.m. A catfight breaks out between political analysts Susan Estrich and the very conservative (and very blond) Laura Ingraham. Ingraham says that when people go to vote they'll realize "if they support Kerry, they're aligning themselves with the people of France ... and China ... and you heard Osama bin Laden try to interject himself...."

Estrich: "I think what Laura is doing now is really destructive. People are sick of this kind of garbage...." I think it is time to check my blood pressure.

Tuesday, election day:

8:48 a.m. The Fox News headline reads: "Trust is a major focus of this election."

9:10 a.m. Rudy Giuliani is on saying the real focus of the election is "trust."

10: 03 a.m. Mike Emanuel reports: "The president says this election is all about who you trust." Anyone want to guess what the Fox theme of the day is?

5:45 p.m. Fox news anchor Brit Hume is definitely not a blond. A man with zero charisma, he's Fox's oddly endearing grumpy old man. While everyone else is hyping election drama, Brit seems almost, well, catatonic. No TV news anchor has shown less of a heartbeat since Chet Huntley. The only time he perks up all night is when reporter Chris Wallace jokes about winning a bet involving Jon Stewart. Brit growls: "If you do, buddy, you're going to be in a lot of trouble with me because I'm going to get a gun and go" — he pretends to draw a six-shooter — "POWW!"

6:36 p.m. Rudy Giuliani is on again. When Brit's eyes begin to flutter shut, Rudy quips: "Brit, get some coffee!"

9:41 p.m. Fox is the first to call Ohio for Bush, giving him 269 electoral votes.

11:11 p.m. Reporter Carl Cameron, at Kerry headquarters, observes that Kerry lives "in a posh neighborhood inside the very posh neighborhood of Beacon Hill." I head for my posh Hollywood medicine cabinet.


8:41 a.m. I wake up bleary-eyed. Kerry must have lost. Fox's Brian Wilson is calling him "a gracious man."

9:02 a.m. David Asman sounds the day's theme: "We had a greater distance between the two candidates than we've had in years. It's a big mandate for President Bush."

9:07 a.m. Asman asks Newsweek's Eleanor Clift, "Doesn't this qualify as a mandate in your eyes?"

9:15 a.m. Asman: "It is the biggest mandate a president has had since 1988." On the Fox ticker, it says Bush got 274 electoral votes. In 1996, Bill Clinton got 379 electoral votes to Bob Dole's 159. I guess Democratic victories don't count.

9:16 a.m. Megyn Kendall and Carol McKinley report on the Senate race outcomes. Two more blonds. Does Fox have a blond wrangler who finds all these women?

11:24 a.m. Rudy Giuliani is back again. Does he have a deal for a Fox reality show or something?

6:13 p.m. Sean Hannity interviews — surprise — Rudy Giuliani. Hannity holds up a very red county-by-county map of the USA, saying "the president got the largest vote margin of any candidate in history." My chest suddenly feels heavy. Is that a heart attack or just the crushing weight of all those red states?


8:25 a.m. I feel as if my blood pressure is skyrocketing, my cholesterol is out of control and testosterone is off the charts. I'm putting off seeing my doctor because I know what he'll say: "Three more days of this and you'll be in the cardiac unit. You really should quit now." I look into the mirror and see my lip curled into an O'Reilly-esque sneer. Fat chance.

9:23 a.m. What do those pointy-headed Europeans think of our president? Cut to the headline in the London Daily Mirror: "How Can 59,054,087 People Be So Dumb?"

9:34 a.m. The day's theme, the bashing of the liberal elite, is in full swing, with Asman lumping together Bruce Springsteen, Michael Moore, George Soros, CBS and the New York Times. "What do they all have in common?" he asks. "They all staked their chips on John Kerry's election and they lost."

His guest, Charles Krauthammer, suggests they all seek asylum in France, noting that "they still have Devil's Island, which would be an excellent place for them." I reach for a bottle of Maalox.

5:12 p.m. Bill O'Reilly says, "I was thinking to myself today, who's the Democrat who's actually going to tell me the truth?" Oh my God, it's Al Sharpton on "The O'Reilly Factor." O'Reilly predicts that Hillary Clinton will be the Democratic standard-bearer in 2008, prompting Sharpton to ask who the Republicans will run.

O'Reilly: "Giuliani."(Geez, that guy must have a contract!)

Sharpton: "Bring him on! I never thought I'd live to say 'Bring Rudy on!' "

O'Reilly: "Well, he put you in jail once ... "

Sharpton: "That's why he won't win! He'd put everybody in jail if he's elected!"

5:48 p.m. Fox News legal analyst Lis Wiehl (OK, guess her hair color!) predicts the Scott Peterson murder case verdict: second-degree murder.

6:02 p.m. Sean Hannity holds up his county-by-county map again: "It's all red, it's all red." As I pop a couple of Xanax, I wonder — if I shoved that map down his throat, would a jury convict me?


1:22 p.m. Today's theme: Let's bash the French! Terry (oh-so-blond) Keenan is hosting "Your World With Neil Cavuto." Jacques Chirac has snubbed Iraqi leader Iyad Allawi. Her guest says it was probably in response to Allawi calling Chirac a "spectator" during the Iraq war. Keenan cheerfully replies: "Referring to [the French] as spectators might be giving them too much credit."

2:30 p.m. How's this for a scary Fox headline: "You Decide: 2008." Or as Fox reporter Heather Nauert (I'll just say this — not a brunet!) puts it: "It's never too soon to start talking about the next election." As a reporter dutifully slogs through the list of potential Democratic aspirants, Heather cuts him off, getting to the real topic: "How can the Democrats not nominate Hillary?"

2:59 p.m. Outraged over Chirac, "Big Story" host John Gibson complains that the "oily" French leader has run off to see Yasser Arafat on his deathbed. Imagine, he says, "preferring to hold a conversation with a terrorist in a coma than meet with the man who's trying to bring the values of the French Revolution to poor, beat-up Iraq." I can envision the Fox News dream Democratic ticket for 2008: Hillary and Chirac!

11:27 p.m. Sean Hannity is still upset about those weaselly Europeans who didn't lift a finger to help us in Iraq. Interviewing former Democratic VP nominee Geraldine Ferraro, he compares the "holocaust" in Iraq to World War II, saying, "isn't it a holocaust when you pull 500,000 human bodies out of mass graves?"

Ferraro delicately points out that he seems to have forgotten about the 100,000 Iraqi civilians who have been killed since we occupied the country.

Sean: "Aren't they better off without Saddam Hussein?"

Geraldine: "No, they're not better off. They're dead!"

That's it. I gobble some Vicodin. I feel woozy, the room starts to spin....


9:33 a.m. I've switched off Fox News and am lying in bed, sipping warm milk, watching a French cooking show on PBS. I'm going to stay under the covers for a long time.

The Big Picture appears Tuesdays in Calendar. For comments and suggestions, e-mail patrick.goldstein@latimes.com.

Copyright 2004 Los Angeles Times
Jesusland, a.k.a. Intolerancistan 
08:08am 08/11/2004

At the risk of overusing this image and making us all sick of it, take one more look at the Jesusland map:


Now, compare Jesusland to a map that records slave states in a previous less-tolerant version of the U.S., on the eve of the Civil War.
The green represents free states and territories.
The red represents slave states.
The brown represents territories open to slavery.


With the exception of Iowa, Indiana, and Ohio, it's the same map.

So I ask: How do the red-state religious folk square their slave-owning past with their love for organized worship? When George Bush thumps his podium and sputters "we're a nation devoted to freedom," do Republicans know in their hearts this is coded double-speak, meaning "all of us are free who are of the proper skin color and worship Christ, the son of God, who died on the cross to set us free"?

And how did the notions of a right-wing, intolerant, and strictly interpreted fundamentalist Christian-based morality come to be the crux issue for 22% of the voters in this election?

Can anyone explain the reasons for these things? Just wondering...

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What? You forgot to vote? 
10:42pm 07/11/2004



Please Vote!

Why is it that we, as artists, designers, activists, must spend so very much of our precious time trying to convince other people to make up their minds? And once they have, to express it?

Didn’t you get awfully tired of all the endless chatter about the “undecided voter?” At one point I was sure that they were really all decided, but liked the attention, wanting their doors to be knocked upon. However, after knocking on many, many doors in the weeks leading up to the election, and facing one too many blank stares when I asked them, “So what are the issues you are concerned about?” “Do you have any questions I might be able to address?” “Let me tell you how I look at the issues…” I finally did come to the conclusion that there is a genuine class of people who just don’t know what to think, and as a result, would be quite comfortable if someone told them. I also have this problem on occasion, but it is usually about something relatively meaningless, like what time to meet at the restaurant and who’s gonna drive to get there. It is never, never over who is going to be the leader of the Free World.

After feeling like I had more or less resolved myself on this issue, it arose again at the Art of Democracy show this weekend. So many posters and buttons were practically begging viewers to vote. I won’t even comment on the ones trying to glean votes for either Bush or Kerry, few and far between, and on Saturday, after the fact, those don’t really seem to make a difference. It is the Vote. Vote! Please Vote! ones that really caught my attention, and this assumption that if one only votes, right will be done. Or that we can somehow put our broken country back together.
Ok, now it is obvious that my version of right refers to “that which is conventionally moral or appropriate” and not “a blow delivered with the right hand” (which is what happened, in my opinion, but that’s another article). Oh, and by right I mean left, “supporting liberal, socialist, or communist political and social changes or reform.” But right also means “an entitlement, freedom, or privilege to do something,” so why do so many people choose to not exercise their right, and why does that leave the rest of us begging them to do so?

But I steered leftward of my course…
I meant to say how mesmerized I was at the MAEP show by all of these posters advocating voting, because it became clear to me that every single one that begged for a vote, without advocating for a candidate, assumed that the more votes cast, the more liberal the outcome. In other words, the assumption that high turnout meant a Kerry victory. Otherwise the result is thinking that just voting itself makes you a winner. Whoopee!
Hey, if people are so stupid, that they have to be told to vote, if it's that hard, for goodness sake, tell them WHO to vote for – the other side does (from the pulpits, no less – God herself tells them)!

Come on, people! The Right (“political conservatives generally, or the opinions they hold”) knows who won. It’s a winner take all game, baby (59+ million vs 55+ million), and the conservatives have promised to spend that mandate (on what? More war? Better fitting suits for Bush? Some foot warmers for Grover Norquist?) making us safer from ourselves. That’s all of us.

Which leads me to P. Diddy. Yeah, I can get behind the “Vote or Die” campaign. Yeah, express an opinion or shrivel up and go to hell. No begging there. No soft pedaling. No, “Please, please, please vote…. It will do you so much good! You’ll like it… just 10 minutes of your life….blah blah blah.” For friggin’ sake, read Brave New World already!

No more begging. I don’t wanna see any more signs begging people to vote. If four years of Bush didn’t do it – there ain’t nothin’ that’s gonna get them to the polls. But there are lots of other ways to vote than at a polling station. Yeah, my favorite vote piece from the show is just a reminder,

And there will be lots of reminders over the next four years.

Perhaps the most thoughtful vote poster is the one advocating not voting, rather a desire by those who want to vote by not voting the opportunity to not vote (you know what I mean). Yea, let’s have a “none of the above” category on every ballot and force our candidates to work for that magical 50%, not of registered, but of voting age population.
Better yet, let’s allow the kids to decide, it’s their future anyway. I worked as a poll watcher on Blue Tuesday, and I saw those kids make a bee-line to the kid voting area. No hesitation, no questions… I guess they already know, Vote or Die.

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Web Forum Open 3-4pm 11/7/04 
02:30pm 07/11/2004

Web Forum:Selling the Message: How Was This Election Packaged Question #4

Just Google"Jesusland" and you’ll come up with about a million links.

This image is flying around the web faster than you can wipe a tear away – I myself have received it emailed to me about 10 times and it has already once been posted on this site.

As a topic of conversation, what is it about this image that is so powerful? How can we tap into its power and create other images similar to it – that speak so effectively to people? Does it visualize a secret desire that all of us have right about now… As John Stewart said the other day, “Maybe the red states would be happier without us?”
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Web Forum Open 3-4pm 11/7/04 
02:28pm 07/11/2004

Web Forum:Selling the Message: How Was This Election Packaged Question #3

There’s a group of designers out there trying to visualize a new world. How can we use design to further the causes of democracy? By redesigning ballots, tax forms, voter information…. They intend “to enable greater participation in the American civic experience through careful design of how public information is presented and how interactions between government and the governed occur.”
Check out the Design for Democracy website at

Consider how better design might improve your life!
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Web Forum Open 3-4pm 11/7/04 
02:23pm 07/11/2004

Web Forum:Selling the Message: How Was This Election Packaged Question #2

At least in the battleground states, individuals were inundated with campaign commercials, not only from the campaigns themselves, but from 527 groups on both sides of the argument. Accusations flew wildly about like pigeons in a hurricane, yet there didn’t seem to be any check (or balance) on the content of the commercials.
The most powerful image I saw was the day before the election sponsored by Real Voices.org
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