Art Pottery, Politics and Food
Saturday, June 07, 2003

Friday, June 06, 2003

Highball is a parody site available at

Here are a few particularly idiotic portions of the sentence fragment-laden transcript of Thursday’s Hardball on the General Electric and Microsoft owned cable network MSNBC:

MATTHEWS: This is like Maple Thorpe(sic) all over again. Catch the hot debate tonight.
MATTHEWS: This half hour, the HARDBALL Debate and the art museum built with the help of taxpayer money, features an artist who tramples on the American flag. Is this the best use of our tax dollars?
MATTHEWS: The Cincinnati Contemporary Art Center celebrated the opening of its new building with a performance by a Chinese artist dressed in a police uniform, complete with a Doberman dog, of course on a leash, walking on the American flag. The kicker, is the fact that taxpayers contributed $10 million in federal money from the National Endowment for the Arts to build the center and also they kicked into a portion of the cost of the exhibit.
MATTHEWS: I know that a lot of people, maybe myself included, are pretty much strict First Amendment people because I work in the business. I want to be strictly protected in terms of what I say on the air.
But when you’re getting federal money, is there any way that you can protect the First Amendment and still say, I mean, that dog for all we know could have taken a dump on the flag. Isn’t there some limit to what you can do with taxpayer money in terms of artistic expression?
MATTHEWS: But how do you get taxpayer to pay for any kind artistic expression if they know they’re paying for this?
ARMEY: No, they won’t. And what happens is, first of all, it’s a redistribution of income from hardworking people to privileged people.
And secondly, quite frankly, art like that, getting the publicity it does, I think works against the public’s desire to learn more appreciation for the arts.
MATTHEWS: Well, I don’t buy that part. You mean poor people and regular working people go to museums. You think the elite go to the museums and the working guy pays for them?
I think the people that make the most money in this country pay the most taxes and that money goes to museums for everybody.
ARMEY: You can’t tell me that the average family is going to bring their children to this art to learn something.

MATTHEWS: If I was a friend of that curator, I’d say why are you stirring up trouble? People ought to get some good art in this country. There’s not much money to go around. Why waste a nickel of it on dogs walking on flags?
KOVNER: Well, the answer is I’m sure the congressman has good taste but I don’t want to be bound. I don’t think the rest of us want to be bound by his judgment as to what is good art. Nor do I want my judgment as to what is good art to bind any of you.
MATTHEWS: Do you want that curator making these decisions?
Anyway, thank you, Victor, you’re a good sport. Thank you for coming on. I understand exactly where you’re coming from.
And Dick, this was like shooting fish in a barrel. Dick Armey, thank you for joining us.

Oh, Chris you kidder, it wasn’t "like shooting fish in a barrel” it was shooting fish in a barrel!
A beautiful example of how the media will present completely bogus and supposedly incriminating “facts” to justify poorly researched speculation which then inturn becomes the basis for additional poorly researched speculation or a Movie of the Week! God help our poor country when buffoonery like this is presented as public interest news programming.


I had the great pleasure to receive an email from the Director of Cincinnati’s Contemporary Art Center this morning.
Charles Desmarais joined the CAC, as Director, in 1995. During his tenure, the Contemporary Art Center, which was founded in 1939, has achieved fiscal stability and has enjoyed significant increases in membership and audience levels. Desmarais led the institution through a $35.7 million capital campaign that surpassed its original $20 million goal to build the Center's first free-standing home, the Lois & Richard Rosenthal Center for Contemporary Art on the corner of 6th and Walnut in downtown Cincinnati. He has authored over 100 articles and exhibition catalogues and was awarded an Art Critics Fellowship by the National Endowment for the Arts in 1979.

Mr. Desmarais, in the novel approach artistic people sometimes take, uses facts to rebut Chris Matthew’s flag hysteria.
According to the Director of the CAC:

…Matthews claimed that “$10 million of federal money – NEA grants” was used to help build the CAC. Would that the NEA had a fraction of that amount to give to any worthy institution!! The fact is that the National Endowment for the arts contributed $150,000 to the CAC endowment – about 0.4% (that’s fourth TENTHS of a percent) of the total building project. Congressman Armey could and SHOULD have known that…. There’s also NEA money in the CAC’s annual budget – less than 1% of the total this year…

Regular blog readers, I know, will be shocked, shocked I say, to learn Messers Matthews and Armey are rarely concerned with pesky details like facts when jackbooting around a television screen.
The Performance Artist who propelled Chris’ clean cotton panties into such a twisted state, according to the CAC website, is Zhang Huan an artist known for staging elaborate, ritualistic public performances that meld aspects of traditional Asian culture with contemporary performance. Zhang is considered one of the most influential members of the group "Beijing East Village," an art colony in the rural outskirts of Beijing. His works are in the collections of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and the Watari Museum of Contemporary Art in Tokyo.
As I suspected, the sly videotape aired by Mr. Matthews did not factually describe last weekend’s performance by Zhang Huan. According to Mr. Desmarais the performance “lasted about 15 minutes and ended with the release of peace doves and a very respectful, traditional folding of the flag. Come see the video, which should be available in the exhibition by Saturday.”

To everyone involved with the CAC, I've been dazzled by your new building's design and superb insertion into the downtown neighborhood. Now, I've been thrilled and made proud by your sorely needed art activism. Bravo!

Thursday, June 05, 2003
Our “Why couldn’t he have succumbed to malaria?” Department

Some innocent channel surfing resulted in hearing viewer less and desperate cable talking head Chris Matthews tease a segment about “the next Mapplethorpe”. Fully expecting another of Chris’ recent gay bashing segments I stayed tuned to his channel.
Imagine my surprise to realize that Matthews meant the new Cincinnati Contemporary Art Center, whose old location was the scene of the famous 1990 exhibit Robert Mapplethorpe: The Perfect Moment, and not Mapplethorpe’s homosexual subject matter.
Matthews, host of a cable program with a rating hovering around 1% of the marketplace, was incensed that tax dollars could have been used to fund a performance artist exhibited during the CAC opening weekend. The art, from the videotape that must have been provided by local NBC affiliate WLWT, was a young Asian ethnic wearing a black police uniform and accompanied by a Doberman Pinscher standing on a large plastic America flag and surrounded by a large crowd. There was no factual description of any activity by the person dressed as a policeman or the dog. Matthews’ major concern, and believe me I am not joking, was that "the dog could have taken a dump on the flag”. In today’s Orwellian cable TV world the Poop Menace fear was also expressed by crass boor, Contemporary Art critic and former Texas Congressman Dick Armey. Had the seemingly well-behaved dog left a present on the obviously plastic flag, I am positive that WLWT and Mr. Matthews would have been happy to broadcast that image. Since that image was not broadcast I’m confident the doggie showed a restraint that would have behooved Mr. Matthews.
I urge the artist and the CAC to consider replacing, in future performances, the plastic flag with a large plastic photo of Mr. Matthews.
While not a fan of contemporary art I’m thrilled and proud that the CAC has rattled cages so early in its run and that it will join the fabulous new Cincinnati Wing of the Cincinnati Art Museum and 2004’s opening of the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in changing the world’s perception of the great city of Cincinnati!

Of course many have commented upon the infighting between Colin Powell’s harried State Department and Snowflake crazy Don Rumsfeld’s Pentagon.
A careful read of this morning’s papers and a few blogs further points to serious infighting at the DOD as WMD fingers go pointing.

CNN's allegedly glamorous Paula Zahn with Rummy
at White House Correspondent's Dinner

With the Bush Hawks so obviously fracturing as NoWMD balloons into a large political issue, one might imagine an enterprising newshound stalking last night’s B list White House Correspondent’s Dinner would want to engage his knowledgeable companion, however briefly, in a serious discussion about a very current and growing story. According to this morning’s Washington Post CNN Pentagon correspondent Jamie McIntyre didn’t feel so inclined:

"Every night's a friendly night," said Rumsfeld, who attended as the guest of CNN Pentagon correspondent Jamie McIntyre. McIntyre hovered nearby at the pre-dinner reception, carefully balancing his roles as gracious host and tough reporter. "It is a dangerous thing because you want the secretary to respect you, but you don't want to look like you're currying favor or pulling your punches," he said. "So I'm planning to give him a lot of grief tonight." This sounded like fun. A spirited exchange on WMD? "Weapons of mass destruction will not come up," said McIntyre, glancing sideways at Rumsfeld. "We'll probably talk about other things."

Without Jamie’s corporate constraints, Josh Marshall has an interesting post about Douglas Feith, Undersecretary of Defense for Policy “and generally considered one of the uberest of uber-hawks in the administration.”
Mr. Feith held a press conference yesterday to rebut the growing political issue that civilian political appointees “shaped” intelligence to justify the Iraq II conflict.
Seven paragraphs into Eric Schmitt’s New York Times report on the Wednesday press conference we get hints of trouble in paradise:

After Mr. Feith's nearly hour long briefing, some defense officials familiar with classified intelligence assessments on Iraq, its ties to terrorists and what the government charged were its weapons of mass destruction programs, said they were baffled or angered by his remarks. One senior official, who said he was skeptical of Mr. Feith's account, was too angry to answer immediately. Another official said simply, "There was a lot of doublespeak out there."

Meanwhile, the Washington Post front page trumpets Dick Cheney’s unusual “multiple” visits from the bunker to Langley in a story headlined, Some Iraq Analysts Felt Pressure From Cheney Visits:

Vice President Cheney and his most senior aide made multiple trips to the CIA over the past year to question analysts studying Iraq's weapons programs and alleged links to al Qaeda, creating an environment in which some analysts felt they were being pressured to make their assessments fit with the Bush administration's policy objectives, according to senior intelligence officials…the visits by the vice president and his chief of staff, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, "sent signals, intended or otherwise, that a certain output was desired from here," one senior agency official said yesterday.

In a further possible sign of chaos, moments ago CNN reported that the Pentagon now says that the highly publicized reports about the death of Saddam’s cousin Chemical Ali, to paraphrase Twain, were greatly exaggerated.

Future GM advertisement?

Lloyd Grove through Knight-Ridder has an interesting example of growing American influence among the common people of Iraq:

Iraqi [have a] penchant for nicknaming pickup trucks: "Locals call the vehicles 'Monicas,' as in Lewinsky, after the former White House intern whose appearance meets Iraqi standards for both feminine and automotive beauty. 'She's a beautiful girl, and it's a beautiful car,' said Ghazi Abdullah Dormari, whose auto-trading lot in the Kurdish city of Irbil features several late-model Monicas.

Photo: Susan Biddle, Washington Post

Wednesday, June 04, 2003

Results of Pew research, available in this morning’s Washington Post but oddly released almost 4 months ago on February 27, 2003, clearly show the Bush Administration ”losing a propaganda war for the hearts and minds of millions of Arabs”:

The survey, conducted by the Pew Global Attitudes Project, suggests that al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden inspires more confidence than President Bush across much of the Arab and Muslim world. It also shows a further slump in public perceptions of the United States over the past year around the globe, with favorable ratings down to as low as 1 percent in Jordan and the Palestinian territories…"We have gone from bad to worse over the past year," said Andrew Kohut, director of the Pew Research Center…"We have been unable to make the case against bin Laden with Muslims because they see the United States as a threat."

Clearly our disengaged President’s monosyllabic nonsequiturs are not playing in foreign lands where leaders are normally expected to possess a vocabulary and not simply a state controlled media.
Curiously the Pew research shows America’s highly exportable pop culture to be held in higher esteem by the Arab world than Mr. Bush’s own political party:

…The survey suggested little correlation between support for bin Laden and hostility to American ideas and cultural products. People who expressed a favorable opinion of bin Laden were just as likely to appreciate American technology and cultural products as people opposed to bin Laden…

Memo to corporations supporting Mr. Bush:
Perhaps in America, the planet Earth’s wildest Party Country, we should be beating our swords into CDs, gleaming fuel-efficient cars and the usual dazzling array of timesaving appliances! Hey all you “wild and crazy” Ahmeds and Hamids of the world! Grab yourself a brew-ski and par-tay with all the hot, hot guys and gals in a democratic market economy. You know you want some!


Dr. Rice smolders as J.W. Waterhouse's Cleo

Speaking of “wanting some” allow me to draw your attention to this item in Lloyd Grove’s increasingly interesting Washington Post column:

Cybergossip Matt Drudge…claims that the Democratic National Committee has assembled a "really thick . . . dirt file" on Condoleezza Rice…As for the so-called "dirt file," DNC Communications Director Debra DeShong gave a non-denial denial. "We don't talk about our research," she said, "but we understand that Arnold Schwarzenegger" -- who might face President Bush's national security adviser in the GOP primary of a future California governor's race -- "has a real good file on her."

Gir-r-rl! Ooh, Condi, I’ve always suspected that beneath that understated monochromatic exterior there beats the heart of a tigress! Me-ow!

This depressing MSNBC link shows that Shuttle astronauts could have been rescued if NASA's corporate bureauracy had bothered. There's a lesson here, America!

Photos: USNews, CNN,

Tuesday, June 03, 2003

Is Martha Stewart On Trial slotted to be the next disinformational dazzlement that gluts the media and obscures the ’04 Presidential Race? According to an Associated Press report on the New York Times website:

Stewart's lawyers have told the company that she is the target of a criminal investigation by the U.S. attorney in Manhattan, which ``intends to request the grand jury to return an indictment against her in the near future.''

Is it possible that the tough cookie that bakes cookies wants a court fight?
Does certain Republican fortitude in this matter stem from Martha’s possibly ill-timed TV tour of the White House with Hillary Clinton broadcast less than a month after Dubya’s inaugural?
Hummmm…please make a note in all beautifully hand-covered day planners and monthly organizers!

Monday, June 02, 2003
Please read the great Paul Krugman's Tuesday June 3, 2003 column headlined, Standard Operating Procedure:

...The important point is that this isn't about Saddam: it's about us. The public was told that Saddam posed an imminent threat. If that claim was fraudulent, the selling of the war is arguably the worst scandal in American political history — worse than Watergate, worse than Iran-contra. Indeed, the idea that we were deceived into war makes many commentators so uncomfortable that they refuse to admit the possibility.
So. (try to imagine a dramatic pause) Today, as reported on the Washington Post website, the very unheralded Powell Rules went into effect as:

An ideologically fractured Federal Communications Commission voted 3 to 2 along party lines today to relax or eliminate some key media ownership rules, allowing a newspaper to own a television station in the same city and broadcast networks to buy more stations at the national and local levels. FCC Chairman Michael K. Powell joined fellow Republican commissioners Kathleen Q. Abernathy and Kevin J. Martin in approving the changes, while Democrats Jonathan S. Adelstein and Michael J. Copps voted against the changes.

FCC Chairman Michael K. Powell, whom I consider the prettiest house slave on the whole Bush Plantation if a tad on the chubby side, has insisted in his Buddha-like appearances that he frets over the fate of “innocents” like Mel Karmazin out in the tough competitive marketplace.
If any of you saw Mr. Karmazin testify before Congress you might agree with me that Viacom President Mel Karmazin looks, to use the vernacular, rough, resembling a cleaned-up member of a tony crime syndicate. He seemed, like the other innocent from Australia, highly capable of negotiating market dangers with perhaps the “assistance” of a few of his own henchmen without the capitulation of a Federal Agency.
I was a television director for 30 years. I directed a wide range of programs for foreign and domestic broadcasting companies and governments. In my last years (mid to late 90’s) I directed the main daily newscasts for a large top 10 market station. This station, at that time, netted $40 million annually after taxes.
For 14 years of my 17 years at the station my newscasts were, through the efforts of many many talented people, tops in the marketplace ratings. Today, after years of brutal cost cutting and cutthroat union negotiating, the station is populated with young low-paid non-union part-timers. Everything still looks fine, with “looks” the operative word, because the corporate boys never bat an eye at $300K news sets and still pay their curmudgeonly bloviating windbag of an anchor man $20K+, pre-tax, every bi-weekly pay period to front their video press release-filled local newscasts.
This station would annually win 20 to 25 Emmy statues for spot news, investigative reports and superb feature reporting produced by as diverse a group of people as could be imagined. No more. In a recent Emmy ceremony this station, nominated for only two minor awards, went home embarrassingly empty-handed.
Of course the ratings have tumbled from the Golden Days when cable and mergers still loomed in a distant future. In a six station market with four doing daily newscasts this station regularly has broadcasts trailing stations offering cartoons and sitcom reruns. One assumes their ad rates have fallen but in this crazy “make any number talk” marketing environment that is not necessarily a safe bet.
None of this possible loss of revenue through declining ad rates happened because of marketplace difficulties. As USA Interactive CEO Barry Diller said, "The only way you can lose money in broadcasting is if somebody steals it from you." Any loss of revenue came directly through the actions of the corporation. Now, thanks to the sneaky efforts of Mr. Powell, this same corporation can now own one newspaper and two television stations in the same town. And, with the cost cutting needed to pay for those acquisitions, television viewers across the US will soon witness an orgy of mergers and an absence of meaningful non-violent non-sexually objectifying content in a very happy news environment.

Photo: Rick Bowmer, Associated Press

Sunday, June 01, 2003

Sunday’s Washington Post raves about Cincinnati’s new Contemporary Arts Center.
The Monday June 2 edition of has an interview with CAC architect Zaha Hadid.


Buried on the second page of a report headlined The Bushes Tour Auschwitz on the New York Times website, so believe or not with your own free will, is a tiny little visit to Bob Jones University masquerading as an innocent question.
As President and Mrs. Bush tour the Auschwitz death camp the President asks senior curator of the Auschwitz Museum, Teresa Swiebocka, "Do people challenge the accuracy of what you present?"
Photo: The Associated Press

MORPHIUS: The Matrix is everywhere, it's all around us, here even in this room. You can see it out your window, or on your television. You feel it when you go to work, or go to church or pay your taxes. It is the world that has been pulled over your eyes to blind you from the truth.

NEO: What truth?

MORPHIUS: That you are a slave, Neo. That you, like everyone else, was born into bondage... ... kept inside a prison that you cannot smell, taste, or touch. A prison for your mind."

Dialogue: The Matrix, Warner Bros.
Bush/Putin Photos: Agence France Presse

Powered by Blogger