Collage 01: The Church Of Gasoline

collage01smBuilt from three images captured in Nicaragua and Arizona

I have ten deep flat file drawers full of photographic prints left over from the three year  stint when I ran my own gallery here in Tucson. I changed the entire show every month whether I sold anything or not.  I never sold much.  Now, with my impending move to Oaxaca, I have no interest in keeping either the prints or the flat file.

The file is easy.  I already have a buyer. I had considered simply recycling all of the prints, but I’m really not interested in taking the time to go through them, mat and frame some at great expense, and then watch as people walk by them, maybe stopping to take a photo of my art with their phone.

Honestly I am not interested in selling my photography at all these days. It has been an interesting transition, from ambitious painter to working photographer to author who used to be those things. I pretty much quit painting after 35 years of focus and development within a style unique to me.  I’m proud of the body of work I produced, but  I couldn’t tell you where most of it is.  Family and friends have maybe a couple of dozen paintings.  I have six.  That is out of two or three hundred. I’m going to take one of the six I have to Oaxaca.  The others I will either sell or give away.

A friend of mine (@jannytaylorcreates on instagram) has been collaging her way through the pandemic, a collage a day.  She is really good at it.  I mean really good. I don’t aspire to equal her abilities, but now I have something to do with my photos.  I’m going to cut them all up and rearrange them.  Then I’m going to photograph the results and throw them away in the recycle bin. I should be able to work my way through them before I leave next summer, and it will be fun. Kind of like dreaming, where all my memories and thoughts from both my travels and my life here get chopped up and mixed into a fantastical stew. Maybe I’ll get even luckier and my collages will inspire me to stir up some words into something profound. Stay tuned…

Finally

Masks are mandatory. No thanks to Arizona’s governor, Doug Ducey, who has his head so far up Trump’s ass that he, Mitch McConnell, and Lindsay Graham could have a threesome. No, all Ducey had the “courage” to do was to allow Arizona cities and counties to require them.

This should have been mandatory nationwide starting in March. It is remarkable how much more comfortable it is going out in public when you know that everyone is taking the most basic of precautions to prevent spread of the virus.

So by all means reopen.  Just be sure that all the idiots and assholes are required by law to exercise the common sense that they either don’t possess innately or choose to deny at the urging of the idiot asshole in chief.

 

Wear A Damn Mask

If you get Covid 19, the odds are a bit more than 1 in 20 that you will die. “I’ll take my chances,” you say. “It’s worth it to me because I don’t look good in a mask, or it isn’t comfortable, or it’s sissy liberal shit.”

Thing is, the mask isn’t for you.  It’s for everyone around you, especially if you are a dumb-ass and not heeding social distancing rules. If you don’t wear a mask and infect 20 people, you have just killed somebody.

Confederate Monuments

I have said this before, and I will say it again. Do not destroy these statues and monuments. Rather, in every municipality where they exist, set aside a plot of land, landscape it attractively, and put them all there.  Then put a big sign over the entrance that says LOSER PARK. That will effectively identify both the statues and those who stop in to worship them. As for buildings, streets, and military facilities named after these traitors and losers, just change the fucking names already. Name them after heroes, not traitors.

Remember Occupy?

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In 2011, Adbusters, a Canadian glossy counterculture publication created a hashtag and made a poster. In weeks, a movement had been created which spread across North America and to dozens of countries.

In Feb, 2012, Noam Chomsky came to speak at the U of A. Members of Occupy Tucson, which would become one of the longest lived, if not the longest Occupy encampment in the country, came to the talk, of course. They lined up behind the microphones to thank him for his support and ask him what they should worry about going forward. To paraphrase Chomsky, he said “I commend you on what you have accomplished.  Now you have to decide what you are going to do next.”  The point is, protest in itself accomplishes two things, it mobilizes people and gets the attention of the power structure. These are good things, and very important, but if you have no idea what comes next, your movement will go the way of Occupy, becoming a vague memory.

I am White, male, and American.  I possess more privilege than 99.99% of the world, so my voice is and should be secondary in the ongoing Black Lives Matter protests against police violence and systemic racism.  That isn’t going to stop me from speaking, however. I fully support all the people taking to the streets. I acknowledge and understand the pain and anger even though I can never completely internalize the experience of being Black in America. I will not condemn the violence except where it has been committed by opportunist groups who always show up at mass protests, or by police, especially in Washington DC at the order of our White Supremacist president. I commend the police departments who have marched shoulder to shoulder with protesters in many cities, and the protesters who have filmed outside instigators in action and tried to stop them.

To paraphrase Chomsky again, “Now what?” Millions are mobilized across the country and around the world. I have some radical friends, all White, who say “burn it down.”  They have no plan except the destruction of the status quo. If you tear it all down with no plan to rebuild, or if you depose the government with nothing to replace it, will you achieve your goal?  The riots in 1968 arguably resulted in the election of Richard Nixon.

The NAACP have clearly articulated a list of demands, all of which can and should be met.

1 – A ban on the use of knee holds and choke holds as an acceptable practice for police officers.

2 – The Use Of Force Continuum for any police department in the country must ensure that there are at least 6 levels of steps, with clear rules on escalation.

3 – Each state’s Open Records Act must ensure officer misconduct information and disciplinary histories are not shielded from the public. Recertification credentials may be denied for police officers if determined that their use of deadly force was unwarranted by federal guidelines.

4 – Implementation of citizens’ review boards in municipalities to hold police departments accountable and build public confidence.

So, how do we get there? More protests?  More destruction of our own neighborhoods? More police crackdowns? To we tear down the country and its governmental structure in the hope that some utopia will magically spring up in its place?

I don’t have an answer except to vote.  That answer is profoundly inadequate for my Black friends who feel that they have gone to the ballot box again and again to no avail.  All I can say is that Trump and McConnell have confirmed over 300 young right wing judges in 3 years, and will not stop unless we stop them. Don’t stop protesting, try to keep the protests non-violent, and show up at the damned voting booth in November so we can have a government more likely to be receptive to our demands.

Now a few words from one of the founders of Occupy Wall Street.  Please take the time to listen.

 

Summer

Summer was born in the winter of 1968, but she was conceived in 1967, during The Summer Of Love. Both her parents were hippies, and they probably got pregnant during that big concert, what was it called? Woodrock, or something like that. The location of her conception was uncertain because her father’s identity was uncertain. It was the Summer Of Love, after all, and men in the late 60’s were no more disposed to either behaving responsibly or taking responsibility than they have ever been, before or since. She was two before her mom found someone worth marrying, and she was 36 before Mom and Ma were able to make the marriage legal by moving to Massachusetts. She was 48 and Ma had died of breast cancer before that marriage was recognized nationwide.

She adjusted her mask and began walking towards the flames. It was hard to believe, after all this time, that people were still having to deal with this shit. She gasped, as something hit her in the leg.  Fuck! A rubber bullet bounced on the pavement as she set her jaw, hefted her sign, and limped forward. WE ARE ALL GEORGE FLOYD, the sign said.

But hey, I got $1200.

This week I had a small amount of income for the first time since April 8.  That was the day I filed for unemployment.  As a self employed person (I paint houses), I don’t qualify for the pitifully low $240 maximum state payout in Arizona. The last time I applied, in 1989, that amount was $235. The CARES act, however, allows self employed people to collect $600 a week in federal funds. So I applied, and have dutifully filled out my weekly form online every Sunday.  Arizona can’t figure out how to make its antiquated system do anything other than send out denial notices, so I have received nothing.  Interestingly, since the original form asked for an employer’s name and info, I put down myself.  A few days later, I got a form to fill out confirming that I wanted taxes withheld from any payment I got and also an employers packet which essentially said the state would do everything possible to prevent me from getting paid. I received them on a Friday and was given til Monday to get my employee paperwork back to Phoenix. I filled it out and ran down the street to catch the mailman.  The employer was given four extra days. Now the state says it has hired an unidentified outside agency to go through all the pandemic related claims to see if we are eligible.  They aren’t even going to start until the 12th, thirty four days after I originally applied. I am so fortunate I had a large job right before everything shut down. Even so, I have to continue to take whatever work I can get, despite being in the over 60 high risk category.  I am going to bid another job today. Maybe if I’m lucky I’ll get a retroactive payment for the $3000 that the CARES act says I am entitled to sometime next month. Fuck Trump and fuck the Republican party for decimating every humane thing our country has ever done. I can only imagine how it feels to be losing your job, your home, your car, everything, a situation millions of Americans face right now.

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“The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.”

-George Orwell, Animal Farm