Thursday, February 26, 2009

suing our parents for giving us this life

I remember once when I was a lowly altar boy, in some sort of educational setting, a visiting priest was rambling on about good and evil.

The poor old guy had heard some story about a retarded kid who was suing his parents for allowing his birth, for having brought him into the world, albeit retarded.

This apparently didn't go over too well with the catholic.

"I'd like to hold that boy down, and VOMIT," he spat, "I'd VOMIT - in his FACE. They gave him LIFE! AND THIS is how he is going to repay them !?!"

I seem to recall that the headline of that story, like a newspaper clipping, was part of the original poster insert in the Dead Kennedys Fresh Fruit for Rotting Vegetables, way back when it was released. That thing doesn't seem to be anywhere online, but the concept is still good; vulgar horrible stories from the 70s and 80s when the Reagan years were still at their ignoble height.

When I think about that stupid priest, not understanding in the slightest, the despair and frustration of a 12 year old who is facing problems and challenges greater than most of us can even imagine - well I just like to remind myself that I was 12 too. Stupid parents never get it.

Photo is borrowed with thanks from red betty black's flickr photostream.

Monday, February 16, 2009

The New York I Remember:

[...]from 2003 to 2007, the securities industry accounted for 59 percent of the growth in wages and salaries in the city, according to the Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, even though it makes up only 6 percent of all private-sector employment.

Ronnie Lowenstein, Director, Independent Budget Office, Interviewed in the New York Times, February 15, 2009.

Go figure...

Sunday, February 15, 2009

They are not sociopaths.

From Glenn W. Smith on Firedoglake:
And so it is with a large number of Americans who defend a murderous health care system because their state has convinced them that chaos would follow reform. Their capacity for empathy is turned off by a thousand different cultural influences that celebrate selfishness and make "others" invisible or vaguely dangerous. After all, they can say, they didn't set the building ablaze. Order requires that they allow others to die behind the locked doors.
And so it is with a large number of Americans who defend the wisdom of criminal business "leadership," the privatization of the military, the mantra of tax-cuts before, during and after everything. But maybe more interesting in Smith's essay is this passage on empathy.
Schmitz clearly has a capacity for empathy. We see this in her reaction to great stories, by Chekov, Twain, and others. But that capacity was deadened by the Nazi state.
And so it is not only with the rapt audience of Bill O'reilly's The Factor, or whatever it's called. But likewise with the rapt, climbing Chelsea gallery set, the Los Angeles/Roma Nte Cocaine gallery hipsters, whose insistence on "success at any cost" has deadened the story-telling ability of art into a confused mantra of night-club sensibilities: "Tomorrow will never come," and "Art can never help anyone - though it shines." Of course, of course. That deadened sensibility, that cynicism, runs rampant through just about any public art forum I have been to.

Talk to some University level art instructors if you don't believe me.

It results not from the too-broad reach of modernist art principle, nor the wild every which way that art has gone over the past 5 decades. It's from the loss of empathy as the chief facilitator and enterprise of art-making.

Whether writing in the tradition of, or with the inspiration of Chekhov, or Twain or Pynchon or Virginia Woolf, I meet lots of bad writers. None of them, good bad or otherwise, believe the novel is useless, and only a vehicle to promote their own writerly celebrity. Wouldn't it be nice to say the same for the painters? And even nicer to say it of their promoters.

Empathizing with Schmitz, or Chelsea, isn't getting any easier.
Ciudad de México, barrios, colonias, arquitectura.