Jan 27 2013

GET OFF MY CHEST! Vol. 3: Special Election Special

(we just need to vent a little)

(You can read the full article, incluing media, at Paul Pearson’s site HERE.)

Seattleite Paul Pearson and San Franciscan Diane Karagienakos are the consummate online friends. They have never met in person. They’ve never Skyped or even spoken on the phone. In fact, if not for their mutual connection to exactly two people, they might not have ever known of each other’s existence. But they instant-message each other with a rapport like they’ve been doing this internet thing for a hundred years.

In our third episode, Paul and Diane commiserate about the 2012 election. You will re-experience every cynical experience you have already experienced about the election. We will offer no answers for your most burning questions. We will lament as you have about the exhaustive nature of this process. We’ll come up with creative ways to complain about the disintegration of comparative political thought. We’ll get enraged about obvious obliviousness in this election, and then we’ll end our discussion abruptly. Then we’ll go cry, even if our candidates win.

By the way, lots of swearing in this piece, so — PARENTAL ADVISORY. Also, this convo took place on Halloween, hence the Halloween-y references. Enjoy.

Paul: Do we have liftoff?

Diane: Roger Roger. Clearance Clarence.

Paul: Freaking A. How’s it going Diane?

Diane: The world is orange and black here in SF. Between Halloween (mos def an adult holiday in this city) and the Giants parade. I’m avoiding the maddening crowd! How are you doing?

Paul: We have Nestle’s Crunch and $100,000 bars. Plus these little macaroni and cheese mini-cakes. Plus grandparents and television. Are you freaking excited about this election? Can you stand it anymore? Are you getting your electoral on?

Diane: MAC AND CHEESE MINI CAKES?!?!?!? I’m scared. Not scared of the cakes — the election.

Paul: Well, actually, they’re standard macaroni and cheese, but baked in a cupcake pan.

Diane: How is it in Seattle? Because here in San Francisco, it’s pretty radio silent, in terms of the campaign commercials. California is a Democratic given. And SF being so self-absorbed as a city, the only thing you hear about election-wise is all the propositions.

Paul: It’s wall to wall advertisements here. Our senator, Maria Cantwell, might as well be running uncontested. Extraordinarily popular Democratic senator. Good person.

Diane: And how come EVERY election gets the label “This is THE most important presidential election of our lifetime”?

Paul: Yeah. You know, pretty much every new presidential election will be the most important election of our lifetime. Isn’t it? I mean, what use do I have for the 2004 election? It’s no good to me.

Diane: I’m just flabbergasted that people are upset that Obama didn’t “fix it” in 4 years or think that Mitt might “fix it” in the next four.

Paul: Well, that’s a matter of the tone this country seems suited to these days.

Diane: I mean, fix the economy? Are people not aware that it is impacted by the shitty economy in Europe right now? Just to name one factor.

Paul: Nobody cares. Absolutely nobody cares to look deeply into this. They’re too busy searching for Kenyan birth certificates.

Diane: And where are all those tea baggers who insisted that the leader be a Christian? Shouldn’t they be protesting Romney right now, being that he’s Mormon and all.

Paul: I mean, leave this whole race behind for a second. Forget about Obama. Forget about Romney. How… did… this… media… get… so…. stupid? I think we’re a lazy-minded electorate now. And this shit, meaning this election, lasts for eighteen months.

Diane: You know Paul, I’m gonna go for it, and I’m not even drinking here. All this goddamn talk about creating jobs — what kind of jobs are they talking about, the small business owner? They’re talking about someone making just over minimum wage in a retail or low-skill job. They shipped all the middle class jobs over to Bangladesh or China or Korea or wherever else they can pay a pittance to have the work done or the product built.
And as for Mitt being a great business man and that means he can fix the economy. Hey, guess what: Lots of great businessmen turn a great profit for their companies by outsourcing or cutting jobs. It doesn’t mean he has the bigger picture in mind.

Paul: I don’t believe anyone. That is my great anger. And it disappoints me, but on the other hand, what the hell else am I supposed to feel?

Diane: Do you think there is a place in our society today for a Walter Cronkite or an FDR? Someone people trusted enough to just say, “Whatever you say, I trust your guidance.”

Paul: I don’t believe anyone is going to make a real effort to increase job creation in the United States. Certainly not Romney. He’s already shown what he does, and it’s shipping jobs overseas and closing companies. There’s your record. But I don’t know that I’d have faith that Obama would do anything differently, wholesale that is.  Re: Cronkite/FDR – Interesting question. Cronkite-wise — My wife and I are huge Brian Williams fans. I think he’s the closest we have to a true, universally trusted media source. Plus he can sneak in the snark when he sees fit. I don’t think there’s a place for the Cronkites of the world. Back in his heyday, the national news was just on once a day. You missed it, and that was it – you’d have to wait for the newspapers or the next day’s broadcast. So Cronkite cornered the market. You can’t corner the market nowadays – it’s on 24 hours a day. And I guess, instead of rationalism and investigative intelligence, they decided to go with the crazies.

Diane: It’s all about $$$ now. Ratings, advertisers. Showbiz.

Paul: Yeah, it’s about the money, but it’s also about that portion of the electorate who’s latching on to these crass new belief systems. It’s a perversion of Howard Beale. Who was fictional to begin with.

Diane: Beale — Network, right?

Paul: Yes, Beale is from Network.

Diane: Right now we need someone who can build working relationships with the changing face of leadership in the Middle East. Things are a lot different now than when we had our puppets in power. And I don’t just mean the leaders over there; even the leaders there are still trying to get control over the Taliban and Al-Qaida. These are realities unlikely to change anytime soon if ever. And I fear it would be very easy for the wrong leader to make them hat us and what we stand for more than they do already. A little gasoline goes a long way on a fire. I think Obama/Hilary had done as well as anybody could in this climate.

Paul: I have no qualms with Obama’s foreign policies. I think he’s done well. And I love Hillary right now. She looks so pissed off and exhausted. Seriously, that’s what I want in my politician. I want someone who’s been up all night dealing with shrieking banshees and bad caffeine products, and looks like she’s been working at it.

Diane: I really wanted her to be the Democratic candidate in 2008. She had the experience and the balls. Politics is an ugly game and she knows how to play it. I thought Obama was too fresh and, well, full of Hope. Which is nice. Jimmy Carter was nice. It’s not as effective and skill, experience, and balls.  Oh, and these…what are they called, big pac, the huge donors to the parties or candidates. This is a very dangerous thing.

Paul: Super PAC’s. Screw them.

Diane: They will screw us. They’re bigger and better funded. I wish I could joke about this, but it’s serious shit.  Now I am gonna make myself a Bloody Mary!

Paul: I think we should do our elections like England. Six weeks of campaigning, and that’s it. Two debates. And then it’s all over. It would pump a lot of money out of campaign funds, and potentially back to programs that might help. Oh, but then, oh God The Socialism.

Diane: Heh heh heh.

Paul: So screw it. I couldn’t care less about the personalities running for president. I’m an issues voter this year.

Diane: Way too on the money, that Paddy. What are your big issues, Paul?

Paul: Hey Diane, we’re all gonna get gay married in Washington State next week!

Diane: That’s something you can’t even do in California yet.

Paul: So, one interesting thing that’s been happening with Referendum 74, advertisement-wise, is the persecution complex of the opposition. The pro-74 campaign has raised WAY more money than the anti-74 campaign. There is no real solid argument against 74 aside from marriage-is-a-contract-and-for-procreation-purposes-blah blah blah. So what the anti’s have resorted to are a couple of commercials whose main thrust has absolutely nothing to do with the referendum. Instead, it’s about people who are standing for “traditional marriage” — and then getting sued, fired or complained about because of their “beliefs.”

Diane: So infertile or old people: no right to marry, as you ain’t making babies? I love these arguments so weak a four-year-old could tear it to shreds.

Paul: That was my argument long ago… yeah. There was this couple in Vermont who ran a bed-and-breakfast, and refused to allow a lesbian couple to get married on their premises. So the lesbians sued for discrimination, and won. Now the couple can’t have weddings on their premises, and had to pay a fine. And they’re sad. All because they were bigo– errr, I mean, they stated their opposition to gay marriage.
They are offering absolutely no reasonable counter-argument. They’re not addressing anything contained in Referendum 74. They’re just being morons. Seriously, if that’s the kind of ridiculousness you’re going to put up in favor of your position, I really don’t see why you shouldn’t be sued or fired. And it doesn’t matter, because that has nothing to do with Referendum 74.

Diane: They’d make so much more money on gay marriages. Think about it, all those adults with disposable income and far less children in the mix. Mo money to party! Capitalism, people, get with it!

Paul: Between the gay marriages and limited marijuana legalization, hell, Washington State’s gonna be rolling in dough. Freaking A.

Diane: One of my big issues is of course women’s health. My blue shield plan covered Viagra, but not birth control pills. Discuss.

Paul: Well, you know, being a white, middle-aged man, I know what’s best for you. But I’ll let you go ahead and express an opinion (checking watch): Go!

Diane: Well, if you’re gonna force every female to have her baby, you’d better damn well increase welfare, health services (like Planned Parenthood) etc., to take care of that momma and baby. ‘Cause I doubt lots of rich white folk are looking to adopt poor brown babies. I know I’m generalizing, but I’m not really kidding, either.

Paul: What do you think about the current whirlpool of rape talk amongst the GOP cognoscenti lately? My goodness, these guys earned their honorary doctorates! Honestly – were we that stupid about this kind of issue 10 years ago? 20 years ago?

Diane: Okay, I remember the “actual rape” one; what’s the latest one again?

Paul: “Legitimate rape” you mean. Yes. The latest was that senate candidate saying that a pregnancy that’s the result of a rape is still a “gift from God.”

Diane: FUCK FUCK FUCK FUCK FUCK! He (I’m assuming that’s a “he”) did not say that!

Paul: Let me get the exact quote for you.

Diane: I mean, some people keep their babies from rape and yes, ultimately have a happy ending. But NO ONE else has the fucking right to make that determination for a RAPE FUCKING VICTIM. I’ve been too busy typing to make that Bloody Mary, but I must make it now. I’m pissed!

Paul: Richard Mourdock, GOP senate candidate from Indiana: “I believe that life begins at conception … The only exception I have, to have an abortion, is in that case of the life of the mother. I’ve struggled with it myself for a long time, but I came to realize that life is that gift from God. And even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen.”

Diane: Oh — and one of them said that there’s no such thing as the mother’s life being in danger. Find that quote. And these fucking nimrods convince people to vote for this with this kind of ignorant self-serving idiocy?

Paul: Here, this is from a local Washington candidate named John Koster:

Paul: Again, my question: How did we as a nation manage to get stupid about this issue? Or this “thing,” I guess.

Diane: They should lock him in a woman’s prison for 24 hours with the ladies.

Paul: We were really discussing things in such a puerile manner in the ’80s and ’90s? This is seriously some “Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader” type shit here.

Diane: I don’t even know what to say. It’s surreal. And it’s scary.

Paul: (Sigh) Yeah, it’s stupid. Well, anyway. I was hoping to come up with more one-liners.

Diane: I’m seriously speechless.

Paul: Then I just get flustered and angry. So who do you think is going to win on Tuesday?

Diane: Oh my… I kinda think Obama might, but wouldn’t be surprised if Mitt did… really don’t know.

Paul: I think Obama’s got it. I don’t see how Romney is going to overtake the urban vote.

Diane: Let me bring this up about the debates, where each side was so sure their side kicked ass (except the first one, where everyone agreed Obama never completely woke up): I’m fascinated how people see what they want to see. How will the electoral college factor into that, and why do we still have that damn thing. I mean, it pretty much means every vote is not equal, does it not?

Paul: Strictly speaking I’m an independent voter, so to me the whole debate thing looked childish.

Diane: I’m a registered Libertarian. It’s a lovely ideal. But it will never ever work, Libertarianism, because people are people and much of the time people are stupid or selfish or both.

Paul: I read the other day why they had the electoral college in the first place – it sounded like it made sense at a certain time, like 1776.
You’re a Libertarian? I had no idea. I have been flirting with joining that party for the last ten years.

Diane: Right to bear arms made sense then too. I’m not against guns, but some of the arguments and plain stupid. Gee, the word stupid comes up an awful lot when I write about Americans and politics! I joined the Libertarian party when I first got back to the US after being overseas for two and a half years. I don’t like our two-party system, so that was my little act of protest. Again, great ideals, completely unrealistic.

Paul: That’s why I think that all this increased information has made us less intelligent as a country. You can’t popularize legitimate, intelligently delivered treatises anymore. From either side of the political spectrum. William Buckley and George Will would have been roundly ignored in this current environment if they were starting out. Our status as a country of ideas has almost completely disintegrated. A lot of my Republican friends agree with that.

Diane: I’ve never actually voted Libertarian. I got back in the country just in time for the 2000 election, and there’s been no alternative really but the two damn parties we’re stuck with. Oh wait! I voted Libertarian once: In 2004 I voted for their candidate Starchild (a bisexual sex-worker here in SF) for school board member. The thought of the nightly local news featuring a story that started with ‘And in other news, Starchild spoke out on behalf of the children today…” just made me happy in an otherwise depressing election.

Paul: I haven’t voted Libertarian either, although Gary Johnson struck me as a pretty good candidate.
So we probably agree that the two-party system is corrupt and insufficient. What will it take to break their hold on the electoral process? How do we convince enough people to take a chance on a third party? Or a fourth? Will Libertarianism manage to mainstream itself, or should it even try?

Diane: I doubt Libertarianism will mainstream itself in any way. That would sort of be like saying “we needed to make it better,” and Libertarians are quite adamant that their belief system is perfect as is. Have you ever tried arguing with one of those people? I love saying that, “Those People.”
The Super PACs will play a role in either reinforcing the old way, or bring in some wonder-pol that comes with so much cashola he/she blows the others out of the race. Highly unlikely. But as long as this sort of money is involved, nothing will change, only get more special-interest focused.

Paul: Right. And the Super PACs are only interested in funneling emotion, which means they’re free to distort the record and use inaccuracy since they don’t have to make an intelligent argument resonate. Hey… I gotta run. They’re all going trick or treating. I have to accompany them. Thanks for being enraged with me.

Diane: Ciao.

Sep 28 2012

GET OFF MY CHEST! Vol. 2: Sex? We’re Not Having It!*

(we just need to vent a little)

*That is, Paul Pearson, and myself. Rather, we have a seasonal online conversation series  called Get Off My Chest! on a timely and/or interesting topic. Stuff that we just wanna get off our respective chests.

In this, the sex edition,  we discuss fear and betrayal in the Twilight Nation, gang-marriage, Greek kids eschewing naked beach postcards in favor of silly cats, whether koala bears have daddy issues, and the fact that Dan Savage is a much better resource for this kind of information.

Hopefully, you’ll find these conversations engaging enough to make you want to eavesdrop. Tell your friends to tune in as well!

Jun 8 2012

GET OFF MY CHEST! Vol.1: Camera Culture

(or: “…the experience isn’t as essential as the record.”)

(we just need to vent a little)

San Franciscan Diane Karagienakos and Seattleite Paul Pearson are the consummate online friends. They have never met in person. They’ve never Skyped or even spoken on the phone. In fact, if not for their mutual connection to exactly two people, they might not have ever known of each other’s existence. But they instant-message each other with a rapport like they’ve been doing this internet thing for a hundred years.

In this new conversation series for the 21st century, Diane and Paul riff on their Facebook IM screens about current events and topics that capture their interest. Here’s the first episode, about the effect instant and frequent photography has on our landscape.

Paul: Hi, Diane!

Diane: Good afternoon, Paul! Enjoying your Sunday?

Paul: Sort of. I was at the LMFAO show last night, and they encourage a lot of drinking. They don’t mention the day after. You?

Diane: Very productive one. I saw a friend in Death of a Salesman last night. It required only one drink after, so I’m clearheaded. That said, I made myself a Bloody Mary for this occasion. Can’t work without tools!

Paul: Excellent. I have a 32-oz. water. You may have to do a lot of the heavy lifting. So you were telling me this great story about moppets the other day.

Diane: I was walking past my corner cafe, during the beer and baby night, with 30-something couples enjoying a kid-friendly happy hour, food truck right outside, etc. (The owners had a kid 3 years ago and now have another on the way — so they clearly tapped into something here). It seems to be a hit — not many other bars in the hood welcome moppets at happy hour.

Two little girls were playing outside while mom & pop enjoy adult beverages on the sidewalk. Their play takes the form of one girl filming the other. The girl being filmed, I hear her say as I pass, “I’m so scared, I’m terrified, please no, don’t…”

And she’d doing some mighty impressive overacting that would make (insert name of lame actress) proud. And something about it bugged me. I flashed back to when I was their age, and play: The slope in our backyard was a mountain. The little gulley between the neighbor’s back wall and the one behind it was a secret cave. Our beagle was my companion shepherd dog. My little woven pouch was… well, my little woven mountain girl pouch. You get the idea. My imagination transformed the landscape, so that I was in a different world, a different person.

And it bothers me in a way I can’t quite put my finger on: is this how middle class American children play now? They “Imagine’ they’re a in a different world, a different person…but a fictional one in a movie/on TV/being viewed/existing purely to be filmed and/or viewed? What about play for play sake? Would their play have existed if there was no camera there?

Or does she just want to be an actress? I know when I was little, I was very clear on Us vs. Them. Ordinary people vs. Movie Stars. I didn’t think about being a movie star. I didn’t think I couldn’t be one; I just didn’t think about it. I guess that’s the American Idolization of the times: Everybody has a chance at fame; or at least being on camera.

Paul: When I was a kid I did something similar to that. Not necessarily “filming with a camera,” but pretending to be in a movie. There’s a scar I’ve had beneath my left nostril that came from my running my Big Wheel into the back of an open pickup truck, because I was trying to emulate something I’d seen in a movie.

But the story you describe is a little different. Was the kid “acting” or pretending to be on “reality TV”? There’s a funny phrase for you – “pretending to be on reality TV.”

Diane: “Pretending to be on reality TV” is your own personal “The medium is the message.” McLuhan would be proud.

Let me ask you this though (because we were big on using the cassette recorder and my my dad was always filming us): Were you actually shooting on film/tape to make a final product, or just emoting in front of a camera for its own sake? I know with these little projects we made as kids, we had a specific product we wanted to make to share with others (or just look back on). We invested time and planning. We worked to get it right! It wasn’t just a time killer, you know?

Paul: I was acting, at least in my head. I tended to do a lot of musicals. I remember my first big musical production on my front porch was a musical based on a theoretical appearance on The Match Game. (Props to the late Richard Dawson, btw.)

Diane: Tell me you have that on tape, please!

Paul: Unfortunately I do not. This was 1972. But it’s interesting in that later on, I would contextualize real events in my life as if they were a movie.

Diane: We did a lot of commercial spoofing. Think an aural Wacky Labels (I think they were called).

Paul: We had film cameras when we were young, and not long after that we had video cameras. But what I think the camera culture that you describe didn’t arise until we got cameras on our phones.

Diane: Exactly. It’s one thing to see adults obsessed with cameras (or phones, as the case may be). There are apps, like Toy Camera, Instagram, and Hipstamatic, now that make those with no photographic training or instinct able to make some really cool images. And it is fun to share them. So that’s cool, it’s a fun new toy.

But it’s overdone. People — myself included — take way more pix than ever because the pix are free and there’s this instant forum for sharing or feedback. I assume kids see parents doing this and think that’s just the way it’s always been, to photograph all the minutiae all the time.

Paul: I think media phenoms tend to emerge more widely the smaller their mediums get — for example, music-wise, we went from vinyl to cassettes and CDs to Mp3.

When I’m at shows — particularly highly visual ones, like last night — cameras are continually hoisted in the air. Even I do it. If, like last night, I’m being accosted by a giant inflatable zebra, I’m inclined to catch the moment.

But getting entire songs on camera, that’s what I’ve never really understood. Your role as a participant in the event shifts from partaking to documentation. I would think something personal would get lost in that transition.

Diane: Tru dat. Remember when we had to pay to develop film? It made us somewhat selective of what we chose worthy of capturing forever. Now we capture it and go “eh, that wasn’t so great I guess.”

Paul: Yes, I remember Fotomat. They were some damn good kiosks.

Diane: It just make me wonder, kids growing up where that’s what they know… The old saying “Stop And Smell The Roses” needs to be updated to “Stop And Photograph The Roses.” It’s no longer about stopping to appreciate all the beauty that surrounds us (and fills all the senses), that is present in any given moment… and that “this too shall pass.” (Which is why I got that tattoo.) It seems folks are now more concerned not with savoring a moment, but with sharing it on social media.

It’s like we’re shortchanging moments and memories. With focusing (literally) on the picture before us, we sacrifice being still and paying attention: to the smells, the sounds of that moment. How it was cold but felt good. The light. How the person with us had an eyelash on his cheek. You get the idea. A picture does paint a thousand words, but it doesn’t capture the unseeable of the story.

Paul: Which maybe wouldn’t be a bad idea if the actual quality of the stuff people share was better. In the Fotomat age, you had to choose your subjects carefully. It involved planning. These days, it’s just editing.

Diane: Amen. So, I have no kids. You do. How are you — or are you — approaching all of this with your children? Because it is pretty philosophical when you get right down to it. Being present. Paying attention. Being appreciative? I honestly think that sort of parenting starts early.

Paul: It’s a little tricky with kids. Lucie, for example — an incredibly gifted and intelligent child, kicking ass scholastically, very mature in a lot of ways for her age. But I think television has affected her ideas of what to expect from life. I think Lucie sees things on TV – like reality shows, the dancing shows, things like that – and thinks those kinds of things are perfectly achievable on an everyday basis with little or no training whatsoever. And I’m terrified that may not be far off from the truth! But logistically, it’s harder. As far as how Kate and I approach it, I think we’ve done a fairly good job of explaining that TV is a depiction of an experience, not the experience itself.

Diane: And so many kids out there are given tools to distract them from their surroundings. Little gizmos to watch videos and play games and tune out. It’s sad to see. I work in a restaurant and it’s sad, as I see it a lot. A family at family dinner, and everyone’s playing with their gizmo. Tuning each other (and their server) out.

At the risk of sounding like judgmental childless woman: how much is it possible to control what she views and how much, and or give it context? I know some parents have a no TV position, which I think is almost mean. You don’t want your kids to be clueless to the world around them. There must be some middle ground…

Paul: It’s time management, mainly. We have to do it ourselves. But giving it context is something we do all the time, because it’s fun to talk about what Lucie sees on TV. She doesn’t really watch stuff we don’t watch, or find completely unbearable. We’ve raised a Barney-free household. Generally, especially when we’re watching baseball or football games, sometimes when we’re watching Food Network shows, we talk about what’s going on.

And I don’t think Kate lets them watch that much TV when they’re home and I’m at work. I think they play a lot of music. I don’t know, ’cause I’m usually not here. Maybe they’re all about QVC when I’m gone.

Getting back to the camera culture, I’m not sure at what point we will think the experience isn’t as essential as the record. “This is the time/And this is the record of the time,” as Laurie Anderson put it.

Diane: “…experience isn’t as essential as the record.” Your second quote-worthy moment of the day!

Paul: Aw shucks, thanks. I teach my children to make memorable quotations. They’re up to Oscar Wilde now.

We used to associate camera culture pretty directly with tourism. You live in perhaps the most tourist-attractive city in the US. Are we trying to inject that adventure into our lives with cameras? A sense that we were only visiting?

Diane: I have an example where the record and the experience became interchangeable — for the better. When my dad was dying, over the month of April 2007, I spent that month with him and my brothers in Las Vegas. It was an emotionally crippling time (and inspired my multi-media play, It Is What It Is). I became aware early on that I needed to take something from that month besides the image of my dying father. I decided to photograph all that was beautiful or interesting or… whatever got my interest. So that I’d have other memories besides his pain and our suffering.

So I started photographing little things. And twice, the pursuit of the shot lead to a story in and of itself that involved peoples and scenes that would never have happened otherwise, yet were completely organic and the memories of which made me happy. It was never about people acting for the camera; merely my need for two particular photographs led to a string of crazy events that created great stories for all involved — I just happened to be the lucky one to have a camera on me as the scenes unfolded. BTW: I never photographed my father during that time. On principle.

Paul: What things were you taking pictures of?

Diane: The mountain ridge that, when I was 5 I guess and my first permanent tooth came in, looked just like that tooth. It’s my touchstone when in Vegas. Where so much has changed, there is one thing that will always be as I remember it: “My Tooth.”

I ran four red lights for this shot. It's a long story.

A blinged-out middle-aged black couple in a ’55 convertible T-bird with not 1 but 2 pairs of fuzzy dice on the RVM (that’s one of the two with a story behind it).

Balloon animals that were left for whatever reason in the fountain of my favorite Mexican Restaurant (Ok, truth be told: we were drunk and threw them there ourselves.)

Howard the desert tortoise outside my dad’s room at the hospice center (the second one with a story behind it).

A huge heap of flip flops in my friends back yard — my friend is made crazy by his wife’s clutter everywhere, including 40,000 pairs of flip flops.

And more.

Paul: Now that I can hang with. Images generating ideas. So is what we have an issue with the idea that pictures are now being mass-consumed, instead of generating another activity, memory or art?

Diane: For me, it’s sort of what Warren Beatty said to Madonna in Truth or Dare: What’s the point of doing anything if it’s not in front of the camera? My favorite moment in that movie. What was he even doing with her in his life!?!

Paul: Ha ha! I remember that! She started all this! At this point in our conversation I think it’s appropriate for me to play the Cindy Sherman card.

Diane: Go on…

Paul: I saw one of her exhibitions when I lived in Los Angeles. I was with another person who had a kid. As I recall the kid was a little confused as to why this woman took thousands of pictures of herself and called it “art.” At the time I was too, although I see the bigger picture (ha) now.

This was just before the time when picture-taking really got ubiquitous. She had romantic dalliances with a couple of stars after that – Steve Martin, David Byrne as I recall. And I wondered if her M.O. actually made her into a star of her own, in some weird Warholian way. Did her self-reference actually transform her? Would she have been different if she’d taken, say, the Georgia O’Keeffe or Ansel Adams route? Or even Fran Leibowitz?

Diane: Did you mean Annie Leibowitz? I worship Fran, BTW.

Paul: I didn’t mean Georgia O’Keeffe. And yes I meant Annie. Kate thought I might have meant Georgia O’Keeffe’s husband, Alfred Stieglitz, who was a photographer. But in reality, I simply didn’t know what I was talking about.

Diane: You raise a good point about Miss Sherman, but ultimately I think she a celebrity because her work is art. To have a series of (for lack of a better word) self-portraits and yet have it feel egoless in it is truly amazing. I think some photographers can shoot other subjects, and still somehow their ego is what stands out most. I look at an Annie Leibowitz photo, and the first thing I see in it is her.

Paul: I had to think back on Cindy’s work — you raise a good point that it was surprisingly ego-less. There’s the notion that her just taking pictures of herself and presenting them en masse was an act of egotism in itself. But that cancels out the idea of the content of her work, which was much more fragile than that.

Diane: And to those of you out there who post videos of entire concert songs on Facebook: Wow, neat, got it, you were there, good for you, bet it was cool to watch, but gosh too bad you were too busy filming it to actually watch it. As you can see it’s pretty lame viewing on your smartphone captured video.

Paul: I have to depart. I don’t have a summary statement. I could go on for hours about this. But I do have one admonition, to everyone who’s out there taking pictures of themselves. That’s all fine. But we really have to cut down on the duck faces. I mean the non-ironic ones. But even the ironic ones are getting a little out of hand.

Diane: Will do. It was an honor and a privilege, sir! Don’t let your babies grown up to be reality show celebrities.

Self portraits seemed like an obvious choice, given the subject matter.

Feb 22 2012

“The pen is mightier than the glass to the head.”

I recently had the honor and great privilege of being interviewed by the frightfully intelligent — and funny! — Paul Pearson: cynosure of all things interesting, musical, poltical, and entertaining. Check it out — check him out — here on his website. We discuss art, technology, communication and, of all things, feelings. All of which tie into the upcoming premier of my play, It Is What It Is.