Wayne Michael Reich

Writing ∙ Photography ∙ Art

A Bugg’s Strife Pt. 1 (Paar for the Coarse)

“Nothing’s more disgusting than a guy who steals another person’s ideas and tries to claim them as his own.”  -Joe Rogan

 Hello Blogiteers!

Things have gone seriously awry as of late, let me tell you. The great John Lennon once famously stated that “Life is what happens when you’re making other plans”, and boy- did he ever hit that nail on the proverbial head.

With Thor’s hammer, no less.

Originally, the subject of this blog was going to be my favorite go-to punching bag, a local artist whose catalogue raisonné makes the work of Jeff Koon and Damien Hirst come off as deep by way of comparison. A person that at best, is the closest Phoenix will ever get to having it’s very own artsy Kilgore Trout*.  

[*It’s a Vonnegut reference- Google it. And then go read all of his books- I highly recommend “Bluebeard”, as it’s chock-full of really artsy stuff, and the main character has the best name ever: “Rebo Karabekian”- a moniker which by the way, I have been informed by my GF Ashley, is not allowed into the baby name lottery if we ever decide to have kids… which we’re not, so don’t start picking out those play-dates anytime soon.]

For those of you who are regular readers of my humble little screeds, you probably already know who that person is, for much like the rules set forth in Highlander, there can be only one, thank Odin for small favors. I am of course, talking about an individual who on more than one occasion, has “paid homage” to somebody else’s idea and claimed it his own, while simultaneously adding nothing of substance* whatsoever [*allegedly.] No matter how you slice it, the term “homage” is artist code for “I have no original ideas of my own, but hey… that already established one over there looks nice.”

So Blogiteers, please give a warm welcome and show your love to the Master of Mimicry, the Ambassador of Appropriation, the Chancellor of Copying, the Hamburglar of Homage, SMOCA’S very own in-house Artsy Shoplifter- you know him, I loathe him, the one, the only,…

PETER BUGG!!!! {sound of crickets… a lone tumbleweed rolls forlornly by…}
Um, loyal Blogiteers? It’s customary to clap right about now. Sigh… never mind, I’ll just dub it in.


ARE YOU READY TO ROCK, DETROIT?!?!?!? Ooops. Sorry, I accidentally grabbed my 8-track copy of LIBERACE PLAYS LIVE. My apologies. However, this swanky album still rocks… sure, it cant touch Thompson’s Twins “A Product of (Participation)”, or even come close to the sonic awesomeness that was Sigue Sigue Sputnik, but what can, really?

A question for another time, I guess. As I said just a moment ago, the original subject of this blog was going to be my favorite go-to punching bag, the aforementioned Mr. Bugg, due mainly to his recent career move, covered here by my favorite bestest buddy, the Phoenix new Times.
[Link: http://www.phoenixnewtimes.com/arts/scottsdale-museum-of-contemporary-art-hires-peter-bugg-and-christina-davis-7648310]

For those of you unwilling to read the slopfest that continues to constitute the “journalism” in our local Pennysaver with Porn these days, I’ll give you the high notes: basically, Peter has been hired by the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art [AKA: “SMoCA”] to serve as their new curator of programming, a full-time position that will allow him ample room (if tradition holds) to refine other people’s ideas, while simultaneously dropping the ball.

Sure, I’ve bagged on both before, but when I read the following statement, I found that for a brief moment, I was almost overcome with a happily familiar and unadulterated feeling of pure rampant snarkiness, akin only to my discovering a cache of refrigerated Ding Dongs safely tucked away inside my sock drawer- not that such a thing has ever happened, mind you, I’m just speaking metaphorically. And optimistically. Oh, sooo optimistically.

From the NT article:“We are very pleased to begin working with Peter,” Sara Cochran, SMoCA interim director and curator, says in the announcement. “His knowledge of contemporary art, experience in museums and with docents as well as his concepts for new and innovative programming really set him apart in the interview process.

He presented an impressive number of original and exciting ideas for connecting with SMoCA’s loyal audience and reaching out to build new audiences who may not yet know that they need contemporary art in their lives. We are anxious and thrilled to expand our efforts in this area under Peter’s direction.”

If I were to be brutally honest, over-inflated statements like this, bursting with a preponderance of sycophantic narcissism, typically inspires me to spend an entire day writing, chuckling to myself as I craft yet another literary Lemarchand’s box*
*Lemarchand’s box is a fictional puzzle box or lock puzzle appearing in stories by author Clive Barker, or in works based on his original stories. The best known of these boxes is the Lament Configuration, which features prominently throughout the Hellraiser movie series. You’re welcome.]

As per usual, I took to my ASUS laptop to get my initial thoughts down on the pixilated page, and almost as soon as I did, my screen flashed, turned three different shades of enhanced grey, and went black. If I were a superstitious man, I’d almost believe that the Writing Gods were trying to tell me something- a celestial sign, as it were.  (And just in case anyone’s curious, there are only three Gods of Writing: Kurt Vonnegut, Hunter S. Thompson, and that bad ass motherf***er who wrote “Good-night Moon”.)

After a few days of almost near-frenzied panic, it turned out that my motherboard was defective, which when all is said and done, will not have cost much more than a few days and some stinging (but not horrendous) pocket change when I eventually get it back from the repair facility. Fortunately, I had saved my draft to a thumb drive, and in an even better stroke of luck, I still had my 13 year-old IBM Thinkpad mothballed away in storage, on which this blog is at present is being produced. Running XP, no less.

Seriously. This thing is a tank, I kid you not. It’s Wolverine with a hard drive. However, after I started editing my draft, there was unquestionably something tangible missing, and despite my best efforts, I couldn’t perceive what it was.

Let’s see…. snark? Check. Colorful language? Check. An “Arcade Fire” reference? Check. Insults involving skinny jeans and the intellectually skinnier ass that wears them? Check. A quote from Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s Crime and Punishment that reads: He was one of the numerous and varied legion of dullards, of half-animated abortions, conceited, half-educated coxcombs, who attach themselves to the idea most in fashion only to vulgarize it and who caricature every cause they serve, however sincerely.” ?  

Most definitely check. Oh wait- he’s a Russian author, so that should actually say “проверить”.
Most definitely проверить.

An actual point? Surprisingly, check.
Continued interest in finishing it? ……….. not so much.

As you might imagine, I spent some time wondering why this was, and the conclusion I eventually arrived at was this: I think I’m just sick and tired of constantly rehashing the acts of certain lauded idiots as they quicken their pace toward an inevitable destiny with insignificance. In the end, what would truly be accomplished by my notations?

Despite Bugg’s troubling history of well-known and obvious plagiarism, he’s still considered to be a valuable asset- granted, it’s at an institution that also considers pyramids of stacked fruit to be art, so take it as you may, but he’s still held in high regard, nonetheless.

And its not just pathetic- it’s farcically pathetic. So much so that writing about it would just seemingly add further inanity to an already preposterous situation. SMoCA has already shown it’s lack of ethics, which I’ve noted in previous scrawlings, now it’s lack of common sense in their hiring practices has come home to roost as well, and I for one, applaud their commitment to complete absurdity.

After all, it’s not everyday you get to watch an already troubled institution gleefully commit suicide, via an ironically dada-esque approach, and it’s even rarer that I would merrily sit back and watch without commentary, but in regards to my lack of remarks, it does make sense, nevertheless.

To quote the NT article: “In May 2015, museum director Tim Rodgers resigned following rumors that the Scottsdale Cultural Council, a nonprofit organization that oversees SMoCA, Scottsdale Public Art, and Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts, was looking to eliminate the directorship positions at each of the institutions.

These rumors of course, have been denied by Cultural Council CEO Neale Pearl. Cochran, who had been working as the museum’s associate director since February 2014, stepped in as interim director, and no plans to hire a permanent replacement for Rodgers have been announced as of yet.”

Given the (at this time) cautious direction set against a turbulent sea of administrative changes, how would my pointedly harsh comments affect the outcome one way or the other? In a nutshell, that answer would be a resolute “not in the least”, so for once-  I’m sitting this one out.

That’s right- the claws are going back into their zebra-print lined carrying case, and this here Artbitch is gonna kick back and watch the inevitable clusterf**k / Phantom Menace / train wreck from a safe and comfortable distance. There’s nothing that makes a professional snark happier than their vision proven correct, and I think my odds for being so are pretty high, considering how all the factors are lining up.

But given the crueler aspect of Fate, my odds for being miserably wrong could be astronomically high as well, so there’s that. And I couldn’t be more excited, in fact. See, I actually really enjoy it when I’m dead wrong, because it means that things aren’t as bad as I thought they were. That’s the inherent beauty of being a cynic- you’re either always being proven right or being happily surprised.

Putting it bluntly, I think I’m going to be proven right in the long run, but I’m a gambling man, so let the dice roll, and we’ll see who lands on black.  But I will ask SMoCA one metaphorical question as I leave the situation to unfurl itself as it will, and it is this: What exactly does a guy with a penchant for alleged intellectual theft and lazy-ass presentation bring to the table exactly? The ability to cement SMoCa’s rep as a prime example of what art isn’t?

I for one, cannot wait to see what will be foisted upon the unsuspecting public by the guy who brought us sugar-encased magazine covers, culturally vapid day of the dead prayer banners using other artists unaccredited photos, along with a series of “borrowed” internet pictures of celebrity vaginas glued to paper plates.

If I were still a child, this contemplation would rank right up there with Christmas.                                              Oh, who am I kidding? It still does.

But I do want to be helpful, so here’s some wholly original, completely fresh, artistic ideas that Peter can pay “homage” to: Dogs playing cards. Soup can paintings. Multi-colored silk-screen portraits. Drip paintings. Portraits of big-eyed children. A picture of a cat dangling from a branch with the phrase “Hang in there Baby”. Clown paintings {everybody loves clowns! After all, SMoCA hired one* *[allegedly} Black Velvet paintings of Matadors. Smiley faces. The Mona Lisa as a Punk. Barbarian Warrior Queens holding Swords. Anything with a Disney logo…

I’m begging you, Peter- take out Walt’s Kingdom of Treacle before they make the “Frozen” TV Series. That abomination needs a lit tiki torch shoved right through its blue icy heart, Van-Helsing style, and with your gift of sucking the ccreativity out of anything you touch, our collective nightmare could end once and for all. And relax… you don’t have to thank me. Even if you used my ideas, we all know that you’d just claim them as yours anyway, so let’s just cut out the middleman and move on, shall we?

2000 words exactly to let you all know that I wasn’t going to say anything- that kids, is how you pad an essay, the thesaurus be damned. Heck, I use 300 words just to say “hello”, so you can just imagine how refreshing this is to let my fingers run amuck after some well-deserved time off.

Amuck, amuck, amuck.

But despite that brief foray regarding an entertaining, if not outright absurd cultural benchmark, the real reason why I’m writing after a several month hiatus is due to an unforeseen, yet oddly familiar, problem presenting it’s obscenely grasping palm yet again. For the third time in less than a year, I find myself in the mire of the medical backwoods looking for a competent doctor once more.

Sigh… compared to this unending aggravation, going to Peter Bugg’s house to view photos of his most recent vacation would be a joy- due mainly to the fact that they probably would’ve been shot by somebody el…  NO!!! I AM NOT DOING THIS. As delightful as it would be to take one last swipe at the Regent of Replication, I’m gonna stick to my guns. Besides… by the time he inevitably death-spirals into the giant fruit pyramid, I’ll have had plenty of time to write up a whole new slew of jokes and compliments that come with knuckles.

And if he doesn’t, there’s still always his “art” to make fun of. Ahh… long-term planning can be fun.
Moving on.

To be honest, I really thought that after my last two blogs [see the archive] regarding an unfortunate series of experiences with two less-than-useless doctors, I truly felt that I had at last achieved traction in the battle against my Type 1 Diabetes, bolstered by the following- I’ve had a massive amount of dental work done over the last four months, removing several areas of necrotic tissue that were definitely compromising my ability to stay healthy, This is a huge problem for most Diabetics, something I was ashamedly unaware of. Three root canals, four cavities, and two post and caps, all leading up to an embarrassment of even more procedures in the near future.

[PS: My Dentist, Dr, Randy Smith, (602-996-3993 for your information) absolutely ROCKS. Call him for your dental needs and feel perfectly free to drop my name. Plus, he has the best magazine selection I’ve ever seen- it’s almost orgasmic, and that’s not a word I put out there often, if at all.]

I’ve also severely tightened up my blood testing and insulin protocols, have pretty much (finally) managed to cut soda out of my diet, and have even exorcised certain trigger foods to the seventh ring of the foodie Gulag, and yes… that does mean that Ding Dongs are now the Holy Grail of Snacks, versus their previous status as the communion wafer of snacks. Sigh….

But even all that pales into comparison in regards to the biggest lifestyle change I’ve made, and that is this: after 8 ½ years, I walked into work one day and quit my job. My awesome, creative, slowly-strangling-the-life-out-of me-by-degrees, boss-created unnecessarily high-stress job.

And while it was terrifying to do so, mainly since I had no future employment lined up at that time, I still would consider it one of the smartest things I’ve ever done, next to my dating Ashley and buying that really bitching Jack Skellington mug two weeks ago. [Apparently, you can drink from it too, but why would you?]

See, right after I finished serving up my last piece of snark ala mode, I, (on a trusted friends recommendation) started seeing a new doctor, one named (wait for it) Gypsy Faith Paar– who’s affiliated with Paradise Family Medicine, a place I’d strongly recommend that one avoid like the clam special at Long John Silver’s on a Monday. I can’t speak for the other doctors at this particular practice, but in the case of “Dr”. Paar, I can only state my opinion that she’s a Doctor much in the same way that Dr. Pepper is- exceedingly bad for your long term health, completely overpriced, and chock-full of sugary acid.

Naturally, I’m kidding- Dr, Pepper by way of a side-by-side comparison, actually fares much better, and unlike my now former doctor, it at least doesn’t present itself to the public as something it isn’t. In my experience, that would be competent, professional, and concerned. My first clue that she wasn’t truly genuine should have been the fact that she’s named “Gypsy” and yet looks as if she should come with a best friend named Skipper, a pink Corvette, and a Dream-house play-set.
(Sexually ambiguous “boyfriend” sold separately. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.)

Regretfully, I need to take that analogy back, as it was very rude (if not inaccurate) of me. Barbie by all accounts, is an amazing doctor, whereas my newest ex…. well, lets just say that her middle name implies what you’ll need plenty of to believe she’ll get the job done.

Some context as usual, is necessary I see, so I’ll try to provide it per my customary gentle and kindhearted approach. But I think before we engage in any further ruminations, that a recess of sorts is required- not just to give your eyes a break, but to make sure you’re rested enough to climb the mother of all medical molehills turned Himalaya.

And trust me… it’s gonna be epic. Not grand spectacle epic, but pretty darn close. So…

When we return, I add yet another twit to my personal “smite” list, allegorically wrestle with the sub-Paar, meet a bureaucratic stone-walling Renfield immune to both logic and rugged charm, and discuss why being sold to Gypsies is still better than being treated by one.

“In a closed society where everybody’s guilty, the only crime is getting caught. In a world of thieves, the only final sin is stupidity..” – Hunter S. Thompson