Wayne Michael Reich

Writing ∙ Photography ∙ Art

Wayne Michael Reich
Browsing:

Author: Darkreich

Gentrification prefers Blands. PT.5 (Money for Nothing)

“Make your marketing so useful people would pay you for it.” – Jay Baer

Hello Blogiteers!

It’s been one of those years where the hits just keep coming, do they not? First, my former employer decided at the beginning of last summer that we were “too slow” at work and cut my hours in half, right before they went and hired a full-time person without even thinking of offering me (the person with seniority) the option to restore any of those lost hours, which is perfectly fine, since the general sentiment in the workplace at that time was that the head of our so-called out-of-state boss should be displayed much in the manner of how William Wallace’s was, after his minor disagreement with the English.

However, while that shared attitude provided cold comfort in regards to the loss of a warm, if pathetically small paycheck, I’m assuming as only one can, that I’m apparently independently wealthy and don’t require the trivialities that come with everyday life, such as the ability to pay for my Ding Dongs. Or electricity. Or rent. In addition, the company I found myself regrettably associated with also felt that its perfectly fine to be late with said paycheck four times in three months.

Thank God I have that rather lucrative sideline business running 80’s mix-tapes to the Sandinistas, or I’d be screwed. And as to the nature of my dismissal, I’m rather proud of the fact that I wasn’t fired for poor performance, or being rude to a customer, or even that old go-to of running naked through the corporate hallways wearing nothing but sparkly gold go-go boots and what I have been told is a dazzlingly warm smile. Nope, when it came right down to brass tacks, I was fired for being something even worse… a diabetic.

Hold on just a Ding Dong eating minute, you say- isn’t firing someone for having a chronic disease illegal? Why yes… yes it is. And my former supervisor may be the only person on this fk’d up planet who doesn’t know that. I won’t go into the details, as we’d be here all day, but in essence, my former supervisor stated rather directly that I was, and I quote: “a burden on the business”, and that I “should go on disability”. After that, the dialogue dissolved into some rather unpleasant language more suited for an 1890’s cathouse, and due to the fact I don’t generally work blue, it won’t be repeated here. But if you’re currently surmising that most of that lexicon rhymed with “flucker”, you’d definitely be on the right path.

As you might suspect, I have a few key issues with this flawed perspective, and I’ll start with this amazingly rude and wildly inaccurate assessment. First, I’m not disabled- to me, that means that I’m physically challenged and require the use of a wheelchair, a cane or a walker… anything along those lines. And to be clear, I’m not dissing those who have those issues, and yet nail it like a badass. I’m just not in that unique category, and I hope never to be.

Second, while I’m observably comfortable talking about my illness up to a limited point, it still remains a rather private issue among my friends and intimate confidants, so when it came to a superior freely offering opinions as if they had the right to do so, that’s where I draw the freaking line. Since this particular person took on the mantle from my previous (and way more professional) ex-boss, I have endured a litany of harassment in regards to my chronic illness. The suggestion that I needed to go on disability was a consistent irritation in regards to doing my job, and had been going on for months by the time I was fired.

A note for later recall- if there’s one thing I truly despise, it’s having to listen to the opinions of internet scholars and doctors, especially given that I’m the one who since my diagnosis 19 years ago, has been walking around and doing the labor within this somewhat defective meat-suit.

To further help set why this aggravated me past the pale, you have to also understand who was audacious enough to dismiss me as a disabled wretch, that being a somewhat obese individual, who in order to be able to work themselves, required a knee brace, compression gloves, and a constant flow of topical salves for their bad back. Yep… I should definitely take medical/life advice from them, and then when I’m done doing that, I’ll ask Donald Trump to give me the finer points of how to maintain an open and honest dialogue in regards to a life partner.

Getting back on track, it’s not like my doctor or I actually know anything that can’t be solved with aromatic oils and crystals, right?

To be fair, due to a condition known as diabetic neuropathy, a form of nerve damage, I do have some obvious issues that I can’t easily mask- my hands have a slight tremor, I have balance issues, and I also suffer from low blood pressure, which is surprising, given my renowned affinity for being a fire-spark. However, I still did my job, and if they were unhappy with me, they could have just fired me with some bullshit excuse, rather than attempting to rid themselves of my presence via attrition and later on, slander.

Factor in the complications that arise from an out of touch manager reacting with insensitivity to the necessities of testing & dosing my blood sugar as diabetics need to do, and it’s not too hard to understand why my health started going off the rails. Initial snarkiness aside, the arrogance this overly demanding craven exuded after they took command, poisoned the well of what was once a fairly tolerable work environment- while the job itself always sucked, the atmosphere of camaraderie balanced it out, and while the place never would have been mistaken for running like a Swiss watch, it definitely didn’t improve under their inconsistent management style they brought so ineptly to the table.

If you can’t handle the heat, get out of the kitchen, my late Oma used to say, and if you do flee, don’t whine like a bitch as you do it. As an illustration of such, it wasn’t uncommon to have to listen to a laundry list of complaints about their boss one day, and then walk into a love-fest the next. The best analogy I can give about how things were being dictated is for you to picture a decapitated chicken running around in circles with a clipboard, freaking out about trivialities, as they steadily composed a never to be sent email blasting their immediate superior.

Add in the unnecessary commentary about my health, and it isn’t too hard to see why I used to refer to my commute as “taking the road to where all my dreams have gone to die”. In contrast, my last boss never yelled, never lost their cool, and the only thing I can say that was a negative to their character is the fact that they really didn’t like peanut butter.

I know… I thought it was weird too.

The only respite I have in regards to the issue of my illegal discharge is the knowledge that I’ve filed complaints with OSHA, the EOEC, and the Industrial Commission [more on that below] in regards to a workman’s comp claim- measures which I hope will knock both my former supervisor, and the company they work for, down a few pegs. I guess we’ll see if there really are protections for people like myself, and whether it was worth rolling the dice or not.

On the upside, having all that downtime has allowed me to whittle down my “honey do” list, and catch up on some overdue reading and research, so there’s that. The second and more worrisome concern, is that while working said job from Hell, I injured my supraspinatus, which is one of the muscles around my rotator cuff. The length of time that it takes for the injury I suffered to heal is six to twelve months on the average, and having to do the physical therapy required to fix it just bites.

The people I’m working with are awesome, but from the POV of a guy who gave up working out over a decade ago, I’m fairly convinced that the Dark Lord Satan himself designed my exercise and rehabilitation program, and then recruited my therapists from the Sith Racquetball Club. If true, that just hurts, because I thought we were tight.

Seriously Lucifer… you were so much cooler before you went all mainstream.

C’est la vie, I guess. So as one can assume, I have been all shades of bitchy lately, and I’m not the type who enjoys pain in any form, given the fact I’m already dealing with a flare-up of my diabetic neuropathy on top of it all. To be brutally honest, saying I’m a bit vexed right now would be a colossal understatement. Nothing aggravates me more than having to be on the sidelines when I’m all fired up and raring to go, but thanks to this stupid injury and my previous health issues, I’ve been somewhat locked-down for months.

Speaking of being locked down, I also find myself in Facebook “jail” for the next month, because apparently white supremacists are allowed to say whatever they want, but God forbid, us actual humans respond negatively towards it. I’m starting to think their algorithms spend an inordinate amount of time listening to Skrewdriver and visiting Stormfront.com. One can only hope that when Schmuckerberg is in front of Congress, they have him for lunch, raw. And as if things weren’t truly bothersome enough already, I’m also dealing on and off with an utterly disturbed cyber-stalker of the MAGA variety, who has taken an interest in me not seen since Fatal Attraction was in theaters.

Minus the bunny boiling, this ludicrously inept Hot Pocket aficionado started with physical threats, moved onto spamming my Instagram page, tried to threaten my followers, created and then posted, pathetically transparent videos on YouTube claiming I’m a serial rapist and child predator, much to the amusement of all who’ve seen them, and capped off his asinine psychosis by redirecting my website traffic to a pharmaceutical website, which took GoDaddy all of 15 minutes to fix. If I did have to comment in regards to these truly impotent Trumplethinskins, they are willing to put in the hours to defend Cadet Bone Spurs, AKA: President Spanky, Odin love them.

As a salve towards keeping my sanity, I’ve been ultra-focused on the advocacy concern I’ve been crafting for quite some time, and despite the inevitable hurdles this sort of undertaking unavoidably comes upon, I’ve managed to make some heartening progress- it seems that a lot of people feel the way I do regarding the pathetic quagmire that passes for art advocacy in this city, and want to be involved somehow, whether it’s directly or peripherally.

Here’s the issue- the PAS may not be truly dead, but it’s doing a pretty good job of playing the part of an artsy corpse. Think “Weekend at Bernies”, except this time the cadaver is being dragged by Artlink through their mismanaged two-night-a-month craft fair, as they stridently bray about how good the job they’re not doing is going. In other words, a typical First Friday. The question has arisen via the normal lines (Email, direct contact) as to why I’m harping on the ol’ A-link if at their core, they’re essentially useless and/or irrelevant.

Why that is a valid query, it does overlook the elephant in the room- that being while Artlinks odious influence seems somewhat limited to a designated arena, their artistic circle-jerk in actuality extends far past that. The PAS as an entity is scattered like so many dandelion seeds, and I don’t see that situation rectifying itself anytime soon, no matter what certain players in this town believe. And if you don’t have a stable core, you can’t build on (or out) from that.

Speaking of which, I had the… let’s just call it luck, to run into a relatively fresh face on the scene some time ago, and while they project the stereotypical mélange of unicorn dust and elf glitter regarding the 602, I also found them to be, (if I were to formulate a sexist and rather boorish connotation grabbed off the politically incorrect shelf) somewhat “bitchy” at best.

Trust me, I hate myself for feeling like I need to compose the use of such raw verbiage, but that’s the first thing that comes to mind, and as usual, I’ll explain myself. One of the more excruciating things I force myself to do are the local “artist meet and greet” soirees put on around Phoenix, and If I were to take the position of being viciously honest, I’m much more interested in the free cheese cubes than I am about the events themselves, which typically, not only waste my time, but test my already limited tolerance for people of narrow intellect and/or use.

Why?

Well… it may be due to the fact that I loathe non-realistic, unicorn-riding, glitter throwing, rainbow painting, overly friendly, artsy leg-humping, huggingly clueless dipsticks. Don’t misread me, I’m all for people promoting the ol’ 602, but I draw the line at vapidity and haughtiness in how and when it’s done. This leads me to introduce my newest scratching post, an arrogant Art-Barbie who works for the well-organized, but increasingly ineffectual entity known as the Roosevelt Row CDC.

Don’t get me wrong, the last get-together I attended a long while back at Unexpected Gallery was surprisingly awesome, and if I were to make a bad joke, the whole vibe of the place was, well… unexpected. The art was top-notch, the lighting was great, and the sangria was free, which is always a plus. So what separated this get-together from the previous three I grudgingly attended? Two things: first, the person I’m about to verbally shred wasn’t at this particular meeting, having taken the time to go “experience” Burning Man, and second, the people I was fortunately among actually “got” what I tend to preach in regards to the PAS, that being the concept of securing financial stability within and marketing outside, the choir for a change.

More on that in a bit.

I’ve written at great length about how the development of downtown has eviscerated the PAS, aided by our so called art advocates, so I won’t rehash all of my previously noted complaints here yet again… you’re welcome. What I will say however as an addendum, is that Roosevelt in essence, could play a zombie in The Walking Dead, and shamble away with an Emmy for Best Performance by an Ineffectual Reanimated Slab of Meat. Now down to a few art-spaces of note (all of whom are still doing innovative shows), the Row’s goose has not only been cooked, it’s been diced, sliced, and compressed into snack cakes that are currently being sold in Japan under the moniker “Goosinkies” via a vending machine that occupies a space next to one that sells used panties.

[Seriously. The Japanese have some weird-ass fetishes. Google, if you dare.]

In other words, saying you represent the Row via the CDC these days has all the cachet of saying you’re besties with Vanilla Ice. It may have pulled in the babes once, but all it acquires now is scorn and jokes about your unmaintained fade. But here’s the thing- you were probably keyed in to what was hip once, so there’s still a chance you might be salvageable in the long run. It’s a marginal possibility, but it does exist, and you may even still have some fans left, even if that’s only due to pity or more likely, nostalgia.

And while some of those fans may defend you, it’s still obvious that you’re completely out of step with the truth of current events, which is the doorstep we find ourselves on regarding my newest chew-toy, whom I ironically met at a meet and greet for creatives interested in making a difference, via earth-shaking radical socialist kind of thoughts. The ones that get bearded guys named Che killed. But as usual, I’m getting slightly ahead of my self, so let me spin my tale from the beginning of things, where due to an unforeseen miscommunication, I was informed that this eventual waste of my time was targeted at the PAS. Instead, I found out it was a gathering of avid social justice warriors, and while I don’t have anything against the SJW brigade, I’m not really their particular recruitment demographic either- just saying.

While I’m by no means an isolationist, I tend to worry about my own first, long before I worry about political prisoners in El Salvador, if you get my drift. I pick the battles that I know I can fight, and more importantly, win. If you feel that makes me a bad person, you can leave your self-righteous opinion on top of the bad karma pile (next to the mail-room) as you leave my lair. So as I was pondering how to make an escape from this scene straight out of a 70’s liberal-arts college coming-of-age- movie, a round of (I’m paraphrasing) “Who are you, what do you do, and what are you passionate about?” sprung up.

Oh dear Odin… I am now officially in Helheim, and on top of it all, my Sleipnir is nowhere near within walking distance. As expected, most of the answers were relatively what you’d imagine from people committed to a cause outside of your own, not that there’s anything wrong with that, mind you- it’s just that my idea of social crusading tends to be more localized, versus global. What can I say, except that my belief in the old adage of “start small to build big” remains strong as ever. To reference a character-forming movie of my errant youth:

“You don’t want to get mixed up with a guy like me. I’m a loner, Dottie… a rebel.” [https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mKLizztikRk]

As I sat there, slowly tuning out as I wait for an opportunity to jump ship without anyone noticing, I heard the following: “Hi! My name is ***, I’m ** years old, and I’m with the Roosevelt Row CDC, but I don’t carry any of their baggage, so please don’t ask me about any of that… [Um… what?] I recently graduated from ASU with a Sociology Degree, and I don’t know *giggle* when I’m ever going to use it, and I really don’t know anything about the art scene, but I’m willing to learn.”

Continuing to glitter-babble, she goes on about how a church and maker space two blocks off Roosevelt is going to revitalize the currently rotting art-carcass that is the Row, and in an extra touch of Unicorn belching, adds to her inanity by implying that families and teenagers alone are going to keep our so-called art scene afloat. And as she says this, I inwardly hear the sounds of my inner cynic emitting a deep sigh as he pours himself a three-fingers shot of bourbon… thrice.

Traditionally, I’ve never been much of a drinker, but I’m giving serious pause and accreditation to the thought of taking up the habit, mainly because of helium-headed second-handers like this.

However, I do happen to be gregarious by nature, and since I like to think of myself as a fountain of useful information, I start to tell her why her take might be slightly flawed, given the fact that she just admitted publicly she has no idea what she’s talking about. As I’ve noted oft before, I really need to fire and replace my sense of optimism one of these days- due to the fact he’s been pretty much phoning it in the last few months, and after the gas station sushi incident back in February, I don’t really feel I can trust him with anything delicate anymore.

“Made fresh daily”, my ass.

As I’m laying out why her POV may be not entirely accurate as diplomatically as I can, she cuts me off, and rather snottily states that: “Um, let me finish… and then you can get all [and I quote] judgy.”

So let me get this straight if I may, a person who wasn’t even alive when I started doing art as a career, a person who just told a round-table of strangers that she knows nothing about the basic history or elements of the community she’s supposed to integrate with, a person who for some reason thinks that working for the CDC means not having to answer for any concerns regarding it, a person who despite her claim that she wants to “learn”, has just told someone with a 25 year background in the PAS that he should just shut up and not be critical about the scene he knows better than the liner notes of his ABBA albums..

To quote Shunryu Suzuki: ” If you cannot bow to Buddha, you cannot be a Buddha. It is arrogance.”

And keep in mind I’m the one saying this, so you can only guess at the beauty and depth of my intended insult. As I sit there, glaring in New Yorker, I decide that there’s no better time to leave than in the middle of her droning, as after all, I wouldn’t want Art-Barbie’s Kumbaya moment to be tainted by something so trivial as irrefutable reality. In an odd quirk of fate, sitting behind me at this event was a fellow artist who unlike me, is a tad bit more tuned in to the global social warrior network, and as such, constitutes the true demographic that this group was aiming to recruit.

As I rise, feeling that my time and intellect had not only been wasted, but insulted as well, said artist grabs me by the shoulder and informs that we should talk and that she needs to grab a beer, which is strange, since she already has a full one in her hand, a fact I call attention to. Her response?

“Yeah… I’m probably going to need another one soon.”

All jokes aside, this chica definitely knows who she’s about to break metaphorical bread with. The meeting as such, turned out to be both personally and financially lucrative, as it led to a delightful collaboration that wound up with the selling of some of my artwork. God, do I freaking love doing business. And therein lies the key difference for me: the facility to understand the distinction between being a hobbyist who plays, and a business-focused advocate who ACTUALLY works for progress, is what’s currently crippling our ability to become a serious player, and the question that arises is why is the obvious so damn hard?

 Observing with my insider overview, I can only assume it’s because the hobbyists within the PAS are enjoying their charade at presenting themselves as successful marketers or in a twist of unintended humor, an advocacy group, and with no due respect- there needs to be a culling, and that right quick. However, never let it be said that I am without a means of escaping this artistic Labyrinth we find ourselves in, as if there is one skill I possess in buckets, it’s knowing how to make a grand (and sometimes hasty) exit out of an unfamiliar room.

Let’s just say my penchant for speaking my mind has given me a lot of practice, and leave it at that.

But solutions are required, and I may have some, if I were to be so bold. Some are simple, some are obviously more complex, but the first steps into making Phoenix an artistic destination, not the pit stop on the way to somewhere else, have to start somewhere. So with that in mind, I present some concepts that hopefully, will lead to a financially stable future.

1) Working 9 to 5. It’s just not for the cubicle people.

One of the issues that most fail to consider when it comes to promoting the intangible is the amount of time it takes to advocate for it. I can only assume the complexity doubles when the prime offering is based more on a want, than a need. Granted, I wasn’t completely oblivious to the commitment that such an endeavor requires, but I never contemplated that it would be akin to a 60+ hour work-week just by itself. As one past president of Artlink informed me: “it becomes your life to the point of exhaustion, if not exclusion.”

And that gives me an idea- if the workload already equals that of a normal job, why don’t we make it an official position to begin with? Think about it: a salaried advocacy concern whose sole purpose would be to pimp the 602 full time, 5 days a week, the cost of such underwritten by either grants, or even more probable, a partnership with a community-based and art friendly, corporation. Now how is that I’ve come to a place where I feel that we should possibly collaborate with people who like the biblical locusts of old, have become a plague upon our scene? I’ll explain.

For a start, we don’t approach the gentrifying mother c**k-sucks who’ve treated the PAS in a manner more suited for a prison shower, as the past “deals” Artlink made with two of these parasites clearly illustrates. Much like haggis or an Adam Sandler movie, these vanilla wafers dressed up as humans are best avoided, and under no circumstances should you make direct eye contact with them.

Otherwise, they may subject you to their idea of architectural uniqueness, that typically manifesting itself as a metal-clad monstrosity lifted wholesale from Portland, and then rudely dropped into what was formerly a distinctive and vibrant space.

You know… standard Developer 101 protocol. I swear these beige-slugs are easier to read than the novel Dean Koontz just wrote on his way back from the bathroom. However, hope springs eternal- for every scene-eating carpet-bagging huckster, there exists it’s exact opposite, and that’s who we need to make friends with, mucho pronto. Exactly how we can do this I’m not sure, but I’d suggest we show up at their offices with cake. Lots of cake.

I tried cookies once as an opening gambit with someone who I hoped might help with the promotion of the PAS, and failed despite my best effort, so this suggestion comes from a painful lesson learned at the bedazzled feet of a narcissist who makes Kanye look humble, so pay heed. And no, I’m not referring to Amy Silverman… it’s just an amazing coincidence that the description still fits her so well*. A simple quirk. Chance. I swear. Pure happenstance. Fluke of the Universe, and so on. [*Allegedly.]

The validity of a fully funded and full-time entity making outreach to other cities, institutions, and more importantly, pre-established patron bases, cannot be underestimated, and try as I might, I can’t really see too many flaws with this idea if the funding issue can be resolved, and promoting during the workweek seems to me at least, a much more opportune time to put our wares out there than the down time of nights and week-ends. Considering that the current board comprised of fourteen members possesses only two actual Creatives while the rest are all Suits, you’d think that they’d have already figured this part out. A purely creative take on the old adage of make hay while the sun shines, and all that.

The needs and concerns of 602-based Artists within this new structure will come first, period. Snazzy T-shirts can always come later, unless there’s a groundswell to take group pics, in which case- we can always move it up on the timetable. After all, it’s not like we’re barbarians or anything.

Speaking of which, this leads to my next idea to answer the question of why these corporations would want to be involved with this new venture if it’s needs are the second prerogative to be met, and the answer brings me to my next pitch:

2) Rotation, Location, Motivation.

In order to foster this very necessary relationship, we give our new friends what they need, good PR and marketing grist, along with what they can use: public art & interior decoration. I’m thinking as part of the deal to underwrite us, we provide a stock of rotating art for their buildings and spaces- all of it for sale (or lease) depending on whatever aspect is required. They get a fresh new look every couple of months, we get a place to display work that outside of our shows, studio spaces, and closets would just collect dust and disappointment, and everybody walks away happy in theory.

This in turn, could be a fabulous teaching tool for up and comers to learn the skill-set of displaying and promoting one’s work, and the developers we’re allied with get to make use of this symbiotic relationship for marketing and the like, which in turn, draws more attention to the PAS on a scale that actually helps our endeavors, versus limiting them. If we take the approach of leasing artwork, then one could assume that this arrangement could keep a steady stream of income replenishing the coffers as well, in opposition to Artlink’s soft coercion approach, which demands money from the very demographic which can least afford it, that being the artists themselves.

If we’re going to have to “sell-out” to make a living, shouldn’t it be both for the right reasons and with the right people so we don’t have to compromise our principles even in the slightest? Once again, I’d say yes, but I’m one of those wacky people that wants to make a living doing what I would do for free.

3) The Outsiders: a great book, a so-so movie, and a brilliant marketing strategy.

One of the logical ideas that’s been kicked around the PAS for quite some time is the notion of cross-curated shows- that is, where Creatives from other cities come here, and we send a complement of our best in return. Think of it as an artsy version of Wife Swap, but with better financial results. If you can haul in big names much in the manner that Amy Young from Pravus Gallery manages to do seemingly effortlessly, you could (in theory) milk the PR cow like an octopus on speed.

New blood is always a good thing in my humble opinion, and if anything, it could add a revitalizing jolt to our flaccid and highly disorganized construct of an art scene. An interesting take on this idea comes from my fellow graffiti enthusiast Alicia Crumpton, who states: “I would love to see some cross cultural exhibitions where we take a theme and have artists from different cities create an interpretive and or representative of that theme. For examples, Delhi and Phoenix or Japanese Chicanos and Phx… In my wildest dreams, it would be a street art and graffiti festival…complete with cross cultural exchange and dialogue. Man, that would be so fun.”

But even if we had let’s say, emerging artists as our base for these shows, the same concept still applies- a fresh infusion of raw talent goes a long way towards promoting the ethereal, and it’s something we as a whole desperately need. Keep in mind that this said endorsement would go both ways- our Creatives would be exposed to potential new patrons and their relevant media, and I can’t see a downside to that, no matter what angle I observe it from. It’s time to reach beyond our borders, extend the welcome mat, and acquire some new dance partners.

And if our luck holds out, we won’t step on each others toes while doing the Rumba.

4) The Money Trail: You shouldn’t need a CPA to follow it, am I right?

One of the pertinent questions I’ve always wanted to ask Artlink is where and how they spend their money- granted, there’s the cost of printing posters nobody sees, t-shirts that nobody wears, and securing the use of a trolley that allegedly sometimes likes to visit the people that pay for it, but I digress. And when it comes to office supplies, we all know that s*** ain’t cheap. Seriously… have you looked at the price of legal pads lately? You almost need a co-signer to walk out the door with one, and don’t even get me started on the cost of truly good pens- we’ll be here all day.

What I’m asking is this- what is the return on our direct investment? I for one, don’t see that things have gotten better for the Creatives or the PAS thanks to Artlink, but then again, I’m a realist who believes that marketing artists under the cheesy-as-frak label of “articipants” might in fact, dilute the seriousness of what we as a community are hoping to accomplish. But what do I know? I’ve never taken cues from how George Lucas marketed Return of the Jedi via creepy Ewok toys, so maybe I’m the one out of line.

And as an aside, does anybody really believe that the Empire could be jacked-up by stone-age teddy bears? Sure, there’s a power vacuum left after the Emperors death to contend with, but you’d still have thousands of soldiers and hundreds of ships, just sitting there rudderless. The entire idea is just absurd, and if I ever have the opportunity to meet Lucas in an elevator, we’re gonna have a serious chat regarding this and the craptastic “special edition” he foisted upon us a few years back.

Getting back on track, I initially failed to find a public resource that listed details of Artlink’s financial responsibilities to my personal satisfaction, and truth be told, that was probably more to my inexperience in having to do what comes off as accounting from afar. Given how much they pat themselves on the back for doing what comes off as a marginal effort driven by ego rather than community, you’d think that getting to the nuts and bolts of their financial infrastructure would be a relatively easy task, but it is and isn’t.

Thank God / Allah / Buddha / Yahweh / Debbie Harry for my legion of devoted readers, who stepped up and filled the void of my ignorance. I owe all of you a blood debt. Or a cookie. Take your pick, I’m good either way. Some of these loyalists talked of past supposed misdeeds concerning the worrying mismanagement of assets, others whispered about a disgraced board member embezzling funds for almost a year after they accused the then sitting treasurer of doing the same- that person btw, was allegedly cleared 100% by the Arizona Arts Commission, where in an ironic twist, it was also discovered that Artlink owed him money, to the tune of about 88 bucks. An alleged debt that this person claims that Artlink has yet to repay, I somewhat cynically note. I wonder how many t-shirts it would take to balance out those books. A question for another time, I guess.

Speaking for myself, I’ve always been disdainfully suspicious of the “trust me / us” model when it comes to the dispersion of publicly donated funds- it’s always seemed an excellent cover for financial buggery, in my humble opinion. That’s not to say that Artlink is currently involved in any such moral morasses, but at the same time, it’s not an absolution of said activity, either- I simply just want to know how this ineffective juggernaut is fueled, that’s all.

But there is this, a statement from a “please keep my name out of this” source who was intimately involved with Artlink back in the day: “At the time there was not any improper use of funds so much as general financial mismanagement. One guy who collected the mail would never get around to depositing checks and they would be under the seat of his car for weeks and months and that sort of thing. My guess is those records are just not there…

Of course the whole experience left me with a really bad taste, so I refused to be drawn back in after I bailed out in **** and I really have no notion of what went on after I left. My guess would be, more of the same, unawareness of the management of the finances of the organization. Good luck.”

Now with all honesty, I don’t know if these allegations are true or not, nor will I comment too deeply regarding it, as I don’t have the data necessary to corroborate it to my satisfaction, but it is a refrain I’ve heard from multiple sources, just saying. As I said earlier: ” That’s not to say that Artlink is currently involved in any such moral morasses, but at the same time, it’s not an absolution of said activity, either.”

However, if I were to play devil’s advocate, I’d have a difficult time believing that this unbidden communication was an attempt to bring Artlink’s perceived image among the arts community into disrepute- because quite simply, there’s no reason for this person to manufacture falsehoods that I can discern, and Artlink seems to be producing it’s own self-inflicted wounds at a rate that even Wolverine on his best day couldn’t heal from.

Speaking frankly in regards to when past board members have talked to   me [albeit with the assurance of anonymity] the metaphorical ducks they line up tend to follow a common refrain- while there’s nothing overtly illegal going on, the organization has a propensity to play it kind of loose, despite being currently overseen by someone who has been characterized [diplomatically and not so much per se] as a control freak. Fortunately for my quest, two of my readers directed me to some pertinent info, where I could acquire the information I was seeking, via the following link: https://projects.propublica.org/nonprofits/organizations/860638390

So what do the records reveal? Well….

If I were a person who was somewhat cynical to begin with, I might opine that the records seem a bit “shaky”. To bolster my opinion, lets take a gander at the records from 2015 (the most recent I could find so far- I’m still looking for the newest) to highlight some concerns I have regarding their distribution of the assets donated to them. In that year, they listed their total revenue as $59,092.00, with net expenses of $66,799.00, leading to a net loss of $7707.00- if I ran an organization into the red like that, I’m pretty sure I’d be out of a job, but that’s not how this particular breed of non-profits work, I guess.

Apparently, you can still get the participation trophy for pretending to be an arts advocate group, no matter how bad your actual performance is. So where did all that money go, you ask? Well, here’s the simplistic breakdown before I start my dissection:

1) $34k went to professional fees and independent contractors.

2) $13,419.00 for their office rent.

3) $8986.00 went to printing, publication, posting and shipping.
4) $10,394.00 to other expenses.

At first glance, none of this raises any metaphorical eyebrows, but I rarely ever take things at face value, as I’m an old-school cynic. And as such, I tend to look for cracks within the plaster- it’s kind of my niche. So before I start burrowing in, I have to address a related concern- for those of you who may not be aware, Artlink is also in charge of a three-day art event known as Art Detour- it’s traditionally held right before the weather in Phoenix switches from “Hey, this is kind of nice.” to “For the love of Odin, get out the oven mitts so we can open the car door!” On the surface, it ‘s presented as a vibrant art-walk, where all of the art galleries, art-spaces, and artists studios in Downtown Phoenix are open to the great and traditionally unaware, public.

Now, I’ve previously written at length about Artlinks puzzlingly consistent ineptitude in regards to Art Detour, and while I don’t think a rehash of those issues is truly warranted, I find myself having to sadly admit they remain as a tangible sticking point, due mostly to my email lighting up like a Christmas tree with complaints about this years event, which could be arguably and charitably described by those involved as a cluster-fuck of biblical proportions.

This year’s “throw mud at the wall and see if it brings cash” concept was to carve up the wide swath of Phoenix’s creative centers into “Art Districts”, and promote them as if they were singular islands adrift on an endless artsy sea. Naturally, this went awry. Not because of a lack of effort on the part of the Creative community, but because Artlink has the foresight of Mr. Magoo in a coal mine. Shockingly, promoting one area over another led to the perception among the masses that said region was the only one open for business- what an absolutely fucking brilliant idea.

In preparation for next years’ collective dung-heap of idiocy and ego, I offer this subtle suggestion for the Artlink board entire- maybe, just maybe… YOU SHOULD ASK THE CREATIVE COMMUNITY WHAT THEY F’KNG WANT AND MORE IMPORTANTLY, REQUIRE FIRST, BEFORE YOU ATTEMPT TO COORDINATE ANYTHING, YOU G*D-DAMN TWITS, AND AFTER THEY TELL YOU, LET SOMEONE ELSE TAKE THE REINS.

You know… maybe someone with no actual experience? Because I seriously doubt that they’d fk it up half as bad as you guys did this last go-around. Once again, if there was a measure of success, it most likely will be laid at the feet of the Creative community, not it’s bungling step-sister who for some as yet unknown reason, is still allowed to play by herself with sharp objects. Sigh… just when I think I can write about something else, it’s like Artlink views my wandering literary eye with all the disdain of a spurned ex, tosses it’s absinthe into the weeds around their IKEA Villa, and decides to bring it’s well-honed “D” game.

But if there is an upside to this, their most recent episode of inelegance, it’s that Artlink actually managed to bring an entirely new cock-up to the table, and I for one, can honestly say it caught me by surprise. You have no idea how refreshing it is to hear an unforeseen fresh-out-of-the-box complaint in regards to Artlink from the Creative community- it’s akin to Santa himself dropping off a crate of Ding Dongs at the Lair of Snarkitude, just so I could celebrate Halloween early.

Look at it this way- every year, I get to hear allegations about pre-paid trolleys that don’t arrive, promotional materials dropped off late or not at all, and art-spaces that get preferential treatment due to either a board member having a show or possessing an undisclosed vested interest, so forgive me if I was starting to feel a tad bit sleepy every time they were mentioned. Granted, I don’t mean to diminish by any means that the overall impact of their ineptitude wasn’t a negative, but even I didn’t think they had any fresh screw-ups left in them, so being thrown for a loop is a prize I didn’t expect to take home. And even better? It comes with street tacos, which are just like regular tacos, but cost three times as much.

Progress. Yummy yummy progress. Speaking of which, I think now would be a great place to take a break, grab some food, and rest up for the next installment, of which I am hoping will be the last time I ever have to put pen to pixels regarding this increasingly irrelevant pretend patron of the Arts in Phoenix. What can I say? Sometimes despite my better judgment, I have the optimism of a child at Christmas. Granted, I’m not asking for a pony, but if I could at least get the entire set of Micronauts, I’d be totally cool.

And when we come back, I talk book-keeping, start retooling my website, add a new layer to Artbitch, and talk about making friends with Trumpanzees via the magic of postcards.

“Art has been hijacked by non-artists. It’s been taken over by bookkeeping. The whole thing is so corrupt. But I suppose that’s okay. For artists, everything is grist for the mill. Artists are like cockroaches; we can’t be stamped out.” – Elaine de Kooning


Gentrification prefers Blands Pt.4 (Dancing with the Czars)

“It is not power that corrupts but fear. Fear of losing power corrupts those who wield it and fear of the scourge of power corrupts those who are subject to it.” – Aung San Suu Kyi, Freedom from Fear

Hello Blogiteers!

It has been heavy lately, has it not? I dropped the past blog to mixed and somewhat apathetic reviews, dealt with some annoyingly ongoing health issues, and had somebody I formerly respected stab me in the back to the point that I could do a fairly notable impression as a *Cenobite porcupine. *[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hellraiser]

But what are you going to do? My limited faith in Humanity as always remains standing, but my reverence for certain people… not so much. To be quite honest, I’ve never understood why some

of my fellow humans cave in so easily when faced with an ethical decision that doesn’t affect them directly, peripherally, or at all. It seems cowardice is the new bravery these days, much to my chagrin, and this brings me back in a roundabout way to the incessant thing sticking in my craw as of late, that being our so-called arts advocacy group known as Artlink.

Now, I’m not going to bore you with a rehash of my opinion in regards to how Artlink’s president Catrina Kahler has allegedly tossed the art community under the bus by metaphorically shacking up with the very people who are helping destroy it, but I will say one opinionated thing nonetheless- it’s time for either a palace revolt or a metaphorical firestorm that purifies. For sake of clarity, I have no issues with Catrina as a person- she seems nice, is easy on the eyes, and comes off as the type of woman I could probably really exasperate in a checkout line if I started randomly chatting her up.

In that regard, I’m pretty sure she’s not alone, and if I were to be brutally honest, she’s possibly overstocked with sympathetic allies in that department.

Regardless, I will point out the fact that Artlink is neither the hero we remember from the good ol’ days, or the one we currently require. The situation we find ourselves in demands consistent and more urgently, a truly effective game plan to present this city to the world, something I feel Artlink lacks. And for those of you that need proof of concept for this assertion, look no further than their “artist mixer” that attracted a zero sum of artists, despite there being ready access to cheese cubes gratis, alcohol, and free T-shirts. And lets face it- if you can’t attract Artists with complimentary food, cheap booze, and free black T-shirts, I’m forced to question both your popularity among the creatives, and your perception of reality…

Vehemently.

Along those lines, one ex-board member/artist recently confided in me that during their term under Catrina’s leadership, they felt more like a curiosity than an active participant. To quote: “I felt like a monkey in a cage.” This thought will be touched upon later in this screed, but this, in my humble opinion speaks volumes in regards to the disconnect between Artlink and the artistic community it claims to serve.

However, for me to say that Artlink has done nothing since it’s inception would not only be exceedingly untrue, it would also be outstandingly arrogant. Artlink’s list of accomplishments is long and wide, and to not give open credit where it’s truly due, would be an affront of gargantuan scope- even I will happily laud their (and this is key) past accomplishments. Nonetheless, that was yesterday, what are they doing today?

Well, gleefully getting in bed with the carpetbaggers dismantling the PAS, if one’s been paying attention, but I digress. Other than that almost inconsequential tidbit which quite honestly, I’m embarrassed to have to point out, Artlink is running like a fine tuned Yugo. Sure, I could note the fact that I didn’t see any advertising for this years’ Art Detour, past a few posters on Grand where all the galleries are, because who outside of that corridor needs to be made aware that a free art festival is taking place?

Nobody, that’s who. And let’s not forget the absence of local media involvement- since publicity for our two-night-a-month art scene seemingly ranks right up there with Artlink organizing their T-shirt drawer, one couldn’t possibly deem that Art Detour should fare any better- after all, isn’t it the height of true professionalism to post a volunteer call a week before an event you had months to plan?

Nah.. it would be impolite of me to make certain so-called advocates blush under the weight of their alleged mismanagement, downright boorish, if truth be told. And if there’s one thing I’m known far and wide for, it’s a sense of supreme diplomacy even when facing opposition from faux advocates who outwardly lack not only common sense in regards to promoting our efforts, but allegedly, a sense of ethics as well.

The definition of advocate by the way, is as follows: “One who supports or promotes the interests of a cause or group.” Given those parameters, could somebody please explain to me or anyone for that matter, how Artlink’s two last “deals” for Creatives in this city come anywhere close to the concept of true advocacy? This concern is followed by another query split in twain: does it seem like Artlink is truly doing the job it claps itself on the back for, and where is it spending the money it raises from it’s soft coercion? I’d say no and I’m not sure, but then again, I’m a cynic who believes in tangible  reality, not hype.

Unless it comes to how awesome Ding Dongs are, and even then, I’m kind of judgmental.

Despite my disparagement, this year’s Detour came off as pretty solid, but the success of such cannot be laid at the feet of Artlink, if word on the street is any indicator. In gathering the opinion of some of the gallery owners on Grand, my takeaway was that Artlink’s influence upon the scene is akin to that of a deadbeat father- they’re there for the BBQ’s and the make-up sex, but flee when the metaphorical diaper needs to be changed. Artlink hasn’t created a base for a financially stable art scene, far from it. Any positive change in regards to sales should be given to the galleries whose sheer force of will and endless networking have created the base from which they draw fiscal solidity.

Sadly, [depending on your POV], the biggest draw for Detour this year was a billboard depicting America’s Twittering Oompa-Loompa, President Donald Trump, front and center of an apocalyptic landscape, bordered by atomic clouds and squared-off dollar signs that call up remembrances of Nazi swastikas. Commissioned by local business owner Beatrice Moore, who has stated that it will remain on display for as long as he serves as president, the unbecoming [yet highly accurate] representation has gone viral, drawing both praise and controversy for the nature of it’s message.

Isn’t it ironic that the ones calling those of liberal bent “snowflakes”, psychologically melt the moment someone dares mock their Tangerine Jesus using either humor or more typically, actual facts? Karen Fiorito, the California-based artist who is responsible for the work, has received numerous threats of rape, death and harm to her children since the works installation, because that’s how the alt-right handles mature dissension in this, the modern era: threatening violence in their underwear, all while hiding under the internets bed.

Along those lines, a “protest rally” was organized which garnered the support of nine “Bikers for Trump”, none of whom actually showed up. Ooh, that’s fierce. You’d think a state that went for the Mango Mussolini could do way better in the cretin department than these delusional twits, but I digress. Best part? Their posting a meet-up space that’s was bulldozed years ago just because they liked the name, which was “Patriot’s Park”. A side note: you’d think people who spend the majority of their free time web-whining would be equally adept at using Google, but as I’ve often noted before, these Trumplethinskins are as allergic to facts as Superman is to Kryptonite.

According to Fiorito, the work symbolizes: “global destruction, warfare and annihilation of the planet, representing corporate power and greed and how our society has become all about money and corporatism.” The backside of the billboard however, has a very different message- it shows 5 hands representing multi-ethnicity spelling out the word “Unity” in sign language. Fiorito’s artistic decision for this aesthetic choice was due to her sense that:  “I wanted to have a positive or a flip side to the billboard,” she says, “I wanted something to be a call to unity and a call for people to come together to resist what’s happening … if we become united, we can defeat anything.”

Now, while I support both the message and the staging of this provocative work, it does raise an almost curmudgeonly grumble; the people who came down here for the sole purpose of shooting selfies with it should have been here for the main event, not the sideshow. While I and I’m sure many other in the scene are grateful for the crowds [and worldwide publicity] it generated, the discovery of our collective efforts afterwards as if almost by accident is a smear that is borne solely on the shoulders of Artlink, and no one else.

Seriously… why isn’t the majority of the scene sick and tired of this half-ass, craft-fair marketing, bulls**t yet? Why can’t we as a whole find the utmost balance between commerce and creativity?

Speaking of which, can anyone at Artlink explain why (and how) they let the opportunities of the Final Four slip by? In a week that played host to one of sport’s biggest events, coupled with the Pride Parade and the free of charge Mc Dowell Music Festival, how hard would it have been to pitch a tent near any one of these events, distribute some flyers, and hand out a couple of those T-shirts Artlink is so proud of? Call me crazy, but wouldn’t diverting some of that FREE national publicity towards our local art scene have been a good idea as a means to expand our reach?

And when it comes to the concept of allegorical expansion, where is (and what is) Artlink’s long-term game plan to benefit the PAS? I see a lot of lame-ass self-congratulatory parties taking place, but I don’t see any useful forward movement, and that’s not what advocacy is supposed to be about, but I digress. Artlink’s willing pairing with Baron Development, one of the countless influences that is sublimating our community into ethereal remembrance, serves in my opinion as a shining testament to how insipidly dense the organization has become.

I noted this alliance in a previous blog, wherein Baron Properties and Artlink announced a voucher program that would have allowed residents to purchase art pieces and receive a discount on their rent in return. The original reimbursements started at $250.00, but based on availability, could have gone higher. Incoming residents who used the art vouchers were directed to an online list of participating artists, galleries and art spaces, which included Roosevelt Row spaces such as Eye Lounge and the Phoenix Center for the Arts, and tenants had 60 days from their move in to redeem said voucher with a receipt of their purchases.

All of this announced via an ever so fluffy press release, which heralded a unique and innovative approach to the promotion of our local art scene in conjunction with our ostensible advocacy group.

Except…..  according to one of Illuminate’s leasing consultants [a lovely girl by the name of Lauren McCauley] the program was implemented “for only four or five months, I don’t remember- it was gone by the time I was hired”. Now I don’t know about you, but that remarkably short time frame hardly seems like it could have had a calculable financial impact, but that’s just my humble opinion- maybe I missed the part where my fellow artists were rolling in their pimped-out Cadillac’s, making the gentrified cash rain.

But that’s what I love about the current incarnation of our resident faux-arts advocacy group- it never fails to hastily craft a feeble attempt at relevancy whenever it’s previous one has crashed and burned like Paul Walker inside a 2005 Carrera GT. I’m sorry. That was heartless. By comparison, I’m fairly confident the majority of artists in this town wouldn’t condescend to p*** on Artlink if it were on fire, and the body of work he created is theoretically something that has a much better chance of standing the test of time, given Artlink’s meandering in regards to a comprehensive end-game.

But Odin love them, they keep plugging away* like a drunken toddler in the dark, and one can’t help but admire that kind of gritty determination, no matter what side of my opinion you choose to land on. *[Link: https://artlinkphoenix.com/artlink-announces-call-for-artist-forward-grant-applications/]

From the press release:

“Artlink Inc. is now accepting applications from Arizona-based artists for its inaugural grant program: The Artist Forward Fund (TAFF). The deadline for applications is midnight May 31, 2017 Mountain Standard Time (MST).

The program, originally announced at the 2017 Art d’Core Gala during Art Detour 29, is produced by Artlink in collaboration with a group of prominent professional artists who are serving on the newly formed Artlink Artist Council (AAC): Julie Anand, Joan Baron, Christine Cassano, Bill Dambrova, Peter Deise, Jeff Falk, Isaac Fortoul, Gabriel Fortoul, Frank Gonzales, Annie Lopez, William LeGoullon, Ann Morton, Joe Ray, Patricia Sannit, Randy Slack, Marilyn Szabo.

These established professional artists have worked 10 years or more in exhibiting and/or producing exhibitions that shine a spotlight on Phoenix; represent the diverse cultural identity of our city; and have contributed significant time/energy to either Art Detour/Artlink and/or partner initiatives that strive to elevate the profile of Phoenix’s creative community.Submitted grant applications will be reviewed by the AAC along with members of Artlink’s Board of Directors. The selected grant recipient will receive a $500 grant and/or the opportunity for an exhibition facilitated by Artlink. Additionally, members of the AAC will provide mentorship to selected artist(s).

The artist recipient will be someone who demonstrates potential in their practice through risk-taking and pushing their work in dynamic ways. It will be someone who is at a critical juncture in their career when this support would be most impactful.

“We’re excited about helping artists in such a direct way,” said Catrina Kahler, Artlink Board President. “This is not only financial support, but mentorship from professional artists who have been living and working in the area for years. They are excited to share what they have learned and we are looking forward to seeing the results of this innovative collaboration.””

Gotta give Catrina credit… she does know how to present a puff-job like nobody else, and as always, it just gets my claws a-tingling. Seriously. I’m so happily vibrating over here you could use me as a tuning fork, and I’m completely tone deaf. Not in the range of Nickelback, mind you, but pretty darn close. So why should I have a problem with this, when on paper, it looks like such a positive? Even I, the great and unholy cynic couldn’t possibly see any problems with this, now could I? 

Sigh… it’s as if you don’t know me at all.

To move things along, let’s get the inevitable nitpicking out of the way first. As stated above, this newest in a long line of sugared placebos was acknowledged a while back at the pretentiously monikered Art d’Core Gala, which used to be known as the Artists’ Ball until somebody thought that renaming it after something Phoenix doesn’t actually have- that being a viable core to it’s art scene, was the best way to give it legitimacy among the art cognoscenti.

We can’t create a stable financial base to support what we do, but we sure can party down with the mayor, and that’s what counts as a win these days, it seems. At this point, Artlinks’ ability to pat it’s own back for the most mediocre of it’s efforts, has almost certainly given at least one of it’s symbolic arms the length needed to give a reach-around from space. I for one, would rather work with the mayor, versus go dancing with him- that’s not meant as a slam against Greg, I’ve voted for him twice, and the last I checked, that had nothing to do with how well he does the Charleston, but I digress.

Getting back to my carping, the discrepancy between the party announcement [March 16th] and posting it on their website [May 1st] just shows the casualness that Artlink exudes in it’s response to what it’s mission allegedly is. As a fellow Creative noted on one of my FaceBook pages:

“In regard to Art d’Core Gala and those kind of art affairs… Those who attend and participate are those who support the development (“love the expansion of ASU (my alma mater- my mommie) finally downtown is becoming a ‘real’ city (now that the basement dwellers and deplorables have been driven out) and the players involved (the social movers and shakers) like members of the CDC..(our own personal police informants) and people with questionable ethics like politicians, lawyers and the rich… along with desperate wannabes there to rub shoulders with those who they hope will pay for their lack of actual talent, in exchange for legitimacy, and there you have it.

Problem is.. I don’t know what any of that has to do with Art. After all Art is who you are, not what you create.. what you create is a expression of who you are. If what you create is a lack of personal integrity, that is not art.”

My point is this: not everyone within the PAS went to or agrees with, this back-patting charade, and not everyone in the PAS is up to date in regards to what’s up with the limited opportunities available, so getting this information online ASAP should have been a priority. Factor in that the deadline comes just 30 days after it was, and hopefully one can see why once again, half-ass is Artlinks go-to cruising speed. I know it’s a bitchy grey area, but if you gloss over the cogs that comprise the machine, what are you like when it comes to the ongoing maintenance of it?

Personally, I think the retired without fanfare and utterly riotous failure that was the Baron “deal” serves as a stark case in point, but I tend to deal with the absolute, not the theoretical. As to the artists involved with this program, I’m not going to have too much in the way of snark to fling, due to either respect for who they are and what they represent, or because I have an inter-personal relation ship with them. Not too much, but some. It is me after all. To somewhat smooth over any hackles that may get raised in regards to this grouping, I’d go one step further and state with full conviction that any flaws to be blamed within this proposal most likely will rest at the feet of the suits, not the smocks, as I can’t really see anybody in this pool of talent being that short-sighted.

While I appreciate what this gifted group is trying to achieve, it would be foolish to overlook the level of distrust that Artlink has among my fellow Creatives, and that’s something I’m neither going to forgive or forget, given the past. to further expand upon the earlier words of a former artist who served on the board: “I felt like a monkey in a cage most of the time… like I was trotted out when they needed to prove they knew artists, and when I resigned, the regular dinner invitations stopped completely. [In quite the sarcastic tone…] I’m sure those two aren’t related, right?”

This insight concerning Artlinks inner machinations not only once again underscores the alleged need to appear artist friendly, it also opens a discussion on the suggested proclivity of a specific person using people they’ve deemed influential as steps on the way up to a higher plane of shoulder-rubbing, AKA “coat-tailing” within the PAS. Whether this is true or not, I simply do not know, but the stories circulating around the scene have tended to echo each other nonetheless, and since Catrina has basically dodged all attempts to have a clearly defined discussion in regards to issues I’ve raised, [as described earlier in this series] I really can’t make a purely clean judgment call as a rule.

So take it as it lays. It wouldn’t be out of character within the PAS, and I’m pretty much done with extending the welcome mat, if truth be told, given the fact she’s questioned both my honesty and motives overall. My adulterous ex-fiancé has better odds at getting back on my good side, and that’s only because she’d do that thing I really like… cooking. If the stories about Catrina are accurate, she’d cater the dinner, and then brag about how many hours she spent peeling the shrimp.

If you know her, I’m sure you know for certain. If you know what I mean. Allegedly, of course.

Getting back to the board, [hereafter referred to it’s proper name, the AAC] the talent is honestly, stunning. I’m a huge fan of most of the assembled artists, save for one person who had a wackadoo moment and threatened me over the phone several years ago, but that’s water under the bridge, as the common saying goes, and I feel no need to reopen that particular box of idiocy, no matter how tempting or overdue it might be.

I’ll just take great satisfaction knowing they’ll die alone and eaten by the feral cats they’ve adopted, and leave it at that. My current adulting level: June Cleaver. See? I can grow as a person. It’s just not as interesting.

However, I still think this alliance will either fail or fadeout within a year, not because of the given personalities involved, but due mostly to Catrina’s already noted dearth of leadership and the unforeseen challenges ahead. Now that my minor finickiness is abated, lets get to my favorite part of why I write- the moment when I start dissecting a metaphorical cow with a literary chainsaw, and turn the surroundings into an organic Pollack painting.

First, let’s start with the “prizes” Artlink is offering: a $500.00 grant, the guarantee of a long-term mentorship “from professional artists who have been living and working in the area for years, and/or the opportunity for an exhibition facilitated by Artlink.”

Now, if these were under the guidance of a consistently proficient advocacy group, I’d probably be a tad bit less skeptical of it’s overall effect in regards to the career of whatever artist receives it. In order to explain my cynicism as to these offerings, I’m going to approach them individually, so as to keep the distinctive issues between them clear.

1) Five hundred bucks ain’t worth what it used to be, now is it?

When I was born way back in January of 1969, 500 dollars was *equivalent to the buying power of 3,400.45 today. (2017) In 1991, when I started my art career in Phoenix, that amount had dropped to $902.21. [*http://www.dollartimes.com/inflation/inflation.php?amount=500&year=1969]

These days? It’s un-amazingly, just 500 bucks, and in the grand sense of things, that isn’t squat, especially where being a Creative is concerned. While free money is always nice, there’s a certain limit as to where it actually makes a quantifiable difference in one’s life, and it isn’t around the five Benjis mark, that’s for sure. Most artists live on a shoestring- the odds are pretty good that money won’t go to artistic endeavors, so much as basic necessities, and I’m pretty comfortable in my mindset concerning this.

This isn’t “financial support”, this is misdirection parsed out for the sake of appearance only. When in the past has Artlink ever seemed to care about financially supporting artists? If they did, they definitely would have made a much better deal than the one they cut with RED Development as noted in an earlier piece I wrote, and they sure as frak wouldn’t have let their train-wreck covenant with Baron be quietly phased out, either, now would they? Just sayin’. I find that it strikes strange that there’s so many business people on the board, and yet none of them seemingly know how to successfully market such an attractive commodity.

From the call: “Artlink is supported by City of Phoenix Office of Arts and Culture, Downtown Phoenix Inc., Arizona Commission on the Arts, Phoenix Art Museum, The Arizona Republic, Dunn Transportation, Roosevelt Row CDC, Warehouse District, Central Arts District and Historic Grand Avenue”, and yet despite all that shared involvement, still requires a submission fee to: “support the administration of all Artlink efforts in supporting local artists. This includes a variety of year-round opportunities to promote, exhibit and sell your work.” but rest assured, “as we grow, we will continue to look for more opportunities.”

How encouraging. Even when they have what could be considered a good idea, they still can’t do it right, and therein lies a fundamental problem. If this group was in charge of selling toilet paper to the populace, we’d all still be using leaves, and if their product was Big Macs, everyone in this city would look like 1986 Elle Mc Pherson.  

After having spoken to two of the artists that sit on the AAC, it seems that the flaws inherent within this grant idea cannot be laid at the feet of the creative facet, but at the short-sighted and so-called leadership of Artlink, per typical motus operandi. Several ideas were allegedly cooked up by the smocks that know far better than the suits what is ACTUALLY needed in the way of assistance to the artistic community, but according to my sources, those were either ignored or jettisoned by the ones who know the very least of which they speak.

Or as I call it, a typical Wednesday for Catrina and her cabal of second-handers.

If you remember, I wrote about Artlink’s annual juried exhibition/clusterf**k a while back, wherein they somehow managed to get Baron Development to pony up 10k in prizes, for art that was overall, top quality, but hardly groundbreaking or risk-taking. I’m not going to regurgitate the intricacies, but the show was weak in it’s presentation, and it’s choice of venue [The Heard] was out of place for an advocacy group that claims to fully support the PAS. However, I am truly happy that somebody who strikes me as relatively non-material took home the Grand Prize of 5k, and that leads me to a rather pointed series of questions:

Instead of throwing yet another self-congratulatory circle jerk, why didn’t Artlink use that money to it’s supreme potential? Can you imagine the ripple effect of ten 1k grants? Or five 2k ones? Maybe an outreach of 2 5k’s, or even better, one 10k grant- that right there, would make a difference worth noting. I for one, could squeeze juice out of ten grand better than *Xenia Onatopp practicing her technique on a Canadian Admiral, and I’m completely addicted to buying books, which can get rather costly after a while.
*[ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Xenia_Onatopp]

Seriously. Am I only one who’s thought of this? If so, then we’re all in really deep trouble, because if I’m the smartest snark in the room, then you need to do two things right now: cash in your assets, and party like it’s 1999, because the end times are nigh, and the Horsemen are-a coming to play all the hits. If Artlink wants to pretend to help artists using the obvious smoke-and-mirrors distraction of self-serving and inadequate endowments, then it definitely needs to get it’s act together and cough up some effective underwriting to do it.

But then again, I also believe in extraterrestrials, so its difficult to see which will show up in this scene first… my odds are on the visitors with the unnerving *cookbook.
*[ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dk01eeKMD_I ]

My simple suggestion to Artlink: next time you feel the need to waste precious capital on yet another dance party, put that money back into the hands of the demographic you pretend to advocate for, and just have a BBQ at Catrinas house- you know…  the one you only get invited to if you have use as a stair-step or socially relevant prop?

This of course, now naturally leads to the second issue at hand- the so-called ‘mentorship” being offered in lieu of any truly effectual and constructive funding.

2) Mentorship, like producing a watchable DC superhero movie, is harder than it sounds.

The concept of Mentorship is regarded as the guidance provided by an experienced person in either a specific trade or within an institution, be it a business or educational concern, and in relation to where the arts are concerned. it is also an exceedingly crucial component, and I state this based on my own personal experience. One needs to choose their mentors by way of the same vigilance that mentors use to select their apprentices- that with a sense of focused caution. For the relationship to work, there must be a profound level of trust and respect on both sides, and it cannot waver.

The other two necessities are time and patience, something most Creatives are not really known for having in abundance, but that are imperative for any association to be truly successful, and that’s where I see the hairline cracks forming in this initiatives armor. To be a fairly effective mentor, one needs to carve out and dedicate a significant chunk of one’s life to the cause. As much as I hold sincere respect for the artists involved, (save for the one who’ll be eaten by cats, of course) I happen to harbor severe reservations as to if they’re truly aware how much time this aspect will consume in regards to their lives.

Once again, I’m NOT bagging on the artists in regards to their dedication or passion for this project, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t point out that given the fact most artists typically work a day gig on top of their “real job”, finding time to be a life-coach for an inexperienced minion running underfoot is gonna be a real bitch, no matter how much energy you approach it with. This leads to another query I have: if  the role of mentorship rests on the shoulders of the group entire, how will they share custody of their artsy Padawan? I can see it now:

“You get them Monday, I get them Tuesday, the rest of you can have them on Wednesday and every other Friday, and we all draw straws on who gets to take them out for Dick Blicks and Pinkberry on the weekend.”

Yep. There’s no possible way that this plan could have any massive hiccups. Like most of Artlink’s other endeavors as of late, I’m sure this one will run smoother than Teflon on glass. After all, just because their past track record of merging inefficient marketing while throwing artists under the bus, proves otherwise, that’s no reason to be a negative Nancy now does it? Of course not. Even a monkey with a broken typewriter will eventually draft an Academy Award screenplay given enough time, so this feeling of unbridled optimism that come this same time next year, we’ll all be watching Exit Through the Gift Shop Pt.2, is *clearly in order. *[Sarcasm highly intended.]

Or more likely, we’ll be standing outside where the gift shop used to stand, staring through the cracked windows of yet another failed venture. If the Road to Hell is paved with good intentions, I’d opine that Artlink has pretty much built a 12-lane super highway by now, and that all the traffic on it is being routed through one lane, while they decide where to place the electronic billboard heralding their lack of accomplishment.

3) Did anyone else notice there’s more vagaries in this Artists’ Call than a French New Wave film?

I won’t speak for anyone save myself, but I’m a person who really likes specifics. Specific specifics, specifically. I despise platitudes, saccharine treacle masquerading as Peter Pan advice, and I, if truth be told, loathe the phrase “trust me”, with the heat of a thousand suns- especially when there’s no base to stand secure on. Why do I feel the need to state this?

Well, due to the wording and consistent lack of details that Artlink seems so fond of using in it’s supposed artist calls, I find it’s vague promises of things that may be to come a tad bit vexing. In the case of the prior deal with RED Development, it was the cheerfully indistinct “details to follow” in relation to the compensation for the artists work being reproduced as limited edition prints, and in this newest instance, it’s the phrase “and/or”.

From the call yet again: “The selected grant recipient will receive a $500 grant and/or the opportunity for an exhibition facilitated by Artlink. Additionally, members of the AAC will provide mentorship to selected artist(s). The artist recipient will be someone who demonstrates potential in their practice through risk-taking and pushing their work in dynamic ways. It will be someone who is at a critical juncture in their career when this support would be most impactful.”

“Artlink will schedule the exhibition based on discussions and calendars of both the artist and the venue providing the space.” This is puzzlingly followed by the reiteration in the FAQ section of a previously established point, that being: The criteria is up to the Artlink Artist Council in determining which artist “demonstrates potential in their practice through risk-taking and pushing their work in dynamic ways.”

Two things: is there any reason why an exhibition is listed if there’s a probable chance it won’t actually be granted, and what purpose does a replication of the judging criteria announcement serve? Is it to help clarify Artlinks stance, or to serve as a bulwark against future criticism of their not providing any actual details in the first place?

Seriously… what defines “risk-taking“, and what entails the “dynamic” pushing of one’s work? Who will set that standard within the assembled group of Creatives, and how will the differences of opinion be eventually settled? It’s almost as if Catrina and her rubber-stamping scheme monkeys attended a Tupperware party and while they forgot to take notes, they still want credit for skimming the less pertinent points of the brochure nonetheless.

I’d also highlight that there will never be a time in any artists career where they wouldn’t view free money or a sponsored show as impactful, but I digress, since it’s such an obvious point that it shouldn’t have to be made in the first place. As for the theoretical exhibition, will it be all new work, or a retrospective of career thus far? Will it be a large or intimate show? What venues will be considered- established galleries, or the bottom tier of alternative spaces, such as coffee shops?

When one factors in the ongoing scarcity of places to successfully show ones work at, [IE: make actual sales] where is there an Artlink friendly gallery that fits all the ass-kissing requirements that Artlink demands, and has the level of professional presentation that this scene so severely lacks?

Who knows- maybe they’ll just book the Heard again, and unlike before, just go completely full-ass with the incompetence throttle this time. See? I can give credit where credit is due, despite all evidence to the contrary. So what is there to do in regards to this, you ask? To be brutally honest, it would be hypocritical of me as an artist to demand that my fellow artists pass up free money that could in theory, support creative endeavors, albeit on an obviously minor level- despite what some of my critics think, I’m a big believer in grabbing opportunities if they present themselves.

Having said that, I’m also a colossal proponent for not making deals with the Devil for inconsequential gains- Artlinks advocacy on the behalf of the PAS is at best, akin to Marie Antoinette telling peasants to go suck cake. What is currently being offered are metaphorical crumbs that have fallen off the table, and we’re supposed to not only be grateful for this arrogant condescension, we’re also expected to fund it as well, something I find to be particularly infuriating.

I’ve previously mentioned the fact that despite being underwritten by a host of entities, Artlink still inflicts a form of soft coercion on the art community in the form of membership fees. If you’re not a member, you, your work, and your gallery doesn’t get promoted, period. Yep… nothing screams “successful advocacy model” than hitting up the cash-strapped demographic you’re supposed to protect and promote under the threat of exclusion, am I right? In essence, you’re out there on your own, and it’s something that allegedly happens to paid members as well, if the stories of being passed over by the trolley service happen to be accurate.

So where do we go from here? Do we continue with the tried and true way of failure, or do we start anew and try a more logical approach, one that applies the reservoirs of social and cultural marketing to it’s fullest and makes use of the vast talent pool waiting to be tapped here?

Guess which way I’m leaning. Artlink has had it’s day, has had it’s say, and has had it’s way for far longer than it required, or more importantly- it has deserved. It’s time for a true leader- whether that’s personified as an individual or a group is still up for debate and eventual consensus, but I think most would agree with my POV that the need for forceful and effective leadership dedicated to every member of the Arts community, and not just those who swear allegiance under the threat of being purposefully overlooked, is crucial.

And as an aside, it also rings true that it’s way past the time when this towns art-czars should have been unseated- their history and actions thus far have proven that they only look out for themselves and their interests, and not for us as a whole, so I think the proverbial running them out on a rail is not only required, it’s something all the disparate factions of the PAS could bond over, if handled right. The resultant cookout alone would be worth the price of our collective effort, as I know more than a few artists who make a mean potato salad, and that right there, is what true camaraderie is all about.

But what of Artlink? Well, I’m okay with either them getting their act together or getting their ass handed to them. But if the plan I’ll be laying out within the next few screeds pans out, it may turn into a and/or type of situation, to use one of their sayings, and I’m good with that too. But that still leaves the question of what happens to Catrina, does it not?

Why yes- yes it does. But don’t you worry, my loyal blogiteers- she’ll still get to dance with the mayor… she’ll just have to do it on her own damn dime for once.

And when we come back… I meet the newest Art-Barbie that Roosevelt Row has to offer, lay the basic framework for a new advocacy group, and take a look at the exciting world of Artlinks finances, to see where and how they allegedly misspend their money. And there’ll be Snark as well, but you already knew that.

“Any leader who feels the pain and fights for you, support him or you lose- but if that leader doesn’t feel the pain and fight for you, don’t support him, fight for yourself, be a leader and fight for others.” – Saminu Kanti



Gentrification prefers Blands PT.3 (Seattle’s Worst)

 “It is hard not to see into the future, faced with today’s blind architecture – a thousand times more stupid and more revolting than that of other ages. How bored we shall be inside!” – Andre Breton

Ola, Blogiteers!

How are you? I for one, am slightly depressed on several levels- one of those being the fact that a vulgar and massively unqualified mango Mussolini is in charge of this already great country until either the act of impeachment or the fall of a guillotine replaces him with his equally asinine backup, a faux-Christian zealot who at best, looks like an advertisement for constipation medicine.

Dark times are ahead, and the challenges will be formidable, but I believe in my heart that in the end, we can pull together as a unified nation and make sure that *Drumpf never gets the nuclear codes or access to Twitter ever again.
*[ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DnpO_RTSNmQ ]

I’m also bummed out by the absolutely horrendous prison rape scene that was this past year, and feeling pretty confident that I’m not alone in regards to this synopsis. If I were to script 2016 as a low-budget horror movie, I’d propose one of the following two scenarios as a plotline: either a psychotic New Year’s Baby (most likely from the Disco Era- I’m looking at you,1977…) has come back to seek revenge for being forced to wear a denim jumpsuit, or there’s a group of Angels sitting around, popping open sealed scrolls, and casually handing them off to white supremacists.

Sure, I did receive a ton of praise and agreement in regards to my POV as noted in my last screed, [which clocked in at 10K+ words] but when it came to following the clarion call to transform those quiet accolades into focused action, the response was “meh” at best.  As is characteristic of the PAS, the greater part sits on it’s collective ass and grouses about our relevant issues, while doing nothing to change the situation.

Sadly, this does not come as a shock- if I had to bake a casserole comprised solely of truly effective advocacy elements within the PAS, I’d barely have enough ingredients to construct a cupcake, and an utterly whiny one at that. Due to this particularly sad state of affairs, I’m seriously taking into consideration the crafting of a new rule regarding Artbitch- if you’re going to ask me to air your concerns within the PAS, than you should also have the veracity to be an ally when the pitchfork brigade arrives on my metaphorical doorstep.

To quote Confucius: “To know what is right and not to do it is the worst cowardice.” And if I were to speak frankly as I possibly could- that quality seems to be exceedingly prevalent these days among several of my so-called colleagues. Speaking of which, I didn’t see many when I decided to attend the “mixer” that Artlink threw a while back at The Grand on Central, a brand-new coffeehouse built within the bones of the gleeful decadence that was once known as Club Amsterdam.

Overall, my walking into a allegorical tigers cage was fairly pleasant, taking into account the fact that my saturnly venomous anti-Artlink screed had been posted the night before. Thank Odin that certain members of their board obviously hadn’t read it- now whether that was due to lack of interest on their part or it’s 10K plus word count, I’m not sure, but I’ll take whatever grace I can get these days.

Plus, there was also the assurance of free cheese cubes, and that alone was worth the risk..

Taken at face value, it was a fairly positive event, where Artlink’s current President Catrina Kahler outlined the organization’s future plans and introduced it’s new logo via free shirts, one of which when graciously offered, I diplomatically refused- principles and all that, you know. Believe me, the fact that my GF Ashley stating that if I acquired any more black t-shirts, she’d leave me for someone with more than two colors in their closet, had nothing to do with it. However, it does explain that whole paisley phase I went through a few months back, so if you missed it, that’s a shame- envision Anthony Michael Hall impersonating Prince, and you’ll be right on track.

As acknowledged, I gleefully attended this soiree, primarily for two reasons- one: I wanted to see what the turnout of artists directly connected with the PAS would be (extremely light), and two: I wanted to have a chat with Mrs. Kahler, if such an opening arose, to discuss the issues I wrote about in my last missive and see if a common and civil ground could be reached. I know, I know… busted sense of optimism and all that- I really need to get that fixed when I get some time off.

Granted, while she and I did get to have a civil chat in the parking lot after the event, it was hardly what I would call progress, as it’s obvious to me at least that Artlink is trying to be something it’ll never be, gambling with people who are clearly working against them, and the dearth of PAS affiliated artists at this “mixer” should have served as a huge red flag to specific insiders that Artlink is not entirely in line with what the PAS needs or wants.

Whether it is an issue of trust or disinterest, speaking objectively, one could make the valid argument that most artists in this so-called scene view Artlink with varying levels of contempt- a viewpoint somewhat validated by the lack of appearance from the majority of Creatives who keep this art-river flowing.

I noted this in my earlier screed, where I put forth the theory that some of this disdain is based on bruised ego, or a portion of trivial misunderstandings, but the one consistent thread that prevails is Artlink allegedly ignoring art-spaces, galleries, and artists who aren’t forking over dues to the organization- essentially, it’s a pay-to-play Ponzi scheme at best, in my humble opinion.

Call me old-fashioned, but I’ve always believed that if you claim to stand for something, you actually follow through with it. To clarify what I mean, I’ll kick off my shredding-to-be with Artlinks very own organization description: Artlink keeps the arts integral to the development of our city by connecting artists, business and community. Artlink supports a variety of community-based art events, including complimentary Trolley Tours during the monthly First Friday Art Walk, one of the nation’s largest self-guided art walks; a pop-up gallery program; the Infusion arts initiative; and the annual Juried Exhibition, Art Detour, and Art d’Core Gala.”

I’ve already discussed First Friday, Art Detour, the ego-stroke that is the Juried Exhibition, and Art d’Core Gala, either in passing or at great length in previous scrawlings, so I’ll refrain from going over a carcass picked so clean, the bones shine like silver. As for the Infusion Initiative and local pop-up galleries, those are actually the only solid bricks in walls built upon Jello foundations, so I’ll just give them a big thumbs-up, as I metaphorically sideswipe Artlink’s Trolley of Exclusion program.

As with most things Artlink related, it sounds great on the surface. A trolley that you can board at multiple points around the downtown center, whisks you away to explore all that our exceedingly limited art scene has to offer, and it doesn’t cost you a dime. Even our pro-602 mayor Greg Stanton, has been a guide on one of these trolleys, and it was a blast.

Seriously. The man’s comic timing is spot on.

So how in the name of *Enki, God of the **Abzu, could anyone disparage that? Sigh… it’s like you don’t know me at all.
*[ Enki is a god in Sumerian mythology, later known as Ea in Akkadian and Babylonian mythology. He was originally patron god of the city of Eridu, but later the influence of his cult spread throughout Mesopotamia and to the Canaanites, Hittites and Hurrians. **[ The Abzu {also called engur} was the name for the primeval sea below the void space of the underworld (Kur) and the earth (Ma) above. It may also refer to fresh water from underground aquifers that was given a religious fertilizing quality. Lakes, springs, rivers, wells, and other sources of fresh water were thought to draw their water from the abzu.]

Well to begin with, one must take into consideration the following two points- the first being that things aren’t what they appear to be, and the second is that I tend to find the cracks in the armor, if you know what I mean… call it a gift. While the idea that our local arts advocacy group getting in bed with the enemy [developers] is truly abhorrent- I’m more appalled by the knowledge that they’re also excluding the people they claim to represent as they simultaneously throw them under the bus.

However, I have to admit to my somewhat mild embarrassment, I’m as equally impressed by their ability to do so. Don’t get me wrong, they continue to repulse me like you cannot believe, but I’ve gotta give props where props are due. All they need is a hollow volcano, some jump-suited minions, and a few Asian henchmen wearing steel-brimmed berets, and Artlink could finally cross that subtle threshold as truly proper villains.

Granted, my assessment may be a tad overblown, but if this were a Bond film set in a deli, Artlink would be a *BGL sandwich at best.
*[Blofeld / Goldfinger / Le Chiffre]

From my outsider POV, I can’t believe in Artlink as a true advocate for the arts in Phoenix, given both their recent decisions and seemingly private agenda. Artlink is designated as a 501(c) non-profit organization, and yet it has no problem cozying up to the very people who are killing us, all while soliciting money from the very community that generally doesn’t have any- that being the artists within the scene whom they claim to support.

The susceptible ones who do pay “dues” are tagged with the moniker “articipants”, because when you join the artsy version of the Mouseketeers, a cute nickname is imperative, I guess. Now before you start screaming about how expensive it is to market our scene and to run those trolleys, I’d counter with this query: overall, is that money being truly used to it’s best effect?

In all the time I’ve been in the scene [since 1991] I’ve yet to see this promotion that Artlink claims it does. A few posters downtown and some social media shares hardly constitute a marketing blitz, and a bland tv news spot every six months or so barely dents the surface either, given the fact that the majority of this so called coverage consists of marginalizing our efforts as either quirky or cute. I cannot even begin to tell you the number of Phoenicians that I’ve had conversations with who have no idea that we or our art-related efforts such as Chaos Theory exist.

It’s pretty obvious the carpet-bagging developers didn’t know (or care) when they slithered in, but what makes their insidious infiltration even worse is the willing help they’re receiving from Artlink regarding the act of dismantling our scene, brick by brick. And if I might, let me point out that while some developers are promoting the Roosevelt Art District, they’re not doing it to push our local culture, they’re doing it to pimp condos.

And in relation to the trolley service, can anyone explain to me how exactly ignoring a huge swath of the scene helps us as a whole? Hell, allegedly there are paid articipants who aren’t even on the map they helped pay for, and skipping over those galleries who aren’t members isn’t really the best approach to cementing your reputation as the go-to advocacy group. If you’re going to have the chutzpah to state:Artlink keeps the arts integral to the development of our city by connecting artists, business and community”, shouldn’t that metaphorical umbrella cover everyone?

I get it. This s**t requires a currency flow. A lot of it. But why should artists be the source of that revenue? With all due respect, how can Artlinks board-members sleep at night knowing that artists and galleries are being bypassed unless one pays the vig of soft extortion money? Considering the level of business experience sitting on the Artlink board, is it truly wrong of me to ask why there’s seemingly no plan in place to raise funds from entities whose interest lies in helping us rather than harming us?

Believe it or not, while I may be coming off as anti-development, I’m not one of those people screaming for things to remain the same, not by a long shot. If anything, I want to see a thoughtful restructuring of the scene, that being one where we get the respect and success we deserve, while simultaneously helping to establish Phoenix as the destination for Art, not it’s pit stop on the way to somewhere else.

To further this vision of a stable and more importantly, lucrative arts district, I’d like to propose the following: an advocacy group that truly promotes the arts and it’s creators in Phoenix, rather than one that cozies up to developers whose only interest in our scene revolves around either removing us or exploiting us for their marketing. A concern that unlike Artlink, ACTUALLY DOES SOMETHING TO PROMOTE US EFFECTIVELY.

Sorry for “shouting”, but my tank at this point is topped off, and I’d like to surmise I’m not the only one who feels that way. I may be however, the only one being so publicly vocal about as of late, and that’s just disheartening.

Even more so is the fact that I have no idea of how to go about launching such a venture, and when it comes to the minutiae of such, I’m equally useless. Kind of like Trump trying his hardest to exercise impulse-control, but without the “yuge” narcissism. Seriously, who would be in charge of bringing the refreshments? Would it be the responsibility of one person, or should it be a shared by the group kind of thing? Do we have to worry about them being gluten-free, or can we just tell that one annoying twit that he can bring his own snacks if he doesn’t like it?

And don’t even get me started on who fills out the name badge stickers- we’ll be here for days.

This is definitely one time I could use some guidance, if not a kick-ass strike team. Hell, at this point I’d even accept advice from Peter Bugg- not because I think he’s brilliant, or a visionary of advocacy, its more the comfort of knowing that whatever counsel he provided would be on loan from somebody way more insightful, and that’s what I need right now- a way to make my ethereal construct a concrete reality for positive change.

The question that nags is this: if I managed to throw this party, would anybody come? And more importantly- would they be willing do the work that’s necessary to make it a success? I’d like to say “yes”, but I’ve been around too long, and my naturally inherent cynicism isn’t so easily shed given my intimate knowledge of the dysfunctional morass that presents itself as our so-called art scene.

While the artistic community does have some serious firebrands, it also suffers from an excess of human speed bumps as well- people who claim that they want change and stability, yet won’t get off their ass to do anything about it when asked. No matter which side wins, they’ll be first in line to divvy up the spoils they didn’t earn, and that just pisses me off.

To roughly paraphrase Will Smith AKA: The Fresh Prince: “If you weren’t part of my struggle, you don’t get to share in my success.” and quite honestly, after 20+ years of lessening to my artistic peeps grouse, [myself included] that’s pretty much my new mantra. The scene is changing, our galleries are closing, and the artists, once again, are getting squeezed out and replaced with the blandness of gentrification.

Beige is the new black, it seems, and apathy the native tongue.

Now I’m not suggesting that all or most of the PAS are willing participants in the ongoing marginalizing if not outright destruction of our scene, but there are also quite the number who haven’t figured out why it’s so important for us as a community to draw a line in the sand, dig our heels in, and make these scumbag developers earn every inch they’re hoping to turn into a Chipotle.

Maybe, just maybe, if we make them bleed enough, the loss of everything that’s been built can be impeded. However- all of this is pure conjecture unless we get organized, get focused, and get to work. So I’m issuing a challenge: we need to promote who we are, what we do, and why we’re so vital to this city’s future. We need to let the world know we’re here, we’re talented, and we’re just as good, if not better, than the already established art centers.

But in order for this to happen, we need a true advocacy group that represents all of us, and one that doesn’t depend on taking dues from the very demographic that really doesn’t have the scratch. One without politics, one without soft corruption, and one that does what it says it does. In other words, one that isn’t based on the model of Artlink.

We’ve already paid our dues, to no reward. Now is the time for a new approach. As I noted earlier, I have no idea how to go about this, but I’m certain several of my readers do, and your input is needed ASAP. If you’re sick of an under-promoted, two night a month, marginalized and unprofitable scene, now is the time to come together and do something about it.

Let’s get organized. Let’s focus. Let’s freaking win. The 602 rocks. And it’s time to show it to everybody within distance and reach.

Now that I’ve unleashed the ferrets of destiny, let’s discuss another subject, that being the ongoing parceling of our city to developers from somewhere else, it seems that despite the deafening outcry from both the PAS and the Mayors office, the building that formerly housed the funkiness that was Circle Records is to be demolished to make room for… you guessed it, another obviously necessary high-end development.

To be fair, the building has sat empty for more than a few years, but even still, how hard would it be to incorporate some of it’s character into the current plan without the developer using the alleged (yet credible) threat of total destruction as a means to unethically acquire a GIPLET? Yep… nothing says “we want to be a vital part of your community” like well… going out and blithely holding hostage that which makes the community unique so you can pad your coffers.

Considering how many people now come downtown for the express purpose of photographing our public art alone, you’d think that somebody in Empire’s head office would’ve seen the PR value of incorporating the building into their project on some level, rather than risking the possibility of offending the surrounding community it has to eventually conduct business in.

Does anyone else get the feeling that if you tied strings around the necks of some of Empire’s executives, that you could theoretically use their heads as balloons? Sorry. That was rude of me. For all I know, they could be very nice people who are just trying to do their job in the way thebest know how. Granted, that would be as unethical and smugly arrogant as humanly possible,

but at least they have the semblance of a work ethic.

And despite their recent announcement to rent out ten units to Artists, I’d point out that this wasn’t an option that many were seemingly aware of when this project was first announced. I’d cynically suggest once again that PR cynicism won out over actual community concern, but what do I know, as I’m not one of those people who regards begrudging crumbs tossed our way as a victory at any level. It’s reminiscent of being invited to a wealthy kids birthday party where you only serve as a means for the host to prove he knows ordinary people- your presence is required, but essentially irrelevant in the end.

In fact, I think that once they finish building their little project over the corpse of what was once a visually striking piece of history, we should welcome them to the PAS utilizing our talents and creativity in the way we best know how. Since they’re threatening to destroy some irreplaceable character, all for the sake of yet another undeserved tax break, I say we return the favor in spades- after all, as Artists it’s our innate responsibility to use our abilities to creatively shape the world as we see fit, and I’d hate to think that we would ever be lax in our aesthetic duties.

Besides, is there a better way to say “welcome to our community” than with the gift of art? I say nay. Nay, I say. So here’s a metaphorical idea, not to be taken as an actual suggestion of seriousness, mind you- it’s presented more as a delightful “what if” type of scenario. We’re slated to lose an architectural icon, right? Wouldn’t it be karmic if we could symbolically honor that void by using those talents that these developers apparently have no respect for. Once they finish building that perfect little slice of overpriced utopia they’re so hell-bent on fabricating, I think it’d be hilarious if someone took on the task of decorating it… on a daily basis.

But in what form? Well, there’s yarn-bombing, wheat-paste, sticker art, etching, and the good old stand-by: spray paint. In a truly just world, that sucker would be so consistently graffed up that 1/3 of their annual maintenance budget would be them just trying to keep it clean. Not out of any form of maliciousness, mind you, it would simply be our way of sharing our unique gifts with a company that needs to learn to appreciate where they are and who really runs the show.

Sure, we may not be a completely cohesive voting block (yet) but we still can throw one hell of a spanner in the works if need be. Gah. So sick of these developer dim-wits who see a vibrant community and think: “Wow… this place is awesome! All it really needs to be perfect is a gluten-free Starbucks and a cruelty-free Baby Gap!”

Fortunately, as I write this, there are several forces at play trying desperately to countermand this particular asinine act of greed wrapped in the bacon of stupidity, and as the situation develops, I’ll try my best to keep you all up to date. But moving forward, here’s why this particular building shouldn’t have been yet another statistic in Phoenix’s seemingly never-ending drive to do half-ass at full throttle- it’s distinctive, and we’re quickly running out of the Phoenix-specific architecture that could define us nationwide.

What do I mean by this? My answer is relatively simple- unlike the majority of other large-scale urban centers, Phoenix really doesn’t possess iconic architecture in the same way that those cities do. Yes, we have some Frank Lloyd Wright buildings and some other noted architects well represented here if I were to be fair, but when it comes to naming a downtown specific icon amongst the ongoing maw of development, most people come up way short in the designation game.

At best, you’ve probably thought of the following: Luhr’s Tower, the Orpheum Theatre, and the Westward Ho, made famous by it’s brief inclusion in Hitchcock’s “Psycho“, and that’s a problem.

I’m not suggesting we erect a building shaped like a sombrero or a giant cactus, but it would be nice to see a development that could become iconic. Whether you believe it to be equitable or not, cities are generally represented by their architecture, and in that department, we look more like a badly constructed clone of Los Angeles, rather than the unique personality we are.

Think about Chicago, or New York concerning the same question, and you most likely came up with no less than ten, if not more, specifically distinctive totems to the architectural gods.

From a realistic pov, this does make some sort of perverted sense- we’re not land-locked in the same way as NYC is, allowing the far easier path of demolition versus the much more complicated process of rehabilitation, nor do we seemingly have the same amount of constraint placed upon what does (or doesn’t) constitute a preservation worthy structure. Granted, I’m most likely off in that particular assessment, but there does seem to be more of a “tear-down town” mentality at work in our particular burg, an observation noted by the Phoenix New Times in an identically titled article* way back in 2006, when it and I were still on speaking terms.
*[Link:  http://www.phoenixnewtimes.com/news/tear-down-town-6434066]

I’m also quoted in the article, being described as “a former New Yorker who’s made a name for himself photographing the vestiges of Phoenix’s fast-dying architectural history”– which is probably why I contributed several photographs to the print version, free of charge. Tell me I’m pretty, and I will follow you home. Not kidding.

So here I am a few mere years later, watching my city get parceled out like pizza slices at a kids birthday party, and all I can think is “wow… this Peter Piperesque abomination sucks- no flavor, no style, and bargain-basement pepperoni at best.”

Don’t get me wrong, a part of me is happy to see Phoenix get some long-overdue and much-needed personal attention, but the larger part is highly concerned that my city is sleeping with someone who feels she isn’t hip enough to show off to their out of town friends. And I say this as a former New Yorker who penned a love note (of sorts)  hand-delivered as a *collaboration with local Filmmaker Douglas Proce
*[ Link:  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DQkijwuuwj0 ]

In it, I wax rhapsodic about what this city is and isn’t, and deliver a dark deep secret, which you’ll have to go watch to discover. Sorry, but I’m painfully aware of the value of marketing and it’s reach, so you’ll just have to take some time and enjoy me in the cinematic flesh.

(Playing Angry Birds on my phone while I wait…)
Oh good, you’re back. As I was saying…

While I do view the touted renaissance occurring in this city as a sign of positivity in general, I do have a list of concerns- I was here back when the ballpark came in and decimated what was at that time, the gritty base of the PAS. It was supposed to revitalize the city, just like the debacle known as Patriots Park was guaranteed [and failed] to do, and while that ugly as sin architectural behemoth that passes for a shopping and entertainment complex off of Jefferson has brought some focus into the downtown area, it also serves as a prime example of what not to do with concrete and glass.

Seriously. I would bribe Thor himself to smash that grey lifeless box flatter than Kirsten Stewarts acting ability if I could simply remember his cell number. It only serves to prove yet again that when it comes to doing something completely half-ass, Phoenix drives the throttle through the symbolic floorboards and into the street below. I’ve always maintained that in order to build a community, it must have the following elements involved- grocery stores within walking distance, places to go, places to eat, places to take the family, places to chill, and places to be an adult when the time calls for it. Bars, cafes, bookstores and the like- the strip clubs can come later.

Sorry, Dad… I’m just watching out for the kids.

And traversing this metaphorical land shouldn’t require a car and a water truck due to shade structures being an almost alien concept- all the figurative bases should be covered and planned first before a shovel hits dirt, yet another glaringly obvious misstep in regards to the majority of these so-called “developments”. The creation of history is a one time experience. You’d better get it right coming out of the gate, a lesson Phoenix has not only yet to learn, it has yet to read.

Pardon my inherent skepticism, but how hard would it be to simply take what works from other metropolitan centers and jettison what doesn’t? It’s not like we’re buying wholesale from IKEA, we have multiple choices as to how our cultural and architectural identity is being assembled, no matter what these predatory developers order.

And therein lies the root of the problem- it’s not the masses dictating these changes to our city, it’s the faceless corporations putting people over profit, uniformity before uniqueness, and mirthlessly entombing our rapidly vanishing culture under cloned concrete- the process helped, I assume cynically, by some strategically placed* (and pre-greased) local politicos willing to look the other way so they can line their pockets as they fatten their re-election war chests.
*[Allegedly, of course.]

Some clarity as to where I’m going with this is probably in order, so here it is: if we’re going to present our city as an up and coming contender, shouldn’t we offer it up as something that’s truly original, not just another variance on a theme that already exists? In regards to the newest buildings I’ve seen springing up like errant weeds, the overall aesthetic that strikes is of a Walgreens having had sex with a scrap yard, and then abandoning the resulting child at a WalMart.

Take a long hard look around- there is nothing of us as a community in these structures, and the majority of the new development has as much to do with the nature of Phoenix as Twilight has to do with fine cinema. Metal-clad. No effective shade structures. Boxy. Ugly. Over-priced. And in the middle of a huge service desert. Essentially, a pastiche of styles laid haphazardly, is what we’ve been sold, and this city has bought it, hook, line and sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach.

And don’t even get me started on how little free parking exists anymore in the area in and outside of downtown. In fact, the parking garage that backs up to the coffee-shop where I’m currently writing this from, has a strictly enforced two hour time limit, and that is a royal pain in the ass, no matter what angle you look at it from.

What a sales pitch for our city:

Come to beautiful, redeveloped downtown Phoenix- enjoy our newest attractions (bars and a few restaurants, mostly) and then go home after dinner, because the galleries aren’t open save for two nights a month, along with the fact that there’s nothing to really check out if you’re not into theatre, and oh yes, unlike other established metropolitan areas, we don’t possess a walk-able district full of shopping, cafes, or other pursuits that constitute a true city center- you know, the kind that keeps people downtown and spending their money?

 In closing, good luck finding parking that doesn’t treat your wallet like a shower scene from a 70’s blaxploitation prison movie, and try to have a good time.”

Yessir. Cannot possibly see any other outcome for this concept than it working out fabulously, can you? Don’t get me wrong, I love the fact we’re coming up on the map, but it has to be done with the key element of common sense and community incorporated into the development, lest we repeat the numerous mistakes of the past. What is truly needed in the arts district is a zone where there exists combined living and work spaces that the artists can actually afford, along with the implementation of an actual community versus a pre-manufactured one.

In the long run, it’s mediocrity that’ll bring down this era of rebirth, as everyone seems to be struggling to find a balance between the commercial and the creative, and if that isn’t troubling, it should be. One of the foremost hooks that a lot of these developers use in their advertising is the proximity to the PAS, and that in itself, is a tad bit disingenuous, if one looks at it with a cynical eye.

As rents rise, it forces out the creative community by way of financial gentrification, which in turn, eliminates the reason most people moved there in the first place. You cant have an arts district if the artists cant afford to live/work there, now can you? Of course not. But the majority of what’s being built doesn’t see the inherent value in incorporating art as a matter of first recourse.

To be honest, there are a few projects that have, but even then, it’s still skewed towards the wrong side of things, as proven by this article from my old pals over at the *Phoenix New Times.
*[Link: http://www.phoenixnewtimes.com/arts/such-styles-to-paint-murals-at-new-proxy-333-development-in-downtown-phoenix-8234987 ]

The article is actually about two friends of mine who have been commissioned to do interior murals for some upcoming downtown developments, (yay, local art!) but the truly interesting part for me is the comments of one Bryan Fasulo, a regional property manager for the Pinnacle Living project, who within the article, states:

“This is a product type never built in Phoenix before. We imported it from Seattle.”

What they’ve also apparently imported is overpriced rent, as the article goes on to subsequently say the following:

“It’s a reference to the development’s 10 two-story work/live units with frontage windows, designed for artists or others who want a combined studio or office and living space. These 700 square-foot live/work loft units have one bedroom and one bathroom, and run $1,750 per month. But Proxy 333 also includes more traditional units – including studios, and several types of one- and two-bedroom spaces.

The most basic studio, with a single bathroom, has 422 square feet and runs $1,025 per month. The largest unit, a two-bedroom and two-bathroom space measuring 878 square feet, runs $2,100 per month.”

Gee, thanks Seattle! If there’s one thing Phoenix artists have been lacking, its rent that’s an average of three times what they’ve been used to paying for studio space! But hey, at least they’ll be able to brag about the Seattle vibe that permeates their overpriced box, right?

Now, I know more than a few of you reading this think I’m being a cynical Charlotte for the sake of just having something to complain about, and typically, you might be able to make an impassioned argument for that pov, so as a counterbalance, I offer this comment of super positivity from Dan Tilton, the founder of [what else?] Tilton Development:

 “We’re excited about being located in a more historic area and arts district. It’s important to us that we incorporate the Roosevelt art district feel.”

On the surface, that sounds well… almost like a good thing, doesn’t it? I mean, they’re going to incorporate local art, promote the arts district, and give local artists a high-end showcase of sorts, which in a larger sense. is awesome- if one is only looking at the surface, that is. For one thing, how is this Seattle import “located” in the Arts District exactly? While it’s not a few miles away from the district, it’s hardly a stones throw either, and taking into consideration that said project is being built on a previously vacant dirt lot, the term “historic” seems a tad bit of a stretch, even by the atypical low standards of marketing.

Take particular note of the not so subtle reference to our burgeoning creative center, that being where Tilton glibly praises ” the Roosevelt art district feel“, versus the Roosevelt Art Community itself, which in my humble opinion, sounds more like a manipulative PR sound-bite, rather than a declaration of support for the community that made the area truly commercially viable in the first place. PHOENIX Magazine featured an excellent *piece in regards to some of these issues back in March of 2016, (wherein I’m actually quoted playing devils advocate) regarding the balance between culture and the coin, but the truth of the matter is that I’m a great deal more cynical than the article suggests.
*[Link: http://www.phoenixmag.com/hot-topics/row-on-the-row.html ]

Shocking, that.

In my simple opinion, I’m seeing income before individuals, cynicism before cultivation, and arrogant design before architectural logic. Speaking frankly, this city’s architecture should reflect our disinclined involvement as one of Hell’s time-share locations, a place where four months out of the year, you can bake a Beef Wellington within the confines of your car- something these Seattle imports keep ignoring.

Need proof? The installation of giant metal heat radiating golf tees of Death at Third and Roosevelt should convince you. That is, providing you don’t burst into flame first. And to call attention to a more pertinent issue, who precisely is the demographic they’re marketing to? It sure as hell isn’t your typical Phoenix-based artist. For the amount of money they’re charging for rent, you could easily go buy a house.With a garage. And a yard. Possibly a dog. One named His Royal Fluffyness Commander Wagtail, by way of example.

Not to mention neighbors who while nice overall, haven’t really gone out of their way to invite you back to the annual block party BBQ since that unfortunate “drunken accident” with the pickle relish some time ago. The point I’m trying to make is this- from a tenants POV, you’re not really getting much. Sure, you’ll be in direct proximity to the Phoenix Art Museum [jealous!!], but the service desert will be an issue for some time, and due to the disturbingly rapid gentrification of the arts district, I have grave doubts that it’ll remain a salient marketing point for the next five years.

Hell, Roosevelt Row (minus 5th street) is so insipidly bland now, I’m wondering how long it will be before it buys a beige suit and goes to work as an insurance adjuster.
[Please send your hate email to the usual address, thank you.]

To be perfectly clear- I AM NOT ANTI-DEVELOPMENT. I am however, very much pro-community, and there seems to be a dearth of logic in that department where Phoenix’s rebirth is concerned. I say again, would it be truly that hard to find an architect who could design a truly unique urban metropolis for us that doesn’t utilize the aesthetic of a Los Angeles cookie cutter?

Think of the possibilities of an architectural renaissance that was ideologically dedicated to our city and it’s uniqueness. Practical shade structures versus modernist twattle that serves no master other than the decorative, the incorporation of construction materials that release their heat during the day, so that at night, we can actually go outside, versus having to hide from the Gehry-inspired fryscrapers every developer seems keen on erecting in our fair city.

And along those lines, oh great and wholly incompetent city-planning sages who thought the now moved giant flower pots / unintended trash cans along Roosevelt were a good idea- why didn’t you erect some goddamn shade-structures down that griddle strip with perhaps some indigenous low water plants instead?

Let me guess… not  “Seattle” enough, right?

F**k everywhere else that you’re trying to turn Phoenix into, and while I’m at it- f**k your stance that this city needs a Los Angeles facelift. If ever I feel the need to engage in pretentiousness with plasticene people, I’ve already got Scottsdale as a go-to. See, this is the stuff that keeps me up at night muttering to myself, which in turn, makes my neighbors think that perhaps making eye contact with me is not the brightest of ideas.`

And when it comes to said concepts of inspiration, maybe someone can explain to me why it is that for a city which claims to love both the Arts and it’s creators, there’s seemingly no plan in place to help preserve that which allows this conjoined duo to thrive in place. At the risk of sounding like a petulant child calling dibs, shouldn’t the fact that we were here first have some sort of significance?

I’d say “yes”, but let’s face it- the diminutive possibility that in regards to my overview, I may be a tad biased, is almost an established certainty. The actual reality is more likely that the die has been cast, the foundations are set, and that the virtuous will either crumble into dust or be crudely malformed into monuments highlighting the ugliness of rampant hubris and inadequate design.

The somewhat overrated author Ayn Rand coined a term for such actions by people of limited creativity, that being “second-handers” whose description from the novel “The Fountainhead” states: “That, precisely, is the deadliness of second-handers. They have no concern for facts, ideas, work. They’re concerned only with people. They don’t ask: ‘Is this true?’ They ask: ‘Is this what others think is true?’ Not to judge, but to repeat. Not to do, but to give the impression of doing. Not creation, but show. Not ability, but friendship. Not merit, but pull.

What would happen to the world without those who do, think, work, produce? Those are the egotists. You don’t think through another’s brain and you don’t work through another’s hands.

When you suspend your faculty of independent judgment, you suspend consciousness. To stop consciousness is to stop life.”

So given the fact we’re battling the seemingly unstoppable juggernaut of misdirected progress, does that mean we should sit back and accept what may become our inevitable fate? The rejoin to this question can be answered in one of two ways, in the form of either a long or short retort.

Short: No. Long: Oh, Hell no. The only truly noble causes worth fighting for are the lost ones, as the rest are generally overstocked with help, and the perception of being lost is solely dependent on where one is standing at that particular moment- no more, no less. You don’t burn down your house if the kitchen is dirty, so why should we stop fighting to preserve what we both built and believe in?

But as I’ve noted throughout the many years and with my many words- I’m a cynic. I put great stock in Humanity, not so much (if at all) in the individual people who comprise it as a whole.

Will the Creatives in this town finally stop squabbling over crumbs and purposeful distractions to come together and finally start shaping their destiny, or will they continue to let ineffectual entities like Artlink keep them underappreciated and marginalized, their efforts up to be exploited by the lowest bidder? Will the city of Phoenix ever establish a clearly defined Arts District that’s actually affordable for both the Arts and it’s Creators, devoid of the gentrification insipidness, or will they just keep parceling it out like so many gift bags at a church bazaar?

This gives rise to my final thought- will we ever get an architect that can create something that stands as a beacon to our city and it’s uniqueness, or will we just settle for yet another ill-fitting sweater because we’re the middle child when it comes to city planning? “Our greatest weakness lies in giving up.” once said Thomas Edison- “The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.” Does Phoenix have the ability to take a cue from the etymology of it’s name, or will it just be still and burn?

More importantly, will it’s citizens?

“Cities have the capability of providing something for everybody, only because, and only when, they are created by everybody.”- Jane Jacobs, The Death of Great American Cities

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 
 

Gentrification prefers Blands Pt.2 (The Weakest Link)

“Any halfway clever devil would decorate the highway to Hell as beautiful as possible.” – Criss Jani, Healology

Hello Blogiteers!

It has been a dizzying blur of activity at the Lair of Snarkitude lately. I cleaned out the shark pool, polished up the ol’ Giant Laser Death Ray to a mirror finish, sold some older art pieces, donated some frames to a few fellow artists, and acquainted myself with the joy of programming my newhi-tech TV, but only after setting aside the proper amount of mourning time for it’s predecessor, which finally gave up the cathode ray a week prior.

In retrospect, it’s peculiar habit of freezing whenever religiconist Joel Osteen came on should have been regarded as some sort of warning sign, but as they say- hindsight is always 20/20. A moment of respectful silence please, for a television that came in with Clerks, The Animated Series, and went solidly out with Marvel’s Agents of Shield.

By the way, if you’re going to get rid of a sixteen-year old, formerly state of the art beast as such, take a moment to reflect upon the last and only time you had to move it. Except you’re taking it off the tv stand and going down three flights of stairs this time, and you no longer have good abs, the ability to balance, or a working back, but I digress.

So after bribing a good friend with a free dinner to assist me in it’s removal, and perhaps failing to mention that said set was the reason why when things fall to the floor, I’ve been leaving them there, it was back to knocking out the blessays I’ve become notorious for, but unbeknownst to me, there were dramatic events right around the corner that would require my attention… and possibly the help of some 80’s era mercenaries.

Seriously. You can pick up the services of Steven Seagal and Dolph Lundgren for almost next to nothing, if you just happen to be at the right Home Depot, at just the right time.

It all started with a simple email:
—————————————————————————
From: Sophie Gabrielle,
Lome Togo
West Africa

Dearest

I am writing this mail to you with tears and sorrow from my heart with due respect trust and humanity I appeal to exercise a little patience and read this mail I send to you.

After going through your profile I become interested in disclosing everything about myself to you I am Sophie Gabrielle the only daughter of late Mr and Mrs Evans Joseph Gabrielle.

Please dearest, let us reason together and have trust in God I am seeking your assistance to help me transfer my inheritance money the sum of ($6.500,000.00) (six million Five Hundred Thousand United sate dollars)  United State American dollars Into your account please it is more than urgent because of my life is in danger. I am willing to compensate you for your effort after the successful transfer of my inheritance money into your account overseas and I will tell you more about myself when i receive your mail. responds me as Quickly as possible.privatemail:sophiegabrielle71@yahoo.com

Thanks.
Yours in God love
Ms. Sophie Gabrielle
————————————————————————————-
Wow. A grammar-challenged damsel in distress, a fortune to be had, and the opportunity for an action sequence montage, all while sporting the camouflage pants and black mesh t-shirt that I purchased at Walmart- how could any rational human being refuse? So I boarded my vintage B-29, headed straight to Lome Togo, a city once known as “the Paris of Africa”, fully determined to save the girl, reap my fortune, and dispatch the regional warlord that was threatening the peace with a witty quip and my crack team of ninja ferrets.

You know. Like you do?

Unfortunately, I did forget a few things… for instance, it’s really hard to declare thirty crates of grenades, rocket launchers, and assorted machine guns as “sport-fishing supplies” at Customs, and forget about trying to pass off the previously aforementioned ferrets as actors in a traveling road show production of “Glee”- Lome Togo as it turns out, has both a strong dislike for musical theater and overly furry actors.

Damn you, cruel fate. Damn you to New Jersey.

So, after an awkward side trip to a room outfitted with swarthy men wearing rubber gloves, I killed the time waiting to return home pounding out yet another random screed regarding the obvious problems currently affecting the ol’ PAS, that being the rapidly burgeoning over-development at a pace that would make the Flash look like he’s wading through molasses, while wearing Frankenstein boots.

Sure, there’s public art springing up faster than one can document, as well as a creatively inspired repurposed shipping container development on Grand Avenue, but the rent is as high as a house payment, but thank Odin it’s saving grace is that it’s exceedingly… um… trendy. And all this comes on the heels of even more over-priced condos being built, versus the much more desperately needed affordable live/work spaces for the artists who’ve made the area economically viable.

Speaking of which, it seems that a new ripple has been recently introduced into the waters of the PAS, and it’s kind of disturbing, even if you try to look at it with an unprejudiced eye. Turns out that this year’s Artlink Juried Exhibition had a new dance partner, and its not someone you’d expect to have the best interest of our community at heart.

Is it an arts-based political concern? Nope. Surely, it must be an organization dedicated to directly promoting the Arts and the creators of such, right? Wrong again. Well then- certainly an independent yet focused, group of art-gypsies who live their lives defined only by their artistic aesthetic practiced from the safety of a Volkswagen micro-camper have stepped up to the plate?

Sigh… it’s like you’ve never played this game before. Ok, ok…. I’ll let you all off the hook.

Artlink, our so called local arts advocacy organization, has willingly gotten in bed with a corporation who at best, somewhat resembles a sheep-skin clad wolf who’s allegorically carrying 27 different kinds of venereal gentrification disease- if I had Spidey-sense, I’m pretty sure it would be tingling like a mother*ucker by now, since six of those previously existed only in a Starbucks lavatory.

This new champion of the Arts in Downtown Phoenix comes to us via *Colorado, in the form of a development group which travels these fruited lands under the moniker of Baron Properties.
*[The capitol of which btw, is the birthplace of the cheeseburger. Neat, huh?]

I’m sorry… who exactly, again?

Well, they’re the company that razed the former 307 lounge (AKA:Greenhaus in it’s last incarnation) that contained irreplaceable murals by Ted De Grazia to make way for iLuminate, an 111 unit apartment complex, whose prices will reportedly start at $1000 for an 800 sq. foot apartment. This ugly as sin monstrosity sits right next door to The MonOrchid, and as detailed by MonOrchid’s owner Wayne Rainey, that inherent unattractiveness is allegedly more than skin deep:

“I”ve done everything in my power to be an understanding neighbor but Baron just does not care about this community or even their own future residents. They destroyed access to MonOrchid and plan on having the residents bring in the moving trucks in the alley blocking our access.

On top of that, they’ve completely destroyed our parking lot and although they are re-pouring concrete for the entire alley, they won’t pour the four parking places they destroyed. It’s been a nightmare being next to this and it looks like it’s not going to get any better. I guess the biggest disappointment is the absolute disregard for anything not in their plan. They’ve depleted any good will they would have had. They’ve actually created issues that will go on for years because of cheapskate planning.

They moved power lines across the alley – my building rather than underground them- creating a future expense for me when I want rooftop amenities. Their construction team has consistently parked in our lot and often a trailer blocks half the lot at once.”

And the response from our fair city to these complaints? Crickets… because hey- in order to create a cultural void, you gotta break a few communities, long-term damage be damned. I’ve said it before, and I’ll bet dollars to donuts I’ll be saying it again, this city is needier than a gaggle of nerds trying to score Stan Lee appearance tickets at Comi-con. If allowing yourself to be walked on till you were flatter than a sheet of paper was a skill-set, Phoenix could literally glide under a cockroach doing the limbo with room enough to spare.

And speaking of metaphorical pests, this truly infuriating little tidbit was posted on Baron’s Illuminate Projects FaceBook Page way back on July 27th: “This captivating mural created by artist Ettore “Ted” DeGrazia was one of two pieces featured at Green Haus Gallery in Downtown Phoenix. Before the Green Haus, this building was home to the historical 307 Lounge, known for being a safe haven for Phoenix’s LGBT community. Legend has it, DeGrazia began painting this 47-foot mural 65 years ago to pay off a bar tab at the lounge!

 Though, it wasn’t possible for Baron Properties to preserve this incredible work of art and history, we were able to salvage some of the pieces which have been fabricated into the framework of iLuminate. Along with keeping the memory of DeGrazia’s artwork alive through reconstruction, iLuminate will also feature a plaque dedicated to the Phoenix LGBT community, citing the symbolism of the 307 Lounge and what that establishment has meant to this group of people.

We understand the importance of preserving the integrity of the history and art that embodies Roosevelt Row. Our hope is not to transform this notorious neighborhood, but to enhance and become a part of it.

Thank you, Downtown Phoenix, for welcoming us and allowing us to be apart of your culture!”

A comment or two regarding this oozing with hypocrisy joke of a public statement? I’d like to call attention to the fact that any negative comments left on their FaceBook page were allegedly being removed by Baron as fast as they were posted, so not only could they purportedly be regarded as unethical, one could surmise by those rumored actions that they’re also cravens too.

These carpetbaggers come in, flatten the place, erect metal monstrosities, incubate the cancer of gentrification which in turn, drives the artists out, all while completely making a mockery of their own pledge “not to transform this notorious neighborhood, but to enhance and become a part of it” and then as a closer, smugly note that this reformed landscape was somehow tarnished until they graced us with their presence? While it’s true that none of their efforts to hasten the demise of both the building and the murals contained within were illegal in any sense of the word, their conceited reference to this mostly-transformed-by-artists neighborhood as “notorious” is well… just all shades of faux-rusted cojones.

There is, if one is to believe the obvious PR slant, an upside- according to *Scott Fisher, the principal for the project, the new development will have “space” for local art and “historic” pictures of Roosevelt Row, as well as displaying the brand new and already installed Lauren Lee mural [which is incredible] to replace the previous one that was destroyed in tandem when the building was demolished.

Yep… nothing says “we’re part of a community” like an inset plaque and some historically random sepia-toned photographs depicting what was once a uniquely vital area before it was demolished, bulldozed flat, and had insipid cookie cutter aesthetics erected over it’s corpse.
*[Link: http://www.azcentral.com/story/news/local/phoenix/2015/04/17/downtown-phoenix-roosevelt-row-arts-district/25886609/]

Granted, I’m being cynical as usual, but if I may, I’d like to call attention to a duo of critical, yet oddly unnoticed points. First: what is “space” as defined by Mr. Fisher? Is it the size of a standard room? A hallway where you can hang three of four pieces? A bathroom behind the maintenance corridor? Specifics trump vagaries, and I’m all about the details. Second; where the new exterior mural is concerned, Baron didn’t seem too interested in providing a wall until the public outcry demanded it, so forgive me if I’m taking their 5k “Baron Prize” at this years Artink Juried Exhibition as nothing more than a disingenuous PR stunt to curry favor among the creative class it’s so far successfully exploiting.

As a long time local business owner and Creative, Wayne Rainey wasn’t content with taking his ongoing problems with Baron sitting down- in fact, he took them on headfirst via this years Exhibition, submitting a work depicting in one vivid image the impact of Baron’s influence.

As described by Lynn Trimble of the Phoenix New Times in her *review of the Exhibition: ” Titled Illumination, it’s a nighttime capture of construction debris from the properties destroyed in March 2015 to make way for iLuminate, which is one of two Baron Properties multi-level housing developments currently under construction at the intersection of Roosevelt and Third streets, iLuminate sits adjacent to monOrchid, Rainey’s arts and events space.

Rainey’s intention with the piece is clear. He’s voiced strong criticism of Baron Properties through social media, and expressed his concern that artists who partner with Baron Properties or other developers who demolish beloved buildings are taking part in the demise of their own arts community.

Within hours of Artlink wrapping up its single-day exhibition, Rainey posted comments on his Facebook page that included the following, and he’s posted additional comments since: “Well that was an interesting night. It had all the components of a good drama with no casualties except perhaps an arts district. If only there were an organization present, that promoted the arts and artists, that could have stood erect and told Baron Properties that we are not the cheap sluts you take us for and what you’re trying to buy is not for sale.”

After Baron Properties demolished a building bearing Lauren Lee’s Three Birds mural to make way for iLuminate, it commissioned Lee to create mural-inspired panels collectively called Three Birds in Flight, which they’ve already mounted on iLuminate’s west-facing façade.

Rainey also called out Artlink in his post on exhibition night, writing, “ArtLink is dead. It died the minute it wed the Dev that tore into our heart.” For Rainey, art took the form of activism. And activism took the form of art. 

His Illuminated is a clarion call from an arts district in distress. And its presence in this show shifts the entire exhibition from showcase of Arizona talent to conversation-starter about the relationship of art and commercial interests.”
*[Link: http://www.phoenixnewtimes.com/arts/wayne-rainey-demolition-photo-stands-out-at-2016-juried-artlink-exhibition-at-heard-museum-8662285]

I literally couldn’t have said it better myself. In fact, I didn’t- so nice work, Lynn. Kudos.

However, the drama swirling around Artlink’s decision to ally itself with a developer who’s best interests do not even remotely mirror our own was just starting to pick up speed, aided equally by Rainey’s decision to resign from the organization directly after the event, and Artlink’s amazingly tone-deaf *response to his departure and Lynn Trimble’s PNT article.
*[Link: https://artlinkphoenix.com/a-statement-on-the-juried-exhibition/]

As it reads, Artlink structures the non-named Rainey’s discontent as nothing more than the sour grapes of an artist whose work wasn’t selected for award or purchase, a slant that in the eyes of many of my fellow colleagues who talked with me at this years Chaos Theory, was not to be found contained in the article itself, or even within Rainey’s comments online- an outlook that according to those whom find Rainey to be a divisive figure in the PAS, is just flat wrong.

And they’ll inform you of this POV… repeatedly. Half of the time, you don’t even have to ask, truth be told. Regardless of other peoples experiences, I’ve never had any sort of issue with my fellow name-sake, but that’s not really the point I’m trying to make here. If I ate a Ding-Dong for every clash between fact and the concept of ego in regards to the PAS, I’d be in a diabetic sugar coma so deep that I’d need dwarves and a sassy singing princess to wake me up.

And when one considers that the majority of Disney heroines are typically drawn as being between the ages of 13 to 17, it’s going to be quite a long time before somebody shows up who’s truly age-appropriate to rescue me without my having to be registered on a special list afterwards.

Getting back on track, even from an outside scrutiny, Artlink’s statement still comes off as a painfully evident attempt at diverting the focus as to why they and Baron were metaphorically oiling the spawn-hammer in the first place. Put it this way- I’ll stand with those I don’t like, and make limited deals with the Devil, but only whereas the end rewards are concerned- and Baron’s goals are nowhere near in line with where the PAS needs to be as an arts presence ten years from now.

To further clarify my POV, I’m also not suggesting for a second that our artists should be passing up any of the crumbs that Baron is condescendingly tossing our way either- as a mercenary capitalist, it would be duplicitous of me to do so, as I’m all about getting my bills paid in the end. You can’t create if you’re living in what used to be a refrigerator box kids, and careers are fueled by money, whether you like it or not.

 What I would add as a snarky disclaimer of sorts is to state that eventually, the offal will stop falling off the table, so stock up while you can, kids- winter is coming, and it’s way closer than you think.

 This particular state of being has been partially aided by the curveball Baron threw whilst I was writing this, the latest lyrically salient ode to the clusterf**k that the PAS has become. In yet another obvious PR stunt designed to soothe it’s detractors, Baron has decided to launch the following community outreach, located at: http://www.azcentral.com/story/news/local/phoenix/2016/10/14/phoenix-roosevelt-row-residents-get-rebates-buying-local-art/92059190/]

For those of you who hate reading, I’ll give you some edited context:

“Baron Properties and the non-profit Artlink announced Friday a voucher program that will allow residents to purchase art pieces and receive a discount on their rent in return. The organizations said the initiative aims to connect new downtown Phoenix dwellers to the surrounding arts community, and is unprecedented as far as they know.

The reimbursements will start at $250 but could be more based on availability, said Liz Schloss, president of operations for Baron Properties.

Incoming residents who use the art vouchers can find a list of participating artists, galleries and art spaces at artlinkphoenix.com. Options include Roosevelt Row spaces like Eye Lounge and Phoenix Center for the Arts. Tenants will have 60 days from move in to redeem the voucher with a receipt of their purchases, according to the press release. In addition to the vouchers, Baron Properties also sponsored its first “Baron Grand Prize” for a painting that will be installed in iLuminate. Artlink facilitated the competition.

Both Linear and iLuminate feature pieces from local artists, Schloss said. “We did not purchase anything from a store,” she said.”” 

On the surface, this all sounds f**king great- the artists get to make a few bucks, boost their career development, and hopefully acquire solid long-term patrons, all while the new incoming residents are exposed to the amazing talent and vitality that constitutes the PAS- now let’s all hold hands and sing Kumbaya in praise of our new Artopia, while slamming down a Coke in the old-school bottle.

And as soon as we’re done with our syrupy melodics, I’m going to take that bottle, smash it up against the nearest faux-rusted wall I can find, and use it’s jagged edges to shred this idealistically saccharine vision to dripping atoms of irrelevance. Now, I do know what you’re thinking, and to a point, you’d be correct. It’s kind of dickish to look a gift-whore in the mouth, even if their intentions are (in my pov) obviously and sincerely suspect.

But in my limited defense, I’d also opine that the people who are celebrating this on-the-surface-only “gift” are failing miserably to see the endgame, and are willfully ignorant of what the true cost will be in the end, and that would be the end of our scene itself. Why would I say this? It stems from how the deal is structured, and how fallout from those carefully crafted words will hurt us as a whole.

From: https://artlinkphoenix.com/voucher-program-gives-new-downtown-phoenix-residents-a-rent-discount-for-buying-art/

“This program reflects Baron’s and Artlink’s mutual vision of connecting artists, businesses and the public.New Baron residents will visit the Articipant Directory on artlinkphx.org to find Visual Artists, Galleries, and Art Spaces where they can purchase artwork. 

Following the purchase from these directory categories, Baron Properties will provide residents with a rent reimbursement. This leasing incentive is available to all new residents of iLuminate and Linear, with an expiration period of sixty days from the date of move in. Art & Home will be accessible for a limited time and the value of these art vouchers may vary based on availability.”

I’m assuming most of you see the first concern immediately- if you’re not affiliated with Artlink via paid dues or a member gallery, then you as an artist can go pound sand. The second being that this “mutual vision of connecting artists, businesses and the public ” comes with a vaguely and as yet undetermined time limit and availability.

Can anyone at Artlink please explain why they think this will help us in the long run past a few immediate sales, and some exceedingly limited exposure? When one takes into account the marketing demographic, the overpriced range of these hipster quarters, and the (presumably short) time-frame of the “rebate” that Baron is offering, can anyone accurately predict a boost past the razor-thin margin we already possess?

Here’s some personal insight- for the last 23 years, my day gig has been custom framing, a trade that varies wildly depending on how the economy goes. If things are good, people buy new art to replace what no longer fits their life, and if things are bad, they tend to freshen up what they already own, as a means to add a metaphorical breath of air. I once read an industry study that claimed the average person changes their decor every 10-12 years, depending on a slew of various factors- age, financial status, and most importantly- the size of their residence.

Older (IE: retired) people tend to buy less art, as they are usually engaging in a period of downsizing and simplifying, younger people lean (as you’d expect) towards buying more, as they start out on their life-journey. Pretty much what you’d anticipate seeing overall in regards to such a study.

As someone who’s had an intimate perspective on both sides of the industry fence for the last two decades, I’d  ascribe to this theory, but propose a counter-question: what happens if you’re just making a lateral move? Unless you’re starting from scratch (highly unlikely given the rent) the odds are pretty solid that you’re already fully stocked up with all the artsy accoutrements, and at best, the thought of buying art isn’t going to be ranking high on your “to-do” list.

If one were to affix an addendum to my query, how wide could the spectrum of potential patrons possibly be? Who exactly, is Baron and Artlink marketing to?

College students don’t have the cash, there’s nothing to attract families, older professionals are going to leave after having to deal with the crowds, inconvenience, and inherent aggravation of First Fridays, and when given Artlink’s restrictions in regards to participating artists and galleries, along with the vague time-frame pertaining to the rebates end, I’m fairly secure in my conviction that this latest attempt by Artlink to appear proactive can be summed up thusly as: “but a walking shadow, a poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage and then is heard no more: it is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

Not to mention as the virus of gentrification spreads, driving out both artists and galleries, the marketing of a rapidly disappearing art scene will require a level of ad agency creativity not seen since Frito-Lay introduced it’s “Cheeto Lip Balm” in 2005.

Seriously. It was a real product… Google it if you don’t believe me. Earlier, I noted Artlink and Baron Development’s prior collaboration, the Annual Juried Exhibition, which featured not only a 5K grand prize, but the opportunity to have ones work purchased by Baron for it’s permanent collection, which in my POV, is akin to not only getting in bed with the Devil, but taking some time out in between sessions to decorate his boudoir as well. This year’s “aren’t we amazing” back-slapping farce was staged at the Heard Museum, a venue that according to it’s website (http://heard.org/) is:

Dedicated to the sensitive and accurate portrayal of Native arts and cultures, the Heard is an institution that successfully combines the stories of American Indian people from a personal perspective with the beauty of art.”

And while the Heard’s staff performs their chartered duty within this description flawlessly, it has as much to do with the PAS as Donald Trump has to do with the modern feminist movement. Speaking as such an outsider, the Phoenix Art Museum would be a more logical choice in regards to hosting Artlink’s showcase, but that’s just my opinion. Sure, common sense agrees with me 100%, but let’s face it- he’s been getting the stuffing pounded out of him during this election cycle, so that just might be the concussions talking.

Or the Kit-Kats. He’s got some serious chocolate addiction issues.

By way of disclaimer, I boycotted this year’s event out of principle, as I felt it would be exceedingly hypocritical to associate with people whom I’ve spent a good part of my energy opposing as of late, even if it’s only to socialize on the most superficial level, the word “superficial” being the truly relevant and I might add, pertinent description here. Various sources have alleged that the three hour extravaganza showcased nothing truly save the multiple ways that certain not-to-be-named members of Artlink’s board could lick the boots of Baron Development.

However, as I’ve already stated, I wasn’t there to directly observe, and I have heard numerous renditions of the evenings events, so take these rumors as you would any that fell into your lap. If I really wanted to split hairs , I could also call attention to the Chinese whispers that the show had to be broken down immediately after it ended, which from an artists’ POV, is not only a huge pain in the ass, but in principle (and I might add, class) more akin to an event held at a VFW hall.

Possibly even more troubling to this collaborative effort, was the angle that Lynn Trimble noted in her PNT article, that being: “Instead of being inspired to create cutting-edge works, it seems that most of the selected artists played it safe, which isn’t necessarily surprising. If you’re submitting a work of art to a panel, it’s because you want it to be chosen. Of course, there’s no shame in artists wanting to be paid for their work. But it’s hard to decipher how financial opportunity might — or might not — dampen creative impulses.”

Now since I didn’t attend the show, I’m not going to say anything decisive about the art itself, nor will I criticize any of the artists who were vying for what was a pretty good chunk of money at the time, as it would be exceedingly hypocritical of me to do so- I’ve taken plenty of money from demagogues in order to pay my rent, and I’ve never felt sorry for doing it. I’ve always believed that if it ever turned out to be a massive amount of cash, I’d have enough left over to buy self-esteem therapy, and a whole new slew of better-looking friends.

Now, while I’ll give the Artists a hall-pass of sorts regarding their contributive efforts to the Juried Exhibition, simply dismissing the actions of Artlink to the same as an uncomplicated example of “the end justifies the means” feels particularly uneasy, especially where the metaphorical greased weasel tango with Baron is to be noted. Simply put, Baron is a concern whose possibly corrosive influence could theoretically lead to the destruction of the vitally collaborative scene that Artlink believes it speaks for as a whole.

But the nagging question remains: how do you benefit an Art scene by allying with the architects of it’s potential destruction? With each new development, rents rise, more speculators pour in, even more sell their lots to the vultures, and in the end, the artists will leave, replaced by corporate insipidness. Is it wrong to ask the follow-up question that if one can’t afford to live in an area, how will they afford to create work there too? This budding situation alone gave rise to the valid query I’ve been asked a lot in the last few weeks, that being: what does Artlink DO, exactly?

It may come as a shock, but I’ve never written anything previously about Artlink, which surprises most people, given my reputation for taking on what I perceive to be roadblocks to progress for the PAS, but to be fair, I’ve never considered them anything but yet another group of overly passionate 602 cheerleaders- not that there’s anything wrong with that. Other than attending a few meetings out of curiosity, or knowing a few people on the board over the years, my interaction with them as an entity has been somewhat intermittent at best, and until now, they’ve basically remained under my radar.

But if I were to speak frankly, they’ve never struck me as an organization that’s got it’s act entirely together- a pessimistic judgment which varies depending on who’s serving on the board at that particular moment, and one that’s kept me from getting more involved, to be brutally honest. And to roughly paraphrase Groucho Marx, I generally wouldn’t trust any group that might begrudgingly have me as a member, given my proclivity for rubbing people the wrong way with minimal effort.

The organization since it’s inception has always been an all-volunteer affair, and the devotion for the cause that being a board-member requires is stunning, as one former President recently confided to me: “it’s essentially another job, 45- 60 hours a week as a rule, and it gets to be exhausting after a while“.  Such involvement requires both ardor and fortitude, which as an Artist, I not only “get”, I also honestly respect. Art warrior is a hard road to slog, and in no way would I slander the people who pick up the palette and run with it.

But having dispensed with that sincere piece of praise, I’m also prone to being a cynic of vast and highly acidic proportion, and I’m painfully aware that particular tidbit doesn’t come as a shock to anyone. I’ve been in the PAS since 1991, and while Roosevelt was named a while back as one of the “Top Ten Arts Districts in the US”, our art “scene” is still only open essentially two nights a month, unlike many of our contemporaries. For the sake of our collective sanity, I’m not going to go too

in-depth on this particular tangent, due to my covering it almost endlessly over the last six years, but shouldn’t we be much more established and financially secure by now after so many years of work, whether that’s through individual acts or the backing of a dedicated arts organization?

Granted, Artlink is responsible for the yearly showcase of Art Detour, along with it’s newer and so far, occasionally uneven stepsister, the Artists Ball, which infamously one year, lacked both actual art or attendees which had anything to do with the art scene. To quote a colleague who was chatting with me and my companion at the time: “Between you, me and her, there’s over 45 years of scene knowledge standing here… do you recognize anybody?”

While my answer was a steely “um, nope“, it was a salve of sorts to know that if a bomb had been dropped on the happening that year, it would have rid the greater Southwest of worthless hipsters and a large demographic of AXE body-spray users. A 50/50 deal in regards to winning and losing, I would gleefully surmise. This kids, is not the sign of an organization that’s gonna be bringing home a lot of trophies, if you catch my drift- just something for all of you to chew on, and for me to expect voluminous hate mail regarding.

In fact, due to the cozying up with Baron Properties, Wayne Rainey resigned from the organization after attending this years event at the Heard, which in my humble opinion, was a pure “art gangsta” mic drop, considering he’s been involved with them for almost as long as he’s owned MonOrchid.

See, I’m all about the end game, and so far, all relevant data points to the fact that we’re about to get screwed like Ned Beatty in Deliverance by an entity that currently treats our artistic community as if we’re their Thursday Girl, for the cynical grace of a few measly and wholly condescending crumbs.

Artists aren’t curiosities in a side show to be paraded out so certain people can pat themselves on the back for “supporting culture”- they’re the entire reason these carpet bagging slugs came here from cities where snarky pretension is almost an Olympic sport, and they shouldn’t be allowed to destroy what’s been built just because we’re having some minor codependency issues.

And while I may not know much, I do know that Artlink has done itself no favors as of late, given the litmus test of this years intimate conversations at Chaos Theory. My takeaway was that a fairly large portion of the PAS wants somebody’s head on a pike [metaphorically, of course] for reasons that are both valid and counterfeit. The legitimate issues I’m currently dissecting, with yet one more to be thrown into this mix of snarkiness, and the bogus… well, If I was hard-pressed to be somewhat diplomatic, I’d describe them as nothing more than a feud between ego and futility.

Long story short: haters gonna hate, no matter if it’s justified or not.

I myself have been guilty of this attitude, as I was informed not too long ago by a current Artlink board member who took valid offense to my casually labeling the board as “a bunch of suits”, a flippant comment I did have the luxury of defending via a rather directed [yet pleasant] dialogue regarding the same. In retrospect, I should have been more clear on the topic of the board’s makeup, since as of now, out of 11 members, only two are Creatives. I’d have been better served if I had stated my belief that I think Artlink should be akin to an artsy version of the supreme court- half should be artists, half should be business professionals, and there should be a lone additional member who’s a quasi-mix of the two, who sets the last word in contracted debates.

While that chat went well, one of Artlink’s long-standing weaknesses is it’s inability to attract artists to serve as board members, a state of discordance fueled by the vast sense of suspicion it retains among a certain percentage of the artistic community. I’ve always been prone to dismissively ascribe this judgment to petty ax-grinding at best, but the explanation as to why this perception holds may be far more simple. In regards to some of these cases, complaints range from lack of communication to the more disturbingly insidious issue of being outright ignored in relation to marketing and promotional opportunities, such as being left off of maps and trolley stops.

Such a viewpoint hails from a downtown Phoenix gallery owner who asked for anonymity due to business and social concerns: “I think the lack of consistency with Artlink is an issue. Changing detour dates, w/ trolley routes that do not visit “paid” articipant stops, and visiting destinations that have had no galleries or studios – devastated businesses showing local art at detour. It’s not geared toward galleries or who is showing or the caliber of art…it’s who you are friends with. So if you don’t play in the same playgrounds- oh well. As to what Artlink has done for my business – they run the trolley on first Friday…That’s it.

Pug – the urban guide isn’t the most user friendly…and does anyone see it? Their marketing efforts are pretty much non existent that I can see. Dots on the street? Really? How do we get people to the dots? No one has EVER called to ask how they can improve or help my business. Never.

And I can’t always go sit at those meetings to hear what “they” are doing – with no inquiry as to what they should be doing…”

In addition to the above take on things, there’s this summary from yet another disaffected gallery owner who also wishes to remain anonymous*, due to the fear of professional reprisal:
*[See, there’s that “trust” thing I mentioned earlier.]

Anon: I think my issues are the same as yours. The whole art detour flop, failure, etc. but please don’t drop my name on anything. I want to be a silent witness to these atrocities to the Phoenix arts community.

AB: Well, i can use you as an anonymous source- without people giving me their issues, its just me going at them alone, and this time i need specifics and shadow allies.

Anon: “Anonymous is good. Great in fact. Ok. Most of this crap is Katrina, as you already know. She used Artlink as a platform for that stupid park thing [the Artists Ball] and then had the Gala there. I was called a month before Art Detour and asked to sign up and pay for my share of promotional materials.

However, all of the Art Detour stuff like flyers, posters, postcards, etc, should have been done 2 to 3 months before Detour, not one month before. So, at that time, I did not give any money to Artlink- however, a couple of weeks later [two weeks before Detour to be exact] I did cave in, gave them the money and there was still no flyers, no posters, no signage. No anything.

So the MORNING of Detour, we get signage, not even posters- we get signage and I think it was some maps, but I personally got nothing at all, which is fine because who the hell cares at that point, right? Personally, I think Katrina doesn’t really care about the arts in Phoenix at all- she has really nothing to do with Art, she doesn’t walk around during the First Friday events, and for my part, I’ve never seen her out looking at art.*
*[In Katrina’s defense, I have seen her at shows, but her range of effectiveness appears limited- AB]

I just don’t really understand why Katrina is a part of Artlink she just doesn’t seem to have it together for this kind of a non-profit, and I’m not sure exactly what she does besides her downtown journal garbage and who the hell cares about that? I don’t, and I’m sure a lot of other people don’t, as it has nothing to do with art.

I believe the name of Artlink is the only thing she really has to stand behind. I think you’re doing a great thing, and that Artlink not only needs to be reconfigured, it needs to have a new president- somebody who actually cares not only about the art in Phoenix, but the artists as well. They need the support that they thought they were actually getting from Artlink.

But in my opinion, Artlink does nothing for the artists themselves.”

Given the experiences above, a reliable bridge of discourse that exists between the PAS and Artlink seems to be non-existent, which may be why there’s an “Artist Mixer” coming up this week at The Grand on Central, or it may be just another form of damage control, as the skeptic in me dryly suggests, since I can’t recall them ever hosting one before. Personally, I’m hoping that it is indeed an outreach towards the greater good, but like most dubious tales that are put forth, both time and it’s lasting effect will tell in the end.

Hoping for some transparency, I reached out to Catrina Kahler, Artlink’s current president. Granted, it was right after I had posted on FaceBook that I was “going after” Artlink, so with hindsight, some skittishness was to be expected, but I was also reasonably convinced that my penchant for being skin-shreddingly honest would help soothe any concerns be they real or imagined.

Remind me when all of this is over to fire my Sense of Optimism… he’s really not pulling his weight.

Some background on Mrs. Kahler: she’s the publisher of the Downtown Phoenix Journal, Host of RadiatePHX, and owner of Urban Affair, a marketing and media company, and has served on the Artlink board since December 2011. She’s also allegedly managed to make Artlink financially solvent, which just supports my theory that voodoo actually does work, provided you sacrifice enough art-students.

Or hipsters… I’m not really sure how it works.

But enough with the metaphysical aspects of art advocacy, let’s get right down to the brass tacks, those being some personal observations from past [and I might add, current] Artlink board members in reference to her management style. Catrina, it has been said, tends to play her cards close to her vest, which sometimes has lead to a tangible sense of inter-personal annoyance among her colleagues. The word “OCD” came up more than once, followed very closely by the grumble that she’s perceived to be the whole of Artlink itself, as a generalization.

As one past member confided: “It’s not that I have an Ego, but it would be nice to be publically recognized for what I’ve done, every now and then, especially when there’s an issue within the community- *why the f*** don’t those people ever come to the board itself?”
*[See: “lack of trust”, see: “ax to grind”, see: “everybody goes to the big cheese.”]

So, with all that in mind, I present for your perusal the email correspondence.
———————————————————————————–
AB: “Catrina- I’m working on the new piece now, if you’d like to have a statement to be added into it (non edited of course) it would be great if you could get it to me ASAP.

I’m mainly interested in the recent association with Baron, especially given their problems settling into their community as well as understanding their long-term plans with artlink in regards to promoting the Arts.

If youd rather do a face to face, my evenings are open, but right now my email is literally blowing up over this to the tune of 100+ messages, so id like to hear from the source itself, rather than others whose opinions might, (to be diplomatic) somewhat biased.

Let me know at your convenience of course, and i wish you a good night.

Best regards, WMR”
———————————————————————–
Catrina Kahler: “Hi Wayne, Thanks for the offer but the board already shared a statement about the Juried Exhibition and the relationship with Baron. It’s posted here: https://artlinkphoenix.com/a-statement-on-the-juried-exhibition/

Best, Catrina”
————————————————————————-
AB: “Catrina- I’m sorry to hear that, as the official statement reads like a deflection of the actual issue at hand, but thats for the readers and the community to decide, I guess.

On a more personal note and as a member of the arts scene since 1991, I find Artlinks decision to ally themselves with a group undermining us both saddening and ethically disapointing.

But even more sorrowful… not unexpected.

Thank you for your courteous and prompt reply, and in closing, I offer this heartfelt observation:

I hope you know whom you’ve decided to do business with, because if you dont, they’ll show their true selves when Artlink no longer serves their purpose- and I, the eternal skinflint, am willing to put my money that’ll be sooner than later.

Best of luck in future endeavors, 
Wayne Michael Reich”
———————————————————-
Catrina Kahler: “Wayne, do you mind if I ask you something? Personally and sincerely, I have to ask, why are you choosing to act so forcefully?

I respect your history and intelligence. I’m trying to understand why you feel the need to be strongly opinionated about something that you know is extremely challenging and complicated.

Can you imagine for a moment that there are good intentions involved in the here and now? And there are at least some good fruits as a result of this work?”
————————————————————
AB: ” Catrina- Because I’ve seen first hand what these people are doing, and I see the end game. When the walls are full, and the permanent collection is full, and the building is done and finished, what need or use do they have for us?

They will build, and they will leave. And like an ex-boyfriend, they’re not going to help us in the future. What’s left behind will be an area where artists can’t afford to live, work, or maintain a gallery space. In other words- no cohesive community, no artists, no scene, no center of culture.

The interaction with MonOrchid is a perfect example of how they view us and the community. Referring to us as notorious, white feeding off of what has been built here by people who actually give a damn. And as an aside, where do you think the artists are going to go?

The warehouse district is being decimated by developers, and there are very few pockets left where artists can afford to take root and grow out. The scene is already fractured enough and not under any kind of umbrella of leadership- we’re open two nights a month, that doesn’t really strike me as a successfully built or well maintained artistic juggernaut.

I said it before, and I will say it again- these people are not our friends, and they don’t have our best interest at heart in any way, shape, or form. They’re looking out for their pocket book, and all we are is a marketing / PR opportunity  to them.

One example: A fellow artist had taken it upon himself a few weeks ago to show one of the people from the circles development first Friday and the artistic Community. He blurted out to me that he had no idea that this was even here, and that it was quote unquote an interesting facet of our city. But he expressed no interest in becoming one with it, or supporting it.

These developers are looking at the bottom line, they don’t give a rat’s ass about our cafes / art galleries / restaurants / Arts scene. They see a marketing opportunity and that is it. When they are done sucking us dry, they will go back to Colorado or move on to the next city like a gaggle of locusts.

Artlink will come to regret this decision, mark my words, and if I wasn’t 100% sure of that, I wouldn’t be doing the piece that I’m currently writing now. As a means of clarification, I would strongly suggest you sit down with Wayne Rainey and have a chat about what they’ve been doing.

I think he’d be more than willing to share with you his personal first-hand experiences.

Respectfully, WMR ”
—————————————————————————
Catrina Kahler: “Wayne, thanks for sharing this thoughtful reply. I’m giving it some serious thought of my own. Our respective causes may be more aligned than we think. I’m on my phone which makes for crappy replies. I would like to follow up with you later if you don’t mind. I realize you’re on a deadline but this is personal so I don’t expect it to play a role in your timeline.

Best, Catrina”
———————————————————————————
AB: : “I’m down for a meet up if you’re interested, timelines can be pushed back, you know.

Hoping to drop the piece by the end of this week.  WMR”
—————————————————————————–
Catrina Kahler: “ Hi Wayne, I apologize for this delay, especially after I told you I would follow up yesterday afternoon. My schedule got jammed up and I’m just coming up for air. It sounds like we’re kind of on two paths here. I’m talking with you from a personal perspective, and then hearing you’re posting on Facebook that you’re gearing up to go after Artlink. I don’t remember the quotes people are observing but it sounds kind of…bad.

I believe you’re coming from a place of real concern. But it’s probably not a smart idea for me to meet with you as I would want to have an open and honest discussion.

I believe we would even find points of agreement. In fact, based on your email below, I know we would. But I realize I don’t know you well enough to know whether or not I could trust opening up to you without that conversation becoming fodder for your blog…as it gears up to go after Artlink, an organization I care a lot about.*
*
[A small personal note? While these screeds are ultimately my responsibility, they aren’t a true solo effort- scores of people within the community offer up story ideas, and more to the point, they give me the inside track that fuel my literary efforts. That particular relationship is based solely on trust. If you tend to throw people under the bus, they’ll eventually refuse to hang out with you at the local bus-stop, you know. Self-preservation and all that. So not too surprisingly, I tend to find the above assumption to be particularly insulting.]

The Artlink board works very hard on behalf of artists. I know this to be a fact. I’ve literally had to suspend investing my time on my own work so that the organization gets the support it needs, much like other members of the arts community have had to do from time to time, as they work on their work/projects/organizations. So it’s been challenging for me and others to hear so many things being said that are just not true. 

As I mentioned in an earlier email, there is a here and now element at play. No one is denying the challenges of what’s taken place to date. And if what you say is true, and they up and leave in the future, a question remains. What about the now? If they truly are fly-by-night, then let’s make sure they spend their money with artists while they’re here – and not a Pottery Barn, IKEA or some commercial design company. We are working diligently to insert arts into current conversations with the intent to benefit artists. We can’t regret trying.

Please consider coming down from that 100%? I’m sure I’m an idiot for quoting Shakespeare to someone of your intellect, but this is honestly the line that comes to mind: “There are more things in heaven and earth…Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”

Thanks for listening. And for your patience with this reply.

Best, Catrina”
——————————————————————————-
AB:  “One more… This is what happens when they (developers) get a grip: “High end apartments”= unobtainable rents for artists.

https://m.facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=1233972589958366&id=100000369103710

If you come to Chaos and see me, walk over and let me plead my case for a sit down interview. And if that gambit fails, remember im always carrying rum, so at the very least,  I can spike your drink.
WMR”
———————————————————————————-
Catrina Kahler: “Sorry thought I had replied to this… I wanted to thank you. For the offer of rum, that is. Will keep that in mind.”
Her follow up after running into me at 9 Gallery, the night of Chaos Theory:

“I’m curious about something. You took me by surprise on Friday when you said you wanted to meet for three minutes. I didn’t mean to walk away as you were saying it. We were on the clock, trying to get to Art Haus before 10p. What is the three minutes for exactly? Previously, you had said you had wanted to meet, which I took to mean a full conversation in representation of Artlink. Given the request for three minutes, it sounds like you might have something specific you wanted to share with me. I’m not looking to cut off communication with anyone so is there is something you want to share or did I misunderstand?”
———————————————————————————–
AB
: “Metaphorical three minutes- if you want to chat, I’m open.”
——————————————————————————————–
Catrina Kahler: “Ah, ok. Thank you.”
—————————————————————————————-
And with that, the flow of conversation was over, such as it was. A few days later, the “rebate” press release was issued, and here we are now… up to our necks in an allegorical and literal desert, drinking overpriced coffee as absolutely nothing financially relevant happens.

One could easily make the argument that taking Baron’s money is the smart thing to do, in that it will inspire other corporations to do the same, but with all honest cynicism, why would they? We’re a limited resource with a rapidly approaching “sell-by” date, and once they’ve built their monoliths, they’ll have no use for us, period. All the PAS represents to them is a marketing gimmick- an exploitable opportunity to be discarded when they’ve hollowed us out like a chocolate Easter bunny.

While some might think I’m being harsh regarding this partnership, I’d still uphold the position that a bad deal is a bad deal, no matter how hard the spin on the rationalization that it isn’t. Artlink has become a keen facet of this gentrification diamond, and they’re willingly naive if they believe that a long-standing stability will come of this. We’ve read the book, seen the movie, and know how the sequel turns out- these people may not be our mortal enemies, but they are definitely not our friends, and we need to stop currying their favor over curing the cancer they’ve already spread.

Granted, one bad deal does not a pattern make, but that’s the beauty of the PAS- it keeps offering up  a never-ending cornucopia of snark-bait, which when given enough time to ferment, evolves into a story worth tackling, as is the case here. I’ve already dissected one allegedly bad business deal, and I’m about to add another art-frog to the pile, that being the grey bloated carcass of consumerism gone awry, a development also known as CityScape.

I’ve written about my dislike regarding this triumph of concrete over good community before, but this time my contempt goes past simple aesthetics, and instead focuses on yet another artists as fodder collaboration backed by you know who… AGAIN. Besides… I have a collection of all new jokes about CityScape in the next part of this blog, and I don’t want to waste them, so let’s get chomping on the newest bad call.

It comes in the form of an open Artists Call, a request for public art at the aforementioned Cityscape:
[https://artlinkphoenix.com/call-to-artists-cityskate-celebrates-holidays-in-downtown/]

From the call: “Artlink and CityScape invite local artists to submit samples of previously completed work to be considered for display on a structure that is a part of CitySkate in downtown Phoenix. A panel will select the top SIX selections.

Each winner will receive a $200 prize. Their works will then be reproduced on banner material and displayed on a chiller structure (two 40’ banners, three artworks on each) within CitySkate and featured in CityScape promotions.

There is NO SUBMISSION FEE for this call. The deadline to submit is November 7, 2016.

SUBMISSION DETAILS:
A variety of contemporary street art styles are welcome for submission. Artists are encouraged to submit works that reflect a holiday theme. This can include images of generosity, gratitude, hope, celebration, or joy.

Individual artists are invited to apply to this call. Please note that by submitting to this call, artist agrees to permit Artlink and CityScape to reproduce the image of their selected work. Limited edition items may be sold for a limited time (selected artists will be notified of details).”

Now, let’s have a quiz- what exactly are the problems within this open call?
Go ahead… I’ll give you thirty seconds.
[Hums “Jeopardy” Theme…]

Did you guess it? Ok, some of you did, some of you didn’t, and that’s fine. For those who didn’t, let me use my freshly sharpened claws to help turn this art-speak pot roast into a finely shredded and exceedingly yummy snarkchanga- it’s like a chimichanga, but with a fairly tart pickle sauce in place of the red. Trust me, it’s delicious.

The first issue: the amount of the so-called “prize”- 200 bucks. A pittance, given this small, yet critical factoid: the developer of CityScape is also the driving force behind the new high-rise residential and commercial project in downtown Phoenix that will include a Frys grocery store. While the potential jokes that should be made regarding merging living quarters and a place where one buys Diet Coke are laid out like a banquet table, I’ll pass up the chance… for now.

What’s truly interesting about this faux benefactor of the arts is this: recently, the Phoenix City Council approved $18.3 million in incentives to the project, overseen by a company known as Red Development. Let this sink in for a moment- an 18.3 MILLION benefit, and they’re going to throw in $1200.00 split six ways as a “prize”? How noble of them, the cash-strapped babies. Part of me wants to give them a bowl of soup, and the remainder wants to dump it over their custom-made suits.

I spend way more than that in monthly art supplies, so this insolent trifle cuts zero ice with me, and I might add, any Artist who knows anything about the true cost of producing work.

The second matter is one that I actually find more troubling, as it concerns the most valuable thing an artist owns: the rights to reproduce their labors. Once again, from the call: “Please note that by submitting to this call, artist agrees to permit Artlink and CityScape to reproduce the image of their selected work. Limited edition items may be sold for a limited time (selected artists will be notified of details).”

From an outside impression, it appears that submitted works are open to being published just as well as the chosen winners, which I’ll conclude is just a case of literary confusion. While there is mention of selected artists being notified of the “details”, there’s no publically posted guidelines regarding as to how the proceeds will be dispersed among the artists from sales of the limited editions, if at all, and I find that odd.

Seriously… if you’re going to split profits, shouldn’t that minutiae be right up front?

But what truly strikes strange is the fact that Artlink apparently sees nothing wrong with backing what is essentially yet another situation of a gentrifying corporation exploiting artists. They’ll be using the artists efforts widely in their advertising without paying the standard fee for doing so, and I’ll bet you a warehouse full of eggnog-flavored Ding Dongs that the phrase “it’s good exposure” will be tossed at the artists like heads at a zombie skee-ball contest… which, boys and girls, is pure and unadulterated bulls**t of the highest caliber.

And yes, I said it. Egg-nog-flavored Ding Dongs. An Artbitch can dream. Even in Trumps America.

I don’t know who vetted this arrangement as a good thing, but they obviously weren’t an artist, and they clearly weren’t skilled at business, if this deal struck them as fair, professional, and dare I say it, an opportunity to show off our best and brightest. No truly serious career-minded artist is going to scrape for 200 bucks when other art centers actually try to get the best deal for their talent.

But wait… was that a scream through the pixilated world I just heard? A blood-curdling harpy-shriek of rage in regards to my seemingly offering no solutions?

C’mon… have I ever let you down in telling you what needs to be done? No. And I’m not going to start now. First off, I think that Artlink needs to do a few [in my pov] simple tweaks to it’s internal structure, and I’ll rattle them off as they hit me.

To start, there is a definitive need to facilitate a stable source of funding so that the organization can have a full time, five days a week, dedicated staff and more importantly- an actual physicality within the PAS, one that reaches out to other markets and artists. Since Artlink seems to be cozying up to developers with deep pockets, maybe they should use that familiarity to load up their reserves and use it to solidify our artistic presence outside the muddled sprawl that constitutes our scene.

Now, I do realize that in order for them to be able to open up the gates as it were, the issue of financing all of these endeavors will have to be settled long before any action can take place, but it’s also very critical that Artlink needs to embrace and promote all the artists, not just the ones who pay to play as a way to hang out with the cool kids clique. That means everyone gets on the map, the trolley stops at as many venues as it can, and in the end, one and all get to share a piece of the hopefully profitable art-cake.

But if I had to focus on one exceptionally vital issue that I see as the biggest millstone around Artlink’s neck, it would be it’s alleged reputation among the PAS, and that needs to be addressed ASAP, because until it is, there’s always going to be an acidic buffer zone that impedes progress.

True advocacy isn’t limited. Everybody gets to have a voice, not just your friends. And you don’t throw your fellow colleagues under the bus, based on the hope that this time, the metaphorical pretty girl will finally notice you. Many paved the ground, countless others laid the bricks, and scores more poured their blood, sweat, tears, and bank accounts into building something that is worth fighting for, versus selling it out to those who see it as a marketing gimmick or as a chance to finally dust off that brand new PR department they’ve had on the shelf for far too long.

Maybe the mixer will be that first step towards achieving that goal, or maybe it’s just yet another opportunity to pat ourselves on the back for doing a job we’ve never really started, nor will see through to the end, like we’ve been oft to do in the past.

But what do I know? I’m just an artist. That used to count for something…
Especially to those who claimed to respect us.

“When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.”- Maya Angelou

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 


 

Gentrification Preferes Blands, Pt.1.(The Baer Truth.)

“Misquotations are the only quotations that are never misquoted.”- Hesketh Pearson

Hello Blogiteers!

I find myself in a conundrum of sorts these days, and it’s quite frustrating.

Things appear to be going well on the whole, and that kind of stuff tends to throw a flaming curveball in regards to my snarkitude, if you know what I mean. Sure, I like it when things are all happy and sparkly, but it’s definitely a hindrance when it comes to writing one of my saturnly venomous screeds. Nobody wants a fluffy piece from me, they want that skin-stripping kindness I’ve become infamous for, and that requires idiots to feed the machine.

Granted, it sometimes seems that the PAS provides a never-ending stream of them, ranging from Amy Silverman to Peter Bugg, but you can only hit that cache so many times before you get sick and tired of playing with the same chew-toy.  And in the case of my perennial favorite artsy punching-bag, the aforementioned Mr. Bugg, it seems that the SMOCA grant money he was awarded for his note by note *rip-off of another artists work was seemingly never utilized to bring said copied art project to completion.  *[allegedly] 

According to Sara Cochran, [then SMoCA interim director and curator] Peter was later hired on the strength of the following: “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.” Re-reading this puff-piece quote with my stereotypical cynicism, I find this particular tidbit hilarious.

Not only does he have said alleged reputation for blatant plagiarism, his knack for dropping the ball is so well known that its rumored he’s in the running to be the next quarterback for the Patriots, as evidenced by his inability to bring it to fruition. Maybe the next time he [allegedly] copies somebody else’s project, he’ll hopefully replicate their work ethic as well.

A truly ethical professional can dream, I guess…

Speaking of the exact opposite of a true professional, [at least when it comes to dealing with her readers and insubordinates, anyway] it seems that somehow I managed to slip around Amy Silverman’s all-seeing Eye of Sauron and get my name in the ol’ Phoenix New Times* despite my previous assertions that they’re still the Pennysaver with Porn at best.
*[Link: http://www.phoenixnewtimes.com/music/heres-what-its-like-to-write-an-album-in-a-month-8215956]

Seriously, pick one up and count the number of ads versus actual content, and you’ll understand why they remind me of a coffeehouse newsletter. The most recent one I condescended to view happened to be 1/3rd as thick as it was just a few years ago, and it’s painfully obvious that their ongoing demographic really has a thing for strip clubs, car stereos, and shoddily written articles from ASU’s outgoing Walter Cronkite School of Journalism’s “not quite there yet” class.

It does strike as amazing however, that she’s managed to keep that rag on the merest of life support, so I will give her that, but your strongest skill set as an editor shouldn’t be where the art of dark necromancy comes into play. Your job is to shape the written word, not go do body shots with Anubis, even if you do share similar views on fashion and makeup tips. Just saying.

Gah. No need to pontificate any longer in regards to Editorzilla and the twits whom she pettily lords over, or the hipster impotence of SMOCA’s human Xerox. When a plane crash is imminent, the best thing to do is cover your head, clear your karma, and brace yourself for the inevitable. This Artbitch desperately needs some new scratching posts, and that right quick.

Speaking of which, and to nobody’s surprise, my complaint against my former doctor was dismissed by BOMEX with no explanation. Sure, I did get a nice form letter signed by their head shill regarding their “decision” but as to why that asinine decision was made, I’m still out in the cold. Apparently, asking why there should there be an answer given (from an agency who claims to protect the public) is the new rude. After all, I’m only the one whose life and job were horrendously affected, and it’s not like their mission isn’t to protect the doctors who sign their paychecks, a fact made evident when you look at how they handle things. As I’ve oft noted before, it’s never a good idea to let a skulk of hungry foxes guard the henhouse, unless your ongoing craft project has an immediate need for slightly sticky feathers and bones.

You may remember that initially, I praised BOMEX investigator Leah Rossow’s dedication to her job, but it seems that my sense of optimism at finding a competent worker within their gargantuan bureaucracy devoted to whitewashing the truth was both baseless and premature, given the eventual outcome, which as I noted- was unsurprising.

I guess the old saying is true after all: everybody has a price, and in Mrs. Russow’s case, it seems hers allegedly comes in the form of a low-wage paycheck. To be clear, this isn’t a case of the stereotypical “he said / she said”- all the salient and unprincipled behavior that my doctor displayed was well documented, and yet… she was given a hall pass to eventually go maim or possibly kill someone with her obvious incompetence*. *[Allegedly]

But as I stated in my last screed, I really am done with this. I’ve publically said my piece, stated my case, and moved on. However, it’s also true that I rarely leave monuments of ineptitude standing without taking one last parting salvo, which in this case- was an email directed at Mrs. Russow and her apparent acceptance of ignoring the obvious.

To quote myself:
———————————————————————————————–
“Thanks for proving my point that BOMEX is bought and paid for. I guess hurting your patients is perfectly fine when you know that the so called regulators are in your pocket.

BTW, the blog posts, where you’re mentioned has over 5k hits, and I’ve answered over 200 emails regarding my case.

Not surprisingly, they all agree that Dr. Paar should be held accountable, but when the people you’re supposed to investigate pay you, objectivity is questionable at best.

Go read the blogs, as they are hilarious:
http://waynemichaelreich.blogspot.co

Ironically,  I actually wrote nice things in regards to your dedication, but I guess I’ll have to alter that in a future piece, as you’ve shown where your loyalties lie- protecting the doctors, insidious actions be damned.

There is one query I do have though that only you can answer, and that is this: How much did it take for you to be bought off?

And how do you sleep knowing that you put patients at risk? You, and the agency that puts profit over patients can go to Hell, which is ironic, since you’ve helped so many victims remain there.

Morally bankrupt. Devoid of ethics. And lining your pockets on a base of suffering, 

 May you live in interesting times,
Wayne Michael Reich”
—————————————————————————–
Personally, I think I come off as rather warm and fuzzy. Much like one of those noxious caterpillars you used to see on the so-called “Learning Channel” before every show started using “Boss” in it’s title, regardless whether the content was about cakes, white trash, or mermaids. And don’t even get me started on those homophobic twits from “Duck Dynasty” or the horrendous stage moms from “Toddlers and Tiaras”- we’ll be here for days. Days, I tell you.

So what’s a slowly evening-out Artbitch to do? Well, if you’re me, you talk to people like I’m known to do incessantly, and you pay attention to the stuff that filters through the world of the Internet. It’s sort of analogous to being a spider in the middle of a web, waiting on it’s next meal.

Normally, that’s how it usually goes, but unfortunately. this time around there were a few spanners thrown in the ol’ works, and they were huge ones. First: mainly due to my neuropathy, I was dismissed from my new job, [btw, I would have made the same decision if I were in their place] then I got sick. Really sick. Take nausea, fold in flu-like symptoms, intersperse in a highly-puzzling series of head rushes and waves of exhaustion that literally are bringing me to my knees.

Top off by adding in the usual depression that goes with being unemployed, and what you’ll have is quite possibly the worst cookies ever, no matter how many chocolate chips you’ve supplemented to the mix. So given all that, it’s not too surprising I’ve been way behind the 8 ball lately in regards to what’s been going on in the PAS- after all. it’s kind of difficult to run with the herd when you’re unable to get off the couch without cursing whatever God you’re presently blaming your issues on.

Stupid Krom. And after all those nice things I’ve said about you to Conan? That just hurts, bro.

Blasphemy aside, it’s been exhausting trying to respond to all that’s been happening in (and to) my life the last couple of weeks, so you’ll have to forgive me for trying to circumvent some of the crush, as quite honestly- a lot of it is either beyond my influence or my experience. And since I’ve managed to land a new job recently despite my ongoing health issues, my free time has been somewhat crunched.

So, what’s up?

There’s a massive brouhaha involving a proposed BID District currently in downtown, and the most recent debacle concerned a seditious comment by RoRo landowner Erick Baer where he allegedly called the artistic community “parasites”- two items that you’d think would provide adequate grist for the Artbitch to mill into delightfully acidic snarkbread, but surprisingly this time around, I’m going to defer to the people already on the field of battle, and I’ll endeavor to keep my rationalization short.

In the case of the BID issue, quite simply put- I’m a novice when it comes to the arena of local politics, the structuring of such initiatives, and what the required process is in order to create one, so any input I have would essentially boil down to a word-bite at best, personal embarrassment at worst. Besides, Jon Talton [http://roguecolumnist.typepad.com/] is way better at this kind of thing than I am, so my normally ravenous ego has no issue getting out of the way to let my betters do what they do best with effortless grace.

Addressing the next issue, the alleged comment by Erick Baer, the situation gets a tad bit murkier, depending on who you talk to. Some claim his remark was taken out of context, others claim it runs exactly as it reads. So which is it, exactly?

Well, lets add some framework to my take on what’s going on and start with the basics: Mr. Baer owns the following properties within the RoRo- a single family residence rental property at 809 N. 6th St., and a vacant lot at 815 N. 6th St.. The most truthful assessment I could apply to Baer is that he falls within the parameters of a “long-term community investor”- that is someone who goes into a area, buys a property to renovate. and then sells it far down the road when the market conditions are favorable, basically betting on a win from what others would consider a loss- all perfectly ethical and reasonable, depending on your modus operandi and inherent objective.

As stated in an article via the *Phoenix New Times, Baer made his assertion to the Arizona Senate Finance Committee in regards to the proposed (and eventually defeated) Roosevelt Row BID application. To quote from the article: “Roosevelt Row property owner Erick Baer submitted a public comment to the Senate Finance Committee describing Roosevelt Row artists as “parasites that think everything is free.””  {http://www.phoenixnewtimes.com/arts/arizona-governor-doug-ducey-signs-law-killing-the-roosevelt-business-improvement-district-8134294]

To be quite honest, when I first heard that, my blood instantly boiled, and a plan for getting him to willingly get inside my 1974 Ford van/mobile abattoir began to gel. My first thought was to tell him there’s an artist squatting on his vacant lot, say I’d be more than happy to drive him there, and watch the fun ensue when I *bust out my spattering smock and freshly sharpened matching chainsaw with it’s super-convenient insulated drink cozy.
*[A simple joke. A cup cozy on a chainsaw would be highly impractical.]

But this is the new and improved Artbitch, V2.5, and these days, I’m trying ever so hard to not go off half-cocked. Besides… have you priced quicklime lately? It’s almost high enough to make a man reconsider his hobby of killing clown hookers on the weekend.

Almost. A mans gotta have his down time, you know.

So, my first step was to draft an open letter, but due to a miscommunication on my part, I wound up sending it to the wrong people, which they addressed almost immediately- curtly, I might add. Oops.
————————————————————————————————————
“Hi there!
This message is for Erik Baer: I write a *blog dedicated to the Phoenix Art Scene, and as such, am currently in the midst of a piece regarding the merging of both the business and artistic development going on downtown.
*(http://WayneMichaelReich.Blogspot.com/)

Recently, you referred to the art community as “parasites”, a statement that for obvious reasons, has offended a wide swath of people. Now, while its well-established that I’m pro-art scene, I’m also known for being pro-accuracy when it comes to getting the details right. 

So to that end, I’d like to offer you the chance to either clarify or expand on your pov, and the best way to do that is to get it from the source, not the internet or offended masses, who to be fair- may not be willing to provide the balanced overlook this subject demands.

(Disclaimer: I’m harsh, but I don’t selectively edit, I don’t misquote to score points, and your response, whatever it may be, will go straight from your mouth to my pixelated page as is.)

Now, I am aware that you may not be interested or comfortable in broaching this topic, but at the moment, I’ve received over 100 emails regarding your comment, and just recently had a very animated lunch with several key players in the scene asking me to write something in response.

While this subject does intrigue me on several levels, I’d rather have all sides represented before I start crafting, for as I said, Im all about getting it right.

If the concept of telling your side interests you, please feel free to peruse past blogs at the web address above, or please read the published magazine articles at my personal site: https://waynemichaelreich.com
(Just click on the “Media” link, and follow the path.)

In closing, I thank you for your time and hopeful future consideration.

Sincerely,
Wayne Michael Reich
——————————————————————————————————————–
The response? Well, I did send it to the wrong people due to the fact I sometimes have the brain of a goldfish, so naturally, I heard nothing back. But thankfully, the stars sometimes align and reward you while overlooking your past idiocy, because Karma likes to shake it up every now and then.

It just happened that a few days later, I was cruising the ol’ Facebook and literally “bumped” into him on a thread regarding Donald’s Trumps gaggle of gold-digger wives- I know, I know, who cares about immigrants doing yet another job Americans won’t do, but it did allow the possibility of he and I getting together for a polite conversation.

After posting my main email address, I waited for a follow-up, and got…. nothing. No big woop, life is busy, people have other issues to deal with, and it’s not like I exert a great deal of influence within the grand scheme of things, so why would someone who seemed rather vehement towards the PAS and it’s Creatives be open to talking to me anyway? Looking at it from another perspective, I can understand perfectly well why some people wouldn’t want to have coffee with me, as for some in the scene, it would be like sitting down with Lucifer himself- especially if I’ve already written about you.

And I’m also certain that “Googling” me probably doesn’t show me in the best light, either.

Let’s face it, while I’m no Walter Winchell, I’m hardly a Gretchen Carlson either- I do possess some chops, otherwise you wouldn’t be reading this, now would you? So trying to be as tactful as possible, I sent another query via Facebook, and hoped for the best, which never came. These are the days where you seriously just want to gorge on ice cream in your pajamas while watching Milla Jovovich kill zombies, because it’s fairly obvious nobody thinks you’re pretty anymore.

So, since [at that time] I couldn’t get my info directly from the source, playing devil’s advocate to surmise what he meant seemed to be the only logical way to go.

The truth is that if wasn’t for the artists powerfully transforming RoRo into the creative center it’s poised to become, some of these carpet-bagging profiteers from Portland wouldn’t be here in the first place, a fact that’s being willfully overlooked by the developers and others of their ilk, such as their PR guys. It’s ironically insulting that they love the art scene enough to use it as a marketing point, and as a milking station for selling themselves as being community-based, but they don’t see the slur in snidely deriding what was built long before their collective arrogance arrived, which is quite simply infuriating.

I have no issue with someone who’s playing the market, hoping their land purchase/white elephant will eventually payoff, or anyone wanting to develop a specific area, but when that decision is intertwined with disrespect for the people who are partially responsible for their good fortune, it raises my hackles something fierce. Without the Artists, there IS NO ART SCENE, period. And treating the most vital part of the machine as either unnecessary or as sponging is sheer conceit, at best and worst.

The majority of the non-local developers and speculators hoping for a big payday and nothing else, are in essence, the lowest form of cultural vulture, feeding off, as well as on, the hard work of the artists they scorn.

None of the Creatives I know are artsy free-loading bedbugs, they’re passionate people who bust their asses at a level that demands respect, no matter what the imported from Portland leeches think. In my humble opinion, anyone casually deriding the entire creative community when they’re currently nursing off their teat like a starving calf, is in my humble pov, possessing an intellect more suited to a Trump rally, which is to say that they’re most likely hovering academically somewhere just above a baked potato.

But as I said, this is the new and improved Artbitch, V2.5, and I’m trying to exude less cynicism these days, which to be quite honest- is getting damn near nigh impossible in this, the irreparably jaded era of 24/7 belittling and skepticism. However, even with that pessimistic bulwark in front of me, I’m still fairly optimistic that the good outweighs the bad in the end.

Apparently, that luminous outlook rubbed off on somebody connected to the universe’s head office, and I was sent an early *Santiago Day gift, in the form of an unexpected Facebook communiqué from the aforementioned Erick Baer, wherein he requested a chat to discuss the issue at hand.
*[Google it.]

Personally, I was hoping Baer would turn out to be someone I could really dislike- it’s been a slow summer for me after all, and this gig doesn’t really work unless I have someone to eviscerate. The most ideal situation for me is that I would have found find him *running a Ding Dong counterfeiting ring out of a hollow volcano, surrounded by underpaid dancing minions.
*[That’s a joke. Please don’t sue me, we all know that a hollow tree is where the pastries get made.]

However, when I arrived for our sit-down at The Grand on Central, that wasn’t the case- in his sixties, blunt, and incredibly energetic, Baer struck me (in my humble opinion) as a fairly straight shooter, and wasted no time explaining how the blow-up all happened. He’s also a founding member of Downtown Voices, [www.downtownvoices.org] a Phoenix-specific advocacy group.

And even worse, he admits he did say that, right off the freaking bat.

Goddamnit. Son of a yak herding inbred, I was hoping for a demagogue, and instead, got someone who didn’t duck or shy away from my rather pointed questions. With this kind of open discourse, it’s only a matter of time before I start posting recipes and life-hack tips. For instance, did you know you can use clothespins as toothbrush holde…

NONONONONO! I’m the Artbitch, and I’m gonna get ruthless here, no matter what.

Except… Baer spent quite some time explaining his frustration with the defeated BID proposal, making a strong case regarding [in his words] several “vagaries” within its structure, along with alleging that the process itself isn’t truly transparent, the notification procedure strikes as somewhat selective, and that the appeals process is deliberately complicated and bureaucratic to deter dissent.

Continuing, he echoes opinions I’ve voiced numerous times over the years: that [my take] Phoenix tries on identities like a high school girl wanting to impress people, that there’s no sense of gravitas or authenticity as presented by the new developments, and that the Arts community would benefit greatly from a true advocate in their corner, not someone who’s in “bed” with the developers.

They want Utopiahe says,but have no idea what it signifies.”

If the BID allegations are accurate, I do think these are issues that should merit further investigation, but this is so out of my skill-set, that it requires someone who truly understands the politics and intricacies of the situation, and that person is so not me, if I were to be brutally honest- I’m a snark, not a diplomat, and this can of worms would eat my face if I dared to step up into it’s ring,

As I stated earlier: “I’m a novice when it comes to the arena of local politics, the structuring of such initiatives, and what the required process is in order to create one, so any input I have would essentially boil down to a word-bite at best, personal embarrassment at worst.”

Regardless of my walking the waffling line, the conversation was interesting to say the very least, especially in regards to one of the aforementioned properties he owns, that being the vacant lot, which he’s half-jokingly suggested should be named “Parasite Park“, after the street-art someone [we all know who, wink, wink] plastered all over it. A graphic btw, that Baer claims both he and his wife actually liked, mainly for it’s superior attention to detail. 

So to the artist responsible; kudos, you done good.

As it turns out, vacant lots in Phoenix are taxed at double the rate of developed properties, PHXs rationale being that they necessitate a larger share of city services, such as police, fire, etc., by dint of not being fully realized. Now whether or not this is statistically true, it still presents as a tad bit

hypocritical, considering the City of Phoenix allegedly owns over 800 similar lots themselves. Past the tragic issues regarding the homeless and an occasional brush fire, I can’t really see this as a concern past the claim of a blighted urban landscape, which while a truly valid point, is not as simplistic as it sounds.

Especially when the city taxing you for it is essentially doing the same thing as you, and even more annoying when your property has been put up for sale as Baer has done, and you don’t get any takers. Just an aside I thought was interesting, given the fact that Downtown Phoenix is being swallowed up by developments that look as if they were designed by a Bauhaus student with a fetish for architecture that looks like a shoebox got busy with a WalMart behind a Taco Bell dumpster, an issue I’ll cover in the next blog, btw.

Back to the brouhaha. As our three hour conversation unfolds, Baer expresses both remorse and shock at the controversy that his “heat of the moment” remark generated, for as he puts it: “In the grand scheme of things, I’m small potatoes, I’m really nobody.” In fact, the blowback spurred on mostly by the earlier referenced article via the Phoenix New Times- a commentary that [according to Baer] didn’t feel that it was necessary to grant him the opportunity to expound upon his incendiary statement took him totally by surprise.

There’s a truly valid reason I gleefully call the PNT the “Pennysaver with Porn”, and it’s not just because it’s catchy as all f**k. No, the explanation lies within the fact that if they spent less time trying to stir the pot and more time getting all sides of a story, maybe they wouldn’t have to sell so much ad space to businesses you can’t take your kids to, as you awkwardly avoid the question of where you really go every Wednesday night after work. Let me be clear- I’m NOT blaming the writer of this piece- if anything, I’m betting dollars to donuts that the bad call on the details can be laid at their editors *feet, as it’s just the kind of salacious detail that they drool over. 
*[hooves, talons, tentacles, what have you]

Darn. And my aversion therapy regimen was going so well.  Oops. My bad. Back to the narrative.

Baer, as I stated earlier, comes off as a straight shooter, an attitude I can easily relate to, given my penchant for being blunt. And directness seems to be a trait that Baer possesses in buckets, if not truckloads. Another attribute I tend to like in a person, no matter what side they’re on. In the end, I’m just a big softy, I guess.

As our talk progresses, Baer informs that his real issue truly lies with a few specific individuals who, as he put it rather succinctly, claim to represent the PAS, of whom he flatly states: “nobody voted for them to be the Art King and Queen, and they sure as Hell don’t speak for me.“. Those familiar with the PAS already know who I’m talking about, and despite my past screed regarding one of those people specifically, I really don’t have too much interaction with them in the circles I run in, nor do I really pay either much mind. Different levels of the food chain and all that, you understand. Come to think of it, I’m not really sure if I have a level, so much as a niche that others overlook.

Now before you go burning me in effigy or sticking pins in a likeness adorned with a lock of my luxuriant ponytail, pause to remember that I’m just the messenger, and that my health insurance is non-existent, so take a moment and think before you start sending me the usual barrage of hate mail, snarky comments tossed out at art openings, and veiled threats passed via Chinese whispers.

Continuing, Baer hones in on what he claims he meant to say originally. before he,  “phrased it badly due to my being so damn aggravated by some of the people involved.” I’ll give you two guesses as to whom those persons might just be.

Just two simple speculations. Key word here is two. Dos. Twosome. Duo. A pair. A set. Two of a kind. Uno times Dos. You get the idea, methinks.

By way of disclaimer, I have heard that said persons don’t think much of me, if at all, but to be fair- that tidbit did come fifth hand, and they’ve never been anything less than professional when I’ve run into them publicly, so for all I know, they could either have a shrine to my destruction hidden in a hall closet, or both could be huge, yet closeted, Artbitch fans.

A snarky boy who’s just looking for his forever family can dream I guess, but the reality is more likely that they have no actual idea who I am. [See “small fish, big mouth.”] Not that I’m taking sides or anything. After all, I don’t want to wind up buried alive under the reclaimed wood floor-boards of a combination vegan coffee boutique and art gallery, and I’m way too set in my habits to start hanging out in a Starbucks anytime soon.

As I said earlier, I’m just the messenger, and this isn’t Sparta, so let’s all step back from the pit full of earth, water, and the piled corpses of Xerse’s unfortunately mouthy emissaries, before we all do something I’ll regret.

But… it does have relevance to something I’ve been grousing about for years, and that is this- we have way too many cooks in the kitchen in regards to the PAS, and some of those can only boil in a bag, if you know what I mean. Don’t misinterpret my take, it’s truly heartening to see so many 602 cheerleaders as of late, but let’s be real for a moment- some are here for community, some are here for charity, and some are here strictly for the commemorative plaques.

Granted, a strong argument could be made for my inclusion into one, if not all three, of these sub-groups, depending on your pov, but I’ve never claimed to speak for anyone but me. I have my own corner of the artistic turf, and I defend it like a man obsessed, but I’ve never assumed that anybody respects that or what I try to do. In my opinion, there’s really no clear and unifying leader who speaks for and within the PAS, but there sure are a lot of generals who think they’re in charge, no matter what the in proximity evidence or gentry may say.

And yes, I can already hear the smug detractors rallying cry: “well then, why aren’t you more politically involved on the local level then, oh great internet snark?“, and my retort is as basic as you can get- quite simply, I’ve always been an irritant to committees and agendas, and it’s usually more effective if I remain in the shadows. While I can lead, I absolutely abhor being the one who has to herd the cats, and my main skill-set has always been in serving as advocate, fixer, and occasional 2nd lieutenant.

As an aside, if anybody requires concrete proof that our artistic starship isn’t helmed by Captain Kirk but his fated to die redshirts instead, all we need do is look at the “success” of the PAS with a truly dispassionate eye.  Ready for a fun pros and cons list, faithful readers?

PRO: Roosevelt was named one of the “coolest streets in America”.
  [Source: http://www.bizjournals.com/phoenix/blog/business/2016/06/cushman-wakefield-names-roosevelt-row-in-downtown.html]

 CON: It’s as edgy as a glass of warm milk, and has been so gentrified, it’s essentially a vanilla wafer come to life, who just wants to brag endlessly about how natural his fake lawn looks.

PRO: Our “arts district” was also named “one of the top ten art districts in America.”
[Source: http://ktar.com/story/92043/phoenixs-roosevelt-row-named-among-best-art-districts-in-the-country/  ]

CON: Please explain how this can be, since FF is nothing more than a rolling street party, hardly any art gets sold, the Creatives in this town still require day jobs in order to survive, add in the lack of serious promotion of the PAS, a dearth of knowledgeable media exposure of what we do past a crap-sack of a free newspaper that even Circle K won’t carry, and to top it all off, could someone satisfactorily defend why we’re only open two nights a month?

Sorry, but in order to truly be taken seriously, maybe we should stop patting ourselves on the back over every middling achievement, and should ramp it up like the other cities, and for once- go kick some serious ass in regards to showcasing the talent we have and what it can do. Don’t think I’m blaspheming, but I’m pretty sure NYC doesn’t even knows we’re alive in relation to being on the Arts map. [Please send hate mail and death threats to the usual place, thank you.]

PRO: The new developments will put Phoenix on the map as a city in upward transition.

CON: Yes… because lifting architectural inspirations directly from Portland and LA will do so much to define our uniqueness in regards to other cities, because nothing screams “distinctive” louder than purposely making sure your downtown looks just like everybody else’s, everywhere else.

I’m not sure who the architects designing these abominations are, but it’s high time that somebody takes away their cad programs and architectural LEGO sets until they can design something that’s truly and perceptibly Phoenix, as wrested from the ethereal to the corporeal. And while some of these new developments are touted as a means to raise our national visibility, they’re also akin to a strangler fig being set loose in a verdant garden.

We may not notice at first that our community is being forced out, but we’ll definitely become aware of it down the road, another issue I’ll address in the next part of this blog.

Sorry. Sometimes tangents take me away like a pack of hungry pterodactyls. My sincerest apologies. Back to the original plot. Asked how he would phrase his declaration given the perspective of hindsight, Baer quickly responds with: “If I had to say it again, I’d say the BID process is itself parasitic- I’m truly sorry for the unintended offense, which was not directed at the community itself, but those certain un-elected people who claim to represent it.”

Wrapping it up, Baer exits on this statement: “There’s room for the People, there’s room for the Artists, but there’s no room for the Bureaucrats.”

But isn’t there, though?

Especially given that they seem to be the ones truly controlling the path and destiny of our future, devoid of any knowledge of what makes our creative nucleus tick. I recently ran into one of these beige-walkers being shepherded around the PAS by two of our local and I might add, kick-ass Creatives who had taken it upon themselves to show this individual (who’s involved with the *tax-break seeking Circles development) to showcase what exactly the PAS has to offer and what it represents.
*[They didn’t get it by the way. Schadenfreude rocks.]

Two things: first, I’m proud of how the two Creatives involved took it upon themselves to attempt an education upon the clueless, and I heartily applaud them. Personally, I feel it’s an overly optimistic endeavor, due to the fact the deal is done, the ink is dry, and if these developers couldn’t be bothered to do the merest of research in regards to where they’re building, why would they care now? If one looks at the situation with an unbiased eye, it’s fairly obvious we’re all being played like an Ozark harp, and we’re dancing to their tune- not ours.

And second: I think that Baer’s comment (poorly phrased as it was), does raise a valid if somewhat uncomfortable point, and that’s this: who exactly is looking out for the PAS, and what is their plan to stop the presently occurring strangulation of what’s been built? Does it consist of digging in our heels for an inspiring, yet hopeless last stand, or praying for a deus ex machina that saves all that’s established?

But that’s for the next installment of “As Our World Burns”, methinks.
And when I come back…

I run in Circles, discuss giplets and gravy, and wonder why Phoenix needs to burrow in Portland’s closet when we have an entire wardrobe of our own to choose from.

“You must never feel badly about making mistakes … as long as you take the trouble to learn from them. For you often learn more by being wrong for the right reasons than you do by being right for the wrong reasons.” – Norton Juster, The Phantom Tollbooth

 

 

 

 





 

A Bugg’s Strife Pt.4 (Paar-ty Foul.)


“There are so many ways of being despicable it makes one head spin. But the way to be really despicable is to be contemptuous of other peoples pain.”- James Baldwin

Hello Blogiteers!

How are you? That’s just spiffy.
 
I for one, am feeling much better these days, finally having my pain meds being reinstated the crucial key in my overall feeling of well-being, thanks to a doctor who didn’t learn his bedside manner from Cruella DeVille. Granted, I could be wrong- it has shockingly happened before.

Once or twice in regards to choosing a doctor, anyways.
 

Speaking of which, it’s time to start wrapping up my tale of an [*allegedly] heartless medical malinger, that being the one and thankfully only, Dr. Gypsy Faith Paar. Granted, her physician credentials may be sound, but judging from my personal and I might add painful, experience- I’d have to opine strongly that her interpersonal skills could use a few major tweaks.

Think about rebuilding Atlantis exactly like it used to be, and you’ll get where I’m going with this. If I were to paint an analogy of what I think of those said skills, it would be akin to being forced to eat an entire pallet of PEEPS. Sure, in the beginning it’s all sugar and squishiness, but halfway through, you realize you have made a severe error in judgment, and you’re the only one who’s going to actually suffer.

Personally, I’ve been fortunate enough not to have ever been disabled by the melancholy that follows a marshmallow-based sugar binge, but I’d assume that at best, it’s highly unpleasant. Which reminds me… if you remember my last little screed, I introduced a new player on the field, that being Paradise Family Medicines office manager. Theresa O’Brien, whom in essence, I less than charitably described as a “human Sham-Wow”- a harsh assessment that I still stand behind.

Theresa’s job is a thankless one to be sure- she’s the first point of contact for patients who have a grievance, and she’s the one who also gets to clean up whatever mess that may have been purposely overlooked by the doctors she works for, those being the highly esteemed Dr. Paul R. Coulombe and Dr. Anthony J. Katz, two experienced physicians who while having the ability to be regarded without fault by their peers, somehow lack the capacity to return phone messages in relation to their staff.

To be fair, it’s probably really hard to get a signal when you’re out on the golf course ignoring concerns regarding your employees, so I guess I should cut them some slack. Therefore, I do have a diminutive amount of empathy towards her plight… an exceedingly diminutive amount, I might add. Because in the end, she’s also the human speed bump getting in my way regarding settling this issue amicably. As I’ve noted in previous writings, it’s almost impossible to hold a doctor to account for what they’ve done or haven’t done, due to the fact that both the doctors office and their regulatory agency [ AKA: BOMEX ] will generally, and I’m quoting myself here;
 

 place the protection of the doctor long before the safeguarding of the patient, and both actively whitewash the issue for the benefit of the practice to the detriment of the public that filed the complaint in the first place. And both in the long run, present as morally bankrupt.

How comforting. The foxes not only guard the henhouse, they’re also the ones in charge of staffing it as well. I’m sure that’s for the best, right? After all, what screams “safeguarding of the patient” more than definitively deciding without public input that potential ones must never get to ascertain what a doctors been accused rightly or wrongly of? Yep. Nothing to see here folks, move along. Just be obedient little cattle, and make sure to pay us exorbitantly (and repeatedly) for that six minute visit we made you wait 45 minutes for. Sheesh. I never thought I’d live to see the day where La Cosa Nostra could be presented as the nice guys by way of a straightforward comparison.

At least the mob is somewhat honest- violent to be sure, but at least when they make an effort to cause great physical harm to you, it’s by design, and not outright alleged negligence. No matter what you may assume of their practices, even the most stalwart outsider has to begrudgingly admit they at least show love for their craft, which is more than I can say for my former physician.

One might tend to think that after twelve years of “practicing” she’d have acquired some form of competence in regards to proper bedside manner, but you’d be wrong. All kidding aside. I’ve had better treatment at the hands of a drunken mob of Jorōgumo*, and those wenches are just straight up bitches.*[Google it. It’s so worth the effort.]

Being the thorough sort, I followed up on my complaint to Theresa concerning Mrs. Paar with the only other option accessible to me, that being the bloated, lethargic (and completely owned by physicians) agency that actively shields doctors from public perusal, the aforementioned BOMEX.

Eagle-eyed readers may have caught the exceedingly subtle indication that I don’t entirely trust this alleged patient protection agency, and that personal belief was reinforced after discussing my concerns with Leah Russow, one of their investigators- now, before I enlighten you on why this is, let me start by saying Leah was a delight to chat with, despite the seriousness of my reason for contacting her in the first place- courteous, professional, and obliviously dedicated to her job. 

But in the same sense, so is Captain Phasma, and her bosses are Sith-lords, so I think we all know how that level of management tends to view disruptions in the workplace. I originally was going to let Theresa’s “investigation” of my claims stand, believing that only the most monolithic cretin lacking both basic humanity and common sense would fail to see why Mrs. Paar’s behavior was so reprehensible, and sadly in that respect, I was right.

Apparently, not only was said alleged monolithic cretin readily available, it was also purportedly taking growth hormone and using Crown Victorias as free weights, as evidenced by the only email Theresa ever sent to me regarding my legitimate grievance:

——————————————————————————————————————–

From: Teresa O’Brien <tjobrien61@hotmail.com>
To: “*********@yahoo.com” <*********@yahoo.com>
Sent: Tuesday, October 13, 2015 7:52 PM
Subject: Paradise Valley Family Medicine

 

Mr. Reich:

We have investigated your concerns and have found the care and treatment provided by Dr. Paar to be appropriate. We will provide copies of your medical records to your new physicians upon completion of a medical records release form.

Sincerely,
Teresa O’Brien

Paradise Valley Family Medicine
————————————————————————————————————————-

Hmm. Odd. No reason to why she thought that was, nor is there any reference to the several complaints I discovered online about Dr. Paar that mirrored my personal experience, and had brought to her attention. It’s almost as if she was hoping that her highly evident ass-covering response would make me go away. I do have to admire the bravery, if not the outright chutzpah, in declaring that you investigated yourself, and shockingly… found nothing wrong. Given that display of failed professionalism, I might have been somewhat bubbling over with annoyance, and fueled by such- fired off the following email-
——————————————————————————————————————–

From: ********* <*********@yahoo.com>
To: Teresa O’Brien <tjobrien61@hotmail.com>
Sent: Wednesday, October 14, 2015 9:35 PM
Subject: RE: Paradise Valley Family Medicine

 
Mrs. O’Brien-
 
“We’ve investigated ourselves and found we did nothing wrong.”
 
What a shock. Nobody who’s heard of what your doctor did thinks’ what she did was appropriate, but you feel otherwise. Tells me I’m dying, doesn’t explain why, doesn’t explain my blood-work, offers no comfort, and walks out without a further word, leaving me a total emotional wreck, as evidenced by your receptionist and the other patients in the lobby.

This sits well with you?
 
Of course it does. You’re morally rudderless, after all. 
So…. 
 
You will have your legal representation contact me as I will be pursuing action against your practice, and I will pursue all legal avenues of settling this matter to my satisfaction. And as an aside, I see that your offer of refunding my money was nothing more than lip service.
 

If you had no intention of doing the right thing, you shouldn’t have stated otherwise. May I suggest that in the future, you think before you offer false platitudes. Your doctor has a charted history of this type of behavior, yet you choose to ignore it.

I doubt the court and social media will, but we’ll see. I cannot wait to see what else remains to be discovered- I’m getting all tingly just thinking about it. In closing, you are at best, nothing more than a spineless cog in a medically – themed Ponzi scheme.

And sending me an email rather than a phone call? Supreme cowardice.
But then again, it’s what I’ve come to expect.
 
May you live in interesting times,
WMR
——————————————————————————————————————-

Sigh… I’m starting to think that I need to get cards printed up with how I handle lies, incompetence and sheer malingering, and hand them out to all the new people that I meet. I’m pretty sure it would save a lot of time and effort when the subject of what the best response would be if somebody decides to come at me, regardless of whether it’s from malice or ineptitude.

Think of the stirring motto on the Welsh Flag: “Y Ddraig Goch Ddyry Cychwyn” which is sometimes attributed as either “the red dragon advances”, or “the red dragon should go forward”- no matter which version you ascribe to, there’s still a big, red, fiercely ticked-off dragon coming for you, and there’s no way that’s ever going to end good, even if you do think Smaug is all shades of awesome. But there is an upside to all of this- if you’ve ever wondered what a chicken wing feels like right before it’s stripped clean, you’re about to have that masochistic itch scratched, and that right quick.

In Mrs. Paar’s case, that would be the filing of a formal complaint with BOMEX, not that I thought it would truly make any difference, but what the hey- life is all about rolling the dice, right? Granted, there were a few heartening early developments, such as Leah asking me for all the emails I sent Theresa, but that joy was short-lived, when Leah offered up details about the process that I did not know about, despite my previous dealings with this alleged protector of the people.

As I’ve noted in previous scrawlings, patients have zero rights when it comes to knowing what the end result is after they file a complaint against any doctor, which in my opinion, is bulls**t, plain and simple. If I can easily find out how many food code violations my local McDonalds has accrued, logic should hold that the same standard should apply to anyone who’s been given the colossal responsibility of maintaining my internal organs and the meat-suit that surrounds them.

But logic is no bulwark against the greed that has corrupted modern medicine, and it certainly is no match against the agency that places the value of a doctor’s reputation above that of their patient’s lives. Meet the new boss, same as the old boss, as it were. Cynically speaking, this shouldn’t come as a shock- money has long been the new model of Hippocrates for most doctors, and they’re going to make certain that their green river never stops flowing, no matter what or whom gets in the way.

This perversion of their sacred oath even extends into yet another pillar of our values, that being the Law. Granted, the current incarnation of our legal system favors the powerful and the wealthy as it always has, but even with all that- it has been known to actually work the way it should every now and then.  I know, I know…I was shocked myself.

But when it comes to suing a doctor… you might as well be attacking a tank with a pool noodle. Typically, unless a doctor has killed you, or maimed you to a heinous degree, no lawyer will take your case or even act on your behalf, as it isn’t financially worth their time. Nobility, thy name is not lawyer. In essence, the system is rigged- overseen by people for whom it’s in their best interest to keep things nice and quiet.  

So how does one hit 21 against a dealer who’s not only holding all the aces in their back pocket as well as up their sleeves? Well, the answer to this conundrum is quite simple…you won’t.

Silly little patient, your value is in being a financial asset only, not a moral one. And when it comes to personal ethics these days, you’d have better luck getting Donald Trump to front a Selena cover band before you’d see the majority of physicians today showing truly genuine remorse over their mistakes. In fact, BOMEX is under NO moral or legal obligation to bring past transgressions’ to light, even if cut of the same cloth.

Think about that for a second- even if your doctor has made the same fatal mistake twice, this “protection agency” isn’t allowed BY LAW to inform any one of that fact, nor is it subject to lawful subpoena if you’re trying to see if such events have occurred previously in regards to ongoing or future litigation, no matter how egregious. By way of example, you’d be offered more protection from the court system that tickets your neighbor for not cleaning up after their dog long before the agency that’s tasked with safeguarding your life.

Granted, while both deal with steaming plies of fecal material, only one group of clerks gets to actually brag about what they do for a living. My guess is that when questioned at parties, BOMEX’s hamstrung investigators probably just tell everyone they’re in charge of overseeing Flint’s water supply, as overall, it seems like you wouldn’t suffer the embarrassment of having to defend how you earn your paycheck nearly as much.

Please tell me again how this agency protects patients when you now know that their charter demands the contradictory. Go ahead… I could really use the laugh.  What isn’t funny is the knowledge that scores of patients have not only been most certainly harmed by this self-serving corruption of the public trust, but that there may be an unchecked pool of potentially dangerous and highly incompetent hacks mangling medicine who are protected wholesale.

Oddly, I don’t find this comforting, but it sits just fine with BOMEX, apparently.

Now, you would think that once a doctor has been reported, they’d try to remain low-key and not rock the boat, but that would require both concern and intelligence- two factors easily discarded when one is keenly aware that your actions will never see the light of public record, or face any consequences for the same. So what does a true professional do when faced with such a complaint?

Well, if you’re my ex-doctor, you proceed to double down on your previously documented course of density and lash out. At this point remember, I had been informed that Mrs. Paar had recused herself as my doctor and while she was no longer my acting physician, she could make decisions regarding my care under the auspices of a 30 day period. Rarely is this clause exercised by most departing doctors, but this she did, and with all the decorum of a feral chipmunk, I might add.

As a means to keep my condition under a semblance of control, I’m “on” a wide variety of varied medications – as expected, insulin falls within that category, but I also require two different drugs to ease symptoms of  diabetic-related nerve-pain (also know as neuropathy) which when left unchecked, makes catching your spawn-hammer in a vise seem a pleasant diversion.

One of these medications is the highly addictive and tightly controlled opiate known as Oxy-Contin, which in regards to my need is (fortunately) an exceedingly low dose- hardly enough to drop a toddler, but still handy nonetheless. Typically, I can make a 30 day supply last almost three months, as for me, it’s more or less an edge smoother in regards to the daily pain I experience.
 
The go-to workhorse in my bag of tricks is Pregobalin, more commonly known by its brand name, Lyrica. What this particular medication does better than any of the others I’ve tried is not only tone down the nerve misfires that cause my constant pain, but on the best days- can beat that bitch flatter than a pancake. Now for clarity, Lyrica is NOT a narcotic, nor is it generally addictive, although the packaging warnings say it can be.  And while it can have severe side effects that can cause injury or death, I’ve never had any. In fact, I’ve been taking it six years with zero issues.

Here’s where it gets fun- it’s also bloody expensive, typically costing $200.00 for a 30 day supply, or $2400.00 per year. For someone like myself who currently doesn’t have medical insurance, it would be impossible for me to take this drug without the fact I’m on an aid program from the manufacturer who dispenses it to me for free after meeting certain guidelines.

Damn Socialism giving away free stuff, and all that. The way I receive this drug is by FedEX, and when it comes, I have to be there to sign for it, as it is a controlled substance. As you may imagine, since I’m working during the day, more often than not I miss them, and have to arrange a pick-up at one of their numerous distribution centers, usually within 24 hours of said attempted delivery.
 
In this last instance, the delivery happened on a Thursday, I picked it up Friday afternoon, and while it seemed the packing envelope was lighter than normal, I attributed it to the fact being that it was a 30 day supply this time around [See previous blog] rather than the standard 90. Note to self: next time, rip open the damn envelope and check. When I got home later that night, I discovered to my confusion that not only was the packaging different, so was the prescribed dose.

With a sense of slowly dawning horror, I realized that Mrs. Paar had reduced my dosage of 225mg twice daily to 100mg. Knowing that the 450mg daily dose was barely cutting it (hence the need for the Oxy as a backup) this made no sense whatsoever, and since her office was now closed until the following Monday, there was also no way to ascertain why she made the decision to change my six year protocol of treatment without either asking me or more importantly- informing me

I’m not really sure what the math comes to, but isn’t that an almost 75% reduction of the painkiller that barely works? I’m no doctor, but then again neither is Mrs. Paar, if she thought that this loomed large as a good idea. So trying to remain calm, I take close to my normal dose (4 pills instead of two) and ride out the discomfort of being under-medicated, and call her office first thing Monday, where I am sadly once again connected to their human Sham-Wow, Theresa.
 
Actually. let’s make that the Chinese-made dollar-store version of a Sham-Wow- this woman couldn’t clean up after a sea-sick Tardigrade*, much less settle an issue that requires the utmost in tact and basic humanity. [*Google it. they’re truly fascinating.] If ever comes the time for an award for sheer deflection while mouthing useless platitudes, Theresa will stand out from the pack by several arm lengths.

In fact, I’m pretty sure she’ll set the bar so high God will bang his head on it at some point. After putting forth some impressive verbal gymnastics, Theresa informs that the reason for reducing my Lyrica was that Mrs. Paar was “concerned” about its effect on my “failing” kidneys. Hmmm. Interesting… she’s “concerned” about the long-term effects of a drug I’ve been taking six years with no side effects, but not at all concerned about the highly addictive narcotic she also prescribed that can allegedly cause damage? That seems odd, does it not? But it gets better. Not only does she reduce the medication with a proven track record, she neglects to prescribe new meds to take its place.

That’s some sheer f**king genius going on there “doc”- not  only are you highly incompetent at delivering bad news, you apparently think that crippling pain is the gift that keeps on giving. Come Christmas, I’m gonna get you something nice to return the favor. I’m not sure what form my appreciation should take, but I’m thinking that something along a two week sabbatical strapped to a ravenous fire-ant mound while slathered with honey would be a good place to start. Not because I’m an angry person per se, (although I have valid cause to be) it’s just so that Bleach Job Barbie would have a personal insight into the pain bus she threw me under without so much as an actual thought to, or any input from, the person it would directly affect- that person being me.

As I’m dealing with the additional news that I’m going to be buying a ticket for the pain train, Theresa glibly asks “what kind of pain I’m in”, as an alleged means to gauge just how much false concern she needs to project over the phone. What kind of pain am I in, you ask? Well… I can tell you it’s not “happy” pain, the kind where you see a long lost friend again, or “fun” pain like when you’re having really good sex, or even “gleeful” pain where you find yourself tied to a chair while an Asian dominatrix wearing thigh boots tells you how you’ve been disobedient and are going to be punished the way a naughty boy should.

But perhaps I’ve said too much.
 
Getting back on track, WHO CARES WHAT KIND OF PAIN I’M IN? it’s pain– it’s the reason why I take pain medication and came to see that malingering masquerader in the first place. By Odin’s beard, you’re more useless than Charlie Sheen at a Mormon longhouse, and if I didn’t know better, I’d opine you got the job strictly on your innate ability to mimic a Pakistani call center, minus the social skills and ability to understand English, you cretinous twat. I swear if this human Sham-wow gets any denser, they’re eventually going to seal her in a 55 gallon oil drum and bury it inside a salt mine. I’m not entirely sure where idiocy like this is produced, but somebody needs to call and inform that it’s ok to “smoke them if you got them”, if you catch my suggestion.

So to recap: essential and useful meds cut 75%, highly addictive medication left unmolested, and no back-up prescription prescribed- all without a single consultation or discussion with me, the actual F***ING PATIENT. And this, as Theresa so brusquely described in her only missive, is “appropriate”? I shudder to think what “inappropriate” might portend- odds are it involves breaking three biblical laws and involves a dyslexic wombat wearing latex thigh-highs. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, it’s just not my idea of a good Tuesday, and the fact I try not to judge.
 
As the call wraps up with no serious attempt on Theresa’s part to do something pro-active about my quickly-ratcheting pain level, I let her know that I’m going to pursue legal action, and her response is…. crickets. Smug ones. Like Pharma-douche level, is what I’m getting at here, which is oddly appropriate, given the situation. After all, why be even mildly concerned when you know you can’t and won’t be held liable for your incompetence? I swear- if I had known of all the feuds I could have settled permanently without fear of reprisal, I would have gone to med school long before becoming an artist- the mere thought of exploiting sanctioned idiocy for my own personal gain makes me positively tingly, if truth be told.

Thus begins almost four months of a personal living hell, punctuated with bouts of relentless insomnia, weight loss, the searing blistering pain of a thousand red-hot knives stabbing me over every square inch of my body, along with the unforeseen loss of my new job as well, due to physical issues affecting my skills, helped in no small part by Mrs. Paar’s lack of concern. Now despite all this, there was an upside to be had: at least none of my horrendously debilitating pain would be borne by Mrs. Paar’s delicate as fairy wings conscience, which as one may surmise, did alleviate some stress off my engulfed by nerve-fire shoulders.

Zen. It’s there if you look for it. All you gotta do… is really believe.

But as we wind down to the end of my opus regarding Gypsy Faith Paar and her allegedly obvious inadequacies as both a competent doctor and part-time human being, one question looms, and it’s a nagging one that’s always bugged me: have you ever heard the phrase, “practicing barista” or even “practicing janitor”? And if you were to ponder my hypothetical query for a mere moment further, has there ever been a time in your life where you’ve uttered the words: “That’s my best friend Sergio, he’s a “practicing” pizza delivery guy” in all seriousness? Of course not, since we all know Sergio’s a practicing male stripper, but that’s beside the point.

Hell, we even give freshmen senators the benefit of the doubt- we don’t simply infer they’re “practicing” selling their votes, we take for granted that they’re already well on their way to being professional scumbags, and give them their due credit. So why do they always say a doctor is “practicing” their craft, yet rarely (if ever) apply that term to any other discipline outside of the Law? Now, an optimist might suggest that the term suggests both fields are ever-changing, so that there can never exist a point where you’re not “practicing” some new-found knowledge that requires incorporation into your established skill-set, but that’s undeservedly noble for my jaded world-view, and it’s also wildly inaccurate when set against all the other trades- after all, no matter what you do, there’s always something new to learn in regards to your chosen endeavor, and that never ends…

Ever. So why all the calculated humble-bragging? Please note, I did say “calculated”, for a reason. In my experience, most (not all) doctors are supremely arrogant, the level hovering somewhere between washed-up 70’s rock star and opera diva. But they’re also keenly aware that such a persona doesn’t play well among us mere mortals, hence the pathological inference that their reason for becoming doctors was altruistically driven, a noble desire to make a difference in the amount of human suffering- something Mrs. Paar does attempt, but much like her alleged bedside manner, can’t really seem to get the hang of, no matter how many times she may “practice” it.

The inherent cynicism I possess dryly notes that when it comes right down to the brass tacks, the majority of anguish these specific doctors ease up is mainly the type that affects their bank account- no more, no less. No matter whether they’re good or bad, concerned or not, the one thing that they always regard long before their patients is the money and the title- the rest is extraneous.

Need proof? Just look at Mrs. Paars response to me after she informed me I was “dying before her eyes”- there was no follow-up advice, no concern in how I would take the news, no, she immediately let me know that payment was still expected, but at least it would be “discounted”, bless her frigid little heart. Remember, she did work her peroxide-fueled ass off for almost six minutes, and that’s what I relly needed to focus on at that moment… her future BMW payment.

Now I know what you’re thinking:

“Gee all you’ve really done is point out over this four story arc is that at worst, she’s allegedly unprofessional, possibly petty, and may share some of the characteristics of the iceberg that took out the Titanic, but just when, oh great and terrible Artbitch, are you going to highlight her so-called “incompetence”?”

You ask. I deliver, and it’s just shy of awesomely epic, if I do say so myself. And I do. And I shall. Repeatedly.
 
After what seemed like an eternity, I finally managed to secure an appointment with a new GP and as immediately bring their assistant up to speed with a short (for me, anyway) recapping of the events that had transpired. To say they were incredulous would be under-selling it by miles, but even so, they take down all my info, including the lab tests Mrs. Paar supposedly consulted in making her assessment of my imminent demise. Leaving so she could brief my soon-to-be doctor when he gets done with the patient before me, I’m there for roughly 15 minutes or so wondering whom it was that decided that all the consultation rooms in AZ had to be painted beige and decked out with mass-produced southwest posters depicting pottery and Navajo blankets.

Seriously. Is there a committee or something I don’t know about?
A question for another time, I guess.

When my new doctor comes in, two things strike immediate: this dude is tall, and he looks pissed. If this were the “Bachelorette”, not only would I have not been given a rose, it looks as if my parting gift would have been jammed down my throat sideways using my own snapped-off legs to do so. Great. I’m off to a fine start and I haven’t even gotten to the “hello, I’m Wayne” part, which let’s be honest- is typically where it usually starts going south for me.

Holding my lab tests in his hand he says, and I’m paraphrasing here: “Hi, I’m Doctor  *****- first, I’m reestablishing your pain protocols immediately, as there was no medical need to reduce them in the first place, and second- you’re not dying. Ok, you are… but at pretty much the same rate as the rest of us, I’m happy to say.

Also, your kidneys and liver are not, I repeat, NOT in failure- your kidney numbers are at 51, failure numbers are around 10, and across the board, these are the numbers I’d expect to see in a diabetic man your age. If anything, your labs signify a slight amount of tweaking is required, but not much else. As for your liver…. well, there’s nothing in these recent labs that indicate any other issue than what I’d expect to see.”

Wait a minute. Hold the phone. WTF? Are you telling me that after four months of sheer fucking physical and mental anguish, that other than pain that can be eventually medicated down, I’m essentially fine?

[inner monologue]
Ok, get a grip… you will not, I repeat, NOT get in your car, stop off at your storage unit, pick up your lucky chainsaw with matching splattering smock and go pay Mrs. Paar a visit at her office. Why?
 
Well, first- because violence isn’t the answer, second- because if I plan this, the truly ugly word
“pre-mediated” gets tossed around the courtroom, and third- my smock is still at the cleaners, and they’ve been asking way too many questions lately. And besides… it’s Monday, and we have a heavy week ahead- it’s much too busy to have to bother with picking up some much-needed, and ultimately necessary, quicklime. Not to mention establishing a believable alibi on top of it all.

In the end, it all comes down to free time, and sadly, I’m just swamped.

“In fact,” says my newest BFF, “there’s not only no current notation in your records regarding an issue with your liver, none of these labs has any recent bearing on your liver health at all- I have no idea how she even came to this conclusion, as it would be like me having to go to an event in California, and deciding to park my car in New York.”

[Inner monologue. Again.]
Hmmm. You know, if I drove pretty fast with the windows rolled down, I’m pretty sure my smock would be mostly dry by the time I got there….

Nonono- this isn’t a productive train of thought, and I have to approach this the way a Creative like myself should- with an artistic bent. Normally, that would involve running scenarios through my psyche wherein I devise karmic balance utilizing that age-old gambit of dyspeptic wombats, but I’ve been told that in the long run, they eat way too much and that they’re terrible conversationalists.

Sigh. C’est la vie.

So. Not only has bleach-brained Barbie caused me great emotional distress by leading me to believe that I’m dying, not only has she help advance physical pain which has severely impacted my life, she’s also managed with all her years of alleged dark side training to aim her Death Star at my metaphorical Alderran and miss not by inches, but by light-years, hitting the totally innocent Tattooine instead, by way of pop culture example.

Damn Sith Lords. Always screwing up the weekend. But to quote the human Sham-Wow, she: “found the care and treatment provided by Dr. Paar to be appropriate.“, and therefore, I apparently have no right to be upset, or expect humanistic reparation for my suffering and emotional distress. So what’s an angry, vengeful, and obviously completely justified Artbitch to do?

I can’t find a lawyer to take my complaint to its logical zenith, although all those I contacted agreed (rather directly) that she needed to be sued out of existence. It’s also obvious her ass-covering  bosses could care less if Mrs. Paar maims somebody as evidenced by their silence, and only God knows if BOMEX will do the job it claims to do.* [*Allegedly] Granted, there’s a ton of vigilante scenarios manifesting, most of which end with the punch line “Goodbye, Mr. Bond”, but as I stated earlier, violence isn’t the answer- although the version involving Wile E. Coyote and his arsenal of ACME products should be. The thought of my ex-doctor being flattened by a giant anvil falling from the sky as she’s attempting to tell the Roadrunner he’s dying does strike as funny, but in the end, is essentially pointless.

After all, she’d just re-inflate her head with an air-pump, and I’d be right back where I started- angry and feeling powerless against a rigged system. But that feeling is nothing but ether and smoke- I can do something, and that’s spread the word about this [allegedly] uncaring, unqualified, unethical and utterly soulless practitioner, and thanks to the vast lands of the Internet, I not only can do this once, I can do it FOREVER. While I sleep. Bathe. Take in a Milla Jovovich movie. Or anything else I choose to do, 24/7. That’s the beauty of the digital age- there will never not be a time where this series of screeds doesn’t pop up in regards to her name or whatever unfortunate practice hires her.

I may not have taken her metaphorically out, but I have left a wound that will never heal, and that’s almost good enough for me. Plus, it’s gonna itch like crazy, so that’s just extra icing on the cupcake of barbed bitterness. Misdiagnosis. Mental torture. Misery. And for the privilege of being subjected to all of this dross, you get to pay exorbitantly, and they get to avert responsibility.* [*Allegedly]

That kids, is what us cynics like to call one f***ed-up deck of cards.

But there is an addendum I’d like to point out to both Mrs. Paar and her alleged Renfield if they’re reading this right now.* [*They very well may be, since I send them emails regarding these postings, because at my core, I am a people person, and after all.. who doesn’t like seeing their name in print?]

The grand total of people who’ve read [until now] is in the thousands, and I’ve personally responded to over 250 emails- granted, that’s not anywhere near Kate Upton numbers, but it’s still pretty damn significant nonetheless. At the very least, there are now scores of people who will at least hopefully reconsider going to her, or the practice that puzzlingly keeps her around, despite easily searchable complaints.

Google. Apparently, it’s just not for downloading naked Halle Berry photos and seeing how truly important you aren’t. Not that I’ve ever checked, as that’s just beyond self- absorbed, and as we all know, I hardly ever talk about me. And I have no idea where all those pictures of Halle Berry on my laptop came from- it’s a mystery. One that sadly, will never be solved. Scooby- Doo and the gang be damned.

So, I’m done. That’s it. I’ve purged my soul and more importantly, my life of this alleged peroxided parasite, and that’s the truly healthy part. But even better, I took a cue from my former doctor, and now know that all I’ve written wasn’t only necessary…

It was appropriate.

“The mistakes of doctors are innumerable. They err as a rule out of optimism as to the treatment, and pessimism as to the outcome.” – Marcel Proust, Sodom and Gomorrah

“Shabelsky: Doctors are the same as lawyers, the sole difference being that lawyers only rob you, but doctors rob you and kill you too…” – Anton Chekov, Ivanov


A Bugg’s Strife PT. 3 (Paar-ty People)

They say a little knowledge is a dangerous thing, but it’s not one half so bad as a lot of ignorance.”
– Terry Pratchett

Greetings, Blogiteers!

It has been a rough two months. I finally got a great gig going, evened out some of the medical issues I’ve been plagued with since my ex-doctor threw me under an entire fleet of buses, and then next thing I know, my position at work gets “dissolved”, and I’m being fired by text.

Granted, it was a very nice text, but still… yeeouch.

So after almost nine years of solid semi-dependable employment, I find myself with updated resumes in hand, looking for work, and finding zilch. On top of that bubbling cauldron of annoyance, my 1 ½ year old ASUS laptop is back in the shop suffering the same issue I just paid to have fixed, forcing me to once again, go back to my 14 year old IBM Thnkpad to help save the day.

I’m seriously thinking of buying her some bitching new stickers as a way to say thank you. As you can see from the photos, she’s a clunky retro piece of tech, but she still kicks ass. All that aside, my last piece detailing the travails with my ex-doctor hit home pretty hard, much to my sheer delight. If there is one thing I just love doing, it’s ripping the mask off of the incompetent and the untrustworthy, and exposing them to the light. Sadly, they don’t turn into powder or an ashen corpse ala the Blade movies, but it’s still fun nonetheless.

Because in reality, that’s all I can actually do, as evidenced by this recent photo of an Arizona doctor learning about a complaint being filed against them. Granted while this doesn’t depict my doctor, it does*cover her attitude rather succinctly. *[allegedly.]

More on this to come, but let us pick up where I last left off- the insipidly decorated offices at Paradise Family Medicine, where my ex-doctor, one Gypsy Faith Paar, inflicts her craft upon an unsuspecting and wholly trusting populace. As you may recall from my last narrative chronicling my being discharged from “Dr.” Paar’s care, I found myself at that time in utter mental disarray, due to her inexpressive and indifferent attitude.

The only way I could accurately describe her so-called bedside manner, would be to regrettably violate some tenet of Godwins Law, which is described as such: Godwin’s law (or Godwin’s rule of Nazi analogies) is an internet adage asserting that “As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches- that is, if an online discussion (regardless of topic or scope) goes on long enough, sooner or later someone will compare someone or something to Hitler or Nazism.”

Now, in the spirit of all-inclusive fairness, I would say that comparing *Mrs. Paar [* As stated in my last screed, I’ll reserve the title “Doctor” for those who actually deserve the accolade from this point on] to Hitler are not only a stretch, but also greatly insulting overall. It’s a ridiculous assessment at best, and completely slanderous at worst.

However? I am pretty comfortable in assigning her an equality to that of some of his lesser subordinates, if truth be told. And no, I’m not referring to Dr. Josef  Mengele, I’m thinking more along the lines of his college roommate, Herschel. Nice enough guy, just not really qualified to practice medicine, so much as inflict it.

I’ll let you in on a little secret: I have, let’s call it a “thing”, for the darkness of human nature. When I was younger, I seriously wanted to be a criminal profiler- you know, like William Petersen in the 1986 film Manhunter, written and directed by Michael (TV’s “Miami Vice”) Mann?
[Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NZd4YxCeODU ]

If one were to peruse my personal library at my home, they would see an expansive collection of the types of books expected in the lair of a professional artist and writer- tomes on the history of art and it’s creators, art techniques, artist biographies, and the like are all well represented. But as with most things concerning the human experience, there is also a dark side, and it just fascinates the dickens out of me, leading to my fairly dense collection of case studies, journals, and narratives regarding the histories of the criminally disturbed mind.

Thank whatever deity you revere that one can’t be judged solely by their nighttime reading selection or browser history, as my excuse of “I am a writer after all” would most likely fall upon deaf ears. And if I were to have my personal eccentricities factored in, my hide would surely be as tanned as that of George Hamilton on a Spanish beach.

So, where’s this train of thought going, you ask, and what does any of it have to do with my former doctor? Trust me- it’ll make sense in the end, as my account will touch upon some of the same topics covered in my hobbyists library: arrogance, narcissism, and a complete lack of empathy.

All the classic defining hallmarks of the egotist, or in this specific case, an individual who while failing the criteria to merit a fishing license, was somehow granted the privilege of obtaining a medical one. As a Creative, I’ve always ascribed to the concept of whenever you are asked to do something outside your comfort zone, always say, “sure I can do it”, and then go do some research on how to actually get it done.

While this works great for creative endeavors, I wouldn’t recommend it for anything involving the mechanical or the medical, but that common sense approach hasn’t stopped my ex-doctor from charging ahead, Alien chest-burster style. To quote the late Kurt Vonnegut:

“If you can do a half-assed job of anything, you’re a one-eyed man in a kingdom of the blind.”

And where my former physician is concerned, her aptitude at half-assing her job is akin to Donald Trump’s ability at alienating every gender and race on planet Earth within five minutes of him speaking his mind. Sure, it’s an impressive skill-set, but it’s really not something one should brag about, in my humble opinion. My ex-doctor on the other hand however, still maintains that same level of delusional hubris in my modest estimation, and her supercilious quirk literally, as well as figuratively, nearly crippled me in the short term.

But as usual, I’m putting the bleach way ahead of the bottled blonde, so let’s get right into it.

When we were last together, I had just been icily informed that I probably shouldn’t make plans to catch the upcoming Captain America movie, as my kidneys and liver were failing, and according to the peroxided authority that was then standing before me, I was, and I quote: “dying before her eyes”, which she as a physician, wasn’t going to have on her [ha, ha, wait for it…] “conscience”.

How dare she. I didn’t sit through the dreck that was Iron Man 3 so that I could fall behind in regards to the Marvel Universe. So after being talked off the ledge by the practices’ receptionist, I then spent another 45 minutes sitting in my car in the parking lot getting my metaphorical s**t together, as one is wont to do.
  
After a few hours spent reestablishing my equilibrium of calm, my hysteria was slowly replaced by an emerging sense of pure white-hot anger- there’s a way to deliver horrendous news like that, and a merged giggling condescension is definitely not the way to do so, just in case anybody asks.

Trust me on this.

if I were to be brutally honest, the first thought I had as to how to handle said sense of fury was to drive back to her office, get her alone in a room, and start punching in the middle of that conceitedly smirking face until I could see the first rays of daylight radiating on the other side. Now for the very public record, I would never engage in, or advocate for, any form of violence directed at a woman or women in general, as it’s a barbaric response to the situation, no matter how you try to justify it.

if I ever feel the need to “hurt” a woman, I’ll do it in the most direct and mature way possible-  I’ll make sure she sees me walking out of a shower wearing nothing save my official Motorhead shower cap and Britney Spears water wings.

My ex-fiancé is still going to therapy, and that all happened when I actually had abs. But considering that I’m also not allowed to launch people using a trebuchet, it did, at first, seem like the most practical and workable solution within my grasp. Fortunately, the fact that I was 30 miles away during the rush hour and way too pretty for prison, helped remove that gratifying option from my bag of go-to tricks. Instead, I decided to take the high road and do what I’ve been told reasonable and mature adults do- that is, complain to a higher up about what I felt was an unconscionable breach of ethical behavior.

I think you already know what the next joke I’m going to make is, as you’ve all seen it before- the one where I note that my sense of optimism isn’t pulling it’s weight? Yep, that’s the one, and it’s still true, now more than ever. My birthday is coming up soon, so if anyone wants to buy me a new one, feel free- I don’t even care what size or color it is, as long as it actually works.

As some of my more loyal readers may know, a doctor’s office isn’t like your typical business- the options that exist for you to complain about your local Fillabertos, really doesn’t carry over as to where the medical profession is concerned. You really only have two options when it gets right down to brass tacks, and those are these: the office manager for the practice, and BOMEX*. *[Board Of Medical Examiners]

I’ve noted dealing with both entities in blogs regarding my previous doctor, [See the Archive] and not-too-surprisingly, zip has changed in regards to the current situation- both place the protection of the doctor long before the safeguarding of the patient, and both actively whitewash the issue for the benefit of the practice to the detriment of the public that filed the complaint in the first place.

And both in the long run, present as morally bankrupt.

Whether you believe it or not, I do know what you’re thinking: “Bob Ross called, and he wants his broad brush back”- and normally, I would agree with you. On the surface, it would seem that I am issuing a rather sweeping edict in regards to a particular profession, but I assure you that as someone who’s become very intimately involved with the bloated narcissism that masquerades as healing in this country, I’m being almost chillingly diplomatic.

Look at it from this POV- if you graduate last in your high school class, they’ll most likely call you an Assistant Manager at Arby’s, but if you manage to graduate last in your medical school, they’ll still call you “doctor”- puts it all in perspective, doesn’t it? Now, I’m not suggesting even for a moment that Mrs. Paar was in the lowest percentile when her degree was optimistically handed to her,  but given my experience in regards to her personal ethic, I would hazard a guess that she also didn’t win any prize ribbons in the bedside manner segment of her med school contest.

On the upside, I am pretty confident that if her school had ever offered an overbilling for services actually rendered curriculum, she would totally ace that, and as we all know- that’s really the main concern for most doctors in this country- getting paid first, caring about your actions later, if at all. And when you know your misconduct is going to be sheltered from the prying eyes of the public via your employer and fellow colleagues, it’s easy to see why most physicians are so utterly arrogant.

If I knew for certain that my actions wouldn’t be held accountable, I’d probably be drag racing through Scottsdale Fashion Square on a daily basis. Wearing nothing but glittery combat boots and a smug sense of invulnerability. It’s no stretch of the imagination to extend that worldview to my ex-doctor. Minus the boots that is- she’s always struck me as more of a practical wedge kind of gal.

Back to the action.

So as I mentioned, I decided to call the practice and issue a complaint, via Teresa O’Brian, the office manager, which in turn, led to a 45 minute phone call wherein I rehashed what I felt was a severe, if not obvious, lapse in ethical behavior. Pitching square down the middle, she neither confirms or denies absolution on behalf of Mrs. Paar, but she does seemingly agree to my terms that I want resolution within the week. 

Cue that defective sense of optimism again, it’s working overtime. While drunk. And speed-balling meth through it’s eyes. Noting that Mrs. Paar recused herself as my doctor without providing me a referral to another one, she states that she’ll “take care of it”, an assertion that I note isn’t actually her duty to handle, since it was under Mrs. Paar’s purview, but it was appreciated nonetheless.

The promised email with the referrals arrives the next day, and is directly responsible for the choice of my current doctor, who so far, kicks ass in ways Mrs. Paar couldn’t  begin to touch with her glacial indifference- but I’ll highlight this disparity further down the narrative. As I await the official response from Theresa regarding Mrs. Paar’s behavior, I draft the following email as a follow-up and send it two days after filing my complaint:
————————————————————-
Mrs. O’ Brien-

Thank you for giving me the info that should have been the responsibility of my former doctor- I do appreciate it.

Regardless of your professional actions, I am still infuriated at the callous disregard displayed by Mrs. Parr in reference to her dismissal of me as a patient. I say “Mrs. Parr”, because the title of “Doctor” should not be bestowed upon one who’s bedside manner is as warming and comforting as an ice floe populated by rabidly carnivorous grizzlies.

Everyone I have spoken to regarding her actions have been universally appalled, (the phrase “WTF?” being used more than once) and if this person is considered a viable asset to your practice, I feel sorry for your soon to be diminished client base

Per our conversation, three options remain open to you in regards to how you wish to rectify this situation. Please feel free to choose accordingly as to what you feel is in your best interest.

No matter what route you wish to eventually pursue, please be advised that I WILL be filling a formal complaint with BOMEX nonetheless- not that they’ll actually do anything, and not that this complaint will ever be made public, since it’s doctors covering for other doctors, but at least I’ll have the satisfaction of not knowing what (if any) actions they’ll take, since I as a patient, aren’t allowed to know the outcome of the complaint I file under their guidelines.

I wish my industry worked like that. It must be nice to have made sure the rules protect only your interests while still getting to treat people like the insignificant cash cows your industry now likens us to.

So you can relax. In the end, no one save outside my vast circle will ever know that your office has employed a heartless, gutless, and I might add, highly condescending practitioner of medicine.

Hopefully, her “practicing” medicine will eventually lead to that glorious day where she’s actually competent at it.

In closing, I thank you again for all your help. As I said- it is truly appreciated.

respectfully,
Wayne Michael Reich

PS: Extra kudos go out to your tall brunette receptionist who unlike your doctor and her just as thick nurse, seemed genuinely concerned about my mental state after Mrs. Parr’s indifferent delivery of potentially devastating news.

If I had attempted to leave in such a highly agitated state, I’d probably have wrapped my car around an SUV- so please let her know I really do appreciate her taking the time to “talk me down” and not charging me for the six minute “consultation” that Mrs. Parr felt she earned.

Your receptionist is a rock. Mrs. Parr should crawl back under hers.”

————————————————————-

See? Direct. Appreciative. Giving credit where it’s due. And ultimately, chock-full of warm fuzzies. I’m telling you, when my days of blogging and writing a magazine gig are done, I’m so writing a kids book. Maybe something with a dragon. Or Zombies. Or zombie dragons. I smell a Newberry Medal!

Un-surprisingly, It’s also kind of well known that I’m really not good at biding my time in regards to waiting on the resolution of simple issues that I feel should be rectified quickly, and this situation was no exception. One thing that had been bugging me in retrospect was how smoothly Mrs. Paar had kicked me to the curb with nary a trace of emotional upset on her part, and with both time on my hands and hi-speed internet access at my disposal, I decided to take my gut instincts out for a drive, and see what the ol’ Google had to say about my most recent of the exes.

Did I ever mention that sometimes my gut succeeds where my optimism fails?

In short, I did find more than a few things. Not the mother lode by far, but enough nuggets to let me know Mrs. Paar isn’t exactly walking around with a spotless reputation. Naturally, I felt the need to share these tidbits with Theresa, since as we all know by now, resolving problems is kind of my niche, and since I was [according to Mrs. Paar] “dying before her eyes”, I was under the impression my time walking this ball of mud was growing short, and I really didn’t want to die with an unfinished “to-do” list.

Or an undeleted browser history. All kidding aside, don’t forget to clear it. Your family will thank you. So, a mere two days after I sent off my first electronic missive, I cast forth this:
———————————————————
“Mrs. O’Brien-

Just thought you’d find this interesting.

These are public reviews of Mrs. Parr’s professional demeanor. As I noted to you during our phone conversation, she seemed rather “smooth” in how rude she was regarding her recusing herself as my doctor. Seems I’m not the only one that feels that way.

Unprofessional behavior, misdiagnosis, and a frosty haughtiness do not a doctor make.
[Link:http://www.vitals.com/doctors/Dr_Gypsy_Paar/reviews]

Here’s the first one:

Uncaring by Patient who will not return on Jun 5th, 2015

“So if you’re looking for a practitioner who brings you back a half hour after your appointment and keeps you waiting another 15 mins while she discusses her own baby crying at night with the other staff,who wants to get in and out as quick as possible, who thinks it a burden to prescribe your meds,whose staff will NOT return calls, and who personally won’t return a call either, then you’ve come to your dream physician. For me it was a nightmare and I am a health professional. My dog gets better care at the vet.”

Yee-ouch. Here’s another one:

Feb 13th, 2015

“Not at all a fan of Dr. Paar. 100% agree with other reviews that she did not listen to my issues I came in for, nor did she even pretend to care. Moreso made me feel bad about my issues. Instead she “diagnosed” me with several other illnesses that are not related to what my visit was for whatsoever and truly made me feel emberassed and discouraged for coming to see her in the first place. I will never put time or money into her care again. Word of advice, if you are needing a family doctor specialist, very easy to go see someone else or if need of a specialist, find it yourself instead of wasting your time here.”

Dang. That was cold. But this? Wow:

worst DR I’ve seen in my life by upset pre-med student on Nov 26th, 2013

“Nice lady, but this is not her field. She absolutely does NOT deserve to have her license, a disgrace to the medical community I’m sorry. I went in for physical and she diagnosed me with a heart murmur at the age of 20, I went to a cardiologist to spend hundreds of dollars on tests for them to tell me my paperwork was “boring” and nothing was wrong. Again I made the mistake to see her, she tested me for STD’s which was irrelevant for my reason going to her. S

he told me I tested positive for IgG herpes 2 and had me leave the office in a panic, telling me I have herpes. I immediately made an appt with my gynecologist and showed her my results, she told me “we haven’t tested for this in years, 96% of the population tests positive for these antibodies. Can only test for herpes if theres lesions”. Ive NEVER had a lesion in my life , and Dr. Paar “forgot” to mention that to me. Thank God I’m attending medical school next to replace these noctors . I will not be seeing her again, anyone else is more than welcome to see her and pay a 25 dollar co pay to get scared and misdiagnosed.”

That felt oddly familiar for some reason. Here’s two oldies but goodies:

Dec 3rd, 2012

“I’m surprised that Dr. T with his great reputation in our community has decided to bring on a person like Dr. Parr. She is short with me every time I go in to see her and will never try and fix an issue or illness herself. She always refers me out. She will make you wait 45 min. Then give you only 5 min. Of her time! She is rude and a waste of time and money!”

Oct 22nd, 2012

“Im a healthcare professional myself and was horrified at the way I was treated, I overheard her snapping at the staff and waited over an hour past my appt 45 min of that wearing see thru paper, that was fine as I assumed that she had a patient she needed to spend extra time with – but when she got to me she was not nice and told me right away that she didnt have time to discuss my severe depression at a well women check, the exam should cover all areas of concern and I had to really work myself up to ask about medication for depression and she made me feel horrible and was very demeaning in the way she spoke to me, She made me late for my patients but even with being severly depressed and running late I was able to make my patients feel as tho i cared about their issues and not only to I assess all body systems as well as depression at each visit I am kind and compassionate even when Im running behind schedule.”

By the way, this took me all of five seconds to unearth this information. Why wasn’t this a concern for your hiring manager? I’m thinking BOMEX will definitely take an interest in my complaint now, as there seems to be a rather clear pattern of behavior here. But more interestingly, what else is out there to be found once I really start digging? This is just ONE website- there are literally scores of others I’m going to start scanning as soon as my schedule permits.

I’d suggest you do the same, and give serious thought to terminating her employment before her callousness and incompetence lead to a patient either dying or pursuing the wrong course of treatment due to a misdiagnosis. Speaking of which, there is also one curious thing I was thinking of last night while testing my blood sugar, which oddly, is well within normal parameters for the last three weeks despite Mrs. Parr’s insistence that I was “dying before her eyes”, and that is this:

If I’m so sick, [REMEMBER: I’m “dying”, according to your practicing med student] then why oh why did she not offer any follow-up advice, like oh, I don’t know… something along the lines of:

“GET YOUR DYING A** TO A HOSPITAL!!!” or even, “Get a new doctor ASAP!” You know, like a DOCTOR OF MEDICINE is supposed to do?

Does she think the Hippocratic Oath is a Disney character?

I’m thinking the answer here is “yes”, but let’s not quibble over her inability to follow through on the several years of specialized training that obviously didn’t take. Even if this type of behavior occurs randomly, one outburst is still one too many, and mark my words- she will eventually harm her patients, whether it is by her indifference to their problems, or by her misdiagnosis causing them to seek out treatment that may eventually do more harm than good.

But hey- I’m an ex-patient, so my opinion probably doesn’t matter for much in the long run- after all, I am “dying”, so maybe it’s the fear of the unknown that’s talking.

Who knows? In closing, I look forward to your decision in rectifying this matter come Monday, and I wish you a relaxing weekend.

Respectfully,
Wayne Michael Reich”
————————————

Once again direct, but this time around, I added a scoop of helpfulness, and who wouldn’t appreciate that? Mrs. Paar maybe, but you’d think her office manager might take an interest. As I’ve noted numerous times before, it seems that in every office there’s always a lackey whose man job is to mop up messes as a means to keep said issue/s out of the public’s eye. While this human Sham-Wow is not always an indicator of unethical corruption, it’s definitely one of the things to look out for, and Theresa is hardly the exception to this rule.

True character (in my opinion) has always meant that you tackle problems head on and in full view- a naïve approach, to be sure, but in the long run, honesty is always the best policy, a concept that allegedly strikes both Mrs. Paar and Theresa as completely alien. Despite the worrisome issues I discovered using the simplest search parameters, neither Theresa or the two doctors who own Paradise Family Medicine [Dr. Colume and Dr. Katz] ever addressed them directly. In fact, they completely ignored them altogether. While I do understand the legalities of why they’d remain mute in regards to the topic, I would at least think that enough red flags had been raised to at least warrant an investigation past the obligatory lip service phase.
[See: “sense of optimism” See…. Oh you get the joke, already.]

Whoa, is it really 2 AM?. Looking at the old word count thus far, I see I’ve hit exactly 4,534 at this point, so I think it’s time for a break. And when we come back…

I fire my sense of optimism and replace it with sarcasm, deal with a short bus Renfield, realize that two wrongs not only make a right, they also validate a hunch, discover exactly how much pain it takes to drop an Artbitch, and put the final nails in my ex-doctors metaphorical coffin.

“The more ignorant, reckless and thoughtless a doctor is, the higher his reputation soars even amongst powerful princes.”- Desiderius Erasmus

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 
 

 



 
 

A Buggs Strife Pt.2 (Paar for the Worse)


“I guessed that he was one of those ambitious young physicians who more and more fill the profession, opportunists with a fashionable hoodlum image, openly hostile to their patients. My brief stay at the hospital had already convinced me that the medical profession was an open door to anyone nursing a grudge against the human race.” – J.G Ballard, from “Crash”

Hello Blogiteers!
Truer words in my humble opinion, have never been spoken.
 
As someone who’s become overly familiar with what passes for modern medicine in this country, I can totally relate to the sentiment expressed above. Humanity as a whole, is regarded as nothing more than a superfluous cash cow by an increasingly desensitized and vastly unethical cabal that takes advantage by exploiting the inherent helplessness of its chosen victims. Granted, that’s a rather harsh assessment in regards to certain members of the hypocritical Hippocratic Oath association, but my long-held conviction that the Rod of Aesculapius* and its corresponding pledge are as relevant to the medical profession today as Vanilla Ice is to Hip-Hop, has finally been verified.

 *[In Greek mythology, the Rod of Asclepius, also known as the Staff of Asclepius (sometimes also spelled Asklepios or Aesculapius) and as the asklepian, is a serpent-entwined rod wielded by the Greek god Asclepius, a deity associated with healing and medicine. The symbol has continued to be used in modern times, where it is associated with medicine and health care.]

 Greed and blatant narcissism are the true impetus empowering most doctors these days, and we as a society seem to be utterly helpless in halting this slithering abuse of our trust. The more I deal with certain aspects of our remedial health care system, I begin to understand why the symbol of doctors is a serpent wrapped around a staff- if the venom doesn’t kill you, they can always use the wooden pole to beat you into submission as they attempt to steal your wallet.

The upside, if there is one to be found, is that the majority of these callous clinicians are generally so slimy, one could cause grievous harm armed with nothing more innocuous then a shaker of salt. As one of the rare few who has successfully separated one of these snake-handlers from their ill-gotten gains, I can attest that it wasn’t easy- the medical malingerers tend to guard their tainted bullion with a ferocity that makes Smaug look like Tickle Me Elmo by way of comparison.

Sadly, doing the right thing unbidden by the simple act of accepting personal responsibility for professional mistakes, is as alien a concept to the modern doctor as delivering a coherent speech is to Sarah Palin. Look, I get it- we live in a decidedly litigious society, where nobly admitting guilt will get you sued more often than not, but as a rule, most people are just as good with a sincere show of remorse as they would be with a settlement check.

If not more so, as it’s just seemingly that rare. Shockingly, despite my reputation for applying a scorched earth policy in regards to the balancing of my personal scales, I do occasionally endure honest attempts at rehabilitating shattered trust. Note that I stated “occasionally”- I don’t have many rules, but the two biggest are these: don’t lie to me, and don’t ever betray my confidence. While that may sound like one rule cleft in twain, it and they aren’t- they’re distinctive and non-negotiable.
 

Unless the situation is my fault entire, I rarely forgive, and I never forget. I don’t hold grudges so much as I raise them as if they were my own sons, and by no means have I ever let the truly culpable skirt fated reprisal when it was truly applicable. Think of me as the snarky embodiment of Karma, but with a far less tolerant outlook.

Credible apologies, as I’ve noted previously, are presented as such: I’m. Sorry. Period. No qualifiers, no “in my defense” rationalizations, nothing other than the two words above and that adorably quaint and right-to-the point punctuation mark. A cynic might feel the need to opine that I’m making a Himalayan range out of a molehill due to my inherent (and well-earned) distrust of all things medical, but in this particular case, I’m being uncharacteristically diplomatic.

Yes yes… I used a word you would never associate with me. But at the moment, it’s actually apt. As if being afflicted with diabetes wasn’t challenging enough, I find myself locked in a battle royale with an opponent who for all intents and purposes, may not even be aware that we’re actually fighting. Granted, their sphere of ignorance will fail to serve as shelter from the oncoming storm that swiftly advances towards them, but as usual- I’m getting ahead of the narrative, which is a habit I think I really need to work on, if the fan email serves as an accurate barometer.

For clarity and legalities, I need to stress that this sequence of events is from my perspective- that being said, it’s also a sad indictment of what a lone and allegedly vindictive individual can do when given power over a person they perceive to be defenseless. Roll out that sphere of ignorance again kids, because it’s about to have its warranty severely tested.

As I stated in my last tale, wherein I served up a tasty, yet economical, hors d’oeuvre of shredded Bugg ala’ mode, I find myself facing yet another adversary, that being an [allegedly] unethical practitioner of medicine who inflicts her chosen profession upon an unsuspecting world.

Their name? Dr. Gypsy Faith Paar. Yes, I said Gypsy Faith. Now, I know what you’re thinking: the big  bad Artbitch is going to heartlessly lob a few humor grenades through her office window in regards to her name, and all I can possibly say in my limited defense is this… ouch. How could you possibly assume that?

That’s just downright cold. After all these years of friendship, it’s like you still don’t know me at all. Sure, I might have taken a shot at her in my last screed, by acidly noting: “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.”, but I swear on the purity of an eventual Ding-Dong three-way with Debbie Harry and Milla Jovovich that I wasn’t taking a cheap shot at her name, far from it. My first name is Wayne, after all, and when one has that odious moniker hanging around their neck like a depleted uranium millstone, it leaves minimal room to mock.

Don’t believe me? Well then, let’s do a little “play along at home” experiment, shall we?

Just take a minute, and think of everything my name rhymes with, and you’ll see why I generally try not to poke fun at those highly disadvantaged people who were apparently named while their yurt-living, hemp-wearing, rainbow-riding, micro-bus driving parents were still working their way down from an ill-advised experiment of taking the whole tab at once.

In fact, I have a great deal of empathy for the period in which she was attempting to get into medical school, I really do. It couldn’t have been easy applying for student loans when your birth certificate is scribbled on the back of a Grateful Dead show flyer, and your witnessing doctor was known as Autumn Sky Unicorn*.
[*AKA: The former Ms. Rhonda Stella Schwartzman of Paramus, New Jersey.]

With all kidding aside, I’ll be taking the high road, despite my crafting some awesome zingers about her singing backup for Phish, when she isn’t spinning fire at the Ren Fair, that is. And you still believe that I have no compassion? Seriously, I have no idea where you tend to get these crazy assumptions.

Moving on…

I first discovered Dr. Paar via her current employer [Paradise Family Medicine], where a friend’s healthcare was being tended to by one of the co-owners of the practice. At that time however, the well-regarded physician they had recommended to me was booked solidly for the next two months, much to my chagrin.

Having been tossed under the bus by my previous doctor in regards to my pain protocol, I was placed in a rather untenable position- either I waited for the doctor my friend raved about, all the while in extreme pain, or go with the desk staffs’ suggestion of visiting Dr. Paar, which, while not the ideal choice, was still a wise decision nonetheless, or so I erroneously believed at the time.

That’s the unexpected side-effect of extreme pain- it really doesn’t leave you much time to slow down and smell the poseurs, if you know what I mean. It does, however, dull your intellectual abilities to the point where one’s metaphorical machete is blunted into a play-set butter-knife.

 When I first employed the services of Mrs. Paar* [*I’ll reserve the title “Doctor” for those who actually deserve the accolade from this point on] it seemed like it was going to be smooth sailing, no rocks ahead.

She turned me on to a med-lab that I could easily afford [Theranos.com] re-established the pain protocols that my two previous doctors either ignored or discounted, and seemed genuinely interested in helping me get my health back on track. 

Whoopie. Whoo-hoo. Yay team. Raise the roof. However? I’ve constantly reiterated that my sense of optimism hasn’t been pulling it’s weight recently, and that as of late, my gut instincts seem to be on an eternal four day weekend, despite my sending out a tersely worded email that they were needed back in the office several weeks ago.

But I’d guess this is what happens after you outsource those jobs to a Lithuanian day-care center, if truth be told. Sigh… and my profit margin was looking to be huge this quarter, My first two visits were routine and relatively uneventful, despite a strong push to visit specialists that she had been informed were out of financial reach, due to my lack of health insurance. On a related note for any future doctors, your response to such information should NOT be the blithely stated: “well, it has to happen”, unless you’re also about to give your patient a winning lotto ticket in lieu of a bill. Just saying.

The average time between visits was about three months or so, during which period I was struggling to maintain a strict testing and dosing protocol, due to my now former employer’s inconsistent interference in allowing me to do so. Not an excuse mind you, just some vital back-story for what is to follow. By my third visit however, things had taken a solemn turn towards the grave- both metaphorically and literally, as evidenced by Mrs. Paar’s opening gambit of attempting to recuse herself as my doctor.

Woof- honestly, I did not see that one coming. She goes on to opine that she feels her care is ineffective, confessing a deep-set fear that she may “wind up killing” me. Nevertheless, the best (or worst) was yet to come, as she explained why that was, stating that my last blood numbers were really “bad” and indicated the strong possibility of ongoing liver disease as well as my kidneys ultimately shutting down.
 
Double woof, times woofinitity. Nonetheless, this news, despite its serious tonality, still presented as a no surprise/surprise kind of package deal. My liver has always been wonky- one of my former gastroenterologists used to refer to me as “The Martian”, referencing an actual alien from Mars, not the Matt Damon character needing rescue. On a related note, I think this country has spent more than enough of its money trying to “save” Matt Damon. Next time, I suggest we let Ben Affleck do the rescuing- after all, he needs him way more than we do.
 

Getting back on track, the kidney diagnosis was a shock, but overall, I wasn’t too worried- that’s what tests are for, to catch stuff before it gets worse…idyllically. We also discussed my then-current job, and how it’s stresses were slowly grinding me down, which led to the unspoken, yet obvious, need for me to do something drastic in regards to how I was managing the earning of my living.

However, the foremost thing I needed to do at that time, was to get Mrs. Paar off her allegorical ledge and back inside the building where happy teddy-bears and piping hot cocoa awaited. This I managed to do… or so I thought- damn useless gut instinct. I’m telling you, if I manage to live through this, it better start sending out resumes, and that right quick, because its ass is fired when I get back to the office. Regardless, and despite her willingness to throw in the towel when things seemingly got rough, that unsettling encounter did kick-off a minor series of positive events, I am happy to admit.

First on the to-do list was launching the much-needed dental work, [noted in the last blog] followed by the aforementioned tightening of my Diabetic protocol belt, and lastly, the elephant leech in the room: my job. As much as I wanted to leave, it’s hard to do so when you’ve invested eight and ½ years of your life into something, even it’s for the best- which this most arguably was.

That’s the thing about taking a risk- it’s just so darn risky. Nevertheless, I did find a better job within my industry (art framing) leading to a significant increase in my take-home pay, zero superfluous drama, and unlike my last place of work- access to some really awesomely sexy tech. Milla Jovovich-level sexy tech is what I’m talking about here, via the form of an Italian manufactured computerized mat cutter. I’d unwrap a Ding Dong at the sheer thought of it, but I’m cutting back, you know. Given all these constructive changes in such a short time period, it was with an upbeat frame of mind as I entered my appointment, lab paperwork firmly in hand.

In retrospect, I should have walked in clutching a NERF bat and my lawyer’s arm, for the rationale of possession was towards a singular purpose- that is, to metaphorically and literally dope-smack Mrs. Paar upside her unprofessionally smug head. Keep this in mind as we go down the rabbit hole- I wasn’t expecting my numbers to be vastly different- after all, it had only been a short period since my last blood test, and changes within the diabetic landscape do take some time to manifest. Months, in some cases. What I was hoping to see was a slight uptick as confirmation that all the hard work of the last three months was paying off.
[See: “Sense of Optimism”. See: “Lithuanian Day-Care Center outsourcing”. See: “Idiot”.]

The treatment I received in regards to Mrs. Paar’s implied bedside manner makes being the guest of honor at a wedding hosted by Lord Walder Frey* seem almost warm and fuzzy by contrast. Sure, that may have ended on a bad note too, but at least there was cake. Heck, I’d listen to Ken Ham talking about Jesus riding a Brontosaur for hours if there was just the possibility of cake, so what happened, exactly? *[http://gameofthrones.wikia.com/wiki/Red_Wedding]

Let me start by reminding you of that age-old threat of exasperated mothers everywhere: “If you don’t behave, I’ll sell you to the Gypsies”. As with most things from our collective past, an evolution of sorts is required for it to work in today’s society, and all it would need is this simple tweak: “If you don’t behave, I’ll make Gypsy your primary care physician.” If there is true justice in this world, many years from now, Stephen King will use that as the basis of a book, Tim Burton for a movie, and TLC for its newest reality show.

Disney of course, would set it to music, and put it on ice. I can just imagine the toys. They’d be epic. The doctor character could be both heartless and spineless, akin to a glittery Stretch Armstrong, but with much better hair. [Hands sculpted from butter sold separately. Back to the narrative!] So there I was, sitting in a tiny beige room, waiting to impart, and hopefully hear, some cheery news. I did mention my outsourced sense of optimism, right? Good. Because I’m about to show why it’s imperative to buy American-made whenever you can.

As Mrs. Paar walks in, I attempt to tell her of all the beneficial changes I’ve made, this right after I inform her of the need to refill my essential Lyrica and Oxycontin prescriptions, but am abruptly cut off via a condescendingly frozen smile backed by an almost mirthful giggle:

“I’m giving you notice that I’m recusing myself as your doctor. Looking at your numbers, [this said while she scans the lab report] which are all bad, I can see that your liver and kidney disease is advancing- all I can think of is that this guy is dying right before my eyes, and I will NOT have that on my conscience. Here are your labs [as she folds them up and hands them to me] your next doctor will need them.”

Stunned, I stammer that I can’t afford specialists, and query as to what the hell I should do, and she responds casually: “I don’t know… medical insurance really isn’t my forte- but don’t worry, I’ll give you a thirty-day supply of your meds, and today’s visit will be discounted.”

She then walks out… and doesn’t come back. Nor does anyone else walk in, for almost fifteen minutes.

To articulate that I completely fell apart would be analogous to declaring that the Twin Towers suffered some minor structural damage after a small airplane-related mishap. I lost total cohesion and became utterly unglued to the point of hysteria. I called Ashley, awash in sheer terror, and while I don’t recall much (if any) of that particular conversation, I do know it lasted until Mrs. Paar’s nurse strode in and handed me an envelope.

Inside was a form letter outlining Mrs. Paar’s recusal as my primary care doctor, my two essential prescriptions, and that was it- no physician referral, no protocol, and no opinion as to what my next move should be. Questioning her noticeably apathetic nurse led to no further clarification, and was bookmarked by an indifferent shoulder shrug, and a mumbled “I don’t know what to tell you”, while staring at the floor.
 
No context. No counsel. No concern. No f**ks given.
 
But if I were forced to play devils advocate and look at the overall situation optimistically, I still did have that discount to look forward to, so cry huzzah, and let slip the twerking Unicorns of Joy. And to this day, some people still wonder why I have so many trust issues where medical “professionals” are concerned?

It’s not just the story of my parents swearing that they were going to the mall to buy me a puppy made out of ice cream 42 years ago, some of it is based on actual experience. And they’ll be back just like they promised. Soon. Any day now. It’s a really big mall, they probably got lost. Especially when you remember it was torn down 25 years ago.  

Moving on…

So, still emotionally overwrought, I’m shepherded towards the receptionist desk so that I can compensate Mrs. Paar for that exhausting six minutes she just worked, and that’s where I balk- I tell the receptionist that there will be no way in Hell that I will be paying for what I just went through, and sensing my distress, she becomes the only one in that entire office to show any professionalism that day. Actually, come to think of it- the only one since that day as well, but guess which one gets the biggest check for doing the least amount of work, using the slightest amount of Humanity they can skate by with? If you said the backup singer for Phish, you’d be dead wrong, because I already said I wasn’t going to use that joke.

Seriously. Grow up.

However, if you instead said: “Dr. Paar”, you’d be half right, because actual doctors are supposed to help people, not metaphorically sacrifice them to Asclepius’s inbred uncle Incompetentcius just because the sky got dark outside. She then spends the next 20 minutes or so talking me back to center, and goes so far as to contact the office manager in regards to my situation- end result: I didn’t pay a dime, and I managed to get home without wrapping my car around a family of four. Granted, that was after I spent 45 minutes sitting/chilling/coping in the parking lot, but her kind intervention was appreciated, nonetheless.

Whoa- just looked at my Twilight Limited Edition wristwatch and noticed that the glittery Vampire is half past the wickedly buff Lycanthrope, and we all know what that means- and it isn’t that I need a new timepiece… go Team Jacob.

No, what it means is that it’s late, I’m tired, and now is as good a time as any to take a short break.

And when we come back….

The sub-Paar basement adds a floor with extra pain, a metaphorical Renfield mires an office in the social media marsh, my medical file is shorted a few Post-it notes, and I defend my opinion that if correct diagnoses were quarters, a certain doctor allegedly couldn’t gather enough to do a load of laundry.

“Never ascribe to malice that which can be explained adequately by incompetence.” – Anonymous

 
 
 





 

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.

WOOHOO!CLAPCLAPCLAPCLAP!!WOOHOO!CLAPCLAPCLAPCLAP!! WOOHOO!CLAPCLAPCLAPCLAP!!WOOHOO!CLAPCLAPCLAPCLAP!!  WOOHOO!CLAPCLAPCLAPCLAP!!WOOHOO!CLAPCLAPCLAPCLAP!!

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