Bridge Over the River Why. (An Army of None.)
September 30, 2013
Hello Blogi…oh, the hell with my standard cheery greeting, I’m just not feeling it.
Not today, anyway.
This is the kind of bummed out that even a full-on Ding Dong bender couldn’t ease.
See, this is my problem- I have faith in Humanity, but I always forget that people are involved in the dispensation of it.
“A person is smart. People are dumb, panicky, dangerous animals, and you know it.”
And when it comes to following the herd, nobody does it better than the PHX Creative community. I’ve often commented on the lack of professionalism that runs rampant here, along with an almost pathological apathy that tracks alongside, and yet- I still truly believed that my fellow creatives would rise up, fight the good fight, and vanquish the metaphorical Barbarians back to Hell.
Note to self: stop watching movies where everybody comes together via a montage and musical number to save the community rec-center/summer camp/school/church/park/ independent record store etc.. it’s starting to seriously warp my sense of reality in regards to the subject of people stepping up to do the right thing.
So as a rule, I keep my expectations realistic, and my hopes limited.
Let me put it this way- I really don’t sweat the electric bill. Almost dying definitely spins your perspective in regards to what matters, and what doesn’t. Having touched the bunny slippers of Death, my point of view has unquestionably been sharpened, and it’s main focus has been on rehabilitating the PAS into a viable entity of economic success and unity.
Sadly, I think that I’ve been asking too much of my fellow Creatives, the lack of turnout at the HTC protest serving as a litmus test of sorts. One of the theories I’ve been harboring for a while in regards to the creative community is this- the majority seemingly don’t give a damn unless a situation affects them directly.
In other words, they’re the problem. If the PAS were a human body, the poseurs within this scene would be cancer, As I said I’m a realist- I know that no matter where you have a vibrant and creative scene, there’s always going to be the occasional human speed bump.
Another insight: I absolutely loathe, despise, hate, deride, abhor, detest, and cannot stand the way too common phrase “I’ll be there in spirit”. So… you won’t help or do anything that is actually useful and constructive, but at least you approve of all the hard work we’re doing.
That’s just great. Way to commit to a cause.
I tell you this: I don’t get nearly enough credit for not going on a murderous killing spree.
Looking down from their ivory tower, I wanted the collective heads of the HTC to see a unified and strong Arts Community, an astounding mass of people standing up both for their craft, and for what was right. I wanted their family friendly walls to shake with our collective outrage.
In place of that, all they saw was that given enough time, the storm would pass, and they could get back to business as usual, or so they hopefully thought.
I am happy to report that several artists cancelled shows, a number of guest curators resigned in disgust, and since the Mayor’s office got involved, along with a nationally recognized anti-censorship group calling for change as well, it’s highly unlikely that they will emerge completely unscathed.
In fact, my last blog may have opened that particular door- the following is from a FB message that Robrt Pela sent me earlier this week:
“Keep in mind that it was your blog that first got the mayor to call me. So, you made a huge difference. I did not approach the mayor’s office; they called me.”
I know what you’re thinking, and you’re right… I so totally need to call my Dad and brag like a adolescent boy who just scored with the town MILF. As you might surmise, I am more than happy that one of my rants seems to have had a positive effect for once, and I earnestly hope that some good comes out of all this.
Yes, the HTC has been dinged, but the fact remains: the PAC dropped the ball on this one, and dropped it hard. In fact, when I posted on the Arizona Artists page asking the question of why there was such a problem with artistic apathy in this town, I received the following response:
Factoring in the chaotic twenty-four-seven news cycle, today’s outrage is tomorrows water cooler joke, hence the need to have a sizable presence to go with the story- otherwise, you’re just spitting into the wind.
There is mammoth disparity on the Internet in regards to culture, and it rarely sways towards the betterment of our social order. Don’t misread me- I love living in a world where I can order books online while simultaneously downloading clown porn and
Would a larger crowd have changed the outcome?
The psychological effect of scores of loud angry people blocking your way and calling attention to something stupid that you did cannot be underestimated. Not by any means. And when the public opens up its eyes and gets curious about why all these people are surrounding your building, you’re pretty much living on borrowed time before the real hammers come down.
As to the concept of thinking “globally”, until my career takes off to the extent that I get to jet-set ala Saint Bono style, I’m gonna be focusing on the local, mainly due to that’s where I live and work. Yes, I’m a citizen of the world, but I have to pay my electric bill here, so I don’t have the luxury of being able to turn a blind eye to what’s occurring in front of me.
Even if your action turns out to be purely symbolic, at least you stood up for what you perceived to be right, and that beats a worn-out turn of phrase hands down, every time.
Words without direct action behind them?
Not so much.
Understand this- I’m not marginalizing how effective the Internet was in publicizing this situation. In fact, it was amazing to see just how fast the word got around, and the number of people who joined in on the discussion was stunning. What does dismay is how many of those same cultural warriors couldn’t spare two hours on a Thursday night to support a cause they claimed to be so concerned about.
Sadly, this isn’t the first time I’ve been witness to such indifference within the PAS, but it’s certainly the most visible display of it in quite some time. Not to beat a dead horse, but seriously… why won’t the majority of the Creative base just get off their apathetic asses and start kicking out the jams?
After a while, it gets to be a little annoying, if not downright infuriating. Nothing aggravates me more than a lazy zealot. I’m constantly hearing from artists about how they wish things were better, how great it would be if people were more professional, etc.- and yet, when it comes time to put up or shut up, they climb into their race car beds and wait for the art fairy to arrive with a satchel of happiness.
Believe me, I do understand the underlying feeling of pointlessness that some artists feel in regards to their career- I am an Artist myself, after all. So I do get why it’s sometimes really hard to get out of that there comfy bed and go kick metaphorical ass. It’s even worse when you feel like you’re taking on the whole damn world by yourself.
Trust me… I feel your pain. I really do.
One of the main issues that I have with the PAS is the fact that some within our community also tend to mete out a unique form of passive aggressiveness warfare against their fellow Creatives- the old “crabs in a bucket” analogy.
“Crabs in a bucket is a phrase that describes a way of thinking best described by the phrase “if I can’t have it, neither can you.”
The metaphor refers to a pot of crabs. Individually, the crabs could easily escape from the pot, but instead, they grab at each other in a useless “king of the hill” competition which prevents any from escaping and ensures their collective demise.
The analogy in human behavior is that members of a group will attempt to “pull down” (negate or diminish the importance of) any member who achieves success beyond the others, out of envy or competitive feelings.
This term is broadly associated with short-sighted, non-constructive thinking rather than a unified, long-term, constructive mentality. It is also often used colloquially in reference to individuals or communities attempting to improve their socioeconomic situations, but kept from doing so by others attempting to ride upon their coat-tails or those who simply resent their success.
[Don’t worry about my GF Ashley- she’d be getting the same from Richard Armitage, so it’s all good, as I tend to share the wealth.]
Speaking of mentally deficient crabs, out of all the feedback I received there was only one detractor who lashed out publically regarding my protesting the HTC’s censorship, and in a not too surprising revelation, they’re someone that no one has ever taken seriously or even heard of in this scene, that being the personage of one “Scooter” Harris.
For once, I can honestly say that the negativity that’s being directed at me is not of my doing. I know… it feels really bizarre to me too. Normally, I’d be the one throwing the
acid-coated knives, so it’s somewhat off-putting to be attacked by someone named after a puppet from the Muppet Show.
After several years of my stirring the pot and asking the uncomfortable questions, it seems that this part-time scrawler and full time non-entity has named me and curator Robrt Pela as the source of all drama-fire in the PAS.
The source of all drama-fire… don’t I wish!
What can I say? I’m a mercenary capitalist. But I digress.
[Its the “We fight on Friday Night” Blog.]
And despite the fact that I do truly appreciate being granted honorary authority over the flame height in the PAS (as ascribed by Scooter) I’ll actually have to demonstrate some uncharacteristic modesty and dismiss his transcendent affirmation of my inherent powers.
Both stories, BTW, were excellently done, I might add.
To each his own, I always say, but this time it’s taken a turn. Up until about a week ago, I’ve never had any sort of issue with Scooter, so his rather disjointed assault upon Robrt and myself literally comes out of left field.
[I often refer to myself as “His Royal Lord High Sexiness”, but I notice that he didn’t use that.]
And yes- I do call myself the “Artbitch”. However, that moniker was bestowed on me by a former enemy (now friend) who thought it fit my personality at the time. Fortunately, he doesn’t get a cut of the merchandise sales, so it really does pay to make sure you fill out all the copyright paperwork ahead of time.
For instance? My love of all things ABBA, my addiction to Ding Dongs, my fondness for dressing like Mad Max, the fact that I find nude Ukrainian folk dancing irresistible, and let’s not forget my ponytail, the classic go-to for almost all of my enemies.
Theory One: He’s always wanted to play in our sandbox, and just couldn’t cut it.
If this is spot on, then yeeeeouch, he must be way more inferior than I thought.
I just find it bizarre that someone would feel so liberated using a homophobic slur when their favorite form of entertainment entails watching greased up steroidal giants wearing makeup and gold lame speedos slamming into each other.
Gah. That’s enough in regards to Scooter, I think. Every village has it’s idiot, and apparently… the village next door loaned us theirs as a courtesy.
But there have been some changes on the horizon, and hopefully, they’ll blaze a new path towards fostering the self-empowerment and creating the strong community leaders we so desperately need.
Along those lines, we’ve seen the gallery association created by Laura Dragon stitching together our local Art-spaces into a marketing concern, and along with Artist Travis Field’s artistic juggernaut on FaceBook, [Arizona Artists Collective] certain long-closed doors are opening in regards to networking and planning possibilities for Creatives within the PAS.
To be honest, they’re not the all encompassing panacea that we require, but they’re definitely a healthy and aggressive start towards healing our innate illness of spirit.
So what’s the answer? This time, I’m honestly flummoxed, as I don’t think that there’s a one size fits all solution to the myriad of issues we need to prevail over. A multi-pronged approach seems like the best conduit to a successful outcome, but only if everybody is on the same page.
And my biggest worry is that in the end, we’ve all been reading different books.
“As an artist your first loyalty is to your art. Unless this is the case, you’re going to be a second-rate artist.” – Margaret Atwood