Politics: January 2007 Archives

Chrysler 300

Hummer H2

Toyota FJ Cruiser

Cadillac presidential tank

Ford Synus concept*

Brinks truck, thugmobile, or armored personnel carrier? The only accessory that seems to be missing from these and the many other examples (real or teaser) of the offensive, fierce-looking, yet quite silly, fake-macho mounts commanding our roads these days are the gun slots or the gun mounts. America's long love affair with the car has finally turned into fear and loathing, not of the idea of a personal wheeled vehicle, but of the other not invited into our private, luxuriously-equipped mobile panic rooms.

It's probably no coincidence that the last time our frightened man-boys went off the deep end in a neurotic obsession with toys which dramatically represented unrestrained brute power was also during a period dominated by an unnecessary and brutal war fought, and lost, on the other side of the earth. The peak period of the American "muscle car" was 1964-1975, roughly the last decade of the American war in Vietnam.

The whole world would be a much better place if we ever grew up.

the two-year old Ford Sinus is actually a very small vehicle, but an excerpt from one 2005 industry report, perhaps clipping directly from the manufacturer's press release, assures its readers:

But considering that the majority of the world's population will live in urban areas by 2010, the time may have come for the [small-]car market in the US market. The Synus concept explores what such a car might look like, along with a fanciful design theme based around ultimate security.

While Synus may be small, it has been designed to stand up to the rough and tumble of life in the big city, and has been given a look that says it can stand up for itself. Taking its inspiration from bank vaults and armored cars, this concept's exterior design immediately communicates that it takes security seriously. When parked and placed in secure mode, protective shutters are deployed over the windshield and side glass. Small windows on the flanks and roof are non-opening and bullet-resistant. The rear hatch has no window at all.

The Synus concept also signals security through its use of a driver-side dial operated combination lock on the B-pillar. The rear hatch is operated via a vault-style four-spoke spinner. Flat glass in a slightly raked windshield furthers the armored-car look of this concept.

I have no idea whose tongue is in cheek here.

[images from bigtex (Chrysler), Legends (Hummer)cartracker (Toyota), Autoblog (Cadillac), cardesignnews (Ford)

Michael Kelly that goddamned george bush 2006 computer drawing

Just spotted this tiny item in this morning's Newsday:

BLEEPS ON A PLANE. So much for God and country, at least during some in-flight showings of the Oscar-nominated movie "The Queen." All mentions of God are bleeped out of a version of the film distributed to Delta and some other airlines, The Associated Press reports. Jeff Klein, president of Jaguar Distribution, the Studio City, Calif., company that supplied the movie to the airlines earlier this month, said it was a mistake, committed by an overzealous and inexperienced employee who had been told to edit out all profanities and blasphemies. Jaguar has been sending out unedited copies to the airlines.

[image from openstudio, spotted while searching for an image for "goddamned",]

Joe Ovelman: the first three drawings from the series, “Twelve Drawings” 2007 [installation view]

Joe Ovelman Rosa Parks 381 2007 381 polaroids and ink [detail of installation]

Joe Ovelman Regi 2005 video [still from video installation]

It's a tough show. Joe Ovelman gets right inside the wretched, beating heart of white racism with his passionate exhibition, titled "For Whites Only", currently at Oliver Kamm's 5BE Gallery. There are only about seven works in the gallery, but the minimalist, and oddly almost sanctuary-like installation manages to include one piece from just about every one of the media forms available to an artist today.

Missing however from this virtuoso show, perhaps significantly, is any representative of his own still photography, the medium with which Ovelman has been most closely associated until the last year or so. The 381 polaroid portraits of the artist installed on one wall were taken and signed by 381 different people who could self-identify as African-American.

The press release describes the show's one video, and the source of its ambient sound, very simply:

"Regi", 2005, is a video in which the paid subject, chosen for his African decent, stands naked and confined to one end of a room for 8 hours, the length of a typical work day. The video was shot in Porto Seguro, Brazil, a historic slave-trading port.

UPDATE: See Holland Cotter's review in the NYTimes February 3.

[third image obtained from the artist]

spoils of war

Michael Rakowitz
is a superb artist who just doesn't seem to be able to work without diving into the monumental issues which assault our smug comfort every day. We adore him for it.

Bloggy has a great image, a link to older work, and a very concise description of Rakowitz's current majestically tragic (and continuing) project, partly installed at Lombard-Freid until February 17.

with apologies to Ray Carver

from Act III, Rory Sheridan (Tiger), Carrie Getman, Harold Kennedy German and Elizabeth Knauer, with Robert Saietta, Beau Allulli and Okwui Okpokwasili (bear) further upstage

On Saturday, when I wrote about the PS 122 production of International WOW Comapany's "You Belong to Me: Death of Nations: Part V", I didn't have an image from the third act, "The Plague of Fantasies", the one which I had found so profoundly moving. Today I do.

Even looking at this silent, still image almost a week after seeing the production itself I find I'm shivering.

[image by Richard Termine provided by PS 122]

[American Civil War pictoral envelope ca. 1860-1865]

Don't they teach civics in school any more?

A member of Bush's team and a lawyer himself, acting in his official capacity as head of "detainee" affairs, intimidates lawyers defending the most defenseless of the defenseless, saying they are acting against the national interest. Sounds actionable to me - even treasonous.

WASHINGTON, Jan. 12 — The senior Pentagon official in charge of military detainees suspected of terrorism said in an interview this week that he was dismayed that lawyers at many of the nation’s top firms were representing prisoners at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, and that the firms’ corporate clients should consider ending their business ties.

The comments by Charles D. Stimson, the deputy assistant secretary of defense for detainee affairs, produced an instant torrent of anger from lawyers, legal ethics specialists and bar association officials, who said Friday that his comments were repellent and displayed an ignorance of the duties of lawyers to represent people in legal trouble.

“This is prejudicial to the administration of justice,” said Stephen Gillers, a law professor at New York University and an authority on legal ethics. “It’s possible that lawyers willing to undertake what has been long viewed as an admirable chore will decline to do so for fear of antagonizing important clients.

“We have a senior government official suggesting that representing these people somehow compromises American interests, and he even names the firms, giving a target to corporate America.”

I thought this sort of thing had been settled once and for all with the judgment and courage of John Adams and other American patriots in mounting a defense for the accused in the Boston Massacre trials.

The Times follows its front-page news coverage with an excellent editorial. Yet even its (considerable) outrage seems insufficient under the circumstances and within the present political environment in particular.

[image from the-athenaeum]

hundreds of anti-war demonstrators on the north side

two intrepid pro-war demonstrators on the south side

New York activists were able to attract a couple of hundred demonstrators to the Times Square military recruiting station on Thursday night, responding to Bush's announcement of the night before that he would significantly increase the count of troops in Iraq rather than reduce or eliminate the numbers already there.

On the south side of the kiosk two lone young men stood beneath a banner mounted to an American flag on one side and the Gadsden flag on the other. The man on the right wore a baseball cap with an NYPD emblem, I suppose as to indicate another allegiance, or perhaps only in the hope of gaining the cooperation of the police monitoring the demonstration site.

When I first saw the second image uploaded onto the screen on the camera back I thought the flags looked like they were attached to the recruiting station itself and I was going to go with a blog headline something like: "the government-approved demonstration". What I can see now however the NYPD was acting very correctly, just isolating the two groups, so this time there's no real excitement to report from jimlog quarters.

Everything was actually going very peacefully while I was there (the two militarists were vastly outnumbered and the rest of the crowd after all was out there demonstrating for peace). I will say that there was a lot more energy and excitement on the north side - and definitely a lot more smart-looking and attractive people:



Apparently there were anti-war protests in cities all over the country yesterday, but if you depend on the NYTimes for your news, you wouldn't know it.

It seems that everyone in the kingdom had been asked recently what they thought of how things were going in the land, and beyond. They had answered that they were very unhappy about many things, but most importantly they wanted the king's special war to end and their sons and daughters to come home. The king then asked all the wise men in the kingdom what he should do (apparently the wise women were busy). They told him that the special war should end and the sons and daughters of the people should come home. The king thought about all this for a while - a long while - and then he made his decision: He would make his special war bigger and he would declare that the sons and daughters of the people would have to stay away forever (with a visit home scheduled for every 24 months).

In the meantime, the royal court maintains that it is powerless to do anything to move or influence the king in even the smallest of matters. The people seem to believe them.

The people were very upset with the king: Several thousand of them [perhaps .00001 of the population] took to the sidewalks yesterday to say so, since there was no other way they could talk to the king. Unfortunately nobody told the king that several thousand of his subjects had taken to the sidewalks; the royal scribes didn't record the news about the sidewalks, but it didn't matter anyway, since the king doesn't read.

Today the people know for sure there will be no talk; the king doesn't do talk. The king only does war - very special wars.

Today the king knows for sure he can do anything he wants to do.

[image from and now for something completely different]

is this trip necessary?

Does our singular bellicosity stem simply from our addiction to oil, or from our growing cult of christianism? Or is it simply the pathological expression of a frightened, isolated, ignorant, provincial and bored people?

My question seems to assume that all Americans are responsible for creating and sustaining the most war-like society in history, but while it's clear the buttons themselves are pushed by a military-industrial-media establishment, if we continue to describe our nation as a democracy we have to take as full a responsibility for the evil done in our name as for the good.

[image from C-130 Headquarters]

Brian Ulrich Gurnee, IL 2005 chromogenic print mounted on sintra with luster laminate 30" x 40”

The sign reads "More Outdoors for Your Money Patriotic Chairs $9.99". The image is just one of the most resonant of the ten extrordinary prints Brian Ulrich has supplied for his first solo show at Julie Saul. I've been looking at this artist's remarkable work since 2004 and he continues to pull large and small miracles out of his more-or-less-candid large-format camera while he explores the familiar acres of the western world's stores of plenty.

After we had left the opening reception on Thursday we ran into some friends on the street where we told them about the show. To my astonishment I found myself able to describe in considerable detail several photographs I hadn't seen for several years, and most of the others seemed to be inside my head waiting impatiently for the chance to come out. These images just won't go away.

The show is titled "Copia", for its penetrating but very tender tender look at the material cornucopia (horn of plenty) spread out everywhere at our feet today, growing even faster than the communities which feed on it so voraciously. Unlike the image above, most of the work is highlighted by the dazed or absorbed faces of anonymous consumers.

But there's much more going on in these images, for the artist's eye and his editing have together produced truly-beautiful composed genre scenes no less authentic than those of Breugel or Vermeer. We've long since cast aside our long scythes and short needles, so here the earthy, fleshy busyness of the Flemish master and the simple domestic props of the Delft burgher are replaced by the mountains of manufactured "things" with which we surround ourselves three and four hundred years later.

Not incidentally for work like this, the printing quality of the large color pieces themselves is terrific; any reproduction seems little more than a suggestion of the piece itself.

Ulrich describes his initial inspriration for this series of work as a response to George Bush's post 9/11 summons for Americans to just go shopping, thereby equating consumerism with patriotism. If shopping has now become a political act, this artist has become the realm's unofficial limner laureate.


I don't mean to unduly upset anyone not already concerned about climate change, and I know that as scientific evidence it's merely anecdotal, but tonight while I was sitting in front of an open window checking my email I was buzzed by a mosquito. And on the roof garden just beyond the sill our large begonia bush, like all of the other plants not cleaned out of the pots last fall, seems to be thriving.

The place: Manhattan. The date: January 6.

[image from Mosquito Netting Project]

This page is an archive of entries in the Politics category from January 2007.

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