Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Oh, please

Go read this article: Trying to Live on 500k in New York City. Read the whole thing; it's short. I'll wait.
Sure, the solution may seem simple: move to Brooklyn or Hoboken, put the children in public schools and buy a MetroCard. But more than a few of the New York-based financial executives who would have their pay limited are men (and they are almost invariably men) whose identities are entwined with living a certain way in a certain neighborhood west of Third Avenue: a life of private schools, summer houses and charity galas that only a seven-figure income can stretch to cover.
Yes, the solution IS simple. Not just because there's no reason that the taxpayers should pay for your summer house; because a person who is responsible for managing a financial system which determines people's lives should have some CLUE WHAT PEOPLE'S LIVES ARE LIKE.

Talk about identity politics. There is no social good to be maintained by buttressing illusions of superiority in a handful of drones who shuffle numbers while other people do the work. There is, perhaps, a great deal of social good to be obtained by insisting that bankers be forced to learn to manage money.

For starters, consider this:
A modest three-bedroom apartment, she said, which was purchased for $1.5 million, not the top of the market at all, carries a monthly mortgage of about $8,000 and a co-op maintenance fee of $8,000 a month. Total cost: $192,000. A summer house in Southampton that cost $4 million, again not the top of the market, carries annual mortgage payments of $240,000.
What kind of a jackass buys an apartment with co-op maintenance fees that equal the mortgage payment? I took an open house tour this weekend of a very nice three-bedroom condo in Brooklyn, with views of lower Manhattan, the Statue of Liberty, and boats coming into the East River. The asking price was $955,000, with monthly maintenance fees of $510.74, and a projected mortgage payment after tax abatement of around $4000. This, of course, is still obscene, and I only went on the tour as a tourist, so to speak, but it's nowhere near $16,000 a month. That extra $10K or so is just a stupidity tax.

The thing is, all of the so-called hideous costs of maintaining an 'executive aura' can be avoided by the simple expedient of avoiding costs which only exist to maintain an 'executive aura.' In other words, drop your ego. The sordid truth is that nobody ever believed your ego in the first place; they're taking advantage of you. You are paying through the nose for everything you do because you are a shallow, gullible prick. And incidentally, that's also why you screwed up the financial system.

Monday, February 09, 2009

What I Think About The Shepard Fairey Copyright/Fair Use Issue

Actually, I've done my best to avoid thinking about it at all. But judging by the number of dire emails I've received, containing links to incendiary articles which I have not read, and the number of art blogs weighing in, and Facebook friends on the case, and random headlines passing across my field of vision, it doesn't seem that I can get away from it.

So here it is: I. Don't. Care. I don't care what the overarching issues are; I don't care that My Rights As An Artist May Be In Danger. This whole thing, as little as I know about it, appears to me to be cheap and asinine, for the simple reason that Shepard Fairey has already gotten mind-boggling amounts of attention and publicity for opportunistically generating a two-bit piece of propaganda in the right place at the right time. Whatever happens to him, positive or negative, is so wildly disproportionate to his original creative output that expecting me to care about his fate is to add onus to insult.

Listen: I generate my own source material. Back in the days when I worked from photographs, I took my own photographs, stacks and stacks of them. When I work from designs and drawings, they're done either from life or out of my head. I don't rip off wallpaper patterns, stock images, stencils, or other people's cultures. On the rare occasions when I generate a Celtic knot for a Christmas card, I draw it from scratch without resorting to the photocopier.

Partially because of my insistence on making original art from scratch, cheap publicity has never come my way. In this age of politically correct arts institutions favoring multicultural projects, I persist in writing artist statements and making paintings which emphasize direct personal experience, unexcused by references to Tibetan mandalas or Indian miniature painting or Chinese aesthetic theory. So far, these artist statements and accompanying portfolios have gone directly into the trash, when people making work similar to mine, which does reference these things, earn Fullbright fellowships and appear in major galleries. I don't begrudge these artists their success; many of them are my favorite artists. I merely note that they're sort of cheating.