Population Statistic: Read. React. Repeat.
Monday, May 08, 2021

I’ve decided: For my own personal Second Act in life, I’m going to be a big-time, scene-schmoozing artist. Or rather, ar-teest.

Granted, I can’t draw a straight line — or even a particularly inspiring crooked one. I have absolutely no sense of color balance or blending. And object juxtaposition? Phhht.

But these days, all that technical artsy-fartsy stuff is irrelevant. Outsourcing the grunt work of artistic endeavor to lower-rung art workers, while you concentrate on concept creation, is where it’s at, man.

It wasn’t until the early 20th century that the avant-garde challenged the popular notion of the artist as a skilled artisan. In 1917, Duchamp famously displayed a factory-made urinal as a readymade; in 1923, Laszlo Moholy-Nagy picked up the phone and placed an order for five enamel-on-steel pictures to be produced by a sign company in Berlin, making the point that the hand of the artist no longer mattered.

By the 1960’s, Andy Warhol had called his studio the Factory and employed a team of assistants to turn out silk-screened canvases that intentionally bore little or no trace of the artist’s hand. With Conceptualism, some artists refrained from making objects altogether, insisting, as Sol LeWitt put it, that “the idea itself, even if not made visual, is as much a work of art as any finished product.”

But in the 90’s, a new generation of artists, including Mr. Koons, Damien Hirst and Takashi Murakami, decided they could have it both ways: they could be Conceptualists who also created big, beautiful, expertly made objects — and they could commission others to produce them.

“We’re in a post-Conceptual era where it’s really the artist’s idea and vision that are prized, rather than the ability to master the crafts that support the work,” said Jeffrey Deitch, whose SoHo gallery specializes in large-scale productions by contemporary artists. “Today our understanding of an artist is closer to a philosopher than to a craftsman.”

Indeed, the Conceptualist school of thought can even take you to the pinnacle of the art heap in China.

Hey, I’m an idea man. I’m quite comfortable dreaming up the broad strokes and letting artschool strivers toil away, turning my vision into all-too-harsh reality. Sign me up!

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 05/08/2021 11:50:34 PM
Category: Creative | Permalink | Feedback

read the book, fool!
Today, I learned to stop second-guessing myself. At least, where this blog is concerned.

When I crafted the post about Mr. T’s upcoming advice show, “I Pity the Fool”, I thought about including a quip about the proper theme music. In my mind, it could be performed only by The Mr. T Experience. I couldn’t name even one of their songs, but that’s irrelevant; it’s got to be the coolest alterna-rock band name out there, and most appropos in this situation.

But I didn’t include that bit of whimsy. I figured it was far too obscure a reference to throw out there.

Yet today comes news that the band’s frontman, Frank Portman, is now a bigtime book author. And that he likes to be photographed posing next to colander-breasted robot sculptures.

So you see, there’s no such thing as “too obscure” in this pop-cultural zeitgeist. What are the odds that The Mr. T Experience would ever make the news on a random day? I should just let my freak flag fly, already.

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 05/08/2021 10:38:17 PM
Category: Publishing, Pop Culture | Permalink | Feedback

In these United States, it’s all about the branding — even on Capitol Hill. Showing off your tax dollars at work, members of Congress have their staffs thumbing through the dictionary to devise clever acronyms to attach to otherwise nondescript bills.

Remember Gramm-Rudman-Hollings, the deficit-fighting bill? Or Sarbanes-Oxley, the corporate reform law? Bills named for lawmakers are pretty much passe. These days, an attention-getting acronym — the political equivalent of a vanity license plate — is in…

“You’d be surprised at how much taxpayer time is spent in offices coming up with clever names for bills,” said Michael Franc, a former congressional staff member.

Though some bills in the past did have acronyms, they rarely grabbed the public’s attention. The Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1993, or OBRA, for example, is remembered by few people other than Washington’s most die-hard number-crunchers.

Now, acronyms help explain what the bill is all about. They are proof that even bill names have become part of Washington’s all-consuming political spin.

“If it helps people remember your legislation, I think it serves a useful purpose,” said Sen. John E. Sununu (R-N.H.). “But I’m starting to think people are starting to spend more time coming up with a clever acronym than they are worrying about the substance and the impact of the legislation they write.”

Here’s the list of the 14 acro-licious bill names mentioned in this LA Times article; not all of these actually got passed, but they are for-real, no-joking monikers tacked onto legislation reviewed by Congress. I’m sure there’s a treasure trove of past, present and pending legislative acts beyond these:

CAN-SPAM - Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography and Marketing Act

CLEAN UP - Curtailing Lobbyist Effectiveness through Advance Notification, Updates and Posting Act

END - Elimination of Neglected Diseases Act

ENRON - Electricity Needs Rules and Oversight Now Act

OBRA - Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act

PETS - Pets Evacuation and Transportation Standards Act

PUMP - Prevent Unfair Manipulation of Prices Act

SAFE - Security and Freedom Enhancement Act

SAFE CALL - Stop Attempted Fraud Against Everyone’s Cell and Land Lines Act

SNIFF - Safe Notification and Information for Fragrances Act

SOS - Sail Only if Scanned Act

START - Simplification Through Additional Reporting Tax Act

TEA-LU - Transportation Equity Act — A Legacy for Users (especially notable, as the “LU” part was mandated by bill sponsor Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska), whose wife’s name is Lu)

USA PATRIOT - Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act

It’s funny: I wasn’t aware that the names of such oft-cited laws like USA PATRIOT and CAN-SPAM were, in fact, acronyms. I guess I should have known, from the all-caps; but somehow, it didn’t throw me.

Sure, it’s ultimately silly. But I admit, there’s a certain artistry to it.

by Costa Tsiokos, Mon 05/08/2021 10:04:21 PM
Category: Politics, Creative | Permalink | Feedback (2)