The Complications of Progressivism
By progressivism I mean the attitude among creative folk that they must ever so often, generationally, break out into never-before-known spaces and come up with new frontiers. The drive to be different. (This drive is in everybody, don't get me wrong, but I only know creative folk so I'm limiting my speculations to that crowd, my crowd--my friends, my acquaintances, and those with whom I socialize and frequent and even those with whom I fall in love.) The drive to be experimentally daring. The drive to like take a single object and see how many imagined things you can turn that object into--like a painter painting a beautiful woman nude--how can he transpose what he sees in that naked glory before him onto a common ordinary old cheap piece of canvas using the tools of his trade. And, yes, I believe we creative folk are tradesmen. Of course we are. There are even unions available to us. The problem: most creative folk are independents, stone loners in some cases, isolationists, rebels. They don't really want to be protected in terms of solidarity. As artists they seek total freedom, including anarchy, through art. They seek a whole new world through art. An escape from the imprisoning rules and regulations that rule the academically run world, the institutionalized world, the world of boundaries and perimeters and encampments and mores. You feel the sociopathic anger I am experiencing in even writing about this DRIVE that drives creative folks to progress...to move on...to hurdle limits...to exceed far beyond common expectations.
Of course I am comically aware of another side of art--a laissez faire side--a side of conformity and collective teamwork. Aren't the designers of those Mickey Mouse teeshirts that sell like there's no tomorrow in New York City's big Disney stores artists? I call them commercial artists, but then I'm moldy-oldy when it comes to artist designations these days. [New York City's biggest of about 4 Disney stores is on the corner of East 55th and fashionable Fifth Avenue, ironically just up the street from Saks Fifth Avenue where the snobs and the wannabes shop--though you can catch these people in the Disney Store, too, don't worry--primed with the logical answer of why they're there: "I'm shopping for my children." On the Disney store Website, you can shop by "Characters"--and currently, they're offering "Little Girl's" swimsuits for $15 each. By the way, they don't guarantee this, but I can, those "Little Girl Swimsuits" are made in Commie China by real "Little Girls"--you betcha. China's great child labor force, that labor force that creates today most of our clothing (we had a child labor force in the good ole USA until we were deep into the 20th Century--why I hear rumors there are sweatshops out in Flushing Queens where they even today use child labor). Chinese children are working 14-hour days to produce those crummy, cheap, contaminated Disney children's wear. (And, too, there are child labor forces in India, Indonesia, Pakistan, Malaysia.)
I got sidetracked into this "creative folk" side street, this wondering why we are driven to be different by listening to a local radio interview show--an artsy-fartsy program with a high-falutin' host who knew every little tiny insignificant aspect of today's current world of ART, in this program's case, today's NOW world of DANCE. She was interviewing the woman who created SLAM here in New York City. [I know where dancers who form troops get their money--from patrons (sponsors) and grants and through benefits and teaching seminars and commissioned works--the ones who sell their ideas are hustling geniuses.]
The woman who created SLAM (Streb Lab for Action Mechanics) is Elizabeth Streb. Elizabeth is into dance being more than just human bodies dancing within the limitations of feet-on-the-stage dancing, either on their own or in a uniform troop manner. Elizabeth has a troop, but her form of dance incorporates a whole slew of folks and equipment, like trapeze artists and movie stunt people and circus clowns and on-stage fliers. You see: action mechanics. All people in motion are dancers to Miss Streb. Not a new concept at all. What's new about it is the way Miss Streb presents it.
It's performance art to me, but dance to Elizabeth Streb. But then isn't all art entertainment? And isn't all life in a way dance? And Streb's dance troop is entertaining to say the least. One article I read on Liz she's called the Evel Knievel of dance. How does Liz Streb make her money? How did I just tell you dancer's make money? Through grants. Liz won one of those John and Catherine MacArthur genius grants--what are those, half-a-mill or something like that? She spends money like it's water; look at the above stage setting.
Elizabeth Streb, striving to look different; being different means attracting a following. SLAM's rehearsal space is in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, the new artsy-fartsy community that has evolved just across the East River from Manhattan--there's still cheap loft space over there--it's an area of old warehouse buildings that runs all the way down to the Brooklyn Bridge from up at Metropolitan Ave. on the border between Greenpoint and Williamsburg.
[I'm old enough to remember the days of "mills." These were metal, wood, or plastic coins about the size of a nickel that were used to pay the sales taxes on items.
A Missouri 1 Mill. When I was a kid in Enid, Oklahoma, I remember playing with red plastic mills--during the period in my life where I began thinking and discovering and figuring out on my own--I was 2 years old.]
Here's what Charles Ives wrote about this drive that drives artists to go beyond the tried and true, beyond the classical, beyond the moderne, beyond the near future.
"The futility of attempting to trace the source or primal impulse of an art inspiration may be admitted without granting that human qualities or attributes which go with personality cannot be suggested, and that artistic intuitions which parallel them cannot be reflected in music. Actually accomplishing the latter is a problem, more or less arbitrary to an open mind, more or less impossible to a prejudiced mind.
"That which the composer intends to represent as 'high vitality' sounds like something quite different to different listeners. That which I like to think suggests Thoreau's submission to nature may, to another, seem something like Hawthorne's conception of the relentlessness of an evil conscience--and to the rest of our friends, but a series of unpleasant sounds. How far can the composer be held accountable? Beyond a certain point the responsibility is more or less undeterminable." (Charles Ives, Essays Before a Sonata and Other Writings, Norton, 1964 edition: p. 70.)
With me it's excitement that drives me to do whatever I do that is creative. I've been a "semisuccessful" poet, briefly successful short-story writer, and a very successful trade book writer (two books on a Pope Johnny the 2nd, the Polish Pope, one a Catholic bestseller though it wasn't Pope approved--the Pope said I was too kind to Communism. Hellfire, you're Holiness, I'm a atheist who thinks you're a warped-minded fool, so be glad I wrote as nicely about you as I did--oh, that's right, that His Holiness has gone on up to heaven already--he's supposedly going to be speedily made a saint--he married a Jewish girl during WWII in order to save her--that's a miracle, ain't it?--but that was a vicious rumor started by somebody vicious in the Polish State press--the same bunch who wired me one time that Pope John Paul #1, the Pope prior to Johnny II, was stabbed to death in the Vatican. Don't tell anybody you heard these rumors in The Daily Growler, please. Remember the criticism of me as being a divulger of suspicious facts and a user of bad grammar.) I've also been a published songwriter; I've been a recording "star" (within my own circles); I've been on others's recordings; I can sometimes play a piano with virtuoso brilliance; and I've been known to wow a roomful of fans with my singing. I am currently driven to learn how to play the guitar--not the common ordinary folk or rock guitar--that's a snap--any junior high rock wannabe can play a guitar--run scales on 'em and wah-wah pedal sustained chords and sustained twangs and quivers--you'll never top Jimi Hendrix on the rock guitar--never--but I'm driven to playing my own style of guitar playing. I may be the Evel Knievel of the acoustic guitar like Liz Streb is the EK of dance.
One of my past loves was in the chorus of the Arthur Mitchell Dance Theater of Harlem with ambitions of being a lead dancer though she struggled with it due to bad feet, her inability to keep weight off, even though she ate like a ballerina--almost a bulimia diet--while I was eating a steak she'd be eating a bowl of lettuce with cottage cheese on the side--and finally just flat too old to continue on at the rigorous pace Arthur Mitchell put his people through. She was a tiny wonderful woman but better at fashion than dancing and she finally gave up the ballet and became an accessories designer for a major jewelry company.
Then later I met and dated for a while the business manager for Arthur Mitchell's troop--her sister was his lover--and soon I got bored with the staid rather mean drive of Arthur Mitchell and his women and moved on to meet a woman I fell madly for and who drove me wildly and madly and almost insane and who I hurled the love calls at and the admiration for for 7 years--though it finally dissolved sort of in midair. This woman's son who I first met when he was three, went on to become one of the current leading world dancers with his own highly-thought-of dance company--and this guy amazed me with what he conceived in terms of dance, a street-level-urban yet different kind of kinetic dance--wonderfully timed and astir with very dramatic movements and spins and leaps and muscular lifts and throws--just electric stuff choreographed to electric music performed live or via recording.
When I was a very young man I saw Oklahoma live and during that performance--and this was right after Oklahoma was premiered on Broadway--I actually saw Martha Graham dance--that dance that made Oklahoma so daring at that point. Later, I was to see the Martha Graham Dance Company in which Rudolph Nureyev was dancing in the mid-1970s.
In college, I studied ballet, from a student side--I mean I didn't dance but I read Sergey Pavlovich Diaghilev and Stravinsky on dance and watched films of Maria Tallchief (from Fairfax, Oklahoma, on the Osage Reservation in North Central Oklahoma, just 30 miles east of Enid where I was raised--Betty Tall Chief was her given name--Agnes deMille changed her name to Maria Tallchief (Betty's sister Marjorie also became a world-famous ballerina). Maria later married George Ballanchine (oh how the women loved this Georgian dude)--and her last marriage was to a Chicago real estate mogul with whom she had a daughter, Elise Paschen, who became a famous poet), and reading Isadora Duncan's autobiography and watching films of Michael Fokine staging dances. At one time I could tell you about all the "arabesque" moves in Classical Ballet because of a college class I took: Arabesque en promenade; Arabesque a la demi-hauteur (I've seen a demonstration: the "working leg" is raised at right angles to the hip); Arabesque fondue; or how about an Entrechat cinq. From that brief college dilettante experience, I became fascinated by choreography writing--how a dance creator creates a dance and puts it down on paper. How does one compose a dance? As a result of this curiosity coming up again while listening to Liz Streb talking about her dance drives (one is she wants to limit her stage to a box six feet wide and five feet tall, something like that), I found this great Website posted by Jody Sperling, the founder of Time Lapse Dance ( www.jodysperling.com):
Check this out:
As a choreographer, the number one question I get asked is: “How do you write down a dance?” It’s surprising to me how often this comes up. In itself, the question reveals a a literary way of thinking about choreography, as something that can be written. It’s also akin to the question my actor-friend is frequently subject to: “How do you remember your lines?” While there are notational systems for dance (eg. Labanotation), they are extremely complex and too cumbersome for “everyday” use. Labanotation certainly has uses, mainly as a tool for those recording and reconstructing master-works (visit the Dance Notation Bureau), but this is not how choreographers generally “write” their dances.
When you say “write” a dance, does it mean: 1) How do I make choreography up? 2) How I teach choreography to dancers? or 3) How do I document choreography for posterity? I hear all of these things.Check out the rest of this post at jodysperling.com/process/how-do-you-write-down-choreography/
That's beautiful stuff to me--Labanotation--you've got to like that term.
Of course, as a dancer, I can't dance for shit. I had a lover one time who got me on the dance floor and taught me how to dance with her--an eight-step move, starting on the left foot and ending on the right foot--starting on the one and ending on the eight. I danced for about an hour with her that night before her husband broke us up out of jealousy. He had a right to be jealous, too, the way we were dancing.
Otherwise, during the disco craze I was in the Manhattan discos quiet a bit, though not many women would dance with me. I do, however, remember this one girl named Mary who danced with me all night at Ipanema who said I was a great dancer--Mary got the best of me for about a year.
I watch the current "Dancing With the Stars" teevee show and I wretch. It is such a vulgar show. West Hollywood dance instructors for the babe celebs and some of those ballsy Vegas-type dancer babes for the male celebs. Horrible teevee dancing; judged by a bunch of Rollos (Charles Ives's put down for fakirs) with about as much imagination as a book of matches. Awful dancing. All this bucking and winging and bending back a la Tango and whipping out in spins Apache like--though remember Apache dancers?--I once saw an Apache show in Paris (where some doubters say I've never been--take me to Paris and I'll fool you with taking you places you'd figure I didn't know how to get to if I'd never been there--Paris is a moveable feast, remember?)...but perhaps that's for another post when I feel like dancing.
Right now, I've got ants in my pants and I want'a dance.
for The Daily Growler
Remember: Just a few posts back, thegrowlingwolf warned you that President Obama was fixing to throw a value-added tax at us. Well, yesterday, he came right out and said yes it was on his mind. He was evaluating it--thinking about it--he liked it but he wasn't ready to push it on us. The problem: Paul Volcker. Value-added Tax is Paul's latest recession-fighting tool. Paul is noted as being a recession buster when he was Chairman of the Federal Reserve, appointed by Jimmah Cahter (President Jimmy Carter), and kept by Reagan, though Reagan later fired him and gave us Allan "Ayn Rand" Greenspan. Obama loves Paul Volcker.
On April 6, 2010 Volker told a Global Economic Panel that the United States Should consider adding a National Sales tax similar to the Value Added Tax (VAT) imposed in European Countries, stating "If, at the end of the day, we need to raise taxes, we should raise taxes". The value added tax does not replace current taxes but is an additional tax on top of existing sales taxes. In European countries, the tax averages 20% with a 25% maximum by law.
Our recession is not due to us not being taxed enough. A value-added tax is assessed through every process of production--taxes on production, taxes on distribution, taxes on exportation, taxes on the retail sale. The last time something similar was tried it pretty much put an end to independent farmers in this country.
Obama has to raise money. This nation is broke. He's desperate for money. Will he impose the proper taxes on the rich? No. Will he impose taxes on the already overtaxed? Yes. You and I, our taxes are going up--either via the value-added way or else by stealing it out of our earnings, taxes of which We the Common Man already pay an unfair portion. Obama doesn't know how to create new jobs. His highway reconstruction program has only created about 12,000 new jobs. His other job-incentive methods aren't working either, though to hear Obama talk about it you'd think everyone in this country was back working at an average salary of $50,000-a-year, saving their homes, refinancing their SUVs, back to wildly using their credit cards, and those who don't own homes, hell, they're lining up to get all the bargains out there on the worldwide real estate market.
I watched a young twentyish couple the other day on a local teevee show that shows you the choiciest real estate in Manhattan and the New York City area, hosted by these cheesy real estate agents (young superdressed very gayly enthusiastic men and a little plump haggard-looking women showing potential buyers this choice real estate). This couple was being shown a newly renovated preWar upper West Side apartment and then one of those newly built hi-rise luxury joints with superviews but rather ordinary construction souped up with all this aluminum kitchen appliances and plastic see-through coffee and end tables--embraced by minimal black and white living room decors (a la the old "Mission Impossible" teevee show's leader's living room--and Peter Graves just died a couple of weeks ago, though Peter Graves wasn't the first leader of the Mission Impossible team--but that living room used a black and white chessboard type of decor in its opening shots where Peter is picking the team members he needs to carry out his latest directive mission). And here was this ditsy couple, he a young Princeton-looking type who you figure is in banking or insurance adjusting and his wispy blonde wife, who besides being goofy looking didn't look like she was more important than an executive secretary--and they were looking at and really seriously considering buying this rather small pre-War upper West Side apartment--renovated--I saw thin sheetrock walls through which you can hear your neighbor's conversations and music--and the price was 1 million six. Can you imagine a young couple living in Manhattan and paying mortgage and interest on a 1 million six closing? I mean, at the end of 30 years, they'll have paid way over 4 million dollars for an apartment that at one time you could RENT for $500 a month. How about putting extra taxes on these hi-rise luxury real estate deals?
Or how about putting back into law a stock transfer tax? Every stock trade coming and going pays a 5-cent stock transfer tax--add it up; most days there are millions of stock trades happening. New York City used to collect a 2-cent (actually it might have been a penny) stock transfer tax--but Wall Street threatened Democrat Ed Krotch (Koch) that unless he took that tax off of 'em they were moving to Jersey. I said let 'em move to Jersey, the bastards, but Ed said they were too important to lose, so he did away with that tax and instead raised property taxes and bridge tolls and sold our asses into bondage with his bond issue that gave us Ed Krotch's pink elephant, the max-tacky Javitts Convention Center.
Our current mayor, Mike "the Billionaire" Bloomberg (you think Mike has investments in derivatives?) is bringing up this same old Wall-Street-moving-to-Jersey bullshit as he opposes Obama's regulating Wall Street. Bloomberg says if we tax Wall Street, they'll move to Jersey (Ironically, Jersey is currently getting that second face showing of that fat little two-baby-faced Repugnican Federal prosecutor governor they just elect. This little piggy looking clown said in his campaign ads that a Democratic governor only knew how to raise taxes to get the state's budget under control--why this little fool was going to lower taxes--did you hear me, LOWER taxes. So what does the little prick do instead; why he's cutting the school system to ribbons and raising taxes at the same time--says, he's sorry, he can't help it.) The reason I mentioned above that Mayor Bloomberg is probably reaping billions off derivatives and foreclosure hustling, is that derivatives trading is still going on big time: Bank of America, J.P. Morgan-Chase (check out Paul Volcker's relation to the Rockefellers and Chase Bank), and Goldman-Sachs, those pirates, just turned in multi-billion-dollar quarterly profit statements, and just at the same time Goldman-Sachs is being investigated by the limpwristed, powerless SEC on charges of fraud--oh hell yes they committed fraud--all of them did--same as Charlie Keating and the Bush boys did in the Savings and Loan scams We the People had to eventually put up the bail-out money for--Jeb and Ned Bush dumping their Silverado stock at just the right time--ripping We the People off for millions going into the Bush Family Empire's many money socks socked away all over the world--remember, Pappy Bush's grandfather was a banker--why, hell, he was Adolph Hitler's money manager. He was investigated by the Justice Dept. but he got off Scot free. You and I would have been executed as traitors had we been caught handling Hitler's finances for him.
Hillbilly Hillary Clinton, our Sec'y of State, in case you're interested, is in Tallin, Estonia, today trying to save NATO, the totally unneeded WWII North Atlantic Treaty Organization that today is our military presence in Europe--it's been in business since WWII, folks--WWII has been over for 64 years, so why do we still need NATO?! Oh, I forgot, the Afghanistan War is now NATO's war, right? Didn't Georgie Porgie Bush, our previous commander in chief, turn that war over to NATO? Oh, that's right, it's now President Obama's Nobel-Peace-Prize-Winning war. What's the UN doing in Afghanistan, too?
By the way, there is never any mention of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars on teevee news these days--I assume, like the economy, we're back in total control of them. I see where one of those Iraq al-Queda commanders has been killed by American forces for the THIRD time now.
Get ready for that sleigh ride to hell, folks. Save your gold so you can afford it. Gold's up over 1,000 dollars an ounce now. And thegrowlingwolf ridiculed this numismatist dude who advised coin collectors and dealers to invest in gold bullion 15 years ago--horselaughing in the face of this man who dared predict gold would one day exceed 1,000 an ounce. The Wolf Man hooted at the guy--gold at the time was around 200-an-ounce and dropping. Unfortunately I sold all my gold at those prices on the Wolf Man's advice--I made good money at 200-an-ounce since I bought most of my gold at 80-an-ounce. So hoard that gold, folks, you're going to need something of value to trade with when the day comes Obama announces the dollar is now totally worthless--we're going on military script instead.
Managing Editor: The Daily Growler