Archive for the 'Modest Proposals' Category

Pave The Bay: A Modest Proposal

Wednesday, November 14th, 2007

Sometimes great ideas come from the most casual observations. Like every kid noticing South America and Africa fit together on the map led to the concept of continental drift. In my case it was being stuck at a cross walk facing the Pacific Ocean and thinking “Why does route 66 have to stop at the Santa Monica Pier?”

I think it’s pretty obvious, things are getting a bit crowded. From sea to shining sea doesn’t seem that big any more with ramshackle houses going for stacks of money and lines for everything long enough to make a Russian feel right at home. It’s enough to make Frederick Jackson Turner turn over in his grave. What do you do when the frontier has been obliterated by a rash of minimalls as virulent as any Ebola virus. In the best American tradition you build another frontier

What ever happened to those great engineering feats of yesteryear? Sure going to Mars is a neat trick, but it’s really only fun for a few people in funny suits. I’m talking about something for the nonastronaut. I’m talking about a freeway to Asia. That’s right. So you and I can wake up one morning and say, nothing’s doing, what the hell I think I’ll drive to China today.

Really. And not the easy way across the Aleutians. When the wind’s right you can practically spit from Alaska to Siberia. No big challenge there.

It’ll begin with a pilot program called Pave the Bay and build from there. I already hear the screams of alarm that we’d be ruining our pristine coastline. I don’t know about your beachfront, but pristine around here includes among other things Styrofoam and pop tops.

But say you are lucky to live in a flotsamless and jetsamless environment. Face it, it’s inevitable that sooner or later a supertanker will do an Exxon Valdez and deposit its load of oil in your coastal Eden. Goodbye Eden, hello LaBrea Tar Pits.

So since pristine is on the way out anyway, why not replace it with something grand and definitely 21st century. And skip tunnels please, we’re not gophers. Naturally with a drive of this magnitude, you’ll need a rest stop or two. But that’s the beauty of the concept. In no time gas stations and u-totems will spring up along the highway and soon small towns and then, well you get the picture. Since 2/3 of the earth’s surface is ocean, they’ll be room to have beach front for everyone.

What can I say? Flying is alright if you like spending your life in a baggage claim and the information highway is alright if you prefer warming silicon chips with your fingers to enjoying the sweet smell of sea air, having the wind in your hair, and watching the American continent disappear in your rearview. Talk about getting your kicks on route 66.

Thinking The LeMay Way: A Modest Proposal

Wednesday, November 14th, 2007

We face a number of seemingly intractable problems. Four that are certainly at the top of everyone’s list are (1) global warming (2) nuclear proliferation (3) overpopulation (4) conflict in the Middle East. So far efforts at solving these have been sporadic and ineffectual. This is undoubtedly due to the fact that the solutions put forth are completely out of scale to the immense size of the problems.

Audacity is required. And if you want “toujours l’audace” to be your guiding principle, there’s no better personification of that than Curtis LeMay. By thinking the LeMay way, we can offer a solution that is at once simple, powerful and effective.

In 1983 Carl Sagan and others published their classic analysis of the outcome of massive nuclear exchange, namely a “nuclear winter”. The extermination of life on the planet by a nuclear debris filled atmosphere that choked out all light seems to have closed the door on massive nuclear exchange as a tool in strategic thinking.

Much has been made of the advance this made over LeMay’s estimate of the effect of such an exchange. But further advances in computer modeling have equally antiquated Sagan’s research. To “nuclear winter” we can now add a whole range of seasons, “nuclear fall”, “nuclear spring”, etc. depending on the number of nuclear weapons involved and the resultant debris in the atmosphere. The level of nuclear exchange necessary to counteract the effect of global warming is simply calculated. It only remains to create the nuclear exchange.

The current foolhardy approach to stopping nuclear proliferation needs no comment. Rather an appropriate quantity of nuclear weapons would be distributed to 3rd world countries desperate for them. Natural enmity and arranged “border incidents” would do the rest. The nuclear exchanges would fix the effects of global warming, nuclear proliferation, overpopulation and even conflict in the Middle East. It’s natural to assume, that without a Middle East there would be no conflict there.

Adolf at the Whitney: A Modest Proposal

Monday, November 12th, 2007

The gains of postmodern art criticism are legendary. It has deconstructed the crumbling pillars of aesthetic and moral judgment. It has seen to it that no clique is left behind. It has elevated self justification to a fine art and in the process created a richness of syntax that makes Heidegger seem like Mickey Spillane. But ironically after all this ground breaking work, it has balked at taking on what would be its finest achievement…. ironic because after antiquating aesthetic and moral judgment it has allowed political correctness and aesthetic absolutism to stand in the way of elevating Adolf Hitler to his proper place as the greatest artist of the 20th century.

It is amazing that at this late date there are those who still scoff at the idea of Hitler even being an artist, never mind the greatest artist of the 20th century. Picasso is their choice. Absurd. After all, who’s greater, the man who created a memento of Guernica or the man who created Guernica?

The fact that Hitler himself regarded himself as an artist means little. These critics derisively point to his early work they dismiss as pedantic and uninspired, completely missing the point that as a visionary he was preparing to leapfrog over scores of modernism’s pet fads… impressionism, fauvism, surrealism, etc..right into the heart of postmodernism. In their defense this all would take place on an unimagined scale. They were not prepared to see WW2 as a happening, Buchenwald as an installation, and the rubble of Rotterdam and Stalingrad as conceptual art. Perhaps it was the fact that he could use the Luftwaffe rather than a local moving company to place the rubble obscured his artistic achievement. There are not many artists who can count on the Wehrmacht as part of their palette.

Critics continue to believe that just because he had a rather consuming day job, he was politically motivated. Not only critics but historians as well have been pursuing the Hitler as political animal theory to its sorry end, making many of his momentous decisions “mistakes” in the process. They are only mistakes because they are erroneously regarded as political rather than artistic. Hitler was not a politician who dabbled in art, he was an artist who dabbled in politics and used it to further his art. Who but an artist could have been so jealous of other artists? Hitler was an artist from beginning to end. The time is long overdue for the crowning achievement of postmodernism, a retrospective of Adolf Hitler’s work at the Whitney.

It’s decades overdue because everyone so completely misunderstood Goering’s utterance, “When I hear the word culture… I reach for my revolver. (This of course was his paraphrase of “Whenever I hear the word culture… I release the safety catch of my Browning!” from Hanns Johst’s play, Schlageter). They took it for some atavistic attack on culture when it was a brilliant postmodernist expansion of the notion of culture.Goering after all was an avid art collector, perhaps over avid, and Johst was a playwright. The critics couldn’t see past the patina of archaic revival and the distortions associated with the infantile stage of Fascism. The mature Fascism we have now not only has more transparent and better production values, but more importantly sees no need to exterminate people, when it can simply reduce them to shoppers.