Scared the fur off George the dog. But no little ones--suprisingly, because we do have small children in the area. And Ellie had found little trail mix treats, nuts and raisins, to spare their little teeth. Ah, well.
An interesting evening, though. Our old friend Keith Sklar is in town from New York, in connection with the exhibition he has curated for the Jail Gallery in downtown Los Angeles. It's called Pie in the Face--words picked from this Kurt Vonnegut quotation that attracted his attention:
When it became obvious what a dumb and cruel and spiritually and financially and militarily ruinous mistake our war in Vietnam was, every artist worth a damn in this country, every serious writer, painter, stand-up comedian, musician, actor and actress, you name it, came out against the thing. We formed what might be described as a laser beam of protest, with everybody aimed in the same direction, focused and intense. This weapon proved to have the power of a banana-cream pie three feet in diameter when dropped from a stepladder five-feet high. -- Kurt Vonnegut (2003)
The artists in the show are all responding with grim, Vonnegutian humor and a kind of finger-in-your-eye aesthetic defiance to the dire straights into which the world seems to have fallen today, If you're interested in hearing more, you could listen to my interview with Keith in my current installment of The Art of Outrage on Artscene Visual Radio.
Keith brought one of the artists from his show along with him to dinner. Aidas Bareikis an immigrant to the United States from his native Lithuania, now lives and works in New York. This image of his work ...
... gives some idea of what Keith is after with "Pie in the Face." A timely exhibit, you'll agree, for Halloweeen. Bareikis's eerie "figures" seem entangled in the cobweb of some grisly dance of death.
Aidas came up with an interesting thought when the conversation turned, inevitably, to politics after dinner. He suggested that Americans are mistaken in believing that the Cold War is over, and particularly that America was the winner. Ask any European, he contended, and you'll hear that America lost, and a glimpse at the current geopolitical situation would seem to support his contention.
It's not ALL Bush's fault. He simply put the proverbial icing on the cake (if that's not too alluring an image) that we Americans have been baking for some fifty years, essentially since the fear of Communism gave us the cold war and the arms race. Since then we have been busy squandering our wealth and our human resources in pursuit of some desperate need to defend ourselves from every imagined woe and foe. We have been so eager to protect, each of us, our individual well-being that we have forgotten how to live in a civil and humane society, one that cares for even the least of its citizens. In our posturing, bullying, and lecturing the rest of the world about how great we are, we have forgotten how to behave like a great country.
We have lost the war. We are continuing to lose wars on every front, not least the struggle to save our species from extinction. "Everybody knows the war is over," intones the inimitable Leonard Cohen: "Everybody knows the good guys lost. Everybody knows the plague is coming, everybody knows it's coming fast."
By the way, have you noticed how often our presidential candidates use that phrase: "Everybody knows..."? Have they been listening to Leonard Cohen, too?
Just a few thoughts for Halloween, friends. Forgive me...