I am very disappointed in my Kindergarten class.

I remember, I really do, looking at my young classmates and thinking “Great, this is a no-brainer, we can stop this bad behaviour”.

Well, maybe not those exact words but that is a honest paraphrase of my assumptions in during my early public school years. For me, I did not know what racism, environmentalism, sexism or even classism was. I only learned about these “ism’s” when a special adult visitor would present to us the definition and told us about these issues and we can grow up in a world without these problems.

Sure! Sign me up! Where do I vote?

Sometimes I wonder if I am the only one left from those years who holds onto these early directives. You see, Rob Ford is of my generation and he’s an asshole. Stephen Harper is in my generation and he’s an asshole. Danielle Smith? Asshole. Rona Ambrose? Asshole. Hell, Vladimir Putin is of my generation and he’s most definitely an asshole. It’s not that these people are assholes per se that alarms me, but they are the tip of the iceberg for the asshole generation my Kindergarten class turned into.

We see my generation reflected in the urban sprawl, the environmental death by a thousand paper cuts, the derision of students who demand affordable tuition, by any concept that does not somehow sound like an economic formula. We see it in hating second-class people who get health care or the hatred for homosexual love. More than ever, as a whole, we have slid back into a dark and selfish place where extreme hatred, conservatism and short-sighted gain are the only currency.

Fuck you my Kindergarten class. You had a chance to stop this madness before it go this bad and you fucked it up. You know that mean, stinky neighbour who would scowl at us whenever we were having too much fun too close by? You are worse than that adult now. You will be the generation that is remembered that way forever or at least for however long we have left on this planet. You became a larger and scarier version of your parents.

I should not have said that about the planet. I now realize concepts like “planet” are too large for my Kindergarten classmates to grasp and provides the dismissive point they need to escape from my entire argument. I need to keep my arguments within the confines of the local mall, soccer field and vague economic platitudes.

Sometimes, when I think back to those adults educating us about social issues, I wonder if this had the opposite effect of imposing these negative attitudes onto us. I did not realize my friend was a visible minority until it was pointed out me and that we should not pick on my friend. So, of course, we did. Look at the amount of propaganda we suffered at the hands of the dairy industry about “the four food groups”. That was a chart for life long health problems.

I am much more hopeful about the millennial generation. They have access to ideas outside of the confines of their households and remote education industry bureaucracies. They see more of the material effects of the previous generations on the world around them and the world everywhere. They understand there is a world because there was instant news of the world as they grew up. Best of all, they treat things I say and things anyone from my generation says with innate scepticism and doubt.

Yes! These are the tools I was missing from my early school years. This is why, despite all the doom and gloom I’ve mentioned above, I am certain that we are living in conservatism’s last grand gasp. Though through my entire lifetime I will be squirming under the thumb of assholes I now know this is likely the strength of a death’s grip. It is already fading because the forces of progression, smashed into a million pieces by corporate hammers, are quietly still working away and changing that one thing that defies all right wing philosophy: culture.

I thought of this while listening to a Pete Seger interview on the radio.

A guaranteed fix to fire up the economy

I’ve heard it said before that the manufacturing required for WWII turned around a soft, lagging economy. I heard it described as equivalent to producing tens of thousands of vehicles and then dumping them into the middle of the ocean. It was the activity that sparked the momentum.

Hmmm.

I’ve also been learning about the perils of people on social media not understanding the art of reputation management. One of my professors told me Larry Page of Google believes everyone in the first 20 years of the internet should be granted an online amnesty from everything they’ve posted about themselves. Thus, no employer would be allowed, by law, to creep you on social media and then discriminate against you based on your personal texts i.e. revenge porn.

Hmmm.

This gives me an idea. Why don’t we purge the World Wide Web of all content? Not structure, but all the content.

Imagine the work required to re-build relationships and websites. There would be jobs for everyone and we could re-build it better since we are starting from scratch. The economy, an insane entity that wants to constantly expand or fall into crisis, would have plenty of expanding to do. People’s reputations would start from a clean slate once again.

Maybe we can do this every dozen years or so until we evolve past the need for an ever expanding monster called the economy. Maybe this will help stunt urban sprawl as everyone will be too busy getting rich in cyberspace.

problems with graffiti in your city?

The “solution” is to create graffiti parks. And don’t choose isolated and thus unsafe locations- bright, accessible and prominent places.

This makes sense to me, partly because many communities have built skate parks because many people wanted to skateboard. It doesn’t matter if a lot of locals and administration does not like graffiti or skateboarding – there is a legitimate and talented community that does.

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Artists in dark times.

The role of artists during periods of repression and arch-conservatism is traditionally one of resistance and criticism.

There are valid arguments that society is in another dark age similar to the medieval, or middle ages and I can see the similarities –  a de-valuation of liberal arts and accessible education, rapid developments in technology, a great divide between the poor and rich and (due to the very limited shelf life of digital media) an impermanence of recorded information.

Though the arts benefit greatly, like everything does, when society is more tolerant and educated there is also a natural counter-reaction to arch-conservatism that actually triggers significant production and innovation. Sadly, genuine suffering and the need to articulate critical ideas in areas rabid intolerants don’t know how to censor are the main engines for these historical periods of high art. It is a testament to both the strength and importance of artists in our society and the “weakness” of the arts deserving support because it is pretty obvious during these times that arts and artists will always play a significant role no matter how hard religious or political trends attempt to squash or neglect such intellectual efforts.

The arts have never been more popular or important as they are right now… but for all the wrong reasons. We live in dark times.

you, me and victorian dandies – a review

Sadko Hadzihasanovic

Sadko Hadzihasanovic

Since moving to Hamilton I’ve been going to the art crawls and visiting galleries trying to get a sense of the visual arts scene – and I have two places in particular so far that have captured my fancy for being “authentic” avant-garde, independant artist-run galleries. One is the artist co-op Hamilton Artists Inc., and the other is you me gallery.

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Daily Art Beat | AGO banks on “eduartainment”

Art Gallery of Ontario spares no expense in charging expensive entry fee

Read today in the Globe and Mail how the AGO is banking on the upcoming “Maharajas: The Splendour of India’s Royal Courts”  show to make up for the lackluster attendance for a “Drama and Desire ” theater & artists themed exhibit.  I suspect many people figured if they are paying $18 to see theater props they might as well attend a live theater production instead and get more bang for their buck.

This does nothing to assuage the very real criticism that the AGO a) charges way too much for visitors because b) they need too in order to pay for all this cool stuff that they spent so much on in the first place so you would be willing to pay way too much to see it.

I’ve worked as an installation designer for museums and a common term for designing a display or exhibit to be more entertaining than educational to attract more people (so it incorporates lots of bling and interaction and pop-culture references) is termed “edutainment”.

However, the colossal resources behind the AGO have enabled it to take edutainment to a whole new level by planning exhibits that are brilliant and rare collections with an equal dose of marketability and international appeal – eduartainment.

That’s super-cool, but the problem here is that I (and many others) would also like to see a gallery in the GTA full of local, national and international contemporary artists that is free to go to whenever I wanted to.  Any ideas what we should call it? Probably should not call it a “museum” as those seem host broad, international cultural exhibits and place more of an emphasis on architecture than galleries. Public galleries are called “galleries” because they obviously focus more collecting, archiving and exhibiting talent from the city, province or country they are mandated to represent and can generally move to new locations and spaces when needed.

Right?

tip: last time I checked, entry to the AGO for an adult is $18.  Anyone over 12 is considered an adult. You can pick up free AGO family passes at your local GTA library, and Thursdays after 6 are free