HUGE COCK UP ON BBC LUNCHTIME NEWS!

June 5, 2008

What is it with the art world? You wait all day for one L’enfant terrible………. Hot on the heels of yesterday’s quashing of Yazmany Arboleda’s exhibition in New York, London suffered an art shock of it’s own. Viewers of BBC1’s 1pm news bulletin got rather more than they bargained for, when, during the preview for the BBC London regional news summary, artwork hand picked by Tracey Emin for the  summer exhibition at the Royal Academy popped up on screen. A quick glance at the image (below) will give you an idea of why the unsuspecting public were so shocked and of what a huge cock up this really was! 

The piece is a 1992 work by Mat Collishaw, Emin’s ex boyfriend. It is owned by Emin’s friend Damien Hirst. Some people may see depravity, others eroticism. Personally, I can’t get past the nepotism. 

 

The Assassination of Hillary/The Assassination of Barack/The Assassination of Art

June 4, 2008

A lot has been said this campaign season about freedom of speech. What with so many problematic pastors espousing their incendiary views left right and center, and candidates citing tyrannical regimes at every opportunity “where the freedom of speech we take for granted is withheld from the people”,  it’s a surprise anything other than the first amendment has been debated over these past six months. However, it would appear that although  the two parties are willing to invoke the first amendment at every opportunity for the benefit of their campaigns, they are far less keen on it being exercised by the citizens they wish to serve. 

 

A young Boston born artist by the name of  Yazmany Arboleda, who is apparently quite the cause célèbre among the chattering classes, has just had his exhibition closed down by New York’s finest. The two fold exhibition entitled The Assasination of Hillary Clinton/The Assisination of Barack Obama, was to have occupied a store front in Midtown Manhattan. But, unfortunately, it was closed down before it could open. Apparently, it’s incendiary title emblazoned upon the storefront window was to much for the NYPD who carted Mr Arboleda off to the Mid Town precinct.

 

The provocative exhibition draws into sharp focus media attitudes to both presumptive Democratic candidates. The display includes, among other things, a picture of a giant black cock, apparently designed to draw attention to media attitudes towards Barack Obama’s race. It also includes unflattering photo’s of the candidates with provocative titles. One such example being the famous picture of Hillary looking less than her best with the title, The Face of Experience.  It has to be said, it does not in any way promote or advocate the assassination of either candidate and to suggest as much is plain idiocy.  As Arboledas puts it, “It’s art. It’s not supposed to be harmful. It’s about character assassination, about how Obama and Hillary have been portrayed by the media.  It’s about the media.”

 

This is not the first time Arboleda’s exhibition has run into trouble. It was first shown in March of this year at the Leah Keller and Naomi Gates galleries. The galleries were forced to close the exhibit under intense legal pressure, presumably from the Democratic nominees respective campaigns. Now it appears his exhibit has been thwarted once again.

 

I can’t decide why the powers that be are so incensed by this exhibition. But the candidates do appear very keen to keep a check on what kind of freedom of speech our society is allowed.  I certainly don’t think this Is another Catcher in the Rye moment. Is a lone nut job really going to read the words and immediately act upon them (because if that is the case, surely we should be banning advertizing toot sweet!). Is this more about image and the control of said image. Are the questions the artist is asking to problematic for our ordinary brains. Are these questions only to be asked by the political elite, people who know how to manage such things?

 

Personally, I think the exhibit is both compelling and challenging.  It may not be subtle, but it does get the artist’s message across. Arboleda says he wants “to be the most influential artist of the 21st Century”, so, if the NYPD let him out, we may be hearing from him again.

 

Anyway, make up your own mind. I am only the messenger and you know how the saying goes, don’t assassinate the messenger. You can view both The Assassination of Hillary Clinton and The Assassination of Barack Obama online. 

 

 

 

 

 

Rachel Ray, Support for Islamic Extremism?

May 30, 2008

US chain drops ‘terror scarf’ ad

 

This has to be the most absurd story I have seen for quite a while. Dunkin Doughnuts have pulled an add because a rabid Republican blogger believed it offered symbolic support for Islamic extremism.  Apparently, the choice of scarf worn in the add by poor Rachel Ray, a fetching black-and-white checked scarf,  was to much for the blogger as it resembled a traditional Arab keffiyeh. The innocuous scarf, chosen by Ray’s stylist, apparently evoked extremist videos?

 

You really couldn’t make it up. Rachel Ray supporting Islamic extremism. Is the krispy kream the real dirty bomb. After all, cholesterol is the number one killer in America. Perhaps Alkieda are behind the resurgence of Dunkin Doughnuts and this is bio-dietary terrorism? Somebody really should do a study of  deteriorating dietary habits of the US and the rise of  extremist terrorism. Am I the only one who can see the connection! Come on people, wake up!

 

I am pretty sure Michelle Malkin, the blogger in question, is oblivious to the true meaning or representation of such a scarf. I am also pretty sure she doesn’t care. The word hyperbole was invented for people such as Malkin. All she knows is that she has seen something similar around the necks of Islamic terrorists on the evening news (well, Fox News anyway, as she guest hosts for that intellectual and cultural heavyweight at Fox, Bill O’Reilly) and therefore assumes all terrorists wear such scarfs and ergo all scarf wearers are terrorists. 

 

It staggers me that this kind of xenophobia is allowed to permeate the mainstream without being checked. Is this how Malkin identifies people? Scarf wearer – terrorist?  Surely sympathizers or appeasers at the very least!  Hell, lets just come out and say it: If you don’t dress at Abercrombie & Fitch you are probably a terrorist! 

 

Quite how wearing a scarf  is offering symbolic support for Islamic extremism I do not know. If that were the case millions of people all across the Muslim world and beyond would be supporting terrorism! Unfortunately, I fear that is precisely the myth that Malkin and her extremist cohorts would like to perpetuate. She conveniently forgets the thousands of western students and fashionistas that choose (or chose as I’m not sure of it’s continuing popularity now Rachel Ray has taken to wearing one) to wear such scarves.  Hell, even Top Shop sell them and I haven’t seen anybody putting pressure on them? Of course Burberry is famous for their checked scarfs, but I’m sure Mrs Malkin doesn’t mean those sort of checks or that type of scarf. After all, that would mean most of the royal family were offering symbolic support to Islamic extremism. Imagine, the royal family, the ultimate sleeper cell!

 

 If we are to follow the simplistic misguided logic of Mrs Malkin, shouldn’t we all stop wearing socks, trousers or even clothes all together, as, I’m pretty sure terrorists wear clothes. And we wouldn’t want to be seen offering symbolic support for any of those clothes wearing Islamic types would we! Of course, there could be a nudist terrorist organization that has passed under my radar!

 

Quite why these lunatics are afforded the oxygen of publicity is beyond me. Although I don’t begrudge Mrs Malkin her voice in the blogosphere and on the rabbid news networks that support people like her, such as Fox. Does this really have to make it onto the BBC, CNN, et al?  Is this really news? Although, as I have just written over 600 words on the subject maybe I should shut up…………..

Cure for Psoriasis

April 4, 2008
I have had psoriasis for as long as I can remember. I developed it some time in my early twenties and have lived with the ritual of creams, lotions and balms for so long the applications seem as much a part of my life as cleaning my teeth. I am not thrilled about having psoriasis, but in the great scheme of things it seemed like a small burden to bear. Unlike excema, psoriasis doesn’t generally irritate or weep and although the creams and lotions are annoying, they have managed to arrest the condition keeping it  from developing into something akin to the singing detective.  
Psoriasis is however, mentally debilitating. The batting away of crass, awkward remarks from friends and constant shaking of the shirt to remove flakes can undermine your confidence. After all, we all suffer from vanity in varying degrees. Just like port wine stains and birth marks, psoriasis is an ugly badge you would rather take off.
Like most psoriasis sufferers, I have endured every cream and lotion known to man. Many is the night I have gone to bed oiled up like a long distance swimmer, covered from head to toe in coal tar and steroid cream. I have also tried to tackle the condition through diet and supplements. Evening primrose oil, olive oil, cod liver oil, vitamin E, etc. I dropped dairy, cut out wheat, stopped drinking coffee; Hell, I even tried giving up drinking. No matter how conscientious I was,  nothing seemed to change. My psoriasis would still come and go regardless of any diet or lifestyle changes I made. Then, a month ago, I started adding flax to my diet. Being a man of a certain age I have, like the rest of the population over forty, a cholesterol problem. Flax is apparently “one of the most powerful cholesterol controllers yet discovered” and for this reason I  started adding it to my granola. 
Flax is a rich source of alpha linolenic acid, the plant version of omega 3. The oil in flax seed is 50%  alpha linolenic acid. Canola or walnut oil, the next best sources  have only 10%. This super injection of omega 3 has hopefully lowered my cholesterol, but one much more noticeable result of this minor dietary change can be seen in my skin. Taking two tablespoons of flax every day has cured my psoriasis.  
My skin is noticeably healthier. I have no scaly patches whatsoever. I’ve even stopped dusting my shoulders. All this in under four weeks. Even if this cure is unique to me, which I doubt, adding flax to any diet is so easy It must be worth a try. If you have psoriasis I implore you to try this. Adding a little flax to your cereal is a lot easier than rubbing yourself down with coal tar or steroid creams and if nothing else, it will lower your cholesterol and increase your fiber intake. As you can probably gather, I am now a keen advocate of the ‘miracle food’ flax. I am such a fan that if you know me, you may be getting a packet this Christmas!

Adventures in Advertising.

February 1, 2008

So, my adventures in advertising continue apace. I am now at a new company working exclusively for the spirits industry. No, I’m not working in an off license, I’m working for a marketing company writing slogans, taglines, body copy etc. for a major spirits manufacturer. I write anything and everything that encourages Americans to up their consumption of Alcohol! And to think, my grandfather was a member of the temperance society.

Anybody who knows me will probably assume this is the ideal job for someone with my experience in hard liquor. After all, I have the guilty pleasure of selling one of my favorite indulgencies to the general public on a daily basis. Each day I come up with inventive ways of communicating brand message to retailers, wholesalers and customers. The job can be serious fun and seriously challenging in equal measure, pardon the pun.

However, my greatest challenge is overcoming the linguistic differences between the American and British markets. My pithy little gems are quite often met with blank stares and comments like “I’m not sure whether that’s even a word dude”. Pointing out the word is in the American dictionary doesn’t seem to help.

I am also faced with the challenge of getting my genius past legal. As the drinks industry has taken to self-regulation in an attempt to avoid the restrictions befalling the tobacco industry, anything suggesting drinking alcohol has to be avoided. This makes my job challenging to say the least.

I recently had a suggestion rejected as the wording implied, “getting loaded”. The words I chose were taken from their product name! Correct me if I’m wrong, but take away the intoxicating nature of alcohol and I think you may be looking at a shrinking market! Heaven forbid you should ever offend anybody and even less, tell the truth!

 Although I fully understand the need to take your customers feelings into account, the need to avoid offending them is often taken to comical extremes! As an example, the tagline, “Make Coffee Not War”, suggested for a fictitious political campaign by a major coffee manufacturer, was rejected as it may offend the pro war lobby. Presumably, the line would have turned coffee into a pussy peacenik’s drink!

I am forcing myself to think and write as an American. Unfortunately, my target audience is in the mid west, so I have to think like a specific type of American, the ones who hate people like me!

 

Every day I wonder if my employers are sick of my English vernacular. It’s very difficult to work out whether I’m doing fine or going down in flames. Whenever I am handed a pay check I wonder whether it will contain the deadly ‘Pink Slip’. I could very well be one faux Pas away from the exit door! Today I’m chatting about the Super-bowl in a sad attempt to ingratiate myself to my co-workers. I’m trying to work the phrase ‘go long’ , the only American football term I know, into everything I say and do! I won’t be using this phrase in my work however, as going long could infer over consumption!

On the upside, there are no dogs in the office.