Wednesday, 26 August 2009

It Feels Like 1938

There is an article worth reading today....but it won't be the positive type or humorous type that you are used to. It was written by Patrick Courrielche.

Patrick got a call on 6 August. He was invited by the National Endowment for the Arts....to attend a conference call. Set for four days later....it was to be hosted by the NEA, the White House Office of Public Engagement, and United We Serve crowd.

This conference call? It would end up including “a group of artists, producers, promoters, organizers, influencers, marketers, taste-makers, leaders or just plain cool people to join together and work together to promote a more civically engaged America and celebrate how the arts can be used for a positive change!”

This was likely the first hint of something that you really didn't need to worry about or think about.

So the call would come.....75 guests. You could label the group as street-artists, filmmakers, art galleries, music venues, musicians and music producers, writers, poets, actors, independent media outlets, and marketers.

The opening of this message? It was a call....labeled as an opportunity for those in the art community....to be part of a message to the nation, in several topic areas. You can guess the topics: “health care” and “energy and environment.”

The theme throughout the call? A soft reminder....the ability of artists to “shape the lives” of people.

At some point....you start to remember that the NEA was never created to push policy. You can't find a single moment that this was written down or considered in the charter of the NEA.

Then toward the end of this conference call....came these uneasy words:
“This is just the beginning. This is the first telephone call of a brand new conversation. We are just now learning how to really bring this community together to speak with the government. What that looks like legally?…bare with us as we learn the language so that we can speak to each other safely… “


I sat there for half an hour after reading the article. All I could contemplate....is 1938.

It was 1938....it was simple to convince folks of just about anything. They were naive...they were without a mental compass.....they wanted a fantastic dream to believe in.

The NEA was a vehicle for artist to hang their hat on and get government grants to work on their art....not their politics. By taking a stand like this....the leadership of the NEA invites a destruction element. It would seem like that artists would grasp the meaning of this conference call. But if they don't....they may well find themselves compared to Germans in 1938....who lost an entire generation because of their foolishness.

Religious Police

In most countries, you have local cops, state cops, federal cops, and then the secret police. In Saudi Arabia….you have a fifth group….the religious police.

Naturally, you are likely standing thinking…hmmmm….what exactly do religious police do?

They normally aim their valuable time on immoral activities….like wearing shorts, mingling with ladies at the mall, and doing unmanly things.

In the past month in Saudi Arabia…the religious police have taken up a new threat to the public….summer festivals and circuses. Now on one side…the government itself went out and found these Middle Eastern circus companies and hired them to help boost up domestic tourism. On the other side, the religious police now believe that this kinda violates strict religious restrictions….like singing, dancing, and the mixing of unrelated men and women. They also mentioned "evil" circus performances.

I sat there a while…being from Bama….wondering what exactly they meant by “evil” circus performances. The best we can figure….is that this includes fire-eating and lying on a bed of glass. For some reason…this is considered magic, which is outlawed by Islamic law.

We probably need some religious police in Bama…..to help prevent boozing, partying, and funny business. They’d have to be Baptists of course….and likely have to have walking sticks to whack on guys if necessary. The problem I see is that they'd eventually end up like the Saudi religious police....and arresting folks for cutting grass in shorts, winking at women, cussing over Bama losing a NCAA game, and guys telling lies over what road they took to get from Mobile to Montgomery.