Tuesday, 2 March 2010

What I Know About Art

After my weekend trip to the National Art Gallery in DC.....I came to reflect on my appreciation of art. I grew up as a deprived individual when it came to artsy stuff. Face it....that's about number 133 on the important things to know when a kid graduates from school in Bama.

I came to realize a couple of years ago....that there were certain rules to this business...at least from a Bama prospective:

1. You can paint a barn and it's just work. But if you paint a barn on a 2 foot by 3 foot canvas.....that's art.

2. The best art is something folks buy...otherwise, you're just painting dogs, cows, and barns because you don't have nothing better to do.

3. You can criticize a guy for his art...and it just makes him feel better because at least you noticed.

4. Sadly, making a success out of your hobby typically means you are dead and six feet under.

5. Sometimes, the frame is worth more than the art....sadly.

6. If some guy exhibits your art, it typically means you might get a free supper, free booze, and just maybe.....a sale of your art.

7. Artist are suppose to suffer...it's written into the code of artists. Typically, it means you wanted to drink excessively on high-priced booze but instead had cheap Pabst that was on sale.

8. It's ok to pain silly things like goats, chickens, pumpkins, out-houses, tractors, fence posts, and even your dog or wife.

9. For some reason, painting trucks or tractors won't qualify you as an artist.

10. Finally, the odds of your painting of "Sparky".....your border collie....surviving 700 years and being referred to as a masterpiece? One percent. However, your portrait of Wanda, your wife, sitting on the back porch, in some desirable pose with overalls on....might just make it as a masterpiece.

That's my ten observations of art.

The Value of Art

Here in DC, Arlington and Maryland....we have Metro, our train, subway and bus service. It's a failure in the making....at least we are reminded of this daily.

Metro is spiraling to a point where safety is a daily concern. Profitability is non-existent and probably been that way since the late 1990s. And costs are discussed on a hour-by-hour basis within the company.

In early January....they decided that they had to make the ticket prices rise, and cut some personnel. All total....forty-six folks were cut from the enterprise. A week or two after the pink slips went out.....the board suddenly realized that the general manager....the actual guy running the daily operations....had terminated their art director.

Yes, unknown to most Metro passengers....Metro maintains a two-man art shop. Even I was shocked.

If you go on the Metro system.....the last thing on Earth that you ever see....is any art value. The underground stations are pretty bare except for maps, clocks, and concrete.

If you ride the Metro bus system....you tend to notice a funky mold smell....and that's about it.

The board woke up after the pink slips went out...found their art director gone....but his number two still in place. This was not going to be accepted.

So they put pressure on the general manager.....to bring the art director back. He was absolutely vital to the operation of Metro. He's now back on the payroll....while the other 45 guys remain terminated.

The guy clears a six-figure salary apparently....with full benefits. I can only imagine that he's got a full pension deal too.

The belief is that several major projects are in the works....art-wise....and this will be a wonderful thing. But if the art director is gone....all of this vital art stuff stops.

I tried to reason with myself how this would help improve the safety or reliability or the on-time situation with Metro.....but it would have required a full bottle of Jacky D's.....and I just didn't have enough.

So tonight....as the money guys of Metro analyze how to squeeze a $100 million out of $50 million....and as the safety guys try to figure a way to ensure 100 percent safe operations with a crapped-out train system....you can rest and feel assured that you've got the best damn art situation of any train system in America. My thinking is that both Trailways and Greyhound bus services should take up the art banner.....and they just might be as successful as Metro. Well....maybe.

The 51 Deal

Over the past three weeks....there must have been 700 hours on MSNBC, CBS, ABC, CNN, NBC, and Fox News over the "Nuke Option".

I now know more about the "Nuke Option" than the NCAA bowl process or the infield fly rule.

In the last day or so....I've come to this pondering in my mind....why do we make the "Nuke Option" special? Why not run this option 365 days out of the year and just make it normal operations in the senate? Fifty-one is a nifty number and it'd real simple to pass twice as many bills as we currently have.

I realize I might be upsetting folks....but if we just accepted the "Nuke Option"....we'd likely embrace it and love it.

With this in our hands....we could start to work on dozens of ideas which just sit there with no hope.

For example....we could revamp the NCAA bowl selection process with a 3,500-page bill....with promises to Nebraska of an absolute guaranteed position even if they had a 3-9 record. We could promise Florida of an absolute guaranteed position even if they were disqualified by the NCAA for illegal recruiting.

We could force Toyota to dissolve its empire in the US and allow Chevy, Chrysler, and Ford to regain their rightful places in America....with 2,100-odd pages of a bill. Naturally.....we'd be stuck with a pitiful selection of cars and second-rate trucks (except the F-150).....but since you only need 51 votes....it might be possible.

We could make Pabst the national beer with a 2,900-page bill.....with promises of $2 billion to Milwaukee, $44 billion to the Florida Everglades, $3.5 billion for a national monument in Arizona, and $66 billion promised to the great state of Idaho if they just keep their mouth shut over this deal.

The sad thing here is that there are actually some 16-year old kids who now know more about the "Nuke Option", than the Constitution. That in itself....ought to make you scratch your head and wonder what the heck we've done here.