Below is the latest The Pain -- When Will It End?
Updated 7/13/05

Artist's Statement

Before we get on to this week's artist's statement, an announcement and a request: I will be giving a slideshow and reading at Ravenna Third Place Books at 6504 20th St. NE in Seattle at 7:30 P.M. on July 28th. If anyone out in the Seattle area has access to a digital projector I may use for the evening, it will save me the considerable expense of renting one. In token of my gratitude I will gladly give you a copy of my new book, warmly inscribed to you, my new best friend.

They unveiled a new design for the Freedom Tower last week, this one redesigned with concessions to security concerns. If anything, it is even less inspiring than the original lopsided postmodern mediocrity proposed. And it really does have a fortress-like Brutalist concrete base. (I find it embarassing even to write the words "Freedom Tower." Who named this building--a ten-year-old? George Bush and his cohort have so utterly debased the world "freedom," as to render it worse than meaningless; as with the American flag, they've pissed on it to mark it as their turf, and turned it into the exclusive property of jingoistic, warmongering shitheads. Whenever I hear them use the word "freedom" now, I mentally substitute the word "oil," and suddenly the sentence is translated into perfect sense: "Oil is on the march," "The terrorists hate our oil," "Our heroic troops have paid the ultimate price for oil," "Oil isn't free," etc.) As an aficianado of extremely tall buildings (Empire State Building: always #1 in my heart!), I have nothing but contempt for a pretender that's a stubby seventy stories but tries to steal the mantle of Tallest Building on Earth with a hollow, uninhabited superstructure and a spire. Like, fuck you, Freedom Tower! It's a building that is, in effect, cringing. Like the Bush administration, it is both arrogant and craven, with its head hunched down between its shoulders but waving a flag at the top of a very long pole. (It occurred to me too late that I ought to have drawn the Fear Tower as just the block of concrete with a thousand-foot flagpole sticking out of the top.) If that's the best we can do we deserve to lose out to Malaysia. For what I'm pretty sure is the first time in my life I am agreement with Donald Trump, who argues that we ought to rebuild the World Trade Centers, even taller than before.

The Fear Tower seems to me, I'm sorry to say, to be the perfect symbol for what America has become in the last four years: the most cowardly nation on Earth. I was truly impressed by the way Londonders have behaved in the wake of the last round of terrorist attacks; they just got back on the buses and subways and went back to work the next day. They did not shut down the city for weeks or close their borders or round up a bunch of Arabs at random and indefinitely "detain" them without charges. New Yorkers were just as brave and defiant after 9/11; it was the rest of the country, the mean-drunk soccer moms and blubbering NASCAR dads back in suburbia, who saw it all happen on T.V. and crapped their pants with fear, imagining the barbarian hordes storming their gated communities, and begged their big powerful daddy in Washington to please take away our civil liberties and clamored for us to go to war against somebody, anybody. So more Homeland Security funding per capita goes to the trembling yokels of Wyoming, of which no terrorist has ever heard, than to the residents of New York City. 9/11 was the single best thing that ever happened to George W. Bush (after being born into the right family); he should be thanking his Lord Jesus for it every night in his prayers and beseeching Him please to send more terrorists to kill more New Yorkers. Fear is absolutely the only thing he has going for him. Without it, even the American people might eventually notice that he's sold their country out from under them. The people who voted George Bush back into office voted for him because they were afraid; I voted for Kerry because I'm not. I'm not afraid of anyone Geroge Bush wants me to be afraid of.


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