TAKE A BATH?
Grover Norquist wants to shrink government and drown in a bathtub. Fiscal conservatives and Tea Party people want to eliminate bureaucracy and social programs as long as it doesn't affect their social security. Since shrinking government means that actual people will lose their jobs in order that our taxes be reduced, let's look at the effect it will have on them and what we will save on our taxes. I'm not an economist so I would welcome someone who would put some figures to the test. First lets assume that we put many thousands of bureaucrats out of work by shrinking government. At an average wage of say seventy thousand dollars we could save some real money. Sounds good except that they would then collect unemployment benefits that would shrink our savings by one quarter. Money that they would have spent in the market place would also be a factor affecting the countries economic growth. We should also count on less government service. Did I mention that these bureaucrats actually work for us and we may have to spend more time in line or driving further to get to the post office. It's hard to calculate the cost of less services, time and gas money. On top of that reduction we should add that the job loss means that these unemployed will be paying much less into the tax rolls, meaning that our revenues will shrink by many dollars.
When we divide our ‘savings’ by our tax paying population, we may actually save a penny on our taxes. That's a great saving for putting all those families on the dole. It’s especially poor thinking when the country is trying to get out of a crisis brought on by these same conservatives who thought that going to war would be fun and allowing banks to run free would be rewarding. To get back to that penny we saved, when I spot a penny on the sidewalk I hesitate to pick it up not only because of a sore back, it just doesn't seem worth it. Is it worth it?
Letter to Editor Buf News 2014
I recently visited the Grand Canyon and although I had been there a few times before, I still feel it’s absolutely the most amazing place in this country. I’m told this area was once was a mountain; and much later a huge ocean-formed lake; and then that water gradually eroded through the rock until what it became is what we see today. You can see each layer of sedimentary rock pushed up by tectonic plate actions. Changes happened over millions of years. It’s too much time to be realized by our small brains but it is a lesson in humility. If you stretch a string around the world and stick a pin into it, that pin would represent us, our history, our time on earth. So we should feel humble, and realize that time will eat us up. The earth will continue without us, and we won’t even leave a scar on its surface. Time is such a strange concept. As children we feel its weight: will it ever pass, will we ever get ‘big’? Later the summers seem long and there’s so much to study. As we get to be adults it speeds up and we watch the new generation grow. Wasn’t it just yesterday that our kids couldn’t walk? Now they’re in college and I’m getting ready to retire. We start to feel it when we bounce through the next ten years and our lives seem much too short and often unaccomplished. My mother was born in 1904 and lived almost a hundred years. During her short time on earth she experienced the Wright brothers flight, a couple of World Wars and more. She saw the moon landing and the space shuttle and also a few steps of the social revolution that still continues. It seemed to me like a lot of history, but you could throw it, along with Niagara Falls, into the Grand Canyon and it would be lost. All of our lives and history will be lost to time. My art, along with all of the greats, will equally be disintegrated. The bright side is that greed and evil will go with it. That’s the lesson of the Canyon, the world doesn’t revolve around us. So, even humbled we are left with the problems of how to lead our lives. What will be the effects of the decisions we make, for us and future generations. Our tendencies are to concentrate on the immediate problems and let the future take care of itself. Planning far ahead, when it comes to most people, doesn’t work. We mostly lack the education and self-criticism to look at our actions and admit our mistakes. The consequences of that are leading us to a sour end of our humanity. As an artist who believes in social action I use my art to try to make us more aware of the effects of warming on the environment. I strongly feel the most important threat to our civilization is global warming. It’s not ISIS, not gun control, not the right to marry, not the Supreme Court, and not education (we missed that boat). Global warming - with its many charms including an increasingly boiling weather, pestilence, migration, famine, civil disintegration and economic fallout — sounds like the nightmare that it is. We have started an avalanche and I doubt technology can save us, has it ever? Maybe it sounds too dismal for you. It’s the news none of us wants to hear. If you consider yourself to be a realist, someone who cares about your grandchildren and their kids; maybe it’s time to find a way to work for a better environment and a better future. For the Buffalo News My View 2015 visited the Grand Canyon and although I had been there a few times before, I still feel it’s absolutely the most amazing place in this country. I’m told this area was once was a mountain; and much later a huge ocean-formed lake; and then that water gradually eroded through the rock until what it became is what we see today. You can see each layer of sedimentary rock pushed up by tectonic plate actions. Changes happened over millions of years. It’s too much time to be realized by our small brains but it is a lesson in humility.
If you stretch a string around the world and stick a pin into it, that pin would represent us, our history, our time on earth. So we should feel humble, and realize that time will eat us up. The earth will continue without us, and we won’t even leave a scar on its surface.
Time is such a strange concept. As children we feel its weight: will it ever pass, will we ever get ‘big’? Later the summers seem long and there’s so much to study. As we get to be adults it speeds up and we watch the new generation grow. Wasn’t it just yesterday that our kids couldn’t walk? Now they’re in college and I’m getting ready to retire. We start to feel it when we bounce through the next ten years and our lives seem much too short and often unaccomplished.
My mother was born in 1904 and lived almost a hundred years. During her short time on earth she experienced the Wright brothers flight, a couple of World Wars and more. She saw the moon landing and the space shuttle and also a few steps of the social revolution that still continues. It seemed to me like a lot of history, but you could throw it, along with Niagara Falls, into the Grand Canyon and it would be lost. All of our lives and history will be lost to time. My art, along with all of the greats, will equally be disintegrated. The bright side is that greed and evil will go with it. That’s the lesson of the Canyon, the world doesn’t revolve around us.
So, even humbled we are left with the problems of how to lead our lives. What will be the effects of the decisions we make, for us and future generations. Our tendencies are to concentrate on the immediate problems and let the future take care of itself. Planning far ahead, when it comes to most people, doesn’t work. We mostly lack the education and self-criticism to look at our actions and admit our mistakes. The consequences of that are leading us to a sour end of our humanity.
As an artist who believes in social action I use my art to try to make us more aware of the effects of warming on the environment. I strongly feel the most important threat to our civilization is global warming. It’s not ISIS, not gun control, not the right to marry, not the Supreme Court, and not education (we missed that boat). Global warming - with its many charms including an increasingly boiling weather, pestilence, migration, famine, civil disintegration and economic fallout — sounds like the nightmare that it is. We have started an avalanche and I doubt technology can save us, has it ever?
Maybe it sounds too dismal for you. It’s the news none of us wants to hear. If you consider yourself to be a realist, someone who cares about your grandchildren and their kids; maybe it’s time to find a way to work for a better environment and a better future.
For the Buffalo News My View 2015
I have recently been criticized by John Messier in a Hallwalls on line newsletter, about a letter published in Art Voice in November that criticized the Albright-Knox’s ‘deaccessioning’ policy (also known as Selling the Farm). John starts his critique by jumping on a statement I made that this sale of the old art may be used to buy “interminably minimalist art”. John defends ‘minimalist’ art calling it “-real, beautiful and sublime. He doesn’t understand that it’s called minimal for a reason, and that reason is that there’s very little there. I don’t want to get off the subject but since the art market is booming (AKAG’s reason for the sale), I have begun a series of minimal art that is the epitome of minimalism and has both the art market and minimal artists salivating. I want to offer the gallery my very first piece in this series, which is a metric cube of air titled “No!”. I will offer it at a reduced price and since I don’t have a gallery no commission is involved. I also agree with John that it’s sublime, but I waver on the beautiful.
John then turns to my criticism of the ‘mission statement’ and quotes it from the AKAG’s website. Yes John, I agree that they do have a mission and that is to sell off a bunch of ‘oldies’ to buy some new hot stuff. In my second letter later published in Art Voice I show how in a AKAG book entitled “100”, 1868-1968, that there was no mission statement or reason to be a solely contemporary collection. In fact, many if not all of the previous directors have valued and realized the educational and inspirational use of this ‘deaccessioned’ art. This is the real center of the argument. The gallery claims that it owns this art and has made a difficult but necessary decision because of the booming art market and the difficulty to pay today’s high prices. I don’t play the market but isn’t the common wisdom to buy low, not when the market is high? If all of the galleries refused to buy in a high market won’t the prices come back down to earth? The question isn’t can the AKAG make this move. The question is, is it a wise decision. All of the previous directors have valued this art and have seen the wisdom of keeping it.
John goes on about my statement that the gallery trots out art like fashion. Well, look at their collection. It’s real upbeat, colorful, and certainly avoids a great number of artist with ‘dark’ messages. Out of all of the great Francis Beacon paintings they choose the least offensive painting to represent him. And the beat goes on from there. The gallery is like an ivory tower of taste and ‘intellect’. It’s hard to deny it.
John goes on to complain that my statement, “throw the bum’s out” misrepresents the fine staff who work at the gallery. I do agree they are professional and probably very competent. The bums I would like to throw out are the ones sitting on the board of directors. Barbara Hollender and I were invited to the gallery by Louis Grachos to meet with him and Karen Spaulding, to discuss the sale. It was a good meeting and we asked for a list of what things are going to be sold. It wasn’t available yet because Sotheby’s hasn’t finished working on the provance’s. Apparently this collection has been a part of the gallery for decades and yet the gallery does not have its history. Our concern that the gallery is part of the community, and that they were not responding to community pressures etc. was ended when Grachos said that the Buffalo Fine Arts Academy owned the works, not the public. So in spite of the gallery sitting on public land and receiving our tax dollars it was their right to sell.
Finally, John quotes Elizabeth Licata who defends the gallery with the company line. Patrick Klinck, another “deassessation” dissenter, thinks Licata’s assertion that the gallery doesn’t have the luxury of space to store these works is laughable.
“They have room for a twenty-two foot sculpture in the center of the sculpture court but no room for a two foot bronze.”
Licata once wrote in Art Voice after touring the Andy Warhol show in Philadelphia that she never understood any art prior to Warhol. So she never understood what the Renaissance was about. but she does understand that the gallery is doing the right thing? Can an art critic who admits to not understanding art before Warhole seriously weigh in on the value of this sale? I rest my case.
As was said in my original letter there is a similarity in the way that the gallery did this number on us (the public), and Bush’s moves to get us into war, by rewriting history, and misrepresenting the facts. Throw in some arrogance too. I like Louis Grachos and many of the things he’s done and brought to the gallery. This isn’t about my likes and dislikes, it’s about an unwise decision that once done can’t be reversed. As Tom Freudenheim who first criticized the gallery in a ‘Wall Street Journal’ article says: “This really isn't about what one or the other of us likes or dislikes. It's about pretending that recent art has no roots, which is precisely the opposite of what previous directors tried to show. Most regional have limited resources and spotty and/or sporadic collections; but those bits and pieces of the past demonstrate that art has a continuity.”
On deaccession of AKAG art
I have lived on the west side most of my life. Recently there have been many improvements made mostly by the people who live here. We all want a better neighborhood but I feel that building a truck plaza here is another big mistake much like the Robert Moses thruway that separates the people from the water. Tearing up the park and the fine existing houses is a huge mistake and I fault the mayor and Brian Higgins for leading this charge. I can understand the frustration of not getting this issue resolved but the only thing worse than doing nothing, is doing the wrong thing, and tearing up the West Side is definitely the wrong thing.
Why is working to reconnect the city with the waterfront downtown a good thing, while building a truck plaza that separates us from the river considered a good solution? Why doesn't the city back the Ambassador Plan and have a bridge built with private monies? Why is federal money good when it comes here and called 'pork' if it's for a dumb project in Kansas? Pork is pork, it drives up the federal budget an in the end we have to pay for it. Instead of praising our congressmen for bringing in Federal money here, they should be praised for keeping federal spending down. At a time when the country is deep in debt and needs to spend so much more for health insurance and other good projects, isn't denying our own pork projects the right thing, and the patriotic thing to do.
After talking to a Corps of Engineers architect I learned that the old railroad bridge will soon need replacing. Why can't a new bridge be built there that would include truck and rail traffic. That would relieve the Peace Bridge and other bridges of the truck traffic that is the major problem with all of our bridges. A truck plaza could be built in the old industrial area near Amherst St. The Peace Bridge could then be remodeled with a cable suspension system replacing the ugly bridge section over the canal.
It seems obvious to me that this is a bad plan so why then is it being pushed. Be aware that every architect would love to have their name on a bridge and every politician would love to be in charge of the spending.
If this plan was in the back yard of Brian Higgins or Mayor Brown, it wouldn't happen and I'm really disappointed in them for letting it happen to this neighborhood. This is no way to help or beautify the West Side.
Letter to Editor, Buf News
In the Buffalo News column ‘Another Voice’ James E Carr voices the opportunity for the Albright Knox Art Gallery to establish a satellite gallery at Terminals A and B in the Outer Harbor. I agree that the gallery should build, not an extension of its present space, but one that would be part of the redevelopment of the downtown East Side. Not only the gallery but the Zoo and other institutions need to grow and the Buffalo art community could use space for its creative needs.
I can envision the development of that area with a new Olmsted like park, cull de sac housing units, athletic areas, a small lake, a golf course, a large zoo complex and a cultural arts space for the gallery and more. It’s a vision that would need a super planner and a long-term development team and it could be done a little bit at a time. When the expressway was built many houses were moved from the parkway to another area. The problems of developing that area can be overcome. Access to recreational space for downtown workers and east side residents would be a huge draw and hasten the move from suburbs back to the city.
The next part of the puzzle to complete a new Buffalo is the problem of schools and the influx of many minorities that don’t speak English. Having a competent school system is the key to economic growth and a healthy community.
Letter to Editor, 2015
Justice Scalia’s blood is still warm as I write this but I bet his brain’s neurons danced happily, knowing that the timing of his passing would set the stage for enough political scrambling to make a short novel.
The right wing republicans who dislike the President and his perpetual tan, (not that there’s anything wrong with that), immediately wanted to squash any nomination that he would make. Even if Obama acted like God (or maybe Frankenstein,) and resurrected and re-nominated Scalia to the court they would reject that nomination. This, in spite of accepting the possibility of a deadlocked eight-person court that could last beyond another full term.
Now the fun starts. If Obama had a sense of humor he would immediately nominate Bernie Sanders, who could give back equally to a hostile Senate Judiciary Committee, or Rubio who could in the future repeat the same opinion over and over for every decision. How about a flaming liberal like Allen Dershowitz or Al Gore? Al Gore, finally getting on the court that screwed him out of the Presidency and bush-wacked us into a quagmire that still persists. A black woman scholar or writer could be an interesting try. My personal choice would be Woody Allen, who could add some dry humor and could also make the film.
This could make some really good theater and would push the real nomination onto the next President’s lap stretching out the eight-man court for at least another eighteen months. It’s possible that if The Donald won the election, really, would he appoint his daughter as long as he can’t date her. He does have a raft of lawyers that has kept him afloat in spite of bad business decisions. How about the possibility of Ted Cruz nominating someone to the Senate, which still hasn’t given him a vote of confidence. Bush could nominate his brother who needs something interesting to do around the house.
Of course many of these guys are too old for the court, but not the Presidency, and Obama has to find a moderate humanist conservative without a written record that could muster a split vote of confidence. Kicking the can down the road could mean an end of chipping away at Obama Care too. Oh, the angst, all of those many senseless votes to repeal the act washed down the drain with anti-abortion restrictions too.
What a dilemma too for the court. For instance, where is that black dude going to hide without Scalia leading the way. Can he take up the mantel of courage and actually speak. Ginsberg, now that she has lost a friend, may decide to pack it in too and give the whole committee a two for the price of one Supreme Court Sale.
Have courage friends, the night is young and surely there may yet be another wrinkle in the political quilt of politics.
Letter to Editor Buf News 2016
KATE FUNK, AKAG
Thanks for responding to my note.
While you indicate that the AKAG has shown local art with two artists it still doesn't make much of a case. I have been an artist in the community since the early sixties. Early in my career I did, with Adele Cohen, open a gallery that showed local and national artist, many that are represented in the Gallery. We were the first gallery (Including the AKAG) to show Pop and Op art but could never get someone from the Knox to take a look. That snobbish, elitist attitude pretty much continued until Robert Buck and later Louis Grachos became interested in the local art scene.
People were concerned that the gallery would continue to be part of the community when the new director was appointed. I heard a lot of assurances that it would continue, but I see a return to the old model of disinterest. All of the 'Public Art' installed has been outside artists (the latest being out side of the realm of art) and a pretty sad but much publicized Shark Girl. This is a poor image for the gallery who's real interest is raising funds for a new addition.
I have had three shows at the Burchfield Penney and a history in the art community. Currently I'm raising money for a project on the environment: Environment/Maze and working to that end. I haven't had any support from the gallery or its staff as is usually the case they are in their own world. Recently (a week ago) the news published a piece I wrote on the Grand Canyon, which puts the art world into perspective. We all pay to much attention to it.
My last remark is that if the Gallery wanted to buy one of my pieces I would have to say no. I have seen many of my friends sell to the gallery and have their art disappear into the stacks never to be seen again. Now, why would I continue to support the Gallery?
Thanks for letting me vent,
TO THE EDITOR,
Listening to the ‘talking heads’ both on Fox and CNN and many of the White House press conferences I keep hearing that “Obama Care” is ‘imploding’ and costs rising, etc..
Keep in mind that fixing some of the problems of the AHC Act was a option that was possible had it not been for the Republicans, led by Mitch McConnell who said on day one of Obama’s election, that their first priority would be that they would do every thing they could to make his presidency unsuccessful. He didn’t say that it would be to do the best thing for the nation.
They did follow through on their promises, (including shutting down the government) refusing to make any changes that would have improved the AHC Act. Many of the Republican State Governors refused to allow the option of Medicaid that kept many from opting in and resulted in the CBO over estimating the success of the act.
Republicans now point to these causes as they try to pass a health care act that while wearing sheep’s clothing it’s just a reason to give breaks to companies and tax relief (remember trickle down theories) to the very wealthy. Taxes for the middle class will increase and although choices for health care may increase few will be able to afford it.
This lame plan was hastily put together in spite of eight years of promising change. They didn’t think they would control government and didn’t have a clue as to what that plan might be. As a result their biggest problem isn’t the Democrats, it’s the far right within their party. Republicans who favor a lower budget by dismembering Medicare better hold on to their seats. When the Donald opens the Treasury to finance the military, build his wall, give tax breaks to the rich, deregulate Wall Street and rebuild the country’s infrastructure, he may just declare the country bankrupt. Get a lawyer!
MY AUNT MARY
My Aunt Mary has done it. She passed the century mark and is still fun to talk to. We had the big party, everyone converging on Dallas to spend time with her and reminisce with the ‘kids’ and other admirers. The food was great. We’re a family of food and watching her son Mark put on a show in the kitchen is something. We bring gifts to Mary mostly in the reintroduction of old memories, once and again lost memories she can enjoy.
A lot of friends came to honor her life. She was the center of attention. It’s hard to think of ourselves as old kids and hard to think that our lives too, are drawing to a close. Most likely we won’t beat out Mary and our later years may be much harder for others to endure. Looking back in time, searching our memory, is similar to looking forward, trying to imagine what the future will bring. We engage in a kind of time travel.
But time is a human concept that other animals don't consider at all. Like Mary, they live the moment. We do too unless someone is late or food is burning on the stove. Loosing memory, like on my computer or thru aging, is loosing time. When time no longer exists, our history is gone. Could be good if I could be selective about it. Just how can I delete that guy, that conversation or that embarrassing moment in my history? I was such a fool. Actually we’re pretty good at forgetting our bad moments. Computers could be a good stand-in for our dissipating brain function and a record of our history as we imagine and reimagine it to be. I know how much my remembrances differ from my sisters, so what is the truth of our youth, of our history?
Some thoughts enter my mind as I write and pet my cat. Will I outlive my cat? Will she come to my funeral or will I go to hers. I can evaluate our friendship, but does the cat 'really' like me or have I made up her life in the puddle of my mind. My thoughts bounce around a lot. I don’t know if it’s a new thing or something I just noticed. It could be part of being an artist, the creative repositioning of things, like making a collage of life.
Geologic time is pretty hard to grasp, all those layers of minerals covering what could possibly be lost civilizations unrelated to our own short visitation on this globe. I guess the earth was habitable at many points along the way, between disasters like the occasional meteor or volcanic disruption. We may be, our so-called civilization, the latest disaster to put a small dent in those layers of lost energy. We do know that some life existed in the seas, which gave us the calcified records of time. It was only by chance or luck that the first 'fish' made it to shore. How many times could that have happened while the earth sucked up the sun and evolved its chemical balance? We’re reaching for shore now again as we contemplate visits to Mars. Our hope is that we can start a re-civilization again not having had much success with our civility here on Earth.
They say that the victors get to write history from their point of view so is it important to get in the last word? I wouldn’t want to be the last man standing and have the burden of describing what we were all about. Even the family version is a task.
For My View, Buf News, September, 2016
Hey, guys, I woke up this morning with a most brilliant idea. I can make America Great Again! Really! I don’t want to sound like Donald Trump, but really, it could work. It’s simple and unlike the Donald it would mean that we wouldn’t have to build ‘The Wall’. Nor would we have to stop immigrants from coming over the border, or raise wages for the poor. And the Republicans would get their wish for smaller government, less taxes and a free land grab on some of the best underground wealth around. All these and many more benefits could happen with the proverbial flip of a switch.
Have you guessed where I’m going with this? Actually not to far, it’s right below us. Mexico! Yes, we just have to offer Mexico the right to take back all of the land that we grabbed over the pretention of a fight at the Alamo. Reparation’s! I mean that was really a lot of land to grab for a little fight.
And the Mexican’s, they would jump at the chance to actually own the land that they have been working at so hard, doing all the poor paying jobs that we don’t want to do. That would make them so happy that they would gladly build a wall to keep us out! Some would hate the idea I know. After all some of the richest people in the world are Mexicans. They already own most of Mexican wealth and government. They think rich Americans are slow to get ahead. After all, how hard is it to buy the government and several sport teams to make the poor happy. We tend to think of Mexico as a poor country but they’re not. It’s more like poor people sitting on a rich country.
But that’s not the deal. The Deal I would make would be that we would incorporate them into our wonderful democracy! All of their states could become states of the Union. It would mean that we would have to take on a lot more Senators and Representatives but we could pay them less and keep benefits to a minimum. Finally the Republicans can get another chance to reach out, as they proposed after the 2012 election, to all those potential minority voters, people that gladly vote for the ‘dream’ of better jobs and less discrimination. Dream on babies!
No more ‘Nanny’ problems for politicians. No more trouble finding gardeners. No maid problems. No more trouble with factories being built in Mexico, they would be back in the States! Look at all the great beaches we could now own. No long lines going through customs. There are just too many benefits to name.
Look at it this way Liberals; we could get rid of Texas! Ted Cruz too. Maybe we could throw in Utah and Alabama. I could make that deal! I could not only make America great again I could make it ‘Bigger and Greater’. Might have to change the name a bit, like Amexica or maybe a corporate style name like AMX. Could work!
Don’t worry about the drug wars, we wouldn’t have any fights about smuggling drugs into the country, we could actually attach them to the free trade agreement and really make out. It’s all plusses! And one more last benefit, the women down here are absolutely beautiful. There is something to say about the Mexican diet combined with high heels. It seals the Deal. Get another life Donald.
Ben Perrone, for the News
NY STATE ENERGY
I recently heard again about the oil states problems with falling gas problems and how it may affect the energy free status of its citizens. They pay very low prices for gas and have been basically living off the wealth of the land. For many decades they had been used to a tax free state but that was now going to change.
Wouldn’t it be nice to get some tax relief in New York State? No one would be against that. How about doing something that would spur business, loosen money for the infrastructure and help with huge environmental problems down the line. No objections?
Something can be done and Governor Cuomo has started by lending support to the solar industry in Western New York. Using state lands, parks and buildings as possible support for solar and wind use would be a boon to the solar and wind industries in the state. Think of all of the state land, parks, and university property that can support a huge amount of energy collection facilities in this state. Energy collectors built on the land, on buildings and over parking areas. Google satellite the SUNY campus’s, parks and buildings and see how much area can be bent to collect energy, in many cases they would collect energy instead of using air conditioning to get rid of the heat.
Western New York has benefited greatly in the last ten years as New York State senators and the Governor have paid more attention to the region. I remember many former state leaders who never set foot out of the NYC area while other cities in the state languished with government indifference. But now, with the global warming being the behemoth problem for the world, we have a chance with their concern to slow its progress and benefit from carbon free energy growth. In many ways compared to the high-density building of New York City, the more open areas of the state lend themselves to wind and solar growth. Western New York especially has an advantage being on the terminal of the Niagara Falls energy supply system.
Using state lands for solar energy, better conservation, and more tax incentives for energy conservation would be a huge and monumental step in reducing state energy costs. This would encourage more industrial growth. Lower energy costs would bring more jobs to the state, increase revenue and free monies to grow mass transit, decrease pollution, fortify education and be an overall incentive for better living and health in what would be the most progressive state.
As a longtime artist in Buffalo I have become more interested in political and social problems that lend themselves to artistic comment. I would like to get more artists involved in these extremely important issues. After doing some pieces along this line at the Burchfield Penney Art Center, I am now trying to involve more artists to work to produce a large project that would rally support for environment. This project that would give the public a more intense experience of what being in a disaster would feel like. The project, over 8,000 square feet would need the support and creativity of many local artists. Our goal comes at a time that’s right for social, environmental and political change. Mitigating the effects of climate changes will, whether we like it or not, be the most important cause of our time.
For My View, Buffalo News
This week’s article about a mural done by two Baltimore artists has really emphasized that the Albright Knox’s role in bringing art and artists from outside of the city is insulting to the Buffalo art community. We do have a great community of artists in the city who have more than enough talent to fill the role of placing art in public spaces. Few or none of these public spaces have been given to the Buffalo
Buffalo artists are now realizing how much they miss former director Louis Grachos. Louis was an active director, one who loved art no matter where it was conceived. He brought some great art to the AKAG, purchased local artists for the collection, was always present at art openings, and was a frequent visitor to many art studios. Louis also initiated ‘Beyond/In WNY’ a show involving artists and galleries that showcased Western New York art. None of this is of interest to the current director or board of directors who assume the role of elitists, looking down on the locals while asking for funding from taxpayers including artists.
The current goal of the AKAG is to expand their footprint again using another out of town architect. As always they will be asking and receiving our tax dollars. Is this just another way that money from the middle class benefits the rich, like tax money for a football stadium?
Ben Perrrone for the News 2016
It’s obvious that the attorney general Jeff Sessions lied or another way of putting it mislead the Senate about his two meetings with the Russian ambassador also known to the intelligence committee as the number one Russian spy. You just don’t forget those meetings especially at a time when the Russian hacking and interference with our elections was going on. The second meeting was in his office and one may wonder if there were notes taken or some other form of information on that meeting exists. So if as the White House says he was doing this as a member of the Armed Service Committee did he report these meetings back to the committee or did he pass it on to the then President elect Donald Trump or his other surrogates. (Remember that Sessions was a very early supporter of the Trump candidacy and an asset to his success.) If that was the case was it shared with the actual government in charge or Intelligence Community? So far no other committee members have said they have met with the Russian ambassador and have offered no information that they knew about Sessions meeting.
Where do we go from here? If Sessions passed information to the Trump camp what was that information? The White House, already making excuses for him, will not be happy if a special prosecutor is appointed and Sessions is the number one witness. There is no way that they would leave him out to dry and possibly reveal where and how this information was used. Remember that Trump won’t reveal his tax information so he certainly won’t want Sessions coming clean to a special prosecutor.
It’s always the cover up that blows up. In spite of knowing this the Trump camp and especially Trump will still try to hide the truth. So in an effort to turn off the faucet they may give Sessions immunity from prosecution so he won’t have to take the Fifth Amendment, a huge embarrassment for an Attorney General. Trump could also pardon him for past misconduct.
This leads the public to wonder why the then President Elect and former candidate would be so cozy and complementary about Putin. Did they have something in common? Did they share information about Russian hacking and intrusion in the election? Putin has revealed himself to be a thug of sorts who wants Russia to be great again. That’s his appeal to the Russian people whose brush with democracy didn’t work out to well as Russia was disseminated and western influence grew in its place.
Things aren’t working out so well with the Republicans, happy as they were with the results of the election and their control of the government. It turns out that so far their worst enemy, not the press or the Democrats, may be President Tweet.
In 1978 I sold my house, bought four and a half acres or land south of the city and started to build a solar house. With the help of my cousin, architect Horace Franco, we designed a house that I could build, although I had only limited building experience. That was interesting but it didn’t prove to be a decisive problem. I did learn, as I went along, how to do many things and in the end did all of the electric, plumbing and most of the carpentry and building.
The house was designed to have many energy saving features, built into a hillside, facing south with many energy saving features. It had thick six-inch walls and ceilings that were filled with 12 inches of insulation. The plan was to build our own water style collectors that would sit on the slanted south facing roof, collect the heated water and saving it in a ground built reservoir covered with insulation. This heat source would be tapped by a heat pump during the heating season to supply the house heat. What could be wrong with that plan?
I had a slow start as the contractor’s machine kept breaking down delaying the digging out of the hillside and laying out the foundation. On top of that, the plan of having cement trucks pour the thirteen-foot walls was delayed because of problems with getting trucks up the wet hillside. Finally, frustrated with the slow start I decided to build the walls using a system of dry block and rebar. It was a slow process as we had to raise the wall three feet at a time, hand pouring the cement into the block cavities to reduce the pressure and prevent breakout of the block cavities. The result of this slow start delayed the progress and finally on the forth of January I was able to get the heat and water working and move into a small portion of the roughed in house using plastic partitions. This didn’t stop the infestation of field mice when the house was open, they loved living in the many boxes of stored house stuff, chewing away until I decided that they were just too friendly. With the help of a have a heart trap I slowly caught an exiled them back to the acres of land from which they came.
After a couple of years of building I sat down with my brother Peter and Jim Eichler who did the earth moving work, to plan the rest of the solar work. We realized that the energy usage of the house was very low, this because a combination of thick wall insulation, other good energy features and the energy efficient heat pump. This would determine how much we could save by adding solar heat. Although I would build cheap solar collectors and an inexpensive storage solution the costs would exceed leaving the house stand as a passive solar house.
So that was the early eighties before it was possible to store your energy by sending it back into the ‘grid’. If that had been possible it would have eliminated the large cost of storing heat in a ‘pond’. The other lesson learned was that it is much easier and cheaper to conserve energy than to be a producer of energy through solar collecting.
Because the house cost exceeded what I thought, my limited income working as a carpenter, and time availabilities, it took me eight years to finish and sell the house. After several years I decided that most of my social and art life was in the city and that country living wasn’t all that I thought it would be. So I spent the next few years trying to finish and sell the house. Several realtors later (I have nothing good to say about realtors) I sold it myself and although the price covered the costs of land and materials, I made nothing on my labor but for the experience and the learning.
I have lived in Buffalo most of my life and spent most of that time being an artist and wood worker. I didn't have a great education, but managed to get through college with some help from friends and some luck. I never made a lot of money but used some skills to make enough to enjoy life and appreciate it. I was born at a time in history where I didn’t live in a cave or fight the Huns. I live in a great country in spite of it not being perfect and consider myself very lucky.
I never married or had children but I did manage to pay my taxes every year. Now I know that some of that tax money was wasted in a large government. It's kind of like having a car, or washing machine. You don't get to run them with a hundred percent efficiency. That's life. Deal with it. I do know that some of the money went in to the educational system to educate other people’s children. I'm good with that, happy to have more educated people around to improve the country and by so doing improve my life. Much of my tax money has also gone to government workers, paying for their salaries. Some of those workers actually work for us, from auditing our taxes to fighting fires, you name it, it's a big system.
There is a lot of talk about shrinking government and concern about the recovering economy. Now if I wanted to shrink the government and put thousands of government workers out of work (and onto the unemployment lines) I could save enough on my taxes to actually buy a cappuccino. For a whole month of those wonderful drinks off my taxes I could make a real mess of the government, reducing government efficiency too. Some people might suffer in the process, (sorry if your house burnt down and the firemen were on the bread lines) but that's not me, I'm lucky. Will your kids get a lesser education because money is lacking? Too bad, the rich will still have a few great schools that will take in their children. Will we have enough government workers to monitor industrial pollution or can we bring back Bethlehem Steel? (Get out your gas masks.) Can we get the government to stop the banks from bundling mortgages and mishandling investments? That may take even more government oversight.
When the President gave a speech he talked about how some weren't successful on their own, and that other factors helped with their achievements, I felt I should take a bow. It was my tax (and yours) that helped pay for the educations of some successful entrepreneurs. Our taxes went to building schools, developing the Internet, space travel, highway systems, etc., things we all need and use on our way to success. Too bad we didn't do more.
I don’t hate the rich or even envy them. Those 'lucky dogs' that made it really big, who are now paying the lowest tax rate in seventy years, who have enough money to collect dividends without getting their hands dirty, who have benefited from tax loopholes, had great connections, avoided going to wars, inherited money and property, I ask, where is your patriotism? Why don’t you want to pay more tax at a time when more is needed to improve the health of the nation. Why do you bank money overseas? How much money does it take to make you feel good? How many rooms in all your houses do you need? Just how do you spell greed?
TEA OR TEQUILA
Many conservatives, especially Tea Party conservatives believe that the way to better government is to shrink government. Grover Norquist invented the phrase “Shrink it small enough to drown in a bath tub”. We know that the result of a smaller government is a less active government, one that provides fewer and reduced services and has less ability to help when needed. For instance it wouldn’t be able to help with disaster relief and services to the elderly, the poor and veterans. This movement comes at a time when we are going to surely need to treat veterans for PTSD, help the baby boomers as they advance to the ranks of the elderly, come to the aid of disaster victims as global warming disasters increase, and of course address the problem of the poor, who the bible says will always be with us.
If the Tea Party wants to turn the United States into that kind of country there is a much easier way to get what they want. They should just pack up their bags and come down to Mexico. Mexico is just that kind of country they want, although it didn’t get that way with a Tea Party.
In Mexico several rich families and corporations control industries and utilities. No one trusts the government or the law. People traditionally build their houses with high walls to protect themselves from crime and the police. The family protects itself from outside influences, good or bad. They resist paying taxes because they don’t trust government to do what it should. The result is a smaller government, that can’t pay decent wages to teachers, police and public workers. That results in a poor educational system, extortion and crime, in and out of the police force, and a bureaucracy with its hand out. Did I mention the poor? The elderly are taken care of by the family, but those that fall through the cracks are on there own on the streets begging for pesos. Young mothers with children are also there. They didn’t get any family planning help or protection from battering husbands. And when natural disasters strike there is no help from the government. Now is that a pretty picture? It’s actually worse than that when you factor in massive unemployment, a failing infrastructure, and an educational system in need of reform. Or am I talking about the United States?
It may sound like I don’t like Mexico but the opposite is true. I have spent winters in Mexico and while I am not an expert outside of the field of art, I have learned some things while here. The Mexican people are a beautiful and hard working people. They are opposite of the typical stereotype. The country has a great variety of beauty and of natural resources. It is not a poor country, just one controlled by extremely rich families not unlike the USA. The people here have suffered through oppression by the Spanish and later the Catholic Church. That is why they only trust their families.
Yes, Mexico has a small government, one that the Tea Party would be proud of. They would feel comfortable here with enough American money to avoid responsibility, taxation and morality. Taxes really aren’t very high in Mexico. They should be higher in Mexico and in the states because as Oliver Wendell Holmes said: “Taxes are the price of civilization.” If that’s true and I think it is, shrinking taxes and therefore government would only lead to anarchy. Finally with anarchy the conservatives could surely find use for their guns.
Ben Perrone for the News