Friday, November 10

Dear Jim,

It´s been an incredibly beautiful day. More like March than November.

I walked over to my barber. I was there for an hour and a half. When I walked in he laughed. He often says my wild look reminds him of Paul Newman in his first movie. Newman played a professional artist. Since he mentions it so often, I´m going to have to watch it.

I love going to him. He´s one of the few people I can express my political opinions to. We feel free to cut loose to each other. At work I would get fired if I said a lot of the things I say to him. He and I are not politically correct.

Today I went to Midtown, the politically correct haven, to look at apartment buildings. An acquaintance of mine lives in one building. Another acquaintance owns the other. I might have to move so I want to have some leads.

In each building you have to enter through a main entrance, then close the door and walk to your apartment. I don´t like that. I like coming through a gate and feeling the air in the courtyard as I walk to my unit.

It´s boring in Midtown – so lifeless. There´s a contradiction between Midtown trying to be a neighborhood where artists live and promote politically correct ideas, and the banners on J Street light poles promoting the Kings, who stayed in town because of a $360,000,000 bond issued by the City. That $360,000,000 could have funded a lot of affordable housing and a lot of $5,000 loans to college students or artists. The new downtown arena that was funded through the bonds has increased property values Downtown and in Midtown and ran a lot of people and artists out.

Why subsidize a team whose owner is a billionaire? It doesn´t make sense. The City Council members are eager to favor these bastards.

I think $360,000,000 in bonds would be great for housing and job training. But all these artists who want to rock the boat, who think they are shit disturbers, who hate Big Business and Capitalism, grovel to get a grant from the City. They should be ashamed of themselves.

What was great about graffiti artists in the 80´s and first half of the 90´s was that they were shit disturbers. They did not want a grant. They risked getting arrested, getting shot by a property owner, getting shot by a rival tagger, getting run over by a train, or falling off of a roof or a ladder. And their work was far more creative and skilled than what most artists do.

Midtown doesn´t have that daring do anymore. There are a lot of murals – some are really good, but most of them are fashion statements – a phony blend of sci-fi, comic books and Aztec art. Graffiti, whether you liked it or not, and whether it scared you or inspired you, was not contrived. It was art. It had conviction and meaning.

Artists always complain that the City should fund programs for the arts and give grants to artists, but they are not talking about introducing teenagers to Gregorian Chant, or teaching kids ancient Greek so kids can read The Iliad, The Bible, and Plato in that language when they are older. Artists want Native American programs and rectal intercourse programs and voices of jailbirds programs, anything that isn´t Western and anything that will make them look open-minded.

What they never talk about is funding to study the role of beauty in art or funding for a class on how to create beautiful art for our ugly times. Our times are incredibly ugly. I think artists have done a lot to make our world ugly.

I don´t mean graffiti. It´s scary. Graffiti was America´s chance to look our ugly cities in the eye, but we pussed out. We got rid of graffiti, but continued to build ugly buildings. The buildings are even uglier with cameras.

Maybe one of the reasons so many artists hate sports is because sports are filled with beauty. The beauty and violence, the tension between them, is something artists should be attracted to – ¨What a beautiful catch!¨ Crunch!

Sports are inspiring and scary. Wouldn´t I love to be able to be a pro athlete, but the career can end at any time.

That´s what I liked about graffiti. Though it was not beautiful, it was inspiring. It was also scary. Why are these kids so pissed off? But also, how come I am not on fire like they are? How come I do not take risks like they do? How come I am so afraid of these smooth-flowing bright letters?

Graffiti was a step away from beauty. Artists respected graffiti, but they would probably be afraid to say it now. They might lose their grant.

If an artist applied for a grant to paint pictures of heaven, he would be laughed out of town or hounded out of town.

But I want to keep going with beauty. Even though most people follow sports for excitement and for something to motivate them, artists should follow sports for the beautiful things the players do with their magnificent bodies. A light should be going off in an artist´s head when he sees sports – ¨Even the worst professional athlete is far more talented at what he does than we are at what we do. We should practice more. We should try to inspire people with our skill, our courage, and how much we practice.¨

Artists just don´t get it. Even though sports tickets are too expensive and pro players make too much money, the public doesn´t want to pay for a book of poems almost anybody can write. Going to a game is a better buy.

I lose either way in Midtown. I don´t care about the Kings. I would if the owner built his own arena. I would love to love the Kings, to watch them do godlike things.

I love to hate artists. They are full of bullshit. I know you hated graffiti, but I grew to love it in the middle nineties, just before the City cracked down on it.

One of my biggest heartbreaks was the murder of graffiti.



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