Apologies for having taken so long to send another update. Much has been happening and occupying a lot of my time.
I am editing a web log for the First Amendment Project over whose Board I preside, as well as working on a couple of projects that are not ready for human consumption just yet. We have been getting an enormous amount of media attention thanks to one of our Advisory Board members, Pulitzer Prize winning author, Michael Chabon, who orchestrated an incredible campaign that has 16 top authors auctioning off the name of a character in their upcoming books to raise funds for First Amendment Project. Visit the auction and possibly immortalize yourself in a fabulous novel. The poster I designed for the event will be auctioned too.
My editorial, Reality Blows, looks at why Tom Cruise is becoming about as popular as Donald Rumsfeld, and my most recent, It Takes a Prick, explores how America finally seems to be second guessing the spin that's being fed to them by an Administration that seems to be losing control by the hour.
And then there are women's rights in Iraq, which inspires my most recent Annoy.com cover. Iraqi women must be delighted that liberation of Iraq meant the subjugation of women, where the only common thread uniting Iraq's armed Islamists, be they Sunni or Shia, is an intense hatred of women that rivals their hatred for the United States, Britain and their "allies."
If this is how America spreads democracy, the clap would have been more appreciated. Till next time.
News and Stuff...
First Amendment Project Auction
Your Name in an Upcoming Book
First, the First Amendment Project. We have been getting an enormous amount of attention thanks to one of our Advisory Board members, Pulitzer Prize winning author, Michael Chabon, who orchestrated an incredible campaign that has 16 top authors auctioning off the name of a character in their upcoming books to raise funds for First Amendment Project. This will take place from September 1 -25, in conjunction with eBay Giving Works, the dedicated program for charity listings, and Auction Cause. Prominent writers include Dorothy Allison, Dave Eggers, Karen Joy Fowler, Neil Gaiman, Andrew Sean Greer, John Grisham, Stephen King, Jonathan Lethem, Rick Moody, ZZ Packer, Chuck Palahniuk, Nora Roberts, Lemony Snicket, Peter Straub, Amy Tan, and Ayelet Waldman.
Writers of the Storm: Fake News and Public Decency in the Age of Terror
My friend, poet Jayne Lyn Stahl, founded and heads Writers-at-Large, and yours truly will be moderating this panel on September 28, 2005.
Writers-at-Large, a California-based writers' advocacy group, is delighted to bring you Writers of the Storm: Fake News and Public Decency in the Age of Terror. The panel will deal with our role, as writers, in speaking to the neutering of the news, as well as what the concept of decency means, who gets to decide that, and why, as well as whether that decision diminishes the importance of diversity of opinion.
The forum will feature Bay Area artist, and president of The First Amendment Project, moderator, Clinton Fein, and panelists Floyd Salas, author, and president of PEN Oakland; author, journalist, and former speechwriter for New York Governor Mario Cuomo, Jeff Gillenkirk; poet, playwright, novelist, co-editor of Cocaine Chronicles, Jervey Tervalon; playwright Scott McMorrow; journalist and author, David Ewing Duncan; novelist, and social commentator, Stephen Elliott; KPQQ news broadcaster, director of Walter Benjamin Research Institute, Scott J. Thompson; and radio journalist, Noelle Hanrahan. Co-sponsored by: Berkeley Richmond JCC, City Lights Books, Dutton's Books of Brentwood and Beverly Hills, PEN Center USA, The American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression, and The Peninsula Beverly Hills. Special thanks to Ed Asner, and other friends of Writers-at-Large for their help with this event.
Wednesday, September 28 from 7:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.
Berkeley Richmond Jewish Community Center
1414 Walnut Street
Admission: $15, $10 for students with valid ID
Freedom of Expression in Times of War
Along with my friend Hanna Regev who, among other things, co-ordinated the program for my Numb & Number exhibition, I will be presenting this one-day seminar through University of California: Berkeley Extension.
Why is political art expressing so little dissent under the current Bush Administration? How does implementation of the Patriot Act impact the arts and artists? When does one's right to remain silent become an order from the government? And what is the cost of free speech?
This all-day symposium explores how creativity, media and the arts are attacked during times of war -- attacks that are frequently hidden under the guise of "national security." A diverse interdisciplinary panel of artists, museum curators and free-speech organizers discuss the limits of freedom of expression in an electronic age and the inevitable erosion of civil liberties in wartime.
Nov. 19: Sat., 10 am - 4 pm
San Francisco: Room 204, South of Market Center, 95 Third St.
>>University of California Berkeley
Displaying and Containing Controversy: Practical Strategies
I will be serving as a panelist on the following panel for the Western Museums Association at their annual meeting in Pasadena.
This session explores three cases of successful media campaigns that transformed controversial exhibitions into productive opportunities for education and dialogue: "Numb and Number," "What's Going On? California and the Vietnam Era," and "Body Worlds: The Anatomical Exhibition of Real Human Bodies." Panelists provide insight and information used to minimize future debacles when developing difficult exhibitions, by anticipating conflicts and devising appropriate strategies to diffuse them.
Moderator: Hanna Regev, Museum and Gallery Consultant, Toomey Tourell; Presenters: Clinton Fein, Artist; Barbara Henry, Chief Curator of Education, Oakland Museum of California; Shell Amega, Vice President, Communications, California Science Center.
>>Western Museums Association
It Takes a Prick
Although it's difficult to determine which of the mixed messages the accurate one is, it looks as though America's pulling out of Iraq and it isn't. John Kerry couldn't have come up with a more classic flip-flop.
With an increasingly powerful insurgency and an upward spiraling death count of troops and civilians, calling the situation in Iraq precarious is about as euphemistic as it gets.
What no politician or partisan talking head on the cable TV circuit seems to be getting, is that in order to hand over control, one has to have control to hand over. If the current situation is this chaotic, with 138 000 American troops, it's impossible to imagine how untrained Iraqis will not only learn from them, but avoid their mistakes and become actually effective. Sovereign control is neither a campaign slogan nor a sound byte.
>>It Takes a Prick: Full Editorial.
Reinforcing that no amount of money can buy breeding or taste. America is looking more and more like a gaudy, Liberace-inspired, palatial trailer where plush and lush and cash and trash are one and the same and where a culture war seems to be tirelessly waged in a cultureless society.
When will we stop confusing roles? Why do we care what Mel Gibson thinks about euthanasia or what Jessica Simpson thinks of the presidency, if capable of thinking at all?What horrible abuse have our kids suffered that would result in them giving a shit about Britney Spears' pregnancy or the Gastineau Girls -- a cheap, tacky show on E! about a shallow mother teaching her daughter how to dangle her vagina like a carrot to secure diamonds from men (as opposed to Kathy Hilton who taught her daughter the same thing even though they already had the diamonds)? Why do we insist on seeking clarity from the worn, scorned, pawned and uninformed?
>>Reality Blows: Full Editorial.
Maybe take another look
That's not just terror in my eyes
The cloth that's stretched across my face
The stifled silence of my cries
For granted for too long we took
The freedom just to feel the breeze
The warmth of sun on shoulder blades
The gentle shade of cooling trees
My body now is forced to hide
No longer free to move with grace
To simply get from A to B
I cloak my soul and hide my face
>>Neo Constitution: Expanded
If only your commitment to fighting terrorism was as strong as your desire to withhold information. And if only your commitment to protecting intelligence-gathering operations and routing out the sources of leaks applied equally to those in your Administration who see fit to endanger national security and people's lives by revealing the identities of CIA operatives.
It's not only your Department of Defense firing competent linguists who might help thwart terrorists attacks, but someone who serves you in the White House dangerously outed CIA operative, Valerie Plame, to journalists, the slimiest of whom, Robert Novack, took the bait. For nothing more than having the indecency to marry someone critical of your administration's lies. The lies you used in a State of the Union speech to justify a preemptive war against a country that had nothing to do with September 11th. Have you ever mentioned the name Valerie Plame, Sir?
>>Clinton Fein, Tell Us When, Tell Us How: A Letter to President Bush
Annoy.com, April 20, 2004
The Gay Agenda
If gay bashing, teen suicide and genuine attempts by politicians and Presidents to actually amend America's constitution to explicitly deny rights to homosexuals weren't clear and present dangers, the notion of a "gay agenda" would be laughable.
Gays are constantly defending themselves against accusations by pseudo-religious bigots claiming they have an insidious agenda aimed at destroying family values. Let's put the matter to rest, once and for all, by providing the MOAA -- the Mother of All Agendas.
Although many claim there isn't one, here it is, the new, improved radical, homosexual agenda for 2005. A roadmap, if you will, towards destroying nuclear families, and reshaping society to the point that if your son isn't blowing his professor, don't expect any graduation ceremonies.
>>Worriers...come out to play..ay
In God We Lust
Newsweek's little faux pas -- failing to authenticate a story about interrogators at Guantanamo Bay flushing a Q'uran down the toilet -- provided fodder for the White House to deflect criticism of its own policies by blaming Newsweek for America's lack of global popularity. My image of the Q'uran in the toilet on the cover of Newsweek prompted much criticism, but quite honestly, I would have done the same had the story been about the Bible or Torah.
The Ann Coulter cover of Time, inspired by Time's decision to put this moron on their cover received much attention too, although very graphic and not recommended for opening at work!
The John Bolton cover received scant attention, perhaps reflective of the fact that no one really cares about him one way or the other. (Until he's representing America at the United Nations!) And , of course, I've yet to hear from Hummer!
Other than that, nothing is more important in America than Michael Jackson and Jesus, in that order.