February 8, 2007

Either I'm too sensitive or else I'm gettin' soft

Ryan McGinley, Untitled (Morrissey 3), 2006

Ryan McGinley has been following Morrissey's tours for the past two years capturing the reclusive singer and his committed fans all over the US, the UK, and in Mexico. Although he has been an intensely devoted fan of the musician for most of his young life, McGinley has gained a distance on his subject through a total immersion. Having photographed quite literally hundreds of shows, McGinley becomes, in a sense, accustomed to the patterns of Morrissey's performances and can ''predict'' the response of fans for whom the singer's appearances form a major life anchor. McGinley is both immersed in the event (physically and psychologically) and, at the same time, so ''experienced'' a viewer that he can comment from outside.

In McGinley's Morrissey photographs, the lighting and coloration is, in large part, the result of the lighting palette chosen by the singer. Pinks, oranges, lurid blues and bright yellows all bathe the audience members during particular tunes and these colors in turn inspire McGinley to look for specific types of audience members. Not surprisingly, most of subjects who end up in his pictures are both completely enraptured by Morrissey's antics while possessing an intrinsic beauty that viewers of McGinley's works will find spellbinding. It is hard to take your eyes off these gorgeous kids who, in turn, are so completely awestruck by their idol.

* David Byrne on the responsibility of the soldier. excerpt:

"Are individual soldiers responsible for their actions? Or are they merely machine parts? 'I was only following orders' is the often heard claim when a soldier who committed a human rights abuse or worse is challenged. It is a way of absolving themselves from responsibility. 'I just drove the train, pushed the button, flew the plane because my commanding officer told me to.' If we follow this argument, it would be the higher-ups who are then always responsible, yes? But the higher-ups will always absolve themselves of responsibility for My Lai, Chechnya and Abu Graib. They’ll always say that those incidents were the work of 'rogue' soldiers, bad apples — or that there were higher-ups yet higher above them who made the order. Or, in the case of Rumsfeld, restructured things to make abuses easier and more likely to happen — and the attendant destruction of civilians and a country. Ultimately, following that logic that makes about 3 or 4 people ultimately responsible, if the buck continues to get passed on up the chain of command. Of course, those 3 or 4 will blame 'faulty intelligence' or try to absolve themselves one way or another, and they usually succeed.

"But what about the hundreds of thousands who simply do as they are ordered and whose actions in some cases destroy a nation, a population, and hundreds of thousands or millions of lives as a result? People whose actions have devastating and long-lasting repercussions? Sometimes they do these things unwittingly, but what I am dealing with here is the question of what happens when they do realize what is happening. Have participants no will of their own? Do they deny that they have free will in this case? Those who make sure the bombers are running smoothly but didn’t actually shoot anyone — are they not as guilty as those who pull the triggers? (Anyone see the footage of U.S. soldiers zapping Iraqis for a lark? It’s typical war stuff, it always happens. They act like they’re playing a video game, vaporizing civilians.)

"Are the guys in the green zone in their air conditioned offices and boozy evenings not as guilty as the grunts who massacre civilians? Don’t they, the officers and bureaucrats, facilitate the dehumanization of the locals, and as a result, the rapid dehumanization of their own soldiers? Those who do as they have been commanded, but abandoned all reason, free will, responsibility and common sense? Do soldiers have no apparent impulse or incentive to think about or question a policy or their own actions? Do none of these folks bear any responsibility for their actions? Will Paul Brenner eventually step forward and say, 'Oh, sorry, it was my fault, hang me too — I caused as many deaths as Sadam' —? Would Rummy take the heat? Will the gang who beat the war drums armed with lies and deception — Wolfowitz, Perle, Armstrong, Rice, Powell etc. — admit they hold responsibility for hundreds of thousands of deaths? Would Jeff Sacks admit he helped deliver the Russian people to the gangsters, KGB and oligarchs? Not likely."

* Keep up with the Food Stuff Consumption And Miscellany
of Automotive Acne.

* For those of you who will be at SXSW. Check out the world premiere of Silver Jew, directed by Michael Tully.

An intimate portrait of reclusive poet/musician David Berman and his band the Silver Jews, in the midst of their first-ever world tour. Berman, his wife Cassie, and the rest of the group traveled to Israel to play two shows and visit Jerusalem.

* "In my many years I have come to a conclusion that one useless man is a shame, two is a law firm, and three or more is a congress." -- John Adams


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