Culture vulture

Friends of graffiti unite
There’s a late-night TV ad campaign going on in which local officials and police personnel exhort the public to help put an end to graffiti. Graffiti is public art practiced for the most part by kids who enjoy leaving traces of their personalities on the encompassing artificial environment. Giving a kid a criminal record for marking his territory is about as effective as kicking a dog for marking his. Criminalizing a behavior does not treat the impulse that leads to the behavior and therefore will do little to curtail it. Maybe we should try to devise ways of allowing business owners to designate for themselves if they object to being decorated by these young artists. Have a contest to design a “graffiti friendly” logo that owners of publicly viewable walls could put up on designated areas. Maybe installing a graffiti wall at the skate park would encourage young public artists and give them a non-threatening place to work.

TV Eye-yi-yi
I am fascinated and appalled by television. And sometimes I’m appalled by my fascination. More often than not I will bypass the documentary about the endangered eco-system of the Great Barrier Reef to watch what happens when a bunch of spoiled American adolescents get set up in a plush Parisian villa and encouraged to engage in every form of self-indulgent behavior. The fact that the show they’re on is called The Real World just adds insult to injury.

I wish Carl Jung was here to comment on the power of commercial broadcasting to enrapture normally intelligent people. What impulse compels us to saturate the collective unconscious with electro-magnetic banality, I’d ask him.

Oh, the humanity
Some years back, when I could be seen schlepping my drum kit in and out of various night spots around town on a regular basis, I was loading my band’s gear into the Blue Max when I looked up and saw the bluesman Sonny Rhodes coming down the sidewalk. Rhodes was a fixture on the local blues scene at the time, a gracious, middle-aged black man with a classic blues voice and penchant for wearing turbans and playing great lap steel guitar. We’d jammed a few times at late sessions, but never really socialized beyond the stage. I waved a greeting and was surprised when Sonny stopped and said, “Hey, man, let me help you get that stuff inside.” And he didn’t go on about his business until we finished moving the whole carload of equipment into the stage area. “Have a good show tonight,” he said as he headed back onto the sidewalk followed by my eternal gratitude.

Highlights of the week

1. The York Publications/ Videomaker Magazine bowling party

2. Preview copy of Al Green box set—out Sept. 16

3. The continuing meltdown at Paradise Hotel

4. First homegrown butternut squash of the season … mmmmmm