Sunday, September 28, 2008

Day 2

I'm still not sure what this blog is supposed to be. So far, I've made a self-centered introduction, a cryptically pro-life post, and a rambling analysis of the debate. As the week goes, hopefully I'll be able to find some better idea of what I'm doing here.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

The debate

I don't know how much needs to be said about the debate last night. There's certainly not much left to add to the endless chattering it's already caused online and in the media. My initial take was that neither candidate performed especially poorly. I thought supporters on either side would be able to successfully spin a victory out of the night.

I thought McCain came off as unnecessarily condescending and overtly contemptuous (as evidenced by his unwillingness or inability to ever look Obama in the eye or conform to a basic format of the debate and address him directly). I understand that part of the strategy is to paint Obama as both naive and unready, but the tactic of repeatedly suggesting Obama doesn't understand basic concepts (e.g. the difference between 'tactic' and 'strategy') made McCain seem sort of petty. The fact that Obama more than stood his ground when discussing foreign policy issues made McCain's condescending tone seem not only inappropriate, but detached from reality. As for McCain's body language, it was what kept me interested through what was something of a unexciting debate. From the first handshake (pictured above) to the initial proddings by Jim Lehrer to the closing handshake, John McCain didn't look at Barack Obama a single time. This was odd, because the format of the debate was supposed to be divided so that each candidate would have two minutes to respond to a topic and then five minutes for a direct back and forth. Initially, Obama didn't address McCain either, but after prompting from the moderator, during the five minute sections Obama repeatedly spoke directly to McCain, calling him John. But McCain didn't only refuse to speak to Obama, he refused to look at him. Obviously nobody knows why for sure. I assign contempt. Some people say John McCain, a former fighter pilot and POW, was literally afraid to look a junior senator in the eye. I guess that's not implausible. Still, I think contempt is a far more likely explanation. After all, John McCain didn't even want to be there last night. He wanted to postpone the whole thing. His campaign has had a terrible last couple of weeks culminating in a catastrophic Sarah Palin interview and a trip to Washington that few now see as anything other than a failed political stunt. Victory seems like a distant hope. These days, John McCain is simply trying to avoid public humiliation. He's anxious. He's pissed. And he blames Barack Obama for every self-inflicted wound that's befallen his campaign. In short, it's like the primary all over again. Whatever prevented him from looking his opponent in the eye, it clearly wasn't part of the plan, and will likely be something the campaign has him work on for the remaining debates.

At any rate, Obama was what he always is: cool headed, smart, deferential, mature, strong, and polite. He was also in greater command of his cadence than in some of his weaker debate performances. He received a lot of initial criticism for being too agreeable. Too willing to grant points to his opponent. This is, of course, utter horse shit. It's like these em effers haven't learned a thing from the last 22 months. Who put together the team and strategy that badly embarrassed the Clintons? I know it wasn't Chris Matthews.

Anyway, a day later, my unbiased perspective is that Obama pretty clearly showed himself to be the more presidential of the two and, that being the case, I'd say it's fairly difficult to consider him anything other than the winner. Apparently, initial polling and focus groups of undecideds seem to support that. I'm not sure if anybody's going to remember this debate next month, though. Sadly, it may depend on the SNL cold opening.

The fourth dimension

Last week was Sarah's birthday. We went to a '4-d' ultrasound center. Basic ultrasound technology is pretty incredible. If you've never had children, or if you're children were born in the 1980s or before, then you probably don't have an appreciation for how incredible it is. Most people come out of the ultrasound session with a handful of sonograms which, while wonderful, pale in comparison to the full motion images they saw during the session itself, so if you've never been in the room during the procedure, then all you've seen are filtered fragments of the experience itself.

As somebody who believes there are a number of sad realities in our civilization that make abortion rights a terrible necessity, I also believe that ultrasound technology has in many ways revealed many of the traditional arguments in favor of 'choice' to be petty, amoral, and wrongheaded. There are a number of rational arguments in favor of the necessity of abortion rights; respectfully, 'choice' is not one of them.

My belly button.

A new blog. The world has been waiting, and here I am bringing it. I've recently moved in with my parents after all, so it seemed only right to turn to the Internet. When I was in New York and unable to make art for lack of motivation and time (split between work and family) I thought I might begin an art blog. It never materialized because, as it turns out, I don't really like art all that much, and the only reason to write about art is to promote what you like.

At any rate, I am not in New York anymore. I am in Georgia. I hear rumors about the Atlanta art scene, but I don't live in Atlanta. I live in Woodstock, a hilly suburb about a half an hour to the northwest of the city. Plus, I'm more than a little dubious about any art scene, let alone a tiny one I would have to waste so much gas to find. I don't even know why I'd consider going anymore. For me, art galleries were more about motivation; about showing me how far off everybody else was from getting it right; about all of the stupid misconceptions artists have about what art is supposed to be about; and, fundamentally, about reminding me that I needed to be in the studio. Today, though, it seems fairly clear that I'm not going to be much of an artist.

It may or may not be for a lack of trying. I'm easily distracted. I haven't always tried my best. In fact, it's been a pretty long time since I tried at all. At some point, you have to reassess, and if it's over it's over. That's what I've spent the last couple of months doing. Here's what I've come up with:

A husband. A father of a two year old (with another on the way). I'm unemployed during what could very well be one of the bleakest moments in the history of the American economy. I'm living with my parents in a state where I have virtually no connections beyond family. I haven't worked in a studio for six months (and even then it was fairly sporadic); I haven't really thought about painting for almost that long. There are things I need. I need to find a paycheck. My family needs a home of our own.

I do need an outlet, but it's not going to be painting. That ship has sailed. It may never return. If not, my only regret at the moment is in the years wasted. I'm 29 years old. I'm fairly intelligent, but my education and work experience is such that I am about as employable as the average 24 year old with a BA in philosophy. I could have been a lot smarter about how I did a lot of things. But I went to art school. It's not difficult for me to admit my failure as an artist. That being said, it's hard to come to grips with how my decision to commit to that failed path led to my abject failure as a provider for my family.

At any rate, a period of my life is over. A new period begins. I've begun this blog as part of that. I don't know what shape it will take. Or if I will have the diligence to keep it going. But like I've said, I need an outlet. Something to act as a catalyst that will keep my mind focused while I get my life moving again. That's the idea anyway.

Forgive me my naval gazing.