Any of you who follow what I post on this blog should know by now of my deep and abiding love for rants. Let’s capitalize that term, because it deserves it: Rants. In my book, Rants comprise a sorely neglected literary genre in and of themselves. I like to collect them, and when I find a Rant (almost always via the Internet) that is intelligently argued and extremely well-written, I literally bounce up and down on my chair with glee.
I wish my “Rant of the Week” column truly could be a weekly thing, but alas, I rarely find Rants that are good enough to link to. My #1 requirement? That the Rant be skillfully executed and generally well-written. It should feel like a real essay, not like a nasty blog comment dashed off in the heat of the moment. #2 requirement? Laugh-out-loud funny. #3? That it powerfully express the writer’s righteous anger, even if I don’t fully agree with the writer’s take on that particular subject.
In my view, Tony Fitzpatrick’s latest column on Artnet meets all three of my “Good Rant” requirements. Mind you, there’s a fair amount in there that I don’t personally agree with — but that’s not the point here. This is a Rant — it’s supposed to be extreme, rhetorically-speaking, and in this case it’s written in response to a vicious, violent attack that was more extreme in its effects than words could ever be. There are certain aspects of Mr. Fitzpatrick’s prose that make me shudder and shake my head, but there are other parts that are undeniably rousing. It’s like, Yeah baby!! Someone actually said the things that everyone else is afraid to say, and they said it loud and proud! It’s that aspect of the Rant, that break-the beer-bottle-against-the-table-and-go-for-broke-type of rhetoric, that draws me to them again and again.
The irony is not lost on me that the Right has its infamous Ranters too, and that it is their brand of heated rhetoric that some claim is at the root of the Arizona shooter’s attack. But I am still unwilling to forgo the Rant altogether in favor of more even-handed, muted, controlled and “correct” types of argument. I think Rants have a place in political discourse, hell–in any form of discourse. And I don’t want to give up on them.
Obviously, not every political statement should take the form of a Rant. But Tony Fitzpatrick is an artist who is well-known for speaking his mind, and he is in classic form here. Take a look at the brief excerpt below, then click on over to Artnet, read Fitzpatrick’s piece in full, and decide for yourself. Or just enjoy it for the great example of good old-fashioned Rant literature that it is.
“There was a time when I regarded the Tea Party as noisy, but mostly harmless geeks — with their Triangle Hats and Jefferson quotes, they reminded me of the same dopes who were in the Civil Defense League when I was a kid. A crowd of Dolts and Dumb-bells who were mostly in it for the hats, the walkie-talkies, and the opportunity to hold forth like the assholes they watch on TV. Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh, Bill O’Reilly and other lesser McCarthyites who’d like to tell the rest of us how to be Americans and have cast themselves as victims since Barack Obama was elected. You know the types — they forswear big Gub’mint, until their particular industry goes tits-up and they need a bail-out — they hold the Constitution sacrosanct, but gave not a fuck when the Bush administration shreds Habeas Corpus and the Bill of Rights in the name of Homeland Security. Where were all the Triangular Hats back then?
When John McCain picked Sarah Palin for his running mate, a little over two years ago, I thought it was his way of giving up. If you look at the tape of the end sputter of the McCain campaign — one could tell this was a guy who really didn’t want the job — He was always a temperamental fuck — a guy who honestly resented being asked questions — any question — he was clearly a man far more used to giving orders than having to explain himself or his position. You see, John McCain, for all of his years as a political animal, thought he was running for CEO of the United States. He cultivated the skills of an executive and not those of a President. You can’t fire Congress. At the end of his campaign, one could tell he was relieved to have lost.
Palin, if you believe all of the subsequent reportage, was a disastrous candidate, unable to stay on message, full of platitudes and an appalling lack of depth when it came to issues of a global nature. Her home-spun, golly-gee, small-town Dip-Shit act played with the Republican base — the culturally conservative South loved Caribou Barbie. Never mind the howls of protest from her own state colleagues, claiming she wanted to remove books from public libraries she found objectionable. Sarah Palin was able to take a threadbare ideology and stretch out its shelf-life. She parlayed her Gidget goes to Alaska shtick into a now-canceled TV show, in which she takes almost surreal delight in blowing the brains out of Alaska’s native wildlife. It is odd to see a public official that turned-on by firearms.” Read more.
Inaugural exhibition at FireCat Projects (formerly Fitzpatrick’s working studio), featuring new works by Tony Fitzpatrick.
FireCat Projects is located at 2124 N. Damen Ave. Reception is Friday from 7-10pm.
Photographs by David A. Parker.
Kasia Kay Gallery is located at 215 N. Aberdeen St. Reception is Friday from 6-8pm
A solo exhibition of new works by the artist.
Western Exhibitions is located at 119 N. Peoria St. Reception is Friday from 5-8pm.
Work by Hiba Ali, Natalie Brilmeyer, Woori Cho, Meg Dancy, Justus Harris, Walter Latimer, Kira Mardikes, Tilly Pelczar, Marie Socha and Vincent Uribe.
Note the new location: Pentagon is now located at 2655 W Homer St. Reception is Friday from 7-11pm.
Work by Samantha Bittman, James Cooper, Racer Levan, Montgomery Perry Smith and Leslie Supnet.
LVL3 is located at 1452 N Milwaukee Ave, 3. Reception is Saturday from 6-10pm.
Artist Tony Fitzpatrick Runs for Mayor of Chicago
Read his facebook postings to follow the story but with Daley stepping down after 21 years the race begins and Tony Fitzpatrick has some fun points to be made. read more when someone makes a website for him?
British Artists Protest 25% Cut in Arts Spending
In hopes of bridging the substantial budget deficit Brittan faces the coalition government is proposing a max 25% cut in Arts spending. Damien Hirst, Anish Kapoor and David Hockney, counter that “radical cuts to current levels of arts funding will decimate what has been one of the U.K.’s chief success stories over the past 20 years, and will bring an end to the U.K.’s reign as a global capital for culture.” read more here
Ansel Adams Story Continues, With a Showdown
A new gallery showing is opening now with 20 prints — hand-developed and signed by Adams himself and guaranteed to be authentic by the Duncan Miller Gallery in West Los Angeles, which is putting on the show, shown side by side with prints from the embattled garage-sale find of Rick Norsigian, the Fresno resident who believes he has find of 65 negatives shot by Adams next to the more famous “Uncle Earl” Brooks, the previously unknown photographer they contend is the man who actually shot the pictures in the Norsigian find. If your a fan of Adams this would be a one day chance to make the decision for yourself. read more here
Interesting Tale of Dan Colen’s Career From Gagosian Gallery Bathroom to Solo Show
Read more here
Ireland Sparks Controversy Over Venice Biennale Choices
Emily-Jane Kirwan, a director at the Pace Gallery in New York, has been chosen as a commissioner for the Irish Pavilion in 2011, while Corban Walker, who belongs to the same Manhattan gallery, is Ireland’s official artist in Italy next year. The fight begins in 3….2…..1….. Read more here
Charles Saatchi’s Gift of His Gallery & Many of His Works to British Government an Offer too Good to Refuse or Trouble in the Making?
Charles Saatchi announced in July that he was in talks with the government to create a Museum of Contemporary Art (MoCA) for London. Turning over his Saatchi Gallery and 200 works of art worth a reported £25m to the British public. The offer which has been reported as a suprise to the goverment is now raising concerns about financial stability. Read more here
Danish art pranksters mock Spain’s royal family
The provocative Danish artist group Surrend have placed posters around Barcelona that mock Spain’s censorship laws as applied to the Spanish royal family. The posters depict several drawings that have been made unrecognisable by being painted over. A slogan at the top of each poster says: “Things we are not allowed to draw”. Next to each obliterated image is a sentence such as “The Royal Family having a lunch nap” and “The Royal Family having sex”. Read more here
Chicago Typefaces, Unlike Anywhere Else
The NPR picture show name dropped a blog that showcases the comercial typefaces that pepper Chicago, both new and old, and give the city some of it’s unique character. I am a bit biased but having visited/worked/lived many other places I can agree that when it comes to Architecture & public graphics Chicago is on a level of it’s own especially in the States. read more here
I wrote an article a few days ago on my sit down talk with Tony Fitzpatrick about his new series of work and the new show “This Train” that is appearing at The Steppenwolf theater. At the time I really wanted to have some video to go along with the post and now we do. Below is an exert from the performance which shows July 15 – August 1, 2010, enjoy.
There are bums. There are tramps. There are hobos. And then there’s Tony. That’s how the description of Tony Fitzpatrick’s new show “This Train” goes, and after talking to him at length about it, I would agree when at first it didn’t seem fitting.
Tony Fitzpatrick loves America, and not in that “I love the coast vs. the plains, the hills vs. the valley or certain cities over others” kind of way. No, Tony is of that rare type that from the surfers on the west coast to the bar patrons in the northeast and from the shrimp boats in the south to the factories in the north, he identifies with what makes America whole and loves it equally.
That’s what the “This Train” performance is seemingly for him; a 100 minute mix of art, music and spoken word that looks back on the working class, post civil war/early industrial influences in America (the music, the hobo alphabet, the melting pot) and how many became one without being the exact same.
With the support of the vocal skills of Kat Eggleston and his long time friend Stan Klein, “This Train” looks to give its audience a sample of the music, visuals and soapbox plain direct speak that Tony loves and has sewn into his work for a long time.
The idea for the show grew in the death of Studs Terkel in 2008. Studs, a man who greatly influenced Tony, was an American author, historian, actor, and broadcaster who received the Pulitzer Prize for General Non-Fiction in 1985 for “The Good War.” A man who made his home in Chicago after being born in New York City and is best remembered for his oral histories of common Americans.
To hear Tony talk about “This Train” feels more like a tribute to Studs and his ideals of enjoying the differences in people, finding that common humanity be they unionists, capitalists, Klansmen or even misguided members of the Tea Party movement. It reminds people not to over glorify the origins of American thought, politics or art; that we are all just immigrants; and that the Bughouse Square/Washington Park soapbox speeches in Chicago are as noble and important as the ones in the Capital building. That High Jazz music was born in the bosom of the whorehouses of New Orleans and that Art is at its best when it speaks to everyone with the purpose of sharing a story.
“This Train” runs in Chicago, July 15 – August 1 at Steppenwolf’s Merle Reskin Garage Theatre, 1624 N. Halsted St.
More can be heard from Tony in an audio interview here