Monday, August 1, 2011
Saturday, June 4, 2011
Saturday, May 21, 2011
Yeah, yeah. I know it was money that could only be used for art and not for museum funds. I still think it's ironic that the amounts were precisely the same...
Here's my KMUW commentary on the Waterwalk sculpture or read it below.
Man, talk about irony… there’s been enough irony in the air lately here in Wichita that they should be running crawls across the bottom of our TV screens: “Warning! Heavy irony in Wichita area atmosphere. Please wear protective head gear especially when in the vicinity of the Wichita City Hall.”
By now, everyone knows about the Wichita City Council’s recent approval of $350,000 to have an abstract sculpture by renowned New York artist Albert Paley erected at WaterWalk. The 38-foot-tall piece is supposed to be a tribute to—among other things—Wichita’s aviation heritage. Yeah. That’s what they said. Our aviation heritage.
This comes less than a year after our Kansas Aviation Museum asked the city for financial help with their desperately needed capital improvement project. The city turned them down. The cost of the Museum’s project: $350,000. The exact amount which the city council is willing to spend on the sculpture which is a tribute to our aviation heritage. That, my friends, is what you call irony.
Why is the Council more interested in symbolism than substance? This sculpture is a symbol of our aviation heritage. The Kansas Aviation Museum is a substantial upholder and steward of that heritage. Our city’s tepid support of this important institution is, as a recent letter writer in the Wichita Eagle pointed out, embarrassing.
The Kansas Aviation Museum cannot even afford to heat and cool most of its building. And our city leaders are paying $350,000 for a sculptural tribute to our aviation heritage? Breathtakingly ironic. They should just embrace its irony and erect a giant iron butterfly. Or, better yet, a led zeppelin. Or… no! I’ve got it! How about a lead balloon?
Friday, May 13, 2011
Friend Dan Rouser forwarded this article to me and I thought it blog-worthy:
The Eleven Craziest Things Newt Gingrich Has Ever Said
By George Zornick (from The Nation)
May 11, 2011
Today, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich will announce a run for the presidency. Over his long and checkered career, Newt has said some wild and crazy things—most are deeply offensive, while some are outright bizarre. Here’s the most unhinged Newt-isms, 1989-present.
(1) “I am convinced that if we do not decisively win the struggle over the nature of America, by the time [my grandchildren are] my age they will be in a secular atheist country, potentially one dominated by radical Islamists and with no understanding of what it once meant to be an American.” [Address to Cornerstone Church in Texas, March 2011]
(2) “The idea that a congressman would be tainted by accepting money from private industry or private sources is essentially a socialist argument.” [To Mother Jones magazine, October 1989]
(3) “All I would say is, why did it take so long? The whole thing is strange.” [Speaking to TPM about the recent release of President Obama’s long-form birth certificate, April 2011]
(4) “What if [Obama] is so outside our comprehension, that only if you understand Kenyan, anti-colonial behavior, can you begin to piece together [his actions]? That is the most accurate, predictive model for his behavior.” [To the National Review, September 2010]
(5) “It doesn’t matter what I do. People need to hear what I have to say. There’s no one else who can say what I can say. It doesn’t matter what I live.” – [Newt’s explanation for why his multiple affairs won’t damage his political fortunes, as told to his jilted wife.]
(6) “The secular socialist machine represents as great a threat to America as Nazi Germany or the Soviet Union once did.” [In his book To Save America: Stopping Obama's Secular-Socialist Machine, May 2010.]
(7) “This is one of the great tragedies of the Bush administration. The more successful they’ve been at intercepting and stopping bad guys, the less proof there is that we’re in danger…. It’s almost like they should every once in a while have allowed an attack to get through just to remind us.” [At a book talk in Huntington, NY, April 2008]
(8) "A mere 40 years ago, beach volleyball was just beginning. No bureaucrat would have invented it, and that's what freedom is all about.” [At the Republican National Convention, August 1996]
(9) “I want to say to the elite of this country—the elite news media, the liberal academic elite, the liberal political elite: I accuse you in Littleton… of being afraid to talk about the mess you have made, and being afraid to take responsibility for things you have done, and instead foisting upon the rest of us pathetic banalities because you don’t have the courage to look at the world you have created.” [Speaking about the Columbine shootings, May 1999]
(10) “How can you have the mess we have in New Orleans, and not have had deep investigations of the federal government, the state government, the city government, and the failure of citizenship in the Ninth Ward, where 22,000 people were so uneducated and so unprepared, they literally couldn't get out of the way of a hurricane.” [Speaking at the Conservative Political Action Conference, March 2007]
(11) “I’m running for President.” [5/11/2011]
Wednesday, May 11, 2011
Tuesday, May 10, 2011
Tuesday, May 3, 2011
Last year I was commissioned to draw up a cartoon map of the City of Wichita which showed all of the nonprofit arts organizations in our fair city. Poster-size prints of the map are available from any of them. It's a fundraiser for Wichita's arts community. If you can get one of them and run me down, I'll happily sign it for you.
Friday, April 29, 2011
Friday, April 8, 2011
Now that our Kansas Legislature has passed a law protecting us all from the scourge of voter fraud, I believe it’s time for another law addressing another fraud issue. Seems to me that our culture has become awash with anonymous internet comments of the snarkiest sort.
Under the cloak of anonymity, people say all sorts of vile, nasty things in the comments sections after news, opinion and even sports pieces. These nameless, faceless attacks are aimed at the folks who actually had the courage to attach their names to what they wrote. But invariably in the comments they are ripped to shreds in a snarky feeding frenzy by what we who worked for newspapers used to call anonymous gutless wonders. They name-call. They accuse. They insult and they cower in anonymity.
So I got to thinking. 76% of Americans call themselves Christians. I suspect the percentage here in the Great State of Kansas is even higher. Yet the anonymous comments on our Kansas websites are full of as much vitriol as anywhere else.
With all of the good Christian folks hereabouts, I have to conclude that most of those who are posting anonymous hate-filled comments must surely be doing so fraudulently. They can’t be real Kansans. They must be guilty of commenter fraud. So get on it, legislators. Force commenters to show IDs before they post those nasty anonymous, almost certainly illegitimate, internet rants. The scanned images of every spittle-slinging, hate-spewing commenter, taken from their photo IDs, must be visible with each posting they contribute on the internet.
Or else look for the glow of computer screens in their windows and shoot ‘em from helicoptors like feral hogs. After all, Kansas is a Christian state.
For KMUW I’m Richard Crowson.
KMUW commentary back on April 18:
Are you as happy as I am to see those daffodils popping up? Man, it seems like it’s been a long winter. And I’m not just talking about the weather. The news itself has brought us dark cloud after dark cloud as of late. I’ve found myself transfixed to an unhealthy degree by images of Northern Japan’s tsunami misery.
I thought we had it bad what with the looming deep budget cuts here in Kansas that are sending divisive cracks along our landscape. Those cracks spider outward from Topeka and we get our schools divided from arts divided from the disabled divided from teachers’ pensions divided from, well, you get the idea. If “to every thing there is a season” we are apparently in the season of civil division.
All of this is against a backdrop of our national political divisions. Storm after blustery storm of partisanship has whipped itself into a windy fury of uncivil public discourse, often ending in torrents of childish name-calling and deeply wounding mutual distrust.
And then upon this bleak and barren landscape, right in the middle of this seemingly unending recession’s chill, daffodils have the audacity to raise their little yellow trumpets toward the roiling gray clouds.
It’s enough to make one get up off the couch of self pity and open a book of poetry. Maybe to a poem by William Wordsworth. Maybe to these lines in which Wordsworth recalls having seen a stand of those impertinent floral fellows in his “Ode to a Daffodil:”
“For oft, when on my couch I lie in vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.”
For KMUW I’m Richard Crowson.
Tuesday, March 15, 2011
I love, no make that loooooooooooooooooooooove Richard Thompson's work. Here's one of his Cul de Sac toons that sort of hits home, since I sometimes play the banjo in classrooms. The way the kids can just run with an idea and take over is so true to life. You never know what they're going to say. That's part of what makes it fun.
Thursday, March 10, 2011
Friday, March 4, 2011
Friday, February 18, 2011
How can a state that can't afford a $600,000 Arts Commission possibly afford a 6 million dollar Governor's Mansion???
If Governor Sam Brownback is really serious about attacking our state’s 492 million dollar deficit, why is he messing around with teensy little amounts like the $600,000 that the state will “save” by obliterating the Kansas Arts Commission?
Come on, Guv. Let’s really get after it. If aesthetics are a luxury we can’t afford in these tight times, and that’s the implication of your Arts Commission abolition, what about the house you live in? I don’t know the true value of Cedar Crest, the Kansas Governor’s Mansion, but I suspect it’s considerably more than the 4.4 million dollars that was spent on renovating it in the 1990s. Let’s be conservative (we like being conservative!) and put a 6 million dollar price tag on it. And sell that sucker to the private sector.
What better way to send a signal to Kansans that you walk the talk, than by selling Cedar Crest and giving that money to the state? Then you can underscore your sincerity by moving into a double wide at Topeka’s Sunflower Acres Mobile Home Village. Heck, maybe the private sector will buy you one of those $29.95 sofa-sized paintings on sale in the Wal-Mart parking lot. Who needs all that pretentious NEA-influenced art made by Volvo-driving, pointy-headed, liberal-leaning so-called artists anyway?
By selling the Cedar Crest Mansion you can put a big ole 6 million dollar dent in the state deficit instead of pock-marking it with that measly $600,000 gained by abolishing the Kansas Arts Commission.
Never mind that the $600,000 actually brought 1.2 million dollars to Kansas each year. Never mind all of those small arts entities in rural areas that will lose funding once there’s no Kansas Arts Commission. Let ‘em raise money by selling Elvis paintings at intersections. That’s the kind of thing that attracts businesses to Kansas. Not theatres, galleries and museums. And certainly not governor’s mansions. For KMUW I’m Richard Crowson.
Monday, February 14, 2011
So here's a little glimpse of what life on campus would be like if students carry guns as many conservative gun-rights folks are advocating. Yeah. Real good idea there. Turn higher ed into higher dead.
Shooting suspect on Tennessee university campus captured
Friday, February 4, 2011
Just finished the terrific biography of Louis Armstrong by Terry Teachout entitled “Pops.” It paints an image of the jazz trumpet master as a man of great emotional, artistic and intellectual complexity. That might be surprising to many who only knew him as a clownish, gravelly-voiced pop vocalist with an outrageous ear-to-ear grin.
Anyone who watched Ken Burns’ PBS documentary about the history of jazz knows that Armstrong was a genius on his instrument. It’s been gratifying to see him get the recognition he so deserved for his role in the creation of that most American musical art form.
Reading the story of his life as outlined in Teachout’s book, I was struck by another role that Satchmo played for us all: the roll of spiritual teacher. He was not a particularly religious man in the traditional sense. But here are Armstrong’s words about an encounter he once had:
“Years ago I was playing the little town of Lubbock, Texas, when this white cat grabs me at the end of the show – he’s full of whiskey and trouble. He pokes on my chest and says, ‘I don’t like…’ ”and here Armstrong says the guy used the n-word. Continuing with Armstrong’s words: “These two cats with me was gonna practice their Thanksgiving carving on that dude. But I say ‘No, let the man talk. Why don’t you like us, Pops?’ And would you believe that cat couldn’t tell us? So he apologizes – crying and carrying on…And dig this: that fella and his whole family come to be my friends! When I’d go back through Lubbock, Texas for many many years they would make ole Satchmo welcome and treat him like a king.”
That theme ran throughout Louis Armstrong’s life. He returned love for hatred. What a man. What a life. And what a lesson for us all.