Issue #18 Winter/Spring 2009
Editorial Issue #18/ 2009
Given the times, The American Dissident ought to be receiving a lot of submissions decrying corrupt politicians, left and right, corrupt lobbyists, corrupt CEOs, intellectually-corrupt professors and poets, etc. On the contrary, it does not. And what it does receive tends to be scribbled by writers who cannot seem to comprehend the journal’s focus and guidelines. Poets, editors, and other writers seem content relegating American literature to mere ornamentation. Guernica: A Magazine of Art & Politics boasts, for example, a blurb from Howard Zinn, but publishes interviews with Pinsky, Hass, Kooser, and others anointed by the established order. In that light, how could it possibly take my criticism of the National Endowment for the Arts seriously (see pp 30-38)? “We don't do rants, which is what your piece reads like to me. It's really self-involved and paranoid,” wrote co-editor Joel Whitney, who does not have the guts to publish those who would criticize the NEA, preferring instead to publish self-admitting sellouts like Billy Collins, who states unabashedly: "Suddenly you're asked to stop looking at specifics—I mean, I write about saltshakers and knives and forks—and talk like a politician.” Well, I don’t write about saltshakers, nor do I talk like a politician (left or right-wing), therefore I must surely be, in the words of Whitney, “blinded by ego and rage.” A decade ago, Michael Parenti (Z Mag) simply wrote me: “we’re not interested in literature.” In retrospect, his statement makes sense.
The NEA will not be according The American Dissident public grant monies because its panelists unanimously proclaimed: the “artistic merit of the publication is low; the design and readability of the publication is [sic] poor.” Some pipedream that was, eh?! In vain, I challenged the NEA on its negative unanimity, asked for precision, and got none at all (read the essay). After all, I’m just a citizen “blinded by ego and rage.” Clearly, the NEA’s decision was a political one, and such political decisions should not be legal… and perhaps are not, but what the hell can I do against the vast government wall?
On a positive note, the Concord Free Public Library allowed me to hold a watercolor display in its art gallery for the month of August. There, I was actually permitted to criticize the local pillars, while advertising The AD. One curator noted: “The only thing I know is that I have never seen anything like your work in the Gallery. You don't soothe, you awaken.” That alone made it worthwhile. I asked curator Nick Capasso of DeCordova Museum to check it out. He did. “While DeCordova Museum does have a long track record of presenting politically engaged contemporary art, I’m afraid that we will not be able to include your work in our exhibition program. Good luck fining [sic] other venues for your work.” So, I painted a watercolor depicting him as a Nazi at the gates of the art museum autocratically determining acceptable aesthetics (see p. 3). He’s depicted in the center of the illustration surrounded by colleagues Kois and Rosenfield. The pig and hearts actually exist at the museum, which tends to promote, despite Capasso’s assertion, diversionary art that doesn’t question or challenge much of anything at all. Now, when was the last time you’ve heard of an artist satirizing an art curator? The editor wishes to thank subscribers for making The American Dissident possible. Robbins Library (Arlington, MA) is a new institutional subscriber!