A Forum for Vigorous Debate, Cornerstone of Democracy

[For the journal--guidelines, focus, etc.--go to www.theamericandissident.org. If you have questions, please contact me at todslone@hotmail.com. Comments are NOT moderated (i.e., CENSORED)!]
Encouraged censorship and self-censorship seem to have become popular in America today. Those who censor others, not just self, tend to favor the term "moderate," as opposed to "censor" and "moderation" to "censorship." But that doesn't change what they do. They still act as Little Caesars or Big Brother protectors of the thin-skinned. Democracy, however, demands a tough populace, not so easily offended. On this blog, and to buck the trend of censorship, banning, and ostracizing, comments are NEVER "moderated." Rarely (almost NEVER) do the targets of these blog entries respond in an effort to defend themselves with cogent counter-argumentation. This blog is testimony to how little academics, poets, critics, newspaper editors, cartoonists, political hacks, cultural council apparatchiks, librarians et al appreciate VIGOROUS DEBATE, cornerstone of democracy. Clearly, far too many of them could likely prosper just fine in places like communist China and Cuba or Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Russia, not to mention Sweden, England, and Austria.

More P. Maudit cartoons (and essays) at Global Free Press: http://www.globalfreepress.org

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Matt Damon

This cartoon I sketched in 2004.

Saturday, March 9, 2019

Cape Cod Art

Cape Cod ART
Cape Cod ART magazine is evidently an arm of the "Chamber of Commerce" and its tourist industry, which really does sum up what ART has become and is on Cape Cod, where I've been living for a decade.  In essence, art has become fully coopted and castrated, fully palatable for the local elites, including autocratic library directors like Lucy Loomis.  Criticize the latter and be fully ostracized, if not outright banned, by the latter.  

Now, I am not against art depicting little children playing on the beach or boats glistening in the sunshine, BUT I am against a machine that prohibits art critical of the machine and its diverse organizations and apparatchiks.  TOTAL SILENCE, for example, was the reaction I received last year regarding my criticism of the Fine Arts Work Center of Provincetown (see my blog post on that below a bit).  The local newspaper, Provincetown Banner, refused to publish any criticism.  However, I actually did receive a rare reaction from an establishment-art personage the year before--Editor Chris Busa (Provincetown Arts):  "You are a silly pest that sucks blood from living things."  

In any case, below is my correspondence with Cape Cod ART.  Julie Craven Wagner, current editor, chose not to respond.  TOTAL SILENCE, by the way and contrary to general editorial belief, is not a cornerstone of democracy!  The previous editor, Matthew J. Gill, actually responded.  And how interesting it is to read his rationals for not questioning and not challenging the evident domination of business interests regarding the local art scene...

From: George Slone
Sent: Saturday, March 9, 2019 9:24 AM
To: jwagner@capecodlife.com
Cc: John Lauritsen; cbusa@comcast.net; ppronovost@capecodonline.com; sturgislibrary@comcast.net; curator@CapeCodArtCenter.org
Subject: The cooptation and castration of art and artists on Cape Cod

To Julie Craven Wagner, Managing Editor, Cape Cod ART:  
Why celebrate an art center that ostracizes art critics and only seeks to promote art apt to please tourists and business interests?  The boundaries of art should NOT be determined by the latter, but rather by independent artists not afraid to speak truth as they perceive it.  Contrary to your assertion, Cape Cod Art Center has NOT been “supporting artists and the community as a whole”!  It certainly, for example, has NOT supported me as an independent and highly critical artist living in the community!  
So, rather than celebrate the Center, we should instead DENOUNCE it and by doing so helpfully encourage it to embrace freedom of expression… ALL expression, including and especially that critical of the Cape Cod art scene.  You argue that, in your magazine, one will “encounter artists of all kinds.”  Yet clearly, one will NOT encounter artists that question and challenge the art machine!  That kind of artist is simply not permitted by the art machine.  Recall Thoreau’s dictum: “let your life be a counterfriction to stop the machine.”  The publicized career artist today instead has let his or her life be an integral part of the machine.  By presenting only art that does not offend, you end up offending independent thinkers like me.  
You could begin by manifesting the courage to devote one little page in your annual magazine to such criticism… just one little page!  Without real criticism, art will suffer and continue on its journey to full banality.  If you cannot devote a page, and I suspect you cannot/will not, then clearly your role has been one of coopting and castrating art and artists on Cape Cod.  Might you somehow actually be proud of that?  
Contrary to your conclusion, one will NOT find “artists of all kinds” in your magazine.  One will certainly, for example, NOT find Cape Cod artists who criticize the Cape Cod art establishment.   After all, proponents of the latter tend to detest real debate and freedom of expression, cornerstones of democracy.  
Finally, for the correspondence I had with the former editor of your magazine, Matthew Gill, see  https://wwwtheamericandissidentorg.blogspot.com/2019/03/cape-cod-art.html.  Why not check it out.  After all, curiosity did not kill the art-magazine editor, the establishment paying her did that.  
As a footnote, I have yet to find one artist--just one artist--on Cape Cod willing to write a letter of protest against the permanent banning of my person in 2012 without warning/without due process from Sturgis Library.  Why the banning?  "For the safety of the staff and public" was the only reason provided by Lucy Loomis, despite the fact that I have NEVER threatened anybody and have no record of violence whatsoever.  It actually took an order by the State Secretary of Records to force Loomis to open library records to the public so that I could finally find the reason for the banning (for actual documents and details, see http://theamericandissident.org/orgs/sturgis_library.html).  My civil rights are currently being denied because I am no longer permitted to attend any cultural or political events held at my neighborhood library.  Do you care?  Paul Pronovost, editor of Cape Cod Times, has refused to publish anything regarding the banning.  Is that called good journalism... or rather journalism that suits the local elites? 
Finally, if you ever decide to open up to freedom of expression and devote a little page to criticism, then please include this letter on it.  Thank you for your hopeful attention.  

From: George Slone
Sent: Tuesday, January 31, 2017 10:15 AM
To: mgill@capecodlife.com
Subject: A suggestion et al

To Matthew J. Gill, Ed. Cape Cod ART,
As a rather different kind of Cape Cod artist, I was wondering how I might get profiled in your Cape Cod ART magazine.  Although I do not try to capture the beauty of boats and sand dunes, I do try to capture the reality of the arts establishment on Cape Cod.  I would certainly have plenty of thoughts and anecdotes to share with you, including my view that art should be more than that approved by local chambers of commerce and apt to be purchased by tourists.  
You do mention in your editorial that some of the work you present is “to put it simply, fun.”  Well, “fun” is a rather subjective term.  But, well, I do have some rather “fun” aquarelles for your perusal.  To date I’ve done 50 in a collection I call “Democracy” and now 16 in a collection I call Entartete Kunst, many of which depict local Cape Cod personalities.  Entartete Kunst, as you might know, is the term the Nazi’s used to what they considered to be “depraved art” (i.e., art that had to be destroyed and suppressed).  So, in today’s America, as opposed to yesterday’s Germany, entartete kunst refers, from my point of view, to art that must be suppressed, banned or censored because it is critical of pillars of the academic/literary/art establishment.  It is the glaring taboo that few artists seem able to grasp, let alone willing to break now and then, especially here on Cape Cod.  
It has always been difficult for me to comprehend the artists, editors, poets, cultural apparatchiks, etc., who cannot bear to be criticized.  As an editor, I make it a point to not only brook criticism, but to encourage it and publish in each and every issue the harshest lodged against me and the journal.  What’s the big deal?  Well, apparently it is a big deal.  
Hopefully, you’ve been able to digest what I’ve written here, though I’m certainly not convinced that will happen.  Why not a few pages, even just one page, in your magazine devoted to artists who break art taboos.  

From: Matt Gill
Sent: Tuesday, January 31, 2017 12:23 PM
To: George Slone
Subject: Re: A suggestion et al

Hi George,
What a very interesting letter that was. Very interesting.
Thank you for reaching out.
Can you send me 2-3 images of your artwork that I can check out?
In a few weeks time we will be hosting an editorial board meeting to plan out the 2017 ART issue, and we will review all candidates for profiles.
I'll show your artwork to the group at that time.
I'll keep you posted.
Matt Gill
Cape Cod LIFE
Cape Cod ART

From: George Slone
Sent: Tuesday, January 31, 2017 2:21 PM
To: Matt Gill
Subject: Re: A suggestion et al

Hi Matt,
Thanks for getting back to me.  It would be very (very, very, very) surprising if your group proved sufficiently open to my dissident aquarelles.  It just ain't gonna happen!  But I'll attach 3 of the pieces anyhow.  I have been openly critical of just about every literary or art organization on the Cape over the years.  Sadly, that has gotten me essentially 100% ostracized.  
Now, if you want more neutral stuff, I am also a photographer, specializing in scenes from Newfoundland and Labrador, though have also been shooting on the Cape of Course.  I will be a featured photographer in an upcoming issue of Newfoundland's Downhome Life magazine.  Yes, I can get published up there (guest editorials et al), but not down here.  Newfoundland is as the Cape might have been 150 years ago--cod fishing.  Well, there's the moratorium now.  I'll attach three photos too.  Thanks again!
G. Tod

From: Matt Gill
Sent: Wednesday, March 8, 2017 9:55 PM
To: George Slone
Subject: Re: A suggestion et al

Alas, you were correct. We ended up choosing a different lineup of artists for this year's issue of ART.
I'm curious though. Why have you been so critical, as you mention, of all the different literary and art organizations on the Cape over the years? Are you too extreme for them, or are they too run of the mill for you, or something?
I'm not an art expert, really more of a novice - I'm just good at editing and organizing, that kind of thing.
Let me know some more of your story, and I'd be happy to meet you one day if you wanna swing by our office.
Matt Gill
Cape Cod LIFE
Cape Cod ART

From: George Slone
Sent: Thursday, March 9, 2017 9:26 AM
To: Matt Gill
Subject: Re: A suggestion et al

Hi Matt,
Thanks much for responding.  That alone makes me feel not 100% solitary, as an artist on the Cape, just 99%.   Anyhow, as I see it, an artist ought to seek truth and exercise his/her basic right of freedom of expression.  An artist ought to ask him or herself what he or she should not depict… then, now and then, depict it!  Break the artist taboos, the main one, of course, being criticism of artists themselves and their organizations!  Indeed, one truth I have found is quite simple:  artists and their organizations hate to be criticized and will usually ostracize any rare artist daring to do that.  And thus I exploit that fact in my art.  Academics are the same.  Now, without hardcore criticism, how can there be improvement?  
Should I not be critical, for example, of the Concord Cultural Council that at one point had banned "political" art, as a direct result of the art I’d sent it for grant consideration?  Should I not be critical of the Mid-Cape Cultural Council, which will simply not respond?  Should I not be critical of the Cape Cod Poetry Review, which will not publish my poetry for the evident reason that my poetry has a critical component?  And on and on.  In fact, I have given up trying to get public grant money.  I'd even spent $500 to get the 501c3 designation for The American Dissident in the hope that that might open the gates for public grant money.  Of course, I was wrong.
Again, I am confounded by artists, academics, poets, journalists who canNOT brook criticism.  As an editor, for example, I not only encourage harsh criticism of me and the journal, but also publish in each issue the harshest received.  From criticism, I create.
Again, I test the waters of democracy.  On the Cape, those waters are very murky!  And of course one does not know that unless one actually tests those waters.  The gatekeepers of art on the Cape keep their gates hermetically-sealed vis-a-vis the rare artist, who tests them.  In fact, I know of no other artist on the Cape who will question and challenge those gatekeepers.  In essence, doing that has become my artist modus operandi.  I'd rather speak rude truth, than gain entrance through the art gates.  In that sense, and sadly so, I am definitely too extreme for them.  I do not seek to make all art critical of art gatekeepers.  I simply seek to get the latter to open their doors to a little critical art.  Why not, for example, just one little page at the end of Cape Cod ARTS devoted to rare artists who criticize the art machine, including Cape Cod ARTS?  Or how about 1/8 of a little page?  Get my drift?  It's the same absolutely-not'ism found in poetry and writing magazines across the country, not to mention newspapers.  Imagine, for example, I could not get the Cape Cod Times or Barnstable Patriot to publish a tiny paragraph reportage that I, a citizen living on Cape Cod, was permanently banned from Sturgis Library, my neighborhood library, w/o warning or possibility of due process.  My very civil rights are thus being denied because I am not permitted to attend any cultural or political events held there.  Did the Barnstable County Human Rights Commission care?  Of course not!  
My story is a long one, for I have "battled" at Elmira College (NY), Fitchburg State University (MA), Bennett College (NC), Grambling State University (LA), American Military University (WV), Festival International de la Poesie de Trois-Rivieres (Quebec), Martha's Vineyard Regional High School, Walden Pond (MA), etc.   
Perhaps it would of interest to you personally to contemplate what art might be prohibited from the pages of Cape Cod ARTS.
Anyhow, thanks again for your interest!  And indeed I'd be happy to meet.  
G. Tod

From: Matt Gill
Sent: Friday, March 10, 2017 10:22 AM
To: George Slone
Subject: Re: Je suis Charlie et al...

Morning George,
Excellent points made in this letter.
I admire your convictions!
I do see the irony of phrases and philosophies such as "all the arts for all of us," and then, yet, there's exclusion.
However, I cannot take on that particular battle on this particular day (day off).
Have a good weekend George. We'll get coffee some day.

From: George Slone
Sent: Friday, March 10, 2017 2:40 PM
To: Matt Gill
Subject: Just Say No to Alt-Art!

Good enough, though you did not address a number of issues evoked.  When Cape Cod ART opens its gates to alt-opinions and alt-art like mine (don't worry I definitely will not be holding my breath!), then we should on that "some day" have a cup of coffee... or better yet a bottle of champagne!  Bon week-end!  

From: George Slone
Sent: Saturday, April 1, 2017 1:08 PM
To: Matt Gill
Subject: New issue just published...

Hi Matt,
You are mentioned in my editorial for the new issue of The American Dissident, fresh off the press.  The reason for the mention is my unanswered challenge to you:  why not provide 1/8 of a page in Cape Cod ART to criticism of Cape Cod art (and ART)?  That question is of course at the crux of the art problem.  Copies are just $9.  And sorry, you won’t be able to read a copy in any library on the Cape because not one Cape library director is sufficiently open-minded to subscribe, whereas directors of Concord, Newton, Lincoln, and a handful of university libraries (Harvard, Yale, Brown et al) are sufficiently open-minded…

G. Tod