As I walked down the alleys running parallel to chi chi Newberry St. in Boston, looking at layers of quick tags and throw-ups, I realized that I’m not the average tourist. While tourists in Boston hit the Freedom Trail, or drink at Cheers after shopping at Faneuil Hall, I scan years of graffiti for the elusive stencil piece. If you mapped my wanderings this past Tuesday, you’d see an odd path that revolved around one thing: photographing stencils. This history that I chart across the planet creates my psychogeographic story.
Inside the Lab and Up Close with Erminio Pinque
My Boy Scout training failed me Wednesday in Rhode Island. I took a day of my Boston/Cambridge trip to meet Erminio Pinque, mastermind behind the puppet creatures that are Big Nazo. I planned on picking his brain and absorbing the scenes of Big Nazo Lab. I wanted to document his techniques, see what his style was all about, and meet a professional East Coast puppeteer. I only had about 4 hours to do all of this and should’ve brought a voice-recording device along with my camera. I wasn’t prepared, and rushed off to catch my train back to Boston awash in thoughts, visuals, and emotions that soon faded into shadows of their original energies. I wasn’t prepared!
Erminio Pinque shows two curious people a hybrid creature that Big Nazo created for a restaurant ad campaign. I think this is a brimp, a broccoli and shrimp creature.
Sons of Liberty Redux
Providence, RI and Boston, MA
Since 911, I’ve looked into the USA’s own “terrorist” past and discovered many precedents that our Founding Fathers themselves created in the 1700s. Similar in scope to uprisings (i.e., intifada) like the Hebrews against their imperial Roman rulers, men like Paul Revere, Samuel Adams, and John Adams became the upper and middle class “leaders” of their own form of uprising against their own imperial rulers – the English King and Parliament. More like the Earth Liberation Front’s tactics than Al-Quida’s, our own Sons of Liberty worked their colonial rulers over via strategic use of violence, intimidation, and, well, terror. Along with a strong propaganda campaign, the Sons of Liberty incited riots, set fires in the streets, trespassed upon and burnt English property, and eventually tarred and feathered those that were loyal to the crown.
I ran across this plaque in Providence on Wednesday. This caused me to reschedule my Thursday plans to try to find more spots where the Sons of Liberty conspired and acted.
The early-20th-century advent of the automobile brought about many changes to society and how humans organized themselves. In a time when inventions revolutionized the way we communicated, travelled, and entertained, the auto created a powerful framework of the era. Over 100 years later, it still creates that firm, romantic symbol of freedom, uniqueness, and materialism that developing nations like China are quickly becoming aware of.
This modern, Fordist symbol has reached icon status among the American population. The automobile stands as a model of the first step to that hazy, idealized concept of the “american dream.” Put that money down, get that bank loan, and drive away with one of the most expensive things you’ll ever buy. A house with a family will soon follow, complete with (a 30-year mortgage) a pool, a grill, and a lawnmower.
This blog entry will use personal anecdotes to show the power of the car as an icon, and then show how this concept is currently being revolutionized by my current employer, Business Leaders for Sensible Priorities (BLSP). For a week now, I have thought about my own personal relationship with the automobile, and am surprised to see the obvious arc that propelled me to the job as CarnyMobile Operator. Today, at a Hot Rod convention in Gilford, NH, the loose strands came together, making me realize that changing American’s concept of their rides is serious business. I could be a catalyst for this change, or at least the current well-planned attempt.
Continue reading “Art Car (Activism): An Anecdotal History”
Ben Cohen, Founder of Business Leaders for Sensible Priorities, gave warm greetings to Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez earlier this week in Vermont. Mr. Cohen hosted a last minute stopover for Pres. Chavez, as the South American Bolivarian firebrand winds his way around the world promoting democracy.
The purpose of Pres. Chavez’ visit was to attempt to reach a detente with US President George Bush. After the US government dropped military arms sales to the upstart, oil-rich country, Chavez apologized for calling the US president “Mr. Danger, dumb-ass, donkey, evil, and drunk.”
Mr. Bush did not accept the apology, causing Mr. Chavez to kick him to the curb while yelling “You’re a Mr. Stuffed Doll too!” Continue reading “Hugo Chavez, Ben Cohen, y Mi”
“I never thought I’d hear anyone say that,” a punk kid replied.
“The pigs got my back.”
Week two winds up for the CarnyMobile and the current rains may once again spoil some of the fun. The past few days have been mixed, with an actual “weekend” trip, one gig, and lots of time killing.
Day three winds down here in Concord, the Granite State’s capital city. I just finished watching another second season episode of ABC’s hit “Lost.” Guess you could say that this is my TV fix, a balm for the boredom of a small town. I’ve spent a good deal of time online, finding episodes, and wasting time with the crap that gets incorrectly labeled (iTMS is so much easier, but expensive). I’m also learning how to tie knots and juggle, but I’d rather be outside with the carny games.
This job has developed a sink and swim cycle: four 10-hour days of gigs, four days of nothing to do except errands and busy work. Rain washed out a few days of gigs this week, though I did manage to drive to Portsmouth, NH and table for a Dave Lippman show. It was an 11-hour day that ended with me driving back to Concord in pouring rain. The early part of that day was spent driving around buying things that I needed. I did that a lot in Burlington too, and am a bit over having to consume.
This photo just dropped into my in-box. While Sensible Priorities’ national office is located in Burlington, VT, there are two smaller state offices in Concord, NH and Des Moines, IA. The folks working in those offices will get their very own “educational vehicle” to drive around, the PieMobile. Sure to knock ’em dead in the city and hopefully not catch a gust on the highway, these wonders will add to the spectacle of ubiquity that Ben and Duane hope to amp up for the next few years.
The CarnyMobile’s older sibling, the OreoMobile, awaits a professional photoshoot in the Magic Hat Brewery (founded by one of the creaters of 7th Generation products) parking lot. This ride went to NH and IA last year for six months, complete with a blow-up baby and missle.
Once again, I arrived to a new place at a perfect time to see nature herself bloom into maidenhood. During my first day in Burlington, VT, my host Bram got his daughter to tell me that Vermont has extra seasons. Seven-year-old Tasha had just met me, so she shyly recited “summer, fall, stick, winter, mud, and spring.” Winter left mildly this year, so mud season wasn’t that muddy. I got to see the last throws of mud season my first few days here.
More of a mobile billboard than an art car, this van and high-striker-as-a-trailer will be my new “home” for the next six months. I shot this photo on the road to Ben Cohen’s house (outside of Williston village) yesterday; a farmer in the orchard behind the van gave a wave as I walked into the muddy field to frame this photo. I had just spent about 15 minutes backing this thing down part of Ben’s driveway, and it wasn’t easy.
The CarnyMobile is the latest addition to the Business Leaders for Sensible Priorities grassroots auto-art fleet: the Oreo Mobile (photos soon), the Piggy Banks van (photos soon), the Pie Mobiles, Pants on Fire, Spank Bush/DeLay Mobile, and a few other earlier buses and autos.