The Collapsed American Republic

Thomas Jefferson worried that the new American Republic would collapse. Eighteenth Century political theorists thought that republics were prone to failure when predatory powers overwhelmed the democratic state and its citizens lacked the interest to sustain liberty. His fear has come true. Tremendously unequal wealth and corporate capitalism have corrupted the United States. The buffoon, President Donald Trump, is the figurehead for what has already come true. He is the TV personality who, like in the movie “Network,” has become the lightning rod for hatred and dissent that deflects our attention from what has actually happened. When the power elites have subdued the population completely, they will jettison this idiot, but their power will be supreme unless Armageddon or revolution changes the situation.

Television is saturated by ads for drugs and for technology that neither improves the quality of life nor increases awareness of what is really transpiring. The watcher is narcotized in front of the boob tube for hours on end. The news is not fake as claimed by screaming president; it merely isn’t news. What it represents is a conscious regurgitation of endless irrelevant positions deflecting attention away from reality. Huge capitalist corporations own almost all sectors of the economy, and they serve the hidden rich and the financial manipulators. From the food consumed to the clothing worn, there is hardly any local supply. There is some, but it has an artisanal quality that is not significant to the overall economy. American cities are a mess. Look at the smaller towns like Terre Haute, Indiana, or Grand Island, Nebraska. They have dying and half-demolished downtowns, while strips of fast food joints, chain restaurants, and chain stores line their entry and departure routes. Much of the old housing is dilapidated, even burned out, while the development of apartments and too-expensive homes in outlying suburbs empties the pockets of a diminishing working class. Or take a new development city like Temecula, California, an endless string of commercial development with low paying jobs interspersed with undistinguished single family homes where the teenagers are so bored they are addicted or stoned. Their parents use up their days in unrelieved auto jams to afford this American dream; or is it a nightmare?

The land no longer supports the independent farmers Jefferson saw as the backbone and sustenance of the American republic. Farms are now corporate entities funneling the corn, the cotton, and the hay to other corporate entities. Jobs in industry are not coming back to the American Rust Belt, as the demagogue promises. Why would they leave lower wage countries like China and others in Southeast Asia to put up with the demands for a middle class wage? What is coming and will continue to come are low wage jobs in warehouses for forklift operators to whom no union benefits or pensions will accrue. Careless capitalists like the Koch Brothers, whose concern is only for profit and despise regulation that would preserve the planet, own the mineral wealth. What interest do they have in climate change? None – for them the land is not to be cherished but is merely a commodity to be exploited. The Indians and the environmentalists are not focused on what is worthwhile to these capitalists. Only money matters.

Exxon Mobil’s CEO is now Secretary of State. He’s there to seize the world’s oil resources. The senator from Oklahoma will gut or close the Environment Protection Agency (EPA). He will kill the Standing Rock Indians without mercy. Sacred lands mean nothing to the success generated by more imported fuel. More corporate billionaires fill out the criminal developer’s cabinet. They will attempt to ensure the American hegemony of international capitalism that has won the globe and will continue to foment racism that is on the rise worldwide because it serves the purpose of monetary gain for the privileged few, and because there is no longer an governing alternative to self interest. Germans, French, Dutch, and British are reverting to the antipathy to the foreign that World War II ended with the creation of their union, which tried to circumvent shortsighted nationalism. The Middle East is racist too, disguised as Islamic radicalism. The Arab, a fraternal culture, splits down Sunni/Shiite lines making them vulnerable to resource imperialism. India and Pakistan, darker Hindu against lighter Islamic foe, will fight over the assets and riches of the larger part of the oriental subcontinent. African tribes will continue to slaughter each other over faiths holding different pieces of mineral treasure making military adventurism easier to justify. China’s Hans will challenge the USA for dominance in the Pacific, for their communist capitalism is pressed against international capitalist dominance, presenting growth opportunities for all stockholders. Remember WWI spurred the growth of Wall Street capitalists and American, German, French and British war industries.

The military industrial complex that Eisenhower warned against has taken place, slowly growing from the turn of the 20th century to victory in the decades after WWII. Bombs, planes, drones, and killing hardware provide profitable business to countries where making refrigerators is no longer profitable. Military might is a salve to the xenophobic, whose opportunities to express their superiority have been limited by the increase of less fortunate immigrants and refugees from economic and internal strife. For the mantra of the post-communist world is that every man (and woman to a lesser extent), should be for himself. Each should provide for self at a profit because that is the philosophy of capitalism. There is no us. There is no togetherness. Government gets in the way. There are no shared values for each have something that is theirs. Forget Leviticus (19- 2, 9-18), “When you reap the harvest of your fields, do not cut the grain to the very edge of the field, or gather in all the gleanings. Nor are you to completely strip your vines or pick up all the fallen fruit. Leave extra grain and fruit for the poor people and foreigners to gather for themselves. I am your God. Do not steal. Do not lie; do not cheat your neighbor. Do not swear by my name with intent to deceive, for if you do, you profane my name.” Profit and instilling fear is the blessing of those who seize power. The other is not your friend. They are the wrong color, have the wrong beliefs, and will take from you what is rightly yours. You must kill them for the profit of all who subscribe to rightfulness. Republics are the fiction of idealists.


Terre Haute, Indiana, 2016


Houses in Terre Haute, Indiana, 2016

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The Eagle Blinding


self-portrait-2016psFebruary 2, 2017, 22 days after the inauguration of the mad president, Dondolf Twittler, (I can’t bring myself to say his name.), I completed my 2016 self-portrait, the 35th drawing in my series. It is a remembrance and celebration of Rembrandt’s great painting “The Blinding of Samson.” Samson is blinded by the Philistines after they pay Delilah to cut off his hair and thus his strength. My version of the story is the blinding of America by Corporate Wealth and Right Wing Racists. “The Eagle Blinding” captures my view of what has happened in the 13 months since the beginning of 2106. Our Eagle has been paid off and pecks out one eye. Yes, it is a metaphor and narrative. Conceptual art is generally boring and is the cultural corruption of the 1%. I am leaving the USA February 23 to go see the Rembrandt’s and escape from my country, which I am no longer proud. America is half blind, but there is hope resistance is rising. The eagle could reject the Philistines.



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LA’s Heart Attack

tomkellycalendargolden-dreams                                                                     Golden Dreams Calendar 1954

LA’s heart and soul is having an attack. The real heart is not Tinseltown, Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Culver City, or Burbank, those centers of glitzy, glamour, and celebrity, which are the world’s image of Los Angeles. The blood-pumping center is the place of its diversity, its founding history, and creative spark. The area is ringed by four freeways with the Arts District nestled within, epitomizing its soul. Rapacious development is killing this essence.

Gentrified developments threaten to Manhattanize LA’s heart, making it solely a place of corporate uses and the abode of the wealthiest citizens. Diversity of people and use plunges. This is to the detriment of the vibrant place that was long the unrecognized center. Economic value increases, but cultural variety and mixture lose. The Grand Central Market, once a wonderful paseo between Broadway and Hill Streets, where cheap produce and products abounded for all, is now half empty, its grocery stalls priced out. Isolated food stands await pricier wine and cheese boutiques, while across the street the glass-atriumed Bradbury Building, LA’s seminal 1893 office building, is being considered for condominium apartments. Boyle Heights, once the neighborhood where Jewish and Japanese settlers could prosper, and Mexican Americans established their Southern California homeland amid “Iowa by the Sea,” where anyone not white wasn’t accepted, is vulnerable to house flippers buying up the Victorian homes.            meteor_brand_lemons_crate_label-courtesy-oviatt-library-csun                                         Fruit Crate Label by Western Lithograph Company

The Arts District established in the early 1990s is losing the artists who populated this once depressed warehouse zone and gave a new creative energy that recaptured the mythic forces in LA’s history. These warehouses and service structures stored the products moved into and out of the agricultural paradise that drew people west in the manifest destiny of America. Oranges and lemons shipped out of the sector’s railroad sidings. The emblematic fruit crate labels by anonymous artists were printed at Western Lithograph on Rose Street in the Arts District. Pianos and furniture brought by immigrants were stored in buildings like the Citizens Warehouse on the other side of the LA River Bridge from Santa Fe Railroad Depot. The depot was demolished in 1939 to be replaced by the Art Moderne masterpiece Union Station. These storage structures and the printing shop became the cheap studios for creative people in the last quarter of the 20th century. The printing shop in the early 21st century was demolished for apartments. The Citizens Warehouse was partially demolished for mass transit over the river, and what remains lies vacant.

tractionandthird               Apartments at the corners of Rose, Traction, and 3rd Street in the Arts District

In the center of the Arts District, near the location of the original Santa Fe Terminal, is a small hotel called the American. Often representing discrimination, it nevertheless embodies the spirit, the rich, and multicultural history of Los Angeles. After many years of neglect, The American is preserved, but the remodeling has turned an icon of possibilities into a fashionable nightly rental. Artist Stephen Seemayer created a film, “Tales of the American,” which tells the story of this hotel built in 1905 for African American railroad conductors and porters, who wouldn’t be allowed into LA’s larger and more prestigious hotels. Over 111 years of existence this small transient lodging with a bar on the ground floor has passed through many transformations while retaining it affordability and strange allure. During Prohibition it was a speakeasy. Japanese Americans took over the facility as Little Tokyo arose. World War II saw the Japanese internment and the hotel was sold to other ownership. The lodgers were workers in the produce district arising along Alameda, when trucks supplanted railroads as the primary commercial transportation.

deeprivergallerywithdanielmartinez-2                                      Deep River Gallery with Daniel Joseph Martinez

As the area around the hotel declined, its warehouses gradually vacated, and artists discovered the area. The American became access to the district. The bar became Al’s Bar, an internationally known venue of the punk rock scene, and art flourished on and in galleries of the American. Dustin Shuler erected his plane with a monumental nail to the façade of the building. “Two Ton Common” was used to attach the sculpture “Pinned Butterfly,” declaring the ascendency of an art community. A hotel gallery, Deep River, showed the work of provocateur, Daniel Joseph Martinez and allied artists to European acclaim. But as the 20th Century passed into the 21st Century, developers sensed money and descended on the area, newly proclaimed by the city as The Arts District. Gone are: Al’s Bar, Pinned Butterfly, the galleries in the American, AAA Art Gallery that showed drawing by Paul McCarthy, The Art Dock, the Drive-by Gallery in the Citizens Warehouse, Deep River, The Galleria by the Water, the Spanish Kitchen performance space, and the Waldenboyd Theater. The District Gallery, which showed the work of many Art District artists, fights to save and fund its lease in the new development, One Santa Fe, which lies where the old railroad terminal was, from the new owners who have raised the rent to a prohibitive level.


The American about to become gentrified 2016


The American in 1980 with “Pinned Butterfly”

Change driven by money always been LA’s mantra, but the shortsightedness discounts the creative and diverse cultural inclusiveness that flourished in the past, and could still flourish in the future, if not destroyed by unaffordability. Artists can’t compete with the money of the new urban settlers, nor could the big inexpensive creative spaces survive. This transformation is inevitable. Huge developments are planned in the expanded district. A 30-story development called Mesquite Place extending from 6th Street to 7th climbing over the railroad tracks to edge the river is in the approval process. All that can be hoped is that the Arts District is not swallowed up in towers and ersatz “loft” compounds. What might be demanded of the city is that it restricts the size of developments in old Arts District, perhaps by selling air rights. And perhaps some miracle might happen like what Michael Connelly imagined in his latest Harry Bosch detective novel, “The Wrong Side of Goodbye.”


Proposed Mesquite Development at the 7th Street Bridge and the River 2016

“The Wrong Side of Goodbye” is an apt metaphor. The wrong side of progress is kissing goodbye to the artists, along with the outside the system galleries. The art market exemplified by the Hauser Wirth & Schimmel Gallery has descended on the Arts District. The chauffeur driven limousines of the collectors are not far behind. This is could be a good thing or a bad thing, but it will precipitate the loss of other artist-sponsored spaces. Michael Connelly spoke to this condition as detective Harry Bosch investigated the reality of a multi-billionaire heir hidden in the Arts District. The conclusion of the story imagines the creation of an organization that sponsors artists and artists’ affordable workspaces. If only Los Angeles, with its surfeit of multi-millionaires, were to make places for functioning artists and not concentrate only on the market value of the art they produce, the heart of Los Angeles would be a Mecca of cultural inventiveness that isn’t just media and movie driven.

Or we could hope that Hollywood history would remember The Arts District printing company building on Rose Street, which became the studio, where photographer Tom Kelly shot the calendar image of a nude, young starlet, named Marilyn Monroe. But do not expect it to happen. Miracles only happen in the movies. Time to pull down the Arts District signs.

OMR Downtown Hotel

Map of the Heart of Los Angeles




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Twitler’s Raw Sewage

His mop of blonde hair is the toilet brush that churns the sewage of his brain vomited from his mouth.  The grass and roses around the White House will be covered in foul muck emitting an  odor of lies.


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A New Country



California, Washington, and Oregon secede from the United States of America. California makes the border with Mexico a large garden that citizens of either country can cross and pick vegetables unimpeded. Washington turns the border with Canada into a huge sports ground where team and individuals can play without guards. Oregon’s border with Idaho is excavated and becomes the world’s largest trout fishing lake. Caliwashigon will join the Asian free trade zone, enter a Pacific Ocean non-aggression pact, and found the Pacific Alliance Treaty Organization (PATO). Official languages will be: English, Spanish, Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese, Korean, Filipino, and Russian. Covering the capital and all military bases with tons of kimchee neutralizes North Korea. Hawaii invited to become part of the new state, if the Naval Base at Pearl Harbor is abandoned. Artists peacefully invade Arizona and the Colorado River is captured. The water supply to the repugnant and ugly city of Phoenix is cut off. A wall on the eastern side of the Colorado River is erected to keep all Trump supporters out of the multicultural west. Las Vegas is besieged with hundred dollar poker chips until it capitulates to California, and a stealth bomber levels the gold dildo tower of Trump to rubble. Corporate officers of American big business will be escorted to the eastern border in old schoolbuses, handed crayons, and given their freedom. Big agribusiness nationalized, and the farms divided up and given to those who wish to farm on a first-come-first-served basis. Farm size sustainability will be the criterion for subdivision of the fields. California’s military bases of the United States are blockaded. No agricultural products or bathroom supplies allow to enter. African-Americans, Hispanic Americans, and Islamic-Americans are allowed past the barricades as they wish. The remaining soldiers will have their Internet and television services denied until they surrender, and then they will be taken to the Arizona wall, given cheap cell phones, and released. Contributors to global warming sentenced to permanent exile in Death Valley with a case of bottled water. Nuclear weapons warehoused in the new country are defused. Caliwashigon is a nuclear free zone. The new sovereign entity banishes war. No violent actions against the united racist states, other than the pounding to dust of the Trump Tower will be tolerated or encouraged.



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The Inauguration of Donald Trump


Congratulations America, and Republicans, whose lust for power is devoid of ethics, the LAST PRESIDENT of the United States will soon take power. Donald Trump, the criminal developer, sexual molester, racist, and the ego-maniacal TV cult personality, who believes winning is everything, losing is weakness, and those who opposes him are terrorists, will act as if he is an inevitable winner, and, will BLUNDER, like the insane xenophobic monster he is, into WWIII, one hundred two to four years from WWI. America will not be great again. It will be RUBBLE. I can’t bear to watch.

Here is a possible scenario. ISIS makes a terrorist attack on the crowds gathered at an American Professional Football Game, killing many. The United Stated carpet bombs Isis’ capital in Syria and invades with troops via Israel, after advice by national security advisory, Michael Flynn, who terms Islam, ”a cancer.” The bombing kills 1,000’s of Syrians. Syria declares war on the USA. Iran backs Syria and attacks invading American forces. Israel supports the United States and hurls an atomic bomb at Iran after agreement by Trump. Russia supports Iran and attacks Israel with nuclear weapons and invades the Baltic States. North Korea, siding with Russia attacks South Korea. Pakistan backs Syria and uses the opportunity to nuclear attack India. China, enraged by the destruction in North Korea and the US nuclear-armed fleet off its coast, invades Taiwan. America responds with nuclear attacks on Islamabad, Pyongyang, Beijing, and Moscow. Russia retaliates with a nuclear bomb on Washington. China destroys Los Angeles. WWIII commences. Armageddon happens. The earth is destroyed and nuclear winter begins.


This IS and my last communication about this present day HITLER. Zieg Hell!!! I plan to enjoy the little time we have left for peace.


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Coltrane’s Coal Train


The great plains of the western United States are still a beautiful carpet of spring greens and summer yellows, at least where the voracious energy companies haven’t destroyed them yet. Thinking about the Lakota Sioux’s successful Last Stand against the oil pipe line in North Dakota to protest the despoliation of their water, the submergence of their timber and hunting grounds by the US Army Corps of Engineers for Lake Oahe, and the taking of their sovereign land by a treaty-violating American Government, my mind resonates with the evocative sounds of the blues as I envision the partly raped ground. In December, 2016, in the waning days of the Obama Administration, the US Army Corps of Engineers relented in its determination to run the pipeline under Indian land. The Standing Rock Indians and their environmentalists spoke of their joy, but voiced their concern that the white man and his corporations cared little for the sacredness of all land. What the incoming Trump Administration supports by the energy corporations and what Wall Street will do remains to be seen, but it won’t be good for land.

Recalling the trains rolling across Nebraska in 2016 on September 11 (9/11, the monumental day that America was attacked in 2001) carrying Wyoming’s Powder River Basin coal, I hummed the John Coltrane rendition of “These Are Some of My Favorite Things.” Looking at the coal convoy, I remembered what eastern Wyoming looked like 40 years ago when the scraping away of the gently undulating grasslands had barely begun. I lived in the Wyoming then. Estimating the amount of coal that passed us by on Ground Zero Day when the World Trade Center was destroyed, I wondered what huge patches of black and barren landscape the Wyoming Powder River Basin had become. Was it a hollowed-out wasteland resembling the devastated hole of the World Trade Center? Later, pulling up images from the internet, I saw that it was vast black hole, not filled with human carcasses, but nonetheless a horrendous wound to the earth. I wanted to cry to the sounds Coltrane made playing his melodious but rifting jazz. Meiguo, beautiful land, the Chinese call America, but it isn’t. It is a land exploited for its profit potential by an uncaring set of white invaders. The sacredness is in dollars, not in spirit.


Powder River Basin Coal Fields 1975


Powder River Basin Coal Fields 2016

Paralleling US route 30 from Grand Island to Oglala, the railroad tracks of the BNSF stretched across Nebraska less than 20 feet from the highway. Twelve trains sets of over 100 aluminum rotary gondolas transporting Wyoming’s soft coal headed east. Each gondola is over 50’:long, 10+’wide, and 12’ high. Each open hopper car holds 100 to 125 tons of coal for a total amount of 13,225 tons of coal per train. In the three hours and 210 miles we were on the highway, a grand total of 158,700 tons in 12 convoys passed us. The coal was en route to: Illinois, Missouri, Indiana, Ohio, Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania, all to provide fuel for midwestern and eastern power plants.

The clackity-clack of the gondolas separated by their steel-knuckled couplers, interspersed with the hollow whistles when the trains neared a crossing, the whish of cars and trucks the passing on the road every now and then, and the rattle of the gusts of wind lifting intermittently our vehicle’s roof top carrier, played in my mind the melody, “These are a few some of my favorite things” that Coltrane croaked and dragged slowly out of his saxophone, notes beautiful and painful at the same time. “Dah-da-dah, dah da dah, da–de-dada-da-do, waahh, waahh, woo.”

coaltrainacrossnebraska .

BNSF Coal Train in Nebraska


Power Plants supplied by BNSF trains from Wyoming

I love trains and the long convoys that slide across vast landscape. The corn processing facilities beside the tracks from Gothenburg to Kearney and beyond are punctuation points of reflective silver colored cones, tubes, peaked roof warehouses, and ramps. I am awed by the big blue sky wisped with clouds. I love the occasional buttes and rock pinnacles that punctuate the grasslands. The culture, spirituality of Sioux (Lakota) Indian tribes, and their great stoic, elegant and brave leaders: Sitting Bull, Red Cloud, Black Elk, and Crazy Horse, who once roamed these plains, attract me. The Manifest Destiny of pioneers, striking out to find a new life across the Oregon Trail that follows nearby the new superhighways and the train tracks, is a story of perseverance and courage.

The slaughter of the buffalo and the massacres of the Ogallala, Mineconju, and Hunkpapa old men, women, and children, starting in places like Blue Water Creek (Harney’s Massacre), near Lake McConaughy, Nebraska, in 1855 and ending with Wounded Knee, South Dakota in December 1890 are a terrible stain on US history. The environmental damage of the enormous Powder River Basin, Wyoming, supplying 40% of American coal, the multitude of railroad trains burning diesel fuel for thousands of miles across the US emitting pollutants, and the coal-fired power plants, often located in urban minority and low income neighborhoods, emitting health destroying particulates of heavy metals, nitrogen dioxide, sulfur dioxide, and climate-changing carbon dioxide, are killing my country, my countrymen, and the planet.


Buttes in Scottsbluff National Monument


Spotted Elk Dead at Wounded Knee

The problems of the coal trains and coal-fired power plants can be solved. Use of solar and wind energy, restriction on particulates in the air, and closure of coal-fired utility plants promoted by an activist Environmental Protection Agency would help America slow climate change; however a country dedicated to maximizing profits for its energy companies and utility monopolies will try prevent it. The servants of crass corporate capitalism are dead set against big profit-reducing changes as the naming of Scott Pruitt, Oklahoma’s Attorney General, an avowed opponent of the EPA to lead the agency by the incoming Trump Administration testifies. The reconstruction of much of the sacred grassland is probably impossible. The survival of the planet as viable to support human life even with to its warming is possible, but much that was once land will become water. The only humans to continue to live reasonable lives may be only those rich enough to provide themselves with the materials to exist in a hot place surrounded by dead seas.

How does one reconcile the contradictions? The United States is an electrified country with a capitalist driving force. The power plants light up our cities, give life to our appliances, and drive the digital information world. The need is insatiable. American are addicted to electricity and have been getting fixes since 1882, eight years before Wounded Knee, when Thomas Edison’s coal-burning Pearl Street Electric Power Station first supplied electricity to Lower Manhattan and Wall Street.  New York City’s greatest testament to the beauty, sensational, visually magnetic, and mind blowing power of electric addiction was and still is Times Square. From the beginning its electronic signs were advertisements for the entertainment and consumer-driven life financed and managed by Wall Street. Today every American city is ablaze. Its businesses and houses are lighted, directed, and controlled by electricity. The grandest holy temple of our electronic god is Las Vegas, Nevada. Las Vegas emerged from an isolated train stop to an electronic fantasyland of immense size and digital animation. I track its history, astounded that this place was simultaneously founded on another addiction, gambling. What Times Square and Las Vegas are evolved from, and will warp into, are endlessly fascinating to me. I am an electronic junkie who likes the art it bestows.


Times Square in 1953, painting by R. Nagele


Las Vegas Boulevard, Las Vegas, Nevada, 2016

You can’t kick the habit completely, and I don’t think anyone can. Electricity has provided us with too many benefits, but everyone should be aware of its negative effects. Minimally the aesthetic of electric power distribution damages our apprehension of the landscape from the ugly power lines crisscrossing the land and city, and to the hopelessly horrid piles of coal next to the utility plants whose enormous vent stacks belch smoke into the sky. They are the eyesores people no longer see, since they have been with us for over a century. I admit that the utility plants have a brutal beauty. The forms are geometric concatenations of towers, ladders, lines, and rectilinear forms horizontal and vertical that fascinate. The Brunner Island Power Plant hidden along an isolated stretch of the Susquehanna River south of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, surprised me with its visual power. Artists like Charles Sheeler and Charles Demuth used the romance of these industrial forms to great effect.


Electric Landscape in California


Brunner Island Power Plant on the Susquehanna

In the jazz age appeared several important American artists, who found cultural innovation and meaning in the industrial world. Charles Demuth was a Pennsylvania-born artist who had his studio in Lancaster. He painted industrial forms he saw in the state, like his image of 1920, End of the Parade, Coatesville, Pennsylvania. His semi-abstracted style fit with the forms he depicted. Photographer, painter, and print maker Charles Sheeler made a stunning silver point gelatin photographic print in 1927 of the River Rouge Plant of the Ford Motor Company. America was flexing its industrial and aesthetic prowess. Today these industrial types are disappearing as America de-industrializes and utility and refinery complexes are only places where these forms are still used. In the 1920s and ‘30s no one, except perhaps an Indian whose land was taken in the 17th and 18th centuries and an anti-modernist, was aggrieved at the reality of industrialization and its generation of a new abstracted form of art. Today the applauding sentiment is confined to the museum, poster, and postcard.


Demuth, 1920, Parade End , Coatesville


Sheeler, 1927, River Rouge Plant, Ford Motor Co.

The rusting hulks of lost industry have only served to embitter the blue collar workers laid off by this great shift, who have flexed their political clout into the election of a populist who says he can bring back jobs, but won’t be able to do it because control of the whole system in the hands of global corporate capitalists. Look at who owns the whole of the electronic network and the energy that powers it. The Wyoming coalfields are owned by corporations like Peabody Coal, Arch Coal, and Kiewit Corporation. Most have international interests. These energy producers are making enormous profit off the largest source of soft coal in the world. They aren’t about to stop mining. The coal is carried to the power plants by BNSF railroad, a duopoly controlling half of all western rail transportation, owned by Berkshire Hathaway. The coal is delivered to utility plants owned by corporation like DNR, Dynergy, and PPL (Pennsylvania Power & Light), corporations whose investors include Wall Street financiers and capital asset managers such as Goldman Sachs, Blackstone Group, and Vanguard, that in turn are owned by other capital controlling groups and high wealth investors.

The utility companies have sorry histories with relationships to criminally convicted Enron, bankrupted Lehman Brothers, and fines for non-compliance with court-ordered pollution measures. The utility plants were under pressure to halt burning coal by the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency). At the Will County, Powerton, and Baldwin Plants in Illinois, owned by NGR and Dynergy, the corporations closed some of the coal burning units of multiple unit facilities. Closures occur with a concomitant layoff of workers. Job loss at Baldwin was estimated to be 122 positions. Some units remain open. No doubt that an eviscerated EPA will not close, but perhaps allow reopening of the closed power generating units. The generated electricity is then transferred in some cases to other corporations. In Illinois, Dynergy sells its power to MISO (Midcontinent Independent System Operator). PPL operates its own system serving 10 million customers in UK and the US because PPL owns the English Utility Company. I would venture a guess that all the coal mining, coal transporting, coal utility users, and coal-fired electricity suppliers are interlocked by mutual investors and members of their boards of directors. This system serves them. They are the shareholders; most Americans and most of the world’s populations aren’t. We get what they give us at the price they determine often in collusion with the governments that say they serve us. We are the sheep. They are the shepherds. The fenced fields are opened and closed by gatekeepers bought off by the shepherds. It makes me angry.

Unless there is a revolution, the situation will not change. We know a communist revolution will not change it. Communism replaces one set of masters for another. The revolution must be individual. It must begin with awareness, knowledge, and opportunity. Awareness is diminishing because the elite committed to profit at any cost controls media and technology. The individual must his or her own path to awareness. Turn off commercial TV. Make your own video. Speak your own truth. Knowledge is available. The Internet provides a portal, but only one of many. There are still books. Opportunity can be found. The technology of wind and solar allow a person to be come a power plant owner and a mini-utility for others’ empowerment. Personal power will have to be forced from hands of and laws of use from the utilities. There are other opportunities, too. All that is needed is imagination.

All of this requires group activity, courage, and creativity. Don’t look to contemporary art or established cultural sources to show the way. The cool observation of the earth’s demise of present day conceptual art, and individualistic ego focused art has neither the anger nor the power to change the current situation. The art world sold out long ago the capitalist world of money. Most dramatic arts at least those displayed on television are locked down by corporate sponsorship. Music, since the demise of record labels, maybe the only place where the call to significant change can be heard. Look to for groups that can harness a new energy, viewpoint, and innovative message. Just as John Coltrane didn’t play his jazz alone, his quartet, sextet, and band provided the support for his revolutionary sound. Be creative in any way you can. Take what’s old and turn it upside down. “Some of My Favorite Things” could bring this cold removed uncaring global capitalist world crashing down. A new reality could arise. It won’t be a walk in the park, but it will be worth it. A new hankering for honking will hammer the ham-fisted honkies.


John Coltrane and the Thelonious Monk Quartet



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