Sunday, August 24, 2008

BIDEN MY TIME/getting a head

I have to admit I was pleased to hear about Obama's decision this weekend to choose Joseph Biden as his running mate. We might finally have a shot at escaping the greasy clutches of the corpulent corporate constituents who've been gleefully profiting from the recent downfall of America.
I feel closely personally connected to Joe, because 4 years ago, when John Edwards was in his present shoes beside John Kerry, Biden delivered the commencement address at my MFA graduation ceremony at the University of Delaware. It was a beautiful afternoon, and spirits were running high. We were about a year into the conflict in Iraq, and sentiment on the conservative campus ran with the troops.Biden began with a rousing show of approval for the young, talented graduates, hearkening the day he'd graduated from the same university, young, determined, and filled with unflappable resolve. That being said, he spent the next 3/4 of his podium time regretfully admitting that he had been misled by the current administration into voting to invade Iraq. He fervently called folly on the bogus intelligence presented, and expressed his desire for an immediate change in the entire operation.
All around, the stands erupted in boos and hisses. Hecklers called out gruff insults like they were at a sporting event, yet the applause was also loud, and no-one clapped as hard as me. Hearing him say this was an unexpected cherry on top of the banana split that had been my masters program. Total satisfaction. I felt at the time I could relate to this noble senator. I had just completed tons (literally) of sculptures, and was also ready hit the world running. Additionally, I shared Biden's conviction regarding the danger in actions fueled by bravado and greed. Man's lust for shiny objects has plagued our species for thousands of years, and blinds those who fall victim to its charms, turning them into violent, dangerous, stupid creatures.
At some earlier point in my schooling, I participated in an outdoor show in the garden of the Agriculture Department. There was some sort of expo taking place, and a lot of bigwigs would be coming be to eat barbecue and drink mimosas. I installed a large metal sculpture, hoping to generate a possible sale. The area has deep pools of colonial money, and I felt like this sculpture might make a great addition to someone's private estate. The sculpture was placed in a clearing atop a rock terrace, staked into the ground with 2 foot metal spikes. A soft bed of green nestled it gently.
Nearby, there was purportedly an experimental cow with a window in its side that let you watch it turn alfalfa into mud. Ah, science.
A few stragglers showed up for the sneak preview, but the real celebration would take place that weekend. I left the area feeling content, excited.When I rode my bicycle down the next afternoon, this is what I found: NOTHING.Overnight, my sculpture had disappeared completely. All that remained was one screw. Shit!
I felt sick to my stomach. Never in my wildest dreams had I expected this, and I didn't exactly know what to do. I needed to file a police report. Before doing so, I went to the sculpture facility to discuss the crime with my professor. When I got there, I ran into another gradstudent who asked me why my sculpture was in the scrapyard out back.

I investigated, and sure enough, there it was, face badly smashed, mysteriously returned to its point of origin. I tried top imagine what kind of people would willfully destroy someone else's artwork. Barbaric indeed. I was pissed.I wonder if the artist who spent umpteen weeks pouring his efforts into the likeness of Saddam Hussein in the center of Baghdad felt the same way when he saw our troops yanking it off its pedestal with heavy machinery. Similarly, I'm sure the artists who carved the giant Buddha in Afghanistan destroyed by the Taliban in 2001 would share my disbelief and shock, had they not been dead for 1400 years.
Unfortunately, as artists, we make powerful images, and people react. Fortunately, in my case, the intent was more likely admiration than anger, perpetrated by people simply unable to resist a cool, shiny object. The fact that it had been returned made things easier to stomach. I just wished they hadn't damaged the face. I dragged it into my studio and hoisted it to the ceiling, pondering the mystery and trying to shake the sour feeling I had been dealt.
Later, discussing the event with other gradstudents, a likely solution began to emerge.
We tried to imagine the kind of off-kilter mentality these kind of people must have. I couldn't believe the short-sightedness that went into helping themselves to something so obviously not theirs, ultimately stealing my chance to make a decent sale and gain some local exposure.

It was well known that the campus had its fair share of frat houses. Even without evidence, they seemed the likely culprits, using it as the centerpiece for some drunken escapade. FUCK YEAH!!! The theory was corroborated by an undergrad who had seen the sculpture in the middle of the street as she returned home from a night of drinking. She'd thought it was a dream, but it proved the path had not been a straight line.
Little did I know that, in one year when I was waiting to collect my diploma, these same rowdy meatheads would be booing the commencement speaker and future vice-presidential nominee. Idiots.Ironically, another staunch fratboy was also delivering a commencement address around the same time somewhere else. This time it was a future ex-president, a war-president. FUCK YEAH!!!!!!
I bet he didn't decry the debacle in the Middle East the way that Biden did, but then again, I'll bet I know which one actually wrote his own speech....DUH!


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