Elections for Sale
Michael Bloomberg’s recent election as Mayor establishes a very dangerous precedent: that candidates can circumvent the city’s 4:1 campaign financing system, the most progressive of its kind in the nation, and fund their campaigns out of their own endless pockets.
At a recent post-election analysis session, one of Bloomberg’s key advisers suggested that the reason for the new Mayor’s electoral success stemmed less from the amount of money he spent, than from “how he spent it.” Yet with 74 million dollars to dole out (and plenty more, if necessary), Bloomberg was able to saturate the local media market with his message, the gist of which was that his experience in the private sector better qualified him to be Mayor than did his opponent’s career in government. In one interview, Bloomberg went so far as to state that Mark Green’s record as a public watchdog “was not germane to the job.”
One can only imagine the response if someone went to a shareholders meeting and suggested that their experience as a public official made him more suited to run the company.
Bloomberg’s means of getting elected thus seem inseparable from his ends—i.e. to further privatize the public sector. And so if New Yorkers wish to restore a positive role for the city’s government, then serious steps should be taken to insure that only candidates who believe in government’s basic premise can run for office. Forcing future candidates to abide by the 4:1 scheme is a necessary first step.
Of War and Football
The bombing of Afghanistan began at kickoff, or—what’s more important in media circles—preempted coverage of it. Since then, hardly a day has passed when some war cheerleader or other has failed to deploy a gridiron metaphor. Our destruction of the Taliban, says William Safire, has given us the “Big Mo,” meaning we should march downfield (sort of) to pummel Iraq. Neither is any weekend game complete without endless shots of overzealous fans who’ve traded their team colors for stars and stripes, or of service men overseas assuring us of their love for football and country.
Yet football is not like war, at least not in the contemporary meaning of the term. Surely the language of battle is similar, whether “bombs,” “trenches,” “ground attack,” and so on. The spectacle of violence, reward for the use of force, the bureaucratic chain of command—these too make the game superficially similar to warfare. What is acceptable on the battlefield, as well as who gets to make that determination, are entirely different, however.
Football, unlike modern war, is played by clearly defined rules, administered by referees who are both all-powerful and independent of either team. Conversely, under the emerging Bush Doctrine, the Times reported recently, “the use of force is unrestrained by borders or allies.” Football takes place on a precise, familiar playing field, which the game’s combatants willingly enter, knowing full well the dangers at hand. The opponents on either sideline are armed equally. To date, expanding the action to include either supporters of the other team or innocent bystanders near the stadium is not part of the game.
Most historians say that once the Germans used mustard gas in the trenches during World War I, the rules that bound 19th century warfare fell by the wayside. In football, such foul play on the lines would at least draw a penalty, and possibly an ejection. “They’re the real heroes,” one veteran football commentator said of the servicemen featured prominently during a recent holiday telecast. “What we’re doing here is just a game.” “And over there they’re using real bullets,” added his partner. Unwittingly, perhaps, they were right: 21st century war is no longer like a game, especially because only one team is making all the rules.
Kimowan Metchewais: A Kind of PrayerBy Maymanah Farhat
APRIL 2023 | Art Books
Kimowan Metchewais: A Kind of Prayer is edited and designed to honor the poetics that distinguished the artists multi-disciplinary practice. Color reproductions in the monograph do not appear in chronological order but instead are placed in relation to one another, highlighting how Metchewais tended to carry ideas over space and time, regularly bridging different experiences and periods of his life.
from City of BlowsBy Tim Blake Nelson
FEB 2023 | Fiction
Those familiar with Tim Blake Nelson's work in Coen brothers films, the Watchmen series, or last year's Old Henry, will immediately understand that this novel's depictions of Hollywood machinations are of a higher caliber than those in any other literary work that's attempted to depict that world. City of Blows abounds in the economy and fluidity that accompanies true authorityseen in this description of a producer: “One of the biggest pricks in LA. But he gets his movies made. Directors rarely work for him twice.” What's less expected is Nelson’s investigation of the relationship between insecurity and toxicity, seen in Weinstein-esque predators but also applicable to masculinity at large. The psychological motivations and character examinations develop City of Blows from a roman à clef to a work far more universal.
Lhasa City SeriesBy Droma Yangzom
APRIL 2023 | Critics Page
I wouldn't be surprised if Lhasa, Tibets capital city, is one of the fastest changing cities in the world. Whenever I go back, Im astonished to see all the changes. Sometimes I feel as if I cant recognize my own city.
Alina Tenser: A Particular Kind of EmbraceBy Helena Haimes
MARCH 2022 | ArtSeen
In A Particular Kind of Embrace, Alina Tenser manages to elevate language beyond its signifying register, and into the realm of the affective. Linguistic mistakes, stutters, and slippages are made, quite literally, concrete.