Tuesday, April 10, 2012

I was going to post a vid of the KISS appearance on last night's "Dancing With the Stars," but it's already been blocked.

In all my years on radio, I think I've rarely ever played music that qualified as pure kitsch. That is, music made & recorded in bad faith, that denied the artistic or moral values it pretends to contain. Music the equivalent of Thomas Kinkade paintings. Because there is a difference between lousy art & kitsch. Lousy art may be made by "outsiders" - uneducated, naive or crazy people, or children or elephants with paint brushes attached to their trucks. Lousy art can amuse & may be instructive & even profound on occasion.   Kitsch is designed to deceive. That is why kitsch is the preferred art of totalitarian regimes. Art without truth, but made for  people who desperately need to be reassured that a lie is  the truth. Even when it completely secular, as in Stalinist Russia, it drapes itself in false spirituality.

Norman Rockwell is not kitsch. Well, not generally. His Americana pictures are idealizations & caricatures of  a life & culture  Americans recognized. Most Americans knew they were how we wanted to see ourselves, not necessarily what were were. Although the situations were contrived, the settings & scenery were not.

Kinkade was a nasty, abusive drunk who financially ruined the sincere people that bought into his mall gallery chain because they confused his business with the "vision" of "light" he presented in his paintings & assumed he was his paintings & therefore also his business.  He certainly was, but in ways they could not know.  I'd rather have hung around with a drunken, raging Jackson Pollock, who at least made some connection between the immediacy of his splatters & a Charlie Parker alto solo & insisted he was "in" his paintings as he created them.

Kinkade knew what he was doing, & the knowledge ripped him to pieces.

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"If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be." Thomas Jefferson

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