First look: ‘The Truth Remains 2.0’

Back in 2002, I made this book: ‘The Truth Remains’, for the San Francisco Public Library’s ‘Reversing Vandalism’ project.

That was a one-of-a-kind fiber art piece about silencing marginalized populations, but the text continued to resonate with me years later.

In December of 2017, my own high school went through a school shooting that left two innocent students and the shooter dead.

Then the Parkland shooting happened. #NeverAgain happened, and the MarchForOurLives.

Honestly, I have a tiny bit of hope for our future. I’d worried that a steady diet of YA dystopias might make the Millennial and Aughts generations less-inclined to create a positive future. What they seem to have learned from Potter, Hunger Games, etc. is teamwork, conviction, and really scary-good social media skills.

I’m so proud of them for pushing back, when the best we older liberals could manage was ‘Lean In’, and the Boomers essentially sold their souls to would-be dictators and conmen.

When I made ‘Continental Divide’ in 2004, I had no idea I’d look back on the Cheney/Rove era with some perplexed fondness. They were crooks managing an incompetent president, but they were at least efficient and capable crooks.

I decided to release ‘The Truth Remains’ as a second version in an edition of five fiber art books. They’ll be 7″x50″, with ten accordion-fold pages on each side, and double-sided. That gives me 20 pages plus fabric covers…a lot of room to cover! Think of embroidering a 70″x50″ quilt, and that’s about the amount of work I’ll be putting on on these books.

Over the next few weeks I’ll be showing progress pictures. The books will blend digitally altered and sketched maps of US mass shooting locations, my embroidered text, patriotic commercial fabric appliques and printed fabric, and metal embellishments (pewter assault rifle charm pendants are available online). It’s about gun control policies, the racist reaction to the Obama presidency, and  the culture wars simmering in the United States.

Plus I get to snark at the NRA, its overtly political mandate, its ties to US white supremacy and Christian theocratic movements, and its disturbing links with the same groups in Europe and Russia.


Memorial Day 2017

Here is an American flag.

I shot it a couple of weeks ago, looking west in Central Phoenix, outside a modest strip mall with a bakery, a pizza joint, a taco shop, a Buy Your Gold store, a cell-phone store, a nail-art salon, and some other little businesses.

That’s as representative a slice of modern, ‘real’ America as you can possibly get. I can’t review the nail salon, the gold place, or the cell-phone store (haven’t been inside), but the restaurants are all excellent. I was there with friends, after we’d seen ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ nearby.

The flag was enormous, blowing in just enough wind to make it ripple like a Reagan-Era political ad.

My friends and I ate too much food, and discussed the movie, lies told by tyrants, what a Stepford job they did on poor Mantis, and how to recognize when one is within an impending political disaster.

The general consensus is that by the time enough people realize it, it’s probably too late, but you need to resist, subvert, and fight on general principles.

On this Memorial Day weekend, in between beer and picnics, church and parties, please consider this flag. Its genesis, everything it has withstood, the triumphs and tragedies it has flown over, the honor and duty of the people who have defended what it stands for.

WHAT IT REPRESENTS. Good and bad. Not just to Americans, but to people all over the world. To some folks, it’s still a beacon of a better life. To others, the mark of a hated empire or a rival power to be humiliated and sullied.

By itself, it’s merely pieces of sewn or printed fabric, likely to be made overseas. Don’t worship this thing. It’s a cipher, an illusion, a moving goalpost, and an easy target for those who hate it or misuse it.

I’m old enough to remember the rather sweet and optimistic American flags painted everywhere in 1976. This truck reminds me of that:

These days, when you see an American literally wrapping themselves in this flag, it’s often as cover and misdirection for un-American, even inhumane and evil reasons. Here are some more flags and trucks, but this time, they come across as creepy and dangerous, from the Tea Party references and truck flags (and even from the trucks themselves).

Or this guy, Jeremy Joseph Christian, filmed in April while at a free speech event. This flag-draped, Nazi-saluting loser just cut the throats of two good Samaritans on a Portland, OR train, after they tried to keep him from attacking two young (possibly Muslim) women.

This is on the Republican Party for its years of normalizing, enabling, and inciting the darkest, most psychotic dregs of American culture…you know, the Deplorables. The people Obama warned us about back in 2008, and took endless flack for it:

“And it’s not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy toward people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.”

These days, the Republican Party and its allies would hail Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh as their hero. It’s been hours since the Portland attack, and no condemnation from the White House. Hmm. That sounds like tacit approval of domestic terrorism. What will Trump say or do, the next time a white supremacist bomber strikes on American soil and kills American citizens? ‘You’re hired’?

Instead, we have Donald J. Trump setting up a War Room in the White House, with pricey lawyers to help him fight against the growing allegations of his and the GOP’s collusion with Russia. This war room is going to be funded and directed to go after journalists, researchers, and ordinary citizens of the #Resistance movement. Trump has already shown by his love affair with dictators that he wants to be one.

Trump’s recent actions on his Mideast trip and the NATO summit would be embarrassing taken singly; as a group they reveal a sick, tired, old man unprepared for the most powerful leadership position on the planet. His gaffes at the NATO summit, in particular, have shown other world leaders that America has lost that position of power. As pundits and world politicians have noted, America is in serious danger of being isolated and inconsequential…if not feared and targeted by former allies.

And the once-proud GOP is standing by or actively helping Trump and his supporters subvert what our flag means.

All flags wear out. There are entire sections of law books listing the solemn and respectful decommissioning of American flags.

There are no such rules regarding the dissolution of America. Or arguably worse: its steady ebb into ignominy as a racist, isolated parody of itself, as the rest of the world meets challenges too many American policy makers won’t.

Happy Memorial Day, America.

Gay Clown Putin

Because it’s now illegal to show this image in Russia, I thought I’d feature it here.

Added 8/22-2017: Actually, I’m debating about taking it down. On the one hand it will certainly infuriate Putin loyalists and Putin worshippers among the US Republican Party (because Putin’s predominately white
Russian ethnostate is their Disneyland.)

On the other hand, it’s disrespectful of the gay and trans folk I know, who certainly don’t deserve to have their more glorious aspects associated with someone as loathsome as the Master of Lubyanka.

That he’s a clown, I’ll give you (Clowns scare me more than drag queens.)