Arts & Architecture
A feather-shorn crow
Cackle-song from a dead branch
November rain fall
I’ll see you there.
By William Zdan:
The term “Pollice Verso” means (roughly) “thumbs down”. It’s in reference to the (albeit incorrect) traditional depiction of a Roman emperor giving the “thumbs down” signal that dictated the fate of a vulnerable/defeated fighter…usually a slave or other “expendable” that was forced into brutal exhibition.
I’ve toyed with the phrase, changing it to “Police Verso”..in obvious reference to the despicable actions that took place in Fullerton last year. In my painting, Dick Jones plays the part of a distant and ineffectual Caesar. He thumbs the fate of the unseen victim in smug disinterest, not even allowing his glaze to meet the atrocity for which he shares ownership. A panel of piggish spectators oversee the event, in uncontrolled animalistic enthusiasm.
When watching a television report with Dick Jones last year, I was disheartened by the comments he had made about the murder. “I don’t know why he died” was the comment from Jones that affected me the most. Jones made a point to boast about his war-time efforts and how much worse, non-fatal injuries had been experienced there. Jones, we know and YOU know why he died. And it wasn’t just because of the fierce bludgeoning that he received by your endeared law-enforcement brethren. He died, Jones, because of a culture that still treats other human beings as “expendable”. Because people like Kelly are easily marginalized. Homeless people, especially mentally ill homeless people, clearly don’t count to Jones…and he did not create that sentiment, he just reflects it. Just as the slaves and expendables of the Roman Empire could have their humanity stripped of them by a blood-thirsty crowd, eager to do so…so was Kelly Thomas rendered a worthless item by those people we trust to protect the rest of us who do “count”. As I heard Jones speak, I thought (as I often do), “we have not progressed as a society. We are no different than Rome”.
Despite the (much needed) height of the soapbox upon which I like to stand relative to this topic, I cannot dismiss my own contribution to the negative and destructive culture in which I actively participate. So…the pawn/villian in my painting takes the form of my own image. Shamefully turned away from the viewer, I still raise my tool of destruction above my pig-like visage. I still perform for the pigs and am obedient to the tyrants of norms and expectations. I still pass by countless expendables, which whom I ironically share so much commonality.
I spent much of my young adulthood studying and working with the mentally ill. I worked at occupational, psycho-social rehab facilities for schizophrenic people during college. I even interned at a psychiatric prison for 6 months. During that time, I imagined that my idealism and self-congratulatory understanding of those emotionally suffering individuals would allow me to make a difference. Instead, I’ve become homogenized, like the dizzying amount of conscientiousness introverts that allow people like Jones to have any say in the direction of our society. Despite the fact that Kelly walked the same blocks that I walk every week, I had never even seen him…and wouldn’t have remembered if I had. I stretch my own rubber glove over my hand every day…keeping my fellow man at a distance…careful not to touch the blood that I shared in spilling. Because if I (a so-called idealistic artist with fair exposure to the troubles of the mentally ill) can willfully ignore injustice for the sake of convenience, I am just as filthy a pig as Ramos.
So, I am the ultimate executioner and THAT illness is worse than Kelly’s was. I am the baton-waving brute in my painting. I was never so aware of this until I met Kelly’s mom yesterday. I stood next to her as she looked at the painting that I shat out for this important event. I had jumped onto a cause for someone I never met or cared about. Nowhere in the painting is Kelly’s personal injustice really depicted. Rather, in the form that fell Rome, mine is a self-indulgent view. And here was this man’s mother, looking upon my painting about..well, about something to do with being angry and selfish and pointing fingers, I guess. She said to me, “he was really a good kid”. I bet he was.
Friday July 6th @ PÄS Gallery 6:00-11:00 PM Art With An Agenda. Commemorate the first anniversary of Kelly Thomas’ deadly encounter with six members of the Fullerton PD. Double Click here to download the Press Release.
And then the very next day, Saturday July 7th at the Fullerton Museum Plaza, is the 2nd Annual Kelly Thomas Memorial Concert, Clothing and Food Drive featuring one of the best bands to ever come from the OC, The Adolescents.
Two great opportunities to show your support for reform in Fullerton without glossing over what happened last July 5th – the murder of an innocent man.
A noisy, cold wind
Whistles through the jail windows
A lonely monkey
A cold wind blusters
Trash skips and flutters ahead
Storm drains to ocean
A broken-down bus
Wop-wops the crackled asphalt
The mossy trees groan
Crows on a wire caw
New plumage boldly flaunted
An icy, false dawn
Bronze bells peal loudly
A green vine climbs the brick wall
Three monkeys chatter
For those that bought into the anti-recall propaganda that I’m some sort big-time developer, well here you go: I moved a 375 sq.ft. house about 200 feet and restored it!
To read more about my big downtown development project please read the article by The OC Weekly’s Brandon Ferguson, here.
Last December The Fullerton Redevelopment Agency approved yet another extension to Pelican, the hapless developer of the gigantic Amerige Court project downtown. Readers will recall that this project was approved in 2008 over the objections of hundreds of people who saw it for what it was, yet another cheap looking, insipid copy of the retail/loft model that is supposed to revive downtowns.
This time the now unemployed redevelopment staff allowed the developer to plan to rent the housing units at first, even though when it was first approved years ago it was supposed to be all about classing up the area by inviting the landowning gentry to move in and stare down the lawless drunks of Fullerton’s bar culture.
So two months ago, despite several people speaking out against the fourth (!) amendment to the original agreement, and no one speaking in favor of it, the extension was granted. Bruce Whitaker and Sharon Quirk-Silva dissented, having had enough of developer excuses for why they haven’t been able to build anything, but Bankhead, McKinley, and Jones predictably went along with this giveaway of taxpayer owned land in the heart of the city.
Well, that was back before Redevelopment disappeared last week, so now they have to do it all over as the City Council tonight.
Show up to watch developer owned politicians try to give away your land once again, if you let them.
Last week we showed you why the Three Dinosaurs were so willing to perpetuate this disaster of a project.
When you take their money, you have to do their bidding. Besides, if you can give away public land to build a monstrous and unneeded architecturally appalling project that will add more traffic to the area and tear down some really old buildings to do it, why wouldn’t you? Especially when the half of the development partnership that’s still in business gives you $500 to keep you from being recalled?