By Paul Krugman
NY Times February 19, 2017
The story so far: A foreign dictator intervened on behalf of a U.S. presidential candidate — and that candidate won. Close associates of the new president were in contact with the dictator’s espionage officials during the campaign, and his national security adviser was forced out over improper calls to that country’s ambassador — but not until the press reported it; the president learned about his actions weeks earlier, but took no action.
Meanwhile, the president seems oddly solicitous of the dictator’s interests, and rumors swirl about his personal financial connections to the country in question. Is there anything to those rumors? Nobody knows, in part because the president refuses to release his tax returns.
Maybe there’s nothing wrong here, and it’s all perfectly innocent. But if it’s not innocent, it’s very bad indeed. So what do Republicans in Congress, who have the power to investigate the situation, believe should be done?
Paul Ryan, the speaker of the House, says that Michael Flynn’s conversations with the Russian ambassador were “entirely appropriate.”
Devin Nunes, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, angrily dismissed calls for a select committee to investigate contacts during the campaign: “There is absolutely not going to be one.”
Jason Chaffetz, the chairman of the House oversight committee — who hounded Hillary Clinton endlessly over Benghazi — declared that the “situation has taken care of itself.”
Just the other day Republicans were hot in pursuit of potential scandal, and posed as ultrapatriots. Now they’re indifferent to actual subversion and the real possibility that we are being governed by people who take their cues from Moscow. Why?
Well, Senator Rand Paul explained it all: “We’ll never even get started with doing the things we need to do, like repealing Obamacare, if we’re spending our whole time having Republicans investigate Republicans.” Does anyone doubt that he was speaking for his whole party?
The point is that you can’t understand the mess we’re in without appreciating not just the potential corruption of the president, but the unmistakable corruption of his party — a party so intent on cutting taxes for the wealthy, deregulating banks and polluters and dismantling social programs that accepting foreign subversion is, apparently, a small price to pay.
Put it this way: I’ve been seeing comparisons between the emerging information on the Trump-Putin connection and the Watergate affair, which brought down a previous president. But while the potential scandal here is far worse than Watergate — Richard Nixon was sinister and scary, but nobody imagined that he might be taking instructions from a foreign power — it’s very hard to imagine today’s Republicans standing up for the Constitution the way their predecessors did.
It’s not simply that these days there are more moral midgets in Congress, although that, too. Watergate took place before Republicans began their long march to the political right, so Congress was far less polarized than it is now. There was widespread agreement between the parties on basic economic ideas, and a fair amount of ideological crossover; this meant that Republicans didn’t worry so much that holding a lawless president accountable would derail their hard-line agenda.
The polarization of the electorate also undermines Congress’s role as a check on the president: Most Republicans are in safe districts, where their main fear is of primary challengers to their right. And the Republican base has suddenly become remarkably pro-Russian. Funny how that works.
So how does this crisis end?
It’s not a constitutional crisis — yet. But Donald Trump is facing a clear crisis of legitimacy. His popular-vote-losing win was already suspect given the F.B.I.’s last-minute intervention on his behalf. Now we know that even as the F.B.I. was creating the false appearance of scandal around his opponent, it was sitting on evidence suggesting alarmingly close relations between Mr. Trump’s campaign and Russia. And nothing he has done since the inauguration allays fears that he is in effect a Putin puppet.
How can a leader under such a cloud send American soldiers to die? How can he be granted the right to shape the Supreme Court for a generation?
Again, a thorough, nonpartisan, unrestricted investigation could conceivably clear the air. But Republicans in Congress, who have the power to make such an investigation happen, are dead set against it.
The thing is, this nightmare could be ended by a handful of Republican legislators willing to make common cause with Democrats to demand the truth. And maybe there are enough people of conscience left in the G.O.P.
But there probably aren’t. And that’s a problem that’s even scarier than the Trump-Putin axis.February 17th, 2017
February 17 through March 26February 8th, 2017
By Peter Schjeldahl
The New Yorker: Feb 13, 2017
The enigmatic, fantastically erudite artist Raymond Pettibon takes to Twitter like a bird to sky. My favorite of some fifty tweets that he posted on a recent day offers a reason that Donald Trump can’t be the Antichrist: “Not charming, goodlooking, endearing enuff.” In his art, Pettibon only sometimes addresses topical politics, or topical anything, but he knows his archetypes, and it’s nice to have eschatological expertise on current events. How seriously to take it is an uncertainty that haunts all of Pettibon’s art, which is surveyed in “A Pen of All Work,” a retrospective at the New Museum of some seven hundred creations, mostly drawings with text. He has intrigued and befuddled a growing audience since the late nineteen-seventies, when he emerged, in Hermosa Beach, California, as a bookish surfer who made flyers and album covers for the punk band Black Flag (his older brother Greg Ginn was the founder and guitarist) and a flurry of zines. His fame took hold slowly, and it remains confined largely to fine-art circles. Seeing the show is like being lost in a foreign but strangely familiar city, where polyphonic disembodied voices whisper, yell, or sputter wit and wisdom that you’re rarely sure that you heard quite right.
The title, “A Pen of All Work,” is from Byron’s “The Vision of Judgement,” in which the mediocre poet Robert Southey proposes to ghostwrite a memoir for Satan and, upon being rebuffed, extends the same offer to the archangel Michael. This befits Pettibon, who says that roughly a third of his texts are lifted, or rephrased, from cherished writers: a pantheon in which St. Augustine consorts with Henry James and Mickey Spillane. But every Pettibon phrasing sounds like a quotation from someone else, often in the formal, slightly stilted tones of a Victorian wordsmith.
Take the inscription on an inky drawing, from 1992, of a shut eye with long lashes: “Where the record is one of emotions and sentiments, delicately traced and disentangled, one blush may do more than enough to expose the immediate view.” That sounds true, but what is the question that it answers? An inscription on a 2015 image of the formidable St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Bob Gibson, in mid-delivery, reads, “The fruit of the foreign tree is shaken down there with a force that smothers everything else.” Pettibon loves baseball, with a mystic’s intensity; surfing, too. In a favorite motif, a tiny surfer rides a monstrous wave, as philosophical thoughts attend: “The sand and water to which we are reducible are as a rock to me” or “Don’t complicate the moral world.” Pettibon’s way with words, somewhat like the poetry of John Ashbery, instills a conviction of cogency untethered to understanding.
The images that Pettibon draws are also either borrowed or look like they are. Comic-book characters have been a frequent source: Batman, Gumby, and the little guy from the old “Felix the Cat” television cartoon series, whose face is all gaping mouth and whose vocabulary consists of the single locution “Vavoom!” Another recurring persona is Jesus, who, in a 1990 drawing, appears on the Cross, musing, “I am after eight years’ hammering against impenetrable adamant, become suddenly somewhat of a success.” Pettibon’s graphic style is no style, a clunky mélange of cartooning and illustrational modes that lack honed skill and nuanced feeling. It works extremely well, appearing gauche only until you accept its service to blunt statement: manner at one with matter. Though never employing caricature, the work’s effect updates a tradition of pointed grotesquerie that has roots in Hogarth, Goya, and Daumier and branches in the modern editorial cartoon: aesthetic pleasure checked by the absurdity or the horror—the scandal—of the subject at hand.
Pettibon’s approach is also reminiscent of the directness of children’s art, a quality emphasized in the show by drawings that he made as a kid but only recently inscribed. (A wild battle scene, which he drew as a preteen, now bears the confession “As a boy I passed my life in day-dreams of military glory. There will be a war for you, my Father said, when you grow up.”) Curators and critics often group Pettibon with Mike Kelley and Jim Shaw, California-based contemporaries who display similar veins of punk-seasoned satire and poisoned narcissism. But he differs from them in the ruminative and sensitive qualities of his work, which suggest at once the sagacity of an old mind and the vulnerability of a young heart.
Pettibon was born in 1957, the fourth of five children. His father, who taught English at a junior college in Los Angeles and published the occasional spy novel, nicknamed his son “Petit Bon,” which the artist adopted as his surname at the age of twenty-one. His mother was a housewife. He earned a degree in economics from U.C.L.A., in 1977, and briefly taught math at a junior high school. He then plunged into artmaking, living in his parents’ basement, in slacker fashion, but he was compulsively productive. When I spoke with him recently, he said that his mother had been more or less his only admirer at the time, when his first zine, “Captive Chains” (1978), a racy noir narrative now highly prized by collectors, sold just a few copies.
Pettibon is a big, doughy, shambling guy, who, when he’s with you, can seem also to be somewhere else, but he’s cordial. In 2011, he moved to Manhattan with his wife, the video artist Aida Ruilova. They now live near the Brooklyn Bridge, with their five-year-old son. Pettibon’s parents were Christian Scientists, though the faith didn’t do much to form him, he said, except for its ubiquitous reading rooms, which “helped with my relationship to reading.” He has made his way “many times” through the Bible and—I believe I gasped when he said it—“Finnegan’s Wake.” He absorbed aesthetic theory from Edmund Burke, prosodic elevation from John Ruskin, and social description from John Dos Passos. But Pettibon responds to instances of rhetorical glamour in any sort of writing that strikes his ear with the “raggedy-assed edges of the sublime.
I have had spells of swearing off Pettibon, owing to the exhausting onslaught of things to see and read, from a sum of works that the New Museum show’s co-curator, Massimiliano Gioni, estimates to number around twenty thousand. Pettibon sympathizes. He said to me of his drawings, “Even to look at them can be an ordeal, like reading Milton at a sitting.” Each one demands absorption. After fully contemplating a few, you inevitably numb out. But there’s no help for an art that, as fast and as loose as it appears at first glance, distills long periods of conception and reflection. Pettibon told me that images can await the right words for years, and vice versa.
The new show, on three floors of the museum, eases a viewer’s toil by grouping works according to theme—sports, religion, sex, politics, nuclear apocalypse—though items that fit no genre are necessarily scattered throughout. There are videos made with friends, for which Pettibon wrote the screenplays. In one, “Judgement Day Theatre: The Book of Manson” (1989), a band’s guitarist drops dead, but his guitar keeps playing until the plug is pulled on it. A survivor remarks, “Guess we’re a power trio now, huh?” The script is a jumble of profane, stoned rants and the occasional Old Testament prophecy. Amateur actors deliver it woodenly, reading from cue cards. Stupid? And how. With his videos, Pettibon positively luxuriates in brainlessness—as he does on Twitter, in raunchy bursts of uncorked id. He thereby usefully disperses impulses that his pictorial work disciplines.
Charles Manson, the Symbionese Liberation Army, and the Weathermen preoccupied Pettibon early on, as aspects of the ruined hippiedom and misfired far-left militancy that punk scorned. But a signature tone of quizzical detachment marks even his most violent imaginings. In a drawing from 1986, a naked Manson girl, with the group’s signal “X” on her forehead and brandishing a switchblade, comes with a sociological gloss, likely imported from somewhere: “Kansas prepares them for it perfectly.” In another drawing, a pot-smoking cool dude gravely testifies, “I’ve never heard so many nuances in Donovan.” Pettibon didn’t express the era so much as seem to struggle through it toward air more breathable, with humor that was a recourse from discomfort.
Far left himself, to the extent that he is political, Pettibon subjected Ronald and Nancy Reagan to some obscene mockery in the nineteen-eighties. In a drawing from 1986, he hit on another public figure, viewed from behind against a moonlit city skyline; the work is inscribed, at the top, “A certain Donald Trump” and, below, “The first real gentleman I’d met in years.” But his pitch deepened in reaction to the Iraq War. True rage informs a burlesque, from 2007, of the iconic Second World War photograph of marines raising a flag on Iwo Jima. In Pettibon’s version, the men are naked but for peaked hoods. The inscription reads, “For once Cheney bows to multiculturalism etiquette, adds representatives from Al Qaeda, Iran to flag taking-down monument.” Elsewhere, a group of naked American torturers with erections, surrounding a hooded victim, is laconically lamented: “They brought their game with them, and what they didn’t learn back in the States in their black box of growing up, they learnt as they went along.” The blandness of the language intensifies the awfulness of the scene—a device that recalls Goya’s dry captions on his “Disasters of War” series. It’s not a note that you can hit by wanting to. Pain must administer it.
It’s odd that work so teeming with aspects of contemporary popular culture should stir associations to remote art history, but the contrast points up Pettibon’s singularity. I think, too, of medieval paintings that garland the actions of saints with scrolled scriptural passages, bracketing meanings, between image and word, for a community of the faithful. Pettibon’s coarsely robust picturing and suavely refined prose do the same, but for initiates who are more strictly fanciful. The fiction of an audience that knows what he’s about may be his chief invention. ♦February 8th, 2017
By MATT FLEGENHEIMER
NY Times: FEBRUARY 7, 2017
WASHINGTON — Republican senators voted on Tuesday to formally silence a Democratic colleague for impugning a peer, Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama, by condemning his nomination for attorney general while reading a letter from Coretta Scott King.
Senator Elizabeth Warren, Democrat of Massachusetts, had been holding forth on the Senate floor on the eve of Mr. Sessions’s expected confirmation vote, reciting a 1986 letter from Mrs. King that criticized Mr. Sessions’s record on civil rights.
Sensing a stirring beside her a short while later, Ms. Warren stopped herself and scanned the chamber.
Across the room, Senator Mitch McConnell, the majority leader, had stepped forward with an objection, setting off an extraordinary confrontation in the Capitol and silencing a colleague, procedurally, in the throes of a contentious debate over President Trump’s cabinet nominee.
“The senator has impugned the motives and conduct of our colleague from Alabama, as warned by the chair,” Mr. McConnell began, alluding to Mrs. King’s letter, which accused Mr. Sessions of using “the awesome powers of his office in a shabby attempt to intimidate and frighten elderly black voters.”
Mr. McConnell called the Senate to order under what is known as Rule XIX, which prohibits debating senators from ascribing “to another senator or to other senators any conduct or motive unworthy or unbecoming a senator.”
When Mr. McConnell concluded, Ms. Warren said she was “surprised that the words of Coretta Scott King are not suitable for debate in the United States Senate.” She asked to continue her remarks.
Mr. McConnell objected.
“Objection is heard,” said Senator Steve Daines, Republican of Montana, who was presiding in the chamber at the time. “The senator will take her seat.”
The debate appeared to center, in part, on whether the rule allowed exemptions for quoted remarks — Ms. Warren had been reading directly from the letter from Mrs. King, the widow of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. — to demean a sitting senator.
In a party-line vote, 49 to 43, senators upheld Mr. Daines’s decision, forcing Ms. Warren into silence, at least on the Senate floor, until the showdown over Mr. Sessions’s nomination is complete. He is expected to be confirmed on Wednesday.
Immediately, Democrats took up Ms. Warren’s cause, urging on social media for Republicans to “#LetLizSpeak.” Ms. Warren said on Twitter that Mr. McConnell had “silenced Mrs. King’s voice” on the Senate floor, to say nothing of “millions who are afraid & appalled by what’s happening in our country.” Within hours of being shut down on the Senate floor, Ms. Warren read the letter from Mrs. King on Facebook, attracting more than two million views — an audience she would have been unlikely to match on C-Span, if she had been permitted to continue speaking in the chamber.
Democrats argued that Mr. McConnell was enforcing the rule selectively, citing examples of Republicans appearing to test the boundaries of Rule XIX. In one instance from 2015, Senator Ted Cruz of Texas accused Mr. McConnell of lying “over and over and over again.” In another, last year, Senator Tom Cotton of Arkansas described the “cancerous leadership” of Senator Harry Reid, the former Democratic leader.
Republicans accused Ms. Warren of violating the rule repeatedly, saying she had been warned before Mr. McConnell’s objection. Senator John Cornyn, Republican of Texas, suggested that Ms. Warren had been rebuked over “a quotation from Senator Ted Kennedy that called the nominee a disgrace to the Justice Department.”
“Our colleagues want to try to make this all about Coretta Scott King, and it is not,” he said.
But when Senator Chuck Schumer, the Democratic leader, sought clarification, he was informed that while a warning was issued over the letter from Mr. Kennedy, the ruling itself hinged on Mrs. King’s letter. That judgment came from Senator Mike Rounds, Republican of South Dakota, who had taken over as the presiding officer.
In either event, Republicans suggested, the episode spoke to Democrats’ inability to accept the results of the 2016 election — and, more narrowly, to adhere to the rules of a body where decorum has often fallen away.
“She was warned,” Mr. McConnell said of Ms. Warren. “She was given an explanation. Nevertheless, she persisted.”
Democrats planned to hold the floor into the wee hours of Wednesday to protest Mr. Sessions’s nominationFebruary 8th, 2017
Felix Plate, 2016
ceramic and glaze
4 1/2 X 4 1/2 inches
January 20, 2017 – February 23, 2017January 22nd, 2017
By Paul Krugman
NY Times Published : JAN. 20, 2017
Betsy DeVos, whom Donald Trump has nominated as education secretary, doesn’t know basic education terms, doesn’t know about federal statutes governing special education, but thinks school officials should carry guns to defend against grizzly bears.
Monica Crowley, selected as deputy national security adviser, withdrew after it was revealed that much of her past writing was plagiarized. Many other national security positions remain unfilled, and it’s unclear how much if any of the briefing materials prepared by the outgoing administration have even been read.
Meanwhile Rex Tillerson, selected as secretary of state, casually declared that America would block Chinese access to bases in the South China Sea, apparently unaware that he was in effect threatening to go to war if China called his bluff.
Do you see a pattern here?
It was obvious to anyone paying attention that the incoming administration would be blatantly corrupt. But would it at least be efficient in its corruption?
Many Trump voters certainly thought they were choosing a smart businessman who would get things done. And even those who knew better may have hoped that the president-elect, his ego finally sated, would settle down to running the country — or at least delegate the boring business of governing America to people actually capable of doing the job.
But it’s not happening. Mr. Trump hasn’t pivoted, matured, whatever term you prefer. He’s still the insecure, short-attention-span egomaniac he always was. Worse, he is surrounding himself with people who share many of his flaws — perhaps because they’re the sort of people with whom he is comfortable.
So the typical Trump nominee, in everything from economics to diplomacy to national security, is ethically challenged, ignorant about the area of policy he or she is supposed to manage and deeply incurious. Some, like Michael Flynn, Mr. Trump’s choice as national security adviser, are even as addicted as their boss to internet conspiracy theories. This isn’t a team that will compensate for the commander in chief’s weaknesses; on the contrary, it’s a team that will amplify them.
Why does this matter? If you want a model for how the Trump-Putin administration is likely to function (or malfunction), it’s helpful to recall what happened during the Bush-Cheney years.
People tend to forget the extent to which the last Republican administration was also characterized by cronyism, the appointment of unqualified but well-connected people to key positions. It wasn’t as extreme as what we’re seeing now, but it was striking at the time. Remember “Brownie, you’re doing a heck of a job”? And it caused very real damage.
In particular, if you want some notion of what Trump governance is likely to look like, consider the botched occupation of Iraq. People who knew anything about nation-building weren’t wanted; party loyalists — and corporate profiteers — took their place. There’s even a little-known connection: Betsy DeVos’s brother, Erik Prince, founded Blackwater, the mercenary outfit that, among other things, helped destabilize Iraq by firing into a crowd of civilians.
Now the conditions that prevailed in Iraq — blind ideology, contempt for expertise, effective absence of any enforcement of ethics rules — have come to America, but in a far more acute form.
And what will happen when we face a crisis? Remember, Katrina was the event that finally revealed the costs of Bush-era cronyism to all.
Crises of some kind are bound to occur on any president’s watch. They appear especially likely given the crew that’s coming in and their allies in Congress: Given the stated priorities of the people about to take charge, we could very well see collapsing health care, a trade war and a military standoff with China just in the next year.
But even if we somehow skirt those dangers, stuff always happens. Maybe there will be a new economic crisis, helped along by the rush to undo financial regulation. Maybe there will be a foreign affairs crisis, say over adventurism in the Baltics by Mr. Trump’s good friend Vladimir. Maybe it will be something we’re not thinking about. Then what?
Real crises need real solutions. They can’t be resolved with a killer tweet, or by having your friends in the F.B.I. or the Kremlin feed the media stories that take your problems off the front page. What the situation demands are knowledgeable, levelheaded people in positions of authority.
But as far as we know, almost no people meeting that description will be in the new administration, except possibly the nominee for defense secretary — whose nickname just happens to be “Mad Dog.”
So there you have it: an administration unprecedented in its corruption, but also completely unprepared to govern. It’s going to be terrific, let me tell you.January 20th, 2017
Opens Saturday January 21, 2017. 3-5 PMJanuary 14th, 2017
By JILL FILIPOVIC
NY Times: JANUARY 13, 2017
The high-achieving elder daughter of President-elect Donald J. Trump is, on the surface, a glowing picture of modern American womanhood: a mother of three young children who built a business that bears her name. A glamorous figure whom it would be easy to picture balancing a baby in one hand and a briefcase in the other, all in her own branded high heels.
She has it all — including the ear of her future president father and a husband, Jared Kushner, who will serve as a senior adviser in the Trump administration.
But while Ms. Trump has found both professional and personal success by enjoying many of the benefits of feminism, she is far from an avatar of a feminist future. Instead, she’s a kind of post-feminist huckster, selling us traditional femininity and support of male power wrapped up in a feminist bow.
Indeed, in an attempt to smooth out the anti-nepotism concerns of her husband’s appointment, Ms. Trump will no longer run her own brand or serve as an executive with the Trump organization and is moving with her family to Washington — even as her brothers will continue to run the family company. Her plan, she said, is to “take time to settle our three young children into their new home and schools.”
The Trump-Kushners will arrive in Washington as one of the town’s most powerful power couples. While many think Ms. Trump will eventually take on a quasi first lady role — and while having either Ms. Trump or her husband working for Mr. Trump poses serious ethical and legal issues — it is important to note that Mr. Trump chose the male half of the Trump-Kushner pair to serve in the West Wing, presumably with the blessing of his daughter.
The particulars of this arrangement are unusual, but the norms underlying it are not. Even in the cosmopolitan centers where “power couples” exist aplenty, the male partner is often the more powerful one, and finds his success precisely because of his wife’s combination of feminist-facilitated achievement and traditional feminine support.
Unlike in past generations when educated women had a harder time finding partners, today, college-educated women like Ms. Trump are more likely than their working-class counterparts to wed, and also like Ms. Trump, usually delay childbirth until after the wedding. With the fewer financial stressors that come with dual incomes or a single extremely high one these educated couples divorce less often than those with fewer financial resources, despite other findings that both groups have comparable dedication to the marital ideal.
That educated women fare better romantically and occupationally than they used to is in many ways a feminist victory, if only for women at the top of the heap. And Ms. Trump has used the carefully cultivated image of her own career and family to sell both her brand and her father’s political ambitions. Her Instagram feed is full of images with motivational captions about the importance of stay-at-home motherhood or maternal multitasking, often with the hashtag #WomenWhoWork. “I have a few very important roles, but being a mother will always be my favorite,” she posted with a family photo.
This mastery of balancing ambition with likability is no easy task. Women usually have to trade one for the other. Yet tabloids describe Ms. Trump as both a “doting mom” and a “successful businesswoman.” Her father credits her with pushing him toward a paid maternity leave policy.
She’s also a woman who sells this image strategically. The white working-class Americans to whom Ms. Trump’s father directed many of his appeals hew more closely to traditional views of marital obligations and gender norms than those who are college educated, even as most working-class mothers are employed outside the home and are more likely to be raising children on their own.
Ms. Trump’s clear ambition remains unobjectionable in part because she seems to require nothing of men. She affirms her status as a wife and a mother first and a businesswoman second. While she speaks to the challenges of combining work and family, she makes no demands that her husband “lean in” at home — maybe Mr. Kushner does do the dishes, but they aren’t Instagramming it.
Her push for paid parental leave is certainly laudable and especially out of the box for the Republican Party, but the policy she urged her father to propose wasn’t really about parents — it offered maternity leave only, emphasizing that the task of raising children remains the domain of women (even “women who work”). And her soft-focus feminism is put to use covering for her father’s boorishness: Mr. Trump has repeatedly boasted of his refusal to do any child care whatsoever for his five children, but his daughter nevertheless deems him “a feminist.”
For some people — perhaps people who voted for her father — there is a post-feminist salve in the neotraditional marriage model Ms. Trump promotes. It’s a palatable way to mesh old sexist ideas about women as nurturers and helpers with the realities of modern American life. Ms. Trump embodies a feminine ideal, even while she lives a more feminist reality.
For working and middle-class women, though, the space where that ideal rubs up against reality is more likely to produce friction than anything else. Many Americans remain psychologically stuck between some vision of the 1950s white suburban family and the revolutionary, and still unfulfilled, promise of gender equality. While a majority of Americans agree that women should not return to traditional 1950s roles, that calculus changes when women have kids — a majority also believes that mothers should stay home with young children.
This is an especially precarious set of expectations for families who, unlike the Trump-Kushners, live in constrained financial circumstances. For heterosexual couples of all income levels, having children often leads to discord precisely because mothers and fathers tend to slide into more traditional roles — leaving women to tend to the trivial details of adult life, like changing diapers, picking up the dry cleaning or, in Ms. Trump’s case, setting up a new house and getting the kids acclimated to a new school.
Women expecting egalitarianism at home often feel hoodwinked by this new subtly sexist arrangement. Women expecting traditionalism find they’re stretched too thin by a belief that they should be the primary parent and an economic reality that demands their employment.
Ms. Trump has written a book called “Women Who Work,” so must presumably think she has advice to offer other women. But trying to emulate the Ivanka model without her financial means is a precarious path. Women who maintain demanding careers and also believe they are chiefly responsible for managing the domestic front are much more stressed out than women whose partners share in both work and family duties, according to social science research. For white working-class families, where women often work out of necessity and who also believe in the importance of divergent responsibilities for men and women, that dissonance sows significant marital conflict.
Least feminist of all: The “women who work” discourse adopted by Ms. Trump frames this all as a woman’s choice, rather than the predictable and deliberate outcome when feminist gains are warped by conservative public policy.January 14th, 2017
Thanks to Dewey NelsonJanuary 14th, 2017
A True Tale, 2016 Thread on canvas 50 x 43 in / 127 x 109.2 cm
Opens January 12, 2017
BORTOLAMI 520 West 20 Street New York, NYJanuary 12th, 2017
January 7 – February 5, 2017January 6th, 2017
Through February 25, 2017January 5th, 2017
Tyrus Wong was one of the most celebrated Chinese-American artists of the 20th century, but he passed much of his career unknown to the general public.
SARA JANE BOYERS
By MARGALIT FOX
NY Times: DECEMBER 30, 2016
When Walt Disney’s “Bambi” opened in 1942, critics praised its spare, haunting visual style, vastly different from anything Disney had done before.
But what they did not know was that the film’s striking appearance had been created by a Chinese immigrant artist, who took as his inspiration the landscape paintings of the Song dynasty. The extent of his contribution to “Bambi,” which remains a high-water mark for film animation, would not be widely known for decades.
Like the film’s title character, the artist, Tyrus Wong, weathered irrevocable separation from his mother — and, in the hope of making a life in America, incarceration, isolation and rigorous interrogation — all when he was still a child.
In the years that followed, he endured poverty, discrimination and chronic lack of recognition, not only for his work at Disney but also for his fine art, before finding acclaim in his 90s.
Mr. Wong died on Friday at 106. A Hollywood studio artist, painter, printmaker, calligrapher, greeting-card illustrator and, in later years, maker of fantastical kites, he was one of the most celebrated Chinese-American artists of the 20th century.
But because of the marginalization to which Asian-Americans were long subject, he passed much of his career unknown to the general public.
Artistic recognition, when Mr. Wong did find it, was all the more noteworthy for the fact that among Chinese immigrant men of his generation, professional prospects were largely limited to menial jobs like houseboy and laundryman.
Mr. Wong spent two years painting the illustrations that would inform every aspect of “Bambi.” His influence is unmistakable in the finished film.
WALT DISNEY PRODUCTIONS
Trained as a painter, Mr. Wong was a leading figure in the Modernist movement that flourished in California between the first and second World Wars. In 1932 and again in 1934, his work was included in group shows at the Art Institute of Chicago that also featured Picasso, Matisse and Paul Klee.
As a staff artist for Hollywood studios from the 1930s to the 1960s, he drew storyboards and made vibrant paintings, as detailed as any architectural illustrations, that helped the director envision each scene before it was shot.
Over the years his work informed the look of animated pictures for Disney and live-action films for Warner Brothers and other studios, among them “The Sands of Iwo Jima” (1949), “Rebel Without a Cause” (1955) and “The Wild Bunch” (1969).
But of the dozens of films on which he worked, it was for “Bambi” that Mr. Wong was — belatedly — most renowned.
“He was truly involved with every phase of production,” John Canemaker, an Oscar-winning animator and a historian of animation at New York University, said in an interview for this obituary in March. “He created an art direction that had really never been seen before in animation.”
In 2013 and 2014, Mr. Wong was the subject of “Water to Paper, Paint to Sky,” a major retrospective at the Disney Family Museum in San Francisco.
From the museum’s windows, which overlook San Francisco Bay, he could contemplate Angel Island, where more than nine decades earlier, as a lone 10-year-old, he had sought to gain admission to a country that adamantly did not want him.
Wong Gen Yeo (the name is sometimes Romanized Wong Gaing Yoo) was born on Oct. 25, 1910, in a farming village in Guangdong Province. As a young child, he already exhibited a love of drawing and was encouraged by his father.
In 1920, seeking better economic prospects, Gen Yeo and his father embarked for the United States, leaving his mother and sister behind. Gen Yeo would never see his mother again.
They were obliged to travel under false identities — a state of affairs known among Chinese immigrants as being a “paper son” — in the hope of circumventing the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882.
Signed into law by President Chester A. Arthur, the act, which drastically curtailed the number of Chinese people allowed to enter the country, was among the earliest United States laws to impose severe restrictions on immigration.
But in 1906, an unforeseen loophole opened in the form of the San Francisco earthquake and fire. Because a huge number of municipal documents, including birth and immigration records, were destroyed, many newly arrived Chinese capitalized on the loss, maintaining that they had been born in San Francisco before the fire.
As United States citizens, they were entitled to bring over their relatives — or, in the case of Gen Yeo and his father, “paper sons” posing as relatives.
Attuned to the deception, United States immigration officials put Chinese arrivals through a formidable inquisition to ensure they were who they claimed to be.
The questions came like gunfire: In which direction does your village face? How many windows are in your house? Where in the house is the rice bin? How wide is your well? How deep? Are there trees in your village? Are there lakes? What shops can you name?
The sponsoring relative was interrogated separately, and the answers had to match. For the new arrival, a major mistake, or a series of smaller ones, could mean deportation.
To stand a chance of passing, aspirants memorized rigorous dossiers known as coaching papers. The ensuing interrogation was hard enough for adults. Ten-year-old Gen Yeo would undergo it alone.
On Dec. 30, 1920, after a month at sea, the Wongs landed at Angel Island Immigration Station. The elder Mr. Wong was traveling as a merchant named Look Get; his son as Look Tai Yow.
“Angel Island is considered to be the Ellis Island of the West Coast,” Lisa See, the author of “On Gold Mountain” (1995), a nonfiction chronicle of her Chinese-American family, said in an interview in 2016. However, she continued: “The goal was really very different than Ellis Island, which was supposed to be so welcoming. Angel Island opened very specifically to keep the Chinese out.”
Because Mr. Wong’s father had previously lived in the United States as Look Get, he was able to clear Immigration quickly. But as a new arrival, Gen Yeo was detained on the island for nearly a month, the only child among the immigrants being held there.
“I was scared half to death; I just cried,” Mr. Wong recalled in “Tyrus,” an award-winning documentary directed by Pamela Tom, which premiered in 2015. “Every day is just miserable — miserable. I hated that place.”
On Jan. 27, 1921, in the presence of an interpreter and a stenographer, young Gen Yeo, posing as Look Tai Yow, was interrogated by three inspectors. His father had already been questioned.
Gen Yeo was well prepared and answered without error. In Sacramento, where he joined his father, a schoolteacher Americanized “Tai Yow” to “Tyrus,” and he was known as Tyrus Wong ever after.
Soon afterward, father and son were separated once more, when the elder Mr. Wong moved to Los Angeles to seek work. For reasons that have been lost to time, he could not take his son. Tyrus lived on his own in a Sacramento boardinghouse while attending elementary school.
Two years later — possibly more — Tyrus traveled to Los Angeles to join his father, who had found work in a gambling den. They lived in a vermin-infested boardinghouse sandwiched between a butcher shop and a brothel. After school, Tyrus worked as a houseboy for two Pasadena families, earning 50 cents a day.
His first art teacher was his father, who trained him nightly in calligraphy by having him dip a brush in water and trace ghostly characters on newspaper: They could not afford ink or drawing paper.
When Tyrus was in junior high, a teacher, noting his drawing talent, arranged a summer scholarship to the Otis Art Institute in Los Angeles.
By his own account an indifferent student in public school, Tyrus found his calling at the institute, now the Otis College of Art and Design. When his scholarship ended he declined to return to junior high.
His father scraped together the $90 tuition — a small fortune — to let him stay on as Otis’s youngest student.
He studied there for at least five years, simultaneously working as the school janitor, before graduating in the 1930s. Not long afterward his father died, leaving young Mr. Wong entirely on his own.
From 1936 to 1938, Mr. Wong was an artist for the Works Progress Administration, creating paintings for libraries and other public spaces.
With friends, including the Japanese-American artist Benji Okubo, he founded the Oriental Artists’ Group of Los Angeles, which organized exhibitions of members’ work — an unheard-of level of exposure for Asian artists at the time.
Mr. Wong, newly married and needing steady work, joined Disney in 1938 as an “in-betweener,” creating the thousands of intermediate drawings that bring animated sequences to life.
Asians were then a novelty at Hollywood studios, and Mr. Wong was made keenly aware of the fact, first at Disney and later at Warner Brothers. One co-worker flung a racial epithet at him. Another assumed on sight that he worked in the company cafeteria.
Then there was the affront of the in-betweener’s job itself: Painstaking, repetitive and for Mr. Wong quickly soul-numbing, it is the assembly-line work of animation — “a terrible use of his talents as a landscape artist and a painter,” Mr. Canemaker said.
A reprieve came in the late 1930s, when Mr. Wong learned that Disney was adapting “Bambi, a Life in the Woods,” the 1923 novel by the Austrian writer Felix Salten about a fawn whose mother is killed by a hunter.
In trying to animate the book, Disney had reached an impasse. The studio had enjoyed great success in 1937 with its animated film “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs,” a baroque production in which every detail of the backgrounds — every petal on every flower, every leaf on every tree — was meticulously represented.
In an attempt to use a similar style for “Bambi,” it found that the ornate backgrounds camouflaged the deer and other forest creatures on which the narrative centered.
Mr. Wong spied his chance.
“I said, ‘Gee, this is all outdoor scenery,’” he recalled in a video interview years afterward, adding: “I said, ‘Gee, I’m a landscape painter!’”
Invoking the exquisite landscape paintings of the Song dynasty (A.D. 960–1279), he rendered in watercolors and pastels a series of nature scenes that were moody, lyrical and atmospheric — at once lush and spare — with backgrounds subtly suggested by a stroke or two of the brush.
“Walt Disney went crazy over them,” said Mr. Canemaker, who wrote about Mr. Wong in his book “Before the Animation Begins: The Art and Lives of Disney Inspirational Sketch Artists” (1996). “He said, ‘I love this indefinite quality, the mysterious quality of the forest.’”
Mr. Wong was unofficially promoted to the rank of inspirational sketch artist.
“But he was more than that,” Mr. Canemaker explained. “He was the designer; he was the person they went to when they had questions about the color, about how to lay something out. He even influenced the music and the special effects: Just by the look of the drawings, he inspired people.”
Mr. Wong spent two years painting the illustrations that would inform every aspect of “Bambi.” Throughout the finished film — lent a brooding quality by its stark landscapes; misty, desaturated palette; and figures often seen in silhouette — his influence is unmistakable.
But in 1941, in the wake of a bitter employees’ strike that year, Disney fired Mr. Wong. Though he had chosen not to strike — he felt the studio had been good to him, Mr. Canemaker said — he was let go amid the lingering climate of post-strike resentments.
On “Bambi,” Mr. Wong’s name appears, quite far down in the credits, as a mere “background” artist.
Mr. Wong joined Warner Brothers in 1942, working there — and lent out on occasion to other studios — until his retirement in 1968.
The indignities he endured were not confined to the studios. Trying to buy a house, he and his wife, the former Ruth Kim, were told that each property they inquired about had just been sold. “Then in a month you’d go back there and the sign was still there,” Mr. Wong recalled in “Tyrus.”
After the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941, Mr. Wong, like many Chinese-Americans, took to wearing a lapel button proclaiming his heritage, lest an angry American beat him up on the street.
The war permanently dispersed the fledgling Oriental Artists’ Group. Mr. Wong’s friend Mr. Okubo was sent, with tens of thousands of other Japanese-Americans, to an internment camp.
“If World War II hadn’t happened when it did, I think these artists, even the Chinese-American artists, would have more of a name than they do today,” Ms. See said. “And that’s because this little movement that had just barely started was split apart by the war.”
Mr. Wong, who became a United States citizen in 1946, also designed Christmas cards for Hallmark and painted elegant Asian-inflected designs on dinnerware, now sought after by collectors.
A longtime resident of Sunland, Calif., he became, in retirement, a renowned kitemaker, designing, building and hand coloring astonishing, airworthy creations — butterflies, swallows, whole flocks of owls, centipedes more than 100 feet long — that streaked the Southern California sky like paint on blue canvas.
During the last 15 years of Ruth Wong’s life, when she was ill with dementia, Mr. Wong forsook his work to care for her. After her death in 1995, he slowly began making art again.
In 2001, in formal recognition of his influence on “Bambi,” Mr. Wong was named a Disney Legend. The honor — whose previous recipients include Fred MacMurray, Julie Andrews and Annette Funicello — is bestowed by the Walt Disney Company for outstanding contributions.
In 2003, a retrospective of his work, curated in part by Ms. See, was the inaugural exhibition at the Chinese American Museum in Los Angeles. Disney’s own retrospective, “Water to Paper, Paint to Sky,” traveled in 2015 to the Museum of Chinese in America, in Lower Manhattan.
Mr. Wong’s death, at his home in Sunland, was confirmed by the filmmaker Ms. Tom. His survivors include three daughters, Kay Fong, Tai-Ling Wong and Kim Wong; and two grandchildren.
When his daughters were small, Mr. Wong encouraged them to make art, as his father had encouraged him. Yet he would not let them have coloring books.
The reason was simple: He did not want his children constrained, he said, by lines laid down by others.
Correction: December 31, 2016
An earlier version of this story incorrectly identified Guangzhou as the birthplace of Tyrus Wong. He was born in Guangdong Province, but it’s not known exactly where.
Brian Eno Credit Steve Forrest for The New York Times
By RANDY KENNEDY
NY Times Published: JAN. 2, 2017
The composer and ambient-music pioneer Brian Eno once wrote that he considers it possible “our grandchildren will look at us in wonder and say: ‘You mean you used to listen to exactly the same thing over and over again?’”
With his newest album, “Reflection,” released Sunday, his seventh album in the past seven years, Mr. Eno is making his boldest attempt yet to create what he has described as a third category of music, generative, to join the two we know now — live and recorded. Using algorithms and increasingly powerful portable technology, generative music, he argues, will allow listeners to hear music that creates itself anew all day, or night, long, changing according to time, mood, weather or other variables.
The traditional album version of “Reflection” is a 54-minute single track that, much like the ambient music Mr. Eno has been making since the late 1970s, uses looping meditative passages that change with slow variations. But an app-based version of the project, available on iTunes, creates what Mr. Eno calls “an endless and endlessly changing version of the piece of music,” playing from the algorithms he fine-tuned while listening over weeks to the music the system created. “It’s a lot like gardening,” Mr. Eno wrote of the process in promotional materials for the project, which he accomplished with the help of Peter Chilvers, a longtime collaborator. “You plant the seeds and then you keep tending to them until you get a garden you like.”
Mr. Eno, as a futurist, has often accompanied his music with political pronouncements. And with the release of the new album, he posted his thoughts about the end of 2016 on Facebook, in a widely shared post. In it, he theorized that the tumultuous political developments of the past year might not mark the beginning of a period of decline, but the end of one that he believes has been underway for 40 years, marked by concentration of wealth and the growth of an ideology that has “sneered at social generosity and championed a sort of righteous selfishness.”
“Last year people started waking up to this,” Mr. Eno wrote, adding: “I think we underwent a mass disillusionment in 2016, and finally realized it’s time to jump out of the saucepan. This is the start of something big. It will involve engagement: not just tweets and likes and swipes, but thoughtful and creative social and political action, too.”January 3rd, 2017