Art By Focus Group: my new idea for an art installation

This is my idea for a new art installation:

  1. Set up a focus group.  I know there are places that do this, where they pay people some amount of money to sit around and tell you how they feel about a bank’s new stupid ad.  I used to do them in LA when I didn’t have a job, and it was a good way to make $100 cash plus as many cookies as you could cram in your mouth from a snack tray.
  2. Lock everyone in a room for 12 hours.
  3. The room has food, and bathrooms.  (Maybe a good deli tray, some various sandwiches, or box lunches. Also cookies.  Maybe some chili or indian food, too.)
  4. Each person in the focus group has one of those dial things where they spin it one way or the other if they like or hate something.
  5. Show the people 12 hours of slides of various art installations.  Also mix in other random slides, like pictures of Julia Roberts or Khmer Rouge death camps.
  6. Allow people to break every hour to eat more sandwiches or use the restrooms.
  7. Wire up the restrooms so that the output from all of the toilets is actually diverted into some kind of portable septic tank.
  8. Also record all audio from the rest rooms.
  9. Discard all voting results from the focus group.
  10. Put all of the urine and feces from the restroom into mason jars.
  11. For the installation itself, have a large white room with white pedestals around the perimeter.  On top of each pedestal, put a jar filled with either urine or feces.  Broadcast a continuous loop of the bathroom sounds.  The title of this is “ART BY FOCUS GROUP (2013) Urine, Feces, audio.”

If you know of any grants that will pay me money to do this, please contact me.


The Satanist’s Guide to Green Investing, Second Edition

One of my new year’s resolutions is to get a reality show of mine picked up on the upcoming motorized combative sports channel that Viacom is trying to get off the ground in 2012.  I’ve been reading all of these bullshit Syd Field books, and trying to figure out this new Mac software package ScreenFuckerPro, which is supposed to have some wizard mode where you enter a noun, a color, and a verb and it spits out a perfectly formed 120-page screenplay.  Over half of the stuff on UPN or whatever it is called this week uses this program.  I think my copy is broken, because I downloaded a torrent and used a fake serial number, and now no matter what nouns and verbs I put into it, the result is always the pilot episode of Felicity.  I’ve spent the last 200 hours trying to figure out the key macros and wizard screens and pull-out side palettes, and I probably could have just written the damn treatment in notepad by now, except that involves work, and I still can’t figure out if I’m supposed to use notepad or wordpad on a Windows machine, and no matter which one I use, the thing ends up unwrapping and putting the entire damn thing on one line with \874 and \262 and Ä instead of quotes and dashes.

So I’ve been trying to wrap my head around some kind of “green” demolition derby – something that captures the essence of classic motorized combative sports and their ability to transfer the pent-up sexual frustration of middle America into twisted metal and bent-up mid-70s shitheap Buicks and Chryslers with some angle that will get idiots who buy Green everything to shell out money on pay-per-views.  And the answer is not just to have an all-Prius demolition derby, although if you’ve ever seen a Kammback body car get rear-ended when it’s nosed into a wall, it’s probably as tasty an instant replay as any self-defecation Taser scene from COPS. (And yes, I have tried to pitch an all-pants-shitting/all-Taser COPS spinoff or special, but getting John Langley to return my phone calls is like trying to book Kanye to play at a Klan rally.) The Green-buying public is too into the notion that their priceless hybrid will run for four million miles and won’t ever age or die young; they are not cool with seeing Japanese plastic and metal on jackstands in some hillbilly’s garage, getting the glass punched out, the frame pre-notched, and the precious Toyota high-gloss Driftwood Pearl covered with spraypaint flames.

Don’t get me wrong; an all-Prius demolition derby would sell.  There are enough people in red state America that hate hybrid cars and would love to see them get smashed to pieces in an orgy of ZEV destruction.  There are millions of people that would foreclose on their houses and sell their children to sex predators just to keep filling up their 2-MPG pickup trucks at four bucks a gallon.  In the flyover states, the hybrid is seen as The Enemy, much like homosexuals, the Macintosh computer, and “rap music” (which hasn’t been called “rap” music for something like twenty years, just like nobody calls “alternative” music “alternative”, but the second you ask some mouth-breather in Arkansas about MTV, which hasn’t played any music for at least fifteen years, they will always, without fail, tell you “well, I’m not really into that rap or alternative music.”)  Woodrow Wilson didn’t drive a hybrid, and nowadays, it’s all about looking back and glomming onto whatever dumb ideals got us stuck in two world wars and a great depression, because that’s how things are Done Right.  And of course, the best way to spread the word on how we shouldn’t embrace progress is to use a complicated modern computer network that was invented by communists, Jews, socialists, pederasts, sodomites, ivy-league academics, and Californians.

That, in a way, is an example of what I need to do.  The internet is a modern, progressive breeding ground of ideas and hope and communication and change, and yet every damn time I read an article about a wildfire or a tsunami, there’s at least a dozen redneck Patriots blaming the whole thing on Obama and socialism.  All computer networks that don’t involve two machines you personally own connected to each other with a loopback cable are intrinsically socialist; if you pay $39 a month for a DSL or cable connection, do you think that you and every one of the other millions of subscribers are using exactly $39 of bandwidth?  Either you are downloading torrents of every episode of The Dukes of Hazzard at a gig a clip and relying on the fact that your neighbor is an idiot who only downloads a quarter-meg of emails from his brother-in-law every month and leaves most of his bandwith unused, or you’re not using the entire potential of your connection and you’re essentially doing the same damn thing as someone who pays thousands of dollars into Medicare and never gets sick.  I would argue that the internet is the most successful form of socialism ever implemented.  What magic mojo gets the most radical fundamentalist conservatives to embrace an entirely socialist technology created by companies that pay their workers to give their gay atheist pets sex change operations?  That’s the nut I need to crack to be able to sell the destruction of hybrid cars to a population that largely fears cars and feels that any form of motor sports is a misogynistic affront on humanity in the same vein as hunting puppy mill-bred dogs with a sniper rifle and raping their corpses.

Fuck this is hard.  If someone would have bought my Who Wants to Be a Prophet show back in 2007, I’d have a foot in the door and a half-dozen spin-off shows where I’d show up to one meeting, change one adverb in the title, and get an Executive Producer credit fat enough to keep my beak wet in this sports steroid abuse memorabilia hobby.  (Do you know how much a game-used Barry Bonds HGH suppository goes for on eBay?)  Maybe the demolition derby will use all Priuses, but all the drivers will be hot lipstick lesbian types with lots of tattoos and rockabilly clothes.  I’ll get some BMX bike or street skate has-been to host, and maybe a British-accented supermodel wannabe to cohost.  Gotta go write this up – wish me luck.


One down, one to go

I paid off a credit card today. This is sort of my new hobby, and an expensive one, but I’m down to just one credit card that has a balance, and I’m done. (Well, except for my land mortgage, and a student loan that will probably outlive me by 50 years.)

This made me think of a really good idea that either will never get implemented, or that someone else will “think of” years from now, and I will spend a decade saying “I thought of that first!” The idea is a reverse credit card statement. Imagine that every time you buy something on your credit card, the name/date/details are put in a last-in/first-out queue. Each month, when you make a payment, your statement shows that month’s finance charge you paid off, and then shows all of the items at the top of the queue that were “removed” by this payment. So like if you had a Visa that was full of crap from the last ten years, and you were feverishly paying off the balance, you might get a statement that said something like “you paid this month’s 68.11 finance charge, plus you paid off a pair of movie tickets from 1998, and a bunch of books you bought at Barnes and Noble from back then.” (Fractional percentages would be used to remove part of something at the top of the queue if it’s greater in size than the payment. i.e. “you paid off 24% of that stereo you bought in 2000.”) I’m sure there is some way you could implement this with a combination of e-statements and online bill payer, but I think it would be interesting if card companies did this so you could really see what you were “paying off” each month, and just how long crap stays on your card.

I was thinking about this because earlier this year, I paid off (and then cut in half) my Chase card. I got the card in 1992, when I was desperately scrambling to pay for a summer session of classes. It’s actually been paid off and run up again a few times, so the classes I took that inspired stories in Summer Rain wouldn’t be on there, but I was hesitant to shred this card, because it was my oldest one, and it had the “member since” in the bottom corner. Whatever marketer thought of that, it almost worked. But since this was one of those toy credit cards with a low limit, high APR, and no features other than the ability to buy a discounted made in China clock-radio for only $19.99 by collecting a bunch of stamps, I got rid of it. I thought maybe when I called to cancel, the member since date would possibly get me some leverage in the negotiation, but it didn’t. Oh well.

Not much else is going on except I have to find a TV show to watch. I mean, I have to find a TV show that has DVDs on NetFlix. We’ve been on this kick of watching old TV serieses (seriii?) that neither of us really watched back when they were on, that might be interesting now. We started with Northern Exposure, after the Alaska trip, and we also watched the first two seasons of Nip/Tuck (actually, that may have been first.) Now we have three episodes left on Six Feet Under, and I need to find something else, since Sarah picked the last few and now it’s my turn. The concept has worked pretty good; we now watch almost no network TV, just an episode or two off of DVD, with no commercials and no need to schedule your life around a TV show. It’s cheaper than buying a set of DVDs, and it’s also good when you find out the show’s a dud a few episodes in. (We tried the Larry David show, but I couldn’t really get into it.) I should probably also state that we’re into non-genre-specific drama things. The sitcom is dead, and scifi is iffy. I have no real interest in cartoons, and archived reality shows or whatever aren’t that great. So, who knows. I’d step through the second season of Lost, if it wasn’t such a fake-cliffhangery sort of thing with every episode.

OK. Christ, I can’t believe how early it’s getting dark now. Al Gore should do a movie about that next.