Not Invited by the NEA

Just to be clear, I would like to make it known that I did not participate in the now-infamous National Endowment for the Arts conference call of Monday August 10th.
The call was hosted by the NEA, the White House Office of Public Engagement, and United We Serve, and was intended to include “a group of artists, producers, promoters, organizers, influencers, marketers, taste-makers, leaders or just plain cool people to join together and work together to promote a more civically engaged America and celebrate how the arts can be used for a positive change!” (Their exclamation point, not mine.)

Despite being referred to almost daily as an “artist, influencer, taste-maker,” and most certainly “just plain cool” I was not invited to join this conference call.

Are my feelings hurt? Let me assure you they are not. I learned years ago that one of the burdens of taste-makerness and just-plain-coolness is that one often finds oneself ahead of the pack, blazing new trails upon which the common man will not feel comfortable until long after one has moved on to greater things. I was wearing a Member’s Only jacket in 1979, for crying out loud, but by the time Martha Quinn and company were making their appearances on MTV, I was had shed it for a red leather jacket with a multitude of zippers. Where do you think Michael Jackson got the idea?

Anyway, even were I not so leading-edge as to be passed over by these poseurs (really – United We Serve? They are SO passe.) I would have had to send my regrets. Don’t these people know that the age of patronage is behind us? What self-respecting forward-leaning progressive art dissident would willingly align themselves with a government movement? Since when have artists needed to collude with The Man to decide how to do their work?

That was a rhetorical question, but now that I’ve asked it, it seems worth answering. Not since the fall of the Soviet Union.