The Fish
for 29 January 2001. Updated every WEEKDAY.
[Suck Staff]

[Tim Cavanaugh]
Tim Cavanaugh
Special Guest Editor


[Terry Colon]
Terry Colon
Art Director


[Heather Havrilesky]
Heather Havrilesky
Senior Editor


[Joey Anuff]
Joey Anuff

[Go to the Suck Alumni page]
The Artless Bastards

while many would agree that "art" has shedded its "-ifice" in recent years, your criticism of "pollock" is predicated on a puzzling assumption: that jackson was some kind of technical virtuoso. harris makes explicitly clear that when it came to putting together a painting, pollock spent his early career in a creative fog, conceptually sheltering his work with vague references to jung, to the raw honesty of materials, to the subconscious — to anything that might draw attention from the fact that his paintings were execrable.

pollock did study under benton (not a conceptual heavyweight, himself), and the rhythmic, pulsating structure of his paintings reflects this influence. benton also resembled pollock in his quickness to fisticuffs, rudeness, misogyny, and emphasis on the visceral over the conceptual (benton, having made tentative and unsuccessful forays into progressive modernism, retreated into a xenophobic pastoralism that, while danged pretty, was not particularly thoughtful). basically, they both loved to assault the canvas (with a zeal equal to that with which they assaulted walls, crockery, and humans), and that's what the movie shows pollock doing. of course, there is an elemental beauty to pollock's work, and he does make good decisions on occasion — but he ain't no breughel or picasso. you too would hurl epithets at pablo the great if the canyon between your respective talents was as yawning and unbridgeable as it was for pollock. if there is any doubt at all about pollock's patent inability to draw, witness his pitiful feints towards representation at the beginning and end of his career.

sure, most movies about artists aren't about art. "pollock" is an exception. more screen time is devoted to the scrutiny of the artist's work than in any other movie i've seen. but pollock WAS an action painter. he invited cameras into his studio and relished the public perception of his process as a physical oscillation between the feral and the balletic. it was fast and furious. and that's all in the movie, too.

had harris attempted a biography of de kooning, there may have been problems. his was a deeply intellectual, iterative pursuit — of the sort to which movies never do justice. such a film, ideally devoted to time-lapse depictions of willems works-in-progress, would probably have been all about wife-swapping. but pollock, especially compared to other artists of his time (to say nothing of those of other times), was more shaman than scientist.


Puzzling? You're working under some assumptions yourself, bud, like the one that a painter equals a draughtsman, an area where Picasso certainly excelled and Jackson didn't. You write, "Of course, there is an elemental beauty to Pollock's work, and he does make good decisions on occasion — but he ain't no Breughel or Picasso. " Yeah, "elemental," a specific effect Pollock sought that you have to be pretty good to create so perfectly so many times. Like a great stand-up comic, actor, or musician, capturing a sense of spontaneity (or "action," in Pollock's case) intentionally, repeatedly, on canvas after canvas or show after show, shows a technical brilliance if the composition and bounce of Pollock's image aren't technical proof enough.

And as far de Kooning's wife swapping goes, that's another unfair comparison, since it's doubtful Pollock would have got much for Lee.


[Mr. McFeely Speedy Delivery My Ass]

So the article wasn't so bad, until I got to the end, where there was a completely unexplained slandering of The Marquis de Sade

''What's missed is that Pollock was a good painter. Even the most frenzied examples of "action painting" are balanced and composed, full of dynamic color choices, but above all, designed.''

yes, well, I'm not refuting this because I know little of visual arts. However, I know literature and I can tell you that Sade was a good author. Even his most frenzied examples of pornography are balanced and composed, full of dynamic prose, but above all, well-written.

''Vampire fictionalizes the production of one of Murnau's several masterpieces, Nosferatu.''

Why is Nosferatu a masterpiece while 'La Philosophie dans le boudoir' isn't?

''Most likely, de Sade was simply a brutal head case full of violent porn''

And maybe, Pollock was simply a brutal head case full of violent colour choices.

'' (if he was more, Quills doesn't burden us with it). ''

if he was more, you wouldn't know it, Blecht, because you haven't read anything he's written.

"Pollock and Murnau were more than that. Yet, these films bring them down to de Sade's level, or raise him to theirs, reducing all their work to the same level of self-absorbed personal expression — questioning the idea that art exists at all.''

If art isn't self-absorbed personal expression, then what is it?

''In an era when the First Amendment justifies more art than talent,''

In an era where again, again someone like you, Blecht, is ridiculously pretentious enough to think he knows what art is, perhaps it was asking you too much to try to stretch your brain enough to remember that there are standards other than your own. No one knows what art is : it is defined by it not being defined.

''when Extreme! content replaces craft,''

And the brilliance of the first amendment is that it does NOT claim to know what art is, and so does not try to limit expression no matter WHAT the subject matter.

Next time, try not to be limited by your own prudishness. Since when does being crazy reduce the importance of an artist?


I must be "ridiculously pretentious" if someone signing their name "morganlefae" thinks they can get away with calling someone named "bertolt blecht" "ridiculously pretentious" in public. Talk about glass houses. Look, you say I slandered de Sade (if such a thing is legally possible ...), by dismissing this demented froggy perv as a "brutal head case full of violent porn" (not that you offer anything to make anyone think differently). Yet you also quote me saying that "if he was more, "Quills" doesn't burden us with it." So why are you angry at me? From beginning to end "Quills" dismisses/celebrates de Sade as a First Amendment case and that's it. He's a Napoleonic Larry Flynt, portrayed as offensive and nothing but. What craft, philosophy, or greater purpose he has other than writing stroke books as art therapy is ignored. You're right, I haven't read much of his work because I don't like it. People who do like de Sade have always struck me as preciously in love with themselves for defending his work, somewhat like people who drive around with "Question Authority" bumper stickers on their cars. *Yawn* — yes, you're outrageous and rock my bourgeois "prudishness" with your not-at-all ridiculously pretentious letter that assumes your opinion alone justifies the Marquis.


[Mr. McFeely Speedy Delivery My Ass]

Saving Private Cheney

I maintain that there are two nationalities that one can mock relentlessly without fear of repercussions: the Belgians and the Welsh. After all, what are they gonna do, capitulate and write a touching story about it? In the world of political correctness, it's good to know that you can insult a people without reproach. Canadians, on the other hand, can be insulted mercilessly, but you'll have to deal with a slew of emails afterward... simply not worth it. Belgians and the Welsh are where it's at.

Fuck chocolate and rarebit,

Mark Anderson

Well, as Suck's Hit & Run column "The Hate Trick" recently pointed out, there really are no repercussions for bigots anymore if you play your cards right. But we weren't really making fun of Belgians, Mark — we reserved our ire for one man, Gung Ho Dick Cheney — and for that the consequences could be dire indeed.


[Mr. McFeely Speedy Delivery My Ass]

Wonder how many people went to 'Nam so Bill could stay home. Any info on that ??


If I have people comparing Dick Cheney and Bill Clinton on ethical grounds I've made my point. When Dubya's spin is that he "gave the impression" of telling the truth about his drunk driving, and Cheney can rewrite his draft history before Congress, then the definition of "is" is still up grabs.


[Mr. McFeely Speedy Delivery My Ass]

I've only recently acquired a DvD player, and am very willing to purchase a copy of your formidable tale of triumph and fortitude in the face of overwhelming privilege, perhaps two — provided the funding goes to the underdog Bush campaign. I, too, was unable to serve in Vietnam, being too young at the time.

But now that Cheney has taken the Vice-Helm of the Nation, he'll certainly give us the opportunity to go off and die in his stead. Remember, if we can just get ten more barrels of oil a day out of the Middle East (and possibly Alaska), we can increase Bush's stock by a thirtieth of a point over twenty years, ensuring a powerful Bush Dynasty for years to come.

Fight for the cause, brothers!


For a less eloquent follow-up to "Saving Private Cheney" you should've tuned in to C-SPAN last Friday as the Vice-President elect gave an inaugural salute to America's vets.

The surviving members of "Cheney's Boys" — Jones and Mr. Tet, the talking tiger — were planning to protest, until Tet's love child was revealed in the tabloids ("Kitty Litters in Three States!"). And Jones, who long ago changed his name to Sgt. Mumia X, has lost faith in his former mentor and was silently protesting. He's the one with fist raised and wearing the green, black, and red American Legion cap.

Apparently, all of official Washington is in such a tizzy over our l'il ol strip that Cheney is expected to come out swinging. He's angry, smart, powerful, and, unfortunately, not heeding his cardiologist's advice to back off. Terry Colon and I can look forward to some nice IRS audits come April 15. But Suck doesn't pay that much anyway.


[Mr. McFeely Speedy Delivery My Ass]

 The Shit
Physical Strength and How to Obtain It, by Eugen Sandow
Bamboozled, A Spectacular New Film by Mr. Spike Lee
G. Beato's all-new Soundbitten
William Demarest, Sultan of Snarl, in The Lady Eve (1941), The Palm Beach Story (1942), and The Miracle of Morgan's Creek (1944)
George Wallace: Settin' The Woods On Fire, directed by Daniel McCabe and Paul Stekler
Bobby Darin, Darin at the Copa (Atlantic)
Shinji-San in the floating world of indeterminate duration, by Peter Richardson
American Pharaoh: Mayor Richard J. Daley: His Battle for Chicago and the Nation, by Adam Cohen and Elizabeth Taylor
Neutral Milk Hotel, In the Aeroplane Over the Sea (1996, Merge)
45, by Bill Drummond
Cliff "Ukulele Ike" Edwards, Singing in the Rain (ASV)
Do you know of stuff that doesn't actively suck? Things so good they deserve to make the Shitlist? Send your suggestions to us.

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