Wednesday, July 29, 2009
Sunday, July 26, 2009
We street vendor artists have been going through a difficult and sometimes daunting legal battle with the city over constitutional rights. It would certainly not be an issue if a modern day Henry Flagler simply purchased the town, or maybe this has happened and we didn't notice it. It would be naive to deny that in city governments there is usually a chummy relationship with the large property owners and employers. People play golf, socialize, share inside info...that's the way of the world. Have your water bills waived....take home a stapler....I don't care. Citizens get upset when no bid contracts are doled out without public disclosure. They resent it when police powers are used to stifle protected Constitutional rights. This is followed up with paying outside legal counsel almost 100,000 to lose a Federal court case to artists. This is not your money!
The solution to avoid these situations would be to "privatize" formerly public properties and services. Be aware readers, this is on the horizon. Our County Commission expects the St. John's Public Libraries to "pay for themselves". My dog and I were evicted from Beale Street in Memphis Tennessee because the Business Improvement District did not permit artists painting or dogs, even on a leash. Two uniformed (not police) twenty somethings escorted Karl and I one block over where the winos habituated.
I'm sure that here in St. Augustine are there are those already soliciting corporate donations for our 450th anniversary fandango. Certain benefits for the sponsor come with this. If we are not careful these benefits could lead to privatization. The corporate motive is rarely altruistic.
I'm of the view that certain parts of the social and governmental terrain should remain closed to market forces in order to protect them from the unpredictability and ruthlessness of the market (such as private prisons, basic health care, and basic education). Some of the utilities which government provides benefit society at large and are indirect and difficult to measure or unable to produce a profit, such as defense.
By the way city leaders,.........in Key West......Leasing out the wharf for "sunset celebration" is "privatization". This is perfectly legitimate for mercantile vendors........not for visual artists. They are in jeopardy of a civil rights trial brought by visual artists. This should not be your model.
A final note to the city.............Your agreement to make the injunction that the artists won permanent, is disingenuous if you create another ordinance that basically continues to violate our hard won rights. Also....stop waffling on paying our attorneys.....you lost.
Saturday, July 25, 2009
"Travelers believe that they are hearing the truth..........sites are presented as heritage
attractions, but do not live up to standards of authenticity.Instead, they embellish stories, relying on myths to “improve”on the historical facts. This includes sites such as the Fountain
of Youth and Oldest Wooden Schoolhouse."
Thursday, July 23, 2009
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
"This guy was at the Bob Weir and Ratdog concert just hangin' around. He kept sayin 'LET IT ALL HANG OUT!,GROOVY! and LAY SOME WACKY WEED ON ME SON! Somebody said that he was an important guy in St. Augustine. Do you know who he is?"
No, we don't Steffi but we can spot a narc when we see one.
Monday, July 20, 2009
Friday, July 17, 2009
This is well known painter Scott Raimondo and this is his "sales face"*. In spite of this, he is one of the most popular artists in St. Augustine. Scott is not a member of the Cultural Council, the Art Association or affiliated with any gallery. He is the real deal, a street artists who faces the elements out on the streets and parks of St. Augustine. Ten to one he has more art in homes worldwide than maybe any other artist in town. His work hangs on the walls long after the tourist t-shirts and kitchy jewelry are cast aside.
Scott spent last New Years Eve in the St. John's County Jail for quoting a price on a print to a female undercover operative (and her child) of the police department. They sometimes enlisted the aid of misguided citizens to violate the civil rights of artists. The Federal Court has declared that arrest illegal and all charges have been dropped. " I want an apology", says Scott. Sorry Scott. that's not gonna happen.
You can find Scott in the Plaza De la Constitucion at least three days a week. Here is his website. Take a look and you'll see that Scott Raimondo actually has a great smile.
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
Ron Brown previously (May 11 ) told the city commission that the ordinance was valid with exceptions of non enforcement against only the vendors of paintings , prints, sculptures and photos. The commissioners were under the impression that the flea market would not return . Well they have.... in droves. Now Brown is telling the Commission that a new ordinance is necessary. No one asked why the current ordinance is not being enforced. They had no problem throwing artists in jail before. Now that the judge has said that this was illegal against vendors of paintings , prints, sculpture and photography but a valid prohibition for merchandise vendors. Commissioners....why do you accept such contradictory counsel without question!? Read the May 11 transcript of the meeting here.
The Commissioners do not like the sun glass sellers and the food vendors but are confused over the issues like"Is a leather belt considered art?" No matter how many e mails we or our lawyers have sent with explanation of protected speech, they keep on pretending to be ignorant.
They readily recognize the food vendors as non compliant . This following video should really throw them into a quandary.
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
Thursday, July 09, 2009
I 'm sure that you can figure out a way to keep it in the Plaza at 55 degrees F, until someone buys it. Good Luck!
* an indictment contains only charges and is not evidence of guilt. The defendants are presumed innocent and are entitled to a fair trial at which the United States has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.You might sit in jail for a long time if you cannot pay to get out. Mr. Bengis had the money.
Tuesday, July 07, 2009
Interestingly owner Henry Whetstone wrote a May editorial in the St. Augustine Record. He first established his credentials by stating his grandfather owned this, his father owned that and that he himself has owned seven businesses in addition to a colonial building. He also writes that his family provided the land where the Art Association is located today. The credentials establish that his family has owned a lot of stuff. Then he went on to say. "I consider my products just as much an artistic work of art as a painter, artist, or sculpture does his works of art." Good for Mr. Whetstone. This shows great pride in his product, and from what I've sampled ,it is deserved. Perhaps he can elaborate in another editorial and give us the message that he is trying to communicate with his "art". Yes, we know that some wags will say that his message is "Eat me!". Some. after looking at the photo above will make some crack about it's phallic shape. Yes sir Mr. Whetstone, "EVERYTHING IS ART!" but for some reason some people cannot understand that this was never an issue. The Federal courts have not defined what is art and hopefully never will. Understand please that the Federal courts have been asked to define which type of art is Constitutionally protected for display and sale in the same fashion that books and newspapers are. They determined that prints , paintings, photographs and sculpture is fully protected symbolic speech. A line was drawn that if a piece of art has a utilitarian purpose such as jewelry, or pots and baskets it then would not be in the fully protected category.
Mr. Whetstone goes on to write"The minute that money changes hands, that is when I question the definition of freedom of speech." Yes, some newspapers are free and advertiser supported but most charge at the vending stand. What Mr. Whetstone doesn't acknowledge is that prints, paintings,sculpture and photographs are in the free speech category as stated by the courts. If a speaker was hired to give an oration from the gazebo in the Plaza, would his free speech be restricted because he was paid? Does he need a permit? No, he doesn't.
"I do not like to see the grass trampled down by someone trying to sell their products, nor do I like to see the sidewalks cluttered with those same products." writes Mr. Whetstone. This is complete hypocrisy since this is exactly what he is doing. Take a look at the wrappers left behind and the wheel tracks of the cart..It's OK for him because his family has deep roots in the community? The Whetstones feel that they do not like this for others but it's OK for them? We do not believe that Mr. Whetstone feels this way but that he cannot perceive that we would do our art even during difficult financial times. Mr. Whetstone stopped making his Chocolate Oranges a few years back and laid off twenty employees because it was economically unfeasible. What we artist's do is economically unfeasible but we continue on don't we? This is a philosophical difference.
At the end of a the each vending day selling these frozen "art" confections, his, son in law, former St.John's County Commissioner Bruce McGuire, sometimes comes in to load up the cart and takes it back to the factory.
"I say the courts are wrong, and the judges need to be replaced." writes Mr. Whetstone.
Monday, July 06, 2009
Recently some of us were discussing "dog movies" and I admitted that I'm a sucker for those and baseball movies.Old Yeller, Homeward Bound ,etc. and I'm all blubbery and red eyed. One of my favorites is "My Dog Skip", based on the best-selling Mississippi memoir by the late Willie Morris. This film even has a little baseball in it. Karl is now 14 years old and while reasonably healthy, there will be that day coming.............
To set up this film ending you should know that the bus leaving in the scene has eighteen year old Willie Morris leaving his hometown and his dog Skip for college.
This is an older children and adult film with a WWII homefront backstory that is compelling. I recommend this 2000 film. Suvo
Friday, July 03, 2009
"Among these inalienable rights, as proclaimed in that great document, is the right of men to pursue their happiness, by which is meant the right to pursue any lawful business or vocation, in any manner not inconsistent with the equal rights of others, which may increase their prosperity or develop their faculties, so as to give to them their highest enjoyment."
Supreme Court Justice Samuel Freeman Miller , 1883
Thursday, July 02, 2009
While St. Augustine hoteliers struggle to maintain a respectable occupancy rate, NYC's Plaza Hotel has announced a special package available for you and your precious daughter, niece or special nephew. The Live Like Eloise Package gets you a room for the night, a copy of the book Eloise by Kay Thompson, a chocolate sundae, and some Eloise postcards. All for just $895 plus tax. *
This seems to be designed for those out of touch parents or grandparents who actually believe that the kids would be excited about a 1950's kid's book character.
We are reminded of some local wags whose marketing suggestions to us includes street artists selling their works over cell phones or accepting a tip for "looking" at the art (just like the musicians) There are marketing people all over the place.
* Sorry Dad, The Governor's Package has been withdrawn because of........well.....you know. Just the name alone was a problem.
Prisoner letters home were permitted, and sometimes even encouraged. Prisoners could buy or exchange for food and clothing, including any money sent by their families. No "waterboading "here. "Parole"would allow prisoners some freedom, in exchange for their promise not to resume the war.('Tag!' Your Out!') Prisoners were encouraged to enlist in the army of the other side. Over the course of the war, as much as a quarter of each army had actually seen service on the other side.
Not everything was rosy for the common troops.When the war formally ended, those who survived the forced marches and camp fevers were sent home.
We recommend a decent movie about the "grunts" who served as troops and was roundly panned in 1985. "Revolution". Critics made fun of Pacino's accent and thought that the battle scenes weren't bloody enough. To us it is one of the best "Point Of View" films about the American Revolution. No stewing , smoldering, heroic Mel Gibson in this one, just schlubby Al Pacino's character trying to get through the day when his world was turned upside down.
* Edward Rutledge (the youngest signer of the Declaration at age 27) of S.C. was a prisoner held here in St. Augustine. He is depicted as the person on the extreme right in the 2 dollar bill engraving above. John Adams, never an admirer of the South Carolinians, who wrote in his diary "Young Ned Rutledge is a perfect Bob-o-Lincoln—a swallow, a sparrow, a peacock; excessively vain, excessively weak, and excessively variable and unsteady; jejeune, inane, and puerile." After reading this attack, we ask local readers.....Do you think that Edward Slavin is our regeneration of John Adams? Of course, Adams put this in his "private diary". How would Ed fare in a duel out on Fish Island and which City official would be the opponent? Answer to the last ....all of em!