In the thread Obama Makes HUD Pick Booman approved of Obama’s choice, saying:
It appears that Donovan anticipated the housing crisis. I think that is a good sign.
I replied…only half tongue in cheek:
So? I anticipated the housing crisis too.
And the financial crisis as well.
And the Iraq quagmire, the total ineptness of the entire Butch regime, Hilary’s inclusion in the Obama administration, and…
And, and, and…
Why go on any more.
Where’s MY appointment?
All’s I want is Minister of Culture.
(Heh heh heh heh heh heh heh…I’ll RULE AMERICA in less than two years. Heh heh heh heh heh. Lemme at’ em.)
And then Booman asked me the magic question.
And what would you do as minister of culture?
Read on for my answer if you are so inclined.
What would I do?
I have often said here that if you change the music, you change the culture. This is not a new idea; it has been around since the time of the Greek philosophers. Ditto the rest of the arts as far as I am concerned.
I would immediately aim as much money and power as I could muster in the direction of:
1-Arts education in the public schools. ALL of the arts, including language arts.
2-Grant monies…administered by real, working artists, not by bureaucrats…again, including all of the arts.
3-A series of concerts and performances AT THE WHITE HOUSE if at all possible (I can hear it now…”Live from Washington DC!!! It’s the Finally Ready For Prime Time Players!!!”), but if not, certainly approved of and attended by the President…featuring the best of the best of the best in the underfunded American styles of art music and the other performance arts.
4-An “Arts Corps” much like the Peace Corps idea, although aimed both within AND outside of the country. You want public service? Me too. Hire fine artists and pay them to create and perform. Send Afro-Cuban musicians to Mali. Send jazz musicians to Cuba and Chile. Send great blues and bluegrass musicians to Madagascar. Send great, rockin’ gospel groups to North Korea. In fact…send ’em all to Detroit, Watts and the South Bronx while we’re at it. Let this presently almost entirely underground segment of culture bloom and blossom. Show the third world that not all Americans are Abu Ghraib-style torturers and Blackwater mercenaries.
Make the arts as popular as is baseball.
Cuba has been doing this with its musicians for over 40 years.
Why can’t we?
5-Some sort of public awareness/PR thing in this country regarding the arts. Regarding how important the finest expressions of those arts were during those parts of the 20th Century where America actually functioned well. Again…lots of money (as much as can be assembled given our financial situation, anyway) spent on public service advertising and public education.
6-Monies to support public radio and TV so that they do not have to grovel to the lowest common (middle class and above) denominator for each and every dollar, which groveling produces masses of truly awful “arts” programs and and almost nothing else except money to sustain that presently almost useless system and its doubletalking bureaucrats.
7-Another public awareness program to combat the whole “Fuck dat bitch!!!” and “Shoot da man!!!” music, film, TV and game cultures. Do you think that’s a racist concept? Bullshit. The constant portrayal and glorification of black gangsters in our media is racist. Bet on it.
That’s what I would do.
And it would literally change America in a single four year presidential term of office.
In eight years?
A new world ‘a comin’!!!
For every dollar spent we would reap literally thousands of dollars in cultural health…less prison time, less drug use, fewer school dropouts, the works…and more thousands of dollars in international goodwill due to the belief that the U.S. has actually turned a corner.
It is our culture that is sick, Booman.
Not just our political, financial and corporate cultures.
The whole damned thing.
Offer a generation or two viable, high-level alternatives to American Idol and the latest lame rock/pop/rap group and things will change here on an almost cellular level. Do NOT heal this culture and we are headed down, down down into the dustheap of history.
But…I can hear it now. The Elitist Chorus singing that fine old song But The People Are Too Stupid!!!
The “people” who listened to Duke Ellington, to Basie and Sinatra and Dorsey and Goodman during arguably our finest time, the recovery from the Great Depression and the war against fascism, the “people” who paid attention to Bird and Diz and them, to Miles and Mingus and Getz and Monk and ‘Trane during the changing years, to Tito Puente and Machito and Tito Rodriquez, to Eddie Palmieri and Ruben Blades…I was there for some of that and I SAW those “people”. They were cabdrivers and bartenders just as often as they were college profs and lawyers/doctors/corporate Indian Chiefs. Bet on it. More often, truth be told.
We can do that again.
Open up the bottom line-related corporate brick walls that have been erected against the new, and it will come pouring through.
Or…just keep on Lindsey Lohan/Paris Hilton/Fifty Centing away.
It’s our choice, now.
Whatchoo gonna do about it, America?
Whatchoo gonna DO about it?