Dead Blogging ‘Tom Kiefer: El Sueño Americano’ at Fuller Craft

Well the Missus and I trundled down to the Fuller Craft Museum Saturday to catch Tom Kiefer: El Sueño Americano – The American Dream (through July 28) and say, it was . . . heartbreaking.

This powerful body of work features the confiscated belongings of migrants apprehended near a U.S. Customs and Border Patrol facility in southern Arizona. Images of personal effects deemed “non-essential” or “potentially lethal” by Border Patrol agents evoke the humanity and struggle of the refugees who are willing to risk their lives searching for a better life in America.

Among those non-essentials were water bottles . . .

and personal hygiene products . . .

and family heirlooms . . .

and, most damning, rosary beads.

The exhibit paints a brutal picture of the shameful, morally bankrupt state of our federal government as it blithely blocks those in need seeking safety, security, and – heaven forbid – success in the richest nation in the world.

It’s a shonda.

* * * * * * * 

Also on exhibit at Fuller Craft:

Uneasy Beauty: Discomfort in Contemporary Adornment (through April 21), which brings together “75 examples of contemporary jewelry and costume that demonstrate the immense power of adornment to impact us physically, emotionally, and intellectually.”

Representative samples:

Trigger warning: There are some extremely funky objects in this show.

Don’t miss it.

Ditto for Donna Dodson: Zodiac (through May 19), which “presents acclaimed woodworker Donna Dodson’s two sculptural series referencing animal characters associated with the Chinese and Western zodiacs.”

Representative samples:

It’s a hoot, and along with the other two exhibits, well worth a trundle.

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Latest Penance for U.S. Tobacco Companies: Cig Pack Attacks

As the hardworking staff previously noted, U.S. tobacco companies have been engaged in a federally mandated campaign of self-flagellation for the past year.

[I]n 2006 Federal District Court Judge Gladys Kessler ruled that the tobacco companies had deceived the American public about the devastating health effects of smoking, suppressed research, destroyed documents, manipulated the use of nicotine, and distorted the truth about low tar and light cigarettes.

But . . . there could be no financial penalties under the civil racketeering charges the tobacco companies were convicted of, so they were ordered to issue “corrective statements” to inform the public of their decades-long deception.

Those corrective statements took the form of full-page ads like this one that ran monthly in about 50 major-market newspapers.

In addition, for the past year the Big Four had to run this TV spot five times a week during prime time on ABC, NBC, and CBS.


It’s no accident that the spot – with its anemic visuals and robotic voiceover – is about as close to invisible as you can get on a TV screen. Nobody dodges responsibility while seeming to accept it better than the tobacco industry

All told, that was a $31 million slap on the wrist to the Big Four, which definitely did not leave a mark.

(Not to get technical about it, but if you want to reach the smokers of the future, newspapers and broadcast television are not exactly the most effective media vehicles.)

Regardless, now comes the third leg of the stooling on themselves: Corrective statements that are attached to cigarette packs themselves. Folded, the mini-brochures measure about 2″ wide x 3″ deep, and here’s what faces you on the back of the pack.

Unfolded, there’s this.

Once again, could any health warning be more benign? Maybe, but this’ll do until something else comes along.

Then again, as we detailed previously, those pale palliatives are probably the only anti-smoking messages most Americans have seen in the past year, given that state governments, which used to underwrite the bulk of the anti-smoking advertising, have largely decided to take the tobacco money and run . . . almost nothing.

Case in point: The Commonwealth of Massachusetts, which was once a leader in the public health community’s anti-smoking efforts, devoting as much as $55 million in 2000 to fight tobacco use.

Now, the Department of Public Health spends about $4 million a year toward that end, despite raking in almost $900 million annually in tobacco taxes . . .

Talk about blowing smoke.

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Boston News Media’s Althea Garrison Transgender Copout

Yesterday’s Boston Globe Page One piece said it best.

Michael Levinson’s report also addressed the indefatigable elephant in the room.

Before serving as a state representative from 1993 to 1995, she was outed as transgender when the Boston Herald got hold of a birth certificate that listed her sex as male and her name as A.C.

Though regarded by LGBTQ advocates as the first known transgender person to serve in a legislature, she was mocked by the Herald for her physical appearance and has declined over the years to discuss her gender identity.

It’s totally understandable why Garrison would decline to discuss her gender identity.

But it’s totally mystifying why local media outlets would do the same.

Call the roll:

• Brook Sutherland’s Boston Herald piece yesterday.

Everyone else.

Say what you will, but Garrison’s elevation to the Boston City Council is a historic first.

So how come Boston’s media outlets aren’t treating it that way?

Bad form, you all.

Bad form.

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Dead Blogging ‘TransAtlantic’ at Boston Sculptors Gallery

Well the Missus and I trundled downtown this past Friday to cruise the South End art galleries and say, a lot of what we saw was swell.

We started at Ars Libri, where the Robert Klein Gallery has mounted a exhibit called Distant Memories, Familiar Phantoms featuring works by Samira Alikhanzadeh, most of which were old photographs superimposed on mesh.

Representative samples:



The exhibit reminded us of work by the late David Prifti, a gifted local artist and teacher who left this world too soon.

From his Rice Polak Gallery bio:

Of his photographic assemblages Prifti said, “Through the juxtaposition of images, found objects and ephemera, I create autobiographical associations that become symbolic, conveying a sense of personal history and the passage of time. The reusing of old materials allows me to resurrect them into a new form.”

The Missus and I were lucky enough to once own this piece, which combined a photo of David’s grandmother during her ocean voyage to America with a segment of the picket fence in front of her house after she settled here.



Letting go of that haunting image was one of the toughest decisions we made in our Great Deaccession of 2014, but that’s a tale for another time.

Back in the South End, we next dropped by the Boston Sculptors Gallery, which paid tribute to recently deceased local artist David A. Lang in this delightfully eccentric Flights of Fancy exhibit.

The Boston Sculptors Gallery presents Flights of Fancy, an exhibition of sculpture by the late artist David A. Lang. The show includes Lang’s signature kinetic pieces which, when set off by motion detectors, come to life when closely inspected by viewers. Flights of Fancy explores the whimsical—yet serious— nature of an artist who preferred to describe his efforts as “accidentally profound.”

But the main event at the gallery is Jessica Straus’s TransAtlantic.

Straus’ parents met as a result of her American father’s participation as a soldier in the Normandy invasion and subsequent march into Paris, where he met the artist’s mother, a French student.

For the installation at Boston Sculptors Gallery, the walls and floor will be clad in a room-sized World War II era map. A fleet of airplanes and an ocean liner criss-cross the Atlantic Ocean carrying correspondence between the artist’s American and French families.

The big picture (photos courtesy of the artist).



Fun with maps ‘n’ mail.





Both exhibits are totally immersive, and both run through January 27th.

Totally worth a trundle to the South End.

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Doug Mills Wins the New York Times ‘Year in Pictures’ Bakeoff

One of the cherished holiday traditions here at the Global Worldwide Headquarters is the Counting of the Photographers in the New York Times Year in Pictures, tallying up which shutterbugs made it and how many of their photos are featured.

This year’s edition showcased 33 photographers, only six of whom had more than one photo included. Among them was Adam Ferguson, who got the cover shot.

Ferguson had two photos, as did last year’s bake-off winner Todd Heisler and 2015 winner Tyler Hicks, who shot a heartbreaking portfolio of Amal Hassain, one of the starved-to-death children in the disgraceful neglect of Yemeni refugees.

Tom Brenner was represented by three photos, and Erin Schaff was first runner-up with four, including this one from The March for Our Lives in Washington last winter.

The Year in Pictures leader was Doug Mills, aided by his gig as midterm election shooter. Here he captures Donald Trump at an October rally in Illinois.


We’ll leave it at that.

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Ave Atque Vale, The (Late, Lamented) Weekly Standard

The hardworking staff has long been a fan (we were a charter subscriber in the mid-90s) – and also a critic – of The Weekly Standard, which officially folded on Friday. For over two decades we’ve found the magazine’s political coverage generally harebrained, and its Culture & Arts coverage generally excellent.

When the news broke earlier this month that the magazine’s end was imminent, Politico’s Morning Media registered the objections left and right.

— “This is terrible news,” Mother Jones CEO Monika Bauerlein tweeted following CNN first reporting Tuesday on the magazine’s precarious position. “Vibrant conservative media (that is not just an echo chamber or de facto state media) is incredibly important for a robust public conversation.” Washington Post columnist Max Boot said: “America will be worse off without @weeklystandard to fight for a principled, un-Trumpified conservatism.”

— “The Weekly Standard has always published some of the best writers, word for word — not just the best conservative writers — in American political journalism,” tweeted New York Times columnist Ross Douthat. “To kill it because its brand is too anti-Trump is ultimately an act of philistinism.”

Even public-broadcast luminaries have weighed in with lamentations for what was known in the George W. Bush years as the in-flight magazine of Air Force One.

Politico’s Jack Shafer summed up the magacide neatly: “[Billionaire conservative Philip Anschutz] has grown tired of it. He better favors his other conservative political publication, the Washington Examiner, which his company announced plans on Monday to ‘expand into a national distributed magazine with a broadened editorial focus.’ In other words, the Standard is dying so the Examiner can live larger.”

And it’s a pretty ugly death, according to CNN’s Brian Stelter in his Reliable Sources newsletter. He obtained an audiotape of the staff meeting that Ryan McKibben, the head of Anschutz’s holding company Clarity Media, held on Friday (bold emphasis Stelter’s).

McKibben told staff that they would be paid through the end of the year, and that afterward they would receive severance which would range in scale depending on factors like seniority. To receive severance, however, employees would need to sign a strict non-disclosure and non-disparagement agreement. “I know it’s an emotional day, but I want to tell you, don’t get on social media and attack anybody because it will put your severance in jeopardy,” McKibben told employees.

Nice. When staff members tried to ask some questions, McKibben replied, “I’m not going to take questions. This isn’t a press conference.”

That attitude is very much in keeping with John Podhoretz’s lede in a Commentary piece on Friday.

The Weekly Standard will be no more. There is no real reason we are witnessing the magazine’s demise other than deep pettiness and a personal desire for bureaucratic revenge on the part of a penny-ante Machiavellian who works for its parent company.

Podhoretz seems to be talking about McKibben there. The conventional wisdom is that Anschutz refused to sell the magazine because what he really wants is to strip-mine the Weekly Standard subscriber base and transfer it to the Washington Examiner, which would fulfill the former’s circulation commitments.

That prospect led us to make a ‘Dear John’ 1-800 call and receive this Dear John email in return.

Our confirmation:

Dear Weekly Standard,

You will be missed a lot more than a hundred dollars worth.

Campaign Outsider Extra Bonus Content™ (via Politico Playbook)

Classics from the TWS archives: Matt Labash on Trump and the “Twidiocracy” … Charles Krauthammer on IBM vs. Garry Kasparov and Andy Ferguson on the Beatles

They forgot Joseph Epstein, one of the Weekly Standard’s consistent delights, who’s been remarkably prolific throughout the magazine’s life – and his own, come to think of it. (Epstein’s 2016 piece Hitting Eighty is, as even he would have to concede, thoroughly charming.)

Read it all soon: Stelter also reported that “McKibben stunned staff when he said at Friday’s meeting that ‘at some point’ The Weekly Standard’s website is ‘going to come down.'”

Penny-ante indeed.

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WSJ Beats Boston Dailies on Bulger Wrongful Death Suit

Yesterday’s Wall Street Journal featured this Zusha Elinson piece about the latest verse in The Ballad of Whitey Bulger.

Bulger Was Wary Of Prison Transfer

Boston mobster James “Whitey” Bulger seemed to have good news when he called his attorney four weeks before his death.

The 89-year-old said on Sept. 28 that he was getting out of solitary confinement at a federal prison in Florida and being transferred to a prison medical facility, according to Hank Brennan, Bulger’s attorney of seven years.

“You must be glad,” Mr. Brennan said, but Bulger replied that he wasn’t eager to go.

“The devil you know is better than the devil you don’t,” Bulger told him. “I don’t trust them.”

Less than 24 hours later Whitey Bulger was dead, “beaten to death inside his unlocked cell  at a notoriously violent federal prison in West Virginia, where federal authorities had sent him instead of a medical facility.”

Money graf:

Mr. Brennan says he is preparing to sue the government on behalf of Bulger’s estate for wrongful death and negligence to find out why authorities sent the frail, notorious gangster to the U.S. Penitentiary Hazelton in West Virginia, and put him in with the general population.

Local Bulger bloodhound Shelley Murphy drafted behind the Journal report in today’s Boston Globe.

Bulger’s family set to file wrongful death suit, report says

A wrongful death lawsuit that the estate of James “Whitey” Bulger plans to file against the federal government could end up helping the families of Bulger’s victims whose own efforts to collect from the government have been stymied, lawyers said Monday.

Bulger’s estate plans to file a suit against the government for transferring him to a West Virginia prison where he was killed by fellow inmates within hours of his arrival in late October, according to the gangster’s lawyer.

The Globe report credits the Journal in the sixth graf for those of you keeping score at home.

Crosstown at the Boston Herald, calumnist Howie Carr goes full-tilt Bulger on the Journal’s scoop.

Greedy Bulgers looking to cash in … again

The only surprise is that it took the greedy Bulger clan six whole weeks to announce that they are suing the feds – in other words, us – for the “wrongful death” of their beloved serial-killing, coke-dealing, extorting Uncle Jimmy.

How much more of our money do these shiftless, rotten hacks need? If they’re so hard up for cash, why don’t they go out and get real jobs, like the rest of us. I hear the Post Office is hiring.

The suit against the Bureau of Prisons will be filed on behalf of the family. Whitey’s closest survivor, I suppose, is his younger brother Billy, the Corrupt Midget.

Mr. Carrtoon credits the Journal in the eighth graf for those of you keeping score at home.

Drive-the-locals-nuts graf:

The Wall Street Journal kicked your ass on this one.


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Google Cloud Reigns in New York Times Edvertising Mashup

It started out routinely enough with this New York Times Past Tense California special section last month.



It’s a fascinating pictorial journey through the Times California archives, but then comes the money (screen)shot on page 2.


Okay, so what we have here is a collaboration between the Times and Google – not all that unusual in this day and newspaper age. What is unusual is how aggressively the Times is flogging the project.

This triple-truck ad ran last Monday.


And this triple-truck ran yesterday.


Here’s the intro copy from the first ad page for those of you keeping score at home.

The introduction by Walter Mosely, the photographs with their annotated “metadata” on the back – it’s all extremely engrossing and very nicely done.

But the round robin of editorial-advertising-aditorial is just the sort of State of the Cuisinart Marketing our kissin’ cousins at Sneak Adtack have been tracking for years.

In the end, is there anything inherently compromising about the Times hooking up its Past Tense series with Google Cloud? Not really.

But is Google’s nose under the tent? Sure looks that way.

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New York Times ‘The Truth’ Campaign Safeguards . . . Cooking?

For the past two years the hardworking staff has diligently chronicled the newspaper industry’s Pep Squad for Truth – those preaching-to-the-choir ad campaigns aimed at convincing the American public that real news matters.

Chief among the pom-pom crowd has been the New York Times, which has run expensive TV spots like this one on national networks.



The Times has also peppered its own pages with full-page ads extolling the virtues of journalistic watchdogging.


But now comes this double-truck in Saturday’s edition that focuses on the Times’s integrity in covering . . . pies.

Memo to Timesniks: We know that, for financial reasons, you make a distinction between content – that is, journalism – and product like NYT Cooking.

But housing both in The Truth campaign is not helping your cause.

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New York Public Library Goes ‘Full-Page Bookie’ in NYT

Any book lover has to love the New York Public Library’s full-page ad in yesterday’s New York Times.

Not only that . . .

Best of all . . .

Sign us up!

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