‘The Radiant Child’ & Fascist Fonts (See ‘Fallout’ for the visual meme)

–”The Radiant Child”

Thoughts after seeing the “movie the radiant child”.

Usually, when I write, I wish to write something good.  Something that looks deeper.  Maybe it’s some American trait, but writing simply for the art of complaining does nothing.  It simply perpetuates what is already bad and vulgar about society.  The thing about writing something bold, is that is should be loud and proud, and as audacious as the statement needs to be.

So, where does complaining change into something more potent?  Where does having a clear and well guided statement bring everything into a much more important message, and smashing the underlying repulsive context?

When it makes a point, when it’s found that one thread of villainous that rides through theme after theme, after work after work.  When it crushes the seedy taint of worthlessness that robs a work of its vitality.

For the most part, ‘The Radiant Child’ was a beautiful movie.  Sound, sights, everything that makes one feel alive and like living art.  For this reason, I tip my hat to it.

All the thoughts that it gives, all the questions about the meaning and value of solitude in a world where everything and everybody is connected.

It seems that there was something very odd about the way that life works in the mind.

All the ambition that a society goes through to have an artist at the top.  Or a top, for artists.

I remember reading something like, “What would we do if the value of a da Vinci was suddenly zero?”

What would we do indeed?

Well, we would certainly do something more…and we would come back there again.

The thoughts, the feelings, the shapes, the words.  The idea that “influence is not influence” it is simply the same idea entering a new mind.  This was a valuable point in the film.

For this alone, it is worth much.

After the film I felt extremely emboldened.  Another Basquiat quote that comes from this film is “Boom for real”.

Boom for real meaning, explode everywhere, take those elements you have and plaster them on the wall, as you like, as you see it, as it needs to be done.  As your breath takes you away.

Is the world so different from the 80s?  Maybe, maybe not.

A drunk man called me a racist the other day.  But, it had the sound of Burroughs.  It went like this:

Racist, patriot.

Is that where we are?
I think not, I think everybody everywhere these days is facing something quite more real.

An annihilation of convenience.  Languages everywhere, disappearing.  Life everywhere becoming the same boring thing, with trains and cars and telephone poles.

The internet, the sounds, the same music videos, all of it somehow all the same bland thing, with the same cultural values everywhere.

You can see the difference between then and now in one video that somehow manages to be everything horribly campy about the “new wave” movement of the 80s and yet cross cultures.
Love Glove, by Visage.
‘What the fuck is he doing in Egypt shaking a glove and shaking it in front of the natives’?

Yes, it’s ridiculous.  And it’s piggish and flaunting and nasty.  But at least there’s no nasty fonts inside of it.

If this is the truth, well, it’s a depraved truth.  Maybe, it’s just an arrogance disguised as truth.  That seems like the more difficult question to answer.

Maybe that’s the point of the war in the Middle East.  That’s the point that many don’t understand, it has to do with money and values.  Not just money, and not just values.

Pretending that it’s one or the other would just be too convenient, for everybody.  So that’s what everybody pretends…

***Money, values, art, life, sex, drugs, rock and roll, hair-styles, fashion, wigs, Warhol-Basquiat vs. Fascist Fonts.***

Seeing Warhol and Basquiat together, their works together, meant that something had been achieved-something at a level of meaning, at a level of aesthetics.  The destruction of the medium of the 1950s trash-heap of Bowling Alley-Ice-Cream-Parlor, Cupcake Betty Crocker-lies fed to every man woman and child until they were old enough for Margaritas.  All the parts of the font collection that Europe and South America and Asia and Africa had chosen to throw away.
The most sterile and Stay-puff marshmallow man fonts you could imagine.  Nothing Noir and nothing Duffy.  Because when I think of the energy that was robbed from America, I just think of the simplistic fonts that represent nothing but fascist-home-cooking.  It’s funny, because fast food, in a way, rebels against it.  Fast food fonts work for you.  They’ve evolved beyond enslaving you to your home.  They are somehow clobbering the beast of the mundane life in a different way.  They are the beast, but they’re not a beast of the spirit.  They’re merely the devil.

The kitch of bad fonts-worse than the devil.  So difficult to name, without experience in typeface it becomes a boor.  But still you can see it’s disgusting spirit hiding in the sugar and the refined flour.
Call her cupcake, then make her one. And then make her eat one.  You eat one too.

The problem with ‘the radiant child’ was just that: the animation in the beginning was fascist.  It was so anti-themical.  The film itself was an homage to Basqiat, but whoever made that animation fell into the same trap of the aesthetics of the “re-vitalized 1950s” that suddenly are so en vogue in places where…….souls are not pushed to the edge.

What was really disgusting, was to see that the radiant child was put on the small screen at the “Northwest Film Forum.”

It should have been in their big theater.  They had this shit “film made for nothing” homage to Godart in the main place.  That film was a waste.  I don’t care how bad it looks, just make it big, and we’ll deal with it.

When you see the Warhol stuff you can see the aesthetics as they moved away from , that whole thing with Roy Lichtenstien, and Ed Ruscha.  They took the status quo and moved it forward by exploding it. Everything from that pop-art world was something that had been zesty once, had lost its flavor, until MSG, speed, coffee, and inspiration could make it live again.

So zesty, salty, even sweet.  And then, with Basquiat and his t-a-p-e d-e-c-k 1980s electro hip-hop literati aesthetic, and everything changes, again.  Everything pushed onto the envelope, everything made more plastick and alive, everything made absolutely loud and free.  Tons and tons of energy.

“immediate content” was another phrase that came to the forefront from the film.  That came from Annina Nosei.  That was a beautiful line.  “His paintings had immediate content.”

That line did indeed make everything beautiful.  It explained the purpose of even the simplest potent work of art versus something that is, for lack of a better term, boring.

Especially when you think about how he let himself go…

But all that comes to the side in the end.When you see what’s been done these days everything they did does look like Da Vinci, Leonardo.

The things these days that mass consumer culture implies: the sterile, the harmless, the false friendliness, the shit-without-the-anal, the simple, the reusable.  (just think of what Fallout 3 mocks in it’s intro)
The most disgusting part of everything that’s ever been designed, put forth anew.
It’s amazing how they can ever do it so badly, but they do.

I saw an ad for hotmail in Seatac the other day.  It promoted hotmail as “the new busy.”
Slaves.  Hotmail is for slaves.  That’s what they’re saying.  When you’re the new busy, get in line, slave.
And when I see their marketing working this way, I see them hunting for nothing but slaves.
Slaves to the god-damn TV, cupcakes, vegan-bacon, the Espn macho aesthetic for nerds.
Why not put the new busy signs as decoration for Les Schwab tire stores?
The aesthetic is complete – black rubber and yellow and red.  Eat popcorn, drink shitty coffee, and drive fast, new-busy.
Sometimes you need a little pressure to keep moving.

The rest of the time every other piece of design is so clean, you wonder how they can manage this tightrope for long.  They design something cleanly, and then they make it as opaque and useless as possible.

“The new busy.”
FUCK the new busy.

The old busy was always busy because they knew they were going to die.

“That’s the best thing about life, keeping busy.”

A quote from Warhol’s “Angels, angels, angels.”  The most disturbing and yet wonderful book of quotes you could imagine.  The whole book might be imagined.  Apparently, the book about him was.

But it was real enough to make people think.  Basquiat did the same.

In essence, outside of some films, and some journalism, nothing makes people think these days.  The aesthetics all do the same thing, they mildly entertain but lack inspiration.

IN-SPIRATION.  Inspiration.  INSPIRATION.  Whispered over, and over, and over in the tiniest and grandest of spaces near and far, echoing in your ear.

Take it where you can.  Smoking cigarettes.  Drinking.  Booze.  Marijuana.  Sex.  Whatever.  It all seems so bland when the background is nothing but this ever-present drone of bad design, bad aesthetics, bad un-original Helvetican monstrosities.  Mind numbing ALL CAPS writing that just screams idiocy.

It is a sad thing that Kubric and Orson Wells are dead.

Everything aping a past which is worse than any of what the “mad men” episodes can imagine.

Most art out there disgustingly nostalgic for worthless pieces of shit.

At least for Warhol and Basquiat they had something radical.  Even Kieth Harring with his odd weird stick figures had something to push for.

Now, everything just seems like sad aping in bad taste.

I feel that is what Basquiat and Warhol were fighting for — the right to be free of bad taste.  The right to be surrounded by energy in it’s truest forms, to be surrounded by creation, by life.  The right to push themselves into new horizons of imagination and bliss.  Not only the right, but the freedom, the liberty, the creation of a life where they could find meaning not because it was fed to them, but because they made it.  Always careful to see what they were really seeing, and always careful to say what they were always saying.

It’s a terrible thing to have good taste around so much bad.  No wonder they both felt used.  Warhol by the commercial establishment and their bad taste, and Basquiat by the ignorant and the politicians.  Bad taste and bad manners.  Always so silly, and so terribly, frighteningly real.

I remember confronting bad taste and bad humor as well.  It’s always such a frightening thing.  Taking the most energy every.  But then in the end, you become used to it, at looking for the cracks where they exist, at ignoring the completely ignorant.  AND, at leaving people room to think for themselves.  It’s a habit, but one that’s hard to cultivate.

Now I think it’s all a balancing act.  Julian Schnabel talked about having the “tools” to deal with success and paranoia and money.  I think he’s right.  It does require tools.  Very real ones, but tools of the mind and heart.

Those of generosity, of faith in the awe of the universe.  Faith, in the awe of life.  Those things will always bring you to good taste.

In this era there is nothing more awe-inspiring than success.  Nothing more awe-inspiring than joy and happiness.   Nothing more awe-inspiring than nature.  And we all still wonder where we came from.

To ponder to think to dream to love.
“Boom for real.” was another quote that came from Basquiat, from the film…

Tear away the clutter.  Tear away the hatred.  The insidious ignorance of the past, present, and future.  Tear away the greed and the stinky, stinky loathing that just turns a party…
into a frown.

There is beauty everywhere.

When I think of this city and the things that make it exciting, the only thing is really the stars.  Here I feel closer to them than I do in many other places, even though, in the city, I only see one or two in the evening.

Those stars, this planet, and the future to be make me very excited.  There is going to be something far beyond all the bad ridiculousness of this age.

Dave Chapelle uses the word ridiculous far to often.  But again, those are the times we live in.


The one place where the Basquiat movie fell to the floor was in the beginning.  With the “Cool Jazz” fonts that were dropped onto the screen in the introduction.  The beginning starts out with everything so slovenly nostalgic–using Jazz as the introduction.
But when you look at any of Basquiat’s paintings, not one letter, not one piece of font is wasted on being nostalgic.  It’s all his own.  He started with words, he used them, he had his own font.


The introduction of his film was nothing but “SAMO”  That’s what SAMO was…

Give me something real, something sensitive, something alive.  Drops of ink with words that are meant to do something to INTENSIFY.

That ink, that paint, that spirit.
The ink, the paint, the spirit.
It all goes so quietly into the night.

It was all beautiful.
And old man and his cigarettes.
A young man and his complaints.

I was happy when I realized I could see the same verve and swish in  Basquiat’s paitnings….as I had seen in those of Raul Duffy.

I guess they were both, “Booming for real.”


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