Joe Plumber

Started the night off here (pictured above, planted on the couch with friends and long-term documentary subjects Tripp Wallin and Zach Spencer) watching what could be the most patronizing amalgamation of soundbites in the last 48 hours of television history.  You know, the whole 'Joe Plumber' exchange in which we are introduced to "the nation's everyman." Apparently the protagonist of this little fairy tale is concerned about his taxpaying role as an average, ordinary, regular guy earning the meager scrap wage of a quarter million dollars annually. (awesome work on the 'everyman' verbage there, Fox News)

For anyone who missed that --the figure, again --is a quarter million bucks.  And that number, according to the McCain camp, sits firmly among the rolls of the American middle class.

So, I guess, in an era where '30 is the new 20' it must also follow that $250,000 is the new $35,000... and $35,000 is the new $12,000 and so on.  

The thing about politics is that these snarky little soundbites --the way the public gets to peek through the periscope from which our politicians look back at us --leave a lot of room for cynicism.  For me, it's a tough to walk the tightrope over that alligator pit, trying to keep in mind that the promise that I'm looking for is not necessarily about the bottom line on my income taxes, but rather how that number translates back into the living, breathing people of a stripe a little more ordinary than our quarter million dollar plumber.


Thankfully, where the politicians fall off the sincerity wagon, it's always nice to be able to count on the cultural front to pick up those pieces and put them back in their rightful places.  Read a good interview in The Onion yesterday with David Byrne in which he talked about the role of sincerity in music (and, in my opinion, art, literature, culture, etc.)  He says: 
"When you see or hear a singer or a performer who has this incredible charismatic gift or this incredible voice --who could sing the phonebook and make you cry --they often fall into performing or recording substandard material, because it's so easy for them to pull it off.  Whereas somebody who has to try harder, and you can sense that in their performance, you kind of believe it a little bit more."
For anyone who doesn't like to read, you can see Bill Hicks express this same idea (with a little more, um, clarity) here.  Townes Van Zandt plays it here.  The obscure and fantastic Friends Forever gang do it here.  

Or you could have just gone to the show last night at Denver's Glob and watched four of the most intense and honest sets that have been played to an audience of 15 (and, no doubt would have played the same to an empty room).   Unlike politics, the currency of culture is real people and the value of each denomination is measured in terms of sincerity, honesty, congruency between person and art, the way we want to believe of the artist that the product they create is born of a compulsion, of something greater than themselves --that the result is honest because it couldn't have happened any other way.  I guess, when it's all said and done, we want to believe that when a tree falls in the woods, and there is nobody around to hear it, that it still makes a noise.  

And after last night, I'm quite certain that it does.

Photographer and musician, Sean Chisholm, of experimental noise band, Vampire Pussy, setting up for his show.  (Also pictured above during his set)
The Judy Experience.  Saxophone-playing-goat-mask-wearing-multimedia show.


max bittle said...


i finally saw that townes documentary a few weeks back. damn......

the man lived hard.

hope your well dude.


Semana OnĂ­rica said...

It´s weird...

I just found out we have the same last name.

Adam Welch said...

Hey Matt, I just subscribed to your blog. I would have subscribed months ago if I were with-it technologically. Those shots of Arapahoe county that ran in Time were really top notch stuff. Also, your polaroids from all your recent work are really going to hit it big. I see gallery space in NYC --Obama accepting the nomination, the kid with the snake in Aurora... These are the best pics I have seen for some time.