PEOPLE Make a world of difference ! We’re proud of our employees and their contributions to your success and ours. Call us for quality printing, binding, mailing and data processing services. Get to know the people at Futura. FUTUKA P.O. Box 17427 Austin, TX 78760-7427 389-1500 COMMUNICATIONS, INC “BAD,” he says, “is something phony, clumsy, witless, untalented, vacant or boring that many Americans can be persuaded is genuine, graceful, bright, or fascinating.” “Plain bad,” he goes on, “is something like a failing grade, or a case of scarlet fever, but BAD is something phony, witless, and vacant that hype attempts to persuade is genuine, graceful or fascinating. ” He infers that Johnson’s work is conning us, and in an entire chapter on public sculpture, ranks lifelike metal figures with the Statue of Liberty, the Mt. Rushmore Presidents, the outsized gold tinted head of Kennedy in the Kennedy Center and the ten foot statue of Franklin in a firehouse in Philadelphia. They all “… try to earn easy awe; … they satisfy the national yearning for kitsch; they are third-rate, pretentious unimaginative, our native version of Soviet Realism, designed for our peasant class, the culturally aggrieved and uneducated.” Fussell, a Menckenesque crusader against bunkum and pretense and fraud has gone from discriminating literary and art criticism to cleverly biting social commentary \(CLASS, a previous best-seller, exposed Americans’ title of America’s fussiest old curmudgeon. Yes, curmudgeon. What else would you call someone who can’t get a laugh from seeing a man, bronze or real, solemnly holding a fishing line into the river in downtown San Antonio? He, by golly, is not with it … so far out of the scene that he writes a book defining what is bad really bad, and BAD without mentioning the black vernacular BAAAAD. \(Which There; I guess I told him. But still. . . I find myself laughing and nodding in agreement as Fussell rips into the long list of other things which nag him with their phoniness. \(Large menu cards; wallpaper made to look like shelves of books, the use of dialogue for conversation, of segue for proceed, the use of he after a preposition in an effort to sound educated “It is time for he and Ito meet.” We’ve “Plain bad has always been with us.” Fussell says. “In Rome there was certainly a chariotwheel maker who made bad wheels, a wine seller who dealt in crappy wine. Introducing sawdust into breadstuffs is a time-honored practice, but it becomes BAD when you insist that the adulterated bread is better than any other sort.” He gives us examples we recognize immediately. From A to Z he debunks everything that makes our culture ours: BAD advertising, \(using the word luxury is bad; joining it to motor car saying “For your convenience, this plane is divided into smoking and non-smoking sections” instead of BAD banks, BAD books, BAD colleges, BAD conversation, BAD food, \(tasteless gravy is bad; candy-coated pretzels and sugary beer comics vs. lavish use of color and pictures on a front page of television \(news shots where events are sentimentalized or melodramatized; public TV which makes a pretense of not taking ads yet spends more and more time eulogizing the projects of Fussell’s view is not as elitist or apolitical as it seems. His cranky iconoclastic blast at American taste has obvious significance for those concerned about issues in the coming presidential election. Much of his litany is amusing, but in a final chapter, \(“The Dumbing of outrage, that the epidemic of bad taste and dishonest workmanship in America is the result of the increase of adult literacy \(60 million cannot read at all, another estimated 60 million read such an uneducated, unenlightened population to be anything but philistines who glorify the BAD and can’t distinguish between what is real and what is phony in politicians’ statements? He concludes, finally exposing his political opinions between the chuckles, that BAD is here to stay. Nothing will curb it: not raising capital gains taxes; not blowing up teachers’ colleges; not writing English and other languages with taste and subtlety; not giving diners the Continued from pg. 13 son, beware that what you are getting now you won’t get later. Or, if you are among the 10 million in the lowest income bracket, you fall into the buy-now, pay-later camp in other words you could owe money next April. There is also the question of lost revenue for the government. If the IRS is not bringing in $25 billion this year that usually comes out of your paycheck, that means the Federal government is going to need to raise that money. So Treasury will have to borrow those funds, which could drive interest rates higher, and again slow the economy. But the word is that interest rates won’t increase. The person who has the most control over where interest rates go is Federal Reserve Board Chairman Alan Greenspan. He is appointed by the President and confirmed guts to say, after the manager at BAD restaurants has asked them if they’ve enjoyed their dinner, “No”; not developing higher standards of courage and discipline for our military; not abandoning bragging and post-Cold War self-congratulation; not starting a new CCC; not improving the literacy of public signs and of public sculpture.. . This is where we started. The reference to public sculpture again in the final statement, saddens me. If I, so obviously a person of supremely good taste, highly educated, liberal, enlightened, if I insist on presenting those six BAD statues to my city, what hope is there that any of his other and more fundamental criticisms will be heeded? No hope at all, he says, and “… Because these things are not likely to happen, the only recourse is to laugh at BAD. If you don’t you’re going to have to cry.” Nevertheless, Fussell’s little book is a witty expose and summary of the pretentious, overwrought and fraudulent in America. Uncomfortable though it may make us \(creepy, by the Senate and has been lowering interest rates at the kind of pace that is considered fast even on Wall Street. These lower rates are another consumer initiative. If the tax cut is not enough to buy that new car, go ahead and borrow the money for it now while the rates are cheap. After all, even Alan Greenspan can’t lower interest rates forever. In the long run, the election-year tinkering will make much less of an impression on the state than the flows of Federal money into Texas. The $150-billion highway bill that was signed last year was certainly an improvement from the past, because with it Texans were getting about 94 cents back for each dollar they sent to Washington. But the highway bill is still the exception, as Federal funding seems to hit just about every state before it reaches Texas. 20 MAY 22, 1992
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