Late Night FDL: LAPD Sends Out Cops over “Incendiary” Painting

Painting as crime? Seems freedom of expression in art is subject to police investigation if it makes “someone” uncomfortable.

Well, the LAPD got curious about plein-air painter Alex Schaefer’s work when he set up his easel outside a Chase Bank building in Van Nuys, the Valley portion of Los Angeles. Shaefer told me when I spoke with him this afternoon that over the hours as he painted away, passersby stopped and chatted with him, laughing, at times bemoaning their mortgage re-fi nightmares.

Then a pair of Los Angeles Police Department patrol officers rolled up on Schaefer, who teaches at Pasadena Art Center and has exhibited throughout the city, as he was putting the finishing touches on his work which showed the Chase building with its roof aflame. Seems “someone” had glimpsed the bearded artist at work and felt


according to Schaefer’s account to the Los Angeles Times. Threatened? By a painting!? Wow.

Schaefer explained to the officers that his work was

intended to be a visual metaphor for the havoc that banking practices have caused to the economy.

As we were chatting, Schaefer told me that when he was starting out as a naive young artist he’d researched the New York art market and realized

The same players in the art market are manipulating Wall Street and the economy.

Schaefer, who does his banking at a small community bank, is working on a series of burning corporate bank building paintings which will be part of the Disaster Capitalism show at Inglewood’s Beacon Arts Building in February. Wanna bet there will be some undercover officers, possibly FBI in attendance, simply based on the show’s title? I’m gonna charge up my camera batteries for opening night now that the First Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled it’s legal to video tape law enforcement!

The First Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that “a citizen’s right to film government officials, including law enforcement officers, in the discharge of their duties in a public place is a basic, vital, and well-established liberty safeguarded by the First Amendment.”

After jotting down Schaefer’s information–minus his social security number which he declined to give–the cops left him to his easel and palette. Case closed. Time to catch some real criminals.

Schaefer had told the officers that a terrorist wouldn’t stand for hours in plain view painting his target, but apparently the LAPD disagreed and two days later a pair of plainclothes detectives paid him a visit at his apartment while he was working on another piece of art, asking

Do you know why we’re here?

Shaefer replied

Is it about the painting?

Schaefer told the Times they also asked:

Do you hate banks? Do you plan to do that to the bank?

What’s next? Investigating some kid who’s playing a cover of “Los Angeles is Burning” on the piano?

Schaefer showed the detectives some of his work and discussed the meaning behind them. And then they left. Which is good news.

Even better news: Schaefer is capitalizing on the police visits and subsequent press by auctioning off the piece on eBay. The irony would be if his piece ended up in a corporate collection. Plus, an attorney who read about the artist’s travails has offered his services pro bono if he has any further trouble–like when he tries to get through airport security.

Chase Burning, Alex Schaefer 2011. Used by artist’s permission

Matt Damon is Just Like Us: Bummed by Obama

Tonight in a interview with Piers Morgan on CNN to promote is new films The Adjustment Bureau, which I can’t wait see, Matt Damon expressed his disappointment with Obama. While the actor didn’t go so far as to call POTUS


that was pretty much Damon’s vibe when he expressed that he is

bummed out

by the way things have gone since the election. In his opinion Obama has

misinterpreted his mandate. He’s doubled down on a lot of things … In his State of the Union [address] he didn’t even say the word ‘poverty.’ You’ve got millions of people languishing in it.

Damon narrated the Academy Award-winning documentary Inside Job about the banking industry. He feels that a financial meltdown is

just going to happen again

because bankster firms

don’t make anything. They don’t build anything.

And the actor, who had strongly supported Obama during his 2008 run for president isn’t too happy about Afghanistan either:

I don’t think the mission there has been very well articulated.

Join the group, Matt.

What Wikileaks Shows Us–Or May–About the Internets

Many, many years ago, 76 million years ago to be exact, in a galaxy beyond the Marcabian vortexes, the internets (both of them) were in a before-spore state–the not the thought of spores, not even a logos of spores; rather the frisson of an idea which would begin to fruit with the Domain Name Scams of the 90s and the DdoS battles, the ongoing Sockpuppet Wars and of course the Freewebs Cruise which launched a gajillion hits from 2008 on.

The tools tried true by  CULT (Crazy Ultra Loony Tunes) and ANON (nice oxy- and hydro-morons in it for teh lulz; how can a nothing be a something?) laid a template for the current Wikileaks Web War, wherein a website is shut down by malicious, rapid fire hits, the nowadays equivalent of hitting AOL’s IM key repeatedly to knock someone off line.

Digby had this to say:

Wikileaks exposed the graft and corruption of a particular group of Icelandic bankers and they are being called to account for it by their people. It exposed the secretive Church of Scientology [LaFiga: The first wave of stuff from CoS was originally a doxdump on alt.rel.scientology and and mirrored elsewhere circa 1994 before there was Wikileaks; the volcanic space opera OT3 appeared online, and props need to go to 2005's "Trapped in the Closet" episode of South Park before the Wikileaks super sexy secondary big dump which thumbed its nose at the cult and stoked the fires of Chanology, itself a bunch of Anonymous] It exposed the ongoing war between China and Google (which, by the way, Joe Lieberman sees as an excellent template for the US to emulate.) And, if they don’t succeed in threatening the entire internet, we are likely to soon see a trove of communications exposing corruption in the US banking system.

What baffles me is that when a bunch of self-mythologized, basement dwelling, distance-learning, snap-crackle-pop culture munchers–though stereotypes begin somewhere–allegedly acting as individuals or with a queen-less hivemind–are seemingly at cause for allegedly Being Bad by publishing Top Sekret relidjush doktrines, and then deciding ot shut down sites, it’s

Oh noes cyber-tewwowism

and there’s prosecution. But when like, it’s Other Somebodies publishing Top Sekret dokumints and the governments don’t like them, it’s okay that there’s an organized DdoS against those Other Somebodies? Now something even uglier has happened:

Today Wikileaks encountered a new form of censorship that should make all of us shudder. Rather than being shutdown at the web hosting level, EveryDNS shutdown the domain name.

Maybe it’s not “organized”, but just a tribillion of self-mythologizing individuals all butthurt at Wikileaks for as many reasons as they have Cheeto stains, all sleepy hollowed and riding the refresh button. And some I bet wish they’d thought of it, cuz the click thrus must >9000. Think of the stats!

And where exactly do some of these people work who do all this neato stuff?  For whom? And what do they do in their spare time?

And wow, how many mega-cloud servers are there? Can a site get effectively disappeared because Lots of Corps & Govts don’t like it? Can it be renamed and mirrored and hidden? It’s happened before–giant games of whackamole, but that was before white hats got hired as experts, some who might have costumes and coats of many colors.

In any case, It’s from the Internets, expect It. They are never gonna give you up.