Friday, August 6, 2010

Resistance is Fertile: Sitting on a Red Couch chatting with Fidel

© 2007 – 2010 Michael Eastman Red Couch, Havana

Visiting Kitchen Clarity yielded this gem of a photo, Red Couch, Havana from photographer, Michael Eastman. Beautiful. It makes me want to spend time in Havana. Needless to say I have to add Havana to my list of places to visit. Look at his photos and you will find Havana's architecture is off-the-hook. I appreciate the faded opulence with rustic communism. Then you have these moorish detail and Caribbean colors, audacious but perfect contrasts. Pale blue walls with a red couch. I am certain my red Kitchenaid Artisan blender will look great with my pale wall.

Oh Fidel
, I am so sorry my bourgeoisie house-wifishness is showing. What I mean is blue, green, white, and red are revolutionary combos and neutral colors are counter-revolutionary.

Michael Eastman also has Abstractions. Here is one of my favorites, "Resistance is Fertile." Indeed it is - a play on "Resistance is Futile". Saying that resistance is fertile is so hopeful as it is subversive.

While I think that simply tagging is mindless and evil vandalism, thoughtful and clever graffiti that makes a statement is acceptable. It is often inspired when it is an act of media or culture jamming. Surfaces that have layers of posters, paint, and graffiti have a certain beauty to them. They are multi-sourced collages of urbanity. They add color and food for thought. In films as well as real life it is the way for the streets to mumble and make graphical shouts of resistance. Sadly, I haven't come across any inspired graffiti in very long time.

Then there is the nature of resistance. What are you resisting, what can't you resist? Do we even know how to resist anymore?

We were nearly reduced to a landscape of lost hobos by a financial system that allowed no resistance against the forces of consumerism. If you couldn't resist that new 50k-70k kitchen it was okay you could always borrow against your house. It used to be what helped people resist buying something was that they couldn't buy it until they had enough money to pay for it.

A young relative once sold us a used vehicle in a pinch. In order to take our check they had to do a credit check. She fluttered back to us chirping that with our high credit rating we could buy a pair of NEW Escalades! The reason why we could is because we don't do things like buy twin Escalades. One of our friends called their credit union and found out he could borrow a five figure sum and was psyched that he could buy a sporty utility vehicle. It was like an old joke that goes, "How can I have run out of money, I still have checks!"

It is like the 1990s where people were making purchases on paper money that was merely paper money on a whole precarious house of cards. People made fun of me for not investing entirely in tech stocks. It is like how a whole generation of people were using their homes as ATMs, and looking down on us for not following suit and keeping up at night. Later, I got to witness the wicked aftermath of the downturns and the effect they had on people and communities around me. I got angry after this latest downturn as it effected me even though I played no role in it and tried to warn people of the coming downturn and what they were doing was based on crazy wishful thinking.

Blue Window Grid by Michael Eastman

Why is this all boiling to the surface today, Fidel? It was a thread on Gardenweb, a forum for home improvement (which is just another way to encourage the anti-revolutionary consumerism), about counters. It starts with a question about how far to go when there is no pressing need, but a desire to refresh the kitchen. There was a spouse who also wanted to work on another room as well and wanted to wait to do anything significant with the kitchen. Formica was brought up as an option. There was granite, she only liked the granite that was at the top of the price range. You could tell that there was a significant coven of those who love granite and were trying to convince her that granite was better than Formica and her husband is just being cheap. It is one thing to prefer granite. It is another to make judgments on those who choose Formica or a laminate over the trendy granite (a material I don't even like and is not appropriate for all kitchens).

It is with a certainty I tell you that there are hundreds if not thousands of foreclosed homes and people who are house-poor that granite is a cold comfort. If I went with granite and later my family had to go without because I spent part of our cushion on it, I couldn't look at it without a sense of shame. When I look at Formica, I can look at it guilt free. $500.00 bucks as opposed to $5k. Oh, that's easy.

After this thread, getting Formica is a form of resistance. It is a resistance to this mentality that we should all have neutral colored, over-sized granite kitchens that look like what all the magazines and television shows (I am looking at YOU HGTV, guilty pleasure that you are!).

New battle cry: F*ck that, I'm getting Formica! Viva Le resistance!

Now I would love to do concrete or Earthcrete (it is not shiny like granite) counters, floors, sinks, and fireplaces and just go crazy refacing my house and do the backyard with a pool. It would be beautiful. I do not need that to be happy. It is not a need, but a want. More likely it is stuff of a really involving fantasy. I see how people, even I, blur the distinction between want and need. The difference is that I slap myself out of it and keep it a fantasy. It would surely be a turn on to turn our house into a work of art. I am just going to scale it down so when the revolution starts I will be passed over by the masses for the counter-revolutionary granite owners.

It is no secret I have a luxury real estate fetish. The sexiness of the properties I love isn't the prestige or necessarily the opulence. The 20 million and higher properties tend to be too garish for me. Around 3-10 million can get you a place with history and beautiful architectural features that is absent from the countless hills of McMansions. The attraction is often location -- Paris, an ocean, Merrikesh, Istanbul, Southern France, and Southern Italy. My fetish is for craftsmanship that has disappeared perhaps as far back as the Industrial Revolution. My fetish is for evidence of the artisan. It is also just a fetish of a person who loves looking at pretty things but through the eyes of someone who is unconventional. I had a needlepoint of Lenin hanging over my son's changing table.

Resistance is fertile because it gives birth to new possibilities, new thinking, and new attitudes. It frees you from conventional, cookie cutter little boxes. Resist and see what happens.

Not surprisingly, one of my many fantasies involves running the revolution in halls and parlors of exquisite architecture or being a vagabond being able to move from luxury villa to luxury schooner to vintage teardrop trailer. With henna'd hair and tattoos, smelling of vintage perfume, and wearing comfortable shoes I am looking forward to going on a journey whether it is outward or inward. Wanna come along?

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