Let me launch a preemptive strike on behalf of sensible, acculturated people everywhere in Seattle: The Cow Parade must not come to Seattle.
Haven't heard of it? You obviously weren't in Chicago last summer or in New York this summer. The Cow Parade, a.k.a. "CowParade," a.k.a. Cows on Parade, originated in Zurich, Switzerland, where some bright boy got the idea to fabricate 800 cows in fiberglass, hire crappy "artists" to decorate them, and then (temporarily) litter the city with cutesy representations of our most stupid (though most delicious) farm animal. Other bright boys in Chicago loved the idea enough to bring the concept to the City of Big Shoulders; and then New York--which hadn't ripped anything off from Chicago since Louis Sullivan invented the skyscraper--decided to become a Cow Town itself.
It's a particular irony that, during a summer when Manhattan has been enlivened by public art by Pippilotti Rist in Times Square, Jeff Koons in Rockefeller Center, Ilya and Emilia Kabakov at Midtown's 69th Regiment Armory, and Richard Long in Central Park, New York's culturally ignorant mayor and its heretofore okay-by-me parks commissioner saw the need to get behind this epitome of crappy crowd-pleasing cultural debasement. Cincinnati is currently unveiling a related project, replacing cows with pigs (and thus avoiding paying one or more of the four companies currently fighting over the right to administer art-cow programs). And given Seattle's general timing in such matters, we're sure to have a proposal on the table for a Salmon Parade sometime between now and 2002. Be ready to quash this wrongheaded notion before the first fish jumps upstream.
But here's a public art idea I can get behind: artist Lauren Holloway's proposal to put up a mural memorializing the WTO protests. The 12' by 6' piece, which was displayed in full-size mock-up form at CoCA, needs a wall to live on, preferably on Capitol Hill. Even a diehard free trader who thinks the world's poor want, need, and deserve their comparably high-paying jobs making sneakers for Nike--in short, someone like me--can see the need for an agit-prop local monument to the Battle of Seattle. Holloway and her team have turned out a nifty socialist-realism style piece, and are ready to enliven Capitol Hill with the final version; all that's needed is an appropriate, available wall. Any Naderite leftists, Buchananite protectionists, Union members, or Greenpeacers with such a wall should contact Holloway at email@example.com.
Here's an excerpted list of the acts scheduled for Memorial Stadium during this year's Bumbershoot (September 1-4): Sugar Ray, Tracy Chapman, Ani DiFranco, Ben Harper, George Clinton, De La Soul, Joan Osborne, Motörhead, Maceo Parker.
What's wrong with this list: Bumbershoot has finally embraced its tepid Adult Alternative Acoustic soul.
What's right with this list: Except for the duration of the Sugar Ray and Motörhead sets, these shows will quarantine all the bad dancers, bald-spot-and-ponytailed men, dream-catcher owners, 103.7 The Mountain listeners, peasant-skirt-wearing college girls and hemp activists in one spot for most of the festival. Meanwhile, a positive cornucopia prevails in smaller venues featuring musicians Compay Segundo, Wayne Horvitz, Amy Denio, Sleater-Kinney, the Magnetic Fields, Modest Mouse, Big Star, Jonathan Richman, Kristin Hersh, John Wesley Harding, Sally Timms, and Iris DeMent; not to mention choreographer Crispin Spaeth and poets Billy Collins, Jim Carroll, and the Typing Explosion. Assuming you can bear to miss De La Soul and George Clinton--and really, you've had enough chances to see them recently--you can give the crowds, the lines, and the bad acoustics of the stadium a miss and enjoy a swath of good stuff in a hippie-free environment!
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