Friday, July 22, 2005

Bailey on BORF

Bailey, Bailey, Bailey...

The following article was intended for publication in the Washington Post upon the arrest of its anonymous writer, James W. Bailey, on charges of aiding and abetting the graffiti artist known as Borf. The article was leaked by a confidential source within the White House (Karl Rove) to DC Art News and is being published in advance of the arrest of Mr. Bailey. DC Art News does not have a confidentiality agreement with Mr. Bailey to preserve his anonymity as the writer of this special contribution to the Washington Post and is therefore publishing it in its entirety.
"For Those Too Young to Die (Yet Too Old to Tag), We Salute You!"
by James W. Bailey

(Washington, D.C.) Minutes after the once-elusive graffiti artist known as Borf was transferred from Metropolitan D.C. police to the U. S. Marshall’s Service for extradition to Camp X-Ray in Guantanamo, Cuba, several hundred of his young angry disgruntled disciples had a message for those outraged by Borf’s graffiti.

"This is just the beginning!" chanted the mob as it hurled empty spray paint cans toward a frightened Mayor Anthony Williams who was standing linked arm-in-arm with shell-shocked federal officials outside the Municipal Courts Building. "Now even more rich suburban kids from Northern Virginia are going to invade your city and come out in protest, so this isn't the end!”

If the mob’s intent was to intimidate the nattily dressed mayor by raising the specter of in his words "spoiled prep school elitist Starbucks latte-sipping adolescent anarchist jackasses from across the Potomac" descending on every blank wall in the city until Borf, aka Michael Tsmobikos, is freed, it didn't work.

"You wanna-be punk artists are going down the wrong path," Williams frantically screamed while dogging cardboard stencils tossed like Frisbees his way. "Don’t you disrespectful jerks realize you're destroying private property?! Don’t any of you aesthetically lacking idiots understand the value of the free enterprise capitalist system and its importance to furthering a graffiti-free environment that is safe for tourists?! Is there even one suburban brat among you who has ever read any Ayn Rand?! Don’t any of you untalented fools realize that your so-called ‘tags’ aren’t really art in the first place?!"

As laughter erupted from the swarming gang of aggressive graffiti artists, a rancorous collective response of “Free Borf! Free Borf! Free Borf!” was also rudely hurled along with other accoutrements of the street graffiti trade at Williams and Vice-President Dick Cheney, who had agreed at the last minute to appear at the press conference announcing the federalization of Borf’s criminal case.

The gang of boys assembled from Great Falls, McLean, Reston and other high income zip codes in Virginia, met Williams's and Cheney’s paternal gaze with hard, unblinking stares of their own. Either it was the boldest of bluffs or the boys who confronted the representative powers of Washington, D.C. truly believed they could summon an army of graffiti artists/taggers who would swarm over the city's unprotected walls like rats in "Willard."

Recounting the confrontation 30 minutes later in the anteroom of his office at City Hall, Williams was still angrily shaking his head about the boys' "misplaced hero worship of this punk crap artist Borf."

"Borf and those rich white boys from Virginia who helped him and who support him declared war on the city," said Williams nervously shaking his fist. Asked what he was going to do about a possible resurgence of wide-spread anti-capitalist graffiti in the city, Williams angrily waved a copy of an ordinance he first proposed to Washington, D.C. City Council two years ago, only to see it narrowly defeated.

"We're reintroducing this emergency legislation next week that will make it a felony crime for white minors who are non-residents of the City of Washington, D.C. to buy or possess spray paint, indelible markers or etching acids, as well as all the other tools these graffiti terrorists use, including cardboard for their stencils," he said. "This thing, whether it's a fad or an art form, which every sane person knows it’s not art by the way, or just plain vandalism created to incite terrorist insurrection, as I believe it is, has got to stop. And this Mayor is damned determined to stop people like Bork dead in their tracks."

Vice-President Cheney, who joined Williams in his hurriedly relocated press conference, echoed Williams sentiments and explained the federal government’s role in the Borf case: "The outstanding investigative work of the joint city and federal task force that tracked down and arrested this so-called graffiti artist has at last put an end to the terroristic actions of Borf and has effectively ended the deluded notion that Borf’s tags were a respectable form of art. Borf’s tags were clearly not art. They were coded terrorist messages that were designed to encourage intellectually gullible and emotionally susceptible children to murder their parents while asleep in their beds. Tags like “Grown Ups Are Obsolete”. Any rational American knows what that message is attempting to communicate to the youth of America. It’s also quite clear to the government that Borf’s campaign of terror against the people of Washington, D.C. was being financed by Al Qaeda. Borf himself has confessed to traveling to Europe to protest the G-8 conference. As is quite clear from recent CIA reports, Al Qaeda financed most of those protestors. Borf has therefore been declared an enemy combatant and has been transferred to Camp X-Ray in Guantanamo, Cuba, for further torture, uh, a torturous, that is a very thorough interrogation."

When asked if he had agreed to the federalization of Borf’s crimes in order to placate White House demands that were tied to an impending announcement of Presidential support of the Mayor’s efforts to secure statehood for the district, Williams bristled: "That is pure B.S.! The Mayor of Washington, D.C. does not do the quid pro quo biding of the White House when it comes to protecting the citizens of this city from terrorists like Borf. This Mayor does the right thing. And the right thing was to allow the federal government to handle Borf."

Cheney offered a similarly stern response: "Look, Mayor Williams is a hero in the effort to defeat terrorism and to secure the apprehension of this terrorist thug Borf. As we all know, federal legislation has long allowed the RICO statue to be used to federalize the cases of young African-American gang members who engage in acts of graffiti terrorism. There was a loophole in the law. No one ever really saw the day when rich white kids would be bold enough to leave their comfortable suburban stomping ground to wage a terrorizing campaign against the City of Washington, D.C. with their Al Qaeda funded messages of anarchy and anti-consumerism. Obviously, we need to have Congress immediately beef-up the current anti-gang laws that are on the books. But the allegation that President Bush somehow suggested to the Mayor that if he didn’t support the government’s position on Borf that that action would threaten future support of DC statehood is ridiculous and is blog generated propaganda being spread by Borf’s anti-American supporters to increase the mythology of Borf among extremists."

Though Williams remains an implacable foe of anti-capitalistic graffiti, he isn't without a small degree of sympathy for young men like Borf. He insists that he understands their alienation, but he's more offended that people feel they have the right to assert their identity at the expense of property owners and taxpayers who'd rather not provide their walls for someone's therapy.

"Look, I’m a human being and understand the pain of other people. Borf’s mother came to me after his arrest to say her son was innocent," Williams said. "I told her that I felt sorry for her, but that she shouldn't hold her son in awe because there's nothing exciting about that punk. Let’s get real. Borf’s not even that charismatic. And worse, he doesn't even have a single original idea he can call his own. ‘For God sakes’, I told her, ‘he reads stupid French books on B.S. philosophy by some dead guy who committed suicide named Guy Debord!’"

In a highly emotional state, with his lips quivering as he spoke, Williams continued: "Look, it’s not like Borf's protesting the War in Iraq with his graffiti. He's not doing anything to advance society or politics. And he’s especially not doing anything to advance the concept of art! Sure, some graffiti is at least interesting to look at, but not Borf’s. His stuff is all crap! And it’s certainly not real art. To Borf’s supporting art critics, I ask this: what’s Borf’s original aesthetic message? What the lasting impact of his art? Where do you really feel Borf’s place will be in the future pantheon of great artists? Borf is a gutter punk wannabe artist and that’s where he’ll always be."

When questioned about the critical legitimacy of street graffiti as a respected art form, Williams nervously continued his defensive tirade: "Look, we have all kinds of real galleries and museums in the city where you can go and see some real art. Real art has no place out on the streets anyway. Real art ought not to be out in the real world where it’s exposed to the elements and can be rained on. Any person with half a brain that knows anything about real art knows that. The Washington Post’s chief art critic Blake Gopnik doesn’t like street art. He didn’t think those Party Animals were real art, did he? So I’m in respectable company with this opinion because I don’t either. Street art is for untalented artists who don’t merit gallery representation. My advice to people like Borf is to keep your so-called art off outdoor public property and spend more time in your studio learning how to paint pictures of the Washington Monument that you can sell to tourists at the Torpedo Factory."

In an extraordinary related development, President Bush deviated from the script of his weekly press conference on Iraq, also held on the same day, to comment on the Borf situation. The following is a transcript of Bush’s remarks:
"I’m reminded that today that this young fella Borf who’s been painting these evil statements about kids killing their parents, has finally been arrested.

Terrible kid. And make no mistake here, he's a terrorist. This kid Borf.

It’s a sad day in some ways this day that’s today, with Borf being arrested. This Culture of Death thing that I’m always talking about has infected Borf and his supporters.

And some of these elitist academic art idiots... uh intellectuals call Borf’s bagging [sic tagging] art! Well, that’s just plain dumb. Bagging [sic tagging] death slogans around town is not art! Every real American knows that! You can’t spray paint a sign that says 'Kill Me Mommy' and call that art!

What’s wrong with the youth of today?

And what about that big Borf head painted over there on the bridge by the river? That was an act of terrorism. Somebody could have been killed looking at that awful thing. Could have gotten distracted and driven their car into the Potomac. We can’t have stuff like that going on in the nation’s capital.

The federal government, this President of the United States of America, has a solemn obligation to protect the people of this country from evil merchants of death like Borf.

Your President knows what good art is. I think good thoughts about good art all the time.

And good American people of good conscience know what really good art is all about too.

Borf, well, that’s not really good real art. We all know that.

It really hurts me at a very personal level that some have suggested that this President doesn’t like art. George W. Bush loves art. Laura and I have more Thomas Kindkade paintings at home in Crawford than we’ve got heads of cattle.

Your President loves art. Let me repeat it: George W. Bush Loves art. Real art that is. But Borf’s not a real artist.

Look, this President ordered his State Department to approve the selection of that great American artist Eduardo Rusario [sic Ed Ruscha] to appear at the Venice Benfoldsfive Finale [sic Venice Biennale] over there in Italy. This exhibition features some really good rock solid thought provoking contemporaneous art [sic contemporary art].

Eduardo now is a real American artist. Works with a style called Mini-anti-female-materialism [sic minimalism]. Real cutting edge stuff, man! I don’t pretend to understand it, but I just know this: Eduardo’s art ain’t telling people to go out and burn an American flag like Borf’s so-called art is doing. Eduardo’s art is not encouraging children to kill their parents.

And Eduardo’s art, well, I just think that his art is the kind of condom-draineous art [sic contemporary art] this country needs more of. We need more artists like Eduardo making more of that mini-van-ballistic [sic minimalist] stuff. That stuff makes you think, man! But it don’t make you think about things Americans ought not to be thinking too much about. You understand what I’m saying?

The American people need to know that their President loves really good contempt-for-paineous art [sic contemporary art] like the minimum-wage-unrealism [sic minimalism] stuff that Eduardo makes.

But let me also emphasize that really good American art, know matter what style it is, even good graffiti art if there is such a thing, also needs to be confined to what I call the 'WWW – white-walled world.'
A legacy of presumed guilt levied by the President of the United States of America is certainly too heavy a public burden for anyone with common sense to bear willingly. Since his arrest in Washington, D.C., many of Borf’s friends, and even some of his most outspoken critics, have raised the possibility that Borf may be the unluckiest of patsies – a Lee Harvey Oswald, if you will, of the contemporary art world. Some wonder whether the true culprits are, indeed, the growing legion of disaffected educated suburban white kids now threatening to scrawl their defiance of the law on walls in the hearts of metropolitan cities all over America in Borf's name.
James W. Bailey

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