A Sumtyme Blog of Knowthing

Freedom to be human

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art belongs to those who need it

I became saddened when I read this:


Disney has halted sales of a costume inspired by its upcoming “Moana” movie after being accused of racism.

The costume is based on Disney’s animated depiction of Maui, a key figure in Polynesian oral tradition. It featured full-length brown trousers and a long-sleeved shirt covered in “tattoos,” as well as a “skirt” made of leaves. Traditional tattoos are imbued with deep meaning in Polynesian culture. Chelsie Haunani Fairchild, who described herself as Polynesian and a native Hawaiian, said the costume was an example of cultural appropriation. It was wrong to sell a costume that allowed children to pretend to be another race, she said.

“It’s disgusting,” she said in a video posted to YouTube. “This is inappropriate, and it’s not okay.”


Cultural appropriation–how about the ”twelve bar blues, ”– should we tell Rolling Stones, or Bob Dylan or Stevie RayVaughn they cannot play this music? How about  free markets,  due process of law, individual rights, freedom of speech and Habeas Corpus? do we tell nonwhite people they cannot use these institutions? Did Picasso not have the right to paint Les Demoiselles d’Avignon because he used african masks for his inspiration? Do we tell African American women they cannot dye their hair blonde or straighten they hair? or white women they cannot cornrow their hair? Should Merle Travis not  pick his wonderful  version of ”Freight Train?”

It is human nature to be curious, when people see things they like they may be influenced to try it, to create new things and freedom means people get to do what they want,  within the law. This human norm makes the world a better place and even  kids seeing these tattoos, most will forget the experience, some may be have a racist attitude and some will be inspired and influenced to make a contribution to the world. And because we are human we get all three.

For the most part political correctness is people making a rule based on how they think others should behave regardless of what it is to be human. I do not support bad behavior by suggesting its “human” and we should live with it because it is ideas of what better behavior is” that do provide a vision to make changes which can improve  society but political correctness is not a vision of making society better, but a psychological mechanism which some individuals use to make themselves feel  better at the expense of another.

Art belongs not to those who make it nor to those who buy it.  Art belongs to those who need it.

Some  years ago I walked up out of the subway at the Powell Street station —I have tried all my life to sing to no avail and I really like music but I cannot sing—and the first person I saw was a middle aged man, drunk, ragged and torn clothes, teeth  decayed or missing, open sores, he smells of feces and urine, AND he is singing with the voice of which I wish so hard I had 5% of his capability. For me to hear that wonderful voice was emotionally moving and I am thankful of those few minutes. He was not white, do I have no right to enjoy what he has to offer.

I wish his life was not full not suffering but I still remember the wonderful feeling of hearing his voice.

san francisco building

How about some Jewish (white?)  guys writing a musical  for African Americans to  perform? So many times I have heard politically correct academics condemning Porgy and Bess, and yet how many great versions of Summertime, I loves You Porgy and It ain’t Necessarily so are there  performed by so many different people from around this earth that would be missing, And its not just the song writers that made it happen, its the great interpretations from so many great musicians that made this happen. How many so incredibly personal  and different interpretations of Summertime are there? As many as there are musicians who have committed the thousands of hours it take to be a great musician and somewhere along the line that man put in his time are the number of great versions of these songs.

light misconverswayshuns withmylself

We cannot change human history and we are reaping both the good and bad in our present day society but what we have now, the mess as well as the good things, comes from the behavior of people,  most of whom were just trying to survive. We have freedom of speech,  a democracy, and laws. And thank goodness we have people who are willing to enter into controversial discussion, but we should remember  we can  have this discussion because  we have western institutions. Slavery has been an institution on this earth, probably since the time one family attacked another family and the winners did not kill everyone in the losing family.  But it was western institutions which made slavery illegal and that was 200 years ago (England) and still we cannot realize this vision,  But that 200 years ago is 200/10,000 years of human existence, which is 0.02% (or perhaps less) of the period of human existence— for 99.98% of human existence slavery has been normative behavior.

san francisco

I may not agree with the “tactics” of some others, they may not agree with mine, but I think we have the same visiion and as long as the discussion keeps happening  we can have hope.

Below, I made this image about 50 years ago when I went to pickup a friend of mine and her daughter at the day care center, I look at this and wonder where are these people now and where have we changed?

twogirls,circa 1968

or  this couple below, circa 1968, who arrived from Appalachia the night before, everything they owned in their car in ragged cardboard boxes  in the backseat along with a bunch of trash.

couple circe 1968

Even though there are some horrible things in our history which we have to deal with now, it is western institutions which enable us to to have discussion  and  to be human is not disgusting but to have hope. And “cultural appropriation” is okaybecause Art belongs not to those who make it nor to those who buy it.  Art belongs to those who need it.

art belongs to those who need it

And last, I am not telling anyone to stop dong what they think is going to help us move towards that vision, I sure have no solution except in my life I have attempted to treat others with respect and dignity which is obviously not enough.

Written by Steve

September 24th, 2016 at 2:37 pm

September reflickshuns

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Windows can provide both insight and outsight and make reality appear diskeysed but closer inspection will reveal little.

san francisco building


san francisco building

san francisco building

Classic San Francisco, and

san francisco building

a red door in Alameda.

Alameda red door

Written by Steve

September 22nd, 2016 at 5:13 am

Point of outry

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san francisco

Without a door to leave this world wide anarchy I can only look for reason from what I see in the mistfullness  of this crazy,

San Francisco buildings

The new buildings in San Francisco are  full of young coders and engineers from all over the educated world, stretching their imaginations to the skills  of their limits. Are the fruits of their labour low hanging enough to enrich everyone?

San Francisco building

Even, or odd,  in the sanctuary of my home I seek refuge in visual make believe,  In the last image the small portable radio and the magnifying glass have disappeared from my life.  Lord, where can I run to? Can I get a witness?

my home office

Written by Steve

September 11th, 2016 at 9:20 am

A mirror choice

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me again

Copies of films and tv shows are easily available for on line viewing or sale for personal libraries, which makes me wonder if people really do like to see the same  movie  or TV show over again and if they bought it how often do they view it, i.e. is it cost effective? Getting a play by Shakespeare or a PBS educational film and viewing it multiple times might seem “reasonable” but consider someone buying a  superficial (few if any levels of depth) popular movie or TV show? Are they actually watching it over and over again? Perhaps they got so moved by the original viewing that they purchased it but when seeing again, because it lacks depth, all of the viewer’s initial questions were answered and the film did not evoke new questions to be answered, which is by definition ”uninteresting.”

Perhaps two many people too interesting to themselves,

UnionSquare, San Francisco

With something like Shakespeare its many different things such as the depth of the dialogue, the levels of the stories, and comparing different actors in a same role” How did A play Hamlet as compared to B? Or the words themselves have multiple meanings which need to be heard multiple times and as the acting may be different from actor to actor, more multiple meanings/questions are evoked in the viewer creating an interest to have them answered. These plays have a depth in that even when the same lines are acted on the same stage by the same people— i.e.seeing a film of Macbeth multiple times can result in different experiences for the viewer. Most TV shows cannot do this, nor are they supposed to to that—they are supposed to be superficial. Where a Shakespeare play attracts people who have done an effort to be prepared for the experience, the

Do people purchase films which have more or less depth? How often do they watch them at home?


Football is superficial to me (I enjoyed playing sports but not watching others play), yet coaches and players may watch a film of the last game over and over again, finding something new each time though the“something new” probably has a very specific focus and purpose.

Light misconverswayshuns with my dark side

Personally I have enjoyed watching some films over again such as Maltese Falcon, La Strada, Black Rain (the Japanese film directed by Imamura Shohei), Manioca Sisteres,  Tora San and both Ozu and Yoji Yamada films and TV shows such as Ruri’s Island, Danger Man, BallyKisangel, Naked City and some Law and Order.  And obviously Tora San is not anything beyond what you see is what you get and each film is basically the same story but I still enjoy that character.

As much as I might have enjoyed Frazer, Star Trek, etc. the second time through is not so interesting. I just wonder how many people buy films or TV shows and they sit on the shelf. In the1960s I remember how manly people I knew that had Bob Dylan records and did not recognize quotes from the songs on the albums. At age 71 I no longer think about buying things, certainly not clothes, or books, CDs or even more Japanese pottery although everyday I use and enjoy what pottery I own. Who knows what has meaning to whom and why, things I enjoy others do not and vice versa and but that is one thing that makes this world interesting and benefits of capitalism in a free market.

Written by Steve

September 5th, 2016 at 10:58 am

Sudden enlightenment

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Another day of painting my house, its too hard for someone my age, I sat down with popcorn, it was 5:30, 1.5 hours before dinner, and maybe I should not eat before dinner, but I have worked hard for over four hours, so I sat down with popcorn one half of the prepared bag which I split with my son and I turned on the news and watched a report  about  Hanjin going bankrupt and no one was paying for the containers where ever they were and what ever charges they were accruing. They interviewed a truck driver out of Port of Oakland who was glad she was able to get rid of the Hanjin container on her trailer without accruing more charges or being able to get rid of it, and then who is responsible for the container and/or the contents. In this image taken  a few weeks ago, there are 29 Hanjin containers,  which are now all sitting somewhere, unwanted, probably with goods from China destined for Christmas Season sales in stores.

Post publication comment: it turns out “A British artist taking part in a Vancouver art gallery’s residency is stranded off the coast of Japan on a freighter because of the bankruptcy of a Korean shipping company.” It was one of the questions for the telephone contestant on “Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me’ this week.

And below,  another image from the 1960s, simple and  non-intrusive, just an image to say hello to the now-self from the past.

Say hi today from back then

Written by Steve

September 1st, 2016 at 10:09 pm