My Art Show at The Guggenheim

I did this back in 2010, when I was speaking at a conference in NYC. As it happened, I had to drive because my favorite bus service was temporarily shut down, so I had the cargo capacity of a car.

My art on display at the Guggenheim May 6, 2010

This was nearly a much better photo than it is. An elderly New Yorker in a big coat with two yippy dogs on leashes walked by, leaned over and peered at the picture, found it wanting, and walked off. I was desperately maneuvering to the flank to get both the museum and my audience in the picture, but I was not fast enough.

The whole point, of course, was that there are people who glibly lie about things based on proximity or interpretation. This particular picture happened because there was a fellow in a photography forum I followed, who claimed to be a professional with “thousands of images in print” – it turned out after some digging that he had shot a photo that was featured in a real estate listings magazine – thousands of copies printed. This was my way of pointing out that the fellow was playing fast and loose with the truth; “Oh yeah, well I just got back from NYC helping take down and pack up the pieces from my one man show at The Guggenheim.” The hook baited, I waited until someone bit, then posted the image.

All of this is because of Florida Bro Ron DeSantis’ claim that he was “deployed with the US Navy SEALs.” Yeah, they were over on the other side of the base and DeSantis was a JAG (military lawyer) who was deployed kinda near them. Near enough to be “with”, I suppose.

This is all old hat, I must imagine, in a world where George Santos was not immediately thrown out of the house for his lying scamminess. DeSantis was doing it, first, though. That becomes a time machine problem because DeSantis was “with” the Navy SEALs before Santos served as the unit’s first commander.

There are plenty of republicans who have attempted to burnish their credentials as violent thugs, a little bit. You know, like JD Vance who was a marine, deployed in the (criminal) Iraq war, but was a “combat correspondent” which, I assume, means “Rear Echelon MotherFucker” (REMF) I am genuinely nonplussed by this sort of thing – am I supposed to be impressed by his military glory and assume it indicates his political acumen? Vance wrote “Hillbilly Elegy” based on experiences while he was supposedly combat corresponding. [military] By the time it was published, he was being a “hillbilly” with a degree from Yale Law School, working for Peter Theil’s venture capital group. In my opinion, he is as soaked with military glory as some of the british royals, who are titular commanders of military regiments so they can strut around events in very expensive bespoke uniforms covered with self-awarded bling. Fuck them all.

In my life I have known a few really dangerous people, like Sazz, [stderr] who killed a whole bunch of people and never bragged about it, didn’t even put it on his resume. And there was Axel. [stderr] People who have actually seen the shit, don’t strut around in the uniforms and bling, don’t write books about what humble badasses they were, etc. The military heroes I have known would prefer not to talk about it, and tend to mostly talk about how tired and scared they were.

Hopefully, DeSantis’ campaign is dying and will crawl off into some Florida swamp, to make a brief smell and then sink into the weeds. But with creeps like DeSantis, there’s an instinct to kick them while they are down, to keep them from getting back up.


  1. billseymour says

    I’m a Vietnam era veteran.  Do I deserve some kind of glory?  Hardly.  The closest I ever got to ’Nam was six months at Anderson AFB, Guam, and ten months at K-2 Air Base, South Korea.  Most of my time was spent at March AFB, California putting gas in airplanes.

    I’m no kind of hero.  I know some folks who were, and they were not happy campers (and as you might suspect, I don’t want to talk about it any further).  Although I think the world would be a better place without wars and any national military, I have to say that “stolen valor” is way beyond the pale.

  2. Peter B says

    Like billseymour @1 said I’m a Vietnam-era veteran. The first half of my two years and zero minutes in the US Army was basic training, advanced infantry training, and ½ of officer candidate school. The second half was mostly spent usefully helping a civilian employee maintain a computerized list of significant end items such as trucks and generators, not mess hall equipment.

    I was stationed in Southern Arizona about 90 miles from Tucson and 90 miles from Wilcox, Wonderland of Rocks. During that time my life changed. I married my wife (56 years and still counting) and the Army paid for the birth of our son. We lived off-post. We could see and hear cattle from one side of our 1br apartment. The hills 40 miles away were visible from our kitchen.

  3. Pierce R. Butler says

    I hope you provided some sort of cushion on that pedestal for the model (unless her name was Melania).

  4. Jazzlet says

    The people I knew who fought in WWII didn’t talk about it much, and what they did talk about tended to be things like pranks pulled on each other or in the case of my FiL the business of blowing up bridges on the way to Dunkirk (he was in the Royal Engineers). Oh and that whatever beach he was rescued from wasn’t strafed like the films showed, but that some of the other guys on the fishing boat he was on threw their rifles overboard as they thought they wouldn’t need them again. In other words they didn’t talk about most of what happened at all, and the first I knew that an uncle had been interned by the Japanese was at his funeral. Come to that the funeral was also where I heard about his post war flights over the sea in aid of developing altimeters, another rather dangerous activity.

    And yes “stolen valour” is way out of order.

  5. Reginald Selkirk says

    I attended the seal show at the Como Zoo. The seals were not enlisted, and I wasn’t really “deployed”, but that’s all I got.

  6. says

    Pierce R. Butler@#3:
    I hope you provided some sort of cushion on that pedestal for the model (unless her name was Melania).

    When I did photos of models, I usually worked with them to come up with poses they liked, i.e.: they were comfortable with. In the shot above, Chris had her legs out to counter-balance her, and got her back flat on the pedestal – her whole weight was never resting on it. Also, the pose and shot lasted under 1 second.

  7. says

    Republicans sure seem to like their stolen valor.

    Of course, they did have a few genuine war criminalsheroes, like John McCain. He was a prisoner, for a while, which hardly repaid him for dropping bombs on civilians in Hanoi during operation linebacker. But he was republicans’ idea of a hero.

    And then there are the goofy fuckers who are trying to act as though Trump is some kind of badass instead of a huffing golf cart-riding sack of blancmange with dementia.

  8. sonofrojblake says

    For various reasons I’ve known a few ex-Special Forces types (mostly A, but a couple of B). The ones who’ll mention it at all generally talk about the training, or the help into “retirement”, and almost never about their actual deployments. I got ONE anecdote about Vietnam, and that was a cautionary tale about complacency (the gist: in the entire tour, the SAS lost one guy, and he drowned crossing a river).

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