Thursday, May 27, 2010

Median Housing Prices, Median Income, and what $350,000 will get you!

I've begun shopping for a condo.  This is not a fun process in greater Los Angeles mainly because I know I could be buying a giant house for the same price I'll be paying for a 2 bdrm condo.  And for the record, Los Angeles isn't that it's not really worth the difference.  In fact, I fantasize regularly about moving to cooler locales.  As such, I love nothing more than to look at real estate in other areas of the country.  Below are some price comparisons.

I'll be using $350,000 as a price point for comparison (give or take $10,0000).  And I will be selecting homes that based on pics appear desirable to ME.  I like homes with character.  Travertine tile can suck it!  As such, in many cases, I chose a home that looked a little cooler even when one that was bigger and newer was available for the same price.

So...with we go!  Oh...I'll also be adding median household income and median house/condo value data for all cities...just for fun.  (All this data was collected from, with the exception of Sherman Oaks, which was collected from

Beverly Hills
Estimated median household income in 2008: $93,327
Estimated median house or condo value in 2008: $2,590,563

Asking price for these side by side lots: $350,000

Pasadena, CA
Estimated median household income in 2008: $57,796 
Estimated median house or condo value in 2008: $652,400

You can get this 3 bdrm 1 bath house 1155 sq. feet  in a less desirable area of town which is listed at $349,900. 

And you'll have to buy your own appliances after closing!  And I have no idea whether that space is for the range or the fridge.  Probably the range.  But then where does the fridge go??

Sherman Oaks, CA
Median Household Income is $57,680
Median Home Price is $601,424

$360,000 for this 2 bdrm 1 1/2 bath townhouse, 921 square feet.  Location is decent but in a generic concrete jungle suburbia sorta way.  Hey it's the legendary San Fernando Valley.  I actually went and saw this place.  Nice enough...but kind of SMALL!!!

And lots of money went into the kitchen, which is fully upgraded with all the cliche crap that people like these days (granite countertops, stainless steel appliances).

Indianapolis, IN
Estimated median household income in 2008: $43,652
Estimated median house or condo value in 2008: $125,500

For $345,000 you can get this 4 bdrm 3 bath 5,142 square foot house in the highly desirable historic district of Woodruff Place, which was the city's first suburb, established in 1870.  This house was actually built in 1865 and it has all the exposed wood details common to Victorian homes.  Now I'd have to tear down that wallpaper...but this place is just gorgeous; and it has one of those wrap around porches that I LOVE!

 Austin, TX
Estimated median household income in 2008: $51,372
Estimated median house or condo value in 2008: $210,600
Not so familiar with different areas of Austin...but the city is beautiful.  You can have this very cute 2 bdrm 2bth 1180 square foot bungalow for $349,000.  This place is full of character and I love pictures anyway!

French doors. YAY!  And I gotta admit the bright color on the walls is working for me!  The floors look like they are probably original and are quite stunning as well.

New Orleans
Estimated median household income in 2008: $37,751
Estimated median house or condo value in 2008: $194,300

Here's the outside of this historic Victorian 3 bdrm 2 bath, 1844 square foot bungalow that lists for $349,000.  I'm not sure about the location.  But it's over 100 years old.  The inside is a little over updated for my tastes...but it's still pretty cute.

This is the kitchen.  I'm a sucker for exposed brick.  And while the kitchen is a little too cookie cutter for my's certainly usable.

Portland, OR
Estimated median household income in 2008: $50,979
Estimated median house or condo value in 2008: $310,900

This very cool mid-century modern ranch style home 3 bdrm, 2.5 baths and 1820 square feet is listed for 289,000...and it has loads and loads mid century charm...

...including decade appropriate cabinetry and an original pink range, which I love!  And that fireplace is rad!

Chicago, IL
Estimated median household income in 2008: $46,911
Estimated median house or condo value in 2008: $287,500

For 349,900, you could have a 2 bdrm 1 1/2 bath condo in this converted church/school, which is kind of rad.  The kitchen updates on this one are BAD...but it has exposed pipes and a loft layout and lots of exposed brick, so there's something to work with.

Memphis, TN
Estimated median household income in 2008: $37,207
Estimated median house or condo value in 2008: $99,900

I actually quite like Memphis.  And what a musical history it has.  You can have this 3 bedroom, 2 bath bungalow, built in 1931 for $299,900.
Again original floors that look sweet!  Unfortunately the original wood trim has been painted white.

New York City
Estimated median household income in 2008: $51,116
Estimated median house or condo value in 2008: $543,900

For $350,000, you can get this 1 bdrm, 1 bath 629 square foot condo.  It looks alright but I am not familiar with the location.

Fargo, ND
Estimated median household income in 2008: $41,181
Estimated median house or condo value in 2008: $147,200

For $328,000 you can get this 2 bdrm, 2 bath 1939 square foot condo that is the upstairs of one of an old town building.  Built in 1917, the place is completely updated with all the generic fixings...but it's also got tons of exposed brick, and tall ceilings with exposed pipes.  This is probably the single coolest place I've found so far.


Wednesday, May 26, 2010

American Classics

I'm on a mid-century kick lately.  Last night I spent an inordinate amount of time online looking at classic cars for sale.  They just don't make 'em like they used to.

This 1956 Ford Crown Victoria Glass Top is a perfect example.  This is an award-winning car and apparently the glass top is a rare and highly sought after feature amongst classic car enthusiasts.  I just love the matching two tone interior and exterior and the chrome trim and the white walled tires - it's just gorgeous.  Unfortunately, a classic in this condition costs more than a house. 

Here's a more affordable option.  This 1956 Ford Sunliner features two toned shades of aqua (my favorite color) and the same chrome trim and white walled tires at just 2/5 of the price of the glass top.  This is still more than I'll be able to afford anytime soon.  But I love it so so much!  And a girl can dream RIGHT!!!

Here's the the one above,  it's two-toned...and so stylish.  Can you imagine getting it on in the backseat of one of these???  Or, what about taking this on a cross country venture.  That would be a dream come true for little ole me!  

Click the links for the

Friday, May 21, 2010

Elvis Dances Like a Girl and Shirley Manson Scowls Like a Man

I feel very fortunate to have come into adulthood in the 90's in part because there were some pretty kickass women finding success in the traditionally male dominated world of rock.  To be fair, I've always loved male driven rock for its cock-centric focus. I mean, I'm a heterosexual woman, and seeing such male-ness spotlighted is undeniably appealing.  But, I've never bought into the idea that rock music and culture are innately male in form.  In fact, far from strident reinforcement of male/female roles, rock's most interesting artistic contribution to modern society has been it's rebellion against traditional gender codes.  This goes back to Elvis's Ed Sullivan performance, when the network refused to show Elvis from the waist down because of his inappropriate dance style.  His fearless display of solo dancing, an activity seen as feminine in the 50s, felt threatening to a society built on strict gender-based behavioral codes.  Elvis's desire to be watched as he engaged in such gender-bending behavior, only further feminized him...and threatened the very behavioral codes on which 50's culture relied.

Even at it's most masculine, rock 'n' roll has always been a little more feminine than is usually suggested in analytical texts.  Having said that, it has usually been men who enjoyed the most success as performers, while women, aside from the a few chosen ones like Janis Joplin and Grace Slick, were viewed as novelty acts. However, in the 90's, it really felt like women were starting to gain legitimacy as performers.  The Riotgrrl movement receives lots of press in feminist circles.  But the 90's also saw a slew of female rockers transcend such "movements" and find grand scale success.  This was important because movements are usually  marginalized.  Moreover, Riotgrrl was largely a regional I learned of only years later.  As such, I feel little more than mild kinship with the movement.  But the women that follow mattered to those of us who weren't fortunate enough to grow up in hotbeds of feminist subversion.      

Shirley Manson - Garbage.  My personal favorite performer from the 90's by a long long shot.  Her style wasn't that iconic but her presence was equal parts menacing and enticing.  True she had a powerhouse band of boys behind her.  But she was the real star when all was said and done.  She continues to growl and prowl with the best of them.

Courtney Love - I know she has a lot of enemies.  And I know she's always relied on outside help to write songs...whether she was stealing Kurt Cobain's riffs, or "co-writing" with Billy Corgan.  But she has a great big rock 'n' roll personality that rivals any guy that ever played; and anybody who tells you that doesn't matter or shouldn't matter is full of shit. 

Gwen Stefani - to be honest, I've never been a big fan of Gwen's voice.  But her pairing of tomboyish fashion and energy with extremely feminine hair and makeup created a symbolic link between girlishness and strength and expanded the conceptual understanding of femininity; and that was inspiring and important.

Liz Phair - "Everytime I see your face I think of things unpure unchaste.  I want to fuck you like a dog, I'll take you home and make you like."  Gotta love Liz for that lyric alone.  She was a little wisp of a thing that talked like a lot lizard and dared to write an entire album offering a female counterpoint to the Rolling Stones Exile on Main Street.  This is subversion at its finest. 

PJ Harvey - she has become the mark against which every dark haired girl who plays rock guitar with blues influences gets compared...because you know we're all alike.  But hey, if we're gonna get compared to someone, we couldn't ask for anyone better.

Tina Turner - Ain't no one who's rocked harder or for longer than Tina Turner - male or female.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

First I Rock. Then I Golf.

I like to play golf.  Some people probably think golf is the most un-rocker activity one could engage in.  But really rock 'n' roll and golf are both boy's clubs.  And I've never met a boy's club that I didn't try to infiltrate.  So, while it's true you probably won't see Courtney Love on the golf course anytime soon...I consider my love of the game a mini-rebellion against the rocker cliche and an example of my lifelong interest in all things boys.  Besides, I'm not the only rocker who loves golf.  Alice Cooper plays too.  He even wrote a book about it.

Equal to my love of the game itself, is my love for golf fashion...especially vintage golf fashion.  Old photos of boys in knickers and newsboy caps, and sweaters and ties, like the one below, rock my world.

Moreover, Arnold Palmer, the Tiger Woods of his day both on and off the course, was hot in a boisterous, Hunter S. Thompson sorta way.  Lucky for him, it wasn't a profitable move for ladies to talk about their famous conquests publically.

But aside from all that male eye candy enjoyment, vintage golf fashion for women is equally fun to examine.  According to Lizzie Bramlett's "Women's Golf Fashion: a Peak into the Past," early in the game's history, women didn't play golf but country clubs functioned as social meeting places where women sought to look there best.  As women began to play the game, fashion evolved to suit the game's athleticism while maintaining visual appeal. The following are examples from the early to mid 20th century.  Check out the crisp white uniformity of the dress, the hat, and the gloves! 

And this plaid skirt paired with bobby socks below is a fun treat. 

 I think I want to have a vintage golf party.  How fun would that be???!!!  Everyone in plaid and argyle and knickers and bobby socks?  And newsboy hats?  Sadly, it that might appear vaguely Hollywood hipster.  But I might still do it!  My birthday is next month.  Whaddaya think???  

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Dreaming of Jeannie's Kitchen

When I'm not busy with one of the million things I do to distract myself from my failed music career, I'm at home, watching House Hunters and wishing I knew how to whip up beef bouillon.  In truth, I'm not much of a cook.  But I love kitchens!  Specifically, I have a mild obsession with mid-century kitchen design. While almost every lemming featured on the aforementioned House Hunters ooohs and ahhhs at the stainless steel appliances, dark wood cabinets and granite countertops of kitchens like the one below...I find such design banal...and boring! 

I would far prefer a space that was unique and cool...and full of the kitchen featured on the cover of a recent issue of Atomic Ranch Magazine.

I also like the unique mix of stainless steel appliances and mid-century modern inspired cabinets of the kitchen below.

Lastly, who can resist turquoise and red!  Not ME!!!  Love Love LOVE IT!!!  
Give me funky, quirky, and colorful over those modern day earth tone cliches any day!

Thursday, April 8, 2010

I Have Left the Building - Temporarily Anyway

Let's start this word juggernaut off with the simple irrefutable fact of my current life...I am uninspired and officially creatively bored...not only with my own various ventures but the ventures of everyone else too. No offense to those of you still fully engaged with your various creative passions. I'm sure someone will find your song/screenplay/webseries/blog/clothes/jewelry/graphic design/artwork incredible and inspiring and awesome. But it will probably look derivative and lame to me. This has everything to do with me and nothing to do with you. I am quite simply so over all of it. In my current mindset, I equate artistic expression with a manifestation of self-absorption and self-importance...and I need a break. Everything brought to you by so-called (and usually self-described) artists (including myself), overwhelms me in how ultimately unnecessary and unimportant it seems to the world as a whole. I recognize this as an over-generalized reaction to my difficulty making peace with the vast chasm between commerce and art...and to living in Los Angeles, a place that can easily trick the artist into equating mass-marketability with success in their work. But the result is the same...creative burnout.

For this reason...following the fulfillment of current commitments I will be taking a break from all of my own creative ventures. In place of all the time and effort put forth in the maintenance and pursuit of my various music and writing projects, I'm going to search for a teaching job; and I'm going to play golf and spend my leisure time with the people I care about.

When I regain the belief in the value of my own artistic expression, I will get back to creative business. But right now, I feel my talents could be put to more valuable use than trying to intellectually deconstruct the world in words and song.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Funny or Die's Presidential Reunion

Funny or Die's Presidential Reunion! Featuring Will Ferrell, Dana Carvey, Jim Carrey, and Chevy Chase (my VERY favorite) reprising the presidents past and back to haunt Barack as he grumbles about the Consumer Financial Protection Agency.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Ms. Swift, Autotune and the Narcissism Epidemic

I didn't watch the Grammy's last night because it saddens me to see the visceral collapse of the music industry; and I was unsurprised upon hearing how badly Taylor Swift performed.  However, I suffer from schadenfreude, which finally got the best of me this afternoon when I sought out the above clip.  Of course I was delighted to see that she shall I say it...goddamn mother fucking awful!  Swift's inability to sing her way out of a paper bag, coupled with her clear lack of awareness about just how badly she sings, is sickly fascinating to me.  "How can this girl not know she is a sucky singer??"  I first wondered after seeing her perform on Saturday Night Live in January, 2009 - where after finishing her second song with nary a note in tune, she cracked a wide grin and hopped up and down with the excitement of victory.  She was also awful at the 2008 Country Music Awards where she mumble-sings in monotone while modeling a beautiful gown for her fellow blonde republicans and their cowboy-hatted beaus.  Such horrific displays of performative shame lead me to think the narcissism epidemic may be in effect with Ms. Swift.

The narcissism epidemic was first noticed by college professors in the early 2000s when Generation Me students (those born in 1982 and later) began expecting their grades would be elevated based on effort alone.  This was deemed a symptom of the self-esteem focused parenting style of the 90's...i.e. the "everyone deserves a ribbon" even if they don't mentality.  As a result, professors reported their students had little awareness of their strengths and weaknesses and had not developed methods to compensate for any skill disparities.  This lack of awareness was accompanied by an over-inflated sense of accomplishment and a belief that they would and should be rewarded and acknowledged for everything they tried regardless of the relative quality of their long as their effort was marked by panache. 

Taylor Swift most certainly demonstrates this epidemic at least in part.  She is a catchy songwriter, with a particularly good instinct for lyrics with broad relatability; and she most certainly has a girl-next-door kind of charisma that attracts people's interest.  These are great strengths.  But she is completely unaware of just how badly she represents those strengths when she performs those songs herself.  In fact, such outward ignorance of her clear vocal weakness allows for questions about her strengths.  "Did she really write those songs?" I wonder after hearing such poor delivery of them.  Now, I won't speculate on any sense of entitlement she might feel to the various accolades she's received because that would require a more intimate knowledge of her personality than I have.  But I will say those accolades act to reinforce the belief that sometimes plagues members Generation Me...that mediocrity will be rewarded.  Unfortunately, mediocrity is still mediocre, no matter how unapologetically it is delivered; and in the long run mediocrity is unlikely to leave an indelible mark on the world regardless of how many gold statues it collects.  Rather the outcome is more likely to resemble the image of Shelley's "Ozymandias."

By:  Percy Blythe Shelley

I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed.
And on the pedestal these words appear:
"My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!"
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Jonathan Haidt's TEDTalk on the Difference Between Liberals and Conservatives

I grew up in the smack dab middle of the pro-life, pro-gun, pro-God Midwest. In fact, I grew up in a county with fewer democrats than palm trees; and my dad, a lifelong republican, spent 25+ years of his career in elected offices. In addition to my dad’s professional party affiliation, my parents are active social conservatives who converted to Catholicism in their late 50’s and proceeded to spend two years of Fridays "praying" outside abortion clinics. While they stray from the traditional conservative platform on gun control, and they are displeased with the work of George W. Bush and his crony Dick Cheney, who my father likens to the devil, they do believe in low taxes, small government, intelligent design, preventing stem cell research, and that God made marriage for a man and a woman – the very values the left is quick to denigrate as "stupid," “selfish,” "regressive" and "small-minded."

Meanwhile, the right is just as likely to call the left “selfish,” “Godless,” “anti-American,” “baby killers.” Each side is equally convinced of their “rightness” in assessing what’s best for the country as a whole; and each is equally convinced that those who disagree with them are hell-bent on running this country into the ground. While the left and the right have always been at odds with each other, it seems the level of angry self-righteousness in partisan politics has risen in recent years to a level that’s not only distasteful but counter-productive.

Perhaps this is the result of a culture turned on by contention. Even Obama’s victory on a wave of “work-togetherness” rhetoric hasn’t been able to steamroll what has become a seemingly inherent love of hatred. In short we LOVE to hate even more than we love to be right…or at least more than we love to DO right. Both sides would rather stubbornly refuse to work with the party in power than allow for the possibility that they may have valid points to consider. With partisan media pundits, the louder someone hates, the louder we get to hate back. A show of respect for someone with a different belief has come to seem deferential and undesirable.

As long as this verbal volleyball match continues, nothing will be accomplished and while each side will blame the other, the truth is that both are at fault because both are engaged in a self-righteous refusal to let the other side be right about anything…and neither side is right about everything. But, when we absolutely, unequivocally BELIEVE we are right, that someone else is wrong…we are at an impasse…and when that disagreement turns angry and judgmental as it has in recent years, how do we overcome that impasse?

Recently, I came across this TEDTalk by Jonathan Haidt on the moral roots of liberals and conservatives, which addresses the moral matrix in which both ends of the continuum are locked. I think it's worth a few minutes of your time; while some will find themselves  trying to defend their own judgments about conservatives or liberals as valid in today's world, I think Haidt's offers information that can help us re-approach each other in ways that are both more respectful and also more effective.

Jonathon Haidt on the Differences Between Liberals and Conservatives

Friday, January 22, 2010

The Problem of Heidi Montag

This week, Heidi Montag revealed her new look to the world. After a whopping ten plastic surgeries, Montag has altered her slightly quirky face into that of the transsexual wife of an Orange County republican.

Almost as soon as these pictures broke, a collective cry rang out. She was such a pretty girl!! Why would she do this!!??? What is wrong with her??!! What kind of doctor would conduct such a surgery??!! Where are her parents??!! What kind of message is she sending to her young fans??!! It's all wrong wrong wrong!! Except that on some level it's not.

Heidi Montag is a walking metaphor for the inconsistent message women and girls receive about their appearance and its relationship to their worth in our culture. While girls are regularly TOLD that their intelligence, humor, and competence are valued, women of proven intelligence and humor continue to be subjected to commentary about their appearance. Whether it's Hillary Clinton, who endured far more physical scrutiny than Obama during the 2008 primaries, including one piece by Republican blogger Emily Miller that focused on her cankles, or Tina Fey, who's impressive list of comedic accomplishments receive secondary coverage to her nerd chic appeal, the message is clear. Intelligence, wit, and competence are not enough for a woman's physical appearance to avoid scrutiny.

Meanwhile, the only industries where women have consistently made significantly more money than their male counterparts are the modeling industry and the sex industry, both of which expect their women to meet certain appearance ideals but neither of which requires mental facility. In spite of lip service to the contrary, money has a quantifiable relationship to value and power in our culture. The fact that we choose to pay women far more on average for being supremely beautiful and for acting freakishly sexual than we pay them for being competent intellectually is not lost on girls and young women.

In effect, Heidi Montag is telling her young female fans the unfortunate truth that they already instinctively know - their looks have at least as much value as their personal qualities; and she is as much a victim as she is a metaphor for this confusing message.  This is why she failed to see the irony in espousing the message "beauty's really within," during her post-op interview with Good Morning America's Juju Chang (  After all, our culture gives excessive lip service to the "beauty is within" mantra while outwardly placing far more importance on external beauty.  Therefore, what's wrong with her embodying the same hypocrisy?  

Some have suggested the problem lies not in this hypocritical message.  Rather, Montag has been labeled an addict.  Perhaps she is.  But this is not singly important. Such over-indulgence is bound to happen in a culture that places a high value on physical appearance while offering a myriad of plastic surgery options. Moreover, our culture is largely accepting of plastic surgery as a means to improve self-esteem (a further admission of the importance of looks). According to a Consumer Attitudes Survey conducted in 2008, 56% of women approve of cosmetic surgery and 31% would consider having it themselves. To be sure, Montag was not heavily criticized after her first breast augmentation and nose job. This was seen as within the realm of acceptable tweaking. But when does that tweaking become unacceptable? It's only when someone radically changes their appearance in the way that Montag has that we cry foul. But, in a culture with questionable integrity regarding the qualities it claims to value most in women, can we really be that surprised by someone like Heidi Montag?  Perhaps the greater crime is the perpetuation of the myth that looks don't matter when their value is so obvious.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Knowing the Why: The Importance of Clear Purpose in the Face of Artistic Commercialization

Ok artists of the's what I want to know: What is your point? What is the specific unifying purpose behind your work? Why should anyone care about it? Whether you are a musician, an actor, a writer, a comedian, or a need to have something to say that extends beyond a self-indulgent look-at-me-and-how-good-I-am-at-what-I-do mentality if you expect to be truly relevant and/or find lasting success. And now, as the relationship between commerce and art evolves in the face of technology, there is an even greater need for us artists to develop a clear and specific sense of purpose that we can articulate with confidence. Without it we may lose the very creative flexibility and freedom we so value.

Perhaps the need for purpose sounds obvious to some. But, sometimes what is obvious in theory is absent or at least under-developed in practice. For example, a musician might say something like, "I want to write great songs that really move people to think." A writer might say "I want to write stories that give voice to voiceless characters." A comedian might say, "I want to be edgy and make people laugh at their own discomfort." These may sound like valid purposes...but they aren't specific enough. If a musician wishes to make people think...she must have a clear idea of what she wants them to think about. A writer who wants to give voice to the voiceless must have a sense not only of whose voice she seeks to embody but also of the value in doing so. And a comedian who wishes to make people laugh at their own discomfort should have a specific idea she wants to communicate through that discomfort.

Many artists resist the notion of specificity of purpose because they see it as an artistic failure in the face of commerce; and they believe they must be fully un-tethered in order to create successfully. However, this is a misunderstanding of specificity, which is not synonymous with limitation. Rather, specificity is the unification of our varying artistic interests into a definable singular vision. A great variety of things may inform, inspire, and impact our work. But we MUST be able to synthesize those influences into a succinct and focused vision. Without that specificity, our audience becomes difficult to define, our work becomes unruly and vague and our overall success cannot be calibrated.

Take for example, Lady Gaga. In her work, she primarily seems interested in challenging and examining notions of celebrity. What is it? Is it real or a created construct? How does it relate to artistic expression? How can it be useful? How is it destructive? What does it say about us as a culture? Now, there are many aspects to Lady Gaga’s music, performance, and overall presence. She has an outrageous sense of fashion. Her performance is marked by suicide and murder imagery. She has a strong interest in issues of gender and in gay iconography. But these different aspects act primarily as tools to comment on celebrity…which is the driving purpose behind her work.

Comic Sarah Silverman is another example. Silverman is obviously inspired by a wide variety of political, racial, religious, and gender-based issues. But her work is primarily interested in pointing out and challenging hypocrisy in prejudicial thinking. Her ironic endorsement of various forms of bigotry, which creates discomfort in her audience, forces that audience to consider their own prejudices. Race jokes become not about race…but about the ridiculousness of prejudice…and this is what she wants her audience laughing at and thinking about.

There is no doubt that modern commerce has impacted the life and work of the artist. But our answer to this as artists cannot be a stubborn refusal to acknowledge commerce. Instead, we must understand that a focused, specific artistic vision is NOT a failure of art in the face of commerce. Rather, it is the best way to keep control of our creativity and to build and maintain artistic relevance. For if we aren’t sure what it is we’re doing, and why we are doing...if we can’t articulate it clearly and confidently, someone in marketing will; and that is when art fails in the face of commerce.