Sunday, November 23, 2008

The Last Days of W. by Alec Soth

Jon Stewart of the Daily Show made an interesting observation in the days after Barack Obama was voted President-elect. He mentioned that walking in the streets of New York he noticed everyone was making eye contact with each other and silently nodding. It was my experience as well, loads of strangers engaging in secret handshakes of a 'job well done.' Here we are counting down the days until the blue light appears on the horizon.

Without revisiting the litany of problems this country faces, as we know them all too well, it is as if she is emerging with divorce papers from an abusive marriage. Hopefully the restraining order will be granted for there will be no jail time served.

Alec Soth's latest venture on the printed page is a self-published newspaper with the gothic-script title of The Last Days of W. 36 photographs within which even the inanimate objects look simply worn out and exhausted. With many of us down on our luck, this is supposed to only cost you a fiver.

A crumbling empire? or one just running out of gas. The fuzzy dice draped on the dear skull have turned up snake eyes and the bank moves in. A painting has Jesus closing a business deal (In Greenspan We Tru$t). A young soldier stares blankly, waiting for us to help patch his peanut butter and jelly wounds. Pawn shops and Osama Bin Laden pinatas are the New Order. Take a tissue if you feel your eyes well up.

Fireworks play second act to Arby's and Chevron while the political scenery kills the foliage it uses for realism. Camp Purgatory flies an inverted flag (have those messy socialist hippies no pride?). A grandmother, who should be staring with wide-eyed pride over a newborn, becomes a walking billboard for the housing crisis. The gate is left open after the Oval office is hastily emptied and we awake, without the shirt on our backs, wondering what just hit us. Did a natural disaster sweep our house away leaving us untouched and in bed? An epilogue of 'Either dusk or dawn'? Only time will tell.

All of this presented without the reactionary high blood pressure and boiling rage? How dare his description have a soothing effect. I want to knee-jerk someone in the groin! Who the hell is Soth's therapist? Better yet, do they have an opening for Monday?

Available at Dashwood Books