Los Angeles loves Banksy. Don't know who he is or quite what to make of him, but Los Angeles loves him anyway. He's a media superstar. Banksy's Gitmo prisoner at Disneyland and Paris Hilton CD makeover both made the evening news this past week.
The star strewn launch party at the way downtown bunker where his three day 'Barely Legal' show was held, was just the beginning of a weekend of media lust unseen since Reggie was drawing the crowds in Harbor City. Certainly no artist from the UK has heralded such attention since the Sex Pistols came so miserably to grief here 30 years ago. Jude Law, Brad, Angelina and Keanu were just a few of the celebs who had their drivers reprogram their GPS' to find Santa Fe & Hunter and were unpleasantly surprised to discover it wasn't a jaunt to New Mexico but a downtown neighborhood were people generally are only seen dead.
The celebs appearance at the show of Friday was too late to stop it.
Despite the media attention, there was a great organic feeling about it all. Hordes of hipsters who wouldn't normally be out during the day, all craning their necks or straining their digital cameras to catch a glimpse of Banksy's work. All happening without the endorsement of the various gallery gatekeepers and tastemakers across this town. Smelled like teen spirit.
And CBS and NBC sent their roving vans. 'Fuel' TV interviewed someone who might have been an elephant wrangler.
If only the local media could get over their concern for the Elephant in the room and concern themselves with just why there was an Elephant in the room. That's another problem we never talk about.
Oh I didn't mention the elephant? The elephant was exciting to see. All dressed up in red and gold edible paint - who imagined it would take Banksy to improve on nature? The elephant was pretty cool in the midst of a digital frenzy. But even that was exciting in itself. There are going to be few pictures from the show that don't include people taking more pictures of the show.
Banksy's work is accessible, funny, at all times provocative and sometimes simply brimming with glee. And of course I am a sucker for this stuff, ever since I realized you don't have to abide by anyone elses rules about art or music or what you make or how you make it. And he's not slow to bite the hand that doesn't feed him anyway, so I'll try to encapsulate the humor of just one of his works, there's a bunch of G8 protester types, I can tell them from their round shoulders, lining up at a t-shirt booth to buy $50 'Destroy Capitalism' t-shirts.
Of course my gripe remains the same. Not enough product. Never enough product. "It's horrible," the local art gatekeepers and I agree, "Isn't it? To see someone who is probably self-taught, sell out of his $500 prints within 2 hours of the show opening..." I managed only the card with the inscription below.
"There's an elephant in the room.
There's a problem that we never talk about.
The fact is this life isn't getting any fairer.
1.7 Billion people have no access to clean drinking water.
20 Billion people live below the poverty line
Every day hundreds of people are made to feel physically sick by morons are art shows telling them how bad the world is but never actually doing something about it.
Anybody want a free glass of wine?"
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