Pussy Riot in Montreal

The Montreal Museum of Contemporary Art was ordered shut by Covidcrats in 2020 and allowed to reopen in February 2021. Just a couple of months later, the museum closed for a renovation that was supposed to be complete in 2024 but, according to the lady who sold me a ticket to the temporary exhibit space in a nearby underground mall, is now on track to be finished in 2028.

What’s in the temporary space? “Velvet Terrorism,” an exhibit on the decade-long protest by Pussy Riot against Vladimir Putin and Russia’s military operations in Ukraine.

From the brochure:

The first couple of rooms:

What was one of the punishments that a Pussy Riot member suffered? She was unbanked, exactly as the Canadian truckers who protested forced Covid-19 vaccination were unbanked by Justin Trudeau using “emergency powers” (NYT). (Separately, I met a Canadian who had gingerly approached some of the truckers at the time. “They were the nicest and most peaceful people you ever met,” he said. “I was afraid to stay too long, though, because I didn’t want to become a target myself.”)

Pussy Riot’s war under the sacred Rainbow Flag was covered:

(It is unclear to me how Putin can be considered responsible for “killings and kidnappings of gay, lesbian, transgender and queer people in Chechnya“. Russia has had tremendous difficulty in its attempts to control what happens in Chechnya, resulting in at least two full-scale wars.)

The public were invited to write down and post their thoughts in response to the exhibition. Most seemed to have been written by Anglophones. Almost nobody seemed to be thinking about Vladimir Putin, Ukraine, the lives of 2SLGBTQQIA+ Russians, or any of the other issues raised by Pussy Riot. Here are some of the notes that were off the main topic:

What were a plurality of the signs about? Here’s a sampling:

Although the Islamic Resistance Movement (“Hamas”), which is the elected and overwhelmingly popular government of the Palestinians, is not famous for celebrating Rainbow Flagism, there was the inevitable…

If Al-Shifa Hospital gets fixed up, the Montreal museum visitors are imagining gender affirming surgeries happening there:

Those who identify as feminists also want to see a corner of the world ruled by the guys who raped, maimed, and murdered women on October 7 (nearly all women who were born long after the events of 1948 that is the root of Arab grievance, so it is unclear how they can be blamed for the Nakba):

Ironically, after viewing an art show about criticism of Vladimir Putin, patrons were motivated to trumpet their alignment with Vladimir Putin’s position regarding Hamas (it is unclear that Putin supports “river to the sea liberation” (i.e., the elimination of Israel) but he is more supportive of Hamas than the typical national leader in Europe or North America).

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Burning Man 2023 Debrief

A friend washed off all of the Playa mud and shared his experience of Burning Man 2023, Rain Edition.

What was great? He arrived on Thursday before the official event began and enjoyed a week of “Unnaturally perfect weather; no dust.”

His favorite art was a gigantic cube made from intermediate bulk carriers (IBCs). An IBC out of IBCs. Each cube had a light and became a pixel. “People could climb it. A few broke ankles,” he said. “The perfect example of ingenious art that is awe-inspiring by its simplicity and beauty out of materials that can be reused after it is taken apart.”

Overall, though, he felt that the art was not as awe-inspiring as in previous years. “There was a proliferation of laser-cut sh*t all over the Playa, including the otherwise-magnificent Temple. That’s a lazy way to build something intricate.” Perhaps this is because some of the A-listers didn’t show up this year. Unlikely in a typical year, tickets were easy to come by. What else wasn’t so great? “There are still too many plug-and-plays. The ebikes. They move too fast and the riders are like Tesla drivers: annoying people in a hard-to-explain way. Burning Man bikes are supposed to be crummy and hard to pedal. It shouldn’t be effort-free to move around.”

How about the art cars, now that Mayan Warrior has been destroyed by fire? (“They spent at least $8 million on Mayan Warrior”) “Titantic’s End is an art car iceberg is supposed to raise awareness about climate change. It has an interior room chilled to 32 degrees, lasers, massive sound, and everything else than can be done with an unlimited CO2 budget,” my friend noted. “We were not impressed.”

After a week of good luck, the rain began on Friday morning. With only shreds of mobile phone service, which immediately collapsed as soon as the event began in earnest, attendees had limited access to weather forecasts. “Rich people had Starlink, but everything went down after it started raining. The rangers told us no more rain coming and it f**king poured for days,” he said. What would he have done if he’d been better informed? “We would have partied way harder at the beginning and then left Thursday night.” Was it that bad? “It was a crisis made for social media and schadenfreude, but really not that different from going on a ski vacation and getting injured after a day or two. Some people kept partying, but we were discouraged so we stayed in our tents. Nobody could drive an art car, bike, or even walk in shoes. You could walk barefoot, but it was nasty.”

Dare we touch on the bathroom situation? “Porta-potties never became completely full, but were really gnarly, even for hardened ravers. We ended up finding a plug and play with $10K composting toilets on the last day. They had graciously opened their toilets to everyone. People had been prepared to pee in bottles and poop in trash bags, but it didn’t quite come to that.” Was the situation inevitable? “Toilet pumping and camp water deliveries stopped Friday morning. The cops had heavy equipment and super off-road dune buggies, but they just disappeared. Maybe they could have parked a pump truck at each station and kept pumping, for example.”

Was he sorry that there wasn’t a muscular response from President Joe Biden? “All the camps were sharing. Nobody went hungry or thirsty. The vibe was a little like Central American post-earthquake.”

What about the escape? “We tore down and mooped over a couple of days and I made a run for it but the rented car got stuck. I managed to walk back and pull myself out with my team and our biggest truck and return to our now-empty campsite for a cold and wet night. The next morning, Monday I guess, I mapped out the best route by foot, around bad streets and stuck vehicles. I deflated the rental car tires and went for it, but still got stuck. Some a**holes aggressively yelled obscenities at us for trying to escape, other people came out and pushed us. Once I got to K street, I cut out on playa and just plowed thru the swampy parts and banged my way out onto the gate road and out.”

What about the fact that the gate was closed for both in and out? “I heard that people were being stopped and could not get out, but when i decided to blast my way out early Monday morning there were no cops in sight. The gates were open, but not advertised as open. A campmate who arrived in a Toyota Land Cruiser managed to get out on Sunday night. He has a lot of experience off road and had traction pads with him.”

Who cleaned up the mountain of muddy trash that he left behind? “We did a full pack and moop before we left. We left a guy behind with the 4×4 truck and 8000 lb. trailer and supplies. He stayed till Temple burn left the morning after. So we cleaned up; not like the f**kers who ‘walked it out’ leaving all their sh*t behind.”

Summary? “We were well prepared so mostly it was the loss of part of the event and being stuck at camp a few days, but I got out right before Exodus so other than the nail-biting stress of getting to pavement, it was totally easy drive.”

What about the folks who waited for the official opening of the gate? He sent me this photo of Exodus:

Will we get a more thorough dissection of what could have been done better from the burners who know the event best? My friend says “No. People aren’t comfortable complaining about the Burning Man organization. They get over it or stop going.” Does it matter that failings won’t be examined? “In the end, Burning Man is like California. It’s so resource-rich that no amount of mismanagement can ruin it.”

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Biden on the picket line: time to watch American Factory again

Loyal readers may recall my review of the Academy Award-winning documentary American Factory. After a Chinese glass manufacturer has been gulled into investing $500+ million in pre-Biden money, all of the Democrats in the region, including Senator Sherrod Brown, show up to exhort the workers to unionize and extract higher wages from the foreign chumps.

“Biden to become first sitting US president to appear on picket line at UAW strike” (The Guardian):

Joe Biden will become the first sitting US president to appear on a picket line on Tuesday, making an appearance in Michigan in an effort to show solidarity with striking members of the United Auto Workers (UAW) union, which is locked in an escalating dispute with America’s three biggest carmakers.

Biden’s trip is designed to burnish his self-proclaimed credentials as the most union-friendly president in US history and possibly also to earn the explicit backing of the UAW, which has yet to endorse his bid for re-election.

Biden voiced support for the strike by Ford, General Motors and Stellantis workers, which was entering its 12th day on Tuesday, and had announced he was dispatching his labour secretary, Julie Su, and Gene Sperling, a senior White House adviser, to help the union reach a settlement with company bosses.

In other words, this is a Presidential version of what is shown in the movie with, if memory serves, members of Congress and the governor. Will I be taking my own advice and watching the movie again in honor of our muscular leader? No. I canceled my Netflix subscription after the 2nd or 3rd price increase during what we are informed is a period of near-zero inflation.


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Movie recommendation: Sorcerer

What’s going on with various unions in Hollywood being forced to strike? Roughly 99.7% of Hollywood executives are Democrats (source). Why won’t committed Democrats pay workers a fair wage?

While it is sad that the Netflix Cleopatra (3% audience score) spinoffs might be delayed by the refusal of Democrats to pay their workers properly, the public can still watch Sorcerer, the recently deceased director William Friedkin’s favorite among his movies (French Connection and Exorcist are the best known).

From Friedkin’s obituary in the NYT, a Ukraine connection and also one to the 2SLGBTQQIA+ community:

William Friedkin, known to his friends as Billy, was born in Chicago on Aug. 25, 1935, to Louis and Rachel (Green) Friedkin. Both parents were Jews who had left Ukraine early in the century with their families to escape the tsarist pogroms. His mother, who was known as Rae, was an operating room nurse; his father worked a variety of low-paying jobs.

“The French Connection” was rejected by every studio in town before Richard Zanuck, in his final days at 20th Century Fox, gave it the green light. Convinced that the film required a street-level documentary feel, Mr. Friedkin spent weeks on the beat with the two police officers who had broken the French Connection drug case. He said he paid an official at the New York Transit Authority a $40,000 bribe to overlook the rules and allow the famous chase sequence to be filmed.

He later called “Sorcerer,” in an interview with Indiewire in 2017, “the only film I’ve made that I can still watch.”

The lurid “Cruising” (1980), with Al Pacino as a New York City detective who goes undercover in the city’s gay S-and-M bars to solve a murder, aroused the fierce opposition of gay activists, who objected to the film’s portrayal of gay men and who picketed the location shoots, much to Mr. Friedkin’s dismay.

Another great movie from this guy: To Live and Die in L.A. (you wouldn’t have wanted to be hoping to get anywhere near where they filmed the car chase on the day(s) of filming!)

Trigger warnings: the employer of the main characters in Sorcerer does not comply with OSHA regulations; seat belts are not always worn; the roads and bridges that they traverse were not approved by Pete Buttigieg.

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Long term effects of taking away $5-10,000 from every upper middle class family with a female child?

We are informed that the Future is Female. In “The Future is Female”: Women’s March in Boston 2018, for example, the future governor of Maskachusetts is described as having worn a shirt reading “The Future is Female”. Such T-shirts may be found at retailers in MA: All genders are welcome, but the future belongs to only one?

What if a group of evil people identifying with one of the 73 non-female genders decided to oppress those identifying as “female” by taking away $5,000 to $10,000 from every reasonably successful family with a daughter? Would Americans resist this attempt to take away important capital that could otherwise be used to give a young woman an education, startup capital, travel experiences, etc.?

Here’s what StubHub was offering, on May 20, for seats at the Taylor Swift tonight in Detroit, Michigan:

You can buy a house in Detroit for the cost of two tickets (StubHub fees are on top of these quoted rates?) and associated concert expenses.

What will be the long-term effects of this brilliant mining out of families with female children? Wikipedia says that Taylor Swift is childless and “an advocate for … women’s empowerment”. But how are women empowered if, as girls, their college fund is looted of $10,000+ so that they can hear some songs that are regularly played for free on the radio?

(A white male California Democrat posted “The Numbers Are In on How Biden-Era Funding Is Skewing Scientific Research Ever-Wokeward” to Facebook (a professor, he likes everything about the Democrats except that white male professors have the lowest priority for getting research money!). An Italian immigrant scientist contributed to the discussion, which led to a Democrat responding with “for someone coming from a country that has only achieved any level of relevance in recent times by succumbing to fascism, I guess there is some cold comfort and making fun of liberal ideals that psychologically incapable of internalizing.” My response to this attack on Italy:

If you value the ability to listen to Taylor Swift in your Prius, shouldn’t you at least celebrate Italian radio pioneer Guglielma Maria Marconi? She did her work decades before Mussolini came to power. Unlike 2SLGBTQQIA+ community member Nikola Tesla, who attempted long-distance transmission by dumping power into the ground (literally), Ms. Marconi followed Katherine Clerk Maxwell’s equations and Henrietta Hertz.

It is fair to say that Taylor Swift is my touchstone!)

Loosely related, “The Future is Female” art exhibit in Bentonville, Arkansas, January 2019, complete with $38 T-shirts:


  • the future of the Biden family, Navy Joan, lives in Arkansas and yields $480,000/year tax-free for her plaintiff mom (New York Post) after an initial payment of $2.5 million (i.e., more than $10 million in spending power over 18 years) and is one of a handful of Americans who can afford both a Taylor Swift concert ticket and a college education (though her mom, Lunden Roberts, has demonstrated that there are better ways for an American to earn money than by going to college and working W-2)

Update at 7:24 pm Eastern:

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A visit to the Whitney Museum of American Art

One of the joys of New York was casual access to great art museums. Post-coronapanic, however, access is no longer so casual. They’re on the dreaded timed ticket system.

The lobby contains neon art by Eric Adams:

What other messages do we see in the Renzo Piano building who total project cost was $760 million in pre-Biden money?

In the oppressed after first investing $760 million in a fancy building?

My favorite work on display is by Josh Kline and reflects a compromise between Republicans and Democrats regarding whether it is permissible to install gas stoves in American households:

Kline predicted “mass layoffs” in a series called “Contagious Unemployment” back in 2016. He wasn’t completely wrong in that labor force participation is low, but technical “unemployment” (people who want jobs and can’t find them) is actually lower than it was in 2016. Even if the artist failed as an economic prophet, his shrink-wrapped middle managers are impressive:

The permanent collection is always worthwhile. Sailors and Floosies (Cadmus 1938) might need an update now that “US Navy hires active-duty drag queen to be face of recruitment drive” (New York Post):

(Cadmus could have painted himself in? He wasn’t famous for being straight.)

The view of the High Line is awesome:

The museum is also a good place to see the Little Island at Pier 55 (about $260 million in public and private money):

The main exhibit was by a Native American artist, Jaune Quick-to-See Smith. It is uncontroversial and accurate to refer to people crossing the border without an invitation as a “European invasion”:

(Would the museum characterize the current flood of folks coming across the border as an “invasion”? If not, why not? Because they are generally not armed while the mostly-peaceful Pilgrims had rifles?)

A 2021 painting by Smith cashes in on Americans’ love of pronouns:

Her “trade canoes” are impressive. Examples:

Pilots may imagine that the FAA is everywhere in the galleries because the guards’ uniform says “Here to Help” on the back:

What’s the mask situation, you might ask? About half of the guards were masked. (If they’re worried, why don’t they switch to a job with less potential for virus transmission?) With the exception of the virtuous group, perhaps only 1 in 40 patrons was masked.

How’s the neighborhood?

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Cash in on Zeitgeist by selling paintings of the Ukrainian flag?

A modest-sized Jasper Johns painting of the American flag sold for $36 million in pre-Biden money (New York Post, 2014). A hedge fund billionaire might have paid $110 million for one in 2010 (NYT). Here’s a (priceless) triple-flag version at the Whitney:

Johns is 93, possibly too old to be a heavy enough Twitter and Facebook user to realize how much value there is in displaying the Ukrainian flag. Could this be an opportunity for a younger artist to step in? Imagine the above painting but with Ukraine flags instead of U.S. flags. (I mentioned this to friends and they said that it would be even better as rainbow flags.)

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Harvard and the Art of Masking

An email received this month:

(Harvard cannot offer free admission to the people who have granted it freedom from paying taxes on what it earns from its $50 billion cash hoard, except for on a few days.)

Note the Science-driven COVID prevention strategy of 1 out of 4 people wearing a non-N95 mask. The same email promotes an event in which it appears that 2 out of 3 visitors are wearing Fauci-approved cloth masks:

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American Diversity concert tonight in Cambridge

I received a mailing from a music organization in Cambridge, Maskachusetts, “A unique program of music written by women and people of color”:

I’m very sorry that I can’t attend and see if The Mask is about an N95 mask and his/her/zir/their journey of protection (modern update to Gogol’s “The Nose”?). Maybe it will be explained in the program notes and pre-concert lecture.

Note that the concert is entirely free to those who limit their working hours so as to qualify for SNAP/EBT (“food stamps”):

We are proud to participate in the Mass Cultural Council’s ‘Card to Culture’ program. EBT card holders who present their EBT card in person at the Box Office receive 2 free Gold section tickets to a Spectrum Singers concert.


  • Thankful for archive.org (Government-supported Harvard University hosts a play in which only those who identify as Black can attend: “We have designated this performance to be an exclusive space for Black-identifying audience members”)
  • Why you want to be on SNAP/EBT
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Book review: the American love affair with opioids, accelerated by McKinsey

Loyal readers may remember a review here of a book by a Los Angeles Times reporter on America’s taxpayer-fueled heroin habit (see Who funded America’s opiate epidemic? You did.). Empire of Pain: The Secret History of the Sackler Dynasty covers the same story from the angle of the family behind OxyContin. The Sacklers, whose names adorn university and art museum buildings throughout the U.S. and Europe, have been convenient scapegoats, but it turns out that they didn’t do it alone. Some things that I learned from the book…

Arthur M. Sackler, the patriarch, died before OxyContin was invented (the slow-release coating was actually the invention of a British company that had been acquired by the Sacklers’ sleepy Purdue Pharma and was used originally for morphine pills called “MS Contin”). He was the significant art collector and benefactor of AOC’s party venue at the Metropolitan Museum (how did it cost $587 for a car ride from the Bronx to the Upper East Side?). With the help of some friendly bureaucrats at the FDA, who would go on to be of much greater assistance to his brothers’ company Purdue, he pushed the limits of what was legal/ethical in medical advertising, especially for Valium and Librium, but museums are still happy to display the name of Hoffmann-La Roche, which actually made the drugs.

The book describes McKinsey, “The firm that built the house of Enron”, working to help Purdue Pharma increase sales of OxyContin even after the company and three executives had pleaded guilty to federal crimes regarding claims made regarding the drug. McKinsey’s biggest idea, according to the author, was that Purdue Pharma’s salespeople should make more frequent calls on the doctors who were the biggest prescribers, i.e., the “pill mills” such as Eleanor Santiago‘s (1 million pills, which resulted in a 20-month prison sentence for the physician). McKinsey also consulted for Johnson & Johnson, the author says, to help them push more opioids out to consumers. (See “Behind the Scenes, McKinsey Guided Companies at the Center of the Opioid Crisis” (NYT 2022))

Speaking of Johnson & Johnson, they owned a division in Tasmania where all of the poppies were grown to enable the production of OxyContin and competitive opioid pills from Janssen (J&J’s pharma subsidiary, now famous for its never-FDA-approved one-shot COVID vaccine) and other companies (in-depth background). The Federal DEA was also complicit in allowing a massive increase in the import quota for this critical raw material.

The author describes Mary Jo White, later appointed by Barack Obama to chair the Securities and Exchange Commission, as instrumental in weakening the government’s efforts to punish Purdue, which was owned entirely by the Sacklers (not, however, by any of Arthur M’s descendants or cash-hungry former wives, “the Valium Sacklers” as opposed to the “OxyContin Sacklers”).

Consistent with Dreamland, the book previously reviewed here, Empire of Pain says that it was common for people to transition from Oxy to heroin sold by migrants from Nayarit, Mexico and that, in fact, 80 percent of heroin overdoses were among people who’d previously been prescribed OxyContin. (See also “From Nayarit to Your Neighborhood: Heroin’s Path to a Ready Local Market”.)

The book supports the heritability of success theory advanced in The Son Also Rises: economics history with everyday applications. Even after a couple of generations that could have succumbed to idleness, the Sackler descendants are reasonably hard-working and successful. Madeleine Sackler, for example, has been successful as a filmmaker (ironically, a couple of them are about life in prison, which is not unrelated to the drug that has funded her lifestyle).

Empire of Pain: The Secret History of the Sackler Dynasty is timely given that a lot of our American brothers, sisters, and binary-resisters were just paid $600/week to stay home for two years and consume drugs and alcohol (this Senate document says there was a 30 percent increase in overdose deaths, but blames the “pandemic” rather than the “lockdown”). The antiracism experts at Mass General say that heavy drinking increased by 21 percent during lockdown.

If nothing else, reading the book will make you cautious about taking that first bottle of painkillers that a doctor prescribes!

The author is a New Yorker writer and he asserts as fact that HIV/AIDS would have been a solved problem if Republicans had not blocked federal funding for research into a cure for this disease (yet SARS-CoV-2 continues to kill steadily despite literally $trillions in tax money that has been thrown at it; see Did vaccines or any other intervention slow down COVID?). He also asserts as fact that if Purdue Pharma was liable for opioid-related deaths then gun manufacturers are obviously liable for shooting deaths (never mentioning that the gun manufacturers have always been quite candid about the lethality of guns/bullets and that the theory of liability for the opioid industry is that the companies lied to Americans about heroin-style drugs not being addictive/harmful).

Loosely related… the Temple of Dendur at the Met, in what used to be called “The Sackler Wing” (funded by Arthur M, blameless in the OxyContin debacle), “temporarily closed” in June 2021 for coronapanic:

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