This is right up my alley. How about you?
AMERIKAN SKUMBAGS" (anthology) Art by Henry Avignon; collaborative literary texts selected and edited by Michael Annis Howling Dog Press, Publisher; forthcoming 2011 i. Submissions Submission period: December 11, 2010 through January 21, 2011.
Submit your work via ...email, either included in the email body or as an attachment, to Michael Annis, at WritingDangerously@howlingdogpress.com. The email's subject line should be: “Skumbags submission.”
Include author’s name and contact information. Submit only your own work, not work by others. Works must be original; plagiarized works will be discarded. Quotes from other author’s works must be cited. Although previously published work is acceptable, preference will be given to unpublished work.
If a work has been previously published, the author must state that it has, giving details as to when and in what publication. Submissions can be in the form of poetry, short creative non-fiction, or short essays. ii. Amerikan Skumbag collaborative art by Henry Avignon To view the artwork by Henry Avignon created for the anthology, see the link on the Facebook “OMEGA online literary magazine” group page, or go to Henry’s website at the following address:
http://henryavignonart.viewbook.com/amerikan_skumbags#1 iii. Anthology Overview What is an Amerikan Skumbag? The simplest definition might be "one whose predatory beliefs, instincts, dealings, actions and way of life exploit, damage, embarrass, cripple or otherwise wreak havoc on the people of the nation, other nations of the world, or the biosphere of the planet we all inhabit." In this forthcoming anthology, the art of Henry Avignon will be collaborated with literature by many poets and writers to indict specifically by name and deed not only historical Amerikan Skumbags, but also some of those who still lurk among us. It will be the writers' job to compose a work that is based on fact, and tells the sad, pathetic, and/or egregious tale of things the Skumbag has said or done to qualify him/her to be included in this anthology.
AMERIKAN SKUMBAGS will serve as a "rogues-gallery"-in-print to enlighten and inform readers as to who has severely tarnished and defaced the character of Amerika, and just how they have gone about it. It will be a literary testimony and artistic indictment against those whose motives and actions bear witness to their sociopathic, psychopathic endeavors. To have their work considered for publication, the writer’s job is to be specific, composing a work about an individual or corporate entity that has defamed this nation. Writers and poets will need to name their subject, whether as part of the title, or in a dedication, or in the body of the work, or named in a footnote at the end of the piece. General railings and rants against American corporatism or imperialism will not suffice; we, the editors of AMERIKAN SKUMBAGS, are looking for specific indictments targeting such skumbags as Monsanto, Exxon, Wal-Mart, Sam Walton, the Walton Family, James Dobson, Ken Lay, Condeleeza Rice, or Karl Rove, for a few examples. Are we being “unpatriotic?”
I think not. Is it more patriotic to continue to cover up a Skumbag’s horrific deeds with grandiose mythologies, thus ensuring those horrific deeds will be repeated, praised, and lauded, while the citizens of this nation remain oblivious to the grim realities as their children strive to emulate them? To one degree or another, we could all be worthy of the designation of 'skumbag', either through acquiescence, co-dependence, unintentional collusion, or direct pre-meditated actions, but the true Amerikan Skumbag, like Skumbags of other nations, finds his/her mission in life to be concerted attempts to fulfill every greedy desire and ambition, regardless of the consequences to those he/she preys upon, and regardless of the destruction of the nation.
Amerikan Skumbags can be leaders, followers, pimps, Puritans, drunkards, teetotalers, Tea Baggers, tree huggers, sexual predators, ascetics, atheists, "men of god," male, female, educated, ignorant, aristocrats, middle class, bourgeoisie, proletarian, conservative, liberal, rich, poor, contemporary or historical figures (such as Jay Gould, distinguished as "the most hated man of his time"), and may occupy any number of callings, disciplines, careers, or belief systems. From the Mayflower to the launching of the space shuttle, Skumbags have cheated, stolen, murdered, thieved, raped, conned, pillaged, made war upon, lied, usurped, coveted, harangued, and savaged their way to infamy. They take the form of human beings or non-human entities (such as Monsanto Corporation, whose unified bevy of Skumbags have sought to control world agriculture through eliminating all competition from small farms and individual farmers, thus propagating their buy-from-us-or-starve strategies). Amerikan Skumbags don’t care what happens to you or me, or our children or grandchildren, or the kid down the block, or the kid down the well.
An Amerikan Skumbag would sell your mother to the Chinese to give body to their paint or flavor to their dogfood. So, you answer your own question: are we being unpatriotic? The primary mission of this anthology, if it is a mission, is to expose the terrible havoc and suffering created by the Skumbags resulting from their greed and underhanded dealings. The anthology will reveal how individual Skumbags have attempted to either compromise or destroy many of the documents created to avert the disastrous political, religious, cultural, social, and economic catastrophes that have haunted “civilization” through the centuries.
Those documents that the Skumbags have so cavalierly dismissed or sneakily torn up in their quest to sate their bottomless pocketbooks and ravenous egos would include the American Bill of Rights and the Universal Rights of Man, among others. Their actions have engendered an ever-increasing stratification between the classes of rich and poor, haves and have-nots. That stratification is consistently found to produce inequalities and hardships for the have-nots, resulting, for example, in babies being born in alleyways, serial victims of sexual psychopaths (likewise religious psychopaths), families being thrown out of their homes, and human beings warehoused in prisons and mental institutions. Perhaps now more importantly, the ensuing climate catastrophes that are imminent have been created, certainly, by many nations under many political and economic systems, but our anthology is focused on Amerikan Skumbags, with the intent toward cleaning our own hypocritical house. When we claim to be in support of initiatives to avert global warming, yet our government and corporations simultaneously shut down universal actions attempted by other nations, it is a lethal double-standard. As we continue supporting corrupt politicians and a corrupt government, it becomes clear that we don't really give a rat's ass about some little island nation that will become a submarine death ship after the imminent rise of the oceans.
As long as we give tax breaks and billion dollar perks to oil, gas, and coal millionaires and not encumber their irresponsible exploitation of the poisoning of the earth, we become conspirators with them in the destruction of the planet. Those billionaires would certainly qualify for inclusion in Amerikan Skumbags, as would the politicians and justices who continue to bail them out with public funds, and keep them above the law through rulings by a non-impartial Supreme Court that is obviously unfettered from any obligation to Constitutional law. We the people bear a share of the guilt in our election of the Skumbags, our support of them through "tithes" and offerings and political contributions, through our purchase of their products and ideas, and through the burying of our minds under massive organs of denial phallicly erected by corporate propagandists such as Rush Limbaugh, or Glenn Beck, while condoning selective revisionist history in textbooks that choose to immortalize Skumbags through contrived mythologies of heroism. All the foregoing only serve the sinking of the good ship Amerika beneath a tidal wave of national ignorance. The ignorance of his victims and unwilling collaborators is primary and most fundamentally essential to the Skumbag’s successful strategy of clearing the way for his acts of high criminality, which often should be further construed as treasonous. The Skumbag would Ponzi-scheme Fort Knox into giving him every last ounce of gold in exchange for trinkets and beads, and a future retirement village in the Florida Keys, if he could get away with it now, as he got away with it in the past when he first set foot on Indian lands and stole his way Westward. Without remorse, and often without legal consequences, the Skumbags have exploited and continue to capitalize on trust and ignorance, using any loophole they might find to further empower themselves while destroying their immediate surroundings, or while occupying distant lands where it’s easier to avoid public condemnation and judicial prosecution.
What does the Skumbag count on?—we the people continuing to immerse ourselves in meaningless tripe such as who's destined for the Superbowl, who's porking who on the daily soaps, whether the Russians can see Sarah Palin’s boobs from their houses, or whether Barack Obama’s birth certificate is real or fake.
Moreover, as the collapse of our doomed biosphere is now fully underway, we wander through mazes of imaginary "resolutions” and “remedies" to this catastrophic scenario via limp rationales such as "when Jesus returns, he will fix it all, and evildoers will be punished," which is a BELIEF, not a rational solution based on factual evidence or historical precedent upon which we can responsibly act. The Amerikan Skumbag loves this type of sub-intellectual churning; it gives him greater ground, greater latitude to continue his avaricious rampage. The Pat Robertsons of the world now own diamond mines and gold mines and other-peoples-life-savings because they have, with no moral or ethical reservation, swindled the desperate with such absurdist notions, knowing full well what they are doing, and who they are preying upon. That qualifies Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, and religious leaders like them, for inclusion in Amerikan Skumbags. In essence, Skumbags are only icons, symbols of who we are, what we have been (although American 'History' courses seldom teach it), and what we are to become if things aren't changed and radically so, within each human being.
Within this nation of human beings known as “Amerika” that continues to myopically focus on Wealth and Power, there exists an undeniable current to subdue and subject all others to the will of the sanctimonious Amerikan plutocratic mentality. While we, the mobbing people of imperialism who can barely see out from under the plastic masks and tin foil hats we regularly adorn, portray our good righteousness as the saving grace of the planet, beneath it all is a selfish, vicious Skumbag layer of desire for the mind-boggling accumulation of riches which might thrust us into the upper crust of the most affluent. [Reference Elias Canetti's "Crowds and Power," John Perkins' "Confessions of an Economic Hitman," Naomi Klein's "The Shock Doctrine," and the writings of Derrick Jensen and Noam Chomsky. All these works are relatively new, but in the scope of Amerikan history--at least a People's History [Zinn]—they remain profoundly relative.] Who do you consider to be an Amerikan Skumbag? Your selection, a literary piece wherein you recall, reconstruct and reassemble your nominee's character and deeds to prove them worthy of the designation (while disassembling the heroic mythos about them, if one exists), might end up in this forthcoming publication. Consider who in Amerikan history has contributed most to our anti-culture of death, poverty, desolation, greed, and psychic disease-mongering as dystopia, and set them down in a poem or short creative non-fiction or essay. For example, George W. Bush is a given ... as is Sarah Palin. But there are literally hundreds of Skumbags in Amerika’s history who have previously raised, and will continue to raise high the flag of disgrace and despair into the generations of the future.
Other Amerikan Skumbags certainly might include ... Joe McCarthy, Ted Bundy, Newt Gingrich, Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker, Dick Cheney, Alberto Gonzales, Alferd Packer, Jay Gould, Fred Phelps, Woodrow Wilson, Jerry Falwell, Herbert Hoover, George Armstrong Custer, Bernie Madoff, Eric Prince, Joe Lieberman, Milton Friedman, Ronald Reagan, J. Edgar Hoover, Benedict Arnold, Richard Nixon, Strom Thurmond, Henry Kissinger, Clarence Thomas, George Wallace, Lester Maddox, Lt. William Calley, Paul and Jan Crouch, James Earle Ray, Jim (People's Temple) Jones, Christopher Columbus, James Dobson, David Koresh and the order giver responsible for setting the fires that burned up the Branch Davidians; furthermore, there are enough corporate CEO Skumbags and Wall Street Banksters to empty the US Treasury—and this is just a partial listing; there are so many, many to choose from, with so many "evildoers" now and throughout Skumbag history
Let's all DIG DEEP. Just for examples, who were some of those Skumbags who ramrodded the brutal Salem witchcraft hunts and trials; who swindled the Indians out of their lands and sent them careening down the heartless, tragic Trail of Tears; who slaughtered the buffalo into near-extinction, leaving their carcasses to rot while selling off their pelts; who ordered the slaughter of unarmed Native Americans at Wounded Knee; who made deals with the Nazis to supply them with the equipment necessary to track the numbers of Jews burned up in the Holocaust; who called in the armed forces to beat, bludgeon, and kill American workers striking for bread and wages; who are those whose voting records betray their penchant for favoring the insurance companies, the pharmaceutical companies, the oil companies over the needs of the American people--which Skumbag is the biggest taker of corporate campaign funding and voting bribes? Who are the creeps that make life gloomy, miserable, unbearable for the many? If they’ve managed to escape the justice of their due, let’s get ’em now. After the final works of literature to be included in the anthology have been selected, artist Henry Avignon and editor Michael Annis will coordinate the literary work with Avignon's abstract artworks. Pairings of images to literature is their exclusive responsibility. You can view some of the artwork already created by going to Henry Avignon’s website, or by going directly to the link on the Facebook “Omega online literary magazine” group wall. There will be at least 100 art pieces/personalities selected for the publication. Henry Avignon works on them daily. iv. A note about the ARTIST & ART: Criticisms of Henry Avignon’s “Amerikan Skumbags” art series have already been lodged, requesting that he modify his work to be less critical, more “patriotic”, or reminding him that other nations of the world have their share of skumbags. Some armchair critics have requested that he abandon his series altogether, and that we furthermore abandon this project. Henry Avignon is co-producing a work of ART, and cultural PROTEST.
He isn’t required to moderate his thinking or his vision to satisfy the contrived necessity to be either civil, "just," or patriotic. A half-century removed from the horrors of European fascism, the American public stands back and admires Picasso's “Guernica,” offering effusive praise to him for his courage, his vision, and his artistic triumph in countering the propaganda of Nazism/Fascism. We do that in awe of an historical moment in the distant past—one man, a consummate artist, refusing to turn away or back down from the sinister and cowardly acts of atrocity that became the annihilation of Guernica—one man defying the deadliest forces the world had ever seen. Now Picasso’s piece has come to be recognized as a universal symbol of the murderous acts of war throughout the history of civilization.
Time has passed and the historical record bears him out as being not only of sound mind, but of impeccable character in deciding that his artistic protest must be created for the world to understand the magnitude of the terrorism inflicted on this small village, and the dire imperative for the human race never to go to war again.
Picasso did not moderate his view to assuage the demand for temperance that I'm sure was thrust upon him as he was creating Guernica, and after it had been completed and was displayed publicly. One might argue that Picasso's response was produced in protest of an actual horrendous event. Avignon's responses in his Amerikan Skumbags series are exactly that: responses to the actual conduct, mentalities, and tragic events that have come into being from/by those we are choosing to qualify and illuminate as the skumbags that our nation has cultivated and served. I stand in awe of Avignon's “Amerikan Skumbags” series as being one in accord with that of Guernica, even though he has not yet, and may never, achieve the stature of Picasso. But then again, perhaps future generations will look back on his work with much the same favor. ~Michael Annis, literary editor of AMERIKAN SKUMBAGS; copyright © 2010 through OMEGA/Howling Dog Press. All rights reserved. *** Art Medium is directed oxidation on various metal types: galvanized, cold press, hot press, carbide, mu.
Avignon believes Metal is an ectogentic extension of human flesh which means it represents an external / metaphorical evolution of our epidermal / biological system. He is stricken by the sheer emotional register of the captured impressions noting that metal is directly associable with psychology, our relation to mortality issues revolving around safety, protection, enforcement and power: will to survive in hostile human environments mostly out of civilian ability to control. Avignon believes metal is the under/ lynch/pin of the war machine, that it ensures survival for the most equipped / resourceful / wealthy / and stationed in life, not the fittest spiritually, or the most compassionate and reasonable, or the most innocent and exposed. Avignon believes metal is the skin of injustice.
And so he utilizes metal in much of his art, having developed processes that allow him to better direct (but never control) the violent and destructive event horizon that oxidation manifests. The works are cultivated over a period of time and each work represents a moment captured in time as the volatile process is ongoing through to extinction of all life oriented coloration to a deathly black char.