but I didn’t even wish for it

Got a call from Steve Huss, the city liaison to the Cultural Affairs Commission, and he informed me that I had been appointed Chair, was I aware?

No.

Uncertain whether this represents an apex or a nadir in the Mayor’s engagement in the arts.

Results of ego-check
some cross between three things:

  1. Outrage. Surely ensuring proper leadership of Oakland’s local arts agency would require more than a perfunctory note to staff. Coincidentally the current Harpers has a great re-visit of the monkey-typewriter-shakespeare contemplation, so maybe that’s where we’re at now. It hardly matters who is on the dais for this body because it’s highly unlikely anything will come of our exercising. Unfortunately, I don’t know if we’re playing the role of the monkey or the role of the typewriter. It’s appropriate to the think the Mayor might play the role of Shakespeare.
  2. Forehead Slapping Irony. Leadership appointments are the least of our worries in light of the amputating cuts to arts funding the City is gearing up to implement. But if we can hang with the subject a bit longer: I had numerous conversations with staff and commishees about what the Commission’s resolution’s guidelines were for replacing Chris Johnson, the Chair who termed out of the Commission this month. Staff had a recommendation for the Mayor which included a Vice Chair, but that position is elected annually by the Commission itself, something it hasn’t thought of doing for several years. Who would want to be chair, I repeatedly wrote and said, when s/he would have to preside over the dismantling of the arts agency and the death of the commission itself? How could I be chair, I thought to myself, when my conflicts of interest have led to repeated losses of quorum?
  3. Diabolical Delight. For a wee moment, there is a perception of authority, however restricted, about as close to my persona as is likely to occur ever. As a situationist and a freak, I feel this appointment is a liberation, albeit a liberation to live an Evelyn Waugh book, or a Terry Gilliam movie.

    The future of Oakland Arts is quite horrible from a bureaucratic standpoint, but a thousand flowers continue to bloom. Importantly, it looks as though no one is really paying attention. Since most good things happen when the hall monitor is looking the other way…

Let’s get started.

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