Dear Little Bobby: What Is Art Anyway? and Hatin’ on Hate

Dear Little Bobby - Pyragraph

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Dear Little Bobby, 

I recently saw something called an art exhibition, but it was just a gallery filled with TV sets that were all playing different things at the same time, with music. My question is: Can this even be considered art?

—57 Channels (and Nothin’ On)


Dear THX 1138, or whatever your name is,

I could ask you, little one, what did this experience mean to you? Did you validate it inside your own heart? Did it resonate with you? What did you think about it? How did it make you feel? Blah…blah…blah….

The truth, however, is that if you do not think it is art, then for you, it is not art. What is it that YOU consider to be “art”? But wait, before you tell me, don’t tell me, because I do not actually care what you consider to be art.

Why would I? When I make art, I make it for me. If anyone, anywhere, is making what they consider to be art for themselves, then more power to them. If they are making something for others, and calling it art, I think they are actually prostitutes, not artists (I’m looking at you, Nickelback, and at you, Smashmouth).

To be clear, I have no problem with prostitution, as long as it is consensual and we call it what it is. We all see that crap on TV, hear it on the radio and see it online: the latest Drake song, a trashy photo of a young woman, or Michael Bay’s latest crap-fest of a movie are all trying to pass as art. And do NOT tell me that Transformers 4 is not pretending to be art, there were nine art directors for just that one crappy movie. Count ’em…NINE!!! There were also probably hundreds, if not thousands, of make-up artists, painters, animators, etc., that might consider themselves to be artists.

I would rather sit in a room filled with TVs, all of which are on at the same time, playing commercials, preachers, news, Kardashians, even lots of Michael Bay movies, as long as that shit is drowning itself out in a cacophony of chaos so that I do not have to focus on Mark “I have an arrest record for violent hate crimes” Wahlberg trying to act like anything other than an asshole. But where was I? Oh yes…art.

Should I think the exhibition you saw was art? I was not there and since I did not see it I cannot say. To me it sounds interesting, but I might not have liked it. It might depend on what music was playing and it might depend on my mindset going into it…ya know, my mood. But again, although I appreciate you asking my opinion, my opinion will not determine if something is art for anyone but me. And even then, my opinion changes over time.

When I was younger I did not think that The Beach Boys were art, in fact I did not think about The Beach Boys at all. But now I consider Brian Wilson to be my absolute favorite artist of all time, and more than that, he is one of my favorite PEOPLE of all time. This is a guy who’s first song basically went:

We’re going surfin’
Bom bom dip di dit
Bom bom dip di dit
Bom bom dip di dit

Not exactly Mozart, but within a few years of writing that first song he WAS being called America’s Mozart, and with good reason. Art is not just a thing, it is a process, and it is up to you and to me to decide what that means to each of us.

—Little Bobby Tucker

“I’m a cork on the ocean, floating over a raging sea. How deep is the ocean? How deep is the ocean?” —The Beach Boys, “‘Til I Die,” 1971

Dear Little Bobby,

Does humanity only ever get one Summer of Love? If not, aren’t we about due for another? Who do I talk to about scheduling that?

—Hatin’ on Haight


Dear Hatin’ on Haight,

What was responsible for the last Summer of Love which swept the US and Britain in 1967? I was not there, but it seems that certain parts of our culture were reacting to yet another tragic war abroad and unrest at home, meaning that a bunch of hateful assholes were reacting to losing some of their very powerful grip on our society. Yes, it does very sound familiar.

The Summer of Love was preceded by civil rights protests that were, by and large, very peaceful demonstrations. However they sometimes turned violent because of certain racist governors/sheriffs/police officers/etc., who decided to turn firehoses and dogs on humans who were peacefully protesting violent abuses of power.

Many civil rights leaders, activists, artists, hippies, musicians, students and others, fought this hateful oppression with the direct cure to that hate: love. Add to this new cultural expression of love, a wave of new drugs and warm weather, and boom: a perfect summer. A summer so vivid that I sometimes feel like I can remember the summer of 1967, even though I was born in ’75.

The art which came out of that summer was fleetingly beautiful. A wave of free love washed through many young people that summer. But just as The Beach Boys’ Brian Wilson found out, summers always come to an end. The war raged on for another eight years. The majority of music went back to being really terrible. Speaking of terrible music, The Rolling Stones nearly ruined the end of the ’60s all by themselves with their 1969 fiasco at Altamont, their concert which resulted in the death of a fan. Then the gritty realism of the 1970s took over, and of course the civil rights movement is far from over.

Something else happened a few weeks ago. A civil rights icon and American Hero, John Lewis, and many other Democrats held a sit-in demonstration in the chamber of the House of Representatives. They demanded action on the issue of gun violence in this country. I am so fed up with the gun lobby that I feel physically sickened by them. Which is not exactly fertile ground for a season full of love.

John Lewis is a 76-year-old civil rights leader who had his skull fractured by police officers back in 1965, when most future hippies were still looking for their rolling papers. Years before that famous Summer of Love, Mr. Lewis and others were leading a voter registration project called Freedom Summer of 1964 in Mississippi, during which 1,062 people were arrested for demonstrating, 80 Freedom Summer workers were beaten, four civil rights workers were killed and another four people were critically wounded just in Mississippi alone FOR TRYING TO VOTE! Not exactly a Summer of Love.

You, I and everyone else reading this can schedule a summer of love right now by contacting your Senators and Representatives and telling them that this epidemic of gun violence has gone on long enough. Almost 100 Americans are killed by guns EACH day. Each day of fall. Each day of winter. Each day of spring. And every single day of summer almost 100 Americans are needlessly killed by guns. Even though art has been replaced with shitty music coming from corporate radio stations, we can have a Summer of Love right now, if we get off of our asses and get involved.

—Little Bobby Tucker

“I can’t wait til summer, yeah. Cause it’s gonna be a summer of love. Hey now, well it’s a love thing.” —The Beach Boys, “Summer Of Love,” 1992

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About Little Bobby Tucker

Little Bobby Tucker was born and raised in Waco, Texas by Big Bobby and Bonnie Tucker. Since 2002, he has been the front man/glitter fairy for Shoulder Voices, a band based in Albuquerque, New Mexico, which specializes in stuffed animals and glitter. Their newest album, The Life and Death Tragedy/Comedy of the Stuffed Animal Band, was released in the summer of 2016. He has also completed 10 Duke City Marathons and enjoys eating vegetables and spending time meditating at a local Buddhist center.

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