Uh oh. I'm in for it now. Last time I wrote a headline that really pissed readers off was this one: Our Moderately Medicated Mutt (or Pest In Show). It was an article about our dog Tucker, and those who read the entire article learned that I thought he was the "best goddamn dog I've ever had, or known of." Animal lovers who didn't read the article all the way through wrote me hate mail for writing such things as: 'No more dog hair in the corners! No more pestering to go out every five minutes!' I’d exclaim, knowing damn well how foolish I look, grandstanding in my boxer briefs with much of the elastic waistband chewed out." Ah well.
I didn't support Trump. I wonder if that's a big surprise to anyone who knows I'm a musician?
To my friends who are involved in the arts someway, somehow: we're going to lose funding. That's probably no surprise. If it is a surprise, well then I'm not sure that spending your time in the arts is the right career choice. That's the nature of the arts. We get money, we lose money.
Here's the thing. Out of the artistic quagmire that we will be in for the next 4 years (or 2 months, as some of my colleagues are predicting), we will flourish in our studios. This will be an era of unbridled, unprecedented creativity; a fertile breeding ground for the right side of the brain. Musicians, painters, beat poets, writers, we will create. We have a reason and that reason comes in the form of a great artistic muse: Rebellion.
Think about how many great songs were inspired by the Nixon years. Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young's "Ohio" comes to mind (and will now be stuck in my head for the day, thank you very much). "Fortunate Son," by CCR, "Imagine," by John Lennon, even Springsteen's "Born in the USA," a song about how poorly America treats its veterans, (and ill-advisedly used by Reagan on the campaign trail), were all written during conservative times.
The photographer Robert Mapplethorpe, and artist Keith Haring reached their peak of popularity during the Reagan/Bush years. Go back further, and you'll find Andy Warhol invented popular art with his soup cans late in the Eisenhower years. He introduced them to the world when Kennedy was in office, which sparked a new dawn of art in America.
And I may be in the minority here, but this season of SNL is already great, thanks to this political climate. I don't care which side you're on, Baldwin's impression of Trump is pretty damn funny. I used to fast forward through Weekend Update, and now I'm re-watching Michael Che and Colin Jost, arguably as good as Tina and Jimmy were. In fact, the best seasons have been when a Republican has been in office. When George W. Bush was in, we had Will Ferrell doing impressions of him and Janet Reno. When W.'s dad was in office, we got Hans and Frans, The Church Lady, and the first debate parodies (Dana Carvey as Bush and Jon Lovitz as Dukakis? Comedy GOLD). Hell, the very first two seasons of SNL happened when Gerald Ford was at the helm. And what about when Reagan was in control? Ok, bad example; we were all feeling pretty good about America back then (525 electoral votes for Reagan), which is comedy poison. (Anthony Michael Hall, Robert Downey Jr., and Randy Quaid? What could go wrong?)
My point is, my creative friends, lock yourself up, turn off the T.V., stop reading your Facebook 'news' feed, and write, paint, take pictures, sing, dance. For the next four years, support the arts; go to museums, art galleries, and concerts. Donate to NPR. Maybe even throw some loose change in a guitar case on the street.
Be inspired, and inspire.
Let's Make America Create Again.
(Sorry - I couldn't resist.)
Brian Vander Ark is old enough to remember the Kennedy assassinations, race riots, Watergate, and riding with 4 siblings in the back of a pickup truck on a highway doing 70 mph, so he's not all that concerned about a Trump presidency. Whether you support Trump or not, you should support Brian and other musicians like him, because both sides of the fence can agree on one thing: We all love music.