Last night is what economy does to a healthy mind and spirit. I applied to be chef at a country club. An honest job. All kinds of edible fried widgets, never in demand, but the only thing offered. This is the true economy. The interior of a new car made to look like a living room. I would want it to be more like the floor of a covered wagon but one doesn’t get what he desires in economy. Coffee packaged uniformly and sold rot cheap to favor the industrialists, not the consumer. There are plenty of like-minded souls who would prefer to walk out into the groves with José and shake our own cherries off coffee bushes. No, we can only pick from what is offered. Like a job. Supply and demand is an intellectual fib crafted by robber barons and repeated by undergrads who pursued a degree in teaching because the economy refused to allow another individual entry into society. Too many of those rabble-rousers and all Chinese factories would shut down. Who has ever demanded a mass produced laser copied oil painting from Target? No one. But they are there. How about a 10 ounce box of cereal for $4.29? No one. But they are still there. So much for supply and demand. More like “We supply, and you pretend to demand, or else!”
So the best our economic society can do for a lightly talented painter is place him as a line cook at a country club of pot-bellied men. Top consumers hoping to improve their handicap by day and expected to down fried oysters at night. Each one plays the game as if there could never be more than eighteen holes. Less is acceptable, but not counting in a serious way. Two or three stints later they wonder, after a couple scotches (never a drink much liked, but the only one offered), why a bright guy like me is nearing 50 plating fried haddock and cobb salads to old men who would rather be served hot oatmeal and tucked into bed. “Can’t say,” says I, “Maybe things are better in Santa Fe, but probably nay”.
Oh yes. The line cook was a lightly talented word artist too.
So to all southwestern creatives hawking their wares. Do you have room for a painter who doesn’t paint like you or you? I understand how competition can be healthy for the consumer, but must be avoided by the producer at all costs. So I don’t expect the wonders of Santa Fe to be revealed gratis. I just want to know if it’s true that I can offer my paintings on the street. A side street. A park. Are there renegade economics professors up from Albuquerque refusing to play along with the demands of their “betters”? I mean, casual romantics, who visit Santa Fe to buy Throop art at half the cost of a Chinese factory produced Walmart original? I need to know in order to keep from doing crazy and following through with the application for kitchen manager at the local country club. For if it is true, that men and women can create their own demand for luxury goods in Santa Fe, then maybe my hometown can be cajoled into expressing their humanity by demanding that humanity be put back into our economy. Or, might I have to accept the fact that I live in a region of the country hopelessly incapable of ever building a creative economy? If the latter, then death to the spirit or a mid-life crisis move out to Santa Fe.
To put my private economic choice into words: The oily artery of a fried oyster to achieve status in Hell? Or the rice and beans of a poor painter to achieve rice and beans in Heaven?