AUDIENCES AGREE: SOME CRIMINAL ACTIVITY CONSIDERED AN ART

“I don’t want to hear who walked on water, Because the hallways are empty and the clocks tick.”
-Our Lady Peace, “Thief”

Nothing says Memorial Day like a good heist. Well, actually, there’s no relation, but I figure we should recognize everyone that has given everything for everyone. Thank you.

Now, nothing says Memorial Day like a good heist. Damn it, I did it again. Art heists are one of the most entertaining and intriguing main stage crimes a criminal can accomplish successfully. The complexity and efficiency of pulling off such an impressive act shocks the general public into almost hoping there’s no resolution and the mystery keeps its luster.

Audiences see impressive crimes in movies and what not, making the illegal seem cool, but we must remember that these acts do in fact happen in real life; somewhere, somehow, and at sometime something incredible was executed with precision.

Recently, the FBI confirmed there have been sightings of masterpieces that were stolen from Boston’s Isabella Gardner Museum back in 1990 by two men disguised as police officers sporting fake mustaches, with insider information, some rope, and some box cutters (Fox, 2014). Who would have thought that such a simple plan would get you $300 million worth of art and the option to keep your freedom?

The criminal act remains unsolved, but the intrigue of such a heist triggers research on the history of stolen art and the amazing ability of criminal masterminds.

Swedish National Museum- In 2000, $30 million worth of art was stolen from the beautiful waterfront museum with a machine gun, a bomb, flat tires, and, of course, a getaway speedboat (Layton, 2014). If that isn’t a movie scene then it should be, but the real lesson is that expensive things are ruined by water so don’t use your phone to take pictures inside and outside of the gallery.

swd landmeedchen com
Photo courtesy of landmeedchen.com

Van Gogh- The elusive criminal “The Monkey” used agility and a pair of extra hands to steal two of the famed artist’s paintings that were valued at $20 million combined. Though the criminals were captured two years later, there’s actually an outdated Dutch law that grants a thief sole ownership of a stolen piece of art if not found after 20 to 30 years (Layton, 2014). It may cost you an ear though.

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Photo courtesy of vangoghgallery.com

Munch- When you think of Norway, you think of nothing really, but Edvard Munch would say differently (if he was alive). In 2004, two thieves stole “Madonna” and “The Scream” at gunpoint; however, the $19 million haul spent a majority of its time away from the museum in European drag racer, Thomas Nataas’, tour bus without the driver actually knowing what he was transporting around. Apparently detectives believe this was all a distraction to cover up another crime, and I think we all know who the real culprit behind the schemes is.

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Photo courtesy of fearnet.com

Monuments Men- Hitler and Herman Goering would pillage societies to confiscate their artistic culture on the way to desired world domination. The Monuments Men, a group of American specialists, were able to salvage $80 million worth of stolen art from the Nazi Regime (Layton, 2014). As portrayed in the now motion picture, George Clooney was able to seduce the Nazis with his charm and good looks, just like in real life.

George Clooney in The Monuments Men
Photo courtesy of theguardian.com

Mona Lisa- The Da Vinci painting actually became famous because of the 1911 Louvre heist when Vincenzo Perugia rolled the piece in a blanket and caught a train from Paris to Italy in order to patriotically return the art to its homeland (Layton, 2014). We still can’t tell if this was appreciated by Mona Lisa because of her confusing emotional expressions (typical woman).

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Photo courtesy of npr.com

What a crime industry; it’s amazing the amount of money involved in these heists, but trust is an important factor as well. It seems a little too obvious to have a piece of art that everyone has heard of and is aware it has been stolen. Even if a buyer obtains the work through a million dollar purchase, questions will eventually arise about where the new owner got the artwork.

It’s a classy crime that deals with high society. It takes skill and precision, master thinking and confidence. You think of art thieves dressed in all black or a wonderful disguise, cool gadgets and fake credentials, and then relaxing on a patio overlooking the French Riviera enjoying an expensive glass of wine and a fine cigar. The breeze slightly disrupts perfectly positioned strands of hair as he sports stylish aviator sunglasses and a causal button down shirt exposing just enough skin that flirts between innocence and seduction; all while accompanied by his beautiful Mediterranean model wearing a bikini top and beach skirt. Did anyone else picture Pierce Bronson during that description for some reason?

Oh, what a life; much cooler than all the petty illegal crap that goes on here. Some criminals deserve to be arrested immediately because of their stupidity; others should be rewarded a grace period for their mastery before they are pursued.

Fox News (2014.) Retrieved from http://www.foxnews.com/us/2014/05/22/confirmed-sightings-missing-boston-artwork-in-decades-old-500m-heist/?intcmp=latestnews on May 23, 2014

Layton, J. (2014). Retrieved from http://entertainment.howstuffworks.com/arts/artwork/art-heist.htm#page=10 on May 23, 2014

WANNA GET AWAY? AIRLINES NOW OFFERING FLIGHTS TO MARS

“Everyday convince myself of everything I can and can’t believe.”
-Pennywise, “Alien”

To latch on to the futuristic momentum of last week, we’re now looking into something that has intrigued the great minds of historical philosophers and children with tin foil: space. Of course, space travel is out of this world (soooo clever) when it comes to human growth and technological advancement, but colonizing another planet is making the unthinkable a reality. Times sure have changed since walking on the moon (or filming it happening in a studio; however you perceive it).

Did Neil Armstrong think of that great line? I guess he had a lot of time cooped up in that shuttle, or read it from a script. Wait a minute…

Okay, believing that the moon landing didn’t happen is just as probable as aliens actually being responsible for planes vanishing in the Bermuda Triangle. However, soon we will be able to ask them.

Mars One, a private and not-for-profit venture, came from the minds of two Dutch men hoping to establish a permanent colony on the red planet. They plan to send four of Earth’s finest in the beginning, another four two years later, and eventually increase the population to 16 by 2024. This is a one-way ticket in case anyone was wondering (Bush, 2014).

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Photo courtesy of businessinsider.com

Is there at least a bar on that thing? Hopefully they don’t send just 16 men or just 16 women, then we’re really getting nowhere in our quest to populate a planet with nothing to do (maybe they should just send attractive people to start off on a good foot). Also, they need to send people that will get along. 16 individuals in closed quarters for the rest of their lives can only lead to petty drama, and it doesn’t matter how smart the people are, other’s quirks can drive even the most brilliant insane.

Over 200,000 people spanning 140 countries volunteered for the journey (Bush, 2014). That kind of proves that there are a lot more individuals than we thought that are trying to get the hell off this planet. I know a lot of people that should be rocketed out of this atmosphere and no one would miss them.

Justin Bieber sports purple animal print pants and a studded yellow cap as he leaves the Langham Hotel in London
Photo courtesy of huffingtonpost.com

The program has narrowed down the applicants to 706 and eventually hopes to cut it to 24 before the seven-year training process begins. The intelligence and the drive of some people are remarkable (maybe we shouldn’t send Bieber after all, he would ruin everything). Among the finalists, three New Mexicans are proudly in the mix: Major Ken Johnston, pilot James Wertz, and UNM grad student Zachary Gallegos who states, “Humans are meant to live, to learn, to explore (Bush 2014).” Any New Mexican is an obvious choice for the launch because they have the most experience with what could lurk in the outskirts of another planet.

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Photo courtesy of taraustralis.com

Why are we doing this? Of course, knowledge, exploration, and because we can; but what’s our obsession with downgrading our lifestyle in order to provide a new world for people in hundreds of years (and that’s being generous). Remember how long it took to build this society? That’s what we have to look forward to. Are we preparing for the apocalypse and Mars is Plan B, or is this going to be a destination spot to get away? I hear Sandals is building a resort there. Either way, we can’t even get a cruise ship from port to port safely at the moment so we have some tweaking to do before sending the best of the best and the most brilliant minds 150 million miles away.

Maybe we need to keep them around a tad longer to help sort out some things on Earth. We could always just trick them to stay.

Bush, M. “Red Planet.” Albuquerque Journal 13 May 2014

THE FUTURE OF AUTOMOBILES…TODAY

“Don’t wanna lose it, It’s electric, Boogie woogie woogie, But you can’t choose it.”
-Marcia Griffiths, “Electric Slide”

The advancement in engineering and technology has skyrocketed recently. There have always been predictions of where the world would be during a certain time period, mostly portrayed in film and set far into the 2000’s. We’re all waiting for Minority Report-influenced transportation.

Tesla Motors plans to unveil an updated line of electric vehicles that are pointing the automobile world in a more futuristic direction. To meet their expected 2015 launch, the company hopes to open the world’s largest lithium-ion battery factory somewhere amongst the deserted areas of Western America (Wang, 2014). Someone has some competition.

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Photo courtesy of cartoonspot.net

Meep meep is right, Roadrunner. The “gigafactory” is estimated to cost $5 billion to construct, and with the help of Panasonic, will hastily grow production and development of their vehicles as they prepare for their prediction of everyone using way too much electricity instead of gas within the next decade or so (Wang, 2014).

The plant is projected to span over 500 to 1000 acres including hundreds of solar panels. The motor company hopes to eventually build 500,000 cars per year by 2020, and also develop technology to cut costs for their kilowatt-hour and gigawatt-hour battery packs (Wesoff, 2014). Let the power outages begin for one lucky state. They should visit each region of the United States to make sure everyone does in fact want an electric car because it seems like they plan to build one for every person in the nation very quickly. However, there’s already another Tesla that tours so it may get confusing.

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Photo courtesy of 100XR.com

The finalists for the gigafactory are: Texas, Arizona, Nevada, and New Mexico. Please state your case.

Texas- “Everything’s bigger in Texas, partner, and we can hook you up with as much oil as ya’ll need! Wait, what’s an electric car? I reckon that’s some form of magic that won’t be tolerated here.”

Arizona- “All of your employees are American citizens right? If not, we need to explain something to you. Oh, and don’t die of dehydration or heatstroke. That shit sucks.”

Nevada- “I swear der’ll be anotha gold rush I tell ya, ya’ll will see. We can take dem nuggets o’er to Vegas and double our earnins’ and build anotha one of dem gigi plants right next to tha mines. That’s if we don’t waste our money on dem fine prostitutes, uh heh heh.”

New Mexico- “This land is sacred to our people and you are forbidden to make money off of it. It is only to be used for the earth’s creatures to roam and for the plants to bloom, oh, and that casino over there. Ask this gentleman and he will explain.”
“Que?”

In all seriousness (that’ seriously how people talk though), each finalist has a strong case. Texas has ideal access to wind power; however, direct sales of Tesla cares are banned in the Lone Star State (reference above statement from Texan), Arizona is vastly growing and other trendy businesses focused on the future of technology like Apple are building plants there, and Nevada’s open land is in close proximity to a rail system which plays in enormous factor for employees and overall production (Wesoff, 2014).

On the other hand, New Mexico provides Tesla with the opportunity to pay employees with cash at a reasonable price for reasonable work. Okay, that’s not entirely true, but the Land of Enchantment has plenty of open land not owned by Native-Americans for wind and solar power, forgotten industrialism across the state, government resources, low costs of production, and plenty of people that are looking for employment. Tesla Motors is about to create over 6,000 jobs with the opening of their factory (Wesoff, 2014). Governor Susanna Martinez needs to offer more than just a legislative session to impress Tesla; let’s work to get work so the state is more than a rest stop during travel to bigger and more advanced cities.

Wherever Tesla decides to build their gigafactory it will certainly boost that state’s economy and greatly assist in much needed employment. On the hand, it’s very realistic that they will just stay in California anyway so people shouldn’t get their hopes up. They can just not buy Tesla cars to show their bitterness.

Wang, U. (2014). Retrieved from http://www.forbes.com/sites/uciliawang/2014/05/07/tesla-makes-fast-move-to-build-two-giant-battery-factories-simultaneously/ on May 9, 2014

Wesoff, E. (2014). Retrieved from http://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/Teslas-5B-Giga-Battery-Factory-and-Deep-Politics-in-AZ-TX-NV-and-NM on May 9.2014

“STERLING” REMARKS

“Be racist, be sexist, be bigots, Be sure we won’t stand for your hate.”
-The Mighty Mighty Bosstones, “Let’s Face It”

The word “sterling” means a form of British money; however, that has no relevance. It also means excellent, valuable, true, and any other synonym you want to use. Donald Sterling said some things that could have been genuine personal feelings, but far from an excellent decision.

I joke with my co-worker, Jimmy, at the office on a daily basis, but I never have said the “N” word, and neither did Mr. Sterling. Once when referred to as an African-American, Jimmy’s response was, “I ain’t ever been to no Africa, I’m black.”

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Photo courtesy of Me

That’s not a defense for the Clippers’ now ex-owner; calling someone black is something everyone does so let’s just take that portion of the recording out of the equation. Before people send this man to the guillotine (too late), we will play devil’s advocate and look at the situation from another angle.

One quick note: Jimmy believes that everyone’s reaction to Sterling’s words has been a complete overreaction. Something to keep in mind.

First of all, Sterling sounds a little drunk, but everyone has said something borderline racist while intoxicated or not. If you haven’t, then you’re lying, or don’t have a sense of humor, or you’re not getting drunk correctly. Second, the man is 80-years-old which serves as threefold to his phrasing. One, he grew up in an era where that was how people acted and spoke. I work in an industry that revolves around older people with strong ideologies. About 75% of these people should be fined and banned from their local lodges, but will they ever act on what they say, absolutely not because they’re old and are stuck relating back to their upbringing.

Two, if you really listen to the recording, it doesn’t seem like Sterling minds black people, it’s that he cares about how others will view him if publically affiliated with them. He owns a NBA franchise so that’s kind of impossible to avoid, but maybe it’s actually his peers that are racist.

Three, dementia and being senile are also a definite possibility. Why would a man, who has won awards from the NAACP, who was running an organization in a prominently black industry, who was paying his black employees quite handsomely, and who was dating a girl who is partially black or at least some sort of minority, purposely say something like that? She actually looks kind of weird, he could have done better.

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Photo courtesy of Fox News

Another factor enters the equation: the emotional instability of a 31-year-old gold-digger. It’s safe to say that young women obsessed with a materialistic lifestyle are not the best source for information, just like TMZ, but the recording certainly sounds as if V. Stiviano is baiting Sterling to say something; especially considering his stutters to put together a complete sentence. Stiviano claimed she gave multiple recordings of the audio to friends for safekeeping because she didn’t want to hurt Sterling, and a friend sold one of the tapes to TMZ (ABC, 2014). Why were there multiple recordings of a phone conversation anyway?

We don’t know the logic behind her reasoning in this scenario because the woman’s mind will always be an enigma to the untrained eye, and that’s a scientific fact (don’t research that).

It just doesn’t make sense that he would say something like, “Don’t bring them to my games.” Has anybody ever been to a NBA game or watched one on television? Outside of Utah, the stadium is packed with different ethnicities. Sterling would never rightfully act upon his words; there’s a better chance of that happening multiple times at multiple East L.A. gas stations in the same day.

With all this being said, he said what he said and it was inappropriate and stupid. He’s now labeled as a lying, cheating racist. Commissioner David Silver banned Sterling from the NBA for life and a hefty $2.5 million fine to the praise of league participants and other owners. People can agree with the NBA’s decision or people can defend the Clippers’ ex-owner, but they need to focus on the bigger picture. Bigotry and over-sensitivity don’t mix well.

To add insult to injury, it’s been announced Sterling is battling cancer.

Let’s face it, racism still exists and it shouldn’t, but let’s face it, there are far worse things you can hear in your local bar or walking down the street; it’s clearly about who says it and to whom, not what is actually said.

ABC News (2014). Retrieved from http://abcnews.go.com/Sports/sources-donald-sterling-battling-cancer/story?id=23558069 on May 2nd, 2014.

Botelho, G. (2014). Retrieved from http://www.cnn.com/2014/04/29/us/clippers-sterling-scandal/ on May 2nd, 2014