Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Everyone Hearts NY in Their Own Way

Anon family (Spain) 08.26.13
Everyone sees New York a little differently. Some from afar, some from deep down in the bowels of the beast and others from other places. But all from some point of awe or amazement or sometimes confusion. It's just that way. It's so New York.  Cont...

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Make Every Friday a Black Friday!

Bryony  04.04.13

As you can see, there's still plenty of black art available on Cyber Monday – or yellow, blue or red – many shades of red actually. Today we feature #iThinkOutsideMyBox's Monochrome series (below). And these are some of my favourites. As usual, any contribution of $100 (add $10 for shipping and handling) entitles you to a signed, numbered print of your choosing on museum quality, acid-free paper. 

To order, simply choose your donation method, tax deductible (Fractured Atlas),  or standard (PayPal), then email me with your print title and mailing information. 

 Your contributions help keep #iThinkOutsideMyBox alive. Thank you.

Monday, November 25, 2013

A Week for Thanks and Giving

#iTOMB November 2013. Photo: Siddharth Choksi
In this week of thanks and giving we thank Mary and Karen and Kathleen for their kind donations and do encourage all to order an #iThinkOutsideMyBox print for the holidays. With cold weather here, your online support will see us through the winter.  Thank you all for giving. Also, please see our Press Release below and forward to interested parties you may know.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Choose your free print with $100 Contribution to #iThinkOutsideMyBox

Romi 09.30.12
From now,  until forever, take a print of your choosing from our gallery series (below) for contributions to #iThinkOutsideMyBox of $100 or more - or choose any print from the site for contributions over $100 (please include $10 for shipping and handling).

Each print will come original size, 3"X3" on archival acid-free paper - hand trimmed to eliminate background textures - then shadow mounted and signed with artist notes and dates. Ready to frame.

To order, simply choose your donation method, tax deductible (Fractured Atlas),  or standard (PayPal), then email me with your print title and mailing information. Voi La!  Your contributions are always greatly appreciated and we're happy to send a print to commemorate your help. Thank you all:)

Thursday, November 7, 2013

#iTOMB: Love > $, but $ > #%@*!

They say it is better to give than to receive, but anyone with their head screwed on reasonably straight might question that. Of course you'd rather get things. Good things. And on that front I feel proud of what the #iThinkOutsideMyBox project has been able to give emotionally - to New York, to America, to the world - and yes, to me personally so that we all get something out of the exercise - if maybe only, just a moment of peace

Thanks to Thiag (Brazil) 11.23.12
In the last year the #iThinkOutsideMyBox project has gone from a one-man activist vehicle to a global community art mandate supporting freedom of expression, an American First Amendment right, but more probably a worldwide human right. And our effort has not gone unnoticed. Recently we've been recognized by the Smithsonian's Cooper/Hewitt National Museum of Design, for socially responsible design, The National Gallery of Art, as photographic subject matter and Fractured Atlas for artistic and social merit. And as our profile has grown, so have our needs.

Skyrocketing from 500 individual paintings in the fall of 2012 to over 7000 today, we are inundated by public art and unable to process in a Bloombergian way. Translation? If we had Michael Bloomberg's money and artistic support that would be nice - but we don't. So we rely on your help, from paintbrush to wallet - to help support the world's largest collection of publicly painted art - made in NYC.


Donate now!

Fractured Atlas is our Fiscal Sponsor. They make your donation to #iThinkOutsideMyBox tax deductible. Example: Let's say you wanted to donate your old iPhone4 ($200) to us (which we really need)? You would receive a tax deduction of $200, and that could be a real number depending on your tax rate. (Email me if you can donate a phone) And monetary donations are deductible as well. Just click the Fractured Atlas logo above or on the left sidebar of the site and your $ contribution is tax deductible.

PayPal is the next best way to donate. It's not tax-deductible for you, but it's still good karma in our bank and appreciated the same as tax-dodger money:) PayPal donations help us buy paint, food and transport with our PayPal debit card so we see the benefits immediately, whereas, Fractured Atlas takes up to 90 days for us to see. Click above to donate through PayPal.


Short term, $1000. That will get us to the end of the year. And it's a number we need to see before launching a full KickStarter campaign. This number needs to be a ray of support that we can leverage to launch a push for year-long support from a larger community - the artistic grant community (We are currently applying to the National Endowment for the Arts, MacArthur, Soros, Guggenheim and other programmes). But currently, our expenses are now at a grand, aside from our operating income. They include, replacement iPhone ($200), computer upgrades ($300), Internet and phone access monthly ($100), storage ($60 monthly) Metro monthly ($125) and so on - so we need your help to fill these needs. 


Please know that your donation goes to support a greater public need, the need for all people to freely express themselves in a public forum - something we didn't see until the response to the project became overwhelming. I thank you all deeply for your continuing support and hope to advance the #iThinkOutsideMyBox initiative in the years to come :)

Friday, November 1, 2013

Saturday, October 12, 2013

#iThinkOutsideMyBox Approved for Fiscal Sponsorship by Fractured Atlas

#iTOMB: Moving Forward - Now Tax Deductible

Our fiscal sponsor
Today we were honored by the Fractured Atlas board of directors for accepting us for fiscal sponsorship. This means that the #iThinkOutsideMyBox project is on to a new phase in becoming a registered 501(c)3 non-profit corporation. Aside from being who we have been for the last year, it's our first major step. This means that now all contributions to our effort, if made online, are now tax deductible.

And donations of property are also deductible, like iPhones, computer equipment and even vehicles (I'd personally like a vintage Aston Martin) - although we are greatly in need of an updated iPhone (4/4s/5). Please email and ask me for details.

#iThinkOutsideMyBox is an open mind project promoting freedom of expressioncreative problem solving and socially responsible design. We operate through the #iTOMB public painting project. sm@rt cart production and associated corporate/school/foundation programs that facilitate creativity. That means, we have fun, we get stuff done (GSD) and try to make a positive difference.

With the winter months approaching, your donation means more than ever so please consider whatever is appropriate for you. $5, $10, $25, $50 or larger, we haven't seen a dollar that didn't help - and now, those dollars are tax deductible (and we get 93 cents for every one:) 

So please contribute, and thank you all as we move forward in this pretty amazing journey:)

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

America 2013: a State of Denial

As we enter our second week of the "Government Shutdown" we come to realize that the government hasn't really shut down at all - just the fun parts like the National Park Service and all the museums. But the mail still comes, police are on the street, prisoners still locked up and the military has been assured that their paychecks won't stop - not to mention that all the legislators who voted for the shutdown, or didn't, are still getting their cheques as well. 

So it doesn't matter. The sky is not falling, but even assured that the sky will stay where it is, there is disconcerting evidence that our underpinnings are eroding - that creating the world's largest prison population through the War on Drugs and creating a permanent underclass of people who live below the poverty line through unemployment and insufficient job creation will eventually come to threaten the backbone of our country. And the average American is just blithely unaware of any of this at all - living in a State that is in a State of Denial.

The New Jim Crow - Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness

This book, by Michelle Alexander, Stanford Professor and Civil Rights lawyer, has become a national best seller by illuminating the fact that since 1980 and the start of the War on Drugs, that the US prison population has grown from roughly 300,000 to over 2.3 million (the highest in the world) and that over 80% of the prisoners are black or Latino - not to mention that there has never really been a 'drug problem' in the United States (Crack didn't even show up until 1985 and most of the prisoners are in for minor marijuana violations).

But the fact that most of the prisoners are black cannot be overlooked. As simple as it might be for the police to be busting down the doors of frat houses at universities across the country looking for joints, that's not what's happening. Instead the police focus on low income areas with more poorly educated residents because it's just plain easier to not only arrest, but to convict them. And once convicted, mostly of drug felonies, they lose their chance of ever becoming functioning, taxpaying, members of society - and so end up adding to our national economic woes. And did you know that prisoners are not counted in our numbers of unemployed? And that once released, stay unemployed because felons are certain pariah for any worthwhile employment.

And so we, as a country, have chosen not just to incarcerate our poorest, least educated members, but to screw them for life by never giving them the shot that Barack Obama or Oprah Winfrey got. That's not going to work out well for us.

Give us your poor, your tired your hungry - or we'll just make them ourselves

What's the poverty rate in America? How many are there? What's the poverty threshold? And what is one supposed to do once they reach a 'threshold'? According to the US Census Bureau, nearly 50 million Americans can be considered as living below the poverty line - and 20% of our entire population are children living below that line. How might we think that's going to grow into the future? When the total poor population of any developed country reaches the size of more than Spain or Argentina that just can't be a good idea. Statistically, the Chinese have fewer people below their poverty line than we do. And the average American thinks the Chinese are poor.

Mayor Mike Bloomberg here in New York thinks that just adding more rich people to the mix would solve it - so that they can pay the taxes that support everyone else. "If we can find a bunch of billionaires around the world to move here, that would be a godsend, because that’s where the revenue comes to take care of everybody else.", he says. But that seems just totally bass-ackwards, because the way people get rich is by selling things to the middle classes - so the more you grow the poor side of the equation the less market there is for reasonable profit margins from the people who are making a decent buck.

Why not grow the middle class by growing it out of the less fortunate class? Why not graduate the poor to the middle by providing a path of growth based on acquiring knowledge, experience and providing value to society? Maybe Mr. never President Bloomberg can answer that question for me - because I'm not a billionaire - just an aspiring social architect.

But economically, it makes sense. For every commercial dollar you put back into the hands of a socially dependent citizen, that's less you have to spend on taking care of them, and the more that they put back into the commercial spectrum by buying a bag of chips, a bus ticket, whatever. The money our government puts into the food-stamp program doesn't help anyone economically. It's just an expense - whereas, should that dollar go directly to that person, they're going to spend it in a way that benefits a few other citizens.  

Take your percentage, rich people, but don't take so much. The disparity between rich and poor in this country is the issue - not that we don't have enough money so we have to shut the good parts of the government down. We just manage our finances poorly. That's the issue - our State of Denial.

So where does the money come from to realign our society?

Chart please:

World military spending in billions

But wait a minute. China has five times the number of people to protect as we do. So why are they not near as preoccupied by war as we? Maybe it's because they're not pissing off nearly the number of people we are globally. And maybe because one of China's major sources of income is us - both in commercial products made in China and sold in the US and in debt. For all the money the US borrows every time we raise the "debt ceiling", the majority of it comes from China. But that's not really the story here. The story is that for all our military spending, for having not only the highest incarceration rate (and wildly higher per-capita) in the world and for having the developed world's nearly worst child poverty rate - that we are grossly fucking up our future.

World child poverty rates by country

And barely a small fraction of America knows these things. A collective State of Denial that allows the rest of them to make the monthly payments on the Chevy, keep the cable and maybe repaint the house next year. But the last thing most Americans want to hear about is how their children will have to deal with this - and a Chinese kid will not. "Just get the kid out of college - and then I'll be out-a here", they think. 

But when you think that the total number of convicts sent to Australia over an 80 year period from England (the penitentiary in England being embarrassing and a totally American concept they thought) was only 160,000, and they turned out fairly well, I might think that setting our prisoners free, growing a society that supports the common man and not needing a military to defend anyone against that - might be a worthy goal. 

But it won't be called America. It will be a State of Acceptance - instead of a State of Denial. 

Maybe called just, "Home".

Friday, August 9, 2013

Definition of Poverty: When Nearly a Third of America Lives In a Third World Country

Guest Post: Today's post is written my Maxime Rieman, Senior Analyst and Writer for NerdWallet, a financial website for the average American.

Only in a dream
Happy 237th Birthday America! The land of the free, home of the brave, wealth and abundance... Wait, what? Wealth and abundance? It looks really great in print, but does wealthy still describe contemporary America? With over 22% of American children (16.1 million) living in poverty and over 15% of the general American population (46.2 million) living in poverty, can the United States still be considered the land of plethoric abundance as others and even we, ourselves, tend to describe it? Does the American Dream of equality and material prosperity—an owned home with a white picket fence around it—still thrive in America today? Perhaps optimists may cling onto the last thread of this intricately woven dream, but we might just need a reality check.

Poverty in the US

How often do you even hear of poverty in the news? Not very often. Even during presidential debates? Nope. Anywhere at all? Not really. Americans, who have managed a decent living for themselves and their families, are cut off from the world of poverty in their own country and possibly unaware of it entirely. Oh, but poverty is very real and it is on every street corner.

About half of all Americans over 65 experience poverty. If you thought 46.2 million was too much, just think that if not for social security, 67.6 million more individuals would be added to that number. These numbers, however, only reflect the number of people who are recognized as living in poverty—below the poverty line—and not those barely getting by.

The poverty line itself is another concern; it is hardly representative of the standard of living in the US. $23,550 for a family of four is absurd. That’s barely $2000 per month for four individuals with countless expenses, including rent, meals, transportation, schooling, clothing, and other essentials. Let’s consider this same family of four with double the income; even this is still too little, yet over one third of Americans, 106 million, endeavor to fend for themselves in this situation.

Poverty on the rise in America

America’s Homeless

Currently, about 630,000 individuals call the streets of America their home. This official number is really just an estimate; it is inherently difficult to count the number of individuals who don’t have a permanent place to call home. Some families out of sheer desperation to keep a roof above their heads, double up with other families in homes that can barely hold one family.

Which first world country has the greatest number of homeless, you ask? You guessed it, the United States. At 630,000, we have more than double Canada’s 300,000; Australia has 105,000, while the United Kingdom has only 10,500. Just a side note, Sweden and Finland theoretically have no homelessness at all since citizens who don’t have a home are provided ones.

These comparisons may seem innocuous, until you realize how we fare in comparison to third-world countries. We have more than 302 times the GDP (nominal) of Tunisia, 29 times their population, yet as a post-revolution country they have 1/315 the number of homeless that we do. Eh, you say? Somalia has been amidst a civil war for more than two decades; Somalia has 1.5 times the number of our homeless population as internally displaced persons—a direr, yet comparable form of homelessness—but we have 83 times their GDP per capita. So while it’s easy and quick to argue that the US’s population is playing a large role in terms of the numbers, it does not explain why despite our more bountiful resources, we are not doing more to help our own citizens. Our desire for rugged individualism can’t support our equally shared desire for first world status. Our fear of government intervention, even on the level exemplified by Sweden and Finland, might just be the reason we lose our status in the future.

Unemployed in the Land of Opportunity

In June, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported the number of unemployed workers in America, unskilled to highly skilled, to be 11.8 million people. Let’s put this into perspective. Consider Norway, a sovereign nation of 4.7 million. The number of unemployed workers in the US is 2.5 times the population of Norway, yet their unemployment rate at 3.7% is slightly less than half of ours (7.6%)! It is difficult to fathom that number of people without a job, which will eventually translate into the number of people without an income, can be that much higher than the entire population of another country.

The unemployment rate that gets touted in the news is only half the story. This unemployment rate only reflects the number of people who currently collect unemployment benefits and can actively be tracked. If you take into account the number of individuals who have given up looking for jobs or have given in to taking temporary, part-time jobs just to make ends meet, the real unemployment rate or “U-6” is a whopping 14.3% and counting.

Many argue that U-6 is more realistic and should be the official unemployment rate because the longer individuals go without jobs, the less likely they are to ever get back on a payroll, thus they eventually stop looking for jobs or take whatever they can get in the interim. We should be concerned about this population because, as even politicians have been forced to admit, we have no solutions to help this growing demographic.

Equality Only in Theory?

30 million Americans have been added to food stamp rolls since the beginning of the 21st century, leaving the current number at 50 million Americans. Despite the declining condition and growing needs of the country, members in Congress wish to cut $20.5 billion from the food stamp program.3

On the other hand, our 2013 military budget was $728 billion dollars, only after $55 billion was cut from its originally requested level. The United States spends more on its military than the next ten highest military-spending countries combined. Why are we so willing to allocate more money to the military than to food stamp programs, which help fill the hungry stomachs of Americans? Some food for thought, pun intended.

As generous as we are to funding our military, we are curiously reluctant to aid war veterans who suffer from physical disabilities, mental illness, and other war-inflicted disorders. In fact, veterans are 13% of the adult-homeless population. If you ask me, I would prefer more of my tax dollars to go towards those who already risked their lives and are now suffering for the sake of my freedom.

How long will we as a nation continue to find it acceptable to ignore the increasing number of poor, homeless and/or hungry citizens in our so-called “first world” country? The foundations of this country are shaking; we must work towards preventing our dream from crumbling under the weight of our ignorance and indifference for matters of that should be of priority.


Maxime Rieman is a writer for NerdWallet, a financial literacy website that helps consumers make informed choices about the big things like mortgages and education to the little things like finding the best car insurance companies or getting a deal on that vacation you’ve always wanted.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

America Continues to Arrest Artists and Performers

Soviet Union c. 1975: A violinist was arrested in the subway last week for, you didn't guess it,  playing a violin. And yes, those of us old enough to remember what we were told about that evil Soviet empire at the time might find that odd, but that was then, and this is now - in America, nonetheless.

How's that New World Order workin' out for us?

But Matthew Christian, the violinist and staunch advocate of Buskers Rights,  is not alone. All over the city, musicians, performers and artists are being summonsed, arrested and harassed for their exercise of their, and your, First Amendment rights. And if you don't think that really matters to you, read on.

#iTOMB Tim Purdue Skateboard (PathOfLife) 07.26.13
Last Friday on the High Line, my regular spot for over one year, I painted this skateboard for a really nice guy named Tim, whilst under the watchful eye of Captain Rowan of the NYC Park Enforcement Police (PEP) for roughly two hours. And yes, for free - which was my offer to Tim from the start.

But the law in NYC parks regarding artists and performers, over the past few months, has changed - very different from the law on streets or in the subways.

It is  now illegal to take any money in CP, Union Square, The High Line or Battery Park (unless in an already taken designated spot) for any expressive endeavor - in a  public space, a space that we all own - in this capitalist country, a country that revolted against British rule over double taxation (and wearing truly silly red uniforms:).

Performers, and facilitators like myself, in NYC parks above, are now, not allowed to accept money for exercising their First Amendment rights - even if people enjoy it :-?

#iTOMB Girls At Work 07.26.13
So with my brush in hand, I listened to Captain Rowan explain all the ways in which he could bust (harass) me, even for promoting art and expression for free - and it was clear that if I didn't leave, he would simply make up a reason to bust me. And with my previous unlawful arrest experience in this trade, I packed up, and went home. Reluctantly.

And it wasn't your first amendment rights being violated, was it? Only another's. But you could just wait until the NSA is using your last cellphone message against you in your trial for speaking your mind, couldn't you?

Please support your local artist and do sign the petition supporting artist's rights here.

To support #iTOMB outside the parks, we have just launched the #iThinkOutsideMyBox product store online. Here you can find designs that help support the cause: To make sure you can say whatever you want, even when big brother says you can't:) Our first item is Tim's skateboard design, entitled: PathOfLife.

Keep Calm and Carry On:)

#iTOMB Anon 07.27.13

Saturday, June 29, 2013

I Think Outside My Box Goes Corporate: In a Good Way:-)

As a silhouette on screen I speak to an inconvenient truth.

The continued matriculation of the I Think Outside My Box (iTOMB) project finds me at as much of a surprise as those who see and experience it for the first time - and I am caused to reflect on its humble beginnings as just a cardboard box in a pile of cardboard at Occupy Wall street and think about how it has grown from a pretty good 'one line joke' activist vehicle (a man sitting in a box that says "I Think Outside My Box") to a full blown creative platform for thousands upon thousands of people to freely express themselves through just cardboard, acrylic paint and simple brushes.

On Tuesday, 12 June, I was proud to host the concept in Midtown Manhattan at what is arguably, "the largest worldwide advertising agency by global footprint",according to, and the subject of my talk was about "Starting from scratch". 

"What if you had to throw away, all the corporate crowns of creativity in the advertising business (the awards, the bonus', the corner office, etc.), and begin again? What would you do?", I was asked.

And my answer has already played out. I'd think outside my box. But on this particular day, my audience was a group of top agency creatives who's perch at the top of an industry could be in jeopardy if they don't rethink themselves and their approach to their businesses quite seriously. And who better to enlighten them, than a man who's been in their position before - and in some cases, in a better position than they.

For those who don't know, I didn't begin my creative career in a box. I began it as a sign painter and journalist as I worked my way through college in both trades finally graduating with a degree in Corporate Communications (concentration: Graphic Design) and a minor in Journalism. And then moving on to become a VP at a top 3 global agency and founder of the first 100% foreign invested agency in Korea.

But on this day, I needed to be just a man, a man stripped of most of what my audience might have considered valuable and brought to his bare credentials - the claim that he was indeed "creative".

To do this, I decided that the worst way would have been to walk into a room and talk about it. Because that's boring and these people wouldn't care. No, for this we needed a device, a suspension of disbelief, a bit of threatre - some mystery, a MacGuffin, if you will - decidedly not a trick, but a way to hold interest that would allow me to get through a seemingly complex story in an unencumbered and convincing way - wanting them to know in the end, who the real man behind the story was.

So thus came the silhouette. A backlit figure, actually behind a screen (with the projector behind me), that could speak with his audience in realtime, whilst controlling a Powerpoint presentation that carried all the visuals to illustrate the live narration and provide a foil I could interact with throughout the presentation. Example: As a live silhouette, I could actually point to pictures of on the screen or even look at myself on the screen, or other images, so bringing one's standard PPT alive in a way that even I hadn't seen before. And since there was no rehearsal, the toys I had provided myself by creation of the live silhouette on live screen, were only made apparent as I worked through the show.

And trust me, it was great fun. Great, great fun. By bringing iTOMB alive in this way I caused the participants to imagine, not only the career and frame of mind that caused me to conceive it, but what it might be like to participate, interactvely as painters, creators and protaganists in whatever the next chapter of iTOMB might be.

In summary, the Global Creative Director who had brought me in said this: "David, thank you - You touched us all and made us think. You made us think! And in the end isn't that what we are supposed to do." 

And so we did. We thought. And I am now caused to think about what propelled me to create the box, a box in which I would need to think my way out of - and the answer lies as such:

You don't go from being a Vice President at the largest advertising agency in the United States, as I was, to protesting at Occupy Wall Street because you screwed the whole situation up yourself - but when it comes to sorting oneself out of that situation, there is no one better than you to do the critical thinking, put pedal to metal (or brush to cardboard as I did), and make the solution so, so much bigger than the canvas one was given.

This I hope, is what we did, with a little smoke and mirrors, last Tuesday for a company and staff that needs, in many ways, to start from scratch. I did it with truth, and a simple, compelling execution of such. Where they go now, is simply up to them. 

I've been told my personal branding is spot on:-)

My best to those who welcomed me into their professional home for the afternoon:-) For more on corporate applications of iTOMB, please contact me.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

iTOMB: Supporting Our First Amendment Rights

You have the right to speak freely, but that right must be defended:)

And so the battle wages on - as if expressing oneself should be a battle:(

In 2011, according to the New York Times, the city "cracked down" on vendors of art and performers in city parks by issuing sommonses to performers for accepting donations for whatever their art might have been - singing, dancing, playing an instrument or reciting Shakespeare. An Orwellian nightmare? The Fascist's boot? No, this is America, and not just any America. This is America in New York City - a city that prides itself in its production and consumption of all things artistic - Broadway, Carnegie Hall, The Met (both of them), MoMA and more.

But those vaunted institutions and their presentations have been pre-approved by the powers that be and certified not to be the Naked Cowboy - but so long as he stays in Times Square and doesn't gallup up to Central Park, even the Naked Cowboy is legal NYC entertainment - and entitled to his dollar. It's only those performers in the parks that are the problem - maybe because the city can't pick and choose the performances they get and doesn't get a percentage of their bucket - a King's ransom for sure.

Ronald L. Kuby, a civil rights attorney involved in the 2011 proceedings, described the practice of fining minstrels and the like as such: "This is a heavy-handed solution to a nonexistent problem,”, he said.

And so we have the right to speak freely it seems, just so long as we are not being compensated for our thoughts. And therein lies the rub. If our thoughts are so interesting as to elicit a buck from a passerby, the city would like a cut. They'll approve and even pay for all sorts of artistic Tom-foolery, like turning the Columbus statue into a trailer home velvet Elvis, if it brings in a buck. But all those pesky park buskers - "Do they bring us a buck?", the city asks. Probably more than any Bloomocrat (kind of like a Belieber) could know. Without street performers New York wouldn't be the cultural Petrie dish that millions of tourists come to experience every year.

In 2011 the edict was for performers to stay away from statues, benches  and monuments in city parks. "Why" is another question. Fast forward to today and the most recent amendment to the park rules tells performers to just stay away - period - from city parks in their entirety.

The New York World reports: "Since 2010, the city has steered art, book and other “expressive matter” vendors in parks to specific locations: along the curb, away from park furniture like benches and at least 50 feet away from a monument. In Union Square, Battery Park, the High Line and parts of Central Park, they may work only in designated vending areas.

Now singers, rappers, jugglers, dancers and contortionists — even human statues — will have to join them, if they perform in exchange for a fee or a donation." 

But there are only so many 'designated' spots available, marked by a plastic medallion in the pavement -  and those are already taken. And so without additional designated areas, the message to performers is simply this: "Go away. Or we will put you in jail".

And artist Robert Lederman knows. He's been arrested nearly 50 times since the 90s for promoting his art, yet has never been convicted. Conversely, he's counter sued for false arrest and become a cultural icon and cottage industry for artists rights.

“They did affidavits and testified orally in my case claiming that because of the ruling they had no choice but to take entertainment and street performers out of the park rules, and now they are putting them back in. They are going to get sued about this by every performer.”, he said about the current amendment, which effectively bans performing artists from city parks.

iTOMB's contribution to our city's public art malaise. Stephanie 03.28.13

But with our work on iTOMB, I'm confused. Can I really be fined or jailed  in America for providing people the tools to express themselves in a public space? I'd better consult with Ai Wei Wei about what it's like to do a few weeks in a government re-education camp.

Our performance is executed by everyone and everyone loves it in a space that everyone payed for. What's wrong with the picture this all paints? Time, the Parks Department, the cops, artists, the public and the courts will tell. But for now there are just a couple of things that we can do to bring our plight to a higher light:

1) Contact New York City Parks Commissioner, Veronica M. White, and tell her that you support performers in our parks. This will make your voice heard to those who are serving you.

2) Tweet or Instagram with your iTOMB photo, "I like iTOMB @HighLineNYC". This will let park admin know that iTOMB is much more a community service than a business. News about our 501(c)3 non-profit application, soon.

I'm working on a game plan and petition for all performers and preparing for the very likely eventuality that I will be cited and possibly arrested for helping the masses think, but in the meantime, I'm advocvating one or two of the above.

On a more personal note, I am including below, a copy of Todd Rundgren's career retrospective concert with the Metropole Orchestra in Amsterdam last year. Having created the world's first artist based music subscription service, and even allowing fans to re-configure his music into user friendly compositions, Todd has evoked the spirit I try to bring to iTOMB. The spirit that we are all born free to create and that not creating, and sharing our visions with the society at large, would be the greatest crime of all.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

A Song About A Man In A Box & A Thousand Artists At The Edge

Nothing Much Happened Today In     insert city name here     . That's a blog post title I used frequently at The Wild Wild East Dailies, because just when you think that nothing's going on, there's a lot going on.

For me, this cold weather has revealed its share of surprises. First up, Steve Baldwin of Occupy music fame has penned and recorded a song about me and iTOMB called "The Man In The Box". With the actual event of Occupy Wall Street now working on being nearly two years old, many of us long for the days of Zuccotti Park - the days when thousands of us actually lived in a city park and exercised our first amendment rights every day. This song not only brings us back, but reminds us of why we went there in the first place. It was fun! And so, not like the next place I visited.

Andrew Purchin and put together quite the bash for the Inauguration, an installation of artists dressed in white jumpsuits and orange hats just making art in public:) Quite the freeform expressionist ignoring of an event devoted to near nazi-like propaganda. But it was still great fun - like Occupy without the cops! Check out Andrew's review of the event here. As part of my participation, I wrote a few stories for Mike Felber and his soon-to-be-launched new art magazine, At The Edge.

At The Edge will have it's launch party at the Empire Room, and yes, that's at the friggin' Empire State Building, and iTOMB and I are planning a mass paint-in - except they're real worried about us getting paint all over the place:) At The Edge has gained national distribution for Mike's first print and web publication and the launch party looks to be just the way to kick things off . If you are interested in attending (it's free) click the launch party link above and sign up. Things will be happening until the wee hours and should be quite fun.

So that's what's not happening. Pretty good for a winter the groundhog said would be already over:( Again, nothing much happened in New York today.

Monday, January 28, 2013

iTOMB: Bringing the First Amendment to the People - Inauguration 2013

iTOMB on the Mall in Washington D.C. 01.21.13
My thanks to those who helped get me to D.C. this week. It was a bit of a crazy time with all the buses being booked, but me and iTOMB made it just fine and joined up with A Thousand Artists for the installation that brought art up through the people, as opposed to all the propaganda that was being trickled down from the top. It was a lovely day and we all loved it in our Tyvek 1000 Uniforms and orange hats. A thousand artists turned out to be more like twenty-something but it didn't matter. Thousands of attendees enjoyed our show and a great number painted their own dedication to the ceremonies. Art speaks louder than words.

Constituents painting the future.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Urgent: Help Us Exercise Our First Amenment Rights at The Inauguration

The People Listening...Oil on Canvas 2009 by Andrew Purchin
Breaking news: I just received a note from a friend in San Francisco regarding the project "A Thousand Artists: Inauguration 2013" and I apologize for the lateness, but this is just the sort of thing that I would like iThink Outside My Box to be involved in, in the future. The trouble is, the future is tomorrow. Literally tomorrow. 

The website for the event is here.

With no political agenda, not for nor against the President or any government, but much more in the spirit of allowing art to be a conduit through which people can express themselves publicly, the message of iTOMB fits perfectly with Mr. Purchin's event.

And so I would like to join in. Not unlike the crazy trip I made a few years ago to see Todd Rundgren in Amsterdam - leaving from Munich, this will be a rush - but I won't hitchhike this time:) Buses and trains will be available Saturday night and that will get me there for a full Sunday and beyond for the Inauguration on Monday.

The best way to help would be to send contributions via Western Union with David E. Carlson in New York City, marked as the recipient.The budget is $500 - there and back.

The second best way is to use the PayPal button in the sidebar - but that takes a few days and I wouldn't see the donation until after the event.

In either case, I would love your support to have iTOMB attend "A Thousand Artists: Inauguration 2013". Things have been a little trying in the Big Apple this winter, and I know the project would benefit from a little airing out and quite possibly national exposure in advancing the people's creative voice in our national dialogue. God bless America.

 BTW: I just heard from Andrew, the organizer, and he's keen to have iTOMB at the event:-)

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

OWS: Where iTOMB Began

Outside Trinity Church on Occupy's first anniversary 09.17.12
Nearly every day, people ask me where the idea for iTOMB came from and I tell them it began as an activist platform for me at Occupy Wall Street (OWS) in New York in 2011. Above I appear at Occupy's first anniversary, in front of Trinity Church last year with the anniversary poster to my left.

Click here for an interview I did on that day with New Tang Dynasty TV in Taiwan. Pay special attention to the clips before my cameo as the police arrest and harass regular citizens for exercising their right to free speech. God bless America.

And God bless news outlets like this who show the world that our free country is not all it advertises itself to be. But we're working on that:)


D a v i d E v e r i t t - C a r l s o n
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