Thursday, March 31, 2011

The First Grader: A Compelling New Film Set in Kenya

by Gregg Chadwick

The First Grader, a new film directed by Justin Chadwick and produced by Richard Harding and Sam Feuer, has been gathering cinema festival awards as it moves towards a May 2011 release. This week The First Grader won the award for best feature film at the Palm Beach Film Festival.

I recently attended a pre-release screening of this poignant and numinous movie set in the Rift Valley in the mountains of Kenya. The First Grader, like Wim Wenders' Wings of Desire, seamlessly combines story and place to create an illuminating beacon for our time.

The First Grader portrays the story of Kimani Maruge, an 84 year old Mau Mau veteran who helped liberate Kenya from the British. After the Kenyan government announced in 2003 that free schooling would be offered for all, Maruge, played marvelously by Kenyan actor Oliver Litondo, arrives at a primary school to finally get his chance at an education - long denied under oppressive colonial rule and unavailable to him since independence.

As the story unfolds, the realities of rural Kenyan life intermix with Maruge's traumatic memories of torture, incarceration, and the murder of his loved ones, which he endured steadfastly for the sake of freedom. These very real scenes make a powerful emotional impact but with a remarkable reverence, a profound sense of calling and self respect despite injustice. There is an artistic elegance to this film that combines truth telling with transcendence.

The First Grader, based on a true story, uses a school full of actual Kenyan pupils playing themselves. Oliver Litondo (Maruge) explains that high up in the Rift Valley "education is coming in as a new thing." The youngsters were not surprised to see an older student, there was already a fifteen year old in a class of six year olds, so the students accepted Maruge as one of them - just another student seeking an education like they were. Shared goals and shared experiences create a bond between the young students and Maruge.

There are also important shadow elements in the story written by screenwriter Ann Peacock. The First Grader deftly covers the post World War II history of Kenya: moving back and forth from Maruge's struggle against British rule to his struggle against tribal prejudice and mistrust of his motives in 21st century Kenya. By combining traditional Kenyan music with his own compositions, composer Alex Heffes creates a rich sonic landscape.

The film, compellingly crafted by cinematographer Rob Hardy, opens with a gaggle of school children running through mist shrouded trees to their isolated but beckoning new school. On this first day of the new term hundreds of children and their parents jostle to find a place. The exuberance of youth contrasts with the dogged strength of Kimani Maruge and the desperate drive of parents struggling to gain a coveted spot at school for their child.

Naomie Harris plays teacher Jane Obinchu who grows to support Maruge's fierce drive to learn. The joy of learning and the bond between teacher and students is so evident in The First Grader that while watching the film, I felt as if the audience was compelled to grab a sharpened pencil and join the class.

The First Grader is a transcendent human story about confronting injustice and achieving redemption. The film spreads balm for old wounds and lifts the spirit with hope for the future. The First Grader is highly recommended.

More at:
The First Grader Website

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Art for Japan at the Torrance Museum of Art

On Saturday, March 26, 2011 the Torrance Art Museum held a fundraiser for the Japanese Red Cross to help with the humanitarian needs of post-tsunami Japan. I donated my painting Illume for the cause. This oil painting of a young Buddhist monk, seemingly caught in the glow of prayer candles, resonates hope in mourning, acceptance and rebirth.

Illume 16"x20" oil on linen 2010
Gregg Chadwick
16"x20" oil on linen 2011

Ongoing until April 30, 2011 at the Torrance Museum of Art is the exhibition Gateway Japan curated by Yuko Wakaume, Ei Kibukawa, and Max Presneill.

More at:
Torrance Art Museum

Saturday, March 19, 2011

The Libyan Sky

The Sheltering Sky
Gregg Chadwick
The Sheltering Sky
218cm x 163cm
oil on linen 2010

In honor of the brave people of Libya and in memory of the brave Libyan journalist Mohammed Nabbous.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

George Takei on The Quake and Tsunami in Japan: Gaman

"At times like this, we are all Japanese"
-George Takei

Beauty and Sadness ( 美しさと哀しみと)
Gregg Chadwick
Beauty and Sadness ( 美しさと哀しみと)
Utsukushisa to Kanashimi to
57"x103" oil and collage on Japanese screen

Live video chat by Ustream
NHK Live Stream from Japan with Updates on the Earthquake, Tsunami, and Nuclear Crisis

Friday, March 11, 2011

Thoughts and Prayers With Japan

Buddha, Tokyo National Museum
Buddha, Japanese National Museum, Tokyo

A Balance of Shadows
Gregg Chadwick
"A Balance of Shadows"

My thoughts and prayers are with the people of Japan.

Video from Shinjuku,Tokyo showing skyscrapers swaying with the force of the March 11, 2011 earthquake centered off of northeastern Japan. Buildings in Japan are engineered to meet extraordinarily high governmental standards to help prevent earthquake damage.
(Video by escot2008)

" Friday’s quake was centered off the coast of Honshu, the most populous of the Japanese islands, at a point about 230 miles northeast of Tokyo and a depth of about 17 miles below the earth’s surface.The quake occurred at 2:46 p.m. Tokyo time, and was so powerful that buildings in central Tokyo, designed to withstand major earthquakes, swayed."
-United States Geological Survey

globalgiving has set up a well organized webpage for donations at Japan Earthquake And Tsunami Relief Fund

More at:
Earthquake in Japan

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

"Ash Wednesday Ambush" Protest Feed From Wisconsin Capitol

Watch live streaming video from theuptake at

Engine Company
Gregg Chadwick
Engine Company
48"x36" oil on canvas 2011

Dedicated to the brave Union workers across the globe: firefighters, nurses, teachers, steelworkers, bricklayers, SAG members, screenwriters, police officers, custodians, musicians, and company. Especially those fighting for their futures in Madison, Wisconsin.

Madison, Wisconsin Protests set to the Dropkick Murphys' pro-union song "Take 'em Down"

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Live Video Stream From Inside Madison, Wisconsin's Capitol Building: Watch Democracy in Action

Watch live streaming video from theuptake at

Solidarity with the Workers! On Wisconsin!

Archive Below:
Ustream is now down. But brandzel currently has live mobile video from inside the rotunda at :
brandzel at in the Capitol building

Saturday, February 26, 2011

UCLA Basketball Coach Ben Howland and John Wooden's Great-Grandson Talk About Making the Final Bruin Points at Pauley Pavilion

John Wooden (1910 - 2010)
Photo by Gregg Chadwick at Pauley Pavilion, November 2006

John Wooden's Great-Grandson Tyler Trapani Makes Last Bruin Points at Pauley Pavilion

Bruins - Great Final Game at Wooden's Pauley Pavilion!
UCLA 71 - Arizona 49
#ucla #ncaa #reevesnelson #bball #tylertrapani #jrw #wooden

Friday, February 25, 2011

Polish Trade Union Solidarnosc (Solidarity) Releases Letter in Support of Wisconsin Union Workers

To Public Service Workers in the State of Wisconsin

Dear Sisters and Brothers,

On behalf of the 700,000 members of the Polish Trade Union NSZZ “Solidarnosc” (Solidarity) I wish to express our solidarity and support for your struggle against the recent assault on trade unions and trade union rights unleashed by Governor Scott Walker.
We are witnessing yet another attempt of transferring the costs of the economic crisis and of the failed financial policies to working people and their families. As much as some adjustments are necessary, we can not and must not agree that the austerity measures are synonymous with union-busting practices, the elimination of bargaining rights and the reduction of social benefits and wages.

Dear friends, please rest assured that our thoughts are with you during your protest, as we truly do hope that your just fight for decent working and living conditions, for the workers’ rights will be successful.
Your victory is our victory as well.

In Solidarity,
Piotr Duda President

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Engine Company

Engine Company
Gregg Chadwick
Engine Company
48"x36" oil on canvas 2011

Dedicated to the brave Union workers across the globe: firefighters, nurses, teachers, steelworkers, bricklayers, SAG members, screenwriters, police officers, custodians, musicians, and company. Especially those fighting for their futures in Madison, Wisconsin.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Green Bay Packer Great Charles Woodson Releases a Statement in Firm Support of Wisconsin Union Workers


Last week I was proud when many of my current and former teammates announced their support for the working families fighting for their rights in Wisconsin. Today I am honored to join with them.

Thousands of dedicated Wisconsin public workers provide vital services for Wisconsin citizens. They are the teachers, nurses and child care workers who take care of us and our families. These hard working people are under an unprecedented attack to take away their basic rights to have a voice and collectively bargain at work.

It is an honor for me to play for the Super Bowl Champion Green Bay Packers and be a part of the Green Bay and Wisconsin communities. I am also honored as a member of the NFL Players Association to stand together with working families of Wisconsin and organized labor in their fight against this attempt to hurt them by targeting unions. I hope those leading the attack will sit down with Wisconsin's public workers and discuss the problems Wisconsin faces, so that together they can truly move Wisconsin forward.

--Charles Woodson, Green Bay Packers cornerback and one of the team’s elected representatives to the players union

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Wisconsin Protests Set to Arcade Fire's Song "Rebellion"

Wisconsin Budget Repair Bill Protest from Matt Wisniewski on Vimeo.

Wisconsin Protests Set to Arcade Fire's Song "Rebellion"

This one is for my cousin Anne Johnson who has been at the Capitol building in Madison each day this week.
Keep the faith. As Wisconsin goes, so goes the country.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Today we are all Wisconsinites!

To the demonstrators in Madison, WI - Keep the Faith. Today we are all Wisconsinites! #wisconsin #egypt #tcot #P2 #wiunion

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

This Digital Life: A Chat With Adam Gopnik

I enjoy the writing of Adam Gopnik. His current piece in the New Yorker, How the Internet Gets Inside Us, delves into the spaces between man and machines: between the internet and inner self.

Today the New Yorker hosted a chat with Adam Gopnik. I found the conversation to be fascinating and have archived it below.

The New Yorker: Adam Gopnik will be joining us shortly to discuss the Internet. For now, please submit your questions.

2:00 Adam Gopnik: Hey everyone. Glad to be here for the slightly ironic-meta purpose of carrying on a conversation on the internet about the uses of conversations on the internet. Let me start taking questions. A.G.

2:00 [Comment From Doug]
When did you first start using the Web? Were you a late or early adopter?

2:01 Adam Gopnik:: Early or late? Somewhere in between I suppose. I went on e-mail in the mid nineties while living in Paris-- my life is now composed of nothing but e-mail and caffiene-- but only really started being addicted as the world did, in the early noughts.

2:01 [Comment From KyleS]
Are you in the prognostication business? What’s the future for the printed book?

Die Kathedrale Der Bucher (The Cathedral of Books)
Gregg Chadwick
Die Kathedrale Der Bucher (The Cathedral of Books)
20"x16" oil on linen 2010

2:02 Adam Gopnik: Wish I knew. I live for books, love books, and cannot imagine a world without them. The book to my mind is the ideal technology -- you take it with you from window to table to bed -- and I love everything else about them: spines and turned pages and smells.

2:02 [Comment From JF]
I love how you describe Internet commenters. Have these kind of forums made us less polite in real life face-to-face interactions as well?

2:03 Adam Gopnik: I doubt it somehow. I think that there's a kind of abashed moment when virtual friends meet, and no doubt an equally abashed moment when internet opponents meet.

2:03 [Comment From Elizabeth Bee]
Do you consider yourself to be a Never-Better, Better-Never, or Ever-Waser?

2:05 Adam Gopnik: This I see has come up in several questions. I don't be brutally honest I am something more of a skeptic than the form of the essay quite encourages, but also , as I say, something of an addict, and altogether a fatalist in any case. Like every parent, I worry myself sick about the dissapearance of books from our kids lives, and , like every parent, I wonder what a world made up of pixels will produce. But, like every amateur historian, I know that these changes are the stuff of life, as I tried to document in the essay, and that wishing them away is like wishing away the tides. So....still in the middle , I suppose.

2:05 [Comment From Fred]
How has the web changed your processes for writing a piece?

2:06 Adam Gopnik:There is, as I suggested, something semi-miraculous about Google. I find myself wondering what Hemingway wrote about winter sports for a project I've embarked on, and two seconds later, boom, there it all is. That's wonderful-- magical! But the slogging hours of the writing day never alter or lessen or, really, change much.

2:07 [Comment From Gregory]
The never-betters would say that Egypt's revolution wouldn't have happened without social networking technology...

2:09 Adam Gopnik: This I think is an important point, which my friend and colleague Malcolm Gladwell has been arguing through recently , so let me take a moment here to say as precisely I can, if at length, what I think is up with that. Malcolm can speak for himself better than I can speak for him..but the issue isn’t whether people in Egypt or wherever used Twitter or whatever to communicate. Of course they did. But they used cassettes or faxes or pamphlets or whispers in years past and would have used them now if that was the easiest tech available.

Jacques-Louis David
The Oath of the Tennis Court.
66 x 101 cm. Pen and brown ink, brown wash with white highlights 1791
Musée National du Chateau de Versailles, Versailles, France.

The issue – the only issue -- is whether the availability of those new media actually changed the likelihood of their formenting social revolutions, or altered the outcomes of the ones they did. And there is no evidence of any kind , that I've seen at least, to suggest they have. In truth, every popular social revolution/movement/regime change due to since at least the French Revolution has followed the same pattern: a government weakened by war or financial crisis or both meets popular resistance which for the first time takes in members of the elite and the masses; they find a meeting space and occupy it – could be the Square or the Tennis Court – then, in the crucial moment, the army ,called on to disperse the “mob”, identifies with the cause and refuses; the government is forced to surrender. Sometimes the army – Peking 1989 does—sometimes – Moscow, 1991 – it doesn’t. On that decision – complicated in motive – turns the outcome of the revolution. (Then, most often, in depressing truth the best organized and most motivated of the parties on the opposition side – Jacobins or Bolsheviks or Mullahs – no matter how unrepresentative takes over in the period of chaos that follows the revolution.) This is the pattern that was in place in Tunisia and Cairo, as it was in St. Petersburg in 1917 or Paris in 1830 and 1848 and 1871. Why the army , who the regime had trained and fed and paid to do just that ,didn’t disperse , i.e. massacre the “mob”is always the fascinating question. In Egypt , it seems to have been prudence; in France, widespread dissastisfaction with the economic conditions.

Historians and sociologists in fifty years time may see that more social movements were begun , or fewer – or that more that did begin succeeded. If that’s the case then for good or ill (because after all, most popular movement do not have benificient outcomes for the people who started them) social media will have had an outcome. If the number is about the same, and the outcomes about the same, then the truth that revolutionaries used Twitter or Facebook will be of the same consequence as that they once wore Phrygian caps and now wear tee-shirts – an interesting detail about the décor of the time, but not a crucial determinanat of anything. The notion that because people used Twitter therefore twitter made the revolution is so nakedly ridiculous that it is hard to believe that grown-up people are seriously proposing it.


2:09 [Comment From Mary Claire]
What did you mean by your closing comment...that's it's not about the toast, it's about the butter?

2:10 Adam Gopnik: I meant merely that , as it says a sentence or two before, that the content of our ideas -- the butter -- is more important than the containers, or vehicles --the toast-- that carries them. For a while I thought of writing " butter and jam" but thought that went a food image too far.

2:10 [Comment From Nimer Rashed]
Hi Adam, loved the piece, which I thought was fabulously well-written and researched and made my brand-new UK subscription of the magazine worthwhile! I think the article really took on a life of its own once you chipped in with your own point of view after rehearsing the various opinions of the different camps, and the toast/butter ending was a poignant flourish with which to end. I'm curious how much your opinions changed the more you delved into theNever-Better/ Better-Nevers Ever-Waser camps - how much were you pushed/pulled by what you read? And finally, what are your opinions about reading magazines such as the New Yorker in digital format?

2:13 Adam Gopnik:: Thanks. As I struggled to say a moment ago -- and the difficult thing about these chats is that you find yourself re-writing badly sentences that you struggled for months to write well!-- there is a kind of built in space between my actual emotions -- which include a lot of parental fear about the loss of books, silence, space -- and my evolving ideas, which recognize the "ever wasness" of it all. So I live now as a kind of Better-Never Ever Waser, with forlorn hopes of seeing Never-Betterism proven true. I would love to believe that the substance is all that matters -- and I do think the butter matters most -- and that the transition of The New Yorker or any other good magazine or newspaper to the new digital format will leave the content untouched. But I shudder as I see the future, and am skeptical that we can make the change without losing something on the way. But I am game to go, as we all must be.

2:14 [Comment From Bill]
I have found that what you call information is,from a technical pov, sometimes completely erroneous(as in energy cycles on Wikkipedia). Books are much harder to overwrite with a different message. Isn't this a big advantage of books?

2:14 Adam Gopnik: An interesting thought. Yes, I suppose so-- though of course books have been mines of misinformation , creating mountains of misery, for millenia.

2:14 Adam Gopnik:: Or less.

2:15 [Comment From Mary Claire]
Getting back to the 'butter' or the content of our ideas. Isn't it possible that the butter we can create now, in the age of the internet, is just not as good? I mean, I'm finding my ability to concentrate on books or to think deeply, has been diminished. Your thoughts?

2:17 Adam Gopnik:: There are scary days when I fear you're right , and I put down my own scattered mind and tattered nerves not to the press of life and deadlines but to the machines we're attached to. I was serious about the Unplugged Sunday business -- think it's as good an idea as Meatless Monday, and we try ( and often fail) to put it in operation at our house. But concentration is mutable and maybe has more to do with insomnia than new information, at least with me.

2:18 [Comment From]
Do you think that the internet is the most important technological advancement after the discovery of fire?

2:18 Adam Gopnik: No. I think that instant replay was the most important tech advance since fire. More important , maybe. You can't go back to the fire once it's out, and you always have the replay.

2:18 [Comment From Ned]
Can book publishing survive ebook piracy? Will the internet's effect on the book publishing industry be even worse than the effect on the music industry since publishers cannot make up lost sales revenue with 360 deals that cover touring?

2:19 Adam Gopnik:: Oy! A worrying thought. My hope is that it was really "disaggreation" , which I'm sure I just mis-spelled , which killed the record business: suddenly, we all found ourselves in effect playing old 45s , singles. A book still comes at us a whole -- nobody wants to download a chapter of a Franzen or a Roth -- and I hope that will save our bacon.

2:20 Adam Gopnik: If not our butter.

2:20 [Comment From Susi]
What happened to my question that I sent at 2:15? Could you comment on the effect of our highly visual media's effect on gender roles?

2:21 Adam Gopnik:: Sorry, Susi; so many questions coming in here that I have to blip by some on the way to urgent others. Of course, as the father of a daughter (and son) I share your worry. We do seem to be offering kids sexual role-playing, and info, way too soon. That said, I notice that my daughter , in love with Justin Beiber, is more like her mother, in love with Mark Lester forty years ago, than one would have thought possible. Perhaps language and adolescent crushes are the two universal human traits.

2:22 [Comment From Nimer Rashed]
I think what's particularly poignant about the article is the fact that for just one second you hold up your hand, ask for a time out, and assess the state we're in, whilst simultaneously acknowledging the inevitability with which we as a species enthusiastically - and perhaps that inevitability feels more troubling the older you get.

2:23 Adam Gopnik:: Inevitablities crowd in on us the older we get, until that last great inevitability of all claws us down. Meanwhile, there's just the comedy of living,including the comedy of information.

2:23 [Comment From Gregg Chadwick]
Adam, My teenage son and I loved the part in "Through the Children's Gate" where you misused the internet initialism LOL.

2:23 Adam Gopnik:: That was probably more precise, and on point, than the long essay. It exists, he advertised shamelessly, as a MOTH podcast as well. Thanks.

2:23 [Comment From Susi]
Oh, yay. Computer glitch, no doubt. It seems to me that insults are more easily hurled at women, and with the increase in insults comes an increase in misogyny. I don't know how girls navigate it.

2:25 Adam Gopnik: I don't know how anyone navigates it. But when I look at Kids Today, I see more resourcefulness , and a greater reservoir of irony, in the face of things that trouble me than I would have feared. They are native speakers of the new technology, where we are second-language users, and , like all native speakers, they know the secret corners and double-takes and deadpans of their tongue.

2:25 [Comment From Tabitha]
Back on the recording industry - obviously the demise of the traditional recording company is inevitable and the rise of the independents is here and now. Have you any thoughts on where that is going?

The Strokes

2:26 Adam Gopnik:: One of the joys of my life is sharing -- that is , learning about -- new music with my son. It's stunning to me, and weirdly heart-lifting, that with all the difficulties of the "business", the connection between musician and listener -- between my son and his beloved Strokes -- is not just intact but more constant than ever. An encouraging thought for writers though,as you say, we don't have the option of touring -- or rather we do, but only to empty chairs in poignant indy bookstores.

2:26 [Comment From Nimer Rashed]
Oops - last question was sent unfinished! I think the poignancy of the article comes from the sense of the crushing inevitability of technology and the latent observation that we as a species hurtle forward, enthusastically accepting all new forms of technology and in the process giving up/losing something of the past - something elegiac about this. With this in mind, which of yesteryear's technologies would you suggest we resurrect on our Amish, internet-free Sundays?

2:27 Adam Gopnik:: Uh--reading unfamiliar books about familiar subjects. Japanese novels on the family; Russian memoirs of childhood; Slovenian research into adultery.

2:28 [Comment From Marcy Murninghan]
Loved your article, it's so timely with all that's happening around us, in politics, economics, and culture. Your "butter" statement reminds me of Annie Hall, and that wonderful line at the end where Woody reflects on love, and that joke about a fella with a crazy brother who thinks he's a chicken. Guy's doctor asks, "why don't you turn him in" and guy says, "I need the eggs." We all need the eggs--with something as wild, irrational, crazy and absurd as love--and the Internet.

2:29 Adam Gopnik: Hadn't thought of that. But in my book you can't quote, or borrow, or refer, too often to "Annie Hall". That was the "Battleship Potemkin" of my teenage years.

2:29 [Comment From Kevin J]
Back to the topic of over-writing "fact" with different messages e.g; on Wikipedia: does that mean there are no more truths, or are we entering an era of increased acceptance of diverging viewpoints?

2:30 Adam Gopnik: Diverging viewpoints are fine, and we've always had them. What worries me is the spread of information (i cited Shakespeare authorship and the Shroud of Turin in the piece) where the truth is known but the lies keep coming. Evolution and creationism. A kid going on line to do research on the Second World War is one fatal click away from negationism. That's worrying.

2:30 [Comment From Elizabeth Bee]
Have you read the YA fiction book Feed by M.T. Anderson? If so, what were your thoughts? If not, I found it to be a startling glimpse of what happens when social apps and advertisers find a way to finally reside in our brain. Do you think the average American is aware of the corporate interests that are investing in their social profiles (ie - Facebook's Social Graph, cookies used for advertising purposes, data mining and scrubbing, etc.)

2:30 Adam Gopnik: Haven't read it. Will do so.

2:31 [Comment From Susi]
My M.I.L. from behind the Iron Curtain wisely said about us newlyweds: "The problems we think they have aren't problems at all; and their real problems are things we can't imagine." Still, it's fascinating to watch and imagine. What else is life for?

Adam Gopnik:: Too true.

2:32 [Comment From Sanjiv]
I've been reading of late about the effects of technology on childrens minds and its impact on concentration and other key factors regarding education, literacy, and so forth. Already, people predict that this new generation's life expectancy may be lower than the previous. Do you suspect that our education outcomes will similarly decrease (although this has been happening for certain ethnic groups, I mean broadly)

2:33 Adam Gopnik: What worries me -- my goodness, seem to be using the verb "worry" a lot in this chat -- but what worries me is the spread, the break, that's happening between elite education, which bounces along on its meritocratic basis, and all the rest of us. A country divided into A pluses and C's cannot long stand.

2:33 Adam Gopnik:: Or, rather, A pluses and F.s

2:33 [Comment From Manuel Espinoza]
I personally believe that the inevitable fall of "traditional" media -call it books, magazines, news papers, music- is something as unavoidable as any other generational and technological change that has come along. But here in the developing countries we see it as an equalitarian change, as it will, if no already, provide us with access to information we never thought possible. So my question is, in essence: How do you feel about creative commons, freedom of information, abolition of copyrights and even piracy, as a medium of redemption for us who cannot have access to information with the traditional media?

2:34 Adam Gopnik: Well, obviously, the more news-novels-stories -opinion are more often in more hands , the better the world is. The trick is that all those "content providers" , to use that hideous jargon, must live ,too. At some point, the naches, to use a favorite Yiddish word, provided by the Huffington Post to its bloggers will not be enough, and then we will be dependent not on those who think and write , but on those who don't think and write anyway.

2:35 [Comment From Brian Kimberling]
If butter is important, and toast less so, have you thought much about the interaction between the particular brands of toast and butter used? Apologies for spreading your metaphor too thin. Does the internet foster shallower content? (It sure churns out and popularizes endless news content, much of it soon forgettable).

2:37 Adam Gopnik:: Metaphors are like jokes; once they make their little effect, they won't stand too much close analysis. But , yes, the thinner the toast, the less butter it holds. But then we could put jam on it so....escaping the traps of imagery, I don't think that the internet demands shallow content. It's just that the impatience it enforces is best suited to it...but , look, we publish long stuff on the New Yorker website all the time, and people cotton to that. Of course, I worry -- that word again! -- about the three hundred word bit moving out the three thousand word musing. But I think that a minority, anyway, will always want the real thing -- and minorities, in a world as vast as ours, can often be counted in millions.

2:37 [Comment From Tabitha]
I read the term 'Lifecasting' today. Interesting concept. Is this the new buzz word and really - is it just what Josh Harris did years ago?

2:38 Adam Gopnik: I have a dormant twitter account -- dormant because I am never sure what to tweet. We went out to dinner not long ago with a well known television personality -- and she had a sub-tweeter, a designated tweeter, of her own! Not merely lifecasting, but subsidary-rights lifecasting.

2:38 [Comment From Michael]
What did we do before we read about sports online?

Adam Gopnik:: We argued about them with our friends . Our face-friends, I mean -- is that a term, by the way? Should be.

2:40 [Comment From Kevin J]
Does the sub-tweeter make it up as s/he goes along or is there a style sheet to follow?

Edgar Bergen & Mortimer Snerd in Stage Door Canteen

2:41 Adam Gopnik: More like an impersonation -- your job in life, in that role, is to be a kind of benign Mortimer Snerd, sitting on your chief-tweeters lap.

2:41 [Comment From Elizabeth Bee]
I think I'm nervous about living in a world where we have "face friends"...

2:41 Adam Gopnik:: Well. I meant "face friends" meaning those whose faces we know.

2:41 [Comment From Mabel]
Are there novels being written now that capture what this digital life feels like?

Adam Gopnik: Good question. Are there? In movies particularly, people , movie-makers, are always trying to insert the Internet into their work, but it always ends up being painfully anti-dramatic, since it's just....somebody typing! The ultimate revenge of the secretary -- in a Julia Roberts rom-com, the heroine now has to type like a fiend just to be in time.

2:43 [Comment From Brian Kimberling]
And should there be novels written now that capture what this digital life feels like?

Adam Gopnik:: It is, or was, the novelist to whom we turned for news on the texture of life -- not news that stayed news, as I think Bellow said, but news that stayed alive. Who in recent fiction has tackled this particular stretch of texture?

2:44 [Comment From Dex]
Does the internet promote uniformity? I am thinking of the kid isolated in a small town who may not have any connection with art or music scenes who can instantly connect with established artists and directly interact instead of spending years isolated.

2:45 Adam Gopnik:: Well, yes -- but surely there's something to be said ,too , for that kid (the young SInclair Lewis, V.S. Naipaul, Scott Fitzgerald, Harper Lee, whomever) having the boredom to explore his own world without the instant gratification of the "top:. If you don't enjoy bad Beethoven concerts played by the local quartet, you won't enjoy the great ones eithe r- -won't know what makes them great. Boredom and amateurism are great incubators of art.

2:45 [Comment From Marcus]
It seems as though the rise of digital culture, this revolution, is much more tied to a consumer mindset than other, maybe more real revolutions.

2:46 Adam Gopnik: Interesting point. Yes, the technological revolution is also a consumer revolution. Our neurons may be altering, but Steve Jobs is profiting.

2:46 Adam Gopnik:: Not that I begrudge Steve Jobs, whose goods fill my desk and life and who should get well soon.

Portrait of Mark Twain
Chromolithograph from the 1898 oil portrait by Ignace Spiridon.
Courtesy UC Berkeley Library

2:46 [Comment From Gig]
I wonder what role the Web has played in this new Twain mini-fad, which you so adroitly harpooned.

2:47 Adam Gopnik: Well, I was sure that someone would say that the great Twain's very-much-lesser autobiography was a prescient form of blogging, silly though that would be to say, and sure enough, they said it. Slack sentences attract slack sentences as lint attracts lint, I suppose.

2:47 [Comment From Elizabeth Bee]
Any thoughts on "mommy bloggers" and others who obsessively document the lives of their families for the entire world to see? I viewed one today and thought, is it ethical that this mom is taking photos of her child's broken arm to post online? Will this child be totally cool with this in 5,10,20 years?

2:49 Adam Gopnik:: Well... as one who has written on auspicious occasion -- some would say on too damn many auspicious occasions -- about his children, I would say that being obsessed to the point of crazy with your kids is just normal parenthood. With children as with all others we write about: we owe them our best and fairest and most compassionate account,and if we give them that, how much pain can be caused. But there comes an age and time (of theirs, I mean) to stop.

2:49 [Comment From Bill]
As a classical Greek scholar (ex), I immediately recognized the prole bias of the Christian New Testament when I read it - a popular "book". This analytic comparison of comparing translations tells alot about translators What do you think of the translators and filterers on the net?

2:50 Adam Gopnik:: Sorry -- do you mean the literal translators -- the ones that go from French to English or whatever? THey're better than they used to be, but still so far from good that they present a daunting case for the difficulty of language.

2:50 [Comment From Frank]
Speaking of Twain, what explains the popularity and positive reviews of that book?

2:51 Adam Gopnik:: People love Mark, and with good reason -- no one more than I -- and they also love our "Founding Fathers", as every cynic with another book about 1776 knows. Twain is the closest thing we have to a literary founding father. Our writin' John Addams. Apart from that , I suppose people bought the book and didn't read it.

2:52 [Comment From doris]
As we discuss "the abolition of copyrights", the free flow of information, music, film etc… we obviously need to worry about the average musician. Can we, or should we, be - instead of fighting it and blaming record labels and/or the "perpetrators" - asking our government to approve of what is happening, agree with this flow of information, praise it; Obama talks about nationwide wireless, that is one step to our government's and generation’s willingness to embrace “this”, but it needs to go deeper. What if we created some kind of subsidization for the artists, similar as in Europe, but a 2.0 version of it where the average musician talked about earlier can have his music flowing online while still paying his rent. What do you think about the government’s approach to “how the internet gets inside of us?

2:53 Adam Gopnik: You know, I 'm mostly ignorant of the fine points. But i have been told just recently that , for instance, PANDORA, the wonderful internet , self-generation"genome" music service, is making money at last -- and I assume that some of that at least is going to the artists who make the music. The more we "monetize" , the more the muse is served.

2:54 [Comment From Brent]
How much longer will this interweb fad last?

2:54 Adam Gopnik: Wouldn't it be wonderful -- i.e. startling and appropriately comic-cosmic -- if the Internet turned out to be the CB radio of the oughts?
But it won't...

2:54 [Comment From monica]
do you think the internet and web 2.0. are blurring the lines between high and low art? are they giving more eclectism to people's way of entertainment, meaning that now people can pass easily from Shakespeare to Avatar for instance? What is the role of internet in the democratization of art?

2:56 Adam Gopnik: Hmmmn, big question. Years ago -- years and years and years ago -- I wrote, with the late Kirk Varnedoe, a big book about "High and Low" to go with an exposition at MOMA, and the theme of that book, produced by years of research, was that the dialogue between pop culture and difficult art was permanent, cyclical, and surprising. So it's less likely to produce easy passage than surprising collision. As with the amazing-looking Dante's Inferno video game, from EA.

Dore's Vision of Dante's Inferno

Electronic Arts Digital Vision of Dante's Inferno

2:56 [Comment From Nimer Rashed]
A common accusation levelled against Twitter, Facebook, et al is that whilst the technology does connect people, the connections are superficial, transient - it's esp. interesting how quickly people get riled by discussions of how social mores are evolving (frequently, but not always, with divisions across youth lines). Taking a straw poll of NYC intelligentsia/literati - the New Yorker staff! - what would you say is the general consensus (if there is one) about Facebook and/or Twitter? Do people tend towards scepticism, generally speaking? And more importantly, are deadlines being missed as a result of the echo-chamber of digital distractions?

2:57 Adam Gopnik: To take a poll of New Yorker staff would involve interfering with the writing days of a lot of scowling and exhausted-looking writers, so I won't attempt it. But on the whole I think that ours is a community of enthusiastic adopters, with uneasy consciences that what they are adopting might prove to be arsenic to what they make.

2:57 [Comment From maria]
Think more in google that in god?? hehe, I do, in fact I do not believe in God after ICT

Adam Gopnik In Google We Trust. A decent motto. Certainly Out Of Many, One, is the Internet theme as well.

2:58 [Comment From Brian Kimberling]
You can get superb bird-identification apps for your iPhone now. Which you then take deep in the forest, leagues from human contact, man alone in the wilderness, and....check your signal. Is this different to carrying a bird book in the same circumstances?

2:59 Adam Gopnik: I think you know of the OCarina App, which you make music on , and can then hear other ocarina music being played simultaneously all over the world. The whole world humming in your hand! IF that isn't sublime, nothing is.

2:59 [Comment From elfe]
I'm a late comer, maybe you discussed this altready: despite all the shallowness and the lack of focus it creates, the internet is just a wonderful tool for people living in countries that does not invest much in libraries. Especially with the big tomes the ownership rights of the owners expired from the previous century that one needed to travel to lay eyes on are just a click away, same with old and new journals. Especially if you have an institution that pays for your subscriptions (I'm aware of the 'jeremiads')...

3:00 Adam Gopnik Yes, indeed. For those seeking specifics -- as opposed to those engaging in emnities - the internet is a truly Rowlingesquely magic thing. Bless it and its users, and all of you from jumping in here. Speak again soon.

3:00 [Comment From Bill]
Yes. And art is bursting out both to the people and to the others. Thank you.

3:00 Adam GopnikThanks to all you

More at:
High & Low at MOMA

Ocarina App

Monday, February 14, 2011

Esperanza Spalding Live at the White House

After winning Best New Artist at last night's Grammy Awards, jazz artist Esperanza Spalding's career is set to explode.
Below is a beautiful clip of Esperanza performing at the White House Evening of Poetry, Music, and the Spoken Word on May 12, 2009.

Esperanza Spalding performs “Tell Him” on the double bass at the White House Evening of Poetry, Music, and the Spoken Word on May 12, 2009.

"Mubarak, Ben Ali, now it's time for ..."

"For all of its empty talk about Egypt, the government of Iran should allow the Iranian people the same universal right to peacefully assemble and demonstrate in Tehran that the people are exercising in Cairo."
- White House national security spokesman Tommy Vietor

”We wish the opposition and the brave people in the streets across cities in Iran the same opportunity that they saw their Egyptian counterparts seize in the last week.” She added, ”We are against violence and we would call to account the Iranian government that is once again using its security forces and resorting to violence to prevent the free expression of ideas from their own people.”
- Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton

Video from Feb 14, 2011 protests against Ahmadinejad in Tehran

An eyewitness in Tehran today reports for the BBC:

Mohsen Asgari
BBC News, Tehran

"Riding on the back of a motorbike, holding my mobile to take video footage, I went to central Tehran on Monday afternoon. My driver skilfully found back alleys to reach Azadi (Freedom) Square, the Iranian counterpart of Egypt's Tahrir Square.

Thousands of people made their way amicably and silently towards the square, most of them young. Many wore trainers, suggesting they were anticipating having to run away from the security forces to escape arrest.

Riot police began to disperse the crowd before they even started the rally. Men on motorbikes belonging to the police and Republican Guards charged the protesters and beat them severely with batons. However, this merely emboldened them.

When the troops fired tear gas at the crowd, it became very difficult to breathe. Some girls and women fainted. Many of the protesters were also detained. Others set rubbish bins on fire to combat the effects of the gas.

My driver was hit by a paintball fired by a policeman and lightly injured, but he was still able to drive me back to the office. Once there, I was shocked to see that official and semi-official news agencies were saying everything was normal when for a couple of hours there had been total chaos."

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Faces of Egypt

by Gregg Chadwick

Faces of Egypt photo by Gregg Chadwick
Egyptian Portraits at the Neues Museum, Berlin
photo by Gregg Chadwick

Upper Left
Mask from Amarna: Portrait of a Man

Center : Queen Nefertiti

Bottom Right: Pharaoh Ay

New Kingdom, Dynasty 18, ca. 1340 BC
Height 18 cm

Neues Museum, Berlin

These life-sized masks are from a series found in the workshop of the sculptor Thutmoses in Achet-Aton (today called Amarna) in Middle Egypt. Amarna was the capital of Egypt during the reign of Pharaoh Akhenaton and Queen Nefertiti.

The portrait study of a man in the upper left of the photo provides an interesting view of Thutmoses' artistic process.
First a cast was taken directly from the sitter's face and then a gypsum copy was made from the mould. The gypsum sculpture was then brought to detailed completion.

In this installation of ancient sculptures, we are directly confronted with the real faces of Egypt. Even if the sitters' names and identities have been lost to history, their muted presence seems to express the events they have witnessed and the stories they could tell.

The faces being broadcast out of Egypt today seem to carry the same weight of history.

Queen Nefertiti
Queen Nefertiti at at the Neues Museum, Berlin
photo by Gregg Chadwick

Protester at Tahrir Square on January 31, 2011

More at:
Neues Museum
National Geographic - Pharaohs of the Sun
Kmt: A Modern Journal of Ancient Egypt
Wael Ghonim, Google executive and democracy activist held by Egyptian authorities for 12 days, is being credited with re-energizing the Egyptian protests

Sunday, February 06, 2011

Green Bay Wins Super Bowl - Detroit Wins Ad Bowl

The Super Bowl is an American spectator sport for the advertisements as much as the game itself. After a thrilling finish, the Green Bay Packers hold on to win 31 to 25 over the Pittsburgh Steelers. In the advertisement competition, Chrysler's ode to Detroit wins hands down!

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Obama to Young Egyptians: 'We Hear Your Voices'

Egyptians Love Their Country It's Mubarak They Fear

Today in Cairo hundreds of thousands of protesters peacefully gathered to urge Mubarak to step down from his 30 year reign in Egypt. Over the weekend, President Barack Obama sent Frank Wisner as his personal envoy to tell Mubarak that his time is over. This evening, Mubarak spoke via a televised address and declared that he will not seek another term. Elections are scheduled for the fall. In Tahrir Square, Mubarak's words were not enough. The massive crowd chanted "Erhal! (Leave!) Erhal! ( Leave!)"
A US official told BBC's Kim Ghattas that Mubarak's announcement was not enough for the Obama administration either.
From the White House, President Obama said that a transition in Egypt "must begin now".

January 31, 2011 Interview with anti-Mubarak protester in Tahrir Square, Cairo

Interview by Zero Silence from a forthcoming documentary.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Life Imitates Art In Cairo

In an earlier post, I referenced a photo taken by Lefteris Pitarakis of a female protester kissing an Egyptian police officer.

A Protester in Egypt Kisses a Police Officer
photo by: Lefteris Pitarakis / AP

A guide for protesters in Egypt has been circulating. Alexis Madrigal on the Atlantic site has published a translation. Reading the manual it is evident that the protests are intended to be peaceful. The manual was sent out in anticipation of today's events.
The illustration, below, taken from the manual echoes Pitarakis' photo.

More at:
Egyptian Activists' Action Plan: Translated

Words from President Obama on the Protests in Egypt

A Protester in Egypt Kisses a Police Officer
photo by: Lefteris Pitarakis / AP

This evening President Barack Obama spoke out after a phone call with current Egyptian leader Mubarak:


Good evening, everybody. My administration has been closely monitoring the situation in Egypt, and I know that we will be learning more tomorrow when day breaks. As the situation continues to unfold, our first concern is preventing injury or loss of life. So I want to be very clear in calling upon the Egyptian authorities to refrain from any violence against peaceful protesters.
The people of Egypt have rights that are universal. That includes the right to peaceful assembly and association, the right to free speech, and the ability to determine their own destiny. These are human rights. And the United States will stand up for them everywhere.

I also call upon the Egyptian government to reverse the actions that they’ve taken to interfere with access to the Internet, to cell phone service and to social networks that do so much to connect people in the 21st century.

At the same time, those protesting in the streets have a responsibility to express themselves peacefully. Violence and destruction will not lead to the reforms that they seek.

Now, going forward, this moment of volatility has to be turned into a moment of promise. The United States has a close partnership with Egypt and we've cooperated on many issues, including working together to advance a more peaceful region. But we've also been clear that there must be reform -- political, social, and economic reforms that meet the aspirations of the Egyptian people.

In the absence of these reforms, grievances have built up over time. When President Mubarak addressed the Egyptian people tonight, he pledged a better democracy and greater economic opportunity. I just spoke to him after his speech and I told him he has a responsibility to give meaning to those words, to take concrete steps and actions that deliver on that promise.

Violence will not address the grievances of the Egyptian people. And suppressing ideas never succeeds in making them go away. What’s needed right now are concrete steps that advance the rights of the Egyptian people: a meaningful dialogue between the government and its citizens, and a path of political change that leads to a future of greater freedom and greater opportunity and justice for the Egyptian people.

Now, ultimately the future of Egypt will be determined by the Egyptian people. And I believe that the Egyptian people want the same things that we all want -- a better life for ourselves and our children, and a government that is fair and just and responsive. Put simply, the Egyptian people want a future that befits the heirs to a great and ancient civilization.
The United States always will be a partner in pursuit of that future. And we are committed to working with the Egyptian government and the Egyptian people -- all quarters -- to achieve it.

Around the world governments have an obligation to respond to their citizens. That's true here in the United States; that's true in Asia; it is true in Europe; it is true in Africa; and it’s certainly true in the Arab world, where a new generation of citizens has the right to be heard.

When I was in Cairo, shortly after I was elected President, I said that all governments must maintain power through consent, not coercion. That is the single standard by which the people of Egypt will achieve the future they deserve.
Surely there will be difficult days to come. But the United States will continue to stand up for the rights of the Egyptian people and work with their government in pursuit of a future that is more just, more free, and more hopeful.

Thank you very much.

-President Barack Obama

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Art Los Angeles Contemporary Art Fair Opens at Barker Hangar on January 27, 2011

Henry Taylor
Chicago Cous
Acrylic on canvas
24" × 20"
Samsøn Projects, Boston
More info on Boston's Samsøn Projects

Tonight at Barker Hangar, the Art Los Angeles Contemporary art fair opens at 8pm. The fair runs from January 27, 2011 until January 30, 2011.

Gregg Chadwick
Ko-Omote (Winter Face)
oil on silk 2011

My studio at the Santa Monica Art Studios is located across the street from Barker Hangar and will be open tonight for the opening party and this weekend. Please stop by and say hello.

Santa Monica Art Studios
Studio #15
3026 Airport Avenue
Santa Monica, California 90405

Also of interest, on Sunday at 4pm at the Ruskin Theater across the street from Barker Hangar, the Honor Fraser Gallery presents Rancourt/Yatsuk's Omega Club: 2011 Annual Gathering, a fictitious multi-level marketing company’s annual event. Conceived as a rising star of the trillion-dollar health and wellness industry, Omega Club will host its first annual gathering of 2011.

Details on Art Los Angeles Contemporary:


The Barker Hangar
3021 Airport Avenue
Santa Monica, CA 90405


Friday, January 28, 11am–7pm
Saturday, January 29, 11am–7pm
Sunday, January 30, 11am–6pm

Opening Night

Thursday, January 27, 8–10pm


Tickets will be available online for pre-sale nearer the date of the event, as well as at the box office during the fair.

Public Admission 1-day Pass : $18
Public Admission 3-day Pass : $28


Parking is available on-site at the fair for $10.

More info at:
Art Los Angeles Contemporary

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

President Barack Obama's State of the Union Speech - January 25, 2011 - Full Text

Remarks of President Barack Obama - As Prepared for Delivery
Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Mr. Speaker, Mr. Vice President, Members of Congress, distinguished guests, and fellow Americans:

Tonight I want to begin by congratulating the men and women of the 112th Congress, as well as your new Speaker, John Boehner. And as we mark this occasion, we are also mindful of the empty chair in this Chamber, and pray for the health of our colleague -- and our friend -- Gabby Giffords.

It's no secret that those of us here tonight have had our differences over the last two years. The debates have been contentious; we have fought fiercely for our beliefs. And that's a good thing. That's what a robust democracy demands. That's what helps set us apart as a nation.

But there's a reason the tragedy in Tucson gave us pause. Amid all the noise and passions and rancor of our public debate, Tucson reminded us that no matter who we are or where we come from, each of us is a part of something greater -- something more consequential than party or political preference.

We are part of the American family. We believe that in a country where every race and faith and point of view can be found, we are still bound together as one people; that we share common hopes and a common creed; that the dreams of a little girl in Tucson are not so different than those of our own children, and that they all deserve the chance to be fulfilled.

That, too, is what sets us apart as a nation.

Now, by itself, this simple recognition won't usher in a new era of cooperation. What comes of this moment is up to us. What comes of this moment will be determined not by whether we can sit together tonight, but whether we can work together tomorrow.

I believe we can. I believe we must. That's what the people who sent us here expect of us. With their votes, they've determined that governing will now be a shared responsibility between parties. New laws will only pass with support from Democrats and Republicans. We will move forward together, or not at all -- for the challenges we face are bigger than party, and bigger than politics.

At stake right now is not who wins the next election -- after all, we just had an election. At stake is whether new jobs and industries take root in this country, or somewhere else. It's whether the hard work and industry of our people is rewarded. It's whether we sustain the leadership that has made America not just a place on a map, but a light to the world.

We are poised for progress. Two years after the worst recession most of us have ever known, the stock market has come roaring back. Corporate profits are up. The economy is growing again.

But we have never measured progress by these yardsticks alone. We measure progress by the success of our people. By the jobs they can find and the quality of life those jobs offer. By the prospects of a small business owner who dreams of turning a good idea into a thriving enterprise. By the opportunities for a better life that we pass on to our children.

That's the project the American people want us to work on. Together.

We did that in December. Thanks to the tax cuts we passed, Americans' paychecks are a little bigger today. Every business can write off the full cost of the new investments they make this year. These steps, taken by Democrats and Republicans, will grow the economy and add to the more than one million private sector jobs created last year.

But we have more work to do. The steps we've taken over the last two years may have broken the back of this recession -- but to win the future, we'll need to take on challenges that have been decades in the making.

Many people watching tonight can probably remember a time when finding a good job meant showing up at a nearby factory or a business downtown. You didn't always need a degree, and your competition was pretty much limited to your neighbors. If you worked hard, chances are you'd have a job for life, with a decent paycheck, good benefits, and the occasional promotion. Maybe you'd even have the pride of seeing your kids work at the same company.

That world has changed. And for many, the change has been painful. I've seen it in the shuttered windows of once booming factories, and the vacant storefronts of once busy Main Streets. I've heard it in the frustrations of Americans who've seen their paychecks dwindle or their jobs disappear -- proud men and women who feel like the rules have been changed in the middle of the game.

They're right. The rules have changed. In a single generation, revolutions in technology have transformed the way we live, work and do business. Steel mills that once needed 1,000 workers can now do the same work with 100. Today, just about any company can set up shop, hire workers, and sell their products wherever there's an internet connection.

Meanwhile, nations like China and India realized that with some changes of their own, they could compete in this new world. And so they started educating their children earlier and longer, with greater emphasis on math and science. They're investing in research and new technologies. Just recently, China became home to the world's largest private solar research facility, and the world's fastest computer.

So yes, the world has changed. The competition for jobs is real. But this shouldn't discourage us. It should challenge us. Remember for all the hits we've taken these last few years, for all the naysayers predicting our decline, America still has the largest, most prosperous economy in the world. No workers are more productive than ours. No country has more successful companies, or grants more patents to inventors and entrepreneurs. We are home to the world's best colleges and universities, where more students come to study than any other place on Earth.

What's more, we are the first nation to be founded for the sake of an idea -- the idea that each of us deserves the chance to shape our own destiny. That is why centuries of pioneers and immigrants have risked everything to come here. It's why our students don't just memorize equations, but answer questions like "What do you think of that idea? What would you change about the world? What do you want to be when you grow up?"

The future is ours to win. But to get there, we can't just stand still. As Robert Kennedy told us, "The future is not a gift. It is an achievement." Sustaining the American Dream has never been about standing pat. It has required each generation to sacrifice, and struggle, and meet the demands of a new age.

Now it's our turn. We know what it takes to compete for the jobs and industries of our time. We need to out-innovate, out-educate, and out-build the rest of the world. We have to make America the best place on Earth to do business. We need to take responsibility for our deficit, and reform our government. That's how our people will prosper. That's how we'll win the future. And tonight, I'd like to talk about how we get there.

The first step in winning the future is encouraging American innovation.

None of us can predict with certainty what the next big industry will be, or where the new jobs will come from. Thirty years ago, we couldn't know that something called the Internet would lead to an economic revolution. What we can do -- what America does better than anyone -- is spark the creativity and imagination of our people. We are the nation that put cars in driveways and computers in offices; the nation of Edison and the Wright brothers; of Google and Facebook. In America, innovation doesn't just change our lives. It's how we make a living.

Our free enterprise system is what drives innovation. But because it's not always profitable for companies to invest in basic research, throughout history our government has provided cutting-edge scientists and inventors with the support that they need. That's what planted the seeds for the Internet. That's what helped make possible things like computer chips and GPS.

Just think of all the good jobs -- from manufacturing to retail -- that have come from those breakthroughs.

Half a century ago, when the Soviets beat us into space with the launch of a satellite called Sputnik¸ we had no idea how we'd beat them to the moon. The science wasn't there yet. NASA didn't even exist. But after investing in better research and education, we didn't just surpass the Soviets; we unleashed a wave of innovation that created new industries and millions of new jobs.

This is our generation's Sputnik moment. Two years ago, I said that we needed to reach a level of research and development we haven't seen since the height of the Space Race. In a few weeks, I will be sending a budget to Congress that helps us meet that goal. We'll invest in biomedical research, information technology, and especially clean energy technology -- an investment that will strengthen our security, protect our planet, and create countless new jobs for our people.

Already, we are seeing the promise of renewable energy. Robert and Gary Allen are brothers who run a small Michigan roofing company. After September 11th, they volunteered their best roofers to help repair the Pentagon. But half of their factory went unused, and the recession hit them hard.

Today, with the help of a government loan, that empty space is being used to manufacture solar shingles that are being sold all across the country. In Robert's words, "We reinvented ourselves."

That's what Americans have done for over two hundred years: reinvented ourselves. And to spur on more success stories like the Allen Brothers, we've begun to reinvent our energy policy. We're not just handing out money. We're issuing a challenge. We're telling America's scientists and engineers that if they assemble teams of the best minds in their fields, and focus on the hardest problems in clean energy, we'll fund the Apollo Projects of our time.

At the California Institute of Technology, they're developing a way to turn sunlight and water into fuel for our cars. At Oak Ridge National Laboratory, they're using supercomputers to get a lot more power out of our nuclear facilities. With more research and incentives, we can break our dependence on oil with biofuels, and become the first country to have 1 million electric vehicles on the road by 2015.

We need to get behind this innovation. And to help pay for it, I'm asking Congress to eliminate the billions in taxpayer dollars we currently give to oil companies. I don't know if you've noticed, but they're doing just fine on their own. So instead of subsidizing yesterday's energy, let's invest in tomorrow's.

Now, clean energy breakthroughs will only translate into clean energy jobs if businesses know there will be a market for what they're selling. So tonight, I challenge you to join me in setting a new goal: by 2035, 80% of America's electricity will come from clean energy sources. Some folks want wind and solar. Others want nuclear, clean coal, and natural gas. To meet this goal, we will need them all-- and I urge Democrats and Republicans to work together to make it happen.

Maintaining our leadership in research and technology is crucial to America's success. But if we want to win the future ¿ if we want innovation to produce jobs in America and not overseas ¿ then we also have to win the race to educate our kids.

Think about it. Over the next ten years, nearly half of all new jobs will require education that goes beyond a high school degree. And yet, as many as a quarter of our students aren't even finishing high school. The quality of our math and science education lags behind many other nations. America has fallen to 9th in the proportion of young people with a college degree. And so the question is whether all of us -- as citizens, and as parents -- are willing to do what's necessary to give every child a chance to succeed.

That responsibility begins not in our classrooms, but in our homes and communities. It's family that first instills the love of learning in a child. Only parents can make sure the TV is turned off and homework gets done. We need to teach our kids that it's not just the winner of the Super Bowl who deserves to be celebrated, but the winner of the science fair; that success is not a function of fame or PR, but of hard work and discipline.

Our schools share this responsibility. When a child walks into a classroom, it should be a place of high expectations and high performance. But too many schools don't meet this test. That's why instead of just pouring money into a system that's not working, we launched a competition called Race to the Top. To all fifty states, we said, "If you show us the most innovative plans to improve teacher quality and student achievement, we'll show you the money."

Race to the Top is the most meaningful reform of our public schools in a generation. For less than one percent of what we spend on education each year, it has led over 40 states to raise their standards for teaching and learning. These standards were developed, not by Washington, but by Republican and Democratic governors throughout the country. And Race to the Top should be the approach we follow this year as we replace No Child Left Behind with a law that is more flexible and focused on what's best for our kids.

You see, we know what's possible for our children when reform isn't just a top-down mandate, but the work of local teachers and principals; school boards and communities.

Take a school like Bruce Randolph in Denver. Three years ago, it was rated one of the worst schools in Colorado; located on turf between two rival gangs. But last May, 97% of the seniors received their diploma. Most will be the first in their family to go to college. And after the first year of the school's transformation, the principal who made it possible wiped away tears when a student said "Thank you, Mrs. Waters, for showing that we are smart and we can make it."

Let's also remember that after parents, the biggest impact on a child's success comes from the man or woman at the front of the classroom. In South Korea, teachers are known as "nation builders." Here in America, it's time we treated the people who educate our children with the same level of respect. We want to reward good teachers and stop making excuses for bad ones. And over the next ten years, with so many Baby Boomers retiring from our classrooms, we want to prepare 100,000 new teachers in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and math.

In fact, to every young person listening tonight who's contemplating their career choice: If you want to make a difference in the life of our nation; if you want to make a difference in the life of a child become a teacher. Your country needs you.

Of course, the education race doesn't end with a high school diploma. To compete, higher education must be within reach of every American. That's why we've ended the unwarranted taxpayer subsidies that went to banks, and used the savings to make college affordable for millions of students. And this year, I ask Congress to go further, and make permanent our tuition tax credit worth $10,000 for four years of college.

Because people need to be able to train for new jobs and careers in today's fast-changing economy, we are also revitalizing America's community colleges. Last month, I saw the promise of these schools at Forsyth Tech in North Carolina. Many of the students there used to work in the surrounding factories that have since left town. One mother of two, a woman named Kathy Proctor, had worked in the furniture industry since she was 18 years old. And she told me she's earning her degree in biotechnology now, at 55 years old, not just because the furniture jobs are gone, but because she wants to inspire her children to pursue their dreams too. As Kathy said, "I hope it tells them to never give up."

If we take these steps -- if we raise expectations for every child, and give them the best possible chance at an education, from the day they're born until the last job they take -- we will reach the goal I set two years ago: by the end of the decade, America will once again have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world.

One last point about education. Today, there are hundreds of thousands of students excelling in our schools who are not American citizens. Some are the children of undocumented workers, who had nothing to do with the actions of their parents. They grew up as Americans and pledge allegiance to our flag, and yet live every day with the threat of deportation. Others come here from abroad to study in our colleges and universities. But as soon as they obtain advanced degrees, we send them back home to compete against us. It makes no sense.

Now, I strongly believe that we should take on, once and for all, the issue of illegal immigration. I am prepared to work with Republicans and Democrats to protect our borders, enforce our laws and address the millions of undocumented workers who are now living in the shadows. I know that debate will be difficult and take time. But tonight, let's agree to make that effort. And let's stop expelling talented, responsible young people who can staff our research labs, start new businesses, and further enrich this nation.

The third step in winning the future is rebuilding America. To attract new businesses to our shores, we need the fastest, most reliable ways to move people, goods, and information -- from high-speed rail to high-speed internet.

Our infrastructure used to be the best -- but our lead has slipped. South Korean homes now have greater internet access than we do. Countries in Europe and Russia invest more in their roads and railways than we do. China is building faster trains and newer airports. Meanwhile, when our own engineers graded our nation's infrastructure, they gave us a "D."

We have to do better. America is the nation that built the transcontinental railroad, brought electricity to rural communities, and constructed the interstate highway system. The jobs created by these projects didn't just come from laying down tracks or pavement. They came from businesses that opened near a town's new train station or the new off-ramp.

Over the last two years, we have begun rebuilding for the 21st century, a project that has meant thousands of good jobs for the hard-hit construction industry. Tonight, I'm proposing that we redouble these efforts.

We will put more Americans to work repairing crumbling roads and bridges. We will make sure this is fully paid for, attract private investment, and pick projects based on what's best for the economy, not politicians.

Within 25 years, our goal is to give 80% of Americans access to high-speed rail, which could allow you go places in half the time it takes to travel by car. For some trips, it will be faster than flying -- without the pat-down. As we speak, routes in California and the Midwest are already underway.

Within the next five years, we will make it possible for business to deploy the next generation of high-speed wireless coverage to 98% of all Americans. This isn't just about a faster internet and fewer dropped calls. It's about connecting every part of America to the digital age. It's about a rural community in Iowa or Alabama where farmers and small business owners will be able to sell their products all over the world. It's about a firefighter who can download the design of a burning building onto a handheld device; a student who can take classes with a digital textbook; or a patient who can have face-to-face video chats with her doctor.

All these investments -- in innovation, education, and infrastructure will make America a better place to do business and create jobs. But to help our companies compete, we also have to knock down barriers that stand in the way of their success.

Over the years, a parade of lobbyists has rigged the tax code to benefit particular companies and industries. Those with accountants or lawyers to work the system can end up paying no taxes at all. But all the rest are hit with one of the highest corporate tax rates in the world. It makes no sense, and it has to change.

So tonight, I'm asking Democrats and Republicans to simplify the system. Get rid of the loopholes. Level the playing field. And use the savings to lower the corporate tax rate for the first time in 25 years without adding to our deficit.

To help businesses sell more products abroad, we set a goal of doubling our exports by 2014 -- because the more we export, the more jobs we create at home. Already, our exports are up. Recently, we signed agreements with India and China that will support more than 250,000 jobs in the United States. And last month, we finalized a trade agreement with South Korea that will support at least 70,000 American jobs. This agreement has unprecedented support from business and labor; Democrats and Republicans, and I ask this Congress to pass it as soon as possible.

Before I took office, I made it clear that we would enforce our trade agreements, and that I would only sign deals that keep faith with American workers, and promote American jobs. That's what we did with Korea, and that's what I intend to do as we pursue agreements with Panama and Colombia, and continue our Asia Pacific and global trade talks.

To reduce barriers to growth and investment, I've ordered a review of government regulations. When we find rules that put an unnecessary burden on businesses, we will fix them. But I will not hesitate to create or enforce commonsense safeguards to protect the American people. That's what we've done in this country for more than a century. It's why our food is safe to eat, our water is safe to drink, and our air is safe to breathe. It's why we have speed limits and child labor laws. It's why last year, we put in place consumer protections against hidden fees and penalties by credit card companies, and new rules to prevent another financial crisis. And it's why we passed reform that finally prevents the health insurance industry from exploiting patients.

Now, I've heard rumors that a few of you have some concerns about the new health care law. So let me be the first to say that anything can be improved. If you have ideas about how to improve this law by making care better or more affordable, I am eager to work with you. We can start right now by correcting a flaw in the legislation that has placed an unnecessary bookkeeping burden on small businesses.

What I'm not willing to do is go back to the days when insurance companies could deny someone coverage because of a pre-existing condition. I'm not willing to tell James Howard, a brain cancer patient from Texas, that his treatment might not be covered. I'm not willing to tell Jim Houser, a small business owner from Oregon, that he has to go back to paying $5,000 more to cover his employees. As we speak, this law is making prescription drugs cheaper for seniors and giving uninsured students a chance to stay on their parents' coverage. So instead of re-fighting the battles of the last two years, let's fix what needs fixing and move forward.

Now, the final step -- a critical step -- in winning the future is to make sure we aren't buried under a mountain of debt.

We are living with a legacy of deficit-spending that began almost a decade ago. And in the wake of the financial crisis, some of that was necessary to keep credit flowing, save jobs, and put money in people's pockets.

But now that the worst of the recession is over, we have to confront the fact that our government spends more than it takes in. That is not sustainable. Every day, families sacrifice to live within their means. They deserve a government that does the same.

So tonight, I am proposing that starting this year, we freeze annual domestic spending for the next five years. This would reduce the deficit by more than $400 billion over the next decade, and will bring discretionary spending to the lowest share of our economy since Dwight Eisenhower was president.

This freeze will require painful cuts. Already, we have frozen the salaries of hardworking federal employees for the next two years. I've proposed cuts to things I care deeply about, like community action programs. The Secretary of Defense has also agreed to cut tens of billions of dollars in spending that he and his generals believe our military can do without.

I recognize that some in this Chamber have already proposed deeper cuts, and I'm willing to eliminate whatever we can honestly afford to do without. But let's make sure that we're not doing it on the backs of our most vulnerable citizens. And let's make sure what we're cutting is really excess weight. Cutting the deficit by gutting our investments in innovation and education is like lightening an overloaded airplane by removing its engine. It may feel like you're flying high at first, but it won't take long before you'll feel the impact.

Now, most of the cuts and savings I've proposed only address annual domestic spending, which represents a little more than 12% of our budget. To make further progress, we have to stop pretending that cutting this kind of spending alone will be enough. It won't.

The bipartisan Fiscal Commission I created last year made this crystal clear. I don't agree with all their proposals, but they made important progress. And their conclusion is that the only way to tackle our deficit is to cut excessive spending wherever we find it -- in domestic spending, defense spending, health care spending, and spending through tax breaks and loopholes.

This means further reducing health care costs, including programs like Medicare and Medicaid, which are the single biggest contributor to our long-term deficit. Health insurance reform will slow these rising costs, which is part of why nonpartisan economists have said that repealing the health care law would add a quarter of a trillion dollars to our deficit. Still, I'm willing to look at other ideas to bring down costs, including one that Republicans suggested last year: medical malpractice reform to rein in frivolous lawsuits.

To put us on solid ground, we should also find a bipartisan solution to strengthen Social Security for future generations. And we must do it without putting at risk current retirees, the most vulnerable, or people with disabilities; without slashing benefits for future generations; and without subjecting Americans' guaranteed retirement income to the whims of the stock market.

And if we truly care about our deficit, we simply cannot afford a permanent extension of the tax cuts for the wealthiest 2% of Americans. Before we take money away from our schools, or scholarships away from our students, we should ask millionaires to give up their tax break.

It's not a matter of punishing their success. It's about promoting America's success.

In fact, the best thing we could do on taxes for all Americans is to simplify the individual tax code. This will be a tough job, but members of both parties have expressed interest in doing this, and I am prepared to join them.

So now is the time to act. Now is the time for both sides and both houses of Congress -- Democrats and Republicans -- to forge a principled compromise that gets the job done. If we make the hard choices now to rein in our deficits, we can make the investments we need to win the future.

Let me take this one step further. We shouldn't just give our people a government that's more affordable. We should give them a government that's more competent and efficient. We cannot win the future with a government of the past.

We live and do business in the information age, but the last major reorganization of the government happened in the age of black and white TV. There are twelve different agencies that deal with exports. There are at least five different entities that deal with housing policy. Then there's my favorite example: the Interior Department is in charge of salmon while they're in fresh water, but the Commerce Department handles them in when they're in saltwater. And I hear it gets even more complicated once they're smoked.

Now, we have made great strides over the last two years in using technology and getting rid of waste. Veterans can now download their electronic medical records with a click of the mouse. We're selling acres of federal office space that hasn't been used in years, and we will cut through red tape to get rid of more. But we need to think bigger. In the coming months, my administration will develop a proposal to merge, consolidate, and reorganize the federal government in a way that best serves the goal of a more competitive America. I will submit that proposal to Congress for a vote -- and we will push to get it passed.

In the coming year, we will also work to rebuild people's faith in the institution of government. Because you deserve to know exactly how and where your tax dollars are being spent, you will be able to go to a website and get that information for the very first time in history. Because you deserve to know when your elected officials are meeting with lobbyists, I ask Congress to do what the White House has already done: put that information online. And because the American people deserve to know that special interests aren't larding up legislation with pet projects, both parties in Congress should know this: if a bill comes to my desk with earmarks inside, I will veto it.

A 21st century government that's open and competent. A government that lives within its means. An economy that's driven by new skills and ideas. Our success in this new and changing world will require reform, responsibility, and innovation. It will also require us to approach that world with a new level of engagement in our foreign affairs.

Just as jobs and businesses can now race across borders, so can new threats and new challenges. No single wall separates East and West; no one rival superpower is aligned against us.

And so we must defeat determined enemies wherever they are, and build coalitions that cut across lines of region and race and religion. America's moral example must always shine for all who yearn for freedom, justice, and dignity. And because we have begun this work, tonight we can say that American leadership has been renewed and America's standing has been restored.

Look to Iraq, where nearly 100,000 of our brave men and women have left with their heads held high; where American combat patrols have ended; violence has come down; and a new government has been formed. This year, our civilians will forge a lasting partnership with the Iraqi people, while we finish the job of bringing our troops out of Iraq. America's commitment has been kept; the Iraq War is coming to an end.

Of course, as we speak, al Qaeda and their affiliates continue to plan attacks against us. Thanks to our intelligence and law enforcement professionals, we are disrupting plots and securing our cities and skies. And as extremists try to inspire acts of violence within our borders, we are responding with the strength of our communities, with respect for the rule of law, and with the conviction that American Muslims are a part of our American family.

We have also taken the fight to al Qaeda and their allies abroad. In Afghanistan, our troops have taken Taliban strongholds and trained Afghan Security Forces. Our purpose is clear -- by preventing the Taliban from reestablishing a stranglehold over the Afghan people, we will deny al Qaeda the safe-haven that served as a launching pad for 9/11.

Thanks to our heroic troops and civilians, fewer Afghans are under the control of the insurgency. There will be tough fighting ahead, and the Afghan government will need to deliver better governance. But we are strengthening the capacity of the Afghan people and building an enduring partnership with them. This year, we will work with nearly 50 countries to begin a transition to an Afghan lead. And this July, we will begin to bring our troops home.

In Pakistan, al Qaeda's leadership is under more pressure than at any point since 2001. Their leaders and operatives are being removed from the battlefield. Their safe-havens are shrinking. And we have sent a message from the Afghan border to the Arabian Peninsula to all parts of the globe: we will not relent, we will not waver, and we will defeat you.

American leadership can also be seen in the effort to secure the worst weapons of war. Because Republicans and Democrats approved the New START Treaty, far fewer nuclear weapons and launchers will be deployed. Because we rallied the world, nuclear materials are being locked down on every continent so they never fall into the hands of terrorists.

Because of a diplomatic effort to insist that Iran meet its obligations, the Iranian government now faces tougher and tighter sanctions than ever before. And on the Korean peninsula, we stand with our ally South Korea, and insist that North Korea keeps its commitment to abandon nuclear weapons.

This is just a part of how we are shaping a world that favors peace and prosperity. With our European allies, we revitalized NATO, and increased our cooperation on everything from counter-terrorism to missile defense. We have reset our relationship with Russia, strengthened Asian alliances, and built new partnerships with nations like India. This March, I will travel to Brazil, Chile, and El Salvador to forge new alliances for progress in the Americas. Around the globe, we are standing with those who take responsibility helping farmers grow more food; supporting doctors who care for the sick; and combating the corruption that can rot a society and rob people of opportunity.

Recent events have shown us that what sets us apart must not just be our power -- it must be the purpose behind it. In South Sudan with our assistance -- the people were finally able to vote for independence after years of war. Thousands lined up before dawn. People danced in the streets. One man who lost four of his brothers at war summed up the scene around him: "This was a battlefield for most of my life. Now we want to be free."

We saw that same desire to be free in Tunisia, where the will of the people proved more powerful than the writ of a dictator. And tonight, let us be clear: the United States of America stands with the people of Tunisia, and supports the democratic aspirations of all people.

We must never forget that the things we've struggled for, and fought for, live in the hearts of people everywhere. And we must always remember that the Americans who have borne the greatest burden in this struggle are the men and women who serve our country.

Tonight, let us speak with one voice in reaffirming that our nation is united in support of our troops and their families. Let us serve them as well as they have served us -- by giving them the equipment they need; by providing them with the care and benefits they have earned; and by enlisting our veterans in the great task of building our own nation.

Our troops come from every corner of this country they are black, white, Latino, Asian and Native American.

They are Christian and Hindu, Jewish and Muslim. And, yes, we know that some of them are gay. Starting this year, no American will be forbidden from serving the country they love because of who they love. And with that change, I call on all of our college campuses to open their doors to our military recruiters and the ROTC. It is time to leave behind the divisive battles of the past. It is time to move forward as one nation.

We should have no illusions about the work ahead of us. Reforming our schools; changing the way we use energy; reducing our deficit none of this is easy. All of it will take time. And it will be harder because we will argue about everything. The cost. The details. The letter of every law.

Of course, some countries don't have this problem. If the central government wants a railroad, they get a railroad -- no matter how many homes are bulldozed. If they don't want a bad story in the newspaper, it doesn't get written.

And yet, as contentious and frustrating and messy as our democracy can sometimes be, I know there isn't a person here who would trade places with any other nation on Earth.

We may have differences in policy, but we all believe in the rights enshrined in our Constitution. We may have different opinions, but we believe in the same promise that says this is a place where you can make it if you try. We may have different backgrounds, but we believe in the same dream that says this is a country where anything's possible. No matter who you are. No matter where you come from.

That dream is why I can stand here before you tonight. That dream is why a working class kid from Scranton can stand behind me. That dream is why someone who began by sweeping the floors of his father's Cincinnati bar can preside as Speaker of the House in the greatest nation on Earth.

That dream -- that American Dream -- is what drove the Allen Brothers to reinvent their roofing company for a new era. It's what drove those students at Forsyth Tech to learn a new skill and work towards the future. And that dream is the story of a small business owner named Brandon Fisher.

Brandon started a company in Berlin, Pennsylvania that specializes in a new kind of drilling technology. One day last summer, he saw the news that halfway across the world, 33 men were trapped in a Chilean mine, and no one knew how to save them.

But Brandon thought his company could help. And so he designed a rescue that would come to be known as Plan B. His employees worked around the clock to manufacture the necessary drilling equipment. And Brandon left for Chile.

Along with others, he began drilling a 2,000 foot hole into the ground, working three or four days at a time with no sleep. Thirty-seven days later, Plan B succeeded, and the miners were rescued. But because he didn't want all of the attention, Brandon wasn't there when the miners emerged. He had already gone home, back to work on his next project.

Later, one of his employees said of the rescue, "We proved that Center Rock is a little company, but we do big things."

We do big things.

From the earliest days of our founding, America has been the story of ordinary people who dare to dream. That's how we win the future.

We are a nation that says, "I might not have a lot of money, but I have this great idea for a new company. I might not come from a family of college graduates, but I will be the first to get my degree. I might not know those people in trouble, but I think I can help them, and I need to try. I'm not sure how we'll reach that better place beyond the horizon, but I know we'll get there. I know we will.

We do big things.

The idea of America endures. Our destiny remains our choice. And tonight, more than two centuries later, it is because of our people that our future is hopeful, our journey goes forward, and the state of our union is strong.

Thank you, God Bless You, and may God Bless the United States of America.