Archive for September 10th, 2006

Scammer Of Light

Mwahahahaha!!! Um, I mean, rather, that I take no pleasure in the misfortunes of others…

*unsuccessfully attempts to compose self*

Painting cute country cottages so kitschy they make art critics cringe doesn’t usually bring you a knock on the door from the FBI.

But the feds are investigating America’s best-selling artist, wholesome Christian painter Thomas Kinkade, whose mass-produced work is sold in stores in malls across the nation.

The FBI has been talking to dealers who say Kinkade played on their Christian faith to rope them into investing in franchise stores only to bankrupt them with company policies that severely restricted how they could sell the prints and ordered them to keep opening more stores.

A judge in California awarded $860,000 this year to two of the dealers, and dozens more have since come forward to complain.

But that’s only part of the growing shadow looming over the phenomenally popular “Painter of Light,” whose work hangs on an estimated 10 million suburban living room walls and who is building an empire to rival Martha Stewart’s.

A Michigan lawyer plans to file two class-action lawsuits this month on behalf of collectors who bought Kinkade’s dreamy, inspirational landscapes and shareholders in his company. Lawyer Norman Yatooma is also filing a civil racketeering case alleging Kinkade’s company destroyed documents and bought off witnesses.

“I’m a person of faith myself, and I’m really disturbed by Kinkade’s use of Jesus to perpetrate a scam,” said Yatooma, who said he’s been contacted by the FBI. “There are a lot of unhappy people out there who invested several hundred thousand dollars under the inducement of sharing God’s light, while at the same time making money.


John Vassallo, who owns the five New York-area Thomas Kinkade Signature Galleries, scoffed at the attacks on the artist.

“You can’t have any bad in you if you paint like this,” Vassallo said. “I’m fortunate and honored that I’m able to own a gallery that spreads such a positive message through Thom’s artwork.” [“Thom”???]


“People can relate to the images that he paints,” Vassallo said. “They don’t need to hire someone to explain to them what it means. They can receive that message that he’s trying to send: faith, family, friendship, hope.”

Critics don’t consider Kinkade much of an artist – no museum shows his work – but he is a marketing genius with legions of fans.

“The critics may not endorse me, but I own the hearts of the people,” he told Christianity Today.

I am reminded of the words of Reverend Larry in Repo Man: “They’re right! I do want your money! Because God wants your money!”

6 comments September 10th, 2006 at 11:55am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Wankers

DL-y Kos.

Lucky me, I hit the trifecta!

Markos of Daily Kos came to Pittsburgh to promote his and Jerome’s book, Crashing The Gate, and was gracious enough to come out to Drinking Liberally with some of us afterward. Alas, the venue (Claddagh’s Irish Pub at the South Side Works) was a bit loud, and I had trouble hearing anything he said, despite being only two seats away. The food was good, though – I had an “Irish Monte Cristo,” which was like a cross between a ham-and-cheese melt and… french toast, complete with powdered sugar. And bramble jelly to dip it in. I also discovered that malt vinegar is very tasty on fries (chips?).

I didn’t really get to talk to Markos much, but we did talk about the media a bit, and he seems, well, naively optimistic on the subject. He believes that the media spouts right-wing talking points because they don’t have time to do their homework, and the Republicans helpfully spoon-feed them with what to say, and because they have to “balance” every Democrat telling the truth with a Republican telling lies. And if we just keep pointing out every time they screw up, they’ll be motivated to do better.

I wish it were that simple to effect change in the media, but I think there’s a pro-Republican institutional imperative coming from the corporate parent level, and as long as that’s the case I think we’re only going to be able to make changes at the margins. Until I see what Atrios calls “zombie lies” (because they can’t be killed no matter how many times they’re debunked) go away, and reporting that consistently includes salient details like the 72-hour grace period to get retroactive warrants for wiretapping under FISA, I’m not going to hold out a whole lot of hope. And this is a Big Big Deal, because for a lot of people, whatever the teevee tells them is Reality.

Kos talked a lot about building up institutions and leaders and thinkers and pundits and TV talking heads, and the value of viral and/or online information as an alternative to traditional media (he used the internet popularity of Stephen Colbert at the correspondents’ dinner as an example) but until Democrats can somehow counter, repair, or discredit the corporate media, they’re always going to be at a profound competitive disadvantage.

He also pointed out that it took time for the conservatives to build up a dominant movement, and he doesn’t expect to see progressive movement-building really pay off until 2016. I don’t think this is unreasonable; I just hope there are still elections to win by then.

Oh, and I have pictures:

The power of Kos compels you!

Kos is positively giddy at the prospect of Drinking Liberally with us.

Kos hopes the Democrats will pick up huge tracts o’… congressional seats.

More Kos talking. It was torn between this one and the one where he looks like Ferris Bueller.

Spork has more pics. Ol’ Froth has some pics as well. Also 2 Political Junkies.

5 comments September 10th, 2006 at 09:56am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Favorites,Media,People,Photoblogging,Pittsburgh,Politics,Rabid Lambs

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