Velodyne’s vFree Blue Tooth Wireless Headphones

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Is this the right headphone for you?

Opening of the Velodyne vFree

Great sound from any device in the arena of headphones depends heavily on their quality. It doesn’t matter how great the specs are on your smartphone, or whatever device you using, pedestrian headphones are severely limited. Hearing the nuances of sound, the crisp details, demands a device with the undisputed power to give that to the listener. When music matters, you quickly discover not all headphones are made the same.

vFree Headphones

Velodyne’s vFree Headphones

Here is where Velodyne’s vFree Blue Tooth Wireless Headphones come into play. Choices are abundant in headphones. From high end to low end, there are numerous options. Brands, visibility and reputation play a role in the subject of headphones. They are one way of distinguishing one model from the next.
The first noticeable stand out feature of the vFree are its looks. Resembling something that would come from a post-modernist school of design, the aesthetics of the unit are clean and minimal. There are no elaborate shapes or over logos to be found here. These headphones seem to almost be proud of their status. The require no other visual information than their appearance to inform you of what they are.
Responsibility for this insistence on the careful configuration of visual elements rests with the President of the company, Marta Thoma Hall. Her background and training in the visual arts served her well during the creation of these headphones. The teardrop shaped vFree stand out from the crowd. It does so in a decidedly laid back manner. Eschewing ornate detail for flowing lines, the impression that they leave you with are calm, sleek and unpretentious.

The buttons that control most commonly used functions, namely turning on the device, are placed on the right side of the headphone. They are not raised, but depressed when in use. On the side, hidden away from view are two small volume buttons one for up, and one for down. Learning to manipulate these controls may take some time to master.

Potential personalization of the vFree come in the available “skins.” Priced at $ 39.99, these add ons provide additional detail to the austere surface of the headphones. They will certainly have appeal to some users. However, even in their basic form, they still look refined.
Finger prints are always an issue. They can be distracting to say the least. I can confirm that on the silver ones I was reviewing, finger prints are not a issue. To note, there are three color choices, silver, white and basic black.
A virtue of the plastic construction of the vFree is light weight. A heavy ungainly headphone is not going to see much action. When you are wearing these devices, it is a fair assumption that you are not going to remove them after a few minutes of use. For long term listening, there are no problems here.
Great looks and comfort are desirable, if not essential, in making a product appealing. With that said, nothing ruins a product faster than weak performance. You can own the smartest looking headphone on the planet, but it is virtually useless if it can’t deliver on the promise of being far above just average it its class.
At a price point of $ 299.00, there is an implied promise of high performance. In this category nothing less will suffice.
On the vitally important feature of sound, there is no denying that the vFree can keep what it proposes to the listener, a great experience.
After literally hours of listening with the device, no matter what style of kind of music I presented it with, the vFree had no problem negotiating extremely broad ranges of music. Be it Hip Hop, Jazz, Experimental, Pop, Adult Contemporary, Punk and whatever hybrid categories in between, there were no problems handling a variety of music. That kind of broad appeal is necessary. To know that your headphones can successfully whatever you are in the mood to hear is reassuring.
On the subject of bass, it logically follows that a company well known for its extremely high end subwoofers are going to have this base covered. As expected, they do.
Rather than simply providing volume and power, the powerful lower tones are not blasted indiscriminately. Bold sound without nuance translates into an appreciable loss of detail. Recklessly applied, the bass can trample the upper register creating a decidedly muddy sound.
One telltale indicator of sound quality is the capability of the device in question to render music as the artist, or producer, intended. The vFree does just that. At one point in listening, I could literally hear the atmospheric space of the walls in the studio. It is very difficult in words to accurately describe that experience. One literally has to listen to the music to really understand the full impact of these headphones.
Wireless Bluetooth sound is usually considered less than ideal. Thanks to advances in technology, the vFree produced excellent sound with this connection. Syncing was a breeze and the range on this device is actually longer that specified, a welcome surprise.
Using the headphone with phone calls was without issues. The built in mic worked well, and the people on the other end of the conversation could hear me with ease.
While posted on the web site that these headphones work with an assortment of Apple products, there were no problems with my Android phone. Versatility in this department is certainly a good thing.
High end headphones are expected to function at high levels with comparable devices. Should you own a smartphone minus state of the art specs, can you also expect superlative sound? In my informal tests with a very old mp3 player and a much lower spec mobile phone, the answer was yes. These older mobile systems were given a new lease on life. Rich sound was emanating from the vFree proving without doubt that headphone quality can turn anything connected to it into something special.
At the proverbial end of the day, the big question is value. Does the vFree merit its price tag? Are you indeed getting a fair balance between cost and performance? This is always the question for any device. It is particularly true of peripherals.
To understand virtues of the vFree, a comparison with other headphones has to be made. For a number of users, the earbuds that accompany their smartphone are good enough. But, the quality is often absent due to value.

Increasingly it is become common, even among expensive handsets, to exclude earbuds. They clearly assuming that this is going to be an extra, and why throw in a cheap set of earbuds than comprise the sound.
If you are a multipurpose mobile phone user, they are excellent replacements for the dedicated mp3 player in the same way that low end point and shoot cameras have been eclipsed by the smartphone. To get the very most out of your mobile phone, a higher end earbud or headphone is a necessity. It is not an option.
There are several factors to consider with a headphone. Appearance, comfort and ease of use are certainly part of the whole equation. At the very top of the list entes sound. The vFree is no stranger to quality.
The overall impression the vFree leaves is positive. Music was rich, detailed and accurate. These headphones do merit entry into the elite class of headphones that can provide the kind of sound one hopes for, but may not get.
You really cannot go wrong with the vFree. It does what it was created to do with flair.
Sound is a critical part of computing. Appreciating and enjoying multimedia content relies on it. The weight of this rests on the type of headphones you use.
Velodyne’s vFree Bluetooth Wireless Headphones were clearly designed with providing a superior experience. The discerning listener was clearly in mind. The big question is are they able to produce rich sound? When you are dealing with a device that costs $ 299.00, the expectation runs high.
With a nearly 30 year history as makers of extremely high end subwoofers, their reputation and brand indicate that they are more than capable of producing high grade products. Evidence of that commitment begins with appearances.
Aesthetics were obviously in mind with the creation of these headphones. Focus on that area is no doubt inspired by Marta Thoma Hall, President of Velodyne. Her experiences as an exhibiting fine artist have impacted the design of the vFree and her vision of it.
Visually the headphones are definitely coached in the ethos of less is indeed more. Eschewing the garish for the cool and serene, the smooth lines are not disturbed by raised buttons. The controls are flush to the surface. Only the raised buttons on the volume controls interrupt the smooth surface. Located on the side of the tear shaped phone, they are easily accessible. Learning to navigate the controls on the right side of the headphone requires a little time to handle.
Good looks are certainly appreciated. Considering that devices like this are worn, how they appear becomes an issue. While I like the “naked” version, one can personalize the look via skins. At $39.99 each one has a selection to pick from. It is certainly one way to differentiate your apparatus from the crop.
Available in black, silver and white, one element I noticed with my silver ones I reviewed was the lack of fingerprints. The smooth surface simply did not allow them to appear. This is always a good attribute.
Smart looks are augmented by comfort. There is no good in having headphones that feel like you are sporting an elaborate show girl headdress. If they are not comfortable, your enjoyment will be seriously impaired. Fortunately the plastic material that the vFree is constructed from is light weight. That permits hours of listening minus being made uncomfortable.
Appearances and options are selling points. However, they all become mute points if the sound is lacking. When it comes to providing deep bass tones, the vFree has absolutely no problem navigation that spectrum of music. In direct opposition to the idea that the bass must dominate to the detriment of higher tones, these headphones have struck an ideal marriage of delicate higher tones and lower ones.
Boasting a booming thunderous sound can create for the listener the sound the artist intended. When applicable that can be effective. But this is not universally true when a more nuanced approach is needed. That is where the vFree proves itself to be agile.
A wide spectrum of music does not stump these headphones. Classical music lost none of its detail. Blues, Rock and Roll, Progressive, Experimental, Jazz even Opera all were handled adroitly. The sound detail was remarkable.
Noted on the Velodyne web site, the vFree is stated as being compatible with the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch. But it not confined to that platform. Android is not a problem. What I found intriguing was that my particular smart phone is not top tiere, but that did not prevent great sound from being produced. I was impressed that my humble handset was producing extremely high end sound. This proves that lower end devices can deliver “the goods” when paired with a very good set of headphones.
Bluetooth connectivity was solid. I was able to walk through an average home, walls and all, and I never lost touch with my handset. Pairing to a device was simple and fast.
Phone conversations with the vFree were decent. Callers at the other end of the phone reported no deterioration in sound.
Included with headphones are a 4 foot, 3.5 mm (3/8″) audio bypass cable, a Micro USB charging cable and a carrying pouch. The vFree can be collapsed for easy storage and for travel.


Light weight, comfort and a clean appearance makes for a stylish headphone. At the end of the day everything rests on the quality of sound. Fortunately the vFree does well on all fronts. From aesthetics to overall sound quality, all of the essential ingredients that make for a great headphone are here. If you are searching for a premium high end device, the vFree does not disappoint. No matter what musical style you enjoy, this headphone can deliver the goods. You really cannot go wrong here. Does the vFree justify the cost? Factoring in what category this headphone is part of, this is a pretty good deal.

For purchase

• Outstanding wireless sound quality utilizing apt-X® coding
• Bluetooth® v2.1 connectivity with >30 foot range
• Optional vFree® skins let you add stylish designs to match your mood & fashion
• Intuitive controls
• High-quality microphone for phone & online video games
• Energy efficient design with exceptional battery life
• Collapsible design for easy storage
• Available in 3 stylish colors: Gloss Black, Gloss White & Gloss Silver

• 4 foot, 3.5 mm (3/8″) audio bypass cable
• Micro USB charging cable
• Carrying pouch

Driver size: 34 mm
Frequency response: 20 Hz – 20 kHz
Sensitivity: 98 dB/1 kHz/1 mW
Impedance: 32Ω
Frequency range: 2.4Ghz – 2.4835GHz
Transmission range: Up to 10 m (33’)
Power: Lithium-ion polymer battery, 3.7V/430mAh (rechargeable)
Operating temperature: 0 C – 40 C
Supports Bluetooth v2.1 + EDR, A2DP v1.2, AVRCP v1.0, HSP v1.2, HFP v1.6
Supports codecs SBC, AAC, apt-X

Battery Specifications:
100 hours standby
10 hours talk and music
1.5 hours recharge time


Leslie Jones: It wasn’t funny

Leslie Jones and Her Take on Slavery

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

By: Kurt von Behrmann



Let me start off by stating that I firmly believe in “freedom of expression.” Individuals, and groups, have the right to express themselves. Censorship is always an awful idea without exception. Along with this having been said, I also have the right to make commentary on what others say and do.

                What prompted me to write this entry on Facebook is rooted in a skit on Saturday Night Live. Already controversial, comedian Leslie Jones, who is African American, performed a piece that made light of slavery. Written by Jones, the piece in short centers around how improved her “sex life” would be if she had been alive during Slavery in the United States.   The link attached to this article goes into depth regarding what was said.

                The truly offensive part of this piece, and there are more,was that it demeaned and trivialized slavery. It not only made light of a serious subject, the manner in which Jones presented the material was highly stereotypical.

The image of the abrasive forceful African-American women has become established as descriptive of most, if not all, African-American Women.   While there is great diversity in the presentation and depiction of European Americans, the same cannot be said of the frequently presented “type” that has become shorthand for African-American woman.   The smart mouthed maid, the vulgar sex worker, the abusive mother and the materialistic predator who use sex to advance their economic position, these are the common place images of Black Women.  

                Some can argue that this is not the entire range presented. There are exceptions. However, opposing images are rare. When someone ventures beyond a racially narrow description, they are sometimes criticized as lacking authenticity. If one presents a more “refined” image, through some mysterious leap of logic it is somehow construed as attempting to be “white.”

                Blackness is now defined by a strict image.   Speaking in street vernacular, boastful statements of achievement, the threat of violence, overt displays of wealth and a marked disdain for academia, these and many other less desirable features are now the logos of Black ethnicity. Steeping outside of these clearly defined walls means losing identity. What is lost when you depart from the stereotypes is a failure to meet expectations. But, what is gained is self-respect and pride.

                SNL has be criticized for its lack of inclusion of African—American women.   When they finally address the inequity, they chose Jones. She certainly lives up to expectations. Vocal, noisy, blaring with arms a flutter, Jones physical presentation and use of language was in perfect line with what is expected. Jones fit the profile of Black behavior and comedy to perfection. She became a loud uncouth manic woman sent into a furry of emotion powered by the intellectual reasoning of a five year old having a tantrum.

                Confirmed true Feminists are on the front lines fighting misogyny. The oppression of a gender is something that should never be tolerated no matter where it takes place. Woman, all women, should take issue with the attempt to make a bad joke about the abuse of women. There should be loud protests on the part of women when they become the subject of a very very bad joke.

                Jones attempt to find humor in the enslavement and rape of women is simply not funny. One could hear the nervous laughter that greeted her performance. It was not the response of a crowd taken to comedic paradise. It was more like a painful trek into the disconcerting world of an idiot.

                Verbal assaults and the like can be the effective arsenal of a comic. There is nothing new here. Jokes that drip with acidic veneers are the stock and trade of the profession. As offensive as comedy can be, the one cardinal rule of comedy is that it be funny. All is forgiven if the joke makes a room laugh.   Jones violated the one rule of comedy; being funny.

                It has long been a practice of having African-Americans demeaning themselves as entertainment.   As long as the butt of the joke is telling the joke, everyone can laugh without feeling the sting of being called a racist. The reasoning here is that if Blacks are writing and performing the material, it is not offensive. Criticism is render null and void.

                What a European American does with African—American material becomes a double standard. It is perfectly acceptable in some quarters for an African—American to use the infamous “N” word.   If anyone else uses it, they are instantly branded as racially insensitive to say the least.

                The “N” word is loaded. It comes with a history steeped in profound pain. The frequent use of the word is sometimes excused based on context and who is actually using the word. While Germans respect freedom of expression, it is forbidden by law to perform the N.S.D.A.P. salute. The history of those acts and symbols are simply too close, too painful and too destructive to be deemed socially and politically acceptable. There are truly some things better left alone.

                One has to pontificate what would be the reaction and response to Jones humor anemic material if a European American had written and delivered the material? One does not have to wonder very long to come to the conclusion that the reaction would be widespread, swift and universally negative.

                I seriously doubt if this material would have gone far beyond the cutting room floor if anyone other than an African-American had written it.

                While I have not direct proof of this, it almost seems like the SNL wanted to demean African-Americans by having someone Black to do the dirty work. Or, could it be that SNL chose to only find stereotypical negatively based concepts as the only ones appropriate for a Black comedian. It is a point of conjecture.

                Jones attempt at being funny, at the expense of an entire race, arrives at an interesting time. Cliven Bundy made remarks that had his supporters backing away from him at an Olympic pace. Stating that African—Americans were better off during Slavery earned a substantial amount of ridicule.   Also on the racist horizon, Donald Sterling made his feelings about Blacks known when he made it clear he did not want them at his games. He did not want to socialize with African—Americans. The “irony” of Sterling’s remarks is that V. Stiviano, someone closely associated with Sterling, has openly stated her ethnicity to Barbara Walters as Mexican and Black.

                As both examples indicate, prejudice in America is not deceased. It is still being kept on life support.



TED, cinema at its most average




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Saturday, July 06, 2013


Seth Mc Farlane's first film

Seth Mc Farlane’s mess of a movie

TED: or how to screw up a movie


BY Kurt von Behrmann

                The insight from hindsight provides perspective.  This is particularly true when viewing movies that have been released some time ago. I had the disappointment recently of seeing what should have been a decent movie become a steaming pile of human excrement.   In retrospect that could be a harsh assessment, but TED had some much potential at being truly funny instead of mildly and inconsistently amusing.  

                The premise of the film is that a lonely alienated little boy wishes his teddy bear could really speak.  His wish is immediately granted.  The whole event is played a little bit too seriously.  There are no real funny punches.  I mean, you have a teddy bear come to life.  There are lines of potential here TED is in too big of a rush to get to that simply are only worth the trip.

                As to be expected TED becomes a sensation making the talk show rounds. The potential for humor here is lost.  The expectation is high when you consider that  the maker and head visionary of the “Family Guy,” Seth Mac Farlane could make such a laugh free movie.

                The little asides, the innuendo, the sharp witted social commentary, all of that is missing.  What TED lowers itself to being the equivalent of a sea of fart jokes.  It never elevates itself above the obvious.  Even the plot line is taken from the typical “CHICK FLICK” zone.  Yes, it becomes romantic and the few jokes here just evaporate.

                Where is the cynicism, the where are the clever lines and images, where are the bloody jokes?

                Shackled with a lacking script, Mila Kunis is giving no jokes and little to do except look pretty.  She is totally wasted here.  Unlike the Family Guy, generous with the jokes to every character, Kunis is given no laughing lines at all.

                The situation is made worse by former one hit wonder Marky Mark, or whatever he calls himself.  (Mark Walburg) He should have stuck with white rapping.  At least was mildly interesting with his six pack abs and mediocre open shirted dancing.  Now he is a mediocre actor getting parts in mainstream movies for no discernable reason.   Like Mila Kunis, he is given no jokes at all.

                TED degenerates into the typical romantic comedy.  Short on belly laughs.

                The premise of TED, as improbable as penguins falling from the sky, had potential.  Sadly it is all just a pile of the expected with little to find humorous.  Even the presence of Flash Gordon does little to make this an interesting film.

                If I had to  pay to see this, I would be furious. If I were watching this on H.B.O., this is passable pallid entertainment that fails to see humor everywhere instead of here and there.

Subject:Foreclosure and Education

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Be it ever so humble

The blurry,murky world of foreclosures and now education


SUBJECT: Home Foreclosures, Irregularities and Education

By Kurt von Behrmann


A letter to Anyone

First, thank you for your past efforts.  All your hard work is appreciated greatly.

My purpose in contacting you is because of the issues regarding the foreclosure process.  We, my partner and I, have been working with the Banks directly.

Later in this document,  I want to outline briefly a growing problem regarding the Community College system and the new shortage of qualified educators and full classes being closed.

Returning to the topic of banks and foreclosures, they, the banks, have been nearly impossible to work with on any level. The Bank representatives have been rude and reluctant to allow me to speak directly with Supervisors.

When I requested to speak to a Supervisor I was told, “What difference would that make.”

We have filled out the same forms over and over again.  The process keeps going on without progress. Just forms and more forms to complete has been a huge time consuming process.

Working on our behalf, Dollie A. Medina, a Foreclosure Intervention Counselor with L.C.S.A. was blocked from accessing our account.  After having filled out a disclosure form so that she can access information to assist us, she was deliberately blocked. This was after she already completed the appropriate forms and had access.

It is as if as if the banks want to rush the process rather than assist homeowners who want to keep their homes.

If there are government programs to help, it appears that their requirements are so stringent and inflexible that they do not accomplish what they were intended to do.

We have been in our home for over ten years.  My partner and I have been concerned citizens. We have made our community better by being active. We may have actually saved it from total disrepair.

Our first management company literally “nickled and dimed” our H.O.A.  Services performed were poorly done, and money set aside by our developer “magically disappeared.”

I have successfully received  grants to improve our community at least three times. At one point we had the chief of police, the Mayor and our City Councilmen attended our G.A.I.N. event.  I was actually awarded a bench from the City of Phoenix for civic contributions.

We have saved money to make mortgage payments. We have literally pleaded with the banks to allow us to get caught up to some degree.

All we wanted was time.

The banks would not accept our money.

My partner and I have begun working, but it will take a while for pay stubs to arrive. The bank keeps refusing what we send.

One of the unfortunate side effects of so many foreclosures are the many investors.  They claim houses banks put on the market with the intention of renting them.  Frequently, they do a poor job of doing background checks on their residents.

It is common practice that renters may not follow community guidelines.   Banks and investors frequently have ignored H.O.A. dues.  It takes efforts to collect funds.  With the loss of so many home owners, our H.O.A. funds become depleted.

When dues are not paid because houses are in transition, it raises H.O.A. fees for those that do make regular payments. The stress on communities are huge.


                Another issue that has impacted me and many others in the community college system is the fact that they are limiting the number of hours adjuncts can teach.  The net result is that full classes are cancelled.

Finding adjuncts qualified to teach classes is not easy.  The hours are long for preparation, and the pay is relatively low.  But, if one can teach a full load, the compensation makes teaching practical.

For reasons better known to the Community College system, they are enforcing the limit without exception.

It is obvious that this will seriously harm the Community College system.  Those seeking employment will leave the system.  This will cause a spiral effect.  If this persists, classes will be smaller, full classes will be cancelled. Students will seek other educational options.


                Communities, education and stability are issues close to me and many others in South Mountain.  We all want sustainable vital safe neighborhoods where  people want to reside.

When jobs are vanishing, pay lower and the cost of living and housing rise, Banks and their byzantine labyrinth of forms and requirements make matters worse.

I am not sure if the effort to write this letter is going to make any difference.  I do hope that if nothing else this letter will create awareness and help myself and the many others facing foreclosure.

Thank you for reading this document.




Kurt Joachim von Behrmann

Artist and Concerned Citizen

Behind the Artist: An artist’s rant

Above is my latest rant, big “ask” and video of my opinions on art, culture, the state of art, the “State of the Union” and many other things rolled into one roughly twenty minute video.

You may enjoy it, be bored or find it shameless self promotion. It may be deep, shallow, self serving, selfless, honest and hidden. Whatever, it is my reality. If you find it entertaining and it brings depth to your life, I am a happy artist if this happens.


The Selling of Jodi Arias: Turning Tragedy to Cash

Jodi Arias

Jodi Arias, when crime starts a payday



The name Jodi Arias is officially a household name.  In a case that has become a center piece for the media, the public could not get enough of the sordid story of obsession, passion and death.   News services were conveniently on hand to satiate a public mesmerized by the brutal death of Travis Alexander.  The court room was filled to capacity. Apparently there was more than one person who did not want to miss history in the making.

Andy Warhol’s famous quote “In the future everyone will be famous for fifteen minutes” is more than a shrewd observation. It is more descriptive of the present than the past. Celebrity comes not from achievement, but notoriety.  If you can keep the spotlight on you, anticipate a bizarre kind of stardom.

People who captivate the imagination of the public, either good or bad, will get name recognition. There is no bad or good publicity.  There is just publicity.

Making yourself a household name is the name of the game.

Before the trial was over, The Lifetime Channel was in production with a T.V. movie based on what is now the most talked about trial since O.J.

The sensational trial has given inspiration to an equally titillating  title  “Dirty Little  Secret: The Jodi Arias Trial.”

If there is a demand for something, anything, consider that someone will feed that hunger.  The seemingly bottomless pit of almost voyeuristic consumption has not been lost on those who see no problem with merchandising the tragic.

One Saint Louis woman has made commemorative jewelry so that Travis Alexander’s life is not forgotten.  For a mere $ 28.50 is all it takes to have a trinket that brings to mind a gisly murder.  Sympathetic to the loss of Travis’ family a small percentage of the sale of these pieces of jewelry to go to the family.

Slight monetary compensation is a weak form of solace to a family that lost a son.  The logic put forth here by the jewelry designer from Saint Louis is that is acceptable to profit from someone else’s misery. As long as you “give back” you are not a hustler taking advantage of a death to line your own pocket.

A few coins is better than none at all.  So justify your actions until the proverbial cows come home.

But the lure of lucre has not stopped the merchandisers from pounce on an opportunity.   T shirts can be purchased. Any memento connected with the infamous trial will do well in the market place.

As long as it makes money, there is no bad taste. There are only poor sales.

Bumper stickers and buttons can be had as well if jewelry is not your “thing.”

What is intriguing about the desire to somehow connect to the event is how intense the involvement has been.  People became so gripped by the trial they could not pull themselves away from the detailed coverage.

The emotional pitch of the audience waiting outside the court room waiting for the verdict. almost had a mob mentality.  Everyone felt personally touched by the event as if they were vicariously living through the proceedings.  I supposed some of that is to be expected.  This trial has everything to make a compelling story.

Kinky sex, an attractive looking suspect, everything about the murder draws you into it like an octopus.  The shock value is an attraction. Waiting for the jury’s decision was surrounded by anticipation. Just what would they do?  How was this going to end?

The anger and the desire to see justice served attracted a huge crowd.  All were relieved, happy almost jubilant that Arias was found guilty. Everyone on camera seemed happy. No relieved, sad or depressed faces here. The crowed looked happy is if a everyone had won the  lottery.

There was, and is, no doubt Arias committed this heinous act.    Her guilt is unquestionable.  The next phase will the suites and possible trials to come. We all have to wait to see how this transpires.

This trial is not over. It has just begun.

It may even be that Arias could potentially marketing herself via drawings and twitters.  No doubt anything coming from Arias’ hands will draw attention. It will attract money. It has been circling for a while that Arias could earn a few coins if her art work were sold.  Someone somewhere will see value here.

For the news media, the trial was a ratings pay day.  Nearly everyone was captivated.  There was something to report that had a salacious tag line

Sex sells.  It even sells murder, revenge, death and violence. The murder was the perfect storm for news crews who need the “big story.”

Crying tears of joy, the undercurrent around the courthouse was that justice was served. But the mix of a guilty verdict surrounded by happiness had an incongruence that was out of place.  Everyone wants justice to be served. Clearly Arias is not able to return to society, and she is a threat.

In a case where there are enough tears to shed on every front, the case had more to be depressed about than happy.

Justice must be served.

However, it just felt like an updated of the lynching’s of old less civilized times.  If there had been a dark castle and Herr Doktor Frankenstein’s monster around, you could almost envision torch carrying locals demanding justice.

Absent was any of and despair, loss or sadness. No matter how the case came out, the past could not be obliterated.  Guilty or innocent, a man is dead under what must have been a painful death. There is no reason for happiness. Should Arias face execution, it is not an event that causes cheers.

There is a death, family grieving and a mountain of pain to go around. An exhausted jury, two families sorting out the sordid mess, there is nothing but sorrow here no matter how you feel about any of this.

Life brutally extinguished is always tragic.  At the very least it deserves some dignity. Considering the circumstances, taking the higher ground would be the better path. One way that can be accomplished is by not turning the court room into a three ring circus designed to entertain. This desensitizes a public already jaded from films, video games and music that glorifies violence. Violence is entertainment and death an incidental consequence.

Back in very old times, a sacrificial cow was used to cleanse the community.  Guilt, anger and frustration were grafted onto the sacrifice as a means to vent emotion.  It seems as if Jodi Arias was despised as much for her crime as being a person to place blame and hate. She became a cathartic way to express anger, frustration and fear.

In times like these there are plenty of things to fear.

Jodi Arias, or Jodi as she was often referred, could be an instant object of female vengeance controlled.  The idea of woman as temptress, manipulator and she devil is as old as the hills. It is an archetype of the female image that sees all women as something to fear.  Just probe beneath the surface and any woman can be turned into a vile, lethal weapon.

Jodi Arias could easily be a character from a Greek play. The jealous femme fetal whose touch is desired, but her passions too bold.  Executing women, or men, for that matter for crimes is nothing new. But the notion that a woman out of control could happen at any moment is here.

If we can subdue a Jodi Areas we are all safe.  That could very well be true. However, there maybe little reason to happy about the outcome. There are only tears and sadness here.

Executing a woman is both feared, and yet oddly, a spectacle worth viewing.

It is just part of the human condition to turn around to see a car wreck.  Something about an accident pulls you in to watch.  Curiosity or a desire to see blood, crimes are much the same as any car accident.

We want entertainment.  We want justice. We want fair trials, we also want bread and circuses.  We are not that different from the Romans after all.

Ruminations will run rampant.  Is Arias a victim of abuse? Is she deeply disturbed? Is she just a cold blooded killer? Is  she a woman out of control,?  Is she a woman defending herself? Could she be all of these things?  Or is she just a vengeful woman .  Could she be criminally insane? Could she be a manipulator who took joy in her crimes? Only a good psychiatrist would know where to find the answers.

What is known is that she committed a grisly crime. She was vengeful, bloody and ruthless with her anger.

The Arias trial raises as many questions as it answers.  Did anyone see the signs that Arias had, at the least, “anger management issues?  Did anyone see her previous outbreaks  as a prelude to disaster?

What part, if any, did friends, family, expectations and frustrations work to fuel this very physical attack where a man’s head was literally ripped from his body.

Was this preventable? Or was this just a fluke? Was it a onetime situation, or will there be more to follow if Arias finds her way back to society?

One things is certain. Arias has to be removed from the public. She has shown she is dangerous. Now it is up to a Jury and a Judge to figure out what to do next.

As we wait to see this all come to a conclusion, there will be those who profit from this crime one way or the other.  When crime becomes a cash cow, anticipate that someone will figure out a way to milk this for all it is worth.

What is next regarding Arias memorabilia?  Will her drawings be shown?  Could her image become a shirt, a candle holder, maybe a protective cell phone case?  Will the Arias bed collection start showing up at Bed, Bath and Beyond?   Will a marketing genius create the Jodi Arias Shower Curtain?  Could this crime become more vulgar than it already is?

We will have to wait and see. Tune in for the next exciting episode of Woman Gone Wild.  If this turns into a video game, don’t be surprised.  You have been warned.

State of the Art, or Why gallleries fail

“A Modest Art Essay”

By Kurt von Behrmann

Phoenician art is not unfamiliar with negative criticisms.  From the art to the people that show it, the fine art world of Phoenix is littered with frustrations, failures and fruitless efforts to find patrons. Fractious is the most appropriate adjective to describe a community ripped apart by assorted self-interests and enough pretentiousness to cover all of the west coast in one big dust storm of despair.

Affecting importance out of proportion with the scant talent showcased, the egoism in some venues is literally palpable.  Insipid to the point of toxicity, vapid work passes for achievement.  The audience has evaporated faster than the paint drying on the art work. Artists’  creations are greeted by one collective yawn.

Even when work rises above the fracas, indifference shows up to scoff at imagination.  Tragedy reaches no worse depths than when the genuinely gifted receive the same greeting as the profoundly maladroit. The low acceptable bar infects everything it encounters.  Intellect is reduced  a cacophony of lesser minds.

Well intended have tried to leave an impression.  Their efforts often met with indifference by a public unsure of what to make of it all, they keep trying. They put out work that falters. The venues for art struggle and they are to be commended.

With  good reason some art deserved to be ignored.

The biggest offense to art are the many camps populated by dilettantes who sincerely believe they have talent.  Minus training, discipline or a vision that is not compromised by years of exposure to a pop culture drained of any originality, they walk blinded by their own inability to see beyond the sycophants that surrounded them.

Young people, the hope of art, for the large part have just given up the challenge. When they should be challenging the status quo, they have just embraced it. Rather than break ground, too many are preferring to break wind.  A.S.U. apparently is not doing anyone any favors.  It could be affordable education that forces gifted artists to do  other things for a living. What fills in the void is inconsequential.

Sometimes idiots make art and frequently the moronic buy it

The insular nature of the clans and cliques that dominate the visual arts are an exclusive enclave that rejoices in its own exclusivity.  Seemingly existing for no more reason than to exist, the incestuous nature of the art community has produced  a breed of art that is incomprehensible to anyone except its members.  Obscurity of expression would not be so horrid if the journey to comprehension had a payoff.

Instead of being treated to the inner workings of working minds that are restless and inquisitive, we have work with nothing to say.  The inbreeding has culminated in infertile ground incapable of sustaining any life at all.

Launched into this Robrt Pela, a well-known arts writer and curator in the Valley, has taken a drastic, even dramatic, move.  He opened an art gallery.  On the surface that may not appear to be subversive.  Here it is a radical act.

Rather than squat in the land of the dazed, unfocused and confused, Pela has a distinct vision.  It has served him well.  It separates him from the herd.  Unlike too many in the local arts community, he is not consumed with wasted attempts to pacify plebian sensibilities.  His presence has elevated the playing field.

More outward looking than reclusively removed, Pela has an open view of art.  In a more international setting, his approach is not far removed from the critical sensibilities of the East and West Coasts.  In a larger context, his selection process would be full appreciated.  In different settings such views are erroneously perceived as “elitist.”  It is common place for mediocre minds to label intellectual pursuits the domain of the privileged.  Reality tells a very different story.

“As a side note, I find it interesting that art is seen as elite.  The enclave of a gifted few is how art is often viewed.  In a supposedly “class free” nation, or supposedly a classless society, there are elites everywhere.  No one accuses the N.F.L. for being exclusive when it comes to selecting players or MVPs.  The members of the military, even the far right media, are filled with elites.  The Rushs and Ann  Coulters of the world live in a rarefied world of privilege. Even street gangs have hierarches.  Somehow those things are overlooked.  Look at any office and you will find a pecking order.

It is the responsibility of artists, curators and art pundits to elevate the bench mark of visual art.  It is not their responsibility to appease everyone.  The ultimate duty of art is to provide the world with vision, insight and wisdom.  In all art there is an underlying morality to art when it is working at full speed.

Art holds up a mirror to the world.  It is a reflection of more than one person’s vision. It is an articulation of what may be felt, but not understood by society.  The very best artists mine deeply. What their excavations uncover becomes the raw material for work that communicates an individual voice as well as a collective one.  Art becomes a moral compass that points to a brighter tomorrow. Even when art delves into the layers of unconscious thought, or confronts the darker side of the human experience, it does so with the notion of providing more, not less.

When art examines the bright, the dark and the indifferent, what it witnesses fuels powerful expressions.  Raw, sometimes difficult to digest, art is most in tune when it speaks to universal truths. Work like this only comes with maturity, training and a well-educated mind.   Idiots do not make great art.  Sadly it has not prevented morons from buying it.

Appeasing audiences or passing off frauds as geniuses is nothing new.  The situation is more apparent, and more destructive, when the art community is in an embryonic state. Posturing, posing and passing are common place. Here in the Valley they have reached such a fevered pitch even the art audience looks like a fraud of sorts.

People attend openings, drink wine and give the art a passing glance. Everyone comes to be seen looking deep. Being viewed with art elevates you by proximity.  Stand around a painting, good or indifferent, and it magically confers upon you intelligence, “hipness” and ultimately a veneer of “class.”  Money has become class, class has become money, and all are elites.  As long as everyone is honest, all of this is easier tolerate. When it becomes fake, it just induces nausea.

Identity and integrity are positives.  Knowing who you are helps.  One of the huge hidden problems with so many art venues in Phoenix is that they are not sure what they are.  As if uncertain what to do, many galleries fall into the trap of art doesn’t sell so they become a little bit of this and a little of that. Many just do not believe selling art can pay the overhead. They believe the line of art not selling so much it undermines their own efforts.

As a means to ensure there is no failure, they back up efforts with nick nacks and peripheral art works.  What emerges is not a gallery but a hodge podge of this and that.

Most galleries in Phoenix are trying. The problem is that there is a missing identity. There also seems to be a lack of a business plan. Media budgets and cultivating patrons often is missing from the gallery equation.  Like some form of naiveté, gallery owners open shop and hope for the best.  Minus excellent networking, a sense of what a gallery is and the inability to curate well, art spaces flop in the breeze.

The gallery business has never been easy. They require vision, investors and an exhibition space able to showcase the work effectively in order to work.  Having all the parts does not guarantee success.  Having parts missing can certainly guarantee failure.

The problems most new venues face is legitimacy and decent wall space.  Throwing up a gallery in a dilapidated space and pricing the work at $ 20,000 is not going to work. When your audience only makes $ 30,000 a year on average, expect work in the $ 200 to $ 500 range to move. If you have a decent space, some media savvy and solid work, expect more.

What Pela has done for Phoenix is provide a space that addresses the need for serious venues for art. That is not to denigrate those who have tried or struggling. They are doing the best they can do.

It would certainly help some artists and gallery owners to take a lesson from Pela.  His template places a premium on white walls, the art and nothing to distract from the work.  Free of this and that, there is no confusion that this is a fine arts space.

Opening a gallery is a difficult proposition.  No one should take it lightly.  Often the failure of art to sell rests on the shoulder of artists to some point. Gallery owners have to take some of the responsibly as well.  It rarely occurs that just maybe presentation, lack of a comprehensive business plan and a good presentation are the reason no one buys.  Stability also counts. No one wants to buy work from a space that is here today and gone tomorrow. When art spaces come and go, the assumption is that art will go south as well.

The key ingredients are solid curatorial skills, space, networking, advertising and knowing what you are selling. Having a specific identity is critical.  No one space can show everything made. It just makes a mixture of disconnected parts. Viewers are left to pick up the good from the bad.

Pela has started from the premise that he is showing challenging contemporary art first and foremost. It is an example worth emulating.