Friday, October 21, 2016


When Donald Trump took his recent jab at ‘winners and losers,’ the line sounded very familiar. Of course, we’ve all heard it before, but I had a vague memory of it being used in a local political forum. When I stopped trying so hard to remember, it came back to me: a Planning Board hearing over ten years ago.

It seemed that one of the least loved local developers had announced plans to build a giant corporate headquarters adjacent to a housing subdivision, mostly split-level houses on quarter acre lots that he had put up a few years earlier. The proposal required a fairly substantial zone change and, as expected, the neighbors, mostly hard working, first time homeowners, objected, They were quick to recognize that the new proposal with its lights and traffic, would be detrimental to their interests and they packed the meeting room to make sure it didn’t happen.

The incident I remembered was when a rather unprepossessing and nervous neighbor got up to voice his objections. He had had problems with the developer who, it seemed, had a reputation for not following through on promises. The homeowner haltingly related how he had invited him (the man now proposing the corporate “park”) into his house to see the problems he was having with the property he had just purchased. He recalled that when he outlined his complaints, the builder (the same one seeking the zone change) turned on him, yelling: (shades of Donald Trump) “There are winners in life and there are losers and I am a winner and you are a loser!” When he quoted this to the Planning Board, the audience, (obviously, also “losers”) began to hiss, filling the whole room with their resentment. In a rare show of public concern, the Planning Board denied the application, one of the few times in Stamford zoning history that justice actually triumphed. The developer’s remark: “There are winners in life and there are losers, and I’m a winner” may have killed the deal. My Trump-like character came back a year or so later with a proposal for luxury condos and, while he didn’t make out as well as he would have with corporate headquarters, he cried, as they say, all the way to the bank. And of course, the “losers” loved having million dollar homes adjacent to their humble abodes.

There’s an ironic coda to this story. I recently ran into the s.o.b. at the local health center. He was being pushed in a wheel chair, dried up and angry looking.  I guess it doesn’t matter how many people you screw, there are no winners or losers in the end.


  1. I have no objection to Satire, political or otherwise, & I am seldom,if ever,offended by it....charge ahead ! DGP

  2. Renee,
    Your blog was the first thing I read this morning when I woke up to get ready for a long day of grinding studio work. I think the question you ask about satirical art vs. bullying is an important one to consider.
    I'm, of course, on the side of the artist but after focusing my I'm able to put to words why...
    Satire, when it is done well, is a layered commentary on a person or situation. Satire is something that should be quickly taken in and have an immediate impact, but then have a depth that allows for a slow absorption and desire to approach the subject again and again.
    Satire such as your work, does exactly this. It presents us with an initial image that makes a visual impact, which on the surface may seem repulsive, torrid, cheap... what have you. But then there is always something under it, something that pulls the viewer in to explore the subject a little more. And that's where a viewer can find these layers of truth that can actually add sublet complexities (including beauty).
    Satire is something that draws us in past the initial revulsion and reflects back to us a deeper insight of who we are.
    The bully, on the other hand, lacks the layers. The bully is exactly what the word implies... their a sucker punch, a mean name, a underserved attack. You are never drawn in to ponder a bully, you're only left reeling in pain and wondering why.
    This distinction is precisely why the role of the artist and satire are so important because the artist, through use of satire, can take on the bully. The artist can point out the ugly under the surface and reveal the truth.
    Conversely, the artist can also depict a bully's victims and reveal the beauty, strength and humanity hidden under the surface.
    I cannot think of a better use for satire than to take on the bully... to defend the rest of us.... to be our hero. To remind us that we share a common bond and unite us, and that... well that bond no longer makes us losers.