A New Mural In Silverlake Raises A Controversy

Written by | June 6, 2016 5:30 am | one response




A new mural to honor a few artists from Los Angeles popped up in my close neighborhood a few days ago, and I was really happy to see Elliott Smith portrayed big and smiling on a street of his old district, Silverlake.

The street artist is Jonas Never, at least this is the name he uses on social media, and according to his website, he has painted a few murals around town.

At Elliott Smith’s side, Never had represented the Silversun Pickups, a band which was named after Silversun liquor store located across the street of the mural, and Eagles of Death Metal, fronted by Jesse Hughes.

The mural was not totally completed, and I visited it a few times the past few days, admiring the progression, but when I drove by it last Friday, I got the surprise to see that Jesse Hugues and Joshua Homme were gone, replaced by a sketch of Beck’s face. Beck is certainly another very noticeable LA musician, but what could have happened? Had Never suddenly changed his mind? Not exactly, as he explained on his instagram account:

‘Just got word from the landlord that they’re gonna paint over the wall if I leave @eodmofficial on the mural… I know when to fold so even though I’m bummed I’ve gotta change it. If anyone has a nice visible wall for a mural of them somewhere that makes sense (Silver Lake, the desert, Venice) let me know … And I promise Dave Catching will be on it’

This has probably everything to do with the polemic around Hugues’ last interviews after the Bataclan massacre during EODM’s concert in Paris last November. He first declared that the security staff at Paris’ Bataclan had prior knowledge of the attack, and he blamed the French government’s strict gun-control laws for the carnage. He then apologized, blaming the trauma he went through, and the post-traumatic stress disorder he had suffered since the attack, but reiterated all this and more during another interview. His band was even dropped from two French music festivals this summer, especially because of the anti-Muslim comments he made in the above interview… stuff like ‘Of course not. When you’re at a soccer game in Europe and you see the words “United Arab Emirates,” you know there is a lot of Arab money floating around and influencing the dialogue. The conversation is constantly being steered away from scrutiny. They think we’re fools. Arab money is a pollutant. So many movies are made with Arab money. George Clooney doesn’t kiss the ass of the Arabs for no reason. American movies are the best way to influence the hearts and minds of the world.’… And…  ‘A day after, at the stadium, Muslims booed the moment of silence and we barely heard about it in the press. I saw Muslims celebrating in the street during the attack. I saw it with my own eyes. In real time! How did they know what was going on? There must have been coordination.’

Hughes is certainly a very conservative guy, he is pro-gun and very religious, he is an anti-evolutionist and a climate change denier, he basically shares none of my political and social opinions, and he even ignores scientific facts, which is even more serious. But he is an artist, he chose to make music to entertain people and he is apparently good at it. It was Jonas Never’s first intention to represent Jesse Hughes, I guess because he is a EODM fan, and we have to question censorship and wonder about the eternal dilemma: how can we separate the art from the artist? So many artists and musicians have said or even done reprehensible to criminal things, should we stop listening to John Lennon because he was a wife beater? David Bowie and Jimmy Page because they took advantage or even raped under-aged girls?,… which rock stars didn’t do it should I rather ask, Should we stop celebrating Elia Kazan because he helped to blacklist several communist actors and should we stop watching Woody Allen’s movies because he is an alleged child molester,… like Michael Jackson? Things are just infinitively more visible today because of the abundance and omnipresence of social media, but what’s the difference?

Beck will replace Jesse Hughes on the murals, but wait a minute? Isn’t Beck a scientologist and isn’t this religious cult highly controversial?

As for the French festivals which canceled EODM’s performances, I wonder how many would be ready to book Bertrand Cantat’s new band? The French musician, ex-frontman of French band Noir Désir, murdered his girlfriend Marie Trintignant (daughter of actor Jean Louis Trintignant) in 2003, after inflicted her 19 blows in the head. He was convicted, spent 4 years in jail (half of his sentence), but he now has a new career, two albums with a new band, Détroit, which is successful and is booked all over the place as their Facebook page shows. For the record, Cantat’s ex-wife Krisztina Rády committed suicide in 2010, after complaining of mental and physical abuse by Cantat. All is forgotten, all is forgiven, it’s clear this guy is a piece of shit, and may be murder is where I draw the line when it comes to separate art from the artist.



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One Response to “A New Mural In Silverlake Raises A Controversy”

  1. torpedo

    I appreciate this post very much. And I think it’s essential to separate someone’s work from their private life — not just artists, but everyone really. No one is infallible and to demand sainthood as a qualifier for having a voice is absurd, absolutist, puritanical and, ultimately, hugely destructive to culture. Obviously, artists, in particular, tend to have more tumultuous personal lives and erratic personalities than the average mail carrier. Most mailmen are not Charles Bukowski and they’re neither writing books nor writing books anyone would be inspired by reading. It’s nice, of course, when you find out you share a philosophy or cause with an artist whose work you admire or when you meet them and they’re not a total asshole, but it’s beside the point. Someone can like Charles Manson’s music, and I’m sure someone does, without condoning his masterminding a murderous cult. The private and the public have been eroded by the cultural celebration of mediocrity, as ushered in Reality TV and paint-by-the-numbers music and film producers. That shift from organic artistry to corporate packaging of lowest common denominator entertainment, rather than art, was a bottom line business decision to sacrifice quality for profits. And unless/until people start demanding art and valuing their own privacy first, it’s a race to the bottom where the only ‘literature’ ethically worthy of being read will be your (vegan) mailman’s grocery list.


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