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Claes Oldenburg’s Torn Notebook

Another example of “Pretentious City Pretend Art” is Claes Oldenburg’s Torn Notebook currently found marring the campus of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Claes Oldenburg created some magnificent and provocative pieces of art over his career but Torn Notebook is not one of them. I have felt that way from the moment the monstrosity was first described in the local Lincoln newspaper many years ago.

Here’s why: The good people of Nebraska have an identity crises.

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Tom Boellstorff

Tom Boellstorff is a good friend of mine from Nebraska and as long as I have known him he has been the living embodiment of SuperGenius.

Tom and I met when he was in high school senior and I was in my final university year. Tom wrote original music for many of my projects and his melodies and work ethic were incredibly valuable to the success of the project.

Part of Tom’s SuperGenius grew from musical composition and that training in leitmotivs and intricate chord structure translated into an adult love for scholarship at the Ph.D. level. Tom is currently an assistant professor of anthropology at the University of California, Irvine where his scholarly work inspires people across the world.

Speaking in Queer Tongues is a great book published by the University of Illinois Press and Tom is one of the book’s editors. Chapter 7, “Authentic, of Course!”: Gay Language in Indonesia and Cultures of Belonging was written by Tom and he kicks off the chapter with this rich description:
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