B Rant: Nepotism Part 1 of N

by Brantly Martin

illustrator Daniel Egnéus



  B = me 
Rant = declaim violently and with little sense; rave 


One of the frustrations of floating through Coke-or-Pepsi land is admitting that the C-o-P mentality wasn't/isn't just market-driven but digitally-predictive and spreading through well strategized narrow programming. In a short summary of the years 1995 – 2005 in last week's New Yorker, Hendrik Hertzberg writes: “The attacks of 9/11 were not the only event that cleaved the decade in two. The election of 2000, when a one-vote majority of the Supreme Court nullified a half-million-vote majority of the electorate, was another. Its doleful consequences—in Iraq and elsewhere—magnified 9/11's, and reverberate to the present day.” 

First off, the Supreme Court did not nullify the half-million popular vote advantage for Albert Gore. The method by which we elect the US President—the Electoral College—nullified the popular vote advantage. The real factor deciding that election was “competing” Nepotism and the varied lengths of its acid-rain-tentacles: one reached further into both Florida and the Supreme Court; one had the old man role played by a former CIA Director/VP/President and the brother role played by the Governor of the state holding the cards; one only had the old man role played by a former Senator. But Hertzberg's last sentence (“Its doleful consequences—in Iraq and elsewhere—magnified 9/11's, and reverberate to the present day.”) is about as Coke-or-Pepsi really is a choice! propaganda as it gets. You really (really) think Gore would not have toed the line and invaded the same countries? I guess Hillary wouldn't have either—oh wait, she voted for the whole Iraq thing. (A strategic mistake even the Clintons couldn't overcome in the primary—but barely.)  

Keep propagating False Choice amico: Der be some big bidness in dat racket. 


Speaking of Nepotism—and with a Clinton vs. Bush presidential “choice” around the corner, why not?—it's interesting that one criterion of succeeding in New York City as what is now (quite paradoxically) called a “creative” has aligned with national politics. The  suburbanization of the city—even more than gentrification—along with the takeover by social media plays the biggest part. These two slices of America are evolving-via-algorithm to a perhaps irreversible state of locked-in-frontrunnerism.   


There is—and has been, as I see it, for about a decade—a tacit advertisement broadcast from this binary slice of downtown NYC into the world. It goes something like this: Are you the son/daughter or grandson/granddaughter of someone famous? If so, you're in luck! Come to New York and select one of the following boxes: DJ, Photographer—"Artist"—Actor, Actress, Model, Art Director. You are too obvious to fail! Just show up and play the role! One could argue it was always that way, but without going into the rabbit hole of “back in the day,” I disagree. 

(One could also argue that America really has a “volunteer army.” I've never stepped foot inside a pricey private school for teenagers, but I hear military recruiters don't have quite the same presence there as elsewhere.)

The similar absurdities of the Nepotized and frontrunner-baptized “artist”-slash-whatever in New York and the Nepotized and frontrunner-baptized American national-office-seeking politician leaves me unsure but pondering the possibility of this being an in-plain-sight experiment of what The Powers That Be can get away with. While I doubt “the next Karl Rove” is actively involved in the incestuous doings of which son/daughter gets plugged into the too-obvious-to-fail formulaic machinery of the fashion-"art" slice of Nepotism, I bet they're paying close attention. How far has the line been pushed? What can we get away with? Specifically, I'm thinking of "legitimacy" being able to drift


George W. Bush was an almost inconceivable combo-platter of Coke-or-Pepsi and Nepotism. How many other cats will we see run for president whose dad was president and—you know, if it comes to it—appointed Clarence Thomas to sort out any vote-counting issues. Oh yeah: Jeb. But wait, then wouldn't it be—isn't it only—fair to have Hillary, with her husband's two Supreme Court appointees, on the opposite side? 

Rrright ... 

Don't those two have a patriotic duty not to run for anything. 

If this Bush/Clinton shitshow-in-plain-sight plays out, the American Presidents since I was eleven: Father … (skip) ...  Son … (skip) ...  Son/Brother/Wife. At that point it would be only logical to point out that the American Oligarchy has expanded from behind-the-scenes financiers to include the front of the house. This acceptance of manufactured royalty is vile. 


But because they are able to fit into the fundraising machinery better than others, they will continue to do so. I don't know about you but that elastic term tossed around so much—UNAMERICAN—seems to finally have a fit here. Then again, through another (modern) lens, maybe nothing is more American? 

It's enough to drive one insane: to the point of enjoying sports again. I mean ... if James Harden breaks someone's ankles and hits a step-back three, that really happened. (Right?) The thing that the New York-arrived-“artist” and the national-American-politician waves of Nepotism have most in common—their school-of-migratory-fish guiding groupthink—is the ability to avoid the quantifiable. Other, that is, than the ability to be in the center of the dance floor of Disco Global when it starts "raining" money and still, somehow, not look like a stripper. 

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Nepotism (nepos/nepote = nephew), as you may know, is originally an Italian thing. More specifically, a Papal thing. The Popes “couldn't” (always one of my favorite reverse-wormhole-phrases of our language: “Joey, you can't do that”: but Joey just did that) have kids. But they did. Those sons were “nephews”—as were their actual nepoti. That could be more than a few dudes to sort out: Cardinals, Bishops, land grabs, whatever. (Daughters and nieces: ehhh, maybe a less awful marriage for you.) 

This nepotistic common-law-of-thought is alive and unapologetically well in its mother—sorry: father—land. As we say in New York: “It is what it is.” There is nothing Machiavellian about it. A typical experience I had while living in Italy—and after taking the train from Rome to the holographic slum of “modernity” that is Milan—goes something like this: “Hi Brantly. We can no longer work with you. We have to give that budget to the grandniece of _______.” (Unlike some of those Popes, most of these _______s have no kids.)  So straightforward, matter-of-fact, business-as-usual that one almost respects it. At least when that one is a straniero like me. 

Italy is becoming very old, very fast. One reason: there is an inherent distrust of youth. Even the word young has an interesting interpretation. I attended a photo exhibition a few years ago called “Young Italian Photographers”: the criteria for young appeared to be under 60. To be President of Italy one must be 50 or older (in the US it's 35). There is a mass exodus from Italy of the young and talented. Of course, not everyone is financially able to do that. Which is why many talented Romans I know have a different way of interpreting “The Eternal City.”  

Sticking to the “art”-fashion-“creative” (fashion survives the need for BS quotes in the light of admitting to what it is: a business) triumvirate ...  To the forces of Nepotism and the mistrust of youth, add the fear of all Nuovi Milanese—being called provinciale. I'll say this: when you bow down to American Consumerism and allow it to eradicate dialects, water down “Made in Italy” and choose between the Nepotistic or the established-and-foreign you are genetically modifying the Golden Goose. Since you're locked-in to cherry-picking the worst of Americana, try this mantra when deciding whom to bring into your system: BUY LOCAL. 


As Nepotistic Drift spreads here in New York and becomes an open laboratory for future doings in Washington D.C. and, consequently, whom will be the next spokesmodel for America, remember: 

If you pay a son/daughter of someone famous a few thousand bucks to DJ (stand behind an iPad) at some corporate event: You are Dick Cheney.

If your business model is giving free services to sons/daughters of the famous to cash in later: You are Donald Rumsfeld.

If you agree to shove propaganda down our social-media-throats and profit from a talentless (“visual artist”) son/daughter of someone famous: You are Selling Us on WMD.

If you do all these things and more but tell yourself I'm different: You are Hillary Clinton. 

And if you are the son/daughter of someone famous and come to New York to pass yourself off as an (“artist”) thanks to American Nepotistic Drift: You are George W. Bush.

Own it.


Almost all of those qualifying as an above You would call themselves Democrats (and live in New York or Los Angeles)—especially during the Presidential election years. It would be social and sometimes financial suicide for them not to “be a Democrat.” In other slices of America it can be social and sometimes financial suicide not to “be a Republican.” In some slices of America it would be social and sometimes financial suicide to “believe in God.” In some slices of America it would be social and sometimes financial suicide to “not believe in God.” If you work for Coca-Cola you wouldn't bring a can of Pepsi to work. Obvious, I know, but always a reality worth repeating and owning. 


But how can one own it if they are unaware? Too true. Some of the best narcotics smugglers are those unaware they are smuggling anything. Prior to the US/Mexico border becoming militarized and too scary a zone for middle-class American family road trips, one of the methods of drug smugglers was loading up—unbeknownst to the Leave it to Beaver middle-class family of four—a road-tripping RV headed back to Texas/Arizona/New Mexico/California. If they were stopped at a checkpoint and asked outright, “Are you bringing anything illegal in the US,” they could convincingly answer “No.” Same shit here.


We should try this with the 100 meter dash: “Listen Usain Bolt, we need to talk. This whole 'World's Fastest Man' thing, it's a no go, pal. Social media, frontrunnerism, ease of programming tells us otherwise. What's that? Sure, you can still race to determine who's the fastest. But this lot is starting 10 meters from the finish line. I know, I know Usain: but it's just track and field. Relax! What's that, no one will believe it? Oh we have a great way of framing the conversation.” 

Or heart surgery: “Listen Joey, this is a complicated procedure. If everything goes perfectly you got a 50/50 shot at survival. I have a list here of some sons/daughters of famous people. According to their PR companies, agents, other sons/daughters and social media they are the top heart surgeons in America. They can really raise money! Good luck dude!” 


Record companies used to pay radio stations to put their songs in heavy rotation. (Sometimes, they just “paid a visit.”) The strategy was pretty straight forward: shove something down people's throats, over and over again, and they had no choice but to “like” it and assume everyone else “likes” it—if the song is played every hour on the hour (and “cosigned” by a big radio station) it must be good!—all while popular and vacuous human puppets were created. Brainwashing the masses to “like” something was happening on one level while on another the higher-ups were, literally, buying “likes.”  Creating popular personas through the methods of False Choice and the Ignorant Smuggler (the record company's “artist”). Sound familiar? 

Bob Dylan recently told AARP The Magazine that he thought there was a conspiracy to destroy early rock & roll: “There must have been some elitist power that had to get rid of all these guys, to strike down rock 'n' roll for what it was and what it represented—not least of all it being a black-and-white thing. Tied together and welded shut. If you separate the pieces, you're killing it.”

Dylan goes on: “When they finally recognized what it was, they had to dismantle it, which they did, starting with payola scandals and things like that. The black element was turned into soul music and the white element was turned into English pop. They separated it.”

American Nepotistic Drift—powered by technology (and strategic co-signing), frontrunnerism, and the suburbanization of New York—is a more efficient and cost effective way to deliver payola. There is no need to hire a songwriter, studio musicians, PR company or force the song down the throats of the masses. The systems are already in place: social media, frontrunnerism and the masses willingness to suck down and swallow as legitimate any nonsensical output from the son/daughter/brother/wife of ______. 

Amici: this is an LSD-laced version of Great Expectations. You are locked-in to a bad trip.

One more from the Dylan interview: “The corporations have taken over. Even in the recording studio. Actually, the corporate companies have taken over American life most everywhere. Go coast to coast and you will see people all wearing the same clothes, thinking the same thoughts and eating the same food. Everything is processed.” 

“Payola” and “processed.” Got it.

Don't you think it's convenient that the Supreme Court dictated to We Americans (and, of course, the world) that “corporations are people” just as the masses were becoming accustomed to hearing those benefiting from Nepotism (and some bought-and-paid-for pop stars and athletes) repeating over and over as if hypnotized: “I'm working on my brand [corporation].” 

And on the national American political level? It is Payola. Only now—after Citizens United—a more pure and overt version. Perhaps even a more honest version: similar to the forces behind Coke-or-Pepsi becoming the faces of Coke-or-Pepsi. 


Why does this relatively new slice of American insanity have me so heated—do I really (really) think that some more shit ad campaigns, ill-curated music and “art” tossed into the NYC driven digiverse is leading to World's End? Maybe. Depends on the weight given to the new breed of co-signers (heavier every day) and the ability of their avatars to self-replicate (duh) and the insanity of others' avatars to “like” (double duh) and (senza quotes) Follow (duhfuckingduh). 


I've had many “business meetings” that go something like this:

I meet in the lobby of a fancy NYC hotel with someone who contacted me about their new website/app thing. We order coffee or whatever and get down to it.

Someone: We've already signed up _____, _____ and _____.

Me: So you're going the Nepotism-as-business-model route?

Someone: Absolutely.


In the very least, we've entered a drastic period of micro-"real world"-writ-large-digitally experimentation being signed off on and observed by TPTB who weigh this version of (increasingly Visual) out in the open sins with past versions: The Birth of a Nation being shown at the White House, the British football team saluting Hitler, the US government admitting to infecting its citizens with diseases and sterilizing others. 

TPTB: How will THEY respond? By the time THEY respond  will it be part of OUR collective past. (Too late now.)

Just as AppGoogAzonBook was the laboratory developing the tools to spy on everyone—while at the same time making spying on everyone pointless because who needs to spy on recent behavior when you can control future behavior—so has this NYC wave of Nepotism been the laboratory for how far can we take this piss-take. What was “behind” the scenes is step-by-step casting itself in “the scenes.” 

OBEY and HOPE are just two different points along the same finite line in the sand. 


Tom Wolfe wrote about the rise of “hands-free art”: “art” sold by and credited to an “artist” that never touched said “art.” Next will be “thought-free art”: the American Nepotistic Drift version of drone bombings. Think: a pregnant daughter tapping into the brain waves from her womb while another son/daughter “interprets” them, shits them out, and SELLS IT TO YOU. 

Give me a W! Give me a JED! Give me a Hill-A-Ry!


If you write fiction and have a disposition that seeks out the satirical and the sci-fi, you might have struck oil. Get the novel out before you're invaded. 


This is a mind grab, not a land grab. 

If you have a business and keep it in the family and pass it along to the kids: great. If you make a boatload of loot that your kids inherit: great. More of both sounds great. We should abolish the inheritance tax. Sounds American. 

American Nepotistic Drift unfolding in New York is a different thing: a new form of participatory hypnotization enforced from above. 


The Ray Rice case last year spelled the whole thing out in clear Visual (the emerging lingua franca of the world, surpassing English). 

Rice is an NFL player. He punched and kicked his fiancee—now his wife—in a casino elevator. The facts of the case came out, but no video. He was suspended for two games. Then . . . the video came out. The facts remained the same but the outrage was much much greater. The NFL increased the suspension to a full season. Which is more hypocritical: the increased level of  “public outrage” or the NFL's increased suspension? Neither, they both responded to the language of the masses. 

In an odd way, how this played out is encouraging. Instructive. If the truth is out there via prose … temper expectations and look for a damn video. Imagine if a few super slow-motion HD videos—the sort they run during World Cup—showing families, women, children being torn to pieces by a drone came out. There would either be a conversation about US drone policy or there would be a push by some puppet to inform everyone how easily images (moving or otherwise) can be manipulated. That would be ironic.

But what to do when the only thing driving a brainwash—as is the case with NYC Nepotism—is well-crafted Visual. Where is the fact-enforcing next level of “revealing” (what is already known), a la the Ray Rice video? It may not exist. We may be locked-in. 

Even so, we must RESIST. 


I'm pasting in a "PR email" below that I received a while ago. It sums up how in-plain-fucking-sight and absurd the industry of Nepotism has become here in ol NYC. If your son/daughter can tap into the formula and make it HERE, they can tap into the formula and make it ANYWHERE!

I took away the names and added blanks because it's not about this or that person: it's a formula and the names are the variables chosen from a growing pool of givens. I see PR hits—and “journalism”— like this all the time. 

Amici: someone got paid for this shit. If you're going the propaganda-via-Nepotism route at least hire a poet.

This is programming. This is the old man sitting across the desk asking you to sit below him. This is everything America wasn't supposed to be.

It's also funny as shit. 


______ may not carry her mother ______’s surname yet she’s clearly inherited her family’s musical sensibility. Her confidently weary voice, magnetic melodies and autobiographical songwriting come together on her heavenly debut full-length album.

Having been around the arts her entire life, perhaps her pursuit of a musical career shouldn’t really come as too much of a surprise. And besides, ______ has excelled at mostly everything else she’s tackled including acting and modeling.

Yet it may have been her surrounding peers who inspired her to explore her abilities and set her on a course to challenge herself further. The approving gaze of her producer ______ may have been all that was required to encourage her leap of faith to craft a beautiful, sweeping array of songs, delivered with a gentle intensity. ______ (______, ______, ______) lent his prowess to mix the album and collectively, they churned out a finished product that reveals great potential for this newcomer. Taking cues from ______ and ______, she weaves through her melodies with an elegance she inherently possesses.

______ was brought into this world as the daughter of iconic English singer ______, cited as French pop luminary ______’s greatest muse. ______ shared ______’s life for many years and gave birth to ______’s half-sister, singer/actress ______. Meanwhile, ______’s father, ______, is known as one of the greatest French indie movie directors, having an extensive repertoire of quality films about childhood and family drama, with a rare sense of realism. This cinema gene was passed on to his daughter who wields an impressive film career all her own, with notable acting roles directed by the likes of ______ and ______. With this much talent surging through a family it is possible ______’s path was predetermined.


It’s known that TPTB—specifically the CIA and a few “collectors”—helped legitimize and propagate modern art during the Cold War for the insidious purpose of bringing supposed intellectuals and artists—whom might have otherwise “leaned commie”—under their spell. This was a genius tactic: on one side you had the House Committee on Un-American Activities, on the other side you had Abstract Expressionism exploding and showing anyone on the ideological fence how free American art was.

Ignorant Smugglers galore. 

I’m not sure if this current wave of New York City Nepotism is as planned as the “long leash” doings of the Cold War. It might be more an expected inevitability to be managed—like managing the data we freely give TPTB to spy on us while they program us. 

I haven’t seen statistics breaking down what (we still call) a “phone” is used for these days. When you engage your “phone”: what percentage of the time are you making or receiving a call? Ten percent? One percent? What percentage is texting, internet, apps? How many user agreements have you “signed” (tapped)? How many user agreements have you read?

A rose may be a rose but a phone ain’t a phone. This is Grandfathered in Orwellian

We have a linear progression from creating bullshit terms to turning legitimate terms into bullshit: Department of Defense, Intelligence Agency: Phone, Art. A linear progression of—albeit low level and insidious—lingo-creativity to fool the masses into out-and-out linguistic usurpation. 

A linear progression from the government wiretapping everyone from Martin Luther King to Ernest Hemingway to AppGoogAzonBook convincing the masses to allow them to do it for the government. 

A linear progression from the government funding modern art for national political purposes and the profit of a few “collectors” and Ignorant Smugglers to Nepotism-as-business-model funding modern art for national political purposes and the profit of a few “collectors” and Ignorant Smugglers. 

When TPTB tell us “We believe that private industry is more efficient than government bureaucracies” they are not joking. 

The last line of the above press release says it all: With this much talent surging through a family it is possible ______’s path was predetermined.

My America is not a fucking Debutante Ball. Yours?

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