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August 13, 2007

Hinterland Diary

John Stoehr

Just what you'd expect from an artist, right? . . .

According to a column in Sunday's Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, a local art teacher named Jaison Biagini lost his job after winning a radio contest. The contest was hosted by the satellite radio program called "Bubba the Love Sponge," whose host apparently enjoys spraying carburetor cleaner on penises (I'm just repeating what I've read). Biagini's prize was a trip to Tampa, where, as an artist and teacher of art he naturally wanted to visit the Salvadore Dali Museum. What got him in trouble though was his escort: a woman named Akira, an online porn actress.

The oh-so-clever columnist, Eric Heyl:

For an online hussy, Akira certainly has varied interests. Visit her site (Google it yourself, this is a family newspaper), and you'll discover there is more to her personality than all the bawdy stuff.

"My favorite things in life are weed, the Internet, getting naked and just being downright bad," she states on the site. There. Doesn't that fracture the stereotype of the typical adult Internet starlet?

Monessen Superintendent Cynthia Chelen acknowledged Friday that district officials "received feedback" from the community regarding Biagini's less-than-lurid encounter with Akira, portions of which were broadcast on Bubba's show.

Some people apparently felt it wasn't appropriate for a high school teacher to keep such company."

All this sounds pretty funny until we learn more about Biagini.

In a brief interview, Biagini, confined to a wheelchair after an accident several years ago, denied he was forced out. He said he has contemplated retirement for two years.

Asked why he is leaving now, after 14 years with the district, he said, "I have severe arthritis in my shoulders. My range of motion is limited. I thought it might get better over the summer, but it hasn't."

And then this, the pithy and downright mean-spirited ending:

Despite Biagini's explanation, you can't help wondering if he would still be teaching had he preferred the work of someone other than Dali.

The outcome might have been decidedly different, had he just gone to the Andy Warhol Museum [located in Pittsburgh].

Man can't walk. Dude's riddled with disease. Likely his dick don't work. But ridiculing him publicly is OK. He brought it on himself for wanting companionship and the feeling of being wanted by an attractive woman who presumably gave him her undivided attention.

Getting fired doesn't inspire in the columnist any sense of injustice either. For what reason. This is just the kind of degenerate bohemian godless hippie shit you'd expect from some kind of degenerate bohemian godless hippie artist. We don't care if he'd crippled, endures chronic pain, suffers from crushing loneliness, depression and despair. Weirdos deserve what they get.

Such is the kind of understanding of the arts we face here in the American Outback.

Posted by John Stoehr at August 13, 2007 9:43 AM


What a Jerkwad. Somebody ought to put that guy in a chair for a week or two.

Posted by: floydz at August 13, 2007 1:58 PM


There's more here than meets the eye, and Heyl is clearly a satirist.

On the other hand, Mr. Biagini's victim status is not a free pass to flout the conditions of his employment, which may have reasonably included a "morals" clause.

I've found that it's most often artists who give artists a bad name by being unwilling or incapable of behaving in minimally civilized ways, and I'm not talking about which art museum to visit. And neither, apparently, is Mr. Heyl.

"Understanding the arts" is not synonymous with "giving artists unlimited behavioral latitude simply because they demand it."

If people don't "understand the arts," whose fault is that? And who do you think should help them?

Posted by: Terbreugghen at August 14, 2007 5:59 AM