Saturday, April 24, 2010

Revenge of the Bureaucrats

More than once in my life I've been thwarted by bureaucracy. Did you know signing your car title in the wrong spot can send your life into a three week holding pattern? Yeah, I learned that at 21. How about inadvertently missing a deadline submitting paperwork for a teaching license? It could cost you for the rest of your retirement, as a young colleague of mine found out this year.
For as much as our society needs checks and balances-- it seems in certain circles the checks are overwhelming the balance. Architectural projects, especially commercial structures, certainly need guidelines, both local and state, otherwise we can only imagine the unsafe and oversized structures people would slap together. On the other hand, when overzealous regulations become a means to crush projects, burdening small businesses and homeowners with bureaucratic regulations that were initially in place to protect them, we have to re-evaluate the spirit of building guidelines.
In that light, I sat with my sketchbook last night to ponder how one could satirize bureaucracy run amok. James had played with the topic while in graduate school, writing a play entitled 'Ed's Vacation', where the main character's job was to sort vast amounts of colored paper, only to have it dumped into the same bin. I chose a 'Dilbert' inspired cartoon format-- wondering if there is a market for tee-shirts and coffee mugs mocking bureaucracy. But then again, there's probably a release form I'd have to get notarized before I can even ask the question.

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