The more astute among you will have noticed a distinct ‘commercial’ aspect to The Cow in recent times, what with the adding of the Tetherd Cow Ahead Gift Shoppe and my nauseating pleading, at every opportunity, for you to buy my fine wares. I want to assure you all that this is not a prelude to Tetherd Cow Ahead franchises opening up in your street, but is part of an experiment I’m conducting to see if there’s any relatively non-intrusive way to have the considerable time and effort I put into The Cow make any kind of headway in ‘earning-real-money’.

Tetherd Cow Ahead is not, and was never, designed as a money-making enterprise, and in all truth, I don’t really care if it ever pays its way – it’s a great diversion for me, and a terrific way to interact with my many friends, both from real life and from teh intertubes.

But as we hobble into a new era of artistic creation, a big shakedown of the status quo is occurring, and as an artist it is affecting me. There is no longer any question that my former avenues of income are starting to show some signs of wear and tear. It is obvious that new things must occur, but unlike most of the rest of the artistic world I’m not content to sit on my ass and moan about how much better it was in the old times. The new landscape interests me, and I’d like to see what it has to offer.

I don’t really have a clue where the new avenues for earning a living as an artist might be. I don’t like the idea that everything is fuelled by impersonal and anonymous advertising – it annoys the crap out of me – so I have never bought into the Google Ads-style concept, where a web page supports advertising material in return for some kind of kickback. My personal belief is that such an idea is eventually doomed to extinction as people become sick of the constant wash of advertising that floods through their lives.1 My philosophy has always been (in the old media and the new) that I’d rather pay a few cents out of my own pocket to have my entertainment unencumbered by unrelated, meaningless and usually tasteless distractions. I hope you feel the same way.

To this end, I’m putting some experiments in place. None of these things will (I hope) make much material difference to The Cow – you will still be able to do as you please and go where you will and say what you want. As usual I will not censor The Cow2 except in the most extreme of cases.3 I don’t want you to change any of your usual habits,4 nor do I want anyone to feel that they are in any way obligated to donate to The Cow – your time here is valued by me more than any monetary reward, and I’d give up any whim of earning a few dollars well before I’d turn you away.

Treat The Cow as you might a busker, or indeed, a religion.5 If I make something that particularly amuses you, or write something that gives salve to your soul, drop a coin in the Collection Plate (over in the side bar there).6 And if you should find you actually need a new coffee mug, or a t-shirt, consider a Cow alternative to the cheap trash that you were going to buy from Walmart.

There is some lengthy philosophizing on this stuff coming,7 but I would like to know your thoughts. Not just about how this might be relevant to Tetherd Cow, but on how you view the whole new landscape in general. What do you think of what you see on the web in the way of entertainment and art? Do you pinch music? Would you pay if it was a few cents? How about news – will you pay when Rupert Murdoch tries to charge you for the privilege of reading his half-baked excuses for journalism? If not, why not? We are constantly berated by the movie studios and the record companies who want us to believe that ‘pirating’ their goods affects the livelihoods of their artists – do you believe them? Do you think these kinds of tactics work? Is there a better way?

The 5th Birthday of Tetherd Cow Ahead has just passed. Don’t worry if you didn’t notice – I missed it myself. But I look back and to me, at least, it’s a pretty magnificent achievement. Possibly the biggest, most comprehensive, most elaborate and meaningful artwork I’ve ever done. It’s not my day job, but in a strange kind of way, it’s my life’s work. Vanity leads me to think that this effort should at least pay its way. Maybe that’s a misguided notion, but I’d feel remiss if I didn’t at least explore the possibility.

Off you go now. Have fun! The Cow, as always, salutes you!

  1. I may be wrong on that score, but it certainly is a big turn off for me to visit websites that constantly assault me with ads. []
  2. Well, except when I make egregious boo-boos of grammar, fact or spelling. I reserve the right to fix those things in order to maintain the illusion that I am an uber-genius. []
  3. I have, in the past, removed material that was highly offensive from the Comments on some posts. This is necessarily a subjective decision on my part, but I think you know that I am liberal enough that any such material must be pretty awful. []
  4. Well, except for Malach, I guess. We’d all like to see him change some of his usual habits []
  5. I’m speaking in the generous sense here – I don’t want any spitting or profanity []
  6. The Collection Plate costs you nothing in actual monetary terms. It is just a measuring device. But, for the sake of the experiment, pretend that you’re throwing in a few cents. []
  7. I heard that groan Polanski! []