I'm happy to report that I am about 98% complete with my MFA and have been completely engulfed by the flames of too many things going on at once. First off, during the winter break I went to my hometown, the booming metropolis of Blythe, California and did some visual research. I took about 1,000 depressing photos of my dilapidated hometown and didn't even have to try to make it look any sadder than it already is. See images below and be thankful you don't live there (or be motivated to leave if you do). Also, for you anti-unnecessary war types, I recommend War is a Force that gives us Meaning by Chris Hedges or Militainment Inc. by Roger Stahl. Very enlightening and powerful books, to say the least.
As thesis approaches I have been busy building my exit show which will be entitled "Embrace the Suck" an homage to all things that are unpleasant but dealt with and turned, if even perversely, enjoyable.