Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Tear the Veil of Pallor; an Anarchist Speaking on Other "Anarchists"

Under the safe cover of holiday night, self-professed anarchists spray painted their sigil on buildings and broke windows. It was Christmas. The businesses were closed. People were away from their homes. The police presence was minimal. It was an easy crime. Cowardly vandalism committed when almost everybody was sure to have their attention cast elsewhere.
Locally owned businesses had their property, to a manageable but unfortunate extent, damaged. They were, on the large, "yuppy" establishments. I admit to having, at the time, found it funny that certain businesses were attacked. I, however, did not believe the acts were truly perpetrated by anarchists. I believed they were perpetrated by young people who could have just as well emblazoned the walls of these placed with black, spray-painted pentagrams. The encircled letter "A" meant nothing to me.
As time wore on, over the past few months, vandalism continued. Businesses were, once again, attacked and a low income housing facility had the message, "Wrong Neighborhood" spray painted on it. It was, later, discovered that the vandals believed it was a regular condo complex and did not understand they were vandalizing the homes of low income families. They thought, in all actuality, that every act of vandalism was one bearing an anti-gentrification message and agenda. They thought they were being anarchists.
I still, however, had my doubts.
Acts perpetrated on February 22nd, however, changed my feelings. An unfinished, unattended condominium was burned, in an act of arson. Three days later, letters began to arrive in the mailboxes of other tenants of the condominiums. This is that letter:

To the Tenants and Homeowners of East Hills Upscale Condominiums,

In the southeast corner of your suburbanite cul-de-sac, at approximately 4 a.m. February, 22nd, we, a group of anti-gentrification militants attacked an unfinished condominium. We placed 3 incendiary-devices throughout the first story of the household. This attack was not isolated , nor will it be the last. If you are holding this letter, you are a target. We announce with great volume our terms:

-The eviction /resignation of all lease-agreements in this cul-de-sac, and their occupants forced back into the suburbs.

-The immediate transition to low-income housing, both in this cul-de-sac, and in the surrounding East Hills area.

We are not peaceful. We are not willing to negotiate. You, your families and material possessions are at stake. Our demands are not implausible, and are expected to be carried out within a two-month period. Failure to comply will result in a multitude of repercussions, including, but no limited to: destruction of vehicles and houses, muggings, burglary, and kidnapping.


The Old Neighbors

Upon reading this letter, I became very upset.
I, as an anarchist or, at least, anarchy-sympathetic, am tired of living behind the pallored veil of stigma that comes with the label of my beliefs. I found a local news link that allowed comments to be left and I left this comment:

As an anarchistic-leaning individual, I've been getting increasingly upset with this case and the nature of the crimes. A true anarchist operates through means of subversion; living their life as true to their beliefs as possible, in the hopes that seeing this lifestyle work will help propagate its ideals.
The letters aren't letters... of anarchists. They are letters left by socialists who have chosen to live under the guise of anarchy because anarchy is a word that bears a lot more edge than socialism, Marxism or communism.
I know. I used to be a socialist. I used to be a Marxist. I used to think I was a communist.
I turned away from those ideas, when I realized the real problems weren't addressed by such systems that, really, just put political power under a different name and control in different boots.
There are many socialists who believe they are anarchists or, at least, wish to be perceived as such.
Anarchy and the way it has been stigmatized is synonymous with punk rock, edge and attitude.
These people are not anarchists. They are people who want attention.
I'm not saying they don't believe in something. I think that they at least believe they believe in something.
The escalation of these crimes, however, displays all the steps of a criminal profile: the steps of somebody who has been getting up the "courage" to do something big. Much in the way serial killers start by lighting fires and hurting animals.
I doubt they planned on making demands and issuing threats, when the fire was lit. I believe it was their first grand act and they didn't decide to assign their credible agenda to the act until they had fully experienced the satisfaction of having done it.
Although counter-gentrification is a big part of the anarchistic philosophy, government provisions are not. Not in the sense of what they're asking. Real anarchists would not demand low income housing be built. Real anarchists would find a way to provide such housing themselves. After all, real anarchy is about proving that life can be lived without government or corporate intervention. Anarchy doesn't vote, because it knows it can affect the issues that matter on its own, without a political advocate. Anarchy doesn't create laws to address problems, because it knows that laws change nothing. And, as I said, anarchy does not demand the government or corporate parties provide housing for the poor, because anarchy knows that this, if it matters that much, can be done without such aid.

I went forth to offer a possible solution to local anarchist, Ryan Cappalletti, who had been interviewed in the news story. I sent him a letter, suggesting that the local anarchist community become actively involved with the non-violent (but not pacifistic) interception of these parties and the active intervention against them.
This can be done in cooperation with the local and federal law enforcement officials. I am not against that, either. I think such an act could help repair and/or improve relations between the local anarchist community and those who hold it suspect. I, however, believe it would prove a larger point, if we were capable of doing this ourselves.

There is no conclusion to this blog post. There is no point. All I offer is that, if you are an anarchist in Grand Rapids, please contact me and, together, we can devise a way to affect change and stop these people from sullying our name and way of life.
If you are an anarchist and do not live in Grand Rapids, please think about what you do. Don't just plan or plot. FUCKING THINK. Think hard. Think about why you are the way you are and why you believe what you believe. Question yourself and the purity of your state of mind and allow the tenets of your beliefs to be reflected in your actions. Respect other anarchists as you wish the world would respect you. Hold their reputation with regard, whenever you act. After all, you do not represent yourself in the eyes of the world, just as nobody else represents you in your own eyes.
If you are an anarchist and somebody you know is going to perpetrate an act against the community, please stop them. And, although I believe in vigilantism, keep vigilantism out of it. You represent a belief to the world and you, with every action, run the risk of making the political realization of those beliefs even more impossible than they already are.
Quit being assholes, kids.
Drop out if you can't deal with it.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

My First Post In 5 Months: Part II - Joe Bob Briggs is My Dad

When I was young, I had little patience for stuff scholastic. I was a late bloomer, when it came to literacy, and I would have stayed behind, likely, were it not for comic books. Specifically, the X-Men book, in the years the titles were largely helmed by writer, Chris Claremont, and the young, vibrant artists; Marc Silvesteri and Jim Lee. The artists have, since, become obviously comfortable and their work lacks the luster and imagination it once had. Many have said the same of the writer. Then, however, was a different time. In the years between 1988 and 1990, I was exposed to some of the most ripping yarns I'd ever read and the stories, themselves, were informed by a visually artistic vision that operated so unanimously with the script that the end result was a kind of storytelling that was inseparable from motion pictures, in its unique and crystalline presentation. Movies, even before I had heard of the concept being explored and expressed by others, were practically the same as comic books and the two media were in a band apart from all other forms of storytelling. The correlation between the two gripped me and informed my dreams. I knew what I wanted to do. Regardless of what I told my elders, when asked what I wanted to “grow up to be” was, I wanted to make comics and I wanted to make movies. That was it and it was all there was, inside. I liked doing other things, but I didn't care about them, whenever what I came to know as visual storytelling was on my mind. I liked girls. I liked them a lot and continue to do so. I, however, never tried to secure myself a girlfriend through all of high school. I never went on a single date until I was twenty and I have yet to go on any date more than once.

While my body was too paralyzed by the difficulty of cracking-into the world of comics or movies, my mind was too captivated for anything else to matter that much. It continues to be. The prospect of a long term relationship is something frightening. How could something that requires so much time and devotion do anything but obscure the path to my own goals?

I'm 28 years old and I've been a lot closer to having a girlfriend than I have been to directing my own movie or publishing my own comic book, but the warmth of the sun is far more intense than that of the moon and I am more fixated on my goals than I ever have been.

Amid all of the comic books, I continued to watch movies. As comic books informed my tastes, it seemed the what I was reading and what I was watching became increasingly similar. I would pick comic books from the news stands, while finding whatever movies most resembled Godzilla, at the video rental store my mom worked in. Sure, in attempts to feel more adult, I read more self-proclaimed independent comics and saw more self-proclaimed independent movies, in my late teens and early twenties. I liked some of them, too. My forays into the intellectual stimulating realms of each medium, however, just left me more cynical towards authors and sensitive towards pretense.

What, it turns out, would be the style of storytelling I was most drawn to was the styles of storytelling that first attracted me to movies and comics in the first place.

Around the same time my mom stopped working at the local video rental place, as a second job, my dad started to make more money and we joined the suburban masses as cable television finally became something I could experience outside of Grandma's house. Fledgling stations, TBS and TNT showed almost nothing but low-budget monster, slasher, science fiction, western, mystery and other b-movies every night and weekend. By the time I was in junior high (middle-school, if you insist), Joe Bob Briggs' “Monstervision” was being broadcast every Saturday night on TNT. I would stay up late, in my room, with a blanket draped over my 13” TV/VCR so nobody could see the flickering blue light under my door at 3am. I simultaneously watched and taped the show, every week, so as to have archive copies of anything I happened to like. I liked a lot of it.

Joe Bob's show eventually went off the air and TNT began to slowly shift it's programming agenda to more “legitimate” domains. I never forgot his show, however. Even as I began to dip my toes into snobbier fare, I still looked back on his show with a pretty severe fondness.

As I explored the world of independent comics and film, almost ten years ago, I also found myself exploring other semi-obscurities. George A Romero, Sam Rami, Sergio Leone, John Landis, John Carpenter, George Miller and David Cronenberg began to become meaningful names to me. As time grew on, these people, especially Romero, became major influences on my storytelling style. From their movies, I also came to acquaintance with the works of many other directors who have inspired and encouraged me, my work and my style. Directors like John Waters, Frank Henenlotter, Dario Argento, Larry Cohen, Kathryn Bigelow, Stuart Gordon, James Gunn and many others.

These directors and their movies helped inform my taste and my vision. The stories I write would not be the same without them, nor would the way I want to tell them.

As February, 2011, comes to a close, I am not only closer to the end of my unemployment benefits. I am closer to making my first movie. I couldn't be there without G_d, losing my job or without Joe Bob Briggs.

My First Post In 5 Months: Part I – This Ain't Maggie's Farm No More, So Why The Hell Should I Work There?

In the course of having lost my job, several months ago, to the ubiquitous chameleon of political control maintenance, I have succumb to and initiated my share of personal shifts of paradigm. When the chameleon stomps you, after all, you are likely to either change along with it or change, in oh-so poetically a Newtonian fashion, in an equal and opposite way of the chameleon itself. I'm not sure which change I'm in the process of yet. Perhaps complimentary. Perhaps clashing. The time the chameleon was most recognizable, in recent history, was as the Red Scare. After a couple of decades, everybody learned to spot its spectral trail and it learned to start changing color, again. If you can't spot it, how can you point your finger at anything but the paranoid-sounding, conspiritorial multi-noun, “THEY”? Given I only know where it's been and I don't always know where it is, whether or not I know what I'm doing can't be said. I can say, however, is that these changes I'm making seem to be a lot more indulgent of my creative conscience. My lawful returns on the premium I've paid, over the years, to the Unemployment Insurance Agency are coming to a close and the resolutions I've come to regarding employment and income have begun to venture into the realm of ideas that would typically be out of character for myself. Upon the renewed realization that employment and income are more of a dichotomy than bedfellows, I've spent my time and mind on developing alternative resources. In the interest of maintaining the legality of these resources, I don't think I'm going to mention them, here, but I can say that I am finished with jobs. I am intent on working for myself and I will no longer submit to putting my livelihood in the largely incapable and self-serving hands of business people unless under the conditions of temporary economic duress. Such a resolution would not have been made by my previously employed self, months ago. Rather, those months ago, I would have written such a resolution off as irresponsible and bordering on scam. A job, however, seems to be more of a contradictory comfort, these days, than a necessity or the mark of a hard working and stalwartly ethical individual. The comfort of third party employment has, as of late, come to mean nothing more to me than artificial comfort much in the way that wax on an apple I could just as well polish, myself, would.

In an economic world, whether it it free market, socialist or otherwise, one comes to know one's income as their living; their livelihood. The idea of employment sullies this, I believe. After all, your living is not just a means of survival. Nor is it merely a means of acquiring comforts. If your money is your living, it should be, in one way or another, in service of your goals and dreams. If you are working for an employer, however, this is not as conceivably possible. After all, if you are employed, your time belongs to somebody else. If your time belongs to somebody else, the money you make is simply an exchange that is, somehow, representational of the time you have taken away from your aspirations and given to your employer. This means it is impossible, no matter how high your salary or wage, to make an actual living under an employer. Being employed does not mean you are earning a living, being employed means you are selling yourself so somebody else might make their living from the time and effort you've given them. So, not only are you selling yourself; you're selling yourself short, because who is to say their dream is of greater value than yours? Jobs don't earn you a living, they only represent a personal compromise. Although I don't think this compromise makes anybody weak or cowardly, I no longer intend to make that compromise.

Ever since I can remember, I have been gifted with tendencies towards two specific crafts: visual arts and storytelling. While friends and family suggested I work for Disney, to capitalize on my skills as a line artist, I found other outlets for my talent. I drew characters of my own and for each of them, I had concocted a story. These characters had pasts and their stories often intersected in different ways. After watching a movie that struck my fancy, I would often scurry to my bedroom, drawing pictures inspired by the movie and weaving stories that served as an artificial sequel, so I could continue to enjoy the movie beyond the restrictions of its run-time. I, later, understood this as fan fiction. When I was a child, however, it was simply an outlet for what I've been drawn to engage in for my whole life: visual storytelling. More than anything else, my creative mind was made to create comic books and motion pictures. Cut open my skull and pull out my brain and I can promise you that there will be a warning tag stuck to the bottom, stamped by G_d, informing the user that if my brain is used for any other purpose but visual storytelling that its performance, as an organ, cannot be guaranteed to the user and the warranty will have been voided. In the words of Dee Dee Ramone, interjecting his own performance of “Love Kills” during the Ramones' last show, “It's me; this is the way I am.”

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Plants, Animals and Class Fortification

It's been a minute since I've blogged, I suppose.
My life has been hectic. I've been busy. I've been living in a house I intend to buy, I've got two dogs, I've got my full-time job back, I'm working on some creative projects and, for the most part, I've been away from TV and Radio for a whole year. Since I've moved back out of my parents' house, I haven't had cable. The distraction of my television, thusly, for the past year has been limited to my desire to continue to feed my DVD player. Yes, my television still receives signal. That signal, however, is dead air; analog waves that have ceased to carry invading forces into my television's receiver and crash on the shores of my cathode ray tube with the white noise of static. It sounds like a beach.
My failure to obey the latest, increasingly enforceable consumer trends is, divisively enough, what brings me back to the old noise ratchet. Not that I haven't thought of blogging. No, sir, I have been aware of the inactivity and, on occasion, have bitten the flesh at the corner of my thumb, trying to think of a subject to bitch and fit about. Regardless of my thumb-biting contemplation, I have not been able to think of a goddamn thing to bring to my one-man quilting bee and harp on. This is, possibly, because I have been busy. Or, possibly, this has been because of my own self-professed punk-rock-ness; my own unwillingness to participate in large-scale arbitration like digital converter boxes, smoking bans and the like.
I feel happy because of this, though. In spite of my recent inblogabilities, I'm happy with my decisions. Not because of some non-conformist sense of superiority. No. I live in a populated world and, generally, I like considering myself as a member of that population no matter how disappointed or lonely it may make me feel, occasionally. And, although my failure to "conform to arbitrated consumer upgrades" does satisfy my punk desire to cut my nose off (in spite of my face), plant my middle finger through one of the severed thing's nostrils and wave that finger and that thing at authority, that satisfaction is not the source of my happiness.
My happiness springs from a well of classlessness. An economist may be able to take the statistics of my life and fit the peg he's made of me into a nice, little class-shaped hole, but I cannot - looking at my own lifestyle - assign myself a class. I am not in poverty. I am not rich. In spite of those, however, I am not middle class, either. Not for all the broadness of its spectrum can I understand myself as being middle class. And that works for me.
Class is the only thing in our society that is being successfully and perpetually fortified. Class has built walls, floors, ceilings and roofs. The fortification of class has been contracted out, literally and figuratively, to every single sector of the literal and figurative contracting world you can imagine. It has developers, excavators, engineers, architects, framers, mechanical workers, electricians, masons, sealers, millworkers, plumbers, finishers, investors, insurance, safety experts, foreman, pavers and the like. Frankly, the whole operation; the blueprints, the meeting minutes, the busy workers and the growing edifice they work in scare the living shit out of me. Because there is no "new world order"; only world order and it is shaping-up to be the universe's first, successful, large-scale perpetual motion machine.

The idea and fact of the "new liberal right" is, has and, I suppose, will be something that fascinates and frightens me as much as a black hole would to a physicist with ALS. I say "new liberal right" because I don't know what else to call it, although I suppose it isn't all that new.
In 1958, Mao Zedong declared war on 4 organisms he had deemed pests; flies, mosquitoes, rats and sparrows. He encouraged people to create a ruckus wherever sparrows congregated, to frighten sparrows from landing, in order to prevent them from eating farmers' grain. It worked. Having no place to rest, the sparrows flew themselves to death. Just as the Australians discovered, when they inadvertently poisoned birds while trying to kill rabbits, the Chinese discovered that the sparrows probably ate a great deal more insects than grain. As Mao realized the problem, insects ravaged fields and townsfolk gagged on the stink of carrion from piles of dead birds in their town, bringing maggots, flies and sickness. 30 million people died from the famine. 30 million people were too poor for grain, in a Marxist system that they, themselves, empowered because they believed they'd be treated equally. They thought communism would solve their poverty, so they mobilized. All communism ever did for the Chinese people, however, was keep them mobilized. It could be said that all of this was done for a sense of unity. I, on the other hand, would argue until my dying breath that this had nothing (not even initially) to do with anything but control and if there's one thing control depends on; it's class. This is why communism works so well for those in control; because communism fortifies class and unilateralizes it.
What the fuck does that have to do with a goddamn converter box or anything else, for that matter?
Communist China, especially the Mao regime, is completely analogous to the consumer movements being spearheaded by those in power (the politically elite/government and the economically elite/companies and super-rich citizens working for the same end as the government). The converter boxes you bought weren't broadening your access to broadcast information, so you could live a more well-rounded, well-informed couch-potato life. Yes, there's more digital channels than there were analog. But how many of them do you get? I've often heard the complaint from people who used to receive signal without rabbit ears that, with the new digital signal, they can't get anything in without rabbit ears or other antennae. They were to stimulate the economy. Not your economy. You spent money. Not to get your job back. You, likely, don't work for one of the companies who made the converter boxes. No. This was to increase the State's sales tax revenue and the companies that help fund our military (what our government spends, annually, on defense is about exactly equal to what the government gleans from corporations in taxes). The government was so eager to make this happen, that they offered coupons galore, to promote the sales of these little boxes and the antennae that you'd need. Not to mention the fact that cable revenues have spiked since the news of the digital switch first started to spread, in 2008. Comcast, if you don't remember, has been such a rising corporate star that they bought NBC/Universal. That's a lot of tax power that the government needs and, when you're in a recession, what's the best way to get timid consumers to buy? Tell them they have to.
Government enforced consumer arbitration, like this, is only the beginning. The tip of the proverbial iceberg. The foreskin of the diseased, albeit enhanced, porn star's banana-shaped erection, throbbing and ready to blow all over your face, clavicle or tailbone (You choose. This is a democracy, after all).
Hope isn't just audacious. It's pushy.
Sorry, that might have been too politically specific. I've forgotten it isn't the rebelious vogue to hate on a president, anymore, now that a Republican isn't in office. I forgot this wasn't about what one actually believes and it's always just come down to what side one is on. Damn. So much for free thinking in this world of the "new, liberal right".
On that subject, I suppose I got a little side-tracked by Maoism. Not that I actually got side-tracked. But, for those who haven't gotten the point I was making, I say "new, liberal right" because I have a hard time calling liberalism "left" when its behaviors and principals are so fascistic. Fascism, by the way, is a class thing, too. It's just more obvious than "Communism".
The new-ish green movement and the burgeoning popularity of the animal rights movement are being watched closely by those in power and they are already beginning to be used by those powers to maintain, insure and ensure their positions of power.
If there's one thing that's green, in this world, it's the reassessment, reexamination, addressing and eventual curbing of consumption. The green movement, however, has nothing to do with anti-consumerism. The green movement is, in fact, a consumer movement. It is a movement designed to make you buy new products and throw away old ones...or, better yet, pay to have the old ones recycled.
The lifestyle changes encouraged by Green movement, as we know it, have practically nothing to do with the dispensation of anything. The only green movements that have anything to do with decreasing consumption are small, barely auxiliary to the mainstream and no larger or more successful than they were in the 1960's, 70's, 80's or 90's. The capital "g" Green movement is about the continued acquisition of product; and not cheap, established products. This is about newer, more expensive products. This is about simultaneously generating more tax revenue, more corporate revenue and a wider gap between the rich and the poor.
The animal rights movement has begun to work, in conjunction with the Green movement, much in the same way. We are being introduced to more earth-friendly products (which are rarely as friendly as they claim to be) as we are being introduced to more animal-friendly products. After all, animals kind-of are that non-plant, non-water, non-insect, non-microbe, face-having, intelligent, relatable part of nature that makes it easier to care or, at least, feel bad about yourself. And if an animal friendly lifestyle and an environmentally friendly lifestyle have anything in common, it's expense. These lifestyles cost quite a bit more than the lifestyle you were likely born into, if you're going to stick with it rather than treating eco/animal-friendliness like a Christmas charity. Not a big deal for those who can easily afford it. For those that can't wipe their ass with a five dollar bill when they run out of their top-of-the-line, soft, quilted bath tissue, however, these mild differences in price add-up. Especially if you have a family.
56% of Americans are in debt. 52% are recieving support, assistance, relief and otherwise supplimental income from the government. If you only allow for as much overlap as you have to, eliminating that extra six and two percent, all of America is dependent and, thus, under more influence and control of a corporation/bank and/or the government than they would be otherwise. These statistics are, like most statistics, largely based on information collected from 2009 or before.
Do you expect the imposed popularity of new consumer trends to change this? Do you expect a higher cost of living to help bring people away from debt and government assistance?
Call me paranoid, but this just looks like another issue of keeping the poor poor and the rich rich. It's a cliche for a reason and it's a dance that has been worn into the floors of the worlds ballroom since man invented money.
Frankly, I'm pissed about it. The apparent futility of being pissed won't change that. The apparent immobility of the force of nature that is class will not change how I feel about it.
If I am yelling at a mountain or a wall, then so be it. When my voice echoes back off of the stone, I hear what I've said and I fail to feel stupid. So what if it's a mountain. So what if it's a wall.
Fuck it. I'm yelling.
And not to change or save the world. I'm yelling because I'm pissed off and I don't give a damn if anybody agrees with me or not. I don't care if they think I'm crazy. I don't care if the cops knock on the door and tell me to turn it down. I'm pissed. And, yeah, it's a fit. But it's my fit and nobody owns it but me.

Mao's sparrows are collecting in your lawn, on your roof and in the streets outside your house. You might not smell them but, well, that's because you just bought them and they're still pretty new.
Mao's sparrows are collecting in your lawn, on your roof and in the streets outside your house. You might not smell them but, well, that's because you just bought them and they're still pretty new. Mao's sparrows are collecting in your lawn, on your roof and in the streets outside your house. You might not smell them but, well, that's because you just bought them and they're still pretty new. Mao's sparrows are collecting in your lawn, on your roof and in the streets outside your house. You might not smell them but, well, that's because you just bought them and they're still pretty new. Mao's sparrows are collecting in your lawn, on your roof and in the streets outside your house. You might not smell them but, well, that's because you just bought them and they're still pretty new.
Echo, Echo, Echo, Echo, Echo...fuck

Friday, July 3, 2009

Michael Jackson as an Argument for Anarchism

We've all been either making jokes or trying to make it matter, so we can feel like somebody so "important" was actually a part of our lives and it wasn't all fantasy, but it's been a week since Michael Jackson died and people are still talking about it.
Why not me? It might get this bastard some actual visitors, if I talk about something cheap and topical. Maybe that's low, but his own family has sunk lower, promoting Joe Jackson's new record label, so - not only do I not give a shit, in the first place - I've got obtuse justification for not giving a shit.

Like I said, we've all been making jokes or playing sad. Nobody I've noticed, however, has been saying what I think should be more inevitable than it's proven itself to be; "There goes one possible Anti-Christ."

I know - I know, I said the stigmatic A-C-word & forever metal-branded my forehead with a big, red Bible-thumper scar. But, really, I'm not one to get riled up about the end of times. If I had a stopwatch, set to zero hour, things might be different . . . but I don't. Nor do I want one. I don't want the world to end, but I don't want it to just keep going. I care about the end of the world, but I don't give a damn if it happens in my lifetime or not. I don't care how it happens. I don't care if I'm raptured, or if I wake up with a suit of armor on, one day, and one of those sweet Desert Eagles that say "Sword" on the side, like in Romeo and Juliet.
I really don't care about how the book of Revelations bears fruit and I don't care when. But I do know that I can ditch the playful (but entirely logical) idea that Jacko might be The Jackal.

I don't think, across cultures, nations and peoples, there has been a single human being as loved, in my lifetime, as Michael Jackson. The man had power beyond Machiavelli's wettest of dreams, and he never had to be feared. Even in the face of diametric accusation of child molestation (one of the highest crimes, in the popular hierarchy of evil) the man was loved beyond love. People cried, in his presence. They wept. To see this man, people lost control of their bodies and their souls and they fucking wept. The only other footage I've seen of that kind of reaction was to The Beatles. And, then, even John Lennon - who was/is suspected of having sold his soul to the Lord of the Flies, himself - admitted, then, that The Beatles were bigger than Jesus Christ. And why not? We're not talking about freshly menstrual girls turning into teary, pink and turquoise blurs of sexual frustration, waving the current issue of Tiger Beat. We're talking about men, women and children of all ages responding to the presence of The King of Pop with a messianic overwhelming that would lead any onlooking seraph to expect the sonofabitch to pull a sword out of his mouth and open a bunch of scrolls.
He wasn't just an idol. Idols are unwitting chunks of inanimate material that are hewn into worshipped objects against their will and understanding.
Michael Jackson was a false god. And I'm not even talking about the Sunday school interpretation of a role model. I'm talking about somebody who was aware they were worshipped and used it. That laser-eyed monstrosity, in Las Vegas is an idol. Michael Jackson was C-3P0 among Ewoks (that's right, I used one of the worst parts of Return of the Jedi analogously. Live with it.)

Now, keep in mind, I'm not trying to posthumously vilify the once human wax museum we knew as King, but I'd like to take the next few paragraphs to actually itemize a little of what I'm talking about:

I'll leave out all of the stuff about him trying to put his penis inside of children, because the way it was handled by all parties and the public make it impossible to ever know the facts.
I think the most interesting thing about that time in his life was the fact that he was still so well loved. You could argue that all of his television interviews did so well, out of a morbid, public curiosity. But, then, why did his album climb back into the top ten? We were watching, because we loved him and we would tune into any image of his face we could find.
And, perhaps, our adoration is what he needed to bolster his kingly confidence back to its designated pinnacle. At the height of his lawsuit, he married a princess. She looked a bit too much like her dad, but that didn't matter. Who cares about looks, when you're using a human being to make a fashion statement? "I'm the goddamn King of Pop and I'm marrying me the goddamn daughter of the goddamn King of Rock & Roll!"
That poor, drunk-looking girl has spent her whole life getting passed around, like the mouthpiece of a fucking hookah, for who she is. I'd feel bad for her, but she wears that cowboy hat all the time, so I guess that means she's tough enough to take it.

That all was 1993 and 1994.

Enter 1995: Michael Jackson puts out HIStory: Volumes I & II. Although the name's a little goofy and slightly smacks of Mel Brooks, it's also a bit creepy and hints at a sort-of G_d complex. That, however, is beside the issue and treads a little too closely to Coast to Coast's territory for me to believe I'd actually be credible, if I went there. What's really interesting is the fact that we still loved this man - the whole world (with a few Afghani exceptions) loved this man - so much that we ate up whatever he could dish out. It wasn't just forgiving him for what he may have done. It was our outright refusal to be over-saturated. We just kept soaking him in. He was almost all that was on television for two years. He was the O.J. Simpson trial, before the O.J. Simpson trial. He was inescapable, but we still bought his double disc album, right away, and made it debut at #1, worldwide. It was the best selling multiple disc album of all time, and it wasn't even all original material. Half of it was a fucking greatest hits album! On top of that, he was scolding us for paying too much attention to him and we still had to hear it.
It was under the banner of that album that he also claimed to speak for all people of all beliefs and cultures, of all colors, in all the nations. Shortly before HIStory's release, The New York times cited "They Don't Care About Us" as being antisemitic. Rightfully so:
"Beat me, hate me
You can never break me
Will me, thrill me
You can never kill me
Jew me, sue me
Everybody do me
Kick me, kike me
Don't you black or white me"

When confronted on the topic, he had this to say; "The idea that these lyrics could be deemed objectionable is extremely hurtful to me, and misleading. The song in fact is about the pain of prejudice and hate and is a way to draw attention to social and political problems. I am the voice of the accused and the attacked. I am the voice of everyone. I am the skinhead, I am the Jew, I am the black man, I am the white man. I am not the one who was attacking. It is about the injustices to young people and how the system can wrongfully accuse them. I am angry and outraged that I could be so misinterpreted."

Subsequent apologies were made, but all-in-all, he continued to sell albums and continued to be stood-up for.

His tour that year played for 82 dates, in 58 cities. 4.5 million people attended the shows and made his tour the most successful he'd ever had.
The more people came up against him, the more others rallied to him.
He was the leader of the free world.
He was unaccountable. Maybe not untouchable, but the man was accountable to nobody.
The woman he hastily married, that year, gave him full custody of the children they had, together, without a fight. How many rich men does that happen to?

In 1997, he put out a remix album of songs from HISstory, which sold 6 million copies. It was a remix album of songs that came out two years before that. It was a remix album.

It was a remix album.

From here, I could go on. It's all recent enough, however, to be served pretty well by memory. Otherwise, look it up.

When you get down to it, though, it's just the story of a man with a cathedral-sized ego and the public adoration to match. That kind of thing scares the shit out of me.
Power is power. It doesn't have to be political. It can be anything.
The bottom line is, if people cry, when they see you, you know you're their god and, unless you're really G_d, that power is probably going to deeply corrupt you.

Watch interviews with this guy. He justifies everything. Nothing he does is wrong. He made mistakes and miscalculations, but the man really believed himself to be sinless. He didn't think he was accountable to anybody. He lashed-out, whenever his power was threatened, and maintained the reputation of a gentle spirit.

If anybody is/was a "living" argument for Anarchism, it was Michael Jackson.

I didn't hate the man, but I'm glad he's dead.

Monday, May 18, 2009

You Can Know You Suck Without Getting Up-Into White Guilt and it All Starts With Realizing You're as Full of Shit as That Other Paddy Bitch, Part 1:

I never expected to be as much of a pop culture commentator as I have been on this blog. And I really don't want to be one of those overly overt punks who makes a point to make a point about how uncool they think television is, but I really would rather be inspired enough to make a blog post without television wetting the folds and lobes of my brain with its sneaky brand of foreplay. But enough bullshitty, hipster-cred insistent self-effacement. Too much of it will stink my blog up with an artificial sincerity that you could get much more easily from comments left on your Myspace profile.
I watch television. Even if I didn't live with my parents I would. I own one and, although it isn't fancy, its completely mine.
I was watching VH1's Charm School 3 (with Ricki Lake) not twenty minutes ago. It was probably the last 10 minutes of the show. All of the girls lined up, wearing their school girl fetish ball costumes, in two segregated rows. The largely blond Rock Of Love brats lined up like a white picket fence behind the Real Chance of Love bitches. And, before you ask, NO! My choice of words, there, has nothing to do with the personal distinction I make between brats and bitches, nor does it have to do with my preference for bitchery over brattyness. My choice of words, as well as this entire blog post, has to do with race. It's a fun card to play and white people (usually the only people who live boring enough lives to read and write blogs) don't have much of a sense of humor about it.
As a white male with friends (actual friends and not just people I ride the bus with or work with) of many different ages, creeds and ethnic backgrounds, I often feel at liberty to say whatever I want. I'm usually wrong in this assumption, but I'm white so I act on my assumptions anyway, because I'm too insecure to ask a goddamn question. So, as one of these busted crackers who makes too many bad jokes, I feel I've made enough room for myself to say that I really have a problem with white women. There I said it. I've got half a dickful of patience for them and, me being white and all, half a dickful isn't very much. I may boast a fairly diverse group of friends, but that doesn't change the fact that most of them are white. Being surrounded by all of this whiteness should have helped me acclimate to their pissy, little nuances . . . but I have yet to come to a cultural understanding with my fellow skim milk drinking, cozy-up-to-the steering wheel driving, Asian baby adopting people.
Does it make me a misogynist expressing my frustrations with white women? No. Although I, sometimes, understand misogyny, I find no excuse for it. In fact, the only thing that would probably make me a misogynist would be if I were to keep my feelings about white women to myself and let them fester. Well . . . either misogyny or accidentally/subconsciously fetishizing women of other races, but that's a phase (and I still can't say for sure whether the fact that I'm single does or does not have anything to do with the fact that I have such a hard time with white women) I already went through and I think that ethno-fetishism is just as disgusting and ignorant as misogyny or any other kind of bigotry. I'm all about diversifying the gene pool, but I'm not willing to endorse an Asian or Black Chick/White Dick porn site under the umbrella of racial and cultural double-dutching. But I'm sidling the track I've laid-out for myself, a little . . .

I just witnessed a microcosmic example of how white folk pretending that racism doesn't exist can be used to enact fascism. Shit yeah, I'm observant. I even noticed that the black dude was acting as the caddy in that Capital One commercial where the banker knocks the small business people out of his office with a golf club.
To give a brief summary of Charm School, Episode 3.02; Kiki instigated some verbal altercations that made the white girls feel unsafe, Ashley locked the emotionally vulnerable and maybe mentally unstable Britney Star in the bathroom causing her to cry, freak-out and pray on camera, and somebody who I already forgot the name of got too drunk. When I saw Ricki Lake (the Headmistress) call the bottom three down, so she could expel one of them from VH1's world renowned charm school, Kiki, Ashley and Drunks-Her-Face stepped forward. When Tequila Rose and Ashley were told Ricki's reasons for wanting to send them home, everybody kept their composure and acted maturely. When it came to Kiki, the one black girl out of the three, Bratty Bacchus starts trying to provoke her with some catty body language. When Kiki tries to assert herself and insist she can have her turn to speak in peace, it becomes a shouting match with all of the white girls ganging up on Kiki. When the rest of the black girls try to defend Kiki, all of the white girls but Brittany Star begin freaking out. Farrah begins to talk about how threatened she feels around Kiki, while she eyes all of the black girls. Finally, Farrah says something about her coming to VH1's Charm School and not VH1's Real Chance of Love and storms off the set with Body Shot Barbie and Ashley. When everybody calms back down and the three "protesters" are called back in, Ricki Lake decides to expel Kiki. Apparently her verbal confrontations with the girls were more dangerous and harmful than drinking one's self half way to the hospital or picking the most emotionally unstable member of the group and locking them in a bathroom. So Hood realized what I did, as soon as the editor cut to her for a reaction shot & stormed off the set.
Ricki Pamela Lake, you were in Hairspray and you should know better than that. Oh, wait, I guess that sentence could make me as bad as her.
You can't let the fact that you did this for so-and-so or babysat for what's-their-face or stood up for the cause of such-and-such convince you that you're not racist. Yes, white people, you can have a black friend and be racist. Chances are that they know you're racist. Maybe you're a little racist. Maybe you're more racist than you'd ever want to admit. The fact remains, however, that you are uncomfortable around certain demographics of people and that's actually not all that bad because, chances are, that they're cool with it. There's a difference between being racist and being a bigot. Fascism is bigotry and it can even happen on VH1.
As white people, we've learned to reject change by appearing to embrace it. We cozy up and soften ourselves to black folk, so they don't feel so much of a spirit of dissent against us and, maybe, stop trying so hard to move into our neighborhoods and schools and offices. We make special immigration exceptions for Latinos, because - well - who wants to deport our worker caste?
We're spiteful. We're deceitful. We're underhanded and passive aggressive. Between the United States and England alone, we've got an encyclopedic wealth of information on how to simultaneously be a imperialistic megalomaniac and a worthless pussy fart in the same act.
White women, unfortunately, have this quality in spades. In fact, it's so effective that the only men who are really as good at it as women usually become politicians.
Using this characteristic tool, Ricki Lake was able to look completely justified, as she took the side of the mostly white Rock of Love team. Aggression can be intimidating, but passive aggression scares the butt-fucking shit out of me.
Passive aggression is one of the worst traits any human can have, ever. A passive aggressive person is tactful in the way they choose their words, but they do not necessarily choose their words with the intent of them being understood as they are. A passive aggressive person would rather have you unravel a curtain than pull it aside. It makes them feel powerful. A passive aggressive person asks a rhetorical question and expects an answer, because they've endowed their rhetoric with nuances that imply a whole different question, altogether, between the actual words they spoke. A passive aggressive person endows the people who they are surrounded by with guilt and shame, which is a pretty fucking satanic quality to have.
Unfortunately, white women have a really strong tendency to be passive aggressive. Like, really, really, really passive aggressive. I wish it weren't true, but it is. Not all black people talk in the movie theater, but I've never been to a movie in a "black neighborhood" that had a quiet audience. Not all Italian guys wear too much product in their hair, but I wouldn't want to sit behind your average man of Mediterranean descent on a roller coaster. Not every white woman is a fake-laughing, competitive, passive aggressive brat . . . but enough are to make the good ones look bad. There's enough awful white women in the world that there's an entire generation of girls who are on the brink of mistaken identity because they hate how catty girls are and they only befriend guys.
I guess the reason it frustrates me most, aside from the fact that the way a white person of any gender acts reflects on me in one way or another, is the fact that I know women are capable of a lot more than their given credit for. Not just by society as a whole, but by each other & by themselves. Females amaze me. I understand that being what they are, physically, endows them with certain limitations, but -really- those limitations are nothing. I almost feel like man was the prototype and woman was the final product. Their brains can do more. Their bodies look better (and I'm not just saying that because I'm a heterosexual male). A woman has the emotional capacity to kill with one arm and tenderly rear a child with the other. And those are just the cliches. I'm not even going to get into the finer points, because they still confuse me.
Women are so much my favorite people that I didn't feel completely comfortable with my masculinity until I was about 23. Yet, still, white women continue to hold themselves back and put themselves in an easily vilifiable spot with all of their passive aggressive and catty behavior. Why?
Why not say what you mean? It isn't insensitive. Transversely, I'd argue it's insensitive to say something with such a sidewinding delivery that it will cause the person to trip up and make you angry. It's insensitive to find sly ways of testing somebody with loaded questions and planted mini-mind fucks. It isn't just evil against the people you're trying to manipulate, it's evil against yourself and any woman you can name.
White girls, does a black woman get upset when she sees a black man dating a white chick because she's racist? Does she get all hot and bothered, because she can't stand to see the black race get diluted? I don't know. As far as I'm concerned, it's all Ethiopian to me. We've all got African roots, if you want to nit-pick, so the black race has already been about as diluted as it could possibly be short of people having transparent skin and hair. The wager I'm willing to make is that it has less to do with the blackness of the baby and more to do with the whiteness of you. That mad black woman is probably pissed off because she can't imagine the idea of a black baby being raised by a game-playing, side-stepping, double-talking, white mother. There's a reason that the cheating husband's mistress, the villainess and the antagonistas in a lot of black movies and television shows are molded from such a specific archetype. It's the Hillary Banks girl. She's not just "light-skinded". She doesn't just physically represent a departure from black culture. She talks like a white girl and she acts like a white girl. I'm willing to bet that the chances are pretty high that you've watched one of these movies and hated that yellow skinned, homewrecker. Is it because she reminds you of that friend you wish you didn't have, girls? Does she remind you of that friend that you can't wait to talk about as soon as she leaves the room? Or does she remind you of all the girls that broke your trust to the point that you find it difficult to even make friends with girls in the first place?
Maybe that's a little harsh.
I don't know.
You can be insulted and take offense . . .
. . . or you can grow the fuck up.
Not that I think I necessarily deserve her, but I'm still waiting for my prize bitch to come along any damn how.
I'll see you next post.
Maybe I'll explain that whole brat vs. bitch thing, then.
Bu----ut, I bet I won't!

Monday, May 4, 2009

How ABC Murdered My Favorite Ghost:

If you want to hear some music, while you read, scroll down to the illegally hotlinked Myspace music module I've put at the bottom of this post. It will start playing on its own.

Have you seen the man in the above picture? I haven't. Not ever. I used to talk to him pretty frequently, though. He's a spectacular line artist and a swell guy. He wrote and artistically rendered about two and a half years worth of material for New England Comic's famous, yet strangely not-that-successful series, The Tick. That isn't what made me like the guy, though. I actually didn't realize how much I appreciated his work, until I saw his non-Tick-related stuff.
Because of him, I sent in a submission package to New England Comics and, subsequently, never called them back when they showed interest, because I was "too punk" to draw what somebody else had written. Because of him, I found out about cool bands, like Cop Shoot Cop. Because of him, my parents found out I used to huff gasoline and other household ethers.
I never met Eli "5" Stone, but I miss him. If he knocked on my door, today, my couch would be his for the sleeping. I'd even consider taking the couch and letting him have my bed.

I haven't spoken with Eli in about seven or eight years. Our communications began to disintegrate, after he moved from Boston, MA to Venice, CA. He got married and, eventually, his e-mail address stopped working. He ran a flash site full of pre-production type stuff that he had laid out for a bunch of independent comic book projects. I kept checking on it, to see if he'd post anything new. He never did, though, and his domain eventually expired, as did the domain for (a horror and sci-fi site for which he did a lot of design work). I found out that he may have done some layout work for Cartoon Network's "The Venture Brothers", in 2003, but where would that get me?
I thought I'd struck pay dirt, when I found his old friend and webmaster, from his old HTML site, Lee. I asked if he'd heard from his friend, at all. Not in years. This was discouraging, because Lee actually knew him in a four dimensional realm. Lee had seen him move through time and space just like the rest of us. Lee had heard his voice in non WAV file form. Lee may have even touched him, yet he did not know where Eli was. It was as if Eli had, altogether, disappeared.
Am I eulogizing him, right now?

Eli was a charming guy. He seemed to swim in a cocktail of problems, wielding a red, plastic sword and laughing about it. He was so public and open about how fucked up he was or may have been that the sickest bits weren't only acceptable; they were endearing. You never felt bad for him, and I'm pretty sure he wouldn't want you to. He'd invite you to share his problems. Encourage you to start smoking, drinking and doing drugs, but he never treated you like a snob when you turned down his terrible, terrible advice. He was a true bastard gentleman. I've met other human beings who have seemed as genuinely casual as Eli, but they've all turned out to be pathological sociopaths. Maybe Eli was, too, but I care about him more than all of the other pathological sociopaths.

I met Eli through what I have to say was the strongest influence on my storytelling style, at the time. He helmed The Tick for two-or-so years. When he stopped, I had randomly found his archive, online. It was chock full of old sketches he'd done, when he worked at a copy shop. Weird stuff. Stuff that was, frankly, a lot better than anything he'd done for New England Comics. I told him how much I liked his non-Tick-stuff and he sent me a signed copy of the first comic he ever did (a comic that he spent a rent check to print-up, just for the hell of it). He tucked a little sketch of the tick, on the inside. I still have them. I actually framed the sketch in a little, 3x5" frame.
He was 26 years old, when he started working on The Tick. He was at least two years older than that, when I started talking to him.
I was 16. I'm 26, now.

Every couple of months, or so, there's something that reminds me to look for him. I probably still think about him a few times a week but, every once in a while, there's something that will pop up and remind me of conversations I've had with him. The most recent one; the one that inspired this blog post was a picture of one of my friend's tattoos. It was based on a Derek Hess sketch. Eli was friends with Derek Hess. In fact, the conversation we had about Derek Hess is what got him started on telling me about Cop Shoot Cop. Derek had done art for the band & he was jealous of Derek, because he really liked that band. He also stressed to inform me that, even though Derek had drawn a picture of cops pointing guns at each other, the name of the band was not about cops at all but, rather, about the cyclical repetition of heroin addiction (copping dope, going somewhere to shoot up, and going back to the park, or wherever, to cop some more). I still have a lot of those e-mails printed out and filed-away, somewhere (including the e-mail where I talked to him about my former romps in the world of household inhalants that my parents had found)

For a while, it wasn't too hard to find Eli, online. I could never find a way to actually contact him, after his e-mail disappeared, but one could always find whispers of snippets of whatever he might be working on next, should one run a web search on him. There would be the occasional annoyance of some shitty band that shared his name. For the most part, however, there was always that glimmer of hope; that new piece of Eli data, that fresh breadcrumb, that link that might bring me one step closer to being able to say "hello" to my lost pal.

That all changed, last year, with the premier of ABC's "Eli Stone".
Really? A show about a character, named Eli Stone, called Eli Stone? What the fuck are the goddamn chances? At least it doesn't take place in Boston, I guess.
All I'm saying, though, is that it's really hard to find a reason not to hate the Disney Corporation when they even fuck with my own personal life. I was on my way to finding this bastard again, until this goddamn show ate a hole the size of Coca-Cola out of Google and any other search engine on the web. Now, I'm reduced to searching for Eli Stone on Facebook and sending personal messages to any one that might be him. "Is it you? No? Sorry."

Fuck you, ABC.
I mean it.
Like, really. From the bottom of my balls, FUCK YOU!

In the meantime, I implore anybody who might stumble on this blog to contact me, if they see a bald man who looks like he could be Grant Morrisson or the real life Spider Jerusalem drawing pictures on the bellies of young women.

You're my only hope.
Unless you work for ABC, then you're probably just fucking with me.

"You can't see me now, but I'm watching over you.
All the clocks are broken."

-Cop Shoot Cop

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