9.27.2006

Bombs and Shields

I just wanted to stop by and bring attention to one of my favorite blogs, Bombs and Shields. It is always a good read and has good stories and pictures from around the globe. It is a good way to keep up on things happening that you may not hear about. So take a second from trying to find yet-to-air episodes of degrassi: the next generation (is that just me?) and check it out.

9.24.2006

Reading is Fundamental

Hey Kids, it's every freedom-haters favorite time of year: Banned Book Week. Light those bonfires and put on your best Nazi-wear (available at Walmart), we're having us an old-fashioned book burning! Pulitzer Prize winners get a door prize!

I'm proud to say that I've read about 90% of the books on this list. I'm better for it.

9.23.2006

The Much Maligned Middle Ground

This blog has more counterpoints than my kitchen. That's good. It would be boring if we all agreed on everything (unless you are all agreeing with me, then of course that would be fine).

Our world is a paradox of blue moons, pink hearts and purple horseshoes, a regular bowl of Lucky Charms (sorry, I've been eating a lot of cereal) but it is also black and white. It is grey.

First and foremost allow me to address one of Deep Shit's concerns, and that is the legitimacy of having these conversations on the internet, specifically this blog. I will not argue that the preferred manner of conversation is face to face, even better with stiff drinks and some Monk playing in the background. That is the romance of conversation.

However, technology has presented us with a forum to fill the time between thinking aloud. A chance to sit around in our underwear, drink coffee and do something that I am not used to- thinking before I speak, which I've decided is somewhat overrated. I like the passion of speaking without thinking, and the subsequent slaps that follow. Redundant I know. But I digress, and yet I make a point, something else I seldom do, that the typing on a keyboard does not need to inhibit the free flow of thought.

I don't think this should be a battle, but rather a tool that when yielded correctly can become a weapon against the demons that we are facing. Plus, there's easy access to porn.

As for activism (like how I nonchalantly toss that one out), I applaud it, but I don't live it. Not as a rule anyway. When a battle presents itself I fight it, and they present themselves often enough.

The thing is that I am as anti-establishment as I have ever been, and yet I am submerged in it further than ever before. I think Bush is an idiot but I love Crate and Barrel. I am the grey area.

I don't take it to the streets anymore, not often anyway, I tend to show my support through other means, mainly money. I cut checks to my beliefs, each dollar another piece of peace of mind. It's not much different than filling the collection tray in church every Sunday, every dollar renting a bit of salvation and allowing the parishioners to wallow in another week of sin.

I'm not proud, but I'm not embarrassed either. Every battle needs soldiers and every battle needs supplies. I traffic in the supply trade.

It's a big bowl of grey- sprinkled with yellow stars and little marshmellow diamonds.

Is There Hope For Us?: Counterpoint

As much as I like the irony of someone named King Anarchy, I think I'd like to shit in his mouth and sew his lips shut. No, really.

Before I expound, I think it's weird that I'm responding to a blog by writing another blog. There is something completely too postmodern about this, and I don't think I like it. That's what face-to-face conversations used to be for. But I think Antho's questions are good ones, and I feel compelled to respond. Pretend this is a real conversation w/ me and imagine smoke, booze, and emphatic hand gestures. As usual, this is long, so bear w/ me.

First, the question of why do anything when nothing changes, or seemingly nothing does. For arguments sake, we'll use His Highness's example of "not eating meat does not stop the production of animals for meat" argument. As this is a rather incomplete statement, I will assume that the complete thought is "not eating meat does not stop the production of animals for meat; therefore, it is unreasonable to not eat meat." Beside the basic fallacy of making a negative statement an argument, this is what is known as a "straw man"--taking a small part of an argument and blowing it up to be totality of said argument so it is easier to dismantle. In layman's terms, King A was saying "If you can't do everything, it is unreasonable to do anything."

Let us assume for the moment that he had said, "Not murdering people does not stop murder; therefore, not murdering is unreasonable." Everyone present would have thought that he was a lunatic. But because he was attempting to justify an irrational behavior that happens to be socially fortified, he appeared lucid or well-reasoned. This is the same argument as "You can't completely escape from the capitalist system; therefore it is unreasonable to oppose it". Such is the madness of crowds and the tyranny of tradition.

Consuming animal products is irrational, unnecessary, and completely unethical. In the thousands of pages I have read, I have not seen one cogent argument for it (if anyone in internet land has one, I'd would love to hear it.) It is a philosophical no-brainer; people consume animal products for a variety of reasons, but among the foremost is a)because they've been told to and b) because everyone else does.

Returning to the issue--why do anything if you cannot change anything? I guess that depends on which perspective you want to analyze it from, but reasonably, it is because you are ethically obligated to. If you find the system of exploitation, animal products, pornography, lemon-lime Gatorade, whatever...if you find anything objectionable, you are ethically obligated not to participate in it (as much as is possible). If you continue to do so, then I guess you would have to question how much you really object.

The system will take care of itself, and it's our job to do whatever we can to help it along. I don't worry about stopping the whole system any more, even though I find myself opposing it more strongly than I ever have--the system is doing a fine job of stopping itself. I worry about doing what I can, when I can. Not to be too melodramatic, but I look at every day as a war, made up of thousands of tiny battles. I pick the biggest ones, the ones that are most important, and I try to win them. It's that simple. Not consuming animal products is easy, so I don't. Not watching 10 hours of TV is easy, not shopping at Wal-Mart is easy, walking instead of driving is easy. Having conversations with other people and hopefully having a positive impact is easy. It isn't rocket science. Do I often wish I was doing "more"? Every damn day. But I'm doing more now than I was when I was 18 or 25 or last year put together. It's a process, and I'm pleased to report I'm getting better at it.

Activism isn't something that you do apart from the rest of your life; it is your life. Raoul Vaneigem (my favorite political theorist) said, "There are more truths in 24 hours of a man's life than in all the philosophies of the world". This is true, I think. To save the world, we would have to be outside of it, and sadly, we are not. But what we do makes a difference, all the time, every day, in millions of tiny ways. Those small changes have a cumulative effect, and every person that changes in a way that is beneficial to those around them and the community at large brings us all one step closer to the giant step we all hope for.

There are more of us every day--malcontents and misanthropes. The cracks in the dam are bulging. Avoid the fatalism of the crowd, and learn to swim.

Is there any hope for us?

After sitting here for half of a hour I am still not sure what direction this is headed. So be it.

At what point should our activism manifest itself?

It's a thought that runs though my head over and over the last 10 or so days. Driving to work, finding something to eat, watching videos on youtube, listening to music, the moments before sleep, the moments after. What am I doing? Am I doing enough? Am I doing anything?

Bill and I met this guy, "King Anarchy", and as much as a pretentious bastard he could be, he said/wrote something one time that made a lot of sense. (In terms of vegetarianism/veganism/eating whatever the fuck you want): Not eating meat doesn't stop the creation/production of cows for consumption.

He is right. Me not shopping at walmart does not make walmart go away. But neither does shoplifting at walmart. The thing most likely affected by that act is some other human working there to support themselves or family.

That is where I am. Do I eat meat, shop at walmart, drive a suv, vote, watch 10 hours of tv and work at a job that supports sweatshops abroad and the exploitation of workers at home? Or does it matter? Me not doing those things doesn't tear down the giant, but doing those things builds it up, right?

I've heard the saying "be the change you want to see". I like it. I agree with it. But sometimes it feels like it doesn't matter.

I'd like to say I feel better. I think I will go to bed instead.

9.20.2006

It Was Funny the 1st Time (wasn't it?)

So as not to get hopes too high I am going to start my ranting and raving here at Drunken Bicycle Collective on an extremely lame note and make a post that is not original. Consider it my training wheels. When I wrote this on that other blog it seemed pretty good, but now it's just me being lazy despite you deserving better. Get used to it.


Bush's Clear View & Policy in Practice

We all have awkward moments, like having to respectively decline that proposed threesome from your boss and his partner at the company Christmas party. It's uncomfortable.

However, this man is not only your boss, but the boss of your boss and so forth and so on. He is not just proposing a quick and drunken act of unmentionable frivolity, but rather a full-force group effort of international sodomy- and without foreplay.

To paraphrase Teddy Roosevelt, being patriotic is loving your country, not the president. Wise words that fit this stupid man. What the hell were you thinking Wal-mart America? I support the office of the president. I respect it. I just wish Bush did. He mocks it.

It's getting hard to tell the difference between oil and blood. Both are green in the hands of W. and his buddies. Luckily, he has the future square in his sights (see above): dark days ahead.

9.19.2006

Exhuming The Grave Of God's Gift

Marleigh showed me the following advertisement for an art show upon my arrival home from work. Check it:

PRESS RELEASE Michael Dee, Amy Sarkisian, Mark Alan Taylor Drink Fight Fuck September 22 – October 22, 2006 Gallery hours: By Appointment Opening reception: Friday, September 22, 7 – 9pm Brooklyn-based Mark Alan Taylor, Los Angeles artist Amy Sarkisian, and recent transplant from NY to LA, Michael Dee, attended Kent State, Ohio for undergraduate studies - at a time when the punk/hardcore scene was a large part of the creative makeup in the Kent/Akron, Ohio area. This period (1987 – 1999) distinguished by a rich, relatively recent, music history (Devo, Pere Ubu, Sockeye) was set apart from other contemporary scenes geographically and conceptually, by existing outside of the influence of media and major labels by its own accessibility: free, all age shows, and cheap, low standards of living. The three artists in Drink Fight Fuck have maintained a commitment to the values of the hardcore genre, by continuing to embrace the vision of underachievement – ironically by taking conceptual risks – as well as the endurance of uninhibited determination (read: ambition). Whether the decline of the hardcore movement in the area these three cut their undergraduate teeth on was marked specifically by the passing of harsh noise ordinance and residency laws, or more generally by global influences via the internet or changes in angst trends in youngsters, or even by the death of the ultimate hardcore king himself - GG Allin (and for who this show is named for) - what does remain, amongst the few, is a commitment to reoccurring hardcore themes such as the authenticity of failure, sexual dysfunction, puking, shitting, punching, and cuming. Oh yeah, and formalism. As evidenced by the technically morbid proficient work of Mark Taylor; attention to humorous detail of Amy Sarkisian or symmetrical/asymmetrical operative-driven Michael Dee. For more information, please contact Allyson Spellacy at allyson@angelahanley.com

This, my friends, is a prime example of why most "art" kids should be herded into boxcars and driven to work camps (think chain gangs here, not Dachau). Behind the coy wordplay and stunningly inadequate sense of punk rock history lies yet another co-opting of real art by well-heeled diletanttes hoping to earn street cred and probably turn a buck at the expense of a movement they obviously know little to nothing about. Point for point:

The hardcore sub-genre of punk, while most definitely reactionary, was absolutely not about "the authenicity of failure". Most (if not all) hardcore was informed by oppressive political climates and regional economics (see Bad Brains, Minor Threat, Crass). While not all subject matter in early hardcore was overtly political, the nihilism of the times in which it was created expressed itself in dark comedy and satire (Devo, Fear, The Screamers) or puerile silliness (The Circle Jerks, Black Flag). Hardcore was (and in its best moments, still is) a visceral rebellion against the watermarks of a corrupt system--ironically, the aforementioned "puking, shitting, punching, and cuming (sic)". Any argument to the contrary reveals a merely superficial understanding of a complex and vibrant art.

As far as GG goes, his expression was pure--there was no scholarly analysis, no condescending gestures to outsider art, no affectation. There was no bullshit. He would have taken a hot liquid shit on the arrogant fuckwads who perpetrate hokey capitalist garbage like by appointment art galleries. He detested art, and rightfully so, because he knew on a very basic level that art didn't belong to him, just like it doesn't belong to any of us. Art as we know it today is a scientific term, a tool and methodology by which interested parties can predict consumer trends and market themselves to appropriate niche demographics. Anyone in the business of recreating and romancing a movement they know little about isn't in the business of making art--they're in the art of making business.

Fuck anyone that forgets it.

Welcome!

Hello to all. I finally got off my ass and got this working in a different way than originally expected. This is a gathering place of people involved in different aspects of the Drunken Bicycle Collective. How it will be used, we can only guess. Enjoy!