Category Archives: politics
i’m off to korea in a few days… for lim inza’s seoul marginal theater festival 2008. i’ll be there for two weeks and not as a performer. simply as an observer.
this will be the first time i have ever traveled alone. it’s kind of a frightening prospect. i’m taking a couple of cameras, video and film, and a small field recorder with me. it’ll be interesting to only have my own head to bounce things off of.
right now i’m kind of scared. not by my trip. my trip is necessitated by that which i’m nervous of, namely, this smooth transition of power. or perhaps i should call it a smooth transition in narrative.
we have a new guy in the seat of highest public office in my country. i’m sure you know who i’m alluding to. the night they announced that he’d been granted the reigns people poured out into the streets in so many cities. dancing and cheering. drinking and blowing things up. that’s us. that’s what we do. we’re americans. it’s good.
for the last few days since that event so many people, including my banal self, have been expressing the same sentiment. seeing people smile again in such great numbers was beautiful. striking. humbling.and infectious.
it even got to me. now, i love a good street party, but as my friend 9 was saying only tonight over glasses, healthy glasses, of whiskey, “it was so weird to be surrounded by all those smiling happy people. i’d gotten used to only feeling that kind of bonding at protests and riots.” and i had to agree with her.
the last time i can remember that kind of bacchanalian emo-overflux i was with the marching band in new york to say ‘eff-u’ to the republicans four years ago. we swamped a deserted area in the city with two other marching bands and we all went to jail. for days. and it sucked.
i have always believed that the endpoint of any successful revolt, revolution or uprising should be the party. and not just the drunken melee, but the real party. you know, all that peace and justice and respect stuff leading to a land and a lifetime of joy and fulfillment. where the pain you feel isn’t from a truncheon upside your nay saying head or finding out who got shot in the eye with a rubber bullet or the back with a steel jacketed one. the reason we should be making all these demands is to find some happiness in the day to day. all the time. world without end. amen and forever.
so the gathering in the streets on election night. some woman grabbed my hand and yelled, “yes we did!” and it was intense, man. so very spiritual and overwhelming. sitting in a car for a moment with my friend sruti and she said, “when i found out that he’d won it felt like i should be making out with someone…” god. it’s so weird to hear people say all the things that are perpetually playing in your own heart.
for forever i felt that i was alone in thinking these things. such hubris. and maybe that’s why i’ve fallen from such great heights so many times. it’s just a shock to hear it spoken by so many people out loud your own post-philosophical mantras.
but it’s wonderful. and it makes me realize why i keep my art-mouth shut so much now a days. because it’s becoming evident to everyone how this shit should be going down.
but here’s my concern. a philosophy professor i was hanging out with in the spring of this year told me that he’d already prepared a zine with obama’s face on it. the title of the pamphlet is, “the face of the new enemy.” and it doesn’t matter how much you love the man or his principles or his story. it’s true.
obama’s just taken on the mantle. the crown. this is the office that truly waves the velvet glove. nothing changes that. the office is metonymic, a synedoche, for all the brutal policies that issue forth from our country to the rest of the world. remember that. he’s your man, but he’s also a policy himself now. he is an image and a representation. old school critical thinking on my part to be sure… true though.
i will give him his first 100 days and then some. because in spite of his being terribly conservative by my reckoning i want to see him promote the slow move of this juggernaut back to something a little less ugly and frightening.
i wanted to be gone from this country for a while after the election. cast my vote and bail, say, on the night of the fourth be on a plane to korea. not come back until after the furor over the fuhrer was spent. i didn’t think i could handle the gloating of the ‘bamites over those other people. but it hasn’t been so bad.
i forget sometimes that i’m surrounded, by choice, by groups of people who are aware that this changes very little. yes we have a wonderful new story to write thanks to all this marvelous hope that’s floating around, but we also have a lot to do still. it’s so good to know that the people i run with aren’t allowing a small thing like an election to interfere with their plans for social restructuring.
i think it doesn’t really matter to some of us who wins that boring race. there’s always so much to be done. and people want to talk about how the left shouldn’t put all it’s energy into running this candidate and defeating that one as if there is such a thing as the ‘left.’ the left as it was once understood no longer exists. when clinton (either) can be referred to as a liberal it’s time to put the term away.
the left is no longer monolithic and it never was. the left is constructed of so many small and autonomous groups doing what they feel is necessitated by circumstance. and the circumstances have barely changed. and they will remain more or less the same set of suspect circumstances up and through january the 20th when they ride the motorcade through the streets of dc.
does anyone remember what happened four years ago when george junior had his second little moment in the limelight? people came to dc in droves to protest. to riot. to ruin the day for the old fool and his cronies. and folks went nuts. banners and loud speakers and eggs. and none of it really made the news.
i met these two ladies from chicago the day after the election who’d just flown in to seattle. they told me about the street party there. and about throwing up on the plane ride. my kind of people. they told me that they had already bought tickets to dc for the inauguration. they want to do that whole dancing on public land with a drink in your hand thing again. i can’t blame them. i suspect they will not be alone. i would not be surprised if a lot of people go to dc just to party the bush away. and i hope rice and powell cry as they pack their bags singing, ‘free at last/free at last/lord god almighty/i’m free at last”
not that you should ever trust those motherfuckers again.
i’ve pretty much resisted dropping just straight links to other sites in the guise of updates or posts to artofmulata, but i just can’t resist. this is a link to an abbie hoffman interview from 1989 first published in 2007 and recently dropped on us again by the wonderfully fun Reality Sandwich webmag. pretty damn strange to find an interview with the gentleman from that time period, too.
mr. hoffman, for those of you not in the know, was a political activist from all the way back in the civil rights movement days. he was down south getting harrassed by the klan. moved out east at some point and got involved with those who came to be known as the hippies. went international and ran with sinn fein over in ireland. and got in so much trouble for having too much fun showing us how stupid the governments of this world are that he had to change his name and his face (plastic surgery. plastique surgery?), abandon his life and family, and go underground.
- dearest abbie (pic swiped from liberalstreetfighter.com)
pretty shitty if you ask me, but, hey! those are the rewards you receive when you monkey with the powers that want to be a little too much. check out the history of the weather underground. or if you really want to get down to a system of rewards based on behavior go read up on the history of the black panthers or the george jackson brigade (those are 3 separate links). for their efforts at social/cultural revolution these cats were awarded the bullet, the trumped up charge, the erasing from official history and many more awards.
but enough babbling from my pop-revolutionary/post-political/pre-nuptial ass; go read this fine interview with mr. abbie hoffman. i know he would agree with me that no matter who wins this presidential election you can’t trust them or truss them. and remember it’s your job (after you foolishly vote these barbarian apes into office) to hold them continuously accountable. because they are out to get us. i promise you.
and when you have complaints about their behavior don’t talk to me about it. i’m warning you right now that i will have no sympathy for any of you who vote for the winner. because it will be your fault when they bomb iran or look the other way when israel does it. or whatever warped scheme the new guy signs off on that violates all his campaign promises; unless, of course, mccain wins. at least we know what a fucking nutjob that pickaxe is.
sorry. i am so happy this morning and whenever i get that sensation of sheer ‘goddamn-i-am-so-in-love’ i get to ranting. or kissing everyone around me. or throwing money in the air. i bet you wish you were here with me right now to catch some cash, don’t you? or maybe that you were in love, too? don’t worry. you are. it just hasn’t hit you yet.
until the next post, lovelies!
here’s the link again in case you missed it the first time through: http://www.realitysandwich.com/i_know_we_won_abbie_speaks
lately, i’ve been working on a new piece. it’s a large scale performance that will be shown via the scraps of its passing, its detritus…
essentially, i’m going to attempt to recreate the site or space of a lynching. i want to bring together various performers and myself and enact a similar spectacle to what might have occurred in the 1920s or 30s here in the united states at an actual lynching. gather together enough actors and other types of performers to recreate a small town hosting a typical lynch party.
there’ll be a photographer, steve miller, to document it via stills. he’s the main documenter. and a wonderful collaborator. there will also be people making amateur video and others making audio field recordings. the exhibition will consist of photos and videos and audio atmospheres attempting to invoke the spectral image of the scene.
but there will be bents to it. i’m not going to say how i’m planning on changing things up, but it’s all to invoke ideas about the nature of class and social violence and to enhance the dialogues on social and domestic violence. i’ve decided to publish a short essay on my ideas about lynchings in this country and how i look at them. view them. understand them. this essay is unfinished, as of yet, but it gives a pretty clear idea of how i’m approaching this project and perhaps some insight into how i plan on accomplishing my goals…
feel free to comment on it either via the comment system in the blog or via private email. hell, you can even call if you want if you have my number. my hope is to divest myself of any trivial approaches in my thinking and the work itself. this is the biggest project i’ve taken on yet and i don’t want to mar it with insincerity. if you find yourself questioning my approaches or my conclusions in this essay please do tell me.
thanks for reading this far. i appreciate it. the next installment of the “sense of being” photo/text series is in the works, too. i’ve just got a lot of things to work on right now and some crazy surprises for seattle in the hat… as i don’t want to do a half-assed job on them everything comes a little slowly… (p.s. for those who have been asking: yes the woman in the sense of being shots is aware that i am using them; that’s why they were produced in the first place. and she is very pleased with the first installment. she’s an artist as well and is working on a companion piece that we created at the same time, but was done with video. pretty exciting. if she makes it postable i’ll drop a link so people can check it out. her’s should be happening at the end of the summer unless we change it around.)
In the 1920 and 30s in the united states a project was initiated to deal with the perceived problem of undesirable natives, freed slaves, immigrants from europe and women attempting to rise above their sanctioned stations, making demands for their rights. White americans occupied a position of dominance and desired to maintain that hegemony. To that end began their perpetration of acts of great violence against these undesirable, but somehow necessary, groups.
Accusations leveled against members of these groups included: rape; hubris; theft; violence; anything that could be used as an excuse to punish some members or individuals. It was hoped that this would harness the remainder to a yoke of fear immobilizing them socially, keeping them trapped in a space of irrelevance. These events happened with great frequency and were sanctioned by members of the white elite and lower classes.
One particular form these public punishments would take on is particularly interesting. Sometimes, in rural america, when a lynching was about to be initiated, the entire town would come out. Schools and businesses would close for the day; everyone would come out to participate. Cookouts, musical entertainment, religious services would occur on site. While bodies were tortured and lives taken, local residents congratulated and celebrated themselves on maintaining the social order.
The question then remains: what are the effects on our present of these acts of the past. as a project were lynchings successful in their aims. And not lastly, but sufficient for the purpose of my work, with the project of lynching mostly starved out by shifting social value systems does the project continue on ’til this day, masked or transformed so as to hide itself from our discernments and continue on invisible to our senses.
“What are the effects on the present these acts of the past”
An obvious answer to the first question is the endurance of skin color-based distrusts. Whites (male) still hold the greater hegemony and many darker-skinned folks and same complexioned women find themselves distrustful of their continued rule. Even as members of these ‘lower classes’ find themselves exercising more power with in their continuously evolving enfranchisement they still voice concern, resentment and anger at the actions of the white elites. Even as they begin to rise and participate in the class actions of these elites and in turn turn their backs on their former communities in their desire to rise out of their own socially constructed straits (‘poverty,’ racism,’ misogyny,’ ‘genocide, and etcetera).
“As a project was the lynching successful in its’ aims ?”
The last observation leads us to direct confrontation with question two: was the vigilante justice model of the lyncher successful? many would point out the success of minorities post the civil rights era as a rebuke against its efficacy. minorities have risen to lead multinational corporations and participate at the highest levels of national policy making. Some are considered amongst the finest american role models for their intellection and academic prowess where before they were considered no capable of such feats as a dog who would learn
to count. Black americans in particular have become amongst the most notable cultural exports for their contributions to the global entertainment enterprise as musicians, wordsmiths, artists, dancers, athletes and fashion icons.
But buying into and participating in the citizenship franchise is not to be equated only with liberation and freedom (a manumission) from social isolation, constraint and domination. (In many ways) it is the method of this liberation that should have us hesitate and reconsider our immediate response, our answer.
In moving out of those undesirable locales many individual turn not just their backs on their former communities leaving them to their own fates, but some actually turn: new members of the franchise participate in the oppressive tactics of their former trespassers. Chastising the poor for their methods of speech and survival; harassing, condoning and encouraging violence against women and sexual minorities, these newly embraced members of america’s transforming cultural elite repeat the the repressive tactics their forbears withered and suffered under. Let’s not make a mistake here by crudely stating that these people have ‘become white,’ an impossible task, but rather that they have come to see themselves as distant masters.
This self-perception of ‘distant master’ is what allowed and allows the dominant culture to not convulse into immobilization with guilt from its crimes. Racism and misogyny, nationalism and collectivism allow us to say that ‘we’ are not ‘they.’ Pride in those ephemerals allows us to know that ‘we’ are superior to ‘them.’ These divisions allow us to stand at great remove from our fellows and justify our actions against them as just and necessary. Not only for maintaining social cohesion and order, but also to keep the underclass from giving into their ruling and basest desires and run amok destroying, raping and pillaging everything in its wake.
French philosopher Michel Foucault in a radio interview with young marxist students who had taken a factory manager hostage in a revolt against working conditions of the french poor reminds them that they must be careful in their revolutionary zeal not to repeat the actions of their oppressors. That is a warning that all too few heed on their ride ‘out’ of poverty and ‘into’ the benefited society. That is a warning of suitable challenge for us all.
‘Does the project of lynching continue to this day yet invisibly?’
The third question is the only one difficult to answer. How does one show that which was once so evident: that the question of its existence has evolved to such an exalted state that it has been rendered invisible? That a societal function once writ so large in contrast against every day life has instead become its language? Can i convince you to consider my argument that the lynching project has ceased as a mechanism of interventionist minority control and has become business, big business, and business as usual.
This is not an ellipse back to my answer to the second question; this work is not for the lazy. My perception is that the manner in which we conduct the business of poverty here in the u.s. is the silent continuation of the lynching project. When acts of great violence are perpetrated against our wicker man victims, donald byrd in texas, matt shepard in colorado, everyone who gets raped or beaten (especially the systematic ones), the continued existence of Indian Reservations, the expanding presence of our prisons, the renewed vigor of our economic disenfranchisement of our poorest citizens, then they are generally perceived to be unjust. But very little is done about it to stem their further occurrence and far too often the opposite transpires: minorities calling for the murder of queers and the subjugation of women and, in a conversation i had with a poor person of pale complexion on a long bus ride:
“i don’t care if they have casinos on the reservation as long as i get my cut…”
appalling actions and statements to be sure, but still not subtle enough to back my argument on point number three. Or are they?
stumbled across this photo recently.
this is just a distraction from what’s posted below.
seems like a good idea to keep a low profile on the normal madness that i litter this thing with now that grant gifting orgs may well be climbing all over me soon. i’m not going to take anything down; i’m not ashamed of my work. it’s too far into the game for artists to be distracted by petty notions like shame and embarrassment.
if you’re going to do it you might as well enjoy it and be proud.
it’s not as if we can take anything back.
and why would anyone want to.
if anything the persecutor should learn to forgive, embrace and relax.
it’s probably of the finest causes for the rampaging amount of boredom that swathes this city.
hell, i just spent my friday night curled up with a good history book reading about how jesus was probably a mystery school initiate and john the baptist was the true hero of the gospels. modern day gnostics. i love ’em.
yesterday, in lieu of sleeping, i practiced my patanajali exercises. you know the ones. you start off listening to your heartbeat,
but inside your chest cavity with with a practiced ear. slowly you allow your senses to expand and take in the sound of blood moving through veins and lungs rising and collapsing. eventually, you’re at the threshold of the skin listening to static magnetic hairs sway. then you do the big thing and move out. listen further and further from the body. probably the most fun meditation for a musician out there.
yeah, i skipped a friday to hang out with jesus. but then it did seem like the appropriate thing to do. it was leap day remember? and everyone was trying to come up with cool things to do as commemorative genuflection. at the bank of america where i gathered some pennies from the vault, the very cute teller explained to me that all the ladies there were wearing ties and matching blue sweaters. not my idea of a lot of fun, but who am i to argue with a lack of progress? i wanted them to just give away free money, of course. i asked, too. you never know. it’s the end of the 4 year span; anything can happen. as it was i left a little richer, but only because i’d earned it. where’s that free lunch i ordered a while back?
but what is a person supposed to do? my friends josh and ginger looked at the last thing i slipped in here, ‘sense of being,‘ and proclaimed it boring, beneath me, and chided me further by proclaiming the entire concept of blogs “retarded.” that is a fine and admirable take form a couple of very smart hipsters out in brooklyn. and i listened to them, too. not that i paid any attention. i love the post; i want to do more just like it. and it is hard to take criticism on the deployment of mass media from a guy who used to do pirate radio. god josh, how seventies. how off the london shore. how Voice Of America.
someone else accused me of rampant narcissism. wow. i wasn’t sure what to make of that. i’m still not. i’m an aries though: we don’t respond well to criticism.
look, i’m writing this to put space between the two articles. if you want to see it and that’s why you’re here then by all means scroll down. but i hope you’re of age and not someplace where looking at those photographs will get you terminated. that’s right… you have been warned. and if it does offend you then please go talk to a spiritual advisor. no more strange and viscerally peculiar letters of retribution. i’m saving them. i’m going to make posters of them for the exhibition.
p.s. i don’t know who took this glamor shot, but i would love to give somebody credit.
my god, what a week it’s been. i finished writing my grant proposal for my massive secret art project friday. when i turned it in to the artists trust the very cool heather joy who runs the shop was there to greet me. unfortunately, i hadn’t eaten in a few days and hadn’t really slept in a week so i just smiled, said thank you, flashed ’em as winningly as possible and walked back out sans the application.
as i walked down the street i started crying. exhaustion. emotional and physical. i have never written a grant myself before. it’s sort of… stressful.
what i really wanted
was a drink.
so i called my friend angela who was kind enough to have kissed me thru last friday night’s depression. and we decided to meet at the six arms, home of the cutest bartender in the city. and the ruby ale that i love to drink whenever i go there.
on the way i saw a ‘buy obama!’ sign. wait. sorry. ‘VOTE obama!’ sign.
it was liberally flanked by a couple of ‘ron paul’s.’
i’m not sure why, but this just sort of disgusted me.
i hate the presidential campaigning/office in this country the way that some people deplore the commercialization of X-MAS or the psuedo-pathology that is valentine’s day.
hate it hate it hate it.
generally, i just spew in my head and pray that no one will ask me why i think it’s better to not vote. it can be so difficult to explain what a sham the whole thing is to people who honestly should know better.
one of the more common refrains i hear is, ‘but won’t it better if a democrat wins?’
like it was so cool the last time one of those guys was at the helm of our rudderless waterbucket.
remember how nicely the economy turned up? and people were happier? weren’t they?
unless they were poor and getting thrown off welfare or living in the balkans or wishing for some real sovereignty (nafta? the gatt?).
and i am refering to personal sovereignty, not nation status. come on, you have a philosophy degree; you can, therefore, follow what i am saying.
so i saw those 3 signs: Paul-Obama-Paul
and the first thing i wanted to do was to kick them out of the ground.
just stomp them into oblivion.
but the folks who had placed them were still there.
and they were looking at me funny because i probably looked so hostile.
and i had just stopped myself from attacking their less-than-handy-work.
oh, but i wanted to, though…
i got home the next day (don’t ask, but yes, mother i am still a virgin) and collapsed in front of my trusty laptop all thoughts of the presidency gone from me like monkey shit tossed between the protective bars of the cage of the supra-simian mind (uh. that’s us i’m referring to there). i collapsed i tell you, i co-lapsed. and stared into my laptop to check out digg and metafilter because i am stupid and they are my television.
and i found those wretched videos of hillary and obama.
what the hell was will.i.am on when he thought that his obama video would actually be anything other than pablum? i mean i know that his black eyed band of peas is sub-vile, but did he really have to try and go all wycleff-honest on us? you look stupid in the hat will; take it off. and that speech is not the next i have a dream, is it? shit. maybe it is. literacy levels have been dropping like infant mortality rates in the western hemisphere.
so i did something weird after i watched that obama video: i watched a hillary song and dance routine. i posted them both at the bottom of the whatever technical term applies to these entries. i can’t speak on the hillary piece. it is sublime in it’s ichor. i suppose that all of us who loathed ET for it’s stomach-turning depiction of a world that had only ever inspired feelings of rage and no impotence (practiced miscegenator, here) would notice that there was a form of subcutaneous information sharing happening here. no, no, i really, really can’t speak on that here. it’s just too stoopid, hillary.
on a lighter note i fell in love this past week…
obama will i am video
hillary i am not video