6/10/17

Alone With Each Other

A side effect of people spending more time online is that many of our interactions with each other are looped back again through ourselves. By reading what other people say through text, or engaging one another indirectly through likes and shares, we're extrapolating fine details of socializing with others as they pass through our own internal filters. The result is that, in a way, we're alone with ourselves even as we engage with others. You can be alone holding a phone, while texting to another person. They're there. Your'e there too. But really, you're alone with them, without them being there. You have to make up for them not being there in real life. And you make up for that by being there for them in your own mind... Like the dinosaurs in Jurassic Park, we fill in the genetic code of their absence with our own genome. Hence, perceptual bias/greater reflection is required to communicate correctly in their absence. We have to evolve ourselves to stay connected to each other.
Our internal state of mind factors into the way in which we see what other people communicate. And so the context of their words can very easily be confused. This is a blockade of reflection as much as communication. This is a limitation of us all. The manner in which we're communicating online requires a greater sense of self and conscientiousness of others. We don't communicate well enough to communicate right now. So we graft to memes or the person who wrote the best blog about something. Our identity therefore is a compiled plethora of externalized reflection shared openly with the world. But, even then... we're alone. Sharing is being openly shared in private, and then publicly liked in solitude, only to be discussed secluded by ourselves, with one another.
Talking on the phone was different. You could hear people--get a sense of their feeling without interpreting that feeling through yourself. Face to face, you're looking right at them--they're right there.. But this?... constantly engaging with people indirectly... We're alone with each other. And it's pushing us together as much as it's pulling us apart. The only way forward is to adapt. Not only how we communicate with each other. But who we are as individuals those rare moments nowadays when we really are alone with ourselves.

7/7/16

Silent Oppression

Police reform is never voluntary or socially encouraged by those who benefit from the abuse of power. Because of this, it can only be reached by unwavering social pressure. In point of fact, police reform (in all levels of law enforcement) is the single greatest issue that needs to be addressed to be able to combat systemic corruption all over the world. 
For generations, excessive power and privilege has been handed to law enforcement--facilitating and cultivating a propagandized patriotism for any and everyone in uniform. But a badge does not make someone a hero just for wearing it. A uniform does not make someone a hero just for wearing it. And a country of officers that stands behind these symbols more than the citizens they've sworn to protect is sorely in need of real heroes, expansive/sweeping-police-reform and zealous moral indignation at the continuing lack thereof... Honestly, how in the fuck can any self-respecting officer in this day and age NOT speak out and demand internal reform? How can they NOT give voice to the victims who have senselessly died because of this disregard for human life? And how can they prioritize pensions and careers to the ongoing criminality of their own fucking work place?
If I were a half decent person working in a criminal environment at the very least I'd quit. If I were a good person, I'd speak out--vehemently!!! I'd say we all expect officers of the law to be, at the very least, half decent people. Their silence says otherwise. Their silence speaks volumes. Good cop or bad cop, if you stay silent, you side with the bad.
Only police protests driven BY officers can facilitate genuine reform. And only citizens who refuse to support the favourability of those in uniform can help influence a transition away from corruption to one of fever pitch criticism and impeachable moral standards. An officer is not an officer simply for wearing a badge--he is one for upholding moral integrity and dignity at all times. Otherwise, they're criminals wearing badges. Not necessarily for breaking the law, but for helping cultivate a status quo that is lenient to those officers who do.
It's not as simple as 'fuck the police'. It's as simple as 'fuck the police who stay silent'.
So, dear police officers,
On behalf of basic moral integrity in the face of a broken system that incubates and encourages corruption: Quit. Speak out. Stand up. Risk your careers. Risk your safety nets. Be the heroes people expect you to be. Or continue doing nothing and remain unable to do your jobs by keeping them as they are. The choice is yours. But know that it will become increasingly difficult for you to think of yourselves as heroes simply for wearing badges. People are beginning to see you for the criminal organization that you are, whether you're able to admit it to yourselves yet or not.

9/27/15

Queen Niqab

Dear fellow 'non-old-stock-citizens',
When I got my Canadian citizenship after living here for 14 years, they made everyone in attendance pledge allegiance to the queen... of England... seriously! Which, morally, I was utterly opposed to. So, instead, I said 'Queen Latifah'... 
I find it odd that, despite this glaring, unnecessary, moral imposition that regularly takes place during the citizenship ceremony, people are now going even further and throwing a fuss about the 'validity' of a citizen who covers their face to, quite reasonably, stay true to their individual beliefs and values. The same beliefs and values supposedly granted to them to freely practice in the country they are becoming a citizen of! All this, once again, while ignoring the hypocrisy of being forced to swear allegiance to a long outdated imperialistic-bloodline-monarch from another country, who holds no rightful bearing in this one, or for that matter, her own.
Any 'royalty' need abdicate the throne to be truly progressive--not to mention releasing their tentacles from their previous 'properties' and ill-gotten-acquisitions. Any 'free country' need grant the freedoms it purports to be genuine. And any engrained inherent conservatism within the citizenship ceremony itself is a fundamental betrayal of the values we as Canadians so arrogantly boast about and yet so often fail to uphold.
Long live the Queen but you can't wear a Niqab? Fuck that. Long live Queen Latifah and wear a Niqab anywhere you damn well please. Welcome to Canada, sorry about all the idiots.
Since, Teace

7/18/14

Destiny

Destiny isn’t written. It’s in the writing. Everyday, one moment at a time. A chance encounter, a mysterious sequence of events, an uncharted course on an open horizon. Days are grains of sand. And night sees them fall through the hourglass, forming mountains of memories as we swing on the spiral. The purpose isn’t to reach a destination, it’s to reach out. To grow. Explore. Expand. Evolve. To feel your pulse quicken and your heart beat. Chase dreams. Risk being uncomfortable. And know that everything will be alright. Because you’re a part of something greater than yourself. And you become greater the more you’re a part of it.

The common cliché that everything happens for a reason isn’t quite true. The truth is, everything happens and we reason why that might be. The bigger picture is more than we can see. The larger purpose is more than we can guess. And the part that chance plays in it all is like a jester jousting. Truth is, everything happens for a reason, but chance doesn’t reason.


Intuition is the key. Wisdom is the safe. And where one meets the other, both are rewarded. Nurture the journey or risk it all and fall. Do both. Through the clouds to the stars and back again. That’s the path. For however the sun falls on the horizon, however the mountains gleam, know that chance will unsettle any course or path through time but that which you can never know. No time. No guarantee. No fate but what you make. And know destiny.

10/15/13

Fires of Adversity


Some of us aren't like the rest. We were born dreamers. Insisting on living outside of the box. Insisting on ignoring the rules. Some of us have had to study how to appear normal. We’ve had to learn to be bland, learn to be obedient and, most of all, learn to be quiet. Some of us have had to master hiding who we really are underneath. Fake smiles. Counterfeit complacency. Sheep’s clothing cut for our conscience not a wolf. The truth is, that in this world, for some of us, it’s not a descent into madness that has plagued our lives, it’s the descent into what this world regards as sanity. 


True madness is bigger than one man. True madness takes a society to realize. But when you only see society as flocks of sheep, you never realize how many have simply learned to appear that way. How many might be hiding under the veil of that society, waiting to unsheathe themselves and live freely—to live for what they want to live for. The world can surprise you. And in the thralls of change, more and more people will stand up to both who they’ve been convinced they are, as well as those around them that have reaffirmed the mirage, and the shackles of this society's expectations that have weighed on us all. In the thralls of change, anything can happen—but it has to happen inside of us first. The slow process of waking up, finding yourself, seeing past the illusions and knowing the truth. To grow in fires of adversity and extinguish the flame. Because while those of us born different may have had to learn to be invisible in this world, in times of change, it falls on all dreamers to be seen and to change the world.

9/10/13

Syrian Resources Trump Global Morals


From a geopolitical standpoint, 1500 people dying from chemical weapons in Syria is an appetizer to greater brooding conflicts, all of which directly surround the resources in the middle east and Africa. There's no such thing as morality when everyone has their hands in a resource-cookie-jar built around explicitly murdering, manipulating or exploiting entire countries for the sake of stealing or controlling resources.

Thus, no one can very well step in to intervene on the moral high ground against this injustice when the very precedent for the conflict and the framework for continuing to acquire said resources globally is implicitly nefarious and depends on constant warfare and exponential military growth to function. That's the market. And the G20 controls the market.

Yes, chemical weapons are a red line that shouldn't be crossed. But because it's a red line drawn overtop so much spilled blood that it's not fully seen for the violation of humanity that it is--instead, it's more like a continuation of our decent. I mean honestly, we're in the third world war already, but nobody wants to admit that it's about resources and market shares rather than principles and humanity.

4/9/13

Eulogy To No-One-In-Particular


I didn’t know no-one-in-particular particularly well, but I do have a few words to say about them after hearing the news of their untimely, or otherwise completely expected, demise.

Firstly, they will be missed. Or not. By people who actually made a point of showing they cared about them while they were still alive. Or not. They will be thought of fondly. Or not. And will live on in our memories. Or not. But for now at least, we’ll all pretend like that’s the case and match one another’s solemn expressions and hallowed words of the recently deceased’s nostalgic footprints. This will be done mostly through the telling of redundant stories or buried feelings that only in death do we fully celebrate bringing to life.

No-one-in-particular was a good person. Or not. And inspired in those around them an elaborate list of very positive things that would be either gross exaggerations or flat out laughable to say while they were still alive. Depending on how wealthy they were, and how close we were, I may or may not take it upon myself to give an extra shit about the loss of them in the company of others less likely to have been included in their will. I do this both out of social obligation and the hope that karma only pays attention when I’m feeling guilty about dead people leaving me things and living people resenting me for those things that I now own.

Anytime I see a photograph of no-one-in-particular I will feel a stabbing glimpse of my own mortality and then sweep it under the rug of denial that is middle age through senility. Depending on how close we were I may or may not reflect on my own life after hearing about their death. I may or may not change my life after hearing about their death. Family could suddenly become more important to me. Perspective on what’s really important in life may finally make itself clear. But one thing’s for certain. After the death of no-one-in-particular, no one in particular will be able to live the same way they used to. And as age chips away the tender flesh of our lives and leaves us scarred and wrinkled from it’s experiences, one day, we too will become quite particular about the idea of no-one-in-particular.

12/11/12

Thanksgiving in Retrospect


One afternoon, my friend and I walked fifty odd blocks through Manhattan to reach the home of an old friend who had been gracious enough to invite us over for thanksgiving dinner. The guests of the evening included: Two elderly white gay men, an elderly black German actress, one Jewish male neighbor, One black middle aged insurance executive and my friend and I, both of whom are straight, middle class and white. It was a relatively diverse gathering of people who weren’t particularly intertwined in their lives or familiar with one another as a group. And yet, despite our differences, as miniscule and irrelevant as they were, we came together to celebrate the occasion and share one of the strangest thanksgivings I’ve ever had.

            Obama had just won his re-election campaign and the country was either beside itself with joy, devastated to it’s very core, or fully aware of the fact that the political process within the US is just a puppet show to perpetuate the illusion of democracy. Of those present, myself, my friend, the Jewish neighbor and the two elderly gay men, we were all, more or less, of the same political exasperation regarding the recent pointless-election. However, both the elderly black actress and the middle aged black insurance executive were extremely happy that Obama had won. I asked why? What has Obama ever done for the black community while he’s been in office? And, apart from an ‘anything but Romney’ mentality, how could anyone condone his betrayals over the past four years? I too had once foolishly believed in and voted for the man. But, despite my naivety and false hope, the reality of his corruption and lapdog nature to corporate and financial interests, had since left me disillusioned—had since left me aware of what’s really happening.

            And, so, it was on that note of ‘what’s really happening’ that I had posed my question of ‘What has Obama done for the black community?’ A question clearly targeted at race. For, prior to that point, and for much of the earlier evening, a debate had erupted between the Jewish Neighbor and the middle aged black executive about the contemporary state, and continued practice, of racism in America. About the fact that Romney had, suggestively run on the idea of ‘what America used to be’ of ‘bringing back the good old days’ of ‘with or without expressly saying it: telling white voters to vote for the white guy’. A deplorable and pathetic notion, not unlike the entirely of the man’s campaign. It failed. As it should have. And, for that, both the middle aged black executive and the elderly black actress, felt proud of their country—for being more multicultural—for evolving. That, ultimately, is what Obama had done for the black community, they said: “He managed to be black and get into the white house. That’s what he did for the black community.”

            The discussion continued and branched off. At various points people took some offense to what was being said, based on the various known differences between us. In a room full of the young and old, of Jewish, of gays, of blacks, whites, Europeans, Canadians, American’s, and nearly every variety of prejudice that exists in our world, we engaged in a serious discussion and debate about the matter. Because, as many of us emphasized, and as slowly became apparent through the progression of the subject, it is our prejudices and emotional strings that determine the electoral process nowadays, and, in doing so, obscures the very point of those elections—to nominate a leader, not a mascot.

            The elderly black actress told a beautiful story of being back in Germany in the seventies. She was walking down the street one day and noticed a little white German girl approaching her. The little girl seemed apprehensive for some reason, and, in response to her apprehension so too did the, then, young black actress. The two stopped before one another, sensing something was to be said. Then, to her surprise, the little white German girl leaned forward and stated in a slightly whispered tone: “Nigger”.

The black actress stood stunned, neither particularly offended nor provoked by the little girls statement. Just stunned. She took a moment and, eventually, responded: “Deutsche.”

The little girl recoiled, surprised and confused by what had just been said to her. She took another moment before responding again, slightly louder than before: “Nigger.”

The black actress maintained her composure, staring into the eyes of the belligerent little white German girl. She responded, as she had before: “Deutsche.”

The little girl clenched her fists and became noticeably upset. She leaned forward and once more, used the only tool at her disposal, her hatred: “Nigger!”

The black actress smiled, refusing to indulge the little girl’s emotional demands. She responded, once more, just as she had before: “Deutsche.”

At this the little girl deflated. Her anger melted from her eyes and she stood bewildered, slowly crumbling to tears. She covered her face and ran away, crying for her mother, scorned and embarrassed by her own contempt for those unlike her that she did not know, nor whom did she dare to introduce herself to.

                The elderly black woman finished her story and I smiled, sitting on the couch, appreciating her reenactment. Her point was well heard—racism only survives if you let it—if you feed it or foster it. Pass it through the generations or use it as a political tool for good or bad. Racism is a part of this countries history, one buried by half assed attempts to amend the damage it’s done, or, to pretend that it still doesn’t exist. But it does.

The middle aged black executive told a story too. During hurricane Sandy he had gotten lost in his girlfriends apartment complex, navigating the underbelly with a flashlight in complete darkness. In doing so, he had come across two black women, also lost from the confusion of the storm, and asked a question: “Excuse me. Do you know if there’s a stairwell around down here?”

The two black woman scowled at the middle aged black executive. They responded to his amazement: “Well, if you lived in the damn building you’d know, wouldn’t you?!”

The middle aged black executive was stunned, utterly stunned. He looked at the hatred in their eyes, listened to the contempt in their voices, and realized that despite the fact they were both black too, despite the fact that they were all in the same boat trying to navigate the storm together, he had just been labeled and discriminated against—he recognized their racism.

The Jewish neighbor told a story—an account of Martin Luther King Jr. being punched in the face by a racist white man. In the middle of his followers, in the middle of a heated racial era, a white man had walked up to Dr. King and punched him square in the face. To this, Dr. King, briefly tended his wound, took a breath and instructed his enraged and livid friends and followers to unhand the man and let him go free. For, after all, he is as much a victim of his hatred and racism as we are.

               By the end of the night, we had all either managed to mildly offend, inspire, or be mildly offended and inspired by one another’s words. We had all told stories, shared wounds, broken bread and enjoyed our thanksgiving discussing something genuinely important. At times, I was worried people wouldn’t keep their composure, or, that they might disagree so much as to consider one another enemies. At times, it got heated. At times, it got tense. But, despite that uncomfortable feeling of uncertainty that accompanies any substantial and honest debate, by the end of the night, our embraces and heartfelt goodbye’s were not marked with scorn or malice but rather a deep appreciation and love for having listened to one another—for understanding and valuing one another’s opinions. Because, although we may not like to admit it, racism is still very much alive in the United States and in the lives of it’s citizens.

              Ironically, that night made me reflect on the mythology of thanksgiving—of, long ago, a similar bringing together of divided people’s, through culture, custom, language and, race. To share a meal, break bread and, in doing so, mend wounds born from the differences between us by giving thanks to the ties that bind. 

9/18/12

Puzzles of Lies and Half Truths


I have supported Occupy Wall Street from day one. I believed, and continue to believe, that the people united can never be defeated; that the American Government and the international-banking-cartel needs to be held accountable for their criminal acts and lies of epic proportions. But, most of all, in the fledgling birth of the OWS movement and the sudden explosion of support that came to it after the horrifying conduct of one Anthony Bologna, I had hoped for the idea that a true democracy could be built on the shoulders of everyday people collectively reaching for the stars. There was momentum. There was promise. And, then, as there always has been, there was a blowback from the powers that be of such magnitude that it robbed the movement of it’s access to public grounds, it’s capacity to effectively reach the masses and it’s ability to continue forward without brutal repercussions, whether they be publicized or not.

OWS was not killed or disbanded. It was not crushed or forgotten. Instead, it was neutered and defanged. The spirit of the movement and the collective anger and frustration with political and financial corruption remains as strong as ever. However, the masses of cattle that are the politically complacent or viciously misinformed, which OWS had hoped to inspire, have not yet become so starved or agitated as to begin their stampede for justice. And, unfortunately, until they do, I believe that the OWS movement will fail time and time again—endlessly throwing themselves, without sufficient weight, against the still far too powerful arms of the contemporary American-police-state. Put simply, things will have to get much worse before there will be enough incentive for average citizens to wake up and fight back together.

Unfortunately, I believe that there is, in addition to the continued frustrations of those within OWS, other reasons for the stagnant progress as the one-year anniversary of it’s founding has now come and gone. I went down to Zuccotti park yesterday on the anniversary to talk to people for a few hours, both officers and protesters alike. Those in attendance varied greatly as has always been the case within the movement despite the mainstream media’s wishes to categorize it as involving only those on the ‘fringe’ or ‘without direction’. For, underneath the subtle nuances of each individual’s drive to collectively gather, I believe there is a unanimous desire to remove money from politics and return the power to the people. This is, by no means, the entirety of OWS’ demands or beliefs, but rather, an underlying component of the core disease facing America today of which people too often get caught up in debating the symptoms thereof.

I, as many of you already know, am fundamentally a 9/11 Truth activist. And while the 9/11 Truth Movement has been plagued by misrepresentation and internal division, equivalent to many of the problems facing OWS today, it remains in my mind, paramount to being able to understand the bigger picture of the geopolitical and economic stage. However, despite this clear and transparent truth to anyone who has invested the time in researching both the events of that day and the greater implications of corruption and lies as a result of said events, there remains, both within the current anti-war movements and the OWS movement, a visceral refusal to incorporate the puzzle piece of 9/11 truth and the phoney/deliberate ‘war on terror’, of which 9/11 was the catalyst for, into the equation of what is wrong with America. For, as is often the case with the truth, both the American government is keeping it’s citizens from seeing it, and, far more damaging, our patriotism as American’s is keeping us from believing it. Thus, until the collective will of the people is unsettled to their very core, until those who seek to stand up and fight for justice are informed in full and are able to pull the blindfold’s from their eyes and reveal just how deeply corrupted and nefarious those in power are, the underlying truth will be misdiagnosed in attempting to treat symptoms rather than the disease. The bigger picture of a puzzle, without the right pieces, is as misleading as the lies that have been told to keep us from discovering the truth. Until this changes, nothing significant will change. And while I continue to support OWS, I, and other 9/11 Truth activists understand how much worse it is than even their worst fears. 

3/3/12

Cognitive Dissonance


The avalanche of emotion, conjured by politicians and the media, by way of their countless lies and omissions, has all but buried the average man’s ability to wade through the depths of misinformation, or, think rationally about the direction we as a species are headed. Frankly, it’s starting to scare me. I don’t know how much longer people will be able to live in this world if the true nature of what’s transpiring in it is kept from them, either by the media, or their own foolish desire not to know—to remain ignorant and just not think about it. And that, ultimately, will be what paves the way for further violations of our civil liberties; for greater force, used against our ‘enemies’, both foreign and domestic. It is this compulsion, to ‘save ourselves’ and lie down in the face of oppression, that will, consequently, see us become oppressed, exploited, impoverished and desolate. And, if you think this is an overstatement, if you think the future of the industrialized world is nothing but a bright, sparking technological wonder in which everyman is a God and every God showers man with love and forgiveness despite the hubris of our society, and the blissful naivety that has allowed things to get this bad, then I’m sorry, but you need to wake the fuck up.

The slow creep of extremism from the far right has swallowed the fledgling cries of rational minds—silenced their pleas for progressive causes and legitimate change and, instead, has left them stunned and frozen in the wake of an ever expanding abyss of hatred and fear—alienated and ostracized, as if being a moderate intellectual has suddenly become synonymous with being in a freak show. Journalists are a dying bread. Instead, pundits plunder our hearts and fill our minds with bullshit more fit for tabloids than headlines. It’s suffocating us—it’s pulling the air out of our lungs and the truth out of our hearts. And, now, stranded under the weight of the avalanche we scream for someone to help us, to make it all better and protect us from where we find ourselves. But the truth is, only we can pull ourselves out of the abyss. Only we can stand up and fight for what we’ve taken for granted for so long. And only we can change the world before we’re buried under the weight of it.

As always, I retain some semblance of hope that mankind can recognize the error of its ways before it’s too late and change the course of history. But I am not so hopeful as to believe that we will do so before things grow far worse than they already are. I am not so hopeful as to believe that greed and power will fall broken at the feet of love and equality. They never will, for they never have. And, despite the luxuries we enjoy and the brutal past that we have endeavored to leave behind us, we are no better now than those who have fallen victim to similar fates in the pages of history. We the people are still we the people, just as those who have seen fit to assume power parallel infamous dictatorial figures, using the timeless tactic of emotional avalanche to crush descent and burry their opponents. And while many have managed to miraculously surface from the cold, dark, depths of ignorance and fear that would have seen them buried and forgotten, they, nevertheless, stand on uncertain ground poised to crumble beneath them if they so much as make a sound.

12/1/11

Revolution of Interdependence



The independent are no longer self-sufficient. Borders no longer determine the lines between what matters where and to whom, or who matters where and why. Instead, globalization has redefined the globe and, in the process, has rewritten it’s borders—leaving a new generation scratching their heads as they scour old maps that don’t include either the paths they find themselves on, or an accurate picture of the world they live in. It’s a strange sensation. To think that a planet bustling with 7 billion people is only six degrees of separation away from reaching common ground. And, yet, we the people can’t quite seem to make it; it’s as if all of our potential and all of our dreams are held just out of reach. And that struggle for power, for control and for having a voice, is what is happening right now on a globalized scale. Revolution is brooding. And to both those in power and those reaching for that power, the feeling of change is unmistakable. Though, to the everyday citizens caught up in this whirlwind, even while sitting on the sidelines, the massive protests and growing civil unrest may seem more reminiscent of chaos than progress, lest we forget: progress struggles out of chaos just as we the people can only progress so far without becoming chaotic. History repeats itself. But people have short attention spans.

Viva

6/3/11

Facebook for President


The internet changed everything. Simple things mostly. How easily someone can navigate a map or access information. How quickly a purchase can be made. How goods are sold. How services are provided. Music used to be controlled and filtered, now it’s free; now it’s with us all the time. Movies used to be owned and collected now they’re streamed, inhaled and ‘liked’. Videogames became social. Privacy became less private. Social networks put in writing the social circles that control our lives. We’re online everywhere. We’re connected all the time. We have the world at our fingertips. The web gave us a way to control how we navigate the globe—a way to have a voice anywhere about anything. The Internet changed everything. But what it gave us, more than all the things it changed, was a way to build a user friendly democracy. One where everyone has a vote and no one is elected to vote for them. Our voice is online. But until the paradigm of leadership shifts from the political arena to the public’s opinion, the voice of the people will not be heard. Facebook for president.

5/30/11

Time

Hell is an old man staring at a beautiful woman unable to touch or speak to her. Lost in his memories of the feelings and tastes of his former life, quietly disappearing in front of our eyes. Young people are all around, laughing and chatting, idling their time away. And the old man sits alone, quietly observing the room like a mirror of the future. But rather than look scorned and defeated by his solitude, the old man holds his chin up high. He delicately sips his coffee and peels his eyes away from the woman, thinking something so wise and profound that I can barely stand to be left out of the loop. I see myself in him. Every hard day of life will chisel away my youth and spit in the eye of my innocence until, like him, I’ll be wise and forgotten. Until, like him, I’ll be a man. I was wrong, hell is the naïve prison of youth. And I’m just old enough to grasp that.

5/2/11

Shame on US

In ancient Rome, the arena beckoned the celebration of death, demanded by a crowd hungry for the spilt blood of barbarians and gladiators. And as savage as the sights witnessed inside of the ring were, far worse were the cries of joy and jubilation from the crowd. Today I am ashamed of my country. Today the death of Osama Bin Laden has been made a spectacle of celebration and America has been made a mockery. The parallel between those who heartlessly cheered the events of September 11th and those who took to the streets to applaud the murder of this man seems to be lost on a populace convinced that justice is synonymous with revenge. For to celebrate the death of a man, no matter who he was, or what he did in life, is to lower ourselves to the level of terrorists. It is to present ourselves as animals, to conduct ourselves as children, and perpetrate a cycle of emotional decay and senseless brutality we so hypocritically have shunned our enemies for.


Of course, it doesn’t stop there. In fact, it gets worse. The mainstream media and it’s cluster of parrots masquerading as journalists have taken to deeming this event as the defining moment in Obama’s presidency. And while the day will be remembered, and the president’s involvement is historic, this day is also overtly the choice of those in power to define history as they see fit to write. For declaring that a presidency has been defined by the murder of a man is as much a statement of decrepit values as it is an admission of visceral ineptitude. Because despite the following occurring on president Obama’s watch: extension of Bush era tax cuts for the wealthy elite, his prolonging of the profoundly unconstitutional Patriot Act, raising the Federal Reserve’s debt ceiling (pending), failing to pass universal health care, permitting corporations to give endless untraceable political campaign contributions, failing to take a firm stance on don’t ask don’t tell, starting ANOTHER illegal war without the consent of the American people, torturing Bradley Manning, keeping Guantanamo Bay open, advocating a financial bailout of the very corporations responsible for the financial crisis itself, and countless other betrayals and lies, it is the act of sending other people to another country to murder a man deserving of a trial and cell, not martyrdom and immortality that has ‘defined’ a presidency. I am ashamed of my country. 

1/31/11

Santa Clause Exists

Santa Claus used to exist. I’d see him in the mall talking to kids, on billboards smiling and enjoying a Coca Cola. I’d even wake up on Christmas mornings to find only the crumbs remained from the milk and cookies I’d left out for him. Allegedly, he always knew whether I’d been naughty or nice, and the idea of him being an all-seeing-300-pound-fat-man with complete control of the presents I received, scared the hell out me. Fortunately, I suspected he had misplaced my file because every year he gave me presents not coal. Of course, I happily overlooked his mistake. I got everything I wanted even though it seemed like it was too good to be true.

The American government used to exist. I’d see it on the news and in my textbooks, filled with glorious pictures of heroic soldiers and dead presidents. I’d even wake up on 4th of July mornings to find packages of fireworks waiting to blow the crap out of my action figures. Allegedly, America always knew if a country had been naughty or nice, and the idea of it being an all-seeing-free-and-righteous-military-power scared the hell out of the bad guys in the world. Unfortunately, I suspected America was misunderstood because every year I'd hear people say it had been naughty not nice. Of course, I happily overlooked their mistake. America was everything I wanted and it seemed too good to be true.

The truth used to exist. We’d see it with our own eyes and hear it from the mouths of the people we loved and respected. We’d even wake up every morning, convinced that the world we lived in was free and democratic. Allegedly, people would know if their government was  corrupt, and the idea of it being controlled-by-the-wealthy-elite-who-murder-lie-and-exploit-for-profit, was about as likely as Santa Claus existing. Unfortunately, those people don’t see the world clearly because every year they continue to believe the lies. They happily overlook their own mistakes. They follow the doctrine of nationalism, locked in the same naïve trance as when they believed in Santa Claus. Their truth is too good to be true. 

11/17/10

Introverted Monsters Are Extroverted Liars

If you watch the mainstream news you’ve learned about America’s escalating debt and checklist of enemies. You’ve learned about hostile foreign regimes, terrorists, and natural disasters. Global warming, religious extremists, disease epidemics and criminals run wild. You’ve learned that a click of a button can bring you heartbreaking accounts of every kind of tragedy, neatly edited in between commercials of smiling people. But more than the gory details of the modern world and the posh template in which the news presents them, you’ve unknowingly learned a visceral and urgent lesson. Be afraid. And, if you can’t handle it, change the channel.

It’s hard to think that the most important part of democracy isn’t voting or our supposed bipartisan approach to governance, it’s the information provided to the citizens who elect their representatives. It’s hard to think that the most crucial war of our time isn’t being fought on the battlefield, it’s being fought over the airwaves. The media has more power than even the greatest military might. And though weapons are remarkably well designed to kill our enemies, and intimidate our allies, only propaganda can indoctrinate them.

But it’s when you turn off the mainstream news and start to independently research what’s really happening in the world, that you begin to see a chaotic correlation of absurd, profoundly audacious, mind blowing violations of the fundamental principals of our ‘free’ society. You begin to see what that news never showed you and the misinformation that has dictated your perception of reality. It’s when you turn off that news that you can follow the strings from the puppets, to their masters, and from those masters back to you.

The question is: now that five corporations control 80% of the news, is reality fact or consensus? Is our perception apt or senseless? Because when independent journalists, political activists, free thinking citizens and the countless victims of this corrupt system are omitted from the commercial airwaves and silenced by comparison to the mainstream media’s monopoly, the news isn’t the news, it’s an infomercial. Reality is for sale. And our democracy lies in shambles. We’ve created a monster and it’s how we see the world.

11/16/10

Femin-in-or-out-ism?

About a year ago I was on a date. The bar was crowded and the restaurant was full. I’d suggested the place for its attractive décor and convenient location and had selected the woman I was on a date with for similar reasons. Our conversation bobbed in and out of interest like a cork in water. And after a while of drowning in wine, we found ourselves discussing the matter of feminism and the state of North American women today. A topic that resonates differently, not only between men and women, but their varying cultures, environments and personal values. Three things I make a point of exploring at every opportunity.
   
        
An awkward pause came in our conversation as I began to suspect that we fundamentally disagreed on the matter. She was a woman in her mid-thirties who had seen her fair share of the world and the self-aggrandizing-men who parade about it. But despite the clear wisdom she displayed about the topic, a deeper conflict of interests had become clear in the way she spoke. So, devising a question to deliberately stir the conversation, I turned to my date and asked “Do you think women are objects?”
 
           
“Yes,” she eventually replied, staring through space as she genuinely considered my question.
   


“Well… you’re the first woman I’ve heard say so,” I replied, surprised by her answer. I took another sip of my beer and waited to hear her reasoning.
            


My date told me about a conversation she’d had with an attractive young woman while waiting for a male ‘friend’ to arrive at a party. This ‘friend’ of hers had an unusual profession of teaching people how to manipulate the minds of women. Needless to say, the beautiful woman, to whom my date was explaining this, was less than impressed by the prospect of her thoughts being reduced to nothing more than a checklist of ‘dos and don’ts’. The two later parted in the waves of the party and my date eventually met the ‘friend’ she’d been waiting for on her way out the door. However, she happened upon him in the midst of a conversation with the very same beautiful woman that my date had warned of his presence earlier in the night—the very same beautiful woman who was now woofully entranced by the man she had been warned of. 
           

“It doesn’t work on a 7, or an 8, or a 9. It only works on 10’s” she explained, detailing the inner workings of bombshell-beauties everywhere. “You have to give them insulting compliments.”
     


“What?”



“These women are so sick of being praised and adored by men that the only thing they respond positively to anymore is negative attention,” she continued, amused by the power-trip-beauty-queens she was describing. I smirked and massaged the neck of my beer—she was right—about the 10’s anyway.



Unfortunately, I don’t remember how the rest of the conversation played out because at this point I’d had too much wine. But I can see now that we were purposefully distancing ourselves from true feminism by focusing only on the women that society chooses to recognize most—the beautiful, the elegant, the cliché—those more likely to be successful sacrificing respect for superficial-adoration. And later that night, as I continued to think about what she had said, I realized that her story had answered my question in an indirect way—providing an unexpected insight into the question I had asked: Nowadays, women are objectified more than ever. Because feminism is out and sexual empowerment is in.


Montreal World Film Festival

There’s so much art in the world and not enough artists. There are so many posters of movies blotting out our exposure to films. But there’s no shortage of love for them all. The Montreal World Film Festival was the latest stop on my muddled career as an aspiring writer—a refreshing shot in the arm of culture and passion. Warm wonderful people walk the streets and crowd the theaters. And amidst it all are tales of brilliant, life-changing films scattered between the all too familiar cinematic-status-quo. The people I met, and the friends I made, are now cherished in my memories as our lives splinter to different corners of the globe. But what remains on the forefront of my mind is the wealth of emotion that, without festivals to celebrate it, would otherwise be obscured by our homogonous culture. I’ve always resented how hard I’ve had to look for art and how easy it is to settle for something else. But now, having seen that I’m anything but alone, it makes me think twice about art and look forward to looking for it again.
Special thanks to the Montreal World Film Festival and, especially, all the artists in the world.



Since, Teace


Hope

            I work ankle deep in concrete, manufacturing oil-seeking-knick-knacks for the devil. I’ve smoked my brain half way up my ass just to cope with the dreary-lifeless-void that is factory labor—working side by side with every kind of dreamer and nightmare. Like so many, I’ve sacrificed my life to make a living and volunteered to be slave. The dreams of workers like me aren’t quite dead but, if said out loud, they’d sooner be crushed under the weight of reality than realized in the wake of possibility. In spaces like this, no one can hear you scream, and, on this planet, we’ve been led to believe that no one cares. 

            Because when you strip away the petty luxuries of our consumer-hungry-lifestyles it reveals the bare bones of the industrial machine—the near unanimous discontentment of workers and the overwhelming feeling of being insignificant. 
But despite the hours I’ve lost, despite the fumes I’ve breathed and the frustration I feel, it is the hope for something better that keeps me from despair. It’s the idea of people reaching further and progressing forward that makes the air taste sweet no matter where I stand. 

            I refuse to believe that I am helpless. I refuse to accept the world as it is and the future that it marches towards. I see that there is so much power in our ideas, despite sometimes feeling powerless when that’s all I have. So, I grudgingly return to work and save monopoly-money for the day that I can quit. I think about and question a workers place in this world while planning my escape from it’s shackles—hope is my dream and I would sooner die than have it taken from me. Because in this decaying democracy, undermined by greed and ambition, even our heroes can’t save us without us. Remember, we are more than we’ve become.