Notes From The Flip Side: 06.20.2004
"People with intelligence will use it to fashion things both true and false and will try to push through whatever they want with their clever reasoning. This is injury from intelligence. Nothing you do will have any effect if you do not use truth."
A Small Change To The Site.
It occurs to me that the content on this site changes and that people sometimes link to it. When that content moves, their link doesn't break but it no longer leads people to the content of interest. Thus, starting today, all of these updates will include the permanent link in text and link form on this page.
And How Does This Make You A Patriot?
Lori Haigh, you're a hero. You're my new favorite person, possibly even more favorite than Avi Rubin who had the guts to point out - in clear, concise English instead of jargon - how fundamentally flawed current electronic voting systems are. Lori, you have guts. Moxie. You have something that is sorely lacking in America today - the courage to dissent. You displayed art which posed a set of questions - a cipher which required parsing - at your gallery, Capobianco.
And for your troubles, some coward punched you in the face. Someone else spit on you. And that's overlooking the trash on your doorstep and the eggs thrown at your windows. I'm so proud to live in a country in which grown men feel that it's their duty as a citizen to engage in this behavior, in which they feel that beating up another American makes more sense than wondering why it's appropriate to punch people at all.
I'm used to artists challenging the status quo - that was part of the point of a very simple and touching movie called "Pleasantville." If you haven't seen it, I highly recommend it because it deals with similar issues. Pablo Picasso's "Guernica" also dealt with war; however, he was somewhat more muscular and I doubt that anyone would have thought to take a swing at him. And I shudder to think at the results if someone had reacted thusly to Iannis Xenakis.
So let's hoist our glasses to all the patriots who support the war and try to stifle dissent and critical thinking by beating up women. Let's toast their America ... and let's get this fucking wake started properly ... and promptly.
Woke up before 5:30 a.m. today - the dog was whining. The AP wire, as usual, is filled with great news, including the data that one in six people between 18 and 24 are not working or in school. That's 3.8 million people who have no sort of vesting in, to paraphrase Daniel Quinn, the way things are or the process by which those things came to be this way. So honestly ... how included do you feel in this country? What do you have to lose if things remain the same and what sort of employment might you be drafted into if things remain as they are? And, perhaps more importantly, what might you gain if things change?
A recurring theme this year is that I feel disconnected from America and this is not something limited to people aged 18 to 24; while I remember being 24 (and not too fondly), it's been a while since I've seen it. I feel disconnected because there are only a handful of people who seem to be speaking my language anymore, because the discourse has degenerated into the shrill howling and shrieking of evil selfish banshees and demagogues who want to win a war that scorches the earth and gouges chasms from the soil such that building a bridge across them will never be possible.
One of the few people speaking my language these days is Kurt Vonnegut. While you've probably already read this, it's worth reading again.
Another One Bites The Dust.
Many years ago, I stumbled across the saying that one should not speak poorly of the dead. And then I found the saying which counters it and notes that one owes nothing but the truth to the dead.
Greg Palast recently wrote a tremendously honest assessment of Ronald Reagan. Since everyone is mourning the Gipper, it falls to others to make sure that the stake is where it should be and that the coffin is firmly nailed shut. While it's true that Reagan's actions may have contributed to the fall of the Berlin Wall, it's equally true that his administration was one of the more crooked ones in history. It's also equally true that his legacy continues to this day, including people who acted on his behalf - like Donald Rumsfeld. We aren't free of his long shadow yet. I can only hope that the day in which the darkness begings to subside comes soon.
For me, it all boils down to a practical level - El Mozote. If you're really interested, Born Against did a song about it. And, as everyone knows, song lyrics are the only place where punks ever really learn anything. None of us ever read books. None of us bother to learn history. None of us think about anything beyond who signed to a major label. We merely dream away our days with the idea that buying an Aus Rotten record and wearing a back flap constitute radical gestures ... until we finally grow up and decide that buying in isn't selling out.
Except for those who are still mapping out another way.
The long and short of it is that the ends do not always justify the means and that training psychopaths to murder women and children and giving them weapons to do it is a bad idea. Supporting dictators who profess to hate communism while gassing their own people is a bad idea. And sending the CIA out to train people who are fighting our enemy at the time has also proven to be a bad idea ... while the Soviet Union may be out of Afghanistan now, it no longer exists and the people who fought it have turned their CIA training on us. I keep reading conservatives who talk about honor, who comment on integrity. I can only wonder how they (and progressives for that matter) manage to keep their blinders on so tightly. After all, it seems only too simple that politicians may begin wanting to help people but wind up only wanting to stay in power.
And this is why I'm not sad that Reagan is dead. This is why I won't cry when another politician dies. This is why I'll save my tears for Ray Charles, because at least he made me feel a little bit better about all this shit.
Know Your Rights.
The word out of Guantanamo Bay is simple: keep your mouth shut.
So Honestly, If It's Really That Bad, Why The Fuck Do You Even Bother?
Because I can listen to Dntel's "(This Is) The Dream Of Evan And Chan" on repeat at dawn and challenge you to find a better song. Because I can go drive for hours and not see another person out here. Because waking up at 5:30 a.m. sucks but this time of day is simply gorgeous. Because I can get my morning espresso and start the day off with smiles and laughter. Because I can go to bed with my girlfriend and realize that I learn more about her - and, consequently, love her more - every day. Because I can come home from an exhausting day at work, put my bag down and get a kiss and a hug from a little girl who's happy to see me. Because she needs someone who's on her side. Because joy exists and abides and will persist, in spite of whatever may come to pass. Because fear, dread and misery are my enemies and I still have some life left in me. And because I haven't laughed enough yet.
Off The Top Of My Head ...
- Seriously, why the fuck does my Web site show up on so many random searches? Open Heart Surgery is listed on various cardiology sites. Some of my news updates have shown up on filters for concrete mixing and online pharmacies. My personal favorite is that some engines include my site on searches for porn stars (namely Brianna Banks and Jenna Jameson) and tit fucking. It just goes to prove that if you write often enough and long enough, some dumb monkey of a search engine will eventually transform your writing into something you won't even recognize. In the meantime, all I intend to do about this is laugh.
- And plan to buy this simply fucking awesome collection of Fugazi live shows.
- We've gone from remixes (Slate did an outstanding article on the history of the remix) to mash-ups to doing album covers that never existed ... and as brilliant as remixes and mash-ups can be, the last one is fucking amazing.
- A Softer World. Yes.
- Are you so fucking free that you can fly yet? The Iraqtastic day for handing over power is coming up soon! I bet it's going to be totally awesomely Iraqtacular! But seriously, will there be anything left to govern by July 2?
- I'm still going through old Chopping Block strips.
- Am I ever going to actually finish any of the books that I'm reading? In the time most of these books have been up here, I've read a substantial number of other books - but what about those neglected volumes at the bottom of the page? Only time will tell.
- The new Communiqué is absolutely, stupidly good. I feel so '80s that I could bleach my hair and swoop it up to the sky while doing one of those sliding, gliding dance moves that Aidan Quinn did in "Reckless" ... utterly awesome.
Added new reviews.
Dntel. The Weakerthans. In Flames. Communiqué. The Jack Palance Band. Xiu Xiu. God Forbid. Rocket From The Crypt. The Aluminum Group. The Teeth. Owen. Hüsker Dü. The Chromatics. Desaparecidos.
"The Hidden Fortress"
Paul Avrich, "Anarchist Portraits"; Bertrand Russell, "Why I Am Not A Christian"; Umberto Eco, "Island Of The Day Before"; Alan Lomax, "The Land Where The Blues Began"; Peter Guralnick, "Lost Highway" and "Sweet Soul Music"; Thomas Wolfe, "You Can't Go Home Again"; Steven Heller, "Graphic Design History" (edited with Georgette Ballance); Gunnar Swanson, ed., "Graphic Design And Reading"; Daniel Guerin, "No Gods No Masters"