I collaborated on an art project with StaZr – The World of Z. I hope you enjoy. This piece was inspired by H.R Giger’s Xenomorph. If you’re interested in seeing more artwork, follow me on Instagram @cool_stuffman.
I collaborated on an art project with StaZr – The World of Z. I hope you enjoy. This piece was inspired by H.R Giger’s Xenomorph. If you’re interested in seeing more artwork, follow me on Instagram @cool_stuffman.
Suttree is a dark book. At times it will make you outright smile. It was dragged out of the Knoxville swamps drenched with whisky, blood, spattered with semen. A catfish was said to have been dragged out with it. I followed the trail of broken tears, it lead me to this book. Shortly after we became drunk. A pool cue smashed my teeth. I woke up with a whore that was insane, and she gave me money. There was the smell of suicide on this scorching hot day. I will never eat that man’s watermelons again.
This book is largely devoid of plot. The long paragraphs of description may become a toil for some. At those times my eyes often ached with the long, beautiful labor. Yet, I kept taking and taking from this book and it was like the sea. I’m glad to have read it.
American Fascists: The Christian Right and The War on America by Chris Hedges, graduate from seminary at Harvard Divinity School and two decade war correspondent, points out the elephant in the room. Much of the country is aware of the extreme Christian Right’s agenda for dominating our government, education, private life, and foreign policy. In short, their aim is to turn the US into a Christian theocracy and thereby enforce a Christian global rule. Their buffoonish rhetoric would be laughable if it wasn’t for the significant influence they’ve seized. Hedges gives an in depth look into the inner working of the Christian Right. He attends conversion seminars, conventions, and interviews current and past members. His main argument is that the figureheads of the Christian Right are purposely distorting Christianity to serve their grab for raw power and institutionalize a Christo-fascist state.
The acceptance of Islamophobia, creationism as a viable science, and blurring definition between church and state are real victories of the Christian Right’s attacks on rational argument and a free society. The real importance of this book is that Hedges addresses the idea of tolerance. How tolerant should a free society be towards intolerance? The question is paradoxical. On one hand if we fully tolerate groups with a fascist agenda we risk having them ending our open society. Yet if we are intolerant and oppress their freedom of speech, then we will have ultimately lost.
Voltaire is quoted saying “I don’t agree with a word you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” Being that I have highly unpopular views, freedom of speech is a civil liberty I refuse to live without. For that reason I agree with Voltaire’s view of universal tolerance. But when a fascist group, be it the Christian Right or any leftist group, is actively trying to instill intolerance it will be our duty to never become passively tolerant. That is the reason I respect this book, it is a call for every anti-fascist person to realize there are fascist movements in this country and to stand up and denounce them for what they are, American Fascists.
“When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in an American flag and carrying a cross.”
– Sinclair Lewis
Why the fuck isn’t this being picked up?
I’ve often wondered about the necessity of war. True, if we hadn’t intervened in WWII the Nazi’s could have taken over. At the same time I have to acknowledge that the US government is guilty of committing and supporting its own atrocities before and after the war. And so I wonder what it means that one abusive superpower had defeated another. For example, we stopped Imperial Japan by committing one of the greatest atrocities in human history, the dropping of two Atomic bombs on large civilian cities which killed close to a million people in totality.
Perhaps it is human nature that there will always be war. This is especially true when we are taught to dehumanize at will, economic policies encourage the exploitation of weaker people, history is edited to produce a living myth, and people celebrate war rather than condemn it.
I do agree that abuses happen because good people do nothing. But I also think that our education system has greatly failed in teaching us the tools for becoming critical, independent thinkers and humane people. Thus we have a responsibility to educate ourselves. Especially in the US where information is for the most part free compared to the rest of the world. Pick up some Noam Chomsky, Howard Zinn, Thich Nhat Hanh, and as Bill Hicks puts it, “squeegee your third eye.”
Maybe we’ll never be able to END ALL WARS, but we can at least end all unnecessary ones committed on our part.
I picked up Give Me Liberty! because Gerry Spence’s How to Argue and Win Every Time greatly influenced me. I would have never read either of these books if it were up to me. First off Gerry Spence looks like some shit kicking cow boy that going to lecture me about how on how rope steer and read the bible. My wife bought, New York Times Bestseller, How to Argue and Win Every Time because she says I’m an argumentative person and wanted some inside tips on how to smash me. Ironically she didn’t end up liking the book, and I got a lot out of it.
In Give Me Liberty! Spence puts forward a bold statement: We are all slaves in an American era of neo-slavery in which the Government and Corporate world have merged together into what he calls “The New Master.” We all serve this non-person master that has gone out of control and is designed to burn up human life and the earth in the self-destructive quest for dead money. It’s sort of like George Orwell’s “Big Brother,” but nobody even knows it exists because we’re free, according to the never ending propaganda. For some people the premise will sound too outrageous to even be considered. But many others are becoming aware of the constant chipping away of their rights, of the government preference towards aiding corporations, and faulty rational for continuing the never ending War on Terror.
This book reads like the memories from a man who’s spent the better part of his professional life deep within the power system, the courts. Spence isn’t a shock jock media personality whose only credentials are the network’s blessing. Spence has been through the legal battles and has the track record to prove it. What I truly enjoyed about this book is that he instills a human feeling. He puts a face on the people affected by this abusive system. His ideas are radical as any of the championed counter culture figures, but since he doesn’t drop acid and jam out on a guitar, he isn’t as appealing. The spirit of the Enlightenment thinkers and Pamphleteers of Revolutionary America runs deep through his work. Spence is a true patriot, but first he’s a real human being.
When my brother and I were kids, we used to lift weights in the backyard. It wasn’t anything fancy, just a bench press and a few dumbbells. At the time, we lived in Madera, CA, which was hotter than the devil’s asshole. It was so hot that one day, I forgot to bring my radio back inside. When I finally remembered it later that night, the sun had literally melted the face. It reminded me of one of those Salvador Dali paintings with the melting clocks. My brother and I waited until sundown to do our weightlifting in the cool evening.
One day, my father called out to us, “Hey! Your mom needs help bringing in the groceries.” Neither of us were exactly jumping away from the Nintendo 64 to run to the car. Considering that it would be us both who would eat the majority of the food, my dad must have been a little pissed off to see us dragging our feet while grumbling about it. That’s when he looked at us and said, “You expect me to believe that you can lift all those weights but can’t pick up some grocery bags?” My father has a gift of calling bullshit with precise style.
Fast forward about 15 years. I’m watching the second presidential debate with my wife in our small Okinawan apartment. Obama and Romney are slugging it out, each trying to convince America the other guy is a complete asshole. I’m skeptical of what both politicians expect us to believe, but I tend to lean Democrat. The debate ends with Obama being the projected winner. Afterwards, I reflect on what a powerful nation we are militarily and the global influence that is derived from that might. I also get thinking about how downright shitty it is to be living back home. Isn’t that a weird contrast? Power house military, poverty house country. What the hell is that? That’s when the story of my dad popped in my head.
“You expect me to believe that you can lift all those weights but can’t pick up some grocery bags?”
That’s what I’m saying to the U.S. government. Both parties. You expect me to believe we can maintain almost a 1,000 military bases worldwide in 130 nations but you can’t take care of 50 states? Let me make myself clear that I’m criticizing the U.S. government and not our servicemen and women, who are slammed hard by these inadequacies. I’m sure Obama and Romney would have some sly response filled with nationalistic rhetoric that sounds like the right thing to say. But like my dad, who watched his two weightlifting sons bitch and moan about lifting a few grocery bag out of car, I call bullshit on every excuse they give. I’ve seen what our government is capable of doing, fixing America is not out of their reach by a long shot.
I suggest we begin a new campaign for the armed forces. We’ll send them into the worst ghettos in America and have them destroy all the shit-hole houses and embarrassingly old schools, then build a ton of new ones. Why stop there when there’s so much work to be done? We could prop bases that feed all the homeless people on the street, especially the countless who are veterans, and give them a hand to regain their shattered lives. This new military could take volunteers from all the Americans who have found a rejuvenated sense of patriotism. The government could even weigh in with the first real bailout in history, by restoring all those foreclosed homes lost by unchecked corporate greed. Unlike the last bailouts, which were more accurately an act of pillaging, let’s hold those we help responsible with a fair deal of, “we’ll help you if you help us.” That way we all become stronger.
You can look at my vision and laugh. Say it’s unrealistic. My question to you is, why? We’re the most powerful nation on the planet, why can’t we make this happen? And if it’s not a question of capability, but of political foot dragging, then maybe we should stir up some motivation. And if it has to do with downright corruption, then those individuals are traitors. Run them down like stray dogs and bring them to justice. What I am proposing is a return to our interests, the interests of ordinary Americans. You get what I’m saying?
The Black Power Mixtape 1965-1975 is one of the most spectacularly moving documentaries of radical American history released in 2011, and is sure to be like nothing you’ve seen before. The documentary is composed of film shot by a Swedish news crew following the Black Power movement through the socially explosive era of the 60’s and 70’s. The news reels sat forgotten in a basement archival storage for over 30 years until Swedish documentary filmmaker Göran Olsson brushed off the dust. His resulting work won a Sundance Film Festival award for editing.
What I enjoyed about this documentary was the style. Man, was it cool. It takes the revolutionary spirit of those times and makes it contagious. You can’t help but feel yourself get caught up in the sense of urgency. I do admit, I was tempted several times to throw up my fist. The original Swedish crew takes the viewer deep into the Black Power movement by visiting the Black Panther headquarters in Oakland, the liberation rallies, Harlem ghettos, and prisons, to show the period in its rawest and most unapologetic form. The interviews are charged with the turmoil of a society divided by racial violence. Some of the un-politically correct statements are sure offend some viewers. We get to hear directly from leaders in the revolution speak out for themselves in their manner that is so iconic to the 60’s and 70’s. There are appearances by civil rights giants such as Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, Huey Newton, Bobby Seale, Angela Davis, Eldridge Cleaver, and Stokely Charmichael. Angela Davis’s interview is undeterred despite being conducted while incarcerated. Her fierce intellect still has the passion and power to move even the newest generation.
Don’t expect a concise depiction of the Black Power movement. As the name implies, it is more of a mixtape highlighting the movement’s greatest hits. The soundtrack itself is a mixtape of the soul, funk, and jazz that embodied the era. While many critiques dwell on the lack of historical cohesion, they miss the point that this documentary is supposed to function similar to a time capsule. Either way, the Black Power movement is far too vast and complex of an American phenomenon to ever be explained in 100 minutes. Even the interviewees towards the end urge people to read because “Knowledge is king.” The only problem I had with the film was that the modern commentators were almost exclusively recording artist rather than political activist, social scientist, or university professors. Yet the film is never lacking in message.
The Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975 is a super stylish film that makes it fashionable to be intelligent again. It’s a motion picture scrapbook put together by this generation from the memories and history of another. This history is a troubled history, it will engage you directly. You can’t help but feel activated to continue the struggle for a more equal world. I hope you watch and enjoy this great documentary. Let me end this review by honoring all those in the fighting against fascism everywhere. Power to the people.
When I first saw the poster for Cabin in the Woods, I immediately expected another cookie-cutter horror movie. There’s been a trend in Hollywood of passing off supposed “horror movies.” Flicks that center on a group of Abercrombie & Fitch-type beautiful people. If you’re a true horror fan, then you know exactly the kind of garbage I’m talking about. The shame is that I’d actually love to see these airheads get butchered. I never bothered watching them because I know some gutless director will decide that right when the chainsaw is about to give Biff his worst haircut, it’ll be the perfect time for the camera to pull away. What kind of shit is this? I want to see buckets of blood and dump trucks of guts colliding with busloads school children then sprayed with a flamethrower. A lot of these new movies fail to fill in this void for me.
So I passed up Cabin in the Woods and filed it in my head somewhere near, “I’ll need to take a shit later.” Later, I heard from some reliable sources (my two stoner sisters and a friend) that Cabin in the Woods is chicken wings dipped in mescaline. Could it be, a new horror movie that doesn’t completely suck balls? I was hesitant, but I decided to roll the die and push play.
Cabin in the Woods opens up like a textbook generic not-scary, scary movie. A group of college students are preparing for a trip into the woods and you can point out their characters: “the jock,” “the slutty girl,” “the shy girl,” “the loveable stoner”–you get the picture. And off they go off in their RV. While all this is going on, there are some scenes of corporate douchebags up to something that gives you the feeling of Resident Evil’s Umbrella with The Office’s work staff. The group of college students reach the cabin and proceed to do what all college students do in every scary movie. The whole thing feels like such a worn-out cliché that I’m wondering if I didn’t get led astray. Then—the hot steamy shit hit the fan and sprayed all over my face!
During the entire “shit spraying phase,” I kept shouting, “This is so fucking cool!” Even my wife, who absolutely hates horror movies, had to ran into the living room (without a sandwich and beer, I’m still working on that) and actually watched the rest of the movie. I really got to hand it to the writer/director team, Joss Whedon (Dollhouse) and Drew Goddard (Buffy the Vampire Slayer). They understand not only what makes an awesome monster, slasher flick, but also satirize the whole “not scary, scary movie” trend in a surprisingly intelligent and effective way. The standout performance by stoner guy, Franz Kranz, and his “blunt” weapon of choice was hilarious. And, oh, man, the motorcycle scene is sure to inspire plenty of pointing and laughing.
I hope Cabin in the Woods is a smash hit in DVD sales so that the other writers and directors can finally get the memo that we don’t need another Scream/Twilight piece of shit. Since when did “cool” become “uncool” or the other way around? This movie settles the question and writes it in stone, “cool is fucking cool,” and don’t let anyone tell you different. Rent this movie, invite some friends over, bust out the collapsible bong, and have a have a kick-ass movie night. I’m definitely looking forward to more imaginative horror flicks like this one.
The footage above is of a riot at the Foxconn facility in Taiyuan, China on September 24th, 2012. It’s been reported to have started at the overcrowded dorm rooms (eight to ten people may share a room). The horrid working conditions have been driving workers to the edge. Several have even jumped to their deaths out of desperation, but instead of improving work conditions, Foxconn decided to go with suicide nets. I’m sure this was the more cost effective route.
The guards had been bullying the workers continuously. “Bullying” is probably an understatement because it was enough to piss off 2,000 Chinese workers into brawling with these pigs. So who’s the bad guys here? I personally enjoy watching riots and tend to root for the home team. The authority figures tend to come fully equipped with the latest in hippy bashing technology. This automatically gives them the edge, further encouragement would unnecessary and thus somewhat ridiculous. A rioter has think outside the box in order to turn everyday items into potential weapons. I am a fan of ingenuity. Not everyone sees it this way.
David Barboza and Keith Bradsher of The New York Times offered their probable explanation for the explosive anger turned riot.
“Disputes involving large groups of migrant workers are common in China. In some cases, workers protest after believing that they have been promised a certain pay package and traveled a long distance to claim it, only to find on arrival that the details are different from what they expected. In other cases, workers from different provinces with different cultural traditions coming together in a single factory have clashed over social issues or perceived slights.”
I think they could be onto something. Workers heard of good pay being offered for assembling world-famous Apple products, only to get there and find:
-Excessive overtime without proper compensation
-The occasional 24 hour work shift
-Overcrowded living conditions
-Asshole security guards
As for their second reason, “workers from different provinces with different cultural traditions coming together in a single factory have clashed over social issues or perceived slights.” This explains everything! Why didn’t anyone inform Foxconn that Chinese people are racist against Chinese people? I can just hear the hate slogans: “We keep taking all our jobs!” Man, I’d be pissed, too. As persuasive an argument that David Barboza and Keith Bradsher make, I can’t accept this for one simple fact. How could they hit anyone if they all look alike? Fuck around, and you might end up kicking your own ass! No, this just doesn’t add up. David Barboza and Keith Bradsher are not journalists. They write anti-worker bullshit to reassure rich cocksuckers that they won’t burn in hell with the rest of the slave masters. Let’s hear it instead from somebody who actually works there.
This worker says she makes less than a dollar an hour. That means for the price of hiring one Mexican illegally, you could get a whole fleet of Chinese workers. They probably wouldn’t bring their own gardening tools, but at least they wouldn’t be blasting mariachi music, right? Give and take, my friend, give and take. Honestly though, less than a dollar an hour? Even hobos begging for change make more than that and on a slow day. So who’s calling the shots? Let’s meet the piece of subhuman shit himself. Introducing Terry Gou, Chairman of Hong Hai Precision (mother company of Foxconn). According to Forbes, he rings up for a net worth of $6.3 billion dollars.
Apple has always modeled its corporate culture on having a somewhat hippy attitude. This most likely comes from founder, Steve Jobs, who is known to have dabbled with LSD and even encouraged others to fry balls in order to find groovy ways around creative obstacles. He is remembered for being a man of boundless ideas–that is, until he’s faced with the problem of human rights abuses in Apple assembly lines. It’s sort of weird seeing him go from guru to yabbering douche bag in under five seconds.
Straight from the horse’s mouth. The company knows what’s going on in the China factories. So what did Steve Jobs say in response to the suicide inducing work conditions? In so many words, he nicely said, “Fuck them. I’m rich, bitch.” At least that was my interpretation. Steve Jobs died a greedy $36.1 billion asshole. Anyone who can’t see that must be high on acid.
So what’s the point of all this? No, I’m not going to start advocating throwing away our iShit. I have all my music on iTunes, why the hell would I do that? Instead, I want you to remember the slogan, “Made in USA.” You have to remember it because it’s quickly becoming a relic of the past.
Virtually all Apple products are manufactured overseas by millions of workers like the ones at Foxconn then sold in the US at record breaking figures. What would those millions of jobs mean to Americans in hard times like now? When Apple was asked why it doesn’t manufacture in America, they gave a whole slew of how Chinese companies have out performed American craftsmanship and are more cost effective. On some level this is true, but it’s only possible by breaking the law. We have rights and regulations that protect us from things like “24-hour work shifts” and “less than a dollar an hour wage.” The solution has been to lobby (bribe) government officials in order to “relax” restrictions and create tax incentives for sending manufacturing jobs to other countries that tolerate labor abuse. America loses jobs, workers in other countries are exploited, you put the iShit on your credit card at marked-up interest rates, and the Board of Directors get their chubby little Christmas bonuses.
It’s these same people telling us, “Hey, nothing personal, just business.” They claim fixing the economy isn’t their problem, as if the sky high unemployment rates had nothing to do with the millions of jobs strategically shipped overseas. Yet, they wish for Americans to continue purchasing their products, for police officers to arrest the thieves who would rip off their merchandise, seek copyright protection and tax breaks under US laws, and the security of the United States’ armed forces.
These abusive economic practices hide behind deceptive terms such as “Free Trade.” It’s a global scam that amasses wealth in the hands of few at the expense of workers everywhere. Neoliberalism, as it is called, is transcending beyond Republican and Democrat party lines. Our government as a whole has been getting on the “profit over people” track. You have rights and interests as a worker. Those rights are being stripped away through a big business agenda who wish to have Foxconn conditions here at home.
The first thing you can do is simply be aware. Don’t rely exclusively on television to inform you. There are plenty of writers you can check out. I’d recommend Noam Chomsky as a great starting point. I hope you’ve enjoyed my introduction to Neoliberalism and Globalization. Now get back to your iLife.
Feel free to comment and question anything on this post. I’m always happy to recommend additional writers, books, and documentaries.