Posts tagged “downer

DC Has No May Day

Or, why the Institute for Policy Studies can eat shit.

I’ve often groused about how the activist millieu in DC is domesticated, low key and dead. Every event inevitably follows this formula: BORING SPEECH followed by THREE WORD CHANT, with ANNOYINGLY SERPENTINE MARCH that passes by OUTSIDE BORING OFFICE BUILDING, OUTSIDE BORING OFFICE BUILDING, OUTSIDE BORING OFFICE BUILDING, OUTSIDE BORING OFFICE BUILDING, winding up OUTSIDE BORING OFFICE BUILDING, with BORING SPEECH, THREE WORD CHANT, THREE WORD CHANT and BORING SPEECH. Sometimes, BORING SPEECH is interspersed with BORING FOLK MUSIC.

It’s almost as if all of these events are planned by the same central committee. We’ve long been frustrated and irritated by the presence of 501c(3) non-profit groups– they latch on to every movement and suck the life out of it. Suddenly, every event –no matter how grass-roots its origins– is handled like a goddamned rock concert, with backstage passes and VERY BUSY STAFFERS who are VERY IMPORTANT AND CANT TALK WITH YOU RIGHT NOW WOULD YOU KINDLY STEP AWAY FROM THE SPEAKERS. You have to butter these little shits up, too, or else they’ll do everything in their power to keep you from taking pictures or interviewing people.

Politics.

So it comes to pass that every activist event ends up following the same fucking script, with people on the street becoming so accustomed to the routine that they block it all out. The people of DC have acquired ninja-like prowess in dodging and brushing off bright, shiny-faced youth with pamphlets, and shitty, squawking bullhorns just blend into the white noise of the city. I know, you’re getting less than minimum wage to hand out fliers for an hour or two and it looks good on your curriculum vitae when you apply to another 501(c)3, but the people who told you to do this have no connection with the worker you’re slowing down who needs to catch the subway or else she’ll lose her minimum wage job.

This is why no one who lives in DC gives two shits about activism anymore, and why no one bothers to start anything. You’d think DC would be alive with political discourse on every corner, but it’s not. Everything has been domesticated. Tamed. Broken. Every movement, no matter what it is, will inevitably be co-opted by a large, well-funded nonprofit who will then move its own people into leadership positions in the original, grass-roots group. Or– as with the case of Occupy DC, where there is no leadership position– the nonprofits will createleadership positions with their own people already in the position; namely, the Institute for Policy Studies’ involvement with Occupy DC. We were looking up info about tomorrow’s May Day event at Malcolm X park, and saw this press release. That’s odd, Occupy is just supposed to DO THINGS, not have press agents and people who live in very expensive apartments in Alexandria.

“Who ARE these people?” “Hmm… they work for something… Institute for Policy Studies?” “INSTITUTE FOR POLICY STUDIES?! A FUCKING NON-PROF?!” “Yeah, fuck that shit, I’m not wasting my time on that crap.”

What DOES MayDay DC have planned, anyway? A carnival? A family friendly outing of happy, puffy, safe pablum that completely undercuts the serious nature of the entire goddamned 99% message? The right wing and corporatists are waging a very literal waron working people, dissidents and anyone who doesn’t fit into their narrow “God-Money-Empire” worldview, and the best way to demonstrate this is by having nonprofit staffers dress up in CLOWN COSTUMESfor a goddamned PARADE?

The common line of apologist bullshit from non-profits is that without the power of a nonprofit, they wouldn’t be able to pull in notable speakers or professional sound systems– which is probably they’ve had their sights set on Occupy since it first appeared. Think about it– a legitimately grass-roots movement that doesn’t want or need your fucking Genelec monitors that you can’t mix properly, and where speakers like Slavoj Zizek spent their own money to travel to and attend. Hell, DC may actually by a perfect example where right wing media may have had its baseless propaganda finally hit a mark: a rich, well-funded group of flatulent, old “establishment leftists” really have taken over the activist scene in DC.

The major difference between what Institute for Policy Studies does and what Americans for Prosperity does is AFP has the backing of the Koch brothers’ billions, and IPS only has donations from a few well-off people from left-of-center. Either way, both of these abominations are the very definition of astro-turf political movements. Nothing of any journalistic importance will happen at Malcolm X park tomorrow, and I’m certainly not going to risk my brand new camera and lenses to cover a fucking astro-turf event that’s already being photographed by talentless hacks working for a fucking non-profit. Fuck that shit.

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Sad Truisms For Life In The West

– Your thoughts are your own, unless they are of interest to marketing firms.

– You may believe whatever you want to believe, as long as those deviant thoughts reside solely in your mind. You are free to believe anything, even things that are divergent from the white, christian, capitalist male power structure– but do not act upon them. “Acting upon them” is defined as anything requiring more effort than is required to close the browser window in which said deviant philosophies reside. Penalties may range from light ridicule to several years incarceration.

– You have the right to petition the government for redress of grievances, unless these grievances are with any federal law-enforcement agency. In order to save taxpayer money, your grievance will be summarily dismissed in order to dispense with the tedious process of making federal agents appear in court, considering that no judge will ever rule against any federal law enforcement agency or its employees. If in fact your grievance does not involve a federal law enforcement agency, you have the right to have your grievance heard and subsequently dismissed after a long and costly pre-trial process.

-You have the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. If you have a badge, you have the right to other people’s lives, liberties and actual happiness.


I just don’t get apocalyptic Christianity.

So, Partner and I were driving around, and we saw this completely cheesy sign for a church calling itself Mountain of Fire and Miracles Ministry. I looked it up, and it comes across like the same type of scam church that Sarah Palin’s involved with: demonic possession, witchcraft, gays are satanic, et cetera. They’re one of a plethora of Christian movements out of Africa (Nigeria, in this case)– a subject that requires its own piece– but what’s most interesting is that they have a ministry group calling itself “God’s Violent Army” that drapes itself in, well, violent rhetoric:

“Praise God, Its time for the equipping of the saints and trainings warriors for the end times. Teaching you to take it by force. The bible says “from the days of John the Baptist the Kingdom of Heaven suffereth violence and the violent taketh it by force’ …… We’re equiping people that will be a terror to the kingdom of darkness.”

Sure, we can take this two ways, that all of this is metaphorical and they’re talking about waging “spiritual warfare” against Satan, and their violent acts constitute fervent praying– but this sort of rhetoric is only a few minute changes from being applied to less esoteric and far more prosaic matters. Suddenly, Satan manifests itself in a physical form, and there’s a ready crop of True Believers ready to wage a very literal violent struggle against this embodiment of evil. This pattern appears time and again in religious movements when some external presence applies stress to the workings of the group, such as was the case of the Vatican waging war against “satanic” states that did not bend to its will, or when certain cults attracted federal investigations.

Of course, Satan is very real to the True Believers in these cults because of constant reinforcement of popularly accepted suggestion. It’s easy to see how this works: you go to a prayer meeting receptive to the idea that you’ll see an actual miracle happen in front of your eyes– and because you turn off your skepticism and are ready to believe, a Verifiable Miracle *does* happen right before you. This allows you to grant power and authority to the minister, preacher or whoever is in charge of the prayer meeting, because, after all, they performed a Verifiable Miracle, and who are you to oppose them? As these authority figures now speak for the authority of God Himself, you’re led down the path of believing everything they say, because as these authority figures are only repeating the Word Of God verbatim, it must be Truth. It’s then that people are most susceptible to being convinced that some bloated, bureaucratic government agency is the right arm of Satan himself and must be violently resisted in order to avoid having one’s soul devoured and their family cursed for seven generations. Hence, Jonestown residents had to drink the Flavor-Aid to save their souls from the US Government and $cientology had to declare open season on its critics.

The reason for this sticking in my craw might just be a cultural discrepancy– mainstream churches here simply don’t advertise the fact that they have prayer groups calling themselves “God’s Violent Army” and this sort of rhetoric may be commonly accepted in Nigeria. What’s causing concern in my mind is the obvious similarity in titles and subject matter between this group and the infamous “Lord’s Resistance Army” of Uganda, whose rhetoric is also heavy on the apocalyptic end-times Christianity stuff. The major difference–so far, anyway– is that “God’s Violent Army” isn’t a heavily armed paramilitary army that’s guilty of an endless list of war crimes.

I should really start reading more about the history of post-colonial Africa. That continent has been used as a puppet and proxy for other world powers for so long I shouldn’t be surprised that the socio-political climate is far more complex than anyone can comprehend.


Call Me A Fucking Killjoy Already

Captain of the losing team could not be reached for comment

Well, here then is a predictable missive about how this is just another episode in the gigantic fantasy television play that is our life. Perfectly scripted. Of couse, I’m playing my part too, offering up the joykilling skepticism that exists to temper the runaway exuberance of our team winning the championship or cup or golden calf. Look, life, even in its most unpredictable moments, is still predictable. We have a few centuries of written data to suggest how we as a whole and we as individuals might respond in certain situations, so this coming predictability was predictable in and of itself. Meta-predictability. What a world.

I have watched too many B-movies about dystopian futures to not know how this will all play out:
-Media will produce more analyses and “ground breaking exclusives” within the space of a week than there are hours in a month.
-Game studios will break their fucking necks to produce Call Of Duty: Abbottabad
-Two big movie studios will produce documentary-style “adapted from true events” feature films about this, while every other studio will scramble to produce formulaic Rambo-style movies where one oily muscleman kills every terrorist in the world with his glistening pecs. The only difference will be the amount of tannerite and gasoline used in the explosions.
-Pundits and other people who are paid to emit noises for an hour while a camera is pointed at them will argue the merits of not torturing Osama to death, not being brutal enough, and how the entirety of western society is wholly in the pocket of Islam because the SEAL team of professional killers acted as professions would be expected to act and handled the body according to Islamic law.
-Good ol’ boys will drink just enough sterno to get their dander up, finally figger out that since th’ moozlimes aint got thr pope leader feller no more, they be all set t’ tell them ragheads what done fired em from the gas station what fer. They will display true Aryan courage and virtue by drunkenly blundering up to their local mosque or masjid and scrawling hateful messages that would be truly threatening if they were only spelled correctly. Perhaps one of these proud pro-democracy vanguardists will attempt to set fire to or otherwise vandalize these inanimate buildings, in their delirium that destroying a building really does damage a thought process.
-The streets will be filled with people who are generally apolitical, but in the absence of a winning sports team have a deep need to satisfy their desire to hoot and holler while hanging from lightposts.

Obama’s speech wasn’t very long. Given to a quiet room of cameras, the local stations have already taken Obama’s speech and mixed in cheering and crowd noises. I’m certain the crowd singing the National Anthem had absolutely nothing (read: absolutely everything) to do with its placement in the background of one of the slower portions the speech. The packaging and shrink-wrapping has begun even before Osama’s exit wounds have had time to cool. Here’s your Enemy Of Democracy ™, packed when picked to preserve flavor and freshness. Fine execution, although I could wish for the news stations to hire producers with a little more mixing acumen; whomever WTOP has as its overnight producer apparently couldn’t stop masturbating with a flag long enough to wipe his patriotic red-white-and-blue jism off the console to realize that a crowd of a thousand drunken frat boys chanting U S A detracted from the overall gravity of the statement. Oh well, that’s what you get. Next time.

This will be the summer of victory parades, with the Decisive Event happening right on schedule before the start of summer. This way, the National Mall can be packed full of Authentic Military Gadgets before the summer heat can set in. Muncie, Zanesville, San Jon and Rolla can all have their own National Days where everyone can feel good about waving a flag again.

The heat will come. The thunderstorms will wash out the humidity and the pollen, the sun will shine and the earth will continue to rotate about its axis.